Latest Observations

On the Danger of “Vision-Casting”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 27, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Steven S

“Vision-casting” is a dangerous undertaking. Once a vision is declared, it can be refined; but if it is changed too frequently and/or too radically, the leader loses his credibility and the organization loses its velocity. This does not mean that a leader cannot say, "I was wrong," and then reverse direction. It only means that one cannot make such radical course changes too often.

So how does a leader declare a vision when he is not certain of the details? How does he leave room for the “adaption” process? I think the leader needs to learn nuance. Casting a vision should be more like describing a destination. The leader, even when they are cognitive of an important change, should learn how to embed that change within the broad perimeters of the organization's primary direction.

The leader describes a destination, the organization moves in its direction. Imagine this “vision-casting” as an arrow pointing towards that destination. The arrow's main line must be broad. This gives the organization space within which to make many shifts (if the length of the arrow is too narrow, the leader is too confined). Thus, the leader describes a destination, sets a direction, but allows a breadth of course for the inevitable adaptions.

On the Nuanced Capacity to See the Present through the Lens of the Future

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 26, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader must live with two horizons in view. We need to think in the short-term and the long-term. One who thinks only in the short-term never wins strategic advantage, and one who thinks only in the long-term never gains tactical position. Our operation must be a fluid paradox of short-term and long-term focus.

Mid-level leaders find themselves vacillating between the two perspectives - they are trapped in a contradiction, struggling between the urgency of the short-term and the necessity of the long-term. Senior leaders have the nuanced capacity to hold both perspectives at the same time - they resolve the contradiction with a paradox, seeing the present through the lens of the future.

On Loving with Wholeness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 25, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Honesty empowers love. One may counter that we are honest because we love. I think this could be true. But one must acknowledge that I can only love out of an honest place. What does it mean to say, “I love?”

For me to speak of “I” is to denote the wholeness of my “I(ness).” One may love from only a part of one’s “I(ness)” (King David’s divided heart). However, one would wish to be loved from the wholeness of another's “I(ness).”

On the Absolute Character of Honesty

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Aug 22, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Somehow I know that absolute honesty is the path. The problem with understanding its significance is wrapped up in a conflation of terms. Honesty, while important, seems only a virtue. It is much more than that. It is a state of wholeness. Kierkegaard said "Purity of heart is to will one thing." Honesty is the agreement of all parts. It is a condition of integrity.

On Taking Humor Seriously

Topic:Method
Posted on:Aug 21, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Humor defuses intensities: 1) It keeps people from taking themselves too seriously 2) it keeps people from taking situations too seriously. The irony is this: humor is rarely taken seriously, and yet it is a serious tool in the hand of any leader.

On the Planning Process in Management

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 20, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The more I study management practice, the more I question its planning methodology.

Leaders do not seem to understand the difference between an objective and a goal. They do not know how to bring absolute alignment between the objectives and their goals. Their various plans are inflated. Their typical strategy plan is a mixture of objectives/goals and improperly connected insights.

I do not know how to build a company without re-thinking its entire management philosophy. The lack of consistency, the incongruence, is painful.

On the Great Man and Multiplicity of Perspective

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 19, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

At the heart of understanding is multiplicity of perspective. To understand a great man, one must see the world through his eyes, see him through his peer's eyes, and see his work through history's eyes.

On Art Speaking More from the Background than the Foreground

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 18, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think there is a place in art for the background to say more than the foreground. Indeed this inverse approach bears experimentation. In some ways, Henry James achieved this in the dialogue of his characters. What they did not say was louder than (even contradicting) what they did say. 

The best poetry speaks from the background, not the foreground. In music, proper attention is placed on the foreground, either the voice instrument or the direct message of the lyrics. But the more powerful compositions seep down deeper into the sub-soul of the listener.

On the Quest for Wholeness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 15, 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think the internal quest to be fully human is a quest for wholeness. Our divided selves reflect our distance from the ideal. As we pursue full integration; an undivided heart, we are in fact moving towards the actualization of our person. This pursuit inevitably integrates all of the pathos within an individual. Such an integration artfully encompasses symmetry.

On Leadership and the Value of Reflection

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 14, 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

The Leader must have a bias for action, but this action should flow out of reflection. Never confuse activity with progress. Vigorous execution needs to be grounded in rigorous contemplation.