Sunday, October 27, 2013

From Burning Platform to Burning Ambition; How Leaders Sustain Change


“Leadership effectiveness is not a matter of intention; it’s a matter of impact.

Why do I say that? I’ve never met the leader who aspires to destroy shareholder value, irritate customers and alienate staff. Yet often the unintended consequence of our leadership is to do just that.

The bad news is that in studying leaders who have actually bridged this gap between their noble intentions and their impact, my colleagues and I have found no magic formula to guarantee success. It turns out that leadership transformation is extremely context bound. Every leader’s journey is unique.

The good news, however, is that there are common threads in the experiences of those who’ve realized their leadership vision, and achieved a transformation in their organization.”


Why organizations fail


We have hired and promoted generations of managers with robust analytical skills and poor social skills, and we don't seem to think that matters.

The technology to see very small things up close showed us we had much wrong about health. The technology to see big things far away showed us we are not the center of the universe.

Matthew Lieberman, one of the founding fathers of a field called social neuroscience, tells this story in his new book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.

The ability to work well with other people in a group depends on our ability to appreciate other individuals' emotions. A boss who knows what his staff members really want and care about will be able to design a better team environment than one who is simply focused on the elements of a project.

The irony is that human beings are built to mentally "reset" and see the world socially anytime they enter a new situation. However, modern humans tend to value analytical over social thinking, and so we tend to override that natural behavior.


Six Common Misperceptions about Teamwork

HBR ß 2011 article, Recommended

Teamwork and collaboration are critical to mission achievement in any organization that has to respond quickly to changing circumstances. My research in the U.S. intelligence community has not only affirmed that idea but also surfaced a number of mistaken beliefs about teamwork that can sidetrack productive collaboration. Here are six of them.

Misperception #1: Harmony helps.

Misperception #2: It’s good to mix it up.

Misperception #3: Bigger is better.

Misperception #4: Face-to-face interaction is passé.

Misperception #5: It all depends on the leader.

Misperception #6: Teamwork is magical.


11 Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation


In centuries past, explorers searched for the legendary city of El Dorado, where everything was made of gold. Today, at large organizations, innovation is the new El Dorado. Consultants and keynote speakers all purport to provide maps to it. Chief executives and business unit leaders weave the word innovation into their PowerPoints, hoping it will magically yield better product ideas, or miraculous improvements to existing processes.

No definition or metrics for what success means.

It must be instantly apparent and quantifiably demonstrable how every new idea has billion-dollar potential, or 18-month return-on-investment.

Seeking more influence and power, the company’s Chief Information Officer has altered his title, becoming Chief Innovation Officer.

The innovation team is considered “the CEO’s thing,” disconnected from business units and their most pressing concerns.

Innovation is expected to happen in cubicles and around conference tables.

Ideas don’t gain momentum if they’re seen as potentially competing with existing products or services, or threatening today’s business relationships.

The paradox of proximity.

Fear of releasing “alpha” or test versions of new products and services to get early market feedback.

Every good idea is expected to spring from the hermetically-sealed world of the corporation.

Company culture doesn’t tolerate — or understand how to learn from — failure.

Lack of commitment.


What a Dog and a Monkey Taught Me About Management at Google


At all hands meetings on Tuesday afternoons, our 75 person AdSense Ops team reviewed the most important metrics for the business: Top-two box customer satisfaction scores, revenue growth and customer churn.

But unlike every other all hands meeting I attended, these meetings ended with a monkey and a dog. Our director, Kim Malone, would stand up and call for two stuffed animals, first, Whoops the Monkey and Second, Duke the Dog, both of whom employees had carried to the meeting.

At the mention of Whoops, a handful of team members would stand up and one-by-one retell the story of a mistake, big or small.

Then Duke the dog was summoned. In contrast to Whoops' self-reported monkeywrench mistakes, Duke stories are retold by someone else and the dog is a reward for service to the team that went above and beyond the call of duty.

Despite their childlike simplicity, Duke and Whoops, were incredibly effective management tools. Whoops created a culture of honesty and transparency, where mistakes were shared in an environment of openness, trust and support

Duke celebrated our internal successes.


Get the Right People to Notice Your Ideas


The email arrived the day after a speech I’d given in London. “You’ve definitely given me some food for thought about my career trajectory, and how to use branding to my advantage,” an executive at a management consulting firm wrote. In my talk, I’d emphasized the importance of content creation — blogging, videos, podcasting, or even the creative use Twitter — in enabling professionals to share their ideas and define their brands. “But,” she asked, “what advice do you have for making sure that anything you do is read by the right people?”

The first strategy is to write about the people you’d like to connect with (or the companies you’d like to work for). In a world of Google Alerts, it’s not just large corporations that are monitoring what’s being said about them online.

Next, consider proactively sharing articles you create. That doesn’t mean spamming people with blast emails touting your latest post, but if a client or colleague asks a question or shares a story that inspires you to write, it’s a great compliment for you to follow up by sending them the piece. (I always make it a point to let talented colleagues like Chris Guillebeau, John Hagel, and Len Schlesinger and his crew know when I’m citing their work.)

Finally, pursue a “ladder strategy” for your content, a concept that author Michael Ellsberg has expounded on. Sure, some people will find your blog accidentally (perhaps through a web search for a particular term), and your friends or colleagues may become early readers. But to build a following over time, start reaching out to fellow bloggers and news outlets that already have a following, and offer to create guest posts.


Three Things that Actually Motivate Employees

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The most motivated and productive people I’ve seen recently work in an older company on the American East Coast deploying innovative technology products to transform a traditional industry. To a person, they look astonished when I ask whether their dedication comes from anticipation of the money they could make in the event of an IPO.

Newcomers and veterans alike say they are working harder than ever before. Their products are early stage, which means daily frustrations as they run through successive iterations. Getting them to market demands more than corporate systems can handle, so they must beg for IT upgrades, recruit and budget themselves, and even take on sales responsibilities to explain innovations to customers — which adds to the workload. So much pressure, yet they don’t seem to care about the money?

There are no promises that these jobs will last forever. Loyalty comes from the daily work itself, a sense of community accepting of individuality, and constant reminders that what employees do matters.

I summarize these keys to strong work motivation in three Ms — mastery, membership, and meaning. Money is a distant fourth.

To tap the three Ms, leaders at all levels can rethink how they define their strategy, jobs, and culture. They can:

Mastery: Help people develop deep skills.

Membership: Create community by honoring individuality. 

Meaning: Repeat and reinforce a larger purpose.


Workshop on Opportunities in Robotics, Automation, and Computer Science

CCC Blog

A workshop Monday at the White House Conference Center provided the robotics and computer research communities with more information on how they can help manufacturers innovate. Robotics VO, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Computing Community Consortium brought together 28 participants from industry, academia, and government to discuss opportunities for manufacturing in robotics, automation, and computer science. Among the emerging themes was the need to "automate automation," or streamline the design of assembly lines and deploy robots to reduce the time to start production, independent of the product mix or volume. Another theme was missing middleware that makes it difficult to generalize from successful deployments of components for specific tasks and transfer solutions across different manufacturing equipment and products. A final report, with plans for improving collaboration, should be ready before the end of the year and will include suggestions for creating better methods of collaboration that provide concrete problems for proposals submitted to the updated National Robotics Initiative solicitation.


Ways to Improve your Creativity at Work

BQF Innovation Blog

It is easy to get into a rut at work.  The longer you have been doing the job the greater the tendency to keep doing things the way you have always done them.  That is easy and straightforward – and boring.  In almost every job there are opportunities for creativity and innovation – sometimes they are small procedural improvements and sometimes they are big risky innovations.  How can you put some imagination and creativity into your work?  Here are seven key steps:

1.      Recognise that every product, every service, every method and every aspect of your job can be done differently and better.

2.      Ask people.

3.      Run regular brainstorms.

4.      Look far outside.

5.      Discuss with your boss. 

6.      Build prototypes.

7.      Change your attitude to failure.