Tag Archives: vision

Failing to Prepare the Ground

preparing ground

Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.
Proverbs 24:27

I’ve recently been observing a business saga that I fear isn’t destined to end well.  Sam, a sales and product development director, is preparing to submit an exciting new product proposal to his company.  If accepted, it could transform a significant aspect of company operations and further enhance its industry-leading standing.  Unfortunately, I believe Sam’s proposal is likely to be rejected for, as ground-breaking as his concept is, he has failed to prepare the ground so that the project might be accepted, take root, and bloom.

The Good

Sam’s idea represents the culmination of years of blood, sweat, and tears to understand and serve the needs of his customers.  The concept addresses their needs in a way that gives both his customers and his company a platform for growth and collaboration, and it pushes the state of the art in their field forward by several steps.

The Bad

The success of the venture depends heavily on a partnership with another organization.  However, the leadership of Sam’s company has a very negative Continue reading

The Clarity of Power

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell

National Football League commissioner, Roger Goodell, recently issued fines and suspensions related to the “Bountygate” scandal that are unprecedented in league history in terms of their severity and scope.  Goodell’s strong action has given me pause to reflect on the clarity that power — when used prudently but decisively — can bring to an organization, providing both direction and calm.

Bountygate

In early March, the media began to report that a 3-year internal investigation by the NFL revealed the New Orleans Saints had offered “bounties” (cash bonuses) for injuries caused to opposing players.  A week or so into the media storm, Mr. Goodell announced suspensions and fines including: Saints general manager, 8 games; Saints head coach, Sean Payton, the entire 2012 season; and former Saints defensive coordinator, Greg Williams, indefinitely (but at least one year).  All were suspended without pay (in Payton’s case, costing him most of his $7.5 million annual salary).

When the news came out, you could hear the proverbial “pin drop” from the immediate shock. There was no doubt who was in charge, whether he was serious or not, and what was or was not acceptable in the league anymore.  Mr. Goodell had made very clear what wasn’t up for debate.

Closer to Home

I recently observed something in my own organization that brought home a similar point about the prudent use of power.  Continue reading

New Year’s Hopes, Plans, and Dreams

The turning of the calendar page to a new year is traditionally a time for taking stock, considering the future, and resolving to pursue anew our hopes, plans, and dreams.  In this spirit, I wanted to share two brief anecdotes about looking forward with a hope-filled spirit.

“Rapidly Improving”

A number of years ago, I had the good fortune of working with an attorney representing our office in Puerto Rico who was undoubtedly one of the most “glass half full” thinkers I have ever met.  When exchanging pleasantries upon meeting (in person or by phone), Tristan would invariably respond to the question, “How are you? or “How’s it going?” with “Very well, thank you – and rapidly improving! How are you?”

“… And rapidly improving.” Fifteen years later, I can still see, hear, and feel the smile on his face and in his voice when he would say this. I’ve always thought it quite remarkable.  Mr. Reyes was a labor attorney, a serious and accomplished man who wrestled with difficult and often unpleasant risks, concerns, and dilemmas every day.  Yet, in his speech and in his manner, he conveyed a belief that all good things were on the horizon – and if troubles did come his way, he was confident that he would work through them and come out the other side stronger for the struggle.  All of that packed into one little phrase and a smile (along with the subtly re-affirming implication that part of the ‘rapidly improving’ part came from getting to interact with you that day).

May the new year bring us many upbeat encounters with remarkable people such as Tristan – along with the ability to convey such positive beliefs to all who come into contact with us.

