Turn On the Radio

Key Point: Organizations are currently working in parallel streams of reality and in almost different “centuries” at the same time. There is a work revolution going on; some say it’s the fourth industrial revolution. Emerging institutions like Singularity University and leading companies are helping to bring an exponential mindset to advanced organizations and their leaders. Companies like ours are flattening out, looking to drop decision making to the most appropriate levels, facilitating unprecedented forms of team work, moving at lightening “start-up” speed to get things done, helping people integrate work and life, and much more. This includes huge investments in people and feeding their insatiable curiosity and hungry growth mindset. We are getting rid of restrictive and backward thinking like seniority based holidays and sick time. People work from where the need to in order to achieve the best results. Everything in organization design and people/technology systems is about driving a high adaptability and results quotient, while we become obsessive about delivering relentless value so that customers FEEL we are indispensable. This is stimulating, hard, and even mind-bending work. It is necessary for survival and not some goofy egalitarian system gone wild. We are constantly looking to disrupt ourselves for a greater good! (And yes, of course, we are committed to being sustainably profitable). 

At the same time, I talked to someone recently who works for an organization where people could not get top leadership permission to turn on the radio in the “shop,” because workers might get distracted or pampered. Everyone knows working while listening to music results in a downward shift in productivity? Huh? People work in places just down the road from us where they still punch time cards. Or leaders genuinely still believe that people are out to screw them and have to be watched. I know employees who work for “bosses” that believe they ought to “kick ass” everyday and “recognition is for sissies.” Some organizations still require people to ask for permission to act like an adult. They believe people are replaceable and simply just a necessary component to running a business. If you ask the people managing those organizations what their purpose is, they will often describe what they transact at, rather than passionately outlining a deeply important reason to exist. Their “vision” is most often defined by EBITDA or revenue/net income (or the ever elusive “exit strategy”). Up-sell, cross sell, spin sell are part of their everyday vocabulary. And many of these companies are very financially successful, sometimes for decades. My question is, for how long? 

My hope and encouragement is for every entrepreneur out there to fiercely attack and put these backward organizations out of their fat, lazy, margin rich business. Look at companies that have high margin and yet have lots of friction and go after their market with a vengeance. Define a higher purpose, and be obsessively compulsive about real value for your customers. Measure how much you’ve helped and made a difference to them rather than squeezing them for every sales dollar. Your most important sales pipeline are crazy, happy customers that will publicly want to associate their brand with yours. Develop a people first system that attracts teammates who care about customers and the purpose of the business as much or even more than you!! And, right from the beginning, put in the latest technology and processes that make your customers literally say… “Wow.” Be relentlessly committed to having customers line up, metaphorically or actually for your product and service. Now here is the fun part: Create a business model that makes you 10x better than your competitors. This is not fantasy. It’s what the best entrepreneurial companies are doing! If you’re not willing or able to be an entrepreneur, then go work for someone who is. Stop working for people that treat you as a replaceable part because they will gladly oblige; it’s just a matter of time. Also, the “Christmas party” and mysterious annual bonus is NOT reflective of an advanced company. Here is a situation where size does NOT matter. A five person electrical contractor can apply all the modern leadership and reflect a great culture just as much as Google, Facebook, or ATB. Some might argue it’s even easier. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you haven’t already, join the revolution! You’re worth it! Become part of and fiercely contribute to something you deeply care about, and be sure that organization also deeply cares about the authentic, unique you! 
  1. Remember that you’re already an entrepreneur in a lot of ways. You likely are always looking to make things better (and not just a little better, but insanely better)!!  We are BIG VERBS! Be 10x big and think 10x BIG!

Tuned in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I’ve never worked directly in sales, but I know that if I was selling I’d have to completely, 100 percent believe in the product. I would have a tough time selling anything I didn’t fully understand, buy into, or hold dear. That said, an important question might be: Could you sell yourself your own job? Why is it worth 40 plus hours a week of investment to you? Or do you just own it because it’s better than nothing? First question: Do they even let you listen to the radio?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Thinking Harder and Smarter!

Key Point: Having a growth mindset is vital to successfully embrace continuous transformation. However, we need to be sure that we understand what a growth mindset really is. Note the following by Eduardo Briceño, the Co-Founder & CEO of Mindset Works, which he created with Carol Dweck, Lisa Blackwell and others to help people develop as motivated and effective learners. 

“When we ask people to tell us what the growth mindset is, we often get lots of different answers, such as working hard, having high expectations, being resilient, or more general ideas like being open or flexible. But a growth mindset is none of those things. It is the belief that qualities can change and that we can develop our intelligence and abilities. The opposite of having a growth mindset is having a fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and abilities cannot be developed. The reason that this definition of growth mindset is important is that research has shown that this specific belief leads people to take on challenges, work harder and more effectively, and persevere in the face of struggle, all of which makes people more successful learners.”

One aspect of mindset research that intrigues me is the following: “Students often haven’t learned that working hard involves thinking hard, which involves reflecting on and changing our strategies so we become more and more effective learners over time, and we need to guide them to come to understand this. For example, a novice teacher who sees a student trying very hard but not making any progress may think ‘well, at least she’s working hard, so I’ll praise her effort,’ but if the student continues to do what she’s doing, or even more of it, it’s unlikely to lead to success. Instead, the teacher can coach the student to try different approaches to working, studying, and learning, so that she is thinking more deeply (i.e. mentally working harder) to become a better learner, and of course the teacher should do the same: reflect on how to adjust instruction. ‘It’s not just about effort. You also need to learn skills that let you use your brain in a smarter way… to get better at something.’ (Yeager & Dweck, 2012.)”

Leaders in organizations can learn from this insight. People at all levels in companies are asking for more meaningful coaching and often well intended leaders do appreciate and recognize hard work. However, if you want to be a great coach, as noted in the research above, help people learn how to think harder and better! Ultimately coaching is aimed at improving performance. And learning how to think harder and better changes the mistakes we accept and make. Too often organization leaders (in the same spirit of encouraging learning), suggest that mistakes are always “good,” and this can confuse learners, as not all mistakes are the same. As an example, the people at Mindset Works are encouraging folks to start distinguishing stretch mistakes, sloppy mistakes, aha-moment mistakes, and high-stakes mistakes

Mistakes

 

Sloppy mistakes are connected with sloppy thinking and both the intentionally and learning outcome is low. So, accepting those mistakes does little for anyone. Stretch mistakes are the highest in both of learning opportunity and intentionality. There is much to be learned from stretch mistakes.

Character Moves:

  1. Remember the definition of a growth mindset. We ALL can grow intellectually, emotionally and by capability. Massive social transformation requires each of us to have a growth mindset. If you are stuck in a fixed mindset, then enjoy staying in that position.
  1. Having a growth mindset requires thinking harder and better rather than just working harder. Yes, we can further develop our intelligence and capabilities. But, it requires thinking differently along with doing differently. Challenge yourself about how you are developing as a thinker!
  1. Not all mistakes are created equally. Learn more about what a stretch mistake is versus other mistakes, and relevance to accelerating a growth mindset.

Harder and smarter in The Triangle 

Lorne

One Millennial View: Not only are growth mindsets extremely appreciated and crucial in the workplace, but fixed mindsets are transparent. It’s very obvious to workers when their leaders aren’t thinking hard, and just going through motions. It makes us feel equally stuck, and wonder “how can this place ever progress if our leaders aren’t willing to?” A leader’s lack of a growth mindset isn’t only keeping him or her stuck, it can negatively impact the whole team.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

I Love Purple Chicks!

Key Point: Innovation and even disruptive ideas are often right in front of us; just not in plain sight. The trick is to find ways to set these ideas FREE. Too often, they’re hiding in the wonderful minds of ALL the people around us. 

What would you do if predatory hawks were continuously eating over half of your baby chicks, the essence of sustaining your life as a chicken farmer? That was the recent experience of African chicken farmers. Raptors had come to treat their farms like an “all you can eat” chicken buffet. So these Tanzanian farmers, somewhat at their wit’s end as what to do, sat with an open mind to hear what their tribal elders might suggest to solve this big time problem. And what did these sage folks come up with as a solution? Hide the chicks in plain site! Huh? Yup, they brilliantly recommended painting the chicks with a bio degradable purple dye, thereby confusing the birds of prey. 

Purple

 

So the deal is hawks cannot recognize anything purple as edible to them. They can literally land in front of a purple chick and see something moving, just not lunch. The strategy had been very successful for the farmers. From losing 80 percent of their chicks they are now saving 80 percent; a huge turnaround and literally life changing (for both the farmers and baby chickens). 

This story was told by Terry O’Reilly after a customer dinner our company hosted this week. Terry is widely known as an advertising guru and the host of the hugely popular CBC radio show, “Under the Influence.” His soon to be released book “This I Know,” is a guaranteed best seller. Terry’s message in the purple chicken story was to stress the importance of ensuring psychological safety in all organizations so people at any level can freely propose ANY idea. This needs to be coupled with modern organization leadership, encouraging and expecting employees to unleash their own “purple chicken” ideas. Then leaders need to be open to receiving those ideas and putting that creativity to work. It is unacceptable to open up and promote more creativity with no way of executing. Painting the chicks was a great idea AND the farmers had to get the paint and then do it! 

Terry’s closing question to the dinner audience was: Imagine if you were the person in your tribe with the unorthodox proposal of painting the chicks purple. Who would really listen? Would people be open or would you get ignored and/or thrown out of the tribe? How does your culture really support innovation as a way of life?

 Character Moves:

  1. When it comes to finding solutions the best ones can be right there in the most obvious places; hiding like purple chickens right out in the open. We just need to be present enough to find and receive them. How good is your organization in tapping into your entire employee community for innovative solutions? How do you know? What evidence do you have? How do you do it? Improve on it? 
  1. Most of us are living in a world where the metaphorical hawks are circling above and happy to eat us for lunch. We actually do need innovation to come from outside and to assign people to help with that task. However, the biggest opportunity is INSIDE and finding ways to have people at every level think and act like there is no box. What can you do to better set ideas free? How many of your personal ideas have been executed on? How many are still hidden and out of sight? 

Painting purple in the Triangle, 

Lorne 

One Millennial View: One of my favorite components of working in digital media is the ability to try, adapt, and try again. Thanks to low overhead, a failed idea or project doesn’t always cost much in digital. It can also be improved upon in real time… Look at your favorite podcasts, YouTube channels, and other digital productions. They’ve likely changed format, evolved, dropped some segments, adopted others, and responded to user feedback. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just chicken feathers turning purple over time, and fortunately no hawks get to gobble up the entire coop in the process. It’s gratifying when we know feathers can change colors.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Glassdoor Leadership and You

Key Point: If you were asked to rate your direct leader based on whether you would want your best friend or adult child to work for them, would it be thumbs up or down? What about if the same question was asked regarding you? Now write down or think of one succinct phrase to describe the essence of that leader. What would others write about you?

Inc. Magazine published an article noting that Glassdoor recently released a listing of the highest ranked U.S. CEOs based on employee feedback.

According to Inc, “While every CEO in this group has their warts, this prestigious group has managed to be human while still winning the hearts of their employees. The following is a representative sampling of Glassdoor employee feedback on why these CEOs — and the cultures they’ve created — top the most ‘admired.’”

  1. “Bob Bechek – Bain and Company

Bob holds his people accountable but never leaves them alone. He never lets his employees fail.

  1. Scott Scherr – Ultimate Software

Scott takes care of his employees — and their families — so they in turn feel proud and empowered to take care of their customers.

  1. Dominic Barton – McKinsey & Company

Dominic provides flexibility in the way his employees work, so long as they take ownership for the results.

  1. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

Mark maintains a spirit of openness — from secret projects to business metrics. Anything and everything is on the table for discussion.

  1. Jeff Weiner – LinkedIn

Jeff emphasizes career development and company advancement. Every employee is asked a to plan their “next play.”

  1. Marc Benioff – Salesforcew

Marc has his employees spend 1 percent of their time giving back to their communities and charities of choice.

  1. Sundar Pichai – Google

Sundar makes it a practice to allow employees to work on virtually anything they find interesting.

  1. Tim Cook – Apple

At Apple, Tim makes sure employees receive effective coaching, but never let’s his employees feel battered or belittled.

  1. Joseph Sivewright – Nestlé Purina PetCare

When others are cutting back, Joseph invests in tools, resources and training to help his employees become their best selves.

  1. Jim Whitehurst – Red Hat

Red Hat is for geeks, and Jim rewards “hackers” — the lifeblood of his organization.”

When you read the above, some common themes emerge: Deep caring and coaching for the success of others, providing  employees autonomy and room to fully contribute, investing in people above all else, transparency and openness, being self-accountable and expect the same from others.

Character Moves:

  1. Evaluate your personal leadership environment regarding the “Glassdoor 4 Leadership Themes”: Autonomy, care, self-accountability, and transparency. Where can you get better? 
  2. What micro or big bold steps might you take to advance each of these four leadership elements? If living these values work for the top CEOs in the U.S., why wouldn’t they work for you? 

People first in the Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: What a helpful article. I think sometimes people in the work force put these top companies and CEOS on an unattainable, unrealistic pedestal. Almost as though the care, autonomy, self-accountability and transparency is only offered at these top tier places, like that Ivy league school you were never going to get into. There’s no rule that says you can’t expect the same from your leaders, and practice these virtues yourself, just because you’re not walking into a Fortune 500 company every day.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
Read more about Lorne Rubis

Listen to Lorne's latest podcasts

Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

Breathe fire: Leading and inspiring ourselves

Asking for feedback: The why

Taking on a new role: Lorne's journey

Lessons from Dot: Integrating technology into workplace culture

 

The Character Triangle Companion

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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

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