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In This Issue
Lines and Ropes
It's The Journey . . .
"Who Said This?" Contest
Quick Links
Tweets for You
I send 15-20 tweets a week with links to useful articles and research; here are a few of my latest, including links:

Yes, measure what matters. 'Looks like "US Well Being" headed in the wrong direction.

"Connect, communicate and collaborate" - chilling account of 9/11 and leadership lessons from FDNY Chief - via @AddThis

Truth-telling - critical for authenticity: "Don't Sugarcoat Your Feedback" Tiffany Cooper Gueye, BELL's Chief -

A wonderful survival story: the #9/11 "Survivor Tree" -

#Authenticity abuse - NYT "#Authentic? Get Real" - My take on authenticity in:

@frankshearer and: "No snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible." - George Burns

In China, a whole different slant on: "Integrity - it's about execution." - Corruption, and Weibo's Rise

Congratulations 2011 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award finalists!

'Love it - "Food with #integrity;" 'way to go Chipotle: #Chipotle strengthens buy-local stance -

Realistic expectations, balance and staying healthy - some antidotes for "PVS" Beating the Post-Summer Letdown via @WSJ

On purpose, moral landscape and why Mulally named CEO of the year: @BNET

Worthy of consideration this Labor Day: Why we're unhappier at work than ever and what to do about it, in NY Times:

Your 14-Step Roadmap To Becoming An Influencer : Marketing : American Express OPEN Forum

Unfortunate demo that just because it's not illegal doesn't make it right - Useless Pharmaceutical Studies, Real Harm:

What are your potential "disrupters?" Do you have contingency plans?

Fall is probably a good time for all, not just colleges,to think of our true #purpose.

Good advice here: 6 Tips For Taking Criticism Gracefully : Lifestyle: American Express OPEN Forum

Party Ends at For-Profit Schools via @WSJ What if you're a good company in a bad crowd? On my blog:

If business followed this West Point code, they would have far fewer rules, regulations and oversight to complain about -

How obfuscation and non-tansparency affect an industry and corporation: Scandal Taints Japan Nuclear Sector

Great advice here for responsible governance

2011 Edelman #Trust Barometer: 56% trust business do do what's right; 52% trust government to do what's right -

Random statistic: 53% of executives don't believe their company's strategy will lead to success - coherence is key:

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If you missed it, below is my latest blog, Lines and Ropes.  Since some may not have seen August's article, the introduction of It's the Journey, Not Just the Destination, is reproduced here; you can read the entire article by clicking the link at the end.  Be sure to enter the "Who Said This?" contest
Lines and Ropes
September 13 blog
Rope 1 jpg

"What's the difference between a line and a rope?"  That is one of my favorite questions to ask new LOON crew members.  The answer is that a rope just sits there, with no purpose or use yet, like a pile of rope on the dock or extra rope in your locker.  A line is rope with a purpose that's put to use, like a dock line or halyard for raising sails.   


On a recent sail we got to talking about how there are "lines" and "ropes" in organizations, too.  You know them; the lines are usually Lines 1 jpgengaged in some constructive pursuit, and the ropes seem to just sit there with little meaningful purpose or activity.  On some teams, lines sometimes take most of the strain, including work that some of the ropes should be doing.


It's not always a rope's fault that it lacks purpose or isn't engaged.  I think it was in Robert Mager's book Analyzing Performance Problems (with the catchy sub-title "You Really Oughta' Wanna") that I first heard there are four main reasons some people (lines) don't do what we'd like:

  • They don't know what.  For lack of familiarity with a task or setting, they may simply not know what needs doing.  They need an explanation and clear expectations.
  • They don't know how.  This is an educational or training opportunity.  Inexperienced crew members likely know that Bowline knot jpggood knots are important, but no matter how many times they are asked to tie a bowline or clove hitch, if they aren't shown how it won't happen. 
  • They don't want to.  This is a motivational issue.  I am not especially motivated to climb my mast or dive in Lake Superior to free a fouled line, and fortunately so far have had willing and able crew to perform that task!   If there was imminent danger that required me to do so, though, I would be motivated.  Sometimes people simply don't want to because it's not their thing; there's an interest or skills mismatch.  
  • There are obstacles.  Earlier this summer LOON's engine water pump blew on our way to Isle Royale.  No matter how motivated and able we were to continue our journey, we had to stay put in Grand Marais' harbor until a replacement pump was shipped.  Likewise, if for example a worker's attempts to assume more responsibility or improve processes are constantly thwarted by an insecure boss, meaningful contributions slow down.

Maybe this counts as an "obstacle" or it's a fifth reason that someone is a rope instead of a line in our organizations:  Lines wear out if not  

properly cared for, and can snap (at very inopportune times) if Rope frayedover-loaded.  I'm afraid that many of our one-time best lines, the doers and innovators in our organizations, are getting worn out and close to the breaking (quitting) point.  Given downsizing and relentless cost-reduction efforts, lines that before held their own are now performing the work of two.  Everything seems to change at dizzying speeds; social networks are disrupted and work routines altered, often without reasons about why or needed support.    

Here are some tips if we want more lines instead of just ropes in our organization:

  • Help people understand not only what needs to be done, but why it is important.  Give them more of the context about how their contribution tie in with the bigger picture.
  • Satisfy the desire that many have for meaning and a sense of purpose.  What needs do your products and services fulfill?  What would be missing without your organization's and their contributions?  What's the vision, where is the organization headed, and why is that important?
  • Assure that they have the necessary preparation , and provide training and support, to perform as required.
  • Make your organization's culture and values visible, and encourage self-awareness to facilitate the best matches. 
  • Remove obstacles - inefficient layouts, unnecessary rules and procedures, unsupportive or intimidating co-workers, outdated tools or technology, bureaucracy, etc.  Ask yourself (or better yet ask others) what you might be doing that's getting in the way.
  • Create "truth-telling" cultures.  Make it easy for people to talk about how they feel like lines but want to be ropes, and engage in problem-solving with them about how.
  • Be a "servant leader."  We may be "the captain of our ship," but instead of focusing mainly on how others can help us get where we want to go, focus more on how we can help others help us reach a shared destination.  It's a subtle, but important, distinction.

Are you feeling more like a "rope" than a "line" these days? What action will you take to re-engage and contribute more value?  

How might you help any "ropes" whom you work with be more like "lines"? 


 Fair winds! 



It's The Journey, Not Just The Destination
August 11 blog

I just returned from ten days sailing Lake Superior.  After crossing from Bayfield to Grand Marais, our plan was to take three or four days circumnavigating Isle Royale, one of my favorite destinations.  Five miles outside of Grand Marais' harbor LOON's water pump broke, and with absolutely no wind we were dead in the water.  The bad news was breaking down, waiting three days in Grand Marais for a part from Massachusetts and having to change our plans. The good news was that it didn't happen in a storm, in the middle of Lake Superior or on a rocky lee shore of Isle Royale.  Also, since we were basically bobbing like a cork just outside Grand Marais' harbor, likely presenting a navigational hazard, North Superior's Coast Guard kindly towed us into port.  (Not to mention that if you're stranded anyplace, Grand Marais is a pretty good deal!)  


Whenever sailing LOON, especially on longer cruises, I almost always learn something new about seamanship, and usually lessons that translate to leadership and life.  Lesson #1 on this cruise was "count Lon and Coast Guard 1your blessings, and make the most of the hand you're dealt."  Not only were we spared the danger of breaking down in a far worse place; we learned about water pumps, got to explore Grand Marais as never before, rested up and discovered a master marine mechanic (Randy at A&E Marine in Grand Marais.)  As we've heard, "wherever you go (or don't go,) there you are!"  I was reminded that there are simply some things that we cannot control or plan for; we just have to deal with them and adapt.


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Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings.


All the best!,

Al Watts

inTEgro, Inc.

ph: (612) 827-2363