A Brand New Day…


A Brand New DayOne of the many things my Father shared that made a lasting impression, was his views on the importance of beginnings and endings, these he felt to be key components for one to live gracefully… to accept “gracefulness” in one’s life.

Specifically, that being “graceful” was determined by how one chose to “start” and “end” everything one engaged with and did. Of the two, that the style and quality of how one chose to “end” something far outweighed all other circumstances. Becoming the very essence of what remained deep within us – and much less importantly – what others saw and remembered.

I have had many opportunities to observe and confirm the trueness and power of my Father’s wisdom, but also, to admire the difficulty of living such seemingly simple concept. This because we humans don’t exist in a vacuum… our conscious thinking, reasoning and resulting actions this moment, are very much influenced; not only by all that surrounds us in the present, but also by what we remember… all that we often subconsciously, have accepted and let “sink in”.

Thus, it stands to reason that it is our subconscious we need to be mindful of and keep in-check, otherwise, it (we) could naturally and “ungracefully”, short-circuit our own best present intentions, our very ability to believe in and/or accept ourselves and dare to dream beyond.

So, as we “archive” 2012 and start this brand new year, both my Father’s words and a collection of 10 simple statements from the works of Dr. Joseph Murphy, remind me and inform this note… my sincere and best wishes to you all:

  1. We have the ability and power to attract and choose everything in our lives.
  2. If we think “good”, “good” will follow… we are what we think all day.
  3. Our subconscious mind will not argue with us, rather, it will accept what our conscious mind establishes and directs.
  4. Our conscious mind is the “watchman at the gate”. Its chief function is to protect our subconscious from registering false impressions. Thus, and as our greatest power is our capacity to choose, why not strive to do it positively and well for ourselves?
  5. All suggestions and statements of others have no power to hurt us unless we allow this to occur. As we have the ability to choose what we think and do, the only power we must be mindful of and grapple with, is the movement of our own thoughts.
  6. We must watch what we say and strive to account for every idle thought or word. It is counterproductive to think or say; “I will fail” or “I will lose my job” or “I can’t pass the exam”… our subconscious mind does not know we may be kidding… and it will subconsciously; lead us to actions that may drive such things to happen.
  7. Yet, our minds are not naturally evil. No force of nature is naturally evil. But, the quality of what we think and do will depend on how we choose to use the power of our natural selves. What if we chose to use our minds and actions to bless, to heal, and to inspire ourselves and all people we come in contact with everyday?
  8. What if we were to eliminate “I can’t” from our vocabulary?
  9. We can choose… we are the captains of our souls (subconscious mind) and thus, the masters of our fate. What if we chose Life? Chose Love? Chose Health? Chose Prosperity and to be Happy?
  10. Whatever our conscious minds assume and believe to be true, our subconscious mind will accept and bring to life.

This I believe…

May you all live this New Year presently and one moment at-a-time. May you all not judge what comes into your thoughts and life as either “good” or “bad”, for you are bigger and better than a momentary experience.

May you all boldly craft and live your own versions of success, health, wealth, love… and let such, brilliantly shine as a beacon of light from the amazing human individuals you all are.

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2000-2013

The power of our humanness…


Regardless of one’s affiliations or belief systems, one of the most important conditions to reach for something bigger than ourselves is being “all in”; a deep emotional commitment permeating all we think and do which inspires and is fed by many along the way… ultimately reshaping who we are by the process.

Then, to recognize and THANK all of those without whose efforts, such achievement could not occur.

It is always inspiring and hopeful to witness when the inner strength imbedded within our human species is so openly expressed; when tears of gratitude can naturally flow from the strength of our own convictions.

Whether democrat or republican, winner or loser, regardless of geography, wealth or gender, it is “being all in” that makes us valuable, authentic and decidedly human. This I believe…

Much ado about balance…


People often refer to “balance” in life or in work as if it was something pre-determined and concrete; a line-in-the-sand or a clearly defined goal that once reached, would produce such imagined “balanced” state of well-being.

The problem I have with this is that to me, the concept of “balance” isn’t fixed; rather, it is an ever changing “living” component of our individual lives whose definition is as diverse as we humans are and thus, any discourse about this “balance” – like with art –really is a highly subjective matter.

Who is to say that someone’s hectic and seemingly exhausting life isn’t really perfectly balanced… for them? Or that someone else’s highly organized seemingly moderated and diverse lifestyle isn’t really a nightmare of control and blandness to be avoided at all cost… for others?

In the past few years as “work-life balance” vision, objectives and words found their way into corporate statements and our own wistful vernacular, I have come to consider such as “unbalanced”; superficial “flannel”, which does little more than add noise and possible dissent into our corporate and private lives.

It is a relatively modern trend to view “work” as something singular and different from an individual’s “life”, but I’m reminded and offer that there should not be such a clear distinction between the two; that they are in-fact interdependent, each an integral part of the other and each – at times – requiring that more focus be given to one over the other.

For I can’t imagine living possible; in balanced ways or otherwise, without actually working at producing something in real-time; be it the pollen a flower produces for dissemination by bees and wind, to everyday necessities we acquire by the application and exchange of our life skills, to the contribution we make as we guide our babies to hopefully grow into the “next generation” of productive people.

All subject to daily external influences which impact and alter our lives and how we may have to modify our reactions to engage and deal with such influences moment by moment.

The idea that these and all other evergreen “productive life” components which together contribute to an overall life-on-the-planet balance of sorts, should each have and follow some form of prescribed self-balance – even if we could actually come to agree on what that “balance” should be for us as a species – is flawed and unreachable me thinks.

Have we – in our relative affluence – grown softer and more demanding of what is “due to us”?

Do airline pilots, typically regulated to fly about 40 hours per month, have more “balance” in their lives than the average Western individual working 60 hours per week… or a person working 18+ hours per day in an Asian factory? Which amount of work vs. “work-free” time, and/or “level” of balance within ourselves should we be striving for?

What about our poorer and distant neighbors… the folk elsewhere in Africa and India for example, scouring nearly around the clock for the means of basic survival such as finding relative safety, drinkable water and food of any kind that we, with our self-induced complicated lives, take for granted as a basic given? Do they need or even think about “work-life balance”… or is having the gift of actually waking-up breathing yet another day, hopeful of being able to make it all the way through to the evening with – perchance – some improvement, balance enough?

Perhaps our search for “balance” is a distracting cause; the wrong value to use when assessing ways to enhance our human existence holistically and in a sustainable productive manner. For all of us still breathing – in all of our wondrous diversity – manages to achieve our own reality based version of a “balanced life” if not on a daily basis, certainly over a period of time.

Remarkably, I believe our existential needs remain largely unchanged over the thousands of years our animal species has been around… regardless of gender and varying levels of modern day complexity, we are basically a “caves & commons” species; requiring security and solitude for self-reflection, healing and survival, as well as, communal engagement and interaction to give & take, lead & support, fight & love, reproduce & evolve to live another day.

The fact we may believe this ought to happen more gracefully or in a more even manner, albeit interesting, does not determine the overall worthiness; the blended achievement occurring in our current everyday lives… as “imperfect” as we may think such to be.

* Published in the Good Men Project: “Much Ado About Balance

In the desert…


There’s a crescent moon rising now halfway up the prayer tower. There’s a cooler quality to the dry desert air and all of the “sand” colors have been muted into invisibility by the dark velvet of night… the twinkling of lights here and there bringing the firmament up close and personal to the senses and everywhere, the din of Farsi mixed with Russian, French, Spanish and other versions of chattering, all blend into a white-noise language unique to the Middle-East.

Surrounded by every size and shape of slick European cars, the sight of a Volkswagen becomes an incomprehensible absurdity as seen through the exquisite dark eyes of imagined beautiful Arab women bent on impacting this world so different and juxtaposed to all else known.

Another long day comes to a close… and with it, the realization that I left shoes at a stall elsewhere in the city. The shoeshine man is from Cameron and over the course of these past few days we’ve disagreed on football superstars, agreed on the fine qualities of Portuguese creole cuisine and his shoeshine skills, solved a fair bit of a number of Middle-East crisis and have become friends.

No doubt my shoes are safe and having their own adventure with other Arab footwear on this magical night. Looking forward to learning all about such adventures in the morning when I’ll make may way back to retrieve them.

One of the doormen to this grand paradise hotel I’m in is named Birry… he is from Kenya. He opened the foreign car door and eased me into the fine scented leather interior for my ride to the office this morning and he opened the door and eased me out when I returned tonight; Birry ‘s pulling over a 12 hour shift so far, spanning temps from 30 to 45 degree C. whilst wearing a long formal coat over a crisp white shirt and black trousers. Birry is slowly cooking day after day with the most amazing bright smile that some of us would pay thousands to get our own choppers to resemble.

