Posted by on August 31, 2010
A few weeks ago an old friend and I did the Grouse Grind. It is a grueling trail often referred to as Mother Nature’s stair master. We are not exactly models of fitness but we thought “How bad can it be”, then “Can we really do this”, to “What do you mean “halfway to one third”?”, but we rallied “I’m not going back down, I don’t care if we sleep here”. And so the story went in a comedic struggle for how far we could or would push ourselves. In the end, I promised myself a beer at the top and she celebrated the journey the entire trek up.
It became obvious early in our hike that she was going to be the champion for this endeavour. Yet even in her role as the spirit guide for this exercise in human torture there came a moment when she held a quiet doubt. She whispered it with a smile as she turned a particularly steep corner on the final third of the climb. ”Where’s the chicken door?” she said “There’s always a chicken door.”
In every haunted house there’s a door that takes you out of the dark into the daylight where you can see all the corners and what is around them. There comes a time in most every project when its sponsor says longingly “Where’s the chicken door?”.
By this point you have enough experience to appreciate the magnitude of the task, enough invested to make the journey personal and enough strength to laugh.
Posted by on August 26, 2010
Here at e-bydesign we take community involvement seriously. And as one of our communities, Edmonton, is currently going through the paces of its current municipal election, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the issues that are resonating with me at this early stage. My goal is awareness and my own feeble ploy to save some of you from municipal electile disfunction: that state where you can’t be bothered to get up and vote, or worse, voting without knowing who or what you’re supporting.
Posted by on August 24, 2010
Jon just sent me an article, “Why Gandhi Hated Iodine”, and suggested that it felt a great deal like some of the things we face in our work. The old truths that hold long after the context they were created in has fallen away. These are often the most steadfast characteristic of an organization. In our work, uncovering the old truths and building new ones is part of each project we take on and the most difficult part.
Like modern day India, when we arrive we have new tools, techniques and stories from around the economic community that suggests some things work better than others. What we don’t have is the old truths, hard won stays of execution on past challenges. And so we see the new list of Job Titles including Culture Officers and Corporate Evangelist whose responsibility it is to protect the hard won truths in the new contexts of technology, policy and social norms.
But for us, we bring new truths and bristle against the old ones, half in misunderstanding and half in disbelief. Without the context of the culture and a true appreciation of how deep those old truths run we wrestle. Thrashing our way to organizational change, slowly, often painfully, until we align the old truths with the new truths.
And as hard as it is, we know, one day, ours will be the old truths that hold steadfast for new ideas to come crashing against making them stronger and better.
Posted by on August 19, 2010
I’ve worked with a number of teams over the years. Built-from-scratch teams, in-place teams I’ve inherited and teams that have grown organically with me over a long period. In all cases, people have interesting dynamics when they operate in a team, but despite their ability to amaze me with their individualism, teams always seem to go through 4 stages as they react to a new leader.