Best Of The Best

 

USA

We all know how important voting is so that our voices are heard in the democratic process and we can help shape the direction of this great nation. 

And this is especially the case when it comes to voting for the next President and Commander in Chief of this country. 

A couple of  concerning things though about this election cycle that I am noticing:

People Not Policy – While elections in general always have their share of rambunctious slogans and exaggerated/empty promises, this election seems to be shaping up with a distinct focus on the people running for President (are they trustworthy, do they have good judgement, how much experience do they have, are they decent people) as opposed to what policies and ideas they have for where they would take the country. Certainly, character and integrity are critical in voting for someone for such an important position, but it seems to have sidelined policy from off of the main agenda. Moreover, the inclination to vote for someone based on their race or gender or presumed sympathy towards those also has upended real discussion on where we are and should be headed. Maybe you really like your candidate of choice, but are you fully satisfied (or close to it) that they have a big picture vision for our future and that they telling it like it is or are they sugarcoating to what they think their audience simply wants to hear, or in some cases is it just limited to a single policy thread or maybe little or no cloth for the emperor at all. 

Questioning The Lineup – First it seemed with the election that people did what they always do, which is take sides and argue it out on the sidelines of the cacophony of all the electioneering. People would say, oh, I like this party and this candidate or that one or the other one–and people would debate who is the better choice. But now, this dialogue seems to have changed where many voters seem fed up with many (or even perhaps all) of the candidates. Some seem to be looking for new candidates to magically swoop in and “save the (election) day” or old candidates to show that they have different stripes. I have heard some question whether they will even bother to vote at all like this with all the negative campaigning or from whom they believe will be the ultimate candidates to chose from. Rather than people saying I like this one better for this reason, now I hear many asking which is “the lessor of the (presumed) evils.”

Considering the unbelievable power of the President of the U.S. and that we are talking about this for the next 4 or 8 years, it is scary for people to think they may have to somehow settle for less than the greatness that this position demands.

There are still many more months in this election season and things can take a lot of twists and turns, but hopefully the country will work its way to selecting the true best of the best that our candidates have to offer. 😉

(Note: This is not an endorsement for any candidate or political party.) 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to cgc76)

Enterprise Architecture – Make The Leap

Enterprise Architecture

Another good depiction of enterprise architecture.


What we are, the divide, and what we want to be.


We have to make the leap, but only with good planning and decision-making governance. 


Otherwise, it’s a long fall down the project failure abyss. 


Faith is always important, but so it doing your credible part. 😉


(Source Photo: Via Instagram)

Politics Has Us Lost

Curve.jpeg

So we’ve become a nation that only seems to be moving, but yet is heading nowhere fast.  


Shock and awe and “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”


Think about it!


Where are we going?


– Are we growing, innovating, leading. 


– Are we spreading our ideals of freedom, human rights, and democracy.


– Are we a nation the defends those in need and is a refuge for those under duress.


– Are we a country that is safe and secure from threats external and internal. 


– Are we united and heading in a clear direction with a strategy and making incremental steps towards our goals.


– Where are we on critical programs for the future from genuinely protecting our environment with binding agreements to investments in our space program to discover, travel, and build our destiny beyond just here. 


– Do we have the love and respect of our friends and the fear of those that are against our way of life.


– Are the decisions that are being made bringing together those from across the political aisle and are they particularly fruitful in terms of making a real difference in people’s lives or in our future.


– Why is the system so broken and we don’t even hear any real ideas anymore about how to fix it.


– Why do we hear about Obamacare, trade deals, deals with Iran, deals over global warming, deals over Syria, budget deals, yet don’t see or feel any tangible differences in our lives–or feel any passion from those making the decisions.


– Where is the grand vision to really put a man on Mars, solve poverty, or cure cancer.


– Why is Russia grabbing what they want with Crimea, planning a permanent station on the moon, and creating air and naval bases in Syria and we can’t even train some rebels to fight.


– Why are we afraid to call radical Islamic terrorism what it is and to fight them over there before they come over here.


– Why do we bounce back and forth unable to overcome basic problems like with our flailing education system first centralizing federally with “No Child Left Behind” and then decentralizing to the States with “Every Student Succeeds.”


– Why do we reign in the budget one year with Sequestration only to expand the budget with unpaid tax cuts the next.


– Why do we call for a strong military and then cut their budget and undercut their mandate to get their job done. 


– Why do we stress the importance of cybersecurity, but then lose the security clearances and personnel information of the entire federal, intelligence, and military workforce.


– Why do we let in terrorists and criminals to our country and are then surprised when they commit violent acts against our people. 


– Why do we hurt allies and embrace enemies.


– Why do we stymie debate and opposition disrespecting others, calling them horrible names, threatening them, and working to destroy them instead of embracing healthy debate and compromise. 


– Why do we claim transparency, but then hide behind obscurity. 


This could be the list that never ends, which goes on and on my friends, some rationale people started asking common sense questions, not knowing how broken this system was, and they’ll just keep questioning it forever just because…it makes no sense. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Measured {Leadership + Management} + Staff = Success!

Tug Of War

So I heard from a colleague this week an argument about:


Too much leadership dilutes good management. 


AND [similarly]


Too much management dilutes good leadership.


What is this a tug of war (without the showy skirts please!)?


Or 


Can you ever have too much of a good thing? 


Typically, leaders provide the vision and managers the execution.


I don’t see how it is really possible to have one without the other and have anything useful at the end of the day.


A vision without delivered execution is just another big idea.


And


Execution without a meaningful vision is just chasing your tail.


Too much leadership with grandiose vision after vision overwhelms the ability to manage a successful execution.


Too much management of the devils-in-the-details and even the best leadership vision isn’t going to see the light of day.


So the conclusion:


Great leaders need to set the goal posts high but doable and then get out of the way so that talented managers can make sure to get the job done and done right.


And don’t forget that it’s a diverse and skilled staff that actually does the heavy lifting and need to be respected and appreciated.


Tug of war over! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jamie McCaffrey)

Reach Out To Lead

Shake On It
The New York Times today had an editorial called “Our Unrealistic Hopes for Presidents.”



In this piece, Brendan Nyhan lowers the bar on all leadership, and most importantly on the President of the United States. 



He advocates for us to “give up on the idea of a leader who will magically bring consensus and unity to our politics.”



While I agree that there is no “magic” in leadership or politics, it is precisely a leader’s job to see to the vetting of ideas, compromise and consensus, and a way forward for the people, organization, and/or nation.



The leader, especially the president, establishes the vision, motivates and inspires, so that we are elevated from being focused on our own selfish motives  to being “One nation under G-d with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)



Or as JFK stated:



“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This is the type of greatness that our leaders can raise us to and it defies race, party, or creed.



Certainly it wasn’t easy for the founding fathers of this nation to come together and write the Constitution and Bill of Rights that is not geared to the right or left, but is just plain brilliant and correct!



Yes, this is precisely what leadership is–not blame, finger pointing, go it alone, or defeatism–and that is why NOT everyone is cut out for the “top job” and why we seek the the 1 in 311 million for the job!



Nyhan writes “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived.”



In plain English…this is called broken promises and failed leadership!



A leader, absolutely, must bridge the divide, create an overall unity, a sense of purpose, bring the commitment of the hearts and minds–whether to feed the hungry, land a man on the moon, or win the war whether against fascism or terrorism.



Nyhan states disparagingly about us that “The public and the news media still want someone…a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support”—Uh YES, how else will we ever get anything big and meaningful really done?



He tells us to “stop asking who can achieve the unity,” that times have changed, and that instead we should accept the “norm of polarization,” conflict, and disharmony in our nation. 



Sure, there are times of urgency and crisis, when a leader must decide and act in lifesaving haste; however, in most usual cases, decisions and actions can come about by joining together rather than tearing asunder. 



No, we should never stop demanding great leadership–those who can overcome both the petty divides as well as the more substantial differences, to see through to a greater good, common purpose, and a better future for us all. 



We can’t do this as Nyhan proposes by giving up on working together, and trying to go it along, without anyone who thinks differently than us, and “govern well without their support.” 



In corporate America or politics, leadership by decree is known as dictatorship, and that is not what this democracy or for that matter real success is about. 



Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, we need to demand leadership that explains their point of view, listens to other perspectives, and is able to form compromise and win-win scenarios.



When one side feels ignored or that they’ve been worked around instead of with, then the result is sure to be bitterness and prolonged fighting to overturn the “my way or the highway” decision or to poke the other side right back in the eye when they have the chance. 



We don’t need excuses, but strong leaders who know how to “work the room” or “reach across the aisle”– to bring facts to the table, and sentiment to touch people’s hearts, to give clear vision to help us see “the bigger picture” of what can be done, if we only can act deliberately as one.



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niels Linneberg)

Technology Heals

Technology Heals

My wife took this photo today at The Drupal for Government Conference at NIH.

The man in the photo was not only participating in the conference, but also taking notes on his Apple Macbook Air.

It is incredible how technology is helping us do our jobs and be ever more productive.

This is the vision of technology taking us beyond the natural limits we all have and face.

I remember a few years ago when I was in the hospital for something and feeling bad about myself, and my wife brought me a laptop and said “Write!”–it was liberating and I believe helped me heal and recuperate.

I wonder if hospitals in the future will regularly provide computers and access to patients to not only keep them connected with their loved ones, but also let them have more options for entertainment, creativity, and even productivity, to the extent they can, while getting well.

Kudos to this gentleman–he is truly a role model and inspiration for us all.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Uh-Oh Trouble

Uh-Oh Trouble

So I’m “middle age”…and all of a sudden the last few months I am having trouble reading.

I haven’t worn glasses for over 14 years–since I had the Lasik procedure done.

Now, at the optometrist, he tells me, “Oh everyone ends up getting glasses whether you had Lasik or not.”

He says: “Usually, people need reading glasses starting between the ages of 42-45.”

Crud…back to those darn things again.

I remember in 1999 when I had Lasik, it was still a pretty new procedure, but my best friend and his wife had just gotten it and convinced me to go for it too.

Well, it wasn’t what I expected and when they clamped my eye open and the doctor tells me to stare at a the little red light as the laser comes up to my eye…I was thinking to myself…this is NUTS!

But it actually went from bad to worse.

As the doctor starts working on the first eye, all of a sudden, he goes, “Uh-oh!”

What type of doctor is this that says oh-uh, and what in G-d’s name did he do to me.

Well, he composes himself after pulling away and finishes, but then stops and says he’ll talk to me afterwards.

As it turns out, as he pulled on the eye, something called the epithelium, a piece suddenly flaked off the eye.

Nothing seriously actually happened–no ill sides effects, but those 2 words while under the laser, “Uh-oh,” really sent the shivers up my spine.

Let’s just say, while I am glad I didn’t have to wear glasses these last 14 years, the experience was a little traumatic.

I remember one other time in my life–when I experienced the Uh-oh moment–this time, I was actually the one uttering the Uh-oh.

It was right after I got married, and we had this cool idea that I would give my wife a haircut.

So, I start cutting and I’m thinking hey, this isn’t so hard…and it’s fun…and we also get to save money (hey, we were just starting out in life).

Then, I keep cutting and cutting not realizing how much I was taking off…at one point, my wife starts getting antsy and she says, “So how’s it going (knowing that something wasn’t right)?”

Then it hits me, I suddenly blurt out the big “Uh-oh!

My wife goes, “What did you do?”

Of course, I started to worry and couldn’t get myself to really say and instead I just start cracking up.

Then she knew I had really messed up…and boy was I in trouble then.

Uh-oh is a phase you never want to hear or say…it means trouble has arrived. 😉

Have You Been Voluntold?

Have You Been Voluntold?

Voluntold, it’s a funny word.

A combination of volunteer and told, to do something.

I couldn’t believe that this word is actually in the dictionary and means:

“When one has been volunteered for something by another person. Often against their wishes and desires.” (Reference: Unwords)

“The exact opposite of volunteering. Always used in reference to an unpleasant task to which you have been assigned by your boss.”(Reference: Urban Dictionary)

I’ve seen this used when the boss asks for volunteers for a task or special project. If no one volunteers, then the boss volunteers someone–telling them to do it. They have been voluntold!

One time, I remember a very tense meeting where a boss was presenting his vision for the organization, but at the same time putting down the status quo and everyone in it.

As one point, he asks for a volunteer to help with driving his vision forward (note: no one had bought into it), and no one volunteers.

The boss ask for a volunteer once, twice, and three times at the meeting as the tension rises.

Finally, a hand goes up and someone accepts the task.

He is the bosses new favorite and is told publicly at the meeting that he will be rewarded for “stepping up.”

The truth is he didn’t really step up, but rather succumbed to the pressure to do it.

Another victim of being voluntold.

In the end, he really didn’t perform much of what he volunteered for–not a surprise, since he never bought into it to begin with.

Sometimes, we do have to ask people to do things, but it shouldn’t be by force or undue pressure.

A leader builds his vision with his team–not for his team–and they move forward together to achieve their unified goals and objectives.

Telling someone to do something, and pretending that they are really volunteering fools no one and achieves nothing accept maybe calling out some pretend accomplishments to go with the pretend volunteers. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Andrew Huff)

Charting Your Course

Charting Your Course

New article here by Andy Blumenthal in Public CIO Magazine called “Using Enterprise and Personal Architecture To Chart Your Course.”

“As a leader, one of your primary jobs is to bring a coherent, rousing vision and strategy to the organization and execute it to keep the organization relevant — that is enterprise architecture.”

Hope you enjoy!

Andy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)