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01.31.09

LeadershipNow 140: January 2009 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from January 2009:
  • The phrase leaders cast long shadows is used to draw attention to the fact that a leader’s actions are magnified far more than they imagine
  • “You always have to eat humble pie at some point…. Every rejection is the fuel for what you will be.” Diane von Furstenberg in Feb 2009 T&C
  • WN: A leader must summon citizens to rise above themselves, but without appearing preachy or contemptuous of their present state of mind
  • Not what you’d expect him to say: Creativity flourishes at the edges of things. It needs boundaries and it needs constraints. P Ibbotson
  • Without an effective infrastructure for learning – action reviews – a plan is just a plan. An idea is not reality.
  • Chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen: History Will Remember Bush Well http://ow.ly/4GF
  • FT said of Obama’s speech: “the performance of a born leader.” That really means he put the time in. You’re seeing the result.
  • FT: Managers who see economic strife only as a threat are missing out on ideal opportunity to implement change and instill better practice.
  • Kissinger: Occasionally an outsider may provide perspective; almost never does he have enough knowledge to advise soundly on tactical moves
  • Think of leadership IN, not leadership OF. It's not position.
  • To develop new leaders, existing leaders will have to give up control and empower emerging leaders to lead in new ways.
  • In a downturn, set realistic goals and use shorter time horizons. Predictions are likely to be more accurate and relevant.
See more on twitter Twitter.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:36 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | LeadershipNow 140

01.30.09

Communication Crib Sheet for Crisis Times

In a excellent series of special reports on Managing in a Downturn produced by the Financial Times, Paul A. Argenti, professor of corporate communication at Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, observes that “many companies flail by failing to act or by taking the wrong kind of action when communicating with distressed stakeholders.” People are eager to listen and by acting quickly and thoughtfully, “a company can build reputational capital and weather the storm to come out on the other side perceived as a long-term leader.”

During a crisis, companies can uncover opportunity by adhering to a few simple guidelines when communicating with investors, employees, the press and the general public.
  • Do not hide: not hearing from you will breed additional suspicion and mistrust among stakeholders
  • Gather relevant information and stick to your story: be as informed as possible to reassure stakeholders that you are in control and in the know. Switching gears or waffling signals insecurity
  • Communicate early and often: both internally and externally. Keeping employees well informed is a vital step to keeping your organization on message with all stakeholders
  • Centralize communications: sending conflicting messages from different areas of a company signals disorganization and undermines stakeholder confidence
  • Get inside the media’s head: anticipate how the press might spin first-hand or second-hand information
  • Choose communication channels thoughtfully: how and where you say something is as crucial as what you are saying. During a period of distress, scrutiny of corporate communications is higher than ever as stakeholders clamor for information
  • Communicate directly with affected constituencies: during times of instability and uncertainty, people want to be reassured by hearing information straight from the horse’s mouth
  • Keep the business running: even in the face of upheaval, remind stakeholders that you have not taken your eye off your primary purpose as a for-profit corporation that drives returns for investors
  • Keep values and character center-stage: in a period of crisis, maintaining trust is paramount. Adhering to corporate values, and using them as a navigational compass to guide corporate strategy and communications, will demonstrate stability and reliability, assuring stakeholders your head and heart are in the right place.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:45 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication

01.29.09

Out of Context: What Will Leaders of the Future Look Like

The leaders of the future will be known for …
  • Less for what they say and more for what they deliver
  • Less by their title and position and more by their expertise and competence
  • Less by what they control and more by what they shape
  • Less by goals they set and more by mind-sets they build
  • Both for great personal credibility and for exceptional organizational capabilities
—Dave Ulrich
The Leader of the Future: New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:05 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Out of Context

01.27.09

Newswire: Presidential Regrets? GHW Bush and Clinton Speak Out

NewsWire
    January 27, 2009 CNN Politics
AutoExec
Today, at the National Automobile Dealers Association in New Orleans, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton delivered remarks during the general session. When asked about his biggest regret after leaving office, Bush said he now wonders whether he should have tried to get Saddam Hussein to leave office at the end of the first Gulf War in 1991.

CNN reports that he told the gathering, "I've thought a lot about it, but at the end of Desert Storm, the question was should we have kind of kept going on that road to death and all this slaughter until Saddam Hussein showed up and laid his sword on the table, surrendered. And the common wisdom was he wouldn't do that."

But he said a conversation with an FBI agent who interrogated Saddam after he was captured has made him reconsider.

Bush recalled their talk, "I said, 'What if we just say he has to come to surrender, would he have done it?' And this guy said, 'I'm absolutely convinced he would have.' My experts tell me he wouldn't have…. We ended it the way we said we would" as a military success, but noted a cleaner ending "would have been perfect."

Clinton said that his number one regret is that he was not able to persuade Yasser Arafat to accept the peace plan he offered at the end of his presidency that the Israelis accepted.

"If he had done that ... we had had seven years of progress toward peace. We had one year in 1998, the only year in the history of Israel where not a single soul was killed in a terrorist act. The Palestinians had more control over West Bank then than they do today," Clinton said. "And if he had taken that deal, we would have a Palestinian state and we would have had, I think now, normal peaceful relations with Israel and all of its Arab neighbors."

