Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Innovation and Abandonment

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

A prior post of mine was titled “Let Go of the Old”. Recently,  I ran across a chapter in Peter Drucker’s book “The Definitive Drucker” titled, “Innovation and Abandonment”, where he dug deeper into the theme of new vs. old. Here are a few of his quotes:

“If you don’t understand innovation you don’t understand business.”

“Innovation is about shaking loose from yesterday’s world so that we gain the freedom to create tomorrow.”

“You can’t throw everything out, or you’ll have anarchy. You can’t hold on to everything or you’ll die.”

“Without the will to take risks, to venture into the unknown and let go of the familiar past, a corporation cannot thrive in the twenty-first century.”

“Systematic abandonment is both the most important and most difficult step in innovation.”

“The entrepreneur always, searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

“All assumptions must be challenged”.

All businesses should be in the midst of Innovation and Abandonment. Look around. Are your key personnel, your top thinkers… experiencing and struggling through the process of Innovation and Abandonment? If they are not, you should be concerned.

Innovation and abandonment were at the core of Drucker’s thinking. He believed that the best way to predict the future was to create it. You can play a key role in helping your organization create its future. How?

First, by taking a few moments to grasp the concept of  innovation and abandonment.  And second,  make certain you maintain a sense of urgency to learn the new, to embrace the changes with a positive attitude, and to provide/reach out for constructive feedback. It’s this  feedback/input that allows for  improvements to be made as quickly as possible.

Let’s not stymie our innovation by excessive and/or blind loyalty to the old way of doing things.

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

What Matters Now…by Seth

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment
Here’s a read that’s a must as we wind down 2009 and look forward into 2010. And it’s free!
Free from Seth Godin…an ebook just released yesterday.

He’s pulled together more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea to think about as we head into the new year.
So…put your thinking cap on!
Categories: Leadership, Social Media

Lifelong Learning

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment

“Yep…that’s me, learning every day.”

My guess is that this is the response that runs through most of our heads when we hear the reference to “Lifelong Learning” (LLL).

Here’s what Wikipedia says about Lifelong Learning:

Lifelong Learning is the concept that “It’s never too soon or too late for learning”, a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organizations. Lifelong Learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. Lifelong Learning throws the axiom “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” out the door. Lifelong Learning sees citizens provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home and through leisure activities, not just through formal channels such as school and higher education.

In a Leadership Foundation class I completed last year, I learned that transformational LLL requires a much different mind set. In the class, which I have to give credit to for stirring my innate Learning strength, we unpacked the following learning questions:

Why should I learn?

What should I learn?

How can I learn?

Why should I learn? … dealt with the motivation that is necessary for LLL. We each need to discover our own motivators. Here were a few motivator examples provided:

1)       We live in the information age and more than any time in history, life is all about information, getting it, processing it, interpreting it, understanding it and utilizing it. In such a world, learning is a core skill.

2)       Closely related to 1) is the reality of change. Life is constantly changing. The speed of change, the intensity of change, the power of change and the outcomes of changer are greater than ever before. In a world of change, success goes only to those who can keep up with the change. Those who do not change will not survive.

3)       Learning means growing. Think of words that describe the opposite of growth. Stunted, stagnant, stale, stuck, frustrated, inactive, regressing, retreating, boring, irrelevant, outdated, obsolete, aborted, complacent, etc. are words that describe the lack of growing and learning. Why would anyone want those words used to describe them?

4)       Your untapped potential will be tapped through the learning process. Without an active learning process/model, you will not achieve your true potential.

5)       There are many, many others….

What should I learn?… is about the direction. Where should I direct my learning energies? Here is where you tap into the question of what field or what area or what topic of study. This requires you to become self-aware of what is important, useful and necessary for your personal and professional life.

How can I learn?…is about the plan/strategy. This is very similar to what our staff has experienced in the A & D process in outlining an approach that explains in concrete, realistic ways – what you will do to learn what you want to learn.

Deep, meaningful, and transforming Life Long Learning doesn’t happen by accident. It requires discipline, sacrifice, hard work, and commitment…and yes, you may have to cut back on your nightly TV time if you’re serious about LLL.

Have you embraced LLL?

Do you have a plan?

What a great time to develop a plan… and start the learning journey as we enter 2010!

And remember –

LLL is a marathon, not a sprint. What matters most though is that you start the race well, and keep a good pace while realizing there are many more miles (and years) that lie ahead.

Categories: Leadership Tags:

How are you doing with Delegation?

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

We have all heard it before “…to be effective, you must learn to delegate”.

Very few of us do it well, and most of us struggle with it on a regular basis.

In a recent article I read written by a consultant to the CPA profession, it was estimated that many partners and other senior members in CPA firms often spent 60% to 80% of their time on tasks that they are comfortable doing, but which could easily have been done by someone at a lower staff level.  If this is even close to being accurate for you…imagine what you could accomplish if only you would “delegate” ½ of the so called 60-80% of work!

Here is what Peter Drucker says about delegation:

“I have never seen a knowledge worker confronted with his time record who did not rapidly acquire the habit of pushing on other people everything that he need not do personally. The first look at the time record makes it abundantly clear that there just is not time enough to do the things the executive himself considers important, himself wants to do, and is himself committed to doing. The only way he can get to the important things is by pushing on others anything that can be done by them.”

The Effective Executive, pp. 37-38

How Capable Leaders Blow It

“One of the ablest men I’ve worked with, and this is a long time back, was Germany’s last pre-World War II democratic chancellor, Dr. Heinrich Bruning. He had an incredible ability to see the heart of a problem. But he was very weak on financial matters. He should have delegated but he wasted endless hours on budgets and performed poorly. This was a terrible failing during a Depression and it led to Hitler. Never try to be an expert if you are not.

Build on your strengths and find strong people to do the other necessary tasks.

“Interview by Riuck Karlgarrd, Peter Drucker on Leadership,”, November 19, 2004

David Maister also weighs in on this topic…”It is the worst and most prevalent bad habit among professionals adversely affecting the interests of clients, partners and juniors. However, it is ingrained and takes a tough, insistent managerial program to remove it. There should be no tolerance for under-delegation.”

Which of the activities on your time log/calendar over the past month could have been done by somebody else?

Which activities do you continue to do mainly because “…you’re comfortable doing them”?

Which ones are routine, repetitive, or require very little skill?  Is it low-risk?

Still not certain what you can or should be delegating?…ask for and be willing to accept constructive feedback.

Your development as a professional and your contribution to your organization’s future successes can be accelerated by your mastery of delegation. Delegation techniques/processes can be learned. If you want to learn more about delegation, check out this blog post on Effective Delegation.

Categories: CPA, Leadership

Few do it well – from success to significance

December 5, 2009 7 comments

At least that’s my current observation.

Do most successful people, which you can define any way you like, reach their destination and quit? Well, maybe not quit, but do most enter a “maintenance mode”, doing only what they need to…to preserve their level of success? Playing it safe, taking no chances, holding on to stability.  Said another way, once they “arrive”, is coasting inevitable? Is it that they’ve hit a plateau? a wall? Have they given all they had, last chapter – end of story?

Lots of questions…just some of which have been in my observation and reflection lens recently.

My take aways from some recent readings show that a common characteristic of some individuals nearing the first half of their life, develop an unquenchable desire to move from success to significance. After spending a period of time doing what they were suppose to do, they now search for something in the second half that is more meaningful and which meets their definition of significance. This can be a restless, challenging & invigorating time. It can also be the time period which results in a midlife crisis – which unfortunately for  many lead to bad decisions, and a journey into the wilderness.

Here’s a quote that has been attributed to Peter Drucker, “people now have two lives — life one and life two…. They are over prepared for life one and under prepared for life two…there is no university for the second half of life.”

I want to go deeper into stories of those who navigated successfully this period of success to significance.

What are your observations?

Who do you know, and what are their stories that are shining examples of navigating from success to significance?

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

Is Time…the limiting factor to accomplishment?

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Over the past weeks I was engaged  in a number of conversations with professional staff that had a common theme…”time”. Here is a summary of what I heard:

“I didn’t get it done on time.”

“I couldn’t find the time.”

“I ran out of time.”

“If only I had more time.”

“I wasn’t given enough time.”

“There’s no time.”

Here is what  Peter Drucker has to say about time.

Time is your limiting resource and it is totally irreplaceable in your life. You cannot expand the amount of time you have available per day, week, or year, as you can expand your other resources such as capital and people.

Yet, everything you do requires your time. This means that your accomplishments and your effectiveness are set, or limited, by the way you manage your time, your scarcest resource.

Unless you manage your time, you will not be able to manage anything else. The management of your time, therefore, is the foundation for your effectiveness. And the good news is that you can manage your time and improve the management of your time with practice and with constant effort. (The Effective Executive, Chapter 2)


Effective people know that time is the limiting factor. The output limits of any process are set by the scarcest resource. In the process we call “accomplishment”, this is time.


Knowledge is useless to executives until it has been translated into deeds. But before springing into action, the executive needs to plan his course. He needs to think about desired results, probable restraints, future revisions, check-in points, and implications for how he’ll spend his time.

