Plan Ahead – Not Behind

By Guy Higgins

I recently read two articles about an organization that had chartered a study to determine the actual results of a policy that had been implemented two years earlier. Neither the organization nor the policy is of any importance to this post. The initial article reported that the study discovered that the policy had had significant unintended adverse consequences. At this point, I need to point out that these consequences were very much unintended but predictable. In fact, the organization had been warned that these consequences were possible, even likely, results of the then-proposed policy. The second article reported that the organization was directing a “do over” of the study. The original study had been conducted by an organization that I recognize and which has a good reputation. Other than that, I have no knowledge of the structure of the study, its assumptions or its methodology, so I’m assuming that a reputable organization chartered to do a (very public) study did a competent job. I don’t have any information on how the study was commissioned or how the goal was articulated. It’s possible that the study was poorly chartered, but that’s a topic for another time.

Okay, “so what has this to do with me?” says the Noble Reader. Continue reading

Inequality and Cause and Effect

By Guy Higgins

I want to start out by telling you that this post is going to be somewhat different and potentially politically charged. In 2011, Malcolm Gladwell published Outliers, a book of anecdotes about successful people. In it, Mr. Gladwell asserted that luck was one factor in the success achieved by the people he chose to include in his book. Earlier this year, I read an article titled inequality (and I apologize because I’ve lost the reference and there are thousands of articles on inequality). The author asserted that no one achieves success through their own efforts or merits, but rather through the luck of the draw. We’re lucky to have been born to caring and nurturing parents; we’re lucky to have had access to good schools; we’re lucky to have had a good memory and good cognitive skills. You get the idea. Continue reading

“Science Gone Wrong”?

By Guy Higgins

I’ve just finished reading a book by Dr. Paul Offit, Pandora’s Lab (Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong). The seven stories (and they actually are well told stories) capture the histories of seven episodes involving science. Those episodes, in order, cover:

  • The centuries-long creation of the opioid epidemic
  • The decades-long creation of the trans fat health hazard
  • The two sides of the discovery of a way to make atmospheric nitrogen chemically useable
  • The lengthy history of how genetics begat eugenics (simplistically, the idea that “inferior” humans should not have children)
  • The decades-long rise and fall of surgical lobotomies
  • The forty-year creation of an epidemic that has killed millions of people
  • The continuing health risks created when genius colors outside the lines

Continue reading

A Booming Market for Fitness Trainers

By Guy Higgins

I completed a full workout this morning, and I feel like a spent round. I’m tired, and I can feel all the muscles I used. It was a hard and satisfying workout. I gained benefit from the entire workout even though I had to force myself to complete all the reps in all the sets. While I don’t work with a personal trainer, there are half a dozen or so trainers at my gym, and they always seem to be busy. Personal trainers aren’t cheap – they charge about as much as master plumbers. Why do people hire personal trainers when they can go to the library and check out a book on fitness that tells you everything that the trainer will tell you? Good question. Continue reading

What If You Are the Smartest…

By Guy Higgins

I recently read an article, How the “World’s Greatest Coach” Influentially Leads Generation Z, about the Duke men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. A slight tangent here – the article says, “He is the winningest Division I basketball coach of all-time with over 1,020 game wins as a head coach.” While I like Coach K a lot, he is not (yet) the “winningest coach” in college basketball. That honor belongs to the late Pat Summit (who died young at 64 from early onset Alzheimer’s Disease) whose record, coaching the Tennessee women’s team is currently 78 wins ahead of Coach K. That was just to set the record straight. Continue reading

MBAs, Margarine and Statistics

By Guy Higgins

Okay, so I’m wired differently than a lot of people, but I just finished reading three articles that I think tell pieces of a very important message.

As leaders, we need to understand the tools that we have available to us – to both use ourselves and to provide to our various teams to enable them to succeed. I think that those tools include: Continue reading

The Case Against Preparedness

By Guy Higgins

The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus.” For those of you who did not take Latin from Sister Mary Attila the Hun and therefore don’t remember your Latin, that translates as “Always Prepared.” I think that’s an excellent motto and one that we should all embrace as leaders and as individuals. I suspect that most people will agree that preparedness is a good idea – until they contemplate actually preparing. It’s the old saw about alligators and the swamp. Over the past several years, we’ve encountered a number of reasons for taking care of the urgent business of today before taking care of preparing for tomorrow. I’m going to take a look at some of those reasons – at the case against preparedness. Continue reading

Priorities

By Guy Higgins

I recently read an article in Air Force Times, Air Force: Pilot’s checklist distraction led to Reaper crash. The article discusses the crash of a Reaper unmanned air vehicle and attributes the crash to the pilot’s focusing on his checklist rather than flying the airplane.

Here’s some background for folks who might not be familiar with Reapers and the surrounding processes. A Reaper is an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) built by General Atomics of La Jolla, CA. It is the armed variant of the Predator surveillance UAV. The process used to get a Reaper up and on its mission is to have one pilot conduct the takeoff and climb to operational altitude at which time the takeoff pilot transitions the Reaper to a mission pilot who will fly the Reaper throughout its mission. Continue reading

Common Traits of Great Leadership

By Guy Higgins

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently The Seven Secrets of Great Team Captains. I came across it in Apple News under the title of You’re Picking The Wrong Team Leaders. That was the title that grabbed my attention because I think we often pick the wrong team leaders. In fact, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) just published an article The Difference Between Great Leaders and Good Ones (for the record, the author defined “good” in moral or ethical terms – not quality terms). That article described a great leader as one (my interpretation) with enormous charisma and high energy (acknowledging that such a leader could lead to ethically or morally good or bad goals). The WSJ article flatly contradicted that implication. So, I’m going to look at the seven leaders that the WSJ used as exemplars of great team captains (who were, in these cases, great leaders). Continue reading

Taking a Strain

By Guy Higgins

The phrase “take a strain” has come to mean doing the difficult work, but it harks back to the distant past with ships mooring to a dock or pier (or even a quay) in a harbor. In that sense, it meant ensuring that the mooring lines remained taut so that the ship would not move with waves and rub against or even crash into the dock/pier/quay, damaging the hull. It also meant that the crew needed to continually monitor the mooring lines and adjust them as the tide ebbed and flowed.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I just read an article on cyber security that made me think about “taking a strain.” The article reported on a survey conducted by a cyber security firm. The survey found that 35 percent of cyber security professionals admitted to skipping or sidestepping their own security protocols. National Institute of Standards and Technology cyber security personnel speculate that “security fatigue” is a contributing factor. The crew is tired and the mooring lines don’t seem to be under strain here. The organization is at risk of crashing into something, and leadership (the captain or the bosun or somebody!) needs to focus the crew and pay attention. Continue reading