Comments on: Getting things done when you’re not in charge pt.4 How to start a clothing line or run the one you have, better. Thu, 28 May 2015 20:09:05 +0000 hourly 1 By: Wednesday Sat, 04 Jun 2011 23:33:49 +0000 I know it appears I missed the point. And maybe I did. The fear of the unknown should not be more frightening than a reality you Know you can’t live with.

By: Wednesday Sat, 04 Jun 2011 21:37:35 +0000 I find your story more than a little chilling. I had a supervisor who routinely stole from me (at first I was fool enough to share every innovation I had at team meetings, (but isn’t that what they’re for?), then she took to observing me) and it grieved me a little bit to see my ideas implemented company-wide, without even being able to put it on my CV. Now I wonder if being more vocal would have drawn negative attention to myself. Is there a happy medium between shining enough to move upward and being too bright?

By: Kathleen Fasanella Thu, 03 Feb 2011 22:20:29 +0000 Re: collaborative group IQ from an article in the Boston Globe:
researchers found that when a group had a high level of collective intelligence, the members tended to score well on a test that measured how good they were at reading other people’s emotions. They also found that groups with overbearing leaders who were reluctant to cede the floor and let the others talk did worse than those in which participation was better distributed and people took turns speaking.


research suggests that group intelligence is highly malleable and that concrete steps — such as mixing newcomers into an established team or not allowing a single leader to dominate — could fundamentally alter the group’s intelligence.

By: sdBev Wed, 02 Feb 2011 22:30:04 +0000 I wish I could have had this advice while I was working. I never realized the anger and resentment directed towards me when all I wanted was to “do a good job.”.

By: Marie-Christine Wed, 02 Feb 2011 16:56:04 +0000 Quite right, if you advocate strongly for change or worse actually get some of it through, your ass will be the first one out the door. It’s good if you can recognize that, and arrange for it to be on your own schedule.

I have to admit I was guilty of malicious compliance once, thanks for the bit of terminology :-). It was all I could do to obey instead of punching the bitch in the nose, which would have been worse for me. It cost them plenty, I enjoyed that, and I was gone in a matter of weeks.

It’s entirely true that you’re much more likely to put up with abuse at home if you’re taking it at work, and conversely. I was fascinated when I hosted a couple sessions on domestic violence at my house for a local group, and found out that almost everyone there had first been harassed at work. I’ve come to believe these creeps do know who to pick on, and that being already vulnerable is one thing they look for most intently. Pick carefully who you discuss your work/personal problems with..

By: Barb Taylorr Tue, 01 Feb 2011 19:13:19 +0000 I have a similar story, and though I was later let go during some serious downsizing (& never did know for sure if the changes I implemented played into that decision or not) I still count the experience as one of the highlights of my career. It feels good to help make positive change, even when you are not personally rewarded for it.
I was a pattern maker for a slipper / footwear company. They were getting into more and more complicated styles (which was part of why I was brought in). The sewing staff was having increasing difficulty assembling these new designs. Entire batches of samples would come in twisted and distorted. The product on the store shelves often looked embarrasingly mis-shapen. It was clear to me that this could be helped by a better system of notches. Many uppers had only a toe and heel notch to allign with the insole. Materials were stretchy, and uppers had shirring & several seams, but nothing on the insole to show what they needed to line up with. There were also no notches to differentiate the right and left upper, so it was not uncommon for the wrong sole to be put on the upper. To make matters worse, they loved to reuse old patterns, but that meant it was also common for there to be notches that never alligned with anything.
I couldn’t change the other pattern makers, but I made sure to notch all my patterns so it would be impossible to sew a left top to a right sole. I added a notch to the insole for each seam on the upper. My sample makers loved it and had very little issues with even the most complicated styles.
However, when it came time to send my patterns into production they removed all my notches, leaving just the toe and heel notch. I fought this for months, and watched my production come in looking like crap. When I asked why, the pat answer was “Notches cost money.” I wanted to see the math on that and continued to ask on every occasion. Finally I found a manager that understood what i was trying to say and he researched why there was a policy to remove notches. After a long goose chase he discovered that it was a hold-over from when the pieces were die cut. Notchs used more metal. In those days all our uppers were interchangable lefts and rights anyway, so there was little need for anything more than toe and heel notches.
Well, fast forward 25 years, and our factories were no longer using any dies. It cost the same to cut a piece with no notches as it did to cut one with several. He also let me time my sample makers and we found that they could sew faster when they had better notches (within reason).
Eventually I was allowed to send patterns to production with more than the toe & heel notch. I had another fight on my hands making sure the notch placement graded correctly, but worked through that one too. It so felt great to see my styles in the stores looking like they were supposed to that season.
I never did notice any other pattern makers follow my lead however. The companywas in the process of moving all their production to China anyway, and eventually they out-sourced their pattern-makers too. The manager who helped my prove notches were profitable got laid off the same day I did.

By: Jody Tue, 01 Feb 2011 16:31:49 +0000 Very insightful. In my day job, I see fundamental disconnects such as those you describe as occurring in your earlier style meetings all the time. It’s always puzzled me b/c it seems like a no-brainer that you would want to get input from the folks who are closer to the work, “in the trenches” so to speak. I think this boils down to different management/leadership styles.

What you described is a very traditional style of management characterized by a top-down approach which emphasizes a clear separation between lowly staff and management elite. I think this style of management has continued to survive, despite its fundamental ineffectiveness, b/c it serves the ego (but that aspect of corporate culture is a whole other topic).

Lately though, I’ve been encouraged by what I see as a large-scale shift in some organizations to a more collaborative form of leadership, in which management seeks the input of staff. In for-profit enterprises, I think this shift is less driven by management changing its philosophies as it is by its recognition that collaborating with staff on can improve the bottom line. In my organization (state government), taxpayers are demanding results and if we can’t provide them, funding will be cut. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.

I’ve always tried to practice “management from the bottum up” – my way of getting around the instituional barriers to effectiveness that I deal with in my organization. But, as Kathleen confirms, I’ve always had to be very careful about taking credit for the changes I foster. Even though it’s irksome, she is absolutely correct that if you are going to practice this subtle style of leadership in your organization, you have to do it for the greater good, not for your ego. There’s plenty of other egos out there that bruise very easily.

By: WendyB Tue, 01 Feb 2011 01:19:02 +0000 “My point being, you do what needs to be done because it’s in the interests of the greater good. If you think anyone is actually going to thank you for dramatically improving their bottom line, think again. They will not realize it was you who did it” — story of my career, girl! Right now I’m experiencing it with a nonprofit that I work with. They’re all arguing with me as I try to save their asses and I know when I’m gone they’ll act like it was always my way….