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Showing posts from 2008

Happy New Year!

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What will 2009 bring?

Will there be more economic suffering? Seems likely.

Terry The Training Wizard (an award I was given many years ago), in the photo to the left, holds a little blue crystal ball. Although one would gaze into such a ball to see glimpses of the future, I will offer a few wishes for 2009 instead:

- that job hunters find work

- that college graduates find jobs

- that small business owners find customers that have cash to spend

- that our new president translates his campaign of hope into true changes on the ground

- that the hungry find food

- that the fast slow down

- that those with much share with those with less

- that those making war on their neighbor stop

Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares;
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation;
And never again will they train for war
. (Micah 4:3)

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 31, 2008

Change Happy

Thanks to my friend Loretta Donovan's posting on Facebook, I found Surinder Kahai's blog entry New Year Resolution: Be Happy at the Leading Virtually blog.

In this meditation on happiness, Kahai comes to an interesting insight:

~ "In our society we tend to think of happiness as an effect instead of a cause, but happiness as a cause is one of the oldest notions in religion and philosophy. We have simply forgotten the powerful impact of a positive mindset. What does all this mean at a practical level? Make a note of what what you would like to change. Also, figure out ways to be happy. Considering change from a mindset of happiness will help you think of possibilities that you not thought of before. You will think of creative goals and creative ways to change yourself. When you are happy, you are also likely to recommit yourself every day to achieving your goals and making change."

So, in a nutshell, happiness can drive change.

Seems like it's not too far off from …

Loving Kindness

What the world needs now is love. Beautiful Jackie DeShannon on Shindig, singing Burt Bacharach's timeless classic song.

Enjoy.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 24, 2008

Meet Me in Ten Slides

Using Google Docs, I have created a little marketing presentation.

Santa Is Real

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San Diego-based management consultant, and president of The KindExcellence Institute, Reut Schwartz-Hebron has asked some great questions on LinkedIn, many of which I have tried to answer. She has two going right now on the nature of truth, myth and Santa.

Let's start with Santa, then move on to myths.

The whole "Santa is real/Santa isn't real" rite of passage in our culture is part of the coming-of-age process that kids must go through.

Having gone through it, I still believe in Santa...whoever the heck he is.

The curious thing about Santa is that he may be a lot older than we think. Some scholars have traced him back to Yule and his great flying hunting party. Others suggest that Santa originated in mushroom (amanita muscaria) popping shamans in prehistoric Siberia and elsewhere, long before today's religions came along. Under the influence of hallucinogens, these proto Santas would "take flight" and experience a state of joyful ecstasy.

This meditation…

Spirit and Business

Arizona-based coach and HR trainer JP Stein has an interesting research project.

She wants to know "how spiritual principles are actually practiced on the job. What do people actually do? I'm trying to determine if there is a disconnect between what they do in their personal lives and what they do at work. What suggestions do you have regarding how to bridge that gap?"

I am attracted to this question because I am interested in the connection between our spiritual life and our work life.

I think that for most people there is a disconnect, and they leave their spiritual self at the door when they show up for work. This is one of the causes, I'm afraid, of much dissatisfaction with work, as well as unhappiness.

Here are four ideas for bridging the gap and reclaiming the spiritual side of work.

One way to begin to bridge the gap is to recognize that, no matter where we are --whether at home, at work, at play, at church, or at school-- we are spiritual beings, just as much…

Change Management for Hard Times

Wall Street has faltered; the car makers are teetering. Food banks have empty shelves. Many thousands (myself included) have lost their jobs.

These are hard times indeed. Maybe not as hard as the Great Depression. But tough anyway.

Though the price of gasoline has dropped (thank God!), who can afford to go anywhere? The cost of living (especially in NJ) is still high. College costs (which I am intimately familiar with, having two sons at Rutgers) are soaring.

So . . . Here we are. Now what?

With the focus on the individual, here's my two cents:

1. Turn problems into opportunities - Attitude. It's all in how you look at it. One man's glass-half-empty, is another's glass-half-full. Every problem has within it a silver lining of opportunity, waiting to be exploited.

2. Be the solution - Gandhi once said, Be the change. In this economy, you need to be the solution. How will you help the organization ride out the storm? How will you help it survive and prosper?

3. Reach out to…

E Power

Legendary CEO Jack Welch is known for a number of his management concepts and practices, including the 4 E Model that talks about several key aspects of leaders:

Energy - Leaders have high energy
Energizers - Leaders know how to energize others to perform
Edge - Leaders have a competitive edge
Execute - Leaders can get stuff done

Interestingly, another E, engaging people, is not there. Maybe it's "in there" somewhere, perhaps under Energizers. But it's not on the top.

So if we were to fashion a leadership model, based on the power of engagement, what might it look like?

For me, the Engaging Manager is a leader who:

~ Educates and informs by openly sharing information about the business

~ Enables others to perform by training, coaching, and positive feedback

~ Excites others with possibilities about the future

~ Energizes others to take on challenges

~ Expresses genuine interest in each individual team member

~ Expresses sincere gratitude for the best efforts and contributions oth…

The Generosity of Bloggers

Texas-based consultant and engagement blogger Tim Wright has generously featured one of my blog entries at his blog, Culture to Engage.

Thanks, Tim, for the spotlight.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 19, 2008

Training's Effectiveness

Today I was in a meeting with a client, talking about training. It felt like deja vu all over again. For over 25 years, I've heard clients talk about how expensive (in time and money) training is, and how you never seem to know whether it did anything good for the organization.

Today, T&D blogger Don "Big Dog" Clark has hit the ball out of the park with his entry about Donald Kirkpatrick's legendary 4-levels of training evaluation.

Years ago, Kirkpatrick had a breakthrough when he coined the four levels for evaluating a training program:

Level 1 - Reaction to the training program, often using what many derisively call "smile sheets." Despite the criticism, Kirkpatrick has stood by the value of level one evals. These are customer surveys.

Level 2 - Learning: What did the trainees learn? How much did they learn? Typically level two is measured by some sort of testing.

Level 3 - Performance: Can the trainees perform the learned skills back on the job?

Level 4…

Greta on CNN Layoffs

Fox News broadcaster Greta Van Susteren has blasted CNN at her website, for a mass layoff just before the Christmas holiday:

~ "They did it again! CNN fires people just in time for Christmas! Make you sick? People often ask why I left CNN. I didn’t like mean spirited selfish management that, despite not doing its job of efficiently running the company, lines it pockets. And then the topper? Because the management didn’t run the company well, CNN fires loyal people to meet some bottom line the management failed to meet."

You go, girl. Blast away!

Then Greta makes this excellent point:

~ "Frankly, in these tough economic times, there was a way NOT to have this happen at CNN. Think of how many CNN families could have a much different Christmas than they are now having if CNN had stopped talking about themselves in these ridiculous multi million dollar ad campaigns."

Unfortunately, CNN is not the only employer that uses this odious practice, of year-end layoffs, at a time…

Merry Christmas

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Got That? Got It.

In a job interview recently, I was struck by the interviewers use of the statement "Got it." The interviewer said it after almost everything I said.

I guess I was communicating pretty well, eh?

Reflecting on it afterwards, I wondered what the interviewer's frequent use of "Got it" really meant? Could it have been a Type A person's display of impatience with my lengthy, story-laden, answers?

How do we know what another person is "getting" anyway when we are trying to convey something important about ourselves to them? As David Berlo once famously said, Meanings are in people. In other words, what I am intending may or may not be what the other party is getting.

The little word "get" appears to be a very old one, going way back to German roots, meaning "to obtain." And it has many and varied uses (almost 60 in Webster's) in the English language, including:

- To receive, as in to get a gift

- To reach someone over a distance, as …

OD to Obama

President-elect Barack Obama is getting a lot of input right now from many places around the world.

The other day on LinkedIn, I saw an interesting question, posed by OD consultant and executive coach Pamela Thompson Walker of Washington D.C.:

~ If the Organization Development Network were sending an open letter to President Elect Obama advising him on how to lead and implement the change he based his campaign on, what advice would you give him and why?

As an organization development guy, I'd offer Mr. Obama the following thoughts:

- You campaigned about change. People voted for you because they felt the need for change. Now be the change.

- Get the whole system in the room when addressing each change project.

- When making change, be careful not to lose what's working well.

- Remember the Change Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 11,…

How to Search

Job hunters get (and give) a lot of advice about how to find a job. Much of this advice is good. If you follow it.

But a successful searcher needs more than the typical tools. She also needs sage wisdom.

Mulla Nasruddin is a legendary Sufi character whose many comical exploits feature him doing strange or funny things that seem illogical to others, but which often point to a higher truth.

In one of his most well-known adventures, he has lost his keys somewhere in his house. So what does he do? He goes outside and starts to look under a street lamp...where, he says, the light is better.

I love such tales! They are funny because they are nonsensical. But upon further reflection, they speak a deeper truth about how we search for meaning.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 9, 2008

Contracting and Expanding

Thanks to Gaia blogger Jamie Walters, I found a piece written by New Age guru Deepak Chopra about our natural tendency to contract, like a turtle pulling its limbs into its shell, when a threat appears. We contract, retreating inwardly, and get smaller as a way to protect ourselves from danger.

Commenting on the economic catastrophe we are experiencing, Chopra offers an alternative:

~ "But as the economy contracts, we must resist our natural reflex to contract with it. Instead, we need to do the opposite. Expansion is the best way to survive any crisis. "

Expand in a crisis? That's certainly not what most companies are doing right now, as hundreds of thousands of workers are being laid off so that costs can be cut (and executive bonuses preserved).

He says:

~ "Relationship. Gratitude. Appreciation. Compassion. Mutual regard. Strong social connections. Love you can trust. I don't know why it takes a crisis to bring out those fundamental human qualities. But it often…

Wakeful Tranquility

Listening to a show about tea on the radio the other day, I learned some things. For instance, there are three types of tea: white, green, and black.

My main takeaway from the show, however, concerned the effect of tea on the tea drinker. The calming effect, known by Buddhists as "wakeful tranquility," is a state of alertness combined with relaxation.

Though the science isn't totally proven yet, it seems to be the result of the interaction between tea's chemical ingredients (including a form of caffeine and various anti-oxidants) and the specific practices of brewing the tea.

In other words, the effect depends on how you make your cup of tea. The key is to go slow. The longer you steep the tea in hot water, the more chance the chemical molecules in the leaves have to enter the drink.

The lesson: You can't rush a good cup of tea.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 7, 2008

"Cheese" Is King!

According to Time magazine, the popular business parable Who Moved My Cheese is the number one best-selling business book of all time, 22 million copies in the ten years since its publication. It is ahead of both Jim Collins' Good to Great and Tom Peters' In Search of Excellence.

I first encountered it in 1998 when Teleport was being acquired by AT&T. Since then, many a change management initiative has included the distribution, study, and discussion of this little book in the organizations affected by transition to change.

Who Moved My Cheese is now the leading example of a genre of business and management books that started with the prolific Ken Blanchard's legendary The One Minute Manager, co-written with Dr. Spencer Johnson, published in 1982. Other popular examples include The Fred Factor, The Dream Manager, Our Iceberg is Melting, Zapp! and FISH!

Congratulations to Dr. Spencer Johnson who authored "Cheese," a brief yet memorable tale of mice who are unex…

Do You TAZ?

One thing that was so great (at least to me) about studying Human Communication as an undergrad (Rutgers 1973-77) was the cool stuff we were exposed to, such as Karl Weick's concept of sensemaking, an idea I have been pondering ever since.

Fast forward, now my sons are studying Communication at Rutgers, and I love hearing about what they are learning. For example, my son Dave has told me about Hakim Bey's concept of "temporary autonomous zones." Dave says:

~ Places where a new social context is created by its participants. These zones are devoid of social control, outside the influence of regular society. Should the place be named, or its presence become publically known, the autonomous zone quickly disappears. It can later reappear under different conditions determined by its participants.

Think of a criminal hideout such as a pirate's den on some uncharted islands.

If you take out the aspect of deviance or illegal activity, you could say that that there are many f…

Be A Start-Up

Blogger Chris Spagnuolo, at EdgeHopper, has a great entry called "Act Like A Start-up," where he talks about the corporate culture of a start-up company:

~ "Vision, focused vision. Energy, lots of energy. Small teams. No rules. The Beginner’s Mind. The Art of the Possible."

I love it! That's the way it was at Teleport, a feisty local phone company where I worked back in the 90's. We were hungry. Action-oriented. Fearless.

Then Spagnuolo asks, Can an established company act like a start-up? This is a vital question. And not just because a company may need new products. But, even more importantly in today's difficult economy, to survive.

There are significant barriers facing an established company that is entertaining the thought of acting like a start-up, including:

- "that's not how we do things here"

- "we already tried that and it did not work for us"

There are many excuses for stepping back from the edge. Most come down to fear.

Two …

Sticky Downsizing

These are very trying times for business organizations and their members.

I was downsized a month ago. In the past four weeks, I have had half a dozen new product ideas for my former employer. Having no voice there anymore, there is no channel (other than my informal contacts that still work there) for bringing them forward.

So these ideas will go unheard. Ideas that could help that organization, as well as help me.

Unfortunately, the way that downsizing is traditionally conducted, there's no channel for the ex-employee to contribute. The way it's done today, you are told to leave the building. You are not to come back. You can't get your severance unless you sign a several page document where you promise not to sue. A chilly wall comes down between you and the organization.

So...Imagine if, instead of this stone-cold downsizing, there was another way . . .

A way where an employer could get smaller and thereby save costs, but where the people who are being shed are somehow sti…

Wanted: Change Manager

I often read job ads for titles such as:

- Process Change Manager
- Implementation Change Manager
- Change Control Manager
- Configuration Change Manager
- Project Change Manager

The common theme? All are change managers.

Regardless of function or level, all managers today are change managers to one degree or another. My advice: If you don't like change, don't enter the field of management.

I think we are well into the 21st century era of management. And its chief characteristic? Change.

Everything is changing. Technology, globalization, diversity. All changing at the same time. Accelerating too. And it's not going to stop anytime soon.

At one time, it was commonplace to say that organizations were looking for problem solvers to hire. Now I'd daresay the new ticket to the ball is: Are you a versatile and adaptable change manager? Are you a transitionist?

This is good news, by the way, for people in certain change-oriented fields, such as mine, Organization Development, whe…

The Downturn and the Holidays

For many people, this is a very special time of year. It always has been so for me. And even having been downsized a month ago, I still eagerly anticipate Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Year's.

Articles have appeared in the past weeks about the fate of holiday office parties. Some are being cut back to a more modest scale; some are being cut out all together.

I sent an email to several of my former colleagues who were downsized with me, suggesting we throw our own holiday party.

Times are tough now due to the economy. Yes, gas prices have dropped (Hurrah!), but who can afford to go anywhere?

So, the choice is yours. I will choose to enjoy the holidays and do whatever I can to spread good cheer.

What are you doing to keep your spirits up? The spirits of others?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving 2008 approaches, it's a time to reflect, to take stock of all that we have. There is much to be thankful for.

1. What are you thankful for?

What gifts have you been given in your life? When is the last time you said a prayer of thanks?

2. Who are you thankful for?

Who has been a gift to you in your life? When is the last time you thanked them?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 25, 2008

A Sense of Urgent Patience

Bestselling author, expert on leadership and change, and professor at the Harvard Business School, John Kotter has done it again with his new book A Sense of Urgency.

Expanding upon the first step, Create a sense of urgency, from his now-famous 8-step model for leading change, Kotter distinguishes between false urgency and true and positive urgency.

False urgency is seen as people frantically running around doing lots of reactive activities in a state of fear-induced panic. Such an organization is driven by short-term pressure, frenetic, stressed out, and exhausted. Ultimately, unproductive.

True and positive urgency is quite different:

~ "True urgency," Kotter writes, "focuses on critical issues."

True urgency is alert and proactive, thoughtfully attuned to opportunities. True urgency is seen as people take the initiative to address important problems today. True urgency is energy, responsiveness, cooperation, creativity and teamwork.

Kotter then introduces what may b…

Visioning with Shared Wisdom

As part 2 to the previous blog entry on ALOHA Facilitation, I was facilitating a leadership group at my church in a visioning process that uses shared wisdom.

Here are the four steps of the process:

1. Identification of a pastoral issue

An example of a pastoral issue might be that some parishioners do not feel welcome in our parish.  Such issues may come directly from the pastor, may surface from parishioners, from the council, or from other sources.

2. Pondering the issue

This is a period of study, focused on the pastoral issue, usually a mix of: 

- reading (e.g. letters to the pastor, articles, books), 

- listening (e.g. to parishioners, to invited speakers),

- reflection (e.g. on data gathered on the issue), and

- prayer.

3. Sharing wisdom

Now the council members seek the Spirit’s guidance as they share their perspectives on the issue. This sharing phase can take several meetings.

4. Pursuing action

Once the council has heard the wisdom of all members, they choose a course of action and deve…

Aloha Facilitation

Aloha, in the Hawaiian language, means affection, love, peace, compassion, and mercy.

Yesterday, while developing my plan to facilitate a meeting at my church, I came up with this, ALOHA facilitation:

A = Ask questions

L = Listen to all voices

O = Observe the group energy

H = Help discern the path

A = Activate next steps

This was both my way of facilitating, and my suggested way for the participants to actively play their part in the meeting.

It worked beautifully.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 19, 2008

21st Century Management

Is there "anything new under the sun" in Management ideas? I came across a new voice (at least to me) today.

