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Oh Adobe March 25, 2013

Posted by wooddickinson in service, Tom Peters.
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Shantanu Narayen

Shantanu Narayen

Oh Adobe. Listen, Tom Peters says that the two most important points of contact that strongly influence a customer’s opinion about your business is shaped in their coming in and their going out. I use to run movie theatres and that stuck with me. A simple, “Thank you for coming,” from an usher as they were leaving or better yet from a floor manager could and probably would leave the customer with a good feeling about your establishment.

This idea doesn’t end with movie theatres. My wife and I went to eat at Capital Grille one evening. The food and service were 5 stars. We were set IN a side room with a large table of guests in it as well. We enjoyed our dinner and were trying to talk over coffee and the other table was becoming very loud. I don’t mind others having a good time but when their good time starts to diminish mine a bargain must be struck. My wife asked our waitress if there was any way to ask the other table to hold it down a bit. The waitress left and after a few minutes returned with our check and apologized for the other tables behavior and thanked us for coming in.

When I looked at the check, Capitol Grille had completely comped the entire meal plus drinks. I was dumbstruck. They did this without making even the littlest deal out of it. I left a tip guessing the check should have been around $90 and we left.  As we left the manager thanked us for coming.  Ask me if I was impressed. This was WOW customer service and put Capitol Grille on my favorites list at OpenTable.com. This is how lifetime customers are made.

Compare this to a recent problem I had with Adobe. I’m a subscriber to the new Adobe Cloud service. It’s a great idea. I pay a monthly fee, get access to all Creative Suite software and updates that aren’t available to people buying a boxed version of CS6. I like the idea of paying a little every month and not wondering when the next update will come out and how much it will cost me. I have also downloaded parts of the CS suites that I didn’t have before and used them.

To make this all work Adobe created the Software Manager. You use for updating, installing and keeping everything running at 100%. One day when I ran this program it came up in Japanese. I went to the change language option and set it back to English but nothing happened. It was stuck in Japanese. Worse yet, this corrupted program started deleting CS6 software from my computer. I fought with this for about three weeks, reloading software, uninstalling the Program Manager and installing again and I couldn’t get things back to normal.

So, with great trepidation I called Adobe support.  I won’t bore you with an account of all that happened just trust me when I say I spent better that 8 hours on the phone (mostly on hold) until I finally found a support person who knew enough to help me truly fix the problem. I’d had two other support staff tell me it was all fixed only to find out they we’re wrong. The last support fellow seemed to be more than a tech reading from a book. All except the last fellow I talked with was in India. On my second call I asked if he would transfer me to an American because I was just having too much difficulty understanding what he was saying. I was told all support is in India so he couldn’t.

Now I have nothing against India or their people but the accent can be very difficult to navigate and I’m good at it. This is an issue in itself. A huge one but not the one I want to talk about now. After weeks of using a faulty product (work doesn’t stop), I ended spending better than 8 hours on the phone with Adobe, I felt they owed me something. So, I wrote a letter to the CEO and mailed it off. You heard me right. I looked up his name, street address, then typed it up, printed it on stationary, signed it and put a stamp on. Then I even found a mailbox and mailed it. My thinking was if he received a letter from a customer not just an email he would take notice.

Here’s the letter:

“Dear Shantanu Narayen:

I want to inform you that I had an extremely upsetting failure of your Adobe Cloud. The “application manager” decided to only run in Japanese and started randomly deleting applications.  I made a call to support and after their claim that “it’s fixed,” the problem persisted.  Another call to support elicited the same claim and again the problem persisted. A third call, using a trick to obtain support without the two-hour hold time yielded a fellow who finally understood my plight and with his help the problem was resolved.  At least for now.  That call took two hours by itself.

The total time spent on these calls, failures, on hold, failure in your call back system, over eight hours.  Can you believe that?  An entire work day was waisted trying to correct a problem that was obviously one created by your software.  You say how do I know it was your software?  It wasn’t until ALL things Adobe were sanitized from my disk and a fresh start taken to load and run the application manager did it start working correctly.  No changes were needed on my system settings.

More that the eight hours was lost with this fiasco.  I lost almost a weeks worth of work that I had to make up with some very late nights.  Some of us do try to make a living using your software and these kinds of incidents are unacceptable.  I am a subscriber to Adobe Cloud and what I want in return for the lost productivity, possibly a lost job and time spent with your support failing to correct the problem is one year of Adobe Cloud services added to my account at no charge. My account user ID IS XXXX.  The order number is …….5339DT.  I’m currently paying $32.70 per month (tax included) so I don’t feel $392.40 will break your company.  That seems like an extremely fair amount of compensation for all the aggravation, lost productivity, late hours and hardship caused by the failure of your software, and support team.  Please contact me with verification of this ASAP.  Email me at the above address or call my cell. 

Sincerely,”

Well, I was wrong. I received an email from Shivangi Moitra of Adobe Global Customer Service Escalation Team. What ever that is. In my letter I’d asked for a year free of the cloud service to compensate for my time, aggravation and their repeated failures at fixing the problem.  Shivangi informed me they were sorry for my problems and they would credit me 60 days not the 365 I’d asked for. Now do you think they just rubbed salt in the wound? You bet. I email Ms Moitra:

Hi Wood,

My name is Shivangi Moitra from Adobe Global Customer Service Escalation Team and I am contacting you in response to your letter addressed to Mr Narayen dated 8th March 2013.

Kindly accept my apologies on behalf of Adobe Systems for the inconvenience you have experienced with the Creative Cloud subscription. We will certainly use this as an opportunity to improve the quality of service we provide to our customers and the appropriate people in management have been notified of your concerns.

Since you were not able to use the subscription for certain days due to technical glitche (SIC), please note that the subscription account under Adobe order # …5668198 has been credited with 60 days and the next bill date for the subscription is updated as 16th June 2013.

Please let me know if you have further queries and I shall be happy to assist.”

Well I did have further queries!

I wrote:

Shivangi,

Of course I will gladly take the 60 day extension to my account but I asked for 365 days. I also wrote to Mr. Narayen. I’m saddened he’s too busy for one of his customers. Remember we lowly customers are the only reason there is an Adobe, I’m just sayin’.

Look, I took the time to craft a real letter on paper and everything then mailed it. Who does that? Me I guess. I’m a writer but for the effort I expended writing a real letter then mailing it to him I was hoping he would see just how upset I was. I mean really, who uses real paper letters anymore?

Maybe I did a poor job in my effort to transfer my experience to him. I mean I spent well over an entire workday in the effort to get a problem fixed that I didn’t create. By the way, get rid of your music while on hold. I about went crazy listening to it and that’s no joke. It’s just one more piece of grief I suffered trying to get your software to work.

What does it cost for you to give me a year of free Adobe Cloud service? Really. I think not much for the goodwill that it would have created toward your company.

In my perfect world what I would have received is a letter from Mr Narayen expressing his sorrow at Adobe’s failure to meet my needs.  Then he would have said, sure a year on me is only fair in trying to build trust and a lifetime customer.

See that would have been something and you bet everyone I could get to listen would have heard about how well Adobe responded.”

She called me and said 90 days was the max she could do even after explaining to her twice why I was unhappy with this outcome. Why didn’t she do the 90 days from the start? Why did the CEO respond? Why doesn’t Adobe care about customer service?

Her final email:

Further to our telephone conversation today, please be advised that I have credited the suibscription (sic) with additional 30 days and the next bill date for the subscription is updated as 16th July 2013.

We certainly understand the inconvenience caused due to the subscription not working for you. We have noted this situation strongly and your feedback will help Adobe guide ongoing efforts to improve our services.

Assuring you best products and services in future.

Regards,

Shivangi Moitra”

Adobe has technically superior products. That’s what they’re counting on. Kind of reminds me of Microsoft and IBM. A “Be happy we’re around. All other products stink and no matter the hassle; you need us.”

So, this is the state of customer service at Adobe. If there was an equal alternative I’d be gone. They aren’t interested in lifetime customers but I already knew that based on the price of upgrades over the years. This was just another confirmation of my feelings.

Folks, we have to do better. Adobe has to do better. Take a cue from Capitol Grille. What did it cost them to comp my dinner? Knowing their grade of product is in the top 5% of beef in the nation I’d say a lot. Now what would it have cost Adobe to comp a year of cloud service. Next to nothing. The goodwill from the gift of a year extension would have way out weighed any cost.

That’s it. Wake up Adobe. Nothing’s forever.

Service? What service. June 21, 2012

Posted by wooddickinson in 1st National Bank of Omaha, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Flo, KitchenAid, Life Coach, Progressive, service, Systems Thinking, Thermador, Tom Peters.
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For the most part customer-service has become an oxymoron(1). As of late when I call customer-service the answer is “no way.” For example, we have a KitchenAid trash compactor sort of for the last five years. I say that because we’re on our third one. In five years I remind you. For the last of those five years the compactor has worked about 20% of the time. That’s probably generous. The same part would break and the unit wouldn’t stop trying to work when it was supposed to. It would crush the trash then the Ram would come back up but it would never stop. We’d have to jerk the door open to stop it. Beyond that if we put trash in and close the door it would start up on its own. I would finally switch it off and get our huge trash can from the garage. It looked good in our remodeled kitchen.

We’d call the service man and after the customary wait of 3 days he’d show up between 9 and noon. Say the same part needed repair, call and leave while we all waited for the part to come in. What I thought was a hoot was instead of the serviceperson returning to the shop to get the part it would be mailed to our home! We’d have to call the service company and do all this again. He’d put the part in and with in 2 days it would do the same thing.

Finally after a year they seem to have fixed the stupid compactor. I called “customer-service” and told them I’d paid for a service contract for the last year and had virtually no use of the compactor so now that it is “fixed” I wanted a year service-contract for free. Does that sound like I’m asking too much?

I was. I got told by everyone up the chain of command, “No way.” In those words. Really, that’s what they’d say. I finally got ahold of a person in the corporate office and repeated my request. I asked if Mrs. KitchenAid would mind having this unit in her house? I’d pay the shipping and installation. The response was I’d get my free year service-contract. It took me hours to accomplish this so I wouldn’t recommend KitchAid for anything.

Now I’m going through the same things with Thermador for a gas range and freezer. They haven’t worked properly since day one. Now 5 years down the road I offered the same deal. I’d pay shipping and installation to see if Mrs. CEO of Thermador was happy with these products. Of course she wouldn’t so some repair company is coming out today to “evaluate” the units. In the words of Queen Victoria, “We are not amused.”

This week my online banking with 1st National Bank of Omaha stopped working. Calls to customer-service only told me I had lost several accounts and my wife could not talk to anyone because she didn’t have my social security number. She is on all the accounts by the way.

