The Dumbest Parent, No Really

So we took our daughter out to shoot some arrows.

She was really good, shooting off one after another and hitting the bullseye way down field.

Of course, when I gave it a try, I couldn’t even hit the side of a barn.
Next to us, at the range, where two girls and their mother.

The girls were jumping around with their bows, grabbing the arrows, and popping off shots at a target set at a distance appropriate for their age.

What comes next is the dumbest and most irresponsible parent I’ve seen for some time.

The mother yells out to the girls–“Hey, I’d like to take a picture of you guys!”

Then she goes over to them and pulls them off the range and faces them at each other about a foot apart–with their bows and arrows pointed at each other!

The girls not understanding the danger they are in and playing around as kids do–pull the strings on the bows back to pose for the shot–literally, and with the mother egging them on.

I am feeling like I am watching a horrible accident about to unfold in front of my eyes.

I say politely, but with obvious fear and concern, “Stop!–the girls are pointing the arrows at each other–that’s dangerous!”

But the mother, puts her finger up as if to hush me, and says emphatically that she just wants to take a picture and “it’s so cute.”

I am watching what appears to be the younger of the girls–the one on the right–start dancing around with the bow and arrow, pulling back and pointing right at the other girl–who in turn mimics her and does the same back.

At this point my wife joins me, and we are not sure how to stop this or whether its time to take cover, while the mother continues to ignore any semblance of safety and refuses to pull back from her cherished photo op of the children.

This mother was not just dumb, but completely irresponsible–for the safety of her kids and everyone else around on the court.

When the “photo shoot” was over–and the kids let the strings go and ran back to the range, we sighed a sigh of relief that nothing worse had happened.

A number of days later, I found myself doing some strategic planning and using the Force Field Analysis tool.

In the Force Field Analysis, we try to identify and examine the driving and limiting forces for and against change, and more importantly the actions we can take for influencing each force.

Usually, we view the forces for change as something positive, and the limiting forces as a hinderance, blocking our goal achievement. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that while change can be positive when undertaken for the right reasons, there are times when restraint is necessary as well.

For example, in applying this to the situation at the archery range–the parent is hell-bent on taking the photo no matter the forces for restraint to prevent a serious accident happening to her kids or to others around them. In this case, some parental restraint would have been appropriate. From an influencing perspective, probably some much better supervision at the range would have been in order.

To me, it was interesting to think about it in this context and contemplate how to tip the forces for change or restraint to where they need to be depending on the situation–whether it is a good goal and a good time to pursue it, or not.

Also, it is worth noting how challenging it can be to influence driving and restraining forces, especially when dealing with ignorance, foolhardiness, or people who may just refuse to listen to reason.

As leaders, the Force Field Analysis can be a useful framework not just for planning, but for trying to understand our environment and how best we can shape the events around us–no matter how quickly or dangerously they may unfold.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We Are Driven!

Riots

We are driven to do what?

Some of us to succeed and others, seemingly, to various destructive behaviors that thwart our success.

In the book, The Charge, by Brendon Burchard, he argues that we need to harness our drives to increase our success rate.

Burchard categorizes our drives into baseline and forward drives–and has 10 of them–almost like the Ten Commandments (Cs)–five in each area (or on each tablet).

Baseline drives are those which he says make us happy:
– Control
– Competence
– Congruence
– Caring
– Connection

Forward drives are those which help us evolve:
– Change
– Challenge
– Creative Expression
– Contribution
– Consciousness

Wonderful–10 C’s, all nicely packaged.

While I generally agree with these human drives, something is not satisfying about these–they seem academic, stale, and the fodder of a marketing brochure.

Where is the energy of humans to live, love, and laugh?

Where is the longing for spirituality, purpose, and meaning?

Where is the drive to do good and occasionally, to do what we know is wrong.

Where are the vices–the drives to conquer, to own and to hoard, to go crazy at times,?

Burchard has provided a very one-sided picture of human nature–maybe the side, we would rather acknowledge and focus on, but in ignoring human frailties and tendencies to veer off to the other extremes as well, he is missing an important point–and that is the human nature is a fundamental push and pull.

Yes, we are driven to happiness and evolution, and on one hand these drives manifest in the rosier side of human nature such as care and contribution, but on the other side, people drives to happiness and evolution may mean their taking what they want, when and how they want it, and to the exclusion of others who are competing with them in a world of limited resources.

It is nicer and easier to envision a world, like the Garden of Eden, where there is plenty for the few, and everything is provided and just a pull from the fruit tree away.

But in the real world, it is wiser to recognize that our happiness and evolution may mean someone else goes hungry tonight–sad, but true; and only when we are real, can we work to overcome this and to provide plenty for all–through safeguarding of basic freedoms and human rights for everyone.

Happiness and evolution can be different for the individual and society–for the individual, one’s gain may come at another loses (e.g. the stock market, competing for a spot in top-tier school, or beating out the competition for that plume Wall Street job), but for society, success means creating win-win situations where everyone can go to bed with a full stomach and knowing that they have a fair shot at opportunity tomorrow.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Beacon Radio)

Which Five Do You Keep?

So my father used to teach me that the Ten Commandments were divided with the first five being between man and G-d (e.g. “thou shalt not take the name of the L-rd, thy G-d, in vain”) and the second five being between man and man (e.g. “thou shalt not Kill”).

Note: The fifth one of “Honor they mother and father” is viewed as between man and G-d, since we honor our parents as partners with G-d in our creation and upbringing.

My father said well that some people keep the first five and some the second, but very few keep both sets.

I am aware of many examples of this from the “religious” Rabbis and Priests who sickeningly molest children to “unreligious” people who give charitably and do good deeds to others in countless of ways.

I do not know why most people cannot be both faithful to G-d and good to other people–are these somehow mutually exclusive in people’s minds? Is it somehow blasphemous to both worship G-d and genuinely respect and care for our fellow humans?

Perhaps, some think that if they are close to G-d, then other people are sort of besides the point, while others believe that if they act kindly to their fellow “man”, then they will be considered righteous in G-d’s eyes anyway.

The funny thing is that both–the ones that follow the laws having to do with G-d and those having to do with other people–seem to think that they are the “truly” righteous ones.

Today, I saw a an event that reminded me of this whole lesson and spiritual question, as follows:

A car pulls up in front of the house of worship and in the driving lane, just stops and double parks, even though, right there–and even closer yet to the house of worship–is an empty oversized space to just pull into.

The driver gets out and his wife gets out on the other side.

The car behind him beeps to let them know they are waiting to pass.

The man throws his hand up in a gesture of “too bad” and proceeds to escort his wife into the house of worship–all the while leaving his car blocking the driveway and the car behind him.

After about 5 minutes, the first driver finally comes back to move his car.

The second driver–of the car that has been waiting–goes up to driver of the first car and asks why he just left his car in the driving lane and didn’t even bother to pull over.

The first driver says that his wife can’t walk well and he wanted to escort her into the house of worship, and so the other car could wait until he returned.

The second driver is startled by this and says “but you saw I was behind you waiting and wanted to get in with my family to pray as well–why couldn’t you either circle back around or pull into the empty spot right there at the entrance?”

The first driver says, “well, you were the only other car behind me.”

By this time the second driver is clearly annoyed and says, “but I am a human being too!”

He continues clearly amazed at the callousness of the first and says, “how is it that you go to the house of worship, but you don’t care about another human being–how can you be so selfish?

The first driver raises his hand and flips it again indicating that he just didn’t care –going full circle to how this event began when he first stopped his car–and then he simply says as a matter of fact and sort of sarcastically “good day” and just walks away.

What an encounter with the first driver on his way to worship G-d, yet completely callous to his fellow human being waiting to do the same–he was following the first five commandments, but brushing aside the second five.

I wish for the day that people could embrace both sets of commandments! So that faith and decency could coexist, rather than battle in the hearts and soul of humans.

What a better world it could be…

(Source photo: here)

>Microsoft Crashes and Enterprise Architecture

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The Wall Street Journal, 31 October 2007 states that “the error-reporting service built into the Windows operating system is a massive global network for speaking truth to power.” When a Windows program crashes, you get the pop-up offering to “tell Microsoft about this problem.”

On busy days, “50 gigabytes of data from these error reports stream into Microsoft… [where] two dozen programmers are charged with monitoring them.”

Microsoft won’t tell you which of their programs crash the most, although Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer seem likely bets, while at the other extreme, Word and Excel “seem like Gibraltar.”

A Microsoft article, “Crash Protect Your PC Now!” (article id 835565) states:

“You’ve probably been there. You’re happily working away in Windows when suddenly everything freezes for no apparent reason. Maybe you’ve pressed [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Delete] and managed to end the troublesome task and get on with things, but even if your machine hasn’t locked solid you’ve still lost at best a few minutes’ work, and at worst an entire document. We hate to tell you this, but the problem isn’t necessarily one with your PC either – many crashes are caused by poor use of your computer’s resources, or too many program installations that took place while you left half-a-dozen other programs running in the background.”

Some reasons Microsoft gives for the system crashes:

  • Faulty hardware (sort of figures Microsoft would say that and say it first)
  • BIOS updates— “hardware problems can be solved by BIOS updates. This is because of the specification that all hardware is built to is open to some interpretation.”
  • Driver updates— “if you’re being plagued by crashes and you haven’t updated your drivers for a while, this could well be the solution – 40 per cent of crashes are caused by poor drivers. Of course, if your machine is fine at the moment, updating the drivers may actually introduce problems, or fix one problem and introduce another.”
  • Software problems— “the other reason your machine will crash, and this is definitely the most likely cause, is due to software…. There are two main reasons that software can crash – either it can’t gain access to a resource that it needs (such as memory), or it contains a bug… One of the main reasons a program crashes is because it can’t obtain enough memory from the OS to complete an operation….Another reason programs are prone to tripping up on the memory front is that the memory becomes fragmented the longer you leave your machine on.

What does Microsoft tell you to do?

Prepare! “Prepare yourself for crashes by saving regularly and often, and to keep the amount of programs running to a minimum.”

What does User-centric EA tell us to do?

I love Microsoft, but maybe it’s time to consider having the IT Investment Review Board let Microsoft know what they think about all the system crashes by voting with the organization’s wallet and spending project dollars on alternatives that offer application stability and reliability. 50 gigabytes of streaming data reports on a busy day is just about 50 gigabytes too much!