Category Archives: Innovation

Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

In my role at SGR, I conduct a lot of reference checks. A question that I often ask is how a reference deals with pressure and stress. Answers vary from remaining calm to breaking down larger projects into smaller tasks to creating an enjoyable and fun atmosphere that alleviates stress and pressure.

When asking this question to others this week, I wondered what people would say about me if they were asked this question. Walks around looking like she is going to explode?  Furiously creating task list after task list? Eyebrows constantly furrowed?

A city manager recently told me that in their review, they were told “spend time taking care of yourself.”  In a way, a personal statement like that seems odd to include in a professional review. However, it is extremely important for an organization for their leader to be able to handle pressure and stress.

When you are relaxed, you are comfortable in your role and can focus on the tasks at hand and the strategy of the overall organization. When stress invades, it is hard to see the next task, much less the strategy behind each decision.

When I am stressed, I am always running behind. When I am stressed, I wake up in the middle of the night to add something to my task list. When I am stressed, I am checking my phone constantly and thinking about what I need to be doing instead of talking to my toddlers.

When I am at my best, I find that I am usually eating clean, exercising regularly, organized at work, and spending quality time with my family.

You may have different things that you do to stay at your best and to relieve stress, but, generally, these things seem so simple. Why is it that we only do these things when we have free time? Why do we dedicate so little time to them each day?

I know a number of very successful city managers that schedule a run each work day. It is scheduled as a meeting on their calendars and everyone knows that is sacred time.

I challenge you to spend a few moments reflecting on what gets you to your best. Then, find the time each day on your calendar to ensure that happens.

Take care of yourself – your organization will be better because of it.

Katie

Written by:
Katie Corder
Executive Search Manager
governmentresource.com

What’s Your Message?

Anheuser-Busch has a history of innovative marketing and advertising campaigns. One of my favorite childhood commercials featured the three frogs named Bud, Weis, and Er. With Anheuser-Busch’s attention to detail and marketing creativity, I was shocked to see their failed marketing initiative this week as part of their #upforwhatever campaign.I-immediately-regret-this-decision-anchorman

The social media campaign, which was comprised of various slogans written on Bud Light bottles, asked customers to record themselves living out the slogan on their bottle and upload it to social media as #upforwhatever. Anheuser-Busch intended for the campaign to encourage spontaneous fun with a new slogan that appeared this week and read, “The perfect beer for removing no from your vocabulary for the night.  #upforwhatever.” tumblr_m7yzzfS5Eq1rpmhcs

Instead of promoting spontaneous fun, the public was outraged with the thought of promoting unwanted sexual assault. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that approximately one-half of sexual assaults in America involve alcohol.tumblr_m7jy2fWL8B1r79z72o1_500

I tend to agree with Christopher Ingraham, a reporter for the Washington Post, who wrote, “After this incident, it’s frankly dumbfounding that the latest tagline made it through countless levels of review and ended up on a beer bottle—especially given the close links between alcohol consumption and sexual assault.”

Bud Light vice president Alexander Lambrecht responded, “It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark and we regret it.”

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As you can see by this fiasco of a mega-corporation who has numerous levels and review processes related to their advertising and marketing, an organization’s message can unravel quickly. Anheuser-Busch went from being a company promoting spontaneous fun to being a company in which consumers question their values.check-yourself-before-you-wreck-yourself

In your organization, you need to focus on your message daily. From media communication, community newsletters, internal communication, and economic development advertising, you are marketing your city daily to not only your residents, but all potential customers.

Use your core values as a guide and plan your message accordingly. Check your message and repeat it often.

Katie

Written by:
Katie Corder
Executive Search Manager
governmentresource.com

Five Takeaways from Creativity, Inc.

“What is the best book you’ve read?”

burgerI get that question a lot. I never have a good answer. It’s like asking “what’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?”. There are so many ways to think about that question – the most memorable (one in Alaska), the best food (ok – maybe that same one in Alaska), the one I needed most (one after an exhausting five set tennis match, many, many years ago). And then, there are variations – the best barbecue you’ve ever had (I’ve eaten great barbecue from each of two of my brothers, one of whom was state champion more than once a few years back), the best Mexican food, the best… You get the idea. In other words, there is no “best meal ever” answer.

