Here’s the quote:
There’s an old adage in Hollywood that “directing is 90 percent casting.” Great Directors build a team of people who need little direction and can lead by example themselves.
The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley
Here’s my comment:
Companies need self-starters, who can and do set the good/right/effective example in a multitude of ways. This is who you look for when you are ready to hire your next person.
Why did Tim Sanders write this book? He answers that question in the first chapter: “I want to recruit you, and train you, for the Responsibility Revolution. I want to help you feel good about your company and grow more good within it. I want to help you feel more fulfilled by your job, by helping your company to see the value of giving back to the larger world.” This declaration should come as no surprise to those who have read Sanders’ previous books, Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends (2002) and then The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams (2006). He really does believe that it is possible to link personal goals with business goals while adding value, do so without a great deal of funding, and thereby reduce a company’s “social inefficiency.” This book is best viewed as an operations manual for “infectious revolutionaries,” one in which Sanders explains how to use various “business social” and assessment skills.
Sanders’ use of the words “revolution” and “revolutionary” are not hyperbolic. He wants to help achieve what Clayton Christensen characterizes as “movements punctuated with disruptive innovations that either create new markets or reshape existing markets.” These movements will change, radically, how companies do business. That is certainly true of Aveda, IBM, Interface, Lush, Medtronic, Patagonia, SAS Institute, Timberland, and Whole Foods. These disruptive movements occur in five phases and Sanders devotes a separate chapter to each: First, a major change of circumstances that dramatically impacts how we think about the business landscape, creating in Phase Two a new set of values prior to the arrival of the innovators in Phase Three; then, “as the new values reach a tipping point of mass popularity, the fourth, and most extreme, phase of a business revolution occurs: disruption.”
In Leading the Revolution, Gary Hamel describes it this way: “First, the revolutionaries will take your markets and your customers. Next they’ll take your best employees. Finally, they’ll take your assets. The barbarians are no longer banging on the gates, they are eating off your best china.”
During the final phase, what Sanders calls The New Order, companies develop proficiency in service to new markets, innovators become more sophisticated, and customers become more demanding. “Eventually, surviving companies will satisfy the new market needs and the competition will then turn to who does it best.” The process of natural selection continues as new “infectious revolutionaries” appear, disrupting the terms of engagement in what continues to be a Responsibility Revolution.
Of special interest to me is what Sanders has to say about what he calls the “saver soldier,” a highly motivated individual who leverages work as a platform to help save the world. She or he is convinced that a business can do well by doing good. Sanders examines various saver soldiers, three of whom (e.g. IBM’s Jeff Immelt, Patagonia’s Yvon Choinard, and Aveda’s Horst Rechelbacher) “have stated that they don’t expect to achieve their vision single-handedly; they need foot soldiers to scout, innovate, and execute new ideas.” Sanders identifies and examines “The Six Laws of the Saver Soldier” in Chapter 8 that, together, offer an appropriate belief system for newly enlisted “troops.” For example, The Law of Abundance (#3) essentially asserts that there is always enough to go around. That is, “doing good” and “doing well” are not mutually exclusive.
On the contrary, Sanders insists, they are interdependent. It would be very difficult (if not impossible) to have one without the other. Companies that are actively engaged in the Responsibility Revolution will probably attract the “best and brightest” people and then retain them. What these companies offer will have greater appeal to customers. Most important of all, these companies will make a difference to their society, indeed to their planet, while gaining and then sustaining “an unshakable edge” over their “laggard competitors.” Tim Sanders asks, “If not now, when? If not you, who?”
Meanwhile, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock….
As I began to read this book, I recalled again the comments of Southwest Airlines’ then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, when asked to explain his company’s competitive advantage: “Our people. We take good care of them, they take good care of our customers, and our customers take good care of our shareholders.” Vineet Nayar’s concept of Employers First, Customers Second (EFCS) could be misunderstood to mean that an organization’s customers have secondary importance. In fact, as Nayar explains, customers are the ultimate beneficiaries of EFCS. Kelleher makes the same point in the remarks quoted earlier.
