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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

You’re More than Just Your Major


You’re More than Just Your Major

By Jonathan Lewis '11

Choosing a major was easily the most stressful part of my years at Stony Brook. Thinking pragmatically, I knew that studying engineering would set me up for a lucrative career. But I found myself much more engaged in my history and political science courses. Ultimately, I decided to make the switch from STEM to humanities in my sophomore year.

Once I changed to liberal arts, I found that I loved going to my new classes every day - but I secretly dreaded the thought of one day graduating and having to find work. What I had lost sight of was the fact that classes are just one part of the university experience. Today, I work as a supply-chain engineer for a major food distributor. In a blog article for the American Historical Association, I detailed how my major helped me develop useful skills for my job; but this time, I want to speak more to how my hobbies and extra-curricular activities during college helped me stand out among applicants during my job hunt.

Back when I was going on interviews, I was often asked by hiring managers about what I was doing outside of class. I told them how during my junior year, some friends and I started doing an annual online charity telethon to raise money to help buy games and toys for children’s hospitals. Running a 24/7 live event involves a substantial amount of data analytics. For the event, I was tasked with determining peak times for viewership to maximize the potential donor draw when scheduling on-camera special events. As it turns out, my current position also requires a lot of manipulating data and drawing conclusions useful to developing business strategies. The hiring managers at my company were impressed that I’d not only used real-world data to implement decisions, but had done so on a project of my own initiative.

Even if your major is going to feed directly into a dream career, you can use your extra-curricular experiences to stand out among a crowded field of applicants. The interview process is not just about screening for job skills, but also determining if an applicant is a good fit for the office culture. My extracurricular experiences helped in this area, too. I did two study abroad programs: one to Shanghai through Stony Brook University, and another to Southern France as a non-traditional student. I found out during my interview with my current boss that he was a non-traditional student for a semester in Sweden. Making that small personal connection changed the whole tone of the interview. The conversation was more relaxed, and I felt more confident when discussing my job-specific skills because the person interviewing me was no longer a stranger.

Applying for jobs as a freshly minted graduate can be difficult, especially when many companies are looking for applicants who are experienced with applying skills to real-world situations. When building your resume, remember that you have been developing skills not only through class, but through your extra-curricular activities as well!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Solving Modern Management Ills: How Simple!


Solving Modern Management Ills: How Simple!
By John Cona '87

“Personal Service Level Agreements”

Herein is the Right Way, a simple program for rectifying awful, nonsensical, failure-ridden corporate cultures. 

It can start with one disciplined individual or a small group, as long as they have common sense and don’t mind giving some tough love to their workplace neighbors…

Personal Service Level Agreements.  As of this post, you have no excuses.

Summary

In a previous essay, I presented a checklist of typical, bad practices in corporate executive and project management.  So as not to be accused of being an ineffectual whiner, I herein present the astonishingly simple solution. 

Buddhism has the Middle Way; Taylorism the One Best Way; Middle-Earth the Straight Way.  Among successful managers, we have The Right Way….

The RIGHT WAY – Personal Service Level Agreements

Introduction

At a recent client meeting, one of the Senior Program Managers laughed, mentioning that he had four meetings booked for that very time. Imagine?

At the same firm, one senior technical architect had an email rule that accepted every meeting request AUTOMATICALLY!

Over and over again, I see the symptoms – increasingly, unabashedly, as the above example shows – of bad management. Yet even as corporate personnel admit these obvious issues, I am continually told, “but that is the company, the culture, you can’t change it.”

So I say: watch me.  If I insist on doing things right, then I can have those in my group do likewise.  We can have simple rules of engagement for our interactions. 

Because these principles start with YOU, the individual, I call them Personal Service Level Agreements – analogous to what service companies or internal departments put in their contracts.  I list their clauses below.

From there, we can force other groups to follow the rules if they want to interact with us.  And it grows from there; we as courteous pebbles start the avalanche of a productivity revolution.

But of course, it cuts both ways. We stand by our own Personal Service Level Agreements so that our neat idea of binding each other to correct, polite, considerate behavior in the aggregate causes projects and tasks to move along more efficiently. As Robert Plant never sang, “does anybody remember successful projects?” - on time and within budget.

Personal Service Level Agreement Clauses

  • I will answer all emails within 48 hours, even if only to state that I need more time.
  • I will not accept a meeting invitation (where I am a required attendee) unless I can definitely attend.
  • I will prepare for meetings beforehand so as not to waste everyone else’s time.  If the meeting is mine, I will distribute materials beforehand so that others can prepare.
  • I will come to meetings on time, and I will leave when the time is over.
  • For any given endeavor, I will only involve those who need to be involved.
  • When I am given a task, I will give a completion date that I will take seriously and that I can realistically achieve.
  • If I am GIVEN a completion date, I will only accept it if I can realistically achieve it.
  • I will make clear all resources I need, etc., to achieve my task goals.
  • When I give tasks to others, I will require that they act similarly - to only accept what they can achieve.
  • I will allow others to push back on me; I will deal in the truth.
  • If a request comes in that interrupts my personal planning, I will reject it, even if it is from my boss and even if his boss just read a new article about Hadoop.  I will not act stupid just because my superiors like it.
  • I will accept the consequences of missed deadlines even if it affects my performance review and career and compensation prospects at the firm.
  • I will not laugh at or ignore failure, whether in myself or in others.
  • I will have a plan and stick to it. I will define “emergency” in terms of lives at risk, legal pause-giving, or moral issues ONLY.
  • I will be disciplined, and insist that others allow me to operate under this PSLA.
In short:  I will act responsibly, considerately, and not blow smoke up highly personal orifices.

Conclusion

In a follow up essay, I will discuss this topic further. But can you already see how easy it might be to remedy common management vices, with a little common sense?

Again, please remember: it can start with just one individual.  From there, others within the group will be forced to interact more efficiently.  And from there, other groups will have to adopt associate “rules of engagement” to coordinate and communicate across boundaries more effectively.

Have fun!

As background, note that I have broad experience in Information Technology, having started as a software developer directly out of college – I was a mathematics major, and my first industry positions were in actuarial departments (within large, complex insurance companies) as a student-actuary and programmer.  From there my career proceeded along a typical arc:  technical leadership, architecture, enterprise architecture – and in parallel I also followed an analogous path through management:  project management, program management, executive management.



That described, and though I am hired usually for executive IT, custom software development, analytics management, most of my work now boils down to solving generic management issues.  And, further, most of the problems have simple solutions found by everyday reasoning and using good, old-fashioned common sense.



Email me with your questions, comments, tales of management horror, and commiseration.  Thank you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Get Ready For Some New Questions



Get Ready For Some New Questions

By Debra Scala Giokas ‘87

A couple of years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a young woman who was working the registration booth at a social media seminar. This young woman was in the process of looking for work as a marketing project manager, and in the interim, she was volunteering at a non-profit as well as an association for business communicators.

I asked her about the interview process. She was quick to share some of the questions she was asked. One interviewer, she said, asked, "Tell me what's in the front seat, the back seat and the trunk of your car." Another asked, "Tell me how many outfits you tried on before this interview this morning, and how many of them are left on the floor?" Another asked, "Describe how the icons on your desktop are organized." In the middle of our conversation, a seasoned marketing professional joined us. She commented, "It's such a tough job market and people are well-prepared with the set interview questions such as -- tell me about your weakness or describe yourself -- that interviewers are getting creative. They want to see what makes you tick."

I would imagine that the interviewers were trying to see how well she could think on her feet. They also were trying to find out if she was an organized person who planned ahead and would keep a neat work station. The best way to prepare for these interviews is to bring a sense of calm with you. Remaining calm will help you think clearly and honestly so you can answer in a way that sheds light on your true personality. If you don't have the right answers for the interviewer, then chances are you weren't the best fit for the company’s culture and you were spared some months of anguish in a job not right for you.

This young lady also added that she was having a hard time getting work because the interviewers said, "We are really looking for someone already in that job." She added, "They don't want me because I am unemployed."

At any stage of your career, you may find yourself in the unemployment line or in the chair across from a zany interviewer. You must remember to never get disillusioned with the process.

Looking for work is the hardest work that you will ever do. Once you accept this reality, the journey will become easier. 

Debra Scala Giokas has been in the field of Legal Marketing for 25 years. For the last 16, she has been working as Marketing Director of Long Island’s second largest law firm, Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP. Debra shares her love of English as a board advisor for Literacy Nassau which promotes adult literacy in the community. Debra was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Dowling College, where she taught an undergraduate course in services marketing for six years. She has been published in a variety of business and legal trades, which includes a quarterly column in the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island's (PRPLI) newsletter “For Immediate Release.” Debra’s poems have appeared in magazines and literary journals, most recently in the 2014 Nassau County Poet Laureate Review. Debra was recognized by PRPLI with its Mentor Award in 2012.

You can follow Debra on Twitter @debrascalag.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Hey Google, How Do I Do My Job?


"Hey Google, How Do I Do My Job?"
By Michael Yen '11, '13

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself typing this phrase in Google when you start a new job (although it’s not the worst thing in the world). This prompt does, however, draw attention to the utility of Google - not only in our personal lives, but our professional ones as well. As members of the generation the public has dubbed “millennial,” we utilize this technology like no generation has before us. At the same time, our appreciation for its power has never been smaller.

Indeed, while our generation’s immersion in technology gives us a considerable advantage over the current workforce, it may not seem like much of a benefit for people who do not work in Information Technology, Computer Science or Engineering. Students often say, “I just waste my time on Facebook and Instagram all day. How will that help me get a job, unless I work in social media?” Likewise, employers may think, “Kids these days all go on Facebook and Instagram. They are lazy and don’t bother learning real skills." These perceptions were among the first things on my mind when I was hunting for jobs back in 2013. With experience, though, I learned how to mitigate these perceptions and convert them into a strength.

As Manager of Clinical Performance Data at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), and previously, through my role as Data Research Manager at North-Shore-LIJ Health System (NSLIJ), I have encountered technological issues regularly. In my current role, I deal with data analytics to support pay-for-performance healthcare reimbursement models and negotiate contracts with health insurance companies. At NSLIJ, my position dealt with managing clinical cancer trials by working with stakeholders throughout the NSLIJ Cancer Institute. Despite being healthcare positions, my roles have required me to help my colleagues with technical problems on a daily basis.

For example, coworkers have often asked me to help them with issues on their desktops and iPhones. While problems like these are often simple to troubleshoot, being able to fix them made me a great asset to my employer. And when I didn’t know how to fix something, I could always say, “Do you mind if I get back to you in a few minutes?” and then go back to my computer and Google a solution to the problem. Nine times out of ten, someone else encountered the error before me, with people providing helpful suggestions on how to fix it. And so within 5 minutes, I was able to figure out how to fix the error that had a coworker struggling for the last half hour.

By combining critical thinking skills with my capacity to problem solve with Google, I was able to prove myself to be a valuable asset to my employer. At my current job, I started with trying to figure out how best to show where patients are being treated throughout NYC. After going down the rabbit hole for two hours, I figured out how to create a heat map using data in an Excel spreadsheet and Google’s map of NYC. Then I found free software to develop sophisticated choropleth (Google it) maps for future analyses. These data-mapping skills weren’t things I learned in school, and they weren’t taught to me by someone else; I learned them using information open to the public domain. Thanks to these findings, my director asked me to present the report before senior hospital leaders at their next meeting. Now that’s how you make an impression.

Even during the job hunting phase, Googling for nuggets of information about a company puts you on a stronger footing than your competitors. Don't be shy in putting down every computer program you had learned on your resume, either; even if it's not at the advanced level, you teach yourself what you don't know using Google.

As college-educated millennials, we have a unique combination of critical thinking skills and technical-savviness. With this synergy, the possibilities are only limited to a googillion; and for those of you who are looking for a job, that may just be enough.

Michael Yen is currently working in Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) as the Manager of Clinical Performance Data for the Division of Managed Care. In this role, Michael utilizes analysis of financial, quality, and clinical data to move WCMC towards pay-for-performance. This role also entails maintenance and negotiation of value-based and shared-savings contracts with commercial and public insurers.

Michael has worked in the healthcare world at a variety of strong healthcare institutions, including North Shore-LIJ Health System, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, and Suffolk County Department of Health Services, since 2006. In addition, he worked as a healthcare management consultant for a NYC health technology startup that further rounds out his business and strategy experience.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Raise Your Hand, Speak Your Mind, Learn About Yourself



"Raise Your Hand, Speak Your Mind, Learn About Yourself" 
By Debra Scala Giokas, '87

After I graduated college, I learned how much I didn't know; and after I started teaching as an adjunct, I learned how much I did know. There is an upside and a downside to listening to yourself talk for almost three hours. The upside is that you are amazed to see how much your memory has retained and how many people have affected your life. The downside is that you can't turn yourself off for at least an hour after class. It's draining. It's always easiest when the class participates.

As a student, it is so easy to fall into the trap of showing up, plopping into your seat, and listening to the professor talk for hours. It's harder to engage yourself in the dialogue, but that's exactly what you should be doing. Hearing yourself talk gives you the opportunity to learn more about your world view - or your lack of one. And there is no venue that promotes the open flow and exchange of ideas better than a classroom setting. It's a chance to grow, to learn about your own life and to see how you fit into history.

The more you live, the more you learn that this saying is true: "Wherever you go, there you are." You can't escape yourself. You travel with your body, mind, heart and soul. Strive to be comfortable by yourself - and in yourself - anywhere you go. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

We all feel better when we share a part of ourselves in intimate conversation with a friend. How many people actually stop to talk with each other anymore? How many people walk past someone, smile and say, "How are you?" and yet never stop to listen to the answer.

This is our society. It's one of hellos and good-byes. People are craving the connection that conversation brings. Sending text messages is not genuine conversation.

On a daily basis, you have the ability to choose what ideas you consume, what books you read, what shows you watch, and what types of people you associate with. These factors have the power to make you grow distant from yourself or to enhance who you already are. But you must be in touch with your core value system so that you may make the right choices and know in which direction you want to grow.

The way to hear your inner voice is to share that voice with others. Speak out in class, share ideas, and don't be self-conscious about your thoughts and opinions. This is the way you learn about yourself and the world around you. This is how you determine how you will play a part to better the world.

How will you bring your gifts and talents to the world stage? How will you leave your mark? What will your legacy be?

If you think about these big questions during your college years, you will spare yourself many years of anxiety. Pondering these questions will guide you into the right first job, and that job will guide you into the next one. Most importantly, you'll find a way to use your talents to serve humanity from your corner of the world. You will know how to make the right decisions for yourself because you'll become your own best counselor and friend.

 Debra Scala Giokas has been in the field of Legal Marketing for 25 years. For the last 16, she has been working as Marketing Director of Long Island’s second largest law firm, Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP. Debra shares her love of English as a board advisor for Literacy Nassau which promotes adult literacy in the community. Debra was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Dowling College, where she taught an undergraduate course in services marketing for six years. She has been published in a variety of business and legal trades, which includes a quarterly column in the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island's (PRPLI) newsletter “For Immediate Release.” Debra’s poems have appeared in magazines and literary journals, most recently in the 2014 Nassau County Poet Laureate Review. Debra was recognized by PRPLI with its Mentor Award in 2012.

You can follow Debra on Twitter @debrascalag.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thinking Beyond Your Major


"Thinking Beyond Your Major" By Richard Murdocco, '10


When it comes to starting your career, you may find that you need to go beyond your academic major. By considering your unique strengths and ways to apply them, you’ll make yourself open to more employment prospects and opportunities for personal growth.

When students or recent graduates identify themselves in interviews, they often say something along the lines of, "Hello! My name is George Humphrey. I am a student at Stony Brook University majoring in INSERT MAJOR HERE.”

Leading off with your major sets an expectation for the interviewer that you fit the archetype of only that field. While some professions require a relatively static skill set, others have more broad qualifications. Is there an opening for a research analyst at a large firm, but you studied Earth Science? You may be able to apply what you’ve learned as an undergraduate to fit that position.

As I had written last time, one of the perks of identifying your strongest skill is using it to your advantage in a variety of different professions. Are you a mathematics major who writes well? Or maybe you study Economics, but have a host of public speaking gigs under your belt. Excellent - you're a double threat in the job market. Use those valuable skills - and your unique academic background - to your advantage. 

If you are struggling to find a job that your academic background is tailor-made for, consider other opportunities that will allow you to put your skills to work. Often, rather than seeking the most qualified candidate on paper, companies look for an individual who fits in with company culture and who offers something unique to their institution.

Speaking from personal experience, my studies in both undergraduate at Fordham and graduate school at Stony Brook focused on land use, real estate development and the interrelationship between economic growth and environmental impacts. Despite having this rather specialized academic background, I now work in the ever-changing field of marketing for a financial institution. My background in government is helpful, but my ability to write is even more valuable. By identifying my skill and thinking beyond my major, I was able to jump into a field in which I never thought I'd be working. Each day, I use my education in policy to solve marketing challenges while applying the lessons learned in my undergraduate studies to give a different perspective on finding solutions.

Remember, though - that is my story. As a student or recent graduate, you must go out into the world and create your own story. What is your unique skill? Once you answer that question, ask yourself, "Am I thinking big enough?"

Always push yourself to think bigger. Thinking beyond your major requires an open mindedness that can pay big dividends as you progress throughout your career. Who knows - maybe one day you'll be a philosophy major who helps a firm with financial forecasting, or a regional planner who works as a marketer.


Richard Murdocco is a digital marketing analyst for Teachers Federal Credit Union. He graduated from Fordham University with his BA in Political Science and Urban Studies, and his MA in Public Policy from SUNY Stony Brook in 2010. 
Professionally, Richard worked for the New York City Mayor's Office of Capital Project Development under the Bloomberg Administration, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and Community Development Corporation of Long Island as a grant writer. His website, The Foggiest Idea, is a dedicated resource for land use and development information geared towards Long Islanders. 
Follow Richard Murdocco on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea, visit thefoggiestidea.org or email him at Rich@TheFoggiestIdea.org. You can check out his work weekly for the Long Island Press.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Modern Management Ills: A Checklist of Symptoms

Modern Management Ills: A Checklist of Symptoms 
By John Cona '87

How to spot poor management and understand its supporting, perpetuating cultures. A checklist of warning signs for the wary as observed at one man's real life clients...

Summary

Healthy job seekers beware!  Poorly-run corporations make their presence known through easily recognizable symptoms.  In this essay, I present the etiology of ineffectual company management; in a follow-on piece, I will prescribe some simple home remedies. Hopefully, this knowledge will empower those new to the white-collar workforce to be agents of change. New workers do not have to sit powerless against the abject silliness and non-common-sensical goings-on at most corporations. There is hope.

Introduction

As a Stony Brook alum (1987) and long-time independent Management Advisor and consultant, I was asked to write a series of blog-essays giving career development advice to new graduates. 

I thought it best to write a warning.

Corporate bungling is rampant, especially in management. There are many things to be managed in a large business, and they all falter where basic management skills are lacking.

Why?

The common cause...The common cure...  

My core  observation - having directly helped over 70 firms and indirectly advised literally hundreds - is that there is simply a lack of discipline.

Common causes include:
  • Ready acceptance of excuses to go off-plan
  • A dearth of management skill to begin with
  • Plain old incompetent, silly or unsettling behavior
  • Accedence to a superior's own causes
  • Surrender to short term thinking, or lack of its recognition and ramifications

And running like a bright vein of fool's gold through all of these sources is a lack of common sense.

The Checklist: Easily Recognizable Signs of Poor Management 

I expand on and discuss these items in the following section:

Those instantly recognizable:
  1. Email Inboxes Containing Thousands Of (Usually Unread) Messages
  2. Consultant Dependency (which is just silly)
  3. PowerPoint Heck (which is just unsettling)
Those noticeable within a normal work week:
  1. Reliance (Even a Little Bit!) On Instant Messaging and Texting
  2. New Directions Every Day or Week. Hour?
  3. Requiring Face-to-Face Time Every Day. Hour?
  4. "Hallway Management"
  5. Crowds of People in a "Working Meeting"
  6. Addressing Actionable Emails to More than One Person
  7. Giving Multiple Resources the Same Job To Do.
Those that may take time to see:
  1. Lack of Quality, Lack of Productivity, and Heroic Efforts
  2. Operating Continually in Reactive Mode
  3. ~60% Cancellation Rate on Scheduled Meetings - Or Anything Over 10%
  4. People Late or Absent From Meetings

Exposition on the Signs of Poor Management

Those instantly recognizable:


1. Email Inboxes Containing Thousands Of (Usually Unread) MessagesThis may indicate:
  • Lack of ability - or lack of willingness - to delegate. A manager who is involved in every conversation that his subordinates undertake does not trust them, or is not aware that he/she can/should trust them.
  • A management style that does not scale. Simply put: once a person's plate is full, there is no more that they can do.
  • Poor performance. Being spread too thin brings about a lack of quality output in anyone.
  • Lack of an organizational model that matches the workload. If a single person is receiving too many emails, this means that too many recipients are addressed to, or copied on, emails inappropriately.

2. Consultant Dependency
This sign indicates that management is not, on its own, producing good ideas. At many large companies, there is a tendency to forego an important decision until a consulting firm says it is OK. The approach is not completely wrongheaded; consultants can supply valuable insight where expertise is lacking. At some point, though a firm needs to recognize its own strengths and back its people when they make decisions that they should be counted on to make.

3. PowerPoint Heck
In recent years, operational and organizational management have changed so that, in many instances, they communicate solely in slide-speak. The displacement of more suitable forms of documentation and communication by PowerPoint is a sign of dependence and inefficiency.

Those Noticeable Within a Normal Work Week:

1. Reliance (Even a Little Bit!) On Instant Messaging and Texting.
This is a sign that communications have "backed up"; as mountains of unread emails accumulate, the need for attention-getting moves toward instant messaging. This replaces the managed, directed, purposeful and productive communications of email with tools marketed mostly to teenagers. To rely on texting or IM is to rely on happenstance - what if the recipient is not available at the time of the message?

2. New directions every day/week/hour
This is a clear sign that there is no proper planning.  What happened to yesterday’s direction?  Is it on maternity leave?’  is an appropriate, common sense response (though perhaps should not be spoken aloud; leave it to me to express this).

3. Requiring face-to-face time every day/hour
When there is no active plan, there is no way for managers to gauge the productivity of workers without watching them type.  Common sense dictates that witnessing someone at their desk does not necessarily show that they are being productive.

4. “Hallway Management”
This is the overwhelming urge for a manager to give people things to do upon every greeting – even chance meetings in the hall or cafeteria.  The implication is that the receiver of the new request was not fully allocated at the time. Another implication is that there is no plan.

5. Crowds of People in a ‘Working Meeting'.
Optimally, everyone in a “working” meeting should contribute evenly to maximize its efficiency.  If this isn’t the case, reallocated meeting topics and attendees should be considered.  Meetings need to have clear agendas, a leader to keep the discussions on point, and a pass-the-conch-shell mentality so that contributors are not shouted down.

6. Assigning the Same Job to Multiple People.
If the same job is assigned to several people, a supervisor may forget who has been given which tasks. There is a common defense for this: that it is done purposely as a way for managers to compare workers’ reactions.  Whose solution was best?  Who responded quickest? If this were done in a management-theory experiment, it would be forgivable.  The other 99.9% of the time, it is a sign of inefficient operations.

7. Addressing Actionable Emails to More Than One Person
This is similar to the previous item but different in that this is also a communication-management problem.

Those That Take Time to See:

1. Lack of Quality, Lack of Productivity, and Heroic Efforts 
Longer-term lack of quality deliverables is a more difficult symptom to recognize immediately. More easily observed are the heroic efforts required when deliverables are finally met – one person, or a team, working extra hours as a tightly-knit group, cheerlead by management to act “as one” , with redundant efforts and inefficient grunts and groans until the project is completed, forced over the goal line in a muddy scrum. A shortcut to recognizing this symptom is to look for braggadocio or corporate pride in individuals who regularly perform 50+ hour work weeks just to keep the status quo.

2. Operating Continually in Reactive Mode
This is not only an effect of a lack of disciplined management; in many cases it is also a cause. Those who enjoy causing chaos in order to mask a lack of management skill contribute to the resulting plan-less-ness.  

3. 60% Cancellation Rate on Scheduled Meetings - Or Anything Over 10%...
When high rates of cancellations occur – especially last minute – it is a clear indicator of poor time oversight and the absence of a respected, bought-into plan – more so when a manager cancels meetings that they had called themselves.

4. People Late or Absent from Meetings.
Ditto.

Simple Steps Toward: The Right Way

In a follow-on piece, I will present some guidelines on the right way to organize and communicate in an organization - simple enough that an individual can put them into place.


To read a more complete version of this essay, click here.


As background, note that I have broad experience in Information Technology, having started as a software developer directly out of college – I was a mathematics major, and my first industry positions were in actuarial departments (within large, complex insurance companies) as a student-actuary and programmer.  From there my career proceeded along a typical arc:  technical leadership, architecture, enterprise architecture – and in parallel I also followed an analogous path through management:  project management, program management, executive management.



That described, and though I am hired usually for executive IT, custom software development, analytics management, most of my work now boils down to solving generic management issues.  And, further, most of the problems have simple solutions found by everyday reasoning and using good, old-fashioned common sense.



Email me with your questions, comments, tales of management horror, and commiseration.  Thank you.