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The Challenge of truth telling in the Army profession

July 12, 2014 Leave a comment

http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1178.pdf

If a large organization like the Army which is so renowned for the quality and caliber of its leadership and integrity as difficulties with different levels of command and leaders telling the truth to each other, how much of an unseen force is the lack of candor in commercially-based organizations where there is more self-interest among individuals?
How important is it to the culture of the organization that people can tell the truth without fear of repercussions? If that’s not one of the cultural values of the organization, what are the implications going to be for large-scale transformations that require honest and open communication?
How do we break that political and cultural barrier?

Daytrading beliefs

December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Richard Feynman

Cover of Richard Feynman

Mark Twain

Cover of Mark Twain

Matt asked:
From: Matth<snip>
To: Ken Long <longke@yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, December 30, 2013 8:11 PM
Subject: Beliefs
Hi Ken:
          Been working on on my mission statements and business trading plan. I would like to model you – day trading (if you have no objections)
What are your beliefs that I could/should find useful.
Thanks Matt
===========================
my preliminary answer
i am on a journey of eliminating beliefs, trying to show cause why ANY belief is necessary as opposed to accumulating beliefs
i believe therefore that a couple essential beliefs are helpful; maybe these are attitudes more than beliefs:
1. Ask: what’s the evidence for this belief? Why is it necessary to have a belief on this subject?
2. What is a proper degree of confidence to hold on the basis of the evidence available?
3. What are the limits of the belief?  or alternatively:  how robust is this belief?
or, from a constructivist perspective: what is the utility of this belief-structure? What are the characteristics of the scaffolding? What does it allow me to do?
or Practically:
if you look at my daily and weekend report, I would say that each indicator/report-chunk is there because I have some belief that they have information content
or Specifically:
each published system has statements of core beliefs, assumptions, models, rules that stand together as a whole
the RFA e-book has a ton of things that might reward the research
my video on “Edges” recorded at an IITM workshop is probably a useful collection of beliefs
i have a very strong belief in the sayings of  Mark Twain with respect to human nature and behavior and in the sayings found in the complete book of Murphy’s Law when it comes to mankind trying to exert mastery over Nature, like “Measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, cut with an axe”
a lot of beliefs could be found in the chatroom archives where i respond to questions.  I find that questions push me to articulate beliefs out of the messy stew of ideas in my head at any time
whatever my belief sets  contain has to be large enough to stretch from the sparse beliefs and rules of the Frog to the increasingly complex RLCO-SQC framework
i am more interested in “intentional” action than I am in trying to find some kind of grand theory of everything for  daytrading; that’s in line with Feynman‘s belief that he was not trying to find ultimate truth, but rather simply trying to find out more about how the world works. I think that’s a healthy belief
i have a belief in the trade frames i make when i am preparing to act.  i believe they represent reasonable reward: risk ratio opportunities.  I believe that the habit of framing consistently builds proficiency an effective action/mental muscle memory and that over time provides an effective way to internalize adaptive judgement
start with the frog and RLCO frameworks; watch the live trading tapes and listen to my commentary for a belief set, especially when i am marking up the charts to try to create sense, sense enough to act
probably not the specific answer you were looking for, but it’s a start

commentary on managing change

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Motivation

Creating a vision

Managing politics

Manage transition

Sustain momentum

Can you crosswalk those five major activities to and AI approach?

How can AI positively affect each of those?

What can we do to reinforce new behaviors at the managerial level?

Once the speeches are over and the awards have been presented we all go back to our desk to start working, what changed is a result of our intervention?

How do we institutionalize the positive change?

reflections on Kotter’s change model and appreciative inquiry

May 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Change Management process ITIL

Change Management process ITIL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should organizations be looking at how to change themselves to adapt to an environment or should they look for environments in which their organization is prone to succeed and stay with what they know?
Those who believe in the latter approach, are advocates of the core competency model.
Kotter‘s model is concerned about minimizing error or avoiding it altogether. Can his model be reconciled with the positivist approach of appreciative inquiry?
Kotter’s model seems to emphasize the top-down approach through leadership, beginning with vision and having the leaders drive the change direction and change management. Only after the vision is established does he talk about communicating for buy-in. Does this bypass stakeholders for the sake of efficiency? Is there room in the Kotter model for good ideas from the bottom to dictate the direction of the organization?
Is it reasonable to expect that people at the bottom levels of the organization have sufficient strategic insight to be able to offer good advice on strategy?  In other words, is everybody’s opinion equally valuable?
In the face of resistance, how do we know when it’s time to persevere and push through or time to adapt?  One man’s persistence is another man’s stubbornness.
One of the principles of action research when it comes to making change stick is the importance of making changes in infrastructures and policies. That doesn’t seem to be part of Kotter’s eighth step. Is that an oversight?
When is innovation the enemy of efficiency? How do we know whether to prefer the new change over improving our current process through standardization and eliminating waste?

Making the Invisible Visible: Understanding Leadership Contributions of Asian Minorities in the Workplace

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

leadership

Image by Ed Gaillard via Flickr

This small quiet book on leadership deserves to become visible so that its message of quiet leadership can be absorbed into our business and political organizations worldwide.

Who are the invisible leaders? How do we make them visible?

Back up for a moment: SHOULD we MAKE them visible, or is our understanding of leadership in the Western mode, with the “Individual as Hero”, not all there is to the story?

The authors tackle the problems and opportunities of global leadership from an angle that would be seen as nontraditional by Western leaders but which addresses the reality of leadership in daily life as experienced by millions of people around the world.

Coming from a Western in military background, I’ve grown up in a leadership culture that prizes individual heroic approaches to direct action leadership. I’ve never felt like that reflected everything that needs to be said about leadership and that’s the central message of this powerful book.

Thatchenkery and Sugiyama conducted a multi-year study to examine what they call the invisible leadership style that they experienced as members of various Asian communities. What they call invisible leadership can be thought of as a cultural worldview built on the ideas that showmanship is the opposite of leadership, that what matters is teamwork and results in long time horizons that favor growth and development from the inside of the organization and that performance is examined and valued on the basis of what’s good for the team. Invisible leaders get the job done and trust that the results will speak for themselves. They value team performance, and dont expect leaders to be constantly self-promoting and trumpeting from the front.

The authors proceed to explore their sense of this phenomenon by conducting a thoroughly grounded research effort that incorporates quantitative and qualitative data and analysis using surveys, focus groups, interviews and case studies to develop their argument. It is a model of scholarly work that carefully identifies assumptions, limitations and constraints while pointing to areas of consensus and opportunities to apply their insights in the last chapter.

They’ve incorporated scholarship on the impact of culture, motivation theory, multiple models of leadership and globalization in their efforts. They examine the impacts of leadership style and philosophy on promotions, training, recognition and reward systems and considered how invisible leadership is affected by current management practices in developing metrics, management practices and counseling programs.

They carefully examined the very notion of the utility of categorizing leadership under the broad concept of “Asian”, which on the surface seems like it could be useful but which masks the very real richness and diversity that can be found in various communities of practice and social groups populated by people from India, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea etc who are living and working in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada and whose generational demographics and further complexity to the rich mélange that is their personal experience.

The study takes a cross-section of all of these personal demographic factors and adds a further dimension based on work factors like public versus private versus nonprofit institutions. No simple leadership model can do justice to such a complex sociological mixture, despite the loud proclamations of best-selling leadership book titles, and the promises of quick fix, simple formula leadership solutions. The authors findings resonate with Heifetz’s “Leadership Without Easy Answers “, and Deming’s advice to “eliminate slogans”.

The book begins what should be a long and continuing conversation to understand the real-life complexities of modern organizations and to find ways to unleash the power and quality of all our people. It suggests that organizations can begin to apply the insights of invisible leadership by asking the right questions, considering organizational policies about visible leadership, and the payoffs of supporting invisible leaders from both pragmatic and philosophical perspectives.

They carefully examine and debunk three common mental models that have plagued Asians in the United States, the UK and Canada. Asians have been variously seen as a model minority that has supposedly “made it” and shown the way for other ethnicities; as a “middle minority” without the social problems inherent in newly emerging groups but who are not quite yet co-equal with the majority and the experience of Asians as a group that is forever foreign. According to the study, these mental models are broadly perceived by Asians to affect them personally and professionally and get in the way of Asians being seen as individuals with rich personal narratives and unique circumstances.

The study examines the realities of glass ceilings in professional promotion patterns in a broad spectrum of typical organizations, relying on insights from personal interviews and government statistics to make the case. It avoids simplistic formulations and superficial conclusions and does a fantastic job of providing a rich background of context that suggests many avenues of research needed in the future.

The authors suggest that organizing around affinity groups rather than simple ethnic and social groupings can add real value to organizational dynamics. Considering the impacts of quiet leadership at all levels of the organization: strategic, operational and tactical can have powerful implications for policy and vision. They recommend organizations consider breaking with tradition of hiring outside leaders and rather concentrate more on growing their own from the inside as a way to acknowledge the power of tacit, long-term values based growth.

The authors don’t recommend a simple exchange of philosophies (“either-or”) but rather suggest that broader integration of multiple modes and perspectives on leadership will add value and robustness to organizational DNA.

I give this fine book my highest personal and professional recommendation, because it resonates for me on a personal and a professional level. It describes a style and philosophy of leadership that has gotten little to no attention in the scholarly or popular press and which I have witnessed to be enduringly effective. It treats a serious subject seriously and respects the broad diversity of opinion and scholarship that has been conducted in this area and yet finds many points of contention and new sources of information and inspiration. It’s offered in the spirit of scholarship and understanding and suggests new ways in which our global communities and people can be respected and make progress together.

Who should bear the risk? who should be the judge of value?

December 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Banking District

Image by bsterling via Flickr

If we have decied that our banks are too large to fail, then how about the following idea?

1. When an individual and a bank agree on a loan, its based on a shared estimate of the value of the home.

2. When a bank decides to underwrote a speculation then both the individual and the bank are betting that the price will go up and allow them to take on more downside risk

3. The individual takes the risk because they think they wont get stuck (greater fool theory plus tactical liquidity)

4. The bank takes the risk because they know there are greater fools to buy the house, tactically, or because the government (the greatest fool) will bail them out (strategic greater fool theory)

5. when there is tactical failure the individual loses all, the bank gets the cushion of the down payment or the property top resell

6. when there is strategic failure, all the risky individuals are crushed, and banks get bailed out with the money taken from prudent banks and individuals who didnt speculate.  This is the moral hazard problem.

7. Even in strategic failure, the banks dont lose, and cant lose, unless the entire world’s financial edifice is removed, but then we have total anarchy and bankers arent worse off than anyone else, plus they can live off the real assets they squirreled away along the wya. No real risk at all.

What we need is a way to put the risk on the banks up front, so that we shift the cost of failure from the prudent banks and individuals.

So, I am thinking that the bank needs to be the appraiser, and quote a price at which they guarantee they will repurchase the house from the borrower at any point in the lifecycle of the loan, at the individual’s demand. They can require a 20% down payment, so that they have a pool of capital to loan to others.  They will be conservative in their estimates of value, and will therefore be a brake on speculation.

This prevents individuals from eating all the cost of their own speculation alone.  banks wont let them speculate without skin in the game. Speculation will be inhibited. Banks will do a better job of appraising, since they will have to own their decision for the life of the loan. If there is a meltdown in housing prices, individuals, who are least capable of making those kinds of forecasts and judgments, dont get smoked on their loans because they can always demand the bank buy them out at the negotiated price. Now prudent individuals arent stuck with the cost of the bad speculative loans. Then if banks fail for having poorly estimated housing value, prudent banks get to buy their books at a discount.

This would serve to stabilize a conservatively priced housing market and prevent the socialization of costs  incurred by the worst risk takers at the expense of the prudent individuals and banks. Virtue will be rewarded

 

A most excellent resource for doctoral students struggling with their dissertation writing

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

coat of arms of the Palaiologos dynasty, the l...

Image via Wikipedia

Focused coaching for a price that’s a real value if you know the dollar value of your time.

My personal experience with doctoral writing was that you have to learn how to get out of your own way when it comes to writing. if you listen to the voice of criticism inside your own head, you end up trying to pre-answer all your emerging objections in the same sentence. You end up with a Byzantine sentence structure that is perfectly understandable to you but which is impenetrable to the casual reader