Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One Thing Leads to Another

I joined a new employee networking group (ENG) at work today - the 'Experienced Professionals Network.' It's intended to serve employees over 40. I took a big gulp and walked into the room knowing that admitting to being of a certain age in our organization is asking for a new level of abuse and scorn. I couldn't imagine how lumping myself in with "older workers" could benefit me. But I decided to trust the process, as Pam says.

I can identify three immediate benefits from attending. First, I reconnected with an acquaintance from my previous employer, and that just felt good. Second, I got a piece of information about budgeting and salaries that I think could pay off within six months. And third, the executive sponsor of the new network offered to help me make some connections within the organization, with an eye toward moving closer to my ideal position and maybe even relocating.

I've been working on my portfolio this week, too. It has been truly weird to review the work in it, some of which dates back to 1997. It holds up, but it's so far removed from my current reality. Back in those days I was a technical writer using an application called Doc-to-Help to create user guides and online Help for applications.

Connie was chatting with me yesterday about feeling that the Universe was pulling her life in a direction that she could not seem to ignore. As she looks over her life, she sees an emergent pattern that she could not have predicted or chosen intentionally.

As I review my old portfolio pieces, I'm able to see how one thing leads to another, too. And I wonder what parts of the puzzle are yet to be dropped into the big picture of my life.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?

I joined the Academy of Management this morning as an 'executive' member. I plan to attend at least parts of the annual meeting in August in Atlanta. I find this turn of events almost absurd. I guess you would have had to have known me from childhood to know how unlikely and incongruous this whole paragraph is.

Let me know if you plan to be there, too. You won't be able to miss me - I'll be the out-of-synch middle-aged woman starstruck by Chris Argyris and Ed Schein. Argyris - that's a Greek surname, am I right?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tell Me All That You Know

Another experiment that Bohm might have been unfamiliar with is T-groups or sensitivity training. If he was aware of it, did he ever write about how his imagined 'dialogue' was different than a the process that occurs in a T-group? If there is a dfference, is the difference simply a matter of intent? In a dialogue, the intent is almost 'no intent,' or maybe we could say the intent is 'thinking together.' In a T-group, the intent is to observe the group process . . .

I was so excited about On Dialogue before I read it. In some ways it was disappointing. But Bohm's voice continues to bounce around and echo echo echo inside my head, so I'll probably end up searching out more of his stuff.

Meanwhile, I've started into Gergen's An Invitation to Social Construction. As I read, I'm trying to figure out how Ken Wilber and Ken Gergen see each other (philosophically speaking).

I feel a little guilty reading all this mind candy. What am I going to do with this stuff? It's incredibly fascinating, but what does it all mean? What material effect does all this intellectual noodling have in the world? Plus, it's distracting me from prosaic stuff like working on my resume or playing board games with the kids.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Conversation Re Coaching

One of my colleagues and I talked about coaching last week. The meeting came about as a result of my sharing the Neuroscience of Leadership article. This particular colleague has studied coaching with David Rock, one of the coauthors of the article.

It turns out that Rock advocates a coaching model based on brain science and centered on 'thinking questions.' My colleague and I briefly compared notes on the coaching model that I learned with Richard Boyatzis, which revolves around personal vision and emotional intelligence. The difference between the emphasis in the styles got me to thinking about the Philosophical Orientation Questionnaire (POQ).

Is one model 'better than' another? Maybe a coaching style emphasizing 'thinking' would appeal and resonate more with someone whose philosophical orientation is Intellectual, while a coaching style emphasizing personal vision would resonate more with someone whose POQ is Humanistic. If so, which coaching model would appeal to someone whose POQ is Pragmatic? (I'm guessing most Pragmatics would regard coaching as unnecessary fluff and refuse to participate in it!)

I'm almost certain that Richard would defend his coaching model as the 'right' one, and Rock would probably defend his model in the same way. One is based on research into emotional intelligence, and the other is based on research in brain science. If the research in both is equally valid, how could we combine the models to create an even more effective model?

In any case, it's very frustrating to have all this theory and research and then to look around in the 'real world' of business and find so little of it being valued or applied. I've grown more and more interested in how to introduce change in a stealthy way.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sing Hallelujah, C'Mon Get Happy

Having recently read Learned Optimism by Seligman, I'm not particularly excited about reading the first selection in the MPOD book club, Authentic Happiness. Not that there's anything wrong with it, per se. I just find myself wanting to read more meaty or academic selections. Seligman has an entire website built around authentic happiness.

I'm sure I can benefit from the book, and maybe I'll even love it! Even if I don't care for it that much, I'll get a chance to spend time with some of my now-former classmates talking about things that we value.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

On Dialogue

I finished reading David Bohm's On Dialogue this weekend.

As I read further, I kept wondering if David Bohm had ever heard of meditation. It seems to me that much of his desired or hoped-for development of consciousness is answered by meditation. But maybe I'm not reading him well.

Friday, June 16, 2006

SuperElastic Bubble Plastic

I'm going for broke on my high-profile project.

We'll be using PlaceWare to display the documents for the meeting to the geographically dispersed crowd. And we're having the conference call recorded so that we can replay the meeting to be sure we've captured all the feedback.

The funny thing is, I've asked my project management collegues about how to do all of this, and most of them have not taken advantage of the technologies we have available and could not provide any guidance.

I'm working outside my comfort zone! But as I spoke with Debbie, Mary, and Nancy last night, they pointed out that I've been given a 'stretch assignment.' This project has been a royal pain, but when I look at it that way, I guess I'm grateful for the opportunity. (At least I get to play with some fun toys!)

Thursday, June 15, 2006


A group of my classmates is planning to attend the annual Academy of Management meeting in Atlanta in August. (Atlanta in August? Ugh.)

I want to join them, because the list of sessions is formidable. In fact, it's daunting! Rita provided me with the names of a few of the juicier ones. Ed Schein is on one panel, and Chris Argyris is in another session. David Cooperrider will be there to talk about BAWB, too. And David will be joined by Nancy Adler, for whom I have a great admiration.

When I started this post I was planning to say that I can't afford either the time or the money to attend. Now I'm not sure that I can afford to skip it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

All I Want is Everything

As a graduation present, Beth presented me with Ken Wilber's A Theory of Everything. For some logistical reasons (I kept forgetting to bring it into the house, for example), I hadn't started reading it, and it was high on my list.

Today I needed some serious downtime from work craziness, so I grabbed a prepared ham-n-cheese sandwich and a bottle of grape drink from the cafeteria and hiked out to the car. There I consumed my sandwich and the foreword and first chapter of the book.

I don't know what I was expecting, exactly, but it wasn't this quiet, matter-of-fact prose. I guess with all the hype around Ken Wilber, I figured it was going to be some kind of wild-eyed manifesto. At least so far - not so much.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Neuroscience of Leadership

I sent this article out to about 50 of my closest friends and colleagues two days ago. It's really a wonderful summation of many of the principles that we learned in our Appreciative Inquiry class with David Cooperrider and our coaching class with Richard Boyatzis.

What has been most interesting is the positive feedback I've received from distributing the article. One friend wrote to tell me that it was a 'blessing' - she was going to put the research to use in a state-wide presentation to school administrators June 28. Another friend wrote to tell me that someone else had mentioned the same article to her the day before - she used the term 'synchronicity.' One colleague forwarded it to his entire leadership team, and one of the team wrote back to tell us that he had studied coaching with David Rock, a co-author of the piece!

I am grateful to be part of a community like this. JP has called me a 'Connector' in the past - I believe that may be my role in this community. It doesn't pay very well, but the perks are great - a chance to be of service to some of the best minds and hearts in the world.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Friday, June 09, 2006

And More of the Same

We read The Transforming Power of Affect by Diana Fosha during the first semester of our program. Eric is interested in attachment theory, so after a few hours of lecture we dove head-first into the deep waters of Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy.

I knew Rosa wanted to read it, so I sent it to her last week. She's done a lot of work with Gene Gendlin's Focusing, and Fosha's work has a lot in common with (builds on?) that. This morning she called me at work to thank me. Her voice was soft and resonant . . . she had started reading it and was enthralled. I'm so glad I sent it to her.

I'm still reading A General Theory of Love, and much of it is concerned with attachment theory, too. This reinforcement of my learning from the program and my outside reading might be construed as Hebbian learning.

A General Theory of Love states:

Because human beings remember with neurons, we are disposed to see more of what we have already seen, hear anew what we have heard most often, think just what we have always thought.
So is the feeling of rightness I experience when I read really just familiarity? Is it a groove or a rut?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Oh, I've Been Smiling Lately

My cousin Harriett celebrates her . . . 53rd? . . . birthday today. But she'll always be the 18-year-old who invited me to Little Sibs weekend at Kent State in 1971. That weekend was pivotal for me, an 11-year-old kid from a western suburb of Cleveland. In my mind's eye I can still see us eating pizza on the floor of her darkened dorm room with her friends, a lit candle stuck in an empty bottle of Mateus Rose wine covered with wax drippings.

She took me to a campus double-feature of some Charlie Brown movie and Woodstock. Charlie Brown was completely forgettable. But Richie Havens blew my poor little mind - I didn't know what to think. To Harriett's eternal credit, she knew enough to ask me if I wanted to leave the movie, and then listened when I told her I did. I doubt I would have been unselfish enough to do the same at her age.

Harriett let me pick out an album for myself at a local record store, too. Since we had been listening to Cat Stevens' Teaser and the Firecat all weekend, that seemed like a natural choice. That he was cute and soulful and Greek - it was an irresistible combination.

Thank you Harriett. I love you. Happy Birthday and Xronia Polla.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Andy Shaw

We lucked into hearing Andy Shaw's band at the Columbus Arts Festival this weekend.

His web site is nothing to write home about, and I can't seem to get the mp3 samples to download and play. But he has a great sound and an awesome keyboardist (his dad, maybe?). Fact is, the whole band sounds good.

When they play, it makes my joints loose. Snake music. Jam band.

Just Another Manic Monday

It's difficult to come in to work and find that I do not relish any of the tasks at hand.

Little Miss Can't-Be-Wrong left an email timebomb in my Inbox Friday night at 8:00 p.m., so I'll have to defuse that first off. She finishes off her love letter to me with her inimitable signature statement, "I'm confused when you say . . .."

If everyone has a nemesis, Little Miss Can't-Be-Wrong is surely mine.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Another project of the hive mind...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

I think Rosa first recommended A General Theory of Love to me, for which I thank her profusely. I've just started reading it in the last day or so. It's so beautifully written that I spontaneously began reading it out loud to the kids as if it were poetry. (They of course thought I was insane, but I hope that's the sort of thing they will remember about their mom - that she was spontaneously insane and in love with life and words.)

I'd love to sit here all day and read, but we're planning a trip to the Columbus Arts Festival today. Maybe tonight I'll get a few hours to read some more.