San Francisco, 06.11.14 - "It's fair an simple: you first. When someone tells you to stay long hours and week-ends, have the courage to say no. Entire business models are built on understaffing and overworking resources, from intense pressure to "be a team member" 80 hours a week, to unreasonable travel and time-off policies, in the end, you help make other people rich at the expense of you and yours well-being and health." - By Philippe Mora (@philippemora) Those are a few of the concepts that I am teaching in my business ethics class to Santa Clara University's MBA students. So "stay hungry, stay foolish" and be courageous and always think about you first. Saying "no" to unreasonable request is just the beginning of the journey.
“A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” So said Mahatma Gandhi, and we all know how his conviction played out on the world stage. But what is less well known is how this same discipline played out privately with his own grandson, Arun Gandhi.
Arun grew up in South Africa. When he was a young boy, he was beaten up twice: once for being too white and once for being too black. Still angry, Arun was sent to spend time with his grandfather. In an interview with Arun, he told me that his grandfather was in demand from many important people, yet he still prioritized his grandson, spending an hour a day for 18 months just listening to Arun. It proved to be a turning point in Arun’s life.
I had the opportunity to apply Gandhi’s example of prioritization to my own life, hours before one of my daughters was born. I felt pressure to go to a client meeting the next day. But on this occasion, I knew what to do. It was clearly a time to be there for my wife and child. So, when asked to attend the meeting, I said with all the conviction I could muster…
To my shame, while my wife lay in the hospital with my hours-old baby, I went to the meeting. Afterward, my colleague said, “The client will respect you for making the decision to be here.” But the look on the clients’ faces mirrored how I felt. What was I doing there?! I had not lived true to Gandhi’s saying. I had said “yes” to please.
As it turned out, exactly nothing came of the client meeting. And even if the client had respected my choice, and key business opportunities had resulted, I would still have struck a fool’s bargain. My wife supported me and trusted me to make the right choice under the circumstances, and I had opted to deprioritize her and my child.
Why did I do it? I have two confessions:
First, I allowed social awkwardness to trump making the right decision. I wasn’t forced to attend the meeting. Instead, I was so anxious to please that even awkward silent pauses on the phone were too much for me. In order to stop the social pain, I said “yes” when I knew the answer should be “no.”
Second, I believed that “I had to make this work.” Logically, I knew I had a choice, but emotionally, I felt that I had no choice. That one corrupted assumption psychologically removed many of the actual choices available to me.
What can you do to avoid the mistake of saying “yes” when you know the answer should be “no”?
First, separate the decision from the relationship. Sometimes these seem so interconnected, we forget there are two different questions we need to answer. By deliberately dividing these questions, we can make a more conscious choice. Answer the question, “What is the right decision?” and then“How can I communicate this as kindly as possible?”
Second, watch your language. Every time we say, “I have to take this call” or “I have to send this piece of work off” or “I have to go to this client meeting,” we are assuming that previous commitments are nonnegotiable. Every time you use the phrase “I have to” over the next week, stop and replace it with “I choose to.” It can feel a little odd at first — and in some cases it can even be gut-wrenching (if we are choosing the wrong priority). But ultimately, using this language reminds us that we are making choices, which enables us to make a different choice.
Third, avoid working for or with people who don’t respect your priorities. It may sound simplistic, but this is a truly liberating rule! There are people who share your values and as a result make it natural to live your priorities. It may take a while to find an employment situation like this, but you can set your course to that destination immediately.
Saying “yes” when we should be saying “no” can seem like a small thing in the moment. But over time, such compromises can create a life of regrets. Indeed, an Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware, who cared for people in the last 12 weeks of their lives, recorded the most often-discussed regrets. At the top of the list: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Next on the list: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” and “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” (Read the Top 5 Regrets here).
We may not develop Gandhian levels of courage immediately, but surely we can do better than having to look back on our lives and regret that we lived by someone else’s priorities.
[Read More Here > Thank You HBR 06/28/12]
How do you make sure your startup does not transform itself into a siloed lair of incompetent politicians as it grows ?- By Phil Mora (@philippemora)
San Francisco, 06/09/14 - what makes silicon valley startup culture so great ? I am not sure the commute buses, free food, unlimited vacations and other perks are part of the equation. Rather, I am convinced that when a company is small and has a set goal ("we need to make it before we run out of money") then no-one can hide and actual work speaks for actual results. However, past a certain headcount, an organization's cultural makeup changes because new resources are brought in that thrive by using others for their own success. The cycle starts at executive level, who hire their circle and so on. In the end, a company gets bloated with legions of resources whose only purpose is to survive within the organization. Today I am seeing two schools of thought: one that deals with changing leadership but does not address the organizational topology (is industrial-era pyramidal structure suited for the creative and knowledge economy?) and a second that deals with organizational topology (flat organizations do not scale, especially when it deals with the propagation of information) without addressing leadership. I am convinced that there is an ideal organizational size, past which organizations start to deteriorate into inefficient, innovation-killing monsters that crush the good people and favors corporate psychopaths. So, how do we foster The Change? Learn more at hughescreative.net.
We all have a lot to learn from the new generation of companies that have come out of the Silicon Valley revolution. Many of these entrepreneurial lessons have been codified in books, the new bibles for innovation — not just for entrepreneurs but also for managers looking to create new and innovative innovation businesses inside existing corporations. Companies that want to shake themselves out of their routines and generate innovation from inside take the Silicon Valley cookbook and start adding recipes from it to their own.
But it doesn’t always work. In our work at Change Logic, we’re finding again and again that established leadership practices, corporate cultures and identities, and organizational structures arefar bigger obstacles to successful innovation than whether or not you can train a small and talented group to identify and prove market traction of a minimum viable offering.
One conglomerate in the print media industry that we studied made an early and deliberate effort to apply the Silicon Valley cookbook. They did a sound strategic assessment of opportunities, structured a portfolio of small start-up teams around the most promising areas, and trained all of them in the latest Silicon Valley tools and techniques. With the support of a corporate team, each project team implemented rapid prototyping: iterating experiments on the different components of their new business design and strategy in order to identify the right business model.
But although several projects hit their milestones and identified promising new sources of growth, when the new initiatives needed the firm’s business unit executives to step in to provide a platform of support and investment, progress stalled and a program that was three years incubating daring new and innovative business models had its most promising successes dismantled or fumbled within 12 months.
Why? It turned out that neither the corporate team nor the business units had a coherent plan for pursuing their success beyond the seed stage. The corporate office could offer organizational cover but no further resources. The business units could supply resources but at a penalty to their own performance and the few business units that did shift resources forced the new businesses to fit into the traditional organizational structure and the requirement to to respect the standards of financial performance and the operational practices of the mainstream units quickly drove the innovation projects into the ground.
As this company discovered, building and running an organization that can excel at identifying and scaling new ventures while at the same time retaining the discipline in the profitable execution of current lines of business is no small challenge. There are organizational roadblocks along each step to success and those who achieve it must continuously manage the tension of having two or more business models and operating contexts running simultaneously under the same leadership. That’s a reality that Silicon Valley start-ups don’t face and which established company CEOs ignore at their peril.
What’s more, the success recipe of a firm and even a whole industry is bound up with its culture. If you are in a semiconductor firm, you’ll have a deep connection to the science and economics of silicon chips. In advertising, value is all about your creative team; they are the special ingredients that drive customers to your door. Leaders of these organizations rise because they understand these dynamics.
But in semiconductors, software is becoming more important than silicon and low power is now more important than raw performance. In advertising, creative teams are being displaced by open innovation platforms. These changes challenge the very essence of what it means to be a semi-conductor or advertising firm. Unsurprisingly, the leadership at these firms will push back.
The bottom line is that different cuisines involve fundamentally different approaches, which means that borrowing from a different cookbook may involve more than just following a recipe; it may require internalizing a whole new way of cooking. You can’t make a three-star French chef like Alain Ducasse into a sushi master like Jiro Ono overnight.
Similarly, bringing in Silicon Valley processes into an established firm really only works as a part of an integrated plan of growth and renewal that reaches far beyond introducing the practices of experimental business design and corporate “start-ups.” You also need a plan for addressing the challenges to established norms and processes that cooking the new recipes presents. Only then will your organization be ambidextrous as a business, able to cook both its traditional dishes and make the most of the nouvelle cuisine from Silicon Valley.
[Read More Here > Thank You HBR 05.22.14]
Philadelphia, June 7th, 2014 - Philadelphia, June 7th, 2014 - A journey made of great simplicity, awesome scenery and mindfulness across this magnificent Country. I’ve spent the past 13 days on the Road with my best bud and mentor Dave Hughes and his lab-terrier Cody. We took the western route from San Francisco to Philadelphia. We were on a big truck. We slept in cheap motels. We had awesome food and met unique people. And we saw. The Great Salt Lake, The Great Plains, Custer’s Last Stand, We Followed Lewis and Clarke’s Trail and the footsteps of Daniel Boone. We said Hello to Old Faithful and gathered with Bison Calves. We saw the frozen lakes of Montana and crossed through the Grand Teton Mountains. We said hello to Calamity Jane in The Bad Lands of South Dakota and had a beer at The Knuckle. We went through the farmlands of Idaho, Illinois, Iowa and Ohio. We crossed Montana’s Cheyenne land from west to east. We visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We enjoyed Pittsburg and the Great Forest of Penn. In other words, we lived. - By Phil Mora (@philippemora)
i blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech, Experiences and anything holistic.
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