Not Too Resolute with My Resolutions

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Palmer Pearson
Cadence Design Systems

I never make New Years resolutions. I am sure the list of things I will not get done in 2005 will be far greater than any overly positive plans I may have professed after the ball dropped in Times Square.

I know I will not exercise more. Last year I had every intention to live a low-carb life. Prime rib heaven, I thought! What could be greater? But human nature makes you crave what you cannot have. A small plate of angel hair pasta called my name. And so it went…

Upon reflection, that is not the way I want to face my challenges. We should all be open with our plans and learn from our failures. Those were the words I heard from my son when he read the above paragraph. He was echoing advice I had given him in the past.

So, for 2005 I will make public my career related plans, my promises, my intentions, and quite possibly, my failures.

1. Ensure the fervor I have in January equals the fervor I have in December.

My main goal is to keep the spirit of innovation alive within my staff. Talking about innovation is easy; implementing innovative ideas is the hard part. Not everyone sees the benefit of a particular innovation, or how it impacts them. The trick is to get those people involved with their own innovative projects. I cannot remember my boss ever saying, “Whoa! We have too many innovative ideas. Better have the team slow down.”

2. Make titles mean something.

This has always been a source of irritation for me: an agreeably talented person gets a promotion based primarily on length of service. Following the longevity logic, if I stick around here long enough I could be CEO. (Thank goodness there are enough smart people around here who would never actually let that happen.)

A “senior” prefix before a title should relate to ability, not AARP membership status. The writer who is a leader, has excellent people skills, exceptional technical ability, a curiosity to expand and challenge, and has past successes with significant projects is working at a higher level than the occupant of an office with a 20-year plaque as his/her major achievement.

With that said, it should be noted that it may be considered bad form to bestow the “senior” title on anyone who cannot sign legal documents without their parents’ permission, or is not old enough to rent a car on their own, no matter how talented they may be.

3. Mentor someone outside my staff.

I have done this in the past and it is always a more rewarding experience for the mentor than the mentee. Guiding those in search of assistance, suggesting paths for them to take, and having them look at issues from different points of view all help. Also, having no direct reporting relationship puts the person at ease, as they are not being judged for a raise, but for growth.

4. Write an article for the February and March issues of this newsletter.

Oh yeah, I have already committed to this.

5. Bring to upper management a better understanding of what we do and why it is vital to company success.

This problem seems to be everywhere and never gets resolved. I have ideas on how we can put this perception to rest. There will be more on this in the article next month.

6. Lose 50 pounds.

(Remember, I said this could be a list of my failures as well as my intentions.)

7. Deal with XML, content management, single sourcing, minimalism, and off-shoring issues.

A perennial resolution.

8. Continue to have fun.

I have been very fortunate to work for a company where fun is understood as being part of the work experience. This is not an argument for blindly and constantly having a good time. We are employed as professionals to produce the best documentation possible (as judged by our customers and ourselves). That is our primary goal. If you already have talented people, you know the end result will meet, or exceed your expectations. But, if you can create an atmosphere where having fun becomes infectious, you will keep those talented people—and even get a chance to enjoy them.

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