Surviving Digital Darwinism

Thanks to everyone for your very kind words about my presentation at OEB Midsummit today. It was a labor of love and I really appreciate how many of you took time out to share how you appreciated the narrative approach. Thanks also to Gary Zamchick who is my visual partner in crime on projects such as this.

For those who want the WHOLE Story….I will post later today


Learning Technology Address

I just got word that my talk at Learning Technologies 17 is now up. A number of you had asked me to post to my blog once it was up….so here it is. Don’t miss Steve’s great intro where he delves into the world of technology. I come in around the 24 minute mark with my riff on how we need to avoid falling into the routinizaiton trap with these new techologies.

I told a story in five chunks:

  1. To learn how to navigate the permanent white water created by the VUCA Vortex….
  2. ….we must address the scary problems that have painted us into a formal classroom learning corner….
  3. by overcoming our own limiting learning and development orthodoxies….
  4. …to recognize how technology is rapidly changing the nature of learning on multiple different dimensions….
  5. ….that can enable new design rules to build a deliberately developmental learning system.

For those of you who want to follow along with the slides, they are here:


Individual Leader Competence or Leadership System Capability?

This is the fourth installment chronicling the insights that emerged from our work to develop our Leading from the Center Model.

Our fourth insight was that “We are moving from building individual leader competence to leadership system capability.” The big shift we are seeing today is that, in addition to focusing on building the competence in indiviudal leaders, organizations are seeking to create leadership system capability to accelerate the organizations responsiveness, resilience and adaptability.

Does your leadership development approach focus on teaching individual leaders topics associated with a competency model or creating the contexts within which leadership systems can learn while doing? If now, should it?

Reconceiving Change: From Solving Problems to Navigating Polarities

This is the third installment chronicling the insights that emerged from our work to develop our Leading from the Center Model.

Our third insight was that “Leaders are no longer faced with solving simple problems instead they must learn to navigate complex polarities.” Change is no longer something static that can be managed by unfreezing, reconfiguring and refreezing, instead change resides within the business ecosysetm and throws off unanticipated tradeoffs and tensions that must be attended to in an agile and thoughtful way. Learning to navigate the polarties thrown off by change is one of the most important things a leader must learn….which will require UNLEARNING the mindset that every challenge is a problem that can be solved through linear and sequential deductive logic.

What do you think….are you living and working  in a “Find-it-out” world where every problem you encounter is definable and has been solved in the past or are you increasingly operating in a “Figure-it-out” context where the issues you encounter are ones that are without precedent and require real-time sensemaking and ongoing attention? I know my world is laregely the latter!

Can Your Organization Avoid the VUCA Vortex

This is the second installment chronocling the insights that emerged from our work to develop our Leading from the Center Model.

Our second insight was that “Organizations are increasingly succeptible to the strengthening pull of the VUCA Vortex.” In fact, over the past 16 years, over 50% of the Fortune 500 have been pulled into the vortex and no longer exist. The new rule in this era of Digital Darwinism, it appears, is adapt or DIE!

What do you think? Is your organization immune to the VUCA vortex? If not, what are you doing to make sure it does not go the way of the dinosaur?

The Leadership Challenge: Developing Agility in Perpetuity

For the past six months, our Strategic Leadership Solutions team at DukeCE has been working tirelessly to distill our 16 years of collective experience working with over 250,000 leaders around the world to answer the question: How must leadership evolve to create organizations that are more responsive, resilient and agile?

Our journey of inquiry was aptly described by our team as being “herky jerky” and many of the unconventional insights that emerged from our collaborative sensemaking created a path that led us to our Leading from the Center Model.

At various stages of our journey we captured brief and unscripted video snippets of our new insights. We affectionately dubbed these “Scribbles from the Basement.”

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing these insights in chronological order so that you can share in our journey.

Our first insight was that “Leadership’s primary challenge is to understand how to develop agility in perpetuity.”  Take a look and let me know what you think. Is this the MOST important challenge for leadership today?

I’m Babaaaacccccckkkk


I feel like I just popped through a wormhole. It is hard to believe that has been 1673 days since I last posted something here and, following a lot of chastizing from friends and colleagues in the learning field at Learning Technologies this year I have decided it is time to jump back into the discourse.

Don Taylor has been unrelenting in his perseverance to get me to come share some of my ideas on leadership, learning and technology at the conference over the past three years and I am so glad that he did.

In attending the conference this year and connecting with kindred spirits who have been on the learning journey for more years than we care to mention I felt once again right at home….Thank you Don Taylor for making me show up, Charles Jennings for sharing the wonderful work you are doing at 70-20-10 Institute, Harold Jarche for your ever insighful take on networks and learning and Nigel Paine for that incredible book you wrote on Building Leadership Development Programs…..I read it in one sitting on the way home from London.

It was truly wonderful to plug back into the community…. and it is good to be home ; )

Thanks also to the many of you who reached out asking for my charts. Many of you who know me know that I am a “Default to Open” kinda guy so, here they are available for free download from Slideshare.

The title of my talk was “What If…? Putting new Technologies to Work – The Challenge and the Opportunity.” My partners in crime were Steve Wheeler and Andrew Jacobs.

Looking forward to much more discussion and dialogue moving forward!

My New Home: Duke Corporate Education

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I taught my last Culture, Civilization and Leadership class for Fuqua’s CCMBA Program in St. Petersburg, Russia last week.

While the “Gestalt” of recognizing that I would no longer be a part of this incredible program was bitter for me, the sweet counterpoint is that I am now in a position to fully engage in my new role as Executive Director at Duke Corporate Education.

Since April I have been playing a dual role between getting situated at Duke CE while rounding out my responsibilities at Fuqua. During that time I have come to appreciate what a truly special place Duke CE is. The unique constellation of capabilities that have been created and the incredible talent that the leadership team has convened is second-to-none in the industry …. It is no surprise to me  that Duke CE was recently recognized as the number 1 provider of Custom Executive Education for the tenth year in a row.

I am truly honored to become a part of the Duke CE team and look forward to the opportunities that lay ahead as we define the next generation of leadership development strategies, architectures and interventions to prepare the next generation of leaders of consequence!

Innovations in e-Learning Keynote Slides

Last month I had the pleasure of delivering a Keynote at the eight annual Innovations in e-Learning conference at George Mason University.

My talk was titled “Learning in the Era of the INSTANT Enterprise” and I explored how technology is changing both the environment within which enterprises work as well as the way individuals within the enterprise are engaging in workflow.

Here is a snippit of my talk where I set up the key question I explore as it relates to creating an Instant enterprise:

You can view the full keynote by clicking HERE:

Many of you commented that you liked the artwork in the presentation. The truth is that most of my keynotes these days are not mine, they are a collaboration between myself and Gary Zamchick, a wonderfully talented thought-partner and visualizer.

Here is are the charts for your review/download:

In following the twittersphere, it looks like I may have been overzealous in my final assertion that we “don’t need new TECHNOLOGY, or PEDAGOGY or ANDRAGOGY … we just need new THINKING….”

In hindsight, I might amend my final comment to say “BEFORE adopting new TECHNOLOGY, PEDAGOGY or ANDRAGOGY…, we FIRST need NEW THINKING…”

What do you think… How might I have better closed out this talk?

Fuqua CCMBA: What an Amazing Four Years!

Last Friday, in St. Petersburg Russia,  I taught the Culture, Civilization and Leadership course for Fuqua’s CCMBA program for the very last time.

This was a very moving day for me as it caused me to reflect on how far we have come over the last four years in creating what I believe to be a truly differentiated global leadership program at Fuqua.

Four years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to join Blair Sheppard and Bill Boulding as they set out on an ambitious journey to reinvent business education. We wanted to re-write all the rules and create a program that created leaders of consequence who deeply understood the cultural, economic and political transitions and tensions going on around the world.

The reason we believed that we needed a fundamentally different global leadership program was captured very effectively in this wonderful one-minute video:

With this vision in place Bill Boulding and I embarked on a year-long design process to create a situational learning experience aimed specifically at building the skill of recognizing and valuing cultural diversity in each region.

Our design was bold, it required that reach well beyond our comfort zones to redefine the very notion of the traditional course and to create a collaborative learning process that leveraged the residency experience itself as the primary learning vehicle.

After three years of fine-tuning thanks to the very helpful feedback of our students, I truly believe we have created a global leadership offering that is without peer. For proof, I offer up Fuqua’s “Embedded and Connected” video where the students themselves describe the experience they go through and what they have learned as a result.

As I move on to Duke Corporate Education for the next chapter in my career, I leave Fuqua incredibly humbled to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing program. During the three years I had the honor of engaging over 450 incredibly talented students from over 35 countries. During that time I travelled over 230,000 miles and I got to see the world through many different eyes. This is an experience that has profoundly changed my perspective on the world.

They say that the greatest way to learn is to teach. CCMBA has taught me that the greatest way to learn is from your colleagues as you jointly try to make sense of what you perceive around you.

Thank you Fuqua, Thank You Blair and Bill and thanks to all of my students for making me see the world in a completely different way…it truly has been an amazing four years!