Triangle Performance
JULY 2009
In this issue
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FROM THE TOP
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STRATEGY & LEADERSHIP
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Change is Good...
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MUSINGS
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Leadership Development in a Time Machine?
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Printable Version
PRINTABLE VERSION
Click here to download an easily printable, PDF version of this newsletter.
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LINKS FOR THE MONTH
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Companies Look to Teambuilding to Offset Challenges
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The Leadership Myth
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Some Policies Do More Harm Than Good

PDF Version

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Team-Based Leadership Development
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Leadership Shake-up
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Recession Proof Leadership, The Sequel
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Berchelmann Blog
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Request Additional Information
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View Kevin Berchelmann's profile on LinkedIn

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From the Top

It's July -- just over half this year is gone, and we should be doing a check-up on the years' events, accomplishments, and objectives-yet-to-be-conquered.

So, how are we coming on those planned strategies and objectives?

Two things must be happening now in your world; first, we should have a clear indicator on what plans are likely to succeed this year, and which ones, frankly, are starting to look darned unlikely. Second, we should be making mid-course corrections now, realizing that we have only limited resources to bear, and less than six months now to complete our objectives.

Don't be afraid to make big changes. "Hope" really isn't a sound strategy, and pragmatism means more than good intentions.

Let's don't kid ourselves into believing we can pull off a year-end goal "coup." Let reality -- driven by available resources and leadership's desire for specific accomplishment -- determine which objectives should keep our focus. We risk failure on many fronts if we divide our focus too much.

But you already knew that.

Lots of client strategy work going on now, and that's a good thing. Both for succeeding in a vision for 2009, as well as setting a solid, realistic course for 2010.

We're mentioned in the news:


Boston Business Journal, June 12 print edition, Companies Look to Teambuilding to Offset Challenges. I was mentioned prominently in this feature on how teambuilding skills are more necessary today than ever before.


Fast Company online blog The Leadership Myth.


SHRM Online: Some Policies Do More Harm Than Good (SHRM Membership required) I was interviewed to discuss stupid employer policies (surprised I had opinions on that??). If you aren't a SHRM member, you can see a pdf version here).

Further, feel free to download and read a few articles that may be relevant today:

New! Team-Based Leadership Development -- Why together is better,

Leadership Shake-up -- 4 ways for a leader to make things happen, and

New! Recession Proof Leadership, The Sequel -- 3 more keys to managing through challenging times.

...and don't forget to check out my blog; some interesting (I think) posts on Harvard and their layoffs, California's financial debacle, and "saving your way to prosperity;" ... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

Berchelmann's Blog

If you'd like to know how I can assist you, your organization, or a colleague of yours, please fill out this form and I'll send you some specific information, articles, engagement results, and so forth.

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way, and feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may be interested. (Really!) I appreciate your referrals.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
President
Triangle Performance, LLC
www.triangleperformance.com
kevinb@triangleperformance.com
281.257.4442

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Strategy & Leadership
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Change is Good...
-- But you gotta take the wheels off the cheese

Change is generally good. Certainly, it's as essential as revenue for growing healthy, viable businesses. Innovation, adaptation, improvements... all occur because an organization is willing to change.

There is, of course, a "yeah, but..."

Sometimes, change can simply be too much of a good thing. Or a bad thing, depending on who's driving the show in which direction. Sometimes, the pace of changing is faster than the pace of successful change. Sometimes, we need to make sure a change "takes," or has demonstrated some indicator of success, before changing even more.

Sometimes, to quote a popular movie, "the slow down plan" really is the best approach.

In Spencer Johnson's, "Who moved my cheese?" the book describes a pretty good metaphor for "change" in organizations. In a previous newsletter, I mentioned a client saying - because of the incessant changes they were experiencing - that their "cheese had wheels." Funny, yes, but an accurate description in that metaphor.

Some good advice today might be, "guys -- let's take the wheels off that cheese, okay?"

Examples include:

Automation or technology. Often times, we convince ourselves that technology is always better; that a process automated is inherently a better process. The truth is, merely automating the manual does not make something more effective, nor even more efficient.

If we haven't investigated, streamlined, and fully vetted a process, making it automated is usually a bad decision. If you take something that's crap to begin with, and automate it, you simply get automatic crap. Garbage in, garbage out, only at breakneck speed.

That's dumb. Don't do it.

Performance management. I know of companies that change their process for reviewing performance a half-dozen times in nearly as many years. How in blue blazes is a typical employee supposed to understand a performance process that changes so frequently their boss can't explain it to them?

Short answer? They can't. And if nobody understands, then nobody is accountable. If no one is accountable, then get happy with productivity status quo.

Set expectations... Manage to those expectations... Consequence and reward. This is not a rocket-science process, so don't get wrapped up in your shorts about the review process that follows. And leave it be. At least long enough to see if it works.

Process modification. Whether a manufacturing, assembly, service, chemical process, or even administration, discrete process changes must be allowed to demonstrate some level of results before changing further. Too frequently, we make a relevant change -- for good reason -- then start tweaking on the fly as a result of one input or another.

If the decision-making process was sound, and the information hasn't changed substantially, stay the course until you start seeing results. You don't know if something will work based solely on someone's comments; you need results to make that determination, and those results should be the catalyst for future change (if any).

Not just the noisy whim of some bystander, regardless of their enthusiasm.

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Musings
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Leadership Development in a Time Machine?
-- Let's turn back the clock on that process...

Look, I use technology. I'm writing this on my laptop, sitting on an airplane. I have my Blackberry for email, web access, and texts from my daughter. I blog, tweet, and have embraced most components of social media. Heck, I even like some of that stuff.

But you know what? Technology is not the do-all, end-all. It's not a panacea for all ills, nor is it the best way to do many things. Take letter-writing. Years ago (ask your parents, kiddos), we sent handwritten letters by snail mail. Then, everything became electronic, via email. Now, there's a resurgence again in -- you guessed it -- letter writing.

We turned back that communication clock.

In ancient times (as far back as 1995), nearly all leadership development was done one of two ways: personal, one-on-one mentoring, or facilitated group sessions of various length and subject. An occasional video was shown for variety, but seldom used to out-and-out substitute for the other two delivery methods. Computer-based training was in its infancy, and resembled a powerpoint presentation with English subtitles.

Today, there's much conventional wisdom -- generally propagated by those with a financial interest in doing so -- that says leadership development can be automated; that technology can substitute for face-to-face contact.

Developing leaders, one of the most critical components of successful strategy for any organization, has become more about "completion" than getting better. More about theoretical knowledge than application. We've allowed ourselves to be convinced that we can fully and effectively develop leaders using online content, streaming video, podcasts, and webinars.

In short, we believe we can develop people without people.

We've been hoodwinked, folks. Tricked. Hornswoggled. Had the wool pulled. Worse, after pulling back the curtain and seeing nothing, we're left with under-developed leaders at a time when we need just the opposite.

Time to turn back the leadership development clock. To effectively develop leaders, both for now as well as the future, the efforts must be:

Personal. Face-to-face. Mano a Mano. People working, talking, even disagreeing in person, where context is evident and body language is laid out for all to see. Conflicts can be created, discussed, and resolved -- all in real-time, like it might actually occur in the workplace.

What a concept, eh? Using other people to learn about how best to deal with people. That's some cutting-edge thinking there, Lou.

Applicable. Topics must be made relevant. Note I didn't say simply "relevant," but made relevant. Decision-making is a relevant topic for development in most organizations. When we discuss dumb decisions made, how they were made and by whom, and maybe even peer into some of the "why," the topic is being made relevant for that organization and those people.

Further, we need specific accountabilities to ensure that topics, skills, and new behaviors are practiced and applied. Applied -- that's at the heart of the difference between learning and doing. We're looking for behavioral changes, not for good scores on tests.

Team-based. Ideally, leaders should learn surrounded by relevant groups of peers, either hierarchical or functional. Team-based learning, for leaders, means faster assimilation, shared accountabilities, and increased understanding.

And by team-based, I don't mean singing kumbaya and making S'mores around the campfire. No, I mean learning together, increasing relevance, and establishing a common language for future leadership discussions. None of these can occur during a webinar with downloadable powerpoint slides.

For more reading on team-based leadership development, see this Houston Business Journal article on the topic, featuring my firm and a major client success.

Some things can be done well via technology. Other things really do need to be done personally. Developing leaders is one of those things. Let's turn back that clock on leadership development.

But that's just me...

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© 2009 Triangle Performance, LLC
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