The Video Says It All — The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 8

OK Go -- This Too Shall Pass 4A few years ago DirecTV had a set of humorous TV commercials based on the idea that a single event can set in motion a series of events that leads to a less than desirable outcome. One of those commercials went like this:

(from an ominous announcer’s voice)
“When you have cable and your picture freezes, you get irritable.
When you get irritable, your work [as an criminal defense attorney] suffers.
When your work suffers, the wrong man is convicted.
When the wrong man is convicted, he has time to think.
When he has time to think, he thinks about you a lot.
And when he thinks about you a lot, your house explodes.
Don’t have your house explode.
Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirectTV. Call 1-8-0-0 DirectTV.”

DirecTV had many commercials in this series, all ending with bad outcomes. As humorous as these commercials were, they serve as a great introduction to the second major tenant of strategic thinking.

Challenging the Process (a guru’s podcast) — The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 7

“Timing is everything,” goes the saying. Today, for our tribe here at The Aperio, these words definitely apply.

Our timing is currently this…

(1) We’re in a blog series on “The Sexiest Topic in Leadership” = Thinking Strategically.

(2) Within that series, we’re currently focused on The Hunt for Better — the consistent need for leaders to drive positive changes both big and small if they are to be strategic.

(3) Within The Hunt for Better, we’ve spent our last two postings taking a look at how leaders foster change in their organizations.

All of this just happens to coincide with a podcast published this month by an outstanding leadership teacher, Andy Stanley.

More About Why The Best Ideas Don’t Win and What To Do About It — The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 6

Ideas Are Scary 4This week we continue on in our focus on the most popular (aka “the sexiest”) topic in leadership: strategic thinking. In last week’s posting, we acknowledged that strategic leaders not only help unearth great ideas, but they navigate them through organizational gauntlets to get implemented. Strategic leaders do this in spite of the fact that great ideas don’t get implemented simply because they are great. Organizational change is more complex than that.

* Last week we covered the first two steps for bringing innovative ideas to fruition:

Step #1: Expect resistance
Step #2: Appreciate the pain

Now, we’re ready for the step #3 and a video to help us feel what its like for new ideas to reach their potential.

The Best Ideas Don’t Win and What To Do About It — The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 5

Ideas Are Scary 2We’re in the middle of a series on strategic thinking. Over the past three blog postings, we’ve explored the requirement of strategic leaders to always be in search of what’s better in both big and small ways. We’ve called this Prioritizing the Hunt for Better. Merely finding great ideas, however, doesn’t make them reality; new ideas must be brought to fruition to be valuable.

Successfully leading the change that comes attached to new ideas is paramount to being a strategic leader. Therefore, we’re going to take the next two blog posts to explore the practical realities of moving great ideas from concept to implementation. 

* To kickoff this discussion, let’s start with a couple of questions:

(1) Have you ever run into road blocks when suggesting needed changes in your organization?
(2) Have you ever had it’s-so-obvious-we-should-do-this-that-I-can’t-believe-we-even-have-to-discuss-it improvements encounter resistance?

If so, there’s an important principle to remember that will keep you (1) from going insane and (2) on the path to organizational change and improvement. That principle is this: the best ideas don’t win.

“What if…” —
The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 4

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 4.20.20 PMWe’re in the midst of a multi-week exploration of the most favorite son of leadership theorists: strategic thinking. Last week we looked at the first of three practices for fostering the discovery of paradigm-shifting improvements. This week we’ll continue that process by looking at the remaining two.

To start, let’s take a moment to consider a list of questions…

–What if you could store food in a box that would allow it to be preserved for extended periods of time?
–What if you could ride in a machine that would take you half way around the world in 16 hours?
–What if you had a device that could play, on demand, nearly any song ever recorded?
–What if you could send a message or document anywhere in the world in mere seconds?
–What if, whenever you had an idea, you could write it down and stick it to your computer or desk without having to use glue or tape?
–What if there was a machine that you could put your clothes in and after about 30 minutes they would come out clean?

The refrigerator. The airplane. The smart phone. Email. The Post-It ® note. The clothes washer.

Each of these innovations was unimaginable at a point in the past. Now each is a commonly accepted part of the world. And each answers a compelling ‘What if…”

A Whole New Perspective —
The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 3

washing clothesThis series is titled “The Sexiest Topic in Leadership” because strategy is something that seems to intrigue all who are interested in leadership. Everyone seems to like the idea of thinking strategically and sees value in doing so. Most who are interested in leadership love to hear stories about how a particular strategic move vaulted this or that company into new levels of performance and achievement. There’s cachet in the idea of strategy. That’s what makes it “The Sexiest Topic in Leadership.”

In last week’s posting we noted that one of three things strategic leaders do is Prioritize the Hunt For Better by investing in the search for “incremental progress.” This week, we turn our attention to the other side of Prioritize the Hunt for Better — looking for “monumental, game-changing paradigm shifts.”

There are three habits that assist us and those we lead in the search for monumental, game-changing paradigm shifts. To introduce the first, I’ll share one of my favorite business stories.

There once a company that made laundry detergent. They operated in a third world country where it was customary for people to wash their clothes in the local river.

Scenes from the Bathroom —
The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 2

doorsWe’ve just begun a multi-part series exploring the most talked-about topic in leadership: strategic thinking. What makes a leader strategic? How can we help ourselves and the leaders we are responsible to develop become more and more strategic? What are the key principles of thinking strategically that can be fostered at all levels of leadership? To begin to answer these questions, we are going to take a trip to the bathroom. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

It has long been joked that the bathroom is the birthplace of many a good idea. One look at Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker gives us ammunition to support that idea. (Is he sitting on a rock…or is that a toilet?) That said, it’s recent advancements in bathroom technology that give us examples of the first commitment of strategic thinkers.

