Memory Lane – Links to fuel your change

As I ramp into a new adventure, I’m reminded of some old memories and the blog posts that captured the learning.

Here are a few that have come up in the past few days and are useful for change agents to remember.

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Start-Ups

Looking to start up a large Guiding Coalition, a small team or something in between?

Wondering what to do first?

Why not study these posts from the 2010 and 2011 Leaders Series  and 2013 Quick Tips here at Engine For Change?

Follow Your PassionBe Your SunBehave YourselfSet the ExampleYouWelcomeIn need of more VelcroVery Frustrated —  Seeing What’s PossibleMinutes and HoursThat’s My AgendaTrack Your Work“They”Go!Finding the ProofLavish ThanksRemember Ask Someone Else Permissive Statements

 

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Link Fuel

As I ease back in to blogging let’s all get our engines going with some link fuel.

Here are the videos that my friends and followers are sending my way.  Enjoy the thoughts they provoke.

CAPT David Marquet’s “Greatness”
[Thanks to so many of you there are too many to name!]

Introducing ODIM: Outcomes, Decisions, Information and Metrics
[Thanks for the link Jay (aka @roguepolymath)]

Peacock in the Land of Penguins
[Thanks for sharing the link Marissa!]

When Ideas Have Sex
[Thanks for the lead David!]

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(Seemingly) Inexhaustible Energy

This is the post where I admit that my seemingly inexhaustible energy is actually exhaustible.

You’ve probably assumed as much if you’ve followed this blog the past several months.  I’ve been nearly non-existent as a blogger.  I have been busy in other ways though (news to be announced soon).

To tide you over until I’m back up to full speed, I offer you a few of the best posts of the past.

Enjoy, and please comment.  I always love hearing from you.

Refresher 1

Refresher 2

Refresher 3

Life Outside the Fences and The Wolves Are Afraid

Now, let’s get back to driving our changes.  Why not try?

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Thoughts from a Change Agent

Today I recharged my batteries with a few great articles by and videos about Admiral H. G. Rickover, my favorite change agent.

First, I’ll share a clip out of his speech, “Thoughts on Man’s Purpose in Life,” given to various audiences over several years (a benefit of the pre-Internet age).

The task of finding a purpose in life also calls for perseverance. I have seen many young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find out how deaf the world is, they withdraw to wait and save their strength. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little peak from which they can make themselves heard. Each thinks that in a few years he will have gained a standing, and then he can use his power for good. Finally the time comes, and with it a strange discovery: he has lost his horizon of thought. Without perseverance, ambition and a sense of responsibility have evaporated.

My favorite line is “he has lost his horizon of thought.”  Wow! Who would want that fate? Who wouldn’t want to keep those following behind them from falling into the terrible trap of waiting until they are someone before they try to do something?  I don’t know about you, but that line pushes me to re-double my mentoring efforts to keep the spark of thought and action alive in as many minds and hearts as I can touch.

I followed up reading the speech above with watching some great footage of Admiral Rickover being interviewed by Diane Sawyer for 60 minutes.  The video is a quick 16 minutes, but within it you learn a lot about why Admiral Rickover is a great change agent to study if you want to improve your powers of perception. From what he does and what he says he believes, try to pull  the essential “whys” behind his “whats.”  Does that make sense?  He doesn’t tell you why he does things.  He just tells you what he does.  You are left to infer why and through that inference and testing your inference your mind grows.

Watch the video then read the rest of this post, because I want to share a few of the lessons I picked out of the footage, but I’d rather you know what points I’m referencing before you see my explanations of them.

Admiral Rickover. /. 60 Minutes from Paul and Holly on Vimeo.

Some of the lessons for change agents in this video.

1. All change agents, but especially those pushing the limits of technology and challenging an entrenched culture at the same time, require the good will of at least some people in power to protect them and let them work.  Rickover was passed over for promotion by the Navy over and over.  Senators and Congressmen continued to intervene on his behalf.  Rickover cultivated their support, but he did it in a unique way: through results.  He gave them results that were worthy of praise and allowed them to attach their names to his program’s achievements.  When Rickover learned unceremoniously of his forced retirement via his wife hearing about it on the radio, it isn’t surprising that many of his long-time congressional supporters had already either left Congress or were weakened in their power over a new Navy administration.  Without his protection, even his results weren’t enough to keep him in his job.  This model of results mattering for not when protectors leave is repeated over and over again in Gifford Pinchot’s book, “Intrapreneuring.” (It’s worth a read if you’re an internal change agent.)

2. Change agents need to focus on the results they are producing and the benefits of those results to the world.  They shouldn’t focus on what others think of them.  There’s a fabulous book by physicist Richard Feynman, titled “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” that carries forward the same message.  I loved how often Diane Sawyer tested Admiral Rickover to see if he would show some emotional response to others’ impressions of him.  Every time he refused, at times almost seeming confused about why she would bother to ask.  I too often allow what other people think to bother me, so I regularly use Admiral Rickover and Richard Feynman as my mentors in ignoring other people’s opinions.  If you are similarly stricken with a need for everyone to like you, I lend my mentors to you to use as well. They won’t steer you wrong.

3. Your answers don’t matter if the questions are wrong.  If you’re hoping to transform anything, this is a big lesson to learn.  The quality of the questions you ask will determine the quality of the answers you find and if other people are asking dumb questions, then it is incumbent upon you to ask better ones.  Don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

4.  If you can’t think when things are slightly askew (e.g., an Admiral has sawed off a few inches from the front two legs of your chair) then you can’t think fast enough to solve the essential problems you’ll face if given responsibility over anything that matters.  One of my personal missions in life is to correct all those who have learned the wrong lesson from hearing “Rickover stories,” of the closet and the chair and the pony tail and other challenges to would-be nuclear officers.  Too many people look only at the surface, judge it with their own maliciousness, and presume that Admiral Rickover was drunk on his own power and tormented the men for sport.  How foolish that story is on even quick evaluation of the facts.  Here was a man who took his responsibility over a complex technology very seriously, who gave speeches on living a life of purpose without sloth or waste, and who didn’t care what other people thought.  Why would he waste one moment on such a purposeless act as pure maliciousness?  I find his use of what instruments he had at his disposal in his Washington office ingenious.  Quickly, he could induce a state of partial uncertainty in each candidate and watch their reaction.  If they folded, or defeated themselves, or worse, while being slightly put-off in an office, how could he expect them to act when challenges arose at sea, whether in a submarine or on an aircraft carrier, with a mission to complete and men to lead?  We can all learn from his disciplined purposefulness to make every situation a teaching and testing moment.  Think of how you can quickly test potential candidates to join your team to drive your change.  How can you simulate through a day-to-day situation some of challenges you know they will face while they drive the change?  How did they hold up? Do they need a little time to develop or would you rather not invest in having them on your team?  Your change may not be delivering the first nuclear powered submarine in only five years, but if it matters to you maybe it’s worth trying your own purposeful screening methods.

I could probably go on and on.  My friends do claim I’m obsessive in my admiration for Admiral Rickover.  I’ll stop my points for change agents and close by saying that I hope you are lucky enough in your life of scholarship, of searching for new learning, to find someone from which you can learn as much as Admiral Rickover has taught me.  He’s certainly one of the men that I will seek out in heaven on whatever day I get there.  (That may be one of the few places Admiral Rickover and I disagree.  I believe there is a heaven and I look forward to the day I get to shake his hand and thank him.  I’m better for his example.)

Good night my fellow change agents.  May you grow bold and courageous to live out the purpose of your life.  Why not try?

 

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Fuel Up

Today I offer you some link fuel that is energizing me.  I hope it energizes you too to drive the changes you want.

Liviu’s Global Perspective From the Inner Mind is a great blog with big ideas synthesized neatly.  Whenever I can, I love catching up.

I’ve got a huge intellectual crush on Chris Argyris, so I’m always excited to read any article of his or about his work.  This article by Rodger Martin quickly describes three of the gifts you would receive if you studied Argyris’ work.  I can’t over recommend Argyris to anyone interested in learning how to make an organization work more effectively toward its goals.

If you’ve caught yourself wallowing in a “no” lately, this Seth Godin post is for you.  Seth quickly sets us right, something he’s gifted at doing over and over again.

If you’ve wondered where the good in the world has gone, watch this heartwarming video of Aaron Rodgers of my fantastic Green Bay Packers participating in a memory making day for a girl with spina bifida.  Try not to cry.  I dare you!

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who’ve served.  I’m eternally grateful for your service.

Happy three day weekend to all my federal employee readers and friends. Happy Friday to all.

Now that we’re refueled, let’s go drive some change!

Why not try?

USMC Iwo Jima War Memorial at Night, World War II, Veteran Soldiers, American FlagCreative Commons License Beverly & Pack via Compfight

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Recapping Argyris

Yesterday I got into a great conversation about the work of Chris Argyris.  Today I thought I’d post the links to all my previous posts on his work.  Yes, this is the cheating way to blog.  Or, I could call it blog recycling and feel like I’m saving the planet. Either way, enjoy.  Argyris is worth every minute you invest in him.

Tests of Good Advice

Godin, Argyris, and the Underpants Gnomes

No One Can Discuss It

What’s Your Time Span?

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This Week’s Reading List

I’ve been at this blog for so long that even I’m forgetting what learning I’ve captured here.  It takes conversations during the day to jog a memory into my head, then a night of diligent searching to find what I was looking for.  Since I hate to take any journey on my own, I offer up to you the memories I’ve recovered that they may be of benefit to you where you’re at this week.

To start us off, there’s the post “No One Can Discuss It” to encourage you to discuss the undiscussable and teach you how to do it.

Try Win-Win to give you a simple story about diffusing conflict just by asking a question or two.

Have you ever seen a Wordle?  Check out the post Sensing the Pattern for an introduction.  I think I’m going to journal for a week and load the journal entries into Wordle to see what ideas my thoughts are dwelling on.  I bet an interesting pattern emerges.  I could do it with a time diary too and see how often certain activities or people show up.  Maybe that’s a great way to check work-life-balance.  Where and with whom do I spend my time or mental attention?

Finally, a repost of a favorite video of mine from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.  Could you keep up?

 

 

 

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Link Fuel

The theme for today’s link fuel is building a tribe and being worthy of their loyalty.

  • Stories about letting a few people get to love you up close and how “getting to pay for music” wins over “having to pay for music”. (H/T @skholt)

  • Are you worthy of being a List 2 person? How to be a person of influence. (H/T @roguepolymath)
  • The theme makes me think of moments with your true friends that I’ll never forget.  One moment springs to mind and lucky-for-me I have a photo to go along with it.  This is the photo of the day Hilbert (my Yoda) met my oldest daughter Helen.  Hilbert and I had worked closely together throughout my pregnancy. Helen had apparently been listening in on our conversations the whole time.  How could we tell? As soon as she heard Hilbert’s voice that day she picked up her wee little head and turned her face right toward him.  Savvy readers will note just how long ago it was (8 years) by the presence of both a flip phone and PDA on the table.  How times flies!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • My pal Rex refuses to heed my warnings about his bad habit of video blogging while driving, yet that shouldn’t stop you from checking out his new site at AreYouCuriousEnough.com

door

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Link Fuel: On curiosity, failure, and more

If you’re not lucky (cursed?) enough to run into me during the week then you’re missing out on the onslaught of all the latest things I’ve been reading, pondering, or sampling.  Link fuel is my answer to our lack of in-person interaction.

Here’s what’s fueling my tank this week.  Feel free to use the comments to add what topics are fueling yours.  We’re all often in need of a good mid-week refueling.  I say, why not help each other out?

  • My friend, Rex, has a wonderful direct-to-your-inbox newsletter on curiosity.  Check it out at AreYouCuriousEnough.com.  Click on the door and sign up for the newsletter and enjoy.
  • My friend, RoguePolymath, also has a wonderful direct-to-your-inbox monthly newsletter to broaden your horizon to sample all sorts of topics around being your best self and seeing the world in new ways.  Check out his blog, roguepolymath.com.  Post a comment and I know he’ll get you on his mailing list too.
  • Thanks to Anne for sharing this article full of quotes, Failure is Not What You Think It Is.  Bonus points for the Homer Simpson photo to accompany it.
  • Keeping with the failure theme, thanks to Janice for sharing the post, Help, I failed!
  • RoguePolymath (@roguepolymath) is showing up twice this week, this time with a link to Efficiency versus Value – The New Innovation Equation
  • Thanks to Steve Holt (@skholt) for continually bringing up Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational.  I finally got the hint and read it. It’s worth a read by anyone who is fascinated with why people make the decisions they do.  The answer will surprise you.  It’s broken into quick chapters that can be sampled as you have the time.  If you’re going to pop in and out of a book this spring, consider giving Predictably Irrational a try.

Fueled up.  Ready to go. Don’t stop driving your change!

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