The Stories We Tell: Creating and Perpetuating Your Corporate DNA

thumbnail(Originally posted on projectconnections.com)

Recently, several of my clients have become extremely interested in exploring what they call their “corporate DNA.” At first I resisted, because I was concerned that this metaphor implied that they were incapable of changing. But for the most part, this model is being used to explore the unique identity of an organization — the strengths that are admired, and should be preserved and transmitted to future generations.

Most every kid who has the luxury of getting an education learns the basics of DNA. DNA is what causes a giraffe to have a long neck, kangaroos to have pouches, and porcupines to have quills instead of fur. Tadpoles turn into frogs, not butterflies, because of their DNA. And a lot of behavior has its roots in an organism’s DNA. Birds have wings, but dogs don’t, therefore dogs don’t fly. Snakes, lacking both legs and wings, resort to crawling. But what is the meaning of the DNA of an organization?
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What is Design Thinking? A Powerful Methodology for Projects, but NOT “Thinking About Design”!

(Originally posted on projectconnections.com)

Why do simple and effective approaches to getting things done often become obscured by jargon? For example, way back in the last century when I worked at HP we experienced big changes in the business environment. 20140515-einstein-quote-kwiefling Although layoffs are common at HP these days, back then everyone I knew believed that HP had a “no layoff” policy. As offshoring became commonplace, it became clear that the lifetime employment contract was no longer viable. Executives and HR people started using terms like “career self-reliance” and “workforce resilience” — fancy phrases used to convey a pretty simple message: “You’re on your own when it comes to career development and job security.” Unsurprisingly, thousands of people were laid off over the next few years. Being laid off didn’t bother me nearly as much as seeing the reality of our situation needlessly obscured by buzzwords. I strongly believe that the terminology used in communicating the changes was unnecessarily complicated and indirect. Complex doesn’t necessarily mean complicated. I prefer to follow Einstein’s guidance to “make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

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Being Great Project Leader with a Mortgage and Kids in College by Kimberly Wiefling, M.S.

Happy Family w older children by photostock (Originally posted on ProjectConnections.com)
Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the strong beliefs that I have about effective project leadership is that it cannot be done by someone who has a mortgage, kids in college, or a spouse who doesn’t work. I don’t have kids, my spouse does work, and I am totally open to living in my car, if necessary. In my experience, a project leader must often operate in an environment where the very people who sign their paychecks are also the biggest obstacles to success. That’s why I developed Scrappy Project Management, a take-no-prisoners approach to getting the job done no matter what, with little or no regard for your own professional future beyond the end of the project.Continue reading

Welcome to the Worldwide Economic Mood Disorder!

Get out of the boxThe current global crisis, which I’m calling the “worldwide economic mood disorder” (WEMD for short), hit right about the time I was feeling that I’d finally recovered from the dot-com bubble bust of 2001. Although that period of business convulsions did reach beyond the Silicon Valley, my neighborhood was definitely “ground zero”. My cushy job as VP of Program Management and Organizational Effectiveness at a Xerox Parc spin-off evaporated, along with my inflated six figure salary and a very snazzy Jaguar that I hastily replaced with a second-hand Mustang convertible. I watched my exceedingly brilliant, experienced and well-educated friends from Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the like, hit the job-search streets like bums looking for a place to crash for the night. I kept a list of all of the people I knew who were unemployed on my desk so I could send them job leads.Continue reading

I'm Not a Bitch, I'm Just Scrappy

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For years I thought I was a bitch. Then I realized I was just scrappy! When I was younger I wanted people to think I was nice, but then I noticed that it was a lot easier to get my way if I was pushy. Unfortunately, being a bully works. Over the years I’ve made numerous trade offs between my integrity and some business result that I pushed a little too hard to get. But even when I thought I was just being appropriately persistent, determined or intense, I’ve noticed that it’s a fine line between bitch and doormat. Presented with what appeared to be a choice between these two opposites, I gravitated towards bitch every time.

Some people tell me that the world is a spectrum of possibilities, that I needn’t choose between the extremes, that I tend to perceive the polar endpoints rather than more moderate options. It has only been in the last 5 years or so that I’ve begun to realize that there are more moderate approaches, like being firm yet tactful, or gracious, yet determined.   But these approaches require a great deal of self-awareness, skill and care, so when I’m tired, or stressed out, well, bitch wins.Continue reading

Learn about the Scrappy Guides and Scrappy Project Management

scrappy-project-management-big.jpgScrappy means ATTITUDE.

Scrappy means not relying on a title to be a leader.

Scrappy means being willing to take risks and put yourself out there.

Scrappy means doing the right thing, even when you don’t feel like it.

Scrappy means having the steely resolve of a street fighter.

Scrappy means sticking to your guns even if you’re shaking in your boots.

Scrappy means being committed beyond reason to making a difference.

Scrappy means caring about something more than you care about being comfortable, socially acceptable, or politically correct.

Scrappy means being absolutely, totally committed to extraordinary results.

Scrappy means EDGY! . . . and is your edge in achieving outrageous results even when they seem impossible.

The Scrappy Guides help you muster the courage and commitment to pursue your goals-even when there is no evidence that you can succeed. They will be your shield against the naysayers who will try to undermine you, and they will give you comfort during the inevitable failures that accompany most worthy pursuits. When you fail, fail fast, fail forward, in the direction of your goals, lurching fitfully if you must. Continue reading