Author Archive | Dan Erwin

The Lost Art of Thinking

On numerous occasions as a management consultant, I asked execs about how much time they took to think about process, innovation or strategy. Often, the response was that they didn’t have time to think. A couple said that they were paying me to do the thinking. A compliment, but very unwise. And I provided a […]

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On the Super Bowl as Bread and Circus

The first time I stumbled across the phrase “bread and circus,” it was the name of an upscale Massachusetts grocery store owned by Whole Foods. But the phrase kept zinging around in my gray matter as a Latin metonymic (a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that […]

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Bret Stephens and the Paranoid Style

I graduated from college in 1959, a few years before Richard Hofstadter’s essay on The Paranoid Style in American Politics came out in Harper’s. As an associate in a Pasadena (California) church, the conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society were driving me nuts. One of the promulgators of conspiracy, a retired naval officer and […]

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The Upside of Power

To a surprising degree, the American culture tends to think of power from the downside. And so, power is seen as a negative, evil, coercive or repressive force that causes us to do things against our wishes. The effects of power are in negative terms. It excludes, represses, censors, masks and conceals. But, in fact, […]

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Learning from Da Vinci

  The first thing that crosses our mind when we think of Da Vinci is either the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper. But Da Vinci, who died in 1519, was a lot more than a painter and muralist. The “Renaissance man,” he was also a scientist, engineer and mathematician, as well as a student […]

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Six Resources on Creativity

Innovation and creativity, everyone says, is key to our nation’s success in the marketplace. While working through some new stuff on creativity and innovation, I stumbled, once more, across Robert Sternberg and Todd Lubart’s analysis of the resources for creativity. It has the intriguing title, Buy Low and Sell High: An Investment Approach to Creativity. […]

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Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Are you a flip-flopper? Do you evolve, or just stay the same? “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” wrote George Bernard Shaw. (Hobgoblin: the mischievous, frightening and sometimes dangerous spirits.) In career development, it’s usually the little things that derail a manager or exec. Thus, I typically focus on granular career issues. […]

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When Should You Start Your Own Business?

One of my very bright young friends in his early thirties occasionally worries that he’s let too much time go by and that he should have started his own company several years ago. It’s a very prevalent idea, but it’s pure myth. So what is the average age of the typical entrepreneur when he/she starts […]

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Leadership Failure. . . And What Can Be Done About It

In his masterful study, Leadership BS: Fixing workplaces and careers one truth at a time, Jeff Pfeffer forces his readers to deal with the actual realities of leadership. The picture is not pretty. His description is both highly analytical and comprehensive, dealing with both leadership practice and thinking. Acknowledging the truth of his description will be painful for […]

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Big Data: The IT Fumble

If you read my blog, True data about big data, in which I proposed that Zero Dark Thirty’s lead character, Maya was a near perfect example of a data scientist, you’ll understand today’s blog title. The unstated subtext of that blog was that it’s unwise to turn big data over to the IT group. Sure, you’ll […]

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