My avocation is process efficiency. I spend my time helping businesses come up with ways to do things smarter, faster, better. My teams think it a big success to decrease the time it takes to do something by 50% or more. Yet… I’m concerned about how all this efficiency, including automation and “right-sourcing”, are affecting the long-term prospects for human employment. Continue reading
At one time, Stephen King decided to stop selling a relatively popular book called “Rage”. The novel was the first book published under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman, and was written decades ago. It’s the story of an angry teenager who shoots teachers and holds classmates hostage.
For a while after the book was published, King defended his story, saying that it did not cause anyone to go off the deep end. Over time, however, the book was found in the belongings of four perpetrators of school shootings, and around 1997, King allowed the book to fall out of publication and apparently asked publishers to remove existing copies from sale. A few years after that, many applauded his decision, although others thought he should have stood up for the rights of the artist.
This isn’t the only story of how people use their influence to create a better world. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that she is training herself to stop saying, “I’m sorry” at work. At first, this seemed ludicrous to me, now it seems like genius. Business people, most particularly businesswomen need to get out of the habit of apologizing. As a good girl, who prides herself on being “raised right”, this feels a little callous and rude, but there’s an important lesson here. Continue reading
It’s a well known maxim – “the corporation has no soul”. I believe that with my whole heart. People have souls, enterprises don’t. Sometimes, the culture of an organization allows the collective souls of its employees to set a shining example, but those efforts are still led by feeling, thinking humans.
There are lots of reasons for business to exist, but the overwhelming and primary reason is to make money. And… if a corporation focuses on that goal without wavering, they will do a lot of good along the way.
Most of us understand the basics of the enterprise. Every business in the world – from Campbell to Planters – has followed one script… Continue reading
I’m regularly surprised by questions about how to justify a sustainability program. It’s an easy answer. It takes time and money to run a sustainability initiative and you justify it in the same way you justify ANY company expense.
Business “value” is quantified in just a few ways. Revenue and current cost savings are considered hard value. Productivity gains and cost avoidance are soft value. Goodwill and reputation value are even softer still.
Hard Value. Discussions of hard value are easy. Continue reading
I’m a ’70s kid. I grew up in a small town, with a small mall. We had some bigger anchor stores, but the place to be if you were a smart kid, was the RadioShack that sat right in the middle of the mall. I’ve already written about my first job. My second job was this… I arrived for my teenage summer job at the family business. My dad pointed to some boxes in the corner and said, “There’s your job.”
“Unpacking boxes?” I asked. Continue reading
Yesterday, I saw a great post on an HR site, suggesting an out-of-the-box interview question. Frankly, these are sometimes a dime-a-dozen, but I really like this as a good interview opener: “Tell me about your first paying job and what you learned from it.”
My first job, at the age of 14, was on a land surveying crew. My dad owned the business and there was only one job available (my older sister was already working in the office, at the reception desk). It was hot, sweaty, dirty and definitely not the job that a teenage girl dreams of.
What did I learn at that job? Continue reading
Let’s say you’ve recently become a manager. No doubt, you’re happy with your achievement. You have a lot more authority to make decisions and to influence others. Has it occurred to you yet that there could be a downside to your authority?
Kerry Patterson, in the VitalSmarts newsletter, has written an excellent cautionary tale he calls “the captain’s fireplace”. You can read the original story for yourself, but here’s a quick summary… The captain of a military base notices some scrap wood in a dumpster and calls to make sure no one else wants it before he grabs some for his fireplace.
The ensign he talks to offers to find out about the scrap wood and calls the chief of supply to make sure it’s okay. The warrant officer makes a call, and so on, until the captain’s wife eventually calls to thank them for the wood. Outside in the supply yard, people are grumbling about how they had to cut brand new boards to fit the captain’s fireplace, when they couldn’t afford other vital supplies.
What happened? Continue reading
Have we become a society that doesn’t know how to discover anymore? When I go online, Google serves up what I’m looking for before I really understand that I’m looking for it. It’s creepy, and thrilling.
I just watched “Her” the other day. (I know I’m running behind, but I have a boyfriend who only uses the cool dark confines of a movie theater to catch a nap. As a result, I often fall prey to the beckoning Redbox kiosk that sits patiently at the end of the checkout inside my local Safeway.) In the movie, the Siri-like voice on the cell phone anticipates needs – a richer experience than Google offers in my search results, but similar.
We all need a little help sometimes. There are moments where all it takes is a small assist. Other times, you need lots of resources to get you out of a dark, deep hole. Sometimes, it feels like help is hard to find.
On the other hand, have you ever noticed that there are some people who always have a long line of people willing to help? They don’t need help very often, but when they do, lots of assistance shows up. There’s a reason for that… It’s all in the way they respond.
You might need professional support, money, a borrowed item, a hide-out, or advice. Maybe you asked for help, maybe you didn’t. Regardless of the type of help you need, there are only a few basic responses for colleagues, friends, family and even total strangers.
Let’s take these one at a time… Continue reading