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Posts Tagged ‘NOW’

MANAGING IN THE NOW – follower’s blog


Welcome to the MANAGING IN THE NOW follower’s blog. I hope you enjoyed the video.

Thanks to my great literary agent Michael Snell we had three publishers interested in publishing the book, and we are thrilled to be working with John Wiley & Sons, publishers of such great books as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, True North by Bill George and David Gergen; and numerous books by the likes of Peter Drucker.

I’ll be writing at the pace of a chapter every two weeks and along the way I intend to share some excerpts to help you understand where the book is going. Here’s a snippet from Chapter One, where I introduce the idea of YESability—how capable are your company’s front-line people at saying “yes” to your customer and prospect’s unique needs? From chapter one:

YES derives its power from the fact that it saves us time, and time, like low tide, waits for no one. We can never buy more of it, it continually slips away, and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever. When we hear a prompt YES, we can happily move on to something else we need to do. When we hear NO, especially after waiting for over an hour to hear it, we feel as if we’ve been robbed of something we can never replace.

“We also value YES because it respects our needs. When an organization, be it an insurance provider or the Department of Motor Vehicles, respects our needs, we feel good. And no one can devise a better definition for customer service than ‘making the customer feel good.’  That feeling lies at the heart of every customer relationship, and yet companies forget that fact all the time when they take loyalty for granted.”

We are in the midst of the largest transformation in a century as we transition from a Mass Production base to one dependent upon Mass Customization, making YESability essential for economic survival. A bit more from chapter one:

“Mass customization, a term Stan Davis popularized in his 1987 book Future Perfect,   aptly describes the internet’s impact on the marketplace. We’ll examine mass customization’s impact on management closely in Chapter Two, but for now just keep in mind this basic definition: ‘the use of computer-aided systems to produce custom output.’  Why does that matter? These systems change the whole game because they combine the low unit cost of mass production with the flexibility of individual customization.  While mass production supplied many identical products produced at a low cost, mass customization offers individually differentiated products manufactured at or near mass production costs.  Mass production once drove the global economy and still plays a major role in emerging economies, but mass customization increasingly defines a new economy, where companies can say YES to customers and give them what they want when they want it. Of course, businesses have always striven to do that, but now they can do it. Three key drivers have conspired to make it all possible.”

I look forward to sharing more of chapter one next week.

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MANAGING IN THE NOW – follower’s blog


Welcome to the MANAGING IN THE NOW follower’s blog. I hope you enjoyed the video.

Thanks to my great literary agent Michael Snell we had three publishers interested in publishing the book, and we are thrilled to be working with John Wiley & Sons, publishers of such great books as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, True North by Bill George and David Gergen; and numerous books by the likes of Peter Drucker.

I’ll be writing at the pace of a chapter every two weeks and along the way I intend to share some excerpts to help you understand where the book is going. Here’s a snippet from Chapter One, where I introduce the idea of YESability—how capable are your company’s front-line people at saying “yes” to your customer and prospect’s unique needs? From chapter one:

YES derives its power from the fact that it saves us time, and time, like low tide, waits for no one. We can never buy more of it, it continually slips away, and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever. When we hear a prompt YES, we can happily move on to something else we need to do. When we hear NO, especially after waiting for over an hour to hear it, we feel as if we’ve been robbed of something we can never replace.

“We also value YES because it respects our needs. When an organization, be it an insurance provider or the Department of Motor Vehicles, respects our needs, we feel good. And no one can devise a better definition for customer service than ‘making the customer feel good.’  That feeling lies at the heart of every customer relationship, and yet companies forget that fact all the time when they take loyalty for granted.”

We are in the midst of the largest transformation in a century as we transition from a Mass Production base to one dependent upon Mass Customization, making YESability essential for economic survival. A bit more from chapter one:

“Mass customization, a term Stan Davis popularized in his 1987 book Future Perfect,   aptly describes the internet’s impact on the marketplace. We’ll examine mass customization’s impact on management closely in Chapter Two, but for now just keep in mind this basic definition: ‘the use of computer-aided systems to produce custom output.’  Why does that matter? These systems change the whole game because they combine the low unit cost of mass production with the flexibility of individual customization.  While mass production supplied many identical products produced at a low cost, mass customization offers individually differentiated products manufactured at or near mass production costs.  Mass production once drove the global economy and still plays a major role in emerging economies, but mass customization increasingly defines a new economy, where companies can say YES to customers and give them what they want when they want it. Of course, businesses have always striven to do that, but now they can do it. Three key drivers have conspired to make it all possible.”

I look forward to sharing more of chapter one next week.

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How can you do it?! (via Seth Godin)


Here’s why we start new businesses, via Seth Godin’s Blog.

JK asks,

“It’s like, how does anyone start their own business? How is it even possible? How do they deal with the crippling fear and harsh economic realities?”

Some people believe that if you have a good job, you shouldn’t start your own gig, because it’s foolish to give up a job you can’t easily replace.

And some people believe that if you don’t have a great job, it’s foolish to waste time (and the money you can ill afford to lose) starting something when you’d be a lot better off getting a great job or going to school until you do.

And both groups are missing the point.

The people who successfully start independent businesses (franchises, I think are a different thing) do it because we have no real choice in the matter. The voice in our heads won’t shut up until we discover if we’re right, if we can do it, if we can make something happen. This is an art, our art, and to leave it bottled up is a crime.

I guess the real question, JK, is, “How can you not do it?”

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Things are moving very fast…


Needless to say technology is rapidly evolving and innovating.  To stay up to speed with this kind of change is nearly impossible and the farther a person gets behind on the learning curve, the harder it becomes to catch up.  John Bernard has remarked that by embracing the technological advancements in the workplace, you can empower employees to solve problems extremely fast.  This is particularly important when you are working in a company or society that wants everything NOW.  The speed of need is important to growing companies and cannot only increase employee engagement by increasing the autonomy and allowing an employee to master their skills, but it can also gain a competitive advantage in the industry or market.  Below is a video about just how fast things are changing.  Enjoy!

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What President Obama Can Learn From Steve Jobs


We just had to repost this article. Leadership is complicated. Managing in the NOW requires a thorough understanding of the Social Ecosystem. Take a look and thank you Business Insider.

The sunlight of summer has begun it’s annual transition to equinox, and we are all reviving the pulse of the work-year.

The President has returned from Martha’s Vineyard to face what will surely be a challenging fall.  It’s mid-term election season and the mood of the voting public is downright ornery.

ODS (Obama Disappointment Syndrome) a growing wave of depression, has created a huge anti-incumbent wave.  ”Throw ‘em all out!” seems to be the mantra of the season.

In the last couple of weeks the number of negative op-eds on the President from both sides of the aisle have grown considerably.  The mildest theme seems to be “he is too smart to be in touch with the people,” or “we just don’t know who you are or what you really are about Mr. President.”  The really challenging ones drift into the inevitable issues of racism.

I have long held that the most qualified people to be in government are business folk.  Not just Billionaires like Mayor Bloomberg, but anyone who has successfully run anything, been responsible for making payrolls, paying back loans, paying bills on time, navigating through good times and bad.  Most important: balancing a budget.  But the reality is most people who have these credentials are too smart to get sucked into the dysfunction of the public sector. Nor will they submit themselves to the relentless intrusion and scrutiny of the press.  So what’s the next best thing for the “beleaguered” President?  Take some lessons from the guys who know how to really get things done. And who better than the best CEO in the Universe: Steve Jobs.

So Mr. President, in an effort to help you succeed, herewith is a new playbook for your consideration:

1. You have to make other people cool. Being cool got you elected because it made people feel cool electing you. But then nothing much else happened. You thought healthcare would be the cool thing but dramatically misread your audience.  Steve makes millions of people cool, it is his most amazing talent.  Buy an iPhone and you are cool.  But if you don’t have a job, you have no chance of being cool.  And the Healthcare plan? No one is cool with it (outside of DC).

2. Get citizens to voluntarily pay more taxes.
Apple has been doing this for years.  Customers happily fork over a big premium for their products. They will even camp overnight outside an Apple store to have the privilege of doing it first.  We have a huge debt problem. In Europe everyone pays a VAT (Value Added Tax). Apple has a CAT (Coolness Added Tax).  Watch and learn Barack.  You just have to figure out what it is the Federal Government does that’s cool, or useful, or is of particular benefit to anyone.

3. Replace Congress with a Genius Bar. The current spin is that the Republicans are obstructionist.  But if there are Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, how could that possibly prevent you from bringing “Change we can believe in?”  The answer is that Congress just isn’t smart enough.  Sure these are fine, well-intentioned people but we need really super-smart folks to fix our dysfunctional system.  Steve Jobs figured out that even people savvy enough to buy Apple products were going to have problems now and then, and he wasn’t going to subject them to someone you’d find working at the Division of Motor Vehicles.  He recruited an army of Geniuses.  So why not forget about political party affiliations and just support the election of Geniuses.

4. Wear the same outfit every day. I know it sounds trite but you probably have figured out it takes a lot of brain cycles to be POTUS.  Why waste any time trying to pick out a slick Armani and matching tie (or arguing with the First Lady about HER selection).  Steve’s turtleneck and jeans thing has worked for 30 years now because it sends a simple clear message “all I care about is making insanely great products.” You could be transmitting “all I care about is improving your life, making a better America.”

5. You can’t be afraid of pissing people off. Probably your biggest Freshman error has been to try and make everyone happy.  Yes you passed a Healthcare bill but it didn’t take on the tough issues (Tort reform, insurance rate controls).  You decided we needed to “surge” in Afghanistan but also announced we’d only do it for a little while, so as not to over-irritate all of the antiwar constituency who voted you into office.  Steve Jobs takes on the tough issues. He decided that Adobe’s Flash, one of the most widely used media formats on the Internet, sucks and that was that. iPhone and iPad don’t support it.  So I can’t view half of the stuff on the WWW on my iPad; but I still have one.  Take a real stand on something President Obama and live with the fact that to be effective you are going to make some people angry.  As long as there are more happy people then angry people you’ll have a second term.

6. Vision without execution is nothing. We elected you because you understood how frustrated we were with DC Dysfunction.  You had a vision for “not a Red America or Blue America but a United States of America.”  You said you would bring change to Washington.  True you never said you’d make DC “Insanely Great” or “Magical” but you presented your campaign vision with compelling Jobsian conviction.  Yet, the partisan aisles are wider than ever.  No one seems to want to solve problems, they are just obsessed with maintaining or regaining their majority.  Steve Jobs has a saying: “there are two types of people in the world: those who have shipped products and those who haven’t.”  Steve has shipped more Innovative products over the last 30 years than any other tech executive.  The lesson here?  Get rid of all of the professors, policy wonks, career bureaucrats, and Chicago thugs and convince some real capitalist operational executives to come work for you (even if you hate the way we smell).

7. Build a little intrigue. Tell us something big is coming.  Set a date for a big presentation.  Leak a little here and there to tease.  Cut all the deals behind the scenes so Congress backs you. Then get on stage and tell us all about our shiny new Healthcare Widget.  We won’t mind what’s missing because we’ll know it’s just 1.0 and your bound to have a bunch of improvements next year and it will be much cheaper too.

8. Make us USA Fanboys.
Right after the election it was fun to be an American again, especially while traveling abroad.  Europeans in particular were not Bush fans and we took a big hit in our image.  Electing you made the World feel good.  But the bloom has quickly faded. No one can figure out what you really stand for.  We are straddled with debt, and seem to be losing our innovative edge. We can’t even give our kids a decent education.  Apple went through bad times prior to Steve Job’s comeback.  It lost it’s Mojo.  But Steve returned with laser like focus. The company’s back was against the wall and he put forth a simple proposition. He said they would only do two things and had to make them spectacular to survive.  He thew away all of the previously bloated, PC-like Macs and introduced the first iMac and iBook. They were a hit.  That led to iPod.  Which led to iPhone.  Which led to legions of proud Apple Fans. And most important huge financial success.  All due respect President Obama, we need to focus on innovation and education.  If we are not giving our children the best and nurturing our innate Yankee ingenuity, we will never create jobs and return to prosperity. It’s hard to feel patriotic pride when your house is being repossessed.

9. When all else fails. Blame it on us stupid Americans.  We just don’t get it.  We don’t need to access our iTunes library on more than five computers.  Calls dropping on our brand new iPhone4?  We are holding it the wrong way!  Go to the Genius bar and Apple will give you a rubber and show you how to practice safe iPhone4.  Mr. President, Yes you can to bring change to Washington, but everyone else is going to have to want to change too.  If they won’t play ball, make it crystal clear that they are the morons and send them to a Genius Bar for help.  Well actually looks like the voters are going to do that for you in November.

The final lesson is that passion and persistence against all adversity will pay off.  After all of the adoration bestowed during the campaign, it must be horrible to have to endure the current spate of negative press.  But hey, Steve was summarily thrown out of his own company, thrashed around for a bunch of years trying to get NeXT to be something. Perhaps it was a dose of humility that helped polish his edges a bit but he never lost his passion or focus.  His return and turnaround of Apple is now epic.  And the story is really just beginning.  So President Barack Obama, can you turn it around and become an epic President? One for the history books? Take a lesson from Apple. It’s all about Jobs.

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Sales, The Endless Frontier: Throw Up or Shut Up?


The goal is “95% and 5%.” Here’s why.

I once heard an advisors tell me that the job description for most sales people was to “Show Up and Throw Up” product information on their desk.  Yikes, that’s a guaranteed bad sales call! A successful sales person knows that his first job is to “Show Up, Shut Up and Listen”. Great sales people know that they need to listen to learn to be successful. The best memory jogger is to plan on listening 95% of the time and talking no more then 5% of the time. Try it! Here are some other helpful tips:

  1. Have a plan. Set a goal for each meeting.
  2. Have well planned out questions that stimulate conversation and that get you the critical answers you seek
  3. Remember the 10 minute gag rule (no product discussion unless the advisor initiates it).
  4. The meeting is all about the advisor, not you.
  1. You need the advisor to talk. If he doesn’t talk, you don’t learn.
  2. You need the advisor to talk. If he talks, he will like you better.
  3. You need the advisor to talk. If he doesn’t, you just had a bad meeting.
  4. Focus what you say to be what you most want them to remember.
  5. Practice well thought out lines of conversation
  6. Take Notes. What the advisor says is important!

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A successful sales person is great at having his clients tell him how to close them. Question, listen and take notes.

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Congrats to Brenna for the Spo…


Congrats to Brenna for the Spotlight! http://thejohnfmoore.com/2010/08/25/who-is-in-the-lab%E2%80%99s-spotlight-brenna-gimler/

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Cutting Won’t Fix Oregon, But There is a Solution


Oregon is broken, and if we don’t fix it, Oregon will be broke.

We cannot “cut” our way out of this. Yes, cuts are required, but cuts don’t solve the underlying problems we face and they only pretend to ward off the inevitable collapse. To solve the problem we must face three realities and address them—simultaneously and immediately.

