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Leadership topic - observe

and rapidly respond to critical opportunities. Evaluate all problems and solutions from different angles, involve stakeholders in solution formation, and experiments with a pilot before taking a project to the next level;  looks beyond the obvious and doesn’t stop at the first answers;  sought out by others for advice and solutions.

Roadblock –  Is not open to criticism;  gets upset and blames others for problems; Picks a side versus finding a path to the middle

observe the Power of Power

observe the Power of Power

“Who the ___ are you anyway?” was the exasperated shout from the senior Engineer and IBM Fellow from our Austin facility. With the precision of my national debating days, I had just reduced his arguments against what our small (but growing team) was doing into shreds and now I had him calling me names. Perfect. Victory. The facility manager who had brought all of his Power to this meeting had to step in and calm the waters. “I will take your ideas back for consideration and we will be back in touch.” And with that, we observed his team gather their things and leave…

Clever observation

Clever observation

August 18, 1981 would change the world – the day the IBM PC was announced. Built by a small, Clever team at their Lab in Boca Raton where Dad had worked when I was in junior high, the impact on all of us is still profound. For me specifically, I had grown up around microcomputers, having built one around the previous version of the Intel processor, and had been observing since then what would be coming. As I came home excited and talked about the new computer that we would get at home, my wife observed, “Does this mean we are getting a raised floor?”

observing Right Effectively

observing Right Effectively

As we were chatting before dinner in the large ballroom, I was surrounded by the “royalty” of the Radiation Effect community. Admittedly a little off the main road of the IEEE, it was nonetheless THE place to meet, greet, and talk with everyone who knew anything about Radiation effects. The decor had some eggs on the buffet bar as a garnish – and you would assume they would be hard-boiled. Our Principal Investigator, a jokester, picked one up and cracked it on the man standing next to me… where it exploded all over his bald head…

Diverse observation

Diverse observation

From my days in Debate, I observed that you could follow links between documents. Remember this is LONG before hypertext and the web, but at the end of papers are the references. You start to see the same papers referenced many times, and you find there are typically only 10 real papers you need to understand. Here I found a couple on a model of what happens in space, a couple about measuring devices in a cyclotron, and a couple about an experiment that actually flew in space. And I observed that none of them had worked together…

Knowledge that observing is not enough

Knowledge that observing is not enough

Working full time, and carrying a full load, I still had some energy left for other things. My interest in politics had burned out by the end of high school, but this evening, I was sitting in a meeting of the Leadership Council for the Engineering School observing the President. Being a lifelong student of great salespeople, this guy was amazing. And so full of himself at the same time. But for some reason, he came over after the meeting, and we started talking, and the next thing I know, I was the Parliamentarian for the group (given my Debate experience) … and next in line to be President…

Vision that renews

Vision that renews

Standing in the middle of the SMU Basketball court at barely 17, I was surrounded by tables labeled “Dedman College”, “Fondren”, and “Cox” which at least had “School of Business” in the name. It was the last day for “Registration” and I had a deck of computer cards, which at least I was very familiar with – what to DO with them, I was not. I had the college catalog that showed what a “Freshman Engineer” should take… but how did I get that to happen?

executing Vision

executing Vision

I wasn’t Valedictorian… because of my mouth. I called a teacher Stupid – and let me plead my case… no don’t. I earned an “Unsatisfactory” in conduct, and my father got me out of being suspended, but nonetheless, I was barred from his Senior Honors Class. No worries – I had my pick of colleges, although every one of my family went to Texas Tech – including my Grandfather, who taught there. And again if you read these articles often, you know that was out of the question.

wonderful Vision

wonderful Vision

I was the last speaker in the last round of this debate tournament, at least for our team. It was the one tournament I had invited my parents to come and see me perform in my new VIsion: Debate. I had been tearing it up on the trail across Texas, winning many rounds and tournaments, with “hardware” (trophies) becoming a natural thing to bring back home to Tyler late almost every Saturday night.  This was not that wonderful experience.

Visions observed are Visions…

Visions observed are Visions…

“He will make a fine judge”. I was probably 2 years old, and old wise woman from West Texas had pronounced this after feeling the lumps on my head – and there are plenty you can see these days without hair. 😉 That simple sentence put me on the path to learning what to do with the deep bass voice I had at 14 in the body of a 4’10” pre-teen still in boy’s shirts. I stepped up to deliver my first speech…

partners in your Vision

partners in your Vision

“You could come back with me!” the young 14-year-old “Tom Hanks” exclaimed towards the end of Big.  Having found that his child-like spirit was a major gift in business, he missed his friends and partners… and being able to really be a kid.  The response from his ‘girlfriend’ is timeless: “No, one time being in junior high is plenty”.  And I am eternally grateful that the actual movies of my era are on media that are very hard for anyone to find and post anywhere…

managing the Vision of MLK

managing the Vision of MLK

“The bullet stopped just half-an-inch before the backbone, and if it had stopped a half-an-inch earlier, it would have lodged in a major artery. Either way, this dog is lucky to be alive”… and with that, the lights went out. I awakened a few minutes later in another room on a soft couch with a cold rag on my forehead… I had no idea how I managed to get there…

What Vision engaged MLK?

What Vision engaged MLK?

Standing in front of my 4th-grade class, I was wearing what we now would romantically call a Toga. It was more like a big white sheet wrapped around my small body which was not much to look at. And, I was stammering as I tried my best to engage in showing how a similarly clad frail man changed the world with his demonstration of non-violence in a far-off country – India. Now both are common knowledge, but in Dallas, in the 1960s it was very different than others had dressed up as their “role model”.

Focus and observe Radical Collaboration with PERFECT

Focus and observe Radical Collaboration with PERFECT

“Could you possibly finish a thought?”. If you know mathematics, you would observe my sentences involve a lot of “open parentheses” – the start of something, and then something else, and then something else. Closing parentheses, which allow thoughts to be processed and considered – those are not easy for me to do. What I look for in teams are people who observe that, and “help me” Focus … and be more PERFECT…

observing Goals

observing Goals

“I write down Goals every day in this Planner. Each day I review them… move the ones I didn’t do to tomorrow… and do it again.” I was listening intently to a Darden MBA student who I had already observed was HYPER organized and focused on achieving success. By this point, my own Goal was to be better at observing the “rest signs” in the melody that is “playing out” so I waited. He slid it across the table to me and stated “….. I hate that Planner”.

Cleaning Up observation

Cleaning Up observation

“So – he comes in here, throws papers in the air, plays some guitar, and then does it again?” Yes – yes, of course. My nephew was visiting, and his observation was spot on – my office’s normal state is a disaster. My Daughter on seeing my Cleaned Up version one time remarked more politely, “My, there are a LOT of things to observe!”. Up comes easy – Cleaning, not so much…

Belief in observing

Belief in observing

Looking back, it is no wonder I have such different Beliefs. Having moved to Tyler in my teen years, we again found a Church home that had a lot of things going on. The big “downtown” church had a gym/roller rink, a large almost Cathedral building, and a very active Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) group. Mirroring The College Kids we have been discussing, Sunday evenings were started with Vespers, and then dinner and fellowship, with some light lessons to think about. And in the mid 70’s they decided to offer Sex Education – at church…

observing Together

observing Together

Engineers LOVE problems. Nothing can bring us more joy than a big, complicated problem, with lots of loose ends. And, soon you observe that business people do not like problems. Not in the least – not big ones, not small ones, nothing that resembles them. They like things to run smoothly, with smiles all around. And having just come from a season of EVERYTHING was a problem, which even the business people were in agreement with, I was stepping into a completely different world and observed…

observing Courage

observing Courage

It was 5 pm, and we were all lining up to go into the everyday “Evening Status Meeting” on the top floor of Pho IV, the newest building in our complex, and the heart of all of our work. I rarely left the building during the day, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner catered in so we didn’t take time away from the “work”. These meetings were twice a day – morning and evening – but the evenings are always brutal. As the “service” organization, the IT team was brought in nightly to be drawn and quartered by the SVP’s of the business, on “why haven’t you”…

Continuously observing Change…

Continuously observing Change…

God is in fact a comedian. If you don’t believe me, then why would he put me into a “natural” career path where my most Continuously uttered phrase is “Slow Down”? Never a core competency of mine, it is the stance that I try to help others with … as they whiz past something important that they have said, or missed an implication of not observing what they actually know – versus what they want to be true. They are interested in Change – sure – but often miss the signposts on their Journey that make change both possible, and positive…

renewing The Middle

renewing The Middle

In the span of a little over 24 hours we were with friends who have celebrated over 50 years together, and then other friends that were celebrating the marriage of their daughter. The latter was filled with other young people who met at a Christian Camp set in the mountains of Virginia near Roanoke. The outdoor celebration was perfect for any occasion… but particularly perfect in this very strange year.

To execute The Middle

To execute The Middle

Many of you don’t believe all these things happened, and I don’t blame you. Unlike now, you didn’t have a camera in your pocket to record video – but boy if I did… IBM was the Apple of the 80’s – growing faster than the US economy, without rival in the computer business, literally called Goliath.

wondering what is The Middle?

wondering what is The Middle?

The Moody Blues create music you cannot approach casually. Yes, they have amazing – well everything – but it forces me to really think — hard — wonder about things. Even the title of the albums put you in a different place – like today’s – To Our Children’s Children’s, Children. Those don’t exist for me – yet..

How do you observe The Middle?

How do you observe The Middle?

The clearest way to know you are in The Middle is you are taking fire from all “sides”. In politics, another native Texan, Jim Hightower, said it colorfully — “There’s nothing in The Middle of the Road other than Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.”

partners for the The Middle

partners for the The Middle

I became aware of The Middle as a management concept when I was in charge of Product Management — a critical job for any company, but particularly for a software company. The idea that you can build “anything” is mostly true — and only limited by resources — which are mostly time and people. As such, everyone thinks it is easy to do what their own area needs —

managing The Middle…

managing The Middle…

As I turned out of my subdivision this morning, I came face to face with a car that was coming down the hill right at me… and of course, that meant I was coming uphill right at him. Luckily we had a “centerline” and with the road curving, what appeared to be a problem was resolved as we both stayed “on our side”. It occurred to me how much implicit trust is involved in The Middle.

Can we engage The Middle?

Can we engage The Middle?

This was posted on September 21, 2020… the Fall Equinox – the day that we move from summer to fall officially (at least in Astronomy). The sun will be right over the equator at 9:30 am Tuesday EDT, and thus within some tolerance, everyone on the planet has exactly the same amount of light and dark. So at least for one day, we all have about the same – The Middle – 12 hours of each….

Joy observation

Joy observation

It is a convenient coincidence that the “empower” words come in the order they are in.  Yes, it is easier to make the acronym work, but these “middle” words tie together particularly well.  That became clear a year or so back when I was talking with a partner who observed that I had lost my Joy.  At first, I was a little taken aback, but as we talked through the assessment, she was right

Faith observations

Faith observations

Happy April Fools Day!  If there was a holiday that I revere, it would be this one.  As a natural cut-up and jokester, I often circle this day on the calendar for something fun.  This year, it corresponds on the Faith calendar to a day called Maundy Thursday – one that I wasn’t really in tune with, the night of The Last Supper that you probably do know about.  It is now observed as a fairly somber service where the church is stripped of all elements and hung with the darkness that would come with “Good” Friday…