Wisdom, Insight, Invention – Kathy Kolbe

clip_image002Kathy Kolbe, Founder of Kolbe Corp,  did not invent conation, but the history, the study of conation, and most importantly the measurement and application of conative ability in individuals and teams has been her passion for decades.  It was through this journey that Kathy created The Kolbe Wisdom™  and invented the first assessment specifically designed to measure and describe conative ability, the Kolbe A™ Index.

Assessing the Mind:

Today’s assessment tools break out the functional areas of the mind into three areas, Cognitive (how we think),  Affective (how we feel) and Conative (how we get things done).

One of the first modern day measurement tools in this area , The Wonderlic Test was created by industrial psychologist Eldon F. Wonderlic in 1936 and a form of the test  is still used today by many organizations including the National Football League.

Later new tests were developed that focused on the  affective portion of the mind, some of the most popular include the DISC (1948),  Birkman  (1951), and the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962).   These test were designed to measure feelings, social styles, and other affective behaviors. 

It was not until 1987 that the first assessment for conative abilities, The Kolbe A ™Index was introduced to the public.  Interestingly, the journey to bring it into being is almost as interesting as the test itself.  As a young girl and a student, Kathy had to learn how to look at things differently.  As a dyslexic in a time where we did not have the accommodations and resources  that students have today, traditional learning was an uphill battle.  (Kathy’s form of dyslexia is so strong that things we take for granted like telling right from left or reading the hands of a clock are a challenge.)  Differences in how she and other learned led to her fascination with the patterns she began to see in the way minds worked. She had a natural mentor whose thoughts she often challenged. Eldon F. Wonderlic was Kathy’s father.  Her early work was with all forms of uniqueness, including the gifted and learning disabled in educational environments. But a near fatal 1985 auto accident put things in a new perspective  Kathy’s severe injuries included both physical and mental trauma that left her unable to read or write for over a year. She overcame what many believed would be career ending disabilities by using what she had learned about conation, the instinct-driven capabilities she knew she could count on. In the process of re-training her own brain, she learned more about not just how to measure conative abilities, but how to apply them to work situations, relationships, health and other adult challenges.  Her determination to write the book that became the foundation of The Kolbe Wisdom™  startled all doubters and led to her becoming known as the proof of her own theories.

The basis of her consulting and coaching process is her discovery of our conative Action Modes® that are the basis of a person’s MO (modus operandi). Since conation is the source of human actions, reactions and interactions knowing a person’s MO allowed Kathy company, Kolbe Corp, to predict human performance.

Four Action Modes®

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Fact Finder – the instinctive way we gather and share information.
Follow Thru – the instinctive way we arrange and design.
Quick Start – the instinctive way we deal with risk and uncertainty.
Implementor – the instinctive way we handle space and tangibles.

The Kolbe A Index result is a graphical representation of an individual’s way of getting things done. Numeric results in each Action Mode represent different points on a continuum, on which every possibility is an equally positive behavior. There is no such thing as a negative or “bad” Kolbe Index result. Some, however, are more appropriate results for a specific job or on a particular team.

(Source:  http://www.Kolbe.com )

For over 20 years Kolbe’s assessments, strategies, and wisdom have benefited tens of thousands of individuals and thousands of corporations and organizations around the globe. Great examples of how individuals and organizations respond to Kolbe resources can be found in this article by Joe Williams speaking about his experience with Kolbe at NASA, as well as these article from the Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, and  Time Magazine.

To experience the  Kolbe A Index for yourself, simply click here. (purchase required) After you complete the assessment be sure to listen to the audio sessions that accompany your results from Kathy Kolbe herself.  It’s just one more form of Kolbe innovation.   

I hope you enjoyed this Inventor’s Profile as we celebrate National Innovators Month. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking at things in a new way – Lon Safko

Inventors live a life of ‘firsts” where the ideas they dream up become new products, create solutions, and sometimes just bring a smile.  To kick off August’s series on for National Inventors Month, I reached out to an inventor who always makes me smile – the one and only Lon Safko. 

Lon is the founder of eleven successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc., which developed Three-Dimensional Internet Advertising for business, promotions, and education, for which Lon holds two patents one on Virtual Electronic Retailing and the other Three Dimensional  Internet Advertising.(US Pat. 7072949 and US Pat. 7546356)  and has a third pending. As an inventor in the early days of personal computing and software development, the patent laws were different. If Lon’s copyrights from the ’80’s and ’90’s were patents like we do it today, he would have an additional  125 software and 35 hardware patents.

Lon been recognized for his creativity with such prestigious awards as; The Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, The Arizona Software Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, The Public Relations Society of America’s, Edward Bernays, Mark of Excellence Award, and nominated as a Fellow of the nation’s Computer History Museum. Lon has also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, PC Novice, Inc. Magazine, and Popular Science Magazines just to name a few. Lon was recently selected by the Smithsonian institution to represent “The American Inventor” at their annual conference.

I chatted with Lon this week and asked him a few questions.  Here is what he had to say…

“When you see your world in a different perspective, you see new ways to do everything!”  ~ Lon Safko

What is your favorite invention?

I like all of the obvious one’s like the car, electricity, the light bulb.  No invention has affected my life more than the computer.  From the very first Apple II  until today.  I learn from it, make a living from it, am entertained by it, manage my companies with it, communicate through it, and make a living from it.  If you take away every major modern invention today, but leave me my computer…  I can still do it all!

Why do you invent?

Because I see things.  I make matches.  I see a problem, then immediately see something that can be combined to solve that problem. It’s kind of  like a Google search engine in my head, everything just matches together. I also look at things from behind, backwards, upside down.  Like the paper models that have become so popular . (For one of Lon’s favorite models  click here. They are fun for kids and grown ups alike not to mention great for classroom projects.)

 What was it like the first time you saw one of your inventions in the Smithsonian?

Wow!  It was humbling.  Before I saw the items, they published a newsletter, that featured: Darwin, Wyeth, Edison, and Safko.   That was insane!  When they actually asked me to represent the “American Inventor” at their annual conference, I couldn’t speak.  I did speak, just not for a day after they asked.  Having 18 inventions in the Smithsonian Institute and more than 30,000 personal documents, is like being an actor and winning 18 Academy Awards.  The “Smith” is the ultimate valuator.  I guess to make a short story long, I felt honored.

How does your passion for innovation and invention tie into your work and books on Social Media.

Just as when the computer first came out, I immediately recognized it as disruptive technology.  Then it was the Internet.  Then Email.  Then eCommerce.  Then Social Media.  We haven’t even scratched the surface on how we can combine all of these technologies to create amazing new applications.  And, social media incorporates many of my passions; innovation, creativity, communications, computers, marketing, and sales.  It’s just the next cutting edge innovation!

( Lon’s book on social media, The Social Media Bible, at 840 pages is by far the biggest book  there is on the topic.  It’s choc full of the stories of the the evolution of the medium though interviews with the innovators and inventors how have pioneered the industry. Watch for The Social Media Bible II coming out this Fall from John Wiley and Sons.)

 

I hope you enjoyed meeting one of my “inventor” friends.  There are more to come.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking for Inspiration and Innovation

August is National Inventors Month,  a time when we celebrate invention and creativity. The tradition began in 1998 when  the United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest magazine came together to honor our country’s creators. 

Finding the bright light

Lots of us see things that we would like to change or problems we would like to solve.  Inventors have the ability to take that idea and bring it to life. 

I love hanging out with inventors

My love of invention and passion for innovation just may be genetic. Both of my grandfathers were inventors – Grandpa Bill focused his creativity on his trade as a brew master (here is a link I found to one of his patents from 1937) while Grandpa Leo was an engineer and focused on mechanical devices.    Early in my career I had the opportunity to spend six years in the Silicon Valley and work with some brilliant inventors as the re-invented the way we work with data, created portable computers – wow can you imagine –  and dreamed up things that today we take for granted.

Vision Creates Energy

What I learned at Grandpa’s knee and later in the emerging world of technology is that an inventor’s vision creates energy.  In the inventors I know, it is so charged that you can feel it.  So in honor of National Inventor’s Month I have asked some of them for permission to tell their stories.  I hope you will follow along, it’s bound to be enlightening.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Answer or Hypothesis?

Last week, we explored the power of a simple word “WHY” and the impact it can make on decision  making, strategy and life in general. 

Continually asking the question WHY, until we can go no further, narrows the frame of reference so that you can get to and answer – or does it?

Some questions have no answers

Simple questions have answers. For instance: Is Washington D.C. the capital of the United States of America.?   The answer is Yes, it is.  The answer is one that most of us know and can be supported in many ways by looking on the Internet, at a map, or in an atlas. Questions that speak to past actions also may be answered definitively in many cases.  For instance: Was John F. Kennedy the 35th President of the United States.  The answer again, Yes, he was

But when we seek answers to forward looking questions, the answer is almost always conditional. We make assumptions, project future events, and anticipate outcomes.  But rarely do we have answers.  We plan for the future based on a hypothesis.

Merriam Webster defines the word hypothesis as follows:

1 a : an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument

    b : an interpretation of a practical situation or condition taken as the ground for action
2 : a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences
3 : the antecedent clause of a conditional statement

synonyms hypothesis, theory, law mean a formula derived by inference from scientific data that explains a principle operating in nature. hypothesis implies insufficient evidence to provide more than a tentative explanation <a hypothesis explaining the extinction of the dinosaurs>. theory implies a greater range of evidence and greater likelihood of truth <the theory of evolution>. law implies a statement of order and relation in nature that has been found to be invariable under the same conditions <the law of gravitation>.

“Based on our current thinking…”

A friend of mine, Morris Callaman,  is a venture law attorney, a founder’s counsel, and a very successful angel investor. When we work together on projects, he is the usually the first to temper my enthusiasm and certainly with a very important phrase:  “Based on our current thinking…”  And he is  always correct.  While I might do a great job of structuring assumptions, modeling cash flows, forecasting consumer behavior, and laying out a strategy for the team, future events are just that, future events.  Variations in the world around us, new opportunities, and unexpected hurdles all can impact the eventual results.  The business plan is not an answer.  It is a hypothesis that is tested by the team over time.  Only at the end of our business experiment, when we measure the outcome, will we have the actual answer. 

Don’t confuse confidence with certainty

As leaders, we must inspire confidence in those we work with.  Their lives, livelihoods, and aspirations are directly affected by the direction we set along the journey.  If we can not display the confidence necessary to engender our team’s trust, they are unlikely to go the distance with us.  But long term success depends our our ability to not confuse our own confidence with a sense of certainty.  When we are CERTAIN we have an absolute answer to a complex question, we do ourselves and our teams a disservice.  Leading, innovating, and growing all hinge on change.  We can postulate, model, and plan for outcomes, but we must always take into account that outcomes will be the result of actual events and our actions, not what we modeled months before.  Our job as leaders is to continually test our hypotheses, adjust for variables, and inspire trust in our teams so that they can deliver the best possible outcomes.  For only later will we know if we actually had the right answer.

So next time you are  faced with  a question…

ask yourself, is this an answer or a hypothesis?    It might change the way you look at where you are and where you and your team are heading and the steps you will take along the way.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Size matters – Or Does it?

Size Matters I tell you!

It’s the age old question – Does size matter?  Well my guess is that just like almost any of the key questions in life… it depends. 

Let’s look at some business examples and you can decide:

Size and economic development

When it comes to economic development, it appears that size does matter in the minds of economic developers.  Most economic development agencies  spend the bulk of their time and energy in the recruitment of BIG companies.  It looks really good when you go to justify your existence to the  legislature and you can show that you brought in 1,000 jobs to your state by recruiting someone like Google to your town.  They might just approve your budget for next year.   Yet comparatively little attention is given to saving or helping to start up one small business.  It’s funny really – since as a group, small businesses – in every state –  are the single largest employer group.  Even bigger than the Feds or the state itself.  Take a look at the composition charts at YourEconomy.org to see what I mean.

Size and Innovation

How about Innovation?  So often we hear that the greatest innovations come from small companies since the big ones are too mired down in red tape and inertia to create the new and novel.  Maybe not.  This is the list of  the top companies by patent awards.  Click on the links for each of the companies listed below to browse their innovations.  IBM, Samsung, Canon, Microsoft, Intel , Matsushita, Toshiba ,Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Micron, Seiko Epson, General Electric, Fujifilm, Infineon Technologies, LG, Texas Instruments, Honda (Source:  IP.com)

But patents are only one measure of innovation and perhaps one that is understated.  There are many inventions that never make it through the patent process. It is just too time consuming and expensive for many small companies, not to mention that actually enforcing a patent claim can cost thousands if not millions of dollars.  As one small business person told me last week: “Big Company X is violating our patent.  We called to inform them of it and requested further discussion as to either stopping or paying us a royalty – there response was – Sue me.  We could never afford to do that and they knew it.” 

Innovations are inventions that actually make a difference in the marketplace. Again, size has it’s advantages since bringing a product to market takes LOTS of capital (money) to cast a wide net.  Yes there are firms that started small and then grew rapidly through innovation and acceptance.  But they are the ones that beat odds that would put a Las Vegas casino consistently in the money. 

How about innovation compared to country size?  Big countries with lots of universities and leading economies have the advantage.  Right?  Maybe, Maybe not.  If we measure innovation by the number of patents per capita, there are some very interesting results,  just take a look. Some of the smallest countries and with equally small economies, top the list.  The economic big guns, the Japan, the UK,  United States, Canada, China, rank as #19, #38, #40, #41, and #60 respectively. 

So when it comes to innovation, BIG has the advantage of resources but perhaps small has the advantage of greater personal motivation and reward for the innovator.

Size and Business Agility

Here small has the advantage according to most business books.  Small companies are nimble, and can adjust their plans much more quickly than their behemoth brethren.  So on the surface it’s advantage to the Smalls.  Yet, we often forget that it takes more than cutting through bureaucracy to create agility – it takes the resources to bank roll changes in direction.  Here the advantage is almost always to the bigger firms whose access to capital on a short term basis provides many more avenues to resources.  The smaller company may be able to make a decision faster – but the bigger one can get it funded and in action faster.  So in this case – again, it depends.  

So with all that said – Does size matter – it almost always depends.  But one way or another each type of organization has its advantages and disadvantages.  So perhaps the answer comes down to what Mark Twain once said about what really matters.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

An interview with my favorite Rocket Scientist – meet Joe Williams

I’ve been fascinated by space ever since I was a kid. I still remember the night when it all began.  My friends and I had pitched our tent in the back yard for a sleep-over and were toasting marshmallows over the barbeque when Mom and Dad called us all inside to watch history happen.  Before our wondering eyes, American Astronauts took their first steps on the moon.  It inspired me, encouraged my love for science and technology, and made me proud to be an American.  It made a difference.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m proud to say I know one.  Meet Joe Williams of NASA, my favorite Rocket Scientist.  More than your ‘Average Joe” he’s a husband and father seeking to make a difference in all that he does whether its dancing with his daughters in their dance recital  or in his professional   work, as a “rocket scientist” contributing towards establishing a sustainable and permanent human presence off Earth.

I first met Joe through Twitter (he’s @RikerJoe) and by reading his blog titled Leading Space (one of the best blogs out there if you are a student of leadership like me.) Online conversations evolved into emails then phone calls and this week I even got to visit the Johnson Space Center in Houston to meet him along with  some of the team in person – what a treat!

As part of our ongoing People Making a Difference series, here and on Little Life Stories, I asked Joe a few questions.  Here is what he had to share…

“Be a leader, be a friend, be of service.”  Joe Williams

JKW:  Can you tell me a little bit about what you are up to at NASA these days?

Joe:  My current project is working with our team in determining how NASA’s mission operations in Houston acquires the goods and services it needs to fulfill its role in human spaceflight.  About 85% of NASA’s budget is spent on procuring goods and services from the private sector, and mission operations is no different.  Whether it is Mission Control, our training facilities where we train astronauts, or the people who work in them, we are heavily reliant upon our contractor workforce to accomplish our mission.  With the recent policy shift mandated by the White House for NASA away from the certainties associated with near-term Moon landings and into the uncertainties and ambiguities of new technology development, the task before me is made even more difficult.  What is the near-term role of mission operations?  How do we procure the goods and services we need to fulfill that role?  I love a good challenge, and it’s here!

JKW:  That’s going to take a lot of leadership focus.  Who are some of the leaders you have worked with and been mentored by who inspire you.

Joe:  I’m inspired by Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.  A few years ago I served as his Executive Officer for a five-month period while he was an Associate Administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.  Scott has the amazing blend of a strong technical background (his is in physics as is mine), a grasp of the subtleties of space policy, and the ability to formulate and articulate the combination of both in an amazing way.  Scott inspired and encouraged me to stretch myself in many ways.  Two of these in particular are to be comfortable working with leadership at least two levels above my pay grade, which is paying tremendous dividends in my current work.  The second is that we are capable of handling a tremendous volume of work – that the only impediment is our own self-imposed limitations of what we think we are capable of doing.  Scott always smiled when I would report to him something along the following lines: “I’m working two dozen items and I believe you would like to hear the status on six of them.”

JKW:  A key to leadership is understanding what really matters – what ‘matters’ to you?

Joe: I’m rooted in my three core values: learning and discovery,  fairness and respect, and excellence.  NASA’s mission and results align with all three.  Therefore, NASA gives me the opportunity to make a difference directly in creating a sustainable and permanent human presence off Earth.  I feel strongly it is our destiny to eventually leave Earth and settle other places.  It’s part of our heritage as a nation to explore and discover the world and universe around us.

