Brand U Work in the Disruption Economy

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Brand U Project Leadership

Brand U’s have discovered this painful truth about project management. Brand U project leadership don’t come easy. Too many project managers know project techniques and technology but are people challenged.

Lack of people abilities is the major stumbling block and some would say the major career killer of senior project managers because most spend more than half their time dealing with interpersonal issues. You can be the best project technician in the world but if your team doesn’t trust you, you’re toast.


I’m Scared of Problem Sets


Now, I’ve got your attention.

My name is Margaux. I’m 16. I’m studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects and interning at a tech startup –

So, what’s my problem?

Problem sets? Say what?

What are Problem Sets?

Problem sets are problem solving and decision making STEM based exercises, that I have to suffer daily.

Aside from doing the problem set, I’m expected to write a narrative on how to solve the problem and potential decisions that can come out of it.

I work on math, software (JAVA), and physics problem sets every day as part of my homeschooling. Sometimes they are easy. Sometimes they are just right. Sometimes they are brain bursting.

When they are brain busters, things happen. I stab my pencil on my notebook. I scream like crazy (OK internally). I have to walk around until I can get back to the problem set.

I think all STEM kids go through this as we are under pressure to do good in these hard subjects.

The Head Game

My frustrations:

My biggest battles are not with the problem sets but with what’s going on in my head. Specifically the messages I give myself.

I think that I can’t do the problems before I have even worked on them. I don’t want my teacher to look at me with disappointment, disapproval, and frustration. It makes me ashamed.

Even though I understand the subjects, I’m not confident that I can do the problem sets. I freak out and go through a mental list of bad things that can happen because I don’t think I understand the material.

There’s a voice in my head that tells me:

You might have to re-learn this. Don’t get too confident. You might have to do more problems and you’ll be behind on all of your other work.

I get antsy and lose focus.

When I become like this, I forget how to solve the problem or I won’t try at all. I’ll stare at the problem, but I’m not trying to solve it. I’m trying to figure out how I can escape the frustration that comes with solving the hard problem.

Mastering the Game

I’m learning how to beat the mental game. How to clear my head when I get frustrated. How to stop escaping and sit my butt down. How to figure out how to solve the problem.

At these times, I give myself a lot of reassurance. I become my imaginary cheerleader.

Even though I still dislike going through the grit of doing problem sets, I’m getting better at resilience and self-discipline. Those are hard lessons to learn. I’m learning what engineers, programmers, and entrepreneurs do day-in and day-out:

Solving problems and fighting the head game.

Pay For Performance Revisited

“Most people focus on what measurement, not on how value gets created,” said Peter Ramstead, the CFO of Personnel Decisions International.

Pay for extraordinary contribution and performance is now a hot issue.  The result is that fixed pay becomes a relic. Should people in the same job get the same pay when one worker may contribute more ideas and inevitably more value. We’re seeing variable pay plans that measure the right business things such as the ability to add Brand U value. This is especially important in knowledge-intensive businesses. What does this mean? A key business practice of successful Brand U organizations will be “paying top performers far more than average performers.”[i]

[i] Colvin, Geoffrey, “How to Get Your Head Around Measuring Midns,” Fortune Magazine, December 31, 1999, p. 335.

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going …

Vision statements have been extolled and derided. Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests that each Brand U person should have a life vision and a personal mission. The principle basically says: ‘If you know where you’re going at work or in life, you’ll get there.’

When You Come to a Fork in the Road – Take It

A competitive world has two possibilities for you. You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.

Lester Thurow, Management Professor

When change is all around you, this is the time to take ownership of your work and life. This is the goal of Brand U’s. Adapt to the change and do it your way. There are a lot of things you can do especially with our strong economy. Be flexible. Learn to earn. Develop a ‘less is more’ attitude. Downshift. Tune in – drop out. Develop a Brand U attitude. Work at home. Temp.

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