Cheryl offers: Late last year, I had the opportunity to travel extensively outside the United States on business to some pretty amazing places. As luck would have it, I also found myself in some amazing places, but not for reasons of beauty, comfort, or safety. It struck me as I struggled with losing my luggage for the whole week I was there, showering in slightly brown water, drinking only bottled water because that was all that was safe, and hotels without any phone or internet access, that I had really started to take a lot of things for granted living in Texas. As I recently read, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, (yes, I know it’s not exactly a business book, but I’m one of those who needs variety) it struck me how lucky we are to live in this country and to have access to an enormous set of daily choices. Tolle discusses the “ego” extensively and the more I read, the more my ego got dinged, dented, and revealed. It’s not always a pleasant experience to meet yourself and yet, I am delighted to have had the opportunity. Each day I have awakened in 2010 in my home in Texas, I find myself reveling in the gratitude for all this state and country have to offer. Remind me of this blog this summer when it’s 102 outside, would you?
I’m preparing my synopsis of The Design of Business for the February First Friday Book Synopsis, and found this quote about Steve Jobs (on the day Jobs introduced the iPad):
Steve Jobs created an organization that placed “insanely great” design at the top of its hierarchy of values, and he gave the green light to spend the resources necessary to make lasting successes of his designers’ innovations.
In The Right Fight, published by Harper Business (February-2010), Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer explain how great leaders use healthy conflict to drive performance, innovation, and value. “What it really takes to lead people and organizations is this: if you want to succeed at an ever-increasing complexity you have to establish clear vision, set strategy, and build alignment. Then you need to systematically orchestrate right fights – and fight them right.”
They identify three major benefits:
1. Right fights lower risk. “Effective systems of checks and balances always depend on vigorous dissent.”
2. Right fights create value. “They live at the heart of innovation, breakthrough, and real change.”
3. Right fights grow better leaders. “They are surest way to develop the leadership skills and strategic thinking necessary for the twenty-first century.
“You can learn to create healthy conflict and positive change by choosing the right fights. Of course, you have to be careful. You’ve probably seen right fights fought wrong that failed to produce [desired] results, and of course wrong fights, even of fought right are worthless.”
The Opposable Mind
Crucial Conversations and
Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O’Toole
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Saj-nicole Joni is an internationally known business strategist and advisor to CEOs and other top executives across the globe. A frequent speaker with a regular Forbes.com column, she has also appeared on numerous television programs and published several articles. She has taught at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Wellesley. Joni is the founder and CEO of the Cambridge International Group. Damon Beyer is a senior executive advisor with Booz and Company and a founding member of the Katzenbach Center for organizational innovation. He is a former partner with McKinsey & Company and has also published several articles in major business journals, including Harvard Business Review.
They invite you to visit these Web sites:
You may also want to check out this pdj:
Here’s the best live blog I found for the new Apple tablet, the iPad:
engadget’s Live from the Apple ‘latest creation’ event
Here is an excerpt from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 12, Verses 14-26. Whatever your religious convictions may be, please set them aside for now and read this passage wholly in terms of its relevance to (a) the structural integrity of a modern organization (solidarity in combination with diversity) and (b) the need to establish and then sustain a culture based on our nation’s motto, e pluribus unum.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it…And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
News item: Avatar is now the greatest money maker in movie history
In the last few days, I saw Avatar, and I read an intriguing article about Harrison Ford.
Avatar is now the all-time money maker for movies. (It is helped by ticket prices at least as high as $13.00 for the 3D experience). The budget for making the movie has still not been revealed, but it is now very clear that it was worth every penny. And many, many of those pennies went into the development of and use of new technology for 3D. I am no movie critic, but here is my take: the story was well-told, though clearly borrowed from other sources. But the 3D – well, it was innovation worth waiting for. It was spectacular. (The book I presented at the January First Friday Book Synopsis, Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t by Kevin Maney, started with the story of the technological innovation developed for Avatar).
The actor who could once carry an entire franchise now has yet another box office bomb in Extraordinary Measures. Richard Rushfield on the downward spiral of Ford’s career.
I have been a Harrison Ford fan (as was everybody for quite a few years), but I have noticed that his box office mojo has definitely been slipping. (Extraordinary Measures, in its opening weekend, was extraordinarily anemic at 8th place, with barely $6 million).
