First Friday Book Synopsis

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Joey Reiman: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Reiman, JoeyJoey Reiman is CEO and founder of BrightHouse. Over the past 25 years, Joey has worked with leadership at The Coca-Cola Company, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s and Newell Rubbermaid, and has emerged as one of the nation’s foremost visionaries and leading authorities on thinking and marketing. He is the best-selling author of several books, including Thinking for a Living and, more recently, The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy. He is also a world-renowned speaker who provides listeners with the inspiration and foresight needed to become leaders of the future.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Joey has won more than 500 creative awards in national and international competitions, including the Cannes Film Festival. He also teaches a course on “Ideation” as an adjunct professor of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Joey is a librettist, author, soul man, professor, iconoclast, screenwriter, speaker, and jump roper. He is a father, husband and Famillionaire who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two sons.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of him.

To read all of it, please click here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Thinking for a Living?

Reiman: The world was ad rich and idea poor. I was making some if the best ads on the planet, winning hundreds of awards and having a great time. But something was wrong. I was getting paid to execute my ideas rather than come up with them. The advertising model was always based on media spend. Then the creative was thrown in free. What kind if model is that? I thought, what if I were to be paid for raw but vital ideas. Ideas that as Steve Jobs would later say, “put a dent in the universe.” and what if I sold these idea to visionaries rather than ad directors? I shuttered my multi-million dollar ad agency and built a consultancy with nine of the nest thinkers on the planet. Thinking For A Living tells this story and lays down the tenants of great thinking.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Reiman: Yes, that what I was writing about was truly revolutionary. I remember sitting with the head if one of the largest agency group on earth. After I told him about this idea I had called “ideation” he looked at me as if my cheese had fallen off the cracker. He feels very differently about me today as many of his biggest clients seek BrightHouse counsel.

Morris:
To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Reiman: Writing a book allows you to write new chapters in your own life. While writing Thinking For A Living, I realized that some ideas were indeed bigger than others–the largest being purpose. That insight would set my course and career for the next eighteen years.

Morris: I commend you on your skill with regard to formulation of chapter titles. They evoke questions that alert readers to your key points. For example, how did the most money you “never made” teach how to think for a living? (Chapter 1)

Reiman: In advertising, you win business by presenting great ideas but you are only paid when you execute them. The most money I never made was about winning the Days Inn business with a big idea. Though I won the business, the hotel’s leadership wanted a different agency than mine. They asked if they could buy the idea for a lot of money. But my ego got the best of me and I said no. They acquiesced and I got the account. A year later my CFO told me that we had made about 100k on the account. If I had let them pay just for the idea, my agency would have made a fortune. From that day forward I would have no reservations about a hefty idea fee from another hotel company.

Morris: Here’s another: How did the “scariest experience” of your life teach you “thinking is about a lot more than thought”? (Chapter5)

Reiman: As I lay in a hospital room in Rome, I learned about the power of ideas—that thought had wings. My thinking would lead to my first book SUCCESS.THE ORIGINAL HANDBOOK. In this work, I shared my journey to recovery with 5 tenants that correlated with your five fingers. Br THUMBS up. POINT at to your purpose. Give your MIDDLE FINGER to fear. March FORTH and LITTLE things mean a lot.

Morris: And another: How best to create a “thinking company”? (Chapter 7)

Reiman: Here I outline what it takes to build a more thoughtful company. They say that money talks. But people think. And that’s your real asset. I think the term “human resources” is an obscenity. People are not resources to be used up. We should rename our HR function: HUMAN RESOURCEFULNES

Morris: I agree wholeheartedly with you about “the centrality of creative ideas in modern life and how to nurture and foster and create ones that will revitalize” one’s business, family, and being, “and in the most profound way, our whole society.” To what extent is your book a “road map” for that proces

Reiman: THINKING FOR A LIVING is more a compass. The roadmap would come in my next book, THE STORY OF PURPOSE.

Morris: With all does respect to Archimedes, I agree with Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’” Your own thoughts about all this?

Reiman: With all due respect to Issac Asimov, I believe in celebration of thought. Yes, all eurekas are preceded with a ‘that’s funny” but the elation I feel occurs when I find that the missing thought is so overwhelming that I have to walk away from what I have just discovered.

Morris: You devote Chapter 2 to a discussion of what your characterize as “The Golden Age of Ideas.” When was it and what are its defining characteristics?

Reiman: Machines ran the Industrial Age. The industrious Age of Ideas will be run by our minds.

Morris: However different great thinkers throughout history may be in most respects, they do share certain characteristics in common. You suggest nine. Which of them can almost anyone acquire or develop? Please explain.

Reiman: BIG THINKERS ARE ON FIRE: Find your purpose and you will ignite your passion. Once lit, fan it and your ideas will catch fire. BIG THINKERS NEVER LOSE IN THEIR IMAGINATION: Worry is a form of atheism. Use your faith. BIG THINKERS BET THE FARM: Creativity is the destination but courage is the journey. What’s the worst that can happen if you take a risk? Whatever your answer, its no where near as bad as not taking the risk. BIG THINKERS MARINATE IN THOUGHT: Wonder? Leads to Wonder! Remember in grammar school when you got the points for how you got to the answer rather than the answer. Life till works that way. BIG THINKERS THINK BETTER TOGETHER: No one has ever done something great alone. You need two people in your life—a soul mate for life and a goal mate for business. BIG THINKERS DON’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER: Meet every no with a yes. It’s a bigger word. BIG THINKERS TURN REALITY INTO FANTASY. Imagine the way the world ought to be. Now move there. BIG THINKERS LIVE THEIR LIVES ON PURPOSE. If you have a why, you can deal with any what, who, where or when. BIG THINKERS THINK WITH THEIR HEART: the brain runs everything but the heart runs the brain.

Morris: In your opinion, what has been the single most significant change in workplace culture since Thinking for a Living was first published in 1998? Please explain.

Reiman: Respect for ideas and the people who have them.

Morris: In your opinion, what will be the single most significant change during (let’s say) the next 3-5 years? Please explain.

Reiman: Today’s currency is the idea but tomorrow’s ideas will be the currency.

Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Story of Purpose?

Reiman: I wrote THE STORY OF PURPOSE so that people would never have to work again. Instead of getting a job they could heed their calling. If enough people did this the world would be a lot happier.

Morris: In the Introduction, Phil Kotler refers to “the societal benefit that organizations are capable of delivering when they believe they have a greater responsibility in the world.” For example?

Reiman: When Sony founder, Akio Morita was presented a strategy for his fledgling company, it read “to be the best technology company in Japan.” He changed it to “Japan being the best technology country in the world.” If you want to find your purpose, look beyond yourself.

Morris: Please explain your reference, in the Preface, to “the most exciting time and place in business

Reiman: For the first time in history, business is part of every human endeavor. As the largest sector on the planet business has a responsibility to protect and nurture those living on it.

Morris: In September of 1978, after Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat agreed to several accords during meetings at Camp David, they were asked to explain why they were able to reach those agreements, given the fact that their respective countries had been bitter and bloody enemies for thousands 0f years. Prime Minister Begin replied, “We did what all wise men do. We began at the end.” In my opinion, Prime Minister Begin offers excellent advice to leaders of organizations that need to become purpose-driven. Do you agree?

Reiman: Prime Minister Begin is correct in that to begin in the end is to return to the beginning—both are states of peace. As I like to say, “the fruits are in the roots.”

Morris: Throughout history, organizations (what6ever their size and nature may be) have been “purpose-driven.” For example, to become the largest, most profitable, and dominant in their competitive marketplace, etc. In your opinion, are these self-serving purposes and social responsibility mutually exclusive or, in fact, [begin italics] interdependent [end italics]? Please explain.

Reiman: Bigger is better. Google, Apple, Whole Foods and GE are all big companies with purpose whose leaders also believe that better is bigger.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

Joey invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Joey’s website

BrightHouse homepage

Amazon page

Goizueta faculty page

LinkedIn page

Monday, January 14, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marty Neumeier, The Second Interview (Part 2) by Bob Morris

Neumeier, MartyMarty Neumeier is a designer, writer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His latest book, Metaskills, explores the five essential talents that will drive innovation in the 21st century. His previous series of “whiteboard” books includes The Designful Company, about the role of design in corporate innovation; Zag, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into radical differentiation; and The Brand Gap, considered by many the foundational text for modern brand-building. He has worked closely with innovators at Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to advance their brands and cultures. Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife spend their time in California and southwest France.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my second interview of Marty. To read all of Part 2, please click here.

*     *     *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Metaskills?

Neumeier: I started the book three years ago to explore the future of work. The book I’d just published, The Designful Company, was intended as roadmap for business transformation. The premise was, if you want to innovate, you’ve got to design. Design and design thinking are the processes that result in purposeful innovation. These have to be baked into the culture, not bolted on. Any other kind of innovation is an accident.

In writing that book, and in leading a number of workshops on design thinking, I realized there was a missing component—something like personal mastery. When I asked people to imagine a new organizational structure, for example, or sketch out a new business model, many of them would stare back at me as if to say, “We didn’t learn that in school.”

Morris: You call the book Metaskills. What are metaskills, and why don’t we have them?

Neumeier: Well, we do have them, but in an untutored form. The five talents are feeling, seeing, dreaming, making, and learning. Feeling is about empathy and intuition; seeing is systems thinking; dreaming is applied imagination; making is the process of design; and learning is autodidactics, or learning how to learn. Most of us are born with the makings of these, but traditional education has focused more on tactical skills, many of which are brittle, meaning that they don’t easily transfer from one kind of work to another.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Neumeier: Many, many revelations. What’s wonderful about writing a book is that you really stretch your understanding. For example, I learned that over the course of human evolution the hand was highly instrumental in creating the brain, which in turn helps us to extend our biology with machines. I learned that consciousness is a subjective experience, a kind of magic theatre in which we represent the world to ourselves. I learned how aesthetics operates in real life, and why simplicity and complexity aren’t opposites, but partners. These may seem like philosophical nuances, but when you relate them to the workplace of the future, they become key underpinnings.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Neumeier: I first imagined the book as another volume in my series of “whiteboard overviews.” I was planning to call it The Designful Mind as a follow-up to The Designful Company. It became clear after working through the material, though, that this book had wider implications. So I renamed it The Five Talents, using the human hand as a metaphor. In the writing process I came to believe that Metaskills was a more useful title. I was on the fence until the last minute.

Morris: What are the core components of “The Innovation Mandate”?

Neumeier: The premise of the book is that innovation is no longer an option. I see the world as caught in the messy middle between two paradigms—a dying Industrial Age and a new era that we haven’t yet defined. I think it explains why we have so many huge, hairy problems: epic pollution, global warming, failing schools, political gridlock, persistent recession, and so on. And the reason we can’t get our heads around these problems is that we’re using outdated principles. The models and skills we developed for the Industrial Age are inadequate for this next phase of our evolution.

Our new era is not the Information Age. It’s the Robotic Age. Information is to the Robotic Age as oil was to the Industrial Age. By calling it the Robotic Age I’m hoping to capture the excitement—and the implied mandate—of a future in which humans and machines will blend. It’s already happening in thousands of tiny ways, in artificial intelligence, prosthetics, the industrial Internet, self-driving cars, pervasive computing, an always-on mobile culture. Our increasing use of smart machines suggests that we’ll need higher-level skills if we want to remain human and creative.

Morris: What is a “Robot Curve” and what is its special significance?

Neumeier: The Robot Curve is what I’m calling the constant waterfall of obsolescence and opportunity that’s driven by innovation. At the top of the curve is creative work, which is unique and valuable. As creative work becomes better understood, it turns into skilled work, which is more standardized and slightly less valuable. As creative work becomes better understood, it turns into rote work, which is interchangeable and outsourceable. Finally, rote work becomes robotic work, which can be done more cheaply by machines. The Robot Curve is relentless, so the only way to remain fully human is to keep moving back up the curve where the most creativity is.

Morris: You discuss Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” What is its relevance to the development of metaskills?

Neumeier: Maslow believed that individuals tended to work their way from physiological needs such as air, food, and water, at the bottom of the pyramid, up to self-actualization, including spontaneity and creativity, at the top of the pyramid. He also envisioned the pyramid operating at a societal level. The Industrial Age, it seems to me, brought society to the brink of self-actualization. The Robotic Age has the potential to lift us the rest of the way. The Greeks called it eudaimonia — the joyful fulfillment of one’s potential, or the pursuit of higher-level goals.

Morris: What are the six drivers of change in “the workplace of tomorrow”? How do they differ most significantly from the incumbent drivers?

Neumeier: This comes from the experts at The Institute of the Future. They predict that the workplace of 2020 will be driven by (1) extreme longevity, suggesting we’ll have more jobs in our lifetime; (2) the rise of smart machines, accelerating what I call the Robot Curve; (3) a broad computational infrastructure, populated with sensors and processors to make the world “programmable”; (4) a new media ecology in which people will need design skills to create and communicate; (5) superstructed organizations, meaning that social technologies will spawn both very large and very small business units; and 6) increased global connectedness, calling for increased adaptability and diversity in the workforce.

I think the most significant take-away is that workers in the near future will rely much more on design thinking and creativity. We’re already seeing this in Silicon Valley, and we’ll see it soon in emerging countries like Chile, Brazil, and China, which aren’t saddled with the baggage of the Industrial Age.

Morris: What are the most significant differences between traditional business thinking and design thinking?

Neumeier: Traditional business thinkers make decisions in a two-step process: know and do. They know something—from a case study, a previous company, a past experience—and they do something. Quick and simple. But always too timid. After all, anything you already know is also known by your competitors. There’s no way to innovate using know-and-do thinking.

So design thinkers insert a step in between knowing and doing, called making. Instead of accepting knowledge at face value, they say: “Do we really know what we need to know? What if there’s another way of approaching this opportunity that hasn’t been tried before? So they imagine, prototype, and test new ideas that weren’t on the table before. They start from a position of not knowing and end in a position of knowing. There’s no purposeful innovation without making.

Morris: Which question had you hoped to be asked during this interview – but weren’t – and what is your response to it?

Neumeier: Well, here’s the question I feared you would ask: “Why is an innovation/design/brand consultant talking about evolution, consciousness, and aesthetics?” I can’t give you a logical answer for this. I just had an intuition that it was necessary to paint a bigger picture.

* * *

Marty cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Metaskills book site  

Strategic Pyramid site 

Amazon page

 
 

Thursday, January 10, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joey Reiman: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Reiman, JoeyJoey Reiman is CEO and founder of BrightHouse. Over the past 25 years, Joey has worked with leadership at The Coca-Cola Company, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s and Newell Rubbermaid, and has emerged as one of the nation’s foremost visionaries and leading authorities on thinking and marketing. He is the best-selling author of several books, including Thinking for a Living and, more recently, The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy. He is also a world-renowned speaker who provides listeners with the inspiration and foresight needed to become leaders of the future.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Joey has won more than 500 creative awards in national and international competitions, including the Cannes Film Festival. He also teaches a course on “Ideation” as an adjunct professor of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Joey is a librettist, author, soul man, professor, iconoclast, screenwriter, speaker, and jump roper. He is a father, husband and Famillionaire who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two sons.

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.

*     *     *

Morris: Before discussing Thinking for a Living and then The Story of Purpose (in Part 2), a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Reiman: St. Jude. He is the catholic Saint of the impossible. While in Rome, I was a passenger in a car accident where I was paralyzed. In the hospital, I was inspired by his spirit and recovered 100%. From that moment forward, I would know that nothing is impossible. As movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn once wrote, ” I’m possible.”

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Reiman: The advertising legend, Al Hampel, who made me at 29, the youngest EVP of a billion dollar ad firm. My first big job was to build the Atlanta, Georgia office. I was to spend a year building it up. That was nearly 30 years ago.

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.

Reiman: Yes in 1994, I realized that any gifts I had were being squandered in advertising selling stuff to people. It was easy because people can’t get enough of what they don’t need. I leveled my 200 million dollar ad firm and built BrightHouse, the world’s first ideation consultancy. Our purpose was to think for a living.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Reiman: Brandeis University taught me t think large and to be the best Joey I could be, not someone else.

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?

Reiman: That if we are not in business to improve life, we have no business being in business. Too many organizations are focused on the life of the business versus the business of life.

Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

Reiman:  The best is The King’s Speech as it teaches consultants that they must lead even if their clients are Kings. If you tell your client only what he wants to hear you are not the King’s counselor but a jester.

Morris: From which [begin italics] non- [end italics] business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.

Reiman: The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell as it is [begin italics] the story [end] of every company and leader on a quest to bring a boon to society.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’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.”

Reiman: If all teachers took this as an oath, our civilization would be far ahead of where we are today. Modern education pushes aspirations into our heads rather than pull our dreams out from our hearts.

Morris: Next, from Voltaire: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Reiman: Finding the truth is no less miraculous than discovering the Holy Grail. Though the prize is elusive, the gifts we find along the way are immeasurable. I searched for truth in advertising and could not find it but my journey took me down a path of questioning the basic tenants of business.

Morris: And then, from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Reiman: And then from Mark Twain, ” the two best days are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

Morris: From Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Reiman: BrightHouse enlists over 300 luminaries–subject matter experts– outside the arena of business to solve the problems of business.

Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Reiman: Many business people are classically trained for a world that does not exist. It is not enough to be precise, we must also be passionate. Passionate efficiency is an oxymoron.

Morris: In Tom Davenport’s latest book, 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?

Reiman: Business needs to be capable of more responsible action than it has collectively achieved to date.

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?

Reiman: There are mistakes made because we have not learned to avoid them and then there are mistakes made avoiding them. The former gets us fired. The latter gets us fired up

Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?

Reiman: Too many C-Suite leaders are alpha-male, steely-eyed, autocratic-know-it-alls who have been taught leadership means control. Just the opposite. Purposeful leadership is about guardrails for associates to experiment within rather than guidelines to follow as rules.

Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?

Reiman: Human beings are meaning seeking creatures which is what why story tellers Moses, Jesus and Buddha emerged as the world best storytellers. Our greatest American President was also Washington’s best story teller-Abraham Lincoln.  Every business leader today needs a “once upon a time” if they hope for a “happily ever after.”

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.”

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Joey invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Joey’s website

BrightHouse home page

Joey’s Amazon page

Goizueta faculty page

LinkedIn page

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marty Neumeier, The Second Interview (Part 1) by Bob Morris

Neumeier, MartyMarty Neumeier is a designer, writer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His latest book, Metaskills, explores the five essential talents that will drive innovation in the 21st century. His previous series of “whiteboard” books includes The Designful Company, about the role of design in corporate innovation; Zag, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into radical differentiation; and The Brand Gap, considered by many the foundational text for modern brand-building. He has worked closely with innovators at Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to advance their brands and cultures. Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife spend their time in California and southwest France.

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my second interview of him. To read all of that interview, please click here.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing your latest book, Metaskills (in Part 2), a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Neumeier: My mother and my wife have been hugely influential. They convinced me I could do anything.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Neumeier: I have to credit Dr. Seuss. In the 1950s, he was about the most creative person a six-year-old was likely to encounter. His drawings, rhymes, wordplay, and storytelling were so good they were nearly edible—like stuffing your head with candy. Later on, subversive fare such as comic books and Mad magazine held my attention, and eventually these were replaced by “grownup” stories like those by O. Henry and Ray Bradbury. But Dr. Seuss set the bar for creativity.

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.

Neumeier: Yes, and it came as a surprise. By the time I was seven, I’d already decided to become a “commercial artist.” This may seem unusual at an age when other kids were setting their sights on the fire department, but my mother was trained as a designer, so I knew a little about it. I never strayed from that ambition until I was 55. It was then that I realized that design, in some ways, was too important to be left to designers. In 2003 I started to address a wider audience, writing books, speaking, and leading workshops on brand strategy, design, and innovation.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Neumeier: I had a great Catholic education in English, although other forms of creativity—art, music, theatre—had already been stripped from the curriculum by the 1950s. History, geography, math, and science I found mildly interesting, but they didn’t stick. My teachers considered me an underperforming B student until I got to design school. There I was a wildly inconsistent A-C-F-A-D-A sort of student. I had made the decision to focus on learning instead of grades, even if it meant failure. Which it often did.

Morris: What do you know now about business world that you wish you knew when you when to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Neumeier: That you have to bring your best self to the job. Any job, even one that isn’t your dream job, has something to teach you about collaboration, perseverance, time management, problem solving, or something else.

That’s the first thing. The second thing is that business doesn’t have to be boring. I had the false impression that business skills were set pieces, carved in ivory by previous generations, which had to be copied and used the same way they’d been used forever. Now I know that business skills can be reimagined and personalized, which makes the whole endeavor much more exciting and alive.

Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

Neumeier: I could say The Godfather, but that’s really about old-school business. I learned more from Local Hero, the tale of an unfulfilled CEO discovering the magical possibilities in business. He’s a second-generation oil exec who sends his jaded M&A man to a seaside village in the north of Scotland. His task is to buy the whole community so it can be turned into the “petrochemical capital of the free world.” First, his M&A man is transformed the village, then the CEO is transformed. What the movie underscores for me is that business, at bottom, is a human endeavor, not a balance sheet.

Morris: From which “non-business” book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.

Neumeier: Probably the Sherlock Holmes series, which showed me that specialized mastery could create a huge competitive advantage. He made Scotland Yard look like a herd of clueless zombies. No offense, Inspector Lestrade.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’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.”

Neumeier: That’s good. It’s about the power of leading though collaboration. Lao-Tzu was no slouch.

Morris: Next, from Voltaire: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.” And then, from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Neumeier: The first is about the danger of getting stuck in mental models. Seekers are always in a state of grace, while finders are subject to temptation. For example, there’s some truth to the notion that markets are self-correcting. But it’s a dangerous notion because it absolves us of responsibility. A greedy leader can leverage a half-truth into a mental model that does a great deal of harm. It pays to question leaders and the models they use.

The second quote, which I use all the time in brand workshops, is about the power of having a differentiated mission. We all learn by imitation, but we need to grow beyond the example of others and become more of who we really are. The path to personal success is a journey to yourself. The path to business success is a voyage out into the uncharted waters of the marketplace. In both cases, you can’t be a leader by following a leader.

Morris: From Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Neumeier: This comes close to being a tautology, since a process that created a problem can hardly be the solution to the problem. We have to start at a different point with a different idea, then work from there.

Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Neumeier: It’s worse than useless. It’s a waste of energy and resources. Just walk up and down the aisles of a supermarket and look at all the unhealthy, over-packaged, shrill, me-too products on the shelves. Most of these are creating jobs and modest shareholder returns, but not much social value.

Morris: In Tom Davenport’s latest book, 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?

Neumeier: I’m a great believer in the organizational knowledge that comes from clarity of purpose. When a company has a clear purpose, mission, and vision, employees can make decisions with more confidence and autonomy. You end up with a culture of innovation in which employees can act with reasonable assurance that their efforts will be appreciated and rewarded.

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?

Neumeier: Mistakes are the rungs of invention. Every mistake is a learning experience, so the goal is to make educational mistakes instead of repetitive mistakes. We need to “fail forward.” One of the cul-de-sacs organizations find themselves in is “infectious repetitis,” a downward spiral in which people say “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way.” The question CEOs should ask about failure isn’t “What went wrong?,” but “What did we learn that we didn’t expect to learn?”

Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?

Neumeier: Two reasons, I think. First, leaders are accomplished individuals who find it easier to dictate or micromanage than to suffer failure. Second, they forget that failure is necessary to learning. The problem with micromanaging is that it robs the company of experience, so it creates the need for further micromanaging. Leadership is stronger when it provides direction and support instead of answers.

Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?

Neumeier: A business—or even a country—is a kind of story, with an arc that describes its progress. Every employee or citizen wants to know what’s next, what are we headed, what’s my role? How a leader presents that narrative makes a huge difference. In the post-industrial age, employees are volunteers, not draftees. Each one is looking for fulfillment more than a paycheck.

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To read all of Part 1, please click here.

Marty cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Metaskills book site

Strategic Pyramid site 

Marty’s Amazon page

Friday, January 4, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Top 100 Speeches” throughout United States history

Amerrican Rhetoric

If you click here you can check out “The Top 100 Speeches” at the American Rhetoric website.

Better yet, you can click on any/all of the 100 speeches and read the text.

And even better yet, you can click on any/all of them and download a pdf for your own personal media library.

Here are the “Top 10″:

1, Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have A Dream”
2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Inaugural Address
3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation
5. Barbara Charline Jordan, 1976 DNC Keynote Address
6. Richard Milhous Nixon, “Checkers”
7. Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet”
8. Ronald Wilson Reagan, Shuttle ”Challenger” Disaster Address
9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Houston Ministerial Association Speech
10. Lyndon Baines Johnson, “We Shall Overcome”

I haven’t as yet checked out all of them but already know that most of these ten and the other 90 can also be seen on film. Thank you Google!

While on the subject of great speeches, I also high recommend William Safire’s Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, Updated and Expanded Edition. Amazon now sells a hardbound edition for only $29.70, a 34% discount. For anyone who has a keen interest in great speeches, this would be an outstanding holiday gift. Just a thought….

Thursday, December 20, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 12/10/12)

BOB Banner

I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:

BOOK REVIEWS

Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level
L. David Marquet

The Dawn of Innovation: The First American Industrial Revolution
Charles R. Morris

Selling to China: A Guide to Doing Business in China for Small- and Medium-Sized Companies
Stanley Chao

X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed
Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman

Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History
William Safire

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica

Creating the Strategy: Winning and Keeping Customers in B2B Markets
Rennie Gould

INTERVIEWS

Toby Lester
By Bob Morris

Matthew May
By Guy Kawasaki
Google+

Cynthia A. Montgomery
By Bob Morris

Betty Sue Flowers
By Art Kleiner
strategy+business

Paul Smith
By Bob Morris

COMMENTARIES

“12 Jobs on the Brink: Will They Evolve or Go Extinct?”
Heather Dugan
Salary.com

“Where the Jobs Will (and Won’t) Be In 2013″
Susan Adams
Forbes

“How to Be Assertive While Being Yourself”
Management Tip of the Day
HBR

“The Collected Wisdom of Warren Buffett”
Michael Moritz.

“Where the Jobs Will (and Won’t) Be In 2013″
Susan Adams
Forbes

“How to Capture Your Audience Right Away
Management Tip of the Day
HBR

“Innovate by Looking for Problem Patterns”
Clayton Christensen
HBR

“Have you heard any good paraprosdokians lately?”
BOB

“Always Question Assumptions about Talent”
John Boudreau
Talent Management magazine

“How great leaders inspire action”
Simon Sinek
TED

“Authentic Leadership”
Scott Weiss
A16Z

“Are you willing to invest about 19 minutes to nourish your brain?
Sir Ken Robinson
TED

“My favorite church marquee messages”
BOB

“Bennett & Vivian Levin Honor America’s Heroes On Special ‘Liberty Limited’ Train to Army Navy Game”
Ronnie Polaneczky
Philadelphia Daily News

“Five Secrets to Business Success”
Sir Richard Branson

* * *

To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen up, biz leaders: It’s time to rethink everything

Here is an excerpt from article co-authored by Geoff Colvin that appeared in Fortune magazine. To read the complete article, check out other resources, obtain subscription, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.

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We’re not living in ordinary economic times. Every company needs to determine if its strategy requires an overhaul or just thoughtful tweaks. Here’s how to start.

FORTUNE — Remember when Motorola (MMI) ruled the mobile phone business worldwide? And then Nokia (NOK) did? And then BlackBerry (RIMM) did? And now none of them do? As Fortune headlined a recent BlackBerry article, “What the Hell Happened?”

We all ask the same question about Kodak, monarch of the global photo industry for a century, now bankrupt, while Instagram, a photo-sharing service with a dozen employees, is sold to Facebook (FB) for $1 billion. And while we’re at it, what happened to Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)? To Yahoo (YHOO)?

We’re not living in ordinary economic times. The convulsions of the past five years have left many business people asking the most fundamental questions about their companies: Will our strategy work in this environment? What must we change, and what must we not change? Do we need a new business model?

Reconsidering strategy can turn into a miasma that consumes endless time and yields nothing. Yet the process is manageable. One way to think through your strategy in today’s uncertain environment is to answer three basic questions.

[Here is the first.]

1. What is our core?

A finding that’s consistent across cycles is that the best performing companies keep investing in their core no matter how bad things get. Look at what Dupont (DD) did during the Great Depression. Even as profits plunged, the company resolved to keep funding chemical research — its core — no matter what. Among the results: nylon, neoprene, and other products that brought Dupont billions of dollars over the following decades.

In good times, companies often wander into businesses for which they command no special capability. Then, when a downturn hits, those non-core businesses blow up and have to be axed. Pioneer bailed out of the grindingly competitive flat-screen TV business in the recent recession. Home Depot (HD) shut down its Expo chain of home design centers. Google (GOOG) closed non-core businesses that sold advertising on radio stations and in newspapers.

Excellent companies are certain of their core. Early on in the recession, Brad Smith, CEO of software firm Intuit (INTU), said, “We’re not going to cut innovation. This company for 25 years has been fueled by new product innovation. We’re protecting the innovation pipeline so we come out of this strong.” He would cut elsewhere if necessary, but in the realm of personal and small business finance software, he’s up against mammoth competitors, including Microsoft (MSFT). He cannot afford to fall even a fraction of a generation behind.

Are you sure of your company’s core? If not, you’ve got to do some corporate soul-searching.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Geoff Colvin is senior editor at large at Fortune magazine. A longtime Fortune editor and columnist, he is one of America’s sharpest and most respected commentators on leadership, globalization, wealth creation, and management. As former anchor of Wall Street Week with Fortune on PBS, he spoke each week to the largest audience of any business television program in America. His national bestseller, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else, won the Harold Longman Award as the best business book of 2009. His email address: gcolvin@fortune.com.

Saturday, December 1, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google Discovers (Rediscovers) Soft Skills – These Simply Cannot Be Ignored

(Thanks to Tom Pearce, from iLead, for putting me on to this.   The article actually came out back in Spring, 2011.  But, I suspect, we all have things to learn, to change, and then do).

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Here’s the big mistake.  Companies have bought too fully into the “leave them alone” approach.  But, leaving people alone does not actually bring out the best in people.  People do not do really well without help and encouragement.  Google has now set this “discovery” into policy.

Call this the old “soft skills vs. hard skills” spectrum.  And, I think this approach at Google sort of views it this way – hard skills are assumed, but soft skills have to be constantly attended to…

In Adam Bryant’s Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss (New York Times – a really good article!), we read this:

For much of its 13-year history, particularly the early years, Google has taken a pretty simple approach to management: Leave people alone. Let the engineers do their stuff. If they become stuck, they’ll ask their bosses, whose deep technical expertise propelled them into management in the first place.
But Mr. Bock’s group found that technical expertise — the ability, say, to write computer code in your sleep — ranked dead last among Google’s big eight. What employees valued most were even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.

“Took an interest.”  That’s really it – take an interest.

Consider the Olympics.  Watch the interaction between athletes and coaches.  Do you think these coaches interact, have input, take an interest?  You bet.

What Google did was boil this approach down to eight good “behaviors.”  These are behaviors – things leaders/supervisors/managers actually do!  The New York Times has it in a great graphic, with brief description/elaboration (click here), but here are the eight:

The Eight Good Behaviors

#1 – Be a good coach
#2 – Empower your team and don’t micromanage
#3 – Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
#4 – Don’t be a sissy:  Be productive and results-oriented
#5 – Be a good communicator and listen to your team
#6 – Help your employees with career development
#7 – Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
#8 – Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team

AndThree Pitfalls of Managers

#1 – Have trouble making a transition to the team
#2 – Lack a consistent approach to performance and career development
#3 – Spend too little time managing and communication

So, here’s the takeaway to me.  Managers have to view their team members as people.  Real people.  With human needs, who want to be noticed and treated as human beings.   It reminds me of the great quote from Paul Hawken, quoted in Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner:

“We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional.”  (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken).

Friday, August 10, 2012 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , | Leave a comment

Leapfrogging: A book review by Bob Morris

Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs
Soren Kaplan
Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2012)

The power and value of serendipity on the other side of complexity

As I began to read this book, I was reminded of an observation by Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity this side of complexity but would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” This is what Soren Kaplan has in mind when suggesting that the single most important factor in fostering true game changers in innovation is “the way leaders and organizations handle the discomfort, the disorientation, and the thrill (and pain) of living with uncertainty, finding clarity from ambiguity, and being surprised.” Very few business leaders and their organizations are both willing and able to work heir way through the complexity of what I view as “the fog of innovation” until, finally, there is a business breakthrough.

In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that many change initiatives fail because of cultural resistance that results from what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Kaplan duly acknowledges that leapfrogging – “the process of overcoming limiting mindsets and barriers to create business breakthroughs – is almost never easy. On the contrary, the status quo always has staunch defenders and many of them reside in the C-suite. More often than not, the current status quo is one they created by the same process of transformation to which Kaplan refers. That is, in response to what was then the status quo, they and their associates “delivered exactly what groundbreaking innovations always deliver: something new, something powerfully effective, and – most important – something [begin italics] unexpected [end italics].” Now the target is on their backs. Moreover, the greatest threat the organization now faces is not from a competitor. Rather, it is internal: an obsolete mindset among its leaders who cannot respond effectively to “an age of wrenching change and hyper competition.”

Kaplan inserts real-world examples of business executives in dozens of quite different organizations (e.g. DuPont, Four Seasons, Google, Kimberly-Clark, KIPP, PepsiCo, and Unilever) who struggle – with mixed results – to “harness the power of surprise for business breakthroughs.”  These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye:

o  Breakthroughs Can Come from Anywhere (Pages 17-22)
o  Big Surprises Can Come in Small Doses (41-45)
o  New Mindsets Are the Missing Link (52-54)
o  The LEAPS Model (58)
o  Liberating the Brain Delivers the Big Picture (64-69)
o  “Leapfrogging Tools” (77-79)

Note: Kaplan adds to his reader’s “tool box” with other “tools” on Pages 98-103, 121-125, 150-153, and 176-180.

o  New Insights Come from Pushing Beyond Comfort Zones (87-91)
o  Small Steps Can Lead to Big Things (107-110)
o  External Criticism Is Rooted in Old Assumptions (161-166)
o  Humility Opens Us Up to Seeing Surprise [and Being Surprised] (161-166)
o  The Paradox of Surprise (188-189)

Readers will also appreciate Kaplan’s strategic insertion of “Questions to Consider” sections within – rather than one at the conclusion of — Chapters 1-8 that will facilitate, indeed expedite review of key points and issues later. Moreover, of equal importance, the questions enable the reader to interact with the material by thinking about how best to apply appropriate portions of it within the reader’s own organization.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out three others: Peter Sims’s Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, Jason Jennings’ Think Big, Act Small: How America’s Best Performing Companies Keep the Start-up Spirit Alive, and Paul Schoemaker’s Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confronting the Pain of Innovation

Here is an article written by Michael Schrage and published in Harvard Business Review. To read the complete article, check out all the other resources, sign in or sign up for HBR email alerts, and obtain discount information, please click here.

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Working “out of your comfort zone” is the euphemism; the organizational reality is “working through pain.” Innovation hurts.

Every organization I’ve observed that’s serious about being innovative is filled with people in genuine pain — not just stress or anxiety or deadline pressure, and certainly not discomfort. Pain. This can be the physical strain of consecutive all-nighters to test every meaningful configuration of a website before it goes live, to the emotional pain of subordinating your vision of the innovation to the vicissitudes of customer taste. Ideally, innovators go through pain so their customers and clients won’t have to

The International Association for the Study of Pain Management defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience…” That fairly captures a dominant innovation sensation at world-class innovators. The innovation cultures of Google, Samsung or Steve Jobs’ Apple or Andy Grove’s Intel, for example, make painfully clear that successful innovators have high thresholds for pain. Unpleasant sensory and emotional experiences abound. Yes, there’s also fun and exhilaration. But innovation leadership is less about clichés celebrating creativity, compelling visions or getting the best out of people than successfully helping innovators beat what hurts. Overcoming resistance is not the same as pushing through pain.

That shouldn’t surprise. Confronting pain is integral to most other elite endeavors. World-class athletes and dancers explicitly train for pain even beyond the point of injury. Special Forces operators such as the Navy SEALs are expected to “Embrace the Suck.” Arguably one of the great flaws of formal business and technical education is that inculcating disciplined self-awareness around pain management is neither part of the culture nor the curriculum. But elite innovators, not unlike their athletic counterparts, understand and accept that they will likely hurt themselves and/or their colleagues on the path to innovation excellence. As Joseph Schumpeter of “creative destruction” fame notably observed, “successful innovation requires an act of will, not of intellect.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, is the author of Serious Play and the forthcoming HBR Single Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? To check out his other blog posts, please click here.


Monday, July 23, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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