Enlightened Conflict

it is perhaps the misfortune of my life

June 11th, 2017

 

 

good bad person trust reliable

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“It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.”

 

Søren Kierkegaard

 

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“I wasn’t much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.”

 

Charles Bukowski

 

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So.

 

Last night I had a little time before I shut down my computer to scrounge around some of my favorite websites for some thoughts, quotes and images.

I don’t really believe in serendipity but within 15 minutes on three different sites I gathered the three quotes that anchor this piece.

............ restless thinking one big adventure ........

………… restless thinking one big adventure ……..

I sat back after copying them and I realized it is perhaps the misfortune of my Life that I am interested in far too much.

My misfortune is that I am incessantly curious, a relentless contrarian to existing thought & thinking and a restless thinker in general. My misfortune is that I see restless thinking as one big adventure.

 

I sat back after copying them and I realized I am not satisfied being a petty thief … I want the whole world.

 

And as I sat back I also thought a little about how I got to this place.

Growing up I remember hearing a lot of “maybe you should be more realistic” type advice.

I remember it chafing.

 

It made me think … well … I should think smaller.

 

That chafed.

 

I am sure the ‘safer’ aspect … aiming toward more achievable things and not stretching too far possibly felt okay … but I chafed on the whole thought of not getting what I thought could be achieved or what could be done.

............. small Life pleasure ............

…………. small Life pleasure …………

Shit.

 

I still do.

 

Going small just seems … well … small to me.

 

And, yes, there is a price to pay for thinking this way.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

I will point out two prices you pay.

 

The first price is restlessness.

mctague misfortune curious 1Oh. And restlessness can make people feel uneasy. It makes them uneasy because you are not easily slotted. People want you to present them with a peg and they can put it in some hole and thinking about it and look at it.

 

People, like me, who have the misfortune of being interested in anything and everything and not satisfied with one thing are more of a box. And while boxes represent some symmetry and some tangible aspect for people to grasp, at the same time, … sigh … it is not a peg

 

 

The second price is wins … as in quantity of wins. Even I, probably a more pragmatic aspirationalist, don’t aim toward some truly realistic things on occasion.

That means not getting done what you want to get done, not getting where you want to get to and not getting, in general, the largeness you desired. In other words … you didn’t get a win while someone who aimed lower or accepted something smaller did get a win.

 

Does that matter? I mean life doesn’t really give out trophies … people do.

 

Yeah. It does matter.

 

Watching others win when you don’t does matter to some extent. And you would be lying if you didn’t admit that.

 

Aiming for it all … or something bigger <more broad> than something smaller <more focused> … and not getting it can make you start thinking smaller.

 

And why do you do that? You want a frickin’ win.

 

And that … well … that can affect how you think and what you do.

 

It does so because many of us are willing to compromise some fairly important things to win on occasion.

 

Shit.

Even more of us are willing to compromise a lot of fairly important things <which they hadn’t even tangibly decided were important to them> in order to win on occasion.

 

Oh.

 

I bring up the second group because they are the ones who don’t get the ones who have the misfortune of wanting bigger things.

It’s like a petty thief most likely scoffs at the master thief.

 

Uhm.

But those people may just call this reality <and, therefore, kind of suggesting those who have the misfortune of wanting to know everything about everything are not realistic>.

 

Whew.

Yeah.

 

athlete reality stringsIt is quite likely that my reality, and those whose reality is similar, fights reality itself – I mean society & culture creates lines of reality of which we get boxed in by with regard to expectations.

 

Umberto Eco is the one who suggested life has “lines of resistance.” This was his version of reality.

 

These ‘lines of resistance’ are established mostly so that we cannot say or do whatever we like with impunity.

The problem with that is they also bring along some baggage … baggage like … uhm … what is viewed as pragmatic & realistic <smaller versions of shit that are achievable by many rather than few>.

 

Oh.

Yeah.

 

But, thankfully, the lines of resistance can shift.

 

But, thankfully, some can reach across the lines of resistance and gain access to some bigger shit which lies outside the lines of resistance.

 

All that said.

Life, and these lines of resistance, encourage some people … mostly those who have the misfortune to be interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing to shrink them … encourage them to think smaller and, inevitably, maybe be smaller than what they should be.

==============================

 

“Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself.

Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me.

 what i believe truth opinion

Because I didn’t want to be a burden.

I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered.

But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being.

 

I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters. And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth.

Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honour my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority.

I choose me.”

 

Daniell Koepke

 

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Let me be clear.

 

Smaller is safer. Smaller can actually be very satisfying. Smaller, in some ways, can actually permit you to live a fuller Life <although I would argue it’s not really a bigger Life>.

 

And while small, in this case, could be construed as bad or lesser than … it is not. It is simply a viable choice for people with regard t their Life and how they want to live it.

