Showing posts from May, 2014

Reputation 4.0

In the future your resume will be irrelevant.
Everything you've ever studied, and the feedback you received, will be on the grid and connected to your fingerprint, a microchip, iris recognition or something like that.
Your work experience will be added, tracked by your social security number.
Peer reviews will be added to your jobs in much the same way as it occurs now on LinkedIn, except you'll be getting 360 degree ratings, with words, not just the short kind and not mostly positive.
There will be a 5-star system. You will have to be honest and fair and kind and effective, or nobody will want to work with you.
People with more positive and meaningful search results, updated at consistent intervals, focused on specific topics, will have the advantage.
That's why you should update your social media streams frequently, as well. Get involved with industry activities. Volunteer or teach. Anything involving interaction.
Your personal life will be part of this matrix, so you can't…

The Future of Apps Is Snapfix (10 Rules To Live By)

There was this great commercial on TV the other night for an app I had never heard of. It's called "SnapFix,"and it's so brilliant I can't even believe they really did this.
You take a picture of the problem you're having at home, and Angie's List finds someone automatically who can fix it for you. 
That's incredible! It saves so much time! 
In the old days, if you were lucky, you'd have a single "handyman" who could fix "everything." And you were at their mercy, because you didn't know what they were doing and probably weren't home all day to watch, either.
Angie's List revolutionized the whole process of hiring help with its reviews. Suddenly there is a verified database of people who are joining together to provide feedback on contractors, so you know what to expect in advance.
But then Angie's List went a step further. I don't know what their revenue model is, but someone must have realized that the real gold…

The Problem With Government Social

Life, and death. 
Wanting to know more. To understand.
To share - make a connection.
These are the elemental fibers of social media. They are real, not a fantasy.
Government-generated content too often feels like an affront against what it's supposed to be.
It's like there is a party, and we broke into the party, going "hey, we're cool too."
I don't mind corporate social media as much, because they're explicitly selling.
But much government content, no matter how professional, often has a propagandistic feel, especially in the context of so much scandal.
Unless it's pure educational fact. Not self-serving. Beneficial to the people it reaches.
There are reasons why so much of government social media, and communication for that matter, looks the way it does. It's safe. It's marketing. But it's junk food - not healthy in the long term.
Every agency has its scandals and controversies. Good, informational use of social media could diffuse these. 
The gove…

Visionaries Don't Miss Milestones

In Geoffrey James' new book "Business Without The Bullsh*t" he talks about 12 kinds of bosses - 11 of them are bad.
One is "The Visionary," perhaps gifted but who can't seem to shift from the future to the right-now. 
This isn't helpful to the team. The boss has got to be "how-focused," as in how to get from here to there.
The world is full of people with bright ideas. Few are able to implement. Few are:
* Critical  * Linear  * Logical * Strategic  * Insightful * Holistic * Courageous * Committed 
...all at once.
Hat tip to a real visionary, who encouraged me to focus more on the "how," and stop overthinking the big picture.
* All opinions my own. Photo by me.

With Just A Little Bit Of Effort (Marshall's As A Lesson In Life)

Screenshot of the Marshall's homepage by me
So we're in the shopping center and we go to every other store except Marshalls. Target doesn't have it. Kohl's is an embarrassing place to shop. H&M, tried that. Forever 21, no luck.
What's the worst that can happen? I think. I want to get a pair of sunglasses first, but can't.
Marshall's is the kind of place my mother would take me to shop. She'd say, "they have great value, stop being such a baby."
And I hate to admit it, but she's right.
They have really gorgeous clothes. They're good brands. They are tasteful. We like it.
Here's the problem though: They make themselves look like a junk store.
That logo is awful.
The layout seems to lack a strategy. For example there are home decor accessories just next to the shoes. And clearance is all over the place not centered together in the back.
It's driving me bananas, and yet the clothes are so good!
We wound up leaving the store with nothing …

The Essence of Social Media Is Ruthless

A tree hugs below the ground for survival - it focuses, literally, on its roots. Then it can reach up.
If you want to know why corporate does social media badly, one word:
The lack of this essential quality.
Social media is about a ruthless, relentless, unforgiving, hyperfocused, super-specialized filter that you apply to every piece of content.
It is branding on speed. It's faster, digs deeper, and pulls in the whole of your personality.
It has no mercy on those who "just love" their own words.
Unless you are ruthless when it comes to your content focus and your vehicles for delivery, you will fail. No matter how much content you put out. 
* All opinions my own. Photo by me.

What If You Make A Mistake And Look Stupid?

Photo by Bob Lovett via Flickr
Recently I was on the road and felt suddenly dizzy.

At first I thought it was nothing. My daughter was with me. I looked at her and kept driving.

The second time it hit I pulled off the road and asked my daughter to go and get me a Snickers. I hadn't eaten the entire day.

She got me a Snickers and a Coca-Cola. I ate the candy bar, feeling absolutely disgusting, and drank some of the Coke. These are normally treat foods, but in that moment they felt like bad medicine.

I got back on the road and the dizziness started again. So I pulled over into a McDonald's parking lot. I thought maybe I hadn't eaten enough.

"Quick, get me a fish sandwich and some fries," I begged her. I was reminded of the famous "McDonald's emergency" of my youth, when my mom sneaked me out to get exactly the same thing. (This is a family joke, how the craving for McDonald's in a Jewish family rises to the level of 911.)

Well that didn't work either.

5 Reasons You Should Never Stop Trying

1. Because living a "checked-out" life is more miserable than one where you're trying to succeed.
2. Because even if one relationship, job, or cause is doomed to failure, you can find something else with a chance of success.
3. Because chances are you could be more successful if you tried a slightly different approach.
4. Because you have quiet cheerleaders all around you who believe in you and want you to succeed.
5. Because when good people give up, bad people gain power by default. And everybody suffers in the end.
Remember Jack?
* All opinions my own. Photo (by me) is of the cover of Entertainment Weekly, 4-11-2014 edition.

The One Survival Skill You Need In Today's Workplace

"Jump" by David Yu via Flickr; Creative Commons Share license with attribution
There are a host of excellent articles out there about how to become a senior executive. One especially good one is "The Secret: How To Become A Fortune 500 CEO," by Steve Tappin.

Here is his 30:30:30:10 rule regarding how to spend your day. The basic idea is, if you want to rise up the career ladder, you have to think like a CEO first:
30% = get your basic work done30% = networking30% = strategizing for the future10% = just relaxAnd he has a bunch of other tips.
What they all have in common is one skill: the ability to learn "working smarter" not harder.
Most people think they go to work to demonstrate their mastery of a subject.
But to be successful at work today, you have to in effect perform successfully at your task while simultaneously learning how to improve on it.
So it is patently untrue that you should spend all of your time slaving away.
Rather your goal should be to learn h…

Is It Really True That "It Pays To Praise?"

Photo via Flickr by John McStravick
In my last post I criticized the boundary-crossing relationships between boss and employee that trendy management literature headlines seem to promote, using as an example an interview with Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey that appeared in BBC News about Whole Foods.

Whole Foods' decentralized, team-driven, front-line focused culture is aligned with management literature that trashes managers themselves as essentially "overhead." See Gary Hamel's classic, "First, Let's Fire All the Managers!" Vineet Nayar makes a similar argument, that bosses are basically useless and should get out of the way.
Which sounds very good, if you're not a boss. And delivers ROI, and employee satisfaction, says the evidence
But what about the exploitiveness of it? To call store workers "team members" but put them on probation till they are voted in by their peers means they are on trial in every respect. All the time. To have peop…

On The Crap Advice Novice Managers Get

"He's a manager now, he does manager things." Photo by Phil Dokas via Flickr.
It is easy to blame it all on Mark Zuckerberg, who turns 30 today. Mashable had fun with his irreverent approach to work attire, the hoodie which symbolizes "corporate is a waste of time."

As a cultural influence Zuckerberg promotes an "open and connected" world, i.e. no distinction between your personal and professional identities or past and present identities. You are always one and discoverable. On this there is intense debate, particularly since he personally lives such a private life.

As a boss, too, he seems rather traditional - getting positive reviews for listening thoughtfully, focusing on the work and making a decision. See for example "Working With Zuck" and the multiple answers on Quora.

But Zuckerberg does represent social flattening, even subversion of traditional hierarchies, and the hoodie is his way of showing it. Other executives build this concept i…

It's OK Not To Know

The experience of hospital. You have no power here. You pray a lot.
Someone said to me recently, I respect you more when you say "I don't know." Been turning that one over in my mind.
Me, the mom and the manager. Advice-giver on the side.
After my husband's surgery, after the recovery room, after six hours of holding back crying, after actually crying, and fifty thousand calls, texts and emails to and from the family, we went back to the room. My aunt called. I was on the computer. It was late at night.
"How are you?" she said.
"You want to talk to him?" 
"No. How are you."
"I'm on the computer. I'm freaking out."
There it was. I didn't know it all or have it together.
It felt really good to admit it. For the first time. To begin to just always be real. To stop the whole nonsense of "think brand first," which made no sense in the first place and even if it has a place, has gone way too far.
* All opinions my own. Ph…

Toxic Culture As A Form Of Autoimmune Disease

Onion cells - via Wikipedia
In autoimmune disease the body fights off its own healthy cells. The same is true of a toxic organizational culture. During a flareup, healthy activities of any kind - such as offering thoughtful feedback - may be treated as a threat by the system. 
In autoimmune disease there are many healthy periods and the illness is not centered in one particular organ. You don't know when the next flare up will come, or what body part will be affected. 
The same is true of the toxic culture. There are many happy and healthy times, and many parts and people that work extremely well under the circumstances. Many may even believe that "nothing is wrong" -- that is, until the next seemingly inexplicable "attack." 

With autoimmune, attacks are often brought on by stress. The same is true of a toxic culture. Things are fine until something goes wrong, and the dis-ease beneath the surface comes rumbling forward. The response is therefore out of proportion …

Why Government & Innovation Don't Mix

Art by Barbara Kruger at the Hirshorn Museum in DC. Photo by me.
Of course they can mix. 
But it's not natural. On a routine basis, the term "government innovation" is an oxymoron. Government is defined by rigid and measurable definitions and processes while innovation means defying everything that existed before.
The Partnership for Public Service's  "Federal Coach" Tom Fox was on the news last night talking about 2013 survey results on the topic. He said Feds overwhelmingly try to be innovative but are successively less likely to feel encouraged for the endeavor, or rewarded. 
Agencies know they have to innovate. They also know the bureaucracy makes it almost impossible - culturally and practically. That is why they are creating separate institutional structures dedicated to the function.
We should try to get actual innovation happening. Of course. But to make the transition to a style of government where innovation is routine, we must also ask ourselves what …

You Always Have More Support Than You Think

"Arm In Arm" by Gail Dedrick via Flickr
Is it me or has 2014 been a really tough year? In my world alone there's been pests, sickness, physical suffering and unfortunately a death in the family.

When you're going through it you don't think about the pattern. Instead you only see that moment. And you tend to think it's just you. Alone.
What I want to say is that you have more support than you realize. When my husband's mom died I was overwhelmed by the expressions of love from people who rarely had anything to do with us.
Over and over again, no matter what the situation, I have read, observed and experienced that people genuinely reached out to say "I care." Not because they're saints, but because we are all human beings and in some way that makes us connected.
If you are suffering and alone in some way, know that the world is here to support you. You don't need to do anything special, either - the sentiment is already there.
Special thanks th…

Innovation Above Litigation

For better or for worse, American culture is defined by extremists. We are fascinated by criminals and geniuses.

Sometimes they are one and the same.

Look at Steve Jobs. Brilliant innovator. And as numerous reports have suggested, and as we've heard over and over again, he believed "the rules just didn't apply to him," (biographer Walter Isaacson, in the New York Times.)

In plotting to prevent Apple employees from working elsewhere, Jobs was a blatant white-collar criminal. And his power, and influence, stretched much further in the industry. As the New York Times reports, in effect Apple and others established a management culture within which employees - on threat of firing or banishment from the industry - learned that obedience to the company doctrine was blind, regardless of the law.
"In 2007, he [Steve Jobs] threatened Palm Inc. with patent litigation unless Palm agreed not to recruit Apple employees....That same year, Mr. Jobs wrote Eric E. Schmidt, the chief…

How Modular Thinking Can Dramatically Increase Our Actionable Innovation Rate

Look at all the problems we've got to solve. The old ways aren't working, right? We need new approaches, new ideas, new technologies, new solutions. Break the mold, think outside the box, go where no wo/man has gone before, land a spaceship on the moon.
Oh and while you're at it, get some coffee at Starbucks so we can have another brainstorming session in the afternoon.
If you look at innovation this way, it can seem exhausting. And it's easy to see how people would do that. Think about the world of fashion design, where the "best" designers are often conflated with those who show us something we've never seen.
The truth is that innovation isn't about coming up with new ideas all the time. And if you're thinking that it does, you should stop wasting your time on innovation. Because you will never get anything meaningful done.
So maybe you are thinking that I advocate spending more time on operations and less time on coming up with new ideas. Not neces…