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Classic: What is success? Do You Have the Will to Lead and Answer the Toughest Questions? - Peter Koestenbaum

Classic:  What is success?  Do You Have the Will to Lead and Answer the Toughest Questions? - Peter Koestenbaum | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

Philosopher Peter Koestenbaum poses the truly big questions: How do we act when risks seem overwhelming? What does it mean to be a successful human being?

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How can we muster the guts to burn our bridges and to create a condition of no return?

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{Have you asked yourself:]  How in the world did I get here? Or wrestled with ...strategic choices -- all of which seem hard and unpleasant -- and said, What happened to the fun part of being in business? According to Peter Koestenbaum, those uncomfortable questions -- those existential quandaries -- are at the root of issues that great leaders deal with all the time, and they influence every decision that must be made.
  
More than 25 years ago, Koestenbaum traded the cloistered halls of academia for the front lines of the global economy. It's not unheard-of for this philosopher, a tireless 71-year-old with thick glasses and a flowing beard, to visit clients across three continents in a single week. His agenda: to apply the power of philosophy to the big question of the day -- how to reconcile the often-brutal realities of business with basic human values -- and to create a new language of effective leadership. ...The more you understand the human condition, the more effective you are as a businessperson. Human depth makes business sense."

     

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Change -- true, lasting, deep-seated change -- is the business world's biggest and most persistent challenge. 

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Koestenbaum's wisdom makes sense to leaders at such giant organizations as Ford, EDS, Citibank, Xerox, Ericsson, and even one of Korea's chaebols. ... At Ford, Koestenbaum contributed to the company's 2,000-person Senior Executive Program throughout the 1980s. In more than a decade at EDS, he led seminars and coached hundreds of top executives, including then-chairman Les Alberthal. 


"Everything I do," says Koestenbaum, "is about using themes from the history of thought to rescue people who are stuck." His logic: Change -- true, lasting, deep-seated change -- is the business world's biggest and most persistent challenge. But too many people and too many companies approach change by treating it as a technical challenge rather than by developing authentic answers to basic questions about business life. 


WHY DOES BEING A LEADER FEEL SO HARD TODAY?

Because reckoning with freedom is always hard ...We're living in a peculiar time: It's marked by a soaring stock market, the creation of tremendous wealth, an explosion in innovation, and the acute alienation that occurs when the global economy hits the average individual. 

The message is, You're living in the best country in the world at the best time in history; you have an amazing degree of freedom to do what you want, along with an unprecedented opportunity to build immense wealth and success -- and to do it more quickly than ever before. Of course, the average individual has as much of a chance of launching a skyrocketing IPO as he or she has of becoming a movie star. 

       
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There's a terrible defect at the core of how we think about people and organizations today. ...There is little or no tolerance for the kinds of character-building conversations that pave the way for meaningful change.

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What's even more disturbing is that the ascendancy of shareholder value as the dominant driving force in business has resulted in a terrible insensitivity to basic human values. 

THAT'S A HEAVY BURDEN TO PLACE ON LEADERS. THEY MUST NOT ONLY GUIDE ORGANIZATIONS BUT ALSO WRESTLE WITH BASIC PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS.


There's a terrible defect at the core of how we think about people and organizations today. There is little or no tolerance for the kinds of character-building conversations that pave the way for meaningful change. The average person is...riveted by the objective domain...where our metrics are; that's where we look for solutions. ...That's why books and magazines that have numbers in their titles sell so well.


We'll do anything to avoid facing the basic, underlying questions: How do we make truly difficult choices? How do we act when the risks seem overwhelming? How can we muster the guts to burn our bridges and to create a condition of no return?

     

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...Managing polarity teaches us that there are no solutions -- there are only changes of attitude. 
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There's nothing wrong with all of those technical solutions. They're excellent; they're creative; they're even necessary. But they shield us from the real issues: What kind of life do I want to lead? What is my destiny? How much evil am I willing to tolerate?

      

...Managing polarity teaches us that there are no solutions -- there are only changes of attitude. When you grapple with polarities in your life, you lose your arrogant, self-indulgent illusions, and you realize that the joke is on you. To get that message makes you a more credible human being -- instantly. 

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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

I've recently learned that this classic article is the most downloaded article from Fast Company.  If you read it, you'll see why.  It asks the beautiful, and extraordinarily difficult questions about business and life. Changing perspective, and ultimately changing attitudes, is the big challenge in making lasting change fully sustainable.~  D

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From Twitter to a new kind of company with no managers, a "Holocracy"

From Twitter to a new kind of company with no managers, a "Holocracy" | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

“Management perspective looks at reports as resources – like how can you get the maximum value out of this person,” Stirman says. “But when I think resources, I think like natural gas or coal mines. Thinking about a person’s life that way just seemed really dehumanizing.”


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He started spending one-on-one meetings talking to his reports about their lives, instead of their tasks, and productivity shot through the roof.

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Frustrated with poor results, he decided to go off script. He started spending one-on-one meetings talking to his reports about their lives, instead of their tasks, and productivity shot through the roof.
 

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“We don’t have a hierarchy of people, we have a hierarchy of circles.”

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“When you sit across a table from someone, ask them ‘What’s going on in your life?’ That will always remove more hurdles than asking them ‘What’s blocking you at work?’” he said.

Stirman hit another wall trying to shield his team from external drama and politics. “Classic management advice, and all my mentors told me that insulating your team from things so they won’t worry will make them more productive and happier,” he says. “But they just got angry, and confused, and disconnected. I was constantly censoring all this information and they were way happier when they knew everything.”

...“The structure is totally built around the work the company needs to achieve its purpose,” Stirman explains. “We don’t have a hierarchy of people, we have a hierarchy of circles.”


...But Medium isn’t just taking a revolutionary approach to digital publishing – it’s changing the way companies operate too. As one of the fiercest and most faithful adopters of Holacracy – a radical new theory of corporate structure – Medium is experimenting with a completely management-free environment that’s laser focused on getting things done. 


Read more: http://ow.ly/nKJBL

 


Related posts by Deb:

    
   

 

 

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

I have to wonder why this antiquated old-school management advice is still circulating to the likes of of this younger, IT saavy crowd.  Old habits die hard.  

This detailed article cites the positive side of letting go to embrace something very new.  The leader-writer, Jason Stirman, not a manager,  discovered a diverse motivations tool that seems to work for his group, and is in for the long haul on the manager-less experiment with Holacracy.   ~  Deb



 

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Marie Jeffery's curator insight, August 10, 2013 12:02 PM

Thanks for drawing our attention to this excellent post, Deb Nystrom!

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Tyranny of the Queen Bee

Tyranny of the Queen Bee | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

"Is something is amiss in the professional sisterhood?"

The term "queen bee syndrome" was coined in the 1970s, following a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan...who examined promotion rates and the impact of the women's movement on the workplace.


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...the patriarchal culture of work encouraged the few women who rose to the top to become obsessed with maintaining their authority.

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...They found that women who achieved success in male-dominated environments were at times likely to oppose the rise of other women.



Four decades later, the syndrome still thrives... The very women who have complained for decades about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by turning on their own.


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...female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time—up 9% since 2007.

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In 2010, the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national education and advocacy group, reported that female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time—up 9% since 2007.


Male bullies, by contrast, were generally equal-opportunity tormentors.



Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

There was syncronicity here:  that the term "Queen Bee" originated at my alma mater, University of Michigan, where I ALSO experienced the term in use, as a young-un in my 20s in my first professional position.


It's the stories and commentary here that move this post to Change Leader Watch.


In the comments Susan Nierenberg writes:  “Leaders Pay It Forward,” debunks the Queen Bee myth. The findings show that women do indeed help other women get ahead.   In fact, the study found that women leaders are more likely to develop new female talent than men are!


65% percent of women who received career development support are now developing new talent, compared to 56% percent of men—and 73% of the women developing new talent are developing other women, compared to 30 percent of men!   


I still see the syndrome and bullying as a problem today from other sources.   However, Susan's references are worth a look.


~  Deb 

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The 9 Types of Collaborators [Infographic]

The 9 Types of Collaborators [Infographic] | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

One size does not fit all. User adoption is no exception.

 

This infographic provides some perspectives on engagement and how commitment may develop.  Useful as a thinking piece to examine your approach to change leadership.


Via Jonha Revesencio
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Martin (Marty) Smith's comment, November 18, 2011 4:26 AM
Thanks to maxOz for this excellent infographic and added maxOz to Scoop.it I'm thankful for http://www.scoop.it/t/thank-you
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Beginning to See the Light - Universities Adapt

"American universities are exiting a period of denial to grasp that they must remake themselves, beginning by understanding their place in society."

Go to the 30 minutes mark in to hear a 5 minute forecast by Huron [Consulting] managing director, Education leader, Edwin Eisendrath. 

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Today there is disequilibrium. Once a few universities get it right..it will be very exciting.

    

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Excerpts (not in order):

American universities are ...making their operations more efficient, deferring capital expenditures, and professionalizing management.

    

Faculty needs support.  Smart administrations are building easy to travel roads that faculty can use.

   

Universities are beginning to challenge publish or perish with new incentives, annual review on tenure process, social incentives for faculty - social networks that are institution based rather than discipline based.
    
Today there is disequilibrium. Once a few universities get it right..it will be very exciting.

 

Other excerpts:
Examples of turbulence: President Teresa Sullivan - formerly provost of the University of Michigan, at University of Virginia - hired, fired, rehired.


Good news, Universities are figuring this out. The University of Michigan is beginning to prepare for the public engagement for how to reach out and listen.

     

Questions for universities & colleges what’s changing:

  • Vision (markets, values, direction, needs), 
  • Incentives, support, 
  • Governance
  • Direction of money
  • Capacity to compete
  • National identity, context for the place of universities in society - role will need to be different
  • New or alternative paths to employment:


“A paper on King Lear may lead somewhere, unlike the

rather far-fetched play of the same name. It may be

a stepping-stone to the Local Government Board.

…As long as learning is connected with earning,

as long as certain jobs can only be reached

through exams, [and we]…we take the

examination system seriously.

If another ladder to employment were contrived,

much so-called education would disappear,

and no one be a penny the stupider.”

                                

                                         ~ E.M. Forster, Aspects of a Novel


Related tools from Deb:

               

 


Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

This consulting firm director shares examples of how higher education, using technology tools for efficiencies & re-examining how the environment has dramatically changed, is adapting and experimenting with new approaches, now.

     


Examples include:  
     

  • Rethinking publish or perish for faculty, and faculty support

     

  • Administrative  collaboration with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and
        
  • Georgetown, Washington, DC - Offers short courses on how policy gets made, with government leaders. 

         

  • Governor of Wisconsin - with its high unemployment rate, is exploring college credits and competencies to build a system that is competency based to help Wisconsin residents get credit for learning and access further online education.

~  D
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What Nassim Taleb Misses About Technology and Innovation

What Nassim Taleb Misses About Technology and Innovation | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

"What Nassim Taleb misses about technology and innovation is that its purpose is not to entertain the delicate tastes of the chattering classes, but to improve the lives of us all.  ...What’s more, most of technology’s black swans are positive ones."


Excerpts: The Usefulness Of Useless Things


What Mr. Taleb fails to understand is that technologists are supremely aware that most of their efforts will come to nothing


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What, I wonder, would Mr. Taleb make of Edison’s 9,999th try?  

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...They are, in fact, searching out black swans (to use Mr. Taleb’s own parlance), in full knowledge that they will spend most of their time rushing up blind alleys.  


What, I wonder, would Mr. Taleb make of Edison’s 9,999th try?

The truth is that useless things often end up very useful indeed.  Modern information technology did not originate with engineers, but has its roots in an obscure academic crisis, whose major figures, such as Cantor, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Gödel and others never dreamed that their work would have important practical consequences.


...What Mr. Taleb seems to miss is that these are ...people dedicated to following their dreams and willing to put their own skin in the game to do so.


What’s more, most of technology’s black swans are positive ones. 

As [Greg Satell] recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Innovation is a particularly sticky problem because it so often remains undefined.”  You can’t simply focus on the technologies that are sure bets, but must take into account the entire matrix (pictured in the article, four quadrants.)

 

... the logical consequence of his argument) is that we should remain in the upper right quadrant, where both the problem and the domain are well defined and he would presumably assign the lowest value on basic research and disruptive innovation, which have no clear applicability.


Yet it is there that we break truly new ground.


Deb's related posts:


Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

This is a follow-up on the "Anti-Fragile" post below.  The author discusses failure is an important part of the process leading to success, as author Greg Satell explains via the nature of innovation.  


This seems to be a worthy new perspective and critique of Taleb's work, also listed in our Innovation and Institutions curation stream.  ~  Deb

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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's curator insight, April 28, 2013 8:25 AM

I've shared news about Taleb's perspective on Change Leadership Watch. It's now paired with this innovation perspective about the place of failure! a compelling view.  ~ D

Bill LeGray's comment, April 29, 2013 8:26 AM
Good thoughts verey deeply buried within the Social Media mileau. BUT not so deep I will not try to follow the Change Leadership Watch, and other excellent Forums provided by Scoop It. In fact, while quite broad, the entire Innovatioon and Institutions stream may be worth a look now and then. Deb; "Thanks for leading the way for creativity, process changes, and obtaining "better" innovations and institutions with more properly responsive institutional outcomes."
Deb Nystrom, REVELN's comment, April 30, 2013 12:37 PM
Thanks for the comment Bill. Best to you.
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Why Traditional Business Transformation Doesn't Work: Co-Creative Transformation | Innovation Playground

Why Traditional Business Transformation Doesn't Work: Co-Creative Transformation  | Innovation Playground | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

Over 60% of companies out there are operating on a dated buisness model and 20% operating with a mental model that had expired for more than 5 years ago.


Business transformation traditionally takes the form of unfreezing to refreezing and briding the gaps in capabilities, mindset and performance.  This classic change model was ok for the olden days; it's too rigid to work now (unless we classify it as a slushie!)


The transformation model featured in this blog post by Idris Mootee has a strong future orientation, uses design thinking principles, and features a tangible, collaborative co-creation process.


A high-level view is captured by the following formula: Successful Brand-Driven Business Transformation = P+N+C+M+I+F


P = Develop a perspective of the future(s) informed by strategic foresights (both customer and technology contexts) and deep organizational insights;


N = Develop a co-created brand narrative that inspired people re: possibilities and purpose at the core of the story;


C = Develop a compelling case for the need for change developed and shared by all executives, investors, employees and B2B business partners;


M = Map - Develop a practical means to tie innovation (roadmap) and projects to the desired future(s);


I = Design an incentive systems that are aligned to identify and encourage appropriate behaviors compatible with the desired future;


F = Develop feedback mechanism for each stage of the process to monitor progress and provide input for continuous improvement.

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