Change, Learning and Leadership

By Guy Higgins,

I was reading an article recently, Principles for an Age of Acceleration. The basic premise of the article was that everything is changing so fast that we can’t keep up with it. That change is driven by the pace of advances in technology – all kinds of technology, not just information technology. Driven by, but not isolated to, technological change. Technological change is enabling or forcing changes in society, health, governance, and ethics (and, maybe, everything else). I was disturbed by the article. Will artificial intelligence create massive unemployment? Will we find ourselves in an ethical swamp as we use genetic manipulation to grow replacement organs in pigs (and yes, that’s something being pursued today)? What will society look like when humans are no longer a necessary part of the economy? Continue reading

Employee Turnover

By Guy Higgins

I watched the American and National Football Conference Championship games this year. After one game, the announcers observed that both the losing and winning teams would make some changes before next season. Every year NFL teams draft around a dozen players from outside the NFL and may pick up one or two free agents. The teams are prepared to deal with the new arrivals. Interestingly, some teams “hire” players cut from other teams and turn them into good or even excellent players. Continue reading

Collaboration – Wither Leadership?

By Guy Higgins

Last week, I waxed eloquent (personal opinion) about collaboration. One major point I raised and emphasized at the end of the post was the importance of not allocating credit to individuals – and how darned contrary that is to our nature. We want to know “who” on the team, not just “the team.”

What does that mean for leaders and leadership? Do leaders get allocated to the scrap heap of history? Of course not – they’re the ones who get to do all the #%*&% hard stuff. What is that hard stuff? Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Collaboration

By Guy Higgins

Recently, I read a transcript of an excerpt from an interview with Daniel Kahneman. Daniel Kahneman is a behavioral psychologist and Nobel Laureate in economics. The work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize was performed over decades, and much of that work was done in collaboration with Amos Tversky. Doctor Tversky died in June 1996 and was ineligible for the Nobel, but Doctor Kahneman maintains that neither of them could have accomplished the work alone.

Both men were, undoubtedly, very smart. Yet, while either of them could wax eloquent at length about their joint work, neither of them thought they could have done it alone. Why? What was the secret sauce that enabled their joint work to be greater than the sum of its separate contributors? Continue reading

Being Prepared – Who? What? When?

By Guy Higgins

On January 6th of this new year, Colorado was digging out from a winter storm that dropped up to a foot of snow in some places while dropping temperatures to -30oF in other locations. At the same time, Atlanta, GA was anxiously anticipating a different winter storm – one delivering temperatures just below freezing and mixtures of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Continue reading

Artificial Intelligence – What Could Possibly Go Wrong … Go Wrong … Go Wrong … ?

By Guy Higgins

There is a very old joke that goes, “Shortly after take off, the passengers of a cross-country flight hear a pleasant voice over the airplane intercom, ‘We’re pleased to announce that this flight is being conducted in a completely automated mode. There are no pilots in the cockpit. Our excellent systems will fly you in complete comfort and safety to our destination. We wish to assure you that we have invested extensively in this automated system, and it is completely safe. There is nothing that can go wrong … go wrong … go wrong …’” Continue reading

Leadership “At the Front”

By Guy Higgins

Let me start with a short story about a trip I recently took. On my return, I was booked on a 1055 departure from an airport from which I had not previously flown, connecting to another flight in Houston, TX. I had no idea how slowly (or quickly) the security line would move, so I showed up with plenty of time (and, of course, went through security in about two minutes). There was no airplane at the gate when I got there because the airplane was coming from another airport, and making a stop at Houston. The weather was very foggy and did not improve. The flight that was supposed to arrive at my airport at 0925 couldn’t get into Houston and had to divert. This was known at about 0820. By 0900, with no airplane, we were told that the flight was being cancelled because there was no airplane. I was rebooked on a 1915 departure that evening. You can imagine all the fun that I and my fellow passengers had waiting around the (very small) airport all day. At about 1840, we were told that the inbound flight was delayed, but that it would arrive at about 1930. By 1930, with no airplane at the gate, we were told it was scheduled to leave Houston at 1950 and we would depart at 2040. When the flight arrived, we boarded and pushed back from the gate only to be held because of weather at Houston (my connecting destination). After waiting on the airplane for an hour with two status updates from the pilots, we taxied back to the gate, and we all lined up to get rebooked. I tried to rebook via telephone while waiting for the other passengers to work with the gate agents. After explaining to the phone agent that I would not connect through Houston to Los Angeles in order to connect to Denver – all the next day, I finally gave up and, working with the gate agents, was rebooked for a 0830 departure to Houston to connect to a Denver flight. Over a period of more than twelve hours, we were informed of the situation no more than four times. I know I was extremely frustrated, and I think my fellow passengers were too. This was not the worst experience that any traveler ever had, but neither was it a good experience. Continue reading

Leading Millennials

By Guy Higgins

I recently came across a short essay on LinkedIn. The essay was focused on the changes that organizational leaders need to make if they are to provide effective leadership to their millennial employees. I commented, briefly, on the post – saying something like, “If I understand this correctly, somehow, in the past thirty years, an entire generation of human beings has evolved so significantly that their cognitive processes have diverged from those of older humans in an extreme manner. GIMME A BREAK!” Continue reading

Organization and Re-Organization

By Guy Higgins

I just finished reading a very long post titled, Functional vs. Unit Organization. First, I think that it is an excellent discussion of the two ends of the organizational spectrum – functional and unit (or program or product). I urge the Noble Reader to read it.

I, however, want to take (sort of) issue with one point. The post discusses organizational structures and where problems arise – whether it’s a functional or a unit organizational structure. Those are important things to talk about. Even better, the author foot stomps that, before any work is done on the creation of an organization, there must be a problem statement – what is the problem (or are the problems) that are to be solved. This foot stomp is, I think crucial. But the next question that needs to be asked (my question) is, “How do you want people to work to solve that problem?” Continue reading

Identity Groups and Diversity

By Guy Higgins

Reading the local newspaper before the recent elections, I was struck by the headline, “Pursuing City Council Diversity.” The city in the headline is not the city in which I live, but my city council is also pursuing diversity. I want to start by outlining what the two cities are considering.

The city in the headline is considering a couple of new ordnances that would impose strict term limits on members of the council. The idea being that by compelling election of new members via term limits, they would increase the chances of electing people other than the “usual suspects.” The city council where I live is considering establishing advisory councils to bring different ideas to the city council. Continue reading