The Rushfield piece reflects at length on the decline of Ford’s popularity, but it boils down to this – he is a one-note actor.
As one-note as Ford’s performances were, audiences seemed never to tire of that note. Until one day, they did.
What is the business lesson? It is that the day will come that if you are still doing things the way you did them yesterday, the audience/customers will disappear. And to avoid that, you simply have to keep innovating. Innovate or fade away. Those are the choices. Cameron is quite an innovator. Ford, not so much.
Rushfield said it directly:
Business seminars could use the Ford implosion as a case study to show the need to remain agile and change with the times.
Watching “Avatar,” I felt sort of the same as when I saw “Star Wars” in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron’s film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his “Titanic” was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.
“Avatar” is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It’s a technical breakthrough.
The rhetorical structure of a manifesto does frames issues (injustices, errors, inhumanities, universal values) within a context, then advocates an action to correct what is wrong, replace what is unacceptable, etc. Authors of manifestos tend to be iconoclasts who exemplify moral as well as intellectual courage. However, rarely are they cynics despite what their impatience with timidity may suggest.
Here are some examples among business books:
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Manifesto: Three Classic Essays on How to Change the World
Ernesto (Che) Guevara, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Rosa Luxemburg
You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
There are other documents, in my opinion, that also serve as manifestos and include By Gracious Powers, the poem written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer just before he was hanged by the Gestapo, as well as The Declaration of Independence, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Throughout human history, heroic women and men have said, in effect, “Here I stand. This is what I believe. And I am prepared to accept whatever the consequences may be of my defiance.” They oppose what is wrong, what is evil, what is for them intolerable.
It is worth noting that, in The Divine Comedy, Dante reserved the last and worst ring in hell for those who, in a moral crisis, preserved their neutrality.
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Asking a series of easily answered questions will help the other person rethink his assumptions and open up possibilities for agreement.
Socrates put the case for using questioning rather than rapid-fire talking neatly: “Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue — to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak,” he said. That’s why we advise managers to give the other person most of the talk time whenever a discussion reaches an impasse.
Let’s get more specific: what kinds of questions should you be asking?
You’ll need different kinds of questions for different stages in the discussion. Here’s a list of six categories of questions for a Socratic Dialogue, compiled by Richard Paul of the Center for Critical Studies:
• Questions that help clarify what the other person means.
• Questions that probe assumptions.
• Questions that look into the rationale, reasons and evidence the other person’s using.
• Questions examining viewpoints and perspectives.
• Questions that probe implications and consequences.
• Questions get to the root of the other person’s questions.
Asking the right questions is only the beginning of the process, however. You also have to listen carefully to the answers. Taking a cue from Socrates, you should listen with your eyes as well as your ears because the other person might be saying a lot with body language. Posture and movement can signal interest, openness and involvement — or their lack. If there’s a disconnect between what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing, the other person’s body language might have more meaning than the words being spoken.
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Kevin Daley is the founder of Communispond Inc., which has taught over 600,000 managers to communicate more effectively and is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. Now the lead executive coach for the company, Daley is the author of Talk Your Way to the Top and Socratic Selling, both published by McGraw-Hill.
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To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In the Marines, ‘riggers’ – the people who pack (i.e. reassemble after use) parachutes for other Marines – have to make at least one jump a month. Who packs their ‘chute’? They do: One of the parachutes that they packed for others to use is chosen at random, and the trigger has to ‘jump it.’ This system helps make sure that no one gets sloppy – after all, ‘the chute you’re packing may be your own.’
“The Romans used a similar technique to make sure that bridges and aqueducts were safe: The person who designed the arches had to stand under each arch while the scaffolding was being removed.”
“If you want your company to last as long as Roman bridges have, ask yourself if everyone is truly responsible for outcomes by these measures – and if you yourself are. Are you performing every task with the concentration and commitment you might if a life [perhaps yours] depended on it?”
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Frances Cole Jones founded Cole Media Management in 1997. She prepares people to stand out from the competition in every interaction—in business and in life, helping countless CEOs, celebrities and public personalities present their best selves on camera and onstage, in boardrooms and in person. She conducts presentation skill seminars and sales trainings for companies nationwide. She also speaks at colleges around the country preparing students for job interviews and their professional futures. Her published books include How to Wow and, more recently, The Wow Factor. both published by Ballantine Books/Random House.
She invites you to visit these Web sites: