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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Drive your daughter's car

One often mentioned expression is to walk in another's shoes. To do so would allow you to see the world from their perspective and so learn more about what is really going on than what you would normally. MWA or "management by walking around" is a buzzword that is worthy for this very reason. It provides management some time to walk the front line, the assembly line, the docks, the aisles, wherever ... to see what work is really being done. It can allow for some frank conversations. Management is now in the workspace and away from their ivory tower office.

I always liked MWA when I lead a group. I made it a point to find some time during the day to MWA. I generally liked to do it on both a regular basis and an irregular basis. The regularity conveyed the impression that I was concerned and dedicated to do this (and I was). It was rare for me to miss the morning rounds. If the schedule was known in advance, I would also let them know I would not be around in the morning the next day.

The irregular visits therefore were less surprising. It was not strange to see me on the rounds other than in the morning. Most of the time it was to walk to ask a question instead of picking up the phone or sending an email. The benefits were numerous.

All this came back to me in a flash as I took my daughter's car to the train station the other day. To clarify, it is one of the family cars; they just are the primary users. It was decorated recently to celebrate Carolyn's graduation.

Getting into the car, I am reminded how tall I am. I need to adjust the seat inorder to fit. And adjust the mirrors to see properly.

Turning on the car, the radio volume wakes me up. It is tuned to a station I don't normally listen to. But feeling adventurous, I keep it there.

Finding a spot in the station parking lot, draws comments from other commuters on the car decorations. "Nice art work!" "Doesn't it make you feel young again?"

Oh, I wish... no, not really. I am fine this way.

But I think I'll take the car once in a while to feel young again!

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Get out of the way

I am active in the Mentor Program we have at work so this article in the Boston Sunday Globe (free subscription required) caught my eye. Dale Dauten writes:

What got me thinking about "getting out of the way" was an article in The Wall Street Journal under the headline "Today's Bosses Find Mentoring Isn't Worth the Time and Risks." The author, Carol Hymowitz, said this of managers working in "the new model": Staffs are larger because of restructurings that have cut layers of managers, and increasingly they are expected to produce work themselves while supervising employees' output."

She added, "And with the ranks thin and chances for promotion scarce, they are wary of investing too much personal capital in a young employee for fear that person might stumble later on, tarring their own reputation with superiors." I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'd want as mentors people who are worried about the effect my "stumbling" might have on their reputations.

I have to agree, that kind of mentorship will not be successful in the long run.

I believe we should explore one other aspect of mentorship as the world flattens, that is accepting and encouraging peer mentorship. The old model of getting hired at a company fresh out of school and staying there for the remainder of your working life is dead. Along with this model, the typical mentor relationship of someone two or three levels above the protégé may also be at risk. The "free agent nation" has brought about a reduction in longevity (coincident with major companies staff reductions). However you determine which came first, the end result is a mixed workforce. A diverse workforce. And there is nothing wrong with this. The human resources structural environment needs to adjust to this and begin to foster not just the collaboration of teams amongst sites, but mentorship programs of peers. Peers, in this example may have similar roles, but one of whom has spent less time at the company than the other and can benefit from the insights of the person who has been there longer.

If we think about it, many of these relationships effectively have been there all along the way.

Let's take advantage of the situation by recognizing the benefits and help to create a real sharing collaborative workspace.

This will also help to provide more recognition to people on the front line who truly drive the company. As well as the frontline folks do, the company will do.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

100 Bloggers - Cool Template

Check out the rotating header at 100 Bloggers.
Nice work! This is a group I am proud to be part of.
Click on over and check it out!
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kindergarten Lessons

Okay, first a disclaimer that I do have something of a bias about this person whom I am to share with you: Dolores and I have been happily married for going on 24 years with two wonderful young ladies to be proud of.
But I could pick up any number of notes or letters from a parent who have written such nice thank yous for all the work Dolores does with their son or daughter in her kindergarten class. Work, yes it most certainly is work. Many hours are spent preparing her lessons, preparing her room for the kids when they arrive. There are weeks where she probably works more than I do in the corporate world. That she only gets paid for the classroom time is a story for another time.
Kindergarten is a critical time in one's education. It officially starts the formal education. Technically the primary grades begin the next year, but this gets the child established in a new routine most of the time in the same school they will spend their next several years.
They walk into the room in late August unsure of themselves, in some cases not wanting to let go of their parents. Dolores gradually gets them settled into a routine. They get involved in doing daily jobs. They learn to make choices to work at different centers at times during the day. Their Fifth Grade buddies join them during the year and they work on projects together. The 100th Day comes along and with it special activities.
Then it is June and time to say goodbye to all their friends. Some they will see in the 1st Grade come the new school year in September. Some may leave the neighborhood. When they do leave Dolores' kindergarten classroom, they are as prepared as a kindergartner can be.
Check out Dolores's web page. She keeps it updated to keep the parents informed of what is happening during the year. She posts her weekly newsletter "The Kindergarten Times". She captures quick a few pictures for the Photo Gallery.
If I could start over again, I would start in kindergarten. Those are fun days. So much to do and learn.
Yes, there is inspiration here for all of us on the life long learning journey.
Approach each day as if you were in kindergarten.
What a world it will be for you to make it your own!
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Stop paying it

If there is any power in "positive thinking," it's not some spiritual or magical force. It's far simpler than that. By refusing to keep reinforcing the negatives in your life, you steadily reduce their ability to block you from action to grow and succeed. You don't even have to think positively (though it may help). All that's needed is a determined refusal to go on repeating what that unthinking parent, sadistic boss , or cruel "friend" said to you. Let it go. Don't try to argue with your inner critic. Stop paying it any attention. Do what you want to do, regardless of the voice in your head. Believe me, in quite a short time, it'll become so weak you'll stop hearing it.

From Adrian Savage writing at The Coyote Within


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When you choose

... when it comes down to it, the only way you can ever truly hope to change your life is to change your inner programming. Otherwise, it’s like taking a cloth to a TV screen, wiping and wiping, expecting to see different results.

Basically, we choose the life we’ve been programmed to choose – until we choose to no longer go with the program.

From Karen Salmansohn writing at Daily Life Booster Blog!


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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Commencement everyday

Welcome to Tertiary Education, a new venture for me.

I have been writing since college. My public writing (blogging) began in 2004 as a culmination of three influences: Tom Peters, Stephen Covey and Mark Hurst. There were other influences along the way but these three stick out.

Steve had published The 8th Habit.
Tom had published Reimagine.
Mark was publishing his Good Experience newsletter.

I found my voice to add my 2 cents to the blogosphere. The writing there spun off the Hitchhiker's guide as I found other good blogs and wanted to share them. My running spawned its own forum and then my work related passion around creating a good customer experience generated its own forum.

The network provided an opportunity to explore a virtual team and how we could work together to explore our common interests in synergy. One idea that grew from that group is Blogidarity.

So why another blog?

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman is the latest influence. There are a number of connections coming together here. I started to be the world's greatest teacher of English but while I was able to work for six years as a coach and substitute teacher, finding a permanent position at the time was not in the cards. I switched to the "real world" and began my introduction into technology and support. Multiple positions with two companies have lead me to where I am today. My paths have confirmed the logical process that Tom follows in his book. I do believe the world is flattening. I do believe change will continue to be a way of life. I do believe there is no longer "business as usual".

Change is difficult for the unprepared but easy for those who are prepared.

The writing here will focus around what is needed to adapt to the new evolving world. I believe the approach that a process of life long learning, collaborative learning, working in virtual teams across miles, countries, oceans, and space eventually will allow one to succeed.

This is the commencement we need to make each day.
The commitment we need to make.

If you are interested, please subscribe with one of the several options provided. Comment as you may. Drop me an email to further a discussion.

I look forward to doing this together.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Golden Arches Replaced by Dell Theory

Thomas Friedman has written previously about the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention. He had observed that no two countries with McDonald's had ever fought against each other. This theory held up pretty well but now almost every country has a McDonald's the theory needs to be updated for the flat world.

However, Tom has come up with a revision

... I offer the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention, the essence of which is that the advent and spread of just-in-time global supply chains in the flat world are an even greater restraint on geopolitical adventurism than the more general rising standard of living that McDonald's symbolized.

The Dell Theory stipulates: No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell's will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain. Because people embedded in major global supply chains don't want to fight old-time wars anymore. They want to make just-in-time deliveries of goods and services --- and enjoy the rising standards of living that come with that.

From The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

Blog Disclosure

Much recently has been made of trust, or the lack thereof, when it is revealed that someone has blogged or created buzz without disclosing that there was a financial incentive to do so.

Jeff Jarvis wrote on this today.

Seth Godin had this on December 20, 2004.

There are likely many others. These two happen to be ones I read regularly and whose references were handy.

I have taken Seth's statement and reworked it for my own situation:

This blog doesn't accept ads or sponsorships.

I don't own stock or ccept royalties from any company or product mentioned on this blog.

I don't serve on any boards.

If the occasion were to come up, I would consider accepting samples of stuff with a nominal value (under $20 or so).

I will tell you that there is no correlation between mentioning stuff and whether or not someone sent it to me.

I write about what I find interesting and I think will interest you as a reader.

My goal in creating this blog is to share my ideas and hopefully create a conversation that will generate something more than we each started with.

My success will be determined by your readership (or lack thereof).

I consider myself an amateur writer, a professional learner.

If anything changes with what I have said here, I will let you know. I promise.

A similar version (actually the original) of this is posted here.

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How to read this page

Welcome, thank you for stopping by.

You'll note that the center column is where this blogs posts appear in chronological order, most recent on the top, scrolling down to the last on this page, then it rolls over into the archives which are collected by month in the right column.

Yes, that is a black and white picture of moi. Take last year by my wife while we were enjoying dinner at a Bubba Gump restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the best I could do for a picture at the time, but stay tuned the best is yet to come!

The top section contains My Important Links. These provide some additional insights into who writes here and why that have been pulled aside to make it easier to find.

The distractions scrolling on your left are rotational headlines from my other blogs:
The two static buttons are also where I blog or blog about. Team Synergy is a group blog looking to explore the "Power of We". Blogidarity is our group fund raising effort. We "sponsor" a fund raising organization periodically and attempt through our blogging efforts to raise awareness of the organization and hopefully to allow them to raise some money. This is where I put my money where my mouth is! I also blog at 100Bloggers but I have not put a button together yet.

Before we go below the page line, on the right, the second box contains the subscription options. Hopefully, it will enable you to pick you choice. If you use Bloglines (as I do) there is a button. If you use another RSS reader, then the XML button should work for you. If you prefer subscription via email, then enter your email into the Feedblitz button and you should be on your way. If you have a Technorati account, you can add this blog to your favorites with the button.

On the left side, just under the headlines, is the CoComment section. One of my favorite finds for 2006. I could never always remember where I visited (and I do usually visit quite a few blogs during the course of a week) and where I left a comment. This is like the bread crumb tracker that Hansel and Gretel needed! I can go back to where I left a comment and find out if anyone added to it. Overtime, as more people use CoComment, their comments will appear automatically here, so I won't have to go too far to look. Yes, I am lazy like that.

Back over to the right side. Below the subscription options, you'll find the Franklin, MA weather snapshot. Then the listing of previous posts followed by My Important Links. These provide some additional insights into who writes here and why that have been pulled aside to make it easier to find.

Then the all important for the often neglected archives. My archives here do not go back too far. Stay tuned, they will build over time. One of the benefits of the scrolling headlines on the top left corner, you can see where I have posted most recently so if I have not been writing here, I may have been busy elsewhere.

Underneath the archives, last but not least on the page is the blogroll or listing of the top sites I would recommend for others to visit. I try to keep my listing current and worthwhile. There are changes from time to time. Burningbird has just recently stopped blogging so I need to remove that listing. I have visited other blogs and when I tried to follow links on their blogroll, many of them are dead. That irks me so I don't like it to happen here.

Oh and the template is curtesy of Thur Broders. I used his standard 3 column template and made modifications to develop the color schemes for each of my personal blogs. He gets the credit. He knows way more html coding than I do.

Well, I hope this helps you to navigate around the page. Do not hesitate to click on a link. It will usually take you some place good. I try to check all my links. If you do find a broken one, please let me know. I do not like for folks to have a bad experience, especially since I write about creating good experiences!

The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman

I have finished working my way through The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.

Found this from the beginning of Chapter 6 on "The Untouchables":
So if the flattening of the world is largely (but not entirely) unstoppable, and holds out the potential to be as beneficial to American society as a whole as past market evolutions have been, how does an individual get the best out of it? What do we tell out kids?

There is only one message: You have to constantly upgrade your skills. There will be plenty of good jobs out there in the flat world for people with the knowledge and ideas to seize them.

I am not suggesting this will be simple. It will not be. There will be a lot of other people out there also trying to get smarter. It was never good to be mediocre in your job, but in a world of walls, mediocrity could still earn you a decent wage. In a flatter world, you really do not want to be mediocre. You don't want to find yourself in the shoes of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, when his son Biff dispels his idea that the Loman family is special by declaring, "Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!" An angry Willy retorts, "I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!"

I don't care to have that conversation with my girls, so my advice to them in this flat world is very brief and very blunt: "Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, "Tom, finish your dinner --- people in China and India are starving.' My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework --- people in China and India are starving for your jobs."
Like Tom, I also have two daughters so this strikes very close to home.