Monday, May 28, 2012

The Innovator's Dilemma

When most people think of abstract conversations, they categorize it as mental masturbation. This is unfortunate because abstract conversations are the source of innovation.

You may say that I am making a bold statement. Or you may be saying to yourself that there are many ways to innovate. Innovation is not maintaining. While it includes improvement, most of us think of innovative people and companies as those that create something that did not exist before. So what do abstract conversations have to do with inventing?

If you think about every invention, the primary source of the invention first existed as

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Hidden Treasure Do You Possess?

“I was a hidden treasure, and I longed to be known.” – Unknown

This is clearly one of the paradoxes of being human. We all have untapped potential. However, we also have an unspoken fear. We fear that one day we may perform

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Does It Take to Become the Leader’s Leader?

Whether advising on board of directors, directing as Chairman of the Board, or serving as CEO, these administrators are unmistakably leaders. Nevertheless, they do not have all the answers. The best leaders request guidance for the tough decisions. That is, they continuously seek out other leaders in whom they can confide.

To be a confidant to the leader, it is important to have been a leader. In many cases, some of the best confidants are people who

Friday, May 18, 2012

Raising Your Ambitions

"It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself, but at some more ambitious goal beyond it." – Arnold Toynbee

This comes down to how you see yourself. It is said that when the children of the Kennedy family were young, they would go out and play after church. Each child wore a hat. If they came home without their hat, they would be punished by their parents. So they decided to play a game that required them to put their butts on the line.

Every Sunday they would find a wall and throw their hats over the wall. No matter what it took each child had to get over the wall to get their hat. Each Sunday they threw their hats over taller walls.  And each Sunday they came home with their hats. 

Perhaps all the while the goal was to go over the tallest wall. However, they had not developed the skill and teamwork to achieve it. Therefore, they practiced on lower walls until they developed the ability to conquer the tallest.

If we look at the Kennedy family, it would seem that scaling walls gave them the mental preparedness for much greater achievements. Imagine if you would, that their goals were never about retrieving hats on the other side of the wall. Imagine that their childhood games were always part of a bigger plan that became the Kennedy legacy.

They had always seen themselves as accomplishing greatness and overcoming obstacles became part of their playground instead of something to avoid. To do that, you have to see yourself as already there. You just have to be responsible for the mental and physical (skills) preparation.     

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Unwritten Rules of Best Buy's Corporate Culture

In March of this year, Best Buy CEO, Brian Dunn, told 400 employees to say good-bye to their jobs and closed 50 stores. In April, Dunn said good-bye to Best Buy after an investigation by the board. He was having a relationship with a female employee, an act that was against company policy.

Later, the board learned that Chairman and founder, Richard Schulze, knew about Dunn’s relationship and never reported it to the audit committee. The board subsequently asked Schulze to step down as Chairman of the Board.

From the board’s perspective, Dunn showed very poor judgment by having a relationship against company policy. Therefore, his only choice was to resign. During the time leading up to this, Best Buy missed its revenue targets for the 4th quarter of 2011. The concern was that Dunn might have made other poor decisions that affected the corporation’s performance.

Both Dunn and Schulze’s behavior raise an issue of policy. While every business has written policies, it also has unspoken policies, practiced without conscious effort. Dunn created an unspoken policy: relationships with coworkers are acceptable as long as no one knows.

On the surface, there seems to be no big deal in having a relationship with an employee. Except, the company’s written policy prohibited and acting otherwise undermined the culture of the organization, undercutting the company’s success. For Dunn, this resulted in Best Buy trudging through a revenue lapse.

Since he was breaking company policy, it may have made it very difficult for him to enforce policies in general. It’s like your parents saying don’t smoke as they take another puff from their cigarette. Whatever the leader does, his subordinates will follow.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it lowered people’s tolerance for mistakes on Best Buy's part. Take the Best out of Best Buy they would be goodbye. Undoubtedly the new CEO will have to correct these problems immediately

It is always easy to know what to do after the fact. However, I would like to know what you would have done if you were in either position.

What do you think? I would love to hear what you think. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Killing Trust

"Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every organization needs trust. Without it, people can feel invalidated and become resentful.

From a counterintuitive perspective, trust is always accompanied by mistrust. They come in pairs whether you like it or not. Therefore, if you want to eliminate mistrust, you will have to kill trust. If there is no dependency on trust, people will have to relate to one another as their commitments. By killing trust, people are honored as their word and their actions are always a direct correlate of their words.

As for greatness, I lost both my parents when I was 21. As the oldest of 4 children, I was committed that what was left of the family continued to move forward in a powerful way. One of the ways I did that was to treat my brother and sisters, whose ages were 19, 16 and 12, as though they were truly great. Without question, they accomplished things that you would never expect from someone their age, even though I asked them to do tasks that they had no idea how to do.

While my expectations were for greatness, I guided them through many endeavors until they were successful. This built confidence and allowed me to delegate increasingly complicated tasks to them each passing day. Whether they succeeded or failed in the beginning was irrelevant. It was more important that I was committed to their greatness and took the time to develop it.

As Mr. Emerson states, developing greatness in people will always outperform trust.     

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Who’s The Most Important Person In Your Life?

Of Course, the first answer is you. You get one life and you own it. It’s your future. And you get to say what it will be. After you, who do you see as most important? If it is not your spouse or significant other, how do you expect to experience the joy and success life has to offer? 

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Company You Keep

"The best mirror is a friend's eye." – Gaelic Proverb

Everyone knows that your closest friend can tell you things about yourself that you may find difficult to see. True friends will be honest with you and tell you how some of your behavior harms your chances for success in love, family and business.

However, there are other things a friend can tell you without ever saying a word. Look at your closest friends. What is the condition of their lives? Are they happy with where they are in life? Are they successful? Do they struggle financially? Do they gossip about other people’s faults instead of taking deliberate actions to improve themselves?

There are many more questions you can ask about your closest friends. If your friends are unsatisfied with the condition of their lives and struggle financially, get ready. You are headed for the same.

If you understand your friends’ view of life, you understand that they are close to you because you most likely share similar views. If you do not like what you see, find new friends to mirror.

On the other hand, if you have friends that stretch your imagination and expose you to new and exciting events and perspectives, you are on a great path. That is, if your friends hold a powerful vision for their future and are comfortable financially, know that you are most likely on the same path.

In the end, regardless of who your friends are, strive to be a valuable contributor. You can be the catalyst for moving your friends in a new and empowering direction. 

Granted, if they want to stay in their unhappy comfort zone, you have a very tough choice to make. Are you bold enough to stand up for your future?