March 12, 2012

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ideasI was recently interviewed by Social-Hire as part of their Expert Interview program. It was a wide-ranging conversation about the changing nature of the workforce, the need for a radically new kind of organizational leadership, and how to attract and retain talent in this age of networked knowledge that we’ve created.

Here is a brief excerpt that reflects my perspective on why so many of us are frustrated and discouraged about our work experiences:

I have seen far too many instances of organizations mismanaging people, missing opportunities and losing talent because their leaders do not understand the misalignment between today’s work and workforce, on the one hand, and their leadership practices, on the other.

The nature of work itself has changed over the past several decades. Yet most organizations are still managing as if their employees just came from the farm to the city and need to be told what to do as they take their place on the assembly line. We’re using 19th-century industrial-age management practices in a 21st-century age of networked knowledge.

As a result, millions of people are unhappy at work, organizations are operating well below their potential, leaders are frustrated, and almost everyone feels stressed out. In spite of the moderate uptick in the economy, no one I know believes things are working they way they should be.

In one sense, the problem is simple: the world has changed in several fundamental ways, but the way most organizations operate has not. There is a terrible misalignment between the work and the workforce, on the one hand, and our leadership principles and practices, on the other.

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JessPettittJessica Pettitt ( is an expert on social justice, diversity, and organizational effectiveness. She is also a nationally known speaker, facilitator, trainer, and consultant. She works with organizations that “want to have tough conversations with humor and a sense of history.”

I recently heard Jessica address the Northern California chapter of the National Speakers Association. Her topic was “Be Yourself; Everyone Else is Taken.” Here I want to share just a few of her insights about how to find what makes you special and share your gifts with the world.

First you have to get over the feeling that you don’t matter, and just get to work sharing your values and your experiences with the world. And accept the fact that, while it may feel as if there are no new ideas in the world, what matters is applying your own perspectives about those ideas to the challenges you face every day. [click to continue…]


worktechWorkTech is one of the best one-day opportunities you can find for learning the latest insights about the future of work. Phillip Ross and his Unwired Ventures team always  assemble a mind-bending and eye-opening program filled with success stories, thought leaders, and provocative insights.

Architect, industrial designer, and visionary thinker Robert Luchetti will be keynoting the annual WORKTECH15 New York City conference on May 13 & 14, Time and Life Building in Midtown Manhattan (The one-day event is May 14, preceded on the 13th by a special Master Class featuring intensive interaction).

Robert Luchetti and Phillip Stone published “Your Office is Where You Are” in the Harvard Business Review in 1985. In this seminal article, they presented their creation of and predicted the concept of “activity based working.” In his keynote presentation at WORKTECH15, Robert Luchetti will revisit their predictions and take a critical look at what they got right and wrong and present a critique of the current state of the workplace.

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This past Saturday my local chapter of the National Speakers Association (Northern California) was graced with the presence and wisdom of two incredible women – Karen Jacobsen and Jessica Pettitt. Their presentations, while very different, both offered powerful life lessons that struck close to home for me.


My first selfie ( Karen’s on the right)

Today I will focus on Karen Jacobsen’s message; next week I’ll share some equally important insights from Jessica Pettitt.

Karen is an amazingly talented singer, performer, and keynote speaker. Her claim to fame is that the she is the iPhone’s Siri in Australia; her voice is on more than 100 million smartphones and over 300 million GPS units worldwide.

She calls herself “The GPS Girl,” but Karen’s deep passion is helping people “recalculate” their lives and their personal journeys – a far higher calling than helping you find directions for getting to that quaint little Italian restaurant across town. [click to continue…]


Young businesswoman holding a moleculeI spent last week in Orlando, Florida, attending the annual spring Facility Fusion Conference hosted by IFMA.

Today I want to share some core ideas that grew out of one of the best sessions I attended. It was part of the “WE” (Workplace Evolutionaries) track, presented by Kay Sargent. Kay is a trained architect and experienced workplace designer; she is now Director of Workplace Strategies for Lend Lease Development.

Kay’s presentation was titled “Unlocking Your Corporate DNA.” She directly confronted the incredible tendency that so many workplace designers (and senior executives) have to copy the latest and greatest workplace design being touted by Google, or Apple, or Facebook, or some other “hot” tech company or Wall Street darling of the month. [click to continue…]


It starts with a conversation.

Last Saturday’s cartoon pages here in the United States contained a hidden gem of wisdom. In a simple three-panel cartoon (“Zits” by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman) two teen-aged boys confronted a pithy reality about humanity’s journey through time:

Zits April 18, 2015

Copyright Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

Jeremy: “Do you think about your future, Pierce?”

Pierce: “I try…but technically every second my future becomes my past.”

Jeremy: “So it’s almost like you have no future.”

Pierce: “That’s what the guidance counselor keeps saying.”

(to see the entire original, go to

As the television sports announcer Jim McKay once said of a star athlete, “His whole future lies ahead of him.” And of course, that’s true for all of us; one of our strongest, and most common, yearnings is to know what lies ahead. What’s around the corner? What’s over the horizon?

Those are interesting questions for us as individuals, but they are essential for organizations. [click to continue…]


Who ARE Those People?

April 13, 2015

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Last week I wrote about how to decide who to invite to your meetings (“Who’s on the Invitation List?“).

It’s also critical for you to leverage those Participants’ unique experiences and skills in order to make your meetings meaningful for everyone. Now I want to share some thoughts on how you can gain insight into what those Participants think and how they actually feel about the conversation.

There are two questions to pay attention to:

  1. Who are the Participants as human beings? What talents, experiences, and expectations do they bring to the meeting?
  2. What are their organizational roles? How do those roles affect their goals and behaviors in the meeting?

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Group of Diverse Multiethnic People in a MeetingLast week I commented on the power of being clear about why you are convening a meeting (“What’s This Meeting For, Anyway?”). Now it’s time to think about who should be invited to the meeting how to anticipate the value that each Participant will bring to the conversation, and the challenges they represent.

There are three basic questions to think through about the Participants in any meeting:

  1. Who do you want or need to be in the meeting? Who are the stakeholders who will be affected by the meeting’s outcome? Who has information, insight, or experience that is relevant and might affect the decisions or other meeting outcomes?
  2. Who are the participants as individual human beings? That is, what are their individual values, perspectives, talents, and experiences? What are their personal needs and objectives?
  3. What are the participants’ organizational roles? What are their formal responsibilities? How are they measured and rewarded for their work? What kinds of personal and organizational pressures might they be feeling? I am not suggesting that you need to spend endless hours preparing for every meeting; but I do want you to give these kinds of questions explicit attention as often as you can before you walk into that meeting room and launch the conversation.

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ManagersThere are something like 11 million corporate meetings held every day in the United States alone. Yet most of us would rather be somewhere else.

But if your meetings are well-planned they can be highly productive, fun to be part of, and even personally satisfying.

The first step in creating a memorable meeting is to be very clear about why you are calling the meeting. [click to continue…]

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