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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Diana Butler-Bass at the Trinity Cathedral

I had the good fortune to to be invited to capture a day long workshop by Diana Butler-Bass, author of Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming Itself". The event was sponsored by the Presbytery of Western Reserve and held at Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Cleveland. Being in this amazing Cathedral was great experience - massive columns, stone statuary and magnificent stained glass. As I set up my boards against this majestic backdrop, I kind of chuckled knowing that my final product would be made of markers, paper and chalk.

Diana was a great speaker and held the audience the whole day. I was particularly impressed, by the model she outlined as a tool for churches and I would anyone, to look at who they are. It centered around:

Practice (doing)
Tradition (remembering)
Tradition (knowing)

To read more on Diana, get her book on Amazon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quote: Don't Let Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good!

I like this quote...given all that we have tried to attain over the past decade.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tsunamis, Hurricanes, and Economic Downturns

I was recently part of an Appreciative Inquiry Summit for local Cleveland Manufacturing as a staff member of WIRE-Net. Manufacturing has taken multiple hits over the years in Cleveland, Ohio and the recent downturn has made its mark. Lay-offs and closings are making headlines with equal regularity to other areas of the country. Yet, manufacturing is still the backbone of our nation. When a major manufacturing company announces cutbacks it has its effect on all of us. While newer "economies" are taking their place among manufacturing sectors, manufacturing still remains.

The economic situation we are in today was likened by many speakers at the Summit to the relatively recent tsunami in Phuket and hurricane Katrina. And again echoed by many as a time to drop pretense and come together for the benefit of all.

I believe there is a lot to learn for unlikely subject like economic downturns and natural disasters. Two great articles I found since the summit I have linked to this post

Have we learned our lesson from Rita and Katrina

What we learned from Katrina

So what can we learn from tsunamis and hurricanes that companies can apply to our economic downturn?

Preposition what you need - why is Southwest Airlines running in the black? They locked in fuel rates early anticipating the need. It's not too late to preposition today.

Create law and order in advance - how will you manage what you can manage when handling the other things that are out of our control. We can't change the economy, but we can control what we do in it.

Help those who need it most - we are all in this together and need each other in good times and bad.

Set up a command center - centralize communication and decisions to focus on problem solving

Keep leaders on alert status - it took former President Bush four days to visit the devastation of Katrina and visited before hurricane Rita hit the shores, and we all know the outcome between the two.

What can we do to handle our tough situation? I welcome your comments.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Clip Art for Presentations and Training Material

I finally figured out how to get clip art out online and relatively easy to purchase. You can now find my CD of 120 clipart characters for presentations and training materials on it easy to order and receive by mail. Click here to go the site.

If you are interested in seeing PDF samples of some of the images contact me at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Out Of the Box?

Getting out of the box can make quite a few people uncomfortable. For many, who haven't typically been out of their box, it causes them to draw back instead of move out. I have worked with many people who have an aversion to creativity and creative solutions for this very reason. I have found four ways to move them softly, yet get them into a newer way of thinking and applying their energy:

Learn about the unusual or different in your industry or area of expertise - Who is doing things differently and making a difference as a result. Caution: this is not to copy ("We're going to do the Company X thing"), but to decompose principles, ideas, and data and custom use to create your own difference. This is best practices with a twist.

Research companies outside your industry or area of expertise - A good example was in a presentation I attended by Kevin Kelly of Ideo: Why would ER doctors study Nascar Pit Crews? Because their share some common areas and have addressed them differently, namely short time frames, high value subjects and life and death.

Study Systems outside of any industry - The best are natural systems. Why? They're lean, mean (and green) and have worked for a quite some time. They are self repairing and sustaining and they cooperate. One of the best examples is a case I outlined in my post for October 2007 about an award winning shower head.

Lastly, utilize metaphor, symbol and analogy - To think different think of your issue as something different. It allows both the good and the bad to be identified without pointing fingers and laying blame allowing you to move past conflict to new solutions.

Do you have any other methods or means by which to move the hesitant client? Let me know.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Managing Our Humanness

If we have belly buttons, we are human. Being human we are endowed with a host of really great capabilities – really good things. These capabilities can create right thinking and right acting, however we can right think and right act for all the wrong reasons. It has been said that no one looks into the crib of their newborn child and says. “How can I screw up this kid’s life?” Nonetheless, our good intentions can foster something other than good results because we have belly buttons – because we are human. We are not perfect we can only balance what we have for the best possible outcome. Consider these ways in which to manage our humanness when dealing with an issue.

Overcome the belly button syndrome (when enough is enough)

Whether we actually have distinct brain levels, we do know that the brain functions in three ways. These three ways make up the Triune Brain. The Triune brain consists of:

  • The reptilian brain - am I safe, comfortable and are the basic needs to sustain my life available (food, water, shelter)?
  • The mammalian brain – am I loved, cared for, respected and recognized as an individual and as part of a group?
  • The primate brain –can I think my through new situations based on what I know and my ability to reform information and knowledge in such a way to adapt to the new situation?

The difficulty we run into being belly button based, is when we get stuck in any one of these functions and begin to examine our belly buttons. We do too much in one area to the detriment of the others and to the issue at hand. The ways and ramifications of stuckness in these areas get us stuck in.

Concerns for our safety and survival (reptilian brain)

The most common reference heard lately regarding this area is called the “amygdala hijack”. Deep in our brain lies the amygdala which when activated through fear or anger focuses our brain on the danger at hand and mobilizes the rest our functions for the purpose of safety. To do so, it shuts down the other functions of the brain. We know longer feel (mammalian) or think logically (primate) which keep us from functioning as fully human. While this had a very valuable function when physical survival (eat or be eaten) was our primary concern and still has an important function during physical threats (robbery, physical harm, natural disasters). It does, however, far less for us in perceived threats such as:

  • Potential job loss or demotion
  • Organizational change
  • Lack of recognition or appreciation
  • An offhanded remark or lack of response from others
  • Differences in communication (learning styles, ethnic and cultural differences)
  • Role and gender differences

Concerns for our personhood

We all have the need to be loved and be recognized. People deprived of such exposure, in the extreme, have severe mental and physical difficulties the results of which can handicap them for life. While all of us don’t get all the love and attention we want, on the whole we get all we need. It is human to want to transcend our humanness and be something greater. Finish on time and under budget, to stand above the rest is a vision that propels us into long hours and dreams of promotion, recognition and wealth. But we do have belly buttons – we are human and are finite. While there are times we may be able to reach our lofty goals, as humans we can mostly do the best until we can do better.

Embrace your belly button (when good enough is enough for now)

We can only work with what we have and though we have a lot, we are not unlimited. Analysis paralysis happens when we avoid movement because we don’t have all the information and "feel” ready. This may stem from the old notion of “get it right the first time” and while in our past when plans and results had a shelf life of more than a 90 day planning cycle this may have been possible. Today, it is not. Despite our desire and efforts to get it right the first time and hit the target at the bulls eye, today the target moves, the bulls eye is not always at the center and we often can’t wait until all the darts are in our hands. We see it every day:

  • Jobs we have targeted are frozen due to a downturn in the market
  • Regulations change, forcing unwanted interruptions in our service and product delivery
  • New competition ignites a cost war and a once well held position of product and service quality comes under question
  • A rise in benefit costs forces a change in the workforce development and planning

How can we possibly be right? The better solution is to accept as humans, in a dynamic, global market, we will never be perfect, data will not always be complete and tools may not always be at the ready. Accepting this we can then do with what we have and complete our best efforts at a healthy cycle of development. The effectiveness of the turnkey answer is diminishing. So is the one time solution. In its place we need to create multiple cycles of development and delivery adjusting along the way through subsequent low cost, quick cycles. It all started with Micro Soft and Apple. The good artist ships knowing that no work of art is complete. It is only done for now. Embrace you belly button. Accept your humanness. Do the best you can for now. Move on.