The School of Hard Knocks

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Who Hasn’t Been to That School? Recently in an e-mail exchange with a long-time friend, he wrote, “You have a degree from college, and I have one from the School  of Hard Knocks, and we both seem to be doing ok….” That common idiomatic phrase got me thinking. My friend wasn’t being facetious. Like many people using that phrase, he …



Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Why Simplify? A leader must be able to make the complex simple. That is not easy to do — on several fronts! In many (most?) organizations today, our employees know more about the details of their jobs than their leaders do. This is inevitable in our modern world and will only become more true as time goes on. Today, as leaders, …



Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Massive VUCA Ahead: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). Lots and lots of moving parts in our economy. That we are living in an ambiguous environment is definitely an understatement. I am reminded of a recent car trip where a colleague was driving. We were going to an unfamiliar destination, so of course we were using our GPS to navigate. …

Leonardo da Vinci

In Praise of Experts

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Expert On Every Thing: There was a time, I’m told, when it was possible for one person to know just about everything about everything. Now to be sure, that so-called “knowledge” had to be incomplete and even incorrect in many cases. Nevertheless, one could be a “Renaissance Man” (a term which may refer to a Polymath, a person whose expertise …


Complexity and Transformation

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

(This is the final post in a four-part series on how growing complexity is transforming our lives.) Continuous Transformation: The common lament these days is that the pace of change is on an exponential trajectory. We struggle to keep up. Knowledge (and of course data) is increasing by leaps and bounds every second. All facets of our lives are being …

Decision To Do

Complexity and Decisions

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

The Complexity Part: (This is the third in a four-part series on how growing complexity is changing our lives.) And when it comes to decisions, complexity is indeed the byword. Not only do we have an overabundance of product choices but we also have anabundance of freedom in most areas of our life. For example, there are myriad choices for …

Global business concept

Complexity and Forecasting

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

The Complexity Part: I find that neuroscience (trying to understand the brain/mind/body interdependence in sentient life) and quantum physics (specifically particle entanglement and uncertainty) are perhaps the most confusing, complex, and barely comprehensible subjects I study. The more I read on those topics the more I realize that reality is in the eye of the beholder. The other angle from …

Design Integrity and Function

Learning to See Complexity

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, 3-LI

Look and See: (This is the first of a four-part series on complexity.) A habit I’m trying to develop comes from my new hobby—digital photography. That habit is to try and “see” opportunities for an interesting picture. Along with that comes the companion habit of not only looking ahead or to the side, but to turn around and look behind …

Complexity in Business

Leadership Imperative

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Rear-view Mirror: The past does not help predict the future. Why? It’s simple. Nothing is really quite the same as it was in the past. And, we like to lament, our world is getting ever more complex at an accelerating pace. We, the curious, hairless apes, seem bent on accelerating that complexity even faster. We cannot help ourselves—we must unravel …

Competent Leader


Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

What Do We Expect of Our Leaders? In the “old days,” it was not unusual to expect the leader of an organization to rise through the ranks. Frequently, they had a strong competency in a business discipline—accounting, engineering, project management, sales. Yet, that strength can become a weakness if the leader falls back to the comfort zone of technical competency. …