Spark

Ignite the moment...It’s energizing to find, after a long week of mindlessness, a friend interested in having a rigorous conversation about an important topic.  I am always grateful for those little intellectual shots in the arm that a great friend with a good idea can provide.  They (both the ideas and the friends) are small, bright sparks in otherwise dark, dull weeks.  It only takes one of those small wins–just a short, worthwhile conversation–to make a week wonderful.

Thank you dear friends for having these short, worthwhile conversations with me.  You keep me going, spark after spark.

What do you think?  Are you energized after a quick conversation about an idea with a friend? If not, what does energize you and help you soldier on during a long week of relative mindlessness?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

H/T to Joe for giving me tonight’s spark, which got me energized enough to catch up on a few blog posts.

 

photo credit: Stuart Williams via Compfight

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Wants to be there

A team where everyone wants to be there is so much more powerful than one where even one of the members has to be there.

Find a way to field a team entirely of volunteers and you’ll have a nearly unstoppable force.

Simplest way to field that team: Ask people if they’d like to join. Never force them to join.

Hey, it works for the Navy Seals.

What do you think? Have you ever participated on an all volunteer team? How did that experience compare with a team of conscripts?

 

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New words

When you are implementing something new, chances are good that you’ll get into a conversation about what to call things.

Should we use the new word that we’ve found (e.g., kata or buffer or mental model)?

Or, should we use a word that we already know?

If you use a word you already know, then it won’t trigger any change antibodies that cause people to fight the change. But, you risk them thinking your new thing is just like the old thing with the same name, if they think about your new thing at all.

If you use a new word, people won’t understand it at first and some people will hate that.  But, others will lean into your change and ask you where you got that word and how they can learn more.  The new word shows people something new is happening.

I’m an advocate for using the term that means what you mean to say, not borrowing one to do your work for you.  Years ago I wrote about the need for a language rich enough to describe your situation in When One Blue Crayon Isn’t Enough.

I know many people who disagree with me.  What do you think?

 

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How To Not Get Burned

Back in December 2010, I titled a post How to Not Abuse Your First Responders.  In it I rant about leaders who call, “Fire!” or “The sky is falling!” then have no idea what to do with all the loyal first responders that rush forward eager to put out the fire or prop up the sky.

I’ve seen too many good people (leaders and first responders) crushed under the weight of a real crisis poorly resolved.

It pains me to watch good people respond to the call to arms only to have their help turned away (if it is acknowledged at all). It doesn’t have to be that way.

Leaders must discipline themselves to only call for help when they intend to use it.  They’ll know if they intend to use it by answering a simple question: What few things would I be happy to let the first responders do to solve this problem?  If nothing springs to mind, don’t yell for help.

But, for us first responders, what are we to do if the leaders call for help then won’t let us help them?

I don’t have a good answer.  I’m asking you.  What do you think we should do?

Do you like any of the things I suggested in the old post?  I’m not sure I like them as much now as I did then.

I’ll keep thinking about it though and I look forward to at least a few of you sharing your thoughts in the comments below.

photo credit: Creative Commons License Drew Stefani via Compfight

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Exploration

We may be of advanced ages (some more advanced than others), but we don’t know everything.

So, why not embrace our continuing ignorance and go exploring for new ideas?

Kids (until we condition them to pretend they know it all) are curious.  They willingly (even joyfully) go exploring new environments for new experiences full of new excitements.  As proof of the concept, here’s a photo of my kids pretending to be miners at Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota.  That looks like fun to me.

Wall Drug

If you accept this challenge and go exploring, please post a comment telling us what you went out and found.  I bet we could all benefit from your new find.

 

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I pledge

The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads,

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

People who change the world do more than click “like” on Facebook.

People who are changing the world today continue to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the causes they believe in.

What would you pledge your life, fortune, and sacred honor to achieve?

I know there’s a change you want to see in the world that’s big enough to require that pledge.  Once you know it too, the only question left is, “Will you?”

 

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Fireworks

Fireworks NYE2005Happy Fourth of July my friends!

As we ready for Fourth of July celebrations, let me leave you with a thought to ponder.

On July 4th, especially in the patriotic and explosion-happy Bremerton, Washington, we love the fizzling fuse of a firework because it promises a rocket launch and triumph blast and boom.

Contrast that anticipation and conclusion of the firework with the regularly repeated cycle of conflict, especially interpersonal conflict, in organizations.

The internal conflicts are like dud fireworks, all fizzling fuse and no explosion.

Why do we let problems–especially problems with under-performing people–fire up and fizzle without a firm resolution?

Isn’t it dangerous for an organization to allow, metaphorically, all that unexploded ordnance to be lying around?

What do you think?

photo credit: Creative Commons License Mr Magoo ICU via Compfight

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The Gift of Learning

desk

If we changed the ways we talk about learning, would people would try to learn more?

Too often I hear people say, “What training should we give them?” or “What learning should we provide them?”

Why aren’t we saying, “We’re going to do X in our organization.  I learned about how to do X at….and so can you.”

It seems we’ve suppressed people’s natural urge to understand the world in front of them by constantly feeding them a diet of what they “need to know” or what we want them to know.

I wonder: Does the wave of “need to know” learning pushed on us take up the time we’d use for “want to know” learning?

I haven’t figured out which way the causal arrows flow yet, but I’m trying to think my way through it.

I’m thinking my way through it because I want to know and I’m not going to wait for someone to provide the knowledge to me.

What are you not learning because you’re waiting to be taught?

What don’t you know because you’ve been waiting to be told?

Look up at the tagline for this blog.  “Stop waiting. Start driving the change you want.”

Let’s modify that for the day to: “Stop waiting.  Start learning the things you want.”

What do you think?

photo credit: Creative Commons License Robert S. Donovan via Compfight

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Coming Soon – EFC Newsletter

Coming soon to an inbox near you: The Engine For Change Newsletter.

With the impending death of Google Reader and the harsh reality that my friends who still don’t know about RSS will likely never know about RSS, I’m going old school and creating a mailing list and building a newsletter.

It may be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.  That is yet to be determined.  If you have a preference, weigh in via the comments.  I’m ready for the feedback.

Thank you to all for sticking with me all these years.

I truly treasure your friendship!

Let’s drive some change!

All my best always – April

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