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Deep Thoughts

Deep Thoughts

Some of our colleagues describe us as "deep thinkers." They tell us that some people don't want or need ruminations on the basic themes. They advised us, "Leave off the thoughts or you'll chase folks away." We didn't listen. But we care about you, who visit our site. We stow our thoughts here, at the bottom of the web site, where those not interested in our thoughts won't accidentally stumble over them. You may need our diving helmet to descend to some of these depths. We hope you'll enjoy the adventure!

Improving Process in Troubled Times

"Improvements become easily deferrable under cost control's myopic focus. Our attention to the cost of our efforts can destroy any understanding of their underlying value. Which improvement initiatives are most likely to survive when the economy sours our expectations? The ones that the organization believes are valuable."
David A. Schmaltz

Totally Questionable Motives

"Discontinuous progress is more useful, allowing some stasis between the chaos of change. Excessive targets merely inflate reasonable expectations. The result is unreason masquerading as reasonable."
David A. Schmaltz

Nice Nice

"Americans today ... work the newly risen service economy. That means most of us make our living by being nice."
Ian Frazier "On The Rez"


"Few could be more poorly suited to this calling. I cannot remember the color of my own shoes without sneaking a quick peek. I never remember faces. I rarely recall names."
David A. Schmaltz

Change Chaos

"..."But experience is not simply right-handed. Experience is ambidextrous. Much of what is worth learning can only be grasped with our non-dominant hand." "
David A. Schmaltz


"...there is something about relationships that doesn’t love or need full disclosure."
David A. Schmaltz

Ranting With James

"If short-term memory holds "The Magic Number Seven Plus or Minus Two" discrete values, the error is half that, or 1/14 the range of whatever we're talking about. If it's a schedule of around a year, I'd be very suspicious of any refinement under a month in duration, just because people have trouble with that kind of discrimination."
James Bullock

Whistling In The Dark

Step on a crack and break your mother's back."
Childhood Rhyme

Beautiful Drawings

"Here is another liability: beautiful drawings can become ends in themselves. Often, if the drawing deceives, it is not only the viewer who is enchanted but also the maker, who is the victim of his own artifice. Alberti understood this danger and pointed out that architects should not try to imitate painters and produce lifelike drawings. The purpose of architectural drawings, according to him, was merely to illustrate the relationship of the various parts... Alberti understood, as many architects of today do not, that the rules of drawing and the rules of building are not one and the same, and mastery of the former does not ensure success in the latter."
Witold Rybczynski, 
The Most Beautiful House in the World, 
p. 121: Alberti's Law: 

Roughing It

The brain does not achieve fine discrimination by pushing fine discrimination forward in the senses and by producing a more sensitive physical apparatus. ...the brain has had to solve the problem of achieving fine discrimination with a course apparatus. And in many ways you can say about all human problems, whether in science or in literature, whether physical or psychological, that they always center around the same problem: How do you refine the detail with an apparatus which remains at bottom grainy and course?"
Jacob Bronowski
The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination


"Withholding our trust does not create "better safe than sorry," it makes ourselves the most sorry kind of safe."
David A. Schmaltz

Buggy Whips

"We have the potential to discard the dysfunctional notion that projects work best when controlled by a strong, buggy whip-wielding hand, embracing instead the belief that projects work best when managed by a powerful, congruent community. It can be no one person's responsibility for success. If we want to move at speeds exceeding that of a walking horse, which has been our maximum potential for most of human existence, we must set the buggy whip aside."
David A. Schmaltz

Mind Reading

"The actual content of the given ideology is of no consequence in regard to the reality created by acceptance of that ideology. It may completely contradict the content of another ideology. The results, however, are of terrifying stereotypy."
Paul Watzlawick
Components of Ideological "Realities"


"The traumatic lesson the military learned from Vietnam is: no more interventions. Rather than, how best can we intervene? And you have to plan so you're not stumbling into things or making them up as you go along."
Gen. George Joulwan,
former NATO supreme allied commander

A Child's Coat

"We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
Thomas Jefferson

Being There

"You can't build a relationship as a role -- only as a person.  You can't build a relationship without first really showing up yourself." 
Amy Schwab


"...being smart is not so much different from being a bone head. We can, by the way we judge success, make a bone head out of the most gifted genius."
David A. Schmaltz

Worst Case Scenarios

"The plan is a portrait of the planners, not of the proposed project."
David A. Schmaltz

Ancient Roads

"We can move the earth and leave the world unchanged. We can change our hearts and influence everything."
David A. Schmaltz

Confidence and Certainty

"...uncertainty does not necessarily need fixing. It is not just a primitive form of certainty. It is a different animal."
David A. Schmaltz

A Tragedy of the Commons

"Their insistence upon finding the rational solution prevents them from finding a pleasing one. Their search for rationality is irrational."
David A. Schmaltz

Fitting Together

" works best for me to decide that the pieces that show up really do fit together in the most pleasing way imaginable." 
Amy Schwab

Brown Noses

"Columbus [kept track of his position across an ocean] five centuries ago  with little more than a compass, and he didn't even know how that worked."
David Burch


"As a tool for understanding psychological maturation, learning theory is straightforward, clear, remarkably simple, and wrong."
Clifford Anderson, MD

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