Monthly Archives: February, 2013

Excellence + Relevance = Long-Term Success

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.”    – Tom Peters

Excellent: very good of its kind; eminently good
Relevant:  having direct bearing on the matter in hand; pertinent

This is a short and simple blog post.

What makes for a successful company or organization?  How about this?

Excellence + Relevance

This may be the whole ball game.  The organization does what it does very, very well – and, people feel like its product or service gives them exactly what they need (“bearing on the matter at hand”).

So, here are some options:

  • Excellence + Not Relevant = no long-term success (disappearing customers)
  • Relevance + Not Excellent = no long-term success (disappointed, departing customers)
  • Excellence + Relevance = long-term success (devoted customers)
  • Stay Excellent + Stay Relevant (vs. no longer excellent; no longer relevant) = longer-term success, dyed-in-the-wool devoted customers)

So, how is your organization doing?

Randy Mayeux

Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

How a Leader Creates the Right Culture

“Move your hands away from the table! Back up slowly. Time’s up! Move away from the table.”

No, it’s not an arrest in process. It’s an SGR Instructor informing students that time’s up on the puzzle their group has been working upon.

“Ok, Rotate!”

With those words, the group moves to the next table where they inherit the unfinished puzzle of the previous group. Fortunately for this team, the previous group has made a lot of progress. They inherit a pretty good situation. Not every group is so lucky. Sometimes they inherit a confusing mess.

That’s leadership, right? Sometimes you inherit a pretty good culture, sometimes it’s a mess, and sometimes you create a mess yourself. So, when the culture isn’t what it needs to be, and you don’t have the freedom to just “clean house” and start over, what do you do? How do you create the culture you want?

Organizations become what they talk about. Since its inception, SGR has valued innovation, and the more we talk about innovation, the more it spurs us to become more innovative. If you are what you eat, then your organization is what you talk about.

Think about how it’s been working in your office. What’s everyone talking about? Complaints? Negativity? Time crunch? Scarce resources? Chances are those conversations are driving the culture. It’s amazing how conversation and culture become intertwined.

So, if you want to change the culture, change the conversation. As Bonnie Raitt sang, “Let’s give them something to talk about!” Whether you inherited it, created it, or some combination of the two, if you want to create the right culture, you have to start by talking about the right things.

  1. Determine what your organization’s core values really are. Involve everyone (Yes, Everyone!) in that process. Think Dialogue not Dictation.
  2. Narrow down the list to a manageable number. Ideally, it should be no more than five. (Not every value is a CORE value.)
  3. Talk about them all the time. Really. Everywhere. Relate them to everything. In his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish says that it’s like having preschoolers: “Have a few rules. Live by them. Repeat yourself over and over.” (p. 43)

That’s one way you create the culture. Use a participative process that enables your team to identify a few core values. Live by them. Talk about them all the time. It won’t be too long before you begin to notice that you are becoming what you talk about.

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Director of Leadership Development, Strategic Government Resources

Keep it Simple!

I know you’re smart, and you know you’re smart; so stop trying to convince that to everyone else through your writing. Albert Einstein said it best,

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

One thing I’ve noticed in local government is the extensive use of grandiose and superfluous vocabulary (see, I know big words too) in materials that are sent to citizens. The result? Residents calling to ask about the information they just received because they do not fully understand it.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that counterproductive? Your intent to stay transparent to the public ended with you actually contributing to the “government stereotype” of being too complex and incomprehensible.

So before your next batch of letters about that upcoming event goes out, keep these three tips in mind:

  1. Be clear and concise. No one wants to decipher what you’re trying to say, especially in this age of instant information. There’s news coming at your audience from everywhere. For your message to stick, make the facts plain and don’t waste time over-fluffing it.
  2. Don’t get caught up in jargon. It assumes the reader knows what you’re talking about (and you know what they say about assumptions). You can cut down on this by having someone in another department read your work for clarity.
  3. Be conversational yet professional. People can relate to things that are written in a conversation tone, but don’t cross the line of professionalism by using bad grammar or slang. Also, be sure to not dumb down your information to the point where it comes off as insulting the reader’s intelligence. Find a happy medium between “expert” and “baby talk”.

Of course, there will be times where you need to be overly detailed in your message or stray from these guidelines, but these three points are still a good place to start. If you take nothing else from this, just remember to keep it simple!

It probably goes against your organization’s norm, but if you wanted to stay in the status quo, you wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place.

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

Setting Up a Training Room (From a Trainer’s Point of View) – Part One

Great trainers adapt to the venue. They arrive early enough to compensate for the unexpected.  There are certain things the host can do, however, to maximize the training experience for all participants, including the trainer.

Silence Your Surroundings

Make sure the training venue is quiet. If your training room is next to a main entrance that is within earshot of slamming car doors, a p.a. system, etc., it may be time to consider an alternative location.  Quality low-pile carpet will also dampen excessive noise while allowing participants to easily move chairs around the room.  Speaking of where participants sit, chairs should be on wheels and swivels, be height adjustable and provide lumbar support.

Presenters Need Plugs

The room should have at least one electrical outlet on each wall every six feet around the room and as many in the floor as code allows. Laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, etc., are here to stay, and participants will respond favorably to being able to keep devices charged. At a minimum, there should be at least two outlets in the floor 10 to 12 feet directly in front of the left side of the screen and two 10 to 12 feet directly in front of the right side of the screen. This allows the presenter to stand on his or her preferred side without having to run cables that can cause someone to trip and fall. It also allows set up for multiple presenters.

Each floor box should also have all applicable audio and video inputs that connect to the room projector and sound systems.  If running cable in such manner is not feasible, then purchase cables that are long enough to snake to proper inputs. Be sure they are taped down or are under wire mold prior to starting the session.

Monitors Make a Difference

A presenter monitor allows the presenter to continue to face the audience. This is important when choosing a training room computer.  Many computers do not have split-screen capability, and that puts presenters at a major disadvantage. The presenter may have to hold notes and doing so diminishes body language. He or she may also have to turn and reference the screen, which breaks eye contact and may make the audience feel like the presenter is speaking to the screen instead of the audience.
*Extra Note: Training room computers should be updated consistently.  Be sure to let presenters know what type presentation software the computer runs so he or she arrives with a compatible presentation.

In part two, we will discuss Internet access, color schemes, and creative budget solutions. Until then – happy training!

Greg Anderson

Written by:
Greg Anderson
President of Online Learning, Strategic Government Resources
Follow Greg on Twitter!@SGRGreg

The Four Tasks of Effective Leadership

This insight comes from Managing the Oval Office by David Rothkopf (David Rothkopf is the chief executive of the FP Group, the publisher of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). In this piece from the New York Times Sunday Review, a rather “less-than-enthusiastic” take on President Obama’s leadership, we find a really great, truly accurate summary of the tasks of effective leadership:

Here’s the quote:

“Selecting a diverse team, creating a system in which ideas surface, listening to those ideas and then empowering others to put them into action are the cornerstones of good management — and of effective leadership.”

And here, listed, are the four tasks.

Task 1:  Select a diverse team.
Task 2:  Create a system in which ideas surface.
Task 3:  Listen to those ideas, and then
Task 4:  Empower others to put them into action.

So, if you are in a position of leadership, it’s time to do a little self-analysis. How are you doing on these four?

And if you work for a leader, you might want to share this article.

Randy Mayeux

Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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