Nonsense At Work

#90: December 2014 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift


December 2014

Plan Dumb Blown-Away Holiday Season

Plan to fuhgeddaboudit

Fuhgeddaboudit2Are you planning your strategy for next year? Well, then you had better forget about this year.

What does saying, “Forget about it!” remind you of? Yes, yes, I know it depends on who said it and how it was said. But that’s not the point. Sometimes, telling someone or telling yourself to forget about it means that you won’t, for the simple reason that your brain has now been put on high alert. You cannot easily forget what you have highlighted.

This is why it’s so dangerous to build your plans by projecting this year into infinity and beyond – you are actually strengthening this year’s hold on your thinking, right when you need to free your mind to imagine new possible futures.

Hence the need for fresh thoughts, not stale projections. If you must project, then at least start with zeros. Zero-based thinking will help you lose your memory. You will fuhgeddaboudit.


Where dumb leaders originate

dunceWhile preparing for our own strategy planning event, a colleague reminded me recently that a business is not a democracy. He was concerned that I planned to listen to too many opinions before making an executive decision.

Maybe so, but when you work with smart adults, autocratic orders lead to empty offices – smart employees are mobile.

On the other hand, citizens are not as mobile. Whether you participate or not, you cannot easily escape the consequences of the democratic process.

At work it is easy to believe that your opinion won’t count, even if it is heard. And in a country of many millions, it is even easier to believe that your one vote won’t matter, even if it is counted.

So, if you were too lazy to vote, then Plato speaks to you, “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

Oh yes, the same does apply at work.


Blown-away busy

looking-busyOnce upon a long time ago I was appointed to the position of senior planning manager for a big shipping line, one with real ships and tugs. Soon after I joined the firm, with my ego still bloated, I entered the elevator carrying a stack of documents.

There stood the Chief Operating Officer. He looked at me, looked at the documents, and said, “I see you’ve already figured out that the way to look busy is to carry papers around.”

My ego deflated, but my wisdom inflated – lesson learned.

Now with leaves falling and my wife complaining about untidy Mother Nature, I know exactly what to do. Look busy.

Over years of fake busyness, I have learned three other lessons. One, it is hard work to look busy. Two, it is much harder to look busy at home.

And three, it is much, much harder to fool your spouse than your boss.


There definitely is a hole in this holiday

hole-in-holidayWhen I was a kid the build-up to Christmas was long and slow. Nowadays it just seems to arrive, notwithstanding the hard marketing retailers do to stretch the start all the way back to summer.

This change in tempo has little to do with Christmas becoming The Holidays, nor has it anything to do with my age. At my age, everything has a long, slow build up.

What has changed is the way gifts materialize. When I was a kid, we made many of the gifts we gave. A lot of thought had to go into the choice of gift — could I make it and on time?

With earning power came delay power – just in time gifting.

Today my gifting is mouse powered. A click and it’s done. No planning, production, or store visit. And no slow build-up, no bubbling anticipation.

There definitely is a hole in this holiday.


‘Tis the season when sellers won’t sell

And just how big is this hole? Consider this.

Once upon a true story, a visitor to London spent hours looking for the latest must-have Santa toy for his son in Africa. All stores were sold out, except one hidden away store with only one remaining toy.

And that was the problem. The shop owner refused to sell the toy, because, as he explained, “then he would have none left.”

Recently, she-who-must-be-obeyed tried to buy a bag of certain goodies. When the store owner saw how much was in the bag, she objected. “You cannot do that. That’s too much.”

Being sold out could be a case of bad planning or good product selection. Either way, don’t blame your customer for doing her job. Her job is to buy your product.

Your job is to sell it to the customer standing in front of you, not to protect the customer who might, maybe, decide to visit your store.



Do you need to look busy?



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