Category Archives: Organization

Chapter 1 – What is Leadership?

To study anything; to truly look at it in an objective way and then to share that experience is a true challenge.  First you must first be able to agree on what it that you are talking about.   That seemingly simple first step is often harder than it seems, particularly when it comes to the subject of leadership.

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Filed under Change, Leadership, Organization, People, Purpose, Social Change, Waterloo

Fear, Lies and Purpose

Today, I will not live in fear.

For all too many years, I did. I lived with fear.  Even as I write this I can replay the feeling.  The tightening muscles.  The cold rush of adrenaline.  It stops you dead in your tracks.

I won’t say anything trite like “fear has been my friend”.  It hasn’t been my friend.  It’s been my companion, but never my friend.

What did I fear?  The list is endless.  I’ll spare you the personal side of fear and for the sake of this piece I’ll focus on the fear that accompanied me in my career.

Would I be passed over for a promotion?  Would I make a mistake?  Not even real mistakes — I could work myself into a lather just thinking I could make a mistake.  I spent time wondering what could go wrong.  It wasn’t even fear of big consequences — even the shame, the blow to my ego of a mistake happening on my “watch”.   I even feared being wrong.

It wasn’t just the fear of mistakes.  There was another type of fear.  Fear of loss.   I feared losing my status — what if I wasn’t recognized for my accomplishments?  I even feared of losing things I didn’t even have — fear of not getting that promotion or that raise, that job I deserved. I could go on…and on…

I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that I wasn’t alone.  If you didn’t feel this way at one time or another, you are in the remarkable few.  I applaud you.  The rest of us are as described by Thoreau, the poet and keen observer of the human conditions who once said, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

One day, for me, that changed…

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Filed under Change, Commentary, Organization, Organizational Change, Social Change

They killed Neo – the Matrix resumes

Hackers for right, we are one down.(from a tweet by Tim Berners-Lee father of the World Wide Web)

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His eyes haunt me.  From those pictures that adorn the articles that pay tribute to this astonishing young man, he stares out at you.   Depending on the shot, he is alternately mysterious, thoughtful, intense and occasionally mischievous.

His accomplishments daunt me.  At 14 he was co-creator of RSS, the syndication process is at the core of internet publishing.   He co-founded Reddit the social news web-site which, love it or hate it, is one of the most active forums of real discussion on the internet.

His passion for freedom inspires me.  He was a co-founder of Demand Progress, a group which fights for Internet freedom.

His death diminishes us all.   Continue reading

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Filed under Commentary, Organization, Technology, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Change, Organization, Strategy

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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Filed under Change, Organization, People

The Mile High Club

I got your recent email.  The chirpy tone and bringing me up to date with what was happening made me feel strange.  Didn’t you know that we’ve broken up?   Didn’t you get the message?

When I stopped coming around, didn’t you ask why?

Now, how do I say it?  Let me try this.

Get lost.  Scram. Get out of my life.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

It’s sad that things have come to this.  We used to be so close.    I was your number one guy.   You remember the pet name you called me?  Elite.  I simply called you Air Canada but I did it with such affection.  Continue reading

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Filed under Organization, People, Strategy

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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Filed under Change, Organization, People, Strategy