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Showing posts from 2013

Holiday Theft: The Stupidest Grinchs I Have Ever Known

This time of year, a while back, I was the only area manager in the plant just before Christmas.  We were in the middle of a large capital project installation.  The plant was down for the holidays, except for the construction work going on in the new facility.  Earlier the same morning, the millwrights had discovered that over $15,000 in hand tools and equipment had been stolen from the mechanical shop.  There was too much equipment missing all at once to be anything but theft.  The automation technicians had recently installed some DVR video cameras throughout the new part of the plant.  These cameras were situated to allow the operators to view key parts of the process from the operating pulpit. On one of the video feeds, the senior automation tech thought that he noticed two guys moving tools out of the shop through a glimpse of the camera.  The resolution wasn't very sharp, and was even worse when the footage was blown up to see as much detail as we could.  Meanwhile, there

Presentation Etiquette, Please Don't be a Powerpoint Sadist

When it comes to presentations, there is no such thing as the old "Overhead Projector" anymore.  Just about every meeting room has a computer projector, and nobody uses clear overhead film.  Just about every presentation from a classroom to a boardroom is done with Microsoft Powerpoint.  Let's just get this straight, this rant is not anti-technology.  I only aim to point out certain things to avoid when using Powerpoint with its infinite detail capabilities when giving a presentation.  Remember, just because we can do things, doesn't mean we should. When it comes to putting every bell and whistle that Powerpoint has to offer into a presentation, just use some common sense, and have some mercy on the audience with these tips: One font at a time please.  Just because there are about a gazillion fonts available, doesn't mean you need to use the goofiest one to make your point stand out.  Use simple easy to read fonts, anything Gothic, cursive, or seemingly hand

Everyone Wants to be in Charge, That is Until Decisions Need to be Made.

Everywhere you go, you will find people who are just dying to be in charge, that is until they have to do something with all that sought after responsibility.  Being a leader, for those of us slugging it out in the middle manager slit trenches, is all about making decisions; mostly the unpopular kind.  The easy decisions, are well, easy. As an old boss of mine would say, "That's easy, it's a no brainer!" Of course, that is assuming easily enough that I was a complete dumbass when I came to him for his infinite wisdom.  The simplicity of my challenge completely eluded my simpleton nature. I would always tell him that if it was easy, the guys doing the job would have already fixed it.  I was trying to get him to understand a much bigger problem that he was conveniently trivializing. So we all have had a boss, a middle manager who reigned over our even lower level of management, who thought our challenges and decisions were easy.  What is worse is when we are workin

Tend To Your Fields at Work, Don't Let Them Turn in to an A**Hole Garden

During the past twelve years, I have had the fortune of working in a rural area as well as urban environments.  Each year, on my drive to work through rural areas, I notice the fields being turned over from one crop to another.  The corn is planted in the spring after the wheat harvest, and is knee-high by July.  It dries in the fall, harvested, with the long stalks used for silage to feed cattle.  During the next spring, the ground is plugged for soybeans which dry to a golden brown in the late summer.  After harvest, the fields are then planted for winter wheat, and the cycle begins again. Throughout many conversations with co-workers and prospective employees that I have met in interviews, I have learned so much about how people make their living.  They have been performing some of the most important and long standing tasks known to civilized human beings.  There is a special care that these family farmers take while they tend to the crop cycle.  The grain doesn't grow itsel

Business Culture Change Challenges: The Flat Earth Theory

The concept of a flat Earth dates back to the Bronze Age.  Early Greek philosophers including Pythagoras and later Aristotle were able to empirically develop the concept of a spherical Earth.  Ptolemy, hundreds of years later also used a spherical Earth model in the development of maps and the constructs of latitude and longitude.  How was it that such a developed science could be so easily dismissed in the dark ages?  For hundreds of years, the knowledge and understanding of a spherical earth was documented, yet for over 500 years you were labeled a heretic for even suggesting it.  The crews of Columbus’s initial New World Journey were terrified of the evils of over-speculated sea monsters and the inevitable fall off the edge of the world.  If you are encountering a culture shift in your workplace, then you have nothing to worry about compared what good ole’ Chris endured. Not only did Columbus need to get funding, he needed to recruit a crew of men to man the ships necessary

Bussellisms - A collection of stupid things I say everyday.

Bussellisms - Annoying things I say to my coworkers when they gripe at work.  You may be hearing these for the first time, so you may enjoy some of them, unless of course, you have to live or work with me . . . . 1)  If it was easy, we could hire chimpanzees to do it and pay them in banannas. 2)  If "Ifs" and "Buts", were candies and nuts, oh what a Purim it would be . . . . 3)  There is an a**hole in every group, you are lucky if there is only one.  If they leave, quit, die, or leave, there are many just waiting to take their place . . . .like dandelions. 4)  When asked how things are going on a bad day .  . . "If it was going any better, I would have to pay to be here." 5)  When asked how things are going on a really bad day . . . " Just Peachy!" 6)  Work isn't supposed to be fun, and it isn't suppose to be easy.  If it was fun and easy, it would be called "Play" and you would have to pay money to do it.  Be

Occupying Time - Fleas on a Dog

When Apollo astronauts travelled to the moon, they had the rarest of opportunities to view the entire earth from a distance.  From the windows of their spacecraft, the Earth was a gleaming sphere of blue, green, brown, and white.  From that view, there was nearly trace of mankind  visible from their position.  None of the strife of war, famine, or human sprawl could be seen or identified. "The view of the Earth from the Moon fascinated me—a small disk, 240,000 miles away. It was hard to think that that little thing held so many problems, so many frustrations. Raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don't show from that distance." — Frank Borman, Apollo 8, 'A Science Fiction World—Awesome Forlorn Beauty,' Life magazine, 17 January from 1969.   These brave astronauts also couldn't notice any of the happenings of everyday life.  Traffic Jams, late trains, commuter flights, snow days, people rushing, or peop

Managing Expectations - Preventative Management

from These past two days have been a bear for me.  As much as I have gotten better at reading my surroundings and coworkers, I completely went off course.  I went as far off course to say that I have been in a two day silent freakout!  Only this afternoon did I get the opportunity to reconcile my understanding of a serious work situation, but not until after it felt like my head was going to split in two pieces like a ripe melon.  It was an experience of misplaced expectations, so alarming that had accelerated my pace enough to be farther ahead in my work than I realized. The most repeated advice I have given at work is managing the expectations of others.  This doesn't mean controlling or manipulating other peoples' expectations. To me it means gaining an objective mapping of what others expect me to do, say, or deliver.  The difference between knowing what is wanted by others, and giving them what is needed is the profit margin of efficient time an

The Love From a Daughter

I have been a father for nineteen years.  I have three sons (19, 16, and 14), a step-son (13) and step-daughter (12).  It makes for some very memorable family vacations and events.  When my three older sons were young, I was often asked whether or not I missed not having a daughter.  I always felt fortunate that all three of the boys were healthy, so I didn't really give it a second thought at the time. My older sister has a daughter who is just two months older than my 16 year old son.  My older brother has a daughter that is about six months older than my stepdaughter, a son my oldest boy's age, and a stepdaughter two years older.  It is a real pleasure when all of the cousins are together since they are in a comfortably tight age range.  They can talk about high school, middle school, college, jobs, you name it. Mean and Scary Uncle David When my nieces were young, I used to scare them by chasing them and growling at them with my bearded face.  Even though I was ju