Wednesday, 18 February 2015


The most effective leadership will include dimensions of change whether leading change in strategies, in goals, programs or personnel.  If change is inevitable, then the question is what kinds of specific change does your organization need and what resources do you need to move forward?  Do you need a cultural shift, systemic change or do you need something less disruptive?

Charts and graphs based on gathered data can illustrate past and current activity as well as projections for the future.  It is good to know where you are before setting out to continue your journey or to shift gears to go in a different direction. And, perhaps more importantly, being sure that you have enough people or the right people on board before implementing the change is a good idea.  Good leaders look behind frequently to see who is following.

The dynamics of planned change include a number of features worth serious consideration as you design a blueprint for the future.  Here are 10 questions, not meant to be an exhaustive or an exhausting list, but questions to help focus your work and make it both efficient and effective.
·      1. Who is the key, go to person for the project? 
·      2. What kind of process do you have for keeping on track and on budget?
·      3. What is the overall purpose of the change and how does it fit into the mission and existing programs of the organization?
·      4. Is the timeline reasonable and realistic?
·      5. How is progress going to be measured and reported out?
·      6. Is the change adding to or taking away and what are the consequences?
·       7.Is there adequate support, both financially and organizationally, to insure the best possible result?
·      8. Have you devoted sufficient time and resources to preparation before launching the change?
·      9. Are there any additional needs that have not surfaced previously?
·     10. Do you have plans to celebrate the success upon completion?

Sometimes, an outside change agent can help facilitate the change, either by bringing a different perspective into the discussion or by providing guidance, support and external resources based on the experiences of others who have already implemented a similar change.

Your situation requires its own specific design that will work in your environment and at this time in the history of your organization.  While there may be similarities between and among different organizations, each has its own peculiarities worth taking into account as you plan and effect the change that will help you reach your goals and determine your success.

As the one who is charged with leading your organization, it is incumbent on you, in concert with your Board, to set the goals as well as to determine what you need to achieve success in reaching those goals.    If your organization is dynamic, change is inevitable.  Therefore, design the change you want and need, monitor it carefully along the way and celebrate your arrival at the end point.
Then decide how soon you need to revisit the plan to evaluate progress.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


This phrase, “less is more” appeared in a love poem (line78) in 1855 by Robert Browning , “Andrea del Sarto” called The Faultless Painter. The phrase was adopted by Mies van der Rohe, an architect whom I studied briefly in an undergraduate course called “The House.”  He, along with a number of others, including Frank Lloyd Wright, were leaders in the minimalist movement that tried to scale things down rather than up, clean lines, good design. 
Since then that phrase “less is more” has been popularized by all kinds of movements and people from philosophers to musicans.  Most notable among these are St. Francis,  Ghandi, Albert Schweizer, Henry David Thoreau, and more recently, E. F. Schumacher in his 1973 work, Small is Beautiful, a study of economics as if people mattered.   Two musicians known for their work in this genre are Steve Reich and John Cage.   There are numerous others from many fields, recently some in the environmental movement.
Living a more simple life has been espoused by various religious and secular groups, including the Quakers. Related notions such as self-sufficiency, reducing conspicuous consumption, sustainability, downsizing, intentional community, and the slow movement are all expressions from those who do not necessarily agree with the economics of a culture where GNP is the measure of success.  There are many people who believe that there are other values that could contribute to a meaningful and productive life so that that we do not base our worth on the market value of goods and services produced in one year.
What if we looked at a quality of life based not on how much we have but how much we can give?   What if the measure of a man or woman at the end of their lives was not how much they had accumulated but how much they had been able to give away?  Simplicity and clarity which lead to good design applies to more than objects. How about designing our lives around simple and clear rather than complicated and cluttered? 
The small house movement has gained in popularity the past few years as more and more people discover how efficient and economical it is to live in fewer square feet.  There is even a small house society whose tag line is “better living through simplicity.”  ( rather than the original, “better living through chemistry.”  (Dupont,, 1935)
You can find many people who live full time on boats of various sizes all over the world and we have met many fellow travelers on the road whose only residence is their RV or recreational vehicle.  These range in size and kind from small to large and ones that you pull behind a truck or that are self propelled by their own engines.  Most are self-contained and are able to provide adequate and comfortable space along with the necessary functions of heat, light, cooking, bathing and even connectivity with the rest of the world.
We took a step in that direction when we sold our house, barn and six acres and  lived for nine months in a home on wheels.  Gypsies, someone said, no house or apartment, just wandering here and there, working and living on the road.  Our theme song was Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”
That is only one illustration that afforded a level of freedom, independence and a significant reduction in possessions, equipment and property that had to be maintained and supported.  More importantly perhaps is asking this question. What would improve the quality of your life that is within your reach?  The answer may or may not have to do with “living space” but chances are at some point you will arrive at a time of transition and then you can design the change and make the choice.
The following questions may help inform your next change.  What is it that you need or want that you do not now have within your reach?  Less work, more time?  Fewer responsibilities, more freedom?  Less expense, more resources?   Form your own question. The answer is yours to pursue and enjoy.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


