AuthorSean P. Murray

Vision is Fixed, Strategy is Flexible

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The movie “Lincoln” (2012) focuses on a critical period during the Civil War – January 1865 – when President Lincoln makes a high-stakes attempt to pass the Thirteenth Amendment through the House of Representatives. It was clear by this time in the war that the Union would prevail. Lincoln thought it imperative that the U.S. Constitution abolish slavery once and for all, so that as southern states were readmitted to the Union, there was no question about the status of African...

When Technology Meets Community

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A co-op grocery chain in Seattle began dismantling their self-checkout kiosks this month. After considerable investment in the technology over the past few years, the PCC Community Market, made the decision to remove the automated stations.  Here is how the store describes the reasoning behind the decision: “A kiosk doesn’t create community or connections. So we wanted to take those out so that when someone comes into our stores, they have a human connection with someone and an interaction...

The Power of We versus Me

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At the age of twenty, Art Unruh flew 50 missions into enemy territory in the European theater of World War II. The first six missions he served as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Protecting the B-17 from all threats behind the plane was a dangerous assignment, but it wasn’t the most dangerous – that belonged to the waist gunners. The waist gunner had to stand, which exposed them to more enemy fire. For the next 46 missions, Army Staff Sgt. Art Unruh served as a waste gunner, and...

In Search of the Good Life

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“Happiness is what you get right before you want more happiness.” – Don Draper, Mad Men As humans, we are not very good at predicting how future events will impact our life. We tend to overestimate the degree to which misfortune (divorce, loss of a job, death of a loved one) will set us back. However, when you talk with someone who has lived through such experiences, you’ll find they came through the ordeal intact. Humans have a tremendous capacity for adaptation. It’s a survival mechanism...

Jeff Bezos and the Role of Intuition in Decision Making

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When it comes to decision making, Jeff Bezos is quite comfortable relying on his intuition. This may come as a surprise given Amazon’s reputation for data analytics. Bezos has said in the past, “Our success at Amazon is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week, per day.” Judging from this quote alone one might imagine that employees at Amazon are like scientist in the lab, carefully tracking results from experiments and analyzing the date to make each decision...

Use this Richard Feynman Technique to Increase Your Team’s Productivity

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As World War II broke out, the physicist Richard Feynman was recruited to Los Alamos to assist in the development of the first atomic bomb. He was tasked with calculating the energy released by the nuclear explosion. Machines were brought in from IBM to assist in the task. Although state of art in their day, they were crude mechanical calculators that used punch cards to execute complicated calculations. The Army dispatched a group called the Special Engineering Detachment to operate the...

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Team Chemistry

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In the movie, Miracle about the 1980 US men’s Olympic hockey team, there is a scene where head coach Herb Brooks is evaluating talent. At one point he turns to his assistant coach Craig Patrick and says: “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.” Brooks was searching for that elusive element: Team Chemistry. What is Team Chemistry exactly? It is something that has vexed coaches, players and fans for ages. It appears that successful teams have Team Chemistry...

50 Days of Silence: Lessons from Adventurer Erling Kagge

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In the early 1990s, Erling Kagge completed the first unsupported solo expedition to the South Pole. He covered 815 miles in 50 days. During that time he had no radio contact and no support from the outside world. He was completely alone. What hit him the hardest was the silence. At first his mind was racing with thoughts and worries. He found the silence disturbing. “Everything seemed completely flat and white, kilometre after kilometre all the way to the horizon…Eventually, in...

If You Want to Succeed, First Define Success

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In 1934, an English teacher in South Bend, IN was discouraged by parents who complained when their son or daughter received a “C.”  It seems “C” was perfectly fine for their neighbor’s children, because it was average and the neighbor’s children were, of course, average. However, for their own children, a “C” was disappointing, and the parents would try to make the teacher and student feel like they had failed. The teacher didn’t feel this was right. He could see that...

What the Amish can Teach Us about Technology

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I had always understood the Amish to be a community that chose to live permanently in the technological past. That is, at a certain point in time, the community said “no more” to new technology.  From that point forward new technology was rejected out of hand. However, the Amish relationship to technology is more complicated. The author Kevin Kelly has written about this.  The Amish are constantly evolving with respect to technology. Thus, the Amish don’t use cars or bicycles for...

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