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Showing posts from 2006

I Doubt It

Scientist and skeptic Sharon Hill, a geologist and blogger who goes by the handle "idoubtit," has recently launched Doubtful, featuring a great entry on blobjects, a new cultural meme referring to objects that are too indistinct to be undisputably what they purport to be, e.g. grainy photos of Nessie. (For another meaning of blobject, go here.)

By coincidence, I was recently in conversation with some friends about a type of blobject called "orbs," those white circles that sometimes show up in photos you have taken. Are they just artefacts of light? Or as some argue, are they ghosts?

Sharon has also published a piece on hauntings in Cape May, one of my favorite spots in New Jersey or anywhere.

So how does this fit with my usual musings here at Here We Are. Now What? Normally I keep my interest in the strange and unexplained separate from this blog, but in this case, I'm making an exception.

Sharon Hill does a nice job of straddling the everyday world of consensus re…

Peace on Earth

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

As I head out into the evening for church this Christmas Eve, I offer this wish for all:

...as you gather together with loved ones, to share the glad tidings of the Season, may you and yours feel comfort, joy and peace.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/24/06

Enter the Connectors!

Gautam Ghosh has coined a new term, talentosphere, and says that one of his predictions for 2007 is the rise of the connectors: bloggers (and presumbly others outside the blogosphere) who are good at some things (identified by Gladwell in The Tipping Point), including:

- knowing lots of people, having a wide social circle

- having a knack of making friends

- being the hub of a social network

Recently, several people told me that I am a connector. I find it a bit surprising because I don't think of myself that way. My wife, on the other hand, is a big time connector, and always has been so.

Still, I am amazed that some people (including recruiters) have called me one. Perhaps it is because of all the networking and blogging I have been doing so relentlessly in the past year.

Added Note 12/23: Came across this blog entry from a Venture Capitalist on the value of being a connector.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/22/06

Conversion of the Heart

In the NY Times magazine this past Sunday, there was a piece that asked, Could Ebenezer Scrooge have been sick? Maybe he had a medical condition, but for me the Charles Dickens' story of A Christmas Carol is about a man who is spiritually sick.

No matter how many times I read this classic, or watch the film versions, I am moved. There are so many scenes worth mentioning, but one in particular stands out: the conversation between terrified Scrooge and the troubled ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley.

Sorrowful Marley said:

"Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said, "I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Me…

Slay Ride: Musing on Dragons

Faced with a dragon, what would you do? Slay it? Ride it?

At Dick Richard's blog, Come Gather Round, he muses about riding dragons, "leaping from the known to the unknown, from daily life to the sacred, from the mind that is aware of itself to the unconscious." Like Dick, I am a fan of poet Robert Bly, a word-shaman who dared to enter the dragon's lair of the imagination.

At Dave Seah's blog, he addresses the difficult task of slaying life's dragons and points to Laura Young's blog , The Dragon Slayer's Guide to Life.

Dave's blog also has a nice pic of a bottle of Macallan Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky. Last night, my good friend Greg Deatz, of The Information Dirt Road blog, served me a dram of Bowmore Islay single malt. Delicious.

Just the sort of drink for those who deal with dragons.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/18/06

The Future of Global Talent Management

I had the good fortune this week to attend two presentations on Talent Management, the first given by Vas Nair at Schering-Plough (sponsored by the NJ ODN), the second by consultant Anna Tavis at Fairleigh Dickinson University (sponsored by The Center for Human Resources Management Studies), here in New Jersey.

Some learnings:

- Remember that "talent" means people; embed your talent management process within your overall "people strategy" for the business

- Be aware of the dangers in the "star system" approach to talent management

- In addition to assessing people on performance and potential, look at what it would mean if you lost the employee

- Incorporate social network analysis to identify the people who are key to your organization's knowledge flows

- Look at the entire "talent ecosystem" in and around your organization; talent pools are global now

- Consider higher intelligence such as Danah Zohar's concept of "spiritual intelligence…

OD Blogs Abound

For a long time, I wondered if there were other OD blogs out there in the blogosphere. It was always a delight to find one, such as Gautam Ghosh, Astha Parmar, Steve Pashley, and the Mass Bay OD blog that Jim Murphy moderates.

Now thanks to Karl Albrecht's discussion thread at ODNet, other organization development blogs have come into view, including:

Bill Harris' Making Sense With Facilitated Systems

Mario Gastaldi's Sviluppo delle Organizzazioni (in Italian)

Rich Foss' 7 Paths

Jan Yuill's The Heartbeat

Steve Dahlberg's Applied Imagination

Kartik's OD and more

If you have an OD blog you'd like to promote, you are invited to promote it here.

Added Note 12/16: Brian Childs has an OD blog at Bowling Green State University.

Added Note 12/20: Bill Harris reminds me of several more blogs (see his comment) including Professor Sandy Kristin Piderit at Case.

Added Note 1/20: Tina has an OD blog for the CCODN.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/14/06

Tag! I'm It.

Blogger TJ Starbucker, at Ramblings from a Glass Half Full, has tagged me in a blog game where you must divulge "5 Things You Don't Know About Me."

OK...here goes.

1. My Myers Briggs type is INTP and my Holland Code is ASE.

2. As a child, my career dream was to become a Catholic priest and I remember telling my parents that they could live with me in my rectory.

3. My middle name is Henry (named after my great-grandfather Henry who came from Ahrem near Koln in Germany). With the initials TH to start with, I took the name Edward for my Confirmation name so that I would be THE Seamon.

4. My second son Dave is named after my father's first-cousin John Hickey. Confused? John was famous in our family for calling people "Dave," in the same way you might call someone buddy or pal. When my son was born, it just felt right (to me) to finally name someone after John's favorite nickname.

5. My favorite time of year is Christmas time. With 15 days to go, I am feeling ex…

Whither OD?

Recently, after asking "Is OD Going Away?" a few interesting responses appeared.

Lisa Haneberg at Management Craft wrote: "My 2 cents on this - not until we improve our management training, which we should do but most won't. Most of OD is surrogate management."

Interesting. Question for Lisa: When you say "Most of OD is surrogate management," are you saying that if management did a better job, there would be no need for organization development?

HR blogger and CEO Regina Miller said: "Oh this is a great topic...and I want to chime in definitely on this...I have a post that I have been planning for a while called the new OD curriculum. I will say some more in an upcoming post..."

While waiting for Regina's thoughts to appear at her blog, this topic has stayed on my mind too, especially since hearing OD legend Marv Weisbord say that he is concerned about the rapid pace of change in today's world and he wonders if OD people can be effective…

Pssst: Your Corporate Culture Is Showing

Attention Talent Acquisition (aka Staffing) Professionals: Watch what you put into your job ads because your corporate culture may be showing to external eyes.

In the "I Kid You Not" Department, the other day I read an ad that described the hiring company's Management Model, including the following about how they intend to serve their customers:

"Make it not only painless for customers to deal with us, but painful for them not to."

Yikes!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/05/06

Becomingness

The field of organization development is like a person who wonders as he wanders, returning now and again to essential questions like Who Am I? Why Am I Here? What Should I Be Doing With My Life?

So I like it when the question "What is OD?" re-surfaces (as it has the other day at the main e-mail discussion list at ODNET).

It says that the field of OD is aware of itself and its becomingness*.

Yes, that is a real word.

Becomingness - any process of change involving realization of potentialities, as a movement from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality.

Nice word, don't you think? And one that seems to fit well with what we as OD folk are all about.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/04/06

Telling Aint Communicating

Some years ago, the maxim "telling aint training" appeared in the Training and Employee Development field.

I believe it is derived from this old saying about learning:

~ I hear, I forget; I see, I understand; I do, I remember.

The bottom line for training is that telling (e.g. lectures) is not enough. To ensure retention and application of learning, show examples and give learners the opportunity to do (i.e., practice) so that they will remember.

This idea is applicable to the area of communication too. How many times have we heard someone exclaim in exasperation, "How could they say they didn't know? I told them!"

Therefore, on this day the 30th of November 2006, I hereby coin the new phrase: Telling Aint Communicating. All readers of this blog are encouraged to spread the word!

Just as with retention of knowledge from training, if we want retention of information from communicating, we need to do more than tell. Working in parallel to the old saying, here are two i…

"and now for something completely different" in getting an interview

Thanks to Michael Schaffner, who pointed me to the website of Lockard and White, a Houston, Texas based telecom company, with a unique approach to their careers page. An excerpt:

If you want to be considered for employment at L&W you first have to get an interview with us. To get an interview follow these steps:

- DO NOT send us your resume! (We won’t respond.)

- DO NOT email us!

- DO make personal contact (TALK and interact) with one of our leadership team members or any of our other team members.

In other words use your creativity to meet one of the L&W team and get to know something about them and L&W. Make sure the L&W team member gets to know you in the process.

After talking with and interacting with one of our team members, the L&W team member will decide if they think you have what it takes to be part of L&W. If they are willing to “sponsor” you for an interview, they will then set the wheels in motion to make it happen!


What a smart organization! L&W is s…

Managing to Change

Thanks to Phil, I found Ann Michael's blog Manage to Change, where she intends to make sense out of change. Bravo!

In her latest entry, Ann writes her manifesto for change. I like it.

However, I would quibble with the fourth point, "There are no invitations." I believe that sometimes, when managing change, we may need to extend invitations ...

- to those resisting or opposing the change
- to those with questions who don't understand the change
- to people afraid to take the leap into change

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/27/06

Many Thanks!

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the States. I was about to write an ode to the meaning of this holiday, but in re-reading what I wrote last year, I decided simply to point you to that entry. It's damn good.

For today, what I'll do instead is say "thanks" to the many bloggers who have enriched my life this past year, including: - Starbucker - Astha Parmar - Phil Gerbyshak - Don Blohowiak - Regina Miller - Gautam Ghosh - Jim Murphy - Lisa Haneberg - Dub Dubs Thanks for noticing my blog. For visiting, leaving comments, and helping improve my game.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/24/06

Singing the Corporate Song and Other Corporate Culture Foibles

HR brand blogger Regina Miller highlights this HR nightmare video of a guy singing an ode to his company's greatness, to the tune of a U2 song.

You gotta watch this video.

You'll laugh (at the corporate dorkiness on display); you'll be impressed (by how well this guy can sing); and you may be saddened (that such lame stuff goes on inside corporations in the name of promoting corporate culture).

As a former Corporate Culture Guy (yes, I was the Manager of Culture, believe it or not, at two telecom companies in the '90's), this kind of thing is the lowest of the low in corporate culture. Although there are times for celebration, corporate culture is not a party where everybody toots on kazoos.

A CEO I once worked for understood it very well. He would say that corporate culture was his people (i.e., the knowledge, experience, and attitudes) and how they operated (i.e., the behaviors, processes, and systems) day in and day out. He called it his "secret weapon" wh…

Permission to Quote?

Someone in the OD Masters program at AU/NTL contacted me today, asking my permission to use the leadership poem that I wrote back in April.

I asked what she was going to do with it.

Her answer: post it up on the wall and share copies with her cohort (i.e., classmates).

That made my day.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/21/06

Naked Corporations and Peanut Butter Manifestos

A fascinating piece on leadership, corporate culture, and blogging at IR Web Report. Writer Dominic Jones spots a trend where "having your internal management frustrations brought out in public is now officially a good thing."

I am especially intrigued by the Peanut Butter Manifesto at Yahoo! that appears to be a new wrinkle in ways that blog posts can affect change within organizations.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/19/06

Is OD Going Away?

Can an entire field go away?

Recently, at a meeting of senior HR professionals, we were discussing trends in HR. One trend that everyone agreed upon is that the field of organization development (OD) is changing.

For one thing, the field seems to be fracturing into specialities such as executive coaching and change management. The former is becoming dominated by external consultants. The latter is moving to IT.

Further, more and more employers are looking for HR generalists who can also do organization development, process improvement, and training.

The moderator's comment was: "OD has been absorbed by HR. Employers want broad-based generalists. Fewer people who can do more things."

The moderator then asked: "Do you think OD is going away?"

One senior HR leader commented: "Yes, within five years."

I shuddered at the thought.

Will OD as we know it go away? Should OD practitioners be re-tooling their skills set? Should OD students start thinking about a new ma…

Talk to the Guy at the Coffee Urn

At a networking meeting this morning at Lee Hecht Harrison, consultant, author, and speaker Michael Goldberg, of Building Blocks Consulting, gave an invigorating talk on the power of networking.

Defining networking in down-to-earth terms, Goldberg offered a host of how-to's to kick up a networking effort. Some of the points that struck me:

- What is networking? Goldberg says that it's the proactive approach to meeting people in order to learn from them and help them.

- The ABC of networking: Always Be Connecting - I love that.

- Networking is farming, not hunting - Just like with farming, to reap a healthy crop, you need to work the soil, plant the seeds, water the ground, pull the weeds etc. It takes time and continuous care.

- "Know where you want to hang out" - If you don't know what you want, what you like doing, or where you want to do it, you may be in for a looong search. (Curiously, Nick Corcodilos emphasized this point the same way: Who do you want to hang ou…

Lessons of the Pupa

Image
At a networking event recently, I said, "Hi. I'm Terry Seamon."

The guest speaker said, "What do you do?"

I replied, "I'm a Training and OD guy, currently in transition."

The guest speaker smiled from ear to ear and said, "Who isn't?"

Who isn't in transition? Whoa. A moment of zen, as Jon Stewart might say.

I worked with another organization development guy years ago who had a sign on his desk that read "Change Guy."

That's what we are in the OD field, we are change guys. Our business is change. Planning it, facilitating it. Helping people deal with it and change for the better.

Transition is our thing, you might say.

Transition can have different meanings, for example purposely moving from one place to another, as in the phrase "in transit," where someone is travelling toward a destination, but is not there yet.

Transition can also mean changing from one state to another, like what a caterpillar goes thro…

How Avaya Manages Change

This morning, I attended an excellent presentation on how Avaya drives transformational business change, sponsored by the New Jersey Organization Development Learning Community, hosted by Kraft Foods in East Hanover NJ.

Given by Doug Reinstein, Director of Change Management at Avaya, some of my takeaways include:

- There are three kinds of business change: "burning platforms," business transformations, and "good ideas." The first type is about survival. The third type is about incremental improvement. Business transformation --e.g., process change, technology change, product change-- is where the action is . . . if you really want to reach a new level of organizational effectiveness.

- Most business transformations flop because of failure to handle people issues. Have a robust toolkit for change management that includes stakeholder management, communication, training, job design, performance management, measurement, and deployment.

- Do not pursue business transformati…

Dream-Smashers

When my sons were little, friends would wisely say, "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems."

They were right.

Now my sons are big. Kevin is 19 and a sophomore at Rutgers, and Dave is about to turn 18 and is a senior in high school, applying to colleges.

They aspire to do great things. Kevin wants to be a film maker, and Dave wants to be a singer and actor.

My wife Joan and I are so proud of them. Yet at they same time, we are worried that they will be disappointed by what they will encounter in "the real world."

So how do we provide a healthy reality check without being dream-smashers?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/13/06

Management Innovation

Name your favorite oxymoron. Is it "jumbo shrimp"? Is it "military intelligence"?

How about "management innovation"?

At Slow Leadership, blogger Adrian Savage has an entry about that very thing that points to an excellent piece by strategy and innovation guru Gary Hamel.

At the Business Innovation Insider, Hamel calls for continuous innovation in management processes, such as

- how management creates strategy,
- how it sets priorities,
- how it allocates capital,
- how it organizes activity,
- how it motivates employees, etc.

But Hamel realizes that there are barriers in the way of such innovation, including managers themselves.

How do we change the thinking of managers so that they can get out of their own way...and get out of the box?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/09/06

"You CAN affect change."

Last night, my wife Joan shared a neat idea she learned about at a rummage sale at a church in Hillsborough area.

Called "You CAN affect Change," it is a tag attached to a can of soda, sold at the rummage sale. The tag says the following:

"Please enjoy this soda. Rinse the can when you are finished and fill it with your pocket change. When the can is full, please drop it off at church. The money raised will support our mission trips during 2007. With your support, we will be changing lives for the better. Thank you for your help acheving our goals."

What a great idea. Simple. Easy to implement. Involves lots of people. Snowballs with potential.

That's the secret, I believe, to change management.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/08/06

Some Uncommon Advice

Last night, I attended a talk, sponsored by the Rutgers Alumni Association, by consultant and headhunter Nick Corcodilos, founder of Ask The Headhunter.

His contrarian advice on job hunting was invigorating. For example:

1. Don't slave over your resume.

Hiring managers get a ton of them for every ad they run, so there is precious little time for your resume to be reviewed.

Instead, research the company you are targetting and develop a business plan that addresses the problems they face, the solutions you would offer, and the benefits the company would derive from hiring you and implementing your ideas.

2. Don't over-prepare for interviews.

Instead of rehearsing answers to frequently asked interview questions, just relax and ask the hiring manager about his or her work, the goals they have set, the challenges the company is facing, and the problems they are trying to solve. Then talk about how you can help them be successful.

Nick calls this approach to interviewing behaving like t…

What's Your Motto?

Curt Rosengren, at The Occupational Adventure, has this entry about a contest going on at Motto Magazine, where you are being asked:

"What's your motto?"

The dictionary says that a motto (from the Latin mot = word) is a sentence, phrase, or word expressing the spirit, purpose, or guiding principle of a person or organization.

Mine is a saying that my mother was fond of:

~ Life is what you make it.

What's your motto?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/31/06

OD, IT, and Change

Senior IT executive and Texas-based blogger Michael Schaffner, at Communicate Execute Adapt, has an entry called Mastering the Three Worlds of IT where he says:

"The truth is that technology implementation is really communication, process redesign, organizational development, training and employee and management involvement at all levels both inside and outside of IT plus IT installing the software."

Amen, Brother!

It reminds me of my days at Teleport Communications Group (aka Teleport or TCG) where the CEO used to say that the two things that kept him up at night were "people and systems." And he understood that the two were inextricably related.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/30/06

Large Scale Change

The Mass Bay OD Learning Group has another intriguing question posted at their blog:

When are large group interventions called for?

Interesting question. I'd say: Use a large group intervention when the scale you are working on is large and complex. For example, when you are attempting to change the entire system.

A few years ago, I was part of the team that was working on the redesign of our parish organization. Since we were trying to address the entire system, we brought a large group of parishioners together in a meeting in the school cafeteria for a day-long visioning session.

Using facilitators, small group breakouts, and structured discussions, we were able to gather the wisdom of the large group, compile it all into a working document, and create parish-wide excitement about change.

The other night at the PRODN meeting, guest and OD legend Marv Weisbord was asked by moderator Michael Broom, "What do you think you will be most remembered for?"

Marv gave several answers…

Seashore and Weisbord: Two Legends of OD

Edie Seashore and Marv Weisbord, two living legends in the field of Organization Development, appeared tonight in a special program of the Philadelphia Regional OD Network (PRODN) on the PCOM campus, off City Avenue (aka Rt. 1) in the City of Brotherly Love.

In a two hour conversation, moderated by Michael Broom, Edie and Marv reflected on the beginnings and the evolution of the OD field, through the prism of their own journeys.

Here are some of my fragmented notes:

Edie: John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, group dynamics, social change, sexism, civil rights movement, Dick Beckhard, NTL, Warren Bennis, Ken Benne, Charles Seashore, triple impact coaching, and experiential learning.

Marv: T-Groups, McGregor, Theory X and Y, dignity, community, self-managing teams, action research, productive workplaces, the six boxes model, Future Search, and "Get the whole system in the room."

As I listened to Edie and Marv, I was reminded of my own journey as an OD practitioner, and the many teachers I have …

Shared Table, Shared Lives

Astha invited me the other day to comment on her blog entry about office space, teamwork, and organization development. Much appreciated!

When we go to work, we share a space and a lunch table with co-workers, but we share so much more with the people at work. More than we know.

Many years ago, I was once suddenly "let go" by an employer. I heard later from some former co-workers that they felt very strong emotions as a result of that termination:

"It was like a drive-by shooting."

"I felt like a member of my family had died."

Though we do not know these co-workers as well as we know our family, relatives or our close friends, nevertheless we are still bound up with them in a relationship that can be very long-lasting.

This Summer, I hosted a back-yard barbecue for some co-workers that I had not seen in twenty years. Though we had all moved on and had other experiences at other companies, when we gathered in my yard it was like old times.

What is it that we shar…

“What You Are, Be Good At It.”

Don't you love fortune cookies? Who invented them? I'd love to send a thank you note.

In his daily dispatch from the national Organization Development Network conference in San Francisco, Matt Minahan wrote that one of the keynote speakers spoke about a message he received in a fortune cookie:

“What you are, be good at it.”

Talk about a profound truth. It's difficult though. I wonder how many of us truly figure out what we are?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/24/06

HR At the Table

For years, many observers of HR have discussed what it would take for HR to "get a seat at the table" with the Big Boys, i.e. the CEO, the CFO, the head of Sales & Marketing, the head of Operations/Manufacturing, etc.

In last week's HR meeting, the presenter Greg Taylor had a compelling answer: It's about strategic decision making.

Just as the CFO is at the table to help the CEO make strategic financial decisions, and the head of Sales & Marketing is there to help make strategic product and service decisions, the head of HR needs to help make strategic human capital management decisions.

Hmmm. Is that what HR people say that they are good at?

Not according to a survey by Sunil J. Ramlall of the Department of Management at Minnesota's University of St. Thomas and summarized in the May/June 2006 issue of Performance Improvement journal.

108 HR generalists, specialists, managers, directors and vice presidents said that they were good at things like:

- delivery of …

Disney HR Quiz

Q. Which of the following job categories receives more training dollars at Disney World?

- Characters (Micket, Minnie, Chip, Dale, etc.)

- Customer Service employees

- Maintenance employees such as sweepers

- Security employees

A. Sweepers

Sweepers??? Well, according to Greg Taylor of Lee Hecht Harrison, who was the featured speaker this morning at an HR meeting in Parsippany, NJ, it is the theme park sweepers who not only keep the parks immaculately clean, but who also advise guests on the best places to take a cranky child or to change an infant's diaper.

Taylor pointed out that: "One often hears patrons say, “I couldn’t believe how knowledgeable and friendly the groundskeeper was. S/he was eager to answer our question, and was very well informed. Even though it wasn’t part of their job, they took the time to really help us.” In fact, such helping is a key part of the job of “sweepers” at Disney."

This example was offered in a talk about how HR and Training can operate more st…

Welcome AI Annotations!

I am pleased to pass along the announcement, circulated this morning on the ODNET listserv, on the arrival of a new blog, Appreciative Inquiry Annotations.

Here's a part of Loretta Donovan's e-mail:

"Dear Friends, I am excited to share some important news with the OD community. During the summer, some members of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting came together to conceptualize and plan a blog. Appreciative Inquiry Annotations is the work of Sandy Wells, Roberta Peirick, Roz Kay, Tony Silbert, Loretta Randolph, Susan Donnan and yours truly. AI Annotations is a place to create a conversation - an exchange of ideas and practices - among the co-owners of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting and with others who are on the journey of exploration and collective understanding of Appreciative Inquiry. Everyone has access to the blog and can add to the comments. "

This is good news for all of those who have an interest in learning, change, organizations, and improving our world.

For more …

Beer and Ideas

At a site called Beer & Ideas, there is a video of Sir Ken Robinson at TED, talking about creativity and the future. Very entertaining and important.

The "beer and ideas" has triggered a fond memory. It reminds me of an undergraduate communication theory course, taught by Dave Davidson, circa 1975-77, where we would meet for class at the Olde Queens Tavern on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick, one of the most venerated watering holes on the Rutgers campus.

At the back corner table, in the dim light, with Dave's pipe smoke forming a haze over us, we would demolish pitchers of beer and slices of pizza, all the while exploring and generating ideas on ways to communicate more effectively in the world.

Blogs were still many years off in the future.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/16/06

How to Help Millions

Jack Ricchiuto, author of Collaborative Creativity, has a blog, Jack/Zen, where he has an entry about the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus whose economic innovation, micro-credit, has helped millions of poor people (mostly women) to start small businesses.

Now that is an example of how business can benefit people.

Here is a conference on that same topic, BAWB, for Business as an Agent of World Benefit: Management Knowledge Leading Positive Change
October 22-25, 2006

A forum will be held October 22nd-25th at Case Western Reserve University and online uniting top business leaders and educators to focus on ways of doing business that are both profitable and succeed in addressing the world’s most pressing social needs.


Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/14/06

Results Only Work Environments

What would a "results only work environment" (aka ROWE) look like?

Best Buy is trying to find out, at their corporate hq. Check it out. Is this really a "radical experiment to reshape the corporate workplace?"

From what I have read, it sounds like it just may be. Instead of an organization of miserable boss-dodging cubicle dwellers watching the clock until their shift is over, ROWE employees are able to determine how, when, and where they will get their work done.

Sign me up!

Addendum: Looks like Max is excited by this too.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/13/06

Something You Do In Your Room

With millions of bloggers in the blogosphere, there are those who still wonder "What the heck is a blogger anyway and why would you want to be one?"

Photographer and blogger Bruce DeBoer , who has a nice writing style, offers a good definition of blogging:

Blogs [or “web logs” said fast 20 times] are small websites with a common format. The participants are either authors (posters) or visitors (commentators). Authors rant – visitors respond, it’s a simple format. Imbedded in the blog are links to other blogs made through footnote-like connections, lists of the Author’s favorite bloggers, or a link credited to the responder. Through these links, dedicated blog-aholics can build a web substantial enough to snag large enterprises.

I love the name of his blog: Permission to Suck. That may sound crude or awful to some sensitive ears, but what Bruce is getting at is the fearlessness and freedom to fail that creativity depends upon.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/12/06

Can You Train People to Be Innovative?

Jeffrey Philips, at Innovate On Purpose, asks "Can you train someone to be innovative?"

He thinks you can (and I agree) and offers some good advice on how to go about doing it, including making sure that the culture of the organization will support experimentation, risk taking, and failure.

Training people to innovate works best, I believe, if you train a bunch of people all at once. More precisely, if you train an intact team or organization.This way, all of the people have a shared experience that they all take back with them to their workplace.

Many years ago, when I was Training Manager in a science-based organization, we did just that. And it helped fuel a significant increase in innovation, as measured by the number of new product ideas entering the commercialization pipeline.

Interestingly, one of the external consultants that helped us was Roger von Oech.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/10/06

Disobedience

Over at the Babson Knowledge Management blog, Don Cohen has an interesting piece he calls "One Way to Stifle Creativity," but it is really an entry about disobedience.

Generally, society frowns on disobedience. Disobedience threatens order and authority.

But Don shows us how disobedience can lead to innovations and breakthroughs. He recalls a story from the early days of Hewlett-Packard:

David Packard responded to an engineer who had disregarded an order to stop working on technology that turned into a successful product by calling a meeting of engineers and presenting him with a medal for “extraordinary contempt and defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty.”

Hmmm. It seems that disobedience can lead to organizational renewal. A paradox?

How do we (in HR, OD, and leadership development) help build organizational cultures that do not stifle bootlegging, skunk works, and other forms of healthy "contempt and defiance?"

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/04/06

Boost Your RBI

In baseball, your RBI (Runs Batted In) is an important thing. If I get a hit, I can boost the score by driving another player home.

I recently learned, via Mike Sansone, that RBI is an important aspect of blogging too.

For Mike, it means Relationship Building Intentionally and it's about using your blog to "build solid, long-lasting relationships."

Interesting. Since starting to blog several years ago, I have "met" some very cool people from all around the world, including Gautam Ghosh, Regina Miller, Jim Murphy, Astha Parmar, Phil Gerbyshak, Lisa Haneberg, Rosa Say, Dick Richards, Arun Verma, Nimmy, Starbucker, Alexandra Graßler, and many more. (Don Blohowiak, a fellow New Jerseyan, is one I already knew before I started blogging.)

It's too soon to say whether any of these will be "solid and long-lasting," but I am enjoying the exchanges and hope for more.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/02/06

More on the ROI of Blogging

The other day, a headhunter was interviewing me and asked me about my blog. He wanted to know why I had one. In answering, I told him about the experience I had a few months back with a group of senior HR people who thought I was crazy for blogging and tried to discourage me. I was dismayed by their negativity, but I was not dissuaded.

The headhunter's comment was, "Terry, You're an interesting guy."

Via Maria Palma's blog, I found Tom Vander Well's piece on the ROI of Blogging where he makes several good points about the value of blogging:

- Blogging extends your reach
- Blogging increases your findability
- Blogging boosts your RBI (relationship buildng intentionality)

What motivates me to blog?

- It's a way to express my thoughts on topics of interest to me.
- It's a way of connecting with people globally.
- It's a marketing tool.
- It's free.
- I like to write.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 10/01/06

Imagine That!

In graduate school many moons ago, pursuing my masters degree in Education at Rutgers, I studied with author, artist, poet, and new paradigm research scientist Jon Klimo (whose massive book on channeling is the definitive work in the field).

What a trip! Klimo was (and apparently still is, thank goodness) one of the most brilliant and "far out there" people I have ever met.

As part of the Creative Arts in Education program that Klimo pioneered, we studied thinking, learning, creativity, intuition, and imagination. His ideas on imagination in particular still resonate with me twenty four years later.

Imagine my delight to see that Dave Pollard's recent entry at How to Save the World is on the process of imagining.

Pollard reminds me of Klimo in this piece, especially in his recommendations to:

- Remember your dreams
- Change your point of view
- Explore your mental images
- Transport yourself
- Open your senses
- Make connections
- Make time and space for imagining

And I really l…

Reloading Your Accumulator

Our good friend from Germany, Wolfgang, wrote to us early in the Summer to recommend that we take a vacation. He wrote: "...you need some time to relax and to reload your accumulator, and I know from my own experience that it is far the best to do it away from home."

Never having heard the phrase "reload your accumulator" before, I plugged it into Google Translate and converted it to German: deinen Akkumulator neu laden.

Question to my German readers: Does that phrase make sense to you?

As the Summer passed, Wolfgang's recommendation went with us. At each place we visited, we would recall his admonition to "reload your accumulator" and we would do our best to live up to it.

Did we reload our accumulator successfully? Yes, I think we did. We got away from home. We went to new places. We enjoyed nature. And we relaxed with friends.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/28/06

When KM Meets OD

Jim Murphy has a new question at the Mass Bay OD Learning Community Blog: What can organizational development practitioners learn from Knowledge Management?

(The NJ OD Learning Community addressed a similar question a couple years ago when Stephan Kudyba of NJIT spoke on the strategic implications of KM.)

Murphy's question arose from a presentation given by Bruce Hoppe and Patti Anklam to the Mass Bay OD Group, where they identified several challenges...

- Change management
- Talent management
- Learning organization
- Collaboration

...that not only face knowledge management practitioners, but organization development practitioners as well.

You can view their presentation here.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/23/06

Changing For The Better

At my thirtieth high school reunion a couple years ago, there were various prizes awarded. I won the prize for The Most Changed. (Hint: In high school, I had black wavy hair. Today I am bald as an egg.)

My wife Joan and I talk about change a lot. She will often say that she hates change. Especially those things that change irrevocably like the death of a parent or a sibling.

At the same time, we are experiencing positive changes all the time. Like seeing our eldest son Kevin grow to be over six feet tall, enroll in college, and go off to film school in California this Summer. It seems like yesterday that he and his younger brother Dave were curly haired Little Kickers running down the soccer field.

It's intriguing to me that I pursued a career in a field that is all about change: training and organization development. Would Dick Richards say that it has something to do with my genius? my purpose in life?

That's what we do in life, change. All of us. No exceptions. We all…

What Is Bill Clinton Doing?

Check out what former US president Bill Clinton is doing these days, via a funny but interesting interview by comedian John Stewart on The Daily Show.

Apparently Mr. Clinton is pursuing some BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) related to making the world a better place for millions of people here on planet Earth.

Way to go, Bill!

Has anyone phoned Mr. Clinton to see if he is available to speak at the next Organization Development conference?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/19/06

Rules and Creativity

Rosa Say, the author of Managing with Aloha, and owner of the blog Talking Story, has an entry at LifeHack, about how rules stifle creativity.

I like just about everything I've read of Rosa's output. This one on rules, however, made me pause and reflect upon a story I heard when I was in college.

It was a study of children playing in a schoolyard during recess. The aim of the study was to see what would happen if the playground fence was removed. Would the children experience more freedom and enjoy the openness of a fence-free playground?

When the fence was removed and the children sent out to play for recess, the researchers were surprised by the behavior of the children. Instead of fearlessly exploring the newly unbounded environment, the children huddled fearfully by the school door, afraid to play where there was no fence.

Without a fence, there was no protection. A wayward automobile could careen through. A gang of toughs could freely enter the yard. A stray dog could p…

On September 11

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me.

St. Francis

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/11/06

On HR and Happiness and Asking Good Questions

Over at Management Craft, Lisa Haneberg asked Is it time we got rid of HR? and I wrote:

What needs to change is that HR needs to "pull itself together" and reinvent itself as a strategic, systems thinking, business partner focusing (like a laser beam!) on the really important stuff, e.g.

- talent (developing, tapping, unleashing)

- culture (creating great values-based workplaces where people can flourish and do their best work)

- results (removing the obstacles, creating alignment, equipping people for success)

- profitability and growth (including a commitment to building wealth for employees)

- purpose and stewardship


Also, at The Chief Happiness Officer blog, blogger Alexander Kjerulf has made my day by adding my blog to his list of Happy At Work blogs.

And Don Blohowiak mentioned me at his blog in a piece about asking good questions.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/10/06

Getting Things In Order on Planet Earth

At ryze, CEO and blogger Ken Hilving asked a great (and I mean GREAT) question. It's like one of those questions that Bono or Stephen Hawking has posted at Yahoo Answers:

"What would it mean to have things in order on planet earth? Would order preclude change, growth, imagination, discussion, dissent, or what? Can creativity coexist with order?"

"Getting things in order on planet Earth" means, to me:

- that we settle our differences peacefully, rather than by dropping bombs, invading countries, setting up secret prisons, assassinations, etc.

- that we teach peace and stewardship to children

- that we take care of our planet...because it's all we've got

Does "order" preclude change, growth, imagination, discussion, dissent, and creativity? Not at all.

Order based on peace (rather than power and use of force) and stewardship would depend on & thrive on all of these.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/08/06

Real Leaders Ask for Help

Many years ago, when I first entered the field of Training and Development, I was sent by my employer to be certfied in a leadership development training program. One of the leadership principles taught was a simple yet powerful maxim: Ask for help in solving the problem.

At Leadership. Now, consultant and blogger Don Blohowiak has another great blog entry where he salutes Bill Ford for recognizing that Ford Motor Company needed a new leader.

An excerpt:

"But in the face of continuously declining vehicle sales and market share, Bill Ford dug deep...(and) decided to do what all wise leaders do about their limitations: Recognize them and compensate for them with the help of others.

"Bill Ford reached out to an executive whose skills and experiences were different from and complementary to his own.

"Real leadership is knowing your limitations and getting assistance to move you past what you don’t have. Real leaders ask for help.

"It took more than a little guts for a gu…

Going Bedouin

Came across this concept, "going Bedouin" via Regina Miller's blog .

Going Bedouin is a buzzword in Silicon Valley for low-overhead cost, highly virtual and mobile, very Web 2.0 companies.

An excerpt:

"Any reduction of distraction or complexity that is due to operational infrastructure is a good thing. The goal of "going Bedouin" is to create a low inertia business that takes less capital to get started and that can react with greater agility to changing conditions."

I wonder what sorts of HR and Organization Development challenges they are encountering? How are they dealing with them?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/05/06

Summoning Positive Energy

A job hunting buddy of mine asked me, How do I summon positive energy when the grind of the search tires me out? Good question.

As I think about some of the things that work for me, the common denominator is Change. Change what I'm doing. Move to a different room or spot. Go outside and take a walk, get some air, some light.

Breathe. I love certain smells. Coffee. Sage. Clean laundry. A good smell can stir up memories, change my mood, and even inspire the creative impulse.

Talk with someone. Pick up the phone. Go to a meeting. Just get some talk going. It doesn't have to be deep.

Listen to music. I've always found music to be a good transporter, a way to take me away from the present, from the burdens of the moment. Like music, the sound of bells and wind-chimes can take me away.

Read some inspirational writing. Henri Nouwen is a favorite.

What else works for you?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 09/01/06

Whatcha Thinkin'?

A couple years ago, we found it humorous when a friend of our son Kevin called him up and asked, "Whatcha thinkin'?" We still giggle over it.

It's not a bad question, however.

At Don Blohowiak's blog, he has an entry about changing your life by changing the questions you ask yourself. That sounds right to me. It reminds me of a couple of things...

1. As an undergraduate at Rutgers, I read a book called LivingWith Change by the late Wendell Johnsonwhere he advocated the use of three questions to achieve and maintain healthy relationships:

What do you mean? - This question helps clarify meaning and achieve understanding.

How do you know? - This question helps uncover assumptions, reveal facts, and discover evidence.

What then? - This question (like its twin "So What?") helps make connections, draw conclusions, and prompt actions.

2. A few years ago, I learned about an OD concept called the Engine of Success. I believe it may have originated with Peter Senge or a…

Change Your Place, Change Your Luck

According to Rabbi and blogger Alana Suskin at Kol Ra'ash Gadol, the saying "Change your place, change your luck" is an oldie, going back to ancient times, maybe even to Abraham:

And the Lord said to Abram, Get out from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you; And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you; and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.

There is something about that saying that is resonating with me...

My mother, the Jewish grand-daughter of immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, had sayings like that one. Though I can't remember hearing that one uttered when I was a kid, perhaps that maxim was "in there" somewhere, providing the stimulus for the Mystery Rides we used to take? Take a new road and see what unexpected opportunity you might find?

Maybe…

Heuristic Frameworks

Came across this cool blog entry on the "fuzzy front end" of innovation where ideas surface from employees, which leads to one on "heuristic frameworks."

I like that phrase, heuristic frameworks.

Heuristic is a word derived from Greek meaning to find. (Eureka is related.) Heuristics therefore are ways of finding stuff.

At the Heuristic Wiki, they say that heuristics is the art and science of discovery.

Way cool.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/21/06

Mystery Ride

One of my mother's favorite things to do was to take a "mystery ride" where we would get in the car and head out somewhere without a destination. And when we came to a road we did not know, we would take it...just to see where it would go.

In her memory, I have named my new blog, Mystery Ride.

This new blog will not replace this one, but will be a spin-off where the focus will be much more on the simple pleasures of everyday life.

I hope you'll check it out.

STP

Jim Murphy has a new question at the Mass Bay OD Learning Community Blog: What is the relationship between organizational development and organizational strategy?

One of my favorite organizational models is STP, for Situation-Target-Path (originated, I believe, by OD guru Richard A. Schmuck).

In reflecting upon the Situation, a strategist looks comprehensively at the current state, where the organization is at the present moment.

In reflecting upon the Target, a strategist sets objectives and goals, intended to reach some desired state.

In reflecting upon the Path, a strategist formulates action plans designed to attain the goals and thereby reach the desired state.

Organization development practitioners can help their clients in each of these phases of organizational progress.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/17/06

Re-Framing Love

Thanks to astha, I found Sanjay's blog, Simple Thoughts (great name!), where he has an entry about whether you have to "love" people to be an HR professional.

He says "...my simple advice to anybody joining HR because they love people is to just become a social worker."

Why? He provides this illustration:

"Would you do the following if you really loved people -

- Fire people to improve the profitability of the company
- Force managers to reduce the ratings of people to meet the bell curve even if they have done a good job
- Make policies to stop 2% of the population from doing wrong things inconveniencing all others
- Make life miserable for anybody who quits
- Get people to work harder even if they do not like it (without paying overtime)
"

Hmmm. Interesting point indeed. Having been in HR for over twenty years (as a Training & OD specialist), I agree that HR can often be seen as more people-hostile than people-friendly. Seldom have I ever heard HR des…

What Keeps You Up At Night?

A handy needs assessment tool I learned years ago is to ask a client: "What keeps you up at night?" In other words, What concerns are on your mind?

A CEO I worked for used to use this as a way to start off his executive retreats. The company was growing rapidly and the two areas that "kept him up at night" were People and Systems.

I received an e-mail yeaterday from HR.com about an upcoming conference where the focus will be the "Top 5 Things that Keep HR Up at Night." They are:

1. How do I get a seat at the executive table?
2. How can I take advantage of technology to get more efficient, effective and innovative?
3. What can I do to take a dysfunctional team from unproductive to extraordinary?
4. How can I make employees excited to come to work?
5. How can I bring humanity back into HR and the rest of my organization?


Not a bad agenda.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/10/06

Hold Hands and Run Together

At Astha's blog, in an entry about leadership, she tells the following little story:

"In my bachelor’s social psychology course, my teacher used to tell us a story of how some social scientists went to an Indian village. There, as an experiment, they organized a race between some kids and told them that kids who got to the line fastest, would get sweets. To their shock the kids all held hands and ran to the line together. To the children, that seemed like the most natural thing to do. I think we need to learn how to hold hands and run together — that ought to be the true definition of leadership."

What a great image!

Astha says: "...the more you look around the world, the more evident it becomes that unless we learn how to share and be in community with people around us...none of us are going to get anywhere..."

A refreshingly different view of leadership. One based on the notion of sharing and community.

I love it!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/09/06

The Lasting Impact of Leaders

Consultant and blogger Don Blohowiak has an entry about the legacy of leaders, where he writes: "Whoa! The legacy of your actions as an individual leader may be more important than any of us thought."

Earlier in her career, my wife Joan was an elementary school music teacher. She taught many little kids in those days.

Fast forward to today, my wife is the music director at our church. It's not unusual for her to meet some of her former students when they come to her to plan their weddings.

They still call her "Miss Best" and they can still sing some of the ditties and folk songs that Joan had taught them when they were young.

I offer this as an example of one category of leaders, in this case teachers, who have a lasting impact. Certainly on the lives of their students. And probably on the world as well.

Last year, I heard the Dalai Lama speak at Rutgers. One of the things he recommended that we do right away is start teaching peace to children. If we start no…

Findability

Organization development consultant and author Fred Nickols crowed the other day that his article on change management showed up first on a Google search for that phrase. I complimented him on his "high findability."

Findability: "the quality of being locatable . . . to what degree a particular object is easy to discover or locate"

That's a good thing these days, for researchers, students, detectives, librarians. Even consultants.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/03/06

Making A Dent In The Universe

At the Life Coaches Blog, I came across the slogan, "make a dent in the universe," that apparently is attributable to Apple's Steve Jobs:

"We're here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why even be here? We're creating a completely new consciousness, like an artist or a poet. That’s how you have to think of this. We're rewriting the history of human thought with what we're doing."

It even showed up in a commencement speech:

"Remember to see each challenge and even conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow. Dare to be the different voice and embrace those different voices that might help you reach better decisions for the good of our society. "Make a dent in the universe" and, most important of all, make us proud to say--and tell others--that you are Denison University graduate!"

Kinda cool, I'd say. It reminds me of a conversation I had a couple months ago with a friend who said that what Life is all about is &qu…

Wikiality

College senior and blogger Corey Spring, at newsvine.com, has an entry about the ruckus that comedian Stephen Colbert caused at Wikipedia.

I like Colbert's comment on wikiality: "Bringing democracy to knowledge."

He is a very funny guy. And he's right about wikiality.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/01/06

Choosing Marginality

After posting the blog entry pointing to Paul Graham's essay about good ideas coming from the margins, I shared the link with my Organization Development colleagues at ODNet. This produced an interesting exchange of ideas, on-going.

I think I first encountered the concept of marginality in OD a long time ago (early 70's) in discussions about collusion.

In 1988, in a strong critique of the state of OD, Margulies and Raia commented that OD consultants are "in bed with" their clients. They wrote:

"It is our belief that OD practitioners have become an integral part of this collusion. The field has been and continues to be technology-driven. Many practitioners have become routine in their applications; they have succumbed to management pressure for the quick fix, the emphasis on the bottom line, and the cure-all mentality; they have failed to maintain "marginality" in their roles as consultants and helpers to management- they are for all intents and purpose…

Simple Gifts

On our walk this morning, my wife Joan and I were deconstructing the Shaker dance tune "Simple Gifts:"

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.


What does it mean "to come down where we ought to be?" And why is that a gift?

I looked up the word "simple" and found that it comes from the Latin simplex meaning single, the opposite of complex. A simple gift, therefore, is just one thing: basic, essential, and indivisible.

With that in mind, I think the Shakers were trying to achieve a simple way of life. That's where they felt they "ought to be." In that place, free of the complications and complexities of the Outside Worl…
A 14 Year Old Girl And Her Cat?

Is that who is blogging? Well, according to a new study, yes.

But blogger Kai (the Wordpress Wonderwoman) is incensed!

As for me, I am the oddball as usual, falling into a completely different demographic: over 50, male, and allergic to (most) cats.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/24/06

Blogging Your Brand...On Purpose

What separates an effective blog from all the rest? This blogger says: a clear purpose.

Execunet, an organization devoted to assisting executive level job hunters, says that today's savvy candidate will have a blog that helps create and market her unique brand to potential employers.

Sounds good to me.

But be sure it is built on a foundation of purpose.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/21/06
Losing Deeply Embedded Employees

Here is a news item with some food for thought around the connection between turnover and productivity.

It addresses an issue --the effect of losing employees who are deeply embedded and well-connected (employees that bridge structural gaps inside organizations)-- that organizations endure all the time, but is usually not managed and not measured. I wonder if leaders in organizations actually care?

The last time I experienced it (during the takeover of my last employer, and subsequent downsizings), one of my colleagues colorfully described the daily loss of these key players as "burning down libraries." Later, when that very person left the company, there was disruption in operations for weeks.

The bottom line: Losses in social capital can impact performance and profit.

The question for business leaders, HR, and OD: Should we care? If you answer Yes, what can we do about it?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/17/06