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One Easter when I was a kid, my folks bought 'us kids' a baby chicken (dyed pink), a baby rabbit, and a baby duck. The rabbit bit the chicken, which died, and the rabbit escaped. The duckling survived, but having no mother duck to teach it how to properly duck, it took lessons from the family dog, who, being a dog, taught it to bark, chase kids, and loyally follow me around. We eventually had to fence this duck in because he'd chase bicycles and cars. Later, we bought a second duck to keep the first one company, but the original wouldn't have anything to do with the late-comer, who eventually moved into the duck community in the city park. Years later, the original duck was killed by a rampaging dog.

I mention this duck because I've been deeply considering what it is that I do, and as usual, this reflection leaves me feeling like an odd duck. Slip over here for more ...



The first of my four installments considering The Ethical Responsibilities of Project Work was published last week in the Projects@Work e-zine.

What prompts me to write about ethics now? In Thomas Friedman's Sunday, October 18 NYT column, he makes the provocative assertion that "We’re all connected and nobody is in charge." It seems to this humble chronicler that management science ignores this one great truth, assuming that we are natively disconnected and that someone's in charge. Consider a world where Friedman's assertion holds true AND where we assume otherwise. What kind of witch hunt might result? I imagine torches and pitchforks, accusations and indictments, the righteous search for those who were supposed to be in charge and failed to properly connect us, initiating yet another round of symbolic regulations (how do you spell Sarbaines-Oxley?) intended to hold those SOBs accountable. Again. Slip over here for more ...


Throw Out Da Bums!

The road to best practice seems twisty, bumpy, and fog-shrouded. The most frequently overheard phrase throughout my career? "We tried that once and it didn't work."

Once? You tried it once? Then concluded that it never would work?

Well, it wasn't just them saying this, I've said it myself.

What happened to "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again?"

Not in the modern corporation, thank yew. Not in my backyard, either. There, the phrase is , "if at first you don't succeed, you've failed." Utterly. Supported by, "We tried that once and it didn't work." Slip over here for more ...


Brush Up Your Shakespeare!

We were doing an extended engagement in NYC a few years ago and, as we often do when working there, we played what we call Broadway Roulette. Show up at Duffy Square a half hour before curtain time and see what tickets are left, buy a couple and head off to a show. We happened one evening on the revival of Kiss Me, Kate, and were delighted. This one piece (in the above YouTube video)
, where two hoodlums, backstage to shakedown the male lead for gambling debts "accidently" wander on stage during a performance, was the highlight of the show for me, because it reminded me that whatever truth we might nudge out at the client's shop, we needed to respect their traditions, or, more to the point, Brush Up Our Shakespeare. Slip over here for more ...

In Praise Of Meaningless Work

“Meaningless work is the soul of being in the body of nothingness.”

For much of my working life, I have been a strong advocate for meaningful work. I've claimed that work quality improves whenever personal purpose gets involved. I've helped people imprint on the greater good and encouraged them to find their project within their project assignment. But today, I want to sing the praises of an under-appreciated kind of work, meaningless work. Slip over here for more ...


Rocket Science

Years ago, I wrote the story of an interview with a Chief Financial Officer of a major American corporation. He had underwritten a project that had grown by insignificant increment to threaten his company’s financial standing. He spent most of the session pointing fingers. That damned VP of IT was really to blame. She was an upstart lesbian trying to play with the big boys in the big leagues. That damned Big N consulting firm was to blame. They were booking hundreds of thousands per month and not making any progress. He even blamed his own staff for not performing as he expected.

He finally proclaimed, exasperated, that “this isn’t rocket science!” Slip over here for more ...


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