"Well, we're in deep, deep yogurt now — without a spoon," Trish said, smiling grimly. With tremendous effort, Brad stifled a laugh, because he had just sipped some coffee, and a laugh would have made a significant and painful mess.
He swallowed, and then pleaded, "Not while I'm drinking coffee, OK? Seriously, what on earth are we going to do now? Even with this emergency I bet we can't get a conference room till Wednesday."
"No problem," said Trish, smiling. "We already have one."
Brad grinned. "You devil."
Trish had violated company policy by reserving a room without first scheduling a meeting. It was a little trick she had learned from having been down this road before.
In whatever role you play, you have and use "personal trade secrets." For instance, if you travel by air to make a presentation, you might carry with you a backup copy of the presentation on a flash drive, in addition to the one on your laptop, in case your laptop dies. Or maybe you call ahead to a pal in Purchasing and ask for help in filling out a req, to make sure it goes through on greased rails.
These personal trade secrets make you more effective. They help your teams perform at higher levels, and they make your company more competitive.
We all use little tricks
to make things happen.
Some are common, and
some are uniquely yours.Look around you. The people who sit around the table with you in those endless meetings also have secret tricks. Everyone has them, and you'll probably never find out what they are, because personal trade secrets remain secret for some good reasons:
- Job security
- Many of us feel that if we revealed our secret tricks, we might be less valuable to the company, because then we could be replaced more easily.
- Maybe, but think back. You'll probably find that your secret tricks have evolved over time. They tend to have a short shelf life.
- Some of us fear that if others knew our secret tricks, they might out-compete us for status or promotion.
- Perhaps, but your competitors will soon figure out secrets of their own, and some of those will be the same as yours. Your secret tricks might be invisible, but they aren't secrets for long.
- Policy violations
- Sometimes our secret tricks conflict with company policy. Revealing them could be dangerous.
- This is truly tragic, because it prevents the company from understanding the true costs of those policies.
What if somehow we could share our personal trade secrets without these risks? If you knew some of the personal trade secrets of your peers, chances are excellent that you would adopt some of them yourself, and everyone would benefit.
Well, now you can. Contribute your personal trade secrets anonymously to a Library of Personal Trade Secrets, where you'll be able to read what others have contributed, too. It will be our little secret. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Games for Meetings: III
- We spend a lot of time and emotional energy in meetings, much of it engaged in any of dozens of ritualized
games. Here's Part III of a little catalog of some of our favorites, and what we could do about them.
- Selling Uphill: The Pitch
- Whether you're a CEO or a project champion, you occasionally have to persuade decision-makers who have
some kind of power over you. What do they look for? What are the key elements of an effective pitch?
What does it take to Persuade Power?
- Recovering Time: II
- Where do the days go? How can it be that we spend eight, ten, or twelve hours at work each day and get
so little done? To find more time, focus on strategy.
- Be With the Real
- When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed
that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
- Risk Creep: II
- When risk events occur, and they're of a kind we never considered before, it's possible that we've somehow
invited those risks without realizing we have. This is one way for risk to creep into our efforts. Here's
Part II of an exploration of risk creep.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 22: Disjoint Awareness: Bias
- Some cognitive biases can cause people in collaborations to have inaccurate understandings of what each other is doing. Confirmation bias and self-serving bias are two examples of cognitive biases that can contribute to disjoint awareness in some situations. Available here and by RSS on January 22.
- And on January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
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- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
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- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.