An administrative snarl can tangle the line in any large organization, and the larger it is, the more likely the mess. No matter how carefully plans are made, regardless of the policies and procedures in place, and despite all management practices, someone somewhere down in the belly of the beast can drop a monkey wrench in the works and do serious damage.
The full-time federal work force has now surpassed 2.5 million employees. In other words there is a full-time federal employee for every 121 Americans. That is a massive work force managed by a vast and complicated bureaucracy. One can only imagine how easy it might be for a non-productive worker to hide bad practices or even criminal activity in the entrails of such a monster. Given such a mass of humanity and the very human tendency to sin, it is inevitable that some
RELAUNCH: HOW TO STAGE AN ORGANIZATIONAL COMEBACK
by Dr. Mark Rutland
The demise of Oldsmobile is a textbook example of a company getting ahead of itself and changing its message before it had a new market to align with the new message. Management at Oldsmobile realized that it had a specific market that wanted a specific kind of car. For decades they had been convinced that there would always be people who wanted Oldsmobiles, and that those people would always want Oldsmobiles to look like Oldsmobiles. They did quite well with that market. The problem was that they were securing a growing share of a shrinking market. The people who wanted Oldsmobiles were elderly, and they were dying. Young people didn't want Oldsmobiles.
Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Oldsmobile hired an advertising agency to create a last-gasp, hail-Mary campaign to
RELAUNCH: HOW TO STAGE AN ORGANIZATIONAL COMEBACK
by Dr. Mark Rutland
In fascinating slow-motion photography, Dr. Mike Wheatland, a professor at the University of Syndney specializing in solar astrophysics demonstrated the quite surprising movement of a suspended Slinky. Holding the Slinky at the top, he let it hang straight down, unfurled as it were. He then let go. The slow- motion photography proved that for a time (brief though it was) the bottom end did not fall. The Slinky collapsed from the top down. The sections at the top began to contract while the bottom stayed where it was.
This was caused, he explained, because the information that the slinky was no longer held in place at the top took some period of time to reach the bottom. In fact, by the time that information did reach the bottom it was distorted. The very top
How would you like a sneak peek at my next book? The manuscript is basically finished. My agent has it and she is starting to shop it to publishers. I am very excited about this book. I waited nearly ten years to write it and I am trusting it will be a great blessing to many. I am not trying to sell you a book. There are none yet to sell. The book will probably be out in the fall of 2015.
I just thought my faithful blog readers might enjoy seeing a brief snippet of the book, before anyone else gets a chance. The working title is "21 Seconds To Change Earth." Here is a little taste. I hope it piques your interest.
A TV sportscaster was interviewing a retired Olympic runner just before one race at a big track and field event. One runner they were discussing was the favorite but evidently a strong competitor was in the lane beside him.
“What do you think he needs to do to win today?” the interviewer asked.
I do not play fantasy baseball, nor do I play fantasy football, nor any other fantasy sports that may be lurking out there. When I say what I am about to say, those who do participate in these "sports," and there are plenty in my own family and office, will quickly respond that I simply do not understand the thrill. Frankly, I do not understand the thrill. I just do not get it.
Perhaps it's the word FANTASY that throws me off. Perhaps it's the techno-non-participatory-“geek-ness” factor that does it. The even more likely culprit is my inner resistance to fads. There is something in me that clings to the beach when all the other surfers are paddling madly out for the Big Wave. What this last causes, of course, is that I often miss really fun, exciting waves. I admit it. I may very well be missing the thrill of a lifetime just because everyone else is doing it, while I, the Perennial Fad Curmudgeon, hunker down in my office waiting for Hula Hoops to make their big comeback. In my own defense, however, I also wish to point out that I just cannot get excited about picking, cheering for and subsequently claiming some level of personal victory in a universe of total fantasy. I doubt my ability to take much pride in
by Dr. Mark Rutland
An unconscious child was rescued from the bottom of a swimming pool. Her terrified parents and concerned onlookers watched in agony as a lifeguard expertly gave her mouth-to-mouth. When water gurgled up and, coughing and sucking in breath, the girl sat up and opened her eyes, the crowd cheered and her parents wept with joy.
She was resuscitated. Where there was no breath, breath came again. One might say she was more dead than alive. Unable to breathe, her little lungs flooding with water, she would have been dead soon enough. But she was not dead.
A friend of mine bought a dilapidated house that I thought beyond hope. Unwilling to discourage him, I said nothing, but I
by Dr. Mark Rutland
When the German battleship Ostfriesland was sunk by bombs dropped from an American airplane, the career of General Billy Mitchell sank with it. The top brass in the post-World War I American army saw airplanes as high-tech gadgets whose expense was prohibitive and whose only purpose was battlefield reconnaissance. Mitchell, the commandant of the Army Air Corps in WWI, saw the future and dared to tell the truth. The next war, he said, would depend on air power. His counsel rejected, Mitchell arranged for a public exhibition of that power. General Pershing and other WWI generals said it was impossible to sink a battleship from the air. It took Mitchell twenty minutes.
Mitchell's loyalty, prophetic foresight, genuine patriotism and zeal for the truth earned him a court martial. Convicted of insubordination, branded a crackpot and drummed out of the army he loved, Mitchell never backed down. He simply told the army and the country the truth.
Much of the nation and some in Congress listened, but the generals hated him and commanded him to be silent. He
Just look at that title, will you? Talk about a title that covers the waterfront. That's a shot pattern worthy of a blunderbuss. Having admitted that, I believe all the words in my title connect.
When a society allows its ability to reason to erode, its determination to resolve issues based on fact and law inevitably yields to the grip of emotionalism. For example, America's founding documents have devolved into antique suggestions easily ignored or "reinterpreted" beyond recognition. The rule of law is collapsing and whoever is in charge
I am fascinated by the story of Moses. His is a story of rags to riches and back to rags and then on to an unimaginable leadership opportunity which was actually an unimaginable leadership burden. This in turn led to a national opportunity, which was tragically missed, followed four decades later by another chance which was seized by a second generation but in which Moses was not allowed to participate. He was born in a slave hovel, raised in a palace, lived in a desert, died in the mountains and is buried in an unmarked grave which is not even in the country with which his name is
I was raised by an army officer. He thought like an officer, a good one by the way, and he taught me much. I heard tag lines from Officer’s Candidate School at the breakfast table. That combined with my year of birth made a difference in the way I think about life and leadership. Year of birth? Yes, I am what is known as a baby boomer, that is people born in the era around 1947-1962. In fact I am the quintessential "early boomer," born as I was in 1947.
Because I was born at the beginning of the boom I tend to think more like my father's generation, the so-called builders, than I do like those born at the end of my own generation. Take, for example, my inner understanding of
In the National Institute of Christian Leadership, one topic is devoted entirely to one idea: managing along the horizontal continuum between chaos and control. It is always one of the most popular and engaging of the lecture topics in the whole year. Of course, I am not able, in this brief blog, to treat the concept exhaustively, but I will broach the idea.
Every person, every leader and every organization has an inner compass that points to their true north which lies somewhere on a continuum between utter chaos and absolute control. Some have a high tolerance for chaos. Life in a
Live Oak High School in Northern California celebrates Cinco de Mayo every year. Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration of Latino culture and it is always a great time. I love it. The food, the music, the dancing and the art make for a fun fiesta. The celebration is not, as many think, the Mexican Independence Day. That is actually September 16. Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) commemorates the battle of Puebla in 1862, where Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a much larger and better equipped French army. The strange thing is that Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated in Mexico except, of
The problem with talking about gifts and giftedness is that the entire conversation is different depending on with whom you speak. Some consider only natural gifts, as in Kevin Durant is a gifted basketball player. He certainly is. Just as certainly, he has also worked hard to hone his skills. I am absolutely certain there was a raw gift there way before his first practice, before his first step or even his first breath. Beyond that, 6’ 9” and 215 pounds has a certain enviable gift quality about it as well. There are gifted performers, speakers, athletes and artists whose best efforts to perfect their skills would have been futile without their natural gifts. I sense intuitively that had I worked even harder than Durant I just might not,
The bodies lie like cord wood by the sides of the roads. Hacked to ribbons by machetes or bludgeoned to a pulp, they are the evidence, we think, of the murderous genocidal savagery of the Central African Republic, or whatever the massacre of the day happens to be. Our eyes grow so weary of televised horror that we seize the remote and click to the mindlessness of comfort TV. We simply cannot understand how a country can get itself in that kind of monstrous tribal bloodbath. What kind of people must they be?
Rwanda, Croatia, The CAR, Syria or any one of a number of other killing fields seem to be the ubiquitous fodder of the nightly news. We cannot get away from them and there appear to be no end of them. Now even much of Mexico has
by Dr. Mark Rutland
Next week Alison and I will be attending the International Ministerial Fellowship Winter Gathering in Melbourne, Florida. In light of the theme for this year's conference, "It's time - Dream Again," I wanted to share a short excerpt from my book, simply titled, Dream:
During a Larry King Live interview, Paul McCartney said that he dreamed the entire melody to “Yesterday.” When he awakened he simply wrote it down, only taking a few minutes to compose the music, which was destined to be recorded by many of the world’s greatest artists, become one of the most enduringly popular songs of recent history and make Paul McCartney a boatload of money. All because of a dream.
McCartney added that he did not dream any words to go with it. The first he came up with were: “Scrambled eggs; O my darling, how I love your legs.” (Sing them. They actually fit.) Evidently the creative process that eventually produced McCartney’s memorable and singable lyrics was not as instantly ingenious as his melodic dream.
Yesterday, still on the runway but strapped into my seat on a flight to Dallas, happy to actually be leaving on time for once, now a novelty in modern air travel, I heard words that sent a chill down my spine. "Hello folks, this is your captain speaking. I'm afraid I have some bad news."
Those words invariably introduce other words bound to disrupt the travel plans of everyone involved. That certainly proved to be true yesterday. We had to taxi back to the gate, deplane, troop to another gate, await another plane, then reload and try again.
Let me list them. You know them already but let me call their terrible names. Here are my choices for the top ten causes of depression in the ministry.
2) The fear of failure
3) Rebellious opposition
5) Mental and physical fatigue
7) Stress: usually financial
9) Accumulated hurt
10) Anger and unresolved inner issues
Great leadership is multidimensional. The facets of the jewel of leadership are wonderfully on display in the Hebrew Bible. Nuanced words used at different places in the Old Testament reveal different aspects of leadership, or perhaps different types of leadership needed in different seasons. Some may say leadership is leadership but that is certainly not the case. Speed, pace, tone, volume; all these and other variables determine what leadership means in various contexts. I have identified multiple Hebrew words used in different places to speak of different aspects of leadership. I believe there are six such words.
One way of stating the leader/manager's job description is actually "senior decision maker." I think that among the biggest and most disconcerting of all the surprises that I had in moving, lo these many years ago, into the senior executive role was the constant barrage of decisions that demanded an answer:
What do you want to do about…?
When should we…?
How do you want…?
Volley after volley of questions, small and consequential, lobbed into my lap like mortars, became at times excruciatingly oppressive. This was not entirely new to me. I had first experienced some of the challenges of decision making as a leader in sports, first as a player, then as a coach and finally, and most illuminating of all, as a referee.