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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #10--FINAL Words

Final Notes: This book is loaded with data. The authors look at the most innovative companies like Amazon, Apple and Google. They show how to put the innovator’s DNA into practice with respect to the big three: People, Processes, and Philosophies. And after 8 years of study, the authors conclude that if you want your team to ‘think different,’ they must behave different! Here’s a great quote they end the book with. It is from Apple’s Think Different campaign: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” So, go out, read this book, and change the world!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #9--Discovery & Deliivery

Balancing Discovery and Delivery: Innovative CEOs score about 88% in discovery skills (questioning, associating, observing, networking, and experimenting) but only 56% in delivery skills (analyzing, planning, detail orientating, implementing, being self-disciplined). By contrast, delivery-oriented CEOs scored only 62% in discovery skills and 80% in delivery skills—not surprising, because many were picked for their delivery skills. However, when teams are more complementary—a good mixture of discovery and delivery skills—the rich mix of both of these skills produces a highly innovative team. Moreover, the authors note that striking a critical proportionate balance depends on the stage of life that the company’s in. In a start-up, more discovery skills are necessary, but as a company matures, more delivery skills are needed. However, high delivery, efficient companies can get stale without an infusion of innovative discovery thinking.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Innovators's DNA--Post #8--Experimenting

Five Discovery Skills—#5 Experimenting. Finally, innovators are constantly experimenting with new experiences and piloting new ideas. Experimenters unceasingly explore the world intellectually and experientially by holding convictions at bay and by testing hypotheses along the way. Disruptive businesses evolved through a series of experiments into a business model that changed their industry. Such experimenters apply the innovative process to discover about the past (what was) and the present (what is), and experimenting and generating data on “what might be” in the future. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says, “Experiments are the key to innovation because they rarely turn out as you expect, and you learn so much.” Bezos encourages employees to explore. Surely, he creates a place to both succeed and fail safely. The authors offer three ways to boost creativity: live in a different country, work in a different industry, and learn a new skill. In summary, experimenters love to “deconstruct” products, processes, and ideas to understand how they work. Doing so, they also ask questions about why things work the way they do. This often triggers new ideas for how things might work better.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #7--Networking

Five Discovery Skills—#4 Networking. Innovators spend a lot of energy finding and testing ideas through a diverse network of individuals with very different backgrounds and perspectives.  Innovative networkers search for new ideas by talking to people with a different view. Start-up entrepreneurs and corporate entrepreneurs are slightly better at the networking than product inventors are and quite a bit better than process inventors and non-innovators. A great way to network for innovation is to connect to a crowd of folks you don’t usually hang around with. The authors offer an example of a bridge-building innovator, Joe Morton, an entrepreneur in the health and nutrition industry who got a billion-dollar idea (Xango) during a trip to Malaysia.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #6--Observing

Five Discovery Skills—#3 Observing. Innovators are also intense observers. They watch the world around them—including customers, products, services, technologies, and companies—and these observations help them gain a sense of perspective and vision. The major players of observation are product innovators, followed by start-up entrepreneurs and corporate entrepreneurs, and finally, process innovators.  Such keen observers/innovators find better ways to innovate when they (1) watch customers to see what products they “hire” to do what jobs; (2) learn to look for surprises or anomalies; and (3) find opportunities to observe in a new environment. Scientific researchers who seek to reveal and resolve anomalies tend to advance their fields more productively than those seeking to avoid them. Thus, observing the differences in scientific endeavors is as valuable as observing differences in commercial endeavors. Also note that if, from the very start, you ask really tough questions, observe salient situations, and talk to more diverse people, you will likely need to run fewer experiments to get innovation.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #5--Associating

Five Discovery Skills—#2 Associating: The ability of the brain to take in new information, relate it to something else already in the brain, and create something new is a process called associating. Think about Reese’s Pieces…chocolate associated/combined creatively with peanut butter and a new candy emerges—a billion-dollar product at that. Innovators sometimes practice “forced associating” or combining things that we would never naturally combine. For example, they might imagine (or force) the combination of features in, say, lawnmower and a blender and produce a better mulching mower! The authors cite “the Medici Effect” when, during the Renaissance, the Medici family brought a variety of poets, painters, scientists and architects together to create one of history’s greatest eras of creativity. Creative leaders associate innately, but anyone can create the culture of association when you get intentional about it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #4--Questioning

Five Discovery Skills #1 Questioning.  Innovators constantly question what is—the status quo. Every high-profile innovative entrepreneur in the study scored above the seventieth percentile in questioning and associating. In fact, ignoring safe questions in favor of more audacious ones, like what would happen if we had to increase profits by 100%, makes for really disruptive changes. Leadership guru, Peter Drucker, said about the power of provocative questions: “…the important and difficult job is never to find the right answers; it is to find the right question.” Unfortunately, CEOs are constantly asked to answer questions, not pose them. Some questioning tactics to get to disruptive, high-impact innovation, include starting with “what is” (current state); then, “what caused” (origin of current state); “why” (what’s the reason); and “what if” (challenge the current state).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #3: More on the Study

More on the study:  The authors focused on four types of innovators: (1) start-up entrepreneurs; (2) corporate entrepreneurs (those who launch an innovative venture from within a corporation); (3) product innovators (those who invent a new product); and, (4) process innovators (those who launch a breakthrough process). The authors also developed an ‘innovation premium’: “The proportion of a company’s market value that cannot be accounted for from cash flow of its current products or businesses in its current markets.” The most innovative companies [based on the authors’ list]—ranked by innovation premium—averaged at least a 35 percent innovation premium over the past five years. Such companies were more likely to be led by an innovative founder or a leader who scored extremely high on the five discovery skills—questioning, associating, observing, networking, and experimenting.  They scored higher than 88 percent of people taking the “discovery skills” assessment. Indeed, innovation starts with the leader. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, for example, is an excellent experimenter and has driven experimentation down into the core of Amazon.
4.    Creativity and Genetics: Anyone can develop creativity. It’s not something you’re born with. Experimentation with twins found that only about 30 percent of their creativity could be attributed to genetics; however, about 80 to 85 percent of the twins’ performance on general intelligence (IQ) tests could be attributed to genetics. Most creative types learned creativity from people who made it “safe” to experiment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #2--The Study

The Innovation DNA Study: The authors studied a hundred revolutionary founders and executives like Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Steve Jobs (Apple), Marc Benioff (Salesforce) and many other very recognizable, innovative CEOs.  Following an analysis of these innovative geniuses, the authors built a survey focused on the five emergent innovative skills: questioning, associating, observing, networking, and experimenting. They also collected self-reported data and 360-degree data on these discovery skills from over five hundred innovators and on over five thousand executives in more than seventy-five countries. (See their website: ). They discovered the following: 1) the same pattern [of associating, networking] existed for both famous as well as less famous leaders; 2) entrepreneurs do not differ significantly (on personality traits or psychometric measures) from typical business executives; 3) most entrepreneurs launch ventures based on strategies that are not unique; 4) among entrepreneurs as a whole, only 10 to 15 percent qualify as “innovative entrepreneurs” of the disruptive kind; 5) the psychological differences between entrepreneurs and managers in large organizations are small or non-existent”; 6) there were no distinctions between traits of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Innovator's DNA--Post #1: Overview

Overview  Innovation is literally the lifeblood of our global economy. In fact, a recent IBM poll of fifteen hundred CEOs identified creativity as the number-one “leadership competency” of the future. Here’s the focus question of the research for this book: Where do disruptive business models come from? Standing on the shoulders of research in the field, including Christensen’s works, The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution, this new book’s primary purpose was to uncover the origins of innovative, disruptive business ideas. Ultimately, the goal was to explore the minds of innovate leaders and extract a formula for innovative success—what made them “think different” as Steve Jobs extolled.  Indeed, the authors uncovered five actions/behaviors that innovators engaged in regularly:  Questioning, Associating, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting—triggering innovative thinking to deliver new businesses, products, services, or processes. [My mnemonic to remember these five activities is Q&A ONE.]  This idea of a behavior-based model bodes well for us all. In short, modify behavior and change your level of disruptive innovation. The authors also discuss balancing discovery with delivery skills in proportion to the staff of the company.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #12--Moonshots

A Gathering of Eagles: The author, Gary Hamel, concludes his book with inspirations—management “moonshots”—provided during a gathering of 36 management leaders from industry, academia, and great companies. The ideas range from mending the soul, unleashing capabilities, and fostering renewal to seeking harmony, distributing power, and reshaping minds. These, as well as all the other innovative and bold ideas in What Matters Now, are important challenges for managers who strive to move beyond the routine business model and foster creative thinking

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #11--Ideology

Managing at HCLT [Inverting the Pyramid]: HCLT (70,000 employees and $3.5 Billion in revenue) is one of India’s and the world’s most progressive IT companies. They’ve decided to turn management upside down and give power to the many, not the few. In the latest recession, instead of taking a beating, they surged by 24%. How? They “killed” command-and-control and gave power to employees to create value for customers. And they did! CEO Vineet Nayar was the principal architect of this amazing effort. Putting employees first and the concept of “reverse accountability” that managers are accountable to followers fueled this remarkably innovative reorganization. Here’s how he did it: Transparent Data (offered financials to all employees); Online Forums (aired dirty laundry and people could raise very difficult questions); Service Level Agreements (employees could open a “service ticket” to complain about treatment, etc.); Open Evaluations (anyone gets to comment online about any manager); MyBlueprint (all unit-level plans are placed online for anyone to comment); Employee-First Councils (Communities of practice and passion open to all). Vineet summarizes: “…the CEO must become the management architect, someone who continuously asks, “What are the principles and processes that can help us surface the best ideas and unleash the talents of everyone who works here?” (page 240).

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #10--Ideology

Ideology Morning Star
Managing Without Hierarchy: Morning Star—This company is the world’s biggest processor of tomatoes and has one of the most innovative management models. Morning Star has a self-managing model (ideology), one with no directives from others and no supervisors. All employees submit their Colleague Letter of Understanding (CLOU) detailing what they must do individually to fulfill their personal missions in the company. Employees negotiate their agreements with people they interact with and include activities and performance metrics. Business Units also negotiate the same sort of CLOU with other units. Organizations are a complex web of relationships and at Morning Star, the CEO, Chris Rufer, believes that his company is stronger by making those relationships more bottom up and sideways (peer oriented) than top-down. Morning Star employs an open requisition system where employees can buy the equipment they need and are responsible to colleagues for what they bought and why. This system rests on the basic assumption: The best person to solve a problem is the one closest to it. Morning Star fosters competition for impact, not promotion (no career ladders here). People are free to: succeed (pursue their own path); have clear targets and transparent data (common data and personal metrics); calculate and consult (spend $ based on a personal business plan); manage conflict resolution and due process (mediate their issues with someone else, including a peer mediator); use peer reviews (freedom and responsibility to peers); elect compensation committees (like law firms deciding on partner comp). Such self-management leads to more initiative, expertise, flexibility, collegiality, judgment, loyalty and so much more. [See p. 229 about how to get started on this path of self-management.] Some quick steps: 1) everyone writes down their mission statement—how will they contribute to the success of their colleagues; 2) expand employee autonomy…what rules, policies, and procedures can be changed to help you succeed in your mission to help others; 3) develop a team P&L with transparent numbers; 4) remove distinctions between managers and those “managed.”

Friday, November 30, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #9--Ideology~No Hierarchy

Ideology: Managing Without Hierarchy: W.L. Gore & Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex, among other performance fabrics, is considered by Fast Company as one of the world’s most innovative companies. Founded by a chemical engineer from Du Pont, Bill Gore, in the late ‘50s, the company was to be a “skunk works,” an innovative place to work. Today, unlike most companies, Gore has no formal hierarchy, no bosses, and no titles. To call it a flat organization is almost an understatement. Gore is a lattice organization (not hierarchical), where employees go anywhere in the company when they need to get things done (not through a boss); they self-commit to whatever they’re passionate about (instead of being locked in by a position description); and, promotions come from the bottom up. You get to lead ONLY if people are willing to follow you; you’re not promoted from the top. At Gore, leadership is about how the leader makes others successful, not him/herself. The leader goes from being the custodian of power to being the custodian of culture. They ensure a healthy culture where all employees have a voice, not just the powerful. The big question: How do you get the best ideas to surface? Each new employee gets a sponsor, not just a boss. The role of a sponsor is to help each new hire reach full potential. Moreover, peer evaluation becomes the key way for evaluating leaders. All leaders get forced ranked based on the impact they’ve had across the enterprise. Gore finds strong consistency in how managers are ranked from top to bottom. This process drives accountability and discipline. No slackers here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #8--Ideology

Ideology: The way we think about something becomes our ideology (philosophy, belief system) and affects our behavior. If we think that employees are lazy and irresponsible (Douglas McGregor’s Theory X), then we watch them closely and treat them like prisoners. On the other hand, if we consider them productive, responsible folks, we treat them like colleagues (Theory Y). The author suggests management ideology comes from a healthy tug of war between yin/yang-like theories, such that it’s not one ideology vs. the other, rather a blend that makes sense. He uses the role of a parent as both nurturer and disciplinarian as an apt analogy. Within organizations, there’s a real tension between competing ideologies of bureaucracy and innovation. The discipline and stability of bureaucracy can be a real advantage and yet become a snag to innovative or creative thinking. The new organizational reality mandates bold and focused ideas, demonstrated by progressive companies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #7--Passion

Passion: Managers are more likely to throw a wet blanket over innovation and enthusiasm than not. A Towers Watson survey (Global Workforce Study in 2007-08) showed that companies that scored higher in engagement have much better earnings growth and fatter margins than those that do not; however they found only 21% of employees were engaged! Hamel, restates the Hierarchy of Human Capabilities at Work (from his book, The Future of Management). While obedience, diligence, and expertise are still critical to an organization, the capabilities that have the most value are initiative, creativity, and passion. Managers today need to create a work environment that inspires employees to bring initiative, imagination, and passion to the job. Hamel thinks that rather than an organization-centered business, we should focus first on an individual-centered organization. He suggests decentralization, community focus, transparency, servant leadership, peer review, and self-determination.
•    A fascinating example of passion and leadership offered by Hamel: “Mission-Shaped Communities” (MSCs) were developed to help stem the drain of membership at the Church of England. One church had 500 members but was losing 10% of its membership a year—very common among western churches. The minster formed mission-shaped communities of up to 50 people specifically focused on a mission of passion—the elderly, youth, disabled, etc. With a modicum of rules and leadership training, the groups grew and the church thrived—engagement grew the church from 500 to 1,000 in a period of decline among its peers.
•    The “Facebook Generation” (Gen F) will expect a different place to work. The Industrial Revolution changed people from independent farmers and artisans (nearly 90% of white males in 1890 were self-employed) to rule-following employees. A similar change is afoot with Gen F—the digital natives who expect Web-based knowledge and access, much like a fish expects water. Thus, ideas compete on an equal footing, contributions count more than credentials, hierarchies are bottom up (not the other way around), leaders are servant leaders, groups are self-defining and self-organizing, and so forth. This is an important chapter for managers with new Gen F employees entering the workforce.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #6--Adaptability

Adaptability: Great quote by Hamel, “Every organization is successful until it’s not.” As such, the watchword of today has evolved to “Exponential Change.” In mobile computing, for example, there have been four leaders in four decades: Motorola, Nokia, Research in Motion (Blackberry), and Apple—the reality of competition in a changing world. Companies will either adapt or falter. Resilient organizations keep pace with changes and survive. An adaptable company is one that takes advantage of new opportunities, redefines its core business to encourage growth, and actively addresses evolving client needs. Some caveats offered by Hamel: Gravity Wins (over time things settle down, and then down further); Strategies Die (no such thing as a perfect strategy—they get replicated, superseded, or eviscerated by competitors); Success Corrupts (we get fat, dumb and happy with success…and our competitors sneak up and steal our cheese!). Hamel provides a cheat-sheet to “Future Proof” your company (p.119). To be ready for the future, your company needs to embrace the following:
•    Anticipation—face the inevitable, learn from the fringe, rehearse alternative futures
•    Intellectual Flexibility—challenge assumptions, invest in genetic diversity, encourage debate and dialectic thinking
•    Strategic Variety—build a new strategic options portfolio, build a magnet for ideas, and minimize the cost of experimentation
•    Strategic Flexibility—disaggregate the organization, create real competition for resources, and multiply sources of funding for new initiatives
•    Structural Flexibility—avoid irreversible commitments, invest in flexibility, and think competencies and platforms
•    Resilience-Friendly Values—embrace a grand challenge, embed new management principles, and honor Web-inspired values

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #5--More About Innovation

More Innovation: Innovators pay attention to four areas: unchallenged orthodoxies (challenge what people take for granted, like—software as a service from the cloud); underappreciated trends (notice even small harbingers of change—50% of people now bidding with TV carriers for lower costs); underleveraged competencies and assets (redeploy assets to another part of company—like Disney that produces live shows on cruises); and, unarticulated needs (listen carefully for customer needs and amaze them with innovation—think TiVo). Be sure to read the chapter, “Deconstructing Apple,” which explains Apple’s values (passion, leadership, surprise, innovation; see p. 80 for others) and how those values are innovative and customer centric. To become more innovative, companies need more pro-innovation initiatives.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #4--Innovation

Innovation: “Hunkered down is the new normal!” Potentially stagnant economies and deer-in-the-headlights CEOs lead many companies to sort of ‘shelter in place.’ Hamel reminds us that we owe much to innovation, such as: Prosperity (just consider all the tech advances in recent decades); Happiness (we were born to create and get pleasure from it); Future (whether climate change or global competition, innovation is at the heart of our survival). Hamel provides a list of the most innovative companies. Topping both Fast Company’s and BusinessWeek’s lists are three companies—Apple, Google, and Amazon. Then he specifies several other groups of companies.
•    Rockets—companies propelled by quirky business models…Hulu, Spotify, and Gilt Groupe. Hamel notes that in 2006 Starbucks and IKEA were innovator rock stars, but today both are part of the establishment.
•    Laureates—companies that innovate routinely, like GE, Intel, Novartis, Microsoft and others. Laureates are great at maximizing R&D.
•    Artistes—companies squarely inside the creativity business like IDEO and Grey New York.
•    Cyborgs—companies like Google and Amazon that were “built to innovate.”
•    Born-Again Innovators—companies like P&G and IBM. Hard to believe after all this time IBM has continued to be the leader in patents for 18 years.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #3--Values

Values: In light of Bernie Madoff, Enron, BP, and other corporate scandals, the author sees little stewardship going on in business today. A Gallup poll shows that only 15% of people regard business as having high standards—being faithful stewards. Note that nurses came in first at 81%.  Hamel then describes such good stewards with 5 words: Fealty (protecting interests of people who work for you); Charity (putting others’ needs ahead of your own); Prudence (safeguarding the future instead of the present gain); Accountability (being responsible); Equity (being fair to all contributors). According to Hamel, the most recent economic downturn in 2008 came about as a result of a moral crisis, shared by just about everyone. He recounts the roles of many, including the Fed, bankers, politicians, insurance execs, and a raft of others who participated in the moral booze party that left America with a terrific, expensive hangover. [See pp. 11-24 for an artful (and terrifying) description of the near collapse of our economy.] Hamel calls us to emulate “Farmer Values” focused on honest sweat and hard work, and urges us not to focus on how to make a quick buck. He harkens readers and businesspeople to adopt a noble purpose, not a financial goal or arbitrary % of profit. Examples: Disney is in the joy business. People can rally around the noble purpose of Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey, who cofounded his company based on love—a word rarely heard in corporate America.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #2--Five Elements of Survival

Hamel  lays out five key areas where companies must challenge previous assumptions to ensure future survival:
1.    Values: With all that has happened in business regarding shifting values and standards, Hamel calls for a “moral renaissance” in business.
2.    Innovation: Global competition, the Internet, and consumer accessibility to products have all put competition on steroids! Without constant and fundamental innovation embedded in our corporate DNA, success will be as fleeting as yesterday’s news. Hamel emphasizes that innovation is everyone’s job, not something delegated to a few lofty corporate leaders in the company.
3.    Adaptability: We’re all familiar with the evolutionary mantra, “adapt or die.” It’s as true today as at any time in our history. With hyper-accelerated change, any company [or individual] that can’t innovate and adjust to the strong winds of change will get blown away.
4.    Passion: It’s hard to change and adapt without deep passion. Consequently, things become mediocre and finally fall prey to innovative competitors. Unfortunately, many companies are geared to perform the same task over and over, ever more efficiently. It takes passion to ask “Can we do something else?” 
5.    Ideology: Businesses need not only better, more innovative practices but also better principles—a coherent ideology. Bureaucracies have long held sway, with central control, regulations, and top-down leadership. This model is DEAD! Hamel offers a clear vision of the future of management with in-depth discussions about such new-model leaders as W.L Gore, Morning Star, and HCLT.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What Matters Now: Post #1--Overview

Overview: Professor, author, and thought leader about the future of management, Gary Hamel has written his smart management manifesto for now and the coming years.  Gary Hamel is a BIG thinker—one to whom CEOs and leaders at every level should listen and heed his words. Technology and communication have joined together in a “perfect storm” to accelerate change at warp speed. Adapting to change is a fundamental tenet of competition for survival. Hamel has given us the ‘holy grail’ for leadership. Essentially, he’s asking us all to rethink the fundamental assumptions and ideas that got us to where we are. He lays out five key areas where companies must challenge previous assumptions to ensure future survival:Values, Innovation, Adaptability, Passion, Ideology.

What Matters Now (Jossey-Bass, 2012) by Gary Hamel, reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D. November 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#11--Conclusion

Conclusion: To be successful, innovative initiatives need to start off well—avoid making the PE resistive by looking like a rogue upstart. Also, select a leader for the DT who has status and power in the company, broad experience in the PE, and serves the long-term interests of the company. In this final chapter, the authors address the following myths, among others: Innovation is all about ideas, the great leader never fails, effective innovators are subversives fighting the system (see p. 179 for a more complete list). In what amounts to an appendix, the authors offer several assessment tools worth looking at. I especially appreciated their Scholarly Foundations section that serves as a comprehensive annotated bibliography for anyone interested in doing further inquiry on the subject. This

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Other Side of Innovation--Post#10--Truth

Seek the Truth: Love this chapter (p. 143) because it recognizes how many of the biases we all have: Over-investment in an idea, ego, pressure of “results,” familiarity, recency, and much more. Innovators should not only be accountable for results, but also for actions and learning that takes place—all of which can only happened with close disciplined effort.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#9--The Hypothesis

The Hypothesis: The starting point for any experiment is the hypothesis—the basic observation or question you’re trying to answer. Because the Dedicated Team will have such a varied number of points of view, it’s important to establish a hypothesis of record so the whole team can proceed forward on the same track. Establish a cause and effect map and then question all assumptions rigorously.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#8--The Experiment

 Formalize the Experiment: First, look at the change process as an experiment. As with all experiments, start with a hypothesis and test it, record the results, and learn from the experiment. Intuition fails us for a number of reasons, so stick to a scientific process. And test every initiative separately. Continuously experiment and evaluate. For a good comparison between Performance Engine vs. Dedicated Team (innovators), see p. 116.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#7--Managing the Partnership

Manage the Partnership: One key relationship is between the Project Team and the Shared Staff. Remember that it’s a cultural fit and respect of people in the Performance Engine, especially the shared staff, that makes or breaks a viable innovative partnership. Personal persuasion, respect, clear agreements up front, and a dose of humility (especially among the Dedicated Team) are essential. The Dedicated Team members are the “new kids on the block” and must respect the culture or get bitten by it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#6--Partnership Team

