Of Ties and Mothballs - December 30th, 2006

One, two, three. . . 48, 49, “you can do it,” 50. The time was 1964. The place was a high school gym class. The purpose was to follow the Fitness Program set forth by the Kennedy administration to make the youth of America healthy. We all were gobbling up trans fats, however. Margarine was the craze, although frankly it was disaster for cooking -- burn baby burn.

Fast forward to 2006, we have been declared the heaviest nation on earth. We have the highest obesity rate of any country. Wow. Individuals have taken heed. Technology has designed interactives that are likely to melt fat away, if we don’t destroy the house or decapitate an onlooker in the process. New York City has declared a war on trans fat, outlawing it in all restaurants. Various restaurants have done the same. The avalanche is likely to follow.

Yes, things sure do seem to come and go. Wide ties one year and the narrowest of narrow the next. But each time the pendulum swings, we do not go back to precisely the same spot retracing the exact steps. Our technology has taken us forward to enable Sony’s PlayStation 3 and a host of PS3 Games. Now exercising is while we play. Multi-tasking appears to be what we do. We use cell phones, IPods, PDAs while doing a host of things. Sometimes this gets us in trouble and many states are now putting laws on the books to prevent phone use while driving. Guidelines and standards are not immutable, although it seems we don’t go back and clean up the books much, many towns still have hitching laws.

There is a movement a foot to return to performance-based training, to establish the clearest of metrics and to focus on the most specific of skill sets. In principle, why not develop a company skills-based ‘six pack.’ We have learned so much about organizations, team development, and leadership since the last skills-based pendulum swing. There appears to be more to successful business and leadership development. Have we forgotten about: 1) Daniel Goleman’s many publications on Emotional Intelligence; 2) The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge who emphasizes the learning organization and the importance of an open system; or 3) Collin’s messages about passion, vision, and values in Built to Last and Good to Great?

Should not our challenge be to integrate and synthesize competence-based learning within a broader system of focus and potential impact? Rather than viewing it as an either or should we not be considering it, as both? Deep sixing wide ties means preventing individuals and organizations from potential growth. Where are the mothballs?

posted by Fran Deutsch at 01:51:32 PM permalink | comments