Hot Management Info for 2012

January – Steve Jobs and You
February – Enchantment
March – One Piece of Paper
April – Don’t Bother Wowing Your Customers
May – The Jagged Resume
June – Get Bossy
July – 9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People
August – Disrupt Yourself
September – Websites
October – How Do Workers Get Ahead?
November – Up Date Your RFP Process

November 2012 – Up Date Your RFP Process

Business is picking up so I have recently bid (according to APA proposed) on a number of planning projects. I think most governments do a terrible job in the bid process and have written about my complaints in the past. (See this article in our search engine. )

However, there is good news and a few organizations are finally getting into the information age by:

  1. Email
    Accepting  responses to the RFP by email.
  2. Conference Calls for Prime
    Willing to interview by conference call. Some still don’t understand that with time and travel a typical interview may result in a $5,000 expenditure. On a $50,000 contract, that is 10% of the contract before it even begins.
  3. Conference Calls for Subs
    Even if they want a key staff member present for a face to face interview, they are willing to have other staff members or sub-consultants participate by conference call.
  4. Price
    Stating the proposed contract amount right in the RFP.

So a hearty congratulations to those using these new systems.

The Management Doctor

P.S.

But a few other problems still persist such as:

  1. Notary’s
    Requiring the bid to be notarized. Who ever thought up this crazy need in the first place?
  2. Feedback
    Being reluctant to give any feedback to the losing bidder to help with future projects.

Reader Responses

You really hit the nail on the head with this “Hot Info” piece. Sadly few RFPs give any hint as to the magnitude of what the government wants to spend on the project. And the problems that persist seem intransigent. I’d suggest adding to the list of problems:

  1. Requiring professional liability insurance (especially in amounts that insurance companies don’t offer like $1.5 million) when it makes no sense.
  2. Iincredibly vague (and often conflicting) RFP requirements, and then making it impossible to get a really clear picture of what the government wants in a project by prohibiting any direct contact with the folks who will handle the substance of the project. Too many RFPs are so poorly written that a phone conversation is the only way to get clarity.
  3. Arbitrary and capricious application requirements (like dictating font size, page margins, page limits).
  4. Telling consultants that the RFP has been withdrawn and will be reissued in 6 months, and then awarding the contract to a consultant a month later (this actually happened to us this fall).
  5. Not allowing adequate time to complete the project — this practice seems to be endemic.
  6. Taking another jurisdiction’s RFP and changing the names — without having any understanding of what the project is about.

The list could go on and on.

Keep up the good work and happy new year.

Daniel Lauber


Who would not be willing to give feedback?

Having worked on both sides of the fence (public and private) it actually can be a very beneficial discussion.  The consultant can get valuable information, and the staff from the public agency can obtain information to help write better RFP’s in the future.

Just my thoughts.

Mr. Rian Harkins

Planning Director


One thing we do in the City of St. Pete Beach is visit the responders at their offices instead of requiring them to come here for a formal presentation. We tell firms not to have a formal presentation ready but ask to see boards and plans of other projects they have done. This saves them travel and prep time and we get to see where taxpayer dollars are going. We also have not required subs to come to the interview unless they are playing a major role in the project.

Catherine M. Hartley


You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the City of LA is guilty of all of the flaws you mention and more. 

Vivian Kahn

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October 2012 – How Do Workers Get Ahead?

This was one of those USA Today charts on the front page. They surveyed 26,612 people who suggested:

Creativity 4%
Chart
Initiative 18%
Hard Work 27%
Internal Politics 51%

It is not unusual that Internal Politics gets a bad name. However, we all know that it is often who you know that opens doors. Who do you like? Who is a team player? This is not simply A— kissing but rather a view of the positive side on Internal Politics. In my teaching I often do 30 minute counseling sessions. One of my students was having trouble getting ahead in the organization. He never joined any of the office social events, never went out to lunch or drinks with others, kept 100% of his personal life personal.

Office politics can be all about building personal relations and building the team.

Beth Wiesennberger in 2/23/2010 Bloomberg Business suggested:

“Office politics are about people interacting and building relationships to get things done. They’re about getting ahead and accomplishing more, making you more fulfilled in your job.”

For good politics,

The Management Doctor


Reader Response

So what the USA Today survey essentially says is that the 3 most important things–hard work, initiative, and creativity–traditionally taught by thoughtful parents, emphasized in good schools, and rewarded by enlightened employers, when COMBINED are still worth less than “office politics” ALONE for getting ahead. 

VERY unfortunately, that is probably true in most places at most times, is a clear case of up-side-down priorities, and therefore is also patently obscene. 

Furthermore, it is MOST of what is wrong with our agencies, companies, society, country, and world today.  I suppose, if a company wants to waste its payroll by hiring and promoting those they like or know over those more qualified, that’s their business (and I hope they suffer in the marketplace accordingly). But government cannot squander tax payer money like that; if they do, heads should roll (but they rarely do).

I, as I’m sure most people, have had first-hand experience with this, both in terms of my own career path and those of colleagues, where there have been winners and losers purely on this basis.  What’s more is that the frequency of such poor selections will only increase as more and more truly unqualified workers rise into positions of hiring authority and perpetuate the problem. 

While no one, in any organizational setting, should be a recluse or a wallflower no matter how able a worker they are, gratuitous use of work and/or leisure time primarily to ingratiate oneself with the higher-ups of the workplace should NEVER be a substitute for real knowledge, skills, ability, and a strong work ethic.  I would never knowingly hire anyone who thought, or work for any place that practiced, otherwise. 

But as standards of performance and ethics continue to erode, those people and those work places seem to be getting fewer and farther between all the time,

So my choices have become limited and my principles somewhat compromised, and I’m very unhappy about that. 

If office politics is so righteous, then why continue wasting class time on skills and start teaching schmoozing instead? 

If that’s not going to happen, then how about putting office politicking in its place–make that 4th place.

David Petrovich, AICP

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September 2012 – Websites

I have recently been bidding on a variety of RFPs and also searching the websites of current clients for background information. Many of the sites continue to have the same problems including:

  1. Data Is Not Up-to-date
    There is a concept called “false maps.” Would you rather have a false map or no map at all? Your site should have up-to-date material at all times. I even see notations on sites saying you can’t rely on this information and you need to go to the actual document.This misses the whole point of the information age.
  2. Links Don’t Work
    While not as bad as number 1 above, still a major problem that sends an image of an incompetent department.
  3. Limited Phone Numbers and Email Addresses
    Many sites just give the phone number of the department and one email under a “contact” listing. I believe every staff member should be listed along with their title, phone number and email address. What are you afraid of?
  4. No Organization Chart
    Not only do most sites not include an organization chart, many of our clients don’t have one in the office either. Additionally, the charts that are on the site are often out of date. When we do focus groups we often have a chart handy to help relate to questions or comments. Invariably, when focus group members sees the chart they want to know how they can get one.
  5. No Pictures
    I know this one is controversial but I still think it is useful to have each staff members picture. It tends to humanize the organization and help customers remember who they had met or talked with. A few sites use a group picture. This is better than no pictures but I still prefer the individual pictures. These should also be included for all members of the Planning Commission and similar groups.
  6. Organization vs. Function
    Many sites simply list the organization, however, what is also needed is a comprehensive listing by function. For example, how to re-zone my property, getting a building permit, etc.
  7. On-line Applications
    The trend for all types of applications will be to accept them electronically over the Internet including electronic drawings. I see only a few places that have accomplished this. However, even if you are not yet ready for this step, at least set up your application forms so they can be filled out on the Internet and then printed.

I do see quite a few good features which should be on all sites including:

  • DESCRIPTION: A brief description of the department including address, phone number, fax and email address.
  • GIS: Access to GIS maps.
  • POLICY DOCUMENTS: The comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and related other plans and ordinances including good table of contents or indexes.
  • STUDIES: A list of studies that are underway with some background information. Sophisticated sites also have a way for citizens to participate or provide information, perhaps via a survey form.
  • HANDOUTS & FORMS: Handouts and forms for various permit or other activities. The customer should be able to print out the form and use it. Even better, the customer is able to fill out the form on the computer and email it back to the department.
  • APPLICATIONS: A list of current pending applications and status.
  • MEETINGS: Dates for upcoming meetings.
  • AGENDAS: Agendas for near-term meetings.
  • STAFF REPORTS: Staff reports for near-term meetings.
  • MINUTES: Minutes from planning commission or similar meetings, including tapes of meetings.

The League of California Cities had a good list of Website suggestions in its June 2012 issue which I have attached a link below.

For good webbing,

The Management Doctor

Click here to see the League of California Cities website suggestions.


Reader Responses

How right you are (by the way, it’s “data are” not “data is.” AP still stays with that despite common incorrect usage) about websites. In my experience as a web content writer, the major cause of the problem is top jurisdiction management living in the stone age. I find two major roadblocks: top city managers who have no idea of how important websites are to effectively doing business as a public agency and city legal advisers who have kept pace with the information age by reading liability horror stories and not understanding the need.

Bottom line for a department head – if you want to solidify your position as an intransigent bureaucracy, hide the department behind a wall of anonymity. Your constituents will appreciate your support for their belief that city hall is just a bunch of faceless bureaucrats.

Thanks,

Anonymous


It would be fun to see what people are afraid of and if they have any evidence to back their fears.

I had a listed direct business phone line, a direct business email and a published home phone number for 15 years as a planning director. I recall one abuse in all that time (a lady called my home one Sunday morning and railed at my young daughter about a land use violation.)

Charles Kleeberg


I usually appreciate your advice but some of the below is just wrong…posting individual staff photos and contact info open them up for ID theft and more spam. Our IT dept won’t allow it.  Also posting individual Council member photos during an election violates CA’s election laws. 

 
Thanks for the rest of the suggestions.

Kim Espinosa

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August 2012 – Disrupt Yourself

This material is summarized from a July-August 2012 Harvard Business Review article by Whitney Johnson. He suggests four principles for finding the career path you really want.

Not everyone has to abandon the traditional path. But, if you’ve reached a plateau or you suspect you won’t be happy at the top rung of the ladder you’re climbing, you should disrupt yourself for the same reasons that companies must.

The world of work is increasingly complex – uncertain and volatile, global and diverse – and information is easier to access. As a result, experience and knowledge are less relevant, whereas the capacities to learn and adapt, be resilient, and connect with others have become more crucial.

Here are his four principles of Self-Disruption:

  1. Target a need that can be met more effectively.
    Disrupters look for needs that aren’t being met well.
  2. Identify your disruptive strengths.
    Don’t think just about what you do well – think about what you do well that most others can’t.
  3. Step back (or sideways) in order to grow.
    Personal growth often stalls at the top of a classic S curve. Disrupters avoid that problem by jumping to a new role, industry, or type of organization and putting themselves on an entirely different growth trajectory. Disrupting yourself doesn’t have to mean leaving your organization – maybe a sideways move. Sideways always turns into a slingshot.
  4. Let your strategy emerge.
    Disrupters are flexible. They take a step forward, gather feedback, and adapt accordingly. If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel worn paths of accepted success.

Here is the disruptive career of the Management Doctor:

  1. Graduate architect, designed a few houses –  no, let’s try city planning.
  2. 12 years city planning.
  3. Run for elected office – that didn’t work.
  4. Help create and then run a Hispanic economic development company with four manufacturing plants, credit union, health clinic, movie theatre, and legal services office, 5 years.
  5. Back to city planning, 2 years
  6. Assistant County Administrator, 5 years
  7. Market and teach a management training system, 4 years
  8. Write books, 6 so far
  9. Planning consulting, 10 years
  10. Organization and management consulting, 16 years
  11. Management Doctor and ukulele player
  12. Next???????

For your success.

The Management Doctor

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July 2012 – 9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People

These interesting points came from an article by Jeff Haden which appeared in www.inc.com. I have added a few of my thoughts.

For your success.

The Management Doctor

Jeff Hayden
The Management Doctor
1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time. Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time. Relate your time to your clear mission and goals.
2. The people around me are the people I chose. If the people around you make you unhappy it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. This one is obviously tougher in government than the private sector but instead of tackling the issue, I see most government managers just giving up. You can do more than you are doing.
3. I have never paid my dues. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contributions you make on a daily basis. Stop telling people what you accomplished in your last job. What are you doing today?
4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything. Successful people don’t need to describe themselves sing hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, et. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they’ve done. Also good advice for your resume. You can be less humble on the resume but be humble verbally.
5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me. Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently. Stop blaming your boss or the economy. When I teach politics to managers, I suggest they can’t change the SOB, just learn how to better work with them.
6. Volunteers always win. Successful people step forward to create opportunities. Let your City Manager and City Council see you as the can do person or department. Whatever it is, you can do it.
7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business. Be ethical but don’t forget you work in a democracy.
8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do. Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do. Re-visit number 7.
9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do – especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Just be a can do planner.