The Sexiest Topic in Leadership, Part 1

I spend the majority of my working life helping individuals and executive teams understand the connection between who they are as people and their effectiveness as leaders. That most often results in clients doing exercises over the course of months and years to become more humble, empathic, curious, emotionally mature, personally secure, and well-developed in various other inner qualities. The end goal is more effective leaders who produce better bottom-line results while creating better lives for themselves and everyone around them.

That said, there is more to the world of leadership than the inner development of leaders. Though strategy, execution, and motivation are less statistically significant than most leaders assume, they are still important leadership topics. So for a number of weeks forward we are going explore what is perhaps the most noted and sexiest of all leadership topics: strategic thinking.

There is no shortage of strategy theories in the world. Porter’s 5 Forces, Ohmae’s 3C’s, and McKinsey’s 7-S Framework are a few of literally hundreds of theories that exist to help leaders and organizations make strategically astute decisions. It might seem unnecessary, then, to add more dialogue to the mix. But that’s not so if a few more words can codify the overarching ideas that make a leader strategic.

The Leadership Opportunity We Normally Miss

12654199_1244752162207454_5500140414448218340_nI had just finished my senior year in high school. I was 18 years old. My friends and I were busy making plans for where to attend college. The world was full of possibilities and options.

One afternoon that spring the phone rang. It was clearly an adult on the line but he wasn’t asking to speak to my mother or father. He wanted to talk to me.

“I have some questions for you about Axel Spens,” said the voice on the other end.

Axel was a good friend of mine. We’d become close while playing high school basketball together. We’d spent countless hours in cars and buses going to and from games and practices.

Just Plain Stupid
(aka Leadership and Media Coverage of the American Political Process)

Special note to our international readers: I estimate that media coverage of politics in democratic countries is similar to what we experience in America. That said, I’m keeping my assessment focused on the United States as I get to watch its craziness firsthand.

2016 Candidates

It has begun and is in full force. By “it” I mean the insanity and stupidity of the American media’s coverage of its political process. It happens every time there’s an election and every four years, when we elect our President, the levels of insanity and stupidity soar exponentially.

You’d think that with commentary that regularly refers to the President of the United States as “the leader of the free world” at least a smattering of the media’s coverage would be analyzing the candidates’ leadership capabilities. Nothing could be further from the truth and there’s a warning in that for all of us to heed.

That Obnoxious Dad at My Kid’s Basketball Game Might Be On to Something

line up blurredMy oldest son is 6 years old. This winter I’m coaching his first foray into the sport that has been a deep passion for me, basketball. As you might guess, this team of little boys produces only a dim reflection of actual basketball. It’s a herd of 10 kids running up and down the court, barely dribbling, and failing to make more than a few baskets over the course of an entire game.

At the start of our second practice, before we’d played any games, the father of two kids on our team approached me. He didn’t approve of the way I’d taught the kids to shoot a basketball during our first practice. I explained why I was teaching the boys as I was. I couldn’t tell if he was satisfied with my answer or not. Nonetheless, I felt confident that I was doing right by the kids in teaching them proper technique.

Then came our first game. (Enter ominous music: Du, du, duuuuuuuuh!)

How Leaving Money on the Table Makes You a Better Leader

last 50 centsJack Welch is one of the most revered names in modern American business history. He’s credited with leading global business giant General Electric to a 4000% value increase between 1981 and 2001. During that time, Welch developed a reputation for being both strategic and somewhat ruthless; the latter largely stemming from his policy of firing the bottom 10% of his leaders annually.

Given his reputation, many people may be surprised to learn about Welch’s views on negotiation.

Something Rather Amazing:
A Leadership Lesson from College Football

Cardale Jones getting reps in practice

Cardale Jones getting reps in practice

Something rather amazing happened a couple of nights ago. Though it happened in the sports world, you need not be a sports fan for it to be valuable. If you’re interested in leadership, it’s worth your time and attention.

The world of college football had its eyes focused on Arlington, Texas this past Monday night. It was the championship game of the first ever College Football Playoff. It pitted the much celebrated Oregon Ducks against the much questioned Ohio State Buckeyes. What turned out to be a memorable moment for Ohio State and its fans was, in fact, a great leadership lesson many years in the making.

The Best Ideas Don’t Win
and What To Do About It — Part 2

Ideas Are Scary 4In last week’s posting, we acknowledged that the best ideas don’t necessarily get implemented in organizations and discussed why that happens. We then covered the first two steps for leading change well in the midst of this reality:

Step #1: Expect resistance
Step #2: Appreciate the pain

Now, we’re ready for the step #3 and a video to help us feel what its like for new ideas to reach their potential.

The Best Ideas Don’t Win
and What To Do About It — Part 1

Ideas Are Scary 2Have you ever run into road blocks when suggesting needed changes in your organization? Have you ever had it’s-so-obvious-we-should-do-this-that-I-can’t-believe-we-even-have-to-discuss-it improvements encounter resistance? If so, there’s an important principle to remember that will keep you (1) from going insane and (2) on the path to organizational improvement. That principle is this: the best ideas don’t win.

Decision (West) Point

West PointThe basketball team representing the United States in the upcoming FIBA World Cup of Basketball had an unusual day yesterday. Instead of a focused practice with the usual efforts to eliminate outside distractions, they visited West Point, the United States Military Academy.

While this team’s success or failure is yet to be determined, how history will speak of its coach is well decided. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski is the all-time winningest coach in Division I basketball history. In addition to his collegiate coaching exploits, he is 63-1 as a Head Coach for USA Basketball since 2005 which includes Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012. Because of his success, scores of people, many well outside the world of sports, look to Krzyzewski as a source of leadership wisdom. And yesterday afternoon, he gave us a small but important opportunity to learn from that wisdom.