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All Blog Posts (112)

Consumed to Death?

While driving home today I listened to a NPR story about the recent collapse of Wisconsin’s paper industry under the twin squeeze of iPAD and China. For all the talk of paperless society, the demand for paper today has never been higher. Wisconsin has been the capital of American paper making for more than a century due to its abundance of natural resources in rivers, which generate hydraulic power, and hard wood forests that are needed as the raw material of high (book) quality paper. China…

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Added by Yan Song on January 7, 2013 at 2:37am — No Comments

To Be Happy (in 2013 and ever after)

Wish everyone a very happy New Year! 

 

Introduction

To be happy is to be alive; to be alive is to be part of reality; to be part of reality is to be more conscious; to be more conscious is to be more creative.

 

To Be Happy

Above all, we human beings want to be happy. I don’t believe in a higher goal than that. The only question is how? I grew up in China during the era of the Cultural Revolution. The individual freedom was so utterly…

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Added by Yan Song on December 30, 2012 at 11:38pm — No Comments

Why do some people focus on U-Technique rather than see it as a mode of enquiry and action?

Yan,

First of all I should apologise as my real intent was to respond to one of your blogs. Not understanding ning has led me to this page (;-)

You questioned why some people seem to see Theory U as a method or technique and limit themselves within the boundaries all techniques have, particularly with respect to context. I think the answer is easy to spot. Many people learn Theory U to have a tool they can sell in the market place.

Few question why many people, including…

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Added by Roy Woodhead on November 12, 2012 at 5:55pm — 1 Comment

Inspirations at the Bottom of the U

The stunning simplicity and beauty of Theory U can sometimes be a double-edged sword: a powerful tool of social transformation in the hands of a skillful practitioner or an intimidating intellectual toy out of touch with everyday reality. What makes the difference? One of the main drivers, I believe, is an adequate understanding of the context of its applications. Far too often people are drawn and rush into the intricacies of its techniques or methods, unaware of and unprepared for the…

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Added by Yan Song on November 10, 2012 at 12:30pm — 2 Comments

与‘边走边唱‘的同学共勉 ---- 大学毕业三十周年聚会有感

I just came back from China today after participating in a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of our college graduation (1982-2012). I wrote the following reflections in Chinese to share with my college classmates, most of whom could not read English.

 

非常感谢景堂和欣宁为大家创造了这样好的一个叙旧共勉的机会。见到熟悉的笑容带着岁月的痕迹感到无比的亲切。听老同学诉说三十年来的故事,无论成功还是坎坷,都有一种浓浓的心心相印的感觉。当年豪情万丈的迈出校园,踏上希望和幸福的旅途。如今相聚在一起分享着三十年的耕耘和收获既是一种浪漫更是一种追求。人生永远是现实和理想挣扎之中的交响曲。我们既为过去的精彩片段而拍手叫绝更为未来的更加壮丽的乐章而激动。人生是有限的;…

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Added by Yan Song on October 8, 2012 at 11:28pm — No Comments

Is More IQ the Right Prescription for the Mitt Romney Campaign?

By picking Paul Ryan as his presidential running mate, Mitt Romney has dramatically increased the stakes and risks of his chances for winning the White House this fall. Is this a smart move for Romney and the country? I doubt it.

 

There is no question that Paul Ryan brings powerful ideas to the table for the big problems facing the nation and the world, something of a rarity among world leaders these days which have contributed and are contributing to the deepening economic…

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Added by Yan Song on August 13, 2012 at 12:15am — No Comments

A Matter of Trust and Purpose

In his management master piece, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, Patrick Lencioni provides a vivid description of the organizational dynamics, culminating in the well known pyramid model of team performance. According to this model, everything starts with trust: only with mutual trust could a team of specialized knowledge experts engage in substantive and constructive conflicts of different ideas; only after such honest and thorough debates and conflicts could the team be expected to…

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Added by Yan Song on July 27, 2012 at 12:00am — No Comments

A Masterful Stroke Earns America a Second Chance

The supreme-court decision this week to uphold individual mandate of healthcare and limit federal power to expand Medicaid is a masterful stroke of historical proportions. It’s a masterful stroke because

(1)   It did not cave in to either political extreme – striking it down without an alternative by the conservatives or expanding entitlement out of control by the liberals

(2)   It did not ‘seek a non-existent middle ground, blend black and white to make gray’ as this week’s…

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Added by Yan Song on July 4, 2012 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

What Can We Learn from Chief Justice Roberts?

Real business is messy, full of conflicting interests and powerful adversaries. We saw such dynamics playing out on the national stage over the healthcare issue. If we are honest with ourselves and take the time to reflect on what’s going on inside our own organizations, the same social dynamics dominate our decisions, relationships and, eventually, competiveness. I often hear people complain about the lack of leadership or empowerment from their bosses but rarely reflect on themselves. In…

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Added by Yan Song on July 4, 2012 at 12:00am — No Comments

Visions of Arcadia – Past and Present

That’s the name of the current art exhibition at Philadelphia Museum of Arts. From the earliest days of human civilization, people have searched for ways of achieving harmony with nature, in the face of seemingly irreconcilable contradictions of life: birth and death, love and hatred, peace and violence, etc. No wonder, such possibility has been a central scene of artists through the ages. What’s interesting is how different ages articulate and paint such ideals differently: some were under…

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Added by Yan Song on July 2, 2012 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Rocketing Out Of The Human Cultural Trap

Spirituality is arguably the most ambiguous and misunderstood concept of all that have been created by the human mind. What most people are not even aware of is the default assumptions that have been given to and implanted in them with their other mothers’ milk when they were born. What is truth or reality? Clarity to such basic questions are necessary stepping stones to an understanding and experience of the true meaning and spirituality of life, individually and collectively. Far too…

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Added by Yan Song on June 26, 2012 at 9:56pm — No Comments

Human Freedom from Dragons and Lions - Overcoming Political Fiefdoms in Organizations

The ‘Economist’ published an editorial last week on innovation in China. It made the point that deeper political reform is necessary for the Chinese economy to graduate from ‘brawn to brain’. As long as the Communist Party and its prince lings continue its political monopoly, pick winners and losers in key industries (banking, energy, communications, etc.), it would be impossible for indigenous or foreign entrepreneurs to feel secure enough to risk their investments on innovative ideas that…

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Added by Yan Song on March 18, 2012 at 1:43pm — 1 Comment

Haclav Havel and the Blind Spot of Leadership

“It is the worst in us which is being systematically activated and enlarged – egotism, hypocrisy, indifference, cowardice, fear, resignation, and the desire to escape every personal responsibility”

 

Any idea who said that in what context? It could very well have been said of any bureaucracy anywhere in any age (e.g., a fortune 100 company or a government agency in the US today). It was written by the just deceased former Czech President, Haclav Havel, to the communist leader…

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Added by Yan Song on January 5, 2012 at 12:00am — 1 Comment

From Total Quality to Total Flow

According to legend, Edward Deming was disappointed by how the Total Quality movement ended up - misunderstood, poorly applied and eventually forgotten. Nowadays, Positive Psychology seems to have taken its place as the New Enlightenment movement. In a way, it's following a natural course of human development: a rebellion against an overly mechanistic interpretation of 'quality' to emphasize the primary importance of the implementer of whatever is meant by 'quality'. I have a feeling though…

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Added by Yan Song on August 28, 2011 at 12:34am — 5 Comments

Mindless Actions & Actionless Minds - Where do you spend your time?

Systems Thinking in Action…

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Added by Yan Song on July 14, 2011 at 12:00am — No Comments

Reviving the Republic – The Spirit

I have become convinced that entitlement has become such a huge problem in the US and developed countries in general, only a strong doze of the republican virtues on which the United States was founded could revive us and usher in a new era of prosperity for ourselves and our children.

 

No, it won’t come from the Republican Party, at least in its current form of radicalism. Republicans are just as guilty as the Democrats for creating the entitlement mess in the first place. In…

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Added by Yan Song on May 14, 2011 at 5:18pm — No Comments

Democracy in Crises and What to Do About It

The leadership vacuum continues in American politics. By ‘officially’ declaring loyalty to political partisanship above liberty as he did in his speech on April 13, President Obama in effect relinquished his role as commander in chief of the great American experiment in democracy: sustain innovation and advance human culture against despotism and ignorance. This is not the audacity of hope that many of us expected from him when we voted him into the White House in 2008.

 

I…

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Added by Yan Song on April 17, 2011 at 11:43pm — 1 Comment

The Future Has No Union

With these words David Brooks of New York Times characterized the current debates on and steps taken to address the national budget crises:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/opinion/01brooks.html?_r=1&ref=davidbrooks

 

The entitlement programs for retirees and seniors are overwhelmingly responsible for the budget deficits at both the federal and state levels. Yet,…

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Added by Yan Song on March 7, 2011 at 7:43pm — No Comments

The Experience Economy Being Caught with Its Pants Down

The New York Time columnist, David Brooks, wrote a column a couple of weeks ago titled “The Experience Economy”:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/opinion/15brooks.html?ref=davidbrooks

 

David correctly diagnosed the key challenge that the American economy faces: it has moved away from its industrial core of electricity, plastics and cars – exporting them to developing nations…

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Added by Yan Song on February 27, 2011 at 6:00pm — 3 Comments

Grow Up, Mr. President

In his State of the Union speech on Jan 25, President Obama behaved as he used to in his more youthful years as a community organizer, attempting to improve the lives of the poor by taking some fat off the rich. The trouble is that he is no longer a community organizer and there are no longer fat cats in his new neighborhood other than the United States Treasury. This is a clear example of the limitations of what I call “protestive” progressiveness, seeking social equality by re-distributive…

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Added by Yan Song on January 29, 2011 at 12:00am — No Comments

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