2015 Lessons Learned are In! It’s all about ACTION…!

2015 “lessons learned” are in! A BIG THANK YOU to all who contributed…

Just a little context before we jump in…This is the second year I’ve conducted a “Lessons Learned Exchange” at Blue Ink, asking readers to contribute 2 lessons from the past year (see the comments below).

The objective is three-fold: 1) learn and build on the past i.e. “look back to live forward”, 2) benefit from real firsthand experience – life experiences leave “deep marks” and always beat abstract concept, 3) leverage the “community effect” – rooted in the belief that giving “life knowledge” to another person is an invaluable gift.

Although I’ve summarized the main lessons below, my conclusion is that the theme of 2015 was the importance of ACTION! – moving forward, learning from failure, iterating, being proactive in relationships… etc. (interesting to compare to last year’s theme, read here).

As you read the list below, see if you can identify with this central theme…Do you agree? Are there others? Is there something that really resonated with you? Agree? Disagree?

  1. Don’t over-prioritize. Do the work that is in front of you. Don’t get so far-sighted that you miss opportunities today.
  2. Know when good enough is good enough. Don’t waste time on perfection – it’s costly, often assumes a false standard and that we can get there in “one shot.” Putting something out there and iterating on it often takes you further.
  3. Keep serving. Live in the solution, not the problem. Looking for ways to be part of a better outcome often takes the blame off of assigning blame and gets us looking forward.
  4. Be agile and adapt in a changing environment. Be aware of what is happening in your environment. Don’t assume that what started as “the right approach” is still the right approach.
  5. Be aware of perception. The way you come across is often different than what you intended. Take deliberate steps to find out how you are perceived and adjust accordingly.
  6. You’re not a fit for everything. Great opportunities don’t necessarily mean great opportunities for YOU. Understand your giftedness and talents and look for the right match to maximize your contribution.
  7. Change often comes in daily increments. We often think of a big change coming being linked to a monumental event. However, most successful change comes in small steps repeated every day.
  8. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker).” While vision, goals, strategy…are important. A healthy organizational culture provides the fruitful soil for all of these to be truly effective and take root.
  9. Long term vision enables emotional stability…It allows us to position present success or failure in its proper place – reasonable joy in happy times (understanding there’s more needed), perseverance in tough times (understanding that failure is a learning opportunity and necessary for success).

Again, a HUGE THANK YOU to all who contributed. What’s your take on the lessons above? Any reaction?…others that come to mind as you read?

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Kickoff #2015LLE! Share your lessons learned here on the “2015 Lessons Learned Exchange”…

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know that an over-arching theme is exploring, learning and finding ways to develop as a leader. Obviously one of the key ways of doing that is not just to “consume” but to share. Since we’re getting close to the end of the year (hard to believe!), it’s a great time to do exactly that…AND, just like in 2014, I invite you to do it HERE!

How does it work? It’s really simple. I’m asking each reader to write 2 important lessons learned in the comment section below. By the end of December, I’ll summarize all the entries and synthesize the key lessons learned for you to review — a “crowd-sourced” summary of 2015.

In 2014, nine themes came to to light, focusing primarily on the theme of “relationships” (click here to read). I’m really excited to see what learnings will emerge this year.

So here we go, kickoff #2015LLE – “2015 Lessons Learned Exchange.” Thanks in advance for sharing!

learn_and_sharePicture: www.dwarkeshkdiwan.wordpress.com

Restoring “process” to its rightful place. Principle #2: Build it for Purpose!

This post is the 4th in a series on considering the proper position of “process.” Beginning with its current stigma, to everyday situations that reveal its necessity, to the two guiding principles I submit are the keys to its restoration. The following is the second guiding principle:

Continually re-design process for purpose and environment. Just as car-makers continually update technology and release new models every 2-3 years to meet new consumer demands and regulations, process must be continually updated to meet the demands of its customers. What does this mean to you?blueprint3

  • Build processes for today, but with the future in mind. Beware! There’s a trap if you just apply the “vision & strategy principle” in isolation, because if today’s processes are built to match the 5-year vision you’ll be in trouble. Why? Because you’re probably still in “year 1” and the processes needed in “year 5” (when we’ve doubled our customer-base & added 3 product lines, for example) are too complex and high-powered for what we need today. As a previous manager once told me: “there’s no sense in measuring something with a micrometer if you’re going to cut it with a baseball bat.” The art is to build just enough process (not more) to meet the needs of today, but make sure it is aligned and can be built upon to reach the vision of tomorrow.
  • Adapt! Taking a page from the industrial design community, make sure processes are frequently updated and redesigned. From my perspective this directly challenges the traditional “quality system mentality” in which a quality department writes procedures that typically stay static for years and become the “prison” in which the business is forced to operate (or find “clever” ways to avoid, and therefore make irrelevant). What about the notion of “process designers”? – people at the cutting edge of industry trends & business-model understanding who can partner with leaders to design (& re-design) cutting edge processes that provide a competitive advantage? Rather than being seen as “prison wardens” that preach “what not to do” they’re “business partners” who continually reinvent and “make life easier” to better serve customers and produce superior results.

So, is process a lost cause? NO! Clearly not! However, we need a radically new mindset to give it a new lease on life and restore it to its proper place in the management toolbox. If this is achieved, we can overcome the stigma of confinement and complexity, recasting it as a tool of competitive advantage helping organizations continually find innovative ways to do things fundamentally better than their competition.

Picture: www.internetbusinessmastery.com