Showing posts from March, 2010

Losing a Loved One

"Loss of a loved one" is pretty high on the Holmes and Rahe scale of stressful life events. It's in the top five.

My family is dealing with this one right now. We are going through a painful period due to the sudden death of my 24 year old niece Kate who was killed in a hiking accident in Oregon a couple weeks ago.

Kate, God bless her, was a handful in her teen years. But in her early twenties, she left New Jersey, first to Vermont, then to the Northwest, to find herself and create a new life. We often wondered when the phone would ring with the call that she was hurt or hospitalized. But to our surprise, the calls were quite positive: she was happy, healthy, working, and going back to school for a degree in Environmental Studies.

She loved the outdoors and died while doing what she most enjoyed.

We, the family in NJ, have heard that her friends in Portland have made a cross in Kate's memory and have placed it on the trail near the point where she fell.

So how do you cop…

Mending the Rip in the Corporate Soul

Recently on LinkedIn, Swiss business philosopher Dieter Langenecker asked, "The purpose of a company is . . ."

I replied that the word "company" derives from com (with) + pane (bread) and can be translated as "sharing bread together." (Hat tip to Kenny Moore for this etymological realization.)

So, I would say that the purpose of a company is to attract a group of people who share in a joint undertaking that serves a market and nourishes the community and world in some way.

I had the good fortune of meeting the business philosopher Charles Handy a couple years ago.

He told me the story (that he has often told) of gently provoking his MBA students to think beyond results, growth, and profit. He challenged them to ask themselves, What are we, the Company, building? Are we making this world a better place for our employees (and their families), our customers, our investors, and our communities and neighbors?

In his own words:

"The companies that survive longe…

The Baby and the Bath Water

There are some old sayings that are worth their weight in gold. Such as:

~ Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This is one that should be taught to anyone studying to become a Change Agent. During my education in change management, I had the good fortune of being taught by David Hanna, author of Designing Organizations for High Performance (1988). He had lots of good maxims, perhaps the most famous being: "All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are getting."

Another one, related to the baby and the bathwater, has really stayed with me over the years:

~ When setting out to change (and improve) an organization or process, be careful not to lose what's working well right now.

Recently, at LinkedIn, someone asked about ways to improve the annual process of performance review. As one who advocates "blowing up" (or "throwing out," or whatever destructive metaphor works for you) the annual performance appraisal, I couldn&…

Leading Organizational Change

Transformation change agent Roland Sullivan asked this question of the OD Community on LinkedIn: Does "positive leadership" provide a better guide to change in organizations?

Let's look at what it takes to lead organizational change.

As Warren Bennis said so well, Leadership is the ability to turn vision into reality.

From that we can distill some of the key elements:

- Vision: Leaders can see something that others aren't seeing yet. They see a solution. Or a new product. Or a customer need. Or new possibilities on a new horizon.

- Turning: Leaders can "turn," a word that has ancient roots: "to cross over, pass through, overcome."

- Reality: Leaders can realize (make real).

But a true leader does not do any of the above alone. She conveys what she is seeing (her vision) to others so that they can see it too. She helps others to cross over (the turning) from the "as is" to the "to be." And she enlists others in making the new reality m…

Hunting Companies - Part 2

In yesterday's blog post on Hunting Companies, Not Jobs, I offered another approach to the job search, based on a model I learned years ago in the book What Color Is Your Parachute?, and later reinforced by HR Guy Dick Stone, one of my job search coaches.

Richard Nelson Bolles identified a key ingredient: You must identify the decision maker, the "Person-who-has-the-power-to-hire-you," as Bolles puts it.

Dick Stone added an important element: Have an insider walk your resume to the decision maker.

I can still remember my reaction when I first heard him say this many years ago: How in heaven's name could I ever get someone to do that for me?

I have since learned that it is doable. So let's break it down in the following guide to Hunting Companies.

1. Identify the target company (see prior blog post for questions to ask yourself)

2. Research (using LinkedIn) the company, and identify (using LinkedIn) who you know that works there, used to work there, or is connected t…

Hunt Companies, Not Jobs

It has been months since the downsizing. You have sent out countless resumes and your job search has been dragging on and on. You have been dutifully following all the recommendations you've learned about what goes into an effective job search. And you are feeling so low that you are contemplating "throwing in the towel."

Is there a better way?

Stop job hunting. Start Company Hunting.

In job hunting, we look for job openings. In company hunting, we ask ourselves questions such as:

- Where would we like to work?
- What organizations do we most admire?
- What organizations could use my skills the most?
- Where could I work where I could really make a difference?

Make a list of the companies that bubble up in this thought process. Sift and sort the list for the ones that most attract you. Identify your target employers and pursue them.

This is NOT a new idea.

The job hunting guru himself, Richard Nelson Bolles, advocates this in his classic book What Color Is Your Parachute. Contrar…

Change Management, OD, and Project Management

There's a lot of conversation lately about the term "change management." For instance, at LinkedIn, consultant Ehren Hollander asked:

"What do you feel is the difference between Organizational Change, Organizational Development and Change Management? With the growing need for businesses to make significant changes to continue competing in these economic times, professional services firms are touting expertise and service offerings in Organizational Change, Organizational Development and Change Managment. Are they truly different methodologies? Is it just semantics? Is one an "umbrella term" for the others?"

Here's my take.

- Organizational Change happens whether we know it or not, whether we initiate it or not. Organizational Change can be a choice, however, if we are proactive rather than reactive.

- Organization Development is a field of professional practice undertaken to change and improve organizational alignment, strength, resilience, and health…