Remembering Warren Bennis isn’t enough. Read his books! DO what he says!

August 11, 2014

I come back from vacation, and no one tells me Warren Bennis passed on?

Why wasn’t that front page news, in every city with a corporation, a government, or a school?

Warren Bennis, in a publicity photo from the University of Southern California, the last of several academic institutions where he taught, or lead the entire school.

Warren Bennis, in a publicity photo from the University of Southern California, the last of several academic institutions where he taught, or lead the entire school.

We know why. Bennis, who some claim invented the study of leadership in the modern world, is too little read in corporations — and almost never read in government, and probably never read in education leadership.

Try this experiment, you teachers:  As you go back to school this month for the “in service” sessions that challenge your ability to stay awake, ask your principals and administrators what their favorite Warren Bennis book, or idea, is.  If you find one who knows who Warren Bennis was, will you send us that person’s name for a Wall of Honor here?

Bennis wrote too abstractly for many.  He was not one who would have ever thought about writing The One Minute Manager, not because there aren’t some good ideas in that book, but because he wrote to the higher levels of organizational thinking.  (Our good friend Perry W. Buffington used to point out in his lectures that you’d run from the waiting room if you heard your neurosurgeon was reading the One Minute Brain Surgeon.  Bennis would have put it more gracefully, and taken three pages to do it — but a serious reader would understand.)

With all the trouble we have in organizations these days, you’d think Bennis’s work would be on everybody’s bookshelf, and assigned to all incoming interns.

Hey, you MBAs:  What class did you read Bennis in?  Did you read Bennis at all?

Jena McGregor, who spoke with and corresponded with Bennis several times in the last decade, wrote a remembrance in the Washington Post:

Warren Bennis, who died Thursday in Los Angeles at age 89, was once called the “dean of leadership gurus,” a description that unfortunately stuck.

I say “unfortunately” because, for Bennis, there was never any kind of shtick. There was no silver bullet or four-box matrix or slide deck offering an oversimplified how-to guide to leadership. This giant among leadership experts — I take no exception to the “dean” part — was a thinker and an adviser, but not a guru. He wrote and talked about leadership as if the answers were still being shaped, even in his experienced mind.

He was a thoughtful, genuine, and always engaged man whom I came to know in these past eight years as a reporter covering management and leadership.

“I am as leery as anyone of the idea of leaping to conclusions, or making more of evidence than is demonstrably true,” Bennis wrote in his influential 1989 classic, On Becoming a Leader. “To an extent, leadership is like beauty: It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.”

For Bennis, leadership was a personal journey, something individual and introspective that must be learned through life’s experiences. He was a staunch believer that leaders are made not born, formed out of “crucible” moments and struggles that prepare them to lead. As he wrote in On Becoming a Leader — essential reading for anyone — leadership is about self-discovery and self-expression. “Before people can learn to lead, they must learn something about this strange new world.”

It may take me a few days to organize thoughts: Does it matter that he’s gone, if those who most need his work would never read it anyway?

Any guy who can look at a convention of high-paid CEOs and tell them that followers make them what they are, deserves much more than just a second thought.

What do others say?

(Note that the comments above came before news of Dr. Bennis’s death.)

We would expect David Gergen to know Bennis, and his work.

Larry Ferlazzo knows Bennis’s work?  But do Ferlazzo’s bosses know it?  There’s the question.

I once took a survey among teachers, and not one said they thought their principal would fight to defend them; it was a small survey, but it discouraged me from pursuing the question more.

 


Remembering Nagasaki, in 2014

August 9, 2014

A roundup of thoughts on Twitter and elsewhere.

From The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

At the end of the day, it can be worthwhile on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries to think about the personal and the emotional—while keeping such clinical data in mind and ready to hand when it is necessary to debate proponents of ideas such as “battlefield nuclear weapons,” “limited nuclear war,” and the use of select nuclear strikes as a form of “de-escalation.”

Therefore, perhaps the most compelling of the stories in the Bulletin archive is a first-person recollection, Hiroshima Memories, by Hideko Tamura Friedman, who was just a young girl back on August 6, 1945. After moving to the United States and becoming a therapist in private practice and a part-time social worker in the Radiation Oncology Department at the University of Chicago Hospitals, Hideko excerpted this 1995 article  from a longer, unpublished manuscript she was working on.

Hideko describes how she was reading a book when “a huge band of white light fell from the sky down to the trees.” She jumped up and hid behind a large pillar as an explosion shook the earth and pieces of the roof fell about her.

Hideko survived; some members of her family did not. “My father,” she wrote in in a heart-rending statement of fact, “brought Mama’s ashes home in his army handkerchief.”

Editor’s note: The Bulletin’s archives from 1945 to 1998, complete with the original covers and artwork, can be found here.  http://books.google.ca/books?id=-wsAAAAAMBAJ&source=gbs_all_issues_r&cad=1. Anything after 1998 can be found via the search engine on the Bulletin’s home page.

Even the cross was bent by the blast.


August 9, 1945, at Nagasaki: What we hope was last use of atomic weapons in war

August 9, 2014

Much has changed since I wrote most of the post, below, in 2009. The number of years, perhaps (and I’ve changed them in the text).  Not enough else.

The Obama Administration made some progress in getting Iran to the table to talk non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.   START was renewed.  But not much more.

We’re left with the hope that this was the last time atomic weapons are used.

Stars and Stripes posted this short video of the ceremonies held in 2011 in Peace Park in Nagasaki

21

Stars and Stripes said:

A memorial service was held at the Nagasaki Peace Park on Aug. 9, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city at the tail end of World War II. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from 44 countries – including an envoy from the United States – to honor the more than 155,000 people who were claimed by the bomb, including the 80,000 killed instantly.

The service came three days after one similar in Hiroshima, and marked the first time in history that an envoy from the United States attended both services.

In the wake of the March 11 disaster, Japanese officials called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and also for renewable sources of energy to replace nuclear power.

Below is mostly an encore post:

Nuclear anniversaries have been ignored again this year, it seems to me.

Ceremony in Nagasaki marked the remembrance of the victims of the second atomic weapon used in war, which was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Agence France Press reported (in 2009):

Nagasaki’s mayor, marking the 64th anniversary [66th in 2011] of his city’s atomic bombing by the United States, called on Sunday on the leaders of nuclear-armed powers to visit the site and build a nuclear-free world.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Tomihisa Tanoue urged world leaders from both declared nuclear powers and others such as Iran, Israel and North Korea to visit the city in southwestern Japan.

“I am sure anyone who visits here would feel the sorrow of the victims and be shaken by it,” the mayor said in an address at an annual ceremony commemorating the 1945 bombing.

A minute of silence was observed at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), when the US bomb exploded above the city, killing roughly 74,000 people. The bombing followed one a week before in Hiroshima and hastened Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Tanoue said an April speech by US President Barack Obama in Prague, where Obama pledged to build a world with no nuclear weapons, “impressed” the residents of Nagasaki.

“The Japanese government must support the Prague speech. As a nation that has come under nuclear attack, Japan must lead the international community” in abolishing the weapons, he said.

Similar appeals were made Thursday when Hiroshima marked the anniversary of its bombing, which killed 140,000 people.

At the Nagasaki ceremony, Prime Minister Taro Aso reiterated the Japanese government’s anti-nuclear stance, three weeks ahead of national elections that he is tipped to lose.

Aso raised eyebrows at the Hiroshima ceremony, when he pledged to work toward abolishing nuclear weapons but later told reporters that he thought it was “unimaginable” to attain a nuclear-free world.

Similar ceremonies, and similar pleas for nuclear non-proliferation marked the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported:

Some 50,000 people gathered Thursday at the peace park in Hiroshima to mourn the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered a peace declaration, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.

“The hibakusha still suffer a hell that continues,” said Akiba.

“The Japanese government should support hibakusha, including those who were victims of black rain and those who live overseas,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

“Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)”

It was reported Wednesday that the Japanese government aims to come to an agreement with all atomic bomb survivors who have sued the government for financial support to help them pay medical bills for illnesses related to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Akiba also said “The year 2020 is important as we want to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. We call on the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.”

Referring to the movements such as the environmentalists, Akibasaid, “Global democracy that respects the will of the world and respects the power of the people has begun to grow.”

“We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority. And we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes we can,” said the mayor.

On Wednesday, Akiba urged the people around the world to join the city’s efforts to abolish nuclear weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’ s appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons.

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima 64 years ago, killing nearly 100,000 people in a blink.

This in a week when two burgeoning new nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea, continue to claim they will flout non-proliferation agreements for their own self defense. [Still true in 2014, alas.]

The question obtains on nuclear issues as well as genocides: When does “never again” start?

It’s up to you and me.  What have you done to make “never again” with atomic weapons, start now?

Other related posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


“Earth’s not warming; it’s dying”

August 8, 2014

From the same designer who brought us INY; would this graphic design symbol get people more properly concerned?

Designer Milton Glaser suggests a logo for discussions on global warming . . .

Designer Milton Glaser suggests a logo for discussions on global warming . . .

Designer Milton Glaser created this logo; he’s serious, according to Salon, today.

Milton Glaser is famous for uniting New Yorkers under the simple, iconic “I Heart New York” logo. (He also designed the label for Brooklyn Brewery and, as I learned on a recent tour, had the good sense to emphasize the beer’s borough of origin back before it was cool.) Now, at age 85, he’s out to rebrand the climate movement. The pitch: a hazy black circle with just a small band of green (read: Earth), which people can purchase and wear as a button. In a poster hung on the exterior of the New York School of Visual Arts‘ East 23rd Street building, the logo is accompanied by the slogan “It’s not warming, it’s dying.”

The obvious problem, right off the bat, is that Earth is warming: It’s done so rapidly over the 20th century, and is expected to continue at an even faster rate over the next 100 years. The world’s governments agreed that we should try to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to try to avoid the worst consequences of that warming, yet we’re on track to blow right past that limit. While Glaser obviously agrees that this is a problem, the slogan obscures that point. And as someone attuned to the world of climate deniers, I can’t help thinking that getting the hashtag #itsnotwarming to go viral might not have the intended effect.

(Also, as Fast Co.Exist points out, it’s not the planet that’s at risk of dying — it’s us.)

But those are technicalities. Glaser told WNYC’s Brain Lehrer that his problem with the word “warming” is that it “sounds reassuring and comforting.” So if your complaint is that the slogan sounds overly pessimistic, well, that’s kind of the point. “Either Earth is dying or it’s beginning to grow again,” Glaser explained. “My preference would be that it was beginning to grow again, but for the moment I have no evidence of that.”

More at Salon.

What do you think?  A good idea?  Better indicator of a more appropriate message?

(Yes, Fast Co.Exist is right — remember this cartoon?)


Remembering Hiroshima on August 6, 2014

August 6, 2014

A few notes from Twitter.


August 6: Hiroshima atomic bomb, 69 years ago today

August 6, 2014

[Still true, from last year, with minor edits.]

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan Wikipedia image

As a Utah Downwinder, I fight depressing ideas every August 6, and August 9.

The first atomic bomb used in war was dropped by my nation on August 6, 1945.  The second, on August 9.  Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, were the targets.

I know the arguments, both ways.  I feel certain my Uncle Leo B. Stewart’s life was saved by the bombs — and the lives of probably two or three million more Americans, and five or ten million Japanese.  And still I am troubled.

I’m troubled that there seems to be so little attention paid to the anniversary in the U.S.  Year by year, it gets tougher to get news out of remembrance ceremonies in Japan.  Here are some Twitter notes on the day.  I may be back with more, later.

This comes from a pseudo-Truman, but it’s an accurate reflection of the angst Truman went through; once he made the decision, he did not have doubts that it was the right one.

Fortunately, in 68 years since, no other nuclear device has ever been used in war. May we have a planet that never sees their use in war, again.

More:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


“Damn the torpedoes” at 150: Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864

August 5, 2014

Julius O. Davidson's painting (published by Louis Prang) of the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

Julius O. Davidson’s painting (published by Louis Prang) of the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

It was 150 years ago today:  Especially with the excellent help of Tom Petty, whose 1979 album “Damn the Torpedoes” propelled him to stardom, the phrase “Damn the torpedoes!” remains one of the most used phrases out of history.

Just try to find someone who can tell you who first said it, and what the circumstances were. It’s a sign that history instruction is not what it should be on some matters.

August 5 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, when the Union Navy under the command of Admiral David Farragut took Mobile from Confederate forces.

U.S. Heritage Protection Services — a division of the National Park Service — gives a straight up, unemotional description of the fight, which was a key victory for the Union, shutting down much of the Confederacy’s ability to trade with foreign nations and supply its army:

Photograph from circa 1855-1865 of then-Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, the commander of the Union forces at the Battle of Mobile Bay, and the man to who is attributed the famous line,

Photograph from circa 1855-1865 of then-Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, the commander of the Union forces at the Battle of Mobile Bay, and the man to who is attributed the famous line, “Damn the Torpedoes!”

Other Names: Passing of Forts Morgan and Gaines

Location: Mobile County and Baldwin County

Campaign: Operations in Mobile Bay (1864)

Date(s): August 2-23, 1864

Principal Commanders: Adm. David G. Farragut and Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger [US]; Adm. Franklin Buchanan and Brig. Gen. Richard L. Page [CS]

Forces Engaged: Farragut’s Fleet (14 wooden ships and 4 monitors) and U.S. army forces near Mobile [US]; Buchanan’s Flotilla (3 gunboats and an ironclad), Fort Morgan Garrison, Fort Gaines Garrison, and Fort Powell Garrison [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 1,822 (US 322; CS 1,500)

Description: A combined Union force initiated operations to close Mobile Bay to blockade running. Some Union forces landed on Dauphin Island and laid siege to Fort Gaines. On August 5, Farragut’s Union fleet of eighteen ships entered Mobile Bay and received a devastating fire from Forts Gaines and Morgan and other points.  After passing the forts, Farragut forced the Confederate naval forces, under Adm. Franklin Buchanan, to surrender, which effectively closed Mobile Bay. By August 23, Fort Morgan, the last big holdout, fell, shutting down the port. The city, however, remained uncaptured.

