Showing posts with label Results. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Results. Show all posts

May 4, 2019

Getting The Biggest Bang For The Buck

So I had the opportunity to sit in on a colleague teaching a class in Performance Improvement. 

One tool that I really liked from the class was the Impact-Effort Matrix. 

To determine project worth doing, the matrix has the:

Impacts (Vertical) - Improved customer satisfaction, quality, delivery time, etc.

Effort (Horizontal) - Money, Time, etc. 

The best bang for the buck are the projects in upper left ("Quick Wins") that have a high impact or return for not a lot of effort. 

In contract, the projects that are the least desirable are in the lower right ("Thankless Tasks") that have a low impact or return but come at a high cost or lot of effort. 

This is simple to do and understand and yet really helps to prioritize projects and find the best choices among them. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 24, 2019

Project Suicide

This was sort of a funny scene in a project meeting. 

One person describing the challenges at one point, spontaneously and dramatically motions to take a knife and slit both wrists.

This absolutely got people's attention.

Understanding the struggles the person was expressing, and trying to add a little lightheartedness to the situation, I say:

"This is a tough project, pass around the knife."

This got a good hearty laugh around the table, with one person saying that this was the quote of the day. 

Anyway, we want to make operations as effortless as possible on people, but the project work to get there is definitely making people work for it. 

Let's avoid project or people suicide--be supportive of each other, pace ourselves, team together, and problem-solve to get it successfully over the finish line.

Soon we can celebrate all the challenges we overcame together and from our determined efforts, all the wonderful results. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 10, 2019

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 

The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one's country. 

Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 

While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 

Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 

But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:

- From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  

- With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 

- Just recently, we've seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 

- We have also seen many years of pay freezes--with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!

- The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 

- Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 

- There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 

- Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of "conduct" issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.

- The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 

While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 

For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 

Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country--from the front lines to the back offices--we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 18, 2019

Struggling With Some Decisions

So I've been helping some family members with some really big decisions lately. 

As we all know, there are pros and cons to every alternative. 

I remember how you can diagram decisions out like the branches of a tree with probabilities for each branch to try and get to the highest value decision. 

The problem is we don't know everything that may happen down the road or even know the probabilities for each possibility--or as they say:
We don't know what we don't know.  

So it's hard to make a great decision and not second guess yourself.
Well, what if...

You can "what if" yourself to sleepless nights and death and never decide or do anything meaningful. 

We have to make the best decisions we can usually with limited information. 

Using gut or intuition is not a solution either--those can end up being very wrong especially when we let our raw emotions dictate. 

So I do not take decision-making for myself or helping others lightly, especially my family. 

I want to protect them and help them make good decisions that will bear fruit and joy down the road. 

I definitely don't want to waste everyones time and efforts and lead them or myself down a dead end or worse off of a cliff.

In the end, we have to turn to G-d and whisper:
Oh G-d, please help us to make the right decisions, because only you know what the results will be from it. 

And so, I am definitely whispering!

At the same time, we need to move forward and not let fear and doubt get in our way of living. 

Yes, we have to be prudent and take calculated risks (everything worthwhile is a risk), but also, we have to look at the potential rewards and the costs for these (every decision is an investment of time and resources) and then just try our best. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 30, 2018

Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.

As they say;
If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 

However, planning is subject to life--and life happens!

One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan's Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 28, 2018

Chief Critic

So we all know these type of people that love to criticize and bully.  

They are the critics in chief. 

You have to wonder what their own value-add is.

While other people are doing the work, the chief critic is saying everything is terrible, horrible, tragic, almost the end of the universe as we all know it. 

Yes, there is nothing wrong with well-intentioned and constructive criticism, especially by a supervisor or people sincerely trying to help.

But then there are just those who just look to find something--anything--to fault others, almost as if they are bigger if others are smaller!

This is no good. 

That is no good. 

I would do it this way. 

You need to do it that way. 

It's almost like a hobby, but it comes with plenty of nastygrams and miserable monologues. 

If only you would do X!

How come you didn't do Y?

Next time make sure you do Z!!!

OMG, yes we are not perfect angels, but most of us try to work smart, do good, contribute, and get positive results!

Even failure is acceptable if everyone gave it their best effort and it leads to learning and growth. 

Maybe the people on the sidelines who are yelling at the players need to get off the bench and actually worry about what they need to be doing, and doing it, instead of criticizing those in the trenches. 

Teamwork means we succeed or fail together!

Non-attribution is about not getting personal and blaming others, especially when they are working their butts off. 

Rather, roll up your sleeves everyone and get in the trenches and start pulling your own weight instead of putting down and making fun of the others. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 22, 2018

Worth The Squeeze

I like this saying that I heard.
"The juice has to be worth the squeeze."

It's a little like the corollary to "If something is worth doing, then it's worth doing right."

Spending time and effort has to show commensurate meaningful results or why the heck are you doing it?

Probably always good to reevaluate where you're getting the "most bang for the buck," so you're not "just spinning your wheels."

With all the sayings about what we do and whether it's really worth it, there is probably some good reason to be concerned about whether or not you spending your time productively or just acting insane, because: 
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Results matter--so make sure your achieving them or go do something else you enjoy and that's ultimately worth the squeeze! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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January 19, 2018

The View From Upfront and Behind

Thought this was a smart saying from a colleague:
"If you ain't the lead dog, the view doesn't change."

What the dogs upfront and those behind them see are quite a different view. 

It's important for the lead dogs to guide the other dogs in a good direction and stay clear from obstacles. 

We may not all see the same thing, but whatever our viewpoints are, we all have to work together and pull our hardest towards progress. 

It's a race to the finish--and finish strong and together we all must. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Natalia Kollegova)

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December 13, 2017

Anything Is Possible

So you're all aware of the 3 legs of project management:

- Cost

- Schedule

- Scope

I remember learning the adage that if you change any one of these then there is an impact on the others. 

For example, if you "crash" the timeline on a project to finish more quickly, then you either need more money or you need to reduce the scope. 

Similarly, if you want to cut costs on the project then you may have to extend the timeline or scale back on the requirements. 

Recently, I heard someone says the following:
"We can do anything with enough time and resources."

And when I thought about this, it's true enough.

If you provide more money and time for a project then, of course, you can do more in terms of the scope of the project.

Pour enough bucks and time into something and conceptually, we really can do anything. 

Technically, we can do the proverbial "anything," but that's only if the politics and infighting don't get in the way of progress. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 27, 2017

A Mountain Of Data

So I heard this interesting perspective on information and data analytics...

Basically, it comes down to this: 
"Most organizations are data rich, but information/insight poor."

Or put another way:
"Data is collected, but not used."

Hence we don't know what we don't know and we end up making bad decisions based on poor information. 

Just imagine if we could actually make sense of all the data points, connect them, visualize them, and get good information from them.

How much better than a pile of rocks is that? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 19, 2017

Customer Service NO-NOs

So if you're in customer service...

The answer is easy. 

It's always got to be YES. 

- Any less is a big No-No!

The customer's needs are paramount.

Their satisfaction is your goal. 

So your job is to figure out how to get from no to yes!

You've got to problem-solve and figure it out. 

And it's not enough to come up with any old solution.

When I said to my colleagues the other day:
"There's a solution to every problem."

Someone joked and answered back:
"It's just that the customer may not like it."

And I responded:
"Well then that's not the solution you are looking for!"

You've got to go back to the drawing board and get to a legitimate yes. 

Of course, it can difficult, especially when at times you deal with some challenging customers and problems.

But listen, this is the customer service field and in the end, the customer experience should be WOW fantastic!

It's the customer that is depending on you to come through for them and their mission. 

Doing your job isn't just a matter of reading off of some cue card or playbook. 

This is real life with real consequences. 

If you can deliver, the customer will be able to do their jobs, and they may even sing your wildest praises--wouldn't that be rewarding? 

Customer service means getting to YES from the earliest possible moment in the interaction, meaning it, and legitimately delivering on it--no other questions asked.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 15, 2017

Management Is A Privilege

So some people have this notion about management that is all wrong. 

- Management is not a right or entitlement.

- Management is a wonderful privilege!

The privilege comes with responsibility and is earned by knowing how to manage and treat your people right.

That means:

- Acting with integrity

- Treating people fairly, with dignity, and respect

- Showing you value them

- Helping to develop them

- And of course, achieving results together!

I heard it said well like this:
"If you don't treat people well 
you won't be a manager for long."
Again, it's a privilege, not a right, to manage and lead others. 

Those who abuse their privilege and people--it's like the cycle of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 15, 2017

If This Then That (IFTTT), A Futurists Blessing

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a simple, but absolutely fundamental programming principle.

It is also the basis for futurist-thinking such as war-gaming and strategic planning.  For example, if North Korea put's a nuke on the launch pad with the targeting at the U.S., then we will do kaboom!

IFTTT is also an app and is used in algorithms such as with Twitter, so when Trump or other famous and powerful people say something on the global social media stage, Wall Street's high-speed, high-frequency trading desks are at the front of the line to respond to market-moving news.

So powerful is IFTTT, you could almost predict the election results from it (the outrageously biased media may want to open their tarnished rose-colored glasses and try it).  For example, if you take for granted, forget or neglect working class America, then the great "blue wall" tumbles. 

IFTTT also works in politics of all sorts. If you abandon friends and allies and embrace terrorist enemies, then the world order is turned on it's head and the Middle East and beyond burns and rages in turmoil. Similarly, if you are biased between people, races, and political parties, then you polarize the country and create divisiveness and hate and obstruct even the possibility of virtually any progress. 

So you really don't have to have a crystal ball to see the writing on the wall for the results of profoundly good moves and the display of stupidity galore. 

One final IFTTT before the major transition of power this week: if you talk big, but don't really deliver results (or you deliver lots of bad stuff), then you get seen for being all poetry and no prose, and your legacy goes bye bye. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 22, 2016

Hope vs. Change

So we were promised hope and change, but what's the difference?

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal says, "Hope is the helium -filled ballon of politics. Governing in office is the gravity that pulls it back down to earth."

Many politicians are giving the false impression that "giving people the rhetoric of hope, lifting them with words, is more important than delivering results, which some might call change."

Despair is when we are told that there is hope and promise, but we don't get meaningful, impactful, and lasting positive change.

The hard work of leadership is not just providing a beautiful Garden of Eden vision for people to salivate over and to get their votes, but rather it is making something REAL happen that makes people's lives and the world better. 

As they say is plain english, "Words are cheap!"

We don't need any more fancy oratory skills--Hitler had those too and it led to the murderous genocidal Holocaust and disaster of World War II. 

Time for some elbow grease and some results that aren't fake like the news we've been getting. 

We've heard too many lies, too much spin, and been subjected to language control of the "media echo chamber."

Just one prominent example has been regarding terrorism and radical Islam which is not and never has been "workplace violence" and traffic accidents. 

Who is the President of the U.S. fooling when he says that theres been "no foreign-planned terror attacks in 8 years."

Gee, ISIS and their numerous terror supporters seem to violently disagree about the many terrorist attacks we indeed did have on U.S. soil in the last 8-years, including Orlando, Garland, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, MinnesotaOhio University, and many more.  

It's time that we stop being fed a bunch of false hope and political malarkey and instead we get some genuine change, improvement, and progress in our lives and the nation. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 13, 2016

Balancing Change and Stability

So new leaders frequently want to come into town like a knight in shining armor riding speedily on their white stallions to "save the day." 

Being new and needing to prove themselves, change and quick results are the imperative.

The problem is that fast, quick wins can be mistakenly and superficially achieved while sacrificing longer-term organization success.  

We push people to hard, too fast, and without the underlying care and emotional feeding to duly support the rainbow in the sky changes being sought. 

People are human beings that need to be brought along in a unified manner and with a solid infrastructure and not plowed over for the sake of some short-term gains.

You can push for change so hard--you can crack the whip and you can demand what you want when you want--but rest-assured that you are leaving a great pile of destruction in your wake. 

Performance results are built by maintaining a sane balance between change and stability--pushing others to do more with less has to be replaced instead with getting out front yourself and pulling the organizational weight at a measured pace so that workers aren't trampled by the raw, unbridled ambition of the leadership. 

You may have a great scorecard of accomplishments, but they may be the tip of what is otherwise an iceberg of discontent and disaster beneath. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2016

Beautiful Rise and Fall

Just wanted to share this beautiful Fall scene in Maryland.

While we are about to embark on a major infrastructure spending spree to make this country great again--and we need it to fix all the rot in our roads, bridges, trains, airports, marine ports, schools, utilities, and more--at the same time, we need to keep in mind the safeguarding of the beauty of our natural outdoor spaces and resources.

I heard President-elect Trump on 60 Minutes last night speak about the $6 trillion that we have spent in the Middle East fighting terrorism since 9/11, and that with that money, we could've rebuilt our infrastructure twice over.

While the amount is seen on the high end, the point is that while other nations are investing in their infrastructure, people, and future, we are wasting large sums of blood and treasure in a fight that in over 15 years, we haven't won, and many question whether we are significantly even any safer.

We need to fight smarter, spend more strategically, and take care of America first.

BTW, what did we get from the prior investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus spending of $831 billion in 2009...where did all that money go (uh, down the special interest drain)?

While the beautiful outdoors needs to stay pristine, our country needs to seriously rebuild with clear project expectations and results and at the same time wipe out the terror threats against us--no more dabbling, PC, Mr. Nice Guy (of course, we need to be nice to those that are nice to us, but also we need to fight for this country like we mean it)!

That's a big agenda, but for under $6 trillion, we ought to be able to get some decent return on our investment please, ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2016

14 Lessons Learned from the Political Process

So here are some things that I learned from this awful, drawn out election:

1) Keep it positive - Negativity, divisiveness, and hate hurt you more than it does anyone else.

