We will

WeWillDriving to work I listen to the radio. When it comes to ads I usually switch the channel. However, sometimes you can’t escape them and some you seem to catch every time. One of these was for me the Crusaders ad “We will”. I found the original ones not to my liking. It didn’t make me want to go and see the game.

Until this week. The tone changed and finally the “We will” hit a nerve.

We will for the jersey. 
We will for each other.
We will for the fans.
WE WILL

The Crusaders are a very successful sports team. And you can read this up on Wikipedia or the Rugby sites on web. Many teams have their ebbs and highs, some are one time wonders, and some never make it.

Germany, for example, is a very successful football nation. However at this years worldcup in Russia they did not perform to their aspired and expected level. A whole nation asked why? The South Korean coach (South Korea beat Germany 2-0 and kicked them effectively out) hit the nail on the head “The Germans weren’t hungry anymore.”

This is where “We will” is so important,

  • it talks about pride (we will for the jersey),
  • it talks about trust (we will for each other), and
  • it talks about customers (we will for the fans).

The psychology of having a significant intrinsic motivation is the keystone of a successful culture. “We will” does that. Germany’s motivation of defending the worldcup and having a pot of gold at the end wasn’t good enough for already successful individuals. The additional controversy with a split loyalty drove a dagger into the team spirit. “Die Mannschaft” wasn’t a team, it was just a collection of exceptional footballers.

For me it is a lesson in leadership. It is not important to have the best engineer, project manager, or business analyst in the team. It is much more important that the people you have

  • know what they need to do and
  • are willing to put the hard work in to make it happen.

That includes everybody and includes trusting each other and helping each other out. I’m thinking the doing, the learning, the planning, the supporting, and good measure of pragmatism.

Acknowledgement:
header image copyright Crusaders.co.nz
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The hard work begins

John Wooden Pyramid Of SuccessClose to 2 weeks into the new role things begin to take shape. There is certainly a lot of “stuff” to do ranging from re-forming the team, providing direction, to setting a few guidelines in place. While I was going through the environmental parameters, the change patterns, and the strategic objectives I came across John Wooden’s pyramid of success. I found it fascinating and so applicable to my thinking and the process I’m working through that I decided to share it.

Please note the image has been published by Theresa Kimm in 2014.

John’s Pyramid of success was based on the following creed he received from his father at his graduation:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Make each day your masterpiece.
  3. Help others.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

which he translated to a 12 point list of leadership lessons

  1. Good values attract good people
  2. Love is the most powerful four-letter word
  3. Call yourself a teacher
  4. Emotion is your enemy
  5. It takes 10 hands to make a basket
  6. Little things make big things happen
  7. Make each day your masterpiece
  8. The carrot is mightier than the stick
  9. Make greatness attainable by all
  10. Seek significant change
  11. Don’t look at the scoreboard
  12. Adversity is your asset

A damn powerful list! Most I agree without thinking about, some I would have worded probably different, a few I might not have thought of straight away and one (highlighted) I wouldn’t have included.

Don’t look at the scoreboard.

Our culture is build around “what is measured gets done / is managed / ..”. Quality control and lean management can’t exist without metrics and measures. So, how can a very successful NBA coach have a principle of ignoring the scoreboard? Doesn’t he need to re-act when his team isn’t performing at their best?

The answer to that conundrum is hidden in the pyramid of success and a strong belief that when you do the right things and do them well success is the natural outcome.

The cornerstones of the pyramid are hard work (industriousness) and a strong belief in what you are trying to achieve (enthusiasm). The foundation is nothing else then respect of your teams strengths and abilities coupled with enduring willingness to work together (friendship, loyalty, cooperation).

The second layer is aimed at the individual concerning their sincerity and ambition. Determination, Decision making, and Active Listening are 3 of these 4 elements. The 4th one “self control” or “emotion is your enemy” reminds me of my time in the German Army. The sergeant who was leading parts of training said to us, “When something goes wrong and it goes to your head, don’t act straight away. There is usually time to sleep it over. Review the situation with fresh eyes and make a much more rational decision about it.” I feel good to recall that advise and find it on the pyramid of success.

The middle layer centres around skill. Although it makes clear that your attitude and the team spirit are essential to make success enduring. That level is key to next: Poise and Integrity. I think, I rambled about posture in an earlier post citing Isabel Allende. That is exactly the essence of this layer.

Which leave the capstone “competitive greatness”:

Be at your best when your best is needed. Your best is needed every day.

And if you do all that and your team is doing that, too there is no need to look at the scoreboard because success will come. Quality assurance is not neglected, on the contrary, it is built into each step on the way.

A new Beginning

Change AheadMy adventures at a local government agency are coming to an end this Friday. Since my last post I carved a position of trust, knowledge and influencing leadership.

  • in the shared fleet a car got named after me
  • people in my team ask me for advise on how to deal with complex situations, act on it, and get the job done and out of an uncomfortable position
  • people not in my team use me for mentoring
  • senior managers across the agency appreciate how I resolve challenges in various projects
  • when I manage the team while the usual manager is on secondment the service levels and team sentiment stay on the already top level
  • my architecture change leadership is recognised as thoughtful and practical
  • a sincere trust relationship exists between my manager and myself

So, why the change?

An opportunity arose which a friend advised me off. Joining an organisation where I could bring in my previous skills in managing technology operations and also be part in leading a change process looked to me as a challenge that I love to take on. Early days it is, although I already met with the people I’m working with a few times and the feeling is we are on the same wave length.

  • a re-active environment needs to be boosted to be a leading one
  • service delivery methods and practices need to be transformed away from high demand for low value tasks to requests for business value services
  • changing the team spirit to being proud of Technology Operations

That’s not happening over night and is still first impressions. Expect from now on regular posts again!

The Happy Employee

Happiness in 3 facesEarlier this week a friend posted an article about “Is it your fault when you are unhappy?” The original blog post is actually from James Adonis, one of Australia’s best-known people-management thinkers.

James presented two opposite opinions:

  • “Your employer is not responsible for your happiness. You are.”
  • “It’s not difficult at all for leaders to create happy employees. The only reason it doesn’t happen is if you work for a tool.”

“So, who’s right? Are employees ultimately responsible for the joy they feel at work? Or do their bosses have a moral obligation to make it a priority?

That leaders have a financial obligation is already clear. There are many credible studies demonstrating the benefits associated with happy employees or, more significantly, engaged employees. These reports, for example, outline some of the empirical findings that indicate the positive outcomes include better customer service, higher productivity, enhanced sales and fewer safety accidents.”

James favours the first opinion and continues outlining 4 traits that distinguishes happy employees:

  • A desire to work for the simple joy that arises from doing a good job.
  • A positive attitude comprising enthusiasm and cheerfulness.
  • A conscientious work ethic of hard work and resourcefulness.
  • A proactive approach that seeks opportunities to make a contribution.

He further discusses Unhappiness as a result of “waiting” and concludes:

“So, cheers to the leaders who make it a personal mission to create a happy and engaging workplace. But an even more emphatic cheer is in order for the employees who do it themselves.”

My Opinion

I agree happiness is not something leaders can give to people. That is inherently impossible. It is up to you personally what and how you live your life. That’s why I start every day with a smile and enjoy a beautiful Monday.

Although that doesn’t mean leaders can sit back and relax, knowing it’s not their fault if employees are being unhappy. They do have a responsibility to provide 5 things:

  • make sure employees do meaningful work
  • communicate open, honestly and share information
  • ensure employees have autonomy within their responsibilities
  • foster innovation, teamwork, and be the chief road block remover
  • provide fair compensation and possibilities to grow

If they don’t, people who take responsibility for their happiness will leave and those who wait for happiness to come to them will stay.

To your question, Greg, I don’t think leaders have a moral obligation to create happiness. They work in the same organisation as their team. So, it comes down in my opinion to

  1. What does the organisation stand for, what’s the purpose? Can I identify with that as an individual.
  2. What are the values of the organisation and are they demonstarted by the senior managers? Do those match to a large degree with my personal values.
  3. Do I feel I can make a difference and add value?

