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Archive for February, 2011

Knowledge is not power – it's a weakness!

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

How many of us have heard that again and again? That knowledge is power. There is nothing wrong with knowledge…accumulating knowledge, surrounding yourself with knowledge, being around knowledgeable people or accumulating degrees etc…

Personally, I believe real value/power comes when that knowledge is put to work. These days, there is not much I cannot find on google, on a online book store or from other experts. Literally, knowledge is at my finger-tips! This is unlike when I was growing up in Africa. The biggest library I had access to was in my high-school with maybe ten book case of books, if that much. These days, there are an over-abundance of knowledge and knowledgeable people.

Knowledge should lead to execution!

So why do I consider knowledge as a weakness? Because those that accumulate knowledge for knowledge sakes in in the wrong century…trying to be a repository of info or a walking dictionary/encyclopedia is such a waste of time and storage space. More often than not, people go to seminars, workshops, and accumulate more knowledge instead of focusing on doing and executing what they already know.

How many people do you know need to lose weight? Ask them whether they know what they need to do, how to do it and compare that number to those that are in the same predicament and actually “do” it.

Maybe that is why I like the Nike slogan…”Just do it!”

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Why I prefer to be a "clock builder" and not a "time teller"

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Consultants have this rap about them…that when asked what time it is, they simply ask you back for your watch and tell you the time. Well, in an overly simplified world, yes, that is done everyday and sometimes, it’s the only way.

Why you ask? Well, after working with well over 100 companies by now and experiencing what managers, business owners, founders do…they have an idea what they want and they want to make sure they are not making a mistake. It could be that there is simply an overload of information so no decisions are made. The consultant comes in and assist with a few things. One, find out what they want to achieve, what the problems/pain really is and what they have tried and what works and what doesn’t and to offer options. The key most times is not what they know or not know…the secret is what they are WILLING to do.

If they are not willing, it doesn’t matter how cool the idea is or how practical it is, it will not be embraced. However, once they commit to moving positively, a consultant can help identify bottlenecks, implement a “system”, tweak it, and help them avoid the potential problems may be around the corner. This is where experience helps a lot and cannot be found in a book. I believe 30% of what I do as a consultant is canned – and right out of a book, the other 30% is what the client knows and want to do, the rest of the 40% is my experience and knowledge.

Depending on the type of consulting, I prefer not to tell clients what to do. Why? Because to be honest, they can find that in a book and it is much better for me to just point them to it. Most time, I find more satisfaction and the client will get more achieved if I walk with them to the destination, instead of pointing the way…

So if a client wants me to tell them the time and that is “all” they want, I will. Most time, they need more and I prefer to be the clock builder. I want to get my hands dirty and also see things moving and working like they should. Although it doesn’t always go 100% the way I would like to see it, getting close enough is good enough for me.

Perhaps this desire to be the clock builder and not simple a time-teller is because I have more energy than I know what to do with.

Egyptian Crisis could have been averted with some basic negotiation knowledge.

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

About a week or so ago, I was asked by Lynda Foster of Synergy Sessions to give a workshop on negotiations. The title of the workshop was called “Profitable Communications”. That could easily have been a month long workshop but I had only 2 hours and I had to make sure the participants had some solid take-away, something they could put to use right away.

The following are a couple of points I focused on. These are basic in business and leadership communications and I believe they are applicable even in running a country:

1. Have a valid mission and purpose statement – It is critical to go into a negotiation with a mission and purpose statement. This should be in alignment with the corporate mission and purpose. If Mubarak was in touch with his people, or in this case, if he had a valid mission and purpose statement, the situation would not have descended into this state of crisis. The leaders are simply disconnected with the people…they have an invalid mission and purpose, at least not one that addresses the other party’s needs/wants. The mission and purpose of the leaders are NOT in alignment with the people’s. I would love to address the way the people went about protesting and attempting to remove Mubarak from power but it would take too long. They also have an invalid M&P and have no strategic plan – resulting in chaos! Simply removing Mubarak does not solve the real problem for them…
2. Ask for, invite and be ready to hear “No”. It is a fundamental human right. It is a matter of respect. The “No” invites the next step of dialog (contrary to what most belief, it is not the end of a negotiation, simply the beginning) which is…”Why?”There is no better way to start a fight than to remove or seemingly remove the other party’s right to say no. This includes being dismissive, shutting the other party down, being dominant etc. This is what the Egyptian government is trying to do – isolate, command and control (remove cell phone and internet services…). Whenever possible, I encourage leaders to invite and listen for “no” from their followers. It fosters dialog, displays respect and results in collaboration and coordination.

I covered many other techniques used in effective negotiations but I wanted participants to have something they could work on. Within days of that workshop, I got an email from a participant that said she was able to get what she wanted in a negotiation by employing just the few principles I taught. That was quite rewarding.

Categories: Uncategorized

Egyptian Crisis could have been averted with some basic negotiation knowledge.

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

About a week or so ago, I was asked by Lynda Foster of Synergy Sessions to give a workshop on negotiations. The title of the workshop was called “Profitable Communications”. That could easily have been a month long workshop but I had only 2 hours and I had to make sure the participants had some solid take-away, something they could put to use right away.

The following are a couple of points I focused on. These are basic in business and leadership communications and I believe they are applicable even in running a country:

1. Have a valid mission and purpose statement – It is critical to go into a negotiation with a mission and purpose statement. This should be in alignment with the corporate mission and purpose. If Mubarak was in touch with his people, or in this case, if he had a valid mission and purpose statement, the situation would not have descended into this state of crisis. The leaders are simply disconnected with the people…they have an invalid mission and purpose, at least not one that addresses the other party’s needs/wants. The mission and purpose of the leaders are NOT in alignment with the people’s. I would love to address the way the people went about protesting and attempting to remove Mubarak from power but it would take too long. They also have an invalid M&P and have no strategic plan – resulting in chaos! Simply removing Mubarak does not solve the real problem for them…
2. Ask for, invite and be ready to hear “No”. It is a fundamental human right. It is a matter of respect. The “No” invites the next step of dialog (contrary to what most belief, it is not the end of a negotiation, simply the beginning) which is…”Why?”There is no better way to start a fight than to remove or seemingly remove the other party’s right to say no. This includes being dismissive, shutting the other party down, being dominant etc. This is what the Egyptian government is trying to do – isolate, command and control (remove cell phone and internet services…). Whenever possible, I encourage leaders to invite and listen for “no” from their followers. It fosters dialog, displays respect and results in collaboration and coordination.

I covered many other techniques used in effective negotiations but I wanted participants to have something they could work on. Within days of that workshop, I got an email from a participant that said she was able to get what she wanted in a negotiation by employing just the few principles I taught. That was quite rewarding.

Categories: Uncategorized