Over the past few days, we’ve discussed and came to an agreement on what the ideal uniform for his function ought to be… we’ve had a few laughs over this.

Bisel greets everyone by our correct last name at the Italian restaurant I seem to gravitate to now and then… she is from the Philippines and smiles a lot when she talks about “home” yet, she quickly reminds me about how fortunate she is to be able to stand and greet people 12+ hours day-in and day-out six days per week, in this very large and pleasantly cool marble carved lobby. She taught me a trick she does with her feet and legs to fool them into not cramping.

Her amazing mind shames me for not remembering to pick up my shoes, her smile and attitude teaches me to be thankful… She too is etched into this experience.

Then there is “L”, she is tall and slim, a uniquely pretty Eastern European woman who followed her Eastern European lover from London to here hoping to have a life with him… alas, it didn’t work out as he left and never came back on the second day of arriving; which she claims these things happen for the best; as she wraps the Juicy Couture hoodies I bought as a gift for the girls. She too touched me and, as we wished each other well before leaving the store, I think we both knew we would remember the connection.

Outside, tall and proud Arab men in their long white thobe’s are everywhere, walking in pairs whilst fingering prayer beads or the silk ropes draped over their chests, they generally keep to themselves… but invariably they look at me; dressed in my Ermenegildo Zegna dark suit, crisp white shirt and gold tie, often say; ” As-Salāmu `Alaykum “… this is a thrill and I dare not say anything choosing instead to smile and sometimes offer a polite semi-bow; for fear of shattering their illusion that I belong… my innocent play reinforcing how remarkably alike we all are in spite of our externally perceived differences.

Easy for me to imagine this place with no buildings; nothing but sand and sky void of all further choreography, to “see” those that walk erect on two legs within it take on a different scale; becoming giants – anomalies – the focal point for all action and life itself. Perceived in this manner, it is easier to grasp the natural Arab ethos that to the outside world may seem like pride and aloofness.

Therein lies the fundamental misunderstanding – the rat hole – most Westerners get lost in me thinks… because we simply have never been part of the great womblike void this mother-desert is, we’ve never been that prominent nor the focus of our own selves… we’ve always had background choreography to replace the need for that stark self-awareness.

It is so spirit expanding and good to be an accidental stand-in on such a complex play.

In the Land of the Blind


.
In the presence of so many blessings
there is deep regret
for blinding foolishness…
erroneous beliefs of permanence;

that all will remain as so manifested…

A continuum; definitions
of cause and effect
luring unsuspecting spirits
into ease.

But all is fluid, one discovers
upon awakening.
Such blessings are jewels to be
admired and treasured…

on the moment, forevermore

Gifts; precious and
of immense importance.
Presents,
in spite of our slumbering state.

For blessings
shower upon us all, within
every unquestioned breath
a gift.    Yet…

these things filter through; distorted
as happy coincidences, or
part of a natural order… or
the result of self-efforts

and thus, beyond our ability
to truly grasp their worth…
yet so full of ourselves
we are.

Regrets yes; over such
missed opportunities
to appreciate and fully see,
these remain…

now vivid, clear and stark
all the more…
the wistful regret of slumber
within a awakened state of awareness.

What shall I say…?

Child do not your heart
shield, from the wonders
you’ll find as your eyes open
and your body moves

in such wondrous first light…

Feel them…
as loving kisses; powerful,
sustainable well beyond
the day’s adventures.

Loose not yourself;
too valuable and
brilliant you are… mistrust
and question the blind’s directions.

Be the Cyclops…!

Because they said so…


We can all think of several authors and other sources of “wisdom” focused on distilling complex situations and ideas into catchy headline statements; simplistic and easy for all to remember. Such is the case with one that I recently came across proposing… “Pissed-Off People Are The Single Best Source Of Innovative Ideas”.

The good news is that; blended within the bold graphics and bolder bullet point statements, one can sometimes find jewels of sound logic and truths to be discovered and extracted if one is willing to think-through them and probe. The worry however, is that some may take these headlines at face-value and thus, miss the subtle truths (if any) that may have been intended and/or buried within them.

In the case above, the proposition may make a good headline but it simply isn’t factual or logical. Listening to “Pissed off” (PO’d) people may be a good and fast way to “get the drift” on a topic this person obviously “rants” for attention, but that doesn’t mean such topic is worth half of the commotion it raises… this PO’d person may be an idiot, or someone who likes to find fault with most things and forcefully complain about them… this is a far-cry from such condition being “the single best source of innovative ideas” me thinks.

