Great cultures ,Hacks ,Vision
Alignment is the name of the game, but as you may know from my book, The Culture Blueprint, you can’t force anyone or will not work. Alignment is about a) making the vision clear and b) removing the obstacles to create a true option.
Here is how you do it:
I thought of this on the spot when I met with a leadership team that was arguing. I was amazed that the acronym spells my name.
This can be a project, a goal, a vision, or even alignment to the team. In one case this worked to have everyone commit to the leadership team as their top priority rather than their respective teams each leader is managing.
Ask if each person is all-in. If they are, go to the next. If not, ask them to consider one of the following:
Do you have a request of someone else on the team, or the entire team? The more specific the better. This can be for resources, permissions, or anything else.
Someone may feel they are undervalued and want to participate more. In this case they can offer time, people or resources to anyone else.
Do you have a boundary that is being crossed? This can be a limit in spending, or use of your team, or a policy or a principle.
3. Go Around the Table
Ask if each person is all-in. If they are, go to the next. If not, ask them to consider one of the following:
Once they do this, and the element is agreed upon by the respective person they address, you then ask again: Are you all-in?
This may take several rounds because new things can come up, or someone may have a new offer once they hear another’s request.
Tools ,Values ,Vision
You’ve probably heard this one…
The story about the company that was so excited to bring in the new intranet software so they could finally get everyone on the same page, share knowledge, stay up to date and unify the company, and then… no one used it.
Something happened when we started using the word “Human Capital.” It used to be called “Personnel” – as in real people. But companies got so big that people became numbers. We then start to track them, count them and trade them like they’re any other resource. Just one of several cogs in the machine.
People are emotional, irrational, passionate and full of surprises.
Some will read that and be terrified by that statement.
Others will know that this is the source of innovation, fun and ingenuity that make work exciting and that enable us to solve the world’s biggest problems.
Now that more and more companies understand it’s all about the culture, along come all the people who think software can run the show. Graphs, numbers, input/output, dashboards….
“Ahh, I finally have the feeling that I’m in control of the people situation!”
To be fair, some visual tracking can be very helpful. Especially with simple elegant systems like NPS. But anything more than that comes with a few issues:
1. Survey fatigue
2. Nothing actually happening with the results of said surveys
3. The feeling that people are getting dehumanized
I saw a meme on Facebook that read, “Do you ever notice your successful friends are never posting inspirational quotes?”
In that spirit, have you ever noticed that the really successful cultures aren’t using complex systems to track how happy their people are? When you’re clear on vision and values, and get the right people on board, people can create their own happiness.
Let’s get back to the basics.
In the spirit of the Mr. Rogers documentary that just came out:
“Life is simple and deep.
But we make it complex and shallow.”
“The fastest way to move cattle is sloooooowww.”
Hearing this quote it hit me that maybe moving fast can actually be harmful.
A friend posted about how amazing it was that Google created a Google Glass prototype within a day of the idea. Hmmm… That’s a good innovation story if it were not such a disaster. There are a lot of people out $1500 for a piece of plastic. How is that a win?
I get that we should encourage failure, but what if the irony is that speed of innovation is actually at the root cause of failure?
I was speaking with a company that’s growing tremendously fast and they are hiring hundreds of people in months. That is incredibly risky for culture. Yes, we want to keep up with growth, but at what cost?
Think about Elon Musk and Tesla. They didn’t rush. In fact they said, you can pay us to be on our wait list, and we’ll get back to you when we’re ready.
They took their time, in the name of excellence and quality.
That said, I’m a huge fan of increasing capacity when it comes to customer service. Customers will be forgiving of a lot of errors if they feel they are being given a lot of attention. At Zappos we built up a bench of people because otherwise it’s impossible to answer a call in under a minute.
If you’re thinking about growth, here is the fundamental question to ask yourself…
What is more important? Momentum or Clarity?
Momentum can drive you 100mph into a brick wall. Clarity means no matter what the speed you’re going in the right direction. That’s slow growth. That’s taking more time with innovation.
Great cultures ,Values ,Vision
The latest fascination on the edge of management is “Going Teal.” You can learn about it from the article and from the graphic. I’m only going to make one basic point I’ve seen everyone leave out:
You can’t go straight to Teal.
Notice that what is listed in every other level is still applicable! You can’t simply throw those things out. And if you’re not solid in those areas then that’s where you need to start.
Hacks ,Personal Exploration ,Vision
“It’s either a Hell Yeah, or it’s a No.” – Derek Sivers.
I’ve found this quote to be a great decision making tool. We have so many choices of how to spend our time, money and energy. So why do anything less than a “Hell Yeah!”?
Not only can it be hard to say No to things. It’s not always easy to evaluate an opportunity and understand if it’s really a Hell Yeah.
So here is a decision-making framework I developed.
It starts with, is this my unique ability? (a concept pioneered by Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach). A unique ability is a talent that you have passion and skills for, there is a need for it, and most importantly, you feel it gives you energy.
Next, I’ve found that amorphous opportunities can lack a clear end goal and a first next step. This key to know what we’re committing to.
The last two are my favorites. “If I know for certain this will fail, is it still worth it?” If the answer is yes, it means the journey and the learning make it worth it. If it’s no, then be careful of the ends justifying the means. Can you pick opportunities that are inherently worth it?
And then, “If I know this will be much more work than I thought, is it still worth it?” Projects look so easy when they start, and then all the details come in and we spend far more time than we expected. Do you look at that possibility and say, “Yes! I love working this on anyway, so bring on more of it!” Or do you say, “I’m doing this because it’s fast and quick”?
If your opportunity or idea passes all of these questions, then you’ve got a Hell Yeah! If not, just remember that leaving space in your life or schedule will allow you to focus on what you already care about, or leave space for something new to come in.
This was my answer to the question, “Do you have ADD?” I could not have Adult ADD. That’s a fake disease for people who can’t get things done. But the man asking the question was Dr. Norman Rosenthal, an icon in psychology. He was the man who wrote the book on S.A.D, St. John’s Wart, and Transcendental Meditation. So when he said, “Just humor me and take this test,” I did.
“You are off the charts, ADD,” he said after scoring my test.
I was in shock. I could not believe it.
“And it affirms my theory about you,” he continued. “I know you came here to treat depression, but I think there is a deeper root issue. You have a lot of ideas and projects and you don’t get them done because of ADD. That causes you to stress, so you get very anxious and you work even harder without focusing. Then when you run out of energy from being anxious, you get depressed.”
Then there was the medication test. Ironically, stimulants slow down the brain of someone with ADD. If you don’t have ADD, they feel like having too much coffee. But if you do have ADD, it’s very calming. When I took the medication, it felt like I was relaxed and breathing for the first time.
The long term effects of using stimulants were too risky for me to continue for long, but now I had a new lens – one that I need to remember from time to time as this cycle starts up again.
I have found a very surprising tool for how to deal with the stress of having a lot of ideas. I’m actually using it, right now as I type this. In fact, you’re reading the product of it. Let me explain.
I was listening to Kayne Mantyla of WeFloat.net who has a great definition of stress:
Very simple: Stimulus come in (in the form of anything – conversations, phone calls, problems, challenges, ideas, tasks, requests, entertainment, news). If we have the resources to process them, there is no stress. But if they build up and we can’t process it all, then we get overwhelmed. Then the system is overloaded and we get stressed, sick, annoyed, angry, etc.
The opposite of stress is Integration. That’s what happens when we have strong resources in the form of balanced emotions, healthy bodies, systems to process information, methods of getting things done, etc.
Now I’m sure you can think of many resources such as yoga, meditation, healthy foods, exercise, systems of getting things done, etc. I have another to add. First, more on the problem.
I have so many thoughts, theories, ideas, and projects that I can’t integrate them. In fact, for this year-end review I went through my idea notebook (below) and can’t believe how much I’ve come up with but never really did anything with all these ideas. And I have so many blog post ideas I wrote, but I never actually wrote them. And now my energy is not in them and some of my notes don’t even make sense now.
It’s easy to see why…
We have so much input, especially with media consumption. Think about it this way: How many books, shows, articles, and movies did you consume this year? Now, how many did you create? This is the energetic equivalent of constipation – eating a lot but not processing it all. No wonder so many people are so stressed out!
What we need is to balance the ratio. Less consumption, more creation.
And there is a fantastic manual on it:
This little $7 book is pure gold.
It’s a basic idea, explained beautifully with many examples: Show what you’re working on, show what you’re thinking about. It makes it real. It takes it out of your head, you get feedback and most importantly, you get what’s probably the most rewarding value of all: Contributing to someone else’s life. His other book Steal Like an Artist, is also great. Here’s what he found after writing it:
“Almost all of the people I look up and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. These people aren’t schmoozing at cocktail parties; they’re too busy for that. They’re cranking away in their studios, their laboratories, or their cubicles, but instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding their work, they’re open about what they’re working on.”
It’s just so easy to share. That’s what I’m doing with this blog. And it’s surprised me how my posts have lead to new business that I did not expect.
A friend of mine went to a conference and he said it changed his life. I said, you must share it now. Publicly, openly. It can be a blog post, a podcast, a video recording. Each of us literally hold a complete recording studio, editing facility and broadcast unit within our smart phones. There is no excuse not to share.
This is one of the principles in my new book, The Culture Blueprint.
When I was managing Zappos Insights people would ask, “How can you guys spend so much time giving tours of your company and still focus on your own success?” But that’s exactly it – sharing keeps you accountable and call it spiritual, but what you give comes back around and Zappos’ loyal customers are proof.
We would give away culture books (for free) and still make money. You can still get one here. And we monetized the interest by selling corporate training on culture and service.
That’s why I’m giving away the audio version of my book.
Integration is having the resources to deal with stimuli. Integration is taking the parts of life that seem to run in different directions and connecting them so they fuel each other. Integration is my theme for 2105. More on that in future posts.