Partnership Team: Despite inevitable contretemps, the innovation team must develop a sustainable relationship with the PE or die along the way. The Project Team is the partnership. The “shared staff” bridges the two—the DT and PE teams. Innovation is not the sole province of the Dedicated Team, rather the result of a well-coordinated partnership between the Dedicated Team and the PE.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#5--Distinct & Disciplined

Distinct but Disciplined: In order for innovation to happen, the innovation team must be distinct from the PE. However, beyond just being distinct, the innovation team must be disciplined. So, distinct and disciplined rules the day. The temptation for companies is to see a good idea and tell innovation teams to just “go for it.” Rather, the authors caution that innovative initiatives require a team with a customized organizational model and a plan that gets revised through experimentation and learning.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#4--Cooperation

Cooperate to Graduate: Some companies think that just breaking the rules—a kind of cultural “us” (innovators) against “them” (performance engine/PE folks) approach—works. The authors would caution against such us-vs-them thinking for several reasons. 1) The PE pays the rent! Without partnering with the PE side of the house, you could run out of money; 2) A break-all-the-rules mantra wakes the sleeping giant of PE and antagonizes it. Fighting the establishment is a bad idea; 3) A break-it attitude feels like arrogance to the PE, and you will get massive pushback and eventually a push out. Mutual respect is what the authors suggest—good for any negotiation. The innovative team has to respect the power of the incumbent PE, and the PE team has to respect the long-term  effect of innovation on corporate’s adaptation and survival.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#3--Production

Innovation and production: Thomas Edison’s famous quote introduces this book: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” The authors’ simple formula:  Innovation = Ideas + Execution.  Examples: Nucor, the innovative steel maker, pioneered widely distributed mini-mills and pushed innovation by cross-training employees and rotating them among plants and paying for innovative ideas from all employees—empowering processes that produced real innovation. John Deere perfected the innovative discipline of documenting every step of their process that can be used over and over and improved on to drive new innovations. However, while companies may start off as innovative engines, as they mature, they turn into  “Performance Engines” designed to produce reliable products at a scale of sustainable profitability—short-term performance beats down long-term innovation every time. Performance Engines (PE) want processes that are both repeatable and predictable, but innovation is the opposite—uncertain and unpredictable. Thus, the first rule of innovation: “Innovation and ongoing operations are always and inevitably in conflict” (p. 11).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#2--Background

Background: Strategy dominated the ‘70s; sustaining (and defending success) dominated the ‘80s; but, the innovation genie is out of the bottle—now companies must innovate or die. Innovation is the new strategy. Just look at the cell phone industry (smart phones, especially) for examples. Full of case studies, this book offers a window into how to execute on innovation and make it part of corporate DNA. For other examples of innovation case studies, see  And while the authors would argue that innovation has to be part of any dynamic organization’s DNA for survival, it’s systematically executing on that innovation that matters.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post #1--Overview

Overview:  Businesses are structured for operations, not innovation. That’s the heart of this book—how to take a creative concept from origin to implementation, especially in established companies. Big innovation isn’t about two guys in a garage coming up with Microsoft or HP. It’s about creating innovation AND executing on that innovation, once these companies are already listed on the stock exchange. The book answers the question: How do companies make innovation more routine to stay competitive?
The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble (HBR Press, 2010), reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #10--Final Words

For people in a hurry, consider reading the back of the book first. Then if you want to see the approach in action, read the front of the book—the story. I think it’s worth considering either way.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Innovative Leader: Post #9--The Fable

The Story/Fable.  Story by its nature helps people to see the process work. To the extent that the fable helps us see this innovative process in action, it works. An innovative team works through the four-pronged process (Clarify, Generate, Develop, and Implement) to provide their important client ultimately with a set of ideas that will propel their client’s company forward. Some hints that might help the authors next time around might be to shorten the story, reduce the dialogue and intersperse it with more vivid description, and make us care more about the characters as real people. They felt like Legos to me…serving a definite purpose (their thinking styles) but not someone I cared for on an emotional level. I also thought the climax of the story fell short. Again, I think the fable illustrates the innovative process and just needs some work buffing up the story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #8--Plans

Implementing Plans: Driving change isn’t easy because every change involves a huge emotional challenge for people. Remember that the pull of the status quo will always be a powerful counter-pressure to change. In a group, the folks most likely to want to implement change are “drivers” who can often be seen as pushy and assertive.  So, be sensitive to the group’s emotions or become the target of their wrath. Therefore, the authors propose a simple but effective “assistors-resistors” approach which will help teams recognize the emotional and physical helpers or blockers in the organizations. Simply asking who, what, when, where and why about both the assistors and resistors provides you with a worthy strategy. Of course, assistors will help you champion your plan. However, when considering resistors, implement the “challenge questioning” process: Ask “How can we get marketing to help us? What would appeal to the COO? I wonder who could get to the CFO?” This assistor-resistor process is a powerful antidote to failure.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #7--Solutions

Developing Solutions: “True creativity brings novelty and usefulness together (p. 215).” Recognize that ideas are great and need to be honed and polished to be useful. During this phase of the process, the authors suggest “test, test, test.”  Vetting ideas and honing them can make the difference between success and failure. A half-baked idea is as useless as no idea at all. People on an effective innovation team will likely be very different and yet complementary. Developers will want to probe and test, while idea generators want to create new ideas. To get the group through this step, the authors recommend their POINt system. Plusses (Here’s what I like about that idea…); Opportunities (This could make a big difference…); Issues (How might we sell it to marketing?); New Thinking  (Which issues require the most innovative thinking?).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #6--Ideas

Generating Ideas: This phase involves looking at the buckets related to your pressing issue or problem and then exploring them to generate novel ways to answer the challenge questions, How might… and In what ways? Again divergence and convergence play into the mix here. In divergence, remember some rules: Defer judgment, generate a lot of ideas, don’t be afraid of innovative thinking, group themes or ideas. In convergence, be kind to others, be thoughtful and focus on the goal and innovation—not personalities.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #5--Clarifying

Clarifying the Situation. The authors call this phase “the starting gate in any innovation.” Understanding what the real problem is before trying to solve it, not only saves time, but also gets teams to solve the right problem. First diverge…using brainstorming, mind mapping, and simply asking the key questions of who, what, why, how, when, where, and open-ended questions.  Such questions open up discussion and result in team learning. When converging into areas, themes, or buckets, look for natural groupings that make sense. Then, ask challenge questions such as, How might… or In what ways… to help explore these buckets further. Remember an elegant solution to the wrong problem isn’t any better than the wrong answer to the right question.
7.    Generating Ideas: This phase involves looking at the buckets related to your pressing issue or problem and then exploring them to generate novel ways to answer the challenge questions, How might… and In what ways? Again divergence and convergence play into the mix here. In divergence, remember some rules: Defer judgment, generate a lot of ideas, don’t be afraid of innovative thinking, group themes or ideas. In convergence, be kind to others, be thoughtful and focus on the goal and innovation—not personalities.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #4--Thinking Styles

Exploring the Four Creative Thinking Styles. Part two of the book addresses the central innovative model posited by the authors: 1) Clarifying the Situation; 2) Generating Ideas; 3) Developing Solutions; 4) Implementing Plans.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #3-Mind Mapping, etc...

More Lessons from the Story. See the simple and comprehensible diagram and explanation of breakthrough thinking model on p. 47-49.  Also, the authors “show” us mind mapping on p. 73 to help us “see” part of the creative process. In chapter 14, p. 153, the authors show us the POINt process to enhance creativity (as a counter to SWOT—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). POINt stands for: Pluses (use a kind of “yes-and” approach to new ideas); Opportunities (what if…where is the opportunity in the thinking going on—part of divergence); Issues (ask questions about concerns or considerations that it will take to be successful); New Thinking (What new thinking will help us solve this problem…address this issue?).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #2--Lessons

Lessons Learned in Story. Divergent thinking—Brainstorming (p.92): 1) Defer Judgment (hold back critical thinking for later); 2) Get as many ideas as you can (get all the ideas out first); 3) Allow for novel thinking (nothing’s too outlandish); 4) Look for combinations (put ideas together to create something new—think about Reese’s pieces—chocolate and peanut butter). Convergent thinking (p.122): 1) Be appreciative (find what you like about the idea); 2) Be deliberate (slow down and consider the idea); 3) Remind yourself of the goal (does the idea hit the goal?); 4) Consider novelty (anything new here?)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #1--Overview

The Innovative Team: Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results by Chris Grivas and Gerard Puccio (Jossey-Bass, 2012). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., October 2012.

Overview: The authors have developed an innovative framework, which offers companies and organizations a clear advantage both in product development and job creation. Their innovative process is called FourSight—one which the authors researched over the years and then developed a proprietal product named after their process. Simply put, their framework/process calls for an innovative team to assess their strengths and then work with them—maybe not brand new, but you need to read further. They do provide a simple, replicable process based on four phases (and ultimately four thinking types of people): Clarify the Situation; Generate Ideas; Develop Solutions; and Implement Plans. Using their field-tested approach, the authors attempt to demystify innovation and creativity.

Book supplied by the publisher...Jossey-Bass.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Little Bets: Conclusion--Post #10

Conclusion: Watch young children playing, and you’ll see a perfect example of “little bets.” They try, test, fail, succeed and finally learn. Great learning isn’t static or linear. Although textbooks are written that way, that’s not how knowledge gets learned in “real life.” We experiment, try this, fail, try something else, get a win, build on it and move forward. Many of the world’s creative geniuses got to their place of prominence by testing, adjusting, revising. They made “little bets” that paid off big. Final note: I like the “Further Readings and Resources” section at the back of the book. Good stuff for further exploration and discovery!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Little Brest: Innovators--Post #9

Innovators and Early Adopters: Whether it’s Chris Rock testing his comedy in front of small but avid comedy club goers or John Legend testing his music with the brilliant Kanye West, smart developers use innovators and early adopters to test and refine their creations. Thus, they learn a lot from a few. Note in Everett Roger’s research (p. 132) that innovators (only 2.5% of the population) pick things up first, then early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and finally, laggards (16%).

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Little Bets: Questions--Post #8

Questions, the New Answers: The story of Muhammad Yunus who founded Grameen Bank (micro-lending to poor people) and won the Nobel Prize. Yunus was an economics professor who finally became a field researcher of poverty and essentially an anthropologist of the people, just outside his protected university lecture hall. When he started asking questions of local poor people (taking a “worm’s” eye view, not  bird’s eye view), he discovered that only 22 cents could make a difference between poverty and financial health in Jobra, a poor Indian village. Yunus discovered an unintentional path toward the Nobel Prize by asking questions, not giving answers.  Whether it’s Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, A.G. Lafley (of P&G), or Jerry Seinfeld, creative people all have one thing in common: Inquisitiveness. Taking an anthropologist’s inquiry point of view (worm’s eye view) will uncover answers and insights through good questions.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Little Bets: Play--Post #7

Play: Experiments with musicians discovered that when they played improvised jazz, they somehow shut off the self-censoring part of their brains. In other words, they turned off unhealthy perfectionism and stayed open and available to the creative process. Creativity starts when restraint ends. Getting into the state of “flow” ( Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) where time flies and delight flows—comes when we “…do work that appeals to our intrinsic interests that’s also aligned with our personal strengths.” Improvisation principles include: 1) “Yes…And.” Accept every idea (without judgment), and build on it with more ideas; 2) Playfulness in the environment creates a safe place to express new ideas; 3) Humor improves quantity and quality of communications, steps up creativity by creating trust; successful humor breaks down the power structure and HiPPO…highest paid person’s opinion (people think that higher paid people are smarter and more insightful—not so!).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Little Bets: Perfectionism--Post #6

Perfectionism: This trait can be both unhealthy and healthy. When unhealthy it is externally driven, caring too much what others think, needing approval, ruminating over past failure, and fear of failure. Whereas, healthy perfectionism is internally driven, excellence driven, quality focused, and learning from failure…failing forward toward a more perfect product/service. One writer, Anne Lamott, talks about starting her writing with a “shitty first draft,” which I have been doing for years!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Little Bets: Growth Mindset--Post #5

Growth Mindset: Sims discusses the work of Carol Dweck, a social psychologist at Stanford. She developed the theory of Fixed vs. Growth mindset. According to Dweck, fixed-mindset people avoid challenges, give up easily, avoid too much effort, ignore constructive criticism, and get threatened by the success of others. Growth-mindset folks are the opposite. They invite and embrace changes, bounce back from setbacks, equate effort as necessary to mastery, accept and learn from criticism, and find motivation from the success of others.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little Bets: Big Numbers--Post #4

The Tyranny of Big Numbers: Using Hewlett-Packard (HP) as an example, the author tells the story of how after HP grew up from its humble experimental beginnings, they only went after big bets—billion-dollar bets. Essentially, they allowed other, smaller, more nimble companies to discover the technology, rather than create new discoveries themselves. They followed their big plan—into failure. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara placed the same sort of big bet in Vietnam. He bet that millions of dollars in bombing would bring the Viet Cong to its knees. But the Cong’s extensive tunnel system shielded them from the bombs and marked the end of this big bet, failed strategy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Little Bets: The Process--Post #3

Little Bets Process: Sims describes his process early on. He also explains that it takes a real shift in mindset—discovering the best answer rather than starting with the “right answer.” Here’s his Little Bets creative process in brief: Experiment, play, immerse, define, reorient and iterate:
a.    Experiment: Learn by doing. Jump in try, fail, try again, discover new ways of solving problems.
b.    Play: Stay open, relaxed and in a humorous state that allows ideas to flow and not get stuck in seriousness.
c.    Immerse: Dive into the pool and swim around in the subject. Get wet!
d.    Define: Clearly understanding the nature of the issues prevents an elegant solution to the wrong problem. Define the problem carefully first.
e.    Reorient: Don’t be afraid to take a pivot right or left to adapt to new information you get. Stay flexible.
f.    Iterate: Work, revise, rework. It’s what comedians like Chris Rock and all good writers do—revision (reiteration) is where the gold is.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Little Bets: Introduction--Post #2

Introduction: In the intro chapter Sims talks about what Chris Rock, the comedian, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon, among others, have in common. They make little bets along the way…they experiment. Chris Rock for example, literally takes a notepad into little off-the-path comedy clubs and “tests” out his jokes with small, die-hard comedy audiences. And only when he gets his jokes perfected does he use them on TV or in front of large groups. Very calculated. Bezos at Amazon started his whole business on a bet and had several failed bets along the way. For example, his failed partnership with Sotheby’s, when he went head to head with eBay, stands out as one of his biggest failed bets. The author’s theory of experimental innovation actually comes from a number of seemingly unrelated places: the military, creative artists, entrepreneurs, software developers, and more. He uses “design thinking” based on building up answers (from experimenting and observations) rather than starting with the correct answer.
3.    Little Bets Process: Sims describes his process early on. He also explains that it takes a real shift in mindset—discovering the best answer rather than starting with the “right answer.” Here’s his Little Bets creative process in brief: Experiment, play, immerse, define, reorient and iterate:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Little Bets: Post #1--Overview

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries (Free Press, 2011) by Peter Sims and reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., September 2012.

Overview: “The best entrepreneurs don’t begin with brilliant ideas—they discover them.” This quote comes early on in the book and sums it up. Sims uses example after example of creative geniuses such as John Legend, Thomas Edison, and Jeff Bezos as examples of people who placed a number of small bets to test their ideas early on. They all used what can be called an emergent design. Indeed, discovery is not a linear process, nor is knowledge static—even though textbooks might have us believe those notions. To quote Sims, “As Richard Wiseman’s research shows, chance favors an open mind, receptivity to what cannot be predicted or imagined based on existing knowledge.” In short, when you stay open to the universe, more comes your way!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Being Global: Post #5--Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship: Global leaders don’t make profits on the backs of poor or disadvantaged people in other countries. They act as “citizens of the world.”
a.    This one is tough because competition pushes some people to give up the wide view in favor of personal gain—in place of personal integrity. True global leaders resist the pressure of shareholders to pursue solely financial gains. They do not condone bribery, skirting the law, or dancing on the edge of ethics. Rather, these leaders take one giant step toward the side of decency and global concern.
b.    Social Mission:  Even the most business minded of companies must be socially minded and involved if they want to become global citizens.  In short our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is global, not just local.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Being Global: Post #4--Global Entrepreneurs

Global Entrepreneurs leverage their mindset to create value for themselves, investors, customers and global business partners. They are “boundary spanners and bridgers.” These global entrepreneurs create value several ways.
a.    Tap commonalities, for example, to use technology to enter into a new market and divergence to adapt to supply chain variability.
b.    Tap networks to scale up in telecommunications, transportation or in business platforms.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being Global: Post #3--Global Mindset

Global Mindset: A worldview that looks at problems or issues in such a way that a solution emerges through a collaborative multicultural approach involving global psychological capital, intellectual capital, and global social capital.
a.    Global psychological capital: Leaders look at problems from a wide angle, including multiple points of view. They suspend judgment to understand others’ points of view.
b.    Global intellectual capital: Leaders have strong political and economic understanding of the complexity of international affairs. They see international trends, industry risks and potential rewards.
c.    Global Social Capital: Leaders develop networks beyond local comfortable boundaries. They’re emotionally and socially astute, listen well, and assimilate a variety of viewpoints.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Being Global: Post #2--Making a Global Leader

Global Leaders Can be Made
a.    What is a global leader? Global leaders figure out how to use differences (social and cultural) as ways to pull people together, not separate them. They function to build bridges among global resources and talent to create value.
b.    Why do we need Global Thinkers? The authors use the fascinating example of blue jeans—nothing is more American or more global. From Peru for cotton, to China for finishing, then to Malaysia to be spun, to Thailand to be woven, Singapore to be cut, Indonesia for sewing, to India for labels….the list keeps going! Thus, our jeans are global jeans. We need global leaders to deal with this level of complexity to “leverage its fundamental forces to have a positive impact.”
c.    Global Leaders for all sectors: “Being Global” involves a personal intention to focus on being global. Companies don’t exist in silos but within systems, especially global ones. Being global is about crossing not just borders but also cultural divides between business, government and social sectors. The UN is doing this with Millennium Development Goals. Global leaders see problems in context and with a wider lens that leads to more worldwide sustainability and not simply parochial interests.
d.    Global Leaders have a global mindset, practice global entrepreneurship and engage in global citizenship.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Being Global: Post #1--Overview

Being Global: How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World by Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh (Harvard Business Press, 2012), reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., September 2012

Overview: Being Global by Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh is itself a global business leadership primer. “The world today is truly global: Inclusive, multidirectional, interlinked, and hugely complex.” Getting managers ready for a global experience is more than blitz language training and a short course on culture. Walmart discovered this when it tried to penetrate Brazil with Walmart’s big-box concept in a Brazilian mom-and-pop culture. Cabrera and Unruh met at Thunderbird School of Global Management (started in 1946 to focus on training managers for international trade) in Glendale, Arizona. According to the authors, “Being Global” needs to be part of an organization’s (and a person’s) DNA. This book shares and promulgates Thunderbird’s philosophy to help leaders become more global. The authors make their purpose known up front: “Our interest is in how you can actually transcend culture, become effective across cultural settings, effectively interact with culturally diverse individuals and organizations and create value.” Finally, Angel Cabrera is the incoming president of George Mason University in Virginia. It will be interesting to see how he brings his global mindset to this major U.S. University. I wish great success for him, George Mason University, and the global community at large.
[Note: The author of this review teaches at George Mason University.]

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Advantage: Post#12--Meetings

Great Meetings: Extracted from his book, Death by Meeting, there’s nothing new here but very important stuff well worth considering. Lencioni recommends four types of meetings for healthy organizations.
a.    The Daily Check-In: Held in 5-10 minutes, while standing up, participants get 30 seconds to share any administrative stuff going on. This is a quick, boots-on-the ground meeting.
b.    Weekly Tactical Staff Meeting: 45-90 minutes, “agenda-less” meeting; in a very quick (30-second) burst everyone lists (not discusses) their top 2-3 priorities. The leader then drills down with questions and the team maps progress toward the Playbook matrix that includes the Thematic Goal, Defining Objectives, and Standard Operating Objectives. In a sense, they evaluate the scorecard—how are we doing?
c.    Monthly  Strategic Meeting: Take 2-4 hours a month to tackle the big vision, strategic/directional questions that take time to solve. Send the agenda out ahead of time and allow time to clarify and debate issues to resolution.
d.    Developmental Meetings: Quarterly (1-2 days) offsites allow teams to revisit the Playbook (thematic goal, defining objectives, etc.), discuss industry trends, threats and opportunities.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Advantage: Post #11--Reinforce Clarity

Discipline #4: Reinforce Clarity—Checking on the six clarifying questions ensures clarity will be established and held by the team. So, an organization has to weave it into its DNA without creating a bureaucracy.  Certain human systems can be used to reinforce these clarifying questions. New hires at an organization provide the opportunity to teach and ensure that they know and will focus on and live by the questions. Using a simple yet consistent plan throughout the organization is key. Interviewing can also provide an opportunity for any leaders to probe new hires for their fit with corporate values. Keep performance management simple, but make sure the right conversations are about the 6 clarifying questions. If your corporate values matter—especially the permission-to-play (fundamental issues)—you should hold every employee to them, and those who simply cannot play by those fundamental rules should be let go.

The Advantage: Post#10--Overcommunicate Clarity

Discipline #3—Overcommunicate Clarity: Anything worth saying is worth saying 7 times—that’s how many times employees have to hear something from a leader to start believing that the leader really means it. Unfortunately, for a host of reasons (time, not wanting to be redundant, etc.), many leaders don’t repeat themselves. The result is a garbled message, inconsistent execution and often frustration. Lencioni asks leaders to become Chief Reminding Officers, responsible for reminding people of important issues like the vision and values of the company. One way to ensure communication is to engage in “cascading communications” a pouring down the organization of key information from all supervisors to all employees. Lencioni suggests three tactics: Message consistency, timeliness of passing on the word, and real-time communication. And while the author argues for upward and lateral communication channels, he notes that in very healthy organizations, when there is cohesiveness at the top, communication gets even better. The final test of cascading communications is whether employees can articulate the six clarifying questions (like, why do we exist? And, how do we behave?)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Advantage: Post #9--Create Clarity--Behavior

 Question #2: How do we behave? Values drive behavior. If we value collaboration, we will help other teams when they need help…not ignore the need. Developing a core set of values (based on what we will hire and fire on) is a critical step for great organizations. The author outlines several different types of values, integrated into a plan—Core, Aspirational, Accidental and Permission to Play. Core—hire or fire values. Aspirational—what the team wants to have. Accidental—evolve but are not necessarily good. And Permission-to-Play—baseline values like honesty and respect. In the end, core values matter the most. They define the DNA of who we are as a team. Sometimes using an original metaphor helps. The author uses a corporate example used by one company— “willing to sweep the floors”—to describe a concrete example of a value in action.

Note there are 4 other questions to be answered...see the book for the rest.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Advantage: Post#8--Create Clarity

Discipline #2—Create  Clarity: Clarity around goals depends upon creating alignment. However, any misalignment at the top of an organization creates confusion, conflict and strife below. Small gaps at the top translate to huge divides lower in the organization. Mission statements can become a ball of wax full of platitudes and buzzwords that confuse, not clarify.  So the author offers six clarifying questions: Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What is most important right now? Who must do what?

Question #1: Why do we exist? High performing teams want and need a noble and aspirational goal. They need to answer the ‘not what we do’ but ‘why we do it’ question. But it’s not a slogan or tagline—more our real purpose.  So a hotel might provide excellent service, but why? To help patrons escape and recharge so they can go back to work with renewed energy. And the focus of that purpose can be industry, community or customer driven (among others). But knowing why we do what we do drives us toward a higher calling—a purpose.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Advantage: Post#7--Build Team on Results

Focus on Results: The ultimate goal of a team is to get results. No goals accomplished, no effective team. “Teams that lead healthy organizations… come to terms with the difficult but critical requirement that its members must put the needs of the higher team ahead of the needs of their departments” (p.69). This is a BIG point. Loyalty to the team you’re a member of is more important than the team you lead. Why? Because alignment at the higher level has a much deeper impact. Shifting a team’s priorities from individual to collective ones is essential for making good decisions for the entire organization. The author aptly calls it “One team, one score.”

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Advantage: Post#6--Build Team w/ Accountability

Embrace Accountability: Peers holding other peers accountable makes for great accountability and great teams. Commit to a decision and confront others who don’t live up to the agreement—not easy but a sure sign of caring about the person and the team. A drop in measurable metrics is almost always traced back to a lack of desired behavior. “Conflict is about issues and ideas, while accountability is about performance and behavior” (p. 60).

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Advantage: Post#5--Build Team w/ Commitment

Achieve Commitment: “If people don’t weigh in, they don’t buy in” (p. 48). By inviting conflict, a leader opens up the team to better options. And the leader is there to break ties…not to create consensus! Intel’s “disagree and commit” philosophy means we can disagree in the conference room but are united after we leave to go back to our units.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Advantage: Post#4--Build Team w/Trust

Build Trust: Vulnerability is at the heart of the trust-building the author talks about. A willingness to say “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I goofed.” Giving up pride and ego, as well as being transparent, all in service of the collective team goal are the hallmarks of a healthy team. Vulnerability and creating a “safe place” to be vulnerable starts with the leader.
b.    Master Conflict: Fear of conflict is symptomatic of an unhealthy relationship.  Not feeling safe about speaking up in a meeting, for example, undermines a team. Not speaking up fosters political maneuvering and creates a team that’s not transparent but manipulative and distrustful. When a leadership team refuses to engage in conflict, they just transfer the conflict downstream, with magnified frustration for employees. Holding off giving opinions or disagreeing is a formula for a diseased team or organization. Reinforce healthy conflict and watch trust mount.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Advantage: Post #3-Build a Cohesive Team

Four Disciplines Model: There is a process to building a healthy organization. Several things must be done simultaneously, and then it all has to be maintained on an ongoing basis. Lencioni breaks the process down into four (4) components.

Discipline #1—Build a Cohesive Leadership Team: “A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving a common objective for their organization” (p. 21). Unfortunately, companies don’t invest enough intentional time to develop cohesive teams. But such development is a critical strategic step that is ignored only to the peril of a company’s health and productivity. One key to cohesive teams is sacrifice or collective responsibility—we must be willing to give up budget, personnel, and other hard things for the greater collective good of the team. Not easy, but required for high performance. Lencioni basically recounts the five dysfunctions of a team by laying out the 5 key behaviors of a cohesive team.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Advantage: Post #2--Introduction

An Introduction: Organizational health is all about integrity (consistency) among leadership, strategy, and culture. Healthy organizations are not just smart but also healthy. So, operational competence and excellence must be coupled with a culture of minimal politics, low turnover of key employees, as well as one that has high morale and productivity—in short, the kind of place we would all like to work. In the end, it’s not about being smart but having a positive, productive culture. “Health Begets—and Trumps—Intelligence.” Many companies never tap into the mother lode of their employees, but healthy companies do. The advantages of a healthy company in a competitive and creative market are enormous. The liabilities of unhealthy companies are just as enormous—in a bad way—leading to disengagement [which we know can cut productivity by 30%, according to Gallup].

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Advantage: Post #1--Overview

Overview: Patrick Lencioni has pulled together all his work over the past years into his “magnum opus” and a compressible team leadership theory. Leaning heavily on his previous works—The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting,  Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars—Lencioni knits together a prescription for “why organizational health trumps everything else in business.” To do this, he outlines his Four Disciplines Model: 1) Build a Cohesive Team (build trust, master conflict, achieve commitment, embrace accountability, and focus on results); 2) Create Clarity by answer six clarifying questions (Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What’s not important? Who does what?); 3) Overcommunicate Clarity (reiterate answers to 6 clarifying questions to the team seven times and ensure that everyone knows them); 4) Reinforce Clarity (make it part of the corporate DNA in such human systems like hiring, firing, interviewing and performance management). Lencioni also reviews his intentional structure for highly effective internal corporate communications: Daily check-ins, weekly tactical staff meetings, monthly strategic meetings, and quarterly development offsite meetings. This book is a keeper.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #13--No Magic Bullet

No Magic Bullet: Anyone expecting a secret sauce/magic bullet from this book will be sadly disappointed. Rather, Kellerman makes the following points: The political system is volatile, the world is more global, innovation is steaming along, all swirling about in a world in which leaders are less powerful and followers more so. However, with this opportunity to help the reader, Kellerman gives only a hint as to a prescription for health for the leadership industry. Perhaps she’s setting up her next book. But her conclusion comes in the last anemic paragraph with four recommended changes for the leadership industry: 1) End leader-centric approaches that limit thinking; 2) Avoid situational (industry) focus that’s myopic; 3) Subject the leadership industry to critical analysis and evaluation; 4) Change with the times.  Frankly, she left me wanting more, but then isn’t that the sign of a great book?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #12--Truth

Seeking the Truth. Developing leaders for the common good (not just particular corporate expedience) is what Kellerman holds up to be a worthy goal—one the ancients like Plato and Confucius would agree with. She establishes her criticism by attacking these long held assumptions about leadership development: 1) Leaders are where the action is (situational, insular leadership leads to unilateral focus and dismissal of anyone other than themselves); 2) Financial performance is all that really matters (stock returns do not a great leader make); 3) Leadership must be learned quickly, not slowly over time; 4) Leadership is important but followership is not; and 5) Good leadership is critical and bad leadership is unimportant.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

End of Leadershp: Post #11--Leadership Complete

Leadership Complete. The author notes that Plato and Confucius, the ancients, thought leadership took a lifetime of learning, and yet we send people to one-day, one-week, maybe even one-month courses on how to be an excellent leader and expect immediate transformation. Kellerman also argues that, because leaders have gotten weaker and followers have gotten stronger, we shouldn’t ever forget followership when developing leadership programs. In leadership training, we search for a savior figure—some extraordinary emerging talent who can be taught to become a great leader. It’s a narcissistic pursuit focused on a kind of great-man theory, instead of a servant-leadership model (Greenleaf) focused as much on the follower as on the leader. Kellerman argues that leadership-specific courses, focused on high potentials, and also laser focused on their industry specific matters, have become the stock menu of the big boys—Goldman, GE, and IBM. However, corporate performance in the most recent history—if that is to be at least one major measure of leadership impact—has not been exactly stellar. So, has the leadership development worked? She doubts it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #10-- Leadership Mantra

The Leadership Mantra. Everyone has jumped into the leadership business—Academia (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton); companies (GE, Southwest Airlines, 3M, Proctor and Gamble, Accenture); even nonprofits like the Center for Creative Leadership. All have pitched their collective tents in the leadership campground. Nonetheless, we’ve seen failure after failure in our leaders, in government, industry and nonprofits. Witness the economic meltdown (failure of banks and financial institutions); the dysfunction of a polarized and intractable, ineffective Congress and Senate; and the devaluation of the presidency since Nixon. There’s a singular focus on producing good leaders but nothing about stopping bad ones. And for all the money spent on developing leaders (GE boasts of spending over $1 billion a year), we still see ineffectiveness. The “graduates” of GE leadership like Bob Nardelli at Home Depot, Jim McNerney at Boeing and even Jeff Immelt (Welch’s GE successor), according to Alan Murray (Wall Street Journal), have not fared well. In short, if leadership development is so good, why has it not done better?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #9--Upgrading Followers

Upgrading Followers. During recent decades it would be hard to overstate what has happened to the status of followers. For, as leaders have fallen from hero to buffoon status, the opposite has happened to followers. Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, or Latin America, followers have asserted themselves and made change…big change. The spread of democracy from 1975  (30 democratic nations) to 2005 (119 democratic nations) is staggering. Look at the fall of the Berlin Wall, the upheavals in Russia, North Korea, China, France, and Germany, as well as the Arab Spring and the tectonic changes in the Middle East

Saturday, August 18, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #8--Downgrading Leaders

Downgrading Leaders. In any institution you can think of, leaders have been downgraded. If they were bonds, fewer and fewer people would invest in them. The presidency under Bush, Obama, and whoever comes next has suffered one body blow after another. Incompetence at handling Iraq and Afghanistan, the budget, the debt—take your pick—all have been exposed as botched, again among Republicans and Democrats alike. The Catholic Church has failed its social (and spiritual) contract with its faithful. Occupy Wall Street, General Motors, GE, Congress, and major league sports all have fallen in the eyes of Americans.  Why? It seems that the social contract between followers, who agreed to buckle under if their leaders were honest and hard working, has fallen apart. And until this social contract is repaired, disharmony to the point of revolution seems inevitable.

Friday, August 17, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #7--Technology

Technological Imperatives: Unless you’ve been on Mars for the past decade or so, you know the power of communication. With blogs, Twitter, YouTube and a myriad of evolving media, anyone with a computer and Internet access can break a story and help or hurt a reputation overnight. In fact, stopping the flow of such information is impossible. Just ask the president of Syria, the folks in Egypt, the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, or former VA Senator George Allen. More than a few leaders have taken a fall because someone had a cell phone and a camera handy at the worst or best possible time. “In the twenty-first century, freedom of expression has another definition: freedom to say anything to anyone about anything or anyone, anywhere, at any time, in real time (p.51).” A form of intense transparency has changed how political and corporate leaders have to act, even survive, in this new world order.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #6--Social Contract

Social Contract: Evolutionary leadership holds that tribes (teams) of people do better with a leader than without one. The leader’s job is to hold the balance and control the action. Traditionally, the followers’ role was to follow the leader as long as s/he did the job effectively and ethically. However, Americans (and now many others like Egyptians, Libyans, and others) want a more active say in decision making. They also have access to media 24/7 that exposes their leaders to a new level of scrutiny. Peeling back the fa├žade of leadership has exposed leaders’ “humanity” and inevitable flaws—and such has made for disenfranchisement. The author offers the example of the devolution of the Catholic Church due to the pedophilia rampant among priests. No single circumstance has undermined the Catholic Church’s authority and subjected the Church to the wrath of followers more than this issue. And American politics fares not much better. Less than 50% of eligible voters in fact vote and only a humble 11% are satisfied the “way things are going in the United States at this time.”  This 11% figure has been tracked by Gallup since 1979 and was still accurate in 2011 at the date of the book’s publication.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #5--Leadership Decline

American Leadership Decline: In the 60s and 70s another tectonic shift occurred in America. Assassinations of Jack and Bobby Kennedy as well as Martin Luther King, the enormously unpopular Vietnam War, and the Nixon cover-up scandal all stoked the flames of change and shift in the power status of leadership. By the 70s, politicians’ and corporate leaders’ popularity has precipitously eroded. In 1975, 45% of the population thought that politicians were corrupt. Needless to say over the years, (with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the near meltdown in the US economy, and the evolving financial crisis worldwide) all have added to an atmosphere of distrust of anyone in authority. And yet as the author suggests, the leadership industry ignores this devolution of leadership primacy—in favor of a kind of myopic focus on leaders instead of the emerging influence and power of followers. Like Nero playing the violin as Rome burned?
6.    Technological Imperatives: Unless you’ve been on Mars for the past decade or so, you know the power of communication. With blogs, Twitter, YouTube and a myriad of evolving media, anyone with a computer and Internet access can break a story and help or hurt a reputation overnight. In fact, stopping the flow of such information is impossible. Just ask the president of Syria, the folks in Egypt, the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, or former VA Senator George Allen. More than a few leaders have taken a fall because someone had a cell phone and a camera handy at the worst or best possible time. “In the twenty-first century, freedom of expression has another definition: freedom to say anything to anyone about anything or anyone, anywhere, at any time, in real time (p.51).” A form of intense transparency has changed how political and corporate leaders have to act, even survive, in this new world order.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #4--Revolt

Leadership Revolt: In 1632, John Locke unleashed his theory of private property and reinforced Hobbs’ “social contract” theory, whereby leaders rule only by the consent of the governed. Inherent in Locke’s thinking was that leaders were accountable and removable by followers (the electorate). Finally, it’s believed that when Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he had a copy of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government opened up on his desk. Change spread from England, to France, to America. Indeed the American Revolution marked a huge shift in moving power from the rulers to the people (“We the people….”). The opposition to power—shift from leaders to followers—is found in the writings of Jefferson (The Declaration of Independence), Paine (Common Sense); and Thoreau (Resistance to Civil Government). The world of leadership had truly shifted in a very important way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #3--History

Historical Trajectory: For years, power has ebbed slowly from leaders to followers. From hero worship to praise of the common man. Philosopher Joseph Campbell and famed psychologist Carl Jung write about our thirst for leaders. Historically, we have focused on the hero-leader. Plato, Confucius, and others propagated the great man theory—find an outstanding man (or woman) and educate him (or her). In the Middle Ages, Machiavelli in The Prince upheld the theory of authoritarian rule. Moreover, Thomas Hobbs, who like Machiavelli did not trust the common man, did however suggest a new relationship between leaders and followers. He believed in a “social contract” between the leader and followers in which followers granted absolute authority to leaders for protection from all sorts of enemies—human, economic, et al. Later, Martin Luther’s challenge of the church’s authority created a Great Revolution against the divine right of kings.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #2--Leadership Industry

Leadership Industry: A whole industry has grown up around leadership: MBA programs; Executive Education within the best business schools; consultants and executive coaches. Despite all that, many leaders—political, government, and corporate—are doing miserably. An authority rift between leaders and followers has ousted “dictators,” both political and corporate. Levels of trust between the two are at all-time lows. But there’s a fundamental shift in followers (just look at the Arab Spring movement).  The author talks about 5 different types of followers: Isolates, Bystanders, Participants, Activists, and Diehards—each with a degree of respect or lack of it for leaders.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

End of Leadership: Post# 1

The End of Leadership (Harper Business, 2012) by Barbara Kellerman; reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., August 2012
Overview: Barbara Kellerman, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, gives her own “leadership industry” a kick in the pants. As the power of leaders in the world lessens and followers gain more leverage, MBA programs, professional executive education, private leadership development practitioners, and even vaunted internal industry programs all seem to fall short. Kellerman traces the history of leadership, from Confucius and Plato, to Machiavelli and Hobbs, to Locke and Jefferson, to Goldman and GE. She describes the downgrading of leadership regarding the presidency (whether a Democrat or a Republican), in Congress and among corporate leaders, as well as the decline of power and leadership in social institutions like the Catholic Church. Kellerman argues that the social contract between leaders (expected to be ethical and effective) and followers (becoming more demanding and powerful) has been broken. A well written, reflective treatise on the “leadership industry,” in which Kellerman is surely a key player, this book is bracing but ultimately stimulating, like a cold shower!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Are you one of those leaders everyone runs to for the answers? Are you exhausted at the end of the day from dispensing so much advice? Do you wish your employees would think about and solve their own problems? This book is for you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Happiness: Post #8

Final Words: Positive psychology and its derivative, happiness research, are still the new kids on the block. For many years, researchers studied depression, anxiety, and anger, hoping for insights. Positive psychology, born in 1998, ushered in researchers looking for happiness and positivity and what makes people feel both. Turning psychology on its head has resulted in fascinating studies and findings that we all can benefit from. And Ed Diener and his son Robert have been about this worthy pursuit.

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