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20 July, 2011 / Karl Maier

Can an Unlimited Vacation Policy Improve Productivity?

According to a recent Wall Street Journal Article, about 2% of companies offer an unlimited vacation policy.

Workers get no guaranteed amount, or official limit, of vacation time, but they have to get time off approved and generally have to make sure things go smoothly in their absence. Some employers promote this as liberating, saying their workplaces are so flexible that old-fashioned constraints such as assigned time off aren’t needed. But others say the lack of guidelines fuels a tendency to work all the time.

Open-ended vacations mesh well with the open-ended workday at Netflix Inc. In 2004, the Los Gatos, Calif., company stopped tracking vacations in order to “focus on what people get done, not on how many hours or days” they work, according to a company presentation at the time.

Does this policy really help people focus on doing the work? Or does it just give them the flexibility to work from any location on their phone and laptop?

17 July, 2011 / Karl Maier

God Complex versus Trial and Error

Consider whether we know everything – and how hard it can be to admit we don’t know everything.  Watch the video and see what you think.

 

22 June, 2011 / Karl Maier

Change has no Constituency

Here is a TEDx video of Dave Logan talking about teams and cultures.  Check it out for a review of the five stages of leadership and three great tips on changing the world.

6 April, 2011 / Karl Maier

What’s the best way to build a moat around your business castle?

moatWhat’s the best way to build a moat around your business castle?

Warren Buffet has said that when investing he looks for businesses that are like castles with wide moats.

If you are lucky enough to be running Google, Microsoft or Coke then you have a castle with a great moat.  If your castle and moat are not quite as established, what is the best way to make your castle and moat stronger?  Building a team of dedicated, motivated people is the answer.

Keep in mind the top ways to build your business team.

25 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Video of Dave Logan at TED

I like Dave Logan’s overview of Tribal Leadership at TED.

24 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Play Sports or Watch Sports

Race Car Driver by Ford in EuropeWatching sports is fun, but playing sports is much better.

High performance teams are made up of competitors.  If you are hiring spectators, then you are not building a high performance team.  The point is not to necessarily to hire people who are super athletes, but to hire people who are super competitors.

People who want to play sports like to have goals, competition and teams.  These characteristics require drive in a person’s personality.  Typically, these type of people will accept coaching to improve themselves.  They will also see the value of training and being part of a team to achieve a goal.

A friend who is an avid car racer told me that he would “rather be a second-rate competitor than a first-rate spectator”.  That quote describes the person I want to hire.

 

23 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Clear Thinking

Clear ThinkingGood decisions demand clear thinking.

Examining the situation and getting appropriate information in the context of the situation is an informed way to make a decision.  Just saying, “That is how we did it last time” is not a decision, but an avoidance of rational conversation, a Stage Two behavior.

Clear thinking demands evaluating questions such as:

  • Are the facts the same as the last time?
  • Where is the market for this service?
  • Did we talk to the vendor?
  • What does the customer think?
  • Have we gathered the appropriate information?
  • Who is the competition in this case?
  • Do other departments have any insight?
  • What do the alternatives look like?

Are these the type of questions being asking?  If not, how is value being added to the process?

22 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Technology and Culture

TechnologyWhat does technology have to do with culture of an organization?

Some of the key values of an effective culture in an organization include communication and decision making.  Technology can certainly enable communications and decision making.

However, the team must have the ability to adapt to the technology in order to make it useful.  Just bringing in tablets or new software does not improve productivity.  If key managers do not learn and adapt the technology, then the productivity improvements will be limited or perhaps negative.

The other side of the coin, technology without appropriate business training leaves a company open to making poor decisions.  Technology is great at pushing data down to lower levels of an organization so decisions can be made more quickly and closer to the action. However if the proper training and experience is not in place at the point of decision, then the company has just automated a poor decision making process.

21 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Trust … and Verify

When building your culture it is important to include positive, motivating values in the mix.  Be sure to include values related to things like monitoring performance and accepting concerns about problems.  All the growth the company generates can be counteracted in a flash due to lack of performance or fraud.

Verifying is an important part of caring.

18 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Culture Poll: Does your organization have a Noble Goal?

17 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

The Power of Tiny Teams

Triad - Group of ThreeThe smallest a team can be is two people.  In tennis, two players are partners.  In business two people starting a business are called partners.

The next step up is three people.  I like the term triad for this size group.  I borrow this word from the Tribal Leadership book.

The dynamic changes significantly as a team moves from a partnership to a triad.  If partners are frustrated with an aspect of the group they have to either directly confront their partner, go outside the group, or internalize the stress.  Members of a triad have another option.  They can discuss the issue within the group without directly confronting the person who is the point of frustration at that moment.  There can be more creative discussion with less sense of conflict in a triad as well.

Triads can overlap with other triads to form more relationships. Each connection helps build communication and a stronger tribe.

Can you see a way triads could help develop your team?

16 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

Not Giving the Customer What they Want

Traditional wisdom tells us that the customer is always right.  But is giving the customer what they want really the best course of action?Saying no to the customer

Not always.  In the case of a specialized technical field outside the customer’s field, can the customer really judge their needs? What if the customer asks for a service level of 20% when they really need a solution that is at least 80% to deal with the risks at hand?  If you provide the 20% solution and the service fails, then have you really served the client?

What if you tell the client they need 80%, but they insist on 20%?  If you decline to provide the 20% solution, then you are more likely to get the call when the 20% solution breaks.  It is not easy saying no to any sale, but selling the wrong thing can only hurt your growth and reputation in the end.

Have you ever experienced this situation with a customer?

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