Nilofer Merchant Talks Only-ness, Business and Social Era

Nilofer MerchantNilofer Merchant Concept of Only-ness is our guest on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, November 27th. She is an author, corporate director and speaker based in Silicon Valley, California. She has worked for major companies like Apple, and Autodesk, and startups in the early days of the Web (Golive/ later bought by Adobe), Logitech, Symantec, HP, Yahoo, VMWare, and many others have turned to her guidance to develop new product strategies, enter new markets, defend against competitors, and optimize revenues. Her book, 11 Rules, has been included in Fast Company’s Best Business Books of 2012 list.

*Please join us Friday, November 30th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Only-ness – Foundation of Entrepreneurship, Celebrating Each Human”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review Press author of 11 Rules For Creating Value in the #Social Era, coined the term, “only-ness” when she noted that each person has something unique to offer. It could be a skill, an insight, passion or some combination of these things.  It’s probably better to take a look at her definition: Continue reading


Support KaizenBiz With a (Virtual) Latte

This guest post is written by #KaizenBiz community member and sponsor, CASUDI (also known as Caroline Di Diego). CASUDI is a long-standing member of the chat who many of you have connected with online and offline. She explains how to support KaizenBiz and why your support will make this endeavour more valuable to you, the community.

We ALL want to support!

So many of us are really committed to our Friday east coast lunchtime chat, #kaizenbiz However we need to support our chat just one little tiny bit more.

A Virtual Latte?

Let’s buy a virtual latte for our leader @3Keyscoach and let’s support #KaizenBiz, better yet let’s support the community and buy one every week or at least whenever we join the chat!

What does a virtual latte cost? How do I buy it?

Buying a $5.00 virtual latte is simple and easy ~ “all you need is a PayPal account or credit card and to select the donate button here or in the side bar.”

Virtual Latte Support

This is the kind of Latte I mean…

Support KaizenBiz with a Virtual Latte

Now comes the important WHY? 

#Kaizenbiz is an online community providing ongoing quality content for each chat and this costs time and money. Time has been a donated commodity so far by Elli and Cathy mostly and a very little bit by me.

Behind the scenes

There is an amazing amount of behind the scenes work to keep a successful chat going, as some of you have found out when you guest host, and what is more we have been going for three and a half years, which is one of the longest running for any twitter chat.

How will the virtual latte be used?

  • Web hosting & development
  • Chat transcript services and time (Storify,TweetReports, Hashtracking)
  • Apps &Tools like BufferApp

Supports our editorial freedom

Our chat and website is based on the idea that we apply critical thinking to business ideas so we continuously improve. As each topic is researched and guests are recruited, we get to explore both the ideas and ourselves.

Elli noted,

 “In a recent conversation, several participants expressed reservations about having a chat sponsor who might be inclined to direct the chat in only their direction. This could diminish the quality and value of the chat”

KaizenBiz would of course embrace a Larger sponsor(s) but Elli is committed to maintaining the quality of our chat and will not take on a sponsor who is not aligned with the goals of the community or who will change the content (or essence) of our chat.

 This is your opportunity to give back!

Wouldn’t you really be up for taking Elli or Cathy or me out for a latte break every Friday?  That’s not even the cost of lunch and your virtual latte can really make a difference to the #kaizenbiz community!

So, I came up with the latte support. A $5 virtual latte donation for the chat – just to help maintain the value we have and provide sustenance for the chat going into the future?”

What does our community think of this?

What do you think about this and do you have any other ideas on how to support our chat?Comments below if you are inclined? Best of all, please Donate a virtual latte! I am donating as well as asking, but this is of course absolutely optional and you are always very welcome at the chat.

About the author: CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego) is an active KaizenBiz member since July 2009.

CASUDI is a multi-faceted entrepreneur with parallel careers. In the one she focuses on Architectural  & Landscaping Design solutions and the other (where most of you know her) she does what it takes to move start up & early-stage companies, from “concept” or “chaos” to fundable and/or profitable.

She has designed & produced award winning television film documentaries, corporate marketing and product videos and television commercials. Storytelling is her thing

She mentors small business and says “we all learn!”

Photo by CASUDI, Latte by Danielle at Vois café Seattle


Opening Up the Search for True Transparency

Transparency, KaizenBiz chat, Steve BirkettTransparency is a buzz word that has spread rapidly into the common parlance of the social media era. Prompted initially by individuals sharing more and more of their personal lives online, and the blurring thereof with our professional lives, the creeping call for transparency has now reached the global corporate level.

Advocates assert that any and all organizations must embrace the concept, share more of their operation, and become open to letting this increasingly connected world see what goes on behind the curtain. “Open kimono” may well be business bingo lingo that predates the digital era, but it takes on new meaning with the sheer number of channels now available to businesses.

Just how much should be revealed before crossing the lines into overexposure? 

Furthermore, can the “true transparency” that many believe is required to become a fully social organization ever be achieved?  Or is this a naiveté destined to remain in the realm of aspirational blog posts and academia?

Defining “True Transparency”

Initially, we have to understand what is being asked of organizations pursuing greater transparency, then extrapolate a spectrum of just how far down that path they might go, both in theory and in practice. At the one end we have a closed, inaccessible attitude, unwilling to disclose anything of value. At the other, a truly transparent organization will answer any questions about their operation and publish as much of value as possible, open for all to access.

But there are, of course, limitations on this spectrum…

First and foremost, some companies operate within strictly regulated industries that will restrict the level of transparency. Even if a company in the financial sector wants to air everything to its interested parties, for example, it is bound by overarching regulatory bodies and compliance requirements. Similar limitations exist for pharmaceutical companies, law firms, and many others. So can such organizations ever be wholly transparent?

