Friday 25 August 2023



  1.            Rig up a watering system


Keep pot plants alive while you’re on holiday with this ingenious set-up. Take a discarded plastic bottle, pierce the cap with the tip of a sharp knife and stick a cotton bud through the hole. Fill the bottle with water, replace the lid, tape a skewer or small bamboo cane to the side of the bottle so it extends about 20cm beyond the lid, and turn the whole thing upside down (a hole in the base of the bottle will help the water flow). Poke the skewer into the soil at the base of a potted plant and the water will slowly drip down the cotton bud, keeping your plant babies going until you get back.

  1.          Clean your computer screen


Use a damp teabag to clean a smudged or dusty computer screen. Dip the bag in a cup of cold water (or redip a used one from your morning brew), rub it all over the screen and then polish with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. This trick also works well on mirrors.

   1. Freshen up the microwave


Lemon is the best way to deal with a grimy, greasy or sticky microwave. Squeeze a lemon into a microwave-safe bowl and add the shell (the outer skin of the lemon), or, if you’ve used the lemon juice for cooking, just put the empty shell in the microwave with some water. Zap for five minutes, leave to stand, door closed, for 10 minutes, and then open and wipe down. The lemon water can go down the loo, where it can help reduce limescale.

Tackle bad smells

Bicarbonate of soda is an excellent neutraliser: it can remove the smell of urine (a side-effect of both pets and toddlers) from a fabric armchair that would otherwise be very hard to wash. (Also known as baking soda, bicarb or sodium bicarbonate, it should not be confused with baking powder, which although also a leavening agent for baked goods, won’t do the same job on smells.) It also works on stinky shoes, rugs and carpets, says YouTuber Melissa Maker on her 2-million-subscriber Clean My Space channel; she uses a sieve to sift it evenly over her uncovered mattress to keep it smelling fresh. Dust generously all over whatever needs refreshing, leave for four hours or overnight, and then vacuum off larger items, wipe off or shake out.

  1.           Clean almost anything with vinegar

If your fridge really, really pongs, bicarb won’t do the trick, but a good clean with vinegar will (I use it everywhere). Dilute distilled white vinegar 50:50 with water. Add a few drops of essential oil or vanilla extract if the smell of vinegar offends you (it fades quickly), and spritz then wipe everywhere inside the fridge. Use the same spray on glass and most kitchen surfaces (be careful with wood, marble or stone) and the inside of food-waste bins. Soaking mop heads, mouldy-smelling towels or damp clothes that you’ve accidentally left in the washing machine for two days in dilute vinegar will make them fresh again. Or, says cleaning guru and podcaster Caroline Solomon (Neat Caroline), add a cupful to the washing machine before running it with detergent to soften laundry and brighten whites.

You can also remove limescale from shower heads and taps with neat vinegar in a zip-lock bag secured with rubber bands and left to soak (you need to do this regularly – it is not going to work on two years of buildup).

  1.           Rescue burnt pans

Remove stuck or burnt food from metal pots and trays by placing on the hob over a medium heat and adding boiling water – Add vinegar and sliced lemons, but water works just as well if that combo is too punchy on the nose. Bring to a simmer, soften the burnt bits, then scrape them off with a spatula. Cool, then wash as normal; Or use a paste made from lemon juice, vinegar and bicarb to scrub oven racks.

Thursday 24 August 2023



How to Win in a Highly Competitive Dynamic Market

The global recession appears to be receding, but it is has not taken with it outdated modes of work.We are still working in anachronistic hierarchical ways, which is detrimental for our mental faculties, our physical health and our relationships. We still keep score, assess rank and react to changes in others' status. If this fixation with hierarchical working does not change,there will be no hope or future for collaborative enterprises.

Having said that, it is still possible to work in hierarchies in non-hierarchical ways. You need to take initiatives and dream up innovations regardless of the stagnant outlook up the hierarchical ladder. You need to be self motivated, regardless of the way colleagues and managers may seem addicted to external motivators. Question authority and function with autonomy even if others are dependent on the command and control of higher-ups. While this non-hierarchical, even heretical way of working may get you into trouble and exclude you from promotions on occasion, more often than not, it provides you with additional opportunities, accomplishments and personal satisfaction.

A study by the National Institutes of Health in 2008 has identified four patterns, which can eventually become a passing phase of further personal development:

¤ Unmet dependency needs: We remain dependent on those who seem bigger than us and more powerful, like parents in our younger days. We hope to get much-needed approval, recognition and validation from these authority figures. Hierarchies provide big dads or big moms at the top of the pyramid.

¤ Living in the past: Unresolved issues make our past history seem very important to us. We treasure reminders of poignant memories, traditions and rituals. We take comfort in legacy procedures, unchanging policies and routines which hierarchies enforce.

¤ Symbolic gratification: We need to prove to others and convince ourselves that we're powerful, confident and worthy of respect. We overcompensate with very showy packages. We accumulate big things as indisputable proof. Hierarchies meet this need with big benefits, big paychecks and responsibilities for the higher ups.

¤ Over-thinking conflicted issues: We idealize our rationality and over-think any issue with emotional components. Hierarchies march these inclinations with excessive meetings, policy manuals and procedural compliance.

For either collaborative enterprises or lower cost/higher quality higher education to function effectively, the participants need to be able to:

  • Self-structure their activity, take initiative and make adjustments to our conduct based on outcomes and other kinds of feedback.
  • Take satisfaction in their processes and outcomes without getting formally evaluated, rated or scored.
  • Get creative when faced with symptoms of deeper problems, complex system dynamics or dilemmas that defy problem solving.
  • Collaborate with others who are valued for their diversity, consulted for their unique outlooks and treated as equals.

While working in hierarchical ways, we cannot meet any of these four prerequisites:

  • We cannot structure our own activities but we can comply with orders, wait to be told what to do and hide behind our job descriptions.
  • We cannot feel intrinsically rewarded but we can get motivated by how we rank, fit in and compete with others.
  • We cannot get creative but we can give lip service to the need for action and make a show of handling the problem with a lot of busywork.
  • We cannot collaborate with others, but we can envy their successes, demonize their differences and dismiss commonalities with them.

Another study on the same subject by Tom Haskins this year (2011), posted on his blog says, “When working in hierarchical ways can be framed as a passing phase in personal development, trauma or angst from each individual's troubled past would need to be healed. Sore points would then lose their sensitivity, while thorny issues would get resolved. By renewing his/her mind, each could then be free to work in non-hierarchical ways. The propensity to work in hierarchical ways could fall into disuse.”

That brings us to the raging issue of disrupted markets. A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is an innovation that disrupts an existing market. Contrary to initial impression, the term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers. The term ‘disruptive technology’ was coined by Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business Professor and celebrated author, in 1995.

In 2003, the term disruptive technology replaced disruptive innovation because few technologies are intrinsically disruptive or sustaining in character. ‘Disruptive Innovation’ was then defined as “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market’, eventually displacing established competitors.”

It is the strategy or business model that technology enables that creates the disruptive impact. The concept of disruptive technology continues a trait of the identification of radical change in the study of innovation by economists, and development of tools for its management at a firm or policy level. However, evolution from a technological focus to a business modelling focus is central to understanding the evolution of business at the market or industry level.

“Disruptive innovations were technologically straightforward, consisting of off- the-shelf components put together in a product architecture often simpler than prior approaches. They offered less of what customers in established markets wanted and so could rarely be initially employed there. They offered a different package of attributes valued only in emerging markets remote from, and unimportant to, the mainstream." (Christensen 1997)

Disruptive innovations can hurt successful, well managed companies that are responsive to their customers and have excellent R&D. These companies tend to ignore the markets most susceptible to disruptive innovations, because the markets have very tight profit margins and are too small to represent significant growth. There are two types of disruption: "Low-end which targets customers who do not need the valued customers at the high end of the market and "New-market disruption" which targets customers who have needs that were previously not served by existing incumbents.

Low-end Disruption : "Low-end disruption"occurs when the rate at which products improve exceeds the rate at which customers can adopt the new performance. Therefore, at some point, the performance of the product overshoots the needs of certain customer segments. At this point, a disruptive technology may enter the market and provide a product which has lower performance than the incumbent but which exceeds the requirements of certain segments, thereby gaining a foothold in the market.

In low-end disruption, the disruptor is focussed initially on serving the least profitable customer, who is happy with a good enough product. This type of customer is not willing to pay a premium for enhancements in functionality. Once the disruptor gains a foot hold in this customer segment, it seeks to improve its profit margin. To get higher profit margins, the disruptor needs to find where the customer is willing to pay a little more for higher quality: ergo, the disruptor needs to innovate. The incumbent will move out of the not so profitable segment, and will move up-market and focus on its more attractive customers. After a number of such encounters, the incumbent is squeezed into smaller markets than it was previously serving. And then finally the disruptive technology meets the demands of the most profitable segment and drives the established company out of the market (Christensen, 2003).

New market disruption: "New market disruption" occurs when a product fits a new or emerging market segment that is not being served by existing incumbents in the industry.

How Low-end Disruption Occurs Over Time 

New Market Disruption: "New market disruption" occurs when a product fits a new or emerging market segment that is not being served by existing incumbents in the industry.

Business Implications

Disruptive technologies are not always disruptive to customers, and often take a long time before they are significantly disruptive to established companies. They are often difficult to recognize. As studies have shown, it is often entirely rational for incumbent companies to ignore disruptive innovations, since they compare so badly with existing technologies or products, and the deceptively small market available for a disruptive innovation is often very small compared to the market for the established technology.

Even if a disruptive innovation is recognized, existing businesses are often reluctant to take advantage of it, since it would involve competing with their existing (and more profitable) technological approach. Existing firms watch for these innovations, invest in small firms that might adopt these innovations, and continue to push technological demands in their core market so that performance stays above what disruptive technologies can achieve.

Disruptive technologies, too, can be subtly disruptive, rather than prominently so. Examples include digital photography (the sharp decline in consumer demand for common 35 mm print film has had a deleterious effect on free-riders such as slide and infrared film stocks, which are now more expensive to produce) and IP/Internet telephony, where the replacement technology does not, and sometimes cannot practically replace all of the non-obvious attributes of the older system (sustained operation through municipal power outages, national security priority access, the higher degree of obviousness that the service may be life-safety critical or deserving of higher restoration priority in catastrophes, etc).

An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new breed of consumers access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with lots of money or skill. Characteristics of disruptive businesses, at least in their initial stages, can include: lower gross margins, smaller target markets, and simpler products and services that may not appear as attractive as existing solutions when compared against traditional performance metrics.

So why not make use of disruptive innovation to transform your company? 


Disrupted market


Downloadable Digital Media

  CDs, DVDs

In the 1990s, the music industry was filled by peer-to- peer file sharing technologies, which were initially free, and then by online retailers such as the iTunes music store and This low end disruption eventually undermined the sales of physical, high-cost CDs.

Personal computers

Minicomputers, Workstations. Word processors, Lisp machines

The market for main frames and mini-computers was seriously disrupted by personal computers, which, by the mid-1980s had improved exponentially and could compete directly with the more expensive machines

Digital Photography

 Chemical     Photography

The convenience of small memory cards and portable hard drives that hold hundreds or thousands of pictures, as well as the lack of the need to develop these pictures saw the virtual demise of the latter.


Radiography (X-ray imaging)

Ultrasound technology is disruptive relative to X-rayimaging. Ultrasound was a new-market disruption.

Digital synthesizer

Electronic organ and piano

Today's synthesizers feature many automated functions and have replaced the latter.

Corporate Transformation and Change Management

Some companies succeed. They adapt to changing circumstances, and they remain relevant and vital. Their people manage change, compete and win. Other companies struggle and stagnate. They adopt fashionable approaches. They buy the latest technologies. They introduce generic or re-engineered processes, and they are advised by leading professional firms. Yet they still fail. Why? What are these people overlooking or doing wrong? What do the winners do differently?

Research teams have examined key processes such as those for winning business, building relationships and creating and exploiting knowledge. The outcomes achieved by survey participants are ranked from the most to the least successful, and the approaches of the ‘winners’ or most successful are compared with the ‘losers’ or least successful to isolate the factors that make a difference. The results summarized in: ‘Transforming the Company, Manage Change, Compete and Win’ (Coulson-Thomas, 2002), suggest most of the critical success factors are attitudinal and behavioral. Encouragingly, there is enormous scope for improvement. Typically, even the most successful companies are only very effective at less than a half of the critical success factors.

This suggests there is enormous scope for improving the performance of key processes. Let’s look at some overall differences between the behaviors of those in key positions who fail and succeed respectively at bringing about a fundamental transformation of their organizations.

First, we will examine the losers. They are indecisive and oblivious to the needs of others. They are cautious, wary of commitments and fail to inspire and motivate. They are also reactive. They respond to events and often fail to anticipate the need to change. Losers are indifferently led. Boards confuse operational and strategic issues. They offer bland rhetoric and spin rather than a compelling vision and clear direction. When they do act it is often in peripheral areas. They overlook what is important and the biggest opportunities for performance improvement.

Losers hoard information. They are reluctant to delegate and trust. Although driven by their own agendas they often end up playing other people’s games. They adopt standard approaches and are rigid and inflexible. They imitate and copy others rather than think for themselves. Losers are great talkers. They mouth generalizations and confuse activity with progress. They are complacent, secretive and defensive. They try to do everything themselves and they resist new and external ideas.

Individual needs are not addressed. Immediate priorities take precedence over longer- term aims. A combination of attitudes, approaches and priorities locks change losers into a negative spiral of decline towards commodity product supplier status.

Now, on to winners. Winners in the challenge to change, transform and re-invent are very different. They recognise that change can be stressful and can disrupt valued relationships. They only alter what they need to change. Those affected are told why change is necessary. Winners have a longer-term perspective. They become trusted business partners by enhancing their capabilities, deepening relationships, developing additional options and remaining relevant. Winners are confident, positive and pro-active. They articulate compelling and distinctive visions. They build and release talent. They equip their people to make whatever changes need to be brought about.

Winners explore, pioneer and discover. They encourage enterprise and innovation. They trust other people, and share information and opportunities with them where this is likely to prove mutually beneficial. Winners address the specific realities and practicalities of what they need to do to manage change. They inspire and motivate. They avoid wasted effort and concentrate upon the areas of greatest opportunity. They understand their customers and put themselves out to develop tailored responses to their requirements and bespoke offerings.

While open to ideas, winners select people, business partners and opportunities with care. They are persistent but pragmatic, and determined but adaptable in pursuit of their aims. They take calculated risks, experiment with new ways of working and learning, and create new knowledge, options and choices. Winners value relationships. They empathise and invite feedback. They question and challenge, and listen and learn. They collaborate with complementary spirits who share their vision and values. They enter partnering arrangements based upon openness and transparency.

The boards of change winners are competent and confident. They avoid the distractions of trappings. They inspire, enable and support growth, development and transformation. They cut through blather and hype to get down to the fundamentals of what needs to be done. Winners prefer simple solutions and direct action. They think before they act, push back the boundaries of what is possible and become sought after business partners. Effective change managers avoid diversions, panaceas and single solutions. They focus on activities that deliver the results they seek.




Recognise that change can be stressful

Oblivious to the needs of others

Know change can disrupt valued relationships

Cautious, wary of commitments

Alter what they need to change

Fail to anticipate the need to change

Longer-term perspective

Indifferently led

Trusted business partners

Confused operational and strategic issues

Enhance their capabilities

Offer bland rhetoric and spin rather than a

compelling vision and clear direction

Deepen relationships, develop additional options and remain relevant

Act in peripheral areas

Confident, positive and pro-active

Overlook important and biggest opportunities for performance improvement

Compelling and distinctive visions

Hoard information

Build and release talent

Reluctant to delegate and trust

Explore, pioneer and discover

Adopt standard approaches

Encourage enterprise and innovation

Rigid and inflexible

Trust other people; share information and opportunities

Imitate and copy, are great talkers

Address specific realities and practicalities

Mouth generalisations

Inspire and motivate

Confuse activity with progress

Concentrate on areas of greatest opportunity

Complacent, secretive and defensive

Understand their customers

Resist new and external ideas

Develop tailored responses

Individual needs are not addressed

Select people, business partners and opportunities with care

Immediate priorities take precedence over longer term aims

Persistent but pragmatic; determined but adaptable

Wrong combination of attitudes, approaches and priorities

Create new knowledge, options and choices

Enter negative spiral of decline

Value relationships; empathise and invite feedback


Collaborate with complementary spirits

Competent and confident

Inspire, enable and support growth, development and transformation

Get down to the fundamentals

Simple solutions and direct action

Think before they act

Become sought after business partners

Avoid diversions, panaceas and single solutions                                                         Focus on activities that deliver

William Taylor, author of “Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself”, covers some of these points in a section called ‘Questions Every Game Changer Must Answer.’

Change, renewal and transformation should be regarded as normal activities. Work with colleagues to foster winning attitudes and behaviors, and ensure a balance between change strategy and capability. All pieces of the jigsaw puzzle required for successful transformation and sustained competitiveness should be in place. Check that colleagues are clear about what they are trying to achieve and are visibly committed to agreed objectives. Make sure that people understand what they need to do and are enabled to act. Ensure barriers to change are identified and tackled. Problems will arise. Their absence indicates a lack of ambition. Learning from them and celebrating success help to sustain momentum (Coulson-Thomas, 2004).

Jonathan D. Day and Michael Jung write that corporate transformation can be managed without a crisis. The art of leading deep corporate change can be learned. The trick is to help each member of the company discover a new reality. Let’s amplify this concept………….

Like individuals, organizations change continuously, reacting to developments in their markets and to the arrival and departure of key people. In a large company, these changes go on more or less unnoticed. But sometimes a company must change more quickly than this gradual evolution allows; it needs a break with the past, an accelerated pace of change, a transformation.

Successful corporate transformations and their leaders, Lou Gerstner at IBM, Ferdinand Piëch at Audi and Vikram Pandit at Citibank have become business legends. Transformed companies have achieved unprecedented competitive power, a pride in everything they undertake, and outsized returns to shareholders. What chief executive officer wouldn’t want all of these things?

Strangely, it is the leaders of companies in crisis who may be best placed to achieve a true transformation. David Simon and John Browne could transform British Petroleum from one of Britain’s weakest industrials into one of its strongest because the company faced imminent ruin. Steve Jobs rescued Apple Computer from collapse. By contrast, most transformations undertaken in non-crisis conditions end up failing: employees attitudes and behavior remain unchanged, ambitious targets slip downward, and the program is finally abandoned, leaving the company worse off than it was before. Executives are justifiably reluctant to undertake transformation programs when things are going well,. They know that failure to act may condemn the company to slow decline and eventual collapse, but they also justifiably fear the uncertain outcome of a transformation process.

The leader of such a program faces a daunting challenge: nothing less than creating a new corporate reality that changes the way employees, customers, and investors perceive and experience the company. This future reality must be so clear and impressive that it seems not only better than today’s reality but also necessary, even inevitable.

Principles Of Transformation

Can a company be transformed without first experiencing a crisis? The answer is yes if the leaders understand what makes individuals and groups transform their view of reality. The successful transformations encountered all met the four conditions described below; in every failure analyzed, at least one has been missing.

  • Everyone is both actor and observer. Transformations call for more than superficial levels of change: well-grooved habits must be questioned and discarded and new ones learned. But it is hard for people to achieve the objectivity needed to question and change their daily routine while they are still actively immersed in it.
  • Leaders and participants in a transformation must combine frenetic activity in the basement with composed observation and reflection from the penthouse. Practically, however, corporate leaders in a transformation tend to stay on the basement and increase activity. Yet the full cognitive and emotional complexity of the transformation process can be managed only when its leaders have sufficient opportunities for reflective observation. In the long run, everyone with significant involvement in the company’s transformation has to make a trip to the penthouse. 
  • The most energetic proponents of change are often naturally drawn to the penthouse: non-executive directors who share financial analysts’ point of view or new leaders recruited from outside the company largely because of their detachment. But in the absence of a crisis, this perspective is difficult for most senior managers to achieve. The pressure of day-to-day events renders detached observation a rare luxury and if it is difficult for senior managers, it is much harder for rank-and-file employees. Yet without the higher perspective, these employees will experience a transformation program as something imposed from above, and the program will fail.

Each individual crosses a threshold of conviction:

  • The impression given may be that leaders can create a compelling new reality simply by mustering the arguments in its favour with the odd trip to the penthouse to check on progress. But experience of personal learning and transformation actually suggests that this picture is incomplete. Human beings master complex new activities (heart surgery, golf, cookery) not by reading or thinking about them, but through experience. A corporate transformation too requires the rank and file to have direct, non-abstract experience, for leaders can't transfer their own through speeches, documents, and videotapes; each individual must re-create it personally. Leaders can, however, create a "disposition to experience," as we shall soon see. The process balances redundancy and control:

  • Mistakes and surprises are inevitable in a transformation process. Industries don't stand still waiting for companies to transform themselves. Champions of the process become disenchanted and leave. Often the program reveals weaknesses that the company had not anticipated. Unless a transformation program is configured to accommodate these unwelcome surprises, it can all too easily come undone in midcourse. Such a failure can be disastrous, since a company whose transformation fails before it is complete rarely tries again.

  • Anticipating the unexpected when developing the program's design and resources can make failures less likely. Objective formal reviews of progress can help leaders spot problems before they become acute. Linking the compensation of managers to the program's success makes them less likely to leave when complications arise. Launching parallel initiatives in different parts of the company increases the chance that key ideas will survive. Finally, arranging meetings where people from different business units, divisions, or regions compare progress and perspectives makes it easier to identify and correct problems.

Stories of Transformations

If these are the conditions of a successful transformation, what should leaders do to create them? To help individuals cross their threshold of conviction, the leaders must provide a "screenplay" for the drama to come; a story showing why the company must transform itself, where it is heading, and how it will get there. The story must be so convincing and vivid that its readers will want to help it come true. Effectively framed, such a story can help people strengthen their conviction and start experiencing "the new world" even before it arrives.

A transformation born of crisis writes its own story. Before a crisis hits, it is much harder to create an authentic story explaining why a company should transform itself. Nonetheless, even if a transformation isn't driven by a crisis, it is important to clarify and record the story. Giving it this formal embodiment forces the top leadership of a company to think it through and ensures that its central elements will remain similar no matter who is actually telling it. Authenticity and directness are far more important to a story than fine prose or clever visuals.

Why does the company need this?

  • Where is the company heading?

This phase, which calls for true creativity, outlines the company's future and makes it so convincing that it seems destined to happen. Many companies derive their "destiny" from the triumphs of other companies and from known facts: surveys, benchmarks, best practices. Such companies assemble their future piece by piece. But in our experience, a future that merely imitates what others have achieved, no matter how great their results, rarely inspires employees. Instead, the company needs a genuinely new and superior idea for a product, a quality standard, a technology, or a managerial model. Such ideas vary from company to company, but in all cases they must be capable of giving it a decisive competitive superiority. Of course, companies can learn from their competitors. Nonetheless, the ideas that drive a transformation always move beyond what others know.

Almost always, the story of a transformation acknowledges the events that triggered it: the company must take drastic action because its financial position is weak, say, or because the competition has gained in power, or because technology has revolutionized the industry. But these are often only symptoms of deeper problems. If the transformation process is to address those problems, they too must be included in the story, which must explain why and how the financial situation became weak, the competition gained strength, or the new technology blindsided the company. Such brutal honesty is difficult and therefore rare, for it leads to awkward questions about the company's previous decisions and current leaders. But a shared understanding of the actual cause of the current state of affairs is essential to a transformation. Putting hard truths on the table makes some people uncomfortable, but avoiding those truths puts success at risk.

  • How can the company reach its goal? 

How can the company use the diagnosis of the first chapter and the new idea of the second to transform itself? There are many technical details to spell out concerning tasks, phases, timing, and responsibility. But while detail is important, it is not sufficient to answer the question of how the company will achieve its goals. Transformational learning comes, ultimately, from personal experience. The leaders' experience, which should be embedded in the story, must be internalized within every participant in the process. Each participant must undergo an "identity transition." Although orchestrating thousands of these individual identity transitions is an enormous challenge, doing so will make the process of change self- sustaining. Once individuals begin to experience the early realities created by the transformation story, they will often try to do what it takes to complete it of their own volition.

Making It Real

Getting thousands of people to move across that threshold of initial experience is by far the hardest task facing a management team that leads a corporate transformation. Many situations have been observed in which a top-management group has discovered the causes of the present problems of a company and developed a convincing vision of its future. These leaders have captured that experience in a powerful transformation story and struggled to help many thousands of employees, business partners, and customers discover the logic of the transformation for themselves. After all, the company’s leaders, as already noted, cannot know or experience anything on anyone else’s behalf.

The Conundrum:

Here the leaders face a contradiction. On the one hand, identity transitions must be highly personal, arising from real-life experience. On the other, the transformation won’t succeed unless the transition is carefully choreographed from the center. Only a few people in most organizations have the stamina, ambition, and ideas to develop and communicate an effective transformation story. Only a powerful central group can guide the process through the risks and setbacks encountered during every transformation. Only central controls can prevent chaos. Ultimately, however, the transformation must proceed without central leadership. To acknowledge the need for a not-yet-existing reality is to make a conscious, free decision. The most common approach to a large-scale transformation process involves central definition and management. That approach sometimes works in a crisis. To prevent the threatened closure of a factory, its workers may well accept draconian staffing cuts. To save a company from a hostile takeover, managers may allow core businesses to be sold. But without a crisis, these prescriptive methods run into trouble, for the shared conviction that permits a company to endure setbacks and complications can’t be centrally imposed.

Are there other ways to resolve the problem? The leadership group can’t transform individuals, but it can do much to foster their readiness to accept a transformation. The leaders can remind people of past events to spur them to re-create former glories or, for that matter, to avoid former mistakes. They can encourage employees to visit other organizations to see and feel the new ways of working. And by painting a vivid picture of the future, they can give employees a feeling for a world that does not yet exist.

New Approaches

Such actions create a disposition to embrace change. But do the leaders have to be personally involved in creating this disposition? Are there other ways to encourage the focused and disciplined patterns of dialogue, thought, and action that transformation entails? Some striking cases of success suggest that there are.

St. Luke’s

  • Take the case of the highly successful UK ad agency, St. Luke’s. Each client has a specific room in the agency’s building, jointly designed by the client and St. Luke’s team. The room is filled with the collective knowledge of the client’s situation, advertising campaigns, products, and so forth. Each client room in St. Luke’s is different. The essence of the agency’s knowledge is presented on wall displays, or in electronic form, and sometimes in the furniture and colours.

  • In each case, the room captures the work of the joint agency-client team in a way that others can see and personally experience. St. Luke’s guarantees its clients 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week access to its building if they agree to enter only their own client room, which thus becomes a place where executives and line managers at many levels can experience a new corporate identity.

Johnson & Johnson

  • Despite years of success, the global heath care company Johnson & Johnson was concerned about avoiding IBM’s experience during the 1980s, when it fell from a seemingly unassailable position to near collapse.

  • So J&J’s leaders designed a process called ‘FrameworkS’ to ensure that the right questions were asked. The uppercase S in the name emphasises the importance of bringing many diverse perspectives to the leaders’ discussions; the views not just of managers but also of customers, artists, politicians, and so on, in a process that is simultaneously open and of customers, artists, politicians, and so on, in a process that is simultaneously open and directed.


Catalytic Objects

In all three cases just described and in virtually every successful transformation exercise seen, in large companies individual employees did not form a transformational outlook mainly as a result of personal interaction with the CEO. The crucial element is rather a personal experience of what we have come to call "catalytic objects," such as the St. Luke’s client room, Ford’s freely teachable points of view, and J&J’s FrameworkS conversations.

Catalytic objects are "objects" only in the sense that they can be described, deployed, and observed. Catalytic objects in different transformation programs have almost no formal similarity, but are similar in function: they help each participant in a transformation process develop a personal version of the story. Because a catalytic object can be observed and discussed, it fosters the detached perspective crucial for adaptive change. Catalytic objects serve to transfer knowledge and simultaneously make it possible to re-create experience.

Finally, catalytic objects can be centrally shaped and their development in the company centrally monitored. They provide the degree of control needed to keep a transformation process on track as well as the redundant message needed to overcome the inevitable noise and transmission failures from the executive suite to the front line.

Catalytic objects thus provide a bridge between a centrally developed transformation story and each individual’s personal experience. They allow the transformation process to ring with freedom yet simultaneously to move within boundaries set by the leadership group.

We are only beginning to learn about the best ways to construct and deploy catalytic objects, but overall confidence grows daily that they are the key to the "leadership without leadership" that is essential to a successful transformation program. Isern, Meaney and Wilson summarise these findings graphically in their report of April 2009. They also substantiate the theories and findings put forward in this paper. 

  • It’s relatively rare for transformation programs to succeed; many surveys put the success rate at less than 40 per cent. 
  • Recent research, however, underscores the fact that certain tactics promote successful outcomes. The most important tactics are setting clear and high aspirations and targets, exercising strong leadership from the top, creating an unambiguous structure for the transformation, and maintaining energy and involvement throughout the organization. Companies that used all of these tactics succeeded more than 80 per cent  of the time.

Defensive transformations (those undertaken to stem trouble) have lower success rates than progressive ones (e.g. launched to boost growth or to move from good to great performance). This finding seems to contradict the common wisdom that it is hardest to transform a company when it lacks an acute and apparent need for change. While employees are more likely to see the need for change when a company is in crisis, this advantage is outweighed by difficult circumstances. Also, many companies under pressure do not make use of proven tactics for implementing change. Instead, they tend toward secrecy and may have small groups of troubleshooters plan the transformation rather than involve the whole organisation and set clear, widely communicated aspirations and targets.

Companies using proven change tactics when they undertake defensive transformations boost their chances of success considerably (Losers, p 7).
Stephen Harner, a specialist in Japanese Corporate Affairs, lists 10 steps used in Japan:

1. Implement a style of management that makes optimum use of strengths.

2. Achieve higher value-added and accelerate the replacement of the old with the new.

3. Make dramatic progress in service industries and financial services.

4. Innovate Japanese style of corporate governance.

5. Diversify and further open recruitment practices.

6. Strategically strengthen human resources training.

7. Contribute to nurturing socially mature and internationally minded young people.

8. Contribute to society where people can work until 70.

9. Transform acts of male-oriented society to promote active role for women.

10. Develop environment for hiring foreign employees.

Getting Things Done

Strange as it may seem, customers don’t want you to be a middle-of-the-roader. They want you to have strong opinions they can relate to –and then to back up those opinions with action. Moreover, if you work like the rest in your industry, how can you hope to become leaders? Shake up your industry, be unique, experiment with freakish ideas, do things differently and tell your customers they’re dealing with some nonconformist and unique entity when they do business with you.

CEO Om Prakash Bhatt, who took over the State Bank of India in 2006 when it was foundering, remarked that “no one ever told executives the real state of the company,” so they did not see the need for change. By explaining the truth to them, Bhatt laid a foundation for a fundamental transformation. The Executives ensured that every branch manager was made aware of the internal problems and got them to display prominently the fresh initiatives being taken by the bank. He got them to also feature their plan for their longer-term transformation in a way that would produce the best results. He introduced innovations like drop-box receipts and bank drafts within fifteen minutes. He shook up the sleepy and stodgy organisation.

There are no middle roads to real commitment, and if you are not ready to fully commit to all the rigors a leader faces, you are better off sticking with your current role. For your calibration, here are some characteristics you will need as a truly committed entrepreneur:

Actively seek leadership and responsibility. Many people need the comfort of following, rather than leading. When things go wrong, it’s then easier to point to someone else as the scapegoat. As an entrepreneur, the promises anyone makes on your behalf are yours. You need to be ready to accept “the buck stops here” and make it work.

Exhibit surging raw ambition. Successful entrepreneurs are generally ambitious and confident in their abilities. They may have many ideas, some of them are more workable than others. Failure is viewed as a learning opportunity, so it’s no disaster that some ideas don’t actually get done the first time.

Minimum positive feedback required. It’s lonely at the top. If your psyche is one that needs regular positive feedback, and a commensurate paycheck, to stay motivated, you need to find a real job rather than an entrepreneurial one.

Social life is not the highest priority. If you find yourself unable to clear your head of work-related thoughts at the end of the day, that’s committed. Social relationships are important, and you do need to blank out work from time to time, but if social priorities are at the top of your list, you probably won’t enjoy the role of entrepreneur.

Comfortable with unpredictable working hours. Some people need a predictable schedule, for family reasons, or just peace of mind. Entrepreneurs need to be flexible, and assume there will be long working hours. If you are upset rather than exhilarated at the long or unpredictable schedule at your startup, you are involved but not committed.

Vacation is an interruption. Most entrepreneurs I know can’t remember the last time they had a “real” vacation (without bringing their work along). This may not be healthy, but it illustrates the level of commitment that you are competing with in the marketplace. If you insist on vacations “without checking in,” go and work for a big company that gives you a holiday allowance.

Haven’t even thought about retirement. Many people involved are working hard, but are looking forward to retirement. The committed entrepreneurs wouldn’t think of retiring, even if they made millions from the current project. They enjoy work too much to stop, and can’t wait to start their next venture.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn has his own vision of getting things moving. With LinkedIn, he created a disruption in that people were able to directly reach the best candidates rather than hoping for responses from a listing in the paper or an ad on a Web site. He says:

 ɸ  It usually takes the same amount of work to run a the small company as it does a big company (except that if you sell the small company early, the work ends sooner).

ɸ  Entrepreneurs try to build big companies that revolutionize their industry rather than create a startup they “flip” after a couple of years.

ɸ  Build a network to amplify your company — That network includes investors, advisors, employees, customers, and others.

ɸ  Plan for good luck — Sometimes entrepreneurs are surprised when something good happens, and they must take advantage of it by changing their plans.

ɸ  Maintain flexible persistence — The art is knowing when to be persistent and when to be flexible and how to blend them.”

ɸ  Pivot on key data! Know when to change!

ɸ  Maintain your aspiration but always look for good perspective on how you are doing. It is very easy for creative innovators to get caught up in their own story.

ɸ  The things a smart person learned a decade ago won’t help you now – you’re doing things that have never been done before, and the world and the competitive landscape are changing at hyper speeds.

ɸ  Do not pay too much attention to rules set by other people. Entrepreneurs are inventors.

ɸ  Entrepreneurs sometimes just make new rules.

The Hidden Key to Corporate Communication as a Shaker

Managerial problems exist aplenty; think of these concepts:

 Ø  Most companies lack sense or direction:


They just don’t think. Some companies have been engineered by people who are really smart and have great vision. To a tyro, these companies seem to have some intelligence. Don’t be fooled–they aren’t. They are simply a hashed collection of organic programs and systems. They are fallible, and need human direction as much as we need nourishment to survive.

Companies only exist due to the actions of humans. Somehow, we forgot this somewhere along the way, and our belief in the company has led us astray. Some companies believe they can even act beyond the laws that apply to us as individuals. Ethics and morality often take a back seat to profit and competition.

The key issue here is in how this misdirection has lead us to sometimes do things that don’t feel right. We are missing something by trying to second guess our real impulses. For example, we are all very concerned with being “professional”. Corporate life loves professionalism. The fear is that this layer of conduct inhibits us from really communicating–it keeps a layer of decorum between us and our peers. Strip away any construct which limits us from saying what matters.

Ø  Forget the company, sell to the people:

Do your desks build relationships with your clients? Of course not, they are only tools. They are not so different from your ads, email newsletters, and web efforts. You can’t expect objects or constructs to take the place of sincere human communication. Without attaching a human voice and real meaning to those devices, they are left as dead as their base materials.

A few companies dwelt on their marketing efforts. The comment went something like this, “We’re dealing with businesses, and we have to keep that in mind.” That begs the question, “Isn’t it a person who will actually sign the purchase order?” You aren’t selling to a company. You are selling to a human, and they respond like humans. So, isn’t it likely that if you make meaningful contact with a person within a company, you will actually have a better chance of doing business with that company?

You can’t apply a blanket generalisation to the people in these companies. Instead, you have to get out there and talk to people, learn about them, understand their challenges and fears. If you can gather even a bit of this information, you will inadvertently build relationships with your clients.

Ø  People are emotional:

Whether we are considering fictitious characters like Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, or pseudo-fictitious individuals such as Wayne Johnson, business culture seems to laud those stony icons of industry, who rigidly make only the right decisions. They arrive at their conclusions through calculation and dispassionate logic. They aim to never become emotional, seeing this trait as a kind of weakness. This is a myth.

Passion motivates great advances. Anger and frustration inspire innovation. Love helps us forget discomfort, and do things beyond our preconceived notions about ourselves. Emotions are good, logic is great. You always require rational thinkers around you to ensure that you are progressing as intended. Let’s just not forget that many good things come from messy human emotions. See your emotions as qualities that tune you in to your audience and help you build connections. Business is personal.

     Ø It’s not “us” and “them”. It’s just “us”: 

    We use interesting words when we get into the world of sales and marketing. In our creative briefs, we often refer to “targets”, such as the “primary target” for a campaign. Doesn’t this seem sort of weird? Do you want to be a “target”. That sounds like someone is going to do something bad to you. Alternately, we use words like “audience” or “user”, but most of these still work somewhat backwards, as they separate us from the people we are trying to reach. So, we are left with marketing efforts that anticipate the reaction of a group, and often try to exaggerate claims to make a point, or manipulate the emotions and intentions of the people who may choose to buy what we are selling. History however has already taught us how dangerous this sort of thinking is. “Us and them” thinking puts us on opposite sides of the table. We’re left with polarised relationships, and our entire method for communicating is short-circuited.

Ø Honesty leads to meaningful work:

This observation has singularly made the greatest change in companies all over the world in the past few years. Honesty does change how you work. Why is that? Well, first off, it gets you asking the right questions. Instead of asking, “How can we sell this?” you can ask, “What do we do differently from others?” From there, all kinds of interesting things start to happen. One of them may be finding yourself completely stumped. It could be that you really have very little to offer. This is not a bad thing. It just helps you identify a core problem with your offering.

      It is hard to be honest. It takes a huge amount of self discipline to acknowledge your weaknesses as readily as you promote your strengths; yet, the truth of the matter is that a lot of great answers are found in what you believe to be your weaker points. Your company may be small, but that allows you to offer more personalized service. You may find that your products are really rather ugly–perhaps this will lead you to concentrating on the durability or function of what you offer. If you can uncover what is truthful about your offering, you are miles ahead of your competitors.

   Ø Things you believe in matter.

If you do not believe in the product/service you are selling, you have two solid options. The first is to ask why you don’t believe, and address the challenges which arise. The second is to quit, and find something you do believe in. Ask this of every project you work on, “If I were on the other end of this product, would I want it?” If the answer is “no”, you either did your part of the job poorly, or what you are selling has a root problem which has to be addressed. The way we test for how close we are to our target, is in actually reading out the copy that we write. Would we feel weird repeating it to a friend, while out for brunch? If so, we might still have to look at how we are presenting ourselves.

Ø  Real words are the antidote to marketing nonsense.

ROI. Solutions. Synergy. Innovation. All of these are bad words… very, very, bad words. Don’t blame them though, it’s not their fault. They are the victim of bad marketers… very, very bad marketers who strip-mined them of all of their value, for use in often meaningless campaigns.

These words and a number of other ones will often turn your marketing message into a complete and utter pile of bumph. You have a huge advantage though. You know that there are at least a quarter of a million other words out there, all vying for your attention. Try them out, maybe even try using the words you use in everyday conversation in to your marketing materials. You might find that they fit even better than you had expected.

Two years ago, the company was promoted with the new phrase “kicking ass,” the kind of term regularly used in the office. It’s natural. We like expletives, no matter how boorish they may seem. Strangely, the number of people who identified with that phrase was amazing. We earned business as a direct result of it.

Ø  Do work you care about. Present it truthfully. Have patience.

Marketing and business are demanding pursuits. They require so many things to align in order to work. It’s made ever more complex when we veer from who we are, and what we really need to say. To bring sanity to your corporate communications, you have to start at the very core of your organisation and align your messaging to reflect your values as directly as possible.

This is incredibly liberating. It allows us to bypass looking at our main competitors and trying to match their offering. We simply have to consider how we offer value, and articulating that clearly. Additionally, this leads us away from looking to whiz-bang solutions to solve all of our marketing challenges (Karjaluoto, 2006).

Ø Success is not just about thinking differently from the competition.

Success is also about caring more than the competition. Two questions demand the attention of leaders. The first is familiar: What keeps you up at night? What are the problems that nag at you?

The second is less familiar, but even more important: What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you and your people more committed than ever, more engaged than ever, more excited than ever, particularly as the environment around you gets tougher and more demanding than ever?

That’s a question every organization needs to ask and answer if it hopes to prosper in an era of hyper-competition and nonstop dislocation. Even the most creative leaders recognize that long-term success is not just about thinking differently from other companies. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, about caring more than other companies—about customers, about colleagues, about how the organization conducts itself in a world with endless temptations to cut corners and compromise on values. For leaders, the pressing question isn’t just what separates you from the competition in the marketplace. It’s also what holds you together in the workplace.

Consider the transformation of DaVita, Inc., one of the great turnaround stories of the last decade. From near bankruptcy in 1999 to a market cap of more than $6 billion today. What’s important, though, is that their CEO turned around the company by turning around the culture. One of the first messages he sent to employees was: “We are going to flip the ends and means of this business. We are a community first and a company second.”

If the people of DaVita could figure out how to treat people right, each other right, then the business would right itself. And that’s precisely what happened. Why does the company bother with such gestures? Because the demands on the workforce are relentless. The company’s 35,500 employees provide more than 16 million treatments per year. That’s 16 million opportunities to overlook a symptom, misdiagnose a problem, or otherwise make a small mistake that could have deadly consequences. It’s hard to make a purely business case for people to care as much as they need to care in order to deliver great service. You have to be motivated by something deeper—a sense of commitment not just to others, but also to one another.

Paul Romer, the influential economist, is celebrated within the profession for his vital (albeit highly technical) contributions to our understanding of the relationship between new ideas, technological change, and growth. To us civilians, though, he may best-known for a passing quip that he made to New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, a one-liner that has become the mantra of the moment for everyone from the White House to Silicon Valley: “A crisis,” Romer famously said, “is a terrible thing to waste.”

Redefine Your Market Boundaries

The first principle in reconstructing market boundaries is to break from the competition.

This principle addresses the search risk many companies struggle with. The challenge is to successfully identify, out of the haystack of possibilities that exist, commercially compelling gainful opportunities. This challenge is key because managers cannot afford to be riverboat gamblers betting their strategy on intuition or on a random drawing.

Specifically, there are six basic approaches to remaking market boundaries, the six paths framework. These paths have general applicability across industry sectors, and they lead companies into the corridor of commercially viable markets. None of these paths requires special vision or foresight about the future. All are based on looking at familiar data from a new perspective.

These paths challenge the six fundamental assumptions underlying many companies' strategies. These six assumptions, on which most companies hypnotically build their strategies, keep companies trapped competing with each other. Specifically, companies tend to do the following:

    Define their industry similarly and focus on being the best within it.

¨       Look at their industries through the lens of generally accepted strategic groups (such as luxury automobiles, economy cars, and family vehicles), and strive to stand out in the strategic group they play in.

¨       Focus on the same buyer group, be it the purchaser (as in the office equipment industry), the user (as in the clothing industry), or the influencer (as in the pharmaceutical industry).

     ¨       Define the scope of the products and services offered by their industry similarly.

     ¨       Accept their industry's functional or emotional orientation. 

     ¨       Focus on the same point in time—and often on current competitive threats—in formulating strategy.

Companies must break out of the accepted boundaries that define how they compete. Instead of looking within these boundaries, managers need to look systematically across them; across alternative industries, across strategic groups, across buyer groups, across complementary product and service offerings, across the functional-emotional orientation of an industry, and even across time. This gives companies keen insight into how to reconstruct market realities to open up new vistas.

For example, to sort out their personal finances, people can buy and install a financial software package, hire a CPA, or simply use pencil and paper. The software, the CPA, and the pencil are largely substitutes for each other. They have very different forms but serve the same function: helping people manage their financial affairs.

In contrast, products or services can take different forms and perform different functions but serve the same objective. Consider cinemas versus restaurants. Restaurants have few physical features in common with cinemas and serve a distinct function: They provide conversational and gastronomical pleasure. This is a very different experience from the visual entertainment offered by cinemas. Despite the differences in form and function, however, people go to a restaurant for the same objective that they go to the movies: to enjoy a night out. These are not substitutes, but alternatives to choose from.

In making every purchase decision, buyers implicitly weigh alternatives, often unconsciously. Do you need a self-indulgent two hours? What should you do to achieve it? Do you go to movie, have a massage, or enjoy reading a favorite book at a local cafe? The thought process is intuitive for individual consumers and industrial buyers alike.

For some reason, we often abandon this intuitive thinking when we become sellers.

Rarely do sellers think consciously about how their customers make trade-offs across alternative industries. A shift in price, a change in model, even a new ad campaign can elicit a tremendous response from rivals within an industry, but the same actions in an alternative industry usually go unnoticed. Trade journals, trade shows, and consumer rating reports reinforce the vertical walls between one industry and another. Often, however, the space between alternative industries provides opportunities for value innovation.

Don't struggle for a tiny niche. Instead, expand your horizons for a whole new market opportunity. Kim & Mauborgne

The Challenge

Your greatest challenge is you. Yes, you. As stated in Getting Things Done (p18), there are many things you’ve got to do if you plan to go anywhere. And you have to be creative. If you are a creative professional, these are seven creative habits that will help you increase your creative potential, and give your creativity more “oomph” when you need it most. 

Making creativity about play, not work. Creativity frequently hits when you least expect it, and - if you’re like most people - you can’t expect creative insights when you are struggling to finish a project or stressing about something at work or school. So what should you do? Turn work into play from time-to-time by making an effort to relax and have a little creative fun. Whether it’s a few minutes a day, or a few hours a week, make time for yourself to paint for fun, take random pictures, or write funny articles. By turning creative time into play time, your creativity will spark more frequently and your creative ideas will be much more impactful.

Ԉ       Letting your mind wander. Our brains are incredible thinking machines capable of creating things you and I can hardly imagine right now. But when we focus all of our thoughts on just one thing, our brains aren’t free to do what they do best: create new ideas. So letting your brain wander and think about anything and everything at once is a great habit to get into. By not limiting your brain to just one train of thought, you open up a lot of doors. And if you’re having trouble fuelling your creativity through an open mind, you can limit your thoughts to something random (a light switch, a piano key, an umbrella) and then let your mind wander around those ideas.

Ԉ        Just do it. Creative idea? Make it a reality now. Don't wait.

           The more you get into the habit of jumping on your creative thoughts, the more you will discover how great your ideas really are. Too often people put off their creative ideas, only to find out that someone else has gone ahead and done it and that it was a great idea. I’ve said it before and I can’t emphasise it enough: don’t worry about the risks right off the bat, jump into your ideas. Your creativity is strongest when it first hits, so take advantage of that fact.

 Ԉ     Mapping out your ideas. Writing down ideas is great for maintaining creative inspiration, but when it comes to working out what ideas work and what ideas don’t, the best solution is to physically map out your ideas on paper using a mind map.

 Ԉ     Get into the habit of doing this often and your creative mind will begin to recognize great ideas - and not so great ideas - almost instantly.

 Ԉ     Challenging yourself every week. Creativity drives us as human beings to solve problems. If we take a break from solving problems our creativity will become dull over time. Creating a new challenge to creatively solve every week is the perfect way to keep your creativity sharp. Come up with a problem (you do your laundry too slow, you’re not organised, etc.) and then think up a creative way to solve that problem. Keep your creativity sharp and it will be strong when you really need it.

 Ԉ     Celebrating your accomplishments. Whenever you come up with a creative idea and follow through with it, treat yourself to a movie or a nice dinner. Rewarding yourself for creative accomplishments is a habit that will not only improve your willingness to be creative when things get rough, but doing so will also make you feel great. Don’t think about celebrating, just do it.

 Ԉ     Actively seeking out new creative habits. One of the most important creative habits you could ever acquire is the need to actively seek out new creative habits. Whenever you focus on your creativity, you are improving it. There is absolutely no way to hinder your creativity by trying to expand it. Spend a bit of time everyday searching for ways to expand your creativity and learn new creative habits to acquire.

Leaders of the future lead organisations that are mission focussed, value based, demographics driven, and that strive to be leaders of courage, leaders who are healers and unifiers, who embody their values and live by strongly held principles. Then having the courage to lead becomes the best way to define these leaders, leading from the front and not pushing from the rear in times of great ambiguity with even greater opportunity, helping to redefine the future of the organization and the community beyond the walls.

An analysis of company successes and challenges brings out a number of key characteristics that set every great team apart from the also-rans. Of these traits, perhaps the most important are the role and the impact of the leader. Anytime, you, the CEO are placed on a pedestal, you are isolated from the realities of what’s really going on in the marketplace. The way to succeed today is to change your leadership style. You have to become a "high- performance leader," radically different from leaders in traditional, hierarchical organizations. High-performance leaders re-conceptualize the business in two important ways, beginning with the vision they hold for their organisation.

To overcome the immediate challenges and those that lie ahead, high-performance leaders have scuttled the traditional hierarchical organizational model and replaced it with a flat, horizontal one. A horizontal organization is characterised by "high-performance teams with real decision-making clout and accountability for results," instead of "committees that pass decisions up to the next level or toss them over the wall to the nearest silo." But their vision of a flat organization, where power and authority are pushed down through the ranks, does not in itself make these leaders a breed apart. In a second area—the relationship of team members and their leader—high-performance leaders don't just re-conceptualise. They revolutionise.

They cast off the old leader-follower dynamic, revamping if not completely doing away with the distinction between the two. The high-performance leader-player dynamic rests on a radically different notion of accountability. On a high-performance team, not only are team members held accountable for results by the leader; they are expected to hold one another accountable and—in the most significant departure of all—they are expected to hold the leader equally accountable.

Changing the Mind-Set

Given the departure from the narrow, "I'm responsible for me and my department," hierarchical approach to accountability, not surprisingly it takes effort and skill to make the transition to a model where all team members—and their leader—are held equally accountable. Overcoming players' reluctance to cross functional lines, question their peers and leader, and deliver honest, candid feedback requires change at the deepest, "inner person" level—on the part of both the leader and the team.

Some actions that a leader can take to help team members make the shift to the new paradigm and become true high performers are listed infra:

o    Show How It's Done.

A leader who brooks no disagreement can hardly expect others to encourage open dialogue. Leaders who ask for honesty must prove that they really want it—even if directed at them. They do this most convincingly by listening to a critique of their own performance and acting on it, by changing behavior that the team tells them is unacceptable, by not cutting off dissenters or denigrating their opinions, by not pulling rank when it's time to make a decision. Role-modelling of accountability is essential. 

o    Invite Feedback.

There's an additional benefit when the leader and the top team model peer-to-peer accountability for the rest of the organization: It soon extends to teams everywhere. As Ken Bloom, CEO of INTTRA, Inc. explains, "If I don't do something I have promised, any member of my team can come to me and ask, 'Why aren't you honoring your agreement?' Everyone in the company knows it, and it gives them license to do the same."

o    Admit Your Mistakes.

Allgaier also believes that one of the best ways a leader can encourage mutual accountability is by owning up to personal mistakes in front of the team. Unlike old- school leaders who carefully maintain the fiction of their infallibility, he openly admits misjudgments and turns them into learning experiences. He recounted his problems recruiting a global head of product supply. He made the QRs and interviewed prospective candidates. The first was a clear misfit and was soon relieved of his job. The next incumbent also didn’t fit the bill. Allgaier was ashamed of himself, but decided to use the case as a learning opportunity for himself and his lead team. He held a very open three-hour debriefing with his team, beginning with explaining what he felt he had missed in the two previous candidates. The team went deep, hammering out the real requirements of the job and proposing new ways to structure the role for enhanced speed of execution and organizational effectiveness. It took nine months to find the right person, but the third time around it worked out beautifully.

You must tell them that you want the bad news first, and no matter how bad it is, you don't beat them up for it. The right type of player has high accountability for their work, and they already feel worse about their mistake than you can make them feel.Focus on what you can learn from the mistake and how you can correct it as soon as possible.

          o       Learn to Depersonalise.

            Allowing your team to hold you accountable takes having a thick skin. One of the post-alignment sessions in which a team took part included a review of the team's answers to the questions, "How would you rate your leader's performance, and how can he improve it?" The HR team's leader demonstrated real bravery in the way he handled the feedback. "Our team is a very mixed group," he explained, "so the comments were all over the map. Some people wanted more direction and clarity, more structure; others were critical of the leader's tendency to solve their problems for them. I sat through the long session—over an hour and a half—and listened to each person. I didn't try to explain or excuse myself; I didn't try to provide solutions. I just absorbed it." The leader then led a follow-up session in which he and the group identified actions they could take together to address each concern. Hearing these things for the first time must shake you up and raise doubts about your abilities, but never get rattled or become defensive. Exhibit skill—and bravery.

He did something else that all those who are on the receiving end of negative feedback need to do: He depersonalised the group's comments, treating them as a "business case" rather than an attack. Depersonalising feedback is a real problem because the person on the receiving end always seems to be on trial. They don't understand that being questioned didn't imply being criticized personally. You can help the team break out of this mind-set by role-modeling the willingness to take accountability for your performance and depersonalizing feedback. Tell them that if they see you not living up to your commitments, they should come to him with that feedback, and you will view it as a gift.

o      Get Help If You Need It.

            Many leaders who set out to create great teams successfully change the mind- set of their players, are never able to complete the self-transformation. The leader who pays lip service to total accountability but still bristles at receiving any less-than- laudatory comment needs to ask, "What story am I clinging to that's keeping me from making this change?" and "Why?" Self-examination may be enough to break through the barrier; if not, personal coaching may be called for. Roy Anise, former vice president and general manager of Chrysalis Technologies, realized that he tended to be very directive and had trouble connecting, but when he got candid feedback from the members of his team, he was surprised to learn that they judged him to be far more aggressive than he believed he was. As a result, they were uncomfortable expressing their viewpoints or making decisions on their own. He received similar feedback from his boss, which spurred him to seek coaching.

During his first session with the coach, Anise explained that, as a leader, he was unsure of how his team was progressing and where he needed to take it next. His coach promptly commented, "Now I know why you are so intimidating." "What are you talking about? I haven't said anything to you," countered Anise. "That's the point," replied the coach. "You keep your cards so close to the chest, so covered up, that I have no idea what's going on with you. I can see why people who work for you would feel the same- not knowing what's going on with you. I can see why they're intimidated." The coach, of course had simply mirrored his pupil's behavior, which had caused Anise to see the light.

o   Relax and Learn.

For most team leaders, receiving feedback evokes all the joy of a tooth extraction, and team members generally wind up equating feedback with pain and suffering. But feedback on great business teams isn't typically a brutal, punishing experience for the leader who receives it or the players who give it. Some actually like it when team members hold him accountable, as long as their feedback is well grounded and logical. One leader says, "The people who speak up and stir the pot help me make the right decisions. They help me make sure the organization is moving in the right direction; if they point out that we are off course, I'm always willing to make changes." Nor does holding leaders accountable necessarily mean taking them to task for underperformance. It may simply entail raising an issue that hasn't been brought up before or resurfacing an issue that has fallen off the radar screen so a solution can be hammered out.

 o        No Substitute for Role-Modelling

Accountability along the lines suggested so far does not happen by chance or by the sheer willpower of the leader. The process begins with you, the leader, and your willingness to change your mind-set about leadership and followership. Once this occurs, you can then go about reframing the thinking of those on your team. Here, there is no substitute for role- modeling. You will change behavior in direct proportion to how you demonstrate the correct way to give and receive feedback; don't just accept players' candid comments about your performance, encourage and reward it, and change your behavior in response to their critique.


        Humility & Ambition

Most of the time these two characteristics are found on opposite sides of the playground. They tend to have different friends, desires, and interests – yet both are essential to the health of a leader and the world desperately needs more leaders that are willing to be both. “Knowing where our power comes from is what keeps us Humbitious.”

  •   When we believe that it is OUR Power we get into trouble.

  •   When we believe that we are the reason for success and failure we will get   into trouble.
  •  When we shame ourselves and dwell in the land of self-hatred we get into  trouble.
  •  When we don’t allow ourselves to live in forgiveness we get into trouble.
  •  When we are trying to prove something we get into trouble. When we are   trying to be something we are not we get into trouble.
  •  When we try to make people happy instead of lovingly lead people we get   into trouble.
  •  When we see ourselves as more powerful than another person our relationships with others get into trouble.
  •  When we believe that everything hinges on us we get into trouble.
                                                                                                    Source: Soul City Blog Chicago, 2011

We are in a seller's market for "human capital." Well-known tech companies are battling fiercely to recruit newly minted programmers, marketers, and business-school students--and aren't shy about raiding each other for veteran talent. In short, today's young professionals are the beneficiaries of a "war for talent". What they must remember is the point of the exercise is not to land the fattest signing bonus or sign up with the "cool company" of the moment. The point of the exercise is to do work you care about in a company that matters. And achieving that goal means dialing down your short-term ambitions and recognizing the power of "humbition."

Humbition is one part humility and one part ambition, says Jane Harper, leadership researcher, IBM. It is, she explains, the subtle blend of humility and ambition that drives the most successful leaders--an antidote to the know-it-all hubris that affects so many business stars. "The more I know," she says sensibly, "the more I know there is more to know." Success most often doesn’t come from our efforts alone but in our ability to include and organise the contributions of others; to coax the fragments of a good idea from the hearts and minds of others; from a practiced watchfulness that comes from knowing that a good idea can come from anyone or anywhere. The result, when it comes together—the execution of a great idea— should be humbling to any leader. It is humility coupled with ambition that correlates with results. Be ambitious. Be a leader. But do not belittle others in your pursuit of your ambitions. Taylor also uses this term in his book, and develops it in similar fashion.

So we must learn to hold our power with true humility and true ambition – This is part of our truest self as leaders.

The Decider

Hark back to the values, abilities, work ethic and moral principles a successful leader has as well as the signs losers emanate (pp 7-8). It all starts with: How do I make this better? As you read further, you would have come across examples used in this article to illustrate points.

Framing is important and when talking about innovation that usually means deciding between incremental and radical change. Yet for most businesses, they don’t want to hear about change. They want the world they exist in just the way it is, especially if they’ve had some level of success. But which is the more practical approach? Better or different?

Consider Zappos. Their mantra is to ‘Deliver Happiness’ and it makes a meaningful difference to consumers as well as its employees. Or look at the road-the auto industry. Is the Tesla Roadster better than a Ferrari? It depends on who you ask. Both are cars, the difference being that one of them runs on electric batteries. One’s better for the environment, but you may not care about that when deciding between one or the other.

Let’s take Google+ as a recent example. Is it better than Facebook? That’s what the users are comparing it to because of the obvious similarities. Google thought hard about ‘what sucked about social networks’ and ‘how to fix it’. Did it improve it? Everyone has their own opinion but the fact is they’re still not done. And that’s the point.

¤  Better is the more practical approach to innovation because nothing is ever done. Whether a product, service, business process, customer experience, etc; we can always improve them.

¤  Better, usually takes a more trial-and-error approach. You try things and see what works. This is very practical.

¤  Going from ‘better to different’ is a huge mental leap. And though trying to be different might make you appear different, it’s not as simple as wearing red when everyone is wearing black.

¤  We can compare products and services all day long but deciding if something is better and different than something else is really a matter of perception. Just because something is different doesn’t mean its better. But better, is always different.

Ask potential consumers to sign up for something you are testing. Quite a few will. Then ask them to pay a small sum towards expenses. How many will drop out? Can they not see the new opportunities you are presenting them? Test the idea among your employees. You have an untapped asset walking your hallways every day. If your own people won't buy it, why would consumers?

In closing, consider ten principles to live by in our fiercely complex times:

       ü Excellence is an unrelenting struggle, but it's also the surest route to enduring satisfaction. There's no shortcut to excellence. Getting there requires practicing delaying gratification, and forever challenging your current comfort zone.

      ü With time, realisation will set in that things aren't what they looked like. Always challenge certainty, especially your own. When you do think you're undeniably right, ask yourself "What might I be missing here?" If we could truly figure it all out, what else would there be left to do? If your company were to cease operations tomorrow, would you be missed and why?

      ü Emotions are contagious, so it pays to know what you're feeling. Think of the best boss you ever had. How did he or she make you feel? That's the way you want to make others feel.

      ü When in doubt, ask yourself, "How would I behave here at my best?" We know instinctively what it means to do the right thing, even when we're inclined to do the opposite. If you find it tough, in a challenging moment, to envision how you'd behave at your best, try imagining how someone you admire, or your mentor would respond.

       ü If you do what you love, the money may or may not follow, but you'll love what you do. Its magical thinking to assume you'll be rewarded with riches for following your heart. What it will give you is a richer life.

      ü You need less than you think you do. All your life, you've been led to believe that more is better, and that whatever you have isn't enough. It's a recipe for disappointment. Instead, ask yourself this: How much of what you already have truly adds value in your life? What could you do without? You’ll be surprised.

      ü Accept yourself exactly as you are but never stop trying to learn and grow. One without the other just doesn't cut it. The first, by itself, leads to complacency, the second to self- flagellation. The paradoxical trick is to embrace these opposites, using self-acceptance as an antidote to fear and as a cushion in the face of setbacks.

      ü Meaning isn't something you discover, it's something you create, one step at a time. Meaning is derived from finding a way to express your unique skills and passion in the service of something larger than yourself. Figuring out how best to contribute is a lifelong challenge, reborn every day. And Is your organization learning as fast as the world is changing?

      ü You can't change what you don't notice and not noticing won't make it go away. Are you consistent in your commitment to change? Each of us has an infinite capacity for self- deception. To avoid pain, we rationalize, minimize, deny, and go numb. The antidote is willingness to look at yourself with unsparing honesty, and to hold yourself accountable to the person you want to be.

    When in doubt, take responsibility. It's called being a true adult.

Noel Moitra