Archive for Cultural Change


The Importance of Understanding the Backstory – Wicked Important!

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After the World Business Forum 2010 I took advantage of being in New York City and went to see Wicked on Broadway.  All I can say is that the current cast is Amazing!  While I am enjoying the CD from the original cast, the voices of the current leads are even better.  My metaphorical hat and standing ovation to Mandy Gonzalez (Elphaba) and Katie Rose Clarke (Glinda).  Both their individual voices as well as the blend was superb.  Andy Karl’s (Fiyero) dancing and singing brought a smile to my face.

As I watched the story unfold I was amazed at the number of important messages embedded within the story itself.  It almost felt like a life lesson while watching the wonderful cast dance, sing, and entertain.  I’ve commited to my children to take them to see it soon.  I feel that not only would they enjoy the story but that there are life lessons they can observe.  It also gives us a platform for discussing situations and behaviors.

A few of the elements of the story include:

  • Being true to yourself and your beliefs
  • How people are measured and valued
  • Caring for, helping, and supporting others in need
  • Social pressures
  • Giving everyone a chance – recognizing them for who they are inside and not just outside
  • How the labels given to history and the “spin” change how we view things
  • The “spin” the Press does and the true power of that spin – to completely mislead and misrepresent
  • The value of working together – In one song Glinda and Elphaba sing about “…together we are unlimited…”

During the show I kept thinking over and over about the importance of understanding the “backstory.”  The true history of a situation.  Not what was fabricated by the press and those in power.

If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, you know that the Wicked Witch of the West is the “bad guy.”   You know this, absolutely know this for sure.

However, once you understand the backstory, the true history, you learn:

  • Elphaba, The Wicked, had a truly generous heart.  She was extremely loving and kind.
  • The Wizard isn’t actually kind and helpful.  He is actually a “bad guy” in many ways, working the system and manipulating others.
  • Glinda (formerly known as Galinda) begins the story as very egotistical and grows through her relationship with Elphaba. 
    • Glinda faces the choices she has made and accepts responsibility for them – changing herself in the process.
  • Glinda and Elphaba initally loath each other. 
    • They evolve into best friends by looking inside, understanding, and valuing each other as individuals.
  • Elphaba was painted as Wicked by the Wizard and the Press Secretary for trying to help others and standing up to injustice.
  • While Elphaba was persecued for being Being Lionhearted © she never gave up on doing the right thing, no matter the cost.  She accepts the “label” of The Wicked in the name of doing good.

So what does this tell us?

  • You need to look at the history, the drivers and motivations, not just the current situation.
  • You should challenge “labels” given to people and seek to truly understand, not just accept them at face value.
  • Look for the person inside, not just the outside they show the world.  They might be quite different.
  • Understanding the backstory is critical for understanding the truth of any current situation.

The truth is out there.  May you Stop, Look, and Listen to find it.  For those interested in knowing more about Wicked the Musical, here’s the description from USA Today. 

“So much happened before Dorothy dropped in.  Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkinland, two girls meet in the Land of Oz.  One – born with emerald green skin – is smart, fiery and misunderstood.  The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular.

How these two grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good makes for “the most complete, and completely satisfying, new musical in a long time.”

Pictures from

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Are you Being Lionhearted © or are you just one of the crowd?

The second day of the World Business Forum 2010 is complete.  The speakers today talked about economics, the environment, politics, culture, product selection, survival, and the film industry to name a few.  One theme that emerged for me was the need for courage. 

This is something that I have been pondering for a while.  The courage that it will take from many individuals, both on their own and working together to drive true, lasting, sustainable change.

Do you have the courage to:

  • Focus on the Long-term, not just the Short-term? 
  • Change the way you make decisions?
  • Make the less “popular” choices?
  • Make the choices for sustainability?
  • Speak the truth, not just what sounds good?
  • Dig into the details, not just the sound bits?
  • Be a Leader, not just a Manager or Executive?’
  • Talk about the Elephants in the room?
  • Change yourself?

Courage comes from many places and many sources.  But must come from within to be sustained.  Are you courageous?  I’m working on my Lion’s heart.  Come join me.

More to come about Being Lionhearted:  The Courage to Change © soon.  In the interim, see the WBF Bloggers Hub for comments and questions about being courageous.

Book to come – ebook or other tbd. 

In the interim, visit the Ponders & Insights over the next weeks and months for more on this topic. 

I would love to hear back from you about how you are courageous, when and where you have had the courage to change, and what you feel it takes to stand up and go against the crowd to do what you feel is right. 

Do you have stories about having the courage to change yourself and to be an example to others?  If so, I would love to hear them.


Are you putting all the pieces of what you learned together? Will you talk about what you see and the Elephants in the room?

The first day of the World Business Forum 2010 is complete.  The speakers entertaining and educating. 

The questions for me are:

  • Was the audience really enlightened? 
  • Did they truly listen to the messages, not just the words?
  • Will they truly take the core messages back to their businesses? To think about what it means to truly lead, not command and control?

While World Business Forum 2010 Day 1 is gone, the content it not?  When you do as Collins suggests, stopping one day for every two weeks of booked time (come on, try it), I encourage you to ponder, think, reflect, and visit or revisit the Bloggers Hub.  You’ll learn something new, provoke your thinking, and challenge yourself.  I promise!  I do every time I go back. 

Articles related to what was learned, shared, discussed, and reflected on during the World Business Forum are forthcoming over the next weeks and months.  My thanks to all the great bloggers, guests, and speakers who challenged my thinking and helped me to continue to drive myself and my thinking forward.  Cheers all.

Elephant #1:  We don’t truly value stopping to think, to reflect, to ponder. 

We tend to value action much more than reflection.  Doing over creating.  I’d like you to stop and think about that.  I’ll talk more about the motivation, drivers, and factors that drive this in a future blog.

I’m willing to talk about the Elephants in the room.  The truth of what it takes to change a company, to change a culture, to change yourself.  To be the Elephant Whisper.  Are you willing to talk with me?

Elephant Whisperer:  Strait talk about the Elephants in the Room ©

Book – ebook or hard copy tbd.  Look for a series of blogs/articles on this topic in the interim. 

Would love to hear back from you about the elephants that you see, how people deal with them (or not), and your personal stories.


Ripple of Life

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One drop goes far...

One drop goes far...

I recently have been reflecting on the concepts of Systems Thinking and Systems Dynamics.  How so many things are interconnected.  How various choices I make are connected together and impact myself and others, both immediately and at a later time.  I’ve also been thinking about how things we learn as children often affect our behaviors as adults. 

For those unfamiliar with Systems Thinking, it is a style of thinking (and analyzing) that looks at a myrid of elements and how they affect each other.  It is a process of understanding how things influence one another within a defined “system.”  I often refer to this as holistic thinking or thinking holistically.  

If you are interested in learning more about this concept, you can go to the Systemswiki for more information (in addition to Wikipedia, of course).  You might also be interested in System Dynamics.

As I was reading in the wiki, the following came to mind.

Every choice I make,
Every action I take,
affects those around me.

I am both the stone and the ripple in the pond of life.

May I also be one with the pond.

I’d like to ask that you stop and reflect on a few things:

  • How your own behaviors and style of interaction affect others?
  • What it means if someone has a “positive vibe” or a “negative vibe”?
  • How the positive or negative energy of others can affect you?

Have you ever heard the following phrases?  Do you know what they mean?

  • They are an energy vampire.
  • They sucked the life right out of the room.

It is my hope that my actions have a positive influence not a negative one (a One not a Zero) as I continue on my quest for a revolution in the pond of life. 

Will you join me in creating positive ripples, not negative ones?  May we infuse others with energy, not drain them.

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Does the business, like the water, flow the same direction?

A recent Linked In group discussion revolved around how coaching does/does not fit in the Enterprise Architecture (EA) world.  Hum?  What do you think? 

I found it an interesting idea to ponder.  For this article, I’ve extracted the question and a portion of the responses.  

Defining Enterprise Architecture

At this point I would typically point you to Wikipedia for a good definition to provide some framing.  However, I found the Wikipedia content both lacking and under revision.  When I stepped back, I realized this shouldn’t be so surprising given the somewhat diverse views of EA.  To me, EA breaks down into two camps.

  1. IT-centric Enterprise Architecture.  I personally view this as Tech Arch, though there are many who will argue about this.
  2. Business focused Enterprise Architecture.  This broader, more holistic viewpoint is more in alignment with my personal view. 

The Initial Question, Thoughts & Ideas

James Lapalme •Should coaching being an element of enterprise architecture?  I completed a 1 week intensive life/professional coaching course last week.  The final course assignment was to coach a total stranger.  It was an amazing feeling to help a person with a topic which was dear to them.  The person I coached truly appreciated the experience.  People seem to really appreciate having someone to listen to them, and to help them sort out their thoughts.

Corporations would probably benefit from having coaching as an organizational component of their hierarchical structure.  They spend a lot of time on action, and put almost no emphasis on reflection.  Should this type of reflection be part of the enterprise architecture?

Faith Fuqua-Purvis • I cannot speak to whether it should be part of enterprise architecture, only to the value of coaching as well as some organizational observations and challenges.  My sense is that it would be difficult to gain acceptance of Coaching as a formal part of enterprise architecture across the board but that it might be accepted at some organizations.

  • It is often difficult to individuals to fully grasp the value of coaching until they experience it directly. 
    • This can be through a formal program such as you attended, a 1:1 coach, or through indirect coaching.  
  • I’ve observed that coaching is often associated with Mentoring.  While they are similar, I do believe that they are often executed in different manners with different motivators and drivers.
  • There has been a subtle perception/belief that Mentoring is to help move someone up the ladder to be more successful, while Coaching is more about “fixing” an issue or “bad behavior.” 
  • The skill set required to be a good coach is undervalued.  
  • Just like with consultants, there are good, very good, and “less good” coaches. 
    • I hesitate to say “bad coaches” as I don’t believe that anyone would label themselves as a coach without a minimum level of true coaching skills.

A good coach would listen in an authentic manner and seek ways to guide self revelations and self awareness.  There is a great difference in acceptance rates between telling someone something and allowing them to discover it for themselves.

To be a good coach you have to make a calculated choice as to when and how often to deliver a difficult message.  You need to weigh the balance of the objectives and desired outcomes of the interactions with the risks and potential land minds when talking about the metaphorical elephant in the room, overtly identifying and discussing the underlying motivations and drivers.  We all are challenged to really look in the mirror some days and truly see ourselves.  The image shown changes over time and should be revisited periodically.

Coaches can be hired or they can simply be people you work with or know, that help you gain a better understanding of yourself, how you operate, and how you interact with others.  The desired outcome being an improvement in how you are feeling about what you are doing and the ability to operate more effectively.

Ron Thiessen • I think that one of the most intriguing dynamics I have observed over the last 10 years or so is that we have invented numerous “time-saving” gadgets that have succeeded in monopolizing our time beyond all sane measure.  What this seems to have created is a rush toward initiation, progression, and completion of projects to the exclusion of thought-provoking analysis of pros and cons.  In the drive to the bottom line, most corporations do not have TIME to designate to the think tank.  And the type of reflection you refer to (I think) could become pretty scary because an individual might have to justify in his/her own mind why they are attempting to move at such a frenetic pace to reach…….what? 

The number of clients I see who are “burned out” as a result of work stress is mounting almost daily.  Invariably, one of the secrets of moving from stress to sanity is intensive self-reflection, bringing the sufferer back to the basics of existence and their Life Purpose.  If corporations understood the power of key employees who are at peace with their world, they would run, not walk, their employees to the nearest conference, seminar, life coach, or psychologist.

Ari Tikka • I second Ron. Run you fools… :)  I aim at making my every client a peer coach.  Think of a team with every member taking responsibility of leadership and peer coaching.  Sadly, the current disempowering management norm is weeding this kind of development away.  Short term wins.

Doug McDavid • This brings the human element into a topic (EA) that too often focuses on the technology, or, when human social systems are considered, they are in such abstract form that the person is lost.  Here’s the kind of problem that could be addressed by the right kind of coaching. 

Systems developers are motivated by the desire to do something helpful for the part of the business they are closely associated with.  After hundreds or thousands of well-intentioned efforts have proceeded, the bigger, enterprise-wide system of systems can be a big mess.  Enterprise architecture, with its attendant governance, tries to bring coherence to this mess, but apparently with a loss of autonomy of individual development efforts.  Coaching can help all parties to see other points of view, and achieve a balance of big picture and immediate practicalities.

James Lapalme • For me EA is about helping the organization to align all its dimensions (people, process and technology) in order to meet organizational visions and objectives.  These dimensions encompass elements such as organizational structure, capital expense models, IT, performance management, knowledge management, process design, etc.”

If you agree with my definition then you would probably agree that EA is basically strategic business planning.  In this context, my question becomes “Does coaching have a role in strategic business planning (especially when working with CxOs and senior executives)? 

And the discussion went on…. 

Defining Enterprise Architecture – Take Two

Let’s just say that I like James’s definition and leave it at that.

Some Closing Thoughts

So what are the takeaways?  What do I hope you will stop and ponder for a moment?

  • What does the term Enterprise Architecture mean to you? 
    • Do you think at the Enterprise Architecture level?
    • Is there a group focused on Enterprise Architecture at your organization?  If not, why not?
  • What is your personal view of the role of a Coach?
    • How might you personally or someone you know benefit from a Coach
    • Have you observed resistence to the concept of Coaching in your organization?  If so, what and why?
  • If you think coaching is valuable, how might you help your organization understand the value?
    • Do you feel that you could ask for a Coach?
  • Is there someone you could swap Coaching with?  You Coach them and they Coach you?
    • What are the challenges with this?
    • What might be the unique benefits?
  • What might be contributing to your own personal burnout?   
    • If you aren’t feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or a little crispy – Congratulations and share the secret!
  • Are you using Social Networking tools to engage in thought provoking dialogs? 
    • If not, why not?
    • Might this relate to part of what Ron touches upon?

The Challenge

Get yourself a Coach!  If you can’t afford to hire a professional Coach, I encourage you to actively seek out a friend or colleague who can act as a personal Coach.  It’s important to remember that this is not the same role as a mentor.  The person you ask needs to have a good level of empathy, interpersonal skills, understand psychological issues, and be willing to make the time investment to help you. 

The web is full of tools (some free, some not) that can help you conduct your own personality and behavioral analysis.   Its important to agree about what you want as an outcome and that both parties be committed to the process.  Good luck to both you and your Coach, should you decide to take on this Coaching Challenge!

Note:  These are only extracts 5 of the 16 posts in this discussion.  Discussions like this are a good way to challenge your and other’s thinking on a topic.  Edits did not include wordsmithing, rather deletion of content not relevant to this article.


Hearts, Butterflies, and Social Skills

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This topic has been on my mind for a while.  I’d been planning on writing an article titled “Please, Thank-you, and a Smile” next month where I focused on their value.  One might say that the stars have aligned today – or in this case the behaviors have been out of line – and this one emerged instead.  

1141829_heart_butterflyI’ll apologize in advance if this sounds like a bit of a rant and lengthier than usual.  I’ll ask you to be gracious enough to bear with me.  I won’t be offended if you skip through The Rant to look at the Tipping Point, Thoughts to Ponder, Bottom line, and Background.  Each section could probably have been it’s own article.  My objective is to leave you with things to ponder.  My hope that you find things of value to think about and to help you along life’s journey.

I’d also like to thank you in advance for listening.  Really, Thank You!  I do mean that.  Sometimes the value we provide to others is simply just listening to them as they express their feelings, emotions, and opinions. 

The rant…

Has anyone else out there noticed that social skills, politeness, and basic good manners seem to be slipping?  I really don’t think it’s just my perception being skewed.  I’ve been observing this both in-person and on-line for quite a while.  If customer interactions are so important to a business, why do they often seem unimportant to the “front line” of individuals who interact with the customers?  I’ve been pondering what drives individuals’ behaviors for a while?  

  • How do incentive and reward systems, feedback, cultural norming affect behavior? 
  • Why don’t people say Please, Thank You, or I appreciate your help more often? 
  • Are we really “too busy” to be polite or is that really just an excuse, a cop-out?
  • If we are “too busy”, what can we do to become less busy and more polite?
  • When people do say Please and Thank You, do we take them with sincerity or suspect them?  If we suspect them, why do we? 

Have you stopped lately to check your own behavior?   Have you observed that many arguments continue way beyond any useful point because the parties want to “win.”   Or, in some cases so that one or more of the parties don’t feel that they would be perceived as “weak” or “giving in”.  Do you ever give yourself a “time out”?  I do.  Really, I do sometimes.  When I recognize I’m getting too frustrated and aggravated, I’ll go in another room for a few minutes so that I can calm down.  It’s about gathering myself together so that I can interact in a productive manner rather than a destructive one. 

Have you ever agreed to simply disagree?  I’ve learned to do this.  Did I always, no.  I have learned that there are times that this is simply the very best answer.  You might say that I’ve grown up – well, at least a bit.

So that’s my rant and what’s on my mind.  Thanks for listening.  May you Smile more, say Thank You more often, and help us make things just a little more positive around us. 

The root cause, motivation, and tipping point…

In case you were wondering what was the “tipping point” today?  Have you noticed how many of my links are to Wikipedia?  Today I was thinking about this and why I like Wikipedia.  I got on-line to try to find a way to say Thank You to Wikipedia’s contributors.  I wondered if anyone said Thank You to them and how to go about it.  It’s seemed to be so integrated into society in many ways that I wondered if we think about how much work it actually takes to create and maintain it.  In researching, I found the underpinnings of Wikipedia.  The more I read and thought about their guidelines, pillars, and netiquette, the more I thought about what I had been observing off-line and what the connections might be.  

I’d like to share one of Wikipedia’s five pillars.  I think that this one really applies to everything.  Not just on-line interactions. 

  • Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner.  Respect and be polite to your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree.  Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and avoid personal attacks.  Find consensus, avoid edit wars, and remember that there are 3,256,368 articles on the English Wikipedia to work on and discuss.  Act in good faith, never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point, and assume good faith on the part of others.  Be open and welcoming.

Some closing thoughts and questions to ponder…

I’ve been thinking about the underlying drivers’ of etiquette, netiquette, and social behaviors for quite a while.  I’d like to ask you to ponder a few things with me: 

  • Are really people ruder?  
  • Is this a perception or a reality? 
  • Is perception really the reality? 
  • How do you perceive it? 
    • What dimensions do you see it through?  It’s more than words. 
    • I believe it shows up in body language, expression, actions et al. 
    • I’ve observed all the “right words” being used where I can completely read the body language and the underlying motivation differently.
  • Have people lost a level of genuineness?  If so, why might this be happening?
  • How do you think email, texting, twitter, and other on-line social media might have contributed to changes in behaviors?
  • As you project into the future 5, 10, 15, or 20 years, how might changes in children’s behaviors and actions affect business and society in general?

Bottom Line… 

I don’t have any answers, only observations, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs.  While I can’t change others (each person has to change for themselves), I can work to be polite, kind, and considerate in my own little part of the world and in my on-line actions.  To smile at those around me.  Do I always do it right?  Absolutely not.  If I’m wrong or behaved poorly I’ll seek to apologize.  I’ll work to improve.  Nice does not have to mean “fake.” 

No, life’s not all hearts and butterflies as the cynical saying goes, but a smile or two would be most welcome.  A wave, a please, a thank you, and some honest to goodness sincerity too.  I value those individuals I see it in and hope they value it in me too.   As the old saying goes, it takes less muscles to smile than to frown

I’ve also been thinking a lot about a Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana song goes like this… “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it right.” 

Some Background…

The following provoked my thinking and lead to this writing this article today:

Click here for more information regarding how to make a donation to continue building Wikipedia. 

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I was listening to a holiday song that I love called “If Every Day Could be Christmas.”  Every year when I listen to this song, I think about how people often interact differently with others during this time of year.  I think about what it might mean if every day really were like Christmas.  I’ve often wished I could bottle the “holiday spirit” and release it into the world each and every day.  The holiday season is a crazy, busy time of year for most of us.  Yet somehow most people find a way to reach out to others.  To say a kind word.  To give a gift – whether great or small – of time, money, or material goods. 

May Our Wishes Grow and Bloom

May Our Wishes Grow and Bloom

My thoughts about Christmas then turned to wishes.  What I would wish for each day in 2010?  Rather than New Year’s resolutions, I decided to make wishes.  Resolutions look backward and frequently focus on some negative aspect or behavior.  I’ve found that focusing on them simply provides one more way for that “internal gremlin” to get that metaphorical stick out and bash me when I don’t “keep” the resolution.  Most are absolutes, 0/1 situations.  You either do, or you don’t.  There’s no middle ground.  Wishes can be positive and motiviational.  They can be incremental, not absolute.

So here it is, my Christmas Wishes. 

May you find…

Moments of Joy during times of Sorrow.

The strength of Patience in the midst of a Crisis.

A sense of Peace in the midst of Chaos.

May you see…

The spark of life in every living thing.

A sliver lining in every stormy cloud.

A reason to be happy and laugh each and every day.

May you feel…

A sense of purpose in your life.

Compassion for those less fortunate for you.

Love for yourself and from others.

It is my hope and wish for each and every one of you that you find reasons to live joyfully, have many people to love, and share many moments of laughter with others.   

Come celebrate life with me.  Make wishes not resolutions.  Live, love, and laugh out loud.  If you can’t some days that’s ok.  Remember that each day is a new day – you can always start over.  When you need to, get back in bed and get out of the other side.  Not just metaphorically, but physically.  See if it doesn’t help you change your outlook for the day.  You might just start with a laugh.  If it’s with me or at me and my ideas, that’s ok.  Laughter, whatever the trigger, will help recalibrate your day.

Smiles, Laughter, and Joy are contagious.  It’s my wish that you both find some for yourself and to share it with others (me included).  May you find a way for every day to be Christmas and for my Wishes to come true.

Are you marching forward or will you Stop, Look, and Listen?

Are you simply marching forward or will you Stop, Look, and Listen?

In one of my recent bouts of insomnia, the phrase Stop, Look, and Listen came to mind.  I tried to ask my subconscious and unconscious mind why it/they pushed this phrase up to my conscious level.  I really wanted to better understand what it was about that phrase that was contributing to my inability to get the much needed sleep I was craving.  I’ve yet to master getting a direct answer from that subconscious or unconscious mind of mine.  So I moved on to my typical response – creating my own hypotheses and having a dialog with myself at the conscious level.  Yes, I talk with myself regularly.  I just try not to do it out loud.  I can receive funny looks from others when I do. 

Upon reflection, it appeared that my subconscious had been analyzing and connecting together things I had been thinking about at a conscious level for the last couple of days.  It had been working in the background and wanted to share a connection it had made.  Below are some of the things that I had been thinking about at the conscious level.

  • The impacts of operating in an environment of constant chaos. 
    • What causes this to develop as a culturally accepted practice, to be the “norm”? 
    • What is the root cause for this behavior?
    • What is the impact of working in that manner for extended periods of time?
    • What level of stress results from this?
    • What coping mechanisms have individuals developed over time?
    • How might one go about influencing and potentially changing this aspect of a culture? 
  • Motivational factors. 
    • That individuals want to be recognized as that, individuals.
    • How different people are motivated by different things.  Not necessarily how some people are motivated by the US dollar, some by the Euro, and some by the Yen as my friend and colleague Tim Stephens responded them I commented on Linked In that I was thinking about this.
  • Value and belief systems, including the concepts of Integrity, Honesty, and Trustworthiness
    • What do these words really imply? 
    • How are they valued or not valued?
    • Where did I observe and/or experience these attributes? 
    • What is their importance in business and personal relationships? 
    • What causes “broken trust?”
  • What needs to and/or can be changed in an environment of constant chaos? 
    • Would better time management help? 
    • Does the client understand the difference between Important vs. Urgent? 
    • Why are the “squeaky wheels” so squeaky?  What is the root cause?
    • What goals are they focusing on – as individuals, as a group, or as a department? 
    • What “out-of-the-box” ideas might reduce stress and the feeling of chaos?
  • Who can help them change?
    • What does it mean to be a leader?
    • What can leaders do to help others embrace change?
    • What is my current role?
    • How far “out of bounds” should I go to help them?
    • What does it really means to be a “Change Agent?”  Not the textbook definition, but who actually causes change to occur and why.

It was interesting (at least to me) that my unconscious mind connected all of these with a single rule that we teach children.  If you don’t know the rule that I am talking about, it relates to crossing a street.  You stop, look both ways, and listen for vehicles before crossing the street.  This is not a rule I have thought about in several years – at least not at a conscious level. 

How often do we all consciously Stop, Look, and Listen?  How might remembering this phrase influence us as adults?  What if we take as an action to consciously stop several times a day?  To raise our heads from our desks, cubes, offices, or other work environments we are in – to really listen to those around us.  Maybe both passively and actively.  Not just listening to the words used, but thinking through the contributing factors and motivations.  How often do we really try to understand each other – at more than a surface level?  How often do we simply reflect?  What would we learn if we observed and processed more and reacted less?

What’s going on around you at work, with your friends, with your family, in your environment?  What could you better understand, influence or change if you stopped trying to go forward so fast, gathered input both directly and perceptually, and gave your brain time to process information before reacting?  As a result of pondering on these topics Covey’s phrase “Seek to Understand before being Understood” came to mind as well as the phrase “sometimes you need to go slow, to go fast”. 

I personally find it amazing and fascinating how our brain works.  Have you ever stopped long enough to appreciate what your brain can actually do and does every day?  The things that we can process mentally and process differently than a computer is truly worth thinking about.  We have the ability to leap over areas, not always thinking linearly.  Anyone who has worked with me (or even talked with me for very long) can attest to the fact that my brain will sometimes leap all over the place.  There are always connections – nodes and synaptic connections as I think of them.  However, what comes out of my mouth has sometimes skipped along 4 or 5 of them.

I’m going to challenge myself to consciously remember to Stop, Look, and Listen more often.  Will you join me?  You might just be surprised at the connections your brain makes.  I was.

A shout out of THANKS to my friend and colleague Long for reviewing this pondering and providing feedback.  His insights are always appreciated.

Note:  In case you are wondering where my brain will go next, my current blog topic list (which I maintain by emailing ideas to myself) includes writing more on Time Management, Change Agents, Covey, Active Listening, Empathy – EQ vs. IQ, Important vs. Urgent, and “going slow to go fast”.  Mental models and further discussions regarding how the brain processes information are also “in the works”.  This can alternately be described as percolating in the subconscious level. 

Some blogs will give you advice, other tools and “rules of thumb”, others are written with the intent of making you think.  I hope that this one made you think a little more today and will help you Stop, Look, and Listen a little more tomorrow.  I also hope to make you laugh along the way.  Hopefully you’ve already figured that out – if not…

SN Intentions 09 17 09 - 1177581_39368842I have recently been participating in what is essentially the same discussion across multiple LinkedIn Groups.  It’s interesting to observe (and appreciate) the frustrations felt by many when the sales, marketing, and “connect with me” messages overtake the discussions.  There are many of us on-line who value the discussions – the ability to connect and to learn.  In many ways, the social networking tools have replaced the old “water cooler” discussions.  That, and the periodic after work stop at a local “watering hole”. 

To me what underlies the frustration is the intention.  The intention of the person posting is to get something from the interaction rather than giving something or learning something.  Yes, building relationships is important – both personally and professionally. However, there are multiple ways to build the relationship and the intentions often shine through whether you realize it or not.  Good, lasting relationships are most frequently the result of interactions where the intention was focused on giving or learning, solving a problem, or delivering a project together.

Intentions underlie everything in life.  Have you stopped to think about your intentions?  How those intentions might be perceived by others?  How your underlying intentions might actually be getting in the way of what you really need? 

What are my intentions in this blog?  Simply to share thoughts, provoke thinking, foster introspection, and improve business operations through influencing one person at a time.  If you refer back to the first post, I do believe that together can build a revolution for a better business environment.

For those of you frustrated by what you see occurring in your Social Network (SN), don’t just vent, take action.  Here are a few ideas:

  • First, check your own behaviors.  Ensure you are consistent.
  • Suggest a function change to the SN tool if appropriate.  Are people using a specific feature incorrectly because there is no alternative?
  • Contact the individual privately.  Send a note to the person who posted the discussion point.  Open a dialog directly with them to understand their intentions and provide feedback on how you perceived them.  When doing this, I have found individuals did not realize how they were coming across.
  • Respond publicly.  Put your thoughts out there.  But, be polite, not confrontational.
  • Remove yourself from groups.  We add, but do we stop and remove ourselves if the group adds no value to our online interactions.
  • Change your settings.  Reduce which items are pushed to you and which you visit when you want.

Happy Networking!  May you build valuable personal and professional relationships over time.  I have.   A Shout Out to one of my new SN friends and Jana, who reviewed this posting for me.


The Revolution of One

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Wikipedia defines revolution as follows:

A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.

Amidst the corporate chaos and on-going organizational changes there lies a source of power, power for change. There are the People.

People come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and viewpoints. There are many, many viewpoints. Sometimes it seems like too many. Have you heard the joke that if you ask 4 recruiters their opinion on a resume you will get 5 answers? If you’ve been looking for a job lately you know that this is not just a joke, often a reality.

Often the different viewpoints seem opposed and are a source of chaos, but if you seek to understand not just respond, they can be a great source of information and power. How often do you stop to try and truly understand another’s viewpoint and how they reached their own personal conclusions? What attitude do you bring to the interaction? Are you focused on listening to a different viewpoint or are you focused on winning an argument?

Each and every day we make a series of decisions regarding how we interact with each other. How actively do we listen? How thoughtful are our responses? Are we working together? Is it a “we” or a “me” moment? Are we focused on our part of the organization or the effectiveness of the organization as a whole? Are we trying to understand how the decisions we make today impact other areas of the business or organization? Are we focused on the past or on the future? Are we playing the “blame game” or are we expending our energy working to resolve a situation the best way possible?

When you interact with others today are you going to be a 0 (Off) or a 1 (On)?

Attitude truly does make a difference. The Beatles sang of One being the loneliest number yet in the Matrix we saw how significant the impact of “The One” could truly be. We can all be Agents of Change. The revolution starts with yourself and your attitude, not with others and theirs. We can influence others but we can only truly change ourselves.

Binary language focuses on Zero and One, Off and On. There are studies showing that when collaboration is involved, the sum can be greater than the individual parts. Where One + One + One = Four not Three. Where there is the addition of understanding and alignment of objectives vs. the subtraction of position and personal power plays.

When you interact with others today and make decisions related to your job, your department, your organization and programs, are you going to be a 0 (Off) or a 1 (On)?

Faith Fuqua-Purvis is the founder of Synergetic Solutions LLC, a consulting firm specializing in Strategic Change. She is a strategic thinker, a proactive leader and an experienced coach, helping business implement transformational changes by aligning people, organizational structures, and operational activities with business strategies. You can find her complete profile at LinkedIn.

Photo credit: clix    This article first appeared on The CIO Assistant’s Blog on July 1st.

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes