Excuse Me .. You Have Something on Your Face..

J-DuB asks– How do we fix the problem of people SAYING they want to INNOVATE and DOING nothing BUT Innowasting Time & Effort?InnovationToday.jpgBeginInnovation.jpg

Good question sir.. today I am going to talk a little about innovation in plain speak for people who “get it” but don’t “get it” or really don’t “want it.”

Crazy post..?? Yup..:

Dear Leadership,

You asked me to tell you what we could do better.  You told me that I am important and that I matter to the organization, yet.. when I answered you.. (*sniff*) You smacked my words away as if they were an annoying nat buzzing around your ear.  You called me to sit and listen to your two-hour talk about needing to blah, blah, blah-ovate and blah, blah, belm-ovate.  Does this sound familiar?

You are not only our workforce of today!  You are our workforce of tomorrow.  We… no.. I am counting on you to help take our company into the future.   We are facing new challenges with budget constraints and time, and customer issues and..

…it is critical that we crowd-source our best practice lessons learning into a web service (SOA) offering that cloud enables our capabilities to perform predictive analytics on BIG data!  We are leaning forward and all pulling in the same direction.   I need you.. your thoughts .. your ideas.. WE NEED TO INNOVATE.. **pant.. pant..pant**

As I look into the crowd… **pause** (looking forward) I see our best and brightest!   I see the future and the future is YOU!   I need to know what I can do to make things better for you!  I need to know what I can do to ENABLE you!


JoinMeTCP.png

Sir.. remember when I raised my hand?  Do you remember when I said ” we know how to help and we will help if you let us?”  What happened?

Where did you go when you stepped down off the podium?  Where are you now?  We needed to tell  you that you have something hanging from your nose and it is not pleasant to look at.   Oh, no it isn’t something disgusting and physically embarrassing.  It is worse than that sir.  It is an untruth.

V/R,

Your Staff 

Leaders: Yes, Something is ON YOUR FACE

It is really a shame, all that energy and potential just sitting in a box (cube), ready to explode out and create.

Trim a tree but do it well and it will grow and blossom! It can be shaped, it can be bounded and it could be beautiful.

This untruth is bold and clear, it is not hidden and that is why we can say that it is on their faces.  We all know it’s there but we play pretend like we don’t see it.  It is that organizational leaders are far removed from the thick of the work.  They tend to the sheep through the spreadsheet and the Powerpoint.  The problem is that today our generation x’rs and the millennial workforce that is taking hold of business doesn’t tolerate this behavior.  They were told that each and every person can make a difference.  They were told that they individually are special.  They believe in taking action and they believe in being empowered.  I can tell you that I have seen and heard stories (over and again) on how the workforce is changing.  The costs associated with ignoring this truth is astronomical.  It can and in some cases will put businesses out of business.

There are many dynamics to this but the key here is (TRUST).   Trust and honesty the fundamental core of credibility.  When leaders are telling stories and lies in plain sight, it destroys and diminishes the ability of the organization to move in one direction.  It becomes a bounded box supercharged with shards of fragmented people pulling in multiple directions.   Well, it is bounded.. cause umm .. some people still have to work, they just aren’t as motivated and maybe they are looking elsewhere for something that they aren’t finding back at the ranch.

What the.. does this have to do with innovation?

Before you innovate, you have to motivate.   It is that simple and that clear.Findx2013.jpg

Process List:

  1. Motivate ✓ – Help people find PURPOSE.  Understand the truth about the organization.(Who are we and what do we do?, What did we do?, Why we don’t do dat anymore?)
  2. Share (OUR) Purpose✓ We have been in this business for 10,000 years selling caveman clubs.. but ya know… people don’t want clubs anymore to bonk stuff, they want clubs to smack balls in tiny little holes on a beautiful grass field.   We are changing our business!!! We are going sell small exotic metal clubs to make people happy!  (Our purpose is to make people happy!!)
  3.  Share the mission✓Be honest now.. what are we really doing?
  4.  Share the vision✓ How are we going to get there?  Oh.. you don’t know and you want help to figure that out? (more to come on this below)
  5.  Share the scope of work✓
  6. Share the objectives✓
  7. Tell the story of where we are now and why things are changing and why things have to change✓ (How about a little ownership on change?  How about you tell me that I have a stake in this and that I can help make things better?)
  8. HELLO, ARE YOU LISTENING? THIS WORKFORCE IS ITCHING TO DO STUFF!
  9. Ahh that’s enough .. you are probably bored.. 

