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.
Category Archives: Organization
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)
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
Filed under Commentary, Organization, Technology, Uncategorized
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
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
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
Filed under Change, Organization, People, Strategy
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
Filed under Change, Organization, People
“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
Filed under Change, Commentary, Organization
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…
Continue reading →
Filed under Change, Commentary, Organization, Organizational Change, Social Change