Innovation-Inspired Leadership

Innovative organizations deserve innovative leaders. It is the height of folly to expect that organizations which choose to put dramatic change at the center of everything that they do can do so without being led by individuals who love moving into the unknown and who flourish amidst the ambiguity and contradictions that ensue. Is it even possible to believe that that we can change everything that characterizes modern life: our communications practices, our transportation, our sources of knowledge and labor, eventually our very genomes, without changing the way we assemble talent, take risks, make choices, or move groups of people forward or in new directions? Yet, while we all know that any answer other than “No” is wrong, the great majority of individuals in leadership positions, and the great majority of institutions that are developing them, are either unaware, indifferent or unconvinced by such needs, and therein lies a problem for our future.

Read more: Innovation-Inspired Leadership

Want Innovation? Hire for Skills, Not Attitudes (Forbes)

Pick-up nearly any business book and the recommendation is likely to be the same: when building a team, hire for attitudes and train for skills. In fact, my colleague Dan Schawbel has just written a posting with that very title: Hire for Attitude in which he interviewed Mark Murphy, author of Hiring for Attitude. It’s everywhere, and it  sort of makes sense, doesn’t it, because every day we have to get up and go into work, and if the team is a difficult one to be around — if their attitudes are bad — then it’s going to be another day of “no fun,” and our motivation will begin low before anything else even has a chance to frustrate us.

But, attitudes will only get you so far, and when real change is needed — innovation, for example — then attitudes are not likely to be enough to get you to where you want to go. In such situations, you need skills, and lots of them.

Hiring for skills, instead of attitude, changes everything.  Read More

Don't Relax Constraints, Embrace Them (

Ever notice how many times an unsuccessful project team will explain their failed performance in terms of the constraints that made success "impossible"?

Cover of "Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read ...

Dr. Seuss, "Green Eggs & Ham," Cover via Amazon

The next time you hear this, beware! There’s good reason to believe that constraints are far from debilitating to creativity, and could, in fact, be liberating, instead.

Here are three [plus one] familiar constraint categories that you might wish to experiment with in terms of “toughening them up” rather than relaxing them: Time, Resources, Space & Talent. Read More

Samsung's OEM Genes

Samsung's recent problems with the Galaxy Note 7 have left many of us observing Samsung's difficulties and wondering "how could this have happened"? Why wasn't the response better, faster? What is the future of the brand in the mobile phone industry?  What is possibly next for Samsung in the mobile phone space? Some years ago, I wrote the piece below that argued that Samsung was a victim of a genetic predisposition away from coolness, responsiveness and customer-centricity, and towards reliability and efficiency. In other words, Samsung's corporate culture was at odds with its strategic dreams, a disconnect that can never result in a good outcome unless one of those two factors -- dreams or details -- are changed. I think that the argument still holds:

Genes matter, and Samsung’s genes are OEM genes.

There is nothing wrong with OEM genes, as long as you are satisfied with being an OEM supplier, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, either. But, it’s quite a different story if your aspirations are to be something that you’re not, like, let’s say  a big-branded, cool-defining, consumer electronics company. Maybe even an e-FMCG? Maybe Apple?

Read more: Samsung's OEM Genes

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