Showing posts with label Maturity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maturity. Show all posts

August 29, 2019

Go Years of Retirement

Thought this was an interesting perspective on retirement.

There are three phases:

1) Go-Go:  You retire and are eager to enjoy your newfound freedom, and you spend the time and money to really do the pursuits and travel that you always wanted. 

2) Slow-Go: After the initial adventurism and spending, you settle in some more and spend your time on quiet activities, socializing, and relaxing. 

3) No-Go: This is the wind down phase, where you spend most of your time at home and at a certain point, may need some assistance to do everyday activities. 

Obviously, the last phase is sort of depressing, but it too is a part of life.  

Like a bell-shaped curve, we are born, grow, mature, and then decline.

This is the cycle of life for every living thing. 

It takes maturity and courage to face it and to make the most out of every single moment that we are blessed with.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 6, 2019

Arrogance And A Messy Head

While sometimes children behave like "know-it-alls"...

Often an attempt to showcase what they've learned or to build their self-confidence. Sometimes, it's also to bully others.  

More unusual though is to find an adult that thinks and actually says they know it all. 

But sure enough, I ran into someone who told me (about technology):
"I know everything!"

And they said it with a straight face. 

Literally, they told me how they came up through the ranks and knew EVERYTHING with emphasis!

Moreover, they told me that if I didn't know something, I should go ahead and ask them because they would most definitely know it.

So I respect all people and certainly admire those who are knowledgable and talented in their fields. 

But something felt very wrong about an adult who feels that they have to go around bragging about the depth of their knowledge--and that their knowledge is apparently infinite (at least that's what they espoused). 

I wondered to myself--is the person arrogant and a big mouth or the opposite--lacking in self confidence and therefore needing to boast and show off to compensate for their inadequacies?

When they were talking, it seemed like their head was getting so big and full of themself that it would just explode!

Most adults with emotional intelligence realize how little they know, and the older they get the more they realize that they don't know in life. 

Especially, people of faith recognize that G-d is all-knowing and all-powerful, and we are but mere "flesh and blood" and truly just a speck of dust in the universe.

So truly smart people are humble and they look to learn from others, rather than preach and teach in a monologue of hubris.

Like many people that get too big for the britches, G-d usually brings them back down to Earth and their head to size.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 1, 2018

Expect Less <> Appreciate More

I thought this was a great saying in the Wall Street Journal book review today.

"Expect Less, Appreciate More."

Many people in their late 30s and early 40s become disillusioned with life. 

They have been on the treadmill chasing love, fame, and fortune for so long. 

But reality sets in and they don't get everything they think they have coming to them.

Hence some level of mid-life crisis sets in. 

However by the time people reach their 50s, things seem to shift again, and a happiness or peacefulness sets in. 

People start to expect less and instead appreciate more from the blessings they do have. 

The treadmill becomes a long walk along the beautiful beach or park trail. 

We don't need to chase success, but rather just see the great lives in so many ways that G-d has already bestowed on us. 

The U-shaped curve of life--where we start all bright-eyes and bushy tailed in our younger years and which descends into disappointment and disillusionment in mid-life, comes up once again to happiness and a fulfillment in our later years. 

Over the course of our lives, we learn that life does not ask, but rather it tells us. 

And if we just listen, we can find meaning and contentment amidst it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 15, 2017

Aging Is A Process

This guy was a hoot on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 

His shirt says:

"With age comes oldness."

Ah, yeah!

When he was sitting, he had his arms crossed over his chest, and I thought it said:


"With age, comes baldness."

That too!

Getting old is not easy.

Being young is not easy either. 

But it's really how you handle yourself during every stage and turn in life that defines who you are and what you become as an person and a creation of G-d. 

You've got to get up and walk the dance through thick and thin...life bring old age and oldness...what's the alternative. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 1, 2016

Getting Zinged

So there is the work at work. 

And then there is the behind the scenes people stuff that goes on.

And anyone who has been around the block long enough in organizations know that the people stuff is where all the "craziness" happens. 

A friend told me a story about their colleague.

The colleague sends a trash-talking email about the person at work, but instead of sending it to the presumed audience they instead send to the person himself....oops. 

So the veneer of "how your doing today?" and "hope you have a nice weekend!" is revealed by something else. 

Awkward, no?

Email is generally a positive method of communication, but also can be treacherous and revealing.

No matter at work, the main thing is stay focused on the mission and not to get sidetracked by the zinger of the day. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 23, 2015

Feeling It All

Feelings are one of those things that make us oh so human. 

We feel love and hate, joy and sadness, hopeful and anxious, peaceful and distraught, and countless more emotions. 


While some people come across as stoic, others seem to take it all in (maybe even right on the chin). 


Hence, the perennial stone-faced poker player verse the person who seems to show every emotion and just can't hide it. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of both men and women are what's called highly sensitive people (HSPs).


HSPs simply feel everything more!


These are the people who are crying at the movies and so on. 


They can also be extremely empathetic and caring--because they just almost intuitively understand. 


I think they are also deep thinkers, they are watchers of people, taking in the stimuli and processing it in terms of their feelings. 


I remember as a kid sitting with my sister and her friends who were considerably older than me--8 years--and I would listen to their "mature" girl conversations go on and on, and then at the end, I would just sort of say my sensitive two cents, and I think more often then not, I got a lot of surprise looks at a young boy who seemed a lot older and wiser than his age. 


In retrospect, I think that I was always just very sensitive to people, their plights, their hurt, the injustices in the world, and sought to understand it and try to make it right. 


The flip side is that one schmuck of a manager years ago said to me, "You need to get a thicker skin!"


But you know what, I like feeling, being very human, and deeply experiencing the world.


I would imagine (having never tried drugs, true) that perhaps people who get high either are running away from some feelings or running to others--but as a HSP, you just feel it all straight up. 


Being very sensitive to the world can almost be like extrasensory perception...sometimes you can see what others don't, but you also have to learn to cope with the firehose flood of feelings--sometimes even having to tune some of it out. 


Cut me and I bleed, caress me and I am comforted.  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 4, 2013

Walking On Rocks

The first few times when I started hiking, I had this paradigm that I had to walk between the rocks--sort of like hopscotch--then I realized that I could walk on them.

For a long time, I had heard about how thinking within the box constrains our thought processes and innovation. 

It was interesting for me to see this in action just by the way I initially viewed a basic skill like hiking. 

The paradigms we use to view the world alter what we think and do, and only when we break out of the proverbial box we are in, can we really see and be open to other ways of being and doing things.  

You can walk between the rocks or you can climb over them--whatever works best for you--just be open to seeing things in many different ways.

No one way is necessarily better than another--they are just different and each useful in their own time and place. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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August 7, 2012

Being Yourself Is a Full-Time Job

There is a saying that "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." 


But over time and a level of professional maturity, I've learned that rather than act, there are times when the more prudent thing is too hold your tongue and your will to take immediate action.

In the Revolutionary War, they said, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

Back then, the strategy was employed to conserve ammunition, and today, similarly, it is way to preserve relationships and manage conflicts.

Indeed, sometimes, it's harder to do nothing than to do something--when we are charged up in the moment, it takes a strong leader to keep their head--and hold back the troops and the potential ensuing fire--and instead focus on keeping the peace and finding a genuine resolution to tough and perhaps persistent problems.

An important exception is when ethics and social justice is involved then everyone must find their inner voice and speak up for what is right--that is not the time for a wait and see approach.

The lesson for me is that while it can be challenging to at times hold your fire, and at other times to find your inner voice and speak out--this is where sound judgment and willpower come into play.

In this light, I said to my daughter that "It is sometimes hard just to be yourself." To which she replied wisely, "yeah, and it's a full-time job too." ;-)

She's right--we have to be ourselves and follow our conscience all the time--whether it means taking the shot or holding our fire.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Oh Candy)

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April 25, 2011

Turning IT From Frenemy to Friend

Fast Company (December 2008) describes Frenemies as a "thrilling intricate dance" of friend-enemy relationships.

Half a year later, CBS News (July 2009) reports that this words is added to the dictionary: "Frenemy--someone who pretends to be a friend, but is really an enemy."

Recently, I've heard the term applied to Information Technology, as in they they here to help (i.e. friend-like), but boy are they often an obstacle as well (i.e. enemy-like).

Obviously not the message any IT executive wants to hear about their folk's customer service and delivery!

Today, the Wall Street Journal (25 April 2011) writes about the "discontent with the [IT] status quo" and it calls somewhat drastically to "Get IT out of the IT department."

Why?

Based on responses from business and IT leaders, here are some of the key reasons:

- "IT is seen as overly bureaucratic and control-oriented" (51% business and 37% IT)
- "IT doesn't deliver on time" (44% business and 49% IT)
- "IT products and services doesn't meet the needs of the business" (39% business and 29% IT)
- "IT consists of technologists, not business leaders" (60% business and 46% IT)

Therefore, the WSJ states "both for competitive and technological reasons...business unit leaders need to start assuming more control over the IT assets that fuel their individual businesses."

This is being called "Innovative IT"--where "IT shifts to more of a support role. IT empowers business unit self-sufficiency by providing education, coaching, tools, and rules, which allow for individuals to meet their needs in a way that protects the overall need of the enterprise."

The result is rather than delivering IT to the business, we deliver IT "through the business."

In this model, there is an emphasis on partnership between the business and IT, where:

- IT provides services to the business (i.e. through a service-oriented architecture of capabilities)--systems, applications, products, tools, infrastructure, planning, governance, security, and more.
- The business exploits these services as needed, and they innovate by "dreaming up ideas, developing prototypes, and piloting changes" that will most impact on-the-ground performance.

I believe this is consistent with stage 4 (the highest) of architecture maturity--called Business Modularity--as described by Ross, Weill and Robertson in Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: In this stage, we "grant business unit managers greater discretion in the design of front-end processes, which they can individually build or buy as modules connected to core data and backend processes. In effect,managers get the freedom to bolt functionality onto the optimized core." The result is a "platform of innovation...[that] enables local experiments, and the best ones spread throughout the company."

Related to this are interviews in the WSJ today with 3 CIOs, that all bear out this IT leadership direction:

- Frank Wander (Guardian Life Insurance)--"We have IT embedded into each business and we have a seat at the table. We're partners."
- Norm Fjeldheim (Qualcomm)--"We're structured exactly the same way Frank is. IT is embedded in the business. I'm only responsible for about half the IT budget."
- Filippo Passrini (Proctor & Gamble)--"Our business partners are people outside IT....in the past we were always in 'push' mode...now...there is a lot of 'pull'."

So one of the goals of IT and business is to transform from a relationship of frenemies to friends and genuine partners; this will leverage the strengths of each--the expertise of our technology professionals and the customer insights and agility of our business people.

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November 20, 2010

Selfishness and The Paradox of Emotional Intelligence



I was fortunate to be in a terrific leadership development class this week held in coordination with University of Virginia, and one of the instructors shared this interesting explanation about the four levels of emotional intelligence (EI), which I have put into the attached graphic (note: there are other variants of this).


Essentially there are three levels of EI that have to do with “me”:

1. Self-Awareness: Being cognizant of one’s own emotions, thinking and behaviors

2. Self-Management: Being able to control negative displays of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

3. Self-Direction: Being able to positively choose emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

These three levels are steps and maturity in the development of a person’s emotional intelligence.

Then, for those that are able to “breakthrough” to the next and forth level having to do with “others” (instead of “me”), there is a fourth level called:

4. Empathy: Being able to understand, share, and identify with the emotions and thoughts of others.

The idea here, as another instructor stated, is that we close the [emotional] gap with others through empathy and disclosure.”
However, in order to get to the stage where we can genuinely connect and empathize with others, we must first work on ourselves.

From a leadership perspective, I think this model of emotional intelligence is very valuable, because it provide us the framework for maturing our emotional self-development starting with basic awareness and advancing toward gaining control over ourselves and ultimately being able to have meaningful understanding for others.

It is only with such understanding of and connection with others that we can create the foundation for successful teamwork, innovation, and improved performance.
Where are we failing on EI?
  • Being so busy with “the daily grind” that we don’t have the time, energy, or capacity to do justice to the relationships in our lives.
  • Lack of mastery of the “me”—we lack self-awareness and are not in control of ourselves.
  • Narcissism that leads us to ignore the others around us and therefore leads us to have difficulty relating to them.

All of these, in a sense, represent a huge life paradox. We are taught that to succeed we must work on ourselves, and in turn we have become a self-focused society.


We have learned that success means being perfectly educated, thin, fit, married, earning a huge salary, and so on. But we are so busy thinking about these goals and looking at them as pure achievements to be marked off on a list that we lose sight of the process. And in doing so we actually become less effective at the things we are trying to do.


The process is about becoming emotionally intelligent—about learning the skills of self-control, self-management, self-direction, and ultimately empathy.


In fact, to succeed—and to find meaning in that success—we must give meaningfully to others in time and energy, rather than just taking for ourselves.


Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be a “breakthrough” event to empathize, give, and build healthy and productive relationships. Regardless of how much money or prestige we achieve in life, I believe that achieving the “us” rather than only focusing on the “me” is truly where the biggest payoff is at in life.

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October 13, 2010

Customer Service Design

I really liked the article in MIT Sloan Management Review (Fall 2010) called “Designing the Soft Side of Customer Service” by Dasu and Chase.

The authors write: “Even in the most mundane [customer] encounters, emotions are lurking under the surface. Your job is to make those feelings positive.”

Wow! That is a pretty powerful statement.

Think about it. How often do you genuinely deliver on that positive experience for your customers versus how often do they come away feeling slighted, taken advantage of, maybe even cheated of the service they know they deserve.

Sometimes of course, there are justifiable reasons why we can’t make a customer happy—maybe the customer is simply being unreasonable or is a knucklehead or maybe even some sort of nutcase. We have to use good judgment when it comes to this.

But often there are other problems that are getting in the way of us delivering on that positive customer experience:

Problem #1: We get caught up in the policies, processes, personalities, and politics of a situation, rather than focusing on the customer and their satisfaction. We forget who our real customers are.

Problem #2: We don’t think like the customer. We don’t genuinely listen to the customer or try to understand where they are coming from or what they even want. We are too busy talking the “company line,” playing defense, or taking an adversarial role. We don’t put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, not even for a minute.

Problem #3: We often don’t put the customer first; we put ourselves first. We are more concerned with not making a mistake, getting into trouble, or maybe don’t want to even work “that hard.” In general, we should, but don’t go the extra mile for the customer, let along deliver on first mile.

The MIT article tells us that we can improve customer experiences by designing-in how we manage the customer’s emotions, trust, and need for control (ETCs), as follows:

  • Emotions—have empathy for customers and generate thoughtful interactions that limit negative customer emotions and accentuate positive ones, so that the customer comes away feeling joy, thrill, happiness rather than anger, anxiety and stress.
  • Trust—provide consistent performance, a high-level of engagement and follow-up, and clear and open communication. These contribute to building an enduring relationship.
  • Control—provide customers with ample information, so they feel “cognitive control” over what is happening to them, and provide customers with the ability to make significant service delivery decisions, so they experience “behavioral control.”

Designing for positive customer ETCs experiences will go a long way to resolving the problems of poor customer service, where we know and stay focused on who our customers are, can think as they do, and seriously deliver on their needs the way you would want your customer needs addressed.

I suppose if I have to sum it up in a couple of words, it’s about being professionally selfless and not selfish in all our customer interactions.

It takes some maturity to get there, but I think it’s why we are here to serve.


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July 28, 2010

Newer Isn’t Always Better

I love new technology as much or more than the next guy, but...

Last month, I came across an article in USA Today called “Army Ditches Velcro For Buttons,” which chronicles how after deploying high-tech, “space-age Velcro” in uniforms in 2004, the Army found that the good old button worked better on keeping pants packets closed. The Army is now substituting three buttons for Velcro on the cargo pockets of its pants to keep them from opening up and spilling out.

To me, the point is not whether we use new, newer, or even the newest technology out there (like space-age Velcro), but whether we are right-fitting the technology to our organization (in this case, the button met the needs of the soldier better).

I’m sure you may have noticed, as have I that certain technology enthusiasts like, want and literally crave the “latest and greatest” technology gizmos and gadgets, whether they fully work yet or not.

These enthusiasts are often the first to download a new (still buggy) app and the ones that line up (often bringing their own lounge chairs) the night before a new iPhone or other “hot” consumer technology product goes to market.

Similar, and perhaps well-intentioned, enthusiasm for new technology can end up in pushing new technologies before the organization is ready for them (in terms of maturity, adoption, change, priorities, etc.). In other cases, newer technologies may be launched even before the “ink is dried” on IT purchases already made (i.e. the technologies bought are not yet implemented and there has been no return on investment achieved!).

At the extreme, organizations may find themselves with proverbial IT storage closets full of still shrink-wrapped boxes of software and crates of unopened IT hardware and still not be deterred from making another purchase and another and another…

I remember in graduate school learning about shopaholics and those so addicted to consumerism that their behavior bordered on the abnormal according to the Bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM).

This behavior is in sharp contrast with organizations that are disciplined with technology and strong stewards with their organization’s investment dollars—they tend to follow a well-thought-out plan and a structured governance process to ensure that money is well-spent on IT—i.e. it is requirements-driven, strategically aligned, ROI-based, and technologically compliant with the architecture.

In such organizations, responsibility and accountability for IT investments go hand-in-hand, so that success is not measured by whether new technologies get identified and investments “go through,” but rather by how beneficial a technology is for the end-user in doing their jobs and how quickly it actually gets successfully implemented.

This latter organization model is the more mature one and the one that we need to emulate in terms of their architecture and governance. Like the Army, these organizations will chose the old fashioned button over the newer Velcro when it suits the soldier better and will even come out saving 96 cents per uniform.

New technology is great--the key is to be flexible and strategic about when it is needed and when it is not.


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April 25, 2010

Going From Peak to Peak

In life, no one has only peaks or valleys. Life is a continuous cycle, and we must traverse “The Wheel of Life” (an ancient belief of many cultures including Jews, Indians, and others) from happiness to loss, suffering, and then hope, and back to happiness again.

Why we go round and round as people and nations is an age-old question. While happiness all the time would certainly be more enjoyable and easier on us all around, it would defeat the purpose of life, which is to learn and grow. And unfortunately, there is profound wisdom in the adage, “no pain; no gain.”

No, that doesn’t mean we should become masochists, so that we learn and grow more! Rather, we learn and grow from difficult experiences and then we get to rest and restore ourselves to be able to apply those in lessons and take it to the next level in future circumstances.

So it was with interest that I recently read Peaks and Valleys, by Dr. Spencer Johnson (best-known for Who Moved My Cheese?).

The conventional wisdom is that if we’re not living at the top of the heap, then we’ve somehow failed. Johnson’s take is that both success and failure (what he calls “peaks and valleys”) have valuable lessons to teach us and are therefore important to experience. The book is about getting the most out of the peaks as well as the valleys of our lives.

Here are some thoughts that rung true—in my words and in Dr. Johnson’s:

#1 - How to handle the valleys:

  • Learn to manage adversity, which helps you to mature and reach your next stage in life: “Between peaks, there are always valleys. How you manage your valleys determines how soon you reach you next peak.”
  • Love and to give to others. “You get out of a valley sooner when you manage to get outside of yourself: at work by being of greater service, and in life by being more loving.”

#2 - Think strategically about where you’re going in life:

  • Envision where you want to be to advance your goals. “A great way to get to your next peak is to follow you sensible vision. Imagine yourself enjoying your better future in such specific believable detail that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there.”
  • Recognize the emotions that guide your actions (and that timing is key): “The most common reason you leave a peak too soon is arrogance masquerading as confidence. The most common reason you stay in a valley too long is fear masquerading as comfort.”

Overall, even though leaders may seem like they are always “above,” in fact everybody goes through regular peaks and valleys.

In addition, leaders have the added duty to find the way not only for themselves, but also to guide others through the “storms” of organizational life. This is a great privilege, but also a tremendous responsibility that necessitates that leaders lead with wisdom and integrity so that they help their organizations, and people, go capably from peak to peak.


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May 22, 2009

Enterprise Architecture 3.0

In enterprise architecture, we routinely plan for new information technologies and not enterprise anything. In fact, what we now interpret as the federal mandate for “enterprise architecture”, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 really mandated not enterprise, but “IT architecture”. Here, architects didn’t typically develop enterprise (or common) solutions, but rather stovepipe solutions per customer demand. I would call this Enterprise Architecture 1.0.

As enterprise architecture evolved, we saw it mature in its implementation and expand beyond pure technology into the realm of business process reengineering and improvement. This manifested itself in the Federal Segment Architecture Framework of 2008, where we now looked to solve business, not IT, problems for logical business segments of the organizations. This is Enterprise Architecture 2.0.

However, even at this level of maturity, it continued to be somewhat rare to find enterprise architecture that looked at how we are transforming people, organizations, culture, and society itself. This is now beginning to be demonstrated in the architecture using social media and the larger implications of widespread information sharing, collaboration, and broader citizen participation. I would propose that this larger view of, and larger participation in, enterprise architecture is the next evolution and represents Enterprise Architecture 3.0.

Interestingly enough, I read in ComputerWorld, 18 May 2009, an article that took just such a enterprise architecture 3.0 view, called “Are Computers Transforming Humanity” by Mary K. Pratt.

Note, it’s not that these types of articles have not appeared in the past, but rather that they were not as frequent and this thinking not as endemic to the everyday IT planning discussion as it is becoming today.

The article states: “We’ve always had the introduction of new technologies that transform and move society in new ways. It changes our interactions, our sense f the world and each other…what individual and cultural transformations do, new computer technologies portend.”

Here are some of the EA 3.0 trends I gleaned from the article that are starting to manifest in people, organizations and society:

Convenience weighing on privacy—We can plan for new technologies (for example, mobility solutions that yield “quick answers and fast transactions”) to continue that advance of convenience and challenging traditional privacy concerns. As the article states: “what we let hang out there has changed.”

Reaching across all boundaries—new technologies will continue the miraculous feat of breaking down organizational and societal stovepipes. “One of the things that is different today isn’t that we can just act collectively very quickly, but we act across heterogeneous groups.” Plan for IT to reach across boundaries globally (and even inter-galatically, in the not too distant future).

Digital narcissism—technologies are enabling people’s self-indulgent practices where they often use social media tools to “reinforce and further rationalize overblown esteem for their mundane opinions, tastes and lifestyle choices.” We web 2.0 tools like blogs and twitters and social media everyone can have their own soapbox to evangelize from.

Multi-tasking galore—with the constant barrage of new technologies and communications from them, we are forced to multi-task like never before. “Studies have found that the amount of attention many of us can devote to a single specific task is about three minutes—15 minutes at most.”

Learning by doing—“Why should we memorize facts and figures when search engines, databases, and increasingly powerful handheld computing devices make them instantly available?” What we used to have to memorize, we can now just do the look-up for.

The implications of moving and maturing to Enterprise Architecture 3.0 are exciting and will have us thinking long and hard about the implications of what we do in and with information technology well beyond anything we have done before with IT for individuals, units, or line of businesses.

The changes from IT are broader-based than before and we need IT leaders who can plan and govern these larger scopes. Recently, This was evident with the appointment by President Obama of a federal CIO and CTO to oversee the extraordinary shifts in how we can and will use technology going forward in our nation and with our partners globally.


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March 21, 2009

Challenges of a Change Agent

I have always been fascinated by leadership and how to grow an organization in spite of a broad variety of obstacles to change and maturity.

Indeed, as I have studied, read, watched, and practiced leadership and change initiatives for over two decades, I am always intrigued at the role of the change agent.

Certainly, it is hard to be a change agent for so many reasons. It is hard to change yourself let alone to get others to change. It is hard to exist in an environment where you see new and different possibilities, but others see only their way or the highway. It is hard to see others jockey for power and revel in the humiliation and shame of their peers. Change is only for the strong-hearted.

It’s interesting to me that change agents are often alone in the enterprise. They are specifically brought in fix highly ingrained problems that very often culturally rooted and that are damaging to the continuing maturation and success of the enterprise. But the change agent is coming in with “fresh eyes” and accompanying toolkit of best practices from outside the insular dynamics of the dysfunctional organization.

But the change agent is alone, or relatively so as they may be others who are “bucking the trend,” to try to bring a new openness and flexibility to the stagnant corporate culture and decaying ways of doing business that descend like death over complacent or arrogant organizations that think that once on top of the world, always on top.

Applause to the organizational leaders who are aware of processes, products, and ways of thinking that are broken and recognize the need for change and attract the agents of change and agility.

But the change agents run against the tide. They are new and are viewed as not knowing anything about the organization. Moreover, they are perceived as a danger to the comfortable long-standing held beliefs and ways of doing things. And moreover, they are seen as a threat to the incumbents. So from the incumbents perch, the change agents need to be shamed, humiliated, thwarted at almost any cost. And the change resisters in the established hierarchy “revel” in every obstacle they throw up.

There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, 21-22 March 2009 about a website where people “revel in each other’s humiliation.”

The French site www.viedemerde.fr has 70,000 readers and it has “become a phenomenon in France…it receives a thousand or so new stories a day from which three young men who run it pick a dozen or so to post…the site now has 7,200 vignettes picked from nearly 400,000 sent in.”

It started a couple of years ago by the founder who “started posting stories online about the frustrations of modern life.”

The stories of life difficulty that are shared and read by others is closely aligned with Schadenfreude, a German word which means “One’s person’s misfortune is another’s happiness.” Or another version for the popularity of the site is that “one person’s misfortunes reassure another.”

Whichever explanation you adhere to for the popularity of people posting and reading about other people’s misfortunes and shame, points to people’s need to open up and release thoughts and feeling that are shameful and painful; people have a need to share, commiserate, and gain acceptance and to know that they are not alone.

Now there is an English language version of the popular website www.fmylife.com and “stories are flooding in. But the content is often similar. ‘It’s like there is a kind of solidarity among all countries when it comes to misfortune. We are all in a big, international pile of crap—but we’re in it together.”

The enterprise, its diehard stalwarts, and the change agents are also in it together. And they will either sink or swim. Hopefully, they decide on the latter.


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