ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's the question?

Tonight I had fun with my Quality and Performance Excellence class. I gave them some exercises to do and had to laugh when they spent time doing far more than the question I posed. This happened with all 15 people in two different exercises.

I reminded them that in all things you need to listen to the question and answer thequestion being asked. This is also the advice I gave when coaching and training people to testify in court.

Whether testifying, answering teat questions, or being a consultant - listen to the question and answer what the other person needs to know. Don't feel as though you have to educate them and tell them everything you ever knew about the subject.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Time Matters

Maybe it's because I grew up in New York City where time was critical and people were able to squeeze in many appointments in one day - but whatever the reason, I think time is important - and the commitment to meet someone at a certain time is very important.

To be late except in unusual circumstances, is a way of insulting the person you are planning to meet. It is as though whatever else you were doing is more important than them. It's OK, you think, for them to be cooling their heels while waiting for you.

It's down right rude. It indicates poor planning, or over-committing.

Years ago I worked with a woman who was 20 minutes late every day. Her excuse never varied: "There was a lot of traffic on Saratoga Ave."

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Effective Time Management

The other night I heard someone parrot the old "only handle a piece of paper once" thinking she was talking about being efficient. Wrong! If you handle each thimg as it comes up or in - you are wasting time, because you could be clustering and doing a bunch of related tasks at once - such as paying bills. Furthermore, by handling each piece of paper only once, you are not prioritizing and you are allowing someone or something else to control your time.

So, my suggestion: Create boxes, baskets, folders and sort your material into them. Create a system for clustering - such as paying bills every other week, or filing when you are brain dead and can't do something more creative. Create a priority list and a code so that you know what's important to do - and when it needs to be finished.

Cluster and prioritize.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Infrastructure - Necessary, but not sexy

So, transit is sexy. Transportation needs such as roads, repair of potholes, etc., is not sexy. Water and water waste are not sexy. Energy is only sexy to the extent that we create windmills and fear nuclear energy.

The question is: How do we get citizens to recognize the importance of maintenance over the latest greatest - such as light rail or high speed rail. I say this, fully aware that one of the things I love about NY and DC is public transportation.

I'm not against. I'd be happy if we had a really effective transit system - but we don't and in the mean time our potholes are growing to be ponds, and our roads are even more congested, slowing every one down.

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Infrastructure - Water & Water Waste

Since I chair the Infrastructure Committee for the Silicon Valley (San Jose) Chamber of Commerce, I am involved in areas about which I previously knew nothing. Water is one of those areas. Did you know that we are restricting water from the Delta because the extreme environmentalists are saving smelt. That would be OK, if the smelt were indiginous to the area - they are not, and/or used to feed other fish. However, millions (maybe billions) of dollars are spent to save them, put them on big water trucks where millions of them die, and transport them to a pond, where they are not part of the delta ecology any more. AND, the farmers are being starved out.

Today, we visited the Water Treatment Plant - how incredibly impressive their process and goals. They have a practical and sensible approach to re-utilizing energy, water, and waste by products. They are planning for the future and taking the growth of the community as well as the interests of the community into account when making their plans. The facility is impressive. The management and staff even more impressive.

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Management's Responsibility

One of the key responsibilities of anyone in management - whether business owner, employee, or volunteer - is to delegate effectively. Effective delegation is quite different from either micro-managing (too tight control) or abrogating responsibility, which now has the buzz-word empowerment.

Effectie delegation requires an understanding ofthe delegatee's skills and understanding, coupled with management's responsibility for clearing outlining parameters and expectations. Maybe, like all soft skills, it is a combination of science and art.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Managing People requires Interpersonal skills