Tuesday, November 25, 2008
But the folks at Keller Brothers Ford get it. They get that you want to look at cars but it's such a hassle to take the kids. That's why they have this great kid play area. Conveniently located away from the grownups (so they can be loud) and with enough variety (legos, stuffed animals, puzzles, and books) the kids were sad when it was time to leave.
We ended up test driving three cars when we only went in to look at one.
Incidentally the dealer said that they haven't seen much of a downturn lately and that they kept getting visits from the corporate guys wondering how they were doing it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
This creates and interesting basis from which to create a model regarding team performance.
If we had a graph of performance vs. accountability we could represent the performance limit with a line called Performance Break Through (Pbt). (It's called Performance Break Through) because team's need get past their normal limiting behavior to break through to superior results.)
If there is an upper limit it makes sense that there is also a lower limit. When the team's performance drops below this limit somebody from the outside will come in an shake things up.
Adding Pmin to the graph creates three diferent areas on the graph: the area about Pbt, the area between Pbt and Pmin, and the area below Pmin.
Interestingly enough these levels of performance correspond with the primary problem solving method that is used by the group. (How a team collectively solves problems is a function of how they communicate with each other. Team communication is a function of trust which, in turn, is related to individual behavior.)
When a team is preforming below a minium acceptable level the decision making process is flawed. Team members are not sharing information. There may be open insubordination or non-engaugement.
Normal teams fall into a false concencus style of decision making. This is where a generally acceptable solution is chosen and people do not publicly rally against the idea. If the solution doesn't work people come out as never really having been for it to begin with.
Great teams solve problems with constructive conflict. They have enough trust in each other that they can openly and vigorously debate contentious issues without worrying about violating interpersonal values.
In order to achieve break through performance there needs to be accountability. Team members (and this includes the team leader) are holding themselves accountable. They are holding their peers accountable. Achieving accountability means building up trust levels so that when you have the difficult conversations that are required to be great people are able to turn off their automated defensive responses and instead are able to hear and build on what is said.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sometimes no matter how good, or bad, you are you are going to be carried away with the current.
For example this year only 16 of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500 are up for the year. This is the lowest number of "up" stocks since 1980. 1
It's easy to look good when you can't lose and it's hard to keep going when you can't win, but remember this: the fundamentals don't change.
You still have to make good product, at a low cost. You still have to provide better customer service. You still have to preform.
The free ride, be it up or down, doesn't last forever. When the artificial boosters are stripped away reality will still be there.
Image via dailygalaxy.com
Sunday, November 16, 2008
There are two important results of this finding. One, knowing others react defensively, people are less likely to appear confrontational for fear of triggering a conflict. Therefore holding your peers accountable, a confrontational task, is often avoided. Two, because the defensive reaction is an unconscious reaction people are are unable to honestly reflect how their own behavior has contributed to the problem because they don't know that it is contributing to the problem. This lack of honest reflection means that they are less like to hold themselves accountable.
The natural tendency to avoid holding yourself or peers accountable means that team performance is limited by normal human behavior.
Not honestly debating the most important issues for fear of triggering a conflict results in the group not resolving the most important problems. A team that polices itself to make sure that the most important issues are tackled are more effective than a team that does not.
Likewise team members who are not able to defeat their automatic defense system cannot honestly examine, and change, their own behaviors that are contributing to the problems. Teams that have individuals hold themselves accountable for their actions will be more successful than team's whose team members do not.
Average performance is normal. What's not normal is excellence. Excellence cannot be found through programs and techniques. Excellent requires that the team collectively understand their own defaults as people and then push through on both an individual and collective level to create the required accountability to deliver results.
Article: Teaching Smart People How To Learn (pdf)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Dana Wolcott is the Sole Proprietor of Dana Wolcott Consulting and the Director of Operations for the Innovation Network, which can be found at www.thinksmart.com. Dana has over 30 years of experience at Eastman Kodak in inventing, developing and leading teams to invent and develop new camera and printer products and new printing businesses.
DWC does consulting on creative problem solving, ideation, invention, innovation and new product development.
Dana is a student of innovation and creativity and a leader in the Innovation Network. He has 18 US Patents.
For fun and exercise, Dana plays basketball year around in several leagues and is a Gold Medal Winner at the 2008 Empire State Senior Games.
1. What have you done that's innovative?
I think innovation is applying new ideas to solve problems in a way that creates value. I try to bring the innovative thinking to not just work but to daily life as well. Starting with growing up on a farm and helping clever farmers fix equipment on the fly to make sure the hay got bailed, to working at Kodak and seeing the first camera I helped design go to market with my first patented part, to designing and helping build a near-zero energy house in the late 70's, to helping start a new business for Kodak by being the project leader for our first thermal printer, to designing a new play for my basketball team that helps us win a tournament, I look at every problem as an opportunity to do something innovative.
2. What three things do companies need to know about Innovation?
One, top management engagement is the key to being a successful innovative company. Two, new ideas can come from anywhere; employee's, suppliers, customers and end-users.Three, innovation is an attitude that should be embedded in every aspect of your enterprise.
3. What specific things do innovative companies do that others don't?
Innovative companies encourage and support new ideas by hiring creative folks, allowing time and place for invention and experimentation, funding the best concepts for success and celebrating the learnings.
4. What the best way to measure a company's level of innovation?
In addition to the traditional stage gate measures for project delivery, measurement of pre-gate zero activities should be done by measuring the flow of customer interactions, problem identification, networking, new ideas, prototypes, and learning.
5. Who's currently the best at innovating?
According to Business Week, Apple is number one for the 3rd year in a row. P&G, IBM, Nokia and
Monday, November 10, 2008
In our version, a common set of questions about innovation will be answered by people who have front line experience implementing new ideas. The goal of the series is twofold: First we want to introduce and recognize the people who are getting it done, second we want to see what patterns emerge as different people answer the same set of questions.
The first guest will be Dana Wolcott of Dana Wolcott Consulting and Director of Operations for the Innovator Network. Dana spent 30 years with Eastman Kodak Company and holds 18 US patents.
Record / Approval Rating
3-0 / 95%
4-0 / 95%
5-1 / 92%
5-4 / 23%
This has several important implications:
- Bills fans are extremely fickle; I mean 5% still didn't like the coach when he was undeafeated?
- If you lead for people's approval (be it fans or shareholders) be prepared. Dick lost three games and all of a sudden you are 70% less worthy to lead? It's the same guy. A guy, by the way, who had some serious problems with injuries.
- A 23% approval rating is a function of how much Buffalo loves its team. Dick Juron is waaay better then Greg Williams (never a head coach since) or Mike Mularkey (who mysteriously quit after two campaigns) and yet the town is ready to lynch him. If he get's the team to the playoffs everyone hops back on the bandwagon and he is easily at a 30% approval rating.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
- Girls do as well as the boys in the math and science standardized testing.1
- In Britain, 58% of new doctors are female.2
- Women have a majority in the New Hampshire State Senate.3
- The majority leader in the US House of Representatives is female
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Yeah But Mine's Real
According to the Swiss an estimated 40 million fake watches are built each year. By contrast the Swiss only exported 26 million watches a year.1
Everything Changes, Always
Southwest Airlines lost money for the first time in 17 years this year.2
Oceans Are a Good Thing
Almost half of terrorists live within 30 miles of their target.3
Get Ready Florida
By 2016, nearly 61% of current full-time government employees will be eligible for retirement, according to U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Impact From The Sub Prime Mess
Some 4.3 million people are expected to lose their homes between 2008 and 2010.4 This is about triple the normal rate.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The folks at UncommonGoods. com are different good.
Example one, regular glasses that take on the shape of specialty glasses when full. Clever.
Example two, a neat garden theme variation.
Example three, a clever play on a traditional wire wine rack.
Images via uncommongoods.com