Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Blues

I am not going to add another motivating Inauguration paper on the inspiration of the moment. It was awesome. I was inspired. Done.

One of my lasting memories actually occurred in the morning as I tried to get to the national mall. I woke up in the morning at 4 and was on a bus by 5. The bus took me to the DC Metro and got on at around 5:30, ready to meet my group of friends by 7:30. I had a seat and was on my way. Ding Dong, stated the loud speaker, someone had become ill and we all had to get off the train. I got off to a full platform of people waiting to get on the train. Was told that my group, actual people who were on the train could go across the platform and an empty train would be coming shortly. Ah, what a system. My only worry was hoping that I got a seat on the new train.

It went horribly wrong and a voice inside my head new that it was a bad idea to get off the train in the first place. The announcer stated that those on the platform could board the train and so our old seats now belonged to someone else. Then the train came, except it was not for us, it was going the opposite way. We had to go back over and join the ranks already on the platform to get on already crowded trains. I was on the platform for another hour and the rest was as bad as the photo above.

As it relates to this blog, what rule I was reminded of was that the voice on the loud speaker was regarded as an authority and the authority was horribly wrong. As it relates to management, an even the new president, it is not a bad idea to question the voice on the loud speaker. Management and the loud speaker deserve as much.....

Back from Africa

I am back from my trip to Kenya and one of my tasks was to keep an eye out for signs of capacity building and technical assistance relating to management and leadership. The quick answer is that I saw none, although I really asked around.

The greatest example was when the Ministry of Health was giving me a tour of a facility. They were very adamant about showing me the new printing press that they have received, replacing the old one from 1978, which was discarded. They had a room full of poster paper ready to print and so I asked when all of this was going forward, they stated that the operator was not educated in the new printing press operations and the closest place to be trained on it was in Denmark. They were working out how to get him to the training in the next millennium. The new printing press was an item that was really fancied by a senior manager and purchased at the end of the fiscal year with dollars needing to be used.

They all acknowledged that decisions like this were common and so I asked the obvious question: "Is there management training or coaching for your leaders". The response from a woman in the back was, "No but they are good and coaching and training us." She got an evil eye from a couple of her co-workers.

Some parallels to our work in the USA but it was apparent that in the area where I was, executive leadership needed some coaching and the idea of coaching them was foreign. So was I.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Capacity Building in Africa

Short Post as I head into some travel.....

I am off to Kenya and have a two hour delay in the airport. I think one of the things I will try to pay attention to when I visit a couple of NGO groups is their focus on organizational development and capacity building, outside of fund development. Will keep you posted....
Also, I am stopping by a cafe for social innovators in London. I hope it is everything I envision in my head, with people sitting around and focusing on ideas for bettering the world and drinking drinks entitled, "Leverage Latte"....

Pay Attention to Bill Blass...Not Me

First, I hope that everyone had a great holiday season and that the New Year is finding you favorably. If you are like me, I think the New Year is finding you busier than ever.

I know this has been a constant rant for me but I am sorry, please allow me to start the year on my soap box. As I left for my X-Mas in San Diego I retired to small corner of the house, away from the craziness of wrapping paper and was reading the New York Times. This Sunday edition had two articles that I think are worth mentioning together. The first one, again outlined the need for nonprofits to borrow techniques and ideas from the for-profit community. It was pretty standard jargon of how the business community is all-knowing and the nonprofit community is walking around scraping its knuckles on the ground.

In the same newspaper, in a Business Section filled with stories of bad business decisions, was the story of the demise of Bill Blass clothing line. In a nut shell, it basically folded after the clothing house failed to do proper transition management, going from CEO to CEO until ultimately the organization finds itself past the point of no return. The cae, as written by the Times, shows how Transition Management was inproperly done. I am excited to use this as a case study....

As with the Harvard example written about earlier, I think it is about time for leaders to sit down from each side and discuss management...maybe someone will learn something. Now I have to look for the discount rack for a Bill Blass shirt.