Clinton also said he regretted not doing more to "stop the Rwandan genocide," and succeeding on a new health care plan.

He added "presidents should share freely ... the mistakes they made" with historians, because it teaches lessons. He said he shared problems during the lunch with Obama and the four living presidents, saying, "You want each new president to make new mistakes, not the same ones .... all of us know if you make enough decisions, you're going to make a few of them aren't right."
* * *

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:12 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | NewsWire

01.26.09

You Can’t Order Change: Making Ethics and Compliance a Clear Competitive Advantage

When Jim McNerney became CEO of Boeing in 2005, change wasn’t an option. It was mandated. In 2005 Boeing was facing investigations into illegal business practices, there was the sex scandal, revenue was down, and key people were jumping ship. In short, it wasn’t the place to work.
You Can’t Order Change


But even when everyone agrees that change is necessary – even vital – it doesn’t come easy. It still has to be approached in a careful and respectful way. You Can’t Order Change, by Peter Cohan, is about how McNerney brought about that change in Boeing. How he cleaned up the mess and changed the culture and revitalized the organization.

Probably the biggest task that faced him was the quagmire created by years of costly ethical problems. He had to settle a lawsuit with the government and create a culture of ethics and compliance. This has to be done by example and system changes that encourage ethical behavior and compliance.

He said in Boeing Frontiers, “I plan to make leadership development a focus across the company because I believe that as we strengthen our leadership capacities, we can have a positive impact on the company's overall performance. As I've said before, better leaders make better companies. And effective leadership, at all levels of an organization, is based on a foundation of trust, integrity and escape-free compliance. As we turn up the gain in leadership-development training, we will embed in it an equal emphasis on how leaders can lead with ethics and integrity.”

Cohan writes that McNerney made sure that ethics wasn’t a passing fad, but a value that had teeth in it. If the leaders of the organization “have not been behaving in a way that’s consistent with Boeing’s values, he expects them to change their behavior. And if they don’t meet McNerney’s expectations, they lose their leadership roles.”

Step one for McNerney, of course, is getting the leaders to act ethically; to set he example. Cohan cites this statement from McNerney:
We also realize it all starts with leadership. If an organization’s leaders don’t model, encourage, expect and reward the right behaviors, why should anyone else in that organization exhibit those behaviors? Companies have to take the hugely important step of driving ethics and compliance through their core leadership and Human Resources processes. This must be … and must be seen to be … a central part of the whole system of training and developing leaders and of the whole process of evaluating and promoting people. This is the key.”
Critical also to this change is a system that supports and rewards people for getting results ethically and gets rid of people who don’t. Cohan writes, “McNerney let people know that he wanted them to discuss problems and not bury them.” If people didn’t talk about ethics and compliance, he would bring it up. “Ultimately, McNerney want to avoid surprises about ethical problems that originate at lower levels. I know and you know … that one of the absolute perquisites for success in ethics and compliance is the belief that it is OK for people to question what happens around them.”

McNerney’s methods and approach to change have gotten him dramatic results and they are worth studying.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:35 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Ethics , Human Resources , Management

Attributes of a Boeing Leader

When Ginger Barnes spoke to employees at a leadership development program at the Boeing Leadership Center, she said, “Leadership is all about leaders teaching leaders and about relationships. We can execute the daylights out of anything, so ‘finds a way’ and ‘delivers results’ have always been strong traits. Where we need to improve is in the areas of ‘charts the course,’ ‘sets high expectations’ and ‘inspires others.’” That probably true just about anywhere you go. To strengthen the culture of leadership and accountability within the company, Boeing defined its expectations for leaders as:

A Boeing Leader:Boeing
  • Charts the course
  • Sets high expectations
  • Inspires others
  • Finds a way
  • Lives the Boeing values
  • Delivers results

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:30 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership

01.23.09

A Downturn Provides the Ideal Opportunity to Force Hard Choices

London Business School professor Donald Sull writes in today’s Financial Times that we need to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by the economic downturn:
Major change efforts are difficult in the best of times, and many executives worry that a downturn will halt future progress or reverse any gains made to date. Indeed, in a downturn, managers too often scurry from fighting one fire to the next and thereby lose sight of the longer transformation effort.

Large-scale change initiatives typically require eight to 10 years to complete and often run out of steam along the way. Downturns provide an ideal opportunity to re-invigorate an ongoing transformation. Managers can harness a downturn to renew a sense of urgency, justify unpopular decisions and overcome complacency or resistance to change.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:29 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , General Business

Step One: Reality Check

Reality Check
We have written here that this is the season to rethink, explore, fine tune what works, discard what doesn’t and set a new course. Essentially what we need is a reality check. No longer can we skate by on surplus. Guy Kawasaki’s new book, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, is a good place to begin.

It would be unfortunate if the book’s heft – 474 pages – made it too intimidating to pick up because it’s full of great insights, clever thought and often provocative ideas that will make you see things in a new way. I don’t recommend reading it from cover to cover. It’s not that kind of book. It’s more of a highly readable, reference tool that you’ll want to refer to again and again. Besides, unless you were born in this century, you’ll need some time to allow your brain to create some new circuitry.

