On Mindset

I recently finished reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – How We Can Learn to Fulfill our Potential – by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.. As the author best summarizes: “My work is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs we’re aware of or unaware of, but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have profound effects. In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself—a belief we discovered in our research—guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of this “mindset.” Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it.”

Below are key excerpts from this book that I would like to share, from this perceptive piece of work:

On Potential:

This leads us back to the idea of “potential” and to the question of whether tests or experts can tell us what our potential is, what we’re capable of, what our future will be. The fixed mindset says yes. You can simply measure the fixed ability right now and project it into the future. Just give the test or ask the expert. No crystal ball needed…But isn’t potential someone’s capacity to develop their skills with effort over time? And that’s just the point. How can we know where effort and time will take someone…People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.

On how Failure is perceived based on your mindset:

In short, when people believe in fixed traits, they are always in danger of being measured by a failure. It can define them in a permanent way. Smart or talented as they may be, this mindset seems to rob them of their coping resources. When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. And if abilities can be expanded—if change and growth are possible—then there are still many paths to success.

On praising abilities:

If people have such potential to achieve, how can they gain faith in their potential? How can we give them the confidence they need to go for it? How about praising their ability in order to convey that they have what it takes? In fact, more than 80 percent of parents told us it was necessary to praise children’s ability so as to foster their confidence and achievement. You know, it makes a lot of sense.

On mindsets and business leadership (Jack Welch):

What he learned was this: True self-confidence is “the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.” Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.

On mindsets and relationships:

“Oh no,” I replied. “To me the whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.” By that I didn’t mean a My Fair Lady kind of thing where you attempt an extreme makeover on partners, who then feel they aren’t t good enough as they are. I mean helping partners, within the relationship, to reach their own goals and fulfill their own potential. This is the growth mindset in action.

On Shyness:

Shyness harmed the social interactions of people with the fixed mindset but did not harm the social relations of people with the growth mindset. The observers’ ratings showed that, although both fixed- and growth-minded shy people looked very nervous for the first five minutes of the interaction, after that the shy growth-minded people showed greater social skills, were more likable, and created a more enjoyable interaction. In fact, they began to look just like non-shy people.

In conclusion:

Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people—couples. coaches and athletes, managers and workers, parents and children. teachers and students—change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.

A must read book in the areas of personal development and psychology.



On The Future Of Work

I recently finished reading The Future of Work – Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization – by Jacob Morgan. As the author summarizes in his opening: “Many organizations around the world today are in trouble. The world of work is changing around them while they remain stagnant. The larger the gap grows the greater the chance becomes that these organizations will not survive. However, organizations shouldn’t just want to survive they must want to thrive and be competitive in a new rapidly changing world. To do this requires pioneering change, not waiting for tragedy or for a crisis to force change. The future workforce is bringing new attitudes and ways of work to which managers must adapt. This means that organizations must adapt to both employees and managers and, as of now, this is happening at a snail’s pace, if at all. This is a book about adapting to that change.”

On the five trends shaping the future of work:

1. New behaviors 2. Technology 3. Millennials 4. Mobility 5. Globalization

On the seven principles of the future employee:

• Have a flexible work environment where they can work anytime and anywhere. • Be able to shape and define their own career paths instead of having them predefined for them. • Share information internally in an open and transparent way in real-time. • Have the opportunity to become leaders without having to be managers. • Collaborate and communicate in new ways. • Shift from being knowledge workers to learning workers. • Learn and teach at-will.

From knowledge worker to learner worker:

The world is changing so quickly that by the time new college students graduate, much of what they have learned is far less relevant and in many cases just obsolete. This means knowledge and experience are no longer the primary commodity. Instead, what is far more valuable is to have the ability to learn and to apply those learnings into new and unique scenarios. It’s no longer about what you know, it’s about how you can learn and adapt.

On vital qualities for future employees:

Self-Direction and Autonomy, Filter and Focus, Embrace Change, Amazing Communication Skills, Learning to Learn

On the Ten Principles of the future manager:

Must be a leader. Follow from the front. Understand technology. Lead by example. Embrace vulnerability. Believe in sharing and collective intelligence. Challenge convention and be a fire starter. Practice real-time recognition and feedback. Be conscious of personal boundaries. Adapt to the future employee.

On many people still want structure:

An article published by Susan H. Greenberg on the Stanford Graduate School of Businessblog on August 1, 2012 called, “Building Organizations That Work”2 summarized the findings of the report: Hierarchies are easier for people to grasp than egalitarian relationships because their asymmetries create “end points’ that facilitate memorization; they are predictable; and they are familiar, beginning with our very first social interaction—the parent-child relationship.

On fourteen principles of the future organization:

• Have employees work in globally distributed yet smaller teams. • Become intrapreneurial. • Create a connected workforce. • Operate like a smaller company. • Focus on creating a place of “want” instead of a place of “need.’ • Adapt to change faster. • Innovate anywhere, all the time. • Build ecosystems. • Run in the cloud. • See more women in senior management roles. • Be “flatter.’ • Tell stories. • Democratize learning. • Shift from profit to prosperity. • Adapt to the future employee and the future manager. • Become globally distributed with smaller teams.

On competitor-driven innovation:

The extent of knowledge and innovation used to depend on the organization itself, or more specifically, a few people within the organization. This is no longer enough to maintain a competitive advantage. The future organization must build knowledge ecosystems in the five groups mentioned earlier in order to thrive. Each group can bring a unique perspective and value proposition.

On the 12 habits of highly collaborative organizations:

1. Focus on individual value before corporate value. 2. Strategy always comes before technology. 3. Learn to get out of the way. 4. Lead by example. 5. Listen to the voice of the employee. 6. Integrate into the flow of work. 7. Create a supportive environment. 8. Measure what matters. 9. Be persistent. 10. Adapt and evolve. 11. Understand that employee collaboration also benefits the customer. 12. Accept that collaboration makes the world a better place.

On the six-step process for adapting to the future of work:

1. Challenge assumptions. 2. Create a team to help lead the effort. 3. Define your “future of work.’ 4. Communicate your “future of work. 5. Experiment and empower employees to take action. 6. Implement broad-based change.

A recommended read in the area of organizational management.

Wired For Story

In line with my plan to improve my communication skills, I recently finished reading Wired For Story – The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence – by Lisa Cron. As the title indicates this is book about storytelling. More specifically, Lisa unveils how writers can leverage cognitive secrets of the brain to better engage their readership through powerful stories. Below is a summary of the main points of the book. On the importance of stories:

Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. Story is what enabled us to imagine what might happen in the future, and so prepare for it—a feat no other species can lay claim to, opposable thumbs or not. Story is what makes us human, not just metaphorically but literally. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience reveal that our brain is hardwired to respond to story; the pleasure we derive from a tale well told is nature’s way of seducing us into paying attention to it. In other words, we’re wired to turn to story to teach us the way of the world.

What’s the role the writer can play?

Writers can change the way people think simply by giving them a glimpse of life through their characters’ eyes. They can transport readers to places they’ve never been, catapult them into situations they’ve only dreamed of, and reveal subtle universal truths that just might alter their entire perception of reality. In ways large and small, writers help people make it through the night. And that’s not too shabby. But there’s a catch. For a story to captivate a reader, it must continually meet his or her hardwired expectations. This is no doubt what prompted Jorge Luis Borges to note, “Art is fire plus algebra.” Let me explain. Fire is absolutely crucial to writing; it’s the very first ingredient of every story. Passion is what drives us to write, filling us with the exhilarating sense that we have something to say, something that will make a difference.

What’s the “algebra” part then?

But to write a story capable of instantly engaging readers, passion alone isn’t enough. Writers often mistakenly believe that all they need to craft a successful story is the fire—the burning desire, the creative spark, the killer idea that startles you awake in the middle of the night. They dive into their story with gusto, not realizing that every word they write is most likely doomed to failure because they forgot to factor in the second half of the equation: the algebra…It’s only by stopping to analyze what we’re unconsciously responding to when we read a story—what has actually snagged our brain’s mention—that we can then write a story that will grab the reader’s brain. This is true whether you’re writing a literary novel, hard-boiled mystery, or supernatural teen romance. Although readers have their own personal taste when it comes to the type of novel they’re drawn to, unless that story meets their hardwired expectations, it stays on the shelf.

