Adaptive Change

May 23, 2010

Change is hard and yet more than ever we’re surrounded by a need to change.  The vehicle(s) that got you where you are today is increasingly faced with not just a need for a tune-up or even a newer model, but often a completely new mode of transport.  That is, different ways to view, analyze, and navigate through life.

Change for change sake is generally not the answer, nor is trying to find one’s comfort zone and cruising through life on auto-pilot.  Does past history, experience, and knowledge count for anything?  Sure it does, if you don’t let it blind you to new opportunities and ways of looking at things.  Adaptive Change is the type of change and challenge to seek out as we push ourselves to continually grow, develop, and sustain our energies and passions in life.

Just as Professor Heifetz talks of the “possibility of loss . . . generating resistance” in the link above, Seth Godin repeatedly refers to the lizard brain in his new book Linchpin.  Fear, in many forms, often holds us back and yet pushing through that fear to scale new heights and try new things is what often leads us to newer and better opportunities.

While it’s been a few months since I heard this sermon, I appreciate Andrew Warner’s bringing Heifetz’ notions of adaptive versus technical change to my attention.  While it’s generally easier to follow a road map versus drawing your own, the latter can help you determine if there’s a better way.  Are you creating your own paths and ways to get where you want to go or just trying to follow the worn-out roads of those that went before?


Consumption v Creation , part 2

May 15, 2010

Purchased an iPad the other day & while on the surface it’s definitely more of a “consumption” device, I’m going to try & use it for both consumption & more “creation” especially when mobile. Like now, as I sit lingering over the end of a solo dinner out.

So, not much content to this post which is basically an experiment to see if I can use the WordPress app on iPad to quickly post a thought.

Consumption v. Creation

May 2, 2010

A couple of friends have asked in recent months, “what happened to your blog?” translated as “why no recent posts?”  No good reason, other than work & life in general have kept me busy, and I’ve come to appreciate the writer’s discipline that others have and that I, so far, do not.

I’ve read various commentary recently about whether we’re becoming more a society of consumption versus creation and innovation.  This applies at many levels, but I’ve come to think of it more in terms of consumption or creation of information.  While there are many innovators creating on multiple levels and often using many newly developed or enhanced technologies to do so, some of these same technologies are allowing for even greater consumption.  This consumption can be of more, and sometimes better, information, entertainment, enlightenment, and sometimes pure distraction and/or information overload.  The fire hose of information on the Internet, increasingly accessed via mobile devices on the fly, can both inspire and educate as well as distract and stifle original thought.

My goal in the coming months is to see if I can find the discipline to start writing more often, even if it’s only for my own reference later as to what I thought was important in 2010, and less time reading stuff that doesn’t matter.  I’m pretty sure I read and look up far more stuff than I used to, sometimes adding value and other times just stifling my own creativity and thought processes.

Where do you hang out?

August 7, 2009

It’s been a few weeks since I read Seth Godin’s post on “social norms”, but it made an impression on a couple of levels:

1) On a macro level it reminded me of what I’ve tended to call the phenomenon of people hanging out with “like types”.  We hang out w/ people from the same class at school, with the same interests, those that went to the same college, single people hang w/ other singles, married people/no kids w/ other dinks, married people w/ children hang w/ the parents of their kids friends, etc.

2) In the more immediate sense, as someone frequently overloaded with the explosion of communication tools that can make one look like a Luddite for “only” using a cell phone and e-mail, it becomes confusing as to where & how to find and get in touch with people that you need to connect with.

The second one, to me at least, is more or less where Seth’s blog is aimed: if you want to connect with someone (personally, professionally, or both) you need to figure out where they “hang out”.  If they have 1000’s of followers on Twitter and tweet in the double digits every day, then they might not be reading your e-mails but a clever @theirtwittername reply might get their attention.  On the other hand, if they think twitter is something that birds do then their channel’s not tuned to your twitterverse if that’s where you’re hanging out.  Ditto for Facebook, LinkedIn, texting, e-mail, voicemail, IM, snailmail, etc.  Think about how they’re communicating, or not, with you and others and figure out how to get in sync using the same method they’re using.  Or, as Godin puts it act “the way they do”.  If you’re not sure, and it’s somebody that’s important for you to connect with then ask around of others that may know them better.  Kind of like figuring out what bar somebody’s hanging at on campus, or what club, neighborhood, favorite lunch place, coffee shop, you get the picture . . .

Seems simple enough, but can be hard to execute if you’re in multiple places using multiple channels of communication (guilty as charged, although I like to think of it as being multi-lingual – others would call it scattered!).  Also, don’t be offended or feel like somebody doesn’t “like you” when they’re not responding to your voicemail, e-mail, commenting on your Facebook status, etc.  They could easily be suffering from information and communication overload, or they could be hanging out somewhere besides where you’re trying to find them.  So, for those you want to reach on a regular basis, figure out where they like to play and go join them there.  Keep in mind that it can change over time or frequently if they use multiple modes of communication.  Better yet, get out and meet them in person (IRL).

Lose the Labels, Make a Difference

July 11, 2009

Recently I read Umair Haque’s post on “The Generation M Manifesto” and Peggy Noonan’s July 11th column in the WSJ on “A Farewell to Harms” and also skimmed thru the long list of comments to both of these posts/columns.  Umair focused on the miliennial generation’s different approach to the world & Noonan talked about how Sarah Palin’s resignation was more than overdue.  What struck me as similar between the two was the response commentary, particularly the adversarial viewpoints.  My takeaway from both is that it’s time to stop making it an “us v them” approach to solving the very real, very challenging global problems.  Sound bites about how the other side (old people/generations in Umair’s critique, Republicans v. Democrats in Noonan’s column on Palin) is wrong is not the point in my mind.  Figuring out how to create meaningful, thoughtful, and realistic long-term solutions to our problems is the point.  That takes real leadership, it takes guts, and it takes a desire to collaborate across multiple viewpoints rather than pushing the old stakeholder claims deeper and limiting our ability to rise above the many challenges we currently face.

While I’m not a millennial like Umair or a Republican like Noonan (yes, for all her current Republican haters she was Reagan’s speech writer and biographer and has way more columns over time w/ a strong conversative focus), I identifed with the gist of what both of them were trying to get across.  I also don’t think either were saying that you had to be young (Umair’s generation) or clinging to a traditional party line (Noonan’s column) to aspire to a higher purpose of meaningful, thoughtful leadership that cuts across generational and party lines.

Stop taking sides and start making a difference!

Old v New, Long v Short

June 17, 2009

Earlier this week, I was at a conference where Ted Koppel gave the keynote address on the final day of the meeting.  His basic theme was that we’ve been living in an “age of entitlement”, not just recently but probably dating back 20 years or so.  The audience was career college administrators and teachers and he scored points with citing examples of students “entitlement” behavior but also talked more broadly about how this entitlement mentality has helped put us in this global economic recession.

He also bashed Twitter, specifically related to the disputed election results in Iran.  I’ve come to like Twitter in many ways, but like all forms of communication and media it has its limitations.  I’m not informed enough about the current Iranian situation to comment on it, so I won’t.  That was ultimately the gist of his Twitter rant, although I also think part of it was his admitted low tech approach to the news.  Personally, I think you need to get under the hood and understand current technologies before you throw stones at them, just as the digital natives shouldn’t reject all “old” methodologies as inherently flawed.

The latter was a big part of his point about serious, credible journalism versus the over saturation of fluff (my words, not his) that comes at us via the mainstream media.  He admitted to preferring paper and NPR over the Internet and cable TV.  I prefer my Kindle, iPhone, and laptop for information but I still want substance and depth of analysis.  Reflecting on it later, I think a real challenge moving forward is not so much new (media, methods, business models, etc.) trumping old but whether long-term (visionary, ideal-driven) thinking can push aside the pressures and demands of short-term (what’s in it for me now?) thinking.  To me, the latter is part of where we’ve ended up in terms of Koppel’s “age of entitlement” analogy.  We do want more for less, but we also want it now!  Yes, results matter, but so does thoughtful, reasonable dialog and discourse as opposed to the “you suck” v. “no, you suck more” mentality that drives so much of the public debate these days.

Ignore Everybody – Read it!

June 12, 2009

Started a new job a few weeks ago (with CourseSmart – your eTextbook source) and so the blog got pushed to the back burner.  So, did some of my reading.  One thing I do keep up with, thanks to near daily e-mail links, is Seth Godin’s blog that rarely fails to inspire.

A few days ago, Seth wrote about Hugh MacLeod’s new book “Ignore Everybody”.  I’d never heard of Hugh or his blog, but found that the occasional times that Seth plugs somebody else’s product it’s because it’s worth checking out.  So, I read the online reviews of “Ignore Everybody” & bought a copy.  If you want a free preview, go to this post by the author which nicely captures his style & summarizes the key points.  Some of the language is “R” rated but the creativity, humor, and insight is spot on in my opinion.

I’ve enjoyed reconnecting w/ old friends lately using social media tools, as well as making new connections and finding new sources of information in the world of Web 2.0.  It’s not all great or even worthwhile, but overall there are far more gems out there from multiple sources than ever before.

One of my favorite mediums (and also one that frustrates me at other times) is twitter.  To me, MacLeod’s book not only pushes you to tap your creative juices in non-conventional ways, it is like a series of thought-provoking tweets combined with his ever present business card cartoons.

Decide for yourself.  Or, ignore me and do your own thing!