Posts Tagged ‘Transparency_&_Authenticity


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?


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. 


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!



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!



Changing Capitalism – Part 2

It’s time to refresh our capitalistic system. It is the greatest economic system ever devised by mankind and it requires constant attention and vigilance to maintain its relevance and vitality. These are times that demand that leaders step forward and take a courageous stand. 

At its core, capitalism depends on trust and leadership to survive and thrive. Right now, trust in business leaders is at an all-time low. We need to change business-as-usual in order to change the tide. If we don’t raise the bar and hold our profession to a higher standard, we will cede the right to control our future to politicians and regulators. 

Unfortunately, we deserve the ratings we are receiving right now. Our leaders have been involved in numerous ethical breaches from Enron to Wall Street. We have failed to truly embrace innovation in a way that harnesses all our talents and potential. We surrendered some of the strongest parts of our economy to foreign producers. As businesspeople, we have not done a terrific job in maintaining our world leadership. 

The Great Recession only emphasized these points. The downturn left us with high unemployment and slow growth. Our traditional growth engines have stalled with little opportunity for robust recovery. It’s unclear how we will grow in the future and people are looking for leaders who can make sense out of the present situation. 

It’s time for business leaders to step up and the downturn provides many opportunities. Managers can no longer masquerade as leaders: The present situation is too important and too fertile to be left to people looking for incremental solutions or actions that worked in the past. Stress opens gaps for genuine change and opportunities to engage in a new way. 

The true challenge to refresh capitalism is to raise the bar for all participants. It’s time to demand better performance on all fronts – not just the financial metrics. All of us must live up to a higher standard of personal performance and ethical benchmarks. It starts with each one of us individually answering the challenge. 

We live up to the standards individually, but we are judged collectively. Therefore, it is no longer acceptable to just look at our own performance and the performance of our charges. We must also accept responsibility for the actions of our peers and hold them to the same level of accountability. It’s no longer acceptable to say “I’m good” and leave clean-up to someone else. We are being judged as a group and we are only as strong as our weakest link. We can no longer stand by, wring our hands, and grumble about those who let us down. 

As leaders, we must demand more from the system. That means you and it means me. How are you making yourself better this week? How are you helping your organization live up to a higher standard? What are you doing to make that standard a norm in your community? 

It’s a difficult challenge…but no hill for climbers! Our future success demands that we set the new standard.

 Are you ready for the challenge?



Balcony Person or Basement Dweller?

Two weeks ago we talked about Balcony People – those people who are raving fans. They always find a way to support you and you always find them in your corner. Balcony People are there in the balcony of your life, cheering madly, and finding any possible way to make your life better. 

Let’s flip the proposition around: Whose balcony are you in? Who do you admire in your life? Is there someone you respect for what they do? Do you appreciate the difference someone makes in the world? Maybe it’s just someone who could use your support. If so, then it’s time to climb in their balcony. 

Are you one of their Balcony People or are you a Basement Dweller? Balcony People support you where you are. Basement Dwellers are generally looking to make a change for you and are ready with some “helpful” advice to improve your situation. Which role do you fill? 

Basement Dwellers aren’t necessarily bad people. Most of them genuinely want to help. Unfortunately, most of the time they act as energy drains, offering unsolicited advice and letting you know exactly what’s wrong with your situation. They reinforce and underline the bad things in our lives. 

On the other hand, Balcony People reinforce and amplify all the good things that you are. They are great listeners and usually hear what isn’t said. Balcony People always provide exactly what you need – sometimes even things you don’t know you need! They are always cheering, supporting, and lifting you up. Their actions provide that extra energy you need and seem to fire them up as well. 

What’s your choice? Are you a supportive Balcony Person or a helpful Basement Dweller? If you are a Balcony Person, whose balconies are you in?  

Make sure those people know you are there. Go out of your way to visit, make a call, or send an email. You will make a difference. I found that out when at lunch with one of my friends – a powerful man with many resources at his disposal – told me how my (unknowingly) well-timed email helped him get through a very tough time. Don’t be silent! Your job is to cheer wildly from the balconies of those people you support. 

Balcony or Basement, it’s your choice. Are you ready to make a difference, or do you want to stay on the sidelines?





Finding Your Mojo!

I heard a great talk this week by Marshall Goldsmith. He joined the Reach Branding call to discuss his new book Mojo. The book outlines the belief that we create our own lives by harnessing our personal mojo to build a happy and successful life. 

Goldsmith defines mojo as a positive spirit about what you are doing that starts on the inside and radiates to the outside. This spirit enables you to create the life you want to lead by driving us toward a satisfying life. 

Have you ever climbed on an airplane with a grouchy, unfriendly flight attendant? One that argues with customers, slams doors, and generally makes a three-hour flight feel like a death march. Who’s the victim of this situation? The airline? Probably not, because most passengers make their decisions based on convenience or frequent flier programs. The passengers? Again no, it may be a long three hours, but then they move onto their own lives. The one who is truly the victim is the flight attendant. We’re free after the flight, he or she must live with themselves. 

Satisfaction comes from the ability to succeed in building a life that includes both fun and meaning. Successful people usually find these things for themselves. Research shows that people who find meaning and fun at work, also find meaning and fun in their home lives. Both fun and meaning together are necessary to create happiness.  

Happy people find ways to plug into their mojo and create positive situations. They understand the four components of mojo:

  •          Identity – How we define ourselves
  •          Achievement – What we accomplish
  •          Recognition – Knowing yourself and having a firm grip on what’s true and what’s not.
  •          Acceptance – Being at peace with the things that you cannot affect.

Making all of these things work for you often makes the difference between success and failure. 

Often we fail to engage our full mojo because we listen to unfounded stereotypes about ourselves. You may are probably limiting yourself when you believe “I’m not good at that.” If we believe, we can change almost anything outside of physical limitations. Happy people take charge of themselves. If they can’t get out of something, they get into it! 

The human default position is not to move towards happiness or success. Our natural state is one of inertia. We don’t look to change and require conscious action to improve. Goldsmith uses a daily questioning process to move himself forward. Every day he asks a series of personal questions he created to quickly monitor how he’s moving toward his goals. These create simple, regular reminders to move forward. These questions put him in position to change or quit asking the questions.  

Goldsmith’s perspective gives us a way to hook into our mojo. It puts us in position to always be improving and always be a positive factor in the lives around us.




How WikiLeaks Will Change Your World!

 It was an interesting week as WikiLeaks continued to publish a steady stream of new documents and tidbits from their massive download of classified files. The reactions have covered the entire spectrum from “How dare they compromise national security” to “These are agents of change for an electronic society.” All of the points and counterpoints are very interesting. Still, I’m not hearing the right discussion. 

The leaks continued last week, unabated and uncensorable, as clone sites made sure any published information remained available on the Internet. “Old White Men” reacted in traditional, predictable, and outdated ways: attempting to shut down the site, cutting funding sources, and threatening legal action. 

All of this was largely ineffectual as unintended and unanticipated reactions cropped up. Other sites published the material. Hackers disrupted sites that opposed WikiLeaks. Other unknown cyber attacks were threatened as non-traditional sources of opposition arose. The technology and escalating consequences made it difficult and unlikely that any traditional reactions would slow WikiLeaks or their supporters in any substantial way. 

It’s been fascinating to watch the furor and discussion around the leaks. Everyone is much too focused on the leaks themselves. The perpetrators have been painted as traitors and criminals for what they have done. Very little of the discussion has been around the unprofessional actions and comments of our diplomats. That should be the real discussion. 

The extension of this discussion is what it means to your organization and how it can change your world. Your company is not likely to suffer the massive data loss from one source involved in the WikiLeaks episode. It’s more likely to be a slow drip of data from multiple places throughout the organization. It will happen and probably already is. The  Internet and social media platforms make it possible to discover almost anything. your organization should be discussing how outsiders view your organization and whether that’s the message you want delivered.

It’s imperative to engage in this new discussion. You have the ability to change the tone of the discussion and innoculate your company against future negative discussions. Have candid discussions in the open about your operations. There is plenty of data available. Find it and use it to improve your situation. Engage in constructive discussions.  


Can you engage in these discussions and make transparency and authenticity a way of life? These qualities are essential in the new economy with the free flow of information that is available to anyone with a PC or a smart phone.


Are you ready to learn from WikiLeaks?



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