Category Archives: Visionaries Builders Maintainers

The Secret of the Amazing People That Hold the World Together

Have you been in a public restroom lately?  Take a minute and think about what it looked like…

  • Was there toilet paper all over the floor but none in the stalls?
  • Was the mirror nearly opaque?
  • Did the soap work and were there towels?


Silly questions you might think…odds are high that there were toilet paper and towels, and the mirror was (relatively) clean.  So, why was that area not an absolute disaster?


Clearly, someone has the responsibility of keeping that area clean.  In most public restrooms, you can find the ‘hour by hour’ chart that is kept to show that regular maintenance is done.  When that maintenance is not done, we notice!

The same is true with many things in today’s world but we can forget that if the grass is to be mown, the floors cleaned, and the plants watered, someone has to make it happen.

In her article How ‘Maintainers,’ Not ‘Innovators,’ Make the World Turn, Laura Bliss reminds us that, while “new technologies and their inventors [like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Larry Page] are often celebrated as society’s heroes,…the human-built world is maintained and sustained—so often by unnamed, unseen, and underpaid labor.”

Like the public restroom, maintenance isn’t usually appreciated until we miss it.  Sometimes, deferred maintenance can result in disaster like the fire protection system failure at the World Trade Center on 9/11, the levee failures in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota.  All well known examples of a little-recognized issue.

So, next time you celebrate innovation, don’t forget to take a look behind the scenes and look for the many maintainers that make it possible!


From Vision to Reality – A Different Perspective

A visionary imagines, a builder implements, and a maintainer improves performance.  Thanks to Jeff White for the heads up on this cartoon showing three similar roles.


Faith, Hope, and Love

Football Program Maintainers – Nick Saban

Today’s post is the last in a series on the three types of change resources in the world of football.   So far, we’ve talked about a Builder (Urban Meyer) and a Visionary ( Darrel “Mouse” Davis).  Today we’ll be talking about a very successful Maintainer.

Maintainers typically like being ‘experts.’  Although they don’t often get much publicity, Maintainers are key to the stability of every organization.  They excel at doing the same thing, the same way every time…and that’s what University of Alabama coach Nick Saban does.  His teams win football games (and championships) almost every year.

NickSaban_LSU-AL-07t (1)

Saban’s detailed plan for winning is affectionately called “The Process” around the university’s Tuscaloosa home and it encompasses everything from his players summer workouts to what he eats for breakfast (Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies thank you very much).  Saban wants things done the same way (HIS way) every time with the belief that if everyone does their job correctly, they will be successful.

Saban’s (some would say maniacal) need to control the details doesn’t mean that he’s not open to new ideas.  He was an early adopter of academic advisers and sports psychiatrists to help his teams be successful in less obvious facets of the game.

Maintainers can get a bad rap for wanting to ‘keep the process going’.  However, Saban shows us that doing the right things year after year can produce some pretty impressive results.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Football Program Visionaries – Who is Darrel Davis?

Today’s post is the second in a series on the three types of change resources in the world of football.   Last time, we talked about a Builder, Urban Meyer.  Today we’re going to talk about Darrel “Mouse” Davis, a true football visionary.  Haven’t heard of him?  Join the club.

As a reminder, Visionaries seldom live in the present because they prefer to look at the opportunities of the future. They are big idea people, often seeing opportunities before anyone else.

Many successful football coaches in the 1960s like Woody Hayes espoused the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ philosophy.  Hayes and Darrell Royal at Texas believed that ‘three things can happen to a forward pass and two of them are bad.’  So how did we get from that era to today’s multiple receiver, no huddle attack?

Say hello to Darrel “Mouse” Davis.  In the early 1960s as a high school coach in Oregon, he believed his young charges could take on Joe Paterno’s Penn State defense.  Why?  An offense that spread the ball to as many as four wide receivers.


Davis spread (no pun intended) the news about his offense at all levels of football.  In over 50 years, he coached high schoolers, collegians, and professionals (impressively, in four leagues…the CFL, NFL, Arena, and USFL).

How does a small town high school coach impact decades worth of football players?  He was a Visionary.   He could see the opportunities that passing the ball would give his team and he took full advantage of them.

So, although there are surely some famous Visionaries (John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia) and, some would argue, Steve Jobs), they aren’t all ‘celebrated leaders.’  Darrel Davis spent his lifetime ‘spreading the news’ about his vision and it impacted millions…even if few football fans know his name.

