Breakthrough teams and how they can remake a company is the subect of Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton's latest book, The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization (Simon & Schuster 2010). What's more, they will be presenting, for the first time in public, the data that went into the new book during the free, live HSM webinar on November 3 entitled appropriately enough, The Orange Revolution. (Why "orange" and not, say "purple"? Orange is the color of carrots, and Gostick and Elton's best-seller was The Carrot Principle: How the Best Mangers Use Recognition to Engage Their Employees, Retain Talent, and Drive Performance. The Orange Revolution is the logical next step from recognition management.)
To write the new book, the authors surveyed over 350,000 people at some of the leading companies. The November 3 webinar will reveal what the authors discovered about the characteristics of breakthrough teams. In a recent Business Week article excerpting the book, the authors explain that while breakthrough teams "always include competent people, most are not comprised of a preponderance of people with remarkable intelligence or unique expertise. They are not so-called Dream Teams." The authors realized that "world-class results come only partly from who makes up these teams, but more importantly what these teams do." All told, The Orange Revolution identifies six core traits that the authors consistently found at companies with breakthrough teams:
That last one that makes you stop and think. What are they talking about? Well, anyone who has worked in such an organization can attest to the importance of the story, as it makes every team member a part of the evolving company narrative and history. And that's what makes a team breakthrough in every sense of the word.
We're going to change it up at the Bloggers Hub Cap. Starting this week, the hub cap will highlight three of the best recent blog posts on the business web. Enjoy.
Economy, Trends, Change:
Power of Ten Interface (Thomas Frey's Futurist Speaker)
The distance between information and our brain is getting shorter. Twenty years the time between a request for information and finding the answer in the Library of Congress averaged 10 hours per question. We have shaved that time today to 10 minutes, and we are headed for a world in which we can find answers in as little as 10 seconds. "The ease and fluidity of our information-to-brain interface will have a profound effect on everything from education, to the way business is being conducted, to the way we function as a society."
Leadership, Performance, People:
Servant Leaders Outperform Because They Connect (Michael Lee Stallard)
Do certain types of leaders garner out-sized loyalty? Because they move people to “surrender the me for the we” and create "connection cultures," the teams of "servant leaders" accomplish more because they pull together rather than drift apart: the fascinating case of retired Chief Naval Officer Vern Clark, under whom re-enlistment soared from 38% to 56.7%.
Strategy, Innovation, Communication:
Top Ten Reasons Your Company Shouldn't Blog (B.L. Ochman's What's Next Blog)
Every company needs a blog, right? Maybe not. Companies need to consider whether they are willing to commit the time, energy and money to making a blog successful. Leveraging your business by blogging takes a lot of work, and most company blogs are failures--not read, not interesting, not original and you can't expect them to drive sales.
Here is the rundown of speakers at Day 2 of World Business Forum 2010:
In conjunction with WBF10, MWW Group is taking a survey asking four simple questions on leadership: what qualities make a leader; how has leadership changed in the past five years; what will leadership require in 2025; and which is the more important quality, vision or operational expertise. Results will be announced during WBF10.
It would be fun to go back in time and re-live games of follow-the-leader to observe whether certain kids exhibited certain qualities that we ascribe to leadership that made them better at garnering the followers. Then we could fast-forward to see if those kids ended up as leaders, with an equally ardent pack of followers. Anyway, the closest to such an experiment I can think of is the British documentary series Up that has followed a group of kids every seven years throughout their lives (as in 7-Up, 14-Up, 21-Up, 28-Up, 35-Up, 42-Up and 49-Up, so far) to see what patterns played out. The series doesn't test specifically for leadership, but you can see the kernels of how such a study might play out. It would be fascinating to see how Carlos Brito, A.G. Lafley, Jack Welch and Bill McDermott would have presented in such a study, not to mention in a childhood game of follow-the-leader (or capture the flag or any other game).
So is leadership just one of those intangibles? You know it when you see it because leaders are driven to lead, and we are driven to follow them. Thought leaders and analysts pose repeatedly the question, "What is leadership?" And there are a million variations on that question. Daniel Leidl over at My Generation Leader poses it in a different way in all his fascinating blog posts and in articles for The Washington Post, most recently in Lady Gaga: Does Innovation Equal Leadership? Others try to answer the question. Bret Simmons of Positive Organizational Behavior posted Leaders Know Their Value. And in the end, maybe leadership is simply a confluence of knowing you have certain qualities, whatever they might be (vision, ability to act decisively, unique and innovative knowledge, etc.) in a particular circumstance, and being able to project your self-knowledge so that others trust those qualities.
