March 5, 2011
Buddy taping is the act of allowing one stronger to support the weaker — a short-term aid to gain long view capability.
Buddy taping can be applied to:
- a young sapling to help it grow
- an injured finger/toe to allow it to heal
- a new recruit learning the ropes
- <your suggestion here>
This week was a buddy taping week…
As I started my new position this week, I relied heavily on others around me to educate me in the current needs, deadlines, and technology of the organization. The tasks and opportunties that have emerged energize me, but I still need the help of others until I get my bearings. I am grateful for the generosity of my new colleagues. 🙂
To solidify the buddy taping theme for the week, I injured my baby toe in a running accident. It was wet and muddy on the trail that I regularly run and I slipped on a muddy incline slamming my foot into a rock at the bottom of the section. My baby toe took the brunt of the force. Poor baby toe…all black and blue and swollen. 😦 But my injured toe made it the 2.5 miles back to the car without too much complaint — then it set up!
Do you buddy tape when you need support?
February 23, 2011
I cannot believe that Dannon finally pulled La Crème yogurt (my favorite!) from the marketplace altogther. I have chased it from store-to-store, letting out a gleeful gasp everytime I found it again in new and different store (only to have it disappear again): Safeway → Target → Nob Hill.
Now appearing in the yogurt aisle of my supermarket is a plethora of brands of “Greek” yogurt. I have tried many and to me they just do not measure up in creaminess and texture. I am hoping that creamy comes back in style and I will eventually find something that I like as much as La Crème.
Not to trivialize the major transition facing my consulting practice clients, this loss of my favorite yogurt helps me to understand why shuttering my year-old business, Process Confidence, has been so wrenching. Even though I am extremely happy and excited about my decision to transition back to full-time professional employment (a great opportunity!), for my clients, my sudden unavailability is a similar involuntary loss.
Over the long view we will both get beyond these transitions…
I am grateful to my clients for making my consulting business a success. I enjoyed helping each one achieve process confidence. I cannot believe how much I learned in the past year about the practice of consulting in general, accounting (taxes), marketing, and sales, all while practicing the technical skills that I know best. Thank you!
I continue to wish all of my clients process confidence even though I have embarked on a new adventure.
February 10, 2011
In Linked Segments I worked hard to be succinct. In doing so, I actually squeezed the life right out of the blog post! Rather than rework it directly, I am attempting to metaphorically add milk, stir, warm, and thus reconstitute the soup rather than a leaving a congealed glob of condensed puree. :*)
I have worked with technical project teams spanning a few to many members . It’s easy to work with a few members – priorities and progress are easy to update – it occurs naturally in the hallway, across cubicle walls, and informal team meetings. It gets more challenging when there are more than about five (5) team members AND when one (or more) is not co-located – the fluidity declines to the viscosity of……..condensed soup!
I could make a list of many reasons why it becomes harder, but I believe the primary one is that with greater visibility (more team members) there is a tendency toward declining informality. Members feel pressure (internally?/externally?) to share only polished work stemming from personal struggles to maintain control and dignity (see my reference to Roger Martin’s work at Technical Complexity). So sharing frequency declines – we wait for members to fully analyze their data, prepare a slide deck, and then present at the next team meeting. These effects mitigate the efficiency and productivity gains of larger groups, because they slow progress down.
Gaining trust and reciprocity that facilitates frequent informal exchange is much easier in smaller groups because protective cliques form readily in small groups. Yet, gaining trust and reciprocity is not impossible in larger groups; it just requires forming a protective tribe – really. This is where the newer ESSP (Emergent Social Software Platforms) have a role. For example, in mid 2008, I began participating in Seth Godin’s online community, Triiibes. I was blown away at how effectively Seth created a large online community that allowed each of us to grow professionally – no polishing required. My blog post On Triiibes celebrates the 1st anniversary of that community and the value that it created — truly amazing!
Two of the very best primers on the subject of forming a tribe:
- Great Boss Dead Boss by Ray Immelman (note: although the title is unappealing, it is an excellent book!)
- Tribes by Seth Godin
When I realized that large organizations (agri-business, pharma, and medical research) were beginning to use larger work groups to increase efficiency and productivity (segment and specialize) I felt compelled to crystallize my most important insights. Unfortunately, my efforts to distill the essence left a blog post with the consistency of solid goo! I hope this greater context makes Linked Segments more readable. 🙂
My long-view message:
- Team members need to feel protected and valued.
Better? Your feedback is welcome and appreciated!
February 1, 2011
I received two unrelated but tantalizingly connected links today in my email inbox:
- One claimed that there is an economic emergency caused by a lack of initiative (Poke-the-Box by Seth Godin)
- The other was to Google’s new application (ngrams) for trending the frequency of words appearing in books from 1800 to now.
How could I resist trending initiative (along with self esteem) over the long view?
From 1800 to 2008 there has been an explosive growth in the occurrence of the term initiative and then a decay starting about the 1970’s. Interestingly, there is concomitant growth of the term self-esteem during the same period that initiative begins its decline. Hmmmm….
October 1, 2010
I recently had the pleasure of hearing David Brooks speak about politics and his career as a journalist (now for the New York Times). He was both funny and insightful.
Mr. Brooks spoke on many subjects, but I was especially piqued by his observations about one specific character trait that makes President Obama unduly effective in his role as leader – extraordinary CALMNESS.