And, maybe except for The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and my favorite Nero Wolfe novel (The Doorbell Rang), there is no answer for the “best book you’ve ever read” question either.

The best book is the one that gave me what I needed, at the time I needed it and, at times, it almost does not matter how good a book it actually is if it gives me what I need at the moment.levarburtonlaforge

{I think back to when The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck was recommended to me a few decades ago, at a critical time in my life. The book seemed to have been written for me. That’s one that pops into my mind pretty regularly}.

So, with these thoughts… I have a book to recommend highly. Don’t dismiss it too quickly. You may think it is just a story about the success of Pixar. Yes, it is that… but it is so much more.

pixarThe book is Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull (President of PIXAR Animation and Disney Animation), with Amy Wallace (New York: Random House. 2014). I read it, and prepared a synopsis for this book, at the request of and for a private client. (I think I will either present it at a later First Friday Book Synopsis, or simply record my synopsis and put it up on our companion 15minutebusinessbooks site).

This may be as good a book as I have read about:

steveJobs

How to work with powerful personalities (think Steve Jobs), how to manage the balance of “task-master” and “freedom” with creative people; how important it is to embrace and learn from failures and mistakes in the pursuit of the end success…

The list of valuable insights in this book is really long.

Here are some key thoughts gleaned from the book:

  • Build a team; give them freedom – but, freedom in service of a common goal…
  • Maybe the biggest problem: the unending resistance to change
  • Find the problems; see the problems, find the problems…
  • Braintrust – constant questioning… (with “straight talk”)
  • Honesty is ok, but candor is better, and essential! (candor = a lack of reserve)
  • The team comes first – first the team, then the ideas! (not the other way around — (To me, the answer should be obvious: Ideas come from people. Therefore, people are more important than ideas).
  • Truly, truly, genuinely expect that the unexpected will arrive
  • Randomness will happen!
  • “Be wrong as fast as you can…”Ed Catmull
  • Be careful where you let your “Steve Jobs” go, and where you let him (her) speak up…
  • Failure is not only inevitable, but also valuable; good
  • Conflict is good; necessary
  • The successful ones have to mentor the new ones!
  • Use “inclusive” furniture
  • “The stick propping the door open was too small” – every detail matters!

If you manage people, especially if you manage creative people, this would be a valuable book for you to read.

Here are my 5 lessons and takeaways from the book:

  1. Learn as widely — (as many skills) — as you can
  2. Learn to observe (take field trips to see…everything)
  3. Learn to practice candor – it is essential!
  4. Really, truly, give everyone a voice
  5. Keep making everything, every part of everything, better!

Seriously, this may be just the book you need at this moment in your business life.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Following Your Dream

texas-nyan-oTrue to my Texas roots, I have always listened to country music. Two of my long-time favorite artists are Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, so I was ecstatic to receive tickets to Garth’s World Tour as a Christmas gift from my thoughtful husband this year.

Surrounded by swarms of country music fans in the great city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was reminded of the beauty of country music. It’s not just the easy harmonies or the sound of the string instruments that make me love this genre – it’s the stories. From the cowboy ballad to country pop, each song tells a story. The songs can make you laugh; they can make you cry; and they can inspire you to do better.

When I began my career in city management, I was constantly asked if I liked my job. My response was always that I love this field because I feel like I am helping people and every day is different. Years later, I realize that the constantly changing myriad of tasks, community issues, and critical service needs that arise daily make it hard for the leaders in local government to stay focused on the overall leadership of the organization. Some days you do not try to make anything better – you just try to get to the end of the day. Some days you do not accomplish a single thing. Some days are twelve steps back from the previous day.

In The River, Garth Brooks compares being a dreamer to a river. Read through two verses of this song below and think of the leadership of your organization. Baby steps are sometimes needed or there might be a huge “road block” that you have to overcome. However, you should not give up on pushing the dreams. I hope it inspires you to continue to follow your dream for your organization.

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what’s behind you
And never knowing what’s in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores…and

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide…yes

Katie

Written by:
Katie Corder
Executive Search Manager
governmentresource.com

Finding Creativity in Boredom

How many times have we heard that someone has their best ideas in the shower? Is that because showers are one of the only times that we are required to be “unplugged?”

Last month, SGR’s 10 in 10 highlighted an article on a topic that I have been continuously pondering for the past few months. In One woman’s plan to take your creativity back from your phone — by making you bored, Adam Wernick explored a project called “Bored and Brilliant” and the over-utilization of our smart phones and other media outlets. The brief article highlights Manoush Zomorodi, blogger and host of the WNYC podcast New Tech City, who’s most recent post included a one-minute video on digital detoxing.

boredIn the article, she describes a story from her childhood where she gathered all of the plants at her house, named them, and then performed a concert for their benefit. She said she did this because she was bored! In general, society is no longer bored due to the invention and proliferation of the smart phone and, Zomorodi argues, the amount of time and attention we give to our smartphones prevents us from putting our brain into “idle mode.” Her latest project, Bored and Brilliant, studies the intersection between boredom and creativity and encourages us to turn off our phones and spend more time on creative thinking. To assist with her project, she created an app called Moment that tracks the amount of time that you spend on your smart phone each day and how often you check it.

bored4A few months ago, a group of girlfriends and I completed a social experiment that required us to go without media for an entire week. Our media fast included television, emails that were not strictly work-related, texting, and social media. For an entire week!  After my complete addiction to Facebook was demonstrated during the first day when I could barely contain myself to not catch a glimpse of my constantly updating newsfeed, I managed to overcome my non-media boredom. Instead of television, I read an entire novel during the week. I was also more present with my children and my work tasks list was amazingly completed during daytime hours. The week taught my friends and me many things, but I think the biggest message was this: we need simplification in our daily lives.

bored3At work, how many of us use our email inbox as our to-do list? Does everything that is important to your community transform into an email? Then why do we let electronics determine how we spend our time?

When was the last time that you spent a significant amount of free time pondering the strategies of your management or the challenges of your community? Have you been able to find boredom? Or do you look to the latest newsfeed, tweet, fantasy sports ranking, and so on to fill the time you could be spending immersed in the boredom that leads to creative innovation? Imagine the creative renaissance your organization would experience if exposure to media was limited and high-level strategies were pondered! bored7

Whether you try the Bored and Brilliant method or utilize the Moment app, I challenge you to unplug from all media outlets for five to ten minutes each work day and concentrate on strategies for your organization. Where is your organization today? Where is your organization going? How are you going to get the organization there?

Let’s find out where boredom and creativity can take your organization.

Katie

Written by:
Katie Corder
Executive Search Manager
governmentresource.com

A Well-Timed, Well-Placed Encounter with a Two-By-Four

Maybe you need an encounter with a well-placed two-by-four…

I was talking to a top-level business consultant. He is brought in to fix some small problems, some process problems, and sometimes, some big problems.

When the problem has a process fix, it is a matter of: take these steps, implement this process. It’s work; hard work. People resist such process changes. But, it is doable.

But, sometimes, the problem is really big. It is some version of this problem:

This person, at or near the top of the organization, needs to change his/her behavior in specific ways. In other words, actual change in the way people act and behave. We may call some of these kinds of changes “soft-skills” changes. But there is nothing soft about them. And they can make a huge difference.

So, I was asking this consultant, how do you get someone to make such a big change. Especially when this change may be related to a career-long (multi-year) weak spot. He acknowledged that sometimes, the person does not change. And unless he actually owns the company, that can be the beginning of the end.

wrasslin'And he said that in order to get them to change, you have to hit them with a great big two-by-four. (Note to reader – this is metaphorical). You have to really, really, really get their attention. And only when they say, “Yes, I in fact do have this problem” is there then any chance of change and progress.

In the ancient field of rhetoric, this is akin to the idea of stasis – you bring the person (the audience) to a standstill; a point at which they say “I can’t keep thinking, feeling, and/or acting this way.” (You know, Step 1 of the Twelve Steps…)

Until a person comes to that point, there is no chance for the needed change to come about.

And, if you study books about top leaders (Focus by Daniel Goleman is one such book), you learn that the higher up a person is in an organization, the less likely it is that someone can or will wield that two-by-four.

So, maybe what many leaders need is a good encounter with a well-placed and well-timed two-by-four. Which leaders have the guts to seek out such an encounter; or to even allow that encounter? And which leaders are lucky enough to have someone around them who will do the wielding?

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Coach Your Own Self: Unfettered Mental Innovation

peterPeter Burchard is a multi-sector consultant, university instructor, and author. He has served as a city manager, health care executive, and as a board member for numerous organizations. He was the city manager of Naperville, Illinois and village manager of Hoffman Estates, Illinois. He served as the chief operating officer for inVentiv Medical Management in Augusta, GA. He serves on the board for the NIU Alumni Association and GreenFields-Mill Creek, a continuing care residence. Previously, Peter served on the boards of Hoffman Estates Medical Center, the Suburban Law Enforcement Association, and the Alliance for Innovation. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northern Illinois University. Reach Peter at:  peterburchard.com


What do you remember about the times when you were on the edge of a new insight or action and you hesitated?  A breakthrough might have happened, could have happened, but didn’t happen. Something other than the new idea prevailed.

To what extent do you look back and ask “What if?”  Do you ask yourself “What kept me from trying that new idea or listening to another?” To what extent is your self-defense and self-talk the best explanation for saying “No?”

We need new and unfettered approaches for seeing problems and opportunities differently. (Tweet This)

Think about this declaration: “I will bring more of me to life by how I think about innovation!”  What a wonderful possibility. Your deeper resourcefulness emerges because you created the right desire and circumstances. You helped to create the right culture and encouraged deeper conversations. You started with your own thinking, intent, and words. Critically important, you learned to push-back against the inclination for sameness. You see this mindset as a better way to serve.

Recently, I taught a master’s degree level class in innovation. We covered the processes of innovation. We studied the idea of an innovative mind. We discussed the many definitions of innovation. We dug deep into disruptive innovation.  We learned that innovation has many forms and treatments.

In this column, my emphasis is on sharpening your mental preparedness for innovation. (Tweet This)

Here are some ideas for opening that door:

  1. Resist the temptation to go along with your current thinking. See how you are. Let new and different have a larger say in your mind. For example, be determined to see problems and roadblocks from the perspective of others. Put your view on hold. Encourage empathy for different points of view. Learn to be curious about what others don’t like or agree with. Resist the inclination to be defensive over prior decisions.
  2. Related to the above, double down on your inquiry skills. One or two questions won’t build rapport and opportunity. Explore at length what others (co-workers, professional journals, customers, surveys, citizens) say and think. Create new thoughts based on the combined thoughts of others and what you’ve learned. Encourage others to make inquiry of you.
  3. Watch out for self-deception and a belief that you’ve already conquered the skills of innovation. Recognize the stories you tell yourself that may be keeping you and others from being more innovative and relevant.
  4. Avoid people who make it a practice to squash ideas. Ask them about their reluctance. Also avoid people who like to cut off discussion and say “Can’t we move on.” Deep innovation requires new found patience.
  5. Don’t define being rational as how you think. Redefine rational as being the practice of thinking with others deeply involved – where resistance, ideas, questions, new data and “what ifs” are incubated. Create a process and discipline for innovation and creative thinking. Call it, as others do, a “skunk-works.”
  6. Look for a method for having thoughtful, fun and rigorous conversations. I highly recommend the book titled Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. The author’s methods are used world-wide to practice great conversations. The conduct of conversations and rigor in thinking is an essential starting point.
  7. Do not rush to solutions. Often, the rush to solve problems is also the rush to stay the same – to solve matters around the edges only – to get something off your to-do list. Quick problem solving is so tempting. Instead, intentionally let some problems go unsolved while expecting new thinking and effort. Let anxiety over problems grow. Unfetter people from coming to you. Even the routine reply of “What would you do?” can reinforce sameness and over-reliance on the boss. Cut the cord; leave it cut.
  8. Stop saying silly things to your subordinates and co-workers like “Be more positive” and “You need to come to me with solutions not just problems.” Instead, talk to them at length about what they see.
  9. Explore your resistance to new ideas and approaches. How quick are you to put up a “No” sign while saying you support new ideas? Let people get under your skin. Ask yourself how your own resistance is a roadblock to innovation. Spend time learning about your own self and how you might service an old perspective.
  10. Keep an eye out for those who are more open to new ideas and risk taking. Encourage them. Your semi-pro innovators are less likely to ask for permission. Unleash them. They’ll know when to check in.
  11. Spend time learning about what practices create the right culture for innovation. What innovative thinking processes do you expect from others? Edward de Bona may have been the most significant contributor to this approach.  Study lateral thinking – a term he coined.
  12. There are many kinds of innovation. Some innovation occurs because of a process improvement. Some innovation is tied to a new product or technology. Deeper innovation is likely the result of abandoning current methods and looking for a disruptive solution. Look for and practice all types of innovation.

We face a serious problem – our natural way of thinking constrains our possibilities. Do I romance how I currently think? My gross limiting factor may be how I constrain my current thinking. We may not see how our biases, experiences, beliefs, words and pride prevent us from a deeper and higher level of innovation and leadership. Consequently, in time, we become less relevant.

Let the ideas above trigger a better mindset. Let these ideas assure you that you are on the right path. Now is your time for unfettered mental innovation.

Write Peter at peter@peterburchard.com

5 Needs for Recruitable Folks

As in ancient times, talent has become the coin of the realm. Companies that multiply their human talents will prosper. Companies that don’t will struggle.
Companies need to hunt for talent continuously so as to capture people when they are ready to make a move. You have to reach people who aren’t looking for a job.
Everyone in the company should be a talent scout.
Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, Beth Axelrod Boston: The War for Talent

It’s a simple fact. Once you have the right product or service, then having people with talent makes a big difference.

This much we know for sure – the wrong people can send you plummeting in a hurry. It is the right people that set you up for the success you seek.

So, if you are going to win the war for talent, then you have to become ever-more intentional about getting the people with the best talent to come work with you.

So, imagine that you are one of those (possibly) ready to make a move. You are “recruitable.” What are you looking for in the company you move to? Here are five must-haves, five needs of recruitable folks…

#1 — I need the skills

If skill development, and continuing learning, is as critical as we think (and, it is!), then a company has to provide ongoing, perpetual skill development and learning opportunities.

The fact is that no one is equipped for the job they will be doing in the coming year(s). There are more things to learn, to keep up with. It is harder to “stay ahead” than ever before. Companies that understand this, and truly provide such ongoing skill development and learning opportunities, will be much more appealing to those who are “recruitable.”

#2 — I need the encouragement

Companies hire… people. These are real people, who need feedback – appropriate “negative feedback,” for improving their work; and much, much positive feedback. People like to be recognized for what they do well.

Every single leader/boss/supervisor/manager needs to become a master of encouragement. (The book Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner should be mandatory reading for everyone in a leading/managing position).

Put it this way: if people dread going to work because they are ignored, or constantly criticized, then they will go elsewhere if they have any talent at all. Your entire corporate culture has to become a culture of encouragement.

#3 — I need help with my pipeline

Though we talk about self-starters – and, self-starter skills and traits are truly wonderful – for those who are not the Super Bowl champion self-starters, they need help with their “pipeline.” When to contact others; who to contact; who to learn from; who to sell to; who to network with. Companies need to get really good at match-making assistance. Putting the right people in touch with the other right people.

In sales, this is obvious. Helping people in sales with their pipelines is an absolute must.

But, do not make the mistake of thinking that this is only about sales…

#4 — I need the rewards

First, the obvious. If a person is not paid enough (enough to take money worries off the table; enough to be genuinely competitive with other possible places to work) then you will not keep your best people.

But, after there is enough “money,” then it is the other kinds of rewards that matter. Go back to Kouzes and Posner’s recommendation to “personalize recognition.” Reward people for work well done, and give them tangible rewards that are unique to them (you “know” them as individuals, and reward them accordingly). Personalize their recognition.

#5 — I need to be happy when I show up at work

It really does boil down to this. If a person dreads going into the work place, they will be very “recruitable” by another company. If they love the people, the connections, the environment, the opportunities, the challenge, and they believe the work they are doing makes a difference for the better for people, they will be quite “unrecruitable.” A truly happy and productive person is really hard to steal away.

So, here they are.  “Recruitable” people think this way:

#1 — I need the skills
#2 — I need the encouragement
#3 — I need help with my pipeline
#4 — I need the rewards
#5 — I need to be happy when I show up at work

Provide all five of these, and you have a much better shot at recruiting those recruitable folks.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

It Won’t Happen by Accident (Make It Happen on Purpose)

It won’t happen by accident. At least, not usually. When it does, it is so rare you cannot possibly count on it. (And, yes, when it does, you have to jump to it and take full advantage of it. But, that’s another post…).

Since it won’t happen by accident, you have to make it happen on purpose, with planning, and intention, and execution, and…

What do I mean?

Your team won’t come together by accident.
Your team won’t work together well by accident.
Your leadership won’t be effective by accident.
You won’t be received well as a leader by accident.
Your product won’t be developed by accident.
Your product won’t be delivered, on time, and just right, by accident.
Your customer service won’t become and remain excellent by accident.
Your product won’t sell itself by accident – someone has to “sell it.”
You will not have company-wide excellence by accident.

The list could go on, and on, and on…

Basically, nothing good and lasting will happen by accident.

Pick any industry, choose any arena. You will find hard work (a solid, exceptional work ethic), and the ability to work together, and an eye for what’s working now, and what will not work, and what might work, tomorrow.

At the center of all of this is a clear focus on… focus. Intention. An on-purpose approach to every piece of your work.

The Purpose EconomyPlenty has been written about “the purpose economy.” (See the book The Purpose Economy, for starters). But, to function in a purpose economy, you have to have purpose, know your purpose, and then you have to do every facet of your work on purpose.

It won’t happen by accident. You have to “make it happen” on purpose.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Smarter Teams, Smarter Use of Technology, and a Smarter You

I went on a middle-of-the-night reading binge last night (couldn’t sleep). So, three thoughts, all from my reading…

Thought #1 – we’ve got to make our teams smarter.

This comes from Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others by Olimpia Zagnoli. She writes well about time wasted and effort wasted by teams done badly. And she proposes three ways to make teams smarter (all research-based…). Here are the three findings/suggestions:

Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.

Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.

Thought #2 – we’ve got to be smarter using our technology.

This one is not yet available to watch. But, in an upcoming debate at the great site IntelligenceSquaredUS.org, they’ve got quite an upcoming debate (May 13) on SMART TECHNOLOGY IS MAKING US DUMB. Here’s the descriptive paragraph:

Smart technology grants us unprecedented, immediate access to knowledge and to each other—a ubiquitous and seamless presence in everyday life. But is there a downside to all of this connectivity? It’s been said that smart technology creates dependency on devices, narrows our world to echo chambers, and impairs cognitive skills through shortcuts and distraction. Are smart tech devices guiding so much of our decision making that we are losing autonomy without even realizing it? Or are these concerns an overstatement of the negative effects of high-tech consumption?

I look forward to this debate. Just click over to take a look at the speakers debating the issue. (Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, is one of the voices arguing for the motion).

Thought #3 – We need smarter people; you need to be a smarter you.

This was the read for the weekend/month…maybe year. It is a very thoughtful, provocative essay: Among the Disrupted by Leon Wieseltier. Here’s the opening of the essay:

Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted. The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry.

And a few more excerpts:

And even as technologism, which is not the same as technology, asserts itself over more and more precincts of human life, so too does scientism, which is not the same as science.

Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life.

There is nothing soft about the quest for a significant life.

TecnnopolyThis essay reminded me of the warnings and insights of the still more than relevant Neil Postman in Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. Mr. Postman wrote this in the early 1990s, just before Netscape opened up the masses to the internet and the World Wide Web. After I finished reading this essay, I pulled my copy of Technopoly off my shelf, and re-read the opening pages. The essay, and Postman, made me think…

Anyway, let me say in the strongest possible terms, READ THIS ESSAY! It will help you think about being a smarter you in the midst of the current technology-rich cultural rumblings.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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