First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Mike Paton: An interview by Bob Morris

PatonMike Paton has spent a lifetime learning from and sharing with entrepreneurs. The product of an entrepreneurial household, he cut his teeth in banking before running (or helping run) four small, growing companies. For the last seven years, he’s been helping entrepreneurs clarify, simplify and achieve their vision by mastering the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

Mike discovered EOS while trying to run a $7 million company in Minneapolis. Drawn to its simplicity and usefulness, he quickly became a passionate advocate of the system and leader of a vibrant and growing community of professional EOS Implementers, clients and fans. An award-winning speaker and best-selling author (Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable, with EOS creator Gino Wickman), he has conducted more than 1,000 full-day EOS sessions with leadership teams of more than 100 companies. He’s also helped thousands more business leaders at dynamic, value packed keynote talks and in-depth interactive workshops. Whatever the venue and format, Paton attracts large audiences, receives consistently high ratings and introduces a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that help leaders “get a grip” on their business.

Mike lives in Minneapolis with his wife Kate and his sons Henry and Charlie. His older son Jon lives and works in Clinton, IA.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Mike.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Get a Grip, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Paton: My grandfather, Art Pfeil, who taught me how to learn, how to teach, how to work hard, and how to love doing all three.

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

Paton: Gino Wickman and his business partner, Don Tinney — without whom I’d have never discovered EOS and become a passionate teacher of the system. They’ve helped me simplify, clarify and achieve my vision as an EOS Implementer, a business owner, and a man.

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.

Paton: I was fortunate to grow up in a household where teaching and learning was cherished. My sense of curiosity and wonder were encouraged, and it’s something I bring into every class, every book, every job, hobby and personal relationship I’ve ever encountered. The only epiphany is that very few things in life – professional or personal – don’t fulfill that desire for discovery and wonder – if you just open yourself up to it. From a career perspective, that desire to learn and grow – and to have that impact on others who want to do the same – has always driven me.

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?

Paton: What I know now is that we are all in complete control of our own choices, and accountable for the outcomes those choices create. I spent way too much time early in my career focused on people and things that didn’t have anywhere near as much impact as I imagined on my work and my life. I’d refocus all that time and energy on my own actions and outcomes.

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

Paton: This may get a laugh – or bring an abrupt end to this interview – but Tommy Boy has always been a favorite. As silly as that movie is, it fairly accurately identifies some issues (and solutions) common to entrepreneurial companies. First, you have a gifted, gregarious, driven founding entrepreneur who doesn’t adequately develop the next generation of leadership in his company, thereby exposing the organization to risk. Upon his death, a power struggle develops between his pedantic number two, his oaf of a son, his trophy wife, a risk-averse board/capital partners, and an unscrupulous competitor. And the company is saved when the son partners with the people in the business, reconnects with the “soul” of the business, and begins making great things happen. That story is played out each year in literally hundreds of entrepreneurial companies – admittedly with less hilarity and more frequent failures than successes. And, as an added bonus, it’s really funny.

Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?

Paton: I agree completely. At some point in every young company’s growth curve, it hits a ceiling. Often that ceiling is caused by the limited capacity of the person (or people) who make most of the decisions, handle all the most important projects, and do the most valuable work. When a “great man” or “great woman” becomes overwhelmed, the company often either flat-lines or fails. Truly great leaders see the need to hire and develop extensions of themselves, so that collectively the team begins achieving more than the sum total of its parts.

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

Paton: Many leaders and managers – at every level of an organization – struggle with delegation. There are literally dozens of “root causes” to this issue – some owned by the leader and some caused by their organization. In the language of EOS, we find most of those root causes can be traced back to weakness in one of six “Key Components” of a well-run business – Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process and Traction. And delegation issues can truly be traced back to weakness in all of them.

For example, sometimes a leader fails to delegate because he or she doesn’t have the right people on his or her team, or isn’t cut out to lead and manage. That’s weakness in the People component. Sometimes, the company’s core processes aren’t documented, simplified, and clearly followed by all – the Process component needs work. Sometimes a strong data component (with metrics that alert the leader to an issue and help keep people on track) will help solve a delegation issue.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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

EOS Worldwide link

Mike’s Twitter link

Mike’s LinkedIn link

Mike’s Amazon page link

Mike’s YouTube video link

“EOS Story” YouTube video link

Sunday, March 29, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bernhard Schroeder: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

SchroederBernhard Schroeder is the Director of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Programs and oversees all of the undergraduate and graduate experiential entrepreneurship programs on the San Diego State University campus. He also has responsibility for the Center’s marketing and outreach on both the SDSU campus and in the San Diego community. He is a part-time Clinical Faculty, Entrepreneurship teaching several entrepreneurship course including Creativity and Innovation.

Prior to moving to San Diego, Bernhard was a Senior Partner in the worlds’ largest integrated marketing communications agency, CKS Partners, which in 1998 had offices in over 30 countries, more than 10,000 employees and over $1 billion in revenue. Bernhard joined CKS in 1991 and working with the other four partners, grew the firm to almost $40 million in revenue by 1995 and led CKS to a successful IPO that same year.

He has experience working with Fortune 100 firms like Apple, Nike, General Motors, American Express, Mercedes Benz, Kellogg’s and others as well as start-up companies. He was involved in the initial branding and marketing launches for startup companies Yahoo! and Amazon. Today, he mentors more than 20 founders of startup companies in San Diego with yearly revenue ranging from $400,000 to more than ten million.

His book, Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now, was published by AMACOM (February 2015).

Here is an excerpt from part 1 of my interview of Bern.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Fail Fast or Win Big, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Schroeder: Two people had a huge impact on my personal growth. The first was my father who instilled in me the notion of working to get what you want. He worked two jobs for 14 years to put five kids through private school. Never saw him much in those years but we had an amazing relationship after he retired. So, I started working and making money at the age of 11 and I thought that was completely normal.

The other person who I never thought would have an impact on my life but did was my aunt. Looking back, my aunt was just a good average person who was fun to be around but no one that really stood out in my family. That all changed one day. I was 19 at the time, full of piss and vinegar trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was definitely struggling trying to determine how one laid out their life, like it was a play or something. I was told by my father that my aunt was dying. Just like that. Stomach pains for a few weeks, then the diagnosis. Terminal cancer. Three weeks to live. Having never experienced death in the family, I could not get my head around the concept of death. My aunt was only 38, looking amazingly healthy and was going to die. She had told my father she wanted to meet with me. My fear and apprehension was, “What do you say to someone who is dying?”

I met her in a hospice room at the hospital. When I walked into the room, she was sitting on the bed with a serious mound of paper all around her. I asked her, “What are you doing?” She replied, “I am organizing my life so as not to be a bother when I am dead.” For the next three hours, we talked about life. My life. Her life. And she started to tell me about all the things she had never done or had regretted. She sacrificed for the family and lost the love of her life (my aunt had never married). I can almost picture her sitting on the bed and talking to me as she said,” Bern, no matter what you do with your life, don’t ever have regrets. Don’t ever settle for something you don’t agree with. And live life as if you were going to die tomorrow.” That day when I left, I don’t think I realized what had just happened. But her words would come to define the way I lived my life. My personal life and entire career was defined by this statement,” I will not spend one day being in a place where I don’t feel I belong.” And that is exactly the way I have lived my life.

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

Schroeder: Three mentors have had the most impact in my professional development. The first mentor was in my very first marketing job. I did not realize it at the time because if you have never been mentored before, you really don’t know it is happening (being mentored). The key element is trust. We usually don’t build a quick trusting relationship with our boss. But looking back, he leaned in…he nurtured me, pushed me, scolded me and praised me. In the two years I worked for him, I received five years of experience and advice. He actually created a solid platform for my entire career.

The second person was a few years later and he was a crusty kind of curmudgeon guy we brought in from Xerox. Within about two weeks of meeting him (I reported to him), he pulled me into his office and flatly stated that I was terrible at two things: I did not know how to listen, and I really did not know how to sell. Now, you have to realize in just three years at this marketing agency, I had risen from entry level employee to vice president. So, I thought to myself “this guy is full of shit.” But over the next 3-4 months, he actually proved to me that I really did not listen and I was really not accomplished at the art of selling or as he liked to put it, the art of getting people to buy from you.

He did two things that changed my professional life. The first thing he did was to send me to a “Spin Selling” seminar in San Francisco which I did not want to attend. The three-day sales seminar changed my outlook on my personal and professional life. I learned the skillset of listening. I learned the difference between what people wanted and what they needed. I learned personality types and how to read a room. It was amazing. The second thing he did was simple. He honed my ability to trust my instincts. This is a really hard skill “or feeling” to develop. You can’t really see it. Can’t really take a class or seminar in instinct. Over the next two years, after every client or prospect meeting, he would ask me to deconstruct the meeting. What was “really” going on in the meeting, who were the decision makers, what did they really want and so on. Then, based on my deconstruction and thoughts, he would give me feedback on where I was spot on and where I was completely off and why. Again, you don’t really see or understand it when you are going through personal development in a deep way but looking back, it was huge.

The third person taught me about the power of teams. Up until I met my third mentor, I thought that all my accomplishments to date were based on me. That is, my success was singly determined by me and what I could accomplish. I had been on pretty fast track since coming out of school late (undergraduate at 27 years of age) and I was motivated to move aggressively in building my career. Took on risky promotions and difficult clients and was successful. When I met this person who would become my third mentor, I did not really see him as even being a potential mentor. First, I felt I was his peer. We were both about the same age, both had accomplished a lot and were now partners in building what would become a billion dollar company. But early in my relationship with him, he pulled me aside and in a very nonchalant conversation told me two things: I was not a strategic thinker and I absolutely did not know how to build teams of people that would go “to war” for me. I thought about that. Over the next two years, he taught me how to be real with people. How to nurture and care for the talented stars working for me. I learned the art of management where everybody wins. The other thing he taught me about strategy was perspective. To use a military analogy, I was always the lieutenant or captain building and rapidly executing marketing campaigns. But I was not the general, sitting on the hill or further away, who was looking way beyond the battle…looking at the how the entire war would be waged. I learned an immense amount of strategic perspective from him that lifted me to a new level of branding and marketing strategy. One that allowed me to clearly create brand and marketing strategies for my future clients (like Amazon and Yahoo!) with a very strategic plan, strong on tactics but amazing on marketplace strategy.

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.

Schroeder: It’s hard to identify a turning point or epiphany in one’s life unless it’s something cathartic. Something that shakes or even defines your core. I would have to say, looking back, it was my aunt’s death. Her calmly talking to me as she was dying about never having regrets really formed the basis of how I would view life. I did it my way or the highway. I had people tell me, “ I don’t really like you…but you are one of the sharpest marketing people I have ever met and I respect you.” And seriously, all I wanted was to be respected. I did not really care if people liked me. Never have. The other part of what has become my mantra is I firmly believe no one was born to do anything…so what will you do? I have crafted my career around constantly challenging myself and enjoying life. I am not working on the cure for aids or cancer, so trust me, I have a perspective on what’s important in life. Sell another car or book, great. But don’t get hung up on that. I have wanted to make impacts and bring people along for the ride. I still stay in touch with people I hired and mentored in the mid 90’s. I mentor more than 20 founders of companies in San Diego. I reach thousands of students on the SDSU campus with messages of entrepreneurship, passion and doing what you want to do. It’s the most fun I have ever had.

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

Schroeder: This is a tough question, especially since I work on a university campus. I look back and view my formal education as a necessary part of life to learn some core basics and learn how to become a good speaker and writer. I look at what impacted my life and formal education has played a very small role. My accomplishments have come from doing what I wanted to do that pushed me, really pushing the edge of marketing, mentorships and work/play experiences.

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

Schroeder: Okay, going to date myself here. I remember seeing A Wonderful Life several times and realized two things: I don’t want to be the hated banker guy and I do want to feel like I was important or loved enough to be missed. I also wanted to care about people. Second movie was Dead Poets Society. I wanted to live carpe diem…to seize every day. I did not want to have a meaningless professional career. I did not want a job. I did not want to settle or conform. I did not want to do what other people wanted me to do. I did not want to live through other people expectations. The third movie was Wall Street. I both wanted and did not want to be Charlie Sheen. I wanted success to come from hard work but not from cheating. I never wanted to compromise my integrity or ethics. Maybe walk up to that line but not cross it. The second thing, I knew I was going to be involved in growing or running a big company someday. I did not want to be Gordon Gecko. I did not want to be that guy that ruined people’s lives for money. Maybe that’s why still today, I carry a slight disdain for some venture capitalists. I encourage all the founders I mentor to bootstrap and eat top ramen so as to preserve their equity for as long as possible so that they can maintain control of their companies should they ever have to take on investors.

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

Schroeder: Tough question. What do I say to sound pithy here? As I look back to the books I read in my formative years, I think of Papillion, The Outsiders, Catch-22, The Godfather and a few others. I think the one book that impacted me with its realism and symbolism was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you have read this book or seen the movie, you are not supposed to like Randle Patrick McMurphy. But the more I read the book, I saw Randle as one of the few sane people in the book. My takeaway from the book relating to business was life is crazy, don’t try and completely predict it. Whatever your situation, make the best of it and change it if you can. And don’t ever conform in your beliefs or who you are…no one really cares anyway especially in business. And if you can befriend people on your journey, do so. They could be the part of your professional life that matters most. I don’t really remember, in a fond way, all the billions of dollars of products or services I helped sell in my career. I do remember the people, good or slightly crazy.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

His website link

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center link

Fail Fast or Win Big Amazon link

TEDx Encinitas video link

StartUp Circle video link

LinkedIn link

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greg McKeown: An interview by Bob Morris

McKeown, GregGreg McKeown is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. His writing has appeared or been covered by Fast Company, Fortune, HuffPost, Politico,Inc. Magazine and Harvard Business Review. He has also been interviewed on numerous television and radio shows including NPR and NBC. McKeown is the CEO of THIS, Inc. where his clients include Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Salesforce.com, Symantec, Twitter, VMware and Yahoo!.

Greg is an accomplished public speaker. He has spoken to hundreds of audiences around the world including in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. Highlights include speaking at SXSW, interviewing Al Gore at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland and receiving a personal invitation from Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, to speak to his Annual Innovation Conference.

In 2012 Greg was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Originally from London, he now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and their four children. He graduated with an MBA from Stanford University.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Greg.

* * *

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.

McKeown: It happened years ago, one day after our precious daughter was born, healthy and happy at 7 pounds, 3 ounces. What should have been one of most serene days of my life was filled with tension. Even as my beautiful new baby lay in my wife’s tired arms, I was on the phone and on email with work, and I was feeling pressure to go to a client meeting.

My colleague had written, “Friday between 1-2 would be a bad time to have a baby because I need you to come be at this meeting with X.” It was now Friday and though I was pretty certain (or at least I hoped) the email had been written jest, I still felt pressure to attend.

Instinctively, I knew what to do. It was clearly a time to be there for my wife and newborn child. So when asked whether I planned to attend the meeting, I said with all the conviction I could muster…

“Yes.”

To my shame, while my wife lay in the hospital with our hours-old baby, I went to the meeting. Afterward, my colleague said, “The client will respect you for making the decision to be here.” But the look on the clients’ faces did not evince respect. Instead, they mirrored how I felt. What was I doing there?! I had said “yes” simply to please, and in doing so disrespected my family, my integrity, and even the client relationship.

As it turned out, exactly nothing came of the client meeting. But even if it had, surely I would have made a fool’s bargain. In trying to keep everyone happy I had pleased no one and sacrificed what mattered most. On reflection I discovered this important lesson: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

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

McKeown: My undergraduate was in journalism which is one of the only majors that teaches you how to ask the right questions. Almost all formal education teaches you how to find the right answer. That’s good as far as it goes. But to ask the right question is a higher and more valuable skill.

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

McKeown: I love the film Gandhi. He is an Essentialist and the film captures this. With singleness of purpose—to achieve independence for the Indian people—he eliminated everything else from his life.

He called the process, “Reducing himself to zero.” He dressed in his own homespun cloth (khadi) and inspired his followers to do the same. He spent three years not reading any newspapers because he found that their contents added only nonessential confusion to his life. He spent 35 years experimenting with simplifying his diet. He spent a day each week without speaking. It would be an understatement to see he eschewed consumerism: when he died he owned less than ten items. He intentionally never held a political position of any kind and yet became, officially within India, the Father of the Nation.

And his contribution extended well beyond India. As General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State said on the occasion of Gandhi’s passing, “Mahatma Gandhi had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind, a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires.” And Albert Einstein added, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” It is impossible to argue with the statement that Gandhi lived a life that really mattered or that his ability to focus on what was essential and eschew the nonessential was critical to his success.

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

McKeown: Can I cheat and point to an essay rather than a book? It was written by Tennessee Williams and was first published in The New York Times and tells the story of his experience following the release of his widely acclaimed play The Glass Menagerie. The piece is called, and contains his thesis in the title, “The Catastrophe of Success.” He describes how his life changed after the success of the play and how he became distracted from the essentials that led to his success in the first place.

For more than 15 years I have been obsessed with a single question: “Why do otherwise capable people and teams not breakthrough to the next level?” The answer, as Williams beautifully captures, is success. It’s a counterintuitive answer: one that is hidden in plain sight. Success can become a catalyst for failure if it leads to what Jim Collins called “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” The key is to become successful at success. The antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Greg cordially invites you to check out the resources at his website and LinkedIn.

Sunday, March 22, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, MD, on Stress in the Workplace: A second interview by Bob Morris

HallowellEdward (Ned) Hallowell, MD, a child and adult psychiatrist, is a New York Times bestselling author, world-renowned speaker and leading authority in the field of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He is a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Medical School, and the founder of The Hallowell Centers in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and New York City. He was a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty from 1983 until he retired from academics in 2004 to devote his full professional attention to his clinical practice, lectures, and the writing of books.

Dr. Hallowell’s recent book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Bring out the Best in Your People was published by Harvard Business School Press in January 2011, as was his latest, Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive (January 6, 2015). His other published works include Married to Distraction: Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption, with his wife, Sue George Hallowell, a couples’ therapist; Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child, with Dr. Peter Jensen; Delivered From Distraction (Pantheon), with Dr. John Ratey (Pantheon) and the accompanying Answers to Distraction (Pantheon, 1995); and Delivered From Distraction (Ballantine) in 2005. He published his first children’s book in 2004, A Walk in the Rain with a Brain (Regan Books/Harper Collins). It conveys the message, “No brain is the same. No brain is the best. Each brain finds its own special way.”

Here is an excerpt from my second interview of Ned.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing your latest book, Driven to Distraction at Work, a few general questions. First, for decades I have heard people suggest something to the effect, “If you want to get something done, give the work to a busy person.” Does that tend to be true?

Hallowell: Yes and no. Obviously, if the person is too busy, he can’t invent more hours in the day and so the work won’t get done. However, the wisdom in the quip refers to the fact that most people who are very busy are also very industrious, and so likely to complete whatever work they agree to take on.

Morris: In your opinion, are there more, fewer, or about the same number of distractions today as there were (let’s say) ten years ago? Please explain.

Hallowell: A gazillion more. Is a gazillion a word? I just looked it up, and it actually is! The reason that there are so many more distractions today than ever before is that our electronics have offered us exponentially more inputs than ever have been possible in history. The great news about modern life is that we can do so much. But that’s also the bad news! To thrive in today’s world a person must be able to prioritize and to create boundaries.

Morris: Based on your own experience as well as what you have observed, which seem to be the most difficult distractions to ignore? How best to avoid or overcome them?

Hallowell: Electronics. The most difficult electronic distractions to ignore are the ones that interest you the most! This is obvious, but often overlooked. If you are an avid sports fan, then ESPN will grab your eyeballs most easily. If you are an inveterate gossip or newshound, then Twitter is your Achilles heel. If you love to play the market, then your Bloomberg can own you. The point is that in today’s world you can have instant access to whatever you love the most. So you have to learn the difficult skill of moderating your consumption of electronics of all kinds. The most basic and useful intervention of all is the hardest one to implement: T.I.O. Turn It Off.

Morris: During the ten years since you retired from Harvard Medical School faculty, what have been the most significant improvements in the identification and treatment of ADD and ADHD?

Hallowell: The great need today was the great need 10 years ago: education, both of the public and of the professionals…. Stigma reigns, still. Perhaps the most exciting advance in educating the public is a website aimed at parents called Understood.org. Created by 15 non-profits, understood.org brings together in one place all the expert knowledge and latest information anyone could need to identify and deal with all manner of attention and learning problem. Funded to the tune of $75 million, Understood.org could be a real game-changer, at last bringing these issues out of the dark realm of ignorance and misunderstanding into the light of knowledge and enlightened practice.

Morris: In your opinion, what are the most significant – and troublesome – misconceptions that remain about ADD? What in fact is true?

Hallowell: The most significant and troublesome misconceptions include:

1. Having ADD means you are stupid. Not true! Many of the most gifted and creative people in the world have ADD or dyslexia or both.

2. You cannot achieve at a high level if you have ADD. Not true. In my own private practice, I have brain surgeons, self-made billionaires, Pulitzer Prize winners, hugely successful entrepreneurs, inventors, professors, acclaimed writers, successful artists, gifted teachers, decorated military personnel, and on and on.

3. ADD is a curse. Not true. Managed properly, ADD can lead to a life of the highest levels of achievement and personal joy. However, if not managed properly, it may indeed become a curse.

4. ADD is due to bad parenting. Not true! The vast majority of cases are inherited. ADD is one of the most highly heritable conditions in all of the behavioral sciences.

5. The only effective treatment for ADD is medication. Not true! There are many treatments for ADD–or methods of managing it, as I prefer to say–that do not include medication. I, myself, have ADD and dyslexia and do not take medication (other than coffee!). The mainstays of the non-medication methods include coaching and structure; physical exercise; meditation; nutritional supplements; and creative activities (having a creative outlet is essential for people who have ADD).

Morris: For those who have not as yet read Shine, you explain how “the best managers bring out the best from their people. This is true of football coaches, orchestra conductors, big-company executives, and small-business owners. They are like alchemists who turn lead into gold. Put more accurately, they find and mine the gold that resides in everyone.” What are the defining characteristics of the mindset of the best managers?

Hallowell: First, an ability to get along with a wide variety of people. Second, an ability and a desire to locate the talent in every person. Third, an ability and a desire to help other people shine, even if it means surpassing their manager. Fourth, the ability to change one’s mind, see a different point of view, and admit when one is wrong. Fifth, the ability to give criticism in such a way that it can stimulate growth rather than induce shame.

Morris: How specifically do the best managers “bring out the best” in those whom they supervise?

Hallowell: Most of all by setting them up to work in their “sweet spot”: what they do really well, what they really like to do, and what advances the mission of the organization.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a workplace culture within which those efforts are most likely to be successful?

Hallowell: High trust, low fear. High levels of frank and candid conversation. Plentiful connection, in which members of the group know each other in some depth.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Driven to Distraction at Work. When and why did you decide to write it?

Hallowell: I decided to write it because the people at Harvard Business Review Press told me the Number One request they received from executives was for advice on focus. Since I am a “focus doctor,” it was a natural book for me to write.

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

Hallowell: The major one was how prevalent and pernicious the problem of distraction is in today’s world, costing many billions of dollars and millions of hours of lost productivity.

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

Hallowell: Rather dramatically. I ended up writing a lot more about individual psychology than I had originally envisioned, and a lot less about the science of attention. That’s because I wanted to write a useful book, a book that readers could really apply in their everyday lives.

Morris: To what extent (if any) did you learn something especially interesting or significant about yourself while writing the book that you did not realize before?

Hallowell: What a lovely question. Let me think. I learned than I am not as dumb as I feared. I was not sure I could write this book, but, when I did complete it and knew that it was good, I felt the same way I did when, as a kid, I did something I didn’t think I could.

Morris: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has much of value to say about what he characterizes as “flow”: that is, the mental state during which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Athletes call it being in a “zone.” In essence, flow is almost total complete absorption in what one does. In your opinion, how best to reach such a state? How best to sustain it?

Hallowell: Do something that is both challenging and deeply interesting to you.

* * *

To read all of this interview, please click here

To read my first interview of Ned, Please click here

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

The Hallowell Centers link

Meet Dr. Hallowell link

ADD and ADHD Briefing & Resources link

Amazon link

YouTube Videos link

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Schrage: An interview by Bob Morris

SchrageMichael Schrage is a Research Fellow at the MIT Center for Digital Business and a Visiting Fellow at Imperial College’s Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He examines the various roles of models, prototypes, and simulations as collaborative media for innovation risk management. He has served as an advisor on innovation issues and investments to major firms, including Mars, Procter & Gamble, Google, Intel, BT, Siemens, NASDAQ, IBM, and Alcoa. In addition, Michael has advised segments of the national security community on cyberconflict and cybersecurity issues. He has presented workshops on design experimentation and innovation risk for businesses, organizations, and executive education programs worldwide. Along with running summer workshops on future technologies for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, he has served on the technical advisory committee of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. In collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Schrage helped launch a series of workshops sponsored by the Department of Defense on federal complex systems procurement. In 2007, he served as a judge for the Industrial Designers Society of America’s global International Design Excellence Awards.

Michael authored the lead chapter on governance in complex systems acquisition in Organizing for a Complex World (CSIS 2009). He has been a contributor to such prestigious publications as the Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, strategy+business, IEEE Software, and the Design Management Journal. In his best-selling book, Serious Play: How the World’s Best Companies Simulate to Innovate, published by Harvard Business School Press (2000), Schrage explores the culture, economics, and future of prototyping. His next book, Getting Beyond Ideas was published by Wiley (2010). His latest book, The Innovator’s Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More than Good Ideas, was published by MIT Press (2014).

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Michael.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing The Innovator’s Hypothesis, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Schrage: Certainly, my parents. But since adolescence and university, I would unhesitatingly say my friends and, of course, my wife. My friends and I take friendship seriously and we don’t indulge each other’s weaknesses even as we respect that no one is or should be without flaws. I like and admire my friends – and my wife – and they all give me superb perspective on what it means to try to be a good person. There’s a wonderful conversation to be had about “satisficing” and “optimizing” in this context but this isn’t the place.

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

Schrage: These are more awkward than difficult questions because – of course – that’s not the “unit of analysis” I would use. Certainly, my time as a Washington Post journalist/columnist had an enormous impact on me. I was in my early 20s and dealing with extraordinarily powerful, extraordinarily influential, extraordinarily smart and extraordinarily competitive people in a challenging environment. But the same could be said about my fellowship at MIT’s Media Lab back when Nicholas Negroponte was running it. I’ve always – always! – made a serious effort to learn form my professional interactions. Best case, I learned from the very best about what made them “effective” and what make them tick. At worst, I gained greater insight into myself and my limitations. I became much more sensitive to the reality that great intelligence, great influence and great competence did not necessarily correlate with good character – and vice versa.

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.

Schrage: Yes. I was collaborating with my best friend to design and build a really path-breaking new software back in the 1980s. I slept on his couch and we worked together for a fortnight but nothing was coming out of us but frustration and bad arguments. Here we were – two really smart guys who liked and trusted each other and were committed to doing something great – but we were getting nowhere. This made no sense to us and we were both getting depressed.

Rob finally said, “Look, I know a guy – he’s a bit of a nut – but he’s come up with an interesting technology and approach to getting people to work together. We should see him.” I skeptically responded, “What is he? A therapist? We’re going into couples therapy now…?”

But Rob said it wasn’t like that and so we went off to Bernie’s. Long story short: Bernie had hooked up a Mac to a Limelight projector and simply facilitated a design discussion between Rob and myself. As we talked, our conversation was made visible on a large screen. We began talking to each other through the screen; that is, the focus of or attention and communication was the shared space of our screen-based conversation. We began to move the words and phrases and then pictures and graphs. To use Bernie’s phrase, “We could see ourselves being heard….” This meeting directly led to our design document and a real breakthrough in mutual understanding and awareness. I “got” it.

This simple computer-augmented conversation had a huge impact. It was, forgive me, transformative and led directly to my first book about collaboration. I am fascinated, struck, and compelled by how technology can amplify and augment who we are and what we can do not just for ourselves but with each other. This has been central to my academic research and advisory work. I had vaguely appreciated and understood that before the conversation with Bernie but that episode crystalized/galvanized and every other kind of ‘ized’ that into an epiphany.

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

Schrage: Invaluable is a tricky word. Honestly, only three or four formal classes (and teachers) were truly ‘invaluable’ in my conceptual and/or intellectual development. My classes with Doanld Michie on AI; a couple of “history of economic thought” seminars and workshops. A matrix algebra class.

There are only a handful of formal educational experiences I can or would point to as being integral to my professional development and effectiveness. That said, being in those environments – having opportunities for informal exchanges, projects, mentorship, apprenticeship, etc. – was imperative to success. Bluntly, most formal learning mechanisms didn’t fit with my personality, curiosity and aspirations. Fortunately – or unfortunately – I was clever enough to always do “well.” But doing “well” and learning lots aren’t the same thing. I was genuinely interested not just in learning but in understanding the fundamentals and most of the subjects, courses and teachers I had in formal environments simply were unwilling or unable to provide that.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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

MIT Faculty page link

The Innovator’s Hypothesis/MIT Press link

Amazon link

Amazon link to Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?

YouTube videos link

Big Think videos link

Sunday, March 15, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wiser: A book review by Bob Morris

WiserWiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter
Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie
Harvard Business Review Press 2014)

How to separate, implement, and optimize the divergent and convergent stages of every problem-solving process

As I began to read this book, I was reminded of a passage in one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls. He and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” Whenever asked if two heads are better than one, however, I reply, “Which heads?”

Organizational judgment can often be substantially better than the judgment of any one person but as Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie correctly point out, “in the real world, discussion often leads people in the wrong directions. Many groups fail to correct the mistakes of their members. On the contrary, groups often amplify those mistakes. If groups are unrealistically optimistic, groups may be more unrealistic still. If people within a firm are paying too little attention to the long term, the firm will probably suffer from a horrible case of myopia. There is no evidence that the judgment mistakes uncovered by behavioral scientists are corrected as the result of group discussion.”

Sunstein and Hastie organize and present their material within four Parts: In Chapters 1-5, they explore the sources of group failure. They explain how to avoid or correct (a) members’ errors, (b) embracing a herd mentality, (c) becoming more extreme, and (d) valuing shared information at expense of unshared information. Re the latter point, Carla O’Dell and Jackson Grayson have much of value to say about that in their classic work, If Only We Knew What We know. Then in Chapters 6-13, Sunstein and Hastie shift their attention ton to the sources of group success. For example, in Chapter 7, they explain the immense importance of distinguishing between two quite different processes when attempting to solve a specific problem: identification of a list of potential solutions, and, selection of what seems to be the best solution. With regard to solving problems, I am again reminded of an observation by Peter Drucker in 1993: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Sunstein and Hastie’s coverage:

o Group Failures (Pages 19-99)
o Amplification impact: nature and extent (43-46)
o Group biases (53-55)
o Cascades of positive and negative momentum (57-75)
o Risk-taking (78-80)
o Group Successes (101-212)
o Eight ways to reduce failures (103-124)
o Devil’s Advocates and leaders (115-118)
o Identifying and selecting solutions (125-142)
o Using bias reduction (138-140)
o When crowds are wise (143-156)
o “Experts” (157-164)
o Tournaments to generate good ideas and spark creativity (165-180)
o Friedrich Hayek and prediction markets (181-194)
o Problem-solving(208-210)

One of Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie’s primary objectives is to help teams make better decisions. In my opinion, these are the most valuable lessons to be learned about all that from the abundance of information, insights, and counsel they provide.

o Make absolutely certain that the team’s focus in on answering the right question, solving the right problem, etc.
o When in group discussion, team leaders should devote at least 80% of their time listening and observing; no more than 20% speaking.
o They should strongly encourage a diversity of perspectives, especially principled dissent.
o When obtaining the information required by the given process of decision-making, all relevant sources should be consulted.
o In terms of division of labor, tasks should be assigned to those best-qualified in terms of knowledge, experience, and judgment.
o Implementation of a decision should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate unexpected changes.
o Use a “devil’s advocate” approach when subjecting each option to rigorous scrutiny.
o Then consider using a “red team” approach to challenge the primary team during its implementation of the given decision.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two others: Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, co-authored by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Caroline L. Arnold: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

ArnoldCaroline Arnold has been a technology leader on Wall Street for more than a decade, managing some of the financial world’s largest software development teams and leading some of the industry’s most visible and complex initiatives. A dynamic and engaging speaker, she has appeared before groups as large as 5,000 people. Caroline is a recipient of the Wall Street & Technology Award for Innovation for building the auction system for the Google IPO, and her name appears on technology patents pending. Caroline serves as a Managing Director at a leading Wall Street investment bank. Caroline graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in English Literature, and lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Her book, Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently, was published by Viking Adult (January 2014) and is now available in a paperbound edition, published by Penguin Press December 2014).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Caroline.
* * *

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Small Move, Big Change. When and why did you decide to write it?

Arnold: After years of failing at self-improvement New Year’s resolutions, I hit upon a system where I was able to succeed virtually every time I made a resolution. I began sharing this “microresolution” method with family, friends, and colleagues who began to report successes and very entertaining stories about their microresolution experiences, and it occurred to me – Hey, this would make a really good book!

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

Arnold: Well, the biggest head-snapping revelation was that I could actually write a book, after years of dreaming about it. I discovered that the only difference between doing it and not doing it is doing it, and that has had a huge impact on the way I now approach new opportunities and life in general.

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

Arnold: The form of the book is very close to what I originally proposed, but there is far more research in it than I had anticipated when I outlined it. I became really fascinated with willpower and behavioral science as it helped me to understand scientifically what I had discovered for myself experientially,.

Morris: As I read and later re-read your book, I was reminded of Jørgen Vig Knudstorp’s response when asked how he and his leadership team were able to save the LEGO Group: “brick by brick.” You seem to endorse the same strategy for personal growth and professional development. Is that a fair assessment?

Arnold: I do see every successful change in behavior as a foundation on which to build, so yes, it’s a fair assessment. But I avoid and discourage others from thinking about a single change of habit as merely a step toward a greater goal. There really is no such thing as an insignificant behavioral change, and every positive shift in behavior you make has an intrinsic value. Too often when we talk about taking one step at a time we think of each step as only a means to a loftier goal, rather than signing up for the immediate value that your new behavior offers all on its own. So much of self-improvement is focused on a “someday” that never comes, rather than on the value you can experience immediately, today and for a lifetime, by making one behavioral change.

Morris: Please explain when any you realized the potential significance of a microresolution. Please cite an example or two.

Arnold: I realized the significance of microresolutions when I replaced a failed New Year’s resolution “to be organized” with my first microresolution, “to keep all my notes in one notebook.” First, I found my more modest resolution much more difficult that I had anticipated and it was then that I realized that any behavioral change that causes a change to routine will feel awkward and uncomfortable. Second, I found out how much value establishing just one new habit has – that notebook habit filled a critical gap in my organizational behavior, reduced my stress level, and taught me to respect the power of discrete behavioral changes. Third, I found out that if you practice any change in behavior with real focus for a few weeks it will become part of your personal autopilot and no longer require willpower to sustain.

After my success with the notebook habit I decided to try a microresolution focused on diet and had another success—I resolved never to eat a conference room cookie again. These two resolutions taught me that I could absolutely succeed at any resolution as long as my target was reasonable, limited, measurable, and sustainable for at least four weeks. These resolutions were the first of dozens that reshaped my life in every self-improvement area.

Morris: Please cite some examples of microresolutions in a workplace environment, microresolutions that could have great significance?

Arnold: One great microresolution from the book was from a lawyer who resolved “to always make the scary call first.” Every day when the she looked at checked her to-do list there was always a call she dreaded making, and she always put it off. But once she resolved to make the call first, her productively soared, because she got the task she feared most out of the way.

Another great microresolution from the book was about a person who had been told she wasn’t qualified for a leadership position because she was a bit negative. She thought this very unfair, but made a microresolution “not to be the first to complain at work.” The very next day there was a management announcement and this person waited for others to begin to bitch, but nobody said a thing. She realized in that moment that she had, inf act, been at the hub of this complaining. The book has many examples from the work world, from improving relationships, to productivity, to better communication, and every success story hinged on making one small change in behavior.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent could a series microresolutions help to achieve what Jim Collins calls a “BHAG”? That is, a big hairy audacious goal?

Arnold: Microresolutions can help with goal achievement all around by demonstrating that one can be successful every time one makes a resolution. The worst part about the failed resolutions is that we learn the habit of failure—we make big resolutions, but we’re not surprised when they peter out, because they petered out last year and the year before. But by leveraging the very forces that often doom resolutions — limited willpower, autopilot’s tenacious resistance to change—we can teach ourselves how to succeed regularly and to hold ourselves accountable.

I want to be clear that in the work world, we often do succeed at BHAG because our entire day is organized around achieving our priorities. It was easier for me to execute the auction platform for the Google IPO in six weeks than it was for me to “be bikini slim by summer,” “to be organized,” “to save more money,” because the Google IPO was urgent and concrete and my personal improvement resolutions were closer to wishful thinking. So often we manage the biggest things – work and family – while failing ourselves, because by the time we’re done with work and family there’s not a whole lot of energy or willpower left to hit the gym.

Morris: Apparently you agree with Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Here’s my question. By which process can the selection and completion of “small moves” become [begin italics] habitual [end italics]?

Arnold: I love that quote from Aristotle and use it in the book. The full quote talks about men becoming just by performing just actions and temperate by practicing temperate actions, demonstrating that even the highest character traits can be learned through practice. For example, if one has a habit of shading the truth to one’s own advantage, one might resolve never to lie in a given circumstance, for example not making false excuses about why they are late (my train was evacuated at Penn Station, etc.). By practicing this one change in behavior one could learn to be more accountable, learn to be more on time, learn that telling the truth and opening oneself to criticism may be a healthier state than arriving with a lie prepared. Similarly, one might develop a better character by pledging not to one up a partner, or by resolving never to say “I told you so,” to a child. These changes in behavior are surprising in their power and open doors to personal growth.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

Here is a link to Part 1.

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

Her website link

Twitter link

Link to video of her presentation at Microsoft headquarters

Facebook link

Sunday, March 8, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ram Charan’s The Attacker’s Advantage: A book review by Bob Morris

Attacker's AdvantageThe Attacker’s Advantage: Turning Uncertainty into Breakthrough Opportunities
Ram Charan
PublicAffairs (2015)

This is the most valuable contribution to business thought leadership that Ram Charan has made…thus far.

I have read and reviewed all of the books that Dallas-based Ram Charan has written or co-written and am convinced that The Attacker’s Advantage is the most valuable…thus far. Why? Because the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that he provides can be of substantial assistance to almost anyone, at any level and in any area of the given enterprise, to improve their leadership and management skills. The title of the book refers to “the world of large-scale [i.e. high-impact] entrepreneurs who create [or recognize] a new need, scale it up quickly, and put a bend in the road for traditional players…The attacker’s advantage is the ability to detect ahead of others those forces that are radically reshaping your marketplace, then position your business to make the next move first.”

Those who read and then re-read) this book with appropriate care will accelerate their development of five essential capabilities:

1. Perceptual acuity
2. A mindset to see opportunity in uncertainty
3. The ability to see as new path forward and commit to it
4. Adeptness in managing the transition to the next path
5. Skill in making the organization steerable and agile

Each of these is an important WHAT that countless other business thinkers have already identified. Charan explains HOW while in process revealing the WHY.

Consider, for example, the importance of anomalies. Years ago, Isaac Asimov observed, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s odd….’” Charan has a great deal of value to say about the importance of anomalies (on Pages 50-57) when suggesting “what to watch for.” Any fool can connect dots. Those whom Charan characterizes as “catalysts” know which dots to connect, to be sure, but of much greater importance, they recognize and grasp the significance of potentialities and implications such as causal relationships. Catalysts constantly practice the skill of “sorting, sifting, and selecting what matters from the vast and changing external landscape.”

Once again as he does in so many of his previously published works, he makes brilliant use of reader-friendly devices such as a checklist of Takeaways for each of the four Parts. They serve as study guide questions. Another section, “IN THE NEXT CHAPTER…,” concludes each chapter, offering a head’s up to key material in the next chapter. And also, real-world exempla that include companies such as Tata Communication, LEGO Group, Kaiser Permanente, and Merck as well as executives that include (in alpha order) Marc Andreessen, Tim Berners-Lee, Larry Fink, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ruben Mettler, Ralph Nader, Hal Sperlich, and Steve Schwarzman. As Charan carefully indicates, there are valuable lessons to be learned from all of them. It is also true that the reader-friendly devices will help to facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the most important material later.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Charan’s coverage:

o The Essentials of Leading in Uncertainty (Pages 5-10)
o Redefining an Industrial Icon: GE (23-26)
o Five Examples of Catalysts (41-47)
o Seek Contrary Viewpoints (61-63)
o Be a Voracious Reader (71-73)
o Consumers Hold the Key (89-94)
o Removing the Blockages to a Path of Uncertainty (103-112)
o Benefits of the Joint Practice Session (133-137)
o The Joint Practice Session: Transparency and Coordination (131-133)
o A JPS (Joint Practice Session) in Financial Services (139-145)
o Identifying [Critical] Decision Nodes (157-161)
o Assigning the Leaders of Critical Nodes (161-164)
o Monitoring How the Nodes Are Working (166-172)
o Setting Short-Term Milestones (174-179)
o Keep Others with You (191-194)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the quality and value of the material that Ram Charan provides in this, his latest and as indicated, what I consider to be his most important work…thus far. I agree with him that “taking control of uncertainty is the fundamental leadership challenge of our time.” It is worth noting that the original meaning of the Chinese character for “crisis,” formulated centuries ago, is both “peril” and “opportunity.” Now and in months to come, uncertainty is certain to pose even greater challenges to leaders in all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be. Hence the importance of gaining and sustaining the attacker’s advantage. I urge those in organizations that now lack such an advantage to read and then re-read this book. Also, check out the resources here, especially the key capabilities assessment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Caroline L. Arnold: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

ArnoldCaroline Arnold has been a technology leader on Wall Street for more than a decade, managing some of the financial world’s largest software development teams and leading some of the industry’s most visible and complex initiatives. A dynamic and engaging speaker, she has appeared before groups as large as 5,000 people. Caroline is a recipient of the Wall Street & Technology Award for Innovation for building the auction system for the Google IPO, and her name appears on technology patents pending. Caroline serves as a Managing Director at a leading Wall Street investment bank. Caroline graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in English Literature, and lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Her book, Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently, was published by Viking Adult (January 2014) and is now available in a paperbound edition, published by Penguin Press December 2014).

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Caroline.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Small Move, Big Change, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Arnold: I’ve been influenced by many people in important ways, but my daughter Helen has had the greatest influence on me. Watching another human being develop, and putting that person’s well being first, has been a great learning experience for me and has expanded my view of life and changed my personal values.

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

Arnold: My father, who always wanted me to be a writer, and Guy Chiarello, who by example and encouragement got me to take the long view of my career. While we were at Morgan Stanley, Guy trusted me with amazing opportunities.

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.

Arnold: For a few years I was a programmer, working strictly on a consulting basis because I felt it gave me more freedom and at some level I felt unready to say, “this is it, this is what I am doing for the next five years.” Giving up consulting to work on Wall Street was a big decision, but I knew it was the right one when one day I realized how much I was looking forward to the next five years advancing my career in one place.

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

Arnold: My education at the University of California at Berkeley gave me a great classical education, exposed me to great works and great thinkers, and taught me critical thinking skills that I apply today both in writing and in Technology. I majored in English Literature, but I also had concentrations in Economics, Philosophy, and Drama. These disciplines may seem far from computer programming, but logic, problem-solving, connecting disparate pieces of information, and creativity are all part of good technology solutions.

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

Arnold: It took me awhile to discover that the greatest pleasure in work is accomplishing something as part of a team, rather than entirely on your own. My first years as a programmer I had my own consulting practice, and I designed and implemented solutions either on my own or with one partner. When I gave up my practice to work on Wall Street, my orientation was towards solving everything myself, being entirely accountable. Within the first year I was given a team to manage and I managed them as an extension of myself, rather than seeing my role as enabling and energizing the team. Once I realized that success lay in empowering the team and investing in each person’s growth, I began to grow not just as a technologist, but as a human being.

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

Arnold: Hmmn, I love movies but am having a hard time thinking about one with business principles that I endorse. I guess I could say that Broadcast News shows the power and limitations of pure professional passion to meet the challenges of a changing industry.

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

Arnold: I learned a lot from reading Adam M. Grant’s Give and Take, which I found a refreshing read on how to thrive in competitive environments while enabling and empowering others–an intelligent take on how good guys can finish first. So much of what gets written and quoted is about winning the rat race while Prof. Grant’s book assess the broader stakes in professional behavior.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Arnold: Love the quote and believe in the principle. The leader’s job is to inspire passion and performance in others, to work in service of the team’s success.

Morris: From Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Arnold: Well, while I think it’s true that the truly transforming idea may be one that is so alien that others don’t seize on it (i.e., steal it), plenty of good ideas are recognized immediately and promoted by others as their own. But I would still advise not worrying about those who will steal your ideas, because you need to share ideas in order to advance them.

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Arnold: True, and the time required to go from dangerous idea to cliché is shrinking rapidly as technology renders iteration and adoption ever faster.

Morris: From Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s odd….’”

Arnold: Great discoveries and ideas are often born of observing what one perceives to be an anomaly.

Morris: From Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Arnold: Yes, executing a vision is the entire ballgame. I have known many of vision who simply couldn’t get from whiteboard to implementation.

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

Arnold: The wisdom and challenge of this is timeless, and I’m going to consciously think about it more often. How often do we refactor processes that we should just kill? How often do we feel productive doing something that is really marginal to productivity…like answering every email immediately?

Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?

Arnold: I don’t think this is either/or. A great leader making great decisions can change the fortunes of any initiative, as can the collective wisdom of a team. Ideally, you have both – a visionary leader and a smart team empowered to question the leader and advocate direction. I think the “great man” theory has a lot to do with the cult around Steve Jobs, but Steve Jobs was a singular person of fierce passion and conviction who was an business ascetic of sorts, unwilling to compromise, willing personally sacrifice. That he built a great company is undeniable, and if he left behind a great team, it will survive him. Jobs is so unusual, thought, I think that people get into trouble who try to emulate him. Leadership is personal, although lessons from others can, of course, be understood.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Her website link

Twitter link

Link to video of her presentation at Microsoft headquarters

Facebook link

Sunday, March 1, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dick and Emily Axelrod : Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Axelrods

Dick and Emily Axelrod come from a long line of entrepreneurs. So it was no surprise when in 1981 Dick left General Foods to form The Axelrod Group. At the time Emily was studying to get her second masters degree, in Social Work.

At the same time as Dick was leaving General Foods, his friend and colleague Jim Shonk landed a huge contract with Ford and needed help. This kickstart from Jim was just what the fledgling Axelrod Group needed to get started. Emily in the meantime was honing her skills as a family therapist. Periodically, Emily would work with Dick to conduct communication skills training programs.

During the early 1990’s, Dick was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the approach most consulting firms were using to bring about organizational change. You know the process: it consists of sponsor groups, steering teams, and project groups, all organized to create the change. When these groups finished their work, they then faced the arduous task of “selling” their solution to the organization. This need to sell the solution brought many a change process to its knees.

Out of this dissatisfaction, Dick and Emily developed the Conference Model®–a process for involving the “whole system” in creating organizational change. Every new idea needs someone who is willing to try something that is unproven, and Ken Goldstien, who at the time was Director of Organization Development at R.R. Donnelley and Sons, was willing to give this untested idea a chance when no one else would. Because of the early success at R.R. Donnelley, companies like Boeing, British Airways, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, INOVA Health System, Weyerhauser, and the Canadian and UK health systems were able to benefit.

At the height of this innovation, Dick had triple bypass surgery, and that is when Emily jumped into The Axelrod Group with both feet. Along the way, colleagues have joined the Axelrod team, and this worldwide network provides a range of skills that enrich The Axelrod Group’s offerings.

Dick wrote Terms of Engagement: New Ways of Leading and Changing Organizations, published by Berrett-Koehler (May 2000) with a paperbound edition published in 2010. He and Emily then co-authored Let’s Stop Meeting Like This: Tools to Save Time and Get More Done, also published by Berrett-Koehler (August 2014).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2.

* * *

When and why did you decide to write Terms of Engagement?

Dick: It was in 1998 when we were working with Peter Block in what he called the School for Managing and Leading Change. The school brought together teams from the for-profit and not-for-profit world in a series of workshops to learn about organizational change. Each team came with a change project in mind that they worked on during the school. If a team from a for-profit organization wanted to come to the school, they had to fund a not-for-profit team’s tuition. It was in the school where Emily and I learned that our ideas had currency in a larger context than our own consulting clients. People were always asking, “When are you going to write your book?” Finally, I got the courage to do so.

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

The first was that I was a terrible writer and needed help. Our son, who is a very good writer, read the first chapter and said it was awful, he was bored to death, and many other not so positive compliments which I probably have repressed. I had a conversation with Richard Heckler one day about my frustration with writing and he said, “You are not a professional writer; what you need is a writing coach.” So I went out and found one and have continued to use a writing coach for every book I have written.

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

I think it shifted from a tool book to a book of core principles because core principles are the most powerful tool anyone can have. Every organization is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all change process. But if you have a set of core principles to follow, you can approach any situation with confidence. This was driven home to me when we worked with Boeing Engineering following the strike in 2000. The goal was to increase what we now would call employee engagement following the strike. Actually it was to renew the culture and heal the wounds following the strike. I had a great client in Hank Queen, to whom I could say, “I don’t know how to do this, but here are some principles I think we should follow.” Hank got it and his story is in the second edition of Terms of Engagement.

You assert that this “is the first book to challenge the widely accepted change management paradigm.” What are that paradigm’s core principles and values?

Here’s a graphic:

DadChart400px

Most of the companies annually ranked among the most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the great cap value in their industry. Presumably you agree with me that that is not a coincidence.

How right you are. What these companies are doing is unleashing the power of their intellectual capital. This occurs when people experience meaning, challenge, learning, autonomy, and feedback in their work. When they know their voice counts and they are proud of what the company stands for and its place in the community.

I’m currently working with an American manufacturing company in Turkey to improve employee engagement. One of the things the company has going for it is people are proud to work for an American company. When they need a loan at the bank, they get a better rate because they are seen as being less likely to default on the loan, and their neighbors and family think more highly of them because they are working for an American company. Additionally, because the company’s product is used in pharmaceuticals and making baby formula, they feel proud to be helping improve people’s health.

As you already know, major research conducted by reputable firms such as Gallup and Towers Watson indicate that, on average, less than 30% of the workforce in a U.S. company are actively and productively engaged; the others are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged, undermining the company’s success. In your opinion, what’s the problem?

I think there are several reasons:

First, I would go back to meaning, challenge, autonomy, learning, and feedback. The extent to which these are missing in a job or the work environment, the more disengaged people become. Many people feel under-utilized at work. They feel confined, with little opportunity to use their full talents, and that in many ways they have to leave the best part of themselves at home.

Second is the breakdown of the old contract between the employee and the employer. When people experience that the company owes them no allegiance, they put less energy into the work. There are also employees who fell entitled and that they don’t owe the company anything for their paycheck. They act as independent contractors where their first allegiance is to themselves and they owe little or nothing to their employer.

Third is the “engagement industry” of which I guess I am a part. Many organizations are touting the benefits of employee engagement, increased productivity, customer satisfaction, safety, and even health. However, they approach employee engagement as something to be done to people.

I believe engagement is a choice that both leaders and employees make. Leaders choose to create the kind of work environment where people may choose a higher level of engagement. Employees choose the level at which they engage in their work. Once leaders recognize that authentic engagement is a choice everyone makes, that leaders can create conditions where engagement can flourish, but in the end people will choose to engage or not, that changes everything. It’s the difference between ordering people to join you and inviting people to join you, knowing that some will not accept your invitation.

Finally, what I learned in working with Hank Queen at Boeing was that when you ask people what they care about at work and why, and then help them find ways to have more of what they care about show up at work on a regular basis, both the organization and people benefit. In his case, there were productivity improvements of more than 25%.

To what extent are supervisors responsible for the problem?

What the research says is that leaders have a great deal of influence, but I think it is easy to blame supervisors for the lack of engagement. The way a supervisor treats the people who work for him or her does influence their engagement, but its more complex than that.
Supervisors work within a system and culture where they may or may not feel engaged. They may feel constrained by the culture and system in the way they would like to operate.

Which strategies and tactics do you recommend to improve the percentages?

These seem to be especially effective:

1. Involve people in change that impacts them.

2. Design jobs and teams where there is meaning, autonomy, challenge, learning. and feedback.

3. Go beyond the numbers. The goal should not be to improve the numbers. Rather the goal is to create an engaging work environment and the numbers are measures of how well you are doing. Be careful with surveys and look for other results and unintended consequences. As a PhD scientist once told me, when you decide the measures ahead of time, that is all you will see, and significant findings and learning’s may go unnoticed.

4. If you are a leader at any level, engage people in a mutual conversation about what you care about at work and why. Also ask this question in a team environment. Then ask what people can do to bring more of what people care about at work into work on a daily basis. You will be glad you did.

* * *

Here is a link to all of Part 2.

To read Part 1, please click here.

Dick and Emily cordially invite you to check out the resources at this website.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 401 other followers

%d bloggers like this: