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And I Approve This Message

I_approve_this_message The political ads are in full swing... fast and furious.  At the end of every campaign commercial, you hear the same droning candidate voice-over: "I'm so-and-so, and I approve this message."  Some of the commercials represent such poor logic that I wonder how a rational, ethical human being could possibly approve of this poor substitute for sound rhetoric... if they REALLY knew what was being said.

But let's pull it back to you.  You're trying to accomplish a "win" and you're communicating a lot of things to people, both implicitly and explicitly.  So, if you had to stop and think about what the real message is, do you really approve it?

Are you managing those who are trying to carry your message forward to others to ensure that what people are hearing is what you intended them to hear?  Are you paying as close attention to the medium or channel of the message, so that an email blast doesn't replace a one-on-one face-to-face meeting.

We're all bombarded with messages... so much so that we're filtering out those we don't want to handle.  Are your messages making it past the "crap filter"?  I was reading Ed Decker's blog post on political ads; he's one of many who are just tired/angry of the current establishment.  Is that how people feel about you in the office?  Do you feel that way about somebody else?  What can you do about those messages that are being inadvertently shared?

How can you get your personal branding back to the point of "I approve this message"?  Doing so may make the difference between success or failure on your accomplishments.

The Holman Expectation Curve

Holman_expectation_curve I posted this on Iowa Biz over a year ago, but I think it's worth revisiting.  One of my colleagues, Lyle Holman, created what he calls the Holman Expectation Curve of Project Management.  At the beginning of every project, fantasy is very high and reality is low.  The two start creeping toward each other as time progresses throughout the project life cycle until they collide in an uncomfortable moment referred to as the OMG point, followed very closely by the "Come to Jesus" meeting (CTJ).

One corollary I added to Lyle's insights is the maturity of timing.  A mature organization will have the OMG early in the project life cycle (i.e., the initiation or planning phases).  A less mature project culture will wait until potentially the closing phase before having this epiphany that what was promised is not what is going to be delivered.

I posed this question to my project management students last week, but I'll let you in on the fun:  how do you expedite the OMG for your project and your organization?  Having frank discussions all along help... and having them frequently (because sometimes - just sometimes - executives don't listen the first time you tell them something... go figure).

So what do you think?

None of the Above

None_of_the_above A lot of my friends and colleagues have been asking my opinion about the rise of the Tea Party movement this fall.

To be honest, I'm not sure what I think of it.

I am, however, sure of WHY I think of it.

The Democrats (for almost 235 years) and the Republicans (for about 150 years) have managed to polarize Washington to the point where accomplishment is almost an impossibility.  No longer do our law-makers go to Washington with the intent of representing us and our needs (Note: I did not say "wants"; I said "needs").  They go with a combative defiance against the other guys.

And quite frankly, America has become rather tired of the lack of accomplishment.

Say what you want about the members of the Tea Party being radicals who have watched too much Fox News; most people will agree that Washington is irreparably broken.  Heaven forbid we ever have a serious crisis where we need to pull together as a nation to accomplish something quickly.  Oh... wait... environmental stewardship (again, NOTE: I did not say ANYTHING about global warming), massive financial debt to China, etc. etc. ... so much for that need to pull together quickly thing.

Would I personally vote for a Tea Party candidate?  It would depend on the candidate.  I know that when Peggy Noonan starts giving credibility to the rise of the Tea Party, then maybe it's time to sit up and take notice of the bigger picture of what's going on.

As professionals, we like to weigh viable alternatives.  Often, if we don't see anything we like, we will go with "none of the above" and send people back to the drawing board.  By doing so, we ensure that eventually a solution will be implemented which will feel like a real accomplishment, rather than a series of weakened compromises.

Really, that's all the Tea Party is:  people are voting "none of the above" to the status quo.  However, if one is going to shoot down all of the alternatives, then a viable solution had better be forthcoming.  Will the Tea Party be a sustainable movement?  Only time - and accomplishment - will tell.

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