August 31, 2007

11 simple rules for building a civilized workplace

On Bob Sutton’s site there is an interesting post on this new book: Bill and Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World’s Greatest Company about the founders of Hewlett Packard. In his post, Sutton focuses on Packard's 11 simple rules for building a civilized workplace:
1. Think first of the other fellow.
2. Build up the other person’s sense of importance.
3. Respect the other man’s personality rights.
4. Give sincere appreciation.
5. Eliminate the negative.
6. Avoid openly trying to reform people.
7. Try to understand the other person.
8. Check first impressions.
9. Take care with the little details.
10. Develop genuine interest in people.
11. Keep it up.
Don't you agree that's an inspiring list? There seems to be a clear correspondence with some solution-focused principles. What do you think for instance of point and 5 and of 7 and 10? You can read Sutton’s post here.

August 30, 2007

What can I learn from this?

A client of mine has had a difficult year with many hardships. One of his parents died and his wife has a severe chronic disease. During the many hard moments he has gone through he has found that there has been one question which has helped him to get through the problems. Each time something bad happened, he asked himself: what can I learn from this? Looking back, he said that this one question has been more important than anything else to cope with his troubles. It helped him to stay focused and to keep on doing what the situation required him to do. It has been a great coping question.

August 29, 2007

Looking at a stone

“I was looking at this thing just yesterday,” he said, smiling. “It was nine in the morning when I put it under the microscope. Outside it was sunny, just like today. I kept turning the rock around, looking at all the fissures, the intrusions, the dozen or more different crystal formations inside and around…then I looked up, and thought that a storm must be coming, because it had gotten so dark…then I realized that it was not overcast, but the sun had been setting – it was past seven in the evening.” Quote taken from this review.

August 25, 2007

Learners and nonlearners

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.”
- Benjamin Barber (I found this quote here)

Consultant between two arguing managers

Consultant Erik Kleine shared a case with me about a situation in which he winded up between two arguing managers. "The tension between the two had been building up for some time and I wasn't too surprised when the situation escalated. It happened when the three of us were having a meeting. After one of them had made a critical remark about the other one's performance, a severe dispute emerged and I was caught in the middle. How could I solve this without choosing sites? I decided to let them rage on for a few moments. After a few minutes, I suggested to end the conversation and to continue it soon in a somewhat calmer atmosphere. With one of the two I agreed to talk further that same afternoon. With the other one, I continued talking, after a brief break, over a cup of coffee. In those two brief conversations both of the managers mainly blew of steam and they were very critical of one another. The next day, I went to work early to have a follow up conversation with both of them. In those conversations I invited them to look from a professional perspective at the other person and to identify at least five strengths of the other person saying that people are never only bad. I asked them if they could work again with the other person if the other one would use the strengths they had themselves identified. I invited them to think about that. Fortunately, things cooled down rapidly. I had a third conversation with the two of them. I explained which strengths they had identified in the other person. Then I shared with them how I had learned to appreciate both of them and how I thought they had the potential of being a very strong couple. I asked them what they could do to get their cooperation going again. This helped. Both of them have now said they want to work again with the other one and they have started to do this again. It was interesting how focusing explicitly on positive points has helped to prevent the situation from getting worse.

August 23, 2007

How has civilization triumphed over warlords?

David Maister asks on his weblog how and why civilized society in most countries has triumphed over warlords. An interesting topic of course. If we'd find useful answers we could benefit both in international politics and in business organizations (where tyrannical behavior is not quite extinct, see Bob Sutton's blog with many stories on assholes in organizations). I like the topic and the way David phrases the question which is inherently solution-focused (he essentially asks: what has worked in the past to solve this problem?). I posted a response on David's site linking to two perspectives on how civilization has managed to triumph over warlords. You can follow the continuing conversation here.

August 21, 2007


Some time ago, I have mentioned the work of Anders Ericsson, a leading researcher in the field of expertise development. He has demonstrated through research that building top expertise is more than raw talent a matter of long and repeated deliberate practise. Okay, deliberate practice is important, but what is it? How do practise deliberately? Stephen Dubner of the famous Freakonomics book and blog has written a post about this subject in which he neatly describes what deliberate practice is. He writes there are at least three key elements to deliberate practice:

1. Setting specific goals.
2. Obtaining immediate feedback.
3. Concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

Read Dubner's post for more info.

Also read: Deliberate practise

August 20, 2007

New website by Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck has a new website for the promotion of her book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success. It´s a great and very informative website. If you liked my interview with Carol you must visit it.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner