Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Seeing the Invisible ….

During the NC Research Campus Dedication in Kannapolis, NC on November 20, 2008, David Murdock gave a speech where he referenced an adage “To do the Impossible you have to see the Invisible.” His remarks are an excellent example of out of the box thinking. He references the time when the textile mill was demolished and a vision emerged of a research campus rising in its place. At that time people thought the idea was crazy talk as described by Erskine Bowles in his speech. At the time of the dedication there were three magnificent buildings which had replaced the rubble of the previous mill. See images of these three buildings in NC Research Campus Dedication Power Point Presentation. The speeches can be accessed from slide 4 of the presentation. I highly recommend anyone reading this blog take time to listen to his speech and two others which have been posted on YouTube.

· David Murdock Owner and Chairman Dole Food Company and Castle & Cooke, Inc.
· Erskine B Bowles President University of North Carolina
· Dr. Victor J Dzau, MD Chancellor for Health Affairs, Duke University President & CEO, Duke University Health System

As emphasized in the NC Research Campus website:
“The Research Campus will be a thriving scientific community where the best minds will shape the way we understand nutrition and its relationship to disease.”—David H. Murdock—NC Research Campus Founder and Visionary.

I see this as an excellent example of non-applied Research. This is depicted in the Building Competitive Services & Wares diagram to the right where Business does not overlap in the Research block area. The NC Research Campus is unique in that there will be Scientists from 7 NC Universities. They will have access to state of the art equipment, types that would not be practical for an individual University to own but as partners with other Universities all benefit from a common research resource. Applied research is in the area where the Business Block overlaps the Research Block. Pepsi Cola announced at the dedication they will be a partner with the center and will focus on taking the research results into the marketplace. Other Business Partners are already on the campus with others expected to join. More information related to the diagram can be found at Focus on Business Engine.

Several years ago I heard somewhere that a Visionary sees what the future can be, an Administrator gets the most out of the paradigm where he is operating and a Leader is someone that can see the future (invisible) and move from the old paradigm to the new paradigm. David Murdock is a prime example of a Leader in this respect.

Hopefully this blog entry will give the reader a new set of eyes regarding “New ways of thinking inside and outside the Box.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inspiring Entrepreneur ......... Letter to Editor

The following was printed in the Letters to the Editor in the Marion Star & Enterprise on October 15, 2008.

Dear Editor,
The Inspiring Entrepreneur in the Sept. 24 issue of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise impressed me; it was not the typical letter to the editor. I, too, feel, as Kimberly Genwright does, that there is a need for more wisdom and more opportunities to provide for improvement in the paradigm of Historical Underutilized Business (HUB) Zones of which Marion County is one.

Several years ago, I started some research by looking at two areas, The Piedmont Triad Area in central North Carolina, where I now live, and the North East Strategic Area, which includes Marion County, where I was born and lived until going away to college. By looking at the two areas it gave me a better understanding. ... It is insightful to compare them and examine how they are dealing with their challenges. I discov­ered some interesting things in the process.

One of those was that Marion had a REWARD program that uses Work Keys for enabling work force for employment. When I discovered REWARD, I visited Dan Breeding to better understand it. Here the Piedmont Triad Partnership has a grant from the Department of Labor for a WIRED program that also has Work Keys as a facet of its effort for enabling the workforce. I am a member of Marion County Progress to better understand how they are addressing the challenges.

Since I find gloom and doom as I visit Marion County, let me share what happened here in Greensboro. Several years ago the inner city was a dead zone; today it is alive and developing as a very attractive place to live. What woke up Greensboro was an economic report that was full of gloom and doom. Several people came together and formed Action Greensboro; which has been and still is a catalyst for development and improving Greensboro. It wasn't easy, but people with a passion turned Greensboro from a dead zone into a striving and attractive area to live and work.

One of the best-kept secrets here in Greens­boro is the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship. It started in an old bank building, when I first visited it, the conference room was the bank vault. Some people with a vision put together a plan to turn an old textile building into a Business Incubator Center. Today it has over 100 graduates and over 100 associates with a wide variety of types of businesses. It seems to me that Marion needs to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses, because they have so much potential for strengthening the economy.

During the past 20 years, I have been plagued with charts and diagrams of models that I now call Metaphors for the 21st Century. One of the metaphors is the Innovative Engine.
It is a team with five hats. The simplest way to think about it is to look at a room with four cor­ners. In corner one is the marketplace where the Customer Hat resides, in corner two is produc­tion and service, where Technologist Hat resides, in corner three is where the Engineer Hat does development and in the fourth corner is the where the Scientist Hat does Research; in the middle of the room is the Business Hat that manages the process of the four other hats.

These five hats are the innovative engine of an entity, be it small or large enterprise or just an individual trying to solve a problem. The essential steps are to Research, Develop, Produce, Market and Manage the operation. This is a cycle where there is continuous improve­ment to the product or service that is being pro­vided to the Customer. Marion County needs innovative engines for success in the future.

Thanks for letting me share these thoughts with your readers.
Best Regards.
Lonnie H. Baxley Jr.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quality Education .....

During the 1990s while I was teaching at NCA&T Quality of education became a focus of my thinking and has continued until today. The graphic here was created during the initial stages of this thinking. It depicts the quality of the education pipeline at various stages; the size of the "Q" is an indicator of the quality of education products flowing through the pipeline. Note the areas where there is low "q" on lower levels and where large "Q" are above. This shows that the education quality has been improved at a higher level when a low quality was flowing into the pipeline.

When I graduated from a small country school in South Carolina and entered the university; I had to take several non-credit courses to make up for courses not taught in the small country school where I received my High School Diploma. This demonstrates low quality due to lack of resources in the school to teach the necessary courses for university entry requirements.

Low quality can also occur from the dis-engagement of students in the learning process or poor quality teachers. I understand there is research that indicates that students start to dis-engage from the education process between the grades of third and sixth. From my experience with the IEEE Education Activities with local K-12 schools this appears to have some merit. Our Central NC Section IEEE Education Activities Team conducted a pilot session with a fifth AIG class in 2008 and from what I observed this class was still very much engaged. As you talk with students, you can get a sense if they are still engaged with school.

I read a recent article by the Herman Group, reporting on the percentage of employees that are dis-engaged with their work. There seems to be a universal problem of dis-engagement in our society. High dropout rates in schools, dis-interest in work, lack of spiritual development. "Quality comes from Ownership with Integrity and appropriate Resources in a healthy Paradigm - lhb" seems valid here. Some of the problems of dis-engagement may be due to the un-healthy paradigm in which people are found; be it schools, workplace or spiritual environments.

In education there has been a lot of emphasis on the "No Child Left Behind" for the lower bar achievers; but with less emphasis on the higher bar achievers. There needs to be a balance between the two. If we look at the chart on my April 18th blog we see there are various levels of skills that are required for a successful 21st century company. The lower level rountine skills are the ones that the lower bar achievers are going to find themselves in and the higher bar achievers are the ones that will be in the creative work diamond and will be making an impact on the 21st century economy. We need to encourage them all to find their place in the world where they can take ownership and make a difference!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Paradigm Shifts .... 21st Century Skills

In my April 18th blog entry I introduced a chart from "Tough Choices or Tough Times" and discussed "Value Streams ...... 21st Century Skills". In today's News & Record May 5, 2008, there is an article by David Brooks which I think ties in with this discussion and addresses the paradigm shift of skills revolution we are experiencing.

He discusses how the globalization paradigm has turned out to be very convenient for politicians. "It allows them to blame foreigners for economic woes." .... ".. there's a problem with the way the globalization paradigm has evolved. It doesn't really explain most of what is happening in the world."

He goes on to say "The central process driving this is not globalization. It's the skills revolution. We're moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and golbalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked." "The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called 'the Chinese' or 'the Indians,' are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy -- specific processes that foster learning. .... If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, your're focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner." "It's not globalization and the skills revolution are contradictory processes. But which paradigm you embrace determines which facts and remedies you emphasize." He further emphasizes that it's time to move beyond the globalization paradigm thinking.

What captured my attention in this article is the importance of the skills revolution which ties in with my previous blog on the importance of 21st century skills. In the global supply chain there are a triplett of materials, information and financial chains. The diamond in the chart shows creative work as high importance in a competitive marketplace and our educational supply chain must be developing the future workforce with these necessary 21st century skills.

In other parts of this blog and in our website we discuss Metaphors for the 21st Century (M21C) and the importance of the Innovative Engine in building competitive services & wares.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Global Value Streams ..... 21st Century Skills

In the report "Tough Choices or Tough Times" there is a chart which is instructive when thinking about 21st Century Skills. It is a Triangle with a diamond at the top representing Creative Work which includes Research, Development, Design, Marketing & Sales and Global Supply Chain Management. In the lower part of the Triangle it shows how Routine Work is done by People and Machines; this gives a feel for how Routine Work is being displaced by machines. It also shows a horizontal line about midway which represents the work that has been outsourced overseas to developing countries. The horizontal line also intercepts the lower part of the diamond, indicating some of the creative work is now being done by non-US entities. Click here to get more information regarding the Tough Choices or Tough Times Report.

Metaphors for the 21st Century (M21C) focuses on the Supply Chain using the entity metaphors shown in the diagram. Sources, Businesses and Markets are indicated on the diagram.

In the center of each individual entity there is a metaphor which represents the Innovative Engine. This is discussed in our website.

In building competitive services and wares it is important to think of the supply chain not just as the materials flow but also include the information and the financial supply chains. Therefore for the flows shown in the diagram there is a triplet that must be considered when analyzing the competition. You can think of the materials as a forward flow and the financial as a backward flow; the information is both forward and backward flow.

There has been great progress in the past couple of decades in the information flow. In the not too distant past all information was in terms of physical paper flow, but with the new technologies of electronic data interchange the completion of pieces of paper by people have been transferred to automated computer and communications networks. This is an example where 21st Century Skills are becoming important in the creative work of developing and deploying systems that automate routine work.

A more recent technology that has enhanced the capability of supply chains is RFID. Bar coding has been used extensively to identify and improve flow of goods through the consumer chain. Retail scanners at checkout counters ring up the prices from a data base keyed to the bar codes. RFID takes the coding of bar codes one step further by including a serial number of the individual item. This becomes valuable when there are problems in the supply chain that have in the past resulted in massive recalls which could not identify the exact source of the problem. With RFID the item is tracked directly to the source. To benefit most from RFID, the infrastructure of the supply chain comes into play as an essential ingredient take advantage of this level of identification. For more insight into Supply Chain Management and RFID see RFID in the Context of 21st Century Skills (Workshop prepared by founder and presented at a local education institution.)

To be competitive use new ways of thinking inside and outside the box for 21st Century Skills in Tri-Supply Chain Management.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

M21C .... HEIFER

M21C promotes healthy paradigms by new ways of thinking inside and outside the box. Clashes of SIN paradigms result in war. Merging of ACTS paradigms can create Peace. Read a previous Blog for a discussion of SIN vs ACTS.

Reading a recent article on how Heifer International is creating peace through programs described in "Best Friends Instead of Enemies" emphasizes how new thinking inside and outside the box makes a difference. They have been innovative in the way the program is structured and implemented. I notice the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are impressed enough with their work to provide matching grants for donors.

Last Christmas my family and my Bible Study Class made a contribution to the Heifer International organization. It is the best way I can think of for enableing those in need throughout the world. The saying "Give a person a fish and they will eat for a day; teach them how to fish and they will eat for a lifetime; build a fishery and the community will eat for generations" speaks to how Heifer International is impacting people in over 50 countries.

Their programs stress the ownership and passing on the gift; also they incorporate an excellent training and sustainability mindset in the recepients of the gifts. Their training helps to build the "fishery" concept mentioned above. Having grown up on a farm in SC, I can relate to how interaction with farm animals gives you a sense of responsibilty and ownership.

I wonder what the world would be like if the resources that have been spent on wars had been used for programs like Heifer. I cannot say enough for this program; check it out there is a risk it may change your perspective on the world.

"Quality comes from Ownership and Integrity and appropriate Resources in a healthy Paradigm. - lhb"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Innovation …. Customer

The ISCORPIO Metaphor in M21C describes eight petals related to various aspects of a Business; this topic addresses two of the petals, Innovation and Customer. Looking at the ISCORPIO diagram the left pointing (West) facet represents Innovation and the right pointing facet (East) represents the Customer. These are fundamental to a successful business that builds competitive services and wares. As discussed in other entries of this blog, the Customer is the most important since they are the ones that pay money for the solutions of businesses. To stay competitive, Innovation becomes the primary focus.

The diagram shows degrees of freedom of innovation begin wide outward looking, then progressing to critical and then inward as the solution options become narrowly defined. This metaphor of the “Fish – Hook – Fry” was early metaphor thinking that illustrates this narrowing of the degrees of freedom in the innovation development process. Although this is a simple way of looking at the process it illustrates how innovation was part of the thinking phase for anyone wanting to eat. The goal is to eat with several ways of obtaining food such as fishing, hunting and gathering. In today’s society we scout out the grocery stores and choose items we want to have for a meal, purchase and then prepare the meal. You can see the many examples in grocery stores of companies building competitive service and wares. Some of these focus on packaging options to make their products more attractive for the consumer, such as portion sizes or preprocessed to save time in preparation.

On the lower curve we see the Discover, Understand and Focus process that is sometimes used in discussing the creative problem solving process. At the bottom of the diagram are shown the Research, Development, Production and Marketplace domains and the Innovative Team Hats of Scientist, Engineer, Technologist and Customer with the Business Hat managing the process. Try your hand at thinking through product development process where the above concepts are used. I hope this gives you some new ways of thinking inside and outside the box to build competitive services and wares.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Several years ago, I began thinking about SIN and what is the best way to understand it. After study and reflection, I wondered if there is a universal way of thinking about it in the Spiritual Paradigm as well as other paradigms such as Business, Nature and Personal Relations.

After much reflection and thought a metaphor evolved of two vectors. One pointing at a downward Southeast angle with SIN on it and another vector pointing at an upward Northeast angle with ACTS on it.

SIN = Selfish Insensitive Nature
ACTS = Acknowledge, Commit, Trust, Serve

Therefore as we look at the left side downward Southeast negative vector,
SIN excludes or ignores God, Nature, Customer or Others.

On right side we find an upward postive Northeast vector, ACTS which includes God, Nature, Customer or Others. The diagram shown dipicts the God case, but could be reflect Nature, Customer or Others.

First it is necessary to Acknowledge that there is a better way than SIN, once there is acknowledgement of a better way, then Commit and Trust to that way. At the point of the upward vector is Serve. Serving is the ultimate destination.

The behaviour of the SIN vector may be described as the author of Galations does:
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like…." Galations 5:19-21 NIV

The behaviour of the ACTS vector may be described as:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…." Galations 5:22-23 NIV

It appears to me that as we think of the Business Paradigm there are behaviours which would describe SIN and ACTS. If we exclude or ignore the Customer, Nature or Others in our thinking it seems this is the Selfish Insensitive Nature dominating. However, if we include the Customer, Nature or Others in our thinking then Service will dominate.

As I described this metaphor a few years ago in a group session, someone pointed out that the point where the vectors switch direction is the "crisis of decision." I feel that this also applies in the all paradigms as they shift directions. How this is managed can be critical to the way change is made.

With these thoughts of new ways of thinking inside and ourside the box, I believe we can place priority on the Service area which should result in building competitive services & wares of utmost quality.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PET Factor ....

Services & Wares with the PET Factor can give a competitive edge. What is the PET Factor?

It is a method of thinking about Customer Solutions that provide:
Performance Enableing Technology
Performance Enhancing Technology
Performance Enabling Tools
Performance Enhancing Tools
Performance Enhanced Techniques
Performance Enableing Techniques
Performance Enhanced Thinking
Personal Entertainment Technology
Personal Enjoyment Toys
ETC ........

Note use of any combination of words with PET that will aid in building competitive Services & Wares. You may create your own combination that fits your Customer solution. It is just a technique for thinking outside the box when it comes to building competitive solutions.

With established Technology, Enhancing the Technology may be the prime way to get a competitive edge. The continous improvement cycle fits this well. When new Technology is available that is robust enough to incorporate into your product, then it becomes Performance Enableing Technology. In the case of new Technology there may be a need to educate the Customer to its benefits.

Think in terms of your competitor's PET Factor and your PET Factor to your Customer's needs and best solutions.

May you have Performance Enhanced Thinking by using the PET Factor in building competitive solutions for your Customer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Civility …. Gracious Professionalism …. Quality

When I first ran across the term “Gracious Professionalism” in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), it seemed a strange expression. Recently, I found Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor indicating “Obviously it would not make sense to endorse ‘asinine professionalism’ or ‘gracious incompetence’…” In November 2007, Greensboro experienced the NC FIRST Lego League (FLL) competition at the Coliseum which promotes “Gracious Professionalism” in 9-14 age children. It promotes gracious attitudes and behaviors that are win-win. They learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. FIRST stresses, “in the long run, gracious professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life.”

As I have thought about this it ties in nicely with “Quality comes from Ownership with Integrity and appropriate Resources in a healthy Paradigm”, a view which I feel is the essence of quality. Even if we have ownership with integrity and appropriate resources, we will fall short in quality if we are operating in an unhealthy paradigm. The Gracious Professionalism addresses the issue of promoting a healthy paradigm. Civility also plays an important part in promoting a healthy paradigm. We all have a responsibility for striving for a healthy paradigm.

If we had more dashes of “Civility, Gracious Professionalism and Quality” described above, maybe we wouldn’t be experiencing many of the problems we have in our community and world. Just a thought!

Post Script:
In the September 19, 2009 Greensboro News & Record, the article "Tone down the rudeness, Americans urged" caught my eye. Reading it made me think of this blog written over a year ago. I liked what I saw especially "Civility is about protecting all of us.... You don't have to be wrong to be right." This fits into what I discussed above regarding promoting a healthy paradigm. The Civility Project is a step toward this end. You can sign a pledge if that fits your desires.
Post Script:
While reading Sarah Osborne's article in December 2010 SELifeStyle, I discovered another website OperationRespect.org.  Their Mission "To assure each child and youth a respectful, safe and compassionate climate of learning where their academic, social and emotional development can take place free of bullying, ridicule and violence."  I add it to this since it promotes a Healthy Paradigm.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

... Product of Process

You are the Product of the Process!

While teaching at NCA&T, the issue of testing was always of high interest to students. What type test, what will you put on the test, why do you use essay questions?

I tried to get the students to thinking outside the box, by words similar to the following: "You are Customers, because you or someone is paying for this education, so I must think of you as Very Important Customers. You are also Partners in the learning Process, since you contribute to the learning process and environment. But most important is you are the Product of the Process and your investment is dependent on your Ownership of the Product. So if you concern yourself with the Product you shouldn't have to worry about the tests." Each class would get a variation of this.

No matter what process we find ourselves part of we are partners in the process and contribute to the Product of the process; this may be Services or Wares for a Customer Solution to his needs. By being a partner in the process we at the same time are developing our own product, ourselves. This is why it is so important to think on a higher plane and see development of the product by thinking inside and outside the box.

I would hope that this type of thinking will improve Services & Wares for the the Customer and in the process will enhance your product, yourself.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Building Competitive .....

Building Competitive Services & Wares can be improved by using Metaphors for the 21st Century (M21). M21C is the umbrella term for including various metaphors into a global framework of new ways of thinking inside and outside the box.

Customers that will pay for Services or Wares from a Business is the basic premise of an economy. The Business must have Resources managed in way that provide Services or Wares that meet a desire or need of the Customer. This also requires Sources that provide materials or services for the Business to produce the the service or ware that Customer will pay money for. Another element that must always be considered is the Competition. The Customer makes the choice to use your services or wares or those of the Competition. Therefore it is essential to keep the Competition in mind for what they now provide as well as what they may provide in the future.

Important to having Competitive Services and Wares is having an Innovative Engine which can Research, Develop, Produce and Market solutions that meet the needs of Customers. You can find information and examples of metaphors that aid in new ways of thinking inside and outside the box at www.bcswonline.com. It is our premise that the tools of M21C will provide a competitive edge when used apporpriately.

Quality comes from ....

"Quality comes from Ownership with Integrity and appropriate Resources in a healthy Paradigm - lhb"

An "O" and an "I" make a "Q". Ownership, Integrity and appropriate Resources are like a three legged stool, lack of any one will result in the stool toppling over. These three were my beginning thoughts on Quality; for a couple of years, they seemed to be the essence of Quality. However, it dawned on me in the 1990's that you could have all three, but still not achieve Quality. Whenever you have an unhealthy paradigm, where the various facets are at odds with one another, Quality suffers. It doesn't take a lot of smarts to recognize an unhealthy paradigm, where the various agents and resources are not in sync working toward the common objective. This insight revised my view to what it is now; where it has remained as a solid and robust metaphor over two decades.

In terms of math this can be represented as Q = Function(O,I,R,P)
Q = Quality,
O = Ownership,
I = Integrity,
R = appropriate Resources
P = healthy Paradigm

I have shared this view of Quality with many people inside and outside the US over the past couple of decades; they have confirmed the above is the essential ingredients of Quality. It doesn't replace the many approaches to Quality, but it complements them and allows it to be thought of in the simplest terms.

It is interesting to observe how a high Quality paradigm is operating in a well oilled manner can almost suddenly become unheathly by the deteriation of Ownership, Integrity or appropriate Resources. To return it to a healthy Paradigm takes considerable effort and time. During the time my Dad spent several years in long term care facilities, I observed a very Quality operation deteriate into an unhealthy paradigm. Usually it was because of deficients in the Ownership, Integrity or appropriate Resources. To get it back on track took considerable efforts and time.