Complex versus Complicated

Business is often, by its very nature, complex. TransForm has clients that have seemingly endless moving parts, which operate 24/7 in every time zone in the world, and whose employees and vendors come from every corner of the world. The challenge for all of them is that, despite complexity, the endeavor to continuously improve is essential if thriving versus just surviving is the ultimate goal.

This is where making a distinction between complex and complicated is imperative. Whilst complexity for a business might be intrinsic, complications are the outcomes of people developing policies, processes and procedures in isolation. The needs being met are narrowly focused and primarily inward looking.

In other words, jumping through hoops, red tape, or whatever other metaphor is used to describe the stumbling blocks for getting things done, is most often the result of “rules” being established that are self-serving and disconnected from what the company is ultimately endeavoring to achieve – satisfied customers and sustained growth.

It is, in fact, an indictment of the failure to be expansive and inclusive in strategic and tactical thinking. One of TransForm’s key partners, Sue Stanek, describes her relationships with colleagues as: “You make my life really easy,” or “You make my life really difficult.” We hear that sentiment expressed between departments and divisions of organizations consistently.

So here’s the “rub.” Whilst it is not always possible to make life really easy for our colleagues, making life easier, or as less complicated as we can, needs to be the intention of each and every leader and employee. If our goal is to create a seamless experience for the customer, we must ensure we are doing all that we can to build a similar experience internally.

To begin moving layers of complication from what is already complex, groups and individuals first need to be educated or reminded that they all play on the same team. Everyone has a purpose. Each has roles. Ultimately, all team members have the responsibility to serve each other in a way that ensures the goals of the organization are achieved.

So where do you start? Here are five ideas:

  1.  Ensure all employees understand, and are aligned behind, the purpose of your business – creating and keeping customers.
  2.  Cast aside job descriptions. Focus on purpose – what contribution can each individual make that will most impact team and organizational success?
  3.  Connect with colleagues in other departments. Ask: What gets in the way of performing at your best? How may we influence those challenges for the better?
  4.  Discuss the feedback and be courageous in examining every process, policy and procedure. (Some, of course, will serve an important purpose.)
  5.  Install this question in every meeting: How is what we are about to do serving the success of our colleagues and company?

“Life is at its very best when it’s shaken and stirred.” ~F. Paul Facult

Download Even Eagles Need A Push and The Eagle’s Secret at Audible.com and let David McNally help you soar to new heights of achievement.

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Motivation is about Feelings

At TransForm we are often asked for the “secret” to motivation. How do leaders inspire vast numbers of people to passionately embrace what their company stands for and be committed ambassadors of the brand?

Do not look for the answer in an appeal to the mind. It is found in the hearts and souls of people.

Commitment is a function of belief. Two characteristics stand out when observing employees who represent their company’s brand at the highest levels:

a) They have total belief in their products or service.
b) They have total belief in their company.

So where does this belief come from? Employees believe in their company when they know – indisputably – that their company believes in them. How do they know that their company believes in them?

Through the leaders of the company building a culture that encourages, empowers, rewards and recognizes the contribution of each and every individual. Simple isn’t it? Yes, but not easy!

For this to happen, leaders have to put a high value on creating such a culture. That requires leaders understanding and applying their primary purpose as leader: to engage others in committing their energies and expertise to achieve the shared mission and goals of the organization.

People want to do good work and many want to do great work. People love to be on a team and love to be on a winning team. People place a high value on contributing value and an equivalent value on being recognized for that contribution. People want to look forward to coming to work and leaders feel the same way.

There is, therefore, no secret to motivation. It is about the engagement of the human spirit – the ability to capture the aspirations of the individual and provide a vehicle and environment for the fulfillment of those aspirations.

Peter Rena eloquently summed up these thoughts when he said: “Corporations are social organizations, the theater in which people realize, or fail to realize, purposeful and productive lives.

Download Even Eagles Need A Push and The Eagle’s Secret at Audible.com and let David McNally help you soar to new heights of achievement.

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Are we there yet?

Last weekend, my 3 year old daughter and I went on lots of fun excursions.  Farmer’s market, various playgrounds, Target….and she kept asking me, “Are we there yet?” And I would say, “We are here, soon we will be there!”  As I prepared for my week on Monday morning, I reflected on that conversation and realized how powerful it was.

Are we there yet?

Nope, we are here.

And look at all that is happening here!

We were with a client a week ago and they have been tasked with an incredibly exciting but complex task ahead of them.  A task that involves multiple “phases” or “there’s”.  The question, “How are we going to do this?” kept coming up.  It was a question with the end “there” in mind.  I thought about my conversation with my daughter and I wrote to our client and assured them they will get there.  And there is much fun and learning here, in this planning place they are in.

In the summertime especially, I find myself thinking about the weekend all week long. (Probably because I live in Minnesota and it’s a short window.) Even if we have nothing planned, I just love to be in my backyard playing with my daughter, or hanging with husband.  And I was reminded this week that everyday can actually be an extension of that experience if I am aware of being here.  It is Thursday and yes I will be working, but I get to see some really great people today and then this evening, I get to hang out with my daughter and my husband in my backyard.  Cool!

Are we there yet?

Nope we are here.

Let’s enjoy here!

 

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A Story Within The Story

I confess to being a sucker for an inspiring story. There is nothing like being lifted out of the negative noise of the daily news and being made aware that the world is full of people who choose to rise above their circumstances and reach for the stars.

One such example I discovered in an article by Billy Witz in the New York Times. It immediately caught my attention as the person involved is from the land in which I grew up – Australia. Now, however, he is being celebrated as an invaluable member of the newly crowned NBA Champions – the San Antonio Spurs. Why was this person so newsworthy? He is the first indigenous Australian to play in an NBA final.

Patty Mills has an aboriginal mother, who was born in South Australia, and a father who is a Torres Strait Islander which is situated on the northern tip of Australia. Both parents grew up suffering significant indignities for no other reason than for being born a ‘different’ color.

Billy Witz writes: “Yvonne Mills, Patty’s mother, is a member of the Stolen Generations. That term refers to the indigenous children who were removed from their families and placed with white families as part of a government and church-sanctioned program.” The goal of the program was to “civilize” the aboriginal population.

Benny Mills, Patty’s father, was destined to be a pearl diver until his own father intervened and ensured he received an education that left him with broader choices. Both parents now work for the Australian Federal Government on initiatives to raise the standards of living and provide more opportunities for the indigenous population.

But prejudice can leave deep wounds that are not easily healed. Yvonne Mills states, “Aboriginal people have this feeling of shame, of being unequal. They’ve carried this shame all these years and you can understand why.”

Patty Mills, however, was to be the beneficiary of his parent’s experience. They would make sure that he was not a victim of insecurity. Throughout Patty’s young life he went to good schools and participated fully in many different sports. His abilities gained him a spot in the prestigious Australian Institute for Sport. Ironically, his background and color still made him an anomaly.

Whilst attitudes were changing, Patty still had to deal with racism. But his parents had the answer. Let your game do the talking and if it is an adult doing the taunting we’ll handle it. “We had to get him to understand that he was special,” said Yvonne.

Besides his parents, young Patty was inspired by those who had gone before him. One such person was Cathy Freeman, an aboriginal sprinter, who symbolized the progress being made in Australia by being chosen to light the flame at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. It didn’t hurt the aboriginal cause and their sense of pride and self-esteem that Cathy also won the gold medal in the 400 meters.

“That moment was – I get shivers just thinking about it,” says Patty. “Everyone in Australia was clued in during that race seeing her cross the line and how she handled herself not only on the track, but before and after, because she had so much pressure.” Witz suggests that Mills would like to serve as a similar inspiration.

So now, wearing an NBA Championship ring, Mills has accomplished a goal inconceivable for most of us and improbable for a person with his background. And, at the moment of writing this blog, the victory is so new that he is hopefully not only savoring this wonderful experience but, perhaps, also reflecting on the journey that got him to this moment in time.

But what’s next? It appears that Mills does understand the legacy of his parent’s example and what his accomplishments can mean to those who need to know that there is hope and that they too are “special.”

A team mate of Mills, Aron Baynes, also an Australian provides insight: “Patty embraces being a role model. A lot of indigenous youth are fighting to get through, so if they can have somebody they can look up to, that’s a great thing.”

So let us applaud not only Patty Mills for his considerable achievement, but also his parents and all those magnificent people who inspire us to soar above our own limitations to live a life of great expectations.

Would you benefit from daily doses of inspiration? Would you like to experience a powerful sense of purpose and the motivation to achieve your goals?

Download Even Eagles Need A Push and The Eagle’s Secret at Audible.com and let David McNally help you soar to new heights of achievement.

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Accomplished Women — Interesting Lives

As the father of four daughters I have a significant investment in ensuring they feel fully empowered to fulfill their dreams and goals. I confess to being strongly influenced in this endeavor by the fact that for all of my life I have been surrounded by confident women whose drive, capabilities and competence could not be denied. The most compelling example is my own mother who was a flight mechanic in the Royal Air Force during WWII working on Spitfires. Jessie was feisty, knew her stuff and would never let any “flyboy pilot” tell her when a plane was or was not ready for duty.

I give this background because I recently experienced a remarkable weekend where I attended the celebration of the 125th anniversary of private all-girl school, pre K through 12, called –The Baldwin School. My partner, Cheryl, is a former student and was returning for a re-union with her classmates. Baldwin is located in Bryn Maw near Philadelphia.

Although it is true that the majority of students come from privileged backgrounds, I prefer not to debate those obvious advantages but rather share the story of an environment where women are left with no doubt as to their ability to go as far as they want in this world. It is important to note that 25% of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and are on scholarships. The diversity in the student body is also significant.

Amongst the most enjoyable experiences of the weekend was an invitation to attend a class of current students in action. We chose a drama class in which several well-known plays were being discussed by a group of seniors. Rather than observe from the back of the room, the teacher sat us with the students so we could participate in the dialog. The rigor and depth of conversation left us trying to remember whether we were as confident at that age.

There is no greater gift and outcome from the formative years of our education than to feel confident in our abilities and the possibilities for our lives. With confidence we are willing to take the risks to live the lives we imagine for ourselves. With confidence we tackle life’s challenges with the belief that we can handle them.

In the many conversations that transpired with past graduates, it was clear that not everyone had a totally positive high school experience. However, it was also clear that the brand promise: Accomplished Women – Interesting Lives, was being delivered successfully over and over again. Whether the accomplishments had gained public notoriety or not, and many had, each woman agreed that they graduated knowing that there was a special place in the world for each of them and the only barrier to an “interesting life” was themselves.

An awards ceremony honoring three former students also made a deep impression as it demonstrated the value placed on encouraging students to make a difference in the world. One honoree is a professor at the University of Cambridge and is one of the world’s leading experts on molecular biology. Another started a manufacturing company in Nevada serving the aerospace industry and has created over 400 well-paying jobs. The third is a lawyer working in The Innocence Project whose focus is proving the innocence of prisoners unjustly convicted for crimes they did not commit.

My own daughters have experienced both private and public education. Fortunately each of the institutions that shaped them set high standards. The word education, however, comes from the Latin “educare” meaning to “draw out.” The ultimate purpose of education, therefore, is to draw out our gifts, talents and abilities and direct us to a path where we have the best chance to live a productive and rewarding life.

The weekend at Baldwin reminded me of what a powerful purpose that is!

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Google Has A Breakthrough

One of the fascinating aspects of growing older is to witness that which has been established for eons announced as an epiphany for an individual or organization. Such was my experience as I read an article about Google in the Harvard Business Review.

Authored by David Garvin, it is entitled: How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management. Garvin shares how over the history of Google, the company has distrusted the impact and necessity of traditional management. “Managers were perceived as more destructive than beneficial.” But, as the company grew rapidly, it was soon realized that good managers made a significant contribution to the success of the company.

Google, however, is data driven and if change or processes are to be implemented, logic and data rule. So to convince the thousands of skeptical engineers that management was not just a distraction from their main work, “Google launched Project Oxygen, a multiyear research initiative. It has since grown into a comprehensive program that measures key management behaviors and cultivates them through communication and training.”

Now it is not my intention to re-invent Mr. Garvin’s article which is an excellent and worthwhile read (HBR-December 2013.) My goal is to bring you the result of the Google research which is identified as: “What Google’s Best Managers Do.” I hope, however, you will understand my sense of intrigue for the list contains best practices championed by management guru, the late Peter Drucker, who started studying and writing about successful companies long before most of the Google engineers were even born.

But, perhaps now, Google has proven unquestionably that going from good to great starts with what we at TransForm help companies do every day – lead and grow people.

According to Google a good manager:
1) Is a good coach

2) Empowers the team and does not micromanage

3) Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being

4) Is productive and results oriented

5) Is a good communicator – listens and shares information

6) Helps with career development

7) Has a clear vision and strategy for the team

8) Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team

As Garvin begins to summarize the effect of Google’s data driven approach to management he says: “Project Oxygen has accomplished what it set out to do….Widespread adoption has had a significant impact on how employees perceive life at Google – particularly on how they rate the degree of collaboration, the transparency of performance evaluations, and their groups’ commitment to innovation and risk taking.”

I am reminded of the Peter Allen song: Everything old is new again.

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The Perfect Brand Ambassador

We have all had experiences when the level of service received by an organization is exceptional. That service is always delivered by exceptional people – people who understand that empathy, understanding and the desire to be of service are the fundamental keys to creating and keeping clients or customers.

For the past 23 years I have had the privilege to have such a person on the TransForm team. It is rare when clients fail to mention how wonderful it is to interact with this person. The compliments are effusive in regards to her responsiveness, efficiency, attention to detail, follow up and can do attitude. If strong brands are created by consistently positive impressions, this person has played a significant role in building both the David McNally and TransForm brands.

But now she is leaving. In reality – retiring. Many of you know who I am talking about:

Jo Reinhart.

Jo grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota. Her German background instilled in Jo an incredible work ethic. She is conscientious to a fault with TransForm having been a primary beneficiary. Jo’s husband’s name is David and when we started working together my wife, Jo, was alive and so within a small business there were two David and Jo’s. As my wife worked part time, Jo Reinhart was actually her “boss” which, ironically, Jo McNally was quite happy about.

Being of similar ages we have watched each other raise our children and are now witnessing our children raise their children. We have shared anxieties, worries, triumphs, celebrations and grief. There have been times of stress and tension but these have been exceeded by lots of laughs and the belief that we are involved in important work. Jo has always said that TransForm has provided her life with a strong sense of purpose.

In so many ways we have been a good team in that we each brought different strengths to the relationship. Jo is the detailed, follow thru person and I am the creative, often too many ideas type. Jo has been infinitely patient with me over the years and I have learned to respect her need to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Most importantly, the trust level between us is of the highest level and trust is the foundation of all great relationships.

Jo has decided that a new adventure now awaits her. The one thing that is clear, however, is that she will continue to make a positive difference in the world. It is who she is. I am not saying goodbye to Jo because we are now friends who care about each other and our families. But I do want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her dedication and commitment and for making such a positive contribution to my life.

PS: If you know Jo, reach out and wish her well by emailing: jo.reinhart@transformcorp.com

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BEING CREAGOUS
What’s your Word for 2014?

A few years ago a fellow team member came up with her own word to describe what was needed during a time of great change and transformation in her personal and professional life. She combined the attributes of being both creative and courageous to formulate – creageous.

It was a signal to her and others that she was not about business as usual. To fulfill her purpose in life and achieve her vision, she recognized from the onset that it would take a good dose of creativity and courage to make it happen.

I’m happy to report that, in fact, living “creagously” made a considerable difference as she moved through her transformation to where she is now thriving. What it points out to me is that whatever group we work with, live with or align with, they need our commitment, our personal best, the unique style we bring and the results of our contribution.

It has now become tradition each New Year to pick our word. My word for 2014 is Classic. I love cars; I was born in 1957 an iconic year for design and innovation within an automotive industry that created a stream of classic cars. This year I will turn 57 as well so what could my one word be but classic?

What that means to me is to contribute my creativity, skill and ambition to create a classic year filled with new ideas, exciting experiences and breathtaking results that will be truly memorable for years to come.

As you continue to create this year consider what your word might be and how it may just transform your life by igniting your passion and encouraging both yourself and others.

Want more creagousness in your life? Do you want to thrive in 2014? Download David McNally’s two books at Audible.com and let David coach you to new heights of achievement.

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Stop Doing – Start Creating

The following question was asked in a survey of senior citizens: “If you had your life to live over again, what would you do differently?” The dominant theme from all of the answers was: “I would take more time to think about my life, to consider the choices and decisions I was making and reflect on whether they were leading to where I wanted to go in life.”

There is a powerful lesson for both individuals and organizations in the collective wisdom of those who a humorist described as the “chronologically gifted.”

Our clients love “doing.” They are responsible and hard working people. There seems to be almost a guilt complex, however, attached to taking time to think about the purpose or end game of the doing. They tell us that just thinking seems so unproductive when there are things to be fixed and fires to be put out. “What do we need to think about? Let’s just get on with the job!”

At the same time we are told people are stressed out, they have no personal lives, they lack clarity around what all this effort is leading to, and there is a strong sense that there must be a better way. And there is! To have our daily lives gobbled up by fixing problems and putting out fires is the domain of surviving – each day is a struggle and repeating it again the next day is the grand prize.

When an organization wishes to transform itself, whether because of poor performance or the desire to go from being a good company to a great one, there is no more powerful an exercise than thinking about and answering the following questions:
What do we want to create?
What do we want to look like twelve months from now?
What will it feel like to work here?
What do we want our customers to think of us?
What do we want our competitors to think of us?

The answers to these questions define a clear direction or vision for the organization. The purpose of a vision, one that is compelling and inspiring, is to shift the orientation of the organization and those who work in it from doing to “creating.”

Nothing changes, however, without commitment. Is each and every leader willing to commit to the vision? A true commitment is a heartfelt promise to follow through despite the obstacles. Commitment is the fuel that propels energy, creativity and contribution. Leaders and employees are inspired as there is no question as to what they are working toward – the end game is clear.

But, in the game of life, here’s what matters: Being committed to creating a great company, where people are determined to be the best, where continuous innovation is as natural as breathing, and where people are aligned behind a common purpose – that is the domain of thriving.

Looking for motivation for the new year?  Check out the audiobooks on Audible.com & iTunes, Even Eagles Need a Push and The Eagle’s Secret!

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Let’s Thrive in 2014!

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