First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Dorie Clark on How to Stand Out: An interview by Bob Morris

ClarkDorie Clark is the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013) and Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It (Portfolio/Penguin, 2015). A former presidential campaign spokeswoman, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Entrepreneur as well as the World Economic Forum blog. Recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, Fortune, and Inc. magazine, Clark is a marketing strategy consultant and speaker for clients including Google, Microsoft, Yale University, Fidelity, and the World Bank.

She is an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a Visiting Professor for IE Business School in Madrid. She has guest lectured at Harvard Business School, the Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and more. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and appears in worldwide media including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the BBC.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Dorie.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Stand Out, a few general questions. First of all, I think your previous book — Reinventing You — is a brilliant achievement. To what extent have you reinvented Dorie Clark over the years since you graduated from Smith College?

Clark: I’ve reinvented myself quite a few times. Right after college, I went to Harvard Divinity School and thought I’d become an academic, but (after getting my masters degree), I didn’t get into any of the doctoral programs I applied to. So I reinvented myself into a journalist, only to get laid off, and then a political campaign spokesperson, only to work on two consecutive losing campaigns. It took me until nearly a decade after college to land on my current profession as a marketing strategist/author/speaker. So my interest in reinvention comes quite naturally! I wanted to write Reinventing You to help other professionals go through the process more seamlessly, and faster and better.

Morris: My own opinion is that most people prune — if not reinvent — their lives every few years. Frankly, I have found this immensely difficult, sometimes painful. It’s such a struggle to resist what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” What are your own thoughts about all this?

Clark: Reinvention is definitely becoming a constant in most people’s lives. After all, how many people do you still know who spend a lifetime – or even a decade – at one company? But I like to differentiate between what I call “Capital R” Reinvention, which is a more dramatic job change or career change, and “lowercase r” reinvention, which is the practice of keeping ourselves flexible and adaptable with small choices we make, from taking a class on something new to being open to making a new friend in an unlikely place. The better we are at “reinvention” on a regular basis, the less likely “Reinvention” will feel traumatic when the time comes for a major change.

Morris: I congratulate you on what you have achieved in your career thus far. Presumably there have been a few setbacks along the way. Thus far, what has been the single greatest disappointment and what are the most valuable lessons that you have learned from it?

Clark: There continue to be setbacks and disappointments in my professional life, even though in general I feel happy with the success I’ve achieved. My first book, Reinventing You, was actually the fourth book proposal I created; the other three before it were all rejected. And there are at least four fellowships I’ve applied for in the last 2-3 years that I haven’t been chosen for. You have to keep pushing. But probably the hardest disappointment was the first, getting turned down for the doctoral programs. That’s because academia was my only plan; I really didn’t have a Plan B. But that taught me something important, which is that you should always have an alternate strategy, because you never know how things will play out, and you need to be prepared.

Morris: In your opinion, should people prepare for a career in a specific field or master skills that will be highly-valued in any field? Please explain.

Clark: My ideal advice would be to learn baseline skills – good writing and speaking, for instance – and then get professional experience in particular fields through internships or volunteering. Paying a university to educate you in a specific discipline, especially one that might change rapidly, could be quite expensive and leave you adrift if the field changes or if the need is no longer there because of demographic changes or technological advances. Far better to get specific work experience at work, rather than in a classroom.

Morris: Opinions are divided — sometimes sharply divided — about the how essential charisma is to effective leadership. What do you think?

Clark: I think people want to follow someone who seems “like a leader.” But charisma is often misunderstood. I like the research of the Center for Talent Innovation, which broke down the concept of “executive presence” – often related to charisma – into its constituent parts. They are communication skills, gravitas (i.e., can you handle pressure during difficult circumstances?) and, to a more limited extent, appearance (such as professional dress). All of these are things that individuals can master with practice.

Morris: Here are two of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. 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….’”

Clark: One of my favorite stories from Stand Out is about the psychologist, Robert Cialdini, who revolutionized the field by paying attention to his students when they questioned the typical way of doing business. In his field, experiments were done in a laboratory setting and then the findings were simply assumed to translate to real life. Students wondered how researchers knew the same principles would apply, and Cialdini told them they simply had to trust that human nature was the same everywhere. But he listened and wondered if there was a way to know for sure, so he started doing the first field experiments in psychology and became a legend in his field by advancing the discourse in a meaningful way.

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

Clark: In the business world, we often talk about the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle – i.e., that 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. That’s particularly true when it comes to the research I did around breakthrough ideas. Most of these recognized experts are known for one or, at most, two “big ideas” and concepts that are associated with them. It shows the importance of doubling down when you’ve found an idea that resonates.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete interview.

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

Her home page with Free 42-Page Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook link

Amazon page link

Reinventing You link

Stand Out link

TEDx talk: Finding Your Breakthrough Idea link

Twitter link

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get What’s Yours Rise to the Top Demonstrates Our Insecurity

GetWhat'sYoursCoverWhat does it say about Americans when a book about Social Security zooms to the top of the best-seller lists?

I say we are just insecure.  Or uninformed.  Or panicky.  Or lots of things.

As a elixir, book readers are buying Get What’s Yours:  The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster, 2015) by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman.

Here is where the book stands on Amazon.com as I write this today:

The book is # 3 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover business best-seller list and # 4 on the non-fiction list.  I cannot find updates for the Bloomberg Business Week.  The book’s website claims that it is a New York Times best-seller, but I cannot verify that this morning as I write.  But, since the book has only been out since February 17, 2015, its rise to the top is meteoric.  It certainly did not hurt sales when Jane Pauley said this is “an indispensable and surprisingly entertaining guide for anyone who is retiring or thinking of retiring with all of the Social Security benefits they’ve earned.” With a flurry of endorsements from financial experts, many readers must have flocked to the physical and on-line outlets to see what it says.  Or, it likely did not hurt when the summary on Amazon.com proclaimed, “Many personal finance books briefly address Social Security, but none offers the thorough, authoritative, yet conversational analysis found here. You’ve paid all your working life for these benefits. Now, get what’s yours.
And, who wouldn’t be interested in a book with a summary from such as this:  “It tells you precisely which months you should collect retiree, spousal, survivor, divorcee, parent, and child benefits to achieve the highest lifetime benefits.  Maximize My Social Security incorporates all Social Security provisions and options for singles and married couples.
Who are these authors?  The book’s website provides these details:

Laurence Kotlikoff

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and a professor of economics at Boston University.  He is also president of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software.  His company websites are ESPlanner.com and MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com.  He is author or co-author of sixteen books, including Spend ‘Til the End and The Coming Generational Storm (both with Scott Burns).  His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, The Economist, Huffington Post, and other major publications.  He has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, governments around the world, and major U.S. corporations including Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, and AON.  In addition, he has provided expert testimony on numerous occasions to committees of Congress.  He lives in Boston.

Philip Moeller writes about retirement for Money magazine, the PBS website Making Sen$e, and other media outlets.  He is also a research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, and the founder of Insure.com, a site for insurance information that has provided original insurance content to the Web’s leading business portals, including Microsoft, Yahoo, America Online, and MarketWatch.  Formerly a contributing editor at U. S. News & World Report, he has spent forty years as an award-winning financial journalist, Internet entrepreneur, and corporate communications executive for a Fortune 500 financial services firm.  He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Paul Soloman

Paul Solman is the longtime business and economics correspondent for The PBS NewsHour.  His many awards for work in business journalism include Emmys, Peabodys, and a Loeb award.  He is also a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Practitioner at Yale University, where he teaches in the Grand Strategy course, as well as teaching at New Haven’s Gateway Community College. He has been a member of the Harvard Business School faculty and a visiting professor at his alma mater, Brandeis.  Solman has written for numerous publications, from Forbes to Mother Jones, co-authored (with Thomas Friedman) Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield, and wrote the introduction to Morrie: In His Own Words, created entirely from interviews with his former Brandeis sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz (of “Tuesdays with Morrie” fame).  He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

We won’t have this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, as we don’t include individual-based finance books in our monthly coverage.

But that doesn’t mean that plenty of our attendees will find this important to read.  While they won’t identify themselves, I am sure we get some people who are insecure, uninformed, and panicky about their retirement years.  Maybe they. and many others will find this book a great relief to that anxiety.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

Here is a link to Part 1.

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

Her website link

Twitter link

Link to video of her presentation at Microsoft headquarters

Facebook link

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

Geoffrey Moore: A third interview, by Bob Morris

Moore, GGeoffrey Moore is Managing Director, Geoffrey Moore Consulting; a venture partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures, Chairman Emeritus, TCG Advisors, The Chasm Institute and The Chasm Group; and a member of the Board of Directors, Akamai Technologies and several pre-IPO Companies. He is also an author, speaker and business advisor to many of the leading companies in the high-tech sector, including Aruba, Box, Cisco, Cognizant, Intel, Microsoft, Rackspace, SAP, and Salesforce. Geoff divides his time between consulting on strategy and transformation challenges with senior executives and speaking internationally on those same topics. His latest release, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers (Third Edition), brings Moore’s classic work on marketing disruptive innovations up to date with dozens of new examples of successes and failures, new strategies for marketing in the digital world, and Moore’s most current insights and findings.

Geoff has written numerous other books including Escape from Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past (2011), his sixth, for business leaders in the high-tech sector looking to reinvigorate their established franchises with next-generation lines of business. He is also an active public speaker who gives between 30 and 60 speeches per year, addressing a spectrum of topics including high-tech market dynamics, business strategies, innovation, organizational development, and industry futures. His other published works include Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley’s Cutting Edge (1995), The Gorilla Game: Picking Winners in High Technology (1999), Living on the Fault Line, Revised Edition: Managing for Shareholder Value in Any Economy (2002), and Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution (2008).

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

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to have a third edition of Crossing the Chasm? What new material do you provide in it?

Moore: I was getting feedback from entrepreneurship classes that, while the theory of crossing the chasm was as applicable as ever, the examples in the book were out of date. So this new third edition has all new examples from the past ten years, featuring companies like Salesforce, VMware, Box, Aruba, Rackspace, Lithium, Rocket Fuel, Infusionsoft, and the like.

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

Moore: I think the biggest change in the past decade has been the explosion of consumer computing, completely transforming our culture from end to end, and more recently, the transformation of enterprise computing as it seeks to integrate social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technologies into its legacy architectures. This led me to include a new appendix to the book focused on consumer adoption of technology, something that plays out sufficiently differently from the chasm model to require its own framework, which we called the Four Gears.

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

Moore: I worked very hard not to change the argument of the book itself, only the examples and references. But the chapter on Distribution and Pricing simply would not admit of that approach, given how dramatically the consumer side of things has changed. Other than that chapter, however, people will encounter the same frameworks as in the original edition because they have held up surprisingly well over the years.

Morris: To what extent do you develop in much greater depth insights shared in the previous editions?

Moore: This was not my intent. Rather, each of my books has sought to build on the frameworks of the prior books, a kind of “backward compatibility” approach that seeks to maintain coherence across a set of models as it builds outwards to address a broader landscape. Thus Inside the Tornado took the Technology Adoption Life Cycle beyond the chasm all the way through to its conclusion. It was followed by The Gorilla Game which applied these ideas to an approach to high-tech investing. That was followed by Living on the Fault Line, which applied ideas from the Gorilla Game to the general idea of managing for shareholder value. Then Dealing with Darwin took on the challenges established franchises have with getting a good return on innovation, and the most recent book, Escape Velocity, extended that work to address how best to onboard and integrate a next-generation line of business into an established franchise. The thread that runs through all these books is the market dynamics that underlie the introduction of disruptive innovations into any community of customers and suppliers.

Morris: To what extent is material in Chasm 3 entirely new? Please explain.

Moore: The appendix on the Four Gears is entirely new. It is about how markets develop when the technology is not disruptive to the consumer but the business model is hugely disruptive to the status quo. It focuses on four stages of adoption, or “gears,” which we call Acquire, Engage, Convert, and Enlist. The idea behind the model is that you need to get all four gears spinning in unison to create a self-reinforcing “network effect,” and that therefore the key imperative at any given point in time is to speed up your slowest gear.

Morris: What are what you characterize as “the erratic results of high tech marketing”?

Moore: When companies spend most of their marketing energy talking about themselves and their products, the results are erratic because, in most cases, nobody cares about either topic anywhere near as much as the company itself does. Effective marketing requires you to work backward from the audience and the audience’s interests and find the nearest point of intersection with your interests and messages. The Technology Adoption Life Cycle is one of a number of frameworks that allows you to segment audience by interest in technology, and that is why it has had such a big impact on high-tech marketing.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Geoffrey Moore website link

Geoffrey Moore Amazon page link

Geoffrey Moore blog link

Geoffrey Moore Twitter link

Please click here to read my first interview of him.

Please click here to read my second interview of him.

Friday, March 14, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet David Robertson – Author of Brick by Brick – September FFBS Selection

Who is David C. Robertson, the author of BRICK BY BRICK:  HOW LEGO REWROTE THE RULES OF INNOVATION AND CONQUERED THE GLOBAL TOY INDUSTRY?

That’s the book I present on Friday, September 6 at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  You can register here.

 

 

 

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I found this biography on his website.  I thought you might find it interesting.

David Robertson is a Professor of Practice at the Wharton School where he teaches Innovation and Product Development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs. From 2002 through 2010, Robertson was the LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development (IMD), which received the #1 worldwide ranking by the Financial Times for its executive education programs. At IMD he was Program Director for IMD’s largest program, the Program for Executive Development, and co-Director of the Making Business Sense of IT program, a joint program between IMD and MIT Sloan.

“Robertson is the author of Brick by Brick: How LEGO Reinvented its Innovation System and Conquered the Toy Industry, and co-author of Enterprise Architecture as Strategy. He has published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and many other journals. Robertson has consulted and led educational programs for a wide range of companies, including EMC, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Georg Fischer, Braskem, Banco Santander, Skanska, Swisscom, Russell Investments, Novozymes, GMAC, Grundfos, BT, Microsoft, Heineken, Philip Morris, Globe Telecom, Tieto Enator, and AXA.

“Prior to IMD, Robertson was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a consultant at McKinsey & Company for 5 years, and an executive at four enterprise software companies. David received his MBA and PhD from MIT and BS from the University of Illinois.  David, his wife, and two children live in Chestnut Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”

Taken from: http://www.robertsoninnovation.com

Monday, September 2, 2013 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kevin Allen: Second interview, by Bob Morris

Allen, KevinKevin Allen is Founder & Chairman of business transformation company, [re:kap], that counts Burberry, M&C Saatchi, Nokia, Omnicom, Rolls-Royce, Smythson and Swedbank among its global clients. He spent over two decades on the front lines of business development at the top of advertising giants McCann-WorldGroup, the Interpublic Group and Lowe Worldwide and is recognized as one of the advertising industry’s most accomplished growth professionals. He worked with such brands as MasterCard—developing the globally famous “Priceless” campaign—Microsoft, Marriott, Smith Barney, Nestle, L’Oreal, Lufthansa and Johnson and Johnson, and was an early part of Rudy Giuliani’s team that prepared the way for the successful Mayoral election and turnaround strategies for the City of New York.

Kevin is a highly skilled growth professional and is uniquely positioned to teach companies and individuals how to win. His published works include The Hidden Agenda: A Proven Way to Win Business and Create a Following and, more recently, The Case of the Missing Cutlery: A leadership course for the rising star. (Bibliomotion, April 2013).

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

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Case of the Missing Cutlery?

Allen: As a sensitive and highly intuitive person in the command-and-control corporate world, I always felt miscast. But what I’ve come to realize is that emotional intelligence, which I define as buoyancy, was the only way I knew how to lead, and is, in my option, the only way to inspire real change.

For so long, companies were run using a command-and-control, ‘top down’ hierarchical method that involved dictating down the command chain and maintaining order. What I’ve witnessed in our time is evolving democratization, a shift to a demand economy accelerated by technological advancements like social media.

The timing is right to offer a fresh perspective on management, particularly to a new generation of individuals rising to senior positions, who understand the nature of this new economy but weren’t provided with the leadership principles necessary to mobilize an organization from the bottom-up.

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

Allen: I think my revelation has more to do with the reaction to the book. We’ve received a whole array of “Thank you for this,” and “We feel empowered by this,” and “Finally, we don’t have to be someone we’re not in order to lead.”

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

Allen: There was a significant difference between how the book was structured and what I had originally envisioned. I ended up dividing it into two parts. The entire book was to be a course in buoyancy, but I realized that “The Case of the Missing Cutlery” was such a compelling case history. So I decided to present the case, and then the lesson. I think what’s important it that it’s not a fancy-schmancy business school case study, but something that the audience can relate to, maybe from earlier on in their career.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a Buoyant Leader?

Allen: Buoyancy is a phenomenon whereby, as a leader, you float because the people you inspired believe that you should, because you’ve truly connected with the collective desires and values of the people you lead. Empathy is the key here, as is authenticity. When your people have determined that you understand their lies in their hearts and are dedicated to their functional wellbeing, they will compensate for your weaknesses and shore up your strengths.

Leadership is not about sitting and presiding, it’s about a going somewhere. To be buoyant, you must not only ignite passion around a common quest, you must also mobilize your team to take a journey with you toward a common destination, or what I call a “real ambition.”

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a workplace environment within which buoyant leadership is most likely to thrive?

Allen: An important concept in this regard is, “cultural permission”, which is the tone that is set inside an organization that shapes the very behavior of the employees in an organization. Fact is, we don’t think about it very often, but the phrases and language used everyday in an organization can in fact affect the way your team makes decisions and conducts themselves.

Think back to the days of Enron, where phrases like “Rank and Yank” and “Money is what matters” were coming out of the executive suite. These phrases were embedded into the workplace culture and being interpreted as permission to do some pretty terrible things.

But what can be seeds of destruction can also be seeds of greatness. For example, phrases like “It can be done, and it will be done,” which I heard from Rudy Giuliani while serving on the team that helped turn around New York City, influenced people to perform incredible feats, all within a culture of doing good.

Morris: By what process did you formulate the ACTION Model?

Allen: By panicking and screwing up early in my career!

Morris: What most significantly differentiates it from other leadership development models?

Allen: The purpose of the ACTION Model is to give you a series of steps you can use in a crisis, so you don’t panic and run off in a million directions. The secret is to be prepared, to draw on the strengths of the people around you, and most importantly, to instill confidence that your team will step up and find a solution.

Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, The Case of the Missing Cutlery, please explain what valuable business lessons can be learned from what you identify as a “true tale.”

Allen: The Case of the Missing Cutlery comes from my early days as an assistant manager of a Marriott International airline catering facility at JFK airport in New York City. This was not the peanut packet-per-passenger service they have today- in those days every passenger were served some sort of hot meal with gleaming cutlery. One day we had a surprise visit from a VIP at our largest client, who demanded that we investigate why they were losing cutlery by the thousands. I volunteered to look into it and discovered that the cutlery was coming out of the machine still stained, and because the workers were so fearful of returning dirty forks and knives, they felt they had no choice but to throw it away. Instead of yelling at them, or worse, firing them, I decided that we would solve the problem together, and we did.

What I learned was that once you reach people on an authentic emotional level, they will reward your faith in them with their belief in you, and they will mobilize to get the job done. I learned that in every situation you will find who I call catalysts and resistors, and you must energize your catalysts, and neutralize — or better yet, convert — your resistors. And most of all, I learned that once you demonstrate to your team that you put them on the same plane of priority as yourself, you will create an environment, and a culture that will make your entire organization flourish.

* * *

To read the complete second interview of Kevin, please click here.

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

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

[re:kap] link

Kevin’s Amazon page

bibliomotion link

YouTube (“Big Speak”) video link

Kevin’s LinkedIn link

AdWeek video link

Monday, September 2, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill Schley: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

SchleyBill Schley is an award-winning branding expert, author, speaker and a life-long entrepreneur. He is President and Co-Founder of the firm BrandTeamSix and is known for creating the Dominant Selling Idea at some of the world’s most successful companies. He began his career as a writer at the legendary Ted Bates Advertising Agency in New York where he won an Effie Award for sales effective advertising. He later went on to create industry leading brands at companies he co-founded, as well as those he advised. In addition to The UnStoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial Power, his fourth book and a New York Times Best Seller, he is author of Why Johnny Can’t Brand which won the award for “Top 5 Marketing Books of the Year” by strategy+business magazine; and The Micro-Script Rules -— the book that teaches how to differentiate your business in a sentence or less. He has appeared on CNBC’s Street Signs, CNN Money Online and numerous syndicated radio programs. He is an experienced skydiver, ocean sailor, and a graduate of Harvard University.

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

* * *

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

Schley: My wife has a human moral compass that never deviates. Whenever I’ve needed a reminder about priorities or proportion, she’s always there and she’s always right.

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

Schley: My mentors at Ted Bates Advertising—the original Mad Men–made me appreciate the fact that a great IDEA could be the most powerful mover on this planet. And the best way to put your idea into other people’s heads is through story.

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.

Schley: I was a co-founder of a business to business technology start-up in the early dot-com days. We needed to set our company apart with almost no budget in a field that included some of the biggest names in the business like Micro-Soft and Quicken. But we looked at what our competitors were promising and saying, none of them were using the kind of simple, time-tested branding techniques I had learned in my early advertising days– how to create a Dominant Selling Idea that sets you apart–then how to put it into the fewest number of vivid words so that customers not only remembered but wanted to repeat it. So we took the great brand principles I knew and applied them. We found one big idea that resonated with customers, then we focused on it relentlessly and consistently in every communication we made. It worked like magic for our tiny company. The industry started talking about us because we’d given them an idea they could talk about. In a couple of years we were dominant in our category. It made me realize that this simple branding knowledge was a gift that good companies needed. So when we sold the original company– I opened my first brand consulting firm.

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

Schley: Although I was lucky enough to attend a great university, the most important part of my formal education came down to my relationships with three teachers in high school who believed in me and encouraged me personally. Because they believed in me, I believed that the things I dreamed about might be possible for me someday.

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?

Schley: That you need to have more confidence in your own ideas and abilities because in the words of the great William Goldman speaking about the movie business: “Nobody knows anything.”

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

Schley: Band of Brothers -— about a team of soldiers in World War II who survived from D-Day all the way to Berlin. None could have made it alone—only as a true team. They had to risk together, get scared together, fight together and ultimately win together.

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

Schley: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, the greatest human nature hand book ever written. And Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves, the book where he unveiled the Unique Selling Proposition—the USP. Read those two books and you’ll understand more about succeeding with customers than most of today’s CMOs.

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

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

Schley: Every conscious moment we humans are talking to ourselves, telling ourselves a story. “This is who I am, this is what I know.” No mind that’s made up ever wants to change. So the only way you can change it is to offer up a new piece of story that fits with the one they’re already running—that makes it better, more persuasive, more appealing. If they decide to merge your story with theirs, their minds can be changed. And ultimately it becomes their story—because the story’s about them, not about you.

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

Schley: Beware of those who think they’ve found the only truth. Because they become the brittle extremists, the dangerous ones. When you’ve found the “only truth” it’s never true.

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

Schley: Why Oscar Wilde is Oscar Wilde.

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

Schley: I heard the quote like this: “We can’t solve today’s problems with the same thinking that got us here.” Maybe a copywriter influenced that version. Either way, it’s the common sense reality that entrepreneurs operate with each day.

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

Schley: It’s bad to waste money on projects you know are frivolous? I agree.

* * *

To read the complete version of Part 2, please click here.

In Part 2 will soon be posted. During that portion of the interview, Bill focuses his attention on The UnStoppables.

Meanwhile, he cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

His website link

Brand Team Six website

Amazon page

Wikipedia page

LinkedIn page

Twitter page

Saturday, July 6, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

*     *     *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Metaskills book site  

Strategic Pyramid site 

Amazon page

 
 

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not, ‘Should we make mistakes? but rather, ‘Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?” Your response?

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Metaskills book site

Strategic Pyramid site 

Marty’s Amazon page

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

Donald N. Thompson: An interview by Bob Morris

Don Thompson is an economist and professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. He has taught at Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics. He is author of nine books, including The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art, which details his explorations in trying to understand the high end of the contemporary art market. Shark has been published in thirteen languages. His most recent book, Oracles: How Prediction Markets Turn Employees into Visionaries, was published by Harvard Business Review Press (June, 2012).

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

*     *      *

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

Thompson: A dozen brilliant people I encountered in grad school (at Berkeley) and later, in universities, businesses and government. From each I learned new things, but more important, new ways of looking at problems, and how to think outside the box.

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

Thompson: My formal education included an MBA, which got me interested in problem solving, and a PhD, which furthered that interest but is also provided an essential entry point to an academic career. So the formal education part has been invaluable for my career path.

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

Thompson: The importance of the soft skills involved in communication, motivation and managing.

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

Thompson: Citizen Kane. The explanation is in the eyes and mind of the viewer.

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

Thompson: I’ll suggest two: Michael Mauboussin’s More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places (Columbia Business School Press 2008), and Cass Sunstein’s Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide (Oxford University Press, 2008). The Mauboussin book is about business, but more centrally, about making rational decisions. The Sunstein book is about how wrongheadedness gets worse when people get together in groups. Both are brilliant thinkers, I recommend anything with those names attached.

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

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know.”

Thompson: Right. None of us is as smart as all of us (which is also a Japanese proverb).

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

Thompson: The prediction market equivalent is probably, “If you really are afraid of the answer, don’t ask the question.”

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

Thompson:  It never occurred to me that there was another option. Probably too late now.

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

Thompson: That is a great quote. I once was presented with its equivalent, by a Columbia marketing professor named Al Oxenfeldt, with whom I had co-authored a couple of articles and was proposing a new topic, which I had collected a lot of data on. Al said, “If something is not worth doing, it is not worth doing well.” Quite right.

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

Thompson: That is exactly the philosophy of Jim Lavoie and Joe Marino, co-CEOs of my favorite prediction-market company, Rite-Solutions – which is the subject of the first chapter of Oracles.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Don’s faculty page, please click here

Amazon’s Oracles page, please click here.

Amazon’s The $12 Million Stuffed Shark page, please click here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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