Zen is you – Be.

Is hyperconnectedness still a thing?

Posted in development, ideas, stress relief, values by dave225 on March 12, 2011

Someone passed this article to me today: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6910385/Abuse-of-technology-can-reduce-UK-workers-intelligence . This is how I know I’m out of touch. People are still email junkies?

Think about how you sometimes get really interesting ideas in the middle of the night. Why is that? Because your brain has begun to turn off. It’s flushing out thoughts, clearing out the junk. Well, okay, that’s not science – but my point is that if we’re always turned on, we don’t stop long enough to have new thoughts. Clarity and insight can’t be forced and can’t come without stepping away from the hyper-connectedness.

Some of the most productive, most innovative work I’ve done has come from taking walks with a colleague, sitting alone quietly on an airplane, chopping wood, digging holes, etc.

Allow time for your brain to work for itself, rather than being fed more information.

Shutting down now. Going to bend some wire around a pencil or something …

Interesting question on Integrity

Posted in values by dave225 on February 22, 2011

Someone sent this question to me today: “Why do people think that Integrity, particularly in Leadership, is a hard thing to find today?”

My answer:

Integrity is trueness to your own values and trueness to your cause. But sometimes in order to accomplish anything in an environment where goals and values are competing, you have to compromise. So it’s the degree to which you are willing to compromise that your integrity is measured. And depending on the environment in which you are working (e.g. politics, industry-vs-regulation-vs-ethics) the choice may in fact be between integrity and progress. (Progress or rapid realization of goals, e.g. making a bunch of money.)

So it all comes back to leadership. If your choices are between integrity and progress, the system is broken and needs leadership to align the goals.


… but I’m interested in other people’s answers – beyond the idea that “people are jerks and money drives behavior.” That’s too easy. Assuming that most individuals are decent, why is there a perception that they are not? Or why are people decent as individuals, but jerks as a collective?

ugh. tired. so tired.

Posted in stress relief, values by dave225 on February 8, 2011

breaking blogio silence for this… a different perspective I had on gossip (negative gossip, that is)  ….  Anyone who’s gossip-worthy, i.e. has a scandalous story that people want to spread .. well, I don’t really want to know.  No – not “I don’t want to know that bit of gossip” .. but, “I don’t want to know that person.”  Not the gosspier.  The gossipee.  (OK, gossiper too.)  Gossip = drama.  Drama = voyeurism.  Voyeurism = someone else’s life.  Someone else’s life = not my own.  Not my own = distraction.  Huh. I know. dull post.

Anesthetized by Pleasantness

Posted in development, satisfaction, values by dave225 on October 9, 2009

It’s difficult to write a blog post about complacency.  Because to understand complacency, you have to put yourself into that mode of thinking.  And who the hell wants to be there?

(guess the relevance)

But complacency is such a paradox to me anyway – if you live in chaos, you are motivated to find normalcy.  If you find normalcy, it’s sooo easy to want to stay there – but you need to create chaos to escape.

(guess the relevance) –>

This is something I have to remind myself of frequently.  Professionally – implementing processes and measurements to get us to a state of optimization – there is a peace of mind in knowing that you can leave the office for a few days and the cogs will continue to turn.  But that allows me to disengage, which is both a blessing and a curse.  A curse because  I don’t get the daily fuel from innovation and problem solving.  A blessing because we’re doing greater things, more efficiently.   (Look at Thomas Edison.  His life’s work was inventing technology to make our lives easier.  That’s a reward unto itself, but in employing those inventions we achieve even more greatness with less effort. It wouldn’t make sense to reinvent the same things just for the sake of creating innovation energy.)

So how do you keep moving? One way is to scrap it all and start over.  Do what you did to get where you are, but do it someplace else.  You made your fortune perfecting the electric nose blower; now figure out how to harness energy from mosquitoes.

But maybe there’s another plateau to be reached that’s still out of sight.  Innovation and problem solving are great for the soul, great for business.  But only if they are addressing real problems.  As I write this, thinking about where I go from here (not that my work is finished or that I’ve perfected anything yet), it occurs to me that this quandry is a metaphor for my career.  I have always grown and succeeded by finding a need and filling it, as a logical extension of my official role.

So I guess my answer is in there.  Cycles of innovation & motivation ebb and flow, but if we’re looking for opportunities, we can organically keep growing, keep moving without drastic actions.

.. Which brings me around to Jim Collins’  How the Mighty Fall.  Collins makes the point, in a much more subtle way, that slow and steady wins the race.  Collins cites five stages of an organization’s decline:

  1. Hubris born of success
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
  3. Denial and risk of peril
  4. Grasping for salvation
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance

So, in terms of personal growth and motivation, the corresponding stages of marginalization and desperation:

  1. Not following a path of continuous learning and improvement
  2. Innovation for innovation’s sake, without adding value, without fitting a larger context
  3. Devaluing collaboration, succumbing to disengagement.
  4. Hasty decisions, get rich (or made)  quick ideas.
  5. Retirement, new career, etc.

Another personal point to grow on that Collins mentions – Individuals, like organizations need to examine why they are successful (defined as you like) rather than how they became successful.  Focus not on what things you’ve done to be successful (your deeds), but what about YOU has meant success (your character.)

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The Roaring Silence…

Posted in satisfaction, values by dave225 on June 17, 2009

No, not my silence on this blog… Yes, it’s been silent, but as far as I know, not roaring.

I know I’m guilty of this, and I try to understand when other people do it. Silence, while seeming innocuous at one end, can feel like a huge insult to the receiver.  (Can you actually receive silence? If one hand claps in the forest, do any bears .. wait, wait, um, something like that..)

Not only can silence present the feeling of being ignored – worse, the receiver will misappropriate the cause of that silence and will often act upon that perceived cause.  This can obviously be counterproductive and damaging to a relationship.

No time for pleasantries.

No time for pleasantries.

Immediacy of feedback can be more important than the content of the feedback itself.   (Hello? Is this thing on? Can you hear me in the back?)  Answer phone calls, emails, etc with an acknowledgment right away (unless you’re trying to snub someone.)

Now this seems like pretty elementary advice – yet in business we discount the value of social protocols as we focus on “I’m so busy.  Must get things done.”  I get over 100 emails a day, on (unmathematical) average.  To return each of those would consume the majority of my day.  But there I go – relating it to my day.    Setting norms for which email should be responded to and how & when, can mitigate some of that overhead.  The people that I see on a regular basis know that we will see each other and we will talk soon enough.  So email among that group is viewed as a one-way information communication tool (and RSS inside a firewall is a clunky mess.)  Any other decisions or discussions mean we meet in person (or video.)

Unfortunately, it’s the people you work with less often and that, frankly may be of lower immediate criticality to you, that silence most affects.  These are the relationships that need the most care and feeding.  (“The ones that love us least are the ones we die to please.” -PW)

What’s the payback?  Trust.  You determine how much that’s worth.

Every day is like Sunday

Posted in impact, stress relief, values by dave225 on March 15, 2009

I’m thinking about going into the office this weekend. Ordinarily, I like to leave work behind a couple days a week. But when I don’t have much else planned, sometimes an extra day to catch up can ease the stress of the week.

My big dilemma isn’t whether or not I should work on a weekend; The dilemma is how to spend that time. I could use the time to knock off some of those little tasks that seem to be in the way, so I can spend the week focusing on work that really matters.

Or I can spend the weekend on work that really matters. My idealistic side says, “always focus on work that really matters.” Don’t sweat the small stuff. Big wins.

But my intellectual but realistic side reminds me of the serenity prayer:

No -not that one! But these little tasks that I would gladly put off forever are important (or, I mean, <airquotes>important</airquotes>) to someone. So they will always be there – distracting, usurping, foiling.

I think my plan will be to round up the annoying tasks and drive the herd off a cliff. Do enough to get them out of the way – and spend the majority of the week working on stuff that matters.

And next week, Friday will be the day that I spend a little time on these nuisances, instead of Sunday. That will be my new M.O. – Big and important, Monday through Thursday. Small and dumb – gets thrown in the Friday bucket. And when Friday comes, whatever gets done, gets done and whatever doesn’t – won’t.

The best laid schemes of mice and men,
Go oft astray,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
To rend our day.
Still thou art blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches thee
But, oh, I backward cast my eye
On prospects drear,
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear.

The Tao of Chuck

Posted in values by dave225 on December 31, 2008

Charlie Brown’s good rules for living:

  • Keep the ball low
  • Don’t keep your crayons in the sun
  • Use dental floss every day
  • Don’t spill the shoe polish
  • Always knock before entering
  • Don’t let the ants get in the sugar
  • Never volunteer to be a program chair
  • Always get your first serve in
  • Feed your dog whenever he’s hungry

….a better life, and a fat dog.

*from ‘Happy New Year, Charlie Brown’

Salvaging Info

Posted in values by dave225 on December 8, 2008

I’m cleaning out an old file share before it gets deleted.  I ran across an internal posting I wrote last year, summarizing a talk I attended.

What type of organization do you have?

The Competing Values Model: (Robert Quinn)

An organization needs to decide what its primary quadrant is. The quadrants that are diagonal from each other are in dynamic tension with each other.

How does our organization deal with failure?

  • Is failure allowed? Then we support innovation & open systems.
  • Is failure not an option? Then we are a process & control organization.

What do we do with an unproductive asset?

  • If we turn it loose, we lean towards the Rational Goal Model.
  • If we mentor, we learn toward Human Relations.

(The axis refer to the type of organization you are fostering, not what happens in the short/long run. – E.g. the top row depicts the habits of long term thinkers.)

Long Term

Human Relations Model – collaboration, motivation

Open Systems Model – innovation

Short Term

Internal Process Model – Management & Control

Rational Goal Model – productivity & accomplishment



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