Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Month: November, 2007

More on Randy’s “Last Lecture”

29 November, 2007 (00:12) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

This is the second post in a row on Randy Pausch’s “last lecture.”  Click here to listen to it in it’s entirety. 

Randy really enjoys football. He talked about one of his coaches growing up, Coach Graham. At their first practice Randy and the rest of the players on the team were shocked that there were no footballs. How can you have football practice without footballs?

Coach Graham focused on the fundamentals. So did Vince Lombardi. I love this post on the Slow Leadership Blog.

Care to comment Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Now you’re talking. This is right up my alley. Blocking and Tackling, baby! It’s one of my favorite phrases. It can be used to admonish – “Come on Jerry, that’s basic blocking and tackling buddy.” It can be used to encourage – “Listen up guys, this is basic blocking and tackling. We’ve done it before. We can do it again.” I really enjoy a good sports metaphor.

Wanda B. Goode: Sports metaphors are nice, although I don’t appear to be as enthused about them as Joe. I agree strongly with mastering the fundamentals. It applies to almost everything in life. I find that with management and leadership we frequently speak of achieving lofty goals and skills, but forget about the basics. For example, many in leadership positions seek to be grand visionaries while stepping all over the people in their organizations. Who’s going to follow their visions?

Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”

27 November, 2007 (02:00) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Joe and Wanda are still suffering from turkey hangovers, so they won’t be contributing today. I did want to leave you with some snipits from Randy Pausch’s “last lecture” which has now been viewed by over one million people. Randy is a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon University that is dying from cancer.

If you’d like to listen to the entire lecture, click here. It’s long, but it’s worth it.

“Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly.”

“Brick walls are there for reasons… to see how badly you want something… to stop other people.”

“Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you.”

“Ignore everything they say and pay attention to what they do.”

“When you do the right things, good things have a way of happening.”

Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers

20 November, 2007 (08:39) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

George Ambler had a recent blog post about a Fast Company article discussing the “Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers” by Margaret Hefferman. The habits are as follows:

  1. Bias against action
  2. Secrecy
  3. Over-sensitivity
  4. Love of procedure
  5. Preference for weak candidates
  6. Focus on small tasks
  7. Allergy to deadlines
  8. Inability to hire former employees
  9. Addiction to consultants
  10. Long hours

Have you guys ever been guilty of any of these?

Joe Kerr: Another genius giving advice to a man who’s been in the trenches getting it done for the last 20 years. Thanks for that, Maggie!

Wanda B. Goode: Unfortunately I have been guilty of some items. This list is a great one to revisit frequently both to help avoid future misteps, and to quickly identify them when they do occur and work to improve.   


Nick McCormick on Today’s Author

18 November, 2007 (23:25) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Hey guys, don’t know if you were aware, but Nick McCormick, the author of the book, Lead Well and Prosper, that you both starred in was interviewed by David Ewen at Today’s Author on 11/14. You can replay it here. What do you think about that?

Joe Kerr: I hope the windbag didn’t screw it up too much with his… “Be Good this and Be Good that!” He probably doesn’t even mention my name – But hey, I suppose any publicity is good publicity. I hope more people will benefit from my wisdom as a result. It truly was some of my finest work, and I did it for a song too.
Wanda B. Goode: That’s great news. Can’t wait to check it out. Nick typically has some valuable things to share. I’m sure listening in will be time well spent.

Busy Work

14 November, 2007 (22:08) | Communication, Management | By: Administrator

Peter Drucker has a quote that goes like this “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to do their jobs.”


Joe Kerr: I don’t want to hear any whining from the peanut gallery. As I’ve said before, and clearly demonstrated, people just don’t know how good they have it. Guess what? Whatever grief my team members are experiencing, I’m experiencing in triplicate. I’ll tell you what makes my job difficult, and bordering on impossible in some cases… the stinking people. “I have to take my kid to the doctor. I can’t stay at work a minute later than 4:00 or I’ll be late for my boy scout meeting. The dog ate my homework.” Gimme a break! There’s a reason it’s called work and not a vacation. Get over it!

