July 31, 2015

Wave Your Magic Wand

I was on a call with a prospect this week and she asked me a great question; "If you could wave your magic wand, how would you design the program for our team?" The discussion usually drifts from my experience to their pain points to a series of calls and meetings to determine how I can help.

I said that the best scenario is when I can include all the voices in the discussion from mid-level managers to senior leaders. There are a thousand ways we can go with leadership development and talent training but without knowing the specifics, it can be a lot of activity with disappointing results.

All Voices Wanted

The best way, in my experience, to build anything is to include everyone. This isn't to suggest you take the committee approach forever, but you need to find the waterline. Here's one simple tactic you may want to try if your company or department or team are stuck. Give everyone the day off.

You read that right. Without letting important deadlines or projects drop, give the team a work day away from the office to think and gather their thoughts. Then it's time to get back together and do a brainstorming session. I love to facilitate these because it allows everyone to have a voice and ideas to be streamlined into realistic and executable chunks. So wave your magic wand and dream big. Then get to work. It will be worth it.

If you need a hand, let me know.
Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 27, 2015

Taking a Summer Attitude

We are in the middle of a heatwave in North America right now. I’m in Canada and temperatures are hovering around 30-35° celsius which is 86-95° fahrenheit. I live in a part of the world where it can dip down to minus 20-30 in the winter.

So people are out and about, enjoying the warmer climes and some well-deserved time away from work with their families and friends. Backyards are filled with the smell of barbecues and the streets are filled with people on their bikes taking in the vista.

Work Less Try Less?

I usually think about how to approach work in the summer from the perspective of taking advantage of your competition while they’re putting their feet up a bit but this year is different. I was thinking this week that perhaps I’ve had that backwards.

Maybe we need to take the summer approach throughout the year. Perhaps we are too focused on bottom lines and improved market shares when a more relaxed attitude will garner even better results. If we aren’t so grumpy all the time about profits and enjoy the work, the exact result we’ve been seeking will be realized.

Something to think about whilst you’re sipping that icy drink by the pool.
Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 22, 2015

Our Strategy is Wrong

You may be like me and have had the experience working on and with many teams on business strategy. I grew up with the theory that in order for us to move business forward, we can't do a long list of things each year but rather identify 2-3 objectives and then list the tactics in order to accomplish them.

Big data, big science, and the shared economy have torn that apart. Phillip Evans outlines the models most of us have been deploying are out dated and invalid.

Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 18, 2015

Conform and Fail

Mignon McLaughlin was an American journalist and author. In the 1950s she began publishing aphorisms - a pithy observation that contains a general truth. My favorite was; "Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers."

We do look at those who blazed a path before us with admiration but how often do we grasp the uphill climb each had to endure? It's not easy to share a new idea until it’s adopted by others. But without the bravery to share it, the idea goes nowhere.

Lead first

Leonardo da Vinci, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, Elon Musk, Susan B. Anthony, Les Paul, Sally Ride, Louis Pasteur, Kathryn Bigelow, Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher, Johannes Gutenberg, Florence Nightingale, Alfred Nobel, Steve Jobs, the list goes on and on. These people didn't play it safe but they certainly didn't succeed without struggles.

I recently took a chance on something I really wanted. I felt the old behaviors creep in and two friends in two conversations pushed me to keep going. It was the fuel I needed to do what I wanted to do in the first place.

Don't make a fuss

Doing what is safe and what others may agree with is adhering to a matrix each of us hold as a manufactured line that’s not to be crossed. We've all done it.

You're sitting on an idea right now that you keep trying to find the guts to share. It's not easy, we all know. But it's necessary to fight those fears and doubts or you might end up being - to paraphrase McLaughlin's quote - a dead conformist.

Let's take one small step this week toward sharing our ideas, pushing ourselves past our fears, and seeing what happens. Regret is a horrible emotion we have all experienced. It's even worse than failure.

Let's cause some trouble!
Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 14, 2015

Diversity and Bias

My grade 10 history teacher once said; “There is no such thing as an unbiased opinion”. He was saying that in the context of news reporting and history writing but we all have our biases, opinions, and perspectives in all aspects of our lives.

Vernā Myers works on diversity every single day and confirms she has her points of view that show up even with her efforts toward fairness. The stats are heartbreaking. In the U.S. alone, a black man is 21 times more likely to be shot than a white man. 

