Changing the Cultural Cement in Which Your Company Swims

Originally posted on ProjectConnections.com

I was recently told by another smarty-pants consultant that, “As long as the team makes a logical proposal to the executives, they will support their recommendation.” My retort: “Then why do people smoke?” I mean, it’s not logical to smoke. There’s plenty of data to suggest it’s bad for your health. If logic alone were sufficient to change behavior we wouldn’t find ourselves staring at the hauntingly familiar “lessons not learned” at the end of every project. What keeps us locked into behaviors that don’t make sense, at least to other people?Continue reading

Following Your Wellbeing North Star

Originally posted on http://wholelifewellbeing.com/ Desiring wellbeing is one thing – attaining it is quite another. I’ve spent my entire career helping people achieve what seems impossible, but is only difficult, and lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to help people achieve wellbeing. It seems to me that my own sense of wellbeing is created by two main factors: 1) My circumstances, and 2) my expectations.  When circumstances exceed my expectations, wellbeing increases. When they fall short of my expectations, wellbeing suffers. So one obvious way to improve wellbeing could be to lower expectations. While that might not sound like an appealing solution to everyone, let’s give it a little thought.Continue reading

Whose English is it Anyway?

Originally published on CareerShorts.com where Kimberly has been invited to contribute blogs periodically on global leadership and project management.

My work takes me from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, where more than 50% of the people living here don’t speak English at home, to Japan and elsewhere around the world nearly every month. I have the distinct honor and pleasure of working with people from all over the world, and recently had an incredible adventure with 37 people from 12 different countries who all came together as a global team to propose the future direction of their company. It’s an incredible experience to work with such a diverse group, and a heck of a challenge due to the most basic of reasons – we all speak different languages.

Even though  all members usually speak some version of “English”, it might as well be Klingon. Continue reading

Common Sense Produces Uncommon Results

Originally published on CareerShorts.com where Kimberly has been invited to contribute blogs periodically on global leadership and project management.

Did you know that there are 192 countries recognized by the United Nations and a total of 233 listed on Wikipedia?  You may not even have heard of the smallest ones, some of which have less than 1000 people.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work with human beings from over 50 countries during my career.  Although I’ve discovered many fascinating differences among them, and many delightful common human traits worth celebrating, I’ve also unfortunately found that we share a couple of fundamental tendencies that get in the way of our ability to achieve our goals:

Unclear Goals

Unclear Communication

Unclear Priorities

Continue reading

Wellbeing is Often an Interpretation

Reposted from http://wholelifewellbeing.com/ where Kimberly has been invited to be a founding blogger for this new site led by Dr. Jerry Wagner, Presidents Office, Director Institute for Wellbeing, Bellevue University, Bellevue, Nebraska.

Over the years I’ve noticed that my sense of wellbeing has more to do with my attitude and interpretation of my circumstances than my circumstances. Certainly some circumstances have made it easier for me to feel a sense of wellbeing, and there have been other circumstances that made a sense of wellbeing more elusive. But lately I’ve come to realize that I could turn any “average” day into either a good day or a bad day just through the stories I tell myself about the day. For example, I’m showering in water clean enough to drink. Should I feel overwhelming gratitude for my good fortune, or should I despair because over 1 billion people don’t even have clean water to drink? I have to admit I often feel both, but what matters is what I do with these interpretations of my circumstances.Continue reading

Still Resisting Social Media as “just for teenagers”?

This week I had lunch with a friend of mine who is in his early 30s.  I couldn’t believe it when he told me he wasn’t on Facebook and he wasn’t twittering!  Yup, that’s right, there is still at least one cool, hip, successful high-tech business person in Silicon Valley who is NOT hip-deep in these social networks.  He asked me what benefit they produced, which is kind of like asking which advertising results in sales.  Who knows!  I just know that I have to be swimming in this ocean if I want to catch any fish.  Watching from the beach just doesn’t cut it.

If you’re just playing, join whatever you fancy.  But if you’re in business, here’s my opinion on the bare minimum social media marketing you have to be experimenting with while the whole SMM craze shakes out into what it will become:

1.  Facebook – It’s not just for teenagers, and just because people use it for social reasons doesn’t mean businesses can ignore it.  One of my highest quality contacts in the business world responds promptly to Facebook requests, but never responds when I contact him via email.  You gotta transmit on the frequency people are willing to receive on.  Check out Kimberly Wiefling and Scrappy Women in Business if you want a glimpse into my Facebook world.Continue reading

Catalytic Mechanisms – Effortless Ways to Change Behavior for the Better

(Originally published at www.ProjectConnections.com)

For years I’ve been fascinated by something that Jim Collins labeled “catalytic mechanisms” in a 1999 Harvard Business Review article. The article, entitled “Turning Goals Into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms,” described how to powerfully influence people in organizations to change their behavior—easily, permanently, and nearly effortlessly. Recently a Volkswagen campaign called “Thefuntheory.com” rekindled my interest in the topic with their website dedicated to finding fun ways to change people’s behavior for the better, so I reread the HBR article and started pondering how this approach might be useful in influencing behavior on project teams. While I’m in the early phases of experimenting with catalytic mechanisms in my own work and life, I’m excited to share this with you so we can exchange ideas and all get busy transforming the planet for the better. (That’s my theme for 2010, and I have to admit it’s a bit daunting, so I can use all the help I can get!)Continue reading

Collaboration is Killing Me!

A lot of my work in the past couple of years has been consulting with a company in Tokyo called ALC Education.  It’s the biggest project of my life, with the longest time horizon of anything my A.D.D. brain has ever had to wrap itself around.  The goal of this project is nothing less than planetary transformation, something I’ve had a hankering to work on since my youth, but lacked the personal vision of exactly how to go about it.  All kidding aside, the senior executives who lead this company have told me quite matter-of-factly that they intend to transform the Japanese economy for the better, for the good of the world, through shifting the mindsets of leaders in international Japanese businesses.  When pressed, they estimated that it will take somewhere around a decade to get some traction on this whole mindset shift that will enable their clients to “solve global problems profitably”. Continue reading

Thanks for the Dish Towel!

DishTowelThis past Christmas one of my closest friends gave me a dish towel that says “Being unstable and bitchy is all part of my mystique.”  Knowing that there is truth in sarcasm, and understanding the importance of good communication skills and positive relationships to project success, I’ve decided to recommit myself to improving my relationships through improved communication skills.

Step 1 – Categorize the kinds of conversations I’m having.  I figure that being able to identify the different types of conversations should help me engage in each of them in more appropriate ways.  Here are a few of the most important that I’ve identified, and some guidelines for each:Continue reading

New Year, New Decade, Same Old Problems?

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“I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller

It’s the beginning of a whole new year and an entirely new decade. What do you want to be saying on Dec. 31, 2019? My wish for you is that you won’t be looking back with regret.  Personally, 10 years from now I intend to be looking back on a decade of surprising breakthroughs and unprecedented progress towards becoming the kind of leader I admire and the kind of human being I aspire to be.  And I sure don’t want the people of this Earth to be facing the same problems then that we’re facing now in this world.  (Nope!  Let’s have new and more exciting problems to tackle in 2020!)Continue reading