Share the love, it’s Valentine’s Day

valentines day

Well today is Valentine’s Day and it’s generally a time when you show appreciation for those you love and those you care about.  A lot of people will probably be leaving work a little bit early today to go out with the folks they care most about and share some time together. I don’t believe it’s a bad time to think about showing some appreciation to those you work with too and not in a way that will get you in trouble with the handbook, but it’s always good to remember how much people sacrifice on a day to day basis for their jobs.  Any opportunity you get to remember that and more importantly let them know that, the better off you’ll be, especially as a manager or as an executive.  People put a lot of time and effort to making the organization successful, to making your team successful, and to being successful themselves on an individual basis.  Just taking a little bit of time to recognize that goes a long way.  I know that this is true where I’m concerned at least. I know that a little bit of encouragement or a compliment is all it takes to get me to do just a little bit more.  As silly as it seems, a few kind words can do wonders.  For instance, every once in a while when I remember to do the dishes or clean up a little bit and my wife recognizes it, it makes me happy or excited to do more.  I probably perform better and get more of my honey-do list done in the next few days then I did in the 6 weeks preceding it. I think it shows you the power of affirmation and just what a little bit of recognition can do for somebody.  I know it works for me but I’d be curious how other people feel about it; if they’ve recognized a difference in themselves in how they perform and how much effort they put forth when they’ve received a compliment.  Do you make a conscious effort to compliment others and what’s your perception of how that affects performance?

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.

Voice Memos: Capturing thoughts faster than you can think them

Voice memo

Over the years I have gone around and searched for different ways to get things out of my head, on paper, and in front of the right people quickly.  The solution I’ve found to be most effective and efficient is the voice memo in terms of getting the ideas out and to other people to collaborate on the quickest. I use Apple’s voice memo on the iphone on an almost a daily basis.  In fact, this blog is being dictated into my voice memo and will be transcribed and edited by one of our team members tomorrow to get posted. I really have come to depend on the voice memo as a way to remind myself of things, to capture ad hoc thoughts, because what I’ve found is that its not always convenient to write something down like when I spend time in transit to meetings and on the way to and from work. So when I’m in the car driving by myself and I have a great thought, or at least what I think is a great thought, I pull out my phone and dictate into it a little bit. In that way I can instantly capture something that would otherwise get lost. I think for a great many people, the pace of modern work life is such that if you don’t capture something right as it happens you may never get second chance at it. I mean how many great ideas do you miss by virtue of the fact that you forgot that you had a great idea? Most of us will never know. So I’ve become very aware of just how important it is to make sure that you capture these thoughts as they happen and by using this simple tool I can make sure I don’t fall victim to that.

A lot of times in the evening when I may be too tired or just not feel like taking out a notepad and writing down what I have to do the next day, I can take three minutes and just run through five or six things that I know have to happen and listen to them on the way into work the next morning. During a lunch break, if I’ve been thinking about a topic that I want to write a blog about or that I want to hash out later, I’ll dictate it into a voice memo. Then I’ll either send it on to be transcribed and then edit it after the fact or just send it on to the next person to get their input. Lately I’ve actually, as opposed to composing a email, talked through something into a voice memo which gives me the opportunity to talk myself through a problem and really see my idea stream. If that results in something too all over the place, I’ll usually go back through, listen to it, transcribe it myself, put down the salient points, and pass it on to the next person. Or if I do a halfway decent job and its something that I think the other person can get I just send it along, share it,  or pass it forward. I think it’s been a pretty simple and valuable for me. In the cases where I’ve sent on the actual voice memos themselves to team members I try to take care to make it short enough that it will get played through and I try not to send anything that is so all over the map that it would take extensive note taking skills, followed by extensive deconstruction in order to make sense of it.

It’s interesting as I’ve done more blogs via voice memo dictation how different you talk to an idea as opposed to how you write to an idea.  I don’t know if it’s making me better at speaking or better at writing but it’s certainly making me more a lot more aware of the differences.  But in the end, it’s just an incredibly powerful tool.  Part of what makes it so powerful is its availability. The one thing that almost everyone always has with them in the modern age is a mobile phone.  It never leaves your side, its always on, you’ve got a record of all the voice memos that you have previously, and if you take a little time you can categorize them fairly well.  I know that I’ve gone back and played back certain memos and it’s been a good way to hang on to ideas and again it makes it very very easy to share with other people.  So in the era of voice to text and so many advances with regard to how we collaborate, I’m curious how many other people are out there still using voice memo? Whether its on an iphone like I use, a dictatophone, or even dictating to some type of a scribe, how many people are regularly using that to communicate ideas, to condense their thoughts,  or just get things out of their head and out to other people?

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.

Visualization: The battle between I will vs. Will I

yoda

I was flipping back through  To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink again and one of the things that I noticed was a section on visualization that I thought was really interesting. I’ve talked about visualization in the past several times. I’ve talked about it in the context of meetings, negotiations, and just generally as a means of envisioning your idea of success; thereby putting yourself into a better state of mind to succeed.  There’s obviously nothing earth shattering about that idea.  Everyone from Tony Robbins to athletic coaches talk about the use of visualization as a tool, along with countless other people who preach the benefits of visualization.  What I thought was interesting is some of the most recent research they spoke about in To Sell is Human.

One particular experiment he mentions talks about the difference between saying to yourself that you can do something, making a declarative statement such as, “I can make this sale,” “I can win this negotiation,” or “I can convince this person to do x,” vs. asking yourself an interrogative question saying  something like, “Can I make this sale?” “Can I win this negotiation?” ect.  In this experiment, people were broken down into two different groups and made to solve puzzles.  Both groups were treated equally until the final minute before they were unleashed on the puzzles.  In that final minute, one group was asked to tell themselves they will solve the puzzles and the other group was told to ask themselves if they could solve the puzzles.  Interestingly, the group that was told to ask whether they could solve the puzzles routinely outperformed the other group by almost 50%. (Pink, 2012)

The logic that’s been used to explain it in the book, is the declarative group of I will do somethings, gets you a bump over the control group that didn’t say anything to themselves, didn’t visualize, didn’t do any mental preparation going into an activity because they maybe had a little more confidence; but the group that asked if they could do something were forced to think through the things that might enable them to succeed. So by saying, “Will  I convince this person?” you start thinking what have I done before like this, how have I been successful like this before, what are the things I need to do to prepare myself, and it begins to build more confidence and actually give you access to the resources and strategies to aptly finish the task successfully. By asking the question you give yourself clues as to how you’ll accomplish something and ensures that you take any of the steps that have previously made you successful before. So I just thought it was really interesting to look at what a difference, just in how you frame things in your visualizations, small changes such as can vs. will can make. I really appreciated the logic in that experiment and it’s definitely something that I will literally carry directly from the book into my own life. This experiment is something that I think really adds to visualization techniques value as they pertain to how you’re going to go forward in a meeting and in just about anything else you’re going to do. I’d be curious to know if there are other people out there who regularly use visualization before meetings,  before going into a negotiation, before you talk to your teams ect.  If you do visualize, how do you approach it?  Are you a declarative I will person or are you an interrogative person who asks if they can?

 

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.

The undervalued art of note taking

Note taking

Taking notes is probably one of the simplest things any of us does on a regular basis.  Even though it’s something we have all been done since grade school, it’s still one of the most important things we do. This may be because I’m starting to forget more things or maybe it’s the only way I can be sure to remember to do what I said I’d do in meetings. Either way, I’ve come to really rely on note taking to recall everything that occurred in meetings that was important to me and to validate that my understanding of what transpired in the meeting is the same as the other participants. If you look at the way most of us spend our daily lives, much of it is spent in meetings. I don’t have a problem with this because there is a high degree of interaction and complimentary skills that are required to get tasking done in today’s environment.  As you try to solve larger and more complex problems, you often need to draw on more diverse skill sets and meetings are a great way, if held correctly, to bring all those voices to the table and ensure that everyone is on the same page.  Without them, you end up with the situation that plagues a lot of projects which is that engineers are doing one thing, the requirements folks are doing another thing, the project manager is relegated to a bean counter role, and nobody is talking to each other.

So to avoid this situation the first step is to get everyone in the same room, on a conference call, or a video conference and start working together. That’s a great start but often times what happens at the close of that meeting is that everyone walks away with their own opinions of what occurred and what the actions items are. This doesn’t effectively move the team forward towards their goal.  It’s just essentially reporting out on silos.  So I want to focus in on note taking as a key skill in ensuring that meetings can be a little bit more effective.  As you’re getting yourself into the mind set to effectively participate in a meeting, you have to understand that your note taking can’t be so copious that you’re not able to think and participate in the meeting and be able to move the conversation forward.  If that’s the type of record you’re looking for and you’ve got an important or complex enough project, it can be very helpful to have a facilitated meeting to ensure that different facets of a problem are brought out across different groups of people.  In conjunction with that, having somebody who is skilled in taking notes that will allow everybody to freely participate in the meeting and ensure that there’s an accurate record of what transpired will help effectiveness. Now I don’t believe that that circumstance means that the individual participants in the meeting shouldn’t take their own notes, it just means that you’ll be able to have somebody whose focus is solely on the note taking.

Now in terms of taking your own notes I’m a big believer in less is more. I know I like to be participatory, so I try to focus in on just key words. With this system I sometimes end up just having a couple of different lists. I also do a lot of free association where I’ll put something in a bubble and ill associate other key words to it which really captures the overall big ideas of a meeting without spending too much time with my pen to paper. Another thing I really try to do, and this may be somewhat part of the business I’m in, is make sure I get someone’s complete name so I can look them up later to get a  reminder of what they said or so I can make sure I’m getting the right face with the right name .  I try to make sure that I list any specific technologies, specific organizations, or any proper noun types to ensure they’re captured and then I use bubbles and lines to connect those to relevant ideas.  Often what I end up with at the end of the day is a mess that looks a little bit like hieroglyphics but it’s easily understood by myself because it’s based on the associations I’ve been making in my head.  It’s essentially kind of a personal shorthand that I’ve developed over a very long time but I think it’s pretty easily reproducible.

There are a lot of folks who’ve done thinking around brainstorming concepts like Tony Buzan who popularized the concept of mind mapping.  I try to leverage those concepts and it helps me pull together the meeting afterwards.  Now ideally what will happen right after that meeting is I will walk out with that sheet of paper and within the next half hour when its freshest, but certainly before I leave for the day, I will capture the important points of the meeting and summarize it, take any action items and who’s responsible for them and summarize those, and send it out to all meeting participants.  This action is something that is an important executive function at the end of a meeting and a lot of times it ends up being passed off to an assistant or a note taker. I don’t think that’s the right way to go. In fact, there’s some really good examples of executives in academic works where they’ve done a lot of surveying of management and how they run meetings. One of the things that you’ll note is that when the summary of meetings and the handing out of action items comes from an executive in the room, there’s a higher level of buy in.  It’s just like many other things where the fact that it comes from the executive ensures that it gets done. You could say that in an organization that runs well it shouldn’t be like that but I think it’s just the way it is.

One of the most important parts of meetings is the outcomes. So as an executive, if you don’t have time to summarize the most important points and provide tasking I think you’re misallocating your time.  To me, it is the most critically important thing you can do coming out of those meetings and it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes if you’ve done a decent job of note taking going into it.  If you’re really pressed for time I don’t have a problem taking somebody else’s notes and approving the summary or cutting and pasting from it and checking the action items; but I really believe that message needs to come from the executive and it needs to have been read by them as well. So if you’re going to have meetings it’s important to get something out of them. It’s my belief that one way of ensuring that is to take good notes, reformulate those notes at the end of the meeting into to something that gives substance to the parties that are involved, and sums up any action items and who’s involved.  Otherwise why are we having meetings?  I’ve visited this topic a few other times in my blog in The Morning Meeting and The 3 P’s to Meeting Success. I’m curious to hear from everyone on this topic because this is an area that I believe is critical to success and I’d love to hear what other areas you guys think are crucial as well.

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.

Webinar Recap: Think BIg, Start Small, Scale Fast

This past week we were lucky enough to have General Dale Meyerrose host a webinar about organizational transformation and leadership called “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast.”  General Meyerrose is the first Senate confirmed President appointed Chief Information Officer for the intelligence community and has years of experience dealing with change in the highest levels of government and private business.  Below are two short highlights videos from the webinar.

If you would like to hear more from this webinar please email me at josh.millsapps@mbaoutcome.com for the complete video.

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.

MB&A: Changing the world

I’ve had a few different people ask me about the types of work we do at MB&A so I thought I would put together a few posts that highlight what we are working on as a company. Of course we do many of the things that I consider to be the bread and butter such as management consulting activities like providing advisory services, enterprise architecture, business process reengineering, and business intelligence & analysis. What I think people may find more interesting, and one of the reasons I’m excited to get to the office most days is the innovative projects we have been able to take on where we are deeply involved in creating something new for the customer. Whether it is something that is completely custom or a unique implementation or integration that meets specific client requirements, we have been able to solve some pretty complex problems for clients based on our ability to bring together the best parts of the engineering, software development and management consulting disciplines. In this post I’ll be focused on a few of our most recent projects and also provide some insight into how we leverage our strategic partners to bring unique benefit to the end customer. For today’s post I’ll focus on solutions we have developed in coordination with Troux, Salesforce.com, and the SAAB Group.

SAAB Group – Mobile Situation Awareness for Enhanced Security (MSAFE)

MB&A has developed a mobile situational awareness capability that enables organizations to bring advanced command, control, and security capabilities with them into the field to events, as well as to buildings where advanced security capabilities are needed on short notice. At the core of this system is the open architecture SAFE (Situation Awareness for Enhanced Security) software. SAAB is a leader in the Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) space and its SAFE software is a flexible, scalable and robust Security Management system designed to provide enhanced situation awareness capabilities for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Response. Based on a Command & Control system and a highly advanced Integration Platform, SAFE provides advanced capabilities managing security and efficiency needs in daily operations.

MB&A has used this software as the brain behind its mobile units and combined it other hardware and software to develop a platform from which sensors, alarms, devices, access control, radar, CCTV, network devices, etc can be controlled from a single or multiple operator stations.

SAAB

Salesforce.com – Security Assessment and Management

Our Saleforce.com app, Fedblueprint: Security Assessment and Management (SAM), was created specifically to meet the unique security needs facing our school systems today. Our app was developed for school physical security inspectors so they can conduct physical security assessments on measures such as effective use of architecture, landscaping, perimeter, parking, facility access control/interior, physical barriers, access control, and lighting to achieve improved security by deterring, disrupting, or mitigating potential threats. This assessment is built to meet federal requirements for facilities safety and the first version of Fedblueprint: SAM was used to assess 189 schools and reduced the total cost to perform security assessments by more than $25,000 on a per facility basis. This cost savings was possible because the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management did not require an investment into hardware, software and complex systems. They simply bought the assessment service the same way people use gmail, itunes, social media or iphone apps. This complex requirement can be met by SAM because Salesforce.com, one of the world’s fastest growing fortune 500 companies, is also one of the most secure, built to handle federal security requirements.

The app facilitates the assessment of security requirements. The following briefly highlights SAM’s major capabilities:

  • Includes relevant data regarding physical security standards and governance.
  • Tailored to provide an easy to use interface that is comfortable to the user community.
  • Mobile ready
  • Includes an extensible library enabling the development of comprehensive information relevant to the security.
  • Fully developed manual which can be accessed via print or online and includes coverage of every question asked on the survey as well as all of the tool’s survey related features.
  • Standard set of dashboards and analysis that enables management to understand survey progress and to ensure compliance with requirements.
  • Core set of dashboards to facilitate understanding and analysis of the data that is being gathered.
  • Core set of reports to facilitate understanding and analysis of the data that is being gathered.

The cost is incredibly low for an application that can be accessed by you and your personnel securely on a mobile device or via a web browser. With more than 100 out of the box security questions covering everything from key personnel contacts to CCTV, SAM is able to help you immediately begin to better understand the physical security posture of your organization. Since it sits on top of the Salesforce platform you also get access to the power of Salesforce.com’s inherent capabilities around document management, messaging, task management, and other capabilities that have made Salesforce.com a staple of Fortune 500 companies like Dell, Wells Fargo, and Comcast as well as the number one CRM tool in the world.

Salesforce

FedBlueprint: Investment Portfolio Manager (IPM)

Our team developed a custom report and data collector on top of the Troux transformation platform to help federal customers ingest IT investment data and understand their portfolio in the context of risk, cost, and capability. One of the hardest things to do when thinking about developing analytic components is to develop the statement encapsulating the purpose of the analytic component. Our first analytic component for Federal investment portfolio managers (IPMs) is focused on helping guide the IPM’s eye to the investments that most require attention. One of the hardest things I find in developing high-level dashboards is to resist the temptation to overcomplicate or try to service a broader audience than is really intended. Our dashboard is intended for the person in charge of managing the entire IT investment portfolio.

As such, some detail that is available from more analyst-oriented dashboards is abstracted or otherwise wrapped into the presentation layer. The design tension here – between giving enough detail to support decision making and presenting a very complex information set in a manner that is accessible – was difficult. Throughout the development we focused on identifying measures and views that were very relevant to other stakeholders. In the case of this example, we are going to find a great deal of information and views that will resonate with individual investment managers, project portfolio managers, project managers, and analysts. Keeping laser-focused on the objective of our high-level stakeholder was critical to ensuring the eventual success of the dashboard. In fact, we ended up building many of the lower level analytics required by other stakeholders in order to understand the various components of the high level analytic well enough to understand the interplay and relationships of the various components.

FedBlueprint

This work was an outgrowth of the work we did to develop our whitepaper “From Compliance to Transformation,” where we looked at specific federal requirements including Shared First, Cloud First, PortfolioStat among others and attempted to pull together a comprehensive approach to managing these various mandates in a manner that fosters transformation and organizational improvement.

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.

Just Show Up

Josh Blog 2-6-13

If anyone has ever said to you that half the battle is just showing up, I think they’re right.  I’ve written a blog post about the power of practice and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours concept; and part of the reason just showing up is half the battle is that it gets you the repetitions required to get some level of competency with something.  A big part of being successful is just showing up, being there continuing to work on things, having a routine, and being able to improve.  Another big part of this is following instructions.  If you show up and you’re not doing the right things, practicing the right behaviors, or practicing the right skills then there is no point.  You’re not going to get as much benefit out of showing up as you could have.

One of the things you realize, particularly as you get a little bit older, is that time really is the most precious commodity. So how you spend the hours of your day, and the days of your months are cumulative and important.  If you want to get to 10,000 hours of practice or repetition of any given thing you’re going to have to regularly show up and do it, and the quality of that practice is important in determining how many days and how many repetitions you’ll actually require to master it.  I know that in jiu jitsu there is a lot of emphasis put on not just repetition and on showing up, but on perfect practice and that every imperfect repetition requires at least two perfect repetitions to erase the stain of the imperfect one.  That’s a valuable thought in our work world as well. So as you start to think about the things that you’re doing every day to improve yourself and to improve your performance on the job, it’s important to focus on doing those things right and taking the right approach to them.

I also think that there is a sort of a corollary to perfect practice and the problems that come from imperfect practice, which is perception.  The perception in the work world of how you carry yourself and your actual performance is probably dictated by how well you’re doing your daily routine and how focused you are on doing things the right way. How you do those little things every day creates a long term lasting impression of who you are on your coworkers, your teammates, your leadership, and your boss.  This perception and impression is going to have an effect on how they interact with you, which will in turn have enormous long term effects on how successful you are.  Not only is this true in work, but to take it back the other direction it’s true in jiu jitsu as well or any endeavor really. If you have an instructor or a mentor that’s kind enough to share their time to help you improve, one of the things that they expect in return is for you to invest time in yourself to carry things off the right way.

I know that personally when you’re really trying to help somebody succeed, it’s disheartening if you see them maybe not putting in the same level of effort to help themselves as you are.  So I think it’s not only important to be aware of how you’re working toward something, but also to be aware of how you think others perceive your efforts.  I know that some people will say, “Well it shouldn’t matter how other people see you, just work hard and you’ll get where you want to go,” but I think other people are a good barometer.  Sometimes we’re not very good judges of ourselves.  So if you could take another person’s perspective and see things through their eyes, you may be more honest with yourself then you otherwise would be.  I don’t fall in the camp of “just focus on you because that’s all you can control,” because I think there’s sometimes a tendency for us to not be as truthful to ourselves as we would be.  Anyway, it’s important to show up, it’s important to do things the right way because there is much less value in just showing up if you’re not doing things the right way, and I think it’s important to understand how other people see you.  So think about what people see of you from the standpoint of what are you doing when you the get in the door, and what are you doing as you execute on the job because those things are going to dictate how much of themselves they put towards helping you and what you do.  Let me reiterate that it’s not likely somebody’s going to help someone who is not working hard themselves.  I’d be very interested to hear what other people think about this.  Have they had an experience where they reached out and invested a lot of time and effort in trying to help somebody to succeed and felt as though they wanted it more than that person?

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.

Creators vs. Conquerors

creators vs. conqueorors

I think most people have had the feeling sitting across the table from someone that the only thing they are interested in is how much of a deal they are going to get, what’s in it for them, or some other obvious self-interest. I don’t have an issue with this to a degree. The fact is that self interest plays a large role in many of the things we do on a daily basis and on some level our survival is based on acknowledging and acting on self interest. I think everyone should recognize and respect the self-interest of others. Getting compensated for your talents and labor keeps a roof over your head, food on the table and enables us to share with others. I certainly don’t have an issue with that on any level. What frustrates me is the Conqueror. The person who isn’t simply interested in ensuring they get their due, but that they achieve victory. They start with a view of the world that is essentially a pie and then spend their life trying to ensure they can eat as much of it as possible. This is not my preferred partner and I think people who take this view of life and business will miss many of the opportunities that come with being a Creator. Creator’s see the world as the ingredients that go into the pie and spend their lives attempting to make the biggest pie. Of course as the pie gets bigger you need more hands to help knead the dough, add ingredients and best of all do the taste testing. I don’t think that people are stuck forever in one role or another and I know that I have been tempted on many occasions to become a Conqueror because I tried to create something and failed or I ended up with the small half of the pie. To this point I think I’ve done a good job of resisting this urge because I simply do not see it as a sustainable path forward in terms of growing your business or your personal success. Below I’ve listed three tips for taking the Creator’s view on any situation:

  1. Take the other persons viewpoint: This is great advice in many situations but it is critically important to creating a bigger opportunity from what you see on the table at first glance. What you see is framed by who you are and what you want out of an opportunity. Looking at it from the other person’s viewpoint or multiple parties as appropriate, may present unique opportunities to develop something bigger than what you could by simply framing it based on your view.
  2. Think how you can help: Helping people makes you feel good and sometimes people repay your kindness with their own, which may benefit you or simply pass that kindness along to others. Thinking of how you can help also lends itself to understanding how you may be able to work together for some greater goal. I have great confidence in my own abilities and I know that I need others to succeed. Thinking about what others may be trying to achieve has enabled me to both facilitate and be a part of some success stories that I would never have contemplated without thinking of someone else first.
  3. Think different: Seth Godin has a great post I covered in my post “The Icarus Deception: The Good Failabout not failing in traditional fashion just because it is the way it has always been done. The world changes a little bit faster everyday and that means that to be successful you are going to have to change with it and attempt things in new ways. I have heard from countless entrepreneurs, businessmen and leaders that you cannot be afraid to fail. I believe that this is true not just when you are evaluating whether or not to take a chance but as you evaluate the approach you are going to take.

The world is full of copycats and copycats are the ultimate conquerors. If your strategy is to be the cheapest they attempt to be cheaper still. This is a zero sum game based on execution and operational excellence. This almost always favors the entrenched party. Thinking outside the box and finding a new way to create value may be easier than following a more traditional path of attempting to do the same thing someone else is doing just better.

Are you a Creator or a Conqueror? Which behaviors are encouraged in your organization? I know that many sales organizations promote conqueror type behavior. Is there a way around this?

 

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.

Battle Royale: Talent vs. Determination

Battle Royale

I think everyone has heard the saying, “Hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”  In my experience, this statement holds true.  I know that personally, I’ve always felt confident that I could outwork the other side through sheer force of determination and will alone. Whether it is athletics, academics, or work, there is almost always a way to get through a problem.  As I look back at the times when I was hiring somebody, especially when I first started looking at different people, I was hiring a lot of people based on talent and potential alone which hasn’t always worked out as well as it seemingly should have.  I recently addressed this conundrum in a blog post after I read a great interview in the New York Times with Kon Leong. He mentions that one of the things he most tries to identify in the interview process is not only smarts, but drive too.  He wanted people that were going to work hard because with those two things you could solve almost everything else.   It really changed the way I think about things.  Have you spent a lot of time being frustrated with people who you just know better than their performance shows? You know how talented they are, how smart they are, but you just aren’t seeing the results you expect from them.  I’ve sat there and wondered why this is.  Maybe they just don’t have the tools you thought they did, but I don’t think that’s the case.  I think the tools are there and maybe it’s just a lack of drive. Maybe it’s my failure to motivate or find the right way to get through to them but either way, as a manager you should position yourself to recruit for drive as well as intelligence in hopes of alleviating this problem.

I know that this may seem obvious but I think the part that we often miss is asking the questions that let you evaluate their drive.  That’s something that I’ve changed a lot and is going to be a much bigger focus in terms of trying to determine how to elicit those responses that give insight into whether people are truly driven.  I don’t know if everyone has a general drive to succeed.  Ideally, you want to find people that are passionate about solving problems and the things that you do at a minimum.  So it’s important to figure out what the right questions are and how do you make that determination early.  It’s never going to be a perfect evaluation. You have to recognize that you’re going to end up with some folks in your organization that are really smart and really talented but no matter what, you’re just not going to be able to get them to perform the way that you feel they should.  At some point you’re going to have to move those people out because if you’ve got a collection of people that have that drive and that ambition and you have a couple folks that aren’t on the program, you will not reach your potential as an organization.

This is just like being on a team when you’re a kid and your coach would say things like, “Everyone is a team here and we need to pull together,” or “We’re only as strong as our weakest link,” and I think these clichés among others are just as applicable in your work life as they were in athletics as a kid.  If you have somebody that doesn’t have the desire or the drive to push, they’re not there for the same reasons, or they’re detracting from everybody else’s efforts then you need to really question how long you want to wait for that drive or ambition to appear; and how many times are you going to attempt to motivate them before you make a decision that you are going have to part ways. If someone isn’t living up to the set standard and you can’t get them there fairly quickly, I think you need to make a decision about their future in your organization.  You can be as kind as you possibly can be about it but after I’ve tried a few things such as having a discussion with them about level of effort and it’s still not working out, it’s time to let go or otherwise you’re jeopardizing your whole team.

I’ve also come to the belief over time that it’s a lot easier to teach technical skill or soft skill, or interacting with the client than it is to teach drive.  So if you get somebody and you start to wonder if the effort just isn’t there or maybe something is distracting and it persists over a long period of time, you are never going to get that person out of that behavior.  At least that’s my general belief with the rare case that is the exception to the rule, but that type of behavior casts a pall over the rest of your organization and is just not worth whatever talent that one person may have.  I’d be very curious to hear what other people’s experiences are.  Have you had a happy ending to a story where you had somebody with a lot of talent but you just couldn’t get them to work and you found a way to motivate them?  I certainly don’t want to discount a manger’s ability to motivate or find the right way to get somebody to do things but I sometimes think there is too much emphasis on mangers and leadership getting people to excel.  Sometimes you just need to understand that you will not be able to motivate that person and you have to just cut them loose, but I’d love to hear other people’s takes on this issue.

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.