Spent

Sometimes we need to admit we’re tired, we can’t do it all and we must let some things wait for another day.

The challenge becomes not to abandon the task forever, just for now.

To that end, I’m off for a week or so.

Be good while I’m away and keep driving change.

Feel free to poke around the archives and find an old favorite post to comment on.

Cute sleepy leopard

Creative Commons License Tambako The Jaguar via Compfight

 

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Becoming Wrong

We learn something every day, and lots of times its that what we’ve learned the day before was wrong.” – Bill Vaughan

In The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has An Expiration Date,  Samuel Arbesman makes the same point.

More of us would do well to remember that things we think stay true are actually changing, maybe not day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month, but over years, decades, or lifetimes.

When you can appreciating the passing of facts then you are better able to see which organizational behaviors, favorite policies, or overly worn events deserve to go away forever. You’ll see the need to change early and that jump start on making the change may mean the difference for your organization.

What facts in your organization are past their prime and deserve to be replaced by their modern successors?

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Pick One

Gravity

Nick Wheeler via Compfight

Pick one.

A: Your organization is successful but you can’t understand why it is successful.

or

B: Your organization is  not successful but you can understand why it isn’t successful.

Which option did you pick? Why?

My choice is B.  I would rather have an unsuccessful organization and be capable of understanding why.

Why? Thanks for asking.

Because then I could choose to act on that knowledge and make the organization successful or I could start other organizations and make them successful or I could…do just about anything because I possessed the capability to learn, understand, and apply that learning.

If you choose A, what do you get?  A successful organization. Yes, but that’s it.  You don’t have knowledge so you don’t have anything transferable.  You have one successful organization.  That’s not enough for me.  Would that be enough for you?

I offered the choice above as a choice between A and B because I couldn’t bring myself to offer the third option.

C: Your organization is not successful and you can’t understand why.

I see too many people picking option C as their way of organizational life.  Worse, they try to fool themselves into thinking they’ve picked option A by pretending their organization is successful when it isn’t.

Option C suggests they can’t understand why.  Should we say that is a real incapability or is it more often an “unwillingness” to understand? My guess is the large majority fall into the “unwilling” category.  That’s good because it means there’s hope they could become willing.

Perhaps if more of us celebrated our choice of B, celebrated how much our capability to understand helps our organizations (and us), and celebrated how knowledge is a personal good and an organizational good, then maybe we could slowly eradicate options A and C.  Maybe…

Why not try?

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How to Kill An Unwritten Rule

Don’t follow it.

An unwritten rule by its definition cannot compel compliance.  Only written rules can compel compliance, hence a cop may give you a ticket only for violating the written rules.

The unwritten rule’s power is found in your willingness to submit to it and your fear of the consequences if you don’t.

If you refuse to submit, then it stops being powerful.

If you resolve yourself to live up to the consequences, then you’ve conquered it.

I hypothesize that if the rule mattered so much to the effective workings of your organization then someone would have written it down by now.

Unwritten rules are the controls through which powerful organizational figures wield power that they dare not claim officially (via written rules).

Unwritten rules are the way leaders maintain excuses for not walking their own talk.

Unwritten rules are the way employees make themselves accomplices in organizational decline while preserving their victim status at the same time.

You can do better.

My suggestion: find an unwritten rule that’s hurting you or your organization and try to kill it.

Let’s see what happens.

[WARNING: Killing unwritten rules may indeed bring unwritten negative consequences (e.g., unhappy looks, counseling sessions, loss of holiday party invitations and more).  Kill at your own risk.]

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Say No Photography From a Public Sidewalk Thomas Hawk via Compfight

 

 

 

 

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An office without books means…

A home without books is like a room without windows.” – H. G. Rickover

Maybe it’s because I’ve just finished Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, but I’ve begun to notice–more than I ever did before–who does and doesn’t have books featured prominently in their offices.  I know I have a book obsession, so the shelves upon shelves of books stacked upon each other is part mental illness (a good one) and part practical learner.  Yet, what does it say about someone with an office devoid of books?

I don’t have an answer.  It’s just more a curious question.

Your thoughts?

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Playing to your strengths

According to Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 test, my top five strengths are:

Maximizer

Strategic

Arranger

Learner

Activator

I’ve been putting them all into play this week, at work and at home.  The effort is leaving me at times exhausted and at other times enlivened.  Right now, exhausted is winning.

What are your top five strengths and how have you been playing to them lately?

Let’s see how many comments we can pile up to this post.  According to the site analytics you are looking at the posts…so why not comment too?

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Confidence

Confidence (noun) – belief in oneself and one’s powers and abilities.

Can I make you have confidence in yourself?  No.

Can I give you confidence in yourself? No.

I can have confidence in you (i.e., full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing), but even that won’t necessarily dictate that you have confidence in yourself.

When it comes to self-confidence, you really are on your own.

What does that mean?

It means you can stop waiting for your bosses next praise because you know you can rely on yourself without anyone having to remind you.

It means you can set higher goals for yourself, your team, and your changes because you know from deep within that you are capable of reaching your goal and learning so much along the journey.

It means you can free others from waiting for you to have confidence in them before they will have confidence in themselves.  Remind them that self-confidence is self generated and self sustained.  So they are free to be confident too.

Do you believe in yourself, in your powers and in your abilities?

If not, why not?

What are going to do this week so you can start to believe?

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Weigh and consider

Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted … but to weigh and consider.” – Sir Francis Bacon

Perhaps this is a silly quote of the week, for how few of us read these days (beyond blogs of course)?

In many organizations, if you express a penchant (noun: a strong inclination, taste, or liking for something) for reading you will be ridiculed.

Why?

I think the answer has at least two parts.

First, the American education system has taught us (quite sadly) that books are things that people do to you.  Teachers, bosses, and parents force you to read books, think about books and report on books. Books = Have To. Books = Have To. Books = Have To.  Books = No joy.  No curiosity.  Just Have To.  UGH!

Second, we’ve somehow (and I haven’t figured out how just yet) been conditioned to believe that someone who enjoys doing a task we loathe is “maladjusted.”  The reasoning goes: Someone liking what I like is adjusted.  Someone disliking what I like is maladjusted.  Perhaps this reasoning is infused in us during our teen years where we are taught conformity to the group norms as the highest virtue.  You want to fit in, so you seek out what fitting in looks like and then you do that.  Anyone who doesn’t must not be part of the group. Step this habit forward in time to the workplace.  Readers are mocked in many organizations because the majority of the people in the organization aren’t readers, so ipso facto, the readers are maladjusted and worthy of ridicule.  UGH!

So what do we do if we are readers and our organization is not?

First, don’t lead into your points in meetings by saying, “I read a book recently that said,…”  No one is listening to your point after you lead in that way.  Just make your point, and offer your source later.  Remember the quote above: “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted … but to weigh and consider.”  As long as you’ve done the reading and weighed and considered the points, then state where you’ve arrived at, not how you got there.  You can always bring that up later on if the discussion continues.

Second, don’t stop reading.  What a huge advantage a curious mind is within an organization of non-readers.  Imagine how much of the world and the combined thinking of all the great minds they have shut themselves off from by not reading.  You get to join the great conversations because of your willingness to read.  They may never know such enjoyment.  Just keep reading.  You’ll be glad you did.

Third (and this may be the most important), when you do find another reader in your organization, never stop sharing what you’ve read with them.  Create a network of the readers and thinkers.  They are a vast resource for you to expand the reach of your reading far beyond what you can do alone.  I’ve had my life changed many times by the suggestions of my fellow readers.  (Bonus: Make friends with the librarians…they make the best friends!)

Read.  Read because you get to.  Weigh and consider because you get to.  Expand your mind because you get to.  Enjoy it because you get to.

Read.

[Bonus #2: What have you read lately that’s worth sharing?  I finished The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist by Richard Feynman this weekend and I’ve enjoyed reading to my kids every one of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books by Maryrose Wood

 

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