Sunday, June 29, 2008

Authentic Leadership

I have been busy doing other things this weekend and did not think of blogging, but

As I was reading some of my favourite blogs, I noticed an interesting post worth spreading.

John Spence blogged a list of 10 Things Authentic Leaders Do by Robin Sharma.

The post was so good that I decided to simply blog a short version of it. See John’s blog for the whole story.

10 things that authentic leaders do on a regular basis:
  1. They speak their truth. In business today, we frequently ’swallow our truth’. We say things to please others and to look good in front of The Crowd. Authentic leaders are different. They consistently talk truth.
  2. They lead from the heart. Business is about people. Leadership is about people. The best leaders wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to show their vulnerability.
  3. They have rich moral fiber. Authentic leaders work on their character. They walk their talk and are aligned with their core values.
  4. They are courageous. It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd. It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary. It takes a lot of inner strength to do what you think is right even though it may not be easy.
  5. They build teams and create communities. One of the primary things that people are looking for in their work experience is a sense of community.
  6. They deepen themselves. The job of the leader is to go deep. Authentic leaders know their weaknesses and play to their strengths.
  7. They are dreamers. Authentic leaders dare to dream impossible dreams. They see what everyone else sees and then dream up new possibilities.
  8. They care for themselves. Taking care of your physical dimension is a sign of self-respect. You can’t do great things at work if you don’t feel good.
  9. They commit to excellence rather than perfection. No human being is perfect. Authentic leaders commit themselves to excellence in everything that they do.
  10. They leave a legacy. To live in the hearts of the people around you is to never die.
As always, some questions at the end. This time copied from John.

Look at the list and give yourself a brutally honest score of 1 -10 on each of his items.

10 = you are a living example of this — it describes you perfectly.
7 = you do this almost all of the time.
5 = 50/50, sometimes you behave this way - sometime you don’t.
3 = this describe you a little bit, every now and then, but this is not a typical behavior for you.
1= this isn’t you at all - you might wish it were, but the truth is - this is not the way you lead today.

John’s recommendation: Anywhere you scored a 7 or less is a good place to start working. Anything below a 4 means you need to get to work on that particular issue immediately. Remember: be 100% honest with yourself!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Waste of Time

I found a strange article the other day about

New Zealand Book Council has made
classic book summaries
on powerpoint format

And not only powerpoint but a slideument format so you can read them at work without your boss noticing.

Why would you do that?
Because you have nothing better to do than pretend you are doing something useful?

The people who created this really must have had too little work to do and think it is funny!?

This is really counterproductive and against every work value I know! And a misuse of literature. And a misuse of powerpoint!

Even the Wall Street Journal thought it is funny!?

Unbelievable! The readers of Wall Street Journal should rather think why this is happening and how to avoid it.

And yes, I do know who would read it - the people who are not engaged to their work:

The percentage of employees who are engaged ranges from 29% in the United States to 9% in Japan and Singapore; the percentage of actively disengaged employees ranges from a low of just 6% in Thailand to a high of 31% in France.
Gallup Management Journal
New Zealand is rather average, but there are still enough disengaged people.

Scary, isn't it?

I prefer real books and will go to read some nice fiction now.

Or is it just a joke? I can not find readatwork link from New Zealand Book Council pages.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Skills to Make You an Effective Manager

I have just returned from a Leadership training and to summarize that I decided to write about Management skills. Why? Because the trainer, Dr. Angelo Kinicki, links management and leadership tightly together

The management skills constitute a cycle of
goal creation, commitment, feedback, reward, and accomplishment,
with human interaction at every turn.

In his book Angelo points out that management is primarily about dealing effectively with people – being effective in leadership.

He lists 11 observable categories of managerial behavior, identified by Clark Wilson.

There is a bit of Curse of Knowledge in these books, but if you look close they provide really great advice, so I tried to make a Made to Stick presentation of them:

Effective Manager
  1. Clarifies goals and objectives for everyone involved.
  2. Encourages participation, upward communication and suggestions.
  3. Plans and organizes for an orderly work flow.
  4. Has technical and administrative expertise to answer organization-related questions.
  5. Facilitates work trough team building, training, coaching, and support.
  6. Provides feedback honestly and constructively.
  7. Keeps things moving by relying on schedules, deadlines, and helpful reminders.
  8. Controls details without being overbearing.
  9. Applies reasonable pressure for goal accomplishment.
  10. Empowers and delegates key duties to others while maintaining goal clarity and commitment.
  11. Recognizes good performance with rewards and positive reinforcement.
Actually, at the training, Angelo emphasized three topics
  1. Goals
  2. Feedback
  3. Rewards
You could say that the other steps are means to effectively lead and manage your team to achieve the goals.

And there are plenty of tools and techniques for each step, but that's another story. These are the important skills you need to remember to get tools and techniques for.

Simple, isn’t it?

And well in line with my Manager's Toolbox Mission and Vision

Friday, June 13, 2008

Management's new role?

This questions was printed on HBR when I was born:

What are the big tasks waiting for management today that require both new theories and new practices?

Maybe the time is finally right for lasting answers. In May Gary Hamel and HBR invited 35 really smart folks to reinvent management for the 21st century.

They focused on the following key questions during their meeting:
  1. What are the deep-seated impediments, or “design flaws,” that limit the capacity of organizations to adapt (to change without trauma); to innovate (to mobilize the imagination of everyone, every day); and to engage (to create environments that inspire extraordinary contributions).
  2. Given these systemic impediments, and the new demands that will confront organizations in the years ahead, what should be the agenda for 21st century management innovators? That is, what are the “moonshot challenges” that must be addressed if we are to create organizations that are truly fit for the future?
  3. Can we imagine, even in outline form, some potential solutions to these challenges, and if so, what sorts of experiments might be useful in helping us to test these ideas in real world settings?
  4. More generally, what could be done to help accelerate the evolution of management in the years to come, that is, what is it that limits the pace of management innovation and how might these limits by overcome?
I am curios to hear the outcome of this discussion in his blog.

Similar topics have been discussed for quite a while. Peter F. Drucker wrote in Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 1969 about

Management's new role

"We will, therefore, increasingly have to learn to make existing organizations capable of rapid and continuing innovation. How far we are from this is shown by the fact that management still worries about resistance to change."

He outlined 5 new realities (for Reinventing Management for the 1970s...)
  1. All institutions, including business, are accountable for the quality of life
  2. Entrepreneutial innovation will become the very heart and core of management
  3. It is management's task to make knowledge more productive
  4. Management will have to been considered as both a "science" and a "humanity"
  5. Economic and social development are the result of management
This he said in a keynote speach "at the 15th CIOS International Management Congress in Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 1969".

I can not find the article online, but I can send a pdf copy to anyone who is interested - just send me an email.

The questions have been around, maybe the time is finally right for lasting answers?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Does Your Boss Know You Are Blogging?

Mine does, I told him, and his boss and his boss. But due to generation gap, I do not know if they understand (yet).

This presentation should help understand how blogs work
and how they can be useful at work.

Some facts about Generation Y: 97% own a computer, 76% use Instant Messaging, 44% read blogs, 28% author a blog.

I am not really Generation Y, since I was born in the 60s. This explains why I refer to John Lennon or The Blues Brothers.

But I am not a baby boomer either – according to a recent survey they in contrast have little or no interest in writing blogs or in participating in general social networking.

I try to balance somewhere in the middle. I am not looking for a job at IBM as Sacha, who made the presentation. I aim to continue on my journey of Lifelong Learning. I am finding more and more useful resources based on blogs, social networking and Web 2.0.

I also told about my blog to our head of HR, because I wanted to make sure I am not crossing any line. Her reaction was quite the opposite from this one on a Harvard Business Review cartoon:

"Frankly, we were looking for someone who's able to think outside the blog."

That is exactly what I am trying to do – think outside the blog. Just as Sacha outlined on her presentation:

1) Read and learn as much as you can (and not just books, but blogs and news feeds)
2) Write and share what you've learned
3) Reach out - find mentors, make friends
4) Rock - do a good job and tell how you would make it even better
5) Repeat from #1

I do that by collecting best practices in this blog and sharing them with my colleagues and with you. And I do that on my own time, not by Working in the Gray Zone.

Do you have a blog?

Do you follow blogs?

Do we share some of the same ideas?

Should we establish a connection somehow?

Which generation are you? (Does it really matter?)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ideas Come from Customers

Peter Drucker and Elisabeth Haas Edersheim point out the importance of knowledge management in their book The Definitive Drucker

Delivering value depends on your listening and translating of customer needs, and innovating accordingly.

My friend told me about this great tool of exchanging ideas with your customers. It’s a tool created by They are naturally using their own tool on their website and openly asking their customers to comment their products and propose new features.

The tool was recently featured in BusinessWeek which wrote a story about how Starbucks and Dell use the tool. Dell for example has received thousands of ideas and tens of thousands of comments. (Starbucks requires user account , ideas was down or closed during weekend...)

The tool also allows customers and employees to rate the proposals to let the companies know, which are the best ones and should be worked on. Naturally it could be used only internally, if for example capturing customer needs in the web would open a door to your competitors.

Simple and effective. This tool really allows you to capture true customer requirements and ensure customer focus. And eliminate the distance between R&D and customer. It is really hard to think of a more effective and simple way than Ideas.

How often have your R&D said they are too far from the customer?

How effectively do you collect customer requirements?

How effectively do you deliver them within your organization?

Would you have the courage to be as open as

Actually, I proposed this tool internally a year ago. Ideas are appreciated in our company, but I still felt like Bob on this little promotional video by

To whom should I present this idea, and
how do they know if it a good one?

Have you ever felt like Bob?

The suggestion box in Bob's office looks suprizingly similar to the one shown on my earlier post Ideas Come from Everywhere

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Knowledge Management Theory and Practice

Last week I heard a presentation about knowledge management, which got me thinking

What is the theory and practice of Knowledge Management?

Year ago I thought Nonaka's Knowledge Creating Company provided the best answer with SECI model:

Socialization: the sharing of tacit knowledge between individuals through joint activities, physical proximity. (Must happen before I post to this blog)

Externalization: the expression of tacit knowledge in publicly comprehensible forms. (Happens as I post to this blog)

Combination: the conversion of explicit knowledge into more complex sets of explicit knowledge: communication, dissemination, systematization of explicit knowledge. (Happens also as I post to this blog, and as you read this blog)

Internalization: the conversion of externalized knowledge into tacit knowledge on an individual or organizational scale. Applying the explicit knowledge into actions, practices, processes and strategic initiatives. (Must happen at the same time as posting to this blog, otherwise learning by doing does not take place)

I was no longer sure if this SECI model is valid at the age of blogging. So I started looking for the theory and practice and found them from unexpected sources.

A friend of mine actually just made his PhD on "Exploring and Exploiting Knowledge". Yes, it is academic, but provides good overview of Knowledge Management theory. (You can download the 191 page pdf, 1,8 Mb here)

In my search of simplicity, I will use one of the definitions Era (Dr. Mäki to you) identified:

"Knowledge management is a process of knowledge creation, validation, presentation, distribution, and application. These five phases in knowledge management allow an organization to learn and reflect as well as unlearn and relearn, which are usually considered essential for the building, maintaining, and replenishing of core-competencies." (Bhatt, 2001)

As unexpectidly I found a perfect example of practice at SlideShare. Meet Jessica and her Web 2.0 based Knowledge Management system:

Studying a bit further, I found an abstract of an article I have no access to stating:

"Now, after 15 years Web 2.0 concepts seem to be an ideal fit with Nonaka's SECI approach opening new doors for more personal, dynamic, and social learning on a global scale by combination of formal and informal learning, knowledge management, and Web 2.0 concepts into one integrated solution.”

This actually proves that Nonaka’s model is still very valid. But I am still missing a good book about the topic.

Do you know any good business book about Knowledge Management?
One that you would recommend me - by commenting below or by email?

Do you have a Knowledge Management system?

How is knowledge created at your organization?

How is knowledge validated at your organization?

How is knowledge presented at your organization?

How is knowledge distributed at your organization?

How is knowledge applied at your organization?

Is there something you could learn from Jessica?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Link Between Strategy, Culture, Change and Leadership

15 years ago I was reading books about organizational culture by Edgar H. Schein. At that time I was a studying Leadership and Management at the university and did not yet understand

The power of organizational culture.

Now I am starting to understand it. Culture is more powerful than Strategy. As Schein says in The Corporate Culture Survival Guide

The organization clings to whatever made it a success. The very culture that created the success makes it difficult for members of the organization to perceive changes in the environment that require new responses. Culture becomes a constraint on strategy.

Culture is always more powerful than Strategy. If you want to change one, you need to change both. Outlining new strategy on paper is management, but implementing it requires a lot of change leadership to influence the culture related to existing strategy. Often a new organizational structure is helpful, if not required, to implement a new strategy.

I found some related videos from Stanford site. It’s a great resource as videos are cut to 3-5 minute searchable topics, with individual descriptions.

Silicon Valley Bank CEO Ken Wilcox:
Culture Trumps Strategy
Building great corporate culture is more than just metaphors; it's what motivates a winning team.

Click twice to see on Stanford site

Debra Dunn, former vice president of strategy and corporate operations at Hewlett Packard
Randy Komisar, partner at venture capital company Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers:
Leadership and Change Management
Both speakers believe that leadership skills and the ability to handle change comfortably are the key characteristics that have been useful in their respective careers.

Click twice to see on Stanford site

Has your organization had a new strategy or structure implemented lately?


Have these had an effect on the corporate culture?

Was this all planned by clever leaders?

How confortable you are with change?

How confortable the rest of the organization is with change?

What is your role as a leader to influence the underlying culture?