Showing posts from October, 2006

What's Your Motto?

Curt Rosengren, at The Occupational Adventure, has this entry about a contest going on at Motto Magazine, where you are being asked:

"What's your motto?"

The dictionary says that a motto (from the Latin mot = word) is a sentence, phrase, or word expressing the spirit, purpose, or guiding principle of a person or organization.

Mine is a saying that my mother was fond of:

~ Life is what you make it.

What's your motto?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/31/06

OD, IT, and Change

Senior IT executive and Texas-based blogger Michael Schaffner, at Communicate Execute Adapt, has an entry called Mastering the Three Worlds of IT where he says:

"The truth is that technology implementation is really communication, process redesign, organizational development, training and employee and management involvement at all levels both inside and outside of IT plus IT installing the software."

Amen, Brother!

It reminds me of my days at Teleport Communications Group (aka Teleport or TCG) where the CEO used to say that the two things that kept him up at night were "people and systems." And he understood that the two were inextricably related.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/30/06

Large Scale Change

The Mass Bay OD Learning Group has another intriguing question posted at their blog:

When are large group interventions called for?

Interesting question. I'd say: Use a large group intervention when the scale you are working on is large and complex. For example, when you are attempting to change the entire system.

A few years ago, I was part of the team that was working on the redesign of our parish organization. Since we were trying to address the entire system, we brought a large group of parishioners together in a meeting in the school cafeteria for a day-long visioning session.

Using facilitators, small group breakouts, and structured discussions, we were able to gather the wisdom of the large group, compile it all into a working document, and create parish-wide excitement about change.

The other night at the PRODN meeting, guest and OD legend Marv Weisbord was asked by moderator Michael Broom, "What do you think you will be most remembered for?"

Marv gave several answers…

Seashore and Weisbord: Two Legends of OD

Edie Seashore and Marv Weisbord, two living legends in the field of Organization Development, appeared tonight in a special program of the Philadelphia Regional OD Network (PRODN) on the PCOM campus, off City Avenue (aka Rt. 1) in the City of Brotherly Love.

In a two hour conversation, moderated by Michael Broom, Edie and Marv reflected on the beginnings and the evolution of the OD field, through the prism of their own journeys.

Here are some of my fragmented notes:

Edie: John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, group dynamics, social change, sexism, civil rights movement, Dick Beckhard, NTL, Warren Bennis, Ken Benne, Charles Seashore, triple impact coaching, and experiential learning.

Marv: T-Groups, McGregor, Theory X and Y, dignity, community, self-managing teams, action research, productive workplaces, the six boxes model, Future Search, and "Get the whole system in the room."

As I listened to Edie and Marv, I was reminded of my own journey as an OD practitioner, and the many teachers I have …

Shared Table, Shared Lives

Astha invited me the other day to comment on her blog entry about office space, teamwork, and organization development. Much appreciated!

When we go to work, we share a space and a lunch table with co-workers, but we share so much more with the people at work. More than we know.

Many years ago, I was once suddenly "let go" by an employer. I heard later from some former co-workers that they felt very strong emotions as a result of that termination:

"It was like a drive-by shooting."

"I felt like a member of my family had died."

Though we do not know these co-workers as well as we know our family, relatives or our close friends, nevertheless we are still bound up with them in a relationship that can be very long-lasting.

This Summer, I hosted a back-yard barbecue for some co-workers that I had not seen in twenty years. Though we had all moved on and had other experiences at other companies, when we gathered in my yard it was like old times.

What is it that we shar…

“What You Are, Be Good At It.”

Don't you love fortune cookies? Who invented them? I'd love to send a thank you note.

In his daily dispatch from the national Organization Development Network conference in San Francisco, Matt Minahan wrote that one of the keynote speakers spoke about a message he received in a fortune cookie:

“What you are, be good at it.”

Talk about a profound truth. It's difficult though. I wonder how many of us truly figure out what we are?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/24/06

HR At the Table

For years, many observers of HR have discussed what it would take for HR to "get a seat at the table" with the Big Boys, i.e. the CEO, the CFO, the head of Sales & Marketing, the head of Operations/Manufacturing, etc.

In last week's HR meeting, the presenter Greg Taylor had a compelling answer: It's about strategic decision making.

Just as the CFO is at the table to help the CEO make strategic financial decisions, and the head of Sales & Marketing is there to help make strategic product and service decisions, the head of HR needs to help make strategic human capital management decisions.

Hmmm. Is that what HR people say that they are good at?

Not according to a survey by Sunil J. Ramlall of the Department of Management at Minnesota's University of St. Thomas and summarized in the May/June 2006 issue of Performance Improvement journal.

108 HR generalists, specialists, managers, directors and vice presidents said that they were good at things like:

- delivery of …

Disney HR Quiz

Q. Which of the following job categories receives more training dollars at Disney World?

- Characters (Micket, Minnie, Chip, Dale, etc.)

- Customer Service employees

- Maintenance employees such as sweepers

- Security employees

A. Sweepers

Sweepers??? Well, according to Greg Taylor of Lee Hecht Harrison, who was the featured speaker this morning at an HR meeting in Parsippany, NJ, it is the theme park sweepers who not only keep the parks immaculately clean, but who also advise guests on the best places to take a cranky child or to change an infant's diaper.

Taylor pointed out that: "One often hears patrons say, “I couldn’t believe how knowledgeable and friendly the groundskeeper was. S/he was eager to answer our question, and was very well informed. Even though it wasn’t part of their job, they took the time to really help us.” In fact, such helping is a key part of the job of “sweepers” at Disney."

This example was offered in a talk about how HR and Training can operate more st…

Welcome AI Annotations!

I am pleased to pass along the announcement, circulated this morning on the ODNET listserv, on the arrival of a new blog, Appreciative Inquiry Annotations.

Here's a part of Loretta Donovan's e-mail:

"Dear Friends, I am excited to share some important news with the OD community. During the summer, some members of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting came together to conceptualize and plan a blog. Appreciative Inquiry Annotations is the work of Sandy Wells, Roberta Peirick, Roz Kay, Tony Silbert, Loretta Randolph, Susan Donnan and yours truly. AI Annotations is a place to create a conversation - an exchange of ideas and practices - among the co-owners of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting and with others who are on the journey of exploration and collective understanding of Appreciative Inquiry. Everyone has access to the blog and can add to the comments. "

This is good news for all of those who have an interest in learning, change, organizations, and improving our world.

For more …

Beer and Ideas

At a site called Beer & Ideas, there is a video of Sir Ken Robinson at TED, talking about creativity and the future. Very entertaining and important.

The "beer and ideas" has triggered a fond memory. It reminds me of an undergraduate communication theory course, taught by Dave Davidson, circa 1975-77, where we would meet for class at the Olde Queens Tavern on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick, one of the most venerated watering holes on the Rutgers campus.

At the back corner table, in the dim light, with Dave's pipe smoke forming a haze over us, we would demolish pitchers of beer and slices of pizza, all the while exploring and generating ideas on ways to communicate more effectively in the world.

Blogs were still many years off in the future.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/16/06

How to Help Millions

Jack Ricchiuto, author of Collaborative Creativity, has a blog, Jack/Zen, where he has an entry about the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus whose economic innovation, micro-credit, has helped millions of poor people (mostly women) to start small businesses.

Now that is an example of how business can benefit people.

Here is a conference on that same topic, BAWB, for Business as an Agent of World Benefit: Management Knowledge Leading Positive Change
October 22-25, 2006

A forum will be held October 22nd-25th at Case Western Reserve University and online uniting top business leaders and educators to focus on ways of doing business that are both profitable and succeed in addressing the world’s most pressing social needs.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/14/06

Results Only Work Environments

What would a "results only work environment" (aka ROWE) look like?

Best Buy is trying to find out, at their corporate hq. Check it out. Is this really a "radical experiment to reshape the corporate workplace?"

From what I have read, it sounds like it just may be. Instead of an organization of miserable boss-dodging cubicle dwellers watching the clock until their shift is over, ROWE employees are able to determine how, when, and where they will get their work done.

Sign me up!

Addendum: Looks like Max is excited by this too.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/13/06

Something You Do In Your Room

With millions of bloggers in the blogosphere, there are those who still wonder "What the heck is a blogger anyway and why would you want to be one?"

Photographer and blogger Bruce DeBoer , who has a nice writing style, offers a good definition of blogging:

Blogs [or “web logs” said fast 20 times] are small websites with a common format. The participants are either authors (posters) or visitors (commentators). Authors rant – visitors respond, it’s a simple format. Imbedded in the blog are links to other blogs made through footnote-like connections, lists of the Author’s favorite bloggers, or a link credited to the responder. Through these links, dedicated blog-aholics can build a web substantial enough to snag large enterprises.

I love the name of his blog: Permission to Suck. That may sound crude or awful to some sensitive ears, but what Bruce is getting at is the fearlessness and freedom to fail that creativity depends upon.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/12/06

Can You Train People to Be Innovative?

Jeffrey Philips, at Innovate On Purpose, asks "Can you train someone to be innovative?"

He thinks you can (and I agree) and offers some good advice on how to go about doing it, including making sure that the culture of the organization will support experimentation, risk taking, and failure.

Training people to innovate works best, I believe, if you train a bunch of people all at once. More precisely, if you train an intact team or organization.This way, all of the people have a shared experience that they all take back with them to their workplace.

Many years ago, when I was Training Manager in a science-based organization, we did just that. And it helped fuel a significant increase in innovation, as measured by the number of new product ideas entering the commercialization pipeline.

Interestingly, one of the external consultants that helped us was Roger von Oech.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/10/06


Over at the Babson Knowledge Management blog, Don Cohen has an interesting piece he calls "One Way to Stifle Creativity," but it is really an entry about disobedience.

Generally, society frowns on disobedience. Disobedience threatens order and authority.

But Don shows us how disobedience can lead to innovations and breakthroughs. He recalls a story from the early days of Hewlett-Packard:

David Packard responded to an engineer who had disregarded an order to stop working on technology that turned into a successful product by calling a meeting of engineers and presenting him with a medal for “extraordinary contempt and defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty.”

Hmmm. It seems that disobedience can lead to organizational renewal. A paradox?

How do we (in HR, OD, and leadership development) help build organizational cultures that do not stifle bootlegging, skunk works, and other forms of healthy "contempt and defiance?"

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/04/06

Boost Your RBI

In baseball, your RBI (Runs Batted In) is an important thing. If I get a hit, I can boost the score by driving another player home.

I recently learned, via Mike Sansone, that RBI is an important aspect of blogging too.

For Mike, it means Relationship Building Intentionally and it's about using your blog to "build solid, long-lasting relationships."

Interesting. Since starting to blog several years ago, I have "met" some very cool people from all around the world, including Gautam Ghosh, Regina Miller, Jim Murphy, Astha Parmar, Phil Gerbyshak, Lisa Haneberg, Rosa Say, Dick Richards, Arun Verma, Nimmy, Starbucker, Alexandra Graßler, and many more. (Don Blohowiak, a fellow New Jerseyan, is one I already knew before I started blogging.)

It's too soon to say whether any of these will be "solid and long-lasting," but I am enjoying the exchanges and hope for more.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/02/06

More on the ROI of Blogging

The other day, a headhunter was interviewing me and asked me about my blog. He wanted to know why I had one. In answering, I told him about the experience I had a few months back with a group of senior HR people who thought I was crazy for blogging and tried to discourage me. I was dismayed by their negativity, but I was not dissuaded.

The headhunter's comment was, "Terry, You're an interesting guy."

Via Maria Palma's blog, I found Tom Vander Well's piece on the ROI of Blogging where he makes several good points about the value of blogging:

- Blogging extends your reach
- Blogging increases your findability
- Blogging boosts your RBI (relationship buildng intentionality)

What motivates me to blog?

- It's a way to express my thoughts on topics of interest to me.
- It's a way of connecting with people globally.
- It's a marketing tool.
- It's free.
- I like to write.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/01/06