The link above is to a nice opinion piece about the “No Budget, No Pay” act that recently passed, and has now been signed by the President.
Obviously not a cure-all for Washington’s ills, but it is a step in the right direction toward holding Congress accountable for passing a budget.
Congratulations to nolabels.org for spearheading the effort. It shows yet again that grassroots efforts can make a difference, and this one is great as it prioritizes progress over ideology.
Posted in Buzzing Topics, Leisure, Management and Leadership Topics, Personal Stories, Rants
Tagged 2013, accountability, bipartisan, budget, congress, Feb 2013, government, leadership, legislation, no budget no pay, no labels, obama, politics, progress
Over the last month or two I have been paying a little attention to a newly formed group called No Labels. Simply put, they aren’t Democrat, Republican, Liberal or Conservative. The group touts itself as a group of Americans who are interested in putting America first over partisan politics and figure out how to compromise.
Interesting thought. I am going to continue to follow them for a while and see if they can get meaningful traction. I like the idea, but it flies in the face of today’s Washington culture which continues to promote extremism and division. I applaud the efforts of No Labels and hope they can change the tone in Washington and across the nation.
Posted in Buzzing Topics, Rants
Tagged 2013, america first, current-events, democrat republican, extremism, Jan_2013, labels, leadership, partisan politics, politics, rants, review, service, success, trends, vision
This video is a few years ago, but the message Coach Van Gundy delivers is spot on. Our role as youth coaches is to teach skills. Period.
This year is my first season as an assistant coach on my son’s traveling basketball team. We are a “C” level team which means most of the kids have developing fundamentals – bringing the basketball up the court is enough of a challenge, let alone dealing with zone defenses, presses and the like.
In our first few tournaments we encountered situations where pressing and zone were allowed. Unfortunately, we ran into teams that decided that it was more important to press as long as the tournament rules allowed, then fall back into a zone trap once they had established big leads. What is the purpose of doing that? I think it’s exactly what Coach says in the video – the coaches are more interested in bragging to their buddies about their coaching prowess, rather than building skills. Even in a 40 point win, I argue by employing pressing they are not building skills either. Stealing the ball becomes their offense.
The other part that stinks, is that to attempt to avoid potential embarrassment in a tournament we have to spend over 50% of our practice time on press breaking. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get away from that and teach the kids how to dribble, pass and shoot? I’d like to propose that at lower levels we ban everything but man-to-man defenses.
On a positive note, we did run into one tournament where pressing was banned. It was a much better experience for the kids overall. Why can’t that be the rule?
Posted in Leisure, Personal Stories, Rants, Volunteer
Tagged 2012, coaching, dad, Dec_2012, leadership, management, personal, success, winning, youth sports
Last night I finished 12 Seconds to Project Management Greatness. Mr. Everett is a former colleague of mine, and we have fought the good fight together some years ago. I can say with great certainty and experience that the concepts discussed in the book are well rooted in reality, and any project manager could benefit from reading this book.
I appreciated the approach Mr. Everett took in creating this work, as it read more like a screenplay or novel which made what is a pretty dry topic a lot more interesting. I enjoyed meeting the Master Project Managers in the respective locations around the world and hearing some of the well-crafted stories. There were a few nuggets I took from the book that I can apply to my daily work, as well as a few reminders of things I instinctively knew, but haven’t practiced effectively for some time.
I agree wholeheartedly that if one was to master each of the Project Management Imperatives written in this book that they would be a great Project Manager. As the book concluded, our hero Alex is suddenly transformed into a great Project Manager, and his world is made right almost immediately. It made for a great story, but as the story was winding down, I couldn’t help but being reminded of a recent encounter with one of Minnesota’s great baseball heroes, Tony Oliva.
I was with my son at a Twins baseball game, and we had the rare opportunity to have an extended conversation with Mr. Oliva as we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. My 11 year old son asked him, “what is the secret to hitting?” Mr. Oliva responded with two thoughts. The first comment was very simple, “Practice.” The second piece of advice regarding practice came a few seconds later, “When you practice, don’t try to be perfect, just make better” (broken English intended). That’s good advice to young baseball players and Project Managers alike regarding development – it is important to view development as a journey.
The tools found in the back serve effectively as a roadmap to go on that journey, and I recommend any Project Manager take the time to leverage those tools for their own development. For me, that was a key value of the book.
Congratulations to Mr. Everett on a fine piece of work, and I look forward to the continuing story of Alex Pilgrim.
This post is intended for new managers, or someone who is facing an upcoming major presentation in a corporate environment. Ever been faced with a situation where you have a big presentation or demonstration to your boss or someone even higher in your organization? Here’s a tip: when you are going through your preparations, make sure to hold something in reserve for the final presentation that will knock their socks off.
I happen to be going through this right now myself. We have a major presentation in a couple of weeks to our senior leaders. As my team and I are preparing the presentation for the division head, we are carefully reviewing the content, but I am holding back a few things (e.g. extra technology demo, new research idea, etc.) the team is thinking about bringing forward. We are doing this for a couple of reasons. First, if our extra ideas do not pan out we haven’t overcommitted and then look bad. Second, we get the bonus of the surprise factor if we can pull it off. In our case, we’re working hard to bring multiple surprises on top of a presentation we have already planned.
Taking calculated risks is a habit of a Big Play maker. Holding some surprises in reserve can set the stage for a memorable presentation which can shape opinions going forward. Good luck!
What does a metronome have to do with management?
A couple of weeks ago I received the results of the employee opinion survey. It’s hard to stomach reading about your failings as a leader, but if one can manage to set the ego aside, it can prove to be quite useful to find some improvement opportunities. The answer isn’t always what is obvious, but with some deeper analysis often some useful nuggets can be unearthed.
In my case, I was able to trace back a few key issues to a simple and common problem — communication. Specifically, my team felt that the information did not flow consistently and a couple of key topics. After having the sort of year we had, with the lack of a leader for over half of 2010, it wasn’t really a big surprise that I saw that feedback.
To respond to it, I have adopted the theme of rhythm. Rhythm is defined as the uniform or recurrence of a beat, accent or the like. In this context, I am applying rhythm by making sure that regular communication meetings, employee 1:1 meetings among others are prioritized and carried out. People tend to appreciate a level of structure that they can count on. It is kind of like a metronome is used by a musician. Even if they choose to complain about more meetings, they actually do want those frequent touch points. I also used to complain when a metronome was brought out when practicing piano!
This seems obvious, maybe, but the ability to respond, adapt and sustain new leadership habits is another example of a Big Play. So far, so good for me after making this choice. The feedback has been positive, and it has done a lot to help me reconnect with my team.
1/29/2011 - Shannon Park Lego League Showcase @ RMS
Yesterday, I had the privilege of hosting the Shannon Park Lego League Showcase at Rosemount Middle School. The event was rescheduled from last December, due to a snowstorm. I am glad we had the opportunity to have the event, even with the long delay. Our attendance was down a little bit, but for those who made it, a good time was had.
I have been at this for three seasons now, as you can see in my blog site. It started from some inspiration from Dr. Dean Kamen in the spring of 2008, and today my focus changes to getting a competitive team organized next fall (assuming my son Jacob is still interested). My thought process in 2008 was trying to build an equivalent of an in-house program, which in theory is designed to reach a broad audience to start, then move to a more focused and competition-ready program (akin to traveling sports) once the foundation is in place.
After leaving the event yesterday, I believe the foundation is there at Shannon Park Elementary. It is now up to someone else to pick it up and move it forward. I am ready to start phase two, as described above.
The big question, which will remain unanswered for some time, is “By starting this program, did we inspire a young engineer of the future?” I would like to think so, but only time will tell. In my closing remarks to the Showcase attendees yesterday, I encouraged them to never stop asking the “What If?” question. Maybe, just maybe, this effort will yield an innovation of the future that will improve our lives.
I took my shot on making a big play here. We’ll have to wait and see if it was indeed a big play. On to the next one!
This past week at work we hosted our division Vice President in our laboratory. It was a presentation that was a couple of weeks in the making, and if you read my previous post you know I have been dealing with Bell’s Palsy. When I got back from my holiday break, we were just less than 2 weeks from the presentation. I knew I wouldn’t be ready to do the presentation myself, so I made the decision to delegate responsibility for preparing for the visit to one of my team members.
He immediately took control of the planning, gathered the team and the technology we planned to share, and let him go. Even though he was in full control, I was still able to guide and direct, but didn’t have to deal with the gory details.
This isn’t natural for me, as when a VIP comes to visit, I like to control it. I have been successful in the past when I have control of the variables and take sufficient time to prepare. So to have a great success last week without the sweat over the details was a valuable learning experience for me. Furthermore, there are important ramifications to my team as I showed a level of trust that they would deliver on a very important objective. Finally, it gives me the opportunity as a leader to recognize success by doing some public, informal recognition for a job well done. Lots of good came out of it.
The reward for me? I get to host the VP again next month as he wants to learn more and help us with our initiative. This was great news. I now know how I am going to approach it.
Mr. Ted Turner - November 9th, 2010
This week, I had the privilege of attending a conference at which Ted Turner (yes, THE Ted Turner) did a keynote session, which was conducted in an interview format. The moderator asked a series of questions and Mr. Turner provided his insights on a variety of topics that were relevant to the conference.
Without going into the details of the discussion, he did share one nugget that stuck with me:
“Early to bed, early to rise, work hard, and ADVERTISE!”
I think this is going to be my motto as I go into 2011. What struck me is that in order to move forward, whether it be my career, or my cause, it’s not enough just to work hard. You have to be able to tell others what you’re doing and why it matters.
It may be the core essence of The Big Play. Next, I am going to come up with some strategies to put this idea into motion. Stay tuned for 2011. My team and I are going to take our message to the streets.