specializing-in-nonsenseSome time ago Adam Smith explained why the division of labor leads to greater productivity. It enables people to specialize and thus become very good at what they do.

Today we take it for granted that specialization, created by the division of labor within teams, will result in productivity gains. But should we take this for granted?

Too often, at least for my liking, I encounter teams that allow people to specialize in nonsense, and to become very good at it too. There are two main reasons why this happens. Team members forget why the team exists in the first place and they prize team cohesion above speaking out against nonsense.

When why the team exists begins to matter less than that the team exists, you have a team which has become very good at . . . but I’m sure you can figure that out for yourself.

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Please note: Latest radio files are not available – website is being redesigned.

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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gratitudeChildren don’t seem to say ‘thank you’ in public. This worries me. Not because I worry about ‘values’, but because I worry about ‘expectations’.

The word ‘expectation’ has two meanings. It can mean ‘looking forward to’ or ‘it is my due.’

Saying ‘thank you’ is a way of expressing gratitude. If you are often grateful, then you will develop the habit of looking forward to the next good thing to come your way so that you can say, “Thank you!” again.

But every time you don’t say ‘thank you’, you break the link between getting and gratitude. Soon you will have the habit of believing that receiving is your due. And then, when you don’t receive as expected, you will be resentful.

The one habit breeds optimists and the other breeds pessimists. What habit have you developed? More important, what habit are you passing on to your children?

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Please note: Latest radio files are not available – website is being redesigned.

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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listen-too-muchWhat takes time to build, but seconds to destroy? Many things, you say, but did you remember that trust is one of those fragile things?

Building trust takes time, destroying it does not. That’s why you should know how to restore trust. Try these four steps:

View the trust break down as incompetence, not as dishonesty. Research shows that we forgive a trust break down more readily if we think it was caused by incompetence rather than by dishonesty.

Apologize. Even if you are not guilty, apologize (for whatever you might have done, might not have done, or might have done differently). Apologizing is not weakness. Apologies are powerful trust builders.

Communicate. Open and honest communication is not a cliche. It is critical.

Listen. Trust is often destroyed by talking too much, never by listening too much. Enough said.

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Please note: Latest radio files are not available – website is being redesigned.

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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follow-heartI am grateful to Sigmund Freud. He has helped me out of many a predicament by giving me a socially acceptable excuse. “It’s my mother’s fault. She didn’t potty train me.”

Of course, he has also gotten me into trouble by creating the Freudian Slip. I know he didn’t create it, but he should have kept quiet about it. At least he made up for that slip up by giving us the mother of all excuses. So Mr. Freud wins one and loses one.

However, he came up with a real winner when he suggested a method for dealing with uncertainty and decision-making. Here’s what he proposed.

All small decisions, if you know the facts, should be dealt with consciously. But in large matters, where facts are missing and things uncertain, you must follow your heart.

But then, it’s in following my heart that I make Freudian slips.

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Please note: Latest radio files are not available – website is being redesigned.

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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small-changeCan you relate to penny wise and pound foolish? Of course not. You use dollars, not pounds. And there’s the reason for the really low minimum wage in the USA.

If executives understood the idea of pound foolish, they will realize that we get what we pay for. Pay a really low minimum wage and you will get really low performing workers. Not because these workers are lazy or stupid, but because they know you don’t care about them. So why should they care about you and your cheap company?

Enough about workers. What about customers? Well, customers expect poor service from cheap workers. Customers know they get what you pay for.

So now you know. You get poor performance because that’s your implied strategy. And you get rewarded with cheap customers. And with workers who cannot spend.

So let’s modify that saying. Penny wise, executive foolish.

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Please note: Latest radio files are not available – website is being redesigned.

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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Divine-dreamsHere’s nonsense at work – dreaming big dreams trigger big fears. Don’t let your fears stop you. Overcome your fears by having divine dreams.

Here’s a simple way to have divine dreams and to overcome dream fears. Breathe deeply.

To ‘divine’ means ‘to discover through inspiration.’ Inspiration is a sudden, brilliant, original idea. The funny thing is that inspiration is also the act of breathing in. What happens when you are afraid? You hold your breath. Well, don’t. You cannot be inspired if you’re afraid to inspire.

Most of the time you breathe on auto pilot. You become aware of breathing only when you stop. Don’t do the same to your dreams. Be aware of them. Give them air. Inspire and be inspired.

Remember, if a few good people had not been willing to dream big, the USA would not exist today.

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Please note: Latest radio files are not available – website being recreated.

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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divorce at workHere’s nonsense at work. When trust breaks down, we play the red-tape blame-game. Because when trust breaks down, relationships become strained and people fall back on rules and regulations, policies and procedures.

This insane behavior is actually encouraged by poor organization design. Most structures promote trust in systems and procedures above trust in people and relationships.

Many leaders and even a few managers will dispute this. They will insist that they trust their colleagues to do the right thing. I say, look to your actions. Too often there is a disconnect between what we say and what we expect. And then how we act and what we do negates what we said.

Here’s what you can do to create a more effective organization: Reward people who deliver on promises by including them in discussions, planning and decision-making.

And visibly exclude people who habitually over promise and under deliver.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Designed to play the red-tape blame-game (10 most recent radio files)

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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dont-stopI like Fleetwood Mac except when they don’t stop.

We are mostly lazy and yet we create long to-do lists of things to do (especially when it comes to achieving goals we optimistically set ourselves).

I have a new strategy. It’s called Stop. Instead of a list of to-dos, I have a list of “to stop.” As a dreamer not a doer, I’m already halfway done.

You want examples? Don’t list things to do to lose weight; you need only one action step – “stop.” Stop eating so much. Want to be fitter? Stop sitting so much. Want to be nicer? Stop behaving badly.

Fleetwood Mac had a big hit with “Don’t Stop.” I aim to be a personal hit with “stop,” but it’s not that easy. You see, our culture is based on giving credit for doing something good, not for stop doing something bad.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Don’t stop your to-stop list (10 most recent radio files)

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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silenceHere’s nonsense at work – knowing and hogging, or knowing and sharing.

Think about your teachers. Many of them had knowledge, but not all could teach. Now, think about your co-workers. Many of them know stuff, a number of them know how to communicate what they know, and quite a few won’t share what they know.

It is always your responsibility to share what you know. If you are the resident expert, then it is your responsibility to make yourself understood. It is plain arrogance to expect others to do the work of understanding you.

Knowledge has value only if it can be used. If it is locked up or not simplified for action, then it is useless. You will also be labeled useless if you possess knowledge which you won’t share or simplify.

And if you are a leader guilty of knowledge abuse, then you will soon have no followers worth knowing.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Do you know and hog, or know and share? (10 most recent radio files)

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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GPS-lostMy wife takes the long way home. She says that she likes driving. That’s nonsense. She gets lost, even driving home.

So I bought her a GPS. Surprisingly, it could not find home either, even though it’s been standing since 1949. I bought her a different make, which found home, but in a roundabout way. I discovered that it was set to direct her home via the nearest highways.

When I grew up, we used the tried and tested sun method to give us a general direction. No obstacle was really an obstacle as long as we did not lose our bearings.

Kids today, like my wife, are growing up with no sense of direction. When their smart phone is feeling disconnected, then they are lost in more ways than one. Minor detours become huge obstacles.

Me? I am seldom lost because when I was a kid, we had to be the smart ones.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Be smart – know GPS is a dot not a direction (10 most recent radio files)

© 2015 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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