Active Meeting Assignments

If people do not have active assignments, if they only attend meetings to hear reports and ask questions, truly professional work cannot be accomplished. 

Management: The Essence of the Craft. Pp 217. Fredmund Malik, Campus Verlog (c) 2010

Malik was speaking specifically of an institution’s supervisory board. But it strikes me as equally useful in other standing meetings. 

Malik on Charisma

Historically, charismatic leaders have almost always produced catastrophes — in every field. 

Charisma … is neither necessary nor desirable for true leadership or right management. 

Uncluttered Management Thinking: 46 Concepts for Masterful Management. Fredmund Malik. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / New York. (C) 2011. pp 16-17.

This is going to be a good read. 

Be Likable

Here’s a gem from the February 20th edition of Mad, Sad, Glad from

This is a typical HBR article in that it’s long and academic.  The important part is that people would rather work with with someone who is incompetent than someone who is unlikable.  If you think that smarts are enough, refer to our very first podcast ‘Solution to a Stalled Technical Career‘.  Yes, HBR, we said it 10 years ago 🙂

2015-06-03 Unlikeable

What! I thought this was a meritocracy! Am I not hired for my mad skills?!

Well, yes. You are.

And contributing positively to a team is a skill. One the vast majority of us can’t succeed without.

Be likable.

Be a good, kind, and gracious person. People tend to like those.

No tricks. Don’t just gently imitate others like Andy Bernard from The Office. Trickery is icky and doomed to fail — if not professionally then ultimately in the shriveling of your soul.

Innovation is Saying “No” to 1000 Things

People think focus means saying “yes” to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying “no” to a thousand things.

Steve Jobs as attributed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. 11h 26m 15s

By the way, as you can see I’m making progress on Taleb’s book and loving it.  Some of it is a bit dense for listening to at 3x so I have to slow it down and re-listen. Very well-reasoned and thought-provoking ideas.

Ironically this quote isn’t one of his own ideas but support for his ideas. I might have to listen to it a second time in order to pull out small quotes that really represent the whole. Kinda feels like swimming in deep waters right now.

I will say that Taleb talks a bit about ADHD and formal education. As a parent with at least one young child with ADHD these strike close to home. (ADHD runs in my family like the Force does in the Skywalkers.)

The tension between what fits the mold and what fits the child — the possible systematic harm from having a mold. Good questions.

Quotpourri: Listening, Safety, and Leadership

From an SSCA Newsletter (and the linked to Desktop Coach article).

Active Listening

Listen with the absence of thought. Listen without a filter. Listen without inserting your own viewpoints, paradigm, personal experiences, or belief systems. Listen without feeling the need to provide an answer.

Build a Circle of Safety

[The] best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a Circle of Safety that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

Lead Consciously

[Ask] yourself, “What is the goal of this meeting?”, “What is the outcome I am wanting?”, and “What is the leadership behavior I must engage in to invite this outcome?” Ask yourself which is more important: your actions as a leader or your team’s reactions to your actions?

Two Common Release Plan Types

Two basic types of release plans that are widely used are scope-boxed release plans and time-boxed release plans.

“In a scope-boxed plan the work that the team will do is defined in advance, but the release date (time) is uncertain. In a time-boxed plan the time and release date is defined in advance, but the specific work that people will do is uncertain and is being elaborated with time.

“Time-boxed plans are the most preferred way of release planning. This will constrain the amount of work and people will automatically start doing the prioritization which is the fundamental concept of Agile.”

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner; Chapter 5: Planning, Monitoring, and Adapting

Roberto’s 5 Decision Making Myths

A discussion I was having with a frustrated coworker reminded me of these decision making myths from Professor Roberto.

We maintain a belief in a number of myths about how decisions are made in groups and organizations…

“Myth #1: The chief executive decides. Reality: Strategic decision making entails simultaneous activity by people at multiple levels of the organization….

“Myth #2: Decisions are made in the room. Reality: Much of the real work occurs ‘off-line,’ in one-on-one conversations or small subgroups, not around a conference table….

“Myth #3: Decisions are largely intellectual exercises. Reality: High-stakes decisions are complex social, emotional, and political processes….

“Myth #4: Managers analyze and then decide. Reality: Strategic decisions unfold in nonlinear fashion….

“Myth #5: Managers decide and then act. Reality: Strategic decisions often evolve over time and proceed through an iterative process of choice and action….”

Professor Michael A. Roberto, The Art of Critical Decision Making, Course Guidebook pp. 5