the wrong “right thing”

September 29, 2008 at 11:15 am | Posted in Business, Professional Development | 1 Comment
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How long do you fight the good fight, when you realize that things need to change, but that you are not going to be able to change them? When do you stop trying? How do you know success isn’t just one month away? How long do you fight to be an agent of change when you can’t control all the changes that are made? The bigger the company, and the lower you are on an org chart, the more interesting those questions become.

When I left coaching at Trinity, a top-25 nationally ranked school, I had a set of ideas on what was the “right” way to do things. And, I *was* right given my surroundings. When I went to CAL, a brand new program with 1/5th the players, it became quite a different story. I had to abandon what I knew was “right” at Trinity in lieu of what we could “execute” at CAL. We spent the first year crawling; spoon feeding them everything. We spent year 2 walking. In year 3 we started to jog, and in year 4&5 we were able to run. But it was a long process of education, building confidence, trust, and putting in things a little at a time.

I was just starting at CAL and meeting with an older coaching buddy of mine who had retired a few years back. I’m whizzing away on the board with the schemes and style I wanted to implement. He sat back and said, “Looks fantastic. Now put player names above the x’s and o’s.” So I did. Then he asked, “Can those names do what those lines are telling them to?” They couldn’t. That’s when I realized I needed to start by teaching them to crawl before we did anything else.

What’s “right” in theory can get screwed up really quickly when the reality doesn’t give you the tools you need. Maybe the most philosophically sophisticated saying of all applies here: “Don’t try and teach a pig to sing. You just frustrate yourself and irritate the pig.” Know your environment and adapt accordingly.

Google’s talent lacking experience?

September 26, 2008 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Business, Technology Trends | Leave a comment
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My buddy Jackson had a great post about Google that reminded me of some of my musings on a very similar topic of the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

unity and diversity – part 2

September 23, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Business, Professional Development | Leave a comment
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Continuing on some earlier thoughts on trying to be diverse and maintain unity…

With college football now in full swing, I can’t help but turn to my beloved sport for yet another analogy.  Football, to me, is the greatest example in sports of unity and diversity.  One team, one objective, but many different sub-teams, each with their own unique battles, all working together for a win. I think it’s pretty clear why diversity is imperative to success.  Having one person try to run everything just doesn’t work in a fast moving game — or fast moving business for that matter.  You’ve got to trust the people you put in place to make good choices.

But what of unity?  Unity avoids anarchy, inefficiency, and unhealthy internal competition by getting all those parts moving toward a common direction.  When they *know* the common direction, it actually adds a ton of morale to the individual efforts.  I’m not a big fan of hidden objectives unless they are absolutely necessary.  So the head coach needs to inform, inspire, and evaluate each of the individual units to ensure the overall objectives are being met, then work with the position coaches to make the necessary changes.

This stuff sounds so easy, but it’s anything but.  Take it for granted and odds are you will end up with inefficiencies all over the place.  Moreover, internal competitions can shred morale.  Here again, I think we’re back to people.  Communication, cooperation, energy, passion, teamwork.  These are the things that are incredibly difficult to sustain at maximum levels.  Throw in a distributed team and it can get even more challenging.  But like most things that are difficult to do, the rewards are great.

unity and diversity

September 11, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Business | 2 Comments
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Being someone who takes a passionate (albeit EXTREMELY novice) interest in philosophy, I recognize that the relationship of unity and diversity is an age old philosophical question.  Science, too, with its search for a unifying theory wrestles engages it as well.  But one of the books I’m currently reading, D-Day by Stephen Ambrose, also has me thinking about it from a business perspective.

In one chapter, Ambrose juxtaposes two of the main leaders surrounding D-Day, Eisenhower and Rommel.  For all of the alleged “order” imposed by the Nazi’s, according to Ambrose, their command and control structure was one of “divide and rule”.  Hitler never wanted any of his commanders to be too powerful, or to have too much knowledge.  Conversely, it was stated the Eisenhower was given far more comprehensive control, which meant that he didn’t have to face many of the logistical and coordination challenges that Rommel did.  OK, made plenty of sense to me and seems rather intuitive.  Then I got to the part about how the Allied forces were planning the actual invasion.

At higher levels, the temptation to reach down to solve lower echelons’ problems was great, but it was overcome.  General de Guingand explained, “At first we tried to discover a school solution to the composition of the assault waves … but after the first training rehearsal we decided the notion of a single formula was nonsense and we let the particular assault section solve its own problem.” -p.108

So when given total control, Eisenhower and his team were smart enough to realize it was necessary to have independently running divisions making their own decisions based on their own challenges to achieve their own objectives.  In business, we face this strategical problem over and over and over again.  A lot to unpack here, but too much for a single post.  More later…

why did I buy a Mac?

September 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 2 Comments
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By almost any measure, the Mac buzz and adoption seems to be rising, thanks in part to people like me who have bought one after years and years of being in the PC world.

The commercials are good, but the commercials have been good for a long, long time.

The iPod and iPhone are good, but that had nothing to do with my decision. (in fact, I LOATHE iTunes)

From a product differential standpoint, I would argue that the Mac has held even greater differentiation in times past than it does now.

I have known all of this for at least 15 years, but I only now bought a Mac. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why because I believe there is a larger business dynamic involved.

I think I bought a Mac primarily because the personal computer (both Mac and PC) is becoming largely irrelevant to my “personal” (read: at home, non-work) computing, which actually freed me to make a more specialized purchase.

See, when I bought my Mac, I was kinda worried about all of my Windows apps. But then I realized that my work laptop is never more than 4 feet away and when I thought about what I did that was dependent upon Windows that wasn’t work related, it didn’t seem like much.

Turns out I was right.  I didn’t miss hardly any of my Windows apps when I made the switch. In fact, I was downright stunned at how much time I spent in my Flock browser more than anywhere else. I haven’t used a fat-client email program for personal use in years. I am using Google calendar more as of late. When I do need to read a Microsoft Office doc (which is getting less and less frequent in personal use) I just open it in OpenOffice and I get by just fine.

Because I no longer *needed* the personal computer for “personal” home use, I was free to make a purchase based on a specialized need–in my case, making DVDs of the kids. I think equally so, users who have wanted to try and find out what all this Mac stuff was about, are now more free to try it without worrying that they will be cut off from the lifeblood of apps that they use regularly. Facebook, MySpace, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Twitter, OpenOffice, Adobe PDF files, YouTube… none of them care what OS you run.

If I’m representative of a larger market demographic, then this is a shift that is going to continue to have large market and technology implications. More to think about on this one…

browser wars fixin’ to heat up again

September 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 3 Comments
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A while back I posted about some frustrations I had around web technology being useful, but not taking that next step to easy productivity. Along those lines, I really like what I’m seeing here from Mozilla. As I watched the video, I immediately identified with several of those pains. Cool stuff that I think will be a big hit on its own, and then a great framework on which others can build

And after this came an accidental early release of Google’s new browser in the works.

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