“Let’s Go Exploring”

As a big fan of the daily comics, it was with sadness that I read Bill Watterson’s last “Calvin and Hobbes” strip on January 1, 1996.  (For those unfamiliar with the comic strip, it followed the adventures – real and imagined – of 6-year boy-wonder Calvin and his confidante and partner-in-crime, the stuffed toy tiger, Hobbes).  Mr. Watterson honored the strip’s best purposes with a final entry of great whimsy, innocence, hope, and childlike expectation that I’ve always felt was a wonderful and fitting image and message for the new year.  Returning Calvin and Hobbes to one of their favorite settings, a childhood paradise of freshly-driven snow and endless possibilities, here’s what he drew:

(CLICK HERE for a larger, clearer version of the strip)

May we all “go exploring” with hope, heart, and eagerness and experience good and great adventures and joys this year.  Happy New Year to all!

Drawing Leadership Lessons from the Harry Potter Movies

In watching the conclusion of the Harry Potter epic last weekend (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2), I was struck by a number of themes that have become visible during the 10-year evolution of the J.K. Rowling book-based movie series.  As Scott Eblin of the Next Level Leadership blog has written a wonderful column on the servant-leadership ideas inherent in Harry’s story,  I’d like to reflect on leadership lessons visible in the making of the movies themselves.

(Director David Yates gives direction to Daniel Radcliffe on the Harry Potter set). Matching management talent to the evolving needs of the material was a key element in the success of the movie series.

Leadership Lessons

These leadership points stand out to me:

Hire for “talent” … then provide them with all the support they need
I wrote several months ago about the unique challenge of casting three 10-year old leads on whose shoulders would rest Continue reading

To Really Help Our Organizations, Should HR Go “Back to the Future”?

Back to the Future

Image via Wikipedia

During the past few weeks, I’ve happened to see a few mentions of the classic, 1980′s movie, Back to the Future — which got me to thinking, oddly enough, about human resources.  In the movie, the hero — Michael J. Fox — had to go back to the past in order to help his family and community in the future.  Putting the notion of time travel aside, I’ve been wondering if this might be an apt metaphor for what HR needs to do in many organizations — i.e., to go “back to basics” in order to help the organization move forward.

Being Cutting Edge or Going Back to Basics — Which Is Needed?

In so many HR departments, there is a constant worry about things like “are we being strategic enough?” and “how can we get a seat at the leadership table?” Continue reading

For Execs, Does Firing Guarantee Future Success?

The current HP logo used on corporate document...

Hewlett Packard

I’ve been wondering …. why is it that once someone reaches a certain level in an organization, it seems that even if they “fail” repeatedly and get fired (sometimes several times), they seem to re-surface months later in a similar (or better) job at another organization?  And what does this say about Boards, CEO’s, and other senior managers that they often put their faith in “re-treads” instead of taking a chance on talented, high-potential (but non-pedigreed) “new blood”?

Case In Point

Last week, Hewlett Packard hired Leo Apotheker as its new CEO — seven months after Mr. Apotheker had been forced out of rival SAP after only seven months at the helm.  While a number of publications have published harsh assessments of Apotheker’s tenure at SAP (and of his chances of succeeding at HP), my purpose isn’t to evaluate his prior performance per se (I don’t know Mr. Apotheker nor do I work in the hi-tech field or have direct insight into it).  Rather, my purpose is to ponder the implications of a very public “failure” leading, only months later to a new and more prestigious role. Continue reading

You Twitter? Really?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I have a confession to make.  I’ve recently become a twitterer.  It’s true.  I never thought it would happen to me — but it has … and I’m loving it! Even more amazingly, I’ve found that I’ve become somewhat of a Twitter “evangelist” — spreading the good word about Twitter to professional friends and colleagues far and wide. (Life has a way of surprising you sometimes, doesn’t it?!?).

Preconceived Notions

It turns out that preconceived notions are, well, preconceived notions.  When I first heard about this thing called “Twitter,” I thought it was just about the shallowest, most useless thing I could imagine.  I mean, really, who could possibly be interested in getting minute-by-minute updates on the doings of their favorite celebrities — where they had lunched, if they just took the dog for a walk, etc.?  It’s true: Twitter does have a huge number of fans who use it for this purpose (which I still think is one of the silliest things going).

Continue reading