Leave Your Mark

Lance Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, People Leave a Comment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Few things focus the mind on the bigger picture and the important things quite like the process of saying goodbye. Regardless of how or why it occurs, leaving means taking an accounting of what was accomplished and what will be missed. Unless you’re a world class athlete on a final season “farewell tour,” the time for this introspection usually occurs after the departing.

This is where I am at today. Last month my turn to leave came up as the role elimination bell tolled for me: I have been laid off.

Fortunately, the end of my time with my company was neither a total surprise nor acrimonious. I have lost my job before under those kind of circumstances, and there’s no sugar-coating it: that sucked. But this time was much different, and for that, I am grateful.

As I have spent the time since Thanksgiving in reflection, I am reminded of the metaphor of the wake behind a boat that Dr. Henry Cloud uses in his book, Integrity: the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality. Cloud describes the “two sides to the wake that a leader or someone else leaves when moving through our lives or the life of an organization” thusly:

When a person travels through a few years with an organization … he leaves a “wake” behind in these two areas, task and relationship: What did he accomplish and how did he deal with people? … the wake doesn’t lie and it doesn’t care about excuses. It is what it is. … It is what we leave behind and is our record.”

There is no shortage of focus put on the “task” side of the wake. Entire structures of performance reviews, “KPO’s” (key performance objectives), monthly reporting, dashboards full of metrics and the like are all used by organizations to ensure that the business results are achieved. Though to varying degrees of effectiveness, the leaders and employees of most organizations work within a web of supportive efforts to help them produce a good “task” side of their wake.

But what about the other side? I once heard a business leader describe the process of people leaving the organization as “a hand in the ocean”: once the hand is removed, the surrounding water rushes in to fill the void and — in an instant — it is as if the hand was never there at all. It was a horrifying way to express how the departure of people is overcome by the organization they leave behind, but it is also a view held by too many business leaders.

All too often in corporate life, the focus on relationships and how we impact the people around us is subordinated to the myriad of business tasks at hand, and thus largely ignored. Until it’s time to leave, of course. But, by then, it’s too late to change the way the people around us would answer Dr. Cloud’s question about how they experienced that side of our wake:

Are a lot of people out there water-skiing on the wake, smiling, having a great time for our having “moved through their lives”? Or, are they out there bobbing for air, bleeding, and left wounded as shark bait? … Did they consider it a blessing that they were associated with you, or a curse?

Here are three challenges to undertake now, long before your time to leave arrives, in order to make your wake a “blessing” for those who will be left in it:

1) Be True — leave the heavily massaged messaging and the carefully worded “positioning” to your marketing efforts. Speak plainly to the people you work with and on behalf of. Do not overhype a challenge to try to manipulate “urgency,” and do not sugarcoat bad news in order to avoid dealing with the feelings of anxiety it can stir up (both in you as well as in your people). It has been said that honesty is making your words match with reality, while integrity is making your reality match your words. Do both.

2) Be Brave — The default inertia of power in an organization is to flow downhill. No matter how much power and authority a person may have, the natural tendency is to exercise that power down, on behalf of the person above. Find ways to change that. Use the organizational power you have to stick your neck out on behalf of the people below you who can’t. Those with the most expensive armor are the ones who should be serving as human shields, not hiding behind them.

3) Be Real — Treat the people around you with dignity as people and not merely as avatars for their titles and salaries or their outputs and deliverables. And, most importantly, don’t allow others to treat you any differently. Everyone in the organization, regardless of rank or responsibility, processes both oxygen and emotions in the same fundamental ways that you do. Be neither in awe of those “above” you nor indifferent to those “below.” Serve as a beacon of healthy perspective in the cluttered atmosphere of office politics and performance stress.

Do these things even as you do the task-work of accomplishing the organizations’ mission and goals, and you will achieve something far more lasting than just “results.” You will have left a positive impact on others in a way that can reverberate far into the future.

