Monthly Archives: December 2011

Reflecting on the Best Book I read in 2011 – THAT USED TO BE US

That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Frieman and Michael Mandelbaum (2011) was the book that made the biggest impression on me this year.

I see this book to be an honest analysis of the America we are living in.  Further, my read of the book is that it present a reasonable message about America’s possible future.

Here are eleven links to posts I wrote this year stimulated by this thought provoking book.  I hope the posts lead more people to read the book and benefit form the learning it can stimulate.  Enjoy!

Collectively we need to act in the interest of our countries common good!

America simply doesn’t have time anymore for exhausting any options other than the right ones

We must invest in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as open our society more widely to talented immigrants

It depends on us . . . are we ready to transform our educational focus?

There are two types of workers in our economy: creators and servers.  Forget blue-collar and white-collar.

Do you believe that America has fallen behind in the world it created?

I don’t think this is fair to our children

Elegant thinkers and effective collaborators

The Opportunities to Build Community and a Brighter Future are Available – And it Will  Require Courage to Actualize those Opportunities

How can getting better at thinking ever be a bad idea?

Reframing our thinking is the beginning









Reflecting on 2011 – Appreciative Inquiry was, and still is, on my mind!

For some time now and certainly for the past year, I have been convinced that individuals and groups of people can effectively bring about positive change by following the basic tenets of Appreciative Inquiry.  The basic approach of appreciating what is and then dreaming about what might followed by making a plan to fulfill the dream and then act in ways that can move you or the group closer to the dream makes a ton of sense to me.

Here are links to six of my posts from over the last year that are in some way related to Appreciative Inquiry. Hopefully,they may provide some food for thought an action. Enjoy!

One of the 5 Principals of Appreciative Inquiry is the Constructionist Principal

The Principal of Simultaneity is another basic principal of appreciative Inquiry 

Appreciation and Celebration – two activities when sincere, that are healthy positive forces

Are we facing our challenges or embracing our opportunities?

People and Groups Benefiting – or not – from Conversations

Getting Results with appreciative Inquiry and Positive Power


The Holidays – A Time for Conversations and Being Together

The holidays are times when families get together.  What a great time to share, reminisce and dream together. Here are some ideas to consider. 

Have a conversation with a family member or close friend to acknowledge the love and support your have received from him/her.

Have a conversation with family members reminiscing about past holidays, when they or you were young and/or about a family tradition and how it started.

Have conversations with a family member or an old friend to talk about the times you are grateful he/she was in your life.

Share with your family your hopes and dreams for the future and ask them to do the same.

Take turns remembering and sharing funny family (from vacations, working together, meals, projects, etc.)  stories. 

Holidays are a great time to just past time together with loved one working on a jigsaw puzzle, playing board games or cooking together.  

May you enjoy your holidays.


Cherry Christmas from Michigan


From my point of view, cherries are one of Michigan’s most extraordinary fruits.  Here are some Cherry Fun Facts:

  • Today, in Michigan, there are almost 4 million cherry trees which annually produce 150 to 200 pounds of tart cherries.
  • Michigan grows 75 percent of the US crop of tart cherries, and about 20 percent of sweet cherries
  • Cherries have no fat and are low in sodium and calories.
  • Eating about 20 tart cherries a day could reduce inflammatory pain and headache pain.
  • There are about 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree (the number varies depending on the age of the tree, weather and growing conditions). It takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry pie, so each tree could produce enough cherries for 28 pies!
  • The World Record for spitting a cherry pit is now 100 feet 4 inches, held by “young gun” Krauss, son of 10 time record holder “pellet gun” Krause
  • It takes 100 cherries to produce an 8 oz. glass of cherry juice 
  • Michigan cherry wine is made primarily from Montmorency cherries
  • Peninsula Cellars in Traverse City produces a white cherry wine, made from the Emperor Francis cherry
  • The same chemicals that give tart cherries their color may relieve pain better than aspirin and ibuprofen in humans.
  • Cherries with the stems attached will stay fresh longer
  • Cherries were brought to America by early settlers in the 1600s. Cherry trees, in fact, were part of the gardens of French settlers when they established Detroit 

The last fact is: The average U.S. citizen consumes about one pound of tart cherries per year. That is more than 260 million pounds per year.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Homeless Students

Jeff Seidel, in Sunday’s (December 18, 2011) Detroit Free Press writes the first in a four part series on homeless students in Michigan.

Yes, homeless students!  I think it is much more likely that we think of of tattered, uneducated, maybe mentally ill men when we think of the homeless. Not children!

Seidel writes, “Like a silent epidemic, the number of homeless children in Michigan schools is growing.

In the 2010-11 school year, more than 31,000 homeless students attended school — 8,500 more than in the previous school year, a 37% spike attributed to the weak economy, loss of jobs and the foreclosure crisis. Overall, the number of homeless students in Michigan has jumped more than 300% in the last four years. Most experts say those numbers are low because many parents are embarrassed to admit they are homeless. And many school districts lack the resources to identify these kids, as required by federal law.”

This is a serious problem.  Michigan must address our economy, our safety net, and develop our willingness and ability to think together to tackle this problem of the homeless and poverty!

Seidel reports. “Poverty among the state’s children has already grown from 19.4% in 2007, when the economic downturn began, to 23.5% in 2010.”

That is one in four of Michigan’s youth living in poverty.  Poverty is an obvious driver in the issue of homelessness.

It is time to become involved and work toward a day in the very near future that Michigan dramtically reduces poverty and homelessness.  


Organizational Development – Quote Bank

1. Today many of us need to define, and redefine the meaning of community. When I ask the question: What is community? Most people answer by immediately recalling a geographical location, a place where they once lived. However, as I have come to understand over the years and through listening to others, the full concept of community is much bigger, with consequences far beyond the place where we first experienced the touch of others in our lives.—Clifton Taulbert Eight Habits of the Heart

2. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you; But of a good leader, who talks little, When his work is done, his aims fulfilled, They will all say, “We did this ourselves.”—Lao Tzu

3. My responsibility, our responsibility as lucky Americans, is to try to give back to this country as much as it has given us, as we continue our American journey together.”—Colin Powell

4. I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.—Ralph Nader

5. As a net is made up of a series of ties, so everything in this world is connected by a series of ties. If anyone thinks that the mesh of a net is an independent, isolated thing, he is mistaken. It is called a net because it is made up of a series of interconnected meshes, and each mesh has its place and responsibility in relation to other meshes.—Buddha

6. It is amazing how much people can get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit.—Sandra Swinney

7. It is better to have one person working with you, than three working for you.—Unknown

8. Leadership has a harder job to do than just choose sides. It must bring sides together.—Jesse Jackson

9. Leadership is getting people to work for you when they are not obligated.—Fred Smith

10. Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.—Tom Landry

11. Listening leaders make listeners. Leaders are most known by the questions they consistently ask.—Terry Paulson

12. Look at a man the way that he is, he only becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what he could be, and then he becomes what he should be.—Goethe

13. No executive has ever suffered because his subordinates were strong and effective.—Peter Drucker

14. No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or to get all the credit for doing it.—Andrew Carnegie

15. When one builds people, a good community will emerge, one that will leave its imprint beyond the classroom, beyond the gym, beyond our offices, and, in some cases, beyond geographical boundaries.—Clifton Taulbert Eight Habits of the Heart


Organizational Development – Quote Bank 3

1.    The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.—Roger Enrico

2.    I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.—Larry Bossidy

3.    Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger.—Bill Bradley

4.    Leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who promise more than they can deliver.—Mark A. Clement

5.    There are few, if any, jobs in which ability alone is sufficient. Needed, also, are loyalty, sincerity, enthusiasm and team play.—William B. Given, Jr.

6.    If you want people to work together effectively, let them play together.—Michael Begeman

7.    The first order of business is to build a group of people who, under the influence of the institution, grow taller and become healthier, stronger more autonomous.  – Robert K. Greenleaf

8.    We are reluctant to let go of the belief that if I am to care for something I must control it.  – Peter Block

9.    One need ask only one question: “What for?” What am I to unify my being for?  The reply is: Not for my own sake.  – Martin Buber

10.    In times of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.  The learned find themselves equipped to live in a word that no longer exists.  – Eric Hoffer

11.    Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.  – Peter Drucker12.    When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.—Dale Carnegie