Popular Mechanics (link) has the definitive article on the crash of Air France Flight 447. A detailed, harrowing, and meticulous examination of a failure of judgment which cost the lives 228 human beings. A fascinating paragraph comes half-way through the article, as the analysis turns to the failure of the crew to effectively communicate. The pilot had left the cockpit prior to the beginning of the emergency and the two co-pilots,
are utterly failing to engage in an important process known as crew resource management, or CRM. They are failing, essentially, to cooperate. It is not clear to either one of them who is responsible for what, and who is doing what. This is a natural result of having two co-pilots flying the plane. "When you have a captain and a first officer in the cockpit, it’s clear who’s in charge," Nutter explains. "The captain has command authority. He’s legally responsible for the safety of the flight. When you put two first officers up front, it changes things. You don’t have the sort of traditional discipline imposed on the flight deck when you have a captain."
True on the flight deck. True in executive suites. Well worth a cautionary read.
- Seth Godin talks about the four stages of any game — the key to high performance is the shift between stage two and three!! (link)
- A good set of cautionary organizational (and individual) lessons from Toyota. (link)
- A well-written article about decision-making (in particular the need to get your mind off a decision to let you non-conscious contribute its unique piece). (link)
- An examination of the role that men can and should play in achieving gender diversity at the top of organizations. (link)
- Managers v. Leaders in Eurozone. (link)
One of the great things about being a coach is the extent to which it makes self-improvement both personally and professionally rewarding. Basically, I’m my own best lab. When I get in conflicts, I’ve learned to watch myself and the interaction for lessons to pass along to clients. When I’m setting goals for myself, I watch to see what kind of goals tend to get done and which ones don’t. I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago with a client and he saw me working on my iPad. He asked me about my favorite apps. I confessed that I”m currently experimenting with six different timer applications. This sounds kind of dorky (ok, it is kind of dorky) but my goal is to better understand some challenges related to work-flow I’m seeing in one of my clients. I’ve starting with a basic David Allen Getting Things Done framework and am now figuring out the best programs to support list-making and then adding a timing component to the process – thus the timers. I have egg timers, countdown clocks, productivity timers and stop-watches. I was coming out of a store yesterday and saw this beauty on the remainder rack:
An hourglass. With real sand. How great is that? Who knew they still made hour glasses? It remains TBD whether or not any of the apps or even the hour glass will help me with work-flow, but long before I give specific advice to this particular client, I get to richly experiment with the things that really work for me. He might be different than I am, in which case I’ll have to tweak things a bit. Regardless, I get to experiment on my own work habits and schedules and really understand the issue better. I do love this job.
Most of the posts on this blog are focused on how adults can come to be better leaders. It is worthwhile, though, to think about how we can start this process earlier – how can we lay a good foundation for our kids to enable their success as leaders later in life. Some of this will be getting them to understand certain things, some of this will be giving them access to certain experiences. For more, hit the jump.
I hadn’t read it before but really liked spending some time on the blog Thinking is Hard Work. Colleen writes well, isn’t afraid to tackle established orthodoxies, and has a good sense for topics that are important. I’ll add it to my blogroll and recommend it to readers.
As a coach I work with many leaders who are involved in some sort of conflict. I always begin my counsel about conflict with what I call the “law of the wild.” Contrary to what you might think, conflict in the wild is rare. Animals don’t fight for no reason and when there is a reason to fight they are still extremely reluctant to do so. When predators hunt, of course, there is real violence, but even among predators, conflict is rare, and never longer than it needs to be. Why? Because any fight in the wild is potentially life-threatening. If an animal gets a scratch, it could get infected and there are no vets to run to. An animal’s opponent could always get a lucky tooth here, a lucky claw there and – because the wild is such a harsh environment, the “little loss” of the fight will cascade into more serious consequences. This same dynamic – that “little injuries” earned in small conflicts can have a broader and more damaging effect – is true in the workplace. Losses of credibility, of opportunity, and of an ability to get things done are the blood that seeps out, long after the little conflict is over. So, for life in an organization, follow the law of the wild: don’t fight with colleagues unless your survival depends on it. This should reduce your total amount of conflict my 90% or so.
In anything you do, there are two things which determine the result: you and the world in which you live. You can refine your skills, practice hard, have all of the self-confidence in the world and sometimes the wind blows against you. Sometimes this is temporary and you can tough it out. Sometimes not. Wisdom, and very often professional success, is in knowing which is which. How do you deal with the headwinds and tailwinds in your life?
More after the jump.
Ok, I like this. If you think about the total amount of information you absorb in a given day as your information “diet,” you can ask yourself, “Am I eating healthy or not?” Fun and practical. Two good articles: Lifehacker writes a good summary here and Clay Johnson’s original discussion is here. Very cool and a neat frame to think about taking your mind and its performance seriously.
We live in an age both daunting and filled with promise. Daunting in the scale of the challenges we face. Filled with promise in our newly recognized ability to face these challenges with new ideas, new habits, and new ways to solve problems. We live in revolutionary times for our understanding the brain, the mind, and the ways in which we can make both interact to solve problems. In all of this, we recognize an urgent necessity: we must learn to learn. This isn’t about better schools or better training programs. Its about making ourselves better with the tools and resources we have right now, right here. For three questions that assess our own abilities, hit the jump.
I’ve had the opportunity to give a number of talks recently about diversity, innovation, and leadership. Readers and friends will know that this issue is one I’ve been passionate about for years. I’ve enjoyed tremendously my relationship with NCWIT and spoke this morning to an awesome group at Catalyst. Both organizations seek to advance gender diversity in the workplace (NCWIT in the field of computing and computer science and Catalyst, working since 1962 to advance a broad program of increased professional opportunities for women). If you haven’t seen the amazing work done by both of the organizations, I strongly recommend checking them out.