Monthly Archives: January 2012

The DULLberry – How The Culture of Canadian Conservatism Has Helped Killed RIM Innovation


When I coined the term DULLberry to aptly describe what RIM’s BlackBerry has become, I had two thoughts in mind. Firstly, I imagine a business where innovation has been ‘taxed’  to point of dullness. Lastly, I thought about a product, BlackBerry, which symbolically demonstrates that enervation of innovation. It can be argued from both sides of the fence whether RIM/BlackBerry – in its current state – will thrive or dive. I would suggest it is hard to be definitive that one or the other will be. So I will lean toward a more moderate position, a middle ground and say that RIM will just – survive. I say this not because I have a lack of confidence in the new reign of leadership at RIM or I dislike the BlackBerry for I am quite content with mine. I say this because RIM is a prisoner within the country they reside. Canada is the fertile ground where the DULLberry is grown.

When I refer to Canadian Conservatism, I do not mean Canadians whom lean toward a political right-wing party. However, I am referring to Canadians whose first inclination are to stand pat and wait, and such resist fundamental change especially the way we do business in this global economy. Canadians  who spout off  ‘what’s wrong with RIM’, ‘why can’t they add this feature like the iPhone’, ‘why is my BlackBerry not like the Android…’, are smugly forgetting this aspect of their Canadian meta-narrative or just simply ignorant thereof. An incessant flow of innovation as if turning on the kitchen tap, unfortunately runs against the fabric of being Canadian.

Innovation requires a high-degree of risk. It speaks about uncertainty of the final outcome with your idea, your job, your brand, your reputation and yes…your business. Many Canadians and their companies are highly adverse to strong risk. Of course, risk aversion has its advantages. Our banking institutions have a financial system that is best in the world touted by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty (our counterpart to Timothy Geithner, the US Secretary of Treasury) and corroborated by the IMF. These economic pillars continue to withstand the quicksand of US sub-prime mortgages and their associated tentacles of financial instruments. Yet, it begets the question: do we have the best banking institution intentionally or incidentally? I would say incidentally. Our banks did not set out to be world’s best (as far as public branding goes). Their success in this regard is a by-product of Canadian Conservatism, which has helped anchor our economy from sinking into the abyss with those in Europe.

Now that’s the good news! Canadian Conservatism will keep us a float. What’s the bad news? It means Canadian Conservatism will just keep us a float. A key distinguishing feature between America and Canada is that Americans have a culture of risk-taking. From sending people to the Moon to sending people to war, these require a great deal of risk. When talking to the average American, there is a prevailing attitude of being number one. And they will prove why it’s so, courtesy of their politicians. American executives’ conversations are saturated with doing work differently – doing work better. Many tend to ask where is the next seminar on leadership, what cutting-edge knowledge can I scoop up to win or how can I grow my business and myself to the next level. To this mass of people, there is a hunger for going where no one has gone before. There is a insatiable hunger for innovation. These men and women will go and get it. That attitude is rooted in the American dream. It is part of their meta-narrative for better or for worse.

Many Canadians on the other hand will watch-and- wait and perform smoke tests on these innovations. If it does not blow up, then we will jump on board. If it blows up, we are seen as the wiser for sensible caution. (I would adapt Bobby McFerrin’s song of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to ‘Don’t worry, Be Cautious’ as our national ditty.) Now the drawback with that attitude is that it is hard for us as Canadians to be or stay number one in the realm of business. If it is endemic to our culture to have a wait-and-see attitude, how on earth do we expect our Canadian companies like RIM NOT to naturally drift toward that risk-averse attitude? If Canadian companies who are ran predominantly by Canadians and employ predominantly Canadians that come out of risk-averse culture, how will these individuals will all of sudden be something different than being Canadian?

This is my point. If RIM was an American company, I would dare to say RIM would be ahead of Apple. Quite simply, not because of leadership alone, but because they would have access to a cultural hotbed of risk-takers. RIM would be a microcosm of the daring American populous. The risk-taking attitude of the American culture will spill over into the work environment spurring on innovation. It is just inevitable.

I wish RIM all the best in their transformation efforts but just know, RIM has to buck the trend toward Canadian Conservatism… or risk being called DULLberry.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Pure as Gold – Authentic Leadership

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It has been a packed couple months with Christmas holidays, playoff football and the soap opera drama of American Politics not to say the least. Indeed, American Politics is very entertaining soap I must say. Mud-slinging, undercutting, he-said-she-said, all comes with this amusing package of “Oops” as Governor Rick Perry would say. Who wouldn’t chuckle with the public tit-for-tat? With each dirt – or sin – becoming uncovered and exposed, our urbane darlings of great hope become  the ugly ducklings of great ‘grope’ – as Herman Cain found out and John Stewart mocks about. We stay glued to the tubes as we watch our modern day Alchemists, the Media, determine who is gold and who is not. In other words, who is authentic or who is a joke.

This was quite analogous to what I saw with the royal couple of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Yes, the Alchemist were working very hard to uncover dirt like they found with the other Royals. The Media brought their super power microscopes to find the most miniscule of faux-pas that could be brought up to the light of day. With every failed experiment of scandal, they were left disappointed that the couple were authentic as they appeared. They were gold.

I was part of the herd of onlookers who flocked to the television set to watch the Royal Wedding (for me at least in part). Yet I did not watch it because of the royal display of opulence although it was impressive. Nor did I watch it because of the fairytale narrative of the couple although it was romantic. I watched it for one key reason: I was trying to understand the qualities that drew people to watching the couple especially Prince William. The startling quality that I observed in all the conversations was the theme of Prince William being real – being genuine. Unfortunately, a lot of the American politicians lack.

Prince William displayed authenticity, which was part of his charm. It was the charm of authenticity that created his ardent followers. He was a leader not just by position but by permission as John Maxwell would put it.

Leadership, if we recall, means having influence, which is demonstrated by having followers. Authenticity is a vital component for attaining and maintaining leadership. It gives us the permission to lead others and have followers. When authenticity is missing from the mix of leadership, a politician’s effectiveness to lead from the polls to the post is weakened. Here are three brief reasons for this case:

Authenticity Shows Integrity: The Public can know that their leader means what they say and says what they mean. Thus, they know that their leader will take their words and actions seriously and acknowledge its impact on others. The Haves and Have-nots are equally considered.

Authenticity Builds Trust: The Public can feel confident that their leader is not duplicitous and ‘fake’. Thus, the Public will accept the leader’s vision and trust the leader’s (his/her) motives. They are willing to sacrifice for the common good.

Authenticity Creates Duplication: The Public can mirror their leaders and develop a culture of authenticity. Thus, the Public will build that openness, transparency and integrity among each other. This creates a stronger a society.

Just as important for politicians and royalty, let us as leaders, or aspirers of such, make these points a good reminder of the importance of authenticity. We may not be royal blood, but it does not mean that we cannot have a royal heart. Let us lead with regal authenticity. It is our gold standard. We should settle for nothing less.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Her Expectations – Relationship Series

Her Expectations

Although it is good to have your expectation of what you desire in ‘your’ man, you have to balance this with the complementary thought of “what can I do for him.” It can’t just be about “…what can he do for me!” The reason I suggest this is for reflection; it will help motivate you to be other centered in your courting. (I use the word courting because you seek a relationship that moves toward marriage. Dating connotes a more casual encounter and may not be viewed as a long-term relationship.)

In relationships, most men know that most women who they court want to settle down. No doubt this is a legitimate expectation and need, but it is one of many need/expectations from her. As a man, why would I want to settle down with a woman who is preoccupied – plainly – about her needs and expectations? In other words, they are preoccupied solely with themselves. I am sorry to say but this is actually selfishness. Many women, in a relationship, would not see themselves as selfish. However I am not suggesting these women are selfish at their core, but selfish in how they deal with their relationships. They become self-absorbed about how they feel in the relationship. For example, when a man is bothered with something, what is the first thing she asks?  “What is bothering you Honey?” He may reply “Nothing…” but we know he is being dishonest. However most men don’t know and/or have the courage to tell her his feelings at that moment. Many women who may not recognize his fear, get offended and angry at his closure.  Consequently, she now gets upset with him.

What’s wrong with this picture? The main reason she wanted to know is because knowing what was wrong made her feel connected to him. Her main motivation was not to help him through the issue but to feel connected to him. She wanted to sympathize and empathize. These are good desires, but they are her desires not her man’s. So it comes back to her saying, “To heck with you! This is what I want out of this relationship!”

By no means am I saying this man was right in how he handled his issue. (The Lord knows we do many things poorly.) However, being there for him is not getting angry with him when he is unable to share his heart. Nobody wants to feel threatened if they don’t speak. (Remember, many men see relationships and marriage as jail – a loss of freedom!) This is just a brief example, but I hope the point is clear. Trust or respect cannot be build within that climate.

Expectations are fine to have, but I believe these embattled women can help their cause through showing how you can help to make his life better. If relationships and marriage are seen as a partnership, then you are his advocate and adviser. Remember respect and trust is what men value. Men like women who are attractive but love a woman who they can trust.

Always endeavor to keep your desire and his in balance, and you will find that the two of you are moving towards a win-win, loving relationship. As Stephen Covey, author and renowned life coach, puts it, “seek first to understand then to be understood.”

 

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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