Friday, June 17, 2016

Working Away: On #Outsiders, Management, Leadership, Daring To Dream & #FathersDay

I am approaching a milestone here in my "Virtual Space" as I have used this to reflect upon the journey at @DailyOutsider -as a milestone was reached with the 100th posting and share personal reflections on our World.     As I approach the 200th post here , I wanted to begin by sharing a fabulous series of retrospectives on Leadership & Management I reviewed this week courtesy of Geoff Colvin at Fortune whose PowerSheet is a daily must read for me.  This recent snapshot of leadership in action was fabulous to review:

Today’s news offers three inspiring examples of leaders doing what true leaders do: going where others won't go.
-Uber raises still more capital outside of public markets. Back when “the sharing economy” was first hot, plenty of companies jumped on the trend and went nowhere. Remember Ecomodo, Crowd Rent, Share Some Sugar, and OhSoWe? Me neither, but Fast Company recounted the story last year. Uber founder Travis Kalanicksucceeded where they didn’t by thinking through the market potential of his idea and designing his business model more carefully than anyone else. As the company has succeeded spectacularly, he has rejected conventional thinking by refusing to go public, instead raising capital from venture firms, big institutions, strategic investors (like Microsoft), and a Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
Now he’s borrowing $3.5 billion. But wait – if you borrow that much, won’t you have to register with the SEC and file financial reports that disclose competitive information, thus losing a big advantage of staying private? No. Uber is borrowing all that money as a leveraged loan, originated by banks and then sold to big institutions, not to the public. So even at a valuation of $68 billion, Uber won’t have to give up valuable information to competitors.
-IEX Group is likely to get government approval for a new stock exchange. If you read Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys, you know how this unlikely story started. Now sources tell the WSJ that the SEC staff will recommend approval of the bid by Brad Katsuyama and the company he formed, IEX Group, to start a new stock exchange. The formal vote is expected Friday. Katsuyama’s simple innovation is to add an electronic speed bump to trading, hindering ultra-high-frequency traders that he and some big mutual funds have called abusive.
The proposal has been extraordinarily controversial, drawing vehement attacks from established markets such as Nasdaq. Some opponents warn the system would force traders to rely on “stale quotes.” It’s all a little hard for average investors to understand: IEX wants to delay trades by less than one-thousandth of a second. Katsuyama thought that would be a big deal, and he was right.
-Starbucks makes millions of dollars a year just by holding customers’ money.Retailer loyalty programs are not a new idea. Neither are stored-value cards. But 15 years ago Starbucks had an idea for combining them and pushing them hard when most retailers didn’t quite see the point. Now Starbucks customers in the U.S. and Canada make 41% of their transactions using those cards, reports MarketWatch, and the company holds $1.2 billion of customers’ money. That’s more float thanDiscover Financial Services. CEO Howard Schultz has always run Starbucks differently from competitors, to the point where it’s getting hard to say just who its competitors are.

I have been periodically reaching out to Geoff and he has been gracious enough to me and I look forward to his insights.     This next one is from Fortune's Alan Murray where he compiled a list of Leadership lessons for us all to consider on teamwork:

What's the best management advice you've ever received? That was one question we asked Fortune 500 CEOs in our annual survey. Their answers were terse, but enlightening. We offer you the best, below.

The most frequent theme was to focus on building the right team:

"You are no better than your team."

"Surround yourself with great people, and great things happen!"

"Hire the best people and give them the freedom to operate their business/dept., demand transparent communication and hold them accountable for the results."

Also frequently mentioned: "Listen":

"You have 2 ears and one mouth - use them in this ratio."

"Listen more then move with speed."

"Lead with questions, not answers."

The need to be ruthless in setting priorities was also a popular topic:

" Focus on one or two top priorities."

"Spend your time on the important, not the urgent."

"Focus your energy on a few things and delegate the rest."

And pacing was on the minds of many:

"It's a marathon, not a sprint."

"Nothing wrong with getting rich slowly."

"Don't get too low with the lows or too high with the highs."

"Start small, fail fast, scale quickly."

The importance of values in an age of transparency was another recurrent theme:

"Leadership is built on a foundation of values and only with strong values will our efforts to lead be sustainable and successful long-term."

"Always operate with integrity and excellence."

"Tell the truth."

"Do everything as if it will be on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow."

And then there were a few random chestnuts:

"Don't screw up."

"Prepare, prepare, prepare!"

"Company first, career second."

"Leadership is action, not position."

"Take your vitamins, you'll need them."

I have had the pleasure to periodically reach out to Alan as  well and he has been every so gracious.

