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Why Disruptive Ideas Need Equally Disruptive Leadership

Why Disruptive Ideas Need Equally Disruptive Leadership | digitalNow |
The 3 elements of disruptive leadership that can take an equally disruptive idea, product, or service to the promised land of success.
Don Dea's insight:

There is one HUGE distinction between the two, and the underlying element I really dig deep for.

The disruptive leader stays more human. The push forward is for a common cause. The difference-making is for a shared purpose.  And the surprises build a solid connection of trust, and yes, even love.

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Exploring leadership, management, innovation, and technology issues and trends; impacting associations & non-profit organizations in the digital age.
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The Real Reasons Failure Is Important To Innovation 

The Real Reasons Failure Is Important To Innovation  | digitalNow |
We’ve all heard the mantras around failure.

“Fail fast. Fail often.”

“Love your failures.”

“You can’t succeed without failure.”

But why? Why is failure so important to innovation and success? Why are we constantly being told to embrace failure rather than run away from it?

We are told often it’s because we learn the most from our mistakes. If we aren’t failing, we aren’t pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

In my 25 years in business, I’ve come to believe that there is actually a deeper, more emotional reason failure is important to each of us, personally and professionally.

Failure breaks down our egos.

Our egos keep us complacent, safe and right. When we fail, our egos get stripped away.

Once the failure is out there, why not take that risk? Why not make the bold move? Why not take a step back and really take a look at our mishaps? Why not be more innovative? You have nothing to lose after all…you’ve already failed.

The ego doesn’t like the prospect of innovation because it’s scary. Your ego doesn’t like the lack of certainty that innovation includes.

Here are the three reasons I believe failure is truly important to innovation and success:

#1 Suddenly open to listening to others

When your ego isn’t telling you that you have all the answers, you become open to other people’s perspectives and ideas. You admit you don’t know it all, and look to others to fill the gaps in your knowledge. With new people comes fresh thinking, different perspectives and important human connections that make your initial idea stronger.
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How do you deal with manipulative people?

How do you deal with manipulative people? | digitalNow |
How do you deal with manipulative people?

I cut them out of my life as fast as I can: 32.5%
I ignore their manipulations and do my own thing: 42.5%
I often fail to realize I’m being manipulated: 6.2%
I recognize I’m being manipulated but just let it happen: 2.8%
I confront them directly and ask them to stop: 16.2%
Avoiding the manipulator. The majority of you seek either to ignore or get away from the manipulators in your life. While that can be effective in many situations, in some situations your only option is to confront that person and ask them to change their behavior. Some helpful techniques for dealing with manipulators include changing your perspective to look at their manipulations from a more logical perspective and changing the rules of the game to react differently to their behaviors. In any case, something needs to be done, or you’ll be miserable in the situation. If you’re not aware you’re being manipulated, spend more time being reflective and assess your relationships more objectively. Doing so might help suss out hidden manipulative behaviors.
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It's About Time: Why Your Marketing May Be Falling Short 

It's About Time: Why Your Marketing May Be Falling Short  | digitalNow |

Signals, sequence and speed

Timing comes into play through signals, sequence and speed. And the technology now exists for marketers to test with high confidence when to communicate and in what order—and to do so in near real time.

In the market for over-the-counter medicines, for example, a leading brand mapped its customers’ past search and purchase behavior, determining that people who take the medication in the first two days of symptoms are more likely to get relief and become greater brand advocates. Knowing this, the company worked with Google and WebMD to reach consumers whose search terms suggested they had the symptoms in that narrow time frame. As a result, the brand substantially increased conversion of searches to sales of its medication, building greater brand loyalty at the same time.

When marketers gain a deep understanding of the key moments in the customer life cycle, they can spot crucial signals when they appear and then release a sequence of messages tailored to each customer. A major sporting goods company used to mix brand-oriented, aspirational messages and price-focused promotional messages during the same time frame, in part because its e-commerce and brand teams did not coordinate with each other. Yet leading with a promotional message, while it might generate a short-term sales boost, sacrifices long-term brand value. By contrast, leading with brand messages early in a campaign can have a halo effect on the subsequent promotional messages.
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The Communication Problem at the Heart of Our Digital Era,

The Communication Problem at the Heart of Our Digital Era, | digitalNow |
The ongoing human emotional train wreck that is the digital era began, arguably, with email and the attempt to solve two particular problems with older forms of communication:  time and money.  Letters, memos, and other forms of written communication like memos, reports, and white papers, were full of what the Silicon Valley calls “friction” – meaning that they were hard to create and cost money.  And face-to-face communications required that busy schedules be synchronized.  Those engineers and scientists at MIT and in the defense industry wanted communication that was both frictionless and asynchronous.

In a parallel effort over a century ago, inventors and investors addressed the urge to communicate something quickly and easily when the recipient wasn’t standing right in front of you with the telegraph, in 1837 both in the UK and the US separately.  But the telegraph required other people to help, as well as money, and so it was saved for moments of high importance.  For example, the last message from the Titanic, sent April 15, 1912, was a telegram that apparently read: “SOS SOS CQD CQD Titanic. We are sinking fast. Passengers are being put into boats. Titanic.”

How to communicate more easily and naturally when your boat wasn’t sinking?

The first email proper was sent in 1971 over something called ARPANET, as a way for university researchers and defense contractors to share information that met the criteria. The two problems were solved and the digital era began.  Communication became frictionless and asynchronous, and Pandora’s digital box opened.

How did the emotional train wreck begin?  In solving the problems of time and money, two other problems were unintentionally created: we gradually became awash in email, and most of it was boring.  But there lurked a deeper problem that only became apparent once we were firmly ensconced in the digital era (and the thrill of new technology had worn off): the emotional components of the letter (or even the telegraph) were stripped away.  In exchange for asynchronous, frictionless communication we got information overload and the emotional banality of the always-on social media era.

But it gets worse.  When you talk to someone face-to-face, your unconscious mind automatically absorbs the emotional state of the person in front of you.  Especially if you know the person well, you know whether she is being serious when she says, “Your hair is on fire,” or just kidding.  That knowledge enables you to decide how to hear and understand the communication you’re receiving.  It’s based on the emotion-tagged memories you have of your previous interaction with that person, and a whole host of other interactions and memories.
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Warning! Stay Out of the Waters of ‘Watch Me Swim’ Leadership 

Warning! Stay Out of the Waters of ‘Watch Me Swim’ Leadership  | digitalNow |
Have you ever encountered a “Watch Me Swim” leader?

This is the person who insists on letting you know about every accomplishment they’ve achieved, no matter how small or insignificant. The attitude is very similar to the child splashing around the swimming pool, desperate for the grown-ups to notice their aquatic abilities.

For children in the pool it’s cute. For leaders, it’s a problem that can undermine their effectiveness because:

It appears self-serving
It erodes trust in followers
It diminishes respect among other more secure leaders
As a leader, you can coach members of your team to avoid the “Watch Me Swim” trap, by first recognizing these early warning signs…

1. They embellish the significance of accomplishments
“Watch Me Swim” leaders are often quick to congratulate themselves. A leader I know was called on the mat for sending an email to his board celebrating the fact that “4th quarter results were up significantly over 3rd quarter results.”

But 4th quarter results were always up significantly over 3rd quarter results in that organization. It was merely part of an historical trend. And the board knew it.


2. They imply credit for achievements they had little to do with
I knew a senior pastor who announced to his board that, on his watch, “baptisms had increased 20%”. What he didn’t mention was that virtually all of those baptisms had come out of youth ministry, and he really had had no part of this whatsoever.

In effect he was caught saying, “Watch Me Swim”, and it hurt his credibility.

3. They “spin” lack of results
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What would you do if you knew your why?

What would you do if you knew your why? | digitalNow |
Knowing your why
In addition to “substance” and “essence," this concept of focusing inward to identify our deepest beliefs and passions is often referred to as “knowing your why.” Leadership expert Simon Sinek says that it’s not enough to know what you do and how you do it. At our essence, we are most motivated by knowing why we do things. And it’s through that awareness that we can best connect with and sell to others.

While the exercise of knowing one’s why can demand some real inner work, there are some shortcuts to connecting more with one’s essence. Think about the causes and opportunities around you that speak to you. Perhaps you want to get more involved in a local nonprofit or become a corporate trainer who can leverage experiences in a way that helps people grow and develop. Maybe you have had this inner pull towards maintaining a garden and want to bring such awareness and opportunities to others.
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Revealing the Invisible Future 

1. What is different about the Behavior Economy from the Knowledge Economy?

Fundamentally, not much. Both the knowledge and behavior economies are the result of massive amounts data and information. However, knowledge is typically associated with some sort of categorization, or what’s often called a taxonomy. Behavior doesn’t fall neatly into categories. It’s far more volatile, constantly evolving, and uncertain. In the book I talk about the difference between clocks and cloud. That’s a good metaphor for the difference between knowledge and behavior. We are transitioning from solving clock problems, which are neat and orderly, to cloud problems which are always emerging and changing and whose data is just too vast to allow a finite solution. .

2. What is the one change in the world that not enough people are talking about?

The coming of a post-industrial era. I’m not talking about the “information age” or the “AI” age. But rather a new way to think about how we can scale systems and services to meet the needs of 10 billion people. If we try to do that with our industrial era infrastructure we will destroy the planet and our economy. That sounds obtuse but here’s an example. You cannot scale transportation as it stands today. In fact we talk about a model that will reduce the number of vehicles by 90% and yet transport 4-5 times as many people.
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Testing Your Strategy – Does it nest? 

Testing Your Strategy – Does it nest?  | digitalNow |

It struck me right then that this particular associate had a strategy in mind. I mentally began ticking through the Playing-to-Win framework of integrated choices: winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, critical capabilities, and required systems.

If Apple wanted to win in the “smart wearable” space, it needed to focus retail resources on its success. In other words, this particular retail associate made a strategic choice to head toward the watch station, choosing to devote his personal and professional attention there in an action aligned to the both the retail and corporate strategy.

Among the handful of customers at the watch station, there was an older gentleman desperately trying to look savvy, nervously poking at the display watch, but clearly in need of a confidence boost. And that’s the customer the retail associate chose to help.

Winning aspiration and where to play: check!

I somehow couldn’t picture this particular gentleman wearing an Apple watch, so I inched closer to listen and observe. The first thing out of the associate’s mouth was not a “can I help you?” or even a “qualifying question,” but rather a rhetorical: “kind of confusing isn’t it?” Right away, the customer relaxed. You could see it. A chuckle, a nod, a breath. A little empathy resulted in instant rapport, in five simple words. Immediately, I got this associate’s competitive advantage: empathic connection with customers.

How to win: check!

Once the personal connection was made in that short exchange, the questions began: Considering a purchase, or simply exploring and needing a quick tour? For you or someone else? Do you use other Apple products, an iPhone perhaps?

It turned out that the customer was considering an Apple watch as a birthday gift for his granddaughter, who was graduating from high school. That launched a new series of questions, ones more related to fashion and lifestyle, rather than function. The associate was no longer worried about customer usability, knowing that the gentleman’s granddaughter was a longtime iPhone user, but he was worried about specific model choice. Did she have a favorite color? Did she engage in sports?

The customer didn’t know what his granddaughter’s favorite color was. The associate asked about what she liked to wear, what color her car was if she had one, what color her iPhone was, what music she liked. “She loved the one the guy in the hat on that singing show wore,” said the customer. The associate’s eyes lit up. You could literally see the mental connection being made: “Ah, Apple’s strategic product placement on the wrist of Pherell, a celebrity coach on NBC’s The Voice.” It turned out that what she really liked was the band color: pink. For Grandpa, this sealed the deal.

Critical capabilities: check!

The transaction was consummated within minutes on the associate’s modified iPhone. Email receipt sent to the customer’s Apple ID email address.

Required systems: check!
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Innovation Isn’t About Control, But Access 

Innovation Isn’t About Control, But Access  | digitalNow |
xtending Data Into Open Spaces
Typically, proprietary scientific data is something that’s closely guarded. But in 2005, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) named Jean Claude Zenklusen saw an opportunity to go in another direction. “We said, ‘Let’s gather data along with some basic analysis, publish it and allow the scientific community to study it,’” he told me.

This approach formed the basis for The Cancer Genome Atlas, a joint project between NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute, which began in 2006 and has since sequenced the tumors of over 10,000 patients encompassing 33 types of cancer. “Cancer data has now become open data,” Zenklusen told me proudly.

A similar effort, the Materials Genome Initiative, is building databases of material properties like strength, density and other things, and also includes computer models to predict what processes will result in the properties a manufacturer needs. Like The Cancer Genome Atlas, it is making the data available to anyone who can find a use for it.

A mining company called Goldcorp took a similar approach to finding new seams in old mines. By releasing its data to the public, it was able to connect with far more resources and extend its capabilities far beyond what it could achieve internally. It dramatically decreased its costs to produce while increasing its output by a factor of ten.

