Search This Blog

10 Things I Would Do As "CEO" For A Day

Sometimes it's fun to do a thought exercise where you're in charge. Here's the result of mine. It focuses on government. (What would you do if you were instantly made leader of the place where you work?)
1) Stand up an Office of Human Capital to absorb HR, Training, Workforce Effectiveness, Organizational Development. Mandate 360s. Post results in the aggregate, internally.
2) Crowdsource a 360 of the Agency by any interested party - what functions are inherently Agency, which can be accomplished through shared services (interagency), which should be contracted out. Post the results publicly.
3) Stand up an Office of Citizen Engagement to absorb all communication, open data and data release functions.
4) Eliminate any "administrative" category of work as a catchall and replace it with specific functions - customer service, project management, knowledge management, etc. Retrain existing administrative assistants to perform these functions.
5) Implement Google Apps or a similar cloud-based work solution that easily enables secure work anywhere, anytime.
6) Stand up an Office of Employee Mobility to enable telework, virtual collaboration, use of mobile devices.
7) Stand up a separate Office of Internal Communication to enable two-way feedback between Agency and employee. Staff it, fund it, etc.
8) Stand up an Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution to help deal with workplace conflict before it escalates into time-consuming formal complaints, litigation, etc.
9) Stand up an Office of Public-Private Partnerships to bring in the private sector, academia and government-watching organizations that can help the Agency function more optimally.
10) Implement a powerful electronic customer service helpdesk solution to handle inquiries internally and externally. It should include chat, text, email, and telephone support. It should guide people to parts of the website that can answer inquiries.
The above 10 steps would go a long way to optimizing the functions of the agency and retaining talented people who want to be a part of the solution to the problems that currently exist.
Note: Of course, all opinions are my own and every Agency varies.

What Did You Accomplish? Only You Know

Maybe it's true that "most men lead lives of quiet misery."

But I think it's also fair to say - "most people's happy moments go completely unnoticed."

The other night, motivational speaker Tony Robbins appeared on Piers Morgan's talk show.

He said happiness comes from living a meaningful life. Set a goal, make a plan, find joy in a journey that matters.

Nothing new to talk about that.

What's novel is to choose a path that is meaningful FOR YOU.

I've never believed that you cleanly set goals and reach them. Too much happens to interfere with such a simple path.

Rather I believe that life throws you a baseball. You lean in with your baseball bat and give it a "thwack."

Somewhere in the process of being bombarded and hitting back, you clear a path forward and hopefully, occasionally -- or even once -- strike it big.

When you have those moments it is likely that nobody knows. Or cares. The only one who is truly aware of the significance is you.

And that's because you've spent so much time and energy building up toward that moment. Against every obstacle, you stayed the course, even plowed ahead.

Don't think you have to be Zuckerberg or Branson or Trump to be a winner. Not everything can, or even should, go on your résumé.

In the end the biggest winners in life walk around with quiet contentment on their faces. They put in the effort and climbed the mountain. And it shows.

The Irrational Bureaucracy: 5 Paradoxes Government Must Solve To Be Relevant

1) The nature of bureaucracy is to impose order, but the nature of bureaucrats is to impose complexity on that order.
2) Governance is required for team productivity, but the most productive employees are normally the least governable.
3) Employees provide most of the value in any bureaucracy, but the nature of bureaucracy is to devalue the employee.
4) Bureaucracy relies on the flow of information to run effectively, but its structures tend to stifle the flow of information.
5) Information economies rely on rules-based organizations, but the proliferation of rules prevents the fast adaption that information economies require.

"I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar"

Niceness is a curse. You can be a nice person -- you can treat other people nicely -- but never fall into the trap where you **need** other people to call you that.

When men are powerful, decisive and stand their ground, they are "strong."

When women do exactly the same thing --and somebody disagrees with them or wants to take away their power -- get ready for the "B" word.

I used to be afraid to be called a "B." But one day I realized - "B's" have more fun. We get things done. We laugh loudly. We swing our arms with joy.

We don't need to always look pretty and shiny and sweet.

Some people take the "B" thing too far. But my thing is, who am I to tell them so? Liberation means you can do what you want - and be judged equally to a man when you act badly.

Not all "B" words violate the rule of politeness. It also stands for "barracuda." I am proudly one of those.

One day I hope that all women wake up and embrace our inner "B" word. If we did, I think we'd be a much happier, less repressed, and less passive-aggressive group.

The Suze Orman of Personal Branding

Whether you are describing a product or introducing a person, always relate them to something familiar.

"She works in Company X. That's kind of like the Google of B2B."

"It plays movies on a little screen. Kind of like a personal DVD player on a notebook."

People fear the unfamiliar. Sometimes they reject it outright, just because it's new.

To gain acceptance, associate new things with old things as if the old thing got a fresh coat of paint.

10 Reputation Mistakes You're Making Right Now

1. Ignoring gossip: By its nature you cannot hear it, but it affects you whether you are listening or not.

2. Waiting for complaints: People attack in packs. Early intervention means seeking out customer unhappiness while they are still too timid to "make trouble."

3. Making excuses for no metrics: Google Search is a metric. Twitter js one. Social is free and easy to understand. It costs you nothing.

4. Avoiding the details: Details are not exciting to big-picture types. But a little nail can puncture your tires. Check the fine print.

5. Not communicating to employees: Communication means listening and talking. You can convey confidence and stability just by creating a space for interchange. Nothing new need be said. You can always collect questions.

6. Surrounding yourself with yes-men: It amazes me that anyone still does this. A friend told me my pin was ugly today. Thank you!

7. Avoiding social media: In 2013 if you still can't find your way around LinkedIn, please pay someone to do a profile at the very least. And connect with at least 50 people.

8. Understaffing the PR function: Call us flacks, hacks or spin-meisters. I really don't care. Someone has to translate the simplistic outside view for people internal to the organization who simply specialize in other things.

9. Devaluing sympathetic audiences: Life is like high school - we chase people who disapprove of us, so we can join the cool clique. That is understandable. But it is also a bias and a potentially fatal mistake. Never take your supporters for granted.

10. Overinvesting in the Web: Oh, your castle. Where you have your couch set up just so, and the bookshelves from Ikea. Guess what? Nobody wants to make the trip to your house! See #7: Get thee a specialist in social media engagement.

Reputation management is for every day. It is like brushing your teeth, or getting on the scale. Make sure to weigh in regularly - before you have to take out your pants.

Authenticity Is Overrated

Scenario 1
"Come over here, Mommy. I have to show you something."
"What? I'm working."
"It's _____. Look at this post on Facebook."
I peered over my computer at hers. 
"There he goes again, trying to be cool."
Sometimes you just want a teacher to be a teacher. 

Scenario 2
A month ago, in the hallway, we bump into The Artist.
"How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine."
It is twenty degrees outside and snowing. She is dressed for the beach.
It's none of my business; I focus on the elevator, waiting for it to hit the ground level. But looking at her was jarring.

Scenario 3
The end of a great interview, a few years back.
"So if you got this job..."
Sounds good.
"...and if you had a demoralized workforce..."
Oh. That's interesting, that they would say that.
"...and almost zero when it comes to resources..."
A-ha. O-kay.
"What would you do?"
I responded directly.
"As good as I am, I don't make miracles."
And there's that look in their eyes: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Thoughts Re: Branding
In each of these scenarios, the actor was trying to be "authentic," a norm that did not exist in the past.
  • Before social media, it was obvious to all that there is a time and place for everything - and that you definitely should not always "be yourself."
  • Rather, the norm was "situational appropriateness." You should be that aspect of yourself that is called for in a specific time and place.
  • Along with appropriateness there was "consistency" - that is, you behave relatively the same way in specific kinds of situations. Dependability mattered a lot.
Situational appropriateness + consistency are indispensable to building a brand, whether it's personal or organizational. Because in order for me to trust that your brand is real, I must know that you are in touch with what is expected and that you will deliver on that.
(Really we are talking about customer service here.)
How do you get to the point where people can actually deliver?
First there is that attitude adjustment - the ability to think outside-in and the willingness to deliver. The culture.
After that, two other skills are required, foundationally:
  • One of them is technology: You must be able to learn the tools that will enable you to deliver customer service quickly and easily.
  • The other is project management: You must know exactly what it is that you are providing (it's not a single phone call answered, or a single installation, but the whole interaction with the customer around a specific instance). And you must think in terms of delivering  on time, on budget and to spec as part of a team. 
Situational appropriateness + consistency = culture of customer service.
Culture of customer service + technology + project management = foundation of brand.
When you have that foundation in place you are walking - after that you can start to run, and then fly.
Do you see how insisting on "authenticity" can block this?
Because basic capabilities such as the above are "boring," not sensational. Yet they are key to delivering professional service.
There are a few people - the Steve Jobs' of the world (RIP) - who can be unpredictable, spontaneous balloons of creativity and those people should always be "themselves." Even if they do tend to rant and rave a little.
But for the vast majority of us - those who are not spouting genius with every word - it is far more important to be audience-aware and consistent.
People who know what the customer wants and can deliver on that are well-situated for success.
A quick way to think of all this is "McDonald's french fries."
They may not be the best in all the world - I can think of about ten places that do steak fries greasier, saltier and crisper and with a better sauce - but wherever you get them, you know they will be good, and they will taste exactly the same. That, alone, is a satisfying experience, and it's why if you don't know where to go - you will probably head to Mickey D's first.