Archive | September, 2011

Axioms #9: The Poppins Principle

28 Sep

“Do you want to do this fast… or do you want to do this right?” is an important question.  If the answer is fast, then let’s do it fast as possible so we can get to fixing it as soon as possible.

Mary Poppins is a great story/video full of information about how to become a better manager. 

One of her best is “Well Begun Is Half Done.”  In brief, getting anything off to a good start improves the likelihood of success.  Odd thing, some people seem to often start off in a hole, then neglect another aphorism: If you are in a hole, stop digging.

When we look at complex systems this principle seems to be magnified many fold. Chaos theory states that small perturbations in initial conditions within complex systems (people and organizations are complex systems) can have enormous impacts at a later time.

Remember the 5Ps: proper planning produces premier performance.

Beyond Luck is now an e-book on Amazon.  At $6.95 it’s a great deal.

Manager From Hell Self-Test

21 Sep

Following up on the “Watch the Waitress” blog.

Over the years of working in organizations I have compiled a list of managerial practices that employees find disrespectful and incompetent.  Consider using this list as a private self-test.  Answering yes to any one of these suggests that you need to do some thoughtful reflection about your management style.


–       sarcasm directly to a person (Latin root – “tearing flesh”)

–       condescension, “talking down” to people

–       not listening, ignoring

–       sniping (talking about someone when you should be talking to them)

–       punishing

–       writing policies or scolding “all” for one person’s misbehavior

–       breaking confidences

–       asking for input when the decision has been made

–       not explaining why

–       giving negative feedback with others present

–       “talking over” people in meetings

–       habitually coming to meetings late

–       multi-tasking or side-talking during meetings

–       e-communication all hours of the day and night

–       e-mail offences too many to enumerate

Actually let me enumerate what may be the most disliked email offense, overusing “reply all.”

Beyond Luck is now an e-book on Amazon.  At $6.95 it’s a great deal.

What a Teen Taught an Executive

14 Sep

Several weeks ago I presented a seminar on leadership and during the Q & A one person thoughtfully noted it is difficult to maintain balance between job and family when all our technology increasingly makes us available 24/7.

Later that week the CEO of a company told me a story about his 13 year-old son.  Several years ago the family set out west on a vacation and a couple hours into the trip his son asked him where his Blackberrry was.  He stated that he didn’t bring it and his son replied “Dad, it will be swell to have you with us on this trip.”  The incident was an epiphany for this leader, several years later he remembered and was recounting the story.

I was reminded of a statement in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Stephen Covey notes that few of us will be thinking about spending more time at work when we are dying.  Consider the importance of work – life balance.

Beyond Luck is now an e-book on Amazon.  At $6.95 it’s a great deal.

“I Could See So Far Because……

7 Sep

I stood on the shoulders of giants.”   – Isaac Newton

This week the Greater Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce kicks of its 22nrd year of their Community Leadership Program.

One of the operating assumptions of this year long program is that “Knowing is pre-eminent.” To become a leader you need to be well informed, to stand on the shoulders of others’ knowledge, to perceive the greater pespective.  Hence a multiple day program that examines the major facets of the greater community.

Fundamental to this understanding is an awareness of how the workplace and workers are changing.  It is clear that all advanced societies are moving work away from manual to mental, the “knowledge worker” Drucker described so cogently.  Understanding how to manage and motivate the contemporary worker is an interesting challenge.

Beyond Luck is now an e-book on Amazon.  At $6.95 it’s a great deal.