First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

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

Karl Ronn: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

RonnKarl Ronn is the managing director of Innovation Portfolio Partners. Based in Palo Alto, he helps Fortune 500 companies create new businesses or helps entrepreneurs start category creating new companies. He is a co-founder of VC-backed Butterfly Health that sells Butterfly body liners nationally. He is also developing a software company building diagnostic competency for physicians using virtual human simulations of top medical school cases.

Previously, he was vice president of Research and Development and general manager of New Business for Procter & Gamble, where he was one of the key innovators behind Febreze, Swiffer, and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. In addition to these brands he was responsible for the Global R&D for Pharmaceuticals and Over-the-Counter Health Care including Actonel, Vicks, Prilosec, and In-home Diagnostic Tests. He has also managed Beauty Care businesses and started Diaper and Maxipad businesses across Latin America.

He is on the advisory boards of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Toledo. He is a member of TED conference and has been a speaker at the Mayo Clinic, Consumer Medical Conference, AMA and other innovation forums. He is the co-author with Bob Johansen of The Reciprocity Advantage: A New Way to Partner for Innovation and Growth, published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

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

* * *

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

Ronn: I have about 10 people who are my personal sounding board to help me. They are family, friends, business leaders, and academics. I use them to make sure I’m growing, to respond to ideas, and to challenge me. This helps me decide where to spend my time.

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.

Ronn: I’ve had multiple turning points. While in college I was an intern on the executive floor and learned that senior management needed proposals to strengthen their ideas; they didn’t have all the answers. Then when studying finance part-time I realized that R&D risk could be managed by applying the tools used in finance leading me to develop the risk classifications discussed in Chapter 9. Lastly, by asking people who had known me for many years I was able to determine that my most valuable role was as an Angel, the person who plays a nurturing role between inventors and senior management, to nurture different in kind ideas through the “valley of death.” This role was part of what I did at P&G and is what I now do full time.

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

Ronn: My engineering degree taught me to be a problem solver and how to learn new fields of science rapidly. Later I studied finance to learn how companies really made decisions so I could build better rationales for funding new developments. While I was studying capital asset pricing models and modern portfolio theory I realized that nobody had created the equivalent of stocks and bonds for the different types of R&D investments. One would never compare a stock to a bond. Instead we balance a portfolio. Yet companies pick favorite projects and compare incremental projects to new business developments. To achieve consistent growth I needed to determine what an R&D portfolio’s structure needed to be. Chapter 9 of this book reflects the solution to that problem. The 3×3 matrix shows the distinct types of R&D investments and discusses how to balance them to achieve consistent topline growth.

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?

Ronn: I was fortunate that my engineering internship happened to be on the executive floor of a power company, Toledo Edison. First hand experience taught me that Senior Management wanted me to help them create better answers. The worst case would be they would just say no, the best case was they would change their plans. I was also there when Three Mile Island happened (to another company). We had a sister plant of the same design. So, I was inside of a major breaking story and I could see “the fog of war” requiring agile decision making with incomplete information. So, when I started work at Procter & Gamble after college this gave me the courage to propose new approaches and shape projects even as a new hire.

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

Ronn: I’ve been lucky to meet and work with many of the key thinkers on innovation. Their books are good, but the discussions have been more critical. Clayton Christensen, Dick Foster, Scott Anthony, Tim Brown, David and Tom Kelley, Roger Martin, Mark Fuller, Douglas Englebart, John Kotter, Ted Levitt, Nicholas Negroponte, Neil Gershenfeld, Rosalind Picard, Rita McGrath. If you choose to read their books, read their first book which will show their initial insights and their latest to see how that has changed.

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.”

Ronn: Be a servant leader. Empathy is the key skill. Listen for a problem and then help the person with the problem create a solution. We have a mythology of single people who made a difference. Each of us has a role to play. Be a key member of the team and lead when it is your time to lead and follow the rest of the time.

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.”

Ronn: I’m not this cynical. You don’t need to worry about people stealing ideas that are big because they are too hard to solve alone. In Silicon Valley new ideas are discussed in coffee shops without any privacy. If the people at the next table can solve the problem, you should partner with them. The problem is that most ideas are small. Those require protection because being first is their only advantage, and a short-term one.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Book link

Twitter links

@kpronn

@ReciprocityAdv

For more information about future forecasts, please click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter F. DiGiammarino: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

D13_041_019Peter DiGiammarino is a senior executive with 35 years of success leading businesses that target tight public and private markets around the world. In addition to running companies, he serves public, private, private-equity-owned, and venture-capital-backed software and services firms as an adviser and/or board member and has consistently helped them to achieve their full potential to perform and grow. As a leader who has served successful companies in the role of CEO, Peter knows how to develop and lead teams of high-powered, driven professionals. His emphasis is to create and implement plans that are true to the organization’s market, offerings, competence, and purpose.

Peter currently serves as Chairman of Compusearch and advises a dozen other organizations as CEO of IntelliVen. He is based in San Francisco, California. He is also adjunct professor in the Organization Development program at the University of San Francisco where the workbook he authored, Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World, is used to teach a course he developed on Organization Analysis and Strategy. That book was published by IntelliVen (July 2013).

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

* * *

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

DiGiammarino: My father. He and my mother raised six of us; I am the oldest of a generation on my father’s side. He was a high school teacher, football coach, and camp director who in mid-career got his PhD from Syracuse University in Education, became an assistant superintendent of a public school system, and taught at a teacher’s college. He guided us to be interested in new technology and tried constantly himself to use the latest and greatest to improve the work of teachers. His master’s thesis in 1954 was on the potential for the felt board to improve teaching. In the ‘60s he was the AV (Audio Visual) guy who brought home a projector and movies on reels for us to watch well before the days of VHS and DVRs, and in the ‘70s he led a team to design and implement a mini-computer based system to keep track of student data that is still ahead of its time.

He taught that a smart and motivated person could figure out how to do anything (work on a car, repair a washing machine, fix a computer) … and, further, that there is no point in figuring something out if you don’t also share it with others; starting with your siblings!

He had reservations about the big, bad business world so stayed in academia his entire career. We never seemed to have much money and I thought it must not be too hard to do well and vowed to one day have more than enough financially.

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

DiGiammarino: Charles Rossotti has been my career-long mentor. He was one of a team of five that left the group known as McNamara’s Whiz Kids in the ‘60s to start American Management Systems (AMS) in 1970. I joined 7-years later in an annual wave of aggressive MBA recruiting. We grew AMS to a $1B and 10,000 people over 20 years. As our CEO, Charles modeled constant experimentation, learning, growth, and performance with intelligence, teamwork, and drive.

In the mid-80s the $30M/year unit I had grown from start-up was underperforming relative to plan. Charles called on me more frequently to review status and plans but didn’t take over; instead he showed interest, confidence, and patience and offered help and support. He knew we could get back on track…and we went on to generate nearly $200M/year within a next decade.

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.

DiGiammarino: After 20 years at AMS felt I knew too much; every day people came to me with problems that I knew how to solve. I wasn’t learning any more. I wanted something new and figured it was time to run an entire company, not just a large business unit. In 1996 I let myself be recruited to be president and COO of a $200M public software company.

I quickly found that I had a lot more to learn. While I had been successful at AMS, it was almost too easy in an environment that was familiar and insular. I knew I had figured out some useful and important things about growing past the start-up phase and crossing over to being a credible business but needed to test, hone, and further develop my ideas before I could credibly share them with others. It was at this point that I began a systematic process to immerse myself in different companies, in different markets, at different stages of evolution, scale, and business model in order to enrich and apply anew what I had learned first at AMS.

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

DiGiammarino: I attended the University of Massachusetts for as an undergraduate because I was accepted only to UMass. I vowed that I would never let important things in life “happen to me” again. Instead, I would figure out what I wanted and then make it happen. On the last day of high school I decided to graduate in the top few percent at UMass and go to MIT for graduate school. Which is what I did.

At UMass I was accepted into a new interdisciplinary major for upper-class students who wanted to pursue an unconventional course of study. Even though the program was open only to juniors and seniors, I entered as a freshman because I only wanted to study computers and there was no other option for undergrads to take computer courses. I recruited as my advisor Dr. Wogrin, a 20-year veteran of teaching at Yale and Chair of the UMass Computer Science Department. He became interested in me and assisted me in developing a four-year plan to study math and economics (which is really applied math!) in order to prepare to someday study business (which is, after all, really applied economics!) rounded out with all the courses from the Masters Program in Computer Science.

