Unfettered: Mission-Aligned Boundary Spanning

Boundary Spanning in Practice
and
Unfettered: Mission-Aligned Boundary Spanning

by Kitty Wooley et al. (interview)

Senior Fellows and Friends is a group of current and former U.S. government employees. Spearheaded by Kitty Wooley, members of the group have published two compilations of articles about breaking through the silo mentality. They encourage inter-agency collaboration throughout the hierarchy to achieve greater institutional learning, more motivated staff, and greater effectiveness in executing organizational missions. While their context is government, the topics also apply to large businesses and nonprofit organizations. Continue reading “Unfettered: Mission-Aligned Boundary Spanning”

Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value

by Bill George

Former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George wrote this book following a series of corporate scandals, including Enron, Sunbeam, Tyco, and Worldcom—just to name a few. These companies imploded because management was fixated on maximizing short-term shareholder value.

To paraphrase my favorite line in the book: you are running a business, not a stock. That said, the compound annual growth rate of Medtronic split-adjusted stock price was 28.5% during George’s 12-year tenure, according to my calculations. Not too shabby!

The first part of the book deals with the character, values, and sense of purpose required to inspire employees. George also shares his wisdom and personal experiences regarding customers, quality, market share, growth, innovation, acquisitions, FDA approval delays, Wall Street analysts, and corporate governance. Continue reading “Authentic Leadership”

Shtick to Business

Shtick to Business: What the masters of comedy can teach you about breaking rules, being fearless, and building a serious career

by Peter McGraw (interview)

This book is about applying the wisdom of successful comedians to business management. Topics include targeting your audience and differentiating your brand, the creative process, innovation, diversity, teamwork, and writing skills. Peter McGraw is a behavioral economist, professor, and director of the Humor Research Lab (HuRL). Continue reading “Shtick to Business”

Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption

Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption

by Leo M. Tilman and Gen. Charles Jacoby (Ret.)

“The need for agility in business, government and warfare arises precisely from the uncertainty and complexity of the competitive environment.”

I imagine both co-authors of Agility have some battle scars—Tilman from Bear Stearns during the 2008 financial industry crisis and Jacoby from his career in the U.S. Army where he achieved the rank of 4-star general. Kidding aside, this book goes beyond military metaphors and presents a fusion of military and business thinking about risk intelligence and uncertainty as well as a leadership approach that emphasizes truth (as opposed to assumptions), trust, clear communication, and executional dexterity throughout the organization.

Complex adaptive systems “are constantly changing and evolving. They lack centralized control. They are inhabited by a multitude of stakeholders driven by distinct objectives, risk tolerances and modes of operation. These players interact in dynamic tension with one another, alternating between the urge to recoil from and engage in risk-taking and aggression. Their actions and adaptations lead to entirely unpredictable patterns and outcomes.” Continue reading “Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption”

The Flaw of Averages

The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty

by Sam L. Savage

This is a book about how to manage in a world of uncertainty. The beginning section presents a number of statistical concepts in simplified language; more sophisticated techniques follow. The author discusses how these concepts apply in a wide variety of contexts including oil exploration, pharmaceutical R&D, the stock market, the housing bubble, weather, climate change, health care, gene pools, the war of terror, and supply chains. He also describes some illogical accounting rules required by the FASB and the SEC. Continue reading “The Flaw of Averages”

The Tyranny of Metrics

The Tyranny of Metrics

by Jerry Z. Muller

“This book argues that while they are a potentially valuable tool, the virtues of accountability metrics have been oversold, and their costs are often underappreciated.” There are chapters on the dysfunction of “metric fixation” in colleges and universities; schools; medicine; policing; the military; business; and philanthropy. Problems include gaming the system, costs exceeding benefits, and diverting effort from the core mission. A major theme is metrics as a substitute for competent judgment.  Continue reading “The Tyranny of Metrics”

HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

The objective of this book is to help managers make better data-driven decisions by working with data analysts and data scientists. The guide is a compendium adapted from 23 previously published Harvard Business Review and hbr.org articles.

“Framing a problem… is the most important stage of the analytical process for a consumer of big data. It’s where your business experience and intuition matter most. After all, a hypothesis is simply a hunch about how the world works. The difference with analytical thinking, of course, is that you use rigorous methods to test the hypothesis.”

Continue reading “HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers”