Change Should Be the Middle Name of Every Business

Top productivity speaker Laura Stack on Change

[TRANSCRIPT] Change should actually be the middle name of every business. In his latest book, Playing To Win, A.G.’s Lafley talks about the five things that every leader should do to execute strategy and get the company to win. And, ultimately, all five come down to change. The companies that don’t change will go the way of the dinosaurs. No one really agrees on what happened to the dinosaurs; however everyone agrees they are dead. And it has something to do with their inability to change. Think about companies like Motorola, Kodak, Palm, Saab, Atari, Myspace, and Borders. What do they have in common? They are either in steep decline or demise because of their inability to stay relevant, to be flexible, and to change. At some level, even though it’s not always fun, we should be glad and … [Read more...]

Five Ways to Acceptance: Dealing with Factors Beyond Your Control

Five Ways to Acceptance: Dealing with Factors Beyond Your Control

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."—Reinhold Neibuhr, American theologian. Like it or not, many of life's circumstances—even within the average corporate office—are beyond our control. The weather, for instance, remains outside humanity's bailiwick; we can try to predict it two or three days out, but in Denver we still can't halt the snowstorms that close the airport right before Christmas or the hailstorms that ruin our roofs. At work, unless you’re the CEO or on the board of directors, we have little control over the decisions of those higher in the organizational hierarchy. We have even less control over the actions of the world at large. But being human, we worry about these … [Read more...]

Focus On The Things That Drive Your Company

TRANSCRIPT We had the leadership team, we only had about twelve people in there and the CFO got to talking about their expense report process. And he was explaining how they've got this all automated, and they can scan the receipts and they file their own expense reports and he was talking about how he was very proud of the fact that he did his expense reports and how efficiently he had his travel and I'm thinking. You're the CFO, they're paying you how much? This guy was making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and he's filing his expense reports and booking his own travel. So he realized after that "you know that's probably a fifteen or twenty dollar type of activity isn't it?" and there's been a kind of a throw back. I have seen a resurgence, a resurrection of the … [Read more...]

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals: Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself Too Hard

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals by Laura Stack #productivity

"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."— Sir Arthur C. Clarke, British science and science fiction writer. If you never dare to dream the impossible dream, you'll never know how much you can achieve. We all know this in our hearts, but many of us never apply it to our work lives. There's a saying that goals are just dreams with deadlines; so why should you ever hesitate to set impossible goals?  (<-- Click to Tweet.) No matter how impossible they may seem, goals offer solid targets for you to shoot at. They also stitch together intention, planning, ability, talent, execution, process, teamwork and more into a fabric of productivity you can constantly and consistently tweak higher, through the application of more and newer … [Read more...]

6 Ways to Succeed Despite Unpleasant Coworkers

Overcoming Human Obstacles

"Before someone can treat you like a doormat, you have to lie down first."— Dear Abby, American advice columnist. One thing we often forget about teamwork is that you don't have to like everyone on your team to work effectively with them. It helps, but in any group, you'll probably find someone who rubs you at least slightly the wrong way. One of humanity's greatest strengths, however, is ability to put aside our differences to further a greater cause—whether that means building a wall 13,000 miles long or building a world-class corporation. You'll almost always have coworkers you simply don't like (click to tweet). This doesn't mean they can't do their jobs well; we've all known curmudgeons who were geniuses, or smug apple-polishers who did award-winning work. Indeed, high talent … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Facilitate Inter-Team Teamwork

Four Ways to Facilitate Inter-Team Teamwork

"Good things happen when you meet strangers."— Yo Yo Ma, Chinese American cellist. One thing you can count on when working for a large organization is working with people from other teams (click to tweet). Each team has its own dynamic, processes, procedures, and level of team trust; so when you're thrust into a situation where you have to cooperate for the first time, there may be uncertainty until you build bridges leading you all to common ground. Usually, this happens naturally over time; but life is a lot less complicated when you make a concerted effort to set aside your differences, emphasize your commonalities, and engage smoothly with the familiar strangers who happen to be your co-workers. So do what you can to smooth the transition, even if you fail to understand the … [Read more...]

What You Stand For: Building a Team Philosophy and Code of Conduct

"Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. Successful [people] act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, and feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results." – William James, American philosopher. What makes a team successful? In many ways, building a team is like constructing a building. While most of us aren’t engineers, we understand the basics of their work. We know, for example, that constructing a building requires basic resources, fasteners to hold the pieces together, protective elements, and more—but it’s all built on a foundation, proceeding from the bottom up. A Solid Substrate In my Christian Bible, Jesus Christ once declared to the Apostle … [Read more...]

Sincere Teamwork: Identifying and Avoiding False Cooperation

Sincere Teamwork

"Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." —Bill Nye the Science Guy, American scientist and educator. Every major accomplishment in history—from figuring out how to make a rock into a spear point to the construction of the International Space Station—has resulted from people working together, often in great numbers over a long period of time. Even the "lone wolf geniuses" we idolize usually have a talented team around them or a devoted support group, if not both. While I would argue that traditional teams have begun decentralizing due to technological and cultural evolution, this doesn't mean teamwork will be any less valuable in the future. If anything, it will become more important than ever. Dealing with Poseurs In the biological world, there are symbionts, … [Read more...]

Time Management Lessons Learned from a Fortune 25 Leadership Team

A few weeks ago, upon the invitation of an officer in a Fortune 25 corporation, I spent the day with his leadership team discussing the concepts in my newest book, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. With many new initiatives in the pipeline, his leaders were facing time management challenges around getting everything done, personally and within their respective teams. While much of our conversation is confidential around specific business strategies of course, I can share some of the insights we discovered. I shared my 3T Leadership Model, which describes where leaders divide their time: Part I: Strategic Thinking (Business) Acting as the organizational strategist, with the focus on business goals. The leader monitors the big picture and makes sure … [Read more...]

Improved Communication: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Improving Communication

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said. — Peter F. Drucker, Austrian-American father of management theory. One of the things separating us from the animals is our ability to communicate easily and clearly. If fact, communication has helped us greatly widen that gap in the millennia since the first meaningful words left a human throat. We've even adapted to speech biologically, with a special bone (the hyoid) that exists mostly just to support the tongue. If a clear communication method had never come about, we might never have invented writing, and our culture would have stalled in the Neolithic—if not earlier. Every day, communication methods continue to improve, in ways both cultural and technological. (Tweet this!) In this blog, I'll suggest … [Read more...]