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“ I am often asked …. “ I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious ….

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“I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious …


“I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious:Buy a very large one and just wait.”—Paul Ormerod, Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics




Gartner Group/PPM & IT Governance Summit

Tom Peters/San Diego/22 June 2011

(Slides @ tompeters.com)


NOTE:To appreciate this presentation [and ensure that it is not a mess], you need Microsoft fonts:“Showcard Gothic,”“Ravie,”“Chiller”and“Verdana”


“Breakthrough” 82*




*In Search of Excellence


The Pursuit of … BalanceHard Is Soft (Plans, Systems, #s)Soft Is Hard (people, Culture, customers,* values, relationships)* “sales” > “marketing”“service” > “sales”


No.“Optimization”“Centralization” “We’ve got to get this right.”“Let’s get organized.” “Perfectly compatible”“Synergy”“Benchmarking”“Best practices”“Low standard deviation”“Big”


Yes. “Satisfice”“Requisite variety”“RADICAL decentralization”“High standard deviation”“Resilience”“Focus”/“Niche”/“Mid-size”“Let’s get DIS-organized.”


Yes. “Satisfice”“Requisite variety”“RADICAL decentralization”“High standard deviation”“Resilience”“Focus”/“Niche”/“Mid-size”“Let’s get DIS-organized.”


“Mr. Foster and his McKinsey colleagues collected detailed performance data stretching back 40 years for 1,000 U.S. companies.They found thatnoneof the long-term survivors managed to outperform the market. Worse, the longer companies had been in the database, the worse they did.”—Financial Times


“Data drawn from the real world attest to a fact that is beyond our control:Everything in existence tends to deteriorate.”—Norberto Odebrecht, Education Through Work


Public Enemy #1: I.C.D.

Immutable Centralist Drift

“Once a system grows sufficiently complex and centralized, it doesn’t matter how badly our best and brightest foul things up. Every crisis increases their authority, because they seem to be the only ones who understand the system well enough to fix it.But their fixes tend to make the system even more complex and centralized, and more vulnerable to the next national-security surprise, the

next natural disaster, the next economic crisis.”—Ross Douthat/NYTimes



  • *“agile creatures darting between the legs of the multinational monsters"

“Be the best. It’s the only market that’s not crowded.”

From: Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best

Independent Stores in America, George Whalin


Jungle Jim’s International Market, Fairfield, Ohio: “An adventure in ‘shoppertainment,’as Jungle Jim’s call it, begins in the parking lot and goes on to 1,600 cheeses and, yes, 1,400 varieties of hot sauce —not to mention 12,000 wines priced from $8 to $8,000 a bottle; all this is brought to you by 4,000 vendors. Customers come from every corner of the globe.”

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth, Michigan, pop 5,000:98,000-square-foot “shop” features the likes of 6,000 Christmas ornaments, 50,000 trims, and anything else you can name if it pertains to Christmas.

Source: George Whalin, Retail Superstars


“Rose gardeners face a choice every spring. The long-term fate of a rose garden depends on this decision. If you want to have the largest and most glorious roses of the neighborhood, you will prune hard. This represents a policy of low tolerance and tight control. You force the plant to make the maximum use of its available resources, by putting them into the the rose’s ‘core business.’ Pruning hard is a dangerous policy in an unpredictable environment. Thus, if you are in a spot where you know nature may play tricks on you, you may opt for a policy of high tolerance. You will never have the biggest roses, but you have a much-enhanced chance of having roses every year. You will achieve a gradual renewal of the plant. In short, tolerant pruning achieves two ends: (1) It makes it easier to cope with unexpected environmental changes. (2) It leads to a continuous restructuring of the plant. The policy of tolerance admittedly wastes resources—the extra buds drain away nutrients from the main stem. But in an unpredictable environment, this policy of tolerance makes the rose healthier in the long run.”—Arie De Geus, The Living Company

the secret of fast progress is inefficienc y fast and furious and numerous failures kevin kelly
“The secret of fast progress is inefficiency, fast and furious and numerous failures.”—Kevin Kelly

Conrad Hilton, at a gala celebrating his career, was called to the podium and asked,“What were the most important lessons you learned in your long and distinguished career?”His answer …

“Costco figured out the big,simple things and executedwith total fanaticism.”—Charles Munger, Berkshire Hathaway

