Monthly Archives: June 2012

5 Tips for Opportunity Cost…Avoidance

Seth Godin’s post today on “Opportunity Cost” resonated with me because I think time is increasingly valuable. Of course, when we choose one option over another, there are implied if not explicit “costs” associated with those decisions.

Are opportunity costs just a natural part of how we work these days? Has time become so scarce that we can’t mindfully attend to our we’re investing ours?

Opportunity cost avoidance may be one strategy for helping you choose more mindfully.

Here are some tips for opportunity cost avoidance written in the form of powerful questions to ask yourself:

1. What opportunities will I have to say “no” to, if I say “yes” to this one?…All the more reason to follow Derek Sivers’s “Hell Yeah” philosophy.

2. What patterns of commitment to projects, people, leisure, my readers, etc. are serving me best?…Make more of these commitments.

3. What is my gut telling me to do?

4. What does my mouth commit to? Are numbers 3-4 aligned?

5. How will I invest my surplus of time once I have one?




Jack Welch on Competition and Engagement

“The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.”

–Jack Welch, General Electric

Two Factors That Influence Project Governance

What organizational factors impact the governance structure of a project team? I was faced with this question today, which prompted some reflection.

I’m limiting this discussion of governance to project-based work, not corporate governance in the broadest sense. That’s just too much to tackle in a blog post.

First, some definitions:

Governance–noun–The action or manner of governing

Governing–verb [ with obj. ]–conduct the policy, actions, and affairs of (a state, organization, or people)

Source of Truth: Oxford American Dictionary

So here’s where I’ve landed for today: governance is shaped by a number of cultural factors: trust, autonomy, accountability, transparency, stakeholder interests, politics, and values about power and speed-to-results.

When you boil all of these cultural factors down, there are two primary factors that influence project governance: Decision making authority and stakeholder engagement. These factors are driven by questions of who will be impacted by the project? Who will be informed about the project? Consulted for the project? Responsible? Accountable? Who will have strategic oversight and/or day-to-day tactical responsibilities? And, ultimately, how wide and deep do project leaders have to go to get information to inform decisions and/or to make decisions that drive results? Needless to say, the wider and deeper that a leader has to go into the organization to seek input and/or approval, the longer it will take to produce results. The benefit of this, however, is broader input and diversity of thought.

The figure below illustrates how varying levels of decision making authority and stakeholder engagement impact the model of governance that will shape a project team’s results (for better or worse). Do these resonate? Which models have you worked in? How have these models of governance impacted the results of your project teams?

The Meaning of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is an overused phrase. Many leaders don’t even really know what it means.

Yet organizations spend millions of dollars every year on off-the-shelf surveys in an attempt to measure this nebulous concept.

Here are the three elements encompassed by the phrase “employee engagement” based on a review of both academic and proprietary research on the topic of employee engagement (e.g., Gallup, HR Solutions, etc.).

Element 1: Trait Engagement or how some people just “are”

Characteristics of Trait Engagement include:

  • Positive views of life and work
  • Proactive Personality
  • Autotelic Personality Trait (i.e., doing things for the enjoyment of just doing them)
  • Positive Affect Conscientiousness

Element 2: State Engagement or how some people feel from one moment to the next

Characteristics of State Engagement include:

  • Feelings of energy, absorption
  • Satisfaction
  • (Affective) Involvement
  • Commitment Empowerment

Element 3: Behavioral Engagement or how some people work when they are said to be “engaged” employees

Characteristics of Behavioral Engagement include:

  • Extra-role behavior (i.e., using discretionary effort)
  • Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) Proactive/Personal Initiative
  • Role Expansion
  • Adaptive

Source of Truth:

Macey & Schneider (2008). The Meaning of Employee Engagement. Organizational Psychology, 1 (2008), 3–30



How to Align Your Team’s “Stand-Fors”: A Reflective Exercise

Spending some time thinking about what your ‘stand-fors’ are will help you and your team prioritize and align your daily efforts with the purpose behind your business practice.

Here’s an exercise to help align your values and actions:

Step 1: Write down answers to the following questions.

What do you stand for (e.g., Justice, Service, Peace, Innovation, Safety)?

How do you let customers, employees, business partners, etc. know what your stand-fors are?

Does your team know what you stand for as their leader?

Do you know what your leader’s stand-fors are?

How might your results change if you communicated your stand-fors more clearly? More often?

Step 2: Invite someone else with whom you work to answer these questions.

Step 3: Discuss your answers.

Step 4: Commit to action (i.e., what will you change about how your working together based on this


Step 5: Review your lists together on a quarterly basis to ensure that your stand-fors are guiding your actions.


Adapted from Michael H. Cohen’s, Time to Lead: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement.

Inspiration from Gary Lew

“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.” –Gary Lew

5 Tips for Managing Thinkers, Doers, & Be-ers

Today’s organizations are full of thinkers, doers, and be-ers (I’m choosing to hyphenate “be-ers” so that it doesn’t get confused with beers). Leveraging these talents on teams can be a challenge, and frankly many leaders don’t do a good job of balancing the gifts that each brings to the team.

First a few definitions:

Thinkers. These are your strategists, big-picture folks, and employees that pose great questions. Their input is valuable, however, it doesn’t necessarily translate into action or any tangible change/value-add.

Doers. These are your implementers. They have a preference for action, details, making things happen, and change. Doers complement the thinkers in that they can translate ideas into real positive change.

Be-ers. The be-ers are the calm during the storm. They are the group harmonizers and can keep a team grounded during times of change.

Tips for Managing Thinkers, Doers, & Be-ers

1. Keep the brightest of the thinkers around, and trade the dull thinkers in for more doers and be-ers.

2. Keep the doers engaged. Give them concrete deadlines and clear first steps. Team them up with a thinker and a be-er.

3. Pair Be-ers with doers. Be-ers can help slow the doers down so that they are more reflective in the actions that they take, and so that they understand the impact of their actions on people.

4. Recognize the be-ers for the value that they bring to the team. Be-ers often don’t get a lot of recognition because they didn’t lead the development of strategy and they didn’t drive the team to the finish line. However, the be-ers enable effective and sustainable change.

5. Talk with your thinkers, doers, and be-ers to determine what they think their greatest strengths are. Align their projects with their talents, and help them grow their strengths through training, coaching, and/or stretch assignments.