Again I just asked for the president. I got the ubiquitous “someone” in the president’s office. I find that so funning. When I was president of Dickinson Theatres that someone in the president’s office was me. I didn’t have any “people.” I asked this women where the president was and she said she didn’t know! You think I was really talking to someone in the president’s office? I don’t think so. How insulting. She did fix my online banking though. I’ll give her that.

Okay so that’s KitchenAid, Thermador, and 1st National Bank of Omaha. All with no can do customer-service that required hours on the phone and requests to speak to the presidents but the presidents were all to busy doing something more important. Maybe playing golf.

Now it is Progressive Insurance (thankfully not my insurance company). Anyone know Flo’s number?

The point here is simple. The most important person in all of these companies isn’t the CEO or President. It’s me. The Customer. If I wasn’t around where would they be? Mr. And Mrs. KitchenAid wouldn’t have a job. You get my point! I’m so over this kind of “customer-service” I’m sick. It’s everywhere. No one can answer a phone, no president of any company will talk to a lowly customer. I guess that’s like getting your hand’s dirty. Oh god not another customer!

Help me Tom Peters. You’re my only hope…

 ________________

1 a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly : something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements (military intelligence) – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Where do ideas come from? June 7, 2012

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, family coaching, Family Crisis Group, FCG, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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I was watching a YouTube video of Tony Faddall addressing the question, “Where do ideas come from?” For Tony the answer was FRUSTRATION. I think that’s a great source for someone involved in engineering. My daughter was in the Apple Store a couple of weeks ago with her new iPad. What she wanted to do is create a document and have it be on a cloud so she can update that document from any computer where the file resides. I’m a writer so this seemed elemental. But currently it can’t be done in a transparent fashion. The tec helping her said that he understood her concept and it was a good idea. Well Duh. We all live with frustration in our daily lives and it is getting worse.

I’ve noticed over the last year a disturbing trend in large corporations. For instance, our KitchenAid trash compactor has been broken most of time while my maintenance contract was ticking away. The rest of the time we just sat thinking about calling the repairman. So when I got the renewal contract in the mail I called KitchenAid service and told them the situation and suggested they should give me another year on my contract for free. Now what I just did was ask the person on the other end of the phone to walk to the moon. So, the answer I got was “Impossible.” No way. We don’t do that. Ever.

So with the challenge set, I went on a mission to get the “impossible” done. I called supervisors and got the same Impossible. Now my wife had been around with them before so she had a number for someone in the corporate office. I called her and suddenly the impossible became possible.

This super negative ‘there’s no way in hell’ attitude seems to be permeating business. When I ran Dickinson Theatres I’d ask the receptionist to direct all complaint calls to me the President/CEO. I had fun solving their problems and keeping a happy customer. I guess that’s old fashioned.

Frustration? Yes it breeds ideas and sometimes a smart person may solve the problem if he/she doesn’t get fired for doing so. Now I’m a creative guy. I write movies, short stories, books and do photography. These ideas come from a bit different place. What I say is, the day dreamers in the room will probable have an idea and do something great. Those who couldn’t daydream if they tried need not apply.

I find my ideas come from a convergence of information that at first may not look related. I also love the “what if…” game. The point is creativity is not just the property of a few but the property of all no matter if it’s computer design or programming or painting or writing a novel. Here is a good LINK to start.

For you writers out there a fun tool is The Observation Deck.

The number one biggest helper in the creative department is curiosity. My computer defines curiosity as a” strong desire to know or learn something.” Curiosity may have killed the cat but it truly is the well from which ideas flow.

Control June 17, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, family coaching, Life Coach.
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It’s Friday and a wonderful rainy Friday to boot. As I woke this morning I mourned the fact I couldn’t stay in bed and enjoy the sound of the rain and just relax and think. This is becoming a huge problem not only for me but all of us I fear.

I met a friend for breakfast then came home to sort through tax issues before going in to work. Work is something I’m trying to move to my home. Having an office these days is silly. It’s an expense that returns little value and mostly is a pain due to landlords who are rude and ungrateful. I have plenty of space in my home to work and Starbucks or Panera for my meeting rooms.

The real problem I have (and I don’t think I’m alone) is time and its organization plus managing my to do list. The reason is the constant flow of interruptions. In 7 Habits we talk about actions we take being broken into 4 quadrants. The idea is if we can spend more time in planning and preparation then we’ll reduce the emergency issues that eat away at our time. Urgency. I think maybe the world has driven us beyond this simple idea. It isn’t simple urgent issues that beg for my time and my control over stopping urgent issues isn’t just a matter of better planning and preparation. It now has become the decision not to play in this relentless world of immediate gratification.

I write an email and expect an answer immediately. I text and wait for the reply. I am accosted with volumes of blogs I’m made to feel are essential to my success as well as leaving comments, blogging myself and doing everything just right to build my “social presence.” All of this could fall under planning and preparation when it feels totally urgent and might just be a total waste of time.

Confusion is what has been created in the world today. I look at my kids who are in college and high school and they are knee deep in a world that exercises more control on them than they have on themselves.

I think maybe it is time to look at our models of time management and recreate them to match the chaos that is the environment we currently live in. I look at my father-in-law’s life (now in his 80s) and he has none of this chaos not because it isn’t all around him but he doesn’t choose to respond to it. Kids growing up in it right now are wiring their brains to contain this chaos but at the price of personal relationships and times of reflection and peace. Instead they withdraw into activities that are time wasting. Escape I think. Excessive sleeping, television, texting and general disconnection to real life and the social and political realities around them.

How to change this? A total reboot of the social system? Abandoning the Internet? Something must change and maybe it is one person at a time deciding your problems are not my problems. I start my day doing what I want. Phone off, no email running, and looking at my to do list with intentionality. Planning to do email for thirty minutes or so before lunch and again at 4:30 in the afternoon. Ignore text until lunch time. No Internet except for directed activities needed to fulfill my to dos.

If this leaves Facebook not visited today, so be it. My “social presence” isn’t important to the real work I want to accomplish today.

When Life Is Chaos! May 24, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, Hope, Systems Thinking.
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It’s really funny (or aggravating) when life decides to take a detour from where you think you are going. I’m in the middle of a huge detour right now. These trials are upsetting and aggravating primarily because you think you have a handle on life and a focus on what you want to create and how to do it. Then life happens. Out of your control some system or person decides to throw you into chaos. Like when I came to work the other day and I turn on my computer only to find my DSL line from AT&T was suspended with a message telling me to call them now!

My world grinds to a halt as I wait on hold for 30 minutes. When I get a person I ask what the frozen DSL line and nasty message are all about. She, in the best of self-righteous ways, tells me I haven’t paid my bill and if I would like to take care of that she could help me and unfreeze my DSL line. It took all the patients I had not to take this woman’s head off. I counted to 10 then asked her, “Didn’t you receive a check?” She tells me to hold and clicks off. A dangerous thing to have happen after a 30 minute hold time. She clicks back on sounding meek and not nearly as self-righteous. She said, “Yes, I have a check for xxx amount and your current balance is xxx and everything is just fine. She will get my DSL back up and have a nice day.” Click.

This is what is passing for customer service these days. I have had Shell call me telling me I’m so past due and they want a credit card number now. Oh sure, I just give anyone who calls all my credit card information. I asked for statements to be mailed to me so he asked what my account number was (now he called me) and since I don’t use gas cards I said I didn’t have a clue. What came next just blew me away. Suddenly I didn’t have an account with Shell. This was the most confusing call. I asked how I could owe anything if I don’t have an account? He didn’t know and hung up.

One of the best calls I experienced was one I made. I was going over a credit card bill and noticed a charge for AAA auto club. I can’t remember ever signing up for that. Currently I drive a Mercedes and it comes with roadside assistants. I called the number listed on the bill and got a marvelous customer service lady. I said that there was a charge from AAA and I never order it so I want it off my bill. She began to argue with me that I did order it. It was an automatic renewal. I just love auto renewals because it is near impossible to get them stopped. Finally I asked when the charge was started. She said 1985 so I told her I wanted a refund from 1985 to the present for all the AAA charges. She hug up on me!

Now that just doesn’t work on me. I called them right back. Of course I got a different person and this guy was very nice and helpful. The last lady had removed the charge after she hung up on me. I told this gentleman what my experience had just been and he was very sorry, took an incident report and promised it would be taken care of. We parted friends.

Citi Corp calls day and night because I’m past due on my bill for $8. They spent more than $8 collecting that debt. These companies are so reactive now that they alone can create a lot of chaos which in the end does them more damage than good. A sign of the times I guess.

I understand people are hurting now. I’m one of those people. I don’t care what Washington keeps saying this “economic recovery” seems very unreal. This is a time for compassion and looking for ways to put together deals with customers that help the company get paid and doesn’t over burden the customer or charge an exorbitant interest rate. But do they do that? No. Conflict is what they like and the customer feels shame at being in this position and the company doesn’t have a clue that when you shame a person you have just hurt yourself as well. The person shamed will either strike out at them or strike out at himself. Both actions have negative consequences for the company.

And so it goes. Business in the 21st century…

And so it goes April 22, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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There was a full moon this week. I’ve run into other people who have said the same thing. That’s the origin of the term lunatic. In the Victorian era when many of the college campus size asylums were built they called them lunatic asylums. Now that work lunatic has taken on negative connotations like changing what you call it will change what it is. This exchange was invigorating and made me think! I enjoyed John’s view and hope he felt the same. Life’s to short for anything else.

my answer:

This is an interesting view on life and I thank you for sharing this with
all of us. As for a manual I really meant a copy of the 7 Habits book. I
agree that the imprint of infancy, the first 18 months of life, does leave
a basis for making choices in life. I just feel sometimes we don’t know
what it is that happened in the past that drives the choice today. These
events may be unrelated to current stimulus you are encountering. I suffer
with PTSD. There are two kinds 1) sudden onset and 2) Grand Canyon. The
* may never become activated so it doesn’t pose a problem but if it is
activated then searching for the root cause so memories can be properly
integrated can be a real trip. This is what I have and I’m here to tell you
it is no fun.
Principles govern. I believe that. Fight natural law and you will lose. Our
task is to bring our personal values in alignment with natural laws. An on
going process and a reason I keep compasses everywhere. When a plane takes
off from NYC bound for LA it spends something like 60% of its time going
the wrong way and needing attention from the pilot or auto-pilot. Scary
thought. Thank you for sharing your view. I’ll file them away with the
other info I collect on these subject.
Best regards,
Wood Dickinson

And John Said… April 22, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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I think you’ll see that the steam is running down so I work to bring this to a close. It’s very difficult to debate philosophy via the internet! What I do hope is that these divergent views can be freely explored without anger or malice. I don’t think we got to a true dialectic here but much closer because neither John or myself closed the door saying your flat wrong. I know I learned and he gave me something to think about. All of this reinforces the wiring in the brain to build more pathway for understanding not fighting.

Greetings to Wood Dickinson.

I suggest that proactivity is as I have experienced it and how I have observed everyone else experiences it. I am not here to support or deny Stephen Covey. My response is therefore based upon my experience of observing Coveys ideas in action. I have not previously gone out of my way to look for flaws in his practice (as opposed to the principles I believe he is attempting to communicate.

Personal experience, not Covey, shows me at all times, that provided only that I do not let my monkey brain get in on the act, I am always able to respond in a good, true and beautiful manner. The extremes of these three parameters can also be expressed as subjective specification, objective evidence and subjectively and objectively aligned conclusions, each versus its complete opposite. It is these hopefully subjectively and objectively aligned but more often misaligned conclusions that provide the ongoing minimal adjustment to each person’s proactivity. In other words, each person relies upon the fixities of their infancy, childhood and adolescence instead of at all times questioning as to the alignment of their beliefs (expedient) and their actual experience (honesty).

Personal experience, not Covey, also shows me at all times, that provided only that I do not let my monkey brain get in on the act, it is awareness (not limited self-awareness but rather cosmic self-awareness) and intention (not selfish limiting stupidity, but rather cosmically responsible will) that is the basis of consciousness. Total consciousness would be total certainty on all things. This would be the ultimate (an absolute) proactivity.

Personal experience also shows me that the reactions for which we need to take responsibility are the consequence of our belief systems, each of which is stuck in infancy, childhood, adolescence and possibly young adulthood. By transferring from the use of belief system nonsense to reliance on personally verified universally applicable principles, we shift from illusion (the school, subjectivity and cramming) to certainty (the farm, objectivity and pragmatic behaviour. The more we operate as a farm, the more proactive we become. Covey’s four endowments to me seem somewhat out of alignment. Aware-Will most certainly, through their paradoxical mutual opposition and mutual support evolve into Aware-Will-Consciousness (another way of describing proactivity)

Imagination is a tool, created by aware-will (along with the other tools of Requirements and Expectations) for the purpose of playing around with the materials of Belief Systems (Beliefs and Attitudes, Feelings and Thoughts, Options and Decisions). In the absence of intentional ongoing honesty, these nine components of belief systems are the nearest to proactivity we ever get. However, through systematic honesty we can question everything that we experience as negative and turn it from shit (bad, untrue and ugly) into proactive fertiliser (good, true and beautiful).

I do not have the Facilitators’ Manual, so I am unable to comment on that. I use the Pythagorean Enneagram as a universal flow diagram. Having applied it to many superficially very different natural processes I have never been able to find any flaw in its predictions. The underlying 7 habits, plus 2 more (subjective quality assurance or the school, after habit 3, and objective quality control or the farm, after habit 5) provide the entire circuit. It is actually the systematic alignment of Quality Assurance (as pumped into us at school) and Quality Control (as experienced in our actual lives) that leads to Quality Leadership (the honesty based integration of subjective and objective experience.

 The feedback loops are shown on the enneagram as arrowed lines. Going with the arrows leads expediently (like the school cramming) into less and less proactivity. This is when you are your own worst enemy. Going against the arrows leads somewhat more effortful alignment (i.e., into proactivity and consciousness) . This is when you are your own (and also everyone else’s) best friend.

Dr. Siegel is absolutely correct. In the infant mother relationship there is a mutual “tuning” of psychobiological states between mother and child. It seems that this early bonding is central to the creating of secure attachments later in life. Biological, psychological and social domains do begin to lose meaning and mostly do disappear completely in reference to developmental and cognitive neuroscience.

Visit Helen Palmer’s website at http://www.enneagram.com/. It is rich with details of how actuality loses its hold as subjective beliefs systems take over and how self knowledge can eventually lead not just to self-knowledge but on to interpersonal knowledge and eventually pan determinism.

What I Think April 22, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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I’m a communications guy but I also feel over the years I’ve become somewhat a philosopher. One thing I love is a lively debate. In essence to create a truly interpersonal relationship you need to construct a dialectic. Now I’m sure I’ve lost you so hang on. A dialectic is simply a framework where two (or more) people come together with the idea of learning what the other person thinks and feels. It is based on the idea of a dialog. The word discussion is percussive and doesn’t really address talking at all. If I grab one of my kids for a discussion they hear lecture. In dialectic relationships I always want to be in you and you in me. That way we can understand the underlying reason for your action and you might understand the source and reason of my fear.

With  this we learn and change. This is why I feel habit 4 doesn’t go far enough and it comes too late. Thinking win/win is all fine and everything but it’s just words. If I have worked on myself to the point where winning is meaningless then I will live for establishing a dialectic with you so I can soak in who you are and give you who I am.  I think Jesus said it best and with a lot fewer words, “Love one another as you would love yourself.”


Now for my answer to John:

John Lester,

I think you have the wrong idea about “Be Proactive” as Covey explains it. I’ve taught this habit to a lot of people and the reactions I get is what drove me to look deeper. Covey states clearly that between a stimulus and a response is a space. This space is our place to chose the response we want to give. Covey thinks if you work on your 4 human endowments (self-awareness, Imagination, conscience and Independent Will) you can strengthen your proactive muscle and widen that space between stimulus and response so you are truly choosing your response not just reacting. This is the information I’m asked to teach on page 128 of the facilitator’s manual. Look at that section in the book if you have a copy.

I agree there is nothing new in the 7 Habits and Covey as much as says so. It’s common sense organized. Elements I feel are good is the see do get model. This is a rudimentary approach to using systems thinking (which includes feedback loops) and people understand it right away. It shows how you can be your own worst enemy. These constant actions that validate a point of view that isn’t right builds strong wiring in the brain.

There is no doubt in my mind that the 7 Habits contains a lot of truthful and useful information. I grew from my contact with it. What I’m saying is in the last 10 years a lot has changed. Neuroscience has shown us that there are remarkable connections in the brain but still we don’t know where the mind is. We understand much better the role of cognition in a person’s life and that’s good.

7 Habits challenges us to look deep inside, into that deep interpersonal life and bring about alignment and discover what it is I want to create. Mission, vision, values. Empathic listening is vital but really empathic relationships is what we are looking for. That creates the true interpersonal. I like the inside out approach and the idea the private victory precedes the public victory. I think all these ideas help us place those somatic markers that guide our thinking.

Dr. Siegel posits that in the infant mother relationship there is a mutual “tuning” of psychobiological states between mother and child. It seems that this early bonding is central to the creating of secure attachments later in life. As a matter of fact Siegel points out that biological, psychological and social domains begin to lose meaning and might disappear completely in reference to developmental and cognitive neuroscience. I’ll leave it there for now and blog a bit more in depth about these issues.

Best,
Wood

From John Lester April 22, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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This next section is a reply I received from John Lester, a member of the group. I think this shows how wide an interpretation can be made of the same material. If you are running an organization and I think my way and John his then we are not aligned in our vision, mission and goals. That isn’t to say we all have to be 1984 robots; I’m talking about core values.

You and I can agree that education is important so the problem comes in the “how” it will be done. If you think about I bet most confrontations you have in your life are based more on methods not meaning. That’s why as a leader you focus on outcomes. Tell a worker, this is what I want at the end of the day. How you do the task, I don’t care just don’t break the law. This is a form of delegation focused around trust and respect. Many of us want to micro-manage the person doing the task. In that case, just do it yourself. If the point is to gain more time for other tasks and promote pride in the team then micro-manage is out.

I’ll go more into delegation later but for now here is John’s reply:

Mr Wood Dickinson appears to have a misunderstanding regarding the concept of proactivity. He states that “much of what the 7 Habits proposes is false”. Self determinism, group determinism and pan determinism are all demonstrably down to earth practical objectives.

It is temporarily sad that his “continued research” has led him up a dead alley, but at a later date he is likely to discover that his research was not wasted, only clouded by his own misunderstanding.

Each person’s proactivity is nothing more than their own current reality, which is the same as the implementation of their beliefs as they gradually convert dodgy beliefs into eventual knowledge (personally experienced certainty). Every time we cycle through the Seven Habits (or through any other experience for that matter) we finish up drawing conclusions. These automatically combine with our previous realities, changing or consolidating our beliefs and our operating basis at the same time.

It may be that Stephen Covey, by suggesting that “Be Proactive” is the first Habit rather than the last, confused the entire subject. Even a new born baby has a high level of animal need reaction (proactivity) and security need reaction (proactivity), plus a high level of demand for relationship (proactivity). Proactivity is the point from which every process begins its next cycle.

A Perfectionist Personality (such as a religious evangelist or a religious terrorist has a highly consolidated and totally locked up proactivity that leads both of them into their own personally chosen form of hell.

Similarly a predominantly Carer, Promoter, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter or Peacemaker Personality will have their own appropriately self prejudiced proactivity. The ultimate proactivity is to synergise all of these nine differing “godlike qualities” into each person’s own unique personality. This is what religious people call salvation and psychologists call self realisation.

Stephen Covey is not actually teaching anything new. He is teaching ideas that are as old as Pythagoras (500 BC) and Plotinus (500 AD) in a very modern down to earth practical manner.

Mazlow taught exactly the same principles with his Seven Universal Needs. The psychologists who specialise in Enneagram Studies teach exactly the same principles. The Seven Deadly Sins and their corresponding Seven Heavenly Virtues are teaching the same thing. Only the practices vary. It seems likely to me that Mr Wood Dickinson only taught practices and that he has never understood the universality of any of the many seven step principles.

I trust that Mr Wood Dickinson will tell us specifically which of Covey’s ideas he considers to be false. I hope he will also explain his (presumed) research into more than just Covey’s Habits. Maybe his experience will enable him to explain why Mazlow’s Seven Needs, The Psychologists Seven Psychological Types and The implied steps of the International Standards Organisation’s Quality Management System Model ISO 9001 are all also false.

Regards

John Lester
MSc. C.Eng. M.I.Mech.E., F.C.Q.I

Questioning the 7 Habits April 20, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, Systems Thinking.
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I wrote a small comment on a LinkIn group for 7 Habits that challenged two of the core ideas Dr. Covey teaches. First the theory of Determinism and second that Habit 1 “Be Proactive” isn’t real. This started with a question posed by Phyllis, the leader of the group.

It took me a whole year to read and digest the book–7 Habits of Highly Effective People. How long did it take you and what did you learn from it?”

What I wrote was this: I read the book in 1993 and started teaching it in 1994. I’ve come to the realization through a continued study in human behavior, psychology and neuroscience that much of what the 7 Habits proposes is false. Indeed there are some great common sense ideas in the book but there is no such thing as “Be Proactive” and deterministic psychology was thrown out 10 years ago. Sad that success forces one to forsake continued research and hold to poor behavioral models just because you can’t say, “I was wrong, here’s how it works. I think. We know so little about the true functioning of the brain that saying you understand how the mind works is just a joke. Let’s be serious. Just the minds consistent use of metaphor through language cuts us off from The Real. We can never see anything as it really is. If we could we couldn’t withstand it and surely we’d die. Read the book “Into the Wild,” for an example.”

Then I received a message from a member named Ravi: On 04/18/11 10:05 PM, RAVI GOROWALA wrote:

Wood Hi,

Would you like to elaborate on  “but there is no such thing as “Be Proactive” and deterministic psychology was thrown out 10 years ago.” For me this is important as I have never come across this kind of criticism and being open minded I would like to explore this further.”

I started to answer his question and I found it was going to take a bit more space than what I usually use on LinkIn. I decided to answer with a blog post so everyone can ponder it. I might mention that I am working on a book that will update the 7 Habits type framework into modern day theories and practices. The ideas here are part of that work.

Dear Ravi,

I’d be glad to explain my views. I was very deep into using 7 Habits personally and in my company. I started my own journey in 1993 and have read and listened to the 7 Habits probably 50 times then in 1994 I started teaching  it. I taught 100s of people.  I helped in designing and implementing what is now called “7 Habits for Associates.” I was profiled in Dr. Covey’s book “Living the 7 Habits.” Now to your question, I have kept up on changing psychological models over the years. I do this to advance my own development.

The theories of determinism are really poorly represented in the 7 Habits. Dr. Covey talks about 3 of them, Environmental, Genetic, and Psychic. In the study of human behavior there are at least 9 major deterministic theories. The basic set is:

Causal Determinism: This psychology is based on the assumption that there is an antecedent for every event to happen.

Logical Determinism: This is the outcome of the notion that whatever is proposed about the past, present or future fall in either of the categories: True or False.

Metaphysical Determinism: As per this determinism, every event is caused by necessity and for a reason.

Biological Determinism: This thesis is based on the belief that all behavioral patterns and desires are controlled by nature through factors such as genes.

Nomological Determinism: As per this psychology, the future events are to some extent propelled by the combination of nature’s laws and events factoring the past and present.

Psychological Determinism: This is a view that is purely based on rational thinking and human instincts that control our desires.

Behavioral Determinism: This ideology is purely based on the reflex actions that have been governed by the environment and surroundings.

Environmental Determinism: This psychology is based on the theory that physical conditions of an environment determine the culture of a region. To be precise, every human instinct is controlled by the stimulus response theory.

Fatalism: This is a significant determinism psychology that says everything in the universe is governed by fate and there is no control over it.”   quoted from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/determinism-psychology.html

Beyond these theories you also need to factor in Reciprocal Determinism Psychology and Free Will Determinism Psychology. I’ll let you dig those up on your own.

Now to tell you why these models fail I’ll quote a blog entry I came across that I thought was particularly insightful. You have to remember that determinism on the surface is a philosophical question. The scientists can try to quantify it and catalog it but at the end of the day it’s still philosophy. I can just as easily build a case for Jacques Lacan’s philosophy of psychoanalysis and philosophy as explained by Slavoj Žižek, who translated Lacan’s work and added to it by using popular culture.  Language itself serves a need for building metaphors of real objects so when we look at the world we see it through a screen of language.  Artists many times attempt to pierce this screen and peek into “The Real” and bring a bit back in their work for the rest of us to learn from. To live in “the real” would kill us. Again, I reference “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer.

Arguments Against Determinism

Determinism for me is irrational. Here’s why.

Published on February 9, 2004 By EFalgui In Philosophy

I have been thinking about the reasons why I am so against determinism. For me determinism is just plain wrong in the sense that we have no choice in anything that we do. Another thing is that if everything is already plotted out then doesn’t that destroy the point of taking responsibility for our actions.

People argue that if God is all knowing then how would it be possible for people to have free will. My response to this is that God knows all the paths that are possible. Because there is more than one possible path to life, we have the power to choose our own way without taking Gods omniscience into question. Anyway I have been thinking of some more arguments and these are a few I found against determinism.

Determinism is self-defeating. A determinist insists that both determinists and non-determinists are determined to believe what they believe. However, determinists believe self-determinists are wrong and ought to change their view. But “ought to change” implies they are free to change, which is contrary to determinism, since how can one change what is already determined. =P

Determinism is irrational. C.S. Lewis argued that naturalistic, complete determinism is irrational. For determinism to be true, there would have to be a rational basis for their thought. But if determinism is true, then there is no rational basis for thought, since non-rational forces determine all. So, if determinism claims to be true, then it must be false. Do you get it?

Determinism destroys human responsibility. If God is the cause of all human actions, then human beings are not morally responsible. One is only responsible for a choice if there was free will to avoid making it. All responsibility implies the ability to respond, either on one’s own or by God’s grace. Ought implies can. But if God caused the action, then we could not have avoided it. Hence, we are not responsible.

Determinism renders praise and blame meaningless. Similarly, if God causes all human actions, then it makes no sense to praise human beings for doing good, nor to blame them for doing evil. For if the courageous really had no choice other than to show courage, why reward it? If the evil had no choice but to commit their crime, why punish them? Rewards and punishment for moral behavior makes sense only if another did not cause the actions.

Determinism leads to fatalism. If everything is determined beyond our control, then why do good and avoid evil? Indeed, if determinism is right, evil is unavoidable. Determinism destroys the very motive to do good and shun evil.

Determinism is unbiblical. Theistic opponents to determinism offer several objections from Scripture. Defining free choice as “doing what one desires” is contrary to experience. For people do not always do what they desire, nor do they always desire to do what they do (Romans 7:15-16)”  Source Located at – http://boogerschnot.joeuser.com/article/7155

This is all philosophical of course but it does show the common sense reasons why determinism is a failed concept. It’s easy to google the decline of determinism and read about the current state of affaires. I’d recommend google scholar so you can find credible sources of information based on research.

Now, Habit 1 Be Proactive. Before there was 7 Habits this word was rarely used.  The first time it appeared was 1933. Now it’s a cliché.  Proactive as it’s really defined refers to some form of anticipation of actions before they happen and this anticipation can guide choices that improve the chances of more effective outcomes. A proactive choice is installing a sump pump before the rain floods your basement or planning what you’re going to do when on your next vacation now, not when you get there.

To act with proactivity as Dr. Covey explains it is tied together with the idea of stimulus and response. If a certain event happens you don’t react instead you create a space between the stimulus and your response where you make a choice as to what your response will be. I’m not saying that certain people have the capacity to think before they act but I don’t think it is a learnable skill.

According to psychologistWorld.com:   Stimulus Response Theory

“Stimulus Response Theory is a concept in psychology that refers to the belief that behavior manifests as a result of the interplay between stimulus and response. In particular, the belief is that a subject is presented with a stimulus, and then responds to that stimulus, producing “behavior” (the object of psychology’s study, as a field). In other words, behavior cannot exist without a stimulus of some sort, at least from this perspective.”

Now please note that in this citation the comment “at least from this perspective” is used. That’s because there isn’t any hard evidence that a specific stimulus will produce a specific response. I’m not talking about things like, you smell good food and you suddenly want to eat or you are drowning so you fight and flail around even hitting rescuers. Certain actions or say reactions are part of the brains Default Network. This network kicks in to help moderate certain actions. You see two 5 year olds playing tug of war with a bottle of ketchup and don’t think twice about it but if it was two 25 year old males you would become alarmed. The Default Network doesn’t start functioning until about age 13.

Reactions that happen outside of this Default Network happen because of special circumstances in a persons life. Look up B. F. Skinner and the Skinner Box. Back in the 60s this was the truth. Like Pavlov, you ring the bell and the dog drools and comes to eat. The problem with this is, sometimes they don’t. Why? Well Skinner et. al. really didn’t want to deal with that issue so they relegated these events to error. But there was a reason that it happened. It’s cognition.  The rat thinks, “I don’t want to run this maze right now.” The rat has no self-awareness so it can’t tell you why but we do.

Back in the 70s and 80s maybe later the feeling was the rat was making a choice. This proves a connection between stimulus and response. But that’s not true. Everything is a choice, after a fashion, but the reason for the choice may have nothing to do with the stimulus itself. It just appears that way. I hear a tornado siren and run to the basement. Another person hears the same siren and ignores it while a third person runs outside to see if there really is a storm. None of these actions are a direct response to the siren. They’re a response to an emotional state that is hard-wired into the brain due to past experiences.  I may not be able to do anything but run to the basement. Events in my life started the wiring in my brain that built a pattern of behavior and all the proactivity in the world won’t change it. If this is predicated on an unnatural fear of storms then I have to make a decision that this reaction bothers me and I want to change it. Then I probably go through exposure therapy to ease the emotions, allowing me to clip the wires and put in new ones. Once that’s done I don’t run to the basement unless I want to.

Neurobiology is showing us that the brain has a lot of plasticity and this process of rewiring is possible.  Dr. Covey tells us to use our imagination to grow proactivity then use that proactive muscle to change how we respond to events around us. Ask yourself this question, if I smoke can I make the choice, at the moment when I want a smoke, to not have the cigaret? Ask any smoker. I used to smoke and I’m here to tell you I decided to cut all the wires connected in my brain that brought on the urge to have a cigarette. This had to happen well before I was in the heat of the moment and it hurt. It took two years to get over the habit. I didn’t smoke during that two years The nicotine addiction was nothing compared the the brain rewiring I had to do so I’d never smoke again.

Enough examples, I hope you get the point. There is no being proactive. What there is initiative. Through the use of my initiative I was able to stop smoking. What I do is look at the current theories of human development, interaction and actions that are supported by science not opinion. For instance one of the mainstays of 7 Habits is the “Maturity Continuum.” The idea that we mature along a continuum which begs the notion of growth is a major part of the material. But I challenge that because we are born into the most important interdependent relationship of our lives. Babies are dependent and independent and interdependent and it happens all at once. No continuum.

There are a lot of good ideas in the 7 Habits but it is rusty and today you need to separate the wheat from the chaff. For a lot of people that isn’t easy. I commend you in seeking beyond and growing as an independent thinker.

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