Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Essential Resolution for 2012

Did you know:

- The average American spends 8 hours a day in front of a “screen” per day which has doubled since 2005.

- The average American teen, sends and receives over 75 texts/day.

I am going to resolve to do what is essential.

I’m going to reduce the number of hours in front of “screens” including TV, computer, and cell phone.

I’m going to practice more deep breathing and create more stillness everyday.

I'm going to spend more time thinking, journaling, writing, mind mapping and doodling.

I’m going to do less talking and more listening, less judging and more understanding.

I’m going to work harder at making Sunday, a day of rest, unplug, connect with family and friends, read, walk/hike, ride my bike, and play Scrabble with my wife.

I am going to spend more time seizing the day.

See you on a park bench, a coffee cafe (without TV), French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Battery Park Book Exchange, on the trails, in a pew, in a living room (TV off)... !?

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person." Benjamin Franklin

Note: Susan Cain had an OP-ED piece in the NY Times, 1/13/12, Rise of the New Groupthink for another perspective to this blog. See

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reduce The VUCAs in 2012

As 2011 draws to a close, individuals and organizations begin to plan for the New Year. 2011 has not been too kind to hopes, dreams and plans. VUCAs have been fiercely at work!

Back in the 1990’s, the military added the acronym, VUCA to its vocabulary. VUCA stands for:

- Volatility - change is coming at a faster pace and dealing with transition can be messy

- Uncertainty - our ability to predict the future is becoming less meaningful and trustworthy

- Complexity - is increasing including knowledge, communication channels and distraction leading to increased confusion

- Ambiguity - made up of assumptions, poor communications, fuzzy rules, false readings leading to fog

VUCA is code for acknowledging the root cause of stress, frustration, indecisiveness, bad behavior, poor performance, weak execution, short outcomes, and incomplete strategic plans.

As VUCA’s come upon us, the cry becomes, “I/we don’t have enough ___________!” Blame-storming ensues. Short cuts are taken. Ethics are ignored. Greed increases.

What do you do to minimize, reduce or eliminate VUCAs?

Make time. The time issue always becomes apparent when working with a group during an experiential initiative. The initiative that includes a time allotment, creates stress, generates anxiety and becomes an enemy to positive outcomes. Make time an ally! Use your resources more effectively by breaking groups into smaller groups to flush out fresh, unique ideas. Do not be quick to throw water on an idea that goes against your thinking or the current process. Instead of a “Yes, but...” try a “Yes, and...”

The Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, it offers a clue to dealing with VUCA.

I notice most organizations or teams (as well as individuals) who go through a strategic planning process seldom discuss the “what ifs’...” as in:

  • What if a key member(s) of the team leaves or dies?
  • What if a natural disaster hits like hurricane, tornado or wildfire?
  • What if served with a lawsuit?
  • What if the economy tanks?
  • What if ___________________?

Simplify. Simplify stuff. Simply processes. Simplify lifestyles.

Lean into flexibility. The tree that bends in the wind will survive over the tree that is stiff and rigid.

I am reminded of Robert Fulghum’s epic piece, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Fulghum’s writing is a lesson in leadership and holds truths and wisdom to deal with VUCA’s. See

When you go out into the world, will you watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear? Do You See What I See?

Note: The traditional Christmas song, Do You Hear What I Hear? was written and composed by Noel Regney and Gloria Baker back in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a plea for peace. Perhaps we should pause and reflect on the song’s message for our current need not only for peace in the world but for healing from turmoil and chaos of the times. Pause. Push back. Breathe. Meditate on what is really important.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

The season of Thanksgiving is melding into the season of Light. What I considered to be the most pure of our national holidays seems to be turning into a prep and fuel for one our darker sides, Black Friday, aka, Dark Friday.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

Dark Friday seems to be bigger and greedier than ever. Malls and big box stores are opening earlier and earlier. News reports an estimated 1 in 4 of us participated in Dark Friday. Retailers report the Dark Friday phenomenon (which now begins on Thanksgiving Day) as “so successful” and “so positive.” For our nation whose economy is built on consumption, this may seem like good news. “It’s a good move to try to get shoppers to spend sooner, before they run out of money,” says Burt Flickinger III, president of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. Yet, words like jammed, beeline, hoards, rowdy, frenzy, vengeance, storm, backlash, snap-up, tased and injuries appeared frequently in media reports about our behavior on Dark Friday.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

One comment I heard in a news report on “Dark Friday” was a shopper who was asked why he was participating in Dark Friday, “It’s traditional!” This maybe where the problem lies, some traditions need to be broken. Some habits need to be changed. Bad habits need to be replaced.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

The Dali Lama was asked what surprised him the most. “Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

Many question the motives behind Occupy Wall Street. Maybe OWS is the reaction to Michael Lewis’s, The Big Short or Andrew Ross Sorkin’s, Too Big To Fail. Both detail the toxic culture of Wall Street, taking advantage of unregulated greed and political “buy-ability.” Perhaps OWS is the seeding for our own Arab Spring. Maybe OWS is a call to live an examined life, a life of giving rather than getting. Just maybe OWS could be about changing Dark Friday into a day that reflects truly living.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?