Archive | May, 2010

17 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

two for change

two for change

There are two layers to change: the people and the environment. Change only one and, well, no change.


This isn’t necessarily the physical person. Sure, there are people who don’t work out in the role that they are in. Many people are in a place where they really cannot succeed. Nobody is stupid, however everybody is good with at least one thing and this may not be that thing for this person.

People’s attitudes can and often change too. Add a few new faces to the environment and people will tend toward the people that are most like themselves or what they perceive themselves to be. Failing that, the person with the most promising story or aesthetically pleasing qualities. Yes, human beings are fickle that way (for example; the draw of the busty blonde sales girl in the technology sector remains, sexism aside, an incredibly effective mechanism to make sales).

If the environment stays the same, people and their attitudes default back to how things were. Even a new person will naturally gravitate to the behaviors and flow of the environment surrounding them, which is most often the same behavior as the person they succeeded.


The seating arrangements, the processes, the interactions between people, the way to gather people together, the communication channels, the nature and attitude of the communications, the lighting, the software packages, the color of the walls and flooring, the brand of coffee and what people wear all have a strong psychological effect on those immersed in the environment.

Cube farms are especially strong, unmovable constants in any environment. It’s almost a nest-like paradigm at play to those forced to be in them for eight hours every working day.

Change the environment and you begin to agitate the people in it. This causes discomfort, which is not a bad thing. It is change you are after, after all, and it is not going to come about without some element of anxiety.

However, changing the environment but not adapting or modifying people’s roles and purpose in that environment encourages the pull back to how things used to be.

Inspire the people you have to want to do something different, something infinitely better. Spend time with every person individually and find out what their one great skill or talent is then change their world to make the most of this for your business. Adapt the world around them to let them be the best they can at this.

As an example: if a person is in technical support, complaining about how the company is not helping the customers as best they should be… don’t beat them up for complaining. Don’t listen and ignore.

Change their responsibilities and put them in charge of customer support (and fire or move the person who is in charge of that today, as they may not be doing the best job they can be). Physically move their seat and desk and place them in a different setting. Tell everyone that this person is now in charge of how customer’s are dealt with. If this person wins, lots of other people win.

Shift the attitude of people and surroundings ninety degrees out of kilter from where it was and watch the change take hold and spread.

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16 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

you be you

you be you

In an office environment there are good people, great people and bad people. They surround you and you cannot help but be influenced by them. Hopefully you are more drawn to the characteristics of the better ones, naturally, however never underestimate how rapidly a negative personality burns through a team too.

The classic copycat characteristic is to behave like your boss. Or their boss if a double jump up the ladder is desired. Often there are people who are incredibly charismatic, seemingly powerful or apparently successful. Staff navigate toward these beacons of the workplace and they are often emulated and adored. There is always a smaller minority who sits and criticizes these most prevalent characters.

All adoration does not matter in the context of getting things done. Not one tiny bit. Replace ‘office environment’ for ‘high school’ and the same social dynamic applies with more or less the same emotive effects.

But what is so special about the beacon that draws people to him or her? Have they read the right books? Attended the right business schools and were taught the right way to behave? Unlikely. They are more likely simply being themselves.

Forced behavior is obvious. People, everyone, can see through this layer of facade exceptionally easily. We are all naturally skilled at spotting this.

In the age of the factory to be like someone else was important. It was a desirable quality when management considered switching out a cog in their machine for a better, more appealing cog.

In the age of the knowledge worker people should be naturally self-directed and working to make their surrounding world better, rather than collecting a regular wage for attendance or adhering to ’smaller, faster, cheaper’ principles.

In seeking the beacon to follow, people aren’t looking for the best, shiniest, most charismatic cog in the machine. Nor should you be.

Be yourself. Don’t emulate someone else, especially someone in your immediate surroundings. If you believe something should be done a certain way, do it that way even if those around you would likely not have.

You are paid to be you. You need to be you because people around you need you to be you. Be the beacon for everyone around you.

(If you are in a company that only values having cogs in a machine, what are you going to do about it?)

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10 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

thirty minutes a day

thirty minutes a day

If you restricted checking, writing and responding to emails to just thirty minutes a day…

Only two and a half hours of your working week would be taken up with email. That’s just 6% of your Monday to Friday hammering the keyboard to clear your way through the modern equivalent of the paper memo stack.

A five-day-week work habit turns into a mere 122 and a half hours a year hunched over a keyboard, smacking keys to continue ever lengthening threads of notes from your colleagues.

That’s only three entire weeks of your business year typing to avoid picking up the phone and calling someone. Possibly even lifting cheeks off seats and walking over to the people for whom a quick conversation would avoid the need to type out an explanation and a request.

But you don’t spend just thirty minutes a day on email, do you?

(feel free to remove the term ‘email’ and insert Facebook, Twitter or the name of your favorite social media cocaine instead)

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07 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

street sweeper

street sweeper

There’s one wise saying that has stuck with me since childhood: “it’s better to be the world’s best street sweeper than an average boss”. My dad said it and I cannot for the life of me remember the context or exactly when he told it to me (though I’m certain he said it more than once).

Decades have passed by since I first heard it and only now does it truly make sense to me.

The “Peter Principle” famously states “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”. It’s not difficult to find examples of this. Lots of them. Incompetence is only one factor that renders poor Peter useless. Fear, anxiety, lack of experience, absence of mentors, ego, jealousy. Poor Peter.

Any person’s natural instinct is to jump on that ladder and climb. The bigger the jump in steps, the better. A hierarchy in a company is it’s own game show. Must win. Must be the first. Want to control EVERYTHING.

Inside every person is a core value. Not a ‘be nice to everyone’ or ‘save the planet’ value, but rather one thing that makes you want to stay awake at night to finish something and has you jumping out of bed in the morning to carry on with it. It’s in your blood and you’re incredible when you do it. For me it’s Product Management – starting from zero to fully launching a new product to a receptive audience, with everyone around you happily along for the ride. What’s yours?

Does this mean pausing at a point in a company where you’re doing what you love should be confused for lack of ambition, laziness or corporate insanity? Definitely not.

Be the street sweeper. Be the best one in the world. Do it with heart and pride and people will notice, the world will be a better place because you’re doing something you care about and the legacy you leave will inspire others.

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06 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

floor’s on fire

floor’s on fire

Simply put: do not sit on problems. Sort them out and do it quickly. If you’re standing watching the floor burn, it’s going to reach you at some point.

In a parallel of the ‘broken windows theory’ , a problem left alone will begin to breed like a disease. People will notice it. They will start to comment and be affected by it. The problem will move to the epicenter of everything else you are aiming to accomplish and, if left long enough, will likely encompass your other goals.

That’s not healthy and it’s completely avoidable. Kill a problem and kill it quick.

Whether it be a misunderstanding, a misrepresentation, a truth that’s distracting or even a person who is agitating and proving chaotic – aim for the heart of the issue and get it resolved.

The people around you will appreciate the quick resolution.

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01 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – grow

Could not be further from the truth. Well, at least you and I know that’s the case.

Give your people room to breath and a bright, shining light to grow toward.

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