Why we should stand on desks more often - Literally

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

A while back I was in a meeting where the discussion revolved around our need to change our current situation to a future state that we all agreed was needed - Somewhere in all of this banter, I say something along these lines, "Evolution will get us there but it will take time where with a revolution we will get there much faster, but it tends to be bloodier".

 I of course thought it was particularly profound. Now let me say right up front we are talking business here so people very rarely get bloody and die (this is an important point) and as an aside (apologizing for my diatribe up front), we as business people like to draw from the military for strategic framework, aspects of leadership, transferable tactics and particularly language. Here is a very important point... in business, although it may sometimes have a vague feel of what war is all about, no one dies, I shall repeat again, no one dies. If you "take a bullet", in the broad sense of things you get "a do over". War, not so much.

So back to my profound statement (with a working assumption that you agree with me*), we find ourselves always existing in three states, some more preferable than others - The status quo, evolution or revolution. I will eventually get to the desk... so not to worry.

Let me quickly speak to the state of status quo first; briefly, only briefly... other than an opportunity to catch your breath (mostly in a figurative sense), the status quo offers you nothing long term... the world, and everything about it will change around you and you will become irrelevant** - I do not recommend it as the world will pass you by.

Revolution will drive dramatic change, through a spectrum from great to awful, as well as the opportunity associated with it. Here is the thing though, like war, it can take on a life of it's own, it's uncontrollable, noisy and many times random with what it offers. Sometimes it is necessary but hold on tight...very tight. As an aside this is where control is validated as an "illusion".

So now to evolution, and being that I left it to the last it's a fair assumption that it is something that I want to spend some time on... offering a thought or two. Up front I will say I'm a fan of Darwin and his theories of adapting and evolving to an ever changing environment - We need to evolve to thrive. A point though, it needs to move much faster than it historically has to prevent any slide into the status quo or creating a situation that brings on the need for revolution, be it in business or even socially. Why is that you may ask? The world is moving much faster, be it technology advances, communication or general globalization (that makes this big world a much smaller place) that creates a necessity to speed up evolution just to keep up with the environment.

And finally we get to the desk - Sorry about meandering... well not really that much. In the movie Dead Poets Society there is a scene where the teacher (Robin Williams) jumps up on his desk to make a point... I have attached the video, as it is my favorite scene in this great coming of age movie.

The video clip is packed with a number of messages but for me, in the context of what we are talking about, when he stands on his desk and asks "why", he offers hints as to how to speed up the evolution. The answer is of course, "to look at things differently and get a new perspective", as the acceleration comes through actively looking to evolve and not passively letting it happen over time.

Two other points resonate with me. When John Keating says, "if you know something, look at it a different way", it reminds us to keep challenging what we know as we just might start seeing a different and even better way. I also like when he tells a student not to walk off the edge of the table so fast like a lemming but look around - A reminder that thinking and doing things differently is not an occasional effort but should be a habitual way.

I find Keating actually getting up on the desk the most powerful in all of this, as it is the action in changing his perspective. He didn't talk about getting up on the desk, he got up on it, no talk... just "up". And this is how art in this case can challenge us... Asking what exactly are we doing to see things differently and speed up our evolution?

Thank you for reading. 


* Let me know if you don't

**Irrelevant is such a harsh word that means not connected with or relevant to something, but is what happens when you stand still as everything moves on. It's a great business word. 





Graduating Corporate University

The following is the original and rewrite can be found by clicking here.

If you were to ask me how I feel right now I would say I feel like I just graduated university - Let me explain.

My very exciting and very fulfilling corporate career of 22 years has come to an end due to a large merger and acquisition, as part of a broader overall consolidation in the industry. So what is a person to do after all those meetings, all those projects and presentations - all that corporate "learning"? Travel of course... and figure out what to do with one's life.

And travel I did, as well as exercised, ate better, reconnected with friends as well as made new ones and attempted the art of mindfulness which is quite a work in progress. It is true what they say with regards to taking a six month personal sabbatical... take it if you are able as it rejuvenates the body, mind and soul. 

So here I am. All educated, all rested and energized with the whole world in front of me. So what to do... back into corporate? Wait, wait.... wait! Lets think about it.

One of the things about having a "corporate education" is it does afford you some luxuries to evaluate the situation and determine what you REALLY want to do. It also probably allows you a different eye to figure out what that is - I mean when you are 24, right out of university with student loans, an eye on marrying the love of your life, then it's fair to say the drivers are a little different from graduating with a degree from "Corporate U".

My skills and competencies are in sales and marketing leadership, management, operations and project management - I'm a sales and marketing guy. (for better or for worse). As I objectively looked at myself and what I wanted to do I found myself looking at all my skills and achievements and aligning them with a job - ultimately each time it just came across flat as I just kept thinking is "this the best way to use my Corporate U education and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity in front of me". Then one day I looked at it differently.

What did I enjoy most in my 22 years? Was there a passion that simply gave me energy and true enjoyment -  where I was not working but simply having a wonderful time? And sure enough even with that question my business passion simply appeared - Creative Problem solving! Not just the thrill of solving a problem (the harder the better) but how we do it it in a practical sense, why sometimes we just can't figure it out and how do we "thing out of the box"? -  conceptional to practical, I loved it all.

So there it was, following a PASSION of creative problem solving and aligning it to sales and marketing which unto itself can be an addictive adrenaline rush. In a practical sense what does it mean? Well right now I want to understand it, talk about it, get other people's thoughts on it as to how it works and why it doesn't works. As with most PASSIONS I am just going to follow it and see where it takes me.

Connect all 9 dots using four straight lines, without lifting your pen and without tracing the same line more than once. As you can see, "out of the box thinking"

Connect all 9 dots using four straight lines, without lifting your pen and without tracing the same line more than once. As you can see, "out of the box thinking"

Just as a final note I will tell you up front I bite the inside of my tongue every time I say "out of the box thinking" as it just seems to be so trite and conjures up visions of a rather angry leader pounding on the table saying "this is unacceptable people! We need some out of the box thinking here!" Did you know the term was derived from a puzzle with 9 dots and 4 consecutive straight lines back in the early 80's? Who knew?

Lets talk!