The Power of Sharing

The Power of Sharing

In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn from him. - Ralph Waldo Emerson In this age of social networking the concept of sharing has become extremely commonplace, but I'm not sure we have improved the value we create through sharing as opposed to increasing the noise through which we have to wade to learn something new and valuable.Each of us has our own strengths, areas of unique knowledge, and body of knowledge that the world can learn from. Our experiences, while uniquely personal, bring us a perspective that nobody else in the world has or could articulate the learnings of. Like a kaleidoscope we each see the same world through slightly different lenses that have been shaped and coloured by our own unique experiences.With new mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (and a host of other emerging platforms for social networking) people have been empowered to share their experiences broadly,...
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Are You Running in Circles?

Are You Running in Circles?

Over the past few weeks I've been involved in a number of situations where urgent requests have been made of people and teams, and they have diligently run off at pace to deliver an appropriate response only to discover (days and weeks later) that their interpretation of the request wasn't correct, or worse yet to come back together as a team to discover that big pieces of the request have been missed completely.Time and effort were lost because:People failed to clarify the request and ensure that everyone (requestor and requestee) were on the same page in terms of what needed to be delivered; and Teams failed to review the request, identify the deliverables clearly, and assign clear ownership and timelines to each piece of the puzzle to ensure that things got done.A colleague likened it to a firework - a senior executive makes a high level request and expresses urgency but may not provide the level of clarity the team needs...
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Dare to Disagree

Dare to Disagree

After a discussion with a colleague yesterday on the topic of politics and the power of disagreement and free voices he referred me to a great recent TED talk from Margaret Heffernan called Dare to Disagree (below).  This is exactly the sentiment I was trying to convey in my post yesterday on Walking the Fence.Disagreement is a powerful tool for progress in your organization.  As a leader you need to be constantly conscious of whether you are encouraging healthy discourse and dissenting opinions or whether you are stifling the voices that might help you avoid a catastrophe (a la the Challenger disaster).Margaret's talk is below:...
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Walking the Fence

Walking the Fence

When I was working for myself and leading a small company things were much easier.  The 60 hour work-weeks, lack of vacation time, and total consumption in the work and building of the company were hard, but in a small company in a leadership position you never had to worry about what you said or did because your job was to drive hard and fast, make hard decisions, and move forward.In general the people who join small companies are similar minded - they get that driving hard means sometimes working with ambiguous information, making hard decisions quickly, and being up front with communication.  Feedback from fellow employees and the market wasn't always easy to hear, but it was at least direct and actionable.When you move into many bigger organizations you find something new pops up that you need to manage that has nothing to do with profit and loss, market share, or growing your business, but has everything to do...
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Why are you Here… and What are you going to DO about it?

Why are you Here… and What are you going to DO about it?

Over the past few months I've come across some very valuable thinking and ideas that have made me examine a great deal of how I approach my life and work, and I've been struggling a bit to pull the ideas together into a coherent and meaningful framework.  This is my attempt to summarize and bring clarity to those thoughts.The first source of inspiration that triggered some of this thinking was a TED talk from Simon Sinek where he outlined the concept of the "Golden Circles", an assertion that we naturally work first to define What we do, then examine How we do it, and finally (if we have time) we look at Why we are doing it. Simon's assertion is that our natural tendencies, while rooted in the science of the brain, are fundamentally backwards. The first question we should be asking ourselves is Why?Shortly after seeing Simon's talk I was on a one week leadership training course and I had an opportunity to...
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The Importance of Book Ends

The Importance of Book Ends

Take a look at your book shelf.  You might have a nice built-in bookcase, an IKEA Billy case, or perhaps an open shelf on the wall, but any of them will do.  Now imagine that your book shelf didn't have any sides or book ends... how easy do you think it would be to keep your library of business and professional development books upright and organized on your shelf?  So if the book ends are so critical to maintaining order and keeping your books contained why do so many of us not recognize the same importance of book ends in our own lives?Think about a typical day in your life.  If you're like most people I know it goes something like this:06:00 Wake up 06:15 Eat breakfast 06:30 Shower and dress 07:00 Get kids dressed and ready for school 07:15 Walk the dog 07:30 Take the kids to school 08:00 Arrive at work (with coffee) 08:15 Start processing Inbox 08:30 Start of meeting schedule 10:15 Check in on your Inbox 10:30 More meetings 12:30 Grab a soup...
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Where Are You Going?

Where Are You Going?

There's an old saying that failing to plan is planning to fail.  It holds true as much today as it ever has, but I've been thinking about it a bit lately and the more I think about it the more I think there is something missing from this sage advice.  Planning is critical... as long as you know where you're going.Consider two people who are planning a trip.  The first has clear goals in mind - to visit New York City and while there to take in some key sights including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, and a musical on broadway.  The second isn't quite sure where they are going, but they're determined to go somewhere for a four day getaway.Now if they both just set to planning I am certain that their outcomes will be significantly different.The first person will carefully plan their excursions, buy tickets to the musical of their choice before arriving, ensure they are booked on...
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Loss Aversion and the Importance of Changing Your Lens

Loss Aversion and the Importance of Changing Your Lens

There is a concept called Loss Aversion that suggests that we hate losing exactly twice as much as we love winning.  That concept drives our behaviour in predictable ways and is a key driver for our aversion to failure in our work.  For that same reason I think it is twice as important to focus on areas of challenge with the right lens in order to accept our failures early and maximize our potential for success long term.In the late 1970's there was a study done by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky that demonstrates the loss aversion phenomenon.In the first experiment they asked students to choose between two bets:a bet with 100% chance of winning $3,000 a bet  with an 80% chance of winning $4,000 and a 20% chance of winning nothingIn this experiment they found that 80% of the students would choose the $3,000 bet even though the second bet had a higher expected payoff.  (Bet 1 expected payoff...
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This Makes You… Think?

This Makes You… Think?

I came across this graffiti painted on the back wall of a building at Yonge and Greenfield in Toronto and I was drawn to it instantly.  Most tagging mostly makes me angry at the gall of people who violate the property rights of others, but this one was different - it had a message.If you can't read it clearly in the picture, the tag reads:THIS MAKES YOU...(  ) ANGRY (  ) UPSET ($) THINKI've shown this to a few people and I find it interesting the mix of reactions I've received ranging from "Yah so?" to "Wow that's deep", but I wanted to share my thoughts on it as it relates to the business world.So often in our work lives we do things the right way - we do things to be respectful of others opinions, to not rock the boat, to keep our heads down and to hold true to what we think people expect of us.And then one day you'll run across...
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The Power of Radical Goals

The Power of Radical Goals

How do you set goals in your organization today?  Surely by now we all define our goals according to the guidelines of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely), so everythings great right?What if I told you that SMART goals are self-limiting?  What if I told you that if you insist on defining SMART goals that your business will not achieve its potential and is at risk of being disrupted?Heresy right?Let me explain.Under conventional wisdom, we spend lots of time defining goals that we believe are 'stretch' goals, but that we are certain are attainable if our team achieves their potential.  We define specific measures, set the bar at what seems like realistic and attainable heights (but just far out enough as to require us to perform at a high level to attain them), and then we set our team free to deliver on those goals.Think of the types of goals you set for your teams today:  achieve year-over-year sales growth of 10%;...
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