Archive for August, 2011

Work Different: Robert F. Kennedy, GNP, GNH, Cost-Accounting and the #VerizonStrike

August 27, 2011

Back to thinking about Verizon’s efforts to cut costs and finding themselves in the midst of a strike, I just stumbled across this amazing quote by Robert F. Kennedy talking about GNP.  These lines actually propose a challenge to the philosophy of setting a goal of “GNH” (Gross National Happiness), as the Bhutanese have done.  Mr. Kennedy seemingly goes beyond GNP or GNH to propose something that seems quite noble.

Remarks of Robert F. Kennedy at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

Robert F. Kennedy

(Quote is not from this book, but the title expresses the vision).

… this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.


.@adaptivecoach whether or not we are “as smart as we think” / cc .@psyblog

August 25, 2011
Lord of the Flies "team," from the film directed by Peter Brook, 1963

Lord of the Flies "team," from the film directed by Peter Brook, 1963

Something that had come to mind a bit back, in a fit of very typical Project Manager-ish thinking, was the risk of forming Agile teams.  My live observation in training sessions was the following:

  • I either took over and started leading the team
  • If I suppressed my natural bossy tendencies, someone else took over and lead the team
  • If no one did this, the team might not accomplish much
  • Someone attempting to take over the team is rejected by the team. The team refuses to hear or listen to that person’s input for solving whatever problem was set before the entire group of teams, effectively rejecting that individual and uniting around that rejection. (more…)

#agile2011 On Further Reflection and in Light of the #Verizonstrike

August 20, 2011

Today I was walking around Northern Boulevard under the blazing sun, crossing to the Sport Authority “sales” tent, when I had a kind of “aha.”

At home I’d just read a new blog post by Alistair Cockburn on Agile in Management and Leadership, and was thinking about everything I’d learned at the Agile Conference in Salt Lake City the week of August 8.  I passed a family with two young giggling kids, speaking a Himalayan dialect of some sort to each other, when suddenly occurred to me: the Bhutanese are onto something much bigger with their focus on Gross National Happiness (“GNH”). Might seem kind of obvious, but they’ve given themselves a purpose not based on money.

Previous King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, crowns his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King (REUTERS/Royal Government of Bhutan/Handout)

Previous King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, crowns his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King (REUTERS/Royal Government of Bhutan/Handout)

In case you are not familiar with GNH, here’s a quick summary. The previous King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, realizing that his country would not soon become the richest in the world (particularly since the nation is one of the poorest), focused his people’s purpose on something else: Gross National Happiness.  The team from the Centre for Bhutan Studies, inspired by the direction, developed a sophisticated survey instrument with Karma Ura and Canadian Michael Pennock for measuring happiness in a population.  It is now the official direction the Bhutanese government, newly democratic, passed as a policy. The Government is taking every step to ensure that the GNH “precedes over economic prosperity.” (more…)

#agile2011 Keynote with Linda Rising

August 12, 2011

[Updated on reflection. Scroll down for raw notes.]

This talk moved me to tears. So from the heart. First Dr. Rising gave us her background, and in doing acknowledged her age and mentioned she’d gotten a PhD late in life, defending her dissertation at age 50. Then she stated her intention was to help us, the audience, not make the same mistakes she had made. Importantly, she made a statement which said, roughly, “If what I say is useful for you, please follow that. If not, please disregard.” Her saying this reminded me of great Tibetan Buddhist masters who say the same thing. I’ll tell you why they do in a minute.

Dr. Linda Rising

Dr. Linda Rising