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Tools

The mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.
— CONFUCIUS

A leader depends on her ability to think clearly and creatively.

How do we sharpen our minds?  Is simply reading the latest ideas enough? We believe that our minds need more practice at thinking wisely and creatively.

If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.

― Buckminster Fuller

To support that process, we have developed tools to assist us in training our minds to think in new ways based on time-tested wisdom.

We call these tools wisdom jigs because they help us to hold our minds and ideas in a productive new relationship just like a woodworking jig allows us to customize our tools to produce the results we want again and again. Eventually, we internalize these tools, but until then, we use jigs to train ourselves.

Here are some sample jigs to get you started:

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Humanity

Basically, our organizations are groups of humans using a variety of tools and processes to produce something good in the world. We cannot escape that leaders are humans trying to help other humans in their pursuit of some goal.

We can try to augment, extend, and overcome our humanity, or we can seek to accept, enhance, leverage, and maybe even transcend our current conception of our humanity.

Humans are at once simply bags of plasma and stardust and the most powerful force for creativity and good known in the universe.

Great leaders keep alive this balance in themselves and in their teams. Great leaders meet the immediate needs of their teams well also holding them to their highest aspirations and possibilities.

How do we as leaders work with both of these realities in ourselves and in our teams?

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Creative Self Emergence and Rilke’s Poetry

If we are lucky enough to move beyond our basic needs for safety and belonging, we can begin the process of earning the esteem of ourselves and others.  A few lucky souls even get to move toward self actualization in Maslow’s model.

But, for many, leadership opportunities look like nurturing their own and other’s creative self emergence. Continue reading Creative Self Emergence and Rilke’s Poetry

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Leading With Operating Metaphors

I was scared and the team was concerned. I stood in front of fifty expectant and dubious faces–the newly combined sales and order processing team. Within a few months, we had to:

  • Eliminate a nasty conflict that divided the team
  • Move half the team to a combined space
  • Remove two order processing and tracking systems
  • Re-engineer the entire sales and order process
  • Double the size of the team

I knew the physics of change: to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The more we tried to do the greater the resistance from the team and the organization would be. I started up my PowerPoint and hoped my unorthodox approach worked. Continue reading Leading With Operating Metaphors