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Showing posts from July, 2006

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
Home Free

Just a week ago, my church, St. Matthias Roman Catholic in Somerset NJ, finished participating in our first foray into the Interfaith Hospitality Network. In a nutshell, we played host to several homeless families for two weeks. Before us, these guests stayed with another church elsewhere in the area. After us, they were off to another church...or maybe to their own apartment or home.

Sheltering the homeless is the right thing to do.

Via a posting about One Laptop Per Child by Greg Deatz, I picked up a link to Astha's blog , about providing laptops to people in India, where she provides a link to a Wired article about how the internet is empowering the homeless, which led to this blogger who is homeless.

Another example of "following the bread crumbs" in the blogosphere!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/16/06
Is MySpace Subversive?

Friend, IT Guy, and blogger Greg Deatz is wondering if new technology can be a subversive and disruptive force in society. He asks, Is the path to enlightenment through disruption and subversion?

Interesting questions. The answer is probably "Yes" and depends on how you view words like "subversive" and "disruptive."

Words like subversion and disruption are loaded with connotations sometimes. Subversion, for example, sounds vaguely unpatriotic, like somebody plotting the overthrow of the government. And disruption sounds vaguely anarchic, like somebody plotting to blow up the telephone switching building.

To Greg's question, Is the path to enlightenment through subversion and disruption? In the West our paradigm, I believe, has always been that the path to enlightenment is through education that forms and shapes a person.

Maybe "subversion and disruption" are simply methods of education?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/14…
Socio-Technical Zen

KM guru and blogger Dinesh Tantri at Organic KM has a cool entry on the new socio-technical wave in organizational learning.

I like his 4 steps =

1. Find/Filter - This is the step where people in an organization use "machine intelligence + community filtering (to locate and sort through) relevant content and conversations"

2. Sensemaking

3. Act

4. Reflect

...though I wonder if it is really three steps, where step one is woven into the dynamic of sensemaking? Anyhow, great thoughts.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/13/06
Good Ideas Come From the Margins

So says Paul Graham in this interesting essay.


Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/12/06
The OD Truck

While running some errands this morning, a truck passed me. It was one of those big overnight delivery trucks. On the side in huge letters it said OD. Next to that was a promise of OD service and OD technology.

As an OD (Organization Development) Guy, this OD (Overnight Delivery) truck resonated with me. As far as I know, there are no organization development consultants who operate out of trucks. (Although, as part of a technology roll-out, I once rode in the trucks of service technicians to coach them in the use of their new on-board computers.)

But it got me thinking about what we, in organization development, do from a service delivery standpoint.

~ What do we promise?

~ What service do we provide?

~ What technology supports what we do?

~ What can our customers depend on?


Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/11/06
Gotta Big Question? Ask the Internet.

Stephen Hawking and Bono have some big questions and they want lots of input from a global sample. How are they getting it? Go to the internet.

Hawking wants to know: How can the human race survive the next hundred years?

Bono wants to know: What can we do to make poverty history?

I've responded to both, along with tens of thousands of other people. I wonder how Hawking and Bono will weed through all the answers to find the gems?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/10/06
The Most Valuable 10%

Here is a great idea.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/10/06
If You Want Innovation, Empower the People

Here is a management consultant and blogger who straddles the fields of innovation and Web 2.0. His motto: Turning knowledge workers into innovation creators using Web Office Technology. His blog has a most interesting manifesto for the folks in Knowledge Mgmt.

I made the same point about blogs and wikis here back in January.

Plus: Here's a blog entry that provides an overview of blogs and wikis in the business world.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/09/06
Are You "T" Shaped?

Blogger Dorai, at Dorai's Learn Log, has a cool entry about some of the characteristics of good bloggers.

I hope I measure up well. The one about being "T" shaped is intriguing: the T-shaped blogger has a deep interest in some subject(s), with a broad cross-disciplinary interest in many diverse areas.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 07/06/06
Post-Independence Day

Last night, as we attended a dazzling fireworks display, my wife commented, "I wonder if the American Indians are celebrating this day?"

In that spirit, this speech given in 1987 by Thurgood Marshall is worth reading.

The work of building a just and free society --based on such principles as life, liberty, equality, and happiness expressed in the Declaration of Independence-- is far from over.

The vision, articulated so long ago, is still out there, beckoning,
yet to be attained.

Here is one poet's version of what America desires to be:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With …
Near Miss

In the world of industrial safety there is an important concept called "near miss" (which should really be "near hit," but . . . oh well) that refers to an incident that might have been an accident, but wasn't.

Like someone opening an office door into a hallway and almost hitting someone who was walking in that hallway. Or someone operating a forklift truck who almost runs into a worker.

You may ask, "Hey, If an accident did not occur, why should I care?" You care because one of the best ways to improve safety is to heighten everyone's awareness of it. Tracking and discussing near misses is one way to do just that. Learning from near misses and making proactive improvements in the safety of the work environment is a great way to prevent serious safety incidents from ever happening in the first place.

The planet Earth just had a near miss. Several hours ago, in the early morning hours of July 3, an asteroid whizzed by, just beyond the …

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Blogger and consultant Dick Richards is seeking powerful questions to guide us in our search for purpose and fulfillment.

One question that is so common, so ordinary, that it has probably achieved cliche status, is What do I want to be when I grow up?

This annoying question has popped up continually through my 51 years and I have a feeling it will be with me like a bad penny for the next 51 (if I live that long).

But as annoying as it can be, it’s also like an old friend that comes and goes, in and out, of your life, popping back up when you least expect it, and despite the passage of time, you can pick up right where you left off.

Just the other day, I was sitting in my back-yard with a nearly-50 friend who is losing her job. Sharing a bottle of Italian red wine, we found ourselves laughing, envisioning the future, and asking each other, So, What do YOU want to be when you grow up?

Why does this question seem to have such staying power? I wonder if it’s because we never stop growing? We n…
And with your spirit

As a practicing Catholic, I am an observer of the Church and its positions on various matters. Sometimes I scratch my head in wonder, like the latest item I saw today where the Church is considering immediate excommunication for any stem cell researcher. Huh? Wasn't Jesus'message about healing the sick and affirming life?

Or this item from a few weeks ago where the Vatican is appealing to the Anglicans not to ordain women. What the heck? Didn't Jesus call women to his way as well as men?

The Church is its own worst enemy sometimes.

Recently however the American Catholic bishops issued a press release regarding some further changes to the Mass, including one that I like a lot. It would be a distinct improvement, in my humble opinion.

Currently, the following exchange occurs several times in the Mass:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
Congregation: And also with you.

When the change goes into effect, we will say:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
Congregation: A…