Saturday, October 3, 2015

Local Arts: Mayor Ness and Duluth Designers Share Their Passions

Thursday evening the Duluth Art Institute kicked off a new series of events called Design Duluth with an outstanding, well-attended program hosted by Cirrus Design. Over the next several months six topics will be discussed featuring various aspects of design in Duluth. If the first event is any indication, Design Duluth promises to shed new light on a facet of life many people take for granted, from the shape of our homes to the packaging on the libations we consume.

More than 100 people indicated by RSVP that they intended to be there. It's likely that the presence of Mayor Don Ness as the opening speaker contributed to the strong turnout. Or maybe folks were drawn by the opportunity to be on the Cirrus premises and get a closer look at all those cool planes. In either case, the two hours was well worth the time investment.

DAI Director Annie Dugan
Annie Dugan opened the meeting by thanking the five presenters, and then launched into a brief summation of Dieter Rams' 10 Principles of Good Design:
Makes products Understandable
Thought through to the last detail
Environmentally Friendly
and involves as little design as possible.
(i.e. Less is More)

Annie then introduced the theme the presenters would chew on: How can we Measure up?: Defeating Duluth’s Inferiority Complex.

Mayor Ness, who had to trot off to a book signing at Fitgers, addressed the topic first. He began by stating that every community has its narrative. We are not only consumers of narrative but have the capacity to design our narratives as well. The mayor proceeded to outline Duluth's story, from being one of the most distressed cities of its size in the country (1980) to the revitalized community it is today, embracing its natural beauty and other assets. Though many people have envied Fargo's economic growth there's plenty going on here, and reasons why a company like Maurice's would invest in building a headquarters here. The energy behind Homegrown Music Fest, mountain bike trails, an entrepreneurial spirit, creativity expressed in the arts and craft breweries, and the vitality created simply by being in the presence of this Great Lake... all are evidences of a renewed positive momentum here.

The next speakers were David Shumate and Alex Alequin of Cirrus Design. Shumate began by providing an overview of the company. In addition to the headquarters here Cirrus has five facilities and 900 employees. They've produced over 6000 aircraft since the Klappmeier's inauspicious beginning as a kit plane builder in 1984. At this he introduced Mr. Alequin, whose personal narrative went like this.

Alequin studied industrial design and went to Detroit to design cars. He became especially passionate about interiors, and the transition to designing interiors was not that great of a leap. But when he got here it something became immediately apparent. Showing a slide of a small fleet of early Cirrus planes, it was noted that they were all identical and they were all white.

Henry Ford produced cars in the same manner when he first started. You could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black. The reason for this color was black paint dried faster, so he could assemble more cars more quickly.

Bringing the automobile aesthetic to Cirrus resulted in a whole new realm of possibilities with regard to extreme customer service. The designers would begin a dialogue with the plane buyer to find out where their passions lie. "What's your story?" The results were personal and incredible. It's my hope to share a few of these stories here at a future time. Essentially, every story leads to design possibilities for tomorrow.

Dave Shumate came to Duluth to work on the new jet Cirrus has designed. Shumate showed photos of the process of designing, from concept drawings to full scale 3-D clay model to CAD renderings. The process was insightful, and looked like fun.

A Alequin, Mayor Ness, D Shumate, D Salmela, A Dugan and M Laverdure  
Michael Laverdure spoke next. Laverdure is one of less than 100 Native America architects in this country. He is with the firm dsgw, an architectural firm specializing in health care, casino and commercial architecture. The team has a history of working with First Nations, and as a Native American he has developed an approach that involves earning trust through listening. Mr. Laverdure outlined the process they use when working with tribes and clients. This process involves hearing their story so that the building is a reflection of who they are.

The echoes in each story were quite apparent. Successes were achieved by listening to the customer's story and using the firms design skills to implement a vision that came from within the customer, not imposed on the customer.

David Salmela made the final presentation. Mr. Salmela is an award-winning, internationally renowned architect who 25 years ago chose Duluth as his home. Being Scandinavian he humorously described one of the traits that permeates the Scandinavian/Finnish ethic: Outperform everyone but don't tell anyone.

He went on to share that real success is neither about the architect nor the client, but both working together. It is a cooperative experience that often involves city planners as well as the craftspersons and others who do the actual work.

Like Michael Laverdure and the gentlemen from Cirrus, he shared many of the projects he's completed over the course of his career. A prolonged question and answer period followed, and it became apparent that the presentations deeply stimulated this audience.

* * * *
What is Duluth's identity? For a list of upcoming Design Duluth meetings, check out the latter part of Thursday's blog. The second installment will be November 19 at HTK Marketing with the theme being Iconoclast: Breaking the Lift Bridge Icon-Hold.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Ad Blocking -- Can Consumers Finally Get What They Want?

"Everyone is spending all their time talking about ad blocking right now. Everyone should be spending all of their time talking about why consumers feel the need to block ads."
~Tim Armstrong

There have been some very interesting court cases playing out in various places this year, and in April one of them came to a conclusion in Germany when a Hamburg court ruled that ad blocking software was legal. As in all court cases there are winners and losers. The first tier winners are the companies making software to block unwanted ads on consumers' mobile devices. Consumers themselves would appear to be instant winners as well, since these very same ads have been an enormously annoying intrusion on their user experiences.

Content publishers cried foul because the way they pay for what they do, and how they generate the revenue that keeps them in business, is through selling the very selfsame ads these smartphone owners are wanting to block.

According to Business Insider there are over 200 million users of ad blocking software globally. But the real reason this topic is creating so much buzz is that Apple is not only embracing ad blocking they are using it as a selling point. Why? Because certain kinds of ads are simply so annoying.

I myself have made my living as an ad man, but every ad guy is also a consumer and here's my take on advertising.

First, direct mail targeted to what interests me does not bother me. If I buy suits or ties at Mainstream and I get a post card telling me about a 50% off sale, well hey, I like that. I don't look at ads in the paper and seldom watch television, so it works. They are communicating a message to a former customer. They are not mass mailing these things to every citizen in the Northland.

Magazine advertising is another ad form that I enjoy as a consumer. When the Internet was just starting out, I found Wired magazine to be an utterly thrilling read in part because the first twenty pages of advertising were so cutting edge, and superbly targeted. The publisher did not allow schlocky advertising in their book. The publication as a whole was an art form, visually aesthetic with cutting edge design and fluidly informative.

In the automotive enthusiast niche, print publishers strive to connect relevant content and relevant advertising to the readership they serve. Many readers actually look for the advertising.

For whatever reason, this has not been most peoples' experience when it comes to online, and especially with mobile devices. Most advertisers have the good sense to make it easy to find the little X where you close those blasted pop-ups.  Unfortunately there are some bad apples out there. And that's why Apple's move is so appealing.

Hopefully a balance will be found in all these things. Someone has to pay to produce all that content people seem hungry for. But then again, since its inception one motto of this new cyberworld we seem to live in has been, "The Internet wants to be free."Vamos a ver.

The quote at the time of the page came from this special report at

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Local Art Scene: First Design Duluth Event Is Tonight

The Guggenheim: Architectural design in New York
Although most of my art studies at Ohio University were in the Fine Arts program housed in Siegfried Hall, I also took a pair of commercial art and design classes. What struck me at the outset was how utterly different the approach was in this class as well as the character of the students. The students here were predominantly conservative in attire, and the assignments we worked on were not about self-expression through illustration or painting, but art in the service of other objectives such as the communication of a commercial message in an ad, or the design of a book cover. These students were preparing for ad agencies, not art galleries.

Though many of my paintings had philosophical underpinnings, the idea of using art for commercial purposes felt foreign to me. But the instructor was patient with my outside-the-box approaches to assignments, and I was impressed (blown away, actually) by the caliber of his own work which he shared with me privately on a couple occasions.

My last year of college I worked as a security guard for Research Cottrell when I was home and after college I continued the same, given a small raise because of my reliability. The company was a publicly traded manufacturer of nuclear energy facilities. My service there was at their Bedminster, NJ headquarters where the company's executives were housed. (They had a half dozen buildings in the area.) One evening the table in their boardroom was covered with large proof sheets for their annual report and the marketing VP Tom Buonpane was leaning over the table with a small magnifying lens call a lupe, studying the quality of the printing and proofing the layout and text that an ad agency had delivered that day.

Mr. Buonpane worked late occasionally, so I knew his name, and I stood in the doorway watching as he studied the photos and the layouts. Having been an art student I found the design of the unbound pages fascinating. And I commented that it looked like something I might enjoy doing some day. He stopped, looked at me and said, "If you want it, maybe you will." Or something to that effect, indicating that this was not something beyond my reach.

Less than fifteen years later I had become the in-house ad guy at Chromaline in West Duluth (now Ikonics) helping to design, among other things, their annual reports. While proofing the pages of that first annual report that I helped assemble, a small little "ding!" rang in my head. Tom Buonpane's encouragement served as an almost prophetic declaration.

* * * *

Manhole cover design by Marc Zapchenk, Bob Dylan Way, Duluth
Design is all around us, from the ads we see to the books we read to the shape of tools we use, the clothes we wear, cars we drive and the silverware we choose. It's actually a very exciting field. And I am pleased to see that the arts community is recognizing design as an art form through a series of events and discussions this coming year.

Tonight the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) is launching Design Duluth, a year-long celebration of contemporary design and an exploration into Duluth’s unique visual voice. IN various Twin Ports locations, the Duluth Art Institute is hosting six discussions based around the central theme of Duluth’s visual identity. Each event will feature a question prompt, such as “how do we embrace the cold?”, and will engage designers from the community to collaborate or compete in creating and presenting something around that prompt. The year will culminate in an open exhibition and wider discussion on Duluth’s role in the Northland.

The DAI recognizes design in all its forms, having cast a wide net for artist voices. Throughout the year designers across a broad spectrum, from graphic design and marketing to furniture and industrial design, will be featured. These designers craft tangible items that touch lives, from the homes we live in to the products we use like the labels on our local craft beers—yet they operate largely behind the scenes.

The theme of tonight's opening discussion addresses "the city's inferiority complex" and will take place at Cirrus Aircraft. Mayor Don Ness will be present, among others. (See story in today's Trib.)

Here's an outline of the year's topics:

Session 1 (October 1, 5:30pm): How can we Measure up?: Defeating Duluth’s Inferiority Complex
Location: Cirrus Aircraft, 4515 Taylor Circle (Hermantown) Featured Designers: David Salmela of Salmela Architect, Michael Laverdure of DSGW Architecture, and David Shumate & Alex Alequin of Cirrus Aircraft

Session 2 (November 12, 5:30pm): Iconoclast – Breaking the Lift Bridge Icon Hold
Location: HTK Marketing, 394 South Lake Ave, Ste 800 Featured Designers: UMD Assistant Professor Matt Olin, HTK Marketing, & Medium Control

Session 3 (January 8, 5:30pm) How do we Embrace the Cold?
Location: Bent Paddle Brewing Company, 1912 W Michigan St Featured Designers: Loll Designs & Bent Paddle Brewing Co

Session 4 (February 18, 5:30pm): How is Duluth Home?
Location: Gimajii: American Indian Center, 202 W 2nd St Featured Designers: Gimajii: American Indian Center & TBA

Session 5 (March 24, 5:30pm) The Lake Effect: What is Lake Superior’s Role in Our Design?
Location: Vikre Distillery, 525 South Lake Ave Featured Designers: Vikre Distillery, Lake Superior Honey Co, & Johnathon Thunder

Session 6 (April 21, 5:30pm) Minnesota Nice – Good, Bad, Nice?
Location: Red Herring Lounge, 208 East 1st St Featured Designers: Chaperone Records, Hemlocks Leatherworks, Frost River, & the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Committee

This business of design is pretty big. Usually we hardly notice, but a lot of decisions go into the crafting of nearly everything we use.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Have you noticed?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Psychology Behind Mass Movements: It's Not A Game When Something's At Stake

"When people are ripe for a mass movement, they are usually ripe for any effective movement, and not solely for one with a particular doctrine or program." ~ Eric Hoffer

When I was really young, my brother and I used to make up games like the following, which probably a lot of kids did. For example, when we were at our grandparents house, we'd try to get all around the living room without touching the floor. The floor, we'd pretend, was molten lava or some other deadly thing. In other words, to amplify the intensity of the game, there was a heavy price to be paid if you lost. It was a life or death game and we'd really get into it.

A second game was keeping a balloon or a ball in the air, or many balloons, by tapping them upward. Gravity would bring them earthward. The stakes were high. In this game if the balloon touched the ground, the whole world would be destroyed.

These memories were triggered by a discussion between two brothers in V.S. Naipaul's Magic Seeds. The one brother's life feels empty. He has no "cause." He wishes he had something to fight for. The second brother tells him to open his eyes. "There are causes all around you."

This is the idea behind Eric Hoffer's statement above. People who feel their lives are small, who feel their lives are petty and meaningless, long for meaning. The childhood games we played as kids worked when we were kids, but as adults we know that the world will not blow up if the balloon touches the carpet.

What's especially intriguing is that both Naipaul and Hoffer seem to be saying that it hardly matters what the mass movement is. When conditions are right in peoples' hearts, there are a whole range of causes to fight, or even die, for.

Hoffer devotes a portion of his book, The True Believer, to the makeup of these people types. They are the disaffected, the poor, the misfits, the outcasts, minorities, adolescent youth, those in the grip of some vice or obsession, the bored and the sinners. They want to be free from feelings of isolation. They want to belong to something bigger than themselves. They want to give meaning to their lives. And many, if not most of us, have been in this psychological space at one time or another in our lives.

Interestingly enough, three thousand years ago King David's first army was assembled from the disenfranchised in Israel. When Saul, Israel's first king, attempted to solidify power by eliminating his potential replacement, David finally had to flee to the hills. He was joined there by others who were on the outs. In the book of Chronicles it says that, "Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great and mighty army." I used to think they followed David because he represented "right." Perhaps to some extent he was simply a galvanizing force that attracted the outcasts because many needed to belong to something. This is not to say that David was simply another mass movement, but that the Bible account corresponds with the way we'd expect people to behave based on what we know today about the sociology of mass movements.

In the world today, there are millions seeking causes, seeking meaning for their lives, and dignity. To the degree that we are unable to integrate the poor, the lower classes into society, to give them hope of a better life by contributing to the community and society at large, to this very degree they are susceptible to alternative causes. Suicide bombers don't emerge out of nowhere. They come from the disenfranchised.

This is but a starting point for a much larger discussion than there's time or space for here. Recommended reading: The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Open your eyes!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Critic As Fan -- Paul Williams' Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol. 1: The Early Years

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post in which I titled A Dylan Reading List: 12 Recommended Favorites From My Bookshelf. The first two comments on this post chided me for leaving off Paul Williams' books. "How could you leave off Paul Williams?"* It became immediately apparent that I needed to read Williams and I proceeded to purchase the first two volumes of his Bob Dylan: Performing Artist series.

For those unaware, Williams was the founder of Crawdaddy, possibly the first national U.S. rock music rag, though 1966 seems rather late for the publishing world to see the value of such an assignment. Though the first issue was only ten pages and mimeographed, it became immensely influential.

Perhaps more significantly was Williams' discovery of the sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, making a significant contribution to advancing awareness for Dick's original work, bringing them to a wider public. (A dozen of his stories have become feature films including Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report.)

It didn't take long to understand why Dylan fans like Paul Williams. Williams is both informative, and accessible. And, his writing is about his own observations and impressions. That is, the unique thing Williams brings readers is a point of view, and it is the point of view of a fan. (Not that other books aren't written by fans. The Dylanologists emerged from one fan's discovery that he was part of a much larger body of fans.)

A recurring theme for Williams is his amazement at Dylan's power as a performer. Early in the book he writes, "Throughout Dylan's career we will find that although he has a reputation as a master of words, his mastery is more specifically of performed language--separated from his performance, his words can lose their power and even their meaning." (p. 33)

Performing Artist, Volume 1 is a sequential presentation of Dylan's recordings and performance from his youth through to the threshold of his Rolling Thunder Revue. It includes a section on his book Tarantula as well as films which Dylan appeared in, either as actor or performing.

"What makes the difference in his work, what in fact liberates his genius, is his sincerity. This is what burns in "Gates of Eden" and "Desolation Row and all his major work, what illumines even his minor work: he cares about what he's saying and the way he's saying it." (p. 171)

Later Williams elaborates. "Each set of circumstances creates its own artistic possibilities; Dylan's triumph is his honesty, his commitment to being himself in each situation and finding a way to speak his heart."  (p. 244)

Williams is not such a fan that he ascribes a sacred quality to everything Dylan says and does. In the paragraph above he clearly acknowledges that there are major and minor works, but the major achievements truly were major, especially this fertile and ground-breaking section of his life in which he produced Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.

The book is available on where you can also read reviews by other readers, currently beginning with this one by writer Jeff Suwak titled, A Great Artist Writing about a Great Artist... Don't Miss

This is my first discovery of Paul Williams' writing. Not only is it an extremely informative work on one of the greatest artists of our age, but the writing itself is a true pleasure to read. I fell in love with Williams' voice in the first ten pages and immediately went to find more of his works. In doing so, I discovered that he passed on a few years ago. His writing was so intimate and his passion made so plain, that it actually bothered me on a personal level to find he was gone. It really did draw me in that much. Read this book is you're a Dylan fan. Even if you know it all about Dylan, it's not just the information (though that is considerable and often amazing in depth) that makes this a worthwhile read, it's the passion for the subject and for music and for LIFE in general. Come for the great musical artist being discussed, stay for the artist discussing him. Yes, I suppose this isn't so much a review as it is my personal letter to Mr. Williams. From one writer to another: Mr. Williams, you were one hell of a wordsmith, and I hope someday to reach your level. Just when I was beginning to doubt the work and sacrifice of this path, I find your book and remember that this is a goal worth striving for. Thank you for your work. I hope you're having a hell of a time up there.

* * * *
Having read Williams' book earlier this summer, acquiring it very shortly after having it recommended to me, I'd been aiming to write this review ever since, but kept delaying. Little did I know that this past week the Dylan marketing machine would release yet another "must have" sets, The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Volume 12 which covers the period at the heart of this book, 1965 and 1966. The Cutting Edge will be available the first week of November, though you can pre-order now, which means it will be pre-shipped to arrive at your door on the date of its release.

Meantime, life goes all around you.

*A third comment, later removed by its author, pointed out that one of the books listed was not a reliable information source.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Of Water and Ice

34 below zero F. Coldest reading yet on our thermometer. The sun is a muted white, beaming from the southeast. Back down below, a prism of color rises from Rocky Run, a pulsing pillar that at times is quite pronounced and at other times so indistinct as to be invisible. It springs from the earth near two pines across the way which I have never noticed before, just this side of the gravel pit. It extends quite high at times, the endpiece of a rainbow. How strange this phenomenon on a cloudless morn.

How can it be so cold out there? Where does cold come from? Absence of heat... but the sun is no further, nor nearer, than another day 50 degrees warmer.

~ Journal note, 15 January 1994

While looking through one of my journals I came across the above observations. I was attempting to describe a phenomenon that I'd never seen before coming to Minnesota, the way fog and crystal-laden moisture refracts light in the context of intense cold. Here in the Northland you can sometimes tell how cold it is by the way it squeaks when walking on the frozen snow as you go out to fetch the paper in the morning.

Water is the strangest thing. The manner in which it changes based on temperature, and not just random temps but a specific temperature, at 0 degrees Celsius. And how it vanishes (becomes vapor) when it boils. Yet it is still H20 so that when it condenses it become moisture again.

The density of water is another mystery. You would think that when water freezes, becomes a solid, it would sink, wouldn't you? Yet when icebergs break off from Greenland they float. This seems very strange. Yet we just take it all for granted.

I was just reading how water expands when it freezes. This, too, seems strange because the molecules are still H20, yet they re-form themselves somehow when they become crystals. My initial sense would be that frozen water would take less room, as if the fluid's molecules were arrange themselves tighter together when they became solid. But this is not the case. In point of fact, water expands by 9% when it freezes, hence the burst water pipes some of people have experienced in very cold weather in the Northland.

* * * *

Physics is the study of nature and natural phenomena in our world. I have fond memories of Mr. Dennison's physics class my junior year in high school. A former minor league pitcher who after 7 years finally came up for a pair of games with the Red Sox at the end of a season, he was also our Junior Varsity baseball coach. I learned a lot from Mr. Dennison about many things, but never quite got the answer to why it's so hard to hit a knuckleball.

* * * *

By the way, did you see the size of the moon last night? (Unfortunately, a sheet of clouds slid across the sky to hide the eclipse that occurred shortly after dark.) I find it intriguing that when the moon circles 'round the earth its influence causes the tides to advance and recede. Because of gravity the earth's bodies of water pull inward, or downward depending on your point of view. But when the moon passes overhead the gravitational pull of our lunar companion produces swelling seas. What's especially interesting is how the waters on the opposite side of the earth also bulge to produce a high tide there as well. (You can read how all this works here.)

* * * *

It's also interesting that water covers about two-thirds of the earth, and that when we mature our own bodies are about two-thirds water. (The ratio changes from infancy to maturity.)

* * * *

Here's another observation. Whereas water is essential for our nourishment to survive, water is also a destructive force, causing buildings to rot, dead trees to decay, and so on.

* * * *

For those who are interested in other mysteries and observations about water check out these links:

The Many Mysteries of Water

5 Weird Things About Water

Middle School Chemistry Lessons on Water and Ice

Observations on Melting and Freezing

In closing, a quote to float your boat: “Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.” ― Wallace Stevens

EdNote: The journal entry that started this post was our second winter here in Duluth. Since that time I have seen 42 below on our thermometer. Welcome to the Northland.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Taking the Battle to Business: Charles Herbek on Learning Fields

One of my great memories of fourth grade was discovering, in the back of the classroom, a large American Heritage book about the Civil War. I found it completely captivating, returning to it again and again, especially to study the battlefield maps with their diagrams of troop movements and terrain. The book instilled a recurring appreciation of military history, most significantly those periods from the Mexican War to the Civil War and that similar span framed by the two World Wars of the 20th century.