REALITY ONE: Our legislative process does not work. Last session Oregon’s Legislature passed and the Governor signed 844 new laws. This added in excess of 25,000 pages of documents rained down on the state’s agencies to administer. Few of these laws eliminated or rationalized laws passed in previous sessions so the pile of regulations builds. No wonder the budget grows and the number of state employees has mushroomed.

REALITY TWO: Governmental agencies are full of waste, in no small part because of Reality One. There is no formal accountability to the citizens of this state other than the occasional dramatic and extremely absurd examples that end up on the front page of The Oregonian. What measures do the state use as a meaningful report card to its citizens.

REALITY THREE: Oregon does not serve its citizens, it serves special interest groups. In Salem it is commonly said among bureaucrats that it is far more dangerous to your career to anger the special interest groups than it is to anger your boss, the Governor.

Let me expose my biases before I share what I believe are the solutions. My company has begun in recent months working with two state agencies (Department of Administrative Services and the Oregon Youth Authority). We improve performance through the implementation of an integrated system of management. We change the focus and rules to help both public and private sector organizations speed fixing their problems. Typically we see gains in the 20-30 percent range within two to three years.

I am also a third generation Oregonian, married and have five children. I’m hoping this next generation will have a viable place to work and live, the undeniable beauty of Oregon aside.

So, what is the answer?

It begins with getting back to a state that is citizen focused and driven, not one driven by those organized better to demand attention. Leadership must step up and step in and clearly articulate and validate the needs of Oregonians, such obvious things as a good education, public safety, and care for the elderly and the disadvantaged. Once the focus in clear, the work beings:

  1. Each agency needs clear goals directly tied to what citizens need and expect from their state government.
  2. Agency goals must be translated into clear measures, with performance targets set, so government is accountable. Among these measures must be both the benefit to Oregonians and the costs associated with each goal.
  3. Performance on measures must be transparent and posted on line and in the media, so citizens can monitor them (at least quarterly) and give feedback on progress.
  4. Agency leaders must be then held publicly accountable for progress toward the targets. If they fail to move their agencies, leadership must be changed swiftly.
  5. State agencies must make clear what help they need from the Legislature to achieve the goals they have been given. They must understand their challenges and guide the legislation needed for a focused, clean and cost-effective delivery of changes needed to aggressively move toward our goals.
  6. Citizens must hold their legislators accountable to work with agency leadership to pass laws that help the state cost effectively achieve its goals and drive performance toward targets. Legislators must help to simplify the state’s laws and work collaboratively to reduce the incredible red tape caused by an unfocused, unaccountable Legislature which drives an unfocused, unaccountable state government.
  7. Special interest groups must be held in check to make sure their advocacy supports what Oregonians need from their government. In practical terms the clear goals of the state must trump the needs of any and all special interest groups.

Oregon has tried in the past what may appear to be some of these steps. Oregon Benchmarks look a lot like items 2 and 3. Unfortunately the accountability was disconnected from the agency structure. This didn’t and won’t work because accountability must be connected to authority for action, otherwise all people can do is point fingers.

I believe the key to all of this is that citizens NEEDS must trump all other needs.

Before I started working with the leadership teams of Department of Administrative Services and Oregon Youth Authority it was easy for me to fall in the trap of believing that bureaucrats care more about preserving their jobs than they do about Oregonians. I will tell you nothing could be further from the truth. Sure they are challenged as managers in these bizarrely complex and fast-paced times. But so is the private sector. But what’s unique about the agencies of state government is they get squeezed between a myopic legislative process and self-serving interest groups; it’s a debilitating combination. Until we break the cycle, state government will continue to need bigger budgets and more staff to deal more laws and more interests. Under the current system the needs of Oregonians are a distant third.

Our system of state government as it operates today is broken. Cutting won’t solve the root cause of a failing system. We have to put our house in order to get on a viable path to survivability.

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8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Biz


I just had to repost this great article from Don Rainey via Entrepreneurial Corner.  Great read! Of course, the Homer Simpson/Letterman Top Ten was too good to resist.

In the world of startups, success or failure can be hard to consistently predict. One thing that’s sure, however, is that anyone who starts a business is changed by the process. The continual challenges of meeting the opportunities and issues that arise make it fun and always interesting. I think it is why many people continue to start businesses regardless of the (easier) alternatives presented by employment for somebody else.

Having started a few businesses in my life, I view some of the lessons of the experience as intuitive and others much less so. Given the time and money involved in learning these lessons, none could be characterized as cheap.

They all changed my worldview, though. And they all changed me as a person. I’m glad I learned these lessons, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish that I knew them originally.

Here are the eight things I wish I knew when I started my first business.

1. Things take longer than you ever imagine – Everything that involves people, resources, tasks and coordination takes longer than you ever think it should take to get done. It isn’t about developing patience, as patience doesn’t really help you keep driving things forward. It is about being realistic in your planning and management.

2. Items that do succeed tend to do so quickly – I have seen more successes — products, projects, employees, etc. — start strongly than slowly. The great salesperson or employee is great from the first day. The strong employees contribute immediately. The product that is going to be a hit gets strong, initial reactions from customers.

3. People will let you down – This will happen in ways you can’t even imagine when you start out. It can range from inattentiveness and laziness to fraud and theft. You’ll see it all from the people you meet along the way.  Your faith in people or belief in them can be a dangerous thing. As Pres. Reagan put it, “Trust, but verify.” Blind faith will get your butt kicked again and again. Love and reward your employees, but don’t have too much confidence in them.

4. Good employees are really hard to find – A solid worker isn’t just difficult to find, he or she is really difficult to find. And they’re the first ones to leave. The truth is that 10 percent of the world is competent – and you’re looking for that 10 percent in every hire.

It’s hard to do consistently. And that’s why organizations that do it with frequency have such strong reputations. If you want to build a business predicated largely on finding, getting and keeping quality employees to succeed, you should understand that premise will be your greatest risk. Finding a market and profitably selling to it (usually the greatest risks) will take a back seat. Better yet, pursue a business that needs some reasonable percentage of employees to be really good.

5. Your bad employees rarely quit – For one thing, poor performers aren’t really all that motivated to look, as that might involve actual performance. For another, no one else is likely to recruit them. Your marginal and weak employees are with you for life unless you move proactively. In many years of running businesses, the only time this wasn’t true was during the dot-com bubble. At that time, every idiot could get a 15 percent to 20 percent raise here in Northern Virginia by changing jobs. And they did. Aside from that blessed time, weak employees are your most “loyal.”

6. You will be lucky and unlucky -In the fullness of time, you will be assuredly lucky and unlucky. And sometimes, things that appear to be bad luck will turn out to be good — the weak salesperson who turned down your job offer — or vice versa. You will have ups and downs, and you will win or lose things that you don’t deserve to win or lose. You will be unlucky and lucky, you just may never know when.

7. Avoid the myth and misery of sunk cost – See the item above about succeeding quickly. Don’t chain yourself to the anchors you lovingly create in pursuit of success. If it isn’t working for you or the business, let it go. Understand that it isn’t good money after bad money, it is all bad money. Fire that salesperson, let that manager go, stop selling that product, get used to moving on. You’ll make a lot of decisions in running a business. Accept that not all of them will be right.

8. Fill the pipe, always fill the pipe – The difference between good times and bad times is often reflected in how many of the opportunities, customers, etc. end up closing successfully. In good times, more deals close from a normal opportunity pipeline. In bad times, less deals close from the pipeline. So, fill the pipeline of opportunities, and always look to add to the pipeline.   Deals don’t close for a million reasons. Your only defense is to fill the pipe.

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Defrosting The Fear Freezer


How to Get Rid of Fear as the Dominant Management Force?

The following article was written by John Bernard, Chairman and CEO of Mass Ingenuity. John is writing a book called Managing in the NOW that focuses on how to create a competitive advantage during the next business revolution. The Social Ecosystem is a critical part of making things happen, both NOW and in the future. That’s why we are all working closely with John Moore as he guides the evolving Social Ecosystem. I’ve worked with John for 8 years and he has a lot to say about management, leadership and the NOW System of Management. Here’s what John recently said about fear. We’d love to hear your thoughts too!

One of the nasty little realities of organizational life is that fear plays a predominant if not dominant role in controlling behavior. While it is tempting to say that fear is the natural order of things organizational, the reality is we pay a huge price by using it in terms of creativity and agility. Fear freezes our people’s creativity and engagement.

Deeply seated in our beliefs about the need for fear is a belief about the nature of human beings, a set of beliefs that are politically incorrect to mention. But if we are going to tackle fear, we need to get at why we use it, how we use it and what options do we have if we choose to move away from it.

The use of fear as the dominant force for guiding behavior is based on this belief: if our employees don’t fear job loss or some form of punishment, they will not do what we expect of them.

In more descriptive detail it looks like this:

  • If we don’t punish people for being late they will be late
  • If we don’t monitor their break time they will take advantage of us
  • If we let them take personal phone calls they will talk on the phone all day
  • If we let them surf the web they’ll spend the day on Facebook
  • If we don’t monitor their work they’ll do sloppy work
  • If we don’t stay on top of them they won’t get much done
  • If we let them talk to co-workers they’ll socialize all day long

To summarize, if we really believe fear is necessary to have a productive workforce, than we must believe that human beings are basically lazy, irresponsible creatures. Human nature is such that we can’t treat our employees like responsible adults, because they act like children.

You are probably bristling at this description and wanting to assure me that you are more enlightened than this. And the reality is you probably are.

I am not making this point as strongly as I am to try and put leaders down, I am saying it so painfully plainly because I think we need to reexamine how we lead and manage people.

Fear means we believe the people who work for us are not responsible adults, and yet evidence to the contrary is everywhere you look. I have met machinists who are scoutmasters, meter readers who are elders of their churches, pressmen who serve as county commissioners and letter carriers who are talented and prolific poets.

I am not saying there are not lazy people, because they are—but they represent a very small minority of our workforce. But the average every day worker in our organizations is anything but lazy. Follow them home and learn about their lives and you’ll find they’re great parents, reliable and generous neighbors, creative problem solvers and productive citizens.

If all this is true, then why do we use fear to drive behavior in our organizations? And why do even some of the best organizations still have a lot of fear in them?

Fear is a natural state in a world of hierarchy, in part because the people over us in our organization have one big, frightening stick: they can fire us and throw our lives into economic turmoil. So one driver of fear is our dependence upon our organizations for a paycheck that results in things we need: food, clothing, shelter, education, etc. This fear will always be there to some degree or another because we all worry about making ends meet.

But the other source of fear, the source we can address, is the fear created by how we run our organizations. Fear is driven by doubt. Doubt causes us to hesitate. When I don’t understand how things work I am at constant risk of stepping on an unsuspected landmine. That being the case, I keep my head down and don’t question things that don’t seem to make sense and I certainly would not make creative suggestions. I just do my job.

Fear based in doubt and confusion can be eliminated—or at the very least significantly reduced. And to be competitive, it’s essential we do everything we can to drive it out.

To eliminate fear, I suggest you make the following things VERY clear to everyone who works for you:

  1. Where the organization is going (it’s vision, goals, strategies)
  2. What you are counting on them to do (count means, measures that are clear)
  3. How to effectively solve problems they see (pick a common problem solving method and teach it to everyone)

We can never fully eliminate fear because it is part of the human condition, but we can defrost a huge portion of the fear freezer. That’s one of management’s most important jobs.

We pay a heavy price in terms of creativity and agility with fear, but we don’t have to if we remove the core doubts our people have about the organization and their role in it.

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