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Archive for the category “projects”

How about recycling “thinking outside the box”?

How about recycling “thinking outside the box”? 

I do not know about you, but I am tired of hearing the term “think outside the box”. It is supposed to encourage abandoning old-fashioned and railroad track straight thinking. Instead the recipient of the tag line is encouraged using creativity in order to find new ways. Problem is that it is totally overused now.

The biggest problem I have with this concept is that I am to assume that there was a box in the first place. How dare we put ourselves into this metal box? I suggest we assume that there is no box. Rather than asking people to think outside the box, ask them better questions. Here are few that can help people use there God given creativity:

  • What will make everyone better off in our situation?
  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • What is holding us back?
  • Who do we want to become?

Next time someone asks you to think outside the box, think of better fitting questions. Do not put yourself in a box where there was one in the first place.


Work on your business and not in it

Work on your business and not in it 

Are you in busyness or business? To do lists will survive us. Your purpose and enthusiasm for your business may not. Seriously, your own and your company’s why is the only reason you exist. Unfortunately, our day-to-day hustle-bustle activities very often prevent us looking up and actually be working on ourselves and our organizations.

In the event we do not make time for connecting with our purpose, it will catch up with us. On a personal level we may experience burn out or perhaps even a midlife crisis. Organizations may grow in spite of themselves but employee turnover may increase and the overall morale may deteriorate so much that customers start leaving eventually.

This craziness can be stopped. First you need to stop yourself from constantly putting out the “fires” around you. Some folks have gotten so good at that that they resort to creating their own fires that they then must put out. Are you sick and tired of constantly making decisions for even the most mundane tasks? It is time to make room in your calendar for pondering the following questions:

  • What would happen to me and my organization if nothing changes during the next 12 months?
  • What will the consequences be?
  • Where would I like my organization (department, etc) and myself to be in 12 to 36 months?
  • What will keep me from getting there?
  • What gives me energy?

Now compare and contrast your answers. The toughest part – the start of your new journey – has been done. Following up with the resulting tasks consistently and frequently is your next big priority.

Do you think you do not have time to plan? Realize that you get what you tolerate and you spend 80% of your valuable time in fire fighting mode based on only 20% of the problems that exist in your organization instead of putting all your oomph into proactively mapping out your future. It’s all about prioritizing everything you do. Do you still think that you do not have time for this? Imagine that you hurt yourself and need to see a doctor really quick. You did not plan for this and yet you are finding the time anyway. You will make time for taking care of your health, right? Elevate your why and a plan how to get to fulfill it to that kind of a priority and watch tremendous growth start right before your eyes.


Revenge of the Ugh people

Revenge of the Ugh people 

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

“Ugh”. That is how many social media posts start. The people who author these type of posts try venting about another day or situation having gone awry. Does this help them any? I doubt it, but it is almost like they are getting a quiet revenge in on the people who read this. Anyone who reads it gets invited to drift – the post has their full attention and it may make you respond to it, or at a minimum it can get you all stirred up. All of a sudden their Ugh-day turns into yours as well.

Bottom line is that after all the “Ugh-ing” is said and done you are still no better off than before. I even argue this kind of mental griping does the opposite. Nothing positive can come out of moping around like this. You are not your thoughts; you have a choice to think a different thought. I am not inviting you to go around Pollyanna style and ignoring may be happening right under your nose. I am inviting you to not participate in this negative practice carpet bombing us with one “Ugh” after the other. Instead focus on the things that you can impact and you will find that there is a lot more control over the things that you may realize. Instead of “Ugh” say “Isn’t that fascinating” and then put the odds in your favor and to stay positive on and off social media.


5 things to consider when doing business in other countries

5 things to consider when doing business in other countries Smaller FB

Just because you have been successful doing business at home does not necessarily mean that you will be successful elsewhere. Depending on which continent you need to travel to, you really ought to make sure that besides having a little of the local currency with you, also make sure you mentally prepare for the difference in how business folks expect you to behave. Sure, most hosts will cut you some slack because you are a visitor, but you will not get a free ride card and you may not be able going home with a contract if you do not know what to expect and how to behave.

Below please find a few examples for traveling and doing business in Europe and Asia.

  • In North America the bullet pointed PowerPoint without tons of painfully detailed charts, analyses, graphs, etc are the norm. Dare you not use plenty of fact filled slides especially in Europe. Why? You will simply not come across as a professional if you do not do that in your presentation.
  • Face to face communication in North America and Western Europe lets you make good, solid eye to eye contact. In Asia this may be considered rude. You may not hear the word “no” muttered in negotiations in most of Asia. That does not mean “yes” eithers. “Yes” merely means a firm maybe.
  • If you know the language of the country you are visiting, use it. If you know only know a little and perhaps a few terms and catch phrases then do not use it. It is very easy to offend your hosts. When you stay in English do yourself and your hosts a huge favor: Refrain from using colloquialisms like “On the nose!”, “Six to one, half a dozen to another”, etc. You will catch yourself explaining this in painful detail and your initial point may completely get lost.
  • While in North America it may be tolerated if you are a few minutes late, do not be late in Europe, and especially Germany. Show up between 5 and 10 Minutes early and your success rate will go up. In other parts of the world you may find yourself having to show up on time when your host maybe in fact a half hour late and that is considered normal and to be expected. Do not comment on this to your host and heaven forbid make a big deal out of it.
  • Project management. Here maybe the most significant difference when you need to work with clients in Europe, but especially in Germany. A project in North America will focus on a big picture, a vision, its mission, and perhaps each individual step leading the project to success is briefly mentioned. Management will typically expect that some adaptations and amendments to the plan need to be made along the way of a project.

Under no circumstance should you do this in Europe. Here make sure that the big picture is as detail oriented as possible. The end state is expected to be described in detail with financial numbers and pretty exact outcome and the costs as well as manpower that go along with it. Consider hiring a well-known and respected industry consultancy backing you up, or simply providing you with the data back and solid reasoning for your strategy and tactics.

My short list is meant to merely provide you with a little bit more awareness when you travel and do business in other regions of our Globe. There are so many more points that I did not even mention here: Food, gifts, gender roles in other countries, dress codes, social gatherings, parties, transportation, etc.

There is an excellent book about this topic, which I have often consulted before going to another country. It is called “Kiss, bow, and shake hands” by Terri Morrison. All you can do is taking your cultural awareness blindfold off. You will enjoy your trips much more and are destined to be more successful as well. Have a good trip!


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