|Mount Denali Alaska |
(C) USA Today
01 September 2021
01 August 2021
"Self-control is strength; right thought is mastery, and calmness is power.
Peter Drucker, the famed management consultant, and author took the month of August each year to review his life and profession. Why not December? Most likely he found the end of the year to be too busy and too late. A crowded holiday season doesn't lend itself to contemplation.
So consider making the dog days of summer (in my hemisphere) a time for intentional reflection and renewal as we look at managing oneself--first.
Crises are revealing
Looking back over the past 18 months what have you learned about yourself? What have the different types of crises, social and economic, revealed about you? And how are you transitioning from crisis mode to focusing on the future?
Perhaps now is the moment to look deeper into your life and habits to see what should stay the same, be strengthened, or removed.
One way to improve your personal and professional life is to consider desired outcomes for yourself and the organization. Then determine where to allocate hours, days, and weeks to achieve those ends.
Positive influence over the behavior of others comes from knowing where time should be spent, its purpose, and with whom. That's the first step in managing yourself.
Here are questions for you and others to think about:
-Internally, where does leadership have the most influence? The least influence?
-In which area are you spending most of your time now? With what result?
-How do self-knowledge, self-awareness, and self-discipline contribute to being different?
Observations on human behavior
1. It's difficult if not impossible to manage or influence others without the ability to control yourself. Proverbial wisdom says that a person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.
2. By temperament or wiring, a few have a head start with a disposition toward making themselves work. They behave in a particular way without anyone telling them what to do. These individuals are more settled, more mature at an earlier stage of life.
3. In developing the right behaviors some need more time than others. Or the right experiences. Interpreting those moments is often a delayed process. A trusted friend or mentor can play a pivotal role in helping us get to where we need to be.
But rewiring our brains is also a possibility. A lot has to do with how you think of yourself, and less about the circumstances into which you were born.
4. Knowing who you are, what you believe, what you stand for, is absolutely essential for moral leadership.
5. Time is the most important non-renewable resource we have. Where to spend it?
Too much time on the least controllable areas and not enough time on the more controllable areas hinders executive performance. And those misplaced priorities give permission for associates to do the same.
If your time allocation is out of balance, how to reset the leadership clock?
What gets your attention
The world entangles the mind. Technology scatters the mind. Pandemics and politics confuse the mind.
|What are you thinking? (C)|
Leaders tend to be confronted by too many distractions. Employees and customers are in the same predicament. Digital is a culprit, but not the only one.
On average our minds wander almost 50% of the time. That includes thinking about things that are not going on directly around us, contemplating events that happened in the past, that might happen in the future or will never happen at all. This analysis comes from Ness Labs.
There's good to be gained from intentional mind-wandering. Your brain needs that type of exercise, according to the research. However, wandering too much and too afar comes with an emotional cost, their report concludes.
Shifting gears, how do you get your brain to concentrate on what matters?
To improve focus, Ness Labs recommend the following--
- Manage your distractions. Put the phone away--although you may work better with background noise or music.
- Monitor your mind. To wherever you drift, learn to return to the task at hand. It's not about never losing your focus--which would be unrealistic--but about monitoring your attention.
- Strengthen your brain's circuitry. Focus on your breath. The reality of losing focus and bringing your focus back to breath improves concentration.
If grit keeps you going, and resilience picks you up, self-renewal helps you stay energized. And it's ironically easiest when you're working for something greater than self.
© Bredholt & Co.
01 July 2021
"Sometimes problems don't require a solution to solve them; instead they require maturity to outgrow them."
--Dr. Steve Maraboli
In 2006 at a conference in New York, hearing best-selling author Patrick Lencioni reminded me of a professor filled with inexhaustible things to say but wisely limiting his thoughts to a far-reaching few. Those who follow Mr. Lencioni know that he teaches using--fables.
Trained as a writer, the former Bain & Co. consultant discovered that telling a story is an effective way to provide relational insights to clients. The main theme: "Organizational health is the single greatest competitive advantage in any business," says Pat Lencioni.
New season-old habits
Covid-19 may have pushed unhealthy behaviors off to the side, making way for survival. However, inconsistent and detrimental practices are never far away.
Coming out of a global pandemic, and a return to work transition, this may be a good time to revisit the main points in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," a book of fables that sold over three million copies.
|Brand 1123RF (C)|
Think about each dysfunction in the context of a year's long physical separation; working from home; millennials as the majority of the workforce; and a significantly changed office environment for those who return.
Here they are:
1. Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group.
2. Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate.
3. Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization.
4. Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers and superiors on counterproductive behavior that sets low standards.
5. Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status, and ego before team success.
Consider the following
-What, if any, of these dysfunctions existed in your enterprise before the lockdown? How were they being addressed?
-Are there any abnormal functionings within your leadership teams currently? What are they?
-How does interpersonal behavior affect the execution of corporate strategy?
-As the economy resumes, and safety improves, is face-to-face a better way to deal with these problems?
Exhausting but necessary
Building cooperation throughout a company, but especially at the top, is a never-ending task. An effort like this requires time and emotional energy.
Holding any group mutually accountable (including leadership) is even harder when self-importance supersedes organizational purpose.
This difficult undertaking may explain, at least in part, why for nearly 20 years "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" remains a best-selling book.
Source: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, 2002 (Jossey-Bass).
© Bredholt & Co.
01 June 2021
1. Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever,
by Alex Kantrowitz
2. Billion-Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy, by Lawrence Ingrassia
3. Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments,
by Stefan H. Thomke
4. Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution, by Robert Chesnut
5. Lead From the Future: How to Turn Visionary Thinking Into Breakthrough Growth, by Mark W. Johnson and Josh Suskewicz
6. No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, by Sarah Frier
7. No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
8. When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America's Obsession with Economic Efficiency, by Roger L. Martin
9. Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber,
by Susan Fowler
10. A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond, by Daniel Susskind
01 May 2021
"Ships are safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
-John A. Shedd
An ultra-large Golden class container ship, Ever Given, became stuck in the Suez Canal on 23 March 2021 at 05:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The ship, operated by Evergreen Marine, was en route from Malaysia to the Netherlands when it ran aground after winds allegedly blew the ship off course. An investigation by Egyptian authorities, who own and operate the canal, is underway.
|Ever Given container ship, stuck in the Suez Canal. |
(C) University of Miami
The Ever Given, a ship as long as the Empire State Building is tall, completely blocked the canal for six days. After being freed and refloated on 29 March, the Ever Given made way for a backlog of over 400 ships to pass through the canal.
However, with a seizure of the Ever Given by Egyptian authorities and a pending $1 billion fine, the ship isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Time is money
Where is the Suez Canal?
The canal cuts through Egypt, linking the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Red Sea in the south. It's one of the world's best-known and most important waterways. Nearly 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year carrying 1.2 billion tons of cargo. Around 13% of maritime trade passes through the Suez Canal, including a large proportion of the world's oil. (Suez Canal Authority; The Wall Street Journal)
|The Suez Canal.|
01 April 2021
"Nor yet be overeager in pursuit of any thing; for the mercurial often happen to leave judgment behind them, and sometimes make work for repentance."
In a recent survey of over 1,000 executives, more than half--in different industries--said their roles had changed due to the pandemic. Some 30 percent said their jobs have changed permanently according to Chicago-based WittKieffer who sponsored the research.
The study raises this implication--many leaders are being asked to do work they weren't previously trained or prepared to do. "While some are excelling in a new environment, other executives are struggling to find their place during the pandemic," the report stated.
© Bredholt & Co.
01 March 2021
"All endeavour calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil."
--Henry David Thoreau
The term "last mile" or "kilometer," metaphorically speaking, is a familiar one for those in the cable television industry or supply chain management. For cable, it's all about getting service to the end-user.
Supply chains are set up to move goods from transportation hubs to final destinations (e.g., UPS, FedEx, Amazon).
The big jab
More recently the last mile concept is being applied to getting Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and now Johnson & Johnson manufacturing plants into arms. AstraZeneca is approved in the European Union, UK, and other countries but not the U.S.
|Moderna vaccine. (C) ABC News|
As of this posting, more than 245 million doses have been administered across 107 countries. The latest rate is 6.79 million doses per day. In the U.S. more Americans have now received at least one dose than having tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. According to the Bloomberg Tracking site, 76.9 million doses have been given. In the last week, an average of 1.82 million doses per day were administered.
In terms of government agencies, the four stages of the vaccine process are authorization; prioritization; allocation; and distribution. After much trial and error, the last mile of the vaccine strategy, vaccination, is catching up with the first mile.
"Complexity is the enemy of speed," someone said. However, obstacles such as accessibility to the shots, are being unraveled with real-time experience.
Because the learning is in the doing, even tackling variants to the original coronavirus.
Every day health care officials, along with private enterprises and volunteers, are figuring out how to turn this unparalleled collaborative venture into a workable solution. There's a long way to go but progress, not success, is the better measuring stick.
The last part of the last mile, jabs in arms, is up to the individual who has the final say in this emergency supply chain. Keep that in mind the next time your organization launches anything.
Landing on Mars
NASA successfully landed its fifth robotic rover on Mars, Thursday, 18 February 2021. Perseverance touched down at 3:55 p.m. ET.
Launched 30 July 2020 on an Atlas V-541 rocket from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Perseverance traveled 293 million miles to reach the red planet surface of Mars. The ability to explore other planets is made possible by the Ingenuity helicopter (drone) which is part of the mission.
Getting to Mars with help from a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and interplanetary cruise stage was one thing, but slowing down from 12,100 miles per hour to a soft 1.7 mph at landing is another.
What about the last mile?
|Perseverance landing on Mars. (C) NASA|
The rover’s landing featured the typical “seven minutes of terror” that NASA engineers describe in any spacecraft attempt to land on Mars. That’s the time it takes to enter the Martian atmosphere and descend to the surface, and it’s named as such because it takes 11 minutes for any communication to travel from the rover back to Earth--meaning the time delay requires that the spacecraft and rover perform the landing autonomously.
Row, row, row your boat
News reports confirm that Jasmine Harrison from the UK is now the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
It took 70 days, three hours, and 48 minutes to row across the Atlantic Ocean--a 3,000-mile journey from the Canary Islands of the northwest coast of Africa to the Caribbean Island of Antigua.
At 21, Ms. Harrison is the youngest woman ever to row solo across an ocean. Her boat is 23 feet long, weighs about a ton, and includes a small cabin and a bunker that she slept in.
|Jasmine Harrison crossing the Atlantic Ocean. |
(C) The Times
- Avoid false starts. They ripple through a system all the way to the end.
- Don't celebrate too soon. Outcomes become clearer only as we get near that last mile.
- Identify a point person to be responsible for last-mile execution. To paraphrase, a successful launch has many sponsors but poor results are an orphan.
- Build flexibility into the organizational culture since it's better to bend than break.
- Use positive and negative feedback from frontline workers and consumers to make adjustments in the strategy.
- What emerges is often better than what's planned. A healthy ego can live with that idea.