Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BASKET

For the longest time, I’ve coached and mentored people on the use of the “3E’s” (Education, Experience and Exposure) as the key components for self assessing your career situation.  I learned them from Deane Hislop originally and then saw the CISCO Career Makeover video (quite funny) where it was also used.

An odd coincidence happened as I was on my way to watch the NCAA Final Four basketball games.  I read a career mentoring article (sorry, I cannot find it now to properly credit the source) and their guiding principle was called “BASKET.” While the name might have been what originally caught my attention, I ultimately liked the six elements:

·         Behavior – the way you act (includes verbal and nonverbal communication)
·         Attitude – your internal guidance system (this can make up for less talent)
·         Skills – specific techniques (these are learned through repetition)
·         Knowledge – this would be similar to the Education E (formal education and training)
·         Experience – actual time in position (the opportunity to succeed and fail)
·         Talent – the natural things you are born with (can be a negative if used wrong)

While I like the simplicity of the 3Es, I also love bringing Attitude and Behavior into the discussion.  We have all met very talented people who turn us off!

What do you think of this coaching/mentoring model? Do you think LiaV should transition to using it as the primary model?

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

“Expectations remain the same”

Kansas University basketball coach, Bill Self, said “the faces change, but the expectations remain the same” on a TV advertisement.  At long last I thought I found an analogy where coaching sports did not align with other forms of leadership.

Self was describing how the KU basketball program has certain long term expectations and the players come and go. The longest a player stays is four years.  In business, it is the managers that come and go quickly and the “team” is in place for the long haul.  Each leadership regime comes in with their own set of programs, goals, methods and expectations.  On the surface, it sounds inconsistent.

After more thought, the expectations of the team did not change as much as it might sound.  In the aerospace industry, quality, safety and precision are the foundation and independent of who is the leader. The same concept is true in the customer service, high technology and entertainment industries.  The expectations at the top level remain the same.

Do you ensure your teams understand the top level expectations and create a culture supporting these expectations?

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Monday, March 24, 2014

It’s easy to win - Give credit and take blame

At the risk of piling on, it is March and you all know I’m a hoop fan.

While the emotion and drama of the NCAA tournament are without equal, I look at the character of the participants, particularly the coaches.  Last year we shared the Jimmy Valvano’s 1993  ESPY speech that displayed amazing character in the face of grave adversity.

On a smaller scale, try to watch and listen to the words of the losing coaches in the post game interviews.  See what they say and how they say it in the worst of times. This is when true character comes through.  It is easy to be a winner.  At the youngest of levels, the Boys & Girls Club teaches “Win with character, lose with dignity.”   Listen to the amount of ownership the head coach takes in the loss.  It says a lot. I was taught to “Give credit and take blame.”

How about you as a leader in the work setting?  Do you take ownership of the missed deadlines or failed efforts?

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Does anyone really care what LiaV says?

In the blog world, there are generally three types of readers. All three read the posts.  They differ in how they comment. There are those that are actively engaged and respond often.  Some are topically engaged and comment when a post sparks an emotion. Last, there are “lurkers” who are always reading the posts and never comment.  This diversity makes the Internet interesting.

You might have seen the comment of Anonymous on 10 February.  This reader has commented in the past and appears to be topically charged.  The question posed (Does anyone really care what LiaV says?) seemed worth checking.  I have not gone to Feedburner in a while to check our statistics, so here they are:

754 = Active LiaV email subscribers
515 = Active LiaV RSS feed push subscribers
133 = Active LiaV Blogger site subscribers
117 = Active LiaV Twitter subscribers
200 = Approximate number of site hits per day for over 111,890 total views
United States = Country with the most site hits (with England, Germany, Poland and India next)

Thank you for your engagement and participation. 

Does anyone really care what LiaV says?

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crush Washers

Returning home from a recent oil change, my wife’s car sat in the garage slowly dripping oil from the drain plug.  This could be the sign of something very minor (tighten the plug) or a big deal (stripped out oil pan). 

Under further investigation, the head of the drain plug snapped off when attempting to loosen it.  The good news was that the additional repair was limited to simply replacing the drain plug and crush washer (less than $10).  Why did the drain plug break?  The crush washer is designed to compact as a mechanic tightens the drain plug.  It actually makes the seal with the oil pan to stop drips.  Once the washer is fully “crashed” it not longer stops the drip and causes too much turque to be placed on the drain plug.  The crush washer costs less than a dollar and should be replaced every oil change.  You can see from the photo that this crush washer is way over crushed and should never have been re-installed (penny wise and dollar foolish). I like to wonder what the mechanic was thinking when they put this washer back in and what the leadership message was at the shop was that allowed him to think it was ok.

It is easy to blame the mechanic.  Leaders must realize that everything they do sends a message to the team.  Did the shop owner rush the mechanic or say that they should save money on parts? Was quality or volume the primary shop philosophy?

Do your leadership messages tell your people to go fast and install bad crush washers or slow down and put in a good one? 

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Over 900 Career Wins

As soon as I returned to Southern California, old friends reached out to jump back into youth basketball coaching. I enjoy teaching young players the fundamentals of basketball, sportsmanship and to respect the game. At the same time, I saw that Coach K at Duke achieved his 900th NCAA career victory.  It made me wonder with our NJB/PCHoops 10 game season how long it would take me to get 900 victories.

Well – let’s just say it is going to be a LONG time! Then a trusted colleague sent me this quote from LSU’s legendary basketball coach Dale Brown.

“The word coach was first used back in the 1500s in England.  A coach was a horse drawn carriage used to transport a person from where he or she is to where he or she wants to be,  needs to be, or ought to be going.
All these years later, that is exactly what coaching should be about, but this is most difficult to follow because of the pressure to win.  Measuring the success of a coach shouldn’t have anything to do with league titles, state championships, national rankings, or national titles.  It should have everything to do with directing a program ethically and making good use of the power coaches have to reach and teach young people about issues and ideas that will carry them not only through a season…but through a lifetime.”  Coach Dale Brown

Sweet – Based on these criteria, I believe I have far more than 900 victories.  All good leaders should measure themselves based on the people they develop rather than the only P&L.

How many victories did you have today? This week? This year?

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wishing you the best for 2014

Greetings from Istanbul.

2013 was a a year full of personal and professional accomplishments.  Many major international projects completed so we made our way back to Southern California to explore and see what next adventure presents itself. 

Thank you for following and participating in LiaV.  Whether you agree or disent, your thoughts and comments always make us think.

Be safe and enjoy the holidays with friends and family. 

John

 

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Sharp dressed man

The window guy comes in to bid and he says “you understand how this all works.”  The drywall texture company owner comes in and he references “you look like you know what you’re doing here.”  The stone guy visits and says he’s certain I’ll have the structure in place to hold the granite safely. 

For the last 3 weeks I’ve been working a home construction/renovation project and wearing clothes appropriate for the undertaking (painters pants, sweatshirt and very worn steel toed work boots).  Simply having this “look” gave me credibility with these contractors bidding jobs.  It also drove a slightly lower price.  Nonverbal communication is always important but this was a great reminder how what we wear gives us credibility whether we deserve it or not.  I can remember the opposite happening one time when I was shopping for a suit while wearing shorts, t-shirt and sandals.  No sales person would give me the time of day.

Leaders need to remember that everything they do and say is watched, interpreted and assessed by the team.  Nonverbal communication is often as important as verbal.  Whether it is your office arrangement, desk housekeeping, personal affects or dress code, they all tell a story. 

What nonverbal clues do you send?  Are you managing this or just letting it happen?

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Need a job or want to work here?

The evening ranger program at Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Campground started at 7:30 pm sharp.  Ranger Monica was knowledgeable, energetic, personable and formally educated.  She said as a kid she was so influenced by the park rangers at Glacier that she decided to become one.  She interned at Glacier each summer from college and took a full time position upon graduation. 

A lot of people want and/or need a job.  We try to determine if the fit is right through the interviewing process.  I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to tell the difference between someone who really wants or needs a job from someone who really wants to work in your organization. The aerospace industry has a distinct advantage.  Most people who study aerospace engineering really want to work for a reputable aerospace firm doing tough stuff.

I always thought Zappos (the on-line shoe folks) were onto something when they offer new employees a “exit-bonus” after only a couple weeks on the job. The idea is that people who really don’t want to be there will take the cash leave.  The result is a group of employees that really want to be in the organization. FYI – I just chatted on-line with Heather at Zappos and in seconds she verified they still have this policy and she did not take the cash offer to leave!

How have you successfully separated the people that just want a job from those that really want to be in your organization?  Has it worked?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Ti-Anse Team

When McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged, a Seattle guy explained to me the difference between a “family” and a “team.” I was told a team selects and can remove members.  A family, on the other hand, does not select members and you can never be kicked out.  That made sense at the time, but it made me wonder how a team with the positive attributes of a family would fare.

I got to see those results in practice on my recent Haiti mission.  Our project engineer hand selected very specific people with the skills needed to accomplish the water system and pipeline installation task.  We had an industrial plumber, machine operator, heavy machine mechanic, nurse, interpreter, equipment driver, finance manager, and some strong general helpers.  The team came together during the journey to location (Ti-Anse, Haiti – in the far Northwestern region) and performed their assignments both individually and as a team.  If you were wondering what I brought to the party – it was the ability to organize the group of 64 Haitian laborers and the conditioning to walk 10 miles a day overseeing the pipeline!  Everyone brought something that only they had, but they also acted as a family caring for and helping one another. It was a classic example of putting the task before self.

What are your thoughts on the difference between team and family?  Do you try to merge the tow concepts when you lead?

video
 

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Hotter than Haiti

Sometimes opportunities present themselves that make no sense.  I had no particular desire to visit Haiti and no ties to any mission efforts. 

As often the case, helping others achieve their objectives turns out to be leadership in action.  In this case, my brother was trying to bring water to the village of Ti-Anse in Haiti.  He is a retired facilities project engineer from General Motors with all the right skills to bring this project to life.  I was a guy with some extra time at the moment.  When asked, my immediate reaction was “no”.  Why would I want to do this 10 day trip with no basic comforts?  When I changed the question to, “would I help someone accomplish their objective?”, then answer changed to “yes”.  A very similar situation happened in my career when asked to go to England to complete three MD-11’s in modification. I said no at first and then was instructed to go.  This was the turning point where I worked internationally the rest of my career visiting over 50 countries.

So – as you read this LiaV post, I’m in Haiti and perhaps the 5 miles of pipe, 2 cisterns and distribution system are working.

How has helping someone else achieve their goals caused you to grow and mature as a leader?

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Man Camps (Unintended Consequences)


What if someone told you that your community could have thousands of new jobs, increased home values and lots of tax dollars to build roads and schools?

Heading up Route 85 in North Dakota towards the northern entrance of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we kept seeing what looked like poorly maintained camp grounds.  There were groups of trailers and trucks down dusty driveways with very little shade.  We were also on a camping trip, but these did not look like a place we would stop. 

Talking with the locals, we learned these were the “man camps” for the thousands of oil workers that have arrived in North Dakota since the hydraulic fracturing(“fracking”) industry started.  This is not a blog about the pros or cons of fracking, but of the unintendedconsequences of growth and progress.  ND now sports the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.  There are jobs for everyone.  There are also overcrowded roads, massive rent and real estate price increases, law enforcement challenges, crime that was never seen before and the sense of “community” is disappearing.  One law enforcement officer described it as a return to the Wild West – cowboys with money, without wife’s, out doing whatever they want.  Only this time they replaced the horses with new 4X4 pick-up trucks with rifle racks.

Independent of your opinion on fracking, leaders in all situations must try their best to consider the unintended consequences of their decisions.  Benchmarking others is a great way to do this.  It is amazing what can be learned from a simple phone.

What “no brainer” decisions have you reversed once you learned the unintended consequences?

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Banker’s Hours

Would you put your money in a bank that was only open 9-9:30am Saturday mornings?  What if the bank only accepted 6 clients? Would you bank where no interest is paid (like now) and the only loans available were from the other 5 members and terms were negotiated during the short Saturday session?  What if the funds were kept in a locked tin box (see photo) kept in the freezer of a refrigerator locked on the back porch?
So it was in the Bishop home growing home.  Once we started to earn money, we needed someplace to put it.  When we were 14 we could open an official bank account at the local FDIC backed bank on Main Street.  The current participants would all gather around the table and my mother would “open” the bank.  Deposits were made, withdraws taken and loans made.  Even if you had no immediate transaction, you showed up to watch the action and count your worldly treasurer.  This process clearly taught us the value of things, the importance of saving, risk management and negotiation skills.   

Understanding and managing value and perceptions of fairness are an important part of the leader’s job.  Statistics show that many people leave jobs due to feeling undervalued or underutilized.  Having a clear and accurate estimation of the value we each create helps keep this equation in balance.

How are you helping your team understand their value?  Are you helping them increase it daily?   


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Sunday, September 8, 2013

CT2CA

After a week to exit, fantastic five week CT2CA road trip and a week to unpack, have returned to Huntington Beach and LiaV should start to republish.  Plenty of lessons were learned on the journey, but here are a few facts from our trip:

·         6658 miles (5147 in the Tahoe, 1261 on the Harley and 250 pedaled on the beach cruisers).
·         34 nights (8 campgrounds, 6 hotels, 3 family stays).
·         15 states and 2 countries (not counting entering Wisconsin 3 times – long story).
·         17 family members visited (2 parents, 8 siblings, 3 in-laws, 4 niece/nephews).
·         12 wild animal sightings (grizzly and black bears, bison, elk, deer, wolf, coyote, horses, prairie dogs, wild turkey, mountain goat and llama).
·         6 national parks (Apostle Islands, Theodore Roosevelt, Glacier, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Cater Lake).
·         1 jump start needed.
·         1 motorist assisted (a local in Montana).
·         1 ticket warning (missed that darn stop sign in the middle of nowhere).
·         758 photos taken (2 iPhones and a Pentax).
·         1,000,000 mosquitoes (it actually was not bad except at Bobcat Lake State Park in Michigan where we were attacked by swarms).

Observations during travel:

·         People have way too much stuff.  There were self storage business in the most remote places.
·         Wire ties are the new duct tape. They fix anything.
·         Everyone has an interesting story if you take the time and effort to engage.
·         98 MPH in 660 feet is fast no matter what Tom says.
·         There are jobs in America.  You might have to go where they are (like North Dakota).
·         America is truly a remarkable and beautiful place. 


 

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Not taking vacation – hero or idiot?

The other day on the NBC Nightly News Brian Williams shared a study about how Americans are not using their vacationtime.  He told compelling reasons why employees thing this was a good thing – stress, fear of job loss, concern over work backlog upon return.  The story was generally silent from employer’s view except to say that well rested employees aremore productive and innovative.

It might seem hard to believe, but early in my management development the old McDonnell Douglas Corporation (1980’s era…) used to publish a quarterly report to managers listing the names of team members that were losing vacation time.  This report was considered a bad mark on the MANAGER not the employee.  The company’s opinion was that the manager either was not properly developing their talent or could not manage their resources.  I can remember my leaders checking with me to see if I had vacation plans when my name started to show up on the “high count list”. Can you imagine how positive your team would receive this today?

Something to remember – real leaders do what is right independent of some policy telling them to do it.  Do you know your team members that are losing vacation days?  Are you helping them get time off?  How about you? Are you taking time to recharge?

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Leaders – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

During my sabbatical, I’m reading on many of the topics that interest me but I have not had time to pursue during a busy daily corporate grind. Many of the topics do not appear on the surface to have a relationship to leading but they might.

The environment and resource utilization is certainly important to business overall but what about the three pillars – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?

Reduce – A long time ago, I was mentored on this topic from an experienced supervisor.  He told me that as I rise up in an organization I should be sure to cancel as much work as I create!  Most leaders see the need for new things but few remember to reduce work.  Teams really appreciate those bosses that eliminate no longer needed tasks.

Reuse – “NIHS” (Not Invented Here Syndrome) is a challenge for all leaders.  People like to invent their own solutions to old problems.  I was once told that every business issue has already been solved, it is the leader’s responsibility to find the person with the answer.  Encourage your teams to seek existing solutions before they invent one and to document it for others to use in the future.

Recycle – Packaging an existing idea or concept differently often solves a problem faster.  This is particularly true when working internationally.  Something that works in the USA needs to be tweaked in order to be effective in Europe, India or China.  Even if the adjustments are simply to overcome the “we are different” statements of the critics. “LAF” (Look and Feel) should be made local and at the hands of the new users.

Do you have leadership reduce, reuse or recycle examples other LIAV reads would benefit from?

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Why ask the Ignorant?

It has been three months since I showed up at the door step of a place of employment.  Do I miss it?  No.  Do I miss the people? Sure.

During this time we have taken on many important projects, events, trips and tasks.  Now that I have a bit more time, each of these start with a research phase.  “Dr. Google” knows everything and everyone. This allows access to the people that have solved the problem before.  For the same reason each of us add value in our professions, it is the expertise we each have that makes us valuable in the workforce.

If this is true, then why is it that so many people get their advice outside of work from family, friends and neighbors.  We ask the “ignorant” important questions that have long term impacts on our lives.  PLEASE do not be confused.  Ignorant does not indicate a lack of intelligence!  It simply means “unknowing.”  We all can’t know everything.  Many of my current questions have to do with next careers, finance and risk management.  I’m locating and talking to the experts that have proven track records.  People like to share and help those that come behind them.  They are mentoring just as we have done.

Do you seek out the best to answer your questions? 

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Multi-tasking, brain chemicals or rudeness?

I was watching Janet Napolitano,Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, on CSPAN testify on immigration reform and could not miss all the people on the senate panel and in the audience that were viewing their smart phones as she spoke. Many will tell you this is the great efficiency of multi-tasking.

The same day a Steve emailed me his thoughts on the new book by Nicholas Carr titled “The Shallows: What the Internet is doing toour Brains.  Nicholas presents a hypothesis that “our brains have chemically changed over time to adapt to an age of instant information in short snippets which allow us to gain large amounts of information in a short period of time, without delving too far into the topic.” So maybe there is something to the “crackberry” theory!

But then again, perhaps many of us and our leaders have simply lost the basic skill of being polite and listening.

Which side of this argument do you reside? Do you understand the generational differences of this debate and how you bridge them?

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Innovate or evaporate

I recently weaned off years of corporate a provided Blackberry to a personal smart phone.  What a fantastic product and a true lesson of innovation.  The smart phone does so much and is so user friendly.  The geeks get the credit.

Products seem to get all the focus when it comes to innovation.  Sure, leaders must have the insight to provide the funding and vision to allow the geeks to take off with their ideas, but what about leadership innovation at its basic level.  What should leaders be looking for in assessing their team’s innovation?  There are a plenty!  Leadership innovation includes process improvements, recruiting successes, team maturity accomplishments, virtual skill development, and business model overhauls.  Innovation should be assessed in all we do and of those around us.  In fact, leaders need to be careful to not set a tone of technical innovation being more important than business innovation.  They work hand-in-hand.

What have you done lately to encourage business model innovation? 

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Have a FULL Day

Not surprisingly, Bill reached out to me in the mist of the NCAA basketball tournament. While we were working colleagues for a long time, basketball was a shared passion.  We are both focused on achievements outside the traditional workplace at this time, but Bill sent me a great reminder. 

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."  (JimmyValvano’s 1993 ESPY Speech)

 If Jim Valvano can give a speech with this strong positive message in the middle of a failing cancer fight, think what you can accomplish.  Reach out to someone you have not touched in a while.  Give someone a second chance.  Help someone.  Lead by example.

Have you laughed, thought and cried today?  How do you keep your days special and assist those around you to do the same?

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