About Wayne McKinnon
As a foot note in history, Wayne once worked as a member of the team that assembled the particle detectors used in nuclear physics to discover the first evidence of quarks.
Wayne no longer works with the building blocks of the universe; instead he works with the building blocks of organizations. Unlike the tiny quark, the results that Wayne achieves for his clients are visible and have an extended lifetime.More
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Category Archives: Adapting To Your Surroundings
My calendar popped up reminding me that today is Nunavut day. Nunavut is one of Canada’s northern territories to the east, and its capitol city is Iqaluit (pronounced Ikaluit).
Iqaluit sits on Baffin Island and is closer to the country of Greenland than it is to the US border. Nunavut sometimes needs consultants. When I was working there in March I joked (in my best Sarah Palin voice) that I could see Greenland from my office.
Iqaluit is situated on the shores of Frobisher Bay. Early explorers looking for a northwest passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic Ocean discovered the bay. To the south is Hudson’s Bay.
One of the earliest Hudson Bay company trading posts is located here. (The crowd behind me is a Hollywood movie crew shooting on location. I'm sworn to secrecy until it hits the big screen).
Happy Nunavut Day!
Every week I see business leaders, their direct reports and front line employees making “gut feeling” decisions.
Much has been written on the benefits of going with your gut, and the worst decisions tend to be ones where your analytical mind is telling your one thing but your gut is sounding off all sorts of alarms, so, yes, going with your gut has some validity, however:
1) Are you going exclusively with your gut or is your opinion informed?
2) Do you know why you are comfortable or uncomfortable with a situation?
3) Have you confronted the facts?
I could list a myriad of additional questions to consider but my point is that there is a vast difference between going with your gut because it is sending off warning signals, and simply feeling that everything will work out fine because you feel it.
Facts are facts. You can't ignore them yet many people chose to, and they make their gut the scapegoat for ignorance of the facts. How a person processes the facts is an entirely different discussion from accepting the facts.
Somewhere around 1984 an executive at the hospital where I worked informed me that there are three types of people. You have undoubtedly heard of at least two of these types by now, the optimist and the pessimist. The optimist sees the glass half full while the pessimist sees the glass half empty.
She saw herself as a third type, the realist, and recognized that if she stayed around long enough someone was going to have to wash that glass. Funding cuts had been announced. Some workers were pessimistic and wrung their hands as they waited to lose their jobs, others were optimistic that their value was significant enough that they would not be affected at all. Meanwhile my executive mentor wisely began making plans and taking swift action to make changes within her control before someone else imposed changes out of her control.
Your gut may guide you, but seeing people ignoring the facts gives me a stomachache.
In January 2012 I posted a blog entry regarding a mysterious trail left on the ice in our back yard after a sudden climate change.(Here is the link to the original post) www.M2Hv.com/2012/01/adapting-to-your-surroundings/
If you hadn’t determined what the creature was even after my clever clues, the picture below will provide the answer. This picture was taken on a neighbor’s dock this fall, just as the cooler fall weather was setting in. It appears that a mate was found this summer and that evolutional stability is continuing on with the next generation, and they are certainly not having any difficulty adapting to their surroundings.
I am often brought in to organizations to help with a change initiative. Change can mean many things depending on where you sit in an organization. At senior levels, change often means organizational change, while at technical levels this often is interpreted as controlling or preventing change.
Change management should be looked at as a way to enable changes that have been deemed necessary when looked at strategically.
My complaint with how many managers view change is that it is a one time tactical implementation of something, be it realigning staff with new positions or installing some new piece of technology.
Change in my opinion should be viewed holistically rather than each component in isolation. Strategically the business wants to move in a certain direction, and tactically many things have to align to make that happen. Change management at a business level may include modifying behaviors, and at a technical level modifying the technology to support that.
Well, today I learned even more about Growlers. I had the spelling all wrong, but pronounced correcty. It seems that it is an evolutionary thing (in both species and language).
Growlers - Grolars - Grolar Bears -
Q- What do you get when you cross a Grizzly bear with a Polar bear?
A- a growler! (...which apparently sounds more menacing than a pizzly).
The result of Grizzlies following the caribou further north (now that recent years have been warmer), and the polar bears (left without summer ice to hang out on the way they used to).
BUT WAIT - before anyone gets their global warming nickers in a twist lets consider this:
The grizzly bear is thought to have descended from brown bears that came from Russia to Alaska. According to wikpidia this happened 100,000 years ago, and they lived in the north for 87,000 years. Somewhere along the way they evolved into grizzly bears and moved south 13,000 years ago.
So here we are many years later and the grizzlies have come back to visit their relatives who stayed behind and evolved into polar bears. The two meet again and apparently hit it off quite well.
The real question is "where were the environmentalists 100,000 years ago when we needed someone to prevent the Russian bears from crossing over as a result of global cooling?"
Perhaps they should have also been around 13,000 years ago to capture and isolate these odd offspring before they migrated south?
With all this ice disappearing, the polar bear is adapting by selecting a mate that gives them brown paws like a grizzly and white coats like a polar bear. Presumably this will be an advantage when it comes to hunting the offspring created when ringed seals from the west meet harp seals from the east for the first time.
Things change. The real question is how do you adapt to change? In the corporate world as in nature, things do not need to continue to exist in their current form simply because they always have. Sometimes new entities are created that are better suited to the current environment than are the old form that they replaced.
Winter came late this year and the river behind our house only recently froze solid. When I went down to check out the ice I found these peculiar tracks.
Every winter a group of coyotes make their way along the river, and at first glance this looked like their footprints but it wasn’t, but what was it?
Perhaps it was some prehistoric life form climbing out of the primordial ooze, something forced to adapt to its environment that has suddenly changed. If I had only arrived a few minutes earlier would I have witnessed a change so dramatic that it defies the laws of natural evolution as hypothesized by paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould?
Gould postulated that while most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, it is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. Just as I have observed in my own work with corporations, real change is a result of rapid bursts of change at irregular (punctuated) intervals. Trusting natural evolution to create necessary change can take forever. Further, if change does begin, it is not unusual for those creatures who have not changed, to reject it, and squash it before it gains a foothold in the environment, thus maintaining the status quo. In corporate environments that change has to be nurtured, supported and in many cases, valiantly protected.
As for my back yard, the question remains: What was the sudden change that caused this creature to leave evidence of its own rapid evolution?
You can decide for yourself based on the evidence that I have provided, however, a better question that you "otter" consider is what will your own evolution look like, and what direction will it take you?