Another 5 Star Review for “Light and Transient Causes”

The following review was posted by a reader at www.amazon.com :

Light and Transient Causes takes a futuristic look at the United States in a worst case scenario: crippling social unrest, unthinkable terrorist acts and an imploding American economy. As citizens elect a leader promising a return to civility, the 50 states are placed under martial law. Two anti-government citizen groups in Indianapolis, ReGenesis and the Resistance band together in protest. What transpires is a bloody government response to the rebellion.

I was fascinated by the book and fearful at the same time. The author incorporated all the domestic and international issues facing the country and placed them on a collision course. It’s chilling in the sense that it’s all possible in the world we live in today. Awesome read!

Build Strength and Independence Not Weakness and Dependence!

Whenever I give positive leadership seminars there are a number of recurring questions. One of the most common is “How do I get my people to accept responsibility for getting things done when I can’t be there to watch over them?” I love this question because its answer addresses some of the most common mistakes of managers and supervisors, irrespective of venue.

The answer to this seemingly inevitable questions is, simply, “If you want people to accept responsibility when you are away, teach them to accept responsibility when you are there.”

Many leaders are surprised to learn that they create dependencies as a result of their leadership approach. Our objective as leaders should always be to develop a staff of men and women who are strong and independent rather than weak and dependent. One of the ways to accomplish this objective is to teach and coach rather than to tell and do.

When issues arise in the midst of the game, when the pressure of time is upon us, it is easy for leaders to step in and solve problems and take action. In doing this we have, indeed, resolved the issue but we have, unwittingly, taught the lesson that only managers and supervisors cans solve problems, resolve issues, take action, and make things happen. The result, of course, is that the next time an issue arises, people stop and wait for their manager or supervisor to swoop in with a solution.

What positive leaders do, on the other hand, is teach their people how to solve problems and take action on their own. This can be accomplished only if we have created an environment in which people are expected to take initiative and in which there are minimal fears of making mistakes.

This approach is just another facet of delegating to people. Remember that the absolute best leaders are nearly invisible because they are seldom required to get involved in routine operational problem-solving. This is also one of the reasons why the best leaders are the most creative and innovative. They spend their time looking for opportunities to expand the boundaries of conventional wisdom.

The best leaders also spend significant chunks of their time giving support and feedback to their people. They are committed to the ongoing development of each of their employees. It is amazing how easy it becomes for people to respond positively to constructive feedback and to rise to ever-increasing expectations when they have come to view their supervisor as a coach and mentor rather than as a critic and task master. When people have also been given opportunities to learn new skills, gain new experiences, and are invited to participate routinely in the innovation process, true magic begins to happen.

Powerful positive leaders not only preside over a team of people who accept responsibility on their own but they also have men and women who look relentlessly for continuous improvement opportunities without being asked or prompted. Such expectations and the resulting behavior have become internalized as part of the culture.

One of the other managerial/supervisory behaviors that contribute to creating dependencies is the preservation of one’s own stature as the most skilled, knowledgeable, and competent person in the department.

Most supervisors are promoted, after all, on the basis of their technical competency. As soon as you are appointed to a leadership role, however, the supervisor’s purpose shifts. As a leader, our job is to help each of our people become the most knowledgeable, competent, and productive people of which they are capable. When some of those individual’s have surpassed the competency of their supervisors, then leadership excellence has been achieved.

Remember that, as a leader, your job is not to demonstrate how great you are rather it is to teach your people how great they can be.

Consequences of our Action: No One to Blame but Ourselves

Imagine that you are an employer and economic conditions have required you to cut back wherever possible. Some of you reading this won’t have to try very hard to imagine such a scenario.

Imagine how your employees would feel if your response to the need for belt-tightening was to freeze wage rates or possibly even cut wages and benefits. On the benefit side, imagine that you dropped health insurance coverage for your employees and their families and that you suspended all travel and training programs, much of which had been offered to help your employees qualify for opportunities for advancement within you company.

It is reasonable to expect that your employees would be disappointed, at the very least, and we can be certain that some would be angry and resentful. During hard times, however, people understand that sacrifices must be made and the majority of your people would not lose their trust and respect for their employer or for you and your leadership.

Now, let us add a new variable to the equation. Let us assume that the members of the management team have not been asked to make corresponding sacrifices, even in this difficult economy. Imagine, in fact, that your management team is still eligible for the same salary increases and bonuses that were common when times were good. Imagine also, that the management team got to keep their executive health package and that they routinely attend training programs, seminars, and conferences in many locations around the U.S. and the world.
How would these factors affect the morale of your employees not to mention their loyalty to their company and its leadership team? Would they still be willing to endure the sacrifices they have been asked to make? Would they still be committed to the long-term best interests of your organization?

We all know, at least at an intellectual level, that such decisions on the part of management would have huge consequences with respect to their ongoing relationship with their people. No doubt many would begin looking for new opportunities.

Now, let us take a step back and think about the current reality about the way the federal government, particularly Congress and the executive branch, treat the American people at the low end of the economic continuum.

Whether these Americans are minimally employed, unemployed, on welfare or disability, depend on Medicaid or Medicare, or are on a fixed retirement income that depends almost totally on Social Security; every time the government feels the need to reduce spending it is the people in this group that are asked to take the hit. How do you think these people feel when Congress refuses to even consider asking the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes.

These Americans cannot get decent healthcare for their families, ObamaCare not with-standing, while they read about the extravagant health plan that Congress creates for themselves and their families. They also read that virtually every other developed nation on the planet considers healthcare to be a right of citizenship and provides comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs for their people.
In the interim the poor, the unemployed, and the underemployed citizens of what is considered to be the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world are asked to believe in an American dream that is little more than illusion to them.

These people are told to take advantage of the opportunities of this great nation and that an education is the ticket to the American dream. What these American know to be true is that getting a good education is a myth when they are asked to send their kids off to public schools that have embarrassing failure rates and that seem to chew their children up and spit them out.

As a result, these Americans no longer believe in the American dream and they no longer teach their children that the dream exists. Neither do they teach their children that getting an education is important and something for which they should work hard and make sacrifices. Not surprisingly, the children of these Americans arrive at their first day of school with precious little motivation to learn and are poorly prepared to succeed. Rather than accept responsibility as a partner with their children’s teachers and principals for the educational success of their children, these mothers and fathers look at school as a form of free day care that keeps the kids out of the house for eight hours a day, five days a week.

They see an educational process that is focused on failure. When their children struggle to understand their lessons, rather than take extra time to make sure their kids understand, they see their children pushed prematurely from one lesson to the next by teachers who do not seem to care. The result is that their children fall further and further behind until they are so hopelessly lost that they give up on themselves. They begin to lose all hope that they can catch up with their classmates and they learn quickly that the surest way not to suffer the humiliation of failure is to avoid participation. The rest of us sit back in indignation, clueless to the dynamics of this reality.

The parents of these children understand what their children are feeling because it is the very same thing they felt when they were still in school. As a result they refuse to cooperate with their children’s teachers because they view those teachers as adversaries and as tellers of lies; as so-called professionals who simply cannot be trusted to do what is best for their children.

As this cycle of failure repeats itself semester after semester and year after year, why do we seem surprised that these children grow up and give birth to a whole new generation of children who are reared in an atmosphere of hopelessness and powerlessness.

Other Americans become frustrated with these people because they rarely exercise their right to vote and seem unwilling to accept the responsibilities of citizenship. We cannot quite comprehend that these Americans feel this way because they have absolutely no faith that their voices make a difference. As a result these men and women are effectively disenfranchised. They feel hopeless and powerless to control the outcomes in their own lives and in the lives of their children.

