Power Differential

Simple requests are not simple where there is a power differential between requester and requestee. We understand that intuitively when we think about relationships with clear differences in power: parent/child, professor/undergrad, president/intern. But in an egalitarian, non-hierarchical organization like mine we can pretend that power differentials don’t exist. Anyone at all is welcome to sit... Continue Reading →

Corporate Values

If you glance at a dozen organizations’ corporate values statements you will see a lot of the same words: integrity, honesty, passion, creativity, excellence, caring. They are fine words, all of them. Who can argue against integrity, or take a stand against passion? But they are just ink on a 3 x 5 card handed... Continue Reading →


When I left for my vacation in Maine a couple of weeks ago I left a note on the white board outside my office: "On vacation in the woods. No wifi. So sorry." I didn't add "sorry not sorry," but I could have. I wasn't truly sorry at all, and if you accidentally on purpose... Continue Reading →


The skills-building workshop will be facilitated to enhance effective capacity strengthening and leverage existing resources to implement evidence-based initiatives. Have you read sentences like that before? Bet you have, and if you are anything like me you have probably written a few of them, too. This is awful writing, and not just because it is... Continue Reading →

Useless Skills

Yesterday my son and his friend found themselves heading over some Potomac river rapids that they weren’t prepared to handle. They were each in a little inflatable raft with a paddle when they hit a drop. My son bounced through okay, but his friend was tossed from his raft and for a breathtaking moment was... Continue Reading →

Feedback to Myself

Last year, after 20 years away from rowing, I bought a boat. It’s a 26 foot long needle of Kevlar and carbon fiber, less than 12 inches wide at the water line, and when it is rowed well it flies. That, however, is the problem: rowing it well is difficult, and rowing it badly is... Continue Reading →

Of Resilience and Sparrows

Two house sparrows have nested in the bird house in my backyard. They are raising their second set of chicks right now. The first set died in early May. I had been watching the parents’ attentive flights in and out of the birdhouse, and the funny little wide-beaked heads poking out waiting for their meals.... Continue Reading →


The frustrating thing about insight is its unpredictability. We all have flashes of insight, of understanding our challenges and their solutions, but those flashes are just that: lightning strikes that illuminate the page just long enough to read a phrase, but not long enough to take notes in the margins. And you certainly can’t plan... Continue Reading →

Its Not Easy

I was not a good student. In fact, I was a really rotten student from the time we moved from wooden blocks to books, and all the way up through high school. I couldn't read until second grade, and I spent third grade in the counselor's office taking weird test with colored blocks as they... Continue Reading →

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