The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Archive for the ‘Seers, Sooth Sayers, & Committees’ Category

Department transfer…

I’ve been spending so much time in the Department of Unintended Consequences lately, I’m wondering if I’ve been transferred awaiting the paperwork?

One of the (many) things I really like about my job is at my company personal initiative is encouraged.  In fact, our CEO has coined the sound bites, “take the hill”, and “we must” and offers examples of employee initiative during his quarterly “All Hands” meetings.  Of course, a minor downside to “taking the hill” is occasionally things don’t turn out quite the way we originally envisioned.

Recently, I was “taking the hill”.  Has this happened to you?  You know, you’re trying to “go the extra mile”; do something “new and improved”; because “we must”; and Boom!  Word is received from the Department of Unintended Consequences (aka DUC!)  I tried to duck, but too late:

Harrison’s Postulate:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. 

Unknown Sage

It started off benign enough; I had formulated a plan for a local client gathering.  My VP and our Regional Managers had been speculating about a “Client Day” for months.  Well, after “talking about it”, I decided I would “take the hill” and make it happen.  Someone yell, “DUC”!

As it turns out, my colleagues apparently expected me to form a committee first.  I think everyone wanted to offer their input on how to do an event.  My bad – I actually know how to do events.  And I don’t do well in committees:

Another mystery commonly observed by committee pathologists is that the time consumed in debate is dominated by those with the least to offer. 

Norman R. Augustine

The first word from the Department of Unintended Consequences came from one of my colleagues.  She was now thinking that doing a client gathering was a bad idea.  She wanted to know who authorized me to “take the hill”.  Huh?  And the committee was assembled.

Turns out, the committee is not insulated from the Department of Unintended Consequences, either.  What started as an idea for a local, casual, inexpensive event now morphed into something where clients and Regional Managers were flying in from all corners of North America.  The increase in size and expense now meant we needed to revisit the agenda.  Yep, word from DUC:  Lots of people wanted speaking parts.

Thankfully, my VP knows me well enough to shield me from the committee.  He served as my delegate.  You see, I try to execute with excellence in order to avoid criticism.  He knows that I don’t react well to criticism.  However, when I do get criticized (Because none of us are immune, true?); I seek counsel from the wise:

The incident of an undersized lawyer in an acrimonious stump debate with the massive Robert Toombs.  Toombs called out, “Why, I could button your ears back and swallow you whole.”  The little fellow retorted, “And if you did, you would have more brains in your stomach than you ever had in your head.”

Abraham Lincoln

But I digress 🙂

The client day event turned out well; the Regional Managers participated and enjoyed themselves; the agenda was modified to accommodate speaker requests; and the hill was taken!

However, we did receive word from the Department of Unintended Consequences after the event – I had misspelled the company on a client’s name tent.  He emailed the entire committee a cell phone picture of my error; probably posted it to social media, too.  Someone yell, “DUC”!


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Management and the NBA…

I was thinking about the start of the NBA season recently, when I received an email from my company’s CEO.  He was informing all of the employees that it was that time of year again where each employee will be receiving a survey that Top Management will use to get an indication of how things are going from the “front line”.

I appreciate the fact that our CEO is interested enough in our view points that he would take the time and invest the money to conduct an employee survey through a confidential and independent firm.  However, it did make me wonder if in today’s electronic, wired world Tom Peters’ approach of “management by walking around” is dead?

Of course, were I in our CEO’s role I might wonder about the candor and intentions behind the responses I will receive.  Hopefully, Scott Adams’ perspective won’t apply:

As far as I can tell, every layer of management exists for the sole purpose of warning us about the layer above.

Scott Adams

There tends to be a natural tension between employees and management, true?  In most cases that tension helps drive the overall company to new heights.  However, according to our favorite Unknown Sage sometimes that tension can be a distraction:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” 

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.” 

“You must be an engineer”, said the balloonist.  “I am”, replied the woman, “How did you know”? 

“Well”, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.” 

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”  “I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know”? 

“Well”, said the woman, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.   You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

Well, at least that manager and that employee were talking.  Good things come when management and employees communicate.

During the final seconds of an especially tense game, Boston Celtics coach K.C. Jones called a time-out.  As he gathered the players together at courtside, he diagrammed a play, only to have Larry Bird say, “Get the ball out to me and get everyone out of my way.”  Jones responded, “I’m the coach, and I’ll call the plays!”  Then he said, “Get the ball to Larry and get out of his way.”  It just shows that when the real leader speaks, people listen. 

John C. Maxwell

Whether my CEO or the NBA, when we listen in the pursuit of excellence above pride – the sky (or an NBA Championship) is the limit!


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Web meetings:  “strangers” meeting with “strangers”, discussing strategy – can you relate?  You’re invited to a meeting; log in on time; then wait for the key participants to appear – with the usual excuse, “Sorry, my previous meeting ran over.”

Starting without introductions, agenda, or objective, one of the meeting speakers launches in to a campaign speech about the strategic importance of x, y, or z.  We patiently listen – not knowing exactly why we’re there; unprepared to contribute; we start wondering what’s going on in our email in box – so we open up a second window.  Let the web-meeting-multi-tasking commence!

As we run over the allotted time (making that key person late for his next meeting), things are hastily concluded with a battle cry, “Let’s take the hill!” and we adjourn; leaving the meeting without assigning tasks; next steps; roles; or responsibilities.

Today’s virtual, web meetings remind me of Arthur Black’s perspective on systems development:

The stages of Systems Development

  1. Wild enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Total confusion
  4. Search for the guilty
  5. Punishment of the innocent
  6. Promotion of the non-participants

The other day I attended 3 web meetings like this.  Yep, it was a three-fer!

The first meeting started the usual way:  no introductions; sans-agenda; absent objectives.  We were gathered to discuss, “the most unique and important, new opportunity we have ever pursued!”  Tim started the meeting; Jim hijacked the talking stick for a 30 minute, self-serving campaign speech on the strategic work he has completed so far; the path he will lead us all on; and how we must break down our internal, departmental boundaries so he can lead us to a new-new world.

A few others added their hoorahs and the meeting ended without assigning tasks; timeframes; roles; or responsibilities.   I never did find out who Jim was.  So I thought about Norman R. Augustine’s perspective:

Another mystery commonly observed by committee pathologists is that the time consumed in debate is dominated by those with the least to offer.

Reeling from the question, “Why was I there?” I was called into another, ideation meeting.  There were no introductions, no clear agenda, but there was a nice campaign speech.  I offered the first idea (mistakenly thinking that’s what one does at an ideation meeting) and was immediately shot down.  No one else spoke up after that.  I don’t remember much more (but I did catch up on email).

That afternoon – the trifecta.  Bypassing introductions (honoring our new ritual of strangers meeting with strangers) we actually had 5 agenda items; of course, only time for 1, so we ran 30 minutes over; and ended with clean in boxes and without tasks; timeframes; roles; or responsibilities.

The main discussion was around improving an existing program that is getting rave reviews from our clients.  In fact, the senior executive in the meeting stated the feedback he receives has been nothing less than this program is “the best our clients have ever participated in”!

Since it is working so well – we decided to improve it.  Reminds me of John M. Capozzi’s perspective:

In all my years in business, I have found that people in meetings tend to agree on decisions that as individuals, they know are dumb.

I think that’s also called Stage 3 on Arthur Black’s list.  Running off to our next meetings (late), we departed without assigning tasks, but took a moment to salute the battle cry, “Let’s take the hill”!


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Leadership inverted…

I have commented often about selling in the 21st century; aka selling to the “Modern Buyer”; aka “Selling in Reverse”.  I believe leadership works differently in this century too.  Gone are the days where “corporate oversight” increases employee productivity:

Corporate Staff: 

Known in some quarters as Sea Gulls for reasons relating to their propensity to fly round the country leaving their mark wherever they have alighted. 

Norman R. Augustine

It has been said many times before me that a person chooses to join a good company; while that same person chooses to quit a bad manager.  In today’s workplace, “we the people” are truly the ones getting the job done, don’t you think?  Often in spite of our managers and leaders.  Back to Norman:

But all things finally began to move when the threat of help from headquarters was received. 

Thankfully, I work for a stellar manager.  He sets the course; he prioritizes; he inspects what he expects; and he lets his staff get the job done.  “Doing” is what we excel at.  And he gives us the framework and then expects us to be excellent.  In turn, we each motivate our peers – and hold each other accountable for the team’s performance.

A good boss is always a blessing. 

D. Michael Abrashoff

Some might think this is “self-directed”, but that phrase implies individualism.  My manager models “leadership inverted” – the team leverages the collective strengths of our individual contributors – and he benefits from being less “tops down”; more “inverted”.

But as a manager, how will we know if our inverted leadership approach is working?  Well, here’s a memo one of my colleagues left his teammates (and manager) before being transferred:

I need your help.

Not only would I ask that you continue to be AWESOME in your day to day activities at work and at home, amongst your colleagues and your families, but I ask that as a group of people whom I greatly respect and depend on, you help me achieve my potential AWESOMENESS. 

If you ever find yourself wishing you or parts of your life were more AWESOME, stop. 

Take a time out and recognize that AWESOME isn’t a wish, a hope or a dream.

It’s not a destination or even a journey. 

It’s neither a talent, nor a skill and definitely not a matter of luck.

It’s not a plan, an interest or a strategy.

The opposite of impossible, and the antithesis of all things bad, AWESOME is an understanding.

It’s a channeling and an amalgamation of your internal energy and the external forces of the world. 

AWESOME is a choice. 

When you choose AWESOME, you become AWESOMENESS.

That AWESOMENESS powers the universe.

It inspires the masses, cures the sick, empowers the weak, protects the vulnerable, and feeds the hungry.

AWESOMENESS acts as a catalyst to impact the world in an AWESOME fashion.

It’s not a right or a privilege; it’s a commitment, a duty, a toil for which no material payment can compensate. 

Your job is to be AWESOME. 

By being AWESOME, you allow others to be AWESOME.

The repercussions of which allow the powers of AWESOMENESS to spread across the globe.

Being AWESOME + helping others be AWESOME = an AWESOME world. 

If you ever find yourself wishing you or parts of your life were more AWESOME, stop.  And just be AWESOME. 

Sincerely yours in AWESOMENESS,


I’d say that’s what leadership inverted looks like – and I’d say it’s AWESOME!


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Ever heard of it?  Me neither.  And I definitely could not spell it.  So if you have it – beware – today may be one of “those days”.  Today, you might need to get a helmet!  According to our indispensable knowledge source, Wikipedia:

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen)

Are you superstitious?  Will this Friday be unlucky for you?  I’ve never been one to be superstitious; especially if my quota month; quarter; or sales year ended on a Friday the 13th.  I needed all of the days possible to reach my goals.

It’s interesting to observe how our fellow men, women, and children respond to life’s challenges and risks.  Each in our own way have a “Cross to bear”, true?  And when the burden seems too big to bear, how do we respond?  Blame it on bad luck; superstition; Friday the 13th?  Perhaps there are other options that will help get us through.

Superstition; risk; luck – they are all different but perhaps related when dealing with life’s challenges and related business risks.  Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the legendary business executive credited with leading the creation of the once powerhouse automotive entity General Motors, offers us his perspective:

The problem with risk is that it is… risky.  The extent of risk can sometimes be quantified but the fact is that when the calculation is completed, there is an irreducible element of luck involved when a risk is taken.

General Motors has certainly been facing great risk and difficult times in recent years.  From the federal government bailout; the decline of the city of Detroit; to record recalls of defective vehicles, maybe the current CEO of GM, Mary T. Barra, is unlucky.  Was she promoted to the CEO role on a Friday by chance?

But let’s return to the term friggatriskaidekaphobia.  It probably was not a word used in the recent National Spelling Bee.  Do you think those teenage co-champions were lucky to win the contest this year?  Or, do you think they were prepared?  My favorite high school, boys cross country coach thinks this about luck:

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. 

Joe Newton

I’d wager those kids were prepared (vs. just being lucky) for their opportunity and the risk of the stiff competition.  And I’m OK if you insist we allow Alfred P. Sloan Jr. to add that, “when the calculation is completed, there is an irreducible element of luck involved when a risk is taken.”

We all face stiff competition today, don’t we?  Most people I know are working extra hard; pursuing goals; caring for their family; worrying about the risks; fearing the unknowns.  When dealing with life’s challenges, do we resort to counting on luck and superstition to get us through?

Back to the recent spelling bee – did you notice how many of the finalists were repeat finalists?   Several have competed before; came close to winning; and returned to pursue their dream of being the national champion.  James C. Collins might comment:

Luck favors the persistent.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia – I can’t spell it; didn’t even know about it until recently reading Wikipedia; but no worries – I don’t believe in it!  Put me in the prepared and persistent column of facing life’s challenges (and risks).  And yes – in case you are wondering – I drive a Ford.  How about you?


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Gary knows…

Somehow some of my clients seem to think I’m some sort of expert or something.  It’s funny how the perception of expertise unfolds in the sales profession.  Take T.S. Eliot; he knows:

The difference between being an elder statesman and posing successfully as an elder statesman is practically negligible.

Nonetheless, when they call me with questions and requests for advice – I do my best to help them.  First and foremost, I try to be responsive.  No one wants to wait for an answer these days, true?  When I don’t know the answer, I offer to help them research.  Research?  Who has time for research?  They usually prefer I guess:

Make three correct guesses consecutively, and you will establish a reputation as an expert.                           

Lawrence Peter

Accuracy vs. educated guesses – practically negligible from my clients’ perspective, I guess!  So if they guess, “Gary knows”; who am I to tell them about T.S. Eliot?

Truth be told, I’m as clueless as the next guy.  I’ve always been comfortable with being clueless, even around smart people.   Maybe the difference between comfortable and confident is practically negligible, too?

Take the office building I work out of.  We are completely surrounded by experts.  On the one side is IKEA.  Have you seen this cartoon circling around the Internet?  ‘nough said!


The rest of our office building is bordered by engineers and scientists from United Launch Alliance.  ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing; they design, manufacture, test, and launch our spaceships.  Experts!  Even so, I remained perfectly comfortable (and confident) mingling with them during a recent, joint office building picnic.  I particularly enjoyed reading their company T-shirts:

United Launch Alliance 

     Actually… it is rocket science!

No wonder IKEA chose to open their store nearby.

Of course, we must be careful with using that term, “expert”.  In my line of work, gaining a reputation of being an expert could simply come from guessing right.  In rocket science, we all hope the difference of their source of expertise is not practically negligible, don’t we?

And who do the experts call, when they need advice or an answer?  Our Unknown Sage offers this example from back in the day:

Charles Steinmetz (1865-1923) was a pioneering genius in harvesting electricity.  After he retired, Steinmetz’s former employers at General Electric occasionally relied on his brilliance. 

Such was the case when an intricate set of machines broke down.  In-house experts could not find the cause of this malfunction so GE leaders called Steinmetz. 

After testing various parts, Steinmetz finally pinpointed the problem and marked the defective part with a piece of chalk.  Steinmetz then submitted a bill for $10,000. 

Surprised at this unexpected high price, GE honchos asked Steinmetz to resubmit an itemized statement.  He complied with a new invoice that listed only two items: 


Making one chalk mark:       $      1.00

Knowing where to place it:    $ 9,999.00

Steinmetz would have made a great sales professional, wouldn’t he?  He might not have liked the path sales professionals take to become known as “experts” though:

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.                               

Niels Bohn

So feel free to call me for expert advice.  I’ll offer you my best guess, based on all of the mistakes I have made in my very narrow field – and my answer might just be right.  After all, sales is not rocket science!


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Mortarboard day…

Today is my granddaughter’s high school graduation day – hooray!  Earlier this week President Obama spoke at the West Point graduation; Vice President Biden spoke at the Air Force Academy graduation.

Me?  No mortarboard for me today; no honorary degree; no speech.  Just another working day – like a lot of us.

Here’s to the Bottom Half

During the drive from the meeting to the restaurant, Phil started the conversation.  “It’s too bad that they won’t have anyone available for our intern program until the start of the fall semester.”

The consultant replied, “I’d like to get the name of that senior he said he was about to meet with to tell him that he won’t be graduating next week.  He’ll have to return for the fall semester to get his degree.  In my mind, he’s a prime candidate for a career in sales.”

Tosha, the Human Resource Manager accompanying Phil and the consultant asked, “You mean the young man who just failed one of his finals making him 2 credits short?” 

“Exactly” the consultant answered.  “He’d be perfect for your sales intern position.  He’s local; he’s probably available; and he’s just starting to get a dose of what the real world is going to be like after college. As they say, sales is what you do when you can’t do anything else.” 

Phil responded,  “Even if the college didn’t have the stipulation that eligible seniors must be in the upper 10% of their class, we certainly wouldn’t consider him; the Dean just said he’s in the bottom half of his class.  And we would never hire someone from the bottom half of their class.”

Phil’s last statement was made with his usual voice of authority.  A young professional, Phil was the Division Controller for a large, employer services company.  Phil had earned his MBA.  It’s a good bet that he finished his undergraduate and graduate work in the upper percentiles of his class, too.  So here he was, living proof of what has been suspected for quite some time about young men with MBA’s – seldom right, but never in doubt.

“You know Phil”, the consultant replied, “I graduated in the bottom half of my class.” A smile appearing on the consultant’s face.

Ah, the sweet sound of silence.  Here was this consultant that Phil’s boss had brought in to help implement key aspects of their strategic plan.  They had invited the consultant to join them today because he actually had real-world experience in operating a college intern program. (Real world experience? What a concept!)

     “Phil, that look on your face is worth today’s engagement” the consultant mused.  “Of course, I’m still going to send you my invoice.”  Over the past two years Phil, had developed a very nice working relationship with this consultant.  Although they often disagreed on minor points, there was a great deal of mutual respect and synergy towards the overall business objectives. 

     Over lunch, the three of them had a nice chuckle over Phil’s facial expression when he discovered that the consultant they had been paying handsomely and quite frankly relying on for the successful execution of their strategic plan had graduated in the bottom half of his class. 

It may not have changed the student’s situation, but it probably helped confirm what Division Controllers have suspected for quite some time too – a consultant is just some guy from out of town, with a briefcase.

Life – to be continued, after graduation!


Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Qualifying, Clarifying, or Guessing?

One of my mentors Joe Carusi, recommended I read the book, Selling is Dead© by Marc Miller to help clarify how buyers buy today.  Catchy little title, yes?  I highly recommend it to any B2B sales professional.  Marc Miller’s main point is we should understand the type of buyer-demand we’re facing, and once understood, use the appropriate selling tactics.

Understanding the buyer-demand; focus on the prospect more than the deal – what a concept!

Qualifying is more difficult than guessing, yes?  Knowing which prospects (aka “Buyers”) to pursue and which prospects (aka “Lookers”) to nurture is a challenge, true?  The former make decisions while the latter represent the “long lose”.  The former have a decision-making body, with decision-criteria, and an approval process.  The latter just want a demo and a quote.

It’s hard to stay focused on the prospect.  Sometimes we get so focused on the “deal” that we do a poor job of picking up the subtleties the prospect offers.  It’s easy to get caught “guessing” that they are qualified and just focus on winning the deal; getting to the approval process.

Sales Management likes to “help” us qualify our deals too, don’t they?  Of course, everyone wants to talk about the prospect’s approval process.  I wrote a little ditty about approval processes (see The Approval-Process).  Sales professionals live and breathe approval processes.

As defined by

Live and breathe something 

If you live and breathe an activity or subject, you spend most of your time doing it or thinking about it because you like it so much.

I suppose we only “like” living and breathing the approval process when we win the deal, true?  The “looonnnggg looossse”?  We hate living and breathing through those approval processes!

Sales training from the last century taught us “BANT” – Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe.  Not much there about understanding buyer-demand.  Yes, I am reminded that the “A” and the “N” are supposed to be about the prospect.  I’m simply asking whether we focus on the prospect; or the deal?

Let’s take a closer look at the “A” – Authority.  When we speak with our prospects, we often ask, “Mr. Prospect, in addition to yourself who else will be involved in this very important decision?”  Perhaps we don’t believe Arthur W. Radford’s advice:

A decision is the action an executive must take when he has information so incomplete that the answer does not suggest itself. 

Is the information we provide complete?  Does our solution “suggest itself”?  Do we understand their “Need”?  Can there be dissent?  And if there is dissent, do we panic?  Press?  Discount?

Alfred Sloan, Chairman and CEO of General Motors for years was in a Board meeting about to make an important decision.  He said, “I take it that everyone is in basic agreement with this decision.”  Everyone nodded.  Sloan looked at the group and said, “Then I suggest we postpone the decision.  Until we have disagreement, we don’t understand the problem.”

This is the funny part about winning deals – the less we understand buyer-demand; the more we focus on the deal.  The more we (over) react to dissent; the more we press.  The more we press; the harder it is to win …. the deal.

How many times do we just want the deal while caring less about the prospect?  Yet when we clarify more about the latter, it’s amazing how many more of the former they reward us with.


Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Are we there yet?

Ah July!  Summer time!  Brings back fond memories of family vacations.  Did you ever take a family road trip riding in the back of that original SUV – the “station wagon”?  I know, I know – we now live in the era of car seats and seat belts.  Too bad.

Even in today’s safety-conscious world, family vacations are the best, don’t you think?  And during your trip, do the kids ask, “Are we there yet?”  I know, I know – we now live in the era of GPS chips in our car; our phone; the kids can track latitude and longitude as we go.  Too bad.

The phrase, “Are we there yet?” also applies to our business pursuits.  July started the 2nd half of 2013 – how’s your year?  Will you make your plan?  I wrote a little ditty in January about planning ( Welcome to 2013).  Remember writing your 2013 Annual Achievement Plan?  What; no GPS on your plan?  Too bad.

Did you do an “Operations Review” (aka Ops Review) at the end of Q1?  No?  Now is a good time to do your 1st half Ops Review, yes?

I learned the value of the Ops Review while working at the behemoth payroll company, ADP.  They weren’t always a behemoth.  Under the guidance of their legendary CEO, Josh Weston, ADP grew from $350 Million to $8 Billion before he turned over the day-to-day operations to his successors.

Josh used to lead monthly Ops Reviews. It was unpleasant for those of us being reviewed!  Too bad.  Josh used to say,

Every month, we are one month smarter in our ability to meet our annual plan.

Ops Reviews enable us to make adjustments when we’re off course – adjusting to reality.  Susan Jeffers tells us that no matter how good we are at planning,

  Life is what happens when we’ve made other plans.

For business planning to be effective we must diligently interact with it.  And, it must be in writing (as emphasized in January).  It must be grounded on reality – “Hope is not a Strategy”!

Also, everyone must believe in the plan!  Our favorite, Unknown Sage said:

In the beginning there was the Plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.

And the Plan was without Substance.

And Darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And the Workers spoke among themselves saying,

“It is a crock of sh&! and it stinks.”

And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,

“It is a crock of dung and we cannot live with

 the smell.”

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers saying,

“It is a container of organic waste, and it is  

 very strong, such that none may abide by it.”

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, 

“It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide

  its strength.”

And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another,

“It contains that which aids plant growth, and it

  is very strong.”

And the Directors went to the Vice Presidents, saying unto them,

“It promotes growth, and it is very powerful.”

And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying unto him,

“It has very powerful effects.”

And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good. 

And the Plan became Policy. 

And that is how sh&! happens.

We must believe in our plan; ops review it; and adjust to reality.  Are we there yet?


Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

The Approval-Process…

Do you have any external proposals or internal initiatives/ideas that are waiting for an approval?  What exactly is the process to get to an approval anyway?  Does it still involve a rubber stamp?

rubber stamp

In business, a lot has been said and a lot has been written about decision making; there seems to be less thought leadership available on the Approval-Process.

(“Thought Leadership”, now there’s a catchy phrase in vogue today, yes?  I never thought, “Thought Leadership” would make it into one of my little ditties.  What is “Thought Leadership”, anyway?  I wonder – does the Approval-Process get waylaid with random thoughts like this?  But I digress.) 

Is the approver in the Approval-Process also the “Decision-Maker”; the “Economic-Buyer”; “VITO”?  Is a decision even required to finalize an approval?  What does an approver do to make the approval, anyway?  And what do they do when they don’t approve? 

            Not to decide is to decide.

Harvey Cox 

I was speaking with an Executive at our company the other day that I interact with from time-to-time.  I had an idea that could enhance the work I do with his team.  My boss thought it was a good idea, but since it would impact another department, we wanted that department Executive’s approval before proceeding. 

I wrote a synopsis including the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed idea; emailed it to the Executive and received this response, “Sounds good at first blush; let me chew on it a bit.”  “Chew on it a bit”, does the Approval-Process simulate one’s appetite?  Maybe that’s what the approvers do – they go out to eat.  And how long is, “a bit” anyway? 

To be fair to our approvers, I’m sure they need to weigh advantages and disadvantages of approving our recommendations.  I bet they keep a close eye out for the “Department of Unintended Consequences”, too.  I was thinking about that department while at a ball game last weekend.  It started with, “Why am I paying $8.00 for a beer?”  I thought the team owners were gouging the fans with high prices (which, of course, they are). 

But by the time we reached the 7th inning and I had a group of rowdy, drunken, profanity-laced  fans a few rows in front of me, I realized that if beer were any cheaper, I’d likely be totally surrounded by rowdy, drunken, profanity-laced fans by the 2nd inning!  Yep – the Department of Unintended Consequences even exists at the ball park. 

Maybe approvers take our proposals to the “committee”: 

A decision is what people make when they can’t find anyone to serve on a committee. 

Unknown Sage 

And in the sales profession, we all face the challenges of decision by committee, true? 

We’re into the era where a committee designs airplanes.  You never do anything totally stupid; you never do anything totally bright.  You get an average, wrong answer.

Kelly Johnson 

Is that what happened to the battery design in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner? 

Well, my Executive who I turned to for an Approval-Process and who wanted to “chew on it a bit”, still hasn’t let me know whether to punt or proceed.  It’s no big deal, really; it was just a process-improvement idea.  Not every idea is a good idea; and not every good idea can be implemented.  But I’m still not sure how long, “a bit” is. 

I suspect he has decided not to make a decision, which of course, is a decision. 


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