People often ask me about the most important piece of advice I would pass along to anyone and everyone as they do what they do in their world of work. Well…my single suggestion would be: REINVENTION!
What do I mean by REINVENTION?
REINVENTION is one of those progressive positioning points-of-view that requires that no matter what you do…who you are working with…or when you are providing strategic help…that your advice must always be somehow new! People, organizations, and businesses all need FRESH observations on what to do next. This does not mean that they should change who they are (because authenticity is important), but instead, they should always be looking for that REINVENTION suggestion that allows them to somehow find that “new special” in their service, product or action.
REINVENTION just like innovation…just like entrepreneurship…is a unique approach to blending thoughtfulness, intelligence, professionalism, creativity, and authenticity into a new road map to your future. REINVENTION is also one of those life recipes that require appropriate time to season, blend, and appropriately mature.
Do you understand?
Have you, your company, or your organization ever been part of or offered the opportunity to participate in a “full-blown” case study? If so was it a good experience…or were you totally concerned about what an in-depth case study would show? Did you try to control what information was studied in an attempt to control the outcome? Or did you just decline the opportunity and conclude: “What I don’t know won’t hurt me!”
Well, I believe that as our economy, workforce, customer-base and technologies fluctuate and change (faster every day), the value of at least conducting your own Self-Evaluation/Case Study is a prime time responsibility. The level of “formality” that you employ is totally at your discretion…but in an effort to motivate everyone, here is a TOP 10 list of real-time Case Study areas.
- Are the same number and type of customers coming through your doors for service?
- If there are differences in the customer-base…what have you done to respond to these differences?
- Do you use available technologies to maximize your effectiveness and efficiencies?
- Would customers exiting your business/organization be able to identify/describe/show the product value(s) of your service?
- Are “seasoned” employees up to date on product/service/procedure issues?
- Are new employees fully oriented to feel “complete & competent” in their positions?
- Would data reflect that your current marketing techniques are effective?
- Would customers describe you/your business/your organization as indispensable to your service areas?
- How would you/your employees rank your/their satisfaction with “how things are going”?
- If an economic development professional was assigned to you/your company/your organization as a result of the outcomes of a Self-Evaluation/Case Study…what would they recommend as improvements?
The questions are tough…so is professional discomfort. But cool progress is priceless.
If someone asked you to offer a “talk” about YOU…where you grew up…your time in school…the job decisions you considered…the mistakes…the achievements…the special times…could you do it? This month’s Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast explains and encourages why Telling Your Career Story…is priceless. Listen closely and I know you will agree.
Today one often hears comments about work ethic and how today’s young people don’t seem to have the same level as generations past. True or false…these types of observations have caused me to reflect on who had the greatest impact on developing my work ethic.
Quality: My Grandfather Nick, who would hoe a field of beans over and over so NO weeds would ever be found.
Responsibility: My Dad who only gave an order once…and YOU knew what your job was and who was expected to get it done.
Efficiency: Frank, one of my early “Bosses” who made you learn on-time/multi-tasking early and often.
Effectiveness: My first “real” job with a community action agency where I tried to make a positive difference for every person I served.
Specialness: Creativity, innovation and the pursuit of establishing YOUR SPECIAL was encouraged by my long-time friend and mentor Dr. B.
Leadership: My core leadership work ethic principles were “planted” by a quiet-spoken, country-style small county commissioner…Cal. He prioritized getting and keeping everyone involved.
But wait…wasn’t/isn’t the topic: Work Ethic MAINTENANCE!
As you mature in the world-of-work I believe your work ethic time-appropriately evolves and is now principally maintained by YOUR PERSONAL EXAMPLE SETTING. Yes, you will still look for examples of Quality, Responsibility, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Specialness, and Leadership, however, the work ethic spotlight now falls more on YOU to set and be a great example.
Therefore, as always…don’t waste this legacy building opportunity!
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.
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.
In 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!
One 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Communicate an EXACT start time and an EXACT end time for the “Teaming” session…prior to start-up.
- Require that paper, pens or pencils MUST be brought to the room for note-taking.
- Specify that NO technology (i.e. cell phones or laptops) are allowed in the room.
- Announce immediately at session start-up that: “THIS is what we want to accomplish!’ No sidetrack topics will be added.
- If possible, write on a whiteboard or flip chart the 1-5 discussion priorities related to the topic.
- Require each “TEAMING-TIME” member to offer a 1-2-minute opening statement about their interest/role/hopes for the session.
- Drive discussions with a sense of urgency to arrive at a solid outcome.
- Set an example of effective and efficient time management for the session.
- Retain a goal of simple understand-ability for decisions/actions that result from the session.
- 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.
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.