I typically don’t comment on a WW post, but I’m making an exception today. I hope that you’ll take a moment and tell me what special subjects you’d like to see discussed and debated here in 2009. What would you like to learn? Is there anything special that you would like Richard to address? And anything else that’s on your mind. Beyond that, I’d like to wish you a happy, healthy 2009, filled with peace and economic turn around. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a special edition of mY Space and I’ll see you all on January 2, 2009!
Yesterday I said, “…there’s a lot of latitude in what one chooses to know,” and listed four barriers; I also said that we’d talk about
I promised to offer up some ideas on how to hear past the four barriers to knowing, but you need to recognize that no matter how many tools you have, hearing is still a part of your MAP and you may find it necessary to modify your MAP in order to these or any other tool.
Barrier 1 Information disagrees with your ideology or world-view: Probably the best example of this barrier is found in the US Supreme Court. To perform their duties correctly the justices are supposed to interpret the US Constitution without reference to their personal philosophy. If you’ve ever followed the confirmation hearings you know how unlikely this is to happen.
To overcome it, or at least be aware of your prejudices, you need to take a step backwards and really listen to those around you. Seek out people whose ideologies are different than yours and get their interpretation. Yes, theirs will also be biased, but by putting all of them together you’ll start to see a full 360 degree view.
Barrier 2 Information is presented by the opposition, someone you dislike or with whom you disagree: Remember the common advice when someone says something mean to you? “Consider the source of the comment before you consider what was actually said.” Good advice, but dangerous to do unconsciously.
That’s the key to avoiding this barrier—banish unconscious and replace it with hyper-conscious, which is easier than you might think. Typically people know when someone meets any of these criteria, but in the interest of ‘getting along’ they bury the feeling and teach themselves to ignore it. The problem is that it doesn’t go away and continues to color any interactions. But if you embrace the feeling consciously and then separate it from the information received you are far more likely to be able to evaluate it objectively.
Barrier 3 Information conflicts with your personal agenda/goals: The most obvious example of this is the Wall Street meltdown. Business was driven strictly be a goal to raise profit thereby increasing bonuses; any information that derailed that was ignored.
On one level this one is easy; you need to be brutally honest with yourself regarding exactly what you’re after, although you don’t need to share the information with anyone else. Along with a brutally honest vision of your goal, you need to determine to what lengths you’ll go to achieve it. Finally, you need to decide whether all of that agrees with your ethical structure, the persona you want to project and the legacy you want to leave behind you.
Barrier 4 information is inconvenient or annoying: Remember the old saying, “don’t confuse me with facts?” When things are going well, or a decision has been made, it’s very tempting to ignore anything that might upset the applecart. In part, this is what happened in the sub prime fiasco.
Overcoming it means forcing yourself to keep an open mind, always accepting and evaluating new information as if the decision hasn’t yet been made and then integrating it into your model. If the result is substantially different from the prior result, then you need to look for additional information that either confirms or refutes the need for modification or outright change.
Cultivating these tool will prove useful in all parts of your life. They can even help you build a reputation for achieving where others fail.
This is the final post in the Evolution of Business series and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Evolution offers a wealth of ideas for companies looking to survive in the marketplace; but these four simple guidelines will provide a solid starting point for innovation and growth.
Deliver complete results. Every single organism must compete in every generation. Incomplete organisms, or prototype products, simply will not survive. Drive your teams to deliver complete tests, even when the tests are very limited. Push every test to complete something. The best tests connect directly with the customers. In evolutionary terms, every organism must survive in the environment. Make sure your experiments survive in your market environment.
Measure Everything. Change without a direction is simply chaos, but you cannot guess effective directions for change. As much as you may want to lead or direct the change, it won’t work. Give up, let go, and simply measure everything. The results will point the way to effective change.
Cycle swiftly. Run short, fast tests. Some software development teams compile the entire product every day. This discipline forces the development teams to deliver complete results on a daily basis.
Connect with your customers. They are the ultimate arbiters of your products/services and the source of your survival. Go out of your office to meet with them and live with them. Bring them in-house to live with your teams. Closer, deeper connections with your customers will drive faster, better development.
Best wishes and great success in your evolution and growth in 2009!
A couple of weeks ago, Steven Pearlstein said, “Their leadership failure was a big part of the story of how we got into this mess…a number of executives have complained that this indictment is both too broad and too harsh. Given what was known at the time and the competitive and legal pressures that come to bear in these situations, they believe their actions and judgments were reasonable.”
“I didn’t know…” is America’s favorite excuse, although it won’t hold up in a court of law; ignorantia legis neminem excusat (ignorance of the law excuses no one) dates back to Roman times.
