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Wednesday, July 26, 2017


There was a time when three-, five-, or even 10- year strategic plans were acceptable, perhaps even prudent.  No more.

Adaptiveness has always been a powerful attribute.  Evolutionary cycles in nature are case in point.  While the process of growing opposable thumbs or wings took thousands and thousands of years, even nature is proving to move with remarkable nimbleness these days:  observe the speed with which weeds "learn" to beat herbicides or bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

With the advent of pervasive interconnectedness, massively accessible data, powerful computational capabilities, and the ability to immediately access the sum of all human knowledge, organizational adaptability is not simply a nice strategic embellishment, it is an absolute requirement.  Think not?  Ask Polaroid or Blockbuster or makers of paging devices or K-Mart or the music industry or cable TV or...

The world has always been changing.  Now it changes at warp speed.  The consequent "death" of the non-adaptive (either in the literal or figurative versions) also occurs far faster as result.

Only the adaptable survive.  Nimbleness pays great dividends.  

The catalyst for adaptability?  LEARNING!  

Monday, July 24, 2017


We used to think of literacy only in terms of text-based communications - the ability to read and write proficiently.

In the world of multimedia, we now communicate in myriad ways that go well beyond text-based transmissions:

  • Snapchat - predominantly photos, supported with some text
  • Texting - predominantly text, supported with emojis and gifs
  • Twitter - predominantly text, but limited in number of characters
  • Facebook - ubiquitous in its ability to merge text + graphics + photos + video
  • Blogs - predominantly text, supported with photos (sometimes with video)
  • Vlogs - predominantly video, supported with some text
  • Websites - every communications modality except touch and smell mushed together (though the technology will likely add the latter two, somehow, in the near future)
This (non-exhaustive) list is expanding daily. 

I propose that the term "literacy" must now be expanded to a triad of communications capabilities: 
  1. Inform (or to be informed)
  2. Influence (or be influenced)
  3. Interpret (or be interpreted)
Those three deployments lie under the overarching concept of DISCERNMENT, the ability to judge with reasonable accuracy the quality and usefulness of the content being received or sent.

There are great implications here for those of us who are parents or educators or influencers or employers.  

Somebody has to teach our children these skills.  Intentionally would be better...

Friday, July 21, 2017


Feeling blocked?
Experiencing pushback?
Struggling to show gains?
Seem perpetually stumped?
Spending a lot of time re-doing?
Being inundated with the negative?
Get the sense that you're in uncharted waters?
The learning curve seem just too d&#%*d steep?

You're probably attempting something worthwhile.

Pause.  Rest a bit.  Reflect.  Then, get back to it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Ever seen a leader (or leaders) hide behind the complexity cloud?  They pontificate endlessly in multi-syllable words about the difficulty of dealing with complex problems.  At the end of such soliloquies, they shrug their shoulders and shuffle off, as if they've either A) told us something we don't know, or B) made some headway in addressing the problem.

Off course BIG problems are complex, and challenging, and solution resistant.  They're sticky, tricky, and messy.  That's one of the main reasons we need strong leaders in the first place.

The best and wisest leaders I know don't hide behind the complexity cloud.  They roll up their sleeves, they enlist a strong team of diverse thinkers, they lead the difficult conversations necessary to cultivate consensus, they move us toward sensible and deployable solutions, they pull rather than push.

Those same strong leaders DON'T use the cloud of complexity as an excuse to do nothing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Resources get spent.  Time, money, manpower, effort, energy are resources we all possess, in some measure.  When we squander them, they're forever lost, gone, irretrievable.  

One of my mentors insists that we can tell what's important to someone by watching two things:  

  1. How they spend their time.
  2. How they spend their money. 
I think a third observable expenditure is equally telling:  
      3. How they spend their effort.

That revealing list of standards exposes our life priorities.

Two critical questions follow:

  • Have we carefully assessed what is truly important enough to spend our finite resources on?
  • Have we made the conscious (and difficult) resource allocation decisions toward that we have deemed important?
If we've not spent well, it's time for reassessment and/or changes in resource allocation.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


We'll work for people we don't trust - grudgingly.

We'll comply with demands from those we don't trust - nauseatingly.

We'll salute and obey orders from those we don't trust - resentfully.

We'll conform to standards established by those we don't trust - discontentedly.

We'll acquiesce to the wishes of those we don't trust - bitterly.

TRUST is always the precursor to authentic followership.  (Wise leaders get that.)

Friday, July 7, 2017


I recently read The Hidden Life of Trees:  What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben (2016).  

Wow!  This book provides a view of trees from the perspective of PW, a German forester, grounded solidly in the most current research.  

My biggest takeaways:
  • Trees are connected to one another below the surface of the ground via a mycelial network, through which they communicate (like having their own internet) and share water/nutrition.
  • "Mother" trees tend to their offspring and other young trees in the neighborhood.  Sound familiar?
  • Trees have an immune system that fires up when attacked by disease or critters.  Sound familiar?
  • Hybridized trees (by human intervention) are often more vulnerable to disease and predation, requiring substantial bolstering by artificial means.  Sound familiar?
  • The richest forests are the ones that have the most diversity.  Sound familiar?
  • Even in death, trees continue to provide powerful sustenance to their offspring.  Sound familiar?
  • Loner, disconnected trees are much more vulnerable to disease and predation than those nestled in a strong and vibrant community of trees.  Sound familiar?
  • For every 1 square yard of forest floor, there is 27 square yards of surface area in the leaves directly above it.  Talk about shade protection and water collection systems!
My favorite quote:
“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”  (In the Introduction)

Absolutely eye opening.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Spending time, effort, money, and energy fixing the same problems again and again is...well...crazy.  When we face recurrent problems it's time to take a closer look - at the triggers of the problem, at the practices that sustain the problem, at the systems we created (either personally or organizationally) that should've interdicted the problem.

Some examples of problem recurrence?
  • The cattle keep getting out.
  • Inventory repeatedly misaligns with supply needs.
  • The students keep failing the same subject.
  • We can't keep our weight under control.
  • Meetings seem perpetually unproductive.
Dealing with the ad hoc catastrophic - hurricanes, stock market crashes, sudden outbreaks of war - will always be mostly a reactive process.  We repair that airplane while we're flying it, so to speak.

However, those pesky redundant problems, the recurring heartburn causers, are almost always the result of our failure to address the habits (either as individuals or organizations) that cause, or allow for, their perpetuation.

Habits matter.  

An honest assessment is always the precursor to an effective solution.  

Mirror, please.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


We all know people, often leaders, who are Shutters.  They shut down conversations.  They shut down possibilities.  They shut down people.

How?  By talking over or down to others.  By refusing to consider alternatives other than their own solutions and pathway prescriptions.  By dismissively defining (more often, pre-defining) the value, motives, and prospects of others.  

Opposite of the Shutters are the Openers.  What are some of the strategic and wholesome moves of the Openers?

  • They purposefully listen before, and more than, they talk.
  • They suspend their presuppositions and assumptions, especially when the problems or contexts are complex.
  • They fully consider the contributions of others, no matter their title, their degree(s), their social status.
  • They always consider the possibility that they, themselves, could be wrong - the ultimate mindset for realizing equitable potentialities.
Openers for me, please.