Clinton “mispoke” –A good reminder for us all

Clinton's gaffe about her trip to Bosnia, which you can read about here, brings to light an interesting dilemma.  Exaggerating facts has long been a technique used by storytellers. In fact, I once interviewed an author who would occasionally exaggerate facts about "true" stories and saw it as enhancement, rather than lying. Ancient story tellers use to begin stories by declaring, "I want to tell you a true story, but I'm not sure it happened this way."

It's clear that in our culture, Clinton describing the scene as a war zone--with bullets flying--is going to be challenged. Not only is the media looking into every word she's saying, but the account of the trip is plastered all over the Internet--including video. Her exaggeration was certainly used for effect, regardless of what she says about mis-remembering. We've probably all done this, or at least have been tempted to exaggerate facts in order to maximize our image.

Perhaps that ancients had the right idea: wait until the story is old enough and all the characters in the story are long gone, before you change things up. Who knows, it's also quite possible that the ancients, due to the oral tradition that permeated their culture, just couldn't remember all the facts of the story and added what they "thought" might have occurred.

Inflating the story to inflate my ego or image is where trouble is bound to surface.

Clinton “mispoke” –A good reminder for us all2008-03-25T07:21:06-04:00

Framing Change

Two posts ago, I wrote about change and the need to frame it in a positive manner. Leaders often go to great lengths to prepare for change and deliver the news about change in a positive manner (including media presentations, balloons, lunches, guest speakers, you name it). After the early hype, leaders--often unwittingly--send less then positive vibes about the change.

1) After the announcement, they disappear

    One of the unfortunate consequences of a couple of decades of focus on "leader as visionary" is that leaders believe their role is done after the announcement. When leaders believe their role is "to vision" and everyone else's role is "to execute" trouble is bound to emerge. I'm not advocating micromanagement, but true involvement in process.

2) They delegate to much of the ongoing strategy to others

     Because of the "leader as visionary" mindset, leaders also have viewed strategy as something that occurs during the vision process (up front), rather than as an ongoing adaptation that allows the organization to alter and reform the vision when internal and/or external forces require it.

3) They complain about reactions and slow progress

     Senior leaders deflate positive change, when they step away from the podium and roll their eyes or complain incessantly that "people aren't getting it." Further, they can damage a vibe by sitting in their office (back to number 1) and sniping at progress.

So...instead, a leader should:

    1) Stay close to people during the change

    2) Remain a chief strategist throughout the process

    3) Create urgency and engender productivity through inspiration

Framing Change2008-03-24T07:21:28-04:00

Ah, the plight of unintended consequences

OK, so here's a story that highlights the reality and conundrum of unintended consequences. Seems like generating revenue through poor driving may be more important then...well, safe driving.

Be careful what you wish for...

Ah, the plight of unintended consequences2008-03-21T05:55:00-04:00

How you frame change makes all the difference

Staying with the idea of change...

Change is happening everywhere. Large, tectonic-like change. We all have our fears about change, no doubt. So, if you put those two statements together, it can make for a kind of depressing realization. Change happens (a lot) and I'm probably (in some way) afraid of it.

Some people will say, "Oh, not me. I'm not afraid of change. I love change."

I agree some of us are wired to integrate change more easily. However, I find most of the time when someone says they love change is that the change they love is the change they can control. If the change takes them out of control, um... that's a different story.

Since change is the norm and since it produces fear (at some level) and since we cannot live in perpetual fear, we must frame change in a positive manner. In other words, change is easier to navigate if we know it is good for us.

Positive change.

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is that they don't frame change in a positive manner. Oh, they may give a positive speech about change, but their actions after the speech, betray their words.

So what's a leader to do? Stay tuned.

How you frame change makes all the difference2008-03-20T06:00:00-04:00

Change or ___ ____ ____ ….oh ya, you know. Why Charles Darwin was right

I recently listened (via iTunes) to Carly Fiorina speak to students at Stanford. You can download it for free at iTunes. Just type in her name and it should pop up.

At one point in the lecture, she talked about the need for adaptive behavior in the new economy. Leaders and people in organizations must be adaptable she postulated because of the rules of the new economy. She quoted Darwin:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those most adaptive to change.


Basically, change or d i e.

The trouble with many organizations is that the people in the organization see change as something to endure--something of an anomaly that will (hopefully) end as soon as possible. If Darwin was right on adaptation, which of course he was, then we should be able to apply the idea to organizations. And, of course, we can. The leaders and organizations that survive, not to mention thrive, are those that understand adaptability and are not afraid of it.

The status quo is very alluring. Just ask K-Mark or Kodak, or even Dell.

Change is hard, no doubt. But, consider the alternative.

Change or ___ ____ ____ ….oh ya, you know. Why Charles Darwin was right2008-03-19T06:00:00-04:00

Throw a party (Dave Grohl on Nirvana)

I recently re-listened to an interview of Dave Grohl, leader of the foo fighters and former drummer of Nirvana.

At one point in the interview, Grohl spoke of Nirvan's rise to success as "something we never really expected." The band was more interested in playing music than with attracting crowds. When the crowds came, Grohl was asked if that changed the band. He replied, "no," because it was never the goal. Then he said this:

We threw a party and everyone came.


When it comes to your skills and passions, as well as the core business of your organization, why not do the same. Why not throw a party (do something remarkable) and let people discover why it's worth attending. If it is, they will.

Throw a party (Dave Grohl on Nirvana)2008-03-18T06:00:00-04:00

When form gets in your way

Recently I was deciding whether or not to spend money on a book (digital format). I went to the author's website. In his field, he is one of the best, hands down. I clicked on a video clip of him teaching a seminar. He was engaging, funny, witty, substantive and competent.

I returned to iTunes almost convinced to buy the book. I clicked on the preview button just to hear a snippet of the content before purchasing. What I heard was this same energetic and engaging man reading his book in monotonous tones. Boring.

Why would this man let the form (reading) get in the way of his engaging style? Did he have to read the book? Could he have created a seminar-like approach to reading? Could he have simply read the book with a little life?

Interesting how the form dictated to him what his style would be rather than the other way around.


When form gets in your way2008-03-17T06:00:00-04:00

Chemistry (for a team) Matters

I grew up being disappointed by the Phoenix Suns.

Of course, the Suns are a really good team these days, although the disappointment continues since they've not yet won a championship. With the arrival of Shaq, one would think this might be the year for the Suns to go all the way. Yet, the team has struggled to integrate Shaq. Here's one sports writer's view of Shaq and the team.

The fact is that teams have a chemistry that shouldn't necessarily be messed with. Shaq, great as he has been, is to old to keep up with the fast paced Suns.

Here's the point: Before you bring a new teammate onto your team (or into your organization) make sure you consider the implications of doing so. How will the new teammate change the chemistry or make up of the team? Just because he or she is a star, doesn't mean it's the right move. And, if it is the right move, make sure you work hard to integrate the team with the new member. It won't just happen accidentally.

Chemistry (for a team) Matters2008-03-16T09:11:41-04:00

Conflict management or transformation?

I just sat through a staff meeting. The leader is a person I'm coaching. The team is filled with highly capable wonderful human beings. The staff meeting itself was, well, a little dry. I suppose most staff meetings are--at least occasionally.

What was interesting was this: the energy piqued whenever there was the potential for conflict. By conflict, I don't mean a knock down drag out fight. Rather when ever the group was faced with a dilemma that required a resolution, the energy spiked.

There are a number of conclusions I could draw from this. Here's one: conflict leads, at least can lead, to transformation. It's when we are faced with ambiguity and uncertainty, that the potential for growth is high.

So, do you really want to "manage" conflict, or let it transform you?

Conflict management or transformation?2008-03-04T10:36:56-05:00