Category: Leadership

AVOID MODERATION!

07.22.2021

David Ogilvy wrote in his book, Ogilvy on Advertising, that few copywriters are ambitious. “‘Raise your sights!’ I exhort them. ‘Blaze new trails! Hit the ball out of the park!! Compete with the immortals!!!”

That sends chills down my spine. Chills of delight.

This set of quotes is about looking for magic, stretching beyond comprehension. How about adopting this to your bailiwick? And not just into ads or new products. These sentiments apply to a new training course or business process as much as they do to a new product or service offering.
 

Kevin Roberts’ Credo:

1. Ready. Fire! Aim.
2. If it ain’t broke ... break it!
3. Hire crazies.
4. Ask dumb questions.
5. Pursue failure.
6. Lead, follow ... or get out of the way!
7. Spread confusion.
8. Ditch your office.
9. Read odd stuff.
10. Avoid moderation!"

(Mr. Roberts was most recently CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide. His book Lovemarks is on my “best business books ever” short list.)
 

INSANELY GREAT” Steve Jobs’ new product standard

RADICALLY THRILLING” BMW, ad for a new model

ASTONISH ME” Sergei Diaghley, to a lead dancer

'What should I make?' Yokoi asked. Yamauchi said, 'Something great.'" David Sheff about former president of Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi, in his book, Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World

Every project we undertake starts with the same question: ‘How can we do what has never been done before?’” Stuart Hornery, in "The Company Without Limits" Fast Company by Polly LaBarre

Let us create such a building that future generations will take us for lunatics.” The church hierarchs at Seville

You can’t behave in a calm, rational manner. You’ve got to be out there on the lunatic fringe.” Jack Welch, former chairman of GE, in “'Black Belts' Roam GE Plants To Weed Out Snafus, Cut Costs” Wall Street Journal by William M. Carley

We are crazy. We should only do something when people say it is ‘crazy.’ If people say something is ‘good,’ it means someone else is already doing it.” Hajime Mitarai, former CEO, Canon, in "Crazy is Praise for Us" Forbes by Gale Eisenstodt

We all agree your theory is crazy. The question, which divides us, is whether it is crazy enough...” Niels Bohr, to Wolfgang Pauli

There’s no use trying,’ said Alice. ‘One cannot believe impossible things.’ ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

To hell with ‘well behaved’ … Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? ‘Keep her,’ I replied. … The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me.” Anna Quindlen, Newsweek

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: The Revolutionists' Handbook.

The Moral Responsibility of Enterprise: Credo 2021

Most of us spend the best parts of our waking hours in a business with 1 to 100,001 fellow employees. Business, therefore, is not "part of the community." Business is the community. Hence, the "first order of business" for any enterprise is its ongoing moral responsibility to all of those who make its success possible: employees, in terms of their personal growth, and social equity as regards gender and race. This also includes the communities in which its employees lives as well as the larger communities where the enterprise does business: city, state, country, planet.

And as to output—what business delivers to its employees, its communities, and its customers—it holds a sacred obligation to create products and services that, as Jony Ive (Apple's former design leader), says, "serve humanity first."

Regarding traditional business goals, such as unwavering commitment to excellence and to people and community are the only repeatedly proven long-term drivers of exceptional growth and profitability. Looking down the road, developing the full potential of its people and providing products and services that inspire offer the best chance we have to continue to provide enlightened and humane contributions that the looming artificial intelligence tsunami cannot take away from us.

THE “YOU LIKE, I LIKE” FIFTY-TWO

His eminence, Peter Drucker, once said, “Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.” As for me, my Ph.D. dissertation was labeled by my committee as the “first [Stanford business school] dissertation on the topic of implementation.” My subsequent research at McKinsey & Co., which led to In Search of Excellence, was an out and out exaltation of execution/ implementation/people and culture first, and thence a frontal attack on McKinsey’s Holy Grail, developing scintillating strategies for clients—and letting the doing take care of itself, which, of course, rarely occurs. A number of the firm’s power players wanted me fired. They eventually got their way, but I got the last laugh: the rather significant sales of my book with Bob Waterman.

Given that history, you may understand why I started this brief “You like, I like” compendium with: “You like strategy. I like execution.” That one is followed by fifty-one additional—and mostly contrarian—pairings.

Enjoy. And I hope what follows provokes some thought. And, hey, it was fun to write. I will plug away on these issues—ever more important—until, more or less, my last breath.

YOU LIKE STRATEGY. I LIKE EXECUTION.

You like strategy.
I like execution.

You like big gestures.
I like small gestures.

You worry about disruption.
I worry about the next five minutes.

You like systems.
I like people.

You think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
I think the shortest distance between two points—when people are involved—is a twisting, turning path with hairpin turns and dead ends.

You like to “get to the point.”
I like kindness.

You like answers.
I like questions.

You like “sticking to the script.”
I like unbridled curiosity.

You think “we pay our taxes.”
I think our responsibility to the community is enormous—taxes are but a first step.

You think “we need to work on the gender issue.”
I think we must make a “hard commitment” to 50–50 gender balanced boards and executive teams within 36 months.

You think women can be good managers.
I think women on average are better managers than men—and better salespeople, negotiators, and investors.

You think sustainability and the war on climate change “is an issue.”
I think sustainability and the war on climate change is the issue.

You think “we gotta take more cost out.”
I think “we gotta put more value in.”

You say design is “prettification.”
I say design is nothing less than soul.

You say design is “the final touch.”
I say design is the starting premise and at the top of mind in every step in the product-and-service development process.

You want to “hammer the competition.”
I want us all to succeed by doing great work.

You think it’s a STEM world.
I think in the main, if true distinction is the goal, it’s a liberal arts world.

You like “Do it because it’s your job.”
I like “Thanks for the extra effort.”

You say, “Thank you” is fine—but “don’t overdo it.”
I say it is impossible to overdo it!

You like to “get down to business.”
I like to take the time to engage one and all in the issues at hand.

You say, “finish it up” and move on.
I say the “last five percent” makes all the difference—and takes lots (and lots) of time.

You like your office.
I like the shop floor.

You like people “who get to the point.”
I like people who think before they open their mouth.

You like the noisy ones.
I like the quiet ones.

You like the people in the first row who constantly raise their hands.
I like the people in the last row taking copious notes.

You like speed.
I like excellence.

You think culture is “important.”
I think culture is a flourishing garden which must be watered daily.

You think the development and maintenance of relationships is “not insignificant.”
I think the development and maintenance of relationships must be a “daily obsession.”

You want a technical group to be peopled with folks who have sterling technical backgrounds.
I want a technical group peppered with poets and musicians and artists and theater majors.

You like a resume with no gaps.
I like a resume with false starts and fresh starts, dead ends and detours.

You like people who read Forbes and Fortune.
I like people who read Dickens and Ishiguro.

You “try to find time” to read.
I follow the dictum of fanatic studenthood and read and read—and read some more.

You like those who “get it done on time” no matter what must be sacrificed.
I like those who settle for no less than excellence, regardless of the task or the timeframe.

You think excellence is “a hill to climb.”
I think excellence is the next five minutes.

You like “Let’s figure out who screwed this up.”
I like “I’m sorry.”

You like people who dream in spreadsheets and process maps.
I like people who dream about helping others accomplish things they never imagined possible.

You like org charts.
I laugh hysterically whenever I see an org chart.

You insist on putting the customer first.
I insist on putting the people who serve the customer first-er.

You are determined to fix what’s wrong, and therefore emphasize the negative.
I am determined to build upon what’s right, and thence emphasize and emphasize—and then re-emphasize—the positive.

You like “but” (“yes, but . . .”).
I like “and” (“great, and let’s keep going”).

You think training is an expense.
I think training is our Investment #1.

You have a fit when a well-trained person leaves.
I throw a party when someone good leaves to take an amazingly cool job.

You see the front-line boss as the keeper of law and order.
I see the cadre of front-line managers as Corporate Asset #1—the premier developers of people, and thence responsible for productivity, quality, innovation, and excellence itself.

You promote the ones with the best technical skills.
I promote the ones with the best people skills.

You say, “leave your personal issues at home.”
I say we benefit from a caring environment that celebrates and is enhanced by 100 percent of who you are.

You think management is about getting the most out of people.
I think management is helping people succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

You like generals and admirals.
I like privates and sailors.

You say follow the rules.
I say make new rules.

You say, “don’t waste time.”
I say most creativity and engagement and commitment comes from milling about and indirection.

You sprint through the day like a soldier on a forced march.
I leave gaps in my day (up to 50 percent according to one guru) to allow for reflection and chance occurrences.

You see failure as, well, failure.
I see failure as something to be celebrated—the signature and hallmark of rapid tries and thus all innovation.

You think the top priority of an enterprise is profitability.
I think enterprise profitability is a derivative—the top priorities of an effective business are moral behavior, developing people beyond their wildest dreams, being a sterling community member, and providing products and services that “make our world a little bit better.” (FYI: These priorities in fact underpin the demonstrably highest long-term growth and profitability.)

Over to you . . .

Inspired by my new book, Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism

Excellence Now Campaign

"What you are doing right now will be the hallmark of your entire career.”  That's what Tom is insisting about the critical nature of leadership in current conditions. These tumultuous times demand deep engagement, human connection, and, yes, EXCELLENCE. In response, Tom has started his Excellence Now Campaign, a trio of publications intended to be his final lessons in Excellence. Lessons which focus on these topics of surpassing importance; topics which are, in fact, more important now than ever.

Excellence Now: The Forty-Three Number Ones
Tom's latest eBook shares 43 powerful and actionable “true Number Ones,” extracted from his 43 years of leadership research.  Each idea stands on its own and cannot be relegated to the middle or bottom of a list. And each Number One contains a proven message that can be applied—starting today. For the Forty-Three Number Ones Summary please download here, and to read the full Forty-Three Number Ones eBook you can purchase it here.

Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism
In his upcoming book, Tom sets an even higher bar given the state of our very troubled and very fast moving world today. Tom will show how excellence that centers around the human being rather than the technology, that creates jobs rather than destroys them, that offers humanized services and products that bring no less than delight and joy to customers is achieved by day-to-day, hour-to-hour action. Pre-order for Kindle now.

Excellence: Now More Than Ever
This six-part training course, two years in the making, is based in part on Tom’s 2018 book, The Excellence Dividend. On top of the 99 videos, each emphasizing a Step to Excellence, there are actionable TTDNs (Things To Do Now) associated with each of the content pieces that you can customize to the needs of your organization. That's 99 Steps and more than 99 action items. Read more about all six courses here. The six courses are:

  1. The Power of Excellence
  2. People (Really) First
  3. Innovation
  4. Value-Added Strategies
  5. Leadership Excellence
  6. Leadership with Urgency

Excellence Now Campaign Highlights

Please find the full Excellence Now Campaign timeline below:

Video: Tom Gives His Favorite Drucker-ism

With The Excellence Dividend in stores, Tom's actively putting bits of wisdom from the book onto many media outlets. Here's a video on LinkedIn where he encourages leaders to pay attention to Peter Drucker.

A Short Piece on Tom’s Cass Event

Following Tom's appearance there, a member of the Cass Business School staff composed a short version of his masterclass for posting on their website. It seems that both Tom and Cass B-school teachers and students enjoyed the opportunity to convey or gain insights into excellence in business practice.

To read the follow-up article, go to the Cass website.

The Leadership 43
“Some Stuff”

When one speaks of leadership, it seems as though the discussion immediately turns to the likes of "vision" and other lofty topics.

Be my guest.
Follow that path.

Since I don't really know (nor, frankly, much care) what "vision" means, I decided to go another route with a recent speech on leadership in Calgary (11 September).

Hardly a grand route.
But, I hope, a useful route.

So what you'll find in the attached is ... 43 items/notions/suggestions ("Some Stuff") that, if you try a few of 'em, you might well improve your leadership effectiveness.

(The attached PowerPoint presentation is heavily annotated—perhaps 7.5K+ words worth of annotation.)

