Category Archives: Change

Several days after the end of the world…

I am told that the world ended on December 21st.  Not a minute too soon.

Not that anyone would miss it.  Not after this year!

Oh, yes, it started with great promise.  New Year’s Eve came with celebration, with hopes for a bright and wonderful future and of course, with the mandatory resolutions and promises for change.  By the next morning, New Year’s Day, throbbing heads and broken vows ushered in a year of faded hopes and broken dreams.  Three hundred and sixty-five crappy days to go.

It was a year where hopes were raised, only to be dashed again.

Arab Spring deteriorated into failed states and lost dreams.  We marvelled at the courage of the people in the streets.   We hoped for their liberation and the creation of authentic democracies.  We watched as the dreams faded.  We saw the new political order echo the words of the Who – “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

Not that things were any better on this side of the ocean.  The US election was a giant disappointment.  Was their ever a time when that nation truly needed to reinvent itself, to have a vigorous debate and contest of ideas?   This was truly an opportunity to unite a nation and meet the challenge of a difficult future.  Instead, it fizzled into schoolyard name calling where a divided nation electing the person they feared the least and even that by only a slim margin.  Deadlocked and leaderless, the once most powerful nation in the world marches lemming-like towards a fiscal cliff of their own making.

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Corporate Sanity Officer? Imagine That!

It was 8:30 on a Monday morning when I got in to work.  I was just back from my vacation.  My office was a shambles.  It had been torn apart. There was dust everywhere.  My whiteboard had been taken down and was leaning against a chair, the edge of which had rubbed out part of a work of inspired genius from a Friday “chalk talk” with our lead architect just before I left.   It was the perfect image of destruction.  Thank god I had taken my laptop with me.  My docking station was encased in a plastic cover, but that cover was full of dust.

In the middle of what once was my office was a stranger in a yellow hard hat staring at at the skeleton that was my wall,  with the aluminum studs exposed.   Another was on his knees, monkeying with the bottom of a stud that he appeared to be wiggling back and forth.

What the hell was going on here? Continue reading

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Buddha Gives Convocation Speech at Harvard

Harvard University’s MBA program made front page news today as Siddartha Gautama, also known as “the Buddha” addressed the graduating class of 2013.

“For many of you, ” Buddha said in his opening remarks, “this day represents a moment that you have anticipated and waited for — the success that you have craved for many years.  That, I would humbly submit, is where you have made a grave error. Continue reading

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Passport to Innovation at Technicity.ca

Thanks to Doug Ford, most Torontonians know that we live in a very literate city –a city of the arts. We know that our city is home to literary giants like Margaret Atwood, one of the world’s great novelists. They’ve come to see that this isn’t merely of interest to some snobbish artistic elite. They have come to see that at the base of this boiling pot of creativity is economic engine brings that hundreds of millions of dollars into our city every year and creates thousands of jobs.

What many haven’t yet realized is that within this same city is another equally creative centre — one that attracts some of the greatest minds in technology — the third largest technology centre in North America.

Most don’t realize that when they are riding the subway or walking down Yonge street,  they could be standing beside some of the giants of the tech industry.   To take only one example, how many average Torontonians know  their city  is home to Mark Surman.  Who is Mark Surman?  For those who don’t know him,  Mark is the Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, which, among many, many things brings us Firefox.  You might not know Mark, but you would have to have been vacationing off the planet to not know what Firefox is.  But did you know how it’s linked to our city?  Probably not.

In fact, most Torontonians really do not know how much prosperity the tech sector brings to the city.  How much prosperity? Continue reading

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Dream Team – Or Your Worst Nightmare? In praise of the “B” Team

Everyone wants that perfect team. We are taught from the time we start in business that the secret to project and corporate success is getting the “very best” people in the right positions.  The “dream team”.  Get that right and you are 90% of the way to giving the competition a real butt-kicking.

That’s what we imagine. Excitement builds. We’ll get the best people, from the best schools, people who are “up and comers”! Get me the “A” performers! No “dead wood” on this team!

What a load of crap. Continue reading

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Strangers in our midst

“There are strangers among us.”  The lady was referring to the consultants that her company’s executives had hired.

The phrase hit me like a brick.

I’ve been a consultant for over 15 years – half of my career.  It’s funny, you don’t get into this game unless you have some desire for feedback. Given how competitive consulting is, you also have to be a bit of an over-achiever.

I confess.  Yes.  I was that kid in school who had all the answers — the one the teacher eventually stopped asking, or looked vainly to each side of hoping for someone else to raise their hand, eventually returning defeated to reluctantly accept the offering of the impatient know-it-all in the front row.  For anyone who worries about my social status, you can rest easy — I got over that part. In university I became the guy sitting at the backs.  Still an over-achiever, but now a rebellious one — I learned to be cool and disdainful.   But I still knew the answer.  At least that’s my perception. Continue reading

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TEDx Toronto 2010 – A Pilgrim On A Shopping Spree

What a wonderful day.  From the start, I was greeted with smiles and happy faces.  It was like a Stuart MacLean Vinyl Cafe concert to anyone whose been to one.  Or like one of the 60’s folk festivals.  Nice people.  People that you like to hang out with.

Music.  Poetry.  And the speakers!  Wow.

To take a line from the great band “Broadway Sleep” who played four great tunes in the morning — we were “pilgrims on a shopping spree”.

Here’s my glimpses of TEDx Toronto and a link so that you can see some of the pre-recorded talks.  Read on… Continue reading

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Digital Deniers

Do it if you want to — just don’t be proud of it.

I phoned my cousin Mike yesterday to make arrangements for dinner.  We were about to compare calendars and I was stalling while Outlook came up on my machine.  Mike laughed.  He was ready.  All he needed was a date book and a pen.   He laughed and said — “I’m 51 and I still use a date book.”

Of course, as always happens whenever there’s a challenge like this — Outlook took it’s sweet time loading.  Actually, it hung for a minute, as if to prove the triumph of high over low tech.  Mike took the moment to gloat.  So he should.  And it’s okay.  In this circumstance, keeping track of a few social engagements — an electronic calendar is overkill.

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Uncommon Sense

“It don’t make no sense that common sense don’t make no sense no more.”   John Prine, one of my favourite song-writers used this as a line in one of his songs.  It’s a classic for Prine.

I love Prine’s work.  Why?  Because, especially as I get older,  at least part of me becomes more an more like his characters.  I look back nostalgically at a past where things were simpler,  more understandable.  I think to some extent, most of us do.

That idea of a time when things made “common sense” is one those archetypal memories.  You find it throughout history – a yearning for that simpler time.

So it has a seductive appeal.

So why isn’t it more prevalent?  Why isn’t common sense more …. well, common?  Continue reading

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Practical examples of social media and technology leading to business success

For those who follow the blog, you’ll notice that my last post featured some of the questions that consultants had asked at a recent discussion group.  Leading the list was — what practical examples of success are there?   For those who asked that question,  I thought I’d note that on my weekly live podcast we have one of those “real life examples”.   Mark Graham, President of Rightsleeve.com and winner of the prestigious Dell Business Award in 2009 joins our panel to discuss how technology and social media pushed his company to success even in a recessionary time that has devastated some of his competitors.

Check it out — and get real life stories every Monday night at 8pm ET on http://BlogTalkRadio.com/GameChanging    It’s better in person.  You get to ask the questions if on our forum, on Twitter or even live by phone.  But if you miss it, you can hear the podcast by download from the show page or via iTunes (just search podcasts for GameChanging).

Seeya there

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