As I have been On the prowl constantly as I work to formulate my own research roadmap for my Ph.D., one of the resources I have come to embrace and have also added to my daily required readings is What Peter Diamandis does.    For those who do not who he is, he is the guy behind the X-Prize, Singularity University,  and other very cool initiatives.    I recently bought the Visioner Movie that is as good as it gets in terms of  underscoring the true art of the possible.    This recent newsletter  he talked about disruption and the lessons of Kodak that I am still trying to absorb: 

But you have to disrupt yourself, or someone else will.  During his time at Lotus and Kodak, Ed learned a lot about what not to do.   Here are 10 things you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid disruption.

Eight Don’ts – How Not To Be Disrupted

  1. Don’t close out your options too early: For Kodak, they decided they weren’t going to be in the digital camera business. As a result, they stopped devoting resources to digital before it was too late. Don’t eliminate new products, new markets and new opportunities from your possible pipeline.
  2. Don’t be tied to your history: As Ed relayed, “You have way more ahead of you than behind you… bringing the dead weight of your legacy from your past into the future can be detrimental to the business.” Just because Kodak was in the paper-and-chemicals business doesn’t mean they can’t be something else.
  3. Don’t be overly attached to your existing business: All existing products/services will be disrupted, and revenues will eventually go to zero. Don’t be attached to them. You have to move with technology and the market. This is hardest when you are profitable, like Kodak. You must be aware that you’re most vulnerable when you’re doing well.
  4. Don’t ignore the signals: Ed mentioned, “It’s easy to see that little disruptive force on the horizon and think to yourself, “Boy I hope that thing goes away,” or, “I hope if I ignore that, it’s just not going to happen.” Don’t ignore them. Your biggest threats are probably in the deceptive phrase.
  5. Don’t be tentative: Kodak built the first digital camera. But they were tentative. They didn’t want to put their name on it. Don’t be tentative; be bold. Don’t play defense – spend money on accelerating (we’ll get to this in a second).
  6. Don’t say, “We can’t do X because it is not the way we do things”: “It’s not the way we do it” is never a good enough argument NOT to try something new…
  7. Don’t worry about the big guys: When looking at potential disruptions, don’t worry about the big companies. They are usually (with some exceptions) slow-moving and tentative, ironically enough (see Kodak and Lotus). Instead, you should be worrying about the small guys in a garage. They have nothing to lose. Try to find them… invest in them, partner with them or hire them.
  8. Don’t fret! You are fighting against billions of years of human evolution. We have evolved to be linear thinkers. Just keep trying to innovate and avoid doing the things above. And keep reading.
Now let’s talk about a few things you CAN do to disrupt yourself.

Six Do’s of Disruption: How to Disrupt Yourself

  1. Disrupt your adjacencies: It’s hard to disrupt yourself; few companies have ever done this. So instead, try to disrupt your suppliers and/or your customers. You can disrupt your suppliers by vertically integrating and building business around the systems that power your existing business. You can disrupt your customers by looking at the other products and services they are already using and build better ones. Apple, Amazon and Google are all great at both of these.
  2. Build the best products, or get a piece of them: The best product wins. Either build the best product in your category, or if you can’t, find a way to get a piece of the best one.
  3. Be agile: Agility is everything. Make sure you have the right culture and people to support agility. Oftentimes organizations have an immune response to new innovations – instead, try to make innovation and change a part of your culture.
  4. Watch your customers, then listen to them: It sounds intuitive, but it’s not. As Ed mentioned, Lotus saw that their customers were switching to Excel. Then they heard them say they preferred it. And yet they didn’t do much about it. Your customers are your lifeblood. Listen to them and adapt to them.
  5. Build a Skunkworks: Ed mentioned, “I would have loved to have had a business inside Kodak whose job it was to totally destroy the core business.” I’ve talked about this idea before – you need to create a safe, secure place for innovation to happen.
  6. Have an abundance mindset: As Ed puts it, “There is more ahead of you than behind you.” Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.


Phil Knight quotes

Out of the 38 quotes, the one about Daring to take chances especially resonated as I continue supporting the work at the Daily Outsider with its' Political, Technical, Social and Educational Focus.  It is a challenging journey--no doubt.    

As I have been finishing off these thoughts, I am also stepping back a bit on this Father's Day Weekend.   It was a joyful moment for me as I updated my profile page on Facebook remembering and being so grateful for all that my own Father has done and the joy I had to hang out with my Maternal Grandfather.     I was young when my paternal grandfather passed away--but I had a chance to hang out with him and remain ever so grateful.     

One Grateful Soul.....

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