Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fantasy Team Selection

It’s time to create a fantasy football team according to the talking heads at ESPN. This is where you get to act like a general manager and create/manage a professional football team. You draft, trade and change your team to the rules of the league you are involved. There are over 20 million people playing fantasy football! Lots of people enjoying fantasizing!

I don’t do fantasy football for several reasons:

  • lack of interest
  • not willing to make time
  • real life football seems to have enough fantasy - witness the NFL lockout
  • I get confused with all the reality and fantasy stuff on television - the lines are getting blurry!

I’d love to create a fantasy United States congress! My fantasy congress would have term limits. Eight years maximum for congressmen/women and twelve years maximum for senators. People running for congress could only spend a certain amount of money to get into office and no money could come from special interests or political action committees. Congress members and their staffs would have to get health insurance just like the rest of America. Potential members of congress would have to demonstrate that he/she was principled, moral, trustworthy, courteous, of sound character, willing to sacrifice through deed and action and possessed a conscience. Most of all, my fantasy congress would have members who understood and practiced the art of compromise.

I’d love to create a fantasy Wall Street! My fantasy Wall Street would have organizations that were long-run oriented rather than short-term focused. To be a part of Wall Street, members would have to demonstrate accountability in everything as well as the product or service they delivered. Wall Street organizations would have financial practices that even someone with a sixth grade education could understand. Wall Street team members (especially CEOs) would have caps on salaries. Perhaps they could only earn 25 times what their lowest employee made rather than 900 times as some CEOs earn. CEOs and other key management people would be required to go undercover to see how their front line people worked.

My ultimate fantasy has to do with work teams. My fantasy work team would be made up of people who understood the difference between leadership and management. People with micromanagement tendencies would get coaching or would be asked to leave. Every member of the team would be given the opportunity to lead according to his/her gifts, talents, passions and strengths. Team members would be encouraged to take risks and stretch without fear of failure. They would be empowered not just in word but in action. There would be no stupid questions or stupid ideas. Each team member would be encouraged to grow. Trust would be unbelievably high leading to deeper respect, clearer communication and better understanding. Competition would morph into coopetition. Team members could openly share their weaknesses, pain and shame without fear of being ridiculed. When conflict arose, the team members would not triangulate but work constructively to resolve issues. Consequently, collaboration would flow and team members would be in the zone. Team members would not only be excited to come to work, but be willing to give their best. Change would be taken in stride and transitions would be smooth. Work/life balance would be so remarkable that stress would be healthy and team members would be seen as having a life beyond work.

What is your fantasy team? How would you make your fantasy team into a reality team?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Formula(s) for Success

I’m a prolific snail-mail-handwritten-note-sender. I blame this on my mother! Growing up in the Carr home, it was a rule that when anyone did something for you ... give you a present, have you over for dinner, etc ... you hand wrote a thank you note within seven days. Needless to say, New Year’s Eve day was crunch time to write thank you notes for Christmas presents or you did not go out New Year’s Eve!

Note writing continued on when I got into sales after college. I’d write notes to customer’s not only thanking them for orders, but when I’d see articles about them in the newspaper, saw something that I thought might be of interest to them or just re-establish our connections. Many customers who told me they not only appreciated my notes and sometimes my mailing was more effective than my sales call! It was one of my unique differences from my competition.

Chapter 9, (Four-Mula for Success) in Ray Considine’s book The Great Brain Robbery, further justified my handwritten notes to clients and customers! Considine’s formula for sales success was do four things in four different areas everyday including write four orders, make four sales calls, make four phone calls and create four mailings. On the days when you didn’t make enough sales calls or write enough orders, you created more mailings and make more phone calls. Sixteen events took place everyday. It truly was a sales formula for success.

I have learned anything scarce is valuable like diamonds, gold and handwritten snail mail notes! Scarce things touch hearts and impact relationships. Successful, life-changing formulas are scare as well.

Awesome formulas are important recipes for life. Formulas build relationships not only among things, but among people. Formulas help us to communicate better. Formulas help solve problems. They stabilize and celebrate success. Formulas can be the secret to executing a successful strategic plan. Successful formulas impact an organization’s ROI. What get’s celebrated get repeated!

Some formulas for success I have discovered...

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner’s, The Leadership Challenge, is a formula for successful leadership.

Six Thinking Hats, by Edward DeBono, is a formula using six conversations of importance for clear thinking and discussions.

Harrison Owen, Open Space Technology, is a very natural formula for people to come together and quickly find workable solutions to complex problems.

Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Business Creativity written by Michael Michalko, has formulas to stimulate innovation.

Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of Team has a formula for building a team.

Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging contains a formula for creating community.

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges, has a formula for dealing with change.

Finally, the Bible has all kinds of formulas for successful living including teaching us to love kindness, to seek justice and to be humble. It has a formula for being grateful for all circumstances and perhaps has the greatest formula for living with others, The Golden Rule.

What formula(s) are you usuing to creating a better life for yourself and those you serve?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Do You Have Time?

Time, time, time, see what's become of me

While I looked around

For my possibilities

I was so hard to please

Hazy Shade of Winter

Paul Simon, Bookends, 1968

Recently, I was asked to present a “time management” lunch and learn program. The program convener wanted me to cover the typical topics for more effective “time management” including the tried and true:

  • jumpstart your day ... get up an hour earlier
  • touch each piece of paper only once ... pass it on, file, scan or dispose
  • delegate and empower! (The challenge is knowing what to delegate and whom to empower!)
  • have a place for everything ... beware of stuff ... the more you have, the more space you need ... thus more to clean, repair and replace ... you can get more stuff, more money, but you can’t get more time
  • schedule appointments with yourself to get things done
  • perfectionism will drain you ... get over it
  • learn to say “NO”

When I inquired about the purpose and drive behind such a program, the response was vague. “It’s time! Rather than single some people out who need this training, we want to do a general training.”

“Time management” can be a sensitive topic. I’ve seen people become defensive and take “time-management” suggestions personally. Some come away feeling guilty and feeling like a victim. Some “blame-storm” others for their perceived weakness and shortcomings.

In response to sensitivity, we repackage “time management” into “time leadership,” “working smarter,” “resource management,” or “priority management” —billing these as a process to change old, bad habits with a new and improved twist! This only works if you have the will and perseverance to change. Like losing weight, tools and techniques are great, but what needs to change is behavior.

In Myers-Briggs Type Indicator language, this may be seen as an attempt by the Judgers (“J”) to get the Perceivers (“P”) into line! “J” teams and organizations are especially interested in getting all members on the “time management-agenda driven-checklist” way of work life.

David Cottell, author of Monday Morning Leadership, says it’s impossible to manage time. He suggests we learn to manage our attention. Maximize momentum by maximizing your attention. Everyone has time, but not everyone has the same attention.

Any form of managing one’s attention must begin with a personal vision. Your vision helps you to create your future and includes: one’s core values and beliefs (guiding principles); one’s purpose (why are you here?); a personal mission including goals, timeline and deadline. Design key initiatives and create metrics to achieve one’s mission. Without this in place, “time management” workshops miss a fundamental purpose ... to help execute one’s vision and the organization’s vision.

What get’s your attention?

What keeps your attention?

How much attention do you need for sleep?

How much attention do you need for exercise?

How much attention do you need for work to attend meetings, complete projects, and build relationships?

How much attention do you need to live your purpose?