I learnt a looooong time ago that success comes from effort you put in + talent + luck. What I didn’t learn until a couple of years ago is that whilst I thought I was putting in the max, actually I wasn’t. This is a truth that applies to most all of us, we spend sometimes hours just doing meaningless and pointless tasks.
I admit facing the reality was a difficulty, after all I’m perfect aint I? Well, NO actually.
The possibility that I could make better and quicker decisions just hadn’t occurred to me and when it did it was like being hit by a juggernaut. The reality just hit me right between the eyes, suddenly it was obvious what I had to do, I had to measure my activity and the waste would become self evident. I adopted a method I have to use every couple of years and I kept a diary for a couple of weeks. When I was a child I was in hospital for a very long time and at the time had pioneering surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. Anyway since turning 40 years of age (and that seems like a life-time ago now) I go for a check every couple of years to make sure I still have a functioning heart and nobody’s replaced it with a lump of rock. Before the appointment where I’m prodded, pressed, listened to and covered in wires I have to keep a diary of diet and activity. Thankfully over the last 8 years I’ve actually improved my health! Yes, I’m fitter now than I was 10 years ago!
Anyhow, the lesson is there. Measure stuff and stuff gets done. So I applied the logic to activity, especially activity that brought me closer to my dreams. And you’ll never guess what? I found I waste time.
I waste time day-dreaming (not necessarily a total waste of time but too much dreaming and not enough doing, well need I say more?).
I waste time flicking though pages of magazines looking at cars and phones and computers that I will never consider buying.
I sleep more than I thought I did.
I watch a lot more TV than I thought I did.
I spend hours, yes honestly hours on-line looking at and not buying cycling gear (yes its a fantasy, I am a MAMIL; a middle aged man in lycra)
The truth is that I measured what I did and hey presto I became more productive. Its no miracle just facing up to the truth and then doing something about what I didn’t like about my life.
McDonald’s, the biggest purchaser of beef in the US has promised that it will begin buying beef from a verified and sustainable source by 2016.
There is a but… They don’t know what verified sustainable beef actually is!
There is no definition of beef, for anybody that is, so this claim by McDonald’s is ambitious in more ways than one I guess. On the plus side McDonald’s are working with suppliers such as Wal-Mart to come with a definition they can work within, but this sounds a bit like asking a fox to guard the chickens. It’ll be a definition that suits McDonald’s but which may not actually resemble anything you or I might understand as beef. So on the negative side the players are setting the rules!
When I go to my local butcher and ask for a cut of beef I fairly well know what I’m looking at is beef. This might not be so clear with a McDonald’s definition I venture. Beef could end-up being something that’s mechanically reclaimed beef which is roughly equivalent in terms of protein content.
Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president has explained that they are not ready to give a figure for how much beef will be from a verifiable sustainable source in 2016, its an “aspirational goal” he says, you better believe it if they don’t actually know what beef is I reckon. But it has been speculated that the process to get from zero to 100% beef from verifiable sustainable sources could take 10-years.
But think about this for a moment; the route the beef takes – cattle farm – suppliers – slaughter houses – patty makers… burger on a bun. All parts of the supply chain act independently with each taking a profit and still we have the £1.99 Happy Meal!
How do they do it for the money?
Nonetheless verifiable sustainable beef or not a McDonald’s burger will still be 550 calories, and half the recommended level of fat for a day.
In business you will come across and probably be the victim of those who are ruthlessly power hungry, I know I have and it ain’t pleasant I can assure you. To be honest the pursuit of power and only power in business (or more generally life as well) is not a an assured route to success; but those who practice the corporate power politics don’t know that and they will be relentless in their pursuit I promise you.
But you know the problem, you’ve got part way up the corporate greased pole only to find the further up you go the more power hungry your colleagues are. The conundrum of course is do you consolidate what you have achieved so far or do you carry on with the ever increasing risk being that you lose the lot. What ever you choose you will nonetheless have to deal with these power obsessed co-workers, so how to deal with them?
Do you ignore them, hope that they go away, that they will eventually recognize your contribution and and they’ll leave you alone? No, not a chance of that. Never be so naive as to think this will ever be the case. But should you instead go on the counter offensive? Do you turn brutal in your pursuit? Also No, you’ll need friends or at least allies along the way for the continuing journey. Instead you must remain calm under pressure, self assured of your abilities; after-all you haven’t been promoted to your position by being stupid have you? But you will have to be and remain at your best, there’s no time for an off-day believe me. And remember those who take aim at you, those who seek your power will eventually make a mistake, they will overreach themselves and you want to be prepared for the moment.
Nevertheless you may (will) be drawn into conflict at some point and I recommend:
- Competence in role is your defense: those most vulnerable when under attack are those who are either complacent or who don’t deliver top notch results. Say what you are going to do, do it in the time-frame agreed and in budget. Sounds simple but it isn’t.
- Confidence: only those who are confident in their own abilities to deliver can truly exercise power. That’s not to say that everyone who does deliver results will exercise power, just that you have got to deliver and be confident that you will before you can take power.
- No short-cuts (ever): Lance Armstrong, great athlete absolutely no doubt but the cheated, he took the drugs short-cut to win and then lost. He lost not a small bit though, he lost BIG on the world stage. In these cases its not the wins no matter how many that will be remembered, it’ll be the betrayal of trust. In business think of Jeff Skilling in charge of ENRON – an example of cheating on a monumental scale.
- The war zone becomes too dangerous: if your company has become a hunting ground for the power hungry, a power-at-any-cost environment then perhaps you should consider a new venue for your talents. When companies deteriorate to this level its often a sign that either the company is in crisis or about to fall into one!
- Could you be the next entrepreneur?: you’re talented, you know you are. So why continue with the red dot of a power obsessed co-worker permanently fixed on your back? You’d be making a mistake if you thought the power struggle will go away by being a start-up but you will have the rewards, all (or at least most) of them. Leaving the organisational power struggles behind might just turn out to be a better use of your time and energy.
Power, personal power, power in the work-place; this is complicated for sure. You’ll never achieve with out it but it can equally be your ruin if not used with finesse. So if you find yourself in a place that encourages the ruthless to show disrespect, the insecure to take credit, or the savagely ambitious to take the joy and meaning out of work, seize the only power that really matters: control over your attitudes, your values and the quality of the work that you do.
- Personal Power Tuesday (fromthedeskofmardrag.wordpress.com)
- If You Were Chief Boss Of The World Are You Gonna Be Really Happy (criminologyjust.blogspot.com)
- Forbes Named Putin Most Powerful Person in World (02varvara.wordpress.com)
- Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins speaks at Georgia Regents University (chronicle.augusta.com)
- I Am Power Hungry (harrisonwilder.com)
- Are You Giving Away Your Personal Power? (lifehack.org)
- Paradox in Human Form (ifhappinesscanlastforever.com)
How should a person be judged? By what s/he is or what s/he could be?
If the person is you; you are judging yourself then it is the person you are that is the measure to use. If you wake one morning, look in the mirror and decide that actually you have been lazy, you could have done better, that you have in some way messed-up some lately but you know deep down that you could have done better then judge what you have done, what you are and not what you could have been, could have done. By this point your potential is wasted and you know its wasted.
By asking yourself what you have become, what you have done you will eventually look at your talents and the resources you have to hand and you should know if in some way you’ve fallen short that you have wasted the talents and resources granted to you. By wasting them like a muscle that’s not exercised they will wither and rot over time so that your potential will diminish.
If on the other hand the person is not you that you judge then in this case you must judge on the basis of their potential, what they could be, what they could achieve. You have no way of knowing, no certainty, no way of understanding the things and circumstances that prevent them from reaching their potential. So when you meet someone who is a real mess, don’t look upon them with scorn initially, you should see the person they could be and judge on that basis.
All you have to remember is that the greater the persons potential the further they have to fall. People may be tempted by things that will addict them and these addictions may be greater than anything we could possibly know ourselves or be able to resist but you do not know the extent of the persons will, the extent to which they can exercise control over their lives and you cannot possibly be in a position to judge this. The lesson is that we all have demons; our own we know, for others we can only guess.
The products and deeds we make and do are of our own and not others. Judge yourself on this basis. The products and deeds of others alert us to their achievements so far but we know there is more, much more is possible, its just not known or certain.
- God never judges me (trinhhathu229.wordpress.com)
- How would I evaluate a person? (ksquareblog.wordpress.com)
- Judge Me (smartstunningsearching.wordpress.com)
- Disciplinary Charges Filed Against “Messiah” Judge (volokh.com)
- Family first? (bellemorgen.wordpress.com)
- Hooked on Heroin: Beating addiction (wbng.com)
- Casting the First Stone (michaelcupo40.wordpress.com)
- Judges Withdraw from Trial of Muslim Brotherhood Members in Egypt (voanews.com)
- Kana’s verdict ‘best present’ for Anene (iol.co.za)
We all use the word system a lot when talking about a whole range of things… computer system, information system, ‘the system’ meaning a way of doing things normally with some sort of negative or sinister overtone but not always. Basically so far as I can see there are 3 distinct uses of the word:
- A way of doing things, of organizing things, resources and procedures
- A fixed or hard system; a computer system for example
- A specialized system, a conceptualized way of organizing resources and procedures according to a systems theory
Another governing principle is that of emergence; simply expressed as the sum is greater than the whole. So for example a factory operates with direct labour (those doing hands-on work) and indirect labour (those who do administrative work, management work, delivery drivers, maintenance staff, warehouse staff…) to make the factory work.
Systems thinking has come to be known as either hard or soft systems thinking. Hard systems are those where behavior can be reasonably predicted, normally where mechanical components interact in an organised, predictable way. Soft systems by contrast are where human activity is concerned and are a lot less predictable by nature. Organisational problems are a lot less clear-cut, and are a lot more complex in nature.
My thinking tends towards seeing systems problems through the lens of complexity, a system is an intellectual construct designed to make sense of a given situation or event, they help us deal with the enormous complexity of the (real) world.
By making a conceptual model of the world and comparing this to the real world its surprising how quickly difficulties and problems in the actual real world organisational system can be uncovered. Multifaceted problems become more apparent and quantifiable and the possible solutions are more easily teased out of the problem situation. Conceptual models are not representations of the real world, but are a conceptualization of potential real world systems. Soft Systems Methodology therefore is not about real world systems but about applying systems methodologies (systems thinking) to things that happen in the real world. It is best carried out with the full co-operation of those involved in the real world organisation with a facilitator to help and guide.
Each conceptual system has at its heart a transformation process; input into and output. A very powerful concept accompanying the transformation process is that of weltanschauung (world view) – what makes the transformation worth doing! So the components are:
Customers – the victims or beneficiaries of the transformation process
Actors – those who do the transformation process
Transformation – input to output
Weltanschauung – the world view that makes the transformation meaningful
Owners – those who have the power to stop the transformation
Environmental Constraints – elements outside the process that can influence the process
Monitoring and Control Measures
E1 – Efficacy; does the system work? has the transformation taken place?
E2 – Efficiency; what are the resources needed to achieve the output? Is the system worthwhile?
E3 – Effectiveness; can the system achieve its longer term goals?
As a part of the Soft Systems Methodology intervention it is central and important that the 3 E’s are understood, measurable and agreed by all involved as appropriate measures of the intervention success.
- Applied Systems Thinking (sems-blog.org)
- Limited Weekly Review – Synthesizing Soft Systems Methodology and Human Performance Technology (mnmadkins.wordpress.com)
- The Formula for Successful Change and Projects (nocrisis.net)
- Rich Pictures (the-colabris.com)
- Reading Response 4: Sanford Kwinter’s Soft Systems (stephtabb.wordpress.com)