 

Just as those who have the misfortune to want the whole world. That is their choice.

 

And I would argue that whatever your choice we are all aiming tward the same place … lets call it our “home.” That home within. The place within you that either sits on the favorite Barcalounger safe & sound in a Life lived well in smaller aspects … or the one who wanders forever restlessly over hill & thru the dale seeking the next interest or learning or new thing.

 

Personally, I am the latter.

I am a nomad thinker.  I want to know it all. And when I know something I want to know more.

But that topic is for another day.

 

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“All of life is a coming home. bad-home-is-whereever-you-are

Salesmen, secretaries, coal miners, beekeepers, sword swallowers, all of us.

All the restless hearts of the world, all trying to find a way home.”

 

—–

Patch Adams

 

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Today I would suggest whether you have the misfortune of wanting to know it all or whether you believe in something bigger than you or simply believe there is something bigger within you to be found by not wanting it all … your compass & your map resides within … not some external place or location which may appear to fulfill some aspect of ‘home.’

 

 

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so far out to sea <‘restless’>

 

so far out to sea

     standing on impassive intensity

                     of restless possibilities

oh,

     push back the curtain

of slumbering elements

      of disordered solitude.

stir up a peace of

       desolate despair

                       drowning out a cacophony

       of restless disinterested

                           distant thoughts.

restless sun

               reflects upon the path chosen,

                      stand frozen,

      restless mind

                    wander the waves roaming

so far out to sea

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obliviousness (or blind spots)

June 7th, 2017

reality-slapped-you-really-hard

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“One is often unconsciously surrounded by one’s own personal reality.”

 

Pawan Mishra

 

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“To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.”

 

—–

Amos Bronson Alcott

 

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“People who have had little self-reflection live life in a huge reality blind-spot.”

 

Bryant McGill

 

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Ok.

 

all have a blind spot obliviousWe all have blind spots about our self.

 

And I mean “we” as in everyone — 100% of us.

 

And they are almost painful to watch occurring in anyone – particularly in someone you like. With someone you don’t like? It still makes you sit back and think “what are my blind spots?”

 

Oh.

 

That sitting back thing.

 

Judging the events of the past we have a tendency to fall victim to what behavioral economists call “the hindsight bias.”

 

It is unhelpful because it implies that if we were just smarter in the present, we could see clearly enough into the future to avoid stupid mistakes. But that is rarely the case. The data available in the present are wildly contradictory, and many outcomes seem plausible.

 

Regardless.

We also have psychological blind spots – aspects of our personalities that are hidden from our view. These might be annoying habits like interrupting or bragging, or they might be deeper fears or desires that are too threatening to acknowledge. Although it’s generally not pleasant to confront these aspects of ourselves, doing so can be very useful when it comes to personal growth, and when it comes to improving our relationships with others – there is undoubtedly something we do that, unbeknownst to us, drives our significant others, roommates, friends, or coworkers a little crazy.

 

I thought about this mostly because of Donald J Trump. while I have never met the man he seems oblivious to reality – the world and himself.

 

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 reality problem

President Trump in a new AP interview boasted that he has delivered CBS its best ratings “since the World Trade Center came down.”

After being asked about his relationship with voters and lawmakers across the aisle, Trump pivoted to the high viewership numbers his national TV appearances bring in: “It’s interesting, I have, seem to get very high ratings… You know [Fox News Sunday host] Chris Wallace had 9.2 million people, it’s the highest in the history of the show. I have all the ratings for all those morning shows. When I go, they go double, triple. Chris Wallace, look back during the Army-Navy football game, I did his show that morning. It had 9.2 million people. It’s the highest they’ve ever had.”

He then bragged about his ratings on CBS’s Sunday show Face the Nation:

“[Host John] Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It’s the highest for Face the Nation or, as I call it, ‘Deface the Nation.’ It’s the highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ since the World Trade Center.

Since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage.”

He then immediately transitioned to railing against “fake media”—save for Fox News—treating him “unfairly.”

 

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Whew.

 

Trump doesn’t seem to realize that his ratings get a big boost because people don’t want to miss it if he says something asinine or just plain stupid. He is oblivious to the fact that ratings are not an objective indicator of quality but rather indicative of interest <or entertainment>. And, as 99% of us know … interest does not necessarily equal “quality, trust or likeability.”

NASCAR wrecks drive ratings but they don’t convey a positive attribute.

Everyone in marketing, those who do it professionally, know the difference between attention & interest as well as why it is important to look at the relationship between positive approval, an negative approval, and the interest scores <and you are a fool if you do not look at those scores>.

 

Anyway.

 

I feel sorry for people who are oblivious to their blind spots.

 

And, yes, oblivious is different than ‘do not see.”

 

The difference between the two are in fact the ability to be aware, i.e., totally oblivious is to be not capable of awareness.

‘Do not see’ means you could be aware but you choose to not be aware <what you elect to focus or not focus on>.

 

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“The worst bullies you will ever encounter in your life are your own thoughts.”

 

—-

Bryant H. McGill

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stupid in the rain oblivious to ideas business

I imagine this raises the painful reflective question “are we even capable of seeing ourselves as who we really are”?

 

Yikes.

That’s a painful question.
Psychology has thought about this question a shitload and they use words like discrepancy between self-awareness <representing how we see and describe ourselves> and external perception <representing how others see and would describe us>.

 

This comes to Life in a way I believe 99% of us can relate to … times where someone perceived you totally differently than you perceived yourself “oh, I am not that way at all”>.

 

Or maybe think about it this way.

You meet someone and assess and create a perception and … well … it is totally different than the self-awareness of that person.

 

We all do this crap.
Psychologists have even designed a “window into your soul” called the Johari-Window. It is one way to illustrate the difference between self-awareness and external perception. It represents a graphic model illustrating conscious and unwitting personality– and behavioral characteristics developed by the U.S. social psychologists Joseph (Jo) and Harry (hari) Ingham. The Johari window looks like this:

——


Johari window blind spot oblivious self awareness

—–

 

The “Arena“ represents that part of our personality and our behavior which we are fully aware of. The part of ourselves we display openly and without hesitation when in the company of others or how we would describe ourselves if asked.

 

 

The section “Façade” covers everything we hide from others because we believe that it should remain private. It includes secret wishes, for instance or thoughts we don’t feel like sharing. Understandably the extent of this area varies and depends on the company we happen to be keeping at the time. When we are with our partner or possibly our best friends it may be very small because we share more of ourselves with people we trust than with those with whom we may not be all that close. Regardless, with every person there is always something left over that is private and he/she alone knows about him/herself (and that is just fine!).

 

 

The area “Unknown” covers everything in our subconscious and therefore is not immediately accessible but still has a considerable impact on our thoughts and behavior: unconscious fears, repressed conflicts, traumata, urges, instincts and much more. According to Sigmund Freud this part covers 80 – 90% of everything determining our everyday behavior.

Even if we don’t want to go all that far, everyone knows that there are many situations when rational and conscious thinking and behavior play a very secondary role and that another part of us somehow takes over. The process of falling in love is an excellent example – or have you ever totally rationally and judiciously chosen your partner? We are unaware of our subconscious just as it is not obvious to others (well, the consequences sometimes are). We will never be able to get to the bottom of it ourselves, it would take considerable therapeutic reflections to come even close.

obvious oblivious

The last Quadrant, the “Blind Spot” is different. Although we can’t spot it on our own (just as we can’t see our face without a mirror), others can see it quite well and are able to tell us (acting as our mirror, so to speak). Even though we are not aware of it, the “Blind Spot” harbors habits, preferences, dislikes, prejudices and the like, all things that are clearly apparent to those with whom we deal. At best their reports will provide us with information about ourselves, in that way reducing our “Blind Spot” and therefore helping us to work on ourselves. If there is something in my “Blind Spot” I would like to change, others have to make me aware of it first. Alternatively others may discover competencies and skills in it of which I did not think to be capable.

 

 

 

In addition to this window if you google “oblivious” you will see there are gobs of psychological writings and ‘awareness offerings’ available if you ever want to professionally explore you blind spots.

 

Here is what I know.

 

We are all oblivious to some extent — some more than others.

 

Being oblivious to some extent can be dangerous.

 

Lack of self-awareness is never good.

 

I think 99% of us know we have some aggravating flaws & personal quirks … we are not oblivious to them instead we simply decide to overlook them as the ‘imperfections that make us who we are.’ At the same time … those same 99% of people do have blind spots — the shit they cannot see that others see.  That takes a little self work to get a grip on if we choose to accept this.

 

Oh.

 

sometimes your total obliviousness blows my mind

And then there are the 1% …those who are completely oblivious to what they do and how people see them.

Let’s call them the ones inflicted with is the malady of the ignorant <to be ignorant of one’s ignorance>. I am not sure they are redeemable.

I say that because to be completely oblivious either takes a shitload of work or you are just an arrogant egotist or you have some mental disorder that permits you to constantly live in some alternative universe in which you are the God.

 

I do my best to avoid the 1% and realize, as part of the 99%, I should do my best to improve my own sight of myself.

bad ideas never seem to die

June 6th, 2017

 

good idea bad idea fight time busines

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“If truth be told, the easy road is nothing more than an armchair in clever disguise. And if you look around, it seems that there are a whole lot of people in the furniture business.”

 

 

Craig D. Lounsbrough

 

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves …”

 

————–

Berean Study Bible

 

==========================

 

So.

 

I tend to believe most of us learn, fairly early in our careers, that bad ideas do bad idea light up good path battle businesnot die on their own. In fact … as you gain more experience you actually find that bad ideas can often be incredibly hard to kill –they may actually have more than nine lives.

 

At exactly the same time most of us also learn that good ideas rarely are seen as the greatest thing since sliced bread and embraced as a good idea as soon as they are presented.

 

Think about that for a second.

 

Bad ideas are incredibly hard to kill and good ideas can be incredibly hard to bring to life.

 

Well.

That’s pretty fucked up.

 

And, yet, despite learning this I still believe most of us are surprised when we find a bad idea still breathing and a good idea is breathing its last breath.

 

Shit.

 

Even I forget this lesson despite having seen some of the most bad ideas in the world live despite my best efforts and some of the goodest of ideas die despite my best efforts.

that is a terribe bad idea speak out business ideas

And I seem to keep forgetting it despite the fact the world is filled with some incredibly absurdly bad factually incomprehensible, or defensible, ideas.

 

Forgetting this idea is dangerous.

 

It creates a Life & business world strewn with bad ideas which can quite easily lead to a complacency that bad ideas will exist no matter what we do … or worse … complacency when faced with a bad idea because we believe it is fruitless to fight it.

 

I will not spend a lot of time on complacency but suffice it to say it is a sneaky little bastard especially when it comes to bad ideas.

But the bigger issue is that, for several reasons, we tend to let our guard down when faced with a bad idea.

 

The difference between a really bad idea and a ‘shrug your shoulders a little’ bad idea can often be indiscernible.

 

We have a bad habit of dismissing bad in its initial stages as just “bad.” This lets run or diea hardier & sturdier bad idea off the hook. It is quite possible most of us just hope it smothers itself in its badness and just goes away but more often than not … it does not. And, yet, time and time again we make an initial assessment of “bad, maybe & good” and mostly dismiss ‘bad’ and move on.

 

I could suggest that not all bad ideas are created equal but it is probably better advice to simply treat all bad ideas as equally bad. Don’t waste your time discerning the difference; just assume a bad idea will be a motherfucker to kill.

 

 

Bad ideas have an innate knack to normalize their being.

 

Once you let a bad idea off the hook when it is initially introduced it has a nasty habit of slipping into the general conversation as “possibility.”

In other words … because it didn’t die before it could draw its first breath it somehow becomes normalized as some viable breathing idea.bad idea there is such a thing

 

Yeah. Normalizing is a word that is being tossed round a lot lately.

 

As a corollary that all bad ideas can look quite similar <bad ideas> we have a tendency to simply normalize them <as ideas that may not be as good as some other ideas>. Bad is a fucking big bucket to normalize as simply “another idea to consider.”

 

It gets worse at that point.

 

“Outsider” ideas take on some personality that almost adds viability even though it is still a bad fucking idea.

It’s like all bad ideas wear black and blend into any crowd … and almost become cool by doing so. Yeah. Just ponder that for a second. How many bad ideas get a label of “cool idea” … but it’s actually a bad idea. Once a bad idea falls into the “cool thing to consider” category it becomes an aggravating difficult challenge for the actual good idea.

 

Anyway.

A moment back to complacency.

 

Complacent is a squooshy word and concept.

 

I tried googling complacency with bad ideas and got only 514000 results. Uhm. But looking within the top 8 results … the office, west point, teen life, politics, religion and a general one … there were none with regard to bad ideas.

 

This suggests complacency strikes everyone at different times in our lives.

But in no place could I find anyone discussing how complacent in our thinking that everyone can see a bad idea as a bad idea and therefore we can relax <become complacent> because … well … bad ideas just get thrown away because they are bad.

 

Complacency is squooshy.

 

Let’s face it.

 

No one wants to invest energy chasing after some bad idea to be sure it is dead.

Sure. The most experienced of us absolutely circle back after the original bad idea has been killed to make sure it is really dead. But we don’t circle around it and hover over it to see if it is really dead … we just check in on it.

 

Basically … we have better things to do than stick around to smother the sonuvabitch to be sure it is dead. But, in the harsh spotlight of truth, this is plain & simple complacency.

 

I have been burned by bad ideas so many times I have come to sometimes think of bad ideas as tsunamis. They begin as a small shaking of the earth miles down under the surface of the ocean … completely unseen. In this metaphor you may have actually been in the frickin’ meeting where it was declared  bad idea and even been there when it got discarded … but you just were not aware of the work bad idea panda angryearth moving way way down under your feet.

 

From there the bad idea can gain some incredible momentum only to build into some huge wave which can wash over even the strongest criticism at a later date <let alone drown a shitload of good ideas>. Suffice it to say … it can drive you crazy.

 

I think we have all been in this situation at work.

 

Once a bad idea has some momentum they are next to impossible to kill.

 

I sometimes believe this is because <a> some people pretend a second rate idea is first rate and <b> a shitload of people cannot see the difference between a second rate idea and a first rate.

 

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“What’s terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate.”

Doris Lessing,

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But I actually believe it is because we give bad ideas a free pass. What I mean by that is we take a good idea and start running the ‘idea to implementation’ gauntlet defending it and selling it and sharing it all with the end goal in mind. All the while, as we focus on the good, we don’t notice <or maybe it is just a nagging aggravation along the way> that the bad idea is also in the ‘idea to implementation’ gauntlet … but getting a free ride because it isn’t really being sold … it just keeps appearing along the way as “the alternative idea to the good one.”

 

While you were focused on good and paying attention to something else the bad idea has gained “a voice” … it can be a person or it can simple be some “myth” associated with it. And when that happens you can find yourself hearing about a bad idea in some hallway from someone who really knows nothing about it … and they speak of its myth in some positive way.

Suffice it to say the moment that happens … you are fucked. The bad idea is not only alive and breathing … it is healthy <in almost mythical proportions>.

 

Ok.

So rather than bitch about bad ideas let me make a suggestion to everyone.

 

Life, and business, is one big mosh pit of shit. The shit is made up of stuff to do, responsibilities, everyday commitments and responsibilities … as well as ideas. This mosh pit is a big dark gloomy cloud of stuff swirling around.

 

Now.

 

The ideas shit is a little different. What I mean by that is 99% of ideas do not just happen <good and bad ones> like most of the other stuff in the mosh pit.

good bad idea battle for path business

 

Ideas need some ‘oomph’ to get thru the mosh pit. They need to navigate a narrow winding path through the big mosh pit of shit from the moment they are introduced to the moment in which it reaches a point where the idea shifts to some action.

As noted earlier … in most cases … the path usually has two ideas jostling each other along this path … a good idea and a bad idea.

 

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“Our minds are a battle ground between good and bad ideas; we are whatever side wins the battle”

 

Bangambiki Habyarimana

 

====================

 

I imagine my real point is that bad ideas do not die simply because they are bad.

 

You cannot be silent, you cannot ignore them, you cannot be complacent and you cannot simply champion the good idea. You actually have to fight bad ideas.

It may be aggravating to do so.

It may take more energy than you want fight like hell hughto.

It may even get a little absurd in how often you feel like you have put a knife through its heart and you still find it alive and kicking not long after.

 

But if you want good ideas to win you have to accept the burden of the fight. And this fight has a number of rounds and takes place over an extended period of time.

 

Here is what I know about fighting bad ideas. I now assume they never die … they simply end up in second place to a good idea that competed better.

 

That last sentence may be one of the best pieces of advice I have ever given to the business world.

 

 

 

If you’re stationary, you’ll die

May 31st, 2017

 

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“Stagnation is self-abdication.”

 

Ryan Talbot

 

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stand still but moving 3

 

“The moment we stand still, we begin to decay.”

 

Erich Fromm

 

==============

 

If you’re stationary, you’ll die.”

 

—-

Gen. Mark Milley, current Army Chief of Staff

 

================

 

 

Ok.

 

I tend to believe any reasonable business person recognizes that stagnancy leads to inevitable death <although at the same time many reasonable normalizing behavior light matches flame fire dangerbusiness people also have an unhealthy relationship with tried & true systems & processes, mitigate risk taking to such an extreme level that change almost seems indiscernible and views any change as something that needs to be analyzed from every view imaginable before undertaking it>.

 

I thought about that the other day when I scanned a fantastic article on WarontheRocks discussing the army strategy of the future.

 

Within it was a phrase that caught my eye – “disciplined disobedience.”

 

It first and foremost reminded me that businesses can view stagnancy in a variety of ways in their attempt to “not change what works” while seeking “change what needs to be changed” <ll of which simply means “something within your business is not dynamic and there are scraps of stagnancy slowing you down>.

 

It secondly reminded me that back in august 2010 I wrote something called ‘discontinuity for successful company continuity’  in which I shared an organizational idea called “controlled autonomy” <others may call it a version of a self organized organization or a decentralized organization or a variety of ‘decentralized-like employee empowered’ terms> … and suggested that was the organization of the future.

 

—————————-

 

 

A continuous discontinuous organization?

Controlled autonomy.

Controlled in that there is a vision, a focus and a functional understanding of what is it we do well.

Autonomy in that outside the ‘control developers’ people can do different shit.

Controlled autonomy is certainly an organizational shift from the past.

But even IBM has looked at this concept.

A past IBM research report suggests that the best analogies for businesses in the future may no longer be the command structures of the military but the self-organizing networks found in nature: schools of fish, flocks of birds and swarms of insects.bee fly still

Well.

I don’t know about the birds & bees thing but I do understand they are suggesting some decentralization (or autonomy at the employee level).

The struggle with this is that this agility I am discussing is a process where the leadership is not omnipotent.

And further struggle continues with autonomy (and the ensuing agility) as there will be enablers and blockers within the organization therefore the leadership must factor in internal organization limitations (and possibilities) when judging the best plan of action.

What that really means is that no matter how you slice it … organizations are ‘tense anxiety-driven’ structures.

Employees typically oppose new ideas because they perceive they are unworkable (and sometimes they are if the ivory tower doesn’t have their shit together) and bad for profits (or it appears to on the ground people they aren’t making as much money).

And yet we also know that employees always have a large stake in the future success of any organization. Some hesitancy is due to fear or laziness but it can also be due to good judgment.

This is where autonomy comes into play.

It’s not just about diverse views in planning (which obviously highlights opportunities and obstacles) but also some permission of diversity in on the ground decision making.

And autonomy in an organization helps address the truth that is there is a difference between ‘intended’ strategy at the corporate level and ‘realized’ strategy on the business level, i.e., what management wishes to occur, and what is in fact carried out.

That is also the dynamic portion of businesses that permits change to meet changing markets.

Sounds awful difficult to control? (or manage) Sure it is.

But that is why a leader should be paid the big bucks.

———————-

 

 

Uhm.

 

I still believe that.

 

At the most simplistic level any business faces two basic demands — it must execute its current activities to survive today’s challenges and adapt those activities to survive tomorrow’s.

This means executing and adapting at exactly the same time.

 

This also means, within your business, there is a constant competition for outcome results beeresources, money & time in order to meet executional demands and adaptation opportunities <therein lies a significant portion of the ‘tense-anxiety’ dynamic of a dynamic organization.

 

I am not making this up.

Peters and Waterman <In Search of Excellence> argued that organizations must simultaneously be “tight” in executing and “loose” in adapting.

 

I believe they also pointed out that very few do both well.

 

I have had many discussions with many businesses trying to convince them that an organization can be very good at both executing an adapting and how to be good at both.

 

It seems that many business leaders sometimes forget that the organization can sometimes forget they can actually be an organization from an aligned ‘doing’ perspective <because we put such an emphasis n vision and strategy>.

 

What I mean is that most good businesses have naturally incorporated a sense of autonomy and over time the organizational alignment aspects fade into a subconscious background space and individual departments and groups coalesce around the autonomous aspects <it gives them a sense of pride, empowerment & self-actualization as part of the whole>.

 

Everyone should note that while this is an incredibly powerful engine in a company it can become challenging with employee turnover <because there has to be some plan to assimilate new people into a subconsciously acting organization>.

 

Look.

 

I believe, and vocally espouse, great alignment in an organization more often than not is actually “purposeful fragmentation.” This is the type of alignment which permits the parts of the organization <departments, divisions, etc.> to maintain some autonomy yet always be grounded in what is ultimately important to the organization.

 

Sure.

 

I do believe there are things you want an organization to do fairly commonly and certainly can do if you ask the organization to swing into action. And I do believe it is imperative to get these things down and established as ‘rote behavior’ in the midst of an organizational shift/transformation.

 

But organizations have a nasty habit of falling back on less-than-autonomy type leadership and thinking. This nasty habit occurs as we gain experience because our ‘rules & guidelines’ hierarchies fill up based on a larger collection of specific experiences and more feedback on what has and hasn’t worked.order chaos consistent hugh

 

Someone articulated the outcome of this as “our mental models grow into complex structures of categories, interlinked rules, and weightings. We become less likely to perceive experiences as totally new and instead try to relate them to previous ones, which we group into existing categories. As mental models become more complex over time, major rearrangements become more difficult.”

 

Basically, as an organization’s size and complexity increase its degrees of freedom & autonomy decrease. and while I just made a sweeping generalization I would point out something that Scott Page, University of Michigan, who studied why some organizations are complex and hierarchical while others are simple and flat concluded — organizations evolve in response to the problems they have to solve.

 

All of this leads me back to what the Army Chief of Staff said in the warontherocks article. Two thoughts for any business person who embraces the uncomfortable truth that stagnancy is the path to irrelevant death:

 

  • If you’re stationary, you’ll die.”

 

Consolidated bases and logistics hubs will be untenable, presenting lucrative targets for an enemy with precision firepower. He noted we must “untether

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

ourselves from this umbilical cord of logistics and supply that American forces have enjoyed for a very lengthy period of time.” Army units will have to move, set up, move, and move again — “maybe every two, three, four hours just to survive.” Fixed sites of any kind will be lethal magnets for destruction by enemies who will have a rich diet of targeting information — especially since smart phones will be even more ubiquitous. As he bluntly stated, “If you’re stationary, you’ll die.”

 

 

  • Disobey Orders — Smartly

 

He called this …  “disciplined disobedience.” I believe this idea was floated by a past Army Chief of Staff back in the 1970’s but called “selective disobedience.” This suggests that disobeying orders can be justified to achieve the larger purpose of the mission.

 

[A] subordinate needs to understand that they have the freedom and they are empowered to disobey a specific order, a specified task, in order to accomplish a purpose. Now, that takes a lot of judgment … it can’t just be willy-nilly disobedience. This has got to be disciplined disobedience to achieve the higher purpose.

 

Milley added:

“disobedience, when done, must be done with trust and integrity, and you must be morally and ethically correct.”

 

A business competitive field has always been one of chaos and unpredictability <although we have always tried to communicate it as more static in SWOT analysis and crap like that>.

 

And if you accept it is more chaotic and unpredictable it will become easier to understand why far too many organizations frequently lack reliable communications up and down the chain of command.

 

As the Army recognizes, and businesses more often should, junior leaders may have to independently make quick decisions upon which battles may be decided and which may have strategic consequences.reason why unreasonble

 

In a controlled autonomy the leaders must become more comfortable with some ambiguity and accepting the fact that employees closer to the point of action/decision will be making unsupervised decisions to achieve the organization’s, and leader’s, intent.

 

Simplistically, as the Army suggests is mission command — empowering leaders with the “why” of their task, but leaving the “how” to their imagination.

 

Well.

 

Suffice it to say … while people like me love that thought & concept most business leaders are scared shitless of it.

 

Frankly, most senior leaders <centralists by management nature> who seek to implement some autonomous aspects don’t set out to deceive anybody. In their heads they know that high degrees of involvement, participation, and autonomy are key elements in high organization performance. But in their hearts, they still crave orderliness, predictability, and control.

 

They get trapped in the wretched in-between because a central “plan” cannot dictate and bring order to a haphazard, chaotic, unpredictable, and rapidly changing business world – no matter how much we wish it would.

 

And. It gets more difficult.

 

With a continuing stress on “bottom line” or making margins as high as possible leaders fall into the financial analysis trap which encourages anything but autonomy.

Financial analysis can clearly show that consolidating and centralizing support services and functions saves money and increases efficiency <in huge PowerPoint graph slides in the conference room> therefore suggesting autonomy is less than efficient.

 

What doesn’t show up in these analysis are two things:

 

<1> consolidating & centralizing is most effective & efficient in servicing a static

imagination rules napoleon

<2> the inherent alienation, helplessness, and lack of ability to connect with real time customer & market needs or organizational purpose that centralized bureaucracy often brings

 

I could argue for controlled autonomy for years. And I could begin with the simplest thought that efficiencies may save gobs of money but the processes to do so can be cost you the intangible people energy and passion engine within the organization <and then add in at least 5 additional powerful reasons you, as a business leader, need to suck it up and embrace some ambiguity>.

 

But now I will argue for controlled autonomy by using the Army as an example and start using disciplined disobedience” every chance I get.

 

 

 

 

one of the saddest business things I have read in quite some time

May 5th, 2017

sad numbers hear listen business

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“Where there is little risk, there is little reward.”

 

Evel Knievel

============

 

 

 

So.

 

I don’t read Advertising Age often. I never really enjoyed reading ‘insider industry’ magazines and now that I am not involved with agencies that much it doesn’t mean much to me except an opportunity to catchup on the news of some people and places I know.

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarian

But today a link popped up in my email:

 

 

What’s the Most Risky Thing You’ve Done in Your Career?

Ad Age Asks Participants at Detroit Brand Summit

—-

 

I clicked on it.

 

I figured the advertising business, while often ground down to a nub by brand managers and clients who have an allergic reaction to risk, would offer some good ‘most risky actions I have taken‘ stories.

 

Here is a sampling:

 

 

biggest risk was undertaking Pepsi “refresh project,” a 2010 initiative by PepsiCo to award $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and nonprofits that promote a new idea that has a positive impact on their community. “We took money off the Super Bowl, a property Pepsi had been on for almost a quarter century, and we put it into a different idea,”

 

 

Tylenol talking about product benefits and pain relief. His team, however, advocated toward making the message about feeling better with a nontraditional campaign including events.

 

 

single biggest gamble: “Leaving BBDO to go to The Abundancy, which was a little startup incubator that was trying to do things differently and reinvent how advertising worked,”

 

 

“It was a first-ever auto reveal with Snapchat,” Lenard said. “Together we answered a lot of questions internally about who is the audience of Snapchat: Aren’t they 12-year-olds who are never buying vehicles?”

 

——————–

 

Ok.

 

I worked in the advertising agency business for a long time … that is oh no embarrassedembarrassing.

 

If that is risk, let alone ‘biggest risk’, in today’s advertising world as outlined by some people who I assume are leaders in the industry … the industry is in a world of hurt.

 

As a business person I have always embraced the concept of risk … okay … calculated risk. No sane business person is flippant with risk.

All risk is assessed and calculated for ROR <return on risk> … as well as RODN <return on doing nothing>.

 

I could argue that between ROR and RODN you aren’t really taking any risks … you are simply doing what needs to be done to be successful.

 

That said.

I was sorely disappointed by how these people assess ‘biggest risk.’

 

Look.

 

avoid question bomb stink business problemsEveryone takes personal risks in business.

 

Not everyone takes business risks. And business risk is very different than personal risk … confusing the two, or even conflating the two, in a business environment is fraught with peril.

 

Yes.

Business risks inherently include personal risk … but personal risks don’t have particular consequences to a larger business risk – they are more your risks than anyone else’s.

 

I say that as a professional calculated business risk taker. I can honestly say that any time I ever assessed a business decision or what could be construed as a business risk I never took into consideration any persona risk I may be assuming. To me it would simply clutter what I would assume is a decision cluttered already with ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘uh ohs.’

 

I always believe business risks revolved around what is best for the business … and you let the chips fall as they may with regard to you personally.

 

Now.

 

Getting back to that sad list of ‘biggest risks.’

 

People can confuse risk with change. Change is change. Any change includes some risk because … well … it is change.

But change, in and of itself, is not necessarily originality. And that is where risk truly resides … in something original.

 

============

 

“Safe marketing is the riskiest marketing you can do.”

 

—-

Bill Bernbach

 

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organization business elephant adpat nimble get shit done

Anything original is never safe simply because it has no real record of behavior & consequences. That means you are modeling and researching and doing a whole bunch of good smart shit to insure it isn’t just a guess … but … sigh … it is just a guess.

 

That is risk. Risk is a … well … thing.

 

Originality is a real thing … a challenging thing … and a risky thing.

And to be truly original … in some ways … you must ignore what exists and what has been done before.

 

You must abandon the safe and secure.

 

Just think about this little factoid about pretty much any great original idea that has ever happened:

 

  • It’s effective

 

  • It’s always preceded by a meeting in which you will hear ‘are you nuts?’

 

Well.

 

Maybe we all need to be a little more nuts.

Maybe we all need to be a little less afraid of the different.

 

Maybe instead we should focus on what I believe almost all business people really do know … the new and untried can generate the bigger gains then simply changing the status quo or ‘what is’.

 

I would note that originality has a close relationship to exceptional.

 

Ah.

The root of that word exceptional?

 

Exception <please note … that is a significantly different word than acceptable … or safe …>.

 

We are comfortable in our cocoon of what is acceptable and sameness but it is making ‘an exception’ … taking that slightly risky step … that truly pays off.

 

used rainbowsIn business … if you have nothing to offer but used ideas, you are just a used car salesman.

 

And does anyone in business really want to be that?

 

<unless they are in the used car sales business of course>

 

And maybe that is why the article I read was one of the saddest business articles I have read in a very long time – there really wasn’t anything original or any monumental change. Some were personal risks and the business risks were more tweaks on existing machinery to fine tune the operation.

And maybe that is what the business world has come to <sadly> … a world in which tweaks constitute risks.

 

Sad. Very sad.

 

I know risk is difficult. But I also know it is much better than always doing the sure thing – always making the safe decision.

 

The problem is if you really want any progress or growth … meaningful progress and growth … risk cannot be avoided. You must seek ‘the exception.’

 

In the end.

 

I do think business needs to embrace a little more risk.

 

But to avoid being sad about what we do, maybe most importantly, I think business should stop calling tweaks risky. They are tweaks. They are attempts to make small big and the truly big too small.

 

And, lastly, maybe we need to start thinking more often “but it might just work.” I wrote about that phrase to make a point about how we, in business, are becoming far too hesitant to make changes.  There was nothing in the ‘biggest risk taken’ article that convinced me my point isn’t still valid. We embrace tweaks to avoid “but it might just work” actions.

 

 

“Biggest risk ever taken.”

road to success business graffiti

 

 

Shit.

 

These should be monumental type questions with monumental type responses.

 

And if you don’t have a monumental response maybe, just maybe, you need to look around what what you are doing and seeing of maybe you aren’t playing it too safe.

And, most of all, if you don’t have a monumental response, you should not try and make something small monumental.

 

Bigger risk deserves better than that.

Enlightened Conflict