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Did you know that Albert Einstein's brain was dissected after he died and scientists tried to figure out his genius by doing that? That is an extreme measure.
Most of the time, we try to decipher the inner thoughts of our leaders and managers to get a glimpse of their thought processes so that we can have clues to the rationale behind their actions and motivations.
Imagine your supervisor, CEO, head of the division, owner of the company starts doing something that nobody understands. This happens more than you think. Well, the old man doesn't know how to communicate or much less articulate where exactly the business is going and if our jobs will be the next in the firing line.
Companies who haven't made the implicit explicit suffer from unnecessary complexities. Without clear, rational, and strategic thinking, CEOs and leaders cannot articulate and galvanize support from their managers and staffers. Too many times, assumptions that do not conform to the realities of the market, and honest valuation of where the business is growing, where threats are coming from, on and so forth, lose its meaning. Take the case of Sears. The giant company folded up recently because the CEO has lost sight of why it was a great success in the past, forces a new strategy that is totally alien to their core DNA and thus imploded from within.
The challenge is getting the implicit assumptions out and putting on the table, dissecting it, challenging it, validating it, and raising it up to pass the standards of what the market requires and what assets the organization have/can muster. That is the place where strategic thinking starts in organizations. Alternatives can only be sought if the original idea has been validated to be no longer tenable in the context of the competitive landscape, obsolescence of product/services, or organizational failure.
Steve Jobs started with the strategy where personal computers are present in every homes-this strategy is part of the larger vision for computers to become part of the lives of people-not just in companies and institutions as computing tools for business. Avon believes in the Avon lady-as the business strategy that underlies the assumptions that the best distribution is through personal connections & word-of-mouth than using a store-front retail approach.
The best organizations have truly expressed in many creative ways what they stand for, their values and operational missions, their business strategies, and their stories that connect with their stakeholders in a compelling way.
The journey towards their next level of growths starts with understanding why the status quo no longer works/or why it is viable and define the possibilities that can come from that realization.
Do you want a piece of Einstein's brain? Hmmm.
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Framing and reframing are one of the best weapons of the trade of supervisors, managers, executives, negotiators, trainers, communicators, and of course, it can practically be anyone's.
In 2010, with two suitcases and a dream , I landed in Vancouver airport as permanent resident immigrant. No networks, no classmates, no alma mater, no friends, no former employment history in Canada. It was tough, starting again from scratch, leaving the familiarity and security of one's country to live in a foreign land. My savings went almost dry, when I finally got job.
I underwent a rigorous job application. I attended 5-panel interview that lasted almost an hour in intensity. I felt I did good but I didn't feel that I am fully secured about it too. For me at that time, it was a case of a good job.
Looking back and talking to my former supervisor, he said that I nailed it. In hindsight, I used a lot of framing and reframing skills in that time, illustrating and demonstrating my knowledge, skills, and aptitude towards the job that I am seeking. Instead of just answering their questions, I reframed a lot of them to put myself in a situation where I can give better answers. Remember not all questions are the right questions to answer.
This skill of framing the conversation, creating the situation for honesty and candor, providing alternative perspectives are tried and tested way to ensure that the objectives of the meeting are actually achieved. A lot of times, business meetings take enormous amount of time because the facilitator/chair does not know how to manage difficult conversations and steer them effectively.
Enough of that being said, another reason why reframing is important is because the meat of the topic is being skirted, avoided, or ignored. When this happens, somebody in the group can use reframing to bring back the conversation to the topic at hand, identify the hot issues, the 'elephant in the room' so-to-speak and resolve it.
Authentic communication can flourish when people in the conversation takes more time to listen than speak, frame and reframe what needs to be clearly discussed and addressed, and resolved to be accountable for the results in the interim and the long-term or whatever it takes.
You can't use this enough. I am guilty of not using it when I should be which is most of the time. I guess it boils down to being intentional and clear about what you want out of the conversation and the complexities you are facing in that moment.
I can still recall some of the best moments when I didn't jump into my logical conclusions, waited to hear everyone's perspectives, put myself in their shoes, and checked my intentions before I spoke. It made my day unexpectedly pleasant, effective, and less stressful.
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In Asia, bamboos abound. In the place where I grew up, bamboos grow everywhere.
We always equate bamboo with resilience in the context of stormy winds, hurricanes, strong rains and floods. It is very strong but it's strength doesn't come from resisting those natural forces but being able to bend but not break. Once the storm is over, these bamboos could snap back to its form, no problem.
For businesses people and executives suffering from small crisis to big upheavals, how is your resilience level? Do you snap back after a personal crisis, a sickness, losing a loved one, losing a job, getting fired, or just an unexpected turn of events in your life and career? These crises are catastrophic and any person can be physically, emotionally, and psychologically debilitated by these events.
Take note, resilience doesn't mean you don't feel pain or suffer from it. It just means that you can recover from any challenges quickly and become a better person in the process. It means taking all the challenges as fuel for the next level of personal growth and accomplishment. It means owning up your part of the problem without assigning blame, feeling resentment, and being bitter about the situation.
When we bend, we don't break. We let things go, things that we cannot control and let it takes its own course. The bending is for our betterment and this is not a sign of cowardice or timidity or weakness, but a sign of wisdom and great sense of balance and inward strength. As the cliché goes, 'this too shall pass.'
What do you think?
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Both my nephew and niece, play this children's game..
Would you rather have an ice cream or a popsicle?
Would you rather play baseball or basketball?
Would you rather live in Canada or in the Philippines?
Would you rather go to the beach or hike in the mountains?
Would you rather be a lawyer or a doctor?
Would you rather be stranded in the island or stranded inside the cave or swim in shark tank?
Would you rather so on and so on....
Did you get the drift?
This is always in binaries. This or that. Tit or Tat. The Devil or the deep blue sea.
Binaries are narrow specs we put ourselves in because we think that is the only way to be or to have.
For those that resist the binaries, there are more options and opportunities awaiting. There is joy in the discovery of knowing who you really are and what makes you tick.
For those the accept what is being offered and resign to whatever is given, it is just the devil or the deep blue sea.
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Have you heard lately? People in organizations say beware of the consultants. They borrow your watch and tell you the time!
There is a reason for that. From top 5 consulting giant firms, to any Tom-Dick-Harry, everyone is saying they are consultants. From coaches, mentors, palm readers, salespersons and marketers, suppliers, computer geeks, web designers, coders, and anybody that is a solo business owner, they call themselves consultants too!
Well, there are management consultants, technical consultants, executive coaches, psychological counsellors, legal advisors, and many more are plenty around in different professions.
The marketplace is field with consultants of various stripes and colors, peddling different sorts of solutions based on various formula and potions.
Nowadays, there is a bit of cynicism about consultants because not all are good, not all are ethical, and not all could make it in six-figure take home income.
There may be hundred of consultants in one room but there is a huge diversity in application, in background, in skills set, in expertise, in geographical, sectoral experience, and many other essential variables.
It is up to the discerning client or prospective client to figure out the fake from the true ones, filter out the noisy from the substantive elements, and engage those that have actually created real value to comparable organizations in this sector. This is not a daunting task and more and more organization need that extra third party, objective, external validator, verifier, sounding board, advisor to accelerate your growth goals to the next level.
-Check them out. Get recommendations and references from previous clients.
-Know what you really want to achieve in every transaction. Just like any partnership, it should be a win-win proposition.
-Does this person have the credibility, integrity, expertise, and connection that you need? Are there things in your list that are a must or good-to-have?
-Don't go around shopping for the cheapest one. Price is not a predictor of value. Look for quality, value, and undisputed credibility in the field.
Whether you are buying a training material, planning a company retreat, or designing a performance management program, know you needs versus what your want. This will save you lots of time, effort, and troubles.
Take it from me. I am a consultant.
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I am popping a lot of bubbles lately.
There is a tendency by the rank-and-file to project a certain aura of greatness about their companies to the point that when the rubber hits the road, tries to defend their stupid policies and procedures and leave the customer wanting to obliterate them out of the face of the earth!
A classic example of a website form that this organization is promoting to spur up public involvement and engagement with their programs. I put out my hand and expressed interest and started engagement. Well, they have a convoluted and archaic policy of internal referrals and Board approvals, aka 'insider trading.' I called the BS and they can't fail not to admit that if they want to remain exclusive at their own peril, they do not have to bother public citizens like us with these fake forms.
Another classic example of that is the fact that organizations whose mandate is to create public engagement end up actually creating exclusionary and elitist programs that bar interested people from actually being able to participate. Who would have thought that entrepreneurial programs espousing the values of community, transparency, collaboration are those that pretty unfriendly to newcomers and new entrants. This perpetuates the old-boys network mentality and creates incestuous relationships amongst actors in the space. Incestuous relationships are very harmful to organizations and individuals. There is no fresh air coming in.
Whether it is from the public and private sector, citizen leaders like us should refuse to accept the BS, call it for what it is, and get the attention of the decision-maker of the organization. Whether it is an airline, a grocery store, a non-profit, a church, or whatever, bad policies, procedures, protocols, or whatever systems have to be resisted with gusto. Organizations that fail to make corrections are set to suffer from many troubles or count their not-so-long shelf lives.
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Boards and staff have to set the records straight. They need to define their roles and responsibilities. The Board needs to set the general direction for the organization and look at the long-term viability of staff, programs, and assets. While the staff is hired to look after the particular operations of the organization.
When hands-on Board becomes to muddled up in too much detail, the staff feels disempowered and frustrated that every decision including what nails to use or plants to buy or how many colors of the logo needs to have is a pain in itself. Boards are not meant to make those calls!
It is important to leave it up to the staff to figure it out. They are to be trusted to make those important operational decisions because they are close to the problem, they know what works because they have the experience working in this role, and that they need to exercise their creativity and ingenuity. Respecting each other's roles is highly critical to the success of this relationship.
When Board and staff work constructively, then it can be heaven on earth. It is important that staff can consult the Board when....(state those reasons) and stick to those as much as possible. Constructively in the sense that while roles and responsibilities are delineated well, the relationship is very supporting of one another. If both Board and staff collectively use their energies and their strengths together, they can solve problems, anticipate future challenges, and deal with setbacks with resilience.
It is a tango- takes two steps forward and one step backward. As a dance, partners have to be in one heart, soul, and mind so that it doesn't become a labor but of an art in itself. So it does with Board and staff relationship.