Yearly Archives: 2015

If it’s Complicated, Manage…If it’s Complex, LEAD

 |  Leadership

Complicated businessOne of the central principles of 20th Century Organizational Leadership was the ability of humans to manage highly complicated organizations.  This was done by looking at the goal of the organization as an endpoint or an output and predicting all of the many small steps and actions needed to achieve success, and then doing them.  Dependencies were considered, alternative scenarios were analyzed, and contingency plans made. Budgeting and forecasting became an art and by the end of the 20th century began to be supported by massive amounts of computerized data.  The goal was to break each action, each contingency, each scenario into small, simple, easily recognized and understood actions, which if adhered to reliably created a desired result.  This led to ever more efficient operationalization.  Workers in carefully defined narrow specialties became highly efficient in executing that specialty.  Managers led their workers by controlling the responsibility of each worker and commanding them on how to accomplish their contribution to the organization’s endeavors.  Thus cars, airplanes and power plants could be manufactured in progressively efficient ways making them cheaper to produce.  Relying on the same principle of breaking complicated matters onto small efficient parts,  wars were waged faster and with less loss of American life as the Century progressed and closed.

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Leadership, Courage & The Small “t” truth

Group of Multiethnic Business People in Meeting

In a prior posting my business partner, Debra Bowles, expressed the courage it took to speak her small “t”  truth in front of her executive peers in response to a CEO’s inquiry.  I am often struck by the use of the word courage in business today and curious if the word is used in a way that encourages leadership in a positive manner or whether it is so loaded with mis-meaning that the actual experience of courage is impaired.

One reason that courage may not convey a felt sense is the dictionary’s definition reflects idealized social attributes or affected social attributes instead of human ones. Words such as pluck, nerve, valor, daring, and guts… are nice ideals, but all of us know from experience, that when courage is called for it is much more impactful and transcendent than the dictionary definitions.

So what gives?  When is leadership courageous and when is it not? read more

The Power of the small “t” truth


I was raised to respect authority, almost to a fault, and my Dad spoke most of the Truth in our family.   I was a senior executive in a large organization for 14 years and there was much Truth spoken with great belief and force.  I am intentionally using a capital T because to me it designates an opinion or belief that is spoken with strong conviction, yet is rarely open for other opinions, input or honest dialogue.   Capital “T” Truth can stifle innovation and collaboration with a single sentence.

In the Four-Fold Way, Angeles Arrien developed four principles to provide clarity for thriving in today’s complex world of constant change.1 Her third principle is: read more