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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harvard Business Review FINAL Post:: ROI on Fitness

“What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?” (by Leonard Berry, Ann Mirabito, and William Baun, p. 104). Employee wellness programs have been around for decades. I actually wrote one for the FBI. These programs aim to change employee habits to reduce health risks and to adopt a lifestyle that will improve the quality of life. Now we have some hard data: a 6 to 1 return on investment. Such wellness programs are no longer merely nice to have (a kind of cosmetic sales benefit for working at the company), rather a solid return on investment—prevention oriented. The authors list six pillars of such programs. Read the article to find out what they are and how they could apply to your company. Are you getting a 6:1 ROI somewhere else in your company?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post # 8: Communication

Defend Your Research… “I Can Make Your Brain Look Like Mine” (by Uri Hasson, p. 32). Hasson, a professor at Princeton, studied how brains couple—when one person speaks what happens to the listener. In highly resonant (my word) or attuned communication, the brain activity of both speaker and listener are eerily in sync. In fact, in highly resonant conversations where active listening is afoot, the listener’s brain activity actually anticipates what the speaker will say next. If you’ve ever finished a colleague’s or a mate’s sentence, you’ve experienced this.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post # 7: Professional Boards

“The Case for Professional Boards” (by Robert Pozen, p.51). Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s Business School, argues that despite having star-studded board members for oversight, many financial institutions went down the chute in 2008-9 and had to be rescued from insolvency. He advocates for professional board members who do board governance for a living. He argues for a typical board size to be 7 directors and wants members to have real-world expertise in the company’s business space. Finally, he strongly contends that all boards meet regularly in executive session without management present. In such meetings, board members tend to talk more candidly about what bothers them. This is critical for the organization whether a for-profit or non-profit.

Harvard Business Review Post #6: New Media & Best Buy CEO

How I Did It Column…”Best Buy’s CEO on Learning to Love Social Media” (by Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy). Tweeting regularly and vigorously, Dunn himself is an avid user of social media. And despite having had his Twitter account hacked, sending out an embarrassing tweet to many and much of the heartburn that social media can cause—Dunn is an avid, if not rabid, fan of new media. A couple of stats: Best Buy’s website influences 50% of their in-store sales, and 30% of their online customers actually come into the store to pick up purchases. I found this a great read for any CEO who’s starting to think about social media (and if you’re not…why not?). Of particular interest is an excerpt (on p. 48) from Best Buy’s social media policy. This is worth checking out if you’re considering writing your company’s policy—and I’d say that’s a smart idea.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #5: New Media Ringmaster

“Why You Need a New Media Ringmaster” (by Patrick Spenner, p 78). From the Corporate Executive Board, Spenner advocates a more integrated marketing communications approach to brand management. Up to now, marketing, corporate communications, and customer service all act in many companies a bit like the blind men holding different parts of the elephant—each thinking he has a different animal. Spenner advocates for a super integrator, much like a ringmaster at the circus—especially people with social media skills. The three skills he sees as necessary are integrative thinking (can combine old and new on the fly); lean collaboration skills (be able to beg, borrow across the organization); and high speed responsiveness (detect early opportunities or threats and react fast with social media).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #4: Brand Building

“The One Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand” (by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan, p. 80). Barwise (London Business School) and Meehan (IMD) recommend paying attention to four key potentials offered by social media. Examples: Building trust (with the customer) by delivering on your promise and innovating beyond the familiar. The authors use Virgin Atlantic’s social media tactics as an example—like travel tips from its flight crews and much more. They also highlight one of my favorite YouTube stars, Tom Dickson of Blendtec, whose videos, called Will it Blend, show Tom blending IPads, leaf rakes, and cell phones. These videos are hysterical, AND they have gotten Blendtec over 100 million views on the Tube and sales have increased by 700%! Not a bad ROI.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #3: Reputation

“Reputation Warfare” (by Leslie Gaines-Ross, p. 70) A reputation strategist at Webber Shandwick (a global PR firm), Leslie Gaines-Ross addresses a growing concern for many companies—how to protect their image when they come under fire from anyone with a computer, Facebook page, or Twitter account. Because this actually happened to a friend of mine, I paid close attention to the author’s six pieces of advice. Here are three—read the entire article for the rest: Avoid a disproportionate show of force (or you’ll look like a corporate bully); respond fast…if bureaucracy gets in the way, you’re sunk; and, empower your own team of social media folks to tell your story. Be sure to see the sidebar on p.75 about how a single employee using YouTube can tank a major corporation’s profits.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #2: Digital Branding

“Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places” (by David Edleman, p. 62). Edleman, a leader in McKinsey’s Global Marketing Strategy practice, has some definite opinions that marketing directors should listen to. Specifically, today’s consumers are bypassing the typical marketing funneling process in favor of what he calls a consumer decision process: 1) Selecting brands; 2) evaluating by getting peer and reviewer opinions; 3) buying the brand; and 4) enjoying and advocating the brand. And if the consumers’ bonds get strong enough, they skip steps 1 and 2 and go straight to buying and advocating. That describes my relationship with Hondas, for sure!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reviewing Dec. Harvard Business Review

This week I’ll be reviewing the December 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review—focused on Social Media...VERY important for any business.

First off, kudos to Adi Ignatius, the editor in chief at the Harvard Business Review (HBR). If you’ve been reading the HBR for any length of time, you’ll know the impact Ari has had since coming from TIME (as Deputy Managing Editor) to become the editor of the HBR. As a result of Ari’s hand, the HBR has a hipper feeling, is a quicker read, is better designed and is a much more digitalized (blogged, podcast, etc.) publication. In short, it’s useful, up to date, and a great value proposition for any leader. So, thanks, Adi.

Stay tuned this week for the review that I think you'll find directly applicable to your company's bottom line. .

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #7 (Final)- Intentional Change

Intentional Change: Boyatzis has developed what he calls intentional change, particularly useful when making positive change. The model is: 1) Determine your ideal self (who you want to be at your very best—your vision for your best future); 2) Inventory your “real self” (who you are right now); 3) Know your strengths and weaknesses and establish a learning agenda to address them; 4) Experiment with new behaviors that work on strengths (and manage weaknesses); 5) Develop resonant and close relationships to help you in each stage of the process.

Final Words: As leaders, we all fall prey to the ups and downs that go with the territory. As you see yourself or others begin to tailspin, via the Sacrifice Syndrome, toward negative attractors and ultimately toward dissonance, consider Resonant Leadership by Boyatzis and McKee to be a leadership parachute!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post # 6- Compassion

Compassion: The authors have a great definition for compassion—empathy in action. They make the distinction between compassion and sympathy: Compassion is a positive action. They use the compelling example of Lechesa Tsenoli, who was a prisoner in South Africa during apartheid. He reached out in compassion to his own jailers, one in particular. By seeing him as a person and talking about their families, Tsenoli changed the way he was treated. But the compassion started with his changing his view of his own captors. And the simple technique to start this process of compassion toward others is simply by listening to them. The authors offer three components of compassion: 1) empathy for others; 2) caring for others; and, 3) a willingness to act on those feelings. The authors talk about creating a culture of compassion and use an example of a vision statement from Summa Healthcare Systems that is as good a one as I have ever read (p. 189-90). A final section that I particularly liked was how to become a more resonant executive coach—my chosen field. And I think this section might well become a guidebook for internal coaches and mentors alike.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #5- Hope

Hope: While mindfulness prepares us to interact with ourselves and others, it’s not enough to protect us from the dissonance default. However, hope is a powerful reset button for us all. Hope can help a leader focus on his or her vision for the future. And vision becomes a very powerful positive attractor and takes us down a path of renewal, not negative emotion and dissonance. The authors cite examples of how positive visioning has helped great athletes win under the most stressful of situations—principally by visioning themselves winning, often in great detail. The neural paths created by such envisioning are very similar to those who have practiced such skills for a long period of time. As a positive attractor, hope becomes like an umbrella of positive protection that draws from your strengths and visions of the future. The result is slower breathing, better memory, and in general a healthy prognosis, whereas negative attractors like hate, jealousy, and envy take leaders down a very different path—one of emotional, physical and spiritual isolation and dissonance. Not fun. The authors offer three key components of hope: 1) the leader needs a vision and to be in touch with people around him/her; 2) the leader must be optimistic; and 3) the leader must see the future as feasible. In fact, their description of optimists vs. pessimists is worth the read.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #4- Mindfulness

Mindfulness: The first of the three sources for renewal is mindfulness, according to Boyatzis and McKee. Mindfulness relates to being self aware and emotionally controlled (emotional intelligence) as well as aware of others and able to manage multiple relationships (social intelligence). The authors talk about being “awake, aware, and attending— to our ourselves and the world around us “(p. 73). And while we’re often told to focus on the rational mind, the authors caution leaders to attend to the emotions of others—the seat of all action and reaction. Oftentimes, we can slip into a mindless state when we overfocus on a problem. Actually our physical vision is greatly reduced (from 180 degrees to 30 degrees of peripheral vision) when we are under stress. In essence, as leaders, we become blind to outside data that might prove quite valuable to solve the problem. Another state that pulls us unaware into mindlessness is the “lock-step life.” That is, we begin to live out someone else’s vision for ourselves. Perhaps it’s a parent who wanted us to be a doctor or lawyer. So, we go to med school or law school and find ourselves years later bored, burned out in the midst of The Sacrifice Syndrome, and toxic to be around—even to ourselves. The authors offer some solutions. For example, reflection and renewal can take the form of meditating, writing in a journal, taking walks—anything that disturbs the spiral into a negative attractor. Supportive relationships and attending to those around us helps us climb out of the negative hole of dissonance to be more aware and attentive to those closest to us at home, work and play. At the end of all the chapters, the authors offer some effective, easy exercises that reinforce the chapter’s lessons.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #3- Renewal Cycle

The Renewal Cycle: Just as The Sacrifice Syndrome can infect anyone, especially leaders, with negative attractors, causing dissonance that can be their eventual undoing and a source of individual and corporate cultural rejection, the Renewal Cycle has the opposite effect. In the Sacrifice Syndrome, the negative stimulus (dropping revenues, a difficult boss or employee) enters the right part of the brain and gets transmitted through the Sympathetic Nervous System. This stimulates the release of hormones (adrenaline and cortical) which is really good when you’re really in trouble…not so great when released several times a day. On the other hand, positive attractors, things that happen that are pleasant, even gratifying (being loved, praised, honored) trigger the opposite side of the brain, and the lucky person secretes either oxytocin (women) or vasopressin (men)—both of which reduce blood pressure and make us calmer, more relaxed, and more able to solve problems more quickly and easily. Such a cycle basically reboots our brain and resets the positive balance, especially when we’re out of balance because of The Sacrifice Syndrome. And, like the negative attractors, such positive attractors are very infectious. In fact, the quickest way to attract someone to your positive wavelength is through smiling or music—both of which are hard wired into our limbic, primordial brains. The authors offer three types of positive attractors to get this Renewal Cycle started: Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #2-Sacrifice Syndrome

The Sacrifice Syndrome: You’ve seen this dozens of times in the workplace. The company has a crisis or hits a rough patch. The manager or leader or even CEO begins to bear down, actually sacrificing herself or himself for the cause—works harder, eats poorly, stays longer hours to “fix” the problem. S/he has everyone focused on the problem with what I would call a “do not” focus—do not screw this up, do not let your guard down, do not let things slip. Whatever the “do not” thing is, when a leader approaches this negative stressor (or negative attractor), s/he begins a stress cycle not unlike the early days when we hunted wild game to survive. In the best of circumstances, there is a long period of recovery between stressors. The problem is that today that recovery cycle between stressors is so short as to almost be indiscernible—sending loads of stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and other nasty hormones coursing through our bodies. Such negative stressors can turn an otherwise decent person into a toxic, dissonant victim who can spread the disease at epidemic speeds, especially if that person is a leader. And what’s the worst part of it? Those infected with the Sacrifice Syndrome cannot see their slip into the abyss, instead often seeing others as incompetent, lazy, and useless. Unfortunately, dissonance is the default human setting, to protect us from that which would harm us. While that worked well when we had long recovery periods in our earlier evolutionary stages, it does not work well in today’s high-speed culture. Negative attractors come to us in batches of emails, texts, or tweets that overstimulate and push us into a destructive dissonant downward spiral that’s unfortunately invisible to us. In short, we need relief and renewal or are destined to crash, by default.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #1 (Overview)

Resonant Leadership by David Boyatzis and Annie McKee (Harvard Business School Press, 2005). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D. December 2010

The bottom line of this book is found in its subtitle: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion. This might well be one of the most important leadership books I’ve read. Boyatzis and McKee—well respected researchers, professors and authors—use the physics concept of “resonance” (being in tune) to explain a simple biologic principle that rules our lives: We’re creatures whose behaviors and motivations are fueled by our emotions and stimulated by our leaders. And if those leaders are negative in thought, word or deed, they will produce a negative climate and culture, with a negative impact on employee performance. On the other hand, if they approach leadership with a positive vision, they create a culture of employees who succeed and who are renewed, creative, hopeful and compassionate. The authors describe The Sacrifice Syndrome that produces negative attractors and eventually a default state of dissonance. They also describe how such dissonant, even depressed, workers can learn how to climb out of such a negative syndrome by learning and employing The Cycle of Renewal that produces positive attractors—and makes people want to be around you, as a person and as a leader. This week I will be reviewing this book in some detail. I might add that I now recommend it without reservation to every executive client—it’s that big a deal.

Authentic Happiness: Final Post

The Good Life and The Meaningful Life: The last paragraph in the book sums up Seligman’s findings and philosophy. It sounds simple, though it’s not always easy to do, but we can always work toward it to find meaning and purpose in our lives: “The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living [work, play, love]. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power, or goodness (p. 260).”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Authentic Happiness: Post #5

Flow is a term (coined by Mihaly Csikzentmihaly) that refers to being ‘in the zone’ at work or play. That is, being so engaged that time flies and your highest and best use of strengths are in play. Seligman’s advice: Get a job or recraft your job to meet your strengths or bad things—like burnout and fatigue—can happen. We had a saying in the Marine Corps: Never try to teach a pig how to sing. You can’t do it, and you’ll just piss off the pig.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Authetic Happiness: Post #4

Signature Strengths: Seligman details 24 strengths distributed among each of the 6 core virtues (Wisdom, Courage, Love, Justice, Temperance, and Spirituality). See p. 159 for a succinct summary.

He then invites readers to take the strengths test to find out their 5 signature strengths. Take the test either in the book or online at When you start using such signature strengths at work, you’re more likely to be happy, productive, engaged and able to find work as a calling, not just a job.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Authentic Happiness: Post #3

Even More Authentic Happiness Findings
--Thinking and Emotion: Our thoughts generate emotions, not the other way around (as Freud argued). So cognitive psychology helps people change their thoughts, thus their emotions, and moves them toward happiness.
--Forgiveness: Negative emotions tend to override positive ones. But forgiving and forgetting allows us to rewrite the past in a way that helps us become more positive by reframing. Psychologist Everett Worthington’s R-E-A-C-H process can help anyone who’s been through a trauma (p. 79).
--Core Virtues (and Strengths): Seligman argues that a set of 24 strengths, derived from a wide cross-cultural swath and numerous venerable thinkers, falls into 6 critical core virtues: 1) Wisdom and knowledge; 2) Courage; 3) Love and humanity; 4) Justice; 5) Temperance; and 6) Spirituality and transcendence.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Authetic Happiness: Post #2

More Authentic Happiness Findings
--Pleasure vs. Gratification: Pleasure is fleeting and we can get it from the senses (chocolate, sex, drugs)…it’s a quick fix. Gratification (the use of our strengths to meet a challenge) lasts longer and makes us happy and far more positive.
--Resilience: Within a few months of being fired, promoted, divorced or injured, we recover from the impact they have had on us. In fact, we all have a happiness set point that we revert to whether winning the lottery or getting dumped in a romantic relationship!
--Optimists vs. Pessimists: Optimism concerning the future consists of things like faith, trust and hope. I particularly like the following definitions/distinctions between optimists and pessimists. “Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as transient, controllable and specific to one situation. Pessimistic people, in contrast, believe that their troubles last forever, undermine everything they do, and are uncontrollable (p. 12).”

Monday, December 6, 2010

Authentic Happiness: Post #1

Interesting Authentic Happiness Findings
--Smiling: Just the way you smile can predict your future happiness. Seligman describes the Duchenne smile (both lips and eyes are engaged) vs. the Pan Am (airline steward/stewardess perfunctory smile).
--Good Endings: Creating a happy ending to any endeavor leaves a long-lingering “…memory of the entire relationship and your willingness to re-enter it.” Seligman details a study of colonoscopies that had me roaring as he made his point about happy endings to this procedure!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Authetic Happiness: Overview

Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. (Free Press, 2002)
Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D. (December 2010)

If you think money, attractiveness, a buff body, education, or even a sunny climate make you happy—think again. You’re statistically much better off being married, having a rich social network, living in an economically strong democracy (and not an impoverished dictatorship), and having religion. When Martin Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association, he embarked on the pursuit of positive psychology as a counter to the way we had always looked at psychology—through the lens of negative aberrations from the norm. We study what’s wrong with people, rather than how they can be right—more positive. In his landmark book, Authentic Happiness, Seligman not only points out some fascinating, often humorous revelations that take the reader on a journey from polite skepticism to positive awareness. I think everyone should read this book and then reread it every January when starting a new year.

So, best wishes for a joyous holiday and a very happy new year from Survival Leadership. This week I’ll be reviewing sections of the book that I think might make all of us more positive in the year ahead.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nudge: FINAL Post

One Final Nudge: This may come as a surprise, but we humans are not machines (Econs, as the authors call it), but rather fallible creatures subject to short-cut decisions amid a life of geometrically increasing options. We have two decision-making systems—Automatic and Reflective—and much of the time the Automatic system overrides the Reflective one. The authors suggest that choice architects—any of us, like parents, bosses, friends—can act in the other’s best interest by employing simple and available nudging techniques to help them make good decisions. So, read Nudge, tweet or facebook these posts to your friends and colleagues, and nudge them to do the same.
a. P.S.—Here’s a BIG Bonus: If you want to hear Richard Thaler talk about Nudge live, check him out at Google Authors: Richard Thaler speaks at Google.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nudge: Post #8

Framing: Context determines how people will react because most reaction is Automatic. People are much less Reflective and often don’t take the time to think, thus rely on their less rational Automatic decision helpmate. Choices often depend on how problems are stated. The authors offer a great example relevant to public policy about energy use. Option A: “If you use energy conservation methods, you will gain $350 a year.” Option B: “If you do not use energy conservation methods, you will lose $350 a year.” Given the previous discussion on “Gains and Losses,” can you guess which approach works best? Of course, Option B. So, framing works based on how things are stated and by what people will gain or lose.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nudge: Post #7

Gains and Losses: People hate to lose. Period. Have you ever tried to donate a kid’s never-used toy to Goodwill? If you have, you know that they’ll fight you to the death to hold onto it, despite the fact that they haven’t touched it in years. In fact, if you WANT someone to use something, just threaten it and see the results. However, according to the authors, this loss aversion type of “cognitive nudge” encourages us not to make changes “even when changes are very much in our interests.”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nudge: Post #6

Optimism and Overconfidence: I’d call this one the Lake Wobegon effect: Where “all the children are above average.” In psychology it is referred to as illusory superiority. We have a tendency to give ourselves the nod, the big break, when rating ourselves against others. Can you begin to imagine how this might affect decision making? For example, most entrepreneurs starting a business (which statistically fail over 50% of the time) believe at the 90% level that they will defy the stats! The authors suggest that the pervasiveness of this phenomenon can be disastrous in high-stakes decisions, and people need a memory of a bad event to anchor them back to reality.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nudge: Post #5

Rules of Thumb: We’re all busy and don’t have the time to reflect on the perfect choice, so we use what the authors call “rules of thumb” guidelines. Like when I look at the Beltway (around Washington, DC) and see it’s completely backed up. I have an automatic audible play that loops me around to a secondary road. The authors note several nudging elements in such rules of thumb situations—I’ll mention two: Anchoring and Availability. Anchoring tells us that if we’re hungry we shouldn’t go shopping…our temporary anchor (hunger) makes us want to buy more. Availability is similar to anchoring in that if we have a readily available relevant example of a fearful event in our minds, we’re more likely to overreact to a choice in front of us. For example, we hear in the news much more about homicides than suicides, so we wrongly believe that more people die from homicide. So, our brain responds based on what kind of reference points it starts from. No wonder so many of us make bad choices.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nudge: Post #4

Two Thinking Systems: We have both an Automatic and a Reflective System to help us get through life. The Automatic System—run by the amygdala, the primal, reptilian part of our brain that resides at the base of our brain—responds to threats and pleasures quickly, like a fifth of a second. The Reflective System is controlled, deductive, slow and self-aware, residing in the prefrontal cortex (often called the executive control center of the brain). It thinks about best options. Unfortunately, often under pressure to “choose’ an option while at the computer, we hit “recommended” when the Automatic brain overrides the Reflective brain.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nudge: Post #3

Status Quo Bias: One of the best examples of a nudge is the “default option” often known as the status quo option. Most people, most of the time, take the easiest option—the default. We tend to stick with the current situation, due to either inertia or lack of attention. And we assume, either rightly or wrongly, that the default option comes with an implicit endorsement from the default setter. We assume that whoever is offering such an option knows best and wants the best for us. Yeah, right.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nudge: Post #2

Choice Architecture: Everyone is a choice architect—one who organizes or arranges the context in which people make decisions. Parents make offerings to their kids about what choices are available for breakfast. Bosses arrange the context of sometimes tough choices about new job opportunities. And surely, doctors arrange the context of options for patients having to make life and death choices. Nudges cause alterations in the decisions people make—but are not intrusive, expensive, or particularly demanding. Rather, they are subtle and don’t provoke resistance the way a command would.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nudge: Introduction

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (Penguin, 2009)—reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

If you’ve ever clicked on the “recommend” option for installing a computer application or program, picked a Chick-fil-A sandwich from the front of its stacking rack, or purchased the suggested extended warranty contract, then you’ve been NUDGED. In this entertaining and informative book about how certain things move us to make automatic (less than reflective) decisions, Richard Thaler (an economics professor at the University of Chicago) and Cass Sunstein (a professor at the Harvard Law School) have written a classic, much like Tipping Point or Freakonomics. Fortunately, they’re both tenured profs and can afford to write such readable stuff for the rest of us. Thanks guys!

