Levels, Roles, and Leadership Throughout

Something I've been chewing on recently is the notion that hierarchy and titles are antiquated concepts, especially for organizations looking to keep pace in (as Thomas L. Friedman has termed it) the age of accelerations. From my perspective, structuring a work force according to a hierarchy impedes the movement of people. A hierarchy implies that you work in one area for someone on certain things and need to take a new job in a different area for someone else to work on other things. When it comes to title, they tend to be narrow or skill-oriented (like "project manager, "customer service representative," or "accountant") and rarely reflect the reality of what a person really brings to the table. These sorts of titles lead to assumptions about a person's ability to contribute…
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The result in front of us

One of my leaders shared what a former leader of his told him: if you’re happy with the result in front of you, then it must be the one you’re willing to accept. This statement cuts right through all the bluster and BS we tell ourselves as to why something didn’t land or turn out. You know the truth when you look in the mirror and ask, in your heart of hearts, if this is your best. Those who are always striving for better will know it’s time to head back to work; the rest will shrug and move on. I read the article, Mediocrity Is A Virus, by Benjamin P. Hardy and it reminded me of how easy it can be to shrug and move on. Take these statements from the…
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What’s one day?

At one point or another, someone (a person, a team, or an organization) has done something that's diminished the trust you have in them. I'll use an example of funding a mortgage where, from the outside, it seems straightforward: transfer money from the financial institution's account to the lawyer's account on this day and time so the customer can take the first step into their new home. Ask around and, no matter who a person banks with, these organizations have missed on hitting the date. Another example is you've ordered something and been promised delivery the day before you're leaving on vacation. In the Amazon Age, this has become an expectation of online retailers. But the delivery day comes and goes and you have to set off without that item…
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Do more by narrowing your focus

A meeting once a week (with no end in sight) to make improvements will result in two things: 1. No timely progress. 2. Frustration and annoyance by people who are in the habit of getting shit done. Instead of having 20 things on the go at the same time - each with their one hour weekly meeting - let's focus on 2 or 3 in a month and drive them out to release or completion. Then onto the next iteration or the next thing. Clear your calendar for a day or a week, get in a room, and get it done. We can't afford to wait for a year to go by and see the first (and only?) iteration of 20 things finish at about the same time. Better to…
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Declaring “work” dead

It's time to list out everything we've got on our plates and declare a bunch of "work" dead. A possible litmus test: the project or initiative has stalled, doesn't deliver on our strategy, fails to create value for customers, or does little to enhance the team member experience. If any (or heaven forbid all of those) criteria are met, declare it dead and over. Tell the sponsor or person who asked you to do the work that it's dead. If they want to start it back up in the future and brings resources, great. Until then, there are a tonne of other things to work on.
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Breaks and whitespace

Last week was a hell of a first week. I’m charged up, reeling, and boiling over with ideas, reflections, and curiosity. If you could see inside my head, it would look like a fireworks factory on fire. On Friday night, I felt absolutely brain dead; stunned by the pace of the week. Saturday it really sunk in: the sheer amount of work ahead and scope of what we've set out to accomplish over the next 30, 90, and 270 days as a company (spoiler: it's not just about the tools). Sunday delivered a key reinforcement of the idea that breaks and whitespace are important. I’ve come across this topic several times in the past month so it felt natural to write about it. We’ve all had the experience of looking…
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On Performance Reviews and Ratings

Performance review season tends to come once or twice a year. I've had formal reviews of my performance and goals both semi-annually and annually and can honestly say I found neither approaches effective. The fundamental problem with the length of time between performance reviews is that the feedback from six or, heaven forbid, twelve months ago is in no way timely and consequently no longer relevant. Being told about something I could have done differently six months ago was beyond aggravating. How could I be expected to change my behaviour when no one told me? And, if you know me, I like to be right (or at least do things the right way); telling me sooner means I can take steps to correct my behaviour immediately instead of continuing on oblivious. The worst feeling I've ever had was when I thought everything was going really well and…
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