Archives for November 2012

Leadership: Standing Alone Doesn’t Mean Being Alone

We have all heard it before: “It’s lonely at the top.”  HOGWASH!

YES.  There are times when you have to have to act alone.  You…and only you…can make a decision.  “The Buck Really Does Stop Here.” But leaders…especially leaders of knowledge workers…know they need to be transparent and authentic.  In a word.  It’s OK to be vulnerable.

Standing alone does not mean going it alone.  It does mean trusting yourself and taking the risk to let yourself be seen, standing firm in your beliefs even when your internal voice challenges you with, “What if I am wrong? What if I make a mistake –what will people think?  I’m really not smart enough. This is really hard.”  What does Standing Alone as a leader REALLY mean?  CCL

Are You Talking To Your Employees or With Them?

Smart managers build bridges, not walls.  Here is an interesting take on how to work with sometimes uncooperative employees.


What do you do when the other person simply won’t budge from an entrenched position in which they have a great deal of personal and professional commitment? How do you bridge the gap between your position and his?

Most people try to win the other person over to their point of view by argument. The trouble is, in many cases they don’t have all the facts to fully understand why the other person doesn’t agree. What’s more, the gap may be down to differences in values or cultures that are not particularly amenable to reasoned arguments. Whatever the source of the differences or gaps, when you can’t win by reason, you start to get angry at what you see is the other person’s lack of it, which gets mirrored, and so the gap only gets wider.

The key to avoiding this dynamic is to stop trying to get the person to change and instead get them to open up….More at How Smart Managers Build Bridges – Charalambos Vlachoutsicos

Responding to online complaints


As The internet invades more and more of our business activities complaints will surface both in our own internet domains and outside of them.  It turns out how we respond will differ depending on where these complaints surface.

Through an in-depth survey of online users, this study found that companies can repair their brands’ reputations by having spokespeople engage with dissatisfied consumers online, especially with those who explicitly request a response. But damage-control efforts can be ineffectual when companies try to preempt critical views in online contexts designed for consumers. In those cases, a company’s efforts are typically seen as intrusive and pushy.   More at How Companies Can Respond to Online Complaints – strategy+

Innovation: First Mover Advantage Isn’t What You Thought

All this talk (including mine) about reinvention.  Well you have to consider all sides and this is an important one.

Innovation does not need another advocate. It has acquired divine status, with even politicians promoting its virtues, promising that “we will innovate our way” out of any mess in which we find ourselves.

There is, however, one little problem: evidence. A close scrutiny of the empirical work suggests that the market supremacy of innovators is questionable, often distorted by biased assumptions and inadequate design. Many of the more rigorous studies show that innovators produce lackluster returns. Even those studies that identify a modest first-mover edge find that it has been receding over time.

Who does capture the benefits of new ideas, products, and models? Imitators. They get a free ride, avoid dead ends, capitalize on the shortcomings of early offerings or tweak the originals to better fit shifting consumer tastes. And yet, imitators rarely get the recognition they deserve: When was the last time someone received an Imitator of the Year Award?

Eli Broad, who built not one but two Fortune 500 companies — KB Home and SunAmerica — would be a good nominee for a lifetime achievement award for successful imitation. This excerpt from Broad’s recent book, which collects the insights and lessons he learned during his career, explains why.  Read More….Strategy and business The Value of Being Second

Good Things Happen When You Are Contagious

There is something about positive people that is…well…contagious.

(MoneyWatch) I love being in an office surrounded by contagious people. Not the sniffling, sneezing, coughing kind who don’t stay home when they should, but the kind whose enthusiasm and attitude towards their products, customers and company is absolutely infectious.

Many use the term “evangelist” to describe this, but I think there’s a distinction: Evangelism (which I also love) is mostly unidirectional — true believers, preaching and hoping to spread the good word to the masses, whereas contagiousness is more personal and subtle. When you’re truly, “professionally” contagious, the people you deal with catch the fever just by interacting with you.

Carriers of these positive contagions make every business better in virtually every way: Customers are happier, they buy more and are more loyal; employees work better together and are more productive; creativity has a more fertile breeding ground; projects, products and services are made better.

Here are a few great ways to pass the bug: (read more at CBS Money Watch)

Reinvention: It’s Counterintuitive–Don’t Focus on Your Best Customers

Disruptive innovation always comes in at the fringes.  In this article by Bill George, former CEO of Medtronics we learn that innovating for our best customers leads to increasingly complex products.  This is something I have continually warned about as we are overserving a shrinking part of our market and underserving the rest.

Christensen and Bower’s article offered the counterintuitive notion that great companies fail for the same reasons they initially experience success. They listen to their best customers — something we did religiously at Medtronic — making increasingly complex products to meet those customers’ most sophisticated needs. This process leaves companies vulnerable to competitors…More at The Idea That Led to 10 Years of Double-Digit Growth – Bill George