Wanda B. Goode: This reminds me of the last post that led off with the Scott Adams quote. In it he mentions managers that require status reports from their team members, yet they never read them. Even a drunk monkey can do that? Why make someone do something if there is no reason for it? If a manager’s job is to achieve positive results with the resources in her/his trust, why would s/he do anything to make it more difficult for those same resources to do well? Now, I happen to think that status reports are very helpful, but I actually do read them, and use them. I give and request feedback on items in a status report, address issues, use them for input on reviews, etc. Team members don’t seem to put up much of a fuss when they actually know there is a purpose to their actions, and especially when they actually see the benefits. I don’t know anyone that enjoys typing up a status report, but this does take the sting out a bit. Check out Bill Hamilton’s post for suggestions for how to use status reports more effectively.  

Management crisis

10 November, 2007 (22:07) | Leadership, Management, Meetings, Open Door Policy, Productivity, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

Scott Adams sums up what he calls the “Dilbert Principle” as follows – “A retarded chimpanzee can drink a case of beer and still perform most management functions: avoiding decisions, attending meetings, babbling, demanding status reports, not reading status reports, handing out random rewards and punishments, scowling at people who believe the open door policy.”


Joe Kerr: Can I get back to you on that. I’m busy working on a fantasy football trade. By the way, show me a monkey that can do that wise guy! Actually, if you do happen to find one, and he has a quarterback that I can use this weekend, have him give me a call.

Wanda B. Goode: Unfortunately, Scott Adams is spot on. Managing people is not easy, but that is no excuse. We all need commit to improving. A recent Gallup study of American workers reflects that only 29% of them are actively engaged, meaning they work with passion, drive innovation, and help move their organizations forward. 15% are actively disengaged, spending their time undermining the good work of others, while the remainder sleep walk through their work day, just putting in time. Check out David Zinger’s post on a similar study done by Towers Perrin on worldwide worker engagement.

We can’t afford numbers like this. At a time when global competition is increasing and pressure on wages is fierce, we need active participation from most of our employees if we are to survive, let alone thrive.

Worker engagement is a direct reflection on management. A return to the fundamentals is required to help stem the tide. I don’t mean to boast, but I’m one of the stars in a book called Lead Well and Prosper which will help. Pick up a copy today and start doing your part.

Meetings are “Cockroaches of American Business.”

6 November, 2007 (23:37) | Management, Meetings, Productivity | By: Administrator

Rod Smith, adjunct professor for the Ken Blanchard College of Business at Grand Canyon University and founder of a leadership development consulting firm called Athena Consulting calls meetings the “cockroaches of American business,” because most of them are ugly, are hard to kill, happen when you put out food, have existed since the beginning of time (corporate), and serve no useful purpose!  He further states that they are the #1 productivity drain in corporate America today with nothing else even a close second.

Nick Gonzalez posted a piece today TechCrunch referencing PayScale’s Meeting Miser tool which calculates a meeting’s cost. Just provide the titles of the participants and the location, and it does the rest.  Joe and Wanda, any thoughts?

Joe Kerr: I’m not a big fan of meetings, but hell, I spend about 6 hours per day in them so I try to make the best of them. After I spew a platitude or two very early on to demonstrate my authority and feign interest, I hit the PDA and take care of business. I’m a great listener, so I pick up the keywords and pipe up occasionally with a priceless nugget for the other attendees. If I’m really dragging and about to fall asleep, I text the wife and have her call me so I can make an early exit. 

Wanda B. Goode: I agree with Rod. I love that analogy. Typically the larger the meeting, the more painful too, and obviously the more costly. Can’t wait to check out the Meeting Miser. View the earlier post in the “meetings” category for tips to make meetings more productive. 

I’d like My Job if it weren’t for the People

1 November, 2007 (07:00) | Leadership, Management, Servant Leadersip | By: Administrator

Have you ever heard a manager state, “I’d really like my job if it weren’t for the people?

Joe Kerr: I mutter it to myself about 10 times a day. Does that count?

Wanda B. Goode: I’ve heard it many times. I think some people say it as a joke, but I do think many managers believe it. Unfortunately they don’t seem to understand that leadership and management is all about people.

I just came across Rudy Giuliani’s 3 keys to leadership referenced by Phil Dourado’s in his Little Book of Leadership. I think number 2 nicely sums up my view of those that make that comment.

1) If you are going to lead, be optimistic. If you are not, your followers can hardly be expected to be.

2) If you don’t love people, do something else.

3) Be absolutely clear what you stand for.