the blog Synergy

Monday, October 31, 2005

Have you talked to George?

Picking up on Troy's note about being Anonymous at 100 Bloggers and his daddy dream here, the short movie about George fits in.

Have you talked to George?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I Want To Be A Daddy Fifty Years From Now

My grandpa was a tall broad man with thick hands and a firm jaw. I remember him wearing overalls, a white undershirt, and workboots. He grew up on a farm outside Gypsum, Kansas, but he never wanted to be a farmer. In World War II, he flew 100 missions as a tail-gunner, but he never spoke of it. He wasn't a big talker. He died at 74. That was fifteen years ago.

We don't talk about him very often, but when we do, my mom still calls him "daddy." That says something about the man. I hope my daughter is still calling me daddy fifty years from now. It seems like a long way off now, but then, forty seemed like a long way off twenty years ago and now it is here.

It's not hard to believe I am forty years old.

I like to think of myself as a realist, whatever that means, but time mystifies me. Upon reflection, yesterday seems surreal and tomorrow feels more like a prayer than certainty.

Tomorrow is Monday. I will be working from home, because both Julia and Andrew have Halloween parties at school. Alisa and I will decide who will attend which party in the morning.

I am grateful for this opportunity. I realize many working parents don't have the degree of flexibility that I do. This flexibility is due, in part, to the culture of my workplace, but would not be possible if not for the efficiency and success of my team.

I am fortunate. In addition to having a wonderful family at home, I have a wonderful family at the office.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Is it really?

This blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

Some would say: Why bother?

I would say: A few good friends, talking across the miles, sharing and making our mark on this world; priceless!

What would you say?

Social playing with Tagzania

Recently I wrote a post about the spirit of nomadism. The ancient nomads where discoverers and the new nomads are those who have made an adventure out of their lives.

But in ancient times, some people and some peoples decided to stay in a certain place and work the land. This was the beginning of agriculture and of a way of life based on sedentarism. After them, most of us have been grown up in a sedentary world.

The effect of becoming sedentary brought a new phenomenon to the daily lives of the last nomads/first sedentaries. This phenomenon is boredom. The nomad was never bored, the sedentary always finds reasons to be bored.

So what is the solution to boredom in a sedentary way of life? The answer is play.

Now that technologies are having such an impact in our lives and despite we live in mainly sedentary contexts, new opportunities to play emerge in the net.

I´d like to present you Tagzania, a social software aimed to tag all the places you love/like/dislike/hate in the world. If you are a football supporter, you can tag the towns your favorite team´s going to play this season. If you are a music fan you can tag your favorite bars and discos. Well, everything located on this earth can be tagged in Tagzania.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Talk about real life!!

Saturday night ...some time on my hands ... at last!

Feeling a bit guilty about not making a Blog Synergy posting for a while I searched my files to come up with something that you may have seen before but it still makes me laugh. The moral of the story has something of a ring of truth about it sadly.

Enjoy .... and think about the message within:

Once upon a time, in a nice little forest, there lived an orphaned bunny and an orphaned snake. By a surprising coincidence, both were blind from birth. one day, the bunny was hopping through the forest, and the snake was slithering ahead of him, when the bunny tripped over the snake and fell down.

This, of course, knocked the snake about quite a bit. "Oh, my," said the bunny, "I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I've been blind since birth, so, I can't see where I'm going. In fact, since I'm also an orphan, I don't even know what I am."
"It's quite ok," replied the snake. "Actually, my story is the same as yours. I too have been blind since birth, and also never knew my mother.

Tell you what, maybe I could slither all over you, and work out what you are so at least you'll have that going for you."

"Oh, that would be wonderful" replied the bunny.

So the snake slithered all over the bunny, and said, "Well, you're covered with soft fur, you have really long ears, your nose twitches, and you have a soft cottony tail. I'd say that you must be a bunny rabbit."

"Oh, thank you, thank you," cried the bunny, in obvious excitement.

The bunny suggested to the snake, "Maybe I could feel you all over with my paw, and help you the same way that you've helped me."

So the bunny felt the snake all over, and remarked,

"Well, you're smooth and slippery, and you have a forked tongue, no backbone and no balls. I'd say you must be a team leader, a supervisor or possibly someone in senior management."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cat's Meow

Doing the dishes is not as much of a chore for my in our house here in Franklin as it may be for some. The kitchen sink is located below the window looking out into our backyard. We can view the summer green, the winter shadows, and especially at this time of year, the autumn colors as the tree that surround the yard turn and eventually fall. One of New England's treasures.

But more importantly, on the window sill itself, we have our collection of Cat's Meow pieces we have accumulated over the years.

The Presbyterian Church in Flemington, NJ

Runners in the Falmouth Road Race

Palmer House Inn, Falmouth, MA

The Chapel at Assumption College

US Grant's house in Galena, IL

and a similar piece of Mt. Kathadin, ME but it is not an offical Cat's Meow brand item.

So standing there to do the dishes,
I can glance up from the suds,
and then step into another time and place.
Yes, I know I am supposed to be mindfull of what I am doing.
But for those moments,
the slipping away is so easy
inspired by the sight of the item.
It makes the time (and the work) pass by!

Such a simple item.
Clearly priced for the tourist trade.
(They are not cheap but they are not expensively made either.)
With a life time of memories.

Food for thought?

What else can be simply made to provide such memories
and equally importantly, an income?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

If You Don't Like Change...

"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less."
- General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, US Army

You've seen this quote. Tom Peters has used it extensively and I have referenced it more than once at Orbit Now! I have the quote tacked to the wall in my office between two whiteboards. I believe it and you should, too.

More about change: Curt Rosengren writes about change from a slightly different perspective in his post To Thrive, Embrace Change and credits The Circle Project, The Alchemy of Soulful Work, and 37 Days with contributions.

There goes a good idea!

This is more than a common sense saying and a significant safety factor for some types of work, this is a new blog that addresses workplace issues.

Never Work Alone is a blog where you'll find great advice for management and leadership related problems. Each week we post a problem and a summary of the response from the great community of managers and leaders over at the Never Work Alone Googlegroup.

Never Work Alone is a coproduction of Slacker Manager, Genuine Curiosity and Random Thoughts From a CTO

To combine the use of Googlegroups and blogs in this way to discuss and present solutions to problems is a good idea.

Now, can some software gurus craft a program to put the two functions together in one application?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Happy Monday!

Today is your best opportunity to ensure you have a good week. Do you know what you want to accomplish this week? What will it take? Figure it out this morning.

Make it happen!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Seven Ages of Man and Economic Motivation

My comment on this post by Jacob Botter at CPH127 I think is worth sharing here:

The trend seems to be towards the interior of the self. We are tending towards more and more individuality and independence when in fact we are becoming more aware of our dependence upon one another. I suspect if we do not turn the tide from independence to interdependence and community, we (yes, the big collective We) are in trouble.

Read the original posting.

Do you see a trend?

What do do think?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

News + Blog Analysis = Synergistic Info

All The News Doesn’t Fit is the name of a good article written by Bob Walsh in a guest author spot on Keith Robinson’s To Done blog. He offers up some tips on how to filter and control all the news clutter coming at us these days, in a comparison to the logic of how news editors did the job for us twenty plus years ago.

A couple of things jumped out at me:

Unless you consciously take control of when, where and how you get your general, sports, high tech and other news, your chances of getting things done, of creating work, will drown without you even realizing it.
Yep - been there. Way too often. Like just this morning. Walsh says we have to be the “editor,” and our job is to own our attention.

Audit all those little news feeds that have crept into your online life. Which are worth keeping? Which are noise? Turn off the noise.
This concept of “turning off the noise” is looming large with me these days, and he’s right: I’m finding that the buck stops with me to just say no to all I’ve been letting bombard me.

Look for not just news, but analysis. The mainstream media has largely given up analysis because analysis upsets its corporate masters. Look to the blogs – whether its high tech news, sports news or politics – for people willing to call a spade a spade and own their words.

From saying no, to saying yes to the right stuff, the good stuff. The stuff that can create synergistic information for you versus plain old news.

The entire article is worth a read, including the first comment by J.H. Shewmaker. Click in:
All The News Doesn’t Fit.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stonehenge Redux

It has been one of the earth's great mysteries. How did Stonehenge get built?

Maybe, just maybe one guy has figured it out!

See for yourself.

Well, what do you think?

Thanks to Tom Asacker for the link.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Real listening

I remember Alan Alda from M.A.S.H. I especially enjoy him on Scientific American Frontiers (when I do get a chance to view it). And now from Michele Miller at WonderBranding I hear that Alan has a book out: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed.

Well, that won't be a problem in the Sherlock household as we do not abide with pets. Getting to the point, Michele quotes Alan in her post:

"The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous. One is fluid, the other is rigid. One is alive, the other is stuffed. Eventually, I found a radical way of thinking about listening. Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues. Like so much of what I learned in the theater, this turned out to be how life works, too."

How are your listening skills?

Are you allowing the other person to change you?

PS: I just added this book to my wish list... I am already behind reading some of the books on my shelves but I will make an effort to get to this one.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hitch, Avian Flu prophet?

A structural reasoning

I´ve been writing in some different places about the importance of thinking in a structural way.

What do I mean by structural?

Structural means contextual, and it is a way of reasoning opposed to cognitive knowledge. Cognitive knowledge is the last attempt to develop Descartes´ambition of knowledge. Structural reasoning looks for connections of the facts with their surrounding conditions. It is a field thinking.

As Michel Foucault wrote in one of his books,

"Etnology -as structural knowledge- questions not about man in itself, but about the region that makes possible in general a knowledge on man"

The litterature around business issues is full of analytic conclusions taken from a purely observer perspective, but structural approaches are almost absolutely lacking.

I´d like to offer two simple examples of why structural points of view are richer and help to understand facts and take decisions.

The first is about what can be called the narcissistic soul. I consider narcissism as a state of the soul, but a state that has a structural stability. When you deal with a narcissistic soul you realize how it is influenced by the structure itself. What we could call will, freedom or originality is shaped in such way that some of the acts of the narcissistic person can be easily anticipated.

It is the structure that is playing an important role in the behaviour of the person.

The other example is taken from Formula 1. I´ve just read an interview to Pedro de la Rosa, test driver at Mc Laren Mercedes. He has completed a brilliant season and has outperformed his team mates in several occasions. Still he doesn´t have the opportunity to show out his driving conditions. Not in his current team and as it seems, not in any other.

Pedro´s situation is structurally conditioned. And he cannot become a free agent in this business.

The usual litterature on leadership focuses on the individual differences and shadows the structural points. This is why I wanted to write about an alternative way of considering things.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Create a Blogger Lunch at Work

From Jeneane Sessum comes this recommendation to just do it!

Send out an office wide email on Monday that says: Look, we know some of you folks blog. Sure, you haven't told us so, and no we're not monitoring your site surfing (much), and no we're not mad at you for doing it. Actually quite the opposite. As a company, we'd like to understand more about blogging. And we want you who are already blogging to tell us. You're the experts. You understand the space. So, let's have a lunch and learn session next week. Pizza is on the company and everyone's invited--just bring your blogging knowledge and your favorite blogs (or at least the ones you think the rest of us should be reading) and let's talk about this blogging thing. If you would like to be one of the blogger hosts for this lunch, email [[insert your email here]].

Why not?

To borrow Troy's line "Don't wait for permission to succeed!"

Friday, October 07, 2005

Everyone Needs A Steve

No, this is not shameless self promotion. It did catch my eye because, hey, why wouldn't I want to find out what someone was saying about me, but it isn't me. At least not in full name.
Steve Vaught is our Director of Operations at White Rabbit Group. He IS the left-brain linear thinker in this particular rabbit hole! Without his unique perspective and skills our firm would slow to a crawl.

