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Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Changing ways …

There are lots of things changing in our modern world today.  And our pace of change is amazing.  Modernization; automation; the Internet of Things; today’s changing ways goes by many names.  We assume these changes will be for the better; we’d like to believe in “new and improved”!

With today’s “new ways”, when we experience something that’s still being done the “old way” it stands out.

During a recent business trip, I rented a car and checked into a hotel.  You know, the usual stuff done the usual way.  The car rental experience seemed simple enough; the hotel check-in process?  Well, that struck me as something still being done the “old way”.

Why is it that it takes only a few minutes and no paperwork to pick up or drop off a rental car at Hertz’s #1 Club Gold, but twice that time and an annoying name/address form to check into a Hilton hotel?  Are they afraid you’ll steal the room? 

Michael Tracy

True, business travel affords us plenty of opportunities to poke fun at travel providers.  Poke fun aka the “old way”.  Complain, rant on social media sites, blast people and places on Trip Advisor… it seems like that is the “new way”.

Often these days, the new ways can stimulate increased strain and stress don’t they?  Call me kooky, but isn’t that the opposite impact “new ways” are supposed to contribute to society?   What do you think?

I mean, any kind of travel can be frustrating, yes?  Just commuting to or from the office has taken on new perils in our modern society.  You tell me; is road rage a “new way” or an “old way”?  Even Uber is not insulated from it.  Believe it or not, Wikipedia suggests this is actually the “old way” dating all the way back to 1987:

The term originated in the United States in 1987–1988 from anchors at KTLA, a television station in Los Angeles, California, when a rash of freeway shootings occurred on the Interstate 405, 110, and 10 freeways in Los Angeles.

I get it; it can be hard to embrace changing ways.  Especially for those of us who are comfortable doing things the “old way”.   Yes, yes, that way drives the kids crazy.  They’re amazed we have made our way to this point doing things the “old way”.  That’s OK.  Our way is not for everyone.

And you must admit that some things (travel or otherwise) ought not to be changed:

You’ll notice that the airport buildings are in the distance.  We don’t land at the terminal because it scares the heck out of the people inside. 

Mark Sanborn

But changing ways are inevitable.  And there are lots of smart people coming up with “new ways” everyday intending to make our life better.  They’re trying to avoid the strain and stress when “new ways” supersede “old ways”.  I suppose changing ways will always anger some.

Seth Godin reminds us all that it will be OK:

Do you have to abandon the old ways today?  Of course not.  But responsible stewardship requires that you find and empower heretics and give them the flexibility to build something new instead of trying to force the Internet to act like direct mail with free stamps.

During times of changing ways, we should not try to hold things back.  Even someone like me who often prefers the comfort of the “old way”, needs to step out of the aisle and let the other passengers by.

GAP

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I don’t know…

We’re in the midst of revising and retooling our sales training program; a periodic ritual all companies go through, you know?  The process we’re following might sound familiar.  Leadership has announced the strategic changes.  Now followership is being asked if the new direction will “fit” our sales constituents.

Naturally, we need to make the new direction “fit”, even if it doesn’t actually “fit”; the change has already been announced.  Though our change management process might sound backward, I’m optimistic the outcome will be favorable.

“Fit” is an often-debated concept in the sales (and sales training) profession.  Ask for input and there seems no end to opinions.  But “fit” is important:

Not a good fit’ is a great conclusion, if arrived at early.  It is a horrible miscalculation if arrived at late. 

Mahan Khalsa

We are late in our process, but it should be OK.  After all, our constituents won’t know the difference.  They only go through our sales training activities once, so they won’t be making comparisons.  Even if we suck going forward no one will know; keeping in mind we may not suck – we may have something better.  I am comfortable saying I don’t know.

He who knows most, knows how little he knows.

Thomas Jefferson

Although I’m change-adverse (like many in my profession), I’m keeping an open mind on the new program.  Philosophically, I’m in alignment with the strategic intent of consistency across all sales channels.  Others smarter and more successful than I have led their companies to greatness based on the principle of consistency:

I wanted to get the ‘creativity’ out of the sales process.  If you want to be creative, go write a novel. 

Larry Ellison

But to be fair, I believe there is a big difference between pronouncing a strategic change vs. developing and delivering the multitude of tactical details that go into the execution of such strategy.  I don’t know… but I’m think the key word here is execution.

We followers are supposed to be domain experts; we’re expected to execute on the plan.  What’s the military saying about battle plans – “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”  (Here’s background on that quote.)

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder knew last century that the complexity of war prevented any one leader from grasping the entirety of details necessary to win battles.  The writer (Sean Newman Maroni) offers cross-over connections to the business world.  His cross-over has agreement from at least one famous business leader I know:

‘What do we need a sales guy for?’  I smugly replied, ‘To sell more of our software, perhaps.’  That’s an inside glimpse of our top management team at work discussing the expansion of our distribution capacity.  I knew we needed to build a sales organization, although I certainly had no idea how one worked. 

Larry Ellison

Even though Larry Ellison said he didn’t know (as published in the book Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle©), that didn’t prevent Oracle from achieving tremendous business (and sales) success.

When we launch our revised sales training program I’ll be a bit nervous about “surviving first contact”.  But I “know” we will improvise if necessary in the short term and adapt in the long term to insure success.

However, if in reality I don’t know, I’m comforted by titans of military history and the technology industry – if they don’t know; then it’s probably OK that I don’t know.  On the other hand, if you know – please let me know, OK?

GAP

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Motivation 1, 2, 3 …

I was cataloging quotes recently when I came across notes I made after reading Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive ©.  It has been almost 4 years since I read his book – I guess the reading is the easy part; cataloging quotes for the writing part takes a bit more motivation!

The timing of this activity could not have been better.  Almost 4 years ago, I was in the best frame of mind in memory from a career standpoint.  Energetic, enthusiastic, dare I say “motivated”?  I used to say it took me over 30 years to find the perfect job.

As you know, every company with employees in jobs – directed by managers – defined by leaders – makes changes.  I have written about change-making many times, including this from Ellen Glasgow:

All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.

Now, my company is making changes.  I’m keeping an open mind.  Change can be challenging for leaders; for followers, too.  We have all faced change in our careers, true?  If you’re like me, you know that it’s really not the change that’s the challenge.  It’s envisioning ourselves succeeding in our new role that can test our level of drive.

As I was going through my notebook to update my catalog of quotes I came across Daniel H. Pink’s thoughts about “drive” (ergo the book title).  A few years ago, I would have simply typed my updates and moved on.  Today, I stopped cataloging to reflect; to write.

I particularly enjoyed his breakdown of “motivation” in the business world, which I would paraphrase this way:

Motivation 1.0 was simple – it was based on survival from our primitive ancestors.  No motivation?  No survival.  Simple.

Motivation 2.0 evolved past simple as managers seek to control workers – it was and still is – based on a carrot and stick reward system with carrots or sticks being controlled by the managers to control the workers.

Motivation 3.0 – Solving today’s complex problems requires workers with an inquiring mind and the willingness to experiment one’s way to a fresh solution.

Motivation 1.0 sought survival.  Motivation 2.0 sought compliance.  Motivation 3.0 seeks engagement.

Daniel H. Pink

Maybe Motivation 3.0 is on the horizon; maybe it is being adopted in today’s workplace – Lord knows the term “employee engagement” gets lots of play.  But is it truly replacing the carrot and stick system that ultimately maintains compliance?  I’m not sure.

Daniel H. Pink illustrates Motivation 3.0 this way:

 

Imagine a manager or a leader managing or leading workers who seek “Autonomy”.  Imagine workers pursuing “Mastery” autonomously.  Imagine leaders, managers and workers collectively aligned with a common “Purpose”.  That would make one powerful company!

Yet companies are not static entities.  Times change and during periods of change I believe Motivation 3.0 intentions can be weakened from the gravitational pull towards enforcing compliance.  Control over workers using those darn carrots and sticks keeps reappearing.  And when control becomes the preferred management method, Motivation 1.0 rears its head, too.  That’s when employees say “yes” not because they are motivated in a positive sense.  Those “yeses” are pure survival oriented.

Motivation 3.0 is hard to attain and maintain.  But the combination of Autonomy + Mastery + Purpose is powerful.

During times of change we can sometimes lose our focus; lose our drive.  However, Motivation 3.0 is the place to be for the modern workforce.  And I believe we can all get there despite the occasional sighting of those old carrots and sticks.

GAP

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Revolutions…

I enjoy a good debate about the 21st century workforce.  Companies like mine invest great time and money trying to create an environment that “motivates” employees.  Stand-up desks; pool tables; cafes on every floor; you name it.  I know other companies that are even more flamboyant with office accoutrements.

Young workers want to “revolutionize” work processes.  New leaders “revolutionize” what old leaders had in place.  After all, it’s the Information Revolution now.  “Knowledge workers” are keen on changing things:

A knowledge worker is someone whose job entails having really interesting conversations at work. 

Rick Levine

Exactly what is the Information Revolution about?  “Information”; “Revolution”; change for the sake of change; being “interesting”; keeping employees “engaged” (aka “entertained”)?

My sources may be unreliable, but their information is fascinating. 

Unknown Sage

I’d like to believe there is more to our companies and our leaders than that.  I mean, we proclaim America is the “greatest industrialized country in the world”, true?  Of course, our trade imbalance with China and our massive budget deficits might just indicate we are better at proclamations than production.  But I digress.

I know we are long past the era of our Industrial Revolution.  The thing is I like to study history; learn from what went well (and what didn’t); apply such lessons learned to get better today at what I already do best.

During our Industrial Revolution we endeavored to perfect the technique of studying what went well (and what didn’t) in order to perfect our ingenuity and productivity.  One example of such was time-motion studies.  According to Wikipedia:

A time and motion study (or time-motion study) is a business efficiency technique combining the Time Study work of Frederick Winslow Taylor with the Motion Study work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth… It is a major part of scientific management (Taylorism). After its first introduction, time study developed in the direction of establishing standard times, while motion study evolved into a technique for improving work methods. The two techniques became integrated and refined into a widely accepted method applicable to the improvement and upgrading of work systems. This integrated approach to work system improvement is known as methods engineering…

Way back then, we even learned about how over-study unleashed the “Department of Unintended Consequences”.  Returning to Wikipedia:

The Hawthorne effect… is a type of reactivity in which individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.  The original research at the Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois, on lighting changes and work structure changes such as working hours and break times was originally interpreted by Elton Mayo and others to mean that paying attention to overall worker needs would improve productivity. Later interpretations such as that done by Landsberger suggested that the novelty of being research subjects and the increased attention from such could lead to temporary increases in workers’ productivity.

I worry about today’s Information Revolution.  Is the increased attention leading to temporary productivity increases?  I know today’s workforce loves “flexibility”; “interesting work”; “variety”; etc.  But will we remain “productive”?

Two hundred years ago, the Industrial Revolution centralized the workforce.  The Information Revolution will reverse the process eventually sending half or more of us back home, either to work or to draw unemployment. 

Don Peppers

In the sales profession we often refer to that fictitious company making those fictitious products known as widgets.  But if we had to build a factory and hire employees to produce that widget, would the knowledge workers be able to from home?

GAP

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Exceptions…

I have been leading in a major training initiative for my company’s re-sellers this year.  We are making significant changes and we’d like our partners to adopt these changes in their approach, too.  That way the customer has a consistent experience across all of our channels.

