Blog

Holistic Thinking in a Subsystem World: Collaborating to Create Inspired Visions

During a summer hiking adventure in southern France, I had the opportunity to visit the Point du Gard. This structure is an ancient Roman aqueduct crossing the Gardon River and part of a 31-mile system that once carried water from the city of Uzès to the Roman colony of Nîmes. Built in the first century it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The aqueduct carried an estimated 44 million imperial gallons of water a day supplying baths, homes, and fountains to 50,000 citizens. Amazingly the height drop of the entire aqueduct’s length is only 56 feet, demanding a gradient of 1 in 3,000. What...

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The Importance of Being Grounded

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an address by David Petraeus, retired US Army General and CIA Director. Currently Petraeus is a Partner with KKR, chairman of the KKR Global Institute, and serves three separate universities in various roles; obviously a bright and accomplished individual.  And although I found his address engaging, what impressed me most was his sense of firm grounding.  He knows who he is. His self-knowledge radiated from the podium. Through good times and bad, wise decisions and stumbles, David Petraeus has a strong sense of self and the bigger world. The source of...

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Exploring the Possibilities

As we in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing the transition from long summer days into autumn coolness, I am reminded of the constancy of change. I welcome the four seasons as the changes in weather produce new exercise routines, social engagements, work patterns, community events and celebrations. Each season seems to usher in a new life chapter. But all change is not the same. Seasonal changes have a pattern, and we like to compare our previous experiences with the repeat of the pattern. How cold or hot is the season compared to previous ones; what is the nature of this seasonal...

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The Courage to Move from Comfort

For more than 20 years it has been a joy leading several two-week development courses each year for emerging leaders. One such program is known as Catalyst and it targets great managers in their quest to become great leaders. The elements of the program include current best methodologies taught by a rock star faculty; life planning and coaching; development of a demonstration project; and benchmarking. Yes, we benchmark organizations of all types and their leaders. So, upon the completion of another program just last week, my reflections center on the several of the top-notch leaders we...

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Retreating to Management Alone

Over the past few years my colleague Marvin Washington has invited me to engage with a number of strong organizations in the Canadian province of Alberta. Through the University of Alberta, these organizations have embarked upon multi-level programs of leadership development and demonstration projects. Among them are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Alberta Energy Regulator, and the Alberta Health Services. Each is undergoing transformative change. After working with these leaders over some time, a common theme has emerged, one not uncharacteristic of leaders around the world. Most...

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Leading Cultural Transformation

Read Stephen’s most recent article, Leading Cultural Transformation, published in the January 2015 issue of The Journal for Quality & Participation.

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