Showing posts from December, 2005
Lead Like A Lovecat

A couple of years ago, author Tim Sanders, in his book Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, started a movement based on three applications of love to business relationships:

- sharing knowledge with business partners
- networking with business partners
- compassion for your business partners

Are you a lovecat? What would a lovecat leader look like?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/26/2005
In or Out of the Box?

Ever since The Nine Dot Problem, academics and consultants specializing in creativity have talked about, and recommended, "thinking outside the box." Until now.

Author Douglas Rushkoff, in his new book, Get Back in the Box, offers some alternate thoughts.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/24/2005

Almost a year ago, I attended a management seminar called "Breakthrough to Leadership." After over twenty years in the field of Training and Organization Development, I'd say this this was one of the most memorable courses I have ever attended. And I don't mean that in a good way.

I wrote about this once before at this blog. To put this in context, my company had been bought in December of 2004. Immediately the downsizing began. In January, the new owners were putting all of the surviving acquired managers through a four day culture class. In that prior posting, I highlighted one of the positives of this seminar.

Now to balance out the picture. If there is one word that might best describe this experience it would have to be sadistic. It became clear within the first hour, that we were going to be cruelly tortured for the next four days. Not torture in the sense of pulling out fingernails or applying electric shocks to sensitive body parts.

No, …
All I Want for Christmas

As many of you know, I love Christmas. Always have. The fact that it is based on ancient pagan religions is fine by me. It sorta links things together. Who knows? Maybe the Neanderthals put up a tree in the dark of winter?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/23/2005
Austrian Brain, American Brain

Last week, there was an interesting editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle about the execution of Crips gang leader and convicted murderer Stan "Tookie" Williams.

Here is an excerpt:

"GOV. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger once characterized his conflicted feelings about the death penalty as a duel between his "Austrian brain and the American brain."

He recalled that capital punishment was an "absolute no-no" in his native Austria. On Monday, his "American brain" prevailed. Perhaps his "Austrian brain" would have recognized the value of keeping Williams alive to offer a credible voice of warning to young people who are vulnerable to the lure of gangs. Perhaps his immersion in American culture has anesthetized him to concerns about the margin of error in this nation's justice system."

This Austrian brain, American brain notion is worth some discussion. While I am not equipped to comment on the Austrian br…
Intelligent Design

Looks like "intelligent design" is out for the count in Dover, Pennsylvania, defeated before a federal judge who declared that such a theory, which posits an unseen creator to explain human existence and development, is not a science and therefore has no place in a public school curriculum.

I'm OK with this ruling. Teach evolution in science class.

The question remains, however, what to do with this notion of intelligent design. Here are some thoughts.

As a spiritual person, I trust that we are part of a bigger universe than what we can apprehend with our senses. That there is a greater purpose to "all of this" than just random mutations.

In the kaballah, there is the teaching that the Creator (the Ein Sof, "without boundaries") breathed and "all of this" came into existence.

There is a morning prayer that says, “Elokai neshama shnasata bi tehorah hi – O God the soul you placed within me is pure. You created it, you fashioned i…

Growing up, I lived in a household with Irish Catholic grandparents upstairs and my mother's two elderly Jewish uncles, Abe (born in Russia, near Kiev) and Charlie, at the kitchen table most days of the week. My dad was a tough Irish cop, but he made room in his home (and in his heart) for my mom's side of the family.

What a mishpokhe! Amazingly, we all got along, for the most part.

Having Uncle Abe (the mentsh) and Uncle Charlie (the shmegegi) in my life was a blessing, like two extra grandfathers. Abe taught me how to play chess. Charlie told stories about the old days. I made them tea. Man, I miss those days.

Interestingly, my two teenage sons, who are being raised Catholic as I was, feel a connection to their Jewish roots. I'm happy about that. My mom would be too.

I feel that I have had the best of both worlds.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/21/2005
Is Wikipedia Dangerous?

Wikipedia, the world's first free, user-built, online encyclopedia has had some bad publicity lately. Is it a danger to our society? Are kids, students, and researchers running a risk in using wikipedia articles as sources of information?

I'll admit that I am biased. I have been a wikipedia contributor for years. My topics tend to be in my field of expertise, namely organization development, but I have also started and contributed to articles on film, culture, travel, and local New Jersey history.

I like wikipedia. It's a fun place to write. You "meet" other writers, from all over the world. You can contribute to their articles, and they lend a hand with yours. Like a barn-raising.

Yeah, sometimes your stuff gets vandalized by punks. But usually the wikipedia staff comes along and cleans up the annoying graffiti.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/20/2005
Good Work

Good work doesn't feel like work. It energizes you. You jump outa bed in the morning and can't wait to return to it.

Good work "flows" (as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term) and you don't notice the passage of time when you are working at it.

Good work is something you feel proud of and wouldn't mind signing your name to it.

Good work taps into some talent that is rooted deep within you, something uniquely yours, your "genius" (as Dick Richards has called it).

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/20/2005

Businessweek has published its list of business buzzwords for 2005.

One hot HR buzzword that was omitted is "engagement." The idea that an "engaged" worker is a more productive worker. Prestigious HR consulting firms like Watson Wyatt are building practices on this.

I'm scratching my head over how you can create an engaged workforce at the same time that you are scrapping pension plans.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/17/2005
Job Search Update - Part 2

As of today, my job search is officially two months and ten days old. As the Christmas holidays approach, the question everyone is asking me is: Are you slowing down on your job search?

No. I am continuing to network, reaching out to friends, business associates, former colleagues, and strangers. I am using the outplacement service for coaching. And I am using online networking tools like LinkedIn, Friendster, and Doostang.

As I said in my prior update, I am staying upbeat. Attitude is everything. A long time ago, I learned that a job hunter, like a salesperson, has to be positive.

What helps me maintain an optimistic outlook? First, because I am a veteran job hunter, I know how to do it. Plus I am learning new tricks from some of the job coaches I am encountering, for example Dick Richards (who is teaching me about my genius)and Lloyd Feinstein(who is teaching me to approach the job search like a sales campaign).

Second, I know who I am and what I have to offer…
Playing With The DaVinci Code

Are you a fan of author Dan Brown's mega-bestselling book The DaVinci Code? Looking forward to the big-screen movie version, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks?

If so, then you might enjoy this bit of fun. Apparently, the movie trailer itself has some clues built into it that, if followed, will lead you to some interesting material. This blogger points the way.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/15/2005
I Have Been Published!

Happy to report that my piece on adaptability was accepted and published by the Western Ohio Chapter of ASTD in their monthly members-only newsletter, Professional Insight. My "thanks" go out to Cris Wildermuth and April Mason.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, posted 12/15/2005
Candid Sharing, Effective Action

What is organization development (OD)? I get this question a lot. Usually I paraphrase Richard Beckhard, one of the founders of the OD field, and say that OD is about intentionally planning ways to make organizations more healthy and effective.

As I am job hunting, I look at a lot of job ads. This morning I saw one that takes an interesting approach to OD. Here is an excerpt:

Organization Development is the attempt to influence the members of an organization to expand their candidness with each other about their views of the organization and their experience in it, and to take greater responsibility in sharing and owning their own actions as organization members.

The assumption behind OD is that when people pursue both of these objectives simultaneously, they are likely to discover new ways of working together that they experience as more effective for achieving their own and their shared (organizational) goals. And that when this does not happen, such…
Pushing the Paradigm Button

Ryzer Jamie Walters recently asked, Are there really new paradigms? That's a good question.

The concept of paradigms was all the rage in corporate circles back in the Eighties when consultant Joel Barker arrived on the scene and popularized the term. He acknowledged at the time that he was standing on the shoulders of Thomas Kuhn, the philosopher of science who first wrote about the concept of paradigms in his slim but deep volume the Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

From my understanding of Kuhn's argument, one of the characteristics of a really new paradigm is that it should appear to be absurd, ridiculous and first. Meaning that the audience that is considering the new paradigm is steeped in the context of the existing or "old" paradigm. The old paradigm makes sense. The new one seems like heresy.

In the news today, I saw a story that can illustrate this, where a research scientist, in dating some ancient human footprints, ha…

Creativity - Don't Wait. Do Something.

What is your take on the creative process? Is creative inspiration something you wait for like a weather front? Or is creative inspiration akin to priming a pump where the first few tries produce nothing but then a gusher?

For me, creativity is probably all of the above . . . and other as well.

When I was in graduate school, studying creative arts education, I read some interesting stuff on imagination and the creative process. One model that I liked I'll call the "Don't Wait; Do Something" approach which basically said that creativity occurs when we are in motion, when we are taking action.

Rather than waiting for inspiration, go ahead and start writing, painting, walking or whatever it is that gets your juices flowing.

Trust that in the doing, the creative process will kick in.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/12/2005
New KM Guru Blog

Thanks to Gautam Ghosh for alerting us to a new knowledge management blog from Babson.

I have found several interesting threads, including:

- The strange relationship between KM and HR

- The potential high cost of missing knowledge

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/9/2005
Ten Golden Rules at Google

How do you manage today's knowledge workers? Eric Schmidt, CEO at Google, has ten golden rules including:

- Hire by committee - Sounds like the return of self-managing teams.

- Cater to their every need - Sounds good to me. Do they really mean it?

- Pack them in - Personally, being an INTP, I would scream over this one.

- Encourage creativity - We've heard this one before.

To

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/8/2005
You Don't Have to be Christian to Like Christmas

I'm the Catholic son of a Jewish mother. When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV commercials was for Levi's Jewish Rye Bread. The slogan was: You don't have to be Jewish to like Levi's.

As we swing into the annual Christmas season, I think this world needs a similar slogan: You don't have to be Christian to like Christmas.

Christmas, when you look at it, is really for everybody.

For Christians, it's a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

For Pagans, Christmas has it all: trees, mistletoe, even elves.

For everybody else, it has a universal message about Emmanuel, God-with-us. A message about peace on Earth, good will to all.

A message that says God is indeed with us. Even when it seems like God isn't.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/8/2005
Assessing the Impact of a Leader

In scanning the business news headlines this morning, I came across an article about my former employer. It turns out that the rumor mill had been right: the CEO is leaving the company and will take a top-level position with a company on the west coast where she will be closer to home and spouse.

Coming in about seven years ago with a turn-around mandate, the CEO aggressively changed the company, growing it through a succession of acquisitions. The company is much larger now, in sales, employees, footprint, and value.

Along with this spending spree, she also drove a culture change, and a cost reduction campaign. Regarding the culture change, the CEO shook the place up in an effort to shed complacency and instill a renewed sense of ambition. Regarding the cost reductions, the acquisitions were followed by consolidations that included the firings of lots of people.

Can we assess this leader and her effectiveness? Admittedly, I am not an objective rater …
Assessing Leadership Effectiveness

How do you assess the effectiveness of a leader? Blogger and consultant Don Blohowiak has an idea: assess the organizational outcomes that they produce.

This is quite close to an idea I started writing about (in 2003) at wikipedia that I called management effectiveness. In the wiki spirit, many others have subsequently added to my original entry.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/7/2005
Man, the Hunted Runner

In USA Today, I caught a "science snapshot" article about an anthropologist named Donna Hart who, along with her colleagues from the University of Missouri, has presented an argument about ancient man that says:

"being hunted, rather than hunting, was the daily fare of humanity's ancestors...

"trying not to be eaten played a significant role in human evolution...

"our earliest ancestors probably spent a lot of time evolving into a creature that survived being on the run..."

So basically what Prof. Hart is saying is that our prehistoric grandparents were the lucky ones that were able to procreate before they became dinner for some sabre toothed tigers.

In addition to being fast runners, they must have developed some other survival skills. How else can you explain the fact that we are here having these exchanges?

I would imagine that some other skills arose as a result of being the hunted; for example:

- communication skills (How do we le…
Two Steps to Intentional Living

Psychologist and coach Mark Arcuri says that there are two steps to take in order to create something intentionally in your life.

1. First you write a few lines about what you want to create.

2. Then you reflect on the intention for a few minutes each day while visualizing the finished product.

That's it. I'm going to try it.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 5, 2005
Spiritual Change Management

Isaiah said: "Prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight a highway for our God!" John the Baptist proclaimed: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."

This is Advent, the time of year when Christians get ready for the great feast of Christmas. The time to prepare the way of the Lord. It is the time to repent.

Repent. A word that is seldom used in the 21st century. What does it mean to repent?

Literally, to repent is to turn away from, to change one's self (the Greek term metanoia means "to change your mind").

To convert.

Spiritually speaking, whether Christian or not, the Advent season is sorely needed in this violence-filled world of ours. Every day, in many parts of the world, people turn to bombs, guns, landmines, and other weapons of death to influence, to attack, to retaliate, to redress.

If we continue in this way, we are headed for destruction.

The world (all of us) needs to repent, to convert, to turn away from violence.

Getting Noticed

This blog has been noticed by a professor at Case named Sandy Piderit and a knowledge management blogger in Germany named Alexandra Gra├čler.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/4/05
Interesting Capability

As I am "in transition" at the moment, I read a lot of job ads, and not just in my own field. In one I read this morning, for an asset manager, there was the following:

~ The Asset Management group is action oriented; its efforts culminate in an asset sale, a refinancing, a commercial restructuring, an operational improvement, a re-engineering, or project development.

~ The closings are typically preceded by a long period of analysis, negotiation and set backs. The ability to apply effort toward an objective over a long period of time without guarantee of success is invaluable.

Interesting capability, no? Doesn't such an ability apply to organization development work as well?

It definitely relates to waging a job search campaign.