Secondly, the question arises as to exactly what an organization gains by pursuing all out openness. There are clear advantages in sharing some information, ranging from increased connection with customers to greater trust in how they do business. It can be argued, however, that there also exists a point of diminishing returns, after which the incremental benefits gained are outweighed by the risk that comes from making one’s operations available for all to scrutinize.

Teasing Out the Transparent 

In Friday’s #KaizenBiz, we’ll seek to understand what true transparency means conceptually, what limitations exist in the real world of business, and whether or not it is beneficial for an organization to pursue complete openness.

To that end, please consider the following questions:

Is organizational transparency an option or an obligation in the digital era?

Can “true transparency” ever be a realistic objective or are there acceptable limits?

Does a culture of openness equate to a transparent company?

Are there specific industries and/or organizations that have a right to maintain opacity on their operations? 

What do you want to see from organizations that open themselves up for all to see?

About the author: Steve Birkett is a senior marketing associate at Brooklyn-based agency Esvee Group ( Specializing in translating brand identity to new media channels and content, he is a passionate advocate of building online networks and openly contributing value to the resulting communities. You can further connect with Steve on Twitter via @EsveeGroup, or on his more musically-inclined personal handle, @AboveTheStatic.


Exploring the Value Of ROWE Based Leadership

Business, ROWE, leadership and Stephen AbbottThis is guest post is by Stephen Abbott is a brand strategist who is based in Vancouver, Canada, who helps organizations tell a story that is authentic, compelling and a competitive advantage . Stephen has worked on diverse brands—from grass roots organizations to Royal charities—giving him a healthy perspective on what is known as the soft side of business. Please join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, this Friday, November 9th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we focus on how Results Only Work Environment and Leadership.

For generations, “work” meant showing up and being in place; doing your job in a space determined by the organization and comfortably similar to everyone else’s. It’s still so ingrained that some managers still believe the traditional work environment is actually important to the work. Forgetting the limits that demanded those traditional work spaces—communication, filing systems, meeting rooms, industrial economy—they seem to ignore how technology has removed those barriers and offers new possibilities.

What is ROWE?

Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) is one of the first team leadership styles to disrupt decades of one of the most familiar practices in management; face time.  Officially, ROWE is a human resources management strategy developed by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, who have since formed a consultancy, CultureRx, focused on implementing ROWE at corporations. Like many other strategic or management theories explored over the past few decades (360 Management, Six Sigma, Blue Ocean Strategy, Lean), many leaders are unofficially adopting the underlying theory—or some version of it—to their own workplace.

Rooted in trust

As a concept, it’s a distinctly hands-off approach to management—a style rooted in trust and respect of skilled teams and clear objectives. This is in contrast to the discipline and control—however well intentioned—of the more familiar ‘assign-report-analyze-influence-adjust’ methods found in other styles of management.

Proponents and advocates

Proponents of ROWE are quick to point out the implied benefit. More flexibility + less distractions + work excellence = a happy team achieving desired results. What could be better than more productive employees meeting required targets?

Those who question ROWE are just as quick. There’s a lack of direct accountability and a lack of opportunities to collaborate if people are free to “do as they please”. If team members behave in unpredictable patterns, it’s difficult to coordinate efforts and leverage the full skill of the team efficiently. What could be worse than not being able to manage results without responsible oversight?

Both sides have valid points, and yet both sides make silly claims, too.

Advocates of ROWE imply that traditional managers are out-of-touch, stuffy old clock-watchers and everyone works in cubicle hell. It defines “working-for-the-man”. The other side believes that ROWE workers spend all day in their pajamas, ignoring phone calls and spending billable hours running personal errands with no regard for the demands of their colleagues. It’s ‘free-love’ with a paycheque.

The reality lies somewhere in between, and is as much as reflection of your organization’s culture and processes as it is about value and competence. It’s important to define what results (R) mean to you and your organization. Think beyond the bottom line. ‘Results’ may very well include time in team settings merely for the collaborative value of working together. ‘Results’ doesn’t only imply the end product, but must include important milestones along the way—logical points to share and contribute.

Sitting at the heart of leadership

I will be honest—I am an advocate of this style of management whether its officially declared or simply honoured by leadership. For me, it is the one style of management that sits at the heart of leadership, encouraging individual excellence while focused on shared goals. It demands a level of professional respect and true collaboration that is refreshing, especially in my world of strategic creativity. That being said, I recognize it’s not for everyone.

ROWE shattered the traditional expectations of some work environments and productivity, and the results have shown both success and failure. Is ROWE a viable management theory, or simply a passing fad?

 Q1 Does ROWE style leadership contradict the concept of clear organizational teams and shared goals?

Q2 As an employee or a leader, why do you prefer ROWE style leadership or more traditional management approach?

Q3 Do you think it’s possible for one organization to have similar teams mixed with ROWE style and more traditional style practices?

Q4 What are your concerns with ROWE style leadership style in your organization?

Q5 Which industries or professions better suited to ROWE style leadership?

About the author: Stephen Abbott is a brand strategist based in Vancouver, Canada,  helping organizations tell a story that is authentic, compelling and a competitive advantage. To do this, he focuses on the four critical functions of brand strategy; leadership & culture, communications, brand experience, and operations. Stephen has worked on diverse brands—from grass roots organizations to Royal charities—experiencing a variety of industries and organizational styles first-hand. This exposure has given him a healthy perspective on what is known as the soft side of business; capturing the excitement of visionary leadership while remaining grounded in realistic goals and being accountable to bottom line success.