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Notes, links, and inspiration about topics related to personal and leadership development.
 


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Punish Inaction"

I've become a major fan of Dev Patnaik's book Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy I'm looking forward to interviewing Dev tomorrow for an upcoming People and Projects Podcast episode.

Don't wait for the interview--get the book now and start reading.

While prepping for the interview I came across what I expect to be my favorite quote for this entire month, from a recent article Dev wrote for BusinessWeek.

The quote is credited to Stanford University engineering professor Jim Adams who said, "Good companies reward success, punish failure, and ignore inaction. Great companies reward success and failure and punish inaction."

This hits on a common theme in both my interview with Michael Roberto about his book Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen and in my discussion with Ralph Heath, author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big: we too often seek first to punish failure instead of learn from it.

Yet the even greater wisdom of the quote has to do with how we deal with inaction. You be the judge. How have you seen inaction most often handled?

Tolerated? Expected? Ignored? Seriously. How many times have you said, "I thought of that years ago!" as someone makes money off an idea you had in the shower but went down the drain because you didn't take action.

"Punish inaction."

Do you want to excel at delivering projects and leading teams? Take those strong words to heart today. And don't just consider the inaction of those on your teams and the stakeholders you work with.

You and I both need to look in the mirror to consider the inaction that has been holding us back.

Do you want to make big things happen this year? Reward success. Enthusiastically learn from mistakes. And develop a disdain for inaction.

P.S. Have you still not taken action on getting a copy of Dev's book? :)

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posted by Andy at 1:52 PM  


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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Leaders are Readers! Here's my Recommended Reading List


If you're like me, there are a lot of books you'd love to read but they just seem to stack up in a pile of good intentions. I don't consider myself a fast reader and I can honestly say that I don't particularly enjoy reading.

But this I know for sure: leaders are learners.

And one very beneficial way to further your learning is to fill your mind with books and other resources that will teach, challenge, and encourage you to be more effective and make a greater impact on your career, family, and the world.

I'm often asked after keynotes and workshops for a list of recommended books. I have recently added a page on our website with book recommendations that I invite you to visit!

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posted by Andy at 5:32 PM  


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Do You Really Want to Lead?

I'm spending the entire week next week with a group of aspiring leaders. They have answered the call of their organization to step up to a leadership role. In addition to more pay, they will also receive many opportunities to make a real difference for their organization.

And most of them are clueless to the challenge ahead.

The truth is that being a leader can be difficult work. It's easy to sit back and criticize someone in a leadership role. I try to remember that when I'm tempted to complain about national political leaders. It's completely different when you are in the chair, at the table, and the decisions rest with you. Leadership is, indeed, not a popularity contest.

Do you really want to be a leader? It's a good question to ask as we start a new year.

The Wall Street Journal had a thought-provoking article on the topic recently. It's worth reading if you have intentions on increasing the scope of your responsibility.

Serving in a leadership role is a tremendously rewarding experience. And it is hard work. I look forward to both inspiring (and sobering) my aspiring leaders next week!

What's your take? Do you remember what expectations you went into your role with? Has it been more challenging than you thought? Send me an e-mail with your thoughts!

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posted by Andy at 6:11 PM  


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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Death By PowerPoint (or video or....)

I know, I know... everybody knows that PowerPoint is all too often abused. Though we are aware of the crime, death by PowerPoint remains way too commonplace in everyday corporate life. This slide show at CIO Magazine's website is a good reminder for us all.

John Medina's book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School does a great job of explaining why good slide manners matter. Get his book, but also check out the "Vision" video on his website.

My observation: the problem isn't just poor slide design. It often starts with a misunderstanding of how to architect an effective message. I watched a video that a friend posted on YouTube to talk about a company that his organization will be partnering with in 2010. It wasn't clear to me whether he was targeting the video for existing customers, prospective customers, or people who want to buy into his franchise idea.

On Monday Night Football this week, IBM paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to show a couple of their Smarter Planet ads, such as this one. Though I find the ads intriguing, it led to an equally intriguing discussion with some friends and family: what is it that IBM actually does these days? I could answer that 25 years ago. Today? I'm not as sure.

To whom are they targeting that ad? Is it worth the cost? The smart minds behind the Smarter Planet initiative clearly think so. I'm not as convinced, based on the discussion around our munchies Monday evening.

My point: whether it's a presentation, a video, an e-mail, a marketing piece, or any other communication, start with the basics: who is my target audience and which of their problems am I addressing? How can I best communicate how we address those problems?

If you can't clearly answer those initial questions, it really doesn't matter how slick (or sick) your PowerPoint slides (or video or....) looks. The message will get lost in the fog.

Do you have a favorite abuse of PowerPoint (or video or web page or....)? Send me a pic or link! Here's to your success communicating today!

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posted by Andy at 7:51 AM  


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Monday, November 16, 2009

You Have One of The Best Jobs in America (at least according to CNN)!

For the record, just having a job these days is a blessing!

But since I get the privilege of working with project managers and other leaders, I was pleased to see that IT Project Managers ranked #5 on CNN/Money Magazine's Best Jobs in America survey.

PM's certainly didn't show up on the list for lowest stress, as any of my project manager colleagues can confirm. Yet the job track of Project Manager continues to be a good career investment.

Are you still procrastinating on getting your PMP certification? If so, check out my overview of how to get your PMP. Invest in your career by getting your PMP in 2010.

P.S. If you're willing to take less money, be a College Professor that teaches project management! Professors hit #3 on the overall list (and #3 on the Least Stressful list). The fact that Education/Training Consultant showed up #1 on the Least Stressful list makes me wonder about the validity of the survey, but I digress. :)

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