Choosing to Lead Well

Viktor Frankl, in his classic book, Man's Search for Meaning, said, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

I've been reflecting on this, particularly from a leadership perspective.  The issue is that we need to project an attitude of hope and encouragement despite how we perceive our own feelings to be.  In order to help visualize this, I mapped out the following diagram:

A leader is most helpful when they project rational optimism. Interestingly, this is often reinforced by a deeper sense of purpose and a productive faith-based worldview.  Some may feel that faith is a delusion and this is irrational, but I am convinced from experience and research that a healthy faith life is constructive towards maintaining a positive outlook.  In this space, we can also find positive authenticity, a key to building trust, particularly in an a…

Why Are Questions So Powerful?

I've been blessed with a curious mind.

I ask myself a lot of questions. Things like, "Why is life so wonderfully mysterious and why am I growing less and less tolerant of simple, pat answers?" Over the years, inquisitiveness has led me to new perspectives, meaningful relationships, and creative inspiration. So much so, that I'm becoming convinced that asking more and better questions may be the most important skill we need to develop.

Recently, I ran across an idea. The premise was this; instead of making a New Year's resolution, why not come up with a meaningful New Year's question? This led me to some interesting resources, including the book, "A More Beautiful Question", by Warren Berger. Warren eloquently explores the power of questions, and why questions trump answers. He points out how four-year-olds ask an average of 390 questions a day, and how we systematically (and quickly) lose that skill as we age. The book is full of poignant examples …

Play It Forward

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

It's always very entertaining watching kittens wrestle and pounce. Although this rough-handling looks like all fun and games, these little rascals are learning something very important. The game is developing critical skills that will turn them into proficient future hunters.

In the same way, games have had a prominent role in our family. We all enjoy the thrill of a strategic board game, such as "Settlers of Catan". The combination of using critical thinking skills, intense social interaction, and strategic forethought is deeply engaging. And it's no surprise that these skills have proven to be directly transferable for success in a variety of educational contexts and business accomplishments.

Recognizing these principles, I was thrilled to read the new book by the folks at Xplane.  This resource, titled "Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers" is a comprehensive collection o…

Superstar Productivity in the Cloud

I've been a Getting Things Done© disciple for a few years. Over that time I learned a couple of secrets to leverage David Allen's principles in my day to day work environment:
Work context is everything - physical context is becoming less importantKeep it simple - use the parts that make sense for youWork Context I spend 80% of my day online.  Either on my computer, or my Android phone.  A large portion of that time is spent communicating with people ... and Gmail does most of the heavy lifting.  Since this is where I work from, this is where my GTD experiments were honed.  If you have a similar work profile, perhaps you'll find something useful in my experience.

Getting Organized
1. Collection
The Gmail Inbox is a natural collector.  Don't fight it ... feed it! Stuff all ideas, tasks and loose ends into your inbox.  How?  Simply email yourself. I've added a little twist to boost this process.  First, I added a contact with the email address of…

All the World's a Stage

This famous quote from Shakespeare has probably never been more apropos than in this age of emerging social media. I could not resist sharing this fascinating and profound presentation by Michael Wesch, the Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. Michael was also the author of the famous viral video, Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us.

The video below is compiled around Michael's recent talk at the Library of Congress. It's an entertaining and touching journey through the history of social media and how these changes impact our behaviour and develop new cultural norms. The presentation is a little lengthy, but definitely worth the watch!

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
William Shakespeare - As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

The Company with an Agile Core

I keep tripping over a fascinating company with an intriguing set of values, processes and services. They are committed to community, to making the world a better place, to taking innovation to a new level, and at the same time are commercially very successful. And no, I don't work for them... yet. What's the big deal? CRM as a service, so what? Sourceforge has taken the "R" in CRM seriously, and have nurtured a core competence that's sure to keep them in the lead. We're already seeing these dynamics in play in their ongoing dance with Google. It's refreshing when companies actually do what they believe in. It provides a fundamental driving force that accelerates their success... inspiration.

They Care

The Salesforce Foundation was set up within a year of the start of the company. The "Power of Us" philosophy is a core value of the company: giving back to the community. 1% of employee time is allocated towards community pr…

Taking Teamwork beyond the Boundaries

Agile development experience has demonstrated how practical conditions and simple processes foster highly-performant teams that produce sustainable results.

A Small-World View

Here are some of the "rules-of-thumb" that contribute to success:
A small number of people, no more than can be fed by two pizzasEveryone in the same room with no walls and barriersLots of collaborative tools, include shared computers, full wall visuals, and whiteboardsOptimal mutual availability and accountabilityFull awareness of roles and capabilitiesEasily communicate with all membersMaximum opportunity for serendipity and knowledge sharingEveryone focused on a single well understood projectNo personnel turnoverBeyond the Ideal

Of course, we all would love to have the conditions that accelerate effective teamwork as described above. The reality is that people are constantly moving, often collaborating across corporate and geographic boundaries, and working on a variety of projects in very complex doma…