2) Don't play the *ism card - Using racism, religion, gender, and sexual orientation to divide people and get what you want from them is dirty politics and empty promises for votes; stick to the facts and the issues. 

3) Focus on service to others - "Public service" is about service to others, not self service; it is more important to give than to receive any of the fame, fortune, and favors. 

4) No one is above the law - Corruption, collusion, and cover-ups are a boomerang that eventually come back to hit you in the proverbial head.


5) Action speaks louder than words -- What you actually did, accomplished, and how you behaved is the much louder message than what you say you did or claim you will do. 

6) People are not sheep - Regardless of how strong and biased a position the media and others take, hammering and hammering away, in the end people are not sheep and can and do think for themselves. 

7) Polls, statistics, position papers, conventions, and debates - There are many tools for manipulating the masses and they, like the people who prepare and administer them, have biases and lie. 

8) Branding yourself and others - Creating an image for yourself and others by weaving a tall tale narrative only goes so far unless the words and deeds are consistent and ring truth. 

9) Speak from the heart - Preparation and practice make perfect, but a perfect what?  Prepared lines and zingers are great sound bites, but speaking from the heart goes to the heart. 

10) Moral high ground - Just saying you are taking the moral high ground does not make it so; you actually have to have integrity to stand that ground. 

11) The political machine - Politics and the money and operatives behind it, are very strong and dangerous, and those that wield it can and will do anything to gain and stay in the much coveted positions of power. 

12) Don't think you're so deserving - Be humble and compassionate on others, instead of believing you are so great and the world owes it to; the more you run after something, the more it tends to elude you.

13) Listen to your gut - There are great orators, writers and influencers out there, but you've got to listen more to your gut and moral compass than to anyone else trying to bend your mind and will. 

14) Star power - Bringing out the big gun superstars to speak, sing, and endorse you is some nice added glitz, but the real superpower is the one Almighty who ultimately decides who wins and loses. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 31, 2016

Driving Your Organization Off A Cliff

So life is generally supposed to be a series a peaks and valleys. 

There are highs, but also lows.  

No one and nothing can perform at peak all the time. 

Like the commandment to keep the Shabbat, everyone needs a rest. 

And studies have shown that getting a healthy dose of sleep, pause, and rest in life is healthy.

When we force ourselves or others to perform past their "designed" limits, then we risk a breakdown. 

Machines break and people can break. 

The risks are either explosion or implosion: some people can frighteningly "go postal" and others end up on psychiatric medication or even sick and in the hospital. 

What is key to remember is that you can push the limits of performance so far, but then no further without a healthy, recuperative rest period and down time. 

If you want to raise the bar on yourself, others, or your organization, you need to do it strategically so there is a surge forward and then a normative recovery and energy buildup again. 

As we all know, life is a marathon and not a sprint, and the journey is as important as the destination. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Alan Levine)
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August 24, 2016

Crazy World Of Work

This was a funny sign. 

"You don't have to be crazy to work here.
We'll train you."

Isn't that the truth too often. 

Work can frequently be like "Crazy World!" 

This is a place where there is a convergence of dysfunctional organizational culture, poor leadership, a lack of solid processes and sound planning, and plenty of wacky naysayers and obstructionists who together can bring the workplace to a virtual standstill or even a bitter downfall. 

Yeah, we will train you to do what?

- Follow some dusty and archaic, nonsensical policies that haven't been updated in 20 years.

- Force you into a mold of robotic groupthinkers who have abandoned any notion of exploration, discovery, innovation, and constructive change. 

- Do the minimum to get their paychecks, while staying off the grid and out of trouble, rather than satisfy in serving the mission and delighting their customers. 

This is perhaps why leaders frequently tout their credentials in transforming organizations, yet we still see endless legacies mired in status quo and a lack of any real results and progress. 

Lots of people talk the talk, but very few walk the walk, and that's because we've trained them so well to work here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 10, 2016

Superman Leadership

This guy's socks were very cool.

If you can say that socks make the man then perhaps this is it.

Superman that is!

No special shirt, underwear, or cape required--the socks communicate it all. 

For the man of steel or one in the making (if worn at workout time).  

Then again, I was trying to imagine someone actually having the guts or nuttiness to wear these to the office.  

If they would, it probably be with the following in mind: 

I can do anything helpful to get the job done--

1) Rolling out cutting-edge systems and business process improvements faster than a speeding bullet

2) Creating positive change more powerful than a locomotive

3) Able to leap with integrity over organizational obstacles, red tape, and naysayers in a single bound

It's a change consultant. It's a corner office bureaucrat.  It's a "superleader!"

Up up and away...it can be done (even without the socks). ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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