Glimpses of History #6: Migration Into Oceania

Glimpses of History #6: Migration Into Oceania

Oceania is usually considered to include the central and southern Pacific, but excludes the North Pacific and Australia. It consists of three principal areas: Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.

The Pacific Islands were unsettled by any of the early hominid species, but with assistance from ice-age land bridges, modern humans settled the Philippines, Australasia and elsewhere by no later than 40,000 years ago (long after the earliest known boats). Eastern Polynesia may have been settled by South American sailors following the Humboldt Current. Sophisticated agriculture developed to supplement fishing.

Human migrations from Southeast Asia to the South Pacific Islands of Oceania began as early as 40,000 BCE. A concentrated wave of migration about 2000 BCE produced profound environmental changes as humans introduced domesticated animals, depleted species of native fauna, and practiced agriculture resulting in deforestation and erosion. Although subsequent settlements achieved ecological balance, few who saw the region as a paradise in the 1600s realized just how fragile that balance was.

Plaster cast of an Arawi Maori: Migration Into Oceania The thousands of islands and huge ocean gulfs between them meant that settlement was uneven; some—such as Hawaii and Easter Island—remained unsettled until well into the first millennium AD. Isolation helped create significant linguistic diversity; there are not only hundreds of different languages, but several different language families (in civilizations without writing, oral histories were greatly developed). Philologists can chart the linguistic changes, dating the settlement of each island and tracking the rise and fall of loose-knit empires, with religiously potent chieftains and various class systems.

  • A plaster cast of an Arawi Maori shows detailed tribal tattoos—New Zealand was one of the last parts of Oceania to be settled by humans, about 800 years ago.
  • For the European voyagers, who began visiting the South Pacific in larger numbers between 1600 and 1800, many of the Oceania islands assumed mythical status as tropical paradises.
  • Today, few islands are truly remote, peripheral, or insular. Islands certainly do not exist in stasis. It no longer makes sense to distinguish islands and continents or to stereotype them or their inhabitants.
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Zen Koan #35: Parable of Every-Minute Zen – Buddhist Teaching on Compassion

Zen Koan #35: Parable of Every-Minute Zen - Buddhist Teaching on Compassion Meditation gives us the opportunity to have an open, compassionate attentiveness to whatever is going on. The meditative space is like the big sky— spacious, vast enough to accommodate anything that arises. Nothing much has really transpired in that period of time. In the actual human world, we can’t avoid the choice between good and bad, for the reason that there is no absolute level apart from the relative and compassionate levels.

Relative, compassionate, and absolute are ways of talking about the moral choices we make with these human bodies and minds, in an actual, lived, physical world. Having an equal mind means that there is no conception of relativity between things. To illustrate this, suppose you are walking along a road and it starts bearing to the right. What is the best approach?

Pay close attention to the method. Love inductively authorized as a payment is not love at all. They tell themselves that they could be doing so many other things at home, or furthering their career. Thoroughly enlightened people spontaneously help sentient beings in accordance with causes and conditions. The secret of all the teachings of Zen Buddhism is how to live in each moment, how to obtain absolute freedom moment after moment.

Zen Koan: “Every-Minute Zen” Parable

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others, after all learning all one can isn’t as easy as learning how to ask a girl out or how to ride ones bicycle. These are lessons that take the span of a decade to master. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wodden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.”

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Buddhist Insight on Compassion

In Zen Buddhism, everybody is trying to work out his or her artistic self-expression and compassion. In addition, after they had lived together for some time in married cheerfulness, the Queen became aware that the day was drawing near when she should bring forth a child. However, compassion also exterminates delusions. The intermediate Zen meditative state can last from a moment to seven days, depending on whether or not an appropriate compassion is found. It means learning skillful means not to be so caught up in things, not to be so attached. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

Compassion is not a quality to romanticize, idealize, or project into a future moment. Nurturing compassion does not depend upon personal perfection. We meet suffering, pain, and confusion every day of our lives. The homeless person on the street, the frail parent, the hurt child, the stressed executive, the alienated teenager. It is not easy to open our hearts to the bottomless depths of pain in the world. We hold in our hearts our own mortality and the mortality of others. All life is fragile; we live in a fragile world. health turns to illness, well-being to pain, safety to uncertainty, life to death; none of us can control the countless supports upon which our well-being rests. The moments of sorrow and confusion we meet are moments that invite us to cultivate a listening heart, to let go of separation, and to be present with every cell of our being. The difficult moments and encounters in our lives are the gateways of compassion. Our enemies are angels of compassion in disguise, inviting us to be present, to attend, and to receive. Here we discover for ourselves the healing, balancing power of compassion.

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How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

At the dawn of the new millennium, two powerful factions are arrayed against each other. Each faction advocates an extensive list of reforms.

  1. those influenced to support the principle of equality of condition and to extend their progressive program of reforms
  2. those equally determined to reinstate equality of opportunity as the reigning principle.

Now, we need to tackle such concerns as the struggle for self-realization, the desire to find a deep-seated meaning in life than the endless accumulation of consumer durables and the pursuit of pleasure, education not only for careers but for spiritual values, methods of bankrolling an early and rewarding retirement, and increasing the quality time available for family activities.

The changing nature and distribution of work and leisure and changes in the structure of consumer demand are creating overabundance in some areas (such as the excessive consumption of calories and fat) and severe shortages in others (such as health services at all ages).

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

To accomplish self-realization, we need to understand life’s opportunities and sense which ones are most attractive to us at each stage, and the requisite educational, material, and spiritual resources to pursue these opportunities. Currently fair access to spiritual resources is as much a benchmark as access to material resources was in the past.

  • Spiritual resources include a sense of purpose, a sense of opportunity, a sense of community, a strong family ethic, a strong work ethic, and high self-esteem.
  • Developments in physiology have contributed to the growth of the elderly population, giving rise to the problem of in, intergenerational equity—the assurance that one generation will not suffer a lop-sided share of the burden of financing a lifetime of self-realization.
  • Also pressing is the need to develop arrangements that permit prime-aged workers greater flexibility so that they can attend to their own and their family’s spiritual needs.
  • Lifelong learning is another new equity issue. It involves offering opportunities not only to upgrade skills to earn a living but also to extend knowledge in the arts and humanities.

For women, self-realization requires an end to glass ceilings and the creation of conditions that make careers and families fully compatible.

The new agenda is shaped by changes in structure that have reversed the trend toward economic concentration and the separation of work and home.

Today, 60 percent of our discretionary time is spent doing what we like (volwork). The abundance of leisure time promotes the search for a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

Why this deep desire for volwork? Why do so many people want to forgo earnwork, which would allow them to buy more food, clothing, housing, and other goods? The answer turns partly on the extraordinary technological changes.

Food, housing, clothing, and other consumer durables have become so inexpensive in real terms that the totality of material consumption requires far fewer hours of labor today.

Indeed, we are approaching saturation in the consumption not only of necessities but also of goods that were in the recent past thought to be luxuries. The era of the household accumulation of consumer durables, which sparked the growth of manufacturing industries, is largely over. Most future purchases of consumer durables will be by those replacing items or establishing new households.

Quality of Life and Self-Realization

Today, ordinary people wish to use their liberated time to buy those amenities of life that only the rich could afford in abundance a century ago. These amenities broaden the mind, enrich the soul, and relieve the monotony of earnwork. They include travel, athletics, the performing arts, education, and shared time with family. The principal cost of these activities is often measured, not by cash outlays, but outlays of time.

Soon, the issue of life’s meaning, and other matters of self-realization, will take up the bulk of discretionary time.

'Rising Strong' by Brene Brown (ISBN 081298580X) New flexible work modes—such as a regular part-time work, blocks of work interrupted by blocks of released time, job sharing, flextime, telecommuting, hoteling, compressed work, early retirement, and postretirement earnwork arrangements—are desired by men and women who want a life that is not overwhelmed by earnwork. They do not measure success by income or position. They are content with a simpler lifestyle that places greater emphasis on family life, shared relationships, spiritual growth, religious faith, and good health.

Today, many corporations view alternative working arrangements as part of an inventory of personnel policies that increase corporate productivity and reduce absenteeism, labor turnover, and the cost of office space.

Today ordinary people must decide: What it the nature of the good life? Our world may be materially richer and contain fewer environmental risks, but its spiritual struggles are more complex.

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Freedom is the Opportunity for Self-realization

“No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself.”

“It’s a free world!” our seven-year-old son cried out in a final effort to rationalize his tantrum. He did not want to go to sleep, and he cried out against his enforced bedtime as an invasion of his rights. His illusion is not uncommon even among grown-ups. We often define freedom as the right to do as we please, but this is an erroneous conception. Freedom is not the right to do as we please. No one can do just as he pleases, since we are all subject to pressure from sources beyond ourselves, which we cannot defy. If freedom consists of the right to that defiance under all circumstances, then none of us can be free. The laws of gravity, biology, geography; the laws of the road and of our home routines; die laws of the natural world and the laws of the man-made world—all these and countless other regulations limit our right to do as we please.

No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself The separation of time elapsing between the pronouncing of the stimulation word and the response is precisely measured. It is needless to say that this would not only be an object of human race, but a great monetary saving, considering how expensive it is to support invalids, and to interchange men; not to mention that it is upon the health and lives of men that all public exertions fundamentally depend.

Freedom is the opportunity for self-realization. In each of us lie dormant all kinds of powers which were meant to be developed in the course of our maturing. Moreover, once developed, they were meant to be employed in the give and take of life. We are free if our powers can develop to the fullness of their promise and if we are unimpeded in their use.

A rock that rests on the seed planted in the ground will prevent its growth, thereby denying its freedom. However, tying the tender plant to a garden stake—while limiting it from too much movement, rather than restricting—enlarges its freedom, because it is an aid to its growth. And a world in which little boys have to retire at a reasonable hour is indeed a world which holds the conditions of freedom, because it is in such a world that little boys can grow up to become wholesome and healthy adults.

Let us not fret because there are traffic laws by which we must travel on the highway of life. The laws of the road, if they make for safer driving, are a contribution to our freedom, not an infringement of it.

Becoming Afraid of Peace and Happiness

Becoming Afraid of Peace and Happiness As for the greater variety, having become afraid of peace and happiness, one goes to asylum for the welfare of others.

The flux seems indeed often to be a kind of alternate for fevers, as it prevails most in those ships that have brought from Europe an infective fever. While it is better to have no idea than have a false idea, it is also better to have a genuine idea than having a pretended idea or no idea. In addition, this being so, I think it a great erroneous belief to persist in attempting to ascertain in the Christian doctrine that thoroughgoing rule for our counsel which its author intended it to sanction and impose, but only partially to offer. Stoic Philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations,

Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrian and Augustus. In the next place having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business look at it, and at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man’s nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy.

Nothing contributes more to wellness and long life than pure and good air: but by pure we are not to interpret bleak; nor are old men at any time to choose it. Conversely, representatives of scientific discipline have often attempted to arrive at all-important judgments with respect to values and ends based on scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. It is well known, some who have reached a rare date of life, have perished at last by a sudden change in their food: and the air is scarcely of less effect.

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Four Mistakes That Cause Most Failures in Organizational Change

Change Leadership: Many Start but Few Finish Well

No organization is invulnerable to change. To cope with new technological, competitive, and demographic forces, leaders often try to adjust the way they do business—evaluate few of these efforts meet the goals. Few companies successfully transform themselves.

Here are four mistakes that cause most failures in organizational change:

  1. Mistake #1: Writing a memo instead of lighting a fire. Most leaders mismanage the first step—establishing a sense of urgency. Too often leaders launch their initiatives by calling a meeting or circulating a report, then expect people to rally to the cause. It doesn’t happen that way. To increase urgency, gather a key group of people for a day. Identify 25 factors that contribute to complacency and then devise ways to counter each factor. Develop an action plan to implement your ideas. Your chances of creating a sense of urgency and building impetus improve inestimably.
  2. Mistake #2: Talking too much and saying too little. Most leaders under-communicate their change vision by a factor of 10. Moreover, the efforts they make to convey their message in speeches and memos are not convincing. An effective change vision must embrace not just new strategies and structures but also new, aligned behaviors. Leading by example means spending more time with customers, cutting wasteful spending at the top, or pulling the plug on a pet project that don’t match up. People watch their bosses meticulously. It doesn’t take much inconsistent behavior to fuel cynicism and frustration.
  3. 'Change Leader Learning to Do What Matters Most' by Michael Fullan (ISBN 0470582138)Mistake #3: Declaring victory before the war is over. When a project is completed or an initial goal met, it is tempting to pat on the back all involved and proclaim the advent of a new era. While it is important to celebrate results, kidding yourself or others about the difficulty and duration of transformation can be catastrophic. Once you see encouraging results in a difficult scheme, you still have a long way to go. Talking about “wrapping this thing up in a few months” is nonsense. If you settle for too little too soon, you will probably lose it all. Celebrating incremental improvements is a great way to mark progress and maintain commitment—but note how much work is still to come.
  4. Mistake #4: Looking for villains in all the wrong places. The opinion that large organizations are filled with recalcitrant middle managers who resist all change is unfair and untrue. Often it’s the middle level that brings issues to the attention of senior executives. In fact, the biggest obstacles to change are often those who work just below the CEO—vice presidents, directors, and general managers, who have the most to lose in a change. You need to build a guiding coalition that represents all employees. People often hear the CEO cheerleading a change and promising exciting new opportunities. Most people want to believe that; too often their managers give them reasons not to.
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The Architectural Masterpiece of Hampi’s Vijaya Vittala Temple and its Spectacular Stone Chariot

Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi

Vijaya Vittala Temple is one of the important temples in Hampi. Its construction began during the time of Krishnadevaraya in 1513 CE, and it continued even during the reign of his successor Achyutaraya (1529–42 CE) and perhaps it was not completed as per the grandiose plan of its builder Krishnadevaraya.

Facing east, this temple is in the centre of a quadrangle measuring 500 ft by 310 ft, and it has three gopura entrances in north, south, and east. This vast temple complex can be divided into three parts namely the outer mukhamandapa, the central rangamandapa and the interior sukhanasi and garbhagriha.

Pillars, pilasters, and the niches that exhibit Dravidian Temple Architecture at Hampi's Vijaya Vittala Temple

The outer mukhamandapa stands on a five feet basement and has three entrances. The entire mandapa has 56 pillars of composite nature and each one appears to be an independent monument. The ceilings have lotus designs.

Through the above mandapa one enters into rangamandapa, which is the most beautiful part of this temple. The pillars, the pilasters, and the niches exhibit Dravidian characters. The composite pillars of this mandapa are especially noteworthy for their decorative nature and delicate carvings of gods and goddesses and scroll work. In the centre is a grand enclosure of sixteen extremely beautiful tall pillars.

Kalyana Mandapa Wedding Hall at Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi

At the western part of it is the doorway leading to the sukhanasi and garbhagriha. There is a pradakshinapatha, which has pierced windows (Jalandhras) to allow sufficient light and air. Inscriptions mention that Krishnadevaraya added phalapuja mandapa and kalyanamandapa to this structure. Perhaps the garbhagriha had a Vishnu image in the form of Vitthala to which deity regular worship was offered and various festivals were celebrated on a grand scale.

Harmonious blending of sculpture and architecture in Vijayanagara Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi

Spectacular Stone Chariot of Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi Another important attraction of this temple is the stone chariot in front of the rangamandapa. The ratha or the stone chariot looks like a miniature Dravidian temple, which originally perhaps had a brick tower. It has four wheels, two on either side and it is said that it could be turned on its axis. This chariot has an image of Garuda, as it is a Vishnu temple.

Quadrangle and Architectural Masterpiece of Hampi's Vijaya Vittala Temple

This temple is so characteristic of the Vijayanagara art, it is taken as a symbol of Vijayanagara architecture, and sculpture, as it is a harmonious blending of sculpture and architecture for which the Vijayanagara architects and sculptors were famous all over the country.

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Excellence in Leadership Execution

Excellence in Leadership Execution

Just as the most dangerous part of a jet flight is going from cruise altitude to landing, making the transition from a lofty vision and innovative strategy to ground-level implementation requires great focus and flawless execution.

Having perspective and strategy is important; however, when we examine business plans that miss the mark, we find that the problem is rarely with the vision or strategy but rather with implementation and execution.

For 30 years, we have worked with senior executive teams on implementing sound strategies. We find that four key elements must be in place:

Operational Excellence for Execution

  1. Assessing and developing the knowledge and competency of the senior leaders. Assess the strengths and competencies of the senior management team and identify potential gaps that could impact implementation. You can learn what gaps in skills or knowledge exist through formal assessments conducted by an experienced third party to encourage candor and objectivity. In other instances, knowledge gaps become apparent through multiple interactions. Leaders must know their strengths and shortcomings and address the gaps, either by recruiting new members or developing the requisite skills or knowledge.
  2. 'Purpose Meets Execution' by Louis Efron (ISBN 1138049093) The senior leadership team must be fully aligned with the intent and direction of the strategic initiative. Although candor and cooperation among senior leaders are crucial, functional heads often pursue their own objectives to the detriment of the strategic initiative. The implementation of key initiatives requires the full alignment and shared accountability of senior leaders. A lack of cooperation is readily apparent. Passive-aggressive behavior in staff meetings, a “not invented here” attitude when presented with new ideas, or a reluctance to embrace change indicate something is amiss. Unless senior leaders embrace the strategic objective and commit to its implementation, the odds for success are low.
  3. The culture must support the initiative and adhere to the essential values set. Certain values are so vital that we refer to them as the Essential Values Set. Culture is largely determined by the values shared by its members. This Essential Values Set is a universal set of principles that govern how the organization defines acceptable behavior. The presence of the Essential Values Set explains why some companies excel in executing strategic initiatives.
  4. The reward and recognition system must be aligned with the outcomes of the strategy. The cash compensation plan, along with other rewards, needs to be aligned with the cross-functional goals of the strategic initiative. Leaders should be rewarded for accomplishments in their areas of responsibility and for their support of cross-organizational initiatives. How aligned is your rewards and recognition process with the strategic initiative?

High-performance Teams are Characterized by Six Healthy Values

  • Performance value. This “make it happen” value focuses on setting challenging expectations and achieving results with accountability. With a healthy performance value, people seek innovative ways to overcome obstacles, encourage teamwork, and accept prudent risk-taking. Without a healthy performance value, people engage in finger-pointing, passive-aggressive behavior, and blame-avoidance.
  • Collaborative value. Collaboration is built upon principles of trust, sharing, open and direct communication, and a belief in the positive intent of team members. Collaboration promotes teamwork, mutual support, and decisions made for the greater good.
  • 'Execution Getting Things Done' by Larry Bossidy (ISBN 0609610570) Change value. The successful execution of key initiatives requires innovation, openness, and positive support for new ideas. Leaders operating from a healthy change mindset act as coaches, as opposed to judges or critics of new ideas. They encourage innovation, risk, and growth, as opposed to dismissing new ideas or diverse points of view. They refuse to allow a rigid bureaucracy or current processes to kill innovatio .
  • Customer value. The customers’ experience is a barometer of overall health. This value can also be defined as how well the organization focuses on a greater purpose-something beyond itself. The best leaders are focused on better serving internal and external customers. Positive and productive initiatives are framed in the context of a customer-value perspective.
  • Integrity value. Integrity refers to the consistency between the senior leadership’s words and their actions. Integrity is crucial for effective strategy execution. Integrity goes beyond simple compliance. At its core, integrity goes to consistency between word and deed to walking the talk.
  • Health value. Senior leadership teams that execute well share a healthy climate characterized by openness, trust, mutual respect, optimism, and hopefulness. This health value enables leaders to generate positive energy, assume the best motives and intentions in others, be more present and listen to one another for different points of view.

These six values position senior leaders as positive role models. If there is mistrust, internal competition, or negative assumptions of motives among senior leaders, the implementation of the strategy will be impaired.

Case Study: Execution Excellence Framework

The new CEO of a cellular telephone company and his executive team grappled with many challenges—one being to determine a strategy for competing in markets dominated by better-financed competitors. The senior leaders concluded that excellence in customer service was the key. They believed that if they could endear themselves to their customers, they could reduce the erosion of their customer base and free up resources to attract new customers. Reducing turnover by improving its service could result in $400 million in additional annual profits.

Here’s how this firm used the Four Elements of Execution to achieve this goal.

  1. Assessing and developing the knowledge mid competency of the senior leaders. They assessed the strengths and capabilities of staff to ensure that those charged with leading the initiative had the requisite skills. Their analysis revealed some gaps in knowledge that would be difficult to develop internally. So, they recruited several new executives with these capabilities.
  2. 'The Art of Execution' by Lee Freeman-Shor (ISBN 085719495X) Senior feeders must be fully aligned with the intent mid direction of the strategic initiative. The success of the initiative hinged on everyone becoming committed to improved customer service. Knowing that employees would be looking to them, senior managers resolved their differences behind closed doors. While dissent and alternative points of view were welcomed in staff meetings, a unified front was required after the meetings.
  3. The culture must support the initiative and live the essential values. Presenting a positive and unified front reinforced the desire to better serve the customer. Although the leaders came from different business units, they put aside their individual needs and collaborated to identify innovative methods for serving the customer. Their ability to coach others and maintain focus on the customer’s experience contributed to the success. Senior leaders held each other accountable to “walk the talk.” They faced many setbacks and obstacles but maintained a healthy climate with an optimistic view of the future and cast a positive shadow.
  4. The reward and recognition system must be aligned with outcomes of the strategy. Senior leaders realigned their executive compensation reward and recognition system to support the collaborative measures necessary to implement the strategic plan.

Improve Your Execution

After two years, the company moved from 7th place to 1st in the JD Powers ranking of Cellular Customer Service and Loyalty. Customer turnover levels were 67 percent lower than national competitors. This resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional profits.

The behaviors of leaders cast long shadows and dictate success in implementing major initiatives. Senior leaders must embrace and model the four key elements of superior execution.

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Be Special to Your Customers

Be Special to Your Customers

There are only two things you need to know: Don’t compete with China on cost, and don’t compete with Walmart on price. And if you’re not competing with Walmart on price and China on cost, then you have to start going up the value chain and start doing something that’s worth being paid more money for.

In the last three years, the short space of three years, 60,000 foreign-owned factories have been opened in China. That’s a new factory every 26 minutes. And in the course of those same three years, 600 foreign-owned labs have opened in China—200 a year, or one every 43 hours. Good luck competing with China on cost. In Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart has in its files 460 terra bites of data—twice as much data on its customers as exists on the entire Internet. Good luck competing with Walmart on price.

Make Customers Fall in Love with Your Business

'The Customer Service Revolution' by John R. Dijulius III (ISBN 162634129X) A focus on cost-cutting and efficiency is how many organizations weather a down-turn, but this approach will only ultimately render them obsolete. Only constant pursuit of innovation can insure long-term success.

The CEO of the Intercontinental hotel group was fired recently. He was an accountant. And I’m sure this guy did a brilliant job of shaping up the cost structure, but it’s a new world. The chairmen who fired him said they are now in a new phase of business where the group will be a franchising and management company and brand management is central. Intercontinental will now have more to do with brand ownership.

General Erick Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, said, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” During the six years that General Shinseki ran the army, he brought about more change than had occurred in the previous 75 years, and yet he was fired by Don Rumsfiled for not going fast enough!

I’m all in favor of having boring people in charge of organizations if the times are boring. But in freakish times, we need more freaks running our firms.

One of the offenses against gyrating is for a whole set of vaguely confident companies to merge with other companies saying, “Size is our defense.” Well it never has worked, and it never will work. Sears plus K-Mart is not keeping Walmart’s Lee Scott awake in Benville, Arkansas. Such a merger is called a horizontal double-dummy.

Create a Memorable Customer Experience

Most giant firms have never performed well. Forbes went back 87 years to see how the Forbes 100 had done. The answer was pathetic: 61 dead, 39 alive, and of the 39, only 18 were in the Fortune 100, and those 18 had underperformed the stock market by 20 percent. Only two of them had out-performed the market—GE and Kodak, and now we’re down to one, GE.

'The Customer Rules' by Lee Cockerell (ISBN 0770435602) What’s interesting to me is that GE is the most disorganized of that set. Not undisciplined, but disorganized. Trust me, the guy running the appliance division in Louisville, KY, could not find GE’s headquarters on a map. They send him to Louisville and say, “Make some money, dude, see ya in five years, if you screw it up, you’re outta here.” Size is over-rated.

Dick Kovacevich, CEO of Wells Fargo, said, “I don’t believe in economy to scale. You don’t get better by being bigger, you get worse.”

In 240 industries, the market share leader is the return on asset leader in only 29 percent of the cases. Nick Negroponte, head of MIT’s media lab, put it this way, “Incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy.” In a time of non-incremental change, if you are working on making it a little bit better, you’re not working on blowing it up.

If you’re the leader, you don’t want to known as the King of the Tinkerersthat’s playing around while the world is flipping upside down. Roger Enrico, chairman of Pepsico, said, “Beware of the security of making small changes to small things, rather, make big changes to big things.” Good advice.

ISIT is blowing up every industry. We all live in a Dell-EBay-Walmart-Google world. What’s required, then, is absolute reinvention of the enterprise. Ray Lane ran Oracle for 10 years as president. He said e-business is about rebuilding the organization from the ground up. Most companies today are not built to exploit the Internet. Their processes, approval, hierarchy the number of people they employ—all of that is wrong for running an e-business.

People who have not been investing heavily in ISIT in the last five years are stupid. I watched it with Sysco, the company that distributes food to hospitals, schools, and factories. When everybody else was shutting down their ISIT investment five years ago, Sysco doubled their investment. Their chairman said, “I’m betting that I can reinvent the company, this entire industry, and get a 15-year jump on the competition.”

And they’ve done it! Sysco just bulldozed the entire industry and has grown from about $15 billion to about $35 billion dollars in five years.

Forest Gump, the father of outsourcing, said, “Don’t own nothing if you can help it. If you can, rent your shoes.” Forget outsourcing; let’s talk about best sourcing. Only an idiot would work with anyone who is not the best in the world. Several firms now even rent CEOs, so I’m not even sure we need these. There is no excuse for not working with the best.

If There’s No Perceived Difference for Your Customers, You’re Dead.

In the age of ISIT, the customer relationship is going one-to-one. Mass media is dead. Narrow-cast and one-to-one is the answer. Over the next 10 years, narrow cast will grow at 14 percent a year, mass media at 3 percent a year. To use CRM right, you have to blow up the organization and re-imagine everything you’re doing. It’s not a tool for getting a little closer to your customer; it’s a tool for revolutionizing the way you work with your customer.

'The Service Culture Handbook' by Jeff Toister (ISBN 0692842004) I love books, and I used to love going into bookstores. Now I love something else—Amazon.com. I have never met a living human being from Amazon, and probably never will. But I know this: any book I order will be on my desk tomorrow.

As Paul Cole, who ran the CRM practice of Cap, Gemini, Earnst, and Young said, “CRM is not about a pleasant transaction; it’s about a systemic opportunity to rethink the entire enterprise so that we can take advantage of every resource in the system to enhance the customer experience.”

I started blogging last year, and my life has changed. Blogging is short for “web log” and it says that the website becomes, not a place to process information, but a place to have intimate conversations. The web at its best is about conversations and portals.

I like what Home Depot is trying to do. Bob Nardelli discovered a mess when he arrived at Home Depot. Basically he said, “I want people to fall in love with the orange box, and know they’ll be taken care of. Their home electronics center, their chlorine in their pool, their home improvement projects—it’s all in that portal called, ‘Trust in the orange box.'”

We’re seeing a white-collar tsunami in professional services, as contract forms and advice are available on the web. I get mad when I hear, “But we have to protect the unsuspecting consumer.” That’s baloney. I am not an unsuspecting consumer, I’m a human being with a brain who can access health information on the web that is better than what my doctor offers. I’m not smarter than my realtor, my lawyer, or my doctor, but I’m a lot smarter than I was 10 years ago—and getting smarter every day. The conceit of gurus and doctors is, “You’ll listen to me because I wear the white coat.” What that means is, “Pay me a lot, I know some special stuff.”

What’s So Special About You for Your Customers?

I don’t deny professionalism, but I’m saying, “Don’t ever talk down to a customer.” Most young people are patrolling 50 websites. They’re not saying, “Let’s check out Lending Tree.” They’re saying, “Let’s check out Lending Tree and 100 others.”

It’s a new world order, regardless of the industry. Extremely good work is no longer enough, because the world is exploded with people doing extremely good work. Experience buys you nothing. It’s the price for entry. But it doesn’t make you special.

What is special about you? I don’t think excellence or being best is enough. Sears was best; Walmart was different. Compaq was best; Michael Dell was different. That’s the point of uniqueness.

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Posted in Business and Strategy

Zen Koan #34: Parable of A Smile in His Lifetime – Buddhist Teaching on Cultivating Equanimity

Zen Koan #34: Parable of A Smile in His Lifetime - Buddhist Teaching on Cultivating Equanimity There is a Chinese novel called Monkey. It is a theory curiously at odds with the edifications of transformation held within great spiritual Zen traditions, and with the cognizance of countless people who explore those edifications in depth. At the heart of a vision of arousing is a simple truth—that just for the reason that something has a long history, it is not a life sentence. Our capability to be aroused in our lives designates that transformation is always possible. Do you understand?

Don’t worry if you don’t. However, this is still not Zen. This question is hard to answer. Are you killing any living beings? You must have sagacity. We are not supposed to ravage the world. You have to cerebrate care entirely about what results it might bring. When we go to the bathroom and turn on the sultry or cold dehydrogenates monoxide, even then we engender different effects.

However, the sooner you want to get results, the longer it will take to get anywhere. When your mind wanders to extraneous concerns, put them down as soon as they appear. Under these circumstances, it is almost impossible to attain a peaceful state of mind. This is not the attitude of the Buddha or the patriarchs. However, if you sneak up on it gradually, you can pretend it.

Zen Koan: “A Smile in His Lifetime” Parable

Mokugen was never known to smile until his last day on earth. When his time came to pass away he said to his faithful ones: “You have studied under me for more than ten years. Show me your real interpretation of Zen. Whoever expresses this most clearly shall be my successor and receive my robe and bowl.”

Everyone watched Mokugen’s severe face, but no one answered.

Encho, a disciple who had been with his teacher for a long time, moved near the bedside. He pushed forward the medicine cup a few inches. That was his answer to the command.

The teacher’s face became even more severe. “Is that all you understand?” he asked.

Encho reached out and moved the cup back again.

A beautiful smile broke over the features of Mokugen. “You rascal,” he told Encho. “You worked with me ten years and have not yet seen my whole body. Take the robe and bowl. They belong to you.”

Buddhist Insight on Cultivating Equanimity

Zen teachers of present and past have adeptly help the students notice how they view this world, and the life they are living. Thus, if one meditates with many skillful means, patience will be established without hindrance. Now, by means of practicing what is to be practiced, guarding is taught. Cultivating equanimity, the most delightful thing, it’s fantastic. The Japanese Zen priest and author Kosho Uchiyama writes in Opening the Hand of Thought,

Ordinarily, we spend all our time comparing and discriminating between this and that, always looking around fro something good to happen to us. And because of that, we become anxious and restless about everything. As long as we are able to imagine something better than what we have or who we are, it follows naturally that there could also be something worse. We are constantly pursued by misgivings that something bad will happen. In other words, as long as we live by distinguishing between the better way and the worse way, we can never find absolute peace such that whatever happens is all right. This anxiety or lack of peace of mind is like that felt by the Japanese high-school student aiming to succeed in the entrance exams.

When we let go of our thoughts that distinguish better from worse and instead see everything in terms of the Universal Self, we are able to settle upon a different attitude toward life – the attitude of magnanimous mind that whatever happens, we are living out Self which is only Self. Here a truly peaceful life unfolds.

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Posted in Faith and Religion

Organizational Subcultures

It is important to recognize that even an organization’s unified culture is not entirely homogenous; subcultures subsist and each division or unit in the organization sees things from a somewhat diverse standpoint.

'Administrative Behavior' by Herbert Simon (ISBN 0684835827) DeWitt Dearborn and his colleague, the Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon, had executives from a single company read a case study that was to be discussed as part of a training program. Before the discussion began, they asked the executives to write down what they each saw as the primary problem facing the organization described in the case. As you may expect, the head of marketing saw the problem as a marketing problem, the head of finance saw it as a finance problem, and the head of production saw it as a production problem, and so on.

That is, the different heads of the different divisions in the company tended to perceive the world in a way that was congruent with their own division’s function, and in terms of the culture that their division had developed. This is not to say that they did not share parts of each other’s culture, but they did have views exclusive to their own parts of the organization.

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Posted in Management and Leadership