Bureaucracy: Machines & Pilots

Bureaucracy, as described by the sociologist Max Weber, is rational. Bureaucracy is how we logically create standardized and efficient systems of exchange, of competition, of distribution of labor at scale. It is rational in an abstract sense, when you abstract it away from the human, when you average people out and line them up and … Continue reading Bureaucracy: Machines & Pilots

On Actually Embracing Actual Failure

Do not attempt to tackle complex, wicked problems without amply anticipating and preparing for the very real possibility of failure: On every attempt and at every stage. I'm talking about actual failure- not safe, fun, exciting failure or even safe failure, because it might not ever be emotionally 100% safe. I'm talking about the real stuff. The painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing type of failure. The kind you look in the eye and learn from... that looks back and tells you things you didn't know or care to admit...

Mapping Organizational Ecosystems: Artifacts & Rituals; Tribes & Institutions

This is an excerpt (Part 3) of an essay in progress to describe developing perspectives and practices for mapping organizational ecosystems. I recently facilitated a workshop with Agitare, the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, and the Federal Innovation Network to explore how we view, create, and use maps of our massive, interconnected community, and how co-created and inter-subjective approaches … Continue reading Mapping Organizational Ecosystems: Artifacts & Rituals; Tribes & Institutions

Expertise as Limiting; Uncertainty as Enabling

There's a common manifestation of "The Expert" in every field--one who has allowed the weight of their accumulated knowledge and experience to drag them down into an unfortunate state of certainty. The Expert has gained so much confidence in their field and craft that they see themselves as qualified, empowered, and even obligated to make … Continue reading Expertise as Limiting; Uncertainty as Enabling

When people show you who they are… don’t believe them?

People really like to share that quote from Maya Angelou that goes "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time". I am an enormous fan of the poet Maya Angelou, but this quote has always bothered me, mostly because of how incompatible it appears to be with a growth mindset, and … Continue reading When people show you who they are… don’t believe them?

On Death, Celebration, and Seriousness

The first time I questioned my decision to join the Air Force was in basic training, but it wasn't while being smoked by some screamy, sadistic TI (Training Instructor), who were mostly cartoonish, amusing, and annoying. It was when they sat us down to watch a hype video of bombs being dropped and detonating on … Continue reading On Death, Celebration, and Seriousness