Monday, April 20, 2009

Webcast - "Paul Orfalea: Copy This! Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic Who Turned a Bright Idea into One of America's Best Companies"

I don't think that the title for this webcast is entirely accurate, or maybe it's just that it's misleading. Paul Orfalea is the founder of Kinko's, and he does spend a little time talking about the ideas and mindsets that helped Kinko's succeed, but he also gets a bit off-track here and there. Sometimes the results are fascinating, and sometimes they're a tad discomforting (I wondered if he was going to eventually blow up during his rant about the American education system - I think he even tells himself to calm down at one point).

A bit of what he talks about reminds me of the book Stomp the Elephant in the Office: Put an End to the Toxic Workplace, Get More Done -- and Be Excited About Work Again by Steven W. Vannoy and Craig W. Ross. I don't usually read management books, but at the time that I read this one I didn't exactly have a lot going on. Anyway, at one point, Vannoy and Ross argue that people want to do well at their jobs and accomplish something. It's when the workplace becomes toxic and when workers become unhappy that they start hating what they do, sabotaging their jobs, whatever. You can agree with this or not, but Vannoy and Ross argue it well. Orfalea says the same thing. He also says (and this may have come up in the book as well) that a manager's job is to remove obstacles. He or she is supposed to make things easier for the workers, so that they have the freedom to do the good jobs they want to do, so that they have the freedom to make the business even better. The way he says all this makes it make sense - the problem for most people, I would guess, is living/managing by this philosophy. It's hard to change what you're doing or even recognize what it is you're doing if you've been doing it for a while.

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