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Don’t Be Afraid of Taking Lateral Moves and Breaks in Your Career

Written by George Hood. Posted in Career Management

As I reflect upon my career, I have had at least 20 jobs to date. I have done everything from gardening to boat flunky, from working in a foundry pouring molten metal in hotter than hell conditions making bronze cemetery plaques to running a research centre, from building dams to raising money for a university and ultimately to running my own business. I can’t say that I have done it all but I can say that I have a lot of different and disparate things.

I stand to have a few more positions before I call it a day on my career although I am not sure what they are. There have been similarities among these jobs and upon reflection, I realize that a pattern has emerged. Between the big jobs at least, all involved complexities and a great deal of effort and energy. I gave them my all but I also took breaks. I learned at a very early stage that it was important for me to take breaks, to re-tool and re-generate.

A Stop Doing List

Written by George Hood. Posted in Operations, Strategy

The goals an organization sets for itself, a review of some of the things it did in the past and questioning some of those things it needs to stop doing is an important issue and yet not frequently, if ever, asked. The reason it does not occur with frequency is that asking a bureaucracy to stop doing something – anything – is not an easy or natural thing.

A “stop doing list” is more important for an organization than a “to do” list. It makes abundant sense for an organization to say “we should do this”, but rarely have I found that it ever says “we won’t do that”. It typically requires someone to come in from the outside to shed some of its non-essential functions. More often than not, the bureaucracy has built what it does into its perpetual base and over time has gathered additional functions.

Plan, Design, Construct, Operate

Written by George Hood. Posted in Change and Change Management, Uncategorized

I don’t have many slogans which I use on a regular basis in my organizational trouble shooting role but one that I do employ is PDCO – plan, design, construct, operate. In addition to using this approach on turn-arounds, such an analytical framework can also be used on a variety of organizational uses. I use PDCO on every project I tackle. It helps me keep on track and avoid forgetting critically important steps that have to be completed later on and at much higher costs.

I liken the exercise, not to a GANT or a PERT chart, although both certainly are valuable organizational tools, but rather to a Slinky – the toy we used to have when we were kids. The reason I use this analogy is that I find myself looping back repeatedly like a Slinky, through the life of a project, to each of the various stages and continuously re-working our approach. I am always planning elements of a project and tweaking it to increase its organizational performance even though we may be in the midst of construction.

In Negotiations, Whomever Lies First Loses

Written by George Hood. Posted in Strategy

In negotiations, especially on issues that have not been tried before, there is inevitably lots to discuss. It is, as they say, uncharted waters. Anytime you are in such waters, ambiguity enters into the equation. With change and uncertainty comes risk. The two go hand in hand and how you handle them determines the degree to which you achieve success. In your career, you need to recognize that you will encounter circumstances of uncertainty and that how you handle them matters.

None of Us is as Smart as All of Us

Written by George Hood. Posted in Operations

I have been fortunate to have had many successes as well as failures. I have probably learned more from the latter than the former but I have learned from them all. They are not just recent; they have occurred over the course of my life, especially in my younger years, when the impressions are most formidable and lasting.

At the outset and throughout your career, you need to realize that you do not have a monopoly on good ideas. Others you work with have their own perspectives, based on their experiences and education. You should be listening to them in order to render the most effective decision and course of action.  Who is smart? All of us. Everyone is smart at something They look at things differently than you do. It is that simple and is a universal truth.

People Are Not Your Most Important Asset. The Right People Are.

Written by George Hood. Posted in Operations

The importance of choosing the right people is frequently overlooked. There is a tendency to focus on the problem to be solved rather than the solution or on how to go about finding the solution. Skills are just as important as values but if I had to make a choice between the two, I would choose values every time. You can accomplish many things without certain skills, which you can acquire, but you will not maximize the potential of your organization without consensus on shared values. Never.

If You Think You Can’t, You’re Right. If You Think You Can, You’re Right

Written by George Hood. Posted in Character, Uncategorized

This is one of my favourite homilies. For me, I have found that it applies 100% of the time and it explains much of what I have done – unintentionally and intentionally. When I began to write this homily and my thoughts started to crystallize, I was drawn to a letter I received in 2006, now framed and hung in a prominent position in my office. The letter was from Quentin N. Burdick, senior senator from North Dakota. I was leaving Saskatchewan for new pursuits and Burdick was kind enough to write a thank you letter to me. In his letter, Burdick, among other things, said:

“I have found that one of the biggest frustrations of working in the public sector is that often times doing nothing is the easiest thing for a bureaucracy to do. You are someone who takes action and that is why I expect that you will have many more successes in your career.”

Hire a Deputy and Develop a Successor

Written by George Hood. Posted in Operations

My experience has been that your time and place within an organization is a temporary one and that planning for your successor needs to begin very soon after you have accepted the position you occupy. The organization is an organic entity, people come and people go, including you, and you need to develop a leadership pool to ensure its viability and more than that, its prosperity and success. That is where the word successor comes from – success. It is not an accident and one comes from the other.

You Will Be Judged by the Organization You Leave Behind

Written by George Hood. Posted in Career Management

It is important throughout your career, but particularly at the outset, for you to understand that you will be judged on how well you do your job. We all are judged and being judged is a good thing. Results increase and performance improves. You need to think about what you are doing, how you are doing it, and being judged by your peers every day – your performance depends on it.

You try and do the best you can. That part is human nature.  Everybody does their best or at least thinks they do; even those individuals that are not on the top of their game. What is different now is the degree of competitiveness in the work force vs. years ago and the degree to which one needs to stay current.

The Speed of the Boss is the Speed of the Team

Written by George Hood. Posted in Leadership

Every organization takes its leadership from the person at the top. This is always the case and if for some reason it isn’t then something is seriously wrong. One of my favourite expressions is, “The Speed of the Boss is the Speed of the Team”. This is one of the most important leads I have taken and been given in the organizations of which I have been a part. The best leaders are the ones who are able to set the speed for the team. It is not necessarily one that it had in the past. Changing the pace allows the organization to reach higher and further and allows the CEO to place their imprint. Speed matters not just for the sake of getting something done quickly but more importantly, the aggregated, overall accumulation of what you are able to get done to influence the institution and where it stands.