Why Meghan Markle’s “Draw Your Own Box” Is Important Beyond Race

Lance Creativity, Fear, Forbes, Ideas, People Leave a Comment

Reading Time: 1 minute

Yesterday a friend of mine who is the mother of bi-racial kids shared on Facebook the story of Meghan Markle, the bi-racial actress now engaged to Britain’s Prince Harry. In the post, Markle recounted the advice her father had imparted to her as a 7th grader when she struggled with what racial box to check on a required form at school. Markle wrote about this in an article for Elle Magazine in 2015:

Continue reading at Forbes.com…

Image Credit: Aviation Performance Solutions

The Expectations Stall

Lance Accountability, Ideas, Leadership, People Leave a Comment

Reading Time: 12 minutes

This post is longer and more detailed than what I normally publish here. Hopefully, you will enjoy learning something different, which will give a deeper insight into the more familiar, and therefore make this post worth the extra time. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and get comfy…

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last year about the way Expectations, Performance, and Reality all intersect. It is pretty commonplace for leaders in any type of organization to easily talk about the connection between setting high expectations and maintaining high performance. The internet is littered with articles and the virtual shelves of Amazon are full of books all explaining the connection between the two. Often overlooked (or even intentionally ignored), however, is the role Reality plays into this equation.

When I first started writing this post a year ago (yes, really!), this dynamic was evident in the news stories about the scandal that had enveloped Wells Fargo, one of the largest retail banks in America: an organization warped by the pressure of unreasonable sales goals, resulting in widespread abuse by managers and fraud by employees to meet those expectations. This despite the fact that the bank’s official stance, policies, and even employee discipline said these practices were not acceptable. So, why did they continue to occur? Was it just a matter of immoral employees disregarding the rules and values that their employer put in place? Not exactly. You can’t spend five minutes looking into the news about this scandal without coming across statements like this from former employees:

“They warned us about this type of behavior and said, ‘You must report it,’ but the reality was that people had to meet their goals,” said Khalid Taha, a former Wells Fargo personal banker who resigned in July. “They needed a paycheck.”

This fact may seem rather obvious and even mundane. It is, simply put, reality. Yet, all too often, these mundane and obvious aspects of reality can get lost — whether by being forgotten or ignored — when decisions are made as to where an organization should go, how high it should fly, and how fast it should move to get there. After thinking about this a lot over the past couple of years — including countless conversations with others featuring crude white board illustrations of the principles fleshed out in better detail below — I’m here to make the case that ignoring the Reality variable in the Expectations and Performance equation is a dangerous mistake.

To illustrate what I mean, let’s turn away from the world of  retail banking and to the skies where airplanes defy gravity. To really get what one has to do with the other, a short primer on the aerodynamics of flight is in order first.


Credit: Robert Noel (Planespotters.net)

This is the Antonov An-225, known as the “Mryia.” With a wingspan nearly as wide as a football field is long, and a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tons (1.28 million pounds), it is the largest aircraft in the world. At 276 feet long, this Ukrainian monster is over twice as long as the distance of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk. To witness the Mryia take flight is to straddle the thin line that separates the scientific marvels of engineering from the realm of supernatural miracles.

 

Yet, for all of the complexity in its design and the sheer scale of this winged wonder, the principles of how it flies are exactly the same as for this little number:

Cincinnati Kid2

Credit: Laurie Clark

Dubbed the “Cincinnati Kid,” this plane is a 1947 Navion L-17 belonging to a friend of mine. At about 1/10 the size of the Mryia, the Navion and its 300 hp engine powering a single nose propeller is a relative gnat compared to the hulking enormity of the Mryia, which boasts six jet engines pumping out almost 52,000 lbf of thrust. Yet, for the pilots of each of these aircraft, and every other winged aircraft in existence, there is a rule that applies itself ruthlessly without regard to the airplane’s size, speed, altitude, or value:

Exceed the Critical Angle of Attack, and you will stall.

 

If you are the pilot and do not correct this situation, you will crash and the NTSB Aviation Accident Report will label your fate “Aerodynamic Stall and Loss of Control.” (As is the case with this recent crash report, in which 6 people died.) In other words: pilot error.

In a world full of variables, this is a constant. Here’s how it works.

(Buckle up: it’s about to get nerdy.)

There are a myriad of details pilots must keep track of to safely fly an aircraft, but fundamentally everything boils down to an equation for how Lift is generated.

Lift equation

Among the variables in this equation, there are two things that the pilot can control while in flight: The Angle of Attack and Velocity. Let’s examine each of these two variables in turn.

Angle of Attack

To understand Angle of Attack, let’s start with the basics: For both the Mryia and the Navion, flight occurs because of the way the airfoil (the fancy name for the shape of the wing) interacts with the air. As the thrust of the engines generates forward momentum, air begins hitting the airfoil and passing above and below it. Because slower-moving air has a higher air pressure than faster-moving air, the asymmetrical shape of the airfoil splits the air in a way that changes the relative speed of the air passing over and under the wing surfaces. The resulting difference in the air’s speed of flow causes changes in the relative air pressures, which then produces lift. This is known as Bernoulli’s Principle, named after the 18th century Swiss mathematician and physicist, Daniel Bernoulli.

(Yep, this guy figured this stuff out in the 1730’s working with fluids, but the principle applies the same to both liquids and gases. This is why submarines use hydrofoils as dive planes to control the ship’s depth in a body of water just as an airplane uses airfoils to control altitude in a body of air. The principle also works in reverse: flip the airfoil over, and downforce is created instead of lift, which is what keeps F1 and Indy cars seemingly bolted to the track despite their high speeds and ridiculous turning performance.)

Simple enough, right?

However, things get interesting when you start looking more closely at how the air hits the airfoil in the first place.

(Hang on: the nerdy details are about to get a little bumpy as we encounter some geometry. I will leave out some detail and ignore some technical distinctions for sake of simplicity.)

The direction that the air hits the wings is known as relative air flow, and it moves along the same line as the aircraft’s direction of travel, known as the flight path (only in the opposite direction, of course). That air flow is measured against the straight line known as the wing chord that geometrically connects the airfoil’s leading edge with it’s tailing edge. Angle of attack, then, is the name for the all important angle between these two lines:

AoA diagram dark2

In level flight, this is understood easily enough, as the plane’s nose (and, more or less, the wing chord) is aligned with the direction the plane is actually moving. However, these two things are not always the same. They are independent characteristics of the plane’s flight that the pilot has to be aware of at all times. This becomes most obvious to passengers and observers alike during landing, when the aircraft’s nose is pitched up even as the aircraft is in a descending flight path, like so:

Shuttle landing AoA

These two concepts — Bernoulli’s Principle and the Angle of Attack — work together to keep winged aircraft aloft in the air. With sufficient thrust and regardless of flight path or pitch angle, the wings will continue to do their job of generating lift so long as the pilot keeps the aircraft flying within the safe angle of attack.

The Critical Angle of Attack, then, is the point at which the airfoil and the air can no longer produce lift. When the angle of attack increases beyond that critical boundary, a stall occurs. This is not a stall in the mechanical sense — the engines continue to operate just fine. Exceeding the critical angle of attack puts the aircraft into an aerodynamic stall, as the angle of the airfoil is too steep for the air to “stick” to the wing and generate lift as a result. You can see the dramatic effect of an aerodynamic stall in these wind tunnel photos:

stall_3

Velocity

Because of the dangers of pushing an aircraft beyond the critical angle of attack, the best way to quickly increase lift and fly higher is not to pitch the plane upwards. Rather, it is to go faster. By increasing the velocity that the air is hitting the airfoil, more air passes over it each moment. Because it is the air passing over the wing that produces lift, more lift is generated when more air passes over it. High speed is what makes things leave the ground at takeoff, which is good if you’re piloting an airplane facing a drop into the ocean at the end of the flight deck … and bad if you’re racing a car down the drag strip.

Of course, this only works up to a point: there is a limit to how much thrust an airplane’s engines can produce.

In sum, and understanding that this only scratches the surface of the variables and complexities at work in flying an airplane: safe flying requires enough lift to overcome gravity, and among the several variables involved in creating lift, the pilot has the ability to influence two of them — Angle of Attack and Velocity.

When a plane’s orientation moves beyond the critical angle of attack, whether due to a loss of thrust that changes the flight path, or because of a steep increase in the pitch angle of the wings, two things occur:

  1. the air hitting the wings past the critical angle of attack breaks free from the wing’s surface, inducing an aerodynamic stall;
  2. the plane ceases to be a majestic flying vehicle and becomes a dangerous falling object.
plane stall

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At that moment, the pilot must take action in response to the stall to restore lift to the wings while there is still enough altitude to pull up safely. But how?

The voice of Instinct offers an immediate answer in the primal, adrenaline-soaked shrieking of the “lizard brain” that knows that Falling = Death. As Fear runs its icy tendrils down the pilot’s spine, the amygdala simultaneously tries to short-circuit all other distracting brain functions so that its demands are obeyed immediately and forcefully: “PULL UP!!”

The voice of Training, on the other hand, knows that listening to the fears of Instinct is a certain death sentence. Instead, the voice of Training demands that the pilot ignore the cold pit in her stomach and remember the one rule that must be followed when in an aerodynamic stall: Reduce the angle of attack. The quickest and simplest way to do that is to do the opposite of what Instinct demands:

You have to push the stick forward and lower the nose into the fall.

 


With the hardcore nerd stuff now behind us, let’s put these pieces together and see what they can teach us about managing Performance, Expectations, and Reality, using the story of Wells Fargo to illustrate things.

Like the Mryia discussed above, Wells Fargo is a behemoth of an organization: huge, massively complex, but capable of extraordinary things. Just as there are a myriad of differences between the Mryia and my friend’s Navion, so, too, there are a million things that make giant corporations like Wells Fargo different from smaller businesses and organizations. Even so, the laws of the physics of flight govern the performance of the Mryia and the Navion equally … and the laws of human behavior govern the performance of organizations large and small as well.

Think of an organization like Wells Fargo as a plane itself, and the variables of flight as follows:

  • High Altitude = Goal: Whatever an organization defines as the destination it is trying to get to
  • Wing Chord = Expectations: the direction the organization is aiming itself to go
  • Flight Path = Performance: the direction in which the organization is actually moving
  • Thrust = Energy: whether thought of as resources invested, productive capacity, or creative output, this is the kinetic activity an organization puts into getting where it’s trying to go

Before showing how these dynamics played out in the Wells Fargo scandal, a bit of key background about Wells is needed first.


It’s Friday, October 3, 2008, and the American economy is in the midst of a massive financial vapor lock:

It is in this tumultuous environment that Wells Fargo made their surprising Friday announcement: it was buying Wachovia Bank, keeping the latter from a certain bankruptcy of its own while making Wells Fargo a truly national bank, vaulting it to the status as the largest bank in America as measured by retail locations (over 6,500 locations) with total deposits of $713 billion, and the fourth-largest by total assets ($1.37 trillion). The most surprising part was the price Wells Fargo agreed to pay. Earlier in the week, Citibank had already reached an agreement to buy Wachovia’s banking operation for $2 billion, so long as the FDIC agreed to take ownership of Wachovia’s toxic debts. Instead, Wells Fargo stepped in and pledged upwards of $15 billion to buy Wachovia without the assistance of the federal government as a toxic asset safety net.

In the midst of what appeared to possibly be Financial Armageddon, the leadership team of Wells Fargo made a tremendous gamble in order to level up to the Big Boy Bank Table. In the years that followed, it would be their job to make sure the gamble worked.

The pressure to make good on that bet hit a key milestone three years later, as the assimilation of Wachovia’s retail banking footprint was complete. At the end of the day when the Wells Fargo-Wachovia merger was announced, Wells Fargo’s stock had closed at $34.56. Three years later, Wells Fargo’s stock price was down 33%, closing on October 3, 2011, at $23.18. Comparatively, that wasn’t too bad: Citigroup, the bank that Wells Fargo drastically outbid for Wachovia, suffered an eye-watering stock price decline of -88% over that same period. But if you’re the CEO and senior leadership team manning the controls on the flight deck of Wells Fargo as it undertook the largest banking merger in history, answering a loss of 1/3 of your company’s share price with “yeah, but you should see the other guys!” doesn’t tend to fly for long.

With the last of Wachovia’s banking regions now fully remade in the Wells Fargo image, it was time for Well’s Fargo’s performance to start reflecting all of the added value that the merger was supposed to deliver to its shareholders.

It was time to pitch the plane’s nose up and start aiming for higher expectations.


The cultural tones set by the leaders — one of “relentless pressure” and “wildly unrealistic sales targets” — filtered down through the layers of Wells Fargo’s org chart. The pressure on the leaders to succeed resulted in them pulling back on the yoke and aiming the nose of Wells Fargo higher and higher. Soon, Wells Fargo began to enjoy the rising stock price that came with the rising revenues produced by those expectations … and so the expectations were elevated even further.

Probably not coincidentally, that’s when the fraudulent shenanigans began:

Wells Fargo has been accused by federal regulators of illegal activity on a stunning level. Authorities say employees at the bank secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts between 2011 and July 2015, allowing the bank to make more money in fees and meet internal sales targets.

The result was a stock price that continued to rise, reaching never-before seen heights in Wells Fargo’s history.

High expectations were leading to high performance, and everything was running smoothly … until it wasn’t. In July, 2015, the City of Los Angeles filed the first class-action lawsuit alleging widespread fraudulent behavior by banking employees in order to hit the unrealistic sales targets the company kept setting.


 

Now, it is certainly the case that every employee who played fast and loose with the rules, up to and even including outright fraud, owns the moral culpability of his or her own choices. But, when it comes to leading an organization of people — flawed, human people — to perform at a high level that meets high expectations, that easy and truthful fact can’t be the end of the discussion. More is required of leaders than simply pointing to the employees on whom the weight of the organization’s success rests, saying “Don’t do bad things!” and then expressing shock when they do even as the leaders profit from the same.

 

As P.E. Gobry correctly points out

If you give people impossible, or contradictory goals, then something will give. Salespeople will resort to fraud, or aggressive sales tactics that will hurt your brand (“Managers suggested to employees that they hunt for sales prospects at bus stops and retirement homes,” reports The Wall Street Journal), or something else. … Financial regulation cannot prevent this kind of scandal — forging signatures is already illegal. At the root of this problem is human nature: Mutually exclusive, high-pressure demands will cause people to break.

This fact about human nature and psychology is woven into the fabric of Reality as it relates to leading people. It is an aspect of Reality that the leaders of Wells Fargo either missed (to be charitable) or ignored (to be blunt), and the bruises sustained by the Wells Fargo brand are the result of this leadership failure. It was leaders up and down the Wells Fargo organization who created a system and culture of high-pressure performance expectations detached from Reality … and who structured their employees financial incentives in such a way as to give that pressure real teeth.

Ultimately, that high-expectations monster, untethered from Reality, turned its teeth on the leaders that unleashed it.

The scandal prompted the resignation of then-CEO John Stumpf. Working to move past the episode, Wells Fargo has shaken up its board of directors, ousted several top executives and changed its compensation system by removing sales incentives as a factor in salary hike decisions for many employees.

But the wages of that leadership failure don’t just stop with the removal of employees and leaders alike whose actions pushed Wells Fargo beyond the Critical Angle of Attack for too long and into an ethical stall. The business — and its shareholders — still have some big bills of accountability to pay. After agreeing to a $190 million settlement with the Consumer Protection Bureau and California prosecutors in 2016, Wells Fargo is (as of July) close to settling several class action lawsuits for an additional $142 million … and that still won’t be the end of the litigation.

In the cockpit, demands and wishes and authority are never up to the task of overriding physics. In leading people and the organizations they make up, the same is true: demands and wishes and authority are insufficient without the humility required to accept the inconvenient effects of Reality. It is a variable without which the equation for success doesn’t work, and one that leaders ignore to their peril.

On Disagreement

Lance Accountability, Communication, Ideas, Integrity, Leadership Leave a Comment

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A few thoughts and observations about Disagreement — what it is, what it’s not, and why it matters.

The pdf version of what follows is available here. Feel free to download it and use it however you wish.

NOTES

1 – The banalities and absurdities of being a modern corporate employee were hilariously brought to life on TV with The Office (2005-2003) and at the movie theater before that with Office Space (1999). Yet, ten years before that, the cathartic release for the white collar worker was the comic strip Dilbert, created by Scott Adams

Source: http://bit.ly/2hGs3ap


3 – What started with ESPN turning sports programming into debate programming about sports has now fully infected the world of cable news. The point of a Stephen A. Smith or a Skip Bayless arguing about sports is not to persuade the other person. It is merely performance art for the entertainment of the audience. This is now the same model for our news media, and it is no accident. So says CNN president Jeff Zucker: ““The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way.” And we are all poorer as a result.

Source: http://bit.ly/2x80SHo


4 – During a live television broadcast of President Obama’s special address before a Joint Session of Congress on September 9, 2009, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) interrupted the President’s speech about his health care reform plan with a shout of “YOU LIE!” While received enthusiastically by the legislation’s opponents, Wilson almost immediately regretted his outburst, issuing an apologetic statement that same night.

Eight years later, the moment still haunts Wilson. On April 10, 2017, during a town hall meeting with constituents about the GOP’s plan to repeal Obamacare, Congressman Wilson was repeatedly booed and heckled with his own words.

Source: http://cnn.it/2wsfZfihttp://nbcnews.to/2xUqviU


7 – Yes, this is an actual relationship advice video on YouTube. It comes from Dan Bacon, “Founder and Lead Dating Coach” of the bro-centric website, “The Modern Man,” which promises: “Use our proven techniques and you will Get Instant Results With Women.” It is every bit as absurd and shallow as it sounds.

Source: http://bit.ly/2fJUhjP


8 – North Korean citizens at a rally in March, 2013, in the country’s capital of Pyongyang.

Source: http://nbcnews.to/2x8Jhz7

 


9 – Artistic adaption of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the short tale authored by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Original artwork by Brazilian artist Roberto Weigand.

Source: http://bit.ly/2x95rRLhttp://bit.ly/2fICUQA


11 – A great read on the civic dangers of tribalism run amok can be found here: http://nym.ag/2xUHJfY

 


13 – In the debate over guns in America, there are two main ideological opponents. On the right stands the National Rifle Association: with nearly 5 million members, its stated mission is to serve as the “the premier firearms education organization in the world … [and] America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights.” On the left stands Everytown For Gun Safety: with over 3 million members, its stated mission is “Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.” These groups perpetually describe the “real” motivations of the other in the starkest terms of an evil caricature. Until this changes, there is little hope of working together to solve a real problem while affording a Constitutional right the proper respect it deserves.

Source: http://bit.ly/2xX6O8f | http://every.tw/2wBbX4h


14 – On March 2, 2017, political scientist and author Charles Murray attempted to deliver a talk at Middlebury College in Vermont by invitation from a conservative student organization, the American Enterprise Institute Club. Over 400 students attempted to prevent the talk from occurring, using tactics such as shouting over Murray and pulling fire alarms in the building. At the conclusion of the event, the group of students physically accosted Murray and his staff interviewer – Middlebury professor Allison Stanger – as they attempted to leave the building. In the fracas, Stanger suffered a concussion after a masked protester grabbed her hair and twisted her neck.

Source: http://nyti.ms/2xWCInM


15 – The first ten amendments to the US Constitution – collectively known as “The Bill of Rights” – were passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification in August, 1789. Authored by James Madison, they were ratified by the last state needed (Virginia) on December 15, 1791.

Amendment I states the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Source: http://bit.ly/2x8U3Fx


16 – On October 31, 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther wrote down his objections to the practices of the Catholic Church at the time, listed out as 95 statements. With an invitation to debate these theses for anyone willing to do so, Luther nailed his document to the front door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This act of singular but public defiance became the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation in Europe, and completely altered the course of Western Civilization.

Depicted in art: Ferdinand Pauwels, Luther Posting the 95 Theses, 1872, Wartburg-Stiftung, Eisenach, Germany

Source: http://bit.ly/2wrU1ZO | http://bit.ly/2g3rJ1R


 17 – In 1543, Polish mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus published his work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (Concerning the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs). In it, Copernicus laid out his observations and proofs for a heliocentric (sun-centered) view of the known universe vs the geocentric (Earth-centered) view that had been the accepted view since men had begun contemplating astronomical movement. Copernicus’ model was seen as heresy by the Catholic Church, which viewed the geocentric model as best conforming to the language of Scripture and the preeminence of Mankind as being the creation made in God’s image.

Source: http://bit.ly/2xMZ88v


18 – In 1985, Steve Jobs proposed changing Apple’s distribution strategy from distribution centers managing inventory to a “just in time” production model. Donna Dubinksy, a mid-level director in charge of Apple’s distribution operations, saw the plan as flawed, and potentially fatal to Apple itself at the time. When her objections were not taken seriously by the group charged with reviewing the plan, Dubinksy gave an ultimatum: give her 30 days to work alone making her case, or she would quit. She got the 30 days, her case persuaded the Board to reject Jobs’ plan, and she was promoted as a result.

Steve Jobs and the Macintosh computer featured on the first issue of Macworld magazine on April 1, 1984.

Source: http://bit.ly/2y4hG6q | http://hbs.me/2ggEDcS


19 – The metaphor of the “echo chamber” – a collection of relationships and interactions that become impervious to outside input and in which the group’s preexisting beliefs are reinforced and amplified – is not just an apt description for how modern politics and social media are interacting. The groupthink made possible by organizational echo chambers plagues the corporate world as well. A lake with no inlet of running water ultimately grows stagnant and unhealthy; so, too, does an organization’s leadership team when everyone thinks the same way and differing thought is shut out.

Source: http://n.pr/2wB03Yd | http://for.tn/2ggl7gs


20 – On the morning of January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger took off from launchpad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center. It was 36 degrees at launch for mission STS-51L, 15 degrees colder than any of the previous 25 Shuttle launches. 73 seconds after liftoff, Challenger exploded, disintegrating before the eyes of viewers watching live on TV. Investigation revealed the cause: the frigid overnight temperatures caused the o-ring seal joining two sections of the Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) to become brittle and fail. This allowed the heat from the SRM exhaust to burn into the large liquid fuel tank, igniting the explosion. While this danger was a feared risk by the engineers at NASA and the SRM’s contractor, Morton Thiokol, Inc., those fears were never effectively communicated to the leaders charged with making the decision to launch.

Source: http://bit.ly/2gfJvPm | https://go.nasa.gov/2y528iu


21 – Norman Rockwell, Freedom of Speech, 1943, story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, February 20, 1943.

Daniel Nance, Freedom of Speech 2010, 2010, acrylic painting.

Source: http://bit.ly/2y4Oaxd | http://bit.ly/2xmUj3N


22 – During the 2016 NFL preseason, quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting during the pregame singing of the National Anthem as a show of protest over the treatment of black men by police. At the request of fellow NFL player and former US Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, the protest took the form of kneeling during the anthem instead of sitting. While a handful of players joined in the 2016 protest, the movement came to encompass nearly half the NFL in 2017, after comments by President Trump inflamed the situation. During a rally in Alabama on September 22, 2017, President Trump called protesting players “sons of bitches” and advocated for their firing by the NFL, and for the boycott of the NFL by fans if the protests continued.

Source: http://cbsprt.co/2xlIYpt | http://cnn.it/2xXpyXy


23 – On Good Friday, April 12, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for protesting without a permit along with nearly 50 fellow civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Alabama. That same day, a group of eight Alabama clergyman issued a public statement condemning the protests and praising the police action. In what would later come to be known as “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King’s response was a masterful defense of both the goals and tactics of his civil rights crusade, as well as the ideals of the American experiment itself. Calling upon the words of St. Augustine, Socrates, Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice Earl Warren, King’s powerful words became one of the most important written works in American history.

Source: http://bit.ly/2ggL4wy | http://ti.me/2xnvtpg | http://bit.ly/2fPptdJ

 

 

Ignorant vs Wrong

Lance Accountability, Discipline, Ideas, Leadership, Simplicity Leave a Comment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In 2012, Apple released its “Maps” app to try to keep its loyal users from leaving its Cupertino-centered universe and using the mapping wonder of its rival, Google Maps. The epic fail of the Maps release instantly became evident. Beyond the obvious technical glitches of the melting cities and missing images, there was a much more fundamental problem: wrong directions. In one of the more frightening stories of the marriage of tech reliance and tech fail, Apple’s Maps led out of town drivers to cross an airport runway en route to the terminal at Fairbanks International Airport:

At least twice in the past three weeks, drivers from out of town who followed the directions on their iPhones not only reached airport property, but also crossed the runway and drove to the airport ramp side of the passenger terminal.

“These folks drove past several signs. They even drove past a gate. None of that cued them that they did something inappropriate,” said Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the Fairbanks airport.

Angie Spear, marketing director for the airport, said the incidents show how much blind faith drivers who are unfamiliar with an area will place in their electronic gadgets’ instructions.

“No matter what the signs say, the map on their iPhone told them to proceed this way,” Spear said.

After airport personnel, police and the TSA converged on the driver of a rental car during the Sept. 6 daylight runway crossing, the airport staff complained through the attorney general’s office to Apple, said Spear.

The problem was supposed to have been fixed promptly, according to reports form the Apple legal department to the attorney general’s office and Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, but it hasn’t been, Spear and Osborn said.

“We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,” Osborn said.

A “lot of legal speak” ensued, Spear said.

On Sept. 20, it happened again. The airport has since closed the aircraft access route to Taxiway Bravo from the Float Pond Road.


As you lead your organization, is it better to have no information or bad information? Too often, we actively choose the latter, excusing inaccurate data, unsound polling methods or statistically insufficient response rates as “directionally accurate” and by repeating the mantra “some data is better than none.”

But is it?

At least in the absence of data, the lack of information is known (those famous “known unknowns“). For all but the most hubristic of leaders, the known absence of information brings to the decision-making process some measure of humility; it’s more difficult to be rigidly certain when one is also aware of the lack of evidence supporting one’s conclusion.

It is psychologically comforting and socially safer to hide behind some fig leaf of data, even if that data is wrong, incomplete, or insufficient. Nobody can blame you for the failed outcome of your decision because at least you tried to rely on the best data available. It’s not like you just went off and ignored data and went with your own gut, right?

However, while it may be safer for you personally, giving “data” a position of reverence in your decision making process simply because it has the appearance of real information is a recipe for bad decisions, no less so than the “appeal to authority” form of argument is a sure sign of a bad argument. Both look proper at first blush, but fall apart under rigorous scrutiny … or are pulled asunder by the dynamic forces of Reality.

Yielding to data no matter how thin may feel like a more scientific and diligent way to make decisions. While it may have begun that way, at some point the worship of Data no matter the validity ferments into the decision-making safe hole for the lazy and the cowardly. It takes a lot more effort and courage to look at the data, judge it to be invalid, and take ownership of the results of deciding to go in a different direction. In that case, you will have nowhere to hide should your decision prove to be wrong.

To be clear: this isn’t an anti-data argument against seeking out information to better inform decisions. Rather, it is simply a plea:

  • to always apply rigor in judging how much weight the data should receive;
  • to guard against allowing the scientific-y appearance of the data and its process of collection from becoming a default badge of authority for the data itself; and
  • to never simply surrender your own ability to think and analyze in deference to “the data.”

Use the data. Check the maps. But, for heaven’s sake, look out the window and ignore them when your eyes, your brain, and your gut are telling you something different.