Create Purpose. Create Relationships. Create Engagement. Pumpkinfest


Each of us have experiences within the context of the video below. We all volunteer, give back to our communities, or do things simply because we enjoy them. Said another way, we live our lives with purpose.


Our shareholders have a purpose for investing in us. Our employees have a purpose for working with us. And, our customers have a purpose for buying from us.


With this in mind, we are called to create the purpose for our teams in order to shape our shareholder, employee, and customer value propositions. While creating a purpose in your organization has many desirable effects, I want to focus on the correlation of purpose to relationships to engagement.


By creating a purpose, we create an opportunity for our teams to build a relationship with the company on a professional, personal, and even an emotional level.


  • Professional – A fair exchange of value for money exists. Your skills and role are matched.
  • Personal – A sense of pride comes through, where the employer offers value beyond compensation to include things like learning, attractive experiences, and shared beliefs/culture.
  • Emotional – In these situations, you likely work with people whom you consider some of your closest friends. Said another way, you likely have shared experiences in your work life that reflect relationships and experiences similar to high school or college.


Through purpose, you plant the seed of employee engagement that can grow to bear the fruit of professional, personal, and emotional engagement. Of course, you need more than purpose (e.g. values, culture, etc.) for the fruit to ripen, but it all starts with purpose. In turn, engagement of your teams ultimately translates into great products and customer service, thus fulfilling the stakeholder, customer, and employee value propositions mentioned above.


What do you do to create an environment to work together with a purpose? Start with purpose, and invest in employee engagement to position your team to delivery the best possible products and services to your customers.



Do you have a “hero-based” culture?

Great People Are Overrated – Bill Taylor – Harvard Business Review.

How many times have you worked in a team where, there was one or two outstanding performers who always had the answer and were the “go to” people in the team? What 5 adjectives would you use to describe the culture / character of that team?

Heroes are everywhere. The are most noticeable in professional sports. The article linked above refers to some recent examples, most notably, LeBron James of the Miami Heat. We need heroes, the kind of people who step up in crucibles of crisis to make the great play, close the difficult deal, turn around the troubled project, or deliver on the unreachable milestone.  They are very much a part of our society, and they bring limitations as well as benefits.

Are  you staffing your team with heroes? Are you picking up the highest paid free agents in an effort to boost your team? Are you building an all-star roster, or are you amassing a multi-faceted team capable of taking on just about any challenge thrown their way? The key is assembling the right balance within your team to give people a chance to be a hero, even an unsung hero. Every hero is made. This is validated by the fact that they are presented with an opportunity to shine, and they step up to make it happen. Having heroes on your team is important, but an over-reliance on them is risk. Heroes without a supporting cast, can lead to under-achievement.

Taking a lesson from the article attached, I would agree that great people, heroes, are overrated, much like betting $1M at the roulette table is overrated. For every millionaire who has won big at gambling there are hundreds of thousands who have lost. For every Mark Zuckerberg, there are millions of technical entrepreneurs who never made it. In business and in life, an over-emphasis on heroes or heroic behavior can create issues like bad team dynamics, increased costs, and an unsustainable model for success. So, how do you create a balanced team in the work place?

The triple constraint of repeatable success in the work environment is:

  1. The right balance of structure (e.g. processes and standards that enable not inhibit),
  2. The right individual people who can be, but don’t need to be a hero (e.g. individual skills and self-confidence), and
  3. The right team dynamic (e.g. a mixture of complimentary skills with individual self-awareness)

No matter what line of business you work in, your will be a better leader by establishing an environment that periodically gives people opportunities to be heroes while creating a management system that reduces the dependency on “betting it all on the roulette table.”

Investing In Yourself (my preliminary take on The Energy Project)

Take Back Your Lunch – The Energy Project.

This link came across my desk earlier this week and caught my eye. As you think about the impact of a movement like this, several managerial catch phrases may come to mind like…work-life balance, quality of life, respect for the individual, being a “working mom”, or being a “family man”. Do you believe in these? Do you live your life by these? Most importantly, do your actions reflect a commitment to these principles and what this movement seems to be about?

Energy or more specifically, engagement – the combination of energy and contribution, is a topic that seems to be increasing in popularity these days. It might be the most important impact you have as a leader, to get and keep people engaged. Achieving that is much easier said than done. Taking back your lunch, one day at a time sounds like a good place to start.

The bigger message, in my opinion, is to invest in yourself. Investing in yourself is critical. If you don’t, why should anyone else? Investing in yourself and your own personal interests is within your control and the best way to increase your opportunity for engagement (assuming you maintain some relative amount of work-related interest).

Admittedly, I am just learning about The Energy Project this week, so we’ll see where all this goes. I think I will take 15 minutes to learn a little more from the website and maybe even buy the book. Afterall, I need to invest in myself, right? Will you?

Which bucket are you operating in: “because of” or “in spite of”?

Want to know how you can positively impact your own skills profile, a one-on-one discussion, team discussion, or leadership team? Go get two buckets.

In the first bucket, place all your or others positive, encouraging, or productive comments. This is the “because of” bucket. Each of us are successful for different reasons. Think…”I am successful or effective ‘because of’ [insert reason here]”. How big is your “because of bucket”? What is in there? What would others say is in your “because of” bucket? Take inventory of the content of your “because of” bucket and leverage it.

In the second bucket is the “in spite of” attributes. Individuals, meetings, and teams are successful “in spite of” things too. Perform the same analysis here too. You are successful “in spite of” several attributes. Take inventory, and learn to minimaze or neutralize these attributes. By doing so, you will do yourself and your teams a favor.

In your change teams, practice the two buckets on a personal level to encourage development, and on a project and team level to marginalize bad behavior. The change agents in your teams should always look for “in spite of” behaviors, discussions, comments, and attitudes. Make this second nature, like walking or breathing. Get your teams to a point where they dont even think about the two buckets, they just instinctively “bucketize” things as a part of their normal course of business. Start with a personal assessment of yourself, and move out from there.

Everyday, challenge yourself and your teams, which bucket are you in? Is the change successful “because of” your actions or “in spite of” your actions?

How Organizational Culture Can Change

How Organizational Culture Can Change –

I have read and seen a lot of change management, business transformation, and executive leadership materials refer to the GM-Toyota partnership and the article above provides a nice summary.

This case suggests that driving cultural change is all about modifying behavior through the management system, motivation, and leadership. Further, I concur that trying to change how people think, is a dead end. In support of this assertion, I refer you to The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge for a discussion on mental models.

Culture can change. You can move the needle “one tick at a time”. It is not easy, and the successful ones, are done many times, without anyone even realizing that it is happening.

Sr. Project Manager Opportunity in a Transformation Environment

We are looking for a senior program / project manager to join our business transformation / change team to lead the evolution of our business and make our transformation happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are a player with line management experience, incredible leadership capability, and can make things happen, please read on.

We seek an experienced PM who possess the skills and capabilities below, is looking for a great opportunity to make a difference in a company, be an immediate impact player, and join a very exciting and energized team. Please inquire about this opportunity at, sign this guestbook with your email, or email me directly at

Senior Program / Project Manager

This experienced Project / Program Manager with have 8-10 years of demonstrated leadership skills in both internal and external customer-facing roles. As a member of the enterprise business change management team, the Project / Program Manager will be a key leader to the overall transformation of Yellowbook. In partnership with the business and IT, they will spearhead the end to end delivery of key strategic and/or operational projects within Yellowbook. As key contributors to the project life cycle, the Project / Program Manager will have the responsibility and authority to ensure that business transformation and system development projects are completed on schedule and on budget. The Project / Program Manager will be responsible for driving projects using our proven project management framework. Daily activities will include but not be limited to: supporting business cases, developing project plans, allocating project staff, scheduling milestones and tasks, identifying risks, creating contingency plans, and managing project communications. Persons filling this position will be responsible for multiple on-going capital and non-capital development projects and ensuring consistency and technical integrity of the systems generated. This role is located in Philadelphia, PA. Consultants or traveling resources are not being considered at this time.

Key Skills and Capabilities

  • Strong desire to make a difference in a company and drive change via project delivery from ideation through business adoption.
  • Advertising & marketing experience in the new media / on-line space. * Demonstrated leadership with agile project management techniques.
  • Success with delivering end to end business operations enhancements.
  • Proven track record with system integration type projects.
  • Leading in a fast paced entrepreneurial environment.
  • Broad communications that spans the CxO, Vice President, business process owner, developer, test, and release management roles.
  • Influencing executive leadership across the entire enterprise.
  • Lead the end to end delivery of transformational project across the business and information technology organizations.
  • Creation of project Business Case detailing call to action, project scope, objectives, high level plan & timeline, costs & benefits, project organization, and risks.
  • Creation of detailed schedules including implementation / deployment plans.
  • Execute the Detailed Technical Plan and ensure that all the time lines and technical specifications are followed.
  • Provide weekly progress reports to the sponsor, steering committee, and senior managers.
  • Manage projects across the marketing, sales, publishing, finance, new media, and IT organizations.
  • Assess and evaluate the technical integrity of the project solution, partnering with the business and technical teams through definition, building, testing, and deployment.
  • Own the activities and time lines associated with the greater project plan.
  • Own ensuring the budgetary constraints are adhered to.
  • Own allocating the appropriate resources within the defined schedules.
  • Facilitate project status meetings with end user teams and internal IT Teams.
  • Be responsible and ensure that team members are accurately reporting time against capital development projects and non-capital development projects.
  • Act as and be a mentor to IT Team members that report directly or indirectly through you.
  • Adhere to organization, department, and industry guidelines, standards, policies and procedures.
  • Work closely with the Project Management Organization to deploy new tools, techniques, and PM capabilities.
  • Promote the company culture by approaching each day with an entrepreneurial, team-oriented, and can-do attitude.
  • Embrace and contribute to the project management framework and tool set within Yellowbook.