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13 posts from September 2014

How to understand accountability versus agency

In managing sales people, we have to examine their behavior separately from the limits and resources we've provided. Sales people can only be accountable within their span of agency.

Agency is an interesting term which is cropping up more and more in two arenas, employee management and storytelling. In these contexts, it means 'possessing the means of acting,' or more losely, power. Power, of course, is a loaded term, but think of the simple physical definition of 'being able to perform.' Agency is an important concept in storytelling because it's a required of both heroes and villains. Few people can root for a protagonist who is powerless or feel threatened by an impotent villain.

Accountability is meaningless without agency, but it's extracted from people all the time. And that's ineffective management: it happens but it doesn't lead to good outcomes.

LinkedIn: What do you mean by accountability?, 2014-Aug-1 by William Falquero

If you want someone to do something, give them the ability to act. Whether it is budget, tools, time or insights, you have to clearly define the call to action and provide the latitude to do. All too many great performers have been asked to complete stretch assignments without ever having a fraction of the resources to try to get the job done. Agency comes first.

Where resilience arises

I'm embarrassed to be such a quitter. I quit my last job, as I have many before. I have quit many entrepreneurial projects as well.

I do know what my mission is. I connect people through data. The people are important, and the data help us find and connect with them. If I am true to my mission I will find better ways to realize it.

Owner Magazine: How to Navigate the Tough Times, 2014-Aug-1 by Renee Fishman

When I’m going through a rough time, and all logic and reason tells me to quit and find a new venture, my mission is what speaks up. Mission doesn’t listen to reason and logic. An idea waits for its time, but a mission doesn’t wait. Mission hears only one voice: the voice of the heart. The voice saying: you are here to make a difference. Stay the course. Play your own game. Mission doesn’t give you a choice.

Finding a center where we can collect connections

Sometimes I feel run ragged from keeping up with all the different groups I belong to. But instinctively, I know that have a wide range of connections is vital to growth. Focus is important but limiting. We have to position ourselves to grow in new directions.

Edge Perpsectives: Where Do You Stand? The Shifting Ground of Strategy, 2014-Jul-29 by John Hagel

Where you’re positioned in expanding business ecosystems matters a lot. If you’re on the periphery, with few connections to players in the fragmented part of the economy, good luck.  If you’re at the center of a growing cluster of relationships where more and more participants are seeking to connect with you, now you’re in a great position to drive the economies of scale and scope that will make you one of the winners in concentrating parts of the economy.

How creatives can turn the weakness into power

I highly recommend this entire article by Ted Leonhardt on how creatives can stop caving in when they feel vulnerable and use the feeling to establish human connections. Twenty years ago, the accusation that I was "taking business too personally" nearly wrecked my life, until I realized it's an advantage to everyone that I take my work personally. My work is much better for it. We can stand up for the work, as well as for ourselves.

Dexigner: Worth It, Using Creative Vulnerability to Enhance Expertise, 2014-Jun-1 by Ted Leonhardt

Creatives are more open to their personal vulnerabilities. Our work is personal. Naturally, our self worth and identity are in question when fees or assignments are negotiated. We're more likely to give in when we should stand strong. You must prepare for those feelings....

[On speaking to an unfamiliar group]:

I could have adopted a power stance: dressed in Armani, ignored my butterflies and summoned my voice of authority. These are methods I've used to get past feeling anxious. Now I think of them as: denial dressed in a great suit faking loud. And I know that many in the audience see through them. I now know that admitting my stage fright, moving into my expertise, I'll speak comfortably. And although an expert, be accepted more readily because I showed that I too struggle with these issues.

Heath Brothers' most recent book compiles decision-making wisdom

I confess I haven't had time to read the most recent book from Chip and Dan Heath, Decisive, but I've looked at the workbook, and it's clear they've done a good job of compiling the latest wisdom around decision making from Daniel Kahneman and others. I'm going to read it soon, and let me know if you'd like to work through it together. 

USA Today: A witty guide to good decisions, 2013-Apr-18 by Kerry Hannon

Here's a sampling of the Heath's insightful advice.
• It's easier to spot a narrow frame from the outside–watch for it as a decision adviser. "Whether or Not" decisions should set off warning bells.
• Have the discipline to consider the opposite. To gather more trustworthy information, we can ask disconfirming questions. Law students: 'Who were the last three associates to leave the firm? What are they doing now? How can I contact them?"
• Common hiring error: We try to predict success via interviews. Should we nix the interview and offer a short-term consulting contract?