Code : Conundrum

From Fort Mason. Photo by author.

I do not believe that we can tell, order, direct or legislate how others should or must live their lives. As human beings, self-aware and sentient, I do believe we have the inherent responsibility to live our best lives, to question and challenge ourselves and through that to evolve and share our best selves as example of that which we believe. 

Living by example, exemplifying moral codes, doing the Right Thing, making, acknowledging and learning from mistakes without shame for having made them in good faith: these are all in our power to embrace and share without imposing on others our own beliefs. 

In our personal and professional, business or otherwise public-facing lives; I believe that same responsibility manifests and is paramount in creating and maintaining functional and civilized societies and associations. 

When myriad individuals come together in support of common goals, though, solid and common ground must be found. Associative collaboration calls for creation of a  context that offers security and safety for all, for the productive coexistence of disparate and committed points of view, different frames of reference, experiences and perspectives that support the work, the shared vision, of the whole.

Hence: Codes of Conduct … Codes of Ethics.

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[Note: Plan to join our “town hall” full participation webinar on this topic on June 5 @ 10:00am Pacific. Details at end of post.]

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Thus, the Conundrum referenced in the title of this post is that faced by membership organizations in the creation and presenting of guidelines for a (paid) membership that is entirely volunteer.

How can an organization offer a Code of Conduct for its members and support the embracing and adherence to such a code when any actual, codified or otherwise proscribed “enforcing” of said code is not an option?

For example; the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) has taken the unique, courageous and possibly foresightful step of dual codes, both currently available on the public areas of the association’s website. 

One code is event-specific and applies to conduct of individuals at TEA events and gatherings while the other is a larger umbrella that covers a far broader field of business-to-business and business-to-customer relationships worldwide, relevant to the doing of business in international, cross- and multicultural contexts. 

The simple, salient difference between the two is that the breaking of the TEA Event – Appropriate Conduct Guidelines is immediately enforceable at any given TEA Event. This code is logistically positioned as being an acknowledgeable step and integral part of the registration process for each and all events; the idea being that all ticket purchasers will have seen and agreed to respect this Code prior to purchasing a ticket. Should an individual fail to respect the tenets of this code during said event, s/he will be asked to leave the event as well as risk being barred from future social events of the organization. 

Simple to understand, appreciate and respect.

The greater, TEA Code of Conduct, however, is not so cut-and-dried … black and white. While some of the Articles of this Code may articulate specific requirements in specific instances; just as many are contextual and even ambiguous, open to interpretation depending on circumstances of culture or other variables surrounding each or any instance. 

Therefore, while this TEA Code of Conduct is a part of the application and approval process for membership; subsequent failure, reticence or refusal to embrace and exhibit these Industry Best Practices as defined and outlined by the TEA carries no proscribed ramifications. Adherence is entirely voluntary which, fundamentally, seems the best, most positive course.

…And it would seem said Code would be easy to unhesitatingly embrace by individuals and businesses, alike. After all; such a Code is about clarity, fairness, honor, integrity and transparency. 

What’s not to embrace? 

So, let’s explore these two codes just a bit further…

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Appropriate Conduct Guidelines

An impressive (to me) amount of correspondence and communication came in response to the April 2 post on the creation by the TEA of the Event-Specific Code, “A Bold and Timely Move.” 

Men and Women (mostly women, natch!) from across the globe had enthusiastic comments, many offered their pleasant surprise at the creation of such a policy and virtually all welcomed this bold embodiment and codification of consciousness to the world of business and associations. The fact of this “Appropriate Conduct Guidelines”  policy’s encompassing it’s own enforcement procedures gave it powerful resonance among those who responded to it.

The breadth of nationalities who read this blog and embrace this post, in particular, are most heartening to me… 

Some comments:

“I’m impressed. I read through the entire 2 pages. It’s a new consciousness, and people will stumble now and again as we move forward. To that end, I think the wording embraces a way to deal with social situations that are uncomfortable, but not criminal. Thank you for sharing. The policy provides a compassionate, but no-nonsense outline to moving forward.”

…and another…

“Thanks for sharing…, we are heading in the right direction…”

…there are scores more individuals who have communicated, offline and privately, sharing these same sentiments. This is a valuable and powerful step forward in example-setting by a world-class organization.

At the same time, a subtext of concern was shared in casual conversation at the Annual Summit. There seems a school of thought who believe that the very creation and public sharing of such a code somehow reflects negatively on the organization; implying there “must be something to hide.” Some believe that creating this code implies to the public that there is – or has been – a problem that called for addressing; that such conduct had materialized at our association-sponsored events and that the creation of this Code was in response to that.

That point of view completely blindsided me. My question:

How is the acknowledgement of this problem a Bad Thing? Inappropriate conduct is rampant throughout not only Western Business Culture, but is present in virtually all cultures, worldwide. Addressing the fact of this now very public problem in our own yard and laying out expectations and parameters for acceptable conduct seems (to me) a progressive move on all fronts. 

The concern that creating such a Code implies some sort of guilt seems unrealistically paranoid to me. This problem is real and exists everywhere, even at TEA events; that’s what the entire #MeToo movement and conversation is all about…n’est-çe pas?

I see the creation of this Event Code as courageous leadership. These conduct problems do exist; and I believe the Association can be proudly, appropriately vocal in having taken this step.

I’m proud of ‘em for setting such an example and would like to see more.

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[An Example that Comes to Mind: Speaking of Leadership. Before the first Alamo Drafthouse opened its doors, the announcement was made that talking, texting or making noise of any kind during the movie is subject to one warning, then immediate removal without refund. I believe it’s common knowledge that many people do talk, text and make noise in movie theatres. I doubt that Drafthouse experienced or even considered shame or embarrassment at this fact, or thought by addressing it that Alamo might somehow be perceived as guilty for past transgressions of other audiences. The problem is acknowledged, addressed and is circumvented; alleviated with this solid code…and results in consistently-full houses. This seems an apt parallel to me.]

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Besides: Making a mistake, evolving an opinion or POV, changing one’s point of view upon relevant enlightenment; these things do not imply the absence of integrity; rather, quite the opposite. On the other hand, hiding a mistake or obfuscating a change of position more or less does imply something untoward.

I’m happy and even proud to acknowledge a mistake when I (ever so rarely) make one…or, upon learning new information, I change my position on something. When I teach or build teams; I make a strong point with my teams of the freedom and honor inherent in the copping to error and willingness to correct actions or refine POV with new knowledge. Go forth with confidence, be willing to learn and evolve, take responsibility for every decision and – when new knowledge is uncovered or an error is made – take appropriate action to rectify, evolve or clean it up with alacrity. 

There is no shame in error, there is no shame in evolution. 

My sense is that the same Rules of Honor apply to organizations, institutions and associations as well.

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Another perspective has also arisen in the wake of this move; that being an expressed concern that the values reflected in this Event Code may be seen as Western-centric. What of events in China, the Middle East, anywhere outside the US? Must the world adhere to these Western values? Is that right or fair for an international organization?

I wonder if, similar to the relationship between Embassies and Host Nations; all such events might be considered as taking place under the de facto Home Office umbrella, irrespective of geographic location. 

On the other hand, might it be better – more fair or equitable – for each regional Board to create separate parameters of acceptable conduct (I don’t actually believe this is the solution – but, hey, I’m here to learn); or is it best to adopt an overall Code that applies throughout the organization? 

Personally, I lean strongly toward one International Code for Event Conduct to which all members and guests are held.

How to address this? 

  • What do y’all think? 
  • What do you see? 
  • [Feel free to respond in the comments, contact me directly at kile@kileozier.com, or join the upcoming Webinar on this conversation.)

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The Code of Conduct

This is a bigger kettle of IP.

At this juncture, I must share that I am strongly supportive and proud of the fact that the Association has created a Code of Conduct; even and especially one for which there may seem no obvious support structure beyond collegial proselytization or advocacy. 

As the world leader in these industries, the TEA being the largest global association of theme park and experience design institutions and professionals, I personally believe the organization is duty bound to set and maintain a standard in which its members can believe; one that members can support, on which they can depend and within which they can find common ground for the addressing and resolution of some of the frustrating obstacles and issues that arise between or among members in the process of doing business…sometimes cultural, sometimes not so much.

How, though, in the context of an essentially “unenforceable” Code (below) can adherence to and the embracing of said Code actually be supported by membership? This is an inherent ambiguity that presents an excellent opportunity for exploration and guidance.

After all, isn’t Living One’s Word the most effective way to set example? If we as individuals, businesses or associations can inspire others to embrace transparency, honor, fairness and justice in our business environments; what a comfortable victory for all that might be.

Idealistic, maybe a little…but who knows how much we might accomplish with some Audacious Leadership By Example?

In the words of Robert Browning:

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for…?”

There are many ways to change the world, short of the levying of rules and the making of laws. 

So, let’s take a look at the first two Articles of this Code, for a moment.

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The Code (can be found in full, below):

Article 1: To conduct business in a professional and safe manner.”

  • At first reading, this seems fairly straightforward; though even the term “professional and safe manner” might could be interpreted differently in different parts of the world. 

Article 2: To make a good faith effort to address and resolve all complaints made against them.” This Article (IMHO) immediately makes the leap into a chasm of ambiguity. 

  • What is a “good faith effort” and how is it defined? 
  • What constitutes “complaints” and who is “them”? 
  • Are we talking about complaints of customers against member vendors; or are we speaking of complaints between members doing business with one another?
  • If a complaint is made; to whom is it made?
  • Where are these complaints addressed and resolved?

I’m confident that this organization isn’t interested in becoming a board of arbitration; nor should they be. That is not the business of the TEA. 

At the same time; since founding, the association has been built on a culture and with the vision of nurturing the health and business of all members…in fact, the origins of the company were born in no small part in the interest of protecting our small business owners from the giants. Over 25 years later, many of said giants are now seated side-by-side on boards and committees with aforementioned small businesses…creating some strong and healthy lines of communication and supporting positive business relationships in thriving.

So. When a conflict might arise between, for instance, a big guy and a little guy; how might the Code of Conduct support fair resolution? 

Can it? Must it?

The most obvious way that I can see that happening is through collegial communication. The point has been made in offline conversation after offline conversation that the association cannot be officially involved in any sort of conflict resolution. It’s a Legal Thing. 

Why, then, even have a Code of Conduct if all we do with it is point to it as something to which many of us are committed and to which we’d like for all to aspire and embrace? Is that enough? Can that be effective?

This hasn’t been officially discussed among membership; though it can certainly be discussed outside of any official forum or imprimatur of the association. 

And that is what I am proposing for us. This is an opportunity for an informal, open conversation on how such a code might take shape and be effective; how it might be supported and embraced.

This, then, is the opportunity I am herein presenting to you. To us. With this, I invite you to join me in exploring Possibility. I’m asking readers from all industries, within or outside my own, who have had experience or have thoughts, philosophies, methodologies or recommendations for creating and supporting such a Code to participate in a free-form “town meeting” Webinar of positive purpose.

Personally, again, I envision an association Code of Conduct of which any association can be proud; able to cite, articulate and represent as setting an honorable, workable, functioning standard to which other associations and businesses, worldwide, might aspire, replicate and follow.

I’m interested in exploring this with disparate, professional community(ies); in hearing from and learning what others might see as possible, what might realistically be wanted and needed in our industries, in all industries.

With that in mind, I’d like for any and all readers of this piece who are interested in the subject and an informal exploration of the potential for effectiveness of this Code to gather online to talk, share points of view and experience, ask open questions and explore this, together in open forum. 

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WEBINAR

On Wednesday, June 5, at 10am Pacific, I will host and record a one-hour open conversation webinar on the Zoom platform. The conversation is open to anyone who wishes to participate, has a question or an opinion to share. 

We will use as our agenda the example of the Code (even further below) published by the TEA; and explore real-world options for how it might be implemented or applied in our own contexts; offering suggestions for changes or updates to better align such a code with the current geo political climate.

If interested, please email me at kile@kileozier.com. I will send out the link and password a few days in advance. 

Once again, I reiterate that this initiative is my own, under the auspices of no organization or association. Just me: inspired, aspirational, curious, compelled. 

I look forward to our conversation.

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WEBINAR : International Codes of Business Conduct

& How to Encourage Voluntary Adherence to Them.

  • This webinar is under the auspices and with the approval of no person or entity other than me.
  • The agenda will be a line-by-line exploration of the Themed Entertainment Association Code of Conduct as random example.
  • The request is that all who participate do so in a positive light; knowing that virtually anyone and everyone even peripherally involved in conversations on this topic wants only the best for all concerned.
  • Know, too, that the conversation will be recorded so that it is share-able with any who could not participate and should it yield any Great Ideas, those ideas will be shared with the TEA International Board.
  • Email me for the link to the meeting. 
  • The first 20 respondents will be invited to take part. The link to the recording will be sent to all who are unable to participate due to capacity or simply want to hear what was discussed.
  • Depending on how productive this is, we may do this again.

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Themed Entertainment Association Code of Conduct

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) has adopted the Code of Conduct defined in this document to provide standards for the professional and ethical conduct of TEA members, and to foster respect for the integrity, expertise and reliability of all TEA members.

Code Basis

The TEA is dedicated to promoting the principles of honesty, integrity, fair dealing, and professionalism in the industry. The TEA Code of Conduct was developed as a standard for professional conduct among the members of the Association.

Disclaimer

This Code of Conduct describes the expectations that we have of ourselves and our fellow professionals. Rather than imposing mandates the Code articulates the ideals to which we aspire. The purpose of this Code is not to establish a disciplinary mechanism, but, rather, to instill confidence in the profession and to help an individual become a better professional.

Articles of the Code of Conduct

The Code Articles further define the expectations of the members of the Association to maintain the highest level of conduct and responsibility in their relationship with other members and throughout the industry as a standard for professional conduct and fair business practice.

Article1: To conduct business in a professional and safe manner.

Article2: To make a good faith effort to address and resolve all complaints made against them.

Article3: To conduct business based on the highest levels of integrity and honesty so that that the work brings credit to the profession and to the TEA.

Article4: To present past credits, projects, products and services honestly without misrepresentation.

Article5: To foster and maintain a spirit of cooperation and fair dealing with clients and vendors, maintaining the principles of confidentiality, intellectual property protection, and agreed contractual terms.

Article6: To participate in the sharing of experience, expertise and skills with our industry while respecting the proprietary knowledge and skills, confidentiality of customers and professional associates.

Article7: To support and honor the Association by taking a proactive role in Association activities and promoting the Association to the industry.

Article8: To establish and maintain cordial and respectful relations with fellow members worldwide.

TEA Code of Conduct 2018 – Approved by TEA International Board – 6/7/18

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[The points of view and interpretations expressed in this post,

beyond anything quoted or attributed to others,

is entirely my own and not meant

to represent those of the authors of any cited documents.]

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The Venice Effect

A hundred years ago, a student, I spent my sophomore year in Pavia, Italy; a quiet-ish town just 20 miles south of Milano. Possessed of the requisite number of churches, a cathedral, a central town square, covered bridge over the Ticino River and most of the streets paved in stone; Pavia was, for me, the perfect combination of town and village to host the perfect, first-time, expatriate experience.

The University of Pavia – one of the oldest Universities in the world (pre 825AD) – can name among alumni Christopher Colombus, Camillo Golgi, Antonio Scarpa, multiple Nobel Prize winners and famous names from philosophy, law and medicine…

…none of them related to me.

Effectively my first Fully Immersive Experience, I lived in Collegio Fraccaro; one of two Americans among about two-hundred medical students, few of whom spoke English. This, alone, helped to transform the learning of Italian from academic to survival. 

It was a wonderful year, and has remained vivid ever since. I swam with and helped coach the city swim team, hitchhiked all over Northern Italy, Switzerland and Austria on weekends, went to the annual Sagra (Festival) in scores of nearby local towns and villages as each celebrated their Thing of Most Pride (usually edible: no problem) and met and talked with hundreds of locals as I became more proficient in the lingua.

Through the winter, I had dinner twice a month with a local businessman and his family. We’d met through the proprietress of my favorite café…I suppose she was my “dealer,” as that place was the birthplace of my lifelong addiction to espresso and strong coffee.

The deal was, at these dinners, I was to speak only Italian and he would speak only English – other than when we needed to correct one another. This was for him and his wife, but also for his kids – to give ‘em a head start on learning English. That, and it sure didn’t hurt me. The food was great and conversations would inevitably wax more complex as the evening progressed and the level of proficiency increased.

But one such night stands out among them all: the night in February when I mentioned that in a few weeks, I was going to see Venice for the first time…

“Ahh, Venezia!” he sang, “Il cuore d’Italia!” <The heart of Italy> 

And with that, the English lesson was over as his passion took flight… 

All appassionato, his hands conducting an unseen orchestra, he began instructing me on how to approach and see Venice for the first time…

“Senti!” 

  • <Listen!

“Quando arrivi a Venezia, non vai subito a Piazza San Marco!” 

  • <Do not go immediately to Piazza San Marco!>

“No. Stay away from Venice proper ’til early morning. Then, before the sun rises, take the vaporetto to the far side of the island – NOT to Piazza San Marco. “

“Walk the vicoli <alleyways>, perditi come tu vaghi  <lose yourself as you wander> … Ascoltare alla cittá <listen to the city>…”

“Wander…”

“Keep wandering. See the city awaken. Observe. Immerse (I don’t know that he actually said “Immerse,” but that was the concept). You will forget where you are…and then…”

(Dramatic pause. He looked me directly in the eye.) 

“Suddenly…you will discover Piazza San Marco!”

“And then…you will understand Venezia…and then…you will understand Italia…”

…and he rested his hands on his stomach as he leaned back against his chair. 

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So, that’s what I did. 

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Arriving late the night before, I was just in time to check-in to the youth hostel on the island of Giudecca…coincidentally almost directly across the water from Piazza San Marco; I could see the towers and dome of the Basilica from my room; but the lower levels were obscured by buildings between us. 

In the dark of the next morning, refusing to look across the water, I boarded the vaporetto counter-clockwise, traveled to the far side of the Castello district, alighted at Ospedale and began to wander.

By now, the sky was grey and I could hear activity in the windows I passed. Once one has ventured just a few steps from the ocean, one finds oneself in the narrowest of passageways without view of any sort of landmark, as the vicoli can be as narrow as three feet with walls several stories high. If one doesn’t know, there is no way TO know where one is in relation to anything else.

Fortunately, one knows one is surrounded by water; so, at some point there will come an edge. Thus, onward. 

Tiny, compressed, all the passageways are only wide enough for people with small carts; every inch of Venice is valuable and there is no wasted space. I could hear the chiacchierare of morning television, the clang of pots on stoves, the clatter of dishes on tables and mothers calling for the ragazzi to get themselves down to breakfast. 

Tiny bridges over tiny canals barely wider than a Gondola. Gondoliers, calling to one another as they wipe down their barche and begin navigating toward the Grand Canal and the morning fares… 

In tiny, interior plazas, fishermen were piling high their catches of moments ago onto tabletops, hosing down the pave stones to be ready to sell lunch and dinner to the shopping mothers, once their kids have headed for school.

Up high, the sky is blue, though one only sees a sliver…even passing through the morning marketplaces, the view is still high above, one can only see what’s adjacent; no distance, no landmarks. 

But that limitation went completely unrealized, as I was immersed in activity and detail all around me…and navigating through it. Objectively, I knew I was heading in the general direction of Piazza San Marco, though I really wasn’t thinking about it; so much was going on around me.

I came upon a fountain. Into the base were carved little bowls into which slender streams of water were fed as part of the runoff. At that moment, one of them was functioning as a birdbath, wherein a couple of piccioni (sounds more romantic than “pigeons”) were taking their morning ablutions. 

I did not take this photo.

I bent over to get a photograph (with an actual Nikon camera – that’s how long ago this was) and, as I stood up and looked across the fountain…

There it was!

Piazza San Marco. 

Breathtaking; the vastness of the Piazza was magnificent. The effect of encountering so much unencumbered space, being able to see the sunshine sparkling on the waterway to the left, warming the rooftops above the surrounding colonnade, shining bright on buildings far away and brightening the white stones of the plaza to alabaster; then turning and seeing the brilliant façade of the Basilica…

It stopped me completely. I don’t know that I’d ever before been moved by architecture; but my eyes were wet and my throat hurt as I immediately appreciated the investment in the ethereal that had been made in the creation of this space. 

Had I gone directly to the Piazza, I know I would still have been impressed. It is beautiful. It’s really not so big: as piazze go, it’s not spectacular. In its Venetian context, though, it is virtually unsurpassed in grandeur, in eloquence, in transcendence. 

I don’t know that I understand Italy, or Venice, but I certainly discovered and embraced something I felt at that moment that can only be appreciated by walking through it. It is a moment and an experience I shall never forget… March, 1972.

From Google Earth. One can see how large is the Piazza relative to all the space around it, but it’s pretty much the same size as the train station.

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It wasn’t until years later that I realized the opportunity to use that morning in Italia to enhance audience experience. 

Introducing an audience into a space – even and often more effectively into a space with which they are presumptively familiar – through a distracting, engaging and perhaps somewhat confining pathway – by way of what I call “The Venice Effect” (though I’m sure there’s a loftier, industry term for it) has never failed to engage even the most jaded even at some subliminal level. 

Offering people a new perspective on what might be considered familiar is an unexpected gift that can affect how we might experience other things to which we may have become familiar; offering the opportunity to see through fresh lenses, removing preconception, actually making the old, new. 

I wonder if we might be able to find a way, within each of ourselves, to do this with other people; to refresh our vision and brush away years of familiarity to see how those around whom we have spent so much time may have grown or evolved since we first met. To hold close the love and fondness that may have grown between friends and colleagues over the years while seeing the new person right before our eyes…and to be seen, each of us, for whom we have become as we’ve been so busy Being. 

There’s no App for that!

IMHO.

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Read it. [Link to iBooks site ]

Feed Your Darn Crew!

January 19, 2013. Opening Cast at Yas Waterworld. Photo by author.

Seriously, feed your darn crew.

The way to a person’s best work is paved with taste buds and gastrointestinal comfort. 

You probably already know this. You must know this. Though, I think some may not know this, so I’m going to say it.

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Decades ago, when producing Press Conferences for national and local political campaigns, and upon discovering that the Press Corps often had to be at their desks by 8am…I would hold Press Conferences at 8:30 and always provide donuts and coffee. That way, they could be late to work – as they’d want to be in position before the conference began AND get free breakfast. 

Packed, every time. 

Feed those you need.

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Over 20 years in Production; I learned early-on and have always considered it a given that The Crew Must Be Fed…and always a Real Meal. 

This is not Rocket Science and it ain’t no mystery; but when I encounter a Producer, Director, Project Manager or Events Person who begrudges or in any way resists the precept of feeding the Crew, I am repeatedly stunned at the Obvious Benefit can be so myopically missed. And yes: I judge.

Seeing that the crew is fed is not about Union Rules and contracts; it’s about building a team and infusing the qualities of collegiality and respect. A happy, well-fed crew knows they are appreciated and respected; and will likely go the distance – above and beyond – when the situation calls for it… And in live show work, you can pretty much count on the situation calling for it.

When a crew is treated as an expense, with marginal craft-service & meals and contractual boxes to be ticked in order to comply; one can expect that that is how one’s job or production will be treated. With such an attitude underlying the production, a crew can then be expected to do only what they are contracted to do and nothing more. Professionally Professional, certainly: but a great show depends on that relationship being Personally Professional.

Communicating the importance of feeding the production crew is often one of the first “come to jesus” conversations I find myself having with a new client…and sometimes with a regular one. 

“Why should I feed ‘em when I’m already paying them?” 

“So that your show happens…and, it’s the right thing to do.”

Sometimes…people who don’t ever really worry about food on the table fail to perceive its importance to those who live closer to the line. [This pertains, too, to paying cast and crew at the close of the show so that they depart with the deal complete and needn’t worry about when they’ll see the money: but that’s yet another column.]

A few years ago, on site with a colleague, she was grousing about the concern being expressed by her crew heads about the quality of the breakfasts that were being supplied. Skinny, aluminum-wrapped breakfast burritos seemed fine to her. “Why do they make such a big deal about breakfast?”

I was all, “Are you kidding? <Name withheld because I love her>, are you nuts? Why buy a Ferrari and put unleaded fuel in it? You have a great crew, keep ‘em happy and in top form. Scrambled eggs, biscuits, BUTTER (spreadable), jam, potatoes and bacon…lots of bacon, and you’ll have one of the smoothest-running shows you’ve ever had. Trust me.” 

Bonus: they’ll be inclined to show up early for a good breakfast and be ready to go at call-time.

The Ferrari metaphor resonated; she upped the quality of breakfasts and the Day Two show eminently surpassed that of Day One.

One’s crew are the most important guys and gals one wants committed to oneself as Producer and to the vision of the experience or show one is striving to deliver. The crew should know that the Producer or Director knows s/he is dependent on them and that genuine respect underscores the relationship. 

When that is known and appreciated, the crew are all about supporting the show and the vision. 

This is a commitment the rewards for which will become eminently evident and valuable as one finds members of the crew coming up with creative solutions to problems the Producer may not yet have seen coming. They take ownership of the show at a more fundamental, personal level and treat the responsibilities under their purview with that much more acuity and concern for quality.

It’s a Human Trait.

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There existed an even greater dichotomy to be discovered during my years in Dubai. The “caste” distinction between levels of the production crew is even more pronounced in that part of the world; most especially between the (generally Western or First World) professional / creative / technical crew and the Third World labor class brought in to do the actual building. 

Early on in my experience, it took much insistent negotiation between a client and me to obtain even a simple table of water bottles and bananas placed under a canopy, specifically for the laborers on a show or project. It also took a little friendly education to convince the laborers that there were no negative consequences for helping themselves to the table whenever they were thirsty or had a pang. 

The smile and laughter quotient among the laborers tended to rise, after that…and I’ll tell you, experiencing all those guys smiling and quietly speaking or signaling a greeting as they passed rather than having them silently avert their eyes from “Sir” is transformational and spiritually empowering.

Feed your crews.

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Bit of a post-script: 

Concomitant to this is the cardinal rule that a Producer NEVER yells at or belittles a crew or crew member – especially in public. ALL public communication must remain respectful and, when there is a problem, the wise, experienced Producer engages the crew or crew member to collaborate in addressing it and in coming up with and applying the best solution to the problem for which they are responsible to solve. 

ANY upbraiding, criticism or firing is always done in private. Always.

A producer who shouts at a crew sows seeds of disrespect, mistrust and conveys a sense of ownership that is at cross-purposes to the spirit of show and project crew culture. The best work comes through respect. 

Shouting and berating is Amateur. 

Such a producer will have a hard time engendering loyalty and finding crew colleagues willing to join the next project. 

So. Feed your crews. 

Feed ‘em meals. Feed them respect that offers self-respect. Treat them as your valued team and you can trust that you will benefit from their best efforts.

That: and they’ll both speak well of you behind your back and will jump at the chance to work with you, again.

IMHO.

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Omani Performers – amazing, generous men – Dubai National Day, 2012. Photo by author
Stage Management Team. Dubai National Day, 2012. Photo by author.

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 Boomennial Age

Boomennial.

I made it up.

In attempting to describe where we are along the spectrum of cultural evolution, this new term is meant to combine the umbrella labels of the two largest factions of the current American Workforce; dependent on each other – on which we all are dependent, actually – for effective institutional, intergenerational knowledge transfer in virtually every industry.

Last week, the Themed Entertainment Association held our annual Summit Conference at Disneyland (…where else would one expect such a meeting to take place?). One of the Hot Topics presented on our stage was a panel on the changing composition of the Workforce and an exploration of adjustments to methodologies, mindsets and existing corporate cultures that are essential to success in embracing new demographics that have new or different ways of thinking than has been SOP since the Industrial Age…or at least the ’80’s.

Before We Begin

Assumptions, Definitions and Postulations:

  • “Millennial” seems to have become a pejorative, negatively-laden word. Big time. No matter how the word is meant when used, it seems to carry a volatility and be met with defensiveness and even anger when laid upon the pursuant age group. [I don’t recall any previous generational generalization being met with such antipathy; not X, not Y, and not even “Boomer”…a term not without its own corona of entitlement, yet that label never seemed to inspire such ire as does the “M” word.]
  • I’d like to find another word; somehow, I doubt that will be successful.
  • A personal POV, but I don’t see “Millennial” as a specific age group, anymore. As posited in this post of last November, 

“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 … 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.”

  • …In other words; pretty much anyone under 40 and many of the Digital Immigrants and Industry Elders has – by now and to at least some degree – adopted and embraced a more nimble, flexible way of thinking and communication…or is in the process thereof. 

Some facts:

  • By 2020, 46% of the workforce in the US will be Millennial.
  • This year, the number of Millennials in the workforce is greater than that of Boomers
  • By 2025, more than half the workforce population will be reporting to someone younger than themselves. 
  • The smallest segment of the Workforce with the greatest amount of Industry / Institutional Knowledge have already crested 60. Far more active and healthy than the 60’s of the ’60’s; this valuable population of Elders wants to continue working and contributing…and sharing knowledge. We only have 10 – 15 years to see that knowledge and know-how shared: we must get moving.

…and On to the Conversation.

So here’s The Thing: irrespective of one’s perception, perspective or impression of Millennials; the fact is inarguable; these aspirational new thinkers are coming and must be welcomed and embraced. So, whatever generalizations may be levied on this evolving workforce must be set aside with the larger view that We Are Bound to Make This Work.

And here’s the Other Thing: the Elders may need to learn to listen differently, better, more generously and acutely. This means shutting down preconception and silencing the Voice in One’s Head and truly hearing the newcomer before deciding…

  • when and how to share what knowledge,
  • how open each might be to learning and collaboration,
  • how best to relate, to establish positive, working relationships.

Road-builders survey the topography before beginning to design the road or laying pavement. ’Tis the same with mentorship. Know with whom you are dealing, establish a respectful relationship before sharing knowledge…and be not only prepared, but prepared to find new excitement or fulfillment in one’s own learning from the person being mentored. 

It truly is a two-way process.

Active Listening is critical to the building of a mutually-respectful relationship. 

Leadership must be Collaborative.

“… 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 when simply directed to do something a given [or predetermined] way.”

And then there’s This Last Thing: Everyone is involved in this metamorphoses; all the X’s and Y’s now in Middle Management are called upon to advocate, to create, broker and foster these relationships. Not yet at Executive/Mentor level, though more hands-on-with-cachet than any other subset; knowledgeable managers are in a position to lobby for, initiate and institute a pervasive, effective culture of mentorship within and around company and project environments. In the field, they are also in a position to know how to augment and with whom to raise the level of the body of knowledge and experience to be shared on their teams.

Mentorship must be Part of the Program. All Programs. Mentorship is no longer lunch-every-other-Thursday-with-one’s-Mentor as in the Olde Days.

Mentorship is Collaborative and Collegial. Mentorship is not “teaching.” Rather, it is two (or more) intelligent people – one full of fresh knowledge and aspiration, the other with practical experience and a way of addressing the mission, goal, project or task, working together to accomplish something. 

Note, too, use of the term “a” way as opposed to “the” way; for through the collaborative process the prospect exists that there might be discovered an evolution of approach. Both or all participants must be willing to learn something at any time.

For example: “So, here’s how I do it; I’ve had a lot of success with this methodology. If you have a different idea, let’s take a look at that, too…” goes a lot further than, “…this is how it’s done.” 

Just sayin’.

Mentorship is Apprenticeship and Example. It takes place all the time, every day, throughout the course of working together. An encounter in a hallway, perhaps an ad hoc site visit or vendor tour, “…how’s it going? What are you working on, just now…?”

Along with this comes the invaluable to share with those who are new the incomparable sense of accomplishment when one has put in the work and effort over a significant amount of time to bring a project to conclusion or a program to life. 

In a world filled with right-swipes, clicks and likes; to discover the rewards of total immersion, arduous work through toward and ultimate accomplishment of is a treasure to share. Perhaps approach the shepherding through the culture in such a way as to see the manifestation of intrigue as the delving-in begins, then witness the deep-seated excitement and visible thrill of accomplishment at success is realized.

Mentorship is Community-based. Every member of a staff or team is a potential mentor at any given time. Navigating the pathways of a new company takes time and information, knowing the names and jobs of all whom one passes in the hallway adds immensely to the sense of Belonging and Partnership. If such an attitude can become woven into the culture of a company, organization or project; productivity will increase and morale can skyrocket.

Finally, as articulated in most things written in this space: Listen, First. 

People who feel authentically heard – especially by what is traditionally an authority figure – are far more likely to have respect for that person and hear what s/he has to say. Mentors / authority figures who approach first meetings – any meetings – without a script and who first Listen will quite likely discover that they have something different and more relevant to say as well as see that what has been said is more readily embraced than may otherwise have been had their first comments or direction been based on pre-meeting assumption about the mentee rather than an actual in situ experience with them.

Respect begets respect. It’s uncanny!

So, really, I’m thinking that accommodating the burgeoning evolution of the workplace isn’t the onerous obstacle it can so often be perceived to be. It’s nuanced, sensitive, organic, and eminently do-able.

IMHO, the steps of the solution to successfully accommodating this workforce evolution are:

  • Exploring and Appreciating one’s Assumptions
  • Active listening without preconception
  • Establishing Respectful Relationships – a community of Respectful Relationships.
  • Embracing an inherent culture of Mentorship wherein new knowledge flows both ways and at all times.

Boiled down to this, it doesn’t seem so challenging. I ain’t sayin’ it’s easy, per se; but it seems more adjustment than overhaul.

———————————————————

I want to share this video of Simon Sinek, “Millennials in the Workplace” We used a clip of it at the Summit to open our session; finding it an exquisitely articulate, sympathetic and insightful assessment of the dynamics that have brought us to this place, along with a suggested pathway through it. Worth a watch.

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And finally, I want to acknowledge Julie Reyes and her team of kickass professionals who did all the research and presented this panel to the Summit, last week. These are the people with the direct experience of actually facilitating this workforce evolution, case by case.

  • Julie Reyes – Vice President, 11th Hour – julie@11thr.com – 310.821.6900
  • Mary Cluff – Managing Director – Mousetrappe – marycluff@mousetrappe.com – 818.972.2525
  • Rani Bal – Independent Talent Consultant to the Fabulous – r.bal9777@gmail.com – 562.569.9777

———————————————————

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 ]

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?

——————————————————————————————————————-

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

——————————————————————————————————————

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.

—————————————————————————————————————

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.

—————————————————————————————————

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.

—————————————————————————————————

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.

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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.

Read it. [Link to iBooks site ]