Category Archives: General

November

We are a few days away from November and one of the busiest months for me as a writer and consultant. I am savoring these last few days as the calm before the storm of assignments, projects, articStockSnap_V11UPDVG1N.jpgles, conferences and events.

I’m not sure about you but when I look forward to a busy month I tend to savor the moments of “downtime”, of “whitespace”, of  doing nothing. When there is lots going on there is also a heightened sense of calm, of slack, of quiet.

For me, the quiet times become more intense just as the busy times becomes more busy. It’s part of my professional quest for balance between elements: between leadership and serving others, between creativity and structure, between quiet and noise.

 

Here is to enjoying November in all its beautiful intensity!

 

-EMC

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Savvy Saturday July 1st, 2017

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Monk and the Samurai

The monk(2)

A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. The monk replied with scorn, “You’re nothing but a lout – I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!”
His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled “I could kill you for your impertinence.”
“That,” the monk calmly replied, “is hell.”
Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.
“And that,”said the monk “is heaven.”

Story told by Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ

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White Space

We all need “white space” in our lives. White space allows us to think, be creative, be strategic, focus on what counts, do something fun, laugh, cry or a combination of all these things.

I usually factor “white space” into a project because it provides you or the project manager the opportunity to pause, reflect and tailor actions before things go too far in the wrong direction.

White space is not only reflection. White space is planning, thinking, future looking, story building time that allows us as human beings to remember we are human. Check for mistakes, celebrate a success, write that thank you letter or start that side project you have always wanted to do.

White space makes us human. Without white space we run the risk of becoming machines. e3dc9e58e2c5faad2871843721955e3d

EMC

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Dragons and Bureaucracy

“This of course is the way to talk to dragons, if you don’t want to reveal your proper name (which is wise), and don’t want to infuriate them by a flat refusal (which is also very wise). No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.” The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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While reading The Hobbit again after many years, I ran into the above statement as my mind joined in the adventures of Bilbo and the dwarfs. The words are so powerful that I thought I would share them here. Substitute “dragon” for anything that keeps gates to creativity, generation of value or progress closed. I think you will agree with me that while it is dangerous to generalize, statements such as these can help us identify those things (even flaws in ourselves or our organizations) that stop or slow down our ideas and projects.

–EMC

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“Everything we design, designs us back”

Called ontological design, it is a concept that considers how context and environment shape our ideas. Spaces where we work impact our work. Colors make us feel more creative or more restricted in our thinking. Furniture design can impact how we interact with our clients. Spaces with hammocks and green plants can help employees feel playful and encourage new ideas and approaches.Where we do business affects how we do business (and vice versa).

Our experiences are subjective and they can be influenced by our environment. I am reminded of a quote by the famous Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan who said:

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

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We often talk about this quote in terms of technology, yet there is so much more to what McLuhan says here. We are natural creators, born to create but also born to become part of the reality we construct and influence with our art, science and business.

EMC

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Content Curation or More of What We Love

I’m working on a project to encourage members of an organization to interact and engage with technology, digital tools and social networks. While most of the members understand and can appreciate the need to use collaborative and new media tools, there are those who question the need to engage with, and have access to, so much information. The sheer amount of information and choices is sometimes boggling. How do we select the information that is relevant to us?

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One of the greatest challenges with endless choice is cutting through the noise. Information overload can stop us from finding that piece of information that will change our life; entertain, delight and inform our decisions. Nevertheless, I would argue that being exposed to so much information and seeing things that you might not normally see, expands our worldview and can greatly enrich our lives in ways that we never dreamed possible a couple decades ago. For example, how did I know that a Tweet I saw about the Peter Drucker Global Challenge would lead me to Vienna for two years of enriching debate on the future of management? How can I measure the joy I get from hearing how an article I published on LinkedIn has changed the way an employee is engages with their company?

The role of the curator is becoming increasingly important because it provides us with a door to accessing more content – information, photos, art, music, whatever – that we could love. The possibility of discovering something new has always fascinated the human race and while we may not “discover new worlds” geographically speaking we are discovering worlds that ignite our imagination and encourage us to greater depths and breadths of knowledge.

When we talk about curation, we might think of the museum curator who brings together the right pieces to convey new insights into a subject or theme; an art movement or time period. Curators select, from an entire body of work (information overload), the right pieces to deepen the audience’s understanding of both the part and the whole of a subject or theme.

While we normally think of the curator as a person – the talented human being who works to bring us new depths and breadths of knowledge – curation can also be non-human. It can be an algorithm or a search engine like Google. It can also be our friendly grocer who shows us the freshest fruits or our personal shopper at our favorite store who sets aside outfits that they think we will enjoy wearing.

With 10 million songs in your pocket or 50 fan pages on Facebook or 500 professional connections on LinkedIn, we need curation. Sometimes we seek it in the form of blogs or personalized news channels. Sometimes we find that our friends are our best curators of content. Whatever the source, curation of content gives us more of what we love. It’s the key to making sense of our noisy world and deepening our appreciation for the information that surrounds us.

EMC

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Praise for Pause

Here is a pause in praise of pause. Pause – rest, peace, quiet, respite, a break from the everyday – is key in a world of distraction or what writer Linda Stone calls “continuous partial attention.”
So today’s post is a simple reminder to take a pause, to break from perpetual connectivity and to give something our whole attention.

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Disruption Defined

innovator

Like “innovation”, “disruption” is becoming a buzzword – losing the real meaning behind the original theory made famous by Clayton Christensen.

I came across an incredibly clear explanation of disruption provided by the New York Times (it’s actually from an innovation report that was leaked last week). You can read it here (Page 16). I was drawn to this description through Ezra Klein’s piece entitled “Read the New York Times’ insanely clear explanation of disruption

The key points:
1) The original disruption theory comes from Clayton Christensen’s study of things like the hard drive and steel industries where he realized that disruptive products tend to combine new technologies, cheaper production, and — crucially — worse products.
2) Poor quality and low profit margins of the new product prevent the incumbent business from recognizing the threat. (Also relates to Chris Dixon’s Good Ideas look like Bad Ideas see it here).
3) As the competitors experiment with the new production technologies they become better able to produce high-quality, high-profit products than the incumbents, and they eventually move up the value chain and disrupt the incumbent’s core business.

EMC

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