The Delete Dilemma

Evolution must cope with revolution! This has been the law of life. If we cut out the profundities, what remains is the fact that evolution has taken place only because children have always disobeyed their parents. Holding the reins has its logic, but the turning of any idea into reality means that ultimately we have to execute the idea and see what happens. Maturity essentially means the methodology of evaluation and timing. As Mac McDougall, Computer Architect says, “play is what I do for a living; the work comes in evaluating the results of the play.” The strongest dogma is self created, usually generated from one’s past successes. So, the older we get, the more dogmas we accumulate. Unfortunately, what works once does not necessarily work a second time. And since no one can get a rational view while seated with their bottoms on their laurels, the application of such experience in the present is questionable.

It’s not going to be so easy to change our attitudes, considering the fact that our resistance to change is genetic. Ernest Haeckel, the well known German Anatomist, said, “Recapitulation is in our nature.” He stated that in our embryological development in the womb, even today we tend to repeat or recapitulate the sequence that our ancestors followed during the early evolution of life. We go through the stages of single cell, fish, reptile and finally mammal in the womb. It may be nature’s way, but we have to do better than that. For one, being the icon for the younger generation, if we continue to bombard them with our pet theories of our own past successes as beacons to follow, what will emerge is a handicapped generation. Also, the basic tussle of control of one generation over the next will have an element of unhealthy competition. Remember, no one ever wants to be proved wrong by a kid anyway, but we have to shelve our ego problems on that one.

Life has a method to eliminate crusty old people by the wayside, and most of us have no patience for the anecdotes of World War I or even II. But, in spite of it all, one generation always seeps its influence into another. Perhaps, what is most important is the moral freedom to set its own goals that one generation must allow another. The Industrial Revolution is a recent phenomenon. It resulted in a shift of focus for the working class. It created a new imbalance of the Haves and the Have-nots. The effects of that still percolate in our society, even after the passing of over 10 generations.

It is reflected in one of our popularly prevalent goals – ‘Rich’. We believe that the rich are privileged and have the means to fulfill their desires and also have better access to self realization. Unfortunately, in reality, in most cases the drive to gain wealth diverts energy from activities that are more creative and self expressive, resulting in the impoverishment of the spirit. “Tomorrow, I will play with my kid” is a phenomenon common to most of us belonging to the hard working class. Goals usually are the remnants of the unfulfilled desires of one generation thrust upon another. Perhaps that is the reason there is so much mental fatigue in our lives. We are chasing shadows. Unless a realistic expectation is attached to a goal, they become meaningless to a person. For example, if one believes that wealth and success can change a nobody into a somebody, it is an illusion. People who lack authentic goals are those who are looking for something outside themselves to believe in – a person, a system, a cause, or an activity. They look towards others for the fulfillment of their goals. Newborn babies are the opposite picture. Their activities are an expression of their self – they’re driven by it. Yet, a couple of years is enough to dissipate this trait. Very few retain it for a lifetime. Perhaps it’s time to ban the Cinderella story. It is not so important anymore that the glass slippers are a perfect fit.




Power imbalance breeds resentment and anger. When an employee feels strongly that there is a power imbalance with his or her supervisor, it does not matter whether that power imbalance is real or perceived.

What matters is knowing what to do to resolve the situation and to prevent it from turning into a destructive personal war.

As a workplace mediator, I often get called in to mediate these situations. A good way to start is by understanding the employee’s feelings. However, after she or he feels heard and understood, it is quite important to shift her/his mind, from the past to the future. Although the problem is in the past, any resolution can only be found in the future. Talking about the future is safe. There is no need to feel
angry; no need to feel resentful.

In mediation an employee might be asked: Imagine that this problem between you and your supervisor has been resolved. How would things be different tomorrow morning? What would you like the supervisor to do for you differently than yesterday? And what are you willing to do differently in exchange? A future-oriented approach allows (actually forces) the employee’s mind to stop dwelling on negative feelings and to start thinking in terms of behavioral changes. The employee also starts looking at the relationship with the supervisor in terms of common responsibility and mutual benefit, rather than as a power struggle.

Getting clear answers to the question “What are you willing to do differently?” always takes considerably more time and effort than the previous question, “What would you like the supervisor to do differently
for you?”
Expressions like “I’ll try to do this” or “I’ll do my best” sound great, but they don’t yield any practical results. Unless the employee is willing and committed to take specific actions on her/his
own — almost disregarding what the supervisor will do differently — nothing much is going to happen.
Catch-22 situations, where the employee and supervisor are each — suspiciously — simply waiting for the other to change first, don’t resolve their conflict. As a matter of fact, they make it worse.

To overcome this problem, mediators typically use some challenging but quite effective role-playing techniques with both employee and supervisor, in separate and joint sessions. This way it is possible to assess how committed they are in working together to resolve their conflict by each changing something in their habitual behavior.

Who would be most effective to intervene in an employee/supervisor conflict? Human resource managers have the training, experience and people skills for resolving conflict. Besides, who can appreciate the importance of a balanced and constructive supervisor/employee relationship, more than a human resource manager?

The problem is a disgruntled employee may consider the human resource manager to be the supervisor’s ally. Consequently, any suggestion made by the human resource manager — no matter how reasonable and fair — may be rejected out of hand. This is why workplace disputes are usually much easier to resolve if they are handled by a third party, such as an external mediator, who is accepted by both employee and supervisor as totally neutral to their conflict.


Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings, they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

If you can stay calm, while all around you there is chaos, then you probably haven’t completely understood the seriousness of the situation.

Doing a job RIGHT the first time gets the job done. Doing the job WRONG fourteen times gives you job security.

Artificial intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.

A person who smiles in the face of adversity probably has a scapegoat.

Plagiarism saves time.

If at first you don’t succeed, try management.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.

TEAMWORK: means never having to take all the blame yourself.

Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

We waste time, so you don’t have to.

Hang in there, retirement is only 50 years away!

Never criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes; that way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away AND you have their shoes!

When the going gets tough, the tough take a coffee break.

Aim Low, Reach your Goals, Avoid Disappointment.

Do You know your Computer Virus?

Computer viruses are mysterious and grab our attention. On the one hand, viruses show us how vulnerable we are. A properly engineered virus can have an amazing effect on the worldwide Internet. On the other hand, they show how sophisticated and interconnected human beings have become. For example, the Melissa virus — which became a global phenomenon in March 1999 — was so powerful that it forced Microsoft and a number of other very large companies to completely turn off their e-mail systems until the virus could be contained. The ILOVEYOU virus in 2000 had a similarly devastating effect. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that the Melissa and ILOVEYOU viruses are incredibly simple.

People create viruses. A person has to write the code, test it to make sure it spreads properly and then release the virus. A person also designs the virus’s attack phase, whether it’s a silly message or destruction of a hard disk. So why do people do it?

There are at least three reasons. The first is the same psychology that drives vandals and arsonists. Why would someone want to bust the window on someone else’s car, or spray-paint signs on buildings or burn down a beautiful forest? For some people that seems to be a thrill. If that sort of person happens to know computer programming, then he or she may funnel energy into the creation of destructive viruses.

The second reason has to do with the thrill of watching things blow up. Many people have a fascination with things like explosions and car wrecks. When you were growing up, there was probably a kid in your neighborhood who learned how to make gunpowder and then built bigger and bigger bombs until he either got bored or did some serious damage to himself. Creating a virus that spreads quickly is a little like that — it creates a bomb inside a computer, and the more computers that get infected the more “fun” the explosion.
The third reason probably involves bragging rights, or the thrill of doing it. Sort of like Mount Everest. The mountain is there, so someone is compelled to climb it. If you are a certain type of programmer and you see a security hole that could be exploited, you might simply be compelled to exploit the hole yourself before someone else beats you to it. “Sure, I could TELL someone about the hole. But wouldn’t it be better to SHOW them the hole???” That sort of logic leads to many viruses.

Of course, most virus creators seem to miss the point that they cause real damage to real people with their creations. Destroying everything on a person’s hard disk is real damage. Forcing the people inside a large company to waste thousands of hours cleaning up after a virus is real damage. Even a silly message is real damage because a person then has to waste time getting rid of it. For this reason, the legal system is getting much harsher in punishing the people who create viruses.

Traditional computer viruses were first widely seen in the late 1980s, and they came about because of several factors. The first factor was the spread of personal computers (PCs). Prior to the 1980s, home computers were nearly non-existent or they were toys. Real computers were rare, and they were locked away for use by “experts.” During the 1980s, real computers started to spread to businesses and homes because of the popularity of the IBM PC (released in 1982) and the Apple Macintosh (released in 1984). By the late 1980s, PCs were widespread in businesses, homes and college campuses.

The second factor was the use of computer bulletin boards. People could dial up a bulletin board with a modem and download programs of all types. Games were extremely popular, and so were simple word processors, spreadsheets, etc. Bulletin boards led to the precursor of the virus known as the Trojan horse. A Trojan horse is a program that sounds really cool when you read about it. So you download it. When you run the program, however, it does something uncool like erasing your disk. So you think you are getting a neat game but it wipes out your system. Trojan horses only hit a small number of people because they are discovered quickly. Either the bulletin board owner would erase the file from the system or people would send out messages to warn one another.

The third factor that led to the creation of viruses was the floppy disk. In the 1980s, programs were small, and you could fit the operating system, a word processor (plus several other programs) and some documents onto a floppy disk or two. Many computers did not have hard disks, so you would turn on your machine and it would load the operating system and everything else off of the floppy disk.
Viruses took advantage of these three facts to create the first self-replicating programs.

Types of Infection
When you listen to the news, you hear about many different forms of electronic infection. The most common are:

Viruses – A virus is a small piece of software that piggybacks on real programs. For example, a virus might attach itself to a program such as a spreadsheet program. Each time the spreadsheet program runs, the virus runs, too, and it has the chance to reproduce (by attaching to other programs) or wreak havoc.
E-mail viruses – An e-mail virus moves around in e-mail messages, and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim’s e-mail address book.
Worms – A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of the worm scans the network for another machine that has a specific security hole. It copies itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there, as well.
Trojan horses – A Trojan horse is simply a computer program. The program claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk). Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically.

What’s a “Virus”?
Computer viruses are called viruses because they share some of the traits of biological viruses. A computer virus passes from computer to computer like a biological virus passes from person to person.

There are similarities at a deeper level, as well. A biological virus is not a living thing. A virus is a fragment of DNA inside a protective jacket. Unlike a cell, a virus has no way to do anything or to reproduce by itself — it is not alive. Instead, a biological virus must inject its DNA into a cell. The viral DNA then uses the cell’s existing machinery to reproduce itself. In some cases, the cell fills with new viral particles until it bursts, releasing the virus. In other cases, the new virus particles bud off the cell one at a time, and the cell remains alive.

A computer virus shares some of these traits. A computer virus must piggyback on top of some other program or document in order to get executed. Once it is running, it is then able to infect other programs or documents. Obviously, the analogy between computer and biological viruses stretches things a bit, but there are enough similarities that the name sticks.

What’s a “Worm”?

A worm is a computer program that has the ability to copy itself from machine to machine. Worms normally move around and infect other machines through computer networks. Using a network, a worm can expand from a single copy incredibly quickly. For example, the Code Red worm replicated itself over 250,000 times in approximately nine hours on July 19, 2001.

How They Spread
Early viruses were pieces of code attached to a common program like a popular game or a popular word processor. A person might download an infected game from a bulletin board and run it. A virus like this is a small piece of code embedded in a larger, legitimate program. Any virus is designed to run first when the legitimate program gets executed. The virus loads itself into memory and looks around to see if it can find any other programs on the disk. If it can find one, it modifies it to add the virus’s code to the unsuspecting program. Then the virus launches the “real program.” The user really has no way to know that the virus ever ran. Unfortunately, the virus has now reproduced itself, so two programs are infected. The next time either of those programs gets executed, they infect other programs, and the cycle continues.

If one of the infected programs is given to another person on a floppy disk, or if it is uploaded to a bulletin board, then other programs get infected. This is how the virus spreads.

The spreading part is the infection phase of the virus. Viruses wouldn’t be so violently despised if all they did was replicate themselves. Unfortunately, most viruses also have some sort of destructive attack phase where they do some damage. Some sort of trigger will activate the attack phase, and the virus will then “do something” — anything from printing a silly message on the screen to erasing all of your data. The trigger might be a specific date, or the number of times the virus has been replicated, or something similar.

As virus creators got more sophisticated, they learned new tricks. One important trick was the ability to load viruses into memory so they could keep running in the background as long as the computer remained on. This gave viruses a much more effective way to replicate themselves. Another trick was the ability to infect the boot sector on floppy disks and hard disks. The boot sector is a small program that is the first part of the operating system that the computer loads. The boot sector contains a tiny program that tells the computer how to load the rest of the operating system. By putting its code in the boot sector, a virus can guarantee it gets executed. It can load itself into memory immediately, and it is able to run whenever the computer is on. Boot sector viruses can infect the boot sector of any floppy disk inserted in the machine, and on college campuses where lots of people share machines they spread like wildfire.

In general, both executable and boot sector viruses are not very threatening any more. The first reason for the decline has been the huge size of today’s programs. Nearly every program you buy today comes on a compact disc. Compact discs cannot be modified, and that makes viral infection of a CD impossible. The programs are so big that the only easy way to move them around is to buy the CD. People certainly can’t carry applications around on a floppy disk like they did in the 1980s, when floppies full of programs were traded like baseball cards. Boot sector viruses have also declined because operating systems now protect the boot sector.

Both boot sector viruses and executable viruses are still possible, but they are a lot harder now and they don’t spread nearly as quickly as they once could. Call it “shrinking habitat,” if you want to use a biological analogy. The environment of floppy disks, small programs and weak operating systems made these viruses possible in the 1980s, but that environmental niche has been largely eliminated by huge executables, unchangeable CDs and better operating system safeguards.

E-mail Viruses
The latest thing in the world of computer viruses is the e-mail virus, and the Melissa virus in March 1999 was spectacular. Melissa spread in Microsoft Word documents sent via e-mail, and it worked like this:

Someone created the virus as a Word document uploaded to an Internet newsgroup. Anyone who downloaded the document and opened it would trigger the virus. The virus would then send the document (and therefore itself) in an e-mail message to the first 50 people in the person’s address book. The e-mail message contained a friendly note that included the person’s name, so the recipient would open the document thinking it was harmless. The virus would then create 50 new messages from the recipient’s machine. As a result, the Melissa virus was the fastest-spreading virus ever seen! As mentioned earlier, it forced a number of large companies to shut down their e-mail systems.
The ILOVEYOU virus, which appeared on May 4, 2000, was even simpler. It contained a piece of code as an attachment. People who double clicked on the attachment allowed the code to execute. The code sent copies of itself to everyone in the victim’s address book and then started corrupting files on the victim’s machine. This is as simple as a virus can get. It is really more of a Trojan horse distributed by e-mail than it is a virus.

The Melissa virus took advantage of the programming language built into Microsoft Word called VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications. It is a complete programming language and it can be programmed to do things like modify files and send e-mail messages. It also has a useful but dangerous auto-execute feature. A programmer can insert a program into a document that runs instantly whenever the document is opened. This is how the Melissa virus was programmed. Anyone who opened a document infected with Melissa would immediately activate the virus. It would send the 50 e-mails, and then infect a central file called NORMAL.DOT so that any file saved later would also contain the virus! It created a huge mess.

Microsoft applications have a feature called Macro Virus Protection built into them to prevent this sort of thing. With Macro Virus Protection turned on (the default option is ON), the auto-execute feature is disabled. So when a document tries to auto-execute viral code, a dialog pops up warning the user. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what macros or macro viruses are, and when they see the dialog they ignore it, so the virus runs anyway. Many other people turn off the protection mechanism. So the Melissa virus spread despite the safeguards in place to prevent it.

In the case of the ILOVEYOU virus, the whole thing was human-powered. If a person double-clicked on the program that came as an attachment, then the program ran and did its thing. What fueled this virus was the human willingness to double-click on the executable.

An Ounce of Prevention
You can protect yourself against viruses with a few simple steps:
• If you are truly worried about traditional (as opposed to e-mail) viruses, you should be running a secure operating system like UNIX or Windows NT. You never hear about viruses on these operating systems because the security features keep viruses (and unwanted human visitors) away from your hard disk.
• If you are using an unsecured operating system, then buying virus protection software is a nice safeguard.
• If you simply avoid programs from unknown sources (like the Internet), and instead stick with commercial software purchased on CDs, you eliminate almost all of the risk from traditional viruses. In addition, you should disable floppy disk booting — most computers now allow you to do this, and that will eliminate the risk of a boot sector virus coming in from a floppy disk accidentally left in the drive.
• You should make sure that Macro Virus Protection is enabled in all Microsoft applications, and you should NEVER run macros in a document unless you know what they do. There is seldom a good reason to add macros to a document, so avoiding all macros is a great policy.

• In the case of the ILOVEYOU e-mail virus, the only defense is a personal discipline. You should never double-click on an attachment that contains an executable that arrives as an e-mail attachment. Attachments that come in as Word files (.DOC), spreadsheets (.XLS), images (.GIF and .JPG), etc., are data files and they can do no damage (noting the macro virus problem in Word and Excel documents mentioned above). A file with an extension like EXE, COM or VBS is an executable, and an executable can do any sort of damage it wants. Once you run it, you have given it permission to do anything on your machine. The only defense is to never run executables that arrive via e-mail.

Communicating Vision in Your Workplace

A good vision taps deeply seated emotions. It stirs people, kindles their passion and propels them forward. But visions don’t just appear, and organizations don’t gather around them automatically. This is the job of a leader and it’s one of the most important aspects of leadership.

Equally important, however, is the job of communicating a vision once it’s created. In fact, leaders are taught to stop at nothing in unfolding their vision to the organization. The conventional view is that, regardless of the situation, the vision has to be in front of people. If not, the organization will fail to achieve its goals.

But what about organizations in crisis, which over time have become severely battered by change? Should leaders communicate the vision as they have before? Our research and client experience suggest not.

When an organization is suffering from acute change fatigue, vision can become non-value added noise. If the climate is strained severely enough, more vision is like thunder when the organization needs rain.

In order to understand why, let’s first review how a vision works. Second, let’s examine the case of a severely change-battered organization, noting the effects of communicating vision in that context. Finally, let’s consider three suggestions for communicating from a change-battered context.

How a Vision Works

A vision fills two important functions. One is emotional, the other cognitive.

The primary emotional function of a vision is to motivate. Vision provides the crucial performance motive beyond the survival instinct. It does this by showing people an attractive place to go and reason to go there. It’s a portrayal of the future, an aspiration, a direction painted in bold strokes. Simply knowing the grand intention of an enterprise often motivates people towards it.
A second emotional function of a vision is to provide security. Under conditions of change, vision compensates for the chill winds of uncertainty. By giving employees something to hold on to, it acts as proxy for the comfort of the status quo when you have to leave it. It provides much-needed continuity to an organization when that organization is deliberately disturbed.
The cognitive function of a vision works differently. It provides information and direction in order to allocate resources and set priorities. As a practical matter, a vision increases an organization’s capacity to perform work by creating the coordinated action necessary to produce and deliver goods and services.

For its cognitive function, a vision is the ultimate economy of scale. A clear and compelling vision answers thousands of questions, guides employees in thousands of small decisions, and eliminates the ambiguity that might otherwise create the need for thousands of conversations. It is the mass production of commodity answers. Once communicated and understood, a vision lowers the unit costs of performing these functions. Of course, a vision leaves the detail out, so there are thousands more questions. But it provides the broad alignment that allows an organization to move quickly through basic issues of direction and priority in order to spend time and energy on strategic and tactical implementation. It is a packaged resource that allows people in many cases to direct themselves. It organizes assumptions, values, words, actions, and resources. It informs strategy, systems, and structure.

Without vision, organizations tend to suffer from both emotional and cognitive deficits that are reflected in lower productivity and poor execution.

Vision and Context

In spite of its power, vision remains highly sensitive to context, especially when the context is a change-battered one.

Consider the real case of a large steel fabricator that we shall call Titan Manufacturing. In succession, this organization traveled through labor unrest, reductions in force, the installation of a new enterprise computing system, a severe market downturn, the commissioning of new capital assets, and Chapter Eleven bankruptcy. During these events, senior leaders continued to communicate a vision of becoming the low-cost producer in the industry.

Every time the CEO stood up to regale employees with the vision, morale cratered more. In the context of so much debilitating change, the vision could not perform its cognitive, much less its emotional, function. Because Titan bore the impress of the accumulated traumas, the vision actually weakened organizational resolve. Employees became less receptive to any message from management.

From a communications standpoint, the blanket directive that you can’t over-communicate was backfiring.

Acute Change Fatigue

Most organizations have reeled from the rigors of change. When a major change effort succeeds, employees find their weariness swallowed up in the positive results of the transformation. There is renewal. When the effort fails, the organization is set back.
Organizations are resilient so they usually come to balance again. But what about an organization like Titan that had already attempted transformational change several times? This is a vastly different starting point for leaders whose job it is to summon institutional will in order to meet business goals. This kind of change fatigue goes beyond normal corporate weariness. When an organization runs out of catalytic sources, it can become so severely impaired that serious threats to viability are drowned in a deeper affliction of unrelieved pessimism. Fatigue becomes acute. When an organization travels through a string of false starts, it can simply outrun its emotional resources. It reaches the point of maximum inertia. It becomes almost numb to crisis and draconian measures even though it is nearing business failure.

If psychologists diagnosed organizations the way they do people, Titan-like acute change fatigue would be a nearly terminal disorder, a psychology marked by a deep and intractable apathy and a near stock out of change capacity.

Of course every company experiences some failure in pursuing its most important initiatives, but when this continues over a sustained period of time, the weariness induced in the process deepens. Employees see no new beginning, no reception by happy stakeholders, and no rejuvenating evidence that the future is promising. Ironically, when you’re afflicted with acute change fatigue, you find yourself in the worst state of change readiness when you’re most in need of change.

Vision and Acute Change Fatigue

The case of Titan demonstrates that communicating a vision to a change-battered organization requires a different approach. Whenever an organization attempts major change, it puts leadership credibility and its store of social capital at risk. Organizations with acute change fatigue have already done so and paid the price of compounded failure. In this predicament, leaders can further damage their organizations if they subscribe to the common lore of communications theory that says to keep the vision out front.

At a certain point, vision falters. Rather than reach wellsprings of motivation, it can become de-motivating and dull the senses because it seems ever more out of reach.

The leaders at Titan didn’t see the impact of acute change fatigue on their organization, so they proceeded in communicating as if conditions were normal. Their instinct was to communicate the vision more. Yet the recent failures had seared fatigue into the corporate tissue. Employees responded stoically to an emotional call to arms. They turned off to critical strategic issues concerning future market position, new competition coming on-line, evolving technology, and tightening customer demands. They simply could not bring conviction to a new change imperative as a result of new rounds of messaging. No amount of thunder could water the crops.

In this case, we witnessed vision tone-deaf leaders persist in declamatory deliveries and appeals to emotion, thinking it would bring employees around.

The longer an organization experiences suspended results, the more survival becomes the vision. Survival is the only vision and retrenchment the only strategy with credibility if false starts have inoculated an organization against a higher aspiration. The power of a vision becomes disabled when it’s no longer imaginable. With acute change fatigue, employees once motivated by the magnetic force of vision become successively amused, bewildered, distressed, and finally sedated with such declarations. When leaders at Titan tried harder to communicate the vision, their desperate attempts rendered jaded employees even more frustrated.

Normally, organizations need the power of vision and a new identity to perform their way out. But if you’re change-battered, your organization may not have enough residual social capital to more forward.

Responding to Acute Change Fatigue

What can you do if your organization is battered with change and your attempts to communicate a vision are earning you sneers or howls of protest?

If your organization is suffering acute change fatigue, your vision may be non-value-added noise. It may be hurting your efforts to recover performance. In this situation, I suggest three things.

First, recognize the condition

Communications alone can’t build momentum. Leaders must acknowledge this and respond from this context. You can’t force the pace until results restore a measure of credibility — credibility in both leadership and the change effort itself, which are now bound together.

Unfortunately, conventional wisdom still places too much emphasis on communication volume, channels, stylistic variables, and visionary content, as if they were a standard prescription. Tweaking these things as a matter of artistic difference doesn’t cut it. It’s more fundamental.

Second, dim the vision

If an organization is suffering from acute change fatigue, survival will assume its place as the de facto. Everyone gets that. Unless the organization can pull through the current crisis, the original vision stays suspended. So for this simple reason—that the original vision is no longer the incumbent vision, I suggest a partial dimming of the lights. Taken out of context, this suggestion might seem not only counter-intuitive but also dangerous, yet a temporary brownout of vision is usually what the organization needs to allow it to focus. It’s more harmful to persist in the old vision when everyone knows it’s at least temporarily irrelevant. A survival message is the vision no matter what leaders say.
In addition to dimming the old vision, leaders should also look at the rest of their messages. Other messages that are based in or related to the old vision may need to be defrocked as well. Specifically, where messages contain visionary elements, grand intentions, and sweeping goals, they may need to be reduced in emotion and promotion.

This doesn’t mean leaders create a void to spawn the rumor mill. Radio silence is just as dangerous. Blackouts force organizations to slip into speculation and even lower productivity. People should never be left to wonder. The focus and energy that normally goes to strategic communication needs to be redirected to issues of tactical and operational execution.

Third, focus on tactics

When crisis makes survival the vision, the leadership imperative is to focus employee effort on measurable execution. In times of acute change fatigue, employees typically expend enormous amounts of time and energy worrying about the situation. If leaders can engage their discretionary efforts, the organization stands a higher chance of making progress and performing its way out. This means top leadership has to lower its communication from strategy to tactics and operations. It has to focus on specific, measurable goals. It should communicate in numbers more than it did before as it emphasizes the importance of concrete measures of performance.

So what happened at Titan? Senior leadership redirected its communication to focus almost exclusively on weekly operating metrics. It honed in on, for instance, the company’s on-time delivery performance, which had suffered badly in previous months. While browning out vision, leadership turned the lights up on actual-versus-targeted performance reporting. It wasn’t necessarily inspiring, but the employees settled down and began coalescing around this emphasis. It channeled their attention and aligned their efforts.

With unprecedented, almost shop-floor level, attention from leadership, the company achieved a rapid step change improvement in on-time performance and several other operating metrics that allowed it to slowly but steadily climb out of its state of fatigue and poor performance.

Broader Implications
The underlying principle is that it becomes increasingly difficult to lead with vision when reality isn’t changing. When an organization is sputtering during any long stretch of anemic results, leaders should think about how receptive people are to the vision. If the organization finds itself in a long hard slog, interspersed with extended periods of undetected progress, it’s time to examine vision communication. Chances are that leadership needs to dim the vision and focus its communication on execution and concrete measures of performance.

Where Do Average People Find Business Success?

At some point, the realization becomes painfully clear that a job will never provide the time-freedom or the income many dream of. Some are inspired to take action, chase the dream, and start a business that can change their life.

Whilst millions make the attempt at chasing their dream and empowering their lives with success, the blunt and honest truth is that 95% of them still revert back to the job lifestyle too quickly.

What really happens here? Let’s take an honest look.
Especially now, with the extraordinary growth of the Internet, new business opportunities appear almost daily. A few represent true, long-term opportunities that some people WILL be able to take advantage of. Sadly, most will be a waste of time and money. YOUR time and money!

However, it’s not only the quality of the opportunity that threatens success. There’s another part to this equation. Too many people have not overcome their own born and bred limits to find real success, regardless of how good the opportunity may really be.

They hop from one opportunity to another, blaming the lack of success on the previous opportunity’s payout plan or company support… when in fact, the opportunity may have been as sound as a pound. What they need to change is THEMSELVES. Their own attitudes. That little voice inside each and every one of us. Frequently, it is impatient attitudes and non-productive behaviors that make business success almost impossible to many.
Despite these obstacles, there ARE average, everyday people who achieve a terrific level of success developing their own businesses. What have they learned that allows this?

What balance between choosing a good business opportunity and having a success attitude have they achieved?

Here are four reasons why too many people fail… And more importantly, here are four ways that YOU can align yourself for true success. The majority of businesses and networkers fail over and over again because of just four problems:

1) Most people have never been taught how to manage their business or their personal finances.
Most ‘wanna-be’ business people would NEVER even consider submitting their resume for the CEO position of a company. Yet they hire themselves as the CEO of their own business without a second thought.

2) Most people cannot effectively sell, recruit or train.
Second only to a lack of good business training, more people fail in all types of businesses because they can not effectively sell their product or services and they are not effective at training their team.

No matter how smart you are or how hard you work, we each have limits. To expand on those limits, what’s required is for us to train others to work the same system. That way, when we’ve “maxed out” our own potential, we can introduce HUNDREDS more to do the same, literally multiplying our efforts drastically.

3) Most people cannot survive five or six months of negative cash flow.
And sometimes, that’s required.
The traditional pay plans of most business opportunities can not and do not work for the vast majority of people. That is not only a mathematical fact it is also a historical fact. And it’s reflecting on your paycheck!

4) Most people are driven by MONEY when they really need to be driven by a MISSION… it’s all about developing motivation that stays with you throughout your life… goals and ambitions that you can work on solidly.
Individuals can move mountains when motivated by a real passion for things more noble than money. The passion to help others produces the energy and creativity of greatness. The money will inevitably follow very closely behind.

So What WILL Work For Most People (Including yourself!)?
Any business should be able to tell their story by sticking with understandable facts that appeal to your common sense. In contrast, get-rich-quick programs will use hype and exaggeration. Don’t buy into the sales hype.. use your head.

You will not have a problem recognizing an income opportunity that is very special and moreover, very real. It will be logical and simple to understand. It will hit you in the face, like a breath of fresh air. However…
* You MUST Get Competitive Leverage! *

For too many people, almost all business opportunities “sound good.” Some ARE good ideas, but they won’t work for the average person because they lack vital competitive advantages. Here are five examples to help you understand.

If you want to level the playing field so that you can be really competitive, then demand state-of-the-art
technology. It can provide you with superior, time-saving methods by which to sell, recruit and train. Without this, there are never enough hours to get it all done.

Look for a company that has taken control of all the essential elements that need to be duplicated in order to achieve significant and sustainable growth.
Do NOT allow yourself to be caught up in all the sales hype. If you break the laws of good business, they will break you!

One of the biggest mistakes made by most wanna-be business people is they join programs that guarantee many, many months of negative cash flow.
The average person simply cannot survive this. For this reason, and others, it is absolutely essential that your primary business program creates an environment for survival for the average person.

Significant growth depends on a very large pool of potential customers and business associates. If this same program does NOT compete with other programs, all the better.

When average people get serious about building a business, they do their homework. They look for honest information and ask hard questions about what the company stands for and what they do to fully support the efforts of a new enrollee. If you can find an opportunity that meets these criteria for competitive leverage, you will know you are on to something good.

Likewise, if you recognize that one or more of the four reasons most people fail in building a business, then get honest with yourself about how you can correct this. MAKE SURE it won’t happen again. Average people, many like you, have faced these truths about business and success, and gone on to make dreams come true.

Like every other successful business person, your success will start with an attitude of “I CAN do it too!”

Because in all honesty, YOU CAN.

Your Business Resume

Your Business Resume

Anil Mahajan

During the protectionist times of 45 years there was short supply syndrome ruling the market. I remember my father booked a bajaj scooter for me when I was 6 years old so that I get it after a waiting period of 18 years hopefully before my marriage. But, with capitalism spreading itself under the garb of liberalization, competition is taking strong roots. Every service, including political parties, has the tendency of becoming a Commodity.

And it is imperative for a commodity to move up the value added chain towards branding…

In the job market, the first brunt of liberalization was borne by candidates. To outwit the competition, companies suddenly realized they need the best professionals to remain on top or sufficiently away from the bottom. Kumbhakarana awakened.

The Biodata became dead. The Resume took over. Family background or royal lineage took a back seat. Skills suddenly were in demand.

For presentation style & effective copywriting, resume writers entered the market.

Brand building became important to job seekers too. Unfortunately, a plethora of obnoxious & purposeless websites on jobs started. 2-minute resumes (frying of a thorough professional in 2-minutes flat/ crash-course fad for definite death) entered the market & became passé’ in English & paasse’ in Punjabi. 2-minute resumes created more problems than they solved. Dude or baby CV writers or fresher / trainees started writing resumes of senior professionals from the backdrop & anonymity offered by big jobsites. This kind of wierdo performances or screwing of a professional’s profile & all essentially money making gimmicks/ fly-by-night initiatives taken by big jobsites created a bitter taste in the job market.

Capitalism is ruthless & spells death to those who are not able to promote themselves. The internet has made competition tough for everybody. If you are a placement consultant you have rest of the world to ward off or you will be in a soup. If you are a call center company, the candidate is the interviewer too & you have to be appealing & attractive enough to cajole him to send his resume to you. Before the candidate sends his resume to you, it is you, the company, who has to prepare a corporate Business Resume with power words & send it to candidates by actually publishing it in the “Ascent” pullout of “The Times of India” or host it in the form of a Flash or DHTML based beautiful company website. This website whether it belongs to a company, a placement consultant or a contractor is meticulously made & hosted as a Business Resume / online portfolio.

So, cheer up, dear candidate, you are not alone in making a resume. When the company is spending so much of its time in making a great resume to promote itself to all the prospective employees like you as the BEST EMPLOYER, it is natural that you should get your resume prepared by a equally good copywriter as a Great marketing tool.

Now why in hell this Business Resume Talk? (Hell! I am NOT a Placement Consultant…NOR a Housekeeping Contractor…NOR a BPO Company- I don’t need a business resume!)

But you do. A Business Resume can be aptly called a Portfolio. A portfolio lets you dazzle potential clients (prospective employers) with your capabilities and achievements by providing shining or glorious examples of your work. A portfolio’s contents depend on your industry, but may include examples of your work, references, testimonials, a client list, media or press clippings, awards and other evidence of your professional accomplishments. Like the portfolio for a model it should show a leg or a bit of flesh but the flesh should be sizzling enough to get an assignment for the model or called for discussion by the filmmaker. Only a great leg is shown.

The rules of the game are simple. If you have great assets, FLAUNT them. You have to be beautiful & bold too to show the entire world that you are beautiful. Localize the places where you are well endowed & showcase them. Tell the entire world in no uncertain words that you are a great head or a great leg or a headhunter or whatever.

It is relief that Job seekers need one & only one kind of resume targeted at companies, unlike companies. Placement consultants need 2 different types of Business Resume- one for the prospective client companies & the second one targeted at job seekers cajoling them to send their resume. Similarly, companies need more than 3 kinds of Business resume. One targeted at job seekers, another targeted at prospective consumers (marketing people call business resume as corporate marketing materials. These include brochures, business cards, letterhead, Web sites and demos etc.) & One targeted at prospective investors in Dalal street or elsewhere or banks.

We have much so much to discuss on this issue. Watch out for the next issue.

Technology Business Incubation– a novel approach to business development

Technology Business Incubation

– a novel approach to business development

Courtesy Jobnet Magazine

The globalisation process is moving up the R&D value chain and in this direction the present objective is to encourage higher value addition activities and preservation of natural resources through the development and application of high technologies such as biotechnology, new materials; computers, telecommunications and information techniques and systems, micro-electronics, etc. Creation of completely new industries requires the application of knowledge intensive innovative technologies. To apply innovative technologies, the results of original basic research need to be properly nurtured in a favourable environment. In India, a major effort has been made in the past to support basic research covering a wide range of fields. As a next step, the “incubation” stage should follow where potentials of new industries are studied. The next step should follow an “innovation stage”, which helps new industries to grow on a larger commercial scale. In this “Innovation process”, focus is given to specific high tech industries. In this direction, the “Technology Incubator” has a crucial role to play.

A Business Incubator may be defined as an organisation which offers a range of business development services and access to small space on flexible terms, to meet the need of new start-up companies. The package of services offered by a business incubator is designed to enhance the success and growth rates of the incubating companies. Business Incubators envisage a systematic approach to new enterprise development, which can be described as consisting of the following dimensions:

• Enterprise development;
• A business and technical consultancy network;
• Entrepreneurial synergy;
• Flexible affordable working space;
• Technical Infrastructure; and
• Shared office services

These six dimensions describe the purpose, benefit, design and management of business incubators. These dimensions work together to provide the unique defining character of a business incubation programme. In a Technology Business Incubator, the focus is on developing knowledge based companies in the emerging areas of technology.

The JSS Mahavidyapeetha through the JSS Academy of Technical Education, NOIDA promotes an IT Business Incubator with financial support from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The Academy has been established in a sprawling campus of 28 acres in the institutional area of NOIDA. The proximity to the industrial area and the Software Technology Park (STPI) ensures healthy interaction with industries and access to high-class infrastructural facilities for the establishment of IT related companies.


The mission of IT Business Incubator is to create an entrepreneurial culture among the students and faculty, and to promote technology-based start-up companies in the region to maximise their impact on economic development.


1. To provide a managed workspace with low cost office facilities and business and professional services necessary for nurturing and supporting early stage growth of technologies and technology based enterprises.
2. To cover some of the risks involved in the early stages of incubation of technologies and enterprises particularly in the area of emerging technologies.
3. To provide various forms of business planning and managerial advice, finance and accounting, access to business networks, legal services and other value addition to the business.
4. To generate sustainable income for the incubator to plough back in supporting more & more incubates, there by net wealth creation for the country.

HR as Product Be the Brand of Choice

HR as Product Be the Brand of Choice

It is time for Human Resources practitioners to rethink their role and that of the HR department, not only for the purposes of contributing to the organization’s bottom line, but also for their own survival. HR continues to balance the demands of several different roles: business partner, internal consultant, operational and administrative expert and both employee and employer advocate. This may sound like business as usual, roles that aren’t likely to create a mad rush of HR people arming themselves for the future.

In reality, however, they are new. Although the questions may be the same, the answers most assuredly are not. The ongoing challenge is to establish new deliverables and to sustain strong partnerships with both internal and external customers. The ability to see the big picture-and to deploy the resources to address the big picture-will be more important than ever.

If you were to ask your employees today, “What does the HR Department do?” would they mutter something unintelligible to you and make a run for it? If that is the case, your human resources department needs to rethink its role and do some in-house marketing, marketing research and public relations. First, you need to ask yourself some important questions: ” Do you know what your HR department’s reputation is among the employees? When HR is mentioned, do managers picture savvy strategists, backward bureaucrats, or pleasant, people-pleasers? ” Do employees understand and appreciate the importance of the HR
department in furthering the organization’s mission and objectives? ” Does the HR department make an effort to market its services to the organization? If it does not, then it has the reputation it deserves. You can, however, easily correct this reputation. The key is to open up conversations with all levels of employees, and present yourself in the role of facilitator instead of enforcer. You have to get out of the HR office and into the world of your organization’s employees. Finding these answers requires dialogue, which means that HR must communicate. That communication must consist of equal parts of listening and promotion. First, HR must listen carefully to what its customers need. Then it must promote what it has done and can do. HR staff must educate the organization about its capabilities and potential contributions. No one knows your capabilities as well as you do.

Employees, for the most part, still see HR as “those people who handle benefits and do interviewing.” To position the HR function for the next decade, every HR practitioner need s to take on a public relations role-starting with your own employees. Think of yourself as a product and do some smart marketing.

During the past few years, HR has worked hard at educating senior management about the value it adds to the organization. Managers and employees are less familiar with HR’s new role as business partner. Increasingly, these internal constituents will need to embrace the importance of the HR function. It won’t be easy, but ongoing communication, and actually meeting the organization’s real and expressed needs, will help HR earn respect throughout the organization.
The marketing of the HR department requires you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills, so others will know you do much more than simply process papers. The best form of advertising is the actions you take. By your actions, processes and programs, you can promote the HR department as a flexible, adaptable, solutions-oriented partner, a resource to whom the organization can turn when it needs problems solved.

According to Shari Caudron in her article Brand HR: Why and How to Market Your Image, “If you want HR to be perceived as more strategic, more valuable, more credible more whatever, you need to start thinking like a business with a product and market your overall brand image.” As organizations continue to outsource non-value-added activities, HR is facing competition from outside vendors. If HR practitioners do not strive to build up the profession’s overall image and reputation, they will lose services to organizations that understand what customer service and accountability are all about. These are Caudron’s eight
great tips for building and enhancing the HR department’s image and reputation. Identify your customer’s needs and perceptions. The first step in creating or enhancing a brand identity is to determine who your customers are and what they need from the HR function. You will also want to know your customers’ current perceptions of the HR department. Begin this process by identifying your customers. Are your primary customers executive managers, line managers or the entire workforce? What products and services do they use from HR? What would they like to receive from HR? Do they use HR services from outside HR
vendors, and if so, why? How do they perceive the internal HR department?

HR departments could conduct employee attitude surveys to obtain answers
to these questions, but to get truthful and more useful information, Caudron suggests it is worthwhile to hire an outside consultant to conduct the interviews in private. She states, “employees would more likely state their true feelings about HR if they are guaranteed anonymity.”

It is important to conduct this type of analysis, to understand the difference between what you are providing and think your organization wants from you, and what they say they need. In today’s organizations, there are so many perceptions about what role HR should play. HR conducts so many activities…training, recruitment, personal welfare, salary and bonus, and a whole range of other concerns, that “HR brand” development is challenging. In order to correct this, HR practitioners must research their current “brand” to figure out where they stand. Craft an identity based on customer needs.

Cauldron says that after you determine the needs and current perceptions
of your existing customers, you can decide how you would like your customers to perceive the HR department. It is important to note that the function of the HR department will differ from organization to organization. In one organization, internal customers may want the HR department to provide great service in all of the traditional HR areas. In others, customers may expect HR to take responsibility for productivity and growth. You have to decide what “brand” identity works best for your particular culture and then work to create a mission
statement and organization that supports that identity. As another example, in your organization, it may make sense to outsource routine tasks such as payroll processing so that the remaining HR staff can concentrate on more strategic matters. To achieve a solid brand identity, you cannot be all things to all people.
You can try, but you will fail in the eyes of significant numbers of your customers.

Develop a mission statement that resonates with meeting customer needs. Having determined your identity, Caudron suggests taking the time to design a mission statement that will guide you through the changes and improvements that you need to make. The mission statement should define the HR function, the values and core principles the department will uphold, and the benefit HR expects to provide to the rest of the organization. For example, the Los Angeles County HR Department’s mission statement follows:

“To provide a human resources program that carries out Board priorities for a comprehensive and equitable County personnel system; To assist departments in developing and maintaining a high quality workforce, enabling them to provide critical services to the public; To establish Countywide policies and provide monitoring and oversight necessary to ensure consistent application of human resource policies, including recruitment, selection, promotions, training, discipline, employee benefits administration, workforce reductions, classification, compensation, employee appeals and disability benefits; and To ensure fair and equitable job and promotional opportunities and services for both current employees and individuals seeking employment with the County of Los Angeles.” It is important to have a mission statement as it helps define your future goals and direction. The mission should not be empty rhetoric. It is a charter that outlines the HR pledge to the rest of the organization. Deliver your promises. Supposing, based on your customer input, the HR department needs to improve its customer service and supportiveness. This might require hiring more employees, empowering the receptionist to make decisions, or conducting team-building sessions. Customers want you to be more responsive. Caudron recommends that since forging your new identity means delivering a promise, you must ensure that the staff, practices and systems in your department all work to support the goal of customer service. Staff your department with people who are easy to work with and who are willing go the extra mile for line managers. Deliver what you promise in your mission statement.

Update your image.
Few consumer products are packaged without a distinctive logo and type
of packaging. Can you imagine mistaking a can of Pepsi for a can of
Coca-Cola? A bottle of Coors for a Bud Light? These companies understand
that the look of their products communicates powerful messages to
consumers. The same applies to HR. If your HR department has made substantial improvements and changes, then you can use the packaging as a means of communicating those improvements to others. Develop a separate logo for your HR department, if you’d like, that expresses your mission, your
commitment to customers, and your goals. The most important packaging
piece, however, is the HR department itself. If you want your HR brand to deliver the message of quality service, ensure that visitors to the department get what they need, with no hassle, friction, or needless hoops to navigate. You can spend millions of dollars redesigning your department and developing a logo, but if the
people in HR are impossible to deal with, you have accomplished nothing
in the eyes of your organization.

Spread the word.
After you have determined your identity, created a system in which you
can consistently deliver on your promises, and packaged the HR department in a manner that conveys improvements, Cauldron suggests it is time to “toot your horn.” For example, if you want human resources perceived as a strategic partner, take the time to quantify the strategic impact of a recent HR program or decision. Communicate this impact in board meetings, through your organization’s newsletter, your Website or Intranet, or by developing special HR performance reports. The key objective, for positive notoriety, is to back up the overall message with hard data and specific success stories.

Enhance your visibility.
Another good marketing technique for HR, not only inside your organization, but also to the human resources world at large, is to publish articles in magazines and speak at HR seminars or conferences. This validates the internal changes you have madeand may capture the attention and interest of your management group. You can heighten this visibility within your organization by including the program-specific managers and employees in the article or at the conference podium with you. Professionals love hearing from “real people” and they will spread the good word for you in your organization. Continuously improve. Keep on keeping on. Just as in the business world, where companies have to continuously review, revisit, and update their brands to meet customers’ changing needs, so this advice applies to HR. In the rapidly changing world of
business, the HR profession must regularly be willing to make tough decisions about what it will and will not stand for. Every HR professional can craft initiatives using the same toolbox. The best will try new things, challenge conventional wisdom, and ask more questions more often.

With careful attention to forging an identity, your HR department can learn to provide what your internal and external customers expect. Your organization will love you and your HR staff members will take their place as “players,” making a difference in the real world of your organization.

Improving Communications with Your Boss

Communicating with your boss is one of the most important things you will ever have to do at work. It may not be listed on your duty statement, but we all know that if we cannot establish good on-going communications with our manager then chances are that our working life will not be as rewarding as it should be. In fact, work could turn out to be a real disappointment.

Whilst good communications require the cooperation of both parties, sometimes it falls upon the employee to initiate an improvement. What follows is a list of practical tips that will help you improve your communication with your boss and hopefully make your work life a lot more enjoyable and productive.
Good communications are frequent.

If you and your boss are not communicating on a regular basis chances are that misunderstandings and mistakes will emerge. It’s in your interest, therefore, to try to set up regular meetings with your boss where important issues and expectations are clarified. These meeting do not have to be long or official. They just have to be regular. This way potential problems can be identified early rather than allowing them to escalate.

Make sure your boss delegates work clearly.
One of the most common sources of communication problems is employees misunderstanding what their bosses expect of them. Often this happens because the boss is too busy to take the time to explain things properly. Next time your boss gives you work be sure he/she provides you with enough detail so you know exactly what’s expected of you. Be sure that you clarify issues such as deadlines, quality of work, money and resources to be used.

Running good meetings.
It’s important that your meetings are run in a way in which everyone gets a fair say and that people are encouraged to disagree in an open and constructive way. If your boss, or other individuals, are dominating meetings and/or intimidating people you may wish, when the time is appropriate, to raise this issue in the spirit of improved communications. If you do this, be sure you avoid making negative or inflammatory remarks. For example, instead of saying: “I don’t think you’re doing a good job running our meetings,” you could say, “I think I know of way in which we can get more out of our meetings”.

Avoid letting problems fester inside of you.
It’s generally much healthier to bring problems out in the open where they can be acknowledged and worked on. Good communicators are open about their work related issues. The key is to avoid saying things in a way that might unnecessarily provoke people. Using “I” statements can be very helpful here. For example, instead of saying: “I can’t stand the way you talk to me,” you can say, “Every time you raise your voice at me, I feel threatened. Then I can’t do my work properly. Can we talk about getting to a solution?”

Be very aware of your body language. Research shows that we communicate much more via our body language than we think. It’s self-defeating to use positive verbal language if your body language is negative. Negative body language usually comes from feeling bad. So, try to stay positive. There may be times when you think that will be hard to do but it’s exactly during those difficult times that you need to use your powers of discipline to maintain a positive disposition. Remember that your boss will immediately pick up your negativity via your body language. Good communicators possess the discipline to overcome their immediate emotions for the longer term good.