It would be interesting to compare the answers of those who take the MWW Group survey to those of WBF10's all-star panel of leaders, none of whom need any introduction--their names are as household as you get in the business world. And while Jack Welch (former CEO G.E.; The Welch Way), A.G. Lafley (former CEO Proctor & Gamble; CD&R), Carlos Brito (CEO Anheuser-Busch InBev) and Bill McDermott (CEO SAP) will each bring to WBF10 specific insight on leadership and the challenges facing leaders today, they will also bring and have on display that certain something that we try so much to define, but that defies definition. They'll bring leadership.
You're only as good as your last _____. Where that aphorism/cliche originated is anyone's guess. But if you search it online, every field of endeavor has tagged that blank. So, "you're only as good as your last game, picture, sale, byline, job, blog post...." And Jim Collins would no doubt paraphrase to make it apply to companies as well: a company is only as great as its last...well, everything a company does fills in that blank, so let's settle on "its last effort at greatness." The Collins message is that to sustain greatness, a company has to aspire to greatness, consciously, everyday. No laurel-resting allowed; failure, thy name is hubris.
Collins, the best-selling author of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Good to Great and, most recently, How the Mighty fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In kicks off WBF10 on October 5 to deliver his trademark insight into not only what makes a great company, but what makes great companies (like Proctor & Gamble, GE, Johnson & Johnson, among others) avoid the pitfalls that have befallen so many "formerly great" companies...and endure; what makes a formerly great, iconic company (say, Ford Motor Co.), regroup and regain its lustre; and what makes a company on its last legs and headed for the scrap heap of history (e.g. Nucor in 1965) turn it around and achieve lasting greatness. Perhaps never has such insight been sought more than now, as companies all along the business spectrum ask, "How do we get beyond survival mode; how do we achieve greatness and leave a lasting mark?"
Can it even be done? As Collins noted in his 2008 Fortune article The Secret of Enduring Greatness, the cassandras have sounded the alarm for the "20th Century, American idea" of creating great, enduring companies. Globalization, fragmentation, segmentation, obsolescence, the magnets of hubris, complacency and decline....you name it, they all conspire against companies. But Collins teaches that the best companies use adverse times to their advantage. Is there a better example of this than what Apple has managed, especially, during the past three years? With new iterations of the iphone and the advent of ipad, you would never know there was even an economic hiccup, let alone a meltdown. And Apple had been down before, way down. Whether it is on the path to enduring greatness, only time and its own efforts will tell. In that vein, Collins insists that "Companies do not fall primarily because of what the world does to them or because of how the world changes around them; they fall first and foremost because of what they do to themselves." He points to Ames and Walmart as prime examples of companies with nearly identical businesses ending up in two vastly different places (Ames is gone, Walmart is Walmart) because of what they did for and to themselves, not because of how the world was. For you, the issue is how to be a Walmart (or an Apple) amidst the Ameses--to be great where others are not:
Collins will further the conversation at WBF10, touching on the following:
WBF10 starts one week from today.
One of the subjects he will address when he appears at WBF10 is the alluringly titled "Why Followers Matter More than You Think." That suggests that the leader/follower relationship is more chicken and egg than we traditionally think. We talk of successful leaders as "natural born," "self-made," "driven" and "brilliant," among other adjectives. But we don't talk about the followers of a great leader--they must possess some pretty admirable qualities of their own, to have selected the great leader to follow. The leader/follower relationship is symbiotic--look at a sports team that is mediocre under one manager and successful under another. The talent of the players is the same, and to the naked eye, only the leader has changed. But is that really true? Is there something about matching a particular leader with the right group of followers? Or do leaders inevitably reflect their followers? On that sports team, do the players think, "Hey they got rid of the manager this time, but next time they might come for me...I should do something above and beyond to make this team better." Does that create an environment where leadership can better thrive?
Writing late last year about a recent/current "deficit of leadership," which he will also address at WBF10, he suggested that the problem of leadership (and while he was talking of government leaders, it can apply to business, as well), he worried, "that the leadership deficit now seems so chronic suggests that the problem
goes deeper than the quality of the individuals who come to power. There
is something in the culture that makes leadership even tougher and more
perilous than it should be." He went on to quote Thomas Jefferson:
Why, asked Thomas Jefferson, did the American Revolution create a budding democracy while the French Revolution—coming at virtually the same time and with similar values—ended in tyranny? The answer, he thought, could be traced as much to the quality of the followers as to that of the leaders: American citizens were more accustomed than the French to responsible self-government.
Is there a clear intimation there that when we rely too much on our leaders to do for us that which we should do for ourselves, we end up with leaders who are of the same mindset? To paraphrase the old saw, "you get the leadership you are." Gergen uses these premises to suggest what organizations can do to improve the quality of their own leadership.
Gergen will close Day One of WBF10, appropriately enough, following everyone else.
But take a step back, and think about the process you're going through. Remember how long it took for eCommerce to take off? The zeitgeist had to catch up with itself. Back in 1999, start-up upon start-up assured investors that eProfits were right around the corner. Most of those start-ups went the way of Boo.com and Geocities. When the panic set in, Amazon's stock plummeted along with the rest. But look at Amazon today. Exactly what the seers predicted came about, and today, just ten years later, Amazon and scads of other survivors are a seamless part of the economic fabric and marketplace. Shopping online isn't even special anymore. The question you're asking is whether the social media revolution will play out the same way. When will your social media strategy turn into social commerce and justify the resources you're pouring into it?Charlene Li thinks about this question on a regular basis. That's why we invited the Founder of Altimeter Group and resident of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People 2010 list to speak at World Business Forum 2010. Li knows everyone is desperate to figure out how to make a buck off social media. But she isn't afraid of the process--she revels in it. The author of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Change the Way You Lead contends that to become as ubiquitous as simple eCommerce, social commerce must pass through four phases that constitute the The Rise of Social Media:
So while there may be no definitive answer as to when your social media strategy will pay off, you have to be a little Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams about it (or more in the real world, a little Jeff Bezos). If you build it, they will come, eventually. As it was ten years ago, the zeitgeist has to catch up with itself.
People (and organizations) use underwhelming force to try and solve overwhelming, internal behavioral problems. Why? Well, behavioral issues are the stuff of psychology not business school and management training. But when business is weighed down by non-core business issues, like "the culture," the long-term effects can be just as deleterious as declining revenue. But rather than developing the skills to deal with such problems, leaders often try solution A and solution B, and when neither works (or either offers a temporary respite from the problem), wash their hands of the problem. And when you tinker at the edges of a problem with isolated and inadequate tools, you get no solution and a bigger problem. Leaders of businesses large and small often follow this path and find (non)results and festering issues. But what if, presented with a problem, leaders tried proven solutions A, B, C, D and, if necessary, D and E, as well? What's more, what if leaders tried at least four of them, and even all six, in concert?
When it comes to leadership's ability to influence change in employee behavior, WBF10 speaker (and author of best-seller Influencer: The Power to Change Anything) Joseph Grenny comes out on the side of the latter option. Grenny developed "the six sources of influence" that can change human behavior, and suggests you need to use four or more to achieve meaningful results. When leaders use the right force to address behavioral problems, there is never a need to wash their hands of the issues because the issues are resolved, leading to enhanced business performance. Grenny explained the sources of influence in this exclusive HSM interview, and emphasized their results:
[W]e have studied over a thousand organizations and their attempts to bring about change. This very broad systematic strategy showed differences of an order of magnitude of 1000% when organizations started to employ all six sources of influence. These aren't marginal differences that made some incremental change. The six sources of influence describe the physics of change. If you are not using all of these elements you shouldn’t expect to see real significant behavior change occur.
And speaking of washing hands, the viral video sensation "All Washed Up," featuring Grenny's teenaged son, is worth a watch. In it, the 14-year old puts the sources of influence to the test using a most precocious crowd.
We've been spending the better part of two-and-half years now trying to figure out "what went wrong" in the economy and who is to blame. Was it the banks? No, it was the regulators. Yeah, but no, it was individuals buying more house than they could afford and then sucking out what equity they had. Back to the regulators. Yeah, but it was the predatory lenders. No it was the securitiazations that encouraged them. Back to the regulators. And around and around and around. Now comes 2001 Nobel Prize recipient in economics Joseph Stiglitz to tell us that "the economics profession bears more than a little culpability. It provided the models that gave comfort to regulators that markets could be self-regulated; that they were efficient and self-correcting."
Phew, not that that's settled. We can move on; it wasn't out fault. But seriously, "It is hard for non-economists to understand how peculiar the predominant macroeconomic models were." If in hindsight, he is correct, and if you had been basing your decisions, whether consciously or subconsciously on these models, well, then it was only a matter of time before everything went into the toilet. For Stiglitz, then, "not only is our economy in a shambles but so too is the economic paradigm that predominated in the years before the crisis – or at least it should be." Time and experience will tell if Stiglitz is right, but he expanded on this point of view at the Institute for New Economic Thinking's inaugural conference, and if you have 43 minutes to spare, check it out:
Stiglitz thinks the future needs some serious rethinking, and he definitely falls into the global coordination camp, which is still a difficult row for U.S.-centric business thinkers to hoe. But global is the way the wind is blowing (the release of the Basel III capital requirements is today's example), so you have to consider Stiglitz's views. That's why we asked him to join WBF10 on October 6 for a broad examination of the promise and pitfalls of globalization and to peer into his crystal ball to discuss a new agenda for a changing economic and financial landscape. More heady stuff, including the global economy in the aftermath; globalization and its multiple dimensions; and how to successfully leverage national competitive advantages, which encompasses his comprehensive agenda to promote development. Regardless of your view on globalized agendas, oyu have to listen.