Intruequest Idea Exchange

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In hope of spurring a useful conversation, I'm sharing something that has been on my mind a lot lately.

Along with all of the trimming of resources (people and dollars) that are occurring, I see so many hidden costs.  Reorganization efforts are implemented one right after another, and people never get acclimated to a new role or place. What does this disorientation cost?  People quite naturally protect their "turfs" and these tensions between individuals or groups are never resolved. What does this protectionism cost?  Goals are in contradiction across parts of the organization and alignment is never addressed.  What does this misalignment cost?  Trust doesn't exist up and down and around the organization to support the flow of desperately needed new ideas or information.  What does this hesitance cost?  Key talent leaves and no one is able to fill the role(s) due to diminishing investment in training, development and coaching. What does this gap cost?  

I believe the hidden costs are HUGE and could easily undermine other well intentioned cost cutting efforts.  Do you agree or not?  What hidden costs do you think about these days? I would love to know your thoughts.  Post your ideas, comments, or reactions. 

Friday, October 23, 2009


Writing performance reviews and engaging in feedback discussions can be stressful for the best of us. You are not alone – there’s support “out here”! We’ll coach you, and you can use this blog to leverage each other’s expertise.

What are your challenges and dilemmas? Tell us your thoughts and stories and let’s have a supportive conversation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


This past weekend my husband and I were driving away in the car when I remarked about “all of the bird droppings all over the car.” My half of the windshield was covered. My husband, who was driving, slowed the car down and started looking around. “Which car?” he asked. I was stunned. Wasn’t it obvious? It was all right in front of us and more than half of the windshield was covered. Yet, he didn’t see it. I often see this in business settings. Huge rifts occur when people think they are talking about the same thing and later come to discover that they are actually talking about different topics, or may be talking about the same topic but coming from totally different perspectives. People can get so fixed on their “picture”, especially when their “picture” is so obvious to them, that they can’t even begin to fathom that their colleagues have a different point of perspective or see a completely different “picture.” A leader’s job requires that she bring out all of the multiple perspectives that exist and to simultaneously manage all of those multiple perspectives. This requires the ability to not get fixed on our own pictures, to ask questions and be curious about what another person is “seeing.” How do you see beyond your obvious view? How do you help others understand the multiple realities that co-exist all at the same time?

Friday, May 29, 2009


Our bloggers wrote some truly inspiring responses last month to our “Systems Thinking” post. A resounding theme seemed to be that leading with a global consciousness and an interdependent view requires time, and moreover, caring. In our minds, many of the current challenges facing both this society and the world were precipitated not by the greed and malice that often gets projected, but rather by a “heads down” narrow viewpoint, probably quite well intentioned and innocent. So our question is, as leaders, what would it take for you to expand your consciousness and your caring beyond immediate boundaries? A role redefinition? Some incentive? Some learning?

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Thursday, May 7, 2009


I was riveted to my car seat recently as I listened to an interview with Wangari Maathai (2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner). Her description of the relationship between trees and the quality of life was poetry. She described a Kikuyu tradition of protecting fig trees, believed at one time to be sacred. Of course, with the tradition having been lost to some extent, life has become much harder for women. Thus, land is now eroded and water is less abundant due to the absence of those deep roots drawing water closer to the earth’s surface. With the trees’ absence, women have to walk farther to find water sources and the effect cascades – to time, to health, to farming, to local and global commerce. As I listened to her, I wondered about the degree to which people in organizations think about and understand the systems interdependence in their work. Of course, we often help people think systemically within the organizational boundary and perhaps slightly beyond. But it’s apparent, given current business and social challenges, that much of systems thinking practice has been narrow rather than from a position of everything being in some way related to everything else. It seems like time is of the essence to expand the boundary – very widely, in fact. Even for those of us who say that we understand interdependence, I still imagine that other than a little recycling and/or energy conservation, we live our lives from the place of individualists rather than from one of interdependence. I wonder what it would take to shift our perspective to one of true interdependence?

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Some recent events have caused me to want to get signed contracts from my clients promising that they will take better care of themselves. With the current economic challenges, the stress level is obviously off of the charts these days. I propose that even if leaders are not aware of experiencing more stress themselves, they are absorbing a high level of stress simply from the air they are breathing. I certainly am. Yet, I also realize that many of us, at least in the United States, have little skill in taking care of ourselves – a healthy diet and some exercise and some sleep are about the only menu items that we know to pull from, and in limited portions that in no way compare to the typical work week (and I put parenting and family/household responsibilities inside of the “work week” category. Can we even fathom what real balance would look like? And even if we could, how many of us have the guts to create it for ourselves?

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I recently attended a professional conference. I had been looking forward to hearing the keynote speakers—well known experts in their fields. As I sat there listening, I realized that they were talking about the same models or information that they’ve shared in publications for years. Meanwhile, I became painfully aware of my learning (or not learning!) thought pattern. I was listening from a stance of “tell me something I don’t already know.” In a number of subsequent workshops that day, I continued to notice similar thoughts and started constantly asking myself, “I wonder how this habit gets in my way of being able to see something new?” Now, I’m thinking about this habit in relationship to leadership and particularly with regard to the extraordinary challenges that leaders are facing at this time. I wonder how “thinking one already knows” is getting in the way of the kind of innovation that’s needed in our current reality? I wonder how often leaders intentionally practice a stance of “not knowing” or “beginner’s mind” in the course of their work days? Maybe this is what we should be teaching more?

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