The Modern Meeting – Don’t Hold It!

borrowed without permission from NYTimes - Charlie Mahoney, photographer

borrowed without permission from NYTimes – Charlie Mahoney, photographer

Friday’s NYTimes (12/4/2015) brought another article about meetings. This one, “The Modern Meeting: Call In, Turn Off, Tune Out” by Katie Hafner, takes on the virtual meeting facilitated by the mute button on your phone. The article, accompanied on the web by a slideshow of some guy doing yard work while at meetings, repeats the age old complaints of meetings that are not involving or engaging many of the participants. Some companies are insisting on videoconferences to provide more “accountability” for participants. There is sage advice about the use of the mute button and the dangers of video. I once appeared in my bathrobe for a meeting with some colleagues in India when I mistakenly hit the video button on a Skype call.

Triage Your Meetings

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The Serenity Prayer as Management Maxim

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Original version:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.((1))

This prayer written in the 1930’s by Reinhold Neibuhr is now widely known in large part because it is a staple of the drug addiction recovery world. It is widely referred to as the Serenity Prayer though Neibuhr did not give it a title.((2)) Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Major Works on Religion and Politics by Reinhold Neibuhr, edited by Elizabeth Sifton, Library of America []
  2. Thanks for inspiration for what follows to Adam Kirsch’s article “The Ironic Wisdom of Reinhold Neibuhr in the 8/13/15 edition of New York Review of Books, pp. 74-75. []

The Power of Saying “No”

NoIn most settings we avoid saying “No” to a request or suggestion in both business and personal domains. In US culture there is a moderate  avoidance of saying “No” compared to a culture like Japan where saying “No” is seriously avoided. Here “Yes” is used widely in conversations as an interjection to keep things moving, to encourage further exchange of information, to forestall making a decision. All of this because “No” is inherently negative and indication that the subject or issue is closed.

No Can Be Affirmative

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Graduation Address to MBA Students at UAlbany

During this academic year (2014-2015) I had the opportunity to work with a team of 2nd year MBA students at UAlbany on a project for one of my start up clients. Working with another of the company’s consultants with the students turned into a productive addition to the company’s resources and fun to boot. Now these students are all employed, about to graduate, and be off to mostly big cities and big companies to start their careers.

Without invitation I began to think about what I might say to them that might actually be useful on this parting . So, here is my graduation speech.

Graduation Address to UAlbany MBA Students

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Effective Meetings End With Effective Tasks

The Harvard Business Review website included an article on 3/19/15 by Roger Schwarz,  “How to Design an Agenda for an Effective Meeting”. This management note makes many good points. It can be improved by adding a much clearer task orientation to the outcomes.

Add Task Orientation to the Agenda

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Financial Incentives – do they work?

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Revisit an Important Topic – a repeat posting from 2013

It is accepted wisdom in human resource management practice that financial incentives, wages and bonuses, drive work performance((1)). This is a part of our business and political culture.((2)) Though studies and surveys have shown for decades that people find many other factors (growth of skills, engagement, sense of purpose, social connection, and many others) to be important in their work, the key to every human resource management strategy has been the compensation plan. Increasingly over the past couple of decades human resource management professionals have devised ever more complex methods for connecting various performance metrics to compensation plans. 

Do Financial Incentives Work? Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Note that we are talking about individuals here. Organizations, for profit, non-profits and government, definitely react positively to financial incentives and disincentives []
  2. In fact the notion that people make “rational” decisions based in part on financial rewards is a central pillar of our “if we only let markets work, everything will run smoothly” culture. []