Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our Systematic Abdication of Personal Accountability

When I saw the news that Dr. Oz had been pulled to Capitol Hill for questioning yesterday, I was surprised.  I couldn’t imagine what government post he might be undergoing inquiry for.  It seems my initial line of thinking was misguided.  The reason he was summoned to Capitol Hill for an inquisition was because he touted a green coffee bean diet product on his TV show which has upset the government and senators are asking him why he promotes weight loss products on his show that lack scientific support.  Let me restate what happened here: a senate panel was convened to grill a TV personality over what he chooses to promote on his TV show.
Several issues leap to mind as I process this news event:
  • First of all, there actually is scientific support for the efficacy of green coffee bean to reduce both blood glucose and weight (Life Extension Magazine).  So, why exactly is this conversation taking place at all? 
  • Why is taxpayer money being spent to intimidate the first amendment right of a talk show personality? 
  • Why do we perpetuate the notion that data is the only or the right means of validation?
  • Why do we continue to abdicate our personal accountability to data?
I look at the many forms of ancient medicine that have and continue to provide great benefit to those who take advantage, particularly those who tried and exhausted the known world of modern medicine only to find relief or cure from ancient medicine.  8 Ancient Beliefs Now Supported by Modern Science.
  • Why do we continue to perpetuate the notion that data provides the unequivocal truth about anything? 
Data is neither omniscient (all knowing) nor is it omnipotent (all powerful, God-like).  Anyone who has written a research paper knows you can get data to say anything you want.  Data is a tool that can be useful in the hands of thoughtful people who understand what to measure, how to measure it, and understand that correlation does not mean causation.   Written in 1954, the book “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff continues to be relevant.
  • Why do we continue to abdicate our personal accountability to data?
Regularly the medical world publishes clinical research (often paid for by the drug manufacturer) showing the benefit of xyz drug only to recant years later after people die from using the drug. 

We put our blind faith in numbers and in science and we eschew our intuition and our personal responsibility to be accountable for our choices and our actions.  A number of years ago, my husband and I were trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, so we went to a fertility clinic.  As a regular part of their protocol, they gave my husband a drug to clean his reproductive system of pathogens as a prophylactic (just in case) measure.  We found out that the drug had a big and possibly devastating reaction with another very common drug my husband was already taking.  General practitioners knew about the adverse reaction when combining these drugs, but the fertility doctors didn't.  The clinic has since added this knowledge to their prescreening, but the interesting point here is that my husband really did not want to take the prophylactic drug.  He resisted.  He is rarely sick and doesn’t like the idea of taking a drug just as a precaution, but we were assured that it was a statistically insignificant risk to take.  The data said it was an insignificant risk.  If your known world doesn’t include awareness of the severe risks associated with certain drug combinations, then apparently one can provide “statistical” assurances.
Too much focus on numbers also causes us to manage activity rather than outcome, and lulls us into a false sense of security.  The classic example is the call center that focuses on closing customer calls quickly, the goal being volume.  How many calls did you close today?  Anyone who has suffered through a call center conversation knows that when “number of calls closed” is the metric, the employee on the other end of your call is not focused on your pain or problem, he or she simply wants to get to a conclusion (any conclusion) as quickly as possible and end the call.  Check the box.  Update the data: calls_closed = (calls_closed + 1).  Next!  The quality of the interaction, the resolution of your problem, your opinion about whether or not you will continue to do business with this company, do not enter into the equation.  The actual outcome of this behavior is detrimental to the business’s bottom line, but they blithely celebrate their high close rate as they continue to edge the business into decline. 

How many of you have worked on a program enacted to support someone else’s reputation that had no real impact for the benefactors of the program, yet you were still required to produce data?  So you did produce data, supportive data of course because you didn’t want to risk your job.  The results were manufactured, the glossies retouched, and the executives pleased.  Then everybody had a party and moved on to the next project.  Ever been there? 
When we accept the idea that the only real truth is what the data tells us, and we no longer have to be accountable for our choices and actions, then we become lulled into an unconscious society.  Unconscious behavior is both ripe for manipulation, and has the potential to be grossly inhumane.

I have no desire for that type of world.  It reminds me of the stories I heard when I was young about "mother Russia."  Wake up!  Be accountable for understanding the bigger picture, and digging for the real meaning.  Be accountable for your choices and your actions. 
I was born in the 60s, and while my parents weren’t hippies, I did grow up with a focus on macrobiotic food, vitamins, spiritualism, a healthy dose of suspicion of too much government, and a very high sense of personal accountability.  When we rely too heavily on things outside of ourselves to guide and direct our actions, we abdicate personal accountability, and we relegate ourselves to being controlled. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

True Character

The true character of a person comes out when the chips are down and your back is against the wall.  I started noticing this a few months ago when so many public and political figures were melting down in painfully public ways, but as the news headlines demonstrate, it’s still happening.

In this overly fast-paced world, stress is the norm, nerves are frazzled, and chronic fatigue, anxiety, shoulder and back pain, digestive problems, reduced immunity and illness are the result of forcing ourselves to the meet ever increasing demands of life.  The lifestyle most people live is the perfect cauldron for cultivating a person ripe for true character exposure.  We’re all at the point of exhaustion and we’re raw.  All it takes is a poke at the right moment to get a person to react and unleash their real inner thoughts, particularly those who’ve lived the life of the carefully crafted and fabricated persona.  Because of the fast pace of life, and the omnipresence of surveillance and broadcast, time for crafting, spinning, rehearsing, and buying support has been significantly reduced if not entirely eliminated, so more comes out that is spontaneous, off-the-cuff, and authentic.  The real deal shows up more and more in our politicians, our leaders, our neighbors, and our family members.  In some ways it’s frightening.  “What a bigot, money-grubber, egotist, self-serving arrogant jerk” we say of each other when the chips are down and people spill out their real opinions and attitudes.  Small infractions illicit bigger responses than the situation requires, and often blame comes out rather than personal accountability.

But in some ways it’s refreshing.  As more of this “outing” of the real person and their real agenda continues to show up, we start realizing who people really are, and more importantly, we start assessing, and waking up to who we really are, what we really care about, what is really important to us.  As the millennials populate the workforce more densely, I think we’ll see more conflict between transparency and the drive to do things that benefit the greater society, and opaqueness and the drive of the individual ego to attain fame and fortune.

What are you experiencing?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We Don’t Need No Stinkin Badges

We live in a culture that is actively unlearning the skill of discernment.  We let numbers and algorithms define people's skills and abilities, then we bestow an "approved" or "certified" patch on them so those who want to work with them can feel safe and justified in never applying their own discernment about whether this person indeed has the skill or is a good fit for the situation for which they need assistance.

I also contend, and a large body of research supports this, that people who are continually motivated to reach for and display the label, the star, the accolade, the title, and use that to define themselves, are people who have a hole in their self esteem. 

Transparency is a good thing.  Knowing someone has a skill is an area I need help in is incredibly useful.  However, when I see rows of medals and accolades, I start to question motivation.  Where is that person’s focus?  It is outward (how do others see me) or inward (how do I see me)?

Additionally, I believe that badges promote a focus on the individual, rather than on the group.  When so much of the work we do relies on working with and through others, why would we want to put so much focus on the greatness of the individual?  How does that benefit our real need of cooperation and collaboration?  It doesn’t.  It feeds and strengthens the opposite behavior. 

In behavior modification, when you want a particular behavior to go down in use and become extinct, you find a competing behavior to focus on that is incompatible with the one you want to make extinct.  To focus on the greatness of the individual, then expect collaboration is incompatible.  To focus on the greatness of algorithms that make decisions for you, then expect people to make their own decisions and be accountable for them is also incompatible.

How about creating some ways to recognize and reward collaboration and accountability?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Innovation Requires Energy

People need physical, mental, and emotional energy to bring ideas to fruition.  Innovation cannot be manifested without sufficient energy.

When energy is used to survive in an environment full of chaos, and lacking guidance or paths to get basic day-to-day things accomplished, there is very little energy left to bring new ideas to life.

How to enable people to innovate:

1       People benefit from a clear path to follow.   A clear path includes a North Star and defined framework.  A North Star defines where we are headed, what is our big picture goal, and what are the guiding principles that govern our decisions while in pursuit of the North Star.  Defined framework includes what are our tools, platforms, processes, etc. 

The benefit of a clear path is that precious personal energy can then be devoted to bringing creative new ideas to fruition.  When energy must be used to survive in an environment that is full of chaos, and lacks guidance to get basic day-to-day things accomplished, there is very little energy left to manifest new ideas.

      People have a need to add value and be of service – Enable this.  This is particularly true of people who have been in their careers for a while and have gained scar tissue and wisdom – they have a driving need to put their insights, knowledge and wisdom to work for a greater good.  The greater good might be as lofty as saving the planet or as local and pedestrian as helping fellow colleagues thrive, but it is a driving need that when filled allows the person to be in flow, and when denied causes the person to feel a palpable void.  When people are relegated to working on menial jobs, or when their tasks are always dictated to them, it denies not only autonomy, but their need for purposeful work.  Enabling people to be of service also promotes innovation.  

        When a person’s real passion comes into play, heroic things happen.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Who Cares About Business Value, Just Check the Damn Box

Several years ago, I applied for a leadership position in a new division of the company where I was working.  The executive who interviewed me asked what things I would do to integrate team members who didn’t work at the home office or even in the same country. 

At the time it seemed like the easiest question in the world to me.  I already lived that experience.  I worked from home (in a different time zone than the home office), and I was part of two different international teams with colleagues from Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, India, Singapore, Japan, and Australia.   Every week included one late night meeting and one very early morning meeting with my cross-functional colleagues as we worked on various initiatives like rolling out offerings in new regions.  

From experience, I knew the irritation of meetings at inconvenient hours of the day, and the difficulty of establishing functioning and trusting relationships with people whose work history and cultural backgrounds I was unfamiliar with.  But more than those things, I knew the frustration and time waste of not understanding the bigger picture mission and need behind the tasks we were asked to accomplish. 

Even the military, which I used to think was the epitome of expecting people to blindly follow orders, provides their troops with situation, mission, intent, and then orders so that field members can make decisions on the ground that by necessity may deviate from the order, but still drive toward the mission and intent.

Besides the potential to put effort and progress into a direction that completely misses the business need, there is established research that shows people suffer when they lack connection to meaningfulness in their work. 

“Without a clear notion of purpose, workers cannot make intelligent choices about work activities, and they are also deprived of a sense of the meaningfulness of their work.

So I answered the question by saying that I would do my best to make sure people knew the big picture goals of our projects, knew the leaders we were working with, their initiatives and key drivers, and knew the guiding principles behind how we work – so they could make decisions which kept us all aligned and unified.  To quote James Flaherty from his book Coaching: Evoking excellence in others, “If we know what we intend to accomplish, we can correct ourselves as we go, and we can evaluate our success at the end.”  I wanted to provide that type of insight to team members so there was less need to directly manage and so that people could feel empowered to make their own choices about how to get to the finish line.

At the end of the interview, I asked this leader how I performed and were there any concerns about my ability to perform in the role.  The response I got was that this executive felt I would not be very effective working with people in different countries and time zones because I didn’t respond with solutions like: I would hold meetings using web cams so I could get to know my team members personally, or I would shift meeting times so they were not at inconvenient times for people in other countries.   I said I was surprised because these foundational things were already part and parcel of my everyday life and I was looking at what things were often missing in our current operations like the goals and business value behind our projects.  Needless to say I didn’t get the job.

The person who did get the job lived up to all the executive’s specifications and was fired from the company within a year, as was the executive. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Being at the Top of the Org Chart Does NOT Make You a Leader

My husband called me on his way home the other day and asked if I knew the origin of the word leader.  I’m a person who enjoys etymology, but I had to admit, I didn’t know the root of the word “lead” or “leader.”  He explained that its origin was in guiding the way, or showing by example. 

Indeed, I looked it up in the etymology dictionary, and found the definition:  “to guide, cause to go with, show by going in advance of.” 

It made me think about the age-old distinction between leaders and managers. 

In contrast, the etymology dictionary defines manage as “to handle” coming from the Latin root “manus” meaning “hand.”

So, etymologically, leaders guide and show the way, and managers handle tasks, people, and things. 

In my own experience, I’ve witnessed many of those at the top of the org chart, or at a minimum with others below them in the org chart, anoint themselves “leader” and then do nothing other than “strategic” activities.  The distinction of “leader” seemed to be license to stop doing and to justify only thinking about and planning for, but leaving the doing, and the implementation to the staff.

It brought to mind an interesting article by Bob Sutton that was published in Fast Company magazine called “Why Big Picture Only Bosses are the Worst.”

He discusses how bosses who think their only job is to “generate big and vague ideas …and treat implementation…as mere ‘management work’ best done by ‘the little people’ [use that distinction] to avoid learning about people they lead, technologies their companies use, [and] customers they serve.”

When you’re disconnected from your people and your operations, how can you determine appropriate strategy?

Not only does it set you up for poor strategy decisions, I think this distinction also encourages a lack of accountability.  If you’re the “strategist” and your people are the “implementers,” then any failure (and accountability) will certainly be in implementation.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

It's All About Relationships

My husband is a foodie – he loves the Food Network, and occasionally I’ll hang out and watch a show with him.  Friday night, for the first time, I watched Gordon Ramsey on “Kitchen Nightmares.”

While I expected to be regaled with amazing food combinations never before experienced that would transform dull, lifeless restaurants into overnight successes, instead I was amazed at how the show focused on relationships.  Relationships between family members, relationships with employees, and relationships with customers.

After tasting several items from the menu, Ramsey talked with the chef and kitchen staff about the food (which was usually very poor quality and in some cases rotten), and observed the reactions of the chef and staff.  He then watched the interactions of the entire staff as they ran their business and quickly identified the problem people, behaviors, and systems. 

With one particularly dysfunctional Italian family restaurant owned by two brothers, Ramsey invited the entire restaurant staff to their first company meeting.  He sat the family members in the kitchen in front of a television and the wait staff in the dining room in front of a camera and began asking the wait staff how they felt about working at the restaurant.  The areas of dysfunction became immediately apparent and the main perpetrators of the dysfunction (a brother and his wife who were both screamers) got to hear the direct truth about their behaviors and how it affected the staff and the customers.  The wife was so adverse to criticism that she pointed at the TV and yelled “liars!” 

After discussing how the family dynamic impacted the staff and the success of the business (which was in immediate threat of bankruptcy), Ramsey then used food as the conduit to reconnect family members.  The kitchen was set up to make fresh sausage.  That activity brought back such fond and deep childhood memories for the screaming wife that she was brought to tears.  We watched as her fear-based screaming behaviors turned into equally passionate laughter and almost child-like happiness.   She was reconnected with her love for food, working with food, eating food, and enjoying family and life.  Ramsey did similar things to reignite other family members with their passion for cooking and food, and more importantly to reignite their love for each other as family. 

They continued to work through real experiences replacing old bad behaviors with new more functional behaviors.  Ramsey coached them by focusing on the outcome (uncooked fish coming off the line) and bluntly explained what needed to be done to effect a change (it’s your responsibility to taste things before they go out and direct the line cooks accordingly).

As the dysfunctional family dynamic started to give way to personal awareness and accountability and the atmosphere changed from fear, anxiety, and dread, to happiness, hope, and excitement, I began to wonder, why don’t networks produce stories about this type of relationship assessment on business environments?  Probably because there typically isn’t that deep seated bond that you find with family members in the typical business environment.  Can you imagine your arrogant, self-serving boss watching a video of his employees talking about how they fear his/her outbursts and feel directionless because of the lack of stated goals or vision?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a boss like this confronted with reality, achieve self-awareness, and be coached through the creation of functional and supportive behaviors?   Now, that is reality TV that I would like to live through.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"I Quit" - The State of Public Education

“During a time when 10% of the population is unemployed” began Chris Voisard, “I’ve decided to quit my job.” 

I was listening to a personal commentary on NPR a couple of days ago.  Chris, a school teacher in the public school system, went on to say that she left a good salary, good benefits, and job security.  And why?  Because the system she worked for no longer allowed her the freedom to teach her students to think critically, to grow and build their conceptual and problem-solving skills.  Instead, the system she worked for, guided by the No Child Left Behind Act was focused on students achieving appropriate test scores.  She told the listeners that when she trained to get her teaching credentials, her instructor counseled the new teachers never to teach to the test, rather they should teach the students the material and let the test indicate their proficiency.  But now with so much tied to test scores, teachers were expected to guide students through rote memorization of what would be presented on the test so that they could accurately regurgitate it back to pass the exam.

When this teacher reached out to the superintendent to ask about ways to get away from rote memorization of test material and back to teaching thinking skills, the superintendent labeled her as “one of those ‘creative’ types” and further indicated she would have suffered had she worked in the school where he was the principal.

Following that discussion, Chris had the ethics and drive to leave her secure, well-paying job, to take a lower-paying job in a charter school so she could positively impacts the lives of her students. 

My hat is off to Chris and those like her who feel there is value in teaching our children to think, and to help them build the communication and problem-solving skills that will prepare them to adapt, and respond to life’s problems in productive ways that enable them to be contributing members of society. 

We have enough of the entitled, the unwilling, and the incapable.  Let’s enable more of the prepared, thinking, and adaptive.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fear and Anger Shut Down Cognitive Function

Managers who try to rule or motive their people through fear do everyone a double disservice.

First, they deny their employees the primal need to feel valued and respected, which according to the research presented by Tony Schwartz in his book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” is as strong as the need for food and shelter. In fact, Schwartz points out research showing that armed robberies are often more about gaining respect than they are about money.

Second, fear shuts down a person’s ability to do anything other than react. Fear actually inhibits cognitive function. When a person is triggered into a fear (or the other end of the spectrum - fight) response, he is bypassing the prefrontal cortex where analytical thinking occurs, and actions are being governed by the limbic system. In the limbic system, the amygdala floods the body with adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones increase heart rate, contract muscles, narrow vision, and reduce blood flow to brain so that blood can be diverted to your muscles so you can fight or flee.

If your organization is failing to innovate, is mired in activity with small or meaningless outputs (lots of check-the-box activities, but no real outcomes), look at the communication and management practices of your managers and leaders.

We Need to Hold Each Other Accountable

During my morning commute, I heard the radio report about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman, and by various accounts, talented violinist, who committed suicide after his roommate videotaped and broadcast on the internet his sexual encounter with another male. This news came only a few days after a second contestant, Joseph Cerniglia, from the reality show “Hell’s Kitchen” also committed suicide. The show’s host, Gordon Ramsay, is known for his foul language, and berating and belittling treatment of aspiring chefs.

After my commute, I started my day by completing our annual compliance training courses. You know the ones: Security, International Trade, Ethics and Behavior. The ethics one was mostly well done with video vignettes of various scenarios followed by questions designed to make you think. The harassment portion of training however was unfortunately too simplistic with obvious wrong-doing on the part of the perpetrator, and obvious inaction on the part of the manager as well as other co-workers.

Particularly after hearing about the recent suicides by people who ostensibly have been harassed, this latter behavior, the inaction by co-workers and managers, struck me. We don’t need to teach employees who to report harassing behavior to, we need to teach our employees, our children, our population how to hold each other accountable. As individuals, we need to hold accountable those who are not doing a good job of self-policing, whether they are family members, team members, community members, or society. We’ve got to stop relegating responsibility to police, managers, or other authorities to address people who are behaving badly. We need to stop averting our eyes, grinning and bearing it, or worst yet, perpetuating bad behavior by consuming it in TV shows that are openly hostile and disrespectful. A recent edition of Psychology Today highlighted a study that showed a correlation between domestic violence and watching reality shows.

We need not simply to teach people to behave like decent human beings who are respectful to one another, but we also need to teach individuals to hold each other accountable. We need to teach people to have the strength and fortitude to have those uncomfortable, difficult, and downright tough conversations with those who are not acting appropriately.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Criticize or Critique: The Feedback Skills of our Managers and Leaders

I am a big fan of the television show “So You Think You Can Dance.” As a former dancer myself, albeit never at a professional level, I truly appreciate the grace, athleticism, and emotional expression of this art form, not to mention the sheer challenge contestants go through to execute in a dance style that they may have no experience in.

Last night judge Mia Michaels did something extraordinary that really stuck with me. The previous night she delivered a particularly harsh criticism of contestant Adéchiké Torbert, the audience even booed her, but last night she apologized. What struck me was not the apology per sé, or that it was delivered publicly, but the fact that she told this young man she loved him and believed in him.

While her original message was rather harsh and the acknowledgement that she believed in Adéchiké and cared about him came a little late, it struck me – this is the type of support that people want. We want to know that we are cared about as individuals.

A recent article in Talent Management magazine cited research showing executives felt most engaged when their CEO personally cared about them. The important fact to note here is that there are all kinds of research linking engagement to productivity and therefore to bottom line numbers for business. People who feel cared about feel engaged. People who are engaged are productive.

Doing things that help the other person know you care about them is also the basic tenet behind interpersonal and relationship counseling. My favorite author in this space is Harville Hendrix with his book, “Getting the Love You Want.” He provides some excellent processes to help people reestablish trust, and safety, and demonstrate caring.

