Archives: October 2008

Never Walk Alone!

If airline self-inflicted errors matched hospital self-inflicted errors, we’d need a special daily newspaper section to record the crashes and associated obits. (And there’s no hyperbole in that last remark.) Still, we do get sick—and catastrophic error rate notwithstanding, we must necessarily subject ourselves to these health”care” danger zones. But, if there is any possible way at all—never walk [into a hospital] alone.

Melinda Beck writes the “Health Journal” column in the Wall Street Journal. Her page D1, 28 October column, “Bedside Manner: Advocating For a Relative in the Hospital,” begins, “Don’t go to the hospital alone if you can possibly help it.” She begins with an, alas, garden variety story of a friend in a hospital for hip surgery following an accident. Her friend’s daughter was the one “who noticed that she was having an adverse reaction to a pain medication.” And it was her daughter who recognized that her mom’s “IV drip had pulled out of a vein and was pumping her arm full of fluid.” And it was her daughter who observed that “the blood-sugar test she was about to be given was meant for her roommate instead.” The hospital, not to my surprise, was described as “one of the best hospitals in the country.”

[P.S. I admit this stuff pisses me off. Really, really pisses me off.]

At any rate, I commend the article to your attention, especially the suggestions with which Ms Beck concludes. If I were offering one of my “success tips,” the only thing I can think of is the ever-helpful “Don’t get sick.” (And if you do, “Bring a friend.”)

Another Travesty

Who book coverThe Wall Street Journal (October 29) favorably reviews Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. I’m hooked.

In short, if “health care” is a dangerous oxymoron, it is matched, if in a less deadly fashion, by “rigorous interview” in the all-important world of hiring. Mssrs. Smart and Street are said to rip, tear, shred, spindle, mutilate, thrash, and trash the typical prospective employee evaluation process for its shallowness. And the reviewer also reports that the authors provide a ton of solid research and professional experience to support their sorry conclusions. I am disposed to the authors’ assessment based on my own, if less extensive, observation—and flawed personal practices.

Smart and Street argue that the hiring process should have the same rigor as the evaluation of a prospective corporate acquisition. “Candidates who appear excellent on a first pass,” the reviewer writes, “may fall to pieces on the third or fourth look—others look better and better.” If the roster is the heart of team success—then the acquisition thereof could logically be called the most important thing an organization does. Right? (TP opinion: Right.)

LOOK … THIS IS A BIG BIG BIG DAMN DEAL.

You and I have probably read a dozen, or three dozen, books on “business strategy.” (Right?) And perhaps have been to a course or exec course or two or three on the topic.

Have you ever read a full-fledged book on assessing folks for employment?
Have you read a dozen articles on the topic?

My answer to both questions is an embarrassing “no.” Worse yet, as best I can remember, I have never written—in 15 books—even a chapter on the topic! Dear God! I can argue that I’ve “skirted” the topic in many ways—but I’m not sure even that’s the whole truth. (I am especially chagrined because I am a graduate of McKinsey & Co, one of the rare “good guys” on the Recruitment Excellence list—it doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on my research or writing.)

The reviewer concludes, “In short, hiring is the most important aspect of business and yet remains woefully misunderstood [my italics].”

Ye gads, I think he might well be right.

(If so, what am I going to do about it?)
(If so, what are you going to do about it?)

100 Ways to Succeed #143:

Put Prospective Employee Evaluation Practices Where They Belong—
At Or Near The Top Of Your Strategic Priority List

As stated above, there is good reason to believe that our attention to prospective employee evaluation is woefully wanting—and of astonishing strategic importance. (Likely more important, as the authors of Who argue, than the business’s strategy per se.)

I am not asking you to “buy the act.” I am asking you to give this a great deal of thought, do a little casual research, perhaps buy and read the book, chat with others—and then devise a “strategic” game plan to address this strategic issue.

100 Ways to Succeed #144:

Focus-Obsess On the “Big Three”

I hereby assert that the three most important strategic factors* [*or, at least, three of the tippy tippy topmost important strategic ...] affecting enterprise success are:

(1) Recruiting-evaluating-hiring
(2) The 1st-line supervisor promotion decision
(3) Promotion decisions in general

If my threefold assertion is even close to true [and it is, at the very least, worth examining], are its implications directly reflected in your calendar and business practices in general? If they are not so reflected, what—precisely—are you prepared to do about it?

Take It From Your Old Pappy

If you’re like me, you’ve heard a dozen dozen people say, “I can’t wait until the election is over.” I share the feeling—sorta.

Fact is, we say this kind of thing a lot: “I can’t wait ’til Spring.” “I can’t wait until _____ makes his mind up, so that we can get moving.” Etc.

Bad!
Bad!
Bad!

Your correspondent (me) will be Sweet Sixteen, whoops Sixty-Six, next week. And since I don’t expect to live to 132, I can say with assurance that I’m playing in the second half. And therefore I refuse to allow myself to fall into the “I wish it were next Wednesday” trap—even though I more or less do.

I have at least disciplined myself to the point of giving myself a verbal slap in the face when the “wish away” thought crosses my mind.

One does reasonably wish the surgery were over, that final exams were past, that their kid would get back from Iraq. Nonetheless, and I’m no Zen practitioner, the goal, as in the goal, is always, as in always, to make the absolute most of the moment—because, to state the obvious but often ignored truism, the moment-this moment is all we ever have.

And it is absolutely positively as true at 26 or 36 or 46 or 56 as it is at 66.

I am still not very good at this—and often “wish this trip were over” so I can get back home. Well, I do want to be at home, but my life for the next few days is here (lovely Durango CO and then magical Mexico City) not there—and I damn well don’t want to piss away a moment of it. Neither should you.

100 Ways to Succeed #145:

How You Gonna Make “It” Special?
Please Have A Good Answer!

How are you going to get past the “wishitweres,” and make the next meeting, the next 15 minutes special, fully participate therein? (PLEASE ASK YOURSELF THAT QUESTION. RIGHT NOW.)

Yeah, I know, for example, “another damn meeting.” Well, much of your professional life will consist of one “damn meeting” after another “damn meeting.” Do you really want to bitch them all away? I just read something somewhere about someone of import (??) who turned meetings of every shape and flavor into gold mines—opportunities to learn from others, to help herself grow, to help others grow, to learn how to surface submerged conflict and benefit therefrom, etc, etc.*

I repeat: How are you going to make the next meeting, the next 15 minutes special, fully participate therein? (Ask yourself this question as a matter of routine.)

*Reference material par excellence: Crucial Conversations—Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler; Crucial Confrontations—Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Event: Staffing Industry Analysts

Yesterday, Tom was in New York speaking to Staffing Industry Analysts at their 2008 CWS Summit. (CWS = Contingent Workforce Strategies.) Searching the Staffing Industry website, I found that they have a blog. It’s a potentially valuable resource to any of you who have staffing duties. If you were at Tom’s talk, please let us hear from you in the comments. If you’d like to get the slides, the link’s below.
Staffing Industry, New York

Event: CFIG, Toronto

CFIG stands for the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. Visit their website to see the people and places that inspire their organization. As usual, Tom has sent his PPT slides for all to see, also, and you can get them with the link below. If you were at the event, please join our comments to give us your impressions of the day.
CFIG, Toronto

Watch Tom and Seth

Back in September Tom appeared at the Inc 500/Inc 5000 Conference. Now, OPEN Forum has posted a series of video clips of Tom’s discussion with Seth Godin. The clips cover a lot of ground, from blogging to small business to the current credit crisis. You can find Tom’s post-event thoughts here.

Upcoming Webinar

We want to acknowledge the difficulties that today’s leaders must be facing, but we know that many of the readers of this blog will be looking for innovative ways to thrive in these disruptive times. At a time when many companies, quite understandably, are taking defensive action and battening down the hatches, there are some leaders who see times like these as an opportunity—a time for radical and different approaches. So how can we help?

The Tom Peters Company’s Future Shape of the Winner Model, which is the operationalization of Tom’s PSF philosophy, has people as its focus. It defines the leader’s job as creating a context in which people can do their best work.

Find out more about this approach, and its accompanying audit instrument, The Excellence Audit, at a complimentary webinar a week from today. You can sign up for a session at Noon in the UK, or a session at Noon Eastern U.S. time, both Wednesday, 29 October 2008. For more information, go to www.tompeters.co.uk.