Here’s the challenge for C-level leaders: How to establish and then sustain am employee-centric organization? Nayar write this book in response to that question but I think he has accomplished much more than he may have originally intended. With all due respect to the importance of crating what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as “customer evangelists” in a book that bears that title, I think Nayar is advocating an even more important role for employees’ relations with customers: as co-creators. He advocates “inverting the management pyramid,” beginning with front-line employees, and fulfill aspiration needs, notably the need to give everyone a sense of purpose, to address the need for what Dave and Wendy Ulrich call “the why of work.”
I agree with Nayar that customers should be among those who are centrally involved in an inside-out transformational process by which to adopt, implement, and then strengthen an organization, guided and informed by an open business model such as the one Henry Chesbrough describes in Open Innovation and then Open Business Models. Chesbrough could well have had Nayar’s company, Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL), in mind when observing, “An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor – both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company’s own business model but also in other companies businesses.”
In the fifth and final chapter, Nayar caught me by surprise with the approach he takes. I expected the usual summary of “key takeaways,” reassurances, caveats, call to action, etc. Instead, Nayar explains “what EFCS really is and what it isn’t” as well as what it can and cannot do for the business leader who reads it, and what it can and cannot do for the reader’s organization and associates. Why does he take this approach? Because he acknowledges that, perhaps, it is easier to misunderstand EFCS than it is to understand it. With surgical skill, he corrects five (presumably common) misunderstandings. By taking this approach, Vineet Nayar achieves two very important objectives: he clarifies whatever his reader may have misunderstood, and, he thereby strengthens the preparation of his reader to discuss EFCS with others.
As I heard the story, Ernest Hemingway (1889-1961) was in a bar and got into a loud argument (no news there) that he couldn’t compose a story with only six words. He won with these and, over the subsequent years, claimed it was the best story he ever wrote.
The Hemingway story is an extreme example of one of my favorite types of writing — “flash fiction.” Flash, also known as micro, sudden, short-short, postcard, minute, quick, furious, and skinny, is a type of story that has a limited number of words… definitely under 1,000, but in many cases, under 500.
In one of their books, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip and Dan Heath explain how certain words and phrases have much greater impact than do others. The key is (a) the words selected, (b) how they are presented in combination, and (c) the appeal (especially the emotional appeal) of the situation they evoke.
The Hemingway story has inspired me to attempt to capture in only six words what I think about various business subjects. For example,
DIPLOMACY: Letting others have it your way.
LEADERSHIP: Attracting others to achieve shared dreams.
MANAGEMENT: Efficiently coordinating resource consumption with results.
MARKETING: Creating or increasing demand for whatever.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: Do it. Own it. Improve it.
None has much “stickiness” but that isn’t the point: Working with the word count limitation requires a mental discipline that I (at least) need to summon more often.
Give the exercise a try. Draw up a list of whatever subjects interest you and try to capture what you think about each with only six words.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Tony Schwartz for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.
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Good luck, right?
But here’s the reality: naps are a powerful source of competitive advantage. The recent evidence is overwhelming: naps are not just physically restorative, but also improve perceptual skills, motor skills, reaction time and alertness.
I experienced the power of naps myself when I was writing my new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working. I wrote at home, in the mornings, in three separate, highly focused 90 minute sessions. By the time I finished the last one, I was usually exhausted — physically, mentally and emotionally. I ate lunch and then took a 20 to 30 minute nap on a Barcalounger chair, which I bought just for that purpose.
When I awoke, I felt incredibly rejuvenated. Where I might otherwise have dragged myself through the afternoon, I was able to focus effectively on work other than writing until 7 pm or so, without feeling fatigued.
When Sara Mednick, a former Harvard researcher, gave her subjects a memory challenge, she allowed half of them to take a 60 to 90 minute nap, the nappers dramatically outperformed the non-nappers. In another study, Mednick had subjects practice a visual task at four intervals over the course of a day. Those who took a 30-minute nap after the second session sustained their performance all day long. Those who didn’t nap performed increasingly poorly as the day wore on.
When pilots are given a nap of just 30 minutes on long haul flights, they experience a 16 per cent increase in their reaction time. Nonnapping pilots experience a 34 per cent decrease over the course of the flight. The conclusion is inescapable: the more hours we work continuously, the greater the toll on our performance. To get a sense of how valuable it may be for you to nap, take our brief energy audit.
The best time for a nap is between 1 and 3 pm, when the body most craves a period of sleep. The ideal length for a workplace nap is 30 minutes or less, which assures that you won’t fall into the deeper stages of sleep, and awake with that loopy feeling scientists call “sleep inertia.”
