Posts Tagged ‘Strategy’


The United Federation of Planets was founded by Andorians, Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, and Rigellians. During the novel series Typhon Pact, Andor was hit by a plague that threatened the very survival of a species. Dr. Bashir (from those who liked Deep Space Nine) broke orders and found a cure (hence left in exile and lost in his own traumas on Cardassia now under the leadership of his friend, Garak).

Image result for star trek titan movieThat was the broad strokes. The cure though did not solve the problem of Andor moving forward from where they were. Or the fear that led them to create tenuous to no relationship with the Federation, or to answer what next?

A world and an institution trapped in a new existence and attempting to run their own strategies through what to do. The value: Life.

This is where Michael A. Martin’s Star Trek: Titan’s Fallen Gods. The USS Titan was the ship introduced in 2002’s movie, Star Trek Nemesis where Captain Picard officiated the wedding of his First Officer, William Riker, and ship’s Counsellor, Deanna Troi on Enterprise E. The Titan was the ship they were transferring to for Riker to become a captain.

It is the most diverse ship in the Federation, think Canada (or if you live in Canada, NE Calgary) in space. How does this tie into the meta story? Simple, within the crew is 7 Andorians. Andor’s government announces an edict that all citizens are to return home to ensure the survival of their species. See, it is not just simple math of male plus female can make a baby. For Andorians there are four genders involved in a bonding to produce a viable offspring. Hence, that they need to ensure all are back on deck for this.

The challenge is, what if you do not want to return home? What if you see yourself as a Federation citizen not a citizen of Andor?

This is the conundrum, as the Federation responds they would repatriate, in essence strip rights and citizenship and were sending a ship to take the 7 crew members. In the gap time, Andor sent a battle ship to remove by force if necessary.

Captain Riker, is left with his own core values, about free will, choice, and efficacy… and decides that it is up to each crew member to decide, not a forced choice putting him at odds.

First ethical conundrum comes up:

1) You are an Andorian crew member, what do you choose?

2) You are the captain of the Federation ship coming to rendezvous with Titan, what’s your decision?

3) Andorian commander, what do you do?

Finally, Riker, how strong is your resolve?

It is the same as having a personal or corporate mission or vision. Core values create it, and flow through to create the lens opportunities and decisions are placed through to come to decisions. It is a test to truly understand what core values are, for missions, plans and programs may change (same as careers) but core values usually hold good ground.

The second ethical conundrum. A simple request to meet each Crew member on the Andorian ship to interview. Attempts at kidnapping thwarted. But something is hinky with the Transporter. For Trekkies we all know Tom Riker came about due to a transporter accident that split Riker in two, creating two distinct people…guess what the Andorians had figured out to re-patriate those that did not want to come home?

Is it ethical?

What rights does the “new” transporter individual have?

Would you have fought?

Kidnapped?

Used the transporter to create new life?

The could/should question at the fore front of the Jurassic Park book and movies series, is good within the concept of Chaos Theory and whether or not things should happen just because we can. Have we extrapolated the full ethical impact before acting. What is driving decisions? Time? Fear? Power? Money?

In this quandary of a subplot, what would you do as any of the players? Where do your core values take you in life? How does it relate to how you are living now, and the decisions you make each day?

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A series of reflections on the Harvard Business Review’s (2011) 10 Must Reads on Strategy…

Execution, and no we are not discussing the death penalty. This is about how to ensure the strategy actually leads to outcomes desired. Mankins & Steele (2005) “Turning Great Strategy into Great Performance” gives us 7 rules for attempting this (p.212-213):

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Challenge assumptions.
  3. Speak the same language.
  4. Discuss resource deployments early.
  5. Identify priorities.
  6. Continuously monitor performance.
  7. Develop execution ability.

Keep it simple is essentially the K.I.S.S. concept put more nicely, so I don’t think I need to spend time unpacking that. Challenge assumptions though is one where the 5W’s and H questions to test the reliability of the foundation you have built your plan upon. Within the church world far too often the underlying assumptions go this way- we are (insert denomination here) thus everyone attending is (insert denomination here) so we do not have to teach/disciple about it or, if they go through Sunday School they will stick around. Remember the old joke of how to get the bats out of the bell tower, just baptize and confirm them.

These two flow into the third step, speak the same language. In a multi-cultural setting where I am this can be a challenge on many levels. Within the church though it can be a tad humourous. For it extrapolates the probeative questions of challenging assumptions. If all the newcomers attended (x denomination) in their home country, then they get us. Totally removes context, formation, and functionality from the question and creates more stumbling blocks than are necessary if one had just kept life simple with a rolling introductory course on how and what the church is.

The first 3 become the foundation for the last 4. It is about creating the framework for the strategy so that it is successful.

In our own lives we tend to over jump these steps and dive right into step 7. Well, let’s back it up, what are assumptions in your life you need to challenge about your goals/vision/direction/vocation? What language do you need to learn to speak? How are you deploying the resources/skills and talents you have? Is it scatter shot or is there a focus about what you do? What are your life priorities? A quick way to figure this out is to have lived through a challenge (over time versus family event) or to take an ethics course to be able to explore core values. Point 6, is really the monastic rule around daily examin, end of the day reflect back on what happened- good, bad, and indifferent. Areas of growth and opportunities will emerge, so will an authenticity of life as you look back on other areas. Are you being the true you? or not?

Are you able to implement and execute your plan?

Basically, are you living your life as an authentic you?

What’s so strategic 6

Posted: May 29, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , ,

A series of reflections on the Harvard Business Review’s (2011) 10 Must Reads on Strategy…

“Execution is the result of thousands of decisions made every day by employees acting according to the information they have and their own self-interest.”

-Neilson, Martin, and Powers (2008) “The secrets to Successful Strategy Execution”

Basically how do you ensure the strategy and values are executed…communication, communication, communication… oh and did I mention communication. Whether it is company, a non-profit or a volunteer driven organization ala community association or church. People’s time is valuable. The decisions made will be made based on the information they have, the time crunch they are constantly under and what their core values are.

The gist is to ensure communication and equipping are in place. Ensure that those making decisions have investment in the organization, but that investment has to be honoured, and identified by those in charge.

Which organizations do you feel truly values you? Which do not?

What does this say about what you need to let go of so that you are able to more fully execute that which you hold in value?


A series of reflections on the Harvard Business Review’s (2011) 10 Must Reads on Strategy…

I have begun to reflect on strategic leadership lately, it has come out of coffee shop conversations truly. The core is what does it mean. Like when I was involved way back in the day with ASQC/ISO things, there is less substance than some observe. Short hand for the acronyms was truly being able to create manuals of what your company did so anyone could pick them up and do, it was sold as efficiency, but was it?

The same token can be asked about the latest buzzword around “Strategic Leadership” as it has become the new norm. A way for companies it appears to throw away relationships, elders, as the focus becomes hyper fixated upon the greatest quick fix craze (our conversation started here: A Failure of Nerve: A Review). The first article within this text is by Michael E. Porter (1996) “What is Strategy?”. Some would say it is a benchmark question.  Porter defines strategy as “creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities.” (p.16) and goes on to point out that for strategy to be effective there is trade-offs (p.17). He arrives at this definition after a meandering through defining what is operational effectiveness, which is the delivery system of what you do as efficiently as possible. There is a barrier of market share you can achieve, and a maximum return on this investment.

This leads the article to outline what strategy isn’t, and then being able to define what it is. The point then being that to achieve the strategy organizations needed to be willing to trade-off. Now, this is where it can get mucky from some perspectives, for before trade-offs can begin, one needs to understand the core values of the organization (that which is non-negotiable) and how this supports and works with the strategy. When one does not achieve these, it goes badly under the guise of strategic leadership, for wisdom is lost, chronic organizational anxiety for the quick fix takes hold, and autocracy takes over. The sad part, is many times the autocrat who has their own echo chamber to listen to (consultants, inner-circle, quantitative data without emotion, etc) will lose that which a good consultant will already point you to: a leader with strong integrity and differentiated from the unhealthy aspects, will not be able to retain those in the organization that will healthily support the strategy in implementation and activation. Let that settle in, we can be so quick fix oriented, that we drive away those that can get the job done, simply because they first appear against because they are the differentiated. They are the ones’ willing to say the Emperor has no clothes, but let’s make a robe.

