Zen Koan #21: Parable of Sound of One Hand – Buddhist Teaching on Awakening

Zen Koan #21: Parable of Sound of One Hand - Buddhist Teaching on Awakening Meditation teaches us how to relate to life directly, so we can truly experience the present moment, free from conceptual overlay. Whenever you make distinctions, your mind is in opposition. If your mind is free from the environment, not bounded by mental realms, then your next birth will not be dictated by karma but rather by your own decision. Does a given individual’s religion accommodate to break his will, keep him at an infantile level of development, and enable him to evade the solicitousness of liberation and personal responsibility?

On the other hand, does it accommodate him as a substructure of designation, which affirms his dignity and worth, which gives him a substructure for valiant acceptance of his inhibitions and mundane solicitousness, but which avails him develop his potencies, his responsibility, and his capacity to dote his fellow men? The only difference is that there is no obstruction or attachment in their minds. You have to be careful and meticulous. For example, if everybody were male, the label “men” would no longer be paramount, since its only purport is to distinguish men from women. The ordinary person does not know this.

Being too good might mean ending up being too bitter. However, this repose is only relative. Do not concern yourself with anything going on around you.

Zen Koan: “Sound of One Hand” Parable

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master’s room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.

Toyo wished to do sanzen also.

“Wait a while,” said Mokurai. “You are too young.”

But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.

In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai’s sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.

“You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together,” said Mokurai. “Now show me the sound of one hand.”

Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. “Ah, I have it!” he proclaimed.

The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.

“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”

Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. “What can the sound of one hand be?” He happened to hear some water dripping. “I have it,” imagined Toyo.

When he next appeared before his teacher, Toyo imitated dripping water.

“What is that?” asked Mokurai. “That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again.”

In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.

He heard the cry of an owl. This also was refused.

The sound of one hand was not the locusts.

For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.

At last little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” he explained later, “so I reached the soundless sound.”

Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

Buddhist Insight on Awakening

Buddhism teaches the need for clear thinking, awakening, self-control, self-help, and meditation. It’s much better to have that all happen than have it all still, solid and barricaded. The feelings of insecurity and unrest will dissolve and life will be more meaningful, happy, and interesting if there is someone who is willing to share another’s burden. Awakening is the object of abstract kindness in all beings. The American Zen priest Melissa Myozen Blacker wrote in The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan,

The natural ripening of a person on this path may be so gradual as to be unnoticed, or so sudden as to feel like an explosion. Trusting this process of awakening, we begin to taste the experience of oneness, which is frankly indescribable. No matter how hard we try, we can’t communicate this feeling, which is so unlike our previous life, our familiar construction of reality, that we may liken it to dreaming. But we have actually woken up to our true life, and we are struck dumb, wordless, in an experience that can’t be described by the ordinary words we have used all our lives. It feels impossible to talk about this new, freshly felt life of realization, which is so amazing in its simplicity and ordinariness. The subtlety of this part of the path is misleading because it is actually not at all subtle. The profundity of the shift in consciousness, when outer and inner become one, must be lived, not described – but recognized, of course, by others on the same path.

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Easy Recipe for Indonesian Nasi Kuning – Festive Yellow Turmeric Rice

Traditional Festive Indonesian Dish - Yellow Turmeric Rice Rice colored with turmeric and shaped into a cone is a common sight during festive occasions in Bali and Java. The conical shape echoes that of the mythical Hindu mountain, Meru, while yellow is the color of royalty and one of the four sacred colors for Hindus.

Even in Muslim Java, this traditional festive dish remains popular, and is accompanied by sambal trasi, classic grilled chicken, and eggs in fragrant lemongrass sauce.

Ingredients for Indonesian Nasi Kuning

  1. 2 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced and two tsp ground turmeric
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 1.5 (300 g) cup uncooked rice, washed and drained
  4. 1.5 cups (375 ml) thin coconut milk
  5. 1/2 cup (150 ml) chicken stock or 1/4 tsp chicken stock granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm milk
  6. 1 salam or pandanus leaf
  7. 1 stalk lemongrass, thich bottom third only, outer layers discarded, inner part bruised
  8. 1 inch (2.5 cm) fresh galangal, peeled and sliced
  9. 1 tsp salt

Accompaniments for Indonesian Nasi Kuning

  1. Easy Recipe for Indonesian Nasi Kuning - Festive Yellow Turmeric Rice Freshly sliced cucumber and tomato
  2. 1 portion sambal trasi
  3. 1 portion grilled Indonesian chicken
  4. 1 portion sambal goreng tempeh
  5. 1 portion eggs in fragrant lemongrass sauce
  6. Emping (melinjo nut wafers)

Procedure for Indonesian Nasi Kuning

  1. Grind the turmeric and water in a mortar until fine. Strain through a sieve to extract all the juice. Discard the solids. If using ground turmeric, dissolve the powder in two tsp of water
  2. Combine the rice, turmeric juice, coconut milk, chicken stock, salam or pandanus leaf, lemongrass, galangal, and salt in pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer cooked until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the rice is dry and fluffy. Remove from the heat and mix well. Alternatively, cook the rice and ingredients in a rice cooker.
  3. Discard the salam or pandanus leaf, lemongrass, and galangal.
  4. Press the cooked turmeric rice into a cone shaped, if desired. Serve the cooked rice with the accompaniments on the side.
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How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company’s Strategic Innovation Framework

How do you uphold growth and profitability in an age in which rivals quickly erode most any competitive advantage? One option is to initiate entirely new businesses.

Consider how some companies have redefined their customer, the value offered, and the delivery method—a process we call strategic innovation:

  • In 1996, General Motors formed a new business unit, OnStar, to commercialize an integrated information, safety, and communications system.
  • In 2001, Procter & Gamble launched Tremor, a new marketing service for other companies.
  • In 2003, the Walt Disney Company introduced Moviebeam, a wireless, no-hassle, in home video rental store.

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company's Strategic Innovation Framework If you follow several such innovation stories—each a tale of a new businesses (New_Company) within established and successful organization (Core_Parent_Company). You will be less interested in where the path-breaking ideas came from than how companies managed the process of going from idea to profitability. Nurturing creativity within an organization usually merits a great deal of attention, but the need for creativity is high only at the beginning of New_Company’s life. Once a business plan is in place, the need for creativity begins to decay rapidly.

An entirely new approach is needed—one that emphasizes neither the creativity that inspires New_Company’s launch nor the discipline that Core_Parent_Company demands to deliver bottom-line results.

New_Company Faces Three Distinct Challenges in Its Journey from Idea to Profitability

  • Forgetting: New_Company’s business model is invariably different from Core_Parent_Company’s model. The answers to the most fundamental business questions—Who is the customer? What value do we offer? How do we deliver it?—are intensely different. The essence of the forgetting challenge is ensuring that Core_Parent_Company’s success formula is not imported to New_Company.
  • Borrowing: New_Company’s biggest advantage over its competition is the wealth of resources and assets within Core_Parent_Company. The essence of the borrowing challenge is gaining access to these resources, and doing so in a way that does not damage Core_Parent_Company’s own commitment to excellence.
  • Learning: New_Company’s business is highly uncertain. It must methodically resolve the specific unknowns within its approach as quickly as possible, and zero in on the best possible approach. Learning requires an entirely different approach to planning.

All three challenges obviously create tensions. To forget, New_Company must be distinct from Core_Parent_Company. At the same time, to borrow, New_Company must be linked to Core_Parent_Company.

At points of interaction, stress inherently arises unswervingly because of the differences in business models, values, styles, and priorities. Learning also leads to stress, because it requires an analytical discipline—much different from the operational discipline of execution and performance.

These are the types of tensions that can be healthy for New_Company, and when a corporation achieves them well, the journey from idea to profitability is a smooth one.

But is it worth the risk? Contemplate the risk of the alternative—sticking to the knitting—a choice that inevitably leads to decay. Without growth, CEOs lose jobs, employees stagnate, organizations become stale, and competitiveness languishes. Strategic innovation, on the other hand, can deliver breakthrough growth and generate new life-cycle curves. It enables companies to stay ahead of change by creating, growing, and profiting from new business models.

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Turn Knowledge Workers into Knowledge Warriors

Leaders can gain competitive advantage by giving every knowledge worker the tools they need to become knowledge warriors. The learner is positioned-and willing-to takes charge of the learning process. Leaders can capture inherent knowledge, blend it with vetted knowledge, and make it available a bit at a time, on demand as required.

The technologies are now on hand, for the strategic deployment of knowledge assets, but a new way of thinking about learning is required-a real-time system that offers an integrated blend of human and digital content to provide knowledge workers with the required new skills and knowledge daily.

Turn Knowledge Workers into Knowledge Warriors

Knowledge Warriors

Knowledge workers are victims of greatly increased demand arising from new information sources, channels, and beneficiaries because those same technologies promise them extraordinary advantage and performance support.

The enterprise needs to capture its own collective knowledge and enhance its collective awareness. The technology that powers this new model of knowing exists, but we need to use the technology differently. Traditional courses and delivery methods are making way for more robust and performance related learning strategies: not degrees, but “dynamic competencies”; not just in case, but also just in time; not mass product, but personalized, on-the-spot knowledge. The new focus is on the learner.

'How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done' by Keith Swenson (ISBN 0984976442) The difference is profound. The required knowledge solution does not exist until the learner presents himself; and the solution is “tailored” for each individual on the spot. This is the end of eLearning, as we know it. Our brief experience with eLearning has propelled us to High Performance Learning. We are positioned to crack the code.

There are three sides to the learning proposition: learner, knowledge, and means or process of gaining knowledge. Clearly the most important element is the learner-the one for whom the process of learning exists. Until recently, however, all formal education has focused on the knowledge (the subject matter expert and content), and the means of gaining knowledge. However, all that is changing. As leaders recognize that many important knowledge assets are stored in their people’s heads, their focus is shifting from the knowledge as a commodity to the learner as a key resource.

Virtual capability is now driving the creation of networks to identify, channel, and integrate a company’s collective knowledge for those who need it.

The new focus centers on human consciousness in a powerful integrated solution that is less focused on content and technology and more on the recipient.

Three Characteristics of Knowledge Warriors and Knowledge Workers

Since knowledge, rapidly changes we need to leverage it in service of performance in real time. Imagine a knowledge system with these traits:

  1. Leverage collective intelligence identifying, capturing, transparently linking the knowledge that people carry in their heads with vetted sources of knowledge, and delivering it in the right context to the right people in the right amount at the right time.
  2. Embedding carbon in the silicon combining potential human coaches/advisors with personalized learning objects within the same platform at the time they are needed.
  3. Real-time change management aligning corporate data with information from the knowledge management system and learning resources from the learning management system; and using the combined data in a dashboard that increases agility and helps management through change in real time.

Cracking the code is not about technology; it is about agility. Upgrading technology without upgrading the strategy can be an empty investment.

Quality of Knowledge Warriors and Knowledge Workers

Five Measures of Quality of Knowledge Warriors and Knowledge Workers

Five principles guide the application of technology to learning:

  1. Learning is about the learner, not the provider. “Best” generation solutions will always be simple, natural, and life supporting for the user, addressing the demands of time and context.
  2. The solution leverages both the knowledge of the learner and the knowledge of colleagues. Is the knowledge worker driving his own solution? Is the knowledge in the enterprise acquired, encoded, and available on the same platform with other learning objects?
  3. 'Rise of the Knowledge Worker' by James Cortada (ISBN 0750670584) The solution is a business solution, not an academic one. A business solution provides people with the knowledge they need for that moment. Expertise is not something that one has; it is something that one uses-the result of a creative interface of individual knowledge and supportive knowledge.
  4. The knowledge solution is a critical component of strategy and a powerful tool for achieving the vision. If your corporate “university” is behaving like a traditional university, blow it up. You need expertise and performance.
  5. The solution addresses unpredictable circumstances. The quality of such a system is proportional to its flexibility, the degree to which changing requirements can be detected and solutions made available in real time.

