Sunday, March 11, 2018

Visitors to Weird Management

Hello and Welcome to Weird Management 2018

I started this Blog ten years ago as a way to engage business management students at Eastern Connecticut State University. For four years as adjunct faculty my goal was to take theory and  provide students additional context to make sense of management.  Today my title has shifted from instructor to Organizational Development consultant. I specialize in change management as I have my entire career. Change Management remains completely aligned to this Blog title. Change Management is wildly weird. As an increasingly emerging discipline that practitioners like myself attempt to market, practice, deploy, imbed and evangelize continuously, it remains a never ending battle to manage change effectively.

Why you may be asking? There are lots of variables that make it a battle - moving parts -  and I'll capture a few "moving parts" below:

1. Change is needed too quickly - Many organizations are trying to catch up with technology and the desires and needs of their customers. Organizations expect employees to learn many new technologies, process and systems at lightning speed. And often before they've actually had time to sustain the change, the technology, process or systems they have become obsolete or shifted to something else.

2. Change is not measured -  Change behaviors need to be measured to check if the technology, process, or systems are being accurately and/or effectively utilized as planned or expected. Sometimes it's not entirely known what those behaviors need to be because of the speed at which change is needed. We know change takes time especially when there are a lot of reasons to keep people from adopting them.

3. Change needs people who are messy - While leaders expect employees to do what they are told and adopt the changes that are needed they often don't, can't or won't. For a myriad of reasons people don't change and often the time isn't taken to understand what employees need to change. It's never easy.

4. Trust fuels change but often absent - Leaders need to trust employees to be autonomous and employees need to trust the leaders to lead. This all takes continuous and open communication - no matter the organizational size, structure, hierarchy communication generally fails. It's hard and often left to a small group of communicators to get the word out who don't have the details. Leaders are torn between keeping complex change messages to themselves to running themselves ragged in town halls, team meetings, lunch and learns, and walk arounds.

In my next blog I'll write about strategies for change that can help address these four factors.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Play it cool!

I always come away a complete mess after cleaning my kitchen, bathroom or washing the car or my dog. My shirt  sleeves will be soaked, I'll have a smudge of grim on my cheek, sweat dripping down my temples, and I'll be completely worn out. I throw myself into my work - any work. While this is okay in housework since it goes relatively unnoticed, this kind of behavior is not rewarded in the business world. In fact, I would say it's generally discouraged: "Don't work so hard, you're making the rest of us look bad!" Ironic isn't it? Or is it. Doing more with little effort seems to be a logical professional strategy. To look like "Cool Hand Luke" in a stressful environment is important in a competitive situation when the competitors are other co-workers. Those cool customers who are able to pull this off are often rewarded with advancement and accolades. Whether they actually did the work that they get credit for doesn't really matter - as long as it got done under their watch.  

I've encountered this more times than I care to recall and for me, personally, it has prevented further advancement and much internal angst. And I know it's because I'm seen running around, with my sleeves rolled up and sweat dripping down my face (literally and figuratively). I don't know why I feel like I have to do this but it probably has something to do with how I was brought up... if you aren't seen running your butt off, then you aren't working hard enough. Somehow I got this subliminal message through the years. This is really funny because I am always touting the importance of doing more with less (an important management strategy) but I still remain in the position of feeling like I have to run my butt off to impress and get noticed by others. It never works and the older I get, the harder it is to do. My knees can't take it. 

So check your brow at the end of the day, if you've been sweating - and not because of an hour on the treadmill - you probably need to rethink your work approach. I know I did. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Everything seems impossible until it's done - Nelson Mandela

WM #21:
This last week I heard a great quote from a project manager who I work with who used it to kick off an important meeting:  "Everything seems impossible until it's done." This Nelson Mandela quote provides a real perspective for anyone who has or plans to finish something that may have seemed insurmountable. For example, I thought I would NEVER finish my doctorate but I've done it. Today, I helped a good friend walk through her final dissertation defense. I defended my dissertation last September while preparing to move to a new job in Illinois leaving my two adult children behind to fend for themselves, a house, a dog & cat, and a husband in Afghanistan. My friend Wanda - an amazing woman who has provided me more support that I can even come close to thanking her for or chronicling in any way - reflected back with me on this path of cerebral and academic agony. It's a long road and anyone who thinks, or is exploring, the PhD path - please talk to people who has just finished to understand the pain level and whether you REALLY are prepared for the journey. For us it seems worth it. Some perspectives though: What does "done" mean to you? Not always does done actually mean what you think. Like a marathon or finishing a degree which both have an end point:  the race ends at 26.2 or a diploma is collected. But sometimes this isn't necessarily done. I ran a marathon ONCE then never ran again. The training and the race completely burned me out of enjoying running. It takes great dedication and time to keep it up. With my dissertation I now have a mountain of debt and  am not working at the level I should be. A PhD is not respected in the non-academic world as it should be. I will still have to cultivate this degree with writing, researching, and networking. So I am not done. When will I be done? Probably the day I push up daisies.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

WM #20 Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Do you ever wonder what happens to those great ideas that you think of but never do anything about?  They get acted on by those who have the incentive and initiative to do something about it (and likely the revenue). I had come up with this great idea of a sock of the month club a few months ago (I wrote about it on this blog under Brilliant Ideas) and someone has already done it. Two guys from Austin Texas did it but their model needs some serious improvements! See their site Sock of the Month club. For $11 you can get a single pair of stripped, Italian, polka dotted, and mustachioed pair of socks. It's brilliant that they came up with this idea for those guys who bravely wear socks with their sandals or to compliment a cool seersucker suit and loafers. Yet, what is really needed is a good pair of socks for us gals to accommodate our obsession with shoes (and our inability to keep a paired set of socks longer than six months). I don't know about you but I need socks tailored (long, short, thin, thick, vibrant, seasonal, etc.) to my shoe variety (ridding boots, ballet shoes, clogs, tennis shoes). Now that would be a sock of the month club I could get in to. 

Now what does this have to do with management? Sometimes we have to make things better in management. While others blaze a path of industry and innovation, sometimes it is up to others to bravely jump onto those tracks then veer off breaking new ground into new territory unknown by their predecessors. Technology companies are constantly adapting and mimicing each other in hopes to improve upon a good idea (e.g., Google maps, Wikipedia, Netflix). Customers always want choices and improvements upon the products and services that they love. So watch out Sock of the Month guys, while your idea is good it misses a whole demographic!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I'm moving to Illinois.

"Who moves TO the Mid West instead of away from it!" I contemplated while traversing through corn fields and really straight freeways. I'm moving from Connecticut to Illinois this month.

This will be the first time that I have ever moved without my family and specifically for a career that is directly related to just me and not my husband whose career I have supporting and following  for over 25 years; it's a very strange feeling. I'm leaving behind my two grown daughters, a 15 month grandson, a 10 year old mutt, a whiny grey cat, a vast collection of CDs and DVDs, and a house. The move and the feeling of abandoning my family (my husband is in Afghanistan and will return home to Illinois in February) is overwhelming and leaves me with a huge lump in my throat. Yet paradoxically I am excited for this change that gives me an opportunity to do something for my career that could be both pivotal and significant.

Many people are fearful of change and often avoid anything this drastic. For me this is a chance to do something that is both a challenge and an opportunity to skills and expertise in a different and new setting. Also, to brush myself off of a tough couple of years that have seriously drained my self-esteem and confidence. While I'm well educated, smart, and well-versed in management as well as communication, change, strategy the opportunities in Connecticut were limited; it's a tough place to get accepted professionally. I wasn't able to get a full-time permanent job. I'm hoping Illinois will be different and, already, I get the sense it is.

So here's to a new path and some interesting challenges living in the heart of America!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WM #18 : Accountability

The Hartford Courant is reporting on a student from Trinity College who went to Costa Rica to compete in a Triathlon a few months ago over spring break. While his experience was no less then spectacular and rewarding to run, swim, and ride in a lush tropical clime, it ended on a low note when he struck a bunch of pedestrians outside a bus station on his way to the airport. This 22 year old college senior proceeded to experience what it is like for many Americans to have their inalienable rights ignored and essential be nonexistent; essentially the assumption that we are innocent until proven guilty.

While I understand the pain and anguish of his parents waiting state side for their son to deal with this situation, it was an incredible "teachable moment" for this young man. An opportunity to build character and recognize that humility is a tool as well as a trait in these types of situations. He was a guest in that country as we all are when we visit as tourists or for employment on foreign soil. Once we learn this within our very transient society, the better equipped we will be for these types of tragedies. The young man should have bucked up and taken his punishment, paid whatever bribes, fines were required with great relish and joy, sat in a jail cell, or waited for his time in court in some cheap hotel until justice was served in THAT country. While painful and probably wrought with inexplicable inconsistencies, he needed to do it! Instead, he snuck out of the country (allegedly under the recommendation of the US State Department) and proceeded back to Massachusetts to a hero's welcome.

What kind of messages are we sending about accountability?

 TV News Report - Trinity College Student Kept in Costa Rica

Thursday, February 9, 2012

WM #17 - Brilliant Ideas

Where does all the time go? I realized today I have failed to post anything since November. I get all of these great (and weird) ideas/thoughts and  forget to spend any time actually sharing them. Do you ever wonder how many brilliant (and not so brilliant) ideas are  lost because they are failed to acted on? Our planet is occupied by 7 BILLION people and likely the collection of brilliant ideas that could have been may have solved all of our worldly woes. People are afraid to come up with new ideas because of the fear of failure. And it's hard work trying to come up with ways to implement a new idea. For example, I wish there was a "sock-of-the-month club." I came up with this idea and think it would solve this huge issue for me - a big bag of mismatched socks. It drives me crazy. And I have to wear socks that match my shoes (thin vs. thick), my pants (black, blue, gray, beige, tan), season (wool, polyester blend, cotton blend, festive) and activity (hiking, walking, running, bicycling, yoga). I buy socks regularly because of this dilemma and I hate it. So a sock-of- the month club - using the Netflix model -enables customers to send back socks that are mismatched, check your queue for the socks that you'd like to wear for that month and what you need and continually have regular pairs of socks coming in for you and your family. BRILLIANT, right? My husband says I'm weird but that's only because he wears the same damn socks every day and all of his match.

Okay, so now you are asking, "Well Miss Smartypants, why don't you go out and do it." Here is a short list of why not (in no particular order):
1) Who manufactures the socks?
2) Would I go to existing sock manufacturers or partner with a single sock maker?
3) Web site design that is user friendly and customer friendly.
4) How much money would I need to start?
5) Write a business plan (duh, I'm a business teacher)
6) Could I do this out of my home?
7) Who would I need to hire to ensure fast and efficient delivery?
8) Am I cut out to be an entrepreneur?
9) Can I get my daughters to help me?
10) How do I make sure it is successful?

See what I mean - too much to think about. I think I'll just go buy some new socks.