Author Archives: Inspiring Innovations, Inc.

TRIPLE III TIME: Defining & Executing Expectations

Sometimes great, appropriate TRIPLE III TIME message topics just seem to present themselves…even though you quickly realize a certain professional development issue has been right in front of you for quite some time!  So, this week addressing the necessity of effectively Defining & Executing Expectations as a leader in a business or organization is our prime-time mission!

First, I want you to think about and be very self-critical when you ask: How clear and direct are you when defining your work expectations?  Given the expanded methods of job-related communications and the volume of information shared everyday, the likelihood of confusion and misdirection by your co-workers during execution is extremely high.simple

Next consider the multiple management personnel levels of directional interpretations that often are attached to numerous expectations.  No one is a great mind reader! So the probability of not understanding and meeting the expectations of all involved in executing a service delivery change is an almost logical assumption.

Third, it may sound odd…but offer a VISUAL whenever you can.  For example, as I recently provided final exam instructions to my college students on essay question answer quality, I held up a two-paragraph long document to make clear the expected minimum length of an acceptable “correct” answer. This visual was far more clear on the length of what was expected in their written answers than any words I could have used. (P.S. Great execution followed)

In today’s fast-paced, hi-tech, information overload world, it is leadership critical to apply SIMPLICITY when Defining & Executing Expectations.  I am NOT suggesting lowering your expectations…rather spend extra up-front time more simply defining what you want accomplished and then apply a similar simplicity plan for execution.  I believe you will be pleased with the outcomes.


thumbnail_IMG_7441In my April 2019 Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast, I included a segment entitled “If I ever get the chance…I will communicate better because EVERYBODY matters.”  I specifically stressed that you must never let the “GRAPEVINE” in your organization be wiser than your leader communication “MAINLINE”.

This simple phrase wonderfully sparked a number of positive responses…and even better requests for more discussion on this GRAPEVINE VS MAINLINE topic.  So, let me explain some of the considerations that follow this combination leadership and communication improvement area.

First good verbal and written communication minimize the use and value of the GRAPEVINE.  By utilizing a quality, consistent communication system within your organization…you will naturally draw everyone to the MAINLINE for accurate messages.

Second, it is important to realize that an organizations “secrets” are only secrets to those who believe there is a secret.  What am I trying to say? My point is that if a communication void occurs, the GRAPEVINE most often will fill in the secret blanks with misinformation and inaccurate assumptions about what the issue is or might be!  So, work hard to be proactive in your communication of new organizational actions/changes.  Eliminate the opportunity for the GRAPEVINE to take “center-stage”.

Third, maintaining a system of timely messaging is another GRAPEVINE VS MAINLINE challenge.  Waiting for the “perfect” time to communicate on an issue of organizational concern…only allows the GRAPEVINE to step-in and contribute to the frontline discussion.  Interestingly the GRAPEVINE may offer both good and bad information…but the problem is that the message does NOT come from the leader MAINLINE…which is the most important source!

Finally minimizing distribution of your MAINLINE message and only offering it to the “higher-ups” and not including the “ones-who-do-all-the-work” also enables the GRAPEVINE to negatively impact your communication goal.  Most often you get one first chance to get the word out…don’t short-change your MAINLINE opportunities.

BOTTOMLINE:  As I stated during my April 2019 podcast and repeated in the opening paragraph of this blog…NEVER let the GRAPEVINE in your organization be wiser than your leader communication MAINLINE!

TRIPLE III TIME: Personal Responsibility “EXERCISES”

Picture1exOne professional development topic that has been talked about forever in many sectors is the expectations that surround the term: Personal Responsibility.  In the consultant arena, the discussions most often center on the need for employees/students/co-workers to be more personally responsible for their activities/actions.  However, the potential suggestions or plans to directly improve someone’s Personal Responsibility capacities, often lack “enforce-ability” and therefore fall into that “good intentions” area of professional development.

Well, it is time to allow innovation to offer an alternative contribution to this age-old development challenge! So, outlined below are a TOP 10 List of Personal Responsibility “EXERCISES” that if applied correctly…could generate quality results!

  1. Personal Responsibility SIT-UPS

Personal Responsibility SIT-UPS would require everyone to volunteer to take on one new professional responsibility each week. The size of the new SIT-UPS responsibility would not be the main issue.  Instead the EXERCISE of identifying and assuming a special Personal Responsibility task would be the progressive SIT-UPS action.

  1. Personal Responsibility SPRINTS

Personal Responsibility SPRINTS would be organized to build everyone’s “sense of urgency” responses to matters requiring timely action.  Specific timeframes would be applied to project/product assignments…therefore encouraging Personal Responsibility SPRINTS to occur in order to complete tasks in an efficient/effective manner.

  1. Personal Responsibility TOE-TOUCHING

Often professional development requires employers/students/co-workers to “go back…to go forward”. Personal Responsibility TOE-TOUCHING would focus on having everyone bending down and reaching back to their past experiences on an issue…pull out the positive (or the negatives) and apply them effectively to improve the new/current progress issue.

  1. Personal Responsibility PULL-UPS

Personal Responsibility PULL-UPS would serve as an EXERCISE in developing group leadership skills.  Periodically assigning everyone to assume the leadership role for a project would be a solid Personal Responsibility PULL-UPS EXERCISE and facilitate the need to be a good prioritizer/scheduler/partner when leading.

  1. Personal Responsibility MARATHONER

Being assigned the role of Personal Responsibility MARATHONER would ensure that everyone would EXERCISE their professional development patience. Certain project/product assignments may require even a year to be completed.  Therefore, understanding the value of serving as a Personal Responsibility MARATHONER would offer a great example setting option to others in your organization on the benefits of appropriately applying progressive patience .

  1. Personal Responsibility CRUNCHING

Sometimes being personally responsible requires you to say “NO” to an idea/action/project!  Allowing personnel to hide from this type of responsibility is not appropriate.  Therefore, establishing an organized means of ensuring everyone must EXERCISE Personal Responsibility CRUNCHING is a natural area of professional development.

  1. Personal Responsibility JUMPING JACKS

Taking personal responsibility for organizational promotion is the exclusive purpose for including Personal Responsibility JUMPING JACKS in this EXERCISE list.  Sometimes it is just everyone’s responsibility to find their special way to “spread-the-word” and/or “brag” about who you are or what you do as an organization.  Ensuring all participate in Personal Responsibility JUMPING JACKS will build organizational strength.

  1. Personal Responsibility POWER WALKS

Personal Responsibility POWER WALKS would be customized professional development EXERCISES that enable everyone to confidently “walk-past” non-positive, repetitive, minutia and progress hindering conversations (enough said!)

  1. Personal Responsibility PUSH-UPS

Effectively completing Personal Responsibility PUSH-UPS is the toughest of all professional development EXERCISES!  PUSH-UPS require everyone to listen…listen…listen more…listen better…and listen completely.  This Personal Responsibility PUSH UP EXERCISE will then enable everyone to “push-up” employees/students/co-workers by better understanding their issues and make suggestions of progress and continuous improvement.

  1. Personal Responsibility YOGA

The final…but most important professional development Personal Responsibility EXERCISE is YOGA.  EVERYONE…yes EVERYONE needs to practice stretching their work-life (and home-life) service capacities, idea-generation, product upgrades, innovation concepts, etc. Personal Responsibility YOGA would require everyone to stretch, bend, reach, extend and dream…because everyone can help build their own future.

This TRIPLE III TIME message is a little longer than normal…so maybe take each EXERCISE as a separate message and make it count for you and those around you.

Learning Moments Podcast: “If I Ever Get the Chance…”


This month’s LEARNING MOMENTS podcast is a fun message about possibly keeping those promises you suggest every time you say: “If I Ever Get The Chance…”

Just to help I offer a few ideas of my own based on real-life experiences.  Be sure to listen closely and maybe even listen a couple times to gather in the special thoughts.




Have you noticed the extra challenges that seem to make “TEAMING TIME” tougher to achieve in today’s world-of-work? Think about it.  As you work hard to assemble maybe 3-10 co-workers/associates/colleagues to work together on solving a problem or to strategize on a cool development issue…doesn’t it seem like a “distraction virus” has infected the room?

What am I describing…let me offer these visuals:

  • Only some arrive on time
  • Some forget to bring something to write with and/or write on
  • Some bring only laptops
  • Some bring only cell phones
  • Some immediately ask: “How long will this last?”
  • Some comment: “This isn’t my job area!”
  • Some even bring other “regular” work to spend time on

I know you all know what I mean.

I believe Leadership…strong LEADERSHIP is critical to achieve quality “TEAMING- TIME” in the 21st Century.  And rather than spend valuable TRIPLE III TIME message space explaining why this is the case…how about a TOP 10 list of progressive “TEAMING-TIME” concepts.

  1. Communicate an EXACT start time and an EXACT end time for the “Teaming” session…prior to start-up.
  2. Require that paper, pens or pencils MUST be brought to the room for note-taking.
  3. Specify that NO technology (i.e. cell phones or laptops) are allowed in the room.
  4. Announce immediately at session start-up that: “THIS is what we want to accomplish!’ No sidetrack topics will be added.
  5. If possible, write on a whiteboard or flip chart the 1-5 discussion priorities related to the topic.
  6. Require each “TEAMING-TIME” member to offer a 1-2-minute opening statement about their interest/role/hopes for the session.
  7. Drive discussions with a sense of urgency to arrive at a solid outcome.
  8. Set an example of effective and efficient time management for the session.
  9. Retain a goal of simple understand-ability for decisions/actions that result from the session.
  10. Announce that everyone’s thoughts/opinions matter…so hiding during the “TEAMING-TIME” session will not be allowed.

If these suggestions sound old-fashioned…THEY ARE!  Pure “TEAMING-TIME” mostly requires caring people…that lead.


TRIPLE III TIME: Public Sector Entrepreneurship: PART II

Long ago as a young professional working in the public sector…the term entrepreneurship was never expressed in any segment of my world of work.  But make no mistake, chasing non-traditional creative and innovative pilot projects, unique program waiver options and/or designing new public service opportunities as demonstration initiatives, were an everyday…EVERYDAY job/career pursuit.

Well, today so much has changed and I am pleased to share my latest American Society for Public Administration PATimes article entitled: Public Sector Entrepreneurship: PART II.  It is a continuous piece on encouraging innovation and creativity in all public sector employment opportunities.  I hope you enjoy the special examples.

Entrepreneurship Part II

Public Sector Entrepreneurship: PART II

TRIPLE III TIME: “Planting Seeds”

For those who are regular readers of my TRIPLE III TIME blog messages, you are assuming that this “Planting Seeds” message will be a fun tale about my Dad, spring planting season, and why it is important to begin tomorrows work!  Well…you are wrong.

Today we are going to take a survey and think professionally WHO supports you by “Planting Seeds” for your development.  Then at the same time…look around and consider those who you may influence by “Planting Seeds” in your workplace, at home or during regular conversations with friends and family.

To be more specific, how often do you use “Planting Seeds” words like:

  • Quality matterssoil-2561136__340
  • Calculated risk-taking
  • Investigating for tomorrow
  • Influencing decisions
  • Driving the conversation
  • Experience-based learning
  • Everyone’s a leader
  • Remembering your roots
  • Not always about the money

I believe it is critical to remember the impact you can have by “Planting Seeds” that are positive and progressive everyday…EVERYDAY!  Don’t waste this opportunity to make a quiet undeniable daily difference.

TRIPLE III TIME: Managing Negativity

One of the most challenging responsibilities of a leader is Managing Negativity in the workplace. Many times…unfortunately…there is one person in your business or agency that complains about their job, whines about change actions, spreads misinformation about leadership decisions, or all of the above…and maybe more.  The result is an ongoing leadership time management dilemma and a need to effectively decide how much time and energy should be dedicated to this often-single Managing Negativity issue?!

scalesWell, my advice/recommendation in this TRIPLE III TIME message comes from my career experience as an organizational leader and my consulting learning moments.  When you think about Managing Negativity…think FIRST about ALL of the people you manage.  Second, determine the percentage this negative person (or persons) make up of your total workforce.  For example, one (1) of ten (10) equals 10% or two (2) of fifty (50) equals 4%.  Then ask yourself: Am I dedicating as much leadership time Managing Negativity as I am managing/leading the other 9 or 48 working with me who are doing GREAT?

I believe…I know it is critical for those in leadership positions to try extremely hard to use an “equal-time” guide when Managing Negativity. Those who are trying hard and doing well will appreciate the progressive attention and development time with you.  Those practicing negativity will receive no more than “their fair share” of your leadership time and may realize that they are not attaining the special attention they seek.  Instead their non-productive habits are causing them to become more distanced from you, co-workers and yes, their job.

Managing Negativity is not easy…but being a great leader isn’t always easy either.



Partnerships…PURE PARTNERSHIPS are often the key to high value, long-term personal and professional relationships. Continually enhancing current and developing new partnerships is just the right thing to do! Hopefully, this PURE PARTNERSHIPS LEARNING MOMENTS podcast offers a few helpful hints along this path.



TRIPLE III TIME: “Evaluation Learning 101”

This week I have been involved in a special evaluation project with a long-time partner organization. As you can guess evaluation has not been my career-long area of interest.  Mostly I love being on the front-creative end of any project… instead of researching and measuring how it went.  However, this time the evaluation event caused me to look back to my farm roots to better realize missed Evaluation Learning 101 opportunities with my Dad

thumbnail_image1Dad was always a cautious risk-taker.  Whether the challenge was crops, livestock, or farm machinery…he was always ready to try something different. I remember tractors.  John Deere, Massey Ferguson, International, and even a David Brown.  As a young man, it was fun to work with them, test them and see what was special about each.  But interestingly, I never knew what Dad thought…nor did he ever ask me?  This absence of Evaluation Learning 101 conversation is the point of this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message.

There is a tremendous amount of Evaluation Learning 101 that never occurs due to a lack of communication.  Think about it.  Do you have regular communication about unique sales techniques you used that worked great?  If you helped a person with a ton of challenges get a start-up job through special coaching time…do all of your co-workers know?  Or if you partnered with a new group to have greater access to all kind of cool resources… did you share your strategy?

I wish Dad had shared his Evaluation Learning 101 process for measuring options and opportunities.  YOUR Evaluation Learning 101 experiences have lifetime value.  So share your Evaluation Learning 101 occurrences every time you can.  Waiting for a better time to share may never come.

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