The story he tells about Obama’s calmness is as follows (paraphrased):
When Obama debated McCain in the 2008 presidential election, each man took turns at the lectern. Both could be seen writing notes onto the provided notepad. An observer later collected those notes. McCain’s notes were jotted words topical to the debate. Obama’s notes were six extremely straight drawn lines.
I deeply appreciate those who have mastery of calmness because I am personally a hyperactive, difficult to sit-still person. Yet I recognize that calmness is an essential ally in gaining mastery over new material or terrain. It is easy (and natural) to panic when a situation seems overwhelming and futile. However, panicking never breeds success.
Having pushed thorough to higher knowledge and performance many times before, I know that every obstacle must be overcome to achieve success. As I continue to push myself professionally and personally, I often find myself in over my head. At those times, I must channel calmness to proceed. My personal mantras (long view advice) for learning new things and tackling more demanding challenges are as follows:
- Breathe deeply through your nose (channel straight lines) – it helps to retain focus and minimizes irrational thoughts about quitting.
- Break down the problem – try simpler versions to validate the strategy or idea before incorporating into more complex scenarios.
- Ask for help – consult someone more knowledgeable and learn from them.
Although #2 (teach oneself) enables deeper learning, don’t wait too long to seek #3 (learn from another), because of #1 (irrational thoughts).
Would you benefit from channeling straight lines?
September 17, 2010
Recently, I have needed to take that advice.
I had an AMAZING summer! I enjoyed 4 weeks of a European vacation and another 4 weeks of my husband being around because he was on sabbatical. 🙂
The good was that we had a BLAST together — it was wonderful. The bad was that I got severely behind in my client work and have spent the last many weeks digging out of that situation.
Because I am fastidious about my work and because I was very behind, I abandoned everything non-essential until I could get my work in order. My blog took the biggest hit with my last blog post from France during my vacation. 😦
Since then, I have wanted to blog, but given the lapse I have desired an extraordinary return blog post, yet it has not manifested. So my long view advice (to me):
- Take baby steps – the first step is always the start (or restart) of a journey.
- Continue to strive for more, better, and stronger, but be patient with yourself or you will lose the JOY.
- Keep taking baby steps until habituated – then push forward with all the passion you can muster.
I’m glad to be back!
Would baby steps help you get started (or restarted) on your adventure?!
June 21, 2010
I have had a terrific opportunity to spend some time traveling in Europe on vacation. There have been many opportunities to learn a bit about perspective, but a really great lesson has been taught to me via automobile parking in France.
As Americans accustomed used to large roads, large cars, and plentiful parking (most of the time), the roads, cars, and parking spaces in urban France were downright micro. After a few days in France, we became more and more acclimated to the very challenging parking of the densely populated urban areas (often requires curb jumping for success).
When we arrived in Saint Tropez, there was a mix of the micro and large cars and thus the parking situation was mixed. As my husband backed our rented European car into a marked parking space at our hotel, I was giving him guidance. He asked me, “How many spaces were in the empty back area of the lot?”
My first answer was 2 (from my American perspective based upon the striping of the spaces). My second answer was 3 (when I realized that the spaces were large relative to the size of our small European rental car and there was plenty of room for another one next to ours based upon my recent acclimation to Paris parking). My third answer was 4 (when I realized the same was the situation on the opposite side of the back lot based on the more recent acclimation to Marseilles parking which is even tighter than Paris!).
My answer sounded something like 2…, 3…., 4, because my perspective was shifting.
Afterward, my husband gave me a hard time about being unhelpful and indecisive, but it made me realize that he had assumed a single answer to a multiple answer question if you consider multiple perspectives…
In the morning, there were three cars parked in the back lot, so the answer was 3! Perspective was indeed important.
My long view advice:
- When asking for guidance, recognize that advice might not assume a specific perspective.
- Be patient with difference in perspective until a specific perspective is defined.
Are you considering the affect of perspective?
April 29, 2010
I have been guesting at a conference on cell culture engineering. At this conference, researchers share knowledge and innovations for engineering the processes for making medicines known as biopharmaceuticals (large molecule cancer drugs, heart attack drugs, etc.). These drugs are manufactured on a large scale by harnessing the microscopic cellular machinery of a massive number of cells in culture.
I learned that cells in culture act just like humans, if you overfeed them they will be lazy and not make the desired product. As I walked through the poster session last evening, I was struck by the importance of nutrition and environment on the productivity of cells to make these biopharmaceuticals.
In fact, researchers demonstrated that changes to the diet of the cell culture media (the food stream) could increase the productivity of the cells by 2x and more! Apparently, in cell culture there is an equivalent of substituting a diet of ice cream with a well balanced diet of proteins and carbohydrates.
There were also several posters showing that manipulating key environmental conditions, such as temperature, could lead to increased productivity. For example, most cell culture processes are run at normal body temperature. One researcher showed that cooling the culture several degrees from normal body temperature increased the productivity of the cells. Make them shiver — their machinery runs faster! Like the cells, I know that I swim faster in cooler water I run faster when the weather is cooler (until it requires too much bundling up and I’ll then head to the indoor gym).
The cells (and their researchers) reminded me that in order to achieve excellent performance over the long term we should all eat a balanced diet and stay cool. Thus, today’s long view advice:
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Stay cool for improved performance.
Are you eating right and staying cool?