Archive for August, 2009

Meeting Purpose

August 19th, 2009 No comments

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a senior executive of a multi-Billion $ company. He shared his guidelines around meetings, or more specifically his expectations of the meeting organizer.  He expects the meeting organizer to define what they expect from him.  Is the purpose of the meeting to Inform him, for him to provide Input or for him to make a Decision because he will adjust his behavior accordingly.

Meeting Purpose Exec Behavior
Inform Listen and ask clarifying questions
Brainstorming Active participation and provide Input
Decision Listen and make a Decision

He made it clear that if the meeting organizor did not explain what they want to achieve at a meeting, his admin will decline the meeting request.  Since he adopted this behavior, he mentioned that 90% of his meetings tend to end earlier too.

Categories: Behavior, Expectations Tags:

Comprehension and how it affects our professional life

August 11th, 2009 No comments

I have been reading various articles and books by ED Hirsch; his writing is thought provoking.  Although the most of his writings are focused on the state of the American schooling and how the reading and comprehension.  Naturally, I am trying to apply his perspectives to my life as a hi-tech professional.

My takeaways from his writings are:

  • Reading is the comparatively simple exercise of deciphering the letters and words
  • Comprehension is the more complicated effort where the intent behind the words needs to be understood.
    • As part of our daily interchange we often need to understand what is being not said as well as what not being.  After all we need to understand what the person is trying to communicate and what what they say sometimes…..
    • We need to have a baseline level of knowledge about the topic to understand what is being communicated.  He used tennis example and conveyed the message very well because if you do not know that the games stops for rain or a baseline game is, you will not be able to follow the conversation.

These points got me thinking about these points and the lessons that can be taken across to the work environment.

Here are Ed Hirsch’s books on Amazon:

Lesson Learned: Egg and Bacon

August 9th, 2009 No comments

A couple of years back I had the privilege of having breakfast with a very successful top-tier VC.  We met for breakfast at an upscale hotel in downtown San Francisco.  He is an avid skier and in incredible shape; therefore I was expecting to see a selection of health food on his plate.  To my surprise, he was having  fried eggs and bacon for breakfast. I could not resist and asked him about his choice of breakfast.  He laughed and explained that it was one of  his indulgences and it also served as a reminder for him.  My quizzical expression said it all and he started to explain.

The chicken was involved in the creation of the egg but the pig was committed to the creation of the bacon.  The pig died to produce the bacon while the chicken lived another day to lay more eggs.

He quickly acknowledged that when you have a pig, you need to investigate all options.  For example with a pig you have two options:  cut it up, smoke it and sell it as bacon or put lipstick and a dress on it and market it as Miss Piggy.  Either way you can make money, it just depends on that the market wants.

Needless to say I longer look at egg and bacon the same.

Lesson Learned:

  • I now ask my myself:  Am I committed or involved?
  • There are always options and as long as as there is a market, it is possible to make it work.

Reference Guide on Freedom and Responsibility Culture (Netflix)

August 5th, 2009 No comments

One of the PMs in my org shared this with me earlier today.  Thanks Susan!   It is a slide show from Netflix titled: Reference Guide on our Freedom and Responsibility Culture. 

Although I really enjoyed the deck, here are some of the messages that really resonated with me.

Slide 19 – The 9 behaviors and skills: Judgment, Communication, Impact, Curiosity, Innovation, Courage, Passion, Honesty, and Selflessness.

Slide 33 – It’s about effectiveness – not effort – even though effectiveness is harder to assess than effort.

Slide 38 – The Rare Responsible Person – Self motivating, Self aware, Self Disciplined, Self improving, Acts like a leader, Doesn’t wait to be told what to do, Never feels “that’s not my job”, Picks up the trash lying on the floor, and Behaves like an owner.

Slide 77 – The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people.

Slide 78 – Context – Strategy, Metrics, Assumptions, Objectives, Clearly-defined roles, Knowledge of the stakes, Transparency around decision-making. Exceptions (emergencies, learning, wrong person) slide 79

Slide 82 – Good Context – Link to company/functional goals, Relative priority (how important/how time sensitive), Level of precision & refinement (no errors, good enough, rough), Key stakeholders, Key metrics/definition of success

Slide 115 – High performance people are generally self-improving through experience, observation, introspection, reading and discussion.

The slides can be found here:

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