Photo Credit:

Bestselling Author Endorses Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers!

I’m excited to announce the first endorsement for Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers from one of the bestselling business authors in the world.  To date, he has over 20 million books in print!

Price Pritchett, Ph.D. has advised CEOs, presidents, and boards across a wide spectrum of industries, in many types of deals, under all kinds of economic conditions. He’s been quoted in Fortune, Business Week, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, most major newspapers, and been interviewed on CNN, CNBC, plus numerous cable channels.

Price is also the Founder and CEO of PRITCHETT, LP where we met in 2009.   It was only a short breakroom discussion during a a training class I was attending but it definitely inspired me.  I am honored to have his endorsement.  Thanks Price!

Price Pritchett

“Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers is a thought provoking story.  It will cause you to examine those around you and the roles they have.” Price Pritchett

Football Program Builders – Urban Meyer

We’re all surrounded by Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers.  The next three posts will describe one of each of the three types in the world of football.   Today, we’ll be talking about a famous Builder, Urban Meyer.

As a reminder, Builders like to ‘construct’ things (people, organizations, processes, relationships) until they no longer see opportunities for improvement. Then, it’s time to find something else to build.

Love him or hate him, Meyer’s name is synonymous with success in College Football.  In the last 10 years, he has two undefeated seasons (Utah – 2004 and Ohio State – 2012) and two National Championships (Florida – 2006 and 2008).   The success of 2012 has led to great expectations for 2013. Since Meyer has dealt with this before (I mean, the guy won two National Championships in three years!), you might think maintaining success is easy for him. Not so fast.

Building takes passion and energy.  Maintenance is awful.  It’s nothing but fatigue.  Once you reach the top, maintaining that beast is awful – Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer at the White House - 2009

Meyer sure sounds like a Builder to me. He’s energized by building a new program (Ohio State is his fourth(!) turnaround). At the same time, he realizes that maintaining is hard (even life threatening).

With success that has come via shady talent, Meyer is a polarizing figure who doesn’t seem to put down roots for long.   If he has a couple more successful seasons with the Buckeyes, I won’t be surprised if he finds the stress of maintaining too much to deal with.  Then, if he continues his Builder behavior, he will go looking for a new challenge.  Maybe the NFL?

Photo credit:

From Impossible Dream to Reality and Back Again!

Recently, I wrote about Daniel Nava, the 70 pound ninth grader who dreamed of playing Major League Baseball.  Nava saw his dream come true when he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw for the Boston Red Sox in 2010.  So, you can imagine the frustration he might have felt as he spent the entire 2011 season in Triple-A, one step away from his dream.

After playing in only 88 of Boston’s 162 games in 2012, no one expected Nava to have a major impact in 2013 but, halfway though the season, this writer argues that he deserves a place on the American League All-Star team.

2013_MLB_All-Star_Game_Logo (1)

Nava won’t be playing in the game tonight but don’t be surprised to see him in the future!

From dream (high school) to reality (grand slam in 2010) to dream (2011 in Triple-A) to reality (arguably one of the finest players at his position in the league), Nava’s story shows us that a vision doesn’t always come to pass all at once.  There may be many challenges to the vision that come your way but stay true to that initial vision…one day, you may find yourself in a place that you never even imagined!

Birth of a Book – Part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Johannes Mutzke on Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers. Click here to find out which type of person I feel is undervalued.  Have a great week!

Birth of a Book – Part 1

My friend and colleague, Johannes Mutzke, recently interviewed me about the process of writing Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers.  Take a look here and let us know what you think!

Things will go your way…if you hold on for one more day

Whenever I get frustrated about how long it takes me to get something done, I just think about ol’ William Lloyd Garrison.  Who’s that, you might ask?  Well, Mr Garrison spent over 30 years(!) working on the cause of the abolition of slavery.

Photo of William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

30 years!  That sure seems like a long time to wait.  I wonder how that process went for him.

A friend of mine proposed that my book (which took only a measly 7 years) followed a process like:

observation – discovery – idea – vision – frustration – frustration – attempt – discussion with friends – renewed attempt – work on it every day for 20 minutes, learning – TRIUMPH!

I’d say that’s pretty accurate – except for the TRIUMPH part.  Still got a few thousand books to sell before getting there.

So, whatever you’re doing today (and have been doing for a while), don’t give up!  You never know how long it’s going to take before things start going your way.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia