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

Sunday, May 28, 2023


Leadership is tricky business. 

Sometimes we find ourselves believing things that just ain't so.

Like what? Like the following lies we sometimes tell ourselves:

  • "If I ignore the problem, maybe it will go away."
  • "I'm sure I can change Bill (or Betty or Bertie)."
  • "If I just work harder, that'll fix it."
  • "It's best not to be known by, or to know well, others on the team."
  • "Keeping things just like they are is the safest course."
  • "If I show too much appreciation, folks will slip into neutral."
  • "Maybe another rule/policy is needed."
Truth telling is a powerful ingredient. Not telling ourselves lies is equally so.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


As a kid I loved playing catch. My partner of the moment -- dad or brother or friend -- and I would grab a ball of some kind and throw it back and forth to each other. Playing catch provided an easy but engaging hang with the other person. (It could even include more than two participants.)

Engaging with curious-minded others has the same effect on me. It's like playing intellectual "catch."

Here are some of the benefits of playing Curiosity Catch:

  • Thinking skills sharpen.
  • It is beneficial to all participants.
  • Interesting stuff and ideas always surface.
  • It provides a safe and easy place to "wonder."
  • Collective intelligence accelerates individual intelligence.
  • It pushes thinking to the outer edges of what is already known/believed.
LEARNING is the outcome. Every participant wins. No one loses.

Wanna play catch?

Sunday, May 21, 2023


How energizing to work with a leader that liberates.

Rather than prescribe, direct, demand, define, ..... there are some leaders who take the path of liberating folks to do their very best work.

What are some of the things Liberating Leaders do?

  • Articulate clearly, and dialogue pervasively around, the Vision of the organization.
  • Focus relentlessly on Outcomes that move the organization toward that Vision.
  • Learn team members strengths and place them in roles that leverage the same.
  • Deal with the low-performers directly and individually, without putting constraints on everyone for the sins of a few.
  • Notice and acknowledge frequently those who are serving well the greater good.
  • Learn voraciously, and bring every other person in the organization into the learning journey.
  • Listen deeply, to a lot of folks; and talk sparingly.
  • Model daily the work ethic, commitment, effort that is expected of all.
Liberating Leaders are simply wonderful to work for/with. 

Ask me how I know...........

Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Sometimes we get stuck. The rut seems to grab hold and won't let go. 

Getting stuck happens to everyone. Getting unstuck is not rocket science.

Try this recipe:

  • Get off the accelerator. Spinning the tires even faster won't get us out of the rut.
  • Reflect carefully. Figure out what got us stuck in the first place.
  • Seek the perspective of wise observers from outside the organization.
  • Discern carefully whether we got busier at doing than we were at being.
  • Decouple from habits that got us here.
  • Add in a couple of habits that move us toward what we wanna BE.
Constant monitoring, constant reflection, constant correction. 

Sounds like work, but well worth it to get UNstuck.

Monday, May 15, 2023


I love being in spaces with smart people. 

Smart people come in all shapes and sizes. Two quick "tells" on whether they're the kind you'd like to learn something from are: 1) Bright and interested eyes, and 2) Willingness to engage.

Where do I find those "smart" people? In the checkout line of the grocery store, sitting next to me at a ballgame, serving me at a restaurant, in the foyer of the hotel, in a breakout session at a conference, etc. Pretty much anywhere. If I'm not looking for them, it's my loss.

How do I open the door to engagement? I usually ask a simple question or make an invitational comment. They'll let you know quickly whether or not they're willing to engage.

Where do I look? Everywhere.

Why do I look for smart people? To LEARN. They know something that I need to know.

By the way, the education I get from those folks is pretty much cost free. The only thing it costs me is just a smidgen of my time. And, it's well worth the education.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023


Football can serve as a nice metaphor for organizational endeavor.

The VISION of the football team is to win games and championships.

The MISSION of the offense is to make first downs and score points.

The ACTION PLAN of the offense is to effectively executive plays in a coordinated way.

In football, there are many offensive schemes that can be used (all good), each with its own nuances:

  • Wishbone Offense
  • Split-back Veer Offense
  • Winged T Offense
  • Run-and-Shoot Offense
  • Slot-I Offense
  • and many more
Imagine the result if a team breaks huddle, sprints to the line of scrimmage, and each of the 11 players then attempts to execute a completely different play, from a different offensive scheme.

We see that very thing happen with remarkable frequency in organizations. It's as if the VISION, the MISSION, and/or the ACTION PLAN somehow get lost in the day-to-day work.

When that happens, we should not expect to make first downs.....or score points.....or win.

Sunday, May 7, 2023


I recently read God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning by Meghan O’Gieblyn (2021).

My top takeaways:

·       Science presumes a third person perspective, yet consciousness is a first-person experience. 

·       We have yet to understand the phenomenological experience—the entirely subjective world (color, sensations, thoughts, ideas, beliefs)

·       The “hard problem,” as described by Chalmers, Chopra, and others, is understanding consciousness.

·       Kurzwell predicts that Singularity – the merging humans with technologies – will happen by the year 2045.

·       Nature can be thought of metaphorically as a huge river, constantly flowing, changing, evolving.

·       Are “atheists” and “believers” simply choosing different metaphors for understanding the transcendent?

·       Self-organizing emergent systems occur at ALL levels of life – from tiniest organisms to humans –  and perhaps beyond.

·       Emergence is the ontological opposite of reductive materialism.

·       Our mind is not simply a physical object to be examined, but rather, a structural pattern that emerges from the complexity of an entire internal-external network.

·       Claude Shannon, the father of information theory, defined information as “the resolution of uncertainty.”

·       A current theory of consciousness is called Integrated Information Theory (IIT).

·       Panpsychism envisions all of nature—plants, animals, humans, angels, and God himself—existing within a continuum of consciousness. It’s sort of an all-centric vs human-centric (anthropomorphic) view of the universe.

·       Metonymy is the belief that the mind serves as a microcosm of the world’s macroscopic consciousness.

·       There is an irrefutable connection between “influencer” and “influenza.”

My favorite quotes:

“All perception is metaphor—as Wittgenstein put it, we never merely see, we always ‘see as.’” (p. 11)

“In the lecture rooms and the laboratory, the only value that should hold is intellectual integrity.” (p. 47)

“Bohr believed that whenever we encountered a paradox, it was a sign that we were hitting on something true and real.” (p. 130)

“In the year 2001 alone, the amount of information generated doubled that of all information produced in human history. In 2002 it doubled again, and this trend has continued every year since.” (p. 194)

Many researchers in the AI field suggests that the WHY really no longer matters. They argue that if the data show us the WHAT and the HOW, then we know all we need to know. I still have a burning question: Can justice, and morality, and quality of life be reduced to an algorithm? 

I picked this book per my current interest in AI. Learning is sense-making. If you’re interested in trying to make a little better sense of things, this book will aid your journey.