Sailing in an Agile Ship with Vision and Knowledge to Guide You

By Brian Lucas

Dedicated to Joseph P. Wisdo (1951-2013) Colleague, Friend and Humanitarian

“Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.” – Carl Schurz 

Since the early 1980s, many organizations suffered wild swings between a starboard of success and a port of failure[1]; others sailed a steady if variable course one leg at a time[2].  Like well-run ships, they steered successfully avoiding the shoals and sandbars of social, economic and turbulent business change, as wealth and production began to migrate to newly industrializing economies abroad.  We must accept the fact that rapid change is a constant companion with us today.  If your enterprise is not agile enough to respond to the change, it won’t survive.  Persistent vision along with consistent leadership are the guides needed in an agile enterprise to keep it safely on course to success and knowledge is the key to being operationally effective.

First let’s talk about some of the aspects of change.  There are many waves in the ocean of change that we are being subjected to such as social, environmental, economic and technology.  For example, the rapid changes in computing technology alone were present since the 1980s and still are rampant today[3].  This single factor alone has had a dramatic influence.  In many ways, though this change has been astounding, it is not unpredictable as we see in Moore’s Law[4].  Personal computing has exploded since it’s birth. The IBM 5150, the first model of the IBM PC, was released in 1981.  Following on its footsteps, the Commodore 64, had sales of more than 17 million units in 1982–1994.  The Macintosh 128K, the first commercially successful personal computer to use a graphical user interface, was introduced in 1984[5].

Now we have technology like laptops that use special turbo boosts and sport high-end clocks at 3.0GHz with Intel i7 Core processors[6].  A single laptop like this has almost 70,000 times more computing power than the computers that were used aboard the Apollo mission spacecrafts which operated at only 0.043MHz and had a paltry 64Kbyte of memory[7].  Pundits are now predicting that even this technology is archaic, and talk about 2013 as the end of the laptop[8].

While change is essential to growth, it doesn’t mean you are a piece of flotsam adrift on a wild economic sea.  You need the guidance of a strategic vision and the consistency of leadership to implement it[9].  How do you develop a realistic vision for your enterprise?  You simply answer the question: “What will your company be known for and how will the public judge you?”  Your vision should cover what your organization values.  Values motivate everything in an organization by incubating culture.  Cultures drive policies and priorities and provide a framework in which decisions are made.  They also paint a picture of how the business wants the world in which it operates to be.

A vision’s focus is on the future, a destination that is never actually achieved[10], only steered towards.  It is the inspiration that causes employees to want to do their best.  The vision must cover beliefs that are shared amongst all the stakeholders of an organization.  All good visions have two components that are shining stars to navigate by.  The first is the concept of mutual success for employees and clients as well as the business.  The second is an unflagging commitment to ethics and quality.  We have seen some drastic failures and even implosions from people[11] and companies[12] who have lost their way because they did not have these values as their strategic guides.

From the meltdown of Enron[13] to the lapses at Toyota[14] many companies of all sizes have run aground.  Even whole industries like the automotive[15] and financial[16] industries suffered almost complete failure.  Some claim this was due to the mismanagement of executives.  Yet these very same people are often lionized as business high flyers and economic geniuses[17].  Yet others[18], piloted[19] by fiscal prudence, sailed through these waters seeming unscathed by the sharp corals of change that gutted so many other large seemingly unsinkable businesses.  The benefits of managerial agility must be balanced by strategic vision if you actually intend to arrive at a destination.  How many organizations during the internet boom could have survived had they followed these principles?  This is a very important concept and something too many businesses forget.   There is some contention that only a small organization can be agile[20], yet this is an inherent aspect of politics rather than size.

Regardless of size, your organization should be a lean[21] one with a low management contingent.  Wages and salary costs for management, professional and other related items were 69.5% in 2012[22].  That’s far too much for an agile organization.  A good rule of thumb is, if you draw a line through your organization’s compensation costs separating management from the rest of the work force and your management costs are greater than 20% you are not empowering or engaging your employees.  The bottom line is you are not agile.  Your ship, regardless of size, must be lean in order to be a nimble and agile one.

There are also some significant advantages in being nimble to keeping your enterprise in the private sector or to taking it back there, if it has gone public.  It interesting to note that at this time even some very large companies in the information technology market, like Dell[23], are looking to return to their privatization roots.  You do need a certain critical mass to tackle large projects or technically sophisticated endeavors.  You can achieve this, however, by means of a virtual corporation instead of a single brick and mortar company loaded with hierarchy and bureaucracy.

Now let’s talk about the importance of knowledge.  While you must remain nimble you also need to know how to respond quickly and directly to a client’s changing needs.  This is a knowledge centric era of today, where it is all about having the right person in the right place at the right time doing the right thing[24].  That requires ubiquitous knowledge and organizational fluidity.  For businesses that operate in the higher strata of knowledge working, it is even more important for your future to also build a level of both sophisticated and raw intellectual power, that is unbounded by political hypocrisy and organizational hierarchy.

What is the “knowledge centric era[25]”?  The answer once again goes back to the internet’s infancy.  For the last 30 years the information services and technology business has strived to evolve its knowledge.  Information Technology has advanced as much as or more so than any other industry in our history.  This quest for knowledge was a splendid example of feedback.  It serendipitously drove the quest for knowledge itself, namely via the internet[26].  Ah the wondrous internet… let’s take a step back once again to the early 1980s when I first started working in business.  Back in 1982, the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was standardized on and the world-wide network of fully interconnected networks called the Internet emerged.

ARPANET[27], the world-wide web’s father, was expanded in 1981 when the National Science Foundation (NSF) developed the Computer Science Network (CSNET) was the first iteration of the internet.  Then in 1986, NSFNET[28] provided access to supercomputer sites from US based research and education facilities.  Later on commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) surfaced throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Finally the Internet was commercialized in 1995[29], when the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic were removed.

Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on culture and commerce.  We have seen the rise of near-instant communication spoken of by Alvin Toffler in Revolutionary Wealth via electronic mail, instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) “phone calls” and two-way interactive video calls.  The World Wide Web’s seeming limitless discussion forums, blogs[30], social networking, and even online shopping sites with comments and recommendations has arguably had more impact on mankind that any other technology in history.  It’s a fact that more data is being transmitted at higher speeds over fiber optic networks operating at either 1 or 10 Gbit/s[31].  The Internet’s takeover over of the global communication landscape is almost complete: in 1993 it communicated 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunications networks in 2007 more than 97% of the telecommunicated information was communicated in this fashion[32].

All this free, ubiquitous access to information has made everyone smarter – the technology industry, businesses, vendors and partners and not the least by any stretch – customers.  Customers of all types from individual retail consumers to knowledge working executives in hi-tech industries all have so much ready access to information, consumable resources and international vendors that even the simplest transaction screams with competition.  Competition makes the economic seas run fast and requires you to be agile.

Competition is not based solely or even primarily on cost, but both true and perceived “value”.  The true value[33] is the amount that a buyer is willing to pay for an item.  It changes from time to time and from place to place.  However, the perceived value[34] is based on a customer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her.  It may have little or nothing to do with the product’s market price, and depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.

It is the perceived value that is most interesting.  Customers will purchase a product at a greater cost if they perceive it to have superior value[35] to them.  As consumers, be they individuals or companies, become better informed, they shift more from true value thinking to perceived value thinking.  This is due to the fact that they are being influenced by factors other than cost such as quality, durability, sustainability and even ethical responsibility[36].

Take for example, the early explosion of off shore services.  Early projections had all work following the wave of cheap labor as it washed around the planet in a west to east direction.  This did not provide the value many expected[37].  Some businesses, after investing heavily in this course, reversed direction[38].  Some companies not only survived the hurricane force winds of offshore outsourcing, but steadily grew in size and most importantly competency and strength in the face of this competition.  Note the emphasis on competency which equates to knowledge.

Let’s define knowledge a bit more for clarity’s sake.  Knowledge is different from data and information.  Data represent observations or facts out of context, and therefore is not directly meaningful.  Information is the result of placing data in some meaningful context usually with a distinct message or meaning.  I am going to skip over the concepts of knowledge becoming understanding and understanding becoming wisdom here for brevity’s sake.  Knowledge is that which we believe and value based on the accumulation of information through various means such as experience, communication or inference.  Knowledge can be both as a thing to be stored and manipulated and as well as a process of applying expertise based on the knowledge.  As a practical matter, organizations need to manage knowledge as both an object and a process.

Knowledge can be tacit or explicit.  Tacit knowledge is tenuous.  It is subconsciously understood and applied.  It can be difficult to articulate.  It is usually developed from direct experience and action, and shared through highly interactive conversation, story-telling and shared experience[39].  Explicit knowledge, in contrast, is more precisely and easily articulated.  Although it is more abstract, it can be more easily defined, transferred and shared.  Explicit knowledge is playing an increasingly large role in organizations.  It is considered by some to be the most important factor of production in the knowledge economy.

Knowledge also ranges from general to specific.  General knowledge is broad, often publicly available, and independent of particular events.  Specific knowledge, in contrast, is context-specific.  General knowledge, like explicit knowledge, can be more easily and meaningfully documented and exchanged, especially among different knowledge or practice communities.

Finally there are several types of knowledge, each of which may be explicit.  Knowledge about something is called declarative knowledge.  Knowledge of how something occurs or is performed is called procedural knowledge.  Knowledge why something occurs is called causal knowledge.  Shared explicit causal knowledge, often in the form of organizational stories, enables organizations to coordinate strategy for achieving goals or outcomes.  This is directly tied to vision.  You will recall that this all started with vision.  You not only need to know what the vision of the destination’s port is and have the persistent leadership to keep you heading in that direction, but you must have all the knowledge necessary to operate the ship and chart a course towards it.  And remember when you are steering on these turbulent economic seas, fraught with shoals of recessions and hurricanes winds of change – to keep agile!

Joe Wisdo passed away, February 14th, 2013.  He was one of the finest examples of an ideal family man that I have ever known.  He was also a humanitarian in the finest sense dedicating much of his time to quietly and unselfishly helping those less fortunate than himself.  He was always positive and encouraging.  I never heard him say a bad word about anyone the entire time I knew him which was far too short.  His absence will be so deeply and personally felt across a broad spectrum of family, relatives, friends, colleagues and even perfect strangers to whom Joe commonly performed one of his acts of uncommon kindness.  How much better would the world be if more of us were like him.  I ask all of you who read this to do one act of kindness to a perfect stranger in Joe’s name to honor his life. -Brian Lucas

Joe’s wife kindly shared with me the fact that this dedication and all the comments the gentle readers made promising to perform a good dead in Joe’s name has brought her family comfort and helped them deal with their loss.  May all those who took the time to comment and make this pledge be blessed a thousandfold in return. – Brian Lucas (April 2013) 

[2] That’s an agile principle small iterative steps in an every refined directions versus massively committed “Hail Mary” plays.

[10] Things that are actually achieved are covered by goals and objectives.

[19] A consistent vision along with unshakable ethics keeps an organization on track. Believe in what you do, have fun, take care of your customers and then make some money.  Often those business people who put the last item first end up not achieving financial success strategically.  By not pursuing profit at the expense of your ethics you can enjoy financial success strategically.

[21] Yes, I have said I am not sanguine about lean.  I was referring to methodology not organization structure.

[31] Even faster speeds are available.

[35] Just look at LL Bean’s history.

[39] This is one reason why I chose the parable concept in a Tale of Two Companies and it has proven to be very popular.

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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74 Responses to Sailing in an Agile Ship with Vision and Knowledge to Guide You

  1. Elaine says:

    Wow I finally am the first to comment on a post! I found the sailing analogy to be both apt and fascinating. The most striking message is that ethics are more important now than ever. Although I am an engineer and not heavily involved in the business side of my company, I remember when I was a young girl my father talking about how they didn’t mix personal life and business. I remember my mother not being able to call my father’s, office to tell him to pick up something from the store on his way home. Now there are day care centers at many businesses at least in California and juice bars and we work on flex time. We can’t separate work and personal life anymore. We also can’t have a separate set of ethics for our business and ourselves. I have known friends who have suffered in their personal lives when they imitated a non-ethical or immoral act their business did even if it was legal. This is a lesson for all of us that we are as we act both at home and at work. It is in all our interests both employers and employees to see that a company ACTS ethically not just in words on a website. A strong vision must include a strong statement off ethical considerations. Thank you Brian once again for sharing your wisdom with me.

    • Elaine says:

      I made the original comment before Brian dedicated this to his friend’s memory. I regret never having met Joe Wisdo. I will try and do a good deed in Joe’s name as often as I can to honor him. I am very sorry for his family’s loss.

  2. Carol says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your friend’s death. He sounded like a wonderful person. I think he would have appreciated this post very much. He obviously had a very clear vision and an ethic and morality that lasted him a lifetime and he lived up to them. I promise I will do a good deed for a stranger in his name.

  3. Wendi says:

    Joe was a great friend and co-worker to all of us at CAI. He was always talking about his family and was so very proud of all them. It was truly an honor for me to have known Joe and worked with him. I will always remember his kind words, his self depreciating humor and his great laugh. And of course our many discussions about the Phillies. If the world had more people like Joe in it there would be a place without hate or hunger or despair. He will be missed always, but we were all blessed to have known him.

  4. Genica says:

    Hi Brian: I really like your new blog format! Its nice and sharp and works well on my smartphone. I like this latest post where you lay the case for how important it is to have both ethics and knowledge. This was quite a history lesson. I was very sorry to hear about your friend Joe’s death. I promise that I will do a good deed for a stranger in his name. I will also ask others to do the same. :Genica

  5. Carole says:

    The new blog looks wonderful Brian. I luv it!

  6. Jerry says:

    Different kind of an agile article from what I normally read. refreshing! Easy to read which I liked. Brian makes an undeniable case for the importance of vision, knowledge and ethics in this fast paced business world. I thought the dedication was well done. Too often we are rushing around today and forget the individual person and the fact that we are all too mortal. I will have to read the rest of this blog and see if it is as good as this post.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Jerry I am glad you feel the blog is easy to read. We are all too mortal we blink and life has flowed down the stream of time. There is no way to recapture the moment past for those whom we have hurt or failed to help. So I try to cease the moment whenever it comes. The importance of vision and ethics and knowledge cannot be overstated today. Please keep commenting.

  7. Judith says:

    This took me by surprise!! I wasn’t sure what it was about at first. Then after I took the time to REALLY read it, I found a beautifully written recounting of the last 30 years or so of the computing industry and how it is changing all of us. I guess I am so used to reading sound bites, trivial thinking and poor writing that a quality, well written article threw me. Thanks for getting me to think again Brian and not writing at an idiot level and treating me as one. I also am sorry for the loss of your friend and promise to do a kind act in his name.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thinking is one of the few things no one can take from you. Cherish the privilege of being a rational being capable of contemplating your own existence and the nature of the universe you inhabit.

  8. Max Bayer says:

    I’ll be honest. I started to read this and then got lost and stopped. I thought it was rambling. For some reason that I really can’t identify I came back to it. I read it again more slowly this time. I thought about it as I read it. It was like a tapestry woven of many threads, yet still having a common design. I guess I like Judith am spoiled by “take aways” and sound bites and writers telling us what to think. I see here that Mr. Lucas stands apart. He challenges us TO think. The message here is clear to me. You must have an ethical vision and then make a significant and continual investment in knowledge to succeed today and in the future. Being a sharp, high pressure businessman won’t get you there or at least won’t keep you there strategically. It is ironic that in this age of such rapid technology advancement our personal human ethics have become critical to our survival.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Although I would never dare to compare my self to him, good writing is like a Robert Frost poem it can be read on many different levels and with subsequent readings new truths and wisdom with emerge.

  9. Sally-R says:

    Brian I was so sorry to read about your friend Joe’s passing. I’m sure he would have liked this tribute to him. He must have been a very rare man indeed. I enjoyed reading this post as I do all your great work. I can honestly say that as a consultant I see this message gaining traction in the industry. Agility as you predicted earlier is becoming foundational. I promise I will do a kind act for a stranger today in Joe’s name and asks others to do likewise.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you Sally for being a reader, a supporter and a new friend. I am glad to see our talks about the direction of enterprise agility are bearing fruit. Joe was a rare man indeed and I will miss him.

  10. Gilbert Jones says:

    This was such a touching dedication I am sorry I never met the man. I am sure he would have felt honored by this post and the call to action in his name at its end. As others have promised I will honor Mr. Wisdo’s name in this manner. It’s a fine thought. To comment briefly on the article itself, My question is, How do you plan on breaking down achievable things if a vision is something you steer at but never actually arrive at in a perfect sense at least?

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Joe honored us with his humanity everyday. It is a small thing indeed for me to remember him in this blog. Gilbert, in honoring Joe’s name by performing a kind act, you are meeting him each and every time you say an encouraging word or lend a helping hand. You can always identify a goal that will take you closer to your vision that is the best way of breaking down a vision. I will address this more fully in a future article.

  11. LouieB says:

    Brian I love the new site! You’re right about the ethics. Some throw their morals out the door when times get tough like they are now. That’s just when you need them most. A lot of companies are cutting corners on people. Its always the little guy who gets it in the neck. The boys at the top are still raking it in. Well times change and their employees will show them the same loyalty they are getting now. Joe sounded like a good guy. I’ll light a candle at mass for him. I’ll think of him the next time I pass someone who’s on the outs and remember to be generous. Keep writing and commenting Brian you’ve been slacking off lately. What’s up with that?

  12. Sean Haney says:

    Brian I agree with the importance of being agile and having a vision and you most assuredly need to have more knowledge today than ever before particularly an appreciation of information technology. As a business man, I am constantly inundated with an ever changing demand to implement new business concepts and techniques. Often these are only vague concepts. It almost seems to me that this was too involved of a subject for an article because you talk about being agile, having vision, needing knowledge, the importance of ethics and walk us through a history of ethical failures and the internet’s birth and evolution. Don’t get me wrong! I think this is a well written article. It almost seems to me though that it is the outline for a book or needs a book behind it to deal with all the detailed questions that arise. How all these things are developed with balance and then operate in harmony raises many questions in my mind. Again I don’t disagree. I am looking for a how to, rather. So the question I have is are you up for a book? I can hook you up with publishers if you want. I have worked in that business in the past. I also want to commend you for dedicating several of your posts to friends who have passed away. I think it shows both humanity, sensitivity and perhaps took some courage in this day of whitewashed political correctness. I will comply with your request at the end to do a good dead for a stranger in Mr. Wisdo’s name. It is a good thought and I hope all the comments here and promises made in Mr. Wisdo’s name will bring some measure of comfort to his family.

  13. Lynn Begley says:

    Much of what I wanted to say has already been said in other comments. I liked this article. It was the title and the quote that caught my eye. I printed it out and framed it. It is hanging on the wall of my home office. As a single working mother I have decided to leave the corporate world and pursue a business on my own where I can better live my ideals and spend more time with my children. The rat race isn’t worth it. My ideals and what I want to teach my children about living life without compromising your morals are far more important. Thanks Brian for reminding us all that life is too short. I will try to hire someone who is in need of a break in Mr. Wisdo’s name and honor his memory. I will say a prayer for his family that they find the strength to get through this trying time.

  14. Paul Wardlow says:

    This was a super post! What tips do you have for making the vision a shared one and keeping it vibrant and meaningful in changing circumstances? I will join the rest here and make a commitment to performing an act of kindness for a stranger in Your friend Joe’s name.

  15. Gerald R. Henderson says:

    This was an interesting read and I recommend it to anyone. It is true that many companies have “lost their way”. So many that it has become a stock phrase. In the end they have or will pay a steep price for their moral, if not legallapses. I also want to say Brian that I find your writing style easy to read. It makes the points you are trying to get across more palatable. This is important because at times you teach a bitter lesson that we as managers especially don’t want to hear. Finally, I don’t often see a personal appeal such as you have made here and normally don’t respond to them. Yours was both sensitive and well done. Joe Wisdo sounds like he was a very fine man whom I would have been proud to know. So I too will promise to perform an act of kindness in his name. I will volunteer some of my time at a homeless shelter in the city.

  16. Artura Bartolini says:

    This is a fine piece of authorship. It is a beautifully expressed condensation of the last 3 decades of information technology and its effect on business. I recommend it to all. I do have a question for the author. Some say that a manager’s job is to tell an employee what to do not how to do it. Do you agree? And how can anyone deny your request honor your late friend? I will willingly do so.

  17. Bill Gantry, Jr. says:

    The measure of a person is space they fill in this life and the void they leave in passing. Mr. Wisdo apparently filled a vast part of many lives. This post is a fitting tribute to a man who had a vision in life and steered to it all his life. A lesson for us all. It is good for all of us to read of someone like Mr.Wisdo who lived a life of compassion for the common man. Something that I will try to do more of in Mr. Wisdo’s name.

  18. Edmund James says:

    Rather a large chunk of information to swallow in one gulp Brian, but I am glad you served up this dish for you. An intelligent read for intelligent readers. Ambitious in scope, yet smoothly told. I am sure Mr. Wisdo is well honored by it. He was a man of ethics and you are promoting the same. I’ll sign up for a good deed as well.

  19. Manuel J. Hernandez says:

    Hi Brian: I want to thank you for sharing this, both the article and the dedication. My son stuck this article under my nose and made me read it. As a small business owner I get frustrated with employees when they just don’t operate on the same page as I am. I often blame them and it’s true they might not care enough. What you have shown me here is that the grounds for caring about the business begin with a better vision. My vision was always to make money in the cleaning business. So I hired as economically as I could. I focused on managing costs. My workers usually required much management. Over the last several years my business has struggled and I had to lay off several employees. Competition is tough. You have made me look at myself again and maybe try a new approach to doing business with my customers and motivating my employees. I guess I have to start listening to my son about using computers more! Jose
    – I will light a candle and say a prayer for your friend and his family at church.

  20. Terrence O'Doul says:

    Brian I am impressed with your blog. I thought maybe Elaine was talking it up a bit last night. It is everything she said and more. You are too modest, my new friend. And any man who can sign the old Irish songs like Brennan on the Moor as you did is welcome in our company. You are a very smart man who doesn’t put on airs. I wish you all the luck in the world. TOD

  21. Jeff says:

    This was a very interesting article. You make a good case. My question is how do you keep the vision current in a changing market?

  22. Georgette E. Blakley says:

    Brian I am sorry to hear that your friend died. He must have been a very fine man to garner such a dedication. Time is always a problem for me, but I promise to make a donation in Joe’s name to the food drive at our church. I wonder if you could expound upon your thoughts on knowledge management which is a hot topic today. Perhaps it could be a next article.

  23. Jack says:

    Brian- another post that makes me think- for that I cannot thank you enough. And a beautiful dedication to someone I regret I never met. I obviously don’t know Joe’s family. I am sure the dedication in this post and the comments that follow it comfort them. Joe is living on in all of your memories. He is physically alive in every act of kindness that those here will do for strangers who will be influenced to do the same. I know I will each and every day. How many throughout the world this will touch no one knows. I know it touched me deeply. What a fine thing it would be if we all had a friend as good as you to remember us, bring comfort to our families and continue to bring what goodness our lives offered into the world. I hope others appreciate you as much. May the Lord bless you on this Easter.

  24. Marisette says:

    Hi Brian: You are clearly a very bright person, who has a great deal of knowledge and an amazing way with words. I find myself wishing I could meet you in person just to see what you’re about. I enjoy your blog and follow it regularly. It’s very original. I like others, wish you would post more. The reason I respect you so much is that you do absolutely no self promotion. You are sharing what you know for the sake of sharing. That’s very unusual for people in your position. Thanks! -M

  25. S.Gupta says:

    I find that I am in agreement with Brian here. It took me me years to come to the realization that I needed to push innovation and decision making down in my enterprise, but I finally learned to lesson and fortunately it was not too late. Brian expresses this with a remarkable facility taking us through a tour of the history of computers and the emergence of knowledge in the modern ers. I highly recommend this article for all managers.

  26. Ted (Last Name With Held By Request) says:

    Simply a wonderful exploration of where we executives need to place our focus in this changing era. Congratulations Mr. Lucas I have never seen a more colorful and better thumb nail sketch of the changing times we live in. I hope everyone understands if I am a little vague in my comment. As a company, we had lost some of the ideals that the founder envisioned. We simply lost our way a bit. On the verge of bankruptcy 7 years ago, we had a consultant come in and give us a plan for reorganization. We all thought it would result in downsizing and waste cutting. We were prepared for that. What the proposal actually contained was a recommendation that we reorganize ourselves completely and rediscover the quality proposition that started our manufacturing business over 59 years ago. I will admit that as an operations manager I was slow to accept the concepts in the proposal. They centered on a flat organization and team empowerment. Because I and several others at the executive level just didn’t get it, we had a slow and tumultuous adoption of our restructuring. It took a key team producing what were better results in a little over a week from what previously took them almost 2 months, to convince me. Still all our teams didn’t get these stellar results. I have to honestly admit that many times management was getting in the way of the team. It has taken us almost 6 years to reorganize. It was worth it though and we are much leaner and have a healthy bottom line. What is the most surprising benefit is the we have much greater employee satisfaction. Now that we are not dictating to employees, but are tapping them not only for their work expertise, but also knowledge, ideas and judgement; our operations are far smoother and turnover has almost disappeared. Had I read this article 7 years ago, I wouldn’t have agreed. Now I not only agree, but appreciate it as well. I highly recommend that all managers take this seriously. Deal with the dramatic change that the modern business environment requires sooner than later and become a willing part of that change. The dedication here is something that I think this gentleman would have appreciated and I will make a charitable donation in his name.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Ted – What a tremendously frank and salient analysis of your situation. I applaud you for your honesty, your ability to recognize and admit an error and your willingness to help others learn. That’s the mark of a truly worthwhile executive! I am sure Joe would have been proud to know you!

  27. Naomi says:

    This was a fitting tribute about ethics for a person who clearly demonstrated his. Thanks for sharing this Brian and I will do a good deed in Joe’s name.

  28. Beverly Haulton says:

    Hi Brian: The section on knowledge was just what I was looking for. I am trying to architect a knowledge repository for our company. Do you have any recommendations for additional sources? Also I was going to use a simple SharePoint portal as a start for delivery. What do you think of that approach? I think it says a great deal about the kind of man you are to make this moving dedication to your friend Joe. I would like to friend you on FaceBook, but I could not find you. Can you email me your FaceBook link?

  29. Mark Little says:

    I guess some people like Mr. Lucas have vision and the skill to write about it and others can’t see it if it is set before them on a plate. 10 years ago I had a idea for a new business line that I wanted the manufacturer I worked for to go into. I spent the time and did the research and it seemed like the CEO was on board. Then we hit rough economic times and the CEO said he didn’t see it. We ended up downsizing and were finally bought out by a company that had moved their production into a product line along the lines of what I had proposed to our CEO. It was OK for me because I got to be an assistant product manager and the company is a good one. A lot of people lost their jobs though when we were bought out many of them were good workers who worked hard. The CEO say that he was taken care of and had his golden parachute, but I personally know of families that really struggled to make ends meet. I honestly can’t say for certain if things would have turned out better if the CEO had more vision or courage or trust in me at least. I can say for certain that he did not earn his golden parachute.

  30. Bonnie Elton says:

    Brian, no wonder your blog has so many comments and is becoming popular! You are a very interesting and entertaining writer. The comparison to sailing was very apt! It is something that I would never have thought of on my own. You are very creative and imaginative. You are also one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent writers I have ever read. That’s a gift! I enjoy it most when you write in this epic style and cover a vast amount of subject matter like you are doing here and yet manage to keep a reader’s interest. This post taught me an important lesson as a young woman entering the business world. One that I will remember throughout my career. I am very sorry your friend passed away. He sounds like someone I would very much have liked to know and call a friend. I will volunteer this summer in my church’s feed the hungry program in Joe’s name. – Bonnie

  31. Captain Pierce says:

    I guess you are a fellow sailor Brian. Things seem much clearer when out on the water. It puts things into perspective. I agree many companies lost their moral compass and fell on hard times. It seems that the ones that got hurt the worst were the ordinary workers and that is just not right. Today with the genome being defined and so many other boundaries being shattered by science and technology it is more important that ever to have a clear vision and a solid sense of morality to ground us. Nicely done sailor!

  32. TommyG says:

    Used to be in business it was important who you knew. Now its what you know.

  33. John Philip Gleason says:

    Mr. Lucas,
    It is very rewarding to see someone in this bland world of totally political correctness to make an emotional and religious appeal (if you allow me to use that adjective) in a business post. Beyond that you wrote an article which is basically about morality and ethics. None of this detracted from the scholarly yet pragmatic intelligence of your argument. You have a rarely facile mind that blends scientific theory with business savvy. Your greatest attraction is that you are an entertaining writer of uncommonly dry wit. I abhore conventionalism for the sake of conformity and as business consultant, I try to get my clients to break out of their conventional thinking constraints as often as possible. Your blog is a great find! It should be licensed and carried by the snobby ones instead of the worthless junk they normally publish. Your premise in this post that ethics and vision are your grounding factors and knowledge your driving force is well founded. This is a wonderfully lyrical and knowledgible history of modern business that goes beyond historical recital and provides insight, imparts wisdom and gives solid advice. I admit to being agnostic, but that doesn’t change my admiration for this post or your blog. While agnostic, I like to think of myself as a humanitarian. I will honor your request to do acts of kindness in your late friend Joe’s name and encourage others to do so as well. You are a shining example that business success does not have to mean bland thinking or communicating and morality does not have to mean religious fervor or intolerance. Thank you for your splendid post and blog in general. JPG

  34. Sister Mary Joseph says:

    Mr. Lucas, I must thank you for this article. As a teacher, I can tell you how difficult it can be to instill moral guidance into grade school and high school and students. After college they enter a world so competitive that they feel great pressure to brush aside the values that they learned from family and their religion. I have known unfortunate stories of former students who strayed from the right path and struggled to regain their souls. It is so good to find an example in business of doing what is right in Christ’s name. I will pray for Joseph Wisdo’s soul and for his family. I am sure he is in heaven and watching over them. Bless you for posting this!

  35. Hayden Guthrie says:

    Smooth and well written view of the recent past and the needs of the immediate future. Nicely entertaining!

  36. Lubrich says:

    This is more to the point about what we have lost in business and are now being forced by circumstances to rediscover than anything else I have read. I am an atheist and I admittedly spurn and deplore religion. Organized religion has done so much harm in history and continues to do so that it repulses me. That doesn’t change the fact that regardless of what he believed Mr. Wisdo was a very fine and good man who left the world better for his life. Ultimately that is all we can do in this brief existence. So I too will promise to do a good deed for a stranger in Mr. Wisdo’s memory. Not for the glory of any deity, but to honor a special human being.

  37. Highbridge says:

    I perhaps disagree slightly in that I believe consumers always purchased based on perceived value. Now with the internet and the wealth of information, perceived value has taken on new significance as you so clearly state in this post. What it means is that purveyors of products and services must be players in the high ground of the subject matter their enterprise addresses or be subject to the whims of those who own this territory. Having professed that minor interpretative difference I admit that all things considered this article is rather well done.

  38. Raleigh Morehouse says:

    Hi Brian! I am working on a knowledge repository and portal and was wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions and point me to some more source material on this subject. I like the simple, direct and yet highly scientific way you explained what knowledge was here and hope you can share more of your obvious vast insights.

  39. Alexis Skaroff says:

    This post besides being well crafted has touched many people based on the comments. What more could any author hope to achieve? Congratulations Brian!

  40. Dr. Timothy Morgan says:

    So much of internet posts are worthless, being either obvious or the opinions of narrow minded people. Seldom does one find content that is informative and valuable such as this. Even rarer is the fact that this article has an important moral overtone that is badly needed in our society, particularly business. So much has happened on the last 3 decades in business and technology, that to see it summed up so well here is a welcome surprise. I was impressed and moved by this post, and so I offer my complements to Mr. Lucas’s authorship, my sympathy to Mr. Wisdo’s widow and family and my pledge to honor the request and perform a kind act for a stranger each and every day.

  41. Wally Nesbit says:

    Very well written article and a moving tribute. I lived through these years though now I am retired. I will definitely sign up as an ambassador of Joe Wisdo’s good will and do a good dead for a stranger each and ever day for the rest of my life. Maybe when I go someone will write a dedication to me. I like the thought of that even if it is a little selfish.

  42. Hector Prise says:

    This post was a true gem! I can’t believe I found it buried in a search and not on one of the big blog carriers. I was frankly surprised at the high quality of the information content. It drives home a message that needs to go out to all the corporate world business as usual is over. Stop believing your publicity hype and take a hard look at yourselves. Lastly, I have to admit that I am not one that generally appreciates personal appeals like that in the dedication on this article. I generally just ignore them. I will however, in this instance, make a commitment today to perform a kind act to a perfect stranger in honor of Mr. Wisdo’s memory so that his legacy of kindness lives on.

  43. Troi says:

    Brian I am very touched by this. I will do a good act as well in Joe’s name!

  44. Arron says:

    Excellent post on the importance of strategic guidance while being agile. Please post more! Also I want to say it was a nice touch to dedicate this! My condolences to the family.

  45. Father Paul Brown says:

    Morality must not just be a part of our religion, but our very lives. We cannot have one morality for our personal life and another for our business. Thank you Brian for reminding everyone of the importance of moral guidance. May the Lord bless you and your work! I will pray for Joseph Wisdo’s soul though I am sure he is in the keeping of our Lord. I will also pray for his family to find the strength to accept their loss. :Father Paul

  46. Dawn says:

    I hope when my time comes people will feel I left behind a legacy like Mr. Wisdo did. I will promise as well.

  47. Willow says:

    Why not auction off a dinner date with Brian to raise funds for the Allentown Public Theatre. Too bad I don’t live in Pennsylvania. Darn!

  48. Susan Long says:

    I carry on Joe’s legacy with a kind act!

  49. Liz Gorman says:

    Brian thank you for this gift of vision. I promise to do a good act in Joe’s name.

  50. Henry J. Pennington III says:

    Dear Mr. Lucas,
    As long as there are magnificent people like in this world you who can educate and entertain us at the same time and show us that morality and chivalry are not dead, I have hope for our future. I am deeply grateful to you for sharing your wisdom with us so freely. I too will honor Mr. Wisdo’s memory every day with a kind act to a stranger.
    Henry J. Pennington III

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