"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

If not otherwise stated—all postings © Frank D. Kanu. All rights reserved.


Archive for the 'IT' Category

Work Samples Don’t Fix Stupid

The request for work samples comes up every once in a while. And almost always they are useless.
Ever asked a police-office to give a work sample; your cab driver or your urologist?

But every once in a while, it gets way too ridiculous.
A request for generic work samples was used to decline a candidate because:
  • The generic samples weren’t specific enough
  • The reviewer complained that one sample was too detailed
  • It was whined that even the sample containing XYZ didn’t contain XYZ

When you are too stupid to express what you want or you can’t recognize it even when it hits you – please do us all a favor and get out of the way of those that work


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When Too Big To Fail Is Too Small

HP made the news this week for selling cloud services to Deutsche Bank.

Anthem made the news for their involuntary sharing of SSN, income data and—one has to assume—health data.

Take a deep breath and read the first paragraph again.

Doesn’t it make you feel uncomfortable to read about those companies that insist on getting more and more personal data to perform even the smallest of service—yet can’t don’t protect anything?

How long until we hear about the even bigger cloud breach?

And if you are too big to fail—how much of your fucking shit is covered up—because those cover ups “leaders” don’t like to stink?


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The 7 Sins

Lust:An intense desire for money, fame and power.
Gluttony:Over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.
Greed:Excessive pursuit of material possessions.
Sloth:A failure to do the things you should be doing.
Wrath:Inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.
Envy:Desire for the things others have.
Pride:Belief that you are better than others and a failure to acknowledge others’ accomplishments.

The seven deadly sins may date back to 14th century theological teachings and writings… but giving them modern definitions with the help of Wikipedia, I cite them here wondering how many business, religious and political leaders could claim that they were without sin(!).

Self-knowledge is, I believe, a wonderful thing. Any leader who can properly analyze themselves and determine what truly motivates them and informs the decisions they make can improve their leadership skills.

So… consider your current priorities… and audit them against the seven deadly sins. You might want to rethink any that you suspect may be driven by motives other than those in the best interests of your company, your staff and your customers.

Oh… and while on the subject, you might want to visit the seven deadly sins the next time you’re trying to understand the less helpful conduct exhibited by members of your staff or team.

And to try a different tack when trying to move them away from that behavior!


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Nap Away!

I have been thinking about square pegs and round holes.

The square peg I am particularly concerned about is the human body. The round hole is modern life.

Now… those leaders who insist on hammering the square peg that is the human body into the round hole that is modern life are eventually going to fail, believe me.

But smarter leaders, those who recognize what humans and particularly, human physiology, requires to thrive, well… they’re on to a winner. Because they are going to have the happiest, most effective and most successful workforce.

I say this as yet another study confirms that new connections between brain cells (aka synapses) form during sleep. In other words… sleep is when people consolidate, process and learn from the events of the previous day.

Last year, studies showed that the brain uses sleep to remove ‘waste toxins’ built up during the day.

And other studies showed that ignoring the importance of sleep exposes individuals to a greater likelihood of developing health problems like cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity.

Now a few blogs ago, I suggested that people should be able to work when it suited their internal body clock.

To which I now add… and they should be allowed to take naps at work to boost productivity and creativity.

Not practically possible? Have a look at these Metronap Energy Pods external and in particular the video.

Now if you’ll excuse me…
I’m off for my afternoon nap.


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I Do Not Know What You Are Capable Of

“I can’t use you because I don’t know what you are capable of.”
What a sad sad statement from anybody who claims to lead or manage.
Without using that person, how does any manager ever know?
  • This is why in sports we have practice.
    Perfect Practice makes perfect.
    Vince Lombardi
  • This is why we have tests. I mean real tests where the student gets to see the results and has a teacher willing to explain; not this useless stupidity of telling the result and leave it at that. And get the results in a timely manner. Do you remember what you did 2 weeks ago; 6 months? Exactly my point!
  • This is why we have interviews of potential employees.
  • This is why we evaluate; not just once but ongoing.
  • This is why real leaders surround themselves with talent.
  • This is why real leaders find out the potential of those they are forced to use.
  • This is why real leaders don’t have a team of 60 with 40 at the sideline. Either they have smaller teams or everyone has a job to do.

How many do you regularly sideline and keep them there?


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When Should People Work?

Ok—so we’ve looked at how long your people should work for each day?

Now how about when should they work each day?

Neurogeneticist Dr Louis Ptacek of the University of California might have a strong view on this. He says that there is a strong genetic connection between whether we are ‘larks’ or ‘owls’. ‘Familial Advanced Sleep Phase’ syndrome determines that we are up early and at our best then. ‘Familial Delayed Sleep Phase’ syndrome puts those under this genetic influence at the other end of the day in terms of wakefulness and peak performance.

And Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, Head of the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre talks along similar lines. He says that ‘fast-clock’ people like to do things early and ’slow-clock’ people like to do things late.

Professor Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich refers to the sleep deprivation many ’slow-clock’ people suffer each week as social jet lag. Driven out of their beds early by alarm-clocks, these people accumulate sleep loss manifesting as social jet lag… and he says it’s harder to get over than time-zone jet lag.

One of Professor Roenneberg’s suggestions in how to address the problem of social jet lag is to customize work attendance times. In other words, rather than hard and fast ‘9-5′ days, assess an individual’s sleeping type and organize their contractual hour accordingly.

Now there would clearly be lots of challenges with this. Will people who need to work together be in the office at the same time? How will shift-workers work? How to keep attendance records and so on.

Nothing in my opinion, though that cannot be overcome.

And think of the efficiency and performance gains!


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How Long Should People Work?

So… leaders everywhere I ask you… how long should your people work each day?

They’re really keen to find out in Sweden.

They explored the issue in the country’s most northerly town, Kiruna. Here some 250 staff worked a six hour shift for 16 years (now that’s a long experiment!) until the trial was abandoned after a review decided that there had been no perceptible impact on workers’ health.

Then they had another go in a hospital department in Stockholm. This had to be abandoned because of the levels of resentment in other departments.

And another similar experiment with childcare workers was halted because costs started to rise.

Undeterred, staff in one government department in Sweden are to work six-hour days to see if their levels of happiness are higher than colleagues on a ‘control’ group still working the standard seven-hour day. The hope is that staff on shorter days will have lower sick absence levels and have better physical and mental health.

Now I am not sure they’re going to get the benefits they hope for with this experiment. Some of the issues that befell previous attempts like colleague resentment might happen again. And workers might find it difficult to achieve in six hours what they used to in seven.

In my heart of hearts, though, I hope it’s a success. I have touched many times on the work:life balance issue in this blog… and would welcome any evidence that fewer working hours is progress.



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Gender Diversity

What happens—if you say ‘gender diversity‘ to a room crowded with male CEO’s.

I’ve never done it, so I don’t know for sure. But I bet that while a few enlightened individuals may nod sagely and engage you in a discussion about how their company is trying to encourage a higher proportion of women in their top jobs, many will look for a convenient pot plant to hide behind.

I mention this having stumbled across a Washington-based organization called WEConnect International. WEConnect International describes itself as a ‘global non-profit (organization) that facilitates economic growth by increasing opportunities for women-owned business to succeed in global value chains’.

You will be taken aback by some of the statistics on this page of WEConnect’s website—http://weconnectinternational.org/buying-for-impact# external—including the fact that women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food but earn only 10% of the income and 1-2% of the property.

I was also struck by the fact that there are approximately 187 million women entrepreneurs worldwide who own at least some 32-39% of all private businesses in the formal economy.

Elsewhere, I read that women hold only 3% of CEO positions and only 15% of board seats among Fortune 500 companies. The so called ‘glass ceiling’ is clearly made of tougher stuff than commentators 30, 20 or even 10 years ago anticipated.

If I worked with your company and asked a few obvious questions about the profile of women within the organization like…
  • what percentage of the workforce do women represent?
  • what distribution is there of women over the different echelons with the company?
  • how easy is it for women to have families but retain their ‘position’

…and so on, would you be able to answer them readily?


And perhaps not.

Whichever it is, and a bit like your policy on the environment and your Corporate and Social Responsibility in general, you had better take an interest in pulling together fair and cogent policies for women in your company over the next few years because (mark my words) …

…your suppliers, your shareholders—and most importantly, your customers, will be watching with interest.


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