Seems logical, doesn’t it?  Yet, with but a few exceptions the majority of our partners offer resistance during the training sessions.  They cite all sorts of exceptions (real and imagined) that suggest our new methods aren’t as good as their existing methods.  Sometimes they even suggest that our new methods flat-out, won’t work.

It reminds me of my Father-In-Law.  He was a carpenter and a true “master mechanic with the tools” (as they say in the trades).  In the 1960s and 1970s he trimmed million dollar mansions in suburban Chicago when million dollar mansions were rare.

When my wife and I bought our starter house in 1978, we had a whole list of home improvement and remodeling ideas.  Champagne taste; beer money (as they also say in the trades).  It was natural to turn to Dad for a little help.

My wife would show him what she was thinking for remodeling the kitchen; building a deck with a clubhouse for the kids; changes to the living room; bathrooms, too; the list went on.  And his initial response invariably was, “That won’t work”.  We heard the phrase “that won’t work” so frequently that we carry his legacy in our life to this day.

You see, when he said, “That won’t work” he didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.  What he meant was it actually could be done, but he would have to do it differently than the way the idea was initially laid out.  He did remodel our kitchen, living room and bathrooms.  We did have a deck and a clubhouse.  The clubhouse was built so well that we relocated it to our next backyard when we moved up from our starter house.

Fast forward to my training classes this year.  Every time a partner says “That won’t work” and cites an exception that doesn’t fit with our new and improved engagement model, it triggers old behaviors.  My knee-jerk reaction is to engage; to argue; to discredit the cited exception as some fantasy.  Then, after I regain my composure I remember my Father-In-Law.  I smile and think that’s what they said but that’s not what they meant.  At least I hope so.

I understand exceptions, I think.  I agree with Malcolm Forbes:

There are no exceptions to the rule that everybody likes to be the exception to the rule. 

And I’m no exception – just ask my wife when she says we need to remodel thus and so.  I give it the old, “That won’t work” try.  Then we smile and realize my will power will wilt in the face of her vision.

The opinions expressed by the husband do not reflect the views of the management of this household. 

Unknown Sage 

We all deal with exceptions throughout our day; at work; at home; in the community.  I believe our views about exceptions are grounded on our individual perspectives:

Nothing makes me more tolerant of a neighbor’s noisy party than being there. 

Franklin P. Adams

So this year I’ve been trying.  I’ve been learning how to address exceptions.  I’d prefer such cited exceptions to fade in the face of our training, but I understand Malcolm Forbes is probably right.  Then I remember my Father-in-Law.  And then I’ve learned to smile.

GAP

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Creative overload…

I was listening to the speech by our Chief Development Officer at our 2017 worldwide users’ conference.  It was creativity at its best.  He summarized all of the new features (aka shiny objects) his massive army of programmers was programming into our application.  Seemingly, there is no end to the creativity of our technology posse and the shiny objects they continuously code.

I get it – if we don’t write new code our old code becomes obsolete – just when the end-users are comfortable using it:

Troutman’s Laws of Computer Programming

  • Any running program is obsolete
  • Any planned program costs more and takes longer
  • Any useful program will have to be changed
  • Any useless program will have to be documented

So rather than documenting exiting programs; rather than reinforcing how to use them with end-user types; creative people who program find it easier to just replace it vs. document it.  Besides, documentation is much, much harder than creativity:

Arnold’s First Law of Documentation

If it should exist, it doesn’t.

Arnold’s Second Law of Documentation

If it does exist, it’s out of date.

Arnold’s Third Law of Documentation

Only useless documentation transcends the first two laws.

Then I reflected on my personal use of applications provided by these and other creative technologists.  I Googled how many phone apps (alone) there are in the world – here’s what the Google-Machine returned:

This statistic contains data on the number of apps available for download in leading app stores as of March 2017. As of that month, Android users were able to choose between 2.8 million apps. Apple’s App Store remained the second-largest app store with 2.2 million available apps.

5 Million apps to choose from – just for our phones!  WOW!  I can’t wait for the release of the 5 million and 1st app can you?  Call me the dinosaur, but here are how all those creative apps (not to mention all of those additional features technologists are pouring into my business systems) make me feel:

 

Yep, place me on the curve just past the, “Hey, where the f*** did they put that?!”

If in today’s world creativity is analogous with “more”; how do we get to “less”?  What’s wrong with things that are (A) simple and (B) work?  Why does everything have to be subjected to creativity?

Andi’s Addendum – And beyond

  • The complexity of a program grows until it exceeds the capability of its maintainers.
  • Any system that relies on computer reliability is unreliable.
  • Any system that relies on human reliability is unreliable.
  • Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers cannot write in English.
  • Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.

Every time someone tells me they have a new idea, I cringe.  It’s like everyone is searching for some holy intellectual grail:

Creativity:  The process of having an original idea that has value. 

Unknown Sage

Here’s the thing – just because something is technologically feasible, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  When someone promotes “IoT” (aka the Internet of Things), I reach to make sure my wallet is secure.  And don’t get me started on virtual reality.

According to WhatIs.com

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment.

Suspends belief and accepts it as real – really?  I wonder if that creativity begets real value or virtual value.  Hmmm… you’re right… what’s the difference.

GAP

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Jerk…

Now there’s a word used often in our society these days, yes?

During my performance appraisals my manager has given me superior ratings in all but one area.  In my company’s rating scale, the highest level of performance is labeled “Outstandingly Awesome”.  I like that label.

To be sure, I’m as motivated as anyone to have my performance rated outstandingly awesome.  I’m as competitive as anyone to “win”.  I have strived from childhood to adulthood; work and play; continuously reading training and motivational materials to help me earn outstandingly awesome recognition.

I often envision myself on the podium; waving a bouquet of flowers; kissing the pretty hostess; preparing for the glorious interview where the interviewer asks, “Gary, how did you do it?”  And on occasion, I’ve actually been on that podium (albeit sans flowers, pretty hostess or the interviewer).

Does this envisioning make me a jerk?  Am I arrogant and obnoxious?  Well, from time-to-time I would acknowledge – guilty.  My manager has so-noted in that one area on said performance reviews, too.  In my defense – is such an attitude and approach an outcome from how I was coached?

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Al McGuire

At this stage of my career I have finally accepted the fact that sometimes, I don’t play well with others (aka am a jerk).  Even though I have succeeded in my career by “playing angry” (which I recently wrote about http://thequoteguys.com/2017/07/playing-angry/ ), I’m finally at a point where I agree I could lighten up a bit.

Winning in business and in life is so much more than the podium, don’t you agree?

The most valuable thing you can ever own is your image of yourself as a winner in the great game of life, as a contributor to the betterment of humankind, as an achiever of worthy goals. 

Tom Hopkins

So, to get me headed in the right direction my boss’ boss jumped in and asked me to read Emotional Intelligence 2.0 © by Dr. Travis Bradberry.  You might have noticed I quote him often.  His book starts with a self-diagnostic.  I actually rated much better than I had expected; 74 – which means “With a little improvement, this could be a strength.”  Today, I keep the book on my desk with the pages dog-eared to the sections on addressing conflict with emotional intelligence.

Liking this new path I am exploring at this stage of my career, I next read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There © by Marshall Goldsmith.  I enjoyed one of his foundational points, articulated by the famous management consultant, Peter Drucker:

We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.  We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.

After all of these years, I finally have a manager who is helping to teach me what to stop.  Oh he still wants and expects my outstandingly awesome, competitive fire.  He’d just like me to play nicer with others.

So I returned to my recent readings seeking advice for improvement – and found it:

There’s a simpler way to achieve being nicer.  All you have to do is stop being a jerk. 

Marshall Goldsmith

Well, my manager; his manager; Dr. Brad; and Marshall Goldsmith are all pointing me to the solution.

Many receive advice.  Only the wise profit from it. 

Publilius Syms

And only a jerk would ignore Publilius Syms, true?

GAP

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Turn up the music…

2017 is starting out with lots of challenges for us.  Dramatic change is in the wind (and all over the news), yes?  As Americans, the Executive Branch of our federal government is provoking great change.  At the corporate level, employees of my recently acquired company are feeling the impact of significant change.

The Co-CEO addressed our sales organization in January in an effort to help quell our jitters.  The gesture of his in-person address was impressive (and appreciated).  He was very clear on his vision of our collective future, however.  And change is a big element of his vision for a great future:

Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company.  Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create discomfort – to obliterate complacency – and thereby stimulate change and improvement before the external world demands it. 

Jim Collins

He asked us to embrace the discomfort of change and contribute to our company’s future success.  Many felt it was a big ask.

Change can be very difficult for us to deal with, true?  For me, it’s especially ironic to see how change affects those of us in the sales profession.  I mean, here we are the sellers of change when our clients buy our new products or services to replace their previous products and services.  Sales and change are synonymous, yes?  And yet, I find sales people in particular to be extremely change adverse.

My company has lost several people since the acquisition just because of impending change.  So far, there’s really been nothing materially wrong with our new parent company’s approach to things.  For most of us, our daily routine is the same today as it had been previously.  There are procedural differences; pay and benefits differences; internal systems differences to be sure.  But these changes aren’t really material to the valuable roles we all play.

Nonetheless, some of my colleagues simply won’t embrace the change.  Now it’s not my place to judge whether they’ve panicked or not.  It simply seems to me that they have chosen to depart before giving the new environment a chance.

When faced with uncertainty, where do we turn?

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. 

William Arthur Ward

OK, but while we are adjusting the sails how do we sooth our worries about change; how do we avoid panic?  In my case, I like to leverage music to seek peace of mind.

On the America front we’ve seen civil unrest in the face of change before.  This 8:43 YouTube clip is one example of music; change; and civil unrest: http://youtu.be/VhX3b1h7GQw

To me, music is a powerful reminder of change.  And it’s a reminder that throughout my lifetime change can be fun, too.  (We called our first band The Neighbors’ Complaint!):

So when faced with the possibility of panic in the face of change, I turn to music.  I was recently reminded by my Great Niece of the importance of music in our lives:

Whether we are faced with changes at our company or changes in our country don’t panic – instead consider the words of E.B. White:

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.

And when in need of a little help to calm the jitters associated with change in order to have one hell of a good time; turn up the music!

GAP

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Historical leadership…

One of my favorite hobbies is reading about the leadership displayed by historical leaders during times of crisis as documented in the writings of American history.  It is amazing to learn about the stress that those events, coupled with the expectations followers, had on leaders.

How did those leaders do it?  Could you (or me) rise to the occasion the way they did?  What does one do, when there is no “opt out” option?  What does it take to be that type of leader?  Is it some sort of innate ability; learned; trained for?

Of course, there are many examples where leadership has been summarized in a simple synopsis.  Take the Civil War – a heightened time of crisis in American history.  On the bloodiest of battlefields in American history, great generals rose to the occasion and in so doing are remembered, albeit for what in retrospect seems to have just been good judgment:

Grant knew from Sherman’s telegram that a crucial lesson had been learned at Collierville, that an army commander should know just where he was going, long before he actually arrived there. 

Jeff Shaara

Know where you are going – seems so simple today.  But during times of crisis leadership can become anything but simple.  In Civil War times, navigating terrain was a huge obstacle.  No GPS; a few crude, hand-drawn maps; directions only available from local civilians – and we all know what hazards that can bring:

Winfield’s Dictum of Direction-Giving:

The possibility of getting lost is directly proportional to the number of times the direction-giver says, “You can’t miss it.”  

Unknown Sage

In today’s world, Google Earth enables anyone with an Internet connection to view the landscape with ultimate clarity.  Navigating business circumstances?  There’s no Google app for that.

Take my company.  We’re in the process of being acquired – maybe.  I say maybe, because surprisingly our leaders have vanished.  When the initial announcement was made public, there was a company-wide web meeting and the leaders informed the followers it was merely business as usual.  That was it then; and that has been it ever since.  No updates; no further employee communications; no status; nothing.  Not very comforting.

It could be that they really don’t have any updated information that can be disclosed yet.  As a publicly traded company, there are SEC rules and regulations that apply when a company is “in play”.  However, in absence of leadership communications followers will dream up their own narratives.  And in a vacuum, such narratives tend to drift towards worst case scenarios, true?

Speaking for myself only (as if there was another option), this event could be good news or it could be bad news for my continued employment at my (new) company.  But if my leaders asked, I would tell them I can handle it (as if there was a choice):

One can either face reality at the outset or one can disseminate the bad news on the installment plan. 

Norman Augustine

So when I read and reflect on historical leaders and how they led their followers, one common theme emerges – they kept their people informed:

The key to being a successful skipper is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. 

D. Michael Abrashoff

I wonder if our leaders today invest any time learning from historical leadership.  Perhaps they believe their view of the ship is the only view of the ship and the right view of the ship and their followers on the ship should just get over it.

GAP

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Resistance…

I find the dichotomy intellectually interesting.  Sales professionals by and large make our living selling the next new thing to our customers and expecting our customers to embrace the change that comes along with replacing their old, tried and true things with our new-new things.  Yet, we sales professionals are among the most change-resistant folk on the planet.

A few months ago I was assigned the task of building a new course in my company’s sales training curricula.  When I reviewed the draft of the content I was to use, I whined.  Actually, I whined, stomped, argued, pushed back, pleaded, plotted and cajoled in every possible way I knew to try and avoid the assignment.  My boss was patient, pleasant, and steadfast.  He reminded me of my responsibilities; reminded me that the President of our company stated this course would be rolled out by September 1st.  My boss asked me if I could get it done by the deadline (but he really wasn’t “asking”):

At first speechless, Acheson had said he was not qualified to meet the demands of the office.  “This”, responded Truman, “was undoubtedly so, the question was whether he would do the job anyway.”    

Harry S. Truman

It is more accurate to say I didn’t have to develop the training from scratch.  I was expected to “tweak” the training that had been developed for another part of our company so it would better align with our resellers.  Since then, there have been frequent meetings with my cross-functional team trying to decipher just how to “tweak” the class and deliver the assigned content…

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. 

John M. Capozzi

Of course, all along the way I looked for opportunities to insert my personal, professional preference – which was to do nothing.  I didn’t like the new content; I preferred staying status quo.  “No change” was my mantra.  I was reacting just like many others when faced with making a change – hide!  But, as we all know progress is based on progression:

The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished. 

Benjamin Franklin

So I toiled on to complete my assignment to the best of my ability.

I mean, just because this new content was not something I dreamed up doesn’t make it bad.  It’s just new; different; requires me to make a change.  Who knows?  It might turn out that I actually like the new-new way.

I’m not sure what the root cause of my resistance has been.  Maybe I thought I would fail with this assignment; let my boss down; disappoint my clients….

It seems to me that the largest impediment to a healthy attitude toward failure is our inability to distinguish between just plain being stupid and failing on the way to great success. 

Unknown Sage

Yes, change comes with challenge.  As it turned out, I was able to create the new content.  And to help with my deployment plans, I delivered a “dry run” for my internal colleagues.  I “crashed and burned”.

It was back to the drawing board to make the necessary improvements.  Then, last week I delivered my 2nd go ‘round – this time to live clients.  The outcome?  Well, no one quit; no one got hurt; so I’m calling it a success!

They’re still a little reluctant to the change their ways and adopt the new training, but that’s OK.  I can relate.

GAP

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