In separating what is useful from what is traditional, we will crack the code to discover true quality.

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The Gift of Customer Loyalty Begins with Employee Loyalty

Customer Loyalty Flourishes

Employee and customer loyalty are one in the same. The gift of customer loyalty begins with employee loyalty. Nurtured and directed employee loyalty will create worlds of energy, inoculating against the apathy and distrust endemic in many organizations. It can also result in synergy, the energy-laden connection that emerges in a group channeling momentum toward the common good. Trust, added to the mix, instills confidence, which helps employee loyalty grow, and customer loyalty flourish.

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Sam Walton and Wal-Mart

At the time of Sam Walton’s death in 1992, Wal-Mart had annual sales of $44 billion. One out of every five retail items purchased in America came from a Wal-Mart store. His personal fortune exceeded $23 billion. Sam once said: “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” When asked how Wal-Mart was able to grow so fast, Sam replied, “The answer is always the same-people. Not only the right kind, but interested, dedicated, enthusiastic, and loyal people. That makes our company exceptional.”

Southwest Airlines Customer Service

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines devotes a considerable budget to celebrating its employees with parties, banquets, gifts, birthday cards and outings. Accountants have told Herb Kelleher how much money he could save if he didn’t budget for these activities. His reply: “Southwest Airlines has the fewest customer complaints in the industry. How much is that worth?”

Kelleher believes that the front office is there to support the employees. He said: “Southwest has its customers, the passengers; and I have my customers, the airline’s employees. If the passengers aren’t satisfied, they won’t fly with us. If the employees aren’t satisfied, they won’t provide the product we need.” Southwest employees make flying a fun experience. They try to surprise and delight the customers.

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Nordstrom Rules

Nordstrom leaders also inspire employees with actions and directions that are surprising. For example, the Nordstrom Handbook says: “Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.” And Rule 1 simply reads: “Use your good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division manager any question at any time.”

The founders of Nordstrom maintain what they call a “worshipful relationship” with the customer, resulting in delighted customers, enthusiastic salespeople, and high profits. They actively practice “doing virtually anything possible to please the customer.” The founders also do virtually anything possible to please their employees.

The Gift of Customer Loyalty Begins with Employee Loyalty

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Ritz Carlton: Discovering what customers savor

A few months ago, I was involved in a seminar in Pasadena at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. During lunch I asked my waiter for a burger and a chocolate shake. When he let me know that they didn’t offer milkshakes, I setfled for a glass of water. I was surprised when a chocolate shake arrived with my hamburger. Manuel Avila, my waiter, on his own initiative, found chocolate ice cream and cold milk in the kitchen and created a shake. Manuel felt free to exercise initiative on my behalf because of the positive creative examples set by his leaders.

When Employees are Cared for, They Care for Customers

The way employees treat customers reflects directly on the way they are personally treated. Many employees are truly loyal. The question is; how do we retain and increase our loyal employees, thereby increasing our customer loyalty base?

The way employees treat customers reflects directly on the way they are personally treated. How can you emulate these four cases to improve loyalty in your organization?

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The Treasures Hidden in the Heavens of Nature are so Rich

Hidden Treasures Waiting to Be Claimed by Man

Hidden Treasures Waiting to Be Claimed by Man The peanut is one of the humble products in the granary of nature. However, in the hands of a scientist such as George Washington Carver, it was revealed infinitely rich in all kinds of possibilities. From peanuts, he made a dozen beverages, mixed pickles, instant and dry coffee, tan remover, wood filler, paper, ink, shaving cream, linoleum, and synthetic rubber. Things are not always what they seem at first. By exploring beneath the surface, we often discover that what we judged of little worth really contains hidden treasures waiting to be claimed by man.

We have often dismissed life as valueless because we did not probe it deeply enough. In our friends, in our children, in ourselves, lie dormant all kinds of strength we little suspect. We need to undertake voyages of discovery to lay bare the hidden continents of life’s possibilities. The recent popularization of such hobbies as painting and sculpture has startled many of us with the revelation of talent among seemingly ungifted people. In emergencies, we have all revealed powers of body and mind of which we were seldom aware. We are all richer than we realize.

Who ever imagined what stupendous energies lay stored up in a single atom of uranium? There are levels of being whose depths we must seek throughout all our lives. He who only lives on the surface enjoys but the outer crust; he who reaches beneath the surface begins to claim his hidden treasures.

Still less ought the common operations of buying and selling to be to interpose with on correspondent evidence. Have you ever rebelled because you thought your life was too drab? Dig more deeply. Seek its potentialities. By the alchemy of your probing, your life will often turn from grey to gold. Happiness and high performance come to you when you prefer to live your life coherent with your highest values and your deep convictions.

The bodily feelings of the infant are obscure, indefinite, and almost ineffable. Why not acquire a standard of work experience that must be met, or, as many employers now do, ask likely employees to answer some questions or solve presented coding problems? We need to control the coyote population, but what few recognize is that coursing hounds are one of our most efficacious methods.

Good Nature is One of the Richest Fruits of Life

Good Nature is One of the Richest Fruits of Life This view of things, recommending itself uniformly to the intelligence activity of thinkers and to the tendency of those significant classes in European society to whose real or conjectural interests democracy is adverse, has had no trouble in establishing itself; and in self-opinionated speculations “the tyranny of the majority” is now broadly speaking included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard.

Fire increases the bulk of all bodies, cold contracts them; fire tends to disperse their substance, cold condenses them, and strengthens their reciprocal cohesiveness. After the two back surgeries that were alleged to fix it, he was left in agonizing pain. In this way, goodwill protects you from the unskillful excesses of both your ill will and your love—and protects everyone around you as well. The Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl wrote in his treatise Man’s Search for Meaning:

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can be fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.

Judges instruct the jury that if a man knows the departure between right and wrong he cannot be considered harebrained. There are no instructions for living lying beside our provenance. Again, to take some other approach, the words that discharge defects are not misleading. What could be more ridiculous than over-intellectualizing ‘happiness’, of all things, anyway? He would return one more time with the same mercurial demeanor and again he left.

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Zen Koan #20: Parable of A Mother’s Advice – Buddhist Teaching on Love and Relationships

Zen Koan #20: Parable of A Mother's Advice - Buddhist Teaching on Love and Relationships Thought and emotion work together in receiving and processing information about the world and in guiding goal-oriented behavior. Emotions incline us toward or away from options, not simply as motivators but as identifiers of these options. They include any doubts about the correctness of your method, or whether your decision to attend this retreat was a right or a wrong one.

We can pursue scientific discovery without knowing what we are looking for, for the reason that the gradient of deepening coherence tells us where to start and which way to turn, and eventually brings us to the point where we may stop and claim a discovery. Practice is the last best hope of living up to that good-heartedness, the only thing that never hurts and customarily avails. In any activity, you have to find just the right way to do it.

Knowing the dimensions of the perception will help you determine the framing that will communicate exactly what you’ve seen. Therefore, we veraciously endeavor the method and then we work with what comes up. I’ll just put the method aside and let my mind wander a little bit. This is a wrong way to practice. There are some who admit they are not enlightened, but nevertheless refuse to recognize accepted rules of behavior.

Zen Koan: “A Mother’s Advice” Parable

Jiun, a Shingon master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era. When he was young he used to deliver lectures to his brother students.

His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter:

“Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization.”

Buddhist Insight on Love and Relationships

In love and in relationships, meditation is simply a question of being, of melting, like a piece of butter left in the sun. Here there are the expression of offering and the promise to compose the text. Finally, mindfulness is essential to seeing all the precepts, and one’s constant effort to maintain the precepts in turn issues in an increase in the clarity of mindfulness. The American clinical psychologist John Welwood, who frequently writes about the integration of psychological and spiritual concepts, writes in Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships,

Imagining others to be the source of love condemns us to wander lost in the desert of hurt, abandonment, and betrayal, where human relationships appear to be hopelessly tragic and flawed. As long as we fixate on what our parents didn’t give us, the ways our friends don’t constantly show up for us, or the ways our lover doesn’t understand us, we will never become rooted in ourselves and heal the wound of the heart. To grow beyond the dependency of a child requires sinking our own taproot into the wellspring of great love. This is the only way to know for certain that we are loved unconditionally.

In emphasizing the importance of not looking to others for perfect love, I am not suggesting that you turn away from relationships or belittle their importance. On the contrary, learning to sink your taproot into the source of love allows you to connect with others in a more powerful way – “straight up,” confidently rooted in your own ground, rather than leaning over, always trying to get something from “out there.” The less you demand total fulfillment from relationships, the more you can appreciate them for the beautiful tapestries they are, in which absolute and relative, perfect and imperfect, infinite and finite are marvelously interwoven. You can stop fighting and shifting tides of relative love and learn to ride them instead. And you come to appreciate more fully the simple, ordinary heroism involved in opening to another person and forging real intimacy.

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CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

About 40 percent of CEOs disappoint within 18 months. These probabilities, plus demands placed on leaders, have caused a recession in senior executives who want the top position (from 50 to 35 percent in the last four years). Furthermore, CEO turnover is at a five-year high.

Who will lead companies in the future? This question has caused a leadership succession and development agitation. Boards are more apprehensive about finding executive talent wherever they can.

In his book Searching for a Corporate Savior, Rakesh Khurana, professor at Harvard University, proposes that looking outside for a CEO successor is part of a growing “irrational quest for charismatic chief executives” (selection of outside CEOs has gone from 6 to 50 percent in recent years). Fearing boards may be concentrating on the qualities of presence, personality, and media appeal rather than character and competence, he gives seven guidelines for finding successors:

  1. abandon hope for a corporate savior
  2. translate company strategy into operational terms
  3. identify skills required for key activities (activity/competency mapping)
  4. assess internal candidates
  5. search for external candidates
  6. test and choose from a short-list
  7. calibrate goals, milestones, and compensation to drivers of success.

'Searching for a Corporate Savior' by Rakesh Khurana (ISBN 0691120390) Khurana supports internal development of candidates, but admits that developing home-grown talent is not the only course.

After studying 276 companies that have decent track records at growing home-grown talent, The Corporate Leadership Counsel defined seven Hallmarks of Leadership Success:

  1. a culture of development
  2. enforcing development
  3. recruiting senior executives
  4. the power of meritocracy
  5. full business exposure for rising executives
  6. a focus on leadership skills in successor identification
  7. succession management.

Companies that are great at developing future leaders invest much time in fostering a candidate pool. As managers gain the essential training, coaching, on-the-job experience, they join an internal pool of high-potential candidates. But what divides the good processes from great ones is an emphasis on self-development.

'The Hero's Farewell' by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (ISBN 0195065832) Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, former Dean of the Yale School of Management, calls this “an unrelenting drive for self-improvement.” You spot senior talent not just from their activities, but how they attain them. When great companies search for talent, they look for certain qualities.

In his book The Hero’s Farewell, Sonnenfeld classifies executives as Monarchs, Generals, Ambassadors, and Governors. Each has distinctive exit behavior related to the manner in which they identify with the title and role of CEO. Of these, three of the four classifications cause problems for incoming CEOs.

  1. Monarchs stay on the job until they die or are overthrown
  2. Generals leave reluctantly and look for ways to return to active service
  3. Ambassadors leave gracefully but maintain active, low-key relationships in the company
  4. Governors leave and go on to serve in other areas.

Monarchs suppress internal talent development because they can’t endure contest for their roles. Generals and ambassadors often restrict with or undermine incoming CEOs. Unluckily, boards tolerate monarch, general, and ambassador behavior.

All this leads me to conclude: Work harder on growing internal talent. You can improve your odds beyond 50:50 by doing the hard, but rewarding, work of developing more leaders internally.

While companies must often look outside for talent, having an effective process for developing leaders guarantees that you will have great candidates when the time comes to add or replace executive talent.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Most Workers are Starved for Recognition

'Employee Recognition That Works' by Cindy Ventrice (ISBN 1576756017) Most workers are starved for recognition. In fact, some of your employees may be experiencing a recognition deficit.

While most managers believe that pay is the most important factor in whether employees stay or go, employees consistently rank recognition for their good work as number one. The mother lode of employee motivation and job satisfaction lies in the cycle of challenge, achievement, and recognition—the CAR motivational cycle, as first presented by Frederick Herzberg, the father of modern motivation theory. His study showed that the factors that produce job satisfaction are, in order: achievement, recognition, the work, responsibility, advancement, and growth. These factors are related to job content. Factors that may take away job satisfaction but not produce it—demotivators—are related to job culture: policy, administration, supervision, relationship with boss, work conditions, salary, relationship with peers, personal life, relationship with subordinates, status, and security, in that order.

You may be measuring what counts, and what you are measuring may be getting done, but unless you recognize and reward what is done, the productivity of your people will decline, along with your retention rates.

Most Workers are Starved for Recognition

Why Managers Don’t Recognize People

Many managers get low motivational millage out of the CAR cycle because:

  1. They subscribe to the philosophy, “If you don’t hear from me that means you’re doing a good job.” This low-energy, low maintenance management practice is popular among autocratic managers who have worked for managers who treated them this way. Many managers who use this style think: “My people are expected to do their job, and they get paid to do it.” They resist employee recognition practices, and resent employees who are governed by their feelings and who need more praise and recognition.
  2. They believe that “rewards and recognition” is the responsibility of the human resources department. Some programs have the unintended effect of letting managers off the hook in providing recognition. If managers do not “own” the practice, they may never do it.
  3. They do not spend enough time observing or measuring employee performance to know if they are achieving results in the first place. Obviously, if they do not know who the top performers are, they will be reluctant to recognize and praise anyone.
  4. They do not know how to recognize and are afraid they will do it the wrong way. If you haven’t been taught how to recognize results, and if you aren’t being recognized yourself in creative and appropriate ways, how would you know how to do it?

Two Ways to Recognize Results

Employee recognition has become a large industry, providing prizes, travel, cash, and praise. Many managers believe that only cash rewards/bonuses, raises, and promotions are effective for motivating and keeping their best performers. While money is important to all employees, it is more important to some than others are. Money can help to motivate and retain when given promptly in recognition of a specific achievement. However, the top motivator is the chance to be challenged, achieve results, and be recognized.

Informal Recognition and Rewards

Informal rewards that managers initiate to recognize and motivate certain individuals in a timely way. Here are six ways to get the most out of informal rewards:

  1. Match the reward to the person’s personal preferences—some people are more motivated by a letter of appreciation.
  2. Match the reward to the significance of the achievement—don’t overdo when recognizing people for small achievements;
  3. Give the reward as soon as possible after the achievement;
  4. Explain why the reward is given;
  5. Recognize groups and individuals within groups—recognize everyone on the team, but single out those who made the greatest contributions;
  6. Find out what your workers value as rewards—if the yearly bonus, for example, is now considered an entitlement, it no longer has the power to motivate.

To encourage specific achievements or contributions by key performers on highly valued assignments, consider the following seven rewards:

  1. Outstanding Employee Award, based on completing urgent projects, collaborating cross-functionally, generating money-saving ideas, and fostering teamwork;
  2. Productivity and Quality Awards that provide meaningful incentives or rewards;
  3. Employee Suggestion Awards that encourage employees to submit more ideas;
  4. Customer Service Awards that encourage the highest standards of service;
  5. Sales Goal Awards that reward high performance;
  6. Team Awards that reward all the members; and
  7. Attendance Awards that encourage employees to be prompt and not miss workdays and Safety Awards that recognize employees for following safety procedures and minimizing accidents.

Formal Employee Recognition and Rewards

Formal Recognition and Rewards

Formal recognition and rewards that the organization initiates to motivate all employees. A well-designed formal rewards program will help keep your most valued employees. Here are some ideas:

  1. Multilevel reward programs and point systems that are tailored to the needs of different employees and recognize a few employees in a dramatic way.
  2. Contests that run a short time, have simple rules, offer desirable prizes, and reward performance directly and promptly.
  3. Field trips, special events, and travel that provide “bragging value.”
  4. Education, personal growth, self-development, training and services that build needed skills.
  5. Advancements or promotions that add responsibility, give special assignments, or allow people to mentor younger employees or lead a cross-functional team can yield payoffs in visibility and job enrichment.
  6. Stock or ownership incentives, such as employee stock options, that motivates performance and retention.
  7. Celebrating employee anniversary dates helps to keep long-term employees.
  8. Custom benefits, health, and fitness programs that allow employees to select benefits that best fit their needs.
  9. Charities, volunteer activities, and service projects that encourage employee participation.

Relate formal rewards to organization and employee needs, ensure the reward’s fairness, and present the rewards in a timely manner. Talk up the value of the rewards, but do not oversell the program. If you are not sure what recognition to give, just ask! If you do not tailor the reward to the employee, the reward will not have the motivating effect you desire. Give them several ideas to choose from and a chance to write in their own ideas and submit their preferences.

Ask Two More Questions for Employee Preferences for Recognition

To get the desired effect from your recognition and reward efforts, ask your people two questions:

  1. For what do you want to be recognized?
  2. How would you like to receive your recognition?

'1501 Ways to Reward Employees' by Bob Nelson (ISBN 0761168788) Start recognizing your workers, not as you would like to be recognized, but as they would like to be recognized. Instead of focusing on big events, work to create a culture of appreciation.

Make acknowledgment a part of the daily routine. Become an obsessive observer. Notice what other people are doing and acknowledge their efforts.

A simple “thank you” or “awesome job”—sincerely conveyed can transform a relationship.

Grade your organization on recognizing results what can you do to improve in this area.

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Marissa Mayer’s Office Hours at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) For about 90 minutes a day, beginning at 4:00 pm, Mayer used to hold office hours at Google. She was a professor before she came to Google, and she kept office hours going. The much-vaunted “open office” for engineers, where bringing brownies increases a project’s chance of approval by 50%. Google’s Marissa Mayer cleared an hour and a half of her diary at the end of each day and staff could book an amount of that time by putting their name on a board in front of her office. This permitted her to supposedly fit a large number of very short meetings into a block of time where employees could come and talk to her about anything. Get-togethers which evidently emerged interesting product ideas counting Google News. A decent option perhaps than filling too much time up with the half hour/one hour blocks that managers tend to segment their calendars into, or to keeping an completely open door guidelines which might lead to excessively common interlude. Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

Another Mayer habit that annoyed colleagues was one she picked up straight from academia. For many years at Google, Mayer insisted that if her colleagues wanted to meet with her, they had to do so during her “office hours.” Mayer would post a spreadsheet online and ask peopl~ to sign up for a five-minute window. When Mayer’s “office hours” rolled around in the afternoon, a line would start to form outside her office and spill over onto the nearby couches.

Office hours are socially-acceptable in an academic environment because the power dynamic is clear. The students are subordinate to the professor, who is usually their elder and mentor. But Mayer’s office hours were not just for her subordinates; they were also for her peers. So there, amid the associate product managers waiting to visit with Mayer to discuss their latest assignment or a class trip to Zurich, sat Google vice presidents—people who had been at the company as long as Mayer and in some cases held jobs as important as hers.

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