At BostonCIO, we have a clearly defined work ethic, a set of values that guide our work.
We’d like to share them with you.
MAINTAIN PERSONAL, PROFESSIONAL AND INTELLECTUAL INTEGRITY
Never sacrifice integrity for the sake of unity.
These are words that might look nice on the homepage of a consulting firm’s website or as filler for their glossy brochure but what do they really mean? Personal, professional and intellectual integrity need to be more than the latest buzz words from the newest business book. They must serve as the ethical basis for your system of core values.
Testing any activity against this principle is actually quite simple. We need to ask ourselves the question, “Will doing so in any way compromise my personal, professional or intellectual integrity?” If the answer is yes, then it is very simple: Don’t do it. The quandary comes in when the answer is, “Yes, but . . .” Here we must be on our guard because most people’s ability to rationalize the behavior they know is wrong is quite amazing.
Integrity is the cornerstone principle from which all others derive.
HAVE A VALUE-ADDED ORIENTATION. BE PRACTICAL. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible and not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
Fundamentals never go out of style.
Value = benefit minus cost.
In the final analysis every business must provide its customers with value. For an enterprise to succeed and prosper, all business activities (outside required legal and regulatory requirements) must focus on providing value to the customer. If you are doing things that do not directly or indirectly produce real or perceived value for the customer, simply stop. Nothing will pay a higher dividend to a company than measuring everything against a “value-add” yardstick.
Many companies can spend a great deal of energy attempting to execute extremely complex strategies; highly complex plans should be a warning sign. Upon examination, many of these complexities will be due to ego or to an organization that is simply trying to act highly sophisticated. The risks:
- The downside risk of failure in extremely complex maneuvers seldom warrants the upside potential.
- Most organizations have difficulty achieving the coordination required to understand and execute complex plans.
- Communicating a common vision throughout an organization requires a clear and consistent message delivered with regularity over time.
- Pursuing highly complex business strategies can become an overwhelming distraction, often with little value to the customer.
Most highly successful business endeavors are grounded in a simple elegance.
“The difference between involvement and commitment is the difference between bacon and eggs at breakfast. The chicken is involved and the pig is committed.” – Tom Peters
No one ever achieved anything great by fence-sitting. Let’s face it, the vast majority of people go through life barely thinking at all. Of the remainder, a large percentage choose not to get involved, to willingly hover at the periphery. That leaves a very small group to drive all change and improvement. Each person who joins that small group has the opportunity to have great impact. While it has become cliché, life is not intended to be a spectator sport.
SPEAK HONESTLY AND OPENLY
Confrontation is one of the highest forms of honesty.
Do not soft sell. Soft selling usually comes back to bite you in the behind, with the buyer feeling cheated, mislead and angry. Often, after the transaction is over, the buyer can no longer recall the subtle distinctions that the seller made between omission, half-truths, spin and outright lies.
Verbal communications are notoriously error prone. Even when two people with the best intentions speak there will be incomplete and misunderstood information passed. When people are trying to mask their true meaning or even just trying to sound clever or intelligent, it is almost impossible for a real exchange of information to occur.
If you need to communicate bad news or something that the listener does not want to hear, don’t skirt the issue just to avoid confrontation. Adding scores of unnecessary words, sentences and paragraphs do not help clarify; they merely add more occasions for miscommunication.
When the listener senses bad news his typical response is either defensiveness or denial. If the listener is defensive, he will look for any crack in the logic to attack. The listener headed for denial is seeking anything he can use to avoid hearing the core message. Give either of these two the chance and the listener will miss the entire point.
Notice how most organizations dispense good news: short and sweet. Companies will herald good news with a banner headline treatment: “Sales Up 20 percent Over Last Quarter. Congratulations All Around.” But when there is bad news, such as falling sales, layoffs, senior-level people leaving a company or acquisition, these same companies write multi-page memos. This makes no sense!
Speak clearly to be understood.
“A business person is a hybrid between a dancer and a calculator.” – Paul Valery
“Uncertainty – in the economy, society, politics – has become so great as to render futile, if not counterproductive, the kind of planning most companies still practice.” – Peter Drucker
In today’s complex environment, flexibility is key. Flexibility – and a solid set of principles upon which to base your decisions and reactions. Stay open and alert to change and how it impacts your plans.
DON’T FOLLOW THE CROWD
“There is no reason for anyone to want a computer in their homes.” – Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, ca. 1977
“There may be a worldwide market for five computers.” – Tom Watson, founder of IBM
“In 1982, McKinsey & Co consulting to AT&T estimated the worldwide cellular business at 900,000 users. Based on this finding AT&T left the cell phone business.” – Frances Cairncross
The experts can be colossally wrong and the common wisdom is usually very common but not very wise. The popularity of a person or idea does not necessarily correlate to inherent quality. We all must trust our instincts.
Believe in yourself enough to challenge the status quo. Remember the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? Make the truth-telling little boy one of your heroes. He was unwilling to trade what he knew to be true for the comfort and safety of going along with the crowd.
“Increase your knowledge or you will decrease it.” — Midrash
Read important and significant works, think important thoughts, make connections, work your brain. Read great books, maybe even two or three on the same subject, to understand how the various authors’ approaches and biases affect their presentation of a subject.
Wisdom is achieved by making connections among the vast collection of facts, skills and experiences that we all have. However, without a conscious effort to pursue wisdom, most people spend their lives collecting more and more disjointed shreds of information. Taking the time to understand how things fit together, how they work and the interrelationships will start you on the road. Look at everything – machines, historical events, relationships, systems, etc. – with the bias of understanding how they work and interrelate.
OPEN UP YOUR MIND AND INNOVATE
The range of possibilities begins to shrink the day a baby drops a ball and automatically looks down, confident in the total existence of gravity.
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who would have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” – Machiavelli, “The Prince”
As we grow older and have more experiences, we gain the ability to rapidly predict the outcome of situations and start to make more and more assumptions about the way things are. Without some of this ability we would be inundated with information and if this behavior becomes too pervasive we will overlook all innovation. In the extreme, we also become unable to understand how unprecedented change (internet, automation, cheap and universal communications, etc.) will affect the world around us.
A grandfather was recently observed telling his four-year-old grandchild about the old days and the daily grind of emptying the icebox pan. The four-year-old shot back that someone should have invented a robot to empty the ice box pan when it was full. While few of us would invest in the robotic-icebox-pan-emptying start-up venture, we can appreciate the child’s mind was open to what could be, not overshadowed by what is.
Innovative thinking will often challenge the status quo. Many organizations say they want out-of-the-box thinkers but few are mature enough not to be threatened by them at some level.
BE KIND AND HAVE FUN
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx
“Days are like scrolls: write on them only what you want remembered.” Bachya ibn Pakuda
We spend a huge portion of our lives and our energy at work. Nearly everyone works with other people. It is up to each of us how we spend this time and how we set the tone in each of these relationships. When work is fun and the relationships are mutually reinforcing, the synergy of an organization can really kick in.
Unfortunately, people can confuse fun with barbed humor and put-downs and this is unacceptable. Kindness offers a four-part benefit to the user. You help others. You feel better about yourself. Kindness extends and becomes an organizational norm.
When coworkers treat each other well work is fun. When co-worker relationships are mutually reinforcing, there is synergy. And when working together is fun, the possibilities are endless.
DO GENUINE GOOD
Take on only projects and tasks where the goal is genuine good, real improvement. Never be tempted to take meaningless work for praise or ease of execution. If the outcome is meaningless, so is the effort. In the end, you will be demotivated and that easy task will become drudgery.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Email us or call (508) 265-7277.