Organizational Excellence

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Posts Tagged ‘values

Dual Residency

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Been in process of updating / doing a blogger’s version of a 5-S. Newer stuff is here: One Pond-Ripples. http://onepondripples.wordpress.com/ Focus: influence and impact, values based leadership and engagement, community and this wonderfully esoteric thing called The Greater Good.

I will be pulling a few posts from this blog forward after updating so stay tuned!

CraigA

Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More

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Taking time to figure out what really matters in the long run shouldn’t be such a rare luxury. But it is.

Find time to breathe.

 

(Within this self-talk is a testimonial to the importance of personal, values-based connecting, and the need to check in with the plan now and then. A few links below may help to make it more clear-ca)

Maybe a little air time will ensure some accountability on my part to git r done… if you’ve peeked in here before you know by now that personal vision, values, planning and alignment are a big deal in my world. So big that I’m on a mission to get something out there to help others make their connections.

There is a grander purpose behind being personally connected. Quite simply: things are a mess on a global, national, societal scale. The only way we can collectively impact things is to first tidy up our own lives one-by-one. I want to contribute at that level. It’s absolutely critical to me personally as my long-time personal vision is: make an impact, leave a legacy.

A few months back, I asked What Drives You?  preceded by What’s Your One Thing?  (remember Jack Palance as cowpoke Curly in City Slickers?)

My One Thing is to Connect. First with myself, so I can more effectively help others do the same. My strategic intent is to do my part to make others’ lives more meaningful, therefore making the world a better place, all in the interest of The Greater Good  — a group I host on the Employee Engagement Network.

It all comes down to leveraging the power of influence we each have: One Pond, One Pebble

This Connections book project has consumed me, as it targets my vision and matches up with my core values: creativity, freedom from unnecessary constraints, helping others. Even my interpretation of the value spirituality is tapped. In its essence spirituality to me means connecting…with myself, with all that is around me, (the Tao or the Force, which is it?) with others, with a greater purpose and the being who is greater than me.

I’m lucky-all this high-falootin’ stuff has been important to me for quite some time. Not everyone can claim that. And there is my Driver to help me reach my Vision! I now have to gear up to attack the “helping others” value factor in the equation, something that has been missing in my values-based action plan lately.

As I maintain throughout the Connections project, it is absolutely essential for each of us (and for society / the world / the Greater Good!) to connect with our values, to establish a values-based purpose in life. Out of the collective of individuals with strong personal values comes strong shared values, norms, healthy culture, healthy companies.

All this with a renewed sense of urgency. See Gotta Love Those Life-changing Events.

My most powerful strategic lever for propelling me toward my vision is the Values piece from Connections. Gear it up!

Ain’t Wastin Time No More!

 

So that’s what’s up with me lately. How are you doing? Are you connected? Taking time to figure out what really matters in the long run shouldn’t be such a rare luxury. But it is. We’re continuously reacting to our surroundings, inundated with the pressures of daily demands, juggling an abundance of urgencies thrown at us from every direction.

Find time to breathe.

Written by Craig

September 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

The Secret of Life

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A little Brain Dump is always a good way to start the work week. I feel better already.

Engagement and success are kissing cousins. Need one to have the other. To me, these few things make or break whether you are “successful” whatever success means to you. No matter if you’re talking about a relationship, being a parent, or being in any position from president / politician, from the big boss all the way to a factory worker or admin assistant to the assistant.

This is not nuclear physics. It won’t solve world hunger. I’ll take care of that this afternoon. But for now…add something to the Secret of Life short list and “Like” if you think this isn’t out of reach. If you don’t like this, I probably wouldn’t ‘like’ you!

  • Do what you know is right.
  • Do what’s expected of you. If you don’t know, ask. Ignorance is not an excuse.
  • Take time to consider the other person’s needs and feelings.
  • Find what you like to do, and were meant to do. Then, Just DO it!

Reward those people who deliver on these things. No matter whether a simple “thanks, you’re appreciated” or a little well-earned respect. Money sometimes works too, but those other things are free.

Get rid of or at least distance yourself from those who don’t deliver. They may be contagious and life’s too short. It may sound cold, but Darwin was right.

Add anything to the list?

 

Written by Craig

August 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

Gotta Love Those Life-changing Events

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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

Norms and Culture: Structured or Organic?

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For well over a year I’ve been working hard on the boss (OK…I’ve been obnoxiously, doggedly persistent) on how badly we need to put clear definition and substance behind “The (Company Name) Way”…our version of a beliefs statement. I’ve been looking at norms and culture as something you can set clear expectations around to accomplish. But have I been missing the mark?

Culture is defined by shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices, expectations (norms) rules and a lot more. Norms are implied or stated behavioral expectations based on the group’s beliefs. Norms may be reinforced by official mandate and / or informal social pressure. There are rewards for compliance, and consequences for noncompliance.

Beliefs are highly individual. My beliefs may be considered by others to be highly quirky. But when a group shares the same quirks, somehow the quirks magically become norms that go a long ways toward defining a culture! So culture only takes hold when a critical mass believes in the same thing and lives it every day, whatever “it” is. If culture is strong the pressure to comply to norms is greater. By the same token the greater the compliance to norms, the stronger the culture. Culture and norms….chicken or egg?

My head hurts now, so back to the original dilemma. Can you force the issue with either culture or norms?

Money can’t buy it, slogans can’t make it happen, bosses can’t demand it. And laws and policy will get you compliance if you’re lucky. Maybe you can’t craft culture or mandate norms. 

You can’t put substance and structure into beliefs to make them more real, you can’t force “shared” beliefs even if you set clear expectations to behave in a way that models a set of beliefs. Beliefs are what they are, and they are highly individual.  By the same token you can over-document vision, and if you publish stated values they become dogma: We believe the moon is made of blue cheese and YOU will believe it too… or else!

Seriously? Culture, norms, values, beliefs just happen? I have a hard time leaving such critical things to chance.

What are the pros and cons? Can you / can’t you….should you / shouldn’t you clearly define and neatly package culture, norms, values, beliefs?

Written by Craig

March 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm

What Drives You?

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Connecting is a personal thing, the essence of being human. Connecting is the fuel that keeps the fire of high engagement burning, and engagement is the great difference maker in peoples’ lives. Lasting engagement is driven by connecting—first connecting with myself, then with others one-on-one, in up close and personal relationships.

This thing called ‘connecting’ is what drives me. I can look back on my path and identify significant things that have happened and helped shape the person I am.

What drives you? What experience(s) really stick in your mind and have a good deal to do with who you are, what you think, what you do? Of the two drivers that really stand out for me, one is more personally impactful than the other, therefore tougher to relate. I’ll start with the less challenging of the two.

Cipher

I first came across a short story called Cipher in the Snow by Jean E. Mizer in a college textbook that has been long lost. Even though Cipher is fiction, Cliff Evans has haunted me since. My fear is that this fiction all too often reality.

I was a substitute teacher for a couple of very rewarding years. Teachers would typically pass along their insights as to who to watch out for…the problem students. I was expected to be the regular teachers’ surrogate iron fist for these problem students, and march them to the office at the first sign of insurrection which, they assured me, was sure to come.  

A school administrator once told me the toughest thing to accept for any educator is that you cannot win every battle. I was just a substitute but the story of Cliff Evans drove me every day, not those all-knowing cautions.

If I am heading into battle, I first develop a strategy. My favorite substitute strategy was to convert any alleged Enemy I received intel on. If successful, the battle is won. So I made special efforts to connect with those tough cases I was warned about, those who had been written off. More often than not, I won.

That was several years ago. Still, when I run across one of those tough cases now and then we are genuinely glad to see each other. They remember and appreciate that I cared enough to connect with them. We still have a genuine connection.

What really drove me in education, and what still drives me in business and socially, is this burning question posed by Mizer in Cipher:

How do you go about making a boy into a zero?

     The grade-school records showed me. The first and second grade teachers’ annotations read “sweet, shy child;” “timid but eager.” Then the third grade note had opened the attack. Some teacher had written in a good firm, hand: “Cliff won’t talk. Uncooperative. Slow learner.” The other academic sheet had followed with “dull;” “slow-witted;” “low IQ. “ They became correct. The boy’s IQ score in the ninth grade was listed at 83. But his IQ in the third grade had been 196. The score didn’t go under 100 until seventh grade. Even shy, timid, sweet children have resilience. It takes time to break them.

How about beyond education? How much influence does ranking individuals drive the reality of who they are and how they perform? Can we make a worker a “zero”? It seems we are obsessed with making people “average” starting very early in the education system and continuing with traditional performance assessments and competency-based development.  

All in all, we’re just another brick in the wall.  If this link is still functional, it is a powerful piece on human mass production.

A while back I revisited Cipher. It’s easy to Google. I had never forgotten the story’s title, or the lesson. Or Cliff Evans. But I had forgotten just how powerful Cipher really is.

How could a person not care?

Driver #2: Steely Dan

I’ve lost good friends I played music with, some of whom self-destructed. While I’m rather fond of Steely Dan the band this is about Steely Dan the man, and it is a tough one to relate here. “Steely Dan” remains deeply unforgettable thirty years later.

Dan had destructive habits. I believe we must chart our own course, and I felt back then there were personal space lines I shouldn’t cross. So I was the bandmate who was always there to pick Dan up and put him back on his stool. No judgment, no criticism, no meddling.

I wasn’t there the last time Dan fell off his stool. I was hundreds of miles away. Just like Cliff Evans, he collapsed in a snow bank one cold January Iowa day and died. I realized I had been an enabler. I didn’t connect with Dan like I could have.

Those things have shaped me, along with my professional experience in influence-wielding prior roles. When is it my responsibility or duty to step up, voice my concern, get involved? Conversely, when do I need to make the choice to shut up and let it go? And, can I live with the results of shutting up?

 These drivers have set the stage for a great internal conflict, and it is a continuing source of stress for me. Life really is all about choosing your battles wisely, about being able to deal with the reality and the consequences of not winning them all. But when you are driven to connect, driven to be the great problem solver and wise counselor for all, how do you survive?

Still looking for the answer. If you join the search please let me know if you come across the key to this dilemma. There’s a lot at stake.

Written by Craig

January 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm