Thank you for tolerating the shameless, incessant, and downright cheesy self-promotion of the past couple of weeks’ worth of these Musings.  Today is the last day of voting—by this time there’s no need to tell you what the voting is for—and I’ll let you know the results tomorrow.  (Although if you don’t know what I’m referring to and would like an explanation, scroll to the very bottom of this post and you’ll find one.)

Since all of that (shameless, etc., etc.) self-promotion had to do with my book, Otherwise Engaged, I thought a nicely symmetrical way of concluding all of my electioneering would be to provide you with a sample from the concluding chapter of that very same book.  





A very old joke:

            A man is driving along a city street and comes to a corner.  As he makes

            a right turn, he notices another man on his hands and knees on the sidewalk,

            under a street lamp.


            The driver stops the car, gets out, and approaches the other man.

           "Are you all right?" he asks.

          "Yes," answers the man on his hands and knees.  "I'm fine.  I'm just looking for my keys."  

          The first man says, "You're sure this is where you lost them?"

          "Not really, says the man on his hands and knees.  "But the light's better here." 


Taking on the challenge of dealing more effectively in the domain of the Intangibles makes many (most?) leaders uncomfortable.  While we understand that it’s important, we just find it hard to get a solid grip on such things.  And when you think about it, that makes perfect sense, since—by definition—you can’t touch an Intangible. 

What do we do?  We do the things that have made us successful in the past, like chartering teams, and mapping processes, and designing and implementing communications plans, and defining and tracking metrics, and measuring progress, and making mid-course corrections, and what not.  And when we do that, we think that we’re doing the best we can vis-à-vis the Intangibles.  After all, when we look around, we see that that’s what other people are doing, so how far off can we be?

Said another way, we look where the light is better.  Trouble is, that’s not where the keys are.

One key lies in accepting and embracing the fact that the Intangibles are...intangible.  As such, they are orthogonal to the rational/logical issues with which business people are more comfortable dealing.

Another lies in disabusing ourselves of the false distinction between “running the business” and “the people stuff”...that in the limit, all a business is is its people.

Still another key lies in coming to the humbling realization that pretty much everybody that makes up your business isn’t you, i.e., they are all “the other.”

Finally, embracing the fact that everything you say (or don’t say) and do (or don’t do) has the potential to affect those others

So we face a choice.

We can put together teams, and research best practices, and perform analyses comparing our historical performance with those best practices and then create project and program plans to improve things vis-à-vis Engagement and Empowerment and (sigh) company Values and Trust & Respect...we might even toss a few more into the stew, such as Diversity and Integrity...and integrate all of the individual project plans into an overarching master plan which captures in one view every jot and tittle of each of those individual plans is entered, showing the relative progress of each, thereby enabling us to do a better job of monitoring progress and making any necessary mid-course corrections...all the while realizing that each of those efforts overlaps with all the others, suggesting the need for models and Venn diagrams making clear the relative importance and areas of overlap, thereby enabling us to make now-better-informed mid-course corrections...all the while making sure that we have the systems and metrics in place to recognize and reward people’s efforts related to this important work...people, that is, who aren’t all the same, calling for even more sophisticated processes and analyses and mechanisms to enable us to all kinds of differences in demographic categories and subject matter expertise and life experience and educational and professional background...interjecting at the appropriate times the results of all-hands surveys...overlaying the results of said surveys onto what we’ve done to dateso that we can make still better mid-course corrections and monitor and measure and improve and recognize and reward...and on and on it goes, at all times doing good, sensible, leadership stuff.

Or we can go down a simpler path, recognizing that the one thing that we can pretty much control is the extent to which people are treating each other with Respect, and asking ourselves at the end of each day: Did I give due consideration to the other?

We can become, as the title of this book suggests, Otherwise Engaged:

·      Otherwise Engaged, as in adopting an approach to Engagement that is other than the one traditionally used

·      Otherwise Engaged, as in ensuring that this approach has a laser-sharp focus on how what we do (and don’t do) and say (and don’t say) affects the other

Make no mistake.  While that second path may be simpler, it is by far the more difficult one to traverse.

Because along that path, there are no PowerPoint slides or Venn diagrams or Pert Charts to hide behind.  No cacophonous din to distort meaningful signals into misleading noise.  No colleagues to disappoint you by misunderstanding an order or missing a deadline.

There’s just you, looking into a mirror, and considering your answer to a simple question—“Did I give due consideration to the other?”—knowing that the answer can only come from someplace within your heart and soul.

Which is as it should be, since that’s where the Intangibles, properly understood, reside.  That’s where the keys can be found.



Here’s what those references to “voting” and “cheesy self-promotion at the beginning of this post were about.

Bear in mind that this last part is for people who read the first paragraph of this Musing and wanted some clarification.  So this is customer service, not cheesy self-promotion.

My book, Otherwise Engaged, was for some inexplicable reason nominated for possible selection as 2015’s “Leadership Book of the Year”.  (If you’d like some independent proof that this is real, go here.) 

Today is the last day to cast a vote in that election.  Just click here then scroll down and click on the VOTE NOW button.  That will bring you to a page listing all of the nominees.  Scroll down a bit more until you see the thumbnail of the cover of Otherwise Engaged, click on the radio button, and your vote will have been cast.

Normally at this point I’ve written “thank you.”  But since this is customer service and not cheesy self-promotion, I’ll close with a “you’re welcome.”