In recent years, as a result of social media, I re-connected with a New Jersey high school friend who now lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. If you know your Civil War history, you'll recall that much of this area became settings for skirmishes and numerous full-fledged battles between the North and the South.

Numerous business books have been written applying war strategies to business and marketing. Marketing Warfare by Ries & Trout comes readily to mind. Charles Herbek has taken this one step further, building a consulting business around these Virginia battlefields in which companies visit the sites themselves to more deeply experience strategic principles. I know from personal experience how visiting the Gettysburg battlefield helped me to more deeply understand what took place at Little Round Top and in Pickett's Charge. I found the program he's developed to be more than intriguing and sense it would have great value for participating companies.

EN: How did you come up with the idea for Learning Fields?

Lincoln meets with Union leaders at Antietam.
Charles Herbek: I have been intrigued by and schooled myself in military history from the first day I entered the Army in January 1975. I also formally taught Military History at the University of Richmond.

Additionally I have been conducting Battle Staff Rides for the University of Virginia Army ROTC program for the past 5 years as well as Battle Staff Rides for a company called Leadership Lessons from History for the past fifteen years.

My work at Computer Sciences Corporation required I become certified as a Project Manager.

I began to see a strong correlation between the Knowledge Areas (Scope, Time, Communications, Risk, Quality, Procurement, Human Resources and Stakeholder Management) and Process Groups of Project Management (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing) and the multitude of events that take place on the battlefields, particularly the Civil War battlefields in my region.

Watching management and mismanagement of projects cost millions of dollars of wasted funds, I decided that I could use this correlation to train leaders and executives to improve their bottom line by focusing on such business areas as Scope, Time, Risk, Communications Management. I would use the innovative method of a historical battlefield platform to focus on these identified business problem areas. And through the lessons learned from the battlefield commanders, help commercial leaders develop solutions to their own unique business challenges.

Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River
EN: Your training is directed to leaders. What is your past experience in leadership development?

CH: I have trained both formally and informally hundreds of junior leaders while serving in the US Army. As a commander, one of my sacred trusts was to ensure that the soldiers under my command received the best training and leadership available. I was responsible for many of the leader development programs. Additionally as a Commercial Project and Program leader part of my responsibility was to ensure the development of the professional technical and leadership skills of my employees.

Fredericksburg, aftermath.
EN: Why is the actual battlefield such an effective location for teaching leadership principles?

CH: Battlefields are places of inherent chaos that require some methodplogy to manage that chaos to stay alive, survive and win. Leadership quite bluntly is getting people to do what you want them to do when they are scared of dying. Battlefields have always placed a premium on this skill to ensure survival and hopefully victory.

Battlefield events are focused, the time frame succinct, and the response window very limited.

Being on the ground where the battle event and its correlated business processes took place provides a real time, unique, emotional experience, enhancing the learning opportunity.

Importance of managing resources.
EN: Why do so many leaders fail?

CH: Leading requires practice, humility, the willingness to learn from mistakes and a constant recognition that there are human beings in all parts of the equation. Missing any of these, even the mature leader runs the risk of a failure. There also is a tendency to believe success is possible simply because you can envision it, without full consideration given to the contrary realities of the moment.

EN: What will be the big take-aways for those who attend?

CH: The major take-away is summed up in my customer value proposition:

“How will I change my day-to-day business operations based on what I learned on this battlefield today?”

The specific take aways are an increased understanding of the importance and substance of the following knowledge areas.

Risk Management: All else pivots upon your skills in this area. Organizations unable to identify risk, mitigate risk, and resolve issues… will fail.

Procurement Management: The unsynchronized control of required resources will drive a stake through the heart of your schedule and potentially your ultimate success.

Human Resources Management: The selection, assignment, and team development of the employees who will deliver the results impacts the full spectrum of business operations. They are the ultimate action agents.

Communications Management: Without clear and understandable communications up, down, left, and right, organizational dissonance will prevail and not your organization.

Scope Management: A clear, understandable and fixed vision informs and inspires all committed to its success. There must be an initial center of gravity around which all things pivot as well as a method to introduce ordered change to that initial vision.

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For more information, visit

All B&W photos on this page courtesy the National Archives.