leadership elastic …now that’s fantastic!

Leadership Elastic …Now that’s Fantastic!

I love this article by WordPress blogger, LeadershipFreak:

Stretched, Not Crushed

Every time things start going wrong we look to the leader for solutions. Beware! The pressure to provide solutions crushes leaders. When solutions come from the top, organizations crumble from the bottom.

A C-level leader recently said, “When I wake up stressed out over problems in the night, I know I’ve forgotten it’s about the team. Things go better when I include others.”

Stretching others: Leaders who can’t ask people to do hard things can’t get hard things done. Meaningful contributions require deep commitment and effort. Weak leaders assume others can’t or won’t step up. They rule out before they ask.

Ruling out: That’s too hard for them. Making it easy prevents people from stepping up. Give people the opportunity to do hard things. I’m not suggesting you intentionally make things hard for others.

  1. They already contribute so much. Translation, they can’t make meaningful contribution in new areas.
  2. They wouldn’t be interested.
  3. They’re too valuable where they are. If anyone says that to you, update your resume’.

The big ask: The big ask is about values before programs. Programs, methods, and techniques are small things when compared with the power of shared values. Align shared values before making the big ask.

It’s the team:

Carrying the load alone crushes;
carrying the load together stretches.

Shared values are magnetic; they pull people together. Success is always about people before it’s about programs and initiatives. People committed to shared values make deep commitments to each other. Connections sustain and energize when things get hard. Blame separates and defeats.

How do you ask others to do hard things?

What should be in place before you ask for deep commitments?

via Stretched not Crushed, by LeadershipFreak

There’s magic all around us

Would You Stop to Listen?

A man sat at a metro station in Washington, DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Credits: Joshua Bell experimented for Gene Weingarten’s story in The Washington Post: http://wpo.st/-vP (Video by John W. Poole)

Your Turn

_____________________________

How might you “stop and listen” differently in your world today?

Focus on the Next Right Thing

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time…

In his Harvard Business Review blog post, Tony Schwartz shares The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time, asking: 

Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?

It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.

What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It’s like an itch we can’t resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.

Multitasking saps individuals and organizations of effectiveness AND energy. And it is a vicious cycle, tied up with task prioritization, deadlines, work overload, work-life balance, and many other familiar topics around human performance. Doing one thing at a time can be the secret both to personal effectiveness and successful project management.

What’s Wrong with Multi-Tasking?

The downfall of multi-tasking comes from task switching. I am not particularly interested in aspects of walking and chewing gum, or driving while talking on the phone. Multitasking in the business context means working on multiple tasks “at once.” Or as we know, having a big pile of work and being forced to SWITCH between them without ever getting them done. Throw on top of it the problem of interruptions and too-many-meetings, and you get a great ball of nothing-gets-done.

So How Do I Get This Magic Going?

Here are three behaviors Schwartz says will help you set your boundaries:

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you’ll be. When you’re done, take at least a few minutes to renew.

2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don’t, you’ll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that’s relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.

3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off, you’re truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

According to Schwartz,

A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you’re engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you’re renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.

Here’s to living in black and white…and may the force of singular focus be with you!

Celebrate the spaces between

Let your ideas breathe…

How Can You Harness the Power of White Space?

Objects in a composition need to breathe. White space offers an airy canvas stage on which the parts of your design can freely dance. Just ask Mark Boulton, graphic designer and writer from the UK. Here’s my favorite part about Mark’s view on white space:

“Whitespace is often used to create a balanced, harmonious layout. One that just “feels” right. It can also take the reader on a journey through the design in the same way a photographer leaves “looking room” in a portrait shot by positioning the subject off the center of the frame and having them looking into the remaining space.”

Check out this slide show by Brand Autopsy to see some compelling use of white space.

Now, how can you use white space in your next design, web page, slide deck or thank you note to make a bold statement?

Looking forward to [the spaces between] your ideas,

 

Susan Hendrich

Communicating data with Infographics

Infographics: Pictures That Tell A Story…

What is an Infographic?

The term Infographic is a portmanteau of two terms, “Information” and “Graphics,” and describes the visual representation of data. Infographics help communicate complex information in a digestible manner, as they creatively present data in an understandable and engaging format.

from www.DesignModo.comAs web users, with our diminishing attention spans, we’re inexorably drawn to these shiny, brightly colored messages with small, relevant, clearly-displayed nuggets of information. They’re straight to the point, usually factually interesting and often give you a wake-up call as to what those statistics really mean.  Here are some examples to fire up your i-graph engines…

Example: An Infographic that’s all about YOU

Intel’s “What About Me?”

Intel’s What About Me? is an automatic infographic generator that connects to your own Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts to create a profile infographic about you.

Social media users know that discovery is half the fun. With What about Me? you can capture a snapshot of your social media life and create your own colorful image, full of clues and facts about one of the most fascinating subjects in the world — YOU!

The chipmaker’s new “What About Me?” app culls info from your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube profiles to crank out a data visualization of your composite social media profile.

For instance, there’s a graphic that looks like a flower that tracks your interests based on what you tweet and write status updates about. There’s also a record of your most popular post ever and your most popular pic, your ratio of self-created updates vs. found information and “likes.”

More great Infographic examples

Free Online Tools For Creating Infographics

  • Hohli

    Hohli is an intuitive, simple online chart maker. It’s incredibly easy to pick your chart type, add some data, vary the sizes and colors and see the finished chart.

    information graphics

    Creately

    Creately lets you design easy-to-make diagrams and flow charts. You can choose from a number of purpose-designed diagram types and quickly add your data to make your own chart. The end result looks very professional.

    information graphics

    New York Times

    New York Times’ Visualization Lab lets you use statistics from recent NYTimes articles to create visualizations in various formats. You can also see other people’s visualizations and see how other people choose to display the same data.

    data graphics

    Many Eyes

    Many Eyes lets you upload your own data or use data already stored on the site. The visualizations themselves are well-designed and very professional-looking. This is definitely the easiest way to use your own data for online visualizations.

    data graphics

    Google Public Data

    Google Public Data lets you easily take public data and transform it into an infographic of your choice. These beautiful, colorful graphics simplify and communicate the data perfectly.

    data graphics

    Wordle

    You may have seen my earlier post on Wordle, which lets you create word visualizations using text you enter. There are plenty of interesting designs to choose from. Enter whole books, short passages or see what other people have used. In this example, we can see the US constitution visualised.

    Free Software For Creating Infographics

    Tableau

    Tableau is a free Windows-only software for creating visualizations. As you can see, these impressive graphs are colorful and quite unique.

Great tutorials on infographic creation: