The Productive Power of RAMP in Action (Virtual Choir)

I wrote about Eric Whitacre’s amazing virtual choir in my post, The Power of Purpose Driven Work.

This incredible success is the result of his offer of Relevance, Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. The mere availability inspired 2000+ people to invest hours and hours in their individual pursuit of an excellent effort. You can see it here.

Many thanks to Eric Whitcre.

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The Power of Purpose-Driven Work

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. People don’t like to work like they used to. They try to do as little as possible. It’s too much trouble to manage a workforce.

And because of this prejudice, business owners do all they can to actually minimize the size of their workforce. Funny, they claim, speaking from one side of their mouth, “Employees are my most valuable assets.”If this were true, they would be doing all they could to increase the size of their asset. In reality, by their actions, they prove that they believe something different. “Employees are my most difficult expense.” So minimizing he size and cost of their workforce is their pursuit.

You know what I’m talking about.

There is a path to understanding the employee as an asset. There is a path to discovering and realizing the incredible equity increasing value (hence ASSET) of every hire. That path requires a business owner to learn that people actually want to make significant contribution to the businesses they serve, and that they can.

People will work harder than most of us think. They will give incredible and high-value amounts of their own discretionary effort to accomplish the most amazing things. And, truth be known, if the purpose is big enough, they will do it voluntarily.

Watch this video of such illustrated by director, Eric Whitacre. In it, you’ll see the voluntary marshaling of the time and talents of over 2000 participants investing to create a high value product. You’ll see just how willing people are to give more than is asked to fulfill a purpose greater than themselves.

Eric Whitacre is a composer who proves my point.

You can see more by clicking for a YouTube link here.

Watch all the way to the end. If you have a heart, you will be moved.

If you have a brain, you will be changed.

Give a big enough purpose, and people will do amazing things.

Hope you enjoy!


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Get Personal in Business, Have Fewer Problems, Make More Money

My Dad used to say that Business is Business, and Personal is Personal. I think he was advising me not to mix my personal life with my professional life. It sounded like good advice, at the time, but the longer I live, the less realistic, practical and productive it actually is.

We could have much better, faster growing, more profitable businesses if we changed the way we approach business and people.

Sometimes we want “Business” to be “Business.”

There’s another business saying Dad used, and I hear even today:

“Don’t take this personally. It is a business decision.”

The only time Dad ever said this was in situations where someone was getting axed, fired, laid-off, removed or replaced. It could be employee or a vendor.

Dad has no exclusive use of the term. Last December, just two days before Christmas, a friend of mine heard similar words. “This is not about you, Bill. It’s a business decision. We wish you all the best.” Then he was handed his walking papers.

“It’s not about you, Bill.” What a ridiculous statement. Of course it is about Bill. Why else is he at the meeting? Tell that to his family.

Sometimes we want “Business” to be “Personal.”

We use an entirely different choice of words when we are courting a client, or new employee.We say things like:

  • “We care about you.”
  • “Your success matters to us.”
  • “We want to be your partner, not a vendor.”
  • “You can trust us. You can count on us. We have your back.”

These are unmistakably personal words. Some are even terms of endearment of sorts.

So, we see that:

  • Business is personal when doing something pleasant. Otherwise, it is business.
  • It is personal when we’re giving; it is business when we’re taking.
  • It is personal when we’re helping; it is business when we’re hurting.

Flip Wilson’s character, said, “The Devil made me do it.” We say, “The Business made me do it.”

We want to take personal responsibility and get credit for the pleasant things we do. But we want no responsibility or blame for those that are unpleasant. We blame “the business.”

I have a shocking observation based on my 30+ years doing business:

All business is personal. Every business is personal. Everyday, all the time.

Think about it. Every activity, every decision, every system, every process, every procedure, every innovation, every creation, every interaction, every sale, every buy, every complaint, every problem, every solution, every idea, every interaction, every communication, every error, every misunderstanding, every lawsuit, every mishap, every success, every failure, all without exception are the result of personal involvement somewhere.

There’s nothing that happens in any business that doesn’t have a personal involvement. Everything in business is done by, for, at, or with people.

Example from The Bailey Building and Loan Association

It’s a Wonderful Life depicts the story of George Bailey, a man whose life is inextricably connected to his family’s business, The Bailey Building and Loan. The personal/business connection is made obvious in each of the business situations presented in the movie.

  • George saves drugstore: Mr. Gower, the druggist, has received a telegram with news that his son had died in combat. (personal) He is so upset that he mis-fills a prescription with poison. (personal) George sees the telegram and realizes Mr. Gower’s mistake. He saves him from certain ruin risking his job (personal) by not delivering the inappropriately filled prescription. (Personal)
  • George rescues his business from 1st run on the bank: George witnesses a “run on the bank” and steps in, canceling his honeymoon. The “run” is caused because his customers heard something and reacted by demanding their deposits in cash. (personal) George’s intervention (personal) convinces them to take only what they need, (personal) thus keeping the bank whole for another day.
  • Uncle Billy’s mistake, and Mr. Potter’s choice creates a problem: The bank is in its worst situation when Uncle Billy mistakenly leaves a deposit in a newspaper at Potter’s. (personal.) Potter knows what happened, and he keeps the money and calls the bake examiners. (personal)
  • Mary Bailey, intervenes to save George and the Building and Loan. George is in dire straights, drunk and looking for a way out when his wife gets word of the situation and takes a course of action. (personal) She calls the bank customers and some of George’s friends and asks for their help. They overwhelmingly come to his aid with their savings and other significant contributions. (personal)
  • The Bank Examiner changes his mind. The bank examiner, seeing the generosity of the community and support of friends, and caught up in the spirit of the moment, tears up the subpoena, and sings with the others. (personal)
Business is Personal

It is inarguable. Business is personal.

In fact, a business can only work as well as its people work. The success of an enterprise is directly related and proportional to how well that workforce works together and with the marketplace and the community.



People! People! Everywhere!

If business leaders could realize just how personal business really is, they would prioritize an optimized workforce.  It would cause companies to run better, to grow faster and to make more money.

Posted in Autonomy, Human Needs, Management | Leave a comment

Stop All the Workplace Excuses

Frustrated executives and managers are always asking these kinds of questions.

  • Why were those projects never finished?
  • Why aren’t these processes working right?
  • Why are we still doing that?

Checking into the reasons, they hear the same things over and over again.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

They are everywhere. They are abundant. And they are even true.

  • “We’re just doing what you told us to do.”
  • “Jim never got me that file.”
  • “I emailed Susan, and she never got back to me.”
  • I didn’t want to get in trouble.”

What are the results?

Stalled initiatives, incomplete projects, less-than-acceptable results. The situation is reaching epidemic proportions. Money is going down the drain. But few seem to notice. They are all innocently “doing their jobs.”

Ask any manager or executive for a valuable characteristic of employees they wished to be more evident in the workforce and you’ll hear the same thing.

  • It’s not an issue of ability.
  • It’s not an issue of compliance.
  • It’s not an issue of capability.

The most important, valuable, and lacking trait among the members of most workforces is the trait of taking project ownership. We need people who will own their projects and will do whatever it takes to see them through to completion. No excuses.

Ahhhh. To be able to assign some initiative, knowing that it will be carried out to fruition, to full implementation. That is like currency. You can take it to the bank.

Yet project ownership is rare in most organizations, and it is costing them a fortune.


It’s really not too hard to see. Executives and professional managers lack the core truth, the leadership key which can cause people to finish more, implement fully, and eliminate most problems and excuses.

It’s simply this. 5 very rich words. Axiomatic, when you think about it.

People own what they create.

Let me say it again.

People own, support, even die defending that which they decide, and therefore, create.

That’s easy to understand, and it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that professional management actually follow practices which work in direct opposition. . . behaviors which create, support and sustain a culture of incompleteness and excuses.

Consider 4 management destructive management beliefs and practices.

  • Management is responsible for all “important” decisions.
  • Management sets all directions and determines all goals.
  • Management sets all essential outcomes.
  • Management defines the activity paths to completion.

Then, as kings ruling over loyal subjects, management sits back expecting full alignment, engagement, and implementation. They expect their teams to follow their instructions, and do what they are told.

Most Management Practices are Simply Outdated Technology

These are management practices rooted in ancient and outdated technology, as outdated as any other technology developed in post Civil-War America. When Fredrick Taylor developed “Scientific Management,” as the technology was called, he figured that people were mere machines, that productivity was measured in the volume of activities done, and that creativity and innovation were detrimental to enterprise success.

Well, everyone knows now that people are not machines, mere activities guarantee no productivity, and enterprises that do not create and innovate are on the fast-track to extinction.

So, managers that continue ascribe to “Taylorism” can only expect exactly what it was designed to produce. a busy, under-productive, compliant and controlled workforce, lacking the ability to create and innovate. We just get busier and busier, working harder and harder, never discovering value creating leverage in our operations. It’s not our workforces fault. They just do what they have to do to to keep their jobs.

Remember the TPS reports from the movie “Office Space?”

Careful thought shows that mechanical management processes work counter to human nature. It robs our workforce of most of its ability to meet their most rudimentary human needs.

Porsche takes a different approach.

Vistage Speaker and Former CEO of Porsche, Peter Schutz, learned a different practice, one that was instrumental in returning Porsche to productivity and profitability in the 1990s.

Schutz made 3 significant observations.

  • Implementation is where all money is made.
  • Implementation must be carried out without question, as in a dictatorship.
  • People need input, and need to question. They will do this somewhere within their working roles.

Then, he noticed his company’s practices.

  • Decisions were made by management, professionals trained at making good decisions.
  • Employees were directed to implement based on management’s excellent decisions.
  • Implementation was less-than-sufficient, as employees questioned the decisions in the only place they were involved.

Productivity suffered, as the decisions could never be implemented as management intended.

Peter changed the model to account for human nature. Realizing that questioning was a necessary and inherent condition, he suggested that making provision for questioning at the first level of decision would enable everyone to fully implement, which is what Porsche needed.

Schutz’s truth is this:

  • A well made, quick decision, which is poorly implemented is of little value.
  • A sufficiently-made, slow decision, perfectly implemented is of great value.

Schutz asked his managers to take a step back. He asked them to refrain from making all the important decisions. Then, he asked employees to make them. He asked them to come up with their own ideas and strategies for dealing with all kinds of business situations.

It wasn’t easy, as years of habitual practice had to be overcome. Also, Porsche was not a small employer. Their workforce numbered in the thousands. But as Peter Schutz reports in his talks, Porsche turned around as their workforce was realigned and reengaged.

What did Peter really do? He empowered people to meet their own human needs for learning, for fun, for freedom, for belonging, all while working. As a result, Porsche became a company with no excuses. They began to fully implement their projects.

And the company turned around. Porsche took their well implemented solutions to the bank.

Amazing what a little autonomy can do for workforce optimization.

Amazing what an optimized workforce can do for profitability.

Think about it. Then act.


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