Frustration and anger (expressed and otherwise) can be powerful motivators to change any status-quo, but so can altruism and community, intellect and responsible values; as well as many other conditions and choices nowadays… which may or may not lead to one getting PO’d, which may or may not lead to anything else.

Ideas – let alone innovative thinking – deserve better than this. They fit and squarely belong within the realm of our curious human nature and ingenuity… as ably inspired by the blossoming of a blade of grass as by one thousand raised voices.

To be fair, perhaps the author meant that it is necessary to reach a PO’d state in-order to truly explore new directions. Perhaps he believes that such anger is the byproduct of being convicted about a solution and as such, should be regarded as a positive force for change. Maybe the author meant to express that apathy is creativity’s own sedative and anger its natural antidote; the result of one’s amplified understanding of what is wrong… thus, a natural trigger for action to make it right. That maybe a PO’d state is a necessary agent for creative innovation to happen… (Such interpretations as offered by several colleagues (1) discussing the topic.)

Two people in a heated argument...

Image via Wikipedia

But we truly don’t know this from either the catchy headline or the body of the material and can only speculate about what the author meant, or accept the statement as is because they said so.

Whilst it is true that humans were not designed to flat-line our emotions; that there is benefit in expressing and getting to know such emotions and their source intimately so that we may decide what is valuable to explore and further pursue and what is not… most often, what generates anything “innovative”, is this process of facing, admiring and exploring such strong swings within ourselves first, which will most often bring our minds and spirits into a more calm, balanced and creative analysis state.

When that happens… people, as well as our selves, will be generally more receptive to listen and actually act on such considered change.

Our mind, spirit and the quality of our conversations are “the source”; all that has ever been needed to bring our species from cave-dwellers to cosmic travellers within a relative blink of an eye. No one’s statement (inclusive of this monologue) should be accepted as definitive or replace our individual responsibility to think, reason and decide what is right for ourselves.

This I believe…

(1) – Lene, Frank, Steve, Colleen, Vlad and Tina

On Age and Usefulness…


Beyond Stereotypes

Social demographic studies show – for all of the improvements and advances achieved over time and still evolving within “developed economies” – that society’s focus (value perception, investment, etc.) continues to be on what generally is perceived to be the most active and productive segments of populations.

A graphic representation of this would be similar to a classic bell-curve where; the Y axis=productivity and the X axis=age demographics map such “active and productive” focus at the upper mid-third of the chart.

In short, both EARLY developmental and LATE experiential rich societal stages receive peripheral attention and such, mostly to help “feed or compensate” for variations within the hi-productivity stages… We’re under-estimating /preparing our youth for global competitive challenges, under-supporting /over-stressing those within the hi-productivity cycle, and under-valuing the contribution of those on the downward slope.

Plainly, the “developed world” has done a mediocre job at preparing, supporting and valuing its population’s contribution holistically… However, this isn’t surprising in-light of the economic and cultural complexities and pressures at-play within such “developed world” and the general morose (the belief that things are the way they are and will always remain so) of those most affected by such imbalance. Nevertheless, this focus isn’t efficient or sustainable as the “effective distance” between economic needs /demands (productivity) and established population usefulness-cycles continues to diametrically polarize and grow.

As I see it, it is myopic to not fully support and tap into the early innovative / late experiential rich potential that is fueled by the power of the human spirit and growing from population’s exposure to wider educational accessibility, ubiquitous information technology and life-sciences efforts that effectively are driving a rise in “quality longevity”…

Image via Wikipedia

Blue=Developed - Tan=Emerging - Red=Underdeveloped

Thankfully, this is beginning to happen and several efforts are now underway within developed economies currently experiencing “insufficient new talent-pools & rising productivity pressures”, aiming to improve such educational inefficiencies and counter-productive displacement (retirement) policies, which in-time should ease the slope (as a more gradual curve) into and from the hi-productivity segment of population life-cycles, but these efforts; which carry yet not fully understood /vetted financial consequences and benefits, cannot succeed without the desire, awareness and the inclusion of productive “voices” from those of us within either end of the current productivity scale to the discussion.

As intelligent humans, we must be less accepting of default stereotyping and instead; truly WANT, DESIRE and DRIVE CHANGE… first within ourselves, then within society as in; developing and assuring wide access to comprehensive/innovative educational curriculums and meaningful productivity options whilst committing the time and ourselves to really engage whilst continually learning and contributing. As well as, shed our all too common malaise… prejudices and “been there done that” experiential staidness that subconsciously keep us from remaining actively engaged, curious and collaborative… looping back often to guide, mentor and facilitate those in the earlier two productive stages even if it isn’t mainstream or “cool” to do so.

To be successful and lasting, Big, Bold Shifts; insofar as “age”, “productivity” and “usefulness” stereotyping must begin first within each of us thus, exemplifying and leading the way to a more efficient, valuable and balanced alternative.

This I believe…

Is the workplace the culmination of our attitudes and behaviors?


Can the workplace foster one’s courageous spirit…? Is this a “Design” question…? (1)

courtesy of OverTheMoon Productions

Yes, I believe this is a Design question and a “special” one at that… as Design, foundationally permeates all we are; all we think, do and recognize plus all else we may be too preoccupied or blind to consider.

Thus and within this context, the workplace – like a passive mirror – will only ‘reflect’ our attitudes and behaviors but… it could ‘become the culmination’ of such if/when ‘by Design’, it intentionally seeks to influence the quality of such attitudes and behaviors and thus, no longer is a “passive” element but rather becomes an interactive contributor to the very human engagement that generates them.

Not unlike the ‘uplifting’ one experiences when attending a well conceived play where; the script, the actors and the stage-set, all combine to produce an intended reaction impactful to both; the audience (aka company or organization) and the play itself (aka desired results).

This is a small but important distinction which I think begins to address main query… Although important, the ‘workplace’ is but one of the key elements essential to foster the unfolding of a courageous spirit.

It takes ‘us’ (aka the actors), the truth & comfort with our selves; recognizing that which is deeply imbedded within our spirits… our foundational ‘North’, to enable us to interact with others and explore new directions and roles without fear of getting self ‘lost’. It takes a well thought-through and collectively endorsed ‘script’ (aka vision & objectives), to be a directional ‘map’ enabling us to understand, coalesce and improvise our actions and thus, to ultimately give such ‘script’ form.

Finally, it takes a powerful and well conceived ‘stage-set’ (aka workplace), a necessarily fluid and emotive environment that responds to our needs enhancing our performance and is designed to evolve on-the-fly in-sync with the nuances of the play.

When these three key elements are present and in-sync, the play will be memorable and successful; it becomes natural and ‘easy’ to deliver its objectives whilst being our-selves… speaking and acting transparently from within and without fears. When they are not; when one or more components are inappropriate or missing, the results will not be stellar and both the audience and the play will be left wanting.

This I believe.

(1) Questions posed on a B.B.S. discussion by Alan Colley

Big, Bold Shifts…


courtesy of Haworth

…the willingness to “go” beyond our comfort zones.

I have learned (probably not as well as I should), that there is little attainable value in being conceptually so far ahead of mainstream practices that one cannot possibly and effectively construct a quantifiable knowledge bridge between reality as we know and understand it, and possibilities as we see and/or imagine them.

Perhaps… No, no-doubts that BIG, BOLD SHIFTS must first occur within ourselves; not necessarily about our ability to think, explore and create per se (we’re probably all very good at this or wouldn’t be reading this), but about enhancing our abilities to patiently, efficiently and quantifiably build these bridges of understanding.

Although today’s script isn’t dramatically different from the one we explored and read from 20 years ago, the “stage-set” for the play – the current geo-political, economic and societal reality – is fresh, unrecognizable and fertile to receive all well conceived ideas.

What an opportunity for us… What exciting times… What a privilege to breathe and play that which resonates and is at the core of our professional selves.

The role of business…


courtesy of Herman Miller

Businesses are not responsible to make the world a better place for everyone. The role of businesses is to stay true and deliver to their purpose… their “raison-d’être”; the vision, the planning, the investment that gave them form, and the staff that makes it all work by creating, managing and delivering its goods and services profitably… without which businesses would not prevail.

However, few things in life and these fluid times are strictly black or white… businesses and individuals are not islands; they do not operate in a vacuum under the rules of a once-upon-a-time private and “sanctioned” plan. Businesses are members and play a key role within a larger society, as such, they have responsibilities and options they legally subscribed to and must choose to take respectively, whilst going about achieving their promised commitments and intended purposes.

Society Sketch

Image via Wikipedia

Long gone (thank God) are the days when businesses and the individuals that work in them, could exist and act independent of all other factors…that the condition still exists in pockets of “darkness” throughout the world, is an aberration hopeless in its persistence, rather than any sort of validation for its myopic and outdated practice.

It is unavoidable and in everyone’s best interests for governments, businesses and individuals to govern manage and act responsibly, taking into account and benefitting from their roles, influence and wise interactions with all other factors crucial to make society within our inter-connected global economies work effectively and sustainably.

This responsible and cooperative approach does not contradict in-the-least the “grow and prosper” purpose of a business as expressed here… the approach will prevail in spite of all examples one may point to; of excesses, apathy and greed still all-too-real nowadays. Yet, these negative examples are waning… as the demarcation lines between business, environmental, societal and individual interests continue to blur by their obvious and increasing inter-dependency. In its place, we are witnesses to a gradual global rise of ethical practices and social consciousness at all levels and in many cases, being led by the very businesses one could argue have “no business” in doing so.

All of us can fill several pages with corporate examples of responsible stewardship AND business growth; whether the practices are still in their infancy or already imbedded as “mature” corporate governance… perhaps we all should if for nothing else to remind ourselves that all is not doom & gloom.

Collective responsible and ethical actions are what will make this world a better place AND… they are good for ALL including businesses… their prosperity and our collective survival is absolutely dependant on it.

Further Thoughts on Org Structures…


…as enablers of PERFORMANCE and CULTURE

MATRICED ORGANIZATIONS – have distinctive multi-stakeholder intersections and, better than any other structure, help institutionalize the mitigation of corporate and operational risk. The very distributed lines of accountability and responsibility, the root of this mitigation; as anything flowing through the system will require multiple layers of assessment, input and approval… a necessity for organizations and industries that are heavily regulated and under close scrutiny, a counter-intuitive process for those businesses that require lesser levels of internal control.

HIERARCHAL ORGANIZATIONS – are human instinctive and thus, the most common form of structure; where one person or a group of individuals, set policy and direct the goods and services produced by such entity through employed or contracted others. Consequently, such organization will naturally consolidate or compress “power” at or near its top levels which, although operationally efficient, often result in much lesser corporate transparency and can more easily become the stage-set for dangerous governance behavior. The concentration of power-at-the-top is not a “bad thing” per se…but it certainly is a “volatile thing” both; when it is “real” and more so when it is “perceived”; especially without a robust set of independent and effective checks & balances.

FLAT ORGANIZATIONS – aim to streamline their structure as close to one dispersed leadership layer as possible… a continuum of functional responsibility and/or accountability which is governed by consensual majority. These too have their place in the organizational puzzle; there’s more opportunity to explore the serendipity in-between people and ideas, whilst events and projects do flow faster through the system… however, such structure; which necessitates a great deal of stakeholder self-discipline and confidence (if not downright boldness), is not for the faint-at-heart, can easily lead to excesses as well as governance lapses and often is harder to manage than the challenging matrix format.

In the end, all organizations should adopt a structure that best supports its objectives after a “balanced” analysis of the good and not-so-good traits and aspects of each format, as very few things are all good or all bad. BUT…

We all should be mindful that; organizational structures provide only a background to facilitate interactive protocols, no structure will actually achieve or deliver anything… only PEOPLE; performing within the context of these structures (and sometimes stretching their envelopes), can actually make them work effectively or not… which very naturally leads to;

VISION, DIRECTION AND CULTURE – by “Vision” I do not mean the average corporate statement all of us at times snicker about. Vision statements should be lofty and bold, slightly out-of-reach and a powerful reflection of what an organization truly aspires to be and/or achieve… thus requiring the continued building of organizational “bridges of understanding” to translate and link them to specific and measurable objectives and actions throughout the organization. This is a key aspect and responsibility of Leadership regardless of org structure format; to embed, defend and drive (thus making it “real”) the vision of an organization into becoming a key part of its daily ethos.

Management Teams, when aligned and either enlightened or within enlightened organizations, tend to achieve this through a collaborative and informed effort, taking on-board their own intellect and experience, the input from benchmarked competitors, customers/markets, and the voices of the whole internal organization not necessarily in that order. All of it… working together and in-synch become an enterprise’s “Culture” me thinks; the foundational component that binds and supports all people interact, govern and out-deliver consistently.

Fluid times, Org Structures and Leadership


courtesy of HMI

For as long as we can imagine and regardless of structure, most organizations have applied autocratic methods when selecting or appointing new leadership… in general, these methodologies aimed for the new appointments to follow and reinforce established corporate views and/or culture and deliver to a largely pre-determined agenda.

Nowadays, dazed by nearly two years of relentless economic and financial breakdowns and increasing regulatory and market scrutiny, there are views that continuing and anticipated further challenges over the coming decade will demand a new breed of networking and collaborative leadership, and drive a rise in flat/leaner organizations over matrix bound ones, which on the later, some believe will falter and in-time disappear altogether.

However, I do not consider this a logical view… matriced structures are designed and especially apt at mitigating risk by imbedding balanced planning, collaborative if not aligned decisions and consistency of outcomes into an organization.

Albeit cumbersome and at-first awkward to grasp and manage, in instances where ad-hoc creativity or unstructured experimentation could be viewed as “liabilities”; like within process driven organizations or heavily regulated public and private sector practices, they are remarkably effective at driving organizational cohesion and controlled outflows.

“Power”, with all its good and bad permutations, is within matriced structures much more diffused throughout the organization (a “good” thing) than in their “simpler” cousins; the nearly ubiquitous hierarchical driven pyramid structures, which in-fact end up concentrating “power” (and sometimes shielding it) at its peak and from there “directing” the rest of the organization.

Flat structures on the other hand, were “built-for-speed”…they promote and generate “culture” driven, shape-shifting fluid organizations where many good things like creativity, learning and experimentation can broadly happen, evolve and mutate very rapidly. However, they can also suffer from or be exposed to some not-so-good consequences like; organizational confusion (who’s on first?), the adequate protection of its intellectual property, judiciously balancing and tweaking its costs/income/investment ratios, establishing a vision and staying focused on it…etc.

Essential to all of these (and all of the many variations in each model), is Leadership… in its finest form, the provision of vision and direction; instilling what is good, excising what isn’t, being disciplined to lead by example and becoming the glue that binds the tribe. There is no greater calling than this, it is paramount to all organizational structures and levels and it is timeless.

It isn’t leadership for the future or of the past, it lives in the “now”… it also isn’t defined by style…True Leadership just is that and can be effective in any type or form of structure because it isn’t bound by such rather, it manages and extracts value from each model and variation and fosters like actions in others.

In my opinion, the next decade will see organizations structure themselves in ever evolving variations of one of the three models noted here and paying closer attention to fostering, developing and evolving leadership from within… for if there is anything that is dying fast, it’s the concept of the charismatic “lone warrior” breezing-in from afar to save the day.

– conceptual excerpts first published by the author in Feb’10 on Leaders Cafe 2020

the basis of “sustainable” actions


Is it possible to develop a business model that is sustainable? (1)

Yes, I believe it is possible to do so but I propose that, like children, there is need (and benefit) to experiment and try standing-up and taking a few steps here and there, before we can truly be comfortable (and adept) at developing sustainable business models or anything else for that matter.

For sustainability to not just be a “cool” word that we say and append to our sentences, it must be better understood and practiced at an individual level before we venture on to a bigger stage with half-convicted scripts.

Do we ourselves think, act and live sustainably?

The notion of “zero negative impact” – the basis of “sustainable” actions – whether toward the environment or toward ourselves and each other, is powerful, often misunderstood and harder to achieve than it appears. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile goal to reach toward…as when a small pebble hits the very still water surface thus creating ever widening ripples, so will we do so if…

We start with ourselves; understanding and changing what isn’t “sustainable” about our individual thinking and actions and thus, influencing others by our examples. In turn, some will react to this “newness” in an equally unexpected manner thus, influencing conditions and events at a greater scale than would be otherwise possible. And so on…until a tipping point is reached powerful enough to change status-quo at a macro level.

Graph showing Human Development Index and Ecol...

Image via Wikipedia

I know of few things “sustainable” that have been achieved effectively through well-meaning singular programs and protocols. Even if positive and successful at-first, in time these types of small fledging efforts tend to them-selves be impacted (and changed) by others or by business “fads du-jour”.

Unless there is a strong foundation and the momentum that can only be obtained by the power of many thinking & acting in an “instinctive” like-manner – a.k.a. “swarm intelligence”(2) – the influence that creating a stand-alone “sustainable business model” can have, albeit important, will not by itself be that impactful.

(1) Raised by Ana Cristina on a TED discussion
(2) Term from Kevin Kelly’s book “Out-of-Control

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