How can we learn the “algebra” component of the equation? This is where this book comes into play:

To make sure that doesn’t happen to your story, this book is organized into twelve chapters, each zeroing in on an aspect of how the brain works, its corresponding revelation about story, and the nuts and bolts of how to actualize it in your work. Each chapter ends with a checklist you can apply to your work at any stage: before you begin writing, at the end of every writing day, at the end of a scene or a chapter, or at 2:00 a.m. when you wake up in a cold sweat, convinced that your story may be the worst thing anyone has written, ever. (It’s not; trust me.) Do this, and I guarantee your work will stay on track and have an excellent chance of making people who aren’t even related to you want to read it.

BUT, there is a caveat:

The only caveat is that you have to be as honest about your story as you would be about a novel you pick up in a bookstore, or a movie you begin watching with one finger still poised on the remote. The idea is to pinpoint where each trouble spot lies and then remedy it before it spreads like a weed, undermining your entire narrative. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds, because there’s nothing more exhilarating than watching your work improve until your readers are so engrossed in it that they forget that it’s a story at all.

So What are the secrets?

Secret #1: How to Hook the Reader: From the very first sentence, the reader must want to know what happens next. Secret

#2: How to Zero in on Your Point…To hold the brain’s attention, everything in a story must he there on a need-to-know basis.

Secret #3: I’ll Feel What He’s Feeling…All story is emotion based – if we’re not feeling, we’re not reading.

Secret #4: What does your Protagonist Really Want?…A protagonist without a clear goal has nothing to figure out and nowhere to go.

Secret #5: Digging Up Your Protagonist’s Inner Issue…You must know precisely when, and why, your protagonist’s worldview was knocked out of alignment.

Secret #6: The story is in the specifics…Anything conceptual, abstract, or general must be made tangible in the protagonist’s specific struggle.

Secret #7: Courting Conflict. The Agent Of Change…Story is about change, which results only from unavoidable conflict.

Secret #8: Cause of Effect…A story follows a cause-and-effect trajectory from start to finish.

Secret #9: What Can Go Wrong And Then Some…A story’s job is to put the protagonist through tests that, even in her wildest dreams, she doesn’t think she can pass.

Secret #10: The Road from Setup to Payoff…Readers are always on the lookout for patterns; to your reader, everything is either a setup, a payoff. or the road in between.

Secret #11: Meanwhile Back at the Ranch…Foreshadowing, flashbacks, and subplots must instantly give readers insight into what’s happening in the main storyline, even if the meaning shifts as the story unfolds.

Secret #12: The Writer’s Brain On Story…There’s no writing; there’s only rewriting.

Other highlights from the book, include:

So, What Is a Story? “What happens” is the plot. “Someone” is the protagonist. The “goal” is what’s known as the story question. And “how he or she changes” is what the story itself is actually about.

What Is This Story About? 1. Whose story is it? 2. What’s happening here? 3. What’s at stake?

Don’t Bury Your Story in an Empty Plot…A Story Is About How the Plot Affects the Protagonist

Knowing what the focus of your story is allows you to do for your story what your cognitive unconscious does for you: filter out everything extraneous, everything that doesn’t matter. You can use it to test each proposed twist, turn, and character reaction for story relevance.

That’s what readers come for. Their unspoken hardwired question is. If something like this happens to me, what would it feel like? How should I best react? Your protagonist might even be showing them how not to react, which is a pretty handy answer as well.

Adding External Problems Adds Drama Only If They’re Something the Protagonist Must Confront to Overcome Her Issue That’s why, when writing your protagonist’s bio, the goal is to pinpoint two things: the event in his past that knocked his worldview out of alignment, triggering the internal issue that keeps him from achieving his goal; and the inception of his desire for the goal itself. Sometimes they’re one and the same.

Six Places Where the “Specific” Often Goes Missing: 1. The specific reason a character does something…2. The specific thing a metaphor is meant to illuminate…3. The specific memory that a situation invokes in the protagonist…4. The specific reaction a character has to a significant event…5. The specific possibilities that run through the protagonist’s mind as she struggles to make sense of what’s happening…6. The specific rationale behind a character’s change of heart.

Unless They Convey Necessary Information, Sensory Details Clog a Story’s Arteries.

There are three main reasons for any sensory detail to be in a story: 1. It’s part of a cause-and-effect trajectory that relates to the plot—Lucy drinks the shake, she passes out. 2. It gives us insight into the character—Lucy’s an unapologetic hedonist headed for trouble. 3. It’s a metaphor—Lucy’s flavor choice represents how she sees the world. And that, my friends, is what makes stories so deeply satisfying. We get to try on trouble, pretty much risk-free.

Withholding Information Very Often Robs the Story of What Really Hooks Readers

The Importance of the Highway between Setup and Payoff: Three Rules of the Road…Rule One: There must actually be a road…Rule Two: The reader must be able to see the road unfold…Rule Three: The intended payoff must not be patently impossible.

On a concluding note:

Here’s a secret: when you’ve tapped into what it is we’re wired to respond to in a story, what we’re hungry for from the very first sentence, it is your truth we hear. As neuroscientist David Eagleman says, “When you put together large numbers of pieces and parts, the whole can become something larger than the sum…The concept of emergent properties means that something new can be introduced that is not inherent in any of the parts.” What emerges is your vision, seen through the eyes of your readers, experienced by your readers. So what are you waiting for? Write! Although they may not know it yet, your public is eager to find out what happens next.

A must read book on story-telling and writing. For another recommendation within this subject area, I suggest Storycatcher, and The Story Factor.

On The Power Of Habit

I chose to read The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg, given my inherent belief in the power of habits and also the strong review/ratings this book has received. Let me start by saying this book did not disappoint in delivering both in terms of content and delivery.

There are three parts to this work, as summarized by Charles, that cover the power of habits in three contexts from the most specific (individual) to the most general (society):

This book is divided into three parts. The first section focuses on how habits emerge within individual lives. It explores the neurology of habit formation, how to build new habits and change old ones, and the methods, for instance, that one ad man used to push toothbrushing from an obscure practice into a national obsession…The second part examines the habits of successful companies and organizationsThe third part looks at the habits of societies. It recounts how Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement succeeded, in part, by changing the ingrained social habits of Montgomery, Alabama—and why a similar focus helped a young pastor named Rick Warren build the nation’s largest church in Saddleback Valley, California. Finally, it explores thorny ethical questions, such as whether a murderer in Britain should go free if he can convincingly argue that his habits led him to kill. Each chapter revolves around a central argument: Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.

Recent research in neurology and psychology has allowed us to advance our understanding of habits and their impact on our lives:

In the past decade, our understanding of the neurology and psychology of habits and the way patterns work within our lives, societies, and organizations has expanded in ways we couldn’t have imagined fifty years ago. We now know why habits emerge, how they change, and the science behind their mechanics. We know how to break them into parts and rebuild them to our specifications. We understand how to make people eat less, exercise more, work more efficiently, and live healthier lives. Transforming a habit isn’t necessarily easy or quick. It isn’t always simple. But it is possible. And now we understand how.

Habits are necessary shortcuts for our brains:

But that internalization—run straight, hang a left, eat the chocolate—relied upon the basal ganglia, the brain probes indicated. This tiny, ancient neurological structure seemed to take over as the rat ran faster and faster and its brain worked less and less. The basal ganglia was central to recalling patterns and acting on them. The basal ganglia, in other words, stored habits even while the rest of the brain went to sleep…Millions of people perform this intricate ballet every morning, unthinkingly, because as soon as we pull out the car keys, our basal ganglia kicks in, identifying the habit we’ve stored in our brains related to backing an automobile into the street. Once that habit starts unfolding, our gray matter is free to quiet itself or chase other thoughts, which is why we have enough mental capacity to realize that Jimmy forgot his lunchbox inside. Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.

Habits are a process loop consisting of three steps a cues, a trigger and a reward:

This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges…Researchers have learned that cues can be almost anything, from a visual trigger such as a candy bar or a television commercial to a certain place, a time of day, an emotion, a sequence of thoughts, or the company of particular people. Routines can be incredibly complex or fantastically simple (some habits, such as those related to emotions, are measured in milliseconds). Rewards can range from food or drugs that cause physical sensations, to emotional payoffs, such as the feelings of pride that accompany praise or self-congratulation.

Marketing was among the first functions to leverage the power of the habit from a commercial perspective:

“I made for myself a million dollars on Pepsodent,” Hopkins wrote a few years after the product appeared on shelves. The key, he said, was that he had “learned the right human psychology.” That psychology was grounded in two basic rules: First, find a simple and obvious cue. Second, clearly define the rewards. If you get those elements right, Hopkins promised, it was like magic…And those same principles have been used to create thousands of other habits—often without people realizing how closely they are hewing to Hopkins’s formula.

Sport teams/coaching leverage habits as well:

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

How can we effectively change a habit? The golden rule of habit change:

His coaching (Dungy) strategy embodied an axiom, a Golden Rule of habit change that study after study has shown is among the most powerful tools for creating change. Dungy recognized that you can never truly extinguish bad habits. Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine. That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same

The other key ingredient to successfully changing a habit? Belief:

It wasn’t God that mattered, the researchers figured out. It was belief itself that made a difference. Once people learned how to believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could change. Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.

What about for changing corporate habits? The key there is to tackle a keystone habit that sets a chain reaction of changes:

‘I knew I had to transform Alcoa,” O’Neill told me. “But you can’t order people to change – That’s not how the brain works. So I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.” O’Neill believed that some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are “keystone habits,” and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything…If you focus on changing or cultivating keystone habits, you can cause widespread shifts. However, identifying keystone habits is tricky. To find them, you have to know where to look. Detecting keystone habits means searching out certain characteristics. Keystone habits offer what is known within academic literature as “small wins.” They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.

Corporate habits are necessary shortcuts, just as our individual ones are for our brains:

Or, put in language that people use outside of theoretical economics, it may seem like most organizations make rational choices based on deliberate decision making, but that’s not really how companies operate at all. Instead, firms are guided by long-held organizational habits, patterns that often emerge from thousands of employees’ independent decisions. And these habits have more profound impacts than anyone previously understood…These organizational habits—or “routines,” as Nelson and Winter called them—are enormously important, because without them, most companies would never get any work done. Routines provide the hundreds of unwritten rules that companies need to operate. They allow workers to experiment with new ideas without having to ask for permission at every step.

In some cases, a crisis is needed to remake or changes some of these organizational habits:

Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits…In fact, crises are such valuable opportunities that a wise leader often prolongs a sense of emergency on purpose.

On social movements, and the role of habits to make them self-propelling and help them achieve critical mass:

A movement starts because of the social habits of friendship and the strong ties between close acquaintances. It grows because of the habits of a community, and the weak ties that hold neighborhoods and clans together. And it endures because a movement’s leaders give participants new habits that create a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership. Usually only when all three parts of this process are fulfilled can a movement become self-propelling and reach a critical mass. There are other recipes for successful social change and hundreds of details that differ between eras and struggles. But understanding how social habits work helps explain why Montgomery and Rosa Parks became the catalyst for a civil rights crusade.

On a concluding note:

Habits are not as simple as they appear. As I’ve tried to demonstrate throughout this book, habits—even once they are rooted in our minds—aren’t destiny. We can choose our habits, once we know how. Everything we know about habits, from neurologists studying amnesiacs and organizational experts remaking companies, is that any of them can be changed, if you understand how they function. Hundreds of habits influence our days—they guide how we get dressed in the morning, talk to our kids, and fall asleep at night; they impact what we eat for lunch, how we do business, and whether we exercise or have a beer after work. Each of them has a different cue and offers a unique reward. Some are simple and others are complex, drawing upon emotional triggers and offering subtle neurochemical prizes. But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager. However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it—and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real.

A must read book, and quoting Daniel H. Pink‘s advance praise of it – “Once you read this book, you’ll never look at yourself, your organization, or your world quite the same way.”

On Unleashing The Power Of IT

I just finished reading the book Unleashing The Power Of IT – Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together by my colleague Dan Roberts at Ouellette and Associates. Dan had generously and graciously offered me a copy of this book.

Below are key excerpts from the books that I found to be particularly insightful:

1) “But still, I firmly believe that IT organizations can be well positioned to compete as their companies’ value-added provider of choice—if and only //they’re ready to take a hard look at themselves and make some changes, both in regard to how they approach their work and the personal skill set they consider essential to tackling the demands of an ever-changing business environment. The bottom line is that the IT professional of the past won’t cut it in today’s corporate world.”

2) “Five Critical Success Factors That Enable IT Organizational Excellence…Leadership: Positively Influence and Inspire Others…Strategy: Establish the Right Game Plan for Your Organization…People: Hire and Professionally Develop Your Winning Team…Best Practices: Select and Customize Them to Fit Your Organization…Execution: Translate Your Strategy, Goals, and Initiatives into Specific Action Plans That Deliver Measurable Results.”

3) “In summary, leaders need to do the following in hiring and professional development: -Instill leadership competencies and behaviors. -Select people with the right skills and experiences that align with the position qualifications to execute the technology strategy. -Build leadership bench strength. -Embrace performance measurement and best practice methodologies that shape behaviors into desired results. -Learn how to select the right employees the first time. -Identify professional development programs that deliver sustainable results through phased-in learning, accountability mechanisms, and coaching. -Recognize that employee interpersonal competency and skill development is mandatory.”

4) “The Commitment Component of Change: ♦ Compliance vs. Commitment ♦ Changing Minds ♦ Understanding Resistance ♦ Emotional Cycles of Change…The Community Component of Change: ♦ Change Leadership ♦ Key Roles in the Change Process ♦ Transition Structures ♦ Network of Resources…The Clarity Component of Change ♦ Case for Change ♦ Urgency for Change ♦Capacity for Change ♦ Readiness Assessment ♦ Impact of Change…The Communication Component of Change: ♦ Mission and Vision ♦ Rich, Detailed Pictures ♦ Levels and Outcomes ♦ Build Your Tool Kit ♦ Communication Plan”

5) “Whether or not your staff believes it, the best way to build client loyalty is not by proving IT’s technology prowess but by building a service strategy that enables internal IT to be seen as a top provider of service. In fact, a well-developed and well-communicated service strategy is critical in today’s IT organizations. Clients demand service to be immediate and proactive, and if they don’t get it internally, they’ll find it elsewhere, by hiring either their own staff or external vendors. Indeed, good service is no longer just something that’s nice to have; it’s the make-or-break factor that determines whether clients choose internal IT or someone else to deliver the solutions they need.”

6) “IT leaders need to help all members of the IT staff develop a new mind-set 50 foster the transition of their organizations into a service-oriented culture. Here are three skills I teach in my workshops to evolve the participants’ mind-set toward a service-oriented culture. Developing a “We” Mentality…Learning to Love Complaints…1. Thank the client for making the complaint…2. Gather more information…3. Apologize for the circumstances…4. Ask how you can help…Making Every Interaction Count.”

7) “If you map out all the moments of truth that clients experience with the IT organization and assess what their experience is like through those interactions, you’ll have a good idea of your organization’s level of service and where it needs to improve. This can range from voice tone and body language to a grander scale, like revamping all your forms or streamlining your web site interface.”

8) “The big secret to managing expectations is the ability to understand what the client’s expectation is in the first place. That might sound really obvious, but IT organizations are often afraid to ask this question because they are concerned they won’t meet it. However, it’s impossible to meet an expectation that’s unknown. After understanding the client’s expectations, the next step is to stop focusing on what you can’t do and gear your mind to what you can do…There seems to be an awkwardness (almost an embarrassment) when IT manages expectations. However, I like to remind people I work with that clients are very used to this behavior from external vendors.”

9) “Here are the general characteristics that clients expect to see in a consultant: ■ Confidence in his or her own capabilities without arrogance ■ Enthusiasm and complete engagement during the project ■ Accessibility and responsiveness ■Knowledge about the client’s line of business and a willingness to learn more ■ Dedication to the client’s best interests”

10) “The more empathetic you are, the more you demonstrate to the client that you understand his or her reality. That creates the confidence that you’ll be able to work through future issues constructively…But being an effective consultant isn’t about the right answer. If other’s can’t hear what you have to say because of how you deliver the message. you have lost your ability to influence. Delivery is everything. If I have an important point to make, the other person is much more likely to hear me if I have been equally interested in his or her perspective. How I demonstrate that respect is empathy. In most conversations, that can be a simple paraphrase or acknowledgment of the other person’s idea first, before I add my two cents.”

11) “It’s my belief that to succeed in the IT profession today, all of IT—including IT leaders and the people who report to them—must get past their aversion to negotiating and learn how to manage the conflict that’s an inevitable part of their everyday lives. The good news is that good negotiators aren’t born; they’re taught. In fact, for a long time, I’ve strongly believed that IT professionals could do a better job negotiating if they learned about interest negotiations rather than better job negotiating if they learned about interest negotiations rather than using position negotiations.”

12) “Positions limit negotiations because there’s not a lot to negotiate over, and they create linear situations, with the participants starting at extreme endpoints and then moving along the continuum to some point at which both agree to agree…By talking about interests, the scope of potential negotiating possibilities increases dramatically. The two of them now can generate a list of options based on the different interests they have just stated…That’s because interests define each party’s real needs, wants, or concern. Interests are broader than and can be very different from stated positions. When you understand your own interests as well as those of the other party, you can spend your time developing possible options, not fighting over small concessions about one item.”

13) “Becoming politically savvy doesn’t come naturally. IT leaders need to develop skills—both personally and among their staffs—that will increase political awareness and make the IT organization successful at navigating through politically churned-up waters. Here are some of the key skills required. Creativity…Interpersonal…Effectiveness…Communication…Focus…Interests…Flexibility…Trust …Support…Conflict Management.”

14) “I purposely use the word lead rather than manage or control. Leadership extends both the client’s and the project manager’s sphere of influence beyond the mere administration of a project. Leadership by the client enables the project’s objective. It raises the stakes, legitimizes the need, and changes the effort from a game to a cause. One of the most powerful motivators for IT professionals is the opportunity to make a real difference in the business. It’s truly regrettable that so few business clients take advantage of this powerful secret to project success. Leadership by the project manager emboldens the actions of the team. Project teams thrive on being allowed (or empowered) to be creative, to experience the excitement of discovery, to enjoy a sense of real accomplishment, and to have fun while doing great things. A good project manager can lead a project team to places it could never be driven to…One final point about motivation: It is not something a project manager does to the team members. Rather, it’s something the team members do for themselves. Motivation is a door that is locked from the inside. The best a project manager can do is create a climate that enables and encourages good work. The vast majority of IT professionals I’ve met in my career want to do a good job. It’s truly unfortunate that too many of them are forced into situations that discourage, inhibit, and occasionally even penalize their best efforts. The key is to manipulate the environment, not the people.”

15) “You’ll know you have a high-performance, gelled team when you see the following characteristics: A shared elevating vision or goal A strong sense of team identity ■ Mutual trust ■ The interdependence of team members ■ Open and effective communication ■ A sense of autonomy ■ Low turrnover ■ Joint ownership of the product ■ A high level of obvious enjoyment”

16) “There are three primary reasons that companies look outside the internal IT organization for technology services: cost control, the desire to focus on core competencies, and supply-demand fluctuation. Very often, however, when I ask clients why they’re outsourcing, they don’t know what the goals are. And even when they do know, they’re not using metrics that tell them whether they’re meeting those goals. The vast majority of people I encounter say they’re outsourcing to control costs, yet only about half use cost as a metric. So it’s important to understand why you’re outsourcing, in the context of the corporate strategy.”

17) “The formulation of the IT organization’s image as the service provider of choice k one of the most important factors for a successful IT cultural transformation…For all these reasons, IT needs to market internally; to increase its credibility, build partnerships, and turn around any negative perceptions. This marketing is not about hype and empty promises; it’s about creating an awareness of IT’s value. It’s about changing client perceptions by presenting a clear, consistent message about the value of IT. After all, if you don’t market yourself, someone else will, and you might not like the image you end up with…So the first step is marketing to the IT organization that marketing is a good thing. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most effective is to let your IT staff know how important this is to your success and help the staff feel accountable for marketing. To elicit positive marketing behaviors from the entire IT team, IT leaders need to tie the marketing mind-set to measurements that provide incentive and reward.”

18) “How do you know when you’ve succeeded with your marketing efforts? What are the indicators of a good marketing plan? The first is to define up front what will determine success rather than waiting until the end. You need to know before you begin what you want to happen as a result of your efforts. Other indicators are the following: Your clients are requesting that IT be more involved in their business such as inviting you to business planning and strategy meetings or having you review and influence their technology decisions. ■ Your budget requests are being met without your having to constantly justify your existence and contributions. ■ Your current clients are referring others to you, or you can imagine your clients saying, “Hey, IT really helped us out,” rather than “Oh, those IT people!” ■ Requests for your assistance are becoming more focused and more in line with the products and services you actually provide. ■ You are getting unsolicited positive feedback, both formal and informal, from your clients and senior management. ■ Morale in the IT department is high. ■ IT is being included in merger and acquisition negotiations and due diligence. ■ IT is being included in meetings and sales processes with big C-level clients.”

19) “”Trust,” Davis proclaimed, “is something you receive for meeting or exceeding client expectations while being empathetic and understanding to institutional, departmental, and individual desires.””

20) “The 12 Core Competencies: 1) Influencing Others 2) Enabling Change 3) Leadership 4) Strategic Focus 5) Communication 6) Collaboration 7) Organizational Understanding 8) Problem Solving 9) Business Acumen 10) Project Management 11) Technical Understanding 12) Client Orientation ”


Omar Halabieh

On The Leadership Challenge

I recently finished reading The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Whether in their early twenties, late seventies, or anywhere between, leaders told us that the fundamentals of leadership are the same today as they were in the 1980s, and they’ve probably have been the same for centuries. Yet the leaders were quick to add that while the content of leadership has not changed, the context—and, in some cases, it has changed dramatically. What is this new context, and what are the implications for the practice of leadership? From heightening uncertainty across the world to an intense search for meaning, our connections as people and as leaders are part of this context. Heightened uncertainty…People first…We’re even more connected…Social capital…Speed…A changing workforce…Even more intense search for meaning.”

2- “Leaders do exhibit certain distinct practices when they are doing their best. This process varies little from industry to industry, profession to profession, community to community, country to country. Good leadership is individual, there are patterns to the practice of leadership that are shared. And that can be learned.”

3- “As we looked deeper into the dynamic process of leadership, through case analyses and survey questionnaires, we uncovered five practices common to personal-best leadership experiences. When getting extraordinary things done in organizations, leaders engage in these Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership: Model the Way. Inspire a Shared Vision. Challenge the Process. Enable Others to Act. Encourage the Heart.”

4- “Modeling the way is essentially about earning the right and the respect to lead through direct individual involvement and action. People first follow the person, then the plan.”

5- ” Leaders know well that innovation and change all involve experimentation, risk, and failure. They proceed anyway. One way of dealing with the potential risks and failures of experimentation is to approach change through incremental steps and small wins. Little victories, when piled on top of each other, build confidence that even the biggest challenges can be met. In so doing, they strengthen commitment to the long-term future. Yet not everyone is equally comfortable with risk and uncertainty. Leaders also pay attention to the capacity of their constituents to take control of challenging situations and become fully committed to change. You can’t exhort people to take risks if they don’t also feel safe.”

6- “Constituents neither perform at their best nor stick around for very long if their leader makes them feel weak, dependent, or alienated. But when a leader makes people feel strong and capable— as if they can do more than they ever thought possible—they’ll give it their all and exceed their own expectations. When leadership is a relationship founded on trust and confidence, people take risks, make changes, keep organizations and movements alive. Through that relationship, leaders turn their constituents into leaders themselves.”

7- “Success in leadership, success in business, and success in life has been, is now, and will continue to be a function of how well people work and play together. We’re even more convinced of this today than we were twenty years ago. Success in leading will be wholly dependent upon the capacity to build and sustain those human relationships that enable people to get extraordinary things done on a regular basis.”

8- “THE TEN COMMITMENTS OF LEADERSHIP: 1. Find your voice by clarifying your personal values. 2. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values. 3. Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. 4. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations. 5. Search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow, and improve. 6. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes. 7. Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust. 8. Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion. 9. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence. 10. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.”

9- “As the data clearly show, for people to follow someone willingly, the majority of constituents must believe the leader is: Honest, Competent, Forward-looking and Inspiring.”

10- “To gain and sustain the moral authority to lead, it’s essential to Model the Way. Because of this important connection between words and actions, we’ve chosen to start our discussion of the Five Practices with a thorough examination of the principles and behaviors that bring Model the Way to life. First, in Chapter Three, we introduce you to why it’s essential to Find Your Voice—that unique expression of yourself that gives you the inner strength as a leader to «j«v what you will do. Then, in Chapter Four, we’ll take a look at how leaders Set the Example, the second half of the formula for establishing credibility. You’ll see how leaders must focus on their own personal values and how they must build and affirm shared values. Throughout the chapters and the action steps, you’ll also learn methods to align actions with values—the step in the process that communicates with deeds. not just words.”

11- ” Voice in this context is both a noun and a verb. It encompasses words and speech. There’s the message we want to deliver, and then there’s the expression of that message. It’s about having a voice and about giving voice. To Find Your Voice you must engage in two essentials: Clarify your values, Express your self. To become a credible leader, first you have to comprehend fully the values, beliefs, and assumptions that drive you. You have to freely and honestly choose the principles you will use to guide your actions. Before you can clearly communicate your message, you must be clear about the message you want to deliver. And before you can do what you say, you must be sure that you mean what you say. Second, you have to genuinely express your self. The words themselves aren’t enough, no matter how noble. You must authentically communicate your beliefs in ways that uniquely represent who you are. You must interpret the lyrics and shape them into your own singular presentation so that Others recognize that you’re the one who’s speaking and not someone else.”

12- “Values influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals…Values also serve as guides to action. They inform our decisions as to what to do and what not to do; when to say yes, or no, and really understand why we mean it…Values are empowering. We are much more in control of our own lives when we’re clear about our personal values. When values are clear we don’t have to rely upon direction from someone in authority…Values also motivate. They keen us focused on why we’re doing what we’re doing and the ends toward which we’re striving. Values are the banners that fly as we persist, as we struggle, as we toil.”

13- “People want to be part of something larger than themselves. What we’re savings is this: people cannot fully commit to an organization or a movement that does not fit with their own beliefs. Leaders must pay as much attention to personal values as they do to organizational values if they want dedicated constituents.”

14- “The Three Stages of Self-Expression: Finding one’s voice and finding one’s unique way of expressing the self is something that every artist understands, and every artist knows that finding a voice is most definitely not a matter of technique. It’s a matter of time and a matter of searching—soul-searching…When first learning to lead, we paint what we see outside ourselves—the exterior landscape. We read biographies and autobiographies about famous leaders. We observe master models and ask the advice of mentors. We read books and listen to audiotapes by experienced executives. We participate in training programs. We take on job assignments so that we can work alongside someone who can coach us. We want to learn everything we can from Others, and we often try to copy their style…Somewhere along the way, you’ll notice that your speech sounds mechanically wrote, that your meetings are a boring routine, and that your interactions feel terribly sad and empty. You’ll awaken to the frightening thought that the words aren’t yours, that the vocabulary is someone else’s, that the technique is right out of the text but not straight from the heart. While you’ve invested so much time and energy in learning to do all the right things, you suddenly see that they’re no longer serving you well. The methods seem hollow. You may even feel like a phony…If, as David did, you’re fortunate enough to experience an integrative turning point in your development—a point where you’re able to merge the lessons from your outer and inner journeys—you move on to becoming an authentic leader, in whatever field you’ve chosen for yourself. You’re able to recognize your own voice from the multitude of other voices ringing in your ears, and you find ways to express yourself in a singular style. You become the author of your own experience.”

15- “There are five essential aspects to their behavior and actions that leaders need to be conscious about in their efforts to align shared values through the example of the actions they take: 1) Calendars, 2) Critical incidents, 3) Stories, analogies, and metaphors 4) Language 5) Measurements.”

16- “Create alignment around key values. Researchers have demonstrated that there are three central themes in the values of highly successful, strong-culture organizations: High performance standards. A caring attitude toward people. A sense of uniqueness and pride.”

17- “When we feel passionately about the legacy we want to leave, about the kind of future world we want for ourselves and for others, then we are much more likely to voluntarily step forward. If we don’t have the slightest clue about our hopes, dreams, and aspirations, then the chance that we’ll take the lead is significantly less. In fact, we may not even see the opportunity that’s right in front of us.”

18- “At the beginning what leaders have is a theme. They have concerns, desires. questions, propositions, arguments, hopes, dreams, and aspirations—core concepts around which they organize their aspirations and actions. Leaders begin the process of Envisioning the Future by discovering their own themes. Everything else leaders say about their vision is an elaboration, interpretation. and variation on that theme. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your ability to articulate your own themes and ultimately your visions of the future. Express Your Passion…Explore Your Past…Pay Attention to Your Experiences…Immerse Yourself.”

19- “Leaders are possibility thinkers, not probability thinkers. Probabilities must be based upon evidence strong enough to establish presumption. Possibilities are not. All new ventures begin with possibility thinking, not probability thinking. After all, the probability is that most new businesses will fail and most social reforms will never get off the ground. If entrepreneurs or activists accepted this view, however, they’d never start a new business or organize a community. Instead, they begin with the assumption that anything is possible. Like entrepreneurs and other activists, leaders assume that anything is possible. It’s this belief that sustains them through the difficult times.”

20- “Whether they’re trying to mobilize a crowd in the grandstand or one person in the office, leaders must practice these three essentials to Enlist Others: Listen deeply to others. Discover and appeal to a common purpose. Give life to a vision by communicating expressively, so that people can see themselves in it.”

21- “If you want to create a climate that sustains personal-best leadership experiences, what situations would you look for? What context would most likely offer the right conditions? What leadership actions are required to establish a culture that is characterized by challenge, energy, excitement. determination, inspiration, and innovation? It’s already clear that you need shared values and a shared vision. What else? To Search for Opportunities to get extraordinary things done, leaders make use of four essentials: Seize the initiative. Make challenge meaningful. Innovate and create. Look outward for fresh ideas. Leaders take charge of change. They instill a sense of adventure in others, they look for ways to radically alter the status quo, and they continuously scan the outside environment for new and fresh ideas. Leaders always search for opportunities for ways to do what has never been done.”

22- “Leaders raise the bar gradually and offer coaching and training to build skills that help people get over each new level…They challenge people, sometimes to their very cores—and participants come out changed and ready to take on new risks and experiments…In this endeavor, Reno and Randi demonstrate, as do all exemplary leaders, the need to: Initiate incremental steps and small wins. Learn from mistakes. Promote psychological hardiness.”

23- “High-stress/low-illness executives made these assumptions about themselves in interaction with the world: 1- They felt a strong sense of control believing that they could beneficially influence the direction and outcome of what was going on around them through their own efforts. Lapsing into powerlessness, feeling like a victim of circumstances, and passivity seemed like a waste of time to them. 2- They were strong in commitment, believing that they could find something important, or worthwhile. They were curious about what was going on around them, and this led them to find interactions with people and situations stimulating and meaningful. They were unlikely to engage in denial or feel disengaged, bored, and empty. 3- They felt strong in challenge, believing that personal improvement and fulfillment came through the continual process of learning from both negative and positive experiences. They felt that it was not only unrealistic but also stultifying to simply expect, or even wish for, easy comfort and security.”

24- “Turbulence in the marketplace, it turns out, requires more collaboration, not less. Collaboration is the critical competency for achieving and sustaining high performance—especially in the Internet Age!..Indeed, world-class performances aren’t possible unless there’s a strong sense of shared creation and shared responsibility. To Foster Collaboration, leaders are essential who can skillfully: Create a climate of trust. Facilitate positive interdependence. Support face-to-face interactions.”

25- “To put it quite simply, trust is the most significant predictor of Individuals’ satisfaction with their organizations. When leaders create a climate of trust, they take away the controls and allow people to be free to innovate and contribute. Trusting leaders nurture openness, involvement, personal satisfaction, and high levels of commitment to excellence. Be Open to Influence…Make Yourself Vulnerable…Listen, Listen, Listen.”

26- “Creating a climate where people are involved and important is at the heart of strengthening others. People must have the latitude to make decisions based on what they believe should be done. They must work in an environment that both builds their ability to perform a task or complete an assignment and promotes a sense of self-confidence in their judgment. People must experience a sense of personal accountability so that they can feel ownership for their achievements. We’ve identified four leadership essentials to Strengthen Others: Ensure self-leadership. Provide choice. Develop competence and confidence. Foster accountability.”

27- “Exemplary leaders understand this need to Recognize Contributions and are constantly engaged in these essentials: Focus on clear standards. Expect the best. Pay attention. Personalize recognition.”

28- “Leaders are out there for a reason. One of the reasons, we would maintain, is to show that you care. One way of showing you care is to pay attention to people, to what they are doing, and to how they are feeling. And if you are clear about the standards you’re looking for and you believe and expect that people will perform like winners, then you’re going to notice lots of examples of people doing things right and doing the right things. In contrast, what happens in organizations where managers are constantly on the lookout for problems? Three things: managers get a distorted view of reality; over time, production declines; and the managers’ personal liability hits bottom. Wandering around with an eye for trouble is likely to get you just that. More trouble.”

29- “When we’re open we make ourselves vulnerable—and this vulnerability makes us more human and more trusted. If neither person in a relationship takes the risk of trusting, at least a little, the relationship remains stalled at a low-level of caution and suspicion. If leaders want the higher levels of performance that come with trust and collaboration, then they must demonstrate their trust in others before asking for trust from others. As discussed in Chapter Nine, when it comes to trust, leaders ante up first.”

30- “If leaders are to effectively Celebrate the Values and Victories, they must master these three essentials: Create a spirit of community. Tell the story. Set the example. By bringing people together, sharing the lessons from success, and getting personally involved, leaders reinforce in others the courage required to get extraordinary things done in organizations.”

31- “Stories put a human face on success. They tell us that someone just like us can make it happen. They create organizational role models that everyone can relate to. They put the behavior in a real context. They make standards more than statistics; they make standards come alive. By telling a story in detail, leaders illustrate what everyone needs to do to live by the organizational standards.”

32- “The process of development should never be intrusive. It should never be about just filling someone full of facts or skills. It won’t work. Education should always be liberating. It should be about releasing what is already inside. The quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are. Through self-development comes the confidence needed to lead. Self-confidence is really awareness of and faith in your own powers. These powers become clear and strong only as you work to identify and develop them. Learning to lead is about discovering what you care about and value. About what inspires you. About what challenges you. About what gives you power and competence. About what encourages you. When you discover these things about yourself, you’ll know what it takes to lead those qualities out of others. Sure, we’ve said already that every leader has to learn the fundamentals and the discipline, and to a certain extent there’s some period during which you’re trying out a lot of new things. It’s a necessary stage in your development as a leader. The point is you have to take what’s been acquired and reshape into your own expression of yourself.Sometimes liberation is as uncomfortable as intrusion, but in the end when you discover it for yourself you know that what’s inside is what you put there and what belongs there. It’s not something put inside you by someone else; it’s what you discover for yourself.”

33- “Leadership practices per se are amoral. But leaders—the men and women who use the practices—are moral or immoral. There’s an ethical dimension to leadership that neither leaders nor constituents should take lightly. This is why we began our discussion of leadership practices with a focus on finding your voice—your authentic self grounded in a set of values and ideals. These, you have to find for yourself and test against others. There are. according to the late John Gardner, Stanford professor, secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Johnson administration, and founder of Common Cause, four moral goals of leadership: Releasing human potential. Balancing the needs of the individual and the community. Defending the fundamental values of the community. Instilling in individuals a sense of initiative and responsibility Attending to these goals will always direct your eyes to higher purposes. As you work to become all you can be, you can start to let go of your petty self-interests. As you give back some of what you’ve been given, you can reconstruct your community. As you serve the values of freedom, justice, equality, caring, and dignity, you can constantly renew the foundations of democracy. As each of us takes individual responsibility for creating the world of our dreams, we can all participate in leading.”

34- “Humility is the only way to resolve the conflicts and contradictions of leadership. You can avoid excessive pride only if you recognize that you’re human and need the help of others.”

35- “Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. It’s hard to imagine leaders getting up day after day, putting in the long hours and hard work it takes to get extraordinary things done, without having their hearts in it. The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its work. Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”


Omar Halabieh

The Leadership Challenge

On Influencer

I recently finished reading Influencer – The Power To Change Anything – by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The promise of this book is that almost all the profound, pervasive, and persistent problems we face in our lives, our companies, and our world can be solved. They can be solved because these problems don’t require solutions that defy the laws of nature; they require people to act differently. And while it’s true that most of us aren’t all that skilled at getting ourselves and others to behave differently, there are experts out there who do it all the time.”

2- “Since our ineffectiveness at influencing others stems from a simple inability rather than a character flaw or lack of motivation, the solution lies in continued learning;. We can become powerful influencers. We don’t have to wait for everyone else to miraculously change. We won’t have to constantly seek serenity.”

3- “Before you can influence change, you have to decide to focus on behaviors. They’re universally firm on this point. They don’t dive into developing influence strategies until they’ve carefully identified the behaviors they want to influence. And now for the big idea: A few behaviors can drive a lot of change. The breakthrough discovery of most influence geniuses is that enormous influence comes from focusing on just a few vital behaviors.”

4- “Search for Behaviors. Take care to ensure that you’re searching for strategies that focus on behavior. Don’t let experts pass off outcomes as behaviors…Search for Vital Behaviors. Master influencers know that a few behaviors can drive big change. They look carefully for the vital behaviors that create a cascade of change. No matter the size of the problem, if you dilute your efforts across dozens of behaviors, you’ll never reach critical mass…Search for Recovery Behaviors. People make mistakes, and yet some find a way to quickly get back on track rather than sink further into despair…Test Your Results. Finally, if you’ve conducted your own research and found candidates for what you think are high leverage vital behaviors, test your ideas. Implement the proposed actions and see if they yield the results you want. Don’t merely measure the presence or absence of the vital behaviors; also check to see whether the results you want are happening.”

5- “The great persuader is personal experience.”

6- “CHANGING MINDS…People will attempt to change their behavior if (1) they believe it will be worth it, and (2) they can do what is required. Instill these two views, and individuals will at least try to enact a new behavior nr perhaps stop an old one. To change one or both of these views, most people rely on verbal persuasion. Talk is easy, and it works a great deal of the time. However, with persistent and resistant problems, talk has very likely failed in the past. and it’s time to help individuals experience for themselves the and it’s time to help individuals experience for themselves the benefits of the proposed behavior. It’s time for a field trip. When it’s impossible to create an actual experience, it’s best to create a vicarious experience. For most of us, that means we’ll make use of a well-told story. Stories provide every person, no matter how limited his or her resources, with an influence tool that is both immediately accessible and enormously powerful. Poignant narratives help is being spoken and into the experience itself Because they create vivid images and provide concrete detail, stories are more understandable than terse lectures. Because they focus on the simple reality of an actual event, stories are often more credible than simple statements of fact. Finally, as listeners dive into the narrative and suspend disbelief, stories create an empathic reaction that feels just as real as enacting the behavior themselves. Tell the whole story. Make sure that the narrative you’re employing contains a clear link between the current behaviors and existing (or possibly future) negative results. Also make sure that the story includes positive replacement behaviors that yield new and better results. Remember, stories need to deal with both “Will it be worth it?” and “Can I do it?” When it comes to changing behavior, nothing else matters.”

7- “With the new question, Miller discovered that the best way to help individuals reconnect their existing unhealthy behaviors to their long-term values was to stop trying to control their thoughts and behaviors. You must replace judgment with empathy, and lectures with questions. If you do so, you gain influence. The instant you stop trying to impose your agenda on others, you eliminate the fight for control. You sidestep irrelevant battles over whose view of the world is correct.”

8- “INTRINSIC SATISFACTION: Helping people extract intrinsic satisfaction from the right behavior or feel displeasure with the wrong behavior often calls for several influence strategies. With individuals who believe that the required behaviors won’t be pleasurable, simply immerse them in the activity…As you experiment with new actions, focus on the sense of accomplishment associated with the result. Revel in achieving for the sake of achieving. Tap into people’s sense of pride and competition. And when it comes to long-term achievement. link into people’s view of who they want to be…When dealing with activities that are rarely satisfying or unhealthy activities that are very satisfying, take the focus off the activity itself and reconnect the vital behavior to the person’s sense of values. Don’t be afraid to talk openly about the long-term values individuals are currently either supporting or violating…As people slip further into inappropriate behavior—even causing severe damage to themselves or others—help them reconnect their actions to their sense of morality by fighting moral disengagement. Don’t let people minimize or justify their behavior by transforming humans into statistics. Finally, when facing highly resistant people. don’t try to gain control over them by wowing them with logic and argument. Instead, talk with them about what they want. Allow them to discover on their own the links between their current behavior and what they really want.”

9- “PERSONAL ABILITY: When it comes to complex tasks that matter a great deal to you in your quest to resolve persistent problems, don’t suffer from arrested development. Demand more from yourself than the achievement levels you reach after minimal effort. Instead, set aside time to study and practice new and more vital behaviors. Devote attention to clear, specific, and repeatable actions. Ensure that the actions you’re pursuing are both recognizable and replicable. Then seek outside help. Insist on immediate feedback against clear standards. Break tasks into discrete actions, set goals for each, practice within a low-risk environment, and buffed in recovery strategies. Finally, make sure that you apply the same deliberate practice tactics to physical, intellectual, and even complex social skills. Many of the vital behaviors required to solve profound and persistent problems demand advanced interpersonal problem-solving skills that can be mastered only through well-researched, deliberate practice. With instinctive demands and quick emotional reactions. don’t let the “go” system take control from your “know” system unless you’re facing a legitimate risk to life and limb. To regain emotional control over your genetically wired responses, take the focus off your instinctive objective by carefully attending to distraction activities. Where possible, completely avoid the battle to delay gratification by making the difficult easy, the averse pleasant, and the boring interesting. When strong emotions take over because you’ve drawn harsh, negative conclusions about others, reappraise the situation by asking yourself complex questions that force your frontal lobe to wrest control away from the amygdala.”

10- “SOCIAL SUPPORT: People who are respected and connected can exert an enormous amount of influence over any change effort. Under stressful and ambiguous circumstances, the mere glance from what appears to be a respected official can be enough to propel people to act in ways that are hard to imagine. Fortunately, this “power of one” can also be used to encourage pro-social behavior. When a required behavior is difficult or unpopular or possibly even questionable, it often takes the support of “the right one”—an opinion leader—to propel people to embrace an innovation. Learn how to identify and co-opt these important people. Ignore opinion leaders at your own peril. Sometimes change efforts call for changes in widely shared norms. Almost everyone in a community has to talk openly about a proposed change in behavior before it can be safely embraced by anyone. This calls for public discourse. Detractors will often suggest that it’s inappropriate to hold such an open discourse, and they may even go so far as to suggest that the topic is undiscussable. Ignore those who seek silence instead of healthy dialogue. Make it safe to talk about high-stakes and controversial topics. Finally, some change efforts are so profound that they require the help of everyone involved to enable people to make the change. When breaking away from habits that are continually reinforced by a person’s existing social network, people must be plucked from their support structure and placed in a new network, one where virtually everyone in their new social circle supports and rewards the right behaviors while punishing the wrong.”

11- “SOCIAL ABILITY: In an interdependent, turbulent world, our biggest opponents—the mortal enemy of all families, companies, and communities—may well be our inability to work in concert. Since rarely does any one of us have all that’s required to succeed with the complex tasks we face every day, we desperately need to build social capital…Savvy influencers know better than to turn their backs on social capital. They’re quick to consider what help, authority. consent, or cooperation individuals may need when facing risky or daunting new behaviors. Then they develop an influence strategy that offers the social capital required to help make change inevitable.”

12- “REWARDS: Administering rewards and punishments can be a tricky business. Consequently, when you look at the extrinsic motivators you’re using to encourage or discourage behavior, take care to adhere to a few helpful principles. First, rely on personal and social motivators as your first line of attack. Let the value of the behavior itself, along with social motivators, carry the bulk of the motivational load. When you do c choose to employ extrinsic rewards, make sure that they are immediately linked to vital behaviors. Take care to link rewards to the specific actions you want to see repeated. When choosing rewards, don’t be afraid to draw on small, heartfelt tokens of appreciation. Remember, when it comes to extrinsic rewards, less is often more. Do your best to reward behaviors and not merely outcomes. Sometimes outcomes hide inappropriate behaviors. Finally, if you end up having to administer punishment, first take a shot across the bow. Let people know what’s coming before you drop the hammer.”

13- “CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT: When it comes to developing a change strategy, we just don’t think about things as our first line of influence. Given that things are far easier to change than people, and that these things can then have a permanent impact on how people behave, it’s high time we pick up on the lead of Whyte, Steele, Wansink, and others and add the power of the environment to our influence repertoire. And who knows? Someday an everyday person may even be able to say the word propinquity in public without drawing snickers.”


Omar Halabieh


On Leading Change

I recently finished reading Leading Change – Overcoming the Ideology of Comfort and the Tyranny of Custom by James O”Toole.

The aim of this book, as summarized best by the author, is to address three related questions: “1) What are the causes of resistance to change? 2) How can leaders effectively and morally overcome that resistance? 3) Why is the dominant philosophy of leadership, based on contingency theory neither an effective nor a moral guide for people who wish to lead change?”. The book addresses these questions through two parts. The first one focuses on the leaders, particularly on values-based leadership (so-called Rushmorean leadership). The second, on the followers with a focus on why people tend to resist change, and strategies to overcome that resistance.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book are the numerous reviews of other classics within these subject areas, which helps the reader further anchor the thoughts being introduced and how they are supported and/or are different from those introduced by the author. A recommended read in the areas of leadership and change!

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “In complex, democratic settings, effective leadership will entail the factors and dimensions of vision, trust, listening, authenticity, integrity, hope, and, especially, addressing the true needs of followers.”

2- “As Nelson Mandela understood, people will follow only leaders who take them where they want to go. Leaders thus beget followers, and they do so by allowing the followers to take the leader’s dream as their own. This can occur only when leaders acknowledge the legitimacy of followers’ competing beliefs and diverse values. Hence the overall conclusion from our inquiry: for leadership to be effective, it must be moral, and the sine qua non of morality is respect for people. (This is the concept of leadership we are calling Rushmorean).”

3- “In sum, Rushmorean leadership is not about voting; it is about the democratic value of inclusion. There is nothing oxymoronic, chaotic, or ineffective about leadership based on that moral principle.”

4- “What we will find is that people in organizations resist change advocated by their leaders for exactly the same reasons that the leaders of organizations resist change advocated by outsiders.”

5- “In general, the successful processes of change initiated…had the following things in common: 1) Change had top-management support. 2) Change built on the unique strengths and values of the corporation. 3) The specifics of change were not imposed from the top. 4) Change was holistic. 5) Change was planned. 6) Changes were made in the guts of the organization. 7) Change was approached from a stakeholder viewpoint. 8) Change became ongoing.”

6- “Here’s a sample of some of the most popular hypotheses: 1) Homeostasis, 2) Stare decisis. 3) Inertia. 4) Satisfaction. 5) Lack of ripeness. 6) Fear. 7) Self-interest. 8) Lack of self-confidence. 9) Future shock. 10) Futility. 11) Lack of knowledge. 12) Human nature. 13) Cynicism. 14) Perversity. 15) Individual genius versus group mediocrity. 16) Ego. 17) Short-term thinking. 18) Myopia. 19) Sleepwalking. 20) Snow blindness. 21) Collective fantasy. 22) Chauvnistic conditioning. 23) Fallacy of exception. 24) Ideology. 25) Institutionalism. 26) Natura non facit saltum. 27) The rectitude of the powerful. 28) “Change has no constituency.”. 29) Determinism. 30) Scientism. 31) Habit. 32) The despotism of custom. 33) Human mindlessness.”

7- “…The possession of the skill of overcoming resistance to change is what separates the mass of individuals with good ideas from the few leaders who are able to implement them.”

8- “Thus even though progressives may argue that change will not affect the power, prestige, and positions of the haves, the haves understand intuitively that in fact change must undermine their ideology, upset their belief system, and discomfit them greatly.”

9- “The current focus of leadership studies in business has a misplaced emphasis on helping haves (corporate leaders) overcome resistance among the have-lesses and have-nots in their organizations. As we see from the foregoing analysis…the far greater problem in overcoming resistance among the haves. In fact, it is progressives inside and outside corporations who face resistance from the people who have the most power to resist: the established leaders.”

10- “Conflict, tension, and turmoil are the order of the day – today and tomorrow. Thus, great leaders recognize that there is a never-ending struggle to balance the constant and never-abating demands of those with different objectives…Because it is not possible to ignore, nor to completely satisfy, the conflicting demands of all constituencies, leaders live in a state of perpetual tension. Poor leaders cannot tolerate this discomfiting posture, and they attempt to resolve the tension by either giving in to the demands of those who are most powerful, or by issuing a command that represents their own will. There is another way: the values-based leadership described in this book. At its core, the process of values-based leadership is the creation of moral symmetry among those competing values…Hence, the task is to lead through the process of design, composition, tension, balance, and harmony.”

11- “If one wishes to learn this particular art, the first piece that must be put into place is personal acknowledgment that no other form of leadership can be both moral and effective. Once a leader makes that difficult commitment, all the other pieces will eventually fall into place, bit by bit.”


Omar Halabieh

On Leading Change

On Only The Paranoid Survive

I recently finished reading Only The Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. Grove.

Below are excerpts from the book that summarize the key points presented by the author:

1- “Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing left. I believe that the prime responsibility of a manager is to guard constantly against other people’s attacks and to inculcate this guardian attitude in the people under his or her management.”

2- “We all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change. We need to expose ourselves to our customers, both the ones who are staying with us as well as those that we may lose by sticking to the past. We need to expose ourselves to lower-level employees, who, when encouraged, will tell us a lot that we need to know. We must invite comments even from people whose job it is to constantly evaluate us and critique us, such as journalist and members of the financial community. Turn the tables and ask them some questions: about competitors, trends in the industry and what they think we should be most concerned with. As we throw ourselves into raw action, our senses and instincts will rapidly be honed again.”

3- “A strategic inflection point is when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure, from the old ways of doing business and the old ways of competing, to the new. Before the strategic inflection point, the industry simply was more like the old. After it, it is more like the new. It is a point where the curve has subtly but profoundly changed, never to change back again.”

4- “Of all the changes in the forces of competition, the most difficult one to deal with is when one of the forces become so strong that it transforms the very essence of how business is conducted in an industry.”

5- “When an industry goes through a strategic inflection point, the practitioners of the old art may have trouble. On the other hand, the new landscape provides an opportunity for people, some of whom may not even be participants in the industry in question, to join and become part of the action.”

6- “When a strategic infection point sweeps through the industry, the more successful a participant was in the old industry structure, the more threatened it is by change and the more reluctant it is to adapt to it. Second, whereas the cost to enter a given industry in the face of well-entrenched participants can be very high, when the structure breaks, the cost to enter may become trivially small.”

7- “I suspect that the people coming in are probably no better managers or leaders than the people they are replacing. they have only one advantage…the new managers come unencumbered by such emotional involvement and therefore are capable of applying an impersonal logic to the situation.”

8- “As these questions to attempt to distinguish signal from noise: 1) Is your key competitor about to change? 2) Is your key complementor about to change? 3) Do people seem to be “losing it” around you?”

9- “I call the divergence between actions and statements strategic dissonance. It is one of the surest indications that a company is struggling with a strategic inflection point.”

10- “Ideally, the fear of a new environment sneaking up on us should keep us on our toes. Our sense of urgency should be aided by our judgement, instincts and observations that have been honed by decades spent in the business world. The fact is, because of our experience, very often we managers know that we need to do something. We even know what we should be doing. But we don’t trust our instincts or don’t act on them early enough to take advantage of the benign business bubble. We must discipline ourselves to overcome our tendency to do too little too late.”


Omar Halabieh

Only The Paranoid Survive

On Moments of Truth

I just finished reading Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon – former president of Scandinavian Airline (SAS). Moments of Truth are defined by the author as the numerous 15 seconds interaction where customers interact with front-line employees. As Jan indicates: “These 50 million “moments of truth” are the moments that ultimately determine whether SAS will succeed or fail as a company. They are the moments when we must prove to our customers that SAS is their best alternative. This book is one on transforming and leading an organization that is customer and market driven. The author argues that to deal with this “market-led discontinuity”, the underlying organizations must be “revolutionized”.

The book covers Jan’s career and through that covers a variety of leadership and organizational topics such as strategy, risk, organization structure, communication, results, rewards etc. It also offers insight into the airline industry at the time – regulation, strategies, competition etc. What sets this book apart is the context in which the lessons are exposed – namely the numerous transformations that Jan lead at the various units he headed. The transformation was one centered around people first and foremost, then on processes and technology second.  He truly embraces the “people first and last” spirit.

A very quick educative and enjoyable read filled with gems of management and leadership wisdom – particularly around organizational transformation. Highly recommended!

Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1) “In a customer-driven company, the distribution of roles is radically different. The organization is decentralized…flattened, more horizontal, structure. This is particularly true in service businesses that being not with the product but with the customer.”

2) “In order to become a customer-oriented company, extensive changes will be required on the part of frontline employees. Yet, the initiative for those changes must originate in the executive suite. It is up to the top executive to become a true leader, devoted to creating an environment in which employees can accept and execute their responsibilities with confidence and finesse. He must communicate with his employees, imparting the company’s vision a reality. To succeed he can no longer be an isolated and autocratic decision-maker. Instead, he must be a visionary, a strategist, an informer, a teacher, and an inspirer.”

3) “A leader is not appointed because he knows everything and can make every decision. He is appointed to bring together the knowledge that is available and then create the prerequisites for the work to be done. He creates the systems that enable him to delegate responsibility for day-to-day operations.”

4) “A leader today must have much more general qualities: good business sense and a broad understanding of how things fit together  the relationships among individuals and groups inside and outside the company and the interplay among the various elements of the company’s operations.”

5) “Eventually, we formed a much clearer idea of how the flattened  pyramid should operate and were able to communicate the new roles to middle managers as well. The work still begins with something handed down from above – overall objectives for achieving the company goals. Upon receiving these broad objectives, middle management first breaks them down into a set of smaller objectives that the frontline people will be able to accomplish. At that point the role of middle manager is transformed from administration to support.”

6) “Similarly, individuals employees – and corporations as a whole – must dare to take the leap. In the corporate works taking this kind of leap is called “execution.” Having a clearly stated strategy makes execution much easier. It is a matter of courage, sometimes bordering on foolhardiness, combined with a large portion of intuition. These characteristics may be impossible to acquire but, if possessed, can always be developed further.”

7) “Unfortunately, many corporate executives are noticeable lacking in intuition, courage, and conviction.”

8) “Indeed, I believe that the only way any group or individual can take responsibility is to understand the overall situation. I routinely share the knowledge that I have about where the company is and where it should be heading with the board unions, and employees. For the vision to become a reality, it must be their vision too.”

9) “A worker who can envision the whole cathedral and who has been given responsibility for constructing his own portion of it is far more satisfied and productive than the worker who sees only the granite before him. A true leader is one who designs the cathedral and then shares the vision that inspires others to build it.”


Omar Halabieh

Moments of Truth

Moments of Truth