I live in Colorado however, my work has brought me into diverse learning communities throughout North America, Asia and Europe–from inner cities to rural communities. My professional experience spans business, education, the arts, and community service. My formal education has involved a blend of traditional and non-traditional studies, integrating a true “learning-spirit.” My life’s work exemplifies that spirit through collaborative learning, values-aligned leadership and knowledge sharing where competitive advantage is characterized not only by return on investment, but also, ethical conduct and a commitment to personal and social responsibility and the common good.
I am behavioral technologist with over twenty years of experience as an entrepreneur with extensive experience within the field of organizational behavior (OB) and leadership development. I have also served as a technical trainer, instructional designer and change management consultant for multi-national Fortune 100 companies. These organizations represent a mix of diverse business sectors including; entertainment, telecommunications, transportation, medical, technical, financial services, governmental and educational endeavors. I received my undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Regis University in Denver with Honors where I studied cognitive psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I hold a second Master degree in Organizational Development and a Ph.D. in Human & Organizational Systems from the Fielding Graduate University at Santa Barbara, California. My dissertation title is; A multidimensional model for building knowledge assets: Applying socio-technical systems (STS) to online action research. I am published and cited in major peer-reviewed journals. I am also certified in interpersonal communications/group dynamics from the Anchor Point Institute.
I grew up in a blue collar, middle class suburb of Chicago in the backdrop of the turbulent 60’s. My father, a WW II Merchant Marine veteran, mechanical engineer and international business executive was, and still is, an overachiever. He taught me to always do my best in every endeavor and never, ever give up! Amazingly, within this “pull yourself up from your bootstraps” ethos, my father integrated faith (edification), that is, a healthy understanding of the bible with respect for research-based evidence through a commitment to rigorous education and lifelong learning. Attending Sunday school was compulsory. However, carving out intentional space for quality family time, homework and prayer, was much less structured and perhaps even somewhat morally confusing. Nevertheless, education, knowledge, doing good deeds (ethical conduct), preceded “feeling good” about oneself. This integral perspective helped frame my worldview. Accordingly, my experience with collaboration began at an early age. At school, in church and in my small suburban community playing with other neighbor’s kids, building crude and simple soapbox “mobile” constructions, forming clubs, and participating in team sports including, basketball, baseball, soccer, street hockey, and scouting. All these interactions helped frame the experience of collaboration, working in concert together to achieve individual and common goals. I became aware of how successes and failures could be influenced by significant others, prestige, power and authority as well as, so called, casual bumps, friendships that randomly came and went. I discovered in reflexive introspection from the advantage of my adult senior years, these seemingly random encounters (bumps) were not so coincidental, but rather, more predictable. These casual friendships had profound influence on decisions, for better or worse. Were these so-called bumps, stepping stones or stumbling blocks? Obviously, the choices we make have consequences. I have learned to choose my friends and business associations more wisely.
The Sprit of Collaboration:
Although natural abilities, physical appearance, social skills and intellect can help get one noticed, it is often other less obvious and more implicit circumstances that lead to one’s position, title, authority and opportunities. Oftentimes, leadership is assigned and people find themselves in over their heads and don’t know it, but there is a strange tension. Most leaders are “situational leaders” simply responding to the problem in front of them. This is also referred to in the research literature as, Laissez-faire leadership. Most leaders are uniquely unqualified to collaborate. Indeed, collaboration can be more enchanting than rewarding and so stepping into this realm is almost always risky. Collaboration is not always what it is cracked up to be. The process can yield uncertain, surprising and spurious results. It is therefore important to understand the how, why and when to approaching collaboration before engaging in it willy-nilly or haphazardly. But when executed properly the benefits can far outweigh the risks. Anyone that has ever successfully organized a new entrepreneurial venture will tell you that collaboration is absolutely necessary for initiating the plan, getting the team focused and co-creating breakthrough learning for innovation. Entrepreneurs have the gift of casting vision and inspiring others to want to come along for the journey. Yet, we have also witnessed how risk averse people get caught off guard and end up in the dust. This is true in any field of endeavor, from artistic creative endeavors, to medical, engineering, business and technical including military and state governance; innovation rules! And collaboration is essential for co-creating and facilitating innovation and competitive advantage.
I have felt called from an early age to explore the interconnections between collaboration and innovation. Even the most gifted and talented athlete, as example, must learn to play well with others and pass the ball to develop innovative opportunities, openness and goal achievement. We all choose to either build castles or kick sand. Indeed, it takes a team, a community and a family to experience the spirit of collaboration. Collaboration does not exist in a vacuum. It’s not a concept, idea or leadership style. It is process that is both challenging and rewarding and it is both an art and science.
I discovered that almost everyone has ideas or a vision, but only a very few have the inward self-confidence and outwardly inspiration to put forth the cultivation and effort necessary to execute and turn ideas into a cohesive plan for action, to share ideas openly, execute–test and measure the effectiveness and impact of an idea. There is a big difference between risk taking and reckless indulgence. My focus now is on helping others find their voice and live out their true “calling”, vocation and purpose.