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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 29 March 2013

The TTC: The Truth Will Set You Free

It's easy to not pay attention, when the consequences aren't looking you in the eye; if you're confident the other guy is passive (or not as aggressive as you are) then you don't need to worry whether you're picking a fight on a streetcar, smoking in a no-smoking, standing at the top of a subway exit or putting your feet up on a seat.  

To some degree, everyone does it; to an even greater degree, we get annoyed when others do it.

But you know what's even easier and provides a sense of gratification?  Posting pics of thee offenders online.

Now, you can question the legalities of this - is it an infringement of one's rights to have your pics posted acting poorly?  But then, wasn't it infringement of someone else's rights that got you in trouble in the first place?

Particularly as we see top dogs getting off with crimes that would put regular people in jail, people are growing frustrated with our justice system.  Fortunately, thanks to modern tech, today's lynch moms are social posters. If there aren't enough police resources to catch minor criminals, there certainly won't be for this kind of infraction - unless, of course, it starts involving enforcement officials themselves.  There's a tricky line there that can shift in some interesting ways.

Social media is helping to bring village-level personal accountability from the individual to the community.  It's not just about what you get out of it, it's the price that access comes with.  This calls upon the individual, at whatever level they're at, to start thinking through the personal consequences they face (like employers being punished for posting drinking pictures on Facebook) but also start to see the value of being recorded by strangers doing things like practical giving up your seat to a pregnant woman or helping a stranger get their stroller down stairs.  

The Objectivists out there will hate this trend, but societies have always involved mechanisms of social control, ranging from the rite of marriage to the shivaree.
Of course, humans are social animals - always have been.  It has only been recently people have forgotten this.  Well, as they say:     The truth will set you free.

The Enablers of Rob Ford: Not a Human Failure, But a Social One

National Post

Toronto's Mayor generates lots of stories.  One that I think gets too often overlooked is his bid to help someone get Oxycontin.  I think this story actually tells us a lot about the Mayor that everyone, especially his own enablers, should pay attention to.  

If you've ever worked in an organization that relies on volunteers or, even better, in an emergency situation, you'll be familiar with the individual that really, really wants to help, to do something, to be part of something, but either their personality doesn't seem like a good fit of they don't have the skills you need.  At the same time, they're volunteers - nobody is paying them to participate, it's a genuine human interest in the issue at hand.  We really should want people to engage.

Rob Ford strikes me a bit as one of these.  He really means well, from his own point of view.  I've even heard from (former) members of his staff that he's a good boss, making sure to provide Raptors' tickets and the like in recognition of hard work.  

At the same time, it's clear he has trouble seeing the bigger-picture impact of the choices he makes.  Helping someone get Oxy outside of the health system ignores the broader health record of that individual.  Maybe they need it, maybe they're overcoming an addiction to it, maybe his doctor is attempting an alternative that might be short-term uncomfortable but better in the long run.  We don't know.  Ford didn't know - and he couldn't have unless he'd done his homework.  But potentially breaking the law to help get a potential addict access to the drug that could destroy him isn't help - it's dangerous enabling in the absence of content.

But as we know, Ford doesn't believe in doing his homework.  He's got the mindset of a (granted) entitled entrepreneur; the rules don't apply to him because he's the guy getting stuff done; if he worried about every bit of red tape, he'd get nowhere, and getting somewhere matters. 

Lindsay LohanSo, it's subway or nothing, the money will sort it self out.  Get the guy what he needs, the individual will be able to sort themselves out.  Don't worry about a rule book on donations or use of staff property - government should work like a business so he's just going to keep on keeping on.  

Having just completed an online course explaining Emergency Management Ontario's Incident Management System, I can tell you that the Ford approach to complex challenges is not the best one to use for solving crises and generating solutions.  Instead, it tends to make existing problems worse.

As an individual, Ford demonstrates little self-control; he can't hold off in texting while he's driving and gets snippy at people who pester him to be responsible.  He creates unnecessary challenges in Council and gets himself into trouble, regularly, over his personal conduct.  Ford seems to have two defaults - flight or fight.  Like a toned-down Lindsay Lohan or a Charlie Sheen, the Mayor's pattern of behaviour does demonstrate a consistent trend towards self-destruction.

There's a general profile that goes along with this sort of behaviour; the myth of indestructibility, self-control and maybe even a better understanding of the real world than other people.  The risk of this delusional profile is that people who could otherwise succeed and make positive differences frequently leave messy wakes in the shadow of their self-immolation.  Just look at Michael Jackson.

The Gloved One provides a great example; here was a guy with a legitimate gift to offer, but with proclivities and insecurities that were eating at his mental and physical health - not to mention the public's perception of him.  Team members, particularly his doctor, may have thought they were giving the Hell-Of-A_Guy they worked for what he needed to keep performing and stave off any challenges to his continuing on in his own way.  The uncomfortable truth they face is that they killed The King of Pop just as surely as if they'd forced the pills into his mouth and washed them down for him.

