January 2006

The Downfall of the American Match

Have you noticed that matches don't work anymore?

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WiFi Wars

Interesting piece I came across this week. Compares the battles raging over the right for a community to provide high speed wifi with the monopolists' trying to prevent communities from creating municipal electrical cooperatives a century ago. While the battles rage, of course, Japan is building a universal wifi netword 500 times faster than our fastest. How much longer will we be content to float along behind the technological revolution?

Link follows:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0601.podesta.html

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Postcard From the Wedge - London, England

∆ >br>London, England

We were supposed to have a quick lunch meeting with the CIO, but a man three seats in front of us on the plane from Vienna had what appeared to be a heart attack, so our flight made an emergency landing in Frankfurt. Then we had to reclaim our baggage and rebook onto a later flight out of Dusseldorf, so we made a frantic call. Slip over here for more ...

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Democracy Then and Now (from today's NYTimes)

Today's NYTimes speaks of the Struggle Against Majority Tyranny, of checks and balances and how they don't always work. Nice read.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/23/opinion/23mon3.html

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Postcard From The Wedge ∆ - Frankfurt, Germany

∆ >br>Frankfurt, Germany

I was sick. We’d carefully planned the workshop. I was the lead dog. Amy was playing backup.

So I had a responsibility to deliver on my commitment. But just before noon on the third day, feeling as though I had spent the morning trudging through chest-deep snow, I bailed out. Slip over here for more ...

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Vaporized - Part Seven

The Ice Cube or Vapour Box

The relationship between consumer and supplier features unending contradictions. While the consumer desires products that they control, ones that cost nothing to buy, take up no space, are infinately speedy, are of infinite high quality, are infinitely easy to use, and free to operate, suppliers require that one or more of these desires go unsatisfied in order to survive. The relationship is an unending battle to see how long any supplier will retain control over the relationship, and the customer will always ultimately, eventually win.
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Vaporized - Part Six

Legal Maneuvers

9:35am, October 14, 1913. The office of Wyndam, Colbert, and Weese, Attorneys At Law, Westfield Mass.

Present: Godfrey Wyndam, senior partner, and Hiriam Hull III, President of the Westfield Whip Company.

“I tell you, Godfrey, the whole town’s threatened,” Hull continued. “These horseless carriages have become more popular than anyone thought they would fifteen years ago. And as people replace their carriages with these horseless models, the market for our buggy whips is drying up. Remember, Westfield produces 95% of the buggy whips in the country and buggy whip manufacturing produces most of the livelihood in Westfield. Mine. Yours, too.” Slip over here for more ...
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Vaporized - Part Five

Locating The Vapor Point

That Spring of 2001, across the country in Portland, Oregon, True North project guidance strategies, the two-person training and strategic consultancy I’d founded eight years earlier, was barely keeping up with the burgeoning demand for our services. Following a humbling slowdown before Y2K, our client list had expanded to just beyond our ability to confortably service it. Where prior years had seen us make the occasional ten day trip, this year would see me in 53 different hotel rooms, some for as long as two contiguous weeks. One client had prepaid a year’s fees, and cash flow was more positive than ever in the company’s history.
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Vaporized - Part Four

The TidePoint Debacle

In the fall of 2000, Ray L. Steele, Director of the Ball State University Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) invited me to attend their annual alumni awards banquet. Ray had, over the prior decade, built CICS into the graduate degree program most valued by the booming telecommunications industry. The program’s graduates were accepting six figure starting salaries at companies such as MCI, AT&T, and Anderson Consulting. My company had entered into a joint marketing agreement to sell our workshops to CICS’ community, building on a colleague’s use of our material in her Art and Science of Project Management class, a popular part of CICS’ curriculum. Our new relationship was to be introduced to the alumni at the awards banquet.
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Vaporized - Part Two

Part two of my 2003 work about discontinuous change...

No Language Describes It

We have no language to describe a vapourization, just like we have no satisfying description of death. We imagine, we might even find the faith to believe in an afterlife, yet we can search the archives and leave only certain that we’ve found no objective first hand account of what happens next. We describe from painful, shared experience the process of coping with the death of others, but find nothing but obscure scripture written in allegory, like the Tibetan Book of the Dead, to guide the steps of those passing away. We have descriptions of reinvention and re engineering, but these are continuous changes, where someone can track the differences between the old and the new. We can only characterize the missing spaces, the voids left behind by those who leave us. We cannot track their journeys once they leave.
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Level Crossing

Today is my father's 83rd birthday. I wrote this poem for him. Many happy returns!

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Vaporized - Part One

In 2003, I spent a few months working with Peter DeJager on a book about what he called Vapourization (note the Canadian spelling. Peter's Canadian.) Vapourization describes what happens when an industry becomes moot. Like when refrigeration replaced ice men. Like when automobiles co-opted the buggy whip industry. That book didn't find a publisher, but some of my best writing emerged out of that project. I'll snip some pieces into blog-sized bites. Here's a first piece. david

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State of the Union

The State of the Union

I hear lots of rumbling about how we, the people, should impeach President Bush. Now that he’s admitted to initiating this wiretap scheme, claiming that Congress granted him a right which it explicitly denied him and that he’s simply fulfilling a duty of his office, the Internet is filled with virtual pitchforks and burning torches. Voices clamoring for his head.
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∆ Postcard From The Wedge - Vienna, Austria

Invited to present at the Changing Change Management Conference, our plane arrived an hour late.

I found my driver waiting for me just outside baggage claim. He held a sign, “Dr. (they call me doctor there) David Schmaltz”, so I approached him and identified myself. The man standing next to him held a similar sign, “Dr. (they call Amy doctor, too) Amy Schwab,” and Amy tried to explain that she didn’t need a separate ride. But her driver spoke little English, clarified that she was, indeed, Amy Schwab, took her rollaway, and headed for the garage. My driver and I followed.

We took separate cabs to the same hotel. Amy felt kidnapped.
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Ready or Not

The latest Projects@Work has a piece I wrote on New Orleans' Emergency Preparedness Plan. Take a look here: (Slightly annoying registration required...) http://www.projectsatwork.com/content/Articles/227527.cfm

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The Autistic Organization

Earlier this month, Amy and I took True North's Mastering Projects Workshop to Europe. One class, held at the London Chamber of Commerce facility, was booked into a training room next to a room where PRINCE2 certification training was happening. Amy, poking around before we started, came into our room to announce their presence, commenting that their sign said "SPOCE-Successful Projects Operating In Controlled Environments".

"Interesting," I noted, "We're doing a workshop focused upon creating successful projects in uncontrollable environments." We checked with the participants after they arrived to see if we had the right focus, and each said that they worked in an apparently uncontrollable environment. What possible utility, I wondered, would a workshop limiting creating successful projects to controlled environments have in the real world?
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