The operative word is ‘know’ and, unfortunately, there’s a lot of latitude in what one chooses to know.
People don’t know anything that
disagrees with their ideology or world-view;
is presented by the opposition or those with whom they disagree;
conflicts with their personal goals/agenda; or is
inconvenient or annoying.
The irony is that Wall Street’s leaders really didn’t know—for all the above reasons.
If you truly want to lead—yourself, your family, a company or any other organization—than it’s your responsibility to not just listen, but also to hear past all those reasons.
We’ll talk more about how to do this in tomorrow’s Ducks In A Row post.
Great post by Steve Roesler over at All Things Workplace on How Age Impacts Your View of Life. It focuses on satisfaction and expectations at various stages of life. Click over, it’s well worth reading.
But what I wanted to discuss here today appeared near the end of the post.
“During the past few years we’ve seen the headlines for Talent Wars, Saving Institutional Knowledge and Learning, and Diversity. My experience so far with recent layoffs has been that workers nearing retirement are being offered packages to accelerate their decisions…I wonder if the decision-making maturity and collective knowledge of these newly “retired” workers will be irreplaceable and actually prompt a lengthening of the recovery process.”
Steve’s got a point about the recovery, but what if this mess hadn’t happened?
What if a normal down cycle had occurred? One that didn’t go global with the same vengeance; one that required only spotty realignment as opposed to wholesale layoffs.
Worker demographics have been a global concern for over a decade, but the MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) and the corresponding skills needed to manage a multigenerational workforce haven’t improved nearly as much as was hoped.
Why? Is there a root to the problem (challenge, if you prefer) that should be addressed, but isn’t?
I have an idea about the root, tell me what you think.
I believe that one large piece of this problem stems from the relationship of parents and children and the difficulty of letting go and changing the paradigms.
Notice that ‘paradigm’ is plural, since there are several going on simultaneously; the major ones are
older (parent), younger (child);
peer (siblings/relatives) to peer;
older (sibling/relative), younger (sibling/relative) and vice versa,
but there are multiple other minor configurations.
What I’ve found is that although there is no family involved, for many people the interaction styles are habitual, unconscious and happen across all ages with no discernible pattern.
If, in fact, this is a root problem how do we fix it? Other than a one-at-a-time approach I have no idea.
What are your thoughts regarding the validity of my hypothesis? What ideas do you have to address it?
Wow! Just three more days and it will be New Years Eve. And that means you have a choice to make.
Either you think of something intelligent to say when you raise your glass at midnight or you need to be so drunk no one will expect you to say anything, let alone something intelligent.
In case you’re planning on the first choice and need creative input, here you go…
The first two are for events that involve less booze, more formality and the impression for which you’re striving is that of deep thinker.
“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” Bill Vaughn (Which are you?)
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Hal Borland (I can quantify my experience, but I’m not sure any of it translates into actual wisdom.)
However, if you’re at one where things are looser, the spirits excessive and your goal is to generate laughter and impress that gal/guy you just met turn the conversation to resolutions and then use one of these.
“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.” Anon (Yup, that’s why I stopped making them.)
“He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool.” F.M. Knowles (That’s me, a foolish weakling—see above.)
My final offering should make everybody happy. It’s good in any circumstances and really does exemplify the transition from experience to wisdom—and it’s experience that almost everybody has.
“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” Anon (Pure wisdom!)
What are your favorite New Year’s sayings? Why not take pity on others and add them in comments? Choice is good and your additions will increase it.
Just two links for your pleasure, today, but each hold more than two goodies.
First we have The Best of BNET 2008. It includes links to their best stories, as well as videos and podcasts. Dig around; I think you’ll enjoy it.
Next, for my tech-oriented readers, are The Hottest Tech Developments of 2009 from Business Week. Yes, I’m sure there are more detailed lists, but you don’t need a tech education to enjoy this quick look at OS software.
That’s it for Odd Bits this year. Don’t forget to share any interesting odd bit links you have in comments or send them to me and I’ll use them to the next Odd Bits post. (You’ll find contact information in the right column.)
The end of the year is all about wrap-ups, so why fight the trend? So here are two detailing the best and the worst leaders and one fun one about you.
First is John Baldoni’s Awards for Poor Leadership along with his reasoning. Hopefully Baldoni doesn’t consider this list complete when it barely scratches the surface, but it’s an interesting sampling from several different arenas.
Then comes glassdoor.com’s employee-generated top 10 list of “naughty and nice” CEOs—naughty having the highest disapproval ratings while nice had the opposite.