Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Last night I spent an hour or so at a project wrapup celebration. It was set to be dull, dull, dull, but I decided to "have fun" no matter what. To that end, when I found myself seated next to a gentleman I have never spoken to outside of work, I patiently listened to more work-related talk, and then gently, appreciatively inquired about his passions outside of work.

DC ended up telling me some wonderful stories about his early days in the Marines, a hair-raising trip down the "wrong" side of Diamondhead in Hawaii, and an experience flying a vintage WWII training plane here in Central Ohio a few years ago. All in all, it was a very satisfying conversation.

Then it hit me. No matter what I do for a living; no matter where I go; no matter who I meet; I always have the ability to create my reality - to draw out the best in others - to employ these tools I'm learning to do good. My life will never be boring again. I think that's an insight worth $50,000--don't you?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Separation Anxiety

Max suddenly became very quiet yesterday. Sam whimpered all through last night. In our own ways, we're preparing for my upcoming extended absence from the family.

We had a plumbing disaster this weekend and lost a lot of old papers and documents. Tossing stuff is always painful at our house. Maybe they were reacting to that? Somehow I don't think so.

I finally completed the conversational footprint analysis (again). I've decided why these papers are so painful - they point out and force me to examine all of my inadequacies as a human being.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Footprints in the Snow

Ante asked me to rewrite the conversational footprint analysis (or accept a very poor grade). So it's back to the drawing board on that one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Grab Bagging It Again

No time to analyze: Stuff is just coming at me too fast.

One of my colleagues, RMF, told me yesterday that he is being deployed to Afghanistan for 18 months. He and his wife have an 18-month-old daughter, and a son on the way. The implications for him of course are enormous.

Implications for me: Already 'down' one person in our area, losing RMF means we are down two. No plan for 'backfilling' him. We could keep 3-4 more PMs busy, so we're just limping along as fast as we can.

I finished another chapter of the Adler last night. Essentially, advice for global managers on how to manage cultural difference by being mindful. In a nutshell.

What else?

My roomie, Cheryl, is recovering from her surgery and the good news - no cancer. Phew.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Risk Averse Culture

Making good progress on the readings. I've finished reading the Hofstede and the Shaw, and I've read two of the six assigned chapters in the Adler. The Adler is a pretty easy read, especially in comparison with the Shaw!

Adler describes and quantifies cultural differences across different dimensions. As I was reading, I spent some time studying her graphs with my own upbringing in mind. Biggest insight was the 'uncertainty avoidance' associated with Greek culture, as compared to American culture. I can see now why I have sometimes seemed to be so far out of step with my friends in taking risks.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Two Weeks and Counting

In two weeks I will be in Leuven with my classmates!

Last night I shipped the metaphor paper off to Eric. How do you spell relief?


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Novelty of the New

I've often said I have a short attention span.

As I was digging out Images of Organization to assist me in writing the metaphor paper, I was enticed by the Siren song of readings for the next phase of the program: Changing Conversations in Organizations and International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. It was all I could do to pick up the Morgan and sit down here at the keyboard. I still haven't plunged into the metaphor paper - I'm reflecting on my lack of desire to do so and to move on to the Next Big Thing!

I need to get a life.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Parenthetical Metaphorical Plop

Vain, indeed.

(I did NOT finish the paper yesterday. I'm back at the keyboard this afternoon.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Public Statement of Intent

I intend to finish the metaphor paper by the end of the day today.

Inspiration, move me brightly
Light the song with sense and color
Hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
Faced with mysteries dark and vast
Statements just seem vain at last

- Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Grab Bag

Eric talked me through the metaphor assignment on the phone last night. I think I'm ready to plunge back into it and finish it. Then, on to the IFP paper.

I've approached Nancy Adler about presenting for my employer in March. I think it could be an exciting event, though I'm not sure how to make a 'business case' for it.

I wanted to stay up all night reading Patricia Shaw, but thought better of it when my eyes started to burn and the light wedge batteries wore out. What a mind! Her swirling narrative makes my head spin.

Other stuff: I've been researching what it would take to be a franchisee of Action International. It is an interesting organization with a seemingly robust set of resources. I met with Craig Hohnberger this week to learn more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Reality Bites

DN told me that he thought he was keeping me from being 'blindsided' during the call. He showed no interest in complex conversations or process analysis. I'm a little disappointed - I think I anticipated he would have more going on. Wishful thinking.

Changing Conversations

I'm loving Patricia Shaw's Changing Conversations in Organizations: A Complexity Approach to Change.

After struggling to comprehend an an email chain 3 months and 5 pages long, between four parties who didn't know each other, don't work in the same division or time zone, and come from different heritage organizations, I finally set up a conference call "just to talk."

As I was preparing to dial in, DN (senior to me but not my direct manager) walked into the little room I had set up and asked me what we were going to talk about. He stopped me from dialing in until he had provided me with his framework/understanding of what needed to be accomplished. I think he thought that the call was not necessary (I want to confirm this assumption), and that I wasn't prepared to manage the call. Interestingly, I *wasn't* prepared to 'manage' the call! I was trying to get the parties into one place in the time/space continuum just to see whether that kind of synchronous conversation would bring some clarity. Essentially, my 'agenda' was to bring people together and allow some human interaction, with the hope that some common understanding would emerge from that. In other words, I did not know what should happen, I hoped I was facilitating the emergence of that knowledge. I think DN's expectations were that I would tell the parties what needed to happen and how. (Again, I want to talk to him about this to confirm.)

Last night while reading Shaw's book I realized that she was giving voice to what I was intuitively trying to practice with my agenda-free meeting. She writes about allowing meaning-making to emerge during conversations, and that is exactly where I was yesterday! She describes this as an application of complexity theory to culture change in the organization.

I didn't consciously think of what I was doing yesterday as intentional culture change, but that is exactly what I was doing in my meeting. We have (at least!) two different sets of assumptions and knowledge bases coming out of this merger. That extended email chain - it was a complete clash of cultures.

Epilogue: At the end of the meeting, I think we all came away with a better understanding of what was going on in each others' worlds and how we could communicate a little better. Did I drive the participants to my pre-determined solution? No. But I think we all came away with a sense that we had co-created a solution we could all live with. I like and respect DN, and I'm going to approach him about this process and his perceptions of what happened yesterday.

Too Little . . .

I sent an SOS to Eric yesterday. At least I did that much.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lacking Integrity

I haven't turned in the metaphor paper, and I haven't explained why.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

Winking Lizard Last Night

The consultants of Compuware Columbus will always be my extended family.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Yesterday was a day of divergence and confluence.

I joined the Toastmasters club that meets where I work. I had no plans to join Toastmasters, and yet, here I am. In theory, it makes sense to add Toastmasters to my learning plan. If I am to teach and speak, practicing these presentation and speaking skills is essential. In practice, however, I have overdue school work I'm struggling to get everything done in the rest of my life.

So what was I thinking?!

I've noticed this pattern before. When deadlines loom (or appear in the rear-view mirror) and the stress builds up, I tend to go shopping - for other things to do! I load up on the small activities like contributing to iCohere, writing in my blog, emailing my friends, making personal appointments for the future, etc. etc. etc.

This must be the way that I manifest denial. Diverge all over the place.

On the convergence side, I've helped make a potential funding connection for a "LEED for Homes" pilot project here in Central Ohio. Cross your fingers! The project is associated with the Columbus Green Building Forum and the Worthington-Kilbourne Home B.A.S.E. program.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

First Grade Artistree

Double-loop Learning?

I've been listening to Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatley this week. I just could not get a handle on what she was saying in the first few hours of the tape. But the longer I listen, the more energized I become by the ideas. The last two hours of the tape are riveting - I plan to double back and listen to the first couple of hours again. I'd like to see if having the whole package in my head helps me to make sense of the beginning this time through.
I smiled as I re-read that last sentence . . . I think I've just applied some of what she's saying! Autopoesis anyone?