Our biases are ending lives and it's up to each of us to change that. This isn't something that happens over there to other people. You and I have work to do – in our businesses, neighborhoods, lives, and our own minds. Today.

You need to watch this.

Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 10, 2015

Respect and Trust

My best friend and his wife are renovating their basement. The project started a couple of months ago and it’s been quite an adventure to watch. We talked about his search for a trustworthy crew. As luck would have it, a former high school buddy does home renovations for a living and is doing a great job on the basement.

When we think of certain industries, we often begin from a place of mistrust because someone we know had a bad experience with a lawyer. You got ripped off by a landscaping firm that didn’t do what they said they’d do. My cable provider keeps saying my intermittent internet service is my fault. The stories are plentiful and painful.

"If there is no trust, there is nothing." 
Rob Thurman

It got me to think about my relationships and frankly me. Am I trustworthy? Do I strive to respect others every time? I’m human, I mess up, but I certainly do strive. If you're doing renovations, it’s clear you want to stand up for yourself and protect your investment. How do we navigate personal relationships from the same perspective?

I had a stressful situation happen this week with a close friend. They are going through a lot and the conversation got heated. And as we stupid humans often do, the kitchen sink was brought out. Yeah, but last September you said this. Yeah, but you did that last January. It’s human and it’s crappy. Communication without blame can solve it but as we know, that's sometimes easier said than done. Thankfully we worked it out.

"When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others."
Dalai Lama

In a work environment, everyone is under a lot of stress. Words are spoken. Blame is heaved. Accusations are lobbed. If we step away for even a few minutes, we can remember the relationship – work, life, wherever – is built on respect and trust and can withstand those types of interactions.

Respect and trust are earned but can’t be expected. Something to think about with your business. If you can show both and do what you claim you'll do, you will crush your competition. Great service is what we want yet we're blown away when we get it.

Does this mean trust and respect are only present when it's convenient? Can one argument tarnish a relationship like a bad experience with a plumber? I’d like to think we try our level best to remember why we have the people in our lives that we do and earn their trust and respect.

Something to cherish with our relationships.
Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 7, 2015

We Are Weird

The great Mark Twain once quipped; "Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story”, which is funny at first but quite correct with a closer look. We all have our own truths. Sure, most of us agree gravity keeps us on the ground and the sky is blue, but how many truths do we hold on to that may or may not be in fact true?

If you multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of employees, you can see how we get into trouble in the business world. Michael Shermer examines why we believe and hear weird things in science, relationships, and music.

Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit

July 3, 2015

My Opinion is Not Your Perspective

There are ample data to suggest if we find common ground, we stand a chance to agree. The bigger question is do we need to agree? Every interaction we experience is more than the conversation we have at the time. My experience, perspective, biases, and view mix with yours. I am a free thinker but I have a deep need for focus and strategy.

In my career, I have overseen the creation of three brand new radio stations from concept to completion, helped a tech start-up build their strategic plan and brand roll out, and worked closely with a real estate firm to triple their revenue in two years. The common element has been aligning a framework to then get creative within it.

Crush the Boxes

I’m a Pisces Water Tiger and I don’t work well in a cubicle world. I appreciate norms and values deeply but enjoy creating an outlet for all involved to push things beyond what we’ve done in the past.

When I’m working with a client, the first thing I do is dig as deep as necessary to get to their real goals and needs. Everyone wants more revenue. Most say they want a collaborative culture. And many feel they are providing the environment for both.

Your Way or My Way?

It’s not about telling you your ideas are wrong; it’s about getting to the core of what you are willing to do to achieve them. That’s where I know I get sidetracked. I’m a dreamer, a box crusher, and a ‘what if we tried that’ kind of guy.

We admire those who take chances and seemingly disregard conventional wisdom. But if we look closer, there is a framework within the freedom. The key to great companies, teams, and departments, is the ability to give space to all perspectives then tie them back to the goals.

Widen Your Scope

If you want more sales, telling your team to make more calls is not going to work. If you include them in the process, you allow all perspectives to be included into a much more robust solution. Some reps may prefer to build relationships over time while others might be rock stars at cold calling. This becomes even more complex over time as relationships grow. I’ve seen it far too many times to mention when a leader will be repeatedly frustrated by how an employee approaches their work.

Instead of trying to jam someone into your box, take the time to examine theirs and you might discover a solution neither of you had ever thought about. I need cautious people around me to keep me grounded. You might require creative people whose ideas seem outrageous at first, around you.

One approach never fits all.
Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit
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