First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

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

Marcia Reynolds: Part 2 of a second interview by Bob Morris

ReynoldsMarcia Reynolds, president of Covisioning LLC, works with clients around the world who seek to develop effective leaders. She understands organizational cultures, what blocks communication and innovation, and what is needed to bring people together for better results. She has coached leaders, delivered leadership, coaching and emotional intelligence programs, and spoken at conferences for clients in 34 countries. She has also presented at many universities including Harvard Kennedy School and Cornell University,

Prior to starting her own business, Marcia’s greatest success came as a result of designing the employee development program for a semiconductor manufacturing company facing bankruptcy. Within three years, the company turned around and became the #1 stock market success in the United States when they went public in 1993.

Excerpts from her books Outsmart Your Brain, Wander Woman, and her latest, The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs have appeared in many places including Harvard Management Review, Fortune.com, CNN.com, Psychology Today and The Wall Street Journal and she has appeared on ABC World News.

Marcia’s doctoral degree is in organizational psychology with a research emphasis on the challenges and needs of high-achievers. She also holds two masters degrees in education and communications.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my second interview of Marcia.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write the Discomfort Zone?

Reynolds: Originally, I thought of writing a book for coaches looking to learn more advanced skills beyond the basics. As a long-time assessor for the International Coach Federation and a number of coaching schools, I found that coaches stopped short of taking risks in their conversations, keeping them from facilitating the breakthroughs in thinking needed to be assessed at a Mastery level. When I mentioned my desire to codify and teach what Master Coaches do in a book to my editor, he said, “Write the book for leaders, the coaches will buy it.” Of course! I have been teaching leadership classes for over 30 years. If I could teach these skills to leaders, and demonstrate in case studies the amazing results they would get if they committed to using the skills, then I had the opportunity to change the nature of conversations in the workplace. This has become my purpose. The Discomfort Zone is my vehicle for the large-scale change I would love to be a part of.

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

Reynolds: The chapter where I teach how to listen from your heart and gut as well as your head was born out of my research while writing the book. I had discovered the science behind intuition some years ago. But creating the actual exercises that teach this skill seemed to be the magic I needed to bring the idea of intuition out of being “fluff” to an actual and measurable leadership competency.

Since I wrote this chapter, I have been leading people through the exercise in workshops around the world. In each session, the majority of people have head-snapping revelations too. There is no better payoff for someone who has been teaching leaders for decades, to find a skill that can actually create a “wow” factor in the classroom, enough that the students will absolutely take what they learn with them out into the workplace. This is very fulfilling for me.

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

Reynolds: I originally had more neuroscience up front, explaining why these conversations based on insight formation are far more effective that telling people what to do or scaring them into doing something else. My editor reminded me that I had to get into the “how to” much more quickly. If they buy the book, they already know that what I’m trying to say is important. And, the average reader wants to get to the good stuff quickly. So as usual, I had to cut pages from the beginning of the book. After that, the book flowed as planned.

Morris: What advice do you have for supervisors who are very uncomfortable when struggling to prepare for what is almost certain to be a complicated (perhaps contentious) conversation with a direct report?

Reynolds: A good practice is to choose an emotion you want to feel before the conversation. Select one word to use as an emotional anchor you can go back to when your impatience, anger, or fear arises. Consider what you want the other person to feel—inspired, hopeful, or courageous? Then occasionally remind yourself to feel this emotion too. Or maybe you know you need to feel calm, caring, or bold. Choose one emotion word that you can breathe into your body to help you stay focused on the result you want.

Remember that if you are angry or disappointed with the person, they won’t be open to having a conversation with you. They will likely be defensive in return. You need to set and maintain a positive emotional tone.

Also, consider the regard you are holding for the person right now. You have to believe in the person’s potential even if they had disappointed or angered you. They have to feel you respect them to stay open to being with you in the conversation. Consider what the person has done well in the past and what is possible in the future. Hold the person in high regard even before you enter the conversation. They will sense your hope for them even if the conversation feels difficult.

Morris: Let’s say that such a conversation occurs and goes well. Then what? Follow-up by the supervisor? By the direct report?

