Home Leadership Turn Archives Me RampUp Solutions Option Sanity
 


  • Categories

  • Archives
 

Ducks in a Row: Killing Creativity

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/84064177/

According to brothers Tom and David Kelley, founders of the iconic design firm IDEO, everybody is creative no matter what their background or career path.

“…early failures, defeats and setbacks can lead otherwise creative people to shut down their own best ideas.”

If you accept their reasoning and your team isn’t as creative as you would like the fault most likely lies with you.

The “early” in the above quote can refer to early in life, but also early in tenure.

How often have you hired someone with a track record of creativity only to find them carefully coloring within the lines?

That’s usually the result of having creative ideas rejected, arbitrarily shot down or, worse, ridiculed—not once, but over and over.

Even when those negative responses are from a team member, it’s still your responsibility, since the culture that makes acts like that acceptable is either sourced from or condoned by you.

Flickr image credit: liz west

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

 Entrepreneurs: You and Henry Ford

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Henry_ford_1919When you think about great entrepreneurs who comes to mind?

Not Steve Jobs if you limit entrepreneurs to those who invent something brand new; he didn’t invent technology; he took what was there, infused it with brilliant design and then convinced us we couldn’t live without it.

Bill Gates? Larry Page and Sergey Brin? Larry Ellison? Mark Zukerberg?

But could you build a powerful company culture off just their quotes 100 years from now?

Actually, will entrepreneurs even remember them in the Twenty-second Century?

But a century later you can do it off of Henry Ford quotes and it would be not only sustainable, but socially responsible.

Consider this small sample

  • There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible. Ford practiced what he preached, too.
  • Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right. This may be true for all of us, but it is especially true for entrepreneurs.
  • Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Overseeing each of these stages is a perfect description of a founder’s primary responsibility.
  • Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. This isn’t to say that you should be blind to them, but keeping your focus on the goal allows you to overcome them by not losing track of what’s really important.
  • A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large. Tony Hsieh has proved this in spades, as has Jeff Bezos. The difference is that Hsieh also practices the first principle above; while Bezos has ignored it.
  • Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. The first half of the sentence has been proven over and over, but it is the second half that determines whether the effort is successful.

Parts of Ford make a great role model, while other parts should be treated as poison, which, in the long-run, merely proves Ford mortal.

(Find more Ford quotes here.)

Image credit: Wikipedia

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Are Entrepreneurs and Managers Different?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29774727@N04/7232512020/

Not long ago an entrepreneur with whom I work and I disagreed. He said that entrepreneurs and managers were different and that while entrepreneurs should be managers managers couldn’t be entrepreneurs.

A study using brain scans from MIT professor Maurizio Zollo seems to back him up.

…when entrepreneurs performed explorative tasks, they used both the left and right sides of the frontal parts of their brains, the entire so-called pre-frontal cortex. In comparison, managers tended to use primarily the left sides of the frontal part of their brains. This is an important difference, as the right side of the pre-frontal cortex is associated with creative functions involving high-level thinking (like poetry, arts, etc.), whereas the left side is associated with rational decision-making and logical thinking.

But I still don’t agree.

Zollo isn’t sure either, but thinks that it has to do with the willingness to take risks.

People who just reason with the rational and logical part of the brain might be a bit more risk averse.

Or perhaps that’s more Pavlov’s dog and a conditioned response.

I’d like to see the right/left brain activity of managers at companies known for innovation, such as 3M, Google, and Jeff Immelt’s GE, as opposed to Jack Welch’s.

That would be much better comparison of apples with apples instead of with oranges.

Companies that focus on metrics often lose their innovation mojo.

Managers who work for companies that focus on innovation, have done away with fear and celebrate failure think differently.

Flickr image credit: Nathanial Burton-Bradford

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

If the Shoe Fits: the True Value of Power

Friday, February 8th, 2013

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all ‘If the Shoe Fits’ posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mHow did John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX Networks, turn the channel from an also-ran to top ratings earner?

Not the way you might think; not by his vision or impeccable taste; not by having his finger on the pulse of the public or because he can see around corners.

He did it by not doing it.

Landgraf spent time on the creative side and when pitching/producing he kept hearing the same thing.

“I always got the same dumb note from the networks. ‘Can you make the character more likable?’ ” he recalled last week in a phone interview. “Not make them more exciting, more compelling, more interesting, no, it was always make them more likable.”

When he got the FX catbird seat he didn’t ask for ‘nicer’ he asked for solid stories.

In other words, he did it by letting go of the power to make those decisions.

“We write a check to fund the production and they send us the shows. By trusting the people you work with — sharing the authority — and being willing to fail, things have gone pretty well for us.”

This is something that every entrepreneur needs to learn.

Success comes not from having the power to make decisions, but from the ability to give that power to others.

 “Power is only of value if you give it away. You have to be willing to give it away, to entrust your career, your reputation and your future to others, to make something that is remarkable.”

Image credit: HikingArtist

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

If the Shoe Fits: What Entrepreneurs Need

Friday, October 12th, 2012

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

Last week KG Charles-Harris provided an overview of Vator Splash; today he asks questions critical to every entrepreneurs success and sanity.

kg_charles-harrisAm I becoming jaded?  Is there something I’m missing at conferences that others experience?

I recently attended Vator Splash in San Francisco, and unfortunately it was a disappointment.  Yet another startup conference where some high-powered, successful speaker repeats the “5 Steps To Success” or some other topic addressed in a very superficial or trite manner.

There is never serious discussion around failure or how to deal with it.

I made an informal survey at the conference by asking two questions of most people I met:

“Have you maxed out your credit cards to fund your startup?”

“Have you received VC or Angel financing that has enabled you to get rid of your debt?”

Being a social guy, I made the rounds and spoke to a lot of people.  Almost every entrepreneur I met had incurred significant debt to form the venture.  And almost no one had received VC or Angel funding.

This aligns with the huge number of fellow entrepreneurs I have gotten to know over the years.  Most have sacrificed greatly to see an idea or venture born.

Unfortunately I have never attended a conference that speaks to this topic – how does an entrepreneur get to the next step.

Most of these conferences seem to have a specific business model, i.e.,

  • pick a successful entrepreneur as main speaker (usually a Stanford, Harvard or MIT graduate);
  • present VC or Angel financing as the primary path to success;
  • target people who didn’t attend any of the above mentioned institutions and make them believe that they can attain the same networks and capital as graduates from these institutions.

They sell the dream of VC funding without providing actual advice on how to

  • penetrate the networks (let alone provide introductions);
  • manage rejection;
  • know when to give up before losing it all;
  • manage personal finances, etc.

How useful are these conferences?  Where can the masses of entrepreneurs who don’t fit the golden mold receive practical advice?

We need more than these events offer – we need something that helps us create success and assists us when dealing with failure.

KG Charles-Harris is CEO of Emanio and a special contributor to MAPping Company Success.

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Quotable Quotes: New Beginnings

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

www.flickr.com/photos/foxtongue/2664334801/It’s spring, although you wouldn’t know it here in the Pacific Northwest, but most parts of the country seem luckier. Spring is considered a time of new beginnings, which are especially noticeable in the garden. But, actually, spring is any time you want; new beginnings are a state of mind.

Maria Robinson didn’t believe in new beginnings, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Centuries before Maria shared her insight the Roman philosopher Seneca said something similar, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

W. Clement Stone provides a concise explanation of what prevents new beginnings, “So many fail because they don’t get started – they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.”

Theodore Roosevelt tells us to just get on with it, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

The always savvy Anonymous reminds us, “Yesterday’s failures are today’s seeds that must be diligently planted to be able to abundantly harvest tomorrow’s success.”

G.R.Blair offers some wise words to keep your new beginnings on track, “Long-term planning is not about making long-term decisions, it is about understanding the future consequences of today’s decisions.”

But it is the brilliant Mary Shelley who serves up the five words you should repeat every morning when you wake, “The beginning is always today.”

Flickr image credit: foxtongue

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Entrepreneurs: Shutting Down isn’t Quitting

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

A link at SF Gate led me to When You Should Quit Being An Entrepreneur at Business Insider. It’s one of those articles with an interesting premise written by someone with no authority on the subject and little real-world experience. This was mentioned in the comments, which have more value than the article.

The most glaring misstatement was that shutting down your startup equaled failure.

Admitting that you are riding a dead horse does not equal failure.

It’s also stupid to say that a startup fails if it does anything other than go public.

Based on that Zappos was a failure, as are the thousands (millions?) of startups that grow moderately, if at all, but provide a decent living for the entrepreneur, not to mention jobs for others.

And there are those that choose to stay private, such as SAS and its $2.43 billion in sales.

Shutting down a startup doesn’t mean you quit being an entrepreneur; being an entrepreneur is as much a matter of right idea / right time / right place / right circumstances as it is of your MAP.

And entrepreneur is not the same as entrepreneurial, which you can be in any size company, and defaming corporate jobs as of less value and that by working in one you are a failure is pure garbage.

As so many of the comments pointed out, failure only happens when nothing is learned and even that isn’t failure if you consider Einstein’s comment that expecting different results from doing the same thing over and over is insanity, not failure.

In my book the only time you can actually fail is when you are dead and as long as you weren’t the cause you still didn’t fail.

Flickr image credit: taygete05

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Change Starts with the Boss

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The thing she [behavioral psychologist] taught me—and this sounds obvious—is that behavior is a function of consequence.  We had to change the behavior in the organization so that people felt safe to bring bad news. And I looked in the mirror, and I realized I was part of the problem.  I didn’t want to hear the bad news, either. So I had to change how I behaved, and start to thank people for bringing me bad news.Joseph Jimenez, chief executive of Novartis

The behavioral psychologist was brought in after a consulting group was paid to provide “better, more robust process, with more analytics,” which changed nothing.

When we started RampUp Solutions in 1999, we spent a good deal of effort coming up with a tag line that easily explained the services we provide.

After several iterations we finally settled on “To change what they do change how you think”

Over the years, I’ve heard and read story after story of how all kinds of changes—from turn arounds to improved productivity to retention—all started with a change in the way the boss thought.

And that applied whether the boss was CEO, team leader or somewhere in-between.

Stories and discussions about change tend to focus on the actions that bring about the changes, instead of starting at the beginning with the hardest work,

Work that requires the boss, at whatever level, changing the way she thinks and then dispersing and embedding those changes throughout her organization.4222820626_8089f3a13b_m

So before you hire expensive consultants or seek help from advisors look in the mirror to determine how much of the problem is you.

Flickr image credit: manymeez

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Ducks in a Row: Mea Culpa

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

In the popular vernacular, the expression “mea culpa” is an admission of having made a mistake by one’s own fault (one that could have been avoided if the person had been more diligent).

Mea culpa are two of the most powerful words any manager can say—as long as they are authentic.

Creating a culture where mea culpa is not just tolerated, but applauded is the mark of the best ‘leadagers’ (Leader + Manager discussion).

They offer no value if they are uttered insincerely or as a means to an end.

Publicly taking responsibility for an error, let alone a real screw-up, is the mark of a good leader, a great manager and a true mensch.

How often have you said ‘mea culpa’ and meant it?

Flickr image credit: ZedBee | Zoë Power

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Differences Worth Noting

Monday, July 25th, 2011

2185315789_e5d6af6e0d_mThere is a sizable difference between accepting positional leadership when a company is at the bottom and there is no place to go but up and taking over when its at its height—even more so when what was the growth engine and source of extraordinary profits disappears from the economic landscape.

It is one thing to maximize what you have, wringing out every last possible dollar, and investing in innovation for sustainable growth in the future.

It is one thing to create a culture where public shame and the likelihood of termination for missing your numbers rules and changing that to a culture that encourages appropriate risk-taking and never kills the messenger when the risk doesn’t pan out; a culture that understands not every innovation will be a home run, but encourages and applauds the effort anyway.

These are the differences between Jack Welch

But Welch had taken over when the company was in the bottom of an economic cycle. He took over GE in a recession, not the height of a bubble. Immelt got the job right after the end of the high-flying 1990s, an era which crowned CEOs with mythical, God-like crowns, and Welch was bestowed the biggest of them all.

and Jeff Immelt.

Immelt had known before the meltdown the company needed to ween off the leveraged risk from finance that was begun under Welch. … He admitted mistakes, as any good leader must do, and GE more quietly if not humbly went about its business in making the company a 21st century sustainable and reliable profit engine.

The differences are worth noting.

Flickr image credit: laurita13

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

RSS2 Subscribe to
MAPping Company Success

Enter your Email
Powered by FeedBlitz

About Miki View Miki Saxon's profile on LinkedIn

About KG View KG Charles-Harris' profile on LinkedIn

Clarify your exec summary, website, etc.

Have a quick question or just want to chat? Feel free to write or call me at 360.335.8054

Download useful assistance now.

Give your mind a rest. Here are 4 quick ways to get rid of kinks, break a logjam or juice your creativity!

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and tornadoes in the Midwest; don't wait to help, contribute now!
 
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or call 800.733.2767.
 
$10 really does make a difference and you'll never miss it.
 
Always donate what you can whenever you can.

The following accept cash and in-kind donations:

Web site development: NTR Lab
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.