We need everybody …

So this post is not about Agile or Scrum, Change or Collaboration — I simply have a photo album to share and thought I’d post it here! … Especially given that I’ve not posted anything in over six months. There is a thing, right, about setting blog writing goals, once a week, once a day? <— I believe that I am failing in that.

I could make this post about Leadership, though, and dog training. I think that could be a thing. I’m currently reading, How to Make your Dog COME Without Being a BUTT-HEAD … we could write the book, How to Make your Team WORK Without Being a BUTT-HEAD : )

Anyway, my family volunteers with Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue, transporting dogs. We’ve got two Pyrs, my Mom has three, and I grew up in a household that raised multiple litters of Pyrenees pups. Below is an album of photos I took at AGPR’s PyrFest 2016. Enjoy!

This is the year of the Monkey on the Chinese calendar.

Sun Wukong, the Monkey King! I am a big fan, and he is a star in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, published in the 16th century. But I knew him best watching the TV production while living in China in the late 80’s. My wife was also born in the year of the Monkey! We’re aiming for a good year – Hope you are too.

Sun Wukong Battles Jade Rabbit (1889) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Art: Sun Wukong Battles Jade Rabbit (1889) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon.

Copyright Trustees of the British Museum


Via the Internet I was introduced to someone yesterday — Tragically, just a few days after he died, in an accident while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, though that manner of passing actually speaks volumes about his life and what I have learned about him since. He had guts.

I am talking about Scott Dinsmore, founder of Live Your Legend, and clearly an inspiration for thousands of individuals, likely hundreds of thousands. I wish I had “met” him sooner. But this is the thing of legends and connections via the web – in many ways, I can still get to know him, learn from him, be inspired by him. For that I am grateful, grateful to him, and grateful and intrigued by our connected world. And I am sorry for his wife, his family, and his friends, sorry for (though admittedly a little jealous of) those who knew him well and had the opportunity to spend time with him.

This video from his TEDx talk in San Francisco has been viewed, like, millions of times, but I’ll include it here as it remains a valuable message to anyone looking to live a life of meaning, purpose, self-direction, passion, courage, empathy, love — such was Scott’s life as I now read about and understand it.

Thank you, Scott.

Appreciation to Leo Babauta (zenhabits) for my introduction to Scott Dinsmore.

Another good eulogy from Chase Reeves: When an Internet Friend Dies

This is important to remember, and critical to success in business and life – I believe this. And I’ll take this validation from founder of Walmart:

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.

Sam Walton

Really, it is such an easy concept — But inevitably, lack of clarity remains one of the most prevalent obstacles to project, goal, and team success. Here are some general clarity obstacles I see time and time again:

  • Lack of clarity around ownership
  • Lack of clarity around the review process + who has final say
  • Lack of clarity around who to go to when there is a question
  • Lack of clarity + understanding of dependencies
  • Lack of immediate (or asap) communication when there is a doubt around any of these

But let’s spin it positively!! Want success with your goals, your project, your team? Bring this on:

  • Clarity around ownership
  • Clarity around the review process + who has final say
  • Clarity around who to go to when there is a question
  • Clarity + understanding of dependencies
  • Immediate (or asap) communication when there is a doubt around any of these

Want me to share/explain more about this? Reach out —

So, I have to confess that I am both behind on and yet a little ahead on my stated goal, 0.1 to Python in Three Months? I’m behind because I’m just not as far along in learning to write code as I had hoped — But I am a little ahead because I actually got the job which had inspired me to learn Python in the first place! I now serve in the role of Technical Project Manager for the Center for Open Science – great mission, great place, good people, and good opportunity for me to continue to learn. Entering now into 2015, I will continue to commit to learning to code in Python, and I’m grateful for the access to learning I now have : )

I recently read a Harvard Business Review Blog post by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders. I actually really like this list and will share it here, but I do have a couple qualifiers.

First off, let’s recognize that there are an uncountable number of lists out there claiming to distill “leadership” traits into an easily digestible number — not possible — Though, for my part, I do continue to read them when they crop up — and the many numbered lists do prompt thought and consideration around the “whats” and “hows” of leadership. My goal some day is to distill my own list, my own approach, down to a one thing.

Second: I wouldn’t relegate this particular list to only “Innovative” leaders. This is a good list for any leader, boss, manager, person responsible, person in charge. In this context, I am not even sure what “Innovative” means — Best clue is the first sentence which states, “Many organizations would like their leaders to create more innovative teams.” So what we are really talking about is “leaders of innovation” as opposed to “innovative leaders.” I would rephrase as, “Leaders of people (teams) working together to create something new, interesting, and valuable.”

What is most innovative, to me, about this particular list is that the authors went through the hard work of interviewing and understanding leaders, and leadership, from 360-degrees — gaining insight from people who surround these leaders, peers to bosses to direct reports.

Here’s their list, and I’ll leave it as my 2014 last word on “Leadership:”

  1. Display excellent strategic vision. The most effective innovation leaders could vividly describe their vision of the future, and as one respondent noted about his boss: “She excelled at painting a clear picture of the destination, while we worked to figure out how to get there.”
  2. Have a strong customer focus. What was merely interesting to the customer became fascinating to these individuals. They sought to get inside the customer’s mind. They networked with clients and asked incessant questions about their needs and wants.
  3. Create a climate of reciprocal trust. Innovation often requires some level of risk. Not all innovative ideas are successful. These highly innovative leaders initiated warm, collaborative relationships with the innovators who worked for them. They made themselves highly accessible. Colleagues knew that their leader would cover their backs and not throw them under the bus if something went wrong. People were never punished for honest mistakes.
  4. Display fearless loyalty to doing what’s right for the organization and customer. Pleasing the boss or some other higher level executive always took a back seat to doing the right thing for the project or the company.
  5. Put their faith in a culture that magnifies upward communication. These leaders believed that the best and most innovative ideas bubbled up from underneath. They strived to create a culture that uncorked good ideas from the first level of the organization. They were often described as projecting optimism, full of energy, and always receptive to new ideas. Grimness was replaced with kidding and laughter.
  6. Are persuasive. These individuals were highly effective in getting others to accept good ideas. They did not push or force their ideas onto their teams. Instead, they presented ideas with enthusiasm and conviction, and the team willingly followed.
  7. Excel at setting stretch goals. These goals required people to go far beyond just working harder. These goals required that they find new ways to achieve a high goal.
  8. Emphasize speed. These leaders believed that speed scraped the barnacles off the hull of the boat. Experiments and rapid prototypes were preferred to lengthy studies by large committees.
  9. Are candid in their communication. These leaders were described as providing honest, and at times even sometimes blunt, feedback. Subordinates felt they could always count on straight answers from their leader.
  10. Inspire and motivate through action. One respondent said, “For innovation to exist you have to feel inspired.” This comes from a clear sense of purpose and meaning in the work.

This is a great article and a cool company …. I’ll just share this paragraph and leave it at that!

Today’s fastest growing, most profoundly impactful companies are using a completely different operating model. These companies are lean, mean, learning machines. They have an intense bias to action and a tolerance for risk, expressed through frequent experimentation and relentless product iteration. They hack together products and services, test them, and improve them, while their legacy competition edits PowerPoint. They are obsessed with company culture and top tier talent, with an emphasis on employees that can imagine, build, and test their own ideas. They are maniacally focused on customers. They are hypersensitive to friction – in their daily operations and their user experience. They are open, connected, and build with and for their community of users and co-conspirators. They are comfortable with the unknown – business models and customer value are revealed over time. They are driven by a purpose greater than profit; each has its own aspirational “dent in the universe.” We may simply refer to them as the first generation of truly responsive organizations.

Speaking of trust: I wonder … Does it translate to the workplace as well?

A prediction by some social scientists that the trauma of September 11, 2001, would usher in an era of greater cooperativeness among Americans appears to have been incorrect, according to a team led by Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University. The team’s study of 37,000 people shows that trust in others, as well as in institutions such as health organizations, government, and the media, fell to a historic low in 2012, the last year for which data was available. The decline in trust may be attributable to the widening gap between rich and poor in the U.S., the researchers say.

SOURCE: Declines in Trust in Others and Confidence in Institutions Among American Adults and Late Adolescents, 1972–2012