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orgI work with businesses all the time which are struggling with their employee programs and benefits.  It’s something you know you have to do in order to be seen as a solid employer and retain your folks.

But it’s so easy to get mired down in all the details!

The details are important, sure, but you can lose your way.

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Starting out as a software engineer in computer communications, I ran across the robustness principle:

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others

accept rejectIt’s a highly useful approach to get software programs to work well with each other, but I’ve also learned that it’s even more powerful when talking about human relationships.

Humans make a lot more mistakes than computers do.

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Image by Francisco Huguenin Uhlfelder

Image by Francisco Huguenin Uhlfelder

It was one of the most bizarre weeks in my career.

I was working for a huge global IT firm at the time, and I was working on a challenging technical issue.  Back in the 1980s, we didn’t have the whole world’s knowledge at our fingertips, so I started asking around.

I ended up talking to dozens of people around the globe.  Nobody had the answer to my question, but they had various pieces of the puzzle.

At the end of the week, I talked with a person who said he’d heard of a guy in Colorado who was doing work in this area.  SCORE!  Then he gave me my name.

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Our economy and our daily lives run on utilities. They’re so critical, in fact, that government plays a major role in ensuring their reliability and pervasive availability. But they also suffer from invisibility.

When something is reliable and universal, we don’t spend much time thinking about it. Until something interrupts it, of course, such as a flood or major storm or a human-caused event.

This happens a lot in business, too.

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tldrI ran across this curious little designation about a year ago, and I struggled to figure out why people were using it comments on blogs and discussion groups.


So of course I asked the all-knowing Google, and it turns out there’s a Wikipedia page on the topic.  It means “too long; didn’t read.”

Yet, despite directly admitting that they didn’t invest the time to read an article – much less think about it – a commenter feels the need to go ahead and respond to what they thought/feared/hoped the original writer said.

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When you think about it, “managing” your team can be a distasteful concept.

It’s built on the presumption that you have control over what they do, and are smart enough to direct their every move. Most experienced managers realize this control-and-compliance model gets just the minimum acceptable level of contribution.

And sometimes not even that.

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This article was first published in the Bolton Remote blog.

john Keogh on Flickr

Photo by john Keogh on Flickr

Most companies follow pretty much the same process for hiring:

  1. You notice that you need some work done.
  2. You write a job description.
  3. You publish that through job boards and other mechanisms.
  4. People apply for the job.
  5. You do multiple levels of filtering, ultimately talking with a few candidates in person.
  6. You make your offer to the best candidate, or if this didn’t work, go back to square one.

These are the steps we’ve been using since the industrial revolution, and you’re familiar with the two key failings Read the rest of this entry »

Amusement parkTrue confession time:  I have a real soft spot in my heart for amusement parks.  You see, I met my then-future-wife when we worked at a park for a summer in Denver.  We’ve reflected on that experience for nearly 40 years now.

So I was really interested to hear today’s episode of This American Life which was dedicated to the topic.

But this isn’t about the experience you get as a customer; what strikes me is the experience as an employee and supervisor.  Which is quite unique, let me tell you!

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chinese-676648_640This is kind of an arcane concept, right?  That employees should have any loyalty to the company they work for?

Yet, you keep striving for it.  The latest trick I saw yesterday is that some employers are requiring non-compete agreements, even for minimum wage jobs.

Sorry, that’s not the way you build loyalty.

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Ritsuo Shingo is one of the luminaries in the area of Lean, and he’s coming to Fort Collins on May 12th!  This is a great opportunity to have a real discussion about developing an organization which will run rings around the competition in turbulent times.

Here’s all the information you need.

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