501 – A recap for friends

It turns out I’ve now posted 501 posts in three years and twenty-six days since I launched this blog.

Wow!  501…no wonder I keep thinking I wrote posts on topics I haven’t covered yet (an error I hope to remedy soon) and it makes sense I keep finding posts that are treasures I want to re-gift to my friends.

I’ll get to new content for post 502.

Let’s get to the gifts:

For all the new readers: Refresher 1, Refresher 2, and Refresher 3

I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding, they learn by some other way–by rote or something.  Their knowledge is so fragile!” – Richard Feynman

For Tonya and Chelsea:  The One Man Show

For Darla: The Wolves Are Afraid and Life Outside the Fences

For Rob: Underpants Gnomes

For Suzie: When Did We Decide That?

For Abbie: You’re Never Done

For Daniel and Nicole: Who’s Who (in the Zoo)

For Jay (aka @roguepolymath): Your Peter Principle guest blog post (I figured it better to highlight your writing as many of my quotes of the week are copied from your tweets)

For Mike: The first strengths post, the third post on the blog

I wish I could dig the archives and find a gift for each of you.  I know there is just the right gift in there for your situation.

When you need a gift, a rant, a thought to perk you up after a rough day, just type a key word or two into the search box and see what comes up.  Chances are there will be something that pops up that surprises you.

For example, type in:

Quote = 236 posts

Excited = 26 posts

Passionate = 16 posts

Hate = 30 posts

Frustrated = 14 posts

Rant = 26 posts

Choose = 80 posts

Act = 246 posts

Now = 14 posts

Why not try? = 107 posts

Why not? 

 

 

 

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Almost Three Years

Engine for Change launched on 28 December 2009 with a short welcoming post.

Since then I’ve written more than 470 posts and Engine-for-Change.com has received more than 122,000 site visits.

I can only imagine what the next three years will hold for all of us who are driving change in a world that seems to need it now even more than ever.

If you’ve stopped waiting and started driving the changes you want, then please share this blog with your friends.

Often, all it takes to start someone on an amazing driving change journey is just the confidence of one friend saying, “I know you can do it.  Why not try?”

So, let’s celebrate almost three years of joyful blogging and let’s give the gift of driving change at Engine for Change this holiday season.

Who will you forward this post to today?

Epcot - 30th Celebration Finale

Jeff Krause via Compfight

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Award for Driving Change

Today I had the honor of receiving a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award from Captain Mark Whitney, Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF).  The award includes a medal, certificate, citation and lapel pin.  The citation read:

 Commander

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Presents

NAVY MERITORIOUS CIVILIAN SERVICE AWARD

to

Ms. April K. Mills

For service as set forth in the following

CITATION

For outstanding meritorious service as Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Guiding Coalition Managing Director.  Ms. Mills uses her initiative and creativity to keep the content and structure of the GC fresh and exciting.  She has enthusiastically supported a wide variety of initiatives and promoted the GC to other naval activities.  She excels in her capacity of support for those who need guidance and direction while using the GC framework.  Ms. Mills’ dedication and forward thinking have resulted in developing a contingent of employees who believe they can affect real change in their workplace, no matter what their title or pay grade.  By strongly believing that driving change is more effective than driving people to change, she has started shifting the way we think about transformation.  Her actions have brought great credit upon herself as well as Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

M. R. Whitney

Captain, U. S. Navy

Commander, PSNS & IMF

“…a contingent of employees who believe they can affect real change in their workplace, no matter what their title or pay grade.”  You, the people who spurred me on to start this blog way back in December 2009, you’re what makes me love my work.  In the first post I said,

Welcome to Engine-For-Change.com, my new weblog and site for all things related to helping you drive the personal, community or workplace change you want.  In the coming days, weeks, months, years (eek!) I’ll tell you stories, share thoughts and insights, and–I hope–keep you coming back to read more.

Welcome to all my old friends and my co-workers.  Now we’ll finally have a place to store all those stories I tell you over and over again.

Welcome to all new arrivals.  I hope you’ll find some information here worth using and worth sharing.  I can’t promise genius (for that see Seth Godin’s blog), just a willing and open heart committed to sharing what I’ve found works in making the best of my workplace, community, family and me.

Let’s get started.

Since then we’ve been doing amazing things together.  Thank you for your friendship, your hard work, your hilarity, and your love.  I’m awed by this award, grateful for the opportunity to do work that matters, and optimistic about all that is before us.

Let’s keep driving change together.

Clearly we’re doing something right.  Why not try some more?

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On video

Check out this link at Vimeo to see a video of the first five minutes of my presentation at the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization (TOCICO) conference in New York in June.

I hope the five minute tease will be enough to motivate you to buy the DVD with the full one hour presentation or buy access to the video at TOCTV.

For those readers at PSNS & IMF, I have a copy of the video. Just e-mail me at work to arrange a viewing.

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Great job 2011 Guiding Coalition!

[Below is my open letter to the PSNS & IMF 2011 Guiding Coalition since I’m out on maternity leave and can’t be there with them at their last meeting of the year.]

Dear 2011 Guiding Coalition members –

Each year brings its own wins and challenges.  This year you saw many of both.  We had several firsts.  The first three lead team.  The first team to split into sub-teams and then split again.  I never thought we’d find a topic more broad and hard to define than Communications, but we managed to with Develop the Future and we generated wins.  We got into the “work” of the organization further than we had before when we took on Work Practice Innovation and we learned a lot about how to approach the hierarchy with important “work” changes.

You have taken the Guiding Coalition model beyond our 2010 best, made it through past Dennis’ departure, and put up with an ever growing and ever tiring program helper in me.  Thank you for your willing spirits, your joyful energy, and your hopefulness in the future of the organization.

Each of you has left your stamp on the organization.  It is changed because of the work you’ve done.  Many people can look back on a year and say they have done their job.  Few can look back and clearly see that they have made a meaningful difference.  Treasure that perspective on your year, because you earned that look back with every hard step you took.

Many of you are departing the Guiding Coalition in 2012, but I know you won’t be far away.  Take with you what you’ve learned about driving change.  Use your skills to make a larger and larger difference wherever you set your eyes, be that with a 2012 Guiding Coalition team or in your own work group, department or even your personal life or volunteer work.  Thank you for everything.  I’m better for having known you and worked with you.  Great job all!

All my best – April

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Breaking the Clip Art Barrier

Today I broke the clip art barrier.

What, you ask, is the clip art barrier?

It is the limited supply of silly clip art that comes with a standard Microsoft Office package that acts as a barrier between the idea you want to share and actually sharing it.  I want a working man with a light bulb above his head.  All I can find is clip art of a man in a necktie holding a lightning bolt.  Close, but so far away.

I used to live a life trapped within the clip art barrier because I’m not much for stealing clip art off of the Internet and we don’t have a clip art subscription at work (that I know of).  Finally today I could take the suffering no longer and I devised a plan to use my Back of the Napkin skills and my coworker’s scanner to create my own lovely stick figure drawings perfectly suited to conveying my ideas.

Once I committed myself to breaking through the barrier I found the process surprisingly simple, so much so that I must share that process with you now.  All you’ll need to follow me across the barrier is a recent version of Office with Picture Manager and a scanner.  Here are the details:

1. Freehand sketch a picture of your concept or idea.

2. Scan the drawing into your computer.

3. Open the scanned picture file and zoom in or out so the whole picture fits on your screen.

4. Hit print screen.

5. Open Microsoft Picture Manager

6. Right click and select Paste

7. Edit the image to crop out everything except your fabulous freehand sketch.

8. Save the picture.

9. Paste the new picture file into your document, blog post, PowerPoint slide (Ugh! I hate PowerPoint) or any other file.

10.  Enjoy life beyond the clip art barrier.

Total time to produce a picture that was just what I wanted: 5 minutes.

Total time wasted searching the Office clip art catalog for a picture that was passable for my idea before I settled on breaking the barrier: 20 minutes.

Just the efficiency improvement alone is impressive, never minding the effectiveness improvement.

Maybe life on the other side of the clip art barrier isn’t for everyone, but today I learned it is for me.

Why not try life over here? You just might like it.

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A win when you need it

An interesting by-product of developing a culture where people notice and celebrate wins is that people will share wins with you just at the times you most need them.

Today, I was having a rough afternoon.  My energy was down.  My mind was frustrated.  I was in a small pit of despair.

Just then, a coworker came by to share with me the most wonderful wins.  She felt compelled to right then tell me all sorts of good news.  Her visit recharged my spirit at the exact moment I needed to be recharged.

If you don’t have a driving change culture, the chances for a random visit from a coworker choked full of wins are so low you’d have better luck playing the lottery.

I know I’m truly blessed.

Thanks to all of those driving change with me.

We are supporting each other along the way and we are making a big difference.

Keep driving change!

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Donuts and Monkeys

We have a tradition at work called the Donut Offense.  You receive a Donut Offense from your peers whenever a list of good or bad things happens to you.  The list includes: have a baby, get your picture in the paper, win an award, forget your badge at home.  Once you receive a Donut Offense, much like receiving a speeding ticket, you are required to pay your fine.  You can guess what the fine is for a Donut Offense. Yep. It’s donuts for your entire work group.

The history of the Donut Offense is long and storied in our workplace with some groups publishing elaborate lists of offenses and posting them prominently in their work areas. Others stick to the simple list similar to the offenses above.   Either way, the Donut Offense is everywhere and no one knows when it started or why.

What troubles me about this tradition is the way it influences individuals to either shy away from success or face punishment.

Last week for example, an award presentation was haunted with Donut Offenses hurled at the award winner, the coworker who nominated her for the award and the bystanders in the room who might–just might–be in the pictures in the work newspaper.  What should have been a joyous occasion unblemished by threats was filled with symbolic tickets against the winner, coworker and group happiness.  No one likes a cop writing tickets at a party.

My attempts at unraveling the Donut Offense’s power over the organization always leads me to the experiment with the monkeys, the fire hose and the banana. It is a fabulous experiment highlighting how quickly groups can take on and perpetuate destructive behaviors.

The experiment goes roughly like this:

  • Put five monkeys in a cage.
  • Add a ladder and a banana at the top of the ladder.
  • When one monkey goes for the banana, spray all the monkeys with a fire hose.
  • Repeat as necessary, watching the monkeys learn to yank down any monkey who even tries to go for the banana.  Soon you won’t have to use the fire hose to keep the monkeys away from the banana.  They will keep each other from reaching the prize.
  • Slowly swap one monkey out for a new monkey who has never seen the fire hose, but learns through mimicking the others to pull down any monkey that goes for the banana.
  • Repeat the swap until all five original monkeys are gone and no monkey in the cage has ever seen the fire hose.  They will continue to pull at any monkey who tries for the banana.

Maybe you don’t have the Donut Offense at your organization, but I bet you have some tradition that is equally as destructive to joy.

Has that tradition stopped you from celebrating a success, from sharing your joy or telling your story to others?

Stop being a scared monkey.  The fire hose is gone.  It’s time to go for the banana.

Why not try?

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Personal win

Last Friday, I was honored to be recognized by my employer, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) as one of the twenty or so Employee of the Year award winners.  My award came in the category of Professional Command Support.  Here’s the citation that was read at the ceremony,

April is recognized for her exceptional efforts facilitating the Command’s highly-successful 2009-2010 Guiding Coalition.  Her zest of promoting the Guiding Coalition concept has resulted in a transformation in the way we think about change as well as educating other activities on the benefits of driving change versus driving people to change.  By focusing on the results, celebrating all wins and creating an atmosphere of hopefulness, April has shifted the way PSNS & IMF thinks about transformation.”

A good friend wrote the citation. I love the fact she chose the words “zest” and “hopefulness.”  I’m proud to be known by those words.

Thanks to all my friends, family and Engine-for-Change readers who have offered me congratulations over the past few days.  I treasure the opportunities I have to work with, learn with, and drive change with you.  We are making a real difference, and it seems people are noticing.

Thanks again for all you do, as you are proving that driving change works.

All my best – April

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