Archive for April, 2008

Total Connectivity Future – Culminating Opportunities and Challenges

The Economist report on Our Nomadic Future begins: “SOMETIMES the biggest changes in society are the hardest to spot precisely because they are hiding in plain sight. It could well be that way with wireless communications. Something that people think of as just another technology is beginning to show signs of changing lives, culture, politics, cities, jobs, even marriages dramatically. In particular, it will usher in a new version of a very old idea: Nomadism.”

Every trend has a counter trend, and each advancement brings opportunities and challenges. These produce a range of individual and societal responses. Responses can be categorized into two brackets:
• “Above the line” enhanced developmental responses
• “Below the line” pathologies

Here are some key technological developments and the trends they are bringing. Following this list are challenges and opportunities, which I call here “challentunities”. The personal responses, as well as the responses of society as a whole will likely produce both “above” and “below” the line outcomes.

Total connectivity trends

1. Ubiquitous and permanent connectivity (planet-wide Wi-Fi hotspot)
2. Faster cellular networks with wider coverage
3. Total gadgets synchronization and migration
4. On-the-beach, in-the-park office – the placeless office (Work from anywhere)
5. No entry barriers
6. Everybody doing everything on the move
7. Blurring and integration of the productive and the social (work & Life)
8. High fidelity voice recognition (freeing up your hands)
9. Omnipresent video conferencing takes the Internet’s cyberspace out of the box and into live conversation.
10. Online personal cameras making each person a potential TV reporter in real time.

These connectivity trends have created and most likely will continue to create physical, psychological, social and moral “challentunities” – challenges and opportunities:

Societal (Lower Right quadrant) “challentunities” will include:
1. Space – as you are freed up from your desk and office, space will be redesigned. Closed, private, dedicated spaces will be replaced by multi functional spaces wherein people work, socialize, play, meditate, study and discover. Boardrooms, town hall meetings, schoolrooms will become less brick and mortar, less geographically centered and more responsive to real time needs.
2. Home – work spaces in homes will be re-envisioned and reconfigured. Just as the TV migrated from the living room and appeared in the kitchen, bedroom and yes, even in the laundry room so, too will the connectivity expand beyond the desktop or laptop into the very walls of our homes. Appliances will morph into multi-utility centers of controlling the domestic ecology, monitoring our energy usage and relieving the homeowner from some of the more mundane iterations of work and home maintenance as well as provide ultimate accessibility to unlimited reference.
3. City – city centers, work centers, social services, utility and essential infrastructure will be redefined with population movement less dependant on industrially based mega centers or large metropolitan service industries.
4. Transportation – the car, its usage and traffic will be redesigned (converging with the imperative of energy shift away from oil). The increasing number of telecommuters and the expanding work week where individuals are ‘working’ whether or not they are actually at the office will transform traffic patterns.
5. Work – what you do at work, how you do your work, who you meet with at work and how meetings are held, how they happen and what can be achieved in them — will change and be redefined. Job descriptions and responsibilities will also flex and shift into new parameters as discoveries and innovations are incorporated into the workplace.
6. Company – the company and the corporate entity will be redesigned. Market economy in the way it’s been practiced in the last 70 years is reaching an inflection point. World wide access, merging interests, and foremost global, planet-wide interests will reshape corporate agendas. The dictatorship of the “quarterly profits” is reaching a point of inefficiency and ineffective measure. The greater imperatives of society and planetary economy will drive the evolution of the corporation as well as the framework of the market.
7. Media – It’s already here but only utilized by one percent. Imagine every person having the potential and power to become their own transmitting cable channel in real time.
8. Nation – possibly the way of the republic, its politics and its participative democracy will be re-defined, as WE THE PEOPLE discover our greater power. Our integration with the world economy and environmental interdependence will increasingly bring change and new perspective into our national priorities.

The Cultural (Lower left quadrant) “challentunities” will include:
1. Being fully present – in a world of total connectivity the biggest challenge, and the biggest blessing and gift is to be fully present. To have a completely engaged communication is to be at the point – to be fully present in your conversation.
2. Isolation – total connectivity can mean total isolation with its challenges and pathologies, the reduced need to interact in person can affect social skills and aptitudes.
3. Family – its ways and meaning, how it evolves, its ability to stay connected and sustain itself will be challenged and revitalized.
4. Friends – their place in your life, how you stay connected and interact will change and evolve. The increasing speed of everyday transactions will continue to force people into sound-bite relationships, prioritizing when and how to connect in a deeper way.
5. Community – how it is defined, what it can influence, what it does and means to you as an extension of family and friends, work and active participation will evolve as our priorities shift .
6. Meaning-making – the dynamics of how individuals and groups interface, connect and co-create will evolve. We will discover new ways for individuals and groups to co-create and make-meaning together.
7. Language – All of these aspects will lead to further evolution of language and ways of sharing meaning. Both written language and, even more so, oral culture will continue to shape-shift and evolve to describe concepts that are newly appearing as we move into the future.

Internal dimension (Upper left and right quadrants)

As virtualization liberates people from the cubicle prisons, and “the tyranny of place gives way to the tyranny of time”, the big leverage point is mindshare: the algorithm of mind-place and mind-time. The key opportunities and challenges “challentunities” will include:
1. Freedom – are you leveraging total connectivity to greater freedom and greater self control or are you becoming subject to it?
2. Recharge – are you able to “turn it off” and have down time? Are you able to rest and recharge?
3. Autonomy – do you enjoy increased autonomy or do you find growing dependency?
4. Prioritization – how do you optimize prioritization and decision making in a data saturated shape-shifting environment?
5. Engagement – where is your mind at any given time? How do you best engage your whole brain/mind?
6. Service – what is your mind processing? What are you serving?
7. Clarity – are you able to maintain clarity and focus? How do you go about it?
8. Alignment – how do you maintain and upgrade alignment to goals, aims and your most essential values?
9. Presence – are you able to be fully present in the here and now?
10. Purpose – are you finding a way to replenish and re-connect to what matters most, to your purpose?

© Aviv Shahar

The Making of A Storyteller

This is a conversation about the power of storytelling. “Let’s bring back the dinner table conversation” is one of many messages from David McCullough.

In art, business or anything – “The only way to learn to do it is by doing it.”
This one life is the real thing, not the dress rehearsal for another time. David McCullough’s story is the making of a great storyteller. Told in this conversation with Charlie Rose, the story is about finding the sweet spot – the convergence point of talent and passion with an action that makes a difference. It is in that place that you find a life fully lived. In his books and in this interview, McCullough brings to life stories that shaped this nation and its people. He tells the story of learning to write by writing, and of the best advice he ever received (Watch it to find out).

What is your sweet spot? What mode of action allows you to express your passion and talent?
© Aviv Shahar

Intuition – How To Develop It?

Josh asked how to develop intuition, how to refine the ‘intuitive voice’ and how to maintain the internal intuitive conversation.
These are great questions.  At the bottom of this post I’ll make the first suggestion. Let’s first say this – the ideal setting is to work into these questions live, in an intuition workshop retreat. We can then go beyond what can be done here on a blog; here are some of the things we would cover in an Intuition Retreat:

1. What is instinct (gut feeling) and what is intuition?
2. What are the different levels of intuition?
3. What is the range of the intuitive faculties?
4. Intuition about places, people and situations.
5. The law of resonance and intuition.
6. What are the ways in which your body’s intelligence communicate?
7. What is intelligence? What are your multiple intelligences?
8. How do you learn to listen and develop a dialogue with these intelligences?
9. Can you attract intelligence from outside of you? If yes, how?
10. How do you turn on your inner “Doppler radar”?
11. The brain, the mind and the power of the mind.
12. Practicals to switch on the intuitive faculties.
13. Practicals to follow the intuitive voice.
14. Creating a plan to develop your IGS (Internal Guidance System).

Here is a starter point until we get to the workshop: Intuition is a natural part of your system. We are all born with it but in the process of becoming an adult, we often sacrifice the small inner voice to the much louder and more demanding pressures of our family, our jobs, our education and social acceptance. In effect, we learn to close off to what is coming from the inside.  As an adult, most of us are trained to pay more attention to the approval of others than to the approval of our own instincts, and in fact, we are often taught to disregard or discount our instincts or inner voice.

Therefore, the journey to rediscover your instinct and intuitive voice is to first unlearn the cultural conditioning that you and others have put upon yourself. This is the conditioning which discredits and dis-empowers your intuitive faculties.

To begin, you need to set aside time to pay attention, to tune in, to listen to what you feel. Actively practice awareness toward sensing more clearly what energizes you, what makes you tired and fatigued, what attracts or repels you, when you feel relaxed and when you feel uneasy. You will start to notice that different parts of you react differently – your brain, your emotions, your instinct, each have their distinct voice. Practice paying attention to these things.

In the next post in this series I will offer a few more steps you can make towards engaging your intuition.

© Aviv Shahar

Decision Making – What’s Better?

What’s better than making decisions?

What is more fun, more powerful and more creative than getting up in the morning and thinking that what you’ve got to do today is to make decisions?

Making decisions is great but even more fun, more energizing and more creative is to have the mindset that today you don’t need to make decisions – that today your endeavor is to GENERATE OPTIONS.

What’s my point? Decision making is overrated. The bigger art in business and in living is to generate options. Great leadership and smart strategy is generating options. When you create options and clarify your vision, your values and your principles, you really don’t need to make many decisions. Instead of you having to make each decision, you let the decision present itself and come to you. I don’t mean which brand of toothpaste to get; the industry has done a very good job in that area and we are presented with many (some might say, too many) options. Therefore, which toothpaste to use is indeed a tough decision. What I am talking about are the bigger, more important directional things in life.

I asked our son who is now in his third year in college, what he wanted to do after he graduates. His reply was, “Right now I am creating options for myself. The best thing I can do at this time, is to do well both academically and in everything else I am involved in whether at school or personally. By excelling in what I do I create more options for me.” Here is his self briefing:

  1. Do what I do well.
  2. Discover what I am succeeding at.
  3. Discover what I am interested in, what energizes me.
  4. Meet interesting people and have interesting conversations.
  5. The four points above will bring the widest range and best options.

This is a smart mindset.

You don’t see the tree in the forest needing to make decisions. It grows in all possible directions. The roots find the best path to deepen and the branches follow the optimal path for sunlight exposure, depending on the competition and density in the forest canopy.

How about this as a mindset? How about growing in all directions? How about generating a wide range of options? How about letting the environment tell you which are the best options?

Decision then is a confirmation of the obvious. A “yes” to what presents itself as the best option. I agree, sometimes you need to make tough decisions but a good seven or eight out of ten decisions need not be more than confirming the obvious best option. You can then get on with generating options up the path you are pursuing. It’s a different way of thinking. A more energizing way to live. A smarter strategy and a better way to run your business.

© Aviv Shahar

The Biggest Change Ever – When Adding One Means Adding Ten

Can you think about a situation when adding one means adding ten? Take a moment to think about this conundrum before you read on. Don’t cheat.

Did you find the answer? Well, here it is…

When your first child is born.

I first became aware of this change a few months after our son was born 20 years ago (1987). No one alerted me to this phenomenon so I felt I had discovered something big, and since then I have explained this countless times over when coaching managers and friends who were about to become parents for the first time.

Before a couple has their first child, they have no idea how exponentially more compound their situation is about to become. From two relationships the equation evolves into twelve relationships. That’s right. This is not a print mistake. 12 relationships! But you need to sensitize yourself before you realize it. Here is how it works. First there is just the two of you. This means there are two relationships. Your relationship with your spouse and your spouse’s relationship with you. Put differently, there is how A relates to B and how B relates to A.

Now, when the two become a triangle with the addition of child, ten more relationships are added to the equation to total 12 relationships all together:

  1. Father’s relationship with mother
  2. Father’s relationship with child
  3. Father’s relationship with mother in the child’s presence
  4. Father’s relationship with child in the mother’s presence
  5. Mother’s relationship with father
  6. Mother’s relationship with child
  7. Mother’s relationship with father in the child’s presence
  8. Mother’s relationship with child in the father’s presence
  9. Childs’s relationship with father
  10. Child relationship with mother
  11. Childs’s relationship with father in the mother’s presence
  12. Child’s relationship with mother in the father’s presence

For those of you with two children… well, can we get a clever mathematician to help us here – how many dynamics of relationships are there in a family with two children and in a family with three children? I’ll let you work out how this applies to the in-laws on your own.

© Aviv Shahar

“Change Is An Endeavor, It’s A Real Enterprise”

Here are a few quotes from a Harvard Business Review conversation with Twyla Tharp. These sweat beads of wisdom go beyond art. She captures the essentials of any dedicated endeavor.

“…everyone can be creative, but you have to prepare for it with routine. There’s no other way around it. It’s an absolute mistake to think that art is not practical—or that business cannot be creative. The best artists are extraordinarily practical”

“…The best creativity is the result of habit and hard work. And luck, of course.”

“Fundamental change is an endeavor, it’s a real enterprise, it’s not something that just happens. You make a choice to keep evolving and keep growing.”

To deliver a great performance be it in art, sport, business, teaching or any other field, you have to do much of what is viewed by some as the unnecessary work. Lance Armstrong built a depth of strength during his winter practices up the Tour De France mountain picks when most other cyclers were resting.

It’s the invisible work you put in when no one sees that later shines in your performance. By doing the extra work you make yourself an instrument and a home for the essence of your endeavor and it cannot help but shine through you. Tharp’s message is that it’s the same with creativity. You don’t just wait for a muse or inspiration. You build a practice of showing up and working at it. It is then that inspiration finds you and that you have built the muscle for what it then needs to do.

Here is another interview with Tharp where she explains that it’s about making the dance, and about what failure and success mean.


© Aviv Shahar

Rituals – Part Three

Opening the door is a ritual. Shaking hands is a ritual. Taking your vitamins can be a ritual. A family dinner can be a ritual. Showering is a ritual. Counting your blessings is a ritual. Saying “thank you” is a ritual. What makes all of these a ritual is the intention in your action.

There are many kinds of rituals. Rituals serve and help you move from working for tomorrow to engaging with where you are now. Rituals help you transition from climbing the mountain to recognizing the mountain is inside you. You engage in a ritual to bring yourself into the presence of what it is you want to be with.
© Aviv Shahar

Working With “Olympic Champions” – A Consultant Journal

One of the best things about my work is that I meet with brilliant people. They are world class; they are smart and intelligent; the “Olympic Champions” of their field. Real champions love truth, learning, wisdom and growth more than they love their last success. If you show them a way to become even better they will take it any time, any day and without a delay. Champions are simply more passionate about continuing to improve than they are about their accomplishments to date. That’s how they became champions. Here are lessons I learned from working with brilliant people.

1. The knowledge we seek is almost always already present in the room.

2. The work is to discover it. To remove what blocks it. To frame a context in which it reveals its meaning.

3. We are always more ready to move forward and envision a future when we are anchored in our strengths.

4. Love is the power of the heart. Inquiry is the power of the mind. Asking a question that opens up a new possibility is powerful. Inquiry fueled with the love of growth and new possibilities is the high octane energy of development.

5. Strategy formulation begins with asking the right questions. It helps the team unlock and ‘channel’ its collective intelligence.

6. Data, knowledge, wisdom, insight and intelligence are each a distinct thing.
Data is a collection of facts.
Knowledge is the capacity to read and understand the data.
Wisdom is the ability to create context and to place specific knowledge inside a broader frame of reference and experience wherein it reveals its meaning.
Insight is deciphering the portent, potential and future implication of what has been discovered.
Intelligence is the metabolic speed of this process; how well and how fast you turn data into knowledge, wisdom and insight.

7. A powerful framework can increase the available intelligence. It helps you accelerate the transformation of data to knowledge, wisdom and insight.

8. Knowledge is connecting the dots in the data to form a picture. Wisdom is placing the picture inside a series of pictures, to see the flow of what created the picture you are looking at and to decipher it’s meaning in the greater scheme of things. Insight is seeing and recognizing the invisible dimension and portent of all this.

9. Insight is found when you place yourself on the verge of the unknown. If your entire mental faculty is engaged in and focused on what you know, no new insight can find you. “A bucket full of water is a bucket full of water.”

10. When a team creates a unified vision they believe in and they trust each other inside it – they are positioned to go ahead and actualize it and make it into a reality. It is then that they would have the ultimate competitive advantage.

© Aviv Shahar

Rituals – The Magnifying Glass

Remember how you played with a magnifying glass as a child and directed the sun’s rays to focus on a piece of paper until it caught fire? The magnifying glass brought the rays to a point of concentration. Concentrated light rays brought enough energy to cause heating and a change of state of the paper. A ritual is a magnifying glass you use to bring you to a point of focus so you can change your state.

I am asked to give examples. Look for next posts about Rituals.
© Aviv Shahar

Delegating Is Not Dumping – A Consultant Journal

Each seminar, each group, each strategy session brings forward lessons, insights and new articulation and power. This is the hallmark of transformational work. You are made anew in the process. You clarify your goals, connect with a sense of purpose and step into a more authentic place. If we are not blessed by this kind of energy it means we are failing to step into greater authenticity and are not transformational.

Summoning to authenticity the people you meet will give them permission to spread their wings to soar. It is then that they realize their power and ready themselves to join in and realize a greater universe of possibilities.

This week in Toronto I am with a group of insightful and energetic managers. On day two of this 4-day program we explored the power of Adaptive Leadership — adapting your management approach to the needs and the readiness you meet. Here are two essential values we focused on:

First, to be an Adaptive Leader you must be diagnostic about the people you work with, their needs and development path. You envision for them and with them their continued growth. You facilitate and enable their next realization and development. This means you care. You are genuinely interested. You work toward making a real difference for them, a sustainable difference. You champion their best. You create a legacy of breakthroughs.

Second, a classic “sin” of many managers is having a blind-spot about their top performers. Too often they forget that ‘Top Talents’ are a goldmine. It is too easy to take your top performers for granted. Yes, you want to empower them, to delegate to them. But assuming that their rare ability will always come through and deliver doesn’t give you permission to carelessly dump new pressures on them. Delegating is not dumping. Delegating is transferring responsibility and thereby entrusting another with power to enhance their capabilities and growth.

© Aviv Shahar

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