AI-Induced Atrophy

For some, artificial intelligence and automation in business herald a new era of increased productivity. For others, these are a harbinger of job obsolescence and layoffs.

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Ownership is Taken, Never Given

A leader can never give anyone ownership of a business initiative or objective.

Ownership is always taken, and to take ownership requires the will to do so. A leader can no more give someone ownership than a leader can give someone will.

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Culture Change Manifesto

I define culture as norms of behaviors based on shared beliefs. When a leader says he or she wants to change the culture of his or her company, the ultimate goal is always to change norms of behaviors.

If I want to understand the culture of a company, all I need to do is observe which behaviors are encouraged and rewarded, which are discouraged and penalized, and which are the behaviors to which people are indifferent. I can understand the beliefs that drive those behaviors by asking questions.

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No One is Shooting at You

Years ago, I was having coffee with an entrepreneur who, at the time, was bootstrapping a software business. He had been a CIA operative during the Vietnam War, and told me about the time he had spent with a multinational special forces unit in Laos.

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Empathy Trumps Projection

Projection and empathy are not the same thing, but they are often confused. Empathy is the ability to understand how someone is thinking, whereas projection is presuming a person thinks like you. Be careful not to project when it is empathy that you intend. Continue reading


Ideology is No Ersatz for Strategy

A friend of mine recently observed that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to deter a Chinese seizure of the disputed Senkaku Islands makes no sense.

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Forget Recruiting. Poach.

Don’t recruit. Poach. In a tight labor market, there is no percentage in tentativeness. If there is any time to go on the offense, it is now.

I don’t know why recruiting firms call what they do a “search.” Who cares about a search? A search is easy, and often consists of little more than trawling through LinkedIn. Continue reading


Increase Your Attrition

Many companies are struggling to find the qualified people they need, so they resort to retaining the people they have whether qualified or not. They fight to eliminate or at least reduce rates of attrition when it is increased attrition that can do the business the most good. Retention of the best is all that matters.

Recently, the head of a large business unit of a major international company here in Japan told me that the company’s rate of attrition is of no particular concern to him, even though it is higher than industry average.

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