This week I’ll cover a few of the key elements, but I highly recommend a close, personal read of Nudge.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fierce Conversations: Post #5

Resolution: Now it’s time to move toward agreement about the next steps.

a. Ask questions that move you toward resolution: Example: “What have we learned? Where are we now? Where do we go from here? What do we need to do now to resolve this situation?”

b. Make an agreement about holding each other responsible: Example: “I’m wondering what you and I need to do specifically and on a timeline to help change this situation to a win-win for us both. Do you have any thoughts about what we can do? Would you be interested in brainstorming this to move it forward?”

c. After this meeting, you may consider summing up what happened and setting out some deadlines, without sounding like a field marshal!

d. Final word. While fierce conversations seem difficult, they get much easier every time you use them. AND they make a real difference in our personal and professional happiness. Remember, problems unaddressed only get bigger and tougher if not addressed by a fierce conversation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fierce Conversations: Post #4

Interaction: After delivering the opening statement, it's time for you to LISTEN a lot. It’s actually the guts of the conversation (and takes the most time if done right), where you listen and inquire as the person begins to respond and talk based on your invitation to resolve the issue. You must LEARN in this phase and the only way to learn is to ask questions and LISTEN.

a. Inquire into your partner’s views. It’s hard, but you need to LISTEN and PROBE. Talking will interrupt the valuable flow of information you will need to eventually construct a lasting resolution. By ONLY asking What, How, Who questions, you can keep the conversation alive and keep the other person talking and you LISTENING. Examples: “What does it look like when you say I talk too much? How can we approach the problem so we both get what we want?”

b. You should also paraphrase, so the person knows that you understand and are not judging. “So, I’m hearing you say that you’re hurt by my response to the way I’ve been treated, is that right?” Am I hearing that correctly? “

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fierce Conversations: Post #3

Here are the last four of components of the opening statement, as identified by Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations:

d. Clarify what’s at stake—for the person you’re talking to, for you, and for the company. Example: “There’s some important things at stake here. Our working relationship and the success of our division.”

e. Identify your contribution to this problem. What have you done to help produce the very results that are making you unhappy? In short, how are you to blame for the situation. Example: “Joe, I know I’ve contributed to this problem, by not speaking up on the first time you told me to shut up. I just thought that behavior would stop over time, but it hasn’t, and I’m very concerned.

f. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue. Scott cautions to be sure to use the word “resolve.” It’s not a final or a win-lose sort of word, rather a word that shows hope and an interest in clearing things up. Example: “Joe, I want to resolve how we can work together in a way that works for you and also gives me the kind of respect I think I deserve.”

g. Invite your partner to respond. Now that you’ve succinctly set up the problem (in less than a minute), you need to invite the other person to join the conversation. Now, it’s time to listen. Example: “I want to understand what’s happening from your perspective. What do you think about what I’ve said?”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fierce Conversations: Post #2

Opening Statement: Author, Susan Scott, suggests scripting this out and rehearsing it as if you were an actor in a movie. Here are the first three of seven components of the opening statement. This statement usually takes a about a minute to deliver. It is to the point but powerful…not rambling but very focused. What follows is an example of a direct report chatting with his boss (Joe) about their relationship:

a. Name the Issue: Put a name on it to identify the issue, clearly and succinctly. Focus will help the solution process. Example: “Joe, I want to talk about our working relationship.”

b. Select a specific example that illustrates the behavior or situation you want to change. Find an incident that hits the heart of the issue without rambling on—which could get very distracting and undercut your point. Example: “Last week in a meeting, you told me to shut up and listen. And two weeks ago, you cut me off when I was offering an observation about the new building plans.”

c. Describe your emotions about this issue. It’s important to let people know how you feel, otherwise they’re clueless. Often, a clear declaration about how you feel can be disarming. Example: “Joe, when you say things like “shut up” especially in a public setting, I get angry and insulted—then de-motivated and unhappy.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fierce Conversations: Introduction to the Review

Fierce Conversations
By Susan Scott (the Penguin Group, 2002) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.
This is the first of several posts this week based on my in-depth review of the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott—available on Amazon. I highly recommend this book for solving problems and building deeper relationships—in both your personal and professional lives.

It’s often difficult to have tough conversations with other people, especially people we care deeply about. Susan Scott wrote Fierce Conversations about how to do just such a thing—have a difficult or fierce conversation. Scott maintains that “the conversation is the relationship.” And, throughout the book, she makes this point—fiercely. Unfortunately, most of us have very surface-like conversations in our lives and never get down to the stuff that matters with the people who matter to us. Fierce Conversations teaches people how to have conversations they need, not necessarily want to have. In the end, every conversation changes the relationship either for the better or the worse. And as tough as fierce conversations are to have, they build the relationship by surfacing important issues—the earlier the better.
This week I’ll review the book in depth.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Influencer: FINAL Post

Final words: We all influence each other in some way or another. Often, the way we influence is haphazard, unintentional, and ineffective. Patterson, et al., have given us a simple, yet powerful, methodology to become far more organized, intentional and effective influencers. Read this book only if you want to influence the people around you to make the world a better place.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Influencer: Post #4

Structural (systemic) Motivation and Ability

a. Structural Motivation: Let personal motivators and social reinforcement be the basis for organizational rewards. Make sure rewards are directly and immediately linked to behaviors. Rewards should be small and heartfelt, or they will backfire. In the case of rewards, “less is more.” What about when things go bad? If you have to come down on people, first give them a warning. Then do what must be done (punish them) to show that you won’t tolerate misbehavior.

b. Structural Ability: Change the environment. If you want people to collaborate and reinforce each other, then give them a place to gather and physically locate them close to each other. The concept of “propinquity” (proximity) is fascinating and discussed at length in the book. Psychologist Leon Festinger discovered a simple truth: “…the frequency and quality of human interaction is largely a function of physical distance.” Give people a gathering place and watch them interact, ask questions, and influence each other in ways you would never imagine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Influencer: Post #3

Social Motivation and Ability
a. Social Motivation: Effective influencers know how to harness peer pressure. Remember the power of one and the power of the herd. In social motivation, opinion leaders matter. People look toward a respected peer’s behavior more than they look toward their parents or relatives. Also, never underestimate the power of a herd stampeding toward a goal. Make it safe to have difficult conversations about things that matter. Find a new support structure to reinforce new behavior change. Think of Alcoholics Anonymous as a good example of peer influence to solve a very difficult problem by offering ongoing support.
b. Social Ability: Teams outperform individuals; so, work in teams. Vicarious modeling (demonstrations, videos, case studies) works. Solidarity has a single, powerful voice that motivates. Authority is also a huge motivator, if the authority figure is respected by the team.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Inluencer: Post #2

Personal Motivation and Ability

a. Personal Motivation: All influence starts on a personal level. If you are not personally motivated to change, nothing will move you—best just to grab a bag of chips and a beverage of your choice and watch TV! “Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.” (Steven Wright, page 83) According to the authors, getting people to try it (change or use new behavior), take pride in doing it, and connect it to their values goes a long way toward motivating them.

b. Personal Ability: Engaging their personal ability and helping them surpass their perceived limits requires influencers to do more. They must engage in deliberate practice—people need immediate coaching and feedback. It’s not just a practice-makes-perfect attitude. Rather, it’s a perfect-practice-makes-perfect attitude—paying full attention when practicing and having self discipline. All of these make a big difference in a lasting change of behavior.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Inluencer: An Overview

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything (McGraw Hill, 2008) by Kerry Patterson, et al. Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., October 2010

If you’re a parent, sibling, teacher, manager, CEO—or anyone who, in the course of your daily life, has to persuade or influence the way others think or act—you are an influencer. And this book is perfect for you. As a longtime student and professor of communication and influence, I found this book easy to read, understand, and put right into practice. That’s the highest recommendation anyone can give a book. You’re likely to recall the string of authors—Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler— who brought you the bestseller Crucial Conversations. In this new book, they offer many compelling stories and experiments, as well as a six-part model of influence that not only makes sense but also is easy to practice. The model is based on a simple two-part premise: 1) People must believe that change is worth it; and 2) they can do all that’s required to make that change. Thus, value and ability are the cornerstones of this book.The six sources of influence are grouped into three areas as follows:

1. Personal motivation and ability
--a. Can you (as an influencer) make the undesirable, desirable?
--b. Can you get people to surpass their perceived limits?
2. Social motivation and ability
--a. Can you harness peer pressure?
--b. Can you find strength in numbers (by showing how others are doing it already)?
3. Structural (systemic) motivation and ability
--a. Can you design rewards and demand accountability?
--b. Can you change the environment to accommodate change?

The authors practice what they preach. They tell some compelling stories, offer experimentation (that a layperson can understand), and provide just the right amount of documentation. Thoughtful readers of this book can use this information to become more active influencers in their families, professions and communities.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #7

Final Words: This is a book worth reading for managers and HR directors. The author’s voice is engaging and the content well worth the time. Again, the second part of the book provides the “how to,” and the Performance Review Guidelines alone are well worth the purchase price of the book.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #6

What to do to keep the ongoing relationship and performance on track? The author provides a good, yet somewhat convoluted, system based loosely on the very types of questions that consultants typically ask when trying to get self evaluation of a situation. Here are three of the six questions that both subordinates and bosses should answer. Also, the author suggests preparing these answers beforehand and using them only as guidelines: 1) What do you get from the other person that you like and helps get results? 2) What do you get from the other person that you don’t like and/or find distracting? 3) What do you not get from the other person that you would find performance-enhancing and like to receive? (p. 201) The authors suggest they should have a follow-up conversation where both discuss how the boss and subordinate can work together for the success of both of them: “What modifications in how we work together are needed for enhancement in results?”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #5

What to do when an employee is new? When the manager and employee meet for the first time—or upon reassignment—the authors suggest the following (pp. 198-202) . The subordinate is asked to answer three background questions: 1) What do you like in the way of supervision that helps you operate effectively? 2) What have you gotten from a boss with whom you’ve previously worked that doesn’t sit well with you? 3) What do I need to understand about you that will help me provide the kind of support/advice/treatment that you’d like to receive?” The key here is just to LISTEN. Then the manager poses and answers the following three questions to give the new employee insight: 1) What do you like from a subordinate that allows you to provide oversight and allows you to give insights? 2) What inclinations (behaviors) have subordinates demonstrated that has hurt their performance in your eyes? 3) What is your management style; what kind of a relationship do you want with a subordinate; how do you discuss an issue when things get off track; and what are some things I should know about you? Again, the key is to LISTEN. This technique is like an on boarding intervention that can save months of adjustment and untold misunderstandings.

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #4

What’s the answer to this dilemma? In short: The Performance Preview (PP). Rather than performance reviews (also called assessments, appraisals, or evaluations) that spend time focused on what went wrong, did not meet expectations, or marginally contributed, Culbert and Rout push for something more effective. Their alternative is called the performance preview (PP). This performance preview offers a new collaborative model that holds both manager and employee responsible for successd employee to come to the table as partners rather than adversaries.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #3

Who are the culprits who sustain the sham of performance reviews? The manager who expects straight talk while holding an administrative gun to the employee’s head. The employee for expecting things will change as s/he continues to sustain what I call the mushroom theory: feed them BS and keep them in the dark. Finally, the Human Resources department…which the author all but excoriates as power hungry beings who will fight to the death for PR, because it gives them a seat at the power table of the company. I think the authors overdid the mugging on the HR departments. Again, I understand the energy necessary to overcome the status quo.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #2

What’s wrong with performance review? According to the authors, just about everything. Not only do both managers and employees dislike the process, but also nothing good seems to happen. And the most important piece that gets lost in the process is “straight talk.” Because the manager holds all the power, there is no way the employee will routinely risk telling the truth, especially when it’s tough, uncomfortable and may involve the boss. My biggest criticism of the book remains solid: The author(s) spent too much of the book beating PR into the ground (over half the book). It started to feel like piling on…and I wanted the solution earlier. That said, I understand what might be the reason—overcoming the status quo (PR) is never easy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Overview (Post#1)

Get Rid of The Performance Review! How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing—and Focus on What Really Matters, by Samuel A. Culbert with Lawrence Rout (2010, Business Plus). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Overview: I’ve always detested getting and giving performance reviews (PR). Something about the process made it seem artificial and skewed toward whoever held the upper hand: Management. Professor Samuel Culbert (UCLA) and Lawrence Rout, senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, have helped me finally understand how PR can have unintended consequences for both manager and employee. In an accessible, immensely easy-to-read style with funny asides to the reader, the book feels like Culbert is whispering in your ear, Hey, you know this performance review stuff is such BS…you know it and I know it. In fact, he does say roughly that (I think he leaves out the “hey”). Without mincing words, Culbert presents PR with all its wants and warts. He analyzes the big culprits: Management theory, management control, and Human Resources (who he all but demonizes—overdone in my opinion). However, he demonstrates in the first half of the book why PR remains an ineffective, top down leadership tool. He then spends the rest of the book offering an alternative, the performance preview (PP). This performance preview offers a new collaborative model that holds both manager and employee responsible for success (in fact, Peter Drucker contends in his writings that managers are responsible for employee success or failure). The payoff comes later in the book when Culbert offers “Performance Review Guidelines” (pp. 198-202). Every manager would do very well to read the two conversation guidelines he offers—one question-based conversation for a new or recently assigned employee and the other question-based conversation about progress. Both manager and employee can significantly benefit from such conversations. And any thoughtful manager can benefit from this book.

Starfish and Spider #8 FINAL words

Final Words about Starfish: Today’s world is morphing with dizzying speed. I’d call it hyperadaptive. If you don’t like a particular function of Skype, Wikipedia and craigslist, just wait a few days and someone will update it. And often the changes are coming from users/customers who have found a better way and just want to share it. Companies that are strong enough to let power filter down to a more decentralized organization, despite the feeling of chaos and even perhaps loss of control, will have a better chance to compete in a freer, more open-source world. Such an organization needs to realize that the best ideas come from those closest to the customer, everyone wants to contribute, and catalysts and values are crucial to success. A final suggestion: Decentralize, and consider making your company the starfish of your industry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Starfish and Spinder #7

Appreciative Inquiry: David Cooperrider, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, has developed this method to get people within the organization, from the janitor to the CEO, talking to each other—to appreciate what everyone brings to the table. Cooperrider encourages conversations between people at very different levels of the organization to get to know each other on both a personal and professional level. The basic premise: Get people to talk and know each other as people, not as functions on an org chart, and they can solve the worst of problems.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #6

The Hybrid Organization: Neither centralized nor decentralized organizations are good or bad. In fact, there are some interesting models out there that show how the two can live happily ever after (or at least live together without fighting all the time). Look at eBay and Amazon for examples. Notice how eBay has employed (free of charge) its very own users/customers to monitor their system with “user ratings” that provide input and keep sellers honest (core to eBay’s success). All this is done by the customers. Also, Amazon’s user-generated book reviews are powerful influencers for consumers. The users/readers themselves from around the world supply the brainpower. Sun Microsystems, IBM and Google have also let their customers have a say in what they do. And if you look at companies with active social websites, you have a glimpse of others dipping their toes into being a hybrid organization.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #5

Taking on Decentralization: The authors offer a few tips for taking on decentralized competitors. In short, they suggest: 1) Centralize them (how introducing property rights changes the equation); 2) Decentralize yourself (if you can’t beat them join them). To this last point, consider al Qaeda or the Taliban as very good examples of starfish….albeit ones with clearly evil intent. If a conventional army tries to fight them, you can see the results. Just look at Vietnam for a projection of the possibility of success. What beats such “evil” starfish will be other starfish—drones, Special Forces, etc.—not conventional warfare.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #4

The CEO vs the Catalyst. CEOs run more top-down models and are in charge. Catalysts trust the community to make the best choices. Here’s an interesting comparison chart from p. 130:

CEO Catalyst
The Boss A Peer
Command/Control Trust
Rational Emotionally Intelligent
Powerful Inspirational
Directive Collaborative
In the Spotlight Behind the Scenes
Order Ambiguity
Organizing Connecting

Friday, October 15, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #3

The Five Legs of a Starfish: Real starfish have 5 legs and so does this analogous organizational model.
--Leg 1=Circles. In starfish organizations, people are more part of a circle than an organizational chart. Think independence and contribution. Nobody’s really in charge and, at the same time, everyone is expected to live by norms of the group and contribute as they are able.
--Leg 2=Catalysts. Circles don’t just appear. They happen because of catalysts—you remember them from high school chemistry…they accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. So, the catalyst develops and promotes the idea but ultimately doesn’t own it; everyone in the circle does.
--Leg 3=Ideology. Starfish organizations are motivated and directed by ideology, not profit. AA’s ideology is simple: People like you and me can help other people like us out of addiction. Think of ideology as the “calling” of the group.
--Leg 4=The Preexisting Network. Both the Quakers (with the anti-slavery issue) and AA (with its 12-step solution to alcoholism) provided structures that allowed great change to take place. The Internet is perfectly posed to spawn such future organizations due to its easy to use/equality-based structure.
--Leg 5=The Champion. While groups need a catalyst to start and then to spread, champions take things to the next level. As natural salespeople and leaders, they draw in people and spread the message.

The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #2

The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

The Starfish Concept: According to the authors, in a pure starfish organization there is no one in charge and no headquarters; it can survive having its head cut off; knowledge is distributed; the organization is flexible; you can’t count the participants. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example. Founded by one man, Bill Wilson, in 1935, AA remains a decentralized, locally run program that subscribes to the 12-step program. There’s no application to get in, no CEO, and it’s everywhere. Such an “open system” allows users/customers to participate and contribute to issues central to the organization in a way that spreads these organizations like wildfire. Look how long it took the Internet to take over the world—with no president. Here’s what the authors say: “…open systems [starfish] are about the users, not the leadership.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Introduction

This week: The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006).
Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

The authors offer an immensely useful and entertaining exploration about why and how so many institutions have undergone such change and why others risk becoming irrelevant almost overnight. A quick history lesson: Hernando Cortes conquered the Aztec empire by attacking a “spider” organization—a central head (Montezuma) controlling vast assets, now Mexico. Indeed, the Spanish conqueror dominated the young continent of North America until he met the Apaches. More like a “starfish” organization that regenerates itself, the Apaches had no head, per se. They were nomadic, decentralized (like trying to nail Jello to a tree) and fierce warriors led more by Nant’ans (spiritual leaders) than by a chief. Fast forward to the present. Spiders are like any large concrete and mortar company—just find a huge building with a name on it in any city and you’re likely looking at a spider with a head—a CEO. Now check out the Internet, Wikipedia, Skype, and craigslist—finding the CEO is more difficult. In fact, organizations that have become hybrids, like eBay and Amazon, seem to have figured out that decentralization—power to the people—is an incredibly unstoppable model. The message: recognize a starfish, embrace its value, and whatever you do, don’t try to chop off its head…or two more will appear. Just ask the music industry about that as they tried to stop music swapping.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October HBR: FINAL Post

HBR Tidbits:

• One CEO showed that the flexibility afforded by a domestic factory more than made up for the 15% per unit savings at a factory abroad (p. 86).

• Building a new marketing engine at GE revealed three success factors: Principles, people, and process (p. 92).

• A nonprofit’s financial report reveals nothing about its effectiveness or efficiency in creating social value (p. 112).

Monday, October 11, 2010

HBR Post #5

Harvard Business Review Tidbits:

• Google found three reasons that employees stayed at Google: 1) the mission; 2) the quality of the people; 3) the chance to build the skill set to become a better leader or entrepreneur (p. 57).

• When your ideas get attacked: John Kotter (change management guru) notes that ideas get attacked three ways: 1) That sounds bad, just like…(the attacker draws an often spurious comparison of your idea to another, often more extreme, plan); 2) No one else does this…if this was such a good idea, why is no one else doing it? 3) This isn’t the right time…we have so much going on, the timing isn’t right for this issue (pp. 129-132).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Harvard Business Review October: Post #4

Competing on Talent Analytics (Davenport, Harris, and Shapiro, pp. 53-58).

The authors track six “talent analytics” that separate the better companies from the pack. 1) Human-Capital Facts—what facts predict what outcomes? Jet Blue monitors employee engagement and promotion of the company to predict financial performance; 2) Analytical HR—collects data to predict or detect issues. For example, high turnover rates in a particular department will signal leadership issues; 3) Human-capital investment analysis—Sysco studied a number of metrics about their delivery associates (drivers) and found that highly satisfied employees produced more and stayed longer (duh!); 4) Workforce Forecasts—these analytics can predict turnover, assist with succession planning, and address other issues well before they happen. Dow uses this analytical approach to accurately forecast issues in the volatile world of the chemical industry; 5) Talent value model—answers the question, Why do employees choose to stay with our company? Google uses such analytics to identify its top and bottom 5% of performing employees. Then the company works with the bottom 5%—often finding that those people were misplaced or mismanaged in the organization; 6) Talent supply chain—these analytics help companies adapt their workforce to the changing business environment. Retailers, especially, can use these numbers to forecast upticks and downswings and thus adjust payroll to workflow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

HBR Post #3

Here's an article summary from the Harvard Business Review (October 2010):

Why Succession Shouldn’t be a Horse Race (Anne Mulcahy, pp. 47-50). The former CEO at Xerox, Anne Mulcahy discovered Ursula Burns nearly a decade before Burns succeeded Mulcahy in the first woman-to-woman CEO succession at a Fortune 500. The big difference between the Xerox succession scenario and the one at GE when Jack Welch left might demonstrate the difference between men and women: Collaboration vs. Competition. Welch set up a three way competition. The result was turbulence, and the two losers left GE. The Mulcahy-Burns succession was more thoughtful and resulted in a much smoother ride.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Harvard Business Review October: Post #2

HBR Idea Watch—I like this section of up-and-coming issues:

--Robo-calling (pp. 27-29)—can be annoying, but such a disruptive technology is proving more economical and accurate despite small response rates.

--Beyond Zipcar (p. 30)—Netflix and Zipcar are two examples of how people have made businesses from sharing products. Not only is this better for the environment but it’s also a great model for increased profits.

--Can You Open-Source Your Strategy? (p. 32)—Typically done at an offsite and involving only the company’s hierarchy. What happens if you make the process more open and bring in your clients and the community? Wikipedians experimented to get alignment—who’s next?

--The Power of Alumni Networks (p. 34)—Investment fund managers tend to place more frequent as well as larger investments in companies where the senior executive of the firm and fund both went to the same college.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harvard Business Review October: Post #1

This month’s HBR issue focuses on the supply chain:

1. Don’t Tweak Your Supply Chain—Rethink it End to End (Hau Lee-Stanford, p. 62). Rather than take a piecemeal approach to change, companies like Esquel and Posco have taken a much more systematic approach and made a real difference.

2. The Sustainable Supply Chain (an interview with Peter Senge, p. 70). You’ll likely remember Senge—the MIT professor who wrote the bestseller The Fifth Discipline. A great quote from him on sustainability: “They might not say this, but most companies act as if sustainability is being less bad.” Indeed, the lack of trust between retailers and suppliers causes a lot of waste and more transaction than transformation.

3. The Transparent Supply Chain (Steve New, Hertford College at Oxford, p. 77). In an increasingly consumer social awareness—where a product comes from (ethically as well as geographically) make a big difference. Walmart, Tesco, and Kroger are using new technologies to authenticate their products for their customers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tribal Leadership: FINAL Words

Final Words on Tribal Leadership: Dave Logan and his partners have written a remarkable book. I’d recommend that every CEO discuss the book at the next corporate offsite. And if you want the kind of questions to ask, here you go: Setting your strategy requires two things—a noble cause and values that are aligned in the tribe and produce action linked to real passion. If everyone can align around those two things, you’ll thrive. So, ask the gathering of leaders:
a. Values: a)What are our values? (What do we stand for and/or what principles do we have without which life would seem worthless?); b)What are you proud of?
b. Noble Cause: a)What are we shooting for? b)Ask “the big four” questions (What’s working well? What’s not working? What can we do to make things work better? Anything else?)

Tribal Leadership is one of those VERY important books you come across now and then. I’m just lucky to have met Dave Logan at a coaching conference a year ago and to have read his books.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 5 Tribes

Stage Five Tribes: “Life is Great” is the mantra of the rare 2% of tribes that make it to this level. These are the folks that operate at a level above the fray. They change the world, so there are only a very few of them out there. This rare tribe decides to have global impact over merely tribal competition and even being great themselves. They’re literally out to “save the world.” The authors note how rare such tribes are, and if the book has any failing, it’s that this stage is not discussed in anywhere near the depth I would have liked. I think it’s because the authors were spending the time where they thought they could do the most good for the most tribes. Some examples of stage five tribes that produce amazing innovations: Amgen, Macintosh, and the 1980’s USA hockey team. Just think what could happen in the world if we could get the level of tribes at this stage from 2% to 10%.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 4 Tribes

Stage Four Tribes: The people at this stage (22% of groups) describe life in general as “we’re great.” They use a lot of “we,” “us,” and “our” language. These people naturally build triads and encourage relationships between relationships based on shared cultures and values. They exude tribal pride. Companies that get to this level tend to be industry leaders—often the best in class. Amgen was used as such an example, where the leader instilled a “we’re great” mentality that took that company to the top of the pharma ladder. Encourage stage four people to balance their relationship or values and opportunities. Inculcate values-based leadership and training and development with staff. Recruit others to the tribe. And, finally, seek out something really big to change the world…like the people at stage five. Indicators of growth at this stage are that leaders will start using “life is great” language and will live out the values and the noble cause of the tribe—thus act as an exemplar for the tribe.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 3 Tribes

Stage Three Tribes: People at this tribal stage (49% of all groups) use language that’s full of “I’m great” and the corollary, perhaps unspoken, is “I’m great…AND you’re not!” These folks tend to believe that knowledge is power and have a series of strong dyadic relationships that aren’t connected—often to protect that power base. In companies, when these types coexist, they try to outperform each other, as a way of proving their greatness. They are like lone warriors and love to be heroes…riding in on a white horse to save others. Such cultures become like the wild west…competitive and self serving. Leverage these people and tribes to the next level: Encourage them to connect dyads to others…and form triads. Instead of keeping their contacts isolated in silos, introduce them to each other. Encourage these stage-three types to work on projects bigger than they can handle alone, connect them to stage four (“We” not “I”) people, coach them to recognize the power of the network, not their own individual prowess. Success indicators will be more triads forming, less grousing about running out of time (no bandwidth due to no relationships), and networks expanding rapidly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 2 Tribes

Stage Two Tribes: For people in this stage (25% of all groups), their language is typically “my life sucks.” While they may feel poorly about their own lives and surroundings, they see others who are seemingly well off…so there is hope. If you see clusters or tribes of these folks coming together, one of their main themes is that they are victims (of the system, the boss, the economy, etc.). Leverage a person/tribe from this stage to the next level by encouraging them to build out their networks, person by person, in a dyadic (1-1) way. Also, encourage relationships with people who are stage three types. Remember, it’s impossible to go up more than one social rung at a time. Start them working in strengths areas and celebrate early wins. A key indicator of progress with such tribes and members is they will start using I-language and will start separating from their colleagues, who are stuck at stage two.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 1 Tribes

Stage One Tribes: In this stage (fortunately only 2% of all groups), Logan says, people describe their world as “life sucks.” People stuck in this stage are often in a gang culture or even a prison culture. It would be only the most toxic, truly dysfunctional company in which such a culture would exist. At this stage, the language to listen for is one of desperation, retribution, and survival. Truly, for these people, life does suck—for everyone. Therefore, whatever they do is justified, no matter who seems to be affected. Leveraging action to move these people to stage two would be to encourage them to connect one on one and to cut their affiliations with people who use hopeless, negative language. A key indicator of progress moving them is that the person will start referring to his/her own life rather than everyone’s hopelessness. Such a person begins to look at why his/her life is so bad and gets on the path to diagnosing what’s wrong and how to change—thus offering hope to move to the next level.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Introduction

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright (Collins, 2008). Reviewed by Steve Gladis.

If I could give two books to anyone concerned with organizational development, I’d hand them Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance—both of which have Dave Logan as a principal author. This article will focus on Tribal Leadership because I’ve reviewed The Three Laws previously on my blog (Survival Leadership).

Overview: In Tribal Leadership Dave Logan et al offer us an organizational development manual for successfully managing tribes. After 10 years studying over 24,000 people, Logan and his team speak with some real authority. The authors first teach us some basics about organizations. Any organization with at least 20 and up to 150 people is a tribe. These tribes are more powerful than leaders, and they decide if the new leader will flourish or get undermined. Ultimately, the tribes even decide on productivity. Indeed, Logan describes 5 levels of tribes that range from dysfunctional (Stage 1: Life Sucks) to world class (Stage 5: Life is great). Tribes move through stages and tend to overrate their levels. But great leaders can 1) listen for which cultures exist in their tribes and 2) move or nudge tribes to the next level in this hierarchy of organization through their actions and language. The key to getting to the highest levels of performance and satisfaction is establishing values and a noble cause. These can’t be perfunctory words, but must be a critical set of living values that shape how companies hire, fire and promote people.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Onboarding: FINAL Post

Final Comments about Onboarding. I highly recommend this book. Let me reiterate the following: So many careers are made, and unfortunately broken, in the very early days, often before the employee even steps into the building because of onboarding oversights. The corporate landscape is FULL of these unfortunate failures. Research out of Harvard shows the cost to be staggering for companies, and the destruction it does to improperly onboarded employees is devastating. Get this book before you hire another employee.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Onboarding: Post #5 (Assimilation)

Helping new employees deliver faster results: We’ve all had first-day-at-the-new-job horror shows. We’ve all arrived at a new job, not knowing where to park, with no one to greet us, no supplies, no desk. The authors caution us to treat the first day for a new employee with the same kind of care we’d give to a great new customer and to prepare the entrance like scripting a play. Make sure that the employee knows the directions and parking instructions, is met by you or someone familiar, and knows the schedule for the first day. In short, be very well prepared for the first day and the first impressions made by both the new employee and by the organization itself. See the downloadable document called “New Employee as Valued Customer” (p. 171). I also like the simple, first-day schedule on p. 171. Be sure to read the final section (IV) on employee assimilation. The research in this area is clear: Assimilation is a key predictor of success. These authors explain an assimilation process that’s simple and replicable by anyone. Pay heed. It can be a make-or-break exercise that saves the new employee a year’s worth of struggling to assimilate. By doing an assimilation exercise you’ll be giving both the new employee and the entire team a huge gift. Be sure to check out the “New Manager Assimilation” downloadable form on pp. 203-4. This is a MUST.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Onboarding: Post#4

Giving new employees a head start: After employee selection and before day one on the job, you can do a lot to ensure successful entry by employees. Careful crafting of a personal onboarding plan and the initial employee announcement is critical. Make sure you see the author’s “Personal Onboarding Plan” (p. 117). The announcement remains as one of the most critical steps to show your recruit that you value her/him and to show the organization that you’ve made the right pick. The authors outline who to talk to before and after the announcement, the wording and timing of the announcement, and the tracking and adjustment of the message. Such emotionally sensitive preparation makes a huge difference in the success of the new employee. See p. 133 for the key points to hit in your announcement. Also, pay very close attention to the “Announcement Cascade” downloadable form on p. 138 and save yourself from making any missteps in this critical stage of the process.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Onboarding: Post#3

Recruit by Reinforcing Your Message: Using the recruiting brief, start to identify a powerful list of candidates. Also, the “Candidate Sourcing” downloadable form is excellent and reminds internal recruiters to focus on key sources of personnel: Recruiters, direct marketing, social networks, advertising, etc. Once you have a slate of candidates, make sure that you evaluate them against the recruiting brief. I like the three basic questions that every interview boils down to: 1) Can you do the job? 2) Will you love the job? 3) Can I stand working with you? The rest of this recruiting section focuses on the interview process and how to make the right offer. Again, scope out the checklists and the downloadable forms.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Onboarding: Post #2

Prepare BEFORE you start Recruiting: Often HR gets the edict: ”Just fill the position!” Jumping on that request or demand with an Aye-Aye-Sir- approach may well begin a cascading failure path for everyone in the process. The authors caution that all the important stakeholders (hiring managers, teammates, etc.) need to be aligned around what they really need…in advance. In particular, the author’s “Recruiting Brief and Total Onboarding Program Timeline” form provides a great framework to ensure that stakeholder misalignment doesn’t derail the search before it begins. Also, note that all of the many forms in the book are downloadable from their site,, AND the forms are reproducible for consulting and training for up to 100 people. This is a very good deal.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Onboarding: Introduction

THIS WEEK: Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time by George Bradt and Mary Vonnegut (Wiley, 2009). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

“We’ve found that 40% of executives hired at the senior level are pushed out, fail or quit within 18 months….,” says Kevin Kelly CEO of Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search firm. Also, “…as many as 50% of new employees fail to deliver on what their organizations expect (Topgrading by Brad Smart quoted in Onboarding, p. 5). Now, if those aren’t attention getters, I’m not sure what is. Having watched this phenomenon up close from within organizations and from the outside as an executive coach, this cultural phenomenon might be one of the biggest issues facing executive leadership in organizations today, including the federal government. In fact, the authors note that such costly executive exits are caused by four key failures:
--Role failure (people are unclear about their new role);
--Personal failure (lack of ability or fit by the new person);
--Relationship failure (early missteps with critical colleagues);
--Engagement failure (missed opportunities in the early days).

The authors have pulled together a very readable guide for any organization wanting to recruit and retain top talent. Their simple overview instructions:
1. Align (agreement on need for the position);
2. Acquire (recruit the best person for the job);
3. Accommodate (give new recruit the tools for success);
4. Assimilate (help them get to know others quickly);
5. Accelerate (assist them to deliver results quicker).

So many careers are made, and unfortunately broken, in the very early days, often before the employee even steps into the building because of critical onboarding oversights. The corporate landscape is FULL of such unfortunate failures. And the cost is huge. Research out of Harvard shows the cost to be staggering for companies, and the destruction it does to improperly onboarded employees is devastating.

Get this book and use it before you bring another employee on board.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #5

Layoffs: In 2008 a lot of rules went out the window along with the economy. Many CEOs used meat cleavers to cut staffs—and in many cases with the same sort of emotional attachment as a butcher. However, Hsieh’s handling of this most difficult decision of his career—to let go of a number of the Zappos family members to survive as a company—was flawless and worth studying. As he does throughout the book, he included his most humane e-mail to explain not only the difficulty in coming up with the decision but also the incredibly generous layoff package that Zappos offered—going above and beyond. In the end, he acted as if the people being laid off really were family. Way to go, Tony.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #4

Zappos Core Values: Just as he had with the Zappos Culture Book, Hsieh asked his employees what Zappos was, and while he got back 37 core values over the years he’s boiled it down to the following 10 that I think are worth mentioning. Here are the 10: Deliver WOW through service; Embrace and drive change; Create fun and a little weirdness (my fav); Be adventurous; Pursue growth and learning; Build open and honest relationships with communications; Build a positive team and family spirit; Do more with less; Be passionate and determined; and Be humble!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #3

Corporate Culture: Tony has a LOT to say about how to build the kind of corporate culture that makes a real difference. And he did it at Zappos so simply and authentically—he asked people. He sent out an e-mail entitled “Zappos Culture Book” asking anyone who wished to send him 100-500 words about what the Zappos culture meant to them (and what it was like, what they liked about it, and how it was different). He credits the culture building as one of the main reasons they hit their big corporate goals in their early days. He also provides a primer for any company that wants to create its own “Culture Book.” See pp.137-142.

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