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Visual book review: The Culture Blueprint (Robert Richman)

The Culture Blueprint is an upcoming book that draws on lessons from Zappo’s corporate culture. It offers a mix of high-level advice as well as practical tips on how to influence your company’s culture and help your company be more effective. I liked the chapter on implementation, which includes a sample conversation showing how someone negotiated an experiment’s scope until the person got the resources and commitment needed. The tips are geared more towards medium- to large-sized companies, but even small business owners can benefit from the focus on values and stories.

20130408 Visual Book Review - The Culture Blueprint - Robert Richman

Hope you find this visual summary useful! Click on the image to view a larger version, and feel free to share it with others. © 2013 Sacha Chua (Creative Commons Attribution Licence) – http://sachachua.com

Disclosure: I received a copy for review. If you have or know of an interesting, well-written book you’d like me to review, I accept requests.

Filipiniana

The dress arrived last week. It’s a simple ivory sheath of piña (pineapple fiber), with a lightly-beaded and embroidered panuelo (wrap). Although I’d never met the seamstress who made it, the dress fit like a charm, thanks to the measurements I’d sent.

I had been planning to wear a dress a family friend had given me before, but my mom wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted to be involved in planning the wedding, so she volunteered to take care of the dress. It would be her gift, she said. I accepted, asking her to make sure it was simple, classic, and something I could wear again. This dress fits the bill perfectly. It would do just fine at a wedding and at a formal get-together or cultural celebration.

In addition to this knee-length dress, she has also commissioned a Maria Clara, in case a long dress proves a better fit. My concession to the pageantry of weddings is to reach back in time and connect with my roots. I asked her to make sure the designer didn’t get carried away with modernizing the outfit. Traditional. Classic. A dress I can be buried in, I said.

I was half-tempted to suggest an Ifugao outfit – our family has many memories of Banaue – but it seemed easier to find a seamstress to work on a beautiful Tagalog outfit than to (a) pick the right tribe, and (b) find an outfit that doesn’t scream “tourist souvenir”. Maria Claras and nice panuelos are non-mainstream enough to require a seamstress, but there’s plenty of wedding inspiration. The rich weaves and beading of the mountain tribes are more niche. And there’d be no question of W- matching my outfit – a g-string? in Canada? in October? At least W- has a barong, which he may or may not choose to wear.

Actually, the wraparound skirts and colourful belts of some of the tribes can work really well here, too. I’ll need to find a way to pick up some of those when I next visit, as SM Kultura doesn’t stock a lot of those. =) We don’t have nearly enough variety in those department stores. I was looking all over for a payneta, and I think I only found it in Baguio…

I love wearing Filipiniana, from the malongs I wear in summers to the colourful Ifugao belt I once repurposed as earwarmers in winter. I’d like to wear more of it, like the way I see men and women in ethnic outfits even at work. That might mean learning how to sew my own everyday versions, because the only baro’t saya I’ve seen in Philippine department stores are embellished with metallic threads or beads. The baro’t saya is close enough to regular wear for me to avoid having tons of conversations with strangers about whether I’m heading off to perform somewhere.

Yay culture. =)

Leadership going virtual: how we can help managers

…It is important to note that by simply participating, managers transfer their status into the new paradigm; while not participating creates a real discrepancy.

Cecille Demailly, Toward Enterprise 2.0: Making the Change in the Corporation, as cited in Bill Ives’ blog post

Sarah Siegel’s reflections on virtual leadership made me think about the changes that IBM is going through. We’re moving further apart from each other (more remote/mobile workers, more geographically-spread management functions), and at the same time, moving closer to each other through social networking tools. Front-line managers might still see many of their team members face to face, but dotted-line relationships across countries are becoming more and more widespread, and middle managers work in an increasingly virtual world.

Many people struggle to translate management and leadership skills to the virtual world. They feel the loss of contact as we move away from offices and co-located teams, but they don’t have a lot of guidance on what excellent leadership looks like in this new globally-integrated world. There are no recipes or clear best practices in standard management and communication books, in the MBA courses they might have taken, and in the business magazines. Their own managers might also be dealing with the growing pains of the organization.

So some managers participate, and many don’t. The ones who participate are figuring out what works, and they may make mistakes along the way. The ones who don’t participate (out of fear? lack of time? lack of confidence?) might end up finding it even harder to get started, and then people feel confused and isolated because they aren’t getting leadership and direction from the people who are supposed to lead them.

I think managers really do want to help people work more effectively. It’s hard with all the external pressures and the pace of change, tools that are constantly evolving and practices that need to be adapted for the times, and greater challenges from both inside and outside IBM. Communities like the one Sarah Siegel organizes for IBM managers are vital, because managers need to be able to connect with other managers and learn from each other.

There are no clear answers yet. Organizations around the world are still figuring things out. Many of the principles remain the same, but translating them online when you can’t see body language and you can’t make eye contact is difficult for many people.

People need to learn how to not only work around the challenges of a virtual world, but also take advantage of its strengths. And there are strengths. Virtual teams are not just shadows of what we can do face-to-face. Going online brings new capabilities that we can explore.

We need to help managers figure this out. Along the way, we’ll end up helping ourselves and other people, so it’s worth the effort.

I remember growing up and realizing that even though I’m the youngest of three children, my parents were learning all sorts of new things about parenting while raising me. That helped make it easier for me to understand them instead of getting frustrated or upset. It’s like that with managers, too. Managers are learning about working with us just as we’re learning to work with them and with IBM.

So, how can we help? Here are some ways:

  • We can explore and model behaviour. For example, I believe that a culture of knowledge-sharing can make a real difference to IBM. If I experiment with that and model the behaviour, I can help managers and non-managers see what it’s like, what the benefits are, and how to get started. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
  • We can give feedback. I think my manager finds it amusing that I think a lot about what brings out the best in me and I suggest that to him. Managers can’t read minds. Make it easy. If your manager is receptive to the idea, give suggestions and share what you think.
  • We can coach. When the pain of ineffective methods is strong enough to drive change (think about all the frustration over endless reply-to-all conversations), people will look for better ways to do things. Coach people on how to use tools and how to change practices. It’ll take time and they’ll probably get frustrated along the way, but you can help them keep their eyes on the goal (and remember how painful the old ways were!).
  • We can help people see the big picture. Resource actions can sap morale. Impersonal communications can make you feel that the company has drifted from its values. Even if people are afraid, you can work on making sense of the situation, focusing on the positive, and looking for ways to keep moving forward. Vision isn’t just the CEO’s job. What you say and how you act can influence how other people feel about their work and how well they can focus on making things better instead of getting lost in the stress.

There are a lot of individual contributors within IBM. If we see leadership as something everyone in the organization does instead of being limited to those who have the “manager” bit in their Bluepages record, if we remember that leadership competencies are something we can express no matter where we are in the organizational chart and we take responsibility for helping make IBM and the world better, and if we help as many people as we can, we’ll not only get through these growing pains, but we’ll make a company worth working with even more.

Thanks to Rawn Shah for sharing a link to Bill’s blog post through Lotus Connections Profiles, and to Sarah for prompting me to write more about this!

Developing a personal style

Today’s laundry gave me an insight into what kinds of clothes I love
and would like be part of my personal style. With limited space on my
clothing rack and not enough time to handwash everything, I picked out
just the pieces I love wearing. The clothes that made the cut today?
All of my malongs, my Thai silk pants, and a couple of nicely textured
tops. Jeans, t-shirts, stretch pants, buttoned blouses: all stayed in
the laundry pile for another day. And there’s the fact that I’m typing
this blog entry while dressed in a black sari…

I don’t think I’d be happy just shopping at Gap. Or at a Vera Wang
boutique, for that matter. I like clothes with stories. I can get away
with my ethnic clothes now because people give students a lot of
latitude when it comes to outfits. If I can figure out a way to wear
clothes with character throughout my life, that would be fantastic. I
may have to be semi-conservative for a while if I work with IBM, but
if I can find out how to get ethnic accents into business and business
casual clothes, I’ll be happy. =)

If money were no object, I’d probably be more likely to bring a wallet
from Sagada than one from Louis Vuitton. If I could have anything I
wanted, I’d rather bring to light an obscure designer than clothe
myself in Armani. I’d rather have tailored clothing than designer
ready-to-wear. I’d rather wear homespun cotton than crisp pinstripes.
Clothes may make the man, but I make my clothes – that is, I can make
my clothes special.

All of this is academic, of course, because I have other things to
spend time and money on – particularly as a grad student! <grin>
But I get the sense that this is probably one of those unchanging
things, and I’d like to find role models who’ve gotten away with it.
The woman from Sonja’s Garden, for example – I remember really liking
her outfit.

So here’s the deal: I’ll keep a few business-type suits around just in
case I have to wear something conservative. I’ll probably use those a
lot if I work at IBM, anyway. But if people want me to wear anything
fancy, they should give it to me. ;)

More thoughts on this eventually…

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Friday: Art appreciation day at the ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum offers free admission from 4:30 PM onwards
every Friday. Simon suggested heading over there for a bit of cultural
appreciation, and we had fun walking around before my 8:30 dinner with
the folks I met at the Oriented networking event.

I always find Japanese woodblock prints fascinating, and we spent some
time in that gallery. I’m also drawn to calligraphy, classical
sculptures, and realistic paintings (particularly those with literary
or mythological references, like classical paintings). I like room
reproductions, too – glimpses of what people’s lives were like in the
past or how they are elsewhere. I like pieces with stories.

We’ll go back one of these Fridays. It would be nice to contemplate a
single thing and learn its story. Too bad there are no Wikipedia
kiosks in the museum. Do you think there’ll be wireless?

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Bayan Ko

The song “Bayan Ko” never fails to move me, and it is to this song and
other traditional songs that I turn to whenever I feel homesick. I
wish I knew the first stanza better, and I wish I could sing well
enough to help even my non-Tagalog-speaking friends appreciate the
beauty of the song.

Lyrics by Jose Corazon de Jesus, melody by Constancio de Guzman

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto’t bulaklak
Pag-ibig ang sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda’t dilag.
At sa kanyang yumi at ganda
Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko, binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa.

>

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag
Ang di magnasang makaalpas!
Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha ko’t dalita
Aking adhika,
Makita kang sakdal laya!

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