This week I felt a bit stupid. Lots of times.
The feeling is not great but the reason is. There is no way to enter a real challenge without feeling a little stupid. To challenge yourself is to go into never before sailed seas, trying the uncomfortable, feeling burrinha (“a little stupid” in Portuguese).
To always feel you are sharp and in control will not take you to the next level.
When was the last time you felt a little stupid?
Another great post on Seth’s Blog… worth a read
Why is it so hard for organizations to understand what Tony did with customer service at Zappo’s? Instead of measuring the call center on calls answered per minute, he insisted that the operators be trained and rewarded to take their time and actually be human, to connect and make a difference instead of merely processing the incoming.
People hear this, see the billion dollars in goodwill that was created, nod their heads and then go back to running an efficient call center. Why?
In the industrial era, the job of the chief operating officer revolved around two related functions:
- Decrease costs
- Increase productivity
The company knew what needed to be done, and operations was responsible for doing it. Cutting costs, increasing reliability of delivery, getting more done with less–From Taylor on, the job was pretty clear.
In the post-industrial age, when thriving organizations do something different tomorrow than they did yesterday, when the output is connection as much as stuff, the objectives are very different. In today’s environment, the related functions are:
- Increase alignment
- Decrease fear
Alignment to the mission, to the culture, to what we do around here–this is critical, because in changing times, we can’t rely on a static hierarchy to manage people. We have to lead them instead, we have to put decision making power as ‘low’ (not a good word, but it’s left over from the industrial model) in the organization as possible.
As the armed forces have discovered, it’s the enlisted man in the village that wins battles (and hearts and minds) now, not the general with his maps and charts. Giving your people the ability to make decisions and connections is impossible in a command and control environment.
Read full here.
What a great campaign by IBM / Ogilvy Paris (big thanks to Julia!)
I have been thinking a lot lately about processes and what drives them. What are they meant to actually do for a company and its employees and what is the reality in many workplaces?
The basic principle of creating a process is to simplify communication and create clarity on operations. This should be driven by a will to make things easier, simpler and more effective and not to use it as a defense mechanism for what you are doing in case people doubt or ask.
A friend, for example, works for a telco giant in São Paulo where even small agreements between her and her boss need to be put into powerpoint and emailed. How on earth is this process simplifying anything? This a defense mechanism in case someone says “you agreed on this or that – here’s proof!”
I think there is a tipping point in a growing start-up where things can go wrong. Process wrong. CEOs and managers need answers and measurements, they don’t have a strong presence in operations anymore (which makes them uncomfortable), growth is fast and pressure is on.
That is when people should stop and look at the processes they are creating: Is this creating a clearer, simpler channel to operate and opening up communication or am I creating this in case on day I need to defend myself?
Focus Means Ignoring – by Able Paris
Do the things that make you interesting.
There are many things vying for our attention, and while some of them are a good use of time, many of them are only keeping us from what we *should* be doing. Our time and headspace are the most valuable things we have, and what we can do with them is virtually unlimited. I am learning (or perhaps re-learning) that cutting out distractions can be more valuable than any to-do app or time in front of a screen. We need to spend less time looking to others for interesting things, and start spending more time doing the things that make us interesting. Perhaps you need to dedicate more time to that thing that got you where you are or that thing that will get you where you want to be.
What a great post by Jason Fried – Competing on Easy. I can’t help but constantly post their stuff here!
Simple is always more effective and more satisfying.
Some people get excited about building something new that the world has never seen.
Others get excited about making something more beautiful than it was before.
Others like making things faster.
And some others get off on making something less expensive.
To differing degrees, these are all personal driving factors of mine as well. But the one that stands out above all the others is the drive to make things easier. I like to make things easier for people. I love competing on easy.
I find easy to be the most personally rewarding, too. It has such direct impact. When something is easier, you feel it. You’ve done it the hard way before, so when you experience the easy way you immediately know the difference.
Easy feels like a cold Coke on a hot day. It’s just so satisfying. The harder it’s been – the thirstier you are – the better it tastes, too.
Another thing about easy – it’s personal. “Thank you” is often a response you hear when you make something easier for someone. Easier is appreciated.
Easy could mean faster. Easier could mean more obvious. Easy could mean a lot of things. But the part of easy I like is when you take an existing problem, study it until it becomes clear, toss out everything that makes it blurry, and carefully polish what’s left over.
Doers vs. Those who don’t
“Formality is like a virus that infects the productive tissue of an organization. The symptoms are stiffness, stuffiness, and inflexibility – its origin never with those who do but with those that don’t.
When did you last hear a programmer or designer clamor to wear a suit to work? The order always come from the executives (followed shortly by a request for those TPS reports!)
Formality is more than a dress code, of course. It infects how people talk, write, and interact. It eats through all the edges and the individuality, leaving only the square behind. In other words, it’s all about posture, not productivity.
And once you place being proper above getting great work done, it’s unlikely that you’ll attract the best and most creative minds to work for you. (Though you’ll surely have no trouble filling the ranks with folks who can fit the existing molds.)
Formality is so ingrained in much of our working culture that even though people intuitively understand its harm, as in the colloquial “it’s just a formality, but we have to…”, it lives on.
Thankfully, there seems to be a cure: Companies started and run by doers. People close enough to the work to see the damage of formality and who’ll have none of it.
In technology, the best and brightest have long belonged to this class. Their images are iconic: Bezos in his jeans and sports coat, Jobs in his turtleneck and New Balance shoes, Zuckerberg in his hoodie.
Contrast this to the suits running RIM or Nokia or IBM. They’re either in literal decline and despair or they’ve found a second life of relevance in the tombs of The Enterprise.”
READ THE POST HERE
Easily one of the best talks I’ve heard recently. Be kind to yourself and watch this.
Jonah Lehrer: The Origins of Creative Insight & Why You Need Grit from 99% on Vimeo.