S2 E97 — Frame Blindness and Decision Traps

These are the experts who love their profession instead of a specific organization like Sustaining-Associates do. They’re attracted to the challenges that come with large, complicated systems found in most organizations at the Mature stage of growth. 

“5”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Stay away from the ‘I did it, and so can you’ type of messaging today because it’s overly simplistic and does not account for the myriad of ways that people are so different from one another.”  Aries

Hi and welcome to Saturday’s Episode 97 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 15th day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E96Two Kindred Spirits Drawn to Mature Complications; S2 E95The Founder’s Curse Unleashed by the Edifice Complex; S2 E94Sustained Growth: Slicing Turnover and Grooming Experts

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E97 My Top 19 Reasons for Failing; S1 E96Old Rabbits Die Hard; S1 E95No Back to Work Days or Hump Days Allowed; S1 E94Wasn’t There a Movie about the Tau of Steve?


This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth and Maturity stages.  But, each with the emphasis on how a specific stage provides another better fit opportunity for one or more of 16 Talent Profiles.

9. Consultant Life and Mutual Fund Company

It was founded in the late 1800s by a former governor in the state capitol of California. Roughly a century later the executives decided to move to Newport Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean so families could enjoy a higher standard of living.

It was the kind of mature organization that employed maintenance workers just to polish its brick entry way.  It was the kind of mature organization that hired and groomed knowledge workers before the term was coined. 

116 Institutional Traditionalists

They included 116 Institutional Traditionalists, Systematic-Professionals delivering products and services in heavily regulated markets the company served, such as annuities, and mutual funds, a variety of investment products and services to individuals, businesses, and pension plans.

Four Talent Profiles Attracted to Systematic-Professional Organizations

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Why?  Because 116 Institutional Traditionalists are adept at managing fact-based complex systems with traditional analytical methods and tools. They’re dedicated to maintaining the institution’s smooth running. 

They defend the status quo by believing in preserving the rules and procedures.  They are practical, realistic and matter-of-fact.  In short 116 Institutional Traditionalists make good administrators because of their talent for organization.

Like other large hospitals, banking and financial institutions it was probable that a supervisor or a manager or even an executive hadn’t encountered a major transition from one growth stage to another over their careers.

Two Systematic-Professionals Attracted to Maturity Growth Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

The buzzword my client described when he engaged me was this project was a major cultural change.  

But, it would unfold over many years, so urgency wasn’t felt, as much as it was anticipated.  

I had worked in several large, mature companies and had come face-to-face with immune systems that rejected any type of change.  

Maintaining the status quo across product lines and departments and divisions had become a way of life. 

My client told me our challenge was — how can you inject innovation into a century’s old mature company? 

It was a complex, complicated maneuver requiring tons of new knowledge and new idea packaging.  

It reflected the company’s structural change from a mutual ownership to a mutual holding company business model. 

114 Brand-as-Experts  

They become known for their impartial analysis and an affinity for agreed upon standards.  They excel in fact-based work situations in which you advance through continuing education, peer reviews and achieving licenses.  

The co-founder served as a model.  He  grew from being an investment analyst into a fund manager and co-founded their global fixed income investment business with  hundreds of billions managed in a Total Return Fund.

He was known as “the nation’s most prominent bond investor”. As a 114 Brand-as-Expert  he advised the Treasury during financial crises and was described as a fund manager who made people filthy-wealthy.  

In a way, he became the epitome of what my client had in mind for educating supervisors, managers and executives.

The goal as to bottle his ability to identify market inefficiencies and exploit them by adjusting the company’s strategies.  He embraced new technologies and exotic derivative products while harassing the power of the internet.

There was a requirement for a special blend of talents and skills across high-yield businesses building better traders and analysts and salespeople.

Rrom a management and executive development strategy it was to cultivate the ability to distill complex ideas into something simple enough to take action.

My client wanted build a hybrid curriculum drawing upon university experts with internal consultants to offer the early stages of a corporate education division.

“Advanced Curriculum for Officers” focused more on  managing divisions and new units in anticipation of favoring newer industry niches and technologies, but leading in a strong tradition based on an industry resistant to change.  

My first role was to manage external experts, define the curriculum based on executive assessments and development plans, and to provide referrals to seminars and recommended development activities.

Plans were based upon individual assessments. They defined gaps to be closed to qualify for the next advancement step, and admission into the high potential development talent pool.

The curriculum was the first for officers and included new courses I researched and designed, updated management courses they had (Management by Objectives was obsolete) and a curriculum I had developed and Fluor and Unisys.  

The plan included an “intrapreneurially shared services approach” I had described as a business model I’d experienced and managed before. 

During and after “de-mutalization” breakups, my client’s corporate group would have to sell and customize courses for the new business groups while competing with outside vendors and universities.

Top priorities for my client were how to bring about change, how to prevent frame blindness and avoid decision bias from a long list of decision-making traps plus scenario building tools.

I was all too happy to oblige!  


“3”  Steve Zahn, 51:You’ve known things to be more work than anticipated, but today’s thing is ridiculous. Devote yourself when it’s adding up to something that will matter. This isn’t. Get out of it.” Scorpio

Wait, what?  

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“5”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Stay away from the ‘I did it, and so can you’ type of messaging today because it’s overly simplistic and does not account for the myriad of ways that people are so different from one another.”  Aries

So, this is really hard to do.  Except what I intend to accomplish is not so much copy me, but to choose which talent cultures work for you as a best fit.  Ask yourself how many degrees from high to medium do you need: independence, affiliation, speed, mastery, disruptive innovation, improvement, new knowledge creation or embodied knowledge.

“3”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “The reality of a situation is much better than you’re thinking it is. You just have to ask different questions of it. A person coming from a different place in life will help you frame things another way.” Taurus 

How in the world is this unending pandemic much better than I think?

“3”  Steve Smith, 30: “Any mistakes in the work will actually be mistakes of planning. The more time you spend thinking ahead and setting yourself up for a win, the better your day will go.” Gemini

Unless, of course, I fall victim to the curse plaguing almost every introvert I know — OBE, overtaken by events!

“3”  Steve Howey, 42:Your natural responses cannot be correct or incorrect. They just are. The behavior you choose after you feel a certain way can be very much wrong or right. You’ll choose carefully tonight.” Cancer

I guess we’ll have to wait for 8 hours or more to find out.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:It turns out that the period of time when you felt like you were meandering was actually a long and deliberate planning stage for what’s going on with you today.” Virgo

Busted.  How long?  Almost a year of surviving until I could break the code of jargon my new career spoke in.  And then that career transition was repeated and repeated in several industries, types of companies, and at various growth stages.

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:When you are in an observant, receptive and artistic mood, ‘always,’ ‘never’ and other extremes of language fall away. You revel in life’s many colors and shades beyond black and white.” Libra

As much as I want to own this one, I only picked it for the first part of the first sentence up until the second comma.  What was I thinking?

“4”  Steve Harvey, 62:There was a time when you stretched yourself to fit a role. And then, slowly, steadily, you grew to fit the title. You’re about to repeat this process with a new challenge.” Capricorn 

Was there ever!  I totally talked myself into my first job in a new career in a mature company about to fall into a decline.  I learned so much in it and didn’t know it at the time but it fueled this original research I taught at UCI’s Executive MBA program.  So, bring on the new challenge!  And, now I’m struggling to describe in this “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” work-in-progress

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4636 to 4733.




    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate


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