Everyone gets a seat at the table

In Ken Blanchard's Vision for America series he encourages us to have a vision of where we're going followed by treating us as partners in the drama.

Blanchard's third point: involve every sector of society followed by this assumption: no problem can withstand the assault of sustained collective action and thinking.

Blanchard cites the work from Swanson and Williams on the topic of three (3) domains in society.

  • The Public Sector – government, military, and education
  • The Private Sector – business, arts/entertainment, and media
  • The Social Sector – faith community, nonprofit organizations, and families

In Washington today, most of the focus on solving our problems in focused on 2 of 9—business and government. The other 7 of 9 are left on the outside looking in.

“I love the United States, but I’m worried about you."

"I don’t think you are going to get strong leaders in the future because your press does not understand the difference between freedom of speech and national integrity." (Lee Kuan Yew-almost 35 years ago)

In closing, Blanchard asserts that if the media was invited in to be part of America’s problem-solving team, they wouldn’t feel the need to set themselves up as judge and jury for our leaders and everything the government is doing. The reality is that all nine domains of society need to be involved for real problem solving to take place.

NEXT TIME: Winding this series to a close, "Bounded set versus centered set thinking."

Treat us as partners

In recent days, we've been talking at length on the topic of Ken Blanchard's "Vision for America" circa 2012.

Blanchard has laid out the first secret that would help our leaders bring America back to a healthy state: Create a compelling vision by knowing who we are (our purpose), where we’re going (our picture of the future), and what will guide our journey (our values). If our leaders had a clear, agreed-upon vision, it would help them set national goals they could focus on. But they shouldn’t try to figure everything out by themselves. That leads me to the second secret.

Secret 2: Treat US citizens as business partners

Basic premise here: the more people know, the greater their commitment to work together to solve problems. I'm reminded, this is what they taught us in my high school Civics class!

As leaders, we know the very worst thing that we can do is not be inclusive on our thinking. Particularly, when we hit a rough spot. Say, for example, we're not hitting our numbers on the sales side. Often times, I see leaders go in behind closed doors to deal with the problem. Often resulting in cuts. This most certainly results in a lot of surprised people when the layoffs come!

That’s why Blanchard thinks that many Americans don’t trust politicians—because they don’t treat the American people as business partners. They don’t share information with us. We know we’re going through a difficult time but we don’t really know all the facts. In essence, we're playing liar's poker with the politicians. Politicians are sitting around Washington trying to figure out solutions to our problems and they haven’t asked us to help.

Our leaders need to do the same thing. Be honest with us. Tell the American people what the issues are and then go to communities around the country, let us know how we can help, and listen to our suggestions. I guarantee you that the citizens of this country have lots of good ideas and are willing to work with our leaders to find solutions for America’s problems.

Jack Bowsher, former Director of Education for IBM, agrees with Blanchard's contention that Washington should treat our citizens as business partners. He argues, “To protect our way of life and our standard of living, we Americans must become more involved in seeking the truth about the key issues that are being debated and voted on at all three levels of our government.”

NEXT TIME: Involving every segment of society to solve our problems






Goals for the US

Recently, we have been reviewing Ken Blanchard's "Vision for America", circa 2012. By now, this is certainly an "oldie but a goodie" AND I'm surprised not much has changed in Washington since 2012.  Truth be told, much longer than that actually.

Blanchard states for a compelling vision to endure, you need four (4) elements.

Thus far, we have reviewed three (3).

In case you missed it, here is a quick re-capture for a compelling vision:

  • A significant purpose (know who you are)
  • A picture of the future
  • Clear values

The fourth element, GOALS, help people focus on the hear and now.

Jack Bowsher, a Blanchard protégé, suggests that we should put our collective heads together and develop national goals. As a start, Bowsher suggested these six (6) national goals:

  • Peace with strong defense and Homeland Security systems
  • Prosperity and a rising standard of living with high level of employment
  • Adequate and affordable health care system for all
  • Superior and affordable education systems
  • Efficient and affordable government
  • Decent retirement for senior citizens

You wouldn't get much pushback from me on these. I would augment fiscal responsibility however.

Blanchard states that candidates should spell out their goals together with plans and strategies to achieve them (just as any good business person would do.) Assuming we can agree on some national goals, we should expect vigorous debate on alternative ways to achieve them. Let the people decide by electing candidates, strategies and plans against a unified set of goals good for the country. Sounds about right.

NEXT TIME: Treat citizens as business partners.


Without values you have a free-for-all

In recent blogs, we've been reviewing an oldie but a goodie back from 2012 from author Ken Blanchard on the topic "Vision for America."

You might recall from previous installments that we have reviewed (and applied) two(2) basic tenets of a compelling vision:

  1. Our country's purpose or what business we are in as a country;
  2. Our picture of the future or where we are headed.

Today, we'll focus on our country's values. In other words, what values will drive our behaviors in the future?

Blanchard states that less than 10% of the companies that he has worked with operate with a compelling set of values. Ten percent!

Without values you have a free-for-all.

3-5 values (not 9-10) is typical for those who abide by them. Easy to remember and sharpens our focus.

In true Jack Welch fashion, I would encourage you to "force rank" your values. In other words, place them in order of importance and priority.

Mine (in order) Why? Sometimes values naturally conflict with each other.

  1. Grace
  2. Trust
  3. Empathy
  4. Stoicism
  5. GSD

Southwest Airlines values?

  1. Safety
  2. Warrior spirit (you have a job to do-do it!)
  3. Servant's heart.
  4. Fun-loving attitude

Blanchard says that the country is absent a set of values and as such it is a free-for-all. Values— when properly defined and aligned, endure.



What is America’s picture of the future?

Continuing our recent "unpacking & reprise" of past teachings and mentorship of Kenneth Blanchard's "Vision for America."

Today, we're going to talk about our picture of the future for America.

Blanchard (with a nod and a wink to Covey) would encourage us to think with the end in mind rather than the focus on the process of making the sausage.

Not abstract but rather a mental image that you can see. 

Jack Bowsher, former Director of Education for IBM and author of Educating Voters for Rebuilding America, suggests a picture of the future for our country that I think most Americans could get passionate about:

“Americans want to live in peace and be able to support themselves financially throughout their adult years with at least a middle-class standard of living. During their lifetime, they will need affordable health care and excellent education systems. … In their senior years, retired Americans should be able to continue living an independent life with the help of a government pension plus the income they can earn from their investments. Americans will always enjoy the personal freedom that the United States Constitution guarantees all citizens.”

(EDITORS NOTE: "For my nickel, that sounds about right.")

Recently, and in my view, we have lost our way. Purpose, who we are as a country is certainly a bit muddled; picture of the future? Equally muddled. We can do better—starting with placing the interests of others and the country first rather than enriching ourselves. 

So to summarize, the first and second aspects of a compelling vision—a significant purpose and a picture of the future—are powerful, but those two components alone do not create a truly enduring vision.

Next time: The third element–clear values.


Your (and the country’s) PURPOSE

Continuing our recent unpacking & "reprise" of past teachings and mentorship of Kenneth Blanchard's "Vision for America."

A compelling vision is comprised of three components. We talked a bit about knowing who you are (your purpose), where you are going (your vision for the future) and what will guide your journey (your values).

Let's drill down for a moment.

Your purpose need not be complicated. For example, my purpose? "Pay it forward as you can seldom pay back. I empower our next generation of leaders" (Hat tip to R.W. Emerson).

In its simplest terms, what business are you in? What does your personal brand stand for?

If you're interested, and again as an example, my mission: "Loving mentor and experiential evangelist of simple truths."

Continuing, my personal values: stoicism (no drama); empathy through conscience; GSD; trust

Another purpose example, Southwest Airlines, "SWA is in the customer service business—we just happen to fly airplanes."

Walt Disney World's purpose: "We're in the happiness business." Indeed! No mention of theme parks or animated cartoons here!

In closing, the why behind the what. The reason for your existence. 

Relating back to the recent theme of Blanchard's Vision for America. What business is the country in? Role model for democracy? Quality of life for the people that live here? "Make America Great Again?"

What do you think?

 NEXT TIME: What business is the country in?



Leadership pillar #1: Having a compelling VISION

In recent blogs, we have been profiling Kenneth Blanchard's Vision for America, circa 2012. 


Kenneth starts by asking the question, "Do America's leaders really know where they want to lead us?"

The first pillar: Have a compelling VISION.

Where are we going here?

"If people don't have a larger purpose to serve, the only thing they have to serve is themselves."

The country needs a clear and compelling vision. Vision properly stoked evokes passion and passion is what gets people excited and motivated to move. Otherwise, it is as if the country is putting one foot in front of the other every single day.

Blanchard reminds, "As the old saying goes, if you don't know which way you are going, any road will get you there." Less than 10% of us lead organizations that have a clear sense of where the organization is headed.

In closing, know who you are (your significant purpose); where you are going (your vision for the future); and what will guide your journey (your personal values).

What's YOUR purpose?

What is your vision for yourself and your organization? 

What are your personal values that will guide you on your journey?





My father used to remind me to never dabble in public conversation around the subject of politics.

He used to say "if you line 2 people up against the wall, chances are you'll piss at least one of them off with your views and perspectives." LESSON: stay above the fray and instead choose to be apolitical. There will be less friction in your life. I don't always toe the line on that and dad would be proud that I tried.

That reminder brings me around to the subject of today's blog.

You know Ken Blanchard? Or, maybe you know of him? Celebrated author & management expert. Google him. His most successful & seminal book, "The One Minute Manager" sold 13M copies! If you've read it, I would encourage you to go back and read it again. There are some enduring takes in there!

About 5 years ago, Mr. Blanchard waded ever so slightly into the topic of politics through his blog "A Leadership Vision for America." Consider this blog "a reprise"—this stuff never gets old. And please, if interested, feel free to Google & jump ahead!

Over the next several blogs, if you indulge me for a moment, I intend to parse that topic at least from this corner.

First take (and, in my view, validating the obvious)

  • Political discourse in America is presently in rarified air.
  • Rare agreement: seems to be universal disappointment in Washington and politicians in general.
  • More problems today than perhaps any point in our history. Little movement from our elected officials towards solving those problems.
  • Power of incumbency trumps just about everything else. (EDITORS NOTE: why would anyone in God's name, want this job?)
  • By observation, America is no longer that "shining city upon a hill" that Reagan so fondly embraced.
  • Over the next several blogs, Blanchard will expose 4 leadership secrets that might provide some illumination & motivation to a better, different result. Isn't that what we all want?

 NEXT TIME: the first of four pillars of leadership according to Blanchard





“Every goal is a project” (removing the bloat from your to-do list)

Was listening to a recent podcast from celebrated leadership mentor & productivity expert, Michael Hyatt. www.michaelhyatt.com

In the podcast, Hyatt stated, "While every goal is a project, not every project is a goal."

I had not heard this particular topic framed in this manner in the past. Since I have been recently seeking some additional personal clarity on this topic, and a different way of thinking about it, the statement startled me a bit.

I took out my pen and carved a few notes that I'll summarize here.

Continuing, Hyatt said if you confuse goals and projects, we end up with bloated task lists (EDITORS NOTE: overwhelm, like mine for instance!) and as a result, we make little progress on what matters most to us (and our success, at least as we define it).

3 Criteria for True Goals

Let's unpack this notion a bit further, so you can do something "actionable" (if you so choose)

3 things a project  must meet to distinguish it from a goal

  1. Challenge Goals live in your discomfort zone; projects live in your comfort zone. If it's not a bit risky, and doesn't require your full transformational creative attention and energy, it is probably a project, not a goal. For example, setting up a new Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks is a project not a goal; additionally think of updating your employee manual as a project, not a goal. Doing weekly expense or mileage reports: project not a goal.
  2. Excitement Over the course of a year, you'll have hundreds, if not thousands of projects. By the same token, you'll have fewer than 10 goals. If you're presently not motivated by your project, Hyatt suggests you strike it from your goal list or automate/delegate/outsource that project to someone else.
  3. Transformation It's not a true goal unless it has some sort of transformative effect on you and/or your business. To the contrary, projects are all about "maintenance" and "compliance." Goals are centered on quantum leaps forward. 

"Goals are centered on quantum leaps forward"

You want to dedicate as much of your energy as you can to tasks only you can do to move your life in a new, different and better direction.

SOURCE: Michael Hyatt 

PS I'm anxious to get back in control of my life. In the spirit of that, I recently subscribed to Michael Hyatt's planning system called Full Focus Planner. Care to join me on the journey? 


Your personal toiletries

Did you see this development recently as reported in the WSJ?

Seems moderate to high-end hotel operators like Marriott are jumping back on the bandwagon of eliminating personal size toiletries in their hotel rooms. 

As a veteran traveler who in the past spent 200+ nights a year in a hotel room, I thought the wall mounted communal sharing of personal toiletries like soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion was a relic from the past. (EDITORS NOTE: I never liked it then and I don't think I'll like the idea any better now; hate to admit it as I personally always looked forward to the travel size Neutrogena bottles!)

Now, I get it. They want us to know that they share our concern for the environment (disposal of all of those coffee K-Cups, er, shampoo bottles) and wastefulness (READ: "cost saving"). I can see it now. Next time in a hotel room, in the shower, fist bump the soap dispenser only to find out that it is empty!) You're talking about inconvenience!

Lest me be prematurely judgmental. It will be interesting to see how this development all works out over time.