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November 20, 2009

F-Laws, Russell Ackoff, and 'Moving The Ball Down The Field'

F-Laws, Russell Ackoff, and 'Moving The Ball Down the Field'

 

I have a long time, good friend, Steve, who talks about 'moving the ball forward,' in life. He means he has a predisposition, a preference for action over inaction, for commission over omission.

A modest, quiet guy, he's nevertheless been very successful -- by almost any measurement one cares to use in life.


If like me, chances are you know more people who're not like Steve -- who'd rather work their mouths than work their brains, or their arms; and who'll criticize others'  work or action, while avoiding it themselves.

That may sound a bit harsh and negative. But modern society -- modern business -- does not generally reward risk takers.

Yet, people and organizations learn, change and grow by errors of commission -- by our efforts, and from our failures. 95 percent of what we know and retain, we have learned on the job or in life. Not in school or in a Harvard MBA program. (Typically, we retain only about 5 percent of what we read.)

We suffer, we fail, in life and in business by errors of omission. By fear.  By inactivity.  By doing nothing.  Or too little.

Russell Ackoff, world renowned guru in operational theory and research (who recently died), published his F-Laws, a laundry list of the crazy rules that make life, leadership and business failure/success often problematic and frustrating because of our aversion to action and risk taking in life and in our relationships.

For a reprint/audio copy of a BBC interview with Ackoff shortly before he died, go to:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0053d49

November 03, 2009

Your (Un)friendly Secretary of State Office

Your (Un)Friendly Secretary of State Office

 

"You’ll  have to wait outside! We have to get to the machine! Our staff must get through!," the grumpy gal in gray sweater said to me, and about 6 others crammed into the 4x5 entranceway to the Secretary of State office on SW Capital at 8:45 am yesterday, all of us waiting to get a number and then get car title, license or plate.

We'd had a "cozy" little get-acquainted chat...bantering about giving each other Swine Flu, the Lions Loss, etc, until the gray sweater gal (turned out she was the SOS BRANCH MANAGER) pushed open the Door.

NO matter the self service "machine" she was sooo worried about had a big "out of service" sign on it.

 

No matter it was raining outside.

 

No matter HER employees had all been NICE to us when THEY came thru the same door earlier.

I told my new found compatriots: "Something in her wakeup must of been wrong.  She doesn't need take it out on us. We're the customers. We're the taxpayers. We're her boss."

 

Rapid bobbing of heads in agreement. 

 

Ah, I thought, we have the beginning of a modest taxpayer’s revolt here.

We rushed into get our number slips, and the solidarity slipped away. Every man, woman and child for themselves.  And ready, eager smiles of supplication for the gray sweater lady.

 

It’s how wars are lost.  And won.

November 01, 2009

Asher, Sullivan Are Real "Change Candidates"

Color.jpgAsher, Sullivan Are Real ‘Change Candidates”

Next Tuesday, a small number of City voters can make a huge difference in Battle Creek's future.

The recent City Commission's difficulty in dealing with financial cutbacks and future directions reflects how important it is for City voters to....vote.....
And in doing so, I urge my friends and associates to consider voting "yes" for Ward 3 candidate Laurie Sullivan, and Ward 4 candidate Chuck Asher.

 Photo: City Commission Candidate Laurie Sullivan (left) with Steve and Linda H. at their Elizabeth Street home.  (Photo by Jim Richmond)

Both are nonencumbents... challengers...part of the nonpartisan "Candidates for Change" that hope to bring fresh ideas and commitment as new City Commissioners.

Laurie -- as many of you know from her on Facebook -- has been an oustanding and outspoken civic and neighborhood leader on BC's north side for more than a decade.

She and her husband bought an empty house -- which had no heat or electricity...and turned it into a gemstone of a place, while Laurie worked with the BCPD to push the crack pushers and addicts out of the neighborhood ..and through her leadership and collaborative style and ability with other Northside residents brought new energy to code enforcement and historic preservation discussions on the Northside and downtown area.

She is a strong leader...who will devote the time and the brainpower to helping build a better Battle Creek.

Asher1.jpg

Photo: Chuck Asher at one of his "50 Stops a Day, 50 Days," at a near southside residence.

Chuck Asher is a retired BC Fire Department Lt., who has knocked on "50 Doors (each of) 50 Days" talking with near-southside residents about City issues, their views and concerns.

Asher is committed to making public services like police, fire and street repairs real priorities.

Both of these people LISTEN as well as they TALK.

So, on Tuesday, if you're in Battle Creek’s Ward 3 or 4....hope you'll think SULLIVAN....ASHER.