Friday, October 7, 2011

Optimism - the trajectory of choice

It's almost overwhelming these days when you look around and see the future painted as pessimistic and dreary. Whether it's the economy, climate, education.....seems no matter the topic, someone has portrayed the future as a bleak and dark outcome. Now I don't ignore these thoughts by any stretch, but having faith in God and in my fellow humans I'm certain, despite the obstacles, we have more opportunity for an optimistic outcome than we are communicating or researching.

Do we choose to sink in the sludge of pessimism or do we choose the trajectory of optimism? I don't consider myself a religious person, since my ideals are centered more on Love than on "doctrine and rules" which leads me to think that overall we must decide the outcome of our choices. I'm certainly more comfortable with balancing the negative with positive, this is one lesson where God provides pretty clear direction. Some would say I fall back on God, which is true but I believe we each have free will to decide. The early part of this process is choosing optimism or pessimism in any situation, time or place.

I remember early in my leadership training days of the military, watching a video, the basic idea of the video was a man walking the beach and throwing starfish back into the sea. Now there were thousands of starfish and in his short walk he could only return a handful to the water and ongoing life. When asked why he took up such a "useless" cause, how could it matter --he responded, it matters to that one as he throws a single starfish into the sea.

As we go along in a more individual and transactional world it will help all of us to be reminded -- " matters to this one." Somehow we must impact the overall system of humanity, one individual at a time with the optimism of a better life and a better world, for however long we live. Certainly, Steve Jobs did this in his ability to create new experiences at Pixar and repurpose old devices into new useful products for the individual and collections of individuals. Despite his short comings he did understand the thought that one man or woman or child could make a difference --- so along with Steve Jobs and the desire to change the world one individual or situation at a time ---my choice is Optimism.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Between centuries of Educators

So I'm teaching and taking online classes. I've spent the better part of the last four months trying to pull together a leadership class that captures much of the 21st century. It's not so easy to pull this together and put it into a format that fits into today's online courses. After all, most of them are nothing more than broadcast of video, exercises or the age old format shoved into the online viewer shoe. It's like trying to put a new, shiny titanium nail in an old hole of a schooner........the interesting thing is that in collaborating, it's not like the team is working toward building something new, half the team is, the other half is shoeing in the new material to the old hole.

This has cause for me to think about two really important things, asynchronous learning and asynchronous teaching. I'm certain there must be a better way. Even in the Stanford Classes I'm currently taking, which by the way are a brilliant marketing method, I'm finding it to be, solo flying. Now for the very technical and no human required materials I think this is great. Much like learning to fly an airplane it's actually better if one is solo and only risks their life in learning, but in material that is all about people, it's not very effective. Pure theory rarely holds up under the pressures of real leadership. True leaders have molded there knowledge and skills, hammered the dents out and polished the surface to the point that they barely recognize where the academic material resides.

We have to figure out how to share experience with those who will be leaders and use the 21st century knowledge exchange over the 20th century repository of knowledge; read it and pretend to know what's going on and how to solve the issues or challenges.
I'm pretty certain and very hopeful that integrated Experience Technology will give us a better handle on this type of education in the very near future.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Catholic Schools??? Where are they headed

So it's time for school to begin again for another year. I am reminded again and again and again, as we are often reminded in the Catholic School system of the issues that have been at the heart of the INSTITUTION for more than a decade. Now I'm am all about having a safe environment for my children, but seriously, there are now five training programs for parents who "might" volunteer to help out in the school. I've attended all of the three pre required programs and the new ones have obviously come about as a result of the Archdiocese lack of response to "dormant' problems. So is it really about educating the parents and weeding out the predators or is this more about insurance for the Archdiocese and the old add activity to the process it will look like we are doing something?

I think it's the latter!! Nothing has changed since the first three classes/workshops except that there was light focused on the lack of attention paid by the Catholic Priest Leadership to the issues, again I submit these were evident to all of us but "dormant" to the leadership for the past decade. So as the Pope continues his rapid "PATH TO THE PAST" the parents and children of the Catholic School System get the abuse of Courses and training and frankly NONSENSE to show that the church is "doing" something about their missive and inappropriate behavior.

The real truth is that these tactics won't hold up against a hierarchy that continues to insist on secrecy and complexity hiding the Truth of God. The truth does set one free and even the Pope for his arrogant avoidance of issues, amongst his own, can not hide the truth and ultimate love of God. So as he and the layers of his hierarchy of the Catholic Church, continue to wind up and be creative, in not dealing with reality, adding layer upon layer of "external" nonsense-- read training for families and children, complex language reintegrated into the mass and liturgy of service, we the people of faith will continue to pursue the real truth and Love of God. It will keep us free from harm and the day to day non sense of those who at the core have only religion and dogma, keeping them from reality and truth. We can only hope that this hierarchy will continue to implode which will hopefully, allow the real love and truth to prevail! And so goes the next round of ridiculous training for people who are innocent but committed to their faith!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beware the Borough Tax Collector with NO Technology knowledge

After living in a small town in Pennsylvania for the past four years, I've come to the conclusion that everyone, of tax paying age, should research their local township, borough or municipality thoroughly before becoming a resident. It seems in today's rural setting, technology is a learn by doing and take no advice from the experts approach. Take for example the little town I live in, we will call it Town A. New tax collector is elected and decided rightfully so, to "automate" the local taxes. Afterall, the town has had the same nice, little lady collecting taxes for decades, oh and she knew everyone, handling everything by paper and relationship. Enter Tax Collector DUH with his brilliant IT decision. But of course Tax Collector DUH knows nothing about Technology and seeks no Professional guidance...he simply "gets a system" as if he was buying a box of cereal. Puts it in, let's the 3rd Party Database company populate the Database from some archived version of county records more than three years old and TaDa the makings of a royal mess.

Now he has "written" over all the new address information for all the current residents, with data that is more than three years old, not to mention the addresses may not even or have ever belonged to the off go the annual tax bills to places never imagined.....Ah but here is where it gets good....Now we must revalidate addresses but we can't reconcile them with the "current" sewer payment's another mailing and oh we forgot one teensy weensy little amount called the per capita tax and now that has to go out as a second billing. So in the end it cost the taxpayers alot! These taxpayers, who now "didn't receive" their bills and can only pay on time or late losing discounts or having added charges, and it means there are three sets of transactions to go to everyone at three times the cost and handling as the old model of hand processing, and of course the ongoing process to try to Catch Up which is put once again on the residents! So when you decide to move to Rural America be careful of the person who needs no experience or knowledge to be in one of the most "powerful" financial positions of your life....THE TAX COLLECTOR! Even a farmer is smart enough to run business in one mode or the other but do it right wherever you go with your systems. Moral of the story ......Government Leaders....hire professionals to help your inexperienced municipal'll save money in the long run and your town, borough or municipality will run better for it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Government Employees - Unsung Heroes

Today I was reminded by a friend and colleague, about the immense challenges, responsibilities and huge workload that our government employees must face everyday of the week. This motivated me to return to my blog page for a mention of their plight! I remember all to well the very long days, sometimes 20 hours, sometimes only 12 hours but days filled with immediate and most times monstrous requests. It seemed like the mountain of needs grew faster than the ability to out climb them.......I don't believe that has changed. Actually, I think it's probably worse now than least my days as a Government Servant (and I use the term in the fondest way) the economy was much better the world was a little quieter and we were still very much under the watchful eye of the those who had survived World War II, the Great Depression and many other tides of misery.
Today, with no clear path, increased complexity, maximum depersonalization and governments where the Montessorri Principle seems to be the only approach (No Fish Swims in the Same Direction) I can't even imagine getting up everyday and drudging to a government office to work. Don't misunderstand my thought, I love Montessori, but I believe it is needed at certain times and in certain settings....I could never imagine letting my child learn about fire in a free and expressive environment. There is something to be said for learning from others and from others mistakes!
So what are we to do.....First, accept that the majority of Government Employees are very hardworking individuals. They will go to work and beat their proverbial heads against huge brick walls, chipping away the Mountain, where many of us would never again tread! They are our neighbors, friends, family, colleagues, and associates. They are in the same struggle the rest of the country is in, one where they face pinkslips, reduced retirement, more work with less and not even a glimpse of Ghandian engineering on the horizon!
It's time we accept that we must do more with less for more and we should stop cursing the Servants and start Swimming in the Same Direction.

My Hats off to all the hardworking government employees and especially to my friend Michelle.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Work = Jobs

I can't figure out why we are having such a difficult time, in this country, creating jobs. My first thought is a simple one that we need to go after work. This was one of the basic ideas behind Roosevelt's programs. Where there was work to be done the government created programs and hired. We are seeing much of this with road construction, but the problem is that the work has a larger component that is automated by large machines and the "crews" are small in number, hired by local governments or third party providers. They move from project to project.

Maybe what we are not seeing here is micro opportunity. We can't simply look at micro anything, we have to look at ways to link these activities one to another like the pipeline of construction projects go from one road to the next.

A quick look at the system of America reveals plenty of work that needs to be done. So let's start with a look at this System we call the United States of America, not just the government system but the entire country as a system. Maybe we need a new approach beyond grants something like a Habitat for Humanity approach, where there is collective effort in a micro fashion with a goal in mind. All the infrastructure could use help. Much of the services provided, whether it's tax programs for the local boroughs, education and training or health services need work. The overarching message has to be simple, low hanging projects with micro opportunity...connect them together and put people to work. This creates jobs.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Memorializing WORLD WAR II

This weekend the MidAtlantic Air Museum conducted the Gathering of Warbirds.
What fun! We ventured over for the Friday evening activities, completely unprepared for the experience. Everyone steps into the period, with aircraft, vehicles, equipment and the like, all reflective of the environment of World War II. Attendees were dressed in period attire, danced to big band and relived the "good" parts of history. It was wonderful to watch World War II Veterans jitterbug and dance the night away. We learned much about the time, from the education on carrier pigeons to various aspects of the operations: Pacific, Russia, Italy and so was a complete re enactment of one of the most significant wars of the world. As we begin the summer it's worth noting that we as a generation have been fortunate not to have experienced the consumption of the world in war as was seen during World War II. We are the lucky generation that has benefited greatly from the giving of those who serve!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My prediction to the # of startups in 2010--exponential!

Today on my daily walk through the web, I decided to start counting the number of startups, and new approaches, to business I could find. I stopped counting well beyond 1000, for lack of time, and grossly overgeneralized that there are literally an exponential number of startup companies and organizations beginning this year. What does it matter? I remember in the middle of my career at IBM hearing Carlotta Perez speak about micro business and micro organizations being the wave of the future, not small to medium but literally micro, one or two employees. It struck me at that time the impact would be tremendous. My experience in aviation came to mind, when airlines began operating smaller aircraft in place of "heavies" as we called one planned for the number of increased transactions and interactions, crowded airspace, overtaxed infrastructure and the like. I believe micro business will have major impact on the global economy and global infrastructure. Again what does it matter? The upside is the web, with new and ever growing social applications and communities popping up, they may well become the "glue" that holds it all together.

We often prodded IBM in those days to pay attention to micro businesses, but frankly that was like asking a Cruise ship to look out for Z boats. If you add it all up: Social Revolution (a very organized and pragmatic,open source approach is going on!!, Micro businesses, Micro Financing (here is the one I support Kiva-- and I'm proud to say MY MICRO COMPANIES HAVE PAID ME BACK IN FULL at $8.33 a payment, in for many more rounds of funding!) open collaboration equals the WAVE OF THE PRESENT AND THE TSUNAMI OF THE FUTURE! Here's the math: social revolution (Exponential Number) + Micro Business (Exponential Number) + Micro Finance (Finite, small increments) + Open Collaboration (Exponential Number) = Exponential Business (startups and beyond). These organizations are working on the fringe of the monolithic business world and moving at the "speed of data". (Even dial up in Burkina Fasa Africa is probably faster than the top down decision processes of the monolithic companies started in the past 100 years!) So it deserves mention if your thinking about starting an organization, look for micro financing, build it on the social fabric of the web and stick to the open collaboration approach. Hats off to Altimeter Group for their work and their OPEN POLICY. Check out if you want to see open people who practice open and innovative collaboration.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The next 2010 days

What will the next 2010 days bring? We at are very busy. Not a surprise considering the number of small and micro business that are really trying to integrate technology into their strategy and marketing plans. Pink (A Whole New Mind) has it right. I know I say it over and over again, but he is really onto something. After sitting with a group of lawyers yesterday and having a discussion about the value of "creating relationships" and how information is such a commodity business now, I'm again reminded that at the core of all things going on are human transactions...whether they are transactions with another human or not somewhere in the big picture, at the edge of the today's totally technical world is the human being.

More importantly is the "collection and very fluid like interactions of people". Certainly, this is one reason for the struggle in countries like ours......finding the "one" common thread for all is no longer possible. America made it's debut because there was common core areas that our forefathers negotiated. Today we must negotiate around common fabric not threads like language or currency or even religion. Even freedom has a very different look and feel. It's time to rethink the center of gravity for the country and the world. This time let's take a look at the overall system and negotiate a much more systemic process and approach. As my friend Ionel says, "It's time for a major transformation".

At we are in our own small way setting the stage for this transformation. In creating a "NON PROFIT" organization that helps businesses and individuals and other organizations, taking Wall Street out of the picture we are changing the game. We are not creating an organization "just to get the tax break" but really serving a high value purpose and doing it all at cost. No more corporate pyramids where everyone at the bottom works beyond the reasonable so that "partners and CEO's" can collect huge bonuses and paychecks. One really must question the value of this approach. However, if these businesses were working hard and fairly to provide an outstanding service and make money for that service that is one thing, but to "jack up stock prices" anyway possible, that is another. Leaving a market alone is leaving it alone, not tinkering with it via every possible avenue to create a phantom look and feel that influences the stock price for the day or month or year. I believe modern day capitalism via "slot stock machines" is not at all what Ayn Rand had in mind when creating objectivism "....that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest; that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism; and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally."

Using innovation is making business, education a research a work of art. There will be more on the specific activities of as the next 2010 days unfold.

Friday, June 5, 2009

He's my brother

I'm finding my niche in life. I always knew my purpose was helping others, but I'm now finding that to formalize the approach and really stretch in helping others during these difficult times, brings even more satisfaction and deeper relationships.

I truly hope this country can move beyond the "FRANCHISED" approach to everything and get back to the BASICS. Loving and helping others. There is no greater satisfaction than to give and more so in times of need. Certainly, with the massive layoffs at places like IBM there's massive need. Today we do not have the close knit communities as in FDR's day but we do have the ability to connect far and wide with the Internet......we must use each and every social networking tool to rescue those in need and to upright the American Culture and Economy! Here's to the Innovation Corp of America!