THE SANDBOX ~ Issue #41 ~ June 8, 1999
   A Richland Alumni Online Forum

          "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
                        Proverbs 15:1

Contributors to Issue #41 are:

Steve Carson (58),  John Adkins (62), 
Vernon Blanchette (64), Mike Franco (70),
Arthur Roberts (48)  Mike Pearson (74)
Barbara Seslar Brackenbush (60)

Subjects Include: The development of grandchildren,
 Lessons on leadership, A path away from vilolence,
 Common logical fallacies, Some fun with Bill Gates
 and A SANDBOX Farewell.

From:   Steve Carson (58)
For:      Gayle Walley Burmham  (79)

Well said!  We are now participating in the
 development of our GrandChildren and if you want to
 have an interesting conversation with them ask them to
 give you an example of some things that are wrong and
 some things that are right.

It sparks an interesting conversation and you will have
 the opportunity to explore their value system.  It has
 become a game we play with our 10 GrandChildren.

                 Steve Carson - Class of 1958


From: John Adkins "62"  ~
It says "I'll drink to that"

John Adkins "62"

[Would you care to elaborate a little more on what you
 are drinking to here, John?  We might want to
 join you!]  -ap


Subj:   The Core of Us All
From:   Vernon Blanchette (64) ~

There is a message in the violence in our high schools
 As many of the Sandbox readers have pointed out it is
 not a matter of gun control or laws.  There are roots of
 this event inside each of us...  deeper than human laws
 can fix.  Until we seek these roots out and get them
 right we can fully expect to see non-heavenly things
 break out in seemingly safe places.  Consider this:
 "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him
 while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and
 the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to
 the Lord, and He will have love and mercy for him,
 and to our God, for He will multiply to him His
 abundant pardon.  For My thoughts are not your
 thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the
 Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so
 are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts
 than your thoughts.  For as the rain and snow come
 down from the heavens, and return not there again, but
 water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that
 it may give seed to the sower and bread to eater, so
 shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it
 shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish that
 which I please and it shall prosper in the thing for
 which I sent it.  For you shall go out from the spiritual
 exile caused by sin and evil into the homeland with
 joy... and be led forth by your Leader,  the Lord
 Himself, and His word with peace...".  (Isaiah 55)  
 The violence we see begins in the natural human
 condition of all of us and will reign in each of us
 uncontrolled.  This will be true as long as we have not
 recognized our fallen state, our separation from the
 Being who created this world, and repented of our
 own sins.  There is a path to safety and joy, where
 people do not murder other people.  

        Vernon Blanchette  - Class of 64


Subj:   Bill Gates and BC
From:   Barbara Seslar Brackenbush  ~

I had a really good laugh over this one.  Thanks!!!
 I guess I laughed for two reasons:  My son was
 working for Microsoft as a "temp" for a couple years;
 and I guess I'm part of that right wing conspiracy
 Hillary keeps talking about.  BTW, I never did
 anything that she says I did.


          Barbara Seslar Brackenbush (1960)

[Note: For those of you who did not follow through on
 what Barbara is talking about, here is a repeat of the
 item from SANDBOX #40:

"Here is proof that either Bill Gates has a sense of
 humor or that he is part of that right wing conspiracy
 Hillary keeps talking about."

1) Open a new Microsoft Word document
2) Type the phrase: I'd like Bill Clinton to resign
3) Highlight this phrase as if you we're going to check
 for spelling
4) Select: Tools - Language - Thesaurus"]


Subj:   Comments on Good Leadership
From:   Vernon Blanchette (64)  ~
General Colin Powell recently spoke as part of his
 Outreach to America program at the SEARS
 Corporate Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.

Lesson 1
"Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."

Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare
 of the group, which means that some people will get
 angry at your actions and decisions.  It's  inevitable - if
 you're honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is
 a sign of mediocrity. You'll avoid the tough decisions,
 you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be
 confronted, and you'll avoid offering differential
 rewards based on differential performance because
 some people might get upset. Ironically, by
 procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to
 get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally
 "nicely"  regardless of their contributions, you'll simply
 ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are
 the most creative and productive people  in the 

Lesson 2 "The day soldiers stop bringing you their
 problems is the day you have stopped leading them.
 They have either lost confidence that you can help
 them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is
 a failure of  leadership."

If this were a litmus test, the majority of CEO would
 fail. One, they build so many barriers to upward
 communication that the very idea of someone lower in
 the hierarchy looking up to the leader for help is
 ludicrous. Two, the corporate culture they foster often
 defines asking for help as weakness or failure, so
 people cover up their gaps, and the organization
 suffers accordingly. Real leaders make themselves
 accessible and available. They show concern for the
 efforts and  challenges faced by underlings-even as
 they  demand  high standards. Accordingly, they are
 more likely to create an environment where problem
 analysis replaces blame.

Lesson 3
"Don't be buffaloed by experts. Experts often possess
 more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred
 that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as
 soon as they are nicked by the real world."

Small companies and startups don't have the time for
 analytically detached experts. They don't have the
 money to subsidize lofty elites, either. The president
 answers the phone and drives the truck when 
 necessary; everyone on the payroll visibly produces
 and contributes to bottom-line results or they're
 history. But as companies get bigger, they often forget
 who "brought them to the dance" things like all-hands
 involvement, egalitarianism,  informality, market
 intimacy, daring, risk, speed, agility. Policies that
 emanate from ivory towers often have an adverse
 impact on the people out in the field who are fighting
 the wars or bringing in the revenues. Real leaders are
 vigilant - and combative - in the face of these trends.

Lesson 4
 "Don't be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their
 own backyard."

Learn from the pros, observe them, seek them out as
 mentors and partners.  But remember that even the
 pros may have leveled out in terms of their learning
 and skills. Sometimes even the pros can become
 complacent and lazy. Leadership does not emerge from
 blind obedience to anyone. Xerox's Barry Rand was
 right on target when he warned his people that if you
 have a yes-man working for you, one of you is
 redundant. Good leadership encourages everyone's

Lesson 5
"Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is
 dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly

Strategy equals execution. All the great ideas and
 visions in the world  are worthless if they can't be
 implemented rapidly and efficiently. Good leaders
 delegate and empower others liberally, but they pay
 attention to details, every day. (Think about supreme
 athletic coaches like Jimmy Johnson, Pat Riley and
 Tony La Russa). Bad ones - even those who fancy
 themselves as progressive visionaries - think they're
 somehow "above" operational details. Paradoxically,
 good leaders understand something alcyon obsessive
 routine in carrying out the details begets conformity
 and complacency, which in turn dulls everyone's mind.
 That is why even as they pay attention to details, they
 continually encourage people to challenge the  process.
 They implicitly understand the sentiment of EO-leaders
 like Quad Graphic's Harry Quadracchi, Oticon's Lars
 Kolind and the late Bill McGowan of MCI, who all
 independently asserted that the Job of a leader is not to
 be  the chief organizer, but the chief disorganizer.

Lesson 6
"You don't know what you can get away with until
 you try."

You know the expression "it's easier to get
 forgiveness than permission?" Well, it's true. Good
 leaders don't wait for official blessing to try things out.
 They're prudent, not reckless. But they also realize a
 fact of  life in most organizations you ask enough
 people for permission, you'll inevitably come up
 against someone who believes his job is to say "no."
 So the moral is, don't ask. I'm serious. In my own
 research with colleague Linda Mukai, we found that
 less effective middle managers endorsed the
 sentiment, "If I haven't explicitly been told 'yes,' I can't
 do it," whereas the good ones believed "If I haven't
 explicitly been told 'no,' I can."  There's a world of
 difference between these two points of view.

Lesson 7
"Keep looking below surface appearances. Don't
 shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like
 what you find."

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the slogan of the
 complacent, the  arrogant or the scared. It's an excuse
 for inaction, a call to non-arms. It's a mind-set that
 assumes (or hopes) that today's realities will continue
 tomorrow in a tidy, linear and predictable fashion. Pure
 fantasy.  In this sort of culture, you won't find people
 who proactively take steps to solve problems as they
 emerge. Here's a little tip.  Don't invest in these

Lesson 8
"Organization doesn't really accomplish anything.
 Plans don't accomplish anything, either. Theories of
 management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or
 fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting
 the best people will you accomplish great deeds."

In a brain-based economy, your best assets are
 people. We've heard this expression so often that it's
 become trite. But how many leaders really  "walk the
 talk" with this stuff? Too often, people are assumed to
 be empty chess pieces to be moved around by grand
 viziers, which may explain why so many top managers
 immerse their calendar time in deal making, 
 restructuring and the latest management fad. How
 many immerse themselves in the goal of creating an
 environment where the best, the brightest, the most
 creative are attracted, retained and-most potently-

Lesson 9
"Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to

Organization charts are frozen, anachronistic photos
 in a workplace that ought to be as dynamic as the
 external environment around you. If people really
 followed organization charts, companies would
 collapse. In well-run organizations, titles are also
 pretty meaningless. At best, they advertise some
 authority-an official status conferring the ability to give
 orders  and induce obedience. But titles mean little in
 terms of real power, which is the capacity to influence
 and inspire. Have you ever noticed that people will
 personally commit to certain individuals who on paper
 (or on the org chart) possess little authority-but instead
 possess pizzazz, drive, expertise and genuine caring for
 teammates and products? On the flip side, nonleaders
 in management may be formally anointed with all the
 perks and frills associated with high positions, but they
 have little influence on others, apart from their ability
 to extract minimal compliance to minimal standards.

Lesson 10
"Never let your ego get so close to your position that
 when your position goes, your ego goes with it."

Too often, change is stifled by people who cling to
 familiar turfs and job descriptions. One reason that
 even large organizations wither is that managers won't
 challenge old, comfortable ways of doing things. But
 real  leaders understand that, nowadays, every one of
 our jobs is becoming obsolete. The proper response is
 to obsolete our activities before someone else does.
 Effective leaders create a climate where peoples worth
 is determined by their willingness to learn new skills
 and grab new responsibilities, thus perpetually
 reinventing their jobs. The most important question in
 performance evaluation becomes not, "How well did
 you perform your job since the last time we met?" but,
 "How much did you change it?"

Lesson 11
"Fit no stereotypes. Don't chase the latest 
 fads. The situation dictates which
 approach best accomplishes the team's mission."

Flitting from fad to fad creates team confusion,
 reduces the leader's credibility and drains  
 organizational coffers. Blindly following a
 particular fad generates rigidity in thought and action.
 Sometimes speed to market is more important than
 total quality. Sometimes an unapologetic directive is
 more appropriate than participatory discussion. To
 quote Powell, some situations require the leader to
 hover closely; others require long, loose leashes. 
 Leaders honor their core values, but they are
 flexible in how they execute them. They understand
 that management techniques are not magic mantras but
 simply tools to be reached for at the right times.

Lesson 12
"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."

The ripple effect of a leader's enthusiasm and
 optimism is awesome. So is the impact of cynicism and
 pessimism. Leaders who whine and blame engender
 those same behaviors among their colleagues. I am not
 talking about stoically accepting organizational
 stupidity and performance incompetence with a "what,
 me worry?" smile. I am talking about a gung ho
 attitude that says "we can change things here, we can
 achieve awesome goals, we can be the best." Spare me
 the grim litany of the "realist;" give me the unrealistic
 aspirations of the optimist any day.

Lesson 13
"Powell's Rules for Picking People" Look for
 intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a
 capacity to anticipate, to see around corners.  Also
 look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a
 balanced ego and the drive to get things done.

How often do our recruitment and hiring processes
 tap into these  attributes?  More often than not, we 
 ignore them in favor of length of resume, degrees and
 prior titles. A string of job descriptions a recruit held
 yesterday seem to be more important than who one is
 today, what she can contribute tomorrow or how well
 his values mesh with those of the  organization. You
 can train a bright, willing novice in the fundamentals
 of your business fairly readily, but it's a lot harder to
 train someone to have integrity, judgment, energy,
 balance and the drive to get things done.  Good leaders
 stack the deck in their favor right in the recruitment

Lesson 14
(Borrowed by Powell from Michael Korda) "Great
 leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can
 cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a
 solution everybody can understand."

Effective leaders understand the KISS principle, or
 Keep It Simple, Stupid.  They articulate vivid,
 overarching goals and values, which they use to
 drive daily behaviors and choices among competing
 alternatives. Their visions and priorities are lean and
 compelling, not cluttered and buzzword-laden. Their
 decisions are crisp and clear, not tentative and
 ambiguous. They convey an unwavering firmness and
 consistency in their  actions, aligned with the picture of
 the future they paint. The result? Clarity of purpose,
 credibility of leadership, and integrity in organization.

Lesson 15
Part I "Use the formula P 40 to 70, in which P stands
 for the probability of success and the numbers indicate
 the percentage of information acquired."

Part II "Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range,
 go with your gut."

