Tuesday, April 22, 2014

10 Signs Your Change Initiative Stands A Chance


Change initiatives are notoriously prone to failure. As an employee you want to learn how to be a weathervane. Which way is the wind blowing? How do we make the most of good weather, and set the damage from a thunderstorm right?

You also want to know what a good mix of positive indicators looks like. Here are 10 pretty reliable ones that a change initiative is going well. (You can infer from their opposite when it's not.) Note that they tend to occur in combination and reinforce each other - just like ketchup and mustard look strangely good sitting side by side.

1. Leadership has stated the vision in broad terms.Middle management can translate that vision into action items. Staff can say it in an elevator ride.

2. People are excited to talk about it.

3. Cultural readiness is apparent as people seem impatient to just start implementing already.

4. Opportunity presents itself in the form of distinct "easy wins" toward the bigger picture.

5. Team members have a way to align their natural talents with goals in such a way that they are self-motivated as well as largely self-directed. 

6. People can join the team and understand what it's working toward fairly easily.

7. The scope of the change initiative can be modified without losing focus, because all have a fixed gaze on the ultimate destination. 

8. The organization is willing to accept some level of sacrifice in the name of achieving the overarching goal.

9. Commitment over time becomes an ingrained part of the process - people expect it to take years, not months.

10. Resources are committed to get the job done well - it's not a setup for failure.

* All opinions my own. Photo by me.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrating Genius As A Form Of Diversity


A lot of companies talk about innovation, but few are prepared for dealing with actual creative people. They hire for uniqueness and then complain that unique people drive them not to celebrate, but drown their sorrows in drink. (At 7-Eleven you can go either way.)

I am that type of person. Not book-smart, necessarily, but "out there," outside the box, radical. I'll do anything to solve the problem. My mind is on the Rubik's Cube 24/7 - creative, workaholic, dramatic, demanding and obsessed with perfection. Spacey, because I'm thinking. Awkward, because introverted. Dramatic. And so on.

I understand that it's a lot for people to handle. But there is also no workplace where we really dialogue about what creativity means and how it manifests itself among a "normal" team. More than that how to encourage creativity at all levels and stages of one's career.

Really all of us are geniuses at something, I have found - it's just a matter of discovering which thing. Certainly we are different, there's no two ways about it. Particularly because we need innovators so badly nowadays, it is important to take the time to learn people's unique methods and preferences at work, rather than thinking about "norming" teams. I don't want boring norming. I want a creative storm!

A long time ago I visited the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and remembered how I once wanted to be a designer. That particular gift was not mine, but I still think with awe about the craft. Giorgio Armani, Betsey Johnson, Donna Karan...fashion is a RUSH. When you see it, you feel it. Just like beautiful jewelry, architecture, haute cuisine, and on and on.

The students at FIT all looked kind of freaky, and I felt right at home. It reminded me of living in Greenwich Village in the late '80s. You could never be "out there" enough - everyone was out-"freaking" everyone.

It shouldn't be a contest of course. But we would be so much better off, and so much richer as a country and a world, if we could just appreciate each other for the vibrant beings we truly each are.

*All opinions my own. Photo by me.




Trend: Vintage Feminist

Snapped pics of these items in a shoe store on Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, and got the sense that they exemplify a trend. (Not sure of the name, but we're seeing this type of stuff in a bunch of places.)







There's also a lot of gladiator going on right here in terms of women's shoes, but haven't got a great photo just yet. Also dandelions, and massive necklaces.



* All opinions my own. No endorsement or non-endorsement expressed or implied. Photos by me.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blame Hitler


In "Hush" a young girl's friend is effectively murdered, and the ghost knocks at her window in her dreams until she pursues justice.

Today I started reading "Unchosen," by Hella Winston. Normally disdainful of books, I walked in the street fixated to the Kindle. And suddenly started to cry uncontrollably.  

(Like the writer Nora Ephron said, you have to put the pain on paper or it lives in your head forever.)

My entire nuclear family on my father's side, which I have never understood in proper sociological or historical context, could have been lifted, in a certain sense, from Chapter 1.

It talks about Yossi, a young Hasidic man who shaves his sidelocks and beard in a gesture of freedom.

Yossi's parents strictly forbade any contact with the outside world and he had barely any education. 

His grandparents were raised in New York City and had not known such stricture until the post-Holocaust immigrants arrived from Eastern Europe. They adopted it. 

Yossi is one of so many people who cannot live within the restrictions of their communities, and yet they cannot reject it and still be a loved part of the group.

It's not exactly my historical story, but close. My own father's parents both survived the camps - physically intact if not necessarily emotionally. He is a playful guy who loves American culture. And he married my mother because he loves her, in an act of rebellion against arranged marriages and the values represented by his Hasidic dad. 

Like Yossi's grandfather, my Zayde went from wearing American style suits to Eastern European garb. In a community where the rabbis blamed assimilation and Zionism for the concentration camps.

My father was always ambivalent about his act of independence. It was a slap in the face to his father. By being who he was, he had broken the rules - which left him forever marked and shamed, no matter whether anyone said it aloud or not. 

For her part, my beautiful, loving, sincere mother was always treated as inferior. I could not stomach this, and how my dad seemed to hypocritically shift between enforcing Old World rules and pursuing New World freedom.

Nobody chose to live this tragedy. It was all inflicted on us by the actions of one evil man, may he burn forever in Hell, and those who went along with him.

My aunt, on my mother's side, lives up in Monsey and is super-strictly religious. She became that way so her kids could marry. And she thinks she knows why I'm not religious. 

"Blame Hitler," she once said. "He really fucked your family up."

It's true. Hitler directly killed six million. And then he systematically destroyed many of those who survived. Because the families that remained looked for a way to explain the unexplainable and they tried to carry out an insane kind of logic on their kids.

Of course keeping out the outside world doesn't work. Just like we don't know why the Holocaust happened. Just like my mother and my father and their now-deceased parents before them (may they rest in peace), were all victimized.

Some people find it odd that I - rejecting most religious ritual personally - feel so passionately about defending the right of people to be religious. And to discover themselves in religious community.

But structured faith is essential to life, like water, for many. Even for those who are not traditionally religious, like me. 

May G-d have mercy on all our souls, and grant all the Yossies and Chanas a joyful escape from the purgatory of the streets they wander, sometimes literally. May we find solace in a place where everyone is cherished for simply being who they are.

* All opinions my own. Photo by me.



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