Language against which the mind cannot defend

Last week I was privileged to be present when David Whyte addressed a group of leaders at Intel. Kudos to my colleague Lisa Marshall and to Intel's Business Client Engineering Division 'Mindful Engineering' series for making it happen

From the poet came the gift of this phrase; "Language against which the mind cannot defend"

It was a rich 90 minutes. It's remarkable to be with a poet who keeps himself connected and contributing to the corporate, technological world - an extraordinary human being.

He pointed out that such language is always based in vulnerability. And it comes, not from the strategic mind – the mind focused on what action might be best – but from a deep quiet. From the place most of us prefer to avoid: the one embraces our inevitable vulnerability. The example he gave was a question: a parent, having spoken somewhat thoughtlessly to a teenager, punished with shunting, reaches her with genuine humility, "Charlotte, what is one thing you'd like me to do less of, and one you'd like me to do more of'?” He was rewarded with uncrossed arms and a look in the eye. Something we in business must learn to do.

I believe with all my heart that only those who fully embrace the roots of commerce in vulnerability will make it through the current economic upheaval. In the Industrial Age, [short – perhaps 10 generations of the thousands in human history] business folk were happily tranquilized to believe that commerce could be secretive, and that one party could avoid vulnerability at the expense of the other. That dream is in its death gasps, at the effect of the Information Age.

Some good thinkers are onto the deep challenge this is for enterprises:

    “CEOs today are certainly enlightened enough to understand the new world. They know they are more vulnerable than ever. In quiet moments, they say, “I don't have the answers. This is pretty hard.” That's why I'm optimistic. I think this is the right time to rethink and change how business is done.”
      Source: Strategy & Business Thought Leader Interview with Dov Seidman

‘Having the answers' isn't likely; it's the questions that move us forward. My current favorite from deep quiet works very well to put an organization on track - it's the foundation for Core Promise:

What do people rely on you for, and what do you want them to rely on you for?

What will you do no matter what?
Try it – the mind cannot defend against the question.

Core Promise: a simple driver of high performance

I recently read Diamandis and Kotler’s Abundance: the Future is Better than you Think: a delightful account of diverse entrepreneurs stepping up to many of humanity’s greatest challenges. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, I recommend it for a great rush of optimism and a clarion call.

In the wake of their book, I took the challenge of upping my own contribution. I believe that organizations have a big role to play in creating a world that’s safe for our progeny. We're in a resource crisis, and something fundamental has to change at the enterprise level.

Here Core Promiseis a method I have used for years: a simple model for driving Stakeholder value with far less resource. I hope you will find this eBook both challenging and useful, and if so, that you will help me get it out to forward-thinkers looking to be a bigger part of the solution.

Many thanks to the generous colleagues who helped wring the model from inside my skin to make it accessible. Blessed are they who live in a learning community.

Neuroscience in Business: What we can't do while 'multi-tasking'

The brain does not multi-task.   This simple biological fact has huge implications for business. 

What if your corporate culture accepts - even demands - multi-tasking?  You're as sharp as a drunk driver. You will miss - and misinterpret - as much of what is going on around you as someone who could be arrested for DUI.

Not only will you miss important information, you certainly will not generate new questions or solutions.  Responsive to market changes?  Forget it.  Figuring out new ways to deploy resources?  Not a chance.

Imagine that you're an auto manufacturer...Or an SEC official....Better yet, imagine that you find yourself in the midst of an economic downturn. Markets are jittery; customers and employees are fearful.  Your enterprise will thrive - or not - based on your ability to:

  • Notice what's going on - Be curious about what might be valuable in this new reality
  • Generate new solutions for new concerns
  • Provoke Customers' curiousity about new solutions.

Multi-tasking may be the most dangerous habit we've ever allowed.

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Are You Fit to Thrive in Any Economy?