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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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Resources: Build A Newsfeed, Not An Anxietyfeed

The news sucks in large part because the ad-based business model profits from outrage and anxiety. There’s little incentive for that to change but there are ways to build a better stream of information that you control, instead of surrendering to algorithms. I’ve been working on a sanity-preserving newsfeed for about 7 years, going hard since 2018. This was recorded near the beginning of C19 hysteria. Some things have changed since then and some haven’t. Here it is as a reference: Recent Changes Bloomberg’s weekday morning shows (about 6-9 AM EST) were market-focused and mostly apolitical. That’s over, at least temporarily. Their web/print is biased […]

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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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Send In The Clowns: Woke At Work And Other Gaps

This is a look at the foundations of “woke” beyond its emotional appeal; a reference to free-thinking and practical approaches for business leaders. Second are a few observations about U.S.-China relations in the context of current events. Culture is the thread. Trigger warnings all around… Successful buffet design is a PsyOp. Front-load the buffet with cheap pasta, dotted by a few colorful veggies and glaze it with a slick of “Italian” dressing from a 5-gallon bucket. Name it something catchy — Pasta Primavera! It’s neither Italian nor faithful to the original recipe but fear not. Diners overwhelmingly consume what is presented first. A majority consume […]

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Unpacking Transformation 2020, Part 8: Contradictions

Thought leaders have been selling an academic fantasy of digital transformation for decades. It doesn’t work. Here’s what does: stealthy, small scale initiatives that start with a wide berth. Determined non-conformists on a mission. Cross-pollinating, multidisciplinary teams of fewer that 5 people. Organic opt-in over forced buy-in. Controlled-environment R&D over spray & pray ‘org-wide.’

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Unpacking Transformation 2020, Part 7: A Framework For Discovery, Ignition & Growth

When it comes to change and transformation efforts I’m inclined toward an open-source ethos. In that spirit, I’m sharing my program. Here’s why.

Beginning with our first interaction it sets the stage for a discussion of the future, not the past. It opens up discovery. Not a fishing expedition for canned answers I think might open your checkbook.

Our first goal is to establish a rapport of mutual open-mindedness. Narrow-minded managers are hungry for use cases as a CYA mechanism. Receptive leaders aren’t.

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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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Unpacking Transformation 2020, Part 6: Cultures

Culture and relationships are the hardest part. You need to identify and develop willing lieutenants who can mobilize their people, evangelize a mindset of change, and gradually grant permission to their extended teams to evaluate and apply risk with high probability of paying dividends. Think ripple effect instead of tsunami.

Above all, recognize that culture is an output. If you want to change the culture, change the input.

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