Showing posts from September, 2005
Sock It To Me

As the corporate year begins to wind down, I look forward to the annual performance appraisal where my boss tells me what he thinks of me: how I did, what my strengths are, my weaknesses, and whether I'll be getting a raise or not.

If you believe the above, I have a bridge to sell you.

There are a lot of problems with performance review as it is typically done in corporate America: top-down, forced-fit, controlling, non-negotiable.

The great W. Edwards Deming wrote that evaluation of performance, merit ratings, and annual reviews of employee performance comprise the third of his "Seven Deadly Diseases" of management. Why? Because there is often a conflict between these practices and the values of Quality.

The values of Quality that Deming cared so much about include:
- customer focus
- systems thinking
- teamwork
- process improvement
- and fact-based decision making using measurement

One more value that Deming was passionate about involves how employees are treated.…
Internal Disarmament

Yesterday morning, in the football stadium at Rutgers University, the Dalai Lama spoke to a huge and appreciative crowd about peace, war and reconciliation. It was a good message that all people need to hear...and heed.

In part, the Buddhist sage said that attaining true peace in the world depends upon "internal disarmament," where we work to become more aware of our own emotional reactions to other people and thereby gain greater control over negatives like hatred and anger.

It is not a quick fix. The Dalai Lama said that if we start now in earnest, educating the children in the ways of peace, we may attain this goal in a century or so.

We won't be alive to see the fruits of this effort, but this is noble labor.

Showing Your Stuff

A friend of mine named Loren, a retired IT guy who teaches Judaism at a religious school in New Jersey, had a show of his photos last night at a cafe in Chatham .

Photography is something he likes to do and he has an eye for things, whether nature or cityscapes.

Loren is "showing his stuff." And why not?

Posted by Terrence Seamon
Hi, We're from Corporate And We Are Here to Help

There's an old Borscht Belt line that says, "Don't pee on my shoe and tell me it's raining."

Sometimes you feel that way in the business world when people from Corporate Headquarters come to town.

In my career, I have sometimes been the Guy from Corporate who flys into town to visit the remote business units. Sometimes you are there to listen and to learn, but more often than not, you are there to implement some dictate from the Top. The folks at the local site can smell you a mile away. They know that you have come to town for a reason...and they suspect that they may not like it.

Currently I am based inside a remote business unit, hundreds of miles away from Corporate Headquarters. The other day some visitors from Corporate came to town and asked, "What can we do to help you?"

Naturally, your first thought is to say "Go home"...but you don't say it. Wouldn't want to insult people f…
Dissociative Leadership

I don't really know what to call this.

In an AP story about the Supreme Court hearings, nominee John Roberts (who is Catholic) said that his religious beliefs will not intefere with his ability to judge the law. Here's an exerpt from the news report:

"Over and over, he assured lawmakers his rulings would be guided by his understanding of the facts of cases, the law and the Constitution, not by his personal views.

"My faith and my religious beliefs do not play a role," added Roberts, who is Catholic.

"I will be my own man," he said later."

Does this bother anybody else but me? How can a person dissociate himself from his faith?

Isn't faith a deep and integral part of the Self? A moral compass that guides a person toward a spiritual north? A foundation for living in peace with others?

I know that Roberts is not the first Catholic in public political life who has dissociated his faith. Mario Cuomo and JF Kennedy preceded him.

Planners and Operators

Generally speaking, planning is a good thing. Especially when it prepares you to deal with stuff that happens. Like a hurricane.

Listening to a report about Hurricane Katrina on npr the other day, I was impressed by how much advance planning had taken place.

So, with all the modeling and conferences, what happened? Trouble is not the planning. Rather, it's the planners and the operators.

The planners make the plans. The operators follow the plans. Makes sense, right? In theory yes. In actual practice, it can fall apart. For example, the planners plan based on assumptions. The operators cope with actual realities.

Many years ago, when I first entered the OD field, we used to run a little exercise in the management development programs we did for our clients, called "Planners and Operators."

In this exercise, there was a task to acomplish. The group of trainees was divided into two teams, a team of planners, and a team of operators. The planners…
Bringing Up Baby

The other day, at trdev, there was a discussion of how best to criticize someone else's ideas.

I pointed out that ideas are like babies. When it's my idea, it's my baby and I want everyone to "oo and ah" over it. Even more, I want everyone to love it and smooch it.

When someone criticizes or over-rides my idea, watch out. "Hey that's my baby, pal."

This is something that more and more of us face these days as we find ourselves thinking for a living (which incidentally is the title of Tom Davenport's new book on knowledge management).

Another trdev poster added that we are touchy about criticism of our ideas because "people are conditioned to taking sides, so any balanced appraisal is seen as an attack." He went on to ask, what sorts of strategies can we use to "avoid being viewed as a hater" when all you are attempting to do is respond honestly and logically to another person's idea?

For starters, we need …
Emergent Organizations

A few months back, Gautam Ghosh had a posting about emergent organizations where he mused about film crews. He (and several other who added comments) wondered if film crews represent a form of organizing (i.e. emergent, temporary, self-organizing) that we will see more of in the future.

I would think so. Having smaller and more variable organizational structures seems advantageous in today's business world.

As a movie buff, film crews are interesting to me. In addition to being temporary organizations, film crews are also comprised of technicians and experts from many crafts (e.g. carpentry, costuming, lighting, make-up, hair dressing, cinematography, etc.), all ready to do their thing. They are highly motivated people. Their goal is to make a movie. What they need is direction.

An interesting case study in this area is a recent film called Lost in La Mancha, about director Terry Gilliam's doomed effort to make a movie about Don Quixote.

The film crew…

Love In Action

The sheer enormity of the Hurricane Katrina story is overwhelming to me:

- the devastation that it wreaked on New Orleans and its people

- the multi-level failure of emergency preparedness to respond to the storm and its aftermath

- the task of clean-up and rebuilding

Where does one begin?

Here at St. Matthias, my church in New Jersey, we have chosen a way to begin, a way to help. We are reaching out to Epiphany, a church and parish in New Orleans, that was heavily damaged by the storm. We are sending them aid now, and are offering to go down there, at the appropriate time, to help in the restoration.

Although it's only a small scale effort, it feels like the right thing to do.

If enough churches and other organizations did something like this, a small scale effort could become a large scale effort.
It's All About Talent

In this change-filled era of outsourcing, off-shoring, and rightsizing, many in HR and OD are groping toward a sense of identity and purpose. Although there are many stakeholders to satisfy, there is a clear trail of bread-crumbs to follow. In a nutshell, it's all about talent.

The Top Dog (TD), whether he or she realizes it or not, needs a flow of Talent into the organization in order to be successful. Who will design and own the process to attract and hire this Talent?

The Managers need to utilize and develop that Talent continuously in order to deliver the results they are accountable for. Who will design and own the processes to support managerial effectiveness?

The Talent (i.e. the Employees) need to perform and deliver on what is expected of them. They do so by applying their skills to their tasks, and by acquiring other skills along the way. Who will design and own the processes for performance management and employee development?

Is there a clear …