I, on the other hand, tend to be the right-brain non-linear thinker. And, on a good day, I make important contributions too.

All this to say – everyone needs a Steve! Put in other words, everyone needs colleagues who compliment and complete what he or she lacks. Business growth requires it. Compelling brands don’t exist without it.

Yes, and even a Steve needs a good partner! Do you have a partner?

Have you told them that you are partners?

Your partner should know!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Quit Slacking!

According to a Web survey of 10,000 U.S. workers by AOL and, on average, a little more than 2 hours per day per employee are squandered on activities completely unrelated to work. Wow! This is twice the amount expected by HR executives and this does not include time taken for lunch!

Note: These numbers don’t account for time wasted on non-value-add activities, such as unproductive meetings, either.

Topping the list of slacker diversions is surfing the Internet. Almost one hour per day per worker is spent browsing the Web.

Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Ergo, it doesn't matter how good or efficient you are at surfing the Net on the job. It's useless.

Top Time-Wasting Activities:
  • Arriving late/Leaving early – 1%
  • Planning personal events – 1%
  • Making personal phone calls – 2.3%
  • Running errands off-premises – 3.1%
  • Spacing out – 3.9%
  • Conducting personal business – 6.8%
  • Socializing with co-workers – 23.4%
  • Surfing the Internet – 44.7%

This is truly amazing. Consider the number of workers laid-off since George Bush took office. I don’t have the statistics in hand, but I am confident that is has been more than a dozen, and even minus those twelve individuals, U.S. workers have time to surf the Web almost an hour each day. What does this tell us? It tells me that U.S. workers are bored. They are not challenged. They are not engaged. They may be disenfranchised! How could this be? This is not an indictment of the men and women in the trenches. This is an indictment of their leadership. Yes, I believe personal accountability is important, but I also believe it should start at the top.

I wonder what role the war in Iraq and the seemingly endless list of corporate scandals plays in this.

Source: Baseline Magazine

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Taking a step back ... enterprise

maidenmole is continuing her series on "Taking a step back... over at ?IC@TomorrowToday.Biz. Her post on enterprise has these provoking questions:

Does the enterprise model limit its success to a handful of entrepreneurial types?

To what extent is the entrepreneurial spirit available to the rest?

As we move into the connection economy, are we biased towards those who show entrepreneurial spirit?

To what extent could the new economy really be a connection economy if we do not concern ourselves with those rest?

What can we do as connection economists to ensure that we do connect with all?

I notice the connection to Felix's posting on systemic thinking.

I wonder if this is not any different from what has happened previously.
Wasn't it at one time those who you knew that got you somewhere?
Wasn't it also at one time the explorers who succeeded?

In each day and age, does not a group with some special set of characteristics rise to the top inevitably? The question then becomes, can you become part of that group, and do you have what it takes, whatever it is at the time.

I do not believe that all of us can be part of that group. The nature of the competition is such to prevent it. There is no Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average.

So my answers to these questions would be as follows:

Does the enterprise model limit its success to a handful of entrepreneurial types? Yes, and there is nothing wrong with that.

To what extent is the entrepreneurial spirit available to the rest? To the extent that one is capable of competition at the same level and willing to do so, the spirit is open.

As we move into the connection economy, are we biased towards those who show entrepreneurial spirit? Yes, there will be a bias but there has always been some bias so what is new, nothing.

To what extent could the new economy really be a connection economy if we do not concern ourselves with those rest? If you define the economy as a connection economy, there will be at least three classes of people; the connected, those really connected (the group), and those not connected.

What can we do as connection economists to ensure that we do connect with all? It is an illusion to believe that you can connect with all. You may be able to connect with all those who want to hear your message, but you will not be able to connect with ALL.

What do you think?

To end on a positive note, I do believe that you can be happier with what you have than with what you want.


From Michele Miller at WonderBranding: Marketing to Women comes this piece of data:
Starting January 1, 2006, a Boomer will turn 60 every eight seconds.

Now the challenge will be how to make this data point something you can use to succeed!

There is an opportunity waiting for an answer.

What will the future look like as it changes every eight seconds!

Monday, October 03, 2005

What's the framework?

From Patricia Digh at 37Days comes another great post:
... information isn’t terribly useful unless you have a larger framework and context in which to put it, use it, apply it, alter it, frame it, change it. Learning one thing is not useful. Learning how to learn about that one thing is. Perhaps that marks the difference between mindlessness and mindfulness, between idiocy and fluency, or between buying tourist souvenirs and being on the short end of a firing squad.

Between giving a person a fish and teaching that person how to fish...

I'll admit I did cause both my daughter's some aggrevation during their trips to my desk or chair with their homework. "Daddy, can you help me?"

I never gave them the answer directly. Yes, I was cruel.
I asked them questions to lead them to the answer for themselves.
I think it is better that way.

So if you ask me a question, let me alert you that I may ask you a question (or two) in return.
Old habit!

Do you want an answer or do you want the way to answer questions?

The system and the management with soul

"The will of system is a lack of honesty"

Friedrich Nietzsche

I´ve chosen this quote to illustrate my feelings on what I call systemic thinking. I´ve found this way of thinking in many different situations, some at work and others outside the work context.

Systemic thinking is based on the idea of representation. It takes for granted that any accurate representation of a situation can provide the best conditions for a decision taking process. This can even be true, but what systemic thinking fails to recognize is that any representation is just a map of the problem.

The second strong point in any systemic thinking is that there are statistical trends that help us to solve our problems. If you try to adjust the solutions to the big numbers, you have done a good job.

What the systemic thinking misses is that in any representation there are gaps and missing points. If you forget these points your measures will not be useful for the forgotten elements. When these elements are people with problems, you are just leaving them alone.

The big numbers are abstractions, they don´t reach to the individual needs of the persons. If you are a leader you must keep in mind that every soul demands a response from you. That must be your commitment.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fall back position

I was heartened to catch this quote from George Clooney in the article in the Boston Sunday Globe today. (Bold mine for emphasis)

Ironically, when Clooney left college to pursue acting, his father, Nick Clooney, a former Cincinnati news anchor, urged him to finish his degree in case his acting career didn't pan out. The single-minded Clooney responded at the time by telling his father, ''If I have something to fall back on, I'll fall back."

Living without a net, on the edge can be terrifying, challenging, and at the same time the most inspirational time. I have heard this from many other sources, primarily business entrepreneurs. To hear it from this source I thought was cool!

Does living on the edge provide inspiration?
I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Keeping it personal

Recently I found out that a close friend (and I’m very confident he’d say that about me too) has a personal assistant. I was astonished that he has one.

Now I feel a bit naïve writing this, for of course he has one. He’s a bigwig VP in a bigwig company, he travels a lot, speaks and presents a lot, and is a supreme networker. With all he handles he’s got to be the best male multi-tasker I know (please guys, no offense, I just write that distinction as an observation of my personal circle of professional friends.) I just somehow assumed he didn’t have a personal administrative assistant because she has never once touched something that happens between us.

The only numbers I have for him came from a card he gave me that I thought was his business card. Turns out I have his direct line (his voicemail message, not hers), his cell phone number, and his home number. He’s sent me cards and packages, and although he’s a high-tech guy, they always have hand-written address labels and hand-written notes tucked inside with some personal sentiment. If I send him an email, he’s the only one that answers it, and if he sends me something from his company (I do business with them) it only comes directly from him.

I found out about his assistant when he mentioned that she was helping him with some research on a conference venue in a new city. When I revealed my surprise to him, this was his response,

“Oh come on Rosa, sure you’re a client, but you’ve become my friend, and you’re worth a lot to me. Whatever I do for you I want to do.”

Talk about making an even bigger impression on me. I already admired him, but he has elevated our relationship to new levels of importance in my life.

After this, I thought of the hundred ways he probably is using his assistant, all of them having nothing to do with the important things meaningful relationships are made of.

Do you have an assistant? What do they do for you?