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Doing more; Doing more of the same; Doing just a little different

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I always read Seth Godin’s blog.  They entries and short, direct, to the point, and always give me something to think about.

Here is a recent posting

“I’m making money, why do more?”

Because more than you need to makes it personal.
Because work that belongs to you, by choice, is the first step to making art.
Because the choice to do more brings passion to your life and it makes you more alive.
Because if you don’t, someone else will, and in an ever more competitive world, doing less means losing.
Because you care.
Because we’re watching.
Because you can.

There is a difference between doing more and doing different.

Sometimes, doing more of the same is your biggest liability – whether its your personal life, a for-profit company, a non-profit organization, or a government agency.

I always encounter people in organizations that are intent on “doing more”.  This is their biggest mistake.  They do more of same expecting to get promoted.  The only thing “doing more” (of the same) in non-strategic job roles is going to get them is “more of the same” since few managers will promote someone who excels at being  “a workhorse”.

Doing more (of the same) didn’t keep most traditional booksellers from going out of business.  Amazon did it different.  Different beat more of the same.

For non-profits, doing more of the same when the social, economic, technological, cultural and other external realities are shifting under your feet is going to send you on a trajectory of irrelevancy.  Traditional organizations like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the ARRL faces this challenge.  Do more of the same when the external context has radically changed –  or do different?

NASA essentially accomplished its biggest goal in 1969 by landing a man on the moon and returning safely back to earth.  What happens when you do it 6 more times?  Doing more of the same triggered some scrutiny by Congress with a report saying they needed a viable strategic plan, not to do more of the same, but to do more of something different – something that can engage the national vsion.  How about the US Post Office.  They would like to do more of the same (delivering physical postal mail) but seemingly most of the public doesn’t need more of the same.  Customers do different and the Post Office is now in decline because they are not doing different – what customers really need, want, and are willing to pay for.

The Take

Do more?  Ok.  But sometimes, doing more of the same is really doing less.

Doing a little different may grant you the privilege to do more of the same…  Then the chance to do different again…  and the process repeats.

Read more

Doing more of the same.  From one of the few books on the social history of amateur Radio “Why end this book as of the year 1950?  It is because the story of ham radio’s development essentially takes place in the first fifty years of the twentieth century.  Having been created, accepted, regulated, and achieved permanent status by 1950, the story after that becomes one primarily of repetition.”    Read the posting – ARRL: Does the ARRL need a Strategic Plan?

NASA – more of the same. From the office of the Inspector General ” These problems are not primarily of NASA’s doing, but the agency could craft a better response to the uncertainty, for example, by developing a strategic plan that includes clear priorities and a transparent budget allocation process. A better response would improve NASA’s ability to navigate future obstacles and uncertainties. An effective agency response is vital, because at a time when the strategic importance of space is rising and the capabilities of other spacefaring nations are increasing, U.S. leadership is faltering….”   NASA: What to do after mission accomplished

More of the same.. missing it allOf Telegraphs, Telephones, Radios, and Organizational Momentum

Why?  Group ThinkThe C-word: Consensus

Doing a little differentStupid Survives until smart succeeds

Written by frrl

March 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Who NOT to invite to your brainstorming sessions

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I caught this posting by Seth Godin

The cost of neutral

If you come to my brainstorming meeting and say nothing, it would have been better if you hadn’t come at all.

If you go to work and do what you’re told, you’re not being negative, certainly, but the lack of initiative you demonstrate (which, alas, you were trained not to demonstrate) costs us all, because you’re using a slot that could have been filled by someone who would have added more value.

It’s tempting to sit quietly, take notes and comply, rationalizing that at least you’re not doing anything negative. But the opportunity cost your newly lean, highly leveraged organization faces is significant.

Not adding value is the same as taking it away.

Pick carefully those people you invite to your brainstorming session.

Sometimes people are picked for brainstorming because they have certain domain knowledge but the selection process forgets some crucial elements.

  1. Those people who want to “go along to get along”.
  2. Those people who are in a domain that is not exactly “social”.
  3. Those people who are not generally familiar with paradigm shifts.

The purpose of brainstorming is to come up with new ideas and be creative.  At its best, a brainstorming session with different perspective can allow a group of people to “see around corners” in a way that is not possible with a team of solitary disconnected individuals – no matter how smart or extensive their domain knowledge.  They key is to build upon other people’s ideas in an open way.

So, people who want to “go along to get along” ( consensus thinkers – read) don’t make good brainstorming group members.  Those who lack social skills may miss important social cues during a session and perturb the social dynamic that is so important to brainstorming.  Finally, as Seth points out, there are many people, who are excellent in delivering their domain knowledge in an operational setting but generally are not the authors of paradigm shifts.  For this last group of folks  delivering consistency and the status quo are as fundamental to them as water is to fish – that is, an unnoticed environment in which they live.  Delivering the status quo is the exact opposite of the purpose of brainstorming.

If your brainstorming session is not producing the results you expect then maybe the problem is not the process – but the people you have selected.

Written by frrl

January 14, 2013 at 4:16 am

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The C-word: Consensus

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How many times have you heard the C-word – you know, Consensus?

In a corporate environment you hear that this or that team or committee will meet to reach a consensus on this or that topic or decision. Is consensus-building always a good paradigm for decision-making?

I remember a quote by Margret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the UK…

Consensus is the absence of leadership

What is the case against consensus decision-making?

The case goes like this… If teams are assembled to plan initiatives, agree on direction, and agree on the means of achieving goals they will act together to take the hill.  But perhaps, maybe, the opposite occurs.

Once a corporate culture rewards consensus building then the majority of people in the company or on a team recognize that the straightest path to success in that organization is to conform to prevailing views or conventional wisdom as opposed to challenging them.  And the prevailing views may be those foisted on the team or company by the obsolete  icons of the past, the loudest people in the room, the team bully, or the worst case the cadre of corporate sociopaths ( read about the 1 in 25 here)

Does it does matter who is right? Or has the truth or can demonstrate its veracity?  Do you just “agree with the majority” – even though you disagree – just to “get along” and conform to the corporate policy of “consensus decision-making”?

Anyone who has seen the classic movie “Twelve Angry Men” from 1957 knows what I mean

In that movie,

12 Angry Men explores many techniques of consensus-building, and the difficulties encountered in the process, among a group of men whose range of personalities adds intensity and conflict… The jury of 12 retires to the jury room, where they spend a short while getting acquainted before they are called to order. It is immediately apparent that they have already found the defendant guilty and intend to return their verdict to the court without taking time for discussion–with the sole exception of Juror number 8 (Henry Fonda). His is the only “not guilty” in a preliminary vote.

The jurors get to the jury room, its hot and muggy, and they all have other things to do later that day. The initial consensus is that the guy is guilty.  They vote and there is one hold out of “not guilty” – that’s juror number 8 – played by Henry Fonda.  As the movie progresses, Juror number 8 fights the consensus of the other 11 jurors and eventually wins them over through careful analysis and challenges to already held beliefs about the situation of the case.

Consensus Decision-making is really a pact

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

August 2, 2011 at 4:35 am

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