Silicon Valley State of Mind, a blog by John Weathington, "The Science of Success"
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    Welcome to a Silicon Valley State of Mind, thoughts tips and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "Silicon Valley's Top Information Strategist."

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Silicon Valley State of Mind

Tips, thoughts, and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "The Science of Success."

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Posted by on in Leadership

We planted some beautiful Hibiscuses (Hibisci?) earlier this year and with the amazing spring that we are experiencing here in Silicon Valley, the blooms are just enchanting. As a Hawaiian, these flowers have a special meaning for me—they are the state flower of Hawaii (okay, the state flower of Hawaii is actually the Yellow Hibiscus, but these are close enough). Now, when I step outside, I’m often transported to my favorite spot on on Waikiki beach, the house in Pearl City where I lived with my family as a teen, or the beautiful grounds of the Hyatt in Maui where my wife and I were married. This all comes from a simple flower. Symbols have the power to be transcendent in the message they convey to your big data strategy team.

Symbols are objects, acts, or events that convey a special meaning. I was talking with a colleague yesterday who did some consulting for Apple, and she mentioned that contractors and consultants had badges with muted, grey apples; whereas, all the employees had bright, colorful apples. This and other rituals made her feel like an outsider.

Along with rituals, stories, and the infamous grapevine; symbols are a component of your organization’s informal system. Your informal system exists whether you like it or not and has greater power than your formal system (e.g. mission, vision, stated policies) to influence the people in your organization.

As a leader, the most important thing you can communicate to your big data strategy team—both formally and informally—is your support. What symbols do you have in place for this? Here are some questions to help you figure that out:

  • Do you hand out special awards to them?
  • Do you have special ceremonies for them?
  • When they walk around campus is their status on the big data strategy team conspicuous and respected?
  • Does your office layout make you accessible?
  • Do they feel comfortable approaching you for help?

The symbolism in your company is working for you or against you. It’s up to you to figure out which force is in play and make adjustments if necessary.

So, while you do that, I’ll take some time to smell the … Hibiscus.

Aloha!

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