Posts Tagged ‘personality’

Resilience Engineering has emerged from an approach towards accident modeling and prevention that is based on answering the question, “What makes for sustained safety and success?” The idea being focusing only on what went wrong is important but may give only half the picture.

This all sounds well and good and makes so much sense one would wonder what is so special about this approach. How else would one look at accidents? Turns out in the history of accident modeling one of the first models used took a very different approach, a very personal one. It is an approach that leans towards shame and blame should failure occur and is alive and well in certain areas of the management world.

Don’t Hit That First Domino!

Herbert Heinrich developed the Domino Theory of accidents in 1929 while working at Travelers Insurance. The model has 4 components or dominos and the idea was the damage that resulted from an accident could be analyzed in terms of a series of events that cascaded like a set of dominos. The dominos are:

  • Genetics
  • Individual personality and/or character flaws
  • The Hazard
  • The Accident

“Bad seed” might be the best way to describe the genetic or ancestral contribution to accidents.  The individual is doomed, in a way, before they get started so it would be best to just not hire them.

“Bad habits” would sum the second point where the individual is innately predisposed in day-to-day behaviors to engage in risk-taking activities. Think, “strong urges.” An example would be having the urge to surf the web indiscriminately.

“Risky behavior” is synonymous with the hazardous activity, e.g., surfing the web without antivirus protection and downloading a Trojan horse that takes over one’s computer.

The crashing of a site by having one’s computer unwittingly participating in a denial of service attack would be an example of the damage caused by all 4 dominos falling.

The idea behind using this model would be to remove the dominos or space them far enough apart so that they could not have a chain reaction. For example, pre-screen and avoid hiring anyone who has those bad genetics or predisposition. This avoids the problem completely. If you do hire a person with the undesirable character traits then don’t let them work in areas where their flaws would play out in the work place and cause an accident, e.g., deny them the ability to surf the web at work.

You can see this takes a rather dim view of human nature. It also has another major shortcoming, i.e., failure to take into account the dynamics of the situation and the broader view required to actually determine what causes failure.  Is it that simple? Is my computer participating in a denial-of-service attack simply my responsibility alone? Should I be punished since I must be defective?

Unfortunately, this approach can be very tempting for a manager to use when the heat is on to find out what went wrong in a situation, especially a complex one. On April 14, 2011, Frank Krakowski resigned as the head of the FAA’s Air Traffic Controller Organization because of a series of events where controllers were asleep in their towers.

“Heads must roll!” would be the simple way to sum up the so-called solution to the situation. I have to believe most people know that Krakowski’s resignation had little effect but human nature intensely wants to play into the domino model. Find the bad guy and punish him or root him out! And if you can’t get to the bad guy soon enough then punish the guy who hired him!

The thing to keep in mind in all this is resilience engineering is about determining what it takes to work safely in a complex environment. The air traffic control situation is a very complex socio-technical problem. Simplistic solutions just don’t cut it. Aaaaah! But they feel so good, and for a brief moment give a shot of narcotic allowing one to drift away and pretend to be in control.

In the next blog we’ll look at the next evolutionary step in accident modeling and see what it has to offer.

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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Do you know a truly civil person?  This is a person others might describe as socially skilled, courteous, collected, centered, cool, or “has her stuff together”.  Being a civil person has huge benefits:

  • People Will Listen to You – People listen more attentively to civil persons than to rude or boisterous people.  A rational, unemotional argument offered by a cool, collected person is MUCH more attractive to thinking persons than is a loud, expletive-laden, emotional rant. Think back to an example of listening to each extreme of person.  You may be able to remember the arguments of the loud person but you probably did not act on them.  But the “cool head” very probably moved you to action if that was his/her goal.
  • You’ll Make More Friends – Humans seem to be drawn to calm, collected people.  They have a calming effect on persons around them.  I remember a pilot named “Smash” (not sure how he got that nickname but it probably had to do with a tendency to fly faster than needed).  When this unassuming guy of normal 5’9” stature entered a room, I felt the most amazing sense of calm. I never asked anyone else if they felt the same thing (tough, manly Air Force Lieutenants don’t admit to such paranormal impressions) and I have since wondered if he had the same effect on others.  He was unremarkable in every other way but, due to ESP or pheromones or something, he lowered my blood pressure whenever I was around him in the Squadron every month or so when I flew in the F-15 Eagle fighters there.
  • You’ll Have Lowered Blood Pressure and You’ll Live Longer – Cultivate the ability to always be civil even (maybe especially) to people with whom you totally disagree.  This is a powerful skill.  When you have made up your mind to remain civil, no matter what another person says, you are very unlikely to become upset or lose your cool.  This is because when we stay calm, our unpredictable amygdala (our “lizard brain” that tries to get us emotional and is always ready for a fight) remains under control by the prefrontal cortex (the rational, thinking part of our brain).   Remaining calm will breed a strong character.  Make a game of it – – – see how dramatically different your behavior can be from your opponent’s.  As he/she gets louder, you get even calmer; as he gets more exasperated, you get more focused.  With luck, the other person will soon stop emoting and will begin thinking.  Only then will the discussion become productive.  And if the opponent does not calm down, it is probably because he cannot control his emotion (anger, fear, whatever) and you are wasting your time: Just say something non-threatening like “we’ll talk more some other time” and walk away.  And glance over your shoulder as you leave – – – really stressed-out people can get violent when a calmer person refuses to get upset along with them!

In our next post we will talk about the remarkable benefits of following the Desiderata.  It takes 60 seconds to read and is a powerful document.  I’ll also 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!  And I’ll explain the surprising connection to beer!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation


Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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The trap of entertainment!

by Himanshu Jhamb on September 6, 2010

On a recent business trip to New York, I was presented with a unique opportunity in a most unexpected way. I was going through my day like clockwork – attending client calls, leading my team through the initial stages of a big project & in and out of meetings – when a colleague of mine came into my office and started talking about leadership. The conversation started with my colleague sharing his opinions about how leadership had been assumed in the past (in our organization), rather than earned… and soon went further into other undesirable facets of the company that had plagued the organization.

Before I knew it, the conversation took a bit of a negative turn where I observed myself contributing to it as well by going over the undesirable past events… like they mattered! I have been in these conversations in the past… they happen all around us; in our homes, in businesses and even in hair cutting salons! I have, inadvertently, been an active participant in these conversations for hours together and in the end, always come out feeling a little “better”, but there has always been an accompanying feeling that something still wasn’t right.

I boil down this feeling to the nature of “complaints”, especially the ones that are repeated. It is important to notice that whenever we complain about the same thing repeatedly, without attempting to change the way we act – we are usually getting some “juice” from our complaint – which is, in a very weird way, ENTERTAINING, to us. What’s worse is, this is something we humans get simply hooked to! … And this, my friends, is what I call The Trap of Entertainment.

Think about it – Have you ever caught yourself in an argument that started with a complaint, lasted more than 30 minutes and you forgot what you were arguing about … while you still continued to argue? Why did you do that? There is some Entertainment you are getting from the situation – it’s important to note that though this might be entertaining, it is dangerously so. Why? Because the consequences are usually not so entertaining!

How does one get out of it?

So, given that it is natural to get into this, how does one go about getting out of this? Here are 4 questions that would help:

  • What can we learn from the past mistakes so that the same situations do not happen again?
  • What can we do NOW to make sure that the complaint we have of others in the past – Others do not have that same complaint of us in the future?
  • How can I make a positive difference to the other person’s life RIGHT NOW, in this conversation?
  • How can I provide VALUE to this conversation without getting sucked into sharing my opinions about the past events?

Avoid the entertainment trap by guiding your conversations with others with the help of these four questions and see how things start turning up for you… and share how it goes for you!

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Character and Personality #8: Competency

by Gary Monti on August 24, 2010

Delivering the goods is the final judgment for leaders. This means in addition to charisma there needs to be character strength and competency. Competency means, “to be fit for (Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology).” This can be challenging because of the number of boundaries present, which can be fluid and not always precise. In general, though, the boundaries can be looked at as those between technology and sophistication.

Technology

“Technology” comes from the Greek “techne” and refers to a craft or skill for getting things done such as farming or carpentry. So, technology has to do with the rules for getting things done, for implementing. This is why tools are also called implements. There is no reflection of greater truths. It’s just about what it takes to get something done, e.g., the creation of a circuit board. A competent leader is keenly aware of the need to pay close attention to the technology and its implementation since the devil is in the details. Does the leader need to be technically competent? No. The leader can be surrounded by those possessing technology and a willingness to work together to bring about the product (more on that later). Does this mean that technology is trivial – far from it. The technology can exist outside of the leader.

Sophistication

“Sophistication” comes from the Greek “sophia” and means “wisdom”. A leader needs to be sophisticated which has a great deal of humility associated with it (see blog on humility). In other words, a competent leader is aware of the limits present in a situation, including his or her own.

Wisdom has a depth to it that goes beyond technical competency. A competent leader understands that in a complicated situation there is more than one truth system at play. In fact, there is at least one truth system for every belief system present.

Competent Leadership

A competent leader finds a balance among the technologies and truth systems present. An earlier blog on change management references Henry Kaiser and his ability to lead in bringing Liberty ships to life in World War II. Aristotle referred to this type of person as a good politician, one who finds a way to thread through a situation to reveal a path that, when followed, benefits the common good.

There is a fluidity to a leadership situation. To be competent means to be grounded in the right set of principles with the right priorities and be able to flex with the situation. There are no rules for that. There is no technology.

Maybe you can see why it is so important to be able to answer the question, “Who are you?” discussed in the blog on Panic and Self-Doubt. Unlike technology, sophistication must be within the leader.

The importance of technology then is a reflection of sophistication. A reflection of the balance within and among the leader and stakeholders involved, including the team. Competence pulls all of the above together so that one person can meet another person’s needs, i.e., a connection comprising the humanity of the stakeholders who need and commit to finding a solution that works.

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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When shopping on line when do you decide to purchase? If the features are fairly close to what you want do you go ahead and buy? Or, do you search and search until all the facts have been gathered before making a decision?

What about when you are on the road? At the end of the day would you like to go explore a new restaurant with one of your fellow team members or does going back to the hotel room to just “be” feel best?

In the previous blog gathering and processing information preferences were discussed. Here we will look at the two other major components that go into determining one’s temperament, orientation and energy source. As with the gathering and processing of information what is discussed below is about preference. Each of us practices all the temperament traits but, based on neural wiring, we have preferred ways of orienting and getting energy.

Orientation

Orientation refers to how we prefer to interface with the outside world. There are two approaches:

Judging, or J, which means there is a desire to come to closure on an issue. The person who buys on-line once fairly close to the desired goal is J, and;

Perceiving, or P, which means there is the desire to get more information. The person who researches on-line (even after making the purchase) is P.

Let’s avoid some common misperceptions regarding these terms. Judging is different than being judgmental. To repeat, judging is the desire for closure and is neutral. Being judgmental is making value statements, e.g., “That person is good (or bad, as the case may be).” Perceiving is the desire to gather information. It is separate from having insight or a crystal ball.

Energy

There are two possibilities for gaining energy:

Extraverts, or E’s, gain energy from being around others, socializing, and wanting to deal with exterior things. E’s can tend to make a lot of contacts without going deep, and;

Introverts, or I’s, who prefer going off by themselves to gain energy and turn inward. I’s can tend to have few contacts and go deep into relationships.

E’s are often called “solar panels” because they like excitement and going around soaking up other’s energy. I’s are often called “batteries” since going off and recharging depleted energy stores is a must.

Keep in mind; it’s where one gets energy that determines whether their temperament is E or I. In other words, you can have quiet Extraverts and energetic Introverts. A shy person can be an E and someone who is “out there” can be an I. Culturally, there is a good deal of confusion over this issue which leads to misunderstandings. You can thank Freud for a lot of this because of his big investment in trying to tear down Jung through trash-talking. But that’s fodder for another blog.

Energy, Orientation, and Teams

What value does all this have? The answer is simple. Knowing how a person gets energy and their orientation can both explain and help resolve conflict. For example, an EJ (Extraverted-Judger) may get tired of working on a task, feel he’s done enough, and want to improve his sense of well being by talking with someone and getting their attention. If the person whom they approach is IP (Introverted-Perceiver) then sparks can fly. Why? The IP could get his sense of well-being by being left alone to both stay centered and go deep on a particular task and get more information. You can see where this is going.

When we look at the combinations associated with E vs I and J vs P it becomes increasingly obvious how holding a team together can be a big challenge. But let’s not stop there. Throw in Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N) and Feeling (F) vs Thinking (T) from the previous blog and we are off to the races!

Future blogs will look at issues associated with all the combinations. As Dickens would say, “It can be the best of times and the worst of times.”

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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Branding – The mechanics of Branding

by Laura Lowell on November 6, 2009

mechanicsA well designed brand is like a well designed car – lovely to look at, lots of power, and can really take you places.  The power of a brand is based on how well it can convince people to buy your stuff.  There are countless definitions of what a brand is, and regardless of your definition, if the brand doesn’t help you sell more stuff, then, it isn’t doing its job.

All brands are built with three essential elements:  Personality, Message and Identity.

Brand Personality: Defining the underlying personality of a brand is sometimes difficult, but is always necessary if the rest of the brand elements are to come together.  The personality reflects what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your brand. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term, usually an adjective.

Authentic, Creative, Innovative, Approachable

Trustworthy, Trendy, Cool, Desirable, Reliable

Relevant, Honest, Flexible, Unique, Relevant

How you define the personality determines the tone and voice of your brand, and therefore all your communications.  A brand that is “hip, cool, trendy” sounds decidedly different from one that is “honest, trustworthy, reliable”.

Brand Message: What do you customers need from you?  Why should they choose your brand of product or service over another one?  What can your brand deliver that no one else can?  The answers to these questions form the foundation of your messages.    I have found it useful to create three core messages based on these customer needs.  Each of these messages needs to be supported by “proof points” which are specific, measurable and relevant to the audience.  For example, think of Brand X as a car.

Brand X is BETTER:  safety record, flexible seating arrangements, trade-in options

Brand X is CHEAPER:  gas mileage, insurance premiums, maintenance costs

Brand X is FASTER:  redesigned engine, chassis, performance measurements

Which of these messages best reflects the brand is based on the brand personality and the needs of our customers.  It is not based on what we think sounds good, what is easy for us to prove, or what our boss thinks.   At least it shouldn’t be anyway…

Brand Identity: Ask ten graphic designers their opinion of a company logo and you’ll get ten different answers.  Brand design is the aesthetic that communicates the underlying message and personality of the brand.  There are five core elements to any brand identity:

Logo

Tagline

Typography

Photography

Color

How these elements work together are explained in “Brand Guidelines”.  These help anyone working with the brand know what to do and not to do with the brand.  Combined with templates (Presentations, documents or web pages for example) and standardized collateral (business cards, signage and such) your brand begins to take form.  From here on, it is all about execution.

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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