I don’t have a real theme for what I learned in the seminar today. I enjoyed it more than playing games in W. Virginia. I will just list a few take away snippets. Most are not new but it is good to think about them again. Below, BTW, is a unrelated picture, again from my tree farm. This is the last of my pictures from my visit yesterday. I have posted them all now.
We took all did a survey that divided us into three categories: conservers, pragmatists and originators. The names imply what they are. Conservers are careful and circumspect. Pragmatist do what they think will work and are flexible. Originators are change catalysts. Each has weaknesses that are the mirror images of the strengths. I fall right on the edge between pragmatists and originators, a little into the originator and I am not surprised. I understand that I sometimes can be a little too enthusiastic, which is why I always try to make sure that I have conservers on my team. That was the lesson. A team is strong to the extent that it embodies diversity. The team is stronger than the sum of its parts because members fill in for each others’ weaknesses. It is like a diverse portfolio. I remember reading “Founding Brothers” by Joseph Ellis. Each of the founders had his flaws and strengths. The flaws could have ruined anybody as an individual. Together, however, they made a great team and produced a great result. The other lesson is that they didn’t have to TRY to work together. In fact their disagreements and even their animosity made the result better. It is uncomfortable to have disagreements, but it can produce better outcomes.
I also thought about “Decision Traps”. That is a great short book about how to come to decisions. The author talked about group decisions. It is kind of a Goldilocks and the three bears situation. If you have too much diversity and discussion, you never reach a conclusion. If you have too little, you get groupthink and a rush to judgment. You need the just right, but that is easier said than done. Beyond that, the longer a group stays together the more group think comes in. Finally, I thought about “The Wisdom of Crowds” and how the author says that you can often improve group decisions by introducing individuals with LESS expertise but also different viewpoints.
When working to foster useful change, you work with a combination of pushing and removing obstacles. It usually takes more energy to push than to clear the path and remove obstacles. The book that helped me understand this process was “The Fifth Discipline.”
I count the seminar successful to the extent that it makes participants think and I thought back to a lot of the decision literature I had read over the years. I was happy with the seminar today.
We also talked about the Embassy of the future and the differences between risk management and risk -avoidance. I thought those were interesting subjects, but I didn’t have any strong take-aways. You can download the PDF file re Embassy of the Future at this link.