Us versus Them | A Ferguson Outcome

Chief in Prayer

Us versus Them:

Sunday I shared the burden on my spirit in anticipation of the grand jury decision, “If Not Us, Who?” (https://www.facebook.com/CopsWritingCrime) It wasn’t about an outcome. It was that our nation rallied on either side of the issue based not on facts and evidence, but on historical perspective. Truth is, there’s more than one narrative to American history.

Just before turning off the news, I received a private message. Simply, it read – We Won! In clarity, I saw this wasn’t about black versus white as much as it was us versus them.

Let me be very clear – the “THEM” I refer to are the law enforcement officers believing it was a victory for the policing fraternity. A victory, such as a sporting event, would infer that policing was affirmed as being the better of the two.

Our occupational isolationism manifests itself against the communities we swore to serve. If we can’t share our feelings with the ones we love, then how do we sincerely show empathy to a community? Doubt it? We’re killing ourselves with alcoholism, divorce, domestic violence, PTSD and suicide.

As a Fraternity, we should engage in honest dialogue. Thousands of cops have shared feeling the same way, but are fearful to speak up because of reprisal from the Brotherhood. What type of brother’s keeper allows their peer to suffer in such silence over the cause of public service?

Let’s take this opportunity to examine why we’re fundamentally disconnected from the people we serve. Is it because we’re rooted in the old-school traditions of secrecy? Do we lean on the myth of being special and protected by the sacred canopy of public safety? Lets fix us, so we can competently serve those who most need our help.

In closing, I believe that the “us versus them” paradigm is dangerous for policing a populace. I don’t believe however, that the “us versus them” in policing is negative. The US who seeks a better, more society-linked policing model must no longer tolerate the THEM who still believe the Thin Blue Line is used to separate cops from community.

We do good work, now lets work to do good,
Scott

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Crucibles of Leadership (part 2)

Learning From Difference

A crucible is, by definition, a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. It is perhaps not surprising then that one of the most common types of crucibles we documented involves the experience of prejudice.

Being a victim of prejudice is particularly traumatic because it forces an individual to confront a distorted picture of him- or herself, and it often unleashes profound feelings of anger, bewilderment, and even withdrawal.

For all its trauma, however, the experience of prejudice is for some a clarifying event. Through it, they gain a clearer vision of who they are, the role they play, and their place in the world.

Consider, for example, Liz Altman, now a Motorola vice president, who was transformed by the year she spent at a Sony camcorder factory in rural Japan, where she faced both estrangement and sexism. It was, says Altman, “by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

The foreign culture—particularly its emphasis on groups over individuals—was both a shock and a challenge to a young American woman. It wasn’t just that she felt lonely in an alien world. She had to face the daunting prospect of carving out a place for herself as the only woman engineer in a plant, and nation, where women usually serve as low-level assistants and clerks known as “office ladies.”

Another woman who had come to Japan under similar circumstances had warned Altman that the only way to win the men’s respect was to avoid becoming allied with the office ladies.

But on her very first morning, when the bell rang for a coffee break, the men headed in one direction and the women in another—and the women saved her a place at their table, while the men ignored her. Instinct told Altman to ignore the warning rather than insult the women by rebuffing their invitation.

Over the next few days, she continued to join the women during breaks, a choice that gave her a comfortable haven from which to observe the unfamiliar office culture. But it didn’t take her long to notice that some of the men spent the break at their desks reading magazines, and Altman determined that she could do the same on occasion.

Finally, after paying close attention to the conversations around her, she learned that several of the men were interested in mountain biking. Because Altman wanted to buy a mountain bike, she approached them for advice. Thus, over time, she established herself as something of a free agent, sometimes sitting with the women and other times engaging with the men.

And as it happened, one of the women she’d sat with on her very first day, the department secretary, was married to one of the engineers. The secretary took it upon herself to include Altman in social gatherings, a turn of events that probably wouldn’t have occurred if Altman had alienated her female coworkers on that first day. “Had I just gone to try to break in with [the men] and not had her as an ally, it would never have happened,” she says.

Looking back, Altman believes the experience greatly helped her gain a clearer sense of her personal strengths and capabilities, preparing her for other difficult situations. Her tenure in Japan taught her to observe closely and to avoid jumping to conclusions based on cultural assumptions—invaluable skills in her current position at Motorola, where she leads efforts to smooth alliances with other corporate cultures, including those of Motorola’s different regional operations.

Altman has come to believe that she wouldn’t have been as able to do the Motorola job if she hadn’t lived in a foreign country and experienced the dissonance of cultures:” …even if you’re sitting in the same room, ostensibly agreeing…unless you understand the frame of reference, you’re probably missing a bunch of what’s going on.” Alt-man also credits her crucible with building her confidence—she feels that she can cope with just about anything that comes her way.

People can feel the stigma of cultural differences much closer to home, as well. Muriel (“Mickie”) Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, found her crucible on the Wall Street of the 1950s and 1960s, an arena so sexist that she couldn’t get a job as a stockbroker until she took her first name off her résumé and substituted a genderless initial.

Other than the secretaries and the occasional analyst, women were few and far between. That she was Jewish was another strike against her at a time, she points out, when most of big business was “not nice” to either women or Jews. But Siebert wasn’t broken or defeated. Instead, she emerged stronger, more focused, and more determined to change the status quo that excluded her.

When we interviewed Siebert, she described her way of addressing anti-Semitism—a technique that quieted the offensive comments of her peers without destroying the relationships she needed to do her job effectively.

According to Siebert, at the time it was part of doing business to have a few drinks at lunch. She remembers, “Give somebody a couple of drinks, and they would talk about the Jews.” She had a greeting card she used for those occasions that went like this:

Roses are reddish,

Violets are bluish,

In case you don’t know,

I am Jewish.

Siebert would have the card hand-delivered to the person who had made the anti-Semitic remarks, and on the card she had written, “Enjoyed lunch.” As she recounts, “They got that card in the afternoon, and I never had to take any of that nonsense again. And I never embarrassed anyone, either.”

It was because she was unable to get credit for the business she was bringing in at any of the large Wall Street firms that she bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and started working for herself.

In subsequent years, she went on to found Muriel Siebert & Company (now Siebert Financial Corporation) and has dedicated herself to helping other people avoid some of the difficulties she faced as a young professional. A prominent advocate for women in business and a leader in developing financial products directed at women, she’s also devoted to educating children about financial opportunities and responsibility.

We didn’t interview lawyer and presidential adviser Vernon Jordan for this article, but he, too, offers a powerful reminder of how prejudice can prove transformational rather than debilitating. In Vernon Can Read! A Memoir (Public Affairs, 2001), Jordan describes the vicious baiting he was subjected to as a young man.

The man who treated him in this offensive way was his employer, Robert F. Maddox. Jordan served the racist former mayor of Atlanta at dinner, in a white jacket, with a napkin over his arm. He also functioned as Maddox’s chauffeur. Whenever Maddox could, he would derisively announce, “Vernon can read!” as if the literacy of a young African-American were a source of wonderment.

Subjected to this type of abuse, a lesser man might have allowed Maddox to destroy him. But in his memoir, Jordan gives his own interpretation of Maddox’s sadistic heckling, a tale that empowered Jordan instead of embittering him. When he looked at Maddox through the rearview mirror, Jordan did not see a powerful member of Georgia’s ruling class.
He saw a desperate anachronism, a person who lashed out because he knew his time was up. As Jordan writes about Maddox, “His half-mocking, half-serious comments about my education were the death rattle of his culture. When he saw that I was…crafting a life for myself that would make me a man in…ways he thought of as being a man, he was deeply unnerved.”

Maddox’s cruelty was the crucible that, consciously or not, Jordan imbued with redemptive meaning. Instead of lashing out or being paralyzed with hatred, Jordan saw the fall of the Old South and imagined his own future freed of the historical shackles of racism. His ability to organize meaning around a potential crisis turned it into the crucible around which his leadership was forged.

Crucibles of Leadership (part 2)

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FITx50 / week 17

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FITx50 / week 17 and this has been my approach of late.

After last week’s post-travel and fancy food eating festival I returned to the crossfit gym. I was greeted by the realization that at closer to 50 than I was weeks ago, shape, like the space station, is something just waiting to drop.

Some crazy workout call Down Sally Up – yeah, that’s what I said – I got the down part pretty good.

Okay, mostly I’m kidding but this little kitten was so darn cute, i had to include him somewhere. I’m back to cutting portions in half and exercise. I’ve also gotten pretty decent at headstands, which as I understand isn’t good after having a March spinal surgery. But it’s titanium right??

This week was a good transition from sloth to beast. Look out next week – I’m back on track.

Happy health to you,

 

Scott

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Crucibles of Leadership (part 1)

What makes a leader

As lifelong students of leadership, we are fascinated with the notion of what makes a leader. Why is it that certain people seem to naturally inspire confidence, loyalty, and hard work, while others (who may have just as much vision and smarts) stumble, again and again? It’s a timeless question, and there’s no simple answer.

But we have come to believe it has something to do with the different ways that people deal with adversity. Indeed, our recent research has led us to conclude that one of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative events and to learn from even the most trying circumstances.

Put another way, the skills required to conquer adversity and emerge stronger and more committed than ever are the same ones that make for extraordinary leaders.The skills required to conquer adversity and emerge stronger and more committed than ever are the same ones that make for extraordinary leaders.

Take Sidney Harman. Thirty-four years ago, the then-48-year-old businessman was holding down two executive positions. He was the chief executive of Harman Kardon (now Harman International), the audio components company he had cofounded, and he was serving as president of Friends World College, now Friends World Program, an experimental Quaker school on Long Island whose essential philosophy is that students, not their teachers, are responsible for their education.

Juggling the two jobs, Harman was living what he calls a “bifurcated life,” changing clothes in his car and eating lunch as he drove between Harman Kardon offices and plants and the Friends World campus. One day while at the college, he was told his company’s factory in Bolivar, Tennessee, was having a crisis.

He immediately rushed to the Bolivar factory, a facility that was, as Harman now recalls, “raw, ugly, and, in many ways, demeaning.” The problem, he found, had erupted in the polish and buff department, where a crew of a dozen workers, mostly African-Americans, did the dull, hard work of polishing mirrors and other parts, often under unhealthy conditions. The men on the night shift were supposed to get a coffee break at 10 pm.

When the buzzer that announced the workers’ break went on the fritz, management arbitrarily decided to postpone the break for ten minutes, when another buzzer was scheduled to sound. But one worker, “an old black man with an almost biblical name, Noah B. Cross,” had “an epiphany,” as Harman describes it. “He said, literally, to his fellow workers, ‘I don’t work for no buzzer. The buzzer works for me. It’s my job to tell me when it’s ten o’clock. I got me a watch. I’m not waiting another ten minutes. I’m going on my coffee break.’ And all 12 guys took their coffee break, and, of course, all hell broke loose.”

The worker’s principled rebellion—his refusal to be cowed by management’s senseless rule—was, in turn, a revelation to Harman: “The technology is there to serve the men, not the reverse,” he remembers realizing. “I suddenly had this awakening that everything I was doing at the college had appropriate applications in business.”

In the ensuing years, Harman revamped the factory and its workings, turning it into a kind of campus—offering classes on the premises, including piano lessons, and encouraging the workers to take most of the responsibility for running their workplace. Further, he created an environment where dissent was not only tolerated but also encouraged. The plant’s lively independent newspaper, the Bolivar Mirror, gave workers a creative and emotional outlet—and they enthusiastically skewered Harman in its pages.

Harman had, unexpectedly, become a pioneer of participative management, a movement that continues to influence the shape of workplaces around the world. The concept wasn’t a grand idea conceived in the CEO’s office and imposed on the plant, Harman says. It grew organically out of his going down to Bolivar to, in his words, “put out this fire.” Harman’s transformation was, above all, a creative one.

He had connected two seemingly unrelated ideas and created a radically different approach to management that recognized both the economic and humane benefits of a more collegial workplace. Harman went on to accomplish far more during his career. In addition to founding Harman International, he served as the deputy secretary of commerce under Jimmy Carter. But he always looked back on the incident in Bolivar as the formative event in his professional life, the moment he came into his own as a leader.

The details of Harman’s story are unique, but their significance is not. In interviewing more than 40 top leaders in business and the public sector over the past three years, we were surprised to find that all of them—young and old—were able to point to intense, often traumatic, always unplanned experiences that had transformed them and had become the sources of their distinctive leadership abilities.

We came to call the experiences that shape leaders “crucibles,” after the vessels medieval alchemists used in their attempts to turn base metals into gold. For the leaders we interviewed, the crucible experience was a trial and a test, a point of deep self-reflection that forced them to question who they were and what mattered to them. It required them to examine their values, question their assumptions, hone their judgment. And, invariably, they emerged from the crucible stronger and more sure of themselves and their purpose—changed in some fundamental way.

Leadership crucibles can take many forms. Some are violent, life-threatening events. Others are more prosaic episodes of self-doubt. But whatever the crucible’s nature, the people we spoke with were able, like Harman, to create a narrative around it, a story of how they were challenged, met the challenge, and became better leaders. As we studied these stories, we found that they not only told us how individual leaders are shaped but also pointed to some characteristics that seem common to all leaders—characteristics that were formed, or at least exposed, in the crucible.

Crucibles of Leadership (part 1)

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FITx50 \ week 16

2014-10-28 11.06.14

Week 16?

What happened to weeks 14 & 15? Well, that’s what I want to know. It’s crazy how trips to south Florida and the Carolinas can easily take you off your game plan.

Seriously, I’m like a bald tire spinning in marsh grass. I had to reintroduce myself to my friends at Momentum Crossfit, my Trek Madone 6.9 won’t even look at me and ice cream and I have been joyously reunited. How?

That’s my struggle. Weeks to months of sustained discipline followed by weeks to months (oh no, please no) of excuses, alibis and hushed alarm buzzers. My long-term goal of being FITx50 is still in sight with a March 2015 birthday, but I’d hoped for a sustained approach instead of a mad dash.

There, I said it – HOPED. That’s the issue. The term should be PLANNED for a sustained approach. As a long-time SWAT commander I understood the value of “Fail to plan / Plan to fail.” I’ve broken my own rule for survival / success. Now, I need to practice the first rule of digging holes.

When you find yourself in one, stop digging.

See you next week with a plan instead of a shovel in hand.

FITx50 \ week 16

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Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Tom Kelly, general manager of IDEO, the world-renowned design firm, likes to quote French novelist Marcel Proust, who famously said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” What goes for novelists goes for leaders searching to craft a novel strategy for their company, a new product for their customers, or a better way to organize their employees. In a world that never stops changing, great leaders never stop learning.

Today, the challenge for leaders at every level is no longer just to out-hustle, out-muscle, and out-maneuver the competition. It is to out-think the competition in ways big and small, to develop a unique point of view about the future and help your organization get there before anyone else does. Which is why a defining challenge of leadership is whether you can answer a question that is as simple as it is powerful: Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Of course, learning new things is all about exposing yourself to new ideas. So if you want to learn faster, you’ve got to think differently about where new ideas come from. Here are a few ideas I’ve developed over the years about what turns leaders into learners — three “habits of mind” that will help you keep learning as fast as the world is changing.

First, the best leaders (and learners) have the widest field of vision.
After Steve Jobs died, I, like everyone else, read and watched as much as I could about his life and work. One of my favorite sources of insights was an old PBS documentary called “Triumph of the Nerds,” in which luminaries of Silicon Valley talked about what inspired their innovations. As Jobs talked about the original Macintosh computer, he talked less about semiconductors and software than he did about painting, music, and art.

“Ultimately it [creativity] comes down to taste,” he explained. “It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then trying to bring those things in to what you’re doing…I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”

Translation: You’re not going to learn faster (or deeper) than everyone else if you seek inspiration from the same sources as everyone else. Educators know that we learn the most when we encounter people, experiences, and ideas that are the least like us. And yet, we spend most of our time with people and in places that are the most like us — our old colleagues, our familiar offices, our reassuring neighborhoods. If you want to learn faster, look and live more broadly.

Second, and more tactically, the best source of new ideas in your field can be old ideas from unrelated fields. A few months ago, after I gave a talk about innovation to a gathering of executives from the world of food retailing, one frustrated member of the audience asked for some advice about dealing with her boss. “My boss likes to say, ‘I want a totally new idea — and three examples of where that idea has worked before.’” The audience roared in recognition of the oxymoronic absurdity of the boss’s sentiment, as did I.

But then I got to thinking…Often, it turns out, a powerful source of “totally new” ideas in one industry can be standard operating procedures from another industry — well-established practices that look downright revolutionary when you simply move them from one place to another.

For example, leaders at Lexus identified all sorts of new ideas to reshape the customer experience for luxury cars by searching for clues at brands such as Four Seasons and Apple — companies that were great at what they did, even though what they did had nothing to do with automobiles. Physicians and administrators from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children redesigned many of their surgical procedures by studying how Ferrari’s Formula One racing team handled pit stops.

Sure, there’s always a place for R&D as research & development. But there’s also a place for R&D as rip-off and duplicate. Ideas that are routine in one industry can be revolutionary when they migrate to another industry, especially when they challenge the prevailing assumptions and conventional wisdom that have come to define so many industries.

Finally, and most personally, successful learners work hard not to be loners.
These days, the most powerful insights often come from the most unexpected places — the hidden genius locked inside your company, the collective genius of customers, suppliers, and other smart people who would be eager to teach you what they know if you simply asked for their insights. But tapping this learning resource requires a new leadership mindset — enough ambition to address tough problems, enough humility to be willing to learn from everyone you encounter. Nobody alone learns as quickly as everybody together.

We all want to be better leaders. And the best leaders, it turns out, are the most insatiable learners. How are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

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William C. Taylor is cofounder of Fast Company magazine and author of Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself. Follow him on Twitter at @practicallyrad.

Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

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Gun Technology for Cops

Should gun owners be required to apply this technology?

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A Silicon Valley startup has developed technology to let dispatchers know when a police officer’s weapon has been fired.

The latest product by Yardarm Technologies would notify dispatchers in real time when an officer’s gun is taken out of its holster and when it’s fired. It can also track where the gun is located and in what direction it was fired.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak, whose agency is among two testing the technology, said it will allow the sheriff’s office to see whether deputies are in trouble and unable to ask for assistance.

“That’s the worst nightmare for any police officer in the field,” he said.

The system will not include a remote disabling mechanism. Yardarm was pursuing that technology and demonstrated it at a conference in Las Vegas last year, but it has since abandoned that effort, according to the Capitola, California,-based company’s marketing vice president, Jim Schaff.

Yardarm’s system would have triggered an alarm on an owner’s cellphone if a gun had been moved, and the owner would then have been able to hit a button to activate the safety and disable the weapon.

Schaff would not say exactly why the company gave up on remotely disabling guns. Gun rights advocates have raised serious concerns that so-called smart gun technology could be used to limit their access to weapons.

The developers insist their latest technology is not creating a smart gun, but rather is “police gunfire tracking technology.”

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said his organization isn’t opposed to the particular technology Yardarm is developing and other smart-gun technology.

“What we do oppose are government mandates requiring all gun owners to adopt the technology,” Paredes said. “If law enforcement wants to adopt this technology, that’s great. Just don’t make every gun owner adopt the technology.”

Smart gun technology has been around for decades, but technological advances and recent large shootings have prompted more than a dozen smart gun companies to begin developing weapons. Some began selling in gun shops this year, but analysts say controversy surrounding the technology could limit sales.

The technology that tracks an officer’s gun relies on the Internet and requires a small device that can fit in the handle of most police handguns. It connects to the officer’s smart phone using Bluetooth.

“The officer simply inserts it into the back of the firearm, and now it’s installed. They don’t even know it’s there anymore,” Schaff said during a recent demonstration.

Yardarm is paying for the test in the hopes they can develop the technology nationwide and charge departments for it next year.

Schaff said the company has not yet determined a price.

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CALIFORNIA START UP UNVEILS GUN TECHNOLOGY FOR COPS
BY HAVEN DALEY

Associated Press reporter Paul Elias contributed to this story from San Francisco.

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