Results(s): Union victory

World War I recruiting poster showing Admiral David Farragut lashed to the mast of his ship, and offering the quote for which Farragut is famous.

World War I recruiting poster showing Admiral David Farragut lashed to the mast of his ship, and offering the quote for which Farragut is famous. Image from the collection of the Library of Congress, via Wikipedia

Nota bene:

  • Was Farragut lashed to the rigging? Wikipedia’s listing:An anecdote of the battle that has some dramatic interest has it that Farragut was lashed to the mast during the passage of Fort Morgan. The image it brings to mind is of absolute resolve: if his ship were to be sunk in the battle, he would go down with her. The truth is more prosaic; while he was indeed lashed to the rigging of the mainmast, it was a precautionary move rather than an act of defiance. It came about after the battle had opened and smoke from the guns had clouded the air. In order to get a better view of the action, Farragut climbed into Hartford‘s rigging, and soon was high enough that a fall would certainly incapacitate him and could have killed him. Seeing this, Captain Drayton sent a seaman aloft with a piece of line to secure the admiral. He demurred, saying, “Never mind, I am all right,” but the sailor obeyed his captain’s orders, tying one end of the line to a forward shroud, then around the admiral and to the after shroud.[50]Later, when CSS Tennessee made her unsupported attack on the Federal fleet, Farragut climbed into the mizzen rigging. Still concerned for his safety, Captain Drayton had Flag-Lieutenant J. Crittenden Watson tie him to the rigging again.[51] Thus, the admiral had been tied to the rigging twice in the course of the battle.
  • Did Farragut actually say, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead?  Mobile Bay had been mined by the Confederates, to hold off exactly the sort of Union attack Farragut mounted. Mines, in that time, were known as “torpedoes,” not the underwater-missiles made famous by World War II movies.  Farragut had an iron-clad ship, Tecumseh, under his command leading the attack; legend holds that other ships slowed to allow Tecumseh to cross them and move ahead.  Farragut asked why the attack was slowing, and upon hearing that they feared torpedoes (mines), he later was reputed to have said “Damn the torpedoes,” and urged moving at all speed.  Did he say, “full speed ahead?”  Accounts differ on that, even in legend.  In one version he shouted to the ship Brooklyn, “Go ahead!”  That’s unlikely in the din of sailing, coupled with the din of battle.  Another account has him shouting (vainly) to the Hartford, “Four bells, Captain Drayton.”  Yet another version, that almost makes sense, has him shouting to the Metacomet, which was lashed to the Hartford’s side, “Go ahead, Jouett, full speed.”  The entire quote must be listed as attributed, and the only part most versions agree on is “Damn the torpedoes.”  A World War I recruiting poster probably inscribed the quote into history (see the poster in this post).  Alas, Tecumseh hit a torpedo early in the battle, and sank, killing most of its crew.
  • Political importance:  Coupled with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman‘s March Across Georgia, and the Fall of Atlanta, the Battle of Mobile Bay gave credence to the idea that the fortunes of the Civil War had turned in the Union’s favor.  This victory probably contributed greatly to the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln against opponents who urged simply ending the war without victory.
  • Mobile Bay was an important port? Mobile Bay stands as a monument to poor soil conservation practices, today.  Maps of the battle show a much larger bay than exists today; since 1864, silting from the river has filled in the bay, making it much less useful, and much less important to shipping.
H. H. Lloyd & Co's 1861 map of Mobile Bay, Alabama

1861 map of Mobile Bay: “H.H. Lloyd & Co’s Campaign Military Charts Showing The Principal Strategic Places Of Interest. Engraved Expressly To Meet A Public Want During The Present War. Compiled From Official Data By Egbert L. Viele, Military and Civil Engineer; and Charles Haskins. Published Under The Auspices Of The American Geographical And Statistical Society. Entered … 1861 by H.H. Lloyd & Co. H.H. Lloyd & Co’s Military Charts. Sixteen Maps On One Sheet.”

LandSat image of Mobile Bay, from NASA, 2003 (via Wikipedia)

LandSat image of Mobile Bay, from NASA, 2003 (via Wikipedia).  The Northern Bay is almost completely silted in by the Mobile River and others.

Whether Admiral David G. Farragut actually said, “Damn the torpedoes!” the phrase remains an often-used quotation to urge action in the face of uncertainty, hopefully, to victory.  Farragut’s forces won the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, a key maritime battle of the Civil War.  Whatever he said, it must have been inspiring.

What torpedoes are you damning today?

More:

This is an encore post.

This is an annual event. Much of this is an encore post.


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