Dogfooding: The Company & You 

Key Point: “Dogfooding” is a matter of integrity. You likely guessed that this refers to the adage many of us have heard: “Eat your own dog food.” The following outlines Facebook’s approach on the subject:

“Dogfooding” is a common practice of most IT companies for fixing the bugs in the application they create, but Facebook goes a step beyond by using the technique to retain employees, according to a report from The Economic Times. Facebook is using this technique to engage its young employees, with most of them being in their twenties and edgy and/or impatient… James Mitchell, head of the Hyderabad office (India) says, “Dogfooding is one of the best outlets that we can provide for young, enterprising intelligent minds. It binds them to the product and the company very strongly.” He says that Dogfooding is the standard through which voice of the employees can be heard. Facebook employees hack, test, and beat up all their products before (and after) they hit the market.

As per Facebook, Google and other leading companies, it’s strategically important for employees to “dogfood” its own products. And I believe this concept applies to us personally, too. One example is that I strongly believe we personally cannot stay in the high performance zone indefinitely. In full, high-performance, we eventually become fatigued and stressed so we need to intentionally REST. Leading firms like The Energy Group, who study this process deeply, understand and teach groups how to flow from high-performance to rest, and back again. They advise everything possible to avoid prolonged time in the fatigue/stress zone. If one stays too long in this stress zone, well, unintended bad things typically happen to us.

I’ve written about the importance of personal energy management a few times over the years. Most of my readers know my team and I have been leading an intense enterprise initiative since January. It’s been relentless; The thinking, planning and execution. It’s involved many 14-hour days, weekends, travel, and the excitement/anxiety associated with high risk/return movements. So… Dogfooding… Both my team and I need to internationally REST. Take some white space, and reenergize before we step on the gas again.

Character Moves:

  1. Dogfood your company products.
  2. Dogfood your beliefs and values. Both 1 and 2 are about integrity.

Dogfooding in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Millennials all want to move a million miles an hour towards our goals, and certainly don’t live with much patience. But, even NASCAR crews have to take a pit stop and “check their tires.” If you need kibbles and bits of advice, this is a good one to chow down on.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Collaboration: An Imperative in Modern Organizations 

Key Point: Collaboration is no longer a nicety to have. It is vital. Why? Content is exploding and moving so quickly that we simply need each other for the best innovative and sustainable results. It has always been more effective and gratifying to learn as a group (although sometimes frustrating). But today, it is an imperative. 

Effective collaboration needs more than great tools (like Google’s G Suite) and can’t be applied as the latest buzzword in management. It needs practice and a learning framework. This insight comes from  “The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them.”

The authors recommend the following ingredients to drive effective collaboration:

1. Joint Attention. 

“To collaborate, people need to pay attention to the same thing. Visual attention provides an index of what people are thinking about. If you are looking longingly at an ice-cold beer, it is a good bet that you are thinking about an ice-cold beer.” PS that’s why people working on the same doc together, seeing common info on a screen, and/or seeing each other by video, helps promote collaboration.

2. Listening. 

“Thoughts can be much more complex than an eye gaze. It also helps to hear what people are thinking. A common situation is that people refuse to listen to one another because they are too busy talking or they just discount other’s ideas.” In our organization we teach everyone the simple listening model: Connect, Understand, then… Act.

3. Sharing. 

“Sharing operates on two levels: Sharing common goals and sharing ideas. First, if people do not share some level of common goal, they will collaborate to cross-purposes. Second, if nobody shares ideas, collaboration will not go very far.”

4. Coordinating. 

“Have you ever had the experience of a group discussion, in which you just cannot seem to get your timing right? Either you always interrupt before the speaker is done, or someone else grabs the floor exactly when the other person finishes, before you jump in. Collaboration requires a great deal of turn-taking coordination.” 

5. Perspective Taking. 

“A primary reason for collaborating is that people bring different ideas to the table. The first four ingredients—joint attention, listening, sharing, and coordinating—support the exchange of information. The fifth ingredient is to understand why people are offering the information they do.” Some great thinkers believe the ability to change perspective involves a higher IQ.

The point of the five collaboration ingredients above, is that organizations need to be mindful about how each of the skills exist in their populations. Tools like the G Suite help because they naturally reinforce many of the points above. However, it is important to be intentional about the individual behaviors as well. All five are ideally present and alive. The more advanced we are in each, the higher the collaboration impact.

Character Moves: 

  1. How effective of a collaborator are you? Are you self aware of these five ingredients? What score out of 10 would you give yourself? 
  2. Are you proactive on the five ingredients? That’s a personal brand differentiator.  

Big five collaboration in The Triangle,

Lorne,

One Millennial View: Fellow Millennials: If you truly think that collaboration will negatively impact your individual goals, then you may seriously be in a rare, toxic atmosphere. You’re better off risking being a company player than a non-participant that has seen too many movies where a main character gets burned. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Ban All “Just A” Jobs!

Key Point: Every role and job in every organization is vital. There is no room for what I call “just a” type jobs. Of course, some jobs pay better than others for a variety of reasons. However, from a company’s “brand” perspective, every job counts big time.

Many of my readers know I work in the financial services sector. In our retail business, we have a frontline customer-facing position called a CSR (Customer Service Rep). When we first held Culture Days (our on-boarding event for new hires), as people introduced themselves, some might say, “I’m JUST a CSR.” As the exec sponsor and facilitator, I would politely intervene; asking the CSR to take out “just a.” Why? This position creates the brand impression for our company due to the number of customers they touch each day and every minute. It is an essential and vital role! You and I see this at other workplaces daily. For example: The coffee barista, bus driver, receptionist, call center person, flight attendant, waiter, etc. Regardless of what companies advertise as their brand, the real brand “smell test” starts when we interact with the frontline customer-facing folks. How could we afford to have anyone of these people see himself or herself in “just a” job?

I remember when I first became the Chief People Officer of the company in 2012, and attended one our prescheduled on-boarding sessions. I sat down at a random table for lunch, and asked people why they joined the company. The very first response came from a CSR and it was, “my mom wanted me out of the house.” “Holy cow” is the politest response that immediately came to mind. I had to squeeze hard to keep my inner voice under control. If this is how we recruit for our customer facing positions, we had huge work to do. And we did. As a result, we are at a much better and different spot today. Every role is vital, and direct customer-facing ones, even more so.

Character Moves:

  1. As a leader, it is your job to make sure every role is a vital one based on the impact to customers and other teammates. Ban “just a” jobs. Help every person in every role connect to the organization’s purpose.
  2. As a team member, you also have a responsibility to connect to your company’s purpose and to act as if you matter… Because you do. Think big. Be big. Do not “mail it in,” as the saying goes. 
  3. Have the highest standards of recruiting for every position including “dishwasher.” Do not let anyone in just to fill for “just a” job. Unless, of course, you do not care about your brand.

No “just a’s” in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I’m sure some Millennials might be told by peers or even society that their position is “just a” job. You can see how that’d be an easy mindset to trap yourself in, especially if you’re still searching for a position that fully utilizes your earned skillsets, or find yourself between jobs and needing to pay bills with work you’re overqualified for. But, I suppose that’s when you have to lend a nice middle-finger to anyone who tries to knock you down a peg, and believe that anything you do that (legally) keeps the lights on is something to find pride in.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Invest in the Permanent You

Key Point: Invest mightily in your permanent skills and strengths. Today, my team has lead 5,000+, engaged and committed team members to the beginning of something we call “Work Reimagined.” In some ways it feels like we all walked into an Olympic stadium, after months of training, and collectively crowded up to the starting line of the marathon, waiting for the gun. We are all working with a completely new tool set – Google’s G-Suite. We promised team members that they would become richer for the experience, and I believe that. Of course, these G Suite tools will continually evolve and learning how to best use them will require constant learning. However, my last comment notwithstanding, I believe we will deliver on our promise. Why? Because the G Suite advances what I believe are the really “hard skills,” and the ones most irreplaceable, regardless of changes in the technology, economy or industry. 

In a recent New York Times article, LinkedIn identified a number of currently in-demand skills. (And yes, if you have content knowledge in these areas, you are in a very hot hiring market). Employers want and really need the following skills now: 

New “HARD [temporary] SKILLS:

Cloud Computing Expertise.

Data Mining and Statistical Analysis.

Smartphone App Development.

Data Storage Engineering and Management.

User Interface Design.

Network Security Expertise.

Machine Learning/Development.

Robotics.”

However, companies are realizing that they can train (as well as recruit) for these new “hard” (temporary) skills, so they are also focusing on hiring for so-called “soft” (permanent, meta skills). I believe these are the ACTUAL “hard” skills. The following IBM model is a micro-example: A company searches for people with great soft/permanent skills, and trains them to learn the so called “hard skills:”

“In the last two years, nearly a third of IBM’s new hires in Rocket Center (makes fighter plane composites applying cloud computing, cyber security, application development) and in a few other locations, have not had four-year college degrees. IBM has jointly developed curriculums with the local community college, as well as one-year and two-year courses aligned with the company’s hiring needs…”

The really “hard” soft skills are difficult to train for. Why? Learning each one is very individual and time consuming. As well, these skills or attributes are on a continuum. One can continuously invest and get better at applying them over time. If one has a well-developed capability on these individually and as a connected system, it becomes a great permanent investment.

The really “hard” “SOFT [permanent] SKILLS:

Communication [connect/understand/act].

Curiosity.

Adaptability.

Teamwork/Collaboration.

Empathy/Compassion.

Energy Management.

Open-Mindedness/Perspective.

Inventiveness.

Self-Accountability/Respect/Abundance.”

So, back to the G Suite… Learning how to embrace the G Tools as a system involves investing in each of the really hard, soft and permanent skills noted above. While we fully connect and apply the entire tool set, we all will sharpen each of our soft skills and hence make each of us more valuable. Can I guarantee that? No. But I genuinely believe the new “soft skills” are truly the ones to continuously invest in. If you can adapt and change to keen, new, (albeit temporary) content/technical skills AND build on top of growing your soft permanent skills, well, you’re golden. 

Character Moves: 

1. Continuously invest in the “hard/soft” skills above, and you will adapt and always be valuable regardless of the exponential change coming our way. 

“Hard” Soft skills in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: When I think about it, if I’ve ever heard my friends complain about co-workers or colleagues, it’s not the “hard” skills that anyone is lacking… It’s the inability to mesh on a “soft” skill level that makes work become a miserable destination versus somewhere they love showing up and excelling at. It seems you can be hired for your “hard” skills, but you’ll become very hard to replace thanks to excellent “soft” skills.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
Read more about Lorne Rubis

Listen to Lorne's latest podcasts

Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

Breathe fire: Leading and inspiring ourselves

Asking for feedback: The why

Taking on a new role: Lorne's journey

Lessons from Dot: Integrating technology into workplace culture

 

The Character Triangle Companion

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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

Free Resources

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