30 11 2016

“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

There are 3 kinds of decision makers.  First, you have the naval gazers (many of you Googled that last month).  These are the people who are asked to come up with a plan, and then they execute it like the man in the cartoon below.  Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim and they never pull the trigger because they’re worried about either the consequences of failure, or are afraid that they don’t know what they don’t know.  The second are the ones that go off half-cocked (maybe the bully comparison from above works here).  They get started without thinking.  They are more like Ready, Fire, (oh, drat), Aim,  and try to fix their mistake by changing what they executed.  That may mean stopping everything and re-training, or it may be an instant fail, in those situations where you only had one chance to get it right.

Leaders, try being the third type… The corageous ones who go ready, aim carefully, and then fire.  Think about as many consequences and obstacles, have a plan for dealing with them, then pull the trigger.  You may not hit the target on the first try, but you’ll be going in a good enough direction that someone will be able to give you the guidance to shift your aim just a bit closer to success.  A car that is parked can’t get anywhere (the first type) and a car that drives off a bridge can’t get any further (the second type).  A car that drifts a little to the right or the left is much more likely to make it to it’s destination.

Speaking of fire…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com


“Team” Executive Decisions

25 07 2016

“If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes.” ~ Ross Perot

There’s something to be said about making an “executive decision” and just moving on with the consequences of the decision.  I’m tempted to say that you that the older you get, the more likely you’ll be to be correct in your decision (mistakes create experience, which makes wisdom, eventually), but I can’t say that.  The reason for that doubt is that I’ve seen too many instances of the younger generation having insights into some decision that I don’t have.  Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe it’s experience in technology and what it can do, or maybe it’s just luck.  🙂

The point, leaders, is that you should use all of your available resources to make a decision.  You should ask, and gather as much information as you can – IF you have the luxury of time.  Whether it’s because your time is up, or because you have to decide or lose for a lack of a decision, at some point, dear leaders, the decision is yours to make.  If you have the luxury of a committee to help you, then by all means, use it.  But sometimes, it’s time to pull the trigger, and deal with the consequences.

Speaking of snakes…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

“No” is never an acceptable answer.

9 07 2015

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect. ~ Steven Wright

I’m going to have a real hard time coming up with some leadership wisdom to pull from this quote.  That being said, it made me laugh out loud, and why should I deny you folks the opportunity of a good laugh at the beginning of your workday.

And now, to stretch the quote into something salvagable… Despite the potential threat of death, be curious in the workplace J.  Ask your leader the WHY behind changes in process or the decisions being made.  As a leader yourself, take the time to explain the thinking behind your own decisions, so your team can get behind you.  As always, when you can say Yes to a request from your team, do so.  “No” is never an acceptable answer for any of my leaders to give.  That being said, “No, and here’s why…” is an awesome answer when you can’t say yes.

Speaking of being a suspect…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

Danger is real… fear is a choice

31 03 2014

“Laughter and Tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.  I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”  ~Kurt Vonnegut

My Economics teacher had a favorite saying regarding supply & demand curves.  He’d say “shift happens” (as demands in supply and/or demand move the price point).

Management is gray, and it’s our job to make the best decision in the absence of a training manual telling us what to do.  Sometimes you’ll be wrong.  If you get all wrapped up in why you were wrong, you’re going to shed a lot of tears.  Instead, laugh at yourself, share the mistake with others so they don’t do the same thing, and move on.  Don’t fear making the next decision.  Or, as Will Smith said in a recent movie, “Don’t misunderstand me.  Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”  So, be as cautious as needed based on the known risks in the situation.  Gather as much information as you need to in order to mitigate the danger, then make the call and move on.

Speaking of laughter…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

The light at the end of the tunnel…

28 01 2014

“To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.” ~Lao Tzu

 As I try to get up to speed in this new job, many of you have heard me say “I don’t understand”, or, more embarrassingly, asking stupid questions (yes, there ARE stupid questions).  J  I’ve appreciated your patience as I learn the ropes.  Where not understanding becomes a real problem is when decisions are made without seeing the big picture, and the impact that decision will have on other areas. 

 There are plenty of unintended negative consequences of decisions made with good intentions.  Don’t be embarrassed about what you don’t know.  Ask questions, seek counsel, and you’ll reduce the risk of making that painful blunder.  And when you see your leader about to make a big mistake, proactively reach out and be sure that they’ve thought through the potential train wreck.  Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. 

 Speaking of defect…



Rubes Cartoons used with permission.  www.rubescartoons.com

Debates over nothing of substance

18 06 2013

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” ~Margaret Thatcher


On the way in to work yesterday, I got my weekly fix of “nonsense at work”, a feature of the Richmond NPR station.  The 6/17 one should be posted soon at the link below, but basically, James Macintosh was talking about people in the board room who want to debate endlessly on trivial issues (like what color to paint the lobby).  He went on to say that these same people are the ones that shut up and look to the real leader in the room when the stuff hits the fan (like customer service issues, bad press, IT crashes, etc.).  His point is that they don’t have any genuine expertise in the industry, so they bow to the experts when something real is on the line, but they have to make themselves feel better, or useful, when there are trivial issues that they have an opinion on.  The next time you’re in a meeting where someone is making a 5 minute conversation out of a 5 second decision, understand their motivation.  You can either let them have the color they want, or get them off the team, if they don’t have value. 

 As many of you know, I have a 10 minute screen saver on my PC that buzzes when 10 minutes have hit.  If we’ve spent 10 minutes talking about something fun, but not business critical, and the buzzer goes off, that’s my trigger to steer the conversation to more productive purposes.  

 This is my last comic for a week.  I’m taking my family on vacation.  If you feel the incredible urge to have some leadership Kumbaya for breakfast from someone with my name, then listen to James’s audio blogs at nonsense at work: http://www.nonsenseatwork.com/Radio.htm

 And speaking of the “attack” line in the quote… 


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com