Posts Tagged ‘management’

humility courage discipline“What do I do when overwhelmed and projects pull me in several directions?” That is a common question. The short answer is, “Practice humility, courage, and discipline.”

Humility is simply appreciating where the boundary is between what I can do and what I can’t do. When on the “can” side get to work focusing on success. When on the “can’t” side see if help is available within the time frame required. If that help isn’t available then it is time to either cut scope or extend the schedule. Another way to state humility is, “I have a place in the universe; it just isn’t at the center.”

Courage is risking action (or being still) when there are no guarantees the desired outcome will be achieved. This doesn’t mean the outcome can’t be achieved. Rather, it is about breaking into new territory and getting away from “same-old, same-old” behavior. Courage can also mean taking action when there are insufficient resources and attempting to get political movement by pushing on power brokers.

For example, risking building a prototype of a product you just KNOW the client will want and doing this BEFORE there is any commitment. “Taking a calculated risk,” might be another way to describe the exercise of courage. Keep in mind; this is different than being foolhardy.  When someone is foolhardy they throw caution to the wind. With foolhardy, think of the firm with no depth that mastered PowerPoint and then was at a loss as to what to do once they win the contract.

Discipline is what brings it all together. There are two ways to define discipline and both are relevant. The first definition is: know your area of expertise and how best to apply it. Practice, practice, practice.

The second definition ties back into humility. You must be able to maintain a sharp focus and broad view simultaneously. Imagine you are a surgeon and want to save the patient. The decision as to whether or not to operate goes beyond your ability with the surgical techniques. It is critical to consider whether or not the patient might die while under anesthetic.

This all adds up to wisdom, the ability to find a balance point among all the principles when the rules are either absent or fail to point in a clear direction. There’s an old saying that sums the challenge of the situation well, “Success comes from experience which comes from failure.” There are no guarantees but without trying you’ll never know. Remember to breathe and take a calculated risk.

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 #24: The Peter Principle and YOU!

by Gary Monti on September 4, 2012

The Peter Principle states, “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetency.” From a psychological perspective there is a great deal of truth in that statement. Ever wonder why it occurs? Let’s explore based on depth psychology (Carl Jung) and the concept of temperament. Some background will help.

In depth psychology we have 8 function attitudes. These are ways in which we gather and process information. We all have them. Where we vary is in the preferred order in which we use them.

There are two major ways we can gather information: Sensing and Intuiting. These break down further into “extroverted” and “introverted.” Likewise, there are two major ways we can process information: Feeling and Thinking. These, too, break down further into “extroverted” and “introverted.” Combining this information we end up with the following table:

GATHERING INFORMATION

PROCESSING INFORMATION

Sensing – extroverted Feeling – extroverted
Sensing – introverted Feeling – introverted
Intuiting – extroverted Thinking – extroverted
Intuiting – introverted Thinking – introverted

 

We all have all eight. Where we vary as individuals is in the rank order. Also, for each of us, our number 1 gets the highest amount of brainpower while our number 8 is the most difficult to work use. This leads to an interesting dictum.

“For as strong as you are in one part of life there is a corresponding Achilles heel…and there’s no getting around this.”

For example, someone who has Thinking – extroverted as number one has Feeling – extroverted as number eight. What does this mean?

The Thinking – extroverted part means this is a take-charge type of person. She can give orders and take command. Think of an entrepreneur starting a business. There can be a gruffness present that is somewhat abrasive, but things get done! The business grows. It runs like a clock. In fact, it grows to the point that how it is organized (or should I say “disorganized”) is becoming increasingly important. The number of squabbles between employees is increasing and it is showing in terms of how customers are serviced and outsiders view the business.

This is where Peter Principle comes into play. The very strength that grew the business, Thinking – extroverted, has led to a problem that is the most difficult for the founder to solve. Barking more orders only makes things worse.

Feeling – extroverted has been studiously avoided. People are told to suck it up and get the job done. This may sound macho but the reality is the leader is avoiding it because she is at a loss as to how to deal with the issue. In fact, she’s probably afraid of it. There is an important reason as to why this occurs:

Addressing the weaker functions requires putting the strong one aside.

You can probably hear the entrepreneur saying, “Are you crazy! I built this business based on my commanding attitude and now you want me to listen to their feelings! We don’t have time for that! This is a BUSINESS!” At this moment the Peter Principle surfaces in all its flaming glory and if not addressed trouble occurs. That trouble starts with the leader looking foolish and needing to be “understood” and progresses to a tragedy in which clients aren’t getting served, costs go up due to inefficiencies, and the competition starts eating your lunch.

Don’t despair. In the next blog we’ll go a little deeper and see if anything positive can come of this.

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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Daniel Markovitz’s A Factory of One

Imagine you’re a performance coach or consultant who wants to write a book. You’re aware of the “competition” in the form of well-known efficiency experts including David Allen, Julie Morgenstern, and Tony Schwartz. You also know that the basic advice of scheduling rather than constantly checking email and keeping your desk organized has been done to death. What can you contribute to the conversation that’s not only new – but truly transformative for the reader?

What would you do when faced with that challenge? Throw in the towel?

Not necessarily. You could do what Daniel Markovitz has so deftly done in A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance (CRC Press, 2012). You could turn your topic on its head and ask: If it were that easy, why aren’t we all more efficient? Maybe it’s not more tools that people need, but a different strategy? One that’s focused on the root cause of poor performance, not just its effects.

Markovitz has successfully illustrated one of the approaches every nonfiction author needs to consider today, unless you’re content to languish among the “me-too” authors whose books are gracing the remainder tables; combine your core topic with something no one else would think of associating with it.

In the case of A Factory of One, it’s Lean principles, a concept that originated in Japanese manufacturing to “dramatically boost quality by reducing waste and errors.” As the back cover of Markovitz’s book states, “(U)ntil now, few have recognized how relevant these powerful ideas are to individuals and their daily work.”

By cleverly combining personal performance, Lean principles, and self-awareness exercises inspired by the Japanese concept of gemba, this author has succeeded in offering a compelling read that actually works. Shortly after closing this quick and entertaining book I was eagerly on the hunt to spot “waste” in my own working day. And, yes, there was plenty – which otherwise would have remained invisible had I not reviewed this book.

You may already be familiar with the international best seller, Blue Ocean Strategy, which focuses on ways to make the competition irrelevant. This is an issue for all thoughtful authors, many of whom worry that with so many books being published these days it’s becoming harder to produce anything truly unique.

Not so! For a start, most authors (self-published or otherwise) have no clue how to market themselves, so their books don’t even come to their target audience’s attention, which reduces the competition somewhat. But by taking the approach that Markovitz so powerfully illustrates, you need never worry ever again about someone else duplicating or even “stealing” your book idea.

This question is part of my 7-step book development process: What other idea(s) could you combine with your basic concept to strengthen your book and make it uniquely yours? When you think of the permutations, you’ll realize there are endless opportunities for anyone creative enough to do this.

Just think of the ways in which this approach has produced innovations in daily life:

  • Journaling + computer technology = blogging.
  • Coffee + Italian café culture = Starbucks.
  • Wizards + school + and childhood rites of passage = Harry Potter series.
  • Ginger + chocolate + wasabi peas = Terry’s Toffee Asian Accent.™
  • The Roman republic + Montesquieu’s checks & balances + John Locke’s philosophy + English common law (Magna Carta) = The US Constitution.

If you want to avoid worrying about whether someone, in your industry or field, is writing a book identical to yours, you need to adopt a “Blue Ocean Strategy.” Which means going that extra mental distance to come up with unusual concepts – as Daniel Markovitz and others have done – that will make your book uniquely yours.

Next Up: The Teenager’s Folly: The author who only thought he had something new to say, and how to avoid making the same mistake.

To read interviews with many of the authors I’ve reviewed for this Thought Readership column, please go to my Articles page.

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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Ever been tortured by an expert or SME (subject matter expert) who has the ability to help the project? They can create nightmarish situations for the PM by becoming the tail that wags the project dog. It is especially true when senior management needs to bail itself out of a situation and sees the expert as a White Knight.

How can this happen? How can someone who has so much to offer become a black hole whose gravitational force distorts the project in a way that pulls it outside realistic parameters? I’ve seen this with newly minted PMPs© who want to defend the honor of PMI® and what the profession stands for. In general, fighting for one’s standards is perfectly fine; in fact I enjoy working with such individuals as long as they are reasonable. The extreme situation brings to mind a PMP who said he would have to turn his PMP credentials back in if he were forced to follow the project plan. The code of ethics demanded it!

Again, I want to repeat. People who are committed to their professional standards and take action accordingly are the ones worth working with. They are to be prized. Think of your own surgery.

But what about those who are over-the-top (which can apply to engineers, programmers, craftsmen, etc., in addition to project managers)? Just what is “over-the-top,” anyway? Psychiatry can help. There is a term, “inflation,” which can be associated with psychosis. Psychosis occurs when there is a split with the outside world. The psychotic is consumed by a universe within himself or herself – a dream world, so to speak. (By the way, I am not a psychiatrist, so if some toes have been stepped on I beg forgiveness and welcome feedback.)

Now, this isn’t all bad. It is what shamans do in a very disciplined way. They split from conventional wisdom to seek alternative and deeper meanings. It is like thinking outside the box only more extreme. Once the shaman gains his/her internal insight and truth they bring it to community and share it with others.

That thinking outside the box sounds pretty good. Could probably use it on a lot of projects.  So, how do things get derailed? Let’s get back to that term, “inflation.”

Inflation involves confusion:

“It is when a person confuses themselves with being the truth rather than a reflection of it.”

You know the type I am referring to. Even when within ethical boundaries there is no negotiation, no shades of gray, and no compromise. This is when they become a danger to the project. Essentially, everyone else is a lesser being. They only work independently for to work interdependently would sully THE TRUTH. People, including the PM, are to report to them. If this doesn’t occur the inflated individual truly believes the earth will start wobbling on its axis and spin into the sun. They can become the PM’s worst nightmare.

So, what to do? The options include:

  • Work with them as they are and accept the drop in performance because others have to suffer this individual who is insensitive to their part of the project;
  • Get someone else to take the White Knights place. Group wisdom is superior to individual genius. With everyone pulling together they just might craft a realistic solution;
  • Delay the project or that phase until a more realistic person can be found.
  • (This is the tough one) take the White Knight to task and hold them responsible for integrating others work. Keep them in the pressure cooker until change occurs.
  • Hold your ground and let the White Knight quit. Graveyards are full of indispensible people.

I’ve had a client go through the last option. Senior management was Chicken Little running around thinking the sky would fall and wore themselves out trying to placate the White Knight. He’s gone. Work is better. Several humble, good engineers stepped up and shouldered the responsibility. The work improved.

Interestingly, (this is where yours truly comes in to play) senior management was “hooked” on the White Knight. They had to go through withdrawal, withdrawal associated with thinking the White Knight could do magic. They had to be nursed through the process of being realistic and seeing that projects take what they take in order to get accomplished. Last check, things are going well.

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Is the lifeblood of your project sucked dry by project vampires? You know the type, e.g., belligerent bosses, unreasonable customers, passive-aggressive subject matter experts (SMEs). This is a challenge that a good leader must learn how to handle if any success is to be gained.  There are three solutions for dealing with them. Before getting to those, though, a little background will help. It boils down to one word, “Powerlessness.” You might be wondering, “How does that relate to leadership?” The answer is simple and is based on another word, “Humility.”

Humility is simply knowing where the boundaries are. In this case it means knowing what one can (power) and cannot (powerlessness) do. It is essential in avoiding over-reaching as well as making sure one is reaching as far as possible.

One of the single biggest mistakes Project Managers can make is lacking awareness of where that boundary lies. There is a wimpiness associated with not reaching as far as possible and hubris with reaching too far. The process of seeking that boundary and skirting it can be a source of torture for a Project Manager. So what to do?

Frankly, this is where I meditate. Taking time each day to sit with the torture created by not knowing where the boundary lies. When ego dissolves the line appears. On or around that line the three options sit:

  1. Power-based behavior. Look to see which resources have yet to be explored that will stop the vampire, e.g., disciplinary activities for SMEs under-performing, gaining support from powerful stakeholders who can help reel in the unreasonable customer;
  2. Powerless-based behaviors (1). Here is were I made up a term call, “The vampiric calculation.” It’s quite simple. The rate at which new energy is created is compared to the rate at which it is being sucked out of the team and myself. I consciously bring this up with the team and we look to see how much we can accomplish skirting the line between power and powerlessness;
  3. Powerless-based behaviors (2). This is the really tough one. It’s when exhaustion sets in after manically trying to please the vampire. Working with the team and after all efforts to turn things around have been made we calculate how, exactly we will abandon ship so to speak to keep our sanity. This doesn’t mean responsibilities are abandoned. Rather, it means we pull together to keep each other’s spirits up as the torture from the vampire continues.  Gallows humor is one of the most common forms of pulling together. Being careful is critical. The humor can morph into cynicism very quickly, which increases the rate at which energy is drained.

A better way is finding activities to stay intact. Personally, meditation, exercise, cooking for friends and family along with an occasional Lagavulin scotch and a good cigar help me quite a bit. You probably have your own list. Put it to use. It helps stay in touch with the real powers and supports a realistic attitude displayed by a student I once had. His boss was calling him in for the umpteenth time to chew him out. The student accepted his boss could do this but also skirted the boundary mentioned. He did this by saying, “Could you speed this up. I have to get back to the team, there’s work to do.”

By taking care of oneself and being free of preoccupation something close to a miracle just might occur. A path may start showing that relates to item “1.” mentioned above.  I want to avoid being Pollyannaish.  That path may or may not be there. The only way to see it, though, is to decide what you’ll do in the presence of  a vampire rather than passively let things happen.

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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Growing into Interdependence

In the Flexible Focus Series we looked at the first principle of the Mandala Chart, Interdependence. That article looked at the 3 stages of growth, from dependence, to independence, to interdependence, and six steps to continuous improvement which can facilitate this growth process.

Once you begin to grow through Interdependence, a whole new set of factors come into play which enable you to cultivate and strengthen your relationships with other people, and with the universe itself.

To a small child the world revives around the self in a state of dependence. The baby cries when unhappy, and like magic mother takes care of all needs. This is a natural and healthy way for a baby to grow. However, in some people although the physical growth process continues, psychologically they remain needy and dependent, creating all kinds of problems for themselves and others.

At some stage before or after the age of 20, we come to seek independence. This is an important stage of growth, and essential to survival. However, it is also possible to become stuck in the appealing misconception that everything that happens depends on you. This is the world of the lone wolf entrepreneur, the rebel, the self-made man, and the independent woman. It can wear you down and end in a state of total exhaustion. Like Atlas trying to carry the entire world on his shoulders, in the end the burden is to great to bear.

Ultimately, and according to Carl Jung usually before or after the age of 50, you grow to seek interdependence. This is a more mature state, but unlike the two previous stages, there is no limit or limitation to the degree of connectivity you can have to the universe you live in. It is as limitless and inexhaustible as the universe itself.

That being said, the challenge is how you go about proactively and creatively cultivating this connectivity.

The Interface Connection

The character for 縁 (en) means interface, connection, and karma. It is often used to express a lucky meeting of people, an auspicious mingling of minds that produces blessings and benefits for those who become connected. It is often considered to be serendipitous, unsought but extremely lucky, and somehow meant to happen. You can have this connection with people, ideas, and places. It is a wonderful thing to experience, and one of the great mysteries of life.

While it happens through seemingly coincidental events, in fact synchronicity is deeply connected below the surface of awareness, and is not as accidental as it appears. It is possible to facilitate this process of positive change through mindful living, and paying attention to eight important factors in the interface connection.

  • Attitude. Our experience and even what we see or do not see is conditioned to a large degree by what how we look at things. This has been proved in psychology experiments such as the Invisible Gorilla Experiment, which shows how people not only overlook the obvious, but even completely miss the totally outrageous when it stares them in the face. It is also well known that a positive disposition will make you happy, whereas a gloomy outlook casts a pall over everything and everyone. You find what you look for, so it only makes sense to cultivate a positive attitude.
  • Gratitude.  When you become aware of interdependence there is a dawning awareness that all of the things that you have, all the things that you have become, depend in some important way on the help you received from other people. You didn’t do it all by yourself, and therefore it is only natural to appreciate and show your gratitude, not only in your heart by in your words and deeds. Find deeper ways to show your appreciation, and you will deepen your connection to other people.
  • Association.  Of all of the people who can help you grow and increase your connectivity, it is the great teachers in your life who can create the most change. You most likely will not find them in school, though there are lucky exceptions. One reason why you are more likely to find a great teacher outside of school is that you have to seek them out, and the awareness and desire to fill the gap in your knowledge and skills is also an important part of interdependence. Choose carefully the people that you spend your time with, as they can either buoy you up or drag you down. Energy is what guides the relationship, so keep your energy positive and alive.
  • Communication.  Many self-proclaimed great communicators are in fact poor listeners. So anxious to convey their own message, they forget to find out whether or in what way the other person might care. It is important to catch the atmosphere and mood of the people you are with, whether it is a small group or a large audience. A good way to gauge this is to ask great questions. Not only will you learn more, but good questions will open up hearts and minds. Once the flow of communication is there, you can enhance it wonderfully with the art of telling a story. This is what keeps people there, and makes them want to come back for more.
  • Collaboration.  The notion of accumulating resources is based on the independent mentality, storing up for the future so that you will have enough for yourself. The interdependent mentality thinks differently. Rather than adding resources, it jumps to a new level by multiplying resources, matching your own resources with those of another through collaboration. However, it is vitally important to choose the right collaboration partner. If you have something good, many people will be attracted to it, but not all of them have the best intentions. If you have money, beware the gold diggers. If you have talent, beware the agents and producers. Work with people whose resources complement but do not compete with yours. The real test of a good collaboration is that all parties are essential to the partnership. Otherwise they will suck out of you what they can, and then leave the relationship which never existed in the first place, no matter how friendly the early approach may have been.
  • Spaces.  Pay attention to ambience, the power of the place and the way it influences the people in it. Of course the place itself can be transformed by the energy of the people present. Ambience is enhanced through the five senses, plus the sixth sense of intuition. A space is like a stage, which can be set with lighting, color, and furniture, and enhanced through music, food, plants, even pets. It is a small universe that responds and creates response. A highly enjoyable way to increase your connectivity. Develop your own sense of presence so that you can be the master of the space wherever you travel.
  • Words.  The power of words is magic. Words can captivate, entrance, enrage, or engage. The power of the Word is recognized in all religions, and is the driving force of culture. Choose your words and phrases in such a way to enhance and reinforce your relationships, as well as remember your experiences. Words can be expressed in multiple dimensions. The tone and quality of the voice carries words when spoken or sung. There is the power of the written word in literature, and the transformational effect of brush calligraphy in art. Words are a wonderful bridge to the world.
  • Anchors.  We anchor our experiences in various ways, through imagery, metaphors, anecdotes, emotions. Those which are well anchored can be triggered through the smallest of reminders, a scent, a melody, a phrase. When you are centered you have more impact in your communication. It is as if you words have more weight, more substance, greater power to spread and take root. Anchors can be reinforced by going back to relive, revive, and remember your experiences. This is the power of a diary, and one of the driving forces behind social media.

You can download a CONNECTION MANDALA which summarizes these ideas as a reminder and a gauge of your level of connectivity through Interdependence.

Editor’s Note: The image (provided by www.toyouke.co.jp) depicts character for 縁 (en, connection), painted by William Reed on a charcoal egg.

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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Time For a Change #7: Resolving Your Dilemma

by William Reed on March 22, 2012

Make up Your Mind

One thing is certain, at some time in your life you have had and will have trouble making a decision about something important. In your career, in a relationship, a financial decision, or your health, sooner or later you will face the dilemma of a difficult decision.

A dilemma is a choice between equally undesirable alternatives, or a choice that implies sacrificing something you want to keep. Boxed in a corner, facing a predicament, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, our language is filled with expressions that describe this unpleasant bind.

Going back and forth in your mind, you end up going nowhere. This can exhaust your energy with worry, and excessive analysis can lead to paralysis. It is like sitting on a railroad track with the train coming, and wondering whether you should get off the tracks on the right side or the left! The real problem is not which side you choose, but the greater risk of postponing the decision at all.

What appears to be a complex decision is often just a complex state of mind. In the light of day circumstances are simple. There is no need to press the panic button. Better to cultivate a bias for action.

The matrix makes you smarter

When you cannot make an immediate decision, it can be helpful to map out your problem on a 2×2 matrix. Eight Archetypal Dilemmas are described in The Power of the 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems and Make Better Decisions, by Alex Lowy and Phil Hood. Each of these dilemmas can be put into perspective using a 2×2 matrix.

  • Head vs Heart. The dilemma of being caught between thoughts and feelings is central to the human drama. This theme runs throughout literature and mythology. A matrix allows you to separate the two opposites into four quadrants by matching thought and feeling in terms of whether you give it a higher or lower priority.
  • Inside vs Outside. This can apply to families, to organizations, or any entity that separates itself from other entities. The difference is what defines the identity of the group, and at the same time creates tension when the difference is pronounced. A common theme is where the rate or type of change differs inside and out, and what impact it has.
  • Cost vs Benefit. The key to solving this dilemma is determining whether the benefits outweight the costs, or more subtly, if a cost should actually be seen as an investment that can bring benefits over time. That depends on many factors, such as whether or not the investment is cultivated to create benefits, or simply ends up as a wasteful expense. In the absence of an absolute answer, the decision is often influenced by personal preference.
  • Product vs. Market. Needs and wants are hard to predict. The popularity of a product may depend as much on how well it is promoted as on how well it actually meets consumer needs. The key to making sense of this is to use a matrix that matches product and market in terms of what exists and what is new.
  • Change vs. Stability. Who can say whether it is better to change, or to maintain the status quo? Conservative and progressive are relative terms, and over time one can look very much like the other, as people swing between one extreme to the other.
  • Know vs. Don’t Know. The benefit of mapping issues of known vs unknown is that it can clarify whether or not you actually know something. Knowledge is often a mask for ignorance. People who achieve deep mastery in a field may come to a realization of how little they actually know, approaching the Zen state of the Beginner’s Mind, open to new discovery rather than closed in conclusion.
  • Competing Priorities. A common dilemma is the experience of the pressure to be in two places at the same time, or to dedicate equal time when time is scarce. Both require attention, both are important, and yet there are not enough hours in the day. It takes a creative mind to have both-and rather than deciding between either-or.
  • Content vs. Process. Do you follow the manual, or go on your experience? If what was more important than how then anyone could be a master chef. Knowing the recipe is not the same as being able to cook a masterful meal. And yet processes must be standardized to some degree or they cannot be repeated. Like each of the other archetypes, it is not choosing one or the other, but rather both of the opposites balanced in an yin and yang embrace.

You can make sense of these eight archetypes by downloading here a DECISION MATRIX Mandala that summarizes the 2×2 matices on a 3×3 matrix.

Unity of thought and action

The Mandala Chart, or 3×3 matrix helps you step up to a higher perspective. To paraphrase Einstein, it shows that a dilemma cannot be solved at the same level it was created. The insight which solves your problem is often the realization that it cannot be solved just by thinking about it. The Japanese word 覚悟 (kakugo) means to resolve, literally to wake up 覚 and realize 悟. An awakening triggers the resolution to action.

The confusion clears when you are decisive enough to no longer separate thought and action. Variations on the philosophy of unity of thought and action can be found in the culture of the Samurai, in the life and works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, and Peter Drucker.

The next time you face a dilemma, give it some thought but take some action, and it will be much better for you if you maintain a blend of the two.

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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Time For a Change #6: Meeting Your Agenda

by William Reed on March 15, 2012

Raising the energy level of your meetings

We usually assume that an agenda is something prepared for a meeting, but unless the goals of the meeting are quite clear, it is likely that we will not meet our agenda.

A meeting can be a form of successful collaboration, or it can be a mindless ritual that saps your energy and time. What makes the difference is clarity of purpose, and a commitment to work as effectively as possible within the time available.

To truly meet your agenda you need to understand your circumstances and your objectives, and not simply pile on a list of things to do. The essential ingredient which determines the success or failure of any meeting is communication.

A highly practical model to understand communication was developed by Roger J. Hamilton, the founder of Wealth Dynamics, and Asia’s leading Wealth Consultant. Roger makes the distinction that communication contains a spectrum of four energy levels: Exchange, Connect, Motivate, and Inspire. While meetings are organized with best intentions, ask yourself at what level are most corporate meetings conducted? How often have you attended a meeting at which information is exchanged in a strange volley of suggesting and then shooting down each new idea that is presented?

The idea generators focus on possibilities, and suggest new things to do, or new ways of doing things. The idea critics focus on reasons why those ideas would not work, and therefore should be abandoned. This is demotivating for both sides. Mere idea exchange is a form of corporate wheel spinning, because without achieving any traction, there can be no effective action.

People connect when they get the goals at a gut level. Something clicks when the ideas and actions presented make sense not only at a logical level, but also at an emotional and intuitive level. Still nothing changes until people take this connection and do something with it.

Although the energy improves when people at the meeting become motivated, problems occur when the motivation is not shared by other members of the team, or when it lasts only as long as the meeting, and is soon forgotten on returning to the daily grind.

The reason we aspire to inspire is that inspiration lights the fire of internal motivation, and leads to action that does not need to be driven from the outside. Inspiration is self-sustaining.

Improving your LUCK

O, Fortuna! Since Ancient Greece and before humankind have been interested in improving its fortune. And yet the Wheel of Fortune is often portrayed as something whimsical, to which you need a magical connection for it to shine on you. Las Vegas thrives on the theme of Luck be a Lady Tonight! And yet when you look closely at those who are considered lucky in love, in business, and in life, you see that there are elements at work over which we all have some control.

One of the tenets of Wealth Dynamics is that LUCK is no accident. It is constructed of four elements that are easy to remember, yet not so easy to practice.

LOCATION

Location is the mantra in retail sales as the secret to success, but location is extremely important to success in any endeavor in life. The mood of a place can kindle or kill your enthusiasm. The decor of a room can affect how well you learn and what you remember. Environment is very important, and fortunately we can often do something about it, even if it means changing your physical location. In Japanese it is called 場 (ba) and is the primary focus when people set about trying to make improvements.

UNDERSTANDING

Understanding starts with seeing, not just on the surface, but deep behind the obvious. The character for 観 (kan) depicts a stork silent but fully aware of any movement. We need awareness, and an openness to see with the eyes of understanding, rather than judging the situation with blind eyes.

CONNECTIONS

Rather than starting a meeting with what you want to say, find out what information, experience, and emotions you have in common that are connected to the meeting agenda. Make sure that everyone feels connected and involved at some level. The character for 縁 (en) means edge, interface, connection, or relationship. It is frequently used to highlight how you are connected to another person, often in a surprising or synchronistic way.

KNOWLEDGE

The lowest component in communication is data, which can be assembled to create knowledge. However, knowledge only becomes useful when it is transformed into experience and wisdom. People easily assume that they know something just having heard about it. Socrates said that the beginning of wisdom was the realization that you know next to nothing. There is always more to learn, if you have the qualities of humility and curiosity in the right blend. The character for 知 (chi) means knowledge, but knowing at a deeper level. When you have this kind of knowledge you earn peoples’ trust through your natural authority and authenticity. Knowledge must then transform into action.

Download a Mandala Chart which summarizes these ideas with questions that will help you in Improving Your LUCK.

These words go deeper than their superficial meanings, and when you can combine them you get the magic winning hand! Your LUCK will naturally improve, and your meetings will meet the agenda with action and results.

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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Dysfunctional is a matter of interpretation, isn’t it? What is dysfunctional, how do we know if we and our business are dysfunctional and what do we do about it?

Dysfunctional families breed individuals who to some degree are dysfunctional, and without a doubt they bring that dysfunction with them into everything they create; they build friendships, careers, empires around their dysfunction and attract others into their web. At some point, though, as we know with most empires, they all come crashing down, because the limitations that come with their dysfunction will inevitably destroy what they’ve created.

Dysfunction essentially means something is working to the detriment of the outcome desired. To the degree to which I’m dysfunctional is the degree to which I’m in denial of my dysfunction and the dysfunction of my organization. When in denial I’m not willing to acknowledge responsibility for what’s showing up in my organization or business; I’ll blame others for my demise and the demise of my company; I’ll fail rather than admit to and deal with my underlying attachments to family patterns and the secret world that’s been hidden inside me for a life time; and, I’m unwilling to risk losing what I consider to be rightfully mine for the sake of the business, my investors and employees. I’ll take it all down with me, rather than lose face with myself.

We may have come from the most supportive and loving families possible – one’s we consider highly functioning. These highly functioning families have some important dynamics in place: Open communication; respect for each members individual needs and desires, thoughts and feelings; a sense of humor; safety and trust;  a capacity to admit when they are wrong; open to outside support; boundaries that provide healthy limits at the same time provide openness to expansion and change. And, every healthy family also provides limiting patterns and beliefs, which at some point will be to the detriment of the individual member. Funny how that works. Even the healthiest families can’t make it all right.

I’ve just been hired by a company in Silicon Valley to work with a number individuals who are important – even vital to the project at hand, yet bring behavior patterns that if not shifted will devastate their current project and the entire organization. In discussing my role with HR, I questioned the degree to which the company itself and the executives running the company are willing to look at own their contribution to what’s occurring with their employees. In this conversation I described how quite often employees act out, much like children in a family. Too often parents will send their children to therapy to get straightened out, but won’t go themselves, though the parents are actually the ones generating the dysfunctional environment within which the children live and operate. Unless the parents come into therapy the environment will remain the same and the children will either revert back to the old patterns, or cultivated healthier dynamics they may choose to leave. So the company itself will mostly need coaching too if it’s really wanting fulfillment and success.

We know tons of parents that lose their children because they can’t manage and be responsible for their little creations. Similarly, I know tons of organizations that have had to fire their founders because they were interfering with the growth and development of the vision they created. And, I know even more organization whose success is minimized by the dysfunction of the business and the humans that run it.

Every family system generates enmeshment; think of a fish not knowing itself separate from the water it swims in. It doesn’t matter how this enmeshed system developed, what it’s about or how it functions – none of that matters. What matters is cultivating an environment that allows for the process of de-enmeshment; empowering them to differentiate and individuate themselves so as to allow a greater capacity to choose to choose what they choose in service to their own well-being and the fullest expression of Self and inevitably and hopefully to the organization they work for.

It doesn’t matter at what sort of organization we are working with – an individual, family, small business or the largest corporations, religions, and governments, we are dealing with the process of distinguishing individuals from patterns that limit their growth potential and the growth potential of the organizations they serve.

Companies fail, I believe because individuals are actually not invested enough in the success they are attempting to achieve. So, it’s not that they are truly failing; it’s that they succeed at maintaining the environment that generates the undesired outcome, which appears as failure. This sounds paradoxical, however it’s what all of us do consistently, over time until we wake up to the fact that we are creating our own demise.

When we can see this from a logical perspective it becomes a no-brainer to choose to think differently, cultivate a way of being that generates an environment that generates the outcome we are wanting. It’s not a big-hairy-monster deal to take the steps to make this happen. It actually becomes fun and very rewarding.

The Dilemma: Willingness to risk what’s at stake for the desired outcome.

What’s at stake on the one hand can be the revealing of hidden agendas, hidden survival mechanisms, hidden alliances; all sorts of hiddens that we may not even know we are aligned to. On the other hand, what’s at stake is the project, the business, investor’s confidence and their money, your reputation; all sorts of circumstantial elements that clearly we are attached to. This is not an either/or proposition. This is a requirement of the inclusion of both in service to and the honoring of all at stake. Both have to be unconcealed, revealed, recognized and acknowledged, and both have to be dealt with openly, with respect, trust, commitment to the vision of the outcome desired, as well as a large measure of humor.

What I love about working with companies and organizations is that the people at the table are powerful, intelligent, high stakes players. The outcome of the choices they make are life changing for themselves and all the people invested in them and their choice-making capacity. Allowing their dysfunctional survival mechanism to expand to include more functional strategies will provide them with unimaginable success in their projects and careers, if that’s what they are truly wanting.

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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Resilience Engineering #29: Keep Your Wits About You

by Gary Monti on January 10, 2012

Keep your wits in chaotic situations. Success depends upon it. The irony is, keeping one’s wits is grounded in simplicity. It is challenging and can take all you have. It is a daily, constant activity.

Avoid confusing simplicity with a naive belief everything will work out somehow. Rather, it is about letting go of the urge to react when forces are demanding that you do. It is about keeping eyes and ears open and just seeing what is. This simplicity is a reflection of an on-going process rather than a goal. It has to be a process because of the fluidity of the situation. There is a constant shifting. Customers change their mind. Lead engineers quit. Technologies change. The list goes on.

A Three-part Approach

There are three aspects to being a simple leader:

  1. Practicing discipline;
  2. Maintaining awareness;
  3. Developing an understanding of the situation.

Practice discipline.  Do what is right.

Now, this isn’t a moralistic sense of right. It is more about congruence among all the principles that apply and choosing behaviors based on alignment with those principles. To use something I’ve mentioned in previous blogs:

If everything were okay, what would I do?

Know what principles apply to each profession on the project. Work within acceptable variances determined by the relationships between principles. For example, sales should be aware of engineering limitations when negotiating options with customers. In turn, the engineers should be aware of how much flexibility they can maintain in order to support sales and accept some level or risk.

Maintain awareness. Stop. Breathe. Look.

Risk letting go of thinking about consequences, especially the ones that have personal impact. Clarity will surface. The picture may be pretty and then again it may not. The point is you’ll have a clear picture! From there you can move on to the next step.

Develop an understanding of the situation. Think.

By having a clear picture you can now think in a realistic manner. What does this mean? It means moving around in the space created by the first two steps mentioned above. Thinking grounded in this behavior leads to an understanding of the situation. The ability to see how things really are and what they could be surfaces. An understanding develops as to what it takes to get the job done.

The boundary between flexing and breaking comes into sharper focus. Change orders developed based on this approach are usually right on the mark. You will see when to dive into the details and when to pull back and let the team work it out. You’ll also see when scope needs to be cut or time added.

Being simple is part of the secret of being a good leader – something required in complex situations where managing is insufficient.

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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