Monthly Archives: January 2013

Goals vs Focus Areas…the Difference and Why You Should Care

I love goals and lists.  For me, crossing a goal off of a list is a sign of accomplishment…achievement…and success!  Except when it’s not.  The unintended consequence of my ‘goal focus’ is that if it’s not one of my goals, it doesn’t get ANY focus.  So, when Peter Bregman over at proposed that I  “Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013“, I was at least an interested reader, and I thing you might want to be as well.

Bregman’s concept of replacing goals with ‘focus areas’ is a little scary for me, a list-o-holic.  However, I’ve been burned by my single minded pursuit of goals enough times that it makes sense to me.  Here are his definitions:

A goal defines an outcome you want to achieve; an area of focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing. A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path. A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.

So, as we help people change in 2013, maybe we should consider changing our thinking from – “Get that project completed” to “Ensure the people impacted by the project understand and accept its importance.”

When we focus on project completion, we can forget about the people impacted by the change.  If we focus our attention on the buy-in of the people, the project will get done with less ‘collateral damage’ along the way.  In 2013, I want to focus more on the people than the project.

How about you?  What might your focus area be in 2013?


Some Direction About Being Direct

As early as the 10th grade, I can remember a friend saying, “Kenneth, you have no tact.”  It’s true, I can be a pretty direct communicator.  It may simultaneously be one of my best attributes and my biggest flaws.  On the HBR Blog Network,  Anthony K. Tjan has shared some key points about directness in his article Have the Courage to Be Direct.

“When we avoid conflict or try to skirt directness, it does a disservice to all involved, and often just plain wastes time.” – Nobody has enough time so wasting it is a pretty serious offense.

“Being assertive and direct does not need to mean being cold and hard. The tone you use and the words you choose…matter a lot.” – Ahhhh, the Achilles heel of direct communicators – style.  We direct communicators can be so focused on the message that we forget a real person with feelings and emotions will be receiving it!

Tjan concludes: “Diplomacy is a great virtue but so is clarity, and diplomacy without our clarity is just undiplomatic B.S. Have the courage to be direct.”

Where do you and I need to have the courage to be tactfully direct today?

My Fantastic Wife

A few months ago, the facility where my wife has worked 12 of the past 15 years had a family day.   After all the hot dogs, chips, popcorn, sno cones, sugary beverages and inflatables we could handle, it was time to head for the gates.  As we neared the exit, my wife ran into a guy she used to work with.  After a few seconds of conversation the guy stopped to introduce my wife to and I quote “his fantastic wife.”


My wife is fantastic too, I thought to myself.  In fact my wife is not only fantastic, she’s amazing!  But does she know I feel that way?

Listens to all of my frustrations – amazing
Super patient with our sons – amazing
Respected by seemingly everyone she works with – amazing
Caring and sympathetic – amazing
Beautiful, great cook, keeps our home running smoothly…all amazing.

Today, I vow to tell my wife how amazing she really is in my eyes.  Happy 14th Anniversary, Kelly!

What We Should Focus on as Change Managers in 2013

2013Recently on facebook, my friend Audrey was mentioned in a link to  I navigated over there to learn that the site challenges you to find :

“One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.”

As an agent of change in 2013, I pondered what word I might choose.  For your consideration, I propose a word that might sound counter-intuitive at first:


500 years before the birth of Christ, Heraclitus said (over some Greek chicken in the shadow of the Acropolis surely) “the only constant is change”.  I can certainly say that has been the case for me and may also be the case for you.  However, the site challenges us to choose a word that describes “who you want to be” not ‘the situation around you’.

So, why in the world would a change agent need to be consistent?  After all, isn’t the goal of a change agent, well, change?  That certainly implies being a lot of different things to a lot of different people…the opposite of consistent!

We need to remember that although change is a constant for us, that’s not always the case for the people impacted by the changes we’re trying to implement.  They need us to be a steady presence, helping them see the positives AND negatives of the change.  When things don’t go as planned, we can’t afford to freak out…surely someone else will take care of that role!

So, in 2013, I’m challenging you, and me, to be consistent.  A calm, steady presence in the storm-tossed sea of change.

Recipe for a Blog

Take an idea, marinate for 7 years or so
Write a story trying to explain said idea (cook for 45 min at 5:15 am 3 days a week for optimal results)
Sign contract to publish the above story
Request that friends taste test
Modify recipe for readability and understanding
Place in publishing oven for 4 to 5 months.  Obtain editing, cover art, and ISBN as needed.
Remove from oven and….

And that’s where I am.  Waiting.  Manuscript written, editing done, proof in hand.  What’s the book about, you might ask?  Change.  We experience it every day, but is it effective?  Is it accepted and anticipated or rejected and reviled?  The difference in those two states lies in the people involved at the beginning of the change, during the change, and after the change.  And that’s what my book is about.  People.  If you’re helping people change, I want to help you.  That’s why I wrote a book…and that’s mainly what I’ll be writing about on this blog.