Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Nation of Cheaters? -
I second the writers observations; people here in the good ol' USA cheat, lie, steal and plagiarize constantly. In my position as a IT middle manager, I hear all of the excuses for just about every egregious activity that can occur in the work place. The only one that I come close to accepting is the reason for plagiarism in the work place. I have had it explained that if someone has already written a white paper or article on a subject that the employee is writing why shouldn't they be able to take passages or content for use in their memo in the name of efficiency. I said its already OK to do that as long as it's not verbatim and they site their resources. At the end of the day they accomplish the same objective; they are able to convey their thoughts and stay efficient as possible by not reinventing the wheel in the process.

Either way folks today think, for whatever reason, that it's OK to cheat to achieve the objective in question. I wonder if this comes from the video game generation?? Every game I'm aware of has built in and published "cheat" codes to help those NOT good enough to complete the game objectives on their own. Go figure!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

There, but for the grace of GOD...

I enjoyed my last two meals with my uncle by marriage, Lee Merriman, his wife Pam, my mother-in-law Dotti Blair, father-in-law Jim Blair (Jimbo) and my wife Angela. Lee is suffering with, what started out to be esophageal cancer that has now become systemic cancer in its final stage. Lee called us all together for a few meals to, what seemed to me, "say goodbye" before he "goes". I have learned that it's important to allow our loved ones to say goodbye and in return say goodbye to them. I did not know Lee for a long time in relative terms; however I did get to know him well enough to know that he is true to his convictions. A proud man, that has come to grips with his own mortality. He has always been kind and seemed to always enjoy life. I will remember diner at Outback and breakfast the following day at Cracker Barrel with Lee and the rest of the family because it allowed me to spend time with a wonderful person and "say goodbye" to someone who means very much to his family.

If I had to say one thing about Lee it would be that he is handling his impending death with grace and his family is handling it with compassion and love. Lee loves the American Eagle; the grace in which an eagle soars, proud and powerful and that is how Lee is choosing to live out the rest of his life . When Lee is gone we will all miss him, but we will never forget him and how he touched our lives.

Goodbye Lee, go, soar and be free...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poor decisions have consequences...

Good decision making is an essential skill for career success generally, and effective leadership particularly. If you can learn to make timely and well-considered decisions, then you can often lead your organization to spectacular and well-deserved success. Decisions should always be made with the best interests of the company, organization or employer that you happen to be working for. Decisions based on personal gain will almost always lead to a dismal conclusion. The best decision is one that leads to success for your employer as well as yourself. It may be that the personal gains are delayed longer than if they were considered first, but the results of self control will be evident because your career will soar. However, if you just plain make poor decisions, your organization risks failure, financial damage, and your time as a leader will, most likely, be brutally short. This is probably why we see such short tenures today in the management ranks. SAD!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Retaining & attracting quality knowledge workers.

The elimination of corporate stumbling blocks and bureaucratic red tape in the work place must occur to retain and attract today's knowledge worker. Today these highly skilled workers not only require but expect certain items will be provided or permitted in the work place. For example, IM, e-mail, mobile devices (laptops and PDAs), and a flexible work schedule, to name just a few. In addition to these human needs the knowledge workers want to participate; however this cannot be mandated or so structured that they are discouraged from doing so. All of the turf wars and defending responsibilities need to be made more flexible; while maintaining accountability. Here in lies the challenge.

Matrix management may well be a way of making this happen; where when a "wall" is identified steps must be taken immediately to eliminate the wall or at the very least put a door in it. You certainly don't want to "formalize" any of these processes otherwise you are simply creating new bureaucracy,

The corporate cultural metamorphosis starts at the top, the ivory tower, the corner office, the Boss. Someone with the clout and authority to make the changes needed in an organization all drawn up in unproductive bureaucracy. Someone, a leader, to eliminate the silo mentality and embrace innovation. Process innovation requires open debate about many "wrong" ideas. Complex process redesign starts with a great deal of chaos and many early "mistakes" in order to avoid late-stage errors. The "authority to be wrong at the beginning," must flow from and consistently be reinforced by the leadership of the company.

Bureaucracies tend to shield individuals from intense conflict through rules, policies, and the diffused responsibility that characterizes committee deliberations of conflicts that are not readily settled through the application of policy. Discomfort with conflict runs higher in bureaucracies for this reason. Therefore, team leaders need to learn facilitation skills in order to make people more comfortable resolving conflicts in team settings.

Less hierarchical layering reduces the risk-exposure of competent middle mangers (thus enabling them to innovate) to the extent that their ideas can be expressed more directly – through fewer “layers” that might involve filtering or inadvertent distortion. Misunderstandings can be corrected more readily in a less-layered, less hierarchical organization.

This is a way for the corporate leadership to reduce risk associated with true innovation. Silos, sandboxes, and the "separation of duties" excuse, need to be addressed in any modern organization to allow innovation to flourish. The other option is to ignore it and hope it goes away or gets better on its own. We all know where that leads; to the hiring of recruiters to replace all of those innovative individuals that will leave due to mass frustration.


Moshe Rubinstein of UCLA

Sam Kogan, GEN3 Partners, Inc