17
Jul
11

Change v. Persistence — Riding the Wave

The choice between change and persistence is one of the toughest decisions we ever need to make. Nothing difficult ever happens without persistence. It’s important to be able to stick it out through tough times. Still, there comes a time to cut losses and move on. It was an interesting week to contemplate the dilemma.

The OWM Himself!

My Dad (remember the OWM?) celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination last Sunday. Dad is the model of persistence. He served causes and congregations his whole life. He made it through good times – and a whole bunch of bad times as well. No matter the situation, Dad stood firm, held the course, and made progress because he stayed persistent. He changed numerous lives and organizations all because he fought for his causes. 

Dad did a great job, but he might have more difficulty in the times that are evolving. Change continues to accelerate and all of us must adapt to those changes. Technology connects us all. Those connections make good ideas more visible, causing them to spread faster and easier than ever before. Ideas and information fuel change and make adaptation a critical skill. 

Persistence is critical, but it’s just as critical to be able to stay flexible and change when necessary. The old paradigms of persistence, loyalty, and perseverance fall short in this new environment. Those qualities take on new forms. Instead of building a firm, inflexible foundation, like a house; the new environment demands a more flexible base.  

The picture of a solid stance on a surfboard is more apropos: Standing firm to ride a wave, but able to adjust to changing conditions. In these times it’s important to find the right wave, ride it long and strong, learn from the ride, and find the next wave. The best progress will still be made by those who can show persistence, but now use that persistence to adapt and take advantage of changing conditions. 

Change versus persistence is still a difficult choice. Find your wave and give it a long ride, adjusting to conditions as they change. Change they will. Don’t be afraid to change with them! 

Oh…and enjoy the ride!

  

03
Jul
11

Change for the Change Catalyst

I’ve been away from the blog for awhile pursuing a new opportunity. I’ve moved to Madison and taken on a new challenge.

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) is a 501 (c) 3 organization with the mission to make the Wisconsin manufacturing environment the best in the world. We help small and medium manufacturers stay competitive in a more demanding and global market. Our team brings a long-term perspective and great experience to everything they attack.  

It’s an interesting change for me. The WMEP’s mission and values align with my beliefs. It’s a true chance to make a meaningful difference. My whole career has been based on helping struggling manufacturers find new ways to profitability and competitiveness. These have always been single opportunities with minimal outside impact.  

This is an entirely different game. The MEP system has helped tens of thousands of organizations, while the WMEP has engaged over 35% of Wisconsin’s manufacturers to improve their operations. We have a tremendous opportunity to help these companies to grow their businesses and become more competitive – both in their present markets and creating future opportunities. It’s a great chance to test the skills I’ve developed. 

Buckley BrinkmanThe WMEP is a whole new game. My skills are being tested against the best talent in the toughest situations. The key requirements mean dealing with a whole new group of people: entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, politicians, and a variety of other people who can help the WMEP’s mission. It’s a much more public position than any I have had before; one that will make my moves transparent. The results expected are very clear: jobs created and dollars created for the economy.  

It’s a chance to grow and expand my capabilities in new ways. It’s a great new adventure and one I’m embracing the challenge and am looking forward to the new frontiers. How are you embracing the same challenges?

30
May
11

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day is always a great day for me!  

Growing up, it was long weekends of playing at the Uncles’ farms, interrupted only by the reverential viewing of the Indianapolis 500. All of us were glued to the set, watching AJ Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, or one of the Unsers make a charge for the wreath and that long swig of milk. It was always a great way to kick-off the summer and endure the final few days of school. 

American FlagMemorial Day takes on a different tone for me these days. Appreciating history and the tremendous blessings we have in this country, it’s one of those days to pause and give thanks.  

On this day, it’s time to give thanks for all the men and women who made our freedom possible and keep our company strong. The line started with the General Washington and the improbable band of upstarts taking on the most powerful army in the world. It continued through battles on our side of the ocean as we “formed a more perfect union” by struggling with enemies from without and our own collective conscience in the Civil War. 

We ascended to world power status, aiding our allies in wars on several continents, turning back evil forces and setting the stage for events to play out in an international arena. That included forays into unfamiliar places on the map, backing unpopular causes, and all the time making it possible for us to live free and strong as Americans. 

HeroThe same holds true today as men and women, stationed around the globe stand watch for us. They face new challenges, new threats, and new opportunities. Like their predecessors, they make it possible for the rest of us to live in a country of eternal promise and endless possibility. 

Take a few minutes to think about what these patriots do for us…and say thanks! Every time I do that, the magnitude of the challenge hits me and fills me with a sense of awe and gratitude. Allow that feeling to fill you this Memorial Day! 

Oh…and have an extra hot dog for me!

24
May
11

Drop in Crime: What’s Up?

There was an interesting headline in this morning’s paper: “Experts are confounded by violent drop in crime across the U.S.” The most recent crime statistics showed crime at its lowest level in 40 years. The results totally baffled the experts (that’s always fun). They expected higher numbers due to the weakness in the economy and a lower incarceration rate. 

The experts have no explanations. The counterintuitive results also came in the face of large reductions last year. By all expert accounts, crime rates should be up sharply. Instead, the experts were left with no answers. 

Right above the crime story was this picture.

 

We were hit with serious tornados here in Minneapolis over the weekend. They ripped a six-mile path through the north side of the city. It’s not the destruction of Joplin, MO, but it has put a hole in a large part of the city. This is only one of a portfolio of pictures that show neighbors pulling together to bring their neighborhood back.

The same change is happening throughout our country. Tough times for everyone are bringing out the best in all of us. Instead of seeing the worst in each other, these times are causing us to see the best in each other and to reach out to those around us. More people, pulling tighter together, provide less space for criminals to operate. 

That’s one man’s opinion on the changes that are causing crime to drop. 

Oh…the only place in the country where crime increased across the board? 

New York City. 

Any theories on that?

 

 

 

24
Apr
11

Happy Easter! Ready for Transformation?

Easter always mean a lot to me. First, it means that Lent is over. I give up sweets and alcohol every year, so it’s always great fun to enjoy the Easter treats. More importantly, it’s a time of reflection and thanksgiving. A time when I stop to reflect on my position in the creation and to say thanks for all the blessings put into my life. 

This year was no different. I didn’t make it through the first stanza of the first hymn before tears started welling up in my eyes. It’s been a good Lent for me. I’m down eight pounds and I’ve worked hard to make changes in my health and life position. It’s going to be a time that springboards the rest of the year for me.  

It could be a great time for you as well. Easter is a great time for change. Winter is over and the flowers are starting to bloom. It’s a perfect time to start working to make changes in your life. There is still plenty of time to make 2011 a terrific year. New approaches can create huge results for you. 

Transformation?

If you’re not happy with your life, it’s time to jump in! Don’t try to transform your whole life in the next two weeks. Instead, make modest changes to start the process moving. Learn something new. Change a habit. Build new relationships (or repair old ones). Reach out and volunteer. Almost anything can make a positive change for you. Start a new habit and build on it. 

Use the change to reset the messages in your head. Replace the negative messages with positive thoughts. Use whatever works to change the message. For me, I found an old recording of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and play it whenever I need a positive charge. The words become a part of my psyche and give me the energy to believe good things and then act on them. It’s important to move ahead on the things you want. Even God can’t steer a parked car, so get moving!  

Shoot for steady incremental change. Little improvements can make a big difference. The key is to make the change steady and consistent. Use these changes to build the new habits that will put your life in a new place.  


It’s Spring! The flowers are blooming! Use the season as the impetus for making 2011 the best year ever! 

Happy Easter!

 

27
Mar
11

Five Key Ethical Breakdowns

Businesspeople are facing an ethical crisis in their profession. Our public esteem is at an all-time low with no signs of rising. It will take all of us working together to fill in the hole we have made. Ethics have never been more critical – or more precarious. 

One of the issues we all face is our ability to assess ethics – our own and others – under changing conditions. In the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, Max Mazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel show how any of us can go astray. In their article “Ethical Breakdowns,” they outline five critical factors that can trip anyone up:

  • Ill-Conceived Goals. Inadvertently setting goals that promote a negative behavior. The pressures to maximize billable hours or revenue per customer are both examples of goals that can promote negative behavior.
  • Motivated Blindness. We can overlook the ethical behavior of others when it’s in our interest to remain ignorant. Baseball officials ignoring the spread of steroid use in their game is a good example of that phenomenon.
  • Indirect Blindness. We hold others less accountable for unethical behavior when it’s carried out by a third party. A drug company licensed one of its marginally profitable specialty drugs to a third party, then raised the manufacturing price, which in turn led the licensee to raise the consumer price. The company used the licensee to impose a 1,000% price increase, deflecting attention from itself.
  • The Slippery Slope. We are less able to see others’ ethical failings when they happen over time. Auditors may fall prey to this if a company’s questionable practices accumulated over time, rather than all at once.
  • Overvaluing Outcomes. We give a pass to unethical behavior if the outcome is good. A researcher with fraudulent clinical trial entries is more likely to be given a “pass” if the drug works than if it doesn’t.

We all face examples of these conditions in our everyday business roles. The article does a great job of pointing out how these biases can cause even the most ethical person to slip into an unethical position. It’s often not the clear-cut decision between good and evil that trips us up. Rarely is it that simple, clear, or visible. 

Almost all of us aspire to high ethics and the best of behavior. If that applies to you, I encourage you to read the article. You will be surprised how our internal biases and can throw us off that high road!

 

20
Mar
11

Ready Made Leaders

The need to renew capitalism is clear. Trust in businesspeople is at historically low levels and our economy is struggling to make a comeback. Structural changes are needed, as well as each of us to take a personal stand on right and wrong. We explored some of the ways each of us can engage in order to change our poor public image.  

A friend of mine also reminded me of some great examples in our society. These people are consistently ranked at the top of public perception surveys. They are unquestioned leaders, taking on the toughest situations. Finally, they contribute to our country in innumerable ways. 

HeroOf course, these are the men and women of our armed forces. They make personal sacrifices so that we can live securely. They willingly step into to the toughest situations and provide an immediate response to difficult and complicated situations. They serve all of us and make our lives better by doing things we could never do for ourselves. 

These leaders are now finding new roles as business leaders. Their training and experience allows them to step into key roles and quickly make an impact. They only require some specific subject matter knowledge to become valuable members of a business team and ready to make a difference.  

Not only that, they are ready to be great examples and show us how to make a difference as well!

 




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