Racism in America

Racism has existed in America from the beginning. Racism in America is a systemic cultural issue. America has always had a strong racist current, from slavery—a belief that some humans, particularly humans with dark colored skin, are a lesser being and can be used as slaves for work—to the systemic inequality of our education system today that creates a disadvantaged population, again, mostly made up of people with darker skin color. If you fund schools with property taxes, you are in fact systematically and with intent creating this reality of inequality and ensuring that this segment of our population will be disadvantaged forever. Ironic, given the constitution of this country and its bill of rights. All men are created equal is just a sentence with nice words, but we have never lived the intent of these words.

Now, perhaps, we can turn from our past and make real change. But this must include real systemic change like deciding as a society that every child in our nation deserves…

HR is Dead

Recently I searched for trends in HR. Turns out there are a lot of stories about trends in HR. Trends in HR have become a trend. Who knew. HR, it seems, is in a constant mode of change, renewal, and re-creation. Some call it transformation. But why? Here’s one perspective.

HR as a function is in a coma, teetering on its final days. What happened to HR? HR's demise began with a critical mistake, one of credibility. HR posed as friend-of-the-employee while being manipulated by leadership to get what they wanted out of employees. Think employee surveys, performance evaluations, and termination. Think HR representatives helping you with an issue with your manager. This misrepresentation cost HR its credibility and employees never trusted the function again. Every employee survey is statistically invalid, because employees distrust management and therefore provide the answers they think management wants to hear. You cannot get accurate data from a population if the population distrusts …

Health, Happiness & Smartphones

As technology continues its tsunami-like assault on society, how do we adjust and adapt? How do we create a happy place in our heart that sustains us in life? I believe this is an important consideration at this time, as our society moves through this turbulent time. Allegedly, the silicon world of bits and bytes, of chips and devices, was here to make life easier. And yet, here we are, drowning in a sea of information.

How did we let ourselves believe that those who create chips and laptops and phones were also equipped to understand and cope with the disruptive social revolution that was to come. They are techies, not social engineers. It is we who must learn to surf the waves of this new reality, and make changes if need be.

So what do we know now? For one, there is simply too much information to keep up with. Let's look at photos. Since the arrival of the digital photo era, we've become happy snappers of everything that moves, caring less about what makes a good photo. Wh…

The most valuable human skill

After completing an undergrad degree in public relations, I worked at HP and gained experience in this field. Everything that followed in my career, including a masters in counseling psychology and a PhD in organizational psychology, benefited from my foundation in communications. If I was given a magical redo in life—not that I want one, the one thing I would not change is my education in communications. The ability to communicate, I believe, is the most valuable human skill.

Communicate is a narrower definition than what I'm really talking about here. Let me clarify. In my public relations program, we were taught to communicate, true. More importantly though, we were taught to relate, which is to say connect. We were taught to understand relationships and the human condition, as well as the engineering of consent. What I've come to realize is that no matter what we do for a living, what we do mostly is communicate and relate with others.

Learning to connect and communicate…

Happiness is now

Like most people, I like to be happy. And like most people, I look for moments of happiness in my day. But what if looking for happiness is what leads us away from it. What if it only exists right here, right now.

Thanks to Marshall Goldsmith, I have a better sense of where to find it now. Goldsmith is an executive coach who practices Zen.  His philosophy is simple: be happy now.  His point is this: happiness is not somewhere in the future or in the past. It is here in this moment, in the now. 
Be happy now. Like a Zen saying, this message sounds simple, and yet the more you contemplate its meaning the more you uncover.  To understand these three words, we must look deeper. To "be" is to be our true nature, devoted to listening to our inner voice. Happy is simply being our true nature in the moment, not trying to be anything or grasp anything. Now is living in the present moment with each breath of life.

What keeps us from being happy now? For one, as Marshall points out, o…

Architecture for Living Systems

It is curious to me how we have architects for buildings and technology systems, for a lot of things, yet, not so much for the design of organizations? The structure of an organization, for an organizational psychologist like myself, is about the structure of relationships around a vision, strategies, and activities, and about how to bring all that to fruition. 

This blog space is for conversations about the living systems we call organizations. It is a place for talking about design and learning, culture and change,  process and structure, space and reflection, systems thinking, patterns and relations, behavior and communications. If you have an interest in organizations as living, changing systems, my hope is to engage you in a discussion where we can all learn and have some fun in the process.  Zen teaches us that everything changes, everything is connected, and everything is impermanent. So it makes sense, then, that all these topics are related. This is a living space for playful…

The Cost of Social Comas

According to Wikipedia, "a coma is a deep state of prolonged unconsciousness in which a person cannot be awakened." We tend to think of comas as an individual experience. Yet, societies and organizations experience comas too. I refer to these as social comas. In a sense, social comas are the extreme opposite of mindfulness. In a mindful state we are fully aware of ourselves and our environment in the present moment. In a state of social coma, we experience periods of apathy, indifference, and unconsciousness.

Let me share some examples. Voting for the president is an example of a social coma in the U.S. Even though the people’s vote does not elect the president, every four years the same drama plays out in the U.S. Presidential candidates urge everyone to vote for them, the media urges the same and spends untold hours talking about votes and counting votes, and why voting is so important. And again, this November 3, 2020, millions of Americans will stroll down to the voting …