Friday, December 10, 2010

That's Why We Need Friends

Many times in our lives we are dropped,
crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make
and the circumstances that come our way.
We feel as though we are worthless.

But no matter what has happened or what will happen,
you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased you are still priceless to those who love you.

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who we are.
You are special. Don't ever forget it.
Thanks to Pravs

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My 10 Favorite (And Most Effective) Leadership Quotes

One of my favorite things to do as a leader is make a big speech or presentation.   The kind that is designed to "jazz up" and inspire the team.

I've been delivering them on a regular basis for the past 8 years in my (soon-to-be) former position as an SVP of Operations, and throughout that time I have sprinkled a few famous quotes here and there, to really bring home the point I was trying to make.

These quotes are quite useful because of their eloquence, and the way they bring a certain gravitas to the discussion.

I've assembled my 10 favorite quotes on this post (and the best context to use them) – the ones I have used the most effectively, and the most often, in practicing my leadership craft.

Try one of these yourself next time you are rallying the troops.

  1. Decisiveness: "There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction". – John F. Kennedy
  2. Excellence & The Joy Of Work: 'The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both"James Michener
  3. The "Value" Of Experience: "Experience suggests it doesn't matter so much how you got here, as what you do after you arrive"Lois McMaster Bujold
  4. Trust: "When trust is high, relative to fear, people and people systems function well. When fear is high, relative to trust, they break down." – Jack Gibb
  5. Confidence & Determination: "An army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning" -  Sun Tzu, the Art of War
  6. Too Much Talk, Not Enough Action: "We have a 'strategic' plan. It's called doing things." — Herb Kelleher
  7. The Joy of Progress, & the Journey: "Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb" - Sir Winston Churchill
  8. The Real Job Of Leadership: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." – John Quincy Adams
  9. Bad News is Good News: "The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." – Colin Powell
  10. Overcoming Fear (And My All-Time Favorite): "It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks to

How to Rebut 3 Common Objections To Measuring Performance

You've done your research, you've prepared your case, and your next step is to try and convince managers and colleagues to endorse your proposal for a performance measurement project. And you brace yourself because you know what's coming...

It will be a torrent of 'yeah-buts' - basically, objections to giving time, money or effort to performance measurement. Are you going to sit back and take it, or do something about it before it even happens?

OBJECTION 1: Performance Measurement Hasn't Worked In The Past.

What's happening with this objection is that the person is assuming that because there has so far been no successful approach to performance measurement, that means there can't be a successful approach in the future. Your focus should be on raising and challenging this assumption, and offering an approach to performance measurement that acknowledges the causes of failure and show how that approach solves those causes.

A constructive response: "You're absolutely right that performance measurement has had problems - we've got too many measures, people don't find the measures useful, they don't align to our strategy and staff are spending too much time collecting data for these useless measures. So if we want performance measurement to succeed, we obviously need to take a different approach, and an approach that deliberately solves and prevents these kinds of problems. Here's how my proposed approach does that..."

OBJECTION 2: We Don't Have Time For Performance Measurement.

At the foundation of this objection is the assumption that everything people are currently doing is of a higher priority than performance measurement. We already know that people spend a lot of time on urgent things that aren't in alignment with strategy or that are rework resulting from ineffective or inefficient processes. You simply need to highlight how good performance measures can reduce the time wasted on these kinds of activities, and therefore is of a higher priority than these activities.

A constructive response: "I agree - it seems like we're all getting busier and busier and the last thing we need is something ELSE to try and squeeze into our days. And yet I can't help noticing how a good proportion of the things we do can be done so much easier and quicker. For example, [insert some well-research examples from your organization]. I truly believe that it's better to risk taking time out from some of these urgent-but-not-important activities, in order to prevent them from continuing to happen in the future."

OBJECTION 3: We Already Know What Matters, Performance Measures Won't Tell Us Anything New.

The assumption propping up this objection is that just by looking around or relying on our experience with the work we do, we can see and know everything that matters. But the truth is, we all have biases caused by our values and moods and what we notice and what we don't notice. And these biases prevent us from seeing objectively the patterns and trends that data can show us more quickly and easily. It's not hard to demonstrate this with a few examples of how data has led people to surprising and valuable insights they otherwise would have missed.

A constructive response: "Our people have a fantastic knowledge of the work they do and a very strong commitment to doing their best. Our job is to empower them, so they can more easily focus on what will produce the best results. We can't expect them to simultaneously watch the big picture as well as what's right in front of them. Performance measures are great for showing them what's happening in the big picture, quickly and easily, so they can make the best choices about what's currently in front of them. For example, [insert some examples of how performance measures have produced insights that no-one noticed from just looking around]."

Be Prepared, Respectful, Honest And Focused On The Big Picture.

Handling objections to performance measurement requires that you dig a little deeper to understand the assumptions people are making that lead to their objections, raising those assumptions so everyone realizes they are there, and then stimulating some dialogue to move beyond the objection.

It's not about being a smarty-pants or winning a debate with the person who voices the objection. It's about elevating the dialogue to a constructive level, so you can all get a better understanding and movement forward.

Take Action:

Which of these three objections is blocking your path to better performance measurement? Take pen to paper for 15 minutes and prepare some well-informed, respectful and constructive responses to the ways you expect this objection to be expressed by your managers or colleagues.

Thanks to Stacey Barr

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All About Abbreviations

An abbreviation is defined as a shortened version of a word or phrase. But did you know that there are many different types of abbreviations? Here is a list of abbreviation types:

Acronym – This forms a word using the initial parts or first letters of a name. For example, ABBA, MADD, and OPEC are all acronyms that take the first letter from each word to form a new word. Lesser known acronyms include scuba and laser. The latter examples show that not all acronyms have to be capitalized.

Initialism – Also called alphabetism, this is a group of letters, each pronounced separately, used as an abbreviation for a name or expression. Examples include: CD, TV, and UK.

Truncation – This type of abbreviation consists only of the first part of a word. These are most often used when referring to proper titles such as months of the year or days of the week, e.g., Mon., Fri., Apr., Oct.

Clipped – Similar to truncation in that you are using a part of the word to form the abbreviation, but in this case you're using either the middle or end. Common clipped abbreviations include phone (telephone) and fridge (refrigerator).

Aphesis – In this case, you have dropped the unstressed vowel at the beginning of the word. These are often unintentional and casually spoken versions of the words. Perhaps the best example is 'cause instead of because.

Portmanteau – The blending of two or more words will give you a portmanteau. Some of my personal favorites include liger (lion and tiger), spork (spoon and fork), skort (shorts and skirt), and brinner (breakfast and dinner).

Some things to consider when using abbreviations:

  • Anyone can make up an abbreviation and many are non-standard. They should, therefore, be left out of formal writing.
  • If the full word would be capitalized (e.g., Sunday or January), make sure to capitalize the abbreviation (e.g., Sun. or Jan.).
Thanks to Letia Graening / Daily Writing Tips