When Trend Lines Fail

When you work in technology and are inclined to study disruption, you will begin to realize that it is easy to be misled by trend lines.

Trend lines work great for markets that are steady and predictable.

They tend to be less than great for markets in transition or experiencing new external market forces.

I’m not suggesting that we should avoid analytics and trends, I’m just saying that we need to be careful that we are not investing in fantastic buggy whips (or carriages if you are feeling pedantic).

I see real change coming in the world of HR technology. A shift from systems built to benefit HR to systems built to maximize business results (of the people, by the people, and for the people).

I am not the only one who is starting to sense this shift. As we watch the market for HR Technology and Business systems, I strongly recommend we keep our eye on the ball — things are getting truly interesting in our world.

Time to be a leader, not a follower. But if you must be a follower, be sure you are following the right people.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

More Focused, Less Busy

You and I know that one of the things that defines me as a leader is my focus on the goal. I am relentless when I get my mind set on making something happen.

And yet, even I have times where I find myself being more busy than productive.

Busy is a state that is becoming my norm. Busy is rarely a productive state for me.

Ironically, I do not love the opposite of busy either. That, for me, tends to be boredom, which is not my thing.

So, as I contemplate busy vs. focused, I realize that the important piece for me is what I am busy doing and how I apply my focus to a useful and important goal.

Lately, I’ve been a bit out of balance in this area, and the result is not bringing forward the best of me. I have not been working from a position of strength. I have been surviving on [figurative] muscle and not winning by working smart.

I have decided to give myself a personal goal to skip the busy and bring on the focus. In order to do this, I will need to be better at deciding what I do and what I let go.

While I have a demanding job and I need to deliver, it is my job to set the priorities. Being too busy to think is not being the best I can, for my job or my life. I refuse to settle.

My new approach is to be more focused and less busy. I am taking back control and I am going to make great things happen.

Stay tuned.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Whose Job is it to Tell You That You are Wrong?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read this advice before, probably did, so please let me know if I need to add attribution.

You should put someone on your team who will watch for (and tell you) when you are wrong.


Make them a direct and make it clear it’s their job. Teach them how to tell you in a way that you can hear. 

You need this badly.

As a senior leader, I am often wrong.

The key is to make sure my wrongness doesn’t do serious damage. This is where having a safety net — in the form of a person — is so helpful. 

As a technical leader, I tend to make this role an architect responsibility. Someone who not only helps watch my back, but can also answer all my confused questions to work out the right path with confidence. 

I have been so lucky to have people willing to take on this role for me. I would have made so many more mistakes without them. As luck would have it, those who have played the role somehow work out that it is a good idea to tell me I’m right once in a while, just to keep me happy.

I am blessed.

Who do you have watching your back? Have you given them the charter to tell you when you are wrong? Hurry and add that to their job description, I promise you will be glad you did!

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Confession of a cascading goal hater

Ok, of course I’m not really a hater… more of a dis-liker…but there aren’t t-shirts for that.

The truth is I really don’t like cascading goals, which is very odd as, I love goal alignment.

I feel an explanation might be in order.

As you all know I’m all about ownership and personal accountability in the professional world.  We own our careers and we should also own the goals we set for ourselves and our teams.

Too often I see people wringing their hands about how hard it is to align to the goals that are cascaded to them.  They are not sure how their group can impact “shareholder value” and they are pretty sure that a goal about shareholder value might not be anywhere near as important as a goal to get their job done well.

Cognitive dissonance ensues and instead of line of sight, organizations find themselves with lines of confusion.

This is where I think the answer lies not in waiting but in doing.  I do not think it is the job of your boss to work this out for you, especially if you are in any kind of leadership position.  I think it is your job to bridge the divide.   Here is how I think you should address goal setting for yourself and your team.

First, get a plan..

Figure out what is important for you and your team.  Work out what you think the most important things are and jot down the ideas as notes.   Organize them and prioritize them.

Then, look for the alignment opportunities..

Look at how what you want to do might impact your boss.  See if you can identify anything you should be doing that would better support your bosses career.  Take a moment to determine what you think her objectives might be and see how what you want your team to do might support those goals.

Now, here comes the powerful part… have a conversation.

Sit down with your boss with your notes and ideas.  Discuss how you think the goals you want to work on align with what she needs to achieve.   Take a moment to be sure you know her aspirations and her objectives.

The alignment comes, not from the system but from the shared purpose.  Get aligned on purpose and the goal setting gets so much easier.

Quit using goal cascading as a reason to get stuck… use it as a way to stand out.  Jump in with both feet and own the process.

It will be harder.

It will take longer, and you will actually achieve something as a result.