Another communication anti-pattern “Not invented here.”

Yesterday’s blog produced a lot of emails. Most of them were anti- my position that self promotion is good. In fact I think only two or three out of the 20+ in the end took my side.

  • “Self promoters are bad news. They are only interested in what they did.”
  • “A self promoter on your team will ruin your team.”

Those were the two most prevalent statements. First off to my mailers – absolutes are never right. By definition there are always points of failure within absolute statements. Plus the reality of self-promotion isn’t that the person is only thinking of themselves. A good self promoter is someone that makes sure their contribution is known. The only way to effectively do that is to in the end also promote the team. A good self-promoters thinks about promoting their team as much as if not more them they promote themselves.

PT Barnum and the carnival hawkers are responsible for some of the shift to negative for self promotion. Standing outside a tent selling something that a wasn’t real and b wasn’t what they were selling. But it is important to remember that in the end they were selling something to rip people off. A self-promoter isn’t trying to rip people off. They are trying to make sure they get credit for what they are doing.

In the end part of the problem and reality of self-promotion goes back to innovation. In my book about innovation I talked about the things that limit or contribute to the limitation of innovation. Many of those things  The reality is that in many cases self promoters are simply trying to make sure their messaging is heard.

For example when you create something new that doesn’t exist today you need to let other people know about it. That is self-promotion in the end. People see it that way as well, coming away from the meeting you call about the innovation with the taste of self-promotion in their mouths. Some of them are doubters and start working to undermine the self-promoter/innovator. Some of them are in the anti-pattern I call not invented here.

The not invented here anti-pattern can at times produce a positive reaction from the innovator.  The innovator in the end has a greater self-promotion voice than the the not invented here voice is. More often than not like the doubter anti-pattern the not invented here anti-pattern is a stifler not an enabler.

Interesting by the way to end the blog today. The emails I got from various people about how bad the self-promoters were came from people that I had pegged as either doubters or not invented here communicators a long time ago.

The greatest advice I ever got “believe in yourself.” In the end you are the only one who has to believe in yourself.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Talking about self-promotion, in the end it is a good thing done correctly…

There comes a time in your journey when you pause for a moment and look back. This by the way should never be done during the race, but rather in a moment of pause when the race is done. Not mind you an Ozymandias moment where in a great thundering voice you shout for all to hear “look upon my works ye mighty and despair.” No this is a moment to reflect.

Remember those no longer with you on the journey. See where you have been and in stopping share with those around you. There is no greater joy than the light of understanding appearing in the gaze of another human being. Lighting that fire of knowledge is beyond anything and everything.

Take a moment of you. First off, it is always ok to advertise yourself. To say I can do that. Or to say I have done that before. It’s ok in the end to make sure others know you are capable and can complete tasks. It is however frowned upon often. If you are a fan of yourself people will call you self-aggrandizing and consider you an egotist.

It is so wrong to think that, in the end. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion. People don’t do it enough. As long as you promote others, self-promotion is just the same. Now if you only promote yourself then its an issue. Self-promotion with no team aspect is bad. What however is worse than that is no self promotion but instead an expectation that you will be recognized and a bitterness if you aren’t. That in the end non-self promotion is worse.

So promote yourself. Just make sure you promote others when you do. My team is a great team. In fact make it a rule to start off prompting others and then yourself. I have had the misfortune of working with the non-self promoters in the past. People that don’t like it when you are a self-promoter because they expect others to notice. When you notice them they dance around like dancing bears with colored markers. For a moment reveling in the “its me, its me” glory.

Like project pirates and builders self-promotion is a pattern (praising themselves and every team they are on) and an anti-pattern (only praising themselves – taking glory from a team effort without sharing that glory in any form). Interestingly like builders there are other anti-patterns that the pattern evokes. In particular the anti-pattern to be concerned with is that of the doubter. The doubter does not in the end promote themselves. They believe their efforts should be rewarded period. If they are aren’t rewarded with outright praise or they are included in a self-promotion team praise, they respond with negativity.

Doubters live in a dark cloud that in the end results in others around them seeing only the negative view. They deride self-promoters and create a vicious cycle. Self-promoters promote themselves more in a negative environment. Doubters of course then doubt more, and it goes on forever.

Doubters, or as the common vernacular now calls them “haters” are a very dangerous team destroying anti-pattern. They are very good at what they do. But sadly part of what they do is in the end create a negative environment.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

In memory of Leonard Nimoy….

I became a trekkie at an early age, probably 8 years old. In my initial trekkie days I was for the most part a huge fan of William Shatner and Captain Kirk. I loved the show and all the characters and as I got older I began to realize the genius of Leonard Nimoy. The character, Mr. Spock conveying the essence of the struggle all humans have, maintain logic or explode with emotions.

His passing reminds us that life is to be led. He did so many things beyond Star Trek but we all know him as Mr. Spock. He was an unbelievable photographer. His name alone conveyed comedic and intellectual power, just his name. One of my favorite shows “The Big Bang Theory” features physicists that are more than enamored with the who and what of Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spoke.

I passed from Trekkie to science fiction fan in the mid-1970’s but wandered back into the Leonard Nimoy fan club with his narration of the “In Search of” and other documentaries of interesting and unusual thing.  I listened to his albums (he had several) and watched him in one of my favorite books brought to screen “Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World.” He was a gifted and talented man that will be missed.

If I could have things Mr. Spock carried, and things about his character made real I would love Mr. Spock’s tricorder. I wish I had his rational ability to remove emotion and only look at things as being logical or illogical. I will celebrate the love I got of changing the world via technology in part from the character you brought to life. Thank you for the gift.

There are paths we must walk -

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Positive traits of good leaders and a few examples of bad managers (in the end a bad manager is a bad leader)…

Based on my blog of yesterday and my post to Linkedin on basically why meetings go bad I was thinking it was time for a positive blog. I have over the years had some managers that were fantastic leaders. People that I value and trust to this day.

I also had the opportunity to work with great leaders although I didn’t report to them directly I learned much from them over the years. Leadership is all about making sure the person you are talking to knows you have value.

The negative impact of that is pretty significant. I once had a boss you called me into his office and told me that someone had reported X had happened during a customer event. X never happened, no one else that was there ever reported it, and I told my boss that. He determined that the person in question was right and that the 40 or so other people involved were just backing me because they liked me. He even promoted the other person. I learned a valuable lesson from that boss, never trust someone with ambition. They both, the person who lied and the boss that let him had ambition. I wonder now if they are happy knowing that they got to the top by hurting others. Because if they fall no one is going to catch them.

Enough negative as I said the primary focus is positive today. Things I’ve learned from great leaders.

  1. The first positive lesson I learned from a boss is own your mistakes. If you make a mistake then you need to step up and say in fact I made a mistake.
  2. The second positive lesson I learned from a great leader is don’t sweat the small stuff. I let the dishonesty of my boss bug me for years. In the end it wasn’t worth it. That manager was and is a manager not a leader.
  3. The third positive lesson I learned from a great leader is kindness. Make sure when you lead people that they know you are connected. Not just to them but to what they are doing. That you understand that people have a value. That value isn’t just what they know it is the ethics and morality in which they operate.
  4. I learned that you have to meet people where they are. Success is an interesting problem. It is a goal we all have but it is also something that we all fear. We don’t want to fail. So be aware of that when considering that rule number one, can cause people to have to release their desire for success.
  5. I learned that glory must be shared. In the end it is easy to seek personal glory – I know I was guilty of that in the past. But you have to be willing to reach out and share that glory with all who helped the team get there. Life is a team game and there is no I in team.
  6. Be careful – great leaders have loyal followers. But if you don’t effectively lead those followers you will in the end destroy your credibility as a leader. The story told in the beginning of this blog destroyed my belief in that manager forever. He and of course the person whose path included lying to get a job.
  7. People are human. Be human.

Just a few positive lesson’s I’ve learned from great leaders. I had a few over the years. One who was my second principal. One who was my boss in my helpdesk days. One who was my first IT boss. My first boss at Microsoft and my first boss in Microsoft Columbus Ohio (the rest of the managers I had in Ohio were terrible.). The list goes on. Bad bosses don’t realize they are bad. They don’t realize in the end what they cost the team. Leaders make good managers because they understand the impact on the team. They understand that it isn’t an I sport. As I talked about yesterday and as I talked about today – the impact of a bad manager is well bad. The value of a good leaders can move mountains.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

A hard fought personal lesson learned…

Do you fit the mold? I once interviewed for a job that I proved the need for, designed the team for and ultimately delivered already in the field. After the interviews they selected someone else and told me “I wasn’t strategic.” My confidence personally and professional dropped through the floor. I later joined the team because frankly it was the best place for my skills. While on the team I built everything I had laid out in my less than strategic interview.

I found out from other people that the role I was interviewing for had been selected before the Interviews even started and they had given me an interview because I had built the framework on which the team would exist.

It has however for the past 5 years been a motivator for me. You cannot in the end be strategic when the deck is stacked against you. But you can learn from the what and how of the deck being stacked. In the end I was right. There was a huge need for the team I designed. But that team isn’t there anymore. I had built it into a 3 year window. I knew that was all they would need. Because frankly three years before that a bunch of us had created the market. In the end strategy is seeing the big picture.

The big picture in the end is never today.

Its about the messaging delivered yesterday and the messaging delivered today resulting in the customer feeling like they have to move forward with that messaging tomorrow.

What I learned and it was hard won, was that strategy means what the person talking to you thinks it means not what it may or may not mean to everyone else. When the goal is changing things around, then coming in as the existing system won’t get you a strategic vote.

Like I said it shook my confidence but in the end I moved on (literally as I no longer work for that company).

You have to in the end move on. It can be really hard to move on but in the end it is the best thing you can do. So I share this today not as a bitter reminder of getting kicked in the teeth but rather as a lesson learned about hob nailed boots. There is in the end a reason why people aren’t liked. There is a reason why people have agendas.

Do the best you can. And let the rest fall away from you.

My grandfather always told me to look before I leaped. I always remember that but I don’t always do that. This is a great example of my leaping before looking. In the end I should have paid attention to those around me telling me the fix was in.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Why do negative starts derail meetings?

A negative start to a meeting has such an impact not only on the meeting but on the rest of the day. I have come recently to realize that its important to keep meetings moving forward without the negative. Not in the end that it is easy to shift negative meetings to the right but it is important to try.

In my book Transitional Services I published a number of patterns and anti-patterns for both communication and meetings. I’ve been sharing those on Linkedin as well (one at a time). I’ve posted the builder which is a pattern and an anti-pattern and the project pirate that can in the end be both a pattern and an anti-pattern but is most likely to be an anti-pattern. I have also posted one of my personal favorites the dancing bears anti-pattern. There are many more to come on linked in.

The problem as discussed in my book is that each of these types of personalities change the system that is your meeting. The inputs from the various types of patterns and anti-patterns you have in your meeting effectively can create the best meeting ever or one where everyone sits in the room wondering why am I here?

There in lies the problem. Why am I here is a bad question to be asked in a meeting. First off the meeting has really gone off the rails if someone says it out loud. Its bad if people are thinking it as well. Over the course of my career I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in that I’ve felt that way. Years ago I had a boss that had team meetings that by the end of the meeting every time I was counting how many hours were wasted and how much that time actually cost.

Cost implies loss and that is the intent. If you have a meeting where nothing comes of it, or worse people walk out with the why was I there attitude in the end the meeting is a loss. The definition of a meeting is where people come together. In the modern world we’ve expanded this to include remote professionals via web meetings and telephone.

Two quick things on the modern meeting:

  1. You have to run a telephone meeting differently than an in-person meeting. I am sure there is another pattern and anti-pattern in here. A meeting facilitator that doesn’t in the end facilitate the meeting.
  2. Meetings must begin and end on time.

Most meetings have soft beginnings. They start roughly 2-3 minutes after the appointed time. That’s acceptable only because if you include people on the phone there is that period of people connecting to the meeting and announcing themselves.

If however you aren’t done at the appointed time you have to ask people – can we continue? It’s the most critical part of meetings to consider the value of the time of all people involved. Beyond the consideration of ending on time is showing up on time. As a participant if you arrive late, you need to blend into the existing meeting and catch up on what was missed via notes or some other form of communication. If you force the meeting to reset or attempt to seize control of the meeting after arriving late you are in effect a project pirate.

Running an effective meeting means that there is consensus, output and notes that everyone can review. If you run effective meetings, people are less likely to show up late, Project Pirates, Dancing Bears and other bad meeting behaviors tend to fade away.

It is in the end easier said than done.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

A few random thoughts, ideas and well random…

For some reason this morning I am staring at the flashing cursor and my mind is a complete blank. There are thoughts running through my head but none of them are strong enough for a blog. Perhaps it’s a random thought day.

Random things popping into my head…

  • I saw a post yesterday saying I am over the Internet of things. My response to that was: It really isn’t the Internet of things it’s the Internet of connections.
  • I was reading the State of Maryland aggressive driving sign. Then I had to stop reading because four people cut me off.
  • Why is HOV enforcement random? Just sit there every day for a month and people will stop using the HOV lane that shouldn’t use the HOV lane. Seriously. Do something 27 times and event he most aggressive adults will learn not to do that.
  • I love Thai Food.
  • My new car glows when you get home at night and put it into the garage. My sons say it doesn’t and that my thinking it does is an LSD Flashback.
  • My dog hates laser pointers. He will chase the dot for hours. Then he glares at me when it stops. I wish I could have that level of innocent fun.
  • Weather forecasters in the DC are are 1 for their last 3 winter storms. Perhaps we should merge Major League Baseball and weather prognostication into a single thing. Batting .330 is a pretty good average against big league pitchers.
  • Coffee like water takes the path of least resistance. Why is that always the front of my shirt?
  • I read recently that a person plays chess with their kids and asks up front do you want to play the teaching way or straight. With the teaching way the person helps them with each move. Seriously? Why would you do that? Tell your children up front that you won’t play down to them. Teach them that competition is honorable. That you compete within the rules to the best of your ability. That way when you win, you earned it. Playing down to children teaches them that competition is a calculated effort.
  • I find it very hard to watch IU Basketball live now. I don’t like the inconsistency with which the team has played the past two years. Even when the talent wasn’t there in the past, the team still played consistently.
  • I love Mike and Mike on ESPN radio. It’s a great way to start every day.
  • I still want to start a 3d parts store. I think the ones that have been started so far are charging too much. I just can’t seem to finish the business plan.
  • For most of the past 25 years I’ve been involved in IT. I find myself interested in talking to people that are just starting out. I love mentoring and guiding people. I get so much energy from the fresh way younger people look at the IT infrastructure around us.
  • For Stop and Go traffic to be real there has to be the occasional go.
  • In the DC area most of the cars seem to go 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. It makes driving a smart car a little harder. I can stay at 60 no problem, but getting there takes me a little longer.
  • What happened to the rule 10 miles per hour = one car length. When I have one or two car lengths between me and the car in front of me (driving safely) I have five people cut into that space. The space isn’t for people to cut in, its to prevent an accident.

Like I said a massive amount of random today. I guess sometimes if the path out of my brain is clogged I end up with lots of bits and pieces of thoughts that aren’t in the end fully baked.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow