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January 23, 2020

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October 3, 2019

Hi there! Please note that this week's post is a follow-up to last week's post on co-creation. You can read it here.

Before we can understand the nature of emergence, we have to understand the nature and behavior of complex adaptive systems.

You already know what complex adaptive systems are, even if you don’t know you know. You’ve seen them in practice. You’ve watched teams self-organize to address a problem. You’ve watched cross-functional interactions resulting in product or service changes. You’ve watched companies adapt to new situations or environments.

Complex adaptive systems are informal groups that arise to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity. They are the result of the interconnectedness of people and ideas both inside and outside of the organization. They are unpredict...

September 26, 2019

How did we all get onto this notion that leaders must be the single supreme creative force behind their organizations? Was it Steve Jobs? Henry Ford? Cornelius Vanderbilt?

Let’s give it a rethink shall we?

Co-creation isn’t about rolling up our sleeves and leading a team of creative people. It’s about creating an environment where co-creation happens around us, in spite of us and occasionally, through us. It’s about eliminating the separation of planning and doing.

This of course, requires us to grapple with our needs for certainty and significance. We like the certainty of knowing we’re in charge and we attach ourselves to the notion that because we’re in charge, things will unfold as we want them to. And, we like the significance of being the person with all the answers and all the authorit...

June 14, 2019

Good question.

You came to coaching because... well, you just felt it was time. Perhaps you sensed something big on the horizon. Or you sensed your own untapped potential. Or perhaps, it was a lingering sense of decline that brought you to this moment.

So here you are. And I’m so happy to have you.

As of this moment, we’re partners.

And if we do this right, by the end of our time together, you will feel a motivation that’s driven from your truest self. You’ll be more confident and energized. Your team will be more focused, trusting and collaborative. Issues will arise sooner and problem solving will be more creative. And, it will all come from you. Because true leadership is as much about who and how we are as it is about what we do.

That’s why our first few weeks together will focus on reclaim...

May 17, 2019

Even if you’re not a regular Jeopardy! watcher (as I am), you may have heard some buzz recently about a contestant called James Holzhauer. As of this writing, James has won $1.69 million over the course of only 22 games (an average of $77,000 per game). For reference, Ken Jennings, the winningest Jeopardy! contestant of all time, won $2.5 million over 74 games (an average of $34,000 per game).

So, it would seem, James is doing very well. And some people are not happy about it.  

Just check out these headlines:

Washington Post: Jeopardy! Winner James Holzhauer Keeps Dominating. Does it Matter if He Broke the Game?

CNN: Is James Holzhauer Ruining Jeopardy! for Everyone?

Variety: Why James Holzhauer is Bad for Jeopardy! In which the columnist complains that he is now faced with “…the dreary a...

April 25, 2019

There’s a big difference between a stuck leader and an Unstuck Leader. You can read all about it here, but the crux of it is this: a stuck leader operates from an ego-system (as in me, me, me) and an Unstuck Leader operates from an eco-system (as in we, we, we). And as a result, Unstuck Leaders are far more effective, especially in the long-term, than stuck leaders (obvs).

Below, I’m going to show you the five steps to becoming an Unstuck Leader.

But first, a warning.

All this Unstuck Leader stuff sounds awesome, but it’s also really, really hard. And uncomfortable. And at times, exhausting. And that’s why the most important type of management for the Unstuck Leader is self-management. That is to say, it’s impossible to become the kind of person who does the things an Unstuck Leader does unle...

April 25, 2019

Meet Bob. He’s a CEO.

Bob’s a vision guy. He believes his personal brand of visionary leadership is imperative to his company’s continued health and success. He is fiercely loyal to and protective of his team and has fostered an “us against the world” mentality when dealing with suppliers, regulators and sometimes, even customers. He’s a great problem solver who reacts quickly and decisively during a crisis, and there are lots of crises to react to. Though he has set targets, created a clear reporting structure and put operating policies and procedures in place, he often handles things on his own because he doesn’t want his team to know that at times, the company has been in danger of going under. He gives great, constructive feedback at annual reviews. He’s a relentless competitor who is d...

March 14, 2019

Where tension is felt personally, conflict is experienced between two or more parties. It’s the result of a clash of ideas, cultural norms and passions. And, like tension, it’s essential to the growth, evolution and renewal of the organization. Without healthy conflict, an organization will stagnate.

Now. Am I saying we want everyone at each other’s throats? Of course not. Conflict doesn’t always have to be fireworks. But I would argue that it’s only unhealthy conflict that is problematic. Unhealthy conflict is the kind where the conversation quickly devolves to who is stupid and who is evil.

Healthy conflict is another thing entirely. It’s about discussion and debate. It’s about drawing out tacit knowledge. It’s about surfacing previously unseen issues and opportunities It’s about creating...

March 2, 2019

In the novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, author Tom Wolfe refers to cynicism as a “cowardly form of superiority.”

Sounds harsh? I don’t think so.

Cynicism is a poison that seems to have found its way into our collective hearts. It used to be that my generation, Generation X, was known for its cynicism, but I have to hand it to the Millennials – they seem to have outdone us. 

I suspect the specifics of this age of cynicism, and why it seems to have infected the Millennial generation with such force will be the topic of many future Ph.D theses. Maybe it’s a result of being raised on The Simpsons and The Office, or maybe it’s due to meme culture, or having come of age during the great recession of 2008, one of the most devastating economic downturns in history, or the crushing pressure of stude...

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