The question is not simply, “What must I do to make a difference?” but also “What must I learn to make a difference?”
According to Fast Company, it looks like Facebook will soon link geo-location information to your actions on the site.
Chip and Dan Heath have a good article on how sometimes you don’t need to “think outside of the box.” Instead, you might just need a different box because constraints can free your team’s thinking.
Tom Peters gives a good example from 3M of what a culture that encourages entrepreneurial activity looks like:
A good staring point as any is [3M’s] value system, in particular its “eleventh commandment.” It is: “Thou shalt not kill a new product idea.”
The company may slow it down. Or it may not commit a venture team. But it doesn’t shoot its pioneers.
As one 3M observer notes, the eleventh commandment is at odds with most activities in large corporations. Moreover, he adds, “If you want to stop a project aimed at developing a new product, the burden of proof is on the one who wants to stop the project, not the one who proposes the project. When you switch the burden from proving that the idea is good to the burden of proving that the idea is not good, you do an awful lot for changing the environment within the company with respect to the sponsorship of entrepreneurial people (In Search of Excellence, pp 227-228).
Joe Duffy has a great article at Fast Company on the importance of thinking beyond the notions of a 9-5, in-the-office mentality for keeping fresh, staying engaged, and generating new ideas.
Here’s an important point for decision-making from Drucker’s The Effective Executive (129):
One of the most obvious facts of social and political life is the longevity of the temporary. British licensing hours for taverns, for instance, French rent controls, or Washington “temporary” government buildings, all three hastily developed in World War I to last “a few months of temporary emergency” are still with us fifty years later.
The effective decision-maker knows this. He too improvises, of course. But he asks himself every time, “If I had to live with this for a long time, would I be willing to?” And if the answer is “no,” he keeps on working to find a more general, a more conceptual, a more comprehensive solution–one which establishes the right principle.
In this down economy, a lot of people are looking for jobs. Part of the interviewing process is asking good questions of the interviewer.
Marcus Buckingham lists three questions you should always ask, and I think he’s right:
- What are the three top priorities for the person in this position during the next ninety days?
- What are the key strengths you’re looking for in the person you select for this position? How do these strengths relate to what this position is responsible for?
- How would you describe the company culture? Would you give me some examples of the culture in action?
First, you ask about top priorities so you can know what’s expected, especially at the start, and so you can identify if the employer has sufficiently thought through the position. If they don’t know what to expect, you won’t know what to expect. (And one of the three priorities they list will hopefully be: learn the position well.)
Second, you ask about strengths because the purpose of any organization is to make strength productive and because you will be at your best when you are in a role that calls upon your strengths. If the organization does not have this mindset, it’s a yellow flag and it may not serve you to work there. So you want to know if they think in terms of maximizing strengths. Also, you want to know if the position matches your strengths and thus if you truly are a good fit.
Third, you ask about the culture because this is fundamental to knowing your “fit” and because you want to work for organizations with a healthy culture. One of the best answers a potential employer could give to this question is: “Trust.”
And one last thing: Present your true self. First, this is right. Second, the interview will go better. Third, it won’t serve you or the company if you get the job on the basis of an inaccurate understanding of your fit for the position.
A good article by Chip and Dan Heath.
Chip and Dan Heath’s latest article in Fast Company is on how sometimes you don’t need to solve your problem, but instead need to look for the folks who already have.
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic.
This is a great article by Patrick Lencioni:
Maybe it was just the kind of kid I was, but I’m guessing that most children are constantly reminded by adults to be more efficient. Maybe not exactly in those words. More likely it comes in the form of phrases like “don’t be late”, “use your time wisely”, “don’t waste money” or even “turn off the lights when you leave a room”.
And while it’s difficult to argue with a parent’s or teacher’s or coach’s motivation for instilling these principles in the youngsters they’re responsible for, there comes a time in life—especially in certain situations—when those very traits become problematic. One of those situations is the call to innovation or creativity.
I’ve become convinced that the only way to be really creative and innovative in life is to be joyfully inefficient. Again, maybe it’s just my personality, but I’m guessing it applies to most of us whose jobs or lives involve dreaming up or improving on new ideas. And this makes sense. Asking someone to be both creative and efficient reminds me of that quote from Einstein: “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” The two activities are fundamentally opposed to one another.
Efficiency requires that we subdue our passion and allow it to be constrained by principles of logic and convention. Innovation and creativity require us to toss aside logic and convention, even without the near-term promise of a payoff. Embracing both at the same time seems to me to be a recipe for stress, dissonance and mediocrity, and yet, that is exactly what so many organizations—or better yet—leaders, do.
They exhort their employees to utilize their resources wisely and to avoid waste and redundancy, which makes perfect sense. They also exhort them to be ever-vigilant about finding new and better products or processes, which also makes sense. And yet, combining these two perfectly sensible exhortations makes no sense at all, and only encourages rational, responsible people to find a middle ground, something that is decidedly neither efficient nor innovative.
So what are leaders, who want both, to do? First, choose their poison; decide which of these two characteristics are truly more important and live with the consequences. And when you simply have to have both, create skunkworks efforts which allow a small group of people to be joyfully inefficient. No guilt. No confusion. No hesitation. And keep them largely separate from their efficient peers, at least until they’ve developed their ideas and are ready to share them.
But whatever you do, don’t chide creative, innovative people for their inefficiency. And try to avoid throwing faint praise and backhanded compliments at them (e.g. “I guess you creative types just aren’t capable of hitting a deadline or staying on budget”). Few people have the self-esteem and courage to continue being inefficient when others are calling them out as being flaky, irresponsible and unreasonable. If we’re serious about innovation, we have to celebrate—yes, celebrate—the inefficiency of the people who we rely on for new ideas, even if it means they are late for meetings, they waste a little time or money and they leave the lights on when they go home.
Update: This is from Patrick Lencioni’s monthly email newsletter. It’s not posted on his site yet (as of Thursday morning), but you can find all of his past newsletters there (and this one should be there shortly). I would highly recommend signing up to receive his monthly newsletters, which you can do here.