Ok.. so now I have said what needs to happen but we all know that it doesn’t happen this way.  We know that leaders are afraid of the truth.   We know that they are afraid of change.  We know that large companies are changing all the time but big changes happen like tectonic plates smashing into each other.   To shape a large corporation quickly, big things have to happen.   That is the reason innovation doesn’t jive well in large organizations.

SO, how do some companies get around it?

Well, there is a saying in our industry called “guerrilla IT”  it happens in organizations when the superusers go rogue and duplicate or create new technologies to support themselves.  Companies were against it for a long time, until recently.  They figured out that people will take care of themselves and those around them on behalf of the company.  In a lot of cases, they will do it out of their own pockets.  (BYOD anyone??)means bring your own device, if you aren’t cool and into the new lingoes.

Say What?.. innovation is the same thing.. people are innovating all the time.  They are just doing it in secret.  They are doing it in pockets of space between tasks and they are doing it at home.   When they bring their innovative ideas to the workplace, if they have autonomy there is no problem.  Of course, someone may find out later but  …  the difference is that people will do what they enjoy regardless of what the leadership in the company says.  What leadership needs to understand is that if they don’t help people find purpose and help them align their motivation to the organization, their innovators may be just innovating for themselves.  That means they become some cost to the organization that really can’t be accounted for.

Summary

We can certainly talk more about this topic but I am making a few points here. Doesn’t look that great so far … BUT

Endup.jpg

First,  leaders need to face the truth about what they really want. Specifically in terms of the health and well-being of their company relative to the risk they are willing to take on by ignoring their true innovative catalysts.  Once they figure out what they want, they need to be honest and build trust with their staff by becoming “ENABLERS” and “SERVANT LEADERS.”

Standingandwatching.jpg
almostdone.jpg

Second, leaders need to face this little reality (people will innovate whether adjacent, transformational, break through, sustained, disruptive, basic, etc.  People that have fire in their bellies and passion in their hearts will find things to do. They will innovate and they will do all sorts of cool things and great things…

it just may not be for YOU!  It may be that J-DuB just built the best steampunk lego device of all time.

What could he have done for you?

Just sayin..

Do you need a towel to wipe that off?

finIllustrations provided by the artist formerly known as Bryce..

Organizations Bleeding Out (The Unknown Loss)

Paying Folks to Learn and Leave

It is easy to talk about statistics and point out numbers associated with employee turnover.  It isn’t easy for organizations to quantify what the turn over actually is costing.   Human resource information systems exist that can provide some numbers but those are numbers are essentially an average range.   That doesn’t give anyone a good idea of what is really going on.  It is just a number or set of numbers.    What does that mean?

I started working for Lockheed Martin in 2004, fresh out of working in a school division.  I was ready to learn, grow and take on the world.   Lockheed Martin was vast corporate mountain to climb chock full of options and opportunity.  As soon as I got on board, I immediately took to going back to school full time.  Lockheed had a tuition reimbursement program like a lot of other big companies.  All I needed to do was keep a “B” average and they would pay 100% of my tuition.   I had great ideas (actually it was the beginning of the 8 ideas a day) that I wanted to share with LM.

My management was very supportive and encouraging, in fact at the time my manager was doing the exact same thing!  One of the line managers would pull me to the side all the time and tell me to “get my education and get out as soon as I can.”

You should know the end of this story by now.   I gained valuable experience, I gained education and I became known to an industry that previously didn’t have a clue I existed.

The estimated cost to Lockheed Martin was $75,000, I would say the real cost to Lockheed was somewhere in the millions of dollars range.

National Labor Turnover Rates

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate for separations in June 2011 was 3.1 percent. The separation rate includes employees who voluntarily quit a position, layoffs, retirements and discharges. While the rate of employee turnover did not change significantly from May 2011, the rate for June of 2010 was 2 percent.

Industry Turnover Rates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports labor turnover rates according to industry and shows a 6.9 percent turnover for employees working in the construction industry in June 2011, which experienced the highest level of employee turnover. Government agencies and employers experienced the lowest level of employee turnover, with a 1.4 percent labor turnover rate. Employers in the arts, recreation and entertainment industry show a 5.4 percent turnover of labor during the same month.

National Quit Rate

The percentage of workers who quit a position in June 2011 in private industry was 1.7 percent. Government agencies experienced a 0.5 percent rate of employees quitting a position during the same period. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the finance and insurance industries as well as government employers showed a decline in the number of quits in June 2011 while the education industry showed an increase.

Retention Rate Calculation

The employee retention rate can indicate how well your business maintains employee satisfaction. To calculate the employee retention rate, start with the total number of employees on staff at the end of a period — monthly, quarterly or annually. For example, if you have 200 employees at the end of a quarter, and 25 of those employees left the business during the same quarter, subtract 25 from 200. Divide the result by the total number of employees, and multiply the answer by 100 to get the retention rate. In the example, the employee retention rate is 87.5 percent. Compare the retention rate in one period to the rate in other periods for an indication of how well you are retaining your employees.

(Source) http://smallbusiness.chron.com/average-employee-retention-rate-18799.html

The Value of Tacit

It would be inappropriate for me to discuss the details as to why LM lost out on millions of dollars because of my leaving.  What I can say is that my situation is not unusual. Companies are losing this kind of talent and money all the time and they just don’t realize it.   When organizations calculate “total value” or “total rewards” for benefits or costs of an employee they are not reversing those calculations and looking at how much the employee is of value to the organization.  They don’t do this because they don’t know how much a function or a capability from a role is worth.  They don’t do this because a lot of times they don’t know what their employees do.   That’s right!! I said it… they don’t know what their people actually do! 

Human resources can track the job title, role, responsibilities and costs of human capital but there is generally no feedback from an employee assessment back to the HR information system that updates the system to tell what the employee is actually doing.  In fact, it is likely that in a lot of cases when a leader or manager is asked what their people do, they have to inquire themselves first.   If you don’t know what they do and you don’t know how much they are worth to an organization how could you let them go?  If you let them go, how much did it cost the organization to lose them?   I am not talking about “employee potential value”, I am talking about “Employee REAL Value.”

Food for Thought

If you are an organizational leader, can you say that you know how much any one individual in your organization is valued or of value to the organization?  Do you have a measure for this?  Certainly you may feel that YOU are of value to the organization.. right?  How much are you worth (not in dollars earned for you) but in REAL dollar value to your organization?   How much would your company stand to lose if you train someone for a few years and they get up to speed and become an expert in their field, get educated both paper and organic and decide to walk?   How much have you already lost because you didn’t know this information?    It seems to me that the newer generations are less loyal to any one company and that they will be willing to bounce from place to place as they see fit, how much will this behavior cost in the future as tacit information becomes more of a premium?

The Final Point on the UNKNOWN VALUE OF..

http://www.npr.org/2013/06/19/184827651/animal-csi-inside-the-smithsonians-feather-forensics-lab

Carla Dove is a forensic ornithologist, the last one…. If you read the article above you can get more details but the bottom line is

Dove’s keen eye and knowledge of feathers have come from more than two decades of practice. She’s the only person in the country with these skills, and she worries about the future of this kind of analysis.

“Unless I have someone to follow me around, and do some research on the microscopic structure of feathers, I think that one of these days the whole expertise in this field is going to go away,” she says. These days, she says, students are more interested in “instant satisfaction” and cutting-edge technology.

Dove inherited her lab from the only other U.S. scientist to do this work: Laybourne, who was already in her 80s.

Dove says she has yet to find the person who will take over when she retires — the special ornithologist who can continue the work in this unusual feather forensics lab.

We don’t know (or even attempt) to measure the value of certain areas of our work.  In this case,  there is no Carla Dove men-tee.  Maybe we will get lucky and she will find someone to follow in her footsteps or maybe her tacit knowledge will go the way of the lost tribes.  Regardless, ignorance is costly and introduces previously mitigated risk and loss.

Angry and Disconnected

Increasingly we are disconnected.

It is as simple as that and as complicated as that.  We are disconnected from each other.  The relationships that we have are finely strung interwoven webs of very fragile connections.   The connections are fragile because of all of the miscommunication.  Even when we stand in front of each other today and talk person to person we are still communicating less effectively than we did years ago.

People in all walks of business are becoming more increasingly angry and frustrated and as a friend puts it we are all suffering from some form of “disaster fatigue.”   As I watched the news last night, and we wrapped up and closed the latest great tragedy that will surely get a name and a conspiracy theory assigned to it, I was troubled by the thought that all we seek is closure (quickly).   After 4 days and exhaustive efforts and incredible detective work, it is finally over.  Oh thank G-d it is over! Now we can move onto the next great tragedy and forget about this one unless we want to make some great point in a position paper or argument.  The media is disgusting at times.   There is no such thing as journalist integrity anymore, shame on them.  Shame on us too, because we watch it and we let them entertain us with their constant barrage of tragedy and despair.  They keep us on the edge of our seats and then wrap up people’s lives like it is a novel.

I most appreciated and still have the images of the “experts” smiling as they discussed this case and the situation.   I am not being too sensitive, the world is no longer sensitive enough.  It is desensitized and disconnected.   We are turning into a culture of racing changes and closure.  It is as if in our lives we are rocks that are being skimmed across a pond.   Every surface contact is the experience of a major event or situation only to end sunken and somewhere.

It isn’t as if humanity is new or that we haven’t experienced changes or tragedy in the history of our world.  It seems as if there is just more for us individually to consume at a faster rate and more knowledge to handle in multiple levels of thought and conscience.  It is overloading people on an individual level.  What happens is they effectively shut off noise.   Noise may be important but can’t be handled.   It takes time to deal with noise and we have no time.

When you walk into your bosses office and you ask to talk to him or her and they are reading their email or texting or doing something else other than paying attention to what you have to say, it becomes personal to you but isn’t to them, they are simply filtering.   The problem is that this is our world.  This is what we are morphing into.  A noisy place with no time to think and no time to listen.  We get less than half of a story and it needs to close so that we can move on to another story.

When Martin Richard, 8, Dorchester, Massachusetts was murdered in cold blood by the senseless act of these young men in Boston, will you remember Martin next week?   For his family,  my heart hurts today.  It is true that my heart hurt yesterday for the senseless Newtown killings but as far as we are concerned (mostly) it is over and behind us.  How many of the children do you remember?  How many were killed?  What were their names?  Do you know? What about 911? How many were killed?  What were their names?  Time heals all wounds except the ones that are everlasting. The everlasting wounds that run deep in the families of those who have lost or the left over feelings that are underlying in our hearts.  The undertone of despair and sadness that we carry with us.   Only to be added onto by the next tragedy and the next and the next.  Never forget, always remember but if you do forget in your mind, you may not forget in your heart.  What do we do when we feel so much?  We disconnect so that we don’t have to feel.  We don’t need our tears anymore because we don’t have the capacity to manage all of our feeling input and we have nothing left in our emotional tanks that would allow us to cry.  Although there are times when someone is close enough to us that we will be compelled by overwhelming emotion to feel.  We are mostly.. away.

The only point I will add here is that this behavior and situation impacts us at work beyond the obvious.  Since we are failing to communicate effectively, we are augmenting our communication with explicit and highly technical surrogates.   One of my areas of work and great concern is Knowledge Management.   Why is KM one of the top concerns of leadership around the globe today?   Because knowledge is happening faster and change is happening faster and everything is happening faster.   The demands for fast and short term solutions and short term thinking and short term closure of issues is driving organizations around the world to dismiss the criticality of the long term and strategic thinking.   This speed need is creating demand for the 15 minute manager, the short term rockstar, the idol (American) or other.  The quick win.  Snatching the bird from the hand and forgetting that there are a few in the bush.  Lack of patience, lack of quality, lack of service, lack of value, lack of kindness and other mass effects.

 

Lack of connection… lack of a real true connection.  The ultimate result is that there is no trust.  No trust = failure.


How Many Know Me?inmap

How many know me? My passion, my hopes, my dreams?  How many know my intent?  How many trust me?  I am connected.. I am connected digitally to a lot of people.  I don’t even know a number to tell you but let us say a lot.

So, as I said in the beginning it is simple and simply complicated.   It is not about unplugging ourselves and disconnecting from the world.  It is about taking steps to engage and listen to the noise and to turn it off when someone is standing in front of us.  It is about, responding to those who reach out to us and building trust where we can and when it makes sense.  It is about love and looking for small simple small acts of kindness within ourselves without any measurable expectations.

 We need to manage our connections and make time to disconnect.  We certainly can’t hold the world in our hands but we can grab a piece of the world when we need it, put it back on the shelf when we don’t and trust that the rest is beyond us.

To Compromise with The Sun

The Who of You

Sam sold fruit in Spanish Harlem, he would travel every day from his home in New York City to open his fruit cart and sell his fruit.  Sam could speak at least 3 languages including english and spanish.  What we know about our family is really very limited isn’t it?  Unless you are into genealogy or your family member was famous.  What we do know is that these people shared something with us that may go beyond a simple transfer of DNA.  It is our love and hate, our fears and hopes that are transferred in the hidden undertones of our upbringing.  It is more than white noise because it is thematic.  Even if you were raised by a family other than your own biological family, you will carry some familiar theme.  It is what it is.  As generations are born and raised maybe some of the themes are altered a bit and some things can change but there are still faint remains.   I expect that is what is meant when my grandmother would say to me that I remind her of my grandfather whom I never met.  I didn’t meet him physically but through my father I am given the good and maybe some of the bad as well.    We are who we are and there is no grand bargain that can change certain aspects or characteristics of our being.  If Stephen Hawking could change his condition wouldn’t he?  If he did would he be able to contribute to our world and to science as he has over and again?

To Compromise

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.”
― Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

A compromise is a settlement.  You have to let go of something and make a concession to compromise.  Can you compromise with your being?  In other words, we still don’t have the technology today to compromise on all things.   As a matter of fact, there are many things that we can’t compromise on because we don’t have the power to do it.

Compromise is the issue of today.   It is THE issue because so many of us are unwilling to do it when we can and others demand it when it isn’t really warranted.  There doesn’t seem to be a good balance today when it comes to compromise.   It doesn’t even seem to me that we are looking at compromise from a reasonable and rational perspective.

We can put on some very basic hats and come up with fairly intractable conflict.  Just for quick reference (IC)

Intractable conflicts are clearly different from other conflicts. The major characteristics of intractable conflicts can be summarized as follows:

  1. In terms of actors, intractable conflicts involve states or other actors with a long sense of historical grievance, and a strong desire to redress or avenge these.
  2. In terms of duration, intractable conflicts take place over a long period of time.
  3. In terms of issues, intractable conflicts involve intangible issues such as identity, sovereignty, or values and beliefs.
  4. In terms of relationships intractable conflicts involve polarized perceptions of hostility and enmity, and behavior that is violent and destructive.
  5. In terms of geopolitics, intractable conflicts usually take place where buffer states exist between major power blocks or civilizations.
  6. In terms of management, intractable conflicts resist many conflict management efforts and have a history of failed peacemaking efforts.

Here we are in 2013.  Martin Luther King had a dream of people being simply being treated fairly as people.   It started with compromise, didn’t it?

Now we have what I would call a dysfunction compromise system.   This is a system where we recognize that we need to make concessions or that we have a desire for concessions but we act in ways that are counterintuitive and counter productive concerning concessions.

For example, we should respect all religions except that SOME religion directs us towards violence.   We must make every effort to compromise.  This also is interesting because religion (at least in the past 30-40 years) is changing.   Religion is being forced to compromise with desired outcomes.   I want to state for the record that I am simply talking about this by observation.  My issue and concern isn’t about any one particular thing, it is about our sociological disconnect from reality that is becoming the new normal.  Hot topics of the past 40 years are racial, religion, women’s rights, jobs, economic and political gridlock, global trends, global warming, freedom and democracy for people of the world.

What changed?  I can pull open a newspaper from the 1900’s or the 1800’s and see similar issues if not the same exact issues.   And, so.. I go back just a few short years ago, maybe 50 or 60 years ago.  A middle aged guy named Sam, he gets up every morning and puts his pants on one leg at a time.  He kisses his wife or just yells goodbye as he heads out to sell fruit to his customers.   To sell fruit to people in Spanish Harlem, he had to learn to speak spanish (that was something he had to do) they didn’t compromise with him.    Sam and other immigrants from
“the old world” or from Italy, Ireland, Spain and other places came to America in search of something new, something different.  They had to change their behavior to become American but the interesting part is that they were unwilling or unable to stay where they were .   No one really talks about that part too often.  Why couldn’t they just stay where they were and work things out?  Why couldn’t they compromise?   There is a delicate balance in life, it is give and take but there are also factors in which we have little or no control.  No matter how much we want men to bear the burden of carrying a child, science isn’t there yet.   Should it get there, I am sure some group somewhere will stand up and demand that women have been carrying children for their families for far too long and that men have an obligation to share this extremely difficult burden.   You may read this and think that I am being unreasonable or maybe just because I am saying this that I am being sexist.  Well, that is exactly why I am writing this today.  If I say something that is true even if I don’t believe one way or the other that it is right or wrong, it creates conflict.  We can’t even talk about it because it is offensive.  It is offensive because we have compromised ourselves into dysfunction.   If people wonder why we can’t anything done in Washington DC, this is the reason.

Summary

The next time you write something on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, your blog, my blog, your website, company post, newspaper, chat and the list goes on and on, just consider for a moment that false compromise isn’t always the answer and further that if you have an honest belief stand up for it.  If you have room to truly compromise, consider that as well but be mindful of the truth and your intent, the world will be a better place for it.

“Quincy Magoo” You’ve Done It Again…

Do you remember Mr. Magoo?

Magoo says ” I should have known your type…” as he yells at himself in the mirror.  He is angry for all of the things that were done to him and he was the cause.

“Don’t waste your time and money..”

Magoo wanted to get dance lessons as he misread a letter in the mail.  He was thinking that he was invited to a dance when he read an advertisement  for something totally unrelated.  He was yelling about the mess he got himself into and was advising others that weren’t there not to waste their time or money on the dance lessons.  After all, the place he was in was run” like a gym.”  In other episodes, there were times that Magoo would run aimlessly into something that was not harmful.  Most of the time he would get himself into a situation where he affected others.  That is the point of the blog today.

Simply complex but simple.

I picked up a habit of carrying a whiteboard marker with me.  By chance you may have a whiteboard that I should write on and muddy.  The circles and lines that connect them are all simple thoughts.   I draw the line from here to there and tag it to show what the line means.   As the lines and circles start to grow and I am standing in front of the board, I am telling a story.    If you aren’t there from the beginning and you walk in towards the end, the board looks to be full of lines and circles and words written between.   It is impressive and complicated looking.   The truth is that it isn’t complicated.  It is just the whole story without all of the words all smashed together in a frame.   It is not meant to be understood without me.  Unless there was a video taken, you would be lost and you may wonder.

If you were to walk into the room and look at the writing on the wall, you would automatically take what I have written and frame it.  You would apply meaning in areas where there wasn’t any or you would rationalize the connections and relationships based on your perception.

In a sense, we all have some Magoo like tendencies.

The Magoo Problem

We frame the world actively at every moment and sew together a picture based on what we believe we see.  David Eagleman in his book “Incognito” pointed out that our brains are locked into a fully enclosed and dark space.   That is the physical case, but we see or perceive light.   It is manufactured by our input, our sensors.

That is our world.  We think that things are something when they may or may not be.    We have the unique understanding of the world from our perspective.  The problem is that our perspective if skewed too far can cross boundaries and have unintended consequences.   That is why it is important to understand “intent.”   Who could be mad at old Magoo?  He was just trying to learn how to dance?   In this story, he wound up destroying the gym.

The thinking person rationalizes everything to make sense of it.  We are forced to simplify the complex.   The complex as we see it, may become the world of Magoo.

Magoo Conflict

We are wired for the world.  We are wired to frame and create context and we are also wired to inter-relate to others.  Daniel Goleman writes about it in his Social Intelligence book and other places.

Excerpt  (http://www.discoveringtherealme.org/resources/book-review/130-social-intelligence-by-daniel-goleman.html)

The first example Goleman gives of social intelligence is that of a group of American soldiers in Iraq paying a visit to a cleric to enlist his aid in distributing relief supplies. The local populace feared the well-armed soldiers. They were afraid they were going to arrest their cleric or profane their mosque. A mob quickly surrounded the soldiers. One can imagine what would have happened should a soldier, threatened by a gesture, shot off a gun. 

No one got shot and no one got hurt. In fact, the mob encounter ended amicably due, Goleman says, to the social intelligence of Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hughes, who gauged the myriad social factors involved in record time and implemented a series of steps designed to defuse the situation: he ordered his men to kneel on one knee, point their weapons at the ground, and—most importantly—smile. Since a smile is a universal expression of friendliness, the confused Iraqi people began to smile back. The reverential posture and the signal that the weapons were not to be used also reassured them. Some of the now peaceably departing Iraqis even dared to pat the soldiers on the back. What could have been an ugly incident of resounding personal and international repercussions turned into a positive one because of the leader’s instinctive social intelligence.

It is a confusing world we live in.   We seem to stumble like the baby in the construction lot.  Somehow we make our way from girder to girder or we don’t.   When we don’t make it or we are victims of some event we are conflicted.  It seems to be the cause of so many problems that we have.   We can’t smile our way out of some of these things but we are naturally inclined to be connected and that is a good thing.   Oh, where was I going?  

Magoo Advice

I just watched him again this morning.  I initially had plans on writing about something else.  Maybe I just stumbled into Magoo?   He first appears in Ragtime Bear 1949.  He couldn’t see a thing and was pretty angry.  His perception of the world was always very far from what we see around him.   He only wanted “Peace and quiet, a man needs his rest.”   In 1956  Puddle jumper he bought a full-out electric car.   It is funny how he believed that the electric car was the better machine to drive.   How easy it is to think that Magoo has it wrong.   Magoo isn’t just nearsighted, he is perceptually mis-aligned.   His view of the world creates confusion, anger, cross talk, lack of clarity, and seemingly made him a bit crazy to us.   Although that is what comes across,  Magoo is forward thinking and has some old wisdom, he believes that his perspective of the world is the world and that others around him see it as he does and if they don’t, he instructs them accordingly.

What he is missing is the alignment to others.

The short of it

How Magoo relates to you.   We all see the world through our own eyes and though it may be obvious to us, the things we see and believe may be wrong.  If we consider that we are in some ways like Magoo; blind to things that we believe we see.   This may be a step in opening ourselves to other possibilities.  If we can manage and have the patience, it is possible for us to learn and teach.  In other words, Magoo didn’t always have it wrong.  After all, he loved the electric car in 1956 and we are just a few short years behind him.   He didn’t always have it right either and his mis-perceptions of the world caused devastation in a lot of episodes.  It takes a balance of ideas, knowledge, and patience and the ability to recognize that we individually may be wrong and further that we can only learn that we are wrong though discussion , open dialog and empathy.  If we open ourselves to this, we may wind up being wrong together or right together, regardless maybe it would lead to more happiness.

These are some of my thoughts this Sunday morning.   Cheers

Dispatches from the Front: 21 November 2012 **Thanksgiving Edition**

Dispatches from the Front: 21 November 2012

Friends,

I am sorry I have not sent any Dispatches since September.  You have no
idea how these Green of Blue incidents has affected our assessment work.
There have been many long days and nights required to bring some
understanding to this phenomena.  The answer lies is an education of
Islam.  Over whisky upon my return I will gladly tell you the
unclassified aspects of what was recognized and how it has caused such a
conundrum. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  It has always been one of my most favorite
holidays.  I associate Thanksgiving with dinner at my Grandma’s.  Often,
I would bird hunt in the morning and afternoon.  Always arriving in
plenty of time to meet up with Uncle Pike, the only Marine in my family
until I came along.  He was a WWII Marine, participated in the invasion
of Tarawa, Tinian and Okinawa.  He and I would exchange USMC stories as
he taught me how to carve the ham and turkey in the kitchen.  The food I
remember was the finest I have ever eaten.  The candied yams, yeast
rolls, vegetables, meats, desserts, all beyond anything I have had
since.  Regardless how crowed, there was always room and an abundance of
food.  All things a man had reason be very thankful.  I hope each of you
have a great Thanksgiving.  Mine will be another work day with the mess
hall preparing a meal the best they can, but knowing they will fall
short.

These are interesting times.  Regardless where you are in life, you have
got to be excited by what is going on around you every day whether you
want to recognize it or not.  The bias news reporters are masters of
propaganda and pushing their own agendas.  Have you ever noticed how
pompous and arrogant they all are?  Pundits of misinformation are a more
realistic description of their performances.  I will purposely stay away
from world events of which I know little about.  However, I do know
something about war and this current one we are now fighting, every day
and every night while you are awake as well as when you are asleep.
There are no weekend breaks and none of those involved stop to enjoy
holidays or relaxing meals.  Sleep without interruption is a pleasure
far removed as rockets and mortars fall. As of 20 Nov, I have attended
39 Fallen Hero ceremonies which consisted of 69 flag draped caskets.  I
have survived 22 rocket and mortar attacks on this compound since I have
arrived.  The Taliban are becoming better shots.  They unfortunately
have succeeded in several KIAs and WIAs as well as aircraft destruction.
The closest a round landed from me was 150 yards away.  It ruins your
sleep for that night when they explode so nearby.       

What a fine mess we find ourselves in a place called Afghanistan.
Wasn’t it written somewhere that those who do not study history are
doomed to repeat it?  I am afraid history will prove this Dispatch
correct.  Afghanistan is an easy place to invade, set up governments,
and declare victory. But to control the will of the collective Afghan
tribes has never in all recorded time been successfully accomplished. 
The current and past events of Afghanistan remind me of my reading back
at VMI from Thucydides: “the powerful exact what they can and the weak
grant what they must.”   

Alexander the Great during the winter of 329-328 B.C. realized in Balkh,
northern Afghanistan, he was in constant combat against enemies who
would not quit, and for what? He would win every skirmish against the
mountain tribal warriors, and another bare fridge mountain top would be
his but at a cost.  By the way, there is snow on the mountains again.

Genghis Khan came through in 1221 AD.  His hordes had no desire to
control these lands, only to destroy all that was in their path.  They
accomplished that remarkably well along the natural invasion routes but
never succeeded to conquering the numerous mountain tribes.  It was not
because he could not.  It was not worth the effort. 

Smaller invasions and limited conquests were recorded but nothing like
the scale of the First Anglo-Afghan War, Auckland’s Folly, of 1839 to
1842.

The English were the best examples of foolishness in these strange
bellicose and belligerent lands. To prevent the spread of Russian
imperialism into India, the glorious British Imperialist of the East
India Company, convinced the Crown to send the Grand Army of the Indus
to repel the Czar’s threat.  The British even brought with them their
own exiled Afghan king, Shah Shuja, to run the country for them.  On
April 25, 1839, the army reached Kandahar, (a miserable dusty place I do
say so myself after spending time there.) What the British did not
realize is the incredible patience of the Afghan people.  Their
occupation was much like owning a viper as a pet, you can feed the snake
the finest rats and provide it improved living conditions; but the viper
will lie in wait and when opportunity presents itself, will always
strike to kill.   In January 1842, the entire British garrison, 15,000,
(minus Capt Thomas Souter, who by wrapping the regimental colours around
himself was taken prisoner, being mistaken by the Afghans as a high
military official and Surgeon William Brydon) was lost to the “ghazis”
religious warriors who put aside tribal differences for the greater
purpose of evicting infidels from who once again threaten their lands
and the Hindu Kush mountain range.  The puppet king was assassinated
shortly thereafter.  An aside note; from the antique shops in Kabul, I
have obtained an original Khyber long knife, an original Karud dagger
and a Jezail musket used against the British of that time.  They are
wicked but efficient tools of war.

The British could not accept such a defeat and the wives and children of
the Grand Army were still captives of Akbar Khan the warlord who kicked
their royal asses and took their women and children.  From what I can
read, Akbar Khan was benevolent and did not harm his captives.  The
British returned later that fall, in force, paid off the Afghan in
charge of the British hostages, burned down a market place in Kabul, and
got the hell out to never return in force.

Years slowly passed.  Afghanistan remained tribal, segregated, did not
progress and remained in a medieval state suspended in time regardless
of intervention from either the outside or from within.  The book, The
Story of the Malakand Field Force by Winston Churchill is a fascinating
read.  Although written over a hundred years ago, the book portrays the
belligerent nature of the mountainous country now infested with Taliban
fighters. Churchill’s views captured what was before, then and
frightfully, now. 

Then there was Christmas Eve, 1979.  The Russians decided it was time to
revenge the Czar (not really) and establish a strategic communist
foothold amongst this collection of ethnic tribes called Afghanistan.
Their invasion was fast, furious and successful.  They too set up their
own puppet communist president. 

Things were more sophisticated then.  The Afghan population was almost
17 million and 90% were illiterate and 85% subsisted in the countryside
as farmers, herders, or small community dwellers.  This is an important
point.  That was 33 year ago.  I was a young 1st Lieutenant stationed in
Okinawa, Japan. Even back then I was told and understood the average
Afghan paid less heed to the edicts from Kabul than to the words of his
local mullah or tribal chief.  How much do you think has changed
culturally in only 33 years?  I am convinced, based on reading of
history and personal observations, after centuries of existence as the
crossroads of Asia, the innate strength of Afghanistan is not with its
urban population along the main roads, which takes the brunt of
invasions and occupations, but with its people in the hills who have
always remained attached to individual freedom and defiant of foreign
powers.  Once again, an invasion by a foreign military force as mighty
as the USSR unified the mountain tribal leaders that cut across ethnic,
geographic, and economic lines. The mujahideen or “soldiers of God”
stood between the Soviet might and domination of Afghanistan.  By the
way, there are worlds of difference between the Mujahideen and the
Taliban.  The Mujahideen were basically “good guys” or least a group of
fighters our CIA could work with.  The Taliban are just evil bastards
that need killing.  Even as a 1st Lieutenant, I remember the mujahideen
relied on the two oldest tactics of warfare: the raid and the ambush.
General Braddock endured a similar tactics back in July 1775 during our
French and Indian War.  Ten years later, in Feb 1989, the Soviets
withdrew.  It is recorded that the Soviet 40th Army lost 13,883 dead
during the war. In Kiev, Ukraine, I visited the monument and Internal
Flame lit in honor of their losses.  As with the British, the Soviet
installed Afghan communist president was shortly assassinated. 

So from my perspective, the score card is:

325 BC: Afghans vs. Greeks
1221 AD: Afghan vs. Mongols
1842 AD: Afghan vs. British
1979 AD: Afghan vs. Soviet Union
2001 AD: Afghan vs. United States and ISAF 

Afghan: 4 – World Superpowers: 0
Current conflict continues.  I have my own predictions. 

That is enough of my ramblings just prior to Thanksgiving.  There is
turkey be consumed and precious time to be spent to loved ones.

I wish you each a very Happy Thanksgiving.  You and I have much to be
thankful.  I am thankful I will leave this place one day.  I am afraid
the Afghanistan people I have gotten to know and work with these past
months have a difficult future ahead of them. 

Semper Fidelis,
Ken