There aren’t any shortcuts given here. Often life and especially entrepreneurship, is about grinding it out; sticking to what you believe in until it works. It’s not about sticking to your competition either. It’s about focusing on what you can do to add value to your customers and the world. Frank Sinatra famously said, “The best revenge is massive success.” What drives your competition crazy is your success.

The 94 chapters are based on his highly regarded blog, How To Change the World. The topics cover everything from the start-up, maintaining, growing your business to communicating your message and surviving what comes your way.

Some takeaways:
  • Postpone, or at least de-emphasize, touchy-feely goals. (The free cafeteria and laundry service is the reward not the catalyst.)
  • Follow through on an issue until it is done or irrelevant.
  • Establish a culture of execution and reward the achievers.
  • The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. 10 Slides. 20 Minutes. 30-point Font.
  • Be able to explain something in thirty seconds.
  • The purpose of school is not to prepare for working but to prepare for living.
  • Don’t coerce or dominate, reconcile conflicts, and give power to get power. That’s how to influence people.
There’s more, but it would take 474 pages. Better get the book.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:21 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Management , Marketing

01.22.09

Newswire: Warren Buffett on the Economy and Investing

NewsWire
As part of the Nightly Business Report‘s 30th anniversary, Susie Gharib interviews Warren Buffett. It airs tonight on PBS. Here are a few excerpts from that interview:

SG: What about the regulatory system, is it a matter of making new rules or simply doing a better job at enforcing the rules we already have?
WB: Well there are probably some new rules needed, but the regulatory system I don’t think could have stopped this. Once you get the bubble going... once the American public, the U.S. Congress, all the commentators, the media, everybody else started thinking house prices could go nothing up, you were creating a bubble that would have huge consequences because the asset class was so big. I mean you had 22 trillion dollars probably worth of homes. It was the biggest asset of most American families and you let them borrow 100% in many cases of the price of those and you let them refi up to where they kept taking out more and more and treating it as an ATM machine.. the bubble was going to happen.

SG: But everybody is saying we need more rules, we have to enforce them, we need to go after every institution, every financial market. Do you think that new rules will do the trick or do we have enough rules that we just need to enforce them?
WB: Well you can have a rule for example to prevent another real estate bubble; you just require that anybody bought a house to put 20% down and make sure that the payments were not more than a third of their income. Now we would not have a big bust ever in real estate again, but we would also have people screaming that you’re denying home ownership to all these people that you got a home yourself and now you’re saying a guy with a 5% down payment shouldn’t get one. So I think it’s very tough to put rules out... I mean I can design rules that will prevent it but it will have other consequences. It’s like I say in economics you can’t just do one thing and where the balance is struck on that will be a political question. My guess is that it won’t be struck particularly well, but that’s just the nature of politics.

SG: This financial crisis has been extraordinary in so many ways, how has it changed your approach to investing?
WB: Doesn’t change my approach at all. My approach to investing I learned in 1949 or ‘50 from a book by Ben Graham and it’s never changed.

SG: So many people I have talked to this past year say this was unprecedented… the unthinkable happened. And that hasn’t at all impacted your philosophy on this?
WB: No and if I were buying a farm, I wouldn’t change my ideas about how to buy a farm or an apartment house or a business and that’s all a stock is. It’s part of a business so if I were going to buy stock in a private business here in Omaha, I’d look at it just like I would have looked at it two years ago and I’ll look at it the same way two years from now. I look at how much I am getting for my money, how good the management is, how the competitive position of that business compares to others, how durable it is and just fundamental questions. The stock market is... you can forget about that. Any stock I buy I will be happy owning it if they close the stock market for five years tomorrow. In other words I am buying a business. I’m not buying a stock. I’m buying a little piece of a business, just like I buy a farm. And that doesn’t change. And all the newspapers headlines of the world don’t change that. It doesn’t mean you can’t buy it cheaper tomorrow. It may turn out that way. But the real question is did I get my money’s worth when I bought it?

SG: On the 30th anniversary of Nightly Business Report. As you look back on the past three decades, what would you say is the most important lesson that you’ve learned about investing?
WB: Well I’ve learned my lessons before that. I read a book what is it, almost 60 years ago roughly, called The Intelligent Investor and I really learned all I needed to know about investing from that book, in particular chapters 8 and 20 so I haven’t changed anything since…. But you know you don’t change your philosophy assuming you think have a sound one and I picked up I didn’t figure it out myself, I learned it from Ben Graham, but I got a framework for investing that I put in place back in 1950 roughly and that framework is the framework I use now. I see different ways to apply it from time to time but that is the framework.

SG: Can you describe what it is? I mean what is your most important investment lesson?
WB: The most important investment lesson is to look at a stock as a piece of business not just some thing that jiggles up and down or that people recommend or people talk about earnings being up next quarter, something like that, but to look at it as a business and evaluate it as a business. If you don’t know enough to evaluate it as a business you don’t know enough to buy it. And if you do know enough to evaluate it as a business and its selling cheap, you buy it and don’t worry about what its doing next week, next month or next year.

* * *

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:23 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | NewsWire

What to Look for in a Team of Advisors

In 1976, Stephen Hess wrote in Organizing the Presidency that in choosing Cabinet members, while the notion of a Cabinet “type” can be overdrawn, there are qualities that the President should look for in public executives.

Persuasiveness. “This is necessary in large, hierarchical organizations where leaders have limited control over personnel and where the tug of inertia may be considerable.”

Personal stability. “This calls for a sturdy internal gyroscope, stamina, and the ability to work under pressure.

Broad-gauged intelligence. “…ability to conceptualize, to see the policy implications and consequences of their actions.”

Flexibility. “They must do so without losing site of the President’s ultimate goals.”

A sense of duty. “Unlike the President and members of Congress, they are not elected. This means, paradoxically, that they must have an even sharper sense of responsibility than an elected official.”

A thick skin. They “should be lightning rods for public unhappiness and, if they are doing their jobs properly, they will deflect from the President as much criticism as possible.”

Patience and impatience. They must be able to “deal with endless procedures,” hearings and meetings and yet at the same time they “must prod their subordinates to do better and must use their impatience with the status quo as a constructive tool of management.”

These qualities might well be considered when looking for any team of advisors.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:28 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Teamwork

01.20.09

The Top 5 U.S. Inaugural Speeches

David Greenberg, a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, offers his view of the five best inaugural speeches in the Wall Street Journal. “Over the decades, indeed, only a few have gained canonical status – for the sublimity of their prose, the eloquence of their delivery or the aptness of their message for a concurrent crisis.” I would place Lincoln’s short but powerful second inaugural address in 1865 as the best, but here is Greenburg’s list:

5. John F. Kennedy – 1961 “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

4. Thomas Jefferson – 1801 (First Inaugural Address) “But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

3. Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1937 (Second Inaugural Address) “Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.... It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope—because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
FDR Second Inaugural Address


2. Abraham Lincoln – 1865 (Second Inaugural Address) “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1933 (First Inaugural Address) “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:08 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication

The Presidential Inauguration: Firsts and Facts

Since 1901, all Inaugural ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol have been organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC). They have provided us with a list of firsts and interesting facts about U.S. Presidential Inaugurations. President links go to detail pages on the JCCIC web site.

Inauguration Date President Facts and Firsts
April 30, 1789 George Washington First Inauguration; precedents set include the phrase, "So help me God," and kissing the Bible after taking the oath.
March 4, 1793 George Washington First Inauguration in Philadelphia; delivered shortest Inaugural address at just 135 words.
March 4, 1797 John Adams First to receive the oath of office from the Chief Justice of the United States.
March 4, 1801 Thomas Jefferson First Inauguration in Washington, D.C.
March 4, 1809 James Madison Inauguration held in the House chamber of the Capitol; first Inaugural ball held that evening.
March 4, 1817 James Monroe First President to take the oath of office and deliver the Inaugural address outdoors; ceremony took place on platform in front of the temporary Brick Capitol (where Supreme Court now stands).
March 5, 1821 James Monroe March 4, 1821 fell on a Sunday, so Monroe's Inauguration occurred the next day.
March 4, 1829 Andrew Jackson First President to take the oath of office on the east front portico of the U.S. Capitol.
March 4, 1833 Andrew Jackson Last time Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath office; he presided over nine Inaugurations, from Adams to Jackson.
March 4, 1837 Martin Van Buren First President who was not born a British subject; first time the President-elect and President rode to the Capitol for the Inauguration together.
March 4, 1841 William H. Harrison First President to arrive in Washington by railroad; delivered the longest Inaugural address (8,445 words).
April 6, 1841 John Tyler First Vice President to assume Presidency upon the death of the President.
March 4, 1845 James K. Polk First Inauguration covered by telegraph; first known Inauguration featured in a newspaper illustration (Illustrated London News).
March 4, 1853 Franklin Pierce Affirmed the oath of office rather than swear it; cancelled the Inaugural ball.
March 4, 1857 James Buchanan First Inauguration known to have been photographed.
March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln's cavalry escort to the Capitol was heavily armed, providing unprecedented protection for the President-elect.
March 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln African Americans participated in the Inaugural parade for the first time.
March 4, 1873 Ulysses S. Grant Coldest March 4 Inauguration Day; the noon temperature was 16°F, with wind gusts up to 40 mph.
March 3, 1877 Rutherford B. Hayes March 4, 1877 fell on Sunday, so Hayes took oath of office on Saturday, March 3 to ensure peaceful transition of power; public Inauguration on March 5.
March 4, 1881 James Garfield First President to review the Inaugural parade from a stand built in front of the White House.
March 4, 1897 William McKinley First Inaugural ceremony recorded by a motion picture camera; first President to have a glass-enclosed reviewing stand; first Inauguration at which Congress hosted a luncheon for the President and Vice President
March 4, 1901 William McKinley First time the U.S. House joined with the U.S. Senate, creating the JCCIC, to make Inaugural arrangements
March 4, 1909 William H. Taft Inauguration took place in the Senate chamber because of blizzard; first time President's wife rode with President in the procession from the Capitol to the White House after Inauguration.
March 4, 1913 Woodrow Wilson Inaugural ball was suspended for the first time since 1853.
March 4, 1917 Woodrow Wilson First President to take the oath of office on Sunday; public Inauguration held on Monday, March 5, 1917; first time First Lady accompanied President both to and from the Capitol; first time women participated in the Inaugural parade.
March 4, 1921 Warren G. Harding First President to ride to and from his Inauguration in an automobile.
March 4, 1925 Calvin Coolidge First Inaugural ceremony broadcast nationally by radio; first time a former President (William Taft) administered the oath of office as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
March 4, 1929 Herbert Hoover First Inaugural ceremony recorded by talking newsreel.
March 4, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt FDR and Eleanor begin tradition of morning worship service by attending St. John's Church.
January 20, 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt First President Inaugurated on January 20th, a change made by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution; first time the Vice President was Inaugurated outdoors on the same platform with the President.
January 20, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt First and only President sworn in for a fourth term; had simple Inaugural ceremony at the White House.
January 20, 1949 Harry S. Truman First televised Inaugural ceremony; Truman reinstated the official Inaugural ball.
January 20, 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower Broke precedent by reciting his own prayer after taking the oath, rather than kissing the Bible; first time the JCCIC hosted the Inaugural luncheon at the Capitol.
January 20, 1961 John F. Kennedy First time a poet participated in the Inaugural program; first Catholic to become President of the United States.
November 22, 1963 Lyndon B. Johnson First time a woman administered the oath of office (U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes swore in Johnson on Air Force One).
January 20, 1969 Richard M. Nixon Took the oath of office on two Bibles; both family heirlooms.
August 9, 1974 Gerald R. Ford First unelected Vice President to become President.
January 20, 1981 Ronald Reagan First Inauguration held on the west front of the U.S. Capitol.
January 21, 1985 Ronald Reagan January 20th fell on Sunday, so Reagan was privately sworn in that day at the White House; public Inauguration on January 21st took place in the Capitol Rotunda, due to freezing weather; coldest Inauguration day on record, with a noon temperature of 7°F
January 20, 1997 William Clinton First Inaugural ceremony broadcast live on the Internet.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:06 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Government

01.19.09

Hitting Your Goals by Knowing What Matters

Relevance
“The trouble with an overload of information isn’t just that it’s confusing. It’s that the data have conflicting implications,” writes David Apgar in Relevance: Hitting Your Goals By Knowing What Matters. Today, data is cheap so we make more of it. But in generating more of it, we unwittingly complicate our decisions. The problem is in determining what is relevant.

Two tests help to determine the usefulness of any piece of information. First, is its specificity “because you can draw more conclusions from precise outcomes rather than vague ones.” And secondly is its relevance. “Relevance has to do with how well a piece of information tests your expectations.”

Apgar suggests that while we have become used to less relevant data we have developed two bad habits. “Instead of devising a specific strategy to meet a financial goal like a sales or profit target, we’re increasingly tempted to enumerate requirements for meeting the goal…. Requirements are not strategies. An unlike strategies, there’s little to learn when they fail to work.” And then there’s our growing reliance on red herrings. “Red herrings are results that appear to confirm your plans but in reality are merely consistent with them.” We end up chasing after the wrong thing.

It leads to an unintended use of the balanced scorecard. “It’s too easy for organizations to fill out balanced scorecards with lists of obvious requirements for success that resemble ingredients in a cookbook. The trouble isn’t that the ingredients may be wrong; it’s that they run so little risk of being wrong. As a result, they end up saying very little.” The strategy should look more like a recipe than a list of ingredients. There is little chance of the ingredients being wrong. You can execute the ingredients, but the recipe is what needs to be tested.

Apgar offers a quick and efficient way to get the indicators that test strategic assumptions and devising better performance strategies. He writes, “A leader must both promulgate polices clear enough to test and be ready to change them. Clarity and a critical attitude are great virtues when combined. Instead of avoiding leaders with simplistic or nuanced approached to the world, organizations and countries alike need leaders who alternate between them.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:21 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Management , Problem Solving

01.16.09

Maybe What You Need is a Little Disruption

How Disruption Brought Order
In times like this we need to rethink what we are doing. Hit the reset button. Jean-Marie Dru’s prescription may be just the thing you need. Dru is the President and CEO of TWBA/Worldwide and author of How Disruption Brought Order, calls it Disruption. Disruption is “breaking with the status quo, refusing given wisdom, and finding unexpected solutions. We believe that the best way to help our clients grow their businesses is most often through strategies that involve rupture.”

In describing marketing campaigns for Nissan (Shift), Adidas (Impossible is Nothing), Apple (Think Different), and others, he shows how Disruption asks the public to see the brand in a new light and thereby refresh, transform and reinvent it. But, it’s not limited to marketing and advertising. It as application to both your business and your thinking.

“If you change nothing within a company you are sure to fail. As you also will if you try to change everything. The key to success lies within your ability to determine the fine line between what must change and what you must not.

Fiona Clancy, the TWBA Disruption Director, summaries it this way:

Disruption Is:

• Being endlessly curious
• Keeping an open mind
• Looking for new beginnings with larger futures
• Anticipating the future without fully expecting it
• Accelerating change to your clients advantage
• Recognizing patterns of success and building on them
• Being creative ahead of the usual agency creative process (Creative is not a department.)
• Turning intuition into a discipline, but without devaluing intuition
• Gaining stability from going somewhere fast
• Being in control rather than controlling
• Anticipating change rather than defending against it
• Questioning the way things are: imagining the way things could be

Disruption Is Not:

• Change for change’s sake
• Upsetting the client’s organization
• A particular creative style
• Throwing away the past
• Being deliberately wacky
• Limited to advertising

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:01 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Creativity & Innovation , Marketing

Jean-Marie Dru On Leadership

Leadership Nuggets

I do not believe much in natural leadership. The majority of chief executives I know were not necessarily destined for that path. They have been molded by the events they have lived through and the people they have met.

The concept of leadership thus evolves into a much narrower question: How can you make sure you will be in the right place at the right time?

To people wishing to enter the advertising business, I always explain that the first quality they will need is tenacity. Mere talent is not much use in the face of the countless obstacles that will get in the way of the best performance. Success is born of determination rather than just ambition. Ambition relates to strategy, whereas determination is linked to execution.

Adapted from How Disruption Brought Order by Jean-Marie Dru

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:08 AM
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01.15.09

Living Within the Lie

British economist John Kay wrote in the Financial Times about the power of words to send us off into the wrong direction. There are some good thoughts here. Here is an excerpt:

In western liberal democracies, no one exhibits slogans calling on the workers to unite. But you see similar displays in reception areas of businesses and even in government offices. They urge us to pursue excellence, to delight our customers, to be wholehearted in our embrace of change. Employees place these exhortations on desks and walls with the same resignation as the Czech greengrocer. The modern analogue of the address to the party congress is the business speech, in which tired clichés relentlessly follow each other, to similarly sycophantic applause.

The objective of the patronising drivel emitted by politicians and business people is to drive out argument. Engaged debate is replaced by what Jack Welch, the former General Electric chief executive, memorably characterised as “superficial congeniality”. Apparent consensus is achieved by euphemism, by avoiding issues of substance and by using slogans instead of analysis.

Mr Welch saw that the opposite of superficial congeniality was “facing reality”. But the effect, and intention, of the tacit compliance involved in superficial congeniality is to entrench a reality of power: to legitimise authority based only on the occupation of positions of authority.

Living within the lie, because it does not face reality, is the process by which great organisations fall into catastrophic errors – and through which they often fail to recognise these errors even after their consequences have become apparent. The self-deception of living within the lie is how banks fell victim to the credit crunch and the US came to be embroiled in Iraq…. Dishonesty of speech quickly leads to dishonesty in behaviour because the language we use governs all we do.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:33 AM
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01.14.09

lead:ology - Leadership: Whence It Came, Where It Went

leadology King Solomon wisely remarked that there is nothing new under the sun. Leadership is relational and as such, has been a part of the human equation ever since two people first came together and found themselves responsible for and charged with making something of their world. And we have been doing it ever since. From the beginning, as it is today, it is and has been practiced both badly and remarkably well.

The earliest practitioners knew in principle what we know today. We aren’t the first to have learned how to lead, but in no other time have we tried to quantify it like we do today. Our scientific approach and thinking, while of great value, has really only added to our understanding of the why. Though we are drawn to binary reasoning and absolutes, leadership does not lend itself to that kind of thinking nor is it practiced that way. It is not rigid in nature.

In the study of leadership as in much else, complexity is used to hide the truth rather than reveal it. The general principles of human behavior are not complex and are available to everyone. For some it seems only right that something so important should be shrouded in mystery. We would be well advised not to make the simple complex. Leadership creates ample opportunity for nuances of thought to be displayed in other ways. At the same time, while leadership is not complex, it isn’t easy. Make no mistake. Leadership is hard.

It is fashionable to raise leadership above the common man, yet it is in the common man that leadership resides and from the common man that leadership must rise to meet the challenges of the time. Leadership is common to us all—men and women—if we will but choose it.

Where are all the leaders? This is a persistent question. Actually, leaders are all around us. More often the problem we are lamenting is the lack of character we need in our leaders; the need for selflessness. Leaders reflect the society from which they come. If we don’t like what we see, we have to grapple with the fact that we are rewarding, nourishing and displaying the wrong behaviors in our homes, our schools and our churches. We need to take a hard look at these crucibles were our leaders are made. It is silly to endlessly attack what we have produced and do nothing about the source of the problem. We need to get the fundamentals right. Poor leadership is a self-inflicted wound.

At the same time, we as followers are a fickle lot. We don’t always feel we need leaders. When times are difficult and the choices not so clear, we clamor for someone to lead us. When times are easy, we are ambivalent towards leadership. We would prefer to have no one telling us what we should do, guiding us to make distinctions or inspiring us to be more than we are. We like things just the way they are. Nothing more consistently troubles the human mind than to be presented with a new direction when things are going well. This human tendency no doubt led Peter Drucker to observe that leadership is a foul-weather job. We want a leader to save us; to take away the discomfort. But a great leader never does. A great leader never does for people what they can and should do for themselves. A great leader guides, demonstrates direction and provides encouragement.

If history teaches us anything, we learn that leadership is temporary and so it must be constantly renewed both individually and collectively. From history we also see how the context of leadership changes and so then its form must also adapt.

Experiencing leadership is a lot easier than doing leadership. It’s more comfortable to push it off on someone else, than to expose ourselves by taking up the task. But it is a task we all must embrace at some level if we are to create a future for ourselves and others. Find your future in your present and let your passion and the needs of those around you, be your guide.

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lead:ology

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Of Related Interest
  lead:ology - What is Leadership?
  lead:ology - Leaders vs Managers: A False Dichotomy

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:12 AM
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01.13.09

The Block of Wood That Became the First Sony Walkman

In The Illusion of Leadership, Piers Ibbotson explains the difference between the creative and the managerial style of leadership. “Creative leadership thinks as it works. One of the fundamentals of the creative style is that you have a leader who can frame the task so that the led will be delighted to attack it and bring their imaginations with them as they do….you cannot define in detail the out come. He cites the following example of the development of the Sony Walkman:
Walkman 1979The CEO goes down to the research labs where all the eggheads are working. He gathers them round and he pulls out of his shirt pocket a small block of wood. He holds it up and he says: “Make me a tape-player this big.” He puts it down on the table and he leaves.

This is good constraint. It is concrete and specific. The guys can pick it up and start measuring. They can respond immediately and the challenge focuses them immediately in the right direction.

But this is really such a good constraint because of what it not said:
  • He did not say “Make me the smallest tape-recorder you can.” (They’d still be at it.)
  • He did not say “Make me a small portable tap player.” (They might come up with something just to big to fit in your shirt pocket.)
  • He did not say “Make something new and revolutionary that will let people play music wherever they want.” (No point in encouraging them to reinvent the wheel.)
  • He did not email them a set of specifications. (How would they tell he cared about the outcome?)
He went there in person; he gave a controlled and gnomic performance in front of the people who would be doing the work. He left plenty of space for them to imagine, invent and innovate but within concrete and specific boundaries that he personally communicated. He had a partial vision of the desired outcome, but he had no idea how it would finally turn out.

He did not give them a target to hit; he gave them a field to play in.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:55 AM
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01.12.09

Leading for Creativity

In a press release for Gosford Park, director Robert Altman explains, "The characters in Gosford Park had very few mandates. There are certain things that happen in the plot, and most actors will read the script and come prepared, but I don't say, 'This is the way to do it.' They have the whole sphere of their character in their head, and I don't want to cut it down to a little slice of pie. There are plenty of people [on a project] that keep track and see that we get through plot points, but if I'm just shooting to get that stuff in, then I'm looking for the wrong thing. What I really want to see from an actor is something I've never seen before, so, I can't tell them what it is.

We normally shoot a few takes, even if the first one was terrific, because what I'm really hoping for is a 'mistake.' I think that most of the really great moments in my films were not planned. They were things that occurred and we thought, 'Wow, look at that - that's something we want to keep!'"

The Illusion of Leadership
This dovetails with what Piers Ibbotson writes in The Illusion of Leadership. “The best directors did not know in detail what was going to happen in the play until they saw me do it. They didn’t tell me what I should do because they didn’t know. This ability to carry on being in charge and maintaining the trust of a company, when you and I do not and cannot know in detail how things will turn out, seems to me to be at the heart of creative leadership in business and the arts.”

Because, Ibbotson believes, that people outside the arts generally misunderstand the creative process and the behaviors necessary to encourage creative teamwork, they don’t put a culture in place that promotes group creativity. It doesn’t come from competitive individualism and it needs boundaries and constraints. “The creative juices get going when you are up against a boundary, at the edge of what is acceptable, possible, or known.”

Ibbotson presents the leader as director. He explains how they release creativity and optimize innovation, how they give space to the creative drives of performers but still maintain an outcome that is true to the original vision and delivered on time and within budget. If the right culture is in place, innovation is not an issue.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:20 AM
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01.09.09

The Accountable Leader

Brian Dive tells us in The Accountable Leader that many organizations have difficulty developing leaders and fostering effective leadership because they have never considered the context they must lead in. The organization must be structured, Dive contends, so that all leadership roles from top to bottom have well-defined decision rights. In other words, accountability needs to be structured into the very fiber of the organizational architecture at all levels. Accountability, organizational design and leadership are three inextricably linked factors.
An organization is in flow, or in a state of equilibrium, when the required number of management layers (vertical architecture) matches the effective reach (or span of control) over the relevant resources that the organization needs in order to achieve its purpose.
After briefly explaining the problem and the key concepts used in correcting it, he begins to present practical application of his ideas for creating accountability within an organization.

The Accountable Leader
He addresses questions such as: How many layers of management are necessary? How do leadership requirements change at different levels? How can potential leaders be identified? How can they be developed? How should people be rewarded?

Beyond the useful correctives to organization architecture and accountability, Dive also makes an important distinction between Managerial leadership (operational in nature) and Strategic leadership (changing the organization) for leadership development. Each requires different abilities and approaches in decision-making style and accountability. “Operational accountability is ensuring that existing assets and resources continue to perform better. The resources are given. Problem-solving remains related to actual events, rather than the abstract.” With Strategic accountability “problem-solving moves into the abstract domain. Solutions have to be found that require mental modeling, as they do not yet physically exist.”

On leadership development, Dive writes that “many organizations still confuse values, skills and competencies” and “it is one of the main reasons why so many leadership development programs fail.” Here are several thoughts in this regard:
Although values and skills, especially technical skills, play an important role in who should work in an organization, they are not reliable guides for assessment of potential and who should be promoted.

Values are badges of belonging. They should end the message: “If you do not share our values, you cannot be a member of our family.” But you do not promote people for demonstrating the organizational values. The person at the front line should have as much integrity as the CEO, otherwise neither should be in the organization.

Skills influence performance. They should not be confused with the concept of potential to lead at the next level of accountability. Technical and professional skills increasingly give way to the importance of general skills. The best math teacher in a school is not necessarily the best candidate for the role of school principle.

But performance is about current leadership. Potential is about future leadership. This is a key distinction. The higher the progression into the upper reaches of an organization, the less relevant professional skills and performance become as predictors of future performance.

It is critical that the behaviors are linked to accountabilities. This is because different levels call for different qualities of decisions. It is important to identify the appropriate behaviors that align these. These aligned behaviors are called competencies in this context. They indicate who has potential to move to a higher level and perform successfully. This is the basis of true leadership development.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:01 AM
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01.08.09

One More Time: Resilience is Key

In The Knack, a book for entrepreneurs, Norm Broadsky and Bo Burlingham respond to the question, “What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?” The most important quality is resilience. “I’m talking about the ability to bounce back from failure, to turn around a bad situation, to profit from your mistakes. They continue:
That’s because everybody makes mistakes, plenty of them. What’s more, we keep making them as long as we’re in business. Sure, we like to think we’ll eventually get so smart we won’t make mistakes anymore. Forget about it. You’ll never stop making mistakes. Hopefully, the new ones won’t be the same as the old ones, but they’ll be equally painful. They’ll bug you just as much. They’ll make you just as mad. As upset as you get, however, it’s important to bear in mind that failure is still the best teacher around. You’ll do fine as long as you’re open to the lessons it’s trying to teach you.
And a concluding thought from an article in the New York Times, Innovation Should Mean More Jobs, Not Less. Geoffrey A. Moore, author of Dealing with Darwin, comments:
America is probably the best culture in the world at failing,” he said. “We’re willing to navigate in a fog and keep moving forward. Our competitive advantage tends to be at the fuzzy front end of things when you’re still finding your way. Once the way has been found, we’re back at a disadvantage.
Related Interest:
  When Rooted In Hard Work and Experience, Resilience Is Better Than Any Crystal Ball

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:29 AM
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01.06.09

Strengths Based Leadership

The fact is, many leaders do not really know their strengths. Not only does this lack of self-awareness bring about unintended consequences to one’s behavior, but also it can lead to disengaged employees and undue stress in the workplace and beyond. Donald Clifton remarked:
What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths – and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describes all leaders.
Strengths-Based Leadership
In Strengths Based Leadership, authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie present a new leadership version of Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment. (An access code is included with the book so you can take the new assessment online.) The assessment is design to help you see how your top five strengths fit into their newly identified four domains of leadership strengths: Executing strengths, Influencing Strengths, Relationship Building strengths and Strategic Thinking strengths. You will find that this knowledge is useful in creating well-rounded teams. As they note, "Although individuals need not be well-rounded, teams should be."

Unique to this book, is a study of 10,000 followers. When they asked them why they followed, four basic wants and needs emerged: trust, compassion, stability and hope. Once you have identified your strengths, they will give you specific suggestions for meeting those needs.

The idea of strengths based leadership is not to ignore your weaknesses as some have mistakenly misunderstood. But the emphasis for any leader should be a deep understanding of what they bring to the table and not trying to be something they are not. Rath and Conchie write:
The most effective leaders know better than to try to be someone they are not. Whenever they spot an opportunity, they reinvest in their strengths…. Leaders stay true to who they are – and then make sure they have the right people around them. Those who surround themselves with similar personalities will always be at a disadvantage in the long run to those who are secure enough in themselves to enlist partners with complementary strengths.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:46 PM
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01.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books January 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  The Soul of a Leader: Character, Conviction, and Ten Lessons in Political Greatness by Waller R. Newell
  Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity by Matt Miller
  The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica
  You Can't Order Change: Lessons From the Turnaround at Boeing by Peter S. Cohan

The Soul of a Leader Strengths-Based Leadership Tyranny of Dead Ideas The Element You Can't Order Change

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:03 AM
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