Exclude or Excrete

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 11/6/2013 | 25 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
In every organization there are things that aid productivity and things that are toxic. To succeed, you must exclude or excrete.

OK, stick with me, here. One of the constant factors on a tropical coastline is the mangrove tree. Red mangroves and black mangroves each live with their roots in salt or brackish water. They're absolutely essential to the existence of marine swamps, and they share a common trait with most other trees: Salt is toxic to them. So how do they cope?

If you're like most senior IT executives you have made jokes about being up to your [hips] in alligators in an organizational swamp. In fact, though, "draining the swamp" is less about fighting off big toothy reptiles and more about getting rid of the toxic muck that surrounds everyone (including gators) that live in the swamp. Politics and "palace intrigue" are poisonous to everyone in an organization -- how do you cope?

Red mangroves keep salt at bay by excluding it. The red mangrove's bark is impervious to salt, allowing water to slowly seep through the bark's membrane structure while keeping the salt safely out in the swamp. Black mangroves, on the other hand, allow salt water into the tree but have special glands on the leaves that excrete the salt, leaving safe water behind.

One need (for fresh water) and two strategies for trees that live in salt water swamps.

Some executives cope with a toxic environment by shutting out the harmful aspects, surrounding themselves with those who agree with their management practices and refusing to allow any bad information or attitude to enter their management practice. Things may be falling apart around them; nay-sayers and schemers might fill the overall organization; but these hardy individualists will refuse to acknowledge anything that doesn't support and strengthen their point of view. They can be magnificent in their isolation, but a hard exterior can become brittle if not carefully tended and maintained.

Not all executives feel the need to exclude disagreeable or toxic themes. It's possible to listen to the challenging and even toxic ideas of others, examine them for value, then excrete the bad and hold on to the ideas and practices that can be of value. They're left with something of value, but they don't have to maintain that tough bark.

The excretion tactic can leave you with far more that's of value, but there's a cost: You must be willing to develop a process or practice that can safely examine, identify, and dispose of the toxic load that may accompany anything of value that comes from the office environment. It's hard work that can easily become overwhelmed if there's too much toxin in the environment.

When things get tough (or the level of toxicity gets too high) then excluding can be the only way to safely deal with all the daily muck and garbage in the environment. In that case, you must pay attention to the excluding layers -- you simply have to make sure you're also taking care of the processes, programs, and culture that keep the bad out while allowing nothing but good into the departments you control.

Which are you: and excluder or an excreter? Which of the mangroves speaks to you? I'm looking forward to your answer and to talking with the community about the best direction for future management. Let us know -- the swamp is going to be here for a while.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
tekedge   Exclude or Excrete   11/30/2013 11:09:16 PM
Exclude or Excrete
@Curtis Well said! I think the both the techniques used together effectively will work for the organisation! But again learning both these processes to work hand in hand will need a lot of thought  and straining of information. Sometimes I wonder do we have the time to do all this conciously!
kstaron   Exclude or Excrete   11/22/2013 5:07:36 PM
a little bit of both
I imagine the best way to deal with this is to do a little excluding and a little excreting. Being on the employee side of things I have worked at companies where entire teams seems to be toxic due to sub par management, inter office politicking, and toxic coworker behaviors. yet somehow, the team I was on had none of that. I'm not sure if my manager was more likely to exclude or excrete, but whatever it was she did it well and we were happy productive employees for her that enjoyed our jobs and serving our clients.
SunitaT   Exclude or Excrete   11/21/2013 12:51:08 AM
Re : Exclude or Excrete
The most important question that should be asked here is: when a department is facing tough internal politics, how to manage it? Politics will always be there and the way to resolving them is to keeping those who are having an attitude that will help the company. It is not always easy to pay attention to your surroundings. And moreover, firing an employee can come as a setback, both operational and economical.
Susan Nunziata   Exclude or Excrete   11/12/2013 2:05:14 PM
Re: Not everyone's a "people" person
@Cyrus: yep, you're spot on. And there are so many individual factors that will motive people to change -- it really is deeply personal. I  believe some people are highly sefl-motivated to grow and change and get past their comfort zones, while others need to be pushed, and still others will dig in their heels no matter what.

For those in the latter two categories, changing the expectations and accountability of a person's core job could go a long way toward encouraging them to change.
Henrisha   Exclude or Excrete   11/10/2013 7:45:48 AM
Re: Can you be both?
You're right. I think in situations like this, it's more of a balancing act for executives. You really have to make sure people are working at their full potential while exerting pressure, yet holding back at the right moments. It's a tough balance to find. Most never really even manage to.
Sara Peters   Exclude or Excrete   11/8/2013 2:28:56 PM
Re: Not everyone's a "people" person
@Cyrus  Oh I don't disagree. You're definitely right, that being socially awkward is more acceptable in some positions than in others -- and historically that was true of IT. My point is simply that it seems that the IT industry is now requiring more people skills than it once did. As IT begins to view itself as an internal service provider, the personality needs to change.,
Cyrus   Exclude or Excrete   11/8/2013 1:03:48 PM
Re: Not everyone's a "people" person
@Sara I realize my statement was a blanket one and that it's based purely on my experience, albeit with some very large organizations that you might think would operate differently.

While there certainly is accountability to people that serve at executive levels, often those individuals are aware of folks that are, shall we say "difficult," but from which that behavior is tolerated based on their skills.

Just to cliarify, I'm not in any way saying IT people are the only ones that exhibit these traits. I've run across them extensively in attorneys and other professionals. As I mentioned earlier, it's often seen in people who are very bright, have very specific skills, but don't really like dealing with people that much. They'd rather just do their job as they view it, and be left alone.
Sara Peters   Exclude or Excrete   11/8/2013 12:15:58 PM
Re: Can you be both?
@xcecrf456  Hmmm. Do you really think this is true? "but executives try to be in a peaceful environment s as well as will put an effort to eliminate or to reduce the politics situations." Certainly some executives want a peaceful and productive environment, but I don't think that it's an identifying characteristic. 

There was one executive I worked for who admitted that she thrived on conflict -- so much so, that she often stirred up conflict and controversy just because she enjoyed the excitement. It made for a very unpleasant environment and also had an ENORMOUS impact on productivity. 
Sara Peters   Exclude or Excrete   11/8/2013 12:11:27 PM
Re: Not everyone's a "people" person
@Cyrus Now this is very intriguing: "Even with all this capability, the big determiner is whether a person is willing to change. And my experience has been with IT, often they're not because they're not because historically that's not a function that has seen itself as accountable outside its function for the service it provides." I imagine you're right, but this is changing, certainly, isn't it?

SaneIT   Exclude or Excrete   11/8/2013 8:03:18 AM
Re: Not everyone's a "people" person

@Curtis before moving to Florida it was very common to use the term "drain the swamp" when we were purging old methods and trying to clean up bad habit.  After moving here and getting a real taste of what a swamp is that phrase has different meaning to me.  It's not simply a matter of just dumping all the crud and starting clean, there are certain things that might be scary or dirty but they serve a purpose and purging them might mean messing up the whole ecology.  I find that excluding works better better than excreting many times but that the exclusion is more or less a fencing off of the necessary evils.  If you've got a nuisance gator they don't come and kill it, they move it to a safer spot.  IT needs to take that same tact in the business process.  When you have a nuisance individual or process you do what you can to move it to a place that is safer for everyone but lets the process live on doing what it was intended to do.  It's a tough balance for sure.

Page 1 / 3   >   >>


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Curtis Franklin Jr.
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/30/2014   10 comments
A good community can teach you a lot. And Enterprise Efficiency has been one of the best.
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/26/2014   41 comments
Today is Memorial Day in the US, a day for remembering those who gave, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "the last full measure of devotion" for their country and its citizens. It is a ...
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/22/2014   35 comments
You're about to know precisely where your customers are and what they're doing. Are you ready for Big Data Advertising Everywhere?
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/6/2014   19 comments
PHP is a great tool for building web pages that access databases. It's pretty nifty for pwning an enterprise site, too.
Curtis Franklin Jr.   4/30/2014   36 comments
BASIC turns 50 this year. Many IT pros wrote their first line of code in the venerable language, but is the ability to write code even important at the top of the IT ladder?
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
moderators@enterpriseefficiency.com
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.