How many of you have gotten feedback that made you feel like withdrawing or becoming detached? A friend of mine confided that meetings with her boss were grueling and emotionally exhausting because he barraged her with all kinds of questions that seemed to come out of left field that she wasn’t prepared for and then ended by saying the meeting was painful for him, and in fact all meetings with her were painful for him. No follow up with, “but I’m confident you can fix this,” or even “we can fix this together and your skills will grow,” just “meetings with you are painful for me.” What a HUGE vote of no confidence in your abilities or in you as a person. Wow.

A recent broadcast on NPR interviewed a company that provides customer service for their clients in industries like medical, insurance, and high tech to name a few. The approach this customer service company takes to handling customer calls is empathy. When customers call to understand why their claim was rejected or if their insurance will cover a surgical procedure, they want the person on the other end of the phone to be compassionate and empathetic to their situation.

This company further engrains the culture of caring by encouraging their call center employees to spend as much time on the phone with their customers as they need to get to know the caller and establish a relationship. How amazing is that given most call centers are evaluated on how quickly employees can close calls?

So it makes me think… maybe we could benefit from having our managers and leaders go through customer service training, or relationship training to grow their empathy and caring muscles as they grow the bottom line for the company.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Value of Learning: Transform Training from an Output to an Outcome

It seems that many organizations see training as a check-the-box requirement and that once the training is done, that's the output and that's the end.

In the presentation, "The Value of Learning," I address the often misunderstood and undefined role of the Learning Strategist or Performance Consultant, and the often missed opportunity to work collaboratively and consultatively with the business to support business goals, performance needs, and demonstrate value through business impact.

Do you face similar challenges in your organization?

Which organizations have the strongest alignment between the training function and the business?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We're Breeding a Culture of Novices

The gotta have it now, need it in a week, “speed of (insert company name here)” mindset that expects execution followed by delivery moments after the request coupled with a propensity not to measure or assess the value of either the request or the result causes us to continually live in the world of the novice. We keep ourselves from progressing to the ranks of journeyman or expert.

In the internal corporate training world I’ve experienced, the process plays out like this: the business has a problem, like failing sales numbers, so they come to the training person and place an order for training. The training person takes the order and starts developing the material based on the delivery date. It’s the pizza take-out model. The training person never asks the business what the problem or goal is, let alone delves further into why the problem exists in the first place and can training actually provide a different or better outcome.

We function on automatic pilot. We have instilled a psychomotor behavior that kicks into gear without thinking or processing like the instinctive slap you give your arm when you feel a mosquito’s bite. However, we need to change our ways. We need to slow down, be more aware and act more mindfully. We actually want people to stop and think as they perform the activities of their jobs. We want people to stop and think about the results of what they do, the relevance, the effectiveness, the bigger picture impacts of what they do as it relates to other teams, divisions, functions, etc.

Without thinking and reflecting, or assessing and validating, we cultivate a culture of continual novices. According to the research of Ruth Colvin Clark, the problem-solving process steps of a novice are: read, and explore. Basically, once you have an idea in your head, go out and “do” regardless of what obstacles come your way. Also according to the research of Ruth Colvin Clark, the problem-solving steps of an expert are something like: read, analyze, plan, implement, verify, analyze, explore, plan, implement, verify. Basically, take the idea, analyze it, plan, then “do,” and analyze the results of doing to determine appropriate next steps. The graphs look like the image on the left.

When we create a culture of people programmed to receive commands and instantly implement, we create a culture of novices. People who are too busy to learn from mistakes, people who are not skilled at learning how to learn and therefore don’t contribute a high degree of value. This is not a profitable situation for either the business or the employee. The business continues to check boxes and receive output, but executives can no longer accept activity as a measure of success. They need real outcomes that demonstrate measurable impacts. By the same token, people who continually do the same things, and do not see progress or feel like what they do has an impact or a higher purpose become frustrated at best and stressed or depressed at worst. If this trend continues, we’ll see a surge of stress related ailments. The counseling professions will be the next growth industry.

Based on the activities you see in your organization, are learning organizations on the rise or are they on the decline? Do we function in work places, cultures, and societies as conscious, thinking, mindful, aware people, or do we sub-function or auto-pilot function like robots, acting in knee-jerk ways without thinking of the impact to other people, systems, and organizations? The irony is keen – technology has provided us with the ability to connect with others in a way that has never before been possible, yet in some ways, this same technology has made us poor at really connecting. When we have hundreds of things to do, multitask continually, feel rushed constantly, we are poor at planning, thinking, and connecting, really connecting.