Using Platforms To Extend Capabilities
Drug research is a core capability of any major pharmaceutical firm and the success or failure of any particular treatment can mean a difference of billions to the bottom line. So, not surprisingly, the exploration into new drugs is something that most drug companies want to keep pretty close to their vest. Yet Alph Bingham, a research executive at Eli Lilly, saw an opportunity to do something different.

Long an admirer of Linux, he was fascinated with the way thousands of volunteers were able to create and advance complex software that could compete with the best proprietary products. He thought that there could be great potential for a “Linux with a bounty” that could solve some of the tough problems that Eli Lilly hadn’t been able to find an answer for.

The Innocentive platform went live in June 2001 with 21 problems, many of which the company had been working on for years. Although the bounties were small in the context of the pharmaceutical industry — $20,000 to $25,000 — by the end of the year a third of them were solved. It was an astounding success.

It soon became clear that more challenges on the site would attract more solvers, so they started recruiting other companies to the platform. When results improved, they even began inviting competitors to post challenges as well. Today, Innocentive has over 100,000 solvers that work out hundreds of problems so tough that even the smartest companies can’t crack them.

In 2005, Eli Lilly spun out InnoCentive as a fully independent platform. It only attracted about $30 million, not a material event for a company that counts its revenues in the billions. Yet the ability to extend its capabilities into a massive ecosystem of talent was far more valuable than a proprietary internal platform.

Deploying The Entire Ecosystem
In Michael Porter’s landmark book, Competitive Advantage, the Harvard professor argued that the key to long-term success was to dominate the value chain by maximizing bargaining power among suppliers, customers, new market entrants and substitute goods. His ideas dominated strategic thinking for decades.

Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant was a prime example of this type of thinking. Few companies at the time — or even now — had the capital to build such a massive, vertically integrated facility and its ability to make nearly every component that went into an automobile certainly increased its bargaining power.

However, today your competitiveness is not based on the assets and capabilities you control, but what you can access. So rather than focusing on what your capabilities are internally, you now need to think about how you can extend them into customers, partners, vendors and open platforms to access ecosystems of technology, talent and information.
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Maximizing the value from your board of directors

Maximizing the value from your board of directors | digitalNow |
High Value Boards of Directors. Here are the core conclusions from that article and the starting point for this discussion.

High Value Boards – A Valuable Asset

    *    High performance is a choice.

    *    A board can be a pain in the butt but is worth the effort.

    *    The board does not manage the company. That is the CEO’s job.

    *    The board’s job is governance, guidance and review of management, big decisions approval, risk management, shareholder representation, and financial reporting.

    *    The board provides added resources, accountability, and credibility.

    *    This combination makes the company more valuable over time.

How does a company owner or the CEO of a company with one or many shareholders get high value from their board of directors?

Shareholder Goals Establish Context for the Board’s Work

The starting point for getting value from your board is being clear about the financial motivation of investors in the company and what they expect from the board.
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The Netflix Binge Factory

The Netflix Binge Factory | digitalNow |
Netflix has only just begun to dominate the TV market, hiring everybody in and out of Hollywood, including Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, to make more TV shows than any network ever has, and already knows exactly which ones you’ll like.
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How to Create a Culture to Capitalize on Innovation – Innovation Excellence

How to Create a Culture to Capitalize on Innovation – Innovation Excellence | digitalNow |
The patterns of behavior and culture at these companies ran counter to our pattern. We lacked both ideas and execution—it was a cultural problem. We weren’t getting the results we wanted.

We broke the study into two camps: Incremental Cultures and Innovation Cultures. After a look into the mirror: we confessed we were an incremental culture and needed to change.

The innovation companies had a bias for action, shared work-in-progress, deep collaboration, and shared workspace.

Even the way Insights are gathered and shared are different at Incremental and Innovative companies. At Innovation companies, we go out into the context of the market itself, having in-depth and meaningful conversation with consumers.

The frame of the opportunity expands beyond new product development into every touch point in the brand experience: digital, communication, claims, packaging, shopping experience, or a business model innovation.

