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25 Great Quotes On Thinking New Ideas

  • If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
    Albert Einstein (1879–1955), German-born Physicist & Philosopher, Author of Out of My Later Years
  • Every time you meet somebody, you’re looking for a better and newer and bigger idea. You are open to ideas from anywhere.
    –Jack Welch (b. 1935), American Business Executive & Author of Jack: Straight From The Gut and Winning
  • 'Stop Playing Safe' by Margie Warrell (ISBN 1118505581) The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
    –Mark Twain (1835–1910), American Author & Humorist, Author of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The rewards in business go to the man who does something with an idea.
    –William Benton (1900–73), American Publisher, Businessman, Politician
  • Try this for a week: Each morning, spring out of bed at the first hint of light and focus first on the new and wondrous things that are just waiting to reveal themselves that day. Let curiosity well up inside of you. Let your mind open up to new ideas. Forget that you already know everything.
    –Donna Kinni (b. 1961), American Author
  • The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen.
    –Carl Ally (1924–99), American Advertising Executive
  • When it comes to organizational imagination, everyone is a point of light, inwardly afire with excellent ideas for making our companies work smarter, faster, leaner, and better. But as business leaders, we too seldom tap into our most valuable resource—the brain trust of our employees—to discover new pathways of progress and profits.
    –Charles Decker (1961–2012), American Publisher
  • Inventors and men of genius have almost always been regarded as fools at the beginning (and very often at the end) of their careers.
    –Feodor Dostoyevsky (1821–81), Russian novelist, Author of Crime and Punishment
  • Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
    –John Steinbeck (1902–68), American Novelist and author of Of Mice and Men
  • 'Crossing the Chasm' by Geoffrey A. Moore (ISBN 0062292986) Keep on the lookout for novel ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you’re working on.
    –Thomas Edison (1847–1931), American Inventor
  • No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.
    –Ellen Glasgow (1873–1945), American Novelist, Author of In This Our Life
  • To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings.
    –Rosabeth Moss Kanter (b. 1942), American Academic, Author of Challenge of Organizational Change
  • Brainpower is now the greatest commodity we can contribute to the world. Democracy was never intended to be a breeding place for mediocrity. We must engage in the business of stimulating brainpower lest we fail in producing leaders of consequence. In a period of speed, space and hemispheric spasms we dare not treat new thoughts as if they were unwelcome relatives.
    –Dean F. Berkley (1925–2009), American Academic
  • If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. Also, you will have betrayed your community in failing to make your contribution.
    –Rollo May (1909–94), American Psychologist
  • New ideas come from differences. They come from having different perspectives and juxtaposing different theories.
    –Nicholas Negroponte (b. 1943), Greek-American Architect
  • Invention is the process by which a new idea is discovered or created. In contrast, innovation occurs when a new idea is adopted.
    –Everett Rogers (1931–2004), American Sociologist
  • The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
    –Linus Pauling (1901–94), American Scientist
  • Ideas are a capital that bears interest only in the hands of talent.
    –Antoine de Rivarol (1753–1801), French Journalist
  • The power of an idea can be measured by the degree of resistance it attracts.
    –David Yoho (b. 1946), American Business Consultant
  • An idea is salvation by imagination.
    –Frank Lloyd Wright (1869–1959), American Architect and author of The Natural House
  • '13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do' by Amy Morin (ISBN 0062358308) Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.
    –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), German Poet & Statesman, Author of Maxims and Reflections
  • If you can dream it, you can do it.
    –Walt Disney (1901–66), American Entrepreneur & Entertainer
  • There is no prosperity, trade, art, city, or great material wealth of any kind, but if you trace it home, you will find it rooted in a thought of some individual man.
    –Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), American Philosopher and Essayist, Author of Self-Reliance
  • A great idea is usually original to more than one discoverer. Great ideas come when the world needs them. Great ideas surround the world’s ignorance and press for admission.
    –Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911), American Author of A Singular Life and other books
  • I’d climb into the car as it went down the assembly line and introduce myself. Then I’d ask for ideas.
    –John Risk, American Automotive Engineer
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Quotes from Jeswald W. Salacuse’s Leading Leaders

'Leading Leaders' by Jeswald Salacuse (ISBN 0814417663) Jeswald W. Salacuse‘s Leading Leaders shows readers how to improve your capability to control three key facets of negotiation—interests, voice, and vision—towards advance your power and persuasiveness as a leader. His practical guide scrutinizes the vital role of negotiation in expanding, using, and maintaining leadership within organizations, large and small, public and private. Its purpose is to educate readers on the way to use negotiation to lead effectively. Here are quotes from his book.

  • “Smart, talented, rich, and powerful people require one-on-one leadership, tailor-made leadership, leadership up close and personal.”
  • “Elicit as much relevant information as possible in conducting a one-on-one encounter and strive to interpret that information accurately.”
  • “Lack of authority does not necessarily mean lack of power.”
  • “You find leaders at all levels throughout any organization, whether or not they have an office in the executive suite or a seat on the governing board.”
  • “Failures of an organization to achieve desired results lie as often in mistakes of leadership as in the intractable structure the situation.”
  • “People follow you because they believe it is in their interests to do so.”
  • “The test of leadership is followership.”
  • “Smart, talented, rich, and powerful people require one-on-one leadership, tailor-made leadership, leadership up close and personal.”
  • “The medium you use says things about you and about your relationship with the person you are trying to lead.”
  • “Avoid the tendency to dominate conversations and to talk more than listen, a tendency that has the effect of inhibiting the persons you are trying to lead.”
  • “Use questions to probe the underlying interests of the persons you hope to lead.”
  • “Move your followers to take action by characterizing a problem or challenge in such a way that it is in their interests to do something about it.”
  • “Mere articulation of the vision is not enough. You must convince your followers to accept it.”
  • “Persons you lead will look to you to motivate them, encourage them, and strengthen them to do the right thing for the organization.”
  • “Without creating trust you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to direct, integrate, mediate, educate, motivate, or represent the persons you lead.”
  • “In organizations and groups composed of leaders, each of them is likely to have a quite distinct organizational vision.”
  • “Beware of becoming so intoxicated by your own vision that you fail to see clearly the reservations that members of your organization may have about pursuing that vision enthusiastically.”
  • “You need to find and develop a process that will enable the organization’s members to participate in determining new directions.”
  • “In leading leaders, the most effective instrument is not an order but the right question.”
  • “The follower’s dilemma creates a constant tension between the drive to assert individual interests and the drive to assert organizational interests.”
  • “An organization without a common accepted culture may experience constant conflict, miscommunications, disappointed expectations, and dysfunction.”
  • “You first need to understand the nature of the cultural differences that divide your organization’s members and then seek to find ways to bridge that gap.”
  • “Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the organization both inside and outside.”
  • “A mediator may move a dispute toward resolution by bringing to the situation the skills and resources that the parties themselves lack.”
  • “The more an organization allows its members autonomy of action, the more likely it is that a resolution of conflicts will require mediation.”
  • “A first principle for any leader teacher is to know the persons to be taught; it affects what you teach and how you teach it.”
  • “When you educate leaders, you need to identify their frameworks and figure out how to use them for the educational purposes you want to achieve.”
  • “To the extent that “command and control” leadership does not work with other leaders, seek to rely on “advice and consent” leadership.”
  • “One of your basic tools as an educator of other leaders is not the declarative sentence but the question.”
  • “Leaders usually do not view their professional activities as just a job, but as a profession, a calling, a life-long commitment to an area of endeavor.”
  • “Understanding the interests of the people you lead comes from getting to know those people extremely well, as persons, a process that requires one-on-one interactions.”
  • “Before seeking to convince other persons of the rightness of a particular position, first work hard to convince yourself.”
  • “Motivate your followers by envisioning a future that will benefit them and communicating that future to them in a convincing way.”
  • “You must not only focus your efforts on the people you lead, but also concentrate enormous attention on the world outside your organization.”
  • “One of the most important functions that leadership representation serves is the acquisition of needed resources.”
  • “Don’t confuse trust with friendship. Creating a friendly relationship with people you lead doesn’t automatically mean that they will trust you.”
  • “Persons who trust each other are more likely to achieve a higher level of performance.”
  • “Openness is not just an easy smile or a charming manner; it refers to the process by which you make decisions that have implications for your followers’ interests.”
  • “Developing trust among the people you lead is also an incremental process. They will learn to trust one another through experiences of working together.”
  • “In organizations and groups composed of leaders, each of them is likely to have a quite distinct organizational vision.”
  • “Beware of becoming so intoxicated by your own vision that you fail to see clearly the reservations that members of your organization may have about pursuing that vision enthusiastically.”

Salacuse is Distinguished Professor and Braker Professor of Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Quotes from David Allen’s Masterpiece “Getting Things Done”

'Getting Things Done' by David Allen (ISBN 0143126563) Time management guru David Allen has established a cult following. His bestselling book, Getting Things Done, has produced an international crusade of dedicated adopters from executives, techies, soldiers, businesspersons, university lecturers, musicians, scholars, and ordained priests. It has spread into a flourishing “GTD” trade of web sites, blogs and software applications. Internet searches bring up tens of millions of references.

  • “The art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men.”
    –Captain J.A. Hatfield
  • “Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action.”
    –David Kekich
  • “Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately, it doesn’t seem to be working.”
    –Anonymous
  • “We can never really be prepared from that which is wholly new. We have to adjust ourselves, and every radical adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem: we undergo a test, we have to prove ourselves. It needs subordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.”
    –Eric Hoffer
  • “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”
    –Anonymous
  • “The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.”
    –Edward Gibbon
  • “Life is defined by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”
    –Nadia Boulanger
  • “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.”
    Shunryu Suzuki
  • “There is one thing we can do, and the happiest people are those who can do it to the limit of their ability. We can be completely present. We can be all here. We can… give all our attention to the opportunity before us.”
    –Mark Van Doren
  • 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg (ISBN 081298160X) “Think like a man of action. Act like a man of thought.”
    –Henry Bergson
  • “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”
    –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.”
    –Kerry Gleeson
  • “Rule your mind or it will rule you.”
    –Horace
  • “The beginning is half of every action.”
    –Greek proverb
  • “Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”
    Vaclav Havel
  • “It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”
    –Sally Kempton
  • “The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action. What we now mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results.”
    –Peter F. Drucker
  • “Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are the most active.”
    –Leonardo da Vinci
  • “It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”
    Elbert Hubbard
  • “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
    –Michael McGriffy, M.D.
  • 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman (ISBN 0374533555) “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    –Albert Einstein
  • “The affairs of life embrace a multitude of interests, and he who reasons in any one of them, without consulting the rest, is a visionary unsuited to control the business of the world.”
    –James Fenimore Cooper
  • “You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
    –Alvin Toffer
  • “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”
    –Rochelle Myer
  • “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”
    George Santayana
  • “Celebrate any progress. Don’t wait to get perfect.”
    –Ann McGee Cooper
  • “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.”
    –Dee Hock
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
    –Albert Einstein
  • “Your automatic creative mechanism is teleological. That is, it operates in terms of goals and end results. Once you give it a definite goal to achieve, you can depend upon its automatic guidance system to take you to that goal much better than ‘you’ ever could by conscious thought. ‘You’ supply the goal by thinking in terms of end results. Your automatic mechanism then supplies the means whereby.”
    –Maxwell Maltz
  • “I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.”
    –Lily Tomlin
  • “The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas.”
    –Linus Pauling
  • “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”
    –Emile Chartier
  • 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen R. Covey (ISBN 1451639619) “Only he who handles his ideas lightly is master of his ideas, and only he who is master of his ideas is not enslaved by them.”
    Lin Yutang
  • “Plans get you into things but you’ve got to work your way out.”
    –Will Rogers
  • “It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action.”
    –O.H. Mowrer
  • “I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin.”
    –Stephen Bayne
  • “I got it all together, but I forgot where I put it.”
    –Anonymous
  • “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”
    –Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “We must strive to reach the simplicity that lies beyond sophistication.”
    –John Gardner
  • “Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.”
    –Jean de la Bruysre
  • “What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.”
    –Aristotle
  • “To make knowledge productive, we will have to learn to see both forest and tree. We will have to learn to connect.”
    Peter F. Drucker
  • 'The Effective Executive' by Peter Drucker (ISBN 0060833459) “‘Point of view’ is that quintessentially human solution to information overload, an intuitive process of reducing things to an essential relevant and manageable minimum. In a world of hyperabundant content, point of view will become the scarcest of resources.”
    –Paul Saffo
  • “Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in, business and in life. Empire builders spend hour-after-hour on mental work… while others party. If you’re not consciously aware of putting forth the effort to exert self-guided integrated thinking… then you’re giving in to laziness and no longer control your life.”
    –David Kekich
  • “We all have times when we think more effectively, and times when we should not be thinking at all.”
    –Daniel Cohen
  • “To ignore the unexpected (even if it were possible) would be to live without opportunity, spontaneity, and the rich moments of which ‘life’ is made.”
    –Stephen Covey
  • “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”
    –Buddha
  • “The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.”
    –Charles Schwab
  • “The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster.”
    –Rosabeth Moss Cantor
  • “Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish.”
    –Ovid
  • “How do I know what to think, until I hear what I say?”
    E.M. Forster
  • “Let your advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”
    –Winston Churchill
  • “Out of the strain of the doing, into the peace of the done.”
    –Julia Louis Woodruff
  • “It is the act of forgiveness that opens up the only possible way to think creatively about the future at all.”
    –Fr. Desmond Wilson
  • 'How to Win Friends & Influence People' by Dale Carnegie (ISBN 0671027034) “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting with the first one.”
    –Mark Twain
  • “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
    –Mark Twain
  • “No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something.”
    –George F. Nordenholt
  • “You can only cure retail but you can prevent wholesale.”
    –Brock Chisolm
  • “Talk does not cook rice.”
    –Chinese proverb
  • “There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
    John F. Kennedy
  • “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them.”
    –George Bernard Shaw
  • “Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.”
    –Dr. Samuel Johnson
  • “An idealist believes that the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”
    –Sidney J. Harris
  • “A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world.”
    –From a church in Sussex, England, ca. 1730
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Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for Millennials

If you’re like most millennials in business, you haven’t read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It perhaps never fascinated to you. In actual fact, if you’re like many smart and talented millennials I’ve met, you may believe it to be completely contrary to your nature.

There are certainly millennials who’ve read The Art of War and used it to their lives and their businesses. But if you’re like most, you may wonder how you can possibly familiarize the wisdom of a Chinese military strategist from 500 B.C. to your daily business encounters.

The answer is in an approach to business and life that is both time-tested and groundbreaking. Sun Tzu’s classic has had overwhelming influence the world over. It’s shaped Eastern military and business thinking, and in the West, its attractiveness continues to grow as managers and leaders apply its principles to their business challenges.

The book is about how to seize the advantage in all battles, including those you choose not to fight. While The Art of War is rather literally about warfare, presuming it’s about seeking combat as the best option is very far from the real Sun Tzu. In fact, a major theme of The Art of War is “He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will win.”

'The Art of War' by Ralph D. Sawyer (ISBN 081331951X) For most business readers, waging war doesn’t mean assembling forces to take a city. It means mobilizing ourselves or our teams to win a big contract, seize a market opportunity, control an industry, or reposition a company. Sun Tzu says a great deal about the traits and characteristics necessary for this type of victory. To be successful, Sun Tzu calls for vigilant strategy and proficient perception, superior subtlety and technique, and skillful application of your assets and attributes. He stresses that you understand yourself, your opponent and the conditions of the battleground, however you define that field. Below are just a few ways to apply Sun Tzu to business challenges that plague many millennials.

  • Ditch the Rules: Too many millennials fall into the trap of assuming that success will be found in following prearranged standards. This mistaken belief has its origin in childhood when most millennials are content with playing by rules and being patient and polite. While times have changed, you were probably habituated to be reactionary. There’s a time for patience and politeness, but in business, waiting your turn will often result in missed opportunities. Sun Tzu calls for the perception to move with intensity when the time is right: “An army superior in strength takes action like the bursting of pent up waters into a chasm of a thousand fathoms deep.”
  • Overcome Mistakes: Writing of ideals, Sun Tzu had no regard for mistakes. But the rest of us live in a very distinctive reality. Habituation often extends to how differently men and millennials regard mistakes. millennials, in general, have a more difficult time with mistakes, largely because we’re socialized to feel differently about mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity to do better next time. But when millennials make mistakes, they’re solaced, emphasizing the idea that they should feel badly about making them.
  • Take the Right Risks: Risk taking is another area where millennials tend to function very differently, but where Sun Tzu delivers lucidity. A student of war, taking calculated risks is fundamental to him. He recognizes that we’re the architect of our victories, which means we need to define winning on our terms, and when necessary, change the game entirely. Sun Tzu writes repeatedly of manipulating circumstances. Many millennials find themselves on career paths or within organizations where their skills and strengths are painfully limited. Victory demands excellence and the only way to excel is to be positioned to achieve. If this doesn’t describe your circumstances, a game change is in order.

'Sun Tzu Machiavelli Leadership Secrets' by Anthony D. Jensen (ISBN 1530006619) So what’s in The Art of War for millennials? For one thing, it provides awareness into how to gain a decisive business advantage by leveraging your strengths and assets to craft and execute effective strategies. It will help you understand and develop the traits and obstinacy necessary to make major achievements. And significantly, the Chinese philosopher-general will show you to do it in ways least expected: “Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes.”

In a competitive world, the currency of the people, businesses, products and ideas that are winning is innovation. For Sun Tzu, and for you, winning requires careful preparation and the opportune launch of unexpected strategies and tactics.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues

As a young adult, Ben Franklin identified 13 virtues he aspired to. To implement these virtues in his life, he devised a “Plan for Self Examination,” an agenda whereby he concentrated his attention, one virtue at a time, for one week at a time, rotating through the entire list four times a year. He kept a detailed log of the actions he took to develop the virtues in himself, along with his personal results.

He traced his development by using a little book of 13 charts. At the top of each chart was one of the virtues. The charts had a column for each day of the week and thirteen rows marked with the first letter of each of the 13 virtues. Every evening he would review the day and put a mark by the side of each virtue for each error committed with respect to that virtue for that day.

Unsurprisingly, his goal was to live his days and weeks without having to put any marks on his chart. At the start he found himself putting more marks on these pages than he ever anticipated, but in time he enjoyed seeing them diminish. Eventually he went through the series only once per year and then only once in several years until ultimately omitting them entirely. But he always carried the little book with him as a reminder.

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
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What the Color of Your Car Can Reveal About Your Personality

What's the Color of Your Car?

According to Leatrice Eiseman, American color specialist and director of the Pantone Color Institute, the color of your car can reflect what you are—and what you want to be:

  • Brown the choice of a cautious, conservative, often introverted personality likely to drive the good bargain.
  • White it’s the choice of a neat, compulsive motorist who can be both critical as well as fussy.
  • Blue you like consistency in your life. You’re likely to be conservative, shy, and introverted.
  • Green a hot fashion color that puts an emphasis on the environment, but the deeper the green, the more conservative and traditional person you are.
  • Teals the choice of a trend-setting extrovert who craves attention and desires admiration.
  • Neutrals the colors of non-commitment and chosen by someone who doesn’t want to be conspicuous or stand out from the crowd.
  • Metallics chosen by confident yet understated extroverts.
  • Black the choice of a serious, self-confident sophisticate.
  • Yellow the hue for active, artistic people and the individual willing to try something new.

What color is your car?

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

Hierarchical is out; horizontal is in.

There’s no room today for the multiple layers, slow decision making, and dependence on leaders. Successful organizations are characterized by consultation, collaboration, and cross-functional problem-solving, decision-making, and planning.

Why are horizontal organizations so much more nimble? Extended product development cycles are replaced by rapid movement from design to market; decision-making bottlenecks are eliminated; leaders empower and delegate; and the focus is on the success of the business, not individual functions.

Horizontal Leadership Success

Leaders intent on this transition must take four actions:

  1. Horizontal Leadership Success Look into the mirror. The top team sets the tone. Before expecting others to “go horizontal,” senior managers must ask, “What are the decision-making patterns on our team?” “To what extent do we see ourselves as accountable and responsible for one another’s success and for the outcomes of our team?” “Do we depersonalize conflict and confront one another honestly and openly?” If the president is still calling the shots; if team members are constantly lobbying for resources; or if internal conflict has brought decision making to a halt-it’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Align all your teams-beginning at the top. Raising team performance and refraining team behavior begins with alignment. Ask seven questions to determine whether or not a team is aligned: Does the team have clear goals? Are those goals aligned with the strategy? Do all team members know who is responsible for what and how they will be held accountable? Are protocols or rules of engagement agreed upon so everyone knows how decisions will be made? Are rules in place for how conflict will be managed? Are relationships between and among team members healthy and transparent? Do people assert their point of view honestly and openly and treat disagreement not as a personal attack but as a business case?
  3. Shift from commanding to influencing. In the new paradigm, the one who wins isn’t the person with the most clout, but the one who possesses the right strategic instinct, content capability, rapport, and persuasion. When Susan Fullman was director of distribution for United Airlines, she was a cross-functional player in a hierarchical context. Her success hinged on her ability to influence rather than command: “I had to sell my vision to each director. And I couldn’t do that without learning to clearly articulate my ideas, depersonalize the way I made my case, develop my powers of persuasion-and learn to listen to each person and address their concerns.”
  4. Become a player-centered leader. The horizontal organization calls for a shift in the role of the leader to a new “player-centered” model. The question becomes: How prepared are the players to handle increased authority and responsibility? As teams proliferate and decision making becomes decentralized, people must step up. Managers must know each person’s capabilities and skills and adjust his or her “style” accordingly.

'Lead with Lean' by Michael Balle (ISBN 154480844) For example, when managing an inexperienced team leader, a senior manager needs to provide a high level of direction, structure, and support; but as team leaders become more competent, the senior manager can adopt a more hands-off style. The goal should be to inspire and empower, not prescribe or direct. Provide coaching and collaboration as each player requires.

Many leaders talk about decentralization, delayering, and empowerment. But decisions continue to be made by the CEO; functional heads are still vying for resources; and further down are vacationers and victims.

Horizontal organizations are more states of mind than states of matter. It’s not as much about titles and boxes as it is about every employee showing up, every day, as an energized, strategically focused team member.

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Crowd Psychology

Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology, focused on crowd behavior.

Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology, focused on crowd behavior.

Theory on the behavior of crowds, going back as far as Plato, originally assumed that crowd behavior was that of an unthinking mob. Substantive study of crowds in the social sciences was reinvigorated by The Origins of Contemporary France (1875/1893), by the conservative historian Hippolyte Taine (1828-93). But it was in [[The Psychology of Crowds|Le Bon[The Psychology of Crowds (1895) that French sociologist Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931) first mined the writings of existing theorists on crowd behavior to create the new discipline of crowd psychology.

Le Bon listed th ree primary elements of crowd behavior, including,

  1. a unity of collective identification, giving a sense of limitless power;
  2. the creation of a sensitivity to emotional appeals due to that unity;
  3. collective intelligence in the crowd dropping to that of the lowest common denominator.

'The Wisdom of Crowds' by James Surowiecki (ISBN 0385721706) Crowds, said Le Bon, are easily subject to collective hallucinations, suggestions originated by individuals in the crowd that are thoughtlessly and contagiously adopted throughout the whole. Le Ban’s theory of crowd psychology received little significant challenge until the later works of sociologists such as George Rude (1910-93) and E. P Thompson (1924-93). Thompson’s studies of the actual behavior of crowds focused primarily on the social context and demands of crowds, while Rude looked at the composition of existing crowds. Their studies challenged views of the crowd as essentially primal and irrational, and instead showed crowds as often being composed of relatively better-off members of communities who are responding to specific threats to their communities, at the same time acting on cultural assumptions that are widely shared.

The study of the psychology and behavior of crowds had long been merely speculation before Le Bon, whose influential studies integrated the study of crowd behavior into formal social science.

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Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

A detail from Ambrogio Lorenzetti's fresco Bad Government and the Effects of Bad Government on the City Life (1337-39), located in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, Italy.

Plato initiated the view that possession of absolute power inevitably has a corrupting effect.

Probably the most ancient expression of the idea that power has a corruptive effect appears in the parable of the Ring of Gyges in The Republic (c. 360 BCE) by Plato (c. 424-c. 348 BCE). In the parable, the otherwise virtuous Gyges indulges in corrupt behavior after finding a magic ring that renders him invisible.

However, the maxim “absolute power corrupts absolutely” originates much later, being a paraphrase of a letter written by Sir John Dalberg-Acton (1834–1902), a British Catholic historian better known as Lord Acton, to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. Acton scolds Creighton in the letter for his suggestion, in previous correspondence, that the pope, king, or any other person holding comparably high station ought to be judged according to standards different to those applied to common men. Acton argues that, quite to the contrary, “Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

British politician and historian Lord John Dalberg-Acton The British politician and historian Lord John Dalberg-Acton famously wrote in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (1887):

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which … the end learns to justify the means.

Acton, however, followed at least two distinguished persons in associating power with corruption: in a speech that was delivered in the British House of Commons in 1770, Prime Minister William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1708–78), had claimed that, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my Lords, that where law ends, tyranny beginsl” Acton’s observation was also anticipated by French writer, poet, and politician Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine (1790– 1869), who, in his essay France and England: a Vision of the Future (1848), had claimed “It is not only the slave or serf who is ameliorated in becoming free … the master himself did not gain less in every point of view .. for absolute power corrupts the best natures.” Acton, too, believed that few could resist power’s corrupting effect, asserting, “Great men are almost always bad men.”

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Master the Principles of Four Arenas of Positive Power

Master the Principles of Four Arenas of Positive Power

Interpersonal influence (also identified as social influence) has transpired when the actions of one or more individuals influence the attitudes or behaviors of one or more other individuals. Relationships prosper or decline in relation to how well the partakers harmonize with one another about important decisions. Some agreements just fortuitously happen, but many of them are the result of the participants influencing one another. Recognizing the principles explained below will make one a better practitioner of influence and also more aware of how one is being influenced.

Successful managers apply each of these principles within four arenas:

  • Personal power. Managers must access the untapped capacity we, individually, have for personal power. Integrating our intellectual, emotional, and physical energies, the arena of personal power, is the groundwork.
  • Interpersonal influence. We can’t achieve organizational goals alone, regardless of how much personal power we have. Personal power does, however, enable us to achieve interpersonal influence. Influence is the impact we have on others simply because we are part of the same system. Such influence is too often undefined and undirected. Interpersonal influence connotes a specific focus of impact; that is, our ability to support others to willingly use their energy on behalf of our goals in ways that get rid of power struggles that waste energy. Instead, the focus is on improving the quality of our relationships to enhance interpersonal influence. This type of influence is pervasive and is necessary for survival. To not take cues from others would be to ignore much of the information that is available about the world.
  • Team synergy. A group is formed anytime people come together to accomplish something. We may call them departments, divisions, work units, teams, task forces, or committees. Meetings are a group activity. Groups must be turned into a source meaningful power. Team synergy, the most potent manifestation of group power, exists when the whole generates more power than the sum of its parts. Turning groups into high-performing, synergetic teams requires creating safe, conflict-competent, empowering groups that learn from differences and make good decisions. Teamwork has always been recognized as the backbone of leadership, but the stresses that team members now are experiencing might be one of the biggest challenges we will need to overcome to continue to think that way. Efficiency, cost-effectiveness, new technology and procedures, and multiple shifts in job responsibilities are permeating our environments during a time when teams are strained and sometimes broken.
  • 'The Infinite Organization' by Michael F. Broom (ISBN 0891061681) The infinite organization. The payoff occurs in final arena, The Infinite Organization. In this arena our skills of personal power, interpersonal influence, and team synergy are applied in three areas: leadership and the executive team, structures and policies, and management practices that have created the benefits of the infinite perspective of power and its related principles. The synergy that allows an organization to give information and material and to add value through processes that they each offer is a unique quality. The resulting outcome is far greater than one that any individual could offer independently.

With these tools, managers can create the positive and self-sustaining culture that characterizes an infinite organization. When all three areas are fully developed, aligned, and congruent, the focus, energy, and success of The Infinite Organization will be evident.

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