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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Do You Blog?

Fred Wilson, A VC in NY, wondered how many of his readers had blogs. He set up a poll and a hackpad to collect readers' blog, url and author, comma delimited There are hundreds of really interesting blogs listed. I put in two.

Browsing the list, I punched on Punctuated Equilibrium and got this:

Ten Principles of Sound Public Policy

  1. The government should only do what people (individuals and associations) cannot do for themselves.
  2. A sound public policy would impose the same standards, norms and punishments for non-performance on government as are imposed on the non-state providers.
  3. A sound public policy will enhance:a. Choice    b. Competition     c. Freedom
  4. A sound policy would consider long-term consequences over all groups of people, not just the good intentions behind the policy.
  5. Subsidiarity: A sound policy would enable governance (decisions about taxes and expenditure) closest to the people.
  6. A sound policy would place incentives according to Friedman’s Law of Spending:
    a. Spend your money on yourself.    b. Spend your money on someone else.    c. Spend someone else’s money on you.     d. Spend someone else’s money on someone else.
  7. A sound policy would rely more on participatory instead of representative democracy (referendums, tax allocations by citizens’ choice).
  8. A sound policy will not sacrifice the rights of an individual for the interests of many.
  9. The premise of sound public policy should be that people are responsible, resilient and self-governing given the right set of incentives and framework of law.
  10. A sound policy should have an expiry date (sunset clause). 
Check out the list of blogs!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Three Chords and the Truth

Sunday, I was watching Justine win the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, flipped the channel and caught the 2000 E Street Band Reunion Tour Concert, Madison Square Garden, on VH1.

There they were, Clarence, Bruce, Max, Nils, Steve, Patti, Garry, and Danny Glock living the dream, the home crowd carrying them through Badlands, sending the chorus back over the band like a tropical deluge.

David Weinberger says we are the band generation, boomer bands.

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin offers Three chords and the truth, and it's only the last part that's complicated.

Only the last part.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Company Picnic

Ah...the company picnic. Fond memories of fried chicken, hard dry burgers, 15 varieties of potato salad, a dish with melted marshmallows on top, a mystery casserole, and some wrinkled burned hotdogs.

And lots of employees with their families.

Sometimes leaders are reluctant to attend this traditional summer event (also the holiday party close to the end of the year). Other leaders look forward to these events to move the organization forward.

Why the different perspective? The benefit of attending these events may not be immediately obvious – it wasn't to me.

First thing on Monday morning after the company picnic, my boss found me and asked why I wasn't at the picnic. Had other plans, I answered. The boss said – do you realize the employees want to see you in this informal setting, and they missed the chance since you did not attend. WHAM – had never thought about the picnic from that perspective, and it completely changed my outlook on the importance of company events.

Employees come to a company picnic or holiday party because: it's a chance to socialize with coworkers and the bosses; it's an opportunity to 'see and be seen'; it's a free (or admission is bringing dish to contribute) event, and it's fun.

Leaders who look forward to the picnic are eager to mingle informally with the folks, to meet employees' families, and to see the workers in a non-work environment to gain a more complete impression of who they are. And it can be fun.

Keep in mind, while the leader may be coming to the event to see the employees in a different setting, the employees are coming to observe the boss in a non-work setting as well. They are seeing a different side of the leader – adding greater depth and richness to their view of this person who is leading 'their' organization.

Sometimes a leader should eat a hotdog with the troops to develop a stronger bond between her and the staff – and between the staff and her. A few hours of mingling in this informal setting can make a significant difference in building a stronger organziation.

Which is more compelling:
  • the memory of a leader with a half-eaten chicken leg talking about when he played pick-up basketball as a kid and worked tables to get through college – or –
  • some guy standing up in front of the company meeting talking about hard times, saying 'Trust me'.
    Who would you rather follow?

...And avoid that mystery casserole!

Entertaining experience - Sales Lab Video Channel

Monday, August 19, 2013

Knowledge Work

The census defines a bunch of us as knowledge workers. What exactly is knowledge work?

Is there a difference between good knowledge work and bad knowledge work?

There better be!

Last week I took the President of a Scientific Society to meet the Executive Director of a Scientific Foundation. We had a President, an Executive Director, an Education Director, two Student Shadows, and a guy doing knowledge work.

A key but under-rated prerequisite of knowledge work is go someplace else and have meetings with new people. Where do you think knowledge comes from?

As 200 people are erroneously credited with saying by the internet, The people who got us in this situation aren’t going to get us out of it!

First thing I noticed was that the two students were wearing big name tags. In solidarity, and because I think nametags improve the quality of meetings, I put mine on.

Later, when I congratulated the students on their tags, everybody else in the room admitted they had been alerted that I like to see nametags. Something to be said for consistency, I guess.

The Executive Director launched a presentation, and the President cut him short with a couple of major ideas for fundraising, better lines of business, and important immediate opportunities, referencing links to the other people at the table’s backgrounds (previously researched from the website).

That led to how the two groups could work together and what other groups they influenced that could join the effort.

Everybody was taking notes in their notebooks, to try to keep the goodness from getting away. I was doing that and also taking notes for this blog. I expect to get new solutions in other people’s meetings.

After an hour, everyone was exhausted, so we watched the slides and videos to rest up, and figure out what other information was needed.

After the video, thank you so much and exeunt.

I was last to leave, developing a whole other assignment in 20 minutes.

Went back to the office and in 23 hours sent a three page digest of what occurred, adding what should have been included, since I knew now what I wisht I’d known then, resulting in a next meeting.

So to review, a knowledge work meeting should be somewhere else, with smart people (Joy’s Law), high energy/short time, and about important work. Preparation is too easy to neglect.

Whoever wants to learn should write the notes, which are to move you forward.

How many of your meetings are that good?

When your meetings miss the mark, is it because nobody took the effort to make them good?

I have nothing against structured meetings, heck I’ve given over a dozen copies of Robert Rules of Order to various secretaries for meetings where I was presiding. (You’d be amazed at what should NOT be in minutes!)

And I have come to a conclusion that a lot of ineffective meetings are because no one has figured out howto make meetings worthwhile.

Perhaps some people need meetings to fill out their day. I’ve seen that. So THEY are having a good meeting.

I’ve seen people who need to attend meetings derail productive meetings so they can get their satisfaction. “Heh heh heh, donut, little girl?”

What if meetings aren’t work? What if meetings are the initiator of work? I’ve written elsewhere, Work is making and keeping promises.

Initiator has to do with work you take on yourself, not what is flung at you by somebody struggling to make a contribooshun without personal effort.

How has database and collaboration technology decreased the value of repeating gatherings of the usual suspects?

Who do you know who hasn’t figured that out? At an attendee cost per hour of how many hundred dollars...fully loaded?

Knowledge work is increasingly important for creating value. Knowledge work is a skill, and like any other skill, can be improved.

How would you improve?

Check out The Lost Blogging Manual – Answers you can use today!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Your Leadership Tribe

Everyone has a tribe – family and friends, other people with whom you have a relationship. This tribe is primarily involved with you in social, support, and general activities. People you've invited (or inherited) to participate in your life.

Taking it to a higher level, Seth Godin wrote about tribes, seeing them as the confluence of the leader (you), an idea (your vision), and a mission of creating change and achieving results (you and your followers). Whether it is:
  • marketing a new product or service – or changing how existing products and services are sold, like the progressive sale of eBooks;
  • spearheading a health mission like identifying trans fats, labeling their presence in foods, educating consumers, and virtually eliminating the presence in consumer foods; or
  • eliminating steps in a process because they no longer serve a purpose – akin to cutting 3-inches off the ham before baking it – because your old oven was too small.

What about your leadership tribe?

It has some traits of your personal tribe – it provides support and offers the insight of experience. It is forward-focused like Seth's tribe but differs – you are not exclusively the lead dog in your leadership tribe.

Your leadership tribe consists of people you know, others you respect, and still others who are a significant influence on your outlook and thoughts – a super peer group in a sense.

More about the three components of your tribe:
  • people you know; you have a relationship; you value their insight and input; they participate in your projects and you participate in theirs,
  • people you respect, but may not know personally; you read their writings and listen to their talks; you follow them over time; they provide ideas, points of view, thought stimulation – for me this includes folks like: Seth Godin, Fred Wilson, Chris Anderson, Harvey Mackay,
  • people who are an influence on you; by what they did; from their ideas and shared wisdom; because they changed the world; they achieved results; they tell the truth, have high standards, and stand by their principles – for me this includes: Peter Drucker, Jacques Cousteau, Ronald Reagan.

With your leadership tribe sometimes you are the leader of others and other times you are a follower of another's leadership. Your tribe is a foundation – tapping their experience and listening to their perspective to broaden what you bring to the project. Your tribe is resource – physical, mental, and emotional participation in your project. Your tribe is a training ground – you learn by doing under the leadership of people you value and respect, and by reading their account of other situations.

As with other peer relationships, you will have the role of a leader, a follower, a driver, a participant, and an advisor at any point in time – even simultaneously for different projects. You may appear alone to observers at times...doing all the work by yourself – in reality, your leadership tribe cloaks you with significant depth and strength to deliver on commitments and goals.

A team focuses on a goal – win the game, complete a project – while a tribe is a more organic structure – on an operational level when working on a project, certainly it is focused on the goal, but when that has been attained the tribe continues to serve its members with new insights, thoughts, sharing, mentoring, validation, and other continuing benefits. Members of the tribe with direct relationships receive inputs and provide outputs from the others.

Who do you have in your leadership tribe?

Sales Lab Posts – 400+ chapters of insight

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


We were musing about groups that venerate experience and the those that don’t. That moved into wondering why we don’t see more venerated old-timers.

There is a ratio of value between teacher and student, which changes as they mature.

Many of us know a grandmother, who can teach us about the world. That goes on from age three to 50 or more. I had a grandmother who worked hard to find valuable topics for me, and just sparkled when she was able to share something useful she had recently learned.

I didn’t have to say much about it. We both knew she was important.

My grandfather died when I was young. I remember sitting on his porch in the foothills, when he pointed down to the skyline of his town and told me his 50 year role in each of those buildings going up.

Not as any kind of empire builder, but as part of the civic machinery. That gave me a strong opinion that I have a right and a role to be part of improving my world.

Venerable is something more than wandering in memories. It is having something to contribute that improves, explains, or simplifies the current situation.

Venerable is also about energy. Doing more with less. The old bull is venerable.

Venerable is also about tasteful. After you learn all the notes you can play, venerable is about the notes you don’t.

Maybe we have the venerable we need. What do you think?

WordPictures – Phrases that lit the bulb!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Your Dealer Network

I really admire the automotive manufacturers’ practice of building dealer networks. They have local coverage of buyers just when those buyers are interested in purchasing. Car manufacturers know they couldn’t get that density of coverage at scale on their own.

Here’s a question. Have you ever considered building your dealer network?

Well first, we’re unique. We’re not selling cars.
Uh huh.

What we sell is much more complicated.
Only til you make it simple. That would probably improve your operation all by itself.

We would lose control of quality. Have you talked with people? They’re nuts!
Good observation. I think that has always been true.

Well, what do I look for in a dealer candidate?

An enthusiast. A real interest in what you do. Current delighted customers are a good place to start.

People who share. Ever met someone who isn’t successful? Not a candidate.

People who influence more than you do. You’re peddling as fast as you can.

How do I start a dealer relationship?

When I identify someone who fits the criteria, I do something for them. I’m not building them a dealership, so much as observing something I can do that they would really like. Then I make sure I do it. Quickly.

Doesn’t work every time, but I’m always surprised how many people find that unique, and want to reciprocate.

Here’s a question. How would your situation change if you had 20 enthusiasts taking action to help you?

The Sales Model – Quit working so hard!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Posthumous Goal

A commercial on TV: the young boy walked up to home plate on an empty ball field with his bat, a ball, and a smile as he was prattling on about the world's best hitter.

He settles in at the plate and, with one more verse of world's best hitter, tosses the ball into the air. After the swish of a haymaker swing and no thunk of the bat, he looks down to see the ball lying quietly at his feet.

Undaunted, still smiling, the boy again settles at the plate, recites world's best hitter again, tosses up the ball, takes his swing. When he looked down, there's the ball at his feet once again. His smile fading with each attempt, he tries several more times - unsuccessfully - to hit the ball, his world's best hitter becoming less enthusiastic with each miss.

With a 0 for many tries record, the boy's face is set in a frown, clearly disappointed, and his head is hung – then it snaps up, the smile is back, and he steps back up to the plate to take his stance. With a megawatt smile, he tosses the ball up while saying the world's greatest pitcher.

A posthumous goal offers some feel-good for the boy, but it creates a detrimental result in other situations.

A manager says just do your best for the project output but adds 10% more to 'goal' when critiquing the disappointing project results.

Or, a project is due by the end of the week, but at noon on Thursday, the supervisor says he wants it by the end of the day.

A goal communicates intent. What does a posthumous goal accomplish?

The Doer- A Key To Lasting Achievement

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Leadership Driving Around

As a kid, I learned a lot about work driving around with my boss in his plumber’s truck. He was doing the work, sharing his timesaving, worksaving experience. I learned a perspective for thinking I’ve kept and added to for forty years.

I shared that with a woman who runs a large insurance brokerage. She thought about it and said she makes a point of having new interns follow her around as she is working for the same reason.

Leadership isn’t criticizing first attempts, it’s about demonstrating world class performance.

Hammer down, here we go
Runnin' for the riverboat
All you're gonna see is asses and elbows
is a portrait of a junior watching an effective leader.

Leadership is by example, not controlling others.
Support for a leader is natural, stomping it out is usual.

Joy’s Law - “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Self Reliance

The trend toward self reliance is growing in velocity and scope. This post is highlights of the shift that is becoming increasingly clear.
As I recall, we were taught at a young age to rely on others instead of ourselves – back in the old days:
  • parents set our limits and standards
  • teachers enforced the rules – insisted that we color within the lines
  • professors picked what we read, how we interpret it, and what to apply – to get our grade
  • employers specify the 'one right way' – thank you Frederick Taylor
  • community and peers guide how we conduct ourselves, even what we do for leisure activities.

We were indoctrinated to seek 'experts' for many things:
  • web designers for our public face
  • programmers to recreate the paper version in bits and bites
  • mechanic to decode and fix the car
  • doctors to 'fix' our health and ailments.

The paradox is while relying (depending?) on all these external elements, when doing leisure-time projects we benefited so much from hands-on learning and how to do it better from the mistakes.

Experience with my first soapbox derby racer showed me what to do differently next time (and next year's version was better and faster):
  • grease the wheels
  • boxy front is slower (air resistance), raked front cuts through the resistance better
  • adding weight equals slower speed – a steering wheel is cool, but a couple of ropes does the job at a third of the weight.

The experience taught me a process I've relied on since then:
concept > design > build > test > refine > deliver. I also learned to think beyond the specific goal to see how the external elements affect the project.

Individuals have found that large organizations, private and public, are not the safe fortresses we once thought them to be – missions are outdated, size is costly, jobs are replaced by technology, short-term management vision cause long-term negative effects, and many are dying, a shadow of past greatness, or gone – e.g., General Motors and Hostess Brands (twinkies).
If we cannot rely on the stalwarts of the past, what now? Many people have a fragile hope that they can exist in this situation, or could locate a similar role in a different organization. Following this dream is like the watering hole on the plains of Africa during a drought – each day the opportunity shrinks and there's no rain in sight.

More and more individuals are changing their approach, investing greater reliance on themselves instead of external entities. Indicators of the trend and the growing availability of powerful creative tools for individuals to use include:
  • greater involvement in DIY (do it yourself) activities
  • an explosion of entrepreneurs and kitchen-table ventures
  • more individuals working for themselves or collaborating with others
  • greater participation in your healthcare and being responsible for own health
  • chips became more powerful, so doing sophisticated things with your computer, tablet, smartphone became easier (not expert needed) – even 3D printing from your home computer
  • access to knowledge is virtually unlimited from the internet – now we are mastering filtering of information (rather than where to find it) and reading multiple authors with varying viewpoints for validation
  • blogging is personal publishing and has expanded into a living resume for professional individuals
  • Google Plus is a powerful acquisition and communications tool to connect to the world

Not everyone will be a Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), or Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google), but a significant number of people have taken off on their own. The interesting thing is, these self reliant trailblazers have better odds of success than the buyer of a PowerBall ticket has of winning the jackpot.

Want more about the new trend? Read Wikipedia - To Tell The Truth

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bureaucracy, Tool Or Excuse?

Story One - A friend is going through a job change. She was working on getting out more, and walked in to an Arlington County job assistance center in Ballston. She wanted to leave invitations for a free job search techniques presentation by a nationally known outplacement consultant that was being given in DC.

A clerk took the handouts, then went into the back room to get a ruling: “You can’t leave them here. We compete with you and your group has been known to charge money.”

Story Two - I was walking in the alley behind my house. An angry man in a uniform came out and said I had to get out of the alley, it is private property. I had set up the alley while president of my condo association, and one key law was that those alleys are public way that we had to leave enough space for fire engines to get through. However, this guy, in addition to making up his own facts, was abusive and spoiling for a fight, so I walked on. Thank you, Allied Barton.

Story Three – I needed to renew my passport. I downloaded the forms and took the package over to the passport office on 19th Street. I was told if I didn’t send my application to Philadelphia, there was a hefty convenience fee for dropping it off in the center of the DC business district. If it’s not a public service facility, why is my government paying that rent?

Who makes up these “rules?”

Starting with Bureaucracy in wikipedia, we get A Bureaucracy is "a body of nonelective government officials" and/or "an administrative policy-making group."[1] Historically, bureaucracy referred to government administration managed by departments staffed with nonelected officials.[2] In modern parlance, bureaucracy refers to the administrative system governing any large institution

Bureaucracy goes back past the Greeks, and the Greeks, Romans, French, and Americans have a uniformly low opinion of it. Turns out a bureaucracy is principally known as a pile of uncontrolled functionaries, issuing rules that benefit the rule makers. There is a German who thought bureaucracy was advanced, so there you go.

The chief benefit of maintaining a bureaucracy is that it is a bitch to dismantle. It’s a rice bowl issue.

What alternatives might be used?  After all, recently we’ve got an internet, social media, enlightened self interest, etc.

Sixty years ago, the management pyramid helped close WWII and has since been replaced by the management pentagon.

A couple of years ago I noted that effective management model was based on a a network, using appropriate resources as necessary. Sometimes I lead, sometimes I support, the key is focus on providing value.

Earlier this year, General Stanley McChrystal gave a presentations at FOSE when he shared that in order to beat al Qaeda, they had to organize more like al a network structure.

So there are alternative structures, which can deliver improved performance. The key to creating more value is to decide to create value, wherever you can.

Trading intense focus on self and personal ricebowl for effectively dealing with the task at hand is a common underlying trait for better organization, esprit de corps, and results.

WordPictures – Phrases That Lit The Bulb!