[Advice] Listening to the Linchpins

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Education, Entrepreneurship, Negotiation, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

There are all of these stories out there.

A woman works in the billing department of a major company. She is passionate about her work, but she is also knowledgeable about tax laws. She sells vitamin supplements as a side hustle, and owns a piece of rental property. Her kids help her with the work on the rental property and she is able to buy them new Nikes.

A women owned her own business for ten years because she went to business school because her father wanted her to. She was always passionate about working with people. After ten years of operating and owning a business, she put that project aside to work in a company with people.

A man works to feed vulnerable populations at scale on a daily basis. He believes in the work so much, that he is running for political office as well.

A man knows more about food safety than you and I will ever know. He has trouble convincing his family though, that they should listen to him in his knowledge and take his advice. They all get sick following an outdoor picnic at a family reunion where the food was out, starting a cascade of conflict via text messages after the fact.

All of these people are linchpins. They create value and connection with the people around them, in order to grow their worlds. They are taking risks to expand their voices and the only thing that is stopping them from going further is themselves.

Listen to the stories around you.

The stories of the linchpins.

Because the chorus of stories is growing louder and louder and expanding out further and further and touching more and more lives in ways that matter.

[Opinion] It’s Up to MBAs to Save the World

By | Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Mediation, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Workplace, Workplace Development

Business students—modern day, Internet savvy, native users of the information superhighway we’ve all built for the last twenty or so years—can save the corporate world.

The unfortunate thing is that somewhere along the way to cashing out in a cushy consulting position, or advancing in organizations by whose culture they are troubled, someone forgot to tell them.

This is not unusual. Partially it’s due to the echo chamber of higher education—the faculty who teach from a worldview and frame set on preserving the world they teach in—and partially it’s due to a corporate world still focused (in spite of all the evidence of disruption to the contrary) on achieving cookie-cutter, command-and-control outcomes on a quarterly basis.

There are, of course, a range of types and varieties of business students, from undergraduate business majors, dutifully studying their work at second, third, and fourth tier institutions, all the way to community and junior college students “older-than-average” who return to business programs to either run a small business better, or to provide for their families.

Finally, there are the top tier, classic business school students from elite institutions who are studying to become the next masters of the universe. These are the ones that we traditionally think of as dominating the salaries and cultures of corporations and organizations where MBAs are hired.

Except, at all levels, the work that matters is shifting away from what a human used to do well toward what a computer can do better. Accounting, spreadsheet analysis, financial reporting, supply chain management, and on and on, really matter less and less as topical areas of focus and interest in a world where information is changing hands faster than the left to right swiping motion on a smartphone screen.

The work that does matter, in organizations, to individuals, and the work that is going to reshape the global paradigm of the next fifty years, doesn’t show up on spreadsheet, and can’t be open to analysis. And it never did; but, industrialists of the past century who built the old paradigm want MBAs and anyone in a business program of any kind to continue to believe otherwise.

Philosophically, there must be a change in how we teach bright, young, ambitious, people at all levels (from community college programs to the Ivy League) in order to succeed with outcomes that will be measurable, not in terms of dollars and cents (though that will come) but in terms of people, connection, and the continuing malleability of human nature.

But what would a two-year immersive, MBA experience look like?

Here’s a rough idea of how practically, an MBA program would look, one focused on getting bright, ambitious, Internet native, students to develop and nurture the kind of work that will grow organizations in the 21st century:

  • Year One:
    • Semester One:
      • Ethics
      • Sustainability
      • Conflict/Dispute Resolution Skills
      • Failure, Success, and Resilience
    • Semester Two:
      • People Management
      • Psychology of Supervision
      • Storytelling
      • Listening
  • Capstone Project: Peer Reviewed and Focused on Building a Functioning Business in the Real World
  • Year Two:
    • Semester One:
      • Finance
      • Accounting
      • Supply Chain Management
      • Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
    • Semester Two:
      • Persuasive Writing
      • Digital/Virtual Leadership
      • Organizational Culture
      • Restorative Justice
  • Capstone Project: Go and Turn Your Peer-Reviewed Project from the 1st Semester into a Business

And after all of this, there must be follow-up. But not in the traditional sense of “Did you get a job?” and “How much does it pay?” which are questions that really only interest the federal student loan originators. Instead, follow-up with these students would be focused on the only metrics that matter: failure, success, long-term growth, and connection:

  • Did you fail in 5 to 7 years after the program?
  • Did you succeed in 5 to 7 years after the program?
  • What “dent” if any, did you make in the universe?

And that’s it.

With such a program, the MBAs we are turning out from all institutions would be prepared to save the world from the current troubles and hypocrisies, that have caused many corporations to collapse under the inability to change for the future that is here.

Now.

[Advice] Evolving Cultural Sensibilities and ADR

By | Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Consulting, Culture, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, Mediation, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Peacemaker, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Selling for Peace Builders, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, Training, Workplace, Workplace Development, Workshop

As the economic, cultural, and spiritual forces that used to bind us together continue to refragment from overarching macro-cultures to indispensable micro-cultures, alternative dispute resolution practitioners must take notice.

Overarching macro-culture was driven by communal events, television, economic stability, and overarching cultural “norms” that allowed people to engage in conflicts and disputes with the same regularity they always have, but also allowed the impacts of those conflicts to be dampened.

Indispensable micro-culture is driven by technology, network connections that defy geography and notice, a dismissal of the status quo, and a strong identity component. People still have conflict in these micro-cultures (what used to be called “sub-cultures”). But the impacts of those conflicts are like wildfires that catch the masses attention for a moment, but without a “there” there, there is little sustained effort mounted to ameliorate the effects upon people in those micro-culture conflicts.

Conflict resolvers, conflict coaches, conflict engagers, mediators, arbitrators, and others have watched this evolution occur over the last fifty or so years, with greater acceleration, but the response to the evolution through providing access points to conflict resolution has not been as quick. This is mainly for three reasons:

  • Indispensable micro-culture is still seen as “niche” and not really enough to build a business model on by the entrepreneurial conflict resolver. This is a terrible fact, but except for some people doing some great work in resolving conflicts in specific areas with specific groups in conflicts (i.e. with parties in churches, with divorcing or separating pet owners, etc.) there is more focus by ADR professionals on how to gain credibility with the courts—still standing as the last guardians of a passing away overarching macro-culture.
  • There are still enough parties in conflict participating in the remaining civic life of a formerly overarching macro-culture. This is something that will pass away over time, but right now, there are enough of the “masses” left around that many professional conflict resolvers look at the problems and conflicts of that group and decide to address their issues first. Both as a way to make a “dent” in the universality of conflict, and to make money from a reliable income stream.
  • Refragmentation is still not understood—or accepted psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually—as an inevitable outcome of the erosion of the twin, post-World War 2 oligopolies of corporation and government. Now, this is not to say that government will disappear either now or later; but the fact is, that as conflicts and disputes between parties in indispensable micro-culture become harder and harder to understand, the overarching macro-culture responses from government entities (i.e. new laws, regulations, taxes, and fees) will be less and less effective. This is because indispensable micro-culture conflicts are driven by esoteric, identity based rules, that require conflict resolvers to engage in relationships with those cultures to resolve—and to go beyond the overarching macro-culture rubric of intercultural communication skill sets.

None of these three areas are that daunting to overcome. And once overcome, the business models to get ideas for resolution to people in conflict begin to overwhelm the entrepreneurial conflict resolver. All that is required to get there is the courage of conflict resolvers to act outside of the “box” they have been trained in.

[Advice] There Are No Shortcuts…

By | Advice, Blog, Entrepreneurship, Marketing for Peace Builders, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Platform Building, Selling for Peace Builders, Social Communication, Strategies, Strategy, Virtue

The quality, or trait, of getting up and doing what needs to be done, particularly when you don’t want to do it, is sometimes called “will” or “grit” or “courage.”

But these are fancy labels for something a lot deeper that people can’t really, collectively describe.

And anybody who wants to make a dent in the universe, no matter how big or small, must possess this trait in great quantities if they are to make the dent they want to make.

Unfortunately, the audience on the outside of the dent making process, overrate the effect of the trait (the “dent”), and underrate the ability to engage with the getting toward the goal (the “will” or “grit” or “courage”).

Which is why there is so much coveting of the outcomes of exercising the “will” or “grit” or “courage.”

Which results in jealousy and envy on the part of members of the audience.

Which winds up with members of the audience expending valuable energy engaging with manipulation and deceit, rather than hard work, diligence, and patience.

There are no shortcuts to making a dent in the universe, no matter how much we might like there to be.