Collaboration Tool Crazy

Digital Fix.jpg

Dazed and Confused -Hammer Blaming

Don’t blame tools for your confusion.   Companies are buying too many tools and trying to implement them thinking that tools will solve their problems.   This is nothing new.  The problem is exacerbated by software as a service driven applications available to everyone.  I heard this termed “Credit Card IT”  where individuals decide that they don’t like the tools their companies provide and they go buy their own.

The buzz today is “Digital” that is all I hear right now.    It is absolutely ridiculous for companies to continue down the path of buying new solutions without rationalizing what they currently have.   The IT spend is out of control in many companies and while they are trying to flatten their budget, they are only spending more.   The only way to offset this is to either lay off employees or “green” the landscape, meaning trade old folks for new younger ones that are cheaper.

With a total focus on tools vs people or actual business needs,  the tools keep getting bought, every one gets “all digital” and they wind up or will wind up with a digital spaghetti mess in the corner.

If you look at this “Elements of Modern Enterprise Collaboration”, it makes sense but most organizations only focus on the technologies portion.

 

Harsh Words for Dummies

Does this look cheap? Digi_Mktg_Map_Final_April_2015.gif

Came from https://www.gartner.com/marketing/.

Do you understand what the heck these things are?

Do you have any idea of how they relate to each other?

Do you have any idea of how much they really cost?

Do you have staff on site that isn’t trying to sell you something that honestly understands this?

Do you know how all of these are relevant for your business?

Do you have knowledge management practice of any kind?

Do you have enterprise architectures? (not solution but enterprise)

If you can’t answer these questions, you probably should stop buying tools.  Well.. stop buying tools anyway but…  They will wind up in the corner gathering electron dust right near your CRM system that no one cares about.

Stop Spending Money .. Now

Stop spending money… <– yes.. stop spending money.    The first thing that needs to happen is “stop the madness” in spending.

There is no perfect enterprise and their won’t be perfected enterprise collaboration but what is for sure, is that we can do better.    The world is really truly moving towards an application based enterprise.   This means that their will be an ecosystem of tools and capabilities in the enterprise.    There are patterns of collaboration and communication that have people working together through different applications under different contexts.   Just think of it as your smart phone.   The standard is the phone, the applications are put into the app store and you use what you need when you need it based on the needs of the moment.

This is really the way things are going.    When you see Microsoft SharePoint 2016, apps will be a big part of it.   Look at any of the tools coming out, all application focused.

Still, I am talking about the tools.  The real focus should be on the business.   The first three things to do are…  (if you are with a medium or large company)

Grab your best Enterprise Architect, if you don’t have one.. go get one immediately.

  1. Start with Vendor Management and IT security – Between these two groups, you can get a good start on what you have in the enterprise.
  2. Create an EA framework to understand the enterprise portfolio of tools.
  3. Start a formal Knowledge Management initiative.

The results of these activities will start to highlight the “best things you never knew you had.”

  1. The EA activities will highlight tools and spending, it will also help immediately lower your IT and business risk.
  2. The EA framework will provide a starting place to process enterprise capabilities, tools and find reuse.   Companies bleed out money because of a “lack of awareness.”
  3. A KM practice will get your organization focused on the business of knowledge.  Knowledge is your business.  It is that simple.

Of course there are successful companies that don’t have a formal knowledge management practice but chances are they have an informal knowledge management practice and it is part of their culture.

Contractors, Consultants and Experts OH MY!

If you are going to hire brilliant, expensive and knowledgeable consultants, ask to see their enterprise collaboration practices.    When I say ask, what I really mean is get a tour with real people not just partners and senior executives.   Senior leaders will talk a good talk but the truth is most of these companies including the big four don’t use their own collaboration tools well. They don’t generally speaking understand KM either.  The reason why is generally more associated with the business model and practices vs tools.  What I mean by that is large consulting firms don’t get partners in silo cost centers rich by sharing.

Bottom line here is we have to be honest about this whole thing.    Don’t spend the money on all the enterprise tools if you don’t care about the people aspect.  If leadership looks at staff as just a number and doesn’t truly believe in employee engagement, it will be a waste.

Too Much?

This isn’t personal.  Companies have made that clear with the sheer amount of transformation, cost cutting, layoffs, restructuring etc.   They still find dollars to re-tool or add tools to the organization.   This makes little sense.   They let experts in their business walk out the door in exchange for tools they don’t understand.   The stock prices go up with the stories of how they are embracing technology and transforming but the fact remains that most people spend over 6+ hours a day in Email.

Go figure..  rolling all those heads and still email is the most used and most common tool set in the enterprise.    Try shutting that down..

So, lets not blame the tools for our problems or for that matter, the amount of tools that you have in the enterprise that you are allowing to accumulate.

Focus on the business, work with people and engage with them using best practices of Knowledge Management and Enterprise Architecture.   Let the story be told so that you know what actions to take.  Then once you “get it” you can “get all digital” but for now..

Stay analog my friends..

Thanks @Wendy Woodson for helping us “keep it real”

 

 

 

 

Everything on Demand #Instant Gratification

Do you see me- (1)

The world is a place of amazing possibilities and more often than not, we have the ability today to do things we only dreamed of as kids.   Our children are growing up with the idea of “instant everything.”

If you want to purchase something and have it the same day or the next day, it is very possible today that you can order what you want online and get it that day or even that next hour.   Uber has become a household name beyond simplification for picking people up.   The reality is that instant gratification happens in multiple directions.   The people receiving a service, the people providing a service and the people that potentially own the franchise or organization that governs the service.

It is easy to do almost anything today and we the people are consuming these services in both micro transactions like in application purchases or services fees and in high quantities like Amazon.    Regardless of how we feel about these services, they are here in our world and changing the way we behave and do business.

Something that strikes me here is that a lot of these services have been around for a very long time, they just weren’t application based and they weren’t available to the general public.  One of the key factors here is accessibility in terms of affordability.   Limo drivers were around for many years, you would have required enough money to have them “be available” for you as an individual.   Take a look at the list below of “uberfied” businesses and think about who the target audience and accessibility was prior to application based availability.  (source: http://digitalintelligencetoday.com/the-uberfication-of-everything-master-list-of-uber-inspired-businesses/)

  • Uber for Liquor Delivery: SauceyDrizlyMinibar
  • Uber for Cannabis Delivery: EazeCanary
  • Uber for Errands: TaskRabbit
  • Uber for Odd Jobs: GladlyDo
  • Uber for Hotel Rooms: HotelTonight
  • Uber for Beauty Services: SwanStylebeeStyleSeatManicube
  • Uber for Home Cleaning: HandybookHomejoy
  • Uber for Car Repairs: YourMechanic
  • Uber for Babysitting: Urban Sitter
  • Uber for Pizza Delivery: Push for Pizza
  • Uber for Medical Equipment: Cohealo
  • Uber for Quiet Spaces: Breather
  • Uber for Vet (Home Visit): VetPronto
  • Uber for Dog Sitters: DogVacay
  • Uber for in-home Massage: MassageUnwindMeZeelSoothe
  • Uber for Doctor House-call: MedicastPager
  • Uber for Doctor (Remote) Consultation: Doctor on Demanddvisit
  • Uber for Courier Deliveries: DelivPostmatesShyp
  • Uber for locksmiths: KeyMeKeysDuplicated
  • Uber for Childcare/School Run: KangaDo
  • Uber for Dry Cleaning/Laundry: CleanlyDashlockerWashioFlycleaners
  • Uber for Hotel Dry Cleaning: Oliom
  • Uber for Mobile Repairs iCracked
  • Uber for Removals: Moveline
  • Uber for Lawnmowing: LawnstarterPlowz&Mowz
  • Uber for Restaurant Home Delivery: Seamless
  • Uber for Taxis: LyftSidecar: This ridesharing company, also based in the Bay Area, promises the “lowest prices on the road.” Available in 10 major U.S. cities, Sidecar aims to match riders with “everyday people” driving their personal cars. But unlike other services that rack up a fare as you go, Sidecar asks riders to enter their destination and offers a selection of pre-set prices, along with ETAs, which the rider can choose from. The company also offers a cheaper “Shared Rides” carpooling option like Lyft Line and Uber Pool.
  • Flywheel: Taxi companies are using apps like Flywheel to re-disrupt the disruptors. Currently in San Francisco, L.A. and Seattle, Flywheel allows users to order a taxi on-demand and have payments made automatically through the app. The ride likely won’t be as fancy as an Uber black car or as cheap as an UberX, but there’s no surge pricing and the company is brokering deals to allow scheduled rides to airports, places where ridesharing companies are typically non grata.
  • Curb: In August, Taxi Magic launched as the rebranded Curb, broadening their focus beyond providing licensed taxis on-demand to include fancier cars-for-hire (like Uber black cars) in some of the 60 markets where Taxi Magic was already working with fleets. Unlike most of the other app-based services, customers have the option of paying with cash rather than through the app. The refreshed company is also working on launching pre-scheduled rides, to the airport and beyond.
  • HailoAnother e-hail company that works with licensed cabs, Hailo is focused on the European market, having launched in London in 2011. (betrayed by their slogan, “the black cab app.”) In October, the company announced it would be closing operations in U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Boston, shifting their eye to growth in Asia and, perhaps, re-entering the U.S. market in a few years. In September, the company launched an innovative feature that allows users to pay for the bill in a street-hailed taxi through the app.
  • SummonThe rebranded and overhauled InstaCab, Summon is an on-demand service that has a hybrid approach, offering both taxi e-hails and cheaper peer-to-peer “personal rides” with a no-surge-price promise. Summon is currently available only in the Bay Area, but the company said earlier this year they plan to expand to L.A., Boston and New York. The startup offers pre-scheduled rides through their Summon Ahead program, including fixed-rate rides to surrounding airports, with a journey to San Francisco’s SFO costing a mere $35.
  • RubyRide: Based in Phoenix, Ariz., and founded in 2013, RubyRide is a fledgling subscription-based startup that bills itself less as a taxi replacement and more as a replacement for owning a car. A basic plan that allows unlimited pre-scheduled pickups and drop-offs within certain “zones” like Downtown Phoenix costs $299 per month. The company offers limited on-demand service but plans to expand their options—including replacing rides to and from the dry cleaners, say, with delivering members’ dry cleaning—as they grow.
  • Shuddle: Dubbed “Uber for kids,” this San Francisco startup positions itself as an app for lightening Mom’s load. Parents can pre-book rides to take kids (who aren’t old enough to drive themselves) to sports practice or school. With safety the obvious concern, the company institutes layers of checks beyond thoroughly screening employees: drivers are given passwords they have to use before picking up kids; parents are given photos of the drivers and cars and can monitor the trip through their app. Drivers must have their own kids or have worked with kids. The company’s first 100 drivers, which they call “caregivers,” are all female.  (SHUTDOWN)
  • Uber for Home Maintenance RatedPeopleHouseCallRedBeacon
  • Uber for Home Decoration: PaintZen
  • Uber for Home Deliveries: AnyvanDoormanInstacartUberRUSH
  • Uber for Dog Walking: WortheeSwiftoUrban LeashTrottr
  • Uber for Private Jets: BlackJet
  • Uber for City Parking: ParkingPandaMonkeyParkingSpotHero
  • Uber for Language Tuition: Cambli
  • Uber for Storage [Valet]: CaddyMakeSafeBoxbee
  • Uber for Bodyguards: Bannerman
  • Uber for Tow Service: Honk

 

Build Your Own, Be Your Own, Do Your Own

Another aspect of this on-demand concept is that we can do things on our own now more than ever.  The ability to build things, learn and do are in our hands.   Justin Bieber came from YouTube and many others emerged from everywhere.   In fact, today you can create your own music or raps right from an application.  I did one for you guys in 3 minutes called “Instant Gratification

The Struggle

Making things “easy” is why different businesses exist in the first place.   Think about it.  You do something and you are trading it with someone else that does something else so that you don’t have to do it.   I believe this gets lost in concept.   Now we are making things easy that shouldn’t be.  We are setting expectations for our children that everything is “instant” and “on demand.”     At this moment as I write,  we can’t get fat or fit in a day.  There are natural mechanisms that are intertwined with our humanity.   I have to ask,  when should we make certain things more difficult as opposed to easier.

The instant mentality resides in our corporate world today.  If something goes wrong we want immediate results to resolve the problem.  Even if nature doesn’t allow for instant results.    I suppose the Japanese would want Fukushima to be resolved immediately, but there is no app for that.   A recent story in the Japanese news talks about revival of some business in that area .   We should be cautious and temper our desires for easy, fast and instant.

Another aspect of this is the immediacy of a rise and fall in businesses.   The tale of Theranos comes to mind as Elizabeth Holmes became an instant billionaire and now she is becoming an instant example of how fast is too fast.

An Idea

What if we consider a dialogue on waiting.   In other words,  consider and focus on long term strategies with long term goals and long term considerations.    The need for immediacy is clearly important as well but not for everything.   I enjoy going to an online store and getting my shoes the next day.   At the same time, when I go to the doctors office, I don’t want to be placed on a conveyor belt and automatically diagnosed by the doctors mobile application.  Today you can be diagnosed remotely without even being touched.  That being said, my last doctor spent more time tooling around on his IPhone vs asking me questions.   I asked if I should pay him or WebMD.

We must consider that easy doesn’t always mean electronically delivered and lacking personal touch.   We should also consider that “on demand” should be tempered with “the right response”   To give the best response possible, it still takes critical thinking and human intervention.   We must strive towards balance as we digitally engage in that we should not digitally decouple.

 

 

 

 

The People in the Middle #KM leadership

Congratulations! You just purchased a new social tool for your organization.

software-analysisIt only cost your company a few bucks to get licenses and there are very little infrastructure costs associated.  In only a few short months, your teams will break down silos faster than you could ever have imagined.

  1. Software
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Maintenance including Service Level Agreement
  4. Corporate Communications and Marketing

Ready… Set… Go…!    Click here pacman for result 

A social platform without community management is like a party without a host.   No one has any idea what the heck is going on and / or what to do.  They show up, see that everyone is confused and leave.

Many organizational leaders simply don’t know what they are buying and what it takes to make this successful.   When they are told what it will really take, they don’t want to spend the money they come to consider as “additional.”   The only reason why they consider it as an extra cost is due to poor understanding of the social space and poor planning for implementation, support, and on-going day to day operations.

They believe  “Not only will you get better collaboration, we will throw in cost savings, 100% ROI and you ..yes you … will no longer need email”!  As soon as a “TOOL” is purchased for the company it will be … “SOCIAL.”

Wait..what?…Where is the focus on the people???

-making sense-people

Story from the Trenches 

This story / discussion comes from a colleague Wendy Woodson @iaqtworld 

I was recently involved in a conversation related to this. I was sharing an image created to help the conversation. Nothing complicated.

One of the first comments I received was “you need to remove the people from the center of the image, it isn’t important and it makes it busy.” This is not the first time I have heard/seen this. All too often the people are left out of the equation.

I responded with that is the problem today. People are considered insignificant and left out until it’s too late. Leaders sit around wondering what happened, why aren’t they using/doing what we want?

I went on to explain it is important that the people are not only included but are the center or focus of it all. People are essential to it all. Remove them and there is nothing. No one to use the tools or to follow the process. Without them, who will manage the content who will use the systems? People are the nuclei and everything, we as knowledge managers do, is to provide benefit to them and the community they create. – WW

-making sense-

People in the Middle

This is very simple. Social media tools that are used for personal purposes are very different than tools used for a social intranet or social business.  Beyond this social internal and social external for business use is also very different.   The common thread is context and purpose.   If people are in the middle and they are the center based the platforms are used more.  Platform use does not by itself equal value.   This is very important to understand.   A page hit doesn’t mean anything.   Every aspect of the human interaction has a specific context and it will change over time.  That is why the community management aspect is so important.

Community

5042953763_6ab5114e9b_z

Community management is a key critical function for a healthy social network.  Being connected can mean the difference between a new sale and a missed opportunity.  It can be a channel for innovation, information, observation, awareness and it can also be detrimental.    Placing social systems out in the wild without expertise is akin to running with scissors.

Summary

Whether you are building a social channel for your sales force,  a place for your whole company to meet at the water cooler, or simply enabling your work force to have additional channels for communication and collaboration, people need to be the central focus.   One thing is for certain as it stands today,  tools without people will not build, produce, sell, create, innovate, enable or protect your company.   The case for a social platform must include active community management, facilitation, leadership and communication.

 

 

 

 

Boundary People #KM Engagement

Our Town

A few weeks ago,  I had a friend visit my office.  As we were walking the halls of the building and passing the various business areas, I waved and said “hello” to the people I know.   My friend said “oh, you must be the Mayor.”   If anyone were truly the Mayor it would most likely be my Architect.

I wonder if it is still true in most organizations today that we can identify those people that we call “Mayor” or if this is something that is changing dramatically due to the global workforce or virtual teams.

For today, at least where I work, it is like a small town with the various town folk representing their areas of business.   I think of this as work-town.

The Boundary People

Today, I considered looking at my network in the context of multiple towns.   I considered all those folks that I know about but generally don’t interact with and the opportunities that they represent.

Socilab   LinkedIn Social Network Visualization  Analysis  and Education

I used the Socilab LinkedIn network analysis tool located here 

Here is another view ..

12me LinkedIn Social Network Visualization  Analysis  and Education

It looks like I may have to get out more..

The  tool only allows for 500 people, so this is a sample size but I think it is a good representation of my connections.

It would be interesting to have this in the office for all of our folks to see individually.  I am well aware that tools exist for this but we would have to consider the practical implications for people.  http://www.kstoolkit.org/Social+Network+Analysis

436285097_5c39aeeb74

Basically,  I have my work-town relationships, my hometown relationships, my current town relationships and some that live between the hometown and the work-town.

Looking at the “social network” as informed by a technical system would not be enough to apply the personal context of what the relationships mean to me in context.    This aside,  there is an opportunity to measure operational effectiveness or “connectedness” in some context through looking at the boundaries.

Why do they (boundary people) exist at the edge of my network?

What town are they in?

Where are they relative to me and in what context do we have a relationship?

Relationships are “for purpose” and often times, this is represented as a negative but I see it as a positive.  For example,  I enjoy getting a cup of coffee in the cafeteria in the morning.  I see Toni every morning and share a brief exchange with her.  I enjoy that relationship and the coffee.   If the coffee were not there, I honestly don’t know how often I would simply find myself wandering down there.  That being said, I often walk away from the cafeteria with a lot more than just coffee.

Mindful Boundary Person Engagement

In life you’ll realize there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you, and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you. – unknown

Social tools seek to introduce technical capabilities to address these boundaries.   LinkedIn now shows you that someone is having a birthday or an event change that you can see.  This presents the opportunity to reach out to that person living at the edge of the network or town.   This kind of capability generally doesn’t exist in the workplace and even if tools like Jive are in place for this kind of notification, work-town engagement is much different and results would be heavily impacted by work-town culture.

The intent here is to work on our level of awareness without the benefit of these social tools in our network.

I must admit that I do use tools though..   I use “The Brain” Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 10.52.13 AM

The process I use .. is

Person –> Context—>Date—> Organization—>Group—>Applications—>Events

It isn’t a perfect system but it allows me to determine who I know and in what context I know them beyond a relationship in a CRM tool.    I can see many to many relationships.. but I digress.

The point is to understand the boundaries and find ways to turn them into a relationship of deeper meaning or better context.   The benefits are consistent with good community management.   In my case, it is data about a person converting to dialogue with a person.. and gaining the opportunities to share and grow with new relationships.

Who lives in your town?

Maybe you could get out and meet up with some of your boundary people?

Thoughts?

More information on networks and connectedness can be found here https://netmap.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/how-to-get-strategic-insights-from-net-map/

 

 

 

 

 

Working Out Loud: Speak to the Heart and Mind (Part 4 of 5)

Show up whenever possible. (Part 1)
Ask to speak with senior leaders; chances are they will see you. (Part 2)
Advocate for yourself and others. (Part 3)
Speak to the heart and mind. (Part 4 You are here)
Have faith and courage.

Living a Life of Legacy

We are living on a spinning rock full of magma destined to be consumed by a ball of fire in the form of an extinguished star. It is pretty easy to question the purpose of our existence.  Some look to religion, others to philosophy.  Either way, there is some form of rationalization on why we are here. When I turn on the news I mostly find a cold world full of consistent tragedy. It is 2015, and as a child I dreamed of a world with flying cars, robots, and peace.

I thought my generation was so intermixed and informed that we would simply starve out racism, sexism, and challenge all that was wrong with the world.  I was looking for something big but I have come to believe that I should be looking for something small.  This post is about speaking to the heart and mind because you can speak to one or the other; however, we can communicate our message best if we seek to address both with purpose and passion.  

A lot of people believe that they have to wait to be great.  They spend years building wealth and working hard to achieve this ultimate dream of having success and security.   Born from this sense of security and wealth, they can now live a “life of legacy” where they can go and do good things and be charitable.  They can find the kindness in their hearts that they had to set aside to be good at being tough.  Being tough and strong is a characteristic associated with good leadership.   Rarely do you hear of leaders being weak and wimpy.   It is always said that the “strong survive” and that is how our world works.   In business or war ironically, we see and hear similar practices around strength.  I believe there are forces that are underestimated in our world.  There are both strong and weak forces and to focus on strength and toughness holistically would be missing the benefits of these other factors.  People can be made to do something by force and people can be led to do something by inspiration.  It is part of our nature, but either way the same rules don’t always apply.   

With this in mind, these new philanthropists believe they can be what they want with no person to control them as they did their time and generated the income needed to find security and success.   As I am speaking generally, I recognize that a lot of people “do good things” but more often than not in my experience it doesn’t seem to be enough for them to recognize how good their daily acts really are.  The point is that if you want to live a life of legacy, there is no reason to wait to do something that your heart is calling for.  Right now is a good time and it starts with behavior over events.

Speaking to the Heart

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. (Nelson Mandela)  

The intent of this quote was to address people in their mother tongue as a sign of respect and understanding.   This quote can go much further than intended in that language is complicated.  Even when I speak or write in English, it is when I find common connections and words that that seem to touch something inside that goes beyond logic is when I am most compelling.

Watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeWks6cgJ-k  it is only two minutes. The first time I saw this it came from  Dr. Madelyn Blair on storytelling.  

It is the experience or feeling of something great and compelling that inspires thought or action.  It touches on a memory or something inside of us that helps us “get it.”  We don’t need to stand on a pulpit or talk from a mountain to find this voice. More often it comes from something simple like a Post It note, a whisper, a kind word or simply diverting attention from a computer screen or phone to look up at someone and listen.  

In order to live a life of legacy everyday, it seems that we should practice working out loud. As life inspires us, we have an opportunity to take our thoughts and snippets of wisdom and do something with it to help others.    One personal example comes from my very good friend and mentor, Mr. Ron Batdorf.    Ron exemplifies working out loud and speaking to the heart and mind.   He works hard and faces adversity and he never quits.   He is soft spoken and thoughtful, and he shows up when called and he practices leading through small kind acts.   I have seen the impact of his good work in many forms, but I also benefit from his friendship and wisdom almost every day.  I hope he doesn’t mind that I share a note here from him.

“Howie, I have found that Rabbi Heschel has the same understanding of dialectic patterns as St. Paul (Sal) had.  See below a excerpt from the website: https://theshalomcenter.org/node/88   Interesting that this is foundational to both the Christian and Jewish Faiths.  Just wondered if you know of Rabbi Heschel’s Theology?  Hope all is well and that the new owners understand your value to them.  It seems that unless we are directly into the processes of an organization our purpose is diminished.  I guess it gets back to concepts that if not effecting processes are not part of the value to an organization.  Integration of knowledge can be seen this way.  I have started looking at Multi-agent systems and the processes of developing a “Learning agent”.  I think there is insight in that design that can be developed into a KM format for any organization.  Just a thought.

Shalom to you and your family Howie.

Ron

PARADOX AND POLARITY

A necessary condition affecting human beliefs in philosophy and religion is the paradox. The source of their paradoxical character has its origin in the essential polarity of human being.

To ignore the paradox is to miss the truth.

Jewish thinking and living can only be adequately understood in terms of a dialectic pattern, containing opposite or contrasted properties. As in a magnet, the ends of which have opposite magnetic qualities, these terms are opposite to one another and exemplify a polarity which lies at the very heart of Judaism, the polarity of ideas and events, of mitzvah and sin, of kavvanah and deed, of regularity and spontaneity, of uniformity and individuality, of halakhah and agadah, of law and inwardness, of love and fear, of understanding and obedience, of joy and discipline, of the good and the evil drive, of time and eternity, of this world and the world to come, of revelation and response, of insight and information, of empathy and self-expression, of creed and faith, of the word and that which is beyond words, of man’s quest for God and God in search of man. Even God’s relation to the world is characterized by the polarity of justice and mercy, providence and concealment, the promise of reward and the demand to serve Him for His sake. Taken abstractedly, all these terms seem to be mutually exclusive, yet in actual rising they involve each other; the separation of the two is fatal to both.

Since each of the two principles moves in the opposite direction, equilibrium can only be maintained if both are of equal force. But such a condition is rarely attained. Polarity is an essential trait of all things. Tension, contrast, and contradiction characterize all of reality.

However, there is a polarity in everything, except God. For all tension ends in God. He is beyond all dichotomies.”

Failure comes easy

It is easy to fail.  It is easy to quit and say that you can’t do something.  It is easy to allow someone else to impact your thinking.   Everyone has a boss and everyone is influenced by someone.   Very few people in the world are an island to themselves.  I would be willing to bet that even those who live alone are troubled by their own duality.

People will tell you that you can’t do something and if you let them, they will hold you back.  Dreams could be shattered easily.   Again, this is a tough world and we all face adversity. There isn’t a person on this planet that isn’t faced with challenges.   The question is when given the choice, what will you choose to do?   We are all destined for an ending and that is part of life, we are born and we live and we die.   Sometimes, I think we forget about the dying part or on the other end of the spectrum we focus too much on dying.   Regardless, we still have choices and opportunities.  We can choose to get up when we fail and we can choose to share our failures along with our success.  In fact, if we shared more of our failures we might give others an opportunity to learn from these and they could achieve their dreams or desired outcome that much faster.  (See blog on learning from failures)

Speaking to the Mind

Our humanity often gets in the way of logic.   There are multiple types of intelligence, speaking to the mind or logical aspect of ourselves limits our ability.  That being said, logic is important and needed as if we were running around simply making emotional decisions all the time, what would the world look like?  War, famine, divorce, disease, power hungry people, I apologize as I digress.  We need to use math, analytics, and science to address universal truth.   Things make sense often because there is logic behind them not because they “feel good” and this is the part of the story of working out loud.  

In Practice

As I have written, I like to consider if I were reading these words, how would I use them?   How could I find benefit in my daily life?  How could I find benefit at work?  We spend a lot of our time at work or working, or so it seems, at least in the US.  I would hope that it is for something beyond simply punching a card and getting a paycheck to be a cog in the great corporate machine.   Here are a few things I do to work out loud while speaking to the heart and mind:

  1. Write a narrative:  For everything I do, there is a story,  I spend some time with my team writing a short narrative of what we are doing and why.  I also look to identify the outcome of the work and measure it.    It is normally no more than 2 pages and it is accessible to everyone in the organization.
  2. Meetup: I meet with people often and I listen to their stories.  I look to find common bonds and/or opportunities to share something I know or learn from them.  
  3. Advocate:  As I have written in past blogs, I advocate for others and myself, but this comes in the form of both written and oral history.
  4. I write: I try to write at least once a week for myself and I look at this as an opportunity to learn and share.
  5. Consider my purpose:  I don’t know why people get to stay or go.  I don’t know why we wind up where we are and why fate has us here.   I believe that I have purpose and when I don’t know what it is in the big design, I consider the small things.    When I was a baby I came down with the flu.  We were scheduled to fly to Miami to see our family in Florida.  My parents chose to cancel our flight and I can tell you that my father is a person who would take high consideration to make this choice.   The plane crashed and everyone on board died.   Maybe in another universe I was on that plane but in this one, I am here and I have things to do.   I consider my purpose often and work hard to remind myself that today is a gift and not a promise.  

In practice, it is the small acts that matter. Consider that working out loud is part of this practice and it is just like exercise.   We know that it is healthy to do all the time, and we have no need to wait until the day that we have more time to do it.

Working Out Loud: Advocate (Part 3 of 5)

Howie Advocate

Show up whenever possible. (Part 1)
Ask to speak with senior leaders; chances are they will see you. (Part 2)
Advocate for yourself and others. (YOU ARE HERE PART 3)
Speak to the heart and mind.
Have faith and courage.

Part 3 “Advocate”

Politicians are often heard touting about themselves in order to prove their value. In recent times, we have seen an interest in people like Donald Trump and he is sure making a case for himself. If anything, you know his name and you are aware that he has made a lot of money in business. Consider that he has made a career of raising awareness of his brand. In our world, a person that is perceived as a “nobody” has to become a “somebody” or wind up as “anybody.”

A lot of us aren’t politicians or branding experts and when I walk into a room, people generally don’t know who I am. I really don’t like to write about myself and if someone asked me to do it a few years ago, it would have felt that it was more like a chore than a pleasurable event. What I have learned is that when I started thinking about and writing about people that I appreciate, there was a positive impact on me. It was much easier for me to see what others have done. I was able to learn more about myself in the process and as a result of my writing about them, people learned something about me. It has become part of my life at home and in business to advocate for others given the opportunity. I have had the benefit and honor of others advocating for me as well. It feels good to have someone help you but as you may know, it feels great to help others and learn through the process.

Working Out Loud and Raising Awareness

What is that story of you? In order to help others and advocate for yourself, it is important to start practicing. There are many ways to start and I am sharing, some of the things I do that have consistently worked for me.

  1. One of the first things you can do that is fairly easy and productive is to write three types of resumes. I will have a follow up blog about writing resumes and more details on what each type looks like, but for this blog, what you need to understand is that going through the process of thinking about your history is helpful and knowing your own accomplishments is important.
    1. Super type – This is the short history of nearly everything about me.
    2. Referral – This is used for customization when someone asks, “Did you ever…?”
    3. General – This is what the public sees on LinkedIn or other places that have information about me.
  2. Make a presentation about yourself and share it with people who know you. If you want some examples, let me know and I will share or send them to you.
  3. Start a blog or write for someone else. You can use many services http://topsitesblog.com/blog-websites/ or you can write on a friend’s blog as a guest writer. You can also write on LinkedIn.
  4. Write recommendations for others both inside and outside your organization. When someone does something for me at work, I will write his or her leadership about it. I write constructive thank you notes to people outside of work as well. It is important to recognize and reflect how people have a positive impact on your life. I have written about people who are living and people who have passed away as well “Remember Arden
  5. I also work to practice what I would call “respectful connections” where I ask people if it ok to advocate for them. There are people for one reason or another who don’t want anyone to know too much about them. I know a few Intel guys who don’t go on any social media or use email or phones (just kidding on the phones). They like to keep a low profile and I respect that.

If you have any questions or comments, post them. If you would like some examples of anything I brought up here, let me know and I will be happy to send them.

Part 4.. Speak to the heart and mind

Nelson Mandela said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Lesson From the Pope

Today Pope Francis spoke about trust and our interconnectedness.  He essentially said that the more we focus on ourselves as individuals, the more we are lost and alone.   I believe that is true as well.   We have lost something of ourselves in our social media.   When I was a child,  I knew the names of the people who owned local stores and they knew me.    We don’t talk to each other, we broadcast and in that mode of communication, we are losing our humanity.    It is very difficult to build trust today.   It is difficult to read and listen to each other because we are overwhelmed with information.   It is difficult to know which information is true or false and we get so much information that it disables us.

We are so connected that we are disconnected.  It is that simple.   The lesson that I took from the Pope during this visit was to look up over the phone, the tablet, the laptop, the book, the newspaper or whatever it is that has us distracted and find ways to be a connector.

Just one day before, Pope Francis was late on his trip to Philadelphia, we had the news on in the background and I was pouring a cup of coffee.   The Pope was stepping off the airplane and into his car for his drive over to Philly.   I heard one of the commentators ask why the car was stopping.   I looked up and walked towards the television to see what was happening.  The Pope had stopped his car and gotten out, he walked over to a boy in a wheelchair, he leaned over and he kissed his head.  He looked up and held the hands of the boys mother; she was full of tears and saying, “Thank you, thank you.”  I immediately started to tear up in appreciation for the true kindness and totality of this act.   The world was literally waiting for him (Pope Francis) but no one at that moment was more important to him over this family.    For the boy, maybe nothing, for the parents it is hope.   It is this recognition that we must have hope and that we must build trust and relationships beyond some social network construct.   We must practice good listening and empathy over broadcasting.  We must become “connectors.”

I recently read, Synchronicity by Joseph Jaworski. This book is 20 years old, but speaks of both collective intelligence and our interconnectedness.  Awareness and belief that we are all connected is nothing new.  It is this knowledge that fundamentally drives us to a desired outcome of connectedness.  The challenge that we have is in our substitution of technologies as a replacement or placeholder for our actual human interaction.  The Pope demonstrated in his actions the other day his keen awareness of the spaces between.  It is no coincidence that change management starts with “awareness”

This brings me to the thinking about what I can actually do about this challenge.    I have to ask what being connected means?  I have to think about actions and activities that will help me be more connected but moreover, have better awareness.  I believe we must practice building trust by getting past the social network and building relationships with hand shakes and if you know me… hugs every so often.    To what end do we practice these behaviors and what do we aim to achieve? I think Joe Jaworski thought about this when he met with the physicist David Bohm.   They had a conversation around the connected universe, but Bohm boiled it down in some practical thinking as follows:

Dialogue: Collective Thinking and Listening

“From time to time, (the) tribe (gathered) in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked, apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader and everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more ­ the older ones ­ but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed. Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do because they understood each other so well. They could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.” -David Bohm, “On Dialogue”.

Finally Peter Marino corporate trainer wrote on active listening… from Madelyn Burley-Allen and Michael Nichols respectively.

  • Taking in information from speakers, other people, or ourselves, while remaining nonjudgmental and empathetic.
  • Acknowledging the talker in a way that invites the communication to continue.
  • Providing limited, but encouraging input to the talker’s response, carrying the person’s idea one step forward.
    Listening is the art by which we use empathy to reach across the space between us. Genuine listening means suspending memory, desire and judgment, and for a few moments, at least, existing for the other person.

Summary

Religious or not, we can learn something from the actions of Pope Francis and this is coming from a Jewish kid from Co-op City in the Bronx.   We can work on a daily basis to find the space between and make ourselves aware in order to connect with others on a deeper level.  These connections will lend themselves to a more collective intelligence,  if we focus on people through our humanity and not through the lens of our IOS devices.