Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Do We Ignore "Best Practices?"

Why does management behavior often diverge from "broadly accepted" theory or best practice?

This question hit me over the head (once again) during a conversation with a talented, young CIO about a big project that was significantly late and over budget. Ask anyone experienced in the world of IT or change management, and they will tell you that the best way to pull off a big project is to break it up in to a series of small ones. Yet, this CIO decided to push forward with an approach that he knew was risky and likely to stumble and possibly fail. When I asked him why he pursued this course, he answered, "The other approach would have taken too much time." Of course, the perception of "too much time" is relative and based upon others' expectations. Right now, this CIO is taking "too much time" explaining to his board why he and his team are failing to deliver a better result.

Time and time again, I see leaders doing what they know they shouldn't.

Are we failing management theory and best practices or are they failing us?

Stephan Covey, author of the management classic, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, believes that "To know and not to do is not to know." It sounds right — but it must be wrong. You know what to do. Develop your people (but when's the last time someone developed you?). Influence others by listening and learning their motivators and personalities (but do you know the bonus objectives of the business partner who is driving you crazy?). Develop strategy in a participative fashion (but how many people can recite back the strategy you worked so hard to develop?). Foster momentum for change by impacting business performance (but did you measure the business results of the technology-enabled change you implemented last year?). Reduce risk by breaking big projects up in to a series of small ones. Design and configure technology so that processes and data can be shared across the enterprise (but how did your latest technology implementation help clean up the existing technology architecture?).

Maybe the difference between espoused theories and theories-in-use is driven by "the need to remain in unilateral control and the desire to suppress negative feelings." Wow — talk about half empty. My experience is that people come to work to do the very best job they can. More often than not, I see hard-working professionals compromising even when it hurts, working harder than other team members to get it right, and sharing credit when the glory is rightfully theirs.

Or possibly, the theory is right, but too simplistic to be of use in guiding actions in the complicated world in which we live. Maybe the theory "is at its core a collection of quasi-religious dicta on the virtue of being good at what you do, ensconced in a protective bubble of parables (otherwise known as case studies.)" So simple, it's simply useless (for example, business leaders need to sponsor IT-enabled projects or IT people need to get a seat at the strategy table).

So, you know what to do and, many times, you just don't do it. In reaction, consultants keep consulting. Coaches keep coaching. Writers keep writing. The same old thing — seven times in seven ways.

So, I turn to you — the real leadership experts. With your help, in future blogs, I am going to delve into why, many times, it's hard to do the "right" thing.

So fess up: What are you doing that you know you shouldn't? And, while you're at it, explain why what you are doing is right — even if your MBA professors would cringe in disbelief and deny your very existence.

~Susan Cramm

ArtfulMindBiz Comment:

While best practice is an amazing concept, it needs to be coupled with change management & best practice in 'up selling' these strategies to stakeholders. It seems that it is change 'we' fear most.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Are you ready to clean up your life?

The Clean Sweep Program...

...is a checklist of 100 items which, when completed, give one complete personal freedom. These 100 items are grouped in 4 areas of life with 25 in each group: Physical Environment, Well-being, Money and Relationships. These 4 areas are the cornerstone for a strong and healthy life and the program helps a person to clean up, restore and polish virtually every aspect of his/her life. The program takes between 6 - 24 months to complete.

The participant's goal is to get a score of 100 out of 100. The objective of the program is for the participant to get complete about 100 possible incompletions in their life. Incompletions are those physical, emotional or mental items, which are in some way not resolved in the current moment. Incompletions of any kind drain energy. That is, they require energy to live with, given it takes work to keep us whole when there is something in the space. To have full integrity (like a complete circle) is normal; the program gives one a way to get there in a natural way.

The Clean Sweep Program promises 3 things will happen as you increase your scores:

  1. You will have more energy and vitality. There is nothing like a clean space, full communication and self-responsibility to give one more energy.
  2. You will increase your scores just by being in the program. Once you go over the list of the 100 items, you'll find yourself handling some of these without even trying. Others take more work, but you will complete your way toward the score of 100.
  3. You will gain perspective on who you are, where you are and where you are going. When incompletions are handled, one can see what is and has been around them, including one's self. You will see situations as they really are, you'll discern what is going on with you and around you and you'll react less and choose more in your daily life. This higher perspective is essential in the process of designing one's life and it starts with the Clean Sweep Program.

There are 4 steps to completing the Clean Sweep™ Program.

  1. Answer each question. If true, check the box. Be rigorous; be a hard grader. If the statement is sometimes or usually true please DO NOT check the box until the statement is virtually always true for you. (No "credit" until it is really true!) If the statement does not apply to you, check the box. If the statement will never be true for you, check the box. And, you may change any statement to fit your situation better.
  2. The number of True boxes for each of the 4 sections will be totaled automatically for you as you complete each of the 4 sections. Write down these totals on a separate sheet of paper and then add them up. You know where your baseline or starting point lies.
  3. Keep playing until all boxes are filled in. You can do it! This process may take 30 or 360 days, but you can achieve a Clean Sweep! Use your coach or a friend to assist you. And check back once a year for maintenance.
Physical Environment
Your Physical Environment Total is :
Your Well-being Total is :


Your Money Total is :


Your Relationships Total is :

Add your totals from the four sections.

Initial scores for the first-time participant range, on average, between 30 - 70 points out of the 100 points possible. Most people who are "using" the program increase their scores between 2 and 6 points per month. Points are added more quickly at first, slowing down significantly after one has added 20 or so points. Major plateau areas are at 70-75, 85-90 and 95-100. Those last 5 or 10 are the ones which are most worth taking care of, given our egos are well entrenched among these incompletions. You want to take this program on with the intention of getting a 100.

Important Points:

  1. This program is part of establishing a Strong Personal Foundation. With this strong base, one can build a vibrant and attractive future. But it requires an investment.
  2. This program is a backdoor approach to personal growth, business success and happiness. Rather than chase goals or try to figure out one's life purpose, better to get the stuff out of the way so you can get the perspective you need to make better decisions and attract what you really want.
  3. One of the goals is to stop having problems, handle the incompletions you have currently and maintain a clean space, forever, so you can create as you were designed to. The Clean Sweep Program is the first step in that process.
CleanSweep Program (tm) (c) 1998 Coach U Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

10 Ways To Be Useful on Twitter

by Guest Poster on April 28, 2009 in Beginner's Guide

by Ryan Miller - Follow him @ryancmiller


With Twitter being the big buzz word all over the MSM, blogs and just about everywhere you look, it seems like everyone is jumping on the Twitter bandwagon. And that’s not a bad thing at all. But most people don’t know how to ‘use’ it or don’t understand how it can be a great tool meet new people, manage lots of conversations, track buzz, and help your business. While there’s no one RIGHT WAY to use Twitter, the ‘What Are You Doing’ moniker is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s 10 Ways To Be Useful On Twitter:

1. BE NICE - Its a big big world out there with so many cool people talking about every topic imaginable. If you like what someone is saying, Follow them. Just dug a good article they wrote on their blog? Leave a comment, or tell others about their post. Its just good manners. Likewise, if they Re-Tweet one of your messages or link up your blog post, give a shout out or just say thanks. It goes a long way.

2. The Art of the Retweet - Retweeting is really effective way to spread good information quickly. Really quickly. I’m a re-tweet-aholic. There’s so many great links I see from people I’m following that in many cases, the people that follow me would also dig. So you Retweet. It keeps the links flowing and helps good ideas get exposed to tons of people.

3. Bring It - Face it, we’re ALL super passionate about something, or an expert in some particular field. Maybe you know more than anyone else about vintage He-Man toys, are a beer enthusiast, or a travel guru. Maybe you are good at connecting people. Search.Twitter.com is your friend and mark my words, it’ll be one of the most valuable pages on the web very very soon. Plug in your search terms and ‘boom goes the dynamite.‘ You’ve got a real time stream of conversations happening on that topic. Engage. Help people. Share your knowledge. Then Repeat.

4. Be You - You’ve only got 140 characters to get your point across. That’s what makes Twitter a killer-app. You have to be brief. Get to the damn point. But at the same time, BE YOU. Tweet like you speak. Talk about things that matter to YOU. Your best asset is authenticity.

5. Don’t Spam - I’m sure you’ll be tempted to talk about all the great things your business can offer, or send a million notices of your upcoming event. But here’s the thing. No One Cares About Your Business (see Krista’s article for more info). Be authentic, show you’re knowledgeable, and put a link to your biz in your description on your profile. If you’ve got the chops and show it, when people are looking for the type of service you offer, you’ll be top of mind. Its all about the soft sell.

6. Have a Tool Box - Use apps like TweetDeck or Twirl or Tweetie to keep an eye on your conversations and groups of followers. Once things start growing they grow quick, so its important to build systems that will allow you to interact, track, and manage your Tweeps.

7. Integrate - Make sure your updates are posted in real time cross platform. Have them injected on your blog, make them automatically appear on your Facebook profile, and post your @handle at the end of comments you post. All this will help people engage with you regardless of where they found your content.

8. Hashtags are your friends - If you’re tweeting about an event or topic that’s trending, give it a #hashtag. It will help when searching for certain topics. #FollowFriday is a great weekly tag where you can suggest people others should follow.

9. Keep Your Profile Current - Make sure you have links and a good description of yourself in your profile. Potential followers and friends use this to get a sense of who you are, what you do, and use it as a way to find additional content you might be putting out.

10. Be Useful - Don’t overdo it. Don’t be That Guy. And don’t tell us incessantly about stuff we don’t care about. It doesn’t matter to me that every day you tweet out that you just picked up your kids from work, or are cooking dinner, or just woke up, or that you’re going to the bathroom. So stop it. Now. Everyone has something to bring to the table that’s engaging, fun, and can help the conversation. So Be Useful, and get to it.


[Post to Twitter] Tweet This

Related posts:

  1. 7 ‘Secret’ Ways To Use Twitter Search
  2. 10 Ways To Avoid Being Sued On Twitter
  3. 7 Ways to Be Worth Following on Twitter

Friday, August 14, 2009

The 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging

Bloggng Sins

If you write a blog, the bad news is you have millions of competitors. The good news is most of them suck.

The same problems come up again and again, keeping bloggers from building a real audience for what they have to say. So how about you? Do you commit one of these seven deadly sins with your content?

1. Selfishness

This is the big one.

Here’s how making money with social media works:

You give away information of value. Maybe it solves an important problem. Maybe it makes people laugh. Maybe it makes life a little less boring to millions who are getting through a day of cubicle hell. Whatever.

You give. And then tomorrow, you give some more. And the next day, you give more.

After a heck of a lot of giving, you make a terrific offer and you get to ask for something in return. And a small fraction of your audience will respond.

How can this possibly work? Because if what you give is valuable enough, it will attract lots and lots of people. It’s roughly the same amount of work to give terrific content to a million users as it is to share it with one.

But to each individual reader, you’re giving much more than you’re asking for.

This is why so many “get rich quick” schemes don’t work, and why they’re particularly ill-suited to social media. They’re about taking. They’re not about giving.

2. Sloth

Here’s why I don’t do much social media and content marketing consulting any more.

The 1,000th time I heard a client say, “But that sounds like a lot of work,” my brain exploded.

You know what’s a lot of work? Running a bricks and mortar business. 12 hour days, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Maybe after a couple of successful years you’ll let yourself take a weekend off.

By contrast, running a content-based business is a lot of fun, with wonderfully low overhead, few to no employees, not much stress (by comparison, anyway), and yes, less work.

Not no work. Less work.

3. Impatience

I don’t think there’s a blogger in the world (ok, except Leo) who hasn’t been frustrated at the three- or six-month mark when things just aren’t moving as fast as we want.

It takes some time to build an audience, and momentum is your friend. Most of us don’t take off like rockets. We build slowly at first, then the snowball starts to grow.

If you’re not finding the audience you want yet, ask yourself:

  • Is my topic actually interesting to someone other than my mom and my cat?
  • Do I give my readers more than I ask to receive from them?
  • Am I working on cultivating a network of like-minded bloggers, and supporting their work as much as I hope they’ll support mine?

If the answers are yes, you’ll need to cultivate a little patience. Maybe even a good dose of stubbornness. Trust me, I know it isn’t easy. Read The Dip to keep yourself motivated while you get there.

4. Lameness

Blogging isn’t like traditional advertising, where you spend more money to reach more eyeballs. In social media marketing, the currency you pay is being totally amazing.

If your content is lame, you don’t find an audience and your message doesn’t get through. If your content is fantastic, you’ll find a nice-sized audience who love what you have to say. Many of those folks will be happy to give you additional money to get more of what you offer, whether in the form of an ebook, consulting time, a comprehensive membership site, or just a snazzy t-shirt.

To paraphrase the sales and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, lame bloggers have skinny kids.

5. Identicality

Some may disagree, but I think it’s totally fine to start your blog wanting to be someone else. That might be because I started my first blog wanting to be Seth Godin.

I didn’t become Seth (the hairstyle wouldn’t suit me anyway), but I did find a wonderful audience and a niche in which I could make real contributions.

It’s great to be inspired by a big blogger. But in order to create your own audience and your own place in the blogging world, you’re going to have to find your own voice.

Why not instead be:

Maybe you’re Problogger for drag queens, or the Chris Brogan of healthcare.

Be inspired by others, but find your own place.

Interestingly, that place is often defined by the people you serve. Think more about them.

6. Irrelevance

It’s lovely to put your heart into your content, to infuse it with your personality, to come across as a real and likeable human being.

The game still ain’t about you, baby.

Some people are naturally attracted to topics that other people care about. Others aren’t. Don’t try to sell broccoli ice cream, even if that’s your favorite.

7. Boorishness

Boorishness usually comes from one of the other deadly sins. Selfishness being the most common.

You know that guy at the party who just refuses to shut up? The one who lectures you for 45 minutes about his Warcraft collectible figurines, without ever noticing that you’re desperately wishing you had a cyanide pill so you could quietly end it all?

Don’t be that guy.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

REALITY √ ƒor Health Insurance REFORM!

The White House, Washington

David Axelrod

Senior Adviser to the President

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies & distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security & stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.


David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President

P.S. We launched www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck this week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we've just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health Reform Office tackling a viral email head on.

Check it out:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

8 ways reform provides security & stability to those with or without coverage:
  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform
  1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, & abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  5. Reform will benefit(s) [to] small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other (safe) electronic payments that people make.
Learn more and get details:

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now
  1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
  2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times (3x) faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
  3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
  4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
  5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
  6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
  7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61% (and shrinking). An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
  8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans (15%) currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf
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