“When assessing candidates, the first thing I looked for was energy and enthusiasm for execution. Does she talk about the thrill of getting things done, the obstacles overcome, the role her people played—or does she keep wandering back to strategy or philosophy?”“I saw that leaders placed too much emphasis on what some call high-level strategy, on intellectualizing and philosophizing, and not enough on implementation. People would agree on a project or initiative, and then nothing would come of it.”Source: Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan/Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done


“If I could have chosen not to tackle the IBM culture head-on, I probably wouldn’t have. My bias coming in was toward strategy, analysis and measurement. In comparison, changing the attitude and behaviors of hundreds of thousands of people is very, very hard.[Yet] I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.”—Lou Gerstner,

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance


XFX = #1*

*Cross-Functional eXcellence


Never waste a lunch!*

*The “sacred 220 at bats”


“Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real

life grow.”—Ben Stein


“Allied commands depend on mutual confidence

and this confidence is

gained, above all

through thedevelopment


—General D.D. Eisenhower, Armchair General* *“Perhaps his most outstanding ability [at West Point]

was the ease with which he made friends and earned the trust of fellow cadets who came from widely varied backgrounds; it was a quality that would pay great dividends during his future coalition command.”



1. EVERYONE’s [more or less] JOB #1: Make friends in other functions! (Purposefully. Consistently. Measurably.)

2. “Do lunch” with people in other functions!! Frequently!! (Minimum 10% to 25% for everyone? Measured.)

3. Ask peers in other functions for references so you can become conversant in their world. (It’s one helluva sign of ... GIVE-A-DAMN-ism.)

4. Invite counterparts in other functions to your team meetings. Religiously. Ask them to present “cool stuff” from “their world” to your group. (B-I-G deal; useful and respectful.)

5. PROACTIVELY SEEK EXAMPLES OF “TINY” ACTS OF “XFX” TO ACKNOWLEDGE—PRIVATELY AND PUBLICALLY. (Bosses: ONCE A DAY … make a short call or visit or send an email of “Thanks” for some sort of XFX gesture by your folks and some other function’s folks.)

6. Present counterparts in other functions awards for service to your group. Tiny awards at least weekly; and an “Annual All-Star Supporters [from other groups] Banquet” modeled after superstar salesperson banquets.

7. Discuss—A SEPARATE AGENDA ITEM—good and problematic acts of cross-functional co-operation at every Team Meeting.


“His habit was to let the locals get primary credit—unheard of! Sometimes he disappeared into the woodwork entirely. He had the whole __PD working their butts off for him, including the [temperamental] Chief.”—close colleague of senior federal law enforcement officer


Women’s Negotiating Strengths*Ability to put themselves in their counterparties’ shoes*Comprehensive, attentive and detailed communication style*Empathy that facilitates trust-building*Curious and attentive listening*Less competitive attitude*Strong sense of fairness and ability to persuade*Proactive risk manager*Collaborative decision-makingSource: Horacio Falcao, cover story, World Business, “Say It Like a Woman: Why the 21st-century negotiator will need the female touch”


“AS LEADERS, WOMEN RULE*:New Studies find that female managers outshine their male counterparts in almost every measure”TITLE/ Special Report/ BusinessWeek*Projected to be 80% middle managers by approx 2020


“I got to know his[Icahn’s]secretaries. They are always the keepers of everything.”—Dick Parsons, then CEO Time Warner, on dealing with an Icahn threat to his company“Parsons is not a visionary. He is, instead, a master in the art of relationship.”—Bloomberg Businessweek (03.11)


“I believe that it is more important for a leader to be trained in psychiatry than cybernetics. The head of a big company recently said to me, ‘I am no longer a Chairman. I have had to become a psychiatric nurse.’ Today’s executive is under pressure unknown to the last generation.”—David Ogilvy


“Don’t ever use that word ‘synergy.’ It’s a hideousword. The only thing that works is natural law. Given enough time, natural relationships will develop between our businesses.”—Barry Diller, responding to a

student question, address at the Harvard Business School

(from Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There


“The doctor


after …*

*Source: Jerome Groopman, How Doctors Think


[An obsession with] Listening is ... the ultimate mark

of Respect.

Listening is ... the heart and soul of Engagement.

Listening is ... the heart and soul of Kindness.

Listening is ... the heart and soul of Thoughtfulness.

Listening is ... the basis for true Collaboration.

Listening is ... the basis for true Partnership.

Listening is ... a Team Sport.

Listening is ... a Developable Individual Skill.* (*Though women

are far better at it than men.)

Listening is ... the basis forCommunity.

Listening is ... the bedrock of Joint Ventures that work.

Listening is ... the bedrock of Joint Ventures thatgrow.

Listening is ... the core of effective Cross-functional

Communication* (*Which is in turn Attribute #1 of

organizational effectiveness.)



Could It Be This Simple?

In-effective leaders … TALK.

Effective leaders … LISTEN.

Inspiration: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter,

Liz Wiseman [Some “hard” evidence that effective leaders, in terms of % of elapsed meeting time, talk less than half as much as less effective leaders.]


"When I was in medical school, I spent hundreds of hours looking into a microscope—a skill I never needed to know or ever use. YetI didn't have a single class that taught me communication or teamwork skills—something I need every day I walk into the hospital.”—Peter Pronovost, Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals


Is there a full-bore training course in "Listening" for 100% of employees, CEO

to temps? If not, There [damnwell] ought to be.


“Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.”—Henry Clay,American Statesman (1777-1852)


"Let's not forget that small emotions are the great

captains of our lives."—Van Gogh

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but

with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”—Dale Carnegie


K = R = P*

*Kindness = Repeat Business = Profit


Press Ganey Assoc:139,380 former patients from 225 hospitals:noneof THE top 15 factors determining Patient Satisfaction referred to patient’s health outcome.Instead:directly related to StaffInteraction;directly correlated with Employee SatisfactionSource: Putting Patients First, Susan Frampton, Laura Gilpin, Patrick Charmel


“I regard apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make. It is the centerpiece of my work with executives who want to get better.”—Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You

Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become

Even More Successful.


With a new and forthcoming policy on apologies … Toro, the lawn mower folks, reduced the average cost of settling a claim from$115,000in 1991 to$35,000in 2008 …and the company hasn’t been to trial in the last

15 years!



*divorce, loss of a BILLION $$$ aircraft sale, etc., etc.


“You have to treat your employees like customers.”—Herb Kelleher, upon being asked his “secret to success”Source: Joe Nocera, NYT, “Parting Words of an Airline Pioneer,”

on the occasion of Herb Kelleher’s retirement after 37 years at Southwest Airlines (SWA’s pilots union took out a full-page ad in USA Today

thanking HK for all he had done) ; across the way in Dallas, American Airlines’ pilots were picketingAA’s Annual Meeting)


Our MissionTo develop and manage talent;to apply that talent,throughout the world, for the benefit of clients;to do so in partnership; to do so with profit.WPP


Oath of Office: Managers/Servant Leaders

Our goal is to serve our customers brilliantly and profitably over

the long haul.

Serving our customers brilliantly and profitably over the long

haul is a product of brilliantly serving, over the long haul, the

people who serve the customer.

Hence, our job as leaders—the alpha and the omega and

everything in between—is abetting the sustained growth and

success and engagement and enthusiasm and commitment to

Excellence of those, one at a time, who directly or indirectly

serve the ultimate customer.

We—leaders of every stripe—are in the “Human Growth and

Development and Success and Aspiration to Excellence


“We” [leaders] only grow when “they” [each and every one of our colleagues] are


“We” [leaders] only succeed when “they” [each and every one of our colleagues]

are succeeding.

“We” [leaders] only energetically march toward Excellence when

“they” [each and every one of our colleagues] are energetically marching

toward Excellence.



“The leaders of Great Groups … love talent … and know where to find it. They … revelin… the talent of others.”—Warren Bennis & Patricia Ward Biederman, Organizing GeniusPARC’s Bob Taylor:“Connoisseur of Talent”


The Memories That Matter

The people you developed who went on to

stellar accomplishments inside or outside

the company.

The (no more than) two or three people you developed who went on to

create stellar institutions of their own.

The longshots (people with “a certain something”) you bet on who

surprised themselves—and your peers.

The people of all stripes who 2/5/10/20 years

later say “You made a difference in my life,”

“Your belief in me changed everything.”

The sort of/character of people you hired in general. (And the bad

apples you chucked out despite some stellar traits.)

A handful of projects (a half dozen at most) you doggedly pursued that

still make you smile and which fundamentally changed the way

things are done inside or outside the company/industry.

The supercharged camaraderie of a handful of Great Teams aiming to

“change the world.”


“You will become like the five people you associate with the most—this can be either a blessing or a curse.”—Billy Cox


Measure/Manage: Portfolio “Strangeness”/QualityStaffConsultantsVendorsOut-sourcing Partners (#, Quality, Diversity)Innovation Alliance PartnersCustomersCompetitors (who we “benchmark” against)Strategic Initiatives Product Portfolio (Line extension v. Leap)IS/IT ProjectsHQ LocationLunch MatesLanguageBoardEtc.


The “We are what we eat”/ “We are who we hang out with” Axiom:At its core, every (!!!) relationship-partnership decision (employee, vendor, customer, etc, etc) is a strategic decision about:“Innovate, ‘Yes’ or‘No’ ”


“Diverse groups of problem solvers—groups of people with diverse tools—consistently outperformed groups of the best and the brightest. If I formed two groups, one random (and therefore diverse) and one consisting of the best individual performers, the first group almost always did better. …Diversitytrumped ability.”—Scott Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies

Once a month on, say, a Friday, invite somebody intriguing, in any field, to have lunch with your gang. Call it: “Freak Fridays”
“Companies have defined so much ‘best practice’ that they are now more or less identical.” —Jesper Kunde, Unique Now ... or Never

“We made mistakes, of course. Most of them were omissions we didn’t think of when we initially wrote the software. We fixed them by doing it over and over, again and again. We do the same today. While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make the design perfect, we’re already on prototype* version#5.By the time our rivals are ready with wires and screws, we are on version #10.It gets back to planning versus acting: We act from day one; others plan how toplan—for months.”

—Bloomberg by Bloomberg

*C.f. INTUIT (Months to week w/customers)


“Burt Rutan wasn’t a fighter jock; he was an engineer who had been asked to figure out why the F-4 Phantom was flying pilots into the ground in Vietnam. While his fellow engineers attacked such tasks with calculators, Rutan insisted on considering the problem in the air. A near-fatal flight not only led to a critical F-4 modification, it also confirmed for Rutan a notion he had held ever since he had built model airplanes as a child.The way to make a better aircraft wasn’t to sit around perfecting a design, it was to get something up in the air and see what happens, then try to fix whatever goes wrong.”

—Eric Abrahamson & David Freedman, Chapter 8, “Messy Leadership,” from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder


“Experiment fearlessly”Source: BusinessWeek, “Type A Organization Strategies: How to Hit a Moving Target”—Tactic #1“relentless trial and error”*C * Source: Wall Street Journal, cornerstone of effective approach to “rebalancing” company portfolios in the face of changing and uncertain global economic conditions (11.08.10)


Culture of Prototyping“Effective prototyping may be themost valuablecore competence an innovative organization can hope to have.”—Michael Schrage










“Design is everything.

Everything is design.”

The Power of Design: A Force for Transforming Everything, Richard Farson


Charles Handy: “One bank is currently claiming to …

‘leverage its global footprint to provide effective financial solutions for its customers by providing a gateway to diverse markets.’”


“I assume that it is just saying that it isthere to … ‘help its customers wherever they are’.”—Charles Handy


90K in U.S.A. ICUs on any given day; 178 discrete steps/day/patient in ICU.50%ICU stays result in “serious complication”Source: Atul Gawande, “The Checklist” (New Yorker, 1210.07)


**Dr. Peter Pronovost, Johns Hopkins**Checklist/dealing with line infections**1/3rd lines, at least one procedural error when he started checklist program**Nurses/permission-requirement to stop procedure if doc, other not following checklist (BIG DEAL)**In 1 year, ICU’s 10-day line-infection rate: 11% to … 0%Source: Atul Gawande, “The Checklist” (New Yorker, 1210.07)


Appropriate systems’ standards:





Architect Rem Koolhaas on his drive for clarity-simplicity:“Often my job is to undo things.”Source: New Yorker

"I've never seen a job done by a team of five hundred that couldn't be done better by a team of fifty.”—Gordon Bell


“The art of war does not require complicated maneuvers; the simplest are the best and common sense is fundamental. From which one might wonder how it is generals make blunders; it

is because they try to be clever.”—Napoleon