Why Leaders Need a Shakeup: Google Becomes Alphabet

By | BLG Leadership Insights | No Comments


google shakeup

On Monday Google formed a new company called Alphabet. Google Inc. will become part of Alphabet Inc.. This arrangement will allow Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to continue to work on different projects (like extending human life) without distracting from Google’s search and video goals. Sundar Pichai, Page’s lieutenant, will become the new CEO of Google.

Larry Page defends the shakeup in his blog:

“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

The sudden shift gives both Google cofounders the space and the tools to work on new, innovative projects without upsetting investors. They hope that the shift will bring about the following:

“We are excited about…

  • Getting more ambitious things done.
  • Taking the long-term view.
  • Empowering great entrepreneurs and companies to flourish.
  • Investing at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.
  • Improving the transparency and oversight of what we’re doing.
  • Making Google even better through greater focus.
  • And hopefully…as a result of all this, improving the lives of as many people as we can.”

Sometimes it is important for leaders to turn their business or their routines upside down in order to pursue new goals and innovation. Now Google cofounders can shoot for the moon and engage in Blue Ocean thinking without worrying about derailing their search business.


BLG Leadership Insights offers advice to leaders, entrepreneurs, and students  

Hints From Academia: Teams & Creativity

By | Hints From Academia | No Comments

team work innovation

In an organizational setting much of creativity occurs in the context of a team. Therefore, how individuals relate to others on their team may be very relevant to their own creativity. Interestingly enough, while we make a lot of assumptions about this, there is not a lot of concrete research. But two particularly interesting articles in this area come to mind and offer excellent insights.

In the first piece, Why Seeking Help From Teammates Is a Blessing and a Curse: A Theory of Help Seeking and Individual Creativity in Team Contexts, the authors, Jennifer S. Mueller and Dishan Kamdar, explore whether help seeking is positivity related to ones own creativity. Using data collected from a large multi-national corporation they find that while seeking help from team mates can result in creative performance, creativity is sometimes limited because people often feel the need to reciprocate help. Clearly seeking help is both a blessing and a curse.

In another article What Goes Around Comes Around: Knowledge Hiding, Perceived Motivational Climate, and Creativity, the authors, Matej Černe, Christina G. L. Nerstad, Anders Dysvik, and Miha Škerlavaj, examine an unfortunate reality of organizational life: employees often retain information from their coworkers rather than offering help. This creates a distrust loop. It has major negative implications for organizational creativity and innovation.

Taken together these pieces provide real hints as to why it is essential for innovation leaders to create a team environment of safety and trust.


Hints from Academia is BLG’s effort to highlight those academic pieces we feel offer special insights and guidance to the world of practice. 


By | Leadership On the Edge | No Comments

on thin ice leadership

  1. Have a tough decision to make? Maybe you should listen to your gut.
  2. Build support and coalitions by giving gifts.
  3. Sustain virtual team momentum by following this simple advice.
  4. Perhaps checking the news distracts leadership.
  5. How LinkedIn co-founder learned from failure.
  6. Reading relieves stress and can help communication skills.
  7. UBER is ushering in the 1099 economy.
  8. The liberal arts degree in silicon valley.
  9. Speaking of the valley, are start-ups on thin ice?
  10. Sit back this weekend and watch these documentaries to learn key leadership and start-up lessons


In Leadership On the Edge BLG presents thought provoking articles, videos, and news from the world of leadership.

Building Leadership Credibility With Spell Check

By | BLG Leadership Insights | No Comments

type writer editorA leader earns credibility. As Professor Bacharach argues in Inc. magazine a leader can demonstrate credibility in four ways:

  1. Position
  2. Integrity
  3. Knowledge & Experience
  4. Time & Opportunity

While building credibility in all of these arenas is crucial for any leader an article in today’s Harvard Business Review speaks to establishing credibility via knowledge and experience.

Barbara Wallraff, an editor at The Atlantic, suggests a leaders should increase and protect their credibility by making sure their emails, documents, and messages are well written and edited. After all,

“People jump to all kinds of conclusions about you when they read documents you have written. They decide, for instance, how smart, how creative, how well organized, how trustworthy, and how considerate you are. And once they have made up their minds, it is hard to get them to see you differently.”

Building leadership credibility isn’t always about grand gestures. Sometimes it’s about small, micro-behavioral actions you can do on a daily basis.


BLG Leadership Insights offers advice to leaders, entrepreneurs, and students  

Hints from Academia: The Impact of Culture on Creativity

By | Hints From Academia, Uncategorized | No Comments

creativityIn dealing with creativity in an organizational context one of the themes academics have struggled with in their research is how to understand the impact of culture, specifically national culture, on individual creativity. To draw this link has been especially problematic, but in the article The Impact of Culture on Creativity: How Cultural Tightness and Cultural Distance Affect Global Innovation Crowdsourcing Work the researchers (Roy Y. J. Chua, Yannig Roth, and Jean-Francxois Lemoine) have suggested a very fundamental and clear cut linkage between “cultural tightness” (meaning: “the extent to which a country is characterized by strong social norms and low tolerance for deviant behaviors”) and creativity.

They find that individuals from tight cultures are less likely to successful engage in “foreign creative tasks” than individuals from loose cultures. The authors elaborate in detail the relationship, but at it’s core this is a superb academic study that highlights a countries culture can impact individual creativity.


Hints from Academia is BLG’s effort to highlight those academic pieces we feel offer special insights and guidance to the world of practice. 


By | Leadership On the Edge | No Comments

kitchen debate

  1. The elements of the perfect business email.
  2. Are performance reviews on the way out?
  3. Four useful team management guidelines.
  4. Put your phone down. Boredom might be useful.
  5. The case against trying to wake up early. It’s OK to hit the snooze button.
  6. How to switch industries in the middle of your career (video).
  7. Daniel Kahneman warns us against overconfidence.
  8. How to fall back in love…with your job.
  9. The tools you need to work from anywhere in the world.
  10. On this day in history a great negotiation happened…in a model kitchen. Leaders always have to be ready.




10 Videos That Will Increase Your Productivity

By | Ideas, Leadership Videos | No Comments

productivity videos

1. First, let’s start with the science behind productivity.

2. Getting things done is sometimes about saying, “NO!” thinks Steve Jobs.

3. Eddie Obeng tells us productivity is about…failure

4. To be productive, focus on happiness.

5. Productivity may mean ending you social life.

6. Merlin Mann tells Google how to get things done.

7. To be productive, master the “Pomodoro Technique.”

8. Tim Ferris of 4-Hour Workweek fame discusses productivity and introduces the 4 hour day.

9. Take advice from Nick Cave’s creative process and productive work habits.

10. Ray Bradbury’s persistence boosts productivity.

Remember: Good Ideas Are Never Enough

By | BLG Leadership Insights, Idea Lab, Innovate | No Comments
Vision without execution is hallucination

Vision without execution is hallucination

John Doerr is a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and has successfully backed companies like Google, Twitter, and Amazon. He has seen, firsthand, what type of leadership spurs innovation and turns start-ups into household names.

While his whole talk is fascinating, Doerr speaks specifically on the importance of good ideas and why they are never enough.   He says, “I love innovation…but I’ve seen so many disruptive ideas where there hasn’t been execution, where a team doesn’t get it done.”

Like Thomas Edison said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Doerr continues, “It causes me to admire the innovators who can also lead and assemble, recruit, hire, and motivate a great team.”

Innovation and leadership isn’t about an idea, it’s about moving agendas and getting things done.

How Georges Simenon Wrote Nearly 200 Books

By | BLG Leadership Insights, Creativity, Ideas, Leadership All Around Us | No Comments

simenon productivty tips

Georges Simenon wrote nearly 200 books and is the creator of Jules Maigret, the world’s second most famous pipe-smoking detective. Each of Simenon’s books are not only critical successes, but they remain popular and in print.

But how did Simenon do it? Follows are Simeon’s productivity strategies that we can all learn from.

1. Build Momentum

“On the eve of the first day I know what will happen in the first chapter. Then, day after day, chapter after chapter, I find what comes later,” says Simenon. “After I have started a novel I write a chapter each day, without ever missing a day. Because it is a strain, I have to keep pace with the novel. If, for example, I am ill for forty-eight hours, I have to throw away the previous chapters. And I never return to that novel.” If the momentum is lost the energy and creativity of an idea may be drained. Build momentum for projects; don’t start and stop them.

2. Work in Bursts

Simenon cannot maintain his work rate for weeks at a time. “It’s almost unbearable after five or six days [of writing],” Simenon says. “That is one of the reasons my novels are so short; after eleven days I can’t—it’s impossible…it’s physical. I am too tired.”

After six to eleven days of writing Simenon would spend “three days to a week” editing and cutting down.

He elaborates, “Five or six times a year, at the very most, I retire into my own shell for eight days and, at the end of that time, a novel emerges.”

3. Eliminate Distractions

When asked about his impressive output, Simenon says, “My literary colleagues: they live in Paris, they lead quite worldly lives, and they pursue the manifold activities of men of letters. They give lectures, they write articles, they give innumerable interviews…. But I don’t do any of those things. I live tucked away with my family.” By eliminating all other distraction Simenon can focus on one thing.

4. Don’t Listen to Critics

“All the critics for twenty years have said the same thing: ‘It is time for Simenon to give us a big novel, a novel with twenty or thirty characters.’ They do not understand. I will never write a big novel.” Simeon didn’t let the opinion of critics change is writing style or creative output. He continued to do what he did best.

5. Passion

Simenon, of course, was able to produce so much as a result of pure passion. In one interview he says, “I need to write. If someone gave me the biggest fortune in the world tomorrow, it would make me miserable and physically sick if it served to prevent me from writing.”

Simeon wrote not as a hobby, but as a physical compulsion.

6. Use a Simple Outline 

I know nothing about the events when I begin the novel,” says Simenon. Instead, Simenon simply decides on an atmosphere and, “On [a] envelope I put only the names of the characters, their ages, their families. I know nothing whatever about the events that will occur later. Otherwise it would not be interesting to me.”

Explore problems without working toward a set goal. Let creativity and playfulness yield results.


If you want to increase your productivity, it takes some planning and hard work–and a focus on things that are important to you. Even if your goal isn’t to write detective novels, you can still take a page from Georges Simenon.