Powell's advice is, don't take action if you have only
 enough information to give you less than a 40 percent
 chance of being right, but don't wait until you have
 enough facts to be 100 percent sure, because by then it
 is almost always too late. His instinct is right. Today, 
 excessive delays in the name of information-gathering
 breeds "analysis paralysis." Procrastination in the name
 of reducing risk actually increases risk.

Lesson 16
"The commander in the field is always right and the
 rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise."

Too often, the reverse defines corporate culture. This
 is one of the main reasons why leaders like Ken
 Iverson of Nucor Steel, Percy Barnevik of Asea
 Brown Boveri, and Richard Branson of Virgin have
 kept their corporate staffs to a bare-bones minimum.
 (And I do mean minimum-how about fewer than 100
 central corporate staffers for global $30 billion-plus
 ABB? Or around 25 and 3 for multi-billion Nucor and
 Virgin, respectively?) Shift the power and the financial
 accountability to the folks who are bringing in the
 beans, not the ones who are counting or analyzing

Lesson 17
"Have fun in your command. Don't always run at a
 breakneck pace. Take leave when you've earned it.
 Spend time with your families." Corollary: "Surround
 yourself with people who take their work seriously,
 but not themselves, those who work hard and play

Herb Kelleher of Southwest Air and Anita Roddick
 of The Body Shop would agree.  Seek people who
 have some balance in their lives, who are fun to hang
 out with, who like to laugh (at themselves, too) and
 who have some non-job priorities which they approach
 with the same passion that they do their > work. Spare
 me the grim workaholic or the pompous pretentious
 "professional;" I'll help them find jobs with my

Lesson 18
"Command is lonely."

Harry Truman was right. Whether you're a CEO or
 the temporary head of a project team, the buck stops
 here. You can encourage participative management
 and bottom-up employee involvement but ultimately,
 the essence of leadership is the willingness to make the
 tough, unambiguous choices that will have an impact
 on the fate of the organization. I've seen too many
 non-leaders flinch from this responsibility. Even as you
 create an informal, open, collaborative corporate
 culture, prepare to be lonely.


From: Mike Franco (70) ~
Re: "Put Up or Shut Up" in Issue #40

I can't think of anything more refreshing than being
 lectured by a former close family friend on the state of
 our children by one who has none.....My intent here
 has always  been to discuss, debate and attack issues
 not each other. John, you have now done to me here
 what you did a while ago in person. Anyway, I will
 continue to read this once in a while but I will bow
 out. There is no "exchange" of ideas going on
 here....and this is not the first time this individual has
 felt it appropriate to use someone's 13 year old in the
 attack. See ya folks....this  "forum" no longer works
 for Mike Franco.    


Subj: Put Up or Think Up ~ Issue #40
From: Mike Pearson (74) ~

John Allen's bluster raises the topics of Logic and Good
 Government.  Both require arduous mental work, and
 both can be interrupted by hasty generalizations.  One
 who uses the term "Logic" would do well to be able
 to recognize common logical fallacies:  

1. An argument based on an over generalization (Dicto
2.  Hasty generalization:  Too few instances to support
 a generalization.
3.  After this, therefore because of this (Post Hoc, Ergo
 Proper Hoc)
4.  Appeal to sympathy instead of reason.  (Ad
5. False analogy:  ignoring context when situations are
 quite different.
6.  A concept with ideas which, upon closer attention,
 contradict one another.
7.  Starting with untruth or false information and
 drawing conclusions from it.
8.  Evaluating a whole system without considering its
 working parts.
9.  Loose connection between  established fact and the
 next idea (Non Sequitur)
10.  Attacking the person, not the ideas. (Argumentum
 Ad Hominem)
11.  Ignoring proportion and point of view in assessing
12.  Ignoring major material facts in favor of unproven
13.  Settling an issue by debate when persuasion rather
 than substance is emphasised.
14.  In settling matters not of agreement or law, it is
 illogical to choose merely the argument from
 temporary authority, whether or not claiming to
 represent a deity.
These fallacies are no excuse for smugness in either
 side in a discussion because what is at stake is our
 good future...or none.

                            Best Wishes,
                Mike Pearson - Class of 1974

From: Arthur Roberts (48) ~

             Pray for Peace.
             Pray for Love.
             Pray for a kinder, gentler John Allen


What did you talk about around the dinner table last
 night, at the coffee shop, or with the folks at work?
 Maybe you'd like to share it with us right here in
 The SANDBOX.  We're waiting to hear from you.

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