Posts Tagged ‘problem solving’

Leadership Traits: Resourcefulness

Sometimes you just have to take what you’ve got and do what you can with it.  This is often called a Field Expedient Measure.  When I think of the Leadership Trait of Resourcefulness, I always think of the T.V. show Gilligans Island.  They came up with some goofy contraptions that seemed to work, at least as far as the script was written.

I personally don’t use Gilligans Island as a model for resourcefulness, except as a humorous parody on the inventiveness of the Human mind.

What I do use as a model is the story on which the Clint Eastwood movie Heart Break Ridge is based.  During the 1983 invasion of Grenada a group of Marines found themselves pinned down in a building on the side of a hill.  The Marines urgently needed to call in Naval gunfire to get them out of their predicament, which was grave.  However, their radio had been destroyed.

In the building, the Marines found a land line telephone … this was back in the days when cell phones were still a comic book gizmo.  The phone worked, the line had not been cut.  The Marines tried to make a collect phone call to the Pentagon, which is a very round about, unorthodox way to call in Naval gunfire.  The Pentagon does not accept collect phone calls, apparently, and the call was refused.  Meanwhile, the Marines predicament keeps getting worse.

One of the Marines remembered that he had his calling card still in his wallet.  If you are too young to remember, these were like credit cards for making phone calls over land lines … an indispensable personal item for service members to carry during that period.  The Marines used the calling card to call the Pentagon for gunfire support, which ultimately thwarted their attackers.

This is, of course, and extreme circumstance.  However, in your own World, when you have Cubans running at you up the hill, and your radio is broken, you need to find some way to take care of that issue, and move on to the next.

Here is another acronym.  It may help you be more resourceful.  Put it in your personal and business development tool belt.  You may have heard Gunny Ermey use it on T.V.  The acronym is RAAO, Reconnoiter, Analyze, Adapt, and Overcome.  This is RAAO expanded:

Reconnoiter.  Take a look around, see what’s really going on.  Also, take a look at what you’ve got.

Analyze.  Put your situation under a microscope.

Adapt.  Adapt your methods, and your materiel to move on to the next phase.

Overcome.  Self explanatory.

It seems I’ve used a lot of references to T.V. shows in this segment.  On a personal not, I don’t watch a lot of T.V.  Thus far, over the past year and a half, unless I’m visiting someone, I haven’t watched any T.V.  For me, there are so few T.V. show I find interesting that it’s just not worth the expense of having it around.

Anyhow, till next time, practice being resourceful; find opportunities to be resourceful, because practice makes perfect, and you are spectacular.


Leadership Traits: Accountability

The Buck Stops Here

This is a picture of the actual sign Harry Truman kept on his desk for visitors to read in the Oval Office during his Presidency between 1945 and 1953.  It reads, “The Buck Stops Here.”

When I was a kid, I misunderstood the intention of this sign.  I thought its slogan meant that the Presidents desk was where money stopped … ‘buck’ being slang for ‘dollar.’  This didn’t make the slightest bit of sense to me.  Later on I figured out the true meaning of the slogan … ‘buck’, as in ‘pass the buck’, the bureaucratic practice of deflecting responsibility, usually in an upward direction.

I’ve been told when one can tell they are in the highest office, at the panicle of an organization.  This epiphany occurs when one turns around, and there is no one else who can take the blame.  If you’ll notice, I didn’t say when you turn around and there is no one else to take the credit.

In my experience, most people you do business with on any level want one thing if they have a problem.  They want to hear this phrase, “I’ll take care of it.”

Remember the name of this girl, LARA AFT.  She is an acronym you can use to help you be more systematic in your accountability.  Here is the acronym expanded:

Listen.  Listen to the person with the complaint, or concern, or issue.

Acknowledge.  Acknowledge the validity of the complaint, concern, or issue.  “I see.”  “I understand.”  Even “Uh-hu!” works.

Repeat.  Repeat, or restate, the complaint, concern, or issue … you want to be on the same page as the other person.

Apologize.  This sounds corny, but it works, say “I’m sorry we were unable to meet your expectations.  What can I do to make this right?”  (Note:  There is no ‘E’ for Excuse after ‘A’ for Aapologize.  We wont say what an excuse is like, but everyone has one, and nobody is particularly interested in hearing it.  What everyone does want is to see a result, or at least to hear that a result is pending.)

Act.  Correct the issue, determine how to prevent the issue from happening again, and put systems in place.

Follow-up.  It’s always a good idea to keep everyone concerned up to date on the progress of the correction.

Track.  Keep an eye on the progress till the systems you’ve placed become routine, then just look in on them every once in a while.

If an attitude of accountability can help get a poor haberdasher from Missouri into the Oval Office, imagine what it can do for you.

Till next time, don’t pass the buck, because you are spectacular, and above such things.

Five Paragraphs

When I was in the Marine Corps we used a mechanism for clear communications.  It’s called the ‘Five Paragraph Order.’  This tool in the tool box may not only be used for clear communications, but for problem solving, and planning.

The Five Paragraph Order is also known by the acronym SMEAC, which stand for Situation, Mission, Enemy, Avenues of approach, and Command and signals.  I’ll civilianize the acronym, and switch the E for an O, standing for Obstacles, which changes the acronym to SMOAC, which is still easy to say.

Here we go!

Situation:  What is the current situation?  What is going on?  Define the situation.  What does it look like.

It is particularly important that if you are using this as a problem solving tool to write the situation down.  This helps define a problem, and defining a problem … actually determining what the problem is … is half way to the solution.  There is an old saying, “We get so focused on catching alligators that sometimes we forget that we came here to drain the swamp.”

Mission:  What do you want done?  How do you want the situation to be?  What do you want the situation to look like?

Obstacles:  What is going to get in your way?  What are you going up against.  There is another acronym used in this paragraph that is helpful defining your obstacles.  I can’t seem to civilianize this acronym, which is UNIFORM … standing for Unit, Number, Insignia, Force, Organization, Reserves, and Movement.

  • Unit – Put the obstacle in a category.  What is it?
  • Number – How many are there; how big is it; quantify the obstacle.
  • Insignia – what does the obsticle actually look like?  How can you recognize it when you see it?
  • Force – What does this obstacle have that is going to get in your way, cause you problems, or keep you from attaining your goal in general.  What does it have that you need to watch out for?
  • Organization – How is this obstacle organized?  How does it communicate?  Who is it’s boss?
  • Reserves – Does the obstacle have a back up system to keep you from where you’re going?
  • Movement – How does the obstacle get around?  Where is it going?  What are its habits?  Where will it get in your way; where, and when will it cross your path.

Avenues of Approach:  What are you gong to do about it.  How do you intend to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.  This is where you pull out your map, and start drawing up directions.  You know from where you are starting, and you know where you’re going.  You also have an idea about what is going to get in your way, and where it’ll probably be lurking when you meet up with it.

Command and Signals: Who is responsible for what, when, where, why, and how.  This is where you put your administrative and logistics information … don’t forget your mission needs financed, you need to eat along the way.

Like I said, you can use this system for communicating, problem solving, and planning.  I use this system myself quite a bit.  I’ve also seen several like systems that have the same basic structure, and purpose, right down to the point where there are five elements, and the verbiage is changed a little bit.

I hope this tool has some use for you.  If not, I hope you enjoyed reading it anyway.  Till next time, remember, you are spectacular.

Back to the Basics

Several years ago I was the Training Department Head for a restaurant franchise organization out here in Nebraska.  At any given time during my appointment I had between 13, and 17 stores of which to keep track.  It was one of those deals where one works for the corporate entity, but is paid by the franchiser.   The two didn’t always agree with each other, and I was stuck in the middle.

The franchise owner was very impressed with the concept of thinking outside of the box … I am as well.  However, the Old Man wanted me to jump right in … start teaching his people how to think outside of the box right away.  That’s good, but one needs to at least know what local store marketing is before one starts thinking outside of the box with it.  My contention was that his management staff had to know where the sides of the box were before they started working outside of it.

I’d like to put us back inside the box … find out where the edges are.  I may have gotten ahead of myself, and presented subject mater I was impressed with myself, but may need some development to present fully.

Over the course of the next several posts I intend to yak what I know about leadership traits, problem solving, communications, relaxation, and whatever else I can think of which to write on the subject.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with this little tidbit on how the mind works in a funny way.  It’s a fairly advanced concept, but I’m stoked into yakety smaketing about it.

Have you ever looked for something, and just couldn’t find it?  You tore your house apart looking for it, and even blamed the dog for hiding it.  Not having this thing right at that moment left you in a terrible mess.  Then, after all was said and done, and you’d moved on to other issues, what you had been looking for was now in your way. 

Odd, isn’t it?  When you fret, and fume over something, its resolution seems to avoid you … till you’ve calmed down.  It may be that finding things takes a degree of passion, and focus.  However, it may come quicker to you if you use positive energy, instead of negative energy … and maybe even setting the issue off to the side and forgetting about it for a while helps.

Till next time, think positive, and remember, you are an extraordinary person.