I have an uncomfortable feeling that the Ford story will have a messy ending; there are a number of scenarios that could unfold, all of them unpleasant - and all of them fueled by well-meaning people that have fallen in to the role of enabler.

So, essentially, this post is more for Rob Ford's staff, friends and family than for the Mayor himself.  If there are no substance issues, if there are no control issues, if there are no behavioural ticks, where did all the media (not just "left wing" but Sun commentators too) start from?  If there are issues, are they strictly caused by outside factors related to the job?  Is the role of Mayor not Communicator-In_Chief?  If the bad people who interact with The Mayor daily are the unavoidable problem, is the mayoralty part of Rob Ford's problem?  

If it goes deeper than that - if Ford is battling issues for which there are both diagnoses and treatments that could help him; are his enablers, be they allies or staff, actually "protecting" the Mayor at the expense of getting the Man the help he needs?  It strikes me that the staffer calling other schools above fits this category; looking for alternatives for a man who really doesn't need to be in that space right now at all for optical, functional and legal considerations.

Should it come to a real emergency for Rob Ford, then the question will inevitably rise of "who helped shield him from addressing his problems?"  No one person "builds that" - not the success of an organization, nor the fall of one of its members.  The people who have helped facilitate Ford Nation, ranging from staff to consultants, campaign teams to radio show producers should start asking themselves if they're really trying to back the Mayor, or use him for their own gain?  What consequences are they prepared to face?

Michael Jackson DiesAnd there will be consequences.  Depending on how severe the fall is, they could be legal, life-altering consequences for colleagues, staff and partners that enable the Mayor's decline

I would be happy to speak with anyone in that circle honestly concerned for the Mayor's well-being on steps that can be taken and agencies that can be approached for discrete and tactful advice.  My promise in return would be to communicate nothing of any such conversations unless obliged to, by law, and under oath.  

I don't make promises often, but when I do, I keep them.  It's not hard to find supporters who will back that up.  As a side bar - if I know I can be part of the solution in a more direct fashion, there's little point in my continuing to offer advice here.

The goal, in my mind, should never be to tear a man down, nor should it be to isolate him and allow him to erode on his own.  That's the system we have in place now and it's proven not to work.  

We need to move past this "objective" view of individuals and look at society as a system - what impacts one of us impacts all of us.  We therefore all have a stake.  We can fail alone, leaving many victims in our aftermath, or we work together.  By this token, we can reach out to each other, or we can fidget uncomfortably in silos of our own making.

I'm not hard to get a hold of should anyone want to reach out.  If it isn't me, though, it should be someone.  Mayor Ford shouldn't have to face his trials alone, or with the well-meaning but ill-informed advice of enablers, even if they're family who really and truly believe they know best.

Thursday 28 March 2013

Is Your Career a Destination Or a Journey?

Personally, I'm always in it for the adventure.

Bilbo Baggins I am going on an adventure in the hobbit an unexpected journey

What's your career path: journey or destination?

When asked about career path, some are quick to say things like “VP of … in 10 years” or “world’s expert in ….” Others might say “work in engineering, sales, management, and ….” Or maybe some would say "start 3 companies...IPO." Taking a step back it is worth putting a framework around how to think about the experiences you build over time. Climbing the corporate or businesses ladders aren't the only ways to think about careers, even though they occupy much of the energy devoted to talking about careers. Do you view your career as a journey or a destination?
Please be sure to see the three quick questions poll at the end of this post along with results from the last poll and take this post's survey on career paths here.
For some, a professional career is a destination. From the very start, the goal is to achieve some level of proficiency or stature in your chosen field of work. The destination can be a role, a company, a level of achievement, or other specific and measurable goal.
For others, a professional career is a journey. From the very start, the goal is to experience work from a variety of perspectives in your field and adjacent field. The journey can be different companies or organizations within a big company, job types, geographies, or other varied aspects of your profession.
Destination and journey are different ways to look at career progression. While it is tempting to think of these as mutually exclusive or as a one-time choice, the reality is (as you can expect) a little less clear. Even so, you want to know not just the next step but the reasons behind next steps and how they contribute to a career path.


Many start careers with a goal of working their way “up” the chain. Going to manager, to general manager or director, to vice president, and more (gaining rank, earning tenure, making partner, etc.) defines progress. This might be exactly right for you. Setting your sights on specific and measurable milestones fits with how many view career progression.
Progression up the corporate ladder is not the only way to about your destination. In planning your next steps, one might consider two views of a destination-oriented path:
  • Org leader. As an org leader you follow the path of moving “up”. While your path might involve moving laterally at times, you focus on meeting the objectives as defined by the organization for what skills and experiences enable you to move through the milestones of management.
  • Domain expert. As a domain expert you follow the path of being the leader in your area in your company. For many technologists, this is ultimately where the highest satisfaction comes from. You know the ins and outs of a technology, system, or product better than anyone. You do this through years of experience and effort.
Focusing on your destination is not for everyone. This is not just a statement of skills that not everyone might have, but time and place play a role in achieving this type of goal. In most large organizations there is a fraction of the total team at “top” positions. For every VP there might be 100 or even 1000 other employees. Similarly, for every top domain expert, there may be 100 or 1000 other employees not as far along in their domain knowledge.
A destination goal is a long term play and means that during your path you will have periods that feel like you are not moving up, but that should not stop you from moving forward. You might need to take a step left or right sometimes to keep moving up. Most of all, never think that for you to move up, someone needs to move down. Most of the time with a destination oriented career your next steps are visible to you and the organization, and patience and timing play important parts of progression.
When you are set on a destination you also want to be prepared to manage through changes in the landscape.
As an org leader you are ultimately accountable for large projects or budgets, and the people that deliver on those commitments. Sometimes things don’t go as hoped and as an org leader you have to step up and accept responsibility. These become the key learning moments in your career progression.
As a domain expert, technologies change and paradigms change. The long-term domain experts are expert not in the specifics but in the solutions. As an amazing programmer you want to reinvent yourself as new languages and tools emerge. Leading the team through these discontinuities are the key learning moments in your career progression.


Many people start their careers knowing that the world is a big place waiting to be explored. They see the world through the lens of an adventurer or explorer. Going thoughtfully from one role to another or one organization to another fills your expectations of progressing through your career, or life. Setting your sites on a collection of experiences that you wish to have is the measurable way of managing your career.
Variety is not easy to measure and there is a fine line between variety and job-hopping. If the journey is your goal you want to have a clear understanding of how you intend to assemble a collection of experiences. You will move thoughtfully through these experiences and time your moves based on achieving some level of proficiency, satisfaction, and success.
In planning your journey, you might consider two views of a journey-oriented career path:
  • Breadth leader. With breadth leader, you aim to have very different roles over time. You might choose to move between sales, marketing, business, or development in a product area you know and love. You might choose to move to different parts of the world to experience sales and marketing with a local flavor. You might choose to work on a variety of products within a large organization. You might even move from company to company. All of these broaden your experiences, and if you’re focused on the journey you will meet different people, learn from different perspectives, and experience your career from a variety of vantage points, absorbing these along the way as you grow and mature. Along the way you will be in a position to lead more as you gain experiences.
  • Field expert. As a field expert, you collect experiences much like a domain expert but you establish breadth expertise by looking at your domain from a 360 degree view. You might be a technical expert with experience implementing such as system at different companies or you might have engineered similar systems from the ground up several times in different contexts. You seek to grow and progress through your career with depth experiences explored from different angles.
A journey career is not for everyone. You substitute the certainty of goals such as ladder levels or career stages, job titles, and pay grades with more substantial transitions. With a journey career your next steps are much more about what you seek out to achieve and less about what “comes next”. As with the explorers from another era, a journey career is driven from within and by your own desires.
On your journey, the transitions are key times you take action and plan on your next steps. Your deliberate next step makes all the difference when you reflect back on your path. Did your next step look “random” or did you have a clear rationale for choosing what you did? Think about how you might explain your steps to someone looking at your resume/CV as you explore the step after the next one.
When you choose your next step, you need to be prepared for a lot of change. You will work for new people, work with new people, and have different processes. You will need to adapt and conform. Things you thought you knew might not be right in the new context. On the other hand you will meet all sorts of new people and experience new ways of approaching the problems and challenges of business. Down the road when you have to define a process for a group, you have all your experiences and contexts to draw from to avoid repeating mistakes you might have experienced.
With a breadth leader path you might feel like you really jumped in the deep end at one transition. You might feel like you made a big mistake, going to work in a far-away place for example. Stick with it. Live through it. Adapt and grow. You will become more valuable to the team as a whole when you can call upon the collected learning. These are the learning moments on your journey.
As a field expert, you might find yourself in a familiar domain but without the resources you became accustomed to at your last role. You might wish you could call on that trusted associate or allocate budget in a way you did before, but these are not available to you. You will need to blaze a new trail or creatively solve the problem using the experience you have but applied differently. Using your domain knowledge and experience in this new context is how you learn as a field expert.


You might reach a stage in your career where you want to settle down after many a journey. You might similarly reach a stage where it is time to explore new domains, new organizations, or just different perspectives. In other words you might find a stage in your career where the other of journey or destination becomes your new goal. Resetting your approach can be part of the journey of life.
Of course both paths have room to grow your salary and responsibility. While destination roles have high visibility in terms of material benefits, most organizations strive to have material benefits available for a broad array of people and assignments.
Keeping in mind your path and where you see the moves in your career will help you to have much more informed discussions with your managers and mentors. As a manager (or mentor), helping the members of the team to see their own desires and wishes will assist in coaching them through transitions.
If there is one piece of advice that transcends the description of your path, it is that no matter where you intend to go, the most important thing is to be excellent at what you are currently doing. When you’re doing excellent work, you create alternatives for yourself and open doors to new opportunities and paths.
--Steven Sinofsky

