"I bring up Bork not only because Sunday (10/23) is a convenient anniversary. His nomination battle is also a reminder that our poisoned politics is not just about Republicans behaving badly, as many Democrats and their liberal allies have convinced themselves. Democrats can be — and have been — every bit as obstructionist, mean-spirited and unfair.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
... Managers Believe That Are Dead Wrong
Matthew E. May, Founder, Shibumi Creative Works
June 30, 2011
Earlier this week I reviewed the book Designing for Growth, by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. In it, they propose that today's business professional, whether entrepreneur or seasoned corporate manager, needs to be become a designer of sorts, irrespective of their daily function. It's not a new idea, since design thinking has become mainstream over the past few years.
I liked how the authors made their case that the traditional business approach to a problem is profoundly different than a design approach: imagine two student teams—one composed of MBAs and the other of design students—tackling the challenge of how a consumer products firm should think about and respond to changes in the retail world over the next decade. How would they approach the problem?
The MBAs would most likely do a sweep of published data and analyses by industry experts, perhaps interview them, and benchmark leading retailers and competitors. They'd then extrapolate, produce forecasts, present a set of strategies, including financial pro forma spreadsheets, and deliver the whole thing in a PowerPoint presentation.
The design students would take a different approach. Analytical reports would be a part of their investigation as well, but they would use the reports to develop multiple scenarios of possible future states. They'd go out into the real world and start observing and talking to the real experts: customers. They'd focus on human needs, develop sketches of different customer profiles, called "archetypes" or "personas," and use the scenarios to craft storylines and model changes in the lives of these various profiles. They might conduct a brainstorm around "the store of the future." In the end, they wouldn't issue strategies or solutions in a PowerPoint, but rather mock up a few concepts to be quickly prototyped. Those concepts would be tested with real people in an effort to learn and get feedback.
The authors follow up their assertion by pointing out that "...professional managers tend to follow a set of maxims that simplify their professional lives. Sayings like 'keep your boss in the loop' and 'it's sometimes better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission' are good examples. Unfortunately, some of the old, reliable tenets don't work anymore. Here are six common management myths..."
Myth 1: Don't ask a question you don't know the answer to
This one is borrowed from trial lawyers, and it traveled into mainstream business because it always seems career-enhancing to look smart. Unfortunately, growth opportunities do not yield easily to leading questions and preconceived solutions.
A better maxim for growth leaders is: Start in the unknown.
Myth 2: Think big
There is always pressure to be sure an opportunity is big enough, but most big solutions begin small and build momentum. How seriously would you have taken eBay or PayPal? To seize growth opportunities, it is better to start small and find a deep, underlying human need to connect with.
A better maxim for growth leaders is: Focus on meeting genuine human needs.
Myth 3: If the idea is good, then the money will follow
Managers often look at unfunded ideas with disdain, confident that if the idea were good it would have attracted money on its own merits. The truth about ideas is that we don't know if they are good; only customers know that. Gmail sounds absurd: free e-mail in exchange for letting a software bot read your personal messages and serve ads tailored to your apparent interests. Who would have put money behind that? The answer, of course, is Google.
A better maxim for growth leaders is: Provide seed funding to the right people and problems, and the the growth will follow.
Myth 4: Measure twice, cut once
This one works fine in an operations setting, but when it comes to creating an as-yet-unseen future, there isn't much to measure. And spending time trying to measure the unmeasurable offers temporary comfort, but does little to reduce risk.
A better maxim for growth leaders is: Place small bets fast.
Myth 5: Be bold and decisive
In the past, business cultures were dominated by competition metaphors (sports and war being the most popular). During the 1980s and 1990s, mergers and acquisitions lent themselves to conquest language. Organic growth, by contrast, requires a lot of nurturing, intuition and a tolerance for uncertainty.
A better maxim for growth leaders is: Explore multiple options.
Myth 6: Sell your solution
When you are trying to create the future, it is difficult to know when you have it right. It is fine to be skeptical of your solutions, but be absolutely certain you have focused on a worthy problem. You'll iterate your way to a workable solution in due time.
A better maxim for growth leaders is: Choose a worthwhile customer problem. Let others validate.
These six new maxims will not simplify your life. They will make it more difficult. And that's a good thing!
Friday, May 13, 2011
- Integrity. “Integrity is the fundamental leadership attribute….Integrity is the fundamental attribute that keeps everything else secure.” Without integrity, things break down fast. Kroger CEO Dave Dillon remarked, “Integrity allows you to assume important characteristics about how things work.” As a result it fosters trust which leads to higher productivity. (See more on this on Facebook)
- Empathy. Defined as a fundamental ability to tune in to others, it “is critical for leadership for many reasons. Combined with integrity, it drives trust. It gives followers a sense that their interests are being looked after, and this creates positive energy. Followers who sense that a leader appreciates them are motivated to carry out their duties in a more committed way.”
- Emotional Intelligence. This is self-mastery or the ability to “perceive, control, and improve the connection between what we feel and the way we act.” It’s about self-awareness. Do I know myself? Can I control myself? Do I look for ways to improve?
- Vision. A frequently abused term, vision starts with imagination and an inquisitive mind. “Visionary leaders are good storytellers who are capable of weaving together interesting connections.” Vision provides direction.
- Judgment. Good judgment is good decision making. “This sounds simple enough, but the origins of how and why people make the decisions they do are actually quite complex.” It’s the ability to zero in on what’s important, see the whole chessboard, and take decisive action.
- Courage. There is always conflict. “Leadership means being on the front line of those conflicts. It means facing conflicts, mediating and shaping them, sometimes at the risk of great personal cost or freedom.” How often does a fear of standing out inhibit your ability to do the right thing?
- Passion. A leader’s passion or drive is important because it creates positive energy. “They attract followers and act as catalysts for the formation of highly motivated teams.” High energy and enthusiasm are signs of passion but the trick is to determine where that fire comes from and is the leader in it just for themselves. There is a balance to be maintained with the other six attributes.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Kim Hill, Inspiration for Ronald McDonald House, Dies at 44
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: March 9, 2011 New York Times
Friday, February 25, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I Chronicles 29:10-19 (NIV) - below are the first four (4) verses.
..."Praise be to you, O Lord,
God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
11. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory
and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in
heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord is the kingdom;
you are exalted as hea over all.
12. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler
of all things. In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
13. Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your