Posts Tagged ‘Values’


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.

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Judge Cycle 5

Posted: January 14, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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As you work your way through the stories in Judges, it can begin to feel like a never ending loop of a bad run of Coronation Street, when the writers ran out of a bit of oomph. I mean, the cycle itself can be rather tedious, and I can hear the reader going, well how does this apply to today for surely we are not that dense or in a theocracy.

Yes and no.

It applies because it begins to tease out a change cycle. Truly, what is the Deuteronic history stories but a story of change and evolution of a collection of tribes. From slavery, to wanderings to establishing norms, to trying to figure out life within family dynamics (as it seems each nation is a cousin’s descendants). In any change cycle fear is a major thing, and that is why I believe there is this cycle issue in Judges (and today) for we do not want to leave what is comfortable for us. We see this in Ambilech’s story (Judges 9-10) where he appeals to the fear in change. Okay, let’s get real, change is a grief cycle, and as such we work through the stages of grief. Whether you are a Kubler-Ross fan, or a Senge, U Theory fan it is a journey:

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Throughout the journey of Judges, the message back to the tribes, to the person remains the same. Here are our constants, trust in that. Move forward in what we know is right, and what we know is wrong is to be cast aside whether it is old or new. It becomes a cycle, and yes, we must release the past eventually, but the processes of the past that only serve no purpose (like the old idiom don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater).

I would state that the moments of peace at the end of a Judge Cycle is the nation crystallizing or prototyping yet just not ready to step into performing. They cycle back to try again, it may take several runs, but each time something new is performing, something new is discovered that needs to be let go, as with Jephthah’s cycle of being a judge (Judges 11-12).

What I love is that it shows the challenge of accepting the new, the first line is that he is a son of a prostitute. Now, many in the ancient world or even today will not admit this profession exists due to patriarchy and oppression. But definitely in the ancient times without a man to “own” them, it is the route women were left with. Jephthah’s very birth was casting light on the darkness the tribes refusing to move forward in care and equality was doing to their own brethren.

It lays out the horrors turning away from the Law had wrecked on the tribes. So is this a statement for the need for legalism? No, for what is at the core of the Law, this is what needs to be remembered for even in the Torah it comes down to the Shema, which is boiled down to Love.

Are our actions in society out of love for one another?

Is it rooted in compassion and kindness? Knowing that we all are created with inherent worth, or have we simply commodified ourselves. The challenge of the Judge’s lineage in this story showing that someone had fallen into a societal label game and was cast aside. Do we do that today? With our medical codes? Diagnosis? Territorial-religious-economic stratification? Race? Gender? All become points of those on the in and the out.

What is the truth? Something we have known for thousands of years. We are all in this together, all the same, and it is when we stray from love and create false labels that we are hit with war, famine, and death. When hate overtakes love.

And no, it is not a quick transition or change. For in change as it involves the ickiness of life, and those dastardly emotions. It is about being present, and understanding that things will not be as they have always been amen amen. Rather it is knowing whether in the transition is it healthy or not? Does it honour our shared humanity or not? Are we able to let go, and let in what is being formed?

After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

-Judges 12:8-15 (English Standard Version)

And a few more cycles of inquisition, fighting back against the letting in, holding on to that which needs to be let go of. For what is the stories of Judges, but the stories of individuals and groups wrestling with the answer to the hardest question in life:

Who am I (We)?


Values. It is a scary word. It speaks to what we, well value. What is important to us, as individuals, a community. They can be used to divide if the value is about control, power, etc. Or they can be life giving. John is writing to a community in a constant flux of change. They are in the mystery of the journey of life. Having re-discovered the Love Commandment, and figuring out what it means to live that way. What needs to go away? What needs to stay? What needs to be brought in?

It is a change process.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 3:1-10 (English Standard Version)

As we know, change is about loss. Even positive change of better employment, goal achievement, birth of a child, discovery of true self, sobriety, graduation, the list can go on. There is grief, for what happens with the change is what was known is gone. Let that sit for a while as we reflect on this part of sin and deceit from these first ten verses. It is about clinging to what was, knowing it is over, but not being able to grow upon the foundation. It is also about one’s personal and communal values. Has the change created something you can still be apart of? Has the change, literally or figuratively changed the vocation you are called to? Values are icky. They are hard mushy conversations many want to avoid. Much like understanding that change is a grief journey. May be short, may be long. But it is about honouring and letting go of the old, being present in the now, and living into the new birth.

 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[c] that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[d]and God[e] in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

-Epistle of 1 John 3:11-24 (English Standard Version)

What is newly birthed? Is it a new birth completely or a rebirth of the old with impediments, sludge burnt away? Are you comfortable after the change? Does it still resonate with who you truly know yourself to be? This is the metaphor used with the story of Cain. A move from sibling rivalry. That is yearning for what your neighbour has, living in discontent, making everything a monetary value. Or bringing people down to a number, in churches and non-profits it can be seen as simply a donor line item of their value based on what they gave. For populist movements politically it is about taxpayers, those that pay taxes are the only needs that matter in society- not children, seniors, those with disabilities… 2000 years on from Jesus of Nazareth’s wanderings, teachings and living out the Love Commandment, and worlds built supposedly on these pillars. We are still having adventures in missing the point.

Change is scary. It is scary due to the fact it is grieving. You feel. You have to acknowledge feelings. Acknowledge values. Gut check. Sometimes it is stepping out into a new reality even if you have no clue how it will work. But the path has been illuminated before you.

Do you follow the light? or rest in the darkness?

Do you manage the change and maintain…

Or jouney through grief to a rebirth?


Star Trek Enterprise is an easily overlooked piece of the Trek-Mythos. It is the adventures of the NX-01 crew setting out in the first warp 5 ship to explore the galaxy. It begins with returning a Klingon home, has temporal cold wars, Xindi, Romulans, Orions, many new adventures and learning. It also sets the stage for the United Federation of Planets of Humans, Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans to begin with (an atrocious series finale shared this scene, where a beloved main character’s life was tossed away in the dumbest way possible, Trip you deserved better).

“What’s the meaning of this delay, Jon? I’ve been patient. I’ve put up with your refusal to abandon this absurd proposal even after all the revelations. I agreed to go through the whole blasted debate one more time before the Council. I’m not going to stand for anymore delaying. . .” He (Shrand) trailed off, then took a step closer, studying Archer’s face. “Jon, what is it? You look like your best friend just died.”

Bennett (2017) Patterns of Interference p. 349-350.

It is the story of discovering how one belongs within the wider scope of the universe. First by discovering who you truly are, and what intrinsically is you. It is the quirky adventures of many streams of human (and a Vulcan and Denobulan) life coming together to live and learn together. At its core is the story of Captain Jonathan Archer as he learns who he is, and how to navigate the universe, and carry on his father’s legacy who was the driving force of the warp 5 project. As is shared in many shows, and novels, belonging is not about melting into another’s way of being, but respecting who they are, and their culture is and finding the intersections of connectedness for inclusion.

Which brings us to Christopher L. Bennett’s Rise of the Federation series under the Enterprise banner. A series of novels that share how the Federation grew from infancy, to where it is at the beginning of the original series. In Patterns of Interference (2017) we have the kernels of a great Star Trek story. Continuation of the journey of core characters; some drama; some mystery; first contact; intrigue and rooting out of possible evil (don’t want to give too much of the main plot away as I encourage you to read it). But in the sub-narrative there is a story of change, and grieving.

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Porthos, boldly went where no Beagle had gone before.

In the ancient story of Tobit there is a throw away line, and the dog went with. The NX-01 embraced this, as Archer’s puppy, Porthos, the fearless space adventuring beagle and lover of cheese went with (and was part of many first contacts). Fifteen years on Porthos is closing in on 18 years old (though with tech could live longer)… he is no longer able to enjoy his cheese. He enjoys his friend Jon, at the end of the day sitting with him, as the inevitable closes in.

The sub-plot is one of those meta-narratives for our Image result for Star Trek Enterprise Commander Shrantimes. For Archer, now Admiral Archer, struggles with the time he needs to spend with his longest companion at life’s end and the demand of the “work”. Especially at this time as the Council is debating his motion around non-interference. Where Shrand comes near the end. Shrand has been Archer’s frenemy for quite a while, having met and tortured him in a Vulcan-spy-monastery; and many adventures in between. Affectionately dubbing Archer, “Pink Skin”. A tough warrior, without much compassion, but lots of passion for striking first and asking questions later. The inverse of Archer, whose space faring has made him wanting to monitor and ask questions first before acting. Foils of debate.

Yet, as the quote above notes, Shrand, notes something is off with Jon when he tries to get him to the debate Archer wanted. Yet Archer had just received the news it was time for Porthos to pass. How could he rationalize to the Council not showing up at this time? How could he rationalize as some would say the life of a dog over this important matter?

What/who is important in your life?

Archer discloses this to Shrand. His inner struggle on the unfairness not to go through despite what is happening with Porthos. Shrand’s response on p. 251:

“To hell with the Council, Jon. And to hell with me. Go. Your companion beast should not leave this world alone.”

Archer attempts to protest and Shrand brings him up short again, with Archer’s own heart.

“The fate of the worlds can wait. You have a friend who needs you.”

Image result for Captain ArcherNot hyperbole from the Andorian Admiral, though, we sometimes overemphasize the task before us when emotional time is needed. When a friend is in need. We can have a million to do’s on our list, and easily rationalize not being there. That is when the voice of our true heart needs to ring through. That which we can tend to so easily close off, unless it is from a trusted source or, in this case a surprise source.

“Just go be with Porthos.” Walking with Archer towards the exit, he spoke again, hesitantly. “I don’t suppose. . . that is, I know how hard it can be to say goodbye. If you. . . need me to come with you, lend additional support. . .”

“That. . .would be very much appreciated,” Archer said with a bittersweet smile. “Thank you– my friend.” (p.352).

It is the closing scene of the book, but the one that is the most telling. Two people who have been at odds, worked together. Done things to aid one another. Never truly realizing what they were to one another, until a situation arose that pushed them out of their usual roles. A passing of a companion, made each realize what the world would be like without Porthos, but also at some level without the other.

Being missed. The piece of belonging. The piece of authentic friendship, being there in the dark, not just the light. In the quiet, not just the action. In the tears, not just the cheers.

We can hide from many things in our lives. Create layers of dissonance through keeping ourselves busy, so we never have to look at our true selves, or feel pain. This is true. I wish I could share the full 3 page scene with you, as my wife read it she teared a little at the power but also because as she said, who knew Shrand had a heart.

That is true. Who in life is your Shrand?

How do we know who our friends are?

How do we know what we value in life?

Who/what is important in your life? Does your choice of time use reflect this?

Beyond all labels and values- –

how do you know when you belong?

In your own heart, and the heart of others.