Learning and Weaving: The absorption benefit of your Personal Philosophy

Absorption

You see, hear, and read a lot each day.
You discover goodness, and learn all sorts of things.
And if that’s not enough, you share in what I write about here, or find and clip on Ho‘ohana Aloha.
How do you apply what’s most useful to you and retain it?

I’ll ask the question in another way: What is the Personal Philosophy you weave it into?

Weaving

As a Talking Story reader, you know that my weave is Managing with Aloha, the value-verbing philosophy I’ve based on 19 values and 9 key concepts. Managing with Aloha has been an extraordinary gift in my life, serving me in several ways. I don’t pretend nor profess it to be the ‘be-all and end-all‘ — in fact, it’s somewhat the opposite: What it does for me, is absorb additional learning so I can quickly use it and retain it.

Here is an example of how I did this yesterday, as my commentary on The Five Universal Themes of Business as compiled by Todd Sattersten:

1. Clarity of Purpose:
MWA Key 3 – Value Alignment, and
Key 8 – Sense of Place

2. Wisdom in Decision Making:
MWA ӬKey 3 РValue Alignment, and
Key 9 – Palena ‘ole (Growing within your full capacity)

3. Bias for Action:
MWA Key 2 – Ho‘ohana (worthwhile, intentional work), and
Key 7 – Strengths Management

4. Openness to Change:
MWA Key 4 – Role of the Manager, reconstructed, and
Key 6 – ‘Ohana in Business (strategic form/function)

5. Giving and Getting Feedback:
MWA ӬKey 1 РAloha (as the foundational rootstock it is), and
Key 5 – Language of Intention (our communication key)

Creating a culture is creative, romantic, dreamy. But then you’ve got to give it teeth, and get it to actually happen. Third, you have to Ho‘omau, and persist in stewarding that culture so it will sustain itself and live beyond you or any single manager.

You can use MWA in this way too if you wish, or you could use another philosophy: Before Managing with Aloha came together for me, I used Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for nearly a decade, a philosophy which I would discover he’d based on the timeless principle called the Law of the Harvest:

We tend to reap what we sow.   “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.

Scout Orchid

Usefulness is about Fit

When you learn something new, and you want to keep it close, and make it optimally useful to you, ask yourself, “Where does this fit in my personal philosophy?”

Ask, “How could this grow me?”

Push your thinking toward the value alignment (or concept alignment) that is evolving into what you truly believe, and increasingly will stand for.

Focus on your Deliberate Inputs. Don’t be too quick to move on and gather more. Dwell on what you just learned, and take more time to savor it. Think on it more deeply, and question it. Discard the clutter, and weave in the keepers. Take action in some way to satisfy your sense of urgency. (This is a good suggestion: Recreate whatever inspires you.)

One glorious day you’ll have Ka lā hiki ola, that ‘dawning of a new day’ where you realize you have your very own version of Living, Working, Managing, and Leading with Aloha. It’s your brand and your Personal Philosophy. It’s become your weave, for you’ll never stop learning, and that’s a good thing.

Palena ‘ole

You have way more capacity than you’re aware of at this moment, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual. Weave it into tangible being.

Learning (the value of ‘Ike loa) is a fabulous thing; weave in your ‘loose ends’ and see what you can create.

Tab it and mark it up!

Aloha! Just joining us?

Talking Story is the blog home of those who are learning to be Alaka‘i Managers — those committed to managing and leading with Aloha. Read a preview of the book which inspired this movement, and visit our About Page. Purchase Managing with Aloha at Amazon.com in hardcover, or in the Kindle Store.

Talking Story with Rosa Say

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.

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? Aloha January!

Well, in a word, the overwhelm, especially in January’s looking-forward progression. There is a lot to sort through and make decisions about, especially if you try to mix new learning into the batch — it’ll be new learning, and so you’re essentially mixing in batches of unknowns. You’re taking some chances, and turning your resolve into another experiment.

There are two trends I’m seeing, where people are trying to self-manage, get better organized, and habit-create more effectively: Word themes and inputs.

Inputs over Outputs

I’m liking the focus on inputs (your activities: what you actually do) over outputs (the end-result outcomes, like goals and objectives).

We have more control with inputs — as the value of ‘Imi ola reminds us, we create our own destiny with each action we personally take. There are several more variables which will contribute to the success or failure of outputs, and they often have to do with other people, whose decisions (and thus actions) are ultimately out of our control. If the only inputs we can effectively direct and control well are our own, we are wise to concentrate our efforts wherever ‘me, myself, and I’ comes into play.

We may want to include others, so corroboration is a good thing. Thus wouldn’t we be wiser to focus on it as an input? How do we collaborate with others? What are the confidences and strengths of our own behavior, and how will we remain humble and open-minded (Ha‘aha‘a, the value of humility) so we become even better, and continue to grow?

Word themes

There’s no doubt about it, words are powerful. To state your choices deliberately, and then commit to them can be highly effective — as long as you actually follow through.

The potential problem I am seeing people run into, is in the choice of words they begin with. Many are outputs: health, happiness, wealth. Others are quite broad and need more description: creativity, freedom, organization. Even a word like ‘focus’ is probably too general: What are you going to focus on, and why?

You may say, “It’s a theme, and I know what I mean.” As a coach I’d challenge you on that: Wring out the details and take a good look at them. Are you giving yourself too much wishy-washy wiggle room? Will it be easy for you to abort, and shift your focus day by day? There’s a lot of noise in our world to get distracted by”

You can probably guess where I’m going with this! We all need help with our follow-through, so get your values to help you. That’s actually what they do best.

Choose Values and Verbs as your Inputs and your Words

Roll credits: As we’ve learned from Managing with Aloha, the big deal about values is that they drive our behavior by taking good direction from our self-aware sources.

Your values are the pilot lights of your human goodness, and they start the best fire (energy!) in the actions you choose to take. They are the easiest actions to follow-through with, because they are about you. Your values will reveal you, they fit you, and they celebrate you.

Knowing your personal value-drivers is self-affirming in the most extraordinary way: You learn about yourself, and what’s important to you, and why. You expose your vitality.

Why do you want this learning about you? The more you know about the wonder you are, the closer you get to knowing what you’re meant to do or create: Your Ho‘ohana (intentional work and purpose-driving) will get naturally connected to the work of your legacy.

Reading tip: If MWA has sat on your shelf for a while, open it up to chapter 17 on Nānā i ke kumu for a good review — “Look to your source” for it’s a wonderful place to be.

So do Choose your Words. Speak them often.

Be decisive so you can begin well. Seize January with both hands and with your soul.

Do choose the inputs which are the actions and activities you’ll commit to practicing daily, and allow them to gain traction, and strengthen you with more confidence.

Just be sure your words (or clarifying phrases) are active verbs, and know which of your personal values they are connected to. Beware the wiggle room, and go for that best fit your values will give you.

Fortify your own life, and begin the day-by-day work on the legacy you are meant to give to our world.

We ho‘ohana kākou, and with aloha,
Rosa

Learn more about value-alignment and value-mapping here: Value Your Month to Value Your Life

Book Jacket for Value Mapping

Revisiting Value Immersion: Where are your hot spots?

Immersion has recently taken center stage in our Managing with Aloha vocabulary and Language of Intention by way of our value alignment conversations here on Talking Story, which in turn led to my newest ebook: Value your Month to Value your Life.

So as you can imagine, the concept of Consumer Immersion leapt off the pages of a book I’ve recently read by Ron Rentel (with Joe Zellnik) called Karma Queens, Geek Gods & Innerpreneurs. The book’s subtitle is “Meet the 9 Consumer Types Shaping Today’s Marketplace” and if that intrigues you, I’ll be posting a full book review before the week is over.

Here’s what we’ve said about Value Immersion here on the blog:

The most effective ‘Value Your Month to Value Your Life’ programs I’ve seen in workplaces, succeed because they go for value immersion. For example, if Kuleana is the value for the month, they look at everything happening during that month through the lens of Kuleana-colored glasses, with the intention of tweaking processes for more value alignment. People put their hand up to work on what comes up. Bosses give the green light to stretch inter-departmentally, encouraging those conversations, and knowing a welcome mat will be in place because the value has been adopted everywhere, even if temporarily.

“Everything happening” means you’re nalu-ing it: You’re going with the flow as events and activities naturally happen because of past habit or current developments, and what you’re “tweaking” is largely your responses to all those things inclusively. As you do so, you tackle everything that Kuleana affects (returning to our example) as the value of responsibility and accountability. For instance Kuleana is a tremendous help as criteria, filter, and priority-sorter when selected during times of company change, because responsibility is very much like motivation: it’s personal and self-driven.

What Value Immersion tackles best is apathy and complacency, for it uncovers the three workplace sins of auto-pilot, lies of omission, and tacit approval.

Compare this with the Consumer Eyes process of Consumer Immersion:

“Consumer Immersion involves tours of category-related hot spots, expert interviews, hands-on experiential visits, and a multitude of real-world consumer interactions. During our Immersions we break bread with consumers in cutting-edge restaurants, sip cocktails with them in their favorite bars, and query them on the street, at the gym, and in the supermarket. Together with our clients [Consumer Eyes is a brand and innovation consultancy] we see how life looks from the consumer’s perspective and let that learning inform all the brainstorming and insight building that follows.”

“Our view of Consumer Immersion is that the best place to investigate consumers’ lives is to speak to consumers where they live, to follow them as they go through daily chores and errands, and to interact with them in a variety of real-world settings. Informally stopping a consumer in the supermarket as she ponders your category on the shelf is amazingly enlightening. Hanging out with 21-year-olds in their favorite club will enable you to examine both their emotional lives and drinking habits at once. Drinking rituals are highly communal, and watching patrons order drinks in a bar can shed a lot of light on how drink choices change over the course of the evening.”

Let’s take the liberty of changing one of those sentences a bit, shifting it to workplace context:

Our view of Value Immersion is that the best place to investigate workplace culture is to speak to business partners (i.e. our preferred name for ‘employees’) where they work, to follow them as they go through daily job tasks and business initiatives, and to interact with them in a variety of their sense of place real-work settings.

Essentially, Rentel is talking about catching people in their natural element, and with their guard down:

“In these situations [of Consumer Immersion], there’s no lapse between what consumers say they do and what really goes on. No matter what a consumer might say about her condiment usage, there’s no substitute for opening up her fridge and seeing a crusty bottle of hot sauce on the back of the shelf and a well-used bottle of mayonnaise up front.”

“So that’s what we do — together with our clients we interview, observe, and join consumers in their activities everywhere from a kitchen table in Boston to behind the counter of a juice bar in Malibu.”

Return to thinking about how you use Value Immersion in your workplace:

Metaphorically speaking, where in your operation are the ‘kitchen tables’ and ‘juice bars’ where more Aloha-based values can deliciously, and nutritiously be served?

The art of managing well is a situational art in so many ways. We seek to catch people doing something right so we can applaud it, appreciate it, and yes, clone and strengthen it. We want to reward the behavior we that we want to have more of, and with value-mapping we are becoming more specific: We are appreciating and celebrating value-aligned behavior.

But so much rides on seizing those opportunities where we “catch people doing something right,” doesn’t it.

Wishing and hoping is not a reliable strategy, for all it delivers is happenstance.

So think of your value immersion design — that simple, yet strategic decision to have a Value of the Month in your workplace as the way you start — as deliberately creating the hot spot you will benefit from.

Create your fertile ground of ‘kitchen tables’ and ‘juice bars’ by choosing your values. You have to take that first step.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The easiest way? Grab the ebook.
Just 18 pages as a printable PDF you can openly share with your team.
Read it together, so everyone is literally on the same page.