Monday, April 28, 2008

Empty Your In Box---Increase Your Productivity

A few weeks ago, I read a time management tip about "emptying" your In Box (From Randy Pausch's Time Management Seminar). I'd always used my In Box as a kind of memory jogger on different things, in addition to my to-do and follow-up lists. I decided to try Randy's tip. It's amazing, how well it has worked. I've noticed a tremendous increase in my productivity. I don't go back to old messages, that I've read dozens of times before to remind myself what to do--after all I've already put the item in a to-do or follow-up. Why have another location to confuse and slow me down?

Randy, thanks for a great but simple tip. It's made a big difference for me. Try it.

On the other hand you might remember:

  • One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries."--A.A. Milne,author of "Winnie-the-Pooh"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Globalization---Imposing Our Standards

We work with many organizations in globalization. One of the most common things we encounter is the tendency for the organization to impose its standards and norms on its customers and partners in other regions. American companies want to impose the American ways of doing business wherever they are--Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa. Likewise, companies in other regions do the same thing in entering new geographies.

This is a sure formula for failure. To be successful, we need to understand the norms and standards of the region or country and adapt for success. This does not mean sacrificing an organization's value system, ethics. or other important things. It does mean being open to different ways of doing things and recognizing that nothing is black and white.

Today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on the experience of one venture capital organization in doing business in China. It provides good lessons for any organization seeking to move into new geographies. The article is: Building Trust, Chinese Style.

When People Don't Want To Change

One of the frustrating things we encounter in helping improve organizational performance is driving change--particularly with people who don't want to change.

Marshall Smith has a great perspective on this in his Harvard Business Review Blog. He says---"Let it go." "Don't waste your time."

It's a good post, take the time to read it: When People Don't Want To Change.

Investing In Developing Your People

It seems fewer and fewer organizations invest in developing and retaining their people. Too often, people seem to be viewed as commodities. It is great to see executives recognize this and are taking action to improve performance.

A client, Sean Harrigan, Senior Vice President of Sales for Laird Technologies, is one of those rare executives. There is a great article about what he is doing in Workforce Management.

I'm convinced the strategies Sean is implementing are critical to sustaining performance and growth in any organization.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Keeping Priorities Straight

Reading the New York Times article: Keeping Priorities Straight, Even At The End , I was reminded about the related story I read last Fall. I am inspired by the courage, perspecitve and humor of Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon. Dr. Pausch is dying of Pancreatic Cancer. Last September, he delivered is "final lecture" on Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. I've watched the lecture and read the transcript. It is inspirational. It's not a lecture about cancer or dying, it's a lecture about living a full life.

It's a fun and genuinely interesting talk, certainly worthwhile reading/watching. The links are above.

The New York Times article reminded me of the lecture, also it announces Dr. Pausch's book. If it is anywhere as moving as his lecture, it is likely to be a worthwhile read. I have it on order and encourage others to do so.

If you're having a tough day and want to get your head above the weeds, take the time to read/watch the lecture. It helps clear your mind and put things in proper perspective.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Guilty As Charged

Email is both a wonderful tool and something that can get in the way of effective communications. Too often, we ---- I plead guilty in this case ----- use email when a direct conversation is more appropriate. Somehow email is so easy, in a few seconds, I can send a missile across the world. I can hit as many targets as choose, then I can run and hide.

All of it is too easy, and is probably not great for effective communications. Yesterday, I noticed, I sent a colleague an email message, I got an immediate email response, to which I responded, and then we went back and forth 3 or 4 more times. Kind of like playing electronic Ping Pong across the country. At the same time, I think we both realized how ridiculous this was, he picked up the phone and called, we had a great conversation.

This posting was provoked based on a nice post on "PickTheBrain" called "Don't Let A Reliance On Email Kill You Communication." A few key points (verbatim from the post):
  1. Email is One-to-One. Although you can use Reply to All and mailing lists, email works best between two people. This means group conversations are difficult to continue.
  2. Email is Time Delayed. Conversations work best when there is a rapid flow of feedback. If your messages are hours or days apart, this makes chatting difficult.
  3. Email is Written. While there are written mediums of communication that work well for chatting, it is never as good as human speech. Text removes the tonality, body language and subtle cues that make a conversation interesting.
  4. Email is Bloated. People already get too many emails. Adding to that pile lengthy conversations means your messages will get ignored or skimmed.
I'd add a fifth:
  • Email is One Way. Email does not establish an effective dialog or conversation.
The entire article is very good, take the time to read it.

One final thing, before you hit that send button, pause a moment and think, should I pick up the phone?