In Multipliers, written with Greg McKeown, Liz Wiseman juxtaposes two quite different types of persons whom she characterizes as the “Multiplier” and the “Diminisher.” Although she refers to them as leaders, suggesting they have supervisory responsibilities, they could also be direct reports at the management level or workers at the “shop floor” level. Multipliers “extract full capability,” their own as well as others’, and demonstrate five disciplines: Talent Magnet, Liberator, Challenger, Debate Maker, and Investor. Diminishers underutilize talent and resources, their own as well as others, and also demonstrate five disciplines: Empire Builder, Tyrant, Know-It-All, Decision Maker, and Micro Manager. Wiseman devotes a separate chapter to each of the five Multiplier leadership roles and juxtaposes each with its Diminisher counterpart.
As with Jim Collins’ Good to Great and misunderstandings about getting people on and off a “bus,” whether or not to be a “hedgehog” or a “fox,” and keeping a “fly wheel” moving and in the right direction, there are apparently some misunderstandings about “Multipliers” and “Diminishers” in Wiseman’s Multipliers. As indicated in the first paragraph (above), she is quite specific about what she means but given human nature, people will abuse as well as use the two terms. For example, suggesting that a person is either a Multiplier or a Diminisher. That is, of course, rubbish.
In his most recently published book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, Robert Sutton offers clearer distinctions when defining terms. I acknowledge my debt to him when suggesting the following:
1. Good Multipliers increase health, happiness, understanding, productivity, profitability, etc.; Bad Diminishers reduce them.
2. Bad Multipliers increase illness, misery, ignorance, waste, insolvency, etc.; Good Diminishers reduce them.
3. Good Multipliers increase the number of Good Diminishers.
4. Good Diminishers reduce the number of Bad Multipliers.
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Liz Wiseman is president of The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center headquartered in Silicon Valley. She advises senior executives and leads strategy and leadership forums for executive teams worldwide. A former executive at Oracle Corporation, she worked as the Vice President of Oracle University and as the global leader for Human Resource Development for 17 years. Liz is the author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.You are welcome to check out my review of Wiseman’s book.
Tom Butler-Bowdon has only recently received in the United States the attention and appreciation that he so richly deserves. Years ago, he formulated his “50 Classics” concept, based on the idea that “every subject or genre will contain at least 50 books that encapsulate its knowledge and wisdom. By creating a list of those landmark or representative titles, then providing commentaries that note the key points and assess the importance of each work, awareness of these key writings is spread to readers who may not otherwise have known of their existence.” 50 Self-Help Classics was initially released only in Australia in 2001, then in the UK, US and rest of the world in 2003 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 50 Self-Help Classics has been translated into 15 languages. In 2004 it won the US Benjamin Franklin Award, and was a finalist in Foreword Magazine‘s Book of the Year awards. “My second book, 50 Success Classics (2004), covers the landmark works of motivation, prosperity and leadership. Rights have been sold in 13 languages. The third, 50 Spiritual Classics (2005) explores some of the famous writings and authors in personal awakening, and has been translated into 10 languages.” 50 Psychology Classics was released in 2007 and has been translated into 12 languages. All works are available in audio format from Audible.com (see links on homepage), including the most recent titles in the series, 50 Prosperity Classics. His latest book, Never Too Late to Be Great: The Power of Thinking Long, was published by Virgin Books (2012).
In the Introduction to Never Too Late to Be Great, Tom quotes Anthony Robbins: “People overestimate what they can achieve in a year, but underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” The balance of the book is devoted to explaining how and why it is imperative to reject these miscalculations. Here are a few of the quotations that caught my eye:
Warren Buffett: “No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
Jeff Immelt: “The most successful parts of GE are places where leaders have stayed in place a long time…The places where we’ve churned people, like reinsurance, are where you’ll find we failed.”
Tony Mendoza: “I turned full-time to photography at age 33. It takes ten years to get really good at anything, including photography, and so I have ‘til I’m 43 before I need to start worrying.”
Ray Kroc: “People have marveled at the fact that I didn’t start McDonald’s until I was 52 years old, and then I became a success overnight…I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”
Howard Schultz: “Life is a series of near misses. But a lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to.”
Jim Collins: “No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”
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As Tom explains, “In the early 1990s, I was working as an adviser at the New South Wales Cabinet Office in Sydney, writing briefing papers for senior ministers. I took a year off to do further study in the UK, but put aside my political economy textbooks to read a growing pile of motivational and self-help literature. On returning to Australia, I spent some time in the Outback, where the idea came to me of writing about the classic books in the self-help literature. Based in Oxford, UK, I now write full-time, run Butler-Bowdon.com, and do occasional speaking engagements.I have a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and History from the University of Sydney, and a Masters degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.”
A 21st century version of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
In his comments in the “Editor’s Note” section that precedes the Introduction, Warren Bennis acknowledges that he was fascinated by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan’s “gutsy aspiration to integrate an interdisciplinary slew of disciplines as disparate as brain science, linguistics, organizational theory, and complex adaptive systems with a few fundamental laws of human and organization behavior that could lead to palpable and profound change in both domains.” Frankly, I had no idea what to expect when I began to read this book but soon realized that Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan would be focusing on an especially serious challenge that most people face every day: How to develop the ability to “rewrite the future”? That is, “rewrite what people know will happen.” In this brilliant book, they explain how Three Laws of Performance can help their reader to complete a natural shift “from disengaged to proactive, from resigned to inspired, from frustrated to innovative.” Part I (Chapters 1-3) “takes these laws one at a time, and shows how to apply them” and answers the question “Why do people do what they do?; then Part II (Chapters 4 and 5) “looks at leadership in light of the Three Laws” and answers the question “What are the interrelationships between language and occurrence?”; and finally, Part 3 (Chapters 6-8), “is about the personal face of leadership” and answers the question “How does future-based language transform how situations occur to people?”
Note: “What exactly does [the word] occur mean? We mean something beyond perception and descriptive experience. We mean the reality that arises within and from your perspective on the situation. In fact, your perspective is itself part of the way in which the world occurs to you. `How a situation occurs’ includes your view of the past (why things are the way they are) and the future (where all this is going”). Indeed, they assert, “None of us sees how things are. We see how things occur to us.”
Throughout their narrative, Zaffron and Logan urge their reader to keep in mind that the Three Laws of Performance really are laws, not rules, tips, stages, or steps. Each of the three “distinguishes the moving parts at play behind an observable phenomenon. A law is invariable. Whether you believe in gravity or not doesn’t lessen its effect on you.” Nor does any of the three lessen its effect on performance. The challenge is to understand them, to understand how there are interactions and even interdependences between and among them, and most important of all, how to apply them effectively, productively, and consistently.
Bennis and the others have their own reasons for thinking so highly of this book. Here are two of mine. First, Zaffron and Logan’s ideas about “rewriting the future” may at first seem (as Bennis’ suggests) “astonishing” but not after understanding exactly what they mean by it. Specifically, to “rewrite” is to overcome the quite normal tendencies of not seeing and hearing what is but, rather, only what we expect based on past “occurrences”; of protecting and defending what James O’Toole so aptly describes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom;” of encouraging and, if necessary, forcing others to accept our determinations of what is and is not real; and of using descriptive language (i.e. that which accurately depicts the world as it once was or is now) rather than future-based language (also called generative language) to “craft vision, and to eliminate the blinders that are preventing people from seeing possibilities.” In essence, “rewriting the future” involves using future-based language that projects a new future that replaces what conventional thinking predicts, once a process of “blanking the canvas” has been completed. Zaffron and Logan explain that process on Pages 74-81. I also suggest re-reading the discussion of “Rackets” on Pages 45-47.
Another reason why I think so highly of this book is that, in Chapter 6 (“Who or What Is Leading Your Life?”) Zaffron and Logan share some especially interesting insights about “taking on some deep work – the kind of work that needs to be done for us to be leaders in our lives. And we really mean being a leader in all respects of our lives, including at work, in relationships, with family, with community, even with all of society.” As I worked my way through this chapter, much of the material resonated with material in another book that I also highly admire, Alan Watts’s The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. With regard to the subtitle, Watts explains that there is no need for a new religion or a new bible. “We need a new experience — a new feeling of what it is to be `I.’ The lowdown (which is, of course, the secret and profound view) on life is that our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing — with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized. The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.”
This is precisely what Zaffron and Logan have in mind when stressing that each individual must first understand and then be guided and informed by the Three Laws before attempting to transform others. In the final chapter, they urge their readers to take on and then sustain seven commitments that, when made with integrity, will break the “performance barrier” in various conversation, first with one’s self and then with others. For example, commit to creating a new game by declaring that something is important. “That is what you are putting at stake, and it is what you are holding yourself accountable to. When others commit to the [new] game with you, they join you on the field.”
This what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras have in mind when advocating that an organization commit to what they call a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. As they explain in Built to Last, it is “a huge and daunting goal — like a big mountain to climb. It is clear, compelling, and people `get it’ right away. A BHAG serves as a unifying focal point, galvanizing people and creating team spirit as people strive toward a finish line…a BHAG captures the imagination and grabs people in the gut…Indeed, when you combine quiet understanding of the three circles with the audacity of a BHAG, you get a powerful, almost magical mix.”
Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan are world-class pragmatists. They have no illusions or delusions about how difficult the challenges will be for those who make the seven commitments. However, they offer this strong reassurance to their reader: “There are no circumstances in business or in life that you can’t handle with the Three Laws. No matter what hurdles you have to jump, challenges have to face, unfamiliar territory you have to cross, you’re ready for it. Play the game passionately, intensely, and fearlessly. But don’t make it significant. It’s just a game.”
Today, I picked my newspaper up off the lawn and brought it in to my house to read with my coffee. I didn’t have to take my daughter to school because of President’s Day, so I came back inside my house.
From all indications, this ritual is on the road to extinction. Many reports predict that all newspapers will transform to on-line versions where readers can see the content on a PC, mobile device, tablet, cell phone, or other electronic piece. Indeed, some newspapers have already gone that route, in the midst of many others folding.
Many of you may not be old enough to remember the milkman. When I was little, competing dairies would deliver two bottles of milk, ice cream, butter, and other goods directly to your door. Only one service still does that today, Schwann’s, and it has added many other food items and ready-to-eat meals in order to be profitable. If we don’t intervene, the delivery of daily print newspapers will go the way of the milkman.
This does not have to be the case! I am reminded in the now-classic work by Jim Collins, Good-to-Great, where he discusses the Hedgehog Concept. Of the three components, one is ”understanding the denominator that drives your economic engine.” Or in other words, what is it that keeps your lights turned on?
For newspapers, this is not subscriptions. The number of subscribers to daily and weekend newspapers continues to dwindle nationwide. If the denominator were subscribers, print newspapers would be history.
Clearly, the economic factor is advertising. As long as companies are willing to advertise in print editions of papers, we will still have them produced and delivered.
If you love your paper delivered to your door, if you like picking it up off the lawn and taking it with you when you leave in the morning, the key is not to encourage your friends and co-workers to subscribe. Rather, it is to frequent the advertisers who invest in the paper with your business, and further, to let them know that the ad they placed in the paper influenced your buying decision. You can say at Macy’s, “I want to see the dress you advertised in the paper on Sunday,” which reinforces that is how you got there.
The simplest way to reinforce print advertising is to use the coupons that businesses pay for to print, giving you discounts or tw0-for-one purchases. If customers don’t use them, advertisers will stop paying for the newspapers to print them. And, when advertisers stop paying for printing, that will turn out the lights for papers.
Think about that. Do you really want a world where there are no print newspapers? Where everyone stares at a cell phone or tablet on the bus? Where you can’t sneak a peek at a headline and make a mental note to find more about it later? Where you eat cereal with your spoon in one hand and your stylus in the other? Where you have to send a link to a friend instead of clipping an article with a handwritte note and mailing it? Really – do you also appreciate receiving e-Cards?
Not me. I’ve got my coupons from Saturday’s and Sunday’s paper. I’m ready to turn them in this week. I want to support print editions.
The good news is that there are plenty of households that still subscribe to physical newspapers. Many homes on my street, including me, have more than one paper thrown and waiting for them each day. I also take the print edition of the Wall Street Journal. We are not starting from a base of zero.
If enough people want to keep papers printed, we can do that. It is just a decision that enough of us need to make and want to do.
How about you? Let’s talk about it really soon!
Who can we trust? Who can we trust to tell us the truth? Especially, when the truth really matters?
This is not a new concern. And, the sense that more and more people seem to be so untrustworthy may be a false sense. I suspect that if we picked any decade, from any century, thoughtful people would be writing that there seems to be an alarming and society-threatening erosion of ethical standards evident to all.
So, now it is our turn. And, really, what do we do?
This blog post is prompted by the very disturbing exposé on 60 Minutes last night, Deception at Duke.
The story focused on the fraud perpetrated by Dr. Anil Potti at Duke University. This fraud was pulled off right under the nose of “the renowned lab of Dr. Joseph Nevins,” and Dr. Nevins had selected Dr. Potti to mentor.
Dr. Nevins believed in Dr. Potti. He clearly should not have been so trusting.
The story centered on a breakthrough discovery by Dr. Potti that would certainly bring healing to cancer patients. “80%” was the promised rate of cure. But it was all built on a house of lies; outright fraud. From the report;
Pelley: Is it a close call? Or is it abundantly clear that the data were fabricated?
Nevins: Abundantly clear.
But this brief blog post is about the deeper implications: “Are they telling us the truth?” From Enron, to BP, to mortgage lenders to borrowers to Wall Street Banks to big banks to politicians to… we face an era in which the ability to discover whether or not they “are telling us the truth” is the most important skill to develop.
How can we tell if someone is lying to us?
And, there is something of a spectrum to this. There is the outright lie, as in the case of Dr. Potti at the Duke lab. And then there is the overabundance of sloppy reporting, sloppy research, inadequate diagnosis of problems and solutions that is rampant. And some (most) of this is from well-meaning, “honest people” who simply think that know more than they actually do know or can know. And, yet, they announce their findings with such certianty.
I could give a long ist of business studies and books to add to this, like: Jim Collins and his pronouncements in Good to Great. Good to Great came out in 2001. That is eleven short years ago. Of the eleven “great’ exemplar companies, notice these three:
• Circuit City – now bankrupt
• Fannie Mae – now… we’ll, you know their many failures
• Wells Fargo – which just settled as one of the big banks with illegal practices in the foreclosure aftermath of the great 2008 financial crisis
Please do not misunderstand. I am not accusing Jim Collins of being in the same category of Dr. Potti. Dr. Potti lied. Jim Collins was wrong. That is a big difference.
Mr. Collins would argue that, at the time, these were in fact “great” companies. And his follow-up book, How the Mighty Fall, was an attempt to describe how companies can fall from greatness. I like Jim Collins’ books. But when a writer writes with his kind of certainty, and then has to explain where he missed it, maybe there should be a red flag waving saying “don’t trust what this guy says so quickly.”
(In Great by Choice, Apple is an example of a “failed company”; but, as he explains, he was describing the Apple in the years before their greatest triumphs. Here’s the flaw in his reason – their “bad years” may have been so very important to set them up for their insanely great years. So, were they truly a failure? I suspect not).
Back to the Duke story. There is no indication that Dr. Nevins in any way participated in, condoned, or ultimately excused the lies of Dr. Potti. Dr. Nevins was as astonished as the rest of us. In fact, he looked just a little shell-shocked to me in the interview. But, if the man overseeing the work did not catch the fraud, because he wanted to believe the good news, then what chance do the rest of us have in catching the fraud?
This blog post is simply an “I’m thinking about all this” post. Here is one of my thoughts; we live in a data-rich era. Every book, every study, has to have data. Jim Collins is data driven. But there is some indication that one can carefully select data to “agree with” an already reached conclusion. And, when one presents “findings” in such a “this is right, and it can be trusted” format, then when things do not turn out that way… well, trust becomes one of the casualties.
60 Minutes seemed to be asking” “Who can we ask to find out if the data really is trustworthy?” I would like to know the answer to that question.
A friend of mine, a good teacher in a very fine local MBA program, reminds me that this is not a new problem. It has always been with us, it will not go away, and…though he does not say these words, he implies that there is not much we can do about it. Ethical failure almost seems to be the human condition.
“There is not much we can do about it.” Now, that is an observation that can lead to genuine despair.
Mark Miller is a business leader, best-selling author and communicator. He began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, Mark joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, he has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction, and today he serves as the Vice President, Training and Development. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to almost $4 billion. The company now has more than 1,500 restaurants in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
Mark began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Today, almost 400,000 copies of The Secret are in print, and it has been translated into more than 20 languages. Recently, he released The Secret of Teams that outlines some of the key lessons learned from a 20-year study on what makes some teams outperform the rest. His next book, Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life, is set for release in February 2012.
In addition to his writing, Mark loves speaking to leaders. Over the years, he’s traveled extensively around the world teaching for numerous international organizations. His theme is always the same: encouraging and equipping leaders. His topics include leadership, creativity, team building, and more. Mark has an active lifestyle. As a photographer, he enjoys shooting in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach places, including Mount Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and the jungles of Rwanda.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of Mark Miller. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing The Secret and The Secret of Teams, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth?
Miller: My mom. She instilled in me early the idea of working hard to be my best.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development?
Miller: Dan Cathy, the current president of Chick-fil-A was one of my first supervisors. He’s modeled life-long learning for me for over three decades.
Morris: Was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) years ago that set you on the career course that you continue to follow? Please explain.
Miller: Dan has taught me many things over the years, but none had more lasting impact than the idea that your capacity to learn determines your capacity to lead.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education proven invaluable to what you have accomplished thus far?
Miller: My formal education took a non-traditional path. I attended college at night while working on the Chick-fil-A staff. Since that time I’ve had some phenomenal educational experiences – one of the highlights for me was attending the 8-week Advanced Management Program at Harvard,
Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you to work for Chil-fil-A in 1977?
Miller: Everything rises and falls on leadership. Had I known this in 35 years ago, I would have become a student of leadership as a kid.
Morris: In you opinion, what differentiates Chil-fil-A from all other employers for which so many young people now work?
Miller: The success of our brand hinges on the business leader who operates each individual location. We are tireless in our efforts to get the right leader in each location. As a result, the more than 70,000 employees in the restaurants have the chance to work for some amazing leaders.
Morris: Based on your own experience as well as what you have learned from others, how to recognize high-potentials among all the young people whom Chick-fil-A hires?
Miller: It all starts with the point leader in the restaurant, we call them the Operator. We’ve noticed over the years that the best Operators attract the best people. As I said earlier, our success is determined by the local Operator.
Morris: On May 23, 1946, 25-year-old Truett Cathy and his younger brother Ben opened a restaurant called the Dwarf House at 461 South Central Avenue in Hapeville, Georgia, a small town south of Atlanta. With all due respect to what Ray Kroc and Dave Thomas achieved, how do you explain the fact that they have received far more attention as entrepreneurs than Truett Cathy has?
Miller: Truett chose a different path. Because he was not trying to build a big company, he could do things differently: Close on Sundays, all company-owned restaurants, be a privately owned company, etc. The result of these decisions, and others like them, was slower growth. I guess there are fewer news stories on slow and steady growth. A footnote on this point: In 2011 we surpassed $4 billion in sales for the first time and we’re debt-free. Not bad for slow and steady.
Morris: Of all the business books that you have read, from which have you learned the most valuable lessons? Please explain.
Miller: I’ve read more business books than I can count. My goal is to learn something from every one of them. I think I have. With that said, The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker continues to challenge me. It is one of the few business books that I read again and again.
Morris: When did you first meet Ken Blanchard and how did your relationship with him then develop?
Miller: Ken and I met when Chick-fil-A was considering him to speak at one of our events almost 15 years ago. He and I hit it off and the day of my first meeting with him I found myself at his home for lunch meeting his wife, Margie. We’ve worked on several projects over the years – Chick-fil-A projects, numerous book projects and we’ve worked together in the non-profit sector. He’s been a great friend and mentor for me.
Morris: How specifically have you applied his “One Minute” concept in your work at Chick-fil-A??
Miller: We created curriculum for our restaurants around Ken’s book, Leadership and the One Minute Manger. Some of our Operators say it is the best thing we’ve ever done for them. We’ve also had Ken conduct his Situational Leadership II workshop for our Operators and corporate staff.
Morris: Has it also proven helpful in personal situations? Please explain.
Miller: Ken’s ideas are powerful! He has an uncanny gift for making the complicated easy to understand and apply. So, once you get Situational Leadership, or any of his other ideas, you can apply them at home, or school, or church, or work. The ideas he tends to write about have a broad, if not universal application. That’s one reason he’s been so successful.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Mark cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites.
“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker
I selected this observation by Drucker (1963) because it continues to suggest caution when deciding what to do, how and when to do it, etc. Michael Porter also offers a helpful reminder: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” This is especially true of those who are either planning to launch a start-up or have only recently done so. Given the number of Four and Five Star reviews of this book featured by Amazon as of this moment (136 of a total of 153), Eric Ries has clearly attracted and rewarded the attention of those who share his determination to “improve the success rate of new innovative products worldwide.” He offers a method by which to achieve that objective, based on five separate but interdependent principles best revealed within the book’s narrative, in context.
Ries suggests two primary reasons for the failure of most startups. One is trusting indicators of likely success that are either inappropriate or unreliable such as a good business plan, a solid strategy, and thorough market research. A startup is by nature and unknown quantity, Ries points out, as are its prospects. Also, many entrepreneurs and their investors become impatient, then frustrated, and abandon traditional management practices. I agree with him that all startups must be managed and only those that are managed well have a chance to survive. It is also important to keep in mind that, at one time, each of the “Fortune 500” was a startup, launched by one or more entrepreneurs who would not be denied.
Credit Ries with pursuing what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras characterize in Built to Last as a Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG: To provide “a new discipline for entrepreneurial management” that takes into full account “the chaos and uncertainty that startups must face…I believe that entrepreneurship requires a managerial discipline to harness the entrepreneurial opportunity we have been given.” Here’s the BHAG: “change the entire ecosystem of entrepreneurship.”
The Lean Startup movement’s size and impact seem to be rapidly increasing as entrepreneurs worldwide embrace the tenets of a manufacturing revolution that Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo are credited with developing at Toyota. These tenets by no means preclude traditional functions such as vision and concept, product development, marketing and sales, etc. Rather, what Ries advocates (if I understand him correctly) is a new way of looking at the development of innovative new products by accepting a new way of looking at the management process by which that will be accomplished.
As I re-read this book, I realized that despite all the attention that Ries devotes to startups, much (if not most) of the material in his book is directly relevant to almost all organizations, whatever their size, nature, and birth date may be. This is what Jack Welch had in mind when explaining his reasons for admiring small companies. Here is a brief excerpt from his remarks at a GE annual meeting about 20 years ago:
“For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”
As Eric Ries concludes his book, he wonders what an organization would look like “if all of its employees were armed with Lean Startup superpowers.” What indeed.
How to increase sustainable fulfillment of human potentialities, one’s own as well as those of others
Many years ago, I read a book written by David J. Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big, that helped me to widen and deepen my perspective when exploring possibilities. I was reminded of that book as I began to read The 10X Rule in which Grant Cardone also urges his reader to keep in mind that most human limits are self-imposed. Long before Schwartz’s book was published (my copy was published in 1987), Henry Ford observed, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” More recently, in Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras urge business leaders to select what they call a BHAG, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, for their organization. Cardone brings valuable insights to an important discussion of how to increase sustainable fulfillment of human potentialities.
In other words, many (most?) people become committed to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy: consciously and/or unconsciously, their self-defeating attitude ensures that they will either fail or fall far short of what they could have achieved. And more often than not, they see themselves as victims of circumstances over which they have little (if any) control. In striking contrast, peak performers are committed to a positive self-fulfilling prophecy: consciously and unconsciously, they consistently achieve great success because they are absolutely convinced they not only can but WILL. It is not a matter of “if,” only “when.”
In Chapter 1, Cardone lists the basic series of mistakes people make when setting out to achieve goals:
1. Selecting objectives that are too low, too easy, etc. that will not excite, inspire, and motivate people
2. Severely underestimating what is necessary to achieve a goal
3. Spending too much time competing, not enough time succeeding
4. Underestimating the resistance and adversity that must be overcome to achieve the goal
In essence, as Cardone explains, the 10X Rule is based on two separate but interdependent assumptions: First, if you set (let’s call it) a 1X goal or target and then increase it by a factor of ten, you may not reach that but you will achieve far more than you originally intended. Also, if you set a 10X goal or target, you will make a corresponding investment of resources (especially time, energy, and focus) far greater than you would have invested to achieve a 1X goal or target. The place to be, therefore, is at the 10X level both in terms of setting a goal and efforts to achieve it.
After carefully reading and then (hopefully) re-reading this book, many people will ask, “What now? Where to begin?” Cardone offers excellent advice in the 23rd and final chapter, “Getting Started with 10X.” (Actually, a reader has already gotten started by reading the book and probably gained – as I certainly did -an increased awareness of self-imposed, self-defeating limits.) There are six specific suggestions (on Pages 188-189) that are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but I feel comfortable revealing a few of Cardone’s key points. First, getting to and then operating on a 10X level is a journey, not a destination. Like failure, success tends to feed upon itself and thus one must be prepared to increase the level of difficulty of a given goal that will then increase the degree of success when achieving it. Finally, the aforementioned journey can and should include the involvement of those who can provide support and encouragement to the “pilgrim” who, in turn, must be not only willing and able but also eager, indeed committed to provide the same support and encouragement to others during their own journey.
In fact, what could be more satisfying than applying the 10X Rule to making a positive difference in the lives of others? If there is a higher goal in life than that, I would very much like to know about it.
Still another “revolutionary process” to achieve “extraordinary results
Subir Chowdhury and other authors of recently published business books are to be commended for having the courage to contribute additions to the thousands of volumes already in print about how a “revolutionary process” can achieve “extraordinary results.” Of course, people achieve such results – processes don’t – and if your workforce is dominated by hamster-brained, knuckle-dragging, passively engaged people, even a process on which Deming, Juran, Crosby, Drucker, Womack, and Collins have collaborated could not possibly succeed.
I do not damn Chowdhury with faint praise when suggesting that his latest book has much to commend it. He has highly developed reasoning and writing skills, he organizes his material with meticulous care, and all of his recommendations are eminently sensible. He seasons his narrative with somewhat obscure but nonetheless interesting historical tidbits such as solving a “jelly bean production problem” in the 1930s, why the number of coffeehouses in England increased from the first (in Oxford in 1650) to more than 3,000 in 1675, and the Kids F.A.C.E. (Kids for a Clean Environment) that nine-year-old Melissa Pope founded in 1989. I really mean that. However, and yes there is a “however,” it is important to keep in mind that however simple and applicable the basic ideas behind LEO may be, they serve only as a template, a set of guidelines by which to make better decisions about what to do and how to do it.
These are among passages that caught my eye:
o LEO: Listen (observe and understand) Enrich (explore and discover), and Optimize (improve and perfect), Pages 3-6
o The Four Cornerstones: Quality Is My Responsibility, All the People, All the Time, An I-Can-Do-It Mindset, and No One Size Fits All (Pages 8-14)
o Three basic conditions that help to explain why processes tend to run amok (55-56)
o Reviews: Listen (114), Enrich (138-139), and Optimize (163)
According to Chowdhury, “”The test of a LEO deployment’s lasting power, its sustainability, takes place over years…For a LEO project to succeed, it must have the support of the company’s leaders and of the managers and of the frontline people who are directly involved in the effort.” Also, and of equal importance, “It requires that the individual people within the company, leaders and frontline people alike, acquire a high-quality mindset.” The details of that mindset as well as how to develop it are best revealed within the narrative. However, the fact remains that the efforts of one individual can ensure the success of a LEO project, nor can the collaborative efforts of a project team’s members.
What is needed is nothing less than a culture within which everyone at all levels and in all areas are committed to observing and listening, exploring and discovering, and improving and perfecting. These individual and collective initiatives must be based on a foundation whose cornerstones are – or are comparable with – those that Subir Chowdhury proposes. I really like the quotation with which he concludes, provided by Dr. Seuss:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”