May - June, 2012

Volume 2, Number 3

In This Issue

·    Challenging Reality

·    The 7 Habits Still Make Sense

·    How Hot is Your Platform?

·    It’s Time For an “I” Check

·    Link of the Month

·    What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

·    Special Announcements

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Challenging Reality

In a recent speech, Google founder Larry Page shared some of the best advice he’d ever received.   When somebody whose personal worth is $18 Billion wants to share advice, one tends to perk up one’s ears.  The advice?  Page once attended a leadership seminar where a professor told him “There’s something to be said for having a healthy level of disregard for reality.”   That advice certainly worked for Page.  When you add a new verb to the English language you know you’ve made an impact.

This brings to mind a question futurist Joel Barker asks all of his clients:  “What is impossible in your business today, but if it could be done would fundamentally change how you do business?”

The modern pioneers who generate radical improvement in our lives don’t drive down the middle of the bell curve.  They operate at the fringes, pushing the envelope on what we assume to be the rules that govern our current reality.

A great goal for this summer?  Challenge your assumptions.  Fill in the blanks:  I assume we must_____.   I assume we can’t ______.   Push on those and see if they hold up.  You may find you’ve been working under some outdated or false assumptions.  Breaking down those barriers may clear a path to exponential improvement!

Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

The 7 Habits Still Make Sense

Unbeknownst to him in 1989, Brigham Young University professor Stephen Covey was enjoying his last moments of anonymity.  Within the next 12 months, his new book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would hit the best-seller lists and rocket him into self-help superstardom.  Twenty five million copies (and eight other books) later, it’s still going strong.  So is Covey himself, who will turn 80 later this year.

A nice attribute of classics like this is they are timeless.  The habits make as much sense today as they did back then.  You’ve likely heard of the 7 habits, but how many can you name?   Here they are:

  • Be proactive
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Put first things first
  • Think win-win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the saw


This is a great classic that should be on everyone’s must-read list.  Now that you know what the 7 habits are – how many do you practice?


How Hot is Your Platform?

Burning Platform.  It’s an interesting phrase that we sometimes hear and often don’t understand.  Those who do understand it realize that it is a powerful tool in any OpEx change agent’s toolbox.  Proper use of a burning platform message in your communications can help move people toward making process changes in record time.  Not using it can result in failed change efforts.

In short, a burning platform describes the “bad things” that will happen to us if we don’t change or take immediate action.  Consider a 2-sided coin.  One side is WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) or the positive things that will you will enjoy when you change.  A burning platform is the opposite side of that coin.   Both sides, when used in communications, can help your audience make the decision to move forward with a change. 

The phrase itself refers to Piper Alpha - the worst oil rig fire in history.  To read a short article on the story of the burning platform and tips on using it, click here.  You’ll enjoy the story and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge (WIIFM).  If you don’t read it now, you may kick yourself later for not having this tool at your disposal when you need it…

It’s Time for an “I” Check

What makes a great communicator?  Many things, actually.  One small thing that definitely sets apart the professionals from the amateurs is the use of the word “I”.  Professional speakers and authors understand the need to involve their audiences.  They make a concerted effort to use words like “you” or “us” in their communications rather than focus on themselves by using “I” or “me”.      

A focus on your audience instead of yourself is a key attribute of the best speakers according to Craig Valentine, recipient of the Toastmasters International “World Champion of Public Speaking” award and author of World Class Speaking.   Want to improve your own communications?  Try this challenge over the next week:

·         Review a half-dozen emails you have written.  How many sentences start with “I”?   Examine how those could easily be re-phrased to focus on the recipient. 

·         If you are in a meeting or class, note the number of “I”s the speaker uses.  Is there any way they could have turned those into “you”s?  (For example,  “I want to show you” could be “You’ll want to see this”, etc.)

This isn’t meant to say you’ll never use the word “I”, but rather that the best speakers minimize its use and focus on their audience.  Sometimes big improvements are made by adopting simple habits!

Link of the Month

What is your organization’s mission statement?  Do you have a personal mission statement?  In most OpEx methods that touch on strategy, you can’t avoid hearing

about mission, vision, and values.  A mission statement is a must-have. specializes in just that.  Their web site features mission statement examples for many types of organizations from Fortune 500 firms to families, churches, teams and individuals.  A great place to go for inspiration in writing your next mission statement!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

You have probably heard of Murphy’s Law – “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”  Did you know there actually was a Murphy?  Capt. Edward Murphy, USAF was assigned to a very cool project in the late 1940’s – to see how much deceleration a human could stand and still live.

Picture a dry lake bed in the southwest.  Lay down some railroad track, build an iron chair on wheels, strap a Wile E. Coyote-type  “Acme” rocket to the back, fire it up, send it screaming down the track, stop it and see if the guy lives.  1940’s technology at it’s finest. 

One day Murphy got angry at a technician who wired a gauge incorrectly and grumbled something akin to “if there’s any way to do it wrong – this guy will find a way to do it.”   His project manager was known for keeping a running list of “Laws” – he liked that and called it Murphy’s Law.

Guess what?  The experiment worked!  Dr. John Paul Stapp was the human guinea pig.  In a press conference afterward he credited his survival to a firm belief in “Murphy’s Law” – they proactively looked at everything that could possibly go wrong with the experiment and bullet-proofed it prior to “lighting the fuse”.  

On behalf of all of us who spend our time doing FMEAs and risk assessments (and sled tests), our hats are off to Capt. Murphy!

Special Announcements

·         Now that Motorola, the company that invented Six Sigma, is complete with their split into two firms, they are back in the business of providing training to the general public.  Motorola Solutions recently announced an upcoming public session for Lean Green Belt (August 6-10) and a Black Belt wave starting in September.  To receive a flyer or get more information, contact:

·         According to a recent Associated Press article, the FBI released information regarding an international hacker attack via infected online advertising.  The malware is called the DNS Changer.  A temporary fix has been initiated, but infected computers may lose internet connection on July 9th when all the temporary safe servers are shut off.   The FBI established a website through a security partner that will check your pc for the malware at You can read a short background article at:


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