CEOs Sometimes Need Outside Help

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

We know we want leaders who are smart, decisive, transformative, and possessed of a singular vision. But there’s an often-overlooked factor that can make the difference between success and failure: a leader’s ability to go far outside the organization—mobilizing networks of critical expertise—to get help in solving problems.

Outside the organization? Why would the CEO of a huge corporation with vast capabilities need to look elsewhere for assistance? If outside help is truly needed, doesn’t that say something pretty negative about the CEO’s own staff and existing supply chain?

The reality today is that businesses, governments, and nonprofits are so complex and often must move so quickly that in many cases, finding answers to difficult questions requires tapping experts, service providers, and innovators scattered all over the world.

As Bill Joy, founder of Sun Microsystems, pointed out years ago, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people don’t…

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Is Your Company Ready for the Looming Talent Drought?

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Even if your firm has a healthy employee base and a strong balance sheet, chances are good that it’s about to face a significant shortage of qualified managers. I reached that conclusion in 2007, after working with Nitin Nohria, the current dean of Harvard Business School, and colleagues at the executive search firm Egon Zehnder to gauge the effects of three factors — globalization, demographics, and leadership pipelines — on competition for senior talent in large organizations. We studied 47 companies, spanning all major sectors and geographies. The results were dire: Only 15% of the firms in the Americas and Asia, and less than a third of those in Europe, had enough people primed to lead them into the future. New survey and research data we have compiled show that the situation has grown even worse.

Globalization compels companies to reach beyond their home markets to do business and…

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12 Things Good Bosses Believe

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

What makes a boss great? It’s a question I’ve been researching for a while now. In June 2009, I offered some analysis in HBR on the subject, and more recently I’ve been hard at work on a book called Good Boss, Bad Boss (published in September by Business Plus).

In both cases, my approach has been to be as evidence-based as possible. That is, I avoid giving any advice that isn’t rooted in real proof of efficacy; I want to pass along the techniques and behaviors that are grounded in sound research. It seems to me that, by adopting the habits of good bosses and shunning the sins of bad bosses, anyone can do a better job overseeing the work of others.

At the same time, I’ve come to conclude that all the technique and behavior coaching in the world won’t make a boss great if that boss doesn’t also…

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Why I Tell My Employees to Bring Their Kids to Work

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

I am the CEO of a fast-growing high-tech company. I’m also a mother of three boys, ages 9, 7, and 4, and I pride myself on being very involved in their lives. I have had to juggle kids and career for the last 10 years, and I cannot separate work and home life, as I’ve found that creates too much stress and pressure. Instead, I integrate both, bringing kids to work and work to home as I need to. This has worked so well for me, and Palo Alto Software, that it has become part of our company culture.

No, we don’t bring our children into the office every single day, and by no means have we used this freedom as a daycare replacement. But, when the nanny needs an afternoon off, school is suddenly canceled, or someone’s child is not feeling great, we welcome and encourage them to spend…

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To Create Change, Leadership Is More Important Than Authority

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Aspiring junior executives dream of climbing the ladder to gain more authority.  Then they can make things happen and create the change that they believe in.  Senior executives, on the other hand, are often frustrated by how little power they actually have.

The problem is that, while authority can compel action, it does little to inspire belief.  It’s not enough to get people to do what you want, they also have to want what you want — or any change is bound to be short lived.

That’s why change management efforts commonly fail.  All too often, they are designed to carry out initiatives that come from the top.  When you get right down to it, that’s really the just same thing as telling people to do what you want, albeit in slightly more artful way.  To make change really happen, it doesn’t need to be managed, but empowered. That’s the…

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A Tool That Maps Out Cultural Differences

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Understanding cultural differences isn’t easy, even when you’ve lived in many different countries (disclosure: I’m a Brit, grew up in Southeast Asia, lived and worked in Switzerland and the US, and now live and work in France). Just when you think you’ve got a culture nailed, something happens that your mental model hasn’t predicted.

Americans, world-famous for candor and directness, struggle when it comes to giving tough feedback, even when it’s needed. The French, on the other hand, who are famous for their insistence on good manners (just feel the vibe when you forget to say bonjour to your boulanger), revel in their harsh critiques. Paradoxes like this crop up all the time, and obviously they’re a good source of anecdotes. But in a business world that increasingly relies on culturally mixed workforces and teams, they’re also recipes for failure.

Erin Meyer, an American (from Minnesota) in Paris who coaches…

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The Strategic Mistake Almost Everybody Makes

Harvard Business Review:

Evolve or die…

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

“It is simple math,” the strategist said in a tone that sounded suspiciously similar to how I explain things to my six-year-old daughter. “Decreasing churn by a percent — a single percent! — creates tens of millions of dollars of value. A point of market share creates five times that amount. Our growth investments are years from providing that kind of return.”

The general point is right — a dollar of investment in incrementally improving the core is almost always going to earn a greater near-term return than a dollar invested in a growth business that might take years to incubate. It’s one reason why it is so critical that companies begin to invest in growth before they need growth so they create space and time for those investments to mature.

Unfortunately, few companies do that. Instead…

“So,” the strategist continued. “If we just take our investment in innovation and…

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San Diego Housing Market Update: It’s Been a Good Year

The numbers are up! Here’s the latest news on the San Diego Real Estate market, brought to you by the San Diego Association of Realtors, hosted by George Chamberlin, Executive Editor of The Daily Transcript and Donna Sanfilippo, President of SDAR.

Key highlights include a 20%+ increase year over year in single family attached (condos / townhomes) and a 16%+ increase in single family detached homes.

If you’re still on the fence about buying, think about getting in before mortgage rates start to rise and prices go up even further.  Give me a ring if you need help searching for a home in San Diego.  Just renewed the license this past summer (8 years as a Realtor!) and I’m looking forward to 8 more.San Diego Gaslamp Sign