Some organizations are willing to trade off the older/elder because it helps the profit margin, the salary bottom line to employ the younger less experienced, and creates less ripples. The hard part is that relationships are lost, the art of care and integrity is not passed on, neither is the connectivity to the consumer. Porter uses many business to point out that you cannot be all things to everyone, and need to focus on your core competencies, that support your values, and are hard to replicate. That meandering and mediocrity happen when everyone attempts to be the same, when they assume and function as if trade-offs do not need to happen. Great for business, but how does this relate to the church?

It does quite frequently as we attempt cookie cutter ministry. One example is a church I served in that was a strong seniors church, understood care for their generation in their homes, the church (Sunday Sundaes, Men’s Breakfasts, knitting circles, Hymn Sings, antique shows), and extended care. They did not embrace and live into that saying there would be no growth. How could they attract the youth and young families?

They had missed that by being authentically themselves. Not worrying about an active Children’s ministry or youth (as they had none), what they would attract was the older people in the area, but upon visiting young families that were no longer close to their homes would be able to have elders in their lives. Yet all of it was lost, simply because they could not be content and live into who they truly were, they believed the non-trade-off mentality that they needed A-V to be a viable congregation, yet W-Z that they had would make them a healthy, vibrant, and welcoming community if they only could release their chronic anxiety…and sadly anyone who tried to point that out was abruptly shown the door.

It is quite a few gobbly gook business vernacular to simply say, figure out what you truly are, and offer what others cannot. Then that becomes the strategy moving forward.

At the intrinsic community level that is the question to be asked, who are we? Who am I? If we were to be gone tomorrow would we be missed?

What is strategy? It is being authentic in who you are.


A quick fix. Fitting in. Ensuring stakeholders are appeased, not inspired. Ensuring that the right buzzwords are used, and terminology if not properly implemented. Either the anxious few, or the zombiefied majority may lead. Any of this sound familiar? We are in a world of managers. I was one, so I do not intend to slight the profession, but it needs to be acknowledged for what it is. That is the function of maintaining, growing, an short term vision casting. It is not about a long-term vision, or dream. It is responsive, can be pragmatic, but also is usually caught in many triangulations (the unhealthy use of a relationship triangle). One may have entered into the profession through pursuit, working hard and earning their colleague’s trust, or simply being the last one standing the longest (in some instances, it can also be the one that made eye contact at the wrong time in a meeting with the chair).

Image result for a failure of nerve quotesEdwin H. Friedman (and editors who completed the work after his passing) attempt to unpack what makes a healthy leader in the modern context in his 2017 (10th anniversary edition) A Failure of Nerve” Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. Friedman, a rabbi and practicing family therapist in his life, takes his family systems theory and expands it out into the world of leadership. His theories are shaped around anecdotes from his work in therapy, as a consultant to business, politics and religious organizations. As far as leadership authors go, he is as qualified as any to put forward a theory. It is a theory that lends itself to the human end of leadership and organizations.

The lynch-pin of his theory is on the concept of Chronic Anxiety hat has developed within the institutions of the world. The book walks the reader through eight thesis to unpack this concept, and point to the need for a healthy differentiated leader to move an organization into health and break the anxiety cycle.

Friedman touches upon the need for emotion, imagination and the spirit of adventure back into leadership. Within our understanding this many years on, I would say it is now focused on the idea of manager versus leader, or someone able to bark the loudest, over someone able to move through life with integrity. Sadly, within the concept of Chronic Anxiety, or in my understanding of U Theory and Change, a world stuck in pre-contemplation, or anger-denial and not wanting to let go of where we are to allow what come to come. The places that open themselves up to a leadership with integrity, not an autocrat, but someone who casts a position, and functions healthily to keep the boat steady. It is an understanding to be able to see those that need time to understand, and if you have not gutted the core values of self or organization to change direction you will hold on to the healthy ones. That is the strength will stay. If you do not, you will have workers, parishners, etc. that will constantly show up, but will not allow for true growth-expansion and depth.