“A nap,” argues Mathew Walker a sleep researcher at Berkeley, “not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness, but at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap.”
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If encouraging employees to take a half hour nap means they can be two or three times as productive over the subsequent three hours late in the day — and far more emotionally resilient — the value is crystal clear. It’s a win-win and a great investment.
The problem is that most corporate cultures remain addicted to the draining ethic of more, bigger, faster. Rest, by this paradigm, is for slackers. Until your employer sees through that myth, consider these tips to take matters into your own hands:
1. Schedule a regular time for your nap — between 1 and 3 p.m. is ideal — to increase the likelihood that you’ll take it.
2. If you have your own office, create a cheeky sign for your door to set expectations others. As in: “Short nap in process to ensure high afternoon productivity.”
3. If you work in a cubicle, see if you can find a quiet space for your nap, even if it means leaving the building and taking your nap on a park bench, at a Starbucks or in a local library.
4. Turn off your technology and set an alarm for 20 or 30 minutes.
5. Close your eyes (obviously) but don’t try too hard to fall asleep. Instead, breathe in through your nose to a count of three, and out through your mouth to a count of six. Even if you don’t fall asleep, this way of breathing will insure you’ll get a rejuvenating rest.
Note: Schwartz is spot-on: “The problem is that most corporate cultures remain addicted to the draining ethic of more, bigger, faster. Rest, by this paradigm, is for slackers.” That’s an idiotic mindset but a durable one nonetheless.
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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 Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.
Tony Schwartz is president and CEO of The Energy Project. He is the author of the June, 2010 HBR article, “The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less” [click here http://hbr.org/2010/06/the-productivity-paradox-how-sony-pictures-gets-more-out-of-people-by-demanding-less/ar/1%5D and co-author, with Catherine McCarthy, of the 2007 HBR article, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” [click here http://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time/ar/1%5D. He is also the author of the new book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs that Energize Great Performance (Free Press, 2010).
Bette Price is a good writer, and a thorough researcher. (She also attends the First Friday Book Synopsis, and has since we began in 1998).
Her earlier book, co-authored with George Ritcheske, was True Leaders: How Exceptional CEOs and Presidents Make a Difference by Building People and Profits. The subtitle says it all: leaders build people as well as profits.
She has spent this most recent chapter of her life paying attention to Gen Y. And when I say “paying attention,” I mean she has delved deeply into this group, learning just what they are like, what they like, what matters to them. A few days ago, Investors Business Daily focused on one of her key findings in the article Gen Y’s Integrity Focus by Steve Watkins. In the article, he quotes extensively from Bette. Here are some key excerpts:
The future of America’s leadership may be better than you think. The up-and-comers rank integrity high among qualities they desire in leaders. Ways companies can benefit from that:
• Appeal to priorities. Dallas-based consulting firm Price Group conducted a recent survey of people age 20 to 30. They had to be in college, graduated or working.
“Trust and integrity permeated through the entire research,” Price told IBD. “Their value profile was almost identical to the ‘true leader’ profile I had done a few years ago.”
• Keep the faith. It’s vital for this younger group to feel trusted. The survey showed that three-fourths made a point of not wanting to be micromanaged, which is a sign of distrust, Price says; 88% strongly said they wanted to work for a supervisor they could trust.
• Win back their confidence. “This generation is the most cynical ever,” said Michael Josephson, president of the institute. That finding backs up the Price Group survey.
• Retain your talent. People turn cynical if they expect leaders to be trustworthy but they turn out not to be. Result? The exit. “If they feel there isn’t trust, they’ll probably leave,” Price said.
• Be honest. One woman told Price that she opted not to interview with a firm when she saw that some information on its Web site contradicted what a recruiter had told her.
“They want to know what reality is and base their decision off that,” Price said. “Integrity is huge.”
• Send a message. Make it clear that your company does things the right way and won’t tolerate cheating or stealing. Show that you’ll fire people if they violate those tenets.
• Set an example. You can’t expect your people to operate with integrity if the leaders don’t. Display the behavior you want others to show.
“The best way to fuel cynicism is to be a false prophet,” Josephson said. “Dishonest companies will generate dishonesty.”
• Open up. Be upfront with your people. Price says one guy in the survey said his boss called him in to discuss a project. All was fine. But when the guy got back to his desk, the boss had sent him an e-mail criticizing him.
The guy thought, “‘How can I trust him when he won’t even say anything to my face?’” Price said.
My comment: integrity really is the coin of the realm. But examples of denial and cutting corners and outright dishonesty abound. It would be nice to have a generation help us all rediscover the centrality of integrity.
Back to Bette Price: When Bette tackles a subject, she genuinely becomes an expert. If you need come help understanding, relating to, and working with Gen Y folks, you might want to tap into Bette’s expertise. Here’s her website.
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Kevin O’Connor, chief executive of FindTheBest.com, a comparison search engine. was a co-founder and former C.E.O. of DoubleClick. To learn more about job candidates during interviews, he says, “I try to keep them off balance.” To read the complete interview and Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
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Bryant: How do you hire? What are you looking for? What questions do you ask?
O’Connor: Hiring is the toughest. After you’ve done it a thousand times, and you hire someone who’s bad, you still realize you don’t have it all figured out.
One of the most useful things I learned from electrical engineering was how you figure out what’s in a black box. You throw something called an impulse function at it, and you can figure out what’s inside the black box by what comes out of the box.
So, people are black boxes. You can ask them a question, and they’ll tell you whatever they think you want to hear. So, you’ve got to throw an impulse function at them. I try to keep them off balance. I try to give them a question that feels like a two-by-four between the eyes.
O’Connor: I’ll start off with, “How smart are you?” People get really uncomfortable. They don’t know what to do, and they don’t know how to answer it. They know it’s kind of a trick, and it flusters them. Or I’ll take a look at something that they did, and I’ll tell them it’s a big mistake and then just see how they react. Do they start crying? Do they get in a terrible rage and argue with you, or do they come back and systematically tell you why you’re wrong, or perhaps agree with you on certain areas? So, I’m looking for that.
Bryant: What do you want to hear in terms of answers to the “smart” question?
O’Connor: Ultimately, we’re looking for what I call smart athletes, people who have raw intelligence. Some of the best people I’ve worked with didn’t go to great schools. It’s not necessarily about what skills they have because the most interesting problems are the ones that nobody’s ever faced before — especially in a start-up, but really any company.
And I really love competitive people. I get nervous when someone has never put themselves in a competitive situation. You go through rough patches, and I don’t want people bailing at the first little bit of water coming on ship. I want people who, when the ship’s almost underwater, they figure out how to save it.
Bryant: What’s a good answer to your question about whether someone is smart?
O’Connor: I’m looking for somebody who is a genius in a certain area. You’re not going to find a guy who’s a genius at everything, but you want someone who’s really, really good at something, and knows it. But they also realize they have shortcomings in other areas, and they say: “Look, I’m just not that smart in that area. I could be smart about it, but it just doesn’t interest me. I just have no experience in it, so I’m not going to lie to you.”
I’ll start asking other questions, like how would you rate yourself, 1 to 10, in this particular area? I had one guy give himself 10s in everything. How could you be a 10? Why did you even go to college? How can you improve in anything?
Bryant: So, are you smart?
Bryant: What kind of smart?
O’Connor: That’s good — flip it on me. I’m really, really good at figuring out tough problems. I am sufficiently smart, but I’m not too smart. So my solutions tend to be simple rather than complex — simple is always better. My emotional quotient, my E.Q., is probably pretty low.
Bryant: Yet, you’re a leader.
O’Connor: I’m not an expert in E.Q., but I think my logic and consistency help a lot more in leadership. I’m not particularly emotional about stuff, but I am passionate. I think emotion is what gets C.E.O.’s in trouble. People need to know what to expect from you. When decisions happen, they’re not surprised — it’s what they would expect from you.
I think leadership starts to crumble when it becomes inconsistent. People don’t know which way the wind’s blowing. What’s the C.E.O. going to decide today? They’d rather him or her consistently be a jerk in a certain area as opposed to being inconsistent. Then they know it’s coming.
Bryant: Are there other two-by-four questions you hit people with?
O’Connor: I try to really scare people, which is unusual because companies are usually trying to sell themselves and tell people what a great place it is to work. I’m trying to scare them so they don’t want to take the next step.
