Showing posts with label Transformation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transformation. Show all posts

August 17, 2019

Copy Any Key

Thought this was pretty cool in Safeway supermarket.

A automated key copy machine. 

You insert your key. 

And out pops a duplicate for you. 

Home, car, business, whatever.

What is happening to that guy who used to work the key copy machine at the local locksmith?

Who says automation and robotics isn't taking and going to take away jobs. 

I still remember that key machine--where the locksmith would put the key on one side and a blank on the other, and the machine would copy the surface grooves of one unto the other. 

Now even that is gone. 

I guess we're lucky still to have keys (for now).  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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September 22, 2018

Snowflakes Are Unique

Thought this was an interesting analogy. 

A colleague refers to some customers as snowflakes.

At first, I didn't get it. 

Then I understood. 

Every snowflake is unique. 

Based on how the ice crystals fall to the ground through different temperatures, moisture levels, and atmospheric pressures, the shape of every snowflake is different. 

Sometimes when it comes to project management, customers too think they are unique, different, and special.

They think that solutions that work industry- or enterprise-wide could never work for them and their wholly distinct ways of doing business. 

Hence, as I learned, the term snowflake. 

For those of us who have been around the project management block a few times, we know that while there are specific customer requirements, most of them are not all that unique. 

And when some customers simply don't want to do things differently than they've done it before, there can be greater resistance to change. 

Hence, the "We're special. We're different" reframe along with the standoffishness, doubting, circling the wagons, throwing up obstacles, or just refusing to fully participate. 

Obviously, it's a lot more difficult to modernize and transform through technology and business process re-engineering when your customers aren't on board. 

So it is critical to manage organizational change, address the questions, the fears, and elements that are truly unique, and bring the people along as true partners. 

Not every requirement is a snowflake and neither is every customer, but we have to manage the similarities and differences in every project and make sure it improves performance and meets the needs of the customer and the organization. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 4, 2017

G-d Created Evolution

So I've been thinking a little bit about evolution.

And I don't see any contradiction between evolution and creation.

In fact, G-d created evolution!

You see, in His infinite wisdom and love, G-d made his creations with the ability to change over time. 

We are not static creatures, but we are able to evolve, adapt, transform, and grow ourselves, our species, and our world over time. 

But, but, but...there are fossils hundreds of millions years old...how could G-d have created the world less than 6,000 years ago?

Well, who says G-d created the world at time horizon zero--if the world was fully formed with trees and plants, and fish, birds, animals, and people--then these could all have had age associated with and built into them already. 

Boom...G-d just created Adam and Eve--was that from the point of conception, day of birth, or fully grown adult?  Similarly, how old is the tallest mountain or the fullest forest when it was created? 

Time is not a function of G-d who is timeless. 

And the formed world appears at the blink of G-d's eye and it can disappear that way too. 

Similarly, we learn in the Bible how G-d created the world in 6 "days" and rested on the 7th, but who says a day is literally that.

Couldn't a day as in 1, 2, 3, etc. be phases of creation...where a day could be anything from a split second to a millennium or even a hundred million years.

To the G-d who Was, Is, and Will Be--what is a day, but a span of infinitesimal to infinite time to create His children and the world to teach and grow them. 

We are here in a infinite universe enveloped by the love of a limitless G-d. 

Evolution is no more a constraint on G-d then time or space is--to the contrary, evolution is a blessing of G-d that lets things develop and mature from the image of G-d to the imagination of His mind's glory. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 14, 2017

I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 

That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.

It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.

Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  

So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently...

A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 

He says, "Good morning. Where you from?"

I smile and respond, "Washington, D.C.," and add proudly, "the nation's capital!"

He then asks, "What do you do there?"

Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, "Oh, cleaning up the swamp."

To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, "Yeah right!" 

There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.

Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:

- Change the status quo of big stumbling government

- Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money

- Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us

- Fairly and compassionately address the nation's priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being

- Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein

And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 12, 2017

Left-Handed Screwdriver

So I'm not so sure what is so funny about a left-handed screwdriver...

Except of course that there is no such thing!

The same screwdrivers work in both the left and rights hands. 

Duh!

But that's what it is with some people that like to call what they are doing innovation or out-of-the-box thinking.

When really, what's new to them is just regurgitation of "what's old is what's new!"

We can't just work harder, rather we need breakthrough thinking to work smarter. 

But how many times do you really see smarter happening versus just a different flavor of the month introduced to score points or mark some victory laps. 

Real innovation or transformation means making a new way to screw things together and not just screwing it with a different hand.


Yes, most innovation is really individual small steps that end up in aggregate, making a great leap for mankind. 

Occasionally, someone really does invent the smartphone--now that was smart!

Be careful buying that left-handed screwdriver or into that new methodology for accomplishing great things until you know that it really isn't more snake oil sold from someone's bullsh*t soapbox--and that it is from someone with a very big mouth and a very little brain. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2017

From Cradle To Grave

It's funny how in organizations talk about the lifecycle of people. 

From a full lifecycle perspective, it's "cradle to grave!"

In terms of lifecycle on the job, it's "hire to retire (or to fire)."

Really the lifecycles are intertwined. 

It starts with the cradle...we are born and go through a maturation process that focuses on our education and preparation for life. 

Then we get hired into our (hopefully) dream jobs, where we spend our careers until we retire--or if you mess up badly and get fired or decide to change career course--you may have to go back to "go" and "do not collect $200" and you get hired again for another career round. 

Eventually you retire and start your 2nd life in retirement, where please G-d, you have the health and prosperity to enjoy the fruits of your labor and your families. 

Ultimately, our lifecycle ends at the grave with the death of our bodies--our souls go on to Heaven and live forever basking in the light of the Almighty. 

Thus, the human capital lifecycle. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 10, 2017

Overcoming Resistance To Change

So have you heard of the 20-50-30 Rule when it comes to change management?

20% of the people are open and friendly to change--they are your early adopters.

50% are fence sitters--and they hold a wait and see attitude. 

30% are resisters--these are the people that will be the roadblocks to change. 

_____

Total 100%

Some will resist openly and loudly.  Other will disguise their resistance in a politically correct way.  And finally some may work subversively to block change. 

The keys to overcoming the resistance is by working through the head, heart, and hands model, helping people to understand the following:

Head (Intellectual) - What is changing. 

Heart (Emotional) - Why it's changing (and what's in it for me--WIIFM).

Hands (Behavioral) - How is it changing.

This means changing the mindset, motivating people, and shaping behavior to effect change. 

Change and resistance to change are facts of life, but how we approach it can either mean failure or amazing transformation. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 24, 2016

Crazy World Of Work

This was a funny sign. 

"You don't have to be crazy to work here.
We'll train you."

Isn't that the truth too often. 

Work can frequently be like "Crazy World!" 

This is a place where there is a convergence of dysfunctional organizational culture, poor leadership, a lack of solid processes and sound planning, and plenty of wacky naysayers and obstructionists who together can bring the workplace to a virtual standstill or even a bitter downfall. 

Yeah, we will train you to do what?

- Follow some dusty and archaic, nonsensical policies that haven't been updated in 20 years.

- Force you into a mold of robotic groupthinkers who have abandoned any notion of exploration, discovery, innovation, and constructive change. 

- Do the minimum to get their paychecks, while staying off the grid and out of trouble, rather than satisfy in serving the mission and delighting their customers. 

This is perhaps why leaders frequently tout their credentials in transforming organizations, yet we still see endless legacies mired in status quo and a lack of any real results and progress. 

Lots of people talk the talk, but very few walk the walk, and that's because we've trained them so well to work here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 7, 2016

Cloud Pleasing

Technology vendors have wised-up and are rushing to the cloud to give customers what they want. 

You want cloud?  

You got cloud!

Cloud Computing with the virtually infinite promise for flexible, cost-effective, on-demand computing--all centrally managed by the vendor--you can sleep easy at night, oh baby. 

CIOs love it. 

The only problem as everyone moves to the cloud is the promise of the cloud continues to fall short

Now how unpopular a thing to say is that? 

Take out the guillotine...

Seriously though, it was supposed to be flexible, but it isn't so much as vendors contract with customers for multi-year deals and customers find switching vendors not quite so easy...anyone hear of vendor lock-in?

Also, cloud was supposed to be more cost-effective, but vendors still need to make their margins, so longer commitments, service bundling, minimum fixed costs, and variable month-to-month pricing--sure helps things add BIG DOLLARS for the cloud vendor. 

Then you have vendors that simply call everything cloud...ah, "cloud washing" that is.  If you think you are getting cloud (even if it ain't so much so), yippee are you happy...you have drunk the cool-aid and it is sweet.

Technology leaders swooping into a new job want to come in with a bang..."Hey, look what I did to modernize, transform, reinvent, revolutionize...and save money too--thank G-d, they hired me."

So cloud, cloud, cloud...it sounds so CLOUD PLEASING, I mean crowd-pleasing. 

Whether in the specific situation it's better or not, that's not the point, stupid. 

At least, it's out of our hair--let the vendor worry about it!

One, two, three...everyone say "CLOUD!" ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 25, 2016

Stack Theory Doesn't Stack Up

Christopher Mims' article in the Wall Street Journal today on why big companies get disrupted by others doesn't make a lot of sense to me. 

He discusses the "Stack Fallacy" of Anshu Sharma a venture capitalist that it "is the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layers above yours."

Mims explains that the stack is like a "layer cake of technology"--where one layer is built on another.

Similar to the OSI technology model where there are architecture layers for physical, data, network, application and so on. 

Basically, Mims explains that tech companies can only invent at a single layer of technology (or below). 

But when companies try to invent up the stack, they fail.

Here's why...

Mims says that companies despite their size and resources can't innovate up the stack because they don't understand the users there. 

But this doesn't stack up to me. 

Companies can and do use their resources to study and understand what users want up the food chain and what they can't easily build, they can acquire. 

Apple successfully went from a iPod and iTunes music player and song store to producing a highly sophisticated and integrated iPhone and Apps store where music is just an afterthought.

Similarly, IBM went from being primarily a mainframe and desktop company to being a top-tier consulting firm with expertise in cloud, mobile, social, artificial intelligence, and analytics computing. 

But it isn't easy for a company to change. 

And to me, it's not because they can't understand what users want and need. 

Rather, it is because of something we've all heard of called specialization. 

Like human beings, even extraordinary ones, companies are specialized and good at what they are good at, but they aren't good at everything. 

A great example of this was when NBA superstar, Michael Jordan, tried to take his basketball talents and apply it to baseball...he was "bobbling easy flies and swatting at bad pitches" in the minor leagues. 

As even kindergarteners are taught that "Everyone is good at something, but no one is good at everything."

Companies have a specific culture, a specific niche, a specific specialization and expertise.

And to go beyond that is very, very difficult...as IBM learned, it requires nothing less than a transformation of epic proportions. 

So I think Mims is wrong that companies can't understand what users want in areas up the innovation stack, but rather it's a monumental change management challenge for companies that are specialized in one thing and not another. 

So welcome to the world of Apple after Steve Jobs and his iPhone and to the the recent 25% decline in their stock price with investors and customers anxiously waiting for the possible but not certain next move up the technology stack. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 30, 2014

Corporate Dictators Gone Wild

Interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal on Moments of Impact--corporate strategy meetings. 

The authors, Ertel and Solomon, see strategy meetings as critical for "to confront radical challenges" "cope with fast-changing threats", and confront competition.


It is an opportunity to:


- Look at the big picture, including industry trends.


- Hear different points of view from as broad array of perspectives as possible (instead of the usual "fences and silos" that prevail in corporate life).


- Decide to change ("Creative Adaptation") or to stay with tried and true strategies ("stick to their knitting").


The book reviewer, Adrian Woolridge, though has a much more skeptical view of these strategy sessions calling them "dull, unstructured time-sucks" and "more often than not, [they're] a huge waste of time":


Why?


- They produce "airy-fairy nonsense."


- Rather than abandoning the corporate hierarchy, the sessions anchor in "status hierarchy."


- Outside strategy "experts" brought in "are nothing more than cliche-mongers."


- The "games" are silly and non-impactful.


- Often rather than strategic conversations, we get "lazy consensus," where decisions are driven by senior managers with a bone to pick or a reorganization in mind.


What's the truth...as usual, somewhere in between these 2 states of idealism and cynicism.


We can choose to take planning seriously to bring people together to solve problems creatively and gain consensus and commitment or we can use strategy as bogus cheerleading sessions and to manipulate the sheep to do what the seniors already know they want.


If we really work as a team to press forward then we can accomplish great things through our diversity and strength, but if strategy is nothing but corporate dictators gone wild, then the cause is already lost to the competition.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 9, 2013

Cancer Takes It Away


This is an amazing video.

It is about the life of Angelo and Jennifer Merendino.

Initially, they a lived a fairy tale life, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

You can see in the video the brutal transformation Jennifer underwent from the disease.

Yet, the love and togetherness this couple maintained is inspiring.

A link with photos of this couple's battle with cancer is here.

Jennifer died on December 22, 2011 at the young age of 40. 

Angelo, a NY photographer compiled their painstaking journey in a book called The Battle We Didn't Choose available at their website My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer.

It is difficult to look at the pictures of Jennifer's illness and deterioration, especially when marked in contrast to her husband throughout.

The numerous personal pictures makes me feel a little uncomfortable, even as I believe, they are meant to be educational and giving--with 1/2 the proceeds from the book's profits to be going to a non-profit for breast cancer victims. 

The story is very tragic, yet too often repeated throughout society...some may be able to find hope in it, and to appreciate what we have, when we have it.
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December 16, 2012

Amazon Will Bury Walmart

I've never seen the great allure of Walmart. Actually before I moved from NYC to the DC area more than a decade ago, I had never even seen a Walmart--and that was just fine. 

But I had heard these amazing tales of how they were superstores with everything you could ever want and at low prices and the shopping experience was supposed to be, oh what a delight!

So I cannot tell you my utter disappointment the first time I went to Walmart--shabby storefronts, elderly door greeters handing out store circulars and stickers, messy aisles and shelves, with low price tags on a swirling everything, and sort of the image of crummy leftover merchanidse throughout, and top that off with pushing crowds trying to save a couple of bucks on the junk. 

Let's just say, I'm not running back to Walmart, especially when we have online shopping experiences like Amazon--now that is much closer to nirvana. 

No drive, no crowds, no wait, no up and down the aisles looking for what you want, no shlepping, and no in your face "everyday low prices" image and we won't let you forget it--instead easy to find, interesting, varied, and quality merchandise of all types, at reasonable prices, with an easy checkout process, home delivery, free shipping, and easy returns. 

And as opposed to Walmart which is stuck in costly and inconvenient large brick and mortar stores, Amazon is investing in infrastructure of the future with convenient warehouse and delivery centers throughout the country, and more recently with their purchase of Kiva Systems in March 2012 for implementing robotics in their fulfillment centers. 

On top of it, Walmart (with nearly 2.2 million employees worldwide) in its endeavor to keep prices low, have spun up their workforce with jobs--that are often part time and unpredictable, low wage, lacking proper benefits, unsafe working conditions, and with questionable advancement opportunties (especially for women). Throw on top of that bribery allegations for which they've hired a new complaince officer. Yet, Walmart has also somehow managed to keep their workforce from unionizing to improve things. 

So how should we say this: how about straight out--Amazon gets it and Walmart does not!

And while Walmart has their own .com site--which coincidentally looks very much like Amazon's--Amazon is eating Walmart's lunch online, with according to NBC News a 41% revenue increase for Amazon's online sales versus just 3.4% for Walmart's. Moreover, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 March 2012) reports that Walmart's 2011 online sales amounted to less than 2% of their U.S. sales--they just can't seem to make the digital transformation!

So While overall Amazon sales at $48 billion are still only about 1/9 of Walmart colossal $419 billion, Amazon with it's high-tech approach (including their successful Kindle eReaders, cloud computing, and more) is anticipated to reach $100 billion in online sales by 2015

Like the other big box retailers of yore, Kmart, Sears, JC Penny, Circuit City, Best Buy, and more, Walmart will decline--it will just take a little longer and with a little more thrashing, because of the size of their checkbooks.  

Perhaps, as the New York Times implied years ago (17 July 2005) only stores like Costco (and throw in Nordstroms as well) with their tall aisles stocked neatly with quality goods, at low prices, and with better human capital ethos, will survive the big box retailer Armageddon.

My prediction is that within a generation Amazon will bury Walmart, if not literally so they are out of business, then figuratively with the best and most lucrative online shopping experience around--and as for the matchup betweent them, it won't even be close.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Fuschia Foot)
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December 14, 2012

See Yourself In The Future

Now seeing how you will look in the future is not just theoretical anymore. 

Merrill Edge (Merrill Lynch investing + Bank of America banking) has an online digital program that shows how you will look aged over time. 

They developed this as tool to encourage people to save more money for retirement by bringing home the message that you will not be young (and beautiful) forever. 

The Face Retirement tool asks for your age and gender, takes your picture, and then displays snapshots of how you will look over the course of your lifespan. 

I tried it and my smiling face was quickly tranformed into an old man with sagging skin, wrinkles, and more. 

My wife seeing those pictures says to me (even though we already save for retirement), "We better really start investing seriously for retirement!" -- gee, thanks! ;-)

And thanks Merrill Edge, you scared us straight(er) by looking at our own mortality, face-to-face. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Judy Baxter)

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September 24, 2012

Baxter Disappoints


This new robot named Baxter, by Rethink Robots, is practically being touted as the greatest thing since Swiss cheese--"allowing our people to use their minds more than their hands"--but this demonstration video shows a clumsy and awkward robot instead. 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18 September 2012) actually calls it a "huge disappointment" and I've got to agree.

The product manager in video calls Baxter--developed with $62 million over 5 years--"easy," "complaint," and "collaborative," but unfortunately Baxter, the robot, comes off looking anything but as he slowly and laboriously tries to pick up and move items from one location to another, and the product manager pulls his arms and pocks at his screen/face to program it.

While I am a huge fan of robotics and see their potential to transform our society--where robots can becomes surrogates for humans in everything from work to even odd companionship, I do not see the breakthrough here by Rethink Robots--except in the affordability of this robot to be used in manufacturing for only $22,000 a unit. 

What I do like about Baxter is that it is generally a good-looking device--with a solid looking grey base and long 9 foot wingspan red stretch arms.  I even sort of like the eyes and brows giving it a humanoid nature, but the quirky and flimsy looking red screen hanging off the main body looks chinsy. 

Also, if the robot is so "friendly," you'd almost expect it to be on wheels and mobile with the ability to speak, so that it could more genuinely interact with others, but it does not.  

Baxter is the brainchild of one of the pioneers of the Roomba vacuum--another toyish device that I wouldn't spend a dime on. 

Maybe, the way to look at it is that we need to take baby steps before we get the real iRobots coming to us--and hopefully that day will come soon.

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September 14, 2012

Following The Guy In Front Of You Over A Cliff

Ira Chaleff speaks about his book The Courageous Fellowship.

After seeing holocaust survivors with numbers tattooed on their arms from the horrors of the concentation camps, Chaleff asks "How does this happen?  How do people follow murderous leaders?"

In response Chaleff comes up with the five dimensions to follow courageously:

- Courage to assume responsibility--don't expect your leader to provide for you, but you act for the common purpose that you both serve. (as John F. Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.")

- Courage to serve--recognize the tough job of leadership and help to unburden and support the leader so he/she can be successful.

- Courage to participate in transformation--become full participants in the change and transformation process; ask what you can do differently to improve.

- Courage to constructively question and challenge--when policies and behaviors are counterproductive, step up and voice discomfort and objection.

- Courage to take moral action--in rare, but needed circumstances, you must be willing to dissent, leave, or refuse to obey a direct order when it is unethical or illegal.

I greatly appreciate Charleff speaking out and teaching others to do so and calling for all to "act as principled persons with integrity."

Charleff see leaders and followers less in the traditional hierarchical model and more as partners in achieving a common purpose--and this flattening of the hierarchy enables followers to question, challenge, and dissent when the boundaries of integrity are violated.

While I too believe we must serve courageously and not just follow blindly--as one of my teachers used to say, "if the car in front of you drives off a cliff, are you just going to follow him?"--I am not sure that Chaleff fully addresses the challenges and complexity in what it means to "step out."

While we may like to envision a flat organization structure, the reality in most organizations is that there is a clear hierarchy and as they say, "the nail that stands out, gets hammered down"--it is not easy to challenge authority, even though it can, at rare times, be necessary.

Finally, while Charleff focuses primarily on speaking up when there is a moral issue at hand, I think it is important to also be forthright in everyday issues and challenges that we confront.

Being good at what we do means that you don't just participate in leaderthink or groupthink, but you think on your own and share those thoughts earnestly.

However, once the decision is made--as long as and only when it is moral--then you must serve and support that decision and help make it as successful as possible.

Leaders and followers are a team and that means having the courage to fully participate and having the humility to respect chain of command and serve a noble mission, appropriately.
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September 11, 2012

Radiate Possibilities

Today, I had the opportunity to see one of the best leadership videos I have ever seen, called "Leadership: An Art of Possibility." 


It features Ben Zander, an Orchestra Conductor who is not just a leader of making music, but of driving people to excellence.

Zander's passion and energy bring out the best in people--and you can literally see them transformed as their playing comes alive, their faces shine, and they glow under coaching of this conductor extraordinaire. 

His leadership principles are:

- Speak possibility--create a shift in being (transformation) by seeing the possibility in everyone, and lead people by empowering, not commanding; help people get in touch with their inner passion, so they remember why they love what they do and why it is ultimately important.

- Quiet the inner voices--communicate that everyone can get an A and everyone has value; assume the best of everyone, eliminate the fear of judgement, barriers, and mindset of "I can't do it," so people can genuinely perform. 

- Enroll every voice in the vision--make every person feel and realize that they can contribute and make a difference on our journey together; shift from a mindset of pure individuals to that of living in a connected world; like in a symphony-- we create a "sounding together."

- Look for shining eyes and radiating faces--you know you are positively reaching people and impacting them when their eyes and face light up; and you need to ask yourself what you are missing, when you aren't getting this guttural reaction. 

- Rule #6 ("the only rule")--Don't take yourself so %@&$! seriously; mistakes happen and life goes on; really feel the joy, relief, ease, spontaneity, and community around what we do. 

The art of possibility is a paradigm shift where we move from having an external standard to live up to, and instead move to fulfilling the possibility we can live into. 

In essence, Zander's leadership philosophy is about removing the barriers that inhibit us and releasing our deep inner talents, so we can achieve our marvelous potentials--and self-actualize. 

As Zander states: the conductor actually does not make a sound, yet by empowering people, he leads them to make the most beautiful music together. 

If you get a chance to watch this video, I believe it is extremely valuable because the passion, love, and energy that Zander demonstrates turns every face into a presence radiating their own joy and excellence--it is truly leadership unleashed. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 25, 2012

Innovation: Leaders vs. Liars

There's a big difference between doing something and saying you're going to do something. 

Or as I learned early on--words are cheap, but actions speak loud and clear.

The Wall Street Journal (23 May 2012) reported this week about how many companies (and even academic institutions) overuse the word innovation--"the introduction of something new."

It's practically become cliche--"chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies, and even innovation days."
So is innovation just the buzzword du jour or is ultimately something more?

Of course, the more we use something like the term innovation, the greater the chance to dilute its meaning. 

- "33,528--times [innovation] was mentioned in quarterly and annual reports last year."

- "255--books published in the last 90 days with innovation in the title."

- "43%--of 260 executives who said their company has a chief innovation officer."

However, innovation is not just a word to throw around and use lightly--innovation is our bread and butter in this country; it is what differentiates us from our global competitors (i.e. its one of our main competitive advantages) and is a source of our economic strength.

Not all innovation is created equal--there is "innovation lite" (my term), where we take something and make it better, faster, or cheaper, and then there is "disruptive innovation"--where we really bring something new to the market.  

"Everybody's innovating because any change is innovation," but not every innovation is transformative.

We can't afford for innovation to lose its meaning, because leaders and companies that abuse it and dilute it--and don't ultimately deliver--will end up losing their jobs and ultimately the companies themselves. 

Real innovation is like condiments, use it sparingly and it can pack a huge punch--pour it on indiscriminately, and you might as well just throw away the whole dish.

What we need are innovation leaders that don't just mouth the words and buy the toys, but champion it, invest in it, and empower and encourage their employees to make it happen. 

Innovate or die is our reality--so be a true innovation leader--don't lie to yourself if it isn't the real thing. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Seth Waite)

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March 5, 2012

Are You A Moses or A Seagull?

I have a new article called "Leadership for Lasting Change."

"Usually organizational turnaround don't happen by themselves. They are steered by change agents, people unafraid to take the reins and move forward. Like Moses liberating the Jewish people from slavery, a strong leader shows his [/her] people the way."

Read the article at Public CIO Magazine, Winter 2012. 

Hope you enjoy it.

Andy 

(Source Photo: here)

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December 28, 2011

Toward A User-Centric Government

My new article in Government Executive is out today.

Called "Too Big To Succeed"--the article talks about the importance of simplifying and organizing large, complex organizations, such as government, to achieve transformational and valuable change.

The article is anchored in the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Law of Large Numbers.

Although the article doesn't use the term user-centric government, this is exactly the point and continuously driving forward with advanced technologies can help us make the leap.

Hope you enjoy reading!

Andy

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