Enlightened Conflict

outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count

September 13th, 2017

 

vague definition unclear indistinct

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“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.

Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.

 

Someone can both love and betray the object of its love … without diminishing the reality of the true feelings and value.

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.

 

Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.

 

Everything has to do with everything else.

 

Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”

 

—–

Arturo Perez Revarte

 

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Vague sucks.

 

outline vague certain uncertaintyAnd, yet, I would argue the majority of people only really have some vague outline of how the world works, or how effective or ineffective a leader is, or even only have a vague outline of any specific relationship between cause & affect.

 

This vaguery exists because it takes a lot of work to parse the details, and the appropriate details, and the ‘right’ details to make the outlines less vague and more tangible.

 

Is this work valuable ? Sure.

 

Is this work necessary to increase some certainty in Life? Sure.

 

But the majority of people have shit to do <other than this type of work>. That is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

What this means is that in this ‘vague outline’ people inevitably create a vague/semi solid outline belief. From there they look around on occasion and question that outline. The questions raised either support the vague outline or raise doubts and … well … more questions.

 

All the while this is happening more information barrages the vague outline. In this barrage is a confusing mix of real, fake and quasi truths. All these confusing things do in the people’s minds is, contrary to belief, not confuse but rather make the person more dismissive of the incoming confusion and steadier in whatever vague outline they may have constructed.

 

Once again.

This is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

Ah.

 

But at some point the questions gain some gravitas. This can happen several ways but let me point out two:

 

  • The questions themselves coalesce into some easy to understand ‘blob’ from which people who have a vague outline decide … my vague outline is wrong <or sucks>. Let’s say that this is the point at which the doubts and questions begin to outweigh the beliefs that created the vague outline.

 

 

  • Someone weaves a narrative using the doubts & questions into a relatively succinct, believable and non-hyperbolic driven framing of an outline which people look at, scratch their heads, go “hmmmmmmmmm …” and decide this new vague outline will replace the one they had in place. Oh. To be clear. This narrative must not only use the doubts & questions to dissolve the current vague outline but must also offer an alternative vague outline <outlines need to be replaced not simply destroyed>.

 

 

The first never happens fast enough to people who just cannot understand how and why some people have decided to live with some vague outline <that just seems ‘not really a smart outline’ to them>.

 

The second is not as easy as it appears. It isn’t as easy because problems are rarely as clear as we would like them to be and a narrative never lives without the context of all the barrage of real, fake and quasi truths impacting and denting and solidifying a vague outline that already exists. Or someone weaves a  great narrative to destroy but forgets to offer an alternative.

 

In other words … everything has to do with everything else.

 

I imagine I have two points today.

 

 

First.big-decisions-stress-uncertainty

 

We humans have come to accept a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to our lives and our decisions. This uncertainty is also built into the vague outlines we tend to construct for ourselves. What this means is that the construct of our beliefs and thoughts and ideas may be certain to us and, yet, its silhouette accommodates some uncertainty.

 

I began today by unequivocally stating that vague sucks. And I believe 99% of people would agree that it sucks. but in today’s world the majority of people have enough shit to do that they slot their thinking thoughts time. in one slot they place unequivocal certainty type thoughts. In another slot they place the “I will always be uncertain about this shit and thank God there is someone else at some higher pay grade than I who can be certain about it.” and, lastly, we slot all the shit in which we have formed some vague outline which accommodates a certain degree of uncertainty.

 

My point here is we tend to make this a binary discussion where the reality lies in a more complex mix of vagueness & clarity, certainty & uncertainty.

 

Second.

 

uncertainty-principle-here-thereCertainty, in and of itself, has degrees … it is not a simple black or white binary.

 

People can have vague outlines AND have questions with regard to their outlines … and not want to ditch the outline. “How can you still believe that?” may be one of the most misguided and unenlightened questions that has ever existed.  It completely misses the point in that it assumes ignorance, stupidity or some negative trait in order to hold on to some vague outline regardless of doubts.

A vague outline is a choice.

No more and no less.

We question choices all the time and, yet, remain with the original choice despite some fairly extensive doubts.

I say this because that said … it is silly to point out doubts and questions as a reason to ditch a vague outline. My easiest example is President Trump. His followers have a vague outline of what they like and believe about him. We scrutinize them for doubts and questions and when they share them we immediately pounce and suggest “then how can you still believe in your vague outline!?!” <usually said with a slight overall disbelief & wonder>.

Within their lives of doing shit that is important to them they created a vague outline of who and what Trump is, or isn’t, and … well … uncertainty was built into their certainty. The moment they will begin to disbelieve their vague outline is when the uncertainty overpowers the certainty. Until then … we should stop acting confused that someone believes what they believe.

 

Anyway.

 

I love the quote I opened with even though I hate vague. The truth is that we all live with some vague outlines albeit your vague outline may actually be one of my non-vague outlines, and vice versa. And when they are in conflict then … restless spirit fly vaguewell … there is conflict.

 

All that said … while vague sucks there is a reason we do it … and this reason is not stupid, nor unenlightened nor ignorant.

It is just damn practical to have some vague outlines.

 

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting.

 

 

Life is restless.

Our vague outlines need to accommodate some of its restlessness. Not recognizing that is either naive or foolish.

 

leadership, resentment and impact on delegation

September 8th, 2017

resentment definition

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“I eventually came to understand that in harboring the anger, the bitterness and resentment towards those that had hurt me, I was giving the reins of control over to them.”

 

Isabel Lopez

 

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“Beware of those who are bitter, for they will never allow you to enjoy your fruit.”

 

Suzy Kassem

 

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Well.

 

Spite and resentment is one of the least discussed business ailments in the resentment fear angerbusiness leadership and organization world.

 

What I mean is that businesses around the world <including the good ole USofA> are strewn with middle management and upper management who carry a full backpack of resentment. This backpack has a nifty well designed logo on it — victim.

 

I would imagine <this is a guess> that this significant sprinkling of people in the business world carrying around the resentment of being victimized in some form or fashion do not hold the most senior spots but rather they hold the responsibilities most dangerous to the overall health of an organization – middle management.

 

They are most likely not at the top because those people got the positions they deserve <mostly>.

 

The ones who carry resentment are the ones who have been promoted “too slowly” or maybe haven’t been “recognized for the talents they offer” or maybe have been passed over by “someone who doesn’t know half the shit I know” … and then … to their satisfaction … they have FINALLY been promoted.

 

They take the step up but before they do … stop at the bottom of the stairs to pick up their backpack of resentment … and then accept the step up.

 

I often think of this as the ugly underbelly of ‘entitled’ or “finally getting what one deserves.” This is … uhm … in other words … resentment. And resentment carries a nasty quiver of grievance arrows to shoot when given the opportunity.

And grievances have a nasty habit of being one of those things that like to be addressed and not ignored.

 

Now.

 

Some people confuse this with “carrying a chip on their shoulder” which is what got them to where they are today.

 

Uhm. That’s bullshit.

 

People mistakenly conflate “carrying a chip on their shoulder” with ambition.

resent chip on shoulder

 

It’s not as simple as that. In fact … that simplistic ‘go about business like they have a chip on their shoulder’ is actually just a lazy attitude toward motivation.

 

It is more often than not some self-created ‘boogieman’ someone has created in their mind in order to go out and be your best. That’s bullshit. If that’s all you have for motivation … well … that’s just not good <for you and the people you work with>.

 

Yes.

In small doses a ‘chip on your shoulder’ can give you some well needed nudges to “I will show them” attitude at some key moments.

 

No.

Large doses, or constant, “conducting myself with a chip on my shoulder” attitude simply makes you … well … an asshole.

 

You become an asshole because this 100% chip on shoulder attitude actually makes hate, in some form or fashion, the energy to drive everything – it creates an outsized sense of grievance which you bring with you wherever you go.

This grievance not only seems to pour from every pore in this person but also seems to appear every time this person makes a decision <if not in the words they say>.

 

Yeah.

 

The resentment people can be crafty.

 

resentment are wsps in memoryCrafty in that they justify their behavior not just based on their outsized chip but more often that they are standing up for all who have been overlooked and begrudged of what they were entitled to by some unfair system or ‘cadre of assholes driven to let mediocrity thrive.’

 

It’s another version of us versus them but with a total selfish foundation.

 

In addition.

If they are good at masking their resentment, each decision, taken as mutually exclusive of all other decisions, can maybe be explained as a ‘personal issue being addressed’ or sometimes even simply an impulsive instinctual decision.

 

That’s bullshit too.

 

I am not suggesting all employees burdened by an unhealthy weight of resentment are actually bad managers and business people <in a pragmatic competent sense> but they do have a nasty tendency to have built this façade of some “personal brand” which they have honed over time as they have been ignored & overlooked so much so that all decisions and choices get instinctually filtered through this personal brand filter.

 

Nothing is impulsive, nothing is “resentment driven” and nothing is “addressing a grievance” … it is all simply driven by the personal brand.

 

What makes this behavior confusing to people <in terms of trying to discern motivations and the sense that there is an unhealthy amount of resentment incorporated into the management style> is that there is no long term strategy … it just assumes that all transactions meet the brand therefore, in the long run, it is good.

 

Exceeding expectations is defined in a transaction by transaction basis and secret ingredient is resentmentweapons used to meet expectations <responsibilities> are justified a means to an end. In other words these managers can screw anyone they want professionally but if within that specific project, assignment or transaction the greater organizational expectations are met or exceeded … well … this manager has “won.”

 

Oddly … this behavior creates an odd sense of consistency … & inconsistency. It can often appear inconsistent in that the actions, behavior & decisions are not particularly driven by any business philosophy or ideology … or even based on what is right or wrong.  This drives the appearance of inconsistency.

The consistency is grounded on vindictiveness. This doesn’t mean any and all actions are vindictive just that if the opportunity arises to address some self-defined grievance and the window of opportunity to be vindictive opens … well … this person will jump through that window.

 

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“I must fight with my weapons. Not his. Not selfishness and brutality and shame and resentment.”

 

John Fowles

 

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waste time on resentment an blame energy businessHere is the problem with all that I have shared today.

 

Resentment is part of the devilish trinity of bad shit in a business environment – fear, anger, resentment.

All the yesterdays make this person angry and humiliated and, frankly, they feel like they have been taken advantage of.

 

It creates a negative emotional foundation from which all behavior and actions are leveraged from.

 

I could argue that this is a cultural thing. Something like a “culture of entitlement” in which people feel like they are promised promotions & money simply because they work hard.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

Individuals are responsible and complicit in this attitude and behavior – culture does not force them to do anything and think anything on this issue.

 

I could argue that this is some version of culture encouraging a larger sense of victimhood.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

It is not victimhood if you shoulder your own responsibilities and are ‘punished’ if the chips do not fall your way.

 

I could argue that thus is some warped version of culture encouraging unrealistic expectations.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

Expectations are defined personally … society and culture doesn’t tell you what to expect … you craft that expectation all by your lonesome. And, I have news for everyone, while Life & business can be pretty cruel and unfair, in general, those who have ability and work hard do not typically get overlooked or left behind. Hate to tell the “resentful managers” but … well … I feel pretty confident suggesting that as a basic business truth.

 

never remember the cost of resentment

The only thing I will argue is that someone who has a big backpack of resentment should never be a leader.

 

Why?

 

Anger today.

 

Resentment of yesterday.

 

Fear of tomorrow.

 

That is the trio of partners in crime in this sad story. I have to tell you. I am fairly sure no business wants those three sitting in any one office every day in their business.  And I am absolutely sure these are not qualifications one seeks in a new employee.

 

a change has come over the affairs of mankind (as it always does)

August 28th, 2017

 

generation think attitudes collective individual share

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“… my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age in which we live. No nation can now shut itself from the surrounding world and trot around the same old path of its fathers. A change has come over the affairs of mankind.  … intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.”

 

——

Frederick Douglas 1850

 

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“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

 

Gaylord Nelson

 

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Ok.

 

Because of the business I am in <marketing advertising & business strategic unique abilityconsulting> I am constantly inundated with the hyperbole associated with “new and unique.”

So, I admit, I am always skeptical of “worst ever”, “best ever” and “whatever superlative you want to toss out” ever.

 

That’s why I almost always step up to the plate when I hear someone suggest how the world is changing like it has never changed before.

 

Or that our situation has never been worse.

Or something is better than it has ever been before.

 

I admit.

 

I kind of chuckle when I hear all this.

 

I often seem to create a maelstrom of conversational misery when I state things like “change is the constant companion of every generation” … or say something like “it isn’t any more difficult for this generation … it is just different.”

Or even when I pull out the quotes I used to open this piece.

 

Frankly.

crazy changes the world

Most people my age think I am nuts when I say it.

 

Shit.

 

Most people any age.

 

Or think I am out of touch with what is happening around us.

 

Ok.

 

If I were sensitive, I would care.

 

Or more likely I would care if I didn’t find quotes like this.

 

“… my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age in which we live. No nation can now shut itself from the surrounding world and trot around the same old path of its fathers. A change has come over the affairs of mankind.  … intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.”

 

Sure sounds like something you may have heard recently from some pundit on TV.

 

But.

 

This is mid 1800’s in a speech in NYC.

 

It is a fact that each generation has faced some radical change and thought process and attitude shift.

 

Yup.

 

I could argue <and I have> that the more things change the more they stay the same.

 

ideas crazy light

They stay the same because … well … we move on, we progress, we improve upon what is. Inevitably, as that happens, each generation gets “left behind” as another races toward what will be.

Think of it as tectonic plates in which friction occurs as the new plate slowly <and sometimes quickly> surges over the older plate.

 

Yeah.

The older tectonic plate.

 

The one that is supposed to be smarter.

 

The one that is supposed to know the best.

 

The one that “got us to where we are today.”

 

The one that suggests “why throw away what appears to be good.” 

 

Well.

 

The one has someone scraps of truth in what they are thinking.

 

Pieces or parts smarter and know the best?

Yes. Sure.

 

On the whole?

Nope.

 

Why?

 

You don’t know what you don’t know … and if you hunker down on only what you do know … well … that is called “stagnant.”

 

Ok.

 

To be fair.

change-people-technology

A minority of those being left behind actually enjoy the change an the friction and the conflict. These are the ones who empower the youth. Fuel it. Guide it. Not restrict it. Those few get to enjoy the ride toward “what will be.”

 

But they are a minority.

 

On the whole the majority of any older generation holds on for dear life to what they know and makes them comfortable. And it would possibly be okay of they did that and remained silent … but instead they complain and gripe about what is lost within the following generations and, ultimately, go to some fairly absurd lengths to try and slow change.

 

It is too bad.

 

For by focusing on what is lost they neglect to have the amazing opportunity to see what is gained.

 

But.

 

Regardless.

 

In the end.

 

Change comes upon us whether we want it or not.  As Frederick Douglas said in 1850 … ‘you cannot ignore the intellect of the world.’ Change is our constant companion <and mostly a friend> … at all times we face “a change has come over the affairs of mankind.’

 

True in 1850.

 

True in 2017.

 

True in 2150.

 

This doesn’t mean that we are not slow to change … because we are. Change in mankind is like turning a full tanker ship.

Part of this slow change is actually a reflection of mankind’s survival DNA.

 

And if you want to debate the ‘slow change’ than maybe accept thinking of it more like Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction. The small rise up disrupting and destroying the status quo and that of ‘the big’ … and through their destruction <eating away at the status quo> they begin recreating what is into what could be and what will be.

 

Now.

 

I am not suggesting all past experience should be ignored. But it is a fact, a change self getting better and worse same timetruth, that the older generation needs to be able to let go of some ‘beliefs’ in order to free the change that is inevitable in the affairs of mankind.

 

I say that recognizing this is not a truth because they were wrong in the past but rather because they are wrong ‘now.’

 

Effective change demands a healthy dialogue and relationship between the past perspective and a new perspective.

And this is where the current affairs of mankind tend to fall short … they lose perspective as time goes on because they have cocooned themselves within their successful behavior.

 

Regardless.

 

This post all comes down to several overarching thoughts.

 

Each generation faces radical adversity.

 

Each generation facilitates extraordinary change <typically beneficial as a whole>.

 

Each older generation is extraordinarily reluctant to release that which is comfortable to them <and what they “know” … or believe to know>.

 

And, lastly.

 

We older folk, manager types, should reflect upon this.

 

Why?

 

Because we are managers.

And we are managers of those who will foster the abilities of those who will beget what will be better than what we have done or created.  That doesn’t diminish what we have done. And we should embrace the fact we have created an environment for others to go farther than we were able to go.

 

We wonder why managing young people <call them millennials if you would like> is so difficult?

 

Well.

 

It is because we are holding them back <in general>. It’s like trying to tame mustangs in the Wild West. Except we, unlike the savvy old cowboys, don’t change me twitterreflect on the beauty of the wildness of the mustang as we try and tame them. We simply see the wild untamedness and believe it is a shame they are so wild.

 

Older managers, to be successful, need to admire the beauty of the untamed.  And not seek to break the mustangs but rather guide their energy to enable them to take the herd to the heights it deserves.

And maybe even more important … older managers need to remember they are not the mustang’s mothers & fathers but rather we are savvy cowboys seeking to guide energy.

 

Anyway.

Is this poetic metaphor a bad one? Maybe.

 

But certainly something worth thinking about.

 

A change has come over the affairs of mankind … uhm … the more things change the more they stay the same. This is not anything unique … this is called “progress.”

 

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“Those who stand for different causes during different generations often experience the same oppositions and the same difficulties as those of the previous and the next generations. That is the basis of history repeating itself.”

 

Criss Jami

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pardons and the trump equivalency trick

August 28th, 2017

laws dilbert

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“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

 

—–

Aristotle

 

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“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.

 

It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

 

——

Ronald Reagan

 

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Well.

 

If there is one thing the Trump administration does well, really well <great just because you can Trump should notagain even> … is to find some scrap of equivalency to suggest what they have done or said is “normal.”

 

In addition, they gird their normalizing arguments with “because he can” simplistic tripe.

 

This is the Trump business mantra applied to the presidency … ‘it is technically legal & norms are irrelevant’.

 

This is the lesson that Trump appears to have ignored, the one where parents teach every child “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

 

Look.

 

Presidents can pardon whoever they want convicted of a federal crime … not a state crime. Technically Trump was within his ‘technical rights’ to pardon Sherriff Joe Arpaio and, literally, he wins because “the left” and Republicans’ with any sense of norms will go ballistic.

But I would suggest society actually loses on this one <as does the American legal system>.

 

In a normal world this pardon may appear in the overall scheme of things as small potatoes … but it is not. With this president it edges onto the slippery slope of a new normal <which is not normal nor desired normal>. It edges into an undermining of the justice system.

 

Hear me out.

 

2 things make me say this.dear mr president letter trump

 

How Trump gave the pardon verbally.

 

He suggested in his words that the Sheriff was just doing his job well. In other words … the laws were either wrong or the law of the land restricts people from doing their jobs. Uhm. And that the president is the judge of whether the laws are right or wrong, constricting or supportive.

The words matter just as much as the pardon itself. The words send a message with regard to how people should view laws and the legal system.

By the way … the words are as much Trump as anything we have ever seen … only he knows what laws are truly worthy and he rules his business that way. In his mind Trump is the sole arbiter of right versus wrong & legal versus ‘useless law.’

 

 

How Trump came to the pardon.

 

He offered the pardon without his Dept. of Justice. In other words … the DOJ and what they thought <or knew> was irrelevant. Process and legal minds are irrelevant … he is the law <a shiver went down my spine as I typed that>. It should be disconcerting to any and all that Trump appears to come to a conclusion about something, particularly what is legal and what isn’t, without seeking the legal process to back it up.

 

But.

 

justice statue sword fight for libertyAt the root of the issue is that a “law & order” president just pardoned a ‘law & order employee’ who … well … not only flaunted the law but broke the law of rights. The fact is he is not a law abiding sheriff if he’s disobeying a court order <let us remind ourselves that this charming fellow was a convicted sheriff, who ran sweltering, punishing jails where inmates died and was accused of targeting Latino residents … AND … during the litigation that led to his conviction for criminal contempt, he hired a private detective to investigate the wife of a federal judge hearing a case against his office >.

 

And at the root of the Trump issue <as if there is just one rotten root> is, as USA Today points out, Arpaio didn’t meet the Justice Department guidelines for a pardon. His conviction wasn’t five years old, he hadn’t expressed remorse and he hadn’t even applied to the Office of Pardon Attorney.

The day before, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president would follow a “thorough and standard process” in considering the pardon.

That process usually requires seven layers of review and an FBI background check.

 

 

That did not happen.

 

Past Bush ethics Chief counsel Richard Painter said:

 

—————–

 

Well, I don’t see how this would have made it through any normal process.

This sheriff has been known for lawless acts for many years. I don’t think he would have lasted one week as a sheriff in my home state of Minnesota. We trump soul behavior tweet revealare a law and order state. Many places are. We favor law and order in the United States.

 

When a judge tells a sheriff to do something, the sheriff does it. That’s what law and order is all about. And if you’re in contempt of court and you’re a law enforcement official, you’re abusing your power. You should not be pardoned by the President of the United States.

 

And the message here is very clear: the President likes sheriff Joe because he likes going after immigrants. He was going after minorities. And that’s the clear message here. And I think it’s really reprehensible and I wish that something could be done about it. We gotta think seriously about whether Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States.

 

I’ve been a Republican for thirty years and we’ve got a lot of great people in the Republican Party. Who can serve honorably in this United States government and can serve this President of the United States.

 

This is just one more stick in the eye to the minority community and to those victimized by the very few people in law enforcement like sheriff Joe who choose to use their power abusively. And choose to ignore the orders of the judiciary. And that is lawlessness. And that should not be tolerated in the United States.

————————-

 

Sigh.

 

The legal system is degraded because it is politicized in the way that it looks like the president wants to do what he wants to do which, in the end, undermines the utility of the legal system overall.

 

But watch.

 

All the Trump surrogates will be flocking to the TV shows to start shaking their fists and defiantly spouting out some false equivalence to justify this non-little trump pouting tweetingnormal presidential behavior.

 

They will use scraps of truth and facts to weave a story that suggest Trump is normal, thought normally and even acted normally.

 

This is not normal and there are few fair equivalences.

 

In the most harsh view … with the pardoning of Joe Arpaio … Trump has established his place in history alongside those who exercised the same executive and dictatorial rights such as Stalin of Russia, Mussolini of Italy and Hitler <as well as Erdogan, Putin and Duterte>. That does not mean he IS them just that he is utilizing some of the same tactics.

 

To be clear.

 

While I fear that Trump and Arpaio are bigots and nationalists and authoritarians … that doesn’t make them Nazis <so I wish some people would tone down some of the rhetoric>.

It just makes them bigoted, nationalistic authoritarians. That’s bad enough and I see little value in bringing up Nazis.

 

That is a false equivalency.

 

I have said this before and I will say it until I die … the Trump presidency nor normal daysthe Trump behavior is normal and we need to stop suggesting it is normal. We should be seeking to explain and justify his uniqueness in behavior <and if we cannot then he should be penalized> but no one … and I mean no one … should be using scraps of normalcy to create a false equivalency of a larger whole normalcy to a non-normal president.

 

This is NOT normal in how we should be viewing our legal system and legal decisions.

 

Trump is certainly no Reagan but maybe we, all of us, should heed Reagan’s words in the age of Trump … we must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.

 

disconnected and decision making

August 8th, 2017

think courage work ideas question curious

 

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“Developing our abilities to think more clearly, richly, fully — individually and collectively — is absolutely crucial [to solving world problems].”

 

——–

Adrian West, research director at the Edward de Bono Foundation U.K.

 

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So.

 

I was asked the other day about what I believed the internet, and connectivity’s, brain connection peoplegreatest impact on business was.

 

After chuckling that there was no one thing and we didn’t have enough time to talk about all the aspects that have impacted us … I did suggest one thing we don’t talk about which has a larger ripple effect on the future of business – connectivity’s impact on decision making and how we teach decision making.

 

Simplistically, technological connectivity has killed maybe 90% of the delegation of critical thinking & decision making.

 

Yeah.

 

There are a couple of other sociological insidious things seeping into organizational culture – discouragement of risk taking, particularly among younger employees, ‘flat’ organizations which tend to only put the senior decision makers closer to actual tactical decisions and things like that.

But what connectivity has done is make the most experienced decision makers more available 24/7 and younger people more likely to “send them a quick text asking them what to do” or an email with the question at hand … so that the younger person doesn’t have to make the decision. This translates into less decision making experience, less real ‘outcome of decision experience’ as well as all the critical thinking that gets crammed into one’s head when forced to make some decision <which always takes on some extraordinary size & significance when younger and less experienced>.

 

I believe this is a real issue.

 

In fact … I believed it was so important I googled it to do some research for this post.

 

  • ‘how connectivity has killed decision making’0 results.

 

 

zero none zilch

  • how the internet has killed decision making’ … 0 results on the topic … most on ‘overthinking’ or ‘Information overload is killing our ability to make decisions’

 

 

I even tried ‘how the smartphone has killed decision making’ and got zilch other than some crap about how ‘smartphones are destroying a generation’ and shit like that.

 

Lets be clear.

 

This isn’t about ‘distractions’ or ‘short attention span’ this is about circumventing critical decision making skills through easy connectivity to someone who can make the decision <instead of you>.

 

And I found it extremely odd that there is nothing obvious in terms of the discussion online because society views technology through an extremely critical eye on perceptions of how it forms, or doesn’t form, critical thinking skills. And nowhere is the conflict more apparent than in the business world where in a seemingly non-stop 24/7 world where we deem “speed” as having some absurd value above anything else we force more and more decisions ‘up’ in an organization.

 

Let me tell you how it worked in a disconnected world.

 

As an old guy we had no smartphones and computers weren’t chugging out hundreds of emails between employees all the time.

 

My bosses sat with other bosses in some high falutin’ section of the office space <most often with doors and big desks> and I didn’t have easy access to my bosses because … well … they were not within shouting distance and they had their own shit to do.

 

I had team members, clients and other departments who always needed answers so they could do shit and make some progress <to meet deadlines that I had inevitably placed on them> and, when they needed a decision, 90+% of the time they didn’t want me hanging up the phone saying “I will get back to you after I speak to ‘x’ person.”

And many times I was out of town in meetings and … well … decisions had to be made.

 

In this disconnected world 25 year old Bruce had to make some decisions … the fuck question fucking stupidhopefully some good ones.

 

 

This didn’t mean that afterwards I didn’t sit there going … “fuck me, was that the right thing to do?” … because I did.

 

 

So in that disconnected world I would have to get up when I had a free minute and track down my boss and walk them through what was going to happen because I had made some decision.

 

I could go to Pat, who would sometimes be laying on his back under his desk looking at a world map he had taped under his desk thinking <claiming it gave him a different view of the world>, who would 99% of the time asking me why I thought it was the right decision, what other things we could have considered and start tearing apart the decision to better understand it.manager good

 

I could go to Charlie who would 99% of the time go ‘okay’ … and then in a burst of energy start talking about what we could do now, a kind of “what’s next attitude” now that the decision had been made.

 

I could go to Beth who would always, always, just listen … and then start talking about how we could follow up with some research, or data, or support so that <in her words> “the decision doesn’t get killed by someone else’s opinions.”

 

I could go to any number of other bosses throughout my younger years and discuss a decision that I had made after the fact.

 

In a disconnected world a less experienced person was demanded to assume some responsibility.

 

The bottom line it was my decision and I had to live with it. I didn’t have a shitload of bosses who tried to kill the decision but rather seemed to accept it, warts & all, and figure out how to move forward from it.

 

Now.

 

A shitload of people may argue that in a connected world better decisions are made <slightly> faster <assuming you can reach the decision maker in some timely fashion> therefore business has benefited.

 

They may be partially right.

 

But I would argue 3 things:

 

pivot-mistake-awkward-learn-manage<1> Most decisions made at a lower more tactical, or less strategically influential, level are not really business killers nor are they even ‘not fixable’,

 

<2> by delegating responsibility for a decision ‘upwards’ … someone never learns the critical thinking necessary, sometimes under time duress, nor the burden of responsibility,

 

<3> and ability to bear burden of responsibility is actually an indicator of future leadership skills.

 

I have gone on ad nausea over the years with regard to our short term paranoia within the business world and how it is killing us … and this ‘delegate decisions upwards because connectivity permits it’ is just one additional example.

 

Look.

 

The people who have the most confidence in their decision making skills, unless they are narcissistic asshats, are the ones with most experience in making decisions. And examining decisions made by someone else <which is what a younger person does if a more senior person makes a decision> is not even close to the actual experience of running the mental gauntlet of making the decision yourself … and understanding he burden of responsibility you assume by doing so.

 

By outsourcing our decisions to more experienced people, or even the false ‘certainty’ in data, we cheat ourselves.

We are left responding rather than thinking creatively, critically and autonomously.

And maybe worse we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to unlearn what we believe we have learned <which truly can only happen through trial & error>.

 

Gut feelings, and instincts, or even data … are not the best tools for an ignorance unlearn untrueuncertain world … they only offer the illusion of certainty.  The business world is a complex world with thousands of decisions and a relentless onslaught of uncertainty.

 

About the only thing to maneuver your way through all of this complexity & uncertainty is by using the skill of critical thinking.

 

When we deny people the challenge of thinking critically, evaluating situations, making your own decisions and bearing the burden of responsibility we are heading towards a future where future manager will lack the cognitive ability, and critical thinking skills, to effectively think and make good decisions.

 

While I have several worries with regard to what technology and connectivity is doing to our business world … this is one we do not discuss enough if we are truly interested in the next generation of business people to be better than us.

power concedes nothing unless demanded to do so

July 26th, 2017

 dynamics-of-power

 

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 “Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will.”

 

—–

Frederick Douglass

 

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“Next to the assumption of power is the responsibility of relinquishing it.”

 

Benjamin Disraeli

 

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Well.

 

We don’t talk about power and people often beyond the tripe about how power power authority leadcorrupts people <as I have written … only people can corrupt themselves>.

 

So let me talk about the dynamics of power in business in a non-corrupting way. What I mean by that is … well … responsibility & authority. Whether anyone really admits it or not once you attain a senior position in a business you have gained power. Now.

 

This power is most often not embodied in any nefarious way but rather it is simply a reflection of responsibility & authority.

 

You have power over decisions.

 

You have power over people.

 

You have power over funds and their allocation.

 

You even have power over ideas … which ones die and which ones live.

 

Most of us do not see this as some all empowering power or even eye it with an power-within-corrupt-strongauthoritarian belief. We do not view it as some “center of power” but rather we see it is actually more like a linear tool <or hammer> selectively used.

 

Now.

 

Wielded well … power can look like a central source of authority but ‘wielded well’ is actually a flurry of linear tools, like playing whack-a-mole, applied to establish selective moments of desired behavior and progress <and this flurry actually creates the sense that there is a larger centralized power>.

 

But here is the thing.

 

Once you have gained authority you are extremely hesitant to concede the ‘power.’ This hesitancy actually shifts into full-on “hold on with ragged claws” if you have mastered <or you feel like you have mastered it> the ‘useful flurry of power’ in appropriate ways.

 

Partially I think this is the allure of … well … owning the initiative – or having some power over initiatives. This shouldn’t be undersold. It is exhilarating and … well … powerful. In business while we measure results and report ad nausea the most satisfaction most leaders get is not in measuring parts & pieces but rather the totality of what they do.  and once you taste that satifation you have no desire to conceded anything that could keep you from possibly attaining that satiscation again.

 

Is that holding onto power? Sure. I guess.

But I tend to believe it is more “I know how to do my shit and I want to keep ding that shit” attitude than any ral bad ‘power trip’ type attitude.

 

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“Never relinquish the initiative.”

 

—–

Charles de Gaulle

 

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Unfortunately … people on the outside just don’t see it that way.

 

And it is understandable they may not see it the right way because I believe it speaking Power of Words 577x600was Geoffrey O’Brien who said ‘history unfolds as always in the midst of distraction, misunderstanding, and partially obscured sight-lines.’

 

That is how the authority version of power works. It unfolds in the midst of distraction and partially obscured sight lines.

 

That is how authority works. It unfolds in the midst of a flurry of choices, decisions, delegations and doing <all blurry and, yet, creating a sense of central power>.

 

Regardless of what it is … or what it looks like … once attained we tend to not want to relinquish it – we do not want to concede it.

 

It must be demanded to be relinquished.

 

And here is where it gets tricky. Because even if there is a demand to relinquish, and you do have to relinquish <you get fired and have to take a ‘lesser authority job’ or you get demoted or you simply shift jobs with a different authority level> … we hate to concede it.

 

I mention that because that is one reason why older senior people who decide to take a lower titled job <even with the best intentions and capability to actually ‘do the job’> can struggle or just be a pain in the ass.

 

It’s not that they truly are a pain in the ass it is simply … well … they have felt the satisfaction of authority and dislike the loss of that authority.

 

All that said.

 

Power concedes nothing <unless the power owner is stupid, foolish or arrogant> … but as someone smarter than I said once … it always reveals.

 

Authority reveals.

 

And maybe what I am suggesting today is that authority can actually reveal character and ability. And once you have seen what you can do, what you are capable of doing and what you like to do … well … it is not an easy thing to conceded or relinquish.

 

And, let me be clear, you can actually be good with authority and effective with use of power and can still be demanded to relinquish it.

 

It is a falsity to suggest that being good at something means you will always be able to do it <or someone will always seek to have you do it>. you can be forced to relinquish authority, even if you are good at it, for a variety of reasons in business <ranging from well-intended to absurd>.

 

It is natural to want it again if you were demanded to relinquish it.

 

Anyway.perspective common sense justice good people

 

I say this so that maybe you take a second before you rush to claim someone is ‘power hungry’ or ‘protective of their power’ … and mean it in a bad way. Having authority and enjoying authority and wielding authority well is addictive <or maybe just like having ‘the perfect buzz’>.

Is it wrong to be hungry for that? Whew. Sure doesn’t seem wrong.

 

I say this so that maybe you take a second before you rush to judge a person who has had a senior role and has decided to assume a position with lesser responsibility & authority because … well … once you have had authority it is really really hard to relinquish it.

 

While power concedes nothing I would suggest that the feeling of authority used well tends to not want to concede anything.

 

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“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

 

Paulo Coelho

 

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Enlightened Conflict