This is a remarkable moment…
There aren’t many such moments. When Walter Cronkite gave his famous Vietnam assessment, on Febraury 27, 1968, it changed the viewpoint of many. He ended with these words:
To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations.
But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
There are many that argue that that was the most important “let’s get honest” moment of them all. From the NPR segment:
When President Lyndon Johnson saw that newscast, he turned to his press secretary, George Christian, and famously said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country.”
I think another such moment occurred yesterday.
The most valuable company in the world is Apple. Tim Cook, the CEO who replaced the late and legendary Steve Jobs, has led the company in ways that have increased its value. But yesterday, he wrote a very personal coming out statement which Bloomberg Businessweek published. Please read the entire statement: Tim Cook Speaks Up. Here are key excerpts:
At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.
For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
The world has changed so much since I was a kid….
When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.
In his article, he observes that there are states where discrimination against people for their sexual orientation is still too alive and well. And he stated:
I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
Later in the day, a reaction from Russia kind of reinforced his point:
Vitaly Milonov, of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg, had this to say: “What could he (Cook) bring us? The Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea? They all have unseemly ties over there … Ban him for life.”
Now and forever, we know that at this moment in history, the CEO of Apple announced the news that he is gay. He has told the world.
The implications are many. But an obvious one is this—maybe we will reach that magic moment when we will all be judged by our competence and abilities, and the “content of our character,” rather that our color, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation, our religion.
Apparently it was a very open secret – that Tim Cook is gay. Now, it is no longer any kind of secret. There are other CEOs who are gay who have not yet revealed that fact. But now, one very prominent one has. This is quite a moment.
Please read Tim Cook’s full article. It is worthy of our full attention.
Karl M. Kapp, Ed.D., CFPIM, CIRM, is a scholar, writer and expert on the convergence of learning, technology and business operations. He is a graduate professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. where he teaches courses in instructional game design and gamification and is the Director of the acclaimed Institute for Interactive Technologies. He is author of six books on the convergence of learning and technology and has authored courses for Lynda.com.
Karl works internationally to help government, corporate and non-profit organizations leverage learning technologies to positively impact productivity and profitability. He provides advice on e-learning design, games and gamification and learning technology to companies and organizations in diverse industries ranging from pharmaceutical, to manufacturing to high-tech. Karl He is a Participant in the National Security Agency Advisory Board (NSAAB) (Emerging Technologies Panel) and sits on several National Science Foundation (NSF) visiting committees. He works frequently with startup companies. He has been called a “Rock Star” of eLearning and is listed among the top gamification experts in the world as it relates to learning and instruction. In 2007, Karl was named one of the Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals as voted by TrainingIndustry, Inc.
Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Katl. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: To what extent is the Fieldbook a sequel to Gamification, a volume in which you, Lucas, and Rich develop in much greater depth core concepts introduced in the previous book? To what extent does Fieldbook break new ground?
Kapp: In comparing the two books, the fieldbook is a sequel in the sense that it provides foundational knowledge that is helpful in developing a game, gamification or a simulation. Certainly someone can pick up the second book and find lots of value but the two together provide the how and why of creating engaging instruction. I think this is the best combination for understanding the most from the topic. The new content and ideas in the second book revolve around the worksheets and steps needed to creation gamified instruction but also provide more in depth and exhaustive case studies. I wanted to provide clear examples of what others had done and show how gamification is already being implemented that it is not something that is unheard of or crazy. The second book provides information on what others have done and provides guidelines for someone to do it themselves and that is my desire. I want people to be able to create engaging instruction using the ideas concepts and worksheets in the book.
Morris: To what extent (if any) are there any unique challenges when creating a fieldbook rather than, let’s say, a straight narrative such as Gamification?
Kapp: Our biggest challenge was deciding how to chunk the information we wanted to present. So we spent a lot of time determining the sequence and order of the table of contents. We all had a great deal of knowledge of our content but thinking of the best way to arrange it among the three co-authors and then thinking how to leverage contributors was a tricky process. We were also challenged to arrange the content in a certain was because we knew that people would be accessing the content in a non-linear fashion (unlike the first book) meanwhile, certain foundational topics needed to be addressed before someone could just jump into “designing a game” for example. In the end, we created sections and felt that a person could turn to the section which was most appropriate for them—no matter what type of learning they were developing or where they were in the process. This approach seemed like a good way to provide the content in a way that could be accessed differently based on the individual needs of the reader.
Morris: In your opinion, how important is it to read Gamification before reading the Fieldbook?
Kapp: If you have no knowledge of games or game elements and little understanding of how games can be crafted for learning then it’s really, really important to read the Gamification book first. You cannot develop or design a game, gamification or a simulation without a good, solid understanding of the key elements of games. But, unfortunately, many people try to do that. So, I think it is highly important to read Gamification before the fieldbook.
Morris: With regard to the writing of Gamification and the Fieldbook, did either pose greater challenges than did the other? Please explain.
Kapp: Not really, although both were different. Gamification was linear and a contained a great deal more academic based content that I worked hard to translate to non-academic readers. The fieldbook did not have much of the theoretical information but had practical tips and techniques that needed to be presented to the reader so they could develop their own interactive learning event. Each book posed it’s own challenge. Although one specific challenge of the second book was to try to be careful not to just re-state what was in the first book. We wanted some overlap but very little. We cut a good deal from the second book as we wrote it to avoid as much overlap as possible. There is still some overlap but where it overlaps, we feel is important information that is worth repeating or needs to be repeated to make sure someone designing the instruction gets it right.
Morris: To what extent did game-based methods and strategies prove beneficial to your collaboration with Lucas and Rich?
Kapp: Ha! Good question. Not sure we really thought of it that way. Of course we had the constraint of time so that’s a game element. We also knew the second book was the next level from foundation to application but as far as consciously approaching the writing of the fieldbook as a gamified event, that was not the case. As we say in the book…you can’t and shouldn’t gamify everything and I guess writing this book was one of the non-examples.
Morris: By what process did you select the contributors (in Sections IV and V) and then decide what the nature and extent of each contribution would be? Or did they make that determination? Please explain. They produced some great stuff.
Kapp: We specifically selected the contributors for their knowledge and experience in a certain area. Again we wanted many voices for the reader to gain a perspective larger than the three of us could provide. We each could have written the contributor chapters but, instead, felt that it was really important to have those voices. For each chapter we provided the contributor with an outline and general instruction but gave them a good bit of latitude in terms of exactly what they decided to write. In some cases, we inserted some materials into the chapters for consistence and to add any additional information we felt was necessary but that was rare due to the knowledge and experience of the contributors. For each contributor, Lucas, Rich or I knew the contributor’s work so we didn’t have any doubt about what the quality would be and we knew they all had rich experience and knowledge of the industry so we were excited to have them share and help expand the thinking in the area of engaging learning through games, gamification and simulations.
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To read alll of Part 2, please click here.
To\ read Part 1, please click here.
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Karl cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Karl’s Website link
Karl’s TEDx Talk link
YouTube Gamification link
“Gamification Myths Debunked: How To Sidestep Failure And Boost Employee Learning” link
“Improve Training: Thinking Like a Game Developer”link
“Gamification of Retail Safety and Loss Prevention Training” link
The Eyes of Madison Bumgarner’s Coach – A Lesson in World-Class Coaching from Dave Righetti, the Coach of the World Series MVP
What does the best coach do?
First, I think the best coach notices what the person being coached is doing right – and what the person is doing wrong.
Which means, the best coach knows what to look for. If the person being coached does things right, then all is well. If the person being coached is not doing these things right, then you’ve got trouble. But it takes a very good coach to see this.
So, the best coach has a very, very attentive eye.
Those thoughts were prompted by one amazing paragraph. In case you have not heard, we’ve just seen the greatest pitching performance in the World series since Sandy Koufax in 1965 – and one of the greatest of all time. Madison Bumgarner pretty much singlehandedly shut down the Kansas City Royals hitters. He notched two wins and one save in the four Giants victories. His E.R.A. — 0.43, for this World Series. His overall World Series E.R.A. is 0.25, the best of all time.
In this article, World Series 2014: Madison Bumgarner Rises to the Moment, and Jaws Drop, author Tyler Kepner talked about how his coach and teammates pretty much left Bumgarner alone, saying nothing to him, asking him nothing, during his final game-saving relief assignment. But, his primary coach, Pitching Coach Dave Righetti, knew what to look for. This is a very trained coaching eye. Here’s the great observation:
After that, Dave Righetti said, he studied the fingers on Bumgarner’s left hand. If he was keeping them on top of the ball, Righetti said, he would not make mistakes. That is where Bumgarner kept them.
Where were the pitcher’s fingers? I don’t know much about that level of observation about pitching prowess. But Righetti does. And as good as Bumgarner is, it took a coach that was his match to help him rise to this level.
This strikes me as a pretty high bar for all coaches, in all arenas. Coaches have to become world class noticers. They know what to look for, and they have to be able to see, and understand, the smallest signals.
Impressive! Impressive pitching, and impressive coaching.
- a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something
- an intention or decision about what one is going to do.”I have no plans to retire”
decide on and arrange in advance
You know the accepted wisdom. Like: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
And, you know that strategic planning is strategic planning – planning your strategy. (Which then has to be followed by execution).
And, you know that you actually have to have a lot of “plans.”
Like…You have to plan your next quarter. You have to plan your budget outlays.
So much to plan!…
But, here is a specific planning session you need to have. You need to be ready with this plan in advance of needing it. And, if you never need it, good for you. But there is a pretty good chance you will need it.
Here it is.
What is your plan when you mess up?
Define “mess up” any way you want to. You make a big mistake. You make a wrong call. You fail to deliver on a promise to a customer.
The list of ways to mess up is pretty long. But, if you do mess up, (and, you probably will at some point. Notice I did not write “What is your plan if you mess up?” I wrote “when“). It’s best to have that plan in place before you need it. If you wait until you mess up to start planning what to do, you will likely be too late to develop a good plan.
Whatever you include in your plan, it needs to include these elements –
“I messed up — We messed up
And I apologize — we apologize.
And here’s how we’re going to make it right.”
So… what is your plan when you mess up?
I’m not “with it” in the current music scene. My satellite radio music stations are set on Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Neil Diamond. My Pandora stations are pretty much all set on instrumental stations. So, if the best known Taylor Swift song crossed my ears, I would not recognize the song or the singer’s voice.
But, it’s pretty tough to miss her face and name. She truly seems omnipresent. And, I think that in the category of Best at Branding, it would be a pretty close contest between Apple and Taylor Swift for the top spot.
I caught a few minutes of her interview last night on David Letterman. Her new album, which has done big, big business in sales, is 1989. In the interview, I learned that she held some secret listening parties. She invited 89 fans to each of her different houses (and to a hotel suite in London), to have dinner, and listen to her soon-to-be-released 1989 album, and generally visit and dance and enjoy the evening. The 89 fans at each party were folks she had never met. Apparently this was a pretty big moment in the lives of these fans!
To say it helped build the buzz about the upcoming album is probably a big understatement.
Here’s the definition of Branding, from BusinessDictionary.com:
The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
What I think I’ve learned is this – it takes “everything” to build a brand. Twitter, blogs, other social media sites. It takes some pretty consistent practices. The branding entity (person; company) is always being watched, and anything that is not in line with the brand expectations is a serious threat to the strength of and the credibility of the brand.
And, I think it takes continual, all-the-time effort to build and maintain and spread the brand.
Taylor Swift seems to have it down. That’s a pretty impressive business head on those young shoulders. I may have to actually check out her music.
As a founder of BrainTrust, a successful organization that trains and develops sales and marketing professionals, Jeff Bloomfield has given a lot of thought to why customers say yes. In Story-Based Selling: Create, Connect, and Close, Bloomfield says it’s really no mystery. People buy from people they trust. They trust people they like, and they like people they connect to with. And he believes that storytelling is the best way for salespeople-and all of us-to immediately connect to a customer’s feelings of trust and liking. He thinks teaching sales professionals to close a deal by presenting their product, probing its mutual benefits, and overcoming the customer’s objections and skepticism, is a waste of time. Instead, he urges them to tell a great story to create a personal connection. Bloomfield calls upon the latest research in neuroscience to explain the process of communication.
The truth is that during the salesperson’s engagement with clients, people quickly base their decisions on how they feel, not the way they think, so trying to persuade someone by first imparting lifeless facts and figures is self-defeating. In fact, this information goes right to an area of the listener’s brain (the left brain neocortex) that drives doubt and skepticism. To make a deal we need to connect with the parts of the customer’s brain that inspire emotions of trust and empathy. By telling a story, we can immediately connect to these good gut feelings and drive away the client’s fear of being sold. Bloomfield tells his own engaging stories while teaching step-by-step techniques of intentional storytelling to create a fast connection with the listener, no matter who is buying or what a person wants to sell.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of Jeff. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Story-Based Selling, a few general questions. Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Bloomfield: Yes. Growing up on a farm, my Papaw was my mentor. He was an amazing storyteller and communicator. Unfortunately, he died of lung cancer when I was entering junior high. Through his example, I learned how to positively influence others through the power of story. I went on to get a degree and work in the field of bio-tech where I was fortunate enough to help launch a therapy for brain cancer. During that time, I poured over neuroscience articles and became absolutely fascinated with two things. One, my Papaw, with just an eight grade education, was a genius. He had an intuitive sense of how the human brain worked well before we had research to back it up.
Secondly, no one that I knew in corporate America really knew, let alone understood neuroscience as it pertains to sales and marketing. If we did, we wouldn’t be communicating with customers the way we do. It was that clear, summer day overlooking the San Francisco bay from my office that I knew I had to do something about the gap in the market. It was at that moment that I knew I would start a company that focused on teaching business professionals the neuroscience behind things like connection, trust and how we make buying decisions.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Bloomfield: I would say that the biggest thing my formal education taught me was the discipline of learning. I’m a fast thinking, day dreaming, idea guy and it’s hard for me to be pinned down to one idea, one subject. The education process taught me how to stay focused on learning one step at a time.
Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you when to work full-time for the first time? Why?
Bloomfield: I know that it’s not just about what you know and it’s not just about who you know…it’s about unique ideas, presented in creative ways that move people emotionally. It doesn’t matter if your selling tires or working in a factory. People are drawn to creative thinkers who can motivate and inspire. I believe all of us have that divine spark but the typical grind of a “job” and the distraction of simply doing task oriented work tends to prevent or at least inhibit that creative expression. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started my own company before I was thirty. I might have been broke for a few more years, but I would have loved every minute of it.
Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.
Bloomfield: This may not be your typical answer but to me Braveheart. Think about it. It’s about leadership, inspiration, motivation, teamwork, having a common goal and banning together to overcome the odds. Nearly every scene is chock full of metaphorical business application. Try watching it again through that lens and see if it doesn’t surprise you. On a lighter note, I highly recommend to all of our sales clients that they watch the movie Tommy Boy. Yes, it’s a bit slapstick and over the top but the sales principles around making a genuine connection, building trust and being an authentic communicator are everywhere in this hilarious comedy.
Morris: From which non-business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.
Bloomfield: Without question the Bible. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Bible is literally written as a book of stories to instruct one on how to live. The principles contained within from how to treat one another, to leadership to mobilizing large groups of people around a common cause of directly applicable to any company. In fact, most, if not all culture problems a company has today can be solved by simply following this timeless instruction book.
Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:
“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”
Bloomfield: This quote is all about “leading from behind.” Great leaders help inspire greatness in others and don’t need or desire the credit for success. It also touches on how leaders who understand this philosophy also learn the most from their team. They know they don’t have all the answers and understand that even if they did, giving the team the answers doesn’t help anyone grow and develop plus it robs the team from the feeling of accomplishment when they feel they’ve contributed.
Morris: From Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”
Bloomfield: Great ideas are often met with stern resistance because they typically force people to change. Whether it’s changing your actual actions or simply your way of thinking, great ideas challenge us. I know I’ve come up with a great idea when my business partner tilts his head slightly to the right and says, “I’m not sure I understand that, let alone if it will work.”
Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”
Bloomfield: This is basically the fulfillment of the ida from the Aiken quote. Once you’ve come up with a radical, crazy idea and you finally force feed it to the public, eventually it will be adopted and become almost passé. Take today’s automobile. To paraphrase Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.” But once they get over the shock of not riding horses anymore and realize just how incredible this new “idea” is, it becomes old hat…yesterday’s news. We are a “what’s next” type of world.
Morris: From Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s odd….’”
Bloomfield: There’s something invigorating and seemingly imprinted on our DNA that causes us to get more enjoyment out of pursuing that which we don’t understand versus what we think we’ve figured out. Eureka is fleeting. It’s a momentary pleasure but inevitably leads us to boredom with the very discovery. It goes right back to my previous comment. “What’s next.”
Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”
Bloomfield: Yes, as human beings, we can certainly be extremely busy without actually being productive. For many of us, we flop into bed after a long day and lay there, staring up at the ceiling and wondering to ourselves, “what did I actually accomplish today?” The hamster and the wheel syndrome. It’s all about prioritizing the right things to work on both personally and professionally.
Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?
Bloomfield: To me, this speaks directly to the importance of teamwork. So many companies have silos these days and unfortunately, those silos don’t have bridges that connect to one another. The company’s that seem to be hitting it out of the park are the ones that understand how to develop processes around decision making that involves the best ideas from the brightest people and allows the accountability of the “team” to force greater and greater communication between stakeholder groups.
Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'” Your response?
Bloomfield: I concur wholeheartedly. In business as well as life, you will make mistakes. Make them strategically and continue to “fail forward.” The greatest lessons in life are learned from the moments we realize we should have turned left instead of right. The key is to realize that mistake within the next mile and course correct. Those are great mistakes. It’s when you make a wrong turn and continue to travel in the incorrect direction due to either blind stupidity or stubbornness that sink companies and careers.
Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?
Bloomfield: For many of us, we became known for our ability to “do” something extremely well. We get promoted through the ranks known for our ability to take action and get things done. Unfortunately, the old adage, “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.” starts to become a leadership habit that many of us fail to recognize and correct. Ultimately, it comes down to fear. Whether it’s fear of losing control, fear of failure, fear of fill in the blank, it still comes down to fear. Great leaders delegate not because they necessarily want to, but because they know they need to.
Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?
Bloomfield: Storytelling is simply in our DNA. Great leaders have an intuitive sense that storytelling influences others more effectively than ordering folks around. Leadership is simply about the ability to influence. The best way to influence is through trust. The quickest way to trust is through building a connection and the easiest way to connect with another human being is through a story. Period. End of “story.”
Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”
Here’s my question: How best to avoid or overcome such resistance?
Bloomfield: People seldom change until the pain of staying where they are becomes greater than the perceived pain of where they have been unwilling to go. This resistance is all about understanding what one can gain should they make the change. That gain has to be perceived as great enough for them to put forth the effort to change or they will not. If you are seventy five pounds overweight and don’t really care, you will never lose weight. However, after your first heart attack, the pain of staying overweight has now become greater than the pain of going to the gym. Hence, you change. It’s the same with any change we are faced with…personally or professionally.
Morris: Looking ahead (let’s say) 3-5 years, what do you think will be the greatest challenge that CEOs will face? Any Advice?
Bloomfield: Maintaining a relational connected culture in an ever increasing transactional social media world. The advice I have is to remember that the next generation of workers is growing up in a very different world than we did, however, that doesn’t make them any different when it comes to the desire for connection. The entire rise of social media was simply born out of our desire to use technology to help us stay better connected. The problem is, without real human interaction and relationships, it will eventually lead to isolation, even if one has 5,000 Facebook friends or 10,000 twitter followers. You must continue to create a culture that fosters and encourages direct human contact. Without it, your workplace will become transactional and your customer base will become even more transactional leading to a death spiral of innovation and commoditization of nearly everything.
To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Jeff cordially invites you to check out the resources at this <a href="https://braintrust101.com/“>website:
Atul Gawande Commends, and Follows, David Allen’s Getting Things Done – Thinking about Essential Business Texts
Here’s an excerpt from Atul Gawande: By The Book. (This is an occasional feature in the New York Times Book Section, with influential authors). It’s in the from of Q & A.
The all-time best self-help book?
You caught me. How did you know I was a self-helper? I don’t think there is a single all-time best self-help book. But I organize my life by David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” Literally. It provides a system for dealing with your email inbox, the pieces of paper accumulating in your bag and all those to-do lists you never get through, and I follow it religiously — which is to say, imperfectly.
So, just recently, I was thinking about the idea of special texts (almost like sacred texts). Books that are not meant to be just read, but followed. Books that have a plan of some sort to put into action. Books that seem to transcend any one discipline.
I spent 20 years preaching. I defined my job as “expository preaching.” (from Wikipedia: Expository Preaching explains what the Bible means by what it says). I now try to do similar work in my book synopses, helping people know the transferable principles from the best business books.
And, occasionally I ask myself, “what are the essential texts?” This is not quite the same as asking which are the best business books, but it is related. Are there books that provide genuine guidelines and formulas? In other words, “do this, and you have a better chance at being successful” books.
I’m working on my list. But, in the last week, I read about the value of two such books. The first, David Allen’s Getting Things Done, from the Gawande endorsement. I agree – every good practice I follow (and, I do not always follow these practices as I should) about organizing my personal and work life either comes from, or is reinforced by, Getting Things Done.
The other book that I was reminded of recently was Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. I know at least two Gazelles Coaches who follow the plan in this book in helping their clients build and grow successful business practices, based on a clear, followable “rhythm” of meetings, and strategy development and implementation.
Neither of these books are in the “profound, deep thoughts” business book category. They are instead, simple. You get their points. You can actually do something with the techniques that they recommend. They are “doable.” That’s what makes them so valuable.
So, I’m thinking about what other books fit into this kind of categorization. Maybe there could be a canon of essential texts for business success. I wonder what other books I will add to this list…
(And, by the way, Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto is a candidate for this list).
You can purchase my synopses of both of these books, and many others, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Each synopsis comes with my multipage handout, and the audio of my synopsis presentations.
I have an important question to ask you (and, to ask me…).
First, let’s acknowledge this – there have been some really big decisions throughout the history of business decisions that have been whoppingly wrong. (And, some that have been whoppingly right!).
Now, here’s the question.
Is it possible that you could be wrong about something?
Even something pretty big – pretty consequential?
I was doing some reflecting on big mistakes made. Everyone seems to acknowledge that it is a good business practice to “fail fast, fail often,” in order to got to the plan/product/strategy that works.
In retrospect, it is not all that hard for a person to say “I was wrong about that” — in retrospect! But, in the midst of a specific moment or initiative, people are very reluctant, it seems, to say “I could be wrong about this.”
So, I’ve come up with a set of phrases. Call these phrases to use when pondering your work endeavors. Call these the “possible” realities. They all start with “You,” but they could just as easily start with “I.” Here they are:
You could be right
You could be wrong
You could be right – for now
You could be wrong – for now
You could be right or wrong – with this team
You could be making the right bet
You could be making the wrong bet
You may no longer be right – tomorrow
You may no longer be wrong – tomorrow
You could be right – and then wrong – and then right again…
So… in other words, getting things right is difficult. Keeping on the right path is equally difficult.
And, admitting that we are wrong, or on the wrong path (and, it is possible to be wrong, or to be on the wrong path) is extremely difficult.
Peter DiGiammarino is a senior executive with 35 years of success leading businesses that target tight public and private markets around the world. In addition to running companies, he serves public, private, private-equity-owned, and venture-capital-backed software and services firms as an adviser and/or board member and has consistently helped them to achieve their full potential to perform and grow. As a leader who has served successful companies in the role of CEO, Peter knows how to develop and lead teams of high-powered, driven professionals. His emphasis is to create and implement plans that are true to the organization’s market, offerings, competence, and purpose. Peter currently serves as Chairman of Compusearch and advises a dozen other organizations as CEO of IntelliVen. He is based in San Francisco, California. He is also adjunct professor in the Organization Development program at the University of San Francisco where the workbook he authored, Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World, is used to teach a course he developed on Organization Analysis and Strategy. His book, Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World, was published by IntelliVen (July 2013).
Here is an excerpt from Part 2. To read all of that interview, please click here.
* * *Morris: When and why did you decide to write Manage to Lead?
DiGiammarino: I have been writing consolidated insights based on lessons learned since undergraduate days. My first work-study job was to draft a procedures manual for the computer center to train new employees and to find ways to be more efficient. As a leader, I learned it was smart to write-up and distribute lessons learned to save others the trouble of learning again what had already been figured out. I stopped far short of writing a book, though, because it seemed that a book was nothing more than a heavy business card written primarily to gratify the ego of its author.
In 2010, American University asked me to organize a class based on what I had learned about developing successful organizations. My Teaching Assistant and I organized volumes of material into the seven truths and developed slides and scripts to cover each in detail. Students eventually suggested that the slides and script be handed out ahead so class time could be spent learning how to put the material to work rather than listening to me tell them what they could have read. Suddenly, it became clear that my content in book-form solves a real problem.
Still, I worried that AU would think I was just trying to make money selling slides in book-form to students who would have no choice but to buy them. When I shared my concern with my eldest daughter, she said: “Come-on Pops! Get over it and just write the darn book!” My wife piled-on saying the content deserved to be more polished and that working on a book would improve the product. Both were right!
At first I wanted to publish the content on a Web site thinking it more accessible to more people. I found that Web sites and blog posts are good for developing, organizing, and storing content but not so accessible to mass audiences who are conditioned to referencing books. After over 100 blog posts, more or less one for each of the slides used to lead 38 hours of classroom content, I organized them into the eight sections of the book.
Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.
DiGiammarino: When I asked friends who authored books what they had learned from the experience, it became clear that an author is a customer of his/her publishing company though most authors think otherwise until they have been through the process. Also, I wanted to target early- and mid-career professionals who are more comfortable with digital content integrated with templates on intelliven.com. I also wanted to easily add and push-out new content as it evolved in a way that reader could access for no additional fee Publishers are not yet geared to support such an approach so I looked for a way to self-publish.
I came upon Inkling, the largest distributor of interactive, digital college textbooks and worked with their content management platform, Habitat and a third party, Innodata, to load the text, work problems, links, and graphics into interactive, digital form. Inkling, Habitat, and Innodata are outstanding to work with as they transform the way academics and professionals share and monetize original content. The Inkling version is accessible from PC, pad, or phone. Other advantages of the interactive version:
o Syncs between devices in real time, regardless of one’s Mac, PC, and mobile device preference.
o Includes self-assessments and work problems which help ensure that material is being actively learned as opposed to being mindlessly skimmed.
o Allows users to record notes in the text itself while reading or in class; notes are easily shared with instructors and classmates and in real-time to support running discussions as desired. Particularly helpful notes can be starred for easy reference later.
o Allows highlighting, search, glossary look-up, private or public annotations, animation, slideshows, puzzles, and social media sharing.
o Links to templates that can be filled out to put content to use as soon as it is learned.
Manage to Lead also had to be available in softcover from Amazon because most readers (unlike college students) are still conditioned to buy and read books in paper form which was accomplished using Amazon’s self-publishing platform known as CreateSpace.
Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?
DiGiammarino: My daughter’s original suggestion was that it be a workbook for students and clients; and that is exactly what it is, just as initially envisioned.
Morris: In your opinion, what are the most significant differences between great leadership and great management?
DiGiammarino: I agree with those that say you manage things and lead people but you also manage things in order to lead people so the two are not so much different when intertwined in great leaders. That ties in with the double meaning of the title of my book. Manage to Lead helps you to
o Manage yourself to do things that every leader ought to do and when you do them you are de facto leading.
o Squeak by in the role of leader even when you do not happen to be a born leader but you are a good manager!
Morris: Can great leadership be managed?
DiGiammarino: Even great leaders can and should be managed: by themselves, by their board, and/or by their team. The very thesis of Manage to Lead is that following the advice there-in helps any person, even a great leader, better serve in the role.
Morris: In your opinion, why do so many organizations have such a difficult time retaining their most valuable employees?
DiGiammarino: It is a badge of honor and a sign of greatness for an organization’s best people to leave in order to take top roles elsewhere. Consider, for example, how Mckinsey spawned future leaders of American Express (Golub) and IBM (Gerstner). GE has also made its stellar reputation grooming top CEOs but keeping only one for itself. As described in Reid Hoffman’s recent book (Alliance), jobs are projects, not life sentences. A career is best thought of as a mosaic of experiences across many organizations. Jim Collins once told me that the most an individual can do in one organization is a tour of about seven years. In my case it was two seven-year stints that necessarily had to end in leaving. It is inevitable that the best will leave. The wise strategy is for leaders to make the most of valuable employees while they have them.
Morris: Opinions are sharply divided about the importance of charisma to effective leadership. What do you think?
DiGiammarino: I have little use for charisma all by itself but it can come in handy. For example:
o When on the brink of disaster, such as when funding levels drop precipitously overnight as in 2008, an organization leader needs to resist temptation to squirrel away behind a closed door to figure out the exact right things to do and, instead, personally stand and deliver in front of the troops a message that compels them to follow.
o People in an organization need to be known, liked, respected, appreciated, and admired by others, especially by the leaders. The CEO does not need to be on a first name basis with every employee but each needs to feel like a person of importance and the leader needs to make sure it happens.
* * *
To read all of Part 2, please click here.
To read Part 1, please click here.
Peter cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
www.intelliven.com(my web site that features a blog of tips and tools for getting organizations on track to fulfill their potential to perform and grow; subscribe to receive 2-3 short posts per month at no cost)
www.skills2lead.com/Leadership-Skills-blog.html (sample vision, mission, values)
www.harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu (HBR: strategy & change)
www.leadership.wharton.upenn.edu (strategy & leading change)
www.wiley.com/nonprofit(management books for non-profits)
www.itulip.com(current assessment of national financial activity)
www.businessbecause.com (international site connecting MBAs and aspiring MBAs with key topics and each other)
www.boardsource.com (for nonprofits)
www.grove.com (graphic tools for strategy, change, et al)
www.balancedscorecard.org (evaluation and measurement)
www.eq.org (emotional intelligence)
www.thevaluescenter.com (cultural transformation/values)
www.mindtools.com(wheel of life, development tools for people and organizations)
www.ceoexchange.com(books and other resources for CEOs)
TWITTER accounts to consider following:
The Hardest Part of Your Job… – And, We are All Great at Avoiding, and Postponing, and Tackling This
It doesn’t matter what your job title, or industry, is. I think every person shares one trait – what I will call the hardest part of your job, no matter what your job is.
It’s a little difficult to describe. Start with this, from Atul Gawande, from The Checklist Manifesto:
Discipline is hard – harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can’t even keep from snacking between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at.
Yes, he is right. Discipline is hard.
Now think about someone you know at work, who has a noticeable flaw. (And, pretty much everyone has a noticeable flaw). Maybe an inattention to detail; maybe some kind of sloppiness; maybe some task that he or she simply does not perform correctly.
Now, think about yourself. In a moment of real honesty, you know, in your heart of hearts, that you should have overcome some specific flaw; and/or gotten much better at a “something.” (OK – make that “flaws” — plural. And, better at “some things” – plural). Whatever this “something” is, you have known this for a long time, a very long time – and yet, you have never gotten better at it.
In other words, you’ve been this way a long, long time. And, you know it. And, you haven’t changed.
The hardest part of your job is overcoming a long-long-term deficiency in how you do what you do.
Though there are books to help, like The Power of Habit, this seems like a bigger, a “deeper” challenge. This requires serious work. Massive levels of attention. Almost super-human effort.
And, if you don’t tackle it, and master it, then you will continue, year after year, decade after decade, to still have the same deficiency.
Overcoming “this” – whatever your “this” is, in your own life and work – is the hardest job facing you. It certainly is for me.
I’ll end with a favorite quote of mine. One that has shown up in more than a few of my blog posts. I really don’t know why I keep coming back to it — I haven’t adequately learned from it. Here’s the quote:
“Seldom do we completely overcome even a single fault, nor do we aim at daily improvement.” – Thomas à Kempis, c. 1420.