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The Soul of a Project #30: Dealing With Shame!

by Gary Monti on December 4, 2012

Ever have someone melt down right in front of you for no apparent reason? Or, has someone dug in unrealistically? What about another person feeding the gossip mill in a rather vicious manner working to get people to side with him? On the flip side, there’s the person who shrugs her shoulders blind to the destruction caused by her last decision. These individuals may all have something in common – shame. Shame as used here refers to situations where a lack of self-esteem has been brought to the surface and the person tries behavior that is meant to provide some form of self-protection.

To learn a bit more about it the etymology of shame may help. At the core it means, “to cover.” So, when someone takes on an apparently irrational behavior it may be an unconscious attempt to protect, to cover the sense of being defective. The irrational part puts it in the realm of a coping mechanism, which is an unhealthy response learned or created to try and deal with a problem, real or perceived. The word “irrational” is a tip that the current events have triggered something from the past about which the person experiences an irrationally low sense of self, a sense of shame.

For example, you might be working with an extremely good engineer who gets angry and belligerent when asked to speak in a formal setting with clients. He might say he has plenty of work to do and insists sales should be pulling their weight and earn their commissions instead of relying on the people who do the work and have to reach billable hour goals to also have to sell the project. No matter how much you talk with the engineer, saying how good his work is, this is a chance to shine, etc., it all seems to go nowhere.

In some consulting situations like this I’ve had to dig deeper (working with a therapist) to find out a grade school teacher in front of the class ridiculed the individual. No other adult was sensitive to or helped this future engineer work through the situation in a healthy way. He was left thinking it was his fault and that he was (and still is) defective. Consequently, he covered the problem by avoiding formal speaking situations and, when needed, through belligerence.  For what it is worth, I run into shame-based problems with some regularity. They typically are a main contributor to the difficulties the organization is experiencing. You know what I am talking about, the person who limits their career or gets fired over something they just can’t get beyond.

So what can you do in such a situation? First, offer compassion, acceptance, and empathy. Be honest and state the problem as you see it and the challenge the individual faces. It is being a friend and, in the words of Carl Jung, “If everyone had good friends there’d be no need for therapists.” Keep in mind you aren’t their mother so limits are required. When that limit is reached it is time to escalate, which can be very uncomfortable when a friend is involved. It is the best thing to do. Without honesty in the situation a cost is incurred which has price tags associated with it, ranging from money to stress. It might be good for an outsider to come in and look at the situation and be the “bad guy” who pushes for needed changes.

In any case, simply riding over it and trying to pretend the irrational behavior can be absorbed or ignored will just drive everyone else crazy and provide no help for the person feeling the shame. On the positive side, as difficult as the situation is, when genuine friendship is extended and a healthy confrontation occurs, if the person with the difficulties really wants to do better, he is eventually appreciative. The situation can get better and profitability has a better shot at going up.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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The Soul of a Project #4: Project and Poetry

by Gary Monti on February 16, 2012

How do you “grab” team members’ attention? What gets them going to the point they maintain a positive, aggressive sense of completing the project even when there are difficulties that seem insurmountable. Simple, use poetry.

For technical fields dominated by men this may seem counter-intuitive, almost strange. There is a legitimate magic (for want of a better word) to being poetic. Now, before you go off thinking this is about picnics in the spring, puppies, and flowers spend a minute here and see if what follows makes sense.

More and more about less and less

Prose says more and more about less and less. Think of how many pounds of paper reports could be printed or the number of hard drive gigabytes used tracking project information. Is this the soul of the project? No more than pathology reports are the soul of the patient. Yes, it is good information but, no, it fails to grasp the essence of the person.

Prose and detailed reports are outside facing. To grab team members’ attention communications need to be inward facing. Now that sure sounds like a paradox! It isn’t. And this is where poetry comes in.

Less and less about more and more

When we strike a cord with someone the musical metaphor is very apt. The listener resonates with what is being said! There is a harmonizing with what excites, angers, scares, etc., the listener. This inward response leads to listener to feel they are being seen. What is on the inside connects with the outside.

The poetic aspect is the ability to choose a sentence, phrase, or word that nails the situation. Think of someone saying “Beuller” repeatedly with a deadpan tone. If that doesn’t bring a grin to your face I don’t know what would. It ties in to the entire angst of trying to make it through high school while keeping your sanity…something that happens to be quite similar to making it through some projects. That one word is poetic. There are other such examples such as Quisling for someone who flatters those with power so they can get a piece for themselves and abusively dominate those under them.

In the book, Mythical Man Month, by Fred Brooks, there is the classic poetic admonition regarding crashing schedules, “Avoid thinking that if one woman can have a baby in 9 months that 9 women can have a baby in one month.” There is nothing to add to that! It defines the possible insanity of crashing exquisitely.

So where does this leave the reader? If you need to connect with the team find your poetry and share it. Think of what you resonate with and see if it can be distilled to a common experience, a word or phrase, some visual, etc. and put it out there for the team. With that at the core you can then spin all the necessary prose. With everyone getting a good read on the patient…er…project, the reports find their place and add to the teams’ ability to gauge what the next best move should be.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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Flexible Focus #76: The Art of Abundance

by William Reed on November 4, 2011

In the last eight articles we have looked at themes related to significance and focus, finding what matters most. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart.

The images are assembled in the Mandala shown here, referenced from the articles and downloads below. In the conventional Mandala fashion, they are marked A (bottom center), B (left center), C (top center), D (right center), E (bottom left), F (top left), G (top right), F (bottom right).

Here are a few notes to set your thoughts in motion. For easy reference, and to trigger new insights, download the Mandala Charts and review the original articles from each of the links below.

A FLEXIBLE MINDSCAPE (From Flexible Focus #67: A-Chart vs B-Chart)

The history of civilization is filled with fascinating examples of people who were unable to see or appreciate new points of view.

In this series we have introduced two levels of focus for the Mandala Chart, the 9 frame A-Chart 3X3 Matrix and the 64 frame B-Chart 8X8 Matrix, developed by Matsumura Yasuo, the founder of the Mandala Chart Method. You might compare them to two different levels of magnification in a telescope or a microscope, where the shift of focus instantly transports you to a new world. Only in this case the same lens can take you to either the microscopic or the telescopic view, in any mindscape you can imagine.

Moreover, like the longitude and latitude lines we impose on the earth for navigation, the Chart can help you get your bearings and understand the relationship of the parts to the whole. Without this you are like a mariner set adrift at sea without compass, map, or sextant. No wonder so many people are lost in life.

The difference with the Mandala Chart is that instead of a GPS (Global Positioning System), it serves as an LPS (Life Positioning System).

 

ONGOING RENEWAL (From Flexible Focus #68: The Principle of Improvisation)

The juggler maintains control by letting go. The only way to maintain the juggling pattern, or any other improvisation, is to continually catch and release.

The 8th Principle of the Mandala Chart is the Principle of Improvisation. This is the spirit of continuous improvement, the promise of ongoing renewal. Everyone encounters obstacles in life. How you face and overcome them is the key to your character, and ultimately to what you experience in life.

Why do people resist change, when it is the only constant in life? One reason is the fear of loss of control, even though the degree of control itself is dubious from the start. The Mandala Chart reminds us that our world is complexly constructed, and that it appears very differently depending on how we frame it. So many factors are beyond our direct control that the only real control that we may have is in how we look at and engage with it.

Rather than wrestling with things over which you have little or no control, why not master your mind through the Mandala?

 

THE ROYAL ROAD TO ENJOYMENT (From Flexible Focus #69: The 8 Frames of Life—Leisure)

Another way to view the frame of Leisure is not as a separate compartment, but as an element of each and every frame.

Children laugh between 300~400 times a day, whereas in adults the number drops to less than 20. What happened to them?!

According to Dr. Madan Kataria, Founder of the Laughter Yoga Movement, adults need a reason to laugh, whereas children laugh for laughter’s sake, as the sun shines and water flows. One characteristic of children’s laughter is that it always come with active play. Perhaps adults laugh little because by comparison they are relatively sedentary.

In Aikido training we frequently laugh as we throw and and are thrown on the mat. The humor is not like slapstick comedy, as when somebody slips on a banana peel. Nor is from an intellectual play on words, nor a twist in an improbable situation, nor is it disrespectful. The laughter in Aikido is similar to the laughter of child’s play. It simply can’t be helped.

Find something that you can engage with in such a way that it makes you laugh! In Japanese this kind of activity is known as a shumi (趣味)often translated as a hobby or pastime, but the etymology of the characters (走 (run) + 取 (take) = to go towards. 味 = to taste) show it to mean a joyful pursuit. To run after, to taste, and to enjoy!

Laughter is at the core of Leisure, the 8th Frame of Life in the Mandala Chart. No matter how much money you spend on leisure, without laughter it is all a grim business. Store bought pleasure doesn’t dig as deep, or last as long as the enjoyment that wells up from inside. Leisure should be rejuvenating, invigorating, delighting, yet when forced it can be draining, damaging, debauching.

Leisure is not just for weekends and holiday vacations. It is something that you can enjoy all year round, even as you work, if you approach it with the right spirit, that of enjoying what you do. Perhaps the 8th category could be renamed Laughter, the royal road to enjoyment.

 

SWIM UPSTREAM (From Flexible Focus #70: The Carp of Creativity)

In time the resistance you felt in front of you seems to be replaced by a counter current pushing from behind which drives you forward and keeps you in creative flow.

If you have ever been in Japan in early May then you will remember how the landscape is covered with carp streamer kites (koinobori), suspended on high poles and streaming in the wind. These are to celebrate Children’s Day (Boy’s Day) on May 5th, and are flown in hopes that boys will grow up strong and healthy. This national holiday follows the Girl’s Day Japanese Doll Festival on March 3rd. The symbolism of the koinobori is based on the legend that the carp swims against the stream, climbs a waterfall, and becomes a dragon. It is a powerful picture of the power of swimming against the stream, the very opposite of going with the flow.

Author Steven Pressfield wrote a book called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which describes a process by which writers, artists, musicians, and anyone engaged in a creative endeavor can overcome the internal and external resistance which comes of swimming upstream to create something new. In some ways, the stream acts and filters out all of those who lack the resolve to press through and create something new. After all, it is much easier to simply allow yourself to be swept along with whatever else goes downstream. As Pressfield says, it takes a special mindset to overcome resistance and achieve the unlived life within.

You need something other than sheer will power to help you navigate against the stream. You need fins and a strong tail to weave your way against the current and overcome gravity. When it comes to publishing and presenting, the Mandala Chart can give you an added advantage in this process.

 

ANATOMY OF A FAN (From Flexible Focus #71: The 3rd Mandala Chart Festival 2011)

The vision for the future is to make the Mandala Chart Method widely available in analog and digital form, so that people may practice and benefit from it wherever they be.

The 3rd Annual MANDALA CHART FESTIVAL was held in Tokyo on Saturday 24 November 2011. With over 100 attendees, participants enjoyed presentations, recognition of contest winners, a experts panel discussion, introduction of new Mandala products, and a party to meet and make new friends. The Festival Keynote was delivered  by the founder of the Mandala Chart method, Matsumura Yasuo, with presentation from one of the directors of the Mandala Chart Association, a presentation on how to study Peter Drucker’s philosophy with the Mandala Chart, as well as celebration of success stories using the Mandala Chart method.

This was the 3rd year for the festival to be held, and it was with some reservations with the mood in the wake of the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami disaster. However, the Association decided to hold the festival because of the importance of Mandala Chart education and applications to Japanese society, and to support those who are already dedicated to its practice.

Participants each received a full color copy of the 41 Mandala Chart Contest entries, from which 13 prizes were awarded for excellence and originality, as well as for effectiveness in applications ranging from business management to personal growth. Each entry was in the form of an A-Chart or a B-Chart, featured on the right hand page opposite an explanation of the Chart on the facing page. The explanation itself was in the format of an A-Chart, with the Theme in the center, surrounded by A) Profile, B) Overview, C) Application, D) Benefits, E) Recommended for, F) Why now?, G) Future Projects, and H) In a Word.

Serving as one of the directors of the Mandala Chart Association, I also made an entry in Japanese, the English translation of which appeared in an earlier article in this series, Flexible Focus #63: SAMURAI WALK.

 

RITUAL ENHANCES ENGAGEMENT (From Flexible Focus #73: The Power of Ritual!)

The coolest thing that I have discovered about ritual is that the more you engage with it, the more it transforms from a routine into a journey of discovery.

 

There is an energy crisis that rarely makes the front page, yet affects you each and every day. That is the internal energy crisis that comes from lack of full engagement in what you do.

Energy is a combination of spirit and vigor, which determines how much you enjoy your work, contributes to your staying power, and improves your performance. The crisis occurs when you do not have enough energy to meet and surpass expectations.

If your energy is not up to the task, then you are likely to perform poorly or put it off until later, neither way a productive strategy. Continuing to work like this will lead to burnout, or put you in the cue for the exit door.

If you feel out of synch like this, it is easy to blame the boss, complain about your colleagues, or decide that you deserve better. And perhaps you do. The problem is that entitlement has never been a ticket to empowerment.

The superior strategy is to navigate with full engagement, because its energy empowers you to enjoy and accomplish more, and actually increases your options on the path.

One of the most useful ways to generate energy is the power of ritual, developing a personal power routine. Institutionalized ritual is nothing new. It has been practiced for centuries as a means of cultivating energy in groups. It has also proved effective in enhancing performance in sports, and many top athletes stick to their rituals religiously.

 

FROM METHOD TO MASTERY (From Flexible Focus #74: Ritual Empowerment)

Without practice you will end up with more froth than finish. This applies as much in life as it does in the dojo.

One of the purposes of ritual is to develop personal power, to make yourself strong first, so that you can then go out and help others become strong.

People often confuse ritual with routine, when in fact they are nearly opposite. Routines dull your senses and crush your spirit, whereas when practiced properly rituals can renew your mind and body.

An essential way to discover something new is to visit the same place.

This was known by Confucius (206 BC~220 AD), and immortalized in his proverb,

Discover something new in the old (温故知新 onko chishin).

It was also known by Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who lived around 500 BC, and who famously wrote,

You can not step into the same river twice.

People who don’t have a personal power ritual often ask, how can you keep doing the same thing, over and over again? But is a game of golf ever the same? Doesn’t the artist see ordinary things with a fresh eye?

Similarly, training in martial arts or calligraphy is never boring, or you are there for the wrong reasons.After you have captured and secured something of value for yourself, you can do even better by sharing your knowledge with others.Blog about it on your platform. Share it on Social Media. It has never been easier.

The important thing to remember is that understanding does not equal recall. Remind yourself that “I understand means I can do!”

A takeaway is a breakaway from the habit of forgetting to apply what you have learned. What happens to this knowledge if you don’t capture or share it? Try writing on water and see how long the impression lasts.

 

ENOUGH FOR EVERYBODY (From Flexible Focus #75: Tofu Wars and the Art of Abundance)

It may take a stretch of the imagination to connect melodious beans to abundance, wealth, and richness, but it is a happy image, and abundance is different from the scarcity mentality which leads to winner-takes-all competition.

The interesting thing about scarcity is that it surfaces the underlying mentality that was there all the time. Scarcity can bring out patience and the spirit of community, as it did following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan at the roots; or it can trigger riots and panic in the spirit of every man for himself.

This is not something that you cultivate at the last minute, but rather the result of the culture, or the cultivation that precedes the occurrence. It is in fact the fruits of the underlying mentality, not the outward conditions that we see. Abundance vs Scarcity. Enough for everybody, or get yours while you can.

We see this played out in the world’s economies. It is precisely the scarcity mentality which causes even the very wealthy to play a stingy and greedy game. And it is also the abundance mentality which enables truly wealthy people to be generous and leave a legacy that helps others. The former suffer from tunnel vision (either/or), while the latter see the world in full surround (both/and). A broad field of vision is characteristic of flexible focus, and is the best way we can be open to creative solutions that help everyone, rather than just the self-serving.

Use the Mandala Chart to open your mind to the mentality of abundance, and demonstrate what you know through what you do.

 

NOTE: The articles in the Flexible Focus series are updated with graphics, links, and attachments on the FLEXIBLE FOCUS Webbrain, a dynamic and navigable map of the entire series. It has a searchable visual index, and is updated each week as the series develops.

FINI: This article completes the Art of Flexible Focus Series. However, this is not the end! I am planning in November 2011 to release an adapted and abridged version of this series in book form, both Kindle and print editions. If you would like information on how to obtain this book, please contact me by e-mail, with the words ZOOM LENS FOR YOUR LIFE in the subject line.

We thank you for your support and dedicated readership!

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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As the Paradigm Shifts #R: Resistance

by Rosie Kuhn on August 18, 2011

I’m experiencing resistance to writing this blog. I feel angry, frustrated and distracted by, well … It’s more that I’m allowing myself to get distracted; that way I can avoid being with what I don’t want to be with.

You might be asking – as I would, if I were you, why I’m resisting writing if I’m in the business of writing .

Even though I enjoy writing, it’s challenging at times to put words and sentences together in a way that articulates what I’m wanting to say. Sometimes it comes easy and every so often it’s more challenging to get down on paper exactly what’s wanting to be said. In this moment I’m trying to make sense of the idea that resistance is an important concept to bring into this series on spirituality in business. I’m an intuitive writer and sometimes I’m not the thinker here. I’m just transcribing what’s coming through me. I know that sounds a little whacked, however I find that this way of writing is far more enjoyable, revealing and insightful. The point is that sometimes I have to deal with confusion, uncertainty, doubt, and on occasion feelings of being an inadequate loser. I resist having to confront these beliefs about myself; I’d rather go do something easy and fun, where I don’t feel vulnerable to humiliation.

I guess this is the point, isn’t it. That quite often there are aspects of our work that we resist because we don’t like being engaged in those activities that challenge us. We get bugged by people, places or things and put the brakes on, dig in our heels, avoid, distract or ignore what’s in front of us in service to resistance, which is in service to avoiding the discomfort of vulnerability.

Resistance at Work

My work in corporations brings me face to face with people resisting the very work they are paid to do. I’m stymied by the degree of resistance to do what individuals are hired to do; the lack of collaboration that they agreed to, the lack of leadership and management they were trained to do. People are resisting doing what they’ve come here to do. I find that fascinating!

For many, the rules of the game in any organization are unknown, so you have to play your best poker face, your best everything, always – if you want to get ahead, get that raise or praise. You have to resist direct confrontation or insults; you might resist sexual innuendos. You have to resist getting fired and some people resist getting promoted, but they can’t say that – it’s not politically correct.

One specific manager I’ve worked with in the Silicon Valley was threatened by anyone who showed any inkling of being smarter than he was. He had many opportunities to empower his team members in ways that would enhance their performance, however because of his belief that no one could think better than him, he resisted acknowledging and encouraging his direct reports. Many of his direct reports shared with me that they were frustrated and felt limited in their capacity to do their work. The morale of the whole team was diminished because this manager was afraid that someone might outdo him.

This isn’t uncommon – we all know that. Resistance runs rampant in every institution, enough so that we are resistant to calling this game to a halt. There is something at stake! That something is precious enough that we don’t want to give it up. That something has a big price tag on it. Actually it has two price tags on it. One is the sale price – this is the price tag is what you are selling your soul for (Gag me with a spoon!). This price tag reflects the selling of our integrity, our truth, fulfillment, for the sake of power, position, control – and as always the illusion of invulnerability.

Resistance, as a Muscle

Resistance is an interesting set of muscles that we exercise in service to developing strength, control and power. It’s also a survival mechanism we’ve developed over time, and quite often, like many of our survival mechanisms it becomes automatic and unconscious. We’ve become unaware of why we are engaging those specific muscles in the first place. But a point that I want to make here is that we have no idea how much energy it takes to resist. It’s something you might want to think about.

Resistance looks different for everyone, but what’s important is for you to discover, recognize and acknowledge your own particular style of resistance. Like I said, we are all doing it; it’s just a matter of how and to what end.

As the Paradigm Shifts…

As the paradigm shifts we awaken slowly but surely to our own unique contributions to the way life is, as opposed to the way we desire it to be. We see where we resist shifting and changing as an attempt to hold on to what we’ve got, though what we’ve got isn’t necessarily what we want.

Sometimes the practice is to resist resisting; go with the flow, ride with the tide! But first you/we have to become aware that we are resisting and what that resistance is serving.

You may have heard me suggest this practice before, however here it is again. It’s the simplest practice: Be Kind! Kindness costs nothing, takes no time and contributes greatly to peace on Earth. By practicing kindness you will come up against resistance to being kind. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for where you can begin to question the value of resisting. In this moment you are at a choice-point where you can choose to choose differently. In this moment the opportunity to self-realize is upon you, and with that comes the opportunity to be the change you wish to see.

Enjoy the adventure!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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The state of the global economy notwithstanding, companies everywhere seem to be experiencing the some of the best growth seen in recent years. As the saying goes, however, mo’ money, mo’ problems. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to finding the best possible people to join your organization during the hockey-stick rise to prosperity.  In the past, this meant running an ad on an online job board, chatting to a few interesting candidates by phone, conducting a handful of interviews, and you were generally in good shape. Today, it means online job postings on multiple sites (often in multiple geographies) and potentially hundreds of resumes. Oh, and thanks to the recent belt-tightening, you’re now likely wearing more of those proverbial ‘hats’ in your organization – which means a lot less available time for sifting through resumes/CVs. Here are a few tools that can help you navigate that shiny hiring canoe of yours through glassier waters:

Write Great Job Postings

Like everyone else, I check out job postings now and again to see who’s hiring – jobs tend to be a pretty good barometer of what’s happening in the marketplace, and the ever-fluid tech sector in particular. I’m sure you likewise receive emails or calls from headhunters with the latest and greatest gig they think you’d be perfect for. I’ve got to say that in general, these guys are pretty good at what they do, and on the whole their descriptions of whatever job they’re plugging are fairly detailed and written well enough to capture my attention – at least for a moment or two anyway.

Now, contrasting this against the average job posting online (those you might find on sites like Indeed, CrunchBoard, or LinkedIn), I’m continually amazed at the lack of detail – and, quite frankly, good writing – in the average job posting. Little about the company and whether it’d be a fun, inspiring place to work, or a draconian bore-fest. Sparse details of the actual job duties. Run-of-the mill skills and experience lists. I mean, what caliber of candidates do companies expect to attract with such a mess of a posting? My point is this: when preparing your job posting, take your time. Put yourself in the shoes of that ideal person whom you want for the open positions. What schools should they have attended? Where should they have worked prior? If an engineer, should they actively contribute to coding forums or blog on their accomplishments? Should s/he have patents? If a business development or management position, whom should s/he know well/be close to? Are you looking for a thought leader or just a fantastic cold-caller? What competencies should they have that might indicate a top performer?

Also important is to be personal: Try to write the posting in a conversational style and be sure to include how great it is to be part of your company. People like working for fun companies. Spend an extra few minutes thinking about your posting and you’d be surprised at the high quality of responses you’ll receive as a result.

Use An Applicant Tracking System

Another surprising thing I find is the number of companies out there who apparently have only email as a means of receiving responses to job postings. Really? I get that loads of startups fit into this category, but what happens if you’re the next Zynga: your hot new product is taking off like a rocket and you’ve secured enough funding to scale. Now you need to hire – very quickly – perhaps 20 or so positions. Your postings are scattered about online and before you know it, you’ve got more than 500 resumes and cover letters to weed through, amidst your other 488 emails. Exactly: headache city.

The good news here is that there are several alternatives to email alone, whatever your organization size or budget. Applicant Tracking System/Talent Management Systems are readily available from The Resumator, Newton, Force.com apps (if using Salesforce), Taleo, Peopleclick Authoria, Kenexa…and as you can imagine, the list goes on. Most of these services are available – yes I’ll mention the dreaded word again this once – in the cloud, so no software or server to install. So spend a bit of time and investigate your options, but for goodness sake, move away from email-only. I repeat: Step away from the email. The great thing about just about any of these solutions is you can keep a database of job posting templates, publish/distribute to multiple job boards, screen incoming candidates, retain resumes for future consideration, and move candidates down the funnel to interview, offer letter, background check, and onboarding – all from a single environment. Look into it. You’ll thank me later.

Screening: Go Beyond The Resume

According to a 2010 survey of businesses across the US, UK, and EU by Cross-Tab, a market research provider, 85% of hiring managers feel that a positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions, and more than 70% of companies have a policy to screen all job candidates using – yep, you guessed it, social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other sites offer a treasure trove of data about whom the candidate is beyond his/her credentials and pedigree. If you aren’t screening candidates this way, you should be. That said, there is a bit of risk involved in screening this way, namely in the form of what the EEOC deems ‘protected class’ data (age, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc.), which if you didn’t know is illegal to use when making a hiring decision in the US. (The UK and EU have similar privacy laws, by the by.) Three or four years ago, this wouldn’t have been too much of an issue with regard to screening, as the average resume/CV typically hasn’t changed much and typically doesn’t contain this kind of information. Visit a candidate’s LinkedIn or Facebook page, however, and you’ll invariably come across more than you should likely be seeing. Serious stuff, people. I’m not an attorney by any means, but I do know that lawsuits have been filed (and won) by didn’t-hire candidates over this sort of thing. Bottom line here is to move wisely; and most of all don’t be creepy – ‘friending’ candidates on Facebook so you can have a deeper view into his/her persona, etcetera.

Here too, though, comes our good friend technology to the rescue. A growing number of social media-driven resources are available to help get beyond the resume: LinkedIn offers some pretty good search tools. Klout, who analyze data to determine an individual’s level of influence (and whose scores apparently come up during candidate interviews here and again), and Reppify, who provide a web-based analysis of candidates’ online presence through their social networks according to your hiring criteria. (Disclosure: I currently hold a senior management position at Reppify.) Services such as these can help you to narrow that candidate funnel, identify the best candidate selections for your team, and mitigate discrimination liability risks.

Whatever your business, and however fast you may be growing, employing these three key strategies today should significantly help you to identify the candidates who best fit your organization, as well as save you loads of time and money (and probably a few grey hairs as well). Happy hiring!

Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks

Written by Marc Watley, Co-Founder & CEO of Datacenter Trust and CMO at Reppify. Datacenter Trust is an IT consulting and services delivery firm, helping growing businesses make smart decisions from sound financial analysis and business intelligence. Reppify is a leading-edge technology company pioneering the use of social media data to drive better business decisions. Follow on Twitter: Datacenter Trust @datacentertrust and Reppify @reppify
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As the Paradigm Shifts #H: Hope and Hogwash

by Rosie Kuhn on June 1, 2011

Many years ago, before I had any sense of spirituality, a friend of mine, a practicing Buddhist shared with me that most of us are constantly immersed in thoughts that are driven by hopes and fears. Think about that for a moment … My thoughts coalesce around either fear-based monologs or I’m hoping for good stuff and not bad stuff. There is a lot of energy going in that direction, eh?

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, 70% of the time we are thinking negative thoughts. When I’m being fearful or being hopeful I’m not open to being here, in this moment. I’m not allowing new opportunities and ideas to emerge with which to engage. I’m not being with what is, I’m being with what could be that’s either going to turn out the way I hope or the way I fear it to be. What is unavailable while consumed in these unending internal conversations?

Our current paradigm has us feel as though we are trapped and victims to our current circumstances. This is absolute HOGWASH!

If and when we get totally honest with ourselves we come to discover how incredibly powerful we are to manifest limitations beyond our wildest dreams. Yes, you read that correctly. We brilliantly empower ourselves to disempower ourselves. Remaining within this current paradigm will forever more require you to live within your hopes and fears and nothing more.

Abandoning Hope

Hope springs eternal and is so essential to our sense of well-being.

On the other hand, I’ve found that when used as a strategy to avoid the truth of our current circumstances, hope interferes with possibility. Hoping is actually not a very empowering strategy. The strategy of hoping leaves the power in the hands of the Universe. As we hope that the will of God or our Higher Power in on our side, are we relinquishing power and courage to change the things we can? We have to look at our own relationship to hope if we are going to participate in this paradigm shift. How am I being while I’m hoping? Am I being hopeless, helpless and powerless while I’m hoping? Or, am I engaged with actions that will bring about a more likely and favorable outcome?

My friend and colleague Michael Sky died yesterday of cancer, here on Orcas Island. Not only was Michael a friend but he was a support person for me and my business.

Michael had been ill for some time, yet no matter what his circumstances, we never gave up hope that Michael would remain with us in physical form. It wasn’t until he actually died did hope die too. It’s a terrible thing to be with – the loss of hope. Promised miracles and magic that continually inspire us to live one day to the next, vanish. We are left with nothing and no thing to believe in. We struggle to understand why. There are no answers forthcoming.

I believe that to surrender hope takes us outside the domain of our humanity, back to the Source of all that is. For most of us, this moment of transcendence is far too uncomfortable. Our mind struggles to make sense – in hopes of finding concrete rationalization for what cannot be understood; only accepted.

Sometimes abandoning hope is actually the miracle. It may be what is required in order to shift what is currently impossible to be possible.

“Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Letting go of hope frees us to look at life and our circumstances differently. It is not easy and effortless to take this leap of faith. Opening of our hearts, flooding ourselves with innovation, surrendering attachments; the result of which is to soar beyond our limited thinking – isn’t this what we are all wanting? Isn’t this why organizations hire executive coaches and consultants to create think tanks, so as to produce results through simulated means? Yes, they work to a degree, yet too often the facilitators of change guard against their participants actually leaping the full measure, of which we have no comprehension. How does one steward an individual through a leap of faith?

I have no doubt that this is where spirituality in business will be taking our organizations. Corporations are desperate to discover ways to shift their business. Eventually they will reveal that the seat of every employee contains the wisdom and the brilliance they are looking for. Let’s hope that realization comes soon!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over

by William Reed on March 17, 2011

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. A Greek myth which made a big impression on me as a child was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. The King was granted a gift to his greed that whatever he touched would turn to gold, but the gift was a curse because he petrified everything and everyone he touched, turning it into a golden object devoid of life.

Gold is as perennial in our culture as greed itself. While we talk about a heart of gold, good as gold, and the Golden Age, we often find that gold can bring out the worst in human nature, from gold diggers to Goldfinger. It is often taken as a symbol of wealth, the gold standard. But it is seldom seen as a symbol of abundance. Let your helping hand be one of Kindness, not a golden touch.

Abundance in 8 areas of life

The Mandala Chart looks at wealth as part of a larger mosaic, and abundance as the experience of blessings in 8 areas of life: health, business, finances, home, society, character, learning, and leisure. What does this mean, and how is it possible to achieve such a thing?

We have seen how abundance eludes the grasp of greed. The real appreciation of what we already have begins with gratitude. All common complaints fade in the light of the Jewish proverb that, I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

But gratitude grows into giving, and is a principle seen everywhere in nature. Japanese refer to tarai no mizu, the way water in a basin flows away from you when you try to pull it in, and comes back to you when you push it away. This is the Japanese way of describing the Law of Attraction, that givers gain. Rather than trying to hoard everything for yourself, you will find it much easier and more appealing to let go and let flow.

The Mandala Chart gives you a way to put this into practice. Take a 3×3 chart and in the center write down a compelling issue in your life from one of the 8 areas of life listed above. Use the surrounding frames to write out at least 8 ways in which you could reframe your problem by focusing on what you can give, rather than what you can get. Chances are that you can take specific actions on one or more of these ideas, and the results will surprise you, because this is the opposite approach which most of us take to solving our problems.

In business it means being more client-focused, at home it means focusing more on your family than on your self, and in self-development it means concentrating on your strengths rather than weaknesses. It means learning by teaching, giving pleasure rather than taking it, eating to 80 percent of your fill, investing instead of spending, and doing things for others without expectation of return. Abundance may be more about who you are than what you have.

A second look at the hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow in 1943 proposed a psychological theory that human beings had a hierarchy of needs, from physiological needs at the base, followed by safety needs, then the need for love/belonging, for self-esteem, and what he called self-actualization at the pinnacle, where the finer elements of human character come into expression. Maslow’s theory had a profound influence on developmental and growth psychology, as well as on the positive psychology movement which followed years later. This is not surprising, because Maslow focused his study on exemplary people and the elite of the population, rather than studying abnormal or dysfunctional states of mind.

But the premise of Maslow’s approach was that growth was linear, developmental, hierarchical, and this is fundamentally different from the premise of the Mandala Chart, which is synchronistic, serendipitous, and holistic. Grounded in the framework of Buddhist thought, the Mandala Chart sees all of these needs existing simultaneously, and expressed in each area of life. You can satisfy your stomach and your spirit, without separating them into levels of development.

A Samurai swordsman and Zen Master named Gettan who lived in 17th Century Japan said that there are three kinds of disciples: those who impart Zen to others, those who maintain the temples and shrines, and then there are the rice bags and clothes hangers. While this was no doubt a criticism of people who were disciples in name only, Zen Masters made frequent reference to the attainment of satori, or spiritual awakening, while in the performance of daily disciplines. They did not separate spiritual insight from daily life. Satori itself is sudden and serendipitous, not hierarchical and developmental.

Engaging others in the process

The quality of abundance is not something to experience in solitude. It starts with the appreciation that your cup runneth over even now, and that it gets even better when you share your blessings with others. When viewed from the 8-frame perspective of the Mandala Chart, it seems that there is no limit to the ways in which you can do this, other than the limitations you impose on your perspective.

Ask people what they think, how they feel, and in what ways you can help. Ask better questions, and engage in great conversations. Learn to engage others with interesting shifts in perspective, like a brisk tennis volley on an 8-frame court. Seek out new perspectives yourself, expert perspectives, historical perspectives, universal perspectives. Most of all, have fun with flexible focus, and watch how quickly the process catches on.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Week In Review : Feb 27 – Mar 5, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on March 6, 2011

5 Reasons why IT Outsourcing may not be living up to the hype!

by Matthew Carmen, Feb 28, 2011

Large and small companies alike find out very often that their own cost savings due to outsourcing do not match the case studies they were sold on. Several reasons can result in your company essentially leaving dollars and services on the table with respect to outsourcing.  There’s no such thing as too much thought when evaluating an outsourcing initiative.  If you need help, there are many experts available to you who can provide guidance. more…

Project Reality Check #11: Frame of Mind

by Gary Monti, Mar 1, 2011

“Everything is simple” if you have the right frame of mind. “What happens when you follow the rules?” is the question that will determine the frame-of-mind appropriate for a project. Gary describes 6 of them in this post. The reality and challenge are the fact that all 6 frames-of-mind or some subset can be present on a given project. The goal, then, is to make sure the project terrain is gauged accordingly and the style(s) adapted are appropriate. more…

Ready to be Enchanted?

by Himanshu Jhamb, Mar 2, 2011

Enchantment is Guy Kawasaki‘s 10th book and according to him, “Enchantment is about transforming situations and relationships to invent new possibilities; ones that you probably did not think were possible.” There is something in this book for everyone and is full of practical advice. An actual review of the book will be coming out on Active Garage, on March 08, 2011 – the official release date of Enchantment. Go ahead and pre-order your copy right away! more…

Flexible Focus #43: 8 Levels of Consciousness

by William Reed, Mar 3, 2011

There are 8 levels of consciousness. The first five are the five senses: VisualAuditoryOlfactoryTaste, and Touch. The sixth is Ideation, our conscious thought. These six levels of consciousness then make up the conscious mind, the part that we are mostly aware of. The next two layers are part of the sub-conscious mind, which are the Ego, and the Seed (Storehouse) consciousness at the core. Our subconscious mind is a garden, which bears fruit according to the seeds which are planted and cultivated. The practical application with the Mandala Chart, is to cultivate a flexible focus and select positive and harmonious seeds to plant in our unconscious. more…

Leader driven Harmony #14: If you are Civil, you will get (more) beer – Part I

by Mack McKinney, Mar 4, 2011

People listen more attentively to civil persons than to rude or boisterous people. Humans seem to be drawn to calm, collected people.  They have a calming effect on persons around them. Cultivate the ability to always be civil even (maybe especially) to people with whom you totally disagree.  This is a powerful skill. In our next post Mack will talk about the remarkable benefits of following the Desiderata. It is a powerful document that will show you how adding just four simple rules at the dinner table will get you labeled diplomatic and get you invited to dinner parties a lot more often! more…

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Week In Review : Jan 16 – Jan 22, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on January 23, 2011

Still busy? – Even with all the productivity enhancing gadgets

by Vijay Peduru, Jan 17, 2011

A recent article in NYT  talked about how kids are wired for distraction by always being online . Every Gadget they use is connected to the internet and the kids are always distracted. It is not just the kids even we grown-ups do this. Each one of us wants distractions and these tools are just another avenue for our distractions. We want distractions because we want to escape from things which are bothering us. Choose to face the problem and use the time previously used for distractions for more enjoyable tasks. more…

Free eBook: Freedom, money, time and the key to Creative Success

by Himanshu Jhamb, Jan 18, 2011

In Mark McGuinness’ own words: Creative people are those who work hard, but because they love what they do, it doesn’t feel like work. Your key to success doesn’t cost a dime… Get your FREE copy of Freedom, Money, Time and the Key to Creative Success by clicking here OR by going directly to the download page. It’s a light read – 34 pages in all. And it’s full of practical advice you can apply to your own situation. more…

Project Reality Check #5: The Devil is in the Details

by Gary Monti, Jan 19, 2011

Expected Monetary Value (EMV) connects the customer with the team. This tool is very powerful. At the core, an EMV calculation comprises probability times impact to get a weighted number. The EMV model is a great way to connect with stakeholders and work rationally while keeping relationships intact. more…

Flexible Focus #37: Navigate with Nanba!

by William Reed, Jan 20, 2011

Earlier in this series in an article called Mobile Mandala, we introduced an exciting new iPad Application called theMandalaChart for iPad, which is available in the iTunes Store. We are proud to announce the first of these templates, a set of 30 Mandala Charts for the iPad application called the Nanba Diary. These pages explain how the MandalaChart and Nanba Diary work for you. more…

Leader driven Harmony #8: Get a FIRE going in Your Belly!

by Mack McKinney, Jan 21, 2011

Let’s pretend you have a major, life-threatening disease and are seeking treatment.  Do you want to be treated by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse who just kinda likes their job?  Who just muddles through the day?  Who is about as good at the job as most other physicians?  OF COURSE NOT! Same applies to you if you are providing some service or product to someone. In this article Mack tells you how do you get to be the best and how you can rise past the others in your field and become the “go-to” person?. more…

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Last week, I went through a surgery and was sentenced to BED REST. Yes. Right, I was “sentenced to bed rest“. I believe God dialed the wrong number for picking someone for Bed Rest. I normally have Bed Rest knock my door every year on multiple occasions and I tell this pathogen that I am not going to surrender and to go find someone else. So, most of the time I am able to escape. This time the buster got me.

So, here I am on two weeks of Bed Rest. First week, the pain killers kept me from staying awake. Second week, I could not make up my mind as to what to do while on bed. I am not much of a TV watcher. Friends kept me a lot of company BUT still a week is a long time (at least I think so). So, it left me with options like reading a book, spending time on internet and writing. The usual ones…and of course! working. Still it is isolating and I needed some external stimulation…

But the more time I spent online, I realized how much I had to catch up on my online activity and discovered some cool things.

Here is how social media was a boon in this time.

  1. A Facebook message informed me that a company where a friend of mine was working got acquired so I wrote to her congratulating her. And we caught up.
  2. A Tweet about my eBook prompted a friend to call. We had so much to catch up on since she lives in the East Coast and is going to launch a magazine early next year. Bear in mind, I have never met her, We are cyber friends. Met on Twitter, did a radio show together and now are friends.
  3. Caught up on some Youtube videos of Eckhart Tolle while reading his new book “A New Earth“. Boy! it was really profound to get his interpretation about the book.
  4. Helped a friend pick lights for his kitchen. Went online to pick some designs and sent him my suggestions.
  5. Ordered Christmas gifts online since I am not able to drive. Made sure that the delivery date was prior to Dec. 24th. Not sure how this one will turn out. Keeping my fingers crossed. My New Years dress is part of this and I am hoping it will fit me.
  6. Shared pictures with friends those were much due.
  7. Chatted with family in India, who seemed to be keeping a tab on me through blog posts and FB updates. A friend of mine called to check on me after a common friend pointed to her to my FB update.
  8. Blogged, blogged and blogged….
  9. Browsed Amazon.com for some equipment I want to buy. Got some refurbished deals that fit the budget.
  10. Downloaded music from iTunes and got my CDs ready for the Holiday season. Music Anyone?

Christmas Wishlist

  1. Social media gets Starbucks on your bed side.
  2. Social media makes you chicken soup.
  3. Social media takes you for a spin.
  4. Social media charges cell phones and laptops.
  5. Social media gives you incentives like reward points for using it.

Well! these are impractical, Maybe. But that’s why it is called ” A WishList”

DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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