Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Remembering LBJ

The trailer for "All The Way."

Art and the Ocean

Muddy Colors is looking at ocean-themed paintings. It is hard to beat the above painting by N.C. Wyeth.

Modern Life

I sent a text message to one of my kids. In reply I received a video of a rabbit running in circles.

Staff Papers: A Great Substitute for Meetings

Many years ago when I left the headquarters of a major Army command in Washington, D.C., I assumed that the military's staff paper system would have its equivalent in the civilian world. That was a mistake.

Business and government agencies are meeting-happy. In some organizations they have meetings stacked on top of meetings. I've met individuals whose schedules often show them in two places at once because their meetings overlap.

This does not need to be. The classic military staff paper system permits a proposal to be circulated to relevant departments where comments can be attached. By the time the paper is given to the chief decision maker, the document provides a fine overview of what is proposed along with the attached concurrences, dissents or proposed modifications of other key players in the organization.

The system not only saves time, it also encourages more careful thought. Each contributor knows that his or her portion is in writing and is representative of the particular function. Their opinions are not off-hand comments at a meeting but are formal positions. As such, a well-coordinated staff paper is also a valuable piece of history showing the thought that produced a decision.

And just think, while those papers were making their silent way from one department to another, people were working and the number of meetings was reduced.

It's a great management tool.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes? 

- George Gobel

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gimme Your Dough

Political Calculations explores the question of to whom does the U.S. government owe money?

Work and "Millennium"

It was a workday in which one project after another was completed and where some interesting ones beckoned. 

I have additional work to do tonight but part of the evening will be spent with one of the most interesting and well-written history books I've read in years: Millennium by Tom Holland.

Check it out.

[Update: Holland's book will have special appeal to those of you who are interested in the Dark Ages.]

The Fat Briefcase

My fat briefcase is in my other office. There are six briefcases near my feet as I write this - no, make that seven - but not one is the fat briefcase. I've searched them for an answer and they've not come up to snuff.

The fat briefcase knows. That's why it's fat. When we get clever, we put things in special files. When we get ultra-clever, we put them in fat files or in fat briefcases.

The secret is to keep them nearby.

Dog Language

The dog has been trying to tell me something this morning. She has only partially followed her morning routine. More than is normal, she looks at me as if she wants to be "read."

Alas, no Dr. Doolittle am I. Something wild might be out there. She returned very quickly from her morning outing.

Catch Yourself

Catch yourself whenever you start assuming that organizations are loyal or caring. 

An organization is as loyal or caring as a light bulb. 

Those human qualities will come from the human beings within the organization. 

Catch yourself whenever you design systems for wizards or saints. 

The odds are you are not working with either group. 

You (and your co-workers) are working with human beings; frail and flawed people who are capable of great things but who can also make mistakes and who are trying, in most cases, to do their best in an imperfect world.

Catch yourself whenever you find yourself relying on other people "shaping up."

They may be thinking the same thing about you. Take charge of the one person you can control. Focus on what you can do to improve your conduct and your performance. It may not be as much fun as blaming others but it is a far better way to achieve progress.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

The good governor should have a broken leg and keep at home. 

- Miquel de Cervantes

Monday, May 23, 2016


Wally Bock, a very smart man, reviews Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Art Break: Willis

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Fritz Willis.

A Novel about Project Management

Dangerous Assumptions

That the other person has the same:

  • Values
  • Goals
  • Knowledge
  • Feelings
  • Interests
  • Standards.

Revising a Major Document

  1. Research
  2. Analysis
  3. More research
  4. Pondering a sparrow
  5. Identification of changes
  6. Drafting of changes
  7. Falling in love with the changes
  8. Wondering how an idiot slipped in and wrote some of the changes
  9. Staring in the mirror
  10. Writing new material
  11. Studying all revisions
  12. Going over it absolutely just one more time
  13. Going over it again
  14. Final draft
  15. Once more for good measure

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

There is too much emphasis on management technique, as opposed to knowing and seeing what the heck is going on. 

- Henry Mintzberg

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Night

Speaking personally, Sunday night either brings renewed enthusiasm or depression. Tonight it is the former. 


Because of a conscious decision to focus on the small things instead of scanning the horizon. Do one small thing and then another and then another. Keep doing the right ones and the horizon will take care of itself.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, May 21, 2016



The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say “When!” 

- P.G. Wodehouse


The Signing is a Nice Touch

Cultural Offering describes a dating ritual from a Texas family.

Film Break

The trailers for:

21 Reminders for Supervisors

  1. Remember that there is no such thing as a minor word or gesture.
  2. Don't violate discrimination laws but don't treat everyone the same.
  3. Give yourself time to think.
  4. Even firefighters don't spend most of their time putting out fires.
  5. Don't forget to thank people.
  6. Recognize that the atmosphere changes whenever you walk into the room.
  7. Strive to reduce the number of surprises for both you and for your employees.
  8. If the subject is sensitive, call or meet with the person. Don't send an email.
  9. Keep developing your skills and the skills of others.
  10. Set an example and talk about core values.
  11. If you make a mistake, admit it.
  12. Beware of taking undue credit.
  13. Use "we" more than "I" and let your conduct reflect that attitude.
  14. Be more wary of rapid agreement than of dissent.
  15. Take the time to hire good people.
  16. Coordinate severe discipline with Human Resources. Do so early.
  17. Don't tolerate cruelty or rudeness.
  18. Keep a constant eye on what's being rewarded.
  19. Don't manage your time. Invest it.
  20. Cut through the jungle of bureaucracy..
  21. Be benevolent and effective. You can be both.

[Click here for information on Michael Wade's online classes.]

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Long-range planning does not deal with the future decisions, but with the future of present decisions. 

- Peter Drucker

Friday, May 20, 2016


Pulp Break

First Paragraph

Life in America is always getting better and worse at the same time. Progress comes at a cost, even if it is often worth that cost. Misery beckons relief so that our virtues often turn up where our vices have been. Decay and decadence almost always trail behind success, while renewal chases ruin. And in a vast society like ours, all of this is always happening at once. That means there are no simple stories to tell about the state of our country, and that upbeat and downcast social analyses are often just partial descriptions of one complex whole. 

- From The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism by Yuval Levin

The Thought Watcher

I'm in the restless thinking stage on several projects. 

Things converge and I quickly jot down ideas but then the thoughts fly off and I'm back to considering them from a distance. I'm not stymied - I know they will soon crystallize - and the restless stage is an essential part of the process.

Essential and yet frustrating.

I can see a legal pad and a cup of coffee in the near future.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

I have a simple philosophy. Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. Scratch where it itches. 

- Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Mysterious Barricades"

I only recently heard of Couperin's work. 

Here is Michael Chapdelaine performing "Mysterious Barricades."


Music Break

Back by popular demand: Guitarist John Williams with "Sakura Variations."

Art Break: Whitmore

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Coby Whitmore.

Slow and Precise

It is worth repeating.

Shun distractions. Dump phony deadlines. Lose the stress. 

This morning, just as a test, move very slowly. Avoid scanning material. Read it carefully. Sense the rhythm of the words. Make all of your actions as precise as possible. Be in the moment, whether you are sipping coffee, writing a note or talking to a customer.

Savor the seconds and not just the minutes and hours.

Millions would love to be in your place.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

They say you can't do it, but remember, that doesn't always work. 

- Casey Stengel