Steve Jobs famously said “A” players are twice as valuable as “B” players. He went on to indicate that the ratio was 25:1 for software developers. Regardless of the occupation, this reality presents an incredible opportunity for most organizations. With people in such high demand, it is tempting to settle for “B” players. It is tempting to play with the team you have regardless of current performance reality.
I recently carried a gallon of pickles on stage in front of nearly 800 people. I sat the jar on the large podium and went to work. I made a point to refer to the jar several times during my speech. I even gave away 3 small shots of pickle juice to members of the audience that were brave enough to come on stage during my presentation. For the rest of the conference, people would see me and say “hey, you are the pickle guy.” I am totally ok with that reference as long as they remember the message.
The fact that so many companies lack a written plan while unemployment (3.8% nationally) is so low, is borderline corporate negligence. If indeed a written plan is hidden within the walls of corporate human resources, the plan probably lacks efficacy and more importantly, proper implementation. I hope this information accomplishes two things. 1) It forces the discussion in C-Suites. 2) It results in more companies understanding the necessity for action and making a written plan a necessity.
Earlier this week I heard someone say that it is better to be kind than right and it keeps rattling around in my brain. In the business world, being right is extremely important and often necessary for survival. The market is hard on businesses that get it wrong too often. From an early age, we are taught to do what’s right so it is natural for us to want to “be” right. The mental feeling of being right is justification for our ideas as well as our position on whatever topic or issue at hand.
Corporations spend billions of dollars out of fear and miss tremendous opportunities for the same reason. Think of every failed project or initiative in your past and possibly present. Markets change and so do the preferences of consumers. We can become so enamored with our work that we do not acknowledge these changes. Fear in business is the dirty little secret that nobody wants to admit exists. What drives this fear? How does it impact the bottom line? The following short story illustrates the root of fear and bias in the workplace. Any similarities with actual people or events are completely coincidental. Let’s go fishing with Phil and Larry.
Once an iconic presence in my life, Toys R us was the “go to” toy source when my now college junior was in search of the perfect birthday gift or ideas for his Christmas list. I remember walking the aisles with him in search of the best action figure or latest toy as seen on television. Each year, we would take his Christmas list, fight the crowds, and stand in long lines to spend money at this now dead company. It seemed like every friend’s birthday party was preceded by a trip to Toys R Us to find a cool toy. To be brutally honest, I am saddened but not surprised at the passing of another corporate megabiz.
OK I admit it; there are tons of leadership ideas in the business world. Much of it reflects the same thoughts revisited from different paradigms (consultant rule: one must use the word “paradigm” once daily to remain credible) and perspectives. However, there is much less consensus on the mindset we bring to work each day. I want you to think about your daily commute to work. Do you think about the problems and opportunities that need to be addressed? Or, do you think about the people you need to help become successful? This may seem insignificant at first glance, but is it?
How can such an intelligent and capable executive be so clueless in today’s demanding business environment? How can a company be so blind to pending challenges and opportunities? The answer to these questions and an honest assessment about current reality are why many chief executives are doomed to struggle.
Today, I sat through a meeting with a 31 year old who is contemplating leaving his company. “I just don’t feel valued here anymore”, he said sadly. “I give a lot to this company but I don’t think anyone notices”, he continued. How many people in your organization are in the same mental place? What are you doing to proactively retain the best talent on your team?
Call me old fashioned but I love the passing from one year to the next. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year of accomplishments and failures; a time to appreciate the blessings of life and the pain of loss. Are we satisfied with 2017? What regrets are we lugging into 2018?
Having conducted thousands of classes over the years, I am convinced that most people know the basics of good supervision when they see it or are asked to describe it. Something else more complicated is causing what might be considered to be normal people to become such horrible supervisors.
Several months ago, a friend gave me the book Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. I was both disrupted and inspired simultaneously. It rocked my world. I mean really, can a method really produce twice the work in half the time? Even though I am optimistic by nature, this sounded too good to be true. During my first Scrum experience, we estimated a four week project. It was completed the first week. A 75% improvement over expectations really captured my attention. Since then I have been teaching any organization that will listen to the power this tool can provide if utilized properly. My purpose today is to share highlights in order to spark your interest in something cool and different. Tighten your seat belt and hold on tight…we are going on a Scrum ride.