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

Sunday, February 27, 2022


Leaders who want to control everything are like a ship trying to move through water while dragging the anchor.

That micromanaging behavior has the following impact on those charged with producing the outcomes:

  • Frustration - constant over-the-shoulder critique and nitpicking generates frustration and passive resistance. Not good.
  • Distraction - when constantly being pulled from "the work" for less consequential products, attention to pursuit of the big picture outcomes becomes diverted. Not good.
  • Oversimplification - when badgered relentlessly over details and minutiae, effort is directed toward trending tangential data upward at the expense of the big picture. Not good.
  • Contraction - relentless micromanaging almost always results in systemic self-protection and minimization of effort and innovation. Not good.

Lessening the grip while tightening the vision message is a very nice recipe for more productive troops and better organizational performance.

Leaders who clearly paint and persistently reinforce a noble and worthy vision - the big picture outcome desired - and allow great latitude in the processes of achieving it have the most productive, most energized, and most loyal teams.

Go ahead. Let go!

Thursday, February 24, 2022


 I recently read The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World by Charles C. Mann (2018).

In this book, CM weaves a story of competing philosophies for the survivability of humans on this planet. On the one had are the disciples of William Vogt (often labeled as tree huggers or progressives) and on the other are the followers of Norman Borlaug (those who believe the future of humanity depends on the technological advancements for sufficient food, water, and power).  

My top takeaways:

·       The William Vogt (the Prophet) philosophy for human sustainability: Cut back! Cut back! Otherwise everyone will lose!  

·       The Norman Borlaug (the Wizard) philosophy for human sustainability: Innovate! Innovate! Only in that way can everyone win!

·      Facts do not always drive values, and values do not always drive desired results. 

·      Telling others what we see is more impactful than trying to tell them what to do.

·      We humans should very careful not to: 1. use too much fresh water; 2. put too much nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer into the land; 3. overly deplete the protective ozone in the stratosphere; 4. change the acidity of the oceans too much; 5. use too much land for agriculture; 6. wipe out species too fast; 7. dump too many chemicals into ecosystems; 8. send too much soot into the air; and 9. put too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (p. 92)

·      In 1950, one in three humans lived in an urban setting. By 2050 it is estimated the two of every three humans will live in cities. 

·      This debate really devolves into one of liberty vs community. 


My favorite quotes:

“Civilizations fall because societies forget this simple rule. We depend on plants, plants depend on soil, soil depends on us. The Law of Return embodies an insight: everything affects everything else.” (p. 178)


“It is a philosophical truism that exclusively caring about oneself is not a route to a happy or satisfying life. Another philosophical truism is that a lofty concern for all of existence is the province of saints, and sainthood is not required for ordinary people to live decently and well. In the middle, where most people spend their days, it is hard to distinguish morally between positions.” (p. 319)


“In climate change, all choices involve leaps into the unknown.” (p. 362)


As in his other works I have read, Mann is a master researcher and a superb writer. He digs deeply into complex histories and mounds of data, ties them into a coherent story, and then articulates it to us in a way that is remarkably understandable. 


Mann ALWAYS makes me smarter, and he also make me think. A lot!

Sunday, February 20, 2022


The old saw goes like this: Curiosity killed the cat.

Cats supposedly have nine lives; presumably, it must in be life 10 that the curiosity gets the better of them.

The best leaders I know, however, LIVE on curiosity. They understand that a mind that isn't curious, that doesn't inquire, is one that produces little and inspires even less.

Curious leaders ask themselves and others a series of questions, on continuous loop.

What are we doing?

Why are we doing it?

How well are we doing it?

How can we continually improve on our needed doings?

What should we consider adding to our doing (and what should be eliminated)?

Since most of us humans only have one life, a little curiosity goes a long way toward making it more meaningful.

Thursday, February 17, 2022


Experience is invaluable...until it becomes a barrier.

I have heard it said that experience is ONLY valuable if we learn from it. True enough.

There are some worthy reasons to touch the brakes when tempted to defer completely to experience as our only guide:

  • Experience can serve to blind us to other possibilities.
  • Experience tends to be the loudest voice in the room, drowning others out.
  • Experience infers wisdom. They are not the same.
  • Experience often assumes static conditions. Never has that been the case; even less so in a connected and dynamic informational world.

Experience. We are wise to value it. We are insane if we discount it. We had better learn from it. It should always be afforded respectful consideration.

The path we are on today is new and unique. Experience is but one of the tools at our disposal as we figure out how to navigate this novel path. 

Be wary of affording experience exclusive billing among the many variables that impact our decisions.

Monday, February 7, 2022


For about half of my professional career I held positions that required me to recruit and hire personnel. Nothing impacts the performance of an organization more than having good people -- "the right" people -- on the team. (The "wrong" ones also have significant negative impact, if we choose to keep them on board.)

As I would engage in the hiring processes, Moe (my lovely bride of 45 years) consistently reminded me to always look for "pleasant." She often noted that "pleasant is WAY underrated." 

Several common ingredients come to mind as I reflect on exemplars of pleasantness with whom I have served over the years:

  • They always seemed more grateful than the average bear, and were quite generous in sharing and expressing that appreciation to others.
  • They rarely got involved in the political chicanery that goes on in organizations.
  • Smiles and laughter were abundant from these folks.
  • They avoided participating in gossip and rumor mongering. 
  • They carried their portion of the load, consistently and without complaint.
  • They were amazingly NON-judgmental.

I loved working with those kinds of folks. Still do.

PLEASANT really is way underrated.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022


At a recent event my friend Dr. Lindsey Gunn challenged my thinking regarding the difference between Strength and Power. 

One view of Strength is to think of it as the ability to move or withstand a significant force. It exists in physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual states. Strength is there, but latent.

Power can be thought of as the capability to assert/apply that strength. Power is the overt or covert expression of that strength, which results in influencing behavior or events. Power also exists in the threat of its use. It can also be manifested in physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.

Dr. Gunn asserts that from an organizational perspective Strength is enhanced by diversity, and Power exists in unity.

I think I agree.