Thursday, March 26, 2009

Leadership in the Interactive Age

This is an eight part series of presentations entitled Leadership in the Interactive Age, originally presented over the National Technological University's satellite network in January and February, 1995 by Paul Schumann, Donna Prestwood and Barbara Benjamin. Some of the topical references are out of date but the concepts are still valid. They're probably more apparently valid now then they were at the time of the original production. We named the age we are now in as the age of interaction.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

History of the Decline and Recreation of Town Centers

Factors Contributing To Town Center Decline
Town centers in the United States over the past fifty (50) years have been under attack by a series of events and concepts that have affected the economic lifeblood of the town center -- its retail, restaurant, service and entertainment businesses. Federal and State governments, driven by the desire to improve the productivity of interstate and intrastate commerce focused on highway throughput, and as a result highways bypassed many town centers in order to improve the speed of transport vehicles through the area. In all cases of a bypass regardless of the size of the city, the downtown was affected negatively. Since most small town centers (less than 10,000 population) are vitally dependent on traffic generated business, they were negatively affected the most. In the cases of larger towns and cities there was usually enough economic movement to the area of the bypass to eventually recover some of the economic impact. However, the down towns of these towns and cities were never the same.

The advent of the shopping mall was an attempt to recreate the retail experience of a town center. Malls were created first with an out door design, but then rather quickly went to indoor, climate controlled facilities in attempts to "always have a good day to shop." These shopping malls first affected the town centers of the larger cities. The concept has continued to develop into "mega" malls (e.g., Katy Mills Mall) and outlet centers (e.g., San Marcos) that have become destinations in their own right, affecting all towns, both large and small within a one to three hundred mile radius. Meanwhile, small town centers were more directly affected by strip shopping malls and franchise restaurants that developed all along the bypasses.

As population grew and national retailing became more sophisticated the "big box" stores were developed to feed the retail frenzy. Whereas big box stores such as Target and K-Mart stayed in the urban and suburban environments, Wal-Mart purposefully developed a strategy to go to the small town and more rural environments. The impact of having a Wal-Mart move into any small town was devastating to the businesses of that town's center.

The impacts of other retailing innovations, such as "power centers" and "E-commerce" are not yet fully known for small town centers. Because of the population densities required to support a power center, the development of a power center on the outskirts of a town with a population less than 50,000 has not yet occurred. The impact of E-commerce on small town centers can be either positive or negative, depending upon on how the town's businesses exploit the new technology. Traditionally, rural residents have been large supporters of catalogue sales. So, it is expected that as Internet access is made more widespread to rural residents that E-commerce activities will follow.

Attempts To Revitalize Town Centers
Over the years many approaches and attempts have been made to counter the effects of bypasses, malls, big box stores and more on town centers across the United States. Three significant attempts are: Urban Renewal; the Pedestrian Mall; and Historical/Heritage Preservation/Restoration.

One of the first methods for revitalization of town centers was Urban Renewal. Developed first for large cities with urban decay, then applied to former industrial towns, then later to the more rural environments. For the most part this approach failed because it actually destroyed what fabric of the town center that existed by creating single use regions that were not viable. During the process of urban renewal many historically significant buildings were razed, robbing the community of an important part of its heritage.

The next methods to be applied to the revitalization of town centers were concepts called Pedestrian Malls. Vehicle traffic was viewed as negative and therefore the idea was to close off some set of the town center's streets to all vehicle traffic, and thus open the entire area up to pedestrian traffic. In a large part, these concepts were applied to the town centers of small to medium sized towns, that had in most instances been missed by urban renewal. There were mixed results.

The most recent approach to the revitalization of town centers is to build on the existing historic buildings to preserve the town center's unique heritage and recreate an environment that encourages economic development. This approach was formalized in 1980 in the National Main Street Program. Since its inception approximately 1,400 towns and cities have taken the steps of becoming a Main Street participant. In addition, twenty states, including Texas have taken the steps of creating a state wide Main Street program.

National Main Street Program

Since 1980 the National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been working with communities across the nation to revitalize their historic or traditional commercial areas. Based in Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach was developed to save historic commercial architecture and the fabric of American communities' built environment, but has become a powerful economic development tool as well.

The Main Street program is designed to improve all aspects of the down town or central business district (CBD) producing both tangible and intangible benefits. Improving economic management, strengthening public participation, and making down town a fun place to visit are as critical to Main Streets' future as recruiting new businesses, rehabilitating new buildings and expanding parking. Building on down town's inherent assets -- rich architecture, personal service, and traditional values and most of all, a sense of place -- the Main Street approach has rekindled entrepreneurship, down town cooperation, and civic concern. It has earned national recognition as a practical strategy appropriately scaled to a community's local resources and conditions. And because it is a locally driven program, all initiative stems from local issues and concerns.


The Main Street Four Point Approach is:

• Design -- Enhancing the physical appearance of the commercial district by rehabilitating historic buildings, encouraging supportive new construction, developing sensitive design management systems, and long term planning.
• Organization -- Building consensus and cooperation among the many groups and individuals who have a role in the revitalization process.
• Promotion -- Marketing the traditional commercial districts' assets to customers, potential investors, new businesses, local citizens and visitors.
• Economic Restructuring -- Strengthening the district's existing economic base while finding ways to expand it to meet new opportunities and challenges from outlying development.


The Main Street Program is based on eight principles:

• Comprehensive -- A single project cannot revitalize a down town or commercial neighborhood. An on going series of initiatives is vital to build community support and create lasting progress.
• Incremental -- Small projects make a big difference. They demonstrate that "things are happing" on main street, and hone the skills and confidence the program will need to tackle more complex problems.
• Self-help -- Although the National Main Street Center can provide valuable direction and hand-on technical assistance, only local leadership can initiate long term success by fostering and demonstrating community involvement and commitment to the revitalization effort.
• Public/Private Partnership -- Every local Main Street Program needs the support and expertise of both the public and private sectors. For an effective partnership, each must recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the other.
• Identifying and Capitalizing on Existing Assets -- One of the National Main Street Centers' key goals is to help communities recognize and make the best use of their unique offerings. Local assets provide the solid foundation for a successful Main Street initiative.
• Quality -- From storefront design to promotional campaigns to special events, quality must be the main goal.
• Change -- Changing community attitudes and habits is essential to bring about a commercial district renaissance. A carefully planned Main Street Program will help shift public perceptions and practices to support and sustain the revitalization process.
• Action Oriented -- Frequent, visible changes in the look and activities of the commercial district will reinforce the perception of positive change. Small, but dramatic improvements early in the process will remind the community that the revitalization effort is underway.

