Cash, Conscience & the Moral Compass

It’s a big day in Brunei.

Starting today, it is legal to stone homosexuals to death.

New Islamic laws that took effect in Brunei on Wednesday, punishing gay sex and adultery by stoning offenders to death, have triggered an outcry from countries, rights groups and celebrities far beyond the tiny Southeast Asian nation’s shores.

The penalties were provided for under new sections of Brunei’s Sharia Penal Code, instituted in 2014 to bolster the influence of Islam in the oil-rich monarchy of around 430,000 people, two-thirds of whom are Muslim.

Even before 2014, homosexuality was already punishable by a jail term of up to 10 years. But under the new laws, those found guilty of gay sex could be stoned to death. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offense and a left foot on their second.

By now, you’ve probably seen the calls for action – in this case, the boycotting of the luxury hotel chain (list at the end of this post) that is owned by the Sultan of Brunei – on the part of George Clooney, Ellen Degeneres, Elton John, Bobby Berk and a host of other, vocal celebrities. 

Succinctly put:

“They’re nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But let’s be clear, every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery. Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

George Clooney Op-Ed

This call for boycott was first vocalized back in 2014, as the Sultan announced his plan to invoke Sharia Law throughout Brunei by 2019. The furor died down and is now revitalized by the actual fact of this inhumane legal structure. Of course, this writer supports an active, vocal boycott; though my personal budget has never afforded me entree to that level of hospitality, so my staying away from the Dorchester Collection will have literally no effect on their profits.

As of this writing, I am unaware of any of my peers, colleagues or their companies actually doing business in Brunei. I would hope that any such business enterprise would cease with the knowledge of these aggressive, egregious violations of simple human rights. 

But, that’s not my call. These are personal and business decisions to be made by oneself with respect to one’s own business and point of view.

The thing is, this is far bigger than just Brunei. The spectrum on this planet of governments and businesses who aggressively support Hate is vast and broad. Hate for minorities, hate for women, hate for other-colored peoples, hate for homosexuals: Hate. 

So, when business profit goes to support hate; whither the Right Course? How much can concern for Life on the Planet affect decisions that are “purely business;” and is anything “purely business” at all, anyway?

From the US$2million a year that Chick-fil-A donates to US-based LGBTQ-targeted hate groups to the Russian pogrom of homosexuals in Chechnya to the government of Saudi Arabia ordering the brutal murder of a US Resident journalist, the degree of severity, the level of transgression, the sheer and willful abnegation of Human Values is virtually overwhelming. Simply keeping track of all the places and instances of hateful abuses of Power is exhaustive.

So, do we have a moral duty to pay attention to where the profits of our offshore or domestic expenditures go?

That being said, they are personal and business decisions with very real human ramifications. My own sense is that putting money in the Hands of Those Who Hate must, at some level, take a karmic or spiritual toll.

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During my four-year sojourn in Dubai, these conversations occupied no small amount of time and energy among friends and colleagues. There is a case to be made for being physically present in countries and regions of oppression; somewhat protected by having American citizenship thus able to represent to locals the truth and facts of freedoms available and accepted in other parts of the world. 

Enlightened citizens may have the opportunity to change their countries laws and cultures from within. Maybe. Sometimes.

At the same time and in the same conversations, it was incumbent on the Americans to cop to our own country’s de facto, endemic racism, hate and Human Rights Violations. We are not so innocent; especially now.

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So what are our responsibilities as businesspeople and citizens of the US and of the world? At what point can we, with conscience intact, do business with governments or institutions for which Hate is such a part?

Is there a line we can walk with integrity; growing a global business while standing for humane treatment of and respect for all human beings? Can we say “…it’s not our business…” as we pay the taxes and pour profits into the accounts of nationals who Hate…who legislate and act on said Hate?

Can we take a stand for what we know is right and still have a business?

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So: the information:

Again, these are calls that no one of us can make for another. The only universal action available to us is to simply inform and be informed. Decisions must lie with the Individuals and Boards. 

Even a quickly-gathered list of Areas and Governments of Concern is exhausting to read.

1) List of Dorchester Hotels:

  • The Dorchester, London
  • 45 Park Lane, London
  • Coworth Park Dorchester, Ascot
  • The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
  • Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
  • Le Meurice, Paris
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
  • Hotel Eden, Rome
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

2) UAE. We already know that it’s against the law to be HIV+ in the UAE and Malaysia, subject to immediate removal from the country.

3) Russia / Chechnya. Russian police continue to harass LGBTQ individuals, groups and gatherings.

Since the Sochi games brought to the world’s attention the Putin government’s policy of overt harassment, humiliation and torture of Russia’s LGBTQ population, there has been increasing public scrutiny and outcry. Yet, gay people are still disappearing from Chechnya and incidents such at that cited in the above news article continue to proliferate.

4) San Antonio tossed Chick-fil-A out of their airport.

This franchise chain has been giving millions to anti-gay hate groups for years. Yet, we are continually surprised at the number of otherwise conscious and aware peers and colleagues who have no idea that this is taking place. Other towns and college campuses are following suit. 

5) Qatar: Sharia law in Qatar applies only to Muslims, who can be put to death for extramarital sex, regardless of sexual orientation.

6) Saudi Arabia: Under the country’s interpretation of sharia law, a married man engaging in sodomy or any non-Muslim who commits sodomy with a Muslim can be stoned to death. All sex outside of marriage is illegal.

7) Afghanistan: The Afghan Penal Code does not refer to homosexual acts, but Article 130 of the Constitution allows recourse to be made to sharia law, which prohibits same-sex sexual activity in general. Afghanistan’s sharia law criminalizes same-sex sexual acts with a maximum of the death penalty. No known cases of death sentences have been meted out since the end of Taliban rule in 2001.

8 Somalia: The penal code stipulates prison, but in some southern regions, Islamic courts have imposed sharia law and the death penalty.

9) Sudan: Three-time offenders under the sodomy law can be put to death; first and second convictions result in flogging and imprisonment. Southern parts of the country have adopted more lenient laws.

10) Mauritania: Muslim men engaging in homosexual sex can be stoned to death, according to a 1984 law, though none have been executed so far. Women face prison.

11) Nigeria: Federal law classifies homosexual behavior as a felony punishable by imprisonment, but several states have adopted sharia law and imposed a death penalty for men. A law signed in early January makes it illegal for gay people countrywide to hold a meeting or form clubs.

12) Yemen: According to the 1994 penal code, married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for homosexual intercourse. Unmarried men face whipping or one year in prison. Women face up to seven years in prison.

13) Iran: In accordance with sharia law, homosexual intercourse between men can be punished by death, and men can be flogged for lesser acts such as kissing. Women may be flogged.

14) South Carolina: California is banning state-funded travel to South Carolina because of policies it considers discriminatory toward LGBT people.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the ban Tuesday. He says a provision in a budget bill passed last year allows faith-based child-placing agencies to discriminate against those who do not conform to their religious beliefs or moral convictions, including members of the LGBTQ community. 

Becerra’s decision is based on a 2017 California law that bans state-funded or state-sponsored travel to states that authorize discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. California already bars official travel to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

All food for thought: IMHO

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Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies,

 “IMHO: Creating Compelling Experience”  

remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. 

Seriously: Free. That’s the link, right up there.

A Bold and Timely Move

Not Animatronics

“Treating one’s colleagues with respect is a basic best practice in life and business. The themed entertainment industry is a unique business community: highly collaborative, highly creative and bringing together many different cultures and ways of doing business. It is also a field in which many people remain for the whole of their professional careers. To help ensure that TEA events are friendly, safe, and welcoming for all participants, at all times, these guidelines help identify unacceptable behavior and indicate steps that may be taken to help ensure a safe and positive experience for all.”

TEA Events – Appropriate Conduct Guidelines 

In a bold and timely act of international leadership, the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) has published a set of Appropriate Conduct Guidelines for all TEA Events, worldwide. 

In this writer’s experience, we have not seen a policy as broad, specific, clear and articulate inserted into the actual ticket-purchasing process as caveat for participation in all events, meetings, conferences or special occasions. 

It has been barely a year since our Summit Stage was host to a hard-hitting presentation and discussion on the #MeToo initiative and the insidious presence of subtextual and overt sexual harassment in our professional contexts…indeed, throughout our lives. 

That presentation opened a frank discussion and awareness of the virtually invisible energy that can pervade various gatherings; unrecognized by those who aren’t the direct target of abuse or discomfort – while completely undermining the experience of those targeted.

The backstory of this newly created edict includes a committed, vocal group of members choosing to create their own protected “safe table” at our annual Thea Awards Event on April 14 of this year – a night to which many fondly, wryly refer as “The Theme Park Prom.” As this move to create a safe space within our space came to light; the concept and conversation were ultimately embraced by TEA Leadership and, in short order (especially for a non-profit bureaucracy!), this code was born.

The TEA has listened to and handily heard from myriad factions within their membership and moved with alacrity to create and establish these guidelines…guidelines-with-teeth, one might say. 

Beyond identifying general guidelines, the document makes room for the singular incident that may cause discomfort. It provides for immediate courses of action and immediate, on-site consequences for violation of the precepts of this code. 

