Showing posts with label Common Sense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Common Sense. Show all posts

August 6, 2018

A Three-Party System

Yeah, these signs say a lot about our two-party system of government. 
"Republican: Because everyone can't be on welfare."

"Democrat: Because everyone can't be greedy."

Sort of the age old story of competing interests. 

Certainly also a good dose of Fear vs. Greed. 

And where the rich get richer and the poor get welfare.

It's good to have the 2 extremes of the political thinking spectrum, because it shows us perhaps where the middle is. 

Neither extreme is good, but rather it's a balancing act. 

We can't have more than 50% of the wealth owned by the top 1% of the people. 

And we can't have everyone on entitlements where no one is working, innovating, and producing. 

Yes of course, some people will have more than others and some people will need help. 

There needs to be motivation to "get ahead" and there must be a social safety net for when bad things happen. 

This is life.

But the to extent that we can have the most people in respectable jobs earning a reasonable (true living) wage and that there is equitable prosperity to go around for everyone--this is ideal.

Really 2-parties is not enough, because extremes tend to get more extreme--this is the momentum of polarization and politicization until the extremes tear us apart. 

Instead we need a strong centrist party (or parties)--that can not only play to, but also execute the middle of the road approach. 

It's not all or nothing, but rather compromise to a logical and reasonable solution on every issue. 

No, we don't want to get rid of ICE, and we don't want open borders. 

No we don't want entitlements that bankrupt the nation, and we don't want people down on their luck going needy. 

No, we don't want women who have been raped or incested or otherwise can't raise their children being forced to have them, and we don't want babies being murdered in the late stages of pregnancy. 

No we don't want to blow up the planet, and we don't want our enemies besting us. 

We don't want pollution in our air, water, and streets, and we don't want to strangle the economy with endless and mindless regulation. 

And on and on. 

It's high time to move to the center where common sense reigns.

It overdue to have a legitimate 3+ party system that talks real solutions to the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2018

Agile Doesn't Mean Endless

So Agile development is great for iteratively working closely with customers to develop and refine information systems that are useful to them and the organization.

But even in Agile, there is a beginning and an end to the sprint planning and project management.

Taking Agile to somehow mean endless in terms of adding more and more requirements or scope creep is not what is intended. 

Agile has to be bound by common sense somewhere between what is needed for a minimally viable product (MVP) and what is achievable with the designated resources, objective, and scope. 

Good project managers always have to be sound arbiters and be willing to ask the tough questions and determine if something is truly a requirement or simply a wish list item that is out of scope (but of course, could perhaps make it in for future enhancements).

We need to understand the difference between genuine customer service and irrational project exuberance. 

It's not a dangerous project bubble we want to create that can and will get busted, but rather a successful project that is delivered for our customers that help them do their jobs better, faster, and cheaper.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 30, 2018

Dumb Socks

So have you ever gone to the shoe store, but you forgot to wear socks. 

Well, this is what you get to try-on shoes.

These absolutely crappy, thin, brownish wades of disposable nylon socks. 

How completely unappealing--especially piled up like this and looking like they are getting reused again and again. 

The try-on socks look shitty, feel shitty, and don't help you try-on anything, because they aren't the same density or texture as regular socks. 

Talk about penny wise and dollar foolish--if the store won't even invest in a proper pair of socks for their customers, then how much do they value their business? 

How about an intelligent shoe store with a little class that actually has some real pairs of socks for their customers, and when you're done they send them out to the cleaners or maybe even let you keep the pair if you buy the shoes!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2017

Wrapped In Bubble Wrap

So I thought this was an interesting risk management strategy...

One colleague joked with me that:
"Everyone should just wrap themselves in bubble wrap!"

Reminded me of that game where people put on big wearable inflatable bumpers and then smash into each other for fun.

The problem though is that sometimes we put on the bubble wrap, bulletproof vest, or seat belt, but then we get stupidly overconfident. 

We think we are protected, but nothing human in impenetrable. 

So the person with the seat belt and air bag drives too fast and off a cliff and still gets him/herself killed. 

Or the person with the bulletproof vest gets shot with a high caliber armor piercing shell or in the back of the head.

Like on many cars, where the mirror says, "objects in mirror are closer than they appear," we need not over rely on safety, protective, and risk measures and still do stupid things.

One guy told me, he backed up into the wall in the garage, because he thought there was more room and that's not how things looked in the mirror. 

Let's face it, there is no bubble wrap that can fully protect us from life. 

Everyday we face risks out there, and we need to manage them with common sense or else... ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 3, 2017

Manage The Crisis and Don't Exploit It

So I heard an interesting thought on crisis management:
"Never let a good crisis go to waste!"

Isn't that frequently how politicians and lobbyists use the crisis, rather than deal with it. 

In certain cases, some have even been known to actually create the crisis for their ends!

Whether it's some politicians calling for strict gun control when there is a mass shooting (perhaps infringing on other reasonable 2nd amendment rights) or it's right to life advocates demanding an end to funding for planned parenthood when some bad people are caught selling fetal body parts and so on and so on.

Maybe these things are the right thing to do--in which case, a very bad event can end up being an impetus for much needed change and thus, can facilitate in transforming society and from that perspective, be a good thing!

But is the change really and necessarily the right thing to do...or is the crisis de jure just an excuse to get what some people wanted all  along.

- Use (exploit) the crisis.

- Maximize the momentum from the crisis.

- Leverage the emotions from the crisis.

- Promptly turn the tables on the issue.

- Leave all compromise and negotiation aside, and seize the moment.

The lesson here is not to just react, because a sudden and impulsive decision may end up being an overreaction and cause negative unintended consequences down the road.

The pendulum tends to shift and swing widely in both directions--neither extreme is good.

Instead well thought policy, use of common sense, maintaining reasonableness, looking at all sides, and a general middle of the road approach usually yields the best results for the most people.

Crisis management should be just that--managing the crisis; the policy should be fully reasoned both before and after. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2016

Why Would ANYONE Close Gitmo?

So over and over again, we read about the desire and promise by some to close Guantanamo Bay ("Gitmo")--the prison for terrorists against the U.S. 

What are the reasons given and do they make any sense?

1) It's costly--Yeah, it's costly to house prisoners, especially incredibly dangerous ones like terrorists who commit mass murder like in 9/11, but what is the cost of letting them go free, especially when the known recidivism rate of the released detainees is close to 29%!

2) It inspires other terrorists--Really, since when does imprisoning bad apples inspire other bad apples. Isn't one of the well-recognized and intended purposes of incarceration is to dissuade and deter bad behavior, as well as to rehabilitate. Even according to those who question the effectivenss of the deterrent capability of prison, studies show that it should be used to "incapacitate offendors (particularly, those of a chronic, higer risk nature)." In other words, we need to take and keep the terrorists off the battlefield!

Can an argument be made to bring the terrorists into prisons on American soil? Sure, but it makes a lot more common sense not to bring terrorists into the American heartland and risk further violence and danger to our citizens from known terrorists and their jihadist associates. 

Additionally, after 9/11 and the loss of almost 3,000 people, our brave U.S. serviceman and women spent a lot of time and hard work and risked their own lives to capture these dangerous terrorists...why would we want to release the terrorists endangering our military and our citizens all over again (especially when the threat has not abated--see below)?

Has the threat of terrorism gone away that we can say the war on terror is over and so let's send the terrorists home (the question itself almost sounds ludicrous for anyone living in the age of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and more)?  Well, according to the RAND research experts, "there has been an INCREASE in the number of Salafi-Jihadist groups, fighters, and attacks." 

And after the recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, the downing of the Russia airliner, and many other terror strikes, it is no surpurse that "Americans name terrorism as the No. 1 U.S. problem."

Perhaps, this helps us understand why Congress is blocking the closing of Gitmo, and why none of us should be able to understand why violent, dangerous terrorist detainees are continuing to be released to hurt U.S. citizens again.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to JBrazito)
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December 19, 2015

Politics Has Us Lost

So we've become a nation that only seems to be moving, but yet is heading nowhere fast.  

Shock and awe and "sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Think about it!

Where are we going?

- Are we growing, innovating, leading. 

- Are we spreading our ideals of freedom, human rights, and democracy.

- Are we a nation the defends those in need and is a refuge for those under duress.

- Are we a country that is safe and secure from threats external and internal. 

- Are we united and heading in a clear direction with a strategy and making incremental steps towards our goals.

- Where are we on critical programs for the future from genuinely protecting our environment with binding agreements to investments in our space program to discover, travel, and build our destiny beyond just here. 

- Do we have the love and respect of our friends and the fear of those that are against our way of life.

- Are the decisions that are being made bringing together those from across the political aisle and are they particularly fruitful in terms of making a real difference in people's lives or in our future.

- Why is the system so broken and we don't even hear any real ideas anymore about how to fix it.

- Why do we hear about Obamacare, trade deals, deals with Iran, deals over global warming, deals over Syria, budget deals, yet don't see or feel any tangible differences in our lives--or feel any passion from those making the decisions.

- Where is the grand vision to really put a man on Mars, solve poverty, or cure cancer.

- Why is Russia grabbing what they want with Crimea, planning a permanent station on the moon, and creating air and naval bases in Syria and we can't even train some rebels to fight.

- Why are we afraid to call radical Islamic terrorism what it is and to fight them over there before they come over here.

- Why do we bounce back and forth unable to overcome basic problems like with our flailing education system first centralizing federally with "No Child Left Behind" and then decentralizing to the States with "Every Student Succeeds."

- Why do we reign in the budget one year with Sequestration only to expand the budget with unpaid tax cuts the next.

- Why do we call for a strong military and then cut their budget and undercut their mandate to get their job done. 

- Why do we stress the importance of cybersecurity, but then lose the security clearances and personnel information of the entire federal, intelligence, and military workforce.

- Why do we let in terrorists and criminals to our country and are then surprised when they commit violent acts against our people. 

- Why do we hurt allies and embrace enemies.

- Why do we stymie debate and opposition disrespecting others, calling them horrible names, threatening them, and working to destroy them instead of embracing healthy debate and compromise. 

- Why do we claim transparency, but then hide behind obscurity. 

This could be the list that never ends, which goes on and on my friends, some rationale people started asking common sense questions, not knowing how broken this system was, and they'll just keep questioning it forever just because...it makes no sense. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 14, 2015

Getting Your Message Out With Impact

There is an old Jewish parable about the body parts arguing which is most important. 

Each makes it's case that without that part, we just couldn't function. (No jokes here now!)

But in the end, the tongue that harnesses the power of speech demonstrates that it is most important, because it is through our words that we may live or die. 

- Say the right thing--something smart and influence the masses--and you can change or even save the world.

- Say the wrong thing--something stupid, inflammatory, and damaging--and it can literally mean your or someone else's life.

From an early age, we come to recognize that communication is so important to our success. 

Hey, I need a bottle or diaper changed...please!

Or answer the (interview) questions well, and you can land yourself in the best schools and jobs and even with the best ladies. :-)

Those that succeed with communication, can we make themselves and their positions heard, understood, and accepted.

What are some common communication strategies people employ?

Well as we've all learned, it's not always the one who is the boldest, screams the loudest, or repeats themselves the most that wins the argument--although at times, that too can work when force of debate, undeterred passion, and a little crazy can hammer the points home. 

Having the best laid out and most rationale argument--some people will rightfully be influenced by logic and common sense. 

Sincerity, integrity, honesty, and appealing to people's gut and emotions--this certainly goes a long way as many people are driven by their feelings as well as their instincts and genuine character assessment of others. 

Making people confront what scares the hell out of them--fear is a big motivator for action and everyone is afraid of something and usually many things. 

Oh, of course, the religious argument that "It's what G-d wants" and there will be fire and brimstone if you don't do it that way--well reward and punishment, heaven and hell, divine justice--that certainly will move masses. 

"The pen is mightier than the sword."

For those who can effectively harness the power of their speech and intellect, the sky is the limit. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 19, 2015

Come Back In A Month!

This is the crux of the problem with the verification clause in the Iran Nuclear WMD Deal.

In a nutshell:

"Can I check your suspected site for dangerous nuclear WMD?"

"No!"

"Ok, I'll come back in 24 days."

"Great, thank you--have a nice day."

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chaim Haberfeld, Facebook)
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October 26, 2014

Don't Worry About It--Yeah Right!

Lately, with the Ebola outbreak, primarily in Africa, but unfortunately also spreading here into the U.S., we are hearing refrains from politicians and pundits, not to be afraid.

- It won’t come here.
- It’s hardly contagious.
- Out health care system is superior.
- It’s all under control.

But what we are finding is that the reassurances are mostly empty words to calm a growing restless public, who are justifiably afraid, and see little to no action from their leaders.

- Ebola has come here to Texas, Maryland, and New York.
- Experts now admit that you can even get Ebola from sweat on the bus, and they blame broken protocols (as yet to be identified) that inflected 2 nurses in Texas.
- Yes, our health system is superior, but we are mostly inexperienced with dealing with a true pandemic.
- Define, “It’s under control” as the CDC is now projecting 1.4M infected by January (and growing exponentially)!

This is like the old adage that we are always trying to fight the last war, and not preparing with an open mind for what the next one will look like.

Similarly, we fail again and again to predict the threats and risks that confront us...Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Depressions/ Severe Recessions, ISIS, and much more are evidence of this.

FDR said “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” but this is dead wrong.

I am afraid that we are not fearing enough (or that even worse, we are afraid to fear)--when this is perhaps of as great, if not of greater importance to adequately preparing ourselves to the immense challenges ahead of us.

Fear can cause paralysis or even chaos, but fear can also drive intelligent preparation, innovation, and life-saving measures.

Lately, many have said to me that unhealthy eating or gun violence is what we should fear and act on, and I think this is truly narrow vision.

We can’t live with heads in the sand, because there are multiple issues that we must confront.

True, we don’t have unlimited resources to address everything 100%, but as I’ve been telling people, we can worry about multiple issues (and I certainly do), work to address them with common sense—in other words, walk and chew gum at the same time!

Everyone seems to have their pet peeve issue that they want politicians to address, but we don’t have the luxury of paying attention to those that big mouths, lobbyists or politicians elevate to fear factor status, and ignoring others that may pose real significant threats to us. 

Frankly, I would rather be a little needlessly afraid, but more thoughtful, prepared/protected, and ahead-of-the-curve in addressing issues, than fearless, foolhardy, not ready, and extremely sorry later. 

While Ebola may or may not be catastrophic to us, when you hear coldly, almost matter-of-factly, “Don’t worry about it,” while thousands are dying and many more horrific deaths are at hand, and we are told by the U.N. that there is no real plan if things continue to go south, then be afraid, be very afraid--and let that guide you to creative problem-solving, and not deer in the headlights inaction. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2014

Welcome Ebola To America!

While our self-declared intelligentsia has decided to keep the commercial flights open to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, experts are predicting that new ebola cases will reach 10,000 per week by December!

Moreover, the United Nations has warned that if Ebola is not controlled within the next 60 days, "the world faces an 'unprecedented situation' for which there is no plan."


But by the time, we get our political will and act together, who knows...


What isn't helping are publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, with another classic asinine article this time by Charles Kenny who writes--get this--that "A Travel Ban Is a Terrible Idea."


While Kenny acknowledges "Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infection" dating back already to the Middle Ages, Kenny is concerned about the "trade-offs" of quarantining the source countries--"because the benefits of contact outweigh the risks"--i.e. "People want to travel to see family and friends, visits places, work, or invest."


Well Mr. Kenny, how about that people want to live and not die because of the irresponsible spread of this deadly virus? Two-thirds of the public, as well as many in Congress, and the media have already called for a common sense temporary travel ban. 


Kenny then goes on to exaggerate and talk about how laughable it is that we would "completely seal off the U.S. from the rest of the world" even though what we are talking about are just the countries where this deadly infection is currently raging. 


Further, Kenny is concerned not about containing the disease and protecting the more than 300,000,000 people in this country, but about the possibility that a ban on commercial flights "will deter people from volunteering to work in the region"--here again, Kenny ignores that specialized, trained people from the military, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and more are already being deployed--although too little too late. 


Incredibly, Kenny even compares Ebola to the common flu, and intimates that since we don't quarantine for the seasonal flu, why should we do it for Ebola--uh, Mr. Kenny have you heard that Ebola has a 70% mortality rate!

Finally, Kenny says in his defeatist way, "We live in a global disease pool. In the end, once a disease begins to spread, there's no escaping an infection."


Hello Mr. Kenny, we have a responsibility to prevent and protect our people--there is no place for your throwing in the towel on all of us--what a shame that Bloomberg makes this dangerous rhetoric the Opening Remarks for their magazine. 


There is long established protocol of quarantine to stop the spread of infection--not that it would necessarily be 100% successful, but at least it would help contain and control the spread from getting worse, and we would learn to improve as we go along, and live to fight and save more lives now and in the future.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 31, 2013

Unjust Justice

The Wall Street Journal quotes U.S. District Judge Richard G. Kopf who offered advice to young judges, as follows: 

"It's not your job to save the world. Do law, leave justice to Clint Eastwood."

What a notion he has--that it is not a judges job to mete out justice--how (oxy)moronic!

Instead, the judge says that is for vigilantes like Clint Eastwood's role in Dirty Harry (or perhaps Charles Bronson in Death Wish).

While I understand that the law is the law, you would think that a judge's role is to not only ensure that it is applied evenly, but also that it is meted out fairly.

As it says in the Torah/Bible (Deuteronomy 16:20), "Justice, Justice shall you pursue."

It is not enough for the "justice system" to enforce laws brainlessly, but the role of the judicial branch is to interrupt the law so that justice results.

What a contrast to even the bumbling inspector, Clouseau, in the movie, The Pink Panther, who knows "Yuri, the trainer who trains," but some of our judges don't seem to know that they are judges who sit in judgement. 

So much for "jurisprudence"--but without any prudence!

Doing law, without pursuing justice is like dehydrated water in this picture--empty and good for nothing. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 23, 2013

Mothers Against Shaving Driving

So you think drinking and driving is bad...it is!

But look what this person is doing while driving. 

No, not texting.

No, not putting on makeup.

This guy is actually shaving while driving an automobile, and he's at an intersection. 

What is he thinking?

Are people really that busy that they can't find a few minutes to shave in the morning in the bathroom?

Of course when this guy has an accident, G-d forbid, he'll make up some shameful lying story to get himself off the hook.

Oh, it was the other person's fault or the accelerator stuck--it's defective.

Where are people's sensibilities? 

Here's a band-aid for the nick you got while shaving this morning. 

Next time use a bigger mirror and keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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October 13, 2013

Shortsighted Government Is Selfish Politics


So I am at the pool today in Maryland. 

This old man--looks about 100, yes really!--comes up to me and starts a conversation. 

He says, you know what--my friend in California is 99-years old and he just got his driver's license renewed--for 5 years!

Imagine that--can the State of California with confidence really issue a 5-year driver's license to someone at that age and believe that both the drivers' safety and public safety is provided for?

Yes, the problems at the Federal government level are ginormous--the national debt, the level of social entitlements, the "true" unemployment rate, the poverty level, our failing healthcare system, and more. 

Still we cannot forget that some of the most important services that citizens get are at the State and Local levels of government--police, fire & rescue, transportation, community development, family planning, and more. 

For government to function effectively--we need all levels to act rationally, responsibly, and with care for the people in mind--both short-term and long-term. 

Issuing 5-year driver's license to 99-year old individuals can have a devastating impact on someone family if that person loses control of their vehicle due to their physical or mental condition.

Similarly, issuing social entitlements (and they may indeed be needed) without a realistic plan for funding the system is irresponsible and can have a catastrophic impact to families around the nation when the system comes up short.

Government has to run with common sense--and stop setting up rules that are shortsighted and blind to the bigger picture. 

Yes, people deserve to drive and to have medical care and so forth, but politicians should set up these systems, so that the people are really served, and not just their political agendas. ;-)

(Source Video: Michelle Blumenthal)
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September 5, 2013

Microsoft + Nokia = HP + Palm

Microsoft buying Nokia is a desperate play at mobile computing.

Unfortunately, the purchase doesn't add up  in terms of common business sense. 

Remember, in 2010, when HP bought Palm for $1.2B?

Palm once held 70% of the smartphone market to fall to only 4.9% share at the time that HP bought it and committed to "double down on WebOS."

Now, fast forward to 2013 and Microsoft is buying Nokia for $7.2B, with a mobile software market share of about 4% combined (compared to their prior Windows desktop operating system market share of over 90%) and ZDNet reporting that it was "double down or quit."

When HP bought Palm, it was a hardware maker buying software; now with Microsoft buying Nokia, it is the software maker buying the hardware vendor.

But in both cases, it's the same losing proposition. 

In 2010, at the time that HP bought Palm, Stephen Elop was leaving Microsoft to become CEO of Nokia (and in 2011 Nokia made the deal for a "strategic partnership" with Microsoft).

Now in 2013, when Microsoft is buying Nokia, HP has thrown in the towel and just sold off the remnants of Palm O/S to LG Electronics.

Ballmer is right that Apple and Google do not have a permanent monopoly on mobile computing, but purchasing Nokia is not the answer. 

Microsoft's stock is down more than 5% on the day of the merger announcement...and there is more pain to come from this acquisition and Microsoft's hubris. 

Buy more outdated technology, and you've bought nothing, but change the culture to innovate, design, and integrate, and you've changed your organization's fortunes. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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December 24, 2012

Never Thought I'd Be Up There


Somewhere between 600-1000 feet up in the air. 

Suspended by a parasail wing (like a parachute).

Teethered to a moving speed boat. 

With a birds eye view of the beaches, hotels, ocean, clouds, sun, and more.

I had always thought of myself as afraid of heights, but I guess it turns out I'm really not. 

It was calm--peaceful up there--like sitting in G-d's very hands. 

Before we went up, I asked my daughter if she was scared. 

She said to me: "No Dad. I am fearful of G-d. He is all powerful. But I have faith that He will protect me."

I appreciate her faith and adventurism, but while encouraging her to learn new things and have fun, I also caution her to be careful and use good common sense.

I guess that's the balance in life that I strive for and that I try to teach my kids--push yourself past your comfort zone to learn and grow, but not too far that you fall on your face (or in the ocean)!

In the end, it is probably my wife and kids that challenge me to be "more"--they've gotten me to do things that I never thought I would--and this was one of them.  Believe it or not, blogging is a close 2nd!  ;-) 

Anyway, we're already talking about (and looking forward) to the next adventure--please G-d it will be wonderful as well.

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September 23, 2012

The Dumbest Parent, No Really

So we took our daughter out to shoot some arrows.


She was really good, shooting off one after another and hitting the bullseye way down field.

Of course, when I gave it a try, I couldn't even hit the side of a barn.
Next to us, at the range, where two girls and their mother.

The girls were jumping around with their bows, grabbing the arrows, and popping off shots at a target set at a distance appropriate for their age.

What comes next is the dumbest and most irresponsible parent I've seen for some time.

The mother yells out to the girls--"Hey, I'd like to take a picture of you guys!"

Then she goes over to them and pulls them off the range and faces them at each other about a foot apart--with their bows and arrows pointed at each other!

The girls not understanding the danger they are in and playing around as kids do--pull the strings on the bows back to pose for the shot--literally, and with the mother egging them on. 

I am feeling like I am watching a horrible accident about to unfold in front of my eyes.

I say politely, but with obvious fear and concern, "Stop!--the girls are pointing the arrows at each other--that's dangerous!"

But the mother, puts her finger up as if to hush me, and says emphatically that she just wants to take a picture and "it's so cute."

I am watching what appears to be the younger of the girls--the one on the right--start dancing around with the bow and arrow, pulling back and pointing right at the other girl--who in turn mimics her and does the same back.

At this point my wife joins me, and we are not sure how to stop this or whether its time to take cover, while the mother continues to ignore any semblance of safety and refuses to pull back from her cherished photo op of the children.

This mother was not just dumb, but completely irresponsible--for the safety of her kids and everyone else around on the court.

When the "photo shoot" was over--and the kids let the strings go and ran back to the range, we sighed a sigh of relief that nothing worse had happened.

A number of days later, I found myself doing some strategic planning and using the Force Field Analysis tool.

In the Force Field Analysis, we try to identify and examine the driving and limiting forces for and against change, and more importantly the actions we can take for influencing each force. 

Usually, we view the forces for change as something positive, and the limiting forces as a hinderance, blocking our goal achievement. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that while change can be positive when undertaken for the right reasons, there are times when restraint is necessary as well. 

For example, in applying this to the situation at the archery range--the parent is hell-bent on taking the photo no matter the forces for restraint to prevent a serious accident happening to her kids or to others around them. In this case, some parental restraint would have been appropriate. From an influencing perspective, probably some much better supervision at the range would have been in order. 

To me, it was interesting to think about it in this context and contemplate how to tip the forces for change or restraint to where they need to be depending on the situation--whether it is a good goal and a good time to pursue it, or not. 

Also, it is worth noting how challenging it can be to influence driving and restraining forces, especially when dealing with ignorance, foolhardiness, or people who may just refuse to listen to reason.

As leaders, the Force Field Analysis can be a useful framework not just for planning, but for trying to understand our environment and how best we can shape the events around us--no matter how quickly or dangerously they may unfold.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 28, 2012

Dress For Success?

This picture is from the train home from work this week. 

This lady took the opportunity to literally sprawl herself out on the train.

She had a rolling briefcase with the arm fully extended.

To which she casually hung her jacket with the collar sloppily up.

She slumped up in the seat, and then took off her shoe and put her foot up on the briefcase.

Then she began curling her toes--back and forth--while she listened to her iPod or iPhone (not sure which it was).

Later she threw her handbag under her seat behind her shoe.

Must've been a tough day for her or is this just her way?

I remember learning from my early days in MBA school that you should always dress at least one level up (or more)--i.e. make yourself look the the part of the job you really want.

If you see yourself in that position and can make others see you in that role too then eventually you'll be the guy or gal!

I've seen people dress up and down in the office--of course, the ones that spend the money and take the time and effort to dress for success, look pretty impressive.

At the same time, the clothing and accessories, while they may help the person look put together--sometimes are nothing more than "lipstick on a pig"--the clothes disguise the true person--and they are not very impressive on the inside.

I've heard some successful people in town preach that how you dress is absolutely critical and they chide others for not straightening their belt and shining their shoes.

This past week, I heard the opposite from someone who said he looks at people in the hot summer weather, and if they are dressed in a "coat and tie," then he writes them off, since they don't have even the basic common sense to dress for the season.  This guy, while himself a boss, was literally in a t-shirt in the office!

I personally always sort of liked the Silicon Valley--high-tech dress code--like Steve Jobs--a black tee (or turtle--too hot for me) with jeans and maybe a relaxed sports coat--comfortable and freeing yet sort of casually-classy.

While some people say that the dress makes the person, I think that what is inside is what really counts--although talking off your shoes on train is not going to win you any promotions or brownie points, for sure. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 10, 2012

Oh Deer!

This is an amazing photo by my daughter, Michelle Blumenthal. 

This deer just tried to jump a fence, but got impaled right through its neck--yikes! 

Truly a life lesson--it is good to reach high for what you want, but not to overreach. 

It really is a fine balance and takes self-awareness, discipline, and some good fortune. 

We have to know how much and how quickly to push ourselves to grow past prior limitations, but also recognize just how far we can make it on the next leap. 

Maybe that's one reason an incremental or phased approach is good.

It enables us to move ever forward, carefully planning and navigating our next steps, while hopefully not getting unnecessarily hung up by the life obstacles we must overcome. 

Good luck everyone!

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April 29, 2010

Needed: User-centric Enterprise Architecture Now!


Article from New York Times, 27 February 2010, called "We Have Met the Enemy and He is Powerpoint" should be titled "We Need User-centric Enterprise Architecture Now!"

"Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti. “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter."

As the article later points out, "No one is suggesting that PowerPoint is to blame," but rather the problem is in how we architect solutions and communicate information about this to our users.

No more spaghetti charts, please. No more convoluted, eyesores masquerading as useful information. No more blah, blah, blah, gobble-de-gook writing. No more architecture that go nowhere, but in circles.

We need to use common sense when we think, architect, and communicate or even the wisest of generals and his advisors will be laughing their heads off at what is fallaciously presented as information.


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