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Showing posts from June, 2016

Reinventing Management, Again

In 1994, Peter Drucker gave a lecture to government employees called “Reinventing Government: The Next Phase.” (The Drucker Lectures, 2010)

In it, he commented on the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, earlier known as the National Performance Review and commonly known as NPR. This was a government-wide management reform initiative spearheaded by Al Gore which led to the founding of the Federal Communicators Network twenty years ago. (I previously served as Chair of the FCN from 2011-2012.)

Drucker praises NPR’s success, crediting the fact that it was “focused on performance.” However, he shares his concern that an “individual, isolated” change effort is “just good intentions unless it becomes permanent, organized, self-generated habit.”

Ultimately NPR had a significant impact, including $137 billion in savings. But Drucker’s concerns were well-placed, as the work of the NPR influenced future administrations, but was not duplicated by them in the same way.

At its height NPR…

Heroism Should Not Be A Way Of Life

"What do you do?"


"I'm a therapist."


"What kind of therapist?"


"A marriage counselor."


"Who had the room before me, if I can ask?"


"My ex-husband. We're getting a divorce."

Even as a college student I thought, what an odd thing, to be a marriage counselor when you're getting a divorce.


In my youthful idealism I assumed there must be "something the matter" with her.


Little did I realize this:


You can be the best [whatever] in the world. But no matter how hard you try, there will always be some things you just cannot fix.


I was watching the HBO documentary about Gloria Steinem, "In Her Own Words." Steinem noted that one reason she chose "Ms." for her magazine name was that "women's marital status doesn't matter any more than men's does."


But she couldn't fix the fact that she was situated in an overwhelmingly sexist society that would remain so for many years. The docum…

On The Karmic Debt Owed By The Jews To The Muslims

There is such a thing as karmic debt in this world. It carries from past lives into this one. It operates at the group level and at the individual level. You can owe it even if you didn't do anything wrong - meaning that someone got hurt as the result of your actions, even if they were justified.
My personal belief is that the current rampage of radical Islamism connects with a karmic debt owed by our forefather Abraham to Ishmael and his mother, Hagar. 
If you remember the story in the Bible, Abraham slept with Hagar, Sarsh's servant, to conceive Ishmael. He did this because Sarah was thought to be too old to bear children. 
If Sarah had not conceived Yitzchak, Ishmael would have gone unchallenged as Abraham's only heir. But of course G-d had other plans.
Let's think about this for a moment, about the pain and karmic debt incurred by Abraham and Sarah toward Hagar and Ishmael. 
Hagar had no right to self determination. Her body belonged to both Sarah and Abraham. Like ever…

Peace - Not Passivity

Peace is achieved through the exercise of strength. Not by thinking like a passive, angry, powerless victim. Check out this brief clip and tell me what you think.https://youtu.be/txoejLDwNBo
_____ All opinions are always my own.

Revolution of Peace (fragment)

A note to myself -
Problem - local cultures of hate seeking global domination through acts that instill fear.
Solution - a global culture of peace, respecting local cultures of peace, accomplished through a war against war itself. Including attitudes of tolerance and courage.
Peace is not passivity.
(Opinions are always my own.)

On The President's Refusal To Name Radical Islamic Terror

President Obama just gave a press conference explaining why he won’t use the term “radical Islamic terror.” Here was a great opportunity to finally answer the question on everyone’s mind. Which is whether he has so much sympathy toward Islam that he cannot consider America’s interests objectively in this case. His response: Using the term “radical Islamic terror” is actually dangerous, he said: “It won’t make us more safe, it will make us less safe,” because our enemies will use it as a propaganda tool. They will say such a label acts to “validate” the idea of a religious war. Coming from the most image-conscious, message-aware and brand-savvy American leader of all time, this argument was specious at best. Nobody knows better than the President that radical Islamic terrorists turn everything we do into a propaganda victory. The President also knows that naming the enemy is the only way to defeat them. After all he frequently names Republicans as the cause of the roadblocks he experiences…

5 Ways to Answer the Question

No matter what you do for a living, if you run a company you will at some point have to answer questions from the public. Might be an investor, a partner, an employee, a journalist, a customer, or even a member of Congress.

Now this may sound obvious, but most of the time people have better things to do than sit down and contact a company with their concerns. So if they're exercised enough to write to you, there is probably something significant on their minds.

And while you may think it's easy to simply respond, here are a few tips that may help you build your reputation for integrity and customer service by handling public inquiries effectively.

1.Mechanics: Acknowledge the inquiry. Give the question a ticket number. Answer within a reasonable period of time. Make it clear to your customer when they should expect to hear from you.

2.Basic Content: When you answer the question, get to the point immediately. Make sure you answer all the questions or comments the person raised. Kee…

11 Recommendations from "The Middle Path of Moderation In Islam"

1. "Peace is an absolute priority" and a prerequisite for normality for all of us."
2. "Militarism, extremism, and violence...signify the failure of wasatiyyah (moderation)."
3. "Waging a campaign against criminality and aggression may call for strong measures to protect society against lawlessness."
4. "Good governance is a potent instrument and facilitator of moderation and balance in public affairs."
5. "In the sphere of government, national constitutions are the principal tools of establishing a system of checks and balances in the exercise of power."
6. "A constitution that is cognizant of the essentials of Islam, and enacted through consultative methods and promulgated by the lawfully designated leader in a Muslim majority country, may well qualify as the command of the ulu'l-amr that inspires obedience."
7. "Education and the media play crucial roles in the realization of a state of socio-political equilibrium.…

Slow Down. You're Screwing Up.

Did this crazy thing the other day. It was so out of character.


I went to the library.


They had a shelf called "great reads."


Went over to it and ran my hand along the modest beat-up walnut.


One book stood out. It was old but I'd always wanted to read it.


"New notifications" said my cellphone and then it started beeping. Texts.


Annoyed, I put it away.


As a kid, time seemed to crawl.


Now, many years later, I realize the value of slowing down.


This month's Harvard Business Review has a cover story called "The High-Intensity Workplace." It's about the strategies people use to deal with an unreasonably demanding environment, which is to say most workplaces these days.


Briefly, they either


- Go along and lose their personal lives;


- Pretend to go along and burn out along the way, ultimately burning out from the stress; or


- Admit that they're not automatons and get punished. 


Boy have things changed in just a few decades. And there isn't even a rewar…

Understanding A Threat Environment

We were talking about the Stanford rape case and the question of drinking came up.
I said that although I felt terrible for the rape victim, she shouldn't have gotten drunk.
Because a college campus, for girls, is a threat environment and it's stupid to put yourself in a position where someone can rape you.
Last night we took a walk and passed the high school. There in the grass sat two teenage girls and three teenage guys. They were laughing in that way people laugh when things are getting rowdy.
I turned to my husband and said, "That looks like trouble about to happen."
When you're dealing with a threat environment, political correctness doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that you should be able to wear whatever you want; that you should be able to drink as much as you want, and get drunk; or that you should be safe with people you think are your friends.
The only thing that matters is the amount of threat, and what you do to minimize it.
I got a call from my…

Retail Branding: Don't Confuse The Customer

Over the past few days I’ve done my fair share of browsing unfamiliar retail environments.

I cannot find a goddamn thing.

In Publix (grocery store) I needed a protein bar. Well who would think that the protein bars would be in the same aisle as the…Snapple and shampoo.

Perhaps you’re thinking Macy’s, a national brand, would be better.

No.

Here is what we confronted in our quest to buy a bathing suit for my husband.




It was a dizzying array of merchandise, but everything was piled on top of everything, placed adjacent to every other thing, and the store was almost impossible to navigate.

Plus the customer service staff was scarce.

One guy with a mountain beard stood there trying to look preoccupied with folding things.

Another lady was sweeping the men’s dressing room (???).

And then of course there was a person at the cash register, dealing with customers.

For goodness sake, carry less stuff and use white space. Have better signs. And require staff to interact with customers in a way that is genu…

How One Hilton Hotel Improved Its Customer Service

I travel to a certain Hilton hotel fairly frequently. Between my most recent visit and the previous one – less than 6 months – the improvement in customer service is so noticeable that I would call it drastic. This was evidenced by the following behaviors:
Quick response to customer service requestsFollowup phone calls to make sure we got what we neededPre-arrival text to make sure we had a contact numberActually stating “we are here to serve you, that’s what we’re here for”Smiling, courteous, but non-intrusive attitudeGenerous provision of incidentals like newspaper, toothpaste, etc.General welcoming atmosphere, very quiet and relaxingThis was a case study in customer service improvement!


I wanted to know more on a practical level: How did they do it?


So I asked one of the employees – letting the person know that I was writing a blog post, and that their name would not be used. In a sign of being well-trained and brand-conscious, the person agreed and then introduced me to the operation…

3 Ways Your Resume Needs Improvement

A few times in my career I’ve had to review resumes. Most of the resumes I see are terrible. This is because the candidate:
Throws every possible qualification into the document – regardless of whether it matches the type of job they’re applying to. Jams words on top of words, making it impossible to read them without Herculean effort. Tries to obfuscate their true level of experience. Oddly, in messing up their resumes people ignore the most basic rule of branding: make yourself uniquely appealing to the customer. But people do it anyway. The underlying psychological reason? Ego.


There is a resistance to “changing” yourself “just to satisfy someone else.”


Even if it’s for the sake of a job.
Think about how much that costs you.
_____

All opinions my own.

The Sight Of Two Men Kissing

He was repulsed, says his father, by the sight of two men kissing. He was upset that his son should see this.
His ex-wife says that he hit her. One time, because she hadn’t finished the laundry.
And then he committed the worst mass shooting in American history, killing 50 people or more at a gay nightclub.
It is hard for normal people to make sense of the killer’s mindset. So we tell ourselves he is a “cowardly hater,” not one of us. 
But maybe we are letting ourselves off too easily. We have a fair share of hatred in ourselves - often for ourselves - and it is only too easy to put that hatred on others.
There is this word “intersectionality” now. It basically means that people suffer from multiple forms of hatred at once, because all baseless hatred is related. If you hate on gay people and lesbians, you’re going to hate on people of other cultures, other colors, and classes you perceive as lesser than yourself. And guess what? You are more prone to be a terrorist.
Oddly, brands are a kind…

Why Do Branding? - Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. (June 6, 2016)

The Hidden Stresses of Senior Leadership

She gestured toward an empty spot on her desk with the open palm of her hand.  "I'm gonna put a big glass bowl of Valium here," she said.  At that, I burst out laughing. "Oh, it's no joke," she said, her voice lowering to a near-whisper. "I really need it." We'd met at the gym and I didn't work with her. So she started to unload: "They" (it wasn't clear to me whether this was employees, colleagues, bosses or some combination of the three) were constantly bringing her their problems. Family stuff. Work fights. Projects that made no sense. Bothersome people. Everything. "Shut the door," she said, putting her head down into a kind of nest made of her own elbows. "I need a break." When she picked up her head, I learned about a meeting she'd attended that morning - the latest round of fighting over some issue or another. Apparently someone had singled her out, blaming a decision she'd made five years ago for a…