Sections include;

  • General Guidelines
  • Identifying unacceptable behaviors and harassment
  • What to do if unacceptable conduct takes place
  • Consequences of violating behavior guidelines

…and closes with this:

“By their nature, TEA events often combine professional activities with social interaction. This is core to business networking and to fostering connections between participants, with the goal of fostering industry growth and improvement. TEA reserves the right to remove anyone whose social attentions become unwelcome to another, particularly if the behavior continues after their unwelcome nature has been communicated to the offending party. TEA also reserves the right to remove any participant who appears inebriated. TEA further reserves the right to remove any participant who engages in conduct that interferes with the ability of others to participate in and enjoy the event.”

Teeth.

While this document and policy are likely organic, and may evolve with time and practice; as they stand they are comprehensive, inclusive and above all a powerful statement in support of all members and guests. 

This is landmark. Worthy of accolade and acknowledgement. 

Kudos to the groundbreakers, the conversation starters and TEA leadership for moving fast and cleanly.

Worth a read, worth emulating; the entire document (it’s only two pages) is available here. 

IMHO: Great work.

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Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO: Creating Compelling Experience”  remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. 

Seriously: Free. That’s the link, up there.

Someone’s Child

On a recent cold, wet morning, I turned the corner into my street and encountered this. Here it is; an articulately painful metaphor for homelessness.

I get it. I don’t kid myself. Homelessness is a smelly, dirty, often noisy, unpleasant, sometimes dangerous and at least scary element of thousands of neighborhoods and cities. No argument.

Some are homeless due to drugs and concomitant mental deterioration, some due only to mental deterioration, some out of a downward slide into hopeless poverty, some out of sudden, unforeseen circumstance.

While I hate the problem, recognize the complexity and do not know how to solve it; I can’t hate these people. Whatever the point of view each hold that keeps them on the street; they are each and every one of them human beings. Someone’s child.

I imagine the experience of having no shelter, no anchor, no place that is “mine” can erode one’s self respect, self esteem, view of the world. I can excuse the anger I encounter (as difficult as it is to deal with); it just makes me so sad.

Imagine having no place to simply shit. No place. Every day seeking an open bathroom, some retailer’s brave courtesy, being relegated to finding a space behind a dumpster or someplace where no one can see… And failing to find it in time.

Shame. Humiliation. Rage. Pain. Despair. This photo says all that with one image. Just toss the pants and give up.

My personal approach is to look each in the eye, acknowledging the humanity therein…sometimes deep and barely there…hoping at least to offer a sense of recognition – of being seen – as Human and present.

Sometimes, that can become an uncomfortable begging situation; but far more often it’s just a kind word and a nod from both of us. I can contribute that. At least.

IMHO


 “IMHO – Creating Compelling Experience”  , read and studied throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, is a free download from iTunes and the iBook Store. Free.

Leadership, Transparency, Fearlessness

Leadership without Fear

The entire Western and Corporate worlds have and are evolving into new methodological contexts – with raised expectations of transparency, participation, collaboration and recognition of the inherent value of the individual as part and parcel of membership, stakeholder or workforce in Association, Organization or Business. It’s not just TDM (those darn millennials) anymore.

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First, though, perhaps we might address this term, “Millennial.”

Now might be the time to drop this word from our lexicon as the pejorative term it has become. No longer really applicable to a specific, definable age-demographic; if anything, Millennial is a point of view, a way of seeing things, a combination of aspiration, inquisitiveness, a sense of one’s value (and perhaps a smidgeon of entitlement, here and there) that pervades vast segments of society and culture…largely irrelevant anymore to age or “generation” and more broadly so to exponentially greater segments of the professional workforce who plan on remaining in that workforce for some time to come.

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Thus, it behooves those in leadership positions to embrace the r/evolution and factor consciousness of these perspectives into management and leadership techniques and styles that resonate and function effectively in the new world.

What does that mean? Primarily: it means Listening

In broad terms what this means is that the aged model of top-down leadership is dying on the vine of ineffectiveness. Executives and boards (especially of non-profits and more and more of corporations: witness the Google walkouts of last week) can no longer expect membership or staff and workforce to accept what is decided in the privacy of boardroom/backroom and “executive sessions” as The Right Thing.

People who have been immersed in transparency and full availability of information for the greater part of their lives are not willing to accept the traditional dictum and edict model anymore. Those affected by decisions expect to see and know the etymology of said decisions and policies; to see, participate in, appreciate and embrace the path by which these were reached. Even with final decisions to which they may not be fully in agreement, people are far more likely to support the result if they’ve been a respected part of the process by which it was created.

Not only do they want to “see the research,” they expect to be a part of that research; to have had a voice in the outreach for and collection of data, of the factors that inform decision-making relevant to themselves, their work, their support of the institution.

Therefore it falls to Conscious Leadership to embrace this dynamic and include the membership or workforce body in the process such that they actually feel and know that inclusion.

Especially in a non-profit, the leader or leadership body are no longer the de facto Decision Makers; rather they are the Decision Managers, the Decision Shepherds; with inherent responsibility to hear from all sectors, appreciate all points of view, include far larger numbers in foundation-laying exploration as policies and procedures are developed and devised…before said policies and procedures, codes and parameters are announced or implemented.

And the Body must sense having been heard before acceptance of any policies coming out of the Executive Suite can be expected.

It has long been embraced by leaders in the microcosm of short-term projects and programs in the creative industries (and some of the major, grassroots NGO’s) that the best leaders and directors listen to and hear (and hear-out) the members of their teams as courses, standards and policies are explored, mapped and decided. The fact is that this has now become a requirement of the macro.

Boards and leaders who believe that they know what is best for an organization without practical inclusion of the member-stakeholders of that organization in the process are deluding themselves and short-changing the organization. Paternalism rears its outdated head.

Members want a voice; an actual voice, and an effective forum for that voice.

It is a virtual truism that the strongest, most effective leaders do not believe that it is incumbent on them to have the answers.

No, a good leader knows the path to the answer, where s/he might go to find the answer, how to explore for the answer and – above all – that leader is always willing to discover that s/he might not yet have arrived at the answer at any given moment.

One needn’t be Right to get to the Right Answer…or any of the possible Right Answers.

The acceptance of that possibility – the management of membership bodies grounded in the acceptance of that philosophy – is what will empower the most effective leaders now and into the next decades.

IMHO

_________________________________________________________________

Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies,

“IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience”

remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes.

Seriously: Free.

IKR?!

Read it. [Link to iBooks site ]

Casting a Wide Net : Thinking Outside the Arch

New Attraction in Gateway Arch Visitor Center

The Gateway Arch is seeking creative individuals, collaboratives, consortiums and companies for concept development, design and potential execution of a compelling, unique experience to be featured in our new Visitor Center.  Please join us in-person or remotely on Wednesday, November 14, during IAAPA in Orlando, FL for a presentation and launch of the solicitation process.

If you’re interested in any aspect of this, be at this meeting in person or via livestream.

The possibilities are limited only by imagination… http://GatewayArch.com/Projects

This an exceptional opportunity to create a legacy-enhancing experience.

IMHO


Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes.

Seriously: Free.  [Link to iBooks site ]

Two Guys Talking on the Subway…

Mount Shasta from the Shasta Daylight. Photographer: Kile Ozier

Someone close to me retweeted this thread by Tucker Shaw (Of “America’s Test Kitchen“), yesterday. I glanced at it and began to read; doubting I’d make it much past the first bit, about two young men talking on the subway…

By the second one, I was completely engaged.

In the years immediately following the worst of the pandemic, it seemed to us – to me – as though the youth that followed wanted no part of this legacy, did not want to know what that experience was. It was bad, that’s all they were willing to hear; then would turn away, physically, spiritually, socially…

I don’t blame them…at all.

When one arrives at an intersection, a crossroads, and off to the left a huge, dark, virtually impenetrable cloud of sadness looms while to the right is the bright sunshine of possibility shining on one’s own special future…the choice is easy and understandable.

These days, there exist groups and organizations and likely millions of ad hoc conversations among the survivors still dealing with our own Waterloo, our own Normandy. Except our battles lasted for years.

Years.

Years of putting friends and lovers – and those without friends or lovers whose families had thrown them out and ceased communication – into the ground or on the surfaces of oceans deep or in forests quiet.

PTSD? Probably. Who had time to Process any of this? Boys (mostly) would get sick and die in a matter of weeks, evaporating before our eyes as we desperately tried to comfort them and one another.

Then. Gone. And we turned to the next one. And the next one. And the next…

No time to grieve. Thus, I believe we still continue to harbor that pain, that bewildered emptiness, and support one another though a loss that remains incomprehensible; returning to enclose and haunt our hearts still, these thousands of nights, later.

Through this most recent decade, though, I’ve encountered scores of young people (everyone’s a young person to me, anymore!); younger men and women who want to know how it was; what it was: newly stunned at what took place during those awful years.

I am gratified to see the compassion and concern in the bright eyes of these questing people. I welcome their questions, their articles, their projects, their documentaries…

And then I hear conversations that reflect an objectivity, a clinical perspective that from here seems so profoundly detached from the experience. I want to grab shoulders, look them in the eye and say, “You have no idea!”

But that’s an unfair challenge to those who were not there.

I wept beside my partner, Jaxon, as I shared “Angels in America” with him for the first time. “This is how it was…”

This is how it was…

I had such a notebook. The list got too long and became too painful.

Then comes this thread from yesterday; the response of Mr. Shaw.

