Enlightened Conflict

messiness & enlightened conflict

October 18th, 2017

enlightened conflict think============

“Nothing is perfect.

Life is messy.

Relationships are complex.

Outcomes are uncertain.

People are irrational.”

 

=

Hugh Mackay

 

——————–

 

 

“The most successful organizations in the world are the ones who work together, play together, and get messy together.”

 

=

Jeanne Malnati

 

——————–

 

 

Well.

 

This may sound a little wacky but 98.2% of successful businesses are successful truth and conflictbecause, uhm, there is some conflict <note: I made up the 98.2% but you get the point>.

Suffice it to say … conflict, in and of itself, doesn’t make them successful … it is that the conflict tends to create the positive friction which sparks better thinking, better ideas and a better company — a more enlightened organization.

 

I often argue that conflict within an organization is natural … and healthy.

Conflict is natural because … well … while organizations try and create some ‘tidiness’ to the institution itself … the people within are messy. Inherent in this messiness is  a clashing of certainty & uncertainty, known & unknown, learning & unlearning and all the messy things thinking people do when all are aimed toward a greater vision, purpose & objective.

 

We often like to talk about business as ‘rational’ but … c’mon … Life itself is pretty messy … outcomes may be uncertain and people, particularly in business, can certainly be irrational <at times>.

In addition … truth is messy.

And if there is one thing every business seeks in their pursuit of success it is ‘truth’ with regard to “what do we need to do.”

 

Regardless.

 

It is quite possible the messiest part of any business is just the simple objective of getting good shit done.

 

It’s mostly messy because … well … people are messy.

 

Messy in terms of how we interact.

Messy in terms of not knowing what we are good at … and sometimes not standing up for what we really are good at.

Messy in terms of inconsistent communication.

Messy in terms of selective listening.

 

Messy in terms of … well … our attempts to avoiding conflict <we can turn ourselves into pretzels trying to keep things as smooth as possible>.

 

saved thoughts think dark messy self

Now.

 

That may sound like a shitload of messiness … but people, once again, naturally make business messy.

 

Oh.

Even people with good intentions are messy.

 

Yes.

Even good people.

 

Throughout my business career:

 

I have enjoyed a “force of nature” person who has forced enlightenment for the force of good.

 

 

I have endured a force of nature person with good intentions …with less than good behavior … who has forced us to face enlightenment.

 

 

I have encountered an essential force of good within a business … who doesn’t have the ‘nature’ part of the ‘force’ DNA … but is still an essential undercurrent force with which the business prospers by enabling enlightenment.

 

And the entire experience has emboldened me with a sense that even good organizations with good products and good people and a good idea … can be messy AND enlightenment … and be a force of good.

 

Yeah.

 

Sure.

I have also seen how messiness can negatively encroach into the good fiber of a business.

 

But … the one thing I can guarantee is messiness will lead to enlightenment. It is just that I cannot guarantee whether it will be enlightenment used for the force of good or enlightenment used for the force of … well … something less than good.

 

Regardless.

 

All this messiness leads to Enlightened conflict.

 

Enlightened Conflict is a term I often use <heck … it is the name of my site>. To me it has multiple dimensions of relevance to … well … not only to what I believe & what I believe should be done … but to creating a smarter thinking individual <and individuals>.

 

So.

 

recurring issues thinking-dialectic-crisisA lot of people push back on the “conflict” part.

Here’s the basic idea.

 

The more someone understands <or is less ignorant>  the more respectful the “conflict” will be.

Conflict can be debate, discussion … simply when two people have different points of view on things. It’s the basic thesis being challenged, navigating a crisis <the conflict>, antithesis all ultimately arriving at some synthesis.

 

Its not a novel idea nor a contentious idea. But it IS an idea which empowers a business.

 

 

Anyway.

 

The positive side of enlightened conflict resides in the sharing of information so that people just … well … know more. And I would hope <and actually believe> they use that additional “know more” <knowledge of some type> so they can make better informed choices.

 

ideas conflict and falureConversely … I could suggest that the enemy of ignorance is enlightened conflict. I often suggest people think about that because I could argue <and i do> that one of the biggest obstacles to any progress, in business & in Life, is ignorance.

 

Enlightened conflict aggressively attacks ignorance.

 

Therefore, any business with a future with enlightened conflict will inevitably have smarter discussions, more respectful competition between employees <and better teamwork>, become more informed and, ultimately, create better decisions.

 

And, maybe best of all, in their own way the business organization becomes more enlightened.

 

Look.

 

When I speak of enlightened conflict with businesses I am relentless with regard to my belief that little actions can make a big difference. I do that because I believe as long as you empower individuals to embrace enlightened conflict, and respectful conflict, you empower everyone to believe they are all architects of life … and fate.

 

All that said.

 

I admit.

I love a great debate and I typically feast on partially ignorant point of views. I am not that smart but I can spot a generalization or a sweeping judgment a mile away.

 

I am kind of like a vulture lurking over ignorance seeking to swoop down for dizzy the vulturethe debate.

 

It also helps that I am a curious vulture.

 

I like to think and lurk over a variety of topics. On a separate note … I am biased in that I believe businesses, and society, would be a better version of its current form if there were more curious vultures.

 

Well … at least I have admitted being a vulture.

Don’t let that stop you from loving the idea of Enlightened Conflict.

 

have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss

October 13th, 2017

red shoes_adventure_by_zvaella

 

==========

 

“We all have one foot in a fairytale, and the other in the abyss.”

 

—–

Paulo Coelho

 

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

 

My anger at the world coils inside of me.

It’s a directionless seething, there’s no name or face to aim at.”

 

————–

Claire Zorn

 

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

 

Well.

 

color outside the linesLife demands us to draw a lot of lines.

 

And more often than we would like to admit … it demands we place one foot on one side of a line and the other foot on the other side of the line.

 

That may not sound … well … right.

Or maybe the best thing to do.

It may even sound like I am suggesting you ‘straddle the fence.’

 

This isn’t straddling … this is about being grounded or balancing oneself.

 

If you don’t place one foot solidly on either side, you can be quite easily consumed by the extremes of Life which are, more often than not, found on only one side of a line.

 

If you don’t place one foot solidly on either side, you can be quite easily consumed by others who seek to consume what you may think you don’t really care that much about <but you should … and actually do when you care to think about t enough>.

 

If you don’t you can be quite easily … well … consumed.

 

I guess what I am saying is that Life demands you pragmatically be active in drawing some lines so that you have some sense of when you are getting too … well … “too”. So you can have some sense of … well … where to actually place your feet that is meaningful.

 

Maybe what I am saying is that many of us have no problem ‘making a stand’ but if you really aren’t sure where your line is then it is quite possible you aren’t really sure you are taking your stand in the right place.

 

Maybe think of it this way.

 

It’s kind of like making sure you have things in perspective when you take a stand.

 

It’s kind of like demanding realistic hope.

It’s kind of like demanding some hopeful despair.

It’s kind of like demanding you believe in some fairytales and some abyss-like darkness.

 

It’s kind of like demanding lines for yourself so you can deal with the lines Life is going to demand of you.

 

Look.

 

I don’t really believe there are angry people … they just have so much anger within themselves that their line is drawn differently than others.

 

I don’t really believe there are dreamers … they just have so much imagination within themselves that their line is drawn differently than others.

 

But here’s the deal.

 

You have to draw some lines.

 

draw your lines and choose your side moralThere has to be some reality to ground some imagination.

 

There has to be some truth to ground some questioning.

 

There has to be some principles to ground some rebelliousness.

 

There has to be some fairytaleishness <I made up that word> to balance out some of the inevitable abyss.

 

You do have to have one foot somewhere other than where your other foot resides.

 

I know.

I know.

 

That sounds a little of whack from conventional wisdom because far more often you hear “both feet on the ground” and shit like that.

 

But if you have two feet on the line … well … you have chosen to stand on a thin balance beam and will teeter your entire life. That is tiring & dangerous.

But if you have two feet on one side … well … you have chosen a life of fairytales … or a life in the abyss.

 

All that said.

 

Yes.

 

There are times you draw a line and make a choice to shift both feet solidly onto one side. I would suggest this is a situational decision and not a “living Life” type decision.

 

That is right and that is wrong.

That is good and that is bad.

That is normal and that is not normal.

 

Those are most likely the moments in which Life says “now, in this time and place, here is the line … on which side to you choose to stand?”

I would suggest sometimes we fuck this up by confusing a ‘Life one foot here & one foot there’ decision and a contextual situational decision. What I mean is that in that time and place you may try and keep your fairy tale foot in place and your abyss foot in place … and mistakenly take on a different type of decision demanding a different type of line.

 

That would be a bad decision.empty shoes

 

In that time. in that place. In that moment.

 

You shift your feet.

 

Sigh.

 

I never suggested lines were easy. Just that Life demands we draw a lot of lines. I would suggest that if you do not draw some lines you will find yourself lost in anger coiled within, or maybe constantly living a less than fairy tale life dreaming it all away, or stuck in some dark abyss seeing no way out.

 

Yeah … lines come in pretty handy at times. Pretty handy in managing Life. I can tell you <for sure> that lines can be pretty handy at helping you decide when something should end … and something should start.

contrarian customer-centric thoughts

October 10th, 2017
free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarian

………. another Bruce contrarian thought piece …….

 

——

 

‘To prosper soundly in business, you must satisfy not only your customers, but you must lay yourself out to satisfy also the men who make your product and the men who sell it.’

 

——

Harry Bassett

 

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

 

“We are all manufacturers – making good, making trouble or making excuses. “

 

——

HV Adolt

 

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

 

So.

 

compete head hurtsI have probably had to think about, and talk about, the business concept of “customer centric” more in the past month or so than I have had to do in the past decade or so.

 

I have seen so many customer-centric presentations over the years that made my head hurt I am surprised my head hasn’t exploded yet.

 

Don’t ask me why but the oft-horridly interpreted and often mis-implemented concept is making a comeback.

 

Customer centric, simplistically, is the concept of creating a positive customer experience at every point of the pre sale, sale and post-sale.

 

It’s a word we’ve been using for decades <dates back to direct marketing in the 1960s & largely credited to a marketing guy named Lester Wunderman> and most of us in business don’t really think too much about it because we think it is kind of an obvious ‘given’ in business.

 

The problem is that customer-centric has been mangled to a point where we actually have to figure out some wacky ways to define it <most people use it in the sense of putting the customer at the center of everything that is done>.

Frankly, I’ve never met a business person who said their company wasn’t customer-centric.

 

Everyone talks the talk <and have convinced themselves they actually are>.

Well.

I imagine the topic keeps coming up because research with customers keeps telling these business people convinced they are customer centric that … well … they actually are not.

customer experience delivery gap Bain-and-Company 2005

 

The most famous of the debunkers is Bain and Company who shared this enlightened graph back in 2005:

 

 

 

It showcases the delivery gap between how customers perceive customer service and/or customer experience and how executives perceive the performance of their organization in that context.

 

 

Suffice it to say … that gap, which can be scarily extreme, debunks the myth of customer centric in practice when a company simply looks in a mirror and says “wow I’m good looking.”

 

Here is where contrarian Bruce steps into this game.

 

Most business people sincerely want to make customers strategically important to how they go about their business, but they also know what they see from most “customer centric experts’ is bullshit.

 

Therefore, they do the best they can and know that … well … theory is difficult to pragmatically, effectively, implement.

 

Here is where I differ from most of the customer centric experts:

 

  • The most important letter in customer centric is “I.”

 

legacy learn imagine hope mctague“I” as in “what I am good at” and “what I can actually do really frickin’ well” and as in “what is my Inner truth.”

 

Oops.

 

None of that is “what does my customer want.”

 

Look.

 

I never suggest ignoring the customer but I do suggest that before you ever sit down and talk about any customer centric things philosophically, and practically, you better be sure you know what you are good at, what you can actually do and what are the ‘truths’ <good & bad> of your own organization.

 

Most experts talk about “customer satisfaction” and I talk about thinking of the customer as someone with ongoing annoyance interspersed with occasional boredom and indifference.

 

Whew.

Now that sounds tough for any business person out there <and slightly depressing>.

 

But I tend to believe rather than try and build some rosy view most businesses should face … well … reality.

 

The reality is that once you establish customers SHOULD have high(er) expectations they are bound to go largely unmet.

 

Sorry.

That’s truth.

 

That is an unfortunate truth because the majority of customer centric practices choose to try and establish their own “best” to be judged by and … uh oh … they rarely actually keep up with the actual best of the best <because that “isn’t our positioning or what we are about” or because “oh, that is not our industry” or they simply just cannot match the best of the best>.

 

Setting high expectations means meeting the expectations of “customers” who will define everything by … well … EVERYTHING they encounter & experience.

A B2B customer will start thinking “experience” based on how the Starbucks barista treats them or how the Apple online assistance rep treats them.

 

Yup.irritation indifference

 

If you follow much of the customer centric bullshit being fed you, you will end up facing well informed customers who will be in a perpetual state of indifference and/or irritation.

 

  • Indifference will hit those customer centric practices that customers know are underperforming, and that they can avoid due to sufficient availability of the best of the best. If you’re working for one of those underperforming customer centric practices, the scary thing is not just selling less (or nothing). It’s that indifferent customers will stop being forgiving; they will stop being cooperative and giving you feedback on how to be more like other, better performing competitors. They’ll just leave and never return, without telling you why.

 

  • Perpetual irritation is just as bad: this will occur when customers are forced to buy from an underperforming customer centric practice, due to limited or no availability of what they already know is the best of the best.

 

 

In this light, pay special attention to fake loyalty and postponed purchases:

 

 

  • Fake loyalty: customers will continue to purchase from underperforming customer centric practices if the ‘real thing’ isn’t available. To the underperforming customer centric practices, all may seem quiet on the western front, until the best of the best suddenly does become available. Good examples of fake loyalty can be found in the airline industry: millions of frequent flyers around the world know that Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Emirates offer a superior experience, but since these airlines don’t fly on all routes, customers have no choice but to fly with subpar airlines now or then, or all of the time. Count on them to vote with their wallets every time new routes are added by these ‘best of the best’ carriers, even if they’ve never flown with them before.

 

 

  • Postponing purchases: some ‘best of the best’ customer centric practices like Apple actually manage to indirectly convince customers to postpone certain purchases. Many customers would rather wait for the iPhone or MacBook Air to become available, than to buy a new phone or laptop.

 

So … what should someone do?

 

The power of “I.”

 

inner truth brand position - Copy

….. Bruce’s consumer version of Inner Truth ………

Let me start with a Brucism — I have not found a lot of successful businesses that suck at everything.

In other words … if you have had some success, particularly if you have had some sustained success, it is likely you have <a> some significant expertise in something and <b> pleased some customers in some ways.

 

I am relentless on having businesses find their Inner Truth. It is often a difficult discussion <because it means admitting you are not good at everything> but by finding, isolating an embracing your business Inner Truth it permits the business to find its value core.

Once you find your value core you are able to insure you foster the attitudes & behaviors that feed into that value equation.

In addition, it insures the business leverages off of that foundation for any new ideas or “asks” of the organization itself with regard to new behaviors and decisions.

 

I have said this before and I assume I will say it a gazillion times again … “stop wishing you were something else and start loving who you are.”

That’s sounds like some bullshit Life coaching advice but the truth is more businesses, especially the ones who start discussing customer centric philosophy, should embrace this advice.

 

To be fair <before I begin my constructive enlightening rant> … the foundational aim for any customer centric practices has been and remains the same as always … to express singularities which consistently distinguish the offering of products and services.

 

And within these singularities … or distinctness … people will seek values, leadership, assurance, clarity … and personality <or character>. Maybe better said … some promise.

 

 

Growing a customer centric practices means it has to fulfill a clear promise. Promises are simple and complex. But suffice it to say, in this case, you make a promise and deliver upon it. Simple as that.

 

Here are some basic steps simplify <or at least clarify> some things that make up the foundation blocks for growing the customer centric practices based on “the power of I”:

 

company assessment

The first step in growing a customer centric practices is to assess the customer centric practices ‘parent’ <the organization itself>. There are several methods for obtaining this information from the end-users but suffice it to say that if you don’t know your company <culture, belief system, aspirations> you will never rear your customer centric practices properly. Never has the quote “be true to thineself’ ever rung more true.

 

good and bad research pepsi

research

Whether you think you need it or not … do some ongoing research.

Research will not only provide qualitative information from key stakeholders, including internal and external customers and influencers, but also flesh out the raw concept that resides in the vision.

The number of interviews will vary according to the typical number of end-users that would have an opinion about your company’s image as well as those ‘inside’ who have an image of what you do well.

The total number of potential end-users may be very small in b2b compared to a consumer product such as toothpaste but suffice it to say you seek to find the gaps & non-gaps of expertise between the organization and end users.

You are seeking some consistent feedback … so you hear the same feedback over and over.

The information collected from the survey is the foundation on which your customer centric practices platform will be established. You may find that once all the results are summarized, the information is very much in-sync with your organization’s internal perception of itself.

 

<note: don’t fool yourself into believing the exercise was a waste of time or a worthwhile effort in this situation … it is not only a sanity check but it also alleviates a lot of second guessing at a later date and plays a significant role in aligning everyone on what matters>.

 

 

Anyway.shared intentions lead people

 

In my experience … 90% of most customer centric discussions that businesses are faced with will begin with the customer.

 

That is the wrong place to begin.

 

Everything begins, and ends, with who you are and what your expertise is and what you can actually deliver. Beyond that … well … customer centric is worthless if you don’t get that right and accept, and embrace, that.

 

 

 

 

Which leads me to the next thing most customer centric experts never tell you <and I am fairly sure most of them don’t think about>.

 

  • Accepting Unevenness.

 

Unevenness?

What do I mean?

customer centric model

 

Well.

 

 

It seems like almost every customer centric discussion seems to incorporate some circle, or some 360degree view, in which you envelop a customer with all the love <functional and emotional> they need to create the utmost satisfaction and undying loyalty.

 

Unfortunately that is just theoretical bullshit because reality is just not that neat.

 

Just as there is no such thing as a well-rounded person there is no well-rounded business in the reality of … well … the real business world.

 

Most customer centric bullshit suggests you need to not only protect yourself on all fronts but also ‘project yourself’ on all fronts.

 

This is crazy.

 

Businesses don’t build themselves that way. Shit. People don’t build themselves that way. You are good at some things and not a good on others.

 

That said … the underlying absurdity in most customer centric modeling is in its suggestion of ‘evenness.’

customer centric learning concept knowledge ignorance

 

The traditional customer centric circle diagram concept suggests you push everyone out toward what they don’t know <boundary of ignorance>.

 

However.

 

Enlightenment, and gaining knowledge to overcome ignorance, is just not that neat.

In fact … it is frustratingly un-neat.

 

Frustrating in that every time you learn something … ignorance still remains … outside your existing knowledge base. And this translates into a state of being perpetually dissatisfied <or the glass is never completely full with knowledge> which obviously can be either encouraging, or discouraging, with a person’s attitude to continue learning.

 

Businesses consistently attempt to fulfill their role in this ‘customer centric process’ by focusing attention on the inside of the circle and keeping everyone carefully inside the boundaries. They do this under the guise of “company consistency.”

 

I imagine the good news is that this helps keep employees from falling off the edge into irrelevant material & learning <and it insures all employees gain knowledge in a logical order> but it also, negatively, impedes upon <a> the way most individuals gain knowledge (which is they follow what interests them) & <b> any knowledge or learning that could be attained outside the sphere of consistency.

 

But here is the really bad news.

 

Organizations are not neat round circles of knowledge. Why? Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, organizations are made up of people, not concepts or robots.

 

As I first wrote about back in 2010  <and have spoken on the topic a number of times> the truth about people is that they become more expert and informed on certain topics at the expense of others. The well rounded circle that might have characterized the “perfect customer centric organization” needs to be replaced by … well … reality.

 

circle of knowledge customer centric learn expertise

The reality of any organization is one of a profile of an expert <or passion on a topic> in some particular domain, and not others, and therefore you will never end up with a perfect circle but rather an ellipse or some wacky trapezoid <or something>, in other words, the circle of knowledge & expertise of any business has inconsistent edges/boundaries.

 

 

 

What this means is that organizations are more like uneven spikey boundaries of expertise & knowledge organisms.

Thinking about your organization with regard to attempting to implement some customer centric concepts will help a business better understand their learning flaws, and learning challenges, but maybe more importantly … better understand their areas of expertise.

 

I say all that because you invariably need to grow your customer centric practices … well … unevenly.

 

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“In short, not only are things not what they seem, they are not even what they are called!”

 

———

Francisco de Quevedo

 

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

 

 

 

Lastly <leveraging my last thought off of the unevenness point>.

 

In a hypercritical world <online critiquing driven world> 360degree perfection is a fool’s errand … and, frankly, impossible.flawed and still worthy optimal new people best

 

The more successful path to being the best you can be is … well … be the best you can be on the things you know you can actually be the best you can be day after day after day.

This builds value and believability.

 

Unfortunately most customer-centric gurus start this discussion in the wrong place.

They almost always begin by identifying “weaknesses” or “where we need to improve/be better”. In other words … they begin with what is not an inherent expertise, or something the employees apparently don’t particularly want to do, and make a decision to invest energy attempting to make the organization … well … something they are not naturally.

 

Unfortunately most customer-centric gurus start this discussion in the wrong place.

Customer centric discussions far too often focuses solely on those pesky demanding customers <remember indifference, irritation and unrealistic expectations>. In other words. You are likely to be chasing perpetually dissatisfied, or indifferent until they are dissatisfied, people.

 

That is crazy. Absurd.

 

The better way to be the best customer centric organization is actually to identify what the company does best, that increases customer satisfaction, and say “how can we make our best better” <so we can ‘own’ that expertise>.

 

Some people may read this as “settling.” Or if they want to be harsher suggest that I am stating something ‘lesser than’ a best customer service focused organization.

 

I would tell these ‘some people’ I am a pragmatist and have a tendency to focus on the truths of reality.

 

What do I mean?

 

ideas break the mold new think conformLet’s face it.

 

In the past a company <or their customer centric practices> could get away with not performing at its peak on some things.  Or maybe taking a day off performance wise.

You could because customers didn’t experience full transparency of the best, the cheapest, the first, the most original or the most relevant.

 

Well.

 

That’s all over.

 

And things are bound to get even more radically transparent. I wrote about this years ago and called it “the expectation economy.” http://brucemctague.com/expectations-as-an-economy   Reality dictates you focus on the few things you can master and be an expertise on, offer expectations on those, don’t overpromise on others <even if competitors do> and be ‘customer centric’ by being authentically honest where you are consistently okay and authentically set expectations where you can deliver upon a ‘customer centric promise’ day in and day out.

Reality dictate your customer centric philosophy comes to life in an uneven pattern which actually can stand under the scrutiny of spotlight criticism.

 

In the end.

 

Let me go back to the most important letter in customer centric is “I.”

In this case it is “ideas.”

 

Ideas are the new currency in business, any business, including the service business. If you have a business focused solely on “making the customer happy” you are on a fool’s errand. In today’s interconnected world expectations <and what makes a customer happy> are driven not by your competition nor any realistically relevant industry benchmark … but rather by whatever that customer has uncovered anywhere in the world to establish a benchmark.

If you and your business try to ‘follow the customer expectation’ one-by-one … well … one will quickly become a ‘none’ <as in out of business>.

 

Regardless.

 

Suffice it to say if you are not in the business of generating new ideas to refresh your ‘customer centricity’ you are not competing in the same world as the rest of the businesses out there.

 

I end today’s thought on customer centric with that last one sentence paragraph because inherent in almost any customer centric discussion is NOT any discussion on ideas but rather “satisfaction.”

 

Satisfaction, at its core as a concept, is about “reaction.” In other words, if I am seeking to increase customer satisfaction I therefore seek ways to understand how I can do it <from them> and … well … do it.

 

Ideas are proactive.

 

And maybe that is the most important word, and thought, in this entire diatribe – proactive. 90% of the customer centric presentations I have ever seen have dripped with ‘reactiveness’ … reacting to what customers want in order to make them happy & satisfied <assuming your ultimate value is driven somehow by effective reactiveness>.

 

This makes my head explode.value timeline

 

Reactive value is the lowest value you can achieve.

Conversely.

Proactive value offers you the highest value you can achieve.

 

I will not argue that an effective customer centric organization has to have some good reactive mechanisms in place to show responsiveness to needs but I will argue with any customer centric expert who stops there. True customer centric business is beating the customer to the spot – with ideas, solutions and service.

That is a proactive model. And that is what maximizes value to a customer, breeds real loyalty and … well … insures the business itself constantly pushes out on its own boundaries of ignorance by increasing its circle off knowledge.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know … or am 90% sure … is that you will not hear or read any of this from the traditional customer centric ‘experts.’ That either makes me a moron or … well … a contrarian.

 

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“I am the sea and nobody owns me.”

———-

Pippi Longstocking

 

truth resounds & 59 squared

October 3rd, 2017

real thing false world truth subtle

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But resounding with the truth of things prophesied,

But of things with truth resounds

 

 

Но    вещей    правдою  звучат

No v’eshchej   pravdoju   zvuchat

 

 

 

Its lips are covered with blood!

Lips covered with blood

Уста, запекшиеся  кровью!

Usta, zap’vekshi’esa krovju!

 

———-

Ophelia’s Song: Alexander Bok

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“Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness.”

 

Leonardo da Vinci

 

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

 

 

infinte world of possibilities touch

59squared.

3,481.

 

3481 squared.

12,117,361.

 

12,117,361 squared.

1.5 billion.

 

That’s three degrees and I am at almost 1/5th of the entire world.

 

Yeah.

 

The numbers are really not that neat but you get the point.

 

With a single event, a single death, one person can set off a chain of events that will affect hundreds of thousands, millions and even billions of people.

 

Some people call this “6 degrees of separation” <although I showed it to you as only 3>.

 

I didn’t make up the squared concept … in some form or fashion it reflects the truth of the internet of things and connectedness. And … sadly … it shows the likelihood that the majority of us have some connection to the 59 people who died, the 500+ injured, in the Las Vegas shooting.

 

I say this because it makes it personal. Shit. This IS personal.

 

The main point here is that a person now has access and is aware of more people <true friends as well as web based friends> and can have more frequent communication due to the ‘digital revolution’.

 

Yet.

 

Social media is simply the fact that the traditional benefits of an acquaintance network <personal or professional> and friendships can be more expansively thinkers lotsrealized than before.

 

This means that truth resounds more quickly & clearly & bluntly than ever before.

 

The other truth is that our own experiences, and Life, can then be at the mercy of crowds of friends & acquaintances — crowds providing unsolicited input & feedback & experiences all influencing hordes of additional people’s thoughts on a daily basis. This means whether you are present in one place or not you can be impacted in the present place you stand. You are a nomad in which the world remains your home.

 

Our world is now one large network consisting of two basic things – people and connections.

 

And while many times we look at this as some forced or constructed network <Facebook, twitter, etc. provides hubs and constructs> the reality is that most people networks & connections are organically constructed. So while we like to draw out nice symmetrical shapes to define how connections work and networks are constructed the reality is that networks are more often not symmetrical.

 

The unique patterns in the connections determine the shapes. We reach out in asymmetrical ways to places, events and thoughts and bring them near in seconds.

 

In addition the ties between the connections can be complicated – spanning from intense or passive.

 

In the business world we try to characterize networks and connections in a variety of ways. The trouble is that people are not that orderly and certainly not stagnant and they actively reshape their connections, interests and networks all the time.

 

But I am not here to discuss how the internet can, or cannot, affect personal relationships or a sense of individual isolation but rather this is a thought on how the internet can make things, and Life … well … smaller.

 

ship-home-world-life-is-us-hereOn a day like today, a day after an event like what happened in Las Vegas, this rings true.

 

However .. .on most days the ‘quasi-truth’ that resounds in the echo chambers of what we talk about and ‘think we know’ is that the internet is isolating us … disconnects us from reality and social interaction.

 

So … is it possible that the internet increases connection and decreases connection at exactly the same time?

 

Yup.

 

The Internet connects and it isolates.

 

The usual assumption that most of us make about our computing and communication environment is that we are ‘always’ connected.

 

Indeed, most of us are ‘nomads’ when it comes to computing and communications. We live in a disconnected world much of the time as we travel between our office, home, airport, hotel, car, coffee shop, bedroom, etc.

 

We now recognize that access to computing and communications is necessary not only from one’s `home base’, but also while one is in transit and/or when one reaches one’s destination.

 

It is an anytime, anywhere access world. It is also, paradoxically, a ‘be anywhere at any time’ world.

 

That is the connected aspect which … uhm … creates the whole disconnected aspect.

 

Well.

 

Let’s just say we feel slightly disconnected in a connected way … uhm … until something happens that tightens all the lines of connection.

 

It is within moments like that where the supposed 6 degrees of separation becomes less degrees and more links … all of a sudden the 59squared aspect of connectedness occurs.

....... making "they" smaller ........

 

 

The world gets smaller … in fact … really fucking small.

 

 

We are brought together and something that happens to 59 people, or even 559 people, becomes an experience within our own grasp.

 

Which brings me back to truth and resounding.

 

The majority of our social networking constructs today are on the internet <or have a foundation on the internet>.

Simplistically, we, the people, are connecting via the internet. What this means is that the internet muffles or amplifies our voices, events and truth <as well as lies unfortunately>.

 

What this means is that … well … an event, a moment, a death, an injury, resounds … resounds as in 59squared.

What THAT means is … well … we have to face a truth whether we want to or not.

 

In this case … we are touched, connected and affected by one person with weapons of destruction destroying the lives of someone, and someones, which in some way we are connected to.

 

I imagine I thought to say this today because now we will end up entering into the gauntlet of what to do about this to stop events like this in the future or if we can even do something at all.

 

And I fear, in the end, we will do nothing.

happy-sad-optimistic-pessimistic-world-life-news

 

We will remain disconnectedly connected in our little asymmetrical networks of friends & acquaintances.

 

That was a sad sentence to type.

 

At this point, my conclusion, I imagine it may be relevant to remind everyone of 59squared and the fact that I can do one thing, one right thing … or one wrong thing … and it will resound.

Choose your ‘one thing’ wisely.

 

 

====== back in October 2015 I shared my thoughts on what to do =======

What I am NOT for is irresponsible quibbling and inaction after a shooting tragedy. It is a complex issue that demands something more than a pithy simple solution soundbite. A gun, an individual & a society.

 

choosing an NFL winner or loser Trump style

September 25th, 2017

interfere word

 

==========

 

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

 

—————

Abraham Lincoln

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

 

“Most of us don’t mind doing what we ought to do when it doesn’t interfere with what we want to do, but it takes discipline and maturity to do what we ought to do whether we want to or not.“

 

———–

Joseph B. Wirthlin

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

Just to finish off my thoughts <and frustrations > with regard to Trump’s lack of leadership and the NFL <and pettiness with Steph Curry “dis-invite” of someone who wasn’t going anyway> I wanted to point out just one more trump-i-am-what-i-amincredibly disturbing behavior he continues to exhibit – picking winners & losers with individual businesses.

 

It seems like he has forgotten he is no longer a faux business person, when he could tweet out absurd faux business statements about other real businesses and business people, and that he is now a faux president where he is not supposed to tell businesses how to be run, what an industry should or should not do and call out individual people like he is calling out to the guy who always finds a way to lose to him on the golf course whenever he walks through Mar a Lago’s front door.

 

 

Presidents don’t pick business winners and losers.

 

Presidents don’t tell people how to conduct their business.

 

Governments establish laws, rules & regulations within which individual businesses, industries and people work within. HOW they work within those guidelines is up to them.

 

In fact.

 

Even if a president has some business experience it doesn’t matter how they ran their business, how they believe a business should be run or how they believe specific demands upon organizational behavior should be dictated … it does not matter what he or she thinks.

 

Businesses are enterprises permitted to run their business independent of step-foward-brave-go-do-businessgovernment ‘input.’ It is the right of any business to conduct themselves, legally, the way they choose.

 

I say that because lost in the racial and faux patriotism aspects of the Trump versus NFL <black athletes> mosh pit is the basic fact he interfered in the way an entire business conducts their business.

 

“I think NFL team owners should fire the son of a bitches.”

 

First.

No business owner calls the employees sonofabitches.

If they do they get fired.

 

 

Second.

I have run businesses. No one tells me who I can, or cannot, fire.

No one.

 

 

Third.

I have run businesses. No one tells me how my employees should conduct themselves and what they can, or cannot do,

No one.

 

 

Fourth.

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarianYou should boycott the games <do not attend or watch>.”

 

Uhm.

 

So … the president suggested Americans should not support American business.

 

That’s the bottom line.

 

Gussy that up any way you would like but … that’s it.

 

Do not spend you money on American business.

 

At some point I am sure some Trump administration spokesperson can turn themselves into a pretzel telling me how wrong I am to think and say that … but … uhm … the American president told American people that because American businesses were not doing what he believes is the American way of conducting business that American people should no longer support specific American businesses.

 

What an asshole.

What a fucked up version of an American First business ideology.

 

I imagine my larger point is that since Trump was elected he has called out specific companies and industries … and even specific people … all under the guise of “here is what I believe is good or bad.”

 

<i imagine any Republican/conservative reading this just gagged a little>

 

When he has done this … believe it or not … it has made a difference. constructive destructive business progress

 

Businesses respond, stocks respond and the specific target hears responses <from customers, acquaintances and Trump trolls>.

 

By the way … this forces those businesses, industries and individuals to have to spend unplanned money attempting to respond to the highest office in the country.

 

He is the president. Presidents don’t pick business winners and losers.

 

Whether you like, or dislike, what the president has said about the NFL it is coming with a cost.

 

Saturday morning coaches, owners and players thought the game plan was the most important thing. By late Saturday morning PR teams, business owners conference calls, team captains, and players were all geared up trying to figure out what to do and how to respond.

Business as usual was interrupted.

 

We may think football is game … but it is a business to these people and it is a job.

 

Trump interfered with people’s business, careers and livelihoods.

 

In business words have repercussions.

 

pause interfere life business

…….. Trump’s affect on business by interfering ……….

But Trump doesn’t think beyond the moment and the soundbite and the audience.

He is one of those assholes he just lets others clean up the mess he leaves behind and justifies all his shit by saying shit like “I am just saying what everyone is thinking” … not realizing that most business entities kind of build a system to accommodate ‘the shit’ so when someone comes along and topples the system … well … you have to invest energy, time and money rebuilding a new system to accommodate new shit.

 

 

There are dozens of real stupid leadership things about trump that drive me nuts. But this one is actually different. This is a lack of understanding of the roles & responsibilities of being a president.

You don’t pick winners and losers.

You don’t tell someone how to run their business.

You don’t tell someone who to fire and who to not fire.

 

Basically.

secrets loser think sad community bad behavior

This weekend should remind Donald J Trump that he shouldn’t interfere with anything in the Constitution <free speech> and shouldn’t interfere in American business.

 

I would be furious if I were an NFL owner or head coach.

Furious.

 

 

I would be nervous if I were a business CEO or business leader.

Very nervous.

 

Trump has no idea how to be a president nor how to conduct himself as a president … businesses will suffer this fool week after week.

idealism and realism (possibilities and pragmatism)

September 15th, 2017

idealism pragmatist doing shit

===

 

“It has generally been assumed that of two opposing systems of philosophy, e.g., realism and idealism, one only can be true and one must be false; and so philosophers have been hopelessly divided on the question, which is the true one.”

 

——–

Morris Raphael Cohen

 

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

 

“Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.”

 

——

Herbert Hoover

 

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

 

“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”

 

———–

John Galsworthy

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

I am a pragmatic hope guy. I clearly love instilling hope as part of any business, suicide hope againstor Life, vison but don’t believe in any aspect of false hope. As I have written before while false hope is maybe slightly better than no hope at all    … hope should be treated carefully.

 

That said.

 

All hope to me should be grounded in some sense of pragmatic and reality.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both idealism and realism.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you shouldn’t have aspects of both hope & pragmatism, possibilities and pragmatism and idealism & realism.

 

We should want both AND demand both.

 

It is reaching for the stars and reaching realistically.

It is keeping your feet in the clouds and, yet, head on the ground.

 

But that’s how I think.

 

I thought of this as I noted Hillary has an entire chapter in her new book called pragmatc-hillary-won-some-lost-someidealism and realism where she criticizes some aspects of Bernie Sanders.

I would suggest everyone not read it as criticism of Bernie but rather a tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.

 

I will not defend Mrs. Clinton. It’s not my job.

 

<nor will i buy the book>

 

But I will defend we hope believers who also believe in pragmatism.

 

I will defend that I can offer a sense of a difficult path without creating a larger sense of ‘doom or Armageddon’ to create the sense of urgency which we often deem necessary in order to inspire real action.

 

And, inevitably, that is what this is all about.

 

How do inspire people not just to inspire but to take action?

 

How do I inspire larger ideas and larger actions?

 

I imagine all politicians, who are a version of leaders, have to figure out how to balance this. It is a tightrope all of us who have led walk.

 

The difficulty on this tight rope is that there will always be people debating, and futurist non linearcriticizing, while you walk on this tight rope. They will argue we need more radical change. They will argue we need less radical change. Shit. They will argue we need no change moving forward but rather reverse some of the changes made.

 

And you know what?

 

Some of that, in all of that, is right.

 

Some of the past is awful and some of the decisions we will make for the future, and in the future, will be awful.

 

Conversely, some of all of that will … well … not be awful.

 

To suggest that there are easy answers or that the steps forward are clear and simple is … well … stupid. Stupid & foolish.

 

Hillary is, and will always be, a lightning rod.

 

We may scratch our heads with regard to some of the things she says … or we may instead sit back and ponder the good debate to be found in the lightning rod discussions.

 

For in her “Idealism and Realism” can be found the constructive decision which any leader tries to find their own course in leading.

 

We debate all of this shit in our own heads … and then we debate it in conference rooms and boardrooms every week.

 

deal with uncertainty repeat embrace life do

We are responsible for past decisions and, yet, try to unburden ourselves so that we can move forward.

 

Simplistically, just because I <maybe> made an awful decision in the past doesn’t mean I will make an awful decision in the future.

 

Simplistically, just because I maybe offer a hopeful idealistic decision for the future doesn’t mean it is a realistic decision for now.

 

Simplistically, just because I try and slow everybody down on some idealistic discussion shouldn’t suggest I am any more ‘canny or wise’ than everybody else let alone the person who offers the idealistic hope that people may gravitate toward … it just suggests that maybe I am trying to balance … well … reality.

And maybe incorporate the fact that, pragmatically, I would like to incorporate some possibilities for people today & tomorrow.

 

I will suggest, no, I will tell you the harsh truth … getting good shit done is hard.

 

pragmatic hope people balanceGetting shit done means balancing overreach and under reach.

 

Balancing possibilities and pragmatism.

 

Balancing idealism and realism.

 

Balancing the practical and the hope.

 

Balancing what people think they want and what they need.

 

Balancing the majority and the minority. Balancing what is good for one and good for all.

 

Anything less than that is oversimplification.

 

Oh.

 

Shit.

 

And then there is context.

One can never lose sight of context.

 

You have to balance the idea, the hopefulness of ‘what could be’, against pragmatically where you have been <what has happened if not what has just happened> as well as where you are.

 

It is incredibly simplistic to suggest an Obama decision when he took office should be compared to a decision a Clinton or a Trump would make when they took office. Just as it would be incredibly simplistic to judge a business leader if they were to take over a large company which was truly heading into a shithole versus a company which had some problems but was, in general, businesswise healthy.

 

Every transition has its own singular issues. And, let’s be clear, every situation has problems.

 

We should all recognize that in the overall life cycle of Life problems and opportunities, practical and possibilities, hope & despair, heroes & villains, will appear in different forms.

 

This is not cynical … this is … uhm … reality

 

Yaeh.

 

Whoever became the new president of the United States was going to deal with some problems.

compromise life good want you they

Harping on whatever those problems doesn’t really get you anywhere.

They are what they are.

 

I could also argue that … well … arguing over idealistic ideas and vision without admitting some pragmatism and practicality doesn’t really get you anywhere.

 

We all hate cynicism and because we do we confuse it with pragmatism and practicality.

We all get tired of pragmatism because … well … it sounds small.

 

But I would point out that we all not only get tired, but absolutely unequivocally hate, false hope and unrealized idealism. “Large” unrealized equals zero, nothing, nada. People don’t like a zero, nothing, nada no matter how large the zero, nothing, nada is.

 

And you know what?

 

A good leader knows all of this. And they do their best to walk the tight rope. They may not always get it right and they may not always get done whatever is needed to get done to alleviate the problems, or all the problems, that exist in the here and now. But I would point out that, realistically, you can never alleviate all problems and that problems exist, contextually, no matter if an idealist or a realist, a pragmatist or a ‘possibilities driven’ leader, a hope or a practical leader steps in. the only constant that any leader faces is that problems existed to be addressed, exist to address and will exist to address … all to eventually be solved.

 

Not accepting that as a Life truth is foolish.

 

I thought of this today as I envision Hillary Clinton will face another day of criticism from not only all sides but all dimensions. I am sure she will deserve some but the sheer amount is crazy. Yeah. It is most likely an easy buck for a shitload of people but it is lazy.

 

Lazy rhetoric and lazy thinking.

 

 

Maybe, just maybe, we should be sitting back and thinking I would suggest everyone maybe think about this as a grander tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.combine contradict idealism realism possibilities

 

I tend to believe this would not only be helpful, but a necessary, discussion because … well … we deserve both idealism & realism, possibilities & pragmatism and hope & individual significance.

 

Once again, I am not in the business of defending Hillary Clinton, however, maybe … just maybe … we should stop criticizing what happened and start discussing what happens now.

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

September 13th, 2017

 

vague definition unclear indistinct

===========

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Everything has to do with everything else.

 

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

 

—–

Arturo Perez Revarte

 

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

 

 

Vague sucks.

 

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

 

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

 

Is this work valuable ? Sure.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Once again.

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

 

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

 

Ah.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I imagine I have two points today.

 

 

First.big-decisions-stress-uncertainty

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Second.

 

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

 

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

A vague outline is a choice.

No more and no less.

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

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

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

 

Anyway.

 

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

 

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

It is just damn practical to have some vague outlines.

 

 

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

 

 

Life is restless.

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

 

Enlightened Conflict