The rest of us point the finger at these Americans, never fully comprehending that the reality in which these Americans live and endure is one that exists solely as a consequence of our own actions; of the decisions and policies of people who view themselves as leaders of the free world.

As we have pointed out in earlier posts, we are fast approaching a tipping point in which mainstream Americans can no longer bear the weight of the poor, the uneducated, the hopeless, the powerless, and the disenfranchised. As we sit by in our blissful ignorance and self-righteousness, that tipping point is rushing at us at the speed of desperation.

Light and Transient Causes by Mel Hawkins, “. . . best book I’ve read this year.”

Official Review: Light and Transient Causes by Mel Hawkins
Post Number:#1 Postby Bookworm_82 » 11 Sep 2013, 20:44

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Light and Transient Causes" by Mel Hawkins.]

“Light and Transient Causes” is a fiction book of about 360 pages in length. It comes across as a thriller, however I found myself unable to put it down. The best book I have read this year. I was riveted by the way all the actors were introduced and woven into the story without falling short of any details or suspense. Absolutely, hands down, knock your off your socks book to keep you wanting to read more.

The book is set in “present day” plus a few years, the author chooses to open the book in 202x, with the “x” being up to the readers imagination. The U.S. Government has begun to cleanse the American population of minority races. Indianapolis is chosen as a test project by the newly installed “Military Governor of Indiana,” and the action begins right from the beginning of the book all the way to the last sentence. The scary thing was the references to present day people (President Obama) and the events that have taken place (Invasion of Iraq, Policy on Israel, etc.) to make me feel like this “could” happen, but felt good knowing that it was fiction.

If I had to improve one thing, it would be plot development. The book starts medium paced, however, it wasn’t clear why certain actors and scenes were introduced, because as the book went along, they never fully developed. It wasn’t until midway through the book did I realize that the focus was on the “battle of Indianapolis” which took up the majority of the action. The author could have cut out the beginning portion and focuses specifically on the battle scenes.

If you want to read a thriller that has a lot of battle scenes straight out of a war novel, than I would recommend this book. I give the book 4 out of 4 stars. It is worth reading for both fiction and non-fiction readers. I am more of a non-fiction, war novel type reader, so that is why I feel this book was so good. I have read many war novels that fell short with the battle scenes; this book was right on the money.

If there was one thing that I would change, it would be the title of the book. “Light and Transient Causes” should be re-titled something with a modern day revolution twist to it. I would recommend something like, “The War Within,” but no matter the title it is a great book!

***
Buy “Light and Transient Causes” on Amazon

The Kids Are at their Games Again!

Yes, we all know we need to get people off of Food Stamps!

Yes, even though it is the law of the land we know the Affordable Care Act, affectionately or not so affectionately known as ObamaCare, is a bad solution that will only make the system worse and drive up costs because of its reliance on the health insurance industry.

But, why do we continue to play the same games. Rather than put our heads together in recognition that our country is in trouble and because we need to find some new solutions that will actually work, we play like two kids on the beach who cannot get along. Rather than build something beautiful, together, we devote all of our energy to tearing down the other guy or gal’s sand castle.

On the beach, the only consequence of such child’s play is that parents have a source of frustrated amusement that Bob and Sally can’t play together.

In the real world, at the seats of power of the United States of America, such games hurt people who can least afford to be hurt and bring us no closer to meaningful solutions.

When we use ObamaCare as leverage to try to win budget concessions in an attempt to reduce federal spending, we create a stalemate that will eventually lead to a government shut down or sequester that will take money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans and benefits away from the unfortunate who have no way to make up the difference.
Of greater long-term consequence is the fact that such stalemates and painful cuts only deepen the resentment of the disenfranchised who have already become embittered; they are citizens who no longer believe in the American dream and who have become hopeless, and feel powerless to change the outcomes in their lives.

As long as this population of the disenfranchised continues to grow, the burden that must be carried by the rest of us will only grow with no end in sight. Somehow, rather than push them further away from mainstream America we need, desperately, to find a way to pull these people back in as productive citizens who can help us face the challenges of an uncertain and rather frightening future.

When are we going to find positive leaders who can find a way to set aside their differences and work together to find solutions to the enormously difficult challenges confronting us? When will someone say “enough!” and begin working to pull people to the table to do the important work of our government?

Our elected officials in both the executive and legislative branches of our government have become trapped in their daily work that they have forgotten to step back and look at the panorama. The only thing they know is attack and destroy what their opponents want to accomplish and to remain committed to fruitless process of incremental change in dealing with monumental challenges; challenges that cannot be overcome incrementally.

For those of you who are reading these words, you are not powerless. Provide some positive leadership and begin expressing you concerns directly to your elected officials. Tell them what you think. Just as importantly, encourage the people you know to roll up their sleeves and share in the work.

The clock is ticking and when the tipping point is reached there will be no second chances.

America: A Leadership Crisis of Great Urgency!

During the recent crisis with Syria, the Russian government as stepped up to offer a solution. What was most interesting was that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, chided the U.S., in response to a statement by President Obama, noting that “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

However much we might resent Putin’s audacity to say such a thing, maybe we need to stop and think about the possibility that he could be correct.

Any illusions we might have had regarding the invulnerability of the United States as the richest and most powerful nation in the world were surely shattered in the wake of Standard and Poor’s decision to downgrade our nation’s credit rating in 2011. Our inability to dictate our political and military will in the Middle East and the blatant hatred demonstrated by the people who have attacked our Embassies are examples of a recurring theme that challenges our nation’s belief in itself as somehow special.

Maybe it is time for the American people to step back and take stock of who we are and how rate when compared to other developed and developing nations in the world.

The U.S. national debt is measured in trillions of dollars, with China, the single greatest challenge to our economic supremacy, our largest creditor. Our ability to compete in the world marketplace over the next half-century is dependent on the quality of the American workforce, which, itself, is powered by the American educational system. According to The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the U.S. ranks 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading out of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.[1] That China ranks first in all three areas should strike fear, if not outright panic, in every American heart.

We are in the midst of a crisis of historic proportions in which our way of life as a people is in jeopardy. It is a crisis that cries out for positive leadership and yet our elected leaders in Washington stomp around like spoiled and stubborn children who have yet to learn how to work and play with others.

The challenges facing our nation and its people are immense. Whether our burdensome debt; an economy that is only a shadow of its former self; a natural environment that seems to be stumbling under the weight of a burgeoning population that fouls the very air that we breathe and the water we drink; a system of public education that is laden with failure; a health care system that fails to meet the needs of nearly a full third of its citizens, we place our future in jeopardy unless we meet these challenges.

We use oil, a diminishing natural resource, to fuel our demand for energy even though the future will belong to the first nation to develop reliable, alternate sources of energy whether solar, hydrogen, or nuclear fusion. Worse, we are dependent on foreign suppliers of oil that are friendly to us only as long as we are able to pay.

We are a people who have forgotten that the historical strength of our democracy has always been our rich diversity as a people living together, in harmony, under the rule of law. Today we govern ourselves with a two-party system in which loyal opposition has given way to enmity and distrust to such an extent that each side feels the other is out to destroy America.

We must understand that the problems of the Twenty-first Century are of such magnitude that the politics of the past are no longer adequate to meet our needs. We must find fresh solutions that satisfy the needs of the masses on the one hand and that foster a strong economy on the other. We need the kind of leadership that will demand that its people replace a rampant entitlement mentality with an abundance mentality centered on the belief that there is enough for everyone as long as each citizen is willing to give one hundred percent of themselves through hard work and participatory citizenship.

We need leadership that understands that we cannot preserve our nation’s status as the richest and most powerful nation in the world just because we think it is our right and privilege.

We are like a baseball or football team that has been in first place for so long we have forgotten what it took to rise to the top and we have become complacent. Right now, people of other nations, with China and Russia leading the way, are working hard to challenge our nation’s status. Just as importantly, the children of China and other nations are working hard to gain what they believe is an educational advantage that will seal the deal for their people and economy in the Twenty-first Century and beyond. That they are outperforming American children by a wide margin is simply unacceptable and we must answer the bell.

It is unreasonable to think that one nation will be able to dominate the future the way America has dominated the past but if we want a place at the head table, we have to elevate our game. To do so, we must reunite as a people and demand the best from ourselves, from our fellow Americans, from our children, and from our political leadership. We can ill afford to waste a minute let alone a generation.

Stand up, toe the mark, and get moving while we can still see the coat tails of our competitors. We need positive leadership and it must start with each and every one of us. That means me and it means you!

ObamaCare Approval Rating Continues to Fall

Over the last few months there have seen and heard numerous reports that the public’s approval rating for ObamaCare, more appropriately referred to as the Affordable Care Act, has been falling steadily and now rests well below forty percent.

This should come as no surprise. Attempting to fix the American healthcare system by relying on the health insurance industry is like trying to fix Congress by making it easier for people to get re-elected.

The best we can say about the Affordable Care Act is that it was a nice try but one that was doomed to fail because its design was driven more by political considerations than by an understanding of how the healthcare system actually works. All ObamaCare really accomplished was to add another layer of complexity to a system that was already unimaginably complicated.

Until we are ready to acknowledge that health insurance is one of the biggest reasons why our healthcare system fails and, of course, that human beings actually deserve medical care when they are ill or injured, our tinkering with the healthcare system will only make it worse.
Focus on health insurance, if you will. Imagine for just a moment that we all could agree that there ought to be a way to see that all men, women, and children have access to health care when they need it.

Now, think about what health insurance actually does. The health insurance industry restricts access to care to only those people who are covered by a health insurance policy and it limits care to only those services that are specifically covered by that policy.
Assuming, again, that we want everyone to have access to healthcare, why would we be willing to pay the health insurance industry hundreds of billions of dollars to restrict care to a special few individuals and to limit care to only services that have been specifically identified?

And, yes, I’ve heard the argument that we over-estimate the amount of money siphoned off by the health insurance industry. Just the opposite is true. We grossly underestimate the degree to which the health insurance industry contributes to the rising cost of healthcare. The cost of health insurance is not just the result of that portion of our premium dollars that are retained by the health insurance industry after payment of claims to providers.

The cost of health insurance also includes every dollar that is spent by doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, out-patient surgery centers, rehab facilities, lab and imaging centers, home health care providers, and hospice providers to manage the process of filing insurance claims and fighting to get the paid what they are rightly owed.

We could also add the expenditures by employers as they manage the process of selecting health insurance or managed care providers, managing the enrollment process, and mediating grievances when their employees are unfairly reimbursed for care.

And, we could factor in how much the health insurance industry pays to influence legislators. And then, of course, there is Medicare and Medicaid.

If we could recoup every healthcare dollar expended by people like you and me, and also by our employers, that does not end up in the hands of actual providers of care we could afford to provide comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs to every American man, woman, and child.

And, if you want “to hear the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say, take a look at my book, Radical Surgery: Reconstructing the American Health Care System Continue reading

Act Now and Save $15 Trillion ($15,000,000,000,000)

