Showing posts from August, 2016

A comment on "5 Trends In Government Technology We'll See In 2017"

(Here's the original post:

This is an important post but I am not sure I agree with its premise or all of its points.

For one thing, per #3, it appears the assumption is that Hillary Clinton will win. Why does the post assume this? To strategize means to play out both scenarios. Trump vs. Clinton will bring us two dramatically different approaches to government technology. Under Trump, expect his team to take out their calculators and basically slash and burn everything that isn't immediately and obviously justifiable from a *business* (not a government) point of view. Under Clinton, expect an incremental approach to change and a willingness to continue spending even on technology initiatives whose worth is not yet immediately clear.

Regarding #5, I think the private sector is well ahead of the public sector in understanding what outcome-based engagement is. This relates to point #1, dat…

Finding Strength in Surrendering Control

So they sent me to a training class in advanced communications, specifically managing conflict through difficult conversations.

As it happens this trainer was better than most, and I found myself listening closely. You've heard of the book Critical Conversations and although the class was not specifically centered on that book, it was all about getting into and out of difficult discussions without ruining your relationships.

Sitting there I marveled at the trainer's composure. She was calm, respectful but firm, and had a line for seemingly every persistent problem. For example, many of us (me included) find it difficult to say "No," and so here is the alternative phrase: "Here's what I can do."

When you're giving someone negative feedback about their performance, you're supposed to state your intention: "I want you to be successful, and in that spirit there is something I feel I need to make you aware of." (Then state the facts.)

In yeshi…

Thank you to my top 10 international audiences

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Image credit: The original uploader was Augiasstallputzer at [[::| Wikimedia Commons]] - Own work, based on shoreline data from GSHHS ("crude" level), a public-domain source, Public Domain,

Communicating to a Cynical Workforce

We don't need to debate this, do we? People are mostly checked-out at work; they don't take the time to read your carefully crafted Intranet messages very carefully, if they read them at all; they can barely be bothered to take the all-employee survey with its detailed questions and response choices. And if you tell me that employees work for their managers, not the company, and so they mostly want to hear from the boss who's giving them a performance evaluation at the end of the year - point taken. But are employees really engaged with the information they receive from their managers? Maybe the information is timely and relevant to their jobs, but does it have that higher ring of truth and meaning? Consider the fact that at any given moment a substantial percentage of employees are angry. They don't like the way they're being treated, or they don't feel valued on the job, or someone at work is harassing them, maybe even the boss. Perhaps they are underpaid or…

30 Notes About Critical Conversations

I took a training class on how to handle difficult conversations. Sharing the points most important to me.
Goal - become a thinking partner in a collaborative relationshipNeed to learn to listen – not just steamroll, try to save time. If you are directive all the time people don't feel valued.Learn how to say no – but nobody likes to say no. So say “here’s what I can do”Learn not to appear frustrated – coming from private sector you expect things to get done fasterBe specific, be clearThings to remember - to help someone feel valued, they need to feel heardWhat makes a conversation critical - action needs to be taken, subject is important, there is a threat or risk if action not takenInclude milestones in the conversation - don't let it be vagueEssential to ask - are we aiming towards the same goalHow do you deal with hidden agendas? (In the form of withholding knowledge, because knowledge is power.) Depends on the situation, the position of the person you're dealing with.…

Overcoming the Barriers to Government Transparency

There are at least five types of information that federal employees, not just communicators, generally want to share with the public:
Mission: They'd like the public to be aware of what the agency does and why it's important. They want the public to know about the significance of the broader issue as well, such as clean water, STEM education, maternal health, and so on.Resources: They want people to know what the agency offers to the public in terms of goods and services, such as how to apply for federal student aid or how to navigate the immigration process.Dedication: They want to share personal stories about how individuals at the agency are doing their best to help the public. An example might be a U.S. Postal Service employee who went through three sacks of mail to find one lost Social security check.Responsiveness: They want the agency to answer stakeholder questions forthrightly. Typically this comes up when the agency is the subject of a derogatory news headline, a neg…

The 5 Characteristics of a War Dog

Jonah Hill gives a masterful performance in War Dogsas the yeshiva-educated sociopath Efraim Diveroli. The movie is based on a true story about two Jewish high school screwups who discover a gray area into which they can leap and make millions. They become successful small-time arms dealers, commit large-scale fraud, get arrested by the FBI, get convicted and serve time. Putting ethics aside for the moment, Diveroli is successful because he: 1) Recognizes and exploitsopportunity, at first legally and then in the "gray area," and finally outside the law 2) Masters the subject matter and all aspects of the business 3) Works hard and focuses completely on the task at hand 4) Manipulates others brilliantly into doing what he wants 5) Has others do the dirty work while taking the profit for himself The meta-message of War Dogs is that we all face a painful choice: be evil and rich like Diveroli, or decent and lower-middle-class at best, like his partner David Packouz. This is …

On The Merits Of An Empty Mind

I spend nearly all my time in my head. And while I'm there, I work very hard to keep the environment free. No useless clutter, I don't want it - I will not let it in.

Here's why: We are bombarded with information all the time. Not to mention marketing. (At times, there is no distinction.)

To some people, chugging all that up might seem like a benefit. In school they certainly tell you to memorize and memorize and memorize some more.

But when you fill your head up with crap, quite honestly you wind up constipated.

Many, many, many people are unable to communicate well, for exactly this reason. At any given moment, they are navigating tons of junk, a sea of data stored up in the attic of their minds, and they aren't sure which piece of it to pull for which audience on which occasion.

It's like they have lots of tools stored up in their garage.

Now it's true that tools can help you build a lot of different things. But if you get that hoarder mentality in your head - …

Disconnected Millennials Cannot Work

With dry sarcasm the Urban Dictionary tell us that "millennials believe themselves to be overachievers who just aren't understood by their loser bosses....the only generation in the universe to understand the concept of work life balance and to actually want to find a fulfilling career." Of course it's wrong to oversimplify one's observations about any group, but from my own experience I do think it's fair to say that Millennials (definitions of age vary, but they're roughly 20-35 years old today) are high achievers who believe they can do more than what the workplace asks of them. They are not afraid to create bobblehead images of their bosses if they think their bosses are stupid. They will openly question idiotic time-consuming bureaucratic nonsense. Their relationships mean as much to them as their jobs do. And they think Gen Xers are way too intense: that life should not be taken too seriously generally. Millennials also use social media in a very o…

RIP John McLaughlin

It was almost 1980 and my parents bought a huge, yuge, YUGE, enormous standing box of a television set that they plunked down in the living room.

I remember very vividly how I watched "Video Killed The Radio Star" -- the first music video ever shown on MTV.

I used to watch the preachers Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker with my mother.

Oh how we loved them - and Tammy Faye in particular, with the dripping mascara - because she was just so real when she cried.

It was great - she cried literally every week!

You probably never heard of The New Way Gourmet but we used to watch them too. It was a TV show that featured two California hippies, completely mellow and probably completely high, patchkeying around the kitchen.

Loved it.

I remember we used to eat in front of the TV and nobody cared. We made macaroni 'n' cheese the old-fashioned way, with Mueller's elbow noodles and butter and milk and a ton of Miller's kosher American cheese from the stack. We must have put twen…

A Different Kind of Data

It was a weekend afternoon, bright daylight and we are walking in the park together. It isn't after midnight. I'm not by myself.

There are groups of teenage guys hanging out, because it's a weekend afternoon and that's what teenage guys do, they hang out and toss a football around.

I have my headphones on as usual and as usual am deeply immersed in whatever it is that I am reading on my phone. I have the music on as well.

It occurs to me on this sunny day that I feel very much at peace. What a luxury it is to have a few moments to relax and smell the roses.

And we have walked for awhile. It's been about two hours now and we're in a wooded area. Secluded from view.

I become aware, suddenly, that I am in trouble.

It hits me very quickly and before I can even articulate what it is I reach out for my husband's hand.

"I feel it too," he says, almost whispering.

I had a very strong feeling that somebody was considering very carefully how they would knock him t…

Three Ways Discredited Brands Remain Durable

"The value of a ultimately determined by consumers' perception." - Investopedia Coco Chanel (1883-1971) was a Jew-hating Nazi collaborator. Yet in May 2016 Forbes ranked her namesake company, Chanel, #80 among the world's most valuable brands, with a net worth of $7.2 billion.

The company is privately owned, by the Jewish grandsons of Chanel's original business partner. But the name is her name, and the logo is her signature crossed "C." By purchasing her signature clothing or perfume, the consumer is clearly channeling her image.

Why would anyone want to be associated with a Nazi?

The answer has to do with Chanel's brand immunity. Not only do customers continue to purchase her products in droves, but even posthumously the designer is popularly viewed as a "personal branding legend."

Understanding what keeps a brand resistant to criticism is important today, as companies operate in the minefield of the digital age. For between th…

7 Values Transforming Today's Workplace