Mission vs. purpose: the what and why of doing what we do

mission1Have you ever repeated a phrase so often that you find you’ve forgotten what it means?  In a group meeting this week, I referred to a company’s “mission” using a phrase that I’ve repeated for years.  A new member of the group challenged me and threw me off balance.  What I was really referring to was the company’s purpose.

Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why” and a speaker whose TED talk is among the most watched in history (over 41 million views), Continue reading “Mission vs. purpose: the what and why of doing what we do”

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HR and AI: how technology is taking over Talent Management

talent-management-systemRegular readers know that I am “old school.” As a hiring manager, I focused on finding talent not hiring for skills. “Skills can be learned,” I would say. “But, you can’t fix stupid.” That approach to hiring has faded away. We now focus on functional skills.

The Internet has cemented the skills approach to hiring. In the early days of Monster.com and its ilk, job candidates had to figure out what keywords should be Continue reading “HR and AI: how technology is taking over Talent Management”

Touchstones: Connection, Reflection and Failure

amethystpalmstone-amethysttouchstonesAbout every three months, I join a group of colleagues for dinner followed by an all day meeting. Our goal is to share best practices, bond with one another and have some fun. Nothing unusual about that, right? What makes it different is that there is no corporate sponsor. It’s an Ad Hoc group of people who share a profession and a common interest in getting better at what we do. Most of us hop into our car and head to a central location within an area bounded in the north by Toronto, the south by Pittsburgh, the east by Rochester and the west by Indianapolis.

At our last meeting, one of our cohort suggested we try an exercise she thought of as a best practice: tell the story of your life in 5 or 10 minutes. I am a new member of this Continue reading “Touchstones: Connection, Reflection and Failure”

Any Jackass Can Kick Down a Barn

MuleLeadLargeWe’re flush with new college grads this month. This crop has graduated into a rare economy – one in which employers are challenged by the dearth of candidates to fill the jobs they’re offering. Contrast that to ten years ago when even those with advanced degrees from top schools were kicked to the curb.

If faced with a plethora of opportunities, it would pay for grads to check with their friends who majored in physics before making a decision Continue reading “Any Jackass Can Kick Down a Barn”

The management guru that time forgot

TQM - White Word on Red Puzzles.

The effort to help Japan rebuild after World War II included sending leading American management guru, W. Edwards Deming, to embed his Total Quality Management (TQM) ethic into that country’s manufacturing industries. Perhaps if Detroit’s Big 3 had simultaneously embraced Deming, we would see more Chevys and fewer Toyotas on our highways today.

TQM is based upon the idea that the performance of workers is dependent upon the system within which they work. Deming believed that managers apply all the wrong Continue reading “The management guru that time forgot”

Three things to get your team to trust you

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Among the biggest challenges for corporate leaders is to establish trust. It’s not difficult to understand why. Most management positions are filled by the person most successful in a non-managerial role, not the person who exhibits the most leadership potential. Unsure of what to do or how to behave, they emulate their superiors, most of whom got their role the same way.

The default mode of the worst bosses turns people off. Many are unwilling to admit what they don’t know and often act on impulse. They lack empathy, often expressing the attitude that “if you can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can.” In short, they make excuses for their own Continue reading “Three things to get your team to trust you”

So, What’s Your Story?

zoom_double_751659The mission of my first assignment in the corner office was to turn the business around. Bleeding cash, lacking sustainable IT and other infrastructure, and having suffered through a bad leadership episode, the company was teetering on the brink of failure. My first impression as CEO of the company (Lifewatch, then called Cardiolife) was that there were some quality people on the management team who lacked a sense of direction. Most odd was that the hallways were plastered with motivational quotes – framed posters of great photographs adorned with lofty phrases about teamwork or exhorting people to “Make It Happen.”

When I asked people about them, they all shrugged and said my predecessor had hung them to motivate the staff. It was clear that their presence was widely viewed as a joke. So, I removed them. A big part of my job was to change the culture. Lofty phrases not Continue reading “So, What’s Your Story?”