Small Island Leadership

By Guy Higgins

Seventy-four years ago this month, the United States conducted an amphibious invasion of a small island in the Solomon Islands between Australia and the Asian mainland. The invasion was conducted by the First Marine Division. The division was led by Major General (later General and Commandant of Marines) Alexander Archer Vandegrift. I suspect, though, that General Vandegrift would be the first to tell us that most, if not all, of the Marines on Guadalcanal were leaders regardless of their rank or rate. Continue reading

Security vs. Convenience

By Guy Higgins

Aviation Week recently published an article on cyber security for connected airplanes. There is growing concern that terrorists will hack into airplane control software through the airplane’s entertainment system – these entertainment systems are increasingly connected, via satellite, to the Internet.

So let’s talk about cyber security. Continue reading

Advice from An Old Farmer

By Guy Higgins

I was getting ready to write a post, when this list popped into my inbox. I smiled at all of the advice and laughed at some of it – not because it is essentially humor, but because it is both right and very broadly applicable. That got me to “thinnin’” (for the young readers, Quickdraw McGraw frequently reminded his sidekick that he, Quickdraw, would “do the thinnin’ around here.”). I think that every one of these sage pieces of advice applies to organizational leadership, and I’m going to leave it to the noble reader to think about how each of them applies because all y’all will find many more applications than will I (think of this as an exercise is cognitive diversity). Continue reading


By Guy Higgins

I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review, Neurodiversity: The Benefits of Recruiting Employees with Cognitive Disabilities. I’ve posted on cognitive diversity (which the article does discuss – from the perspective of cognitive disabilities) before but had never considered this aspect of cognitive diversity, and I found the article to be very interesting. I also think that the work done in this area is only a small beginning and that there remains much to be learned. Continue reading

Parkinson’s Law

By Guy Higgins

I’ve mentioned Parkinson’s Law before in posts. The “law” was stated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in the 1950’s and was famously derived from a study of the Royal Navy’s shore establishment (he was a naval historian) over a period of about 500 years. Basically, Parkinson found that bureaucracies grow at the rate of about five percent per year – independent of demand for the product of the bureaucracy. Note, the “about” in the above statement of the law is very important because the growth of bureaucracies is a human phenomenon and not driven by any law of physics or nature. Continue reading

Workplace Automation

By Guy Higgins

I recently read an analysis report by the McKinsey Global Institute, Where Machines Could Replace Humans – and Where They Can’t (Yet). I found the analysis very interesting, and I think that workplace automation is something that organizational leaders should understand and think about – very hard.

I found several take-aways that I think are worth considering: Continue reading

Hedgehogs in Action

By Guy Higgins

Last week, I posted thoughts about the tendency of some people to make bold, assertive predictions that are frequently wrong (hedgehogs) and other people who make circumspect, caveat’ed predictions that are usually usefully accurate (foxes).

While we were posting those thoughts, the UK voted to leave the European Union (Brexit). The hedgehogs went wild. They were busily forecasting the end of all interactions between the UK and the EU. They were forecasting the collapse of world capital markets. They were forecasting the end of NATO. These bold and assertive predictions caused the various stock markets to fall precipitously on June 24th and 27th. The news media loudly proclaimed that $2 trillion had been lost in the market “collapses.” As an aside, it would be interesting to know how much of that massive selloff was driven by artificial intelligence algorithms. By the 30th (that would be the third day following the market sell offs), the markets had nearly recovered to the levels immediately before the UK vote on the 23rd. Apparently, someone started listening to the foxes and recognized that, in fact, the sky was not falling (tip o’ the hat to chicken little). Continue reading

Predictions – Foxes and Hedgehogs

By Guy Higgins

In 1953, Isaiah Berlin published an essay in which he philosophized on an ancient adage, “Foxes know many things, but hedgehogs know one important thing.” Sir Isaiah expanded on that adage by observing that some people (hedgehogs) view the entire world through the lens of their deep and narrow expertise (one important piece of knowledge) while other people (foxes) view the world through the lens of their broad knowledge (knowledge of many things). Continue reading

War Games Part II

By Guy Higgins

Last week, we published a post re-emphasizing a 2014 blog on war gaming/exercising emergency response plans, and I promised that this week I would continue with thoughts on crisis management.

Crisis management, unlike emergency response, is focused on controlling the unfolding crisis after (and even during) the emergency response team’s activity to protect people and then property. The Crisis Management Team (CMT) is a very different group of people and they’re seldom actually at the location of the actual emergency. They’re people with the authority to allocate resources to resolve the crisis and get the organization back to normal operations. Continue reading

War Games

By Guy Higgins

I don’t often refer back to previous posts, but I just got a comment from a post waaayyyyy back in 2014. That post was about an unannounced war game that President Obama sprang on his G-7 colleagues.

Obviously, since I wrote and posted that blog, I thought it was important. Having just re-read it, I still think it’s important. The gist of that blog was the importance of exercising emergency and crisis management plans. Continue reading