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Golden Oldies: Change Starts with the Boss

Monday, September 18th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I think the best commentary on this post comes from a comment on the original that validates it.

You just nailed the main issue with failed change efforts. Change starts in the head (pun intended. . .). Many times when I’m brought into a company, bosses want me to help change everybody else but them. Doesn’t work!

It always amazes me how bosses are more willing to waste money than to change their thinking and behavior. The trick is how to find a way to help bosses see the ROI of changing the way they think and behave before trying to embed those changes throughout their organization.

Great post! – Dr. Ada Gonzalez

No one ever said change is easy and it’s still harder when it is your MAP that needs to change, but it is possible. More on change during the week.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

The thing she [behavioral psychologist] taught me—and this sounds obvious—is that behavior is a function of consequence.  We had to change the behavior in the organization so that people felt safe to bring bad news. And I looked in the mirror, and I realized I was part of the problem.  I didn’t want to hear the bad news, either. So I had to change how I behaved, and start to thank people for bringing me bad news.Joseph Jimenez, chief executive of Novartis

The behavioral psychologist was brought in after a consulting group was paid to provide “better, more robust process, with more analytics,” which changed nothing.

When we started RampUp Solutions in 1999, we spent a good deal of effort coming up with a tag line that easily explained the services we provide.

After several iterations we finally settled on “To change what they do change how you think”

Over the years, I’ve heard and read story after story of how all kinds of changes—from turnarounds to improved productivity to retention — all started with a change in the way the boss thought.

And that applied whether the boss was CEO, team leader or somewhere in-between.

Stories and discussions about change tend to focus on the actions that bring about the changes, instead of starting at the beginning with the hardest work.4222820626_8089f3a13b_m

Work that requires the boss, at whatever level, changing the way they thinks and then dispersing and embedding those changes throughout their organization.

So before you hire expensive consultants or seek help from advisors look in the mirror to determine how much of the problem is you.

Image credit: manymeez

Golden Oldies: If the Shoe Fits: Influencers

Monday, September 11th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

It used to be said that a person was “influential” — these days they are “influencers.” Are the terms synonymous? Can they really be used interchangeably? I don’t think so, and plan to enlarge on the differences over the next two days.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mInfluence isn’t about your online ranking or the strength of your brand, although they contribute.

Influence is about effect.

The effect your words or actions have on those exposed to them.

Yesterday I linked to an article in which Penelope Trunk said that it’s a bad idea for founders to be of different genders and because of her influence dozens of founders are probably rethinking their startup plans.

There is a common arrogance among influencers to generalize their opinion and present it as fact applicable to all. Typically, the more successful the influencer the greater the arrogance.

But from day one every founder has influence, before success and beyond the expected, so even a casual word can cause trouble.

A founder CEO I know, whose original education years before was engineering, had a habit of occasionally strolling through engineering to see what was going on.

One day he commented that he wouldn’t do a design the way the team was doing it. It was a casual, throw-away comment, one he had forgotten five minutes later, but it devastated the design team.

The CEO had no clue to the havoc he wrought and it took the vp of engineering, who was co-founder, hours to settle them down. He then told the CEO not to talk to the team and banned him from the department.

What those on the receiving end of influencers need to realize is that no matter how brilliant or experienced someone is they are still voicing an opinion.

And as valuable as the opinion may be, it should never be swallowed whole, because opinions are subjective.

They are the product of that individual’s MAP, which itself is a product of upbringing and experience. Even someone else having exactly the same background and experience would not have identical MAP because each person processes differently and has different inherent characteristics.

Influence comes with responsibilities—how well do you handle yours?

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ducks in a Row: The Secret Of Good Process

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/4455027620/Continuing yesterday’s conversation regarding the need for good process in every size organization — the key word being “good.”

Good process, like all good things, starts with its ability to change, which, in turn, enables all kinds of good stuff.

Process won’t calcify if questioning fundamentals and avoiding the tradition trap is baked into your company DNA and you don’t forget that there are no absolutes.

Just as MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) is the why, process is the how.

And because MAP is constantly growing and changing, process must constantly develop to support it.

In short, process changes to make things happen, whereas bureaucracy is carved in stone and stops them.

Image credit: Dennis Jarvis

Golden Oldies: The Abuse Of Authenticity

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

“…that’s the way I am” How many times have you heard it? How many times have you said it? Is it valid? How much damage does it do?

Read other Golden Oldies here.

no-excuseMAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) is a wonderful thing, encompassing as it does everything that makes you you.

MAP is also the great excuse, the adult version of the “because I said so” people use on their kids.

How often, when asked why you do X, have you responded “because that’s the way I am.”

Organizations have two versions, “not-invented-here” and “we’ve always done it that way.”

Whether individual or company, both use them to avoid innovation, change and disturbing their comfort zone.

But at what cost?

Marshall Goldsmith calls it an excessive need to be me and tells the story of a CEO who was lauded in other areas, but refused to provide positive feedback because it wasn’t him and would, therefore, be phony.

The example isn’t as extreme as you might think. I’ve talked with many executives, managers and workers who use authenticity as their reason not to change their MAP.

And because authenticity is hot, it’s the perfect excuse for not tackling the root causes of whatever needs to change, although, as with most excuses, it doesn’t hold up well to the light of honest, intelligent analysis.

But what do you analyze; how do you know what to change?

Take feedback from your colleagues, team and customers; then take a hard look whenever the answer to “Why?” is some variation of the reasons mentioned earlier.

Then think it through; ask yourself if there is a real, rational reason to stay that way or if it’s something that would be better to change,

And remember, whether individual or company, the most powerful reason for changing MAP is that doing so pays off handsomely, as the CEO in Marshall’s story learned.

Image credit: pattista on flickr

3 Steps To Being A Great Boss

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

http://www.flickr.com/photos/samchurchill/4182826573/

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want to be considered a great boss by their people from the time they receive that first promotion to the time they finally retire.

It doesn’t matter if they work for a giant corporation, start a company or run a small biz, they want to perceived as a great boss.

The problem is that there is so much advice as to what a great boss is to how to become one that accomplishing it can get lost in the effort.

That’s especially true since much of the advice out there is conflicting — whether with other advice or your own MAP.

Happily, there’s a simple answer to the what part of the question: a great boss is one for whom people want to work.

Period.

The how is accomplished in 3 simple steps.

  1. List the five most important things that you always wanted your manager to do for you.
  2. List the five most important ways in which you always wanted to be treated. (If you no longer have a manager think back to when you did.
  3. Do them for your own team.

Most people who do this learn two surprising facts.

  1. Most of the 10 require no additional budget and can be implemented by bosses at any level.
  2. You will attract and retain people looking for the same things that you wanted from your boss.

They also learn 3 surprising truths.

  1. They don’t like the people who like working for them.
  2. MAP is impossible to sustainably fake.
  3. People are smart. It won’t take long for new hires to recognize that one or more of the 10 are faked and they will leave.

Image credit: Sam Churchill

Golden Oldies: The Secret of Improving

Monday, December 5th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

The year is nearly over, so I thought I’d focus the next few weeks on personal growth.

The principle of I/O as applied to ourselves is frequently overlooked as we search role models, gurus and pundits in efforts to grow and  improve.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/findyoursearch/5034002771/Personal and professional growth is a major focus for most people—that’s one of the reasons you’re reading this blog.

We research, dissect, write, discuss, preach, teach, and study, all with the goal of improving ourselves.

No matter what you seek to learn/improve think of yourself as a computer.

Huh?

In computing, the term I/O refers to input, whatever is received by the system, and output, that which results from the processing.

Programmers know that the results coming out of the computer won’t be any better than the information given it and this phenomenon is known as “garbage in/garbage out.”

And there you have the secret.

No matter if it’s career-related, relationship-focused, personal-internal or something else, I/O applies to everything in life.

What comes out is a function of what you put in.

Blindly accepting everything offered by even the most brilliant source will result in garbage out at some point.

Learning/improving requires critical thinking on your part—no one person, past, present or future, has all the answers.

You need to evaluate the available information, take a bit from here and a bit from there, apply it to your situation and, like a computer, process it.

The result will be at least slightly different from what you started with, because you’ve added the flavor of your own life experiences, knowledge and MAP to the mix—and that’s good, it shouldn’t be an exact copy.

Because, as Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

Flickr image credit: FindYourSearch

If the Shoe Fits: Is It Really Failure?

Friday, October 28th, 2016

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mA post on Medium from Alexis Tryon considers something that many entrepreneurs face, i.e., if your company fails are you a failure, too? She puts it like this.

If Alex = Artsicle
& Artsicle = Failure
then Alex = Failure

I saw this happen decades ago during every downturn and each resulting layoff. It happened to many people at Enron and other corporate debacles.

Not just to founders/executives/managers, but to workers at all levels.

And I spent enough time coaching, encouraging and working with them that I coined a term for it.

I called it ego-merge.

I’ve written about it several times, how to avoid it in 2010, not making your company or position your identity (which is what Alexis did), along with a way to combat it in 2013.

As bad as ego-merge is for “regular” people, it is much worse for entrepreneurs.

That said, they also have a psychological advantage in dealing with it, since if they didn’t have more-than-normal grit to start with they wouldn’t have become entrepreneurs in the first place.

Also, real failure isn’t about getting knocked down.

It’s only real if you don’t get up.

Hat tip to CB Insights for pointing me to Alexis’ post.)

Image credit: HikingArtist

Golden Oldies: A Simple Productivity Secret for Managers

Monday, June 20th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

We all know change is the only constant, but is change linear? Does everyone see changes the same way? Does it even matter? And if it does matter, how does it affect your work as a manager? Read other Golden Oldies here

jump_vectorsThe other day I said to a friend that I’ve turned into a real wimp. He thought I was kidding and said that I was the last person he associated with wimping out on anything.

I was surprised, but as we discussed it I realized that what I saw as wimpiness he saw as strength.

That got me to thinking how often what one person calls wimping out may be another person’s greatest act of courage. Likewise, what moves one person can leave another cold.

It’s all relative depending on your MAP, the circumstances and even the mood you’re in.

Sounds obvious, but it’s important knowledge, not information, but knowledge—maybe even wisdom—for any person responsible for motivating others, whether at work or in everyday life.

Image credit: nookiez CC license

Golden Oldies: Are You an Original or a Copy?

Monday, February 29th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time. Read other Golden Oldies here.

Are you and original or crowdsourced?

I’ve always been an original, much to my family’s consternation when I was growing up and to friends, bosses and colleagues since.

Being an original isn’t the easy way to go. It’s far more comfortable to be a copy; to follow without question the ideology, religion, parents, friends—anyone or anything that takes away the fear of making the wrong choice.

I don’t remember feeling scared as I careened through my early life taking sometimes crazy risks, but never without doing worst case analysis first.

I even adopted Frank Sinatra’s My Way as my personal theme.


FRANK SINATRA – MY WAY (FROM THE ROYAL FESTIVAL… by Mukhran

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows –
And did it my way!

Do you have a theme for your life?

Or do you need to ask your friends?

Golden Oldies: Mine’s Bigger Than Yours

Monday, January 25th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time. Read other Golden Oldies here

no_guarantee

I’m no happier about the AIG and other bonuses paid to screwed up Wall Street banks, but I’m not sure why any of us are surprised.

“In the largest 25 corporate bankruptcies between 1999 and 2002, while hundreds of billions of dollars of investor wealth and over 100,000 jobs disappeared, the Financial Times found the “barons of bankruptcy” made off with $3.3 billion.”

Giant compensation packages, guaranteed bonuses and platinum parachutes are excused by Boards and executives as necessary to attract the “best and brightest,” but here’s what’s really going on.

The ‘name’ demands outsize compensation/stock options/guaranteed bonus/etc. in order to validate their ‘brand’.

Those responsible for hiring not only meet the demands, but even exceed them in an effort to attain or sustain the company’s reputation as a better home for ‘stars’—the more stars you have the greater the bragging rights— mine’s bigger than yours in high school locker room talk.

Now let’s consider the folly of this attitude.

Those hiring often seek a name brand in the mistaken belief that the brand comes with a warranty that guarantees good results.

But no matter who you hire you’re actually paying for their past performance, which is always influenced by

  • circumstances—boss and company positioning in its market and industry
  • environment—culture and colleagues;

and let us not forget that minor factor

  • the economy.

The hiring mindset is that everything the brand accomplished was done in a total vacuum and dependent only on the brand’s own actions, therefore changing every single surrounding factor will have no impact on performance.

Put like that it sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it.

This is one of the prime reasons that so many CEOs bring their ‘own team’ over when they move, as do managers all the way down the food chain—they know they didn’t do it alone.

CEOs aren’t like movie and rock stars whose very names draw consumers into spending money—nobody ever bought a product from GE because Jack Welch was CEO, nor do they carry Jobs’ iPods—so why pay them that way?

Moreover, assuming that performance occurring during an expansion is a valid yardstick for performance in general, let alone a downturn, is sheer idiocy.

You have only to remember the difficulties faced by people whose management skills were honed between 1991 and 2000, the longest expansion in our history. When the recession hit in March of 2001 they had no experience whatsoever of how to drive revenue or manage in a down economy.

That recession and the previous one in 1990 lasted only 8 months each. The longest recession we’ve had was 2 years, January-July 1980 and July 1981-November 1982, and that one had a 12 month break in it. This means there are a very small number of managers with any actual experience managing in anything even close to what’s happening now.

The current recession officially started in December 2007, so it’s already 15 months old and the end isn’t in sight.

What experience makes these folks the ‘best and brightest’ for today’s world?

Just what the hell are companies still guaranteeing oversized compensation and exorbitant exit packages when now is definitely the time to pay for future performance—no guarantees.

Sad, isn’t it. Seven years and nothing’s changed, in fact, it’s gotten much worse.  

The wealth of the richest 62 people grew by more than half a trillion dollars in that last half-decade, while the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of people globally decreased by more than $1 trillion during the same period.

Image credit: flickr

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