Ka la hiki ola: It’s a brand new day for Managing with Aloha

Aloha friends, I have an exciting announcement to share with you!

We’ve been working on a brand new site platform for ManagingWithAloha.com and you are invited to join us there! Click in to take a look, and select your new subscription preference: RSS or Email, for all my new articles will be posted there.

Why the change?

There are a couple of reasons. Some are due to technology: In recent years ManagingWithAloha.com was primarily used as a purchase page for the book, and as private portal for clients I was working with directly, and Talking Story became the beneficiary of my publicly published writing. Our m.o. at Ho‘ohana Publishing was to spin off my other projects onto separate, dedicated sites of their own (you may recall time we’ve shared on Joyful Jubilant Learning and Teaching with Aloha.)

Platform advances, and progress in my own learning about them (‘Ike loa in action!) enable me to do something I have wanted to do for a very long time now: Consolidate my online efforts into the one place it’s always radiated from, and always will — Managing with Aloha as our philosophical rootstock and fertile ground; our Mālamalama.

The biggest reason I’ve wanted to consolidate AT Managing with Aloha is that it’s my full-time “sensibility” and most passionate work: It’s my Ho‘ohana, that sweet spot I will constantly encourage you to grab for yourself too. When I practice Nānā i ke kumu, and “look to [my] source” I always find MWA there to guide me. Talking Story is there too, but within the much larger whole, for Talking Story is essentially our “Language of We.”

My strategic planning had to catch up with my learning, and I feel it has, thus my excitement! Upcoming plans for ManagingWithAloha.com include bringing back our Value of the Month program (a brand new version!) and Ruzuku Coaching for The Daily 5 Minutes (and other Say Leadership Coaching programs) before the year is over.

Remember An Aloha Business for 2012?

All of this has to do with mine, and my own workplace ‘Ohana in Business:

  • STEP 1: Allow your people to design their own work schedules, both where and when, and how much.
  • STEP 2: Value-align your Customer Service with a value-mapping 12×12.
  • STEP 3: Realign your own Ho‘ohana as an Alaka‘i Manager.

I never ask you to do anything I am not doing myself.

Please update your subscription

Please take a moment to subscribe to Managing with Aloha now; I would be so honored by your decision to remain an active participant of MWA’s Ho‘ohana Community — that’s who you have always been to me here on Talking Story. Managing with Aloha will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014, and we have already made plans for something momentous to celebrate — all of this is part of the work we’re doing to prepare well and imua; move forward with renewed energies and a compelling vision.

Here are the direct links again: Your choices are RSS (for your preferred Reader) and/or Email (my suggestion for Alaka‘i Managers who print or forward, to share my articles in their ‘Ohana in Business huddles).

You know me, I love the interwebs. However I can very confidently say that this will be the last home-base subscription bounce I ask you to make. ManagingWithAloha.com will be the parent to my business entities, and even to RosaSay.com.

I have much more work to do in populating ManagingWithAloha.com as the single-site Community Resource it will now be, but I’m confident you’ll agree we’ve made a great start in getting our primary Resource Pages in far, far better shape for you there!   The work there is my mission, however YOU are my reason: Your ‘Imi ola (best possible life within Aloha) is our shared vision.

The New Here? page I’ve included would be my first-visit recommendation: It offers defined reading pathways to help familiarize you with my sitemap design.

This site, TalkingStory.org will remain online for an indefinite time so you can find your old favorites should you wish to refer to them. I say “indefinite” because it will eventually be retired as edits of fresher relevance appear at Managing with Aloha going forward.

Mahalo nui loa

Thank you so very much for all the wonderful time we’ve shared here at Talking Story. See you at Managing with Aloha!

Ka lā hiki ola: It’s the dawning of a brand new day.

We ho‘ohana kākou: We work with Aloha together.

With my Aloha,
~ Rosa Say

An update which may interest you as well:

Talking Story is Thriving. It’s What We Do.

Managing with Aloha

Q&A: Leading up, and Changing Culture

Received these questions from a friend of mine, a professor teaching a college course on the “Emotional Health in Organizations” and thought I’d share my answer with all of you who read Talking Story as well:

How does one effectively  “lead up” in their organization, if it is still managed like the Industrial  Revolution? How does one BEST change the culture from within? Is it REALLY  possible”since  the key leader always defines the culture of the organization????

Yes, it’s possible, if you are willing to do what it takes.

Life is short, and we all have more options in the best possible living of our lives, options we may not readily see at first glance. This is why great managers are needed, and why the coaching industry thrives: Everyone can use help with seeing all their options.

Room for everyone.
I don’t care how ‘flat’ a company is, management isn’t going away, and we don’t want it to!

One question at a time. Order is important, for Cause and Values are the keys.

First of all, keep your eye on your ultimate reward, and not just on the temporary obstacles. Be sure you see that reward clearly, by getting people out of your cross hairs.

When managers ask me variations of these questions, I’ll always ask them to step back far enough to see the big picture view with more clarity first — i.e. See the organization and not the people within it. Step back so you can reassess the values of the organization as Managing with Aloha teaches, and still know you commit to that organization’s cause (mission and vision): Can you fully make the decision to press on because you are sure that’s where you want to be?

Said another way, are you sure you work for the best organization for you, best deserving of your Ho‘ohana service? If so, let’s talk about “what it takes” to effectively “lead up” (more on that in a moment.)

Green Light: When your personal values are a match for the values of the organization, everything is easier (and more fun). Everything becomes more realistic — more probable.

Red Light: Conversely, the greater the mis-match in values, the harder work will become because win-win agreements are increasingly difficult to achieve, and

Yellow Light: Productivity and Progress require working agreements.

The people we work with — the “key leader” and many others — will always loom larger than the organization itself in our day-to-day work. However the truth of the matter, is that worthy organizations, deserving of our own worthwhile efforts to support them, are longer lasting and have more endurance, outliving the people who populate them, no matter their individual stamina or tenacity as a team. For example, Steve Job’s personal influence essentially ended with his death last year, while Apple’s lives on.

If you say, “yes, this is where I have a values match with our organizational cause, and I am determined to stay and work my way through this” let’s move forward and talk story about “leading up.” For then, and only then, we have what’s ‘best’ and what’s ‘really possible.’ We can have positive expectancy, for that’s what value alignment delivers (see Key 3).

Can you keep a secret?

The Golden Rule comes to work with us. Always has, always will.

No matter where you sit in an organizational hierarchy, both leading up (inspiring the creation of new energies), and managing up (channeling existing energies and all available resources toward mission and vision) really amount to one thing, and that’s doing your part to make work flow productively for everyone involved, so you can continue to do the best possible version of your own work.

In other words, after you turn the keys above (Value alignment, the Cause of organizational mission and vision), the next key you need brings other people back into the picture with Relationship-building (for teamwork, network partnerships, customer sales etc.) You work to be a great partner, so you have best-functioning partnerships, for life is not a solo proposition.

In our Managing with Aloha vocabulary:

By ‘Managing up’ you make crucial work easy for your boss, for you need to partner with each other. (Managing-as-verb channels existing energies, existing resources in the adjacent possible)

By ‘Leading up’ you inspire your boss and others with your work-relevant and/or cause-relevant ideas, and you ramp things up. (Leading-as-verb creates new energies, and new resources)

When you make work easy for others, they will reciprocate and make it easier for you as they’re able to. Often you’ll have to be the one to help them see how they can help you, for they aren’t living in your shoes, and so a good relationship between you is required, and always will be (thus The Daily 5 Minutes to help). There are centuries of past workplace experience which is testament to the Golden Rule and its ethic of reciprocity, including my own experience in a number of different companies. I’m confident that your work experience illustrates this too.

The Golden Rule works outside the organization as well, in all its connective networks.

“The Law of Reciprocity must be respected to build a sustainable business of any kind. This law postulates that in almost every case people reciprocate, especially when it comes to energy or generosity.”
Tim Sanders, author of Love is the Killer App and The Likeability Factor

So to be practical, and address your first step in “leading up,” return to your own workplace relationships and improve them in mutually beneficial ways. You don’t have to break rules and make new deals — in fact, you shouldn’t have to if you’re right about that organization being best for you. You just have to work within your present scope of influence in a way that serves others well.

It requires a win-win attitude. Start with what you can do well, and your scope of influence will grow by leaps and bounds. Best of all, it will grow in a way that’s Pono, and in alignment with your integrity, ethics, and personal values. That’s all integrity is, really, taking the actions which ‘tell the truth’ of your values.

Random is good

Can anyone change a culture from within?

I say yes, IF you act as the Leader with Integrity as just described, for I believe that leadership isn’t a position or title. Leadership is a degree of effectiveness in spreading your ideas, and anyone in an organization can lead; the word is a verb.

Culture isn’t static either: I write Talking Story today in support of the tenets of Managing with Aloha, because I so fervently believe that managers create culture, and that Alaka‘i Managers have the best shot with creating healthy workplace cultures in our society today, because Aloha is always part of the agreements reached within their partnerships.

I would agree that to actually “change a culture,” at least in the shorter term, the leaders of an organization must embody the integrity of the values they claim the company holds dear. And by the way, values can, and do change over time” ask anyone at Apple what’s starting to happen now with Tim Cook.

Curvy petals

If leaders don’t embody the values which match up with company mission and vision they won’t last that long. There will be no blooming until another leader takes their place, or they are otherwise overruled by the greater influences within the culture, and one of those things will eventually happen. The next leader to take their place can come from anywhere within an organization. When we look outside the organization instead, there is usually widespread awareness that we have a void internally.

And again, that’s where I think Managing with Aloha comes into play: To help Alaka‘i Managers mentor those leaders of tomorrow, or grow to become those Leaders of Value Integrity themselves.

Stick with me kid.

A Current Case Study:
On January 1st, Jim Sinegal, co-founder and long-time CEO of Costco, turned over the reins to new CEO Craig Jelinek (an internal promotion). Jim Sinegal has been called one of the world’s top retailers, but when asked what is proudest achievement is, this is what he said:

“I think the thing we’re most proud of is the fact that [co-founder] Jeff Brotman and I built a team that’s capable of running a business this size. There’s a management team in place that is very, very good and that has enabled us to sustain the business for a long time.”

Read more: The Empire Built on Values.
As of this writing, Costco has grown to be the 3rd-largest retailer in the U.S. and the 7th-largest retailer in the world, with more than 161,000 employees, 595 warehouses in 8 countries, and more than 64 million cardholders.

“Jim Sinegal has done an amazing job of keeping the company focused on their core values to create one of the strongest consumer franchises in the world.” — Ed Weller, senior research analyst at ThinkEquity in San Francisco, quoted in The Seattle Times

“Jim built Costco based upon the highest standards of ethics and integrity. He has always believed that if you hire good people and pay good wages and benefits, good things will happen. He also frequently reminds us that we must spend 90 percent of our jobs teaching our employees. Those principles define our corporate culture and make Costco a great place to work and shop.” — Ginnie Roeglin, Senior VP, E-Commerce and Publishing, and Publisher of The Costo Connection.

On Other Days: Creative Structure

If you’ve read Talking Story for any longer-than-recently length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of creative structure. I like to test new habits and shift my routines, to explore and experiment with variation, but I also do so with the hope that I’ll nalu it, and fall into a cool, unexpected, and pleasing rhythm of some new sort.

Structure is comforting, and I like structure. But nobody said it had to be stagnant, stodgy and boring. So I willingly devote whole weekends to designing trusted systems. I especially love values-based structure (no surprise there, huh), for it serves as a kind of good-habit filtering of all that life can throw at you.

However I like change too. That is, I like it the way most people will discover they actually like it: When they’ve been the ones to choose the change, being more proactive about it versus being swept away in the tide because someone else decided to “make waves” and rock the boat.

If you can become a person who chooses change, you begin to dabble, and play with it. You reveal creativity you hadn’t thought you had, but do! What others choose to do doesn’t bother you as much, because you’re too busy with your own thing. The boat might be rocking, but you’re standing in the best place — next to the life preservers — and you already have a plan.

Frank Merriwell's Discovery Yale Story
Vintage poster courtesy of The Happy Rower on Flickr

Time is finite. Content isn’t.

We all get 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 52 weeks in a year. What we choose to fill those time frames with, represents an abundance of choice — sky’s the limit. The question I have for you is this: Do you make all the choices you get to make?

Note the distinction: Not choices you have to make, but choices you get to make.

One consequence of the conventional 40-hour work week, is that most of us have created our ‘weekday’ and ‘weekend’ paradigms, even if our schedules dictate when the weekend will actually be (mine will happen this coming Tuesday and Wednesday this particular week).

Well, what if you got more than that?

If you are successful at designing a 20-hour work week for yourself like we talked about last time, a supremely wonderful get-to moment the world is paying serious attention to now, this is what you’ll get:

  • Work days
  • Weekends
  • Other days

The creative structure of your ‘Other Days’ is completely up to you. How would you design them?

Making life different, and doing it on purpose.

For instance, my Work Days typically go like this:
Wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, fit in my run or workout as possible. Shower, dress the part in store for the day, have a light breakfast. Go to work in the way I’d planned to ‘hit the ground running’ the night before, and by merit of my Weekly Review (told ya, I like structure: Deliberate Inputs).

In comparison, my Other Days go like this:
Wake up at 5am. Brush and floss my teeth, as I make faces at myself in the mirror and read whatever affirmations I stuck up there on post-its. Capture whatever they make me think about in the Voice Memos app on my phone. Get dressed in the most comfortable, clean clothes I have in reach; no match, no matter (to be truthful, I usually go for more color, and the purposely unprofessional). Start the fixings of a good breakfast, including firing up my Krups cappuccino maker and grinding some good Kona beans. Sit on our porch with my coffee, and find something to take at least one photo of as the sun comes up. Decide how to use the photo as I finish my breakfast. Read whatever is on my Kindle for at least an hour, and for as long as I want to. Write something, and see if I can illustrate it (I want to learn to draw in some distinctive-to-me way). Use the rest of the day being unencumbered, and however my spirit moves me.

In the values-speak of Managing with Aloha:
…Work Days are for Ho‘ohana, Kuleana and KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u
…Weekends are for ‘Ohana, Mālama and Mahalo
…Other Days are for ‘Imi ola, ‘Ike loa and Nānā i ke kumu

Kindling with my morning coffee
I never check my email on Other Days, and I force myself to ignore my computer’s Work Day bookmarks. If I open my laptop I’ll go straight to my G-Reader and follow links for the 5,6, or 7 degrees of separation my inspiring stable of blogging accomplices and instigators send me toward, and I merrily wander away the time, stopping occasionally to curate my Commonplace Book in Evernote. I seek to remember the good by dipping into the older archives of Ho‘ohana Aloha (my Tumblr) so I can Ho‘omau with it (stretch it out, and make it last). I read a lot on Other Days; deep reading, resisting all urges to scan or skim.

Other Days are for discovering how much of a weather-wise person you are (different from weather-lucky). I get outside as much as possible and take a lot of walks on my Other Days, and I call people just to talk story on the phone for a while, or I write letters and thank you notes. Sometimes I simply stay inside the entire day long, and savor the spots of refuge and rejuvenation of my home – absolutely heavenly when it rains! (Home is different on the weekends, for then I share it with family …I’m cleaning and catching up with chores.)

I’m an obsessive planner with my Work Days, necessary by merit of the travel and island-hopping I do, yet I am very diligent about fitting in my Daily 5 Minutes and having other conversations. On Other Days I plan nothing but creative pursuits I want to try (handwork, crafty things mostly), and just fall into the environmental structure I have described. My Other Days aren’t exactly hobby days though, for my goal is more variety. More random life-immersion. More other-ness.

I write a a lot, for that’s how I tend to think, and reason things out. As you might guess, most of what I publish on Talking Story got written on my Other Days, at least in draft form.

Here’s something I just read on my Kindle that was pretty reaffirming:

“What kind of environment creates good ideas? The simplest way to answer it is this: innovative environments are better at helping their inhabitants explore the adjacent possible (defined in this post’s footnote), because they expose a wide and diverse sample of spare parts—mechanical or conceptual—and they encourage novel ways of recombining those parts. Environments that block or limit those new combinations—by punishing experimentation, by obscuring certain branches of possibility, by making the current state so satisfying that no one bothers to explore the edges—will, on average, generate and circulate fewer innovations than environments that encourage exploration.”
— Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

These days, managers are pretty good at thinking about the environmental creativity fostered in the workplace. But what about in those places where everything else happens?

I propose that you can have Other Days right now, even if you start with just one day a week, and no matter what the rest of the world is doing in battling or keeping with their existing conventions.

Try it.
Your dentist will be very happy about the flossing thing.

Just in case you missed these:

  1. Value Verbing: Theme 2012 with your Aloha Spirit
  2. An Aloha Business for 2012
  3. On the 20-hour work week: All in favor?

An Aloha Business for 2012

Last post, we talked about an approach for the January overwhelm that can appear this time of year, and our talk story about it slanted toward the personal. Let’s talk about your workplace today.

If you are a business owner, or an Alaka‘i Manager — one with Kuleana (a sense of personal responsibility, and personal accountability) within your circle of influence, whatever its scope, AND you have the Ho‘ohana intention to manage with Aloha — this post is for you.

An Aloha Business for 2012

What will the Aloha business look like and feel like? Why will it be the best kind of business to tackle the coming year’s challenges with the greatest prospects of success? What will it take, so it truly thrives and prospers?

Here are my suggestions for you.

STEP 1: Allow your people to design their own work schedules, both where and when, and how much.

If you’re a manager who maintains control of a schedule, it’s time to let it go. To be frank, you should’ve let it go a long, long time ago. If you have a group who works to obey their assigned time on the clock versus the demands and mission of the business, you still have a ‘staff’ and not a ‘tribe’ who will rally around a common cause with the vibrant energy an Aloha-valued business thrives on.

Even businesses with operating hours can successfully put their work schedules in the hands of their people, and should do so. You replace the schedule the manager has controlled (and refereed, yuck) with an agreement: Allow your emerging tribe to self-organize around necessary coverage first, and then self-direct, filling in the blanks with the rest of the work. Those ‘blanks’ are the opportunities to go above and beyond mere coverage, illustrating for you the work they choose to do because it is most important, either to them, or to your customer, and aren’t those the two groups of people who count most in the workplace equation to begin with?

You’ll be in for a might-be-rocky adjustment at first, but I promise you, the self-sorting, self-directing, tribe-loving work of your people will begin to reveal its treasures. They will surprise you, delight you, and fill you with pride.

If you’re arguing with me in your head with this, insisting that, “well fine, it doesn’t have to be me, but I’ll probably need a lead,” that lead will emerge — your people will elect their most trusted peer. Let it happen and stay out of it, for you have other things to do (read on!)

A related read in the archives, about giving permission: When Managers Say the Right Things. To be an Alaka‘i Manager, work on this deliberately: Speak with those two critical intentions of giving permission and sharing your appreciation.

STEP 2: Value-align your Customer Service with a value-mapping 12×12.

Imagine what it will do for your business — your profits, your cause, your reputation, your standing in the community — if you improve your customer service x12 in 2012! This is how you get there:

Begin a value of the month program which will focus on work-aligning the answers to just one crucial question month after month, a two-fold one: a) What does this value mean to us, and b) How do we share this value with our customer?

Sometimes the answers will have to do with changing what you allow a customer to do or not do: The answers which emerge as the month goes by won’t only be about you and your tribe. That’s good: Get rid of your sacred cows, reinvent and innovate, move forward and get better.

Start with the values which are most important to you, and work your program with the 12th of each month as day 1: Keep that x12 number in mind every way you can, and have this program take you through next year’s holidays to January 11th, 2013. For instance:

January 12-February 11: Ho‘okipa, the value of service in generosity.
February 12-March 11: Mālama, the value of caring, compassion, and stewardship.
March 12-April 11: Kākou, the value of communication, and inclusivity.
April 12-May 11: Lōkahi, the value of teamwork, cooperation and collaboration.
And so on.

What you will begin to discover — and it will surprise you how quickly this happens — is that your self-directed tribe will apply this value alignment to everything else too: That’s the magic of value immersion. You, as Alaka‘i Manager, take the lead with inspiring the charge for the customer, because they won’t always speak for themselves with the same “me too!” urgency that your tribe will. In fact, think about bringing favorite repeat customers into the program as well: Ask them to be your mentor of the month!

STEP 3: Realign your own Ho‘ohana as an Alaka‘i Manager.

If you tackle my first two suggestions with full commitment, you will be able to redesign your own day-to-day work as a manager — and as an emerging leader — because of the natural replacement of tasks that happens for you.

It won’t all be peaches and cream at first, for you have to get through the crucible of change that leads to the good stuff. For instance, you may discover that some people leave the tribe (or are forced out) because their comfort zones erode and they can’t evade the radar any longer — ultimately a good thing. Taking care of your tribe will always be Job One of the Alaka‘i Manager, but you are progressing magnificently, and growing as your people grow in their own self-direction. Keep your eye on the prize!

Eventually, there will be two game changers you can concentrate on from now on, because you have brought them into the realm of your “adjacent possible” (see footnote):

  1. The development of your people: How can you mentor their growth? Start here: Are you doing the Daily Five Minutes yet? then review this: Annual Appraisals, and then key in to ‘Ike loa, the value of lifelong learning (Review chapter 11 in Managing with Aloha.)
  2. Your business model: Re-sort out the financial common sense and innovative sense of your business model — compensation, profit-sharing, reinvestment, community philanthropy, all of it. Become the leader you haven’t had the time to become up to now, for that time is here.

I know you can do this, for you are an Alaka‘i Manager.

I won’t be posting again until January 12th or later, so you have the time to plan this, have your group meetings necessary, invite customer mentors and get started. Do write me if you have a question, or encounter a speed bump and we’ll talk story about it.

We ho‘ohana kākou, and always with Aloha!
Rosa

… if you ache for something fresh to read between now and my next posting, remember that you can always click over to my Tumblr, Ho‘ohana Aloha, and see what finds are getting added there.

Footnote: “Adjacent possible” is an environmental condition I learned about in Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. “The phrase captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation… the adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself” — if you, as manager, are willing to take that leap into a better future, bringing your workplace with you.

Irresistible

Are you just catching up with our Ho‘ohana Community now? Here are links for our most recent talk stories this week:
January 1: What do you know to be sure? Hō‘imi ola.

Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou — Happy New Year!
I sincerely hope that 2011 ended with ma‘alahi joy for you (contentment), as it did for me. I am flush with the lush generosity of Mahalo (an elemental gratitude) as I sit and write this for you. Good endings help us create good beginnings…

January 2: Value Verbing: Theme 2012 with your Aloha Spirit

In my Makahiki letter, I’d said that I love this time of year because it is Ka lā hiki ola (the dawning of a new day) at its most pervasive moment: We human beings collaborate in self-care, and in our Ho‘ohana intentions. The whole world seems to be in sync, as we collectively look back to assess what we’ve come to know. We corral our confidences and our strengths, and then we look forward, expectantly, and with hopeful optimism knowing those confidences and strengths are packable and adjustable: They’ll remain with us, and they’ll remain useful.
What’s not to love? In a word, the overwhelm.

Written for January of 2010, and a good read to review: The ALOHA Point of View

Purchase Managing with Aloha at Amazon.com in hardcover, or in the Kindle Store.