The first title in BLG’s Pragmatic Leadership Series is now available on Amazon.com. Published by Cornell University Press, The Agenda Mover outlines how leaders can move complex ideas through complex organizations.
Everyone is capable of coming up with a good idea, but a good idea without execution is hallucination. Leaders, including politicians and corporate officers, are those who have mastered the pragmatic skills that turn creative, innovative ideas into concrete realities. They are able to transform promises into results. The Agenda Mover leads you on the journey from having a good idea to bringing it to fruition. You will master the political competence to assure that your ideas gain momentum and achieve true traction. You will learn what it takes to go the distance to sustain your campaign and achieve your goals. Rather than dreaming about what could happen, you will become an agenda mover who gets things done and makes things happen.
Professor Samuel Bacharach will take part in a Q&A session on Leading in Tech at the NY Code and Design Academy. Professor Bacharach is a sought after coach, consultant, Inc. columnist and author well-known for his work with companies like Cisco, SunGard, Mindtree along with many of the Fortune 500, Inc. 5000 and Non-Profits/NGOs. Whether you’re building your company from the ground up, or seeking insight on how to bring innovation to your organization, you’ll want to hear this talk.
Professor Samuel Bacharach will be speaking at The Louisiana Women Leaders Business Conference this week. Go here for registration details.
The Louisiana Women Leaders Business Conference provides women with valuable information pertaining to issues affecting their economic well-being. This year our conference will be in conjunction with our Hall of Fame and will be a morning session with the well known Cornell University professor and author, Samuel Bacharach, empowering women with insight into organizational political competence.
One of Amazon’s 14 principles of leadership is entitled, “Have backbone; disagree and commit.” It suggests employees “challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting.”
We’ve all seen how that policy has propelled Amazon’s success—but we rarely get a glimpse of how it affects the overall culture of the organization until now.
In a groundbreaking New York Time’s article Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld talked with over 100 former and current Amazon employees and learned how Amazon’s culture drives success, but fuels internal problems.
The article profiles current and ex employees who show an unnerving underbelly in Amazon’s culture: “Every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk” and “If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot” [read: robot.] and, “You drown someone in the deep end of the pool” in order to poach their talent.
Clearly, the culture is competitive and as their leadership principles dictate, people are encouraged to “tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings.”
While Jeff Bezos has made a fortune from this completive culture, some think it will end up having long-term drawbacks. Talent is leaving and prospective employees are reluctant to join Amazon especially when employees feel like “the CEO of the company [is] in bed with you at 3 a.m. breathing down your neck.”
Of course those at Amazon “shoot for the moon” and want to think big and invent. They don’t mind toughing it out to be at the cutting edge. But can they continually push the envelope in such a culture?
Through our work at BLG we have found that organizations, both large and small, work better and produce more divergent ideas when their teams operate in an environment of safety.
Amazon’s competitive atmosphere requires bright talent to bring their best ideas to the table and have them withstand a gauntlet of criticisms and questions. Yet innovation research and BLG practice has found this practice doesn’t open the door to truly divergent, blue-ocean thinking.
To innovate ideas must be shared, but they must also be protected and added on to. Knocking an idea down will only stop the next idea from being aired.
Leaders must foster an environment where people can challenge, but aren’t pushing. They need to evaluate without judging and give feedback apart from political mechanisms.
And this is something Bezos can do. He himself said, “Part of company culture is path-dependent—it’s the lessons you learn along the way,” and, more recently, “My main job today: I work hard at helping to maintain the culture.”
LG Leadership Insights offers advice to leaders, entrepreneurs, and students
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
A leader earns credibility. As Professor Bacharach argues in Inc. magazine a leader can demonstrate credibility in four ways:
- Knowledge & Experience
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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