Communication Series - Self Preparation

4:27 PM

Introduction to the AM Communication Series of Articles. We have in our queue essential actionable practices for optimizing your daily worklife...and your lifelong professional career. In preparation for this Series, we must take our own medicine, so to speak, because we believe "Communication is what the listener does" (1).

Self Preparation for communication is not script-writing your message, it is examining if we are ready to be communicated with. Simply absorbing facts, be they written, verbal, non-verbal, thematic, pictoral or environmental, and formulating a response is not nearly sufficient. After all we are fallible Humans.

We subject ourselves to a battery of filters, shape shifters and peculiar lenses to take in information. These obstacles can create a different reality than the real reality. Ask yourself the next time someone cuts you off in traffic what your immediate feelings are. Then script a response consistent with that reaction. We must know ourselves and our particular tendencies to color the information we take in with all that we have experienced.

The first easy Step in Preparation is to acknowledge intellectually that we cannot absorb pure information. Its just not possible. Once one can have this self knowledge as a baseline of listening, it is surprising that our intake is measureably clearer than before the acknowledgement. Self Deception is our first obstacle and it is simple to recognize and therefor reduce its power. In other words dont deceive yourself into thinking the information you absorb is free from your attitude and emotions effects. Those filters are information shape shifters. We must practice understanding that we effect our understanding of incoming messages.

Recognizing may appear to be only a partial action at best, but in this case it serves to begin to purify our information from our own influences (read that as contaminants).

Tomorrow, listen to what your mind says to you when someone directs a message. You will be surprised what a useful tool this is in preparing to listen.

(1) Drucker Through Horstmann

Stop Complaining

7:18 PM

If you want inside information on how "that other Manager" got a promotion, or a perk or even a lunch with the Boss, stop complaining. Complaining is not only a vivid advertisement of a bad attitude, it also provides anyone looking for a way to ignore you, the perfect justifier.

Look, verbalizing a complaint isnt the only thing observed as the same thing, your facial expression, (eyes rolling), your body language (arms folded) and even the way you carry yourself expresses this negative obstacle that people read easily. Its also contagious and Managers and Executives know it boosts more complainers in a silent, unproductive but swift manner.

Read the book..."Leadership and Self-Deception" (Arbinger) to learn whats really going on and how career deadly this attitude can be.

This fragile employment market is providing "at will" employers with a hair trigger for cutting anything that smells negative or has the possibility of smelling that way. If you do it, stop it.

A new Business Development Strategy

4:27 PM

Business Owners, Executives and High Level Managers are finding new life, revenue and profits in this economy by employing subordinate relationships where this strategy was previously thought unnecessary. Networking the people you trust below you on your Organizational Chart can yield new revenue sources and available Client bases.

We have a Construction Management (CM) Client who held this kind of connecting as off limits, until they took our advice to give incentives to Non–Marketing Managers, which brought in solid Projects and Contracts. One Manager had a Designer relationship and uncovered a large public project in the development stage which was in limbo on how to deliver it by a Facilities Director. This Designer relationship with the CM’s Manager was key in providing a solution to the Facilities Director and building trust enough to win the contract and a future repeat Client as well. While this kind of Marketing can be unpredictable, the approach requires a careful placement of incentives to drive accountability internally. Many Organizations are uncovering talents and resources previously hidden due to compartmentalizing subordinate managers into a single skill dimension. We continue to address a common unintentional restriction of multi-dimensional minds into a single dimensional job description. When Executive Management opens a door of opportunity to release a talent of proven performers, the payoff comes in many levels.

Peers of such Managers will recognize the trend and be highly motivated by the examples and results attained by those who achieve success delivering for their Organization in a new role…even part-time or temporarily. This positive reaction also creates an atmosphere of initiative when made visible in a strategic way within the Organization itself.

Strategic Planning – Four Fatal Flaws to Avoid:

6:34 AM

Strategy execution is drawing a lot of attention these days, but that in no way means organizations have abandoned their time-tested strategic planning processes. Here are four fatal flaws that consistently creep into strategic planning processes that, if avoided, can significantly improve both the process and the results.

Skipping Rigorous Analysis... Many managers believe their business experience and knowledge base alone equips them with all the information they need to conduct effective strategic planning. This belief serves only to undermine the kind of critical thinking from which truly creative strategies are born. A good strategic planning process takes full advantage of the numerous tools of strategic analysis — such as the five forces model, strategic group maps, or the value chain — to gain key insights regarding how the industry is evolving, how competitors are changing positions, and where an individual firm's sources of competitive advantage lie.
Sound Strategy Can Be Built In A Day... Many executive teams earnestly believe that effective strategies can be identified, explored, and agreed upon during abbreviated offsite meetings where the main driver of the agenda is the timing of snack breaks. While offsite meetings are useful forums in which to share information and address key issues, meetings should be adequately timed — over days or weeks if necessary — so that sufficient preparation and review and discussion can occur before and during the event.
Failing to Link Strategic Planning with Strategic Execution... According to a recent survey by the Conference Board, execution overall and strategy execution in particular hold the first and second positions when it comes to "top issues" in executive's minds. It's no wonder — executing strategy requires the work of the entire organization, whereas strategic planning only requires the top team.
Dodging Strategy Review Meetings... Strategic plans quickly become obsolete when there is no activity in place to keep them alive. Worse, managers sometimes feel freed from execution accountability when reviews are continually rescheduled or dropped from the calendar altogether. The most direct way to maintain a consistent focus on strategy is to schedule and hold regular strategy review meetings. At the end of the strategic plan formulation, managers should establish a strategic governance process where strategy review meetings — whether they are monthly or quarterly — are scheduled a year in advance.
By Ed Barrows from Harvard Business Review 3/16/09.

Smart Leadership Demands Creativity

6:27 AM

In today's innovation-driven economy, understanding how to generate great ideas is an urgent managerial priority. And that calls for major doses of creativity. But many leaders assume creativity is too elusive and intangible to be managed. It's true that you can't manage creativity. But you can manage for creativity, say innovation leaders and experts who participated in a 2008 Harvard Business School colloquium. Among their recommendations for fostering the conditions in which creativity flourishes:

A)-Stop thinking of yourself as the wellspring of ideas that employees execute. Instead, elicit and champion others' ideas.
B)-Open your organization to diverse perspectives--by getting people of different disciplines, backgrounds, and areas of expertise to share their thinking.
C)-Know when to impose controls on the creative process (such as during the production phase) and when not to (during early-design phase).

First Things...Consultants

9:49 PM

Our Philosophy on Management Consultants (MC) is that they, in large measure, lean toward over complicating their delivery of changes, processes and strategies. There exists now a fair number (although a minority) of MC's that are focused on creating the shortest path to increasing results (read that as "profitable results for the Client").

Should you as an Executive or Manager have an occasion or mandate to search and hire an MC for targeted counseling, strategy, process or change management, consideration should be given first to those inside your organization who may possess insight in that targeted area. The reasons we suggest this are self-evident. Another avenue to investigate are the networks and relationships of Management level people inside your company who may connect you with precisely the correct outside resource needed for that task. If you find this may be the case, getting such a party familiar with the issues to be untangled or improved will be far quicker given the relationship existing.

It is also highly effective to research proven MC's who are published and already have massive market validation ( think: "Peter Drucker must have solved this before") and do some reading on the territory already trampled, shorten your organizations learning curve and expense while expanding your mind concurrently.


9:44 PM

The objective here, is to deliver corporate, organizational and entrepreneurial Management practices that produce high performance results. (How's that for a 15 second commercial?)

Having done many things right and wrong on multiple occasions over a career span of decades, the coverage on this site will be comprehensive. Current Best Practices/Innovations from Job Searching to Legacy Succession shall be covered while providing exhaustive resources and validation.

Keep this blog on your Feed Reader for best results.