Archive for the ‘knowledge drain’ Category

OFF THE AIR

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

been there done that

After 12 years of posting thoughts, brain farts, ideas, links, editorials and other stuff on this blog, I have decided to no longer provide updates on weidemannia.

Been there. Done that.

As you know, I had closed my social networking sites on MySpace, Facebook, Classmates, Linked In and many others I have since forgotten, because the initial thrill the Internet provided as a creative environment for me has turned into more of a chore. I am proud to say I have never “tweeted” and have no interest in the tweets of others. I just don’t care.

Perhaps, the straw that broke this old camel’s back was receiving over 25,000 spam-generated “gee this blog looks great – keep up the good work” comments posted on my articles – even though I had completely disabled commenting. I have no idea why they showed up, and 1 and 1 couldn’t explain it either – but based on the nature of the comments received, I believe some lonely Polish programmers who feel their actions of disturbance annoyance and are important to the betterment of the planet. Anyway, I am in the process of deleting all comments.

BUT, don’t be forlorn.

I am maintaining my epiclectic Flickr account, and will continue to upload images and photos there. Their method of preventing spam and blocking posters – when rarely required – is much less painful.

The images on the right will continue to link to my updates for those of you who happen to land here first for some reason.

Honestly, I expect no one to actually read this far.

If you do, let me ask you to take a moment and reflect on what you are doing with your time, and if it could be better spent by stepping away from the computer, laptop, smartphone and iPad, and taking a long walk in the woods.

Enjoy life!

Steve

Evolution

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I happened across this recent comment posted on a Fox news forum asking if the readers felt they deserved a bailout from the government based on their financial situation. What struck me is that I know the guy that posted this, and knowing that he was heavily involved in the mortgage business at its peak, he appears to be recovering from his fall. I honestly wish he and his family all the best.

November 24th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Look, all of the decisions that I have made throughout my life have ultimately led me to this point. I don’t blame you or the government. I don’t need welfare, food-stamps or the peoples money. Presently, my wife and four kids live with my in-laws (1 month now). We like many have lost everything. Business, homes, jobs, financial life savings. All…..because of our decisions. Not yours! We are back in school finishing our degrees. Only 2 of the kids can go to school now, which by any standards is sub-par at best (thanks to our public school systems). The twins cannot go to the pre-K program because of our move. We lost the cars and now have something functional for our situation. There were no big birthday parties and there will be no real gifts for Christmas. There is no Starbucks coffee or trip for our anniversary. There are no real luxuries. I pick up trash in the neighborhood because I can’t stand seeing it. Presently, my wife and I are leaning on each other….we are leaning on our parents until we land on our feet again. It really stinks but I believe in myself and my family….This will not last forever.. But Hey..Who really is to blame? I can only blame myself. Bad decisions in life, coupled with my lack of foresight created our new reality. The church has helped us, our friends and family…not the government. We don’t believe in becoming STATISTICS!

D Day

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Integrity

Thursday, June 28th, 2007


There comes a point when you have to stay true to yourself, in spite of what you are being told or paid to do. While Mika’s noble effort to purge the news of another irrelevant story may get her ass fired, I applaud her position.

Thanks, Mika.

Inspirations

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

As I was reading the lastest issue of Forbes, I came across a few quotes that seemed particularly relevant.

Applying What You Learn

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Ralph Hake

Ran Maytag: June 2001-March 2006

Was chief financial officer and executive vice president at Fluor Corp., but he spent 12 years at Whirlpool Corp., one of Maytag’s chief competitors and the company that ended up buying Maytag in March 2006. The company stock value, market share and profitability waned to the point that it began entertaining buyout offers in 2005. Contractual agreements Hake had signed with the company allowed him to leave Maytag April 3 with a benefits package worth an estimated $20 million. The nearly 1,800 Maytag workers in Newton would learn 37 days later that they would no longer have jobs.

Sources: Maytag Corp. history, Maytag Collectors Club, Jasper County Historical Museum, Leonard Hadley.

Another nice guy leaving a legacy to be proud of. Dweeb.

Massive Corporation

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

“Our goal is to make sure corporateness is woven into the fabric of our company – into all our processes, into day-to-day business practices, creating a mindset within every employee and manager that will allow them to consciously think about corporate massiveness in everything that they do. No other organization can outperform us at what we do best: being not just another massive corporation, but the one and only Massive Corporation.”

Austin law secures $12.5M settlement in whistleblower suit

Saturday, November 5th, 2005

Austin law firm Lawrence Arenella & Satija LLP secured a $12.5 million settlement against Fluor Corp. on behalf of Cosby Coleman, a 15-year employee who worked in the company’s Sugar Land government contracting office.

The settlement, entered in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., goes to the federal government and the whistleblower. Coleman and his attorney will receive $2.75 million of the whistleblower’s share of the settlement, plus Fluor will pay legal fees.

The suit alleges that, from 1995 to 1998, Fluor knowingly overbilled the government under several contracts held by its Fluor Daniel subsidiary (now known as Fluor Enterprises) with the U.S. Energy and Defense departments.

“This has been an incredible David versus Goliath battle for both Cosby Coleman and our firm,” says Paul Lawrence, a partner with Lawrence Arenella & Satija.

Fluor (NYSE: FLR – News) provides engineering, procurement, construction, operations, maintenance and project management services. The company is based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., but is moving its headquarters to the Dallas area.

Lawrence filed Coleman’s whistleblower case in California in March 2000, alleging Fluor Daniel used a fictitious accounting entity, Fluor Daniel Federal Operations, to recover corporate overhead costs that weren’t proper under the government’s cost accounting standards.

The costs disputed by Coleman included multimillion-dollar bonuses paid to Fluor’s management, $13.2 million invested in raw land, $7.3 million for improvements to office buildings Fluor leased to other companies, $2.6 million for construction of a parking garage Fluor leased to another company, $410,000 spent for luxury condos in Palm Springs, Calif., $1.8 million for a fine art collection, $75,000 for Mercedes-Benz convertible driven by the company’s president and $20,000 for an antique Chippendale chair.

Coleman alleges he made numerous attempts to point out the violations to senior management, but no action was taken.

Fluor’s general counsel, Larry Fisher, says the settlement “avoids substantial further litigation costs in what could have been a lengthy and complex legal proceeding.”

He says he thinks the company ultimately would have prevailed in the case.

“After careful management consideration and review, it was determined that a settlement without admitting any wrongdoing would allow the company to focus on current and future operations without further distraction,” Fisher says.

August – A Record Month

Thursday, September 1st, 2005

FYI – monthly income for August 2005 (new career) surpassed my monthly income for May 2004 (previous career). The new road looks promising, the ride is quite smooth, the fog is lifting, and the car is running like a swiss watch. Looking forward to a continuing pleasant journey – although the weather outside the car appears threatening.

Coming to the Rescue?

Thursday, September 1st, 2005

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR – News) announced today that it will donate $100,000 to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts supervised by the American Red Cross and United Way. This gift will be supplemented by contributions from Fluor employees worldwide. The company will match employee contributions at the rate of 50 cents to the dollar.

They say its the thought that counts – but what really matters is the size of the thought. I personally would have thought that one of the world’s most admired engineering firms in the world – who stands to make substantial financial gains from insurance monies for repairing the damage, would have 1) contributed a larger portion, and 2) increased the size of their matching donation. Hell, an L.A.-based used record store is matching donations from customers “dollar for dollar”.

Sorry, guys. I’m not impressed, not that it matters. Enjoy the trip to Dallas.

Once an asshole…

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

…always an asshole.

Changing of the Guard

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

Once again, the music has stopped and there aren’t enough chairs to go around. As a result, the number of troops has been reduced by one more. Leaner and meaner, fighting machinery being developed. Fat-free and high performance only.

The last real issue to be faced is purging the old blood from the system. Transfusions have been put on the calendar, but time will tell if they take place. If they do, some serious concerns will be put to rest.

Result: Improved positioning within the company, and promises of even greater rewards.

About Conflict

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

German physicist, Nobel Prize winner

Need A Loan??!!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Here’s a mockup of the commercial we are thinking of running in order to draw more people to our company, and let us refinance their homes. What do you think?

You Know You are an Old Draftsperson When…

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

You know how to control line weights by rolling your pencil.
You know that a French curve isn’t a grade change on a language exam.
You remember when blueprints were blue.
You’ve erased sepias with chemicals.
You know a scumbag isn’t just a derogatory comment about someone.
You know what drafting dots are and how to use them.
You know that a Leroy Lettering Set is not an ACAD font.
You’ve had a roll of toilet paper on your drafting board.
You remember when templates were plastic and not a type of electronic file.
You know what sandpaper on a stick is for.
You know that a compass draws circles and not used to find the North Pole.
You remember the head rush from the smell of ammonia.
You own a roll of masking tape so dried out, it will never be tape again.
You’ve played with a drafting dot ball.
You know what the phrase “asses and elbows” means.
You’ve done cut and paste with scissors and sticky back.
You’ve etched your initials into your tools.
You have had a brush tied to your drafting board.
You’ve come home with black sleeves.
You’ve made hooks out of paper clips to attach to your lamp.
You know an eraser shield isn’t a Norton program.
You’ve used “fixative” spray.
You’ve had a middle-finger callous harder than bone.
The words “sepia changes” still gives you a headache.
You’ve used Pounce.
You’ve used a “ships curve”.
You’ve used a “Folding-Bone” before.
Having an Ames lettering guide and never using it.
You’ve worn out the bristles of your drafting brush.
You made a rubber-band ball that is now quite hairy.
You resisted moving from linen to mylar.
Chiselpoint was the sign of experience and craftsmanship.

And finally…

You have a permanent spine curvature from bending over your table.

Thanks to Leonard Eastwood for helping remember the simple days…

The KNOW Network – MAKE Awards 2005

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

NORTH AMERICA’S MOST ADMIRED KNOWLEDGE ENTERPRISES ANNOUNCED Date Added 7/12/2005

The winners of the 2005 North American Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) study, conducted by Teleos in association with The KNOW Network, are (in alphabetical order): Buckman Laboratories, Dell, Fluor, General Electric, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Raytheon, SAIC, Southwest Airlines and 3M.

A panel of North American Fortune Global 500 senior executives and internationally-recognized knowledge management and intellectual capital experts chose the 2005 North American MAKE Winners. The panel rated organizations founded and headquartered in North America against a framework of eight key knowledge performance dimensions which are the visible drivers of competitive advantage. The 2005 North American MAKE Winners have been recognized as leaders in:

– creating a corporate knowledge-driven culture
– developing knowledge workers through senior management leadership
– delivering knowledge-based products/solutions
– maximizing enterprise intellectual capital
– creating an environment for collaborative knowledge sharing
– creating a learning organization
– delivering value based on customer knowledge
– transforming enterprise knowledge into shareholder value

Wow! What an achievement!

I’m sure the rest of us involved in the conception, development and deployment of this system are proud. In spite of the career-limiting challenges and confrontations with senior management to actually embrace and support change in the corporation, the knowledge management system prevailed. Phil Carroll, regardless of all the crap that came down from the other executives while he was leading this organization and after he left, planted a seed from which Fluor’s success is based. Lets give the man some well-deserved credit for changing this organization.

Dear Employees,

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

Thanks to one of my close colleagues for sending me a copy of this:

Dear Employees,

Earlier this morning, I met with employees at our Aliso Viejo corporate headquarters to discuss an important announcement being made today. After much consideration, we’ve decided to relocate our corporate headquarters from Southern California to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area.

This move reflects the company’s strategy to reduce operating costs, enhance efficiency and become more customer focused. The company selected the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area not only because of its proximity to North American clients, to East Coast financial centers and to Washington D.C., but also because of its international airport which provides optimal travel connections to customers in all other global locations. The Dallas/Ft. Worth reputation for quality of life was also a key factor.

A final decision on a location within the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area will be made in the next few weeks, and we expect the relocation will be completed by early 2006.

Right now, there are 490 headquarters employees. Of these, 210 people will be reassigned or relocated locally. Approximately 80 employees will be reassigned to other Fluor locations. About 100 people will be relocated to the company’s new headquarters in Texas, and 70 new employees will be hired there. It is anticipated that as many as 100 employees will most likely leave the company.

For those being relocated, the company will follow its customary policies for corporate relocation and will also provide relocation incentives. For those who are being laid-off, the company will provide outplacement services. The company will also provide retention pay to ensure a smooth transition. In addition, efforts will be made to identify possible opportunities within Fluor. More importantly, however, we are making this announcement today – more than eight months in advance – to give those who are being laid-off the most amount of time possible to seek a new position.

The relocation will have no effect on the company’s Southern California engineering operations located in Aliso Viejo and Long Beach. Together these operations employ 900 of our employees and have grown by six percent in just the last year. Additionally, our philanthropic foundation will remain in Southern California.

We are doing all we can to continue on our path toward preeminence. I believe this relocation is something we must do and firmly believe we will emerge a far more competitive organization, one that can more efficiently serve its customers.

Thank you for your attention.

Regards,

Alan Boeckmann

Let’s see. Shall I offer some biased, personal observations?

– It appears that the corporate headquarters is not only moving to Texas, but that it is reducing its size by 65%! Currently at 490 employees; 170 anticipated at the new location. Just how much corporate fat is being liposuctioned out of its operations and being left to blanche itself in the Southern California sun?

– 210 people will be reassigned or relocated locally. Now, you tell me just what possible jobs would these people be assigned to when every organization is being held accountable for its budgets. If they’ve been doing the job with this year’s staff, who the hell would bring on more survivors to its at-capacity lifeboat. (Maybe they’ll be put into the Sales organization!)

– It is interesting that the philanthropic foundation (read: Bob Fluor Jr.) refuses to make the move. The company has distanced itself from its heritage and roots.

– I also love the phrase “continue on our path toward preeminence” which means Dallas. Look for the bumperstickers: Dallas – The Center of Preeminence!

Watch the FLR message boards to see the anger from the displaced…

Tragedy… or an Opportunity?

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

US News Article | Reuters.com:

TEXAS CITY, Texas (Reuters) – An explosion rocked BP’s huge refinery in Texas City, Texas, on Wednesday, the company said, and local television reported that four people were killed in the blast.

Another 10 people were rushed to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, according to the televised report.

The BP refinery, the third largest refinery in the country, has a throughput of 470,000 barrels per day.

‘Our firemen are on scene assessing the situation and we have no further information at this time,’ said a spokeswoman for the Texas City Fire Department.

Clouds of black smoke were billowing from several fires at the plant. One refinery expert said the site appeared to be part of the refinery used to make gasoline.

BP’s Bill Stephens said the explosion was on the west end of the complex but could not confirm what units were affected.

You know when a report like this hits the wires, the salesman pack their bags and head for the scene of the crime. While this may be somewhat morbid, that’s how certain types of business become successful.

Just a thought.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

Interesting observation by one of the enlightened posters on the Fluor message board.

“Fluor ceased being an engineering and construction company with a sales and marketing department a long time ago. They have become a sales and marketing company that happens to sell and market engineering and construction.”

I tend to agree… in case you care.

Soldier’s Bold Query Gets Quick Attention

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

Inadequate armored protection for military vehicles in Iraq is a festering problem that has contributed to many U.S. deaths and casualties.

One soldier standing up with a question for the boss has spurred the government into action on the festering problem of inadequate armor protection in Iraq. Army Spec. Thomas Wilson did thousands of soldiers a big favor by having the gumption to put his complaint directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Think anything would have happened had the press not been in the room? From my perspective, it reinforces the importance of having witnesses around when you go up against the big dogs.

Managing Organizational Enthusiasm of a Software System Through Dynamic Balancing of a Complex Multi-variable Corporate Environment.

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

Say, what?

The Founders of KM

Friday, August 27th, 2004

The Founders of KM
Originally uploaded by epiclectic.

At a recent garage sale, I came across this old photograph tucked away in a dusty box full of discarded business magazines. Pencil notes on the back of the photo state “the gang getting together before attempting to actually build a marketing and sales knowledge community one more time – 1928”.

Knowledge-At-Work

Thursday, August 12th, 2004

Knowledge-At-Work – Ooops. Somebody get the copyright infringement police on this one! You might have to break him away from monitoring the email traffic, though.

Something Must Be Done

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

Looking at the recent quarterly report, it appears that “our favorite business unit” is dramatically behind where it was a year ago. All of its siblings seem to be at least matching last years targets, if not substantially larger than last year.

Could it be that heads are going to have to roll – again? Perhaps at a much higher level than before, since after all, the executives are the ones responsible to the board for hitting their targets. My guess is that there are some collective panties in a bunch nowadays.

If Jean Dixon were here, she might predict that if 1) OFBU goes away, 2) local support of OFBU is no longer required, and 3) more slips of pink may be in the offing…

But that’s me… I could be wrong.

The Devil Is In The Details

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Seems to me, a good sign of a professional organization is that they pay their bills on time. Its amazes me when a conscious effort is made to contract for services at the lowest possible price, and then fail to compensate the contractor what was deserved.

Perhaps an oversight. Or perhaps evidence of what is important to the company nowadays.

Giving 100%

Thursday, June 10th, 2004

Giving 100%

What makes 100%? What does it mean to give more than a 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give more than 100%. How about achieving 103%?

Well, here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If the letters of the alphabet A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z were represented as: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26, then:

H – A – R – D – – W – O – R – K would be:

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98% and,

K – N – O – W – L – E – D – G – E

11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96% but,

A – T – T – I – T – U – D – E

1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100% however – –

B – U – L – L – S – H – I – T

2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

and, look how far ass kissing will take you:

A – S – S – – K – I – S – S – I – N – G

1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%.

So, one can then conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While, hard work and knowledge will get you close, and, attitude will get you there, it’s Bullshit & Ass Kissing that will put you over the top!

[courtesy of ksc]

US Entrepreneurs Weigh Risks of Going to Iraq

Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

“Those already in Iraq with big corporations say working conditions are rough and caution it is not an assignment to take without experience working in a hostile environment. But they stress the personal and financial rewards are there with the right balance of security, company ties with Iraqis and respect for their culture and values.”

Apparently, its not necessarily all about the pen.

Where You Heading?

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004


Did you ever realize that the elevator’s floor directory can be very telling about the importance of functions within a corporation?

So, just where on the corporate “ladder” do you sit? Does it align with your personal aspirations? You might want to check with elevator services to see how much traffic is allowed between floors before you sign on for a career.

Damaged Members

Thursday, May 13th, 2004

Damaged members: During erection, straighten or replace members which are bent, twisted, or damaged as directed. If heating is required, perform heating by methods that ensure a uniform temperature throughout the entire member. When directed, remove members damaged to an extent impairing appearance, strength, or serviceability and replace with new members at no extra cost to the Owner.”

I think I’ve been proof reading the specifications a bit too long, since this particular paragraph seemed to strike me as a bit “off”.

Friday, May 7th, 2004

Letters from the Global Province

” …Theory of Embedded Wrongs: If a problem has been around a long, long while, and there’s a dominant prevailing notion as to what will cure it, the answer is almost inevitably wrong.

Strong, wrong-headed notions particularly achieve a stranglehold in mature societies such as the United States. Lobbies and interest groups can summon up enough staying power, dollars, ideological fervor, and adherents to turn their idiosyncrasies into supposed cardinal truths that capture the popular mind.

Our business schools and consulting firms have popularized copious theories about change management and change agents. But we find that they change very little, their tedious efforts at reform unable to effect a revolution. Their flyswatters just have not had much impact on entrenched ideas. Surely these change nostrums themselves are part of the useless baggage that needs to be swept aside, so that better ideas can supplant them.”

Interesting position to take if you are dead-set against changing anything.

Iraq hostilities disrupt rebuilding projects

Saturday, April 24th, 2004

“Fluor Corp (NYSE:FLR – News), of Aliso Viejo, California, has been forced to move workers out of dangerous areas for up to 48 hours and work has slowed in some regions because supplies could not be delivered safely, said spokesman Jerry Holloway.
‘The impact has not been terribly significant. Many of our projects are in more stable areas of the country so we have not been impacted as others might be. We can catch up and for the most part work is on schedule,’ Holloway said.”

Seems to me, the workers might not be all that anxious to put in the OT required to make up for being behind schedule. But, that’s me…

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2004

“In order to meet the challenges of the next 10 to 20 years, [your company name goes here] needs to drive change in its execution methods or face losing its preeminent position in the industry. Technological, organization and work process improvements are needed to enable the type of change needed for [your company name]’s future success.”

Read: New corporate initiative in progress. Evaluate success 3-5 years from now.

5 years ago, this was referred to as a burning platform, inspirational call for action. Now, it seems to have the same impact as viewing the movie trailer for this summer’s must-see blockbuster – Police Academy 13.

Yawn.

Hosing Off The Driveway

Monday, April 12th, 2004

As I was finishing off the yardwork this weekend, I came to the realization that the entire process of maintaining and caring for the yard is capped off by a simple activity – hosing down the driveway. That simple, non-stressful, therapeutic process – controlling a stream of water to methodically move a line of dirt and debris down toward the gutter – brings a sincere sense of closure to the day’s events. You stand back, look back on your handiwork, and have a sense of satisfaction that you have completed a task. YOU finished the job, and are proud of the results.

Unfortunately, many people in corporate jobs – especially those involved with the endless parade of corporate initiatives – do not get that same pleasure. More often than not, the payback of devoting two or three years of focus and effort on the latest fad, becomes less exciting to the sponsors, and they lose interest. Some other book hits the market, or a conference highlights another “big thing”, and the butt-ostriches decide to try something different. Result: You end up never completing the job, and moving on to yet another “empty calorie” initiative.

But sometime, you may find yourself fortunate to break out of the cycle, and take an assignment that has real, tangible and meaningful deliverables. And when you do, you need to reflect on the accomplishment – you’ve just been able to hose off the corporate driveway.

Blame India Watch

Friday, March 19th, 2004

Blame India Watch

Lost your IT job? Blame HR and your management.

“Blame India Watch is concerned with the increasing anti-Indian/anti-India sentiment among tech workers, as well as media coverage that focuses disproportionately on Indian workers or propagates anti-India(n) sentiment. What began a few years ago as IT grumbling about Indian-specific H-1B ‘Temporary Guest worker’ and L-1 ‘Intracompany Transfer’ workers and immigrants has now morphed into the outsourcing issue, and is now gaining international attention. We aim to highlight this scapegoating, encourage IT workers to put a stop it, and redirect the anger to where it belongs. FAQ is being updated.”

Quote Unquote

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Rewards and Recognition in Knowledge Management – BetterManagement.com – Because its important to be quoted!

Lemon Preparedness

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Sometimes when life gives you lemons, unforseen situations arise that turn your lemons into lemonade. One must always be ready for the unexpected lemonade machine. Fill your glasses with ice and have them ready the next time the machine kicks into gear.

Stay of Execution

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Notified that execution has been stayed, and obligation has been met. A new chapter begins. Lets see how this one ends. Fingers are crossed.

Sooth

Sunday, March 14th, 2004

A wise and famous soothsayer once counseled, “You can’t let the bad guys get you to do something you don’t really and truly want to do just to show them what’s up. There are other ways.” Good advice.

Your Choice?

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

Suppose you are sitting in a crowded theater waiting for the movie to start. Tonight, you’ve selected a brainless comedy for your entertainment.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a disheveled guy in camo jumps onstage brandishing an AK-47, and yelling for everyone to shut up. Instead of panicing, the shocked audience stops their conversations in mid sentence and stares at this lunatic awaiting his next action. He then makes a simple, sincere request of the terrified audience, “If you think I am out of my freaking mind for bringing a loaded weapon into the theater, and on the verge of losing control and randomly killing people with no justification, PLEASE STAND UP.”

My question to you.

Is it morally acceptable behavior for you to remain seated and avoid responding to his request? If you don’t stand, aren’t you then really showing your true colors and selling out your personal commitment to always be honest and tell the truth?

Perhaps its OK to keep the truth to oneself when your life is being threatened.

Questions

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

– If you are not in a court of law, are you considered guilty until proven innocent?

– When is the precise moment that you unbecome what you believe you are?

– To what extent should you make an effort to investigate allegations that appear to be biased and unfounded.

– Should it matter from whom the allegations come if they are untrue?

– Should it matter from whom the allegations come if they are true?

– Does the act of investigating allegations send a message to others that they are true?

– How does one return a bullet to the chamber once the trigger has been pulled?

I’m afraid I’m going to have to think about this one for a bit…

Changing Channels

Tuesday, March 9th, 2004

Remember when LA’s KMET 94.7 changed from adult rock to “the wave” in early 1988? Quite disconcerting, seeing how much I identified with the air personalities, music and attitude.

Perhaps this process by which radio stations change their format overnight has nothing to do with the strength or popularity of the current station’s disk jockey, shock jock, or listener base. Rather, the station’s owners have some mission to change things around “for the better”. But since “better” is subjective, there are no arguments that can be used to stop what is destined to happen anyway.

Well, at a local restaurant I frequent, it appears that suddently there are many new “cooks” that have become quite interested in barging their way into the kitchen in an attempt to make sure that the food is being properly prepared. While the current chef and staff seemed to have everything under control, and the restaurant’s customers are quite pleased with the meals, these chosen few seem to be following special instructions from high places with secret agendas. Might be foreshadowing the apperance of an “Under New Management” sign in the near future.

It will be unfortunate if the restaurant changes hands.

What is it that I used to hear Joni Mitchell sing those many years ago on KMET – “You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Barking

Saturday, March 6th, 2004

Did you ever go to the mall and walk by one of those pet stores with a pen full of playful puppy dogs rolling around in the shredded newspaper? Remember how you smiled when you saw them rolling around and mauling each other in the spirit of play? What a great feeling! It takes you back to those times when you were a kid, and rolled around in the grass with your buddies.

Now, on some occasions, there would be one puppy over in the corner- all by himself – barking incessantly at some small kid with his nose pressed against the glass. For some reason, this freaks the dog, and he gets fixated on demonstrating his “I’m the big dog” take-charge spirit. Eventually, the bystanders think there may be something that the kid is doing to aggravate the dog. The crowd takes a step back and begins to examine the little boy watching the excitement unfold. There is no apparent reason that they can see that would command so much attention from the little barker. So they go back to watching the other puppies in the free-for-all and ignore the noisemaker.

If you wanted to go into the store and purchase a dog to take home to your kids, you would probably pick up one of the playful bunch. But on the way home, it will cross your mind how sad it is that no one will ever end up choosing “the big dog”.

The irony is that all he wants is attention, but gets none.

That’s really sad.

Big E

Thursday, March 4th, 2004

A critical deadline was missed and the bottom line has been drawn. Foundations are shaking and depending on successful completion of the contract, the world – as we know it – may cease to exist.

Its big E time! From hero to zero.

Revelation!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004

I was informed today that men are incapable of multi-tasking.

It is the woman that is naturally destined to a life of successful multi-tasking, and that is why they are commonly relegated tasks that help them demonstrate this valued skill whenever possible. For example, when a man is moderating a meeting, he is incapable of capturing meaningful action items during the session. On the other hand, should a woman be moderator, while she is keeping the dialog on track, she can also generate a detailed and meaningful record of agreements.

This was news to me.

I’m sure there are many women out there who are pleasantly surprised that their true talents are being recognized by men – after all this time.

Ladies! Pick up thy pen and steno pad and record away!

CSI: Corporate World

Friday, February 27th, 2004

This weeks episode: Wait for the Fat Lady to Sing

Story: Issues once thought to have been put to bed have now resurfaced on the radar. And this time, there are many more eyes investigating the situation. Important questions are being asked that must be asked. Situations that could be swept under the rug are being rediscovered as the rug is being rolled back. Names are being named. Penetrating eye contact is being made. Investigations are underway and you just know that heads are gonna roll… but you won’t believe who the victim will be…

Be sure to watch the entire episode, because the writers are well-known for their fantastic and amazing twist endings that defy all reason and logic.

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004

You become what you think about.

A-B-C

Saturday, February 21st, 2004

Lockheed Martin, CACI, EAI, Fluor and IEM Team For DoD Installation Protection Program: – E-I-E-I-OH…. let me guess. Government project? Alphabet soup.

Forced Jargon

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

A year ago, every reporter was embedded into the action in Iraq. News readers freely spouted the term as if they had been using it for years. However, I can’t recall the last time I heard it used by anyone recently.

Well, its 2004. So get ready for engaged and resilient.

If you are one of those people that are struggling with work-life balance, then know that it is YOU to whom the phrase should be of great importance. Conferences and well-known speakers are sprouting up all over the country professing their wisdom, advice and guidance to help you become an engaged and resilient employee.

Maybe its me, but the image of an abused spouse pops into my head. A battered wife who refuses to leave a destructive marriage and justifies the violent beatings, fits the engaged and resilient descriptor.

Lets deconstruct the phrase.

engaged – 1) pledged or promised; 2) occupied, employed; 3) greatly interested; 4) partly embedded or bonded. [Sounds like a perfect description of a wife or husband who is madly in love with their spouse – and hey, there’s that embedded word! Can’t be bad.]

resilient – 1) capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture; 2) moving swiftly back; 3) looking backward; 4) tending to regain strength or high spirits. [Hmmmm… able to take a smack on the head and not complain. The energizer bunny… a Timex watch… they keep going and going – in spite of adverse conditions they may face. A hint of masochism in my book.]

So, put it all together, and there are conferences taking place that are geared toward making YOU – the abused corporate citizen – learn to live and accept your lot in life as a piece of meat.

Engaged and resilient?

I think I prefer enraged and resistant when it comes to my relationship with my employer.

Glass Perspectives

Wednesday, February 18th, 2004

Hey, here’s an interesting analogy that I bet you’ve never heard:

– An optimist sees a glass half full of water.

– A pessimist sees the same glass as half empty.

– But a realist sees a once-full glass of water that is now on its way to becoming empty due to evaporation because there has been absolutely no effort made to retain the moisture in the glass and prevent loss. The result: The glass will soon prove of little value, and will be discarded.

To what do we attribute loss of the glass’s value? The water? The glass? The glass’s owner? The shop that sold the glass to the owner? The chemist that created the mixture of sand and heat that formed the material the glass is made out of? Evaporation?

Moral: Take responsibility for keeping your glass full, and you will never go thirsty.

Migration

Thursday, February 12th, 2004

Advised today that migration is inevitable… looking at ways to get our feet on the ground floor and build an environment that encourages improvement, collaboration and teamwork. Beware the Ides of March.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2004

Rumor mill: REVERTIBLE GRISETTES

One Step At A Time – Direction Optional

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

Today was not one of the better ones – a visionary brainstorming session with no apparent sponsorship, internal team conflicts that we knew would eventually come to a head, and a “SuperBowl Finish” CLE thrown in to top things off.

It will be extremely interesting to see what happens next. It boggles the mind if you try to explore each possible scenario using reason and logic. After all, there is little you can do to change the past. So, I find the best approach will be to plan to face each issue as it is presented. Respond in a rational and objective manner providing facts and clarity. And let the chips fall where they may.

Will the compassion card be played again, in such a short period of time? Place your bets.

Choose Balance

Friday, January 30th, 2004

Destined to become the war cry of the disenchanted individuals who have transcended the spin of the corporate world, and discovered what is really important in the long run.

Merchandise from the Life Work Balance shop makes wonderful and thoughtful gifts for those who are teetering close to the edge. Is there someone you know that spends much to much time on the job? Perhaps a frisbee, or BBQ apron will jar them back to reality. Or why not a simple clock for the office?

Meat Popsickles

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

“…employees are meat popsickles to be thawed and eaten whenever management gets a sweet tooth.” Interesting perspective from an enligthened individual.

Canadian Execution

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

Great white north reduced by one.

Friday, January 16th, 2004

Compassion.

Will Ethics Win?

Thursday, January 15th, 2004

Read about a company today that has a very interesting situation developing. The next day or two will be extremely telling about how well its corporate leadership is able to handle the tremendous moral and social responsibility of being in a position of power. While there is really no question about the action they must take, they have chosen to wrestle with a difficult and ethical decision.

Regardless of which way they choose to act, their decision will send a strong and powerful message regarding the corporate culture and what it will allow and what it will not.

This is an important test. Watch this space!

Place Your Bets

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

Joni Mitchell once had us all singing “don’t it always seem to know, that you don’t know what you got till its gone.” Well, due to some unfortunate circumstances, they are about to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.” Its unfortunate – but it is a self-inflicted wound. I’m certain most people will draw their own conclusions about what may have triggered the event. But in the end, there will be a change that will impact the entire team. It is critical that we do not attempt to “spin” the story, but stay focused on maintaining the team’s momentum. The cold water in your face: No one is above suspicion.

Direction

Monday, January 12th, 2004

“…there are some good people doing good work on the wrong things.”

Monday, January 12th, 2004

Seven pathetic signs… alleged to be in the offing.

It’s a Crapshoot

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

“… the process of arriving at business decisions isn’t always systematic enough to be supported by computers. You have to take the assumptions out of the mind of the decision-maker and put them explicitly into the process, along with a method to check them, and only then can a computer help you manage it. Older executives find it excruciating to have to be that explicit, because they just don’t want to be. Besides, as we all know, many decisions are ultimately made by the hydrostatic pressure in the boss’s bladder.” Peter Drucker

No shit.

The Battle of Anaheim

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

You’ve probably heard about Roy Disney’s campaign to get Eisner out of power. While reading the January 12 issue of Fortune, the following paragraph resonated with me:
“…But this battle for control of an American icon is not just about shareholder value or corporate governance. Nor is it about the animosity between Roy Disney and Michael Eisner, though there’s plenty of that. It is, at heart, about a family and its legacy. Corny as it sounds, Roy Disney wants to take the company back from Michael Eisner because, he says, it has lost its soul.”

I also found this example of Michael’s poor leadership, excerpted from Roy’s resignation letter, to be extremely familiar, “The creative brain drain of the last several years, which is real and continuing, and damages our Company with the loss of every talented employee.”

I encourage you to check out the http://www.savedisney.com website, and sign the petition.

You KNOW I will be watching this story.

The Management Bestiary

Tuesday, December 30th, 2003

– J.S. Ninomiya 1988
Bad management never goes out of style. Seven all-too common types of ineffective or destructive executives.

Godfathers typically demand complete control of their organizations and total loyalty from their employees. Subordinates are given freedom in their routine duties, but their goals are dictated from above.

Ostriches love the status quo and fear discord. They always hope problems will simply go away and would rather stick their heads in the sand than face unpleasantness of any kind. Ostriches are more concerned with a superior’s opinion of their job performance than with the morale of their subordinates, who often lack initiative, imagination and productivity.

Do-It-Yourselfers want to handle everything themselves. The only tasks they ordinarily delegate are the ones they find trivial or require special skills. Unfortunately, they often make themselves indispensable.

Detailers want to know everything their subordinates do “in detail”. As they see it, their task is to know more than their subordinates, so they can make correct decisions by themselves. Detailers are so busy trying to keep up with their employees that they are virtually incapable of managing groups of any size.

Politicians tell us what we want to hear. Their superiors like having them around for the same reason. One of the drawbacks to this style is that Politicians tend to overdo it. No one looks forward to the 38th sincere note from the boss.

Arbitrators are often successful at dealing with large groups because they possess a deep understanding of people and human conflict. They believe in teamwork and team decisions. But they have a weakness for compromise at the wrong moment, and they tend to be so friendly with subordinates that they find it hard to crack down when the going gets tough.

Eager Beavers measure their worth by the number of letters and reports they generate and how hard their subordinates work. In the same way that beavers build ever larger dams to interrupt the flow of water, Eager Beavers create ever greater workloads and eventually interrupt the smooth functioning of their organizations.

[Excerpt from HBR Nov 2003]

Knowledge Management Director

Wednesday, December 24th, 2003

(Requisition 015)

Working in the SM&A human resources group this hands-on person will be an integral member of the headquarter support team located in Newport Beach, California.

Responsibilities:

Promote internal collaboration and provide an integrated means of capturing the knowledge of employees and transferring it to others on an as-needed basis thus improving the moral, performance, client satisfaction and profitability of SM&A
Lead knowledge capture activities through various means including social networking
Lead and direct research, investigations and recommendations of potential technology based solutions/improvements
Direct the design and implementation of techniques and processes to create, capture, protect and use knowledge for the betterment of SM&A
Evangelize the purpose, nature and value potential of knowledge as a resource and embody it thorough corporate initiatives, programs and processes
Drive initiatives to identify, extract, quantify and protect SM&A intellectual capital
Articulate, recommend and implement necessary changes addressing the cultural, behavioral, technological and organizational factors that impede or enhance the use of SM&A’s knowledge assets
Facilitate the development of events and processes that encourage more deliberate knowledge creation and exchange
Lead, direct and control the day to day activities of major SM&A process families.
Other activities as assigned

Minimum Qualifications:
Bachelor degree required
Master degree preferred
15 years working experience in defense related industries (technical and proposal development background a strong plus)
5 years corporate management experience in the defense industry (information technology, business development and program management background a plus)
Have a visible and successful track record of achievement
Posses firm experience based knowledge of aerospace & defense business acquisition practices
Have a demonstrated in-depth understanding of existing SM&A internal business enterprise and practices
Understand how people learn, use information and how knowledge can be used to gain efficiencies in an organization
Have a firm understanding of the existing positive and negative aspects of SM&As information gathering, retention and transfer systems
Posses a firm understanding of SM&A existing knowledge management activities
Demonstrated ability to develop and present complex information in a crisp clear manner
Excellent written and oral communication skills
Superior leadership traits coupled with extremely strong people skills
Demonstrated ability to productively lead large groups of multifunctional work teams
Strong problem solving abilities
Demonstrated ability to productively interact with senior management and work positively toward hard-to-achieve corporate goals
Demonstrated ability to lead multiple complex projects simultaneously
Plan, direct and coordinate resource requirements, organizational requirements and leadership requirements to successfully implement knowledge management throughout SM&A
Posses high moral qualities especially a strong sense of honor and integrity
Demonstrated ability to professionally and in a positive manner interact, communicate and socialize with individuals from varied ethnic, cultural, social, employment, and economic backgrounds

If you are interested in becoming a member of our team, and contributing to our clients’ top-line and bottom-line growth using SM&A processes, tools, and talent, please email your resume and contact information to recruiting@smawins.com. EOE/AA/M/F/V/D

Fatal Disease

Monday, December 22nd, 2003

You go through life never thinking it will happen to you, and then one day, its staring you right in the face. You can’t ignore it any longer.

A very close friend of mine – I’ll call him Charlie – was recently formally diagnosed with the big “C”. The experts weren’t sure how much time he had remaining, but they are positive that his quality of life will visibly suffer week by week.

I left college in 1973, and wanted to find out what a “real job” was going to be like before I devoted any more time to higher schooling. I decided the join the “school of life” and that’s when I first met him. He and I started work and sharing our lives on the same day.

Over the years, our careers had many changes of direction, many ups and downs, but we still remained close. If you were to ask me, he and I were like blood brothers. Family. Its as if we shared the same DNA.

Things were great, for a long time.

Well, it shouldn’t have surprised me. Looking back, in the mid 90’s, I could spot a few early warning signs that something wasn’t quite right with my friend. Every so often, for no apparent reason, he would take some outrageous position on a topic, and end up triggering confused glances shared among his close friends. He wouldn’t listen to reason, and oftentimes struck out at us with verbal and physical attacks. We figured that the stress of the job, or some unforeseen pressure, might be creating his fits of “spontaneous combustion” since once he calmed down, things seemed to return to normal. At least as far as outside appearances went for most people. But Charlie and I were close and I could tell by the lack of spark in his eyes that something inside him had changed.

In 1998, in an amazing feat of self-awareness, Charlie contacted the medical experts. He finally realized he wasn’t well, and he believed that by getting analyzed, poked and prodded by people that were well paid, they would provide him the diagnosis and prescriptions that would cure his ills. Well, he took the medicine religiously and his energy did return. Good old Charlie was back! He rarely referred to the bad times publicly, and it looked like we were back on track to living long and fulfilling lives.

Then, there must have been a relapse.

I hadn’t seen or spoken to Charlie for over a year, but rumor had it that he had decided to once again seek medical help. Sources said that he felt he had become tremendously obese. Although he had tried many self-help, weight-loss diets, they all failed miserably. Some say it was due to the fact that he didn’t really follow the rules. He applied them indiscriminately. As a result, it turns out that this weird personal chemistry experiment had permanently altered his metabolism. There was no longer any relationship between his food intake, exercise programs and weight gain. He had once been a strong competitor, and this inability to perform was now destroying him.

A month ago, desperate, Charlie decided to take matters into his own hands – literally. He had a plan. He went away – he called it a retreat – and commenced to physically cut the offending weight off of his body. He took with him a set of surgical steel knives and an intense desire to force change on himself. His first cuts went into his arms and legs, slicing away the extra fat that had accumulated under his atrophied skin. He then started trimming away the extra fingers. After all, he only needed two fingers on each hand to manipulate his knives.

We don’t know who called them, but when the paramedics burst in and found Charlie – blood and body parts surrounding his nearly lifeless body – they were able to grab the scalpel from him just before he severed his aorta.

In his pocket, they found a handwritten note, entitled “mission statement”. It read: Efficiency is Key. Objective: Cease all unnecessary body functions.

In spite of the physical damage, Charlie survived. He remained in stable condition in the hospital – albeit on life support systems. Psychiatrists have not yet started their sessions, and are waiting until he regains some of his composure. They are referring to his condition as “Corporatitis”.

Well, I heard Charlie was missing from his room last night, along with a scalpel.

Poor Charlie.

What? Was that someone at the door?

Anagrams

Friday, December 19th, 2003

Noticable shills. Mash a head thin. Jane heals it. Never yell “horn”.

Who’s next?

Monday, December 8th, 2003

“No honking, Joseph.”

Lost and Forgotten

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

Spent the weekend sorting through a dozen boxes full of paperwork and trinkets from my past business endeavors. It was very therapeutic for me to browse these historical (re: hysterical) documents and read things that seem to have been written only yesterday. On the other hand, its disappointing when when you realize that the many great ideas that were eagerly shared with enthusiasm and energy ended up falling on deaf corporate ears.

Their legacy – they reside in a box full of pendaflex folders in one of many overcrowded, dusty garages. How many hundreds of thousands of similar boxes are scattered around the world with a similar destiny? I’m reminded of the final scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark… the miles and miles of crates – sealed and never to be seen again.

Well, since I openly embrace change, I decided to “liberate” the material. Methodically, I went through box, each dog-eared manila folder, scanning for those documents that made me smile, shake my head and mutter. Those that didn’t pass this emotional criteria, ended up in the recycle bin. The rest now live proudly clearly marked box now located in a freshly cleaned spot on a garage shelf. THESE are the “keepers”. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with them, but they are MY diamonds in the rough.

Prophecy?

Thursday, November 27th, 2003

Microsoft fires worker over weblog – Hmmmmmm

Anagrams 101

Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

KISS in Aruba > Sprain chi-chi.
Arm Arab bay – but – never yell “horn”.
Retain dog – think tits.

Talking Bulls

Tuesday, November 25th, 2003

Seemed very apropos today…

Corporate Weather Forecast

Saturday, November 15th, 2003

Today’s Winning Jackpot Phrases

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

– BMW Nitro
– Nay Looker

Please check your cards and see if you are a winner!

Waste Removal

Saturday, November 8th, 2003

Before: 250
After: 70
Mortality Rate: 72%
That’s one hell of a lot of expensive directs – stay tuned…

Atune to the Situation

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

“Well, as far as I can tell, things look fine.” Caption under cartoon of a corporate executive on the telephone, wearing small, round, black-lens glasses with his back to window, as a gigantic asteroid is seen plummeting directly toward him.

Bungo Press Release

Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

“In response to accusations by the press, I would like to clear up a common misconception. At Bungo, our leaders are NOT the result of our careless promoting of any old asshole we find within the corporation. We have found that by taking the right amount of time, and exercising the right amount of patience, we are actually able to nurture and grow them. Assholeaders(c) are part of Bungo’s core competencies. Thank you.”

Color Lines

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

After listening to a major corporation’s quarterly telecon, and the questions being asked of the executives… I’ve noticed that almost no one ever says “tell me about this or that” anymore. Now, if you want to sound intelligent, you have to ask someone to “please provide me with some color about this or that.” Why have they turned simple questioning into a “color issue?”

Perhaps its driven by the fact that there is no way that answers will be provided in black and white… just shades of gray. So maybe by asking for “color”, they are saying “since I know you won’t tell me the truth about the subject, could you try to paint a nice picture to make it seem attractive, but not really answer my question?”

Or, maybe they are fixated on the word, and since their colleagues used it, they want to sound like they are members of the club.

Stress Release Exercise

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

The following is suggested for those of us who live with stress. Don’t ask me how, but it does seem to work.

Just in case you’ve had a rough day, here is a stress management technique. The technique known as visualization is in all psychological texts.
The funny thing is that visualization really works:

1. Picture yourself near a stream.
2. Birds are softly chirping in the cool mountain air.
3. No one but you knows your secret place.
4. You are in total seclusion from the hectic place called “the world”.
5. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
6. The water is crystal clear.
7. You can easily make out the face of the person you’re holding underwater.
8. See! You’re smiling already

Whack-a-Mole

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Hey. I got an idea. How’s this approach for creative management… in an effort to reduce overhead costs, eliminate a vp position at the highest level of the org chart, and then encourage the ousted player to move down a notch to head up the only organization that they were in charge of before the hatchet-job, thereby causing the subsequently displaced director to look desperately within the organizations under their control, and identify who they wish to displace. Survival of the fittest – where “fit” describes one’s basic desire to maintain employment – regardless of whether or not they are suitable to perform the tasks which they choose to assume. Sort of an anti-peter principle – “People rise to one level higher than that to which they are able to perform, and then create havoc as they self-servingly move back down the ladder.”

The Music Has Now Stopped!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

PLEASE FIND A SEAT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE SO WE MAY PROCEED WITH BUSINESS. IF YOU FIND THERE IS NO CHAIR WITH YOUR NAME ON IT, FEEL FREE TO NOTIFY THE PERSON YOU THINK WILL BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS. BUT MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAVE A CHAIR WITH A NAME ON IT FIRST.

[We now return you to your regularly scheduled program…]

Dissipation

Tuesday, October 21st, 2003

Thank god the vision only lasted for three days.

Vision Revealed

Friday, October 10th, 2003

The vision is now published and all of the questions remain unanswered. Continue holding your breath til the fog clears.

Attack of the Madman

Thursday, September 18th, 2003

If you remember from last week’s episode, the madman had again tried attacking. However, it appears now that the emperor’s clothes are in fact quite transparent to others in high places, and that there may be a shift in power. BUT if we have learned nothing else, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. [Any overweight divas nearby?]

Message from the Dark Side

Wednesday, September 10th, 2003

Words of wisdom from someone who has ventured to the dark side…

Any time you get involved in a corporate initiative, it is usually a combination of good things and bad things. One good thing about a corporate initiative is the added visibility, being in the know, participating in efforts to implement change in a big way etc..

One bad thing is you can not always do corporate initiatives and you have to return to your roots. You have to get back into projects, back into engineering, sales or somehow stay connected to how we make money. Typically that is on a project. That is where we make our money.

One more bad thing is when you go back to a project, you go through a natural let down because you are no longer in the know, no longer as visible, and no longer part of making a larger impact and you will feel that you are now on the outside.

However, the real and lasting good thing, is the realization that you can still make a difference on a project; make money; develop people; implement the needed changes and make a visible, tangible (perhaps on a smaller scale but no less important) impact on the corporation – and on your career.

In summary my advice is simple: Ask for a project assignment as a project engineer on a high profile or large project where you can make a difference. It will be appreciated by the local management that you are requesting a project role, and you will have an opportunity to use and put to use your magic in a way that can be used as an example of how it should be done.

Good luck – hope this helps.

White-Collar Farming

Saturday, September 6th, 2003

SEEDS of business process innovation sprout from within the soul of individuals who are passionate about the subject. The germination might be triggered by intense frustration with an inefficient work process, a difficult situation, or by observing a recurring condition that could be improved with just a little bit of cooperation among a few, influential people.

If you happen to be the one sowing these “idea-seeds”, you need to carefully consider the environmental conditions that surround you – if you expect any growth. Depending on your corporation’s “culture”, the soil for change may be rich and fertile, and immediately embrace your newly planted idea. However, even with the best soil conditions, there may be little moisture or sunlight through which the metamorphosis can successfully occur. That doesn’t mean that your idea has no value, is of little worth, or is a waste of a zealot’s time. What it does mean is that your chances of making a real difference in your particular company are dramatically reduced. The same idea in a different company could be revolutionary given the right conditions.

Think about it… Consider that corporate leadership usually changes out every few years. Also, realize that it takes some time before the new leaders are actually comfortable enough to even think about disrupting the status quo. After all, the people that selected and ushered them into their new leadership positions are often the same ones responsible for creating the perpetual, hostile atmosphere that continually stunts the growth of innovation.
and there is the rub.

Oh, you might see some corporate initiatives that present a “welcome mat” for new ideas or innovations, but when you carefully evaluate what has actually come of any of the ideas, you find that they rarely get the sponsorship – other than lipservice – for the time required to make a difference. Watch-out for corporate sponsored programs with names such as “Better-Way-Bucket”, “I Have an Idea”, “POWerful Performance”, or “Breakthrough!”

The satisfaction you gain by sowing your seeds in another field can only be experienced by sowing your seeds in another field.

Have a nice day.

Blue Max Interpretted

Friday, July 4th, 2003

Here’s another synopsis of The Blue Max for your reading enjoyment. Feel free to use the “search and replace” feature of your browser.

Low-born Bruno Stachel (George Peppard) transfers from the German infantry to the air corps, and finds that he is the only commoner in his squadron. Experienced pilot Willi von Klugermann (Jeremy Kemp) takes a liking to him, despite Stachel’s disdain for the chivalric rules of combat. Their competition becomes keen when both vie for the attentions of Willi’s aunt – Countess Kaeti (Ursula Andress), the notorious wife of General Count von Klugermann (James Mason). The General actually encourages Kaeti’s philandering, and sees in Stachel a propaganda poster boy for the average German, to help keep the country away from Bolshevism. Although Stachel’s ruthlessness disgusts his superior Otto Heidemann (Karl Michael Vogler), nothing can keep the pilot’s career from soaring.

Or can it?

Blue Max Parallel

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

If you haven’t seen the movie “The Blue Max” on cable recently, you might want to add it to your Tivo list. Especially if you enjoy looking for parallels with the world of business, you will find the ambition of the young aviator, and his desire to acquire the Blue Max oddly familiar with some upwardly mobile executives.

Here’s a brief synopsis of this 1966 movie…

The Blue Max is highly unusual among Hollywood films, not just for being a large-scale drama set during the generally overlooked World War I, but in concentrating on air combat as seen entirely from the German point of view. The story focuses on a lower-class officer, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), and his obsessive quest to win a Blue Max, a medal awarded for shooting down 20 enemy aircraft. Around this are subplots concerning a propaganda campaign by James Mason’s pragmatic general, rivalry with a fellow officer (Jeremy Kemp), and a love affair with a decadent countess (Ursula Andress).

As directed by John Guillermin (who later made The Battle of Britain in 1969), the film’s main assets are epic production values, great flying scenes, and stunning dogfights. The weak point is the sometimes ponderous character drama, not helped by Peppard, who is too lightweight an actor to convince as the driven antihero. Clearly influenced by Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1958), The Blue Max is a cold, cynical drama offering a visually breathtaking portrait of a stultified society tearing itself apart during the final months of the Great War.

Missed the Point

Wednesday, June 4th, 2003

Geeze… if this isn’t a mission statement with clarity and purpose:

Bring early certainty and greater confidence in predicted project outcomes by leveraging the network of cross-SBU participants and drive excellence in support of Industry Group strategies through…

– Consistency in execution
– Collaborating globally
– Commitment to people development
– Continuous improvement
– Driving change

NOW, lets see how they plan to do it!

Strategies for Simulating A Hard Day at the Office

Wednesday, May 21st, 2003

David Wiskus gives new meaning to the term “working lunch.” The Denver tech-support worker installed a program on his Handspring Visor hand-held that allowed him to manipulate the screen on his office computer from a booth at a local diner.

As he lingered for hours over burgers and fries, he could actually open windows and move documents around on his screen via the hand-held — creating the impression to anyone who walked by that the diligent Mr. Wiskus had just stepped away from his desk.

It has never been easier to be a white-collar slacker. While the uninitiated are still grousing about how mobile technology has created a 24/7 work culture and sabotaged their private time, a savvier crowd has moved on to a more rewarding pursuit: using technology to make it look like you’re working when you’re not.

[click article title to read the rest]

Tuesday, May 6th, 2003

Redneck Temp Visits!

Process Analysis and Review

Wednesday, April 9th, 2003

THIS is the secret to success…

OK. A show of hands for all company executives for whom this approach seems like THE solution to all their problems. I don’t mean to be cynical, but just how many of you consultants out there have adopted this differentiation strategy? [Let me suggest you visit the psychoLOGIC Business Consultant Network for a sanity check.] Anyone heard of Plan-Do-Study-Act? Look before you Leap? Plan the work and work the plan? You can lead an executive to water but you can’t make him drink?

Anyway, enjoy the read…[by the way, I’ve introduced my editorial comments in brackets to provide a running commentary – ala MS3TK.]

R.L. Nelson and Associates, Inc. utilizes a proven, field-tested structure methodology to insure clients receive the optimal solution to achieve their business objectives. Our approach encompasses the client’s existing business practices and objectives, and a forward looking perspective that is designed to deliver solutions that are cost effective and scaleable to meet the changing business environment. [I count over a dozen uses of consultant jargon. I know – I’ve used them myself! But honestly, all executives will hear is “blah blah blah blah blah bend over and blah blah blah cost a lot of money blah blah blah no chance in hell of success“]

Meet with Key Management Personnel to Define the Project Scope
R.L. Nelson and Associates, Inc.’s goal is to assist our clients in achieving their business objectives through the strategic integration of people, processes and technology. Properly identifying a project and its scope is crucial to achieving this goal. [Again, set the jar-guns to stun.] During this phase our consultants will [usually NOT]:

– Meet with executive management to review stakeholder needs, strategic direction and supporting objectives
– Obtain executive management’s buy-in and approval of the project
– Develop and understanding of management’s vision
– Review the client’s business plan
– Review process flow documentation
– Obtain an overview of the technology infrastructure and applications in use
– Identify any barriers or constraints on the project
– With management, author a project scope document [Wrong! YOU will author this and coerce management to send out an email supporting it – if you are lucky.]

Develop a Detailed Project Plan
Conducting the consulting engagement within the confines of the project scope document requires the development of a detailed project plan. The project plans acts as the road map to guide the project. Various tools are used during this phase, including time lines, Gantt charts, Continuous Improvement procedures and process documentation software tools. [Geeze Louise… you missed work process improvement, knowledge management, and mental masturbation.] The primary tasks completed in this phase are:

Identify and select team members [Read: Attempt to excite people who have been drafted to participate against their will.]
– Confirm that a full and shared understanding of stakeholder needs, the strategic direction, business objectives and project objectives exists among all participants
– Define the time frame for the project
– Define and assign specific tasks
– Define the monitoring and evaluation criteria
– Present findings to management

Present specific findings, recommendations and Project Plan to management. Upon acceptance by management [now THIS is the key to the lucrative world of business consulting – the more dense management is, th elong it takes them to accept – hence the more money YOU make! Remember this, grasshopper] , execute the Project Plan.

Execute the Project Plan

“Vision without execution is an hallucination” [Don’t you love these quotes? I need to come up with a few of my own, copyright them, and then charge consultants a royalty everytime they want to use one. Like that old lady that wrote the “Happy Birthday” song…]

Working within the project scope, our consultants in conjunction with the various team members will execute the Project Plan in a timely and cost-effective manner. [RIGHT!] As with any project, unexpected forces arise that impact the project’s scope. [No Shit Sherlock… that’s your holy grail. But since you know that every project has them, are they really unexpected? I think not. They are damn well expected and essential for consulting success.] The feedback loop built into our methodology enables us to recognize and act upon these forces and react appropriately. [Think they copyrighted this fancy schmancy feedback loop thing?] Monitoring the execution of the Project Plan is a critical component of this phase to insure that the project is on-time, on-budget and meets the specification of the Project Plan.

Monitor the Solution

To complete the consulting process, the solution’s impact and results must be monitored and measured against the project objectives. Any changes or enhancements that are required are implemented using the above methodology. [Notice how the last step is ALWAYS the most briefly worded and simply stated. The reason for this is that rarely does the consultant ever get to the part of the process where they can actually develop any good go-bys. By this stage, executive management has changed out, last years initiatives are shit-canned, and the old consultants are released/ Be thankful you lasted this long.]

[Elapsed time: 1 year minimum. Sustainability: None.]

toetless

Tuesday, March 4th, 2003

the funk into which one enters when one of the remaining survivors is voted off the island.

Define Journalist

Saturday, March 1st, 2003

I was recently asked if I was a journalist.

Well, I suppose if one creates a journal, one is technically a journalist. However, my guess is that most people use the term to describe someone who is actually PAID to write things. In that sense of the word, I am NOT a journalist.

Thanks for reading my journal! [You may pay me now.]

When Did Problems Get Renamed?

Saturday, February 15th, 2003

Another aspect is to avoid dressing up extremely difficult tasks as “challenges” and laying them on hapless workers. You might even want to think twice about using the word “challenge” at all. So many Pollyanna managers use it as a euphemism for “problem” that it arouses suspicion as soon as people hear it.

The Ballad of Fluor

Saturday, February 15th, 2003

(courtesy of the Fluor message board on Yahoo)

Sung to the tune of “The ballad of Jed Clampett” (aka the Berverly Hillbillies)

Come and listen to a story about a fortune 500 company named Fluor
A poor engineering company, barley kept the shareholders at the door,
Then one day a young bright executive was shopping for polo knockoffs from a China mill,
An idea popped into his head, “Hey we can outsource everything and save a bill”.

Billions that is, massive profit, practically stealing.

Well the first thing you know ol Fluors doin Manilla workshares,
And once they were trained, they moved all the work over there,
Said “Manilla and New Delhi is were you wanna be”,
So they loaded up the jobs and ran for more profitability.

All the work, except management that is, to hell with the rest.

Well now its time to say goodbye to most of Fluors US employess,
The companys RIFed all the workers and brought them to their knees,
They’re not invited back unless they learn spainish and move to the Philipines,
Not even it they’re even willing take a quarter cut of pay it seems.

Profits that is. Greed to the core. Global economy you see.

Y’all don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out now, ya hear

PS Engineer Ed may be allready operating a cashier at the local Home Depot.

Fever Dream

Tuesday, December 24th, 2002

Tonight, I plan to sleep soundly, knowing that when I awaken, the sun will be shining and all will be right with the world. Listen… was that a nightengale singing? There is hope…

Days of Our Lives

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2002

Take a look at these postings from earlier this year:

Tuesday, January 08, 2002 – Situation – A is a good leader. A leads the HR organization for the corporation. B could be termed a bad leader. B oversees the knowledge organization. C is a leader of a project that has a real bad reputation – large financial impact to corporate bottom line. B reports to C. Repeatedly, complaints from B’s team, about B’s bad leadership and decisions about people, are reported to C. C takes no action to address the problems. B is also responsible for an automation organization and reports to D. Concerns about B’s behavior have also been raised with D. D and B discuss the situation and no corrective actions are evident. The organization changes. It has now been determined that the knowledge organization that previously reported to B, will now be a component of A’s HR organization. [Actually, this is the ideal solution, from the perspective of the team!.] However, A is given another assignment. C is reassigned to lead the HR organization, previously led by A.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002 – The chairs have now been rearranged on the deck of the USS GWC, and it is too early to tell if there has been any impact on keeping the boat afloat. As suspected, C has now taken A’s position, but the rumor of changes in B’s scope of influence have not materialized – at least on the initial review. B is not specifically named in the new org chart, but the two existing areas of responsiblity are still listed under the control of D. [I should have noted before that B had two bosses – C and D.]

NOW, just when you think things couldn’t have become more bizarre, the latest reorganization has B reporting to D who now reports to C! It is also a known fact that C & D do not like each other, and the rumors of D looking for other opportunities may become reality sooner rather than later. The result: B reporting to C again – DEJA FREAKING VU.

Provide Proof, Please

Sunday, October 20th, 2002

“Strength in building and leading high-performance teams.” If anyone spots this in a resume, I suggest that you investigate by talking with team members before accepting the statement at face value. Don’t be a fool.

Spelling Lesson

Saturday, September 28th, 2002

Boss is spelled b-o-s-s because your boss is a backward double s.o.b.

Thursday, September 26th, 2002

… a gobstopper moment.