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Lila-Mae White, MBA, CHE, PMP

TreeToadConsulting@gmail.com

250-215-2626

Innovation in its different forms

Posted 10/1/2020

“One form of originality is creation. Another form is synthesis.” James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

 

The performance appraisal structure we use at my job includes rating and comments about your skills, abilities and record related to innovation. I have always struggled with the notion of innovation because I do not see myself as creative or a visionary. In a previous post I shared that my strengths are related to bringing an idea to life – the strategies and tactics of doing, but it does not really lie in the idea generation itself.

 

As the quote above reveals, innovation has different facets and creation is just one of them. While not good at the creation phase I am a rock star at synthesis. I love looking at how other organizations have managed a situation or moved forward a change. I especially like looking at other industries – their metrics, their processes, and their project management to discover ideas to bring back to my own situation or need.

 

How do you view innovation? What is your innovation superpower?

 

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One wish.....

Posted 9/24/2020

I am currently reading “Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up” by Jerry Colonna. The book is a about resetting the balance of your life through deep self-inquiry and the head-on examination of what drives us – the good, the bad and the ugly of what has molded us. 

Colonna asks a simple but powerful question – “What is one thing you wish your colleagues knew about you?”

In my day job (not my side hustle Tree Toad Consulting) I am fortunate to work with several people I am very close with. These folks pretty much know everything about me. Many of the other folks I routinely work with have known me for a significant portion of my 20-year tenure so it is difficult to think of something I would still like them to know.

If I think of new people I meet in my work I would want them to know that each time I start a new assignment or project I struggle with powerful feelings of being an imposter and a fear that someone is going to call me out on it.

What is the one thing you wish your colleagues knew about you?

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Dead Wood

Posted 9/17/2020

What’s that got to do with Leadership – Part II (Guest Blog)

Back in September of 2017 I shared my musings on the “Low Hanging Fruit” as a metaphor for leadership and project management.  Well I was at it again.  Today, for the second time this year, I set out to pick the plums in my backyard.  In 2017, the mantra of Low Hanging Fruit kept reverberating in my mind – this year it was “Dead Wood”.  It would seem that picking plums, for me, is quite a meditative exercise and allows my mind to ponder life and all its intricate complexities while my hands get busy with the task at hand.

I could see the plums.  They were beautiful and enticing and just out of my reach.  What stood between me and that luscious fruit was years of old growth that was unproductive, incredibly prickly and absolutely in the way of reaping the fruits of my labour.

I thought about the workplace and how often we see that unproductive old growth who’s only function seems to be to provide resistance and block forward movement.  They are prickly in disposition, they are not interested in helping achieve a new goal, they are entirely comfortable right where they are.

As I faced the well-entrenched network of branches that blocked access to the very fruit I wanted to pick I realized that I needed to remove the dead wood.  Before I knew what was happening I had the pruning shears out and away I went.  Twigs and branches flying.  I began to see a clear path to those delicious plums.  As I hacked away at that poor tree I realized that each twig lead to a slightly bigger twig which lead to a small branch which lead to a larger branch and finally it became evident that the entire branch was dead.  I had to call in reinforcements – out came the power saw.  Sometimes bigger, stronger tools are called for.  After much effort and not a small amount of struggle I managed to eliminate the main obstacle that was keeping me from achieving my goal. 

Pondering the connection between pruning and leadership I realized that so often in our professional lives we get lost in the small twigs. We can spend a lot of time eradicating the small details of an issue and we never get beyond that point.  When we start finding bigger twigs and then larger branches our endurance often peters out.  We might at this point decide that half the amount of plums is sufficient and leave the rest for the birds or deer.  However, perseverance will reward you with achievement at levels previously unheard of.  There will be more light and fewer hazards.  There will be more room for the fruit to blossom and grow.

It is not easy to rid yourself of the curse of dead wood.  There will be a lot of sweat.  A lot of cursing.  A lot of dirt.  You will be bone tired.  Your arms will ache.  But persevere.  It will be worth it . . .

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Power Tools - Essential Equipment for Leaders

Posted 9/10/2020

I carry a lot of details in my head and sometimes my cognitive air traffic controller goes on a coffee break. That is when the cognitive chaos happens!

My solution to clear my head and pass the time until the chaos resolves? Power tools!

I know some people run and others cook to relax, reduce stress, and clear their thinking but I grab my power sander. I have completed a few refinishing/restoration projects on antique windows and furniture. I get a great deal of satisfaction in the completion of the project of course (I am an ISTJ after all), but I also like the mundane work of sanding. I like the movement of the sander back and forth across the wood – there is a rhythm to the motion and a cadence in the hum that seems to calm my thoughts and create space to ponder.

Good thing I work at home since not many offices have a woodworking shop or power tools!

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Pondering Time Travel

Posted 9/3/2020

If your younger leader-self could see the leader you are today what would they be the most surprised by?

Of course, this is an age-old question with the twist of focussing more specifically on your leadership over time. For me, the answer came quickly (not sure what that means) - it is the level of tolerance I now have for situations to unfold or things to change.

My younger self was much fierier and more impatient. In fact, my Grandma used to tell me I could not even spell the work patient. I used to dive headfirst into causes, conflicts, and projects. For the longest time, other than reading I did not engage in hobbies like knitting or woodworking etc. because to me they all represented something that had to be finished right this minute. They certainly were not relaxing.

So, I think my older leader has mellowed. She recognizes that sometimes situations must unfold to its natural pivot place to allow things to grow and change organically rather than through other influences. Maybe as an older leader I am more discerning in where my fiery self focuses.

What would your younger leader say about your leader-self today?

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Misinformation and Disinformation

Posted 8/27/2020

Misinformation is the inadvertent sharing of information that is incorrect. “In the olden days” the spread of misinformation was limited and slow as conversations occurred or as snail mail made it to its destination. Disinformation – the intentional and malicious dissemination of incorrect information followed the same slow path of spread.

Fast-forward to today and just about every single person holds enormous power to spread both forms of information. Add to that, engines (platforms) that make the most ridiculous information look legit and a population untrained and ill-equipped to both take in the amount of information being flung at us daily or the skills (and interest) to fact-check and verify what we are seeing.

In this era of fear, divisiveness, and polarization around even small issues, it is incumbent on each of us to call out those that spread disinformation and to ensure we are not contributing to any misinformation that is out there. And if you think it does not matter – think again! Just look at the information going around about coronavirus or US politics…. What you post and what you share influences peoples and gets passed along.

It is also important for those of us with young people in our sphere, to contribute to their learning, understanding and skills related to good practices related to data and information.

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2020

Posted 8/20/2020

Honestly, there is nothing more to say.

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Three Career Questions

Posted 8/13/2020

I was recently introduced to a new podcast Career Curves. As someone who has been less than intentional and more opportunistic about my career choices, listening to people who have embraced and even chosen their career curves really resonates for me. It also reminds me to be more observant and mindful of opportunities, especially when I am feeling stuck or complacent in my comfort zone.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I love questions. Listening to this podcast I was struck by 3 questions that I am pondering since I heard them.

  1. What was your smartest career move, intentional or not?
  2. What is one career do over you wish you could have?
  3. What career advice would you give to your younger self?

I am not sure I have landed on answers to the first two questions yet. The answer to the third question would be to pursue a profession in healthcare – not sure if it would have/should have been a surgical nurse, a diagnostic imaging technologist or a physiotherapist. While I probably would still have migrated into Management roles, having the medical professional background would have opened different opportunities.

How would you answer these questions? What are your thoughts about riding the career curve?

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Discerning your life's purpose

Posted 7/30/2020

The Toad was born a wise old soul. He was nine when he first asked me what he was meant to do with his life. Yup nine! As you can imagine I was ill prepared for the question as I thought I had a few more years to figure it out for myself before I had to help guide him.

Since then I have read more than a few books and blogs about leadership, finding meaning, faith, decision making, spirituality, acceptance etc. Many writers have offered their own frame for measuring the metrics of a life lived well or discerning your life purpose. As I read the book Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up, the author offered two important questions to contemplate. They are:

  1. In what ways have I been brave?
  2. How have I been kind?

Simple, clear, but full of meaning, interpretation, and opportunity! Brilliant!

OK Toad, this time I am ready for you!

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Project Planning

Posted 7/24/2020

Work projects + Consulting projects +  House projects = sticky notes + lists all over the Yellow Castle!

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