Leadership

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with: I. Professor Scott Galloway on the worst advice given to young people: “Your job is to find something you’re good at. And then spend thousands of hours and apply the grit and the sacrifice and the willingness to break through hard things to become great at it. Because once you’re great at something, the economic accouterments of being great at something, the prestige, the relevance, the camaraderie, the self-worth of being great … will make you passionate about whatever it is. Here’s the problem with believing you should follow your passion: Work is hard. And when you run into obstacles and you face injustice, which is a common guaranteed attribute of the workplace, you’ll start thinking, ‘I’m not loving this. This is upsetting and hard. It must not be my passion.’ That is not the right litmus test.’” Source: The Pursuit of Excellence: The Uncommon Behaviors of the World’s Most Productive Achievers by Ryan Hawk II. Stephen M. R. Covey on command and control: “Command & Control is about getting things done, but it misses the potential power of the people who get those things done. Command & Control is about being efficient with people, trying to motivate them instead of inspiring them. It’s about self-interest and competing rather than serving and caring. And if all else fails, it’s about barking out the orders so… Continue Reading

YOUR boss tells you to implement a new idea or policy that you believe will cause problems (because it’s a boneheaded idea!). You’d be out of integrity not to raise your concerns or tactfully disagree. Still, you don’t want to commit a career-limiting move. Or, you’re comfortable with the overall idea, but you want to foster deeper thinking about potential obstacles, and oh, yeah … you want to live to talk about it! You’ll Disagree Agreeably by using the Conversational Aikido Technique with managers, associates, clients, vendors, friends, family (especially kids), and others in order to: Tactfully disagree, express misgivings, or say “no” to someone’s idea, and invite others to consider factors they haven’t. Aikido Philosophy. The Eastern martial art of aikido is about harmony, not conflict, and equates well to Disagreeing Agreeably. Western boxing involves overpowering a foe—force against force. Aikido isn’t about striking, overpowering, or forcing an opponent to comply. It entails moving with and aligning with the other’s energy to remain in control. Conversational Aikido involves understanding their viewpoint and finding its merit before expressing your differing point of view. Using Political Savvy. Conversational Aikido is interpersonally savvy and politically savvy. When power, politics, and ego are involved, this tool helps you to fly under the radar of a superior’s “hyperactive ego gland.” Your well-intentioned feedback may be interpreted by ego-trippers as unwarranted criticism or an implied threat. Politically naïve people put their foot in their mouth so much they contract Athlete’s Tongue. They could floss… Continue Reading

ENGAGING leaders within your organization may require leveraging several different kinds of elements, depending on what your company’s culture most heavily emphasizes. Data and research in the business case may be enough to convince some leaders that they need to engage in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). For others, it may be how you build a relationship and emotional connection to DEIB through storytelling and trust. For still others, it can depend on how strongly you can integrate DEIB actions into leaders’ business priorities and make this work as low lift as realistically possible. It’s up to you to find out what’s most important to your leaders and connect DEIB into that. Most of the time, I find that leaders have already bought into the concepts of DEIB. What they lack is a clear understanding of how to make progress. Taking no action at all is considered safer than taking the wrong actions that might cause controversy or inadvertently offend someone. What this means is they need a clear road map of actions to take. This can take the form of a customized DEIB action plan that includes a data dashboard supporting your recommended areas of focus. Or it can be a more generic set of suggestions that any leader across the organization can take, such as stating publicly on social media that they are committed to DEIB and looking for ways to get closer to different communities. What’s most important is to define a set of actions… Continue Reading

THE CRUX of the matter is a phrase that has been around for over 200 years. Richard Rumelt recalls climbers in France calling the boulders they climb “problems,” with the toughest part of the problem referred to as “the crux.” Climbers will often look for a challenge that has the greatest reward and whose crux they believe they can solve. In The Crux, Rumelt uses this as a metaphor for life. We all face problems, and finding the crux is the secret sauce where we “can gain the most by designing, discovering, or finding a way to move through and past it.” Rumelt uses the term crux to describe a three-part strategic skill: The first part is judgment about which issues are truly important and which are secondary. The second part is judgment about the difficulties of dealing with those issues. And the third part is the ability to focus, to avoid spreading resources too thinly, not trying to do everything at once. The combination of these three parts lead to a focus on the crux—the most important part of a set of challenges that is addressable, having a good chance of being solved by coherent action. We often get off to a bad start by not understanding what a strategy is. “There is a widespread misconception that a business strategy is some sort of long-range sketch of a desired destination. I encourage you to think of strategy as a journey through, over, and around a sequence of challenges.”… Continue Reading

GROWING up the son of Haitian immigrants in the Bronx, Reggie Fils-Amié became the president of Nintendo of America through preparation and making the most of every opportunity. Curiosity drove him to new experiences. He writes in Disrupting the Game: Opportunity came when I saw the potential to achieve in ways that others didn’t immediately see. This led me to often choose untraditional paths that ran counter to expectations. Disrupting the Game is both a memoir and leadership guide. Placed throughout the journey he shares with us are what he calls “The So What.” These are the lessons gained from those experiences that he hopes will provide actionable advice in our own lives. Below are a several of the over forty lessons presented in the book: There’s a fine balance between staying true to your belief versus just being stubborn. Do you truly believe in a particular course of action, or is it your ego talking? When you are making a difficult or complex judgment, it’s especially difficult to know your own motivation. Be honest with yourself. Separate your own desire to be right or win an argument from your own core beliefs. Can you honestly say that you believe in your recommendation because it’s the right thing to do—that you’d get behind it even if someone else suggested it? I learned that opportunity is not simply handed out, like candy at the Bronx bodega. Life is hard and so you must dig deep. Persevere. Demonstrate grit. You take… Continue Reading

The effects of cultural differences for innovation are an interesting and extremely multifaceted topic.

For most of us, it probably goes without saying that cross-cultural and multicultural capabilities are crucial in today’s globalized and hyperconnected world, and innovation is no exception. These capabilities are especially important if you’re working on it in a large international organization, as many of our customers are.

Such an organization must obviously think about how to adapt new innovative products and services to the cultures and unique characteristics of different markets and regions. But, in addition to that, they also need to manage the cultural differences within their organization while trying to innovate. Given that we have customers all over the world, it’s a theme we often get asked about.

And, of course, there’s also the age-old debate about the cultures of certain regions or countries being better suited to innovation to begin with.

So, in this today’s article, we’ll dive deeper on this nuanced topic and each of those three themes around cultural differences in innovation. We’ll also end by providing you with practical advice on how to look at and take these into account in your innovation work.

Continue Reading

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with: I. Anthropologist Grant McCracken on inspiring innovation and creativity: “People who escape familiar groups and make contact with unfamiliar ones become smarter and more creative. “The trick is to invent our own serendipity to establish a cloud of possibilities in which we can spot the telling pattern. “We need ideas we can’t guess we need. We must canvass concepts that are entirely unrelated to our present problem set. Only thus do we give our deeper powers of pattern recognition a chance to work.” Source: Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas II. Former Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens on servant leadership: “Do you want to be around somebody who lifts you up, or somebody that breaks you down? That’s why whenever people ask me what’s your leadership style, my answer is, ‘It should be you.’ There’s an authenticity that is needed for leadership. If it’s not real, then it’s not going to work. “You have to be empathetic in knowing that everybody has their own lives, and everybody has something tough going on. You need to make sure you understand that before you coach them.” Source: Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great Teams by Seth Davis * * * Look for these ideas every Thursday on… Continue Reading

Many would-be innovators obsess over ideas, wait for inspiration to strike, and believe that with the right idea, success can miraculously come overnight.

However, as we’ve written before, that’s just not going to happen. In fact, usually the only thing separating the winning innovators from the rest is execution. It makes all the difference in the world, and yet, it’s still a vastly underrated capability.

As part of our coaching program, we’ve asked hundreds of corporate innovators and innovation leaders to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. And, by far, the most common answer is that they’re great at coming up with ideas and thinking about the big picture but lack the patience and discipline to see things through to results.

As such, it’s safe to say that as a community, we innovators need to take a hard look in the mirror and admit that this an area where most of us have a lot of room for improvement.

So, in today’s article, we’ll explore the topic of executing innovation in more detail to try to understand what the problems associated with it are, and what successful execution of an innovation really takes. This is designed to be a guide to help leaders get it right, but I think there’s a lot that every innovator regardless of job title can learn from.

Continue Reading