Category Archives: philosophy

What’s your game?

What
I’ve recently observed a corporate department in action and thought here on SuperBowl Sunday to write up some thoughts concerning my observations.

In many ways all corporate groups (leadership) fall into two categories: Owners or Stewards.

Owners are spotted as they give off signals such as, “well it’s my way or the highway!” We know them from their commanding presence and the strong feeling that their group understands issues better than others. I wish it were true that this were an obvious thing, but life is such a mystery at times, that even those who are Owners many times, right along with Stewards by the way, really live so close to the forest that the trees or evidence is not seen. It is the human condition we all live in and for a good sample of this refer to Dr. M. Scott Peck and his book “People of the Lie”.

Stewards on the other hand live out their lives with the idea that they own nothing, but are servants of their customers. Politicians do a great job of convincing us that they are Stewards, well at least while they are on the campaign trail eh? I recall like it were yesterday hearing in person the great insurance magnet, W. Clement Stone saying that this was truly his key to success. He relayed that early in his life he had learned to keep this principle constantly in mind as he conducted his business affairs and that it had yielded the highest value, quality product for his customers.

I’ve no mind to make any specific person an object lesson today, but to say I grieve at the attitude of people that believe they are the Owners. They have no idea of the disservice they bring to our world. These that are so convinced that they alone know and understand the problem, have in fact closed their mind to needs of others and are firmly lost in their ideal to succeed.

Its time we look more intently in the mirror. It’s time we take the time to consider what we project to others and it’s time to consider whether we have poison in our passion.

Suggestion: It’s been said that before you judge a man, walk a mile in his moccasins. A path to being a Steward is for us to put ourselves in the place of others. This is no small feat in the age wherein we are so caught up with the huge amount of input coming our way for every direction. Evidence of this struggle is seen as top executives seek out courses in meditation and centering themselves.

Lastly, it takes a strong cup of persistence mixed with a little positive attitude to be a steward. It seems to me that at times Owners wear teflon. Stewards on the other hand take a thrashing. This was documented over 2,000 years ago when a young Jew named Jesus spoke to leadership about what should done about people that decided that a good way of handling a Steward was to put them to death. It’s also found in the statement, “please don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger!” At the end of the equation it costs more to be a Steward. It is The Road Less Traveled and we can expect only to stay focused and not to lose heart over beautiful plans and work when they go unreceived.

Potpourri

Huh!  I have a real blend of thoughts running through my mind. . .

First, I appreciate all the dear friends who have wished me well, as I leave IBM.  There seems to be so many different exciting things out there to choose from, I’m wondering just where I’ll start. The most tempting words come from friends who are independent consultants and are so happy living outside the corporate culture of the big corporate houses.

In a way the adventure on this stream of thought began back in May when I met a most likeable gentleman named Mike Israel.  He is a Business Application Manager and over lunch he told me of how he had migrated from consulting life to the life of living as a corporate employee.  He mentioned how things so dramatically change when you embark into the corporate world.

It does make you wonder doesn’t it, how culture can be a burden to some folk, and they though strong in ability find something stifling in the midst of the corporate scene.  It makes one think we have much inventing yet to embark into the 21st century eh?  Here we see ourselves so sophisticated, and yet our corporate cultures are old and salty.

It’s similar to the telephone industry.  Aren’t you just loving the big debate around Google Voice, AT&T, and Apple, and now everyone is saying, “I didn’t do it!”.  What a laugh this is, but the stark truth is that our ideas about communications are old and stale.  Who can rescue us from this lethargy?  Do we really have to wait for people to get all upset and angry before we go about reinventing ourselves?  Hats off to Google for giving us fresh insight into possibilities.

My email box this week has just been full of too many Internet farces.  I’m tired of the off cuff remarks that America should only be speaking English.  Huh?  How can we be so dull of character to think everyone should be like us?  My life is so rich through my studies of Latin, French, Greek, Hewbrew, Italian, and Portuguese.  We need to be ashamed of our stick-in-the-mud attitudes.  I realize we are feeling the discomfort of a fast changing world, but we can’t put our head in the sand like an ostrich, eh?  Also along this same line, is the silly email about how things were so wonderful when we were kids.  Oh yeah?  A key learning for me in the past year, is all about living in the now.  Yes, I’m fond of memories, but balance is also about finding the silver lining in my present place.  It’s been written that one should find happiness in want and in great blessing, so let’s live in the present and in the now.

It’s encouraging to see some signs of recovery eh?  Glad to know the housing market jumped this summer and some things are on the move.  Hey, we’ll take it!  Sorry to hears the CARS program has so soon ended, this seemed to be a cool stimulus in spite of the way the program was to be run.  Just hope those dealers get their monies are not left holding the bag.

Oh and let’s dream too!  Some friends want to go crusing in the Baltic next summer (2010).  That sounds so cool, more things to see that I’ve never seen!  The world is a great place.  My work at IBM has taken me to some awesome places too.  Some of my work locations have been:  Switzerland, Shanghai, Singapore, Barcelona with many side trips.  Hehe, but as stated about that is the past, the future is here today, so I’ll dream about the Baltic Sea.  Ahhh, you can dream too!

Oops, yeah been just a bit lazy. . .

Howdy friends!  I’ve been such a busy person lately, I’ve failed to keep up here with blogging on my observations and thoughts.  I can truthfully say that I’m not lazy, just a bit too consumed with ensuring many little details of life are being addressed.

I finished up the end of July on a wonderful project in Philadelphia for Shire (pharmaceuticals).  They are a great team of professionals and they needed my services to help them effectively take their in progress project and bring it home through some additional, careful planning and focus.  It was a project where one can lose sight of the goal as the components were just so numerous and diverse.  During the project life they had also made a very large change to their scope, so this brought in an additional layer of complexity.  For a small, medium business they also had set their goals on a very large scope of work to accomplish, so there was little rest along the way for the team to keep up the enormous drive needed in such a project.

The project does remind me that in HR systems, it is very key to partnership with the right people.  For many years, I’ve just been a team leader and let project managers worry about the big stuff like building partnerships, but since now I’ve also worked for some 4 years full time as a project manager, now I can observe the importance and delicacy of partnering.  What we may fail to admit is that no one person or discipline has all the answers to the complex items that come our way.  It is also to say that our particular discipline may lack particular skill sets needed for multi-dimension projects.

I’m uncertain why we feel so proud to admit our need of others, but it is a key to finding success in today’s adventures.  If I’ve seen a major failure in companies today, it’s that they fail to observe other successful companies or projects.  We got so thrilled to finally be working on a special project, and pulling together the plans, that we fail to say to ourselves, “why not go to another firm and ask questions about lessons learned?”.

Another issue we have is our own “pain points”.  We become so familar with those things deterring us, we get locked into just trying to address these items.  This is why hiring an outside firm to help us accomplish goals, has a way of paying huge dividends.  An outsider can see many times the bigger picture and can help bring to the table the idea that people need to broaden their horizons.  It’s funny how we get locked into our own thinking and can’t see the forest from the trees.

Well, keep up the great work and let me know if you have any comments, ideas on this front, as at the end of the day, I love to see breakthroughs.

Star Trekking. . .

STAR TREK

Yes, another fabulous chapter in Star Trek history has hit the theaters.  Hollywood has done a superb job of story telling and inspiration for the young and old alike.  It’s a must see.

The first thing that struck me was why Jim T. Kirk leaves his home of Iowa to join the Federation.  Here’s something for corporate America to think about.  Why does any young person want to work for a company?  Why should young people lock themselves to $20K to $40K a year worth of schooling for 4 to 8 years?  So much of culture today has been focused on “me” and “my career” and so much of corporations have given up on the “parental” model and are expecting young people to seek them out for a just get ahead for “my” career.  After all, “it’s all about me!”

Well stand back because Mr. Kirk leaves his “me” life because he catches some small glimpse of something bigger than himself.  He’s swept away by a dream.  Well yeah, he really doesn’t know much about where he’s going or what he’ll become but the emotion of finding something worthy to step up to is strongly projected and the emotion is elevating.  All you leaders out there i hope will think long and hard about creating something that draws people out of the “me” world into a world of making a better world for future generations.  I’ve never been privileged to going the armed forces of the U.S. but that is something armies do, they call upon people to think about others and big ideas like freedom, helping others and making the world a safer place to live.  I don’t see enough if this inspirational leadership happening in the work a day world.  We’re afraid to even speak to people about having beliefs such as this, it sounds too soft, too touchy-feelie.  Huh!  Wrong!

Friendship is another theme highlighted in the 2009 Star Trek movie.  It’s refreshing to hear Spock declare his unending ideal of being a forever friend of James T. Kirk.  Sorry, but for me you can have money, a friend that is true is a priceless thing in today’s world is it not?  It reminds me of how I’ve committed myself to be faiithful to others and that others can count on me at all times.  We live in a very frighenting world, where people have come to a place we almost don’t know whom to trust.  It makes us cold.  I happened to travel through the airport this past weekend end and met a man flying here from Sweden.  He was coming as his Mother-in-Law’s house had burned to the ground this past week.  Of  course, I was quite empathetic to this person and even socially helpful, but what struck me later thta evening was why had I not said to him, “here’s my telephone number, if you need someone to ask a question, please call me”.  I failed on that point.  O.k. I must remember to be a friend in today’s world, even if it means I may get hurt, as there is nothing as worthy as being a friend who cares about others.  I hope others will want to be faithful friends to me as well.

I could go on and on, but will keep this short in the interest of not overloading my reader.  A third idea about his movie is just that it has a strong ability to provoke emotions that we’re all familiar with and respect.  We all face tremendous fear, we all face situations that could cause us to hate another and some of us will know the challenge to let go of dear things because we want others to get a chance at life and liberty.  This movie has all of these tremendous values flowing through it.  This to me is keenly important, as a bit of Sci-Fi is surreal these days.  How can I identify with a person who can fly and can pound aliens into the ground?  That’s not exactly me, but when a story can help me see how I could also live my life in a manner that helps others, then I have found a high value.  I know for some again this sounds mushey, but stop and just measure this on the value that stories are like great art.  They make us emote or identify with some special beauty that is beyond ourselves.  They reflect on something or somewhere we’d like to be or not be.  This is great art and Star Trek 2009 is a great movie.

Are we living in the Bermuda Triangle?

Our triangle?
Our triangle?

We’ve all heard about the mysterious trap known as the Bermuda Triangle, haven’t we?

I’m musing today on how we landlubbers find ourselves too in a Bermuda Triangle.

EXPECTATIONS

People traversing through the Bermuda Triangle did so as they had a strong desire to achieve something.  I live in a world of execution as there has been an agreement to a goal.  Someone was sold a solution.  There is a lot of new thinking these days on the need to revisit our customer post-sale to determine if the expectation is being realized.  This in another way is not so new is it as most projects have incremental acceptance agreements, wherein a team goes over a particular deliverable and tests whether or not the conception has been realized and whether or not it has met all the criteria put down in a blueprint.  The shocking or the disturbing point here is that in some cases the overall expectations were not captured and now there are unrealized expectations still afloat.  This is definitely a bad experience and frustrating to have to resolve and address.

Two key traps I’m familiar with due to painful experiences are 1) looking at something and saying, “that’s what I want” and 2) making a decision solely based on price.  The first item mentioned above is not a bad thing, we all need to articulate, this is what I want, the error here is rushing to obtain something without thoroughly examining the details surrounding what we’ve set our expectations upon.  I recall a famous minister talking about how he wanted to buy his children a swingset, that is until he read the directions which terrified him.  No it was not putting the swingset together, it was the rigorous maintenance schedule to be followed post-build to ensure his precious family was safe at all times.  (seems some dear manufacturer wanted to avoid a legal altercation, so they’d laid out very heavy requirements for their product)  This means that whenever we look at something we want and need we have a lot more homework to do to determine how this solution will address and fit into our overall abilities to achieve our goals.  Second if we don’t do all the necessary homework, we’re headed into other traps like focusing solely on price and here we sell ourselves short don’t we?  How many of us bought the new living room couch because it was just such a good price, so comfortable, only to realize post delivery, that the carpet doesn’t quite match, the curtain clash with this, and yeah, you get my frustration here don’t you?  This goes back to root of capturing our expectations more and harmonizing them with other factors present in the overall picture.  A third complexity is how we set dates for things.  We all know that we need a completion date don’t we?  Again though how we set a date for a completion can make us or break us.  I won’t explore that fully here my point, but the key item here is gathering the full details of the original expecation including costs, work efforts, goals, and on-going support of a solution, lest we jump in early and find ourselves in the Bermuda Triangle with no hope of escape.

SILENCE

Life is full of “pot-holes” and one of them is silence.  Hey, I’m not putting down time of reflection or rest here, I’m talking about the fact things go unspoken.  We go on week after week, month after month, and fail to communicate key information to others.  There are a legion of reasons silence pervade our business, homes and relationships, I can’t begin to explore these all, or this will turn from a blog to book.  This is also an oxymoron is it not?  I mean aren’t we living in the era of openness?  One has to only turn on the TV to hear the most intimate details of why, what, and how on any subject.  We now have Instant Messaging, Telepresence, the Inside Inventigation, and yet we have major failures in communication don’t we?  The person traveling through the Bermuda Triangle became silent, out of touch with the rest of the world, and they were ulimatey lost.  Do we find ourselves in the same place today?  I was recently asked, “why do you think people in this company are afraid to express themselves?”  Ouch!  Here we are in the post-modern age, we have more scientific knowledge than one can imagine, and yet we are out of touch, out of communication because people are silent.  Yes, people are afraid, people are talking but about all the wrong things.  Just because we have volumes on a subject doesn’t mean we’ve hit the core, the “ah-ha”.  Silence will keep us living in the dark ages, but than again how do focus into the heart and realize the core?

DIRECTION

People who entered the Bermuda Triangle, were set on a direction.  Here I don’t want to discuss the merits of setting direction, we all know the classic need for setting a common vision, a common goal.  My thought here then is more how we work as multiple entities in a way that is common direction.  Again as a professional I’m asked on a annual basis whether or not my leadership is supporting to direction of my corporation, and am I helping others that work with me to see and realize that direction.  So for me the issue on direction is not that we lack direction, it is this nectare of multiple entities coming to a point of shall we say “dancing together” for lack of better terminology.  There is tremendous push and pull by powerful people in organizations today, and we tend to all look up above us to uncommon folk who have a gift at setting direction, call upon us to follow in that direction, and who if successful articulate that direction in a clear and powerful way.  People who have got lost in the Bermuda Triangle must have internally gone in circles, “should I turn back, should I go left, should I go right” and somewhere along the way because they lost touch with good details that would ground them in knowledge of their position, they ran out of fuel, they made the wrong decision, they were lost for all time.  And yet this example doesn’t show the larger dynamic does it?  How is that we’ll be linked in amrs with others to accomplish great things?  How is that our organization can remain organic and learn to turn on the dime?  How is that we’ll learn to change our thinking and adopt wholly new ways of doing things?  (after all nature is adaptive, and yet we as people seem to defy nature itself, i.e. we remain stuck in our thinking, this is the way things have to be, it’s always been this way, I don’t belive what I’m being told!)  My apologies if I now have you swimming in thought, but I too am a student and trying to put my arms around this same concept of how to bring multiple players together in a common direction.  Please do comment or express yourself here should I have touched a similar thought in your mind.

Another superb movie…

slumdog millionaire

Now here’s a movie that makes sense.  How much “shoot-em’ ups” can we exposed to before we hit overload?  Well, don’t get upset, I love “shoot-em ups” too!  Wow some great stuff coming next month.

What is superb on this picture is that we who live in the comforts of luxury are thrust into the real world of Mumbai.  We meet the most interesting brothers, who are dubbed the “two muskateers” as they were recognized in their community for their special powers to be pranksters.

I was privilege to see this movie on Valentine’s Day, and from that point of view, this is a perfect movie for VD seeing the third muskateer is a young lady, and our hero pursues her with a relentless fever.

This movie for me is 5 star, and I’ll be looking for the sound track at my favorite store as the music has a powerful place in this movie as well.

I just hope for you that you get the chance to see this movie.  This isn’t make-believe movie though one may feel the overall story to be a Cinderella type movie.  The truth is people in India do live in some the worst conditions in the world.  I’m not saying that all Indians live in bad conditions, just that we can find some of the greatest suffering in places like Mumbai, New Dehli and Kolkata.  It should stop us, it should shock us, and it should call us to action.  With the greatest tragedies happening right in our country due to the economic swings, none of our failures will touch the suffering of these people.  For that we should be reminded.

Oh well, off the topic eh?  This is an engaging movie that deserves a place in our lives to reach into our hearts and remind us that love is the most precious commodity in the world, not oil.  In fact, love is not a commodity, it is an exceptional way of life.  Would it be that we learn the lessons of Jamal and his faithfulness to brother and friend, Latika.

The uncluttered look

New Home Page

Less is More!

On advice of the experts in the field, I’ve decided it’s time to leave behind my home page in my browser (bye, bye Yahoo) and embrace the quiet power look of Google.com.  I got this from the ideas posed in a lecture on the seminal work of Vannevar Bush, who wrote an article in June 1945’s Atlantic on how we think, or rather how we need to train our thinking for the future.

This is a short blog as it’s past bedtime and I need to head that way, but wanted to chart my new direction here.  One has to know that Google as well is a very important place for me.  I regularly use News, Gmail and now Tasks.

That all aisde the idea of making Google my home page (other than my corporate page which always comes up in IE), is the need to simplify my space and give me OPEN space to think when I launch my browser.

I’m a firm believer we are too busy with our lives, and we fill our time with mindlessness.  We need to shift our focus through focus, presence and a need to be quiet.  Here’s the link to the Bush article for those that want a fascinating read. Let’s engage our minds!

Post script:  for those not introduced to Bush and his article, Bush is seen as a visionary who saw in 1945 the future as we now are coming to know it.  This article will speak of a machine that has the ability to be a storehouse of knowledge.  Today’s modern Internet users see this as the very first concept of hypertext (the layer of formatting used in Internet pages).  More later. . .

Love is nothing if not expressed. . .

Well our annual corporate humanitarian drive has just completed and I’m sad to hear that overall giving is down.  I completely understand the “why” as the economy has many of us scared and some depressed.  It is interesting though that economic depression does not equate to a slow down for being a generous person.  There is history out there that shows some of past depressions have been powerful times for people to reach deep inside and look to exercise one  of life’s greatest privileges. . .love.  We talk a lot about balanced living these days and the importance of diet and exercise, but does anyone discuss the importance of also exercising the heart, yes I’m asking the question about whether or not we allow ourselves the privilege of love.  Now I am of the opinion as they state on the airplane safety talk, “in the event of an emergency, please place the mask first on yourself, before you go to help someone else”, so we must all be most cautious to not be so caught up in loving others that we forget to nurture ourselves.  It’s always a tragedy to have stolen from this world beautiful souls who got so overloaded with caring they washed themselves out and have ended their awesome tradition of caring.

I doubt many of us know such abandon as to love so entirely that we lose ourselves in the process.  My focus here is more of “are you doing the basics?”  I was charged with a small group of my peers inside my corporate to reach out and encourage this year to get involved in our charitable campaign.  As the trend went this year, less than half my group made a commitment.  I suspect again the economic uncertainty has kept people away this year and that is sad to say a loss, not of money alone but of the joy of making a difference in our small world.

I am far from supporting the idea of socialism, and I can be that way as I choose to find ways to see that not all of my earnings are held for my personal use.  This is how life should in fact operate, that each of us sees the importance of reaching beyond our four walls and lifting the hands of others.  I find practical ways to accomplish this, as example, I don’t just pay the entrance fees at museums, I join the membership roles of a museum as to say, “hey this is so great, keep this alive, and let others in less fortunate positions come here at a lower price”.  Quarterly, I look for an opportunity to reach out to a food bank and see that the bank is getting funds to help the hungry.  You get the point here, I don’t wait for government or corporate management to tell me that I need to be involved with others.  I find a way entirely on my own.  Wow, thank you mom and dad for helping me understand the importance of thinking of more than just myself.  That would be a small world.

Are You a Servant?

It was the early 70’s and I was a soloist in a beautiful church on the north shores of Chicago.  I’ll never forget the Sunday the famed, J. Clement Stone came to talk about his awesome meteoric rise to be one of Chicago’s wealthiest men.  He gave out his secret to success as he stated for the audience, “I’ve never let myself think of other people’s money as my own.”  In other words, as a corporate steward, Mr. Stone adopted a special attitude in life to think that he was just to be a servant most excellent.  Now that is quite a challenge yes?  Can we begin to imagine how the world might be if top executives would only say to themselves, “Am I doing the right thing for others?”  (after all the money I have access to is not mine, but a trust that has been put in my hands)  A sad truth is that I’ve never been lectured in corporate halls about having such an attitude.  I guess some would say that it’s a soft message.  Others are intellectually honest as not to say this is the way things should be, when they themselves have not learned this fundamental practice.  Why should one openly be a hypocrite?  I do think Mr. Stone was on to a real truth about life, and one that could change our world enormously.  Can you imagine the millions of dollars that we are now wasting to protect people from individuals who lack this fundamental attitude/belief/practice?  No law will ever protect us from such evil, we have to be a force of good by adopting fundamental beliefs that push away selfishness and lack of vision.  We are silly to think legislation can turn people into being charitable, this is simply not the truth, only personal belief and conviction can do that for us.

There is a saying in church circles that should be explored. . .”God loves a cheerful giver”.  Life is not all duty, it should be a passion.  The forefathers of America were passionate (cheerful) about their zest for freedom.  They were so passionate they did not reckon loss of life to be a barrier to the pursuit of freedom.  I hate to think of losing the privilege to be alive or having my sons be lost, but I also have an inexpressable gift to live in a land of freedom, as honorable men chose to lose their lives for freedom.  Are we so fortunate as to hold life because men chose passion?  May we also then know “thanksgiving” and “thanksliving” for those who are full of passion for freedom.  May we find hands and hearts to hold others that need our gift of love, it is a basic human need. . to love and reach out to others.