 

Reader Response

Thanks Paul, this is both timely and well thought out!  Keep it up.  

David W. Woods

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June 2012 – Get Bossy

These thoughts came from “Why Bossy is Better for Rookie Managers” by Stephen J. Sauer.

Those of you that follow my emails should know by now that I totally believe in empowering employees and thinking of the manager at the bottom of the pyramid rather than at the top, i.e. the servant manager, collaborative management. But Sauer suggest that “Bossy Is Better for Rookie Managers.” Although each situation is different, I think some of this advice can be useful for new or rookie managers.

I remember my first major planning director job, Planning Director for Marin County, CA. I was 31 years old, almost green as grass, and a bit into my own ego. Marin had a great planning director for many years. When she retired, her assistant replaced her for the next five years and the organization deteriorated. When I arrived, the County and staff were more than ready for new leadership. At the first staff meeting I laid out my vision and what I wanted to do. Later, one of the staff members approached me and said, “Finally, someone to take charge.” Although a bit brash, in that particular situation it proved to serve me well.

A few thoughts from Sauer:

  • New leaders who are perceived as having low status – because of their age, education, or experience – lead better when they tell subordinates what to do.
  • If as a new manager you sense that your team doesn’t yet have confidence in you, you’re better off setting the agenda, establishing clear direction, and putting people to work on what you think needs to be done. Only after you have established your authority should you introduce a more collaborative style.
  • If he’s directive and assertive, you’ll take that as confidence, and you’ll come to see him as more able than you first thought.
  • Once the leader is viewed as experienced and knowledgeable, team members prefer and perform better under a participative style.

This article from the Harvard Business Review generated a lot of conflicting opinions, including bad advice. You decide.

The Management Doctor


Reader Response

Dear Management Doctor,

Over 32 years, I have been a manager, director, boss, leader, etc., etc. Every few years, it seems, there is a new fashionable theory or style or technique that someone higher up the management ladder wants his/her department directors to conform to. I think I’ve seen it all. I think I have been a faithful student of each one of these, reading books from Manager’s Factomatic to the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

But at some point, after all else fails, the leader/manager/director/boss has to put his foot down and say, “We’re going to do it my way.” As an example, I currently have an employee who, when participating in decision-making related to the goals or expectations of even the simplest task or assignment will, on the surface, seem cooperative. But when actually undertaking the assignment, this employee will develop what seems to me to be a textbook example of passive-aggressive behavior, become obstructionist or even hostile, turn even small tasks into monumental ones, express a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive resistance to any suggestion on how to expedite the task at hand.  

So it is better to tell this person how assignments will be undertaken, provide a time certain for completion and leave it at that. My point is that it is not always possible to empower every employee in every situation and sometimes you do have to “take charge” to get the job done.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Sincerely,

Gregory L. Scoville


I agree with just about everything that Greg said. Just don’t use that word “empower” ever again!

Jay Marder

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May 2012 – The Jagged Resume

The Jagged Resume is a concept taken from a new book by George Anders, The Rare Find. This set off bells from my own experience through the years in hiring hundreds of planners and working with a few dozen recruiting firms.

With so many unemployed people, today’s hiring process is worse than ever and continues to rely on the traditional way of screening applicants. Applications are put into two piles, those that appear to have the right amount of training and experience, and those that don’t (rejects). However, in my experience as well as that of the author, the more interesting candidates are often those in between that he calls the “Jagged Resumes.”

I have been involved with numerous interview processes where applications have been screened by an HR department or a recruiting firm. Whenever I felt the list was week, I asked to look at the rejected applications. Sure enough, these were often some of the best, and in many cases, people I personally knew were the best. Two recent examples come to my mind.

  1. I had an outstanding employee who worked with me on a national basis to analyze and reorganize planning departments. Eventually he left to take a major job with a large developer. Then when the economy went bust, he was laid off and had a hard time finding a job. Even though he had worked for government in the past and had the experience working with me, he was viewed negatively as coming from the private sector. Even more so, the fact that he was unemployed was viewed as a negative. Some national companies have admitted that they will only look at applicants that are currently employed.

    This same person finally found a job managing a small planning department, a position that I thought he was over qualified for. After a few years he began to apply to larger departments, more in line with his skill and abilities. Now he was rejected because he had not worked for the right size department.

    In both cases, communities failed to look at his Jagged Resume and lost out on a great employee.

  2. I am working with a community that has a new Director of Planning and Urban Design with a staff of 40. I think they have an excellent Director that came from a very small community with less than a handful of staff. I asked him how he got the job. He came in a day or two in advance of the interview, toured the city, and  then told the interview panel what he saw wrong with the city. They managed to see his Jagged Resume.
  3. I was looking for a new graphic artist. A young lady didn’t meet any of my list of qualifications as a graphic artist. In the interview I discovered she had spent her entire life at the desk of her nationally known artist father and was self taught, a great find – another Jagged Resume.
  4. I had a fantastic office manager, administrative assistant. She did it all, receivables, payroll, purchasing, computer repair and problem solving, graphic arts and layout, fast data entry, and on and on. Because she had so many skills she became over booked and we brought in her friend and neighbor part time to help out. When she left I sat down with the two of them to discuss how we could possibly write a job ad covering so many bases and would we need to hire two part-time people. After kicking this around a bit, the part timer said, I think I can do that. She did and even better – another Jagged Resume.

Anders gave a few other interesting examples including:

  • A music label let Taylor Swift go because they decide she was not worth more than $15,000 a year.
  • At least four book publishers passed on the first Harry Potter novel rather than pay J.K. Rowling a $5,000 advance.
  • Of 1,800 human resource  directors  interviewed, only 18 percent thought they were winning the war for talent. 

He suggests.

  • Look for hidden virtues.
  • Find your unlikely stars by noticing what others don’t see.
  • Find those who have demonstrated determination and persistence when confronted with obstacles in the past.
  • Compromise on experience; don’t compromise on character.
  • Find inspirations that are hidden in plain sight.

Keep looking – you too can fine the Jagged Resume.

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April 2012 – Don’t Bother Wowing Your Customers

I took this title from the Harvard Business Review. It suggested that trying to wow or delight your customers may be a waste of time. “In fact, most customers just want a simple, quick solution to their problem. “  Try these:

  1. Answer the d;;;;;; phone. No more than two rings, live body on the other end.
  2. Voice Mail. If you do get a message or voice mail, answer it the same day, not in 24 hours. Don’t go home at night until you have done it. Better yet, how about within two hours.
  3. Email. Same as two above.
  4. Counter Wait Time: The smaller the organization the shorter the time. Try 10 minutes maximum. Recognize the person the minute they walk through the door.
  5. Who Are You?  Don’t let any customer leave the office without your business card. Add to it with a big sign on your desk that says who you are.
  6. Today: Our planner you want to see isn’t in, how about coming back tomorrow?  No, no, no. At least see if you can get them on their cell phone.
  7. Web Site: How about an org chart, your picture, direct phone line, cell phone, and email address.
  8. Another List: I know I told you what we needed in your last visit or my last letter but, here is another list. No, no, no. You get one slice of the baloney.
  9. Disgruntled Customer: See if you can solve some of their pain points.
  10. Go Out of the Way: It’s not my job but let me walk you down the hall and see if I can help you get the information you need. 

Oh well, maybe you will wow them anyway.

The Management Doctor


 

Reader Responses

Great list of how to wow the public that we serve!  These are very helpful.  Here is one more:

If the customer has an issue that would take more than 10 minutes to solve, find a conference room to sit down and work to SOLVE the issues.

Let the Planning Director do his or her job and if someone comes to the counter really make sure someone “Senior” is around to deal with the underlying issues.  This is a lesson that was hardest for my staff to grasp when I served as Planning Commissioner for the Town of Brookhaven, they did not want to disturb me!  

David Woods


I don’t disagree with your suggestions.  But given the fact that many city budgets must meet declining revenue lines, there is a considerable reduction of levels of service.  Let me give you an example.  When you reviewed the City of Troy Planning Department there was a Planning Director, Principal Planner, Planners (2) and a Secretary.  Today there is a Planning Director and Secretary.  The Planning Department added responsibility for signage, code enforcement and zoning appeals.  So this added a Zoning and Code Compliance Specialist and four code inspectors.  Yes the Specialist can help with the counter, but he still has to handle signs and management of code enforcement.   The department does have a contractor two half days a week.  Given the small size of the department there will be gaps in service.  Plus development pressure is starting up.  The phones don’t get answered at times.  Sometimes there is no one is physically in the department.  How do you get around this reality?

With that being said the Planning Department is customer friendly and helps us create an environment for investment, by providing fast, fair and predictable development related decisions.

Mark F. Miller

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March 2012 – One Piece of Paper

This new book, One Piece of Paper,  by Mike Figliuolo is described as the simple approach to powerful, personal leadership. When you go through his exercises, he suggests you can summarize it all on one piece of paper. He suggests you examine yourself in four areas:

  • Leading yourself: What motivates you and what are your rules of personal conduct? What do you want “future you” to look like and stand for?
  • Leading the thinking: Where are you taking the organization and how will you innovate to drive change? What are your standards of performance for how you will safely get to your destination?
  • Leading your people: How can you lead your people as individuals rather than treating them like faceless cogs in the machine?
  • Leading a balanced life: If you are burned out, you are worthless. How do you define and achieve balance?

In my emails, I often tend to give you suggestions for how you manage and lead other people. I can’t cover all of the four points in a short email so have decided to share his ideas on leading yourself. Figliuolo suggests you ask yourself  a series of questions. The answer  to each question should evoke an emotion or remind you of a story. They need to be as personal as you can possibly make them.

  • Why do you get out of bed every day? (align your work with what you love to do)
  • How will you shape your future?
  • What guidelines do you live by?
  • When you fall down, how do you pick yourself back up? “It is what it is. What are you going to do about it?”
  • How do you hold yourself accountable?

Focus on yourself and the person you want to become regardless of what happens in the world around you.

  • What do I want my epitaph to say? (it opened my eyes (the Management Doctor) when I did a draft of my obituary)
  • What do I want the summation of my career, or life to be?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to reach your goals? (what are nonnegotiables?)

Holding yourself accountable with these questions: (the Management Doctor particularly liked these questions)

  • Have you ever taken charge of something not directly assigned to you, after which your involvement helped drive a successful outcome?
  • Have you ever seen a problem, not taken responsibility for it and regretted it later?
  • How do you keep yourself from playing the blame game?

Have some fun with these, they may change your life, or at least move you to buy the book.

Good questioning,

The Management Doctor

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February 2012 – Enchantment

Enchantment is something you should strive for and is the title of a new book by Guy Kawasaki. You may recognize Kawasaki from his tenure as a marketing guru for Apple. I enjoyed his 1991 book, Selling The Dream. His new book has some great tips for us planners. He says:

“Enchantment is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal. It is the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea.”

“In business and personal interactions, your goal is not merely to get what you want, but to bring about a voluntary, enduring and delightful change in other people. By enlisting their own goals and desires, by being likable and trustworthy, and by framing a cause that others can embrace, you can change hearts, minds and actions.

WOW! If it can do even part of this, I’m in.

Step 1, Achieving Likability (half the battle)

  • Smile
  • Dress, don’t overdress or underdress, Equal dressing says, “We’re peers.”
  • Handshake, this first impression in important so:
    1. Make eye contact throughout
    2. Utter an appropriate verbal greeting
    3. Make a Duchenne (real) smile
    4. Grip the person’s hand and give it a firm squeeze
    5. Stand a moderate distance from the other person: not so close as to make him or her uncomfortable or so far away as to make him or her feel detached
    6. Make sure your hand is cool, dry and smooth
    7. Use a medium level of vigor
    8. Hold the handshake for no longer than two to three seconds
  • Use the Right Words
    1. Use simple words
    2. Use the active voice
    3. Keep it short
    4. Use common, unambiguous analogies

Step 2, Achieving Trustworthiness (the other half)

  • Be a mensch. Mensch is a German word for human being, but its Yiddish connotation far exceeds this definition. I you are a mensch, you are honest, fair, kind and transparent, no matter whom you’re dealing with and who will ever know what you did.
  • Disclose your interests. Immediate and complete disclosure of your interests is a key component of trust worthiness. People will always wonder what your motivation is, so you should get this out of the way.
  • Give for intrinsic reasons. One form of reciprocity occurs when you do something for intrinsic reasons, such as helping others. This is the purest form of reciprocity, because recipients often cannot repay you. This form of reciprocity increased your trustworthiness the most and causes the most enchantment.
  • Gain knowledge and competence. Competence means that you have progressed beyond knowing what to do to doing what you know.
  • Show up. You can embody the qualities of menschdom, knowledge and competence, but they won’t matter if you don’t show up – that is, interact with people.
  • Bake a bigger pie. There are two kinds of people and organizations in the world: eaters and bakers. Eaters want a bigger slice of an existing pie; bakers want to make a bigger pie. Eaters think that if they win, you lose and if you win, they lose. Bakers think that everyone can win with a bigger pie.

This may all sound a bit too simple. In the rest of the book he provides more details on how to do it. The two steps above may not get you all the way to Enchantment, but it can be a good start. What do you have to lose?

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January 2012 – Steve Jobs and You

I received a copy of the new book on Steve Jobs in my Christmas stocking and immediately read it cover to cover. It is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. Maybe it’s my age having lived through many of Apple’s evolutions.

I had been working for a developer helping to subdivide his property when he decided to convert some 300 acres to a zero energy development. He was a former aero-space engineer and had been intrigued with various energy savings for some time. This was going to be his crowning achievement. We hired Emory Loving’s from Denver as a key advisor and were underway. It soon became apparent that the project was too large for me to handle and I recommended another firm to put together the proposal that had a drop dead date with the City. After a while he fired the firm and came back to me to rescue the project, but by then the timeline was very tight. I put together a team and we started working out of his living room. With my first exposure to Apple, he bought four Apple II’s. We were underway and made the deadline.

The next step was to buy one of the first Macintosh’s with the floppy drive for my office. But as the first Mac with a hard drive came onto the scene (1 mg), I jumped in and bought three. We thought we had died and gone to heaven. As new models came out we continually up-graded and were an Apple shop. However, as Apple started to slip and business expanded, we decided we needed to become a PC shop. I did hang onto a Power Mac which I still use for film making. You know the rest of the story with the i-Phone,the i-Pad, and I would guess soon to be an i-TV.

What does any of this have to do with you? It turns out that Jobs was a first class SOB. His success could send you the wrong message.

I just ran across another new book, The Invisible Spotlight by Craig Wasserman and Doug Katz. They suggest that:

  • “Whether managers appreciate it or not, they are a central and dominant influence in their employees’ lives. Employees spend countless hours watching, listening, thinking about, talking about and trying to please their bosses. This is what is meant by the invisible spotlight.”
  • “Your relationship with employees is forged in brief, unscripted moments.”
  • “The trick is to consciously control the influence you have and to act with intention.”
  • You can be “callous, thoughtless and intimidating,” as was Jobs.
  • “More thought than you ever imagined goes into the art of recognition and encouragement.”

You might also want to read another favorite book of mine, The No Asshole Rule that suggests organizations can’t afford to have assholes in the group.

Two specific experiences come to mind from my consulting practice.

  1. I was working with a mid-sized Midwestern community that had a brilliant Planning Director. He had done unbelievable things for the city and like Job’s was a great visionary and implementer. But, like Jobs, was also a bit of an SOB. I suggested to the City Manager that he would not change. He needed to decide if the trade-offs were worth it.
  2. My second example was another brilliant Planning Director who asked me for some personal advice. He had some of the same attributes as Jobs. He asked me for some hard headed personal advice which I delivered over a glass of wine in his living room with his wife joining us. As I began to describe the issues, his wife broke into almost uncontrollable laughter – he was the same at home as in the office. The change he undertook not only improved the office but his home life as well.

Few of us have the brilliance of a Steve Jobs. Even if you did, you won’t survive as a planner or manager as an SOB. It is time in the New Year for you to think about your Invisible Spotlight.

The Management Doctor


 

Reader Responses

Hope the new year finds you well. A book I would suggest all planners read is Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. It was published by Crown Business in 2011. Not only does it spell out good principals for developing effective strategies, it is also entertaining. I practically read the entire book in one setting because I found it so engaging, but maybe I am just a strategy wonk.

Always the best.

Ralph Rognstad Jr., Director


Thanks! Well put and good incite. Sometimes the best minds can be the most destructive but with a little humility and laughter at ourselves people will enjoy taking really good ideas to the next level!

Robert McKay


I have always enjoyed your commentaries, and having just finished Jobs’ biography as well, your article really hit home. Thank you; I shared it with my colleagues.

Brian R. Smith