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NOTE5: Woke Backlash, Violence & Collateral Damage

From Street Corner to Conference Room I’ll keep repeating this connection. The narrative that drives diversity, equity & inclusion is the same narrative that drives fiery but mostly peaceful protests. It’s a victimhood narrative. The #blacklivesmatter slogan spray painted on smoldering buildings and printed on corporate posters and featured in political campaigns doesn’t raise a question? A majority of people, regardless of their identity or intersectional scorecard, don’t want to be treated as victims — to be labeled a “diversity hire” or “equity promotion” because they earned success in the midst of a political spasm. Each of these stories has relevance that stretches across private, […]

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Storytelling & Collapsing in Business and Society

The Key Words In 2015 and 2016 I was at Adobe conferences in Las Vegas, London and Singapore. Digital Transformation ran point, of course. Storytelling” and its sub-theme “empathy” were counterpoints in every room I entered. Storytelling was officially the thing. As software eats the world, software-enabled storytelling eats the humans at great societal cost. Empathy is just one device in the storyteller’s manipulation toolbox that includes vulnerability, purpose, meaning, and an assortment of intersectional mousetraps — all baited with emotional incentives that appeal equally to guilt mechanisms of the non-intersectional. This proven formula works for marketing, management philosophy, and all manner of public & […]

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The Pebble Principle (Habits)

I started this brief a long time ago and then 2020 happened. Something reinforced by this year’s events is that aggressive pragmatism holds the line through trends, and through crisis. You hear a lot about “pivoting.” How many leaders are pivoting from one trend to another trend? There are moments that call for bold action but the pebble principle holds steady. Consistent, repeated small actions tend to generate the most returns. Often times the action is avoidance. Here are 3 favorites: Avoid trends — the amount of money and resources swallowed by well-marketed trends is staggering when weighed against value. Don’t be afraid to look […]

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NOTE5: Leadership, Media, Separating Signal from Noise

A Good Primer for Leaders Critical Race Theory (CRT) is banned as a training doctrine in the US Federal gov’t. The pushback will be noisy & distorted (and the ban may be overturned). CRT is the mother of white privilege, equity, diversity & inclusion, racial-sensitivity, anti-racism, anti-bias, and every other go-to-market branding that shares this singular tenet: “The question is not ‘did racism take place?’ but ‘how did racism manifest in that situation?’” (–quoting DiAngelo) Here’s what this means for you. Waking up in the morning, your alarm clock is racist because time itself is racist and reliably showing up for your racist job is […]

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Resources: Leadership, Culture, Teams

These suggestions criss-cross important topics and disciplines always with an eye toward leadership and common-sense. I’ll add to this page occasionally. Drop me a line if anything sparks a question. Articles China and the Truth by Benjamin Ra in The Motley Fool It’s Time To Build by Marc Andreessen What 9/11 Taught Us About Leadership In A Crisis by Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell in NYTimes To Change The Way You Think, Change The Way You See by Adam Brandenburger in Harvard Business Review Turning Strategy Into Results by Donald Sull, Stefano Turconi, Charles Sull, and James Yoder in MIT Sloan Management Review Why Facts Don’t […]

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NOTE5: Human/Culture Roadblocks to Digital Transformation

Why? (Emotional) vs. How? (Practical) “Start with why” is a trendy leadership slogan that follows a best-selling book of the same name. It’s generated attention and revenue in the same way “investment gurus” generate attention and revenue by selling advice instead of investing. That’s an unpopular and arguably sour-grapes take that I’ll stand by. Systems-Rigidity Example: Supply Chains During COVID-19 We need more tweakers (systems, not meth) and fewer analysts. The brittleness of our food supply chain clearly indicates efficiency kills flexibility. Processing is overly centralized, suppliers may be limited by restrictive contracts, there are too few/too big players in the systems, and…? How does […]

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That’s Not Really Agile, Is It?

A lot is written about Agile software development and seemingly as much appears to be misunderstood or perhaps just ignored until a newer, shinier buzzword emerges. To give context, I’m referring to Agile as it’s commonly used (or maybe misused) in digital marketing software development projects – not product development, R&D or other software teams where the methodology is a more natural fit. Narrowing the focus further let’s consider for the purpose of discussion a distributed team working across time zones. Immediately there are challenges to the 4 Agile values: 1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools (challenge: decentralized teams who, in some cases […]

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