1.    Keep learning alive – Commit to becoming a life-long learner and whether or not you are an early adopter, consider how the world has changed and you along with it.  If you are not growing and changing you are falling behind because to stand still is to lose ground.  You can participate in learning challenges whether through webinars and courses offered online or actual, real time group learning by topic, subject and issue. Find the fuel for your passion and exercise mind, body and spirit to stay on the growing edge

2.    Step out of your comfort zone – Whether in learning something new, understanding and appreciating the opposing point of view, or becoming more facile with technology, just do it.  Try an area outside of your expertise, something totally different from how you spend the majority of your time.  If you’re an engineer, consider something in the social sciences and if you’re in the world of business, have a look at art and science, unless that is your business.  Venture outside the confines of your profession.

3.    Know yourself to the extent that it is about who you are not being identified by what you do.   Your passion is your work; your job allows you to do your best work.  Ideally, who you are and what you are about will help to define what you do, not the other way around by what you do defining who you are.  Being authentic means that to the degree there is congruence between your ideal and real self will determine your degree of satisfaction with your work. 

4.    Practice this until it is ingrained in the fabric of every day.  “Tell the
truth, be kind and remember to say thank you.”   It is a simple, straightforward reminder and a litmus test to determine if you are on or off course with regard to your moral compass.  How you treat other people will help determine how they will respond to you.  You get what you give and sometimes you receive even more than you offer.  Courtesy is contagious.

5.    Celebrate special days, special seasons and special people.  It is easy to find them, hold them up for recognition and appreciation.  What many people need in families, in the workplace, on the street, is to be recognized and appreciated for who they are and what they do every day.  You can also make note of those special days and seasons in the calendar and use them as an occasion for a gathering and for sharing whether around a table or at an event.  Or treat someone else to an occasion with a surprise, an unsolicited, unexpected gift, regardless of size.

6.    Set realistic goals and empower others to help achieve them.  Success is achieved when people share a common vision, a common purpose and common goals.  There is strength in numbers and Margaret Mead had it right when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world, for it is the only thing that ever has.”

7.    Attend to matters of your spirit, your soul, your psyche and make frequent deposits in your savings account.  If you haven’t needed to draw on those inner resources in a significant way, you will.  Because change is inevitable, and because there will be occasions of unwelcome and uncomfortable change, it’s best to be prepared with the mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with the change.
8.  Consider each new day as a gift, to make of it what you will.                  Neither you nor anyone else has walked in this new day and made any tracks.  The question is what kind of tracks would you like to make today?  How do you want to interact with others?  What will you say and what will you do to make a difference in their work or their lives?
     9.  Design and plan the change you want.  A clear and detailed action plan       provides a strong foundation for moving forward.  A plan can be adapted to changing needs and desires and very often the results are no better than the plan that helped achieve them.  If you are not satisfied with an outcome, go back and look at where you might have gotten off track and recalibrate.  Pay attention to active verbs such as create, collaborate and communicate. 
    10.  Take care of yourself often so you are better able to care for others. Give yourself time to reflect on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and recharge your energy, commitment and resolve.  Rest, breathe and learn from nature by getting closer to those seasons of growth and renewal. One word that sums it up well, recreate!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

JANUARY 2015 (in 55 words)

Another “new” year, one after the other,

Marked by a special moment in time;

Measured in some way, even celebrated.

Once we turned the page on a hanging wall calendar

Or in a day timer, diary or log

Now some digital device gives us day, date and time.

Effortless, without even needing to

Remember anything.