Three quick questions poll by Cameron

In the “Being a Leader…” post we asked three questions about your manager’s behavior and your empowerment/productivity. We had a great response from this popular post, here is what we learned together:
  • Over half of you (54%) report that your manager “asks me to solve vaguely defined problems”, while only 14% report that their manager “spells out expectations in detail”
  • Nearly half (48%) said that their manager “mostly edits” when reviewing their work and 45% said their manager “adds works without taking work away”
  • There is nearly a 10% difference in the % of managers that provide “feedback quickly”(43%) vs. managers that provide “thoughtful, thorough feedback” (34%)
Next, we wanted to look at the relationship between your managers’ traits and your level of productivity and empowerment, both of which you ranked on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is low and 5 is high. The results were interesting:
  • Those of you with managers that “mostly edit” when reviewing your work were about a point lower on the empowerment scale
  • Those of you with managers that provided “thoughtful, thorough feedback” were about a point higher on the empowerment scale, but on average a half point lower on the productive scale
  • Similarly, those of you with managers that use “delegation as a way to give others authority to make decisions” are a half point higher on the empowerment scale, but a half point lower on the productive scale.
  • Those of you who had managers that “add work without taking work away” have a half point higher productivity
Bottom line: A consistent theme was that quality and quantity can be a trade-off, in leadership and in our deliverables. Often having both can prove difficult.
Disclaimer: As a caveat, it’s worth noting the subjective nature of these questions, and the potential bias of people taking this survey—those who likely have an interest in being an effective leader themselves.
Take this post's survey on career paths here. Results reported with the next post. Thank you!
--Cameron, studying big data at Stanford

Be A Hero: Five Steps to Vanquish Any Problem (Fred Kofman)

See?  You don't have to a superman to be a hero - you just have to have faith in yourself.

If you don´t see yourself as part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution.
Every culture teaches this through a similar story. Joseph Campbell, anthropologist and advisor for Star Wars, called it “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” The hero starts his journey feeling at the mercy of external circumstances. By the end, he realizes he is in control of his destiny. He knows that he can choose how to behave, learn and grow.
Teaching accounting at MIT, I saw how numbers shape perceptions. Coaching leaders all over the world, I learned how stories shape lives. Good stories inspire you; bad stories disempower you. The worst stories are the ones that have you as a victim.
Heroes are not just mythical characters. They are examples of you at your best. Here are five suggestions to always remember who you are.
1. No problem -- Take the challenge
There is no such thing as a problem. What you call "a problem" is not a thing independent of you, but a situation you don´t like. It is “a problem for you.” To deal with it more effectively, put yourself in the picture. Think of it as your challenge. Take the difficulty as an opportunity to show your true colors.
I often catch myself saying, “the real problem is…” followed by the thought, “…that you don´t agree with me!” Equally often, my counterpart argues that “the real problem is…” that I don´t agree with him. Unless we recognize and give up these bad stories, we will each push hard to overcome the other. Push versus push equals stuck: a very expensive stalemate where we both spend tremendous energy for no result.
2. Drop “Who's responsible?” – Be response-able
You didn't do it. So what? You are suffering from it. People and things are out of control. It is tempting to blame them and play the part of the innocent victim. Don't. The price of innocence is impotence. That which you blame you empower. Become the hero of the story; focus on what you can do to respond to your challenge.
The inspiring question is not, “why is this happening to me!” but “what is the best I can do when this happens?”
I once coached a financial services executive who would always blame external factors: regulation, competition, the economy, his employees, his boss, his peers. All these forces did impinge on his goals. It was the truth, but not the whole truth. The truth that he refused to accept, the one that blocked his growth, was that he was able to respond to these forces.
3. Forget what you don´t want – Focus on what you want.
Consider an issue that troubles you. What would you like to have happen? I ask this every time I coach. Infallibly, I learn what my client would like to not have happen anymore. This is a bad end for a hero´s journey. Avoiding what you don´t want will take your energy away from achieving what you do want.
Your brain doesn't compute “no”. What you try to avoid you unconsciously create. If you don´t believe this, try to not think of a white bear right now and notice where your mind goes. Define a positive outcome precisely. Ask yourself, "What do I really want?" and visualize it in as much detail as you can. This will force you to put some flesh on the conceptual bones. Furthermore, ask yourself, “How would I know that I got what I wanted? What would I see? What would I feel?” In this way you will be sure that your vision has observable standards by which to measure success.
4. Take one eye off the ball – Go for the gold.
It’s not about hitting the ball; it’s about winning the game. Set your mind on what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Build a chain from means to ends, taking you from getting the job, to advancing your career, to feeling professionally fulfilled, to being happy. The ultimate goal and measure of success is happiness.
“What would you get, if you achieved X, which is even more important to you than X?” Ask yourself this question and discover that you never ask for what you really want—and neither does anybody else. We all ask for what we think is going to give us what we really want. Have you ever bought set of golf clubs hoping they would make you play better? And what would you get, if you played better, which is even more important to you than playing better?
5. Failure is not an option – Succeed beyond success.
Commit fully to achieve what you really want. Know that you deserve it and give it your best. This will make you more likely to get it. Success, however, is not the most important thing. To be a hero, pursue your goal ethically, as an expression of your highest values. Success may give you pleasure, but integrity leads to happiness.
Don't aim at success--the more you aim at it and make it (your final) target, the more you are going to miss it. For true success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself. Listen to what your conscience commands you to do and carry it out to the best of your knowledge." -- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.
Questions for Readers
How is life challenging you to be a hero right now? What values would you have to express to be proud of yourself regardless of the outcome?

Stephen Harper Reads WAKATA

Creating an online service hub that makes it easier and more intuitive for users to determine and access the services that they want is actually a really good idea - one I've discussed before:
That's okay - I'm totally fine with the Prime Minister cribbing my ideas.  A bit of recognition, though, would go a long way towards encouraging other engaged citizens to share their innovative ideas for streamlining service or improving productivity or fostering innovation.
But yeah, there's a chance Harper isn't cribbing from me; he could be cribbing from the US.  Or Australia.
Either way, it just goes to show that innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum - progressive ideas happen through collaboration and sharing.
Of course, the concerns raised in the article above are valid; the Harper government has a history of shrinking public access to information; they've curtailed the Census, they've denied bureaucrats the right to speak, defunded NGOs they don't like, built up cones of silence around Parliamentary activity and are even stifling their Caucus.
Canadians should be very concerned that Harper and co will continue to starve knowledge in their drive to develop The Master Switch.  The trick isn't to get mad and fight against the very idea of improving online service access, though - that would defeat the underlying progressive purpose.  Instead, the goal should be to get creative.
People do have trouble accessing public services in their present format.  They do spend tons of time online.  And they like online stuff that is both informative, fun and rewarding.  Better service presentation would reduce duplication, gaps and overlaps (and related costs) and making engagement rewarding will encourage people to be proactive.
How do you get the public engaged in service reform using modern technology and use a bit of charm offensive to build political traction at the same time?
Smart political operatives will be seeking partners to answer those questions and have a plan in place for the next election

Photo: Heh.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

The Moral Code of Politics


Watch the whole video, but pause at the 12:00 mark and consider the implications.
Helps explain why leading by example is so important, doesn't it? 
       Which politicians set bad examples, then lie about their behaviour?
       Which take responsibility for their actions and set positive examples?
       How do staff respond to this? 
       Puffin poop, Robocalls, @vikileaks... the list goes on and on.
I'd love to see studies done on the increased centralization and resulting dirty tricks of politics and the parallel functioning of both the public service and Private Sector entities that engage with government.  Or the reverse, for that matter. 

Dan Ariely Videos on Cognition and Truth

Because my blog isn't letting me post 'em in the video column.

Why post at all, you might ask?  Never memorize what you can look up.  If it worked for Einstein, who am I to argue?

The Truth About Dishonesty

Are We In Control of Our Decisions?

Our Buggy Moral Code

Dan Ariely Videos I Can't Seem To Post

Deepak Chopra Delves into the Conscious Society

I've taken on the brand "conscious society" because I thought it best represented the end goal - communities of people aware of what informs their choices, meaning they have more control over their choices.  That, and it's a play off of "The Just Society" (I do love my word play).  It doesn't really matter to me whether this term or some other becomes the one that sticks - so long as it isn't Aquarian Conspiracy.
I do enjoy the fact that Deepak Chopra is thinking the same thing, though...

(In this series of posts we're discussing the qualities of leadership using the acronym L-E-A-D-E-R-S. The sixth letter, "R," stands for responsibility.)

