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Archive for the ‘The Greater Good’ Category

Got Vision? Tree Huggers, Unite!

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I really don’t consider myself an environmentalist nut. Yes, I am very aware of our global issues but who isn’t? Now and then my avocation (wind industry) leads me to information that is really hard to blow off, like this.

A degree by degree explanation of what will happen when the earth warms

How aware are you of global warming? Think about your grandchildren-what will their world be like, if we only get 1-2 degrees warmer which is already about guaranteed? Don’t even read the projections for a more than 2 degree increase.

This is sobering to the nth degree. Read it, share it, wake up.

Now, for that engagement thing…when someone connects to a larger purpose their emotional connection therefore engagement levels ramps up dramatically. I’m lucky-I don’t even have to stretch to see my greater purpose. How about you?

Leaders and influencers-what things have you done, to help people connect to a greater purpose? How do you do it without sounding like a fringe evangelist?



Written by Craig

November 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm

The Secret of Life

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A little Brain Dump is always a good way to start the work week. I feel better already.

Engagement and success are kissing cousins. Need one to have the other. To me, these few things make or break whether you are “successful” whatever success means to you. No matter if you’re talking about a relationship, being a parent, or being in any position from president / politician, from the big boss all the way to a factory worker or admin assistant to the assistant.

This is not nuclear physics. It won’t solve world hunger. I’ll take care of that this afternoon. But for now…add something to the Secret of Life short list and “Like” if you think this isn’t out of reach. If you don’t like this, I probably wouldn’t ‘like’ you!

  • Do what you know is right.
  • Do what’s expected of you. If you don’t know, ask. Ignorance is not an excuse.
  • Take time to consider the other person’s needs and feelings.
  • Find what you like to do, and were meant to do. Then, Just DO it!

Reward those people who deliver on these things. No matter whether a simple “thanks, you’re appreciated” or a little well-earned respect. Money sometimes works too, but those other things are free.

Get rid of or at least distance yourself from those who don’t deliver. They may be contagious and life’s too short. It may sound cold, but Darwin was right.

Add anything to the list?


Written by Craig

August 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

Gotta Love Those Life-changing Events

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It’s June 16, 2012. A beautiful Saturday morning except that it’s my third sunrise looking out a hospital window. I’ve had a heart attack, fairly minor but still way up there in the hierarchy of life-changing events.

The realizations creep in one-by-one. This is my third too-close brush with being finite. I’m 58 and maybe I’m not indestructible after all. Maybe I need to finish writing those songs. Maybe continuous 13-hour days are not as do-able as I thought. Maybe I do need to pay attention to what I eat. Maybe I need to pay more attention to my wife’s nagging (?) and start taking all those supplements. Maybe I don’t have forever to do all the things I really want to do.

We’re each given only so much of it…maybe I need to stop wasting time.

This book project has plodded along for well over two years, through numerous direction and design changes and spurts of progress before stalling out again. The irony: Connections makes the case for identifying, understanding and relentlessly pursuing your values-driven goals, to become fully connected with what is truly important to you, to set your direction then doggedly stay on that path. The destination: a happier, more productive, longer and healthier life.

Physician, heal thyself!

They told me this morning it would be at least two weeks before I go back to work. That’s a great chance to get things in perspective and get back on track, even though I hope to negotiate that “two weeks” down a bit (see, there I go).

One thing I’ve learned that I hope you can take to heart: the wake-up calls we get can be extremely rude and obnoxious if you don’t tune in and pay attention to the more subtle signals.

Tomorrow is my first day on the outside. It’s also Father’s Day, and I’m going to ease into this recovery business. Going fishing with my daughter.

Look, listen, connect. It’s a good place.


Post-fishing excursion update: I’m afraid I exceeded my 10lb weight restriction a couple of times. What was I supposed to do, hand the pole over to my daughter and say “you better handle this one-it’s too big for me”? Not gonna happen.

Written by Craig

June 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm

What Drives You?

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Connecting is a personal thing, the essence of being human. Connecting is the fuel that keeps the fire of high engagement burning, and engagement is the great difference maker in peoples’ lives. Lasting engagement is driven by connecting—first connecting with myself, then with others one-on-one, in up close and personal relationships.

This thing called ‘connecting’ is what drives me. I can look back on my path and identify significant things that have happened and helped shape the person I am.

What drives you? What experience(s) really stick in your mind and have a good deal to do with who you are, what you think, what you do? Of the two drivers that really stand out for me, one is more personally impactful than the other, therefore tougher to relate. I’ll start with the less challenging of the two.


I first came across a short story called Cipher in the Snow by Jean E. Mizer in a college textbook that has been long lost. Even though Cipher is fiction, Cliff Evans has haunted me since. My fear is that this fiction all too often reality.

I was a substitute teacher for a couple of very rewarding years. Teachers would typically pass along their insights as to who to watch out for…the problem students. I was expected to be the regular teachers’ surrogate iron fist for these problem students, and march them to the office at the first sign of insurrection which, they assured me, was sure to come.  

A school administrator once told me the toughest thing to accept for any educator is that you cannot win every battle. I was just a substitute but the story of Cliff Evans drove me every day, not those all-knowing cautions.

If I am heading into battle, I first develop a strategy. My favorite substitute strategy was to convert any alleged Enemy I received intel on. If successful, the battle is won. So I made special efforts to connect with those tough cases I was warned about, those who had been written off. More often than not, I won.

That was several years ago. Still, when I run across one of those tough cases now and then we are genuinely glad to see each other. They remember and appreciate that I cared enough to connect with them. We still have a genuine connection.

What really drove me in education, and what still drives me in business and socially, is this burning question posed by Mizer in Cipher:

How do you go about making a boy into a zero?

     The grade-school records showed me. The first and second grade teachers’ annotations read “sweet, shy child;” “timid but eager.” Then the third grade note had opened the attack. Some teacher had written in a good firm, hand: “Cliff won’t talk. Uncooperative. Slow learner.” The other academic sheet had followed with “dull;” “slow-witted;” “low IQ. “ They became correct. The boy’s IQ score in the ninth grade was listed at 83. But his IQ in the third grade had been 196. The score didn’t go under 100 until seventh grade. Even shy, timid, sweet children have resilience. It takes time to break them.

How about beyond education? How much influence does ranking individuals drive the reality of who they are and how they perform? Can we make a worker a “zero”? It seems we are obsessed with making people “average” starting very early in the education system and continuing with traditional performance assessments and competency-based development.  

All in all, we’re just another brick in the wall.  If this link is still functional, it is a powerful piece on human mass production.

A while back I revisited Cipher. It’s easy to Google. I had never forgotten the story’s title, or the lesson. Or Cliff Evans. But I had forgotten just how powerful Cipher really is.

How could a person not care?

Driver #2: Steely Dan

I’ve lost good friends I played music with, some of whom self-destructed. While I’m rather fond of Steely Dan the band this is about Steely Dan the man, and it is a tough one to relate here. “Steely Dan” remains deeply unforgettable thirty years later.

Dan had destructive habits. I believe we must chart our own course, and I felt back then there were personal space lines I shouldn’t cross. So I was the bandmate who was always there to pick Dan up and put him back on his stool. No judgment, no criticism, no meddling.

I wasn’t there the last time Dan fell off his stool. I was hundreds of miles away. Just like Cliff Evans, he collapsed in a snow bank one cold January Iowa day and died. I realized I had been an enabler. I didn’t connect with Dan like I could have.

Those things have shaped me, along with my professional experience in influence-wielding prior roles. When is it my responsibility or duty to step up, voice my concern, get involved? Conversely, when do I need to make the choice to shut up and let it go? And, can I live with the results of shutting up?

 These drivers have set the stage for a great internal conflict, and it is a continuing source of stress for me. Life really is all about choosing your battles wisely, about being able to deal with the reality and the consequences of not winning them all. But when you are driven to connect, driven to be the great problem solver and wise counselor for all, how do you survive?

Still looking for the answer. If you join the search please let me know if you come across the key to this dilemma. There’s a lot at stake.

Written by Craig

January 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm

What’s Your “One Thing”?

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City Slickers Dialogue: Metro Man Mitch (Billy Crystal) and Cowpoke Curly (Jack Palance)

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? This. [holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

My personal vision, developed 15 years ago: leave a legacy, make an impact. I have a detailed strategy and ever-adapting action plan to support that vision but won’t bore you with it here, except to say that my strategic pyramid is based on personal values, a few attributes that have been my deepest drivers since at least junior high. A long time ago! I am certain these are deep, personality-anchored values, not just transitory or behavioral based on where I am at present.

I’ve given it a good deal of thought, in part through the work on this project. I am certain my “One Thing” is to connect. That is what my personal well-being and engagement is dependent upon, and connecting will allow me to become an effective enabler of engagement for those in my circle of influence….my ticket to leaving a legacy, making an impact.

There are many different connections, one being the connection among all I do in my life. It flies in the face of work-life balance, but I Am What I Do. Am I just lucky enough to be involved in something that allows me to attack the whole enchilada at once, with one focus, and not have to be overly concerned with maintaining that precious balance? Or maybe I’m deluding myself and I really am a workaholic headed for burnout?

There is a lot at stake. Those dynamics bear close watching, and I’m on it!

I teach at a local college now and then, most recently my personal favorite Total Quality Management: Performance Excellence. “Total quality” means just that: it encompasses everything we do at work, at home, in the community. Performance excellence in its broadest sense is meeting expectations first time, every time, on time–again at work, at home, in the community. So the class has a decidedly “big” flavor. Workplace-specific concepts and theories are applied to students’ private lives and vice versa.

Class exercises, discussions and projects are absolutely relevant to my day job. What applies in class applies to work, applies at home, applies socially. I research one and it applies directly to the other.

I get a lot of good out of reading and contributing to discussions on The Employee Engagement Network, a growing global social network of over 3,000 devotees of engagement (easy to find: Google it).  What I read there, what I contribute there has everything to do with what I do at work, what I share in my college class, who I am at home, my role in the community.

I am what I do, I do who I am. I am connected.

Your Challenge: connect. It’s a good place.

Written by Craig

February 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

Outside-the-Box Engagement

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Engagement has everything to do with connecting, a couple of examples follow. This is relevant to “the Greater Good” to which I have a deep personal connection.

I play a little music on the side, with a couple of good friends. We’ve played anywhere from horse barns to islands to state fairs. Think (very) poor man’s Crosby, Stills and Nash only a little more eclectic. We take on anything from Prine to Motown, showing each the same level of disrespect as we spin them our own way. There and Back Again.

OK, I’ll admit we’re pretty good even though that’s being mildly prejudiced.

We’re thankfully past having to make a great deal of money playing music, so we do a lot of events that are along the “greater good” lines…nursing homes, benefits etc. This past Veterans Day we were part of a tribute that included some extremely engaging food. While we were enjoying our pay for the day afterwards, a Navy vet with a WW II hat came over to visit with us.

One of my music partners is involved in a project for which he informally video interviews veterans, capturing their raw recounts of their experiences and their lives in general on video. He mentioned the project to our new friend, who thought a moment before replying “well, I don’t have a whole lot to talk about.” Famous First Words. We spent the next 45 minutes connecting with this man who survived Pearl Harbor, saw several of his good friends go down, and in the process I hope we helped him connect back to his life.

We were all deeply humbled at this meek man’s greatness.

Same event, different story. My partner had finished a song that morning he called “I’ve Got Wheels” that he wanted to do as a tribute to vets. A quick synopsis….young boy gets his first tricyle, refrain “Look at me, dad…I’ve got wheels.” As a teenager he gets his first car, same refrain. A few years later the young man goes off to war, comes back and de-planes …his first words to his dad were, you guessed it.

I have a couple of songs that can really hit me as I’m singing them, and on occasion I’ve struggled to get through them. But my partner absolutely and completely choked up and had to stop halfway through the first verse, which was “only” the little boy taking his first spin on his new tricycle. Talking with him afterwards, he said he was so emotionally connected and the visual was so vivid he couldn’t continue. And this was not based on a personal experience, it was simply a story he wanted to tell.

This is an example of an external event or stimulus, magnified by an intense emotional connection. Maybe too intense to be relevant for workplace engagement? But how powerful would it be if we could be driven by even a small fraction of that level of connection, at work or any other activity, or in our lives?

Written by Craig

January 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

About the Flawless Execution Web Site

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If you stopped by this blog, chances are you will be interested in visiting my other home on the web. I’d like to invite you to  Flawless Execution. No frills, just information that I hope is of value to you. Look around, and if something grabs your attention or you have a question or comment, email me at or come back to the blog and comment. I’ll be glad to help when I can.

I am a people and process improvement practitioner and have worked closely with organized labor leadership, as well as all levels and functions of management. This diverse background has given me a broad perspective on what it takes to achieve flawless execution. Defined:

Achieving a goal, meeting a requirement or completing a task in minimal time and effort, doing it right the first time, to perfection.

Flawless execution is the end result of doing many things very well, including providing an environment that promotes full engagement, alignment and cascading of the plan, ensuring clear expectations and accountability, continuously communicating with and involving the team, providing necessary system and skills support, and gathering and acting on meaningful real-time metrics.

Two attributes in particular make a real difference in achieving flawless execution, and are my points of emphasis:

• Dual Perspective: I have been both a driver and a do-er, in both operations improvement and people development;

• Double Vision: focus on both process and people to achieve excellence and optimal results.

Referencing back to the definition of flawless execution above: some companies are good at some of these things, some are good at others. The exceptional companies excel at all of these. It’s a lot like Deming’s insistence on all 14 Points or none. All are essential. Except I don’t quite have the credibility or clout WED did.

Last, I hope you’ll take time to consider The Greater Good: applying concepts, principles, tools and techniques from the worlds of business and industry to society, community, local government, education, individual excellence et al. This is a work-in-process: we all thrive on striving for the greater good!

Written by Craig

September 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm