Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - Captain George Wood - Bravo Company 1-67 Armor 4th Infantry Division

Instead of posting an inspirational quote today, I wanted to comment on the significance of this holiday. It is meant to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and fellow man. Thankfully, during my most dangerous time in Iraq, all my soldiers came home safe and whole (with some minor scarring). Unfortunately I can't say the same for the Company that I was a part of.

On November 20, 2003 an IED exploded next to the tank titled Beast, killing our Company Commander: Captain George Wood. He was out on patrol with the Company XO, traveling through areas everyone in the Battalion had traveled on and would travel again after that night.

In nearly 13 years I've shared very little about the man how has been a mentor and role model for me. Honestly, it's always been a difficult topic, and I've never been sure I could do him justice. In honor of Memorial Day, I will share some of the details I remember for this fallen hero:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Inc Magazine - How Being Busy Makes You Less Productive

How Being Busy Makes You Less Productive is an article by Travis Bradberry, discussing the drawbacks of being busy, specifically with a focus on Multitasking. The funny thing to me is that term is nearly the holy grail of performance for the uninitiated, but the bane of people who are in the know. Just this past week I was at an event where a successful entrepreneur said: "If you put 'Multitasking' on your resume, there is NO WAY I will hire you!"

Why? Because it's a falacy! It's bubkis, heresy, artifice, flawed, a delusion of the human mind. At best, a person is performing rapid task switching and typically performing all the tasks poorly! If you doubt me, check out this video from CNBC, and feel free to comment on your results:

Travis indicates a few studies I wasn't aware of, but the truth of the tests was the same. People are slower when performing "multitasking" and the likelihood of making a mistake are greater.

So why do we do it? Because Busyness is a sign of Success to more people! We equate busyness with getting things done, but I have to ask: Are we doing the right things?

Honestly, how are you addressing your day? I am trying to make better use of my time when I can. What I am trying to do, typically, is schedule my day to get the primary activities done. I also schedule time to look at emails and return phone calls. This way I am not feeling the need to check on some of the biggest distractors of my day. If I finish a task early, I will either move on to the next, take a break, or return some missed calls.

In doing this, I am finding that I accomplish more throughout the day, and less seems to be dropped. Let me know what strategies you have to get your work done. I'd love to learn how other people are effective.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The 8th Diffuser - Technology

In a previous post, I discussed how communication is very similar to a body of water. It can be clear or very muddied, and a lot of it has to do with elements that diffuse (make unclear) the message. I listed 7 in the original article. After a conversation with a new friend (Steve Beckles-Ebusua, The Speaker With the Orange Tie) at a conference this past weekend, I realized there should be 8.

The 8th Major Diffuser of Communication:


Why Technology? Have you ever misread the intent of an email? A text message? Missed an implication of a phone call? The list goes on and one. While everyone looks at Technology as a great simplifier, when not used properly, it is actually a great complicator. 

So here are some guidelines for technology:

1. Pick your medium carefully

Email, Text, Phone, Skype, Face-to-Face all have different implications. While Email may be the easiest because it is send and forget, it is also the easiest to confuse. Is the information or request you are sending simple to understand (and not just you THINK it's simple)? Is there any chance that the receiver can misinterpret? Is receiving a response important? If you answer yes to any of these, you should probably start working your way to more interactive forms of communication.

2. How are you communicating within the medium

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? In writing, ALL CAPS is practically yelling at people. Use it carefully (or not at all!). On a phone conversation, are you trying to be funny? Without the facial ques from you, can the person on the other side of the line tell? 

3. Are you ensuring full comprehension

As identified in the first Communication post, it is the job of the Communicator to ensure comprehension by asking the Receiver to reiterate back what they heard / understood. Too often this step is missed, especially when communication happens via technology. I can't count the number of misunderstandings that were recognized by the statement "But I sent you an email!" How that email is interpreted, what type of follow-through, and any follow-up were all dropped because the Communicator thought an email was good enough and never checked to ensure full comprehension. When you work through technology, at the simplier levels you miss out on the ques that can inform you of comprehension or confusion. In email and text you don't get the tone of voice, facial reactions, or body language.

A phone call adds the tone of voice, video conferencing the facial reactions, and face-to-face the full spectrum including body language. As many communication experts will tell you, in communication, it isn't generally what you say, but how you say it. If you take away the ques and slash it down to plain words, the level of comprehension can drop too. As the Initiator / Sender, it is your responsibility to confirm understanding. That may mean following up an email with a phone call or face-to-face just to ensure understanding (especially if there is a lot of information or chance for misunderstanding). 

Final Thought

One Final Thought, Technology is also a Diffuser because it is one of the greatest distractors today. We look at our phones constantly, even when we are talking to other people. That little device is more important to some people than the person that is in front of them! Social Media updates, Sales notifications, new YouTube videos can all distract a Receiver from the message you are trying to send. Ever been on a conference call where someone obviously was doing something else? Ta Dah! Technology (and multitasking) got them. 

So, when you are communicating, remember the original 7 Diffusers, but don't underestimate the 8th Diffuser: Technology. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Video Conference Call

Tripp and Tyler have some pretty entertaining videos. In this one, you get to experience all the pain of a Video Conference Call. Behold the future of work, and what we will continue to look forward to on a regular basis (if trends continue):

Monday, May 23, 2016

Leadership Quote of The Week - Robert Louis Stevenson

Provided by Erin Morey

Leadership Quote of the Week (#QoD):
Keep Your Fears to Yourself, But Share Your Courage With Others - Robert Louis Stevenson

Again, thanks to my wife and son for the pic! Sometimes the things that are strange are the things that you fear (like a worm when you're a little kid). Courage cannot exist without fear, and either can be contagious. What you share will spread. In combat I learned that what the leader showed was what the platoon would reflect. As a leader, if you want your team to move forward, then you keep the fear inside, display the courage, and you’ll be amazed at what your team can accomplish!

Join us weekdays at 12CST on Periscope (@C4Leader) for our Leadership Lunch. If you missed one, check out my YouTube Channel (C4ELT, See you then!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The 5 (That's Right, 5) Creeps

Project Managers talk about the Triple Constraints, Three Legged Stool, Iron Triangle of Scope, Budget, and Schedule.
The Iron Triangle

Created by Erin Morey for

For the unfamiliar, according to the Project Management Institute:

Scope: The Work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions 

Budget:The approved estimate for the project or any work breakdown structure component or any schedule activity.

Schedule (not defined in PMBOK 4th Edition): A model reflecting the timeline for execution of the project.

Each of these has a factor which adds a specific word: "Creep." When Creep happens, it impacts the overall project and most likely falls into one of three categories.

Scope Creep: Sometimes identified as Feature Creep or Gold Platting is the addition of unapproved new requirements to the already defined and approved scope. Just because the changes are documented doesn't mean

Budget Creep:  Items cost more than originally budgeted, or more money is spent on higher quality items than required; and these items are not approved by the management of the project. Budgets get blown on a regular basis.

Schedule Creep: Tasks take longer than originally planned, pushing out the schedule and impacting the final completion date. Again, the deadlines are missed, but the impacts are not identified or approved by project management.

These are typically deadly to a project when not properly managed. However there are two more Creeps not typically discussed yet just as deadly. These Creeps sneak up on the management team, and can dramatically impact the original three Creeps. These Creeps are:

Dream Creep: Related to status reports, this is typically represented as a % Complete that is only true in the providers dreams. However if the leadership of the project doesn't have strong awareness, this is taken at face value and can suddenly manifest itself in the other Creeps. Another way that this manifests is when progress is going really quickly for the first 2/3rds of a project, and then suddenly slows to a crawl.

Hope Creep: Typically appears hand-in-hand with Dream Creep. This is where the team hopes to maintain the deadlines or budget, rather than report the changes. Items are missed, fall behind, or underestimated, but the leadership team is unaware, because there is still hope of a recovery.

Which means we need to revise the Iron Triangle. How about this:

Created by Erin Morey for

What should we call it? The Steel Pentagon? The 5 Creeps? I'm open to suggestions, comment below to let me know!

Back to Hopes and Dreams. The Hopes and Dreams of the project team, while being their own Creeps, will also dramatically impact the three recognized Creeps of Project Management.

How do you fight the Creeps? The initial starting point is awareness of the Creeps. Awareness means that you can at least be on the look out for it.

Another solution for immediate implementation: % Complete Rules. What I mean by that, is that a specific % complete can only be claimed when something tangible is done. An example:

1. 10% of the task can be claimed for starting the associated documentation
2. 50% can be claimed when the documentation is under peer review
3. 75% can be claimed when the documentation has been submitted to the client for the first time
4. 100% can be claimed only when the document is approved by the client without changes.

This would need to be defined by task type, and may not be as easy as what I identified above, especially if working in an Agile environment. In those cases, because of the daily stand-ups and the consistent level of involvement, misleading Hopes and Dreams may be less prevalent.

The true solution in either case is strong Change Management. Unfortunately, that is a lot more complicated topic than the 5 Creeps. I have a program for Change Management which includes The 5 Creeps, a workbook, templates to get you started, and an audio of my workshop titled The Game of Change: Without Change Management It All Comes Tumbling Down. As we are looking at a website revamp, send me an email if you would like to know more, or look for it in my store once the revamp happens!

Thanks for reading, and don't forget your suggestions for the new icon. I look forward to your input!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I've reminded of the glass elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...

What would you do? How would you react? After all, we all try to bus through the ceiling right?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - General George S. Patton

Special thanks to Erin Morey for the picture of the III Corps Statue on Fort Hood

When you are in leadership roles, you may have the title, but what are you really doing? In some cases, people can be more hindrance than help, even when they are trying to be a leader. One of the lessons I learned from the military was that I didn’t need to always be providing “leadership”. I didn’t need to lead, and the platoon didn’t want me to follow, so I had to get out of the way! I have a couple of sergeants to thank for teaching a young LT that lesson.

Join us weekdays at 12CST on Periscope (@C4Leader) for our Leadership Lunch, where we will discuss the quote of the day. See you then!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Inc. Magazine - How To Stop Worrying What Other People Think Of You

Inc. Magazine showcased an article: How To Stop Worrying What Other People Think Of You by Lolly Daskal, President and CEO of Lead From Within. Within the article Lolly shares 14 (for some reason she skipped number 10. Oh well.) different ways to eliminate the worry associated with wanting people to like us.

Leadership always means doing what is right for the goal, mission, and team. Unfortunately, that also means that you can't always be liked by everyone. A lot of the time, in fact you will have to make hard decisions that others won't agree with.

Back in 2012, I shared Colin Powell's Leadership Lessons. In this particular case numbers 1 and 18 hold significance:

Being Responsible Sometimes Means Pissing People Off
Command is Lonely

A leader has to be able to make decisions (in some cases THE decisions). That means (s)he needs to be prepared to piss people off, and honestly, be lonely within the team. If  you try to please people, or are worried about what people think, somewhere / sometime you will make a decision based on that criteria, rather than what is best for the entire team or goal.  In fact, that worry will shackle your (leadership) hands more strongly than handcuffs.

As is my habit, I would encourage you to read the article, as I won't rehash the 14 tactics here. There is one thing not listed in the 14 that I wanted to express (and perhaps it was the missing 10th item?):

10. Take the Long View: People in general are short sighted. Your job is to think long term. As a leader, you should find the long term perspective, which sometimes means breaking some things now in order to have a better future. One of the items I've learned is that people may not like you in the short-term, but if you do the right things for the goal / team, in the long run they will always remember you and the majority will think highly of you. 

Now, I would be very interested in knowing what you think about the article and her recommendations to stop worrying (personally, I lean towards 7-9). Do you have a personal favorite? What was missing from the list. Comment below to let me know!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Procedures Are Like Roads... Morey's Law #24

Procedures can make or break a team, project, or even company. In the military we created Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), designed to define how jobs were to be done. Basically, best practices. Every industry has best practices. In Oil and Gas, most companies have a set of procedures designed to make the jobs move faster and safer. Most of these standards should be aligned with American Petroleum Institute (API) Standards or from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), as two of many examples (ISO, ITIL, DNV, etc.). By maintaining this alignment it helps the industry to have a common level of understanding and comfort with partner companies; knowing they all work toward the same standards.

The catch, however is keeping up with the Procedures (and standards). API, ABS and every other organization responsible for maintaining standards releases periodic updates to their standards. The individual companies are responsible for maintaining their own procedures, so that means they must keep an eye out for these updates and react accordingly. In addition, lessons learned by the company as it progresses through work should be identified and incorporated into the procedures; so that they are always reflecting the most current standard, best practices, and lessons learned. That is where Morey's Law #24 comes in:

Procedures Are Like Roads, Properly Maintained Ensures Smooth Travel, Unkept And Ignored Guarantee Potholes. 

Several years ago, I came across a situation with a company I was brought in to help with their Project Management (PM) Practices, among other things. As I started to develop the PM practices, I also started looking at other company procedures, in order to better understand the company and help use the same "voice" when writing these new standards. As I explored the procedures, I learned that although the company claimed to live up to API and ABS standards, they were 6-8 years behind in updates! Not only that, but their own best practices were 8-10 years since their last update.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Email in Real Life

What if Email happened in Real Life? As in, stated in person exactly what is in your emails directly to the recipients of the email? Here's a pretty good example:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Margaret Wheatley

Provided by Erin Morey
I read an article in HBR about how corporations typically only implement incremental change, rather than massive shifts. The reasons identified in the HBR article was about the lack of risk tolerance, and the fear of reprisal for taking a chance; but the details of this quote basically simplify that analysis. Are you allowing creativity, or incremental steps? As a leader, which environment are you fostering?

Join us daily at 12CST on Periscope (@C4Leader) for our Leadership Lunch. If you missed one, check out my YouTube Channel (C4ELT, See you then!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Forbes - Close Your Open Door Policy And Do This Instead

Last week I shared my thoughts on an article from Kevin Kruse (Forbes writer) about Why Successful Leaders Don't Have An Open Door Policy. This week Kevin shared part two: Close Your Open Door Policy And Do This Instead. 

While his response shared many of the same thought patterns as my own, his suggestions were different. The similarities:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reflect Not React

In a previous post I indicated that the most common mistake a leader can make is a failure to delegate. A reply received was that the biggest mistake a leader often makes is "not taking a deep breath, sitting still, doing nothing, and LEARNING JUST HOW THINGS WORK."  - Shelley Horwitz. I realized that there was a potential Morey's Law here, and while thinking it over, connected it to a lesson from a First Sergeant: Reflect Not React.  

When something happens, take a breath and a moment to assess the situation. Often your first reaction is not the smartest, and causes more problems. Better to reflect on the situation then take action, than simply react to the new stimuli.

In 2003, the 4th Infantry Division was in Iraq about a month and a half, and I'd been assigned a tank platoon (2nd Platoon Bravo Company, called BLADE). It was uncommon to switch out leaders in a combat situation, at least when there wasn't a casualty driving the change; but the chain of command felt it was necessary. I was responsible for 4 tanks and 16 guys basically overnight, with no time to interact with them, and no training cycle to find a rhythm prior to my "assuming responsibility." Not an ideal situation.

Early in this assignment, the platoon rolled toward a radio station outside of town for a guard rotation. As we drove through town, everything was calm. Shop keepers haggling with customers, vehicles driving up and down the street, and the local kids playing soccer in the field near the road. They stopped their game to run up to the edge of the field and wave as we drove by.

Enjoying the sensation of sun and wind on my skin as I stood head and shoulders outside the tank, I raised my hand to wave back....

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wacky Wednesday

From Mommy Has a Potty Mouth

I can relate to this picture. My youngest son was known for causing disruptions in our adult friendships. Our friends would offer to look after our kids for an afternoon. When we returned, the helpful friends would look stressed and frazzled, mostly because our youngest was capable of making anything into an American Ninja Warrior Course before he even knew the show existed!

My wife and I had learned to live with it, because no matter what we did he would find ways to make it interesting. Unfortunately, most of our friends didn't have that experience and would never look after our kids again!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Aristotle Onassis

#QoD, #C4Leader, Matt Morey, Project Management, Leadership,
Provided by Erin Morey

Leadership is truly tested in the dark moments. In the darkest of those moments, the leader identifies the hope (the light) to get the team through. One of the greatest incongruencies of leadership is the need to be both realistic and optimistic. Pessimism isn’t really an option for leaders. In those dark moments, a leader has to provide the hope, in order to continue moving forward. Sometimes the leader has to break out a flashlight and make their own light.

Join us today at 12CST on Periscope (@C4Leader) for our Leadership Lunch, where we will discuss the quote of the day. See you then!

Previous Leadership Lunches can be found at our YouTube Channel: C4ELT