The action plan is a statement of intentions rather that a commitment….It should be revised often because every success creates new opportunities. So does every failure….A written plan should anticipate the need for flexibility.

In addition, the action plan needs to create a system for checking the results against expectations….

Finally, the action plan has to become the basis for the executive’s time management. Time is the executive’s scarcest and most precious resource. And organizations…are inherently time wasters. The action plan will prove useless unless it’s allowed to determine how the executive spends his or her time.

Peter F. Drucker, “What Makes an Effective Executive”, Harvard Business Review, June 2004, p.60

I read something recently that initially seemed to run contrary to Drucker, in that the writer made the following observation…”you can’t manage time”. And he went on to say that when you approach the issues you are dealing with from a “time” angle, you have little chance of being effective. His underlying premise was what you really manage is your activity during time. In other words, the focus needs to be redirected to the principles and systems that you use to make conscious decisions about the activities that occupy your time. He was in agreement with Drucker, just another way of saying the same thing.

If you’ve struggling with “time” issues, here are some questions to reflect on:

Do I consciously behave as though time is the limiting factor to my effectiveness?

Do I start and end my day with good time practices?

Am I respectful of others time?

Am I blaming others for my “time” issues?

Should I ask for the observation of others about my time management style?

Am I afraid about the truth about my existing time usage?

Am I afraid of missing wasteful activities I enjoy doing?

If you jot down your reflections on these questions, I’m certain you’ll find a few clues on how to improve your effectiveness…and thus, accomplishments!

Categories: Leadership Tags:

Vital Friends

November 30, 2009 1 comment

Stumbled across a book the other week titled Vital Friends, by Tom Rath. What caught my eye was that Mr. Rath had authored Strengths Finder 2.0(which I found fascinating), so I decided to see what he had to say about vital friends. I also was curious because I recognized a link to the book First Break All the Rules…and for those that read it perhaps you recall question #10 from the list of 12 questions…Do I have a best friend at work?

First, here are a few quotes from the press and a brief description of the book:

“A workplace without friends is an enemy.”
The Washington Post

“Friendships are good for business. Companies are coming to discover that, yet are at a loss at what to do about it. . . . what Gallup has uncovered about best friends stands out as novel.”
USA Today

“Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee.”
TIME magazine


What’s the quickest way to ruin a friendship? Do great friendships have anything in common? Are close friendships in the workplace such a bad thing?

These are just a few of the questions that #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath asked when he embarked on a massive study about the impact of friendships. Along with several leading researchers, Rath pored through the literature, conducted several experiments, and analyzed more than 8 million interviews from The Gallup Organization’s worldwide database.

His team’s discoveries produced Vital Friends, a book that challenges long-held assumptions people have about their relationships. And the team’s landmark discovery — that people who have a “best friend at work” are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job — is sure to rattle the structure of organizations around the world.

Drawing on research and case studies from topics as diverse as management, marriage, and architecture, Vital Friends reveals what’s common to all truly essential friendships: a regular focus on what each person is contributing to the friendship — rather than the all-too-common approach of expecting one person to be everything.


This book was a easy read facilitated by the fascinating study results. In his opening remarks, Tom Rath states “The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams, and organizations. Yet when we think consciously about improving our lives, we put almost all our effort into self-development….Throughout my professional life, I have attended countless development programs that aimed to make me more productive. Even when I have dedicated time to developing others, my attention has focused on each person’s self-development. I had it all wrong. The potential was hiding within each relationship in my life”.

Tom said he had it all wrong. It’s the energy between/within a friendship that’s incredibly powerful and worthy of our attention. We shouldn’t be surprised that Tom had it wrong, or that most of us do also. Our culture incessantly hits us over the head every day with self-development promotion and we become preoccupied with too much focus on me.

Do you have a vital friend?

Here is his definition of vital friend.

1.      someone who measurably improves your life.

2.      a person at work, or in your personal life whom you can’t afford to live without.

They also identified a more objective litmus test using the following questions:

If this person were no longer around, would your overall satisfaction with life decrease?

If this person were no longer a part of your life, would your achievement or engagement at work decrease?

If you can answer yes to either or both questions, then you have found a vital friend. And according to Tom Rath, if you strengthen these vital friendships, benefits that might accrue include:

·         an improvement in your physical health

·         more happiness on a day-to-day basis

·         increased engagement and achievement in your job

·         clear expectations between you and your spouse, relatives, friends, and coworkers

If you’re missing out on these vital friend benefits…the book is worth the quick read.

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