Read it.
Try "some stuff" yourself.
Hold on to a couple of "stuffs" that seem to work for you.
I do think it may be of value.
(And I can say with certainty it’s taken me about 35 years to write this.)

Excellence 2015! The Leadership 43

The 15-Second “Pep talk”
(And more)

Summary to a colleague of my recent 15-minute speech ("pep talk"):

Don't worry about '21st century leadership' (my assigned topic). If you are just decent to people, listen instead of talk, respect and encourage them, are religious about 'managing by wandering around,' most things will work out. And I said that, in the end, taking good care of people was the only thing worthy of a tombstone epitaph. My closing line, 'My ex-father-in-law carved tombstones. Nobody ever gets their net worth carved on their tombstone.'"

The 15-second version of the 15-minute talk, in the form of a tweet:

Do your MBWA and take good care of people. No one has their net worth on their tombstone."

More tweets inspired by the short talk:

Listening rules. Listening effectively is a "profession" as much as neurosurgery—though much more powerful than neurosurgery.

Listening is the ultimate mark of respect.
Listening is the ultimate motivator.
Listening is the ultimate source of knowledge.

Listening is the ultimate—and only trustworthy—"culture barometer."

Listening rocks, rolls, and rules. Do your MBWA first thing this morning, last thing in the afternoon.

(Response tweet from Leslie Ann Howard: "When two people are talking, only one is communicating, the person who is listening.")

If you think "small talk" is small, then resign your leadership role this morning.

Friendships are the lubricant of effective leadership. So says Bill George. So said Dwight David Eisenhower.

Being pleasant is not antithetical to being tough-minded. In fact, though it's counterintuitive, they are handmaidens.

Internal impatience is a virtue. External impatience is a vice.

SIN OF "SEND." Edgy email? Hold it for 6 hours before sending.

Tweetstream:
Leadership, Cognitive Biases, Etc.

FYI:

TP: Every day for every one of us—teen and octogenarian alike—offers numerous leadership opportunities. What are you waiting for?
TP: Leadership's Big Four: Enthusiasm. Acknowledgement/intense listening. Helping others when you haven't got the time. Reading/learning.
Michael St. Lawrence: Bonus Fifth: Lead to somewhere interesting and worthwhile.
TP/My #5: "Be playful." I never trust anyone who knows where they're going.
Michael St. Lawrence: Playful is tough when quarterly earning calls are breathing down your neck.
TP: But without playfulness, possibility of innovation is nil. (See Michael Schrage's classic book, Serious Play.)
TP/My revised Leadership Big Five: Enthusiasm. Acknowledgement/intense listening. Helping others when you haven't got the time. Playfulness/"Doin' stuff." Reading/learning

TP/from the diary of Dale Carnegie: "The biggest problem I shall ever face: the management of Dale Carnegie."
TP/courtesy Leo Tolstoy: "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

TP: Three times to introduce a new product: Too early. Too late. Lucky.

Alan Guinn to tweeter: Do you really believe someone who has been pushing a position [on Net Neutrality] over a decade offers an unbiased and objective view?
TP: There are 7 billion people on earth. Not one is free of bias. If you [think you] are, you are arrogant/out-of-touch/dangerous.
TP: "Let me be frank." = "Let me illustrate how full of shit I am."
Ken Wilkinson: "With all due respect ..." = "Prepare to be thoroughly disrespected ..."
TP: Five stars!

TP: I love this sooooo much. A list about 150 different cognitive biases. Bon chance: wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

Martin Birt: "What businesses can learn from the National Ballet of Canada." My latest piece in the Financial Post.
TP: Excellence in the arts is very parallel to biz. Arts leaders are at the front of the pack and can teach businesses re talent seeking/development!

The Project Leadership EXCELLENCE 42
Revision, 27 October 2014

What follows is a slightly revised version of the Project Leadership Excellence 42 list from my presentation last week to the PMI Leadership Institute confab. We have also attached this list in both PDF and PowerPoint formats.

1. Politics as nuisance-distraction vs. "Politics Is Life. RELISH It."
2. IQ > EQ vs. EQ > IQ.
3. Buttoned down to a fault vs. "I am a dispenser of enthusiasm."—Ben Zander
4. "We don't have time for niceties" vs. CIVILITY. ALWAYS.
5. "There's always some damn thing" vs. Live for the madness per se.
6. "This is a time of enormous change, which must be reflected in our work" vs. "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."—Albert Bartlett
7. Linearity/“waterfall" vs. Non-linearity/circularity/high tempo-lightning fast "O.O.D.A. Loop"/agile.
8. Step-at-a-time vs. "Demo or die"/“Serious Play"/“Ready. Fire. Aim."
9. Optimistic-or-bust vs. UNDER-promise or bust.
10. In the office vs. Out of the Office/NO OFFICE.
11. Nose to the grindstone vs. "This is a blast—as cool as it gets."
12. Meetings as agony vs. MEETINGS AS LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY #1.
13. Small leadership circle vs. Inclusive leadership circle.
14. Formal customer-vendor relationships vs. "No barriers"-fully integrated partnership with customers-vendors.
15. No time to waste, isolation is the norm vs. welcome to the Age of SOCIAL BUSINESS.
16. Information as needed vs. WILDLY "over"-communicate with EVERYONE.
17. Confidentiality often necessary vs. Confidentiality 99% nonsense/Inform everyone of everything.
18. Email/IM vs. FACE-TO-FACE/frequent-flyer miles.
19. Over-scheduled vs. 50% unscheduled time.
20. Latest tech vs. Paper checklist.
21. Lunch with colleagues/Lunch as respite vs. LUNCH as #1 Networking Opportunity.
22. Suck UP for Success vs. Suck DOWN for Success.
23. Fend off enemies vs. Recruit and nurture ALLIES ALLIES ALLIES.
24. Silos are inevitable vs. INTENSIVELY MANAGED "XFX"/Cross-Functional eXcellence.
25. Not our fault vs. WILDLY over-respond to screw-ups/Apology as Relationship Building Mainstay.
26. Recognition-as-deserved vs. Constant recognition, especially for "little stuff"/Celebrate-every-damn-milestone-imaginable, make ’em up if need be/“BIG MO" rules.
27. Talk vs. LISTEN/Listening-as-Strategic Tool #1.
28. "Here's the deal" vs. "WHAT DO YOU THINK?"
29. "We want people who know what they are doing" vs. "We want people with an insatiable thirst for growth."
30. If we hire good folks, little need for training vs. Training = Investment #1 (Even on a BRIEF project).
31. Noisy vs. Quiet (Introverts are probably under-represented on your team—fix it).
32. "Millennials are different" vs. Millennials want stuff smart "people-1st companies" (e.g., Virgin, Southwest) have been giving non-millennials for decades.
33. Supervisors are 1st and foremost paid to "keep on top of things" vs. Supervisors are in the "people development business."
34. Bosses aim to "help people be successful" vs. Bosses help people GROW. (2014: "Grow or die.") (Holds on even BRIEF projects.)

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LEADER/CORPORATE MANDATE #1 2014: Your principal moral obligation as a leader is to develop the skillset, "soft" and "hard," of every one of the people in your charge (temporary as well as semi-permanent) to the maximum extent of your abilities. The good news: This is also the #1 mid- to long-term ... profit maximization strategy!

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35. Lieutenants & captains & majors vs. Sergeants, sergeants, sergeants.
36. "Gender balance" an important goal vs. Women are the best leaders. (And usually primary end-users.)
37. Concentration/“no nonsense" vs. Daydreaming/READING/ "Freak Fridays."
38. Kaizen vs. WOW-ification/“Insanely great."
39. Design is important vs. "You know a design is good when you want to lick it."—Steve Jobs (Design supremacy/Market Cap: Apple > Exxon.)
40. Minimize "TGWs"/Things Gone Wrong vs. Maximize TGRs/Things Gone Right.
41. Make a damn good product vs. Good product PLUS greatly enhance the (transformative) "INTEGRATED SERVICES ENVELOPE."
42. "Good work" vs. ... EXCELLENCE!