Her name is Kelley Eskridge and I think you would do well to check out her manifesto on management called Humans At Work.

Kelley is on to something that many others (including Michael Lee Stallard, Judy Bardwick, Alex Kjerulf, David Zinger, Matthew Kelly, and me) have been talking and writing about:

- that business is about people

- that business is about feelings as much as facts

And if you take care of your people, they will take very good care of your customers, and your business will thrive.

Kelley is calling for a revolution in management behavior and thinking. I say, "You go, girl!"

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 18, 2008

"You Don't Know What You Are Doing"

British film director Danny Boyle has a new hit film called Slumdog Millionaire. In an interview, he said: "I have got this theory: your first film is the best film you ever make because you don't know what you are doing really. (It) is something great to work with because it's fresh."

Interesting eh? Your first film is your best because you don't know what you are doing.

I'm fascinated by this state of "not knowing what you are doing."

Is it similar to Shoshin, Beginner's Mind?

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 10, 2008

The Night of Broken Glass

Today, November 9, is the 70th anniversary of an event that came to be known as "The Night of Broken Glass."

Kristallnacht

Now considered to be the violent start of the Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of the Jews and others by the Nazi regime in Germany.

Pope Benedict has said: "I invite people to pray for the victims of that night and to join me in expressing profound solidarity with the Jewish world. Still today I feel pain over what happened in those tragic events, whose memory must serve to ensure such horrors are never repeated and that we strive, on every level, against all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination."

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel has said: "We must not be silent. Anti-Semitism and racism are a threat to our basic values -- those of democracy and respect for diversity and human rights."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 9, 2008

Living the Small Steps

"Living the small steps" seems to be the theme this week!

Some examples:

~ Getting one good lead each day in my job search. As my friend Don Blohowiak says, It only takes one.

~ And getting up today at 6:00 a.m. to cast my vote for change.

There is a power in small things done each day.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 4, 2008

RIP Geary Rummler and Studs Terkel

Two greats have passed from our midst.

Geary Rummler - When I first entered the Training and Development field, one of the thought leaders I encountered was Geary Rummler whose ideas about organizational performance have influenced me ever since.

There is a beautiful blog entry by Guy Wallace here.

Studs Terkel - The author of the book Working, where the voices of American workers from all walks of life can be heard (and later in the musical play "Working").

Here is a beautiful piece about his life and influence.

David Zinger brilliantly connects the dots between Terkel and employee engagement.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, November 2, 2008

Beets, Blueberries, and Red Wine

What's good for you and what's bad?

There seems to be a growing consensus that natural foods that are red or purple (or even blue) are good for you. So, beets and blueberries. Even pinot noir.

What's bad?

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, straight-talking UCLA business professor Samuel Culbert wrote that performance reviews are very bad for you. I could not agree more.

This is a drum I have beaten before (here, here, and here).

Like Professor Culbert, I do believe there are alternatives. We just need the courage to stop doing performance reviews, and the creativity to imagine a more positive workplace that is strengths-based and future-focused.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 28, 2008

Engaged, Learning, Changing

For the job hunter in New Jersey, there are a wealth of great networking groups! For example, the Breakfast Club, the Career Forum, the CIT Group, the PSG Group and more.

And Keith Bogen's Whine & Dine group!

One of the skills you hone on the job search trail is your 30 second "elevator speech" where you succinctly convey Who You Are, what you are looking for, and what you are offering.

Here's my new member intro.

Professionally, Terrence ("Terry") Seamon has been a Training, Coaching & Organization Development Guy for over 25 years, in pharma/chem, telecom, energy, and consulting.

Most recently, I was Portfolio Manager for Management & Leadership Development at the American Management Association. The AMA is a great place to meet many stellar thought leaders like Judith Bardwick, Charles Handy, Graham Jones, Alexander Kjerulf, Michael Lee Stallard, Bob Nelson, and Jessica Lipnack.

At AMA, I planned and facilitated several highly successful webcasts …

Glass Half Full

Yeah, layoffs suck. And no one feels good about them. Especially those who are fired.

A colleague of mine wrote me an email saying: "This is the first time this has happened to me and it just feels weird. It is awkward, stressful and anxiety ridden."

Amen to that.

However, I replied: "But it's also...Awesome, Exciting, and Opportunity-Filled. It's all in how you look at it."

Getting terminated is a big kick in your self-esteem. It hurts. But you can't stay down.

Your outlook has to be upbeat, positive, and focused on the future.

You gotta believe in yourself.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 26, 2008

Job Hunting in the Downturn

Well, with yesterday's downsizing, I am back on the job search trail. The "good news" is that I am a veteran of job hunting. The "not so good" news is the timing. We are experiencing the great economic downturn of 2008.

So the question is: What does it take to conduct a successful job search in a serious downturn?

Because of the significance of this question to many people, I am going to start it here, and simultaneously post it at LinkedIn Q & A. Hopefully, the thread of answers will grow into a practical database of wisdom for job seekers.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 23, 2008

The Transitionist

I just updated my status on Plaxo and Facebook: "I am having my morning cup of java and pondering the opportunities ahead."

Yesterday we had a downsizing. Today we expect it to continue.

A couple years ago, I came across the term "transitionist:" one who is "adept at transitions and more precisely, skilled at managing change."

As a transitionist, I expect change. I accept change. I see change as opportunity.

And when change happens, I ride it.

I don't know what today will bring, but I am ready.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 22, 2008

Touching Our Future

Last week, a group of high schoolers from around New York City converged on AMA for a career exploration session. With my colleague Susan Zeidman, we tried to convey the stages in the creation of a typical seminar:

- Idea: What business skill does some audience need that AMA could teach?

- Research: How do we know the Idea is a "good" idea?

- Approval: How do we win Management's approval (and funding) to develop the Idea?

- Development: How will we teach this Idea effectively to the intended audience?

Then we had the teens work in groups to quickly develop their own seminar idea. They seemed to enjoy the exercise.

I was glad to be invited to take part in this program. Working with teens is a way to touch the future and have a positive impact.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 20, 2008

Are You Happy At Work?

I had the opportunity to interview Alexander Kjerulf, the Chief Happiness Officer, this morning. (The podcast interview will debut on the AMA website in November)

In my view, Kjerulf is part of a movement going on right now in "Corporate America" (and outside America) toward making workplaces more positive, more democratic . . . happier!

For Kjerulf, it comes down to two fundamental principles:

~ Do people feel like they are doing something that makes a difference?

~ Do people feel like they are respected and valued by others and by the organization?

Simple yet profound.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 15, 2008

Think Training Is Expensive?

Here is a saying to post in offices around the world during this unfolding financial crisis:

~ "If You Think Training Is Expensive, Try Ignorance"

I had heard it before, but was reminded of it yesterday by a customer who was attending one of our management seminars.

I asked the attendees if their companies were feeling any pressure to cut training due to the economy. "Not yet" was the consensus answer, though they could foresee that happening if things worsen.

The saying, by the way, is attributed to Peter Drucker. What would he say now about this financial crisis?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 11, 2008

Webcasts Galore!

I have come to love business webcasts. They are fun, informative, and free. Plus, you get to know some very cool people a bit better. For example:

Michael Lee Stallard will be doing one in November called Fired Up Leadership, based on his new book Fired Up or Burned Out.

Jessica Lipnack just did one called Leading Virtual Teams: Managing People at a Distance. Here is her account of what happened.

Marshall Goldsmith recently did one on Taking Leadership to the Next Level.

If you haven't checked these (and many others) out yet, what are you waiting for?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 10, 2008

Managing Change and Wisdom

I'm happy to report that management professor Sandy Piderit has a new blog called The Wisdom of Managing Change, where she blogs about organizational change, leadership, sustainability, and more.

Sandy has some great posts. In this one, she challenges the common assumption that people always resist change, and suggests that it may be more common to find ambivalence, rather than resistance.

In another one, about the ramifications of downsizing and layoffs, Sandy asks some good strong questions such as: "How many companies include in a layoff plan a way to capture the organizational knowledge that may be uniquely held by some of the employees who will be downsized?"

Great question, Sandy. Keep on blogging.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 7, 2008

Democracy at Work - Part 2

A few year's ago, I remember a Vice President saying, "This is not a democracy." He was talking to an audience of employees at a town hall meeting. The topic was the sale of the company. The question that had been asked by an employee was why the employees had not been consulted.

Can you have democracy at work? I blogged about this once before, back in 2005. My point of view then, and now, is that it's not very likely. Why? Because most organizations and their leaders are not wired that way.

But, if you could have democracy at work, what would it look like?

Apparently there are many who think you can have democracy at work, including a consultancy called Worldblu. Some are gathering soon at a conference, according to Michael Stallard.

Worldblu envisions a democratic workplace as one where people are treated well, with openness, two-way communication, and fairness.

These are great principles. But they aren't going to happen unless there is a real commitment on the …

Organization Development Round-Up

In the four plus years of this blog, the topic of OD (aka "organization development") has been the most frequently blogged about topic. Which makes sense since it's my chosen field.

Some of the OD entries are also very popular, as indicated by the blog analytics I am watching. So, to help those with an interest in OD, here is a round-up of a selection of entries from the past several years.

Where Are You Going?

What is OD exactly?

What Practitioners Do

It's About People

Making Sense of Things

It's a Process

Whole Person OD

Be Careful What You Wish For

The Importance of Attitude

It's About Learning

Marginality is Good

It's About Change

Telling Truth and Sharing Wisdom

The Soul of OD

How I Became an OD Guy

Hmmm...Seems to me like I have an outline for a book on OD. Hey, any editors out there?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 3, 2008

Engagement Round-Up

I've been posting a lot in the past year about employee engagement, so I thought I would round up several of the key entries.

Winning Hearts & Minds


Playing to Strengths


Meaningful Conversations


Managers, Take Note


Connect to Engage


Engagement Basics


Can You Spell "Engage?"


Getting a Handle on Employee Engagement


Caring to Engage

Hey, this looks like an outline for a book. Any editors out there?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 1, 2008

How We Learn

Since using Google Analytics and sitemeter to get an idea of why people are visiting my blog, I've detected a strong interest in the learning concept of "70/20/10."

The idea (which originated with Morgan McCall, Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo back in the 1980's when they were all with the Center for Creative Leadership) says that to understand how leaders develop, you need to look beyond formal training classes. The reality of how leaders learn to be leaders is that:

~ 70% of the learning is in the doing (learning by experience)

~ 20% of the learning is in relationship with coaches and mentors (learning from others)

~ 10% of the learning is in formal settings like seminars, classes, and training programs (learning in formal learning environments)

As a concept, this has always seemed "right" to me. It provides a good dose of reality to those of us in the 10% zone learning business, reminding us that no matter how good our seminars are, most of the learnin…

It's A Miracle You Are Here

I seem to be surrounded by remarkable people these days! People who are beating the odds against cancer of various kinds. People who are bravely facing an uncertain future:

- a friend of my wife who has been fighting and living with cancer for many years, who recently learned that the cancer has spread;

- another friend from church who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, who was given a dim prognosis, who underwent surgery, and who is still going;

- and my brother Larry who underwent surgery for prostate cancer last week and now seems to be recovering fast. He credits both reiki and prayer for his rapid recovery.

Yesterday at my church, we had a one-day retreat for ministry leaders. The guest speaker was Fr. Greg, the pastor from my brother's church. His talk was based on this passage from scripture:

~ "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..." (Romans 12)

He spoke of the ordinary miracles that we overlook in our busy …

The Cell Phone and The Icebox

Watching the movie "Bottle Shock" the other evening --a semi-factual story about the French wine competition in 1976 where Napa wines surprisingly won-- I was amused by a scene where two of the characters, whose truck ran out of gas, had to hitch a ride to find a phone. They had no cell phones.

We live in an era of increasing technological change. Our homes, our jobs, and our lives are filled with gadgets: Computers. Laptops. Blackberrys. Cell phones.

The other day, I was reminiscing about my childhood. I grew up in a multi-generational home in the late 1950's to 1960's. My grandparents, George T. and Florence Seamon, lived upstairs, while my parents and my five siblings and I had the downstairs.

I had a close relationship with my grandparents and enjoyed going up to visit them in their place. They used to call their refrigerator "the icebox." I didn't really get it; I just thought it was an example of the quaint way of speaking that they had, since…

Work Life Balance and You

Today, the St. Matthias Employment Ministry offered a workshop called "Work Life Balance and You." Though it wasn't planned to coincide with Positive Thinking Day, it was surely a meaningful coincidence.

A few of our key points:

~ There is really no such thing as "work life balance;" work is one part of Life. We need to become more aware of, and make the choice to nourish, all of our roles in life, including worker, spouse, parent, friend, neighbor, volunteer, etc. (BTW This is the same view as Charles Handy's.)

~ To get more flexibility at work, don't just ask for it; develop a business case for it. Show your manager WIIFHim/Her.

~ Give to yourself, and you will have more to give to others.

~ Work and spirituality don't have to be separated; they can be integrated.

In her book, Alter Your Life, Dr. Kathleen Hall says: "The acorn does not push, does not try harder, but simply knows that it is an oak tree and trusts the wisdom of its life process.&q…

Positive Thinking Day is Tomorrow

Positive Thinking Day is almost here. Are you thinking positively?

Here are some ideas for bringing more positive thinking into your everyday life.


Posted by Terrence Seamon, September 12, 2008

On Goals and Objectives

At a planning meeting at my church tonight, I was sitting with a group of parish leaders, discussing a large-scale initiative that we will be rolling out soon. Our project leader got us started by saying that she wants to set an objective. After discussing some possibilities, one of the others said something that surprised me.

She said: "I'm concerned that if we set an objective that it will be limiting."

"Limiting?" I asked her. She answered, "We should be expanding, reaching out to more people, touching all of the parish."

Blogger Matthias from South America is musing on goals and objectives at his blog, where he says: "As a real-life manager, I find defining the right objectives and keeping them simple quite a challenge in my daily work."

Phil Gerbyshak is also musing on goals: "As I reflect on how I’ve achieved many of my goals, it all comes back to one simple question I ask myself when I go to bed at night: Did I do at least 1 t…

"Were Your Ears Ringing?"

With the help of sitemeter (thanks again, Mike!), I am now getting a steady feed of information about who is visiting Here We Are. Now What? and what they are looking for.

It's fascinating!

I am getting visitors from around the world, including Australia, the UK, India, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Spain, New Zealand, Brazil, China and more. And of course from the US too.

As for what they are looking for, there is a wide range, but some repeated topics are:

- RASCI

- 70 20 10

- Life is what you make it

- What I like best about my job

- How to engage employees

- The end of performance reviews

- Start small; think big

- Sense of agency

- What keeps you up at night

This information that I'm getting about my visitors is reminding me of something my mother used to say. She'd ask: "Were your ears ringing?" What she meant was that she had been thinking about, and talking about, someone a few days before.

Now with blog analytic tools like sitemeter, you have a "sixth…

The Talent Question

There is a good article* about the use of talent in the creative process at Pixar in the latest Harvard Business Review.

Clearly, Pixar needs creative technology talent to produce such wondrous cartoons as Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Wall-e.

But it seems to me, since all organizations hire talent, that all organizations, creative and non-creative, should be paying attention to talent utilization and development as well. Whatever your organizational mission, it's your talent (i.e., your people) who deliver on the promise.

The question becomes: What do organizations do with that talent once it comes through the door? Do they squash it? Or do they unleash it?

*(My thanks to Jordan for blogging about this article. And my thanks, to my colleague Susan, for letting me borrow her HBR so I could read it.)

Posted by Terrence Seamon, September 3, 2008

See You In September

Blogger and engagement guru David Zinger writes that September 1 is one of his New Year's Days:

~ "January 1st is my calendar New Year’s Day while September 1st is my psychological and learning New Year’s Day."

Makes sense to me too. September 1 has always felt like a transition day: end of Summer vacation, and the start of the school year. The Rutgers students have returned to New Brunswick and my sons resume their studies tomorrow.

It's another reminder of the many transitions that mark our lives. Endings. Beginnings. And the cycle goes on.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, September 1, 2008

500th Post

My 500th post!

I've been wondering what to write about. Then it hit me: appreciation!

This blog began in 2004. As it grew, I gradually came to realize that blogging is a way for me to make meaning of my life. To think about my place in the world. Discovering one's unique purpose and gifts, and following the calling to make this world a better place . . . that's what it's all about.

Along the way, I have encountered and connected with many cool people including
~ Regina Miller
~ Scott McArthur
~ Bruce Lewin
~ Lisa Haneberg
~ Chris Morgan
~ Gautam Ghosh
~ Anna Farmery
~ Mario Gastaldi
~ Jim Murphy
~ Terry Starbucker
~ Phil Gerbyshak
~ Rosa Say
~ Michael Stallard
~ David Zinger
~ Nimmy
~ Mike Schaffner
~ Annette Clancy
~ Tim Wright
~ Michelle Malay Carter
~ Alexander Kjerulf
~ Astha Parmar
~ Steve Roesler
~ Bettina Neidhardt
~ Wayne Turmel
~ Lindsey Pollak
~ Alexandra Levit
...and so many others that I read and admire.

I look forward to the next 500 posts and all the great bloggers I w…

Why Are You Here?

Why do people visit my blog? Why do people come to any blog, for that matter?

Do the things that interest me, match the things that interest you, my readers? As much as I wish the answer was YES, I am starting to suspect that that is not the case.

Colleague, blogger, and baker Jordan Salvit stopped by the other day when he read (on LinkedIn) that I had just posted my 498th blog entry. (This is now the 499th. The next one is the BIGGIE!)

He is wondering about this same question, Why are you visiting my blog?, and is exploring blog analytics to try to determine the answer.

His interests, like many interesting bloggers, are wide ranging, including artificial intelligence, online privacy, Web 2.0, as well as baking delicious chocolate mousse cakes in his spare time. What has garnered the most traffic on his blog? The cakes!

It was his chocolate desserts that pulled me in too. So it has me wondering if I should add something different to my blog that will pull in a bigger audience.

At the rec…

New Ways of Working

Blogger Leo at ZenHabits has an entry called "12 New Rules of Working You Should Embrace Today," that includes some good ones, especially:

- Collaborate on documents, don’t email them

- People don’t have to be in an office (Yes, you can work from the beach!)

- Small teams are better than large teams

- Fewer tasks are better than many

- Meetings suck (True, but I have the answer.)

- Communication is a stream (This one seems especially zen-like, to me)

- Rest is as important as work (Amen, to that!)

Leo says, "Not all of these “rules” are accepted by the majority of people today — in fact, most aren’t. But a growing number of people are working this way, and I think a majority of people will work this way in the near future."

I hope he is right.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 24, 2004

Pathfinding

Via Bloglines, I discovered Aviv's Blog where consultant Aviv Shahar has an intriguing entry called "Why I Disagree With Marshall Goldsmith." Being a fan of Goldsmith, I was drawn in right away. As much as I agree with the tonic of Goldsmith's points, I must salute Aviv's responses. In particular:

~ "Investing in what you are about, in what you believe in, and in your growth and development is the best way to invest your time and money in your future. The future is not a repetition of the past."

Exploring Aviv's blog further, I came across his most recent entry on leadership development, where he says:

~ "As a leader, maps can help you a lot, but you need something even more important than maps — You need your own compass. You need to know yourself and have the capacity to enter an unknown terrain that has not been mapped, where you draw the map as you walk the terrain. This is the nature of leadership. You find a path forward in a place you have…

Passing the Baton

At LinkedIn Answers, Rony Szleifer asked, What can the Olympics teach us about organizational performance?" Good question!

One lesson we can explore is the importance of handoffs.

A friend of mine, who is an expert in Track & Field, was analyzing the recent losses in the Olympics relay races. His comment was that some of these great runners lost on the handoffs. He explained that Olympic level runners, who are at the top of their sport and often have a very inflated self-image, have no time or patience to practice the handoffs. So, when the big race came, they blew it on this crucial detail.

This, I believe, is a direct lesson for organizational performance. No organization can operate without handoffs, for example Sales to Operations to Customer Care. It's not enough for each unit to be very good at what they do. Overall success depends upon the units handing off to each other seamlessly.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 23, 2008

Millennials Inc

Author Lisa Orrell's new book “Millennials Incorporated” is done and now available on Amazon.

Not only is this a great book on a hot topic, but Lisa included several folks (including Me) from the Employee Engagement Network who contributed some of the content from David Zinger's A-Z of Employee Engagement e-book.

Lisa says: "All of you were clearly listed, along with your contact info... I think you will be pleased with how each of you were represented (in) the book!"

Thanks, Lisa! Best of luck with the book.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 22, 2008

What If Kids Ran Organizations?

If kids ran organizations, what might they be like?

- more fun, games, songs, and fooling around
- more questions, especially "Why?"
- more impulsive
- more haphazard
- more crying
- more naps in the afternoon

Here are some videos, from AMA, to enjoy.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 16, 2008

Social Media and Management Development

How do you develop managers? Train them. Coach them. Give them challenging assignments. The list of approaches goes on.

Recently, while chairing a webcast on Management Development, I found myself thinking, What about social media? Is there a role for social media in a comprehensive approach to developing managers?

In today's networked world of virtual organizations, social media has to come into the management development picture.

For example, how do you manage at a distance, say a global team that has members in different countries, different time zones, and different cultures? What technology can you use to provide social linkage that builds the cohesion you need to develop a fully functioning team?

What do you think?

PS - You can access the above webcast here.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 14, 2008

Spiritual Stewards

Blogger Michelle Malay Carter wonders if business executives are (or should be) spiritual stewards of their organizations. She is definitely on to something. It's something very elusive, but very important.

It’s elusive because there is so much distracting noise in the way that it’s hard to hear the “small voice.” It’s important because we are more than the sum of our parts. We are spiritual.

One of my favorite definitions of spirituality comes from writer Ronald Rolheiser (The Holy Longing) who defines it as “…the fire that burns within us.” He says, “What we do with that fire, how we channel it, is our spirituality.”

Do executives have a spiritual stewardship responsibility toward the people in their organizations? Very interesting question!

Imagine if leaders had the ability to nourish and guide "the fire" in their organizations toward more than profit?

Former monk turned HR/OD consultant Kenny Moore says that his work is to "awaken joy, meaning and commitment in the…

I Care, Therefore I Engage.

At the Employee Engagement Network, many are trying to find the root cause of engagement.

Curiously, a lot of the contenders start with the letter "c" for some reason, including:

Content - Meaning the content of the job, the work itself. For my feeling of engagement, this is a must. I am all about the work first.

Customer - They are the reason for the work.

Conditions - Conditions covers a whole gamut of things from the temperature in the office to having the flexibility to work from home as needed. Conditions can keep me engaged, or cause disengagement.

Communication - Having a free and open channel. Knowing what's going on. Not being surprised.

Community - Being part of something, whether a team, an organization, a network, or a movement.

Consideration - Being treated with respect. Being treated like a professional.

Contribution - Having the opportunity to participate and give input. Feeling like my ideas count.

But are any of those the true root cause of engagement?

I thi…

To Life!

Yesterday virtual reality pioneer and teacher Dr. Randy Pausch died, finally succumbing to pancreatic cancer, and people the world over stopped for a few moments to mark his passing. Why? Because he stared Death in the face and he saluted Life. His "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon had been a sensation on YouTube, a viral phenom, viewed by millions.

Pausch's last lecture was called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" wherein he shared his own dreams including floating in zero gravity, playing pro football, and becoming a Disney Imaginer.

What does it mean to live? For Pausch, living means pursuing your dreams.

What a wonderful lesson he has given us about the meaning of life.

What are your dreams?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 26, 2008

Getting A Handle on Employee Engagement

So you have heard about "employee engagement" and that it is directly related to organizational performance. And you are wondering how to get a handle on it.

A good first step is measurement: figure out where you are right now with respect to engagement.

I recently attended Conference Board's Employee Engagement conference in New York and one of the speakers (a consultant with CB) talked about measuring EE. CB has been doing a global research study on EE. One of his points was that their study seems to suggest that there are just a few measures that really tell the story about where your employees are at.

Here is the short list of some of the factors most critical to EE:

- Relationship with one's immediate manager – Does the employee have a positive working relationship with his or her manager? (Note: This is a biggie!)

- Trust and integrity – Does the employee feel that the organization and its managers are honest and and 'walk the talk'?

- The job itself – Does …

Engaging People

Dr. Judith Bardwick was in New York the other day, for the second webcast based on her book One Foot Out The Door. Judy is passionate about getting management to wake up and start doing the right thing by employees. It's not about being nice, or even about making employees happy. It's about the direct connection between commitment and engagement AND business performance.

I also had the pleasure this week to speak with Michael T. Kanazawa, CEO of Dissero Partners and author of BIG Ideas to BIG Results. Mike is passionate about business transformation. And speed. And helping his clients learn the "secret sauce" (I love that expression) about getting results. (Hint: A key ingredient in the secret sauce is engaging employees!)

Passion. It's what engagement is about.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 11, 2008

Start Small, Think Big

I have long been a proponent of "Start Small, Think Big." (In fact, I think I might be the originator of that phrase. However, if anyone wants to use it, be my guest.)

It applies to so many areas of life. Starting a business. Investing. R&D. You name it.

Plus it's organic. I mean, look at nature. Everything starts small --for instance, seeds turn into trees; babies turn into adults-- but each little thing has within it the blueprint for something much larger, maybe even for greatness.

Perhaps the most exciting application of SSTB is the field of change management. Each word is key:

START - A lot of organizational change initiatives stumble because of late starts and false starts. Instead, just start. Start somewhere where you think the conditions are right for a promising beginning.

SMALL - Remember the baby analogy. It's OK to start small, even very small. The key thing is to get going. Small wins will help build momentum. And small is easier than big. Find out …

Igniting Commitment

I'm pleased to help market a new management seminar on employee engagement that I've been shepherding at AMA since last year, called Igniting Commitment - Engaging Employees for Breakthrough Performance. It debuts in New York on September 25 and 26, and then will be available all around the US into 2009.

The idea for Igniting Commitment came about last year when I met Dr. Judith Bardwick to do a webcast with her on her newest book One Foot Out the Door.

We had such a great time doing that webcast that we said afterwards, What else should we do together on this vital topic? Thus, the idea of a seminar for managers, on how to raise engagement levels, was born.

The course is based on ideas in Judy's book and will feature another one of my train ride brainstorms, the leader's "sparks" for igniting commitment and fueling engagement:

S - Set meaningful goals with each person

P - Provide plenty of opportunities for people to participate and play a part

A - Appreciate e…

Employee Engagement Conference in NY

I just attended the Employee Engagement conference run by Conference Board in NY this week at the Westin Hotel on 43rd Street.

Coupla observations:

- Lotsa good info and some good presentations about companies that have had remarkable success with EE such as AMEX, Nortel, McKesson, and Marriott...

But

- There was no mention at all of the Employee Engagement Network on ning that David Zinger started in January, that has grown to over 300 members in a few months, and is THE place in cyberspace to meet and talk about EE.

Where was Zinger? Where was Judy McLeish? Judith Bardwick?

Curious, eh?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 20, 2008

Values in Action

How do leaders establish and sustain a culture of high engagement? In a word, values.

In the 1990's, I was with a small but rapidly growing telecom company. The CEO had started the company in the 1980's after the breakup of Ma Bell. The company was truly "his baby." He cared about every detail and was passionately engaged.

His total engagement was translated to every employee and every new hire in various ways, chief of which was the company's values:

- have an entrepreneurial attitude and act like you own the business

- be continuously close to your client so that you are in touch with their needs and can provide solutions

- work collaboratively with others across functions

- take the initiative; don't wait; just do it

- have an "open door" (for open communication), an open mind (for new ideas), and an open book (share the financials and build financial acumen in all employees)

- never rest on your laurels; always look for a better way; always improve

Take…

Born in 1924

It's Father's Day here in the US and I'm thinking about my dad, George J. Seamon, born in 1924, died in 2003.

Thanks to wikipedia, you can see what happened in history in your birth year, or anyone else's. So here are a few events that occured in the year my father was born, 1924:

- Vladimir Lenin died
- Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin is performed
- IBM is founded
- Adolf Hitler begins writing his book while imprisoned in Bavaria
- The Winter and Summer Olympics are held in France
- J. Edgar Hoover is appointed to head the FBI
- Mercedes-Benz is formed
- Toastmasters is founded
- Silent film director Thomas Ince died
- The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held
- Andre Breton defines Surrealism
- Born in 1924: Lee Marvin, Marlon Brando, Doris Day, Buddy Hackett, Bobby Short, Truman Capote, Carroll O'Connor, Elizabeth (The Black Dahlia) Short, Jimmy Carter, Wally Cox, Ed Koch, Rod Serling, Henry Mancini, Eva Marie Saint, Don Knotts, leon Uris, Robert Bolt

My fathe…