FOCUS: Are They Twist Ties or Trust Ties?

Trust

Trust is more than a High Five!

Building trust is vital and required.
If you aren’t found to be trustworthy, that pretty much puts the end to having the kind of impact you want to have, whether personally or in business. While the same goes for those around you, you are the only one that can work on your own trustworthiness.

This week I read another mind-provoking article by Valeria Maltoni entitled “What Do We Do About Trust?”.  This led me to get a copy of a book mentioned in the article, The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman, which I devoured in a couple hours. If you have a couple of hours (plane trip, hot afternoon on the patio, etc.) I recommend this. It is relatively short, very well written and focused on the topic in a way that you can absorb and use.

I am utterly fascinated by all of the relationship, network, cognitive and behavioral topics that surround us as human beings in our society and how they influence and guide our businesses and personal lives. Whether psychological studies into why we act the ways we do as they apply and “infect” other areas of study (like Behavioral Economics…how this influences how we actually make choices, both as business owners and consumers, and being aware of the WHY of these actions), to the kinds of thought and work that can make your business more effective, including marketing, VACC (Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community) and content research/strategies, along with the kinds of cognitive bias that keep us from being as successful and happy (…frankly…) as we can be. Much like the world of physics crawling toward The Grand Unifying Theory of Everything (not to be confused with the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything…), I feel there are a lot of overlaps and supporting science and studies that lead to A Grand Unifying Theory of How We Actually Think and Get Along.

Continue reading

WANTED: Simple, Direct and Terrific Vision, Mission and Goals!

It’s enough to drive you nuts…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am working through the vision and goals for my business networking chapter. Having arrived at a pretty good idea of how these are different, I run across a number of online discussions about the difference between the vision and the mission.

Sigh….so, I can either ignore this or continue my research and discover if there is anything here that will help me and my team come up with something that will truly help our group.  I’m always up for learning more, so here we go!

Continue reading

What is the Remarkable Power of a Daring Vision?

I’ve been thinking a lot about vision and goals lately. As the incoming president of my business networking chapter, I’ve been meeting with the outgoing leaders, my leadership team, our regional leadership, and other strong leaders and leadership coaches within the organization, as well as talking with other leaders (not to mention the guidance and advice available from so many in books and online….). I keep pulling back, looking for simplicity and clarity….an awareness of the possible while casting my thoughts wider to “Why?” and larger destinations and possibilities.

The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals is pretty well known. As a review, S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific – Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you’re going to do.
  • Measurable – Goals should be measurable. In this way you have tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished them. These can include the Big Goal measurement as well as measured milestones.
  • Achievable – Goals should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve them.
  • Results-focused (or Relevant) – Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
  • Time-bound – Goals should be linked to a time-frame of some kind that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the desired end-state. Keep in mind the Achievable aspect of the goal when setting the time-frame, of course.

Vision is a different kind of animal. Very different. Setting a goal for monthly sales or post engagement on Facebook for the quarter is not a vision. When building goals we tend to look at the recent past as a starting point and build on that (or, if starting something new, look at a similar process, product or business, try to extrapolate an “oranges to tangerines” comparison…not exact, but close enough…). Creating an effective vision means freeing myself from my existing reality and think broadly of possibilities and destinations. This is not “pie-in-the-sky” dreaming, but a deep look at an ideal future. Several writers I have come across lately use Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I Have A Dream” speech as an example of visionary leadership. While his goals within that speech included a number of the steps that would be needed to make headway toward the vision, the vision was So Much Bigger. He described exactly what the American scene would look like when the full impact of his goals were felt and implemented. One famous section is:

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

In your mind’s eye you can see what that looks like! It is so much more grand that the end points of a number of goals.

Goals may be ambitious by themselves. A big one mentioned by another writer was when President John F. Kennedy committed the country to placing a man on the moon and returning him by the end of the 1960s. Huge Goal! But what came after? Other than getting there and back again, what else was there? Hence the problem of coming up with a compelling vision for further space travel and exploration (although a number of futurists, respected scientists and writers try). There is, at present, no strong, heart-stirring vision for exploration and travel that we can, as a society, turn to and say, “That’s it! Let’s go!”

Apply this exercise to your business. When you sat down and created your business plan, you undoubtedly created goals, milestones, and outlined some measurable processes to reach those goals. But, speaking to your vision, why are you actually in business? What does your community, your industry, your world look like as a result of you having created this business, provided what you provide to your customers, and spent so much time and so many resources on its success?

Is your vision a “shining city on a hill”? You can make it so.

How To Solve the Biggest Problem with Diversity

There was an item on the local news the other night that I found fascinating. A number of students at the university campus were holding a rally advocating for a Diversity Center as a gathering place that would acknowledge the diversity of the campus and provide a place and programs that would focus on that aspect of their identity.  Given the cash-strapped condition of higher education, my immediate thought was “re-inaugurate the Student Union as the Student Diversity Center and you’re done!”

As I let this information further settle, I began to wonder about the surface focus that our culture has taken in the intervening years between the concepts of Student Union and Student Diversity, what that says about our culture, and the dangers and opportunities this presents, both for our culture, and then, turning the thought on its side, for business.  Yeah, I have an exciting thought life….

Now What?!

Every business hits this wall at some time.

Whether your just starting out, ALMOST to profitability, have a “going concern” or are well-established, sooner or later something either organic (like growth of your customer base) or externally realized (your top salesperson and top delivery person get married and move out of the state), “Now What?!” happens to you.

How do you respond?

Continue reading

Disruption, recovery and space

While completing my Masters degree I was vicariously introduced to Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and his many works (a sample) concerning disruptive innovation.   Greatly interesting stuff and

Disruption

Disruption (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

required reading for anyone in business or those who are creative and wish to understand the business world’s take on how this is perceived and understood, as well as the potential effects thereof.

That said, disruption and innovation as buzzwords have become less exciting through overuse and misunderstanding by some technologists and businesses, particularly as they apply to their organizations.  While, as Bill Gates has said, today’s business goes “at the speed of thought”, and agility is critical, there seems to be a lack of understanding concerning the fragility of organizations consisting of people executing on previous editions of goals, commitments, hierarchies and business models.  There are degrees of change that can be accomplished that help alter the direction of a business, a ‘mid-course correction’ on company strategy, if you will.  There are also methods and timings of rolling out these changes, or more radical degrees or types of change that will break an organization.
When considering disruptive change within a company, several areas should be considered. Along side the change, whether to strategy, execution or model, leadership should realistically assess:
(A) How long has it been since the last disruptive change to the organization?
(B) How long it will take to affect the change completely?
(C) How long will the ‘after change stabilization’ take?
(D) How much lost productivity can the organization withstand while the stabilization takes place and the company can begin executing effectively on the new direction?
(E) How clearly do the members of the organization understand the reasoning driving the disruption and can they clearly see the value of the strategy?
(F) What is the degree of ambiguity this will create for all interested parties – customers, partners, shareholders, communities…..everyone….and what is required to manage it through the disruption?

The horse race

Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. P...

Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was recently discussing the pros and cons of various personnel review and commitment systems/styles with a close colleague of mine. She was saying something like, “It’s just like a horse race.  One year you put your all into the race and win.  The next year you put just as much effort and work into the race as the year before, if not more, and nine others finish ahead of you.”  The implication is that this gives the folks putting on the race the impetus to……what? Give last year’s horse sugar for running a great race? Trying the horse at different races? Retiring the horse to pasture?

It seems that the climate in many organizations implies a future involving a glue factory.  Why is this?

Continue reading