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 Has a Five-Year Strategy

No one has a five-year strategy, or even a three-year strategy much less a twenty-year strategic plan.

How much do you think Blackberry’s five-year strategy meant the day that Apple announced the iPhone? Business conditions are too unpredictable for most strategic plans to mean anything even beyond six months, and even that might be too long. Continue reading

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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No More New Strategy Tools

In photography, new cameras do not make for better art, just as in strategy, new tools do not make for better business results.

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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

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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