Being responsible is the mark of a mature, conscious person - no one disputes this. But success also requires risk-taking, intuitive leaps, innovation, and thinking outside the box. Those values will be quashed if leadership is totally conservative and cautious. You don't have to view "responsible" as synonymous with caution and a policy of no risks. Being responsible, seen in the wider context, means showing initiative, taking mature risks rather than reckless ones, walking the talk, having integrity, and living up to your inner values. Seen from the level of the soul, a leader’s greatest responsibility is to lead the group on the path of higher consciousness.
In practice, there is a hierarchy of steps that you can climb, beginning with a lack of recklessness and rising to the top, where you are responsible for imparting the highest values of your vision. All of us fall somewhere on this path.
You earn your credentials for being a responsible leader through the following behaviors, which are noted and imitated by the rest of the group:
1. You show that actions have consequences.
2. You don't say one thing and do another.
3. You don't shirk the hard choices or delegate them to others so that you are covered no matter what happens.
4. You don't have henchmen who do the dirty work so that your hands look clean.
5. If you back someone up, you establish a bond that they can depend on.
6. You treat people decently, putting everyone on an equal plane.
7. You are cautious with other people's money, taking seriously your fiduciary responsibility.
If you follow these principles, you will succeed on many levels, engendering an atmosphere of trust and loyalty. Working in such an atmosphere, the group will feel secure at a basic level that is very necessary. Insecurity creates massive stress and all the problems that attend it.
But we have to be realistic, too. Today more than ever, it takes consciousness to keep on the responsible track. For many in business, responsibility has become an old-fashioned value to be shrugged off in favor of profitability. The financial crash of 2008 was engineered through a flagrant lack of responsibility, combined with risk-taking far out of bounds with sensible practice. Yet the lesson that the financial sector took away was the opposite of responsible. With record profits and huge bonuses in the offing, they went back to a slightly modified version of their worst practices.
All of this took place within a larger trend of income inequality, the deterioration of worker's benefits, lost pensions, and pressure to show a rising profit to shareholders. If you expect to be a leader, you must decide personally if you are going to follow the trend or hold on to your own values. The ultimate responsibility is the one you owe to yourself.
When I teach executives about the soul of leadership, there's an overall vision I hold out:
Leading from the soul means that you take responsibility for more than the group’s needs. You have a concern for everyone’s person growth. This responsibility begins with your own evolution. In eight areas of your life you have the power to be guided by your soul: thoughts, emotions, perception, personal relationships, social role, environment, speech, and the body. In all of these areas your behavior affects the people you lead. If you evolve, so will they.
To lead from the soul means that evolution is your top priority. You never act in such a way that you lower the self-esteem of others. You examine your underlying beliefs and modify them as new opportunities for growth reveal themselves. Because evolution is an unstoppable force in the universe, you draw upon invisible powers. Therefore, being responsible is no longer a burden. It rests lightly on you as long as you continue to grow.
In my experience, this vision is embraced enthusiastically by top executives. They all know the burden of responsibility and carry it. They are relieved to hear about a path where responsibility isn't a burden. We'll talk more about it in the next post.

Leadership: Do You Have What It Takes?

Courtesy of Youtube/Choprawell

(To be cont.)
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. FINS - Wall Street Journal, stated that “The Soul of Leadership”, as one of five best business books to read for your career. Co-author with Rudolph E. Tanzi, their latest New York Times bestseller, Super Brain: Unleashing The Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony, November 6, 2012) is a new PBS special.

Party Friction : A House Divided

This is a much more complex statement than most political organizers give it credit for. 
How often do unelected senior staff see themselves as the embodiment of a given Party - and therefore, the only voices that matter?  This is not a stance that gets staked out maliciously.  A lot of high-level political staff work their way through the ranks, making personal sacrifices and putting in a lot of blood, sweat and tears in support of the vision their Party represents. 
This brand loyalty is commendable, but in the high-stakes, competitive game that is politics, there's a natural shift that happens between supporting the vision a Party represents and backing the tribe, no matter what.  It's this shift from cause to partisanship that leads people astray.  
When you see yourself as a grizzled Party veteran, you develop a certain sense of entitlement - you've been through the trenches, you know what's best for the Party.  Newbies, be they staff or even Members, don't have your skin in the Party game nor your institutional experience, so it's their job to serve you, in support of the Party, rather than your job to empower them.  Strict control of the team and a go-for-the-throat approach to the opposition is the only way ahead.  
The result is an increasingly tightening fist that ignores, threatens or eliminates opposing perspectives.  Of course, the public has differing perspectives; when you cease to include them in internal conversations, that approach bleeds out to public communications, too, with a shift of focus from informed conversation to message control.  It happens all the time, to all Parties - it's a chief reason why governments (and for that matter, nations) fail.
As is happening now to the Federal Conservatives (and as some of us predicted was coming); internal dissent to this increasingly top-down process and growing frustration with the firewalls that have grown up around government are eating away at the CPC from within and chipping away at those walls from without.
There's another side to this story, though - in a tightly controlled system, many of the staff that work their way up the ladder are able to do so because they affiliate themselves with (or are taken under the wing by) senior staff who groom them to carry on their particular legacy. 
Those who might have differing perspectives or loyalties more to an employer (elected official) or the vision over the brand can be seen as not being team players and be marginalized or even fired, creating disaffection among natural Party advocates.  Yes, actual ability and creativity play a role in this process, but not as much as everyone likes to tell themselves.  If disenfranchised staff manage to stick around - or even if they don't - they can harbour grudges against those senior folk that, from a non-insider perspective, are seen to have hijacked the Party from its roots and its beliefs. 
Leaders come and go; when one leaders goes, the Senior Centre will naturally gravitate towards one who is most reflecting of their way of doing things and under whom they can carry on in the general roles with which they've become comfortable
They may legitimately see differing voices within their own Party as threatening to the establishment they feel they've built and, therefore, the Party itself.  At the same time, those who have been marginalized over the years (and also those who simply want to build something of their own) are going to see the Establishment as the problem and themselves as the solution.
In this way, leadership votes can be less about a particular leader than about the teams that back them and the strategies/communications gambits they have played.  It's not how politics should work, but it often is.  This being the case, backroom operatives that fight tooth-and-nail for a particular candidate/method of operation in which they play a key part may see the Party's choice of a differing candidate as a slap in their own face. 
If they aren't shown the door by the new team, they may just walk off themselves in resentment.
More than a few political operatives should pay heed to the advice of Colin Powell: "Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it."
This is the scenario unfolding right now in Harper's Conservative Party; if he's serious about keeping his coalition of Reformists and Conservatives together, he's going to have to switch up the methodology that got him into power and with which he's governed so far. 
A good model for him (and his potential successors) to look at would be Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.  Wynne faced a similarly polarizing battle with Sandra Pupatello that demonstrated a rift between the establishment and many of the junior staff/Party members.  The Leadership Convention itself was a bit messy, but Wynne and her core team did an amazing job of reaching out to and including the organizers of other candidates, especially Pupatello's. 
Worth noting - what allowed Wynne to pull this off was a steadfast focus not on the Party as a brand, with wagons circled and pistols drawn, but of the vision and virtues the Party is meant to represent.  In her internal actions, her dealings with Opposition Parties, the press and stakeholders, Wynne has kept at it, walking the talk and leading by example
This inspires trust, faith and loyalty, which are the fibres that hold a Party together.  Carrots and sticks simply don't have the lasting power to accomplish this.
Yes, there are differing viewpoints both within the Party and across the province, but Wynne is applying her mediation skills and active listening ability to keep people engaged, making them feel respected.  This allows her the space and time to drill down to points of commonality and build back up from there.
If Team Harper put their vision (though I'm not sure exactly what that is, as their actions are pretty contradictory to their supposed intent) first, they would be able to engage the growing discontent in their own Caucus and across the country the same way.  Take abortion as an example; at the end of the day, pro-life advocates don't want to see young lives penalized for the sins of their fathers/mothers.  Fair enough; what about looking to empower those fathers and mothers to make better choices at the outset? 
Contraception is part of that mix, yes, but not exclusively; education, as for all things, is key.  Sex education, social-emotional learning, respect for difference and self-discipline through initiatives like Positive Psychology and Roots of Empathy.
You can take the focus on abortion and judo-flip it into a mandate to directly tackle stigma, poverty and education challenges.  Why bait and switch when you can convert?
There is always a solution to every problem, but as every problem is complex and interwoven with the very structure of our society, it's important to scale down to the core basics that everyone - even those whose opinions you detest - can agree upon.  From there, you build up and move forward.
Which brings me to my key point - yes, the party that doesn't stick together doesn't win together, but you don't achieve cohesion through strict top-down control; that's invariably a recipe for friction. 
The best leaders don't act like tyrants - they tend to be more like teachers.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Stephen Harper's Moral Authority

Project-Based Entrepreneurialism - The Future of Work?

It's a theory, anyway.

Making a Living, One Project at a Time

Q. You have noticed some high-level professionals leaving permanent jobs — either by choice or by necessity — to work on a project basis for a variety of different companies. Is this something you should consider doing?
A. Because the recession caused many companies to push for leaner management teams and to reduce their head counts, they’ve lost some of the expertise they once had in their ranks. That has made room for the career project professional — a highly experienced professional who works in the short term on specific projects, says Jody Greenstone Miller, founder and C.E.O. of the Business Talent Group, a placement firm in Los Angeles. “These people want control over their time, the kind of work they do and with whom they work,” she says.
Career project professionals are generally experts in their fields, with a demonstrable record of high-level accomplishments, Ms. Miller says.
In such work, it’s important to have the ability — both financially and emotionally — to live from project to project, without the security that comes with permanent employment, says Wyatt A. Nordstrom, chief executive of Maven, an online professional marketplace for project-based consultants. “You may work steadily for six to eight months and then there will be down time,” he says.
Q. In what industries is demand greatest for career project professionals?
A. They are often specialists in a particular area within a certain industry, whether it’s nuclear science or supply chain management. Those with experience in information technology are in especially high demand, says Jonathan Thom, vice president for professional staffing at Express Employment Professionals, a staffing firm based in Oklahoma City. There is also rising demand in accounting and marketing, he says. You might be a finance professional brought in to assist with an internal audit, or a marketing professional asked to manage a corporate re-branding.
Q. How do you get started? Should you register with an agency or a consulting firm that places independent workers?
A. Registering with an agency that lists projects for high-level professionals is one way to find work. But most career project professionals use their own networks. “Ninety percent of the people we work with get their work from those they know,” says Gene Zaino, chief executive of MBO Partners in Herndon, Va., which provides back-office support for independent consultants.
If you’ve allowed your professional network to stagnate, you should rebuild it before trying to get project-based work, Mr. Thom says. “You want to be able to ask those in your network what you might be able to help with,” he says.
Because you must sell your skills continuously, you need confidence — and the ability to articulate clearly to prospective clients what you do and why it’s valuable, Mr. Zaino says.
Q. What can you expect to earn when working on your own?
A. On an hourly basis, project-based work usually pays 50 percent to 100 percent more than what a full-time salaried professional earns, Mr. Nordstrom says. Much depends on the need for your skills in your geographic market, he says. And remember that at some point in the year, you are likely to be between projects and not earning anything.
One downside of project-based work is that you are responsible for finding and paying for your health insurance. That can be costly, especially if you have to insure an entire family.
Mr. Thom says that having a financial safety net will help you feel more secure during downtime. He suggests putting aside three to six months of living expenses before leaving your permanent job. “Of course,” he says, “people do this every day with less in the bank, sometimes not by choice, and they manage.”
Q. What are the challenges in leaving permanent salaried employment for a career in project-based work?
A. Many of those who start working independently don’t really know how to run a business, Mr. Zaino says. “It’s difficult enough to find clients and deliver good service,” he says, “but now you have to navigate taxes, regulatory issues, figure out if you have the right business insurance, how to get invoices out and how to approach clients when payment is overdue.”
You’ll also need a sounding board, so try to find a mentor who has been successful at independent contracting. “Most good companies have mentorship and career advice built in,” he says. “When you’re on your own, you have to build that in yourself.”

Selling and the Power of Why

Always start with "why should I care" - I like that.

Seeking To Sell To CMOs? Answer The Question, 'Why Should I Care?'

Dean Crutchfield
Dean Crutchfield, Contributor
I write about business growth & overcoming obstacles to success.
CMOs are drowning in myriad media channels from direct to social, with a connected public that can slam out opinions about their brand at any time. The CMO’s charge is to build revenue and relevance, but this new normal in marketing brings with it distracting challenges:
  • The explosion of touch points is resulting in a lack of control
  • Standing out is harder as consumers take more charge and push back
  • New, rapid global competition
  • Grappling with social media globally with localized interaction
  • Clarity on roles and responsibilities with the internal focus on business issues
  • Demonstrating the value of procurement, brands and current marketing
CMOs buy ideas to make a gain or avoid a loss. To stand out, a business seeking to sell products and services to a CMO needs to deliver its best case for solving a huge problem for the CMO by answering, “Why should I care?” The key is to make the CMO relevant by piloting the proposed solution with their funded initiatives and demonstrably reveal more value to their business faster. By connecting the CMO to revenue, convincingly showing her what problem you solve and how the investment will move the needle north, an invitation to answer their tough questions will be forthcoming:
  • How will you help me demonstrate a strong ROI on integrated marketing?
  • Does our ‘story’ and content strategy enhance the customer experience?
  • When can we better optimize the purchase pathway and our customer data?
  • Where can we get the biggest bang with our social and earned media?
  • Are you able to help me balance creative with analytics?
  • Can I trust you with my business and marketing strategies?
IBM’s recent repositioning targeting the CMO demonstrates how big investments in technology are rapidly becoming the realm of the CMO. The old ‘sales funnel’ model where consumers hold a large number of brand options and narrow our choices to an eventual decision aided by advertising has been destroyed. The customer’s purchase pathway is totally different, and repetition of old marketing strategies has caused the ouster of many a CMO, as has launching brand campaigns bereft of any notion of what the empirical measurement is for effective.
Therefore, what makes the offer different that can deliver ROI? CMOs admire it when there is adherence to their current strategy and how the proposition moves it forward. Ideas might be the currency of marketing, but to sell them without tying them to organizational goals will lose the CMO no matter if it’s technology or marketing. Pitching tons of ideas that are disconnected to their strategy is akin to saying one has no ideas at all: Strategy is more about what you’re not going to do and how that connects to the business goals of their organization.
To get inside the CMO’s head, think like an investor who has one thing on his mind: ROI. For CMOs, their
Business Model Triangle
investment is the time, energy and resources they place in the hands of their ‘partner’ firms and their ideas. To win over the CMO, the idea needs to generate and show a return, provide data and enable you to ask how you can help them. Rarely are CMOs actually offered this.
Anecdotal success measurement, however, can quickly turn off a CMO – marketing is not all about telling a great story – it’s about telling a story that moves the needle: If you don’t know how to measure it, resist the temptation. CMOs pilot new ideas constantly, but they need a valid and relevant way to measure the success of those ideas. CMOs generally do not desire to replicate the competition they demand you to know their customer. It’s easy searching what other people are up to, but the secret sauce is knowing the right questions, the ones that lead to unearthing the pain points, and needs of their organization and customers, and then tailoring targeted solutions.
More than ever CMOs are vested in making the quarter and are primarily interested in the business outcomes of using services. Consequently sales discussions must focus on business drivers. Products, services and solutions must be linked to business benefits using the metrics the CMO cares about: footfall, ARPU, retention, online conversion, customer-acquisition cost, lead-generation efficiency. To answer “Why should I care?” connect the offer directly to revenue and specifically show the CMO how the product will enhance brand value – demonstrably and empirically – to the CEO who demands shareholder value.