As you already know, there are endless uses for quotations. Here are thirteen that caught my eye.
“When you have learned something, that always feels at first as if you’ve lost something.” H.G. Wells
“What the mothers sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.” Henry Ward Beecher
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose one’s self.” Søren Kierkegaard
“Too many people over-value what they are not and under-value what they are.” Malcolm Forbes
“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Albert Einstein
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Always be a beginner at something.” Bill Buxton
“I’m a great believer in luck, and find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson
“Life is about moving, it’s about change. And when things stop doing that, they’re dead.” Twyla Tharp
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki-Foshi
“ I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.” Marshall McLuhan
“If you never allow your children to exceed what they can do, how are they ever going to manage adult life – where a lot of it is managing more than you thought you could manage?” Ellen Galinsky
The problem is simple. Too many employees are not fully developed. In fact, too many employees develop very little after they are hired.
And this is a problem.
So, how does a company do a better job at developing employees? Here is a line from the 2002 book that kind of launched the “Execution” discussion of the last decade, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.
Teach your people – but remember, 80% of learning happens outside of the formal learning situations.
If 80% of learning happens outside of the formal learning situations, does this mean that the formal training, the formal sessions, are a waste of time? Yes – and no.
The formal training sessions are essential to jump-start the conversation, to give the “basics,” to “teach” the principles that need to be worked on. In other words, if the 80% of learning is outside the formal learning situations, you still need the formal session to start the process effectively. It is only a start – but it is an essential start.
But, after the session, the real learning begins. As the employee “works on” this new development area, a manager has to provide feedback, coaching, constructive criticism. It has to be someone’s job to help each employee take the next step.
So, in other words, without the training session, it is a much harder task to demonstrate just what needs to be worked on. But just to “say/present/teach,” even in a well-designed and well-led training session “this is what you need to work on,” without effective follow-up feedback and coaching, then, yes, training sessions can be a waste of time and resources.
In other words, it takes work; ongoing work, a lot of work, and teamwork between employee and managers, to develop the skills and capabilities of employees.
At Creative Communication Network, we have recently experimented with a new “Individual Action Plan,” that each participant completes at the end of each training session. Then, it is up to that employee to share that plan with his/her manager, and together they can tackle the ongoing feedback and coaching needs.
The training sessions alone are good, valuable. But, not enough! We are fully convinced that it is the “next steps” that make all the difference.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Dave Logan for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To read the complete article, check out an abundance of valuable resources, and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
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(MoneyWatch) Innovation is great fun to study, filled with inspiring stories — 3M’s invention of Post-it note glue, Xerox’s development of the graphic user interface or the many stories about Steve Jobs’ last few years at Apple. Equally interesting is the fact that most approaches to innovation backfire, resulting in the entrepreneurial spirit being broken by people who are trying to make it flourish.
Innovation cannot be managed — a lesson China, and most big companies — need to learn. It can, however, be led, and here are [two of] four ways to do just that:
1. Focus on the immediate need, not the long-term problem. Airbnb connects people looking for places to stay to those with floor space, rooms and entire apartments or houses to rent. The company had its first major success in Denver during the Democratic National Conference, when then-Senator Obama received his party’s nomination. More people wanted to be in Denver than Denver had hotel rooms. The stories of Obama supporters opening their homes to other supporters, and Airbnb’s role in making the connections, made international news. After that initial success, web traffic and listings dropped to near zero. Soon after, the company needed cash — immediately. They focused on what they knew — how to get stories in the international press, and also Obama supporters. Airbnb deviated from its core business and introduced Obama O’s cereal, which carried the subtitle “hope in every bowl.” They also introduced Cap’n McCains (“a maverick in every bite”), although Obama O’s was a bigger hit. After printing up boxes and securing cereal, they sent sample boxes to reporters, and the story went global. Orders surged – getting the company the cash it needed. Notice that Airbnb focused on the immediate problem — getting cash – not the long-term problem of not enough business for its core operations.
2. Highlight scarcity. Many people think — erroneously — that innovation results from blue-sky thinking, or people having a lot of free time. The truth is that necessity is the mother of invention, and also of innovation. Said differently, scarcity drives innovation, according to numerous studies. The problem is that many companies wait too long before admitting there’s a problem, not giving innovation enough time to offer solutions. Airbnb illustrates this point — the founders focused on the lack of cash (the scarce resource), and did so in time to do something about it (barely). When caught in time, people will often respond to scarce resources by combining their creativity. Scarce viewers force advertisers to find new ways to reach people, just as wars increase technological innovation, especially on the side facing a disadvantage. The scarcities inherent in sending people the moon famously drove NASA and its contractors to create many technological breakthroughs.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
“Making innovation work quickly is the subject of my personal blog, where you can also download a segment from a course on innovation, based on content from my course in the USC Executive MBA program.”
Dave Logan is a USC faculty member, management consultant, and the best-selling author of four books including Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance. He is also Senior Partner of CultureSync, a management consulting firm, which he co-founded in 1997.
Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity), ThinkPak (A Brainstorming Card Deck), Creative Thinkering (Putting your Imagination to Work), and Cracking Creativity (The Secrets Of Creative Genius). As an officer in the United States Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His international team applied those methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and in doing so it produced a variety of breakthrough ideas and creative solutions to new and old problems. After leaving the military, Michael facilitated CIA think tanks using his creative thinking techniques. Michael later applied these creative-thinking techniques to problems in the corporate world with outstanding successes. Michael has provided keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars on fostering creative thinking for clients who range from Fortune 500 corporations, such as DuPont, Kellogg’s, General Electric, Kodak, Microsoft, Exxon, General Motors, Ford, USA, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Gillette, and Hallmark, to associations and governmental agencies. In addition to his work in the United States, Michael has worked with clients in countries around the world.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing any of your books, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?
Michalko: My mother was my greatest influence because she taught me by example that your life and happiness are determined by what you choose to or refuse to do.
We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, or the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time or conditions of our death. But within all this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we shall live: with purpose or adrift, with joy or with joylessness, with hope or with despair, with humor or with sadness, with a positive outlook or a negative outlook, with pride or with shame, with inspiration or with defeat and with honor or with dishonor. We decide that what makes us significant or insignificant. We decide to be creative or to be indifferent. No matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions are ours to make. We decide. We choose. In the end, the meaning of our own life is decided by what we choose to do or what we refuse to do. And as we decide and choose, so are our destinies formed.
Morris: The great impact on your professional development? How so?
Michalko: While in the military I observed that the more an expert one became in an area of military specialization, the less creative and innovative that person became. The paradox is that people who know more, see less; and the people who know less, see more. Consequently, the majority of the generals had a fixed mindset about what is possible and what is not. The creative and innovative solutions to military problem came from the youngest noncoms and officers who still had open minds.
I discovered the same paradox in civilian life. An example of this is when Apple Computer Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, attempted, without success, to get Atari and Hewlett-Packard interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer. As Steve recounts, “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And their experts laughed and said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.”
It seems that once a person has formed an expectation concerning the subject being observed–this influences future perceptions of the subject. Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., thought the idea of a personal computer absurd, as he said, “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, was ridiculed by every scientist for his revolutionary liquid-fueled rockets. Even the New York Times chimed in with an editorial in 1921 by scientists who claimed that Goddard lacked even the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high school science classes. Pierrre Pachet, a renowned physiology professor and expert, declared, “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
If we experience any strain in imagining a possibility, we quickly conclude it’s impossible. This principle also helps explain why evolutionary change often goes unnoticed by the experts. The greater the commitment of the expert to their established view, the more difficult it is for the expert to do anything more than to continue repeating their established view. It also explains the phenomenon of a beginner who comes up with the breakthrough insight or idea that was overlooked by the experts who worked on the same problem for years.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Michalko: The realization that most educated people have a fixed mindset that encourages robotic thinking and determines a person’s outlook and behavior. Think of the fixed mindset shaped like an upside down funnel. At the wide bottom, there is a wide variety of different experiences. At the top, there is the narrow opening which represents a fixed mindset that superimposes itself on all the experiences. Once people with a fixed mindset have settled on a perspective, they close off all other lines of thought. Whereas, a creative thinker’s mind is shaped like a right side up funnel with the narrow opening over one experience. At the wide top there is a wide variety of different ways to see and think about the one experience. This represents a creative thinker’s growth mindset.
Imagine a mud puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world. I find myself in this hole and I find that it fits me perfectly. In fact, it fits me so well, it must have been made to have me in it. Everything is fine and there is no need for me to worry about changing anything.” Yet every day as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up, the puddle gets smaller and smaller. Yet the puddle frantically hangs on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because the puddle believes the world is what it is and was meant to have him in it. The moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.
People with fixed mindsets are like the mud puddle. They were taught by authority figures that their genes, family, education and environment have determined their destiny, and they, like the atom, just are. Many of them were taught that they are not creative. Consequently, they believe they are a certain kind of person and there is not much they can do to change that. They might be able change some small things but the important part of who they are can’t be changed.
It was this realization that encouraged me to research, write and teach the importance of understanding these cognitive mindsets, how they influence us and how we can easily change the dynamics of a mindset and change the way we think and see things.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Michalko: What I learned from observing and listening to academics in college was their curious tendency to assimilate new information into their pre-existing views. Their mental image of the established view interferes with their perception and understanding of new ideas and concepts. In the case of real life, physicists could not see Einstein’s theory of relativity because of their established, accepted view. For years, they tried to incorporate his view into the established view without success.
Experts always try to assimilate new insights, ideas and concepts into their view. What happens in real life is, despite ambiguous stimuli, people form some sort of tentative hypothesis about what they see. The longer they are exposed to this hypothesis, the greater confidence they develop in this initial and perhaps erroneous impression, so the greater the impact this initial hypothesis has on subsequent perceptions.
Suppose an expert has an established theory about the danger of boxes and their effect on human life and the environment. The theory is that boxes might be harmful and the use of boxes should be regulated. Now, suppose that I leave a box on the floor, and my wife trips on it, falling against my son, who is carrying a carton of eggs, which then fall and break. The expert’s approach to an event like this would be that the best way to prevent the breakage of eggs would be to outlaw leaving boxes on the floor. As silly as this example is, it is analogous to what is happening in the world of global warming. If you survey the history of science, it is apparent that most individuals who have created radical innovations did not do so simply because they knew more than others. One of the most important experiences Noble laureate, Richard Feynman, had in his life was reading a copy of James Watson’s typescript of what was to become his famous book, The Double Helix, about his discovery, together with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA. Feynman had become unproductive and began to believe he had run out of ideas. The discovery Feynman made was that Watson had been involved in making such a fundamental advance in science, and yet he had been completely out of touch with what everybody else in his field was doing.
As told in Watson’s classic memoir, The Double Helix, it was a tale of boundless ambition, impatience with authority and disdain, if not contempt, for received opinion. “A goodly number of scientists,” Watson explained, “are not only narrow-minded and dull but also just stupid.” Feynman wrote one word, in capitals: DISREGARD on his notepad when he read that. This word became his motto. That, he said, was the whole point. That was what he had forgotten, and why he had been making so little progress. The way for thinkers like himself to make a breakthrough was to be ignorant of what everybody else was doing and make their own interpretations and guesses.
So Feynman “stopped trying to keep up with what others were doing and went back to his roots, comparing experiment with theory, making guesses that were all his own.” Thus he became creative again, as he had been when he had just been working things out for himself, before becoming a famous physicist in academia. While this is an important lesson for science, it is a supreme lesson for any discipline where “current knowledge” can be dominated by theories that are simply incoherent.
Make your own interpretations of your experiences to shape your own beliefs and concepts about your world. This is the lesson Feynman called the most important of his life. This is the lesson I learned during my college years.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Michael cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Psychology Today Blog: Creative Thinkering
Facebook Fan Page
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Chris Zook and featured at the Thinkers50 website, an organization whose definitive global ranking of management thinkers is published every two years. The 2009 winner was CK Prahalad. The ranking is based on voting at the Thinkers50 website and input from a team of advisers led by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. The Thinkers50 has ten established criteria by which thinkers are evaluated – originality of ideas; practicality of ideas; presentation style; written communication; loyalty of followers; business sense; international outlook; rigor of research; impact of ideas and the elusive guru factor.
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“Commander’s intent” is a legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is a way that the strategy and priorities of a mission can be stated in a simple, and operational, way so that the field commanders at the front line and the most senior general can have a shared view of what is most important. At its best, a one-page “Commander’s intent” creates a more aligned organization that can respond faster by decentralizing decisions better. The practice is even more important in today’s world of near-instant electronic surveillance and response.
Yet, the typical business organization today, to its peril, is going in the opposite direction:
• Only about two in five people in the typical business say that they have any idea of the strategy and the key management priorities. Yet imagine a marching band where only 40 per cent knew the formation?
• Over half of “yield loss” from strategy targets to results is now attributable to faulty “wiring” as the strategy is driven to action at the front line, not to the high level idea itself.
• Though 80 per cent of executives feel that their core product is highly differentiated in the consumer experience, only 8 per cent of end-users agree – a large delivery gap.
Today, only 9 per cent of companies worldwide have achieved even a modest level of sustained, profitable growth in the past decade (5.5 per cent real growth in revenues and profits while earning the cost of capital) and the percentage has been declining for decades. Sustained growth is getting harder, though few deny that change in the world creates plenty of opportunities for most businesses. What can be done about this?
We recently completed a three year study at Bain & Company which concluded that the growing complexity of companies has become the silent killer of profitable growth – slowing companies down at the same time that markets are moving ever faster.
We examined hundreds of companies to define the design principles of businesses that permit faster response and better ability to adapt to change than their rivals. We called these companies the “Great Repeatable Models.” What we found at their centre was an essential simplicity of concept, and ability to use the hidden power of simplification as a competitive weapon increasing speed and the ability to learn, while controlling the growth of complexity that can accumulate like barnacles, layer after encrusted layer.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
To read my interview of him, please click here.
Chris Zook is a partner at the management consulting firm Bain & Company. He is co-head of Bain’s global strategy practice. The Profit from the Core books offer a blueprint to finding new sources of growth from a core business, based on a three-year study of thousands of companies worldwide. Chris ranked No. 50 in the Thinkers50 in 2007.