Thursday, September 1, 2016

Function (and the dysfunctional organization)

Here's how you end up with a bully in a position of authority at an organization:
Someone points out that the bully is a real problem. And the boss says, "I know he's a bully, but he's really productive and we can't afford to replace him."
And here's how you end up with a naysayer, or a toxic co-worker:
Someone points out that people are afraid to work with this person. And the boss says, "I know, but we really need her expertise."
And, person by person, trait by trait, we build a broken organization because we believe that function trumps cooperation, inspiration and care.
Until it doesn't, and then, all we've got left is a mess.
The negative people who do nothing functional are an easy decision. It's the little compromises around people who seem to add value that corrupt what we seek to create.
Build a team of people who work together, who care and who learn and you'll end up with the organization you deserve. Build the opposite and you also get what you deserve.
Function is never an excuse for a dysfunctional organization, because we get the organization we compromise for.

- Seth Godin

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tribes - more of Seth Godin

I recently started reading through Seth Godin's book, Tribes. He writes a lot of great material, (Linchpin being one of my favorite) and this one is no different.

Here is what he says about the basics of tribes:

"As we saw earlier, it takes only two things to turn a group of people into a tribe:
A shared interest
A way to communicate

The communication can be one of four kinds:
Leader to tribe
Tribe to leader
Tribe member to tribe member
Tribe member to outsider

So a leader can help increase the effectiveness of the tribe and it's members by:
Transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change;
Providing tools to allow members to tighten their communications; and
Leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members."

Succinct. As usual.

So who is your tribe? Who are you leading and influencing?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Are you 'Anti-business'?

I am 'anti-business', you might be too

A hundred and fifty years ago, when people finally began organizing to eliminate child labor in American factories, they were called anti-business. There was no way, the owners complained, that they could make a living if they couldn’t employ ultra-cheap labor. In retrospect, I think businesses are glad that kids go to school--educated workers make better consumers (and citizens).

Fifty years ago, when people realized how much damage was being done by factories poisoning our rivers, those supporting the regulations to clean up the water supply were called anti-business. Companies argued that they’d never be able to efficiently produce while reducing their effluent. Today, I think most capitalists would agree that the benefits of having clean air and water more than make up for what it costs to create a place people want to live—the places that haven't cleaned up are rushing to catch up, because what destroys health also destroys productivity and markets. (And it's a good idea).

When the bars and restaurants went non-smoking in New York a decade ago, angry trade organizations predicted the death knell of their industry. It turns out the opposite happened.

The term anti-business actually seems to mean, “against short-term waste, harmful side effects and selfish shortcuts.” Direct marketers were aghast when people started speaking out against spam, but of course, in the long run, ethical direct marketers came out ahead. 

If anti-business means supporting a structure that builds a foundation where more people can flourish over time, then sign me up.

A more interesting conversation, given how thoroughly intertwined business and social issues are, is whether someone is short-term or long-term. Not all long-term ideas are good ones, not all of them work, but it makes no sense to confuse them with the label of anti-business.

Successful businesses tend to be in favor of the status quo (they are, after all, successful and change is a threat) perhaps with a few fewer regulations just for kicks. But almost no serious businessperson is suggesting that we roll back the 'anti-business' improvements to the status quo of 1890.

It often seems like standing up for dignity, humanity and respect for those without as much power is called anti-business. And yet it turns out that the long-term benefit for businesses is that they are able to operate in a more stable, civilized, sophisticated marketplace.

It’s pretty easy to go back to a completely self-regulated, selfishly focused, Ayn-Randian cut-throat short-term world. But I don’t think you’d want to live there.

-Seth Godin

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Companies Don't Care About You

"Brands don't care about you...

Institutions don't care about you either.

The only people who are able to care about you are people.

The question, then, is this institution owned and organized and run by people who will allow the people who work there to care?

Generally, the answer is 'no', because caring is unpredictable, hard to command and regulate and sometimes expensive in the short run.

What a shame."

-via Seth Godin @

Sunday, March 29, 2015

See how fast a small expense can add up . . .

To calculate a weekly expense compounded over ten years, multiply the price by 752.
For a monthly expense, multiply by 173

Courtesy of Mr. Money Mustache @


“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” 
― Theodore Roosevelt,

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hard Work

"To bring oneself to a frame of mind and to the proper energy to accomplish things that require plain hard work continuously is the one big battle that everyone has. When this battle is won for all time, then everything is easy.”

Thomas A. Buckner

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pass it on

The forcible entry training I was able to learn on Monday have already multiplied. I was able to teach my crew yesterday the same tricks I just learned myself.

And special thanks to YouTube. What can't you learn with a little motivation and a couple mouse clicks?

Fight it, or an opportunity to grow?

I can attest to the truth below - it is more productive to view difficult circumstances as a chance to learn. Becoming negative doesn't achieve anything other festering a contagious, poor attitude that affects everyone around you.  

I've experienced the effects of kicking and screaming at injustice. But I've also known the inner satisfaction of telling myself, "I don't deserve this, but I'm stronger because of it."

"Unfair things happen. You might be diagnosed with a disease, demoted for a mistake you didn't make, convicted of a crime you didn't commit. The ref might make a bad call, an agreement might be abrogated, a partner might let you down.
Our instinct is to fight these unfairnesses, to succumb if there's no choice, but to go down kicking and screaming. We want to make it clear that we won't accept injustice easily, we want to teach the system a lesson, we want them to know that we're not a pushover.
But will it change the situation? Will the diagnosis be changed, the outcome of the call be any different?
What if, instead, we went at it singing and dancing? What if we walked into our four-year prison sentence determined to learn more, do more and contribute more than anyone had ever dreamed? What if we saw the derailment of one path as the opportunity to grow or to invent or to find another path?
This is incredibly difficult work, but it seems far better than the alternative."
- Seth Godin