The Games People Play

Games.jpeg

The title sounds ominous, but I mean it differently.


People like to play games–the type you have fun at.  


We learn to play when we are kids. 


We get the attention of our parents and friends–and we have fun just being together, acting silly or even competing with each other. 


Whether it’s over a game of Life, Monopoly, Risk, or Connect Four, or even these days going online with a game of Minecraft or Crush.


Sports is another type of game–great to play and others like to watch and cheer for their favorite teams or athletes. 


This week at work, someone said to come to his meeting because:

“…everyone would have fun.”


Have you ever heard that at work–a fun meeting or for that matter anything being fun in an office setting?


The guy is a genius–people actually showed up in droves at the meeting. 


They had to choose between various meetings going on at that time–and low and behold, people chose this one that was going to be fun!


In the meeting, there was a big bowl of candy and chocolate in the center of the conference table.


And the mood was relaxed as we got down to some business. 


While we did the business, people felt free to be a little silly and laugh with each other too.


The tone had been set for some fun.


The person who hosted the meeting explained that he wanted people to have a good time coming to the meeting (and to work).


He called it “gamification.”


The idea is why not make things into a type of game and have some fun with it instead of everything being so stuck up and nasty all the time. 


Listen, it was still a meeting and work had to get done, but it was nice to see a different lighter perspective put on it. 


People want to enjoy what they do–whether it’s time with their family, friends, or why not even their work.


If we can make more things in life into a game of sorts and put “fun” into the equation of what we do–people smile, laugh, and let down their guards a little. 


Why shouldn’t adult play games and have fun too? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Always An Evil Cersei

GOT.jpeg

So Games of Thrones session 7 was fantastic!


And the evil ruler of Westeros in King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister, never ceases to amaze in her deviousness and wrongdoing. 


There is a great existential threat to the 7 Kingdoms as 100,000 strong army of White Walkers and a zombie dragon (as Air Force) invades from beyond the wall in the far north.


And while Jon Snow (King of the North) and Daenerys Targaryen (Queen heir to the 7 Kingdoms) unites to fight them, Cersei seeks to win it all for herself. 


Cersei gives her word to join them with her armies in the fight against the invaders, but instead she backtracks and plans to conquer them from the south as they faceoff with the enemy to the north. 


This is the classic treachery of getting the upper hand and working to divide and conquer. 


As the Queen of Evil, Cersei will torture and kill anyone in her path to power, even threatening her own brother and incest partner, Ser Jaime, so turning on her competition to the Iron Throne is just a walk in the park for her. 


Unfortunately, this is really a tale of everyday life…where people band together to fight big enemies that threaten us–whether from violence, poverty, or illness–and someone always uses the war of the day as an opportunity to benefit themselves. 


Whether it’s arms trafficking, human smuggling, drug profiteering, intellectual property theft, money laundering or someone else trying to get rich, famous, and powerful by exploiting an opening for themselves, there is always a Cersei! 


Cerseis are people that don’t care about solving large institutional or global problems–but instead are selfish and seek to capitalize on them.


While the White Walkers invade, Cersei is counting bodies of her enemies fending them off, while she seeks to take over once the battlefield is full of everyone else’s corpses. 


Cerseis are people you know at work, school, in the community and in politics…they take when others give, and they don’t give back in return, because they want what everyone else has and works for, and that is how they win the Game of Thrones in everyday life.


How do you stop the Cerseis of the world–anyone got some Dragonglass? 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to HBO via the New York Times)

Killer Organizational Sharks

Cohesion.jpeg

There are sharks out there. 


And it’s not just in the oceans. 


There are plenty in your organizations. 


They make for lots of dysfunction and conflict. 


The organizational sharks see themselves as the bigger and more important fish in the sea. 


They look for weakness in others—they smell blood and when they do, they usually follow it to the kill!


These sharks are the types of people that attack their colleagues when they should be assisting them. 


Not only do they lack respect for others, but instead see them as the enemy and eat them as prey, when instead, they need to be chewing up the outside competition.


It’s an attitude of us versus them misplaced within the organization, rather than external-facing. 


These organizational sharks could be in leadership positions, in which case, their attitudes filter down infecting the rest of their staffs. 


Instead of unity, cohesion, and working together to get the mission and job down, the sharks are selfishly worrying about and working to build their own power base. 


It’s a dysfunctional culture that allows these sharks to exist and swarm in their organizational waters. 


Sharks for some reason fail to see that their boats are hitched to everyone else in the organization, and that all the organizational boats rise together or fill with polluted water and sink to the bottom.


As leaders, we need to focus and agree on supporting each other to achieve the success of all. 


Even sharks should learn to be nice and play together with all the other fish in the organizational sea. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Uber Overconfidence

Uber.jpg

As everyone knows, Uber is essentially–for now–a high-tech taxi company.


And high-tech tends to command high price.


But they are IMHO very overconfident of their position. 


And while I generally like taking Ubers, I would go so far to say that in many respects they are potential dead cab meat!


Why?


– Not because their leadership is in disarray and their founder and CEO was just forced to resign.


– Not because they have a disastrous corporate culture.


– Not because of their uber low or not profitable margins.


– Not because of the threat of autonomous driverless vehicles.


– Not because of the (alleged) stolen documents from Google.


– Not because Uber is (potentially) overvalued at nearly $70 billion (more than GM, Ford, or Honda)!


– Not because of its numerous competitors coming up from behind, including Lyft.


But a major reason is because:


They just gave you a not-so-hidden increase in price by tacking on a new tipping mechanism that will result in many people paying as much as a 20% hike to their overall fares.


Uber is now losing a sizable portion of their price point competitive advantage!


With the risks involved here, who could be so overconfident?

Perhaps, it’s time to take a cab or hovercraft somewhere else. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


(All represents my own opinions)

Forcing Kids Backfires Big Time

Kids

Fascinating article in the Sunday New York Times today on how the stress we are putting on our kids is making them sick. 


With testing of High school students showing incredibly alarming rates of mental illness:


– 54% with moderate to severe depression.


– 80%+ with moderate to severe anxiety.


And 94% of college counseling directors “seeing rising numbers of students with severe psychological problems.”


Even pediatricians are reporting 5-, 6-, and 7-year olds coming in for migraines and ulcers!


Another teacher said with all this, “We’re sitting on a ticking time bomb.”


Under the pressure to get into great schools and get a foot in the door in excellent careers and attain high-paying jobs, we are making our kids work longer school days, do more homework, take more Advanced Placement (AP) exams, participate in numerous extracurricular activities, and achieve, achieve, achieve. 


We’ve taken away normal play time–the fun out of life growing up–and the imagination, exploration, and discovery away from kids just being kids. 


The paradox is that “the pressure cooker is hurting, not helping, our kid’s prospect for success.”


Especially for parents who themselves grew up poor or lacking, maybe they are trying to do the “right thing”and give their kids more than they had and a “better life.”


But maybe even the best intentions to mold children to be what we want them to be, or think they should or could be, is misplaced.

 

If only we could all take a little (or BIG) chill pill…you can’t force success–with forcing you get the opposite results.


Back off people–instead of pushing and endless disciplining–how about we listen to the children, guide them, show unconditional love, and be excellent examples–show them integrity, a strong work ethic, along with an appreciation for work-life balance, then perhaps we will get not only the success of the next generation that we all need, but also happier, better adjusted, and healthier children. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Requirements, I Don’t Know

Requirements Management

This was a funny cartoon. 


Who are we?  


Clients!


What do we want?


We don’t know!


When do we want it?


Now!


This is like way to many IT projects…


The customer knows they need to do something, because of changing market conditions, internal (dys)functioning, arising competition, or external mandates and regulations. 


But when the IT project managers and business analysts interview and ask the customer what they want and need to address these…quite often they get blank faces and hands raised in circuitous, endless doubt. 


What do the customers really want?


For IT to define, solve, and make their problems go away–and by the way do it yesterday and without any extra / proportionate resources


For some IT “professionals” that may be a little lacking themselves, you end up getting half-assed solutions to half-baked requirements that accomplish nothing or perhaps even break things more.


Hence, the true miracle of technology–to read minds and deliver valuable solutions to problems that no one could fully define to begin with! 😉


(Source Cartoon: Roz Blumenthal @ Facebook)

Everyday, A Catch-22

Catch-22
I took this photo of this guys’ cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 



Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.



Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.



In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 



Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can’t unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can’t look for them.



In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22’s, however not solving them is not an option…we must come up with a workable solution.



At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 



At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 



With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 



With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren’t just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 



The list of life’s conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face…there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard…you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We Didn’t Make History

Space
A sincere congratulations to the European Union for the epic landing of a probe from the Rosetta spacecraft–the first such landing on a comet.


They did this with a landing area of just 550 yards in diameter and away from deep crevices, large boulders, and sharp peaks–it is amazing!



Their European space scientists are exclaiming and rightfully so, “We made history today.”



The problem for us is that we–the U.S.of A.–didn’t!



Yes, we landed the first man on the moon in 1969 and we haven’t done it again since 1972.



I remember in grade school, with great pride and wonder, watching the first space shuttle taking flight–that was in 1981.



Since then, we had the horrific Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (2003), followed by the retirement of the shuttles altogether (2011).



Now, we rely on Russian rockets to bring supplies to the International Space Station and for our military and national security satellites.



Then, just a few weeks ago, we had the explosion of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo (2014) that is said to have been plagued with problems from inadequate rocket thrust, flight control system issues, and deficiencies in basic structural integrity. 



In the meantime, the Indians have made it to Mars on a dime. 



Where are we as a nation looking to advance into space–where resources and our very survival may someday soon depend?



Just think where those multi trillions of dollars spent (some would say squandered) in Iraq and Afghanistan (now being overrun by ISIS or threatened by the Taliban) as well as for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (uh, what did we really accomplish for all that money spent?).


Where we once led, and as children we stood in awe, now we stand in bewilderment and leave our children marveling at the victories and accomplishments of others. 



We can not/must not become complacent or stop investing strategically in our future–we need to act with urgency and commitment again for our nation to succeed.



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)