Monday, January 29, 2007

Making Sense of Stuff

I really like the concept of sensemaking, ever since first encountering it as an undergrad at Rutgers a looooong time ago.

Currently, sensemaking is hot in the blogosphere:

Dan has a really good series going on.

Jim muses on his sensemaking practices.

Patti points to some sensemaking events.

And Rich offers his approach.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/29/07

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Amazing Stuff from Astha

Being busy on a consulting assignment, I haven't had time to post. But I have kept tabs on some of my favorite bloggers, such as Astha, who has been publishing some amazing pieces such as:

Open Source and Change through Improvisation where she muses on applying the idea of "open source" design to management and organization development.

Boring Goody Two Shoes Ineffective HR where she joins me in responding to another blogger's post on HR's role in leading change.

None of Our Business? where she talks about shibumi and wonders if it is a valid topic for business. (I think it is too, Astha.)

The Thorn in Our Sides: More on Performance Appraisals where she tackles one of my favorite topics and makes a startling and magnificent leap from traditional thinking on the issue to Peter Senge's formula for creating adaptive organizations! (Way to go!)

Disobedience, Creativity & Lightbulbs where she mentions my piece on "intelligent disobedience" along with a sprinkling of other interesting blog links.

Why I love OD where, like many other deeply committed ODers, she muses about why she entered the field and what it's all about.

There's a lot more at Astha's blog including musings on power, happiness, spirituality, as well as great photo albums from her travels.

Great stuff. Keep on blogging, Astha.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/27/07

Saturday, January 20, 2007

You Are NOT an Agent of Change

Management consultant and blogger Luc Galoppin flatly declares that HR is NOT a change agent. HR, he says, is about continuity and stability:

HR safeguards continuity in the organization. Let’s face it: By their very nature, the fundamental HR processes are aimed at safeguarding stability.

While he makes a logical argument, I don't agree with the conclusion.

HR has the opportunity to be an agent of change in many critical areas; for example:

  • Talent Acquisition: Designing recruitment and selection processes that attract the best
  • Talent Development: Designing training and development processes that increase capability
  • Talent Retention: Designing performance management and compensation strategies that motivate and retain
  • Organization Development: Designing organizational effectiveness processes (such as leadership development) that renew and strengthen the organization
  • Employee Relations: Designing engagement and alignment strategies that drive productivity

In this era of outsourcing, offshoring, and cost cutting, HR is feeling a lot of pressure. So is IT, Supply Chain, Engineering, and other enabling support functions that don't directly bring in revenue.

How does HR avoid being pushed to the margin? How does HR demonstrate the value it adds?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/20/07

Friday, January 19, 2007

All Choked Up

Last night, I read Regina's farewell post, saying that she will be signing off for awhile. I was saddened.

But she goes on to say "I am going to resurrect HR's Brand New Experience via in the spring after my journey to India. "

So she will be back. I'm happy about that.

Today I'm sitting here wondering why I should even care what another blogger does or doesn't do? Regina and I have never met; we are certainly not old friends. So why the emotions when I read her news?

In her second paragraph, Regina says the following:

It feels weird that I will going "blogless" for a few months. Yea, it has become an identity for me - I am blogger! It's given me the chance to think, to write, to formulate ideas, to communicate with smart, smart people who I have come to trust and depend on in my network - Dubs, Gautam, Astha, Terrence, Shannon, Bruce, Max, Lisa, Anita, Diane, Dennis, Don, Recruiting Animal, and so many others. I will keep up with you via your blogs and goings-on.

Regina, You are right. It does feel weird. We bloggers are connecting and forming relationships. It's a new kind of relationship.

Though most bloggers I have encountered are truly strangers to me, I have noticed curious signs of community where wisdom is shared; affirmations are given; even caring is sometimes displayed.

Bon voyage, Regina. Have a great time in India. We will watch for your return.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/19/07

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Be Happy

A friend sent this to me:

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/10/07

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Intelligent Disobedience

Yesterday, while driving through the Blue Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, I caught a radio interview with someone who trains German Shepherd dogs to become Seeing Eye dogs, dogs that guide the blind. An important part of the training, she explained, is to teach the dogs "intelligent disobedience."

Intelligent disobedience means that the dog must learn not only when to obey the commands of the blind person, but when to disobey commands that might put their owner in danger.

What a wonderful concept.

I later found out, via Google search, that the concept has been adopted by some in the field of Project Management (or example, here, and here) as a way to combat scope creep and other PM ills. How well it is practiced is another matter entirely.

Seems to me that this concept has wide application. For instance, parenting. Good parents probably teach this skill unknowingly. Sooner or later, little kids learn to say "no" and refuse commands, usually to the parents' chagrin. But it's an important, potentially life-saving ability.

Another application is supervisory management development. While there has long been a tradition of teaching supervisors how to effectively handle insubordination on the part of workers, perhaps there should be a counterpoint that focuses on intelligent disobedience? In some scenarios (such as where safety is paramount), it could save lives.

And perhaps the ultimate application is in the field of organization development, where leaders are attempting to build a highly adaptive and successful organization. Unless the organization has a way to overcome its own blindness and detect a real and present danger, it may get run over.

An organizational learning process that teaches intelligent disobedience, and a corporate culture that supports it, will help bolster organizational effectiveness.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/4/07

Monday, January 01, 2007


Last night, in Times Square, tons of confetti, tiny pieces of paper, were dumped on the crowd. Only this year it was wordfetti, each scrap carrying a word such as peace, joy, hope, and celebrate.

Good words for a new year.

What would you put on your wordfetti? I'd put: listen, learn, change.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/1/07