The future of energy is both about the power of the rich (and the riches in the energy markets) as well as the dangers of certain energy sources. So it is about fundamental resources, ongoing innovation, economic risks and rewards as well as environmental and human costs. Continue reading The Future of Energy
What of the current projects generate which percentage of revenue now, and in the future? This question helps cut down on too many extraneous activities, to which I am prone. It all comes back to Drucker and knowing what should be done (and then getting that done). Like any healthy organization, my various projects are in states of transition. How to determine which projects gets what time? What skill set will be more valuable and make current and future projects more viable? Invest in these projects and skills development, dear reader. I say this to you, but am really saying this to myself. Hopefully one of us will listen.
There are many different kinds of tourism. Below is a smattering of them in a list. To be honest, tourism as an industry is not necessarily a great thing. That said, there are opportunities inside of the experiences... - Update: See this more complete list of the various kinds of tourism.
The Many Different Kinds of Tourism
- Culinary tourism
- Medical tourism
- Health tourism
- Language tourism
- Culture tourism
- Sports tourism
- Environmental tourism
- Responsible tourism
- Adventure tourism
- Sustainable tourism
- Volunteer tourism / Voluntourism
- Metropolitan tourism
- Amusement park tourism
- Shopping tourism
- Nature tourism
- National park tourism
- Volcano tourism
- Mountain climbing
- Maternity tourism
- Carbon neutral tourism
- Animal tourism
- Orphanage tourism
- Atrocity tourism
- Religious tourism
- Fitness tourism
2000 will soon be ten years old. Welcome to the new decade! (Yes folks, there is no year zero, therefore the calendar decade of the Gregorian calendar begins at year 1 and ends at year 10.) Ok, where have we been and where are what's next?
Retrospective and Foresight
Looking back cannot really show the future, but it can give some perspective of the variety of changes which can take place in a decade. We needn't rehearse the various changes in the world around us politically, economically, technologically, biologically, etc. Just a simple narrative of yours truly. That said, sometimes a longer perspective is needed than a mere 10 years. From what I can understand, my immigrant ancestor John McNeill (various spellings of the last name, good evidence he was illiterate) took place around 1725 and was due to the increases in rents in Northern Ireland at the time (spawning many a journey to new lands). It so happens that I have repeated this movement, from east to west, due to increasing rental prices (2008 from Honolulu, Hawaii, USA to Chiang Mai, Thailand).
The first year 2001
The first year of the last decade witnessed a newly minted masters' degree from the University of California at Berkeley, my alma mater for the undergraduate degree. This will turn out to be my highest degree, which is good as those with PhDs generally earn less than those who hold only a Masters. This year also saw 9/11 and the far-reaching ramifications. I traveled to India for my first significant visit outside of the country. A great discovery, namely that I love travel.
More Travels - Indonesia and Thailand
At the end of eight years of the decade I relocated to Thailand, so it was fitting that there were subsequent travels to Indonesia (twice in 2003) and Thailand (once in 2004). Sadly there was a lack of traveling between 2004 and 2008. Four long years of only inter-island travel (to Maui and the Big Island) and only for a few of those years. And not much else. This was a negative experience, the lack of travel.
Teaching at the University 2001-2009
For most of the decade I was teaching courses at the University of Hawaii. There were eight different courses (six of which were prepared from scratch) and a total of 26 sections. These included organizational communication, data networking, information systems, public relations, political communication, marketing and brand communication, as well as several independent and 2-3 person project-based courses. I was happy to explore the curriculum with the students and introduced them to Twitter and Second Life long before anyone else on the campus was doing so.
Leadership at the University of Hawaii
Two additional leadership experiences that I value and taught me many things more than what was in the classroom was the process of becoming and performing the role of president of the University of Hawaii Graduate Student Organization from 2003-2004. As president, we got an enormous amount accomplished and I learned about how the university works (and how it doesn't work) from the perspective of being on a number of committees at an institution of higher learning going through a lot of change. As treasurer of the Board of Publications from 2005-2006 I was witness to even more change, and resistance to change, and am grateful to have served and learned both from the successes and the failures.
Vancouver and Victoria, Canada
I spent three months from July through October in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I found it to be a very nice place, better in many ways from the nearby American Seattle and Washington State. Things there are less expensive, the people are less aggressive, and generally it is a nicer place to be. However, winter was coming and I experienced many days of five degree weather approaching the end of October.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
From Vancouver and Victoria to Chiang Mai (with one week in Bangkok) was a fantastic transition. Indeed, the plan at the time was to head to Viet Nam by way of Laos, but once I got to Chiang Mai, I sort of paused. It's been now 2 years since then and again, the theme of unpredictability of my life is underscored here. The first six months I continued to teach online at the University of Hawaii. At the same time I took a TEFL course and taught English for about eight months, beginning in February, 2009. In June I also started doing SEO and Internet marketing consulting, continuing my off-and-on-again IT consulting that I had done since 2000 (actually 1997). The real change took place in December, 2009 when my Thai business partner and I founded Lanna Innovation Co., Ltd. A year later and we have (mostly in our spare-time) built a company with three employees. We are on-track for profitability in 2011.
2011 / 2554 Upcoming Year
What comes next is largely a continuation of the present. A lot of work building the company, stabilizing it, and again, more travel (which I haven't actually done much of since arriving in Thailand 2008). I have several inexpensive Air Asia tickets that were purchased during a great sale, so Cambodia and Indonesia are definite possibilities. Laos may be a destination as well. Malaysia and Singapore are also on the table, but likely in 2012, and completely dependent on what we see as the biggest opportunity for the business.
Jeff McNeill in India, 2001
Upcoming Decade 2011-2020
Ah, now we are talking! This is the kind of conversation I like because the future, from the perspective of the present, is simply fraught with possibilities (as is the present). The future can be seen as the nexus of possibilities embedded within the present. So from here, all things are possible, and as before, completely unpredictable if seen as a straight-line trajectory. By all accounts, I certainly did not foresee this emigration to Thailand, but only later did it become possible and then actual. The same with the founding of the company. It turns out that there are many things in my past which are brought to bear on a present moment and makes choices both possible and successful. However there is no direct connection leading from the present to the future taken as a necessary determination. What might happen? Well, frankly, I've got no fucking clue.
Note on Futurology
Of course all of this talk is just that, but in a peculiar way. My life has not been predictable. Starting from the earliest years of life, many different paths presented themselves without forethought or much foresight. Even as I progressed and entered adulthood, seemingly good choices were more or less fortunate -- aka luck of the draw, nothing more. There was the time I applied to UC Santa Cruz for their writing program, and ended up being refused but awarded entry to UC Berkeley as I marked down them as a second choice at the last minute (knowing nothing about Berkeley). There was the time I was denied entrance to a PhD program at UC Berkeley but became a secretary for the CIO of a public company and within 2 years was learning network engineering and a year after took a job at three times my entry-level paid the three years previous. Then there is the time that, most recently, I was summarily ejected from the PhD program at the University of Hawaii and found myself founding a company within six months, in a foreign country (Thailand). No, there is little predictable about this life, however there can be opportunities identified and seized. So this thinking about the past (and a little about what may come) is helpful in the sense that there is a greater awareness of opportunity when it does arrive, usually disguised as some kind of failure. > Happy New Year!
According to Freire (2007) there are Five Archetypes of Organizational Culture. Naturally, these cultures are based on, developed and perpetuated by leadership. Those he names: - Customer-Centric - The Customer is everything - One-Team - Oneness is everything - Innovation - Learning is everything - Achievement - Getting the job done is everything - People-First - Our people are everything Now at first the One-Team and the People-First look suspiciously similar, however the former has the people sublimating themselves for the organization, and the latter has the opposite.
- CEO spends a lot of time with customers
- Effective listening is widespread
- Client issues are part of every meeting
- Top investments go to client initiatives
- Untrained staff never put in front of the customer
- People proudly share stories of exceeding customer expectation
- Customer feedback integrated into everyone's compensation
- Those closest to the customers know more about their needs than senior leadership
- Are you really a humble organization?
- Are you really a learning organization?
- Is the relationship based on trust and reliability?
- Is there arrogance and rejection of feedback?
- Willing to sub-optimize subsystem to optimize overall system
- Once agree on what is best for the firm, will follow decision
- Work is done by one group on behalf of the whole
- Remuneration encourages facilitating the work of others
- Reporting lines and structures recognize dual-citizenship
- Move people around through the organization to gain broader perspective
- Most people have good motives
- Generosity and sharing, trustworthiness, openness
- Not territorial or silo mentality
- Japanese style
- Experimentation, risk taking
- Experience is valued
- Resources given to Research and Development
- Lots of learning processes and meetings
- A lot of rigorous measurement focused on continuous improvement
- Curiosity, courage, openness, learning
- If it isn't broken, break it anyway
- Not risk averse
- Shoot for the stars
- We are not here to count the pens, we are here to change the world
- Culture of accountability
- Meritocracy, my word is my bond, truthfulness
- Bottom 10 % needs to go
- Clarity in communication of goal-setting
- Healthy confrontation when excuses for nonperformance are given
- Encouraging people to grow
- Give under-performers a second chance
- Symbols of lack of hierarchy
- A lot of training, workplace development
- Believe in diversity, opportunity, trust
- No distrust
- Find people the right place in the organization
Organizational Cultural Change is Hard
Organizational change is a huge undertaking, and in many cases simply falls short. I appreciate that Freire says it takes about two years to shift cultural focus of an organization. Also, though it really doesn't work well, Freire suggests it is possible to build all five cultures into a single organization. A well-rounded organizational culture is a fairly bland culture, but of course each of the types of organizational culture has elements that any decent organization should embrace. It is simply that one type needs to be primary. But how can leaders change or enhance Organizational Culture?
Leaders Send Messages through Actions
- How do you as a leader do things
- Distance between walk and talk
- What you do says what is important, role meeting
- How do you run meetings, how much time in meetings are spent focusing on customers, change, etc.
- Symbols are the calendar and the checkbook
- Time spent on things shows value
- Money spent on things shows value
- Who gets promoted, why, office space
- Role as storyteller, what are the stories? They show values
- Planning and budgeting process
- Compensating people based on achievement, learning, customer
- What are people rewarded for doing?
Hofstede and Dimensions of Organizational Culture
Freire has a nice set of cultural types but the idea that there are only five types doesn't get at the why, the actual dimensions of organizational culture, and how to measure it. For that, Geert Hofstede is the best source.1
I actually met Hofstede at the University of Hawaii in the mid 2000s. He had a connection with the university in the past, and on occasion would visit and give a lecture or two. He spoke at a seminar and was charming. I've also read in depth both Cultures' Consequences and his research on Organizational Culture and related publications. For a popularization of this academic research, see Cultures and Organizations: Software for the Mind. ↩