Category Archives: Thoughts

Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Today is as good as any to read this essential essay about action and justice. [Audio fans might want to check out this 2015 group reading of the letter, organized by Willie Jackson.]

And now, Acumen is offering a free small-group course/discussion about the letter. All you need to do is find two or three colleagues and sign up here.

“But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension’.”

Eight Ways Goofing Off Can Boost Productivity

Forbes – Leadership

How We’ll Really Feel if Robots Take Our Jobs


Visitors staying at Starwood’s Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, not only have the luxury of humans greeting them and toting around their luggage. They also may be taken care of by a robot bellhop, named Botlr, who is mainly charged with delivering toiletries to guests’ rooms and eliciting smiles along the way.

Of course, by referring to a robot as “who,” I’m already starting to blur the line between humans and machines, something Brian McGuiness, Aloft’s global brand leader, was keen to address in a recent interview with my colleague. “This isn’t going to replace associates or our talent,” he said. “For us, it was really just to augment the team that’s there.”

Despite assurances like these, there’s palpable nervousness among us workers about whether or not robots and algorithms will eventually take our jobs (including yours truly, but I’m generally nervous about everything). This is evidenced, and perhaps brought on by, the number of news reports about hot new bots, a depressed job market still inching out of a global recession, and a much-discussed “skills gap” when it comes to STEM fields. (The Upshot’s Claire Cain Miller does a nice job of putting all of these trends into context.) Even experts are pretty divided about whether or not robots will take our jobs.

Question checklist for reviewing your new marketing materials…

For that new video, or that new brochure, or anything you create that you’re hoping will change minds (and spread):

What’s it for?
    When it works, will we be able to tell? What’s it supposed to do?

Who is it for?
    What specific group or tribe or worldview is this designed to resonate with?

What does this remind you of?
    Who has used this vernacular before? Is it as well done as the previous one was?

6 Common Leadership Practices That Are Sooo Last Year

The reputation of your business is the biggest asset of your company; it’s the reason people are willing to buy your services, respect your better judgement, and favour you over other companies. The quickest way to destroy the reputation you have acquired is to follow practices that are bad, wrong, or just plain stupid. Following … … Continue reading
Linked 2 Leadership

Is What You Know Holding You Back?

Investor and entrepreneur Paul Kedrosky wrote in What Should We Be Worried About? by John Brockman: “Writer William Gibson once famously said that ‘The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.’ I worry more that the past is here—it’s just so evenly distributed that we can’t get to the future.

brick wall

What we know has a bearing on what we learn. What we know can not only limit if we learn but it limits what we learn. What we know acts as a filter to what we learn. We naturally filter out things that don’t fit with things we already know. We are quite adept at putting a spin on what we learn so that it is consistent with what we already know.

Office Politics Is Just Influence by Another Name


Most of us cringe when we think about office politics. It’s a disgusting, immoral mess that we try to avoid. After all, who wants to participate in backstabbing, lying, cheating, blaming, sucking up, and playing people against each other? Or maybe you take a slightly less offensive view of office politics and see it as controlling agendas, building covert alliances, protecting access to key leaders, and holding “meetings before the meeting.” No matter what your take, it’s not surprising that honest people don’t want to get involved.

But are politics at work inherently dirty?

The truth is that just being a member of an organization is a political act. And in fact, we must influence people at work all the time. It’s how we get things done. And to influence, we must have power, the real currency in workplaces. Most people want it. All of us need it. In healthy organizations, we “get” power, or are granted power, by virtue of our ability to inspire and provide vision. We also get power as a result of what we can do for people. In companies that value people and results, we are granted power because we help to create a vibrant climate and a resonant culture that is ripe with hope, enthusiasm, and a can-do spirit. In such companies power is used well – for the good of people and the enterprise.