We developed a five-point plan for changing the culture:

Learn by doing (three projects in one year, as a prototype)
Start small ($50k budget)
Work on tools and culture (Design Thinking; One table, no offices)
Work in more cycles (Memphis Innovation Bootcamp)
Get help (bring in the Southern Growth Studio to do the projects with us instead of for us)
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The Future is Invisible 

The Future is Invisible  | digitalNow |
hen we talk about revealing the invisible, we are referring to the ability to understand the digital behaviors of not only ourselves but also of the people, devices, objects, and institutions we interact with. Each of these can have a digital-self or digital twin (the collection of its digitized behaviors) that interacts with other digital objects. The complex patterns of interactions among these objects may appear invisible or obscure to us, and radically different that the biases we have of how the visible world operates but algorithms and AI can easily understand the patterns they form and then predict future behaviors. We believe that the greatest value of innovation for the next one hundred years will come from understanding and leveraging revealing “The Invisible” on this illustration.

The good news is that none of this is a sudden shift; it has been and will continue to occur incrementally—at times with great fanfare, at other times to great protest—and sometimes in ways that are barely noticeable. For example:

Autonomous vehicles will dramatically decrease the ecological impact of transportation, while creating unprecedented safety, mobility, and an entirely new in-car experience.
Devices embedded with AI will anticipate our needs, predict illness, and improve our well-being.
Hyper-personalized healthcare will match therapies to our individual genomes.
Concepts such as brand loyalty will be turned on their heads as companies compete to find ways that they can use behavioral knowledge to prove their loyalty to each individual consumer.
AI will begin to solve some of the most pressing and protracted problems of our time by identifying otherwise invisible patterns of behavior in the complex natural and manmade systems that surround us.
The elimination of the friction in new digital ecosystems will transform rigid industrial age businesses into responsive, adaptive, customer-centered ecosystem experiences.
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Fact, Fiction, and Fear – Demystifying the World of Corporate Giving

Myth #1: CSR is a “nice to have,” but it’s not a “need to have” because it doesn’t impact a company’s core strategy execution.

Reality: In fact, CSR is an essential driver of employee engagement. According to a study conducted by America’s Charities, sixty-eight percent of employers said that their employees expect them to provide:

an effective workplace giving program
the ability to volunteer during work hours
opportunities to engage skills-based volunteering
matching gifts for employee contributions to nonprofits
Myth #2: There’s no tangible return on investment (ROI) associated with workplace giving and/or CSR programs.

Reality: Corporate giving plays a critical role in how your company is perceived by all of your stakeholders, which without a doubt impacts your ROI. For one thing, your employees are your company’s biggest ambassadors. Through volunteerism they help raise the visibility of your brand and also strengthen your reputation as a good corporate citizen. Your employees are your corporate culture in action. No marketing campaign on the planet can compare with that kind of PR.

Myth #3: You need to invest a lot of money in a workplace giving program to do it right.

Reality: Perhaps the biggest myth I’ve heard about starting a workplace giving program, and the one that I hear most often, is that you have to make a significant dollar investment to launch a program.  The reality is that many events, such as clothing and food drives, cost your company nothing, engage your employees, and still benefit nonprofits and the people they serve. Organizing a volunteer effort is also a no or low-cost activity.

So to re-cap:  There is no wrong way to give, employees expect corporations and employers to do good, and doing something beats doing nothing every time.
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5 Ways to Increase Productivity for Busy CEOs

5 Ways to Increase Productivity for Busy CEOs | digitalNow |
Be Prepared to Pass On Your Skills and Learn New Ones

Many view being the CEO as a role of a lonely shepard at the top of the hill. However, in the modern business, bosses need to be sharing, mentoring and advocating change all the way to the bottom of the organization.

Being boss doesn’t make you magic or invulnerable. The more you share, both in terms of experience, advice, information, and delegation of roles, the more the business can cope without you, allowing you focus on the next big challenge.

Mentoring will help your board grow and make them strong enough to stand up and be counted when key decisions need to be made. Better that than a room full of “yes-people” who will only say what will make the leader happy.
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Are you born to build? Create self-awareness to discover your natural talents

Are you born to build? Create self-awareness to discover your natural talents | digitalNow |
n our research, Gallup found a variety of behaviors among successful builders. For instance, highly successful builders effortlessly cultivate deep relationships, are laser-focused on results, are creative problem solvers and are the best spokespeople for their venture.

But after analyzing the data from samples across the US, Germany and Mexico and listening to hundreds of hours of interviews, we distilled everything to a list of 10 talents that influence behaviors and best explain the success of a builder. Every builder uses some mix of these 10 talents:

Confidence: You accurately know yourself and understand others.
Delegator: You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.
Determination: You persevere through difficult and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Disruptor: You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.
Independence: You do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.
Knowledge: You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business.
Profitability: You make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.
Relationship: You possess high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial to your organization’s survival and growth.
Risk: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations.
Selling: You are the best spokesperson for your business.
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The leader's role in getting strategic alignment in your organization

The leader's role in getting strategic alignment in your organization | digitalNow |
When I think of all the dedicated CEOs, board members, corporate and foundation officers, and other nonprofit professionals that I have known and worked with over the years, I appreciate how blessed I have been to associate with such great people. Individually and collectively, they have had a positive impact on me.

What impresses me the most is their deep desire to make a difference in the lives of others. I am inspired by their commitment to their respective missions and their determination to achieve their vision of a better future, despite often increasing challenges and obstacles.

What concerns me, however, is the inordinate amount of time and energy I see them spending without reaping the results and successes warranted by their efforts. Regardless of how important and heartfelt their missions are, regardless of how hard the board and staff are working, many nonprofits struggle to survive, let alone succeed.

There is a smarter way to achieve success in the nonprofit sector. The first, critical step is a shift in perspective. I have observed that—overwhelmingly—the nonprofit organizations that are failing are not adequately addressing their internal issues.

I am not talking about the need for new physical space or more staff, although those needs are often apparent. I am talking about the uncomfortable currents beneath the surface: lack of trust and respect among senior management; stale programs; long-tenured board members who resist change; and a general lack of contemporary leadership skill sets.

An organization needs to be honest in addressing its challenges, both internal and external, to achieve real success.
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The ROI that today's leaders need most

The ROI that today's leaders need most | digitalNow |
How do you decide what factors to align and to risk for gaining the highest return on investment? How often do you factor in the return on integrity?

When there is consistency between what people say and do, we call that integrity. We say they “walk their talk” or “keep their word.” We sense integrity when a person’s work appears to be guided by a deeper moral-ethical commitment. Integrity is not only the opposite of the immoral and unethical behavior so often reported in the news.

The best ROI comes from aligning who you are on the inside -- your values and fears, your hopes and your limits -- with your outer life of work and relationships. When you risk showing up as your whole self, engagement can shift and so can success.

A social entrepreneur named Ed was burned out after too many years on a nightmarish treadmill of chasing goals, working all hours, believing that if anything good were to happen he had to do it himself. For six years, basic self-care just didn’t happen. When Ed finally made time to reconnect with his underlying purpose and values, he began to see himself differently as a leader.
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Make friends with your dissatisfaction

Make friends with your dissatisfaction | digitalNow |
Dissatisfaction is a key driver of human motivation.

If humans were satisfied with one good meal or one good sexual encounter, the human race would not have survived.

In this regard, dissatisfaction is linked to natural selection, says Robert Wright, author of "Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment," while speaking on NPR’s "Fresh Air."

On a personal level, dissatisfaction drives people to push themselves to achieve goals. Consider this more of a personalized natural selection.

Channeling dissatisfaction can be a challenge. Here are three ways to make it work for you rather than against you.
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The Necessary Value of Unstructured Time 

The Necessary Value of Unstructured Time  | digitalNow |
The Downward Spiral of Always On.

Pressure is always on. I keep hearing this phrase with intense insistency at conference after conference: consumers want what they want when they want it. This phrase is always punctuated with a verbal exclamation point for anxiety-provoking emphasis. It is spoken with Gospel-like fervor: it’s truth.

My friends in Marketing say this is just how people are today. To meet demand for the culture that must have it now they work up to 70 hours a week. My friends in the Start-Up world tell me that is why they go to Accelerators, to quicken the pace. Faster is better it the mantra of the era.

The billboard outside of my hometown tells me that the large, upscale outlet mall will be open all night, from 8 PM on Thanksgiving evening until Black Friday is over. My clutter box and my email are glutted around the clock with temporary offers, special deals for a limited time. Deals only for those smart enough to Act Now!

Every brand, company, organization, and news outlet are competing for your time and attention. If the powers that be expect us to be always on, when do we recharge? When do we reset? When do build relationships? Enjoy life? Tap into an uninterrupted state of high-productive flow?
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Don’t Accelerate Innovation – Burst it 

Don’t Accelerate Innovation – Burst it  | digitalNow |
The key to success is preparation. To prepare, interesting design space is identified using multiple inputs: company growth objectives, new market development, the state of the technology, competitive landscape and important projects that could benefit from new technology. And once the design space is identified, the right working group is selected. It’s best to keep the group small yet diverse, with several important business functions represented. In order to change the thinking, the IBE is held at location different than where the day-to-day work is done – at an off-site location. And good food is provided to help the working group feel the IBE is a bit special.

The most difficult and most important part of preparation is choosing the right design space. Since the selection process starts with your business objectives, the design space will be in line with company priorities, but it requires dialing in. The first step is to define the operational mechanism for the growth objective. Do you want a new product or process? A new market or business model? The next step is to choose if you want to radically improve what you have (discontinuous improvement) or obsolete your best work (disruption). Next, the current state is defined (knowing the starting point is more important than the destination) – Is the technology mature? What is the completion up to? What is the economy like in the region of interest? Then, with all that information, several important lines of evolution are chosen. From there, design challenges are created to exercise the design space. Now it’s time for the IBE.
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Accentuate the positive!

Accentuate the positive! | digitalNow |
And all of this represents a significant and costly missed opportunity for managers and organizations alike. Affirming and appreciating employees cost literally nothing and research suggests that they offer a range of benefits, including:

Reduced stress and improved physical wellbeing
Heightened cognitive functioning
Enhanced decision-making, problem solving, and innovation
Greater trust, connections and bonds among people
Higher levels of engagement and retention
Affirmation and appreciation don’t just benefit the employee. They also benefit the leader. Research suggests that shifting one’s focus toward gratitude can improve the health and well-being of the giver. Simply giving what’s working equal air time changes the experience of supervision, infusing greater positivity, optimism and energy into the manager’s experience at work.
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The leader's role in getting strategic alignment in your organization

The leader's role in getting strategic alignment in your organization | digitalNow |
Your organization’s vision should be a brief statement that describes a realistic, credible, and attractive future for those you serve. It is your articulation of a destination toward which your organization should aim, a future that in many ways is better, more successful, or more desirable than your present. It should also be measurable and achievable and should inspire enthusiasm and encourage commitment.

All aspects of your organization need to be fully aligned to achieve your vision:

Executive leadership
High-performing board governance
Effective programs and services
A positive brand identity
Enthusiastic investors
Successful execution
Thoughtful assessment at all levels
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Why Startups Are The Best Way To Manage Innovation 

The Innovation Puzzle

When startup teams are searching for a profitable business model, what exactly are they searching for? A profitable business model is found by systematically searching for answers to a hierarchy of questions.

Before we creating a solution, we want to know if there is a real customer need to be served and how strong that need is.
As we are working on our solution, we want to know if it is delivering value customers.
While we are delivering value to customers, we want to know if we can do so profitably.
And once we have profitability, we want to know if our business model is scalable.
Answering these questions, means that we have successful innovation. This is the startup way. This is true startup culture. The challenge for leaders is to create an internal ecosystem that supports this way of working within their organizations. Rather than asking for long business plans, leaders have to ask the right questions at the right time. Asking about revenue, before a team understands their customers needs, will stifle innovation – even if the team has a lab with sticky notes and canvases. Managing startups from first principles, will help leaders create and sustain innovation within their organizations.
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The Case of the Stolen Idea 

The Case of the Stolen Idea  | digitalNow |
What happens when your idea is stolen?

You have an idea. Your great, wonderful idea which is the best thing anyone has heard in years or centuries… As many other innovators, you explain your idea to your friends, colleagues or superiors trying to get funding or valuable feedback. But then, weeks or months later, you found out that someone realized your idea without your permission.

There are so many similar stories and the point is that often you can’t do much except to feel miserable and helpless.

But (on the other hand), why would anyone steal an idea in the first place?

First, we need to know that we are not all innovators and that some people are just better in finding new ideas/projects while others are struggling with their creativity and can only copy or steal (or do nothing).

Next, is it really a good idea to take someone’s idea?

A stolen idea is a closed box. The “idea-thief” doesn’t know that there may be some other related ideas behind it. What could be the next features? Which combinations can be done with other sectors of market? Also, the innovator was in some state-of-mind when the idea was born and she can recall this memory (or at least try to recall it) and sometimes continue in the same direction as during the time of idea generation. The “idea-thief” can’t have this possibility. Also, the innovator knows how this idea could grow and how the next project might be built upon this idea.
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