Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why investing in engaging your team always works?

Everyone wants to retain talented members in their team. Here is a little advice from Mario Mazzola, Chief Development Officer at Cisco Systems on how to go about it.

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Motivating and retaining talented people can be difficult. There are situations when a leader has to motivate his/her people to find a complex solution rather than a simpler one. There are occasions were he/she might have to make people find really simple solutions.

Mario Mazzola, Chief Development Officer at Cisco Systems, suggests that one effective way to retain talented people is to provide them with challenge.

Some talented people are good at finding complex solutions to complex problems. But simple solutions can be useful sometimes. So Mazzola encourages these kinds of people to design simpler solutions by mastering the basics. Designing simpler solutions needs discipline, imagination, and self-confidence. This task provides them with enough challenge.

Some talented people are good at finding efficient and innovative ways to develop new technologies. But since customers use existing technologies, what they really need most of the times, is an integrated solution. Creating an integrated solution can be a complex problem and a complex problem might need a complex solution.

To encourage people to develop complex solutions, Mazzola first acknowledges their resourcefulness and also encourages them to meet customers to understand the situations in which customers operate. This provides them with healthy challenges, while giving recognition to their ingenuity.

Why invest in preparation?

All of us are well acquainted with Murphy’s law…this funny story talks about the “evils” of rushing in at the last minute.

Picture2After twenty-five years in the same parish, Father O’Shaunessey was saying his farewells at his retirement dinner. An eminent member of the congregation – a leading politician – had been asked to make a presentation and a short speech, but was late arriving.

So the priest took it upon himself to fill the time, and stood up to the microphone: “I remember the first confession I heard here twenty-five years ago and it worried me as to what sort of place I’d come to… That first confession remains the worst I’ve ever heard. The chap confessed that he’d stolen a TV set from a neighbor and lied to the police when questioned, successfully blaming it on a local scallywag. He said that he’d stolen money from his parents and from his employer; that he’d had affairs with several of his friends’ wives; that he’d taken hard drugs, and had slept with his sister and given her VD. You can imagine what I thought… However I’m pleased to say that as the days passed I soon realized that this sad fellow was a frightful exception and that this parish was indeed a wonderful place full of kind and decent people…“

At this point the politician arrived and apologized for being late, and keen to take the stage, he immediately stepped up to the microphone and pulled his speech from his pocket:

“I’ll always remember when Father O’Shaunessey first came to our parish,” said the politician, “In fact, I’m pretty certain that I was the first person in the parish that he heard in confession..”

Why invest in viewing the complete picture?

Why invest in viewing the complete picture? Often what we appear to see is only part of the story…and we act before taking the time to understand…a nice story on viewing the complete picture.

Picture3A little old couple walked into a fast food restaurant.

The little old man walked up to the counter, ordered the food, paid, and took the tray back to the table where the little old lady sat.

On the tray was a hamburger, a small bag of fries and a drink. Carefully the old man cut the hamburger in two, and divided the fries into two neat piles. He sipped the drink and passed it to the little old lady, who took a sip and passed it back.

A young man on a nearby table had watched the old couple and felt sorry for them. He offered to buy them another meal, but the old man politely declined, saying that they were used to sharing everything.

The old man began to eat his food, but his wife sat still, not eating. The young continued to watch the couple. He still felt he should be offering to help. As the little old man finished eating, the old lady had still not started on her food. “Ma’am, why aren’t you eating?” asked the young man sympathetically.

The old lady looked up and said politely, “I’m waiting for the teeth..”

Why invest in taking pride in your work?

Why invest in taking pride in your work? It’s all in the mind…is the work that we are doing too small or too menial…or is there another way to add value and look at it differently…a touching story of a child’s perspective on his work.

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A small boy was auditioning with his classmates for a school play.

His mother knew that he’d set his heart on being in the play – just like all the other children hoped too – and she feared how he would react if he was not chosen.

On the day the parts were awarded, the little boy’s mother went to the school gates to collect her son.

The little lad rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Guess what Mum,” he shouted, and then said the words that provide a lesson to us all, “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.”

Why invest in understanding individual motivations?

Why invest in understanding individual motivations? Each person has their own needs, motivations, dreams and desires…a good manager is one who listens, understands and applies this information productively.

Picture5This is a true story. Some years ago the following exchange was broadcast on an Open University sociology TV programme.

An interviewer was talking to a female production-line worker in a biscuit factory. The dialogue went like this:

Interviewer: How long have you worked here?

Production Lady: Since I left school (probably about 15 years).

Interviewer: What do you do?

Production Lady: I take packets of biscuits off the conveyor belt and put them into cardboard boxes.

Interviewer: Have you always done the same job?

Production Lady: Yes.

Interviewer: Do you enjoy it?

Production Lady: Oooh Yes, it’s great, everyone is so nice and friendly, we have a good laugh.

Interviewer (with a hint of disbelief): Really? Don’t you find it a bit boring?

Production Lady: Oh no, sometimes they change the biscuits…

Why invest in Ethics?

Why invest in ethics? The best of us sometimes tell white lies to our customers..the consequences can be disastrous..the choice is for us to make.

Picture6A butcher, who had had a particularly good day, proudly flipped his last chicken on a scale and weighed it.

“That will be £6.35,” he told the customer.

“That’s a good price, but it really is a little too small,” said the woman. “Don’t you have anything larger?”

Hesitating, but thinking fast, the clerk returned the chicken to the refrigerator, paused a moment, then took it out again.

“This one,” he said faintly, ” will be £6.65.”

The woman paused for a moment, then made her decision…

“I know what,” she said, “I’ll take both of them!”

Why invest in a positive outlook?

There are people who always find adversity in situations and circumstances…they wonder why? And some people always find a conducive environment…the answer to both lies in this story.

Picture7One day a traveller was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveller, and the traveller nodded to the monk. The traveller then turned to the monk and said “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?”.

“Not at all,” replied the monk. “I am travelling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?“

“Tell me,” said the monk, “What was your experience of the village in the mountains?“ “Dreadful,” replied the traveller, “to be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?“

“I am sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there”. The traveller hung his head despondently and walked on.

A while later another traveller was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.”I’m going to the village in the valley,” said the second traveller, “Do you know what it is like?”

“I do,” replied the monk “But first tell me – where have you come from?“ “I’ve come from the village in the mountains.“ “And how was that?“

“It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to travelling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again.

“I think you will find it much the same” replied the monk, “Good day to you”.

“Good day and thank you,” the traveller replied, smiled, and journeyed on.

Why invest in developing other’s needs?

For those of us in positions of authority…a lot of people around us look up to us as role models. Taking the time out to invest in their dreams is a way of “paying it forward”.

Picture8A mother wished to encourage her small girl’s interest in the piano and so took her to a local concert featuring an excellent pianist.

At the entrance foyer, the mother met an old friend and the two stopped to talk. The little girl was keen to look inside the hall and so wandered off, unnoticed by her mother. The girl’s mother became concerned when she entered the hall and could see no sign of her daughter.

Staff were notified and an announcement was made asking the audience to look out for the little lost girl. With the concert due to start, the little girl had still not been found.

In preparation for the pianist’s entrance, the curtains drew aside, to reveal the little girl sitting at the great piano, focused in concentration, quietly picking out the notes of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

The audience’s amusement turned to curiosity when the pianist entered the stage, walked up to the little girl, and said “Keep playing.“

The pianist sat down beside her, listened for a few seconds, and whispered some more words of encouragement. He then began quietly to play a bass accompaniment, and then a few bars later reached around the little girl to add more accompaniments.

At the end of the impromptu performance the audience applauded loudly as the pianist took the little girl back to her seat to be reunited with her mother. The experience was inspirational for everyone, not least the small girl.

It takes just a few moments to make somebody’s day, to help someone with their own personal aims and dreams – especially someone who looks up to you for encouragement and support.

Why invest time in challenging the status quo?

This story is a complete eye opener..and the sad part is that it gets repeated all the time during our work lives…all we need to do is challenge the status quo and this attitude will always result in higher productivity.

Picture9A very old traditional brewery decided to install a new canning line, so as to enable its beer products to be marketed through the supermarket sector. This represented a major change for the little company, and local dignitaries and past employees were invited to witness the first running of the new canning line, which was followed by a buffet and drinks.

After the new line had been switched on successfully, and the formalities completed, the guests relaxed in small groups to chat and enjoy the buffet. In a quiet corner stood three men discussing trucks and transport and distribution, since one was the present distribution manager, and the other two were past holders of the post, having retired many years ago. The three men represented three generations of company distribution management, spanning over sixty years.

The present distribution manager confessed that his job was becoming more stressful because company policy required long deliveries to be made on Monday and Tuesday, short deliveries on Fridays, and all other deliveries mid-week.

“It’s so difficult to schedule things efficiently – heaven knows what we’ll do with these new cans and the tight demands of the supermarkets…“

The other two men nodded in agreement.

“It was the same in my day,” sympathized the present manager’s predecessor,”It always seemed strange to me that trucks returning early on Mondays and Tuesdays couldn’t be used for little local runs, because the local deliveries had to be left until Friday..“

The third man nodded, and was thinking hard, struggling to recall the policy’s roots many years ago when he’d have been a junior in the dispatch department. After a pause, the third man smiled and then ventured a suggestion.

“I think I remember now,” he said, “It was the horses….. During the Second World War fuel rationing was introduced. So we mothballed the trucks and went back to using the horses. On Mondays the horses were well-rested after the weekend – hence the long deliveries. By Friday the horses so tired they could only handle the short local drops…“

Soon after the opening of the new canning line the company changed its delivery policy.

Why invest in thinking, being in the present, mindfulness and awareness?

Based on our perceptions and assumptions, we often misunderstand people, their intentions and the entire situation…a small illustration on how this plays out.

Picture10At an airport after a tiring business trip a lady’s return flight was delayed.

She went to the airport shop, bought a book, a coffee and a small packet containing five ginger nut biscuits.

The airport was crowded and she found a seat in the lounge, next to a stranger. After a few minutes’ reading she became absorbed in her book. She took a biscuit from the packet and began to drink her coffee. To her great surprise, the stranger in the next seat calmly took one of the biscuits and ate it. Stunned, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything, nor even to look at the stranger.

Nervously, she continued reading.

After a few minutes she slowly picked up and ate the third biscuit. Incredibly, the stranger took the fourth ginger nut and ate it, then to the woman’s amazement, he picked up the packet and offered her the last biscuit.

This being too much to tolerate, the lady angrily picked up her belongings, gave the stranger an indignant scowl and marched off to the boarding gate, where her flight was now ready. Flustered and enraged, she reached inside her bag for her boarding ticket, and found her unopened packet of ginger nuts…