pyramid to dna

brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns

My name is Bob Embry

Experience and experiences (circa 2003):

Time-Life Navigation Qualifications
Empty radar screens
Recent experiences
Nashville mission statements

Time-Life Navigation Qualifications (organization involvement and exploration)

By spending time with these pages and its external links you're getting access to over 20 years of full time organization evolution exploratory work—in a very broad, non-linear sense—and my work in over 60 different organization settings and over 40 different kinds of work assignments in the military (USAF, some NASA support work), university (Vanderbilt Medical School), Fortune 200 corporate headquarters (a mix of consulting and unique project work), manufacturing, design/marketing (mostly apparel), and retail environments.

This exploratory work emerged from my general management corporate restructuring work , reflecting on the experiences of these organizations and some financial investing homework that lead me to Forbes, Ben Graham and then Warren Buffett . It also lead me to conclude that the real investment work is not financial investment. See "their holdings in this one enterprise, plus later-organized affiliates" in the Postscript to Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor (1973).

In retrospect, this exploratory work has been an attempt to acquire an overall view and an organization evolution work approach in a world moving toward unimagined futures . I put my money, time, and life where my mouth used to be. It is very easy to be critical, to see what's wrong in the world and be opinionated. It is much harder to be constructive.

I wouldn't have done this work if I could have found it pre-packaged — an educational offering. In fact, almost all of the published material has been published since I began my exploration.

Furthermore the elements (software, computers, and widely available Internet access) involved in your viewing this have just relatively recently come into being. These elements create new foundations for more unimagined futures rather than answers .

Empty Radar Screens

I'm almost 60 years old. Before I was twenty-five, I held a full colonel's job in the USAF—Vietnam War—and have worked with executives in over 60 organizations. I've worked with major NYC bankers, Wall Street lawyers and investment bankers. I've been reading from a broad range of sources (recent) for over 35 years, I've traveled extensively in the US and lived abroad, I try to keep my eyes open, and nobody (outside of Peter Drucker) has ever come close to mentioning the unfolding reality that's right in front of them and presented in this site. Tom Peters purposely not included.

No one I met during these years had a clue. They were (probably still are) blind to the evolving content, structure, and power relationships of the world around them in spite of everything that happened to them.

The work in each of these organizations centered around OPERATIONS and PROBLEM SOLVING. Neither of these will get us into the future or result in meaningful organization evolution.

No one I hear talking in the media seems to know that organization evolution is the core of economic and social development because effective organizations deliver the developments! In fact the members of the media seem to resent the very sources of the standard of living in the developed world.

Everybody seems to be focused on what they think is the here and now (which is actually the "struggling soon" and sinking shortly thereafer) and seem to believe that their tomorrow will be similar to today and magically take care of itself.

How can this misdirection of vision and effort enhance the personal common good?

Recent experiences:

Between June 1998 and January 2001, I contacted approximately 60 CEOs, human resource directors and people in training and development work in the Nashville area and not one of them RECOGNIZED the term organization evolution or a description of it (see mental patterns); understood the importance—impact on their/our lives—or seemed to realize the time dimensions and realities involved..

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the people I've contacted seemed to think that today is already being adequately handled and that tomorrow is going to be taken care by operating, departmental work and they can wait until there are signs of trouble before being concerned. In other words, they can wait until they are least financially capable of handling the situation—see pages 31, column 2 (Wal-mart's impact), 38 (Marks & Spenser plus Lucent Technologies), 44 (travel agents), 47 (DaimlerChrysler), 55 (Xerox) and 57 (Levi) in examples from the news . If it ain't broke, don't fix it ????

Quite a few seem to think that emulating apparently successful organizations—remember In Search of Excellence—is the road to their own success and that the success will be permanent. Apparently they don't digest what can be seen in the daily news—see above.

Many of the troubled organizations that we learn about in the national and global news—see examples from the news—are companies with all the apparent right stuff. Companies such as IBM (prior to Louis Gerstner ), Sears, or Levi Strauss. They had plenty of money; smart, talented people; all the popular activities such as marketing, strategic planning, quality, human resources, executive development; plenty of MBAs and Ph.D.'s; and the assistance of some of the top consulting firms.

Side bar: Part of the problem involves the over-reliance on financial statements which don't give enough of an early warning—if any—to tell that something different needs to be done, what that could be, or when to start.

A substantial number of the companies I've contacted were already in financial trouble, but their described remedies have their roots in pre-1950s or even pre-1920s management mental patterns.

Mission statements in the Nashville Business Journal:

On page 20 of the September 1999 Business Nashville magazine there are nine local views on the importance of mission statements ( sample mission statements ). It might be interesting to compare these with the Drucker Foundation guidance .

It might also be revealing to compare them to the views expressed in the "a sense of direction," "a sense of discovery," and "a sense of destiny" sections of chapter 6, Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad.

This variation in meaning and conceptual vision (mental patterns) can be found in quite a few other areas such as strategy, strategic planning, marketing, quality, innovation, growth, and entrepreneurship. People seem to have a tendency to make the definition fit whatever they happen to be doing. This practice doesn't result in constructive organization evolution nor does it create new, world class management mental patterns.

Having an effective understanding of the mission concept is only part of that aspect of world class management mental patterns. The really important part is the VERY DIFFICULT thinking that goes into it. The serious consideration of the alternatives—both easy and difficult ones. This consideration is what creates understanding. It is intimacy with one's broad terrain and social ecology.

The result of these misunderstandings have an impact on our futures and our children's futures in multiple ways


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



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