I warn people on the phone. I say it’s going to be long hours. Are you passionate about what you do? I mean, is this something you really want to do? We don’t pay that much. We want people who are more interested in equity. And so, people get very scared. Some people get very excited, and those are the ones we’re looking for. I have guys tell me they’ll camp in my backyard. They’ll do whatever it takes.
Bryant: How else do you scare them?
O’Connor: I tell them they’d better be smart because, if they’re not, they’ll be fired. You can fool me that you’re smart in this interview, but I’ll say that you’re not going to fool me three months from now. If you’re smart and you’re competitive, I guarantee you will love it here.
The other thing I’m looking for is passion. I’m really passionate about technology. Someone’s got to want to do this job. It shouldn’t be a job. You shouldn’t have to work 70 hours a week. People will say, oh, you know, I understand it’s a start-up; we’ll work 70 hours a week. I want you doing it because that’s what you would do.
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To read the complete interview and Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
According to Stan Slap, the material in this book is based on what he and his research associates learned from “10,000 managers from seventy countries, at various levels, in different countries and lines of business. Put them in twenty-person panic rooms for a couple of days where they can say what’s really on their minds and in their hearts. What do you get? Savagely ravaged muffin trays and the absolute truth.” They didn’t bury their hearts in these conference rooms…they bared them. Slap continues: “Amid the intensity of those sessions some statistics clamored noisily for attention.” He then reveals that “an overwhelming number of managers” identified (a) what was most important to them personally and (b) what was under the most pressure for them to change in order “to do their jobs successfully” were the same:
This is the “problem” to which Slap devoted ten years developing what he is certain is the “answer”: creating circumstances in which managers are not only willing and able but indeed eager to make an emotional commitment to what they do, to their associates, and to their organization.
As recent research conducted by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and Towers Perrin clearly indicates, at least 70% of those who comprise a workforce in the U.S. are either passively engaged or actively disengaged. Presumably a significant percentage of them feel like “savagely ravaged muffin trays” because pressures at work to produce “morebetterfastercheaper” have threatened (if not compromised) their devotion to family and/or their personal integrity.
What to do? Slap wrote this book in response to that question. He offers the “Enterprise Leadership Competency Model” but first, those who lead an organization must understand the absolute necessity of creating the highest level of sustaining motivation for its management culture. He notes, “Without emotional commitment from managers a company can’t ever realize the dream of being a self-structuring, self-protective system.” Hence the importance of the Enterprise Leadership Competency Model (ELCM) “that will reliably allow managers to live their values at work without the company having to constantly facilitate the process. A self-sustaining model that is safe and a healthy choice for both the company and the managers.” C-level executives deny their own humanity when preventing other managers to live their values at work. As Slap brilliantly explains, they nourish their own humanity by nourishing others’ and, meanwhile, nourishing their organization’s core values.
Slap is a world-class pragmatist, determined to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why. He also possesses what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as a “built-in, shock-proof crap detector.” The ELCM he recommends is philosophically sound but, more to the point, fully accommodates the realities of an increasingly more challenging competitive environment. It will help this reader to achieve a number of highly-desirable objectives that include these:
1. Drive results of enterprise initiatives
2. Formulate and then execute an appropriate business strategy
3. Promote an enterprise culture of candor and transparency
4. Cause necessary change
5. Attract “top talent”
6. Develop personal accountability enterprise-wide
7. Establish and sustain a “dynamic” workplace
8. Maximize individual and organizational performance
9. Align strategic objectives with managers’ personal values
10. Align rewards with levels of performance (i.e. creation of value”)
Individual and organizational development should occur simultaneously and, in fact, be interdependent and mutually-supportive. Moreover, such development is in fact a combination of never-ending processes. For that reason, Slap organizes and presents information, insights, and recommendations in this book within a multi-dimensional process that is best viewed as a journey. It begins with selecting or recognizing the values that are most important. Next, translate those values in attitude and behavior to create and then sustain what Slap characterizes as a “Better Place.” (He offers a four-step process to define it on Pages 117-142.) Meanwhile, provide the leadership needed “by focusing on what is sure to be most deeply satisfying” to associates and protect the credibility of that leadership when values and vision are under attack, as they are certain to be. (See Pages 99-102.) It is easy enough to identify the “what” of emotionally committed management. Credit Stan Slap with explaining, with rigor and eloquence, the “how” of accomplishing it.