Randy Mayeux’s recent “conversion” to an iPad by no means invalidates or even contradicts his previous and passionate support of the bound volume.
The number of electronic reading devices as well as the applications they offer is certain to increase. It seems reasonable to assume that, over time, there will be a corresponding (but not necessarily an inverse proportional) decrease in the sales of bound volumes.
Let us all remember that those who devise breakthrough innovations and disruptive technologies are not playing a zero-sum game.
I agree with Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, (whom I quoted in a post a while ago) that the bound volume should be praised for sustaining a 672-year run of dominant success since Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press with a process that consisted of using separable type, oil-based ink, and a wooden press similar to the agriculturalscrew presses of the period used to crush fruit for wine.
Some people will read only bound volumes.
Some people will only read what an electronic device can display.
Some people will use both.
Randy did not have a conversion; rather, he made an addition to his resources and increased his options.
From my perspective, that’s progress.
“Allah knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed – when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way (and) to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.”
Osama bin Laden, 2004
It was not until I read this passage more than seven years ago that I understood why the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. According to bin Laden, its “twin towers” symbolized all that he blamed for destroying other towers in Lebanon.
The death of bin Laden by no means signals the end of Al-Qaeda. In fact, I fear, it could be viewed – at least by some among them – as another symbol, suggesting another act of retribution.
• Manage your time and your energy, not your work
• Know your priorities
• Do first things first
• Do not multi-task
• Focus on (leverage) strengths, both yours and others’
He then asserts that, above all, it is imperative to “replace the quest for success with the quest for contribution.”
The critical question is not, therefore, “How can you achieve?” but “What can you contribute?”
Some people seem obsessed with “success” and, worse yet, with success measured according to how others determine it. Their obsession with obtaining approval or at least acceptance is unnerving.
Drucker would urge them to focus on (a) what they can contribute and (b) what they must do to contribute even more.
Meanwhile, Oscar Wilde would add, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
I was amazed that the same day that I read about the bombing of the hideout for Osama bin Laden in a novel was the same day that the United States Navy Seals and our intelligence operations actually killed him!
One of my favorite fiction authors is Stuart Woods. His recent best-seller is entitled Strategic Moves (Putnam, 2011). The featured character is Stone Barrington, a playboy-type attorney, who is “of counsel” to a large New York City law firm.
In the book, a foreign arms-dealer and fugitive, Erwin Gelbhardt (Pablo), reveals he knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden at the end of a four-day interrogation which the CIA conducted in Barrington’s home office.
The book notes that the area that Pablo identified became the target of heavy and intense bombing from Unites States forces. However, the book does not provide a conclusion that the attempt killed or captured bin Laden.
Not so on Sunday! It was 10:00 p.m. and I turned on the news to check on the DFW weather. The local news was not on, but an ABC network breaking news story was. And, you know the end of the real story as well as I do.
How many times have you seen fiction turn into reality the same day?
Let’s talk about it soon!
Here is an excerpt from an article co-authored by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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If you listen to executives, they’ll tell you that the resource they lack most is time. Every minute is spent grappling with strategic issues, focusing on cost reduction, devising creative approaches to new markets, beating new competitors. But if you watch them, here’s what you’ll see: They rush from meeting to meeting, check their e-mail constantly, extinguish fire after fire, and make countless phone calls. In short, you’ll see an astonishing amount of fast-moving activity that allows almost no time for reflection.
No doubt, executives are under incredible pressure to perform, and they have far too much to do, even when they work 12-hour days. But the fact is, very few managers use their time as effectively as they could. They think they’re attending to pressing matters, but they’re really just spinning their wheels.
The awareness that unproductive busyness—what we call “active nonaction”—is a hazard for managers is not new. Managers themselves bemoan the problem, and researchers such as Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton have examined it (see “The Smart-Talk Trap,” HBR May–June 1999). [Note: They later developed their insights in a book, The Knowing-Doing Gap, published by Harvard Business School Press in 2000.] But the underlying dynamics of the behavior are less well understood.
For the past ten years, we have studied the behavior of busy managers in nearly a dozen large companies, including Sony, LG Electronics, and Lufthansa. The managers at Lufthansa were especially interesting to us because in the last decade, the company underwent a complete transformation—from teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in the early 1990s to earning a record profit of DM 2.5 billion in 2000, thanks in part to the leadership of its managers. We interviewed and observed some 200 managers at Lufthansa, each of whom was involved in at least one of the 130 projects launched to restore the company’s exalted status as one of Europe’s business icons.
Our findings on managerial behavior should frighten you: Fully 90% of managers squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities. In other words, a mere 10% of managers spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner. This article will help you identify which managers in your organization are making a real difference and which just look or sound busy. Moreover, it will show you how to improve the effectiveness of all your managers—and maybe even your own.
Focus and Energy
Managers are not paid to make the inevitable happen. In most organizations, the ordinary routines of business chug along without much managerial oversight. The job of managers, therefore, is to make the business do more than chug—to move it forward in innovative, surprising ways. After observing scores of managers for many years, we came to the conclusion that managers who take effective action (those who make difficult—even seemingly impossible—things happen) rely on a combination of two traits: focus and energy.
Think of focus as concentrated attention—the ability to zero in on a goal and see the task through to completion. Focused managers aren’t in reactive mode; they choose not to respond immediately to every issue that comes their way or get sidetracked from their goals by distractions like e-mail, meetings, setbacks, and unforeseen demands. Because they have a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish, they carefully weigh their options before selecting a course of action. Moreover, because they commit to only one or two key projects, they can devote their full attention to the projects they believe in.
Consider the steely focus of Thomas Sattelberger, currently Lufthansa’s executive vice president, product and service. In the late 1980s, he was convinced that a corporate university would be an invaluable asset to a company. He believed managers would enroll to learn how to challenge old paradigms and to breathe new life into the company’s operational practices, but his previous employer balked at the idea. After joining Lufthansa, Sattelberger again prepared a detailed business case that carefully aligned the goals of the university with the company’s larger organizational agenda. When he made his proposal to the executive board, he was met with strong skepticism: Many believed Lufthansa would be better served by focusing on cutting costs and improving processes. But he kept at it for another four years, chipping away at the objections. In 1998, Lufthansa School of Business became the first corporate university in Germany—and a change engine for Lufthansa.
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Heike Bruch (email@example.com) is a professor of leadership at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. She is a co-author of with Bernd Vogel of Fully Charged, published by Harvard Business Review Press (2011)
Sumantra Ghoshal is a professor of strategy and international management at the London Business School.
We Get (We Accomplish) What We Meet About – (with reflections on President Obama’s focus on getting Osama Bin Laden)
I’ve been re-looking at Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. I have presented my synopsis of this incredibly practical book a number of times. The book describes, and elaborates on, in user-friendly form, the traits and practices of John Rockefeller. At the center of those practices was the discipline of regular meetings.
I am now ready to boil it down to a phrase. Here’s the phrase:
We get (i.e., we accomplish) what we meet about.
We seldom accomplish what we never meet about.
And here’s what I mean. We are living in a constantly distracting world. We have so many things to do. Because we have so much to do, we do all of that “so much” – but we frequently fail to do the one thing we most need to do.
The Harnish book basically says this: have one priority at a time, and meet about it until it is accomplished — (meetings + execution + debriefing + next meeting + more execution).
We see this everywhere. Do you want to know which company will win the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award? Look at the schedules within the winning companies. They have constant, perpetual, consistent meetings on quality improvement over the long haul – until they genuinely excel at quality.
In the article by John Dickerson on Slate about President Obama’s focus on Bin Laden, Mission Accomplished: How Obama’s focused, hands-on pursuit of Osama Bin Laden paid off, we learn that President Obama gave the directive early in his presidency:
In June 2009, Obama directed his CIA director to “provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice” Osama Bin Laden.
A series of meetings were held in the White House to develop aggressive intelligence gathering operations.
By mid-March the president was chairing the national security meetings on the operation. (In all he would chair five such meetings, including the ones on the day the operation took place.)
You get (you accomplish) what you meet about.
Or, at least, you certainly don’t accomplish what you never meet about. Or, in other words, meetings done well may not guarantee success, but a failure to meet with a clear focus almost guarantees failure.
So, whatever your goal, ask yourself this simple question: is it genuinely your focus? If it is, then you are meeting about it, regularly, with the people who can make it happen – until it is accomplished.
Are you meeting regularly? With a clear focus, “one priority at a time?’ If not, it is probably time to start.