Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beware - not every day should be a holiday


Eggnog tea cookies
Originally uploaded by Mrs.Catman


Oh my goodness! The cookies, the parties, the shopping, the cookies, the concerts, the school productions, the wrapping - oh, and did I mention the cookies? There are good reasons why we should not be in holiday mode every single day. Yes, yes, peace on earth and goodwill to all is a wonderful thing to have year round, but think about the rest of it:

  • The insulin manufacturers would experience a profit windfall from the new cases of diabetes as a result of all of the sugar- and fat-laden carbs we would be consuming every day.
  • Those of us baking the cookies - if we kept the same pace that we keep during the holiday season - would expire from the workload. Or we'd feel like we'd been magically transported to pioneer days, when all women did was cook and sew and clean and have babies - and that consumed all day every day.
  • We'd have to buy new clothes, a side effect of the daily cookies. Not that buying new clothes is a bad thing, but the stores wouldn't be open because of the holidays.
  • We'd go broke from the constant gift buying. And you think you run out of ideas now...
  • I can tell you after the recent snowstorm experience - that having all the family in the house all day every day because it's holiday vacation...someone would die, and it wouldn't be accidental!
  • Many of the men among us would be ready to throw in the towel, because these holiday parties are hard enough to endure when they only happen a couple of times per year. At this rate the town bore would be able to tell the same old story not only 3 or 4 times, but 30 or 300 times!
  • I suppose we'd run out of stuff, because everyone would be off work and not producing anything. Except there would still be a crew going strong at Denny's, making Grand Slam Breakfasts 24/7. Nothing stops the Grand Slam Breakfast. And of course WalMart would be open as well. Thank heaven, because where else could we buy presents on a holiday?

Really, though, it is the novelty of it all that helps the holidays stay special for us. We wouldn't have the excitement that comes from anticipation, and the satisfaction that comes from recounting the enjoyment of a special occasion just past if every day were a holiday. I can't believe I'm saying this, but even I would get sick of chocolate chip cookies if they were a steady diet. When things are in front of us every day we get used to having them there, and we are likely to take them for granted.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happiness strategy - choosing your memories


I was at a birthday party yesterday for an uncle who just turned ninety years old. It struck me as I was sitting there watching a slideshow of his life, how he is one of the people I think of when I talk about people who are genuinely happy. Walter hasn't had a particularly easy life - two wives died, the mother of his six children died when they were fairly young. He's had hip replacements and other physical ills, but he's out and about, socializing and smiling. He has a wife now, one much younger than him, and who keeps him active. He still sings solos in church from time to time. When it comes to happiness and its impact on longevity I think of Walter.

Of course a commemorative slideshow is designed to pull out the good memories and literally shine a light on them. We saw shot after shot of Walter, as a young man holding his new wife's hand, in uniform, with babies on his lap, then children, then grandchildren. We saw him at home, at the beach, in the woods, in groups and by himself. But the smile was on every photograph.

Regular readers know that I've been working my way back through Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. I've been taking my time because I want to remember as much as I can. It's important to me not only for my own use - the word "happiness" shows up in the vast majority of my clients' definitions of success. Yet for some, unlike my uncle Walter, it seems to be quite elusive.

One of the ways in which Seligman says we create more or less happiness for ourselves is by the ways in which we remember - by the things we choose to pull out of the fullness of experience and save for future reference. We remember the things that we notice, and since quite a lot of our attention is based upon habit, our noticing and therefore our memory selection is done subconsciously.

That's great if we gravitate toward the rewarding, fulfilling, positive interpretation of even the darkest events. But many of us have a talent for seeing the single speck on a clean sheet of paper - and so our memories reflect the flaws, the shortcomings and the not-so-inspiring moments. Those memories obviously aren't very supportive of a happy, fulfilling life.

Like any habit, you can become better at choosing the memories that will feed and support you. Here are some ideas:

  • When you tuck your child in at night, ask him or her, "What was the best thing about today?" You can begin to train your child in this way to choose the memories that will help them feel happy, strong, etc. Ask yourself the same question.
  • In a group of colleagues - in a meeting or gathering - ask, "What went right since we were together last?" Trust me, in some groups in particular it takes some practice to see beyond what didn't go right. I've seen some people prompt their neighbor at the table, because they witnessed a victory that the individual involved didn't even register in their conscious mind.
  • Once a week, or once a day, write down 3-5 things for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as "I'm thankful that I got the shopping done," or "I'm grateful that my neighbor helped me to shovel my walk."

Your future memories will be built upon the foundation you establish by the information you choose to sort in or out. You can remember someone's endearing qualities and virtues or you can file their warts in your memory banks. It's your choice - and they're your memories.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Yes, this is a shameless plug!

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  • Confidential to the Executive Suite
  • External Obstacles to Change
  • Internal Obstacles to Change
  • Prototype for Sustainable Change
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santa the slavedriver


Elven slavedriver.
Originally uploaded by infinitefurby


This photo by infinitefurby is called "Elven slavedriver," and I must admit that it cracked me up. Just how much of a Theory X leader is Santa, especially right now with his critical production deadline looming? It looks to me like there might have been some consquences associated with his demanding behavior! Like maybe some of the elves caught up to him!

This Santa is not alone - many leaders struggle with the expectations held for them in their roles. Sometimes they feel like they are hearing mixed messages about what it means to be an outstanding leader. Is it about

  • The completion of a task on time and on budget or
  • Is it about the people?

To further complicate issues, is the leader's primary concern

  • This task right now or
  • The larger view of the health of the company?

The taskmaster, like Santa here, pays a price if he overemphasizes the task. Dwight Eisenhower said, "Pull a string and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all." Santa needs to be able to help the elves become as committed to that on-time delivery as he is. So the route to the successful completion of the task becomes the engagement of the people.

If the engagement of the people is the route to the successful completion of the task, then how does Santa reconcile the people with the process? He knows that he needs to be measuring, and looking for both effectiveness and efficiency. He's looking for the removal of waste - and he knows who's doing the wasting.

What Santa needs to know is that the point of process focus is that the elves are genuinely trying to do a good job. In some cases they're expending huge amounts of energy on Santa's behalf. When he recognizes that fact (and acknowledges it out loud to them,) he helps them feel engaged with their work. The process is a series of routine steps used to complete the work, and many times there are logjams, waste and unnecessary delays built into it. And in most cases, the elves didn't develop the processes. Santa did.

When he focuses on the process, Santa isn't being bloodless and cold. He's not ignoring the people either. He's realizing that a bad process can cause even the most devoted elf to create a not-so-great result. And he's also realizing that he can't do Christmas single-handedly. Santa is thinking that he has to figure out how to pull the string - how to let the elves know that he appreciates all of the overtime they're working and all of the paper cuts and hammered thumbs they're enduring.

That way they will still be around to help him deliver beautiful toys at the exact right time next year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First things first?


Spinning
Originally uploaded by Bashed


How many plates can you keep spinning in the air at once? OK then, how many balls can you keep hurtling through the air without one dropping on the floor? Is there one in particular that you can't afford to drop?

Juggling doesn't even feel like a metaphor some days - it seems as though you are literally moving your hands from one task to the next, tossing it up or to another person, then catching it again before it hits the ground. How do you choose which pieces of your life should have your attention right now? Here's one take on it:

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four - family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life." - Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola from 1959 to 1994.

Wow. Nothing like driving the implications home! But while balance sounds right and good in the abstract, how do you accomplish it in the real world? You have a finite resource of time, and energy and focus - while developable - aren't in limitless supply either.

So life balance becomes a process of allocation. You make decisions you feel better about when you choose your balance consciously, and according to your values - nobody else's. You can make your balance:

  • Daily - with time slots scheduled for the activities and people that are important to you.
  • Weekly - since some days are already weighted toward one area or another.
  • Monthly - you might have some projects or activities or people that, to make ample room for them, require a bit of planning .
  • Seasonally - you might be on vacation right now as you read this, or planning your next one. You might choose a lifestyle where you can be home with the kids every summer then back to work in the fall.
  • Life-stage oriented - your children are only preschoolers for a short while, and your parents won't always be with you. You can choose to make the most of each life phase, understanding that you might not be able to do it all at the same time.

The juggler drops the plate or the ball when he takes his eyes off of it for too long at a stretch. The same goes for life balance.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is happiness a function of heredity?


Smile ~
Originally uploaded by Sanctuary Photograghy → !!?


I've been rereading Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.. Seligman asks the reader to consider a Happiness Formula: H=S+C+V. In other words, lasting happiness is the sum of our happiness Setpoint plus Circumstances plus Voluntary behavior.

A happiness setpoint, much like a weight setpoint, is a level at which we have natural stasis. Other psychologists like Sonja Lyubomirsky and David Lykken concur with Seligman that a significant proportion of happiness comes from individual genetics - approximately 50%. So if your parents were generally happy you will have a greater likelihood of being so - likewise, if your parents weren't happy you are likely to have a lower setpoint on the happiness scale.

We are not sentenced (or endowed, for that matter) with our genetic happiness setpoint. We can impact our happiness by making intentional decisions about our circumstances and our voluntary behavior. Lykken, a behavioral geneticist says, "Whether we bounce along above it or slump along under it depends on our - or our parents' - good sense and good training." We might require regular "happiness workouts" to maintain the level we want to see in our lives.

Stewing over our emotions doesn't help happiness; it can interfere with other activities that are more likely to have a positive impact. Distraction can usually be more effective than examination. We can succeed in raising our happiness level by choosing to seek out regular positive emotional charges by engaging in activities in which we feel flow or mastery. Some people respond well to a practice of documenting things for which they are grateful - they work at filtering in the good things that happen to them by writing a gratitude journal on a daily or weekly basis.

Ulrich Schimmack, Ph.D. recommends that "people should focus on changing their circumstances rather than their moods." Moods are transient, whereas circumstances have a longer-term influence.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Close to the finishing line - what's your position?


Finishing line
Originally uploaded by Baywhale


It's so close that we can practically smell the finish of 2009. What's your position? Win? Place? Show? Or are you still behind the crowd, limping from a bad start out of the gate?

If you haven't achieved the goals you set for this year you still have an opportunity to gain the intelligence you need to make a better next run. The race isn't over unless you decide not to run again. Let's take a look at the places where you might analyze this goal to find the keys to your future successes:

  • Your goal - Was it specific? Measurable? Achievable? Realistic but a stretch? Time-deadline stated? And of course, was it really yours? Do you want to take another shot at it?
  • Were the rewards of achieving it and the consequences of not achieving it big enough to motivate you? Did you articulate for yourself just exactly what the potential ROI was going to be?
  • Did you experience any unanticipated obstacles? Are there assumptions you made when you set the goal that you are now finding not to be accurate? Are there any more that you now can identify, and that you need to plan around to have a greater likelihood of success?
  • Are there backup solutions that you have not yet tried? Have you discounted or eliminated possible solutions prematurely as not workable? Would it help you to come up with a brand new solution, maybe even one that's a bit unconventional or sounds downright wacky at first blush?
  • Did you convert your solutions to specific action steps - the way you move your hands and feet - and insert them into your calendar to make sure you're working on them? Did you actually do them, or did you get sidetracked?
  • How realistic was your timeline? Did you need more time for certain actions than you expected? Did you work forward from your start date or backward from your target date in setting your timeframes? Did you build in buffers, and did you need to use any or all of them?
  • Was any part of the goal delegated? If so, was follow-through on other people's part an issue? Was your own follow-up an issue?

Here's the deal - you can never fail if you look at every experience as an opportunity to learn, and you don't stop taking action in the direction of your goals. The key is in getting X years of experience rather than 1 year of experience X times over.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being happy doesn't mean you're stupid

I'm beginning another look at the seminal work by Martin Seligman, PhD. titled Authentic Happiness. The premise of Seligman's work is that too much time and too many resources are invested in thinking about illnesses, about pathologies in psychology. In his words, "Lying awake at night, you probably ponder, as I have, how to go from plus two to plus seven in your life, not just how to go from minus five to minus three and feel a little less miserable day by day."

Seligman believes that our focus on negative psychology has stemmed from a "rotten to the core" perspective on mankind. This perspective starts with the idea of original sin and goes through Freud's ideas that all behavior is compensating for bad memories or dark urges. Even when people do something kind and selfless, the "rotten to the core" philosphy says that they must have some self-serving motivation or they must be making up for some inner flaw.

There's so much to this study that I'll be touching on different components in posts over the next couple of weeks. One of my favorite insights, though, is the pervasive cultural perspective, a negative psychology legacy, that you're only happy if you're too stupid to see reality - this is called depressive realism. The theory originated when "C.S. Pierce, the founder of pragmatism, wrote in 1878 that the purpose of thought is to allay doubt."

This means that we only think when something is wrong. Otherwise we trip happily along, brains unengaged. So for you blondes out there who have heard one too many jokes at your expense, you can thank the depressive realists.

Flying in the face of the "happy means stupid" camp is evidence that happy people behave differently - smarter - than unhappy people when faced with real-life situations. Happy people believe that their behavior can have an impact on the outcome, so when faced with information that says, for instance, that "three cups of coffee a day will increase your risk of breast cancer," they are more likely to change their behavior than are less happy people.

A negative mood can cause people to look at a series of options and choose none of them - they have been so successful at identifying the flaws in each that it seems better not to act. Seligman calls it "battle stations" mode of thinking - where we focus on what is wrong and then eliminate it.

Seligman says that some tasks are suited for the critical frame of mind - doing taxes, copy editing, deciding who needs to be downsized, etc. But other tasks call for creative, generous and tolerant thinking - creative writing, designing a sales program, brainstorming on solutions to problems. Set the location to influence your mood - help yourself create the setting that will create the greatest productivity for the task at hand. It doesn't matter if the chair is uncomfortable, the room chilly and the group contentious if you are auditing the financial statements. But if you want to ponder getting married or noncompetitive sports, a comfy chair and congenial company will contribute to the output you want.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Deja Vu - The Same Old Roller Coaster


Whew! Most of us have been pulling some Gs during the last 12 months, haven't we? That first big hill on the roller coaster isn't for the fainthearted, and some of us found out the hard way that we don't want to do the big hill again.

Whether we like it or not, that roller coaster we've been riding is, to a large degree, of our own making. We set up much of the potential for the big hills and the dizzying turns by our own actions:

  • How much risk we assume in our work and in our investment portfolios
  • How well we plan for contingencies
  • How extensively we prepare ourselves for change
  • How intentionally and how promptly we act when conditions are in flux
  • How much we turn our future over to somebody else to manage
  • How regularly we add new learning to our brains
  • How long the view is that we take when we project into the future
  • How we consider the best interests of others as well as ourselves when making decisions

I'm sure there are other methods by which we are influencing the scale and velocity of our individual roller coasters, but in many cases we're not aware of our own engineering. Our choices have become our habits, and often we ride with our eyes closed. Even though we've ridden the same hills before, somehow we manage not to see them coming.

There are those people who love the dips and curves - they ride with their hands up in the air. But if you're one who doesn't like to be flung and flipped and jerked - what are you doing to change the design of your roller coaster? Are you working right now to smooth some of the hills and ease the curves? Have you set goals and taken action to minimize your risk and maximize your capacity and effectiveness? Or will you be riding the same roller coaster next year?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The pros and cons of consensus


consensus
Originally uploaded by recovering lazyholic


Consensus is often the decision making tool of choice when undertaking projects like strategic planning with a group. Yet consensus can be an obstacle to real team unity. Let's take a quick look at it.

First, an operational definition: Consensus is the common sense of most after the consultation of all. This means that consensus is not necessarily unanimity of thought. In my groups, participants are given the responsibility to verbally jump up and down if they disagree with the direction the decision is headed. That way they can slow the process down for a fuller discussion.

Pros of consensus as a tool

  • Probably the biggest pro is that you leave the process with the whole group's commitment to the outcome. If, instead of seeking consensus, you take a vote - someone will leave the process with the potential for a "win" if the initiative or decision fails. They will also be identified by other group members as opposing whatever measure was passed, creating the potential for in-groups and out-groups.
  • Because it doesn't require unanimity, consensus can keep things moving. You don't have to prolong the discussion to convince hold-outs as long as the group as a whole is together and the non-conceding parties have agreed to move forward despite their reservations.

Cons of consensus as a tool

  • I've been in many work settings where you could see the decision locomotive speeding down the track. In some of those cases a particularly influential individual, or one with greater authority, presented an idea and the heads started to nod assent so quickly that you could practically feel a breeze. Whether flattery or self-serving is the reason, the yes-people let bad decisions make it through the gauntlet untested under the guise of consensus.
  • A setting of trust and openness is needed for consensus to work properly, and that's not always in evidence. Participants need to leave egos, titles and surnames at the door and have enough confidence in the safety of speaking plainly that they candidly share whatever reservations or concerns they have. If you don't have the prerequisite climate you have to establish behavioral ground rules in order for consensus to be real.

Alternatives to consensus

  • Items are listed on a board and each participant has, for example, 5 vote stickers to "spend" however they choose by affixing them beside the best of the various alternatives. This can allow the group to prioritize their favorite options without doing a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" vote on one of them. This method will still allow participants to see momentum toward one or more choices, so they may choose to get on board with one that they see is popular.
  • A slip of paper is distributed to each participant, where they write their preferred choice from a selection of options generated by the group. The papers are collected and counted, with the biggest vote-getter being the selection by the group. Because this is a voting method, individuals will still know whether they were opposed to a particular choice. But it does prevent individuals from feeling pressured into agreement - their vote is confidential. And it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for others in the group to hassle them later for their expressed points of view.
  • Provide group input but delegate the final decision to an individual. If this is the ground rule you are going to use, however, make sure it's clear to the group before you generate input. Otherwise, the participants might feel set up or resentful if their suggestions are not implemented.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quality - inspected out or built in?

I was just talking to a woman the other day who was going to a job interview to be a quality engineer. She was out of work for eight months - after being laid off from her last job in this same role in another company she decided that she'd change careers. She didn't enjoy being the "bad guy," outing all of her colleagues' bad quality habits - she was burned out from the stress. But out of necessity and the recognition that a J.O.B. is better than a long stretch of no income, she heard of an opening as a quality engineer and decided to go for it.

Quality engineers and their peers in other business settings are often set up to be the quality police, to ferret out errors and problems. No wonder they feel stressed out at their unpopularity in their respective workplaces and their inability to achieve the results they believe are expected of them. Their colleagues are conditioned to view their visits with the level of anticipation usually reserved for the dentist's drill or a visit to the principal's office. The dynamic sets departments up to hide problems rather than fix them.

This role stems from an exception-driven, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Quality problems go all through the system and are identified at the end, and the stress in the quality engineer's role isn't the only negative side effect. A huge amount of cost is burned up in product that might have been corrected at step 2, but instead made it all the way to step 8 - inspection - before the problem was identified.

A better use of the quality engineer is to set up the system such that individuals at any point in the production process have the tools and the authority to identify problems, to stop the line if need be, or to make improvement recommendations. The quality engineer becomes the person who is a partner in implementing improvements rather than a hall monitor who tattles on Johnny.

Quality is not just a tools and techniques issue - it's a cultural issue. Supervisors and managers set up the inspection culture when they wait for something to be broken, and when they rely upon the quality engineer to identify and resolve issues.

Quality is not only one person's job - it's everyone's job to play a role in creating the kind of products and services that keep customers coming back for more.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our exquisite corpse on The Value of Communication

See yesterday's post on what the exquisite corpse concept is all about. This will read like a series of nonsequiturs - the idea is to search for the larger meaning behind the mash-up. Here's what we have:

Flowery words often hide the real meaning. Closed minds never create a learning environment. The challenging word is instrumental in revealing the true intent. Cranky men always play a devil's advocate. Open mouths can't replace open ears. Missing information often creates speculated scandals. Play idea is not an ideal thought. Well cooked thoughts always make for tasty times. Honest talk doesn't equal full disclosure.

Hasty deduction (like ancient egg) looks good from outside. Big ideas frequently lead to small successes. Cool heads always contribute cold logic. Smart women secretly love the near-impossible challenge. Concise emails often yield the better result. Transmission of confident thoughts obfuscates one's ability to clarify and improve those thoughts. Incisive questions quickly reveal the naked truth.

A clear and effective ad could possibly generate an interested lead. Even a simple message naturally requires ample intelligence. Smile and laughter is the universal language that is understood by all.


Thanks to all of the contributors to this exquisite corpse! I'd welcome your comments on application ideas for this exercise - we did it just for fun here, but I'm thinking that if given
  • a very narrow topic
  • no peeking at other contributors' work before the whole is done

this process could reveal some truths beyond the diversity of the responses - because of the diversity of the responses. I'm also thinking that it's better not to try to organize the responses, but rather to allow the juxtaposition of unlike or even incompatible or conflicting ideas to reveal its own message.

Thanks for playing!

An exquisite corpse is not an attractive dead person


Thank you to my LinkedIn buddy Andrew van Stys for this blog idea:

The exquisite corpse is a method by which you take the independent contributions of several collaborators and create a mash-up of the result. The artwork above is an example, where several individuals put quite diverse contributions together.

According to Wikipedia, the exquisite corpse activity was done as a parlor game of sorts by the Surrealists, who called it "Le cadavre exquis boire le vin nouveau," which means "the exquisite corpse will drink the new wine." I suppose there's a reason beyond this quote why they were called Surrealists, but this would be as good an explanation as any.

You can do pictoral exquisite corpses, where you might divide a paper into thirds or quarters, or fold it. The point is for the collaborators to be unable to know the other collaborators' contribution before they do their own. The independence of thought removes the limits they'd impose on themselves if they were concerned about "fitting in" with the rest of the picture.

You can also do written exquisite corpse exercises, with or without rules for each contribution (length, word type, etc.) Each contributor folds the paper before passing it along so the next contributor has, at most, only a word or two to use as their cue.

You could use this exercise to stimulate creative thinking at the beginning of a working session, to demonstrate the impact of designing products using functional silos, or simply as an art project or entertainment.

I'm going to try this with my LinkedIn group today and see what we'll get. Stop back tomorrow for a look at our exquisite corpse.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Can't be "voted off the island?"


Some days it would seem to make life at work easier if someone could be voted off the island like they do on TV. Simple as that - one day they're here, the next day they're gone due to whatever transgression they've committed. If their team says they're out, they're packing their bags.

This is no news flash - although some days fellow employees feel like survivors, there are people in your company who will likely never be voted off. People like:

  1. The CEO in a closely held company
  2. The son, daughter, spouse, brother or sister of the owner
  3. The person who has been in the company since the time of the dinosaurs, and who has invested blood and sweat along the way
  4. The individual with very specialized expertise that's critical to the company's success

How can you make the most of the human "legacies" in your organization?

  • Put them in the right roles. There's no rule, for instance, that says the boss's son has to be the future president of the company. Do assessments to find out what their natural skills and aptitudes are, and place them where they can make the greatest contribution. Rather than try to change the person, adapt the role to align with their gifts.
  • Develop them. Nobody is ever "done" developing unless they choose to shut themselves away from the opportunity. Not everybody automatically has all of the tools they need to be successful. Granted, if an employee has spent 25 years operating in a certain way it will be harder for them to change methods than it will for a rookie.
  • Support them - and the rest of the company - with effective process and structure. Sometimes the issue is not the individual, but rather with a lack of shared goals, or of a commonly accepted methodology for making decisions. Common sense (one of the characteristics sometimes perceived to be lacking in the "legacies") isn't a finite thing, but rather is a set of criteria for evaluating options and deciding on action.
  • Create yardsticks for performance. Goals-based management helps all employees, not just the legacies, understand where they're headed, what success looks like and how it will be measured. Goal plans define a specific path to get there, and can be used as development and communication tools.
  • Recognize that sometimes this is a diversity issue. Diversity in thought is often harder for people to accept than is diversity in race, religion, gender, etc. Some companies contain a strong social network, or cliques, where there are "in" people and "out" people. Team projects, cross-training, and cross-functional development can help to overcome some of the problem. Sometimes teams benefit from communication tools to help them "translate" their ideas for people who think differently from them. But sometimes leadership's role is to help folks understand that what is, is - and they'll have to learn to deal with it.