The vast majority of organizations are designed and managed as moneymaking machines.  But the most telling word here is not moneymaking but machine. It reflects the notion that the business organization is solely an instrument designed to efficiently and effectively generate profit for its owner—the business of business is profit. It is a notion born out of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm—a mechanistic view of the universe—that informed Adam Smith in his writing of The Wealth of Nations and precipitated the Industrial Revolution.  It is also re-presented in academic form in the curriculum of business schools for the preparation of executive-level mechanics of the machine. Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #4

Kip Tindell, Container Store CEO, shares important fundamentals of leadership in a New York Times Corner Office interview.  At base Kip’s underlying belief about the business of business is not the usual it’s nothing personal it’s just business but rather to the contrary, business is very personal.  The foundational principles of the Container Store reflect a belief in the non-superficial nature of the business of business.  Accordingly Kip approaches his role in business as he does his role as a fellow human being in life stating: “…most people seem to think that there’s a separate code of conduct in business from your personal life, And I always believed they should be the same.”   What this reveals is that the quality of leadership flows from the depth of the underlying philosophy about life that one holds—our very depth as a person.  Thus providing genuine leadership is not separate from you yourself being genuine.  What else could integrity mean! Continue reading

A Competing Fact

Many say competition brings out the best in us.  Is this fact or fiction?

Let’s assume it is fact.  Accordingly, since we want the best to emerge from whatever involves people we must make it a competition.  We want a winner to incite the rest (of us losers) to become winners.  No one wants to be a loser! Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #3

Adam Bryant’s New York Times interview with Tachi Yamada, M.D., president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, reveals essential abilities for anyone interested in making a difference to the organization.   Yamada points to the importance of communicating to those with whom you are conversing that you care about them by not allowing other distractions interrupt the time you are investing with them—no cell phones, no email, no texting etc.  What Yamada is speaking to, are the very human needs to be acknowledged and respected as a human being.   Meeting these needs makes for an environment of trust; and with trust collaboration is likely and with collaboration progress becomes possible. Continue reading

Need to Suspend not Defend

While we know that Wall Street is in New York City, it’s not so obvious that it is in every publically traded company as well.  Wall Street’s influence on the focus of those leading the organization cannot be overlooked.  Wall Street’s impact on executive-level (corporate) decision-making is similar to the impact that thought has on an individual’s decisions—thought is inextricably tied to perception and perception affects understanding. Continue reading

Misinterpreting Data

The March 5, 2010 New York Times headline read, “jobless rate holds steady, raising hopes of recovery”. Apparently it doesn’t take much to raise hope, at least among those doing the reporting.  Why is two consecutive points with the same value (i.e. 9.7% in both January and February) a reason for hope?  Would two consecutively made baskets in basketball constitute a scoring run? How about two winning hands at the blackjack table? Clearly not!  Two points does not constitute a trend.  Thus, the call for hope of a recovery is misleading; the result of a lack of understanding of how to read variation. Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #2

Since examples can illustrate successful practice, many aspiring leaders often search for them to direct (their) action. And just as often those copying these examples fail.  Why?  Because they really don’t know what to copy! Rarely do people critically think about the examples in an effort to develop understanding of why the practice is effective.

A February 6, 2009 New York Times interview with Susan Docherty of General Motors revealed a key lesson for effective leadership.  In response to Adam Bryant’s question, how do you hire, Susan stated “…I’m looking at people for my team, it’s not just what’s on their resume—their strengths or weaknesses or what they’ve accomplished—but it’s the way they think.  I can learn twice as much, twice as quickly, if I’ve got people who think differently than I do around the table.” Continue reading