If those three questions line up, I can see happiness and meaningful work coming up 🙂

Succeeding on Purpose

I didn’t go to TechEd in Auckland last week, but a friend of mine did. He pointed me to the recording of one of the keynotes, saying if you watch one, make it this one.

Succeeding on Purpose

Succeeding on Purpose

It’s a 1 hour recording and if you have the time, it is well spend. If not, here’s my 5 minute summary:

In this talk James A. Whitaker tells his personal 7 traits that everybody can use to succeed in life. The talk is limited to outline 4 of those and James makes sure he advertises his book about it.

(1) Ambition

This is the only trait that is not optional. Having an aspirational goal is a must. Set your goals higher. Even if you miss it you still end up higher than the mediocre goal you were sure to achieve.

(2) Specialisation

Specialising on something gives you an identity. It is an opportunity to master the topic. Although, make sure you choose something that matters. Be passionate about it. Then comes the important part: Make an elevator pitch in 2 forms, one to tell others “that’s what I do” and the other for yourself, “that’s why I do it”. And don’t forget – specialisation does only work for a limited time. You may need to change 2 or 3 times along the way.

(3) Story telling

James tells us 3 stories that matter. The first is about your role and your speciality (see above), the second is about your project and why it matters (this tells other what you do is interesting), and the third talks about you and what makes you special. The latter is probably the hardest part for me, there are plenty of folks who do similar stuff – how do I compare?

(4) Learning

“We are who we learn from” – The sentence didn’t first make too much sense to me. However, when James continues talking about mentors, yes many mentors, it starts to resonate. Having access to an expert in the field makes learning so much more fun. The trick is to find the right one for you.

(5) Mimic / Imitation

He is an advocate of imitating the chosen expert in that field. The advantage, you learn more – you learn the little things, the things people do unconsciously. Although beware, don’t become a carbon copy. Mimic multiple mentors and become the blend that is you.

(6) Innovation’s long nose >>> Derivation

Re-invent the wheel is the credo! But make it better so that it matters. He talks about clairvoyance and creativity in this context. Clairvoyance is about the knowledge you have about your industry and your ability to predict what’s happening next. This goes back to specialisation. Don’t specialise in ‘dead’ things, specialise in things that are going to matter. Some tips about a creativity are added, where he briefly talks about rituals (or habits) that stimulate creativity, distractions that gives your brain a rest, and being centered – a place or places where you feel comfortable and have the greatest ideas.

(7) Leadership

He left that hanging. I have to read the book!

Why should I do Information Management?

Wanted! people that follow processes

Wanted! people that follow processes

In my previous post I highlighted the 4 corner stones of good Information Management.

  • people
  • processes
  • content and
  • technology

Today, I want to add more detail on the people section. You can have the most clever system and still nobody cares. That would be worst case scenario. How can we pave the way for being successful on this front?

User Experience

About 10 years ago I was the first time involved in Document Management. A small team having experts from the different business areas designed the requirements. A large 20 page document outlined all meta data we could think of, structured in categories and divided into mandatory and optional items. We presented this to a selected group of people with devastating result. It failed the 7 second filing test.

One guy said, “if it takes me longer than 7 seconds to file a document with all this extra data, I won’t do it. I’ll use my trusted filing system where I know exactly where my documents are. Others are most welcome to follow the same process.”

These few sentences highlighted common problems with projects, that were not designed with the user in mind but with a process or an ideal outcome. In this case, all documents would be perfectly tagged with relevant meta data and a process would take care of that.

Lessons learnt:

  • any system must be at least as good as the existing system
  • any trade offs must be clearly understood and accepted
  • and the system must be designed for excellent user experience

Is UX sufficient?

The answer is likely to find in this quote:

Any information system is only as good as it is being used.

Tell me, what else can you do that people use the system?

 

Good Judgement

Last month I reviewed a few presentation on Slideshare and made a note about Hubspot‘s policy approach. I remembered that during a walk at the beach while thinking about management principles. This is the note:

We don’t have pages of policies, instead we have a 3 word policy on just everything:

judgement

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