(#370) What’s Your B.M.I. (Bureaucratic Mass Index)?

June 25, 2017

Has your bureaucracy morphed into a soul-sucking and
resilience-retarding beast?

Bureaucracy catches a lot of heat. “The Bureaucracy.”  When something goes wrong….blame it on “The Bureaucracy.”  Of course, “The Bureaucracy” provides the structure. The people (the bureaucrats) make it move or stall. The organizational chart might tell the people where they fit in as a cog in the structure.  But those same people give life (or inertia) to the chart.

Anyone who has ever worked in or attempted to navigate through a bureaucracy may think of the words entrenched, glacial, and obstacles.  How does this happen? A short list includes ineffective leadership, poor hiring practices, rigidity, and an institutional culture that rewards non-risk-taking transactional interactions over transformative measures.

Before you can begin to unravel this Gordian knot of inflexible mindsets, you have to recognize the causes of organizational (structural, leadership, and followership) inefficiencies. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review listed seven warning signs that your bureaucracy has morphed into a soul-sucking and resilience-retarding beast.

  1. Bloat: too many managers, administrators, and management layers;
  2. Friction: too much busywork that slows down decision making;
  3. Insularity: too much time spent on internal issues;
  4. Disempowerment: too many constraints on autonomy;
  5. Risk Aversion: too many barriers to risk taking;
  6. Inertia: too many impediments to proactive change;
  7. Politics: too much energy devoted to gaining power and influence.”

The article says to take account of, what the authors call, the B.M.I.: “Bureaucracy Mass Index.”  A difficult task that takes concerted effort by insiders and customers alike.

The HBR articled asks, “How pervasive is bureaucracy in your organization? How much time and energy does it suck up? To what extent does it undermine resilience and innovation? Which processes are more trouble than they’re worth?”

The HBR list can (at least) provide a starting point for a conversation.  Just don’t let the conversation become one more stultifying exercise in bureaucratic futility.

More poignantly, do nothing and Pogo proves prophetic.


Video recommendation for the week.

Perhaps this young actress will help us listen more intently to the “Sh*t Bureaucrats Say.”


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.



For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#368) Fake, Illegitimate Or Incomplete Information?

June 11, 2017

Just because you find a lot of information does not mean
you have found accurate or credible information

If, as famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows,” then can we say the same for a person who claims one source of information as the fount of all legitimacy and contrary accounts to be illegitimate or “fake”? Has she stopped discerning because she “knows” what is legitimate and what is fake?

More than five years ago, I shot a quick video (see below) outlining four basic considerations when considering information to address an issue or task?

  1. What information do you need for the task at hand?
  2. Where will you find that information?
  3. How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy and legitimacy?
  4. How will you organize and use the information for your audience?

Can we grow as individuals if we filter what we read, hear, and see through one source (or a number of like-minded sources)?  Are we motivated to grow–or just “be right” even in the face of confounding information?

Do we care?

A friend shared two stories this week.  I doubt they are apocryphal.

  • A neighbor asked my friend where she got her news. My friend rattled off a list of seven or eight sources. Out of hand, the neighbor dismissed the entire list as thoroughly “illegitimate.” When asked what her source of information was, the neighbor mentioned one source. Just one source. It was, according to her, legitimate. End of story. (See numbers two and three, above.)
  • My friend has found the same situation in her college classroom.  No matter the topic,  two camps emerge. Diametrically opposed. Refusing to listen and discuss with the other. Each considering their source(s) of information legitimate and the others’ suspect at the least and fake at the worst.

Is this a sign of intellectual laziness? A lack of critical thinking? Or is this sort of thing nothing new—just magnified because everyone can have a social media platform where we surround ourselves with “likes” and “shares” and then block opposing viewpoints?  (I still remember my mother often warning me (more than fifty years ago) not to speak about politics or religion.) It does seem like today’s volume, as well as the personal vitriol, has been cranked up considerably.

I offered a suggestion to my friend.

  1. Pick two sources of news that generally disagree on issues and stances.
  2. Find one current news story on which both of these sources present a similar account of the issue or event.
  3. Print both stories without any attribution (nothing that would identify the sources).
  4. Ask your friend (or students) to identify the “illegitimate source” based solely on the content presented. If both stories are drawing the same conclusion then how can the argument hold that a particular source is always illegitimate?

Perhaps you could do it as well to at least start a rational conversation. Start with common ground and move from there.


Video recommendation for the week.

Just because you find information does not mean you have credible information.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.



For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#363) A Resiliency Group: Collaboration, Creativity, Caring, and Collegiality

May 7, 2017

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something,
get creative and start a resiliency movement yourself.

During my undergraduate years at Jacksonville University, I spent a fair number of hours in the campus library. On the second floor (as I remember), there were a few study rooms.  Here a student could isolate himself for quiet. I recall some of these rooms having a typewriter for those needing to hammer out a term paper. Quiet time.

When I taught at Florida State College at Jacksonville, the library had quiet rooms for students to study or practice for presentations.  These study groups helped students understand concepts, share ideas, review notes, and encourage one another during exam preparation. Collaborative growth and development.

The image of students pulling all-nighters notwithstanding, some campuses now provide nap zones and nap stations.  A rested student is a better-prepared student the thinking goes.

When I visited Zappos headquarters last month, I met the “Zappos Mayor” (Tony Ferrara). In follow-up emails, I asked the “Mayor” about the Zappos nap room.  Where there any metrics on its use and success?

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

“Yes, we do have a nap room here at Zappos for those folks that may need a little power nap during their break or lunch times. In addition to the nap room, we have several miscellaneous benefits here at Zappos …. We don’t provide these extras specifically for the purpose of quantifying their results. We provide them as part of building and maintaining culture through employee engagement.   For example, we don’t monitor who uses the nap rooms at all. They’re there for the benefit and convenience of team members, not for analyzing metrics.”


Video recommendation for the week.

Arianna Huffington promotes the power of rested employees.  As she states in this clip, the workplace “pays people for their judgment not their stamina.”


More than likely, your workplace does not have a nap room.  The culture and the leadership may not support such a departure from the industrial work model.  OK. What can you do to promote wellbeing?

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something, get creative and start a movement yourself.  Consider your own “resilience group.”  Create a critical mass for a “resilience movement.”  It could start over a cup of coffee or a walk around the campus during lunch.

It does not have to be a venting group. In fact, since it is a resilience group, you may want to focus on positives. What is working in your workplace and how can you create more of it?

Start with a group of co-workers you can trust, talk with, and share ideas; people who understand your experiences. You function as a collegial support group. You might find that you need to bring in a facilitator at some point to bring your “movement” to a higher level.

At times, just having co-workers acknowledge that they hear our concerns, and maybe share those concerns, is the shot of energy we need. Great start. But what action will you take beyond the words?  What will your collective resiliency plan look like? When will you start?

Collaboration.  Caring.  Collegiality. No need to be an island.

It’s worth consideration.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#362) Small Acts of Gratitude

April 30, 2017

“Silent gratitude is not much use to anyone.”
– Gertrude Stein –

Saying “thank you.” Giving a cheerful “good morning!” Expressing appreciation. Providing a hug, emotionally if not physically.  Each of these requires a tiny investment of energy.  The result compounds in ways we may not anticipate.

I have been spending time lately listening to my podcast episodes and reacquainting myself with the wonderful insights of my guests.  After I re-listen to an episode, I take a few minutes to send an email thanking the guest for his/her contributions to the community.  Literally, the email takes about 180 seconds to create and “send.”

The goal is simple: recognition and validation of a person. A small act.

Almost to a person, their responses (which I was not expecting) said something along the lines of “you don’t know how much your email means to me.”  One individual was having a particularly rough week (which I had no way of knowing).  The email told me, “Thanks for the email…appreciate the little things in life!”

Five years ago, I dedicated myself to a year a gratitude. You can read about here.  I committed myself to a simple daily discipline—and it continues to give back to others.  (I still have people, to whom I sent a gratitude note, share that they have kept and cherish my handwritten note.)

Think of the small acts of kindness done for you—and that you do for others.  It does not take much effort to say thank you or recognize a job-well-done.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. Thank you for the gratitude you share with your community.

Thank you.

P.S.  A few hours after I wrote this blog post, I received an unexpected “Thank You Note” from a friend. She simply wanted to thank me for being in her life.  A card that I will tuck away in my gratitude file.

Nice.

Thank you!


Video recommendation for the week.

I have shared this video before.  It never gets old because it helps us connect with one another on a personal, meaningful, and authentic level.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#361) Where’s My Trophy?

April 23, 2017

How would you develop a meaningful and effective employee recognition program?
What represents “average” and what looks like “excellent” at your workplace?

Transformational leaders understand the importance of timely, authentic, and meaningful employee recognition.   The leader knows her people and what best motivates them. (For instance, accolades must resonate with the different generational mindsets that may be in the work setting.  Boomers may crave financial reward and titles, while millennials favor flexibility benefits.)

Even though the All Stars generally standout, there will be shortsighted, why-not-me workplace citizens who have difficulty recognizing and acknowledging the good work of others. What’s a leader to do in order to connect with all team members?

One of the last scenarios in my new book gives readers the opportunity to grapple with the best way to recognize employee efforts.  While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation or job title, for example.  Instead of “department chair,” use “manager” or “supervisor.”

Whether we talk about faculty, corporate managers, dockworkers, or administrative assistants recognizing them for a “job well done” seems like commonsense to overall personnel development.

Your work environment may adeptly understand and expertly execute employee recognition. If so, I would like to learn about your system. Leave a comment on this blog.


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me set the stage for the scenario.

For more hands-on introductory videos, visit my video playlist.


As you and your colleagues grapple with this scenario, consider if Professor Hadit works in an environment where everyone believes he or she is excellent. If that is the case, then hasn’t “excellent” in that environment actually become “average”? Excellent indicates far above the average. What represents average and what looks like excellent at your workplace?

The scenario:

“Got a moment?” asked Professor Hadit as he stood at his colleague’s office door.

“Sure, come on in, Don. Have a seat.” Professor Binder pointed to the seat at the side of his desk. Both professors taught in the English department on their campus. Don Hadit it was the current department chair. He had been in that position for two years.

“Not sure where to start, Ann, other than this is the stereotypical case of doing what I thought was right only to catch grief from every direction. Remember the campus meeting we had last week with the campus president?”

“Yeah,” replied Ann. “I thought it went well. Very positive. Especially the recognition of the ‘all-stars’ in each of the departments. Finally, nice to see faculty recognized for what they do well.”

“Well, there’s the rub,” said Don with a sigh. “We, the department chairs, were asked to pass along the names of some of our faculty who have done something well over the last semester. We could only give four or five names. The president wanted to reach out and thank those folks. So, I did that. Thought it was a good idea, too. Unfortunately, my phone has not stopped ringing, the email inbox keeps dinging, and there have been a few unpleasant conversations—or should I say diatribes—in my office.”

“I don’t understand,” offered a confused-looking Ann. “About positive recognition?”

“Yeah. It seems people got very upset—I mean red-in-the-face mad—that they weren’t recognized. Some went as far as to tell me why the people I chose were not deserving of such recognition. I’m flabbergasted. Feeling a bit blindsided. Even had one person claim the only reason you were recognized is because we are friends outside of campus. Gee. Since I observe every teacher in this department and conduct thorough evaluations, I thought I was in the best place to be objective.”

Ann raised her eyebrows and blew a slow breath.

“I’m not sure how to rebound from this one. Frankly, I’m mad as hell. Got any thoughts?” asked Professor Hadit as he slumped into the chair and stared straight ahead at the wall. “I feel like we’re stuck in a place where everyone has to get a trophy!”

Reflect on This

  • If you were in Professor Hadit’s position, would you have proceeded any differently when asked by the campus president for a few of the “All Stars” in your department? Briefly explain.
  • How does your workplace recognize its All Stars? How should it recognize the All Stars?

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#357) Perspective

March 26, 2017

Our attention will determine our interpretation.

What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you see the photo below?

 

Now, same question as you expand the view and context of the photo?

Hmm. Marriages performed juxtaposed with a bedpan–with a prickly little cactus.

How about this view?

My, my. Marriages performed connected to a bedpan with a smirking vulture (with beads, no less) standing guard.

When I first saw the scene (in Cedar Key, Florida), my eyes were immediately drawn to the vulture. “Is this an art gallery or second-hand shop?”   As my eyes drifted to the right, I saw the sign.  I said to Laurie, “I’ve got to have a photo of that. It’s priceless.”

It was not until later in the day that I spied the bedpan. I laughed at what I had missed and another spin on the message popped into my mind.

A scene, situation, or dilemma takes on different meanings depending on where our gaze falls.  Our attention will determine our interpretation.

We have to understand perspective if we want a clear (or clearer) picture of a situation at hand.

One definition of perspective requires “seeing all relevant data in a meaningful relationship.”

It’s something to consider with collaboration and relationships. Do we narrowly frame a situation and thus miss opportunities? Do we start with answers and, consequently, miss the important questions?  Do we think of moving the spotlight or adjusting the focus so we go a little off-center?

We all have to be aware of our cognitive traps. This week, consider moving the spotlight a little. Whether you find a smirking vulture or not, your shifting perspective could help you better understand what you need to do in a perplexing situation.


Video recommendation for the week.

Do you believe what you perceive you receive?  Consider this perspective!


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

All photos taken by Steve Piscitelli. (c) 2017.

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#353) Change Management

February 26, 2017

We all are in the change management business.

Did you know that about 500,000 jobs exist in the “change management” field? Titles like, “Culture Change Manager…Change Management Analyst…Change Management Lead…Change Management Specialist….”

Who knew?

As I prepare for two corporate programs—one in Las Vegas and one here in Florida—that scrutinize the topic of “change management,” two questions guide my thinking.

  1. Haven’t we been managing change at one level or another for a long time? After all, Heraclitus offered more than two centuries ago, “Change is the only constant in life.”
  2. Since change is not new, then what is new about it in the current context and—why should we care?

We could make an argument that to every generation the change it faces is monumental, huge, and precedent busting. No one has ever faced anything like it before or will again.  Or, at least so they think in the moment—their moment.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Maybe the change involved technology (assembly line), government (the Constitutional Convention), women’s rights (suffrage amendment), equal access (Brown v. Board of Education), aviation (the Wright Brothers) or education (Title IX). You can name many more.

One measure used by economic historians to measure the rate of change looks at how long it takes 50% of the households to adopt the change. By that standard, it took electricity and TV about twenty-eight years.  Radio, television, and the Internet, less than a decade.

Again, Heraclitus told us that, “Everything changes and nothing stands still.”

Bottom line, we all are in the change management business. Whether we hold responsibility for workplace productivity, renovating our home, or handling a healthcare crisis, change faces us. If we think that we will drown in change, know that we have been through it before and will confront it again.

Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.
― Leo Tolstoy—

The first thing to do is consider what change we need to consider. The CEO may look at change as it relates to technology, rapidity, different generational attitudes, uncertainty, institutional culture, and/or sustainability.

I would suggest, at the least, we need to understand the professional and personal perspective from which to address change. When we talk about change, what do we expect those we lead and ourselves to do? Consider this short list as you move forward with change management in your life. What do you want to do as it relates to change? Do you want to

  • Accept it?
  • Anticipate it?
  • Cause it?
  • Control it?
  • Follow it?
  • Ignore/resist it?
  • Slow/speed it?
  • Understand it?
  • Question it?
  • Do something else?

Some choices move us forward. Others, not.

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 
― George Bernard Shaw


Video recommendation for the week:

Change will happen. So, what do you do with the change resistors? Click here for one strategy.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

55031146_high-resolution-front-cover_6597771-1

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


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