I’ve been aware of much work on personal communication styles — how we each can best receive support, advice, criticism, support, validation, etc. And, of course, there are various personality models that help us understand all these things.

But I’m aware of much less work characterizing organizations.  Thus I set about to put together this simple model.  I present it here as something in process, for discussion and validation only. Please add your commentary.  And if you’rereading this through another blog or medium (such as a LinkedIn group discussion), please make sure that you post here any comments that you post there as well .Image

I characterize organizations along two dimensions:

Traditional  . . . Visionary

Weighty . . . Agile

And the, for each quadrant, I’ve assigned a name:

A traditional organization, that has some agility but not vision, is Awkward.

A traditional organization, that is more weighty than agile, ia probably Stuck.

A visionary organization, that remains weighty, is truly Reaching.

And, finally, an organization that is both visionary and truly agile is truly Creative.

Although I suggest that this characterization is for organizations, it may better fit organizational segments, perhaps a department or work group.

How helpful is this model?  Are the quadrant names appropriate and helpful?  And how useful is this picture to you?  Please comment.

A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.

She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat.

She also had hundreds of  yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, and her torso, and a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Faralon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed for help.

Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the  only way to save her was to dive in and untangle  her — a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.

When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, nudged them, and pushed gently, thanking them.

Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.

The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was  following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

May you, and all those you love, be so fortunate … To be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.

And may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

“Forgiveness is not condoning. It’s not giving up. It’s not making the other person right. It’s not allowing for future injustice.

It’s setting yourself free of resentment so you can experience more peace and ease right here and now.”

by Sylvia Brallier (originally posted on her Facebook page)

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what heaven and hell are like.

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.”

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.”

Sorry, I don’t know the source of this parable.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.

Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the top musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written,with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing.

– Unknown writer, but see this link for more information.

About creativity

November 24, 2009

Creativity requires the courage to be free!  You don’t look for a creative idea, a great photo, a wonderful tune.  You look, look inward, and see what you find.  What you find may be your own creation.

This must become a discipline, a practice.  It will never be perfect.  But, once in a while, a great creative piece may emerge.

 

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds.

There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you.

Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

– T.H. White, “The Once and Future King”

Each week I’m delighted to receive  “A Pause for Beauty” — a wonderful newsletter that comes free of charge from Heron Dance. Each issue contains a beautiful watercolor illustration (the original is for sale,  as are cards, prints, etc), along with some spiritually enriching or life affirming text.  The following arrived with issue #144 (sent July 14, 2002):

“One does not need to fast for days and meditate for hours at a time to experience the sense of sublime mystery which constantly envelops us. All one need do is notice intelligently, if even for a brief moment, a blossoming tree, a forest flooded with autumn colors, an infant smiling”.

“Simon Greenburg”, from “A Grateful Heart” by M.J. Ryan

The reality that is present to us and in us:
call it being … Silence.
And the simple fact that by being attentive,
by learning to listen
(or recovering the natural capacity to listen)
we can find ourself engulfed in such happiness
that it cannot be explained:
the happiness of being at one with everything
in that hidden ground of Love
for which there can be no explanations….
May we all grow in grace and peace,
and not neglect the silence that is printed
in the centre of our being.
It will not fail us.

Thomas Merton, in “Prayers for Healing”


“Designers don’t follow trends — we make them”.

Quote from Brook DeLorme, clothing designer, as she spoke before a business networking group, and was asked how much she follows and responds to fashion trends.  Her web site is www.Brookthere.com, and her store / workspace is located at 37b Wharf Street in Portland, Maine.

Do I need to say anything more?  Isn’t this aphorism enough?  I thought so.

But I posted this aphorism on Facebook a while ago, and received the following query:

I’m Jewish, so of course I am now sitting here worrying about what if I won’t be able to worry later? Will I have to do all my worrying now just in case? I’m worried!
Can any of you help him out?

 

The Book of Tea

October 29, 2009

“The Book of Tea” by Kakuzo Okakura is one of my favorite books.  It is, of course, about much more than tea itself.  Here are the opening paragraphs from the first chapter — “The Cup of Humanity”:

“Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism–Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

“The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe. It represents the true spirit of Eastern democracy by making all its votaries aristocrats in taste.

“The long isolation of Japan from the rest of the world, so conducive to introspection, has been highly favourable to the development of Teaism. Our home and habits, costume and cuisine, porcelain, lacquer, painting–our very literature–all have been subject to its influence. No student of Japanese culture could ever ignore its presence. It has permeated the elegance of noble boudoirs, and entered the abode of the humble. Our peasants have learned to arrange flowers, our meanest labourer to offer his salutation to the rocks and waters. In our common parlance we speak of the man “with no tea” in him, when he is insusceptible to the serio-comic interests of the personal drama. Again we stigmatise the untamed aesthete who, regardless of the mundane tragedy, runs riot in the springtide of emancipated emotions, as one “with too much tea” in him.”

Why Design Matters

October 4, 2009

“Design Matters because it is the essence of how we move our bodies and souls throughout our lives; the invisible hand that guides us through our day; predicts whether we move effortlessly through our process, or are encumbered by the obstacles.  It is part of us when we live, eat, sleep, work, laugh and cry.  It is the unspoken intimate sparkle, smile and gift of our shared existence; with the beauty of a system, building, artwork, or of nature’s undisturbed serenity.”

Written by Deidre Johnston in response to a query I posted seeking help for an article I plan to write on this subject.

This poem answers the question so beautifully that I post it here (with Deidre’s permission) as a statement by itself.

Choosing how we spend our time

September 29, 2009

I was at a photography show, met a friend and talked about the creative work I’m doing, and about the creative work she’s not doing, and about art and spirit and about love of teaching, and about  living passionately in our lives and about creativity and activismand about creating art.

Then we drifted into talk about politics and the CIA and rendition, and — here’s the point of this  — then we looked at each other and said, “This is not what we want to talk about here”.

And yet we drift into avoiding those subject, and those hard questions, that mean the most to us.  How do we keep ourselves on track — which may be on the difficult track?

Learning how others see one’s work can be a frightening trap when one lacks confidence or passion, but can be illuminating when it informs a passionate and committed soul.

“Thank you for seeing that the Obama speech was not an attempt to save his campaign, he was trying to save his country. He has already begun the work of president.”

– Daniel Minter

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