Posts Tagged ‘work’

Mei-Li has a Ph.D. and works for one of the biggest communication companies in the world. Originally from China, she has been in Silicon Valley, California for the majority of her adult life. Married with two children Mei-Li is very happy. However, she has been facing a very challenging dilemma for many years: Though she is happy, successful and fulfilled in her life as it is, she’s concerned that she should do more – be more.

Mei-Li observes her boss focusing most of his attention on getting ahead; she sees other women at her level of management working for the next promotion, the next level of leadership and responsibility. “I don’t want an increase in responsibility; I don’t want to work that hard; I don’t like talking with people that much that I want to move to the next level of management. But, should I want to? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t want to do that? I’m afraid there’s something very wrong with me.”

As Mei-Li shares with me over many coaching sessions, her consistency of feelings and truths about what’s true for her has me coach her to see the dilemma she is currently constrained by. On the one hand, Mei-Li loves her job and the team she manages. She has the free time she needs to be available to her children and to her husband in a way that fits best with her sense of the quality relationship she wants. She isn’t stressed and unnerved by unmet deadlines. She’s actually one of the 10% of the workforce that actually is fulfilled in her career.

On the other hand, Mei-Li’s culture married with our Western culture attempts to move people into work that isn’t their’s to do. Mei-Li watches people spend more time being people pleasers than effective employees of this company and she finds this frustrating and confusing. “People aren’t getting their work done while they are schmoosing for a promotion. Should I be doing that? The fact is, I don’t like schmoosing; I don’t like going to cocktail parties, playing golf or any of those other social things that you are supposed to do if you want to get ahead. I’m a pretty reclusive person who enjoys my life the way it is. But, I feel like I should be doing more.”

Many of us face this dilemma of being more – doing more; at the same time actually finding fulfillment in what we are doing right now. But, aren’t we supposed to want more money and power? Aren’t we supposed to want the bigger office, more contact with the more influential people of the world? Aren’t we supposed to want more?

My sense is, and I shared this with Mei-Li in our session, that what people want is to get to a place where there is fulfillment in their work and personal life – that there is balance with health and happiness. I believe that most people want what Mei-Li has. She already has it. Though the current within the corporate structure drags many people in its undertow toward some fantasy life that is wrought with a lot of what they don’t want to do and perhaps aren’t really cut out to be with, there are few who willingly choose health and fulfillment with what they have, what they do and how they be.

Mei-Li laughs as she begins to see a bigger picture – one that allows her free choice to choose for herself what’s hers to do. She laughs to hear that what people are struggling for is what she already has. She laughs as she realizes that she is presently free to choose to be happy in the life she has created and if in the future she feels inspired to grow her career toward greater degrees of leadership and responsibility, she can do that.

Mei-Li isn’t out of the current, and as long as she is in the corporate environment there will always be that field of influence. The degree to which she can stay aligned with her commitment to well-being and fulfillment in her career, the stronger her dedication and the less pull this will have on her.

Christopher, who I spoke of a few weeks ago, shared with me that if he could do anything he would work with inner city kids, teaching them math and computer skills. Then, the litany of “Why I Can’t Leave My Job and Give Up Everything I Worked For” began. There was no stopping him; the who would pay the mortgage, who would take care of my parents, I’d have to give up my addiction to Siamese cats; on and on, fully engaged in the undertow of a make believe reality, for too many, is actually real.

Mei-Li has found an eddy for now where she is out of the stream of influence by others. She is finding herself – the one she believes she has to continually pursue. It takes strength and courage to step out of the normal way of being for the sake of what we are all striving for – well-being and fulfillment in our careers. Kind of crazy when you think about it! Perhaps the pursuit of Mei-Li has come to a happy ending; right here where she has been, but now enjoying it to a much larger degree!

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.
Share

Developing an understanding of the project terrain and all its complexities can be daunting. This is especially true as a consultant since value needs to be shown for each hour spent. There is a trade-off needed between understanding EVERYTHING, making decisions, and moving on in order to be efficient. What to do? The answer is, “Keep it simple.” So how does one go about doing that?

The way that works for me is determining what principles are at work and trusting they will guide me. So what does that mean? The 9 areas of project management as espoused by PMI® can help. I use them all the time for troubled projects. Just ask, “Is there clarity regarding:

  • Scope
  • Time
  • Budget
  • Communications
  • Human Resources
  • Procurement
  • Quality
  • Risk
  • Integration”

Simple “yes” or “no” answers suffice. Then ask, “Are these 9 components interlocked in an interdependent way?”

Where you see “no” for either question points to the path that needs to be followed in getting to the crux of the matter. For me, this is where meditation comes into play. By letting go and allowing the two above-mentioned questions dance before my minds eye the fulcrum question in the situation will show itself. This leads to another fulcrum question…and another…and another until a clear picture is generated of what is going on which leads to determining what is needed to improve the situation. By the way, “fulcrum question” refers to pivotal questions that show whether or not principles are at play, if they are the right ones, and if they are interlocked.

For example, whenever talking with a particular senior manager I’d leave his office with an unsettled feeling. (This is where faith comes into play.) I’d have the urge to dissect what he said but when I indulged that urge I only got more confused and frustrated. By letting go and asking, “What principles are relevant to his situation?” and trusting what my gut said the fulcrum question(s) surfaced. Sometimes it would feel like someone else was creating it because it arose from my gut rather than my brain.

It is very much like the old detective series, “Columbo,” in that repeated asking about the 9 areas of project management surfaced the dodginess he was using to manipulate situations.

This practice of having faith in the principles leads to another valuable behavior – becoming aware of whom to talk with next. With the questionable manager it might have been a peer or subordinate or even an outside customer.

The point of all this is to trust the principles you believe are relevant. If you are mistaken it will surface soon enough and a change in the principle set can be made. Practicing this simple faith while not necessarily knowing everything will guide you to the right questions, conclusions and options both as to determining what is going on and possible options for improving the situation.

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
Share

The Soul of a Project #3: Truth vs. Propaganda

by Gary Monti on February 8, 2012

“Truth is the first casualty of war,” is attributed to Senator Hiram Johnson, R-California, 1918. This can occur on projects as well.  What can really muddy the waters is the confusion between facts and truth. Think of all the political hacks on cable news shows.

Facts vs. Truth

Facts stand alone. If it is 75° F outside that reality is what it is. It is free of dependence on anyone’s frame-of-mind.

Truth on the other hand is different because it is, to some extent, dependent upon one’s frame of mind. In fact, the definitions for “truth” range from “consistency with facts,” to “being true to a set of beliefs.” That latter definition is what muddies the waters. In other words, it gets personal.

Frankly, I’ll support someone who conforms to the facts and has a personal belief system that is disciplined, humble, and compassionate. When that person speaks from the gut I resonate like a tuning fork. I might lead, I might follow. Frankly I don’t care because that person seems trustworthy so I’ll risk they’ll negotiate in good faith.

On the flip side, when propaganda is being used, “run!” is the word that comes to mind. That person’s truth is scary! This is especially true when beliefs I hold to be true are being hijacked and parroted to promote the other person’s agenda potentially at the expense of others, the team, and myself. I can get so caught up in hearing what I want to hear that the ability to see the propagandist is lost.

Truth vs. Propaganda

What makes propaganda so dangerous is its seductiveness. It goes something like this. If we just go along with a bending of the truth we can get something in return. Usually it is relief from a fear or getting something we’ve been after, some possession, recognition, money, sex, the list goes on-and-on. “Tow the company line” sums the situation well. Here’s an example.

Employees can invest highly in consultants brought in to bring about change. The employee believes something like this, “After they listen to me they’ll just HAVE get management to shape up and then my life will be okay.” Those employees will champion the consultant.

This is a form of self-propaganda. How do I know that? By watching employees being left flat when I tell them that for the change to take place they will have to individually, one-by-one, commit to the needed change. The propaganda was this, I would be both the shield and sword that will take on senior managers and get them to follow sound project management principles. Believing this to be true, the employee feels safe.

Now there is truth in this.  Consultants have an obligation to challenge variances from the principles appropriate for a situation regardless of the employee’s position – from Board member to janitor. However, this simply sets the stage by spooling up one frame-of-mind through the organization that fits the project’s needs. There is a second part to this, though. During the one-on-one’s each person must hold their ground in sticking with the planned improvements. THIS can be a very challenging task when the resistant person in the conversation is higher up in the food chain.

Propaganda can set in and emotionally dishonest arguments and judgments surface. Sticking with the example, the employee says, “The truth is, the consultant has failed.”  The unconscious reality (self-serving agenda) is the employee might be afraid for their job and doesn’t want to risk taking a leadership position in the conversation by disagreeing legitimately. Granted, this fear can be very real. However, the bending to the propaganda, whether one’s own or someone else’s, can leave lasting damage.

Socrates said it well. As he was quoted in Plato’s Phaedo:

“False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”

Unfortunately, in the end Socrates was asked to drink the hemlock since he wouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid. It can be hard leading a project. Tread carefully.

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
Share

Dilemmas of Being in Business #4: Growing Pains

by Rosie Kuhn on November 23, 2011

A client of mine, Hui Zhong, called me yesterday somewhat distressed. She is in product management as an information analyzer for an international corporation headquartered in Silicon Valley, CA.

A few months ago Hui Zhong, pronounced hoy-zong, began reading a book by Robin Sharma – The Leader Who Had No Title. She began practicing some of the exercises, which allowed her to stretch and expand her comfort zone to include more of her authentic leadership style. The dilemma though, is that as she exercises and stretches to expand her repertoire, she’s experiencing growing pains that bring with them discomfort, uncertainty, fear and insecurity. She is finding it distressful and uncomfortable to shift the way she is showing up in her work, uncertain if it will make her more attractive for promotions and all that goes along with them. She knows she’s on the right track with regard to cultivating greater professionalism and effectiveness, yet she is has doubts whether these traits truly make a difference in the corporate world where flash and charm often win the promotion. Is she really doing the smart thing if she’s wanting to gain more visibility and be acknowledged for what she brings to the role of leader? She’s in a dilemma.

As we change and grow – as we discard what no longer serves, we find ourselves in the midst of a leap. It’s very exciting and disconcerting at the same time; with practice, the long term rewards will be ease and agility in growing and in evolving in to the person and the leader we say we want to be.

There are those who expect that with the right education and the right connections it will be easy to rise to the top. There are those who play the game the right way and anticipate that the right way will get them the outcome they want. No one really knows for sure, and too often we lose our souls in order to find out.

As Hui Zhong lets go of her suitable education, connections and playing the game appropriately in service to exploring authentic leadership styles, she is getting triggered and collapses into feeling anxious, weak, vulnerable and unworthy. In the first few moments, she can hardly stand. She reports though that she recovers in a matter of minutes.

Hui Zhong is a model of resiliency. There are many who cannot stand being triggered into feeling vulnerable, weak and inadequate, and they do whatever they can to avoid this experience. Their unwillingness to cultivate and strengthen this essential capacity will suffer from the effects of no promotion. Hui Zhong is taking personal and professional risks, that on the inside feels, sometimes, like she’s failing and will never recover. It’s a debilitating momentary feeling, yet she knows that to do it any other way is out of integrity.

This intense practice develops muscles required for the type of leaders most organizations are truly hungry for. What’s at stake for Hui Zhong is her personal identity as a winner and as a perfectionist. She’s putting it all on the line because she knows the degree to which her egoic-self is influencing her choice-making, which doesn’t serve her team or her organization in the way that has her feel like a real leader – one who puts aside their own personal needs and desires for the sake of the people she works with and works for.

Even though there are tons of books on the market about leadership development, so few people actually take up the practice of shifting their personal perspective to something more. Personal gain vs. professional integrity; the experience and angst of cultivating self-awareness while developing leadership capacities that inevitably do lead to mastery; while eliminating manipulations and political motivations, which are inconsistent with corporate visions and statements of integrity.

I suggest to Hui Zhong that she herself to be the experiment – an exploration. What makes her valuable to her company, in my mind, is that she is willing to be in the “I don’t know,” finding out what’s beyond the games, and political motivations and manipulations that actually limit possibilities within most organization.

She is learning that she isn’t supposed to know or have the easier or right way to move through a transformative process such that she is in – She is only to observe, witness and assess, noticing what works and what doesn’t; then make slight shifts in how she is being and what she is doing; and then, again notice, witness and observe. This is the path to mastery, innovation, inspiration, freedom and selfless leadership.

As anyone of us, like Hui Zhong, cultivates the resilience to move through this process we’ll be developing not only the wisdom and mastery but we’ll be able to empower others to explore, witness, and experiment too. This to me is the most powerful form of leadership – making space for others to explore, experiment and discover for themselves innovative styles of leading.

The dilemma – that choice-point between one type of success and the other, are each pulling Hui Zhong and keeping her on the fence, though this happens far less so than before. What she is currently practicing – where she is putting her attention, will inevitable bring her into the light, because she is acknowledging and honoring her highest truth. My belief is that this is the sustainable, healthier and more effective way to lead and will inevitable be recognized for its value – growing pains and all.

This is not an easy path, nor should it be. We will not cultivate strong and innovative leaders by having them travel the well worn path. To truly be a great leader, each of us will need to become the experiment, embracing the moments when our findings are thrilling and monumental in their effects.

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.
Share

Note by Will Reed

A few weeks ago, Roger sent me an email telling me he was adapting my One-Year Planning MandalaChart, described in Flexible Focus #64: The One-Year Plan, into a writing and marketing tool for authors. I immediately asked Roger to share his ideas as an ActiveGarage guest post, and he agreed. His post appears below. I think you’ll agree it’s a great example of “tinkering” with an idea and putting it to work in new ways.

Why author’s need an Author MandalaChart


I’ve been following, and learning from, William Reed for most of the last decade. I tend to listen when he speaks. He’s introduced me to numerous creativity ideas and resources, including mind mapping.

I’ve been reading, and saving, his Flexible Focus series since it began. But, I knew that Will had really outdone himself when I saw his One-Year Plan MandalaChart.

The One-Year Plan MandalaChart resonated with me because it addressed several of the most important challenges authors face when planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a brand-building book: book, including:

  • There’s more to book publishing success than simply “writing.” It’s not enough to provide a clearly and concisely written advice; the advice has to be relevant, and the book has to be visible to its intended readers.
  • Publishing success involves simultaneously addressing multiple tasks. Publishing is not a linear process. Success requires addressing multiple issues at the same time. For example, how authors intend to profit from their book should influence their choice of publishing options.
  • Success requires goals, priorities, and deadlines. In a time-strapped world, it’s more important than ever that goals and tasks be accompanied with deadlines. Without deadlines, days, weeks, months, and years can go by without progress, resulting in a terrible waste of opportunities..

Modeled on, and inspired by, Will’s One-Year Plan MandalaChart, my Author’s MandalaChart provides a visual way to create goals, prioritize tasks, and measure your progress as you move forward.

Author’s MandalaChart matrix

The starting point was to adapt the 8 topics Will addressed in his original One-Year Plan MandalaChart to the specific needs of authors.

Will’s original matrix was addressed the following spheres, or activities, of an individual’s life:

  1. Personal
  2. Financial
  3. Study
  4. Business
  5. Home
  6. Society
  7. Health
  8. Leisure

When adapting the One-Year Plan to my Author’s MandalaChart, I included the following activity areas that authors must address:


  1. Goals. Goals involves answering questions like, Why are you writing a book? and How do you intend to profit from your book? As publishing has changed during the past few years, it’s become more and more important for authors to view their books as new business ventures. Books have to generate income beyond that which comes from book sales. 
  2. Readers. Reader topics include answering questions like Who are your ideal readers?, Why should they read your book?, What do they need to know?, and How will they benefit from your book? Nonfiction publishing success isn’t about how much you know; success is determined by offering the information that your ideal readers need to know.
  3. Competition. Books are not self-contained islands; new books must offer something better than what’s already available. Success requires identifying existing books and analyzing their pros and cons, so you can answer the question, What’s the “missing book” my ideal readers are waiting for?
  4. Message. From analyzing your goals, readers, and competition, you should be able to position your book and organize your ideas into chapters and subtopics within chapters. Your book proposal and press releases must be able to quickly answer questions like, What’s your book’s big idea? and What will readers take away from your book?  
  5. Format. Information can be communicated in lots of different ways, for example, step-by-step procedurals, case studies, personal experiences, question and answer, etc. You can also publish a big book or a small book. Format questions include, How much of a book do you need to write? and How can you simplify your book so you can get it into your reader’s hands as soon as possible?
  6. Awareness. Books are not magnetic, they don’t attract readers like a magnet attracts steel filings. You have to help your reader find you, answering questions like, How can I get my book reviewed? and How can I share my ideas while writing my book?
  7. Demand. Awareness has to be converted into demand, demand must stimulate purchases. Questions to address include, How can I stimulate pre-orders for my book? How can I sell as many books as possible when it’s available? and Where can I sell my book outside ofnormal bookstore channels?
  8. Profit. Finally, authors must leverage books into back-end information products or coaching, consulting, or paid speaking and presenting events. Questions include, How can I help readers implement my ideas? and What kind of marketing materials are speaker bureaus and event planners looking for?

Setting and attracting goals

The most important part of Will’s original One-Year Plan MandalaChart was the way it encouraged users to address each topic in matrix from four perspectives:

  • Current status. Where are we now? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current position? What are the forces we have to deal with?
  • By December. What are our goals for the remainder of the calendar year? What do we want to accomplish by the end of the year?
  • Image for the end of a year. How can we visually communicate our accomplishments after 12 months?
  • Steps to reach this. What do we have to do to achieve our December and our One-Year goals?

In my version, I made a few simple changes, as follows:

  • Situation. (the same)
  • 90-days. This addresses the fact that “By December” implied an August starting date.
  • 1-year. Rather than a visual image, I felt a description of accomplishments during the past 12 months would be most helpful.
  • Steps to success. (Simple wording change.)

Author’s MandalaChart benefits

Writing and self-publishing involve a curious blend of creativity and self-discipline. Success requires a flexible perspective that combines long-term vision and consistent action in 8 different activity areas.

Although all projects are a work in progress, I feel the Author’s MandalaChart achieves its primary goal of helping authors avoid the common myopia of focusing entirely on writing and makes it easy to maintain a “big picture” view that encourages action in all 8 areas. The Author’s MandalaChart makes it easy to describe short term and long-goals in each area.

In addition, it creates an engaging visual to display on your wall as well as share with co-authors, agents, editors, and—when appropriate—your blog and social market community.

Conclusion

In addition to building on Will Reed’s already strong framework and adapting it for a specific vertical market, the Author’s MandalaChart shows the importance of constantly being on the lookout for ideas and tools that you can put to use in new ways.

The power of idea-sharing venues like the ActiveGarage is that it creates a community of achievers, constantly looking for ways to do a better job to address the challenges we all face, including the need to get more done in less time.

Editor’s NoteRoger C. Parker 37-part ActiveGarage Author’s Journey series offers practical advice for writing a book. He invites you to visit Published & Profitable and download a free proof of his do-it-yourself guide to developmental editing, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write or Self-Publlish a Brand-building Book

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
Share

Leader driven Harmony #39: Do the Crappy Little Jobs FIRST!

by Mack McKinney on September 9, 2011

It is so easy when running a business (or office, branch, etc.) to put off doing the crappy little jobs.  You know the ones:  the monthly payroll report to the state revenue office; the weekly income spreadsheet update; the logging of business expenses into a spreadsheet; in short, any minor task you dread but that can BITE if it is NOT done.  Here are four tips for keeping up with the niggling little tasks that you hate to do.

  1. Do it first thing, right when you think of it.  Don’t put it off for even an hour.  Just do it and be done.  Then reward yourself with a walk outside, or an apple, or anything else you find pleasant and that takes very little time from your day.
  2. Work on it for only an hour and no more.  If it isn’t finished in an hour, set it aside until tomorrow and finish it up.
  3. Get help:  If someone could read a list of figures to you, for example, thereby speeding up the job, ask them to.  If the job will be easier with three people, get two others to help you.
  4. Set a calendar reminder in Outlook, etc. and when it dings, stop and do the task.  Right then.

When you have something that must get done and you procrastinate, by putting off the inevitable you pay a hidden price – – – WORRY.  You are renting that task some space in your head!  This is not healthy.  It pushes other ideas out and can keep you from fully engaging with others.  You won’t be able to live in the moment because deep in your mind is that little nagging reminder about the task remaining to be done.  You won’t be able to fully relax because that THING is stuck in your brain.

Not getting these things done also adds to your total stress level and ANY amount of stress adversely impacts your heart.  So keeping the small tasks caught up is key to staying healthy.  Who knew that not paying bills on time, or failing to order key office supplies on time could tax your heart?

So in summary, do what your parents taught you: Work before play.  Get the annoying little tasks done when they are due!  Then you can focus your attention on getting the BIG things in your life organized and arranged – – – the family issues and the career training and education you need to schedule; get that book started that you’ve intended to write; call that old friend you haven’t seen in years.  Remember, BIG ROCKS FIRST!  But you cannot focus on those big rocks if an irritating piece of gravel stands in the way.  Keep your mind clear and unencumbered by dealing with the crappy little tasks before they cause bigger problems!

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
Share

Do you have a rock star culture in your organization?

by Himanshu Jhamb on January 11, 2010

In a world where heroes are worshiped, superheroes idolized and rock stars treated as gods, somehow it gets lost upon us that the true power lies in high performance teams and not just embodied in one person, however good that person might be. Corporations are in the quest of seeking out individuals who are superstars – you can pick up any job requirement write-up and you’ll see a huge bent towards making sure the person sought after is an expert in at least 5 areas, a one-man-army and then, somewhere down there, in a tiny bullet point you will find a feeble mention that “Candidate must be a good team player”. Am I the only one who sees something amiss here?

Here’s a little story from my early career days:

I worked for a young organization where the team comprised of people who labeled themselves “Rock Stars” (seriously, they used to call themselves that). They were ambitious, competent, competitive, hungry, arrogant and loud. I still remember my first day as a trainee when one of them “Oriented” me on my responsibilities, the product, the customers and the services we provide… all in the space of 2 hours… and I was thrown in the deep waters to sink or swim. When I questioned this process, I was told – “Oh! Everyone has gone through this – after all, we only hire Rock Stars!” Only problem was – I didn’t feel much like a rock star when I was sitting in front of the customer the next day as an expert on the project. As time went by, I saw that my fellow Rock Stars were very talented and savvy but all of them kept “Winging” stuff because the philosophy of being a Rock Star begins with making tall promises (sometimes, unattainable) and then stretching to deliver. Sometimes things worked really well and they returned from projects as Heroes… though, most of the times, projects went awry and there was a lot of “coping” to do… but the label “Rock Stars” stuck to them. The one consequence that mostly all of them faced was they worked very long hours and over time, burned out.

So, what do you do when you see symptoms of a “Rock Star Culture” in your team. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Ask many “How” Questions: This is the part that gets “Winged” most of the time. People make promises based on a “Feeling”. While I am not a total non-believer of this (because sometimes actions need to be committed to before planning – just talk to an entrepreneur, if you want a lively discussion on this one!) BUT many a times, the feeling falls under the area of  a story about things getting done without any thinking on how they will be done and who will do what.
  2. Estimate a little higher: Rock Stars know that in order to retain the mantle, they need to overachieve. Nothing wrong with that – except, sometimes they promise very aggressive estimates and overlook dependencies that are not easily visible at the start of the projects. The little bit of higher estimates gives them room to cope, when unforeseeable situations occur (and they do!).
  3. Make them commit to a Project Plan: A well laid out plan takes care of the concerns around “eating more than you can chew” because it forces you to ask fundamental questions like:
    • What tasks need to be done to achieve the final goal
    • Who will do it
    • What are the dependencies that must be taken care of to complete a task
    • How much effort is needed to complete a task
    • When will it get done
  4. Foster a Team environment: Reward people when they look out for each other, help each other and back each other – all aspects of good teamwork, encourage communication and coordination between team members, Acknowledge individual feats but amplify the team achievements more!

True, teams are made of individuals and the more skillful the individuals comprising the team, the better the capacity of the team… but teams are teams. What we are looking for is “High Performance Teams” and THAT comes not from gathering a bunch of superstars in a group BUT from Focused teams supporting each other at each step of the journey… Yes, by all means, have Rock Stars on your team but in the end what really matters is you need to have a Rocking TEAM!

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.
Share

So you think you are educated…

by Himanshu Jhamb on November 27, 2009

educationWhile I was growing up, I was told that the meaning of education is going through the motions of schooling followed by a professional collegial degree. For about 80% of my life, I held onto that as the truth. It took a lot of stagnation in my career and also the mundane routine of doing the same thing day-in and day-out to shake me out of my tranquility. There is a saying about teachers – “Teacher shows up when the Student is ready”. I was ready… and my teachers showed up. Over the next 3-4 years I surrounded myself with teachers and learned what it really means to be educated.

Here is what I learnt:

  1. Education is not only about gaining the knowledge of something as in memorizing facts or formula, it is also about knowing when to apply what to produce situations that you want for your future.
  2. Education is about learning new distinctions that give you the power of noticing what has gone unnoticed so far… and is perhaps even (without your knowledge) running you or your life.
  3. Going through the motions of school and college is a part of education as it makes you minimally viable in the marketplace – but that’s not where it should stop. Learning, like living life, is a continuous process.
  4. Education is not just about knowing … it is, in fact, more about doing.

The last point is beautifully depicted in a story about Henry Ford, in the book The magic ladder to Success by Napolean Hill. The story goes something like this:

During World War II, Henry Ford brought a suit against one of the national newspapers for calling him Ignorant. The lawyers of the newspaper asked Ford a number of questions for quite some time in front of the jury at the trial trying to prove that Ford was, indeed, ignorant. One of the questions asked was “How many soldiers were sent by the British in the war of 1776?” Ford’s response was “I don’t know how many were sent but I have heard that it was a lot more than ever went back”. Ford continued to play with them zestfully, often responding with such witty answers to more of these testy questions… until a point when he grew really frustrated with a rather insulting question. He said “If I should really wish to answer the foolish question you have just asked or have been asking let me remind you that I have a row of buttons hanging over my desk. By pressing the right button, I could call in any number of people who would give me the correct answer to all the questions you have asked and to many that you have not the intelligence to either ask or answer. Now, will you kindly tell me why I should bother about filling my mind with useless information in order to answer all foolish questions you have to ask, when I have able people around me whom I can call on, if I really need the answers to these questions?”

Henry Ford had little elementary schooling, but, clearly he was one of the most educated men in his times. He probably did not have a lot of knowledge but he more than compensated for the lack of it, in his application and doing… The fact that he is a legend, now, is proof enough for that.

If you are at a point where you feel stuck or stagnated in your career, perhaps a place to look would be your “knowledge gap” and be careful with how you read what I just wrote – I use the word knowledge in the context of doing, now knowing.

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.
Share