TownLink

News + Views

Attitude…the real opportunity

0

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

Few things wear commitment as a tree. John Muir, environmentalist, naturalist, adventurer, and thinker excited the notion in his famous words, “It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!” Were these well-limned words to qualify the yaw of fellow travelers—men—the workplace and the world would produce a different math than the cacophony of avarice, misrepresentation, and malingering that refreshes pixel-like as we look around. Indeed: taking measure of us John Muir chose defense of the tree.

 
At a time when employers, private and government, and the employment engine, struggled as typical “America first and foremost” fealty vanished, a dissuaded populace moaned of joblessness and the economic uncertainty that sours the palette. If we pause to give promise a history lesson, visions of the “Greatest Generation” come into focus, even though most seeking employment (during The Great Recession), our youth, then 72 percent un-contracted in the marketplace, and little charged of its principles, and near absent knowledge of Tom Brokaw, chronicler of the now famous label on America’s most productive, ethically rooted, and committed by principle, were feeling vexed and uncommitted to the navigational star in a stormy sea of fainting hopes. If a bleak and forlorn sentence, consider that employees, not employers, were more lost in the turbulence of the cultural sea change that painted their present and their future.

 
Born of nothing but promise, Americans from every land found harmony in ethic that joined all in the belief that just about anybody “could,” in a society aching and achieving by its diversity of imagination, approach, and vision. Brokaw’s “generation,” if indeed the greatest generation society ever produced, fought the Great War not for “fame and recognition” but because “it was the right thing to do.” Extraordinary! Drawn together in common cause and hardened to a softness that respected the right to be and to contribute by one’s labor’s, they found unity and strength in the resolve to build a better life, and fashioned America as the greatest economic engine ever known to man and a worldwide superpower. They landed on our shores with nothing but a great work ethic and a great attitude. As Martin Klinzing put it, “Essentially (the) discussion boils down to the fact that you can teach someone anything except to care.”

 
So where is the harmonic connection to what is “right and true,” to the “Greatest Generation,” its chords ringing with the opportunity in work, the promise of a brighter future, lost after the making, or so Brokaw and those before who lamenting its decline decried, switching psyches as though horses to position leverage, entitlement, greed, and the pursuit of individual rights as idols? The disequilibrium in this math, confounding the symmetry atavistic of good beginnings, is the confusion in the workplace that delivers poor attitudes, habits, the god in spurious resumes, and ultimately uncommitted human assets. Few workers take to their daily bread winning as “settlers,” in the words of E. B. White of The New Yorker Magazine, with the unbridled passion that mirrors the productivity of an earlier age and a magnetism that collects those around them as they sail into the wind and by a star. Sadly, those that don’t fit onto this boat are the disenfranchised “commuters” of an economic engine now wagged by its tail.

 
As the economy returns to growth, on all planes, the demand for labor will change positions with the supply of it as workers take the bully pulpit. Employers will feel the pressure to increase their profiles—better wages, benefits, and perks. It’s the way of free market models, ultimately directed by supply and demand. Don’t give in to it!

 
There is little disagreement with the premise that attitude trumps skills in the selection of new employees. And though foundation stones in the model of quality employees, attitude and work ethic have complements, not least, “segment knowledge, soft skills like leadership and managerial quality, creativity, and the ability to learn and adapt to the changing environment,” as Professor Emeritus of Harvard Business School James Heskett has noted by the measure of thirty years of study. Driven to discover the route to excellence in organizations, he went beyond the conventional wisdom: “hire for attitude and train for skills. “Attitude” took on new meaning, in summary, “ … the ability to identify with and “live” core values of the organization such as respect for others, being customer-driven, etc. Management has concluded that it is too difficult and costly to try to change the attitudes of adults. As a result, they release those unable to work and manage according to the organization’s values and replace them with those who can.”

 
Not coincidentally, the work revealed that capital flows follow quality labor, a conclusion of considerable study by Gregory Clark, summarized in his 2006 book, A Farewell to Alms, minimizing the long-term threat of outsourcing to developed economies. The image of this favored son of the Greatest Generation is not only worth the effort necessary to good employee selections, but also worth waiting for, if Clark is right. As C. J. Cullinane, commented: “Attitude is all … if employees are the (corporate) brain cells, then long-term employees are the long-term memory of the corporate brain.”

March 29, 2019 |

Blood Lines

0

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

In the midst of an economic cold spell, no less the “hot n’ cold” market temperatures whipping it up, the expectations of spring inching its way toward us, the days getting longer, and the hope for an economic thaw growing energy, we take stock of what has drained so painfully through our fingers and from our purses these last years. The exercise in assessment may be more John Naisbitt than Jay Leno, but necessary if not fun. What has happened in the “dreary years”—too many refuse to call the recent “worldwide depression” what it was—since 2007 sifted man, mechanism, and malodorous management and come up wanting. Assessment, though a staple of OD, is the “sine qua non” of vital organizations.

 
When we lift a handful of dirt from the garden as spring approaches, the assay is felt in the friable content of the dirt. To do well, plants must be in fertile soil, containing no less than nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and a balanced pH–so too organizations. Endowed of the “right stuff” they will prosper and grow … to everyone’s benefit—employees, vendors, community, and nation. Absent the minimum constituents they will falter and die.

 
In his arch sentience, E B White, of New Yorker fame, said of New Yorkers: “Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidarity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. Indeed, gifted organizations are no less well endowed by the diversity in this math.

 
Commuters are the workers who come in the morning and leave at night; never fully invested and quite willing to leave work behind after leaving the office. They are typically in search of a better opportunity though seemingly glad to have a job. Though their coming and going is the disequilibrium that managers hate most—hiring, training, and testing new people are upsetting to process and productivity—attrition is as common as those arriving late to work. In the end, functions must be performed and positions filled.

 
Natives are the bedrock of organizations. They may not be the best performers but they are always there, willing, and waiting to join the next initiative. They are the people who “chop wood carry water”, as the old Zen saying goes. They inhabit the workplace as no others, warm the organizational ethic, show up on snow days especially if they come the farthest distance, and set the standard for hard work. They can always be counted on to do something, even if not the most creative, clever, or productive something. They are the loyal supporters, the janissary. No claque, the natives are the kedge stone that whittles efficiency from a wooded mass.

 
Settlers come to stake claim to something uniquely theirs. They are the passionate few, who dare to be different, consider the fun in risk taking, and find security in their qualified oddity. They hatch ideas and are confused when others don’t cotton to them. Undaunted, they charge ahead expecting others to join if only to taste the excitement. They are pure heat.

 
This is what gives organizations their identity, their blood type. Too much of one cell spells trouble; balance in diversity delivers the promise of achievement—purpose. Ever sentient, E. B. White saw this too.

 
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

March 19, 2019 |

The Power of a Positive Self-Image (PPSI)

0

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World in 1492. Some months later he came to land that is variously ascribed to his discovery of it. Though it was not until his third voyage that he actually landed on the Americas that we know today, the achievement was significant in terms of the accomplishments of the day. Indeed, his voyages were ill conceived of purpose — a short route to India — narrowly funded, and miscalculated for the distance between Spain and the Americas.

 
The earth may have been perceived as flat by common folk of the day, though no sailor held that view. Its circumference, indeed its cubism, is credited to the math of Eratosthenes some 1700 years earlier. Columbus’ estimate of 2400 miles was close enough, based erroneously on a misunderstanding of the Arabic miles used in his calculations, but land was what he sought. Given the right direction, whenever he found it, the voyage ended. It was that simple.

 
Born of meager beginnings, the explorer had it in mind to accomplish something he believed in. It was first his ability to navigate the world, and next to commercialize his skill for the benefit of nations seeking an edge in the warring struggles of the day. Beginning in 1485, Columbus traveled throughout Europe in search of funding for his passions. First to Portugal, then to Genoa and Venice, to Portugal again, and on to Spain, he went. He was summarily dismissed in all places, but just as he was preparing to leave Spain, Isabella summoned him (by the influence of the king, her husband Ferdinand) to return. Fresh from the successful battle for Granada, Isabella granted Columbus an annuity of $840 (and other perks) in 1489. Had the invitation to appear before Henry VII of England come sooner, Columbus might have set sail from Jolly Ole’ instead. With such a preponderance of negative weight on his shoulders, how ever did Columbus succeed?

 
Daily, today’s workers struggle with the very same question. Despite an education, knowledge of right principles and practices, and the “apparent” modeling of successful others, the visceral rumbling in most workers is the question: “Why can’t I succeed?” Often appearing in different words, the question is the same.

 
• I can’t control my inner urges. What’s wrong with me?
• Why do I become so anxious about things that I feel sick to my stomach, almost to the point of vomiting?
• I know I have to pick up the phone to make money, but why can’t I get myself to do it?
• I have an entire list of things to do. Why won’t I do it, and what should I do first?
• I’ve read countless books on positive thinking, motivation, building confidence, and others specific to the success I crave. Why can’t I follow their advice?
• I’ve been in therapy, counseling, coaching, and talked with friends, but I’m still lost. Why?
• I’m a capable person with a stable, long-term experience in my field. Why can’t I find another job?
• I’m about to lose my marriage. Why can’t I change enough to save it?

 
Frustration naturally accompanies the conflict between what we want and what we’re getting, or the discomfort in not getting through certain kinds of situations. All the study in the world is hard to recapture when we are in the crucible, where our battles take place. On those occasions, and as soon as we leave the “Performance Improvement” seminar, we go on “autopilot,” acting the way we are accustomed, not having to “think” about it. We “forget” to do what we were told to do, one of the deficiencies in motivational speaking as a learning tool.

 
Without the habit-forming ardor of daily practice, most of what we hear and learn is lost in a single day. In fact, without it (practice), 93 percent of what we learn today will be lost in our unconscious minds in six months.

 
Reversal: A Success Model
We must run as fast as the world around us to bring it into view, as though spinning a quarter on a table to narrow our focus on the desired outcome. It is only then that we can slow it down enough (E=MC2) to consider things carefully. In this way, we find the root of our limitations in this slowing process, release the old and install the new, reversing the self-destructive nature of perceived limitations. In doing so, we learn the patience that informs self-help.

 
The things we do that chase success are too numerous to mention here, but to consider a few that may underlie all others is helpful. Check those that apply to you and vow to release, replace, and reverse them.

 
Some things that chase success, cause failure:
• Failures, mistakes, setbacks, delays, criticism negatively affect your self-image, have negative meanings, and create images of failure.
• Taking no responsibility for negative outcomes/setbacks. It’s someone else’s fault — poor performance that caused it.
• Self-doubt, lack of faith. Feeling/believing “I can’t.” Remember, those who say “I can” and those who say “I can’t” are both right.
• Love for/attraction to people, places, and things. These are behaviors that get in the way of positive goals/outcomes.
• Dislike/repulsion to tasks, people and places that help you achieve positive goals/outcomes.
• Worry. A preoccupation with “what’s not perfect” and “what could go wrong.”
• Exaggerating the size and difficulty of goal-oriented tasks or decisions.
• Exaggerating the effect of mistakes, setbacks and delays, criticisms (real or imagined).
• Disaster thinking. Imagining the worst outcomes/effects.
• Stress. It destroys the ability to accomplish desired outcomes (Think right now).

 
When we believe that we are not good at something, we risk the feelings above in an effort to confirm a negative self-esteem, to feel more comfortable with ourselves. We get to this place quite automatically — the reason self-help books and motivational speakers have a short-lived effect on us.

 
The good news is that these behaviors are learned. They can be unlearned. Often, there is more power in unlearning than in learning. We can create the emotional and behavioral changes that inform success — achieving hoped-for, planned results. It is the magic of the subconscious mind that allows it, a mind that knows no difference between a real or imagined experience. Use it, as Christopher Columbus obviously must have, and achieve through the “power of a positive self-image.”

March 7, 2019 |

Counting Losses

0

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

Most of what you hear from me is about winning in the market space. I trust it is on solid moral grounds that I recommend any action you might take to grow your organizations. By and large, however, this column is about growing something—people, attitudes, initiatives, product and market strength, and the underpinning ethic that informs good citizenship. It is about gain.

 
The model of a successful organization is one that is tilted forward in the marketplace, embracing risk as though it were another flight of stairs to climb. It is one whose people and institutions are aligned with its goals, whose same people are in pursuit of personal and professional growth, and who also know that to achieve the greatness they desire requires a mighty dose of unselfish giving of themselves … to others, for their successes first.

 
We have studied the ways to assess the market, its internal workings. As well, we have looked at how to measure it’s performance, its potential, and the opportunity in it and us to realize the promise it holds for self fulfillment and a better life and legacy.

 
In over seven hundred columns we’ve considered tools, models of efficiency, execution cultures, focus, leadership, management techniques, problem solving and decision-making, managing risk, change, conflict, talent, conquering doubt, engagement, benchmarking, trust, passion, commitment, and failure.

 
In the process we call development, we face challenges that test our mettle, that reveal the person inside, that measure our stomach for the war game we call business. At times, the struggle is a little greater than we’d choose to endure, if the choice were ours in the first place. It usually isn’t, save the planned failure that gives light to a natural model in the behavioral tracking of people at work.

 
We’ve also learned that there is no productive value in blame or excuses, no less than from Dick Lyles book, Winning Habits, in which he describes as the second winning habit the urging to never trade results for excuses. It’s a winsome idea, since we know that they (excuses) are born of fear, and that fear robs us of our courage, our will to press on.

 
At times, in the struggle, we must be willing to allow failed initiatives to die, shut down even long-running operations in favor of building an entirely new lineup of products, be willing to embrace loss, endure pain, temporarily lose freedoms, build relationships with competitors, accept compromise, and imagine a market space, even life as we know it, markedly different than the one in which we have become so comfortable.

 
These are often counted as losses, and rightfully so. Our usual “take no prisoners” verve whines wistfully when what we counted highly on the way to achievement measures differently in the end. It is when we are less in control of things than we’d like to be. It is when our perspective floats around us like the vast sea as we struggle to keep afloat without aid of fins or floatation devices. It is when we count loss, not give up, but just count loss because it is real.

 
Someday I hope to hear grandchildren call me grandpa, to ride ten miles on my Trek 1200 at 75, as I do now, to count wisdom greater than wealth, and to see the living things around us as more than just resources. Someday I hope to gain perspective on all the things I do and find others in the midst of my joy. And someday I hope to get over the loss of Argento, who at just under two years old left this world a cancer victim. I miss him waking me in the morning as he leaves my side in bed, and his warm and peaceful carpeted skin on my lap as I sit and read, and his deep throaty purring calling to an ancient wisdom. Despite all that I know about gain, today I count loss.

March 7, 2019 |

Holding onto Knowledge

0

 

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

We spend a good part of our lives accumulating knowledge, building skills that are its natural tools, and informed and engaged lives that benefit from it. We seem to value “intelligence” (the ability to learn) in others, an organized mind, and the approaches that obtain. If only we could hold onto it, we think, our success—in all things—would be so much greater.

 
If a better memory would, but is there anything else that quickly cobbles the connections to knowledge bits that can serve us, in both our personal and professional lives? And, how do we capture, use and keep it?

 
The answer lies in the question. Information, by its nature, is static and linear; out of context it has little meaning and little implication for the future. It must relate to and form a pattern of consistent behavior to be most useful. Not coincidentally, the approach tracks the human experience—the subconscious mind compares what the “conscious” offers up against what is stored in the “unconscious”–accumulated experience and understanding. Knowledge management systems do no more than this fundamental task. In organizations they must, however, be managed carefully where organic automation of the process is absent. Intelligent creation, capture, classification, and sharing are necessary.

 
There is much discussion these days about comprehensive knowledge management (KM) solutions; also, confusion about where to find them, how to use them, and their likely impact. While some claims are the magniloquence of the eager, KM is in fact, producing powerful results, often under the names of data mining or best practices sharing.

 
There are three areas where knowledge management seems to be working well: Opportunity ID, Support, and Process Improvement. It’s not a technology issue, though technology plays a part. It’s about the thinking in solutions finding, and the data that reveal and facilitate it. We have all come upon a data service that is the fulfillment of our long-held desire to better inform decisions. When we see it the opportunities hidden in the task of building such a system pop out at us. So too, support, which at its basic level requires the steady review and distribution of helpful data. Finally, everything benefits from process management, the sine qua non of performance improvement.

 
As you prepare a KM system of your own, think about the concept as it applies to your entire organization. Rebuild the image of critical information flowing through the functional areas of the business, and how it aligns with organizational goals. Then seek out tools you can use with relative ease. As you do, remember; there are no “push button” solutions, as many enterprise-level providers would have you believe.

 
• Look at all functional processes; don’t just focus on IS.
• Consider the need for and effective use of all KM elements–
Creation, Capture, Classification, and Sharing.
• Make sure all systems—accounting, IT, hiring, training, rewards,
everything–support the organizational purpose.
• Apply the KISS principle to all things. In this regard, remember there
are only four phases of KM. Narrow your efforts on areas likely to produce    the greatest results, such as “strategic focus” and key “process management.”

 
Csikszentmihalyi’s interpretation of complexity may be helpful. It pivots on the degree to which things are simultaneously differentiated and integrated. The idea is that complexity evolves along a corridor—what is more highly differentiated and integrated is more complex. Thus, high levels of differentiation without integration promote complexity, while things highly integrated without differentiation produces the mundane. Since we avoid complexity and shun the mundane, somewhere in the middle is most attractive (and useful) to us. In simple terms, reduce the number of components (differentiation) and increase the interconnections (integration) between data that ultimately reveals the common sense (mundane) in it.

 
Not an end in itself
KM is best thought of as a means to accomplish important things. They are simply conceived, and universally applied to all businesses and organizations, though uniquely labeled from age to age. If you’ve survived the “formula fifties,” the “sensitive sixties,” the “strategic seventies,” the “excellent eighties,” the “nanosecond nineties,” and are toddling through the “OD 0’s,” you are among a wizened group of the battle ready. KM ought to present few “real” challenges.

 
Simply, it means to better prepare us for a few important things. Knowledge Management–most things–are important to the extent they improve the organization’s ability to develop and effectively manage these four areas.

 
Mission:    What we wish to accomplish.
Competition:    How we gain a competitive edge.
Performance:    How we deliver the results.
Change:    How we manage change.

 
The value of Knowledge Management relates directly to the effectiveness with which the managed knowledge enables organizations to deal with today’s situations and effectively envision and create their future.

 
Using Sales Support as an example, KM provides access to customer records, typical behavior, presentations, research, and technical manuals—everything needed to serve the sales process. Next, give sales people access to each other through “listservs” or “chats” to share help tips and beneficial experiences. Further, develop application files (notes & testimonials) learned in one customer category that can be applied in another. Encourage the collection of customer lore; then add it to a database everyone uses.

 
Conclusion
Establishing sound processes using KM requires just a few simple things, common to the human experience. Feel confident, and do the following:

 

Associate data—Think of a food recipe in which flour and sugar relate well. Notice that in a supermarket they are stocked together. Called “data mining” you don’t need software to do this. Use logical “trial & error” for optimization.

 
Look at your data from different angles. Sort by order size, date, time, product and product combinations, profitability, anything.
Inventory your intellectual assets. Ask, “what do we know that’s valuable,” and “where else can we use it?”

 

Expose information flows that feed all processes.

 
ID hidden knowledge by asking: “What do we lose when key people leave?” or “What do we have to teach every new person?” Then find ways to secure these data in the knowledge base.

 
Change your mindset from “training” to “facilitating learning.” Put job aids and learning tools in the hands of employees, where 70% of learning happens.

 
Improve data availability—Put data in the hands of stakeholders where it increases the efficiency of support staff and functions. IT is a good place to start.

March 7, 2019 |

…You’ve Got to Be Worth More

0

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

It is easier to look good in the workplace when things are going well around us, when the market is up. When the ardor in work increases, our buoyancy depends more on the depth of our “skills.” It is then that we take stock of them, and the measure of our contribution is more at issue. There’s a saying in business, “If you want to be paid more, you’ve got to be worth more.” Yet, our behavioral attachment to an antipodal view is what “turns our heads” more easily; namely, the practice of “trading excuses for results.” In this moment of truth we need to be more aware of the math that proves our value to the organization.

 
The idea is not meant to increase your anxiety level in this time of economic stress. Rather, the self-assessment necessary to performance improvement is what motivates the discussion. No less than the model of our physical bodies, in their daily effort to regenerate by the manufacturing of billions of cells, the voluntary performance mechanisms of each life hold an even greater promise for success. Were this not the case we would hear nothing about the things we could do to improve our health and wealth.

 
As the “boys of summer” ready themselves for their annual charge, the example in their patterning is instructive. To the point, a baseball team relies on a few simple but powerful principles of operation for its success—skills, attitude, teamwork, and leadership. Let’s examine the model.

 
Those that make it to the “Big Show” as popularized by the archetype film, Bull Durham, do so largely on the strength of their demonstrated skills. If they contribute to winning ways in the minors, the behavior is likely to recommend them in the “Bigs,” as the practice suggests. But even if their minor league team doesn’t do especially well, extraordinary performance is apparent nonetheless. So too, in the more typical workplace, the school you and I attend daily.

 
In that workplace we scour resumes for indications of achievement, for the skills that help empower us to it. Largely by our penchant for hyperbole in the Curriculum Vitae, little else is usually evident in the document to recommend us. As it turns out, in the workplace as in baseball, skills are not enough to build a sustainable model of success. Clear examples of the remaining elements in the behavioral model are harder to find in the resume than occasional indications of them.

 
Attitude, that intangible drive that tilts us forward toward initiatives, people, and personal performance, is a little harder to measure, but evident by its affect on others. A desire to team-up, as in baseball, delivers a willing attitude, not just for things we agree with, but for all others—things we agree to. Without a sense of “team” baseball would be a different game. It’s little different in the workplace, where we must multiply the ideas of a few by the efforts of many—in an organized and structured environment. Attitude identifies those who say, “I can” and those who say, “I can’t”—both right.

 
Teamwork, in baseball, relies heavily on a positive view of everyday fortunes. It reaches deep in us for a selflessness that sees the opportunity and giftedness in others. It forms the will to help empower others to greater performance. Great players on the field bring out the best in others. Each position on the field of play may require “specialized skill,” but fielding and hitting are common to all. When necessary, players fill in for and back-up teammates. It’s no different in other organizational models, like the game of business. To realize our goals we must come together, ever encouraging each other to greater performance. It’s the qui non proficit, deficit of life—he who does not advance, loses ground.

 
Not least, leadership is at issue in all things. It begins with a sense of self (self leadership), and extends to others to encourage their best. Success is simply defined as the ability to achieve a planned goal. Similarly, leadership is the innate sense that gives impetus to achievement. Less mind than marrow, leadership explores, encourages, aids, invests, waits on, and points to achievement. It is by example, and by shear force of presence that one finds leadership—in oneself and in others. It is apparent despite its quixotic characteristics, often difficult to describe.

 
When Cardinal’s Ozzie Smith had played his final game, it was no surprise that the tally of his “double-plays” had set an all-time record at 1554. The testament to his defensive skill, winning attitude, team ethic, and leadership was greater than the number that comes to mind when considering his worth to his organization. He wasn’t much at the plate, but his influence at achieving planned outcomes was extraordinary.

 
Others are notable for the opposite affect on their teams and the game; their names come quickly to mind, and the travel from place to place that marked their careers. Sadly, too many of us are counted among this group; those who would trade achievement for self-aggrandizement and personal gain.

 
If we are to follow the model of our bodies, where growth is most natural to us, we do well to orient our lives—the voluntary performance mechanisms—to the self-same growth. The decision to advance ought to turn us from an easy crowd, where we won’t grow. Instead, go where the expectations and the opportunity to perform are high: where your true value takes wing.

March 7, 2019 |

Three Rs of Enterprise

0

ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

Fewer than 40 percent of graduating high school seniors have mastered reading and math, making the majority of graduating classes poorly equipped for college and real-world life.  This group of students (generally) passes to the next grade—regardless of performance—and is at a serious disadvantage with a higher chance of falling behind and dropping out of college. (National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] 2015).

 
Programs such as STEM that encourage girls—who usually do better than boys in most subjects—in the study of science, math, and technology helps, but the majority of U.S. graduates are disadvantaged in the workplace in comparison to many other industrialized nations.

 
The fallout is evident to most business and NFP (Not For Profit) organizations that must routinely choose among candidates that show promise, if not the skills already in place that are necessary to job performance. While poor language skills are among the most obvious deficiencies in job candidates, most lack the discipline of an everyday job, the resourcefulness that fuels growth and opportunity, and the basic nature in risk taking.

 
Perhaps, as it relates to our educational system, we are asking the wrong questions. A focus on literacy and basic academic skills fails to identify key elements of success in the marketplace, which also encourage the personal growth and development that lead to ultimate fulfillment—the highest level of personal achievement.

 
1. Resourcefulness
2. Respect
3. Risk

 
The three Rs of Enterprise may be a reasonable place to start. Simply, Resourcefulness, Respect, and Risk may offer the opportunity to address the educational deficit noted above and present a more achievable goal for lazy students, encouraging academic participation. Clearly, 60 percent of high school graduates may be unable to outline the elements of international balance of power today in light of the Monroe Doctrine that defined an era of isolationism in America for 100 years. They would more easily be able to describe the ways they repaired a separated doorknob for mom while dad was at work, or the discovery of ingredients for a first omelet when the fridge offered limited options, or the mental calculation used to judge a skateboard stunt, or the deference paid to a disabled person in helping them. On these foundations—common to all—most any could find their way to greater understanding through an informed approach to learning. I think we call this education.

 
What’s taught in school? Coursework is the answer, for its focus on academics. Missing is the method common to all learning that resourcefulness, respect for the subject matter (in practical terms) and the risk that raises hands with questions, subordinating natural fears, engenders.

 
Also missing are the business calisthenics so vital to self-achievement. R1 is first among skills. In the end, some part of all things must be done alone—critical thinking, ideation, planning, “what if” analyses, funding, market analysis, pricing models, competitive analysis, facilities plan, staffing, training and personnel development (leadership), and growth modeling. All come into play for household management; something we all need to learn so as not to model the error in governments that practice deficit spending. If we are successful in raising a nation of people better able to find self-fulfillment, we do well to teach and practice resourcefulness. There is no substitute for this ability to find solutions when none are seemingly available.

 
Respect calms the process, answers the “why” in what we do and in choosing our life’s path. Significantly, R2 models the organizational attitude in whatever place we find ourselves. Respect for the work, the staff, the process, the customer, the community, the industry, end goals, and individual choice, put all peoples, created equal under God, on an even plane to compete cooperatively. If we are better able to see another through the eyes of hope in us, we reveal the path to the most spoken urging of politics and people—coming together.
Risk Management must become an internal model, wholly respected and resource specific for the incomplete logic in all initiatives that finds optimal outcomes. It’s everyone’s job.

 
1. Assessing coverage risks—cross-functional flow and cross training. What a 3rd baseman does when the shortstop attempts to field a hard grounder; or a friend does in comforting another after tragedy; or a parent does when their fledgling child rents her first apartment with the fear she won’t be able to manage the financial burden of it.

 
2. Raising the quality of customers to serve efficiency and best outcomes, driving prices down, and quality product and service up, which delivers greater profits.

 
3. Staff attrition risk management—A measure of organizational reward (liking where we work and what we do), and opportunity assessments.

March 7, 2019 |
TownLink is powered Chase Media Group. ©2014. All rights reserved.
Skip to toolbar