For my senior project, which enabled me to graduate with honors, I designed, and led a team to implement, a system students could use online to find and register for courses that fulfilled specific requirements, such as being well-liked by other students, meeting a core requirement, and not held before 10:00 AM. In doing this I experienced first-hand the potential different disciplines have to create enormous value that did not previously exist when brought to together to bear on real-world problems.

From the interdisciplinary program I also learned to:

o Plan
o Be accountable to a plan
o Implement a governance structure; by having to review my progress against plan with my advisor twice a semester
o Master bureaucracy
Note: For example, I got the Computer Science Department and the interdisciplinary program to each pay half of the increase in costs relative to state school tuition to finance a semester of study at MIT in my junior year.
o Set high goals and then drive to achieve them no matter how lofty
o Follow through on commitments
o Work hard; because it generates worthy results and it is a waste of time and money not to
o Be comfortable being different
o Appreciate the value of outstanding counsel and advice
o Take full advantage of available resources

Conventional education tracks the best students to learn more and more about less and less as they go from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s and then on to a PhD in a subject area. The limit to this approach is that a student learns everything about nothing. Those that follow this path tend to be extraordinarily deep in their chosen specialty and remarkably inept on topics outside of it as they are intimidated by their own lack of knowledge relative to what they know in their field.

An interdisciplinary program prepares the best students:

o To learn a great deal in any field they want and so are not inclined to get good at only one subject but easily develop depths of competence in whatever they want or need to know.

o To be enriched by the insights, ideas and opportunities that unfold from the blending of competency depths, empowering them to synergize and innovate to create value far beyond what could previously have been imagined.

Upon graduation from UMass I went on to the MIT Sloan School of Management where I studied Information Systems, Strategy, and Organization Development (OD). I took all the OD classes I could because when I arrived I came across a study of alums 20-years out that said the number one course of study they wished they had had more of by far was OD! I had the opportunity to study with some of the second generation founders of the field including a course from Richard Beckhard and a class from Ed Schein.

* * *

To read the complete Part 1, please click here.

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

www.intelliven.com(my web site that features a blog of tips and tools for getting organizations on track to fulfill their potential to perform and grow; subscribe to receive 2-3 short posts per month at no cost)

www.skills2lead.com/Leadership-Skills-blog.html (sample vision, mission, values)

www.harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu (HBR: strategy & change)

www.leadership.wharton.upenn.edu (strategy & leading change)

www.theheartofchange.com(leading change)

www.wiley.com/nonprofit(management books for non-profits)

www.itulip.com(current assessment of national financial activity)

www.businessbecause.com (international site connecting MBAs and aspiring MBAs with key topics and each other)

www.boardsource.com (for nonprofits)

www.grove.com (graphic tools for strategy, change, et al)

www.ai.cwru.edu(appreciative inquiry)

www.balancedscorecard.org (evaluation and measurement)

www.eq.org (emotional intelligence)

www.thevaluescenter.com (cultural transformation/values)

www.mindtools.com(wheel of life, development tools for people and organizations)

www.ceoexchange.com(books and other resources for CEOs)

TWITTER accounts to consider following:

@IntelliVen
@BusinessBecause
@fastcompany
@harvardbiz
@brazencareerist

Formatted Version: Complete

Sunday, October 12, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Book on Organizing Change Features Three Key Principles

When Bill Lee and I wrote Organizing Change (San Francisco:  Pfeiffer-Jossey Bass, 2003), we did so from a large-scale perspective.  Our premise was that it is easier to consider change from a high-level such as a one that affects an entire organization, then, whittle it down to whatever level you want to use, such as a division, department, or unit.

While the magnitude of a change may differ by size, the principles do not.  As you read our book, you will find three major concerns that you want to be aware of for any change that you lead or initiate.  These are to be:

inclusive – go as deep as possible in the organizational charts of the areas affected by the change; get input from as many people as you can; it is difficult to argue against a change you helped create.  Remember what Covey said years ago – “without involvement there is not commitment.”  Make the change “our initiative” not “mine.”

systemic – consider how the change will affect all types of stakeholders; consider other departments or units in the organization, internal and external customers, consumers, and so forth.

systematic – organize the change phase by phase; decide who does what when;  get it right the first time, and you will not lose productivity while kicking off the change initiative.

When you lead change, you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s seat.  You make decisions that craft and create important paths that various stakeholders take to solve a problem, correct a difficulty, or make something  that is “good” even better.  What is important, however, is to know that you never begin with the change initiative.  You always begin with the recognition of a problem, issue, or uncomfortable situation.  That principle will remind you of John Kotter’s first step in his change process, which is URGENCY.   In fact, he wrote an entire book about that step, which you can purchase a synopsis of from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.

It is amazing how many people I have taught this process to in professional workshops and courses over the last ten years.  I remember the first one for Citi so well, as if it were yesterday.  Right now, we have two weeks to go in the MBA course “Leading Change” at the University of Dallas College of Business, where I use this book and teach practical implementation of the process.  In this course, we don’t talk about change – we make change.

I know it works.  We would not have had this many interested people if the process were unsuccessful.  Fortunately, I hear back from so many individuals who implement the program in their organizations, that I am inspired to continue to share it with others.

At Creative Communication Network, we offer two paths for change.   We do this in workshops, consulting, and coaching for both paths.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Take MANAGING CHANGE

if you want to:

Cope with change you didn’t create

Work in a change-friendly environment

Reduce personal anxiety about change

Produce an environment of freedom

Look for positive changes to implement

 

Take LEADING CHANGE

if you want to:

Reduce the impact of a problem

Design an organized change initiative

Gain commitment by influencing others involved in the change

Boost the positive impact of change on those affected by it

Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the change

——————————————————————————————————————————-

We’re really excited about these programs.  We will be going into companies as well as conducting public workshops.  Complete information, including agendas, outlines, objectives, pricing, and other details are available by calling (972) 980-0383 or sending an e-Mail to:  info@creativecommnet.com

Don’t wait!  Join the fully satisfied individuals from many organizations who have benefited from these programs.

Here is how to get the book that we use in Leading Change.  It is now a print-on-demand book directly from the publisher.  After you get it, you can contact me for the templates that are featured within the book.  This is the link to use:

 http://www.pfeiffer.com/WileyCDA/PfeifferTitle/productCd-0787964433.html
Organizing Change: An Inclusive, Systemic Approach to Maintain Productivity and Achieve Results (0787964433) cover image
Organizing Change: An Inclusive, Systemic Approach to Maintain Productivity and Achieve Results
Authors:  William W. Lee and Karl J. Krayer
ISBN: 978-0-7879-6443-6
272 pages
May 2003

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How We Select Books for Presentation and Publishing

Based upon my blog post on Friday, I have received quite a few questions and comments about how we select our books, and why I would select a book that I dislike so much.  These questions provide me the opportunity to share the context with you and explain “how we do what we do” concerning books we present at the First Friday Book Synopsis and on our site, 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.

First, every book we select must either have appeared, or we believe has the great potential to appear, on a best-seller list  that we find credible.  There have been occasions where a book we have presented has not yet made it on a list, but we believe that it will do so in the very near future.  A good example of that is the recent best-seller by John Kotter, which Randy presented as soon as it appeared in print.  We do not present self-published books, nor books from our friends who write a book and ask us to do that.  In most cases, we ask them if they are interested in presenting a “bonus program,” where they can sell and present their own book, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Very few of these have been successful, and we do not have very many of them any longer.

Second, we owe allegiance to no author or publishing company.  With rare exceptions when Bob Morris, who reviewed books for Amazon.com, gave us a copy he was finished with, we purchase every book ourselves that we present at retail prices.  As you are aware, we also give those away at the end of the First Friday Book Synopsis.  We have never presented a book based upon a phone call from an author or publishing company.  Never.

Third, we do not select books based upon whether we agree with them or not. Our policy is that the presentations are not book reviews or editorials. Our purpose is to transfer the information from the book to the audience, and we urge participants that if they disagree, devalue, or feel offended about what the hear, not to “kill the messenger,” as we did not write these books. Through the First Friday Book Synopsis, we do not want to endorse books or book content. I will admit that occasionally our enthusiasm has suggested that a book was “terrific” and “worth a careful read.”  On Friday, July 11, I  turned off the recorder is off, and chose to tell the world what I thought about my book, and later, repeated that in a blog.  It was awful, and I thought you ought to know.

Fourth, we have made a policy not to present or publish personal finance books.  However, we have included higher-level financial books that have to do with content such as the general economy or dealings with foreign countries that goes beyond building individual wealth, investing in stocks, and so forth.

Fifth, over the last year, we have moved toward handouts that go beyond “presentation outlines.”  They contain much more than we can present in 15 minutes, and include content that participants need to study on their own time.  This is actually based upon input from our audience members.  Our pledge is to always tell you where to look on the handout (e.g., “top of page 5″) even though we cannot cover all of it.

Finally, the First Friday Book Synopsis is a “labor for love.”  We do not make any money on this event.  Every month that makes a small profit is followed by a month that takes a small loss.  Our money comes from participants who bring us in to their organizations to present programs based upon our expertise.  We are appreciative of those of you who have made room for us, either in your own company, or under your umbrella as a consultant.

I hope this explanation has been satisfying to you.

I hope these comments are helpful, and above all, thank you for all your support in 17 years for the First Friday Book Synopsis, the 10 years of 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com, and the 7 years of our blog.

Saturday, July 12, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 2/4/13)

BOB Banner

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

BOOK REVIEWS

Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration
Leigh Thompson

This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
John Brockman, Editor

Unrelenting Innovation: How to Build a Culture for Market Dominance
Gerard J. Tellis

Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
Chris Brown

Lincoln: A President for the Ages
Karl Weber, Editor and Contributor

The Architecture of Innovation: The Economics of Creative Organizations

Josh Lerner

INTERVIEWS

Robert LoCascio (LivePerson) in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times

TALES FROM THE WORLD BEFORE YESTERDAY: A Conversation with Jared Diamond
John Brockman
Edge

Terry Leahy (Tesco) in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times

COMMENTARIES

Why “Management Is (Still) Not Leadership”
John Kotter
HBR

“How to Successfully Manage Opposing Strategies”
Roger Martin
HBR

“New Research on The Innovation Bottom Line”
David Kiron, Nina Kruschwitz, Knut Haanaes, Martin Reeves and Eugene Goh
MIT Sloan Management Review

“Here’s an easy IQ test for really intelligent people”
BOB

“Silicon Valley’s most important document ever”
Janko Roettgers
GigaOM

“How to battle-test your innovation strategy”
Marla M. Capozzi, John Horn, and Ari Kellen
The McKinsey Quarterly

“How Do Innovators Think?”
Bronwyn Fryer
HBR

“5 Biggest Leadership Lessons From 2012″
Les McKeown
Inc.

“The Skills Most Leaders Don’t Have”
Brian Evje
Inc.

“How to Proactively Manage Your Digital Reputation”
Management Tip of the Day
HBR

“Lincoln’s School of Management”
Nancy F. Koehn
The New York Times

“How To Make Your Employees Happier”
Anne Kreamer
Fast Company

* * *

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

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Be•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, May 16, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time

Nilofer Merchant

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Nilofer Merchant for the Harvard Business Review blog series, “The Conversation.” To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.

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Trust, fights, and child care. When I’m advising start-up teams nowadays, I ask a lot of questions around those three areas. Which makes it sounds more like a marriage counselor’s office, rather than a boardroom, right?

Quite often, the teams I’m talking with think culture is some woo-woo stuff that doesn’t make any difference in the end, or even if they think it does matter, they have an excruciatingly hard time describing what theirs is.

Which begs the question: does culture matter?

Culture’s all that invisible stuff that glues organizations together, as David Caldwell, my management professor at Santa Clara University, taught me many years ago. It includes things like norms of purpose, values, approach — the stuff that’s hard to codify, hard to evaluate, and certainly hard to measure and therefore manage. Many other experts, such as Senge and Kotter have certainly added to that understanding with complex and nuanced constructs, but Caldwell’s invisible glue comment holds a truth.

This “invisibility” causes many managers to treat culture as a soft topic, but it’s the stuff that determines how we get things done. For example:

Do We Trust Each Other? A team I was recently working with reminded me of 6-year-olds playing soccer, where every team member simply surrounds the issue much like a team of kids surrounds the ball.

They then travel en masse, afraid to move away from the proverbial “ball.” In this culture, no one owns a position on the field. This “we’re all in it together” cultural norm is certainly egalitarian, but it doesn’t support specialization, scale, or accountability. I worry that as this team grows, and when they’re not all in the same room, they will fail. When they are huddling, what they are signaling is that they don’t know how to trust one another to do their unique part. They — like many teams — simply don’t know how to “let go” to and with others, thus risking their ability to scale results.

Disagreements Mean What? We all know that we want the best ideas to triumph for the best innovations to take place, but sometimes we act as if that only applies when the idea is our idea. Two members of a team were recently disagreeing vehemently on something. Both had facts that backed up their point of view. Both were fighting for the benefit of the company. Each believed they were “in the right” and wanted the CEO to simply pick the winner, making the losing party wrong and mostly likely, gone. How we handle disagreements and dissent are also part of culture. When teams don’t know how to handle disagreement, molehill issues can become do-or-die mountains, or, conversely, passive-aggressiveness insinuates itself as a mechanism to avoid overt disagreements at all costs.

Who Cares About the Baby? A team that is part of a 50,000+ organization recently described an issue where one team does their best right up to a handoff milestone, then relinquishes any part of the project’s ultimate success. They described their discomfort with this using a baby analogy. “Will you take care of my [baby] the same way I would, knowing our shared goal is to [get this kid to a good college]?” When the “baby” or in this case, business performance isn’t co-owned by everyone, things can easily fall through the cracks.

And truth be told, that’s where most business problems happen in our high velocity world; between the cracks of divisions or silos or the “white space” no one owns.

How we get things done drives performance. These issues of trust, conflict resolution, and co-ownership are foundational for how a team gets work done. Culture is the set of habits that allows a group of people to cooperate by assumption rather than by negotiation. Based on that definition, culture is not what we say, but what we do without asking. A healthy culture allows us to produce something with each other, not in spite of each other. That is how a group of people generates something much bigger than the sum of the individuals involved. If we only get 2+5+10 = 17, we haven’t gotten any benefit of leverage. What we are looking for is 2*5*10 = 100, delivering an explosive return on effort. Culture is the domain that enables or obstructs a velocity of function. By addressing where an organization is limiting its velocity, you can accelerate the engine that fuels innovation and growth, and, ultimately, financial numbers.

Stephen Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks, agrees that culture drives numbers: “Culture drives innovation and whatever else you are trying to accomplish within a company — innovation, execution, whatever it’s going to be. And that then drives results,” he said in a New York Times interview.

“When I talk to Wall Street, people really want to know your results, what are your strategies, what are the issues, what it is that you’re doing to drive your business. Never do you get people asking about the culture, about leadership, about the people in the organization. Yet it’s the reverse, because it’s the people, the leadership, and the ideas that are ultimately driving the numbers and the results.”

Because we can see the outward manifestations of work performance like products shipped, revenues booked, and earnings-per-share, we can discuss them in analysts calls and at management meetings. We can barely see and surely can’t measure the cultural aspect of what makes great products, revenues or earnings per share. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be decoded.

After working on strategy for 20 years, I can say this: culture will trump strategy, every time. The best strategic idea means nothing in isolation. If the strategy conflicts with how a group of people already believe, behave or make decisions it will fail. Conversely, a culturally robust team can turn a so-so strategy into a winner. The “how” matters in how we get performance. Yes, it does.

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Nilofer Merchant is a corporate advisor and speaker on innovation methods. Her book, The New How, discussing collaborative ways to have your whole company strategize, was published in 2010. Follow her on Twitter @nilofer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Manager as Change Agent: A book review by Bob Morris

The Manager as Change Agent: A Practical Guide to Developing High-Performance People and Organizations
Jerry Gilley, Scott Quatro, Erik Hoekstra, Doug Whittle, Ann Maycunich, Scott A. Quatro, Jerry W. Gilley, and Doug D. Whittle
Basic Books (2001)

Your Own Yellow Brick Road Awaits

Don’t be deterred by the publication date. This book really does offer a thoughtful and cohesive guide to “developing high-performance people and organizations.” After an introductory chapter (“Becoming a Change Agent”), the authors organize their excellent material within three Parts: Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors; then Philosophy, Practice, and Responsibilities of a Change Agent; and finally, Integrating Resources, Roles, and Competencies.  A majority of those I have worked closely with are the only or at least primary change agent in their respective organizations. This book will help them to develop change agency competence among many (if not most) of those whom they supervise. In fact, the insights and counsel in the book can help to accomplish that worthy objective at all levels and in all areas, whatever the size and nature of an organization may be. Of course, the book will also be of great value to senior-level executives in large organizations, including non-profits.

For me, one of the most entertaining as well as informative chapters in the book is Chapter 4 (“Beware of Flying Monkeys and Poison Poppies”) in which the authors suggest correlations between the adventures encountered by Dorothy and her companions en route to the Emerald City and what all managers encounter in today’s business world. “Flying monkeys are those unexpected characters, events, and situations that jump up and attack you at the most untimely moments…..Flying monkeys come in all shapes, sorts, and sizes. They can be people, events, activities, and attitudes….Perhaps the most important potential monkey for you to be aware of is the cultural flying monkey. [As the authors have explained earlier in the book], culture is defined as the underlying beliefs, values, and assumptions held by members of an organization and the practices and behaviors that exemplify and reinforce them. In other words, ‘the way we do things around here.’” In Figure 4.1, detailed information about “Miscellaneous Flying Monkeys” is provided within an ingenious grid.

With regard to “poison poppies”, the authors suggest that so many change initiatives fail because managers are “seduced by the promise of a quick fix”, a short-cut, etc. Time and again when retained by a corporate client to help solve problems, I find that the client’s managers are preoccupied with the symptoms of problems rather than focused on determining the causes of those problems. Stated another way, many managers seem to think that wet highways cause rain.

The authors begin Chapter 11 with a quote from John Kotter (“A good rule of thumb in a major change effort is: Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo”) and then use Figure 11.01 to illustrate what they call a “Holistic Model for Change Agent Excellence” featuring the brain, the heart, courage, and vision. All are necessary to overcome the aforementioned “forces.” More specifically:

1. Provide strong, highly visible, and personal leadership
2. Institute employee involvement early and often, at all levels
3. Build a clearly articulated, shared vision
4. Provide frequent, consistent, and open communication
5. Leverage talented, and trusted employees as co-change agents
6. Set measurable operational and behavioral goals
7. Celebrate successes and re-address shortcomings

The authors carefully explain each of these “Seven Keys to Successful Organizational Change” in detail and then shift their attention to what they characterize as a “list of absolutes in the quest to develop gained wisdom”: Tap into the wisdom of the “elders” in the organization, build a wisdom war chest”, patiently and progressively wield your wisdom-based influence on an organizational level, and finally, share wisdom with others on an organizational level. The authors no only explain how; they also explain why.

Appropriately, the authors conclude their brilliant book as follows: “As in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s vision was to somehow return to her beloved Kansas. By casting her eyes on that goal, she was able to energize and solicit support for friends and foes alike along her journey. In the end, she achieved her goal, as you will in your effort to [italics] becoming a change agent.” Through their book, the authors can accompany you on your own journey. The Yellow Brick Road to high-performance for people and organizations awaits. Let the journey begin!

Monday, July 11, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turn the Tables on Fear-Mongering

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.

One of the most effective tactics for killing a good idea is to instill fear in the minds of those who need to approve it.

In business, a common fear-mongering argument is that a proposal is somehow “against our core values” and will erode the spirit and foundation of the company.

If this kind of accusation is aimed at your idea, resist becoming defensive. A simple retort is unlikely to soothe the fears that this kind of attack raises.

Instead, acknowledge that values are important and explain specifically how your idea is indeed in line with what the company stands for.

Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Turning the Tables on a Fear-Mongering Attack” by John Kotter.

To read that article and join the discussion, please click here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , | Leave a comment

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