Versalytics - Lean Execution - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Desk Jockey Leaders – Where Did That Come From?

October 27, 2013 Leave a comment
desk jockey

desk jockey (Photo credit: notorious d.a.v.)

The inspiration that tipped the scales and served as a motivator to write about Desk Jockey “Leaders” came from a headline that appeared on the front page of Friday’s edition of the Toronto Sun (October 25, 2013):

“Despite $862M repair backlog, housing boss says: I need a bigger office! – Keeping Up With the Jones – TCHC Eyes $2-Million Reno to Rosedale HQ”

I would like to think that when people are struggling to survive with the most basic necessities of daily living, renovating the offices of the very corporation that’s helping them would be the last thing on everyone’s mind.

At least one city councillor echoed the voice of reason stating, “I don’t think it’s something we can justify to either the taxpayer of the City of Toronto or our tenant base.” I’m certain this statement also resonates with most people who read the accompanying article.

The CEO of the TCHC (Toronto Community Housing Corporation) suggested that a more professional environment would be more appealing to visitors and tenants and a larger office could be used to host meetings.

I would suggest that focusing on the purpose of the corporation’s existence is first and foremost. Could it be that some people have decided to make a career out of an ever-growing problem that should never have risen to the scope and scale that it has

Whatever hardships the CEO and fellow TCHC employees must endure to perform their work could hardly compare to the conditions that the tenants must live with each and every day.

What could make this any worse? Knowing that our Liberal government wasted $1.1 Billion to cancel the construction of two gas plants – a decision that was sure to win them a few more seats in the last provincial election. No one is accountable and no one is responsible. Unfortunately, the one’s who suffer most are the taxpayers who fund it all.

As I complete this follow-up, there is some good news. The CEO of the TCHC has withdrawn the motion to renovate their headquarters. Maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel after all.

Two of my greatest pet peeves are working with people who 1) attempt to manage everything behind their desk , and 2) believe meetings are the answer to resolve everything else that can’t. This article presented a CEO who was planning to do both – in the same office!

As many quickly discover, being a desk jockey “leader” simply just doesn’t work.

Desk Jockey “Leaders”

October 26, 2013 1 comment
English: A desk in an office.

English: A desk in an office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Behind The Desk

For some people, being bound to a desk is an inherent and perhaps unfortunate part of the work they do. But, the last place I would expect to find a lean leader is sitting behind their desk.

I recognize the need for an office and understand that managing a business does require some desk time. However, it’s amazing how some “leaders” think that that’s what it takes to run a business. If you started and run your own business, you know otherwise.

To be in touch with your business is to spend time on the front lines, with your customers,  walking the floor, and simply being with your team – not just when you think they need you. Personally, I like to see and understand what is happening directly at the source. This is not to suggest that we interfere with the normal flow of operations or bypass the hierarchy of people who are running the operation. Rather, it is an opportunity to learn what is going on first hand so we can have a meaningful discussion to make improvements or to resolve any concerns as they arise.

The Desk Jockey

Desk Jockeys, on the other hand, rely on the steady stream of paper flowing through their office, looking for discrepancies or anomalies that don’t align with their expectations. Upon discovery, desk jockeys call the responsible person or persons to their office and proceed to explain the problem and offer solutions to them without really knowing what happened.

Desk Setup June 2009

Desk Setup June 2009 (Photo credit: Trevor Manternach)

If there isn’t enough paper already, desk jockey leaders have a niche for creating more. Attempts to justify their reasons for doing so further exposes their lack of knowledge on what it means to really manage and lead their teams.

We can’t assume the system is working simply because the paperwork is correctly completed. If the system is working, does that mean the physical process is working correctly too? Furthermore, could it be that the system itself is fundamentally flawed to begin with?

No Accident

Of course, desk jockey “leaders” didn’t get their titles by accident. They have a wealth of experience – at least that’s what they tell me – that brought them to their current level of success. It’s interesting to note that I hear this more from “first time” leaders who, sooner or later, learn why it may also be their “last time” leading.

A desk Jockey may also be a “know it all” or “know about”, leaving their teams to suffer and sweat through the issues so they can fend and “learn for themselves”. Almost as though rising to the challenge will make them stronger in the long run. I can picture the analogy well – the baby chick breaking out of its shell to discover the world because to help the chick is to make it weaker than those that did it for themselves.

It’s Just NOT Lean

Desk jockey “leaders” are not fully engaged with the reality that exists within their business. If you’re wondering why morale is low and your team is not engaged, it’s very likely that you’re not engaged with them. Strangely, desk jockeys share the same frustrations as their teams. They just don’t know it.

If you’re an expert, share your knowledge and skills. If you’re not, then you have all the more reason to get out from behind the desk and learn. Having the right answers isn’t going to solve all of your problems but asking the right questions will certainly help to bring you closer.

If our mission is “To deliver the highest quality product or service at the lowest possible cost in the shortest amount of time”, then writing reports for quality deficiencies, cost overruns, or missed deliveries is a strong indication that a problem exists – not behind the desk, but in the operation itself. Meetings and reports are best replaced by real hands on root cause analysis and problem solving that is only effective at the source.

Cell phones, tablets, laptops and other technologies make it possible to conduct business from wherever you are. Run your business from the place that matters most, not your desk. As for me, if I spend 10% of my time in the office, I’ve been there far too long.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or email us at LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics

It’s Time to Celebrate! Happy Thanksgiving Canada

October 14, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada and I want to thank you – our valued subscribers, contributors, and visitors – for your continued support.  This is also a day where we turn to family and friends to celebrate and share the many things that we are thankful for.

I am also reminded that we need to be thankful for the people who help to make our successes a reality.  A successful outcome or “win” may be cause for celebration, however, we should also take the time to celebrate the very people that help to make them possible.

Over the past few years I have been working with a company that is going through a significant transformation and expansion. Installing equipment on the coldest days of winter and the hottest days of summer will quickly become fond memories and yet another opportunity to be thankful for.

Thank you for visiting and have a happy thanksgiving.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics

Leadership – Get Thirsty …

July 7, 2013 Leave a comment
Horses drinking from a fountain in Central Park

Horses drinking from a fountain in Central Park (Photo credit: tiseb)

We are likely to find as many definitions for leadership as there are leaders. I recently downloaded an excellent app titled “Leadership Development” from Apple’s App Store and this definition of leadership was presented in one of the many videos:

“Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.”

ADP 6-22

While the expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” may be true for some, true leaders recognize and understand the value of making the horse thirsty enough to want to drink on his own.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics

Leadership is NOT an Event

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment
Leadership

Leadership (Photo credit: glennharper)

We’ve all been to the employee “town hall” meetings where a senior executive attempts to motivate the team and clarify the vision just one more time. A captive audience, donuts, and free coffee are all it takes to reignite the passion and synergy that once was – or so they like to think.

Leadership is not an event, it’s a lifestyle.

~ Redge.

Today’s leaders are present and involved in all facets of the business, tangible to every one, and their leadership traits are uniquely woven through the fabric of the operation that is equally reflected in their lifestyle.

To be a leader is to be yourself.

~ Redge

Leadership is not a play where actors pose as leaders who are “in character”. We can think of many examples where certain people who have assumed leadership roles (no pun intended) have seemingly been “caught off guard”. Real leaders who are true to themselves and those whom they serve seldom find themselves in such circumstances.

If you really want to motivate your team, be the leader that people can expect to see at any time, all the time, 365/24/7. Although actions may speak louder than words, leaders understand that the key to building trust and respect is ensuring that both are sending the same message! Earning the trust and respect of your team begins by being true to yourself – trusting and respecting yourself – first.

Character is who you are when no one is looking

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

While this may seem to be somewhat of an anomaly, fostering a culture of change requires constancy in leadership in what we do, how we think, and who we are at the very core of our being.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics

Collaboration …

February 4, 2013 1 comment
The Collaboration Experiment

The Collaboration Experiment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Great minds don’t necessarily think alike, they think together.

~ Redge

How many times have you heard someone say you should just set aside your differences and move on? I suggest that bringing our differences to the table is an opportunity to create something that is new and better than we ever imagined.

We tend to be quite content when someone shares our vision,thoughts, and ideas. While it’s a great feeling to be “on the same page” as everyone else in the room, it does little to expand our thinking beyond our immediate comfort zone.

Embracing our differences creates the opportunity to step outside the box and to create something that is greater than ourselves. I continue to be amazed by people outside of a given discipline who present ideas that are uninhibited by preconceived notions or specific expertise that would cause them to be suppressed.

Even more intriguing is the synergy that is created when great minds come together and create something that neither could have conceived as individuals. A lean culture is one where creativity is continually stimulated and permitted to flourish, all the while remaining focused on that ever elusive vision.

Often times resistance to change serves to improve and reinforce its necessity.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics

When Giants Rise … Again

January 21, 2013 1 comment
Blackberry 10 SDK

Blackberry 10 SDK (Photo credit: Dirk Songür)

Research In Motion (RIM) is making news for all the right reasons as of late – a sharp contrast from a short year ago. All of the reviews I’ve been reading thus far suggest that RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 is above and beyond expectations. The software technology has even been described by some as disruptive. Though the stakes remain high for both RIM and investors alike, strong prospects of a successful product launch are definitely encouraging.

Success will certainly help to re-establish RIM as a leader in a highly competitive smart phone market that they themselves created and at one time dominated. The competitive aspects of smart phones tend to focus as much, if not more, on technology than price. RIM’s BlackBerry 10 is poised to introduce radical changes to both hardware and software as depicted in the many “leaked” pictures and videos.

The number of available “apps” always seems to be a point of contention and a measure of “acceptance” by tablet and smart phone developers and users alike. Although the number of apps for the new BlackBerry 10 continues to grow at a rather astounding rate, I was even more encouraged to learn that RIM is more interested in quality not quantity.

Success will also give cause for many to reflect on RIM’s rebirth along the way. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Apple was once in a very similar position. Unlike Apple, however, there is no “Microsoft” to help RIM to get back on their feet. Perhaps, through all of this, RIM has already re-affirmed that some of life’s lessons we were taught growing up bear a greater significance on our future successes than we would have thought otherwise.

  • Focus – Strategy, vision, goals and objectives
  • Patience is a virtue – You can’t rush success
  • You have to believe it to see it – Stick to your vision
  • Don’t give up – Persistence to succeed, resistance to failure
  • No Noise – Eliminate distractions (real or perceived)

Lean execution is not a term I would use to describe RIM’s journey leading up to the launch of the BlackBerry 10, especially after missing several launch dates already and stumbling for what seemed to be months to even commit to the new launch date of January 30, 2013. However, that they even survived this past year of turmoil does say something about the culture of the company and the people who work there. The vision for the BlackBerry 10 remained as the focal point for hardware and software development despite a significant management shakeup, a substantial decrease in market share, loss of shareholder confidence, and rapidly declining stock prices.

A shift in marketing strategy and providing incentives for software developers around the globe has certainly helped RIM to promote and create what is touted to be the “next big thing” to hit the smart phone market. I think the vision, drive, and spirit to survive are the real underlying factors that sustained the company through the worst of times by focusing on what will bring the best of times. If the launch of the BlackBerry 10 is as successful as hoped, I’m sure many others will also look beyond the product and delve into the culture at RIM that brought the BlackBerry and the company back to life.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Vergence Analytics
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