Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Posts Tagged ‘values and goals

The X and I

with one comment

There is a great whiteboard video from the originators of the “X” posted at the Employee Engagement Network.  Come back after you watch.

If we can tell our personal story, it helps make engagement more real. If something actually has deep meaning to me and I can relate my own experience to others, I become a more credible source.

This is my personal story–how I have mapped the “x” in numerous sessions of BlessingWhite’s Managing Personal Growth. The story ran long, so I am posting it separately at my blog.

Telling my “x” experience is critical right now as I am about to use it to introduce myself, to open a proposal to our chief officers that is heavily influenced by engagement factors-the soft stuff that can drive operations managers nutty. My leaders need to understand me, my perspective, and most importantly the power of engagement as presented through the “x”. I need credibility, and telling my story here is a good warm-up for me. The X and I.  I’d love to hear your story too.


Gotta Love Those Life-changing Events

with 3 comments

It’s June 16, 2012. A beautiful Saturday morning except that it’s my third sunrise looking out a hospital window. I’ve had a heart attack, fairly minor but still way up there in the hierarchy of life-changing events.

The realizations creep in one-by-one. This is my third too-close brush with being finite. I’m 58 and maybe I’m not indestructible after all. Maybe I need to finish writing those songs. Maybe continuous 13-hour days are not as do-able as I thought. Maybe I do need to pay attention to what I eat. Maybe I need to pay more attention to my wife’s nagging (?) and start taking all those supplements. Maybe I don’t have forever to do all the things I really want to do.

We’re each given only so much of it…maybe I need to stop wasting time.

This book project has plodded along for well over two years, through numerous direction and design changes and spurts of progress before stalling out again. The irony: Connections makes the case for identifying, understanding and relentlessly pursuing your values-driven goals, to become fully connected with what is truly important to you, to set your direction then doggedly stay on that path. The destination: a happier, more productive, longer and healthier life.

Physician, heal thyself!

They told me this morning it would be at least two weeks before I go back to work. That’s a great chance to get things in perspective and get back on track, even though I hope to negotiate that “two weeks” down a bit (see, there I go).

One thing I’ve learned that I hope you can take to heart: the wake-up calls we get can be extremely rude and obnoxious if you don’t tune in and pay attention to the more subtle signals.

Tomorrow is my first day on the outside. It’s also Father’s Day, and I’m going to ease into this recovery business. Going fishing with my daughter.

Look, listen, connect. It’s a good place.


Post-fishing excursion update: I’m afraid I exceeded my 10lb weight restriction a couple of times. What was I supposed to do, hand the pole over to my daughter and say “you better handle this one-it’s too big for me”? Not gonna happen.

Written by Craig

June 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Reinventing Myself

leave a comment »

People have emailed me, wondering why I haven’t posted anything lately. That’s a bit humbling, as this blog has been primarily to help me frame my thoughts. But there are people who have actually been paying attention to these musings…thank you!

Briefly, I’ve taken a break for introspection triggered by a “hard right turn” career change. A summary of that inward look follows. The result-I am starting a more focused blog, yet to be published. Some of the themes found here will carry over, some will not. I do plan on keeping this blog up and running, but with even more random thoughts and probably more fun than it has been. Stay tuned.

Besides this reinvention I’ve had an epiphany along the way too, thanks again to my career / position-on-the-ladder shift. See John Everyman.  As an immensely respected mentor inscribed in a Max Depree book he gave me in 2001, “never lose sight of yourself.”

 I did, and didn’t even realize it.

The Road to Reinvention

Over the past 20+ years I have worked for two multi-billion dollar multiple-location corporations, with projects at both the business unit and corporate levels. I’ve been both a follower and a leader. Hopefully, the experience in one has had a positive impact in my ability to be the other. I have been involved in development of people and process improvement, in business process and manufacturing environments. Most recent projects included culture change, leadership curriculum development, alignment and action planning, developing and managing systems (performance management, quality management, and communication systems), re-engineering, standard work and lean implementation.

After losing my position in February 2009, I stopped to examine my direction. Did I need professional re-engineering? Are my knowledge base and my core competencies a good fit with my values and beliefs, and career plans? More importantly, was I focusing on critical areas that businesses need to achieve excellence, and were those areas worth devoting my efforts to in this phase of my career?

In short…is my direction personally relevant (engaging) and professionally relevant (marketable)?

I’ve moved past ladder climbing; I simply want to make a meaningful contribution where that contribution is truly valued and strategically significant. I do not care to work in a large corporate environment again; I prefer being part of a smaller organization that is flexible and insightful enough to do what it needs to do.

I have always been a huge believer in “involvement”. Involvement has transformed into the loftier concept of “engagement”. But what you call it matters little. Either way, two truths stand out:

  1. If you don’t pay constant attention to the “soft” stuff (the human side of the business—working relationships, personal development, teaming, involvement etc) you will never fully achieve the maximum level of “hard” results (### and $$$) that your business is capable of. And,
  2. If the soft stuff does not have a strategic impact, what good is it? Who has time for irrelevant hugs and kisses classes with no purpose? Forget Kumbaya, show me the cash.

Over the past half year I produced a random series of essays loosely focused on what is becoming the basis of Roadmap. Thousands of surfers visited this blog without any active promotion on my part. For me this affirmed the power of cyber space, but also indicated a high level of interest in Engagement, Alignment, Communication, Systems and Involvement…my reinvented focus.

Mission: Within my sphere of influence, enable individuals and leaders to leverage the power of engagement to more fully realize flawless execution of strategy.

Vision: Improve quality of life and protect our standard of living. Serve as a catalyst who enables highly satisfied and productive people, leading to greater business and industry profitability and success.

Unlike some missions / visions, I feel confident that mine has sturdy legs: supporting objectives, strategies, and action plans. One strategy is to produce what you are reading right now, and my target market and how to reach it are both detailed in my objectives.

 The Relevance

So why all this personal disclosure, and how is it relevant here? Why should anyone but family and friends care at all about any of this?

One: I wanted to share my experience with you, so others can understand my perspective. Two: personal re-invention comes highly recommended to other individuals. Three, the introspective analysis I conducted is roughly the same process a company goes through, or should go through, on a regular basis to re-evaluate, validate and adjust its strategic direction. My reinvention was reactive, out of necessity, caused by a “crisis”…career change. I would strongly advise others to be more proactive-don’t wait for the bleeding to start. Rather, prevent the injury!

In my chosen avocation, if you’re not continuously evolving you’re falling behind. The opposite of growth is stagnation, atrophy and, eventually, death. I don’t want to look back when it’s too late and do the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” thing.

In that respect is your business, career, or life any different than mine?

Written by Craig

December 28, 2009 at 4:14 am

Engagement: Now We’re Getting Personal!

with 2 comments

Engagement-Now We’re Getting Personal!

The challenge: come up with a working definition for engagement. Not easy, but I’m going to give it a shot based on four attributes I hold as truths. OK, not “universal truths” but my opinion. I feel these truths are pretty indisputable, but if you want to challenge any of them we can have some fun with this.


In Post Three, I promised to take a stab at defining engagement. So here comes my personal take on engagement, with examples of what my engagement journey has looked like. What’s your personal take on engagement, and what has your journey been like?

First installment of this “In Search Of” mini series was What IS Engagement Anyway?

Second installment: Engagement Per Commercial Authorities

Third in the series: Engagement: the Gap Between Academics and Shop Floor



ONE, engagement is highly personal, as it is based on an individual’s core values and how fully you are enabled to living those values. My core values did not formally present themselves to me until the middle 1990’s. But these have been with me since early grade school: creativity, learning new and different things; freedom from constraints. Based on the next three attributes and these core values, I can easily track my engagement journey going back many years.

TWO, engagement is not just touchy-feely as it is also based on a person’s level of contribution. BlessingWhite spoke very clearly to me in their definition of engagement as the apex of maximum satisfaction and maximum contribution level. Which again becomes very personal, as contribution is driven by how fully a person is utilizing their unique strengths.

THREE, strengths are more than just “talent” or being good at something. Strengths are talents that are aligned with the person’s core values…when I get a huge amount of satisfaction out of utilizing a skill because that particular skill means a good deal to me.

FOUR: a person’s level of engagement, even in one specific position or career, is not a carousel, it is a roller coaster.

Putting all this together, here are a couple examples of my own engagement roller coaster ride.

I didn’t like school-boring classes, boring assignments. Disengaged. I learned very early how to give myself a believable temperature with tap water. But I didn’t read comic books or watch TV. I studied what I wanted to and the extra credit for projects I turned, and a God-given talent for BS’ing through most tests carried me. Note-this strategy did NOT work in college.

I played music professionally for a lot of years. A great match for my core values, and I was quite good at it. There were some musical endeavors that were extremely creative and the other musicians were great friends. But as my career digressed I discovered I was doing more for money rather than for the love of it. In the most dynamic phase of my music career I had my fully engaging creative band, but also signed on as a mercenary with a couple other bands for the steady money. The wrong music, the wrong juke joints, the wrong personnel, but good money and I was still a maximum contributor. Just disengaged.

When the “disengaging” assignments began to more and more outweigh the engaging, I knew it was time to give it up. That was over twenty years ago. I still hold my love for music, have still played but not in bands until fairly recently. I found a couple of other people who liked the same kind of music, were good to be with, and didn’t need to play for money. Engaged again. We’re even thinking about trying out the next time “American Has-Been” auditions come to Iowa.

I could have just as easily tracked my engagement journey through my post-rock-star professional career. It probably would have been too revealing, and you never know who reads these things.

But I can assure you the four “truths” and my core values have played out at least as much in my second life.


Written by Craig

April 21, 2009 at 5:31 am

Personal Strategy and Self-Alignment

with one comment


Those of you who still have a job (I know you’re out there….) can you afford to wait until you are served notice? Be proactive….plan!


The meaning of “work” has shifted. As a boomer, my folks were of the generation that believed any job that paid the bills was worth fighting for, and eventually dying in. Forget “job satisfaction”…that’s why they call it “work”. “Put down the guitar, get a haircut and get a real job!” Not so any more, thankfully.


In the mid-90’s I got involved in Managing Personal Growth (MPG) from BlessingWhite ( ). As part of certification, I completed the two-day values identification / career management process. By “values” I don’t mean the real kumbaya-type stuff. Besides family happiness, my core values include helping others, creativity, learning new things, and freedom from constraints.  So many major “AHAs” came out of that two-day workshop and my subsequent involvement with MPG that I won’t list them all, but two deserve noting:


1.  If your own values are disconnected from your company’s, and if your work does not satisfy your true core motivators, you’ll be miserable and will not be a top contributor. Self and company both are short-sheeted.


2.  If you take the time to establish your own values-based vision, mission and objectives you will stand a much better chance of surviving job loss and transitioning to a new and meaningful professional life. I will personally testify to that Truth….twice. I am currently seeking work for the second time in nine years, and my values-based plan is once again my Keeper of Sanity. It has yet to land me a new gig, but at least I know I’m looking in the right direction. I can even handle a “survival job” as long as it is in line with my values.

Except for a few tweaks, my overall strategy has stayed pretty much on course. At the very top is my Vision: Leave a Legacy. That is pretty much wide open—needs meat. Two key areas of influence became my Objectives: education / secondary schools through school-to-career; and business and industry, by focusing on engagement, alignment and execution. My approach to the latter is just as values-based as I can covertly get the message across. Ops managers, bless their hearts, do not care for values-based discussions as a rule. They are too busy running things. Don’t tell on me, please!

Further down my strategic hierarchy are more detailed tactics and action plans, which I am executing right now.


The depth of my passion for the BlessingWhite philosophy on which Managing Personal Growth is based is due to the role it played for me personally in getting me through my first experience with downsizing, in 2001. I had formulated my values-based mission and long-term plan while still employed full time. When I was downsized, I was not devastated. Rather, I was thrilled to have a chance to pursue my real purpose in life, with a nice severance package to subsidize me.

My peers were not so fortunate as they did not have quite as firm of a grip on their ideal future. Some of them thought I had finally cracked. I was smiling while the majority were racing to get control over the last few kleenex in the box.

The greatest disciples are those who convert to a religion. I have done everything in my power, both covert and overt, to guide people toward getting in touch with their values and setting a course for a brighter future. Especially in the nasty climate we’re in right now, if you can’t grab hold of your values you’re in deep, deep trouble.


To sum up—identify what really drives you beyond position, power and however much coin you need to be comfortable.  Establish goals and objectives, and craft your strategy for how you’re going to achieve them. Then, execute the plan and be true to your values. You’ll live longer, be more fun to be around, and be much more productive to boot.

Written by Craig

April 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm