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Showing posts from November, 2004
Sideways

As a wine enthusiast, I was greatly looking forward to the new film Sideways from director Alexander (About Schmidt)Payne, featuring a roadtrip in California wine country. I was not disappointed. Sideways feels so real and is so involving that when the final scene came I yelled "No!" And I wasn't alone. You could tell that the others in the audience wanted this movie to keep going.

As in one of his previous films "About Schmidt," director Payne introduces us to an unlikely hero. Myles is a divorced, depressed, wine-loving near-alcoholic failed-novelist turned English teacher (memorably played by Paul Giamatti) who is slowly sliding down the bleak side of middle age. This poor schlubb is treating his old college buddy, a failed Hollywood actor (in a star-turn performance by Thomas Haden Church), to a week-long excursion into wine country before his friend's impending marriage-of-convenience.

As in all such road movies, their trip takes some fa…
Thanksgiving

Today, in the United States, we celebrate an annual holiday called Thanksgiving Day.

I guess it's one of those curious American holidays that has both secular and religious dimensions, but lately it's more a commercial bonanza for turkey growers and retailers.

On the spiritual side, Thanksgiving is a day to remember that we have much to be thankful for. We have Life. Liberty. Choices. Freedom.

So in that spirit of gratefulness, I offer the following prayer:

Today, as you enjoy your meal with family and friends,
don't forget those who are less fortunate...
- those who are missing a loved one
- those who may not have a meal

And be sure to give thanks to the One Above who makes all things new and all things possible.

May we all have a blessed day.


Improving organizational performance

Someone recently asked (at an online discussion group that I belong to) what one skill could be taught to workers that would improve organizational performance. Though a broad question, it intrigued enough of us that a lot of good responses came tumbling in, including learning, listening, communicating, and many others.

Thinking about this question, it occured to me that organizations, regardless of their diverse purposes, all have one thing in common: they exist to serve somebody, some customer (or client). Therefore, they all need members to be skilled in service delivery.

If you break "service delivery" down into its component skills, you get a number of skill areas including job skills, process management & improvement, problem solving, teamwork, and customer service.

Someone replied: "At my shop, the person soldering chips on fiberglass printed circuit boards for delivery to the warehouse probably his little or no use for…
National Treasure

Did you read the bestseller The Da Vinci Code and think, That will be a great movie some day? Well, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has beaten director Ron Howard to the punch. The new smash hit National Treasure is that movie!

Though I enjoyed it, I was less than satisfied by the film as an entertainment. Three complaints:

1.Often quirky actor Nicolas Cage seemed somewhat restrained in his performance.

2.The usual level of mayhem expected in a Jerry Bruckheimer film (e.g. Con Air) seemed subdued by the Disney influence. The villain, played by excellent British actor Sean Bean, was no Cyrus the Virus.

3.And the overall long running time contributed to a feeling of boredom at times.

Having said the above, I must say that actress Diane Kruger is gorgeous. I could watch her all night.

Movin Out

As a birthday present, we took my brother to a performance of Movin Out yesterday afternoon in NYC. Can a play work and not work at the same time and be a success? Apparently it can and Movin Out proves it.

There are two shows in one, going on simultaneously, with little relation between them. Both are great! One is a performance, by an excellent band, of a bunch of great Billy Joel tunes. The other is a ballet, choreographed by Twyla Tharp, based on characters from some Billy Joel tunes, and performed by a talented group of dancers, led by the athletic John Selya. Leaping about the stage, you think he could soar into the air. He is so strong looking that I expect someday to see him in a movie as a superhero.

Though schizo, Movin Out is a thrilling show and deserved the standing ovation at the end.
The murder of Margaret Hassan

The news, that someone in Iraq shot and killed CARE chief Margaret Hassan, has stirred up feelings of anger and helplessness within me.

Why? What purpose did her killing serve?

How could this happen?

Will her murderers be brought to justice?

When will this madness in Iraq end?

What is wrong with us that we cannot live in peace and mutual support?

Dinner and The Da Vinci Code

My wife and I are having guests for dinner in a few days and the topic for the gathering is Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code.

I read it several months ago and enjoyed it. Plus, intrigued by the fact that TDVC was a sequel, I gobbled up Brown's Angels and Demons, and enjoyed that one even a tad more.

I just read this morning that Tom Hanks has been cast as the lead in the film version to be directed by Ron Howard. I like Hanks and I'm sure he will do well in the role. But I wonder who else could play the part?
Beautiful words

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

An excerpt from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, 1927




Blogging through change

The other day, I came across a blog entry on blogging as a communication tool for organizational change management.

Interesting. Although communication is terribly important to people as they go through a wrenching organizational upheaval, like a merger or acquisition, I wonder if a blog is the best tool for such communication?



Sometimes going to work is a pleasure

The other day, while driving up the Garden State Parkway to a meeting in northern New Jersey, I had the opportunity to chat with the IT guy that I'm partnering with on a project.

Lo and behold, I learn that the IT geek is a wine expert! In fact, he is so much of an expert that he write articles on wine and consults on the side.

Being a wine lover, I shamelessly picked his brains for free about recommended Italian wines.

Two that I recall are the pinot grigio from Friuli up north and the primitivo red from Apulia in the south.

Not a bad way to spend the time motoring along the parkway.


Leaders as Teachers

Yesterday's New Jersey Organization Development Network meeting, hosted at NJIT in Newark, featured a presentation by Ed Betof, Chief Learning Officer at Becton Dickinson (BD) called "Leaders as Teachers: Building Organizational Capability at BD."

Becton Dickinson, a 107 year old medical technology and biosciences company based in northern NJ with operations around the globe, started a new approach to leadership development about four years ago. The new approach was driven by a new business strategy which emphasized three broad goals:
1.top-line growth through product innovation
2.bottom-line growth through operational effectiveness
3.and organizational capabilities growth through leadership development

BD did not define leader by level. Rather, they defined a "leader" as anyone in BD who has the opportunity to affect one or more of the three growth goals, and who can contribute to BD's Three Greats: great performance, great contributions to society, and great p…
Now that Bush has won, what can we look forward to for the next four years?

As a voter who decided to cast my vote for change, I am disheartened and disappointed that Bush won re-election. Though I was quite unenthusiastic about Kerry (what a stiff, so boring), I felt that we needed change.

I heard a guy being interviewed, on a New York area radio talk show the other day, who said, "I don't understand my fellow Americans who voted for Bush." I guess I am in the same quandary. Why?

Why vote for the guy who got us into a quagmire of death and destruction in Iraq? Why vote for a leader who lamely excuses the whole fiasco by saying that the intelligence was wrong?

Now, unfortunately, we get the same guy again. He is not my idea of a change leader.

I wonder if he will take note of the number of voters who went for Kerry. And why they voted for a change.