Let us forget, for just a moment, the debate about the Affordable Care Act or, as most of us would call it, the Obamacare Act, and focus, instead, on the issue of providing universal healthcare (translated to mean comprehensive healthcare for all American citizens and legal aliens).
No matter how we feel about Obamacare, we certainly would agree that the Affordable Care Act will not provide access to healthcare for every single American. The absolute most the Affordable Care Act will do is to make it easier for more Americans to purchase health insurance coverage. There also seem to be few illusions that Obamacare is going to cost less than what healthcare in America cost before implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Many will suggest that it will, in fact, cost more than what we have spent in years past.
The real question we should be asking, however, is “why are we unable to provide comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs to every single American Citizen and legal alien?” In other words, why are we unable to provide universal healthcare?
For the moment, I want to forget about all of the altruistic reasons as to why the richest and most powerful nation in the world should have a healthcare system that meets the needs of all Americans, like virtually every other developed nation? I want to forget about these things because no one really seems to care.
We seem more concerned with rejecting the concept of socialized medicine than we care about all of the men, women, and children in the United States who are unable to gain access to and afford the medical care they require.
The fact is that the vast majority of Americans are unable to distinguish between the concepts of universal healthcare and socialized medicine. These to concepts are, in the minds of these people, synonymous. I suggest to you that it is this inability to differentiate the concept of universal healthcare and socialized medicine that is at the root of the entire problems with the American healthcare system.
Since no one seems to care about the suffering that so many Americans are made to endure, let us focus on the one issue about which everyone seems to care and that is the cost of health care in America.
From 2001 through 2011, the total annual healthcare expenditures of the U.S. grew from $1.2 Trillion to $2.8 Trillion. This represents an average increase of 8.8 percent per year. If that trend continues from 2012 to 2022, our annual healthcare expenditures will increase from $2.8 Trillion in 2011 to just under $7.1 Trillion in 2022. For the eleven calendar-year period from the end of 2011 until the end of 2022, we will have spent just under $56 Trillion on healthcare. Mind boggling, is it not?
In 2001, I wrote a book entitled, Radical Surgery: Reconstructing the American Health Care System, in which I proposed a healthcare solution that would provide universal healthcare without socialized medicine. In other words, I wrote that we could provide comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs to all Americans and legal aliens without relying on government. Let me say it differently in order to alleviate any confusion. I proposed a way in which we could give every American access to whatever healthcare they required but that would involve neither federal nor state government in the healthcare delivery or decision-making process.
One of the features of this new system was a mechanism that would allow us to control the increases in the cost of care so that costs would rise no faster than increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). At that time I projected that the CPI would grow at a rate of 5 percent per year. At that rate, I suggested that healthcare expenditures would have risen to $1.86 Trillion by 2010. Had we been able to hold the increase in annual healthcare costs to 5 percent per year we would have saved an aggregate amount of $3 Trillion over the ten year period. Pretty significant savings, wouldn’t you say?
In fact, the actuall CPI growth during that same period was an average of 2.7 percent per year. Had we been able to control the rise in healthcare expenditures to actual inflation rates, costs would have grown only to $1.55 Trillion resulting in an aggregate savings over the decade of just under $4.5 Trillion. Even more impressive, don’t you think.
Now, let us assume that the actual rate of increase in healthcare costs between now and 2022 would remain the same as the previous ten year period (8.8 percent). In that case healthcare costs will rise to a staggering $7.086 Trillion by the end of 2022.
If, however, we were to implement the healthcare proposal presented in Radical Surgery: Reconstructing the American Health Care System, and inflation would continue to increase at the rate of 2.7 percent per year as it did over the last decade, our annual healthcare expenditures would rise to only $3.9 Trillion. Under this scenario, the aggregate saving in healthcare costs over the ten year period from 2013 to 2022, compared with the projected 8.8 percent per year increase, would be $14.9 Trillion dollars.
Forget altruism, just give me the money!
The question for the reader is a simple one. Can the American people afford to spend an extra $15 Trillion over the next decade for a healthcare system that will continue to leave a significant percentage of the American population with inadequate access to healthcare?

Tsunami of Challenges in the Twenty-first Century

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, North Korea, and now Syria! The international crises seem to be flying at us like a swarm of bees while, at home, the U.S. struggles to maintain its unity and cohesiveness as a democratic society. Simultaneously, the dynamics of the world marketplace are making it more and more difficult for the U.S. to compete.

We should have no illusions that these are anything other than the leading edge of a political, economic, environmental and cultural tsunami that will sweep the globe in this Twenty-first Century. This new century will challenge the U.S. as it has never been challenged since the Civil War, and our lack of preparedness will place the very future of United States and our way of life in grave jeopardy.

Just as we must think exponentially to find new solutions for the cultural, political, economic and ecological challenges on the domestic stage we must also find new solutions for the crises on the international level. We need solutions that will unite the world’s developed and developing nations rather than worn out strategies from the past that divide even our most loyal allies.

These challenges on both the domestic and international arena pose a danger to the U.S. that is every bit as menacing as World War II. Somehow we must come together as a people, across all spectrums of our society and in all of our diversity in the face of this unprecedented danger, much like we came together in the face of the Axis powers of the Great War.

We now look back at those times and we have anointed the people of the 1940s as the Greatest Generation. Somehow Americans of the early Twenty-first Century must rise to an even higher level of greatness. If we fail to do so, the future that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will face will be a time of great suffering and tragedy and there will be no way for them to undo the damage we have done.

Exponential Thinking

How do you teach yourself and your people to think exponentially? Exponential thinking is often referred to as “thinking outside the box” or “creative thinking”. While the phrase “thinking outside the box” has become cliché, the activity of expanding one’s paradigms and thinking creatively is a critical skill that powerful, positive leaders rely on to manage their organizations and to make a difference in their personal lives and community.

We live in a multi-dimensional, interdependent world in which events about which we may be unaware or that seem disconnected to us still impact our lives and businesses. The most effective leaders are tuned into the world around them, fully aware of the interdependencies. These men and women recognize how easy it becomes for people who are immersed in their daily work activity to lose sight of events taking place around them.

“Systems Thinking,” a term used by Peter Senge in his best-selling book, The Fifth Discipline , teaches us how to step back to a point from which we can examine our world, our lives, and our organizations as an integral whole. This perspective enables us not only to see the broad forces that influence our activity but also to see how what we do influences the whole in ways that may not be apparent to us. Under a systems thinking approach we are able to examine our basic assumptions about the world in which we live and work and about why we do the things we do the way we do them.

What all organizations must do is to periodically stop and re-examine where they are going and how far they have come. Is our mission still important? Are our goals and objectives still appropriate given the changes that have taken place in our industry, in our supply chain, or in our world in general? Have any of the things that have changed in our environment also altered the needs of our customers? That such changes, unnoticed, can have a devastating impact on a business organization’s future is bad enough. Just as importantly, these changes often create new opportunities for the alert and the innovative.

Creating an organization in which all members are engaged in a learning process, and in which they are encouraged to develop and share new ideas can pay enormous dividends. Senge refers to such entities as “learning organizations.” Many quality systems have been designed to function as an integrated part of the production process in order to facilitate continuous improvement. Only a special few, however, actually make the effort and investment to teach people how to think exponentially and then reward them for sharing.

What we have learned is that continuous improvement is insufficient for the dynamic world in which we live and do business. What is needed is “relentless improvement” in an environment in which people at all levels of the organization have been taught to accept responsibility for exceeding the customer’s expectations. Acceptance of such responsibility is the purest form of positive leadership. Most organizations are blessed with a small number of individuals who are natural leaders, irrespective of their titles and formal authority. The challenge of executive leaders who wish to infuse their organizations with positive leadership and exponential thinking requires, first, that those executives are, themselves, positive leaders and, second, that they make a relentless commitment to developing the leadership skills of their people.

Positive leadership is more than just a skill that people with titles keep tucked away in their portfolios. Positive leadership is a craft that must be practiced daily and one of the tools utilized by such craftspersons is exponential thinking. In one organization with which I was involve, we encouraged exponential thinking by including what we then called “continuous improvement” as one of the criteria by which employees at all levels of the organization were evaluated in the company’s “integrated performance management system” One of the best ways to build creativity into your organization is to be creative in developing ways to encourage, celebrate, and reward exponential thinking on the part of your people.