Showing posts with label Principles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Principles. Show all posts

December 29, 2016

Obama, Kerry, and the UN's 6 Principles of Ultimate Hypocrisy

So how do we know that Obama, Kerry, and the UN's position and resolutions against Israel is biased, hateful, and Anti-Semitic? 

Let's briefly look at the 6 ludicrous principles--as applied to the United States and it's settling the land of the Native American Indians. 

Principle 1: Recognized International Borders for 2 People  

- For the United States that would be recognized international borders for the Native American Indians and for the the United States agreed to by both sides.

Principle 2: Two States for Two Peoples

- That would be a West America for Native American Indians and an East America for the United States (see graphic above).

Principle 3: Realistic Solution for Refugees

- The realistic solution would not involve a return of the Native American Indians to East America, but would involve compensation. 

Hmm, how much do we realistically owe the Native American Indians for half the country? 

Principle 4: Washington DC as Capital for 2 States

- That would look something like this with a West Washington D.C. as capital for Native American Indians and an East Washington D.C. as capital for the United States. 

Principle 5: Satisfy U.S. Security Needs

- This would involve "innovative approaches to creating unprecedented, multi-layered border security."  

Uh, what does that mean, especially with our estimated 11.4 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. already???

Principle 6: Normalized Relations

- For the U.S., "this must bring broader peace" with South American neighbors (including Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.) and would allow "groundbreaking" security partnerships with others like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. 

Wonder how that would all work out, huh???

The main difference between the U.S. and Israel is that actually Jews were promised the land of Israel by G-d him/herself and the Jews have actually lived and worshipped there for 4,000 years!

If Obama, Kerry, and the United Nations want to lecture on a Two State Only Solution, perhaps they need to start by contacting the Native American Indians and getting out their drawing boards. ;-)

(Source Graphics: By Andy Blumenthal adapted from here and here)


May 29, 2016

Getting A Leadership Washing

So I am reading this book called, "What Your Boss NEVER Told You."

In terms of leadership, a key principle is stated very well here: 

"'What' flows down


'How' flows up."

Meaning that as the leader, you set the goal, but you don't tell people how to achieve it.

Micromanagement "stomp[s] out 

creativity, ownership, and commitment."

To give your people the breathing room to innovate and solve problems and feel good about their work, here's the ideal manager:

"Hands-off whenever possible, 


hands-on whenever needed."

And finally the 3 "H's" of leadership:

1. Honor -- doing the right thing (i.e. integrity)

2. Humility -- "give away the credit," but own the responsibility 100%!

3. Humor -- "take their work seriously, but themselves lightly."

Overall, good book to get a clean bill of leadership health. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 10, 2014

For The Love Of America

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and we remember and honor the sacrifices of so many in securing our freedom and democracy.

Yet, recent events seem to indicate that we are straying from our principles and values as a nation.
  • November 6, 2014: Aside from trying to cut what many are calling a "bad deal" with Iran over their dangerous nuclear WMD program, there are now "private letters" being written to partner with arch enemy Iran against ISIS.
  • November 8-9, 2014: Just 2-3 days later, we once again see the tyrannical and genocidal intentions of Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei calling for the annihilation of one of our closest allies, the State of Israel. 

Hmm...Israel is designated the U.S.'s "Major Strategic Parter," while Iran is a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism.

Short memories? Iran took more than 60 American Hostages for 444 days in the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 and they have an ongoing "Horrific Human-Rights Record." 

Was all the sacrifice just for naught--for the love of America, what are we doing?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 6, 2013

Fair Trade Principles Are Cool

So I was up in Harpers Ferry and discovered this cool boutique store called Tenfold

The store carries a collection of creative "fair trade," eco-friendly products from around the world. 

They had a cool variety of clothing and accessories--that was different and special. 

We all found something there to come back with and had to choose what we liked best. 

I ended up getting a couple of handmade ties from a company called Global Mamas in Ghana and the girls got some skirts (and necklaces) made by Unique Batik in Thailand. 

I liked the quality and design of the merchandise. 

But more than that, I was truly impressed by the principles these companies adhere to under fair trade:

- Alleviate poverty and social injustice
- Support open, fair, and respectful relationships between producers and customers
- Develop producers' skills, and foster access to markets, application of best practices, and independence, 
- Promote economic justice by improving living standards, health, education, and the distribution of power
- Pay promptly and fairly
- Support safe working conditions
- Protect children's rights
- Cultivate sustainable practices
- Respect cultural diversity

Note: Fair trade is not to be confused with free trade--the later being where government does not interfere with imports or exports by applying tariffs, subsidies, or quotas.

Truly, if we give people a chance to be productive under fair trade working conditions, they can make the world a little better one product at a time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 2, 2011

First Stop Saying First

First came "Cloud First" in the 25 Point Implementation Plan To Reform Federal IT Management (9 December 2010).

Then came "Sharing First" and "Future First" in the "vision for information technology" (25 October 2011).

According to Federal Times (31 October 2011), there are many more 'firsts' to come-- with a "set of principles like 'XML First,' 'Web Services First' 'Virtualize First,' and other 'firsts' that will inform how we develop our government's systems. "

At this point in this blog, I can't even remember all the 'firsts' I just jotted down, so my question is at what point does assigning 'firsts' become 'second' to managing our tremendous IT asset base for the government?

Some more firsts just to be first in starting this "list of firsts":

"G-d First"

"Country First"

"Democracy First"

"Freedom First"

"Human Rights First"

"Capitalism First"

"Equality First"

"Justice First"

"Fairness First"

"Family First"

"Charity First"

"Caring First"

"Giving First"

"Love First"

"Health First"

"Mission First"

"People First"

"Insource First"

"Outsource First"

"Integrity First"

"Ethics First"

"Truth First"

"Communication First"

"Leadership First"

"Innovation First"

"Passion First"

"Security First"

"Safety First"

"Reliability First"

"Agility First"

"Adaptability First"

"Sustainability First"

"Planning First"

"Governance First"

"Execution First

"Project Management First"

"Performance Measurement First"

"Best Practices First"

"Learning and Growth First"

"Sharing First"

"Collaboration First"

"Transparency First"

"Interoperability First"

"Reusability First"

"Reputation First"

"Simplicity First"

"Requirements First"

"Effectiveness First"

"Efficiency First"

"Data First"

"Quality First"

"Customer First"

"Service First"

"Standards First"

"Cost-savings First"

"Business Process Reengineering First"

"Critical Thinking First"

"Jobs First"

"Women and Children First"

Essentially, there are a lot of 'firsts' in life and the challenge is in prioritizing and deconflicting these.

So with all due respect first, now let's get back to the business of government and technology. ;-)

(Source Photo: here)


May 17, 2011

Know What's Right, Do What's Right

In a conversation with a good friend recently, we got to talking about integrity--the meaning and of course, the importance.

And at one point, he says straight-out, integrity takes two things:

1) Know what's right

2) Do what's right

And I'm loving it!

Straight-forward and simple--know and do what's right.

Then he tells me about Gus Lee, a nationally recognized ethicist (and Chair of Character Development at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point) who wrote this book Courage: The Backbone of Leadership.

I was inspired by what I heard and since went back to learn more about his philosophy on the subject.

Lee believes that "leadership is grounded in high character" and that "we think we are looking for managers, but in fact, we need principled leaders."

To drive our "moral courage", Lee says we have 3 powerful resources:

1) Conscience--"that moral, inner voice."

2) Discernment--this is where you work to discern "the higher right" getting past "fear, feelings, and wishful thinking" and of course, our own self interests.

3) Discerning Advisors--we seek the counsel of "the most courageous, high integrity, high character, and principled person or people" you know.

And I would add a fourth important resource, which is religious teachings that can be a steadfast guidepost (especially when coupled with the others as a personal litmus test of whether you are applying them correctly).

Finally, I like Lee's observation that there are three type of individuals when it comes to issues of integrity:

1) Egotists--those who are self-serving.

2) Pragmatists--those who "serve results" or what I would call serving a specified cause.

3) People of Courage--those who "act in the right regardless."

Doing the right thing is not easy (it means putting aside your own interests)!

That's why it takes tremendous courage to be the type of moral person that we all ultimately admire and respect.

Those leaders who act with moral rectitude, these to me are the few and the amazing!


May 8, 2011

Happiness Is Not The End

I was outraged to read the opening article in the May 9-15, 2011 issue of BusinessWeek (
which I usually greatly respect): "Why Bin Laden Lost."

Here are some of the "highlights" from Businessweek:

- "The United States has no purpose. That is perhaps its greatest achievement...the United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything."

- "The most successful organizing principle the world has ever known is a simple guarantee that we can buy and do things that have no point greater than the satisfaction of our own happiness."

- "We human follow base and pedestrian needs...Freedom. Self-determination. Democracy. All of which are means to an end. For us humans, the end is almost always just a house."

- "You might consider embracing what defeated him. Do something private and ridiculous, something that answers no creed. Pursue happiness."

Yes, we won the battle against Osama Bin Laden this week, but the war is not over.

Bin Laden's henchmen are already forswearing that they will turn our joy to sorrow.


Because the clash of ideas and principles remain.

One one hand, we have belief in mandated, restrictive religious sharia law and the return to a 7th century caliphate (i.e. government of the people--the state is supreme) and on the other we have principles of freedom to choose--how to worship, what to say, what to publish, when to gather etc. (government for the people--the people are supreme).

With the Spring Uprising in the Middle East, it seems that the people are leaning toward the latter, although there is much work to be done to transition from the former.

Bloomberg Businessweek's article misses the whole point of our great democracy and the freedoms it provides.

Rather than being a society whose end and purpose is simply to "shop until we drop" and that is free to orgy itself on prosperity, physical pleasures, and materialism, we are about so much more.

The United States and its partners do have a purpose.

No, we are not a society that mandates a certain religion or in fact any religion, we leave that to for the individual to choose. But we are a society of laws, principles, and belief in freedom to choose one's destiny.

Not everyone chooses well, but that is part of the freedom to learn from our mistakes and grow.

The end, for most good and upstanding citizens of this country and others, is to be driven by principles and righteousness--such as human rights, curing the ill, feeding the hungry, rescuing the downtrodden, innovating and creating opportunity, and building stronger personal protections and cultural institutions.

I think it is sad that Bloomberg endorsed exactly the view that the terrorists hold of us -- a view that is shallow and wrong.

We do not focus exclusively on the "pursuit of happiness," rather that happiness is a means to a higher end. Similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which begins with physical survival and proceeds to self-actualization through connection with others and giving back.


February 26, 2011

The Lens of Leadership

I read an interesting article in Harvard Business Review (March 2011) called “Zoom In, Zoom Out” by Elizabeth Moss Kanter.

In the article, Kanter states that “the best leaders know when to focus in and when to pull back.”

The idea is that like a camera lens, we can choose to zoom in or out—and change perspectives in the way we see the world.

Perhaps, more importantly in my mind, it is the change in our perspective, that can change the way we, as leaders, behave across three dimensions—in handling ourselves as people, in decision making, and in problem solving.

I have summarized in the graphic (above) how the different perspectives of when we zoom IN and OUT manifest across those three critical leadership dimensions.

Overall, zooming IN and OUT with our leadership lens differs in terms of the impact of Ego versus Institution on how we view the situation; whether decisions are driven primarily by politics or principles; and whether problems get solved using quick fixes or long-terms solutions.

Zooming IN: helps us get into the weeds and deal with the dirty details. It involves dealing with people, process, and technology issues—up close and personal. Typically, to get a problem fixed—there are internal politics and some horse trading involved. Resolution of the problems on the ground are typically based on “who you are and who you know” and being structurally, situationally, and practically-oriented.

In contrast, Zooming OUT helps us see the big picture and focus on principles. It involves pulling back from the nuts and bolts to focus on the long-term strategy. Problems are treated as puzzle pieces that fit neatly into patterns. These are used to find “underlying causes, alternatives, and long-term solutions.” Sometimes appearing a little remote or aloof (reserved), at the extreme like an ivory-tower effort, the focus is clearly on the Institution and vision setting.

According to Kanter, “the point is not to choose one over the other, but to learn to move across a continuum of perspectives.

I would say that zooming IN is typically more like a manager and OUT generally more like a leader. But that a polished leader certainly knows when and how to zoom IN to take the management reins, when appropriate, and then zoom OUT again to lead in the broader sense.

One thing that I think needs to be clear is that those that can effectively build relationships and teamwork will show greater success whether zooming IN or OUT.

In the end, we can all learn to go along and get along as each situation dictates. As they say, “blessed be the flexible for they never get bent out of shape.”


November 30, 2009

Leadership: Fight or Flight

When we are confronted with difficult situations, people tend to two different responses: fight or flight.

Generally, people will stand and fight when they are either cornered and have no other option, when they will suffer undue harm if they just try and “let it go”, or when the issue is something that they really believe strongly in (like a principle or value such as equity, justice, righteousness, etc. that they feel is being violated).

In contrast, people typically will flee when they feel that they can get out of a bad situation mostly unscathed and their principles will not be violated (such that they can live with their personal and professional dignity intact). Often, people consider fleeing or a change of venue preferable to “getting into it” when it’s possible to avoid the problems that more direct confrontation can bring.

There is also a third option not typically addressed and that is just “taking it,” and letting it pass. In the martial arts, this is akin to taking someone’s best shot and just absorbing it—and you’re still standing. You go with the flow and let it go. This is sometimes feasible as a less dramatic response and one that produces perhaps less severe consequences (i.e. you avoid a fight and you still yield no ground).

Harvard Business Review (December 2009) in an article called “How to Pick a Good Fight” provides some guidelines on when as a professional you should consider standing up and fighting, as follows:

  1. “Make it Material”—Fight for something you really believe in, something that can create real value, noticeable and sustainable improvement.
  2. Focus on the Future”—Don’t dwell on the past or on things that cannot be changed. Spend most of your time “looking at the road ahead, not in the rearview mirror.”[This is actually the opposite of what 85% of leaders do, which is trying to figure out what went wrong and who to blame.”
  3. Pursue a Noble Purpose”—Make the fight about improving people’s lives or changing the world for the better.” I’d put it this way: stay away from selfish or egotistical fights, turf battles, empire building, and general mud slinging.

“The biggest predictor of poor company performance is complacency.” So leaders need to focus “the good fight” on what’s possible, what’s compelling, and what’s high impact. Great leaders shake things up when the fight is right and create an environment of continuous improvement. Leaders create the vision, inspire the troops, and together move the organization forward to greater and greater heights.

As for fleeing or “turning the other cheek” those venues are best left for issues of lesser consequence, for keeping the peace, or for times when you are simply better off taking up the good fight another day.


June 1, 2009

The Secret Service in Action

Once again, it's all about the mission. 

Focus, determination, absolute dedication to service. 

Principles every organization can adopt in their architectures.

And by the way, I am very proud to say my alma mater.


October 1, 2008

Personal Enterprise Architecture

For a long time, I’ve wondered about the application of “enterprise” architecture to the person. In other words, can the principles of EA that are typically applied to an organization be relevant to us as individuals. And frankly, I am certain that they can!
Personal Enterprise Architecture (PEA)—essentially, this means that you’re your own enterprise. And you need to treat your life in the same (or even better) careful and planned manner that you would treat the organization that you care about and are hired to steward. This means taking an accounting of where you are in your life (your personal baseline), figuring out where you are going or want to be (your personal target), and then coming up with a game plan of how you are going to get there (usually through some sort of combination of hard work, personal investment, and self-sacrifice).

As this particular time of year, the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), Personal EA is especially meaningful. Rosh Hashanah is a time of personal judgment. It is a time of introspection—where we reflect on our actions of the past year (our personal baseline); we feel and express regret for the things that we’ve done wrong; we commit to do better in the future (our personal target); and we plan how we can be better human beings in the year ahead of us (our personal transition plan).

In a sense, our lives can actually be more complicated than business processes and technology enablers. There is a Jewish saying that every human being is a whole world unto themselves. I believe this applies in terms of our value in the eyes of G-d, complexity as a combination of individualized nature and nurture, and in terms of potential to do great things.

True, we sometimes do things in an automated fashion—by rote, without thinking, sometimes callous of others feelings and the impact our actions have on ourselves and others. But we are not automatons!
As human beings, we are all faced with enormous personal tests and challenges. Unlike an organization, it’s not just about making money or achieving the organizational goals (however important those may be). But rather, we must face difficult and daunting human issues, day-in and day-out. We all know these human challenges. They are on one hand the most personal and often painful and on the other, the most central and meaningful. For each of us, these challenges are different. But the issues test our faith, demand compassion for others, and involve personal sacrifice.
Whatever your religion and whenever your new year (and time of reflection and judgment) is, we all share a commonality. We are human being endowed by our creator with a soul that drives us to pick ourselves up from wherever we are today and strive for a better tomorrow. What more noble an EA can there be?


October 10, 2007

First Things First and Enterprise Architecture

In the book “First Things First” by Stephen Covey, the author describes an important dilemma of what’s important to us in life versus how we actually spend our time. Covey uses the metaphor of the clock and the compass to explain this.
  • The clock—“our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, and activities—what we do with, and how we manage our time.”
  • The compass—“our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, and direction—what we feel is important and how we lead our lives.”

The idea here is that we “painstakingly climb the ‘ladder of success’ rung by rung—the diploma, the late nights, the promotions—only to discover as we reached the top rung, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”

“Absorbed in the ascent, we left a trail of shattered relationships or missed moments of deep, rich living in the wake of the intense overfocused effort. In the race up the rungs we simply did not take the time to do what really mattered most.”
What is really important?

Covey sums it up nicely, as follows:

  • To live—our physical needs (“food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being, health”)
  • To love—our social needs (“to relate to other people, to belong, to love, to be loved”)
  • To learn—our mental needs (“to develop and to grow”)
  • To live a legacy—our spiritual needs (“to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution” and most important of all to serve and sacrifice for the one almighty G-d)

In case you don’t recognize it, these align nicely to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow “in his last years, revised his earlier theory and acknowledged that the peak experience was not “self-actualization, but “self-transcendence,” or living for a higher purpose than self.

George Bernard Shaw put it this way:

“This is the true joy in life…being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can…I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Covey says it this way:

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

As an enterprise architect, who works everyday to build a better organization, with efficient and effective business processes, timely and meaningful information supporting the business, and information technology solutions that drive mission execution, I thought it was important to put this important job in perspective. Because in order to be effective in the role as an enterprise architect, we have to realize that “balance and synergy” among the four needs—physical, social, mental, and spiritual—are imperative.

As Covey states: “we tend to see them [these needs] as separate ‘compartments’ of life. We think of ‘balance’ as running from one area to another fast enough to spend time in each one of a regular basis [or not!]…but [this] ignores the reality of their powerful synergy. It’s where…we find true inner balance, deep fulfillment, and joy.”