Enlightened Conflict

candles, hope and flickers of light

December 6th, 2015

candle flame 5 advent light


How far that little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

William Shakespeare








I am certainly not religious but for some reason I was reminded today of the lighting of the candle upon the advent wreath <a Christian tradition>.


candle xmas lit

Whether you are religious or not the message it should send to everyone is a good reminder when fear and darkness in a troubled world sometimes seems to seep into the everyday aspects of Life.




<beware … I am going to mangle the real Christian meaning to craft my own thoughts>




The Advent wreath:

Traditionally holds four candles which are lit, one at a time, on each of the four Sundays of the Advent season leading up to Christmas day. Some Advent wreath traditions also include a fifth white “Christ” candle, symbolizing purity that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.




As we near Christmas … Christmas seems a little farther away than it normally does. Headlines scream of people fighting over limited amounts of ‘stuff’ they don’t really need on a ‘black’ Friday. Supposed leaders scream about taking actions based on salving societal fear while the leaders who do speak of tempered actions while tempering fear get shouted down as soft or not aggressive enough or … at the worst … not caring enough about the fears of the everyday people.



We, the everyday people, even on our good days these days are unsure. We understand logic but fight emotions. And most of all we are becoming increasingly clear that ‘feeling secure’ needs a new definition because the old one is gone.


And that is where the lighting of a candle on the advent wreath seems important.



A candle.



I am talking about a candle when we are worried about our safety and our lives and livelihoods.


And maybe I am talking about a small candle because … well … small steps are really important when giant leaps seem impossible and small actions can have a big impact.



Light, even just a small wavering flickering light, should be a reminder that this light not only shows up in darkness but marks the way forward.



Light, no matter how small permits us to see the way rather than stumble in darkness.


candles path advent


The candles within the advent days represent:


– Hope.


– Faith.


– Joy.


– Peace <or Love>.


– Purity.



And that is what the light of each candle offers us.



Hope. A hope that no matter how dark, no matter how chaotic or no matter how much fear … there is a path out of it all. There remains a way lit for us to follow and its name is Hope.


This light offers us this.




Faith that there is a path out of ‘where we are’ to ‘where we want to be’.

Some find it in God others just find it in ‘something better than what currently is.’ I imagine this little flickering light actually is a small gift given to us in Life as something tangible to focus on. The truth is that faith … the faith that it cannot get worse or faith that it has to get better … can sometimes seem so intangible.

So desirable but so difficult to grasp.

This candle offers us something tangible in our faith in what is good and right in Life.


This light offers us this.




Joy in simplicity. For within chaos, unrest and bedlam there is a strength & stability found in something as simple as a candle light.

In addition, in a world of celebrity events with huge spotlights, in a world in which we seem to celebrate the brightest of bright lights … it is nice to be reminded of the joy of a small simple light and the joy in reminding ourselves that small can create big things.


This light offers us this.



candle heart lit

Peace, or love, in … well … having the candle.

Have we ever so desperately loved even a glimmer of light than when we find ourselves stumbling in utter darkness?

Have we ever felt such calming peace with a glimmer of light then when having found ourselves wandering unsure down a road cloaked in darkness?


This light offers us this.



Purity of heart and what is good. Maybe I am naïve but I believe in people. I believe that when given a choice people will do good, will do what is right and will take the more difficult path to do those things. I believe that is the purity of people and human kind.

For some God offers the shining example of what we should aspire to and for others … a candle will have to do. For in its light we see not only hope, faith, joy and love … but also see within ourselves.


As it flickers to light we seem to take a moment where we get a glimpse of what we want to be.

And in that moment of pure reflection we sense our purity. That doesn’t mean we can grasp it <for I tend to believe it is a quest and not a destination> but it doesn’t matter. It offers us a glimpse of the power we have in making an impact against all that is not good, even evil, in our world.


This light offers us this.



That is what I thought about as someone somewhere lit another advent candle this Sunday.



My apology to God as well as to Christians who will most likely look at what I wrote in horror having stripped their message to clothe it in mine.



But because I am not affiliated with any specific religion I tend to believe my thoughts should appeal to everyone should they set aside their own religious filter.





There will always be someone somewhere who will bastardize what should be good and right into their own vision of what ‘right’ is.

And in doing so I could argue they no longer represent the true meaning from which they began their bastardized journey. They have lost sight of what is important and at their worst they come to embody something evil because it has strayed so far from the original true meaning.

candle advent 5 lit


Do I state that to justify my own bastardized journey on this topic? Maybe.


But I would like to think that I have remained in sight of what is important on my journey.






Maybe everyone should take a moment one night soon … at the darkest time of the night with no lights on and light a candle. And sit and think. It couldn’t do any harm.

And it may remind you of how good can be found in the smallest of things.

reason for living

November 22nd, 2015



legacy message life

“Losing your life is not the worst thing that can happen.

The worst thing is to lose your reason for living.”

Jo Nesbø







I could haggle with the above quote from a pragmatic standpoint, i.e., if you lose your reason for living, you can eventually get it back … or another; if you lose your life, that’s it, no way back … but I won’t haggle.


I will not haggle because it is a wonderful thought.





I could think of a lot worse things in Life than living a life with this principle in mind.



I could also argue that one’s ‘reason for living’ can sometimes not be as easy to truly nail down as one would think.


I tend to believe it is a little easier if you have children or family or … well … let’s just say another person.



life whispers listen closelyBut I could also argue that example is not really ‘reason for living.’


That’s just something you can point to when you cannot point to anything inside yourself. Or, maybe to be fair, your sense of responsible to another human being overwhelms anything inside.






I am not suggesting that ‘other people’ is a bad reason for living … just that if you do so then you have abdicated your ‘throne of self.’


And I would also suggest if you take this “reason for living route” from that point on your life in some big ways and in some small ways will continue to be defined by something eternally.



And once the external is removed?






Then you have to … well … look within.



That’s really my point.



Reason for living really shouldn’t be defined by anything other than something that resides within you.





I think we all have a tendency to believe that if something lies within it must be easier to find than something that resides somewhere outside <in maybe some place you have never been or cannot see>.


It actually isn’t easier.

I actually think it is a little harder. I think it is harder for a variety of reasons but let me just suggest that just like the things you love the most in your home … after a while they just becomes ‘things’ and you forget you loved them. What resides within you is almost the same. The really good shit can become so much part of the fabric of who and what you are it doesn’t really seem like something as big as a ‘reason for living.’



When things are good and easy they become easy to overlook.



In addition.

Society beats into our heads we need to be good at something therefore when we look inside ourselves we begin seeking practical shit we can easily pull out when someone says ‘what are you good at?



I mean, c’mon, how crazy do you think people would think you were if when asked that question you would say “keeping my heads in the clouds.” They would think you were either fucking nuts or living in some public park in a hut.


But that is the hard part about a reason for living.

It’s bigger than simply knowing how to build a website better than someone else or being the top sales person in your company … it is … well … just bigger.

And surprisingly, despite its bigness, it is easy to lose. And easy to lose despite the fact you know where it resides <within you>.






I admit … I chuckle when some people tie ‘being grounded’ with reason for living.

It seems so contradictory to me.



Why would I want a reason for living to be on the ground versus being in the sky?





That’s me.


My intention is to keep my reason for living in the sky among the stars.




“They say it all breaks down to keeping your feet on the ground, my soul intention is keeping my head in the clouds.”

==life interesting scared shitless doing

asking alexandria




All I can really say is that everyone should choose their own reason for living – on the ground or in the sky doesn’t really matter … just find it and embrace it.

Because losing your reason for living simply leads to an unhappy purposeless life … and that is a sucky life.

The weight of secrets

November 12th, 2015


stars and secrets


“To agree to keep a secret is to assume a burden.”

Sam Harris










wisdom ability knowledge learningAll knowledge is a burden.

It carries a weight of responsibility with regard to what you do with it … how you act because you have it … as well as how you think about you, and others, with it.



Having accepted knowledge you have made an agreement with it. I tend to believe we don’t think about this. We accept knowledge as … well … maybe like income earned – disposable income in fact.

We worked for it, we earned it and it is now ours to spend as we choose.



But knowledge is actually more like freedom. It is an unalienable right but it is also a privilege … and therefore one assumes a responsibility to it and with it.






And with responsibility comes burden.

Which almost sounds odd in that something with ‘free’ in it should be … well … “freeing” … and not carrying such a heavy burden.


Maybe I should just suggest that nothing really comes for free … everything has something attached to it.




Responsibility … the burden of responsibility. curiosity leader burden


And that is a weight you carry … one which can be as light or as heavy as you make it. but. It is a weight nonetheless. One which you learn to carry well or carry poorly.



Knowledge tests our ability … and our character … with regard to how well we can carry this weight. It tests how strong we are .. once again … in ability an character.




Having said that <and most likely having a number of people feeling a little uncomfortable thinking about knowledge that way>.



Secrets are a completely different level of a knowledge burden.


And secrets are tricky.



secret shhhh shush quietSome are thrust upon you … unwanted but yet yours nonetheless.


Some are gifted you … carefully shared by someone who believes the weight it carries is too much for themselves … alone.



But regardless of how you assume the responsibility of a secret … it is also knowledge. And therefore it also carries a burden … a responsibility … and a weight.
I don’t have the scale to weigh them but my guess is that a knowledge secret exponentially weighs more than a traditional knowledge.



I also don’t have any research but I also tend to believe, just like extra physical weight, as soon as we start feeling the extra weight of a secret … we seek to shed it.


Therein lies the true test of character.



Do I treat the secret as added weight thru muscle or view it as fat.

On the former I become stronger and faster. On the latter I become slower and unhappier.

On the former I don’t look for an opportunity to shed the weight. On the latter I am always thinking about opportunities to shed the weight.



All knowledge tests you. Secrets test you even more.



Knowledge, and secrets, take a strength of self to carry its weight.


The weight of responsibility of having the knowledge, the weight of freedom knowledge typically permits us and the weight of character that knowledge either hones into muscle or creates an excess of fat.



That is a lot of extra weight we have accepted by taking on this knowledge.



I tend to believe we do not think about this enough. Especially those who hunger for knowledge.personally responsible



To be clear … I also tend to believe those who hunger for real knowledge do not hunger for secrets <secret hungry people are beings all in themselves something different>. But I also believe those who hunger for real knowledge are given ‘secret knowledge’ whether they want it or not.



All knowledge is heavy in some form or fashion. Secrets maybe even more so. understanding this, and the burden you have assumed, makes the weight a little more bearable because you aren’t surprised by it and you actually start carrying it better.

running about average

November 4th, 2015

average people aspire


“… if at first you don’t succeed … you are running about average.”

milt alderson


“When we get impatient because something is taking too long, we should remember that Life waits on us a thousand times more than we wait on Life.”

Laura Teresa Marquez




average check

You are doing average !!! <said with enthusiasm>.






When is the last time someone ever said ‘average’ enthusiastically? <never>



And, yet, here is a Life truth – the majority of life and things we do is average.

Statistically it has to <that is why it is called the average>.



Not everything can be shit bad and not everything can be spectacularly spectacular.


An average means that … well … on average this is what happens.





If that is true … that explains why we are always so impatient for spectacular things to take place.





That explains why we are always so dissatisfied in Life <or … let’s say “disappointed more often than we would like”>.



Because unless your life is a series of spectacular failures and spectacular wins <where you are most likely an alcoholic or drug addict trying to deal with the massive swings> you are most likely dwelling in the average daily behavior space.





that sucks average

Let me say what everyone has to be thinking “that thought sucks” <and Bruce sucks for pointing it out>.





It does suck.


It sucks because the last thing anyone wants to be is average and it sucks even more … if it is actually true … that most of our lives hover around average <with moments of spectacular bad and moments of spectacular good>.



Even worse?


If it is true … society, business and … well … everyone else … measures average not as acceptable <or the norm> but rather boring, unexceptional or ‘a loser.’

Pretty much we have pounded into our heads that average is bad and we should always be seeking to be better than average – on everything <projects, games, speaking, etc.>.


Uh oh.


And, yet, average is pretty much where everything resides.



Therefore … on an average day what you do <which is statistically more than likely to be average> will be less than satisfactory to everyone else around you.



Once again … this whole discussion sucks.

average dude being


It sucks because if everything we do meanders around average most of the time and we think about everything desiring to be anything but average … we are doomed to be spectacularly consistently disappointed <if not unhappy> … well … on average throughout life.





I’m getting depressed just writing this.






Here is how I deal with this thought.



how we survive makes usAverage is the cost of doing business … the business called Life. Do average and several things occur:




1.      You are surviving. Yeah. That may sound like a low bar but let me suggest that if you don’t survive you don’t even have the opportunity to do more average e shit let alone anything more than average.

Survival is an excellent objective.




2.      You put yourself in position for the occasional spectacular. Let me be clear … average is not mediocrity <which is a slippery slope incredibly difficult to get off of>.

Average is something completely different.

Average can actually be quite a good thing … it’s just Life without any sparkle or bells & whistles. Therefore … average is not settling it is rather the foundation we all seem to build for ourselves to maintain a good and healthy life. And if it is a foundation … well … you can build on it. Without average you cannot attain the spectacular … at least the spectacular good.




3.      Average teaches patience and consistency and character. If you can ignore all the blowhards yelling at you for accepting average you will notice that pretty much anyone can attain spectacularly bad <that is easy>.

And you will notice that you will achieve some spectacular goods on occasion.

You will notice that an average Life is one well lived on a consistent basis with more good than bad and more spectacular on the good side than spectacular on the bad. impress live life

Average teaches you character in that you recognize that centering your Life around you is a significantly easier Life to live than one that tries to center itself around what others say they expect or desire or value.



Running about average isn’t a bad thing. It shouldn’t be scoffed at or sneered at or diminished.


Running about average means you recognize that Life is a marathon and not a sprint.



In fact … running about average means that … well … that is pretty much what most of us are doing every day at any given point.

doubt is our passion

October 18th, 2015

hugh passion hunger losing


“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have.

Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task.”

Henry James





I admit … I like doubt <on occasion>.


idea not expect what people



Rather than have blinding confidence all the time I like a world viewed through a filter with some doubt.






Maybe we shouldn’t look at doubt as an insidious feeling inside of us … maybe we should simply accept doubt as one of our ongoing valuable partners in Life.



For it is often through the filter of doubt we gain some uncertainty, curiosity, mild skepticism, and some resilience to absorb problems and weave our way thru the Life puzzles of ambiguity.



Doubt makes new from what is … it shapes what could be … and creates expression and even encourages us to challenge smartly <not foolishly> and celebrate <with understanding that it is but a moment in time>.



As we manage to work our way thru the maze of inherent dangers in Life, let’s call this ‘the work in the dark’, to … well … simply stay afloat in the tidal wave of everyday shit <and everyday shit people> doubt can become an anchor … or it can be the life saver.



Doubt may be the muscle which forces us to see the truths that enable us to make our way through the maze.




“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.”

Pierre Abelard


Maybe doubt has an underserved bad reputation. Sure, when doubt leads to indecisiveness it is a definite hindrance … especially in a world in which confidence and decisiveness is valued to inordinate levels.


But, let’s face it; doubt can be a good thing.



Conceptually it is highly correlated with intelligence because doubt translates into awareness of alternative thought and exploration.



Doubt can also insure some quality of character <because the line between confidence and stubborn arrogance is razor thin>.



Doubt can also provide smart hesitation … avoid the wrong step and the wrong path because there is this niggling doubt which forces you to looking at things honestly to see if the next action was the best action.






I would like to point out that Doubt is not really the problem. It is actually how we respond to our doubt … in this case … paralysis.



And the root of paralysis really isn’t doubt but … uhm … the old “self” word.


What a tricky little bugger.





If only the brain had one specific muscle called ‘self’ <which had esteem, interest, attitudes, actualization, etc.> which we could exercise and strengthen and focus on.




kids brain

No such thing.



The entire brain is an intricate wired mesh of muscles & things & thoughts all working together to create our sense of self.


There isn’t just one thing we can isolate for self-doubt.



I read somewhere that self-doubt is the opposite of what is known as “self-efficacy.”



Self-efficacy is the belief that you can successfully use your skills and abilities to achieve a desired result.



And if that is true than maybe doubt isn’t a bad thing … it is a counterbalance to this self-efficacy thing. It balances us out.



What helps me out on that thought is the fact that people with perfectly good self-esteem have self-doubt … and people with perfectly bad self-esteem also have self-doubt ,although not always>.
The point? Almost all of us experience self doubt.



All that said.



Here is what I love about the opening quote — doubt as our passion.

The fact that doubt can drive us … be the engine to improvement, enlightenment, curiosity and being the best we can be.




This means that self-doubt serves a real functional purpose.



I have written a shitload about doubt … and what I do know as a Life Truth is that someone can’t simply banish self-doubt from the mind. Whether we want to or not … it will always remain there somewhere in your brain <and thinking>.


This also means I know, as a self-evident truth, that any article that tells you that you can … is lying.



It’s about balance.





Balance … even when bringing confidence into this discussion.



There are a shitload of articles about how more confidence means better performance.



Wrong <wrong, wrong, wrong .,,,,,.  >



Too much self-confidence can result in a lack of focus and drive <you have falsely assumed you will be good enough and do not work as hard as you could> and this inevitably creates increased opportunities for mistakes.
Doubt can not only increase how much effort you are willing to invest … in addition it keeps you aware of things you may be missing <instead of the sometimes blind confidence>.






Don’t doubt that Doubt has a role in being the best you can be.


idea think explode expand

I sometimes believe we all lose our grip on the distinction between the bad and the new … what I mean is that when things feel bad we automatically think we have done something wrong or that something is actually going wrong … when instead it just may be we are in the flux of change and something new.


New always creates discomfort and it would behoove us to discern the newness from the badness <which permits doubt to rear it ugly head>.







Lots of words today simply to say “I admit … I like doubt <on occasion>”.




=== Other things I have written about Doubt <and overconfidence>  ====



about doubt Parts 1, 2 & 3




solid confidence and overestimated ego

construction, deconstruction & reconstruction (part 1 future business thinking)

October 7th, 2015
change speed market

Hugh McLeod




“The only certain thing about the future is that it will surprise even those who have seen furthest into it.”


Eric Hobsbawm


“Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it.

Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you’ve got, and fix it along the way. “


Paul Arden


“Chance favors the connected mind.”

Steven Johnson



beginning to change


Let me state the obvious.

The business world is changing.


How we think, what we think, the business models to implement the new thinking and all the while … the arduous back & forth conflict between the way it was done versus the way it will be.



Overall … one of the biggest challenges the business world is facing is that the entire approach to thinking about how to conduct business is changing which ultimately means the biggest challenge is not the new model itself … it is the fact that the current leadership management thinks one way and emerging management generation thinks another.


This creates issues not only in how the generations interact in the workplace but also impacts the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, in actually training the emerging management employees to be successful.






I call the change … ‘construction thinking’ to ‘deconstruction thinking’ <or “reconstruction thinking”>.



Here is where we are today.



– The existing business world view



The traditional business world <and existing management way of thinking> is based on a construction thinking model.



Think of this as Lego blocks.


business deconstruction

You were given <taught> all the Lego building blocks one by one and taught <trained> the different ways to use them and build something solid from the ground up. Doesn’t really take into consideration what TopModels suggest are the black boxes of thinking <see later in ‘Deconstruction Thinking’> … or the Lego blocks you need to insert based on faith <or intuition> … which invariably we always use <but don’t – can’t – train for>.





Business thinking is always about balancing real knowledge, faith knowledge and intuition.



But in traditional thinking we tend to make the formula weighted toward real knowledge … and construct solutions aiming toward a cause an effect <stimulus response> relationship.
Business training still seems to continue to serve up this linear cause-and-effect thinking as if, by doing so, we’ll understand the person, predict behavior and results … and be able to make sense of everything we do.



An unfortunate truth?



Causing effect is not linear.



Never was … never will be.


directional unidirectional link deconstruction

And this is true even more so in today’s more fragmented stimulus world.



What you share as an initial stimulus is so often re-purposed in ways you cannot even envision it inevitably creates multiple effects … sometimes derivatives of the desired effect and more often an unenvisioned effect.



The reality is that the future success of a strategy is so hard to predict. This also means that … well … Big Ideas <in general> is useless <and not worth the effort to try and construct>. In today’s consumer business world it simply pays to do more things, try more things and … well … simply give yourself more chances that at least one idea takes off now … and you have other ideas which could take off ‘then.’




I’ve been saying for a long time the big idea is crap … in 2010: http://brucemctague.com/the-myth-of-the-big-idea-big-ideas-are-crap >



Suffice it to say big ideas will largely be replaced by ideas many of which will take on a life of their own. Or maybe the business seeks an initial idea that sparks interaction and thought and action/behavior and a business adapts to the resulting behavior.


The business, and the idea, is ultimately defined by what happens next.


But it isn’t just ideas … while the world isn’t stagnant or linear … thinking is exactly the same.



It’s constantly evolving and alive and fragmented into beautifully imperfect shapes and sizes.



The problem with a static brand proposition and a static strategy – or anything static other than a vision or character statement – is that the business landscape, brands and their competition, are anything but static. Business, like people, are evolving entities that live and die by the success of their actions.



Basically, construction is based on predicting behavior before implementation.



– The new business landscape



Simplistically the old way is to methodically construct solutions and ideas and then commit.


retrain thought building deconstructThe new way is more about committing <smartly> and then deconstructing as information is received and adapting until it reaches a shape that could be sustainable.


Oddly … it is actually an older leader who embraced the new way.



<Napoleon>: “On s’engage, et puis – on voit.” <you commit yourself, and then – you see.>



The traditional business cycle has always been one of “study, act, study.”



Information precedes decisions … then the impact of decisions is assessed before the next decisions are made. Each step of the way information, or earning, is the gate through which decisions must pass.


That much has not changed.






How about … with the rise of digital technologies & the internet the cycle times between the ‘act’ and the ‘study’ has been compressed. The old starting point of “study” has become a luxury few marketers can indulge. The new digital cycle is one of “act and react.”

“Act” not “study” is now the point on which everything else pivots. It becomes ‘learning on the go.’



The new landscape is based on answers needed in real time. that also means getting into market is not based on ‘perfecting before going’ but rather … well … “good enough” is, well, good enough. Businesses learn on the go, testing alternatives by doing not by asking, in the marketplace. The core of how a business operates is now more on how consumers behave than on what they think.






This new landscape is only empowered by technology … it is the people, the compete connect smartemerging management generation, who are really driving the new business thinking model. This new generation of management has some specific features which benefit the new business landscape:




– Knowledge <or information about shit> is available to anyone with access to a computer



– There are an increasing amount of things which are ‘black boxes’ of inner workings <they work … but the majority of us have no clue how they work>which compress thinking & doing time



– Great decision making in today’s business world is more often defined by on how good you are at assessing what aspects should be accepted on ‘faith’ <the black box designated aspects> and what aspects need real knowledge & understanding



– It has never been possible to know everything … but in today’s world it is mind numbingly <and humbling so> obvious … and it has become more accepted to learn on the go



– Curiosity is not just a business characteristic but also a management tool <an openly curious leader embraces team dialogue & discussion – without relinquishing decision responsibilities>.




All these things tend to make me believe we are within a great transformation in business thinking.



Unfortunately, to the existing business world & existing senior management, this transformation is one led by the next generation thought-wise. A generation also characterized by:



– One more comfortable utilizing what is called ‘black box knowledge’ and driven by instinct <but willing to adapt from learnings if instinct proven wrong>.



– One where no part of a business, or department, is out of bounds.



– One where creativity in thinking and intuition are used to imagine the future.



– One where value is in information and not things.



– One where value is found in experiences <real knowledge not speculated knowledge>.



– One where value is found more in unfolding discovery and new opportunities rather than researched discovery.



– One where expectations are in the back seat and possibilities are in the front seat.



– One where every company is actually in the information business first and foremost.



– One where value has migrated from tangible to intangibles.

 deconstruction unlearn culture


The clashing of generational business thinking can almost be summed up by Douglas Adams:



Douglas Adams’ rules about technology:

1) Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2) Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3) Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.





And while I believe this is the new business thinking world model, the ‘deconstruction business world,’ it inherently contains an aspect which makes the younger generation thinking engine go.



Instincts & black boxes.



– Deconstruction thinking theory<the black boxes in business>


1940's faith

Which leads me deconstruction <or black box> thinking.



This is how I believe the next generation of business leaders … those who grew up in a more digital age <albeit it began with hand held computers> … will think and manage and make decisions.



We are increasingly surrounded by ‘black boxes.’ These are complex constructs that we do not understand even if they are explained to us. We cannot comprehend the inner processes of a ‘black box’, but none the less we integrate their inputs and outputs into our decision-making <just think of your computer as the everyday black box we trust>.





Black box thinking … I cannot take credit for it … TopModels refer to it as “why faith is replacing knowledge.”



“… our world is getting more complicated all the time. Black and white, good and bad, right and wrong have been replaced with complicated constructs that leave most people in the dark.

As the world around us becomes increasingly fast paced and complex, the amount we REALLY know – what we can really grasp and understands – decreases all the time. Today it is more or less taken for granted that we do not understand many of the things that surround us, such as mobile phones and ipads. And even if somebody tried to explain the DNA code to us, we would probably be out of our depth.

We are increasingly surrounded by ‘black boxes’ … complex constructs that we do not understand even if they are explained to us. We cannot comprehend the inner processes of a black box but nonetheless we integrate their inputs and outputs into our decision making.

The amount that we simply HAVE to believe, without understanding it, is increasing all the time. As a result we are tending to assign more importance to those who can explain something than to their actual explanation.”

The Decision book: 50 models for strategic thinking

<Krogerus & Tschappeler>





The new decision making world, one driven by technology and that ‘black box’ of knowledge computers offer in terms of knowledge, is ultimately a deconstructive thinking world. A world in which it is understood that a stimulus can create desired, and sometimes undesired, responses and success is often more based on reacting & adapting to an initial stimulus than perfecting the initial stimulus.



Going back to the Legos analogy … deconstruction identifies the tangible Legos as well as the intangible ‘black box’ Legos.



– Were they used appropriately?


– The appropriate mix?


– The appropriate place?


– Could a real Lego have been put in place of a black box Lego and I would have been better?




And over time the black box thinking <the intangible and vague ‘knowing’> becomes more tangible as well as we gain more faith in certain black box thinking application.






Some people may call deconstruction thinking/solutioning <because they say the deconstruction term is too negative> is simply a more contextual approach to thinking <and learning>.



At its core they would be correct … a contextual approach recognizes that learning is a complex and multifaceted process that goes far beyond drill-oriented, stimulus and response methodologies.




According to contextual learning theory learning occurs best when people process new information or knowledge in such a way that it makes sense to them in their own frames of reference <their own inner worlds of memory, experience, and response>. This theory assumes that the mind naturally seeks meaning in context that is in relation to the person’s current environment and that it does so by searching for relationships that make sense and appear useful.



I may suggest this is adaptive thinking <a term I made up>.



Stanford calls it “adaptive strategy.”



Adaptive strategy. We create a roadmap of the terrain that lies before an organization and develop a set of navigational tools, realizing that there will be many different options for reaching the destination. If necessary, the destination itself may shift based on what we learn along the way.

Creating strategies that are truly adaptive requires that we give up on many long-held assumptions. As the complexity of our physical and social systems make the world more unpredictable, we have to abandon our focus on predictions and shift into rapid prototyping and experimentation so that we learn quickly about what actually works. With data now ubiquitous, we have to give up our claim to expertise in data collection and move into pattern recognition so that we know what data is worth our attention. We also know that simple directives from the top are frequently neither necessary nor helpful. We instead find ways to delegate authority, get information directly from the front lines, and make decisions based on a real-time understanding of what’s happening on the ground. Instead of the old approach of “making a plan and sticking to it,” which led to centralized strategic planning around fixed time horizons, we believe in “setting a direction and testing to it,” treating the whole organization as a team that is experimenting its way to success.



And that is what the new digitally driven generation of business people will inevitably do.


They will confidently use black boxes more faithfully as well as seek relationships that make sense and appear useful … and adapt.



They will be driven more by looking at solutions and not saying “why does this make sense?” logic understanding but rather ‘this doesn’t look right <or it looks right>’ logic understanding.



This will translate into an adapting mentality on everything. And, yes, I mean everything. Not just tactics and execution but strategy … and sometimes some things which in the past have been considered inviolate with regard to change <like the archaic 5-year plan>.






Black box thinking is not a new thing <but has ALWAYS made us feel uncomfortable>.



Albert Einstein received a Nobel Prize for recognizing that models and ‘logical’ systems are ultimately a matter of faith. And, yet, it is often difficult to let go of the tangible or ‘proof prior to acting’ model.



retrain deconstructIt is basic human nature to often believe so strongly in models that they take on the status of reality. But reality, in terms of business thinking and models, is … well … often not reality … and unimaginable can become reality.



Unimaginable is difficult in today’s business world because nowadays almost everything we do leaves behind some trace therefore companies can monitor how their business is running, where customers are, what they are doing and how they are doing it. And in knowing these things they know the nuances of what makes <or breaks> a business.
Practically speaking future decision makers will tend to work with prognosis tools rather than with predictive models. That doesn’t mean the formulas & models will all be thrown away … instead the formulas and models that try and predictively define iterative behavior are in ‘black boxes’ understood by only a few experts. Therefore, the typical decision maker needs to trust, or have faith, in the system without actually understanding it. Yet, even without understanding the black box <or boxes> understanding, or the ultimate proof, occurs in test and measure and watch behavior and assess attitudes and refine with real data <reactive actions>.



That, my friends, is black box thinking in a nutshell.



To be clear.


Models will not be discarded.


In an increasingly confusing and chaotic and black box world the models provide some order and assist in providing focus on what is important and to believe in what we see.


However … the ‘building models’ will be relegated to a lower priority <therefore we can invest less time and rigor> and instead we will more often assess by understanding what doesn’t look right rather than developing something with the intent of building it to look right.



I believe this is the new operating business thinking model.



I also believe, as stated initially, this will be a painful arduous transition



Companies with managers who manage and think like this <mostly the younger emerging managers> will look like frickin’ aliens to many of the existing companies with older ‘model first thinkers.’



I imagine my real point here is that there are companies with young employees who embrace black box thinking who can help those companies be better and do better … but those companies are still solidly stuck in old school logical ‘rationalize before its done’ attitude.



The future



Here’s the good news for black box companies … the business is coming to them.


Not today … but tomorrow.



And while we may try and make the transition move faster … we cannot. Most good companies will knock themselves out trying to deconstruct a black box into some logical explained system or thing. But a black box … is … well … a black box. It isn’t meant, and it really cannot, be explained in any way that an older manager who doesn’t trust or like black boxes can ever be explained.


Trying to do so defeats the real value of the black box.



This is like discussing business apples and oranges.



There is an entire tier of existing business leaders and managers that are baffled by black boxes.



Maybe worse?



They don’t trust black boxes.



Maybe even worse?
They don’t embrace deconstruction business thinking. Every bone in their body is driven toward constructing optimal solutions from day one.



Here is the interesting dilemma.



Older existing management would actually be quite capable … and most likely … quite good at deconstruction thinking.



It just makes them uncomfortable.



Uncomfortable in that it wasn’t the way they were taught & trained and therefore a younger generation shouldn’t make the ‘leap’ to deconstructive thinking without having learned the constructive principle.



What a bunch of bullhockey.


hugh 50 something same old thinking

Training needs to adapt to the thinking and thinking capabilities <some would call that technology> rather than adapt the new business thinking models to archaic training/thinking models <see my site for a number of articles on how older 50somethings should adapt their organizations and thinking to be effective in the future>.



The gap between construction and deconstruction is so far apart philosophically it is crazy to try and bridge it.


Of course business thinking is always about balancing real knowledge, black box knowledge and intuition. It has always. The ‘formula’ is simply different now.


We need to adapt training to accommodate the new formula.





The people.



– The emerging managers <next generation of managers>



Emerging managers in a company will go nuts <for a while>.



Emerging managers instinctually think about deconstruction thinking methodology and get excited and think … “let’s go … let’s do it” only to have their more methodical front loading leaders say “whoa … slow down … lets be sure we get it right from the beginning.”





I’m <and I imagine any good deconstruction thinking type company> not opposed to getting it right straight out of the box … having things as perfect and researched and nuanced as possible when you introduce it. But if you invest too much time trying to get it right the market has passed you by.


I’d rather be ‘close to being right’ in the beginning and adapt quickly as it enters the market.





That last sentence will send older leaders into convulsions.




meeting the construction versus deconstruction gap



Let me be clear about ‘black boxes.’



We still need people. For all the black boxes, the stealing of sound, sight, smell through data, and all the satellites and technological garners of intelligence gathering … it still boils down to humans in the end.



No matter how advanced the technology … it is people who have to make the final assessments. People who can give access to the minds and ‘future thinking’ of thinking could bethose who we are trying to gain insight into.



Black box intelligence still needs people.



Past experience, benchmarking, good to great skill management and construction thinking isn’t enough to be successful in the new business landscape.



Deconstruction thinking is a complex combination of effectively using quickly assembled solid building blocks and implementing only to deconstruct <and reassemble> on the move. The military would suggest it is adapting the battle as you engage.



I suggest that in order to weave your way through business issues, organizational issues, people issues and real knowledge issues takes a daunting combination of strength of character, curiosity, strength of self and real leadership <of which confidence … not arrogance is embraced>.



Deconstruction is not for the faint of heart. Nor is this type of thinking conducive, nor easily compatible, to the existing style of traditional management thinking.





It is the future model of business thinking and operating.

construction, deconstruction & reconstruction (part 2 the future business model)

October 7th, 2015

business young man deconstruction



“… find ways to delegate authority, get information directly from the front lines, and make decisions based on a real-time understanding of what’s happening on the ground. Instead of the old approach of “making a plan and sticking to it,” which led to centralized strategic planning around fixed time horizons, we believe in “setting a direction and testing to it,” treating the whole organization as a team that is experimenting its way to success.”





As a follow up on construction/deconstruction thinking Part 1 I will address its impact on the actual structure & operations of businesses.





I tend to believe everyone in business understands that the traditional structural organization is changing. And it is doing so … well … painfully … and expensively <at a cost>.
The change is most typically associated with the transformation associated with infrastructure and technology.





ideas crazy light

This organizational structural change is tied to the wrong thing. Currently it is being tied to changes as dictated by technology … and it SHOULD be tied to thinking construct.



The good news is that, regardless of the reason, … the change will be a long arduous shift in the business world as part of a long transition in how business thinks about itself and the best model for conducting a successful business.
The bad news is that the businesses that do not adapt are unlikely to survive in the longer term.



This comes down to one basic thought as I discuss the new business model for businesses … however great the costs of this construct change … the costs of not changing is much higher.






I described this new business model and thinking back in august 2010 as a more agile organization culture, controlled autonomy, the company has an ability to blend into the marketplace <versus rigid institutions unable to flex>.






Today’s more rigid ‘construction model’ is already outdated. And even by ‘updating’ thru accommodating technology … what is being built is more a Frankenstein <let’s insert new thinking & new technology within existing company model> rather than a concept built from scratch <and having a plan of how we ‘get from here to there’>.



The future deconstruction model, let’s say it’s a hybrid of a ‘controlled autonomy’ model, is being built in ‘fits & starts’ in today’s business world.



To be clear.

palm man sit think control

In my eyes the new model incorporates both autonomy & control, therefore, is not a flat organization nor is it purely ‘instinctually based’ <which someone could conclude from my Deconstruction 1 post>.



Autonomy in any organization is a combination of control <as in guidelines and behavior culture> and trust <in that people are intrinsically interested in making a contribution and learning>.


This more agile organization essentially believes, and trusts, employees want to do well and to do good things therefore incorporating a strong value/integrity base into the everyday behavioral attitude.


By the way … this freaks out an older management generation <who tend to believe everyone is out for themselves and throughout their business lives have fostered a ‘kill or be killed’ mentality>.



But the smarter more adaptable management have used this ‘ethical core’ philosophy as a way to move from input-driven work models to structures which focus more on evaluating outcomes and acting upon outcomes.


This shift in reflects an organization culture driven by rules to being driven by values and guiding principles.


Inevitably this permits more autonomy, better strategic tactics and more fluid responses to customer input … without compromising the culture of the business.



This Deconstruction Business Model is more  a … well … porous business model.


It is free thinking, adaptable <constantly shifting resources toward opportunities and away from non-opportunities>, emergent, diverse & interpretive based … where the organizational actions rhythm is created by external stimuli … not internally.



Conversely … a Construction Business Model is all about the system.


All about rigid systems with space built within for ‘innovation and flexibility.’ In actuality in today’s world the systems cramp and are confined <or confining>.


The construction model dictates the organizational rhythm and hopes it can match the behavior patterns of the outside world.



damage-controlIn effect a Construction Model was developed with the intent for ‘predictability’ with the overall approach intended to stabilize demand and make it more predictable.

Internally it focused on ensuring managers at all levels had enough information to manage their part of the business.



It is basically a centralized administration/management and decentralized operations where the ‘center’ measures, monitors and directs.


Most companies still do this <albeit they argue they have ‘empowered the customer face units’>.



What makes the Construction Model even worse for agility & adaptability is that the Center maintains the setting and control of budgets and ultimately measures performance against this.



If the market, and the world, were stable and reasonably predictable this could <notice I say ‘could’ > work but with unstable and often shifting markets <increasing & decreasing quickly> this model is not only inefficient … it is ineffective.


<note: this could possibly explain why so many existing larger businesses struggle>



On the other hand.
The Deconstruction Model is all about the people and utilizing their minds and reactive attitude <regardless of their particular skills>. This means the dialogic dialectic deconstruction businessDeconstruction Model is naturally adaptive as it is more built upon ‘see & do’ <I see information and respond this way>.



The conflict between these two extremely disparate models is in process.


Pretty much all existing successful businesses with any heritage <company Life> face deep challenges because of this conflict. And most businesses are not handling the conflict well.


They are being reconstructed with technology, and technology attributes, driving the reconstruction.in other words … the ‘system’ hasn’t changed but the tools within are being updated.


This is ass backwards.


The model should be constructed with the people and necessary thinking in mind … and THEN offer the tools necessary to make that organization successful.






Getting back to the people aspect.



The Deconstruction business Model is driven by its people where the employees guide the strategic choices, or the tactical strategy, rather than strategic tactics that need to be made in real time.


This premise also drives older management crazy.


How can something be effective without strategy first and foremost?





Research certainly suggests if you were to choose between organizational culture and ‘strategy’ with ‘creating a productive and profitable organization’ … organizational culture is significantly more effective than any amount of strategy <note: even Drucker has suggested this>.


This bears out even more so in turbulent business environments.



Businesses with engaged work forces outperform those without by a significant margin.

And when employees are enabled and energized, as well as engaged, profit margins are three times as high as those of companies with low levels of engagement.




To conclude.




My thinking on new business modeling represents a fairly significant disruption to the way most businesses operate today.


I imagine it feels even more disruptive because so many older business people business young people deconstructare hoping business goes ‘back to the way it was’ <or some version of it> in terms of economic conditions <believing once economic conditions improve habits will return to old ways of doing & buying things>.



This old school thought process misses the real issue in that the base business model is changing <not consumer behavior or habits> … changing to meet the strengths and ways of conducting business & Life of a new young generation.



The people who are missing this are most likely the same ones who bought into the “customer is king/queen” thought process and that “the customer is always right.”



The Deconstruction Business Model works because it builds upon a culture where the employee is always right <being fed the most up to date information, have the ability to strategically adapt more nimbly, work within company integrity/values construct> therefore the customer isn’t always given what they asked for … but rather … what they really need.

Enlightened Conflict