Beijing – Play

I just completed my most successful team workshop and I think I know why it went so well.

It’s because of play.

I’m not talking about the impromptu ping-pong tournament on the second night (which was epic, by the way). I’m talking about my handing over half the agenda to my team and making it their playground.

They chose the topics. They decided how to present. They agreed on the deliverables. They got to work on problems they wanted to solve. Whatever happened, they would learn something.

It now seems obvious that this is a great format to engage the participants. But until recently, the corporate office still dictated the entire agenda and provided all the presenters, who downloaded information on the participants.

Involvement is key to engagement, they say.

And so is play.


Beijing – Confusion

Seth Godin wrote another good post today, this time on “confusion“. It’s worth a read.

As I was trying to apply its wisdom to my life, I thought about the confusion created by American Airlines two days ago. The airline provided very little information to explain why our flight was first diverted and then cancelled. Travelers were confused and frustrated. At the same time, we didn’t have enough information to make a claim against the airline. Was that the goal?

I am also reminded of the confusion we create around compliance. Some E&C professionals believe that all problems can be resolved with a policy or a training or a control. Meanwhile, some business professionals believe that all compliance requirements hinder their business. Neither side brings much evidence to support their claims. As Godin says, “confusion doesn’t have to be right to be confusing.”.

Confusion can also be used as a shortcut to get what we want.

If there is one thing I hope to accomplish in the next two days with my E&C colleagues in Beijing, it’s to reduce confusion. As we discuss third-party oversight and internal investigations and organizational culture, we will shine the light on all areas of confusion and attempt to bring clarity.

Wrongdoing survives only in the shadows.

Beijing – Traveling (again)

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you should.

And if you follow my Instagram story, you already know what happened. Three hours into my flight from Dallas to Beijing, the plane had to turn around because of a “fuel problem”. Once back in Dallas, we waited 5 hours for a new plane and a new crew but, somehow, once everyone was ready to board, the flight was cancelled. I found myself a hotel room, got a few hours of sleep, and I’m back at the Dallas airport writing these lines.

A trusted colleague from China will run the first day of the event in my stead. I’ve known him for over 10 years and I’m grateful that he and I became “professional friends” along the way. We’ve shared many laughs, a few drinks, and a handful of candid conversations about our strengths and weaknesses. These are the relationships that foster mutual growth. They require a minimum investment but they yield huge dividends.

OK. Heading back to the gate.

Third time’s a charm?

Beijing – Traveling (anxiety)

Not surprisingly, I woke up at 2 AM, a full hour before I really needed to get out of bed for my flight.

There’s always a certain level of anxiety before a trip like this, even though I travel all the time. I wonder if I packed everything I need, even though my trusted checklist hasn’t let me down in 10 years. I think about Plan B if my flight is delayed or cancelled (like it was during my last trip to Australia). I tend to rehearse in my mind what is going to happen during the trip (depending on whether I’m going on an investigation or audit, to provide training, or present at a conference).

Of course, I wake up several times wondering if I missed my alarms – both of them.

Not very Stoic, I know.

And somewhat strange because I looooove to travel.

So here I am. Sunday morning, 3:30 AM. I’ll head out early and wait for the AA Admirals Lounge to open at 5 AM.

And when all goes according to plan, I’ll be in my Beijing hotel room 24 hours later.

See you on the other side.

Beijing – Packing

I am working from home today. I want to spend more time with the family before I depart for Beijing on Sunday morning.

I am looking forward to this trip, during which I will meet up with 40 ethics professionals from my organization. Our plan is simple: elevate our game.

What does this mean? It means that we will look for ways to provide even more value to the organization and its employees. It means we will agree to try new things that may or may not work. We will identify obstacles and remove them from our path. And clarify our sense of purpose.

Over the next week, I will document my trip on this blog and share any insight I gain.

Love the process

Provide value.

Give more than you receive.

Don’t expect anything in return.

Do this day in, day out, without fail.

No one knows for sure what the outcome will be.

But when you get there, you will have no regrets.

Caring and leadership

A recent post by Thomas Fox reminded me of this quote by Colin Powell:

Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.

This quote used to be taped on my computer monitor. It helped me stay centered when I otherwise felt overwhelmed by the all the calls and emails from the colleagues that I support.

I have since gone on the offensive. Today, I make it an almost-daily practice to call one or two of my 500 ethics & compliance officers to see how they are doing and if there is anything I can do to help.

Not that I’m looking for more work. I simply want them to know that I care.