Temporarily Inconvenienced

Forgive me my lack of posting throughout this pregnancy, and especially now.  I’ve been temporarily inconvenienced by one of my late pregnancy symptoms: terribly swollen hands.

The swelling makes typing painful and too much typing causes my fingers to go numb.

Therefore, I’m putting my self on keystroke rest until little Henry arrives and the doctor’s allow me the medications to reduce the swelling.

Until then, please enjoy digging through the more than 500 posts in the archives.  Let me know, via comments on this post, which posts you found most useful or what sort of posts you were hoping to find.  After I’m recovered, I intend to improve my posting frequency and develop several new ideas.

Until then, remember to drive change.  Why not try?

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Challenge Met

My son just finished his first season as a little league player.  That’s a common statement to hear from the mother of a young boy, yet it is made truly special if you know that my son, Teddy, has spina bifida.  This spring, Teddy and several of his friends got their first chance to play sports.  You can see how much they enjoyed the experience by taking in the joy captured in the collage below. [Thanks go out to Joi Thomas for creating the fabulous collage.]

Challengers2As I sat in the stands watching the boys play, I was struck with the thought of how silly we are to be stopped by our often petty little complaints about our lives.  We often use the petty complaints to convince ourselves we can’t accomplish the things we want, need, and desire.  We say, “The organization isn’t right,” or “The boss isn’t right,” or “The timing isn’t right.”  UGH! Enough.

I hope you can draw some inspiration for the smiles and joy captured in the photos above.  I hope you can use some of that inspiration to propel yourself forward toward–and over–whatever challenges in your life are holding you back.

Consider yourself an honorary Challenger today.  I’m sure the boys won’t mind.

Decide.  Act.  Then you can say, “Challenge met!”

Why not try?

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Intellectual Set-Up Times

Inside

Creative Commons License Andrew Mason via Compfight

A bad myth rampant in our organizations is the myth that there is no set-up time to intellectual work.

We schedule meetings on disparate topics in one hour chunks back to back and somehow think we are going to get our best thinking.

Or, worse, we know we won’t get our best thinking but we “don’t have time for anything else.”

It takes a great deal of time to put yourself in the right frame of mind, and a great deal of time to come out of it and shift into the next task.

As we move from the end of 2012 to 2013, join me in an attempt to change a habit by planning longer spans of time to consider ideas. by pledging chunks of time to important tasks.

If we don’t, I worry we won’t do the deep thinking necessary to answer today and tomorrow’s most challenging questions.

Why not try?

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Where to cut

A patient’s family should not tell the doctor where to cut, but they can and should measure him by his results.”

There is an important distinction between being closed to feedback from your customers and refusing to maintain your professional distance.

Daily you might see people of all organizational levels running into other people’s professional space and suggesting, recommending, encouraging changes which are about process, not about results. A practical example would be a customer bothered by failing welds who doesn’t demand the welder achieve good welds, but instead demands that the welder follow a new process the customer has designed for welding.

This leads to professional indifference where the welder, in this case, agrees to the new process under the auspices of “pleasing his customers,” and his welds fail all the more.  Then, when the customer comes around again, perhaps this time looking for accountability from the welder for good welds, the welder feels justified in saying, “My failure couldn’t be helped because I had to follow your new process.”

We must draw a  simple line and encourage ourselves to protect our professional independence in whatever field we are in (e.g,. welding, electronics, change management, corporate training) and encourage our customers to focus on our outcomes (vice our processes).   We must not blindly agree to a suggestion without integrating them into our professional knowledge.  If we blindly comply then we have sacrificed our professionalism and we would do everyone a favor if we wore ribbons or other markers to tell everyone we are not the professionals they might see us to be, but a fallen lot instead.  That way they could all avoid us and our tainted outcomes.

In the same way we must focus on the outcomes we want from others and never impose our process onto the professionals.  Once we’ve won the argument about outcomes, then we can, if invited, go assist the professional in improving the way they do things.  But, in those situations it is important to remember that we are only offering ideas or a fresh perspective to the professional.  It is up to them to integrate what we share into their processes in a way that works with and compliments their methods.

I’ve meddled in other people’s professional space before.  I probably will again.  I’m not perfect in keeping myself on the right side of the line.  Yet, at least I know the line is there and I try to maintain it for what it brings to better outcomes and better professionalism in the system.

Now that you know the line is there, will you help me sustain it?

Our system will work better if we respect the line.

Why not try?

 

There is a right order in a system when I leave a man to a task with his talents and then set a demand that he perform with what he has been given.

There is a right order in a system when a professional agrees to explain why they are taking the actions they are taking, but doesn’t meekly abide by the process recommendations of people who haven’t thought at all about the problems or aren’t interested in the professional knowledge that led to that decision.

We’d all do better in our organizations if we stuck to measuring each other by our results and not telling the doctors where to cut.

 

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Conditioned to change

When I was growing up we often hosted my mom’s extended family at our house for holidays.  It was a running joke in our family to guess how my mom would have rearranged her living room furniture.  We didn’t have much money, so my mom would redecorate by moving around the things we already owned.

I share that story because it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized how my mom’s penchant for rearranging furniture conditioned me to be comfortable with change.

In a class, the instructor asked us to test our aptitude for change by moving our office garbage can to the opposite side of our desk.  He told us to pay attention to how many times we tried to throw something away in the old location before our brain rewired to remember to turn the new directions before letting the piece of paper fall from our hand.  I found I was rewired after only one or two false tries.  Others took much longer to look in the new direction.

I can’t say that my mom’s rearrangements is the sole cause of my love of change, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

Therefore, in honor of Mother’s Day, I dedicate this post to my mother who helped me become the engine for change I am today.  Thank you Mom, for everything!

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To strike at the root we must study our history

If you don’t know who Frederick Winslow Taylor is, you should.

He is the father of scientific management and much of his thinking controls our organizations today.

When Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root,” he was probably thinking of people in large organizations trying to change their organizations without an awareness of how much their behaviors, beliefs and control systems are based on Taylor’s work.

Once you know Taylor and what his legacy means in modern organizations, then you can strike at the root.

I’ve got my ax ready.

Who’s willing to strike with me?

Let’s drive some change.

Your thoughts: What aspect of Taylor’s philosophy strikes you as the most detrimental when applied in modern organizations?

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