Showing posts from May, 2012

Lovely Day

The schedule this past week hasn't allowed opportunities to write here (lots of writing elsewhere).  I work better with Pandora playing in the background and understand the science behind that (a post for another day).  Sometimes, like during the Steely Dan story the other day I'll use the database of songs I have, but Pandora provides an interesting mix which gives me opportunities to hear things I don't already own regardless of age.

     After a couple of weeks sans family while they're spread out around the country and in the Middle East it will be nice to have two of them back home next week.  The dogs certainly missed them as well.  So while it's an odd 50 degrees and raining here today as I create multiple PowerPoint lectures to turn into videos (all of which end up at Slideshare and YouTube for the lifelong learner); these two songs came up back to back and were perfect for missing my wife.  Always loved Bill Withers, and this one ranks higher for me …

Every Day Memorial

I never had the honor, privilege and responsibility of serving in the U.S. military, though I come from a long line of those who have.  I certainly could have used the training and discipline 30+ years ago when I was too young and rebellious to listen to nearly anyone.  The list below tells you more about family history than about me, but we're all called to be who we are, and not someone else.  They all answered the call that was placed upon their lives over the years.  As an update from this original posting, both young men are at their respective jobs 300 miles apart in Afghanistan.

     My great-great-great-great grandfather, John F. Peck served in the Civil War. My great-grandfather, Robert Wells, who graduated Buchanan high school in 1906 and became a dentist served in WWI.  My grandfather was kept home, but he had brothers who served. My father served in the Navy on the U.S.S. Enterprise.  My brother was a Navy intelligence reservist for over 20 years, while much of w…

The Royal Scam

I haven't recently seen a What Five Albums Would You Want on a Desert Island list floating around my social networks, which is just fine.  If I was taking some cruise to a remote part of the world, I'd have to be carrying a solar powered computer or music player.  Five wouldn't cut it for someone with 35,000 purchased songs on hard drives.

     For all of us though there is a dominant period between 13 and 24 that becomes the music of our life, and for many, one particular artist that we carry with us. For me that will always be Steely Dan.  I own every album, which by the way I miss over digital audio but that's a different story.

    Donald Fagen and Walter Becker wrote stories that speak to the heart, mind and spirit with some of the finest musicians ever assembled in the studio for many years. At least to mine, and they still do. The chord changes, horn sections, and craftsmanship of weaving music and lyrics is simply unmatched for me. We'll start with Th…

What's Missing in Strategic Planning ~ Pt 1

We tackle 20 year problems with five year plans staffed by two year personnel funded by one year appropriations.  Harlan Cleveland
      Over the past month I've watched with interest a discussion thread on LinkedIn titled What's Missing from Strategic Planning. Having been involved in strategic planning for over 20 years and teaching both theory and practice at the graduate level for Siena Heights University I of course have no opinion on the matter.
     Here's some direct quotes I've heard in the past nine months from executives and organizational leaders (not necessarily the same thing).

"We had a strategic plan in 2004 and it's sat on the shelf ever since."
 "I saw it once, but it's 60 pages long and who's got time  with all of the daily work we have to accomplish."
"We spend a week working on it every year, then change the dates on last year's plan."      Across the country I have seen a startling move to strategic plan…

A Measure of Leadership

In our small part of the world with global impact the PGA recently ascended upon the community for the 73rd Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Club at Harbor Shores.  You might say ascended?, but descended doesn't describe the opportunity.
     Having discussed the very long, hard fought and expensive journey in Economic Growth, Vision and Reality, High Hopes, and The Art of Business recently, I don't mean to belabor the point. However two stories in the Herald Palladium since Friday show how visionary and innovative many individuals and organizations have been. In particular, two key community leaders are worth discussing.  It's unfortunate that the paper's ownership has a skewed vision of internet news, so if you read these stories two weeks after publishing, you'd have to pay to read them.  For that, I apologize.
     Ron Schults graduated from St. Joseph, Michigan high school in 1974, graduated in 1978 from…

Who Before What - Jim Collins

Often these past couple of years organizational leaders have said to me "I believe in Jim Collins and getting the right people on the bus."  In most cases these individuals are highly respected and very successful.  A number of them not coincidentally, moved back into the private sector after serving in the military. For those who haven't read Good to Great, Collins himself has a great synopsis at his website, but I'd encourage you to read the book.

     While the myths of what drives change that Collins' research busts (platforms, bonuses, programs, fear, mergers and acquisitions, technology and revolution), the importance of putting people first doesn't stop when we get the right individuals on the bus.  Assuming from the analogy that we're the driver implies constantly scanning the road ahead, steering the organization, and controlling the speed. Consider though, if you remember your last bus ride, drivers also have at least one mirror that looks…


The schedule yesterday through the end of the week is rather overwhelming and I've been reminded recently of the vision and majesty of the work by Supertramp.  The big break in the U.S. came with Breakfast in America in 1979, but it's the second release in 1974 Crime of the Century that often finds my headphones more often.
     We'll start with the School which fits so well with Sir Ken Robinson's work.

     Certainly the industrialization of public education from it's inception in the late 1800's has marginalized creativity, innovation, and individualization but there's a great movement afoot changing that. If you haven't seen the Ken Robinson RSA Animate video on Changing Paradigms, it's well worth the time. The results for many in their search for a place on the economic ladder leads us to Rudy. 

     "Rudy thought that all good things comes to those that wait.  
       But recently he could see that it may come too late."



Recently a front page lead story in the Herald Palladium was about a $15,000 a year comptroller for a small grocery store chain who had embezzled $6.4 million dollars in the past seven years.  It seems that arrests for embezzlement appear every other month.  How the accused in this case, or the already convicted in others involving churches, local governments, small businesses and even very large corporations don't know from the beginning that their misdeeds will come to light confounds me.

     Though I do believe a much too high percentage of Americans, given the choice between stealing $50+ billion dollars over 20+ years like Madoff and then spending retirement at taxpayer expense would take that choice.

     My second thought on the matter was how poor the governance (oversight) is in many organizations on Main Street, let alone Wall Street. Here are three simple rules to follow no matter the size of the firm.
If you have checks coming in the mail, the person who opens th…

High Hopes

In our small but beautiful part of the world we're just days away from welcoming visitors from around the world for the 2012 Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores.  Players from at least 15 countries will begin arriving shortly and what has been decades of work by countless volunteers and visionary leadership from many different walks of life will be shared globally on television. I'm expecting phenomenal weather and even better golf for those who join us leading up to Memorial Day.
      I've already seen automatic email responses from a number of local individuals volunteering who aren't going to be available until after the final ball drops Sunday, May 27th. The construction around this amazing course to handle the golfers, fans, media, sponsors, employees and volunteers is exciting to watch.  I used to do play-by-play for the Western Amateur at the Point O'Woods on WSJM when it was still here. There is something inspirational about the…

Human Disaster or New Reality?

Sunday marked a new chapter in collaboration as the New York Times published an Op-Ed by Dean Baker, co-founder of  the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Kevin Hassett, senior fellow and director of economic policy studies at the American Economic Institute entitled The Human Disaster of Unemployment. Last night the two shared a round table discussion on the PBS News Hour. To say that in general they sit on the opposite side of political theory is even more obvious by Hassett's 2008 article for Bloomberg titled How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis.  Nonetheless the two are in complete agreement that neither party was ready for the "great recession", nor is either party leading in a real recovery.

     As discussed in Knowledge Transfer a few days ago, the number of unemployed and underemployed in their 50's and 60's who've been in that state for more than six months continues to increase, as Hassett points out.  Baker points to the …

Lean Innovation?

Five years ago Brian Hindu wrote an article for Bloomberg Businessweek about 3M and how Total Quality Management and Six Sigma movements dramatically decreased their number of patents and new product introductions as number crunching and efficiency stifled innovation and creativity.

     There's a quote (of many) in Gary Hamel's latest book What Matters Now I love: "If life had adhered to Six Sigma rule, we'd still be slime. Whatever the future holds for us bipeds, we can be sure that happy accidents will always be essential to breakthrough innovation (p. 42)." 

     Yet Hamel also discusses the incredibly strong innovative culture at Whirlpool, an organization highly vested in Lean training and methods.  The difference between the two examples occurs when our organizations steer too far in either direction.

Jonah Lehrer in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works and in a recent NPR interview talks about the intermingling of different expertise for Pixar …

Philosophy, Psychology and Math

On a regular basis with both my undergraduate and graduate students we'll discuss how there are three things in this life that determine one's level of success and or happiness (because achieving one doesn't necessarily require the other).
Philosophy: What do we believe about the meaning and purpose of life and how does it then lead us to behave?  For me this includes one's theology regardless of logic as logic models can't solve every human problem.Psychology: How well do we understand ourselves as well as the behavior of others which allows us to interact productively, innovate and grow.Math:Can we live within our means and balance a checkbook, or at least save more than we spend if we don't use checking accounts.      If we don't know what we believe or even desire to understand ourselves, we lack a foundation to stand upon with which we build a case for activity or action.  We follow whatever seems "popular" at the moment and blindly wand…

One Small Moment

The overcast skies with little thunder
Rain interspersed with the sand
The early blooms confused by Michigan March
Less snow all season long
Than we used to see in a month

An early morning visit to the doctor
Hoping for back alignment
A symbol when life itself seems
Disjointed from so many attentions
And Dreams of years long gone

Hope slips in like the sun
Through the clouds outside
After rests between the tasks
Which daily adjust to the souls
That wander into shared space

Looking for an omen of purpose
An inkling of direction amidst
Their own inner storms
And grateful for a hearing ear
A soft word of comfort peace

That opens the universe anew
With salve to heal old scars
The eyes alight and glimmering
For paths hitherto not walked
Revealed in a moment of grace

Dream Flat Tires - Joni Mitchell.

The One Thing in Leadership

One can find in small moments of many movies a level of absolute truth.  There's a thirty-second sequence below in City Slickers (1991) with Bill Crystal and Jack Palance that fits as one example.

   We all need to find that one thing in ourselves, as well as those with similar passions who we can collaborate and innovate with.  When it comes to leadership though and the thousands of studies, published research and books on the subject, the one thing is trust.

     If you're not familiar with the full range of leadership model(Avolio, 1999; Bass & Riggio, 2006) this graphic from my presentation last year at the Midwest Academy of Management in Omaha gives the basic concept.  These are basic definitions only.
    Laissez Faire is simply hands off managers who pretty much ignore the team.
    Management by exception (MBE) in either its' passive or aggressive form isn't much better, taking an active role only when there's perceived errors.

Knowledge Transfer

There is a large contingent of 45-65 year old knowledge workers in America without work in this economy, or without meaningful full time gainful employment. Many were downsized as for profit organizations looked for ways to meet quarterly earnings and funding for non-profits continues to shrink (as it has since George W. Bush's first term). We wouldn't claim age discrimination because the unemployment rate for 25-34 year olds is higher but surely you know someone who heard the "we're going in a different direction," or "we're outsourcing your department."   Still the fact older workers have a much harder time finding a job simply because they cost more than fresh college graduates.

     I know in part because I was one, but also just from the number of professionals with solid experience and tremendous expertise who are trying to to find meaningful work.  Several I know who were downsized are fortunate enough to be hired back as subcontractors…

The Art of Business

A wonderful conversation with Gregory B. Ladewski yesterday afternoon resulted in a stunning book on my desk this morning.  It's called Tee Markers: Flame & Flower, Glass & Steel.   The high gloss table top format both tells and shows the story of the collaboration between the Jack Nicklaus SignatureGolf Club at Harbor Shores and the Benton Harbor Arts District in creation of unique tee markers for each of the 18 holes.  Water Street Glassworks in particular through board president Anne Odden with Master glass blower Jerry Catania and celebrated metal artist Josh Andres.  The extraordinary photography was done by David Knight.

     As the introductory text states: "Each marker is a work of art in its own right celebrating one of Jack Nicklaus' record eighteen major titles, and each is dedicated to a native plant or tree...Harbor Shores' mixed media markers integrate golfing history, varied habitats, and one-of-a-kind, museum quality sculptures, unified th…