About Me

My photo
Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Friday, December 29, 2017


Ideally, our approach to dealing with difficult, sticky, and complex problems should look something like this:

Step 1:  Observe - pay careful attention, collect data
Step 2:  Inquire - ask probing questions that spur thinking/discourse
Step 3:  Interpret - leveraging Steps 1 & 2, form diagnosis 
Step 4:  Solve/Resolve - create a plan to address the problem

Here's a (typical) recipe for train wreck:

Step 3:  Interpret - diagnose without sufficient evidence/thought
Step 4:  Solve/Resolve - tackle the wrong/nonexistent problem
Step 1:  Observe - the mess we've made
Step 2:  Inquire - ask WTH went wrong?

Getting the steps outta can really get us outta step (or, worse, going backward).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Policy does not dictate behavior.  Culture does.  Quite a few who hold leadership positions in organizations conclude that policy (or rules or regulations or tightly defined protocols) somehow trumps culture.  Nope.

What are the effects of pervasive policy plop?

  • De-energized team members (usually, many of the best ones)
  • Letter-of-the-law compliance as opposed to spirit-of-the-law manifestations
  • General resentment by team members that compliance rules were written for ALL to address the sins of a few
  • Team exasperation at the deficit model message - "you'll only get/do it right if we demand that you get/do it right"
  • Ubiquitous hunker-n-hide syndrome --- it's just easier to take the minimalist route, to stay off the radar, to not push boundaries, to not press for improvement

Not a lot of upside to policy plop.

If the time we spend on developing, writing, communicating, monitoring, and enforcing policy could somehow be spent on improving organizational culture, what a Merry Christmas we'd ALL have (throughout the whole year!).

Stop the PLOP!  (Or, at the very least, reduce it a little.)

Sunday, December 24, 2017


All life forms require fuel.  Same goes for human-made machines.  

Machines only run on specific kinds of fuel:  gasoline, firewood, natural gas, coal, electricity, sunlight, wind, etc.  Machines quit functioning when their fuel supply is depleted.  When the electricity stops, the ceiling fan quits turning.  When the natural gas quits flowing, the furnace stops heating.  When the gas tank is empty, the car engine quits running.  

For the most part, machines run only on the fuel they were designed for.  We can try if we want, but lawn mowers don't run if we put coal in the gas tank.  We can try if we want (and some have), but a gasoline engine won't run (for long) if we put diesel in it.  We can try if we want, but the coal-fired ship engine won't operate if we try to fuel it with sunlight. 

We humans are fundamentally three dimensional beings:  physical, intellectual, and spiritual/emotional.  Each of those dimensions runs optimally on certain kinds of fuel.

Some fairly important questions follow:  

  1. What kind of fuel does our physical body need for optimal performance? 
  2.  What kind of fuel does our mind need for optimal performance? 
  3.  What kind of fuel does our spiritual being need for optimal performance? 
Oh, one more question:  What kinds of fuel have we been supplying for each?

Sunday, December 17, 2017


I recently read Origin by Dan Brown (2017).

DB is one of my favorite writers of fiction and this book is as good as any of his works.  The reasons I love reading DB:

  • He's a magnificent story teller.
  • His writing is superb.
  • He educates me along the way.
  • He always challenges my assumptions.
Sounds like a recipe for cognitive engagement, huh?

In Origin, DB delves into the interesting topic of human existence.
"Where do we come from?"  "Where are we going?"

Read it only if you want to experience a magnificent story, written superbly, that will educate you and challenge your assumptions (and then some).  

By the way, this is nc writing this review, not artificial intelligence.  ;-)

Monday, December 11, 2017


Disruptive forces generate a lot of unsettling turbulence in our lives - whether on the personal level or at the organizational level.

Shifts in the status quo are almost always unsettling.  The most disruption occurs when we have little control over those catalytic forces.

Some examples of that kind of disruption:

  • Loss of a loved one or critical team player.
  • A new and robust competitor arrives on the scene.
  • A storm (in the environment or in the marketplace) shakes our very foundation.
  • Significant changes in policy or law emerge.
  • Revenue drops precipitously.
  • Family/Organization relationships become strained.
Turbulence happens.  Disruption happens.  Shift happens.   

What we learn from it, and how we respond to it, is what matters most.

The healthiest RE-sponse is to...     RE-flect     RE-assess     RE-align     RE-learn

We can dissolve into dismay and drivel, or  ...  we can turn it into 
GROWTH (which is its own form of disruption).

Saturday, December 9, 2017


At our ranch in west Texas, we rarely have issues with mud.  Very rarely.  Like once a year.  Maybe.

However, I know from the experience of others (and a few of my own) that mud can bog one down, inhibit the work flow.  Or worse, completely bring progress to a halt (as you dig, pull, winch, and jack yourself out of the muck).

Same thing happens in organizations.  What are some common bogger downers?

  • Egotists - who seem more focused on their progress than that of the team.
  • Deniers - who seem never to grasp, or take seriously, troubling data trends.
  • Yakkers - who spend most of their time talking and little of it doing.
  • Blamers - who are adept at identifying problems and quickly assigning responsibility, to others.
  • Puds - who don't want the waters stirred, the boat rocked, or their comfort disrupted.
  • Plodders - who resist working too hard, doing too much, thinking too deeply.
Every organization has 'em.  That's not news. 

That list fundamentally betrays the way individual and organizational energy is being used.

Some organizations manage to re-direct energy toward a few, common, worthy, meaningful goals.  They're the ones least likely to get bogged down. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017


I attended a memorial service yesterday for a dear friend and mentor, Jerry Gibbs.  Mr. Gibbs was the first principal I worked for as a young teacher-coach.  

God must have known I would need such a powerful and positive force to get me moving in the right direction as a fledgling educator.

Some of the most impactful learning I garnered from Mr. Gibbs:

  • Students first, always.
  • Have high expectations for yourself, for those who work with/for you, and for the students you serve.
  • Be fair, be honest, be forthright, be forgiving.
  • Do the right thing, and don't get wobbly when circumstances would make it easier not to.

In relation to that last bullet, one of the speakers at the funeral referenced a sign he has in his business, for all employees and customers to see.  It reads as follows:

Do what needs to be done.
Do it when it needs to be done.
Do it as well as it can be done.
Do it as often as it needs to be done.

Those words aptly fit the way Mr. G lived.

RIP, Mr. G.  And, thanks.  (I owe you debt I can never fully repay.)