Just change the name already and start working forward

I grew up a Raiders fan. My Mom’s side of the family is from El Segundo, California where the team practiced for years and it was just a natural thing for a kid to grow up love Marcus Allen and the Raiders. When we moved to DC, I tried to hold out and stay true to the Raiders but eventually the home team won out. I converted to the burgundy and gold and never looked back…until now.

I’m a sixteenth Blackfoot which isn’t enough to become an official member, but my opinion on this has nothing to do with my tiny drop of Indian heritage and everything to do with something most people learn in kindergarten. Step one to getting along with people and being successful is just being nice. My mom would always say “Just start by being nice and think will generally be ok.” I’m pretty sure the team didn’t choose the name to be hurtful. So why should they change it? Because if a large group of people are hurt by something you should stop doing that thing if you can.

Rather than debating who is in charge of who’s feelings or talking about the “storied” history of the franchise. Just change the name. This isn’t going away and eventually the name is going to change. The question is when and how gracefully.

For management this is an opportunity to do make the right decision. I guarantee there are people in the organization that know this is going to happen and will be relieved when it does. There are also those thinking that changing now is an admission they were wrong to not change the name before. That changing is an admission of previous guilt and wrong thinking. There may even be a few who think the name is ok and don’t understand why choosing a name for their team that a large number of people find offensive is ok.

I think its the first two groups of people that need to think hard about what the future holds. The third group missed the just be nice lesson in kindergarten and probably isn’t going to change their minds anytime soon. In business there is the concept of sunk cost and I think that applies here. While the team’s management has expended resources both real and emotional on keeping their tradition and their name, that time has passed. It is now simply a matter of when the name change is going to occur. The sooner it happens the sooner you can begin the process of building new traditions and focusing on the game and their on the field product. Instead of spending precious time and resources fighting change and maintaining this link to the past the team should be working to move forward.

In management clinging to the past and tradition can often hide a fear about the path forward or how to change. I’m not saying there aren’t people in the organization that believe that keeping the name is ok or that don’t understand why anyone cares. I’m just saying that I don’t believe the team will be called what it is today in five years and rather than focusing efforts on pushing that date out further management should embrace the inevitable and begin working towards a new era. I think that the team’s focus on maintaining its name shows an unwillingness to understand that this is unwinnable fight and a lack of thinking about the opportunities a name change might bring. Great managers know what battles to fight and find opportunity in challenging circumstances.

Until this team figures out how to move forward I’ll be putting the silver and black on and trying to stay up late enough to re-discover my Raider roots.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Hard work beats talent that doesn’t work hard…

Be better, not just bigger

Be better, not just bigger

I never missed a meal growing up…ever. As the oldest of six kids you can tell who made the dinner table a priority. Our family has five skinny kids and me, the guy who never met a menu item he didn’t like. Along with it came all the stupid big kid nicknames like Moose, Big Poppa, and BigUn. One thing you get told over and over again when you are always the biggest kid is to be careful not to hurt the other kids. Of course it wasn’t all bad and being a bit bigger helped me get recruited by schools and pay for college, something that was otherwise going to be a challenge.

As I’ve gotten older and taken up jiu jitsu as a means of staying in shape I’m still often the biggest guy which still means being careful not to hurt people. It also means focusing harder on technique and the proper way of doing things. One thing that is easy to do when you have a 100 pounds on the guy you are working out with is to become focused on the outcome and use size to ensure you win. This may make you feel a little better about yourself in the near term but it is a surefire way to slow your development. In fact it completely ruins any feedback loop you may be trying to establish that would enable you to measure your progress. One thing I have done because of this is to really try to focus on proper execution over results and ensuring that I’m doing things correctly so that I can compensate for some of the natural advantages that size and strength bring, so that I’m prepared should the day come when I don’t have those advantages. I’ve also made it a habit of finding people who are better than me that can expose my weaknesses despite any physical advantage.

These are the same challenges that many of us face in developing new skills as managers and executives. Its sometimes hard to tell if we are getting better because the power of the position makes the feedback loop a bit more fuzzy. Nobody really wants to tell their boss that the new skill they are working on really isn’t hitting on all cylinders. Because of this is is critical to focus on your execution and really try to build your own ability to gauge your progress. It is also critical to identify and encourage those that are willing to provide you with constructive feedback to be forthcoming. As we move through our careers and advance it becomes harder and harder to get feedback on our performance because there are fewer opportunities and individuals that can provide that feedback. Contrary to the popular belief that things get easier as you advance in your career, increasing your skills often actually gets harder. Figuring out ways to ensure that you continue to progress means improving your internal capability to critique your performances and cultivating relationships with others that are willing and capable of providing this feedback to you becomes more and more critical as you refine your skills and advance in your career.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.