Don’t Fire ~ Fix!

“You can help catapult someone’s career instead of paralyze it. Helping them excel in a different environment if they don’t fit yours is a gift of a real leader.”

–Kelly Van Gogh

This quote made me think.

Just finished reading several articles by “famous” leadership and management folk, all of whom espoused the hard-core approach of “Cut the Weak Performers Out of the Herd”.

This approach is described in many ways, but always seems to boils down to these principles:


Only hire the absolute best person for the position.    Nothing wrong with this approach, except it does not reflect reality.

The best person doesn’t apply for your open position

Your open position is not the best job out there

You ain’t the best person to work for. Continue reading

Anatomy of Team Success …

“We have always found that people are most productive in small teams with tight budgets, time lines and the freedom to solve their own problems.”

John Rollwagen

Let’s see here…

Small Team ~ intimate, close connections, no getting lost in the crowd or engaging in social loafing. A small, committed group will always outperform a large, but unconnected group.  

Those who work in mega-corporations know this.

Tight Budget ~ without the luxury of unlimited funds, we learn to do what we need to do with what funds we have.  

Priorities become very clear.

Time Line ~ Nothing happens unless something has to happen.  Something happens when forced to happen.  

Schedules create action, dates create accountability, and milestones create reasons to celebrate.

Autonomy – With apologies to Frederick Taylor, we function most effectively when we have the flexibility of choice and the ability to decide our own futures.

We are better when we manage ourselves.

These elements are essential for success and the lack of them is why so many large organizations whine about the lack of success in their efforts to change, to innovate, and to thrive.

We do not have a talent problem – almost anyone can produce great results when these four elements are present.

Wondering about the possibilities in the Heartland ….


“Twas Brillig” . . . Thoughts on Learning Stuff

My First Thought:

If you want a clear-eyed analysis of how social media is affecting learning, read “The Twitter Trap”.   Bill Keller provides an excellent critical statement of the “dark side” of using social media.  In his article, Keller touches on the shift from learning, knowing, and being able to show that learning through recitation and computation, to what I would call “disposal knowledge, where we look up and use information without actually absorbing and retaining that knowledge..

As a social media person, I was tempted to defend our honor against this savage attack.  My only problem was that Keller is essentially right.  When the computers are down, the cash registers silent, and the heat is on, too many of us say “I can’t do anything without my computer.” Continue reading

"Hey, How ya Doing?" . . .

Recently had an interesting and very positive encounter at the coffee shop at my local Border’s store.

Enjoyed chatting with the counter person as she fixed my bagel and drink.  Nice, easy customer service.   I felt like a special person during our brief commercial interaction.

While watching others being served by the same person, I noticed two things:

1) Everyone got the same basic service that I received ~ she is consistent and friendly.  Everyone received their order promptly, correctly, and with that eye toward meeting customer needs that good service demands.

2) Not everyone got the same amount of friendliness and “personal touch” that I experienced.  We joked while I waited and, at least on my end, I felt a very human connection to this person who I don’t really know and may never see again.

This human connection is what makes me want to come back and have another coffee here sometime.

So what is the difference? I think it might have been me. Continue reading

“Leverage” . . . No, NOT the Television Show.

Bill Cosby has a story to tell about how he came to have an advanced degree despite dropping out of school . . . twice:).

John C. Maxwell examines Cosby’s story and says this:

Armed with newfound knowledge Cosby leveraged his talent like never before.”

I see two important elements here:

View DetailsFirst, Cosby gained new-found knowledge. I often see people going to school to gain degrees, certification, praise, increased compensation, and promotions, but that’s not what Maxwell says.  He talks about “newfound knowledge“, which I take to mean that education gave Cosby knowledge that he did not have before.  So Cosby had to actually learn something along the way.  Cosby saw learning as a goal in its own right.

Second, Cosby then “leveraged his talent”. Now Bill Cosby had talent in large measures which predated his formal education.  In fact, when he returned to school, Cosby was at the top of his comedy game with major awards and a reputation which was driving peak earning potential.  So the “talent” referred to here preexisted the “knowledge”.

What is incredibly important is what resulted from what Cosby did by blending his already existing talent with what he learned.  Bill Cosby has been able to give in ways far removed and far beyond the enjoyment he has provided to us all over the years.  Not only has he made us laugh at our human condition and behaviors, he has also made us think and has improved education in this country.

Okay, your turn . . .  how are you “leveraging” your natural talents and your formal education?

Waiting for responses on a crisp and bright Autumn morning in the heartland . . .


Click here to read Maxwell’s complete thoughts on Bill Cosby and education at  The Dropout With A Doctorate