Living in a post-superpower world: USA & Lambdas

I often find that events happening in the world parallel things that are happening in a micro-level around my life.  I’ve always been a firm believer that there aren’t really that many unique events in the world, that macro-level events replicate themselves in microenvironments.  The example I’m going to use is “superpowers in a post-superpower world,” or more specifically, “How Lambda Phi Epsilon mirrors the United States of America.”  I’m finding it increasingly fascinating how similar the problems of each are to each other and how even more similar the responses that each group can take to their problems can be.

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Health Data: Dream Bigger!

Over the last few months I’ve been exposed to a plethora of healthcare technology apps through my personal research and while working on HealthData.gov.  I think that a lot of these applications are great, and they present information to consumers in a new or more useful way.  But as I look through more and more of these apps, I can’t help but start to see patterns and similarities in the things being developed.

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Ditch in Richmond

Twists and Turns

“I’ve often wondered at how lives are shaped by what seem like small and inconsequential events, how an apparently random turn in the road can lead you a long way from where you intended to go – and a long way from wherever you expected to go.”

An American Life: The Autobiography by Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan’s biography has been nothing short of inspiring thus far.  The book opens with the above quote, a quote that I think runs true in my life.  I too have been affected by small and seemingly inconsequential events. The belief that small twists and turns in life can lead to great things keeps the optimistic spirit within me burning.

On Leadership vs Management pt 2

I was surfing Reddit today and I noticed someone had put up a very… very good blog post on “Urgent vs. Important”.  I’ve provided a link below because I think it describes the things that I’ve been toying around with really well.

http://lowhangingfruit.us/2010/10/12/urgent-vs-important-a-cautionary-tale/

I’ve heard the urgent vs. important thing several times now, and most often described as a four quadrant grid.  Things to keep in mind: what am I focusing on?  The urgent, or the important?

On Leadership versus Management

Since being elected chair of Lambda Phi Epsilon, and more recently of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, I’ve increasingly had to straddle a fine line between that of visionary leadership and pragmatic management.  As the guy that’s trying to herd cats in one direction, I find it increasingly difficult to be figuring out the direction while herding the cats themselves.  How does one do it?

Visionary Leadership:

In my mind, visionary leadership encompasses figuring out the direction of an organization, and the determination of the future state.  It’s critically important that a leader has an idea of where the organization is headed.  It’s not enough that operations maintain stable over the course of his/her term, things must improve in some way.  Thus, the leader must be a visionary in that he has initiatives he wants to accomplish and an idea of the future-state of the organization.

Pragmatic Management:

Pragmatic management involves the task of actually implementing and making things happen so that the organization moves forward into the future state.  Words without actions are meaningless, and I find that it is equally important knowing how to deal with coworkers, staff, and colleagues in order to execute.

The difficulty that I see is that most people are unable to do both effectively.  To mitigate that weakness, is it prudent to split up those responsibilities into two separate positions?  I know of several organizations, both private and public, that have done this (CEO taking care of the leading and COO in charge of the management).  My initial feeling is that this is a good model to follow and to implement.

The trick here comes when you’re managing a volunteer organization.  I sat through an excellent talk while I visited Duke University, Leading without Followers.  I think it really hit upon the point that leading volunteers takes special skill, because those people are just doing it out of the goodness of their heart.  If you can lead and manage volunteers, you can probably lead and manage anything.

Let’s see how well I’ll hold up to this task.