Reynolds: If you follow the DREAM model in the book, the acronym DREAM stands for these activities:

D = determine what the person wants as a desired outcome of the conversation

R = reflect on assumptions, beliefs, and reactions as the person tells his or her view of the situation (hold up a mental mirror by affirming what the person thinks and feels)

E = explore what needs, desires, disappointments, and fears could be interfering or blocking a different perception

A = acknowledge the emerging awareness

M = make sure there is a plan or commitment for what is next

The M ensures there will be some sort of follow-up, but you will determine these together. You will ask them to clearly state their next step, even if it is to give the conversation more thought before getting back to you. Then together you will determine if and when the next conversation will be.

Morris: My own opinion is that much of the counsel you provide could also be helpful to parents as well as to teachers and coaches who enter a discomfort zone when addressing behavior issues with young people. What do you think?

Reynolds: Whenever I teach these skills to leaders, they always ask the same question, “Can I use this as a parent?” I believe anytime you have the opportunity to help people think more broadly for themselves and discover solutions on their own, you can use The Discomfort Zone skills. The book is useful for coaches, parents, consultants, teachers, and friends as well as leaders.

Morris: Back to basics. What is a discomfort zone?

Reynolds: In order to define who we are and make sense of the world around us, our brains develop constructs and rules that we strongly protect without much thought. When someone asks you why you did something, you immediately come up with an ad hoc answer that fits the situation even if the response doesn’t make complete sense. These quick interpretations actually constrain the brain, making human beings narrow-minded by nature.

To help someone think differently about a situation, you have to disturb this automatic processing. This is best done by challenging the beliefs that created the frames and surfacing the underlying fears, needs, and desires that are keeping the constructs in place. Through reflective statements and questions, you can help someone actively explore, examine and change their beliefs and behavior. This is what I call having a Discomfort Zone conversation.
Then, when you make people stop and think about what they are saying, their brain will frantically try to make sense of what they are now seeing, causing a moment of discomfort for everyone involved. Then a burst of adrenaline could cause an emotional reaction, anything from nervous laughter to anger before an insight emerges. If you act on this moment, you have a chance to solidify the new awareness. If not, a strong ego may work backward to justify the previous behavior.

The Discomfort Zone is the moment of uncertainty where people are most open to learning. Leaders who use these skills provide a chance for the person to develop a new perspective, see a different solution to their problem, and potentially grow as a person.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

To read the first interview, please click here.

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

Her website

To go directly to download resources and read about The Discomfort Zone, please click here.

You can rate your ability to deal with discomfort by clicking here.

Tips for trainers and mentor coaches on how to teach the techniques in The Discomfort Zone: Please click here.

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

Dick and Emily Axelrod: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

AxelrodsDick 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 my interview of the Axelsons.

* * *

Before discussing Terms of Engagement and then Let’s Stop Meeting Like This, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Dick: This is a hard question. I’ve had many professional teachers from whom I’ve learned a lot about people and change, but as I reflect on this I believe the roots of who I am took place with my father.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from my dad that I carry with me today.

o Do what you love: My father manufactured model airplanes. He took his hobby and made it into a successful business. His work was an extension of who he was.

o Work is dignified: No matter what anyone does, their work should be treated with respect.

o Treat everyone with respect: This is a companion to work is dignified. Both the work and the person doing the work deserve respect.

o Stand up for what you believe: My father single-handedly stopped a race riot by saying no to a group of organizers who came to our house to enlist his support for creating the riot.

o Take care of your family: My father’s will had provisions for the care of his mother-in-law, something he didn’t have to do.

o It’s possible to be a friendly competitor—this is an abundant world where everyone can make a living: My dad had personal relationships with his biggest competitors. In fact his biggest competitor came to Emily’s and my wedding.

o Honesty: Be ethical and honest in all your personal and business relationships.

o It pays to be ignorant: Today it might be stated as, “Have an inquiring mindset.” What he meant was you don’t have to have all the answers, and you can learn a lot by listening to others.

o Personal responsibility: When I was a teenager, my dad told me that if I got a girl pregnant he would not support my family. That was his way of saying that you have to take personal responsibility for what you do.

o Support your friends: If you were my dad’s friend, he would be there for you no matter what. If a widow in Toledo, Ohio needed help, our whole family took a trip to Toledo. If a friend was sick or dying, Dad would drop what he was doing to be with them. If a friend were out of work, he would find a job for him in his company or help that person make connections so they could find work.

o Stick-to-it-iveness: My father spent ten years developing a product called monokote that revolutionized how people covered and painted airplanes. Instead of covering your airplane with paper and then applying many coats of “dope” to get a shiny finish, with monokote (a mylar material) and a heat gun you could put a finish on your plane in a matter of minutes instead of hours. You also didn’t smell up the house, which my mother hated. Dad also invented a heat gun to apply the product because none existed in the market place. There is another lesson here, which is to find out the problems customers have when they use your products and then invent new ways to help them resolve those problems. In this case, time and disgruntled family members who didn’t like the house smelling like a paint factory.

Emily: Besides my parents, one of the first teachers to mention human relations to me was a ninth-grade English teacher: Ms. Fanny Burnett. Every week we had a human relations lesson. This stuck with me through the years and was reinforced through the youth group advisors at church, volunteers in the girl scouts, and other teachers along the way. Another important teacher was Sandra Hammond who is a therapist and Buddhist teacher with whom I studied for 10 years learning her Character Work method and being in a study group with her. She combined the study of Buddhism and family therapy. Also, Dick Axelrod probably has been the greatest influence. We have worked and grown together for 35 years. He is completely honest with me and I trust his feedback.

The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Emily: At first, my family, then the girl scouts as they taught me I could do anything I worked hard to do and really wanted. A chemistry teacher in high school turned me on to science. The women’s college I attended in NC added to that with leadership training and confidence building. Dick Axelrod, Peter Block, Marv Weisbord, Kathy Dannemiller, Peter Koestenbaum, Barbara Bunker, Billie Alban, and my own curiosity built on this foundation.

Dick: Richard Heckler. Years ago Emily and I studied body therapy for two years in a group of people with Richard. This group was so strong that it stayed together for many years following the completion of our formal studies. In this group I learned the connection between mind and body, and how what is happening with the body is as important as what is happening with the mind and emotions. While we were there to learn the mechanics of doing body therapy—how to help people access different thoughts and emotions through touch—I also learned a more important lesson: the power of presence. By this I mean what it means to be with another person so they know they have your undivided attention. Can you see the world through their eyes? Can you experience what they might be experience? Can you attend to their breathing out and breathing in, the rush of color to their face, the nervous movement of their feet? Can you absorb this information in a non-judgmental way and just be with the person? This ability to be with another person in a non-judgmental way, recognizing they are doing the very best they can is something I use everyday whether I’m consulting to individuals, teams, or organizations.

I learned that paying attention is an act of leadership. What and how you pay attention matters.

The other big lesson was that you access different information through the body. One time we were working with a group of about 100 people using our Conference Model® process to redesign the organization. There were three different alternatives that people were trying to evaluate. We had the participants create living organization charts. What we did was outline the organization charts on the floor and then had people stand in the various configurations to look at who they were working with and who they needed to work with. We did this for each configuration and then asked folks to identify the chart where they felt most comfortable. I remember one person who was in a matrix standing there with her arms outstretched caught between two organizations, talking about how painful it was to be in this place in the organization. In actuality the group developed a fourth option as a result of their discussion. Identifying the pain and actually trying out what it might be like to be in the various organizational structures could not occur through talking; people had to experience it. I doubt if the group would have ever come up with the fourth option had they not experienced it.

Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Dick: I was a line manager for Illinois Bell, in a fast-track management development program, responsible for repair service for one part of Chicago. My group was the pilot organization development group for the company. The consultants did basic team-building with us and as a result, our group rose to be 1st or 2nd in every measurable category. The thing I felt proudest about was that every day we put 85 trucks on the street and we went a year without a vehicle accident. We didn’t do any special safety training. All we did was change the relationship between the telephone workers and their supervisors.

Shortly afterwards, the company started an internal organization development consulting group and I volunteered to be part of that group. I was also getting my MBA at the University of Chicago and decided to take up Organization Behavior as my area of concentration. From Illinois Bell I went to General Foods and became the OD manager for Chicago where I worked on implementing self-directed work teams. In 1981 I left General Foods to start the Axelrod Group.

Had my group at Illinois Bell not been chosen as the pilot group, my career as it is today may not have happened.

Parallel to this story is the decision not to join my father’s business. All my life I was groomed as the heir apparent. In fact, working at Illinois Bell was part of my father’s management training program for me. He wanted me to go out and work for big companies and learn how they did things so that when I took over his company, I could bring that learning to the world of model airplane manufacturing.

I took seriously my father’s admonition to do what I loved, and when I found out that organization development consulting is what I love, he never had a problem with that. Even though it meant I would not take over the business he built.

Emily: I don’t recall an epiphany as I have always looked for better ways of doing things no matter what we were doing, from parenting to ways of working. If there was a turning point, it was Dick’s heart surgery. I then had to take over the business side of our company as I was in charge. That a commitment to learning and working more much more determination.

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

Emily: My formal education gave me a wonderful foundation. My social work and family systems work certainly helped in understanding systems and the communication needed to have a successfully functioning system. The concept of emotional safety in order for people to be honest and learning how to language things positively all help. The two things I believe in strongly are learning and choice. This work is about both of these.

Dick: I was lucky enough to go to the University of Chicago on the GI bill. Much of what I learned at the UofC is now obsolete. But what is not obsolete is that at the University of Chicago I learned how to learn. I learned how to think critically about ideas and not to accept that just because someone wrote a book it was true. What was great about a UofC education was that in every course you didn’t just have one text, you had several, and most of the time the authors espoused different theories. It is this learning how to learn that I think has allowed me to continue to stay relevant in our fast-changing world.

At our graduation, in Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, our commencement speaker said, “You think you are getting your business degree today that will allow you to become leaders in the world of business and that you will do. But UofC graduates do more than that, they teach.” He went on to say, “I predict that most of you will at some point in your career teach either informally in your work setting or formally at schools and universities.”

One of the biggest thrills of my life has been to teach Crisis Leadership at the University of Chicago.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Dorothy Leonard: An interview by Bob Morris

LeonardDorothy Leonard, the William J. Abernathy Professor of Business Administration Emerita, joined the Harvard faculty in 1983 after teaching for three years at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has taught MBA courses in managerial leadership, corporate capabilities, new product and process design, technology strategy and innovation management. At Harvard, M.I.T., and for corporations such as Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, and 3M, Professor Leonard has conducted executive courses on a wide range of innovation-related topics such as cross-functional coordination during new product development, technology transfer and knowledge management. She has initiated and served as faculty chair for executive education programs such as Leveraging Knowledge for the 21st Century, Leading Product Development, and Enhancing Corporate Creativity. She also served as a Director of Research for the Harvard Business School and Director of Research and Knowledge Programs for Harvard Business School’s non-profit organization, HBS Interactive.

These are her major works, all published by Harvard Business Review Press: When Sparks Fly: Igniting Creativity in Groups. Boston: Harvard Business School Press (1999) and Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Business Wisdom (2005), both co-authored with Walter Swap; also, Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation (1995) and, most recently, Critical Knowledge Transfer, co-authored with Swap and Gavin Barton (2015).

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Dorothy.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Critical Knowledge Transfer, and do so in collaboration with Walter Swap and Gavin Barton?

Leonard:: After Walter and I wrote Deep Smarts, which was largely research and theory-driven, we were approached by managers who were interested in the concept and wanted to know how to use it in their companies. They knew that employees in their organizations had much “business-critical, experience-based knowledge” (the short definition of deep smarts) but the question was how to develop more, retain what underlay their company’s success—and pass it along to the next generation. So it was time to make our research very practical, to give specific guidance to managers. Gavin and I formed a business to do just that—to help businesses identify and retain the expertise in the heads and hands of their most experienced employees.

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


Leonard: The research that we did for the book was pretty revealing. While almost every one of the CIOs, CTOs and top HR executives we surveyed and interviewed said that loss of important knowledge was more critical today than five years ago, relatively few said that their organization was doing a lot about it. The perennial challenge that all managers face is that urgent issues drive out important ones. Executives can see a problem that could turn extremely serious just a couple years down the road—but be overwhelmed by fighting the latest fire. It’s not easy to invest in the future.

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

Leonard: Our first draft was more academic (after all, all three of us are teachers!) but two influences shaped the book into more of a practical guide: 1) our editors at HBR and 2) the Leonard-Barton Group’s clients. As we worked directly with managers in the field and created the techniques they needed to transfer deep smarts, we incorporated more and more tools into the book.

Morris: In your opinion, by what process should the most important knowledge transfers be identified?

Leonard: It depends upon the form of the knowledge that is deemed critical: explicit (readily available in documents such as design rules, reports, presentations); implicit (not yet articulated, but can be made explicit by highly experienced people as rules of thumb, known stages or processes); tacit (not articulated, and made explicit only with considerable effort). These three different types of knowledge require different transfer processes. And often the tacit knowledge is actually the most important, because it is proprietary, can’t be purchased on the open market and is not easily imitated.

Morris: By what process are transfers most effectively completed?

Leonard: Explicit knowledge is relatively easier to transfer because it is captured in a form that can be made accessible to other users. Implicit knowledge can be transferred through skillfully conducted interviews—especially if the interviewers are possible successors who have been trained in using proven protocols. While some tacit knowledge will become explicit through such smart questioning, the best method for transferring the tacit knowledge buried in experts’ heads is through an accelerated apprenticeship, or what we think of as knowledge mentoring. The OPPTY™ process described in the book is highly structured, focuses on just those deep smarts that the business requires and provides measurable accountability for the transfer.

Morris: What seems to be the single greatest barrier to the success of such transfers? How best to avoid or overcome that barrier?

Leonard:
Time is the scarcest resource. Deeply smart people and teams have developed their expertise over decades of work; these experts are the “go-to” people in the organization. Consequently, their time is in great demand. There are two partial solutions to this problem. The first solution is to recognize existing opportunities for transfer throughout the workday. Once experts and potential learners focus on identifying those opportunities and apply techniques for effective transfer, knowledge transfer gets built into the work. The second solution is to conduct smart questioning over lunch or during a hallway conversation—whenever there is a 10-minute opportunity for interaction. Most important to the success of knowledge transfer, however, is managers’ recognition that it is essential to the future of the company—and therefore requires some investment of time.

Morris: Of all the tools that are now available for managing a company’s “deep smarts,” which seems to be the most difficult to master? Why?


Leonard: The knowledge mentoring through OPPTY™ mentioned earlier requires discipline and time. We believe that it also yields the most valuable, longest lasting benefit. Eliciting knowledge during that process or during smart questioning does require attention and skills. We find that some people have very good observation, questioning, and reflection skills—all of which are essential. Others, for a variety of reasons, do not persist long enough or dig deep enough to make tacit knowledge explicit.

Morris: In your own opinion, are knowledge transfers easier to complete today, more difficult, or about the same as they were ten years ago? Please explain.

Leonard:
 
The need today is greater because of the wave of Baby Boomer retirements, when people are walking out the door with incredible riches in their heads. So one would think knowledge transfer would be a priority. But this greater need conflicts with the greater time constraints we all face. The constant pings of our ubiquitous smart phones and email demand immediate attention.

Morris: What are the most important dos and don’ts to keep in mind when assessing the transfer of deep smarts?
Leonard: Because they are based on experience, deep smarts are best transferred among people, face-to-face, including use of technology to augment or substitute for physical presence when people are geographically distant from each other. Some experience is well captured in video or even text—but without the opportunity to question, reflect on, and discuss what the learner reads, hears or sees–much know-how is lost.

Morris: What are the most important dos and don’ts to keep in mind when selecting analytics to measure the nature and extent of impact of critical knowledge transfers?

Leonard: One pitfall is to confuse the level of using information systems (either input of information or retrieval of it) with knowledge transfer. Accessing a piece of information does not equate to comprehension or the ability to apply that bit of information to other situations.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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


Critical Knowledge Transfer link

Deep Smarts link

HBS faculty page link

LinkedIn link

 

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

Marcia Reynolds: Part 1 of a second interview by Bob Morris

ReynoldsDr. Marcia Reynolds, president of Covisioning LLC, works with clients around the world who seek to develop effective leaders. She understands organizational cultures, what blocks communication and innovation, and what is needed to bring people together for better results. She has coached leaders, delivered leadership, coaching and emotional intelligence programs, and spoken at conferences for clients in 34 countries. She has also presented at many universities including Harvard Kennedy School and Cornell University,

Prior to starting her own business, Marcia’s greatest success came as a result of designing the employee development program for a semiconductor manufacturing company facing bankruptcy. Within three years, the company turned around and became the #1 stock market success in the United States when they went public in 1993.

Excerpts from her books Outsmart Your Brain, Wander Woman, and her latest, The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs have appeared in many places including Harvard Management Review, Fortune.com, CNN.com, Psychology Today, and The Wall Street Journal and she has appeared on ABC World News.

Marcia’s doctoral degree is in organizational psychology with a research emphasis on the challenges and needs of high-achievers. She also holds two masters degrees in education and communications.

Here is a brief excerpt from Part 1 of my second interview of Marcia. To read all of Part 1, please click here.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing The Discomfort Zone, a few general questions. First, to what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Reynolds: I am grateful for the combination of significant life experiences with my education. My degrees have given me a deeper understanding of the value of my experiences, including the failures, disappointments, and choices that could have destroyed my life at a young age. In addition to better understanding human behavior, including my own, my education gives me the gifts of analysis and compassion. The combination of street and formally acquired knowledge helped me to be a good coach and teacher for my clients. Now with years of experience in helping leaders improve their emotional intelligence and communication skills, I was able to write the book, The Discomfort Zone, bringing all that I know together to help people have powerful conversations that make a difference in each other’s lives.

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.”

Reynolds: There is nothing more satisfying than discovering solutions to our most difficult problems on our own. Yet when we are stuck seeing things in one way, it is very difficult to see outside of our boxes. Leaders who master the skills of helping others think through their blind spots, attachments, and resistance are not only effective, they are the most remembered and revered.

In the book, Synchronicity, Joseph Jaworski said the most successful leaders are those who participate in helping others create new realities. The leader engages in conversations that bring to light a person’s filters and frames. When the factors that frame the meaning of a situation are revealed, the view of what is true changes and becomes clear.

Think about it. If I were to ask you to recall someone who changed your life by something they said, who comes to mind? My guess is that they said something that challenged you to be more and do more, more than you thought you could on your own. In response, you might not have jumped for joy in the moment. But you always remember the leader who saw you, heard you, and helped you to see yourself and the world in a bigger way.

These are Discomfort Zone conversations, where new ideas are birthed. The moment might be uncomfortable, but in this moment, profound and lasting learning happens. And the person realizes that in the end, they discovered the solutions themselves.

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….’”

Reynolds: I do think curiosity is underrated, that curiosity is the predecessor of great discoveries whether we are learning about the world or about something in ourselves. In Discomfort Zone conversations, the leader listens with curiosity, listening from a “that’s odd” or “tell me more” perspective. Then when they reflect back what they hear, the person could have an epiphany but they are just as likely to respond, “Of course, I should have recognized this long ago” which could lead to just as important of a shift as the epiphany. Curiosity over what is odd, doesn’t make sense, or irregular is a great start to new discoveries.

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

Reynolds: Drucker is correct but when we have our heads down, focused on our work, we rarely have the perspective or courage to step back and see that persistence could be the enemy of progress. According to Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, it is also not our habit to slow down and consider all the possibilities in front of us. That is why having a coach or a leader trained in using a coaching approach can help us assess what we are doing where we won’t or can’t do this for ourselves. The leaders who know how to asks the questions—with curiosity, not negative judgment—that make us stop and question ourselves help us to be more effective. In the end, they help us grow our mental capacity as well. The best leaders are the ones who develop people’s minds as well as their skills.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

To read my first interview of Marcia, please click here.

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

Her website

To go directly to download resources and read about The Discomfort Zone, please click here.

You can rate your ability to deal with discomfort by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let a Group Dynamic Quash Critical Thinking

NewHeader

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

* * *

People often censor themselves when working in groups because they don’t want to be punished for voicing an opinion that differs from everyone else’s.

Leaders sometimes even promote this self-censorship by expressing their own views early on. (People don’t like challenging the boss.) So you need to show that you’re willing to hear different perspectives and disagreements.

o Try not to take a firm position at the outset to make space for more discussion and debate.

o And encourage critical thinking as soon as your group comes together so members will be more willing to contribute and less likely to keep silent.

o If people still aren’t participating, try restructuring incentives to reward group – not individual – success.

People will be more likely to jump in if they know that they have something to gain from a good group decision.

Adapted from “Making Dumb Groups Smarter” by Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie.

To check out that resource and join the discussion, please click here.

I also highly recommend their recently published book, Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter (Harvard Business Review Press, December 2014).

Also, you may wish to check out an anthology, Management Tips from Harvard Business Review, by clicking here.

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

Small Move, Big Change: A book review by Bob Morris

Small MoveSmall Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently
Caroline L. Arnold
Penguin Books (2014)

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

I selected the observation by Aristotle to serve as the title of my review because I learned long ago, after spending still another January helping to pave the road to hell, that my habits had again defeated my New Year’s resolutions. Caroline Arnold wrote this book in response to a question many people continue to ask: “Why is it so difficult keep commitments, to follow through on resolutions, to make the changes that we know will achieve our personal growth and professional development?”

Years ago, after numerous struggles and frustrations, Arnold tried something different: “I assigned myself a small but meaningful behavioral change — a microresolution — and I succeeded in changing myself immediately. Yet it was only after succeeding at several microresolutions modeled on the first that I realized I had stumbled onto a method for making targeted mini-commitments that succeeded virtually every time.” She had established a new pattern of behavior, a habit.

As I began to work my way through Arnold’s brilliant book, I was reminded of another, The small BIG, in which Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini explain how and why small changes can spark big influence” in relationships with others. As they explain, their goal “has been to provide a collection of small BIGs that you could add to your persuasion toolkit. Small changes, informed by recent persuasion science that anyone…can employ to make a big difference when persuading and communicating with others.” One key point is that small BIGs must be used strategically. I suggest that a sniper’s mindset is needed rather than a carpet bomber’s approach.

So, we ask, why do resolutions fail? Arnold suggests five reasons, none of which is a head-snapper:

1. We make the wrong resolutions whereas microresolutions focus on doing, not being. Being different follows, rather than precedes, deliberate action.

2. We depend solely on willpower to succeed whereas a microresolution is designed to reform a precise autopilot activity and requires little willpower to succeed.

3. We’re too impatient whereas, when completing microresolutions, the key to lasting transformation is not speed or force but nurture.

4. We underestimate our mental and emotional resistance to change whereas microresolutions foster self-awareness and expose the hidden attitudes that thwart success.

5. We expect to fail whereas microresolutions are easy to keep.

Just as it is so easy to make a list of resolutions, it is just as easy to make a list of reasons and key points. It is important to note that, in her Introduction and first few chapters, Arnold identifies the WHAT and then devotes most of the material that follows to explaining HOW to use microresolutions to transform a life permanently.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the scope and depth of information, insights, and counsel that Caroline Arnold provides. However, I hope I have indicated why I think so highly of her book. Ultimately, its value to those who read it will depend almost entirely on the nature and extent of each reader’s commitment to making and then keeping a sequence of microresolutions that achieve and then sustain habitual success.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Gazelles Thrive in the Best of All Possible Business Worlds?

GazelleThe term “gazelle” refers to the classic entrepreneur of myth and reality, someone who starts a new business venture (or a new way of doing business) and aims for it to explode into a white-hot phenomenon such as Home Depot, Facebook, Jenny Craig, Netflix, Under Armour, and Instagram.

The term “gazelle” was coined by the economist David Birch. His identification of gazelle companies followed from his 1979 report titled “The Job Generation Process” (MIT Program on Neighborhood and Regional Change), wherein he identified small companies as the biggest creators of new jobs in the economy. In 1994, however, Birch revised his thesis, isolating job-creating companies he called “gazelles.” Characterized less by size than by rapid expansion, Birch defined the species as enterprises whose sales doubled every four years. By his estimates, these firms, roughly 4% of all U.S. companies, were responsible for 70% of all new jobs. The gazelles beat out the elephants (like Walmart) and the mice (corner barbershops). When you hear politicians say, “Small businesses create most of the new jobs,” they’re really talking about young and growing firms. They are talking about gazelles.

Unsurprisingly, gazelles are rare creatures. A 2008 study by Zoltan Acs, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Public Policy at George Mason University, found that a mere 2% to 3% of all companies were high-impact firms. Elephants and mice cut jobs, and the deeper they slice the higher unemployment rises. But when it comes to job creation, they are almost irrelevant.

In Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too), David Butler and Linda Tischler explain how design with purpose can create substantial value when scale and agility are combined. This is precisely the “secret sauce” of Gazelles’ success. Consider these observations by Butler and Tischman:

“If you’re a big, established company, you’ve got scale, which enables you to expand almost effortlessly from Boston to Bangalore. Over time, you’ve built up powerful assets — expertise, brands, customers, distribution, channels, relationships — that most startups could only dream about. Scale is not your problems. Your problem is agility — you must be smarter, faster, leaner than the startup that’s got your industry in its crosshairs — targeted for disruption…If you’re a startup, you’ve got a different problem. You’ve got agility, nothing but agility. Trying new business models, repositioning your company, developing new features, or even whole new products within days — things big companies can only dream about — are not your problem.

“For you, building the right team, deciding which metrics matter, acquiring customers, and securing funding are what keep you up at night. Scale is your problem — doing what it takes to expand your startup into new geographies, including the land of profitability, is your challenge. That’s why most startups fail — only a dispiriting one out of ten succeeds.”

Leaders in all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be, need to use the principles, techniques, and resources of design thinking to combine both scale and agility throughout their organization, at all levels and in all areas. How? Almost everything they need to know is provided by David Butler and Linda Tischler in their book.

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

Be•Know•Do: A book review by Bob Morris

Be:Know:DoBe•Know•Do: Leadership the Army Way: Adapted from the Official Army Leadership Manual
United States Army (Author); Frances Hesselbein and Eric K. Shinseki (Introduction), and Richard E. Cavanagh (Foreword)
Jossey-Bass/Leader to Leader Institute; 1st edition (2004)

How to develop leaders who have character, competence, knowledge, and results-driven initiative

I recently re-read this book, curious to know to what extent its content remains relevant. My conclusion? It is even more relevant today than it was when first published in 2004. In Richard E. Cavanagh’s Foreword, he recalls a discussion during dinner with Peter Drucker and Jack Welch who shared the same opinion that the United States military services do the best job developing leaders. What we have in this volume is an adaptation by Frances Hesselbein and General Eric K. Shinseki (USA Ret.) of Field Manual 22-100, Army Leadership, with assistance from Alan Shrader. Hesselbein and Shinseki also wrote the Introduction. The material is carefully organized within seven chapters, followed by a Conclusion that reviews the most important points, correctly noting the unique and compelling role that the U.S. Army has played since June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized enlistment of riflemen to serve the United Colonies for one year.

With regard to the book’s title, “Army leadership begins with what the leader must Be, the values and attributes that shape a leader’s character…People want leaders who are honest, competent, forward-looking, and inspiring…People willingly follow only those who know what they are doing. One of the quickest ways for a leader to lose trust and commitment of followers is to demonstrate incompetence…Character and competence, the Be and the Know, underlie everything a leader does. But character and knowledge – while absolutely necessary – are not enough. Leaders act; they Do…They solve problems, overcome obstacles, strengthen teamwork, and achieve objectives. They use leadership to produce results.”

I realize that these concepts seem simple. In one sense they are. However, in this context, I am reminded of what Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” The challenge to any organization when developing leaders is to guide those involved to the other side of complexity.” The composite of excerpts from Be•Know•Do identifies core concepts, to be sure, but it also describes the character, competence, knowledge, and results-driven initiative that the U.S. Army seeks to develop within every one of its soldiers, regardless of rank. “No one is only a leader; each person in an organization is also a follower and part of a team. In fact, the old distinction between leaders and followers has blurred; complex twenty-first-century organizations require individuals to move seamlessly from one role to another in an organization, from leadership to `followership,’ and back again.”

Hesselbein and Shinseki are to be commended for their skillful adaptation of Field Manual 22-100, Army Leadership, but also for the inclusion within the narrative of relevant material from sources outside the U.S. Army organization. For example, they quote prominent business thinkers throughout the narrative: James Kouzes and Barry Posner on leadership by example (page 24), John Gardner on the importance of a shared vision (page 30), Patrick Lencioni on teamwork (page 86), and John Kotter on a leader’s “quest for learning” (page 132). Readers will also appreciate the provision of various “Exhibits” such as 5.1 that provides a brilliant illustration of Team-Building Stages.

Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Frances Hesselbein’s other works and the wealth of resources available at the Leader to Leader Institute, a non-profit and tax exempt organization. Also, Warfighting: The U.S. Marine Corps Book of Strategy (Tactics for Managing Confrontation) published in 2004.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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