Saturday, January 27, 2007

And The Results Are...

The question I asked last week was "If you had an extra 15 minutes in your day, how would you use it?"

The answers were as follows:
  • Get back into my reading
  • Journal
  • Talk to my partner/spouse/kids
  • Visit my grandmother
  • Cook
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Sleep/cat nap
  • Meditate
  • Practice/play piano
  • Clean my car
  • Play!
  • Relax with a cup of tea/coffee

Many said it was impossible to answer. Others said "What can I do in 15 minutes?" (now there's a question a Coaches LOVE to wrap their minds around). These answers were given by high level executives. Notice none of those answers had anything whatsoever to do with work.

Those asked had a really hard time answering. It took them longer to answer the question than the 15 minute time allotment. Fascinating hmm? So what comes to mind is, if you really did have an extra 15 minutes in a day, would it fluster you so much to figure out what to do with it that the time would go poof into thin air? More than likely.

15 minutes to me, as a Shadow Coach™ to high level executives and global leaders is a gift from heaven! We rarely have the luxury of time. Often our feedback sessions are 2 - 3 minutes as we run into elevators (private elevators or unoccupied...confidentiality is paramount), in and out of cars on the way back from meetings, escaping for a short walk or to buy a coffee. 15 minutes would be 5 times that amount of feedback time.

15 minutes extra with no interruptions, pressures, commitments with my son or anyone special in my life would be a gift. It could mean a conversation with someone I hadn't had a chance to speak to in way too long. It could be picking out the perfect greeting card for someone.

I received many answers but would like to share one specifically with you as it's from someone I virtually met through my blog and have been in contact with over the years. He is someone I respect very highly, who teaches me through contemplative, words of wisdome and a wealth of experience. I asked him if I might share his response with you, not in its entirety as it's quite long, but the points of it to make you wonder, perhaps and look at time as the gift it truly is....and, as Asmir pointed out, an equalizer for it makes us all the same. We are all gifted with the same amount of time. No more. No less. It doesn't matter our standing in life, class, race or religion. What we do with time is up to us.

An excerpt from Asmir's response: "The question of: "If you had an extra 15 minutes in your day, how would you use it?" perhaps meant to ask: Your time in fact is 100% yours and it ticks at its own speed, nothing can be done about it. Everybody makes decisions. Those who say that they do not actually, do make decisions. They decide not to make decisions."

When I asked Asmir if I might share this because he teaches me so much with his wisdom, his answer was this: "My answer? Follow your heart, you have the answer there. As I said before, life is actually a journey about knowing who we really are. In reality, we keep on manifesting who we really are through what we say or do.

At last, I do not believe in teaching anybody. I think you are like that too. You are right, I was sharing and you know that actually you are the one that teach yourself. All the good things in the world multiply rather than deplete when they are shared. It is true with things like courage, love, knowledge etc."

Only in sharing through this medium could I have connected with him, with all of you, learn from you and hopefully, through sharing teach you something about yourself, about life as well, though what you do with my words, how you listen and process them is your choice and yours alone.

I leave you with this question: If you really were gifted with an extra 15 minutes, would you know what it is you'd do with it? Chunks of 15 minutes appear all the time and many are so flustered by what to do with such a small amount of time, that it evaporates before they know it. What will you do to make sure that doesn't happen so it doesn't tick away all on its own?

Donna Karlin

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Concept of The Gift of Time

Recently I was asked a fascinating question which, of course, I asked others in turn (hey I AM a Coach and we do questions very well). The question was "If you had an extra 15 minutes in your day, how would you use it?"

The first thoughts that came to mind were clarifying questions as I know my clients would ask me the same ones. "Do you mean during the work day? at home? my day overall?" Valid questions, however the truth comes through return questioning, as often people want you to give them permission (in this indirect way) to choose to take a special gift such as extra time and use it in a specific way that means a lot to them and that might mean being a bit selfish. There isn't a right or wrong answer to this. It's not a trick question. And as it's not possible, at least in this day and age, it's a hypothetical one...but an important, valid one.

Some of the answers were fascinating. I'll share them with you next time around because for now I would really love to hear how you would answer it.

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


How many work for leaders who can’t make a decision come love or money? Unfortunately that seems to be a state of affairs way too often, especially in smaller businesses. In the corporate world, a leader who can’t make a decision won’t last long enough to waffle, but in smaller businesses, where leaders second guess where they should be and where they need to go, the staff flounder and eventually (sooner than later) leave.

Many wait for direction, for the markets, professional trends and the trades to give them some sense of what’s to come in their marketplace however in these days of constant change, that’s not necessarily a wise move. Stop looking for direction and just get on a path. You have to start something to finish something and paralyzing yourself without choosing direction isn’t any way to go. It’s more like stop! Either you’re going to create your vision for the future or circumstances will dictate what it will look like. As a leader which do you want?

Take that first step. See it as if it’s tangible and ask yourself "What will it look like"? The moment you can answer that question watch the energy and momentum increase. Those that follow you, will be jumping right in.

Donna Karlin

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Future of Business Communications

I've been working with the Microsoft UCG Vision Team for the past 10 months or so, to (as they say) provide valuable, contextual insight into technology, business and workplace issues and trends. I am not a technologist by any stretch of the imagination, though am fascinated by technology and how to best use it within my profession. The concepts of collaborative technology intrigues and fascinates me though, I must admit much of it escaped me in how it would be applied and best used, not only in my world but those of my clients.

Just before the holidays (2006) I was invited to Objectworld to see a demonstration of how this technology works. It blew me away, answered all the questions I had and then some and left me with the perspective "Why in the world are we working any other way?" I believe that in most cases, the answer to that question has a great deal to do with the lack of understanding of just what is possible.

The day I visited Objectworld was also the launch of my article about Rising Stars in Canadian Government Executive Magazine and coincidently in the same issue was a brilliant article by David Levy, the CEO of Objectworld putting into words what most of us can wrap our heads around, just what collaborative technology can mean to an organization. I had asked David and the editor of the magazine if I could reprint it as why reinvent the wheel when this describes it to a "T"? So for all of you who would like to better understand what this might mean for you, and with their gracious permission, here it is.

Donna Karlin

The future of business communications - by David Levy

Three years ago, keen observers would have noticed the beginning of a new era of organizational communications, or more specifically a new era of how communications are going to be delivered.

The convergence of telephony services (phone calls, voicemail, fax, etc.) into the IT data center (where e-mail, database software and other data services are managed) marks the opportunity for reduced costs, simpler administration and enhanced productivity. This is equally true for businesses and governments, regardless of their size.

Unified Messaging (getting your voicemail in your e-mail inbox or having “Emily” read your e-mails to you over the phone) promises the opportunity to receive messages across a variety of devices, whether these messages are e-mail, voicemail or fax. Unified Communications provides the opportunity to manage your calls and messages in the way that suits you best – that is, to make voice and fax as user-centric as e-mail is today.

For evidence of this ongoing shift, one need look no further than the announcement by Microsoft in June that they plan to develop voice products for the enterprise market. Yes, the largest software company in the world is getting into the telecommunications business, or, rather, they are moving telecommunications into the information systems business. And they are not alone. With Microsoft entering the market through their announced partnership with Nortel, and IBM partnering with 3Com, and the Cisco and Siemens partnership, it is clear all of these moves are about Unified Communications.

All three partnerships between the industry giants take different delivery approaches. Nevertheless, all three describe Unified Communications as the transition of voice and fax services from proprietary, device- and location-centric hardware and software to the delivery of voice and fax services as open, standards-based software. The opportunity to lead this market is substantial and the benefits to delivering all communications in an organization through the IT data centre are tremendous.

You may recall the proprietary nature of computing in the 1980s and 90s. Telephone systems were also proprietary and specialized. Networking systems (hubs, routers, switches) were also largely proprietary and specialized. As was the data center. The specialization of vendors and their offerings reflected, and still does reflect, the separation of these three silos.

However, over the 90s it become financially advantageous to both network and data center vendors to make their products more open and interoperable, and to sell on volume. For telecommunications vendors, however, it remained, and largely remains, business as usual. And yet, the competitive business advantages for a single system to handle voice, fax, e-mail and other kinds of business communications have never been greater. Three seemingly disparate trends have made telephony as software not just possible but inevitable.

First, computing has continued to evolve, becoming more open, more flexible, simultaneously cheaper and yet more powerful. This trend has resulted in the gradual elimination of the need for proprietary, stand-alone and expensive single-purpose hardware.

Second, the number of communication devices has become greater and ways of communicating more diverse. The office phone of the 1970s has given way to today’s feature-rich office phone, the cell-phone, the soft-phone, the home phone, the e-mail, the instant messaging system, the video-conference and more, with an increased need to communicate seamlessly across all these devices.

Finally, with all the technical ground work in place, and a growing demand from the market, the only remaining variable was a matter of logistics: how to standardize the flow of voice and fax traffic over a data network in a way that allows for real-time collaboration. With the wide acceptance of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), this problem was solved. The rise in easy-to-manage, user-centric IT models, like Microsoft Active Directory, has made it possible to reorganize telephony systems into the IT data center as software that administers users, rather than just their devices or their locations.

The result is a telephony system that's as user-centric, cost-effective and easy to manage as e-mail. With aging, limited and proprietary technology, the traditional telecommunications vendors are unable to accommodate these trends. Relying on a PBX today to meet all your business communications needs is like relying on a corner mailbox rather than selling an e-mail system, or on a calculator rather than a spreadsheet application. Instead, the future is VoIP, Unified Messaging and Unified Communications, Interactive Voice Response, and other services delivered as software. The benefits, particularly to the public sector, are substantial.

For government, Unified Communications lowers cost by being able to use commodity hardware (servers, phones, gateways, Internet, ODBC and SOA implementations), but also eases concerns regarding vendor lock-in and future-proofing. Imagine never being billed for long-distance calls to remote offices and teleworkers, and being able to change desktop phone deployments as easily as you change a printer.

Unified Communications also simplifies and homogenizes network topology and simplifies administration, something especially useful in larger, heterogeneous computing environments in which resources are already stretched. Imagine a single point of administration for each user’s desktop computer, their e-mail, their desktop phone and their cell-phone, all managed by simple Windows-based interfaces, seamlessly and in real-time with centralized security and policy. Unified Communications enhances productivity. Imagine routing calls, faxes and e-mails to an employee wherever they are, whether in a branch office, corporate office, working at home or on the road, with whatever device they happen to be using. Imagine never missing an important call or providing simple, phone-based self-service to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Everything from initial purchase, deployment, configuration, operations, management, administration and maintenance of organizational communications will cost less, be easier to manage while providing employees with the tools they need to be more productive.

Already, IT managers are assuming increased responsibility for communications (purchasing, operating and administering), in what analysts described as the coming $40B battleground. It will be interesting to see how many software vendors make announcements to enter the unified communications market and what approaches they will take within the coming months.

David Levy is chief executive officer of Objectworld Communications in Ottawa.

Reprinted from Canadian Government Executive Magazine with permission

Monday, January 08, 2007

High Performance Culture

How do you define true leadership? Many define it as a position within an organization, though that term more defines a level of power rather than someone others will follow. Leadership can be found at every level of an organization by virtue of a person’s way of being. It’s a matter of paying attention so you discover these individuals and then do something to grow them into their level of excellence.

The concept or term of leadership is bantered about, debated and dialogued from more perspectives that I can count, but as an Executive Shadow Coach a major focus is to identify leadership capabilities in every level of an organization, and who the rising stars might be. It’s also figuring out the dimensions of leaders and followers and who needs to get out of the way to make sure that evolutionary flow happens.

Leadership is not defined by position of power. I know way too many people in powerful positions that paralyze an organization. From an Executive Coach’s point of view, and in order to look at the dynamics that will help evolve both the organization and the individuals within it, I have to look at what will develop a high performance organizational culture and that is determined by it’s leaders.

A piece of that puzzle is stoking a fire within people, not under them. Once I help them align with their passions, that fire is lit and nothing will stop them. The resulting energy and momentum automatically creates a high performance culture. If that isn’t the status quo within your organization, what are you doing to change it? How often have you seen someone shine and didn’t acknowledge them or do anything about it? Staff retention is one thing, but what caliber of staff do you want to retain? Those who fly or those who coast?

Donna Karlin