Family is incredibly important to me.  My wonderful wife JoAnn keeps  me grounded so that I never forget what’s important at home, even when I am hyper focused on space exploration and our NASA mission. Together we are creating a better future for our daughters.  She’s an important reason why I can what I do.   On the lighter side – I am a HUGE Texas Longhorns fan.  Burnt Orange is my favorite color especially when cheering for my favorite team.

JKW:  If you had three wishes, what would they be?

Joe:  My three wishes are tied to my three core values:

  1. That everyone can get the education he or she needs to make a difference;
  2. That we can treat each other with fairness and respect; and
  3. That each of us will demand excellence from ourselves and from each other.

In the final countdown…

Spending time with great leaders is an “out of this world” experience.  What I learned in my visit to NASA is that The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is more than just about space exploration – it’s a breeding ground for our nation’s leaders, a crucible for innovations of all kinds, and a source of inspiration and pride for Americans everywhere.

NASA history began when John F. Kennedy said: “”I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”  That one goal sparked thousands of innovations, new technologies , new industries, and through them hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs for Americans, yet in a time when we need them more than ever, we may be missing the opportunity to set new and equally aggressive goals.

Perhaps it’s time to reengage the American spirit with a new goal.  I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out,…. Washington…are you listening?

Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Free – Isn’t

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Lon Safko, co-author of the Social Media Bible speak to a group of counselors from SCORE and the SBDC as a prelude to Greater Phoenix SCORE’s Social Media Event this January 14th and 15th.

During his presentation, Lon kept emphasizing the reasons, excellent ones BTW, that businesses need to pay attention to and utilize social media.  And repeatedly he punctuated his message with a continuing theme…Oh Yes!  It’s FREE!

But is it?Continue reading

Promise and Compromise

You’ve probably had the  experience where through the diverse objectives and perspectives of the people on your team, what you set out to create and what you got where not exactly the same.   As concessions are made to reach a point of consensus, a completely different animal begins to takes shape.Continue reading

Just a bit of Auld Lang Syne – Farewell 2009

The year 2009 will be a year to remember- fondly by some and less by others.  But however you feel about this year soon past – 2010 is just around the corner. (Or as my Aussie friends remind me – It’s already here!)

As the clock strikes Twelve – New Years tradition is to gather with friends and family to wish them well – sing a song and exchange an embrace.  We’ve all heard the song and probably sung it – most of us badly – at least I have. 

It is believed Robert Burns wrote the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne in the 1700’s. (Most say in  1788.)  The 1700’s were  challenging years for the Scots – and in January of 1788 – it was the passing of an era with the death at 68 of the long exiled Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This video has Auld Lang Syne as sung by Dougie MacLean on his album Tribute.  

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acxnmaVTlZA]

As we sing Auld Lang Syne to this challenging decade of zero years,  let’s take a page from from the song and put it behind us with fond memories of what was good and focus in on where and why we might raise our ‘cup of kindness’ to the decade to come.

Looking Back on the Big Zero

The decade of the Big Zero was not all bad – it had it’s highs and it’s lows.  But the highs for me included starting my own company (CorePurpose turns 8 in July), publishing my first book, leading an inspiring team at ASBA for two years, working with the team at Parenting Arizona and OTEF to make a lasting difference in our community, helping RiboMed move forward in it’s quest for new methods of early cancer detection so we can catch it early and stop the spread before it harms the ones we love, and watching my sons grow from boys into men that their Dad and I can be very proud if.   All in all, not a bad list.

Looking forward to the Big One

As I look towards 2010  and beyond – let’s call it the Decade of the BIG ONE – I’m starting a To Do List – not resolutions to break – just actions to take.

  • Help someone find a job they love.
  • Have lunch with a  friend to share ideas on a regular basis
  • Pick an OLD Problem and Solve at it in a NEW way at least every other day.
  • Recognize someone’s leadership potential and commit to be their mentor
  • Accomplish  ‘Small Things” as suggested by Rebel Brown in this post at Phoenix Rising.
  • Dust off that Five Year Plan and Refine it for 2010 and beyond
  • Identify What We Do Best – Focus our energies there and outsource the rest
  • Zero in on finding my QUEST company and get it growing.
  • Help my son Nick (he’s 18) write his business plan for HIS dream business so that when he writes his  2019 Look Back List he can say – “The Decade of the Big One was when I launched my business – and look what we have achieved.”

So, there you have it – my Look Back List and my To Do List going forward.  Have you started yours?

Thanks for stopping – best wishes for a Safe and Happy New Years and a record breaking 2010 and beyond.  Get ready – this decade will be the BIG ONE. 

Joan Koerber-Walker