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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Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Employed

A CEO client of mine has been asking his senior executives to be more “entrepreneurial” in their approach to the business, and he is certainly not the first one to do so.

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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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The Ethics of Symbolism

There is nothing inherently wrong with symbolism. It is only symbolism that masquerades inaction that is unethical and destructive.

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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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Conversation with Visa Japan Country Manager Seiji Yasubuchi

On April 3rd, I conducted an onstage conversation with Visa Japan Country Manager, Seiji Yasubuchi, at the Tokyo American Club for the American and French Chambers of Commerce in Japan. We had a full house!

Here are my takeaways from my discussion with Seiji.

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Authority Isn’t Empowerment

Empowerment is like breathing. We all recognize its need but we’re rarely aware of it until something is wrong. Passivity in business is the most common symptom of lack of empowerment. Continue reading


Identify Cause. Never Presume.

The CEO of a well-known US company in Japan contacted me recently to ask whether I thought flatter organizational structures are better than more hierarchical ones. He learned that vital information from the ranks was not getting to him fast enough and thought that a flatter structure might resolve the problem. He was, in fact, asking the wrong question, because his question presumes cause is organizational structure, whereas it might not be.

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