self-examination


“A health body involves a ongoing commitment to healthy habits and despite these efforts disease can occur when we least expect it.” – J. Durant

Over the last four decades we have been involved with numerous examinations and initiatives that centered on building business.  Some occurred as a result of issues that arose and others occurred in response to potential opportunities.  Each and every effort had one common element, the lack of an objective assessment.  Now one might wonder why is this at all important?  Flanked by skilled professionals that are intimately familiar with the business why would an outsider provide value?

In this world of opportunists these are very valid questions and often the conclusions reached are abetted by prescriptive solutions of the assessing organization.  We have not seen any marked difference between the big and the small, or the local vs. international organizations performing these so called assessments.   It all comes down to ceasing opportunity when it presents itself and optimizing on existing presence within the company.

I Know My Business

This is a true statement and one that a small fraction of companies cannot attest to.  However, what you know is about what is and not what could be.  Like a person who lives with perpetual pain, they grow accustom to it and will find ways to compensate for it.  Companies will do the same whether its a matter dealing with specific human elements, market issues, product status or even leadership.  Pain becomes a condition and diverted attention is given to other options with the hope that they will replace the discomfort.

Knowing your business is a valuable element in the independent and objective evaluation process.  It solidifies consistency, understanding and harmony of operation but it can also reveal discord.  I’m sure you have heard of difference of opinion that exist between people and even documented processes.  How does this happen?  It is possible that this occurs simply as the result of maintenance attention, but it can also be the result of misinterpretation or disruptive events.  Left unattended the flexibility of adaption creates inconsistencies.  While we would hope that these would have little effect they can turn into full fledged customer servicing nightmares.

Companies that are reticent on the need for some form of independent and unbiased examination are bordering on a state of denial.  Possibly out of fear of the unknown or that they don’t wish to introduce more disruption to the existing chaos.  However in this latter case the chaos is often the result of the health conditions of the organization.

Help-Help!!

An urgent outreach is symptomatic of issues.  It may simply be the lost of insight or it can be the result of a barrage of internal and external challenges.  Think for a moment about the journey of Research In Motion (RIM aka Blackberry) and their boom to bust to recovery scenario.  Here was a company that flourished with a dominating 37% of US market and a commanding presence in almost every business technological arsenal.  It had presence and it had endorsement.  Slowed growth fueled by operational mishaps drove them to the brink of closure.  The recovery was slow, painful and littered with senior corporate replacements upon replacements.  It wasn’t until 2015 that earning returned to a level on par with 2010.   Some would argue that it was a great learning experience, but is it a ‘great’ experience to endure this level of pain and newly created uncertainty?  The future remains still in question for RIM and to a similar extent to what was experienced by Nokia during the almost identical time period.  So what went wrong?

  1. Failure to be objective and consider the ever existing presence of failure.
  2. Measuring and evaluating conditions on a routine basis but denying the reality of threats and obstacles.  You may have a better mouse trap but if you can’t maintain or convert markets it is irrelevant.
  3. Celebrating loyalty and customer support but overlooking sustaining relations.  Many still appreciate the Nokia 3310 and was recently reintroduced in early 2017.  The same holds true with the Blackberry 9800 and has features reflected in some of the new models being introduced.
  4. Narrow examination perspective concentrated heavily on back end sales and promotion and failing to look at operational/research advancements.  Let me state that this isn’t completely and 100% a complete failure.  Rather it was not given the attention that it should have been to measure holistically the health of the business.
  5. Emergence of fire fighting over attention.  As the business started its rapid downward descent more meetings, reporting and analysis took place.  Decisions were made to bring the business back on course.  In direct response to markets and investors drastic steps were taken to replace known resources with unknown resources.  Again unknown as to the context and the abilities as it pertained to each organization (and known to the extent of what they had to offer from another business enterprise).
  6. Total and complete abandonment of existing strategies.  We would call this ground up or zero based approaches.  My concern, and this isn’t a matter of personal style, is that if a total replacement is needed it makes the assumption that there was no redeeming value to what existed.  If this is the case then why did it take so long for the business to raise the flag and embark on a replacement (pride, effort, disbelief, confusion, helplessness, inabilities???)?   Therefore if there was value then why was it subjected to a more pragmatic recasting?
  7. Market conditions were totally overlooked with the belief that market presence and prominence would in fact allow for leadership to exist.   Looking back on the rise and fall of businesses, technology based or others, it all comes down to misguided arrogance and a lack of humility.

Assessment Flaws

Objectivity is an important part of assessments.  A flaw however is to what extent is objectivity is maintained.  For example, assessment organizations often have biases and build their evaluations around those biases.  Maybe its a process or a technique or even what the assessment will concentrate on.  Often is the case that its these very biases that the credibility of the assessor is based upon.  Without prejudice or opinion an example is Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Research Methodology that outlines the way they depict a company’s industry positioning.  Rest assured that all organizations has some linchpin tool.  After all most would not consider any assessor or simply stated that they come in, look about and ask a few question in order to reach as assessment opinion.  So how do you address this prescriptive bias?   One must look deep and hard into what the tool/approach will address and how (aka scope).   Is this really what you are expecting, is it looking at elements that haven’t been considered, and will it provide unbiased insight?

Another flaw in the assessment process is bench marking.  Will the assessment measure your organization on fair terms or on an overly simplistic basis?  If you are a health care clinic are you being measured against research hospitals?  While the information may be insightful it may be a bit out of character to treat all health institutions on the same basis.  It should also be noted however that there may be some elements of similarity that will exist and need to be shown.  This is where our understanding and approval of the approach will come into play as it relates to the assessment model.

Credibility can be a problem.  New entries into the assessment arena suffer from the lack of credible endorsement.  The same can also be true when credible assessment organizations give way to the field personnel that are used on the engagement.  Both require handling with care.  It has been our observation that there have been good and bad situations overall.  The deciding factors involve;

  • Model used,
  • Level of transparency,
  • Degree of involvement,
  • Independent unbiased and adaptable data sources,
  • Field of vision beyond the present, and
  • Interpretation with action plan (which considered right options vs. ‘my’ options).

Conclusion

Humans look for approval, they look for endorsement and we strive for success.  So do companies but unfortunately daily demands get in the way of objective and ongoing self-examination.  The advent of more progressive analytics have made significant strides forward.  Despite data shortcomings many are getting authenticity back on track purely based on contributory value.  An essential part of transitioning on a routine basis and dealing with disruptions is a healthy assessment mechanism.  It cannot be effectively used on a piecemeal basis and needs to be done in a comprehensive fashion.  This is not entirely a matter of performing periodically but can also be embraced with a comprehensive framework of unbiased analytics but further supported by unbiased evaluation.

Know who you are, know where you want to go, be aware of your surroundings (internally and externally) and rapid readiness to transition remains a key component over a plan that needs constant care and attention.


 

“We live in a time where reality and fantasy exist with blurred lines.” – J. Durant

In context of transitional sciences we consider and debate the question as to the adaptability of people to morph from the present state to some aspired to condition.  The journey is often rough as the result of many condition.  Theriantrhropy is the mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into other animals by means of shapeshifting.  The present day the concept of theriantrhropy can be considered as our ability to change ourselves into different forms, not necessarily in the physical sense but in behavioral/intellectual ways.   Some of this will occur as a bi-product of experience, exposure and learning.  Other changes result from external influences.   During the last decade our ability to transform has been challenged with the rapid changes in our world be it occurring in society, technology, business or the tightened connections within the global community.   We simply cannot curl up into a ball, in the corner of a room and expect to be safe.

First State Condition (Now/Present)

Before we even get started one must give consideration to what state the person(s) are in.  Are they struggling, unmotivated, overachieving, opinionated, persuasive, empowered, bewildered, etc.?   We must never overlook where we are, what is causing these conditions to exists (both good and bad), and what corrections might need to be employed before embarking on a state of transition.  I refrain from relating this to specific genders, age groups or cultures to avoid generalization, but these two can play a hidden but decisive contribution as to what occurs and how these matters must be attended two.

Second State Condition (Compelling Drive)

We must assume that we have taken steps to acknowledge, re-mediate and to address the know conditions that exist in the first state.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been resolved, but it is expected that it becomes an element of attention during the course of transitioning in order to facilitate expedient achievement of planned objectives.  In the second state is when we look to elements to facilitate transitioning.  The most common tactic is to engage ownership.  In today’s business climate it less about assignment and more about taking voluntary ownership.   Some companies have created this climatic condition that can be viewed as customary.  However for others, especially in industries and cultures that are have a strong ‘command and control’ mentality, this will be something very new.  In order to achieve this we must,

  • introduce the concept and all of the beneficial reasons for this change in approach,
  • put forth the elements needing ownership and permitting guided signup for each. Note: it is critical that we guide this in order to avoid over-subscription or taking on roles that  are a mismatch, and
  • go forth, monitor, coach/counsel, reassign if necessary (but with dignity) and update as appropriate.

Third State Condition (Steady State)

Our conditioned ability to reach a steady state in transitioning is not for a single occurrence but one that will survive the potential every changing events that are apt to occur.  It was difficult to suggest that that a steady state would ever be achieve and would most likely be assaulted with new transitional challenges.  Whether these occur as a result of new principals and constraints or whether embodied inside of an element of disruptive change is unknown.  Experience has shown that changes occur, that some of these are apt to fail and then repair sometime later, and others will take the world by storm (duration to be either sustained or momentary).  It’s for these reasons that transitional aptitude and mindset must be keen and responsive.  Reliance on resilience based on the person or intuition are simply added benefits, not a reliable means to achieve positive and lasting flexibility.

The third state has one element that is key, toning.  Like a body builder who achieve a desired stature in order to maintain that they need regular toning physically, mentally and nutritionally.  Toning to achieve a steady state in transitioning (addressing the regular assaults of solicited and unsolicited change) involves toning.

  • Physical transitional toning – Regular involvement, refinement and development of transitional aptitude.
  • Mental transitional toning – Intense topical immersion through educational means.  It is important to utilize a geographically diverse variety that  (formal, informal, reading, classes, mentoring discussions, observation…) fits your learning style.
  • Nutritional transitional toning – Understanding you physiology…. what your application index is, the type of person you are (Myers-Briggs, Colored Brain…) and how to provide a suitable intellectual nutritional balance to maintain proficiency.

As management we are always worried about time and cost.  How much time will need to be dedicated to or how much cost will be involved.  This is not only a very legitimate question but also one that must drive much of what we do.  Instinct is not a sound means to achieve real and last results.

In terms of time, this relates to the three states as previously described.   Lots of issues will require attention even though these are matters that should have been corrected earlier.   Slow progress caused by environment and events will extend time.  However, the payback is found downstream as we start to pace the organization with present day state of changes.  No drag race goes from a standing stop to full speed immediately, and neither should we expect organizations to transition that way.

The cost relate mostly to the cost of time but the offset to the time is a higher degree of control and responsiveness to change.  We can easily dispatch an event to an appropriate level of attention, with a proper support collective in an expedient fashion and do so without be reacting but orderly responsiveness.

In conclusion, what we see happening and what some of you may envision is a lasting change in behavior.  A change that brings pragmatic protocol to embrace habit conditioned to the realities of transitioning, change and expediency.

 

 

The way we act may not be an indication of who we are.” – J. Durant

Throughout the course of our lifetime we will struggle with our identity.  While we may profess that our search has been reached it becomes more of a defensive response than one of deep and committed reflection.

For the last decade the world has rapidly slipped into a contentious state.  The blame cannot rest upon the social media vehicles that carry the message but in the acts of those who feel compelled to express their beliefs.   So who are you anyways?

Retrospective

A healthy part of life is to reflect on who we are.  It isn’t about what we have accomplished, since these are simply momentary acclaims that will carry us forward for a brief bit of time.  If sustained it must be done so in a very purposeful and responsible fashion.  This is where ego can easily take over and responsibility becomes a view of obligation and not one of respectful conduct.  All too many people have fallen out of favor because the legion of minions have moved forward leaving you standing alone on the battlefield that you have played a major role in creating.   Sustained success must remain true to those early ideals set as the reason for making a difference and not get caught up the frey created around us.

I think back in time when engineering was honestly pragmatic and devoid of superficial engagement in debates which diminished our credibility.  It was also a time where pragmatism was constantly assaulted by business decisions that were contextually intuitive and lacked structure.  With the advent of agility we created a framework that offered flexibility, but at the same time this power of capability gave way to some very strong opinions.  At first it was all about the level of agile purity that should be exercised.  Those early days created hard fought turf and as a result we unknowing lost flexibility and created evangelists.

When I look back at myself one of my hardened character traits involves the pursuit of purity and rightness, and this came from my early years as a technology auditor.  Things were looked as right or wrong, compliant or not, and when to the contrary working with the affected parties to gain agreement and create a suitable solution.  Unfortunately, if left unattended this vocation driven trait easily became one that endangered my personal life.   During a recent conversation a person shared with me the unfortunate bullying that some businesses owners were experiencing from customers using their social media clout.   Our emotions take over, professional stature builds momentum and we become irresponsible by acting through our readily available social platforms without considering some degree of professional decorum.   We overlook the need for respect and responsible behavior.  Don’t think for one moment that I have not been out of control and have throw caution to the wind.  Despite that momentary loss of sanity and the momentary euphoria it was soon followed by remorse.  The remorse wasn’t just about the loss of control but the possible damage it may have caused (directly and indirectly).

Change The World

For more than a century we have been ingrained with the ability to change the world.  We subconsciously believe that we will make a difference.  What we don’t realize is that a difference isn’t always a positive one but can be damaging and counteracted by others responses to their drive to make change.  These points of contention can be as simple as a difference of opinion on approach, a twist of outcome based on perspective, cultural vantage point or simply a discord relating directly to you sole based on you.  The later is the most difficult to overcome but consideration to the use of both ‘blind’ and ‘surrogate’ alternatives when the goal is something of significance.

It goes without saying that we will have have a contribution to the world simply by existing.  The next level is when we contribute as a part of a private closed framework, such as the case with organizations, as a member, or working as an employee for a business.  This is the juncture when we have to start tempering our personal beliefs with those of others.  Tempering is not conceding but adapting to conditions.  We face the challenge of authenticating our belief systems while processing what other beliefs we become expose to.  Baring in mind that these beliefs may be just as fragile as the ones we have been closely guarding during the course of our lifetime.  Its at this point we need to shape our personalities and our behaviors in such a way that it reflects who we are.  It becomes a contradiction of sorts when we say we are our own person when we chose to lead, follow, meld or decent into the pact.   Going back to our school days there was always a person or two that we would consider to be the bully.  In those formative years it was usually based on size, age or some urban myth of their bullying abilities.  Later on we discover that these things, while risk factors, had a fairly low probability of reliability or occurrence potential.

But have we advance from being in the shadows of fear of the bully on the playground to now the bully in life (or in business or in the profession we are associated with)?

Professional Bullies

There is a saying that “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing (A. Pope)”.  It isn’t just about the knowledge we have or the moment of notoriety we have achieved, but its the way we responsibly use it.  If you look back on contacts that you have made you may hold certain people in high adoration because of this trait.  You may also feel a bit misused by being a minion to that ‘one hit wonder’ who is loud and self righteous, but has absolutely no respect for anyone.   It is also likely they don’t have self-respect because they have not taken the time to look within, hear around, consider the obvious and ignore the potential of their harmful and destructive patterns.

Today disrespectful contention (aka bullying) abounds.  Contention between generational groups, social and leadership debates and the ongoing riff over religion.  Where has it taken us?  To wars with no winners, the loss of cooperation and the abundance of hate.   So if we want to make a change we need to start with understanding the difference we are making that is possibly not a constructive one that can also be self damaging.

A client had a problem with one of their teams.  They felt that the team was not functioning as a team and that there were certain members that we in fact not contributing in a positive fashion.   While the customer felt that training was the best opinion there were open to suggestion.   After careful observation and bit of stealth listening there were several discoveries.

  1. The chief compliant about non-team minded members proved to be the case that it was those complaining were the problem.  Further examination revealed that they were under performing and needed the support of the others who they were complaining about.
  2. Much of the work that was being done did not require a ‘team’ approach.  A simple blueprint for connectivity was all that was needed.
  3. The concept of self-empowered created an atmosphere of righteous indignation towards their fellow teammate.
  4. The team was undersized and over managed.  While we can’t always get the resources we need the solution became more managing our of fear of failing.  Re-scoping what could be delivered and to what extent became a more durable and mutually agreed to decision.
  5. Management viewed the turmoil within the team as a failure of the team.  Thus confidence was lost even though it was recovered with a few simple adjustments.

The biggest takeaway was that a plan is only achievable if one understands the transitional changes necessary to retain focus.

Responsibility

Nothing succeeds without people, not as a resource or a talent, but in attitude.  As I was told the other day that you develop an impression of a person but its not until you have social interaction that you really understand who they are.   “You can’t just a book by it’s cover” is apropos in this case.  So what kind of revealing characteristic do you want for ‘you’?   Is it a good cover with horrible content, is it a suitable cover but with sincerity and respectful guidance, or is a book with no cover and the content is still awaiting a first draft?    During the course of a lifetime we are in search of this answer.  There is no rule that prescribes that a certain trait should occur at a point of time in your life.  Lessons and change occurs based on the progression of life and it affects us based on our span of openness.  This span may simple be in a small hamlet or on the world stage.  With each span of openness our responsibilities increase.

Thinking can be a good thing but sometimes it can also create amazing gut wrenching conflict.  In preparing to write these thoughts I went through a moment of retrospective as to who I am.   A narrow path of this reflection involved the question, “am I a conservative or a liberal”.  I resorted to looking at the definitions of these two opposing ends of the belief system and came to realize that I am neither.  In fact I have become balanced (purely coincidental and not by design) having beliefs in both domain.  How did this happen since I always considered myself a conservative?  What I have discovered is that while my regional/social upbringing created the starting point that life presented to me opportunities to change.  Not always willfully, sometimes out of necessity and at other times the result of a massive exposure to different things.  These things involved people, places, technologies, viewpoints, awareness, research, self-discovery, marriage and children.  In short, life experiences.  The things I avoided were the result of restraint and respectful responsibility.  The things I didn’t avoid created lessons and also a sense of accomplishment.  But with these achievements came a massive responsibility to not be a bully but be a guide.  It’s a privilege that commands self-restraint and a willingness to avoid false pontification.   The label we carry is not one bestowed by the masses but the gift we give to ourselves.  We share this with others for the advancement of civilization and not the destruction of hard work.

 


 

“Fear is debilitating and causes irrational thinking.  We need to back up a couple of steps and look at things in a better light before we throw ourselves from the building.” – J.Durant

For quite sometime we have been bombarded with articles and news about the coming of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and all sorts of other ‘human replacement’ tools.  As I am sure some of you are aware there are just some things that these things can’t do or at least we would not permit them to do just because they might be a bit more reliable, efficient and consistent.   There again we have walked on the border with such controlled experimentation as cloning and various other forms of neuro response solutions so who knows just what kind of mad scientist may be lurking to set forth their madness in intellect driven machine.

So let’s take a moment and accept a few things…..

  1. Some form of intellect driven solutions will be put into play and these will replace legacy solutions that involve a human component.
  2. Most like intelligent solutions will embrace a consumer-to-business (C2B) paradigm.  This will ultimately reduce costs and expediate the formation of relationships.
  3. The care and oversight for such solutions will require humans.  However, rather than relying upon casual oversight they will be nurtured by intelligent analytics either in the form of predictive or preemptive forms.   And,
  4. Robots are apt to be involved in order to serve as a service conduct into the interaction with the AI environment.

Now for the really questions that never seem to get mentioned from those expounding on the AI exploits of leading companies like Google, SalesForce, DeepMind, Facebook, OpenAI, Baidu, Microsoft Research, Apple, IBM and Remark.   But in delving into these deeper it is clear that there are a few elements to recognize.  Some of these are noted as AI involved based purely on name and maybe a slight be of tinkering with the concepts and technologies.  There are some that are heavily focused on the AI mechanism that would be used to drive an AI like behavior.  Finally there are some that have wrapped the AI wrapper around an intelligent process, possible an advanced analytic element, and labeled it as AI.   You are also apt to see a similar situation with terms such as learning machine and robotics (especially those that are non-mechanical) as well.

Classical Transitioning Concern

An all to common condition that exists in transitioning is having a plan that is doomed before steps are taken due directly as a result of existing issues.  Thus far we have not seen any of these points raised up by the AI and robotics enthusiasts or those who have expressed guarded reluctance to journey toward the utilization thereof.   Some of these existing conditions include,

  • Green field conceptualization of the AI model and the metamorphic conditions one can anticipate.
  • Interface negotiations from sending as well as receivers.  Stakeholders in receiving solutions may be a bit reluctant to accept AI driven infeeds.
  • Verification and Validation (V&V) readiness.  Most recently British Airways had a system wide shutdown that crippled their operations.  If we are experiencing these conditions in complex networked but traditional systems what is it going to be like with flight by automatic systems like AI?
  • What mechanisms will be used to fuel the AI solution?  Will those mechanisms be ready to provide reliable feed information but in doing so be expedient enough to fuel the AI application?
  • Have boundary reach parameters been set?
  • Consideration for security, validation, performance, real-time conflict management, in-flight updating, and some of the more technical elements of AI?
  • Has thinking been toward ‘right solution’ and not remain focused on existing solution?   Again more green field/blue sky thinking.
  • Formulating a growth based design that will engage elements of robotics and analytics.
  • Understanding that the AI solution may be more than just an event driven paradigm and will demand the inclusion of event base stimulation, deductive modeling that builds upon (or adjusts) a rule frame repository, and the concepts of prediction/authentication/ and progressive simulation (apart from the live environment).
  • Destination driven repository containers that are distributed but interconnected globally as opposed to single destination service.  This also brings up the question about non-stop up-time.
  • Extent of human or non-human intervention schema.

And there are allot more that are required in order to insulate from failure and elevate the opportunity of success.

Circle Condition

Unbeknownst to consumer/recipients of change there exists some form of exploratory cycle.  It may be as simple as a survey and an alpha test of market, or as formal as experimental research.   I reread an article (actually from a different source) on TensorFlow Playground a working example of neural technology.  Impressive and stimulating, well illustrated form of scientific/mathematical application to draw deductive suggestive outcomes with a high probability of accuracy (but not at 100%).  Then I got thinking about whether 100% was attainable from humans either, after all we are prone to mistakes whether through random attention or the result of circumstantial conditions that exist.  Clearly the purpose is to build a sense of trust and understanding, as a commercial effort for the market place.  It also illustrates that the technology was being applied to the known science of math and to legitimize its ability.  What we have seen however is that the line between research and usable solution is often a fuzzy line.  The jumping from concept to application overlooks some grooming required and especially in this case the need for a science that has an element of runaway evolvement based on conditional stimulation and seed data.

In some respects the concepts and principals of AI follow a similar path as is the case with compilers.  There are a finite set of conditional parameters that can be involved based on formalized criteria, set by the institution, to produce and outcome.  What creates the circle is that the outcome is then feed back in the process to which some events may be repeated and others taking a totally different path.  The fear isn’t in the use of the technology it’s all of the possible things that can go wrong.  To understand their potential and to determine what the appropriate level of care that must be exercised should be.   This is not a path in which we have seen similar debates about before.  Space programs, nuclear reactors and fly-by-wire systems have all had their moments of glory and those times when intervention (and often spot creativity) must be exercised.

So Where Are We Now?

We are in some interesting times.  It remains uncertain the degree and speed in which AI will advance.  My suspicion is that for some that are already poised with intellectual driven tools, whether it be predictive analytics (ready for preemptive forms), robotic clusters looking to advance from rule based paradigms or semi-thinking information technology solutions looking to employ a bit more merging of trends with behavior change they definitely will have a leg up.  For the rest it will become a decision as whether to wait or to start taking some of those formative steps now that exists for the organizations that are poised.   Looking at past failed attempts at AI it was the result of institutional support (left mostly to universities and the Department of Defense with Ada).  Today respected institutions, like Google, provide a groundswell of interest and support by association.  Whether its rightly so is not up for debate but rather to be acknowledged as a fact.  It is not without risks but as long as we humans have control we can do what is needed to insure that our AI will succeed in a controlled and appropriate fashion.

It has become a norm to adopt the principal of asking for what you want.  However, we are seldom prepared to except the disappointment of it not coming true.  You hear and see this when the topic of generational behavior becomes a topic of discussion.

Personal empowerment isn’t a gifted ability to achieve end results.  Personal empowerment is the gift of responsible understanding of what you can do and what elements you have no control over.

Recently an acquaintance was lamenting about his personal love life.  On a regular basis he puts forth is painful anguish, his frustrations and the underlying hurt that he is experiencing.  While I try to make light of the topic and encourage him to grow up a bit, I do feel and appreciate his pain.  This situation is more than likely one that all of us has experienced at one time or another.  On this recent sharing of experiences I made the suggestion that he needed to start looking at personal relationships with a different viewpoint.  That viewpoint involved using the sensory abilities and to stop looking at these engagements as thought it was some pragmatic business plan.  His reaction, although not as a total surprise, was to suggest that I needed to get up to date with my thinking.  It made me chuckle and my retort was simple…. “I’m not the one with the problem, you are.  And as long as I’m still alive you need to know who is in control.”   I share this story for one purposeful reason, and that is about your ability to control.

We can fool ourselves into believing we have these powers and abilities.  Maybe we do, and yet maybe they are just in the early stages of development.  Whatever the case, we are able to do things with these but they may not necessarily drive a #transition in thinking, behavior or outcomes.  They simply become like bees swarming around your head or more aggressively become rubber bullets bouncing off of superman.  As a result content is created, loss of respect occurs, avoidance becomes a natural reaction and underlying to all of this an undercurrent of distraction occurs that takes our focus away from other more pressing and important matters.

Control is not a tool of force, to be wheeled as bludgeoning device, but is an art form that is used to mobile results.  Yes, I would consider this to be one of the pillars for successful transitioning, but certainly not the only one.  Climatic conditions, experience, resourcefulness, clarity and lean visioning are also essential and necessary contributory forces.  Control however becomes a tool to be used prudently, never allowing the control to be assumed as a given but considered as a resource to be exercised.  Initiatives that go terribly wrong have shown time and again that control (excessive or lack of) was a contributing element.

Types of Control

How good is your self-control?  Most would answer in a positive way.  But let’s say you haven’t eaten today and you walk into your home and there sitting on the counter is your favorite food.  You partner has given you explicit instructions not to touch the food until they arrive.  Can you exercise restraint, thus self-control or will you succumb to your hunger and cast aside respectful instructions?

Self-control gets tempered by conditions, and not all of these conditions are healthy ones.  Some may be driven by psychological conditions created by the work or family climate, situational conditions caused as a result of ingestion (like alcohol) or ones that occur from random unexpected situations.

Engineered controls are task focused regulators that can permit or reject outcomes.  Created to act as watch dogs they relieve us of regular ongoing vigilant oversight.  Even then we are obligated to exercise our self-control to not simply permit them to run unobserved.  In this day and age in exploring the possibility of grand scale artificial intelligence and learning machine technology the employment of engineered controls cannot be under estimated as required.  In this category of controls there are a subset of types ranging from feedback, to restrictive, alternative route and alert forms.  Its not as important to know what type or form but understand that these are a resource and when they should be employed.

Power of Transitional Control

Achieving outcome value is paramount.  It’s not simply not a question of Return on Investment (ROI), expediency or harmony but also embraces holistic fluidity.  Not trying to sound too vogue by creating new terminology but the concept of holistic fluidity embraces that belief that distractions become a rarity and that to produce value outcomes you must have all of your efforts in sync.   Even under the best of circumstances there will be assaults on the holistic fluidity of transitioning.  Politics, contentions, unrest, historic apprehensions, staffing shift, contentious initiatives and lack of self-control place at risk transitional success.  One might say, “I’m willing to see how things turn out has they have in the past”, but then we need to looking truthfully at the success stories of the past.  Are there any and if so is our success conclusion based on concrete fact or simply a weakening of outcome expectations?

Each of us is shaped by our journey.  Its not about the achievement of goals or the attainment of glory but rather its the way in which we have lived our personal and professional life.  In that story is the thread we call #transitioning.  Our transitions from child to adult, from student to employee, from individual to family….   Time and again we see that the abrupt moments are the ones that put us at risk and uncertainty.  Time and again we struggle to find stability and each time we advance we do so with a bit more comfort, less wasteful and more confidence.  This is transitioning and it all comes down to the degree in which we exercise control.  Whether it be what we can manage, called self-control, or we put into play other forms of control to guide our way to a positive outcome.

#transitioning #transitionalscience #control #plan #change

From birth the human inner-self seeks to impress.  Those first steps looking for welcoming approval from parents, the success in academic achievement and later in life the favorable approval from bosses and colleagues.  Are we impressing or simply looking for an absence of condemnation?

Impressing is a key element in transitioning, it’s the lubricant that provides for fluid movement towards achieving goals.  There is less proving and more permissiveness, and to a large extent being giving the privilege of accountability/responsibility is heavily influenced by the impression we have made.

Are We Playing to the Right Audience

As we mature our independence moves us away from those are strong supporters to those that are more in keeping with our peer status.  In those teen years expending effort on our peers (to impress and set forth a position in the peer group) we often foresake our parents being impressed.  Seems a bit ironic that we would give up what is a sound and dependable source of impressing for the simple feel good independence of peer approval.  If we look at this further we will often give up personal beliefs and norms in order to impress during those teen and early adult hood years.  Often, later in life, we find ourselves lamenting about this act of impression seeking rebellion and the abandonment of solid support.  From cradle to grave we stress to impress…. we seek endorsement often from those who can’t effect value for us and even if they can they aren’t a lifetime reliable source.  So who can we impress… the search starts with self.

Unfortunately the seeking to impress in our later professional, and to some extent our personal life, continues in this distorted path.  We seek solace in groups, support is sought in being a part.  We maintain a very convoluted belief that our strength will be seen in the group (by standing out) when in fact organizations look for those who are not a pact but the mobilizers of pacts.   Over the course of my work with companies I have found those who impress are those who understand that its an outcome and not a pursuit.  Meaning that a focus on self abilities and habits far out weighs ‘fitting in’.  It however also seems that the guides, the coaches and the educators are still operating from the position of ‘group’.  You will see papers, courses and even conferences that are heavily dedicated to group dynamics.   There are external events that are weighted with team building even when the work that is being undertaken is not a group exercise.  So as it tries to encapsulate the people in a spirit of community it ends up having to focus on ‘proper behavior’.

Back on Point

The dynamics of impressing, and in subsequent impact on transitioning has to be based on value delivery.  I once told a colleague that, “you should never go into a sales meeting with the belief that you need the sale”.  After getting some very confused looks I went on to explain that the drive for a goal creates a carnival atmosphere that borders on graveling.  Claims are made, truths are stretched and even our animated behavior becomes more comedic then valuable.   The customer knows the end game and so do you, so why not focus on relationship building and value based sharing than creating extra ‘must get sale’ window dressing that only creates more risk of failing.   Impressing, I contend, starts from within.  We need to look within ourselves and understand our limitations and not just our strengths.  We need to understand our value to the business and to ourselves, and in doing so create a valued asset and not just another operational liability for the business.   Yes, people are the backbone of a company.  However, that backbone must be viewed as to the value it presents.   It’s for these reasons that spending time on impressing should be the result of value and not based upon a position of popularity.

If you are popular and people around you move on you will face a new audience that may not necessarily be that impressed.  But also this new audience is most likely looking to impress as well, and this dynamic places a challenge on those who impressed based on popularity and not based on outcome.  Those in the technical and administrative communities realize that those that are among their ranks in value are not easily displaced by new entrants who wish to make their mark.  The old saying that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ supports this notion.

Conclusion

So what have we learned?

  1. Impressing is a key component in the transitioning equation.  It removes risk and creates a dependable basis for success.
  2. Impressing is a natural human condition.  However, impression through focus on value is more sustainable than impressing on a social level.
  3. Value is the key to all that we do.  To produce value it requires us to be impressed with ourselves.  But to be impressed with ourselves we must honestly understand our strengths and our weaknesses.
  4. The dynamics of group makes it difficult to create an ‘impression’ level that extends beyond the team.  Even in team sports a star player is only as good as the team he/she is a star within, and that is based upon self-impressed responsibility.
  5. Leaders are also subject to impressions created for both internal to the company but also to the external world.  Impressing that has gone bad is the result of a loss of focus in producing value and the entering into a search for impressing others.  (old habits die hard)
  6. Finally, impressions rely upon your crafted persona.  Truth, honesty, forthright, topical expertise and openness are some of the virtues we may use to impress and create adoration.

For some nations this is without question a violation of law and for others its an unwritten reality masked by smartly crafted employment criteria.  The fact is there are ways to avoid the onslaught of white haired seniors and to keep them from providing a value contribution to business and society.  It is quite ironic that when it comes to gainful employment that this resource is overlooked, while it is sought after if involves a volunteer role.

Up until the 1990s senior members of organizations were a prized and valued asset.  They weren’t looked upon as over-the-hill, a soon to retire dead wood or even a non-contributor.  What they were viewed as was a invested asset, one in which experience and skills became a tool and not a liability.  A changing of the guard and the search for greater profits put seniors in the cross hairs of business downsizing.  After all, they had earned a wage that was superior to the juniors and with each passing moment the cost of retirement and medical were rapidly becoming a concern.  To avoid these costs, the value elements was cast aside in favor of a pure money savings viewpoint.  In order to easy minds further the senior became a token, used to legitimize the need for earnings for growing families and up and coming talent.

Wise is this SO Wrong?

In business one has to constantly look at cost, and for public companies this is further stressed by the earning demands of shareholders.  We see the recognition of people giving way to such sterile titles as human resource and human capital.  This all to the credit of creativity but unfortunately ignoring that this commodity is in fact dealing with humans.  The fall out, which I prefer to call rubble, is a loss of self-esteem and a sense of having no purpose.  Those fortunate to harvest a nice retirement nest egg could move on, even if they weren’t ready.  But by-and-large most that were put out to pasture we not ready, and it damaged people (possibly your parents or elder relatives).  In desperation they sought purpose but faced a massive challenge to find anything close to what they had.  Relegated to low wage jobs they pushed forward.  What you see is a strong work ethic and commitment despite the devastating loss of self-esteem.  You would hear people further justify their role as ‘having nothing better to do’ or ‘they only need to earn a little to subsidize their retirement’.

The removal of the senior workforce created a much larger problem and that being the transitioning of work.  Many if not all downsizing efforts resulted in retrenchment of staff into roles that were either not in their skill area or simply they weren’t ready.  Masked by titles and faux responsibilities the train left the station.  The successes were far and few between, we see the advent of formal CSM (Customer Service Management) come into being as a result of these changes.  Further hidden from view was the masking of this problem in the form of further downsizing efforts where by the failures could be simply hidden within.  This misplace souls, along with the previous senior community saw a blooming of independent business occur.  Many in the form of consultancies and unfortunately a deterioration of quality service delivery from these temporary enterprises.  Many consultancies became a stop over in unemployment that permitted chances to seek permanency via consulting engagements.

What to DO?

Unless you are in the top 10% of those looking for a C-Level or Board position your chance of employment remains a challenge.  I worry when I see people 10 or 20 years my junior jumping positions for reasons that may or may not be under their control.  My concerns is that verbalized legitimacy is not a pretense for value based selling, its simply an excuse that helps you contend with the real reasons.  As a senior still ready-willing-able truthful examine yourself.  Most are unable to do this objectively and therefore you need to be coached as to what image you have.  Secondly, you need to show present aptitude and ability.  Seniors ARE NOT easy to manage.  Why?   Experience while valuable also poses a challenge to ideas and missions that may have flaws.  The value of experience is also a challenge (almost always in a positive way but for those in control it is often viewed as an affront on authority).  Likewise, is the challenge of socialization in terms of fitting in.  In my early business career fitting is was more about getting along and not about whether someone was older or different than us. Today socialization has become a matter of like kind and not ‘right kind’.  This situation disrupts elements of a company and creates more often than not negativism that becomes legitimized based on age and not the attitude that makes age as the convenient excuse.

Is There Remaining Value?

This is a questions that management companies need to ask.  I would also submit that this abundant resource should not be used for the mainstream day-to-day operational elements but as a knowledge pool that helps to support both operational and future reaching ambitions.  The span of time, creating experience, helps to see ahead without lingering on the past.  Looking ahead embraces innovative thinking at the C-Levels in business which up to now has very little support network to legitimize and test the possibilities that are contrived.    This knowledge pool can be deployed on one of two ways.  The first utilizing a hand selected consultancy pool but organized under a single point of leadership (either within or external to the company).  The second way is to form a group whereby experience and skill requirements are the criteria.  In this last form the company can entertain those with exceptional values even if they aren’t seniors in the context of age.

Conclusion

One should not view age as the factor but rather the loss of value and the pressing present need for correction that only can be achieved through the test of time which creates experience.  There is remaining work that needs to be done to overcome skill and aptitude gaps caused by the rash financially based staffing decisions that have been made.

I stated a few days ago in a social post that “if you stay in your profession long enough you will see a recurrence of discussions and battles from past times”.   Most rational thinkers would prefer a veteran from a prior war than a fresh enlistment who hasn’t seen the pressures of combat.  Its time to rethink the resources and the needs that our companies exist and stop searching for something that may or may not even exist.

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