Leading into the Future: Dancing with Dragons

The world of all appearances, then, is woven on the loom of perception. — Lawrence E. Sullivan

What worked yesterday, is no longer guaranteed to work today or tomorrow.

But did it ever?

We want, and yes, so love guarantees, don’t we?

Just like we do about our life, with the ominous shadow of death lurking (and ticking away) “out there,” and all around us, right?

Our 20th-century bureaucratic mindsets and worldviews, our mental models and mindscapes, just can’t seem to navigate either minimally, or even elaborately optimize, their way around in our Anthropocene epoch.

We have seen the rise of Our Global Village economies of scale, the emergence of Third World consumerism, our mistrust in government enterprises, the parasitic virus of global terrorism, and the increasing power of private and public businesses: Too Big to Fail.

My angst, as I hear as much from my colleagues, close friends and out socially amongst the fauna in the landscapes, I move in and around is escalating way past a preoccupation with not knowing what the long-term effects of globalization or its consequences are bestowing on our children, and theirs to come.

The Arab Spring of the early 2010s, as Marc Fisher argues, led to mixed outcomes in the Arab World.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is becoming more than just a rub on me, insisting I grasp what it means, how to respond, and appreciate fully the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.

The Millennials born before the turn of the century are now giving way to the rise of Generation Y and Generation Z in Western countries.

What gives, here? Starting in with a new alphabet, or a numeric system of categorical framing for generations to follow like in Divergent or The Maze Runner?

As I wrote in our IWB Manifesto, our Global Village is calling out to us in pain for metanoia, what the Bible calls a change of heart and a change of ways.

It brings with it a spirit of authentic repentance and seeing in a new way. This conversion, as Matthew Fox insists, is intensified by our sense that an end of age is at hand.


Understanding Your Environment — The Allegory of the Cave

Too many decisions and beliefs, as we argue on the Insights Without Borders (IWB) website, are being formed within the cloistered caves of dream worlds.

Dreams can be just as real as our perception of reality.

The real world is the creator’s reality, not ours. We must examine ourselves to see if what we believe to be true is illusory or not.

Illusions often are easy to understand and can be difficult to destroy.

We resist this center of gravity, line of sight, and course of actions because when our illusions are destroyed, we are left naked and vulnerable before the world.

There is an immense opportunity for creativity, innovation, and invention in detaching ourselves from what our current thinking says is possible.

Chained to cave thinking and performing is a world of appearances for others to follow in trapped organizations.

When groups function within cloistered walls of a cave with half-seen images on walls that are taken as shadows, they adopt false beliefs and make bad decisions.

Initially stated problems often are not the real problems.

Blind spots and preconscious problems repressed by shadowy symptoms complicate organizational functioning and polarize climate and culture leading to a cover your ass (CYA) or Trust your Neighbor but Brand your Stock mentality.

This kind of thinking and performing is a sure way for executives to break trust with those that depend on them.

This center of gravity produces an inevitable economic decline, or bestowing it on stakeholders to follow.

Leadership and stakeholders, we contend on the IWB website, must develop the courage to uncover and work through mokita — known as the authentic truths we are all aware but agree not to talk about in our climates and cultures.

These truths are our perception of the elephant in the room and the polite fiction where everyone is aware of these authentic truths but pretend to believe some alternative version to avoid shame, embarrassment, or conflict.

Mokita can do lots of damage.

We end up working on things that will make no difference, wasting time and resources.

People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

We simplify the world to fit the structure of our previous notions and disregard any evidence we encounter that disconfirms to that structure.

This structure, pattern, or scheme (often hidden) becomes an art form personalized by us to normalize the abnormal.

This art form enables us to create our own new worlds through mental and behavioral force and not be found out.

As a result, we become separated from information that disagrees with our viewpoints, effectively isolating us in our cultural or ideological bubbles.

This course of action is very dangerous to the health of organizations.

Unremitting precipitants for change in this, Our Global Village, are making it progressively arduous for private and public enterprises to operate at the pace needed to develop insights without borders, which will free them from their dream worlds.

Chart courses through open imagined vistas, where leaders and stakeholders are bold enough to set out in new directions.


A Closed Mouth Doesn’t Get Fed

Photo by Barry Gordon | www.barrygordon.com

Buckhorns-Best-1 | Photo by Barry Gordon | www.barygordon.com

Trying to feed yourself and others holding spoons with very long handles?

What and how you think about realitywhat you eat — either stands in your way or makes it possible for your enterprise, as we contend on the IWB website, to move forward with dispatch.

This mindshare requires a particular skill. Learning to feed each other.

It opens new ecosystems and environments of innovation, intellectual and emotional capital, and thought equity.

Without this mindshare, malnutrition sets in. Or worse yet, it can lead to famine and starvation.

Enterprises faced with challenges replicate habitually tried-and-true tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), which made them prosperous.

In this center of gravity, a line of sight and course of action, leadership and stakeholders innovatively delude themselves into innovatively doing the same thing over and over, innovatively normalizing the abnormal (it’s still abnormal!), while assuring themselves they’ll discover different innovative results or end states.

But, what if your shadows (flickering images) keep you from discovering not only the math you are using for framing your problem sets are wrong?

What if your definitions and your framing of your problem sets are wrong too?

What starts out as decisive action and agility in your enterprise over the course of its journey, sooner or later, submissively gives way customarily to institutionalized generative learned helplessness.

Failure of nerve or learned helplessness is organizational poison.

This line of sight often becomes a narrative of climatic and cultural disempowerment. In this center of gravity, we believe we are powerless when we are not.

Learned helplessness is a behavioral or mental state in which you experience dehumanizing provocations and are unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters because you have come to believe that you can’t control the situation.

You build concentric circles of excuses that absolve yourself of accountability for needing to change or deliver improvement.

Instead of discovering creative ways to deal with aversive situations and events, you accept the status quo and blame external conditions for the problems that exist.

This spreading infestation is passed on by leaders and stakeholders from group-to-group and level to level.

And this blind spot breaks trust and leads enterprises to ensure economic decline.

Inaction by leaders and stakeholders leads them to overlook opportunities for relief or change because of their belief that the impact of such unfortunate events is their fault.

Psychological insights show how, where and why we connect with each other the way we do.

In your work, you must offer yourself, your leadership, and stakeholders, an antidote to rediscover the power and set yourselves on a course of unlearning your helplessness.

What, then, is the mindshare to avoid malnutrition? Or worse yet, famine and starvation?

A passion for creating sustainable environments in your enterprise that puts people first and grows authentic human-centric places to work.

The results are innovative business models and processes that drive economic growth for all stakeholders.


Getting It Done

Doing practice | Photo by zaibi242 | https://imgur.com/JNmPZrU

Are you working harder instead of smarter?

For enterprises, their leadership and stakeholders, it seems complicated on the outside, but the end goal is to spend less time doing the things you must do, so you have more time for the things you want to do.

How, why, and what rate new ideas, innovation, and change spread.

Change engagements (small and large-scale) and management of change (MoCs), and the mechanisms, tool sets, tried-and-true change management practices therein, become a provisional high, and not lasting.

As I argued at the outset, we want, and yes, so love guarantees, don’t we?

Regardless of the context, I remain amazed at how creative, and crafty people are with normalizing the abnormal, our world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.

In this center of gravity, acting is often a substitute for thinking.

It’s a refusal to individuals in this line of sight to authentically acknowledge or reflect on why they’re doing what they’re doing.

They listen to others only to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and the beliefs and values they should be living for — or even be fighting for.

Like Bruce Peltier, I too see time and again people who do self-defeating things out of a false sense of honor or pride in consistency.

Work focuses on agility, achieving authentic alignments where strategy, goals and truthful purpose reinforce one another.

Leaders and stakeholders must discover how to develop and manage trust in their ability to move in the right direction.

They need to partner with one another to create and maintain the connections among direction, strategy, goals, and purpose to transform their business narratives from merely interesting to impressive.

Too often senior leadership believes they are doing well, but often their view proves problematic because of blind spots and mokita.

Authentic change engagements (small and large scale) and MoCs must help all stakeholders confront the realities of such viewpoints.

These initiatives need to discover ways to nurture stakeholders’ inner work lives as well so they can authentically engage in meaningful work, too.

Authentic collaboration puts skin in the game when it becomes your business process management (BPM) for helping you, your leadership and stakeholders design your enterprise so it can reduce costs, drive growth, and authentically strengthen both short-term performance and long-term organizational health.

This center of gravity, line of sight, and course of action helps you see clearly and design solutions to manage complexity and then scale them globally to ensure your enterprise’s sustained performance.

Your discipline technical leads, technical specialists, discipline capability representatives, and other professionals must be chartered to deliver developmental roadmaps that support strategic and operational goals.

In this context, they are empowered to use performance improvement principles, practices and processes to plan your roadmap development projects.

They build productive relationships with stakeholders, assemble and investigate existing discipline resources, analyze jobs, develop and validate content across roles.

And they prepare subsequent implementation, including handoff for the development of baseline tools and communications support.

Rebooting mindshare emerges when we’re all on the same page.

Then we can have authentic shared experiences, collaborative innovation, collective intelligence, even creation of collective consciousness.

Rebooting mindshare opens new ecosystems and environments of innovation, intellectual and emotional capital, and thought equity, a place for the commerce of both the heart and mind.

Without it, we get infighting, backstabbing, and all manner of dysfunction.

How do we achieve mindshare through creative and transformative shared experience?

It comes when we guide or even co-develop educational resources including training, facilitating and coaching stakeholders in the purpose and uses of your developmental roadmaps, as well as processes, tools, techniques, and best practices involved in creating them.

Through face-to-face workshops and working sessions, when all your stakeholders work closely with your senior leadership, technical experts, specialists, and master performers to develop the information to craft agreed upon adaptive systems and programs.

Together in high-performance teams, aligned in vested relationships and action learning, leadership, and stakeholders create job experience supports, formal learning, and structured but informal support resources.


Watch Your Six

Are you on the watch for Velociraptors?

They study your every move. Attack from every side. And even adapt to your defenses.

We all may know they’re out there as we strive for a balanced optimum in these competitive environments.

These multidimensional rivalries require a different form of analysis.

Depletion or abundance.

Which are you?

Do your professionals bring a mosaic of unique approaches and guidance, processes, tools, and techniques, including best-practices to risk and strategy?

This key differentiator for your enterprise lands on authentic transformation, analytical tools, and practical implementation — global, cross-sector, cross-functional view of risks; deep industry insights and strategy skills; structured risk-management approaches and methodologies.

What is your enterprise’s center of gravity for attracting, developing and maintaining its professionals who offer real-world guidance or service as force multipliers — providing expertise and practical skill sets on enterprise-wide and multi-layered strategic, operational, and tactical level risks?

Do your professionals collaborate authentically on solution strategies to identify, avoid, mitigate or respond to dynamic, evolving, and multi-layered challenges?

Have they supported organizations both small and large to discover, understand, and manage risk domestically and globally, including in some of the globe’s most challenging environments?

Have they worked at all levels, from the CEO and executive boards, through to national, program and site levels?

Do they support your organization on an as needed basis for guidance and advice?

If you find yourself defensive on these line of sights or walking back unpacking your rationale for failure of nerve or learned helplessness, karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?

Business management continuity, or the lack therein, as we argue on the IWB website, is squared up through aligned policies, plans, and protocols.

Your professionals must have the expertise, and weathered skill sets to help you define business continuity objectives and outcomes, establish the organizational structures that you must deliver to ensure sustainability through awareness raising and capacity building.


Pass the Baton — The Brilliance Lies Within All of Us

As we nurture in IWBs climate and culture, and contend on our website, the race is about the runners, not the baton.

Brilliance lies within all your stakeholders in your enterprise. The relay should bring out the best in everyone.

A baton drop doesn’t automatically disqualify your team. The secret of learning is failing early, fail often.

Without failure, nothing can be discovered.

Few of our failures are fatal, as Tim Hartford contends.

Multiple worldviews, mental models, mindscapes, and cultural differences exist amongst all of us as do creative ways to bridge them.

These caveats are a paramount center of gravity for IWB and our work with clients and their enterprises.

And these caveats are embodied in our Manifesto, our narrative, and our stories.

Storytellers broaden not only our minds, as Robert Redford reminds us, but they also engage us, they provoke us, they inspire us, and ultimately, they connect us to one another.

Money, Redford argues, is a means to and end for the filmmaker. For the corporate mind, he contends, it is the end.

Expertise doesn’t come from a piece of paper.

Beliefs and values, like currency as well as coins or gemstones, or precious metals are relative. They are contextual. And they come in many shapes, sizes, and forms.

Expertise and currencies grow through cultural fluency, and open hearts and minds that are nurtured through authentic generative wisdom and action learning, including psychological mindedness — challenging each of us to remain always ready to improvise to the surprises, which are an inevitable element of the cultural conflict in this, Our Global Village.


Here Be Dragons

Credit: National Library of Sweden, shelfmark KoB 1 ab

Our stories in our Global Village, like the primordial ones preceding them, are human-centric journeys, where enterprises, their C-suites, and stakeholders clash with monsters and those unexplored regions on their maps, known as Here Be Dragons.

These unknowns are frightening.

They give our enterprises some comfort in minimally labeling these unknowns as hypothesized dragons, enabling these creatures to become good enough explanations for what is otherwise ungraspable.

Leadership in our companies are making their 911-calls habitually for their dragon slayers to come hither, with their training guides and products, their guarantees, and science crafted skill sets.


Because it’s all based on a cocktail of the great conventional slayers of old and their abiding wisdom, mixed with a guaranteed innovative remedy for today’s Here Be Dragons.

Obsession with the wizardry of data and technique, Edwin Friedman argues, often blinds not illuminates and becomes a form of addiction that turns professionals into data junkies and their information into data junk yards.

A significant disruption is coming to the consulting space herd mentality. It has to. And it must. Why?

Because we’re besieged with dragon slayers grazing on clients, innovatively deluding their customers into innovatively doing the same thing over-and-over again (normalizing the abnormal, it’s still abnormal!) assuring them innovatively different results or end states.

We mustn’t accept, or even be complicit in enabling, brainboxes or brilliant fact collectors, as I argue in our Manifesto, who fit neatly and comfortably within political correctness, tick-the-right-boxers, or plug-and-players.

Neither can we remain co-dependent any longer on vanies who come and lecture, brainies who spout academic theory, or Bainies who throw warm bodies at delivering quick bottom-line results.

Here Be Dragons continue to become immune to the elite management consultancies and their reports, which are steeped in thorough understanding and nuances of your different players, hunters and howlers, and shareholders’ interests.

Regrettably, as many argue, these products or reports come with conclusions and recommendations, which become outdated the moment they become published.

Sadly, these services and reports become as archaic as Here Be Dragons of yore by the time they must be consumed by C-suites, who are being held accountable to develop insights without borders that will free them from their dream worlds.

So, ask yourself, how much skin in the game does Stratos, their architects, and their cloud minders have here to chart a new course through open imagined vistas to set out in new directions?

Our new, emerging dragon slayers, must confront and slay failure of nerve and learned helplessness — Especially when these caveats become as accountable as they do to Here Be Dragons.

These guides and mentors must be hell-bent on challenging the status quo, not just slaying stereotypes and dichotomous thinking — but reinventing them entirely.

Our Global Village is calling out in pain for leaders more like Daenerys in Game of Thrones, in the consulting space.

During her discussion, with Targaryen and Tyrion, she declares: “Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell. They’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top, and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground.”

Tyrion replies, “It’s a beautiful dream. Stopping the wheel. You’re not the first to have dreamt it.”

Daenerys counters: “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.”

In this declaration, with the help of others shoulder-to-shoulder, she is going to free the slaves — bringing them out of the cave into the brilliance of the sun.

My angst, as I hear as much from my colleagues, we all are through with dragon slayers, who are brainboxes and brilliant fact-collectors — who fit neatly and comfortably within political correctness, tick-the-right-boxers, or plug-and-players.

I’m holding out for a new dragon slayer whose passion is learning to unlearn — who collaborates across our networks and thought communities.

Who leads by authenticity, influencing mental models, mindscapes, our big pictures, our narratives and stories in our ecosystems and environments, in this, Our Global Village.

It’s here, now, the need for a special social way of looking at authentic change.

It’s the willingness to be who we are; tell the truth in caring ways, and supporting the integrity of other’s concerns.

The more we self-disclose, become authentic, accept vulnerability, and are truth tellers, the safer others will feel doing the same.

Authentic change, as we contend on the IWB website, emphasizes our commitment to shared experience and breaking down barriers as the key to organizational health and success.

Whether it’s work-life balance, organizational alignment, high-performance teams, or quality management, the secret is authenticity across all these boundaries.

When people work across functions with authenticity as their core value, they produce change that works for everyone.

Done this way, authentic change work looks, feels, breathes, and sounds different every single time.

Brilliance lies within each of us. We don’t get the benefit of that brilliance, unless trust is high and the barriers are down, so all freely contribute authentically to the work.

Occasionally, as Alan Keightley contends, it does hit people, they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to do so.

Has the emperor no clothes? Neither does your climate or culture who operate like this? Or your C-suite not having the courage to say so either, do they?

What a profitable co-dependent relationship is woven, and bestowed upon stakeholders.

I’ve grown weary in the consulting space with influence and knowledge peddlers, who get paid handsomely, promising to weave a new set of clothes for the emperor, or sending out emperors on journeys with no clothes on to clash with newer, nimbler competitors.

Or guarantees to emperors, their architects and cloud minders, on charts, mechanisms, tool sets, tried-and-true management practices to steer through unexplored regions on their maps: Here Be Dragons.

In the world of truth-telling, we don’t bother with all the things we all know, talk about, and act on. We already know them.

We must surface the important ones that we do not talk about in a context where we can. Likewise, for truth telling about blind-spots.

We need to shift our vantage point enough to see them. Then we can talk about them and act. That’ll make all the difference.

What and how you think about your reality is what stands in your way. A shift in that thinking and what you value is in order.

People move to a new ground in matters of the heart, mind, and values only if they must. We need to create the “must.”

We do this by challenging our status quo, not just in our thinking and feeling, but in the values and convictions, we live by.

We all must upset our current balance, but do it by introducing ourselves to a whole new one: balancing our work, personal, and social world. We all need to shape a new culture and generate new stories.

Are you tired of being another Jurassic Park franchise, fixated on creating a theme park of cloned dinosaurs?

The private, public, and social sectors are full of examples of enterprises that fail to adapt or survive in their operating environment, and like dinosaurs, are disappearing.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. — Carl Jung