That is they will constantly be creating emotional triangles to drag the leader down, or to attempt to trigger their anxiety to come down to the level they are at. It is what is known in addiction recovery as misery likes company. As you heal, then those still in the cycle will try to sabotage you. Same is being put forward by Friedman in his leadership theory. One piece he could’ve drawn out more in the concept of saboteur is the interior one, the old soundtracks, or ignored soundtracks that under moments of intense stress can re-emerge in our own lives. Ones that a point in time may have kept us safe or healthy, but are not healthy and no longer serve a purpose but are comfortable. These interior saboteurs can be as destructive as the exterior ones on leadership.

There is also a touchstone on the drive for data. It is true, data is important, yet as our world becomes more data obsessed, we have lost the ability for the qualitative and have driven hard for the quantitative exclusively. The only flaw is that it is only part of the story, and the numbers part can be swayed to prove any point depending on what one focuses on and how it is presented. Also what’s the context that it is being presented in, like a budget that shows a deficit for one year, but ignores the surpluses of previous years, not the whole story is there. So is a data set, without an emotional component. The story piece, the impact piece.

For example in housing first work it was based (and may still be) in the early days on acuity, which means those with the most complexity get housed first. Unfortunately this left a huge gap for literally those that fell between the gaps for affordable housing and housing subsidies. Either those that were working poor, or elderly, or with disabilities, in some cases veterans, or someone who had been housed based on acuity but had “graduated” after x number of years, and was now back. Those in the gap had a story, and a right, but did not fit the targeted data set. Those that cast a vision of home for those in the gap were often ridiculed, and finally forced into silence. But what has been missed? It was not an either or dichotomy that a chronic anxious society wants, because when in anxiety or trauma or depression the world becomes inherently black and white. It was a both and lens to look at how we cared for all our neighbours in need, and walked with them out of institution into community, and home (not simply a place with walls and a door) but a place of authentic belonging.

One only gets there, regardless of sector, by being able to have heart, compassion, understanding, and a holistic understanding of the story, data and all. The other piece though is sometimes the data does not show the outliers or the gappers, and that is where a differentiated leader will take one. Just take the church with the plug and play program mentality for survival or social club atmosphere instead of looking into its heart as an organization and ask, why are we here? What do we offer that is different? What happens if we close, outside of those in the pews who would miss us? Would even those in the pews miss us or simply find a new social group? It takes a leader outside of the anxiety, and willing to face the brunt of the sabotage and attack to speak out of the Spirit, and state that it is something different. It is not breadth, but depth, and there is many ways to get there if the group is willing.

That is the hard part, for an anxious leader with an strong healthy group can look great, while a strong healthy leader may collapse with an unhealthy group that is unwilling to take the journey to health. Friedman’s opus, that was finished by others, is a guide for leadership formation that is against the grain, and also shows a community how to come into health. The challenge coming from a social psychology bent is that it can be easily silenced, the deeper biological science he uses, while a path to follow as illustrations can be a deterrent for the laity in picking up the work. It is a text that needs to be discussed with others, and to be used as a self-reflective tool. The challenge is that it has a highly American bent in the context it shares one functioning in. I know there is a Chronic Anxiety in Canada in our communities, but if you have traveled in both countries it is different, and manifests differently.

You can look at different leadership roles and unpack the anxieties you had, those you led, the saboteurs, and what worked and did not work to learn and grow from. In between leadership roles, it can be explored as a source of renewing the heart set, but also read along other resources to seek to understand context. The context then, being looked at, does need to be applied locally. A fallacy I do believe Friedman falls into is the universality fallacy that cultural competency and empathy are not important. I give that his understanding of empathy as allowing one not to face their own “demons” (my word) is wrong, and that one should not use it to hide from healing, but there is something about being able to see from another’s perspective, and to understand the impact the path may take on that. It can and does shape healthy conversations of separation or departure if needed for colleagues and team mates with a new vision.

This exploration came as I began challenging my brain once more by auditing a condensed course on Strategic Leadership. The topic popped up as it had been the central topic in many coffee conversations and how one can be strategic and hold to their core values, and the core values an organization “professes” to have. Too often “becoming strategic” has been a buzz word to drastically change an organizations culture, do harm to long term staff, remove staff care, and focus more on the monetary over the person before us. The journey is seeking the Via Media of what should be in caring for all, and ensuring funding.

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coverA stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

Buy your copy at Amazon.ca today.