Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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 Living With Change by the late Wendell Johnson where 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 another Systems Thinking guru?

At any rate, the Engine of Success says that our thinking is part of a larger cycle that includes relationships, actions, and results:

The Quality of Our Relationships has an impact on our thinking...

The Quality of Our Thinking affects our choices...

The Quality of Our Actions determines the outcomes we get...

The Quality of Our Results affects our relationships...and the cycle continues.

As Ken Modesitt says: As the quality of relationships rises, the quality of thinking improves, leading to an increase in the quality of actions and results. Achieving high quality results has a positive effect on the quality of relationships, creating a reinforcing engine of success.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/30/06

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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 that's why her grandparents left their homes in the Old World and trekked to America?

They must have had a strong faith in that saying. I wonder if I'd have the courage to take a journey like they did? A journey so far from the familiar? A one-way journey to a strange place?

My wife and I just got back from visiting some dear friends who retired and now live in Maine, about a ten hour drive from New Jersey. Where they live is about as remote as you can get, five hours north of Portland, in the "Down East" coastal area of Maine. They moved there from NJ a few years ago, to get away from the crowding and expense of living in the NY metropolitan area.

They are proof of the saying "Change your place, change your luck." Though they are far from their children and grandchildren, they are so happy with the life they have in Maine. It is so much better for them now. To us, they seem blissful.

As we were driving back to NJ, we wondered if you have to move that change your luck?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/29/06

Monday, August 21, 2006

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

Saturday, August 19, 2006

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


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

Friday, August 11, 2006

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 " 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 described as "loving."

However, I think there is room in the HR "tent" even for those whose main motivation is "love" of people. But maybe "love" is the problem. The word "love" may be too loaded a word for the hard-nosed MBAs out there. So let's reframe "love."

Look at the Talent Management movement, picking up such steam in industry. By definition, it's all about talent (i.e., people): finding good talent, hiring it, training it, utilizing it, moving it around, paying it, retaining it, and sometimes terminating it. Within TM there seems to be a renewed recognition that talent (i.e., people) is an organization's most important resource.

So where is HR in this Talent Management stuff? Hopefully, right at the center, leading and facilitating the TM process.

So, to return to Sanjay. He says that when he interviews HR candidates he asks:

" why do you want to join HR? why did you choose HR as your calling?"

Maybe a good answer would be: Just as a coach finds talent and develops the players on his team in order to win games and come in first, HR does the same for the organization it serves: HR finds talent and develops people in pursuit of the organization's goals.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/11/06

Thursday, August 10, 2006

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 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

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

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

Monday, August 07, 2006

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 now, he said, maybe in 100 years we will see the fruit of that endeavor.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/07/06

Thursday, August 03, 2006


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

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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 "leaving a hole." At first, I didn't get his meaning, but after some more conversing I interpreted his stance as akin to "leaving one's mark."

The way I prefer to put it is that I want to make the world a better place.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/02/06

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


College senior and blogger Corey Spring, at, 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