Simple. Eloquent. Evocative. True.

I share this in the name of keeping the human experience, the residual power of those dark years alive, current, appreciated.

It wasn’t so long ago…

Thank you, Mr. Shaw.

His Posts:

This is how it was.

____________________________________________________________________________

Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes.

Seriously: Free.

Read it. [Link to iBooks site ]

The Pheromonal Element to Collaboration

CIS:E.1234-1962

…Just coming up for air after an intense few weeks directing a team from an already Big and currently Burgeoning and Evolving, Iconoclastic Global Agency on a Secret, Massive Creative Project for a Big Entertainment Company the name of which I can’t reveal or…well…you know.

Each individual on our Team of Ten was hand-picked for this project, and very few of us had ever met one another until immediately prior to the launch of the process. Yet, from our fortnight of collaboration came some of the most powerfully compelling, (realistic and physically possible) original creative concepts of which any of us have had the privileged experience of being a part for quite some time.

The atmosphere throughout the entire arc was high-energy; full of engagement, respect, acknowledgement and enthusiasm as Ideas were born, shared, augmented and articulated.

Approaching showtime, as passionate as were each of us for this far-greater-than-the-sum-of-parts Whole Experience; we were trepidatious as to how this would all be received by The Client.

This Client is as discerning and rare to impress as they come; setting standards across the industries in which we work. The overriding goal when presenting was to at least meet expectation, with perhaps an elusive dream of surpassing them…though no delusion.

As we worked, as our project took magnificent shape, we began to fully appreciate what we had and became proud and excited by our own work.

“What If…” this really blows-away the client?

Well, L’s and G’s. We did. Met and exceeded…

How did this happen? In a word: Charrette.

What the heck is a Charrette?

Born of the architectural communities of France in the 19th century; a “charrette” was actually the physical cart in which the work of architectural students was collected on the day of an exhibition. In the mid 1900’s, the word came to label an extended, working meeting in which all stakeholders to something gather to resolve conflicts and map solutions.

In the Theme Park industry – and in it’s most pure form – the charrette has become a multi-day meeting (generally 2 days, though sometimes more) of a disparately-backgrounded, differently-experienced and differently-focused group of professionals, artists, producers and stakeholders – sometimes augmented with peripheral professions or members representing audience demographics – gathered to envision possibility without boundaries for a park, land, experience, resort, destination or Experience Phenomenon of any type.

Done before the application of budget and time to a given project, this “blue-sky” session can uncover and open vast possibilities previously unimagined as differing points of view, likes and dislikes, personal histories and visions are gathered and mixed in this “pheromonal crucible” of minds and imaginations.

(Ah! There’s that word; “pheromonal.” What’s that even mean?)

I’ll get to that.

The first charrette of my career in these industries was run by the illustrious Phil Hettema; the reigning King of All Where We Play. (Long Live the King!) Thus, the standard was set for me with this first encounter of the process. That was 20 years ago, at the beginning of a project – now fully realized – that is now ranked as one of the best theme parks in the world.

So, that’s my model of how it’s done.

Though, it is an expensive process; involving fees, travel, meals, room nights – generally at an “off-site” location in order to prevent or at least minimize distraction and keep focus on the project…in the name of thoroughness and vast freedom of imaginations, sure, but this also serves to deliver the best ROI.

(I mean, if you’re bringin’ in the pro’s, you want all of their minds and all that attention for which you’re payin’. Amirite?)

This charrette thing virtually never happens in an Agency. Time and Money usually stand right in the way.

In Agencies and Corporations, this process has effectively been pared-down and is labeled a “Brainstorm:” a couple of hours to a day in a conference room, banging out ideas under an immediate-ish deadline. Not ineffective, certainly, and definitely far better than not doing it, at all; this creative forum differs from the charrette in that

  • It is far shorter
  • There is no “downtime” or time and space meditation and cogitation for ideas to simmer and for the subconscious Muse to do her work…
  • People tend to enter and leave based on needs of projects and/or callings that are “just down the hall…”
  • It is not unheard-of for participants to call-in or attend for only what they consider a “relevant section” of the conversation.
  • Often, the entire process is conducted online; one or two hours of collaborative dodgeball, with ideas coming out of brilliant minds as though from a circle of batting cages. Great stuff, immediately applied.

While many great things do come out of brainstorming – and this is not to disparage a very necessary and proven productive process…the results of which make thousands of clients a year very happy – there is no substitute for the charrette.

And that is why the fact of this recent charrette has been so phenomenal…so pheromonally phenomenal. The fact that this Agency took a look at the stakes and decided to invest in this process is eminently forward-thinking and delivered a result that had the client in candidly-expressed awe.

We flew ‘em in from NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles, St. Paul to join in San Francisco at a relatively pastoral, non-office facility; surrounded by trees and the ocean. Our first experience was one of discovery and inspiration as we took the group to an immersive spot to which none had ever been. Thus, a shared experience of unique discovery, as each individual connected with something different, there, and came away excited and revitalized by that discovery.

The afternoon was intense download of all the background; the research, the mission and vision of the client, all the data, the work that had been done to date, the mandate and our scope.

Then, assignments of independent thought homework to be shared on Day Two. An evening, each on their own, to ruminate on what they’d seen and heard on Day One and Let the Silence Do its Work.

Then, Day Two was an intense and organized, wonderfully productive flurry of ideas and artwork. At the end of the day, the walls and table were covered with concept art, features and components of a vast and disparate family of concepts which, woven together, might truly manifest something never before seen – a Destination that reflects and draws an evolving world and a participatory tapestry of human cultural existence.

Yet, the true value of the two days was seen in the days that followed.

Having met, come to know one another at some level, worked and collaborated in person with one another – the opportunity in what I call “Pheromonal Collaboration” was fully realized.

Having everyone in the same place at the same time, hearing and seeing the same things and responding to those things, each from their own experience and POV, having each person able to experience the reactions and responses and Points of View of the others and observing myriad responses to the same input at the same time ensured a strong sense of Team and awareness of the components and facets thereof.

With no in-and-out, no one jumping-in to participate only in a given area of expertise, we were able to tap into the experience of each individual beyond the core capabilities or talents; a conversation informed by the person, as well as the expert.

Some of our most thoughtful, compelling and exciting ideas for technical components, for instance, did not come from our digital and technology experts. Some of our most accessible experiences for children came from one who happens to not have any. And so forth…

The whole person – the entire team together – at the table at the same time for All the Things made our subsequent collaboration in bringing these ideas to articulation and definition fantastically smooth.

Not easy, mind you; there was sweat and pressure aplenty. But the massive amount that was accomplished in a short amount of time between ideation and concept presentation – the depth and breadth of concepts realized and expressed – was breathtaking…for us and for the client.

Just sayin’… It was productive and exhilarating; and we all were and are appreciative of the foresight and investment outside the paradigm this company chose to make. This is not something that happens every day or could even happen with anywhere close to every project; though perhaps worth an out-on-a-limb investment, every so often, with the right project(s).

IMHO.

Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes.

Seriously: It’s Free.

IKR?!

Read it. [Link to iBooks site ]

Mind the Gap – A Moment on Silence

Enjoy the silence - Thomas Leuthard- CC BY

 An effective technique in documentary filmmaking and onscreen interviewing of any sort is the subtle use of Silence.

In Silence lies the key to deeper meaning, more intimate responses, heartfelt authenticity, intensity.

When asked a question by the interviewer, the subject generally answers with top-of-the-mind, ofttimes practiced or rehearsed responses. This is especially true of those who are in positions of being interviewed regularly.

In the silence at the end of the answer lies the key to deeper, more intimate, more authentic statements, comments, expression. The experienced and sensitive interviewer allows that silence to be; s/he quietly allows the quiet to become almost uncomfortable. Rather than instinctively filling that gap with a comment or follow-up question, the interviewer sits calmly, looking the subject in the eye with empathy and curiosity; waits and allows the subject to fill that void.

And that’s when the Good Stuff shows up.

Silence…Quiet…is an integral part of the Creative Process. After the download, post-input, interviews and research, comes the moment when – as I articulate it – one must hand things over to the Muse.

There is a rhythm to Creativity; after taking-in all the relevance, priorities, strategies and vision; the Creative Mind needs Peace. Quiet time in which the subconscious mind – One’s Muse – can sift and sort, explore possibility, mold ideas and concepts.

This rhythm is difficult to protect in the world of agencies, global entertainment conglomerates and corporations. As pressure builds to deliver on a spreadsheet-inspired deadline; having the time to creatively ruminate and allow one’s innate talents to apply themselves can become a hard-fought and often lost battle.

It ain’t toothpaste, though, n’est-çe pas? The best ideas are rarely squeezed out in the instant.

It’s no surprise that some of the best ideas show up on long flights, long drives, long walks, through meditation or the old standby, Sleeping on It.

During extended periods without input, the mind will do amazing things.

Creatives often must push back on pressure in order to give themselves time to do their best work. [For those new to the world of such pressure; trust yourself and your instincts. Accept and acknowledge the pressure but seek with confidence to protect your processing time.]

Of course one can come up with cool and exciting work on the spot – and sometimes that can be a great idea. However, no matter how good the First Idea, a night of sleep, an afternoon in a park (themed or verdant) will very likely yield something far better.

And, it can save money in the long run; but that’s another topic for another time.

Set Time Aside

In the ideation phase of a project or program, when a group is gathered in charrette or brainstorm, building in quiet moments – even a random, solitary and device-free hour for the participants to simply sit or walk and think to themselves – can show up in exciting ways when the group reconvenes. Those minds were recruited to the team for a reason; this simple approach will yield better product by allowing the minds to stretch.

Just as the relaxed muscle will push the runner off the block with greater speed and power; giving these minds a Moment to relax will bring them back to the table regenerated and likely with vastly evolved ideas and concepts.

Listen without Interruption

It’s easy, in the excitement of the birth of one fantastic idea after another, to short-circuit the most fruitful exchange of ideas and concomitant successive inspiration of one idea into another simply by interrupting. It’s easy; we’re all excited.

The discipline of supporting the active listening to every shared idea rests on the shoulders of the Director of that process or meeting. Eyes and ears open, watching the faces of the team and ascertaining that every light that ignites thereon is expressed will inspire confidence and alleviate the self-imposed pressure that can materialize in such crucibles.

Seeing to it that the pressure is not felt through creative sessions, giving each member time to think and articulate – while it may feel as though this slows things down – will actually deepen the experience and enhance development of the concepts. Seriously. Try it, maybe.

IMHO.

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Bonus Features

Coincidentally, as I was considering a short post on this, I came across this articulate video on how Silence affects the brain.

…as well as this exceptional 7-minute read on how to avoid sabotaging one’s creativity by Jack Preston King.  He goes much deeper into the philosophies and psychologies of the rhythm of the creative process and is far more articulate than I.

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Still popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. Seriously: Free. IKR?! Read it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/imho/id555219645?mt=11

Leadership in This Millennial Age

ww-animal-ears-fennec-fox.adapt.945.1Millennial is no longer a Demographic. Millennial is, rather, a Way of Thinking, Seeing and Doing. We would all do well to ride this wave, embrace the dynamic and evolve our methodologies…and evolve ourselves in the process.

For decades…for ever, actually…effective leaders have known that one of the most important tenets, virtually the most important First Step of Leadership, is Listening. Long before Deciding and immensely potent in inspiring and empowering team members, staff and colleagues is the act of having Listened and Fully Heard as the first step in any process.

Any process.

This is Nothing New. Socrates was and is an iconic Listener; gauging and engaging his students from the start and immersing them in the process of growing knowledge – theirs and his own.

Even Odysseus listened to all of Penelope’s suitors…before slaying them. (Coming Soon: “Know Your Audience & Know Your Enemies.”)

connundrum_1200x675_hero_focus_0317Participation in Creating Solutions

With the arrival and advent of the broadly-defined (and ofttimes maligned) “Millennial” since the turn of the century, there has been a tectonic shift in the way people will accept being “led.” Expectations of being involved in the assessment of a situation or project and contributing to the addressing of it, of being respected as individuals and participants in solution-crafting – for what each brings to the table throughout the process – has evolved the dynamic into the Collaborative Leadership that is becoming the effective norm. 

So, what does that mean?

Most all people come to the workbench with a set of skills, talents and preconceptions. All of these factor in the dynamic of assessing and addressing objectives. Assuming there is only One Way to accomplish any set of objectives is, any more, fallacious and runs the very real risk of disengagement. While there may be The Way This Has Best Worked in the Past; that ain’t necessarily the Best Way to Do It; even if that is the way a given Leader may have done it, historically.

Today’s creative and professional thinkers want to contribute to and participate in the solutions they may be expected to execute. Without such engagement, the resultant propensity will be to view what is levied or decided for them as irrelevant to them; the absence of engagement begets the absence of respect.

Y’gotta open it up. Know who is at the table and what experience and POV each represents. Lay out the parameters and objectives of a given project and open it to exploration by the team before attempting to lock a course of action.

People want to be part of creating the solution, not simply to be the executors of someone else’s vision or priorities, and not expected to do it the way someone has done it before just because s/he’s been successful in doing it that way. That is the old way, born in the industrial age of factories with assembly lines of workers as simple cogs in the machinery.

This is old-fashioned, paternalistic thinking and simply will not fly in the Millennial Age.

team-brainstormingWhile the way things have been done, historically, may have worked and worked well; the assumption that This is The Only Way or inherently even the best way is simply not embraced by those comprising a greater and growing percentage of the professional resources each day.

Published before in this space is the theory that people, having been and felt fully heard throughout a given process are far more likely to accept, embrace and support the path and solution ultimately taken than if they are simply directed to do something a given way.

More salient, however, is the fact that through such a process all at the table are enlightened to other possibilities; something that virtually always evolves a preconceived or envisioned course of action or solution in unexpected and often profoundly nuanced ways.

Everyone listens, everyone learns, a pathway becomes clear before decisions are made.

This is the expectation of Millennial Thinkers.

Include them in the process. You will learn: They will learn. Success will be more readily grasped and realized.

IMHO.

Still popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. Seriously: Free. IKR?! Read it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/imho/id555219645?mt=11 ]

Fantastic Codes of Ethics and Where to Find Them

Don Quixote Attacking The Windmill

If every organization, association, company, guild, union, club and institution created, adopted and lived by a Code of Ethics; perhaps the world would be a far better place in which to live and do bidness.

Am I dreaming? Perhaps. A little.

Though, I don’t believe it is out of the question for such organizations to consider and adopt such a code; to embrace a set of standards of conduct that are espoused, held as respectable examples and voluntarily exemplified by leadership and members of such a group.

In response to last week’s post, some have pointed out that “…we don’t have a Code of Ethics, and our Mission Statement says nothing about having the backs of one another…,” as though such absences – these failures to outline and stand up for doing business with honor and integrity – somehow justify looking the other way as members fall victim to inappropriate and generally unacceptable business practices.

Seeming to assert that, as these things aren’t covered in the organizational documents, said organization is absolved from any responsibility or blame. We can’t be bound by what we haven’t written and included.

Consider: perhaps the absence of such codes of recommended conduct and the ongoing voluntary, active support of them are a large part of the problem…

“We aren’t in a position to police our industries!”

Actually, “policing our industries” has not been suggested.

On the other hand, it may be accurate to suggest that a laissez-faire attitude toward irregular and sometimes dishonorable practices in the name of “doing business” over the past few decades has contributed to the proliferation of such conduct.

Perhaps transforming or evolving through example is a realistic, and potentially a compelling and effective, logical approach.

The association of which I am a proud member was founded, in part, under an implied umbrella of collective bargaining. The little independents who made up the core of this then-new and now-worldwide leader in the industries were often put in exceedingly exposed positions – and sometimes put out of business – due to accepted and standard practices of the Big Boys of the Industry. Not by intent, perhaps; but by [perhaps unintentional or careless] de facto design.

As the industries have grown and become more and more global, diversified, expanded, sophisticated; perhaps some of the spirit of those founding, aspirational moments have been lost… dissipated.

Those companies that have been able to afford the losses so often inherent in some contexts and cultures could slough those losses off; building protections against them into contracts in such a way as to protect profit even without the occasional failure to pay at the end of a project.

The shape and form of the industries have, however, changed.

Now, more so than ever before, a far greater segment of the work done worldwide is by and through ad hoc or to-the-project collaboration of small businesses and independent contractors – organized and managed under the purview of a pivotal entity, perhaps, but contracted directly with a much larger entity as Client.

Thus, financial dealings are not always equal within a given project; such that some companies and groups might be fully paid while other, smaller companies and individuals might be made to wait…or even never receive their full due.

This can seriously compromise the stability of the smaller businesses and individuals, or simply put them out of business.

With that, and harking back to broad and often ambiguous language found in Mission Statements and Statements of Purpose that speak of healthy growth of industries and quality of experience for audiences and customers; we are again confronted with the vital importance of advocating honorable business practice among colleagues, clients and contractors, worldwide.

To eschew such responsibilities – in my opinion pretty much inherent in the DNA of any such association – directly imperils the depth of the talent pool, the breadth of skills and talent at hand, indeed the very quality of skilled, contractable, collaborative expertise available to all of us as future projects materialize and future teams are assembled.

If they’re no longer in business, we have lost access to those assets and the quality of work achievable is at risk, overall.

So, Why Not…?

To be clear:

Having A Code of Ethics does NOT imply…

  • Judgement
  • “Policing”
  • Arbitration
  • Bureaucracy
  • Administration
  • Legal Issues

However… Having A Code of Ethics DOES imply…

  • Ethics, and
  • Offers the opportunity to live by them, and
  • Lead by Example

So, why not create and adopt a Code of Ethics? Not something to be “enforced;” rather, one to be embraced and exemplified voluntarily?

Such a code; proudly held and lived by membership, stands to contribute to transformation by example; colleague-to-colleague, encouraging one another to take the high road of honor and respect when conflicts or obstacles occur.

As George W. Bush said at the opening of the African American Museum on September 16, 2016 (and I surprise even myself by quoting GWB, but here it is…);

“A great nation does not hide its history,

it faces its flaws, and corrects them.” 

Sweeping these problems under the rug is no small part of what got us here. Perhaps we can work toward correcting our own failings by facing them, acknowledging them and exemplifying what is Right.

’Tis possible; n’est-çe pas?

Perhaps a task force created to study and recommend…

IMHO

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Still popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. Seriously: Free. IKR?! Read it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/imho/id555219645?mt=11