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Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't Just Meet

Meetings often are the tragedies of organizations. Many meetings suffocate initiative, disrupt productivity and poison attitudes.

This is tragic because good meetings are the jewels of organizations. Done right, meetings multiply the value of the knowledge, talent and skill collected in that place at that time. They produce remarkable payoffs for the organization, and heighten the participants’ productivity and enthusiasm. The immediate benefit contributes to continuous improvement.

If only the group would occasionally have a meeting about meetings, its native good sense could very well dissolve this epidemic of bad meetings, because the antidotes are relatively simple and sensible.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Motivation: The Mule's Tale

There is this mule, see. Stubborn, lazy, selfish. Totally complacent and absorbed with comfort. Devoid of ambition.

One thing, though. When the muleskinner cracks the whip, the mule hops to, gets moving, gets on the ball. It’s magical.

The muleskinner has never actually skinned the mule – or even whacked it much – but you’d never know that. The mule can be the very model of productive effort, but only when the muleskinner gets serious with him/her. The muleskinner issues very clear and specific commands . .  . and never, ever backs off or compromises.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Biggest, Sneakiest Project Risk

The accomplished engineer made no bones about it. “When I ask someone to do something,” he told a roomful of us, “I always do it myself as well, to make sure it gets done right.”

Got that? After delegating an assignment to someone, he would secretly duplicate the entire task himself because he trusted no one else to handle it properly. This was the triumph of personal perfectionism over everything we’ve all been saying about teamwork, delegation, personal productivity, staff development, supervisory responsibility. This was the ultimate failure of trust.

It’s an exaggerated example, but don’t kid yourself: It represents the major weakness of most projects. There is an implicit, general limit on expectations arising from our experience with our colleagues and managers. People often just don’t actually do what they say they’re going to do, and we adjust our estimates accordingly.