Are You STILL Insane?

Quick Quiz

What’s the definition of insanity?

Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome – right?

Well, it’s about that time of year againwhen most of us unknowingly opt for the path of the insane… the ritual of making a few last-minute resolutions.

We commit to getting in shape, losing weight, spending less time at work, making more money– whatever— we all have variations of the same list.

The problem is, most of us fail to achieve our resolutions and simply repeat the process the following year.

Let’s test your level of insanity (takes less than 5 minutes):

  1. Divide a single sheet of paper into four boxes.
  2. Above the top left box, write “2016” and above the top right box, write “2006”
  3. In the top left box write down THREE things that are going your way today.
  4. In the bottom left box note THREE things with which you are not experiencing the success you’d hoped for this year (issues, habits, goals, etc.).
  5. Now repeat steps 3 & 4 for the “2006” column on the right – based on your recollection of what was going well in 2006 (top right box) and what wasn’t going so well (bottom right box).

The greater the similarity, the greater the insanity!!

How are you trending?

Are you riding off to new horizons or hangin’ with old ghosts and demons?

We tried this back in 2011 and readers consistently self-reported high-levels of insanity… how about you?

For me, I’m going to lose 10 pounds in 2017, which is totally different from 2006. Because back then, I only needed to lose 5 pounds. 😉

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts with me directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

-Jeff

Decomplexifing Business: The Busting Bad Business Rules Challenge!

No, decompexifing isn’t a word or at least it wasn’t a word until I right-clicked it into existence by adding it to my MS Office dictionary—now it’s real.

As silly as it sounds, the logic behind the creation of decomplexification isn’t that different from how the world of work was built.

Curious, creative people just like us identified problems and struggled to find the words to describe them. When they couldn’t find the words or the words simply didn’t exist, they created their own. Fast forward to today and you need to hire an interpreter to understand what the supply chain folks are talking about.

The problem is that we are now dealing with complexity-for-complexity’s sake.

We have grossly over-complicated our world of work.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be so intimidated by complexity, that we don’t even question it.

Worse yet, we’ve come to distrust simple things, simply because they lack complexity.

NO MORE!

I hereby commit to decomplexifing the world of work by busting bad business rules.

Here’s the first…

Education as a Proxy for Experience:

If you are hiring someone straight out of school, sure, use education as a proxy for experience. But to refuse, or even disqualify a worker that’s been with the organization for 5, 10, 20 years because they didn’t take the “Principals of Managerial Science” in 1996 simply seems irrelevant.

Case in Point:

This kind of thinking would have excluded the degree-less administrative assistant Colleen Barrett from becoming President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines and being consistently recognized as one of the most powerful business women in America.

What Bad Business Rules do you want to Bust?

Let me know how you want to decomplexify the word of work by writing me directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

-Jeff

CROWD SOURCING SUCCESS: The TEMPO Effect

Tools for Tomorrow, Today!

Congratulations!!!!

Only a few more weeks and you will have successfully navigated another challenging year. Whether you got the project done, won the promotion, got in shape, went back to school or simply made it through the year without taking a swing at your boss… you did it!

BRAVO YOU!

Remember your struggle,

Remember the strength you summoned,

Remember how success felt!


Knock-knock…

Who’s there?

See, you forget already…

New Times

We’ve long since replaced the traditional view of success (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), with an appreciation for tireless tinkering (continuous improvement) and are now landing on a new success reality.

New Reality

  • Stop showing off all that you know, and start showing that you know how to learn what you don’t know.
  • Clarity is dead, long live ambiguous and incomplete…
  • Teamwork doesn’t work the same way anymore.
  • Yesterday isn’t soon enough; can’t you keep up?
  • Do more with less. When was the last time you had everything your needed to get the job done?

New Rhythm, New TEMPO

Success demands that we outlearn, outwit and outperform our competition.

In a world of ever-smarter, ever-faster, ever-more alternatives we must crowd source’ our success. Our latest research suggests tomorrow’s success demands a new and unique blend of networking support, what we’re calling the T.E.M.P.O. Effect — earning success by harnessing other people’s time, other people’s experience, other people’s money and other people’s people!

In the coming months, we’ll examine the implications of crowd sourcing success and how you can put the power of TEMPO Effect to work for you!

Until next time, stay connected!

-Jeff

Now What? (…From the Vault)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the privilege to conduct as series of interviews with four amazing leaders. One woman and three men, each the senior-most executives of their respective organizations, offered honest appraisals of their lives, careers and the businesses they’ve built. Although the organizations they lead differ by industry, geography and size, they shared one common concern:

What made us successful in the past, will not make us successful in the future.

Now, what?

Across the board, these leaders saw the level of product and service value that once drove the economic engines of their organizations, steadily and irreversibly decline; resulting in everything from a reimagining of their product and service offerings, to increased reliance on inorganic growth and in one case, an exodus of the industry they’d served for a generation.

As I write this, my desk is overflowing with interview transcripts, the margins of each page filled with a scrawl of handwritten notes and questions. From those pages it has become abundantly clear that there is a new leadership challenge emerging; a concept that defies tradition, embraces the deeply human elements of business activity and holds the promise of great opportunity for those willing to embrace it.

The new leadership challenge seeks to answer the question, Now What?

Tomorrow’s leaders must be capable of sensing, absorbing and transforming oncoming change in a way that creates competitive advantage for the organization.

Bold vision and practical and tactical ideas, big and small, are fast becoming the currency of organizational and career success. The leaders I’ve interviewed agree: venturing into an uncertain future will require more leaders than ever before; but individuals hoping to fill these roles will be largely responsible for their own leadership development, which means doing the hard work of defining who you are, what you value and what you are capable of accomplishing.

In short, before your ideas will be considered, before you can effectively lead others, you must demonstrate both an understanding and control of yourself.

Next week, we’ll examine what you can do to prepare yourself to take advantage of these new leadership opportunities and springboard your career to the next level.

Until then, I’m reaching out to you to see what you think is important for leaders to consider and what skills you feel will be critical in the next generation of business leadership. As always, I welcome your comments at: jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

-Jeff

*Originally posted on October 23, 2015

Know Your Place: Soul-Crushing, Productivity-Wasting Leadership Mistakes…

If the rule in your office is ‘know your place’:

Change the RULE or CHANGE THE LEADER… RIGHT NOW!

Leadership is about bringing out the potential of every employee!

One of the most common leadership mistakes is systematically restricting employee contributions because they fall outside of the employee’s job description.

Bob’s worked here since 2002, he was hired on as a Blackberry support specialist and now he can’t represent the team at a local event, because it’s not in his job description. Really?

Sure, people are hired to do specific jobs and yes there are labor laws that govern what we can and can’t ask of employees but why restrict the potential contributions of employees that are simply seeking opportunities to demonstrate their value and capabilities in new ways? Isn’t that an implicit promise of every job description?

Great leaders use job descriptions as developmental starting points.

Here are two ways leaders can help employees show their stuff:

Organizational memory and know-how: Work somewhere a while and you’ll develop firsthand knowledge of why things are the way they are and how things “REALLY” work. Solid leaders seek out ways to leverage all the skills and knowledge of their employees and help them showcase their institutional knowledge.

Think HUMAN not HIERARCHICAL: Managing relationships is critical to team success and great leaders aren’t relationship snobs. EVERYBODY knows someone that can help your organization, so never-ever reject an established relationship with an individual contributor in favor of trying to get two hierarchical equals to talk – it’s short sighted and insulting. Sure, that are any number of legitimate reasons you may not want someone to engage on behalf of your team but job description isn’t one of them.

Great leaders uplift, upskill, challenge and inspire.

Great leaders go the way of their people.

A quiet, largely invisible group of under-performers is not the calling card of a great leader.

As always, I welcome your comments directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,

-Jeff

321…Watch You Back!

Why 1/3 of Your Team May Be Out to Get You!

My experience leading teams has been (select one):

  • An uplifting, collaborative exploration of what’s possible?  
  • A soul-crushing, lonely exercise in futility?

Unfortunately, your chances of selecting either of these answers is about 50/50.

A friend of mine has recently taken the reins of an international sales organization. Despite the fact that she’s seasoned, capable and world-class smart — she’s starting to question herself and her team leadership experience could go either way.

My advice?

Think 3, Win 2, Turn 1…. 

Think 3: Think of your team as having 3 sub-groups (which one are you?)

  • People that make things happen. Positive optimists, willing to give you a try
  • People that stop things from happening. Nay-saying pessimists, programmed to resist change
  • People that wonder what happened. Neutral observers, that go with the flow.

Win 2: Focus on winning the hearts and minds of 2 sub-groups

  • Make a list of which team members belong in each group
  • Solidify your base by aligning with visible, vocal and influential optimists
  • Find social and political links to start bringing neutrals into your new coalition.

Turn 1: With the balance of power shifting to your favor, it’s time to put it over the top

  • Identify the most visible, vocal and influential nay-sayers
  • Move nay-sayings into the “pro-you” column by authentically helping her/him become successful
  • Nay-sayer support has a cascading effect that will shore up your support for fence-sitting neutrals.

In a nutshell:
If you want to make a mark.
If you believe there has to be a better way.
If you think today’s best is simply a starting point for tomorrow.
Make the 321 Rule part of your leadership strategy.
If your goal is stay below the radar.
If you desire to keep doing exactly what was done yesterday.
You don’t need to worry too much about the 321 Rule,
but remember to
Watch Your Back!

Personal note: to my new-sales-leader friend halfway around the world, you are such a ROCK STAR! Now go 321 your team so the rest of the world can see it too!

As always, don’t hesitate to share your own thoughts and experiences about team leadership with me, directly at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Stay connected,

-Jeff

Does Your Boss Need Ego Bypass Surgery?

Why Your Boss Is Keeping You Away from the Strategic Table…

RIGHT NOW…

Are you setting the stage for your organization’s future?

Or sitting in a big pile of strategic sewage – basting in all the stuff that rolls downhill from the corner office and directly into your cubical?

If you’ve tried everything to gain a seat at the strategic table with no luck (see my blog “Still at the Kid’s Table”, it may be time to ask what the heck is wrong with your boss?)

5 Strategic Excluder Prototypes:

(Is your boss one of them?)

#5 FLAGers: Viewing participation in strategic planning as a source of power, FLAGers reflexively resist collaboration, emphasize hierarchical differences and strictly adhere to job roles as means to protect their territory.

#4 DANGERFIELDs: These leaders get ‘no respect’ I tell ya! and give ‘no respect’ to others in return. With the weight of the world squarely on their shoulders, they see only their roles as having real value and our roles—not so much!

#3 DOWNHILLers: Catching what’s rolling downhill like the rest of us, DOWNHILLers are afraid to let others know that they don’t have a seat at the strategy table either and that strategy is handed down to them, just like the rest of us!!!

#2 NAFs: Naked and afraid, these leaders don’t have a clue what strategy really is and so NAFs treat strategy as an academic exercise. Desperately trying to hide the fact that there is NO TABLE, this fear driven leader, wants no one to learn the king (or queen) has no STRATEGIC clothes… and so, are doomed to remain naked and afraid.

And the #1 most common diagnosis?

#1 EXADDs: Executive ADD affects many executives, causing confusion and frustration among an estimated 100% of the people that work for them.

Symptoms include:

  • An inability to focus on anything until the last damn minute
  • Obsessive-compulsive blame shifting and
  • Frequent displays of Whitehorse complex (riding in at the last minute to solve problems of their own creation)

Often diagnosed but seldom treated the only known cure for EXADDs is of course… EGO BYPASS SURGERY!

Seriously…

Hopefully you found this blog entertaining but the topic is definitely no joke.

Remember, the most effective strategies are:

  1. Simple
  2. Inclusive (people/opinions/perspectives) and
  3. Clear (connect every role, every action, every investment to what the strategy is trying to achieve)

If you can’t see how your role directly contributes to the overall strategy of your organization—your leaders have let you down and your problem may be bigger than your boss.

As always, I welcome your comments directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Stay connected!

-Jeff

Is your email killing you? (FLASHBACK)

The average daily dose of business email is 121 messages:

13% totally irrelevant to you,

20% unnecessarily include you,

54% require no action by you.

Email use increases even as email processing saps productivity, costs money and heightens stress:

15% rise in email traffic since 2011. Even with the introduction of email alternatives like texting and social media options like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat springing up everywhere, the sheer volume of emails continues to rise,

6% of white-collar productivity is used to sort, read, trash or reply to emails,

$7,500-10,000 annual cost per employee to process email, and

Research suggests a positive relationship between frequently checking email and stress levels.

While formal logic wasn’t my strong suit in grad school, what about this logic pattern?

If stress kills, and

We now know that email causes stress,

Is it therefore possible, our email is killing us?

Armed with this unassailable logic, my friend, Moe Ilyas (an Atlanta-based telecom sales executive) and I set out to informally replicate a University of British Columbia study that tied the frequency with which people check email to stress level. We purposefully ignored our emails for one week, committing to check only once a day.

The results?

Moe reported higher productivity levels and greater pro-active control of his day.

Me? I couldn’t stay away; I might have an addiction that requires some type of digital intervention.

After discussing our experiences, we committed to trying it one more time and meeting again to compare notes.

The results?

We have exchanged lots of emails promising one another that we’d follow up real soon…

If you have the self-control, give it a try and let us know how it went for you.

-Jeff

Sources:

Matt Feiedman, Associated Press, Powered by NewsLook.com, August 1, 2014

Thomas W. Jackson, Sharman Lichtenstein. Optimising e-mail communication: the impact of seminar- and computer-based training. International Journal of Internet and Enterprise Management, 2011; 7 (2): 197 DOI: 10.1504/IJIEM.2011.039915

Kostadin Kushlev, Elizabeth W. Dunn. Checking email less frequently reduces stress. Computers in Human Behavior, 2015; 43: 220 DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.005

Photo: TommL—Getty Images/Vetta

Our Daughters, Our Sons… And the Wisdom to Know the Difference

grant21973:  Sporting short-shorts, bad hair and glasses only Austin Powers could love; Bobby Riggs took center court to battle one of women’s top tennis stars, Billy Jean King.

The match captured a record-shattering global viewership of 90 million. At stake was far more than the outcome of tennis match.  The world tuned in to witness a conversation.

Spoken in points, games and sets, the match laid plain two questions:

“Do women have the right to compete with men?”

Can women compete with men?”

grant3Earlier this week, in an interview with news anchor turned women’s leadership advocate, Tiffany O’Donnell*, former University of Iowa Athletic Director, Dr. Christine Grant, shared vivid memories of the match and marks King’s performance as an important milestone in the growth of women’s sport.

Over her career, Grant developed a women’s athletic program with few rivals, posting 12 NCAA Championships and 27 Big Ten titles.

Humble and reserved, Christine is the antithesis of the win-at-all-cost mentality. Grant points to the fact that less than 1% (.71%) of all college athletes and only 3 out of a 1000 women athletes will ever play sports professionally.

grant5Dr. Grant suggests the value of sport is found inside the athlete, not up on a scoreboard –that real victories spring from testing one’s limits, experiencing cooperative struggle and just plain showing up, when the world offers every excuse not to.

Dr. Grant believes in, “a healthy understanding of the place of winning in sport.”

“Winning is not the purpose of sport,” she stated. “Winning is a byproduct of a very good program. A very good program that puts other values higher than winning.”

Reflecting on the development of women’s sports over her career, she’s both amazed at the progress and steadfast in her conviction that much remains be said in the conversation Billy Jean King started back in 1973.

As always, I welcome your comments directly at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

-Jeff

*Tiffany O’Donnell, serves as the COO for the IWLC, one of the nation’s top leadership organizations for women. She conducted the interview as part of a larger book project featuring the accomplishments and unique experiences of women leaders.

For more on this interview and the 10 for 10 Women’s Leadership Project, stay tuned to this blog or monitor the latest at www.iwlcleads.org.

New Research, Sheds New Light on Hump Day

When do you checkout of work and check into the weekend?

OFFICAL CHECKOUT TIME FROM WORK

Friday, 5:00 PM

Apparently not!

Using a proprietary survey technology, our latest research sought to pinpoint the exact time people move from focusing on work, to working on the weekend.

CHECKOUT TIME FOR MOST OF US?

Thursday, 9:52 AM

Across all categories (age, gender, education). What about you?

WHO STAYS CHECKED IN THE LONGEST?

Friday, 9:26 AM

Those that stay focused the longest, coincidentally have been around the longest! A tip of the hat to our senior most workers, aged 65+, who maintain concentration on work the longest of any category.

WEIRD THING IS: The distribution bows inward with 24-34’s & 35-44’s reporting the earliest checkout time of any age groups. Hmm 24-44…You don’t think the demands of having young kids plays into this, do you?

DOES MORE EDUCATATION = MORE FOCUS?

Thursday, 4:19PM

The weekend tipping point generally follows educational level with Master’s and PhD holders keeping their minds on work the longest BUT those with Associates Degrees posted the greatest staying power!

WHO CHECKS OUT FIRST: MEN OR WOMEN?

Wednesday, 4:36PM

Men maintain their workweek concentration longer – and by a comfortable margin – as women reported shifting focus nearly a half-day earlier than men (Female = Weds @ 4:36PM, Male = Thurs @ 11:33AM). Wouldn’t have been my bet!

BEYOND THE GIGGLE IMPLICATIONS OF CHECKOUT TIME

  • Use your team’s checkout time to refocus their efforts on what can be accomplished for the rest of the week?
  • Checkout time might be the PERFECT time to start holding your weekly staff meetings!!

Now it’s your turn…go field test these findings with your coworkers, significant other and even your boss! Then share what you’ve learned by writing me directly atjeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,

-Jeff

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