National Main Street Program Summary

Since the National Main Street Program was initiated:

• 1,400 cities and towns have had Main Street Programs
• $10.9 Billion investment by public and private sources
• An average of $5.1 Million investment per town or city
• For every dollar invested in the operation of a Main Street Program, $35 is generated for investment
• 174,000 new jobs
• 47,000 new businesses
• 60,900 buildings rehabilitated
• Programs last on average 5.6 years

National Main Street Trends

There are approximately 1,200 communities actively involved in revitalizing their historic down towns and neighborhood commercial districts. Over 400 hundred communities participated in a survey in 1999 of the economic impacts of Main Street Programs. Among the survey's major findings are:

• Retail Sales Are Increasing -- 65% reported increases in retail sales. Only 3% reported a decrease.
• Ground Floor Occupancy Rates Are Up -- 57% reported higher ground floor occupancy in 1999 compared to 1998.
• Upper Floor Occupancy Rates Are Climbing -- 33% reported higher upper floor occupancy rates.
• Number of Retail Businesses Increase -- 58% reported more retail businesses in 1999 than in 1998.
• The Number of Main Street Businesses Using the Internet Is Growing Dramatically -- 84% reported there were more businesses using the Internet in 1999 than in 1998.
• "Location Neutral" Businesses Continue to Move Into Main Street Districts -- 24% reported an increase in the number of businesses whose trade area is not confined geographically.
• More People Are Living On Main Street -- 33% reported an increase in housing units in Main Street Districts.
• The Number of People Attending Events Is Increasing -- 83% reported that the number of people attending festivals and special events in Main Street Districts increased in 1999.
• More Locally Owned Businesses -- 50% reported more locally businesses in 1999 than 1998 in their Main Street Districts.
• Property Values Are Increasing -- 67% reported that property values were higher in 1999 in Main Street Districts than in 1998.
• Smaller communities reported more dramatic increases in numbers of personal service businesses and numbers of businesses using the Internet, both of these underscore changes in retailing in small towns. Retail businesses in small down towns are finding that the Internet provides a mechanism for reaching larger numbers of customers. Businesses using the Internet fall into three broad categories:
• Provide Better Service to Their Existing Local Customers -- The Front Street Pub, Greenville, AL, uses its web site to list its schedule of live music, information on the Pub's ongoing billiards tournament and to sponsor a chat room for customers. Osborn Drugs, Osborn, OK, lets customers refill prescriptions from its web site and provides links to other pharmaceutical web sites.
• Augments Sales In Their Stores or Offices -- Footwise, Corvallis, OR, specializing in Birkenstock shoes and sandals offers the largest selection of Birkenstock's on the Internet, attracting customers from throughout the world. Whitestone, Livermore, CA, is a bookstore utilizing a similar strategy.
• Almost Exclusively Internet Based, With Few Local Customers -- Kringle Kottage, Scottsbluff, NB, now sells most of its collectible ornaments and figurines through the auction site e-Bay. RJB-The Diner Store, Munedeline, IL, sells jukeboxes, diner fixtures and other 1950s/60s diner related nostalgia items to customers throughout the world.
• Many survey respondents listed high-tech companies among those moving into their historic commercial districts. Again, expanding a trend which has emerged in the National Main Street Trend Survey every year since 1996.

Examples Of Main Street Programs

There are presently seventy-nine Main Street Cities with web sites listed in the National Main Street program web site. As can be seen in the graph below, the majority of the cities are between 10,000 and 30,000 population. There are 23 Main Street Cities on the web that have populations of less than 10,000 people. Of these cities, with populations less than 10,000:
• An average of two years was required to get Main Street designation
• The average age of the program is five years
• An average of four new businesses per year were created

As each Main Street Programs is tailored to the needs of the city, within the loose structure of the National and State Main Street Programs, the tools used by each city to affect a change in their town centers is different. All of the City Main Street Programs had a web site and all had a formal board or committee and paid staff. These are basic requirements of the Main Street Program. However, beyond those, there was little agreement as to what tools were the most important for success. Listed below in order of frequency of use are some examples of tools mentioned two or more times:

• Events in the Town Center
• A Main Street Program newsletter
• Coordinated, thematic dress up of Town Center
• Consulting & training for business owners
• Master land use plan for Town Center
• Improvements of sidewalks
• Creation of historic district
• Development of resource library
• Farmers/crafts market in Town Center
• Landscaping & beautification

In addition, other tools mentioned were: improved window displays, façade grants, design grants, renovation grants, renovation loans, façade loans, street improvements, development of a river walk, more parking lots, restored railroad station, murals on building walls, tax abatements, frequent shopper programs, creation of an assessment district to fund program, recognition awards for businesses, signage program, town center directory & map, volunteer handbook, sign grant program, sales tax exemption on building materials, memorabilia and novelties, and a live mascot (a very friendly cat that lived in the Main Street Office).

The Texas Main Street Program
The Texas Main Street Program is part of the Texas Historical Commission's Community Heritage Development Division. The Texas Main Street Program helps Texas cities revitalize their historic down towns and neighborhood commercial districts by utilizing preservation and economic development strategies.

Each year the Texas Historical Commission typically selects up to five Texas cities and urban areas as official Texas Main Street cities. The 1999 Texas Main Street cities were Gatesville, Gladewater, Shiner, Taylor, and Whitewright. However, in 2000, sixteen (16) cities were selected as Texas Main Street participants from a pool of seventy-six (76) applicants. The 2000 Main Street cities are -- Beaumont, Breckinridge, Celina, Cliffton, Denton, Elgin, Fort Stockton, Garland, Gilmer, Goliad, LaGrange, Nacogdoches, New Braunfels, Rusk, San Marcos, Seguin.

Selected cities are eligible to receive:

• Training For Main Street Managers and Board Members
• Training In Successful Economic Development Approaches
• On Site Evaluation (3-day) and Full Report With Recommendations
• Identification and Assistance with Architectural Elements, such as Façade Drawings and Education of Business Owners in Proper Maintenance Techniques
• Consultation with Down Town Merchants About Visual Merchandizing and Window Displays
• Advice on Heritage Tourism and Marketing

The Texas Main Street Program, affiliated with the National Main Street Program, was begun in 1981. It is one of the most successful down town revitalization programs in the nation. It has assisted 125 Texas cities since its inception. The program has resulted in:

• Reinvestment of More Than $582 Million in Texas Down Towns and Neighborhood Commercial Districts
• Creation of More Than 14,000 Jobs
• Establishment of More Than 3,600 New Businesses

Texas cities with historic commercial buildings in their down towns and neighborhood business districts may apply for Texas Main Street designation. Applications must be received by the last working day of July each year for the following program year. To be eligible to apply cities with less than 5,000 population must make a three (3) year commitment of staffing and funding. It is recommended that a full time Main Street manager be hired. However, to be eligible for Texas Main Street designation an at least half-time manager is required.

Economic Transformation
The world is in the middle of an economic transformation, driven by information technologies, changes in social norms, a political trend toward capitalism, increase in the number of young people rivaling the baby boom, and an unprecedented increase in the number of people over the age of 65. These driving forces are coupled with a current situation in the US where unemployment is at its lowest point in history and Congress has removed the barriers to earnings for people collecting social security. Small towns are just beginning to take advantage of these driving forces to transform their town centers into Twenty First Century economic engines.

Given this new reality, a small town can no longer rely solely on Historic Preservation and Restoration for its economic salvation.

"In the past generation, American communities and local governments have tried a long list of strategies in an effort to revive their down town commercial corridors. Most of them have been failures, from the massive urban renewal projects of the 1950s to the pedestrian shopping malls of the 1960s and 1970s and the hotel/convention center projects financed by Federal subsidies in the 1980s. Planners have tried tearing down older shopping blocks and replacing them with suburban style down town malls; they have even, in a few cases, bulldozed entire down towns and built malls and parking lots on the empty grounds. This approach, too, has nearly failed.

During the 1990s, an increasing number of communities have switched to a strategy of historic preservation, which has been demonstrably more successful. Towns and cities that considered their Victorian shopping districts to be eye sores a decade ago are now promoting them as tourist attractions and drawing large weekend crowds. Preservation is a powerful economic development tool, but its potential has yet to be realized in countless other communities around the country.

In the end, though, it is not physical preservation or any special feature at all that brings an urban retail corridor to health. It is return of a commerce based on human interaction, on stable relationships, on the small comforts that derive from the intercourse of buyer and seller, professional and client, week after week and year after year, during all the seasons of ordinary life. Those relationships have eroded in recent times, but they are starting to return, for the simple reason that people realize what has been lost."

---Douglas Merriam, Preservation (July/August 1999)

The ingredients that are necessary for a small town to take advantage of the economic transformation are:

• A Rich Texture -- To fulfill the human need for a sensory experience, a diversified set of aesthetically pleasing sounds, smells, visual and taste stimuli are required. Historic Preservation can provide visual texture.
• Human Scaled -- Highly valued is the ability to walk around with convenience and safety. This requires a physical environment, which is visually interesting that encourages people to get out of their cars and spend time. It must be pedestrian friendly.
• Interaction -- By putting humanity back into the daily transactions of life and thus encourage people to enjoy the cultivation of new relationships. This requires places of interaction, such as a coffee shop or pub, and the development of a caring approach and interest in the customer by the merchant.
• Mixed Use -- The appropriate mix of retail, commercial, entertainment, restaurants, government, parks and residential that allows continuous utilization of the properties involved.
• Freedom and Choice -- Nor just the freedom to sip expresso and order fresh salmon, but the freedom to do business anywhere on the globe, to communicate with London or Tokyo in a matter of seconds, to live in a safe environment without making the economic or cultural sacrifices that such a choice would have entailed a generation ago.
• A Commitment to Enabling Technologies -- Making businesses more efficient and effective and thus assuring competitiveness in both local and a world marketplace. This requires the city to focus on a communication infrastructure. It also requires that individual businesses exploit information technologies to improve efficiencies of day to day operations, improve communications with suppliers, improve service to existing customers and to improve marketing efforts.
• A Passion for Continuing Education -- In this economy a businesses' greatest asset is its people. The way to sustain competitive advantage is through the care and nurturing of the brains in the business. This means not only higher education accessibility, but also available ongoing training of all types to keep everyone knowledgeable and current.
• A Desire to Positively Affect the Future -- It is important to maintain roots while not getting stuck in the past. People need to positively embrace change while being able to discern what elements of the past to hold onto. It is necessary to have a shared vision of what the town can be in the future to assure that the town doesn't get pulled apart.
• Local Capital -- It is necessary to have some form of local capital available for investment in the community. If the people and organizations in the local community don't commit to helping in investment for growth, it is next to impossible to get outside groups interested. Moreover, the nature of the investment often times will not "pass muster" on a global scale, so it has to be supported locally by people who know the people making it happen. Capital can be provided by individuals, successful local businesses, financial institutions, community foundations, designated city or county tax revenue and investment organizations.
• Civic Capacity -- Organizations and individuals who provide the means, capability and leadership to move the community forward
• A Majority of Locally Owned Business -- "Locally owned and operated" is an imperative to get local money flowing for investment, and the business owners need to be voting members of the community so that they have a say in city policy decisions. The transformation will require long term commitment, and only those with significant stakes in the outcome will be willing to see it through.
• A Strong Identity -- This is a two-sided coin. First is the sense of belonging and pride. From the outward perspective it is easier to market and differentiate (branding) the town and get "share of mind" of the visitor or tourist

The Benefits Of Town Center Revitalization
The most important benefits of Town Center Revitalization include:

• Best Utilization of Existing Infrastructure -- Making use of existing infrastructure (water, sewer, roads and sidewalks) negates the need to build new more expensive infrastructure elsewhere. Cities typically develop outside their city limits, requiring the extension and sometimes development of new infrastructure to meet development needs. Focusing on the core of the city can, when coupled with a comprehensive town center development program, show better return on investment for the city.
• Increased Tax Revenue -- Both sales and ad valorem tax revenues are increased because of the higher revenue brought in by businesses and the increased property values.
• Asset Appreciation -- The value of the buildings and land increase, thus increasing wealth in the community.
• Higher Productivity in Businesses -- More revenue enables businesses to invest more in themselves. Increased revenue is the result of increased customer traffic because the town center is viewed as a destination. Both cooperation and competition increase as business owners as a whole see merit in increased efficiency and effectiveness.
• Higher Wages/More Jobs -- As the businesses become more successful they pay better wages and create more jobs.
• Efficient Use of Land -- Economic forces created by the Town Center drive the highest and best use of land.
• Enables Building Rehabilitation -- By making the Town Center a retail destination, there is economic incentive to rehabilitate buildings within the Town Center.
• Residents Save Time & Money -- Residents can take advantages of the retail, entertainment, restaurants and services of a Town Center reducing the amount of time and money spent traveling to other destinations.
• Reduce Leakage Out of Local Economy -- As residents spend more of their money in the Town Center, they spend less in other destinations thereby reducing leakage from the local economy.

Learning by Living

One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
Eleanor Roosevelt

You Learn By Living

Eleanor Roosevelt's fundamental philosophy of life was that you are the sum result of the choices you make. To be vital, you must take charge of your own life, and accept responsibility for what you are and will become. The choices that you make are as a result of the values you hold. And, you can alter what you value.

The eleven chapters of the book outline the values that Eleanor Roosevelt felt were important to living life fully. They apply now as well as they did thirty years ago when she wrote them. And, they apply as well, with some interpretation in the context of today's environment, to personal and professional vitality.

Learn To Learn*

"Try to understand the meaning of everything you encounter," she advises. "And, readjust your knowledge to this new knowledge." If you do this, then you can continue to learn and to grow as long as you live. "Life is interesting," she believed, "only as long as it is a process of growth."

The most important ingredients in learning to learn are curiosity, interest, imagination, and a sense, of adventure of life. In the process of learning, what counts is not what you learn, "but the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you." What makes you an interesting, hence, a vital, person is "the ideas stirred in your own mind, the ideas which are a reflection of your own thinking."

"Live every experience to the utmost" is her advice. Quoting a poem, she urges the reader to value highly not only those who have had the courage to face death, but, more importantly, those who have had the courage to "dare not to die."

Face Your Fears

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." Therefore, to start, face small fears. This will help you face larger ones. And, be patient. Take it "just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

Mrs. Roosevelt's strategy for handling fear was to discipline herself to face her fears, realizing that much fear is the result of not knowing.

Make Time Count

Eleanor Roosevelt grasped and lived each moment. To let time elapse without a purpose was an abomination to her. "To let them drift through our fingers is a tragic waste. To use them to the hilt, making them count for something, is the beginning of wisdom," she wrote.

But, that doesn't mean that you have to work at tasks every minute of your life. She believed that varied activities were all important. Using time to the hilt meant to her that you knew the purpose of all the moments of your life.

She quoted one of her relatives, Laura Astor Delano, when some young visitors were late for a meeting with her. They apologized, complaining that they didn't have enough time. "You had all the time there was," was Aunt Laura's response.

Mrs. Roosevelt's advice for effective use of time was to:

• Achieve an inner calm so that you can work undisturbed by what goes on around you.
• Concentrate on the thing at hand.
• Arrange a routine pattern for your days which is structured enough so that you get everything done but flexible enough to allow for the unexpected.
• Maintain a general pattern of good health.

Strive For Maturity

"A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally."

Maturity is not an end result, but the process by which we live. Her advice for guiding that process is:

• Know yourself.
• Learn to accept that others will be unable to give you everything you want.
• Take constructive criticism and evaluate it.
• Gradually eliminate the faults you see in yourself, but no one else knows exist.
• Realize what you value most.

A few weeks ago, we were watching an old classic, black and white movie about a school teacher who had affected so many people with her life. (We've forgotten the title now, but it reflected the values of the age in which it was made.) Ill now, she reminisces about her life, the story being told in flashbacks. One of the stories was concerned with a young woman, long ago graduated, who came back for advice about a problem. Crying, she asked what she must do. "Do your duty," was the teacher's terse response.

The late Joseph Campbell wrote and taught extensively about mythology and the importance it has in establishing mankind's values. He was a popular university teacher until his death a few years ago. When asked by his students about what to do with their lives, his response was "Follow your bliss."

What a world of difference there is between the two pieces of advice separated by fifty years, and how reflective of what society valued.

Mrs. Roosevelt felt that it was our purpose in life to discover our values. "Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one's own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life's for." I suspect that she would have opted more for Campbell's advice, for to follow your bliss, you must know what you value.

Explore Life

Every age is an undiscovered country. "We are constantly advancing, like explorers, into the unknown, which makes life an adventure all the way," she -wrote.

As we grow older, it is important to realize that each age has its own rewards. They are different in kind, but they are not necessarily different in benefit or satisfaction.

"Whatever period of life we are in is good only to the extent that we make use of it, that we live it to the hilt, that we continue to develop and understand what it has to offer us and we have to offer it," she believed. Remember that last phrase, "what we have to offer it." What gives life its zest is our ability to give back to life.

As we age, we experience a change in us. But, as Mrs. Roosevelt reminds us, "nothing ever happens to us except what happens in our own mind." In other words, it is not what happens to us in life, but how we think about what happens to us, and what actions we take -- our actions, of course, determined by our values.

Be Useful

"What keeps our interest in life and makes us look forward to tomorrow is giving pleasure to other people," she advises. "Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct." She warns that the pursuit of happiness will result in unhappiness. She felt that self-interest results in a loss of interest in other people. This leads to a loss of ties to life which gives rise to a loss of interest in the world and in life itself. Self-interest, then, is the beginning of death.

Become Yourself

"Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one. You cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this," she writes.

Success in life is the constant striving to become yourself. It must include the development of yourself to utmost potential and a contribution of some kind to one's world.

In order to become yourself, you must have knowledge on issues important to your life. "You must have convictions on basic questions," she advises. These convictions come from a thorough knowledge of the issues. If not, she warns, "If you don't make up your mind, someone else will."

Work With And Through Others

"Nobody really does anything alone," she believed. All major accomplishments were done through groups of people. To be a leader of people, she advises:

• Network with a wide variety of people. "If you approach each new person you meet in a spirit of adventure, you will find you become increasingly interested in them and endlessly fascinated by the new channels of thought and experience and personality that you encounter."
• Be a good listener.
• Have an imaginative ability to put yourself in the other person's place.
• Be able to estimate the extent to which you succeed in communicating.
• State complicated questions in a clear and simple way.
• Seek willing, uncoerced cooperation.
• Keep in mind that you are dealing with a variety of human individuals.
• Appeal to them for help.
• Keep focus on main goal, not personal goal.

Remember that you are working with people not ideas. "You are dealing with people through whom ideas must filter."

Accept Responsibility For Who You Are

"We all create the person we become by our choices as we go through life. In a very real sense, by the time we are an adult, we are the sum total of the choices we have made."

Our choices are a compromise between reality and our dream of perfection. "We try to bring the reality as close to that dream of perfection as we can," comments Mrs. Roosevelt.

Our life should be dedicated to acceptance of who we have become. As in most things in life, we cannot become fully accepting of responsibility. But, the more we try, the more we grow. If you keep your dream of perfection and strive toward it, you will come closer to achieving the dream than if you reject the reality because it was not perfection.

"Surely in the light of history," she writes, "it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, 'It can't be done'."

Understand The Big Picture

To understand the larger context, Mrs. Roosevelt urges her readers to:

• Get the facts
• Talk and listen to others
• Pay attention to local situation
• Study human nature
• See what you look at and understand what you see

Be A Leader

Her advice to those who wish to lead is pragmatic, for it requires risk and high level of effort:

• Be secure (financially and emotionally)
• Be sure family supports you
• Love people
• Have a deep desire to achieve something
• Have a global concept
• Be a statesman
• Have a sense of timing. "A leader must not get too far ahead," she warns, "or he will outdistance his followers; but he must be at least a step ahead. He must take people with him."

We believe that these eleven principles are as valuable now as they were forty-two years ago when she wrote them. And, I believe that they are a good set of principles upon which to build a vital life.

As a guide for your life, Eleanor Roosevelt asked us to remember the words written by Cervantes for Don Quixote: "Until death, it is all life!"

Reference: Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960).

*These titles are our interpretation of the important message in each chapter.

The Art of Leadership

People are the most precious asset of any organization. Unlike all other business assets, this asset walks out the door at the end of every business day. Control over this asset, called euphemistically "human resources," is an illusion. There is no control, only tenuous connections through vision, purpose, goals and values. So how do you lead people to produce the services and products required to delight your customers and stay competitive? The leader must first ennoble, enable, empower and encourage. These are not just high sounding words. They are, when used systematically and authentically, extremely practical and powerful concepts that will ensure success.

The process of ennobling, enabling, empowering, and encouraging creates an environment in which innovation can flourish and people are motivated to grow, take risk, and change. The process of motivation begins with ennobling that provides the reason, needs and justification for innovation. Ennobling the people in an organization generates excitement. Enabling provides people with the knowledge, skills and abilities to innovate. Enabling adds the ingredient of intention to the atmosphere of excitement. Empowering builds trust. Trust when added to intention in an exciting atmosphere results in action. It is then the role of the leader to encourage actions that generate outcomes and consequences important to the mission of the organization. That encouragement builds more excitement and the spiral of continuous innovation prevails.

To ennoble is to transmit or impart the significance and purpose of people and their work. To ennoble is to inspire, literally breathe spirit into, an organization. Two of the most recognizable examples of ennoblement come from the space program. First is the speech made by President John F. Kennedy stating that, "We will have a man on the moon in this decade." The second example comes during the crisis of Apollo 13, when the Mission Control flight director stated emphatically that, "Failure is not an option."

There are four elements to ennoblement:

• Demonstrate respect
• Nurture dignity
• Expect excellence
• Provide connectivity

To enable is to provide the tools, knowledge, equipment and to develop the capability necessary to accomplish appropriate work. Training and re-training are very important ingredients in enablement. The real world dilemma that managers face in fulfilling this particular requirement is that the more rapidly change occurs, the more there is a need for training. Today's environment is certainly a time period of rapid change. However, today's environment also demands efficiency. It is the role of today's business leaders to expect more from the people in their organization. This efficiency focus can squeeze training into the background providing the basis for a reduction in innovation and an eventual loss of competitiveness. To balance these two factors, training is adopting one of the modern manufacturing concepts. "Just in time" training is providing the training just when a person needs it, what is needed, in the right format and in the right location. This has resulted in the fragmentation of the training efforts and an increased emphasis on the individual to be more responsible for his or her own development.

The enablement of people in organizations will require the investment in new technological solutions to meet today's training needs. In addition, as training is becoming more of an individual responsibility, it is imperative that today's leaders develop the appropriate values within the organization that enable the people to take the responsibility for their own development and their own future. In addition, these values must ensure that the goals and purpose of the organization are met as well. Values provide the only tool available to balance both organizational and individual needs.

Empowerment is probably one of the most maligned words in the lexicon of modern management ideas. "We tried that and it didn't work!" is the common complaint. Or, "Are you crazy! Turning everyone loose to do what they want to do. It would be chaos!" The problem has been that people tried empowerment without first ennobling and enabling them. With purpose, values and ability in line with the organizations' goals and objectives, it is not only safe to empower people, it is essential in order to gain the maximum potential from all resources.

Empowerment is not like a kindergarten exercise in creative painting. It is much more tike the difficult task of creating a new work of art in a frame with limited materials that a mature artist faces. It is "creativity in a box".

People in an organization are empowered by granting them the license for action while at the same time invoking the responsibility for their actions.

The executive fostering an innovative organization cannot walk away and expect that the results will be delightful. The role of an innovative leader is highly active and interactive with the organization. The leader by presence, decisions and actions must inspire confidence, provide feedback for course correction, mentor the development of more leaders and stimulate further action in an escalating spiral of risk and change.

People grow through their mistakes. The leader's task is to let people make a series of small mistakes, each time learning what went wrong, instead of making one large mistake for which there is no recovery. The challenge is to know an individual's capacity so that tasks encourage rather than discourage their development.

In the classic story of T. J. Watson, the founder of IBM, one of his senior managers had made a mistake costing the company a million dollars. The manager feared facing the responsibility of his actions but eventually approached Watson with his resignation. Watson responded by asking the manager "Why would I want your resignation? I just spent $1,000,000 educating you!"

Delighted customers are not the only result from ennoblement, enablement, empowerment and encouragement. Your organization will be more efficient and effective. And, your employees will be delighted as well.

Leadership in the Interactive Age

These are difficult times! Change is everywhere. The pace is accelerating, propelled by global social, political, economic, technical and demographic forces. These are times about which scientists, sociologists and historians will write books. Our country is in the midst of transition from the last vestiges of the industrial age to the age of interaction -- a special time full of opportunity and challenge. Leaders at all levels must be able to model and encourage the application of ingenuity. Leadership in thriving organizations is a state of mind, not a position.

Leadership and Technology: Is Your Mental Map Ready?
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Yogi Berra

Knowing ignorance is strength; Ignoring knowledge is sickness.
Lao Tsu

Business has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results. All the rest are costs.
Peter Drucker

Our models of organizations and of ourselves are out of date. The world has changed around us. The gap between what is and what we perceive has widened to the point of breaking. We must change our mental maps to reflect these changes. And, we must lead our organizations to emulate the new mental maps.

We are at a crossroads and we have a choice. We cannot deny any longer the existence of the need for change. And, we cannot waste our energies any longer fighting against change. We must embrace change and develop our ingenuity and the ingenuity of our organizations. Ingenuity is our intrinsic ability to know ourselves and our talents, become our personal best, and continuously expand and recreate ourselves and our capabilities.

In the industrial age, communication was characterized by the gathering and disseminating of information. This has culminated in what is currently referred to as the information age. The information age, in fact, is a transition period that marks the end of the industrial age and the beginning of the interactive age.

In this transition, our task shifts from the acquiring, hoarding, and communicating of information to conversing with each other, globally, in real time, utilizing past and present information and applying that information to better discerning our futures and continuously recreating our organizations.

The reorientation of our mental map includes the redefinition of technology and leadership. It is the interaction of ingenuity with leadership and technology that is the accelerator of innovation, the necessary bottom line for all organizations.

Personal Ingenuity and Emerging Technologies
He that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well being of mankind.
Henry Ward Beecher

We are engaged in a search for meaning, purpose, truth, love, compassion, self-worth, wisdom, and unity -- and the means to express them.
Herman Bryant Maynard Jr.
Susan E. Mehrtens

Technology has propelled our evolution for thousands of years at a steadily increasing rate as we seek to expand the mental maps of our existence. Technology is a reflection of our ingenuity and supports us in the development and application of our ingenuity. Technology helps us to know, to be, and to create.

Technology shapes the nature of work. Technology is ending the concept of jobs while expanding the character of work. In the interactive age, technology will be re-integrated into the fabric of our lives in a new way as we seek a balance of knowing, being, and creating.

Technology casts a long shadow. The technologies important for the next ten years have surfaced. The race has already begun. To gain personal competitive advantage, you must be aware of these emerging technologies, understand them, and be able to apply them to help solve problems and advance your capabilities.

Technology exists in three forms -- direct, supportive and enabling. Direct technologies are those integrated into the product or service. Supportive technologies are those that are involved in the research, development, manufacture or distribution of the product or service. Enabling technologies provide advancement in either direct or supportive technologies. As an example, the computer and telecommunication technologies can be direct, supportive, and enabling.

Knowledge and the Ethics of Technology

Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
William Cowper

Informania erodes our capacity for significance... We collect fragments. We get into the habit of clinging to knowledge bits and lose our feel for the wisdom behind knowledge.
Michael Heim

As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible but more mysterious.
Albert Einstein

As we move into the interactive age, knowledge grows in geometric proportion to our interaction, on a global level, with technology and with each other. Such interaction provides unlimited access to that information and, in turn, unlimited choices. However, all knowledge is subject to change as fast as the technology changes. While access to information is unlimited, then, any permanent knowledge, in itself, is limited by its continual obsolescence in the face of continual change. Viewed as an instrument of growth and evolution, technology provides us with the progressive ability to respond to change, to become the best we can be, and to be a force for the advancement of society. While the industrial age focused on matching specific skills to job descriptions, the interactive age focuses on work.

In the age of interaction, we are challenged to continually redefine our talents and to face the ongoing task of preparing ourselves to expand our perceptions of our purpose and our capacity to do our work. In short, we need to continually comprehend our place in the scheme of things and prepare ourselves to be effective in a variety of possible settings. Technology has forced the ethical question upon us: "What are we here for?" Our ingenuity provides us with the tools to answer the question: "We are here to expand our capacity, to be all we can be, to do our work, and to serve our unfolding purpose in the course of human history."

Integrating Technologies In the Age of Interaction
The sum total of all human knowledge amassed throughout history is only one percent of the information that will be available to us by 2050.
Marvin Cetron
Owen Davies

The more diverse the civilization, the more differentiated its technology, energy forms and people, the more information must flow between its constituent parts if the entirety is to hold together particularly under the stress of high change.
Alvin Toffler

The next wave of economic growth is going to come from knowledge -- based businesses.
Stan Davis
Jim Botkin

The way we work has forever changed. Computers, communications, and related software technologies have created a cyberspace in which we all operate. These information technologies, packaged in useful forms, have become a powerful new personal teammate. They can compress both time and space. Making full use of the information technologies enables us to traverse the information highway at electronic speeds interacting with others to facilitate teamwork and improve creativity.

We can become time travelers reaching back into the past to understand the patterns of historical development that shed light on the present. And, we can use these technologies to help us perceive the potential futures that await us.

Information technologies also redefine teams and teamwork. Teammates do not have to all be at the same place at the same time. Members of the team can be spread over the globe and interaction can occur asynchronously. Or, teams can become the dominant form of work, as in Japan, where software factories have totally integrated information technologies into the workplace.

Information technologies can facilitate teamwork by breaking down the communication barriers that exist whenever people get together. Soon, these technologies will even make interaction possible in different languages. Groupware, software for teams, can improve the creativity of teams.

Leading in the Age of Interaction -- Tools That Recreate
No one is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore the belief in our own guidance.
Henry Miller

If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility.
If he would lead them, he must follow behind.

Lao Tsu

The most important trait of a good leader is knowing who you are.
Edward McCracken, CEO Silicon Graphics

As we move from the industrial age to the interactive age, the focus of leading shifts from the player to the playing field; and the playing field will be designed for team play. Leading will be defined by commitment rather than charisma, by ingenuity rather than authority, and by conversation rather than connections.

The role of a leader in the interactive age will include using the tools of ingenuity and technology to decompartmentalize organizations, their people, their markets, and their services. Leading in an environment of ongoing change will require synthesizing knowledge, vision, and creativity in order to continually recreate teams and organizations and position them to anticipate, initiate, and respond to change.

Motivation will determine the ability to lead, as will the ability to integrate lifelong learning and flexibility into your personal and professional goals. Expectations of job security, linear promotions, pensions, and retirement are expectations that bond potential leaders to the strategies and systems of the industrial age and block their readiness to respond effectively to change and to lead.

The new voices of leaders in the interactive age call for knowing who you are, being and becoming all you can be, and continuously and creatively interacting with your environment. You will be hearing from some of today's interactive leaders.

Leadership Is a State of Mind, Not a Position

The old management paradigm has run out of steam. When you're at the end of your rope, introspection becomes particularly important. The ability to live in the question, rather than drive for the answer, helps keep the antenna up and the eyes open.
Richard Pascale

At first it's hard to persuade leaders to let go of control.
Erika Anderson

We in our own age are faced with a strange paradox. Never before have we had so much information in bits and pieces loaded upon us by radio and television and satellite, yet never before have we had so little inner certainty about our own being.
Rollo May

In the interactive age, leaders in organizations will emerge from any position within and without the organization. The common characteristic of leadership will be ingenuity.

Interactive leaders will be able to motivate by ennobling, enabling, empowering, and encouraging. They will be able to establish a shared vision, mission, goals and values in organizations.

Interactive leaders will be able to discern the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic values. They will be able to guide the organization towards those intrinsic values that will facilitate the organization's discovery and realization of its purpose.

Interactive leaders will see themselves as members of a team, viewing both technology and colleagues as teammates. They will be open to possibilities different from and, possibly, exceeding their expectations, and they will be able to continuously evaluate and change their perceptions of their purpose within an organization.

The new leaders will live life responsively, open to interaction, available and responsible to their own lives, to others, and to their environment. They will perceive the resources of life as abundant, and they will have the capacity to risk intimacy, to share knowledge, and to build community both internally and externally.

Interactive leaders will continually rediscover who they are and integrate learning, work, and play throughout their lives, as they discern and fulfill their purpose.

Leadership, Ingenuity, and Technology Interaction: Accelerators of Innovation
To meet the demands of the fast -- changing competitive scene, we must simply learn to love change as we have hated it in the past.
Tom Peters

Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service.
Peter Drucker

My sensations resembled those one has after climbing a mountain in a mist when on reaching the summit the mist suddenly clears and the country becomes visible for forty miles in every direction.
Bertrand Russell

Innovation is the only real function of organizations. Change, the one constant in our lives, is the driver of innovation. In today's environment, it is innovate or die!

The challenge for today's leaders is to help organizations learn to innovate. This will require the ingenuity of everyone in the organization, not just a select few. Interactive leaders will know how to innovate: seek change, gain the vantage point, motivate freedom, and delight customers. Interactive leaders understand and utilize the power of technology to help the organization delight its customers, stakeholders, and employees; gain competitive advantage; and realize its purpose. Leadership employs ingenuity to perceive changes in the organization's market. Ingenuity enables the perception of the opportunities in the market caused by the interaction of the customer's needs, technological capability, and competitive response, all embedded in an environment of social, political, economic, demographic, and technical driving forces for change. Establishing a strategy that sails on the winds of market change and fulfills the organization's purpose requires ingenious leaders.

Delighting customers can happen only if the leaders can perceive their unarticulated needs and deliver products and services to meet those needs in a timely manner.

Organizations and Individuals that Have Invented New Tools for New Times
The responsibility for change lies with us.
Alvin Tofler

In the old paradigm it was believed that in any complex system the dynamics of the whole could be understood from the properties of the parts. In the new paradigm, the relationship between the parts and the whole are reversed. The properties of the parts can be understood only from the dynamics of the whole.
Fritjof Capra

To see a World in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Technology and globalization have brought us and our organizations to a crossroads. The information age is the transitional period from the industrial age to the interactive age. The interactive age will be characterized by our ability to converse with each other, globally, in real time, connect rapidly with our past, and better discern our future. The environment in which we and our organizations must work is now radically different from what it was when our organizations were created. New times require new perspectives and new tools.

Ingenuity is our innate ability to adapt to, and even anticipate, the changes in our environment. Ingenuity allows us to develop new tools and new perspectives, make the most of the resources we have to create our future.

Ingenuity constitutes our intrinsic ability to be leaders: to know ourselves and our organizations; to motivate others by ennobling, enabling, empowering and encouraging; to establish a shared vision, mission, goals and values.

Teamed with technology, ingenuity points us to the inevitable opportunities in technological development and provides us with the perspective of leadership from any position within or without an organization.

A five year plan for the next century begins with an assessment of motivations and goals and includes a plan for a change, a course of action, and ongoing evaluation.

Voices of Today's Interactive Leaders
The following leaders participated in the development of these concepts:

Joseph Andreana - GTE
James Autry - Consultant, Author, Poet
Lon Badgett - Leadership Advantage
Dr. Barry V. Bales - LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT
Heinrich Bantli - 3M
Barbara Benjamin - Intuitive Discovery
Federico Brown -Internet Interactive Marketing
Dr. Jan Brown - Consultant
Constance Bruno - Right Associates
Roseanne Cahn - CS First Boston
Dr. Nora Comstock - Consultant
Pat Conroy - Micromain Technologies
Terry Day - Exxon USA
Sandy Dochen - Austin Chamber of Commerce
Paul Duffley - PepsiCo
Ron Edelstein - Gas Research Institute
Gary Epple - DAZEL, Inc.
Milton Fisher - Author
Richard D. Grant - Psychologist
Fr. Joseph F. Girzone - Author
Alan Graham - The Trilogy Group
Taffy Holliday - River Run Software
Don Honicky - Perspectives International
Alfred Iannone - UT Austin School of Engineering
Dr. Allen Johnson - RAS Group
Dr. Shirley Kenny - Pres., SUNY Stony Brook
Chad Kissinger - Onramp Access
Steven Laden - Southern Union Gas
Dr. Trilok Manocha - River Run Software
William Miller - Global Creativity Corp.
Eric Paul - Motorola
Dr. Derek Ransley - Chevron
Dave Monson - Sterling Health Services
Dr. Rich Newell -3M
Gayle Ramey - Excelsys, Inc.
Tina Rohrer - Artist
Anne D. Robinson - Creativity, Communication, Common Sense
Dr. Arnie Schaffer - Phillips Petroleum
Jim Sciarrino - Siemens Rolm
Virginia Silver - International Paper
Ralph Smucker - Business Counseling Services
David P. Snyder - Snyder Family Enterprise
Felicitas Soryn - RN
Elias Zachos - Consultant
Sam Zigrossi - IBM

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Science and Religion

In an article in March 8, 2009 edition of the Austin American Statesman, “Primed to Challenge Evolution in Schools: Official Believes Theory Has Holes, Wants that Taught”, Bryan dentist Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, is quoted as saying, “Everything that had a beginning we can say had a cause. And now science definitely says that the universes had a beginning. Therefore the universe had had a cause. And that cause is God.” The paper reports that he is a young earth creationist that believes that God created the earth between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. McLeroy points to the sudden, in geologic terms, appearance of complexity as a reason to not accept evolution as the best explanation we have for the way life changes in the world.

This is a complex issue, no pun intended, and I do not expect my brief criticism of his actions to change his beliefs, nor do I want to. And, that’s the point. We have a right in America to have whatever religious beliefs we want. But our practice of those beliefs can’t impinge on the rights of others.

What no one has the right to do is, as an official or instrument of governance, to teach all children in public schools a specific religious belief or system of religious beliefs. The struggle between religion and government is an old one going back in history thousands of years.

History informs us that any attempt by any nation to either define a state religion or prohibit any form of religion is eventually doomed to failure. As a result, almost all formal religious groups support the principle of the separation of church and state.

The phrase “separation of church and state” is derived from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a group identifying themselves as the Danbury Baptists. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which relies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

The founders of the United States valued this principle so strongly that it became the first amendment to the constitution.

In his book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (2002), Michael Novak, a theologian, deeply steeped in the Catholic tradition, a historian, philosopher and an economist, identifies three principles of the American democratic system – free market capitalism, an involved polity in a representative democracy and a pluralistic cultural/moral system. These three principles have to be strong, vital and separate from each other. (See Our Cultural Moral Institutions Have Failed Us )

Alexis de Tocqueville, after studying the American form of democracy for the French government, wrote Democracy in America (1835). One of his findings was Americans’ love of organizing into groups. “Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations...In democratic countries knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.” A pluralistic moral/cultural system is a great strength. Out of our differences of values and knowledge can come wisdom if we learn how to have conversations. Conversation, which from the roots of the word means turning around together, is not dialog, compromise or debate. Conversation is not a zero sum process. It can result in thoughts that transcend the thoughts of the individuals engaged in it. No one loses and everyone gains.

Modern science, an essential part of democratic capitalism, is not about absolutes, although some science is taught that way. The scientific method is a great contribution to the development of knowledge of our physical world. Some of the first written thoughts about this method go back to Ibn al-Haytham or Alhazen, (965–1039) in Basra, Persia. The scientific method refers to techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, prediction, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

Thomas Kuhn in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) teaches us how scientific knowledge advances. When the scientific community is reasonably satisfied with a body of knowledge (i.e. it explains the world sufficiently well for the times), it is collected together into a paradigm. This paradigm is then used over and over to puzzle out solutions to problems. As time goes by, problems are indentified that seem resistant to the accepted paradigm. These are set aside for the time being awaiting better knowledge or equipment. When enough of these anomalies have accumulated, unrest drives deeper thought and experimentation. Eventually a breakthrough occurs and the new paradigm is created that now solves the old and new problems. And, the process begins again. This process occurs in all knowledge, not just scientific knowledge. Kurt Godel (1906 – 1978) proved mathematically that all closed systems have inherent residual errors. Every time the search for knowledge is enclosed within a system and paradigm created, we know that we will find errors.

Evolution is the best paradigm we have for explaining how life on earth developed in the past, is developing now, and will develop in the future. Are there anomalies? Yes. But it is not science to ascribe those anomalies to a supernatural being. Should we teach about those anomalies? Yes. But they should be taught at the stage of development of a child’s mind where the anomalies become a challenge to solve, not the end of knowledge. Besides, why would a child want to learn something difficult if you start with all the things that what your teaching doesn’t do. We start children with simple Newtonian mechanics not quantum mechanics. Why? Because the concepts are easier to grasp and they work for almost all problems they will have to solve.

There are mysteries at the edge of our knowledge and we want children to be excited by those mysteries, to own the thought that they can resolve some of those mysteries. There should be no fear of this process. There will always be mysteries at the edge of our knowledge.

"As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible but more mysterious."
Albert Einstein

Aristotle (384 – 322 bc) posited that there were four causes of reality – a material cause, a formal cause, a productive cause and a final cause. In his view all of reality was driven by this linear process. In 1992, Marshal McLuhan posited the tetrad, or four laws. He saw these as four simultaneous processes governing change – enhancing, reversing, retrieving and obsolescencing. In complexity theory, we now understand that for a wide range of physical phenomena, the cause – effect relationship is broken. For these complex systems one time a small cause will have little or no effect and the next time that same small cause will result in a large effect. The amazing part of this story is that this phenomena is ubiquitous and it lay hidden in our full view until the 1960s. We also now know that complex organization can emerge from what appears to be randomness very quickly. And, even more amazing is the fact that these complex systems exist exists where life exists, at the boundary between order and chaos.

So Mr. McLeroy teach science in science classes and textbooks, and teach your religion within your religion. That is your right, and it is my right not to have your religious views taught to my grandchildren in an educational system I pay for and is an instrument of government.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ready, Set, done

In the first chapter Carroll write, “The rate of change today – whether with business models, product lifecycles, skills and knowledge, marketing methodologies or customer support concepts – is speeding up. We live in a world where being faster is better than being fast.

That is why innovation is the most important word that you need to be thinking about. Innovation is all about adapting to the future – and if the future is coming at you faster, then you need to innovate faster. Innovation shouldn’t be about trying to survive the future – it should be about thriving.”

The book is organized into 37 short chapters in six sections – Introduction, Velocity, Agility, Innovation, Activity, and Closing. Each chapter is easy to read in a short sitting, an advantage. But, I found that I lost the continuity easily.

If the future is coming at us faster, how do you keep up? It’s really very simple. You listen in. “The globe has become one massive idea generation machine, with new ideas being created instantly everywhere, on a continuous non-stop basis.”

“You do that by developing a culture that supports a highly tuned radar, radar that listens to the global infinite idea loop … the future is being developed all around you, and your success comes from your ability to plug into it! How can you do this? By participating!”

“Devote 15 – 20 minutes per day to catch up on the new ideas which are emerging.”

“That simple activity – learning to tune in – will provide you with insight and ideas, which are themselves the fuel for innovative thinking.”

(Please read A Market Intelligence System for specific ideas on how to this and to create a market intelligence system for a team.)

In Chapter 7, Carroll asks the question, “Is your brand from the olden days?” He uses the recent history of Sony as a cautionary tale. Sony has gone from being perceived as a leader in innovation to one that is slow to act. He analyses the history and decides that they fell behind because:

• “They failed to keep up with the rapid growth and demand for flat panel TV’s and other hot new technologies – they failed with market agility
• They decided that going to war with customers in order to prevent music piracy (by slipping destructive software onto the CD’s) was more important than developing great technology that caught the next wave of consumer electronics, particularly MP3 players
• They dropped the ball on the necessity for continuous operational excellence, as evidenced by a disastrous recall of laptop batteries”

To assess your own brand, he suggests the following self evaluation:

• You are out of tune with your customers
• Customers see a lack of innovation
• Lousy, ineffective customer service
• You don’t know that your customers know more about your brand than you do
• A lack of purpose or urgency
• A lack of market and competitive intelligence

Some quotable quotes:

“Innovation is critical, yet you must approach creativity and innovation with an understanding that your every move will be analyzed and instantly subjected to a global up or down vote.”

“Success is not defined by how long a product will last in the market place, but by how quickly you can get a new product out there before it’s out of date.”

“From an innovation perspective, you’ve got to constantly assess whether you’ve got the depth and scope of skills that you might require as the world goes high velocity.”

“Just in time knowledge: a form of continuous learning that is instant, fast and urgent. The right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose for the right strategy.”

“Innovation is about everything an organization does and how it does it.”

“There is no more debate about the need to break down silos; they are gone. What remains is a desire to learn from each other, and build on common insight.”

Carroll identifies nine key elements of a successful innovative culture:

• Growth orientation
• The ability to cost-manage and grow at the same time
• A translatable vision
• Time to market is critical
• Internal collaboration
• Transition at top from managers to leaders
• At every level, there is a tactical to strategic conversion
• A partnership orientation
• Global skills access is a key success factor

This book is full of insights and check lists to help you assess and plan a change to a more innovative organization.

Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When faster is the New Fast
Jim Carroll
Oblio Press (2007) 182 pages

Conversational Capital

This is a book about “word-of-mouth” marketing. In the introduction, the author’s assert: “Nothing is more powerful than when consumers make your story part of their story. This especially true today, in a fragmented media market that’s spilling over with branded communication efforts. Obviously, mass-market communications can be meaningful and memorable, but it’s getting harder than ever to break through the clutter. Even if a breakthrough happens, consumers who’ve grown up in the media age view ‘top-down’ communication with suspicion and skepticism. When a message does succeed in getting across, it carries little weight.

Highly charged consumer advocacy through word-of-mouth communication represents exactly the opposite. Unlike mass marketing, it’s carried ‘horizontally’ from peer to peer, so it has more power and authority. Consumers who believe in a certain brand experiences and are vocal about their belief are the carriers. Like a virus, it spreads on contact fast.”

To become something that is carried person to person, an experience has to be salient, produce resonance and have residual value. To be salient, and experience has to most noticeable or important. Resonant experiences are those that strike a deeper chord because they cause exploration, action, thought and interaction with others. Residual value results from an experience that remains in consciousness after the immediate encounter has ended.

The authors describe eight engines of conversational capital: rituals, exclusive product offering, myths, relevant sensory oddity, icons, tribalism, endorsement and continuity. “The presence of one or are all of them in a consumption experience helps to make that experience more resonant, richer in saliency, more relevant and more memorable. This in turn increases consumer satisfaction, which drives positive word-of-mouth consumer support.”

• Rituals are an essential part of how human beings create and formalize meaning.

• Exclusive product offering implies that the consumer can purchase or experience something unique.

• Myths are the narratives that become part of the very fabric of a consumptive experience because they provide clues as to what the experience is supposed to men.

• Relevant sensory oddity results from providing a sensory experience that is special but reinforces the overall consumptive experience.

• Icons are signs and symbols that clearly demarcate a consumption experience from any other.

• Tribalism is created through making the consumer feel part of a special group.

• Endorsement happens when a trusted authority praises you in a spontaneous and genuine manner.

• Continuity results from integrity, when who you are, what you say you are and what others say you are are close together.

The authors devote a chapter to each of these engines. They also discuss how they all work together, and how to get started. They use examples of well known endeavors like Cirque du Soleil and IKEA.

The book is interesting to read, and laid out well for true learning. It would especially be valuable for team because each chapter has questions and other ideas for discussion. It has a web site and online discussion groups. And, it’s the first book I’ve read that has a way to use your mobile camera phone to access conversations online about the book.

Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Want to Talk About
Bertrand Cesvet with Tony Babinski and Eric Alper
Pearson Education (2009) 170 pages

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Consortium to Put the Engineering Into Software

Factors for success

Creating a successful consortium will take a strong business leader with excellent marketing skills. Such a business leader will need to be recruited from the industry since industry knowledge is critical. Equally important is that the person have the impartiality to work through competitive issues between participants. Although the overhead for such an endeavor must be kept small, a sufficient, skilled staff is also required.

A second success factor will be to learn from the lessons of previous efforts. Consortia are regularly set up in today’s IT business -- many are short lived and accomplish little, others continue for years (e.g., MCC for the microelectronics industry) and achieve measures of success. The ISR Consortium, being a reuse based consortium, should excel at leveraging the knowledge gained from previous and existing consortia.

Another key facet of success is to rapidly demonstrate success to stake holders, in this case the investing corporations and universities who are participating. This means that the selection must be carefully made of which architectures, models and standards to work on first. Currently some infrastructure domains and some industry and cross-industry domains are achieving some consensus on approaches through various standards organization activities. Potentially getting more emphasis by participants in driving best of breed work in some of these activities will be a quick return activity. However, it may be determined that those activities lack an overarching set of architectural principles and so will not provide a broad ability for integration and interoperability between domains over time. In this case architectural principles, defined and delivered to market in stages, might be an important initial project.

There will be a need to constantly monitor market and technology trends to identify changes and then decide whether continuing funding is appropriate for ongoing projects. In software reuse today, throwing away is as necessary as creating. Some market trends appear to be significant enough that investment in them provides reasonably low risk, e.g., extension of the Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) application domains into related areas such as customer service. In the ERP domain the market penetration of SAP and a few other vendors is so significant that defining architecture and model extensions is less difficult than in highly segmented markets without clear market leaders.


The Starfish and the Spider

From Publishers Weekly Brafman and Beckstrom, a pair of Stanford M.B.A.s who have applied their business know-how to promoting peace and economic development through decentralized networking, offer a breezy and entertaining look at how decentralization is changing many organizations. The title metaphor conveys the core concept: though a starfish and a spider have similar shapes, their internal structure is dramatically different—a decapitated spider inevitably dies, while a starfish can regenerate itself from a single amputated leg. In the same way, decentralized organizations, like the Internet, the Apache Indian tribe and Alcoholics Anonymous, are made up of many smaller units capable of operating, growing and multiplying independently of each other, making it very difficult for a rival force to control or defeat them. Despite familiar examples—eBay, Napster and the Toyota assembly line, for example—there are fresh insights, such as the authors' three techniques for combating a decentralized competitor (drive change in your competitors' ideology, force them to become centralized or decentralize yourself). The authors also analyze one of today's most worrisome "starfish" organizations—al-Qaeda—though that group undermines the authors' point that the power of leaderless groups helps to demonstrate the essential goodness and trustworthiness of human beings. (Oct. 5) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description Understanding the amazing force that links some of today’s most successful companies

If you cut off a spider’s leg, it’s crippled; if you cut off its head, it dies. But if you cut off a starfish’s leg it grows a new one, and the old leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. What’s the hidden power behind the success of Wikipedia, craigslist, and Skype? What do eBay and General Electric have in common with the abolitionist and women’s rights movements? What fundamental choice put General Motors and Toyota on vastly different paths? How could winning a Supreme Court case be the biggest mistake MGM could have made?

After five years of ground-breaking research, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom share some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider argues that organizations fall into two categories: traditional “spiders,” which have a rigid hierarchy and top-down leadership, and revolutionary “starfish,” which rely on the power of peer relationships.

The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders (such as the music industry vs. Napster, Kazaa, and the P2P services that followed). It reveals how established companies and institutions, from IBM to Intuit to the US government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success. The book explores:

* How the Apaches fended off the powerful Spanish army for 200 years
* The power of a simple circle
* The importance of catalysts who have an uncanny ability to bring people together
* How the Internet has become a breeding ground for leaderless organizations
* How Alcoholics Anonymous has reached untold millions with only a shared ideology and without a leader

The Starfish and the Spider is the rare book that will change how you understand the world around you. BACKCOVER: Advance praise for The Starfish and the Spider “The Starfish and the Spider is a compelling and important book.” —Pierre Omidyar, CEO, Omidyar Network and Founder and Chairman, eBay Inc.

“The Starfish and the Spider, like Blink, The Tipping Point, and The Wisdom of Crowds before it, showed me a provocative new way to look at the world and at business. It's also fun to read!” —Robin Wolaner, founder, Parenting Magazine and author, Naked in the Boardroom

“A fantastic read. Constantly weaving stories and connections. You'll never see the world the same way again.” —Nicholas J. Nicholas Jr., former Co-CEO, Time Warner

“A must-read. Starfish are changing the face of business and society. This page-turner is provocative and compelling.”

—David Martin, CEO, Young Presidents' Organization “The Starfish and the Spider provides a powerful prism for understanding the patterns and potential of self-organizing systems.” —Steve Jurvetson, Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson “The Starfish and the Spider lifts the lid on a massive revolution in the making, a revolution certain to reshape every organization on the planet from bridge clubs to global governments. Brafman and Beckstrom elegantly describe what is afoot and offer a wealth of insights that will be invaluable to anyone starting something new—or rescuing something old—amidst this vast shift.” —Paul Saffo, Director, Institute for the Future

“The Starfish and the Spider is great reading. [It has] not only stimulated my thinking, but as a result of the reading, I proposed ten action points for my own organization." —Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum