Looking Under the Hood of Corporate Culture

corporate culture, ethics, society, businessCorporate culture has been coming up quite a lot lately in our #KaizenBiz conversations. When you look at ideas about leadership, marketing, strategy and other business ideas, culture is usually not far from the surface. There is a lot written about what a corporate culture ought to be like and how it should include social responsibility and foster positive human dynamics. For the most part, leaders want to see their organizations live out their most cherished values. Chick-Fil-A is often cited as an example of this as they close on Sundays. Toms Shoes is famous for its “one for one” model of buying their shoes, eyewear or apparel and helping someone in need. Zappos is another example where they hire for character and pay people who don’t fit their culture to leave.

Pixar’s lesson

There is a great book excerpt on the McKinsey and Company blog by Ed Catmull about how Pixar eventually developed a positive and creative culture. Catmull explains that he and John Lasseter consciously designed a culture that was respectful of everyone in the organization. By making themselves accessible and role modeling their expectations, they thought they had created a culture that mirrored their desire. Then they found that there was this huge rift between the production and creative departments. The people in the production department felt like second-class citizens and the people in the creative department felt micromanaged. Catmull’s lesson, he writes, was that “[b]eing on the lookout for problems, I realized, was not the same as seeing problems.”  Same culture, different experiences.

Just because it’s part of your business model…

Catmull and Lasseter set up a business model in which communicating with management was encouraged (or so they thought and report rectified). In an HBR post by Jim Dougherty, it is recommended that the business model and culture be seen as connected. In the way a company externally and internally communicates and behaves with one another reflects both the business model and culture. This makes culture more of a social construct. A group of people come together and form a mini-society. It might be a highly dysfunctional mini-society with backbiting and a hostile work environment but this is a social construct. There are rules, norms and ethics. As in, this is how we do things here. It is communicated overtly and subtly from the onboarding process all along an employee’s worklife with that company.Think of messages like “we hold information back, we take time to have fun playing foosball and drink beer, ask Jane because she knows where the skeletons are, we do anything and everything to satisfy a customer,” or ” we never talk to Them.”

Different lenses affects ethics

Aiming to be the best company is an admirable and understandable goal. I don’t think anyone founds a business and consciously chooses to make it a miserable, soul-sucking place. Some founders don’t think past “let’s get the work done” and set up an environment that later becomes unworkable and unlivable. For other leaders, hiring the best candidates may support a culture of excellence but it may leave other aspects unexamined. There is also the moment when a company has grown so large that it takes far more effort to communicate and exemplify the preferred culture. People may fill in the gaps with their own ethical code or create a separate code from the prevailing culture. As an example, it may be encouraged to meet a certain type of quota by a deadline. The way the quota is met can range from complying with the overall culture or it may deviate into a utilitarian sub-code. A company’s culture is often an expression of how the people in it view one another and the whole of humanity as well as the value of wealth and success. These various lenses become drivers in organizational decision-making

This is such a brief overview of corporate culture and brings up more questions than it answers. So many of us think we know what the perfect corporate culture looks like. The question is, is it the same idea for everyone? It may be that one leader of an organization goes around acting like some kind of chieftain while another leader may act as facilitator or collaborator. One employee might view it is the totality of a social life while another employee just wants to get the work done and go home. Corporate culture could very well be dynamic as an organization grows and people come and go.

What really makes up corporate culture? Is it a mini-society with complex relationships and mores? Join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz on Friday, May 9, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to add your insights and expertise to our conversation.

How relevant is the company culture to creating revenue?

How does corporate culture reflect society in general?

With so many competing agendas, how likely is it for companies to foster a common understanding of who they are internally?

What role do ethics play in the expression of corporate culture?



Building Business Resilience During Scarcity and Climate Change

Regardless if you believe that climate change is caused by human behaviors or caused by the natural warming and cooling of the planet. there are certain aspects to this topic that are bound to affect large and small businesses. There are intense weather patterns which are disruptive. Beyond climate change, there are questions about certain resources becoming more scarce such as oil, helium and some metals.

Certainty and uncertainty

The certainty is that particular parts of the world, specific countries even, are growing economically and therefore buying more stuff. This creates higher prices for commodities.

The uncertainty lies in how weather, costs and resources become unpredictable and affect the day to day operations of a business. The polar vortex experienced this winter in the US may have had a $5 billion effect. Natural disasters such as flooding, volcanic eruptions and typhoons can disrupt travel, supply lines and cause workers to slow down or stop production. While most businesses are looking at how the banks are functioning and other economic indicators, they may need to expand to include the environment(s) in which they operate.

Andrew Winston’s “Big Pivot”

Andrew Winston, author of The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World, advocates a more “…profound change in strategy, operations, and business philosophy that will make organizations more resilient and help them create new value in a hotter, resource-scarce world.” This is the “Big Pivot.”

In his Harvard Business Review article, “Resilience in a Hotter World,” he explains that there are three types of resilience that organizations must put in place:

  • Cost and risk resilience
  • Revenue resilience
  • Brand resilience

Pivot strategies: Vision, Valuation and Partners

These resiliencies are created when the pivot strategies are adhered to. According to Winston, companies who are more willing to make “…dramatic improvements in operational efficiency and cuts in material and energy use, waste, and carbon emissions, companies become much more flexible and, possibly, antifragile.” He also points out that this pivot is not based on corporate social responsibility. It is based on self-interest. As in, companies who uses renewable energy sources, seek ways to use less resources and increase trust in its relationships with consumers, competitors and communities are more likely to make a profit and thrive.

Winston’s perspective (in a nutshell)

Vision: Rather than simply looking at quarterly reports, companies need to take on a more long-term perspective that looks at years and not months. To do this, it is important to ask “heretical questions” regarding operational, manufacturing and/or economic growth.

Valuation: Not only should companies look at what will maximize their earnings by calculating what will create value. Winston points out that there are things that are much harder to assign a value to such as pollution or job creation. Valuation has to also include natural capital (things in the natural environment).

Partners: This is another area that Winston calls for radical differences. The partners seem like the natural go-to’s…governments, competitors and customers. The radical differences could be teaming up with competitors to lobby for certain environmental policies or partnering with suppliers and consumers to change potential or real systemic problems.

There are changes in the environment

There are still concerns about certain resources decreasing and natural disasters affecting business resilience. It is likely that most companies would say they desire sustainability. However, there is still a mindset that profit and making stockholders happy are more important. There may even be resistance from companies following through on the “Big Pivot” because it may seem too costly or counter-intuitive to source materials differently or advocate for certain environmental policies. Many countries look to their governments to make the necessary changes and individuals (companies or people) do not see how they can be part of that process.

What do you think? Is Andrew Winston advocating some kind of “pie in the sky” behavior or is his “Big Pivot” actually necessary for long term resilience and sustainability? Join us on the Twitter chat #KaizenBiz Friday, April 11, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and add your insights, opinions and expertise to the conversation.

To what degree have organizations had to change how they evaluate environmental events/storms?

Winston states that incremental changes are not enough. How would an organization make the radical thinking/behavioral leaps he is advocates?

If commodities are increasing in price and certain resources are dwindling, how would a manufacturer change consumer behavior?

Some of what Winston advocates seem high cost changes. How would you make the business case that the “Big Pivot” is smart move?



Transparency Is More Than a Policy; It’s a Value

Transparency, value, businessIn the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, we often take a look at ideas that have become the idée du jour. Transparency has been gaining steam for the last couple of years due to the influence of social platforms.It is so easy for information to get out publicly about nearly everything and everyone. But transparency seems to be more than simply a way for a business or organization to appear ethical and engaging. There is a quality to it that makes it akin to a value, much like honesty or freedom. With this lens, it is deeper than a set of policies or even a practice.

Please join us Friday, January 17, at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Goal Setting.” Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Beyond good ethics

In a recent post on Entrepreneur.com, Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market is quoted as saying, “customers want transparency.” (Whole Foods Market is a grocery store that focuses on organic, sustainable and ethical food and health products). For a company like Whole Foods Market, transparency can be a selling point for customers. This goes beyond simply ethics as companies have to pay attention to revenue and profits. When a company appears consistent in its behavior and message, customers want to do business with it.

Support for being more than ethics

Transparency has to be more than being an open book. Customers want to know that their information is protected. In “Privacy in the Age of Transparency,” Jeffrey Rothfeder writes, “the companies that are open and honest in their communications, adopt privacy policies, and are very clear about how they use collected data discreetly to further corporate growth, efficiency, and performance will benefit from wider consumer acceptance in international markets. This…is what leads to increased revenue, less litigation from the aggrieved, enhanced reputations for their brands, and more prospective partners willing to enter into lucrative cooperative ventures that require a deep well of trust.”

But it isn’t just consumers who are wary…

In a 2013 study by Tiny Pulse, it was noted that employees are have higher happiness levels with greater levels of management transparency. This points to organizational culture requiring real adherence to the stated mission, values and management practices. This includes managers clearly stating expectations and duties of employees, there are abundant conversations about the company’s mission and values and even day to day interactions support the authenticity and commitment to transparency.

Combination of relationships with consumers and employees

The digital age has made it easier for people find all kinds of information. Glen Llopis writes that “We are all living during a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable – regardless of hierarchy or rank.” This affects both the way a business conducts itself which, as you know, is actually people. Consumers and employees want their companies to be transparent. This requires the people of the company to not view transparency as a policy but as a way of being; the same way we live by our other values.

What do you think? Has transparency become a value? Join us Friday, January 17, 2014 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT

What benefits do you see when a company embraces policy of transparency?

How does transparency get articulated as part of a value system?

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

When does transparency go too far for a business?

What types of behaviors demonstrate transparency?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, executive coach, trainer and international expansion consultant, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.



Risk Management and Game Theory

risk, risk management, game theoryIn many of our KaizenBiz conversations, there is a reference to how turbulent the business environment is with the rapid changes in technology and access to one another. It is a time when small organizations can be major players in their industry (as noted in Killing Giants by Stephen Denny).  Thus, risk management is on everyone’s mind as they make business decisions for their company.

Definition of risk management

Clearly all businesses face varying types and levels of risk. Risk management is the process to identify, evaluate and plan for factors that could pose harm or obstacles to the organization.

Where game theory fits in

Many people are familiar with the “prisoner’s dilemma” which is one aspect of game theory. But game theory is more involved that just that one aspect. However, at its most basic level, it is the idea that people and organizations take into consideration benefits and risks to make decisions on what they perceive to be in their best interest. It is important to remember that there is an assumption of rational thought behind process and the decisions within situations of competition, conflict, cooperation and interdependence.

Game theory can be useful within business planning and risk management is how it illuminates connections between disparate information and provide discoveries about how trends could turn out in the future, how competitors might behave and propose multiple scenarios.

But real life is messier than academic scenarios

The Wall Street Journal reported on November 6, 2013 that in a national survey conducted by TD Bank “that middle-market and corporate CFOs are more confident about both their organizations’ ability to manage financial risk and the financial prospects for their companies, indicating the potential for increased business investment in the months ahead.” This apparent increased tolerance for risk may be another indicator of economic growth. Even so, some of the risks that are still prominent for decision makers are political uncertainties, cash flow and liquidity, emphasis on being innovative, potential interruptors from natural or human elements and sluggish economic growth.

The fly in the ointment for game theory

Since game theory presupposes that the people involved will make decisions from a rational basis, this makes things interesting. Now what is often overlooked is that rational in game theory is really about showing a transition from one  point to the next. For most decision-makers, they have a passing understanding of game theory and how it relates to the process of planning.

The challenge with risk management is trying to anticipate and set up a plan for those potential scenarios. The way game theory could be useless is in what Rob Duboff calls “atmospherics.” According to Duboff, there is a signficant gap between the decision trees and the way real-life decisions are made. This gap exists because our brains respond to sound, color, words or phrases and images which prime our later decisions. Even how or what is considered risky is subject to perception.

If risk management is susceptible to perception…

This may limit how useful game theory actually can be to identifying and managing risks. In a McKinsey and Company article, the writers noted that many managers are looking for a single or, at least, simplified answer to potential risks. The business environment is a highly dynamic place and expecting reasonable behavior and succinct solutions may be off base.

On the other hand, this same McKinsey and Company article proposes that game theory takes in various scenarios, factors and possibilities. This is actually multiple games. For those conducting the risk management, they might be looking a list of choices leading to choosing the “most robust.”

What do you think? Does game theory support better risk management or is it too academic to be useful? Join us this Friday, November 8, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to discuss risk managment and game theory.

How can underlying assumptions be made obvious during the decision-making process?

Are risks defined by some sort of objective understanding or are they influenced by geography and culture? Why/Why not?

What are the advantages of using game theory in risk management?

What are the disadvantages of using game theory in risk management?

What other decision making theories might be more useful to risk management?





Are Success Stories Really Legends Or Meaningless Stories?

business, success stories, legends, narrative fallacyWhat does Trump U, Jim Collins’ book, Good To Great, this list of unorthodox success tips and these successful businesses have in common? There seems to be this mindset that if you just get the right habits, the right strategies or the right kind of derring-do, you will be successful in business. It is as if you could be legendary if you just did the same things as the protagonists in success stories.

Could these stories really be the hero (and heroine) legends of our times?

We’ve all grown up with a series of legends. Some of them are handed down to us from stories told by our grandparents while others are stories we discovered in books. Whether they are tales of heroes facing a monster or heroines going into battle to defend her land and people, these stories captured the imagination and inspired people to strive to live well and/or feel pride.

Our archetypes may have changed over the years from the traditional ones of self-sacrificing hero, guardian of secrets or clever child. Perhaps the twenty-first century archetypes are the rags-to-riches character or the visionary entrepreneur.

So, what could possibly go wrong if we believe these stories to hold possibility and value for us?

There are other factors in play. Some of them are based in geography, social class, access to wealth and social norms. Where and how we are born also plays a role in how we can live these stories. It is likely that an entrepreneur from a developed country will have a smoother path. We forget sometimes that these other factors can be seen as privileges, earned and unearned. Plus, they are oversimplified explanations of how someone like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Dhirbubhai Ambani rose to prominence. It is easy to overlook that every day our business heroes and heroines had to do something that kept them on their upward trajectory.

But there may be another perspective that could lower the meaning of any business success story. In an intriguing post, Drake Baer asks, “What Are Success Stories Really Good For?” and answers that we put so much meaning into these stories because of the narrative fallacy.

Narrative fallacy

This cognitive bias was made famous in the book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In a nutshell, it is how people create explanations for extraordinary and unpredictable events. Taking the narrative fallacy into consideration, business success stories may not reflect truth at all. Baer writes, “the causes that bring together a successful career or venture are so varied, complex, and mysterious that to capture them in a feel-good memoir is pretty damn difficult.”

The value of these “legends”

The value of these legends might be the biggest question of all. If the people writing these business success stories are trying to make meaning of how someone went from having an dream to it becoming reality, what are they leaving out? Humans follow stories which have an arc of characters facing adversity and coming to a successful conclusion. We are mystified at times why one person rises up to become the leader of a multimillion (or billion) dollar company while others remain in obscurity. Like the ancient legends, there must be something educational, inspirational or cautionary in these tales. Or maybe, like Baer said in his post, we are trying to learn how to cooperate with serendipity or simply train for mastery.

Join us this Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz to discuss “Are Success Stories Really Legends Or Meaningless Stories?

What makes one entrepreneurial success story more engaging or powerful than another?

There are so many examples online. Why do we look for more stories about business success?

What do we really learn from reading stories about successful businesses?

What, if any similarities, do these success stories bear to the ancient legends of heroes and heroines?

What if these legends are nothing more than stories about particular people who proscribed meaning to behaviors and events that are not connected?

Who inspires you?




Creativity – Mysterious Ingredient of Innovation

innovation, creativity, businessWith so much emphasis on innovation in the business world, people are trying to determine what the ingredients are. There is pressure to be the most innovative with products and delivery. There is this thought that there must be some special way to create something so innovative, so groundbreaking now because anything else would be ordinary.

Even service providers are expected to be innovators. But is innovation ideas, process, sponsorship and support from higher-ups or is it the people doing the work?  But if you drill down even and look at any of these ingredients, it is clear that the ideas come from somewhere.

Most basic ingredient of innovation is creativity

Okay, so it’s an ingredient. That seems pretty obvious.The thing about innovation is that it is the practical application of an idea. Before that application, there had to be a moment when someone thought (or perhaps imagined is a better word). In a Fast Company post, the author described Albert Einstein’s method of problem solving as thinking for the majority of the time and then coming up with his answer. This seems consistent with recent research which has discovered that daydreaming is one way creativity is sparked.

Rediscovering creativity

We know creativity when we see it, right? It would seem so. We can feel it when we are in the moment. Artists have described it as being on fire. It is the experience of being “on” with everything working in concert. Within the last few years, researchers have been trying to discover how the “magic” happens so they have been looking at everything from freestyling rappers to lighting attempting to pinpoint how creativity functions. But this points to the chase more than anything else.

Ephemeral quality of creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert in her TED talk describes the experience of creativity so eloquently. Like many artists, authors and musicians, she notes how hard it is to create and the fear that she will not replicate the quality of her writing. For innovators in the business world, the pressure to find something marketable can amplify the same fear that Gilbert and other creators experience.

Couldn’t using the research findings make it more likely to create?

This may be the most interesting question. Could we confuse what is truly creativity by doing certain things or manipulating our environment? (For a quick overview of the latest research findings, read this post by Will Burns) The application of this research could very well derail creativity. It feeds the belief that if we get the right lighting, the right level of noise, daydream enough or what have you, we’ll be consistently creative. Dan Palotta writes, “The unspoken assumption is that our goal is to gain competitive advantage, to crush the competition, to win.” There is also an assumption that you can mechanize the process.

Does creativity need a purpose or is it a business tool?

But, what if, asDan Palotta also asks, that creativity is something deeper? For some creativity is simply a form of exploration. For others, it is an answer to a question or problem that occupies their thoughts. There may need to be other questions asked about creativity such as timing, purpose, social value and who gets to be creative.

There are even more questions about creativity so join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz on Friday, September 13th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT

What is the purpose of creativity?

How do we train ourselves to recognize creativity in nontraditional places?

When we talk about creativity, are we really talking about design?

How do we overcomplicate creativity?

Given what research has discovered about creativity, why does it seem elusive?

Is creativity simply an activity of creation, to provide a good/service to the world, an expression of being human or something else?


Those Business Buzzwords – Useful or Irritating?

Business, buzzwords, communicationIs there a business term that just grates on your nerves? Or is it when someone strings a few together and you realize that he/she has actually said nothing? For many of us, business buzzwords trigger this internal dialogue (although some of us are bold enough to say it out loud) that asks if the person is even speaking the common tongue so we can all know what he/she means.

Some buzzwords you probably wish you could forget

There are some ones that should probably be forgotten but haven’t been such as “low hanging fruit”, “circling back”, “put a pin in it” or “out of the box.” There are more. If you do business in the US, you’ve probably heard many of the common sporting references or analogies since these are common in American business language.

But what’s the current lingo?

Well, don’t worry because all of the old ones are remaining in circulation but there are some new ones to add to your list. Here are a few examples:

  • Innovative
  • Showrooming
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Contextual analytics
  • Digital native
  • B2B
  • Stickiness
  • Crowdfunding

There are more and Business News Daily has an interesting list of more buzzwords you may know and hear overused.

When does a word or term outlive it usefulness and cross over into white noise?

We hear certain business words or terms in many conversations and some of them fit the situation .Judith Shulevitz in her post on the New Republic declares that “disruptive” is no longer as meaningful or pertinent as it was. Her point is that “disruptive” is overused and too generalized at this point to really identify what is, well, disruptive to the status quo. She doesn’t say that certain things are not or cannot be disruptive but that everything that is counter-cultural, defiant or bold is termed disruptive. And she blames Clayton Christensen (worth reading her post to see how this fits) for not reining in everyone who started labeling all kinds of stuff as disruptive.

Creating a language of separation

Before you think you’re hip or cutting-edge (oh dear, is that one too?), are we creating a separate language or a way to shut others out? One thing to look at with buzzwords is that they are often idioms or encapsulated concepts. Many of us work in multi-cultural settings where there many be speakers of other languages. They may or may not be able apply critical thinking to your statements if they are spending the time trying to define what you are saying. Using buzzwords can reinforce a “class-system” that the in-crowd know what is being said but you are an outsider or, worse, nobody. There are power plays that contain a sycophantic or obstructive dynamic.

Buzzwords can be use for good or ill

When they are used for good, they become vocabulary that describes a common experience, a wished-for state or illustrating a concept. There is often the feeling of pressure in the work environment because the pace of business is often faster than the pace of any other facet of our lives. It is as if we can communicate with fewer words, we are getting our ideas or our opinions out more efficiently.

On the other hand, buzzwords can dumb down our messages and make us aim for soundbites rather than a well-thought out statement. They can obfuscate and interfere with developing trustworthy business relationships. This may foster a political (and likely dysfuntional) workplace in which people jockey for position or special treatment. It may even trigger investors to dismiss our venture because they think we don’t have anything different, marketable or worth their time and money.

Join us as we discuss buzzwords and how they are used in business on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, August 23rd at 5pm GMT/ 12pm ET / 9am PT.

What are the most current buzz words you have heard overused lately?

For our global members, what buzzwords do you hear in the your workplace?

Which of the current buzzwords do you find are overused?

When does using a buzzword help continue or illuminate the discussion in the workplace?

How do people use buzzwords in the context of power dynamics in a group setting?

 About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.




Is It Feminine Leadership We Crave Or Just Less Ego-Driven Leadership?

men, women, leadership, businessSince the Great Recession, there has been this conversation about male versus female leadership. A great many people have said that it wouldn’t have happened if there were more women leaders in business and politics. Now the conversation is being framed in terms of female and male traits and which ones are more desirable in the current environment. One of the voices in this conversation is John Gerzema, who has co-authored a book with Michael D’Antonio, The Athena Doctrine; How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the World, which details their global research about how traditionally feminine leadership and values are now more popular than the macho paradigm of the past. They surveyed 64,000 people around the world who responded with a message that leaders who exhibited feminine traits were more desired and needed.

Backlash against men and/or male traits.

It does get oversimplified but the conversation typically demonizes men as leaders and expresses a wish that more women were in leadership roles. Interestingly,  many of the leadership theories that have emerged since the 1970’s and current research suggests that the most effective leadership styles incorporate emotional intelligence and many of the “”feminine” traits identified in The Athena Doctrine. In the comment sections of blog posts like HBR’s ” ‘Feminine’ Values Can Give Tomorrow’s Leaders an Edge”, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In or women leadership, you see tension present between the cultural norms that encourage the traditional male-female roles and the emergence of a more androgynous model.

It’s easy to get sidetracked into attacking the other

Given that social roles are changing and the Great Recession has such far reaching consequences, it is easy to get lost in feeling oppressed. It is quite likely that the Great Recession will have far reaching sociological implications and there isn’t a road map to show us how to create equitable opportunities for everyone. The way things change in Chile are not going to be the same as the way they change in Korea. But…global research points to leadership and business success being dependent on men and women leaders developing certain traits to respond to current conditions.

There are real leadership failures and lessons must be learned

There are examples of bad leadership all over the world that led to scandals and financial ruin. The Anglo tapes in Ireland provide an excellent example of “masculine” leadership traits gone wild but they aren’t the only ones. The challenge will be looking for ways to have conversations that avoid polarization, gender wars and encourage learning what traits will work in a given situation. As we look at how leadership styles have morphed over the years, we see that some of the desired traits haven’t changed at all. It may be that we don’t have the words to describe how leadership has to evolve with the times. It may even be less and less about gender at all.

What makes cooperation/collaboration, empathy, vulnerability, flexibility and/or patience much more desirable in current & future leadership?

How is language complicating the discussion about which leadership traits will be most effective in the future?

How are we blinding ourselves by posing leadership skills as male or female?

Are we setting up more dichotomies that polarise the discussion about leadership? Why or why not?

How do discussions of leadership actually illuminate male and female identities?

At what pace do you see business adopting and adapting to leaders with “feminine” traits?

 About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.


Is It Time To Unplug From Digital World and Why?

#Unplug, Fast Company, digital worldThis week Fast Company has been running a special focus called #Unplug.  This has been an interesting discussion and it seems a good topic for the weekly Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz.  While there has been discussion about how our brains are changing due to our involvement with the digital world, there are still questions about the level of stress we impose on ourselves and the sociological impact which leads directly to how things are done in the business world.

Quick neuroscience lesson

We are all aware of the pressure to complete multiple tasks as efficiently as possible. We may not be aware of what goes into accomplishing this feat. It is understood that the frontal lobe of your brain (right behind your forehead) is responsible for organizing, decision-making, planning, problem-solving, impulse control, working memory, judgement and a few other functions. If you repeat a behaviour, your brain creates a new neural path. It is possible to encourage poor impulse control by attending to every ping your device gives off. Or consider handicapping your decision-making abilities by spending 10-20 seconds on a site and expecting to have gleaned the most salient points.

Social skill development

We are all familiar with trolls who leave comments berating the author, the subject of the post or both. We also know that doing that face to face has serious repercussions and would be the height of boorish behaviour. Yes, most of us are not trolls. However, that doesn’t necessarily leave us off any hooks.

There are patterns of communication online that involve sharing one’s message telegraphically. Plus, the lack of face to face conversation allows people to say just about anything. As we see the workforce change generationally, skills such as small talk, conflict resolution and debate (the civil kind, not the beat-your-opposite-into-submission verbal interchange) are affected. This affects customer service, developing business relationships and getting work done in a collegial environment. There are times when a conversation, not a text message, accomplishes what both parties are working on.

Which leads us to…

We are creating a world that has both positives and negatives for brain development, social interactions and, for the point of the KaizenBiz chat, business practices. The same devices that are introducing more distractibility and shorter attention spans are also allowing people to collaborate without being physically in the same place  as well as in emerging markets to connect with their customers more directly. As you are reading this post, you are probably thinking of a multitude of ways the digital world benefits you personally and professionally.

But when do we call it quits, how long and why?

It isn’t so much giving up the devices altogether (although Baratunde Thurston shut himself off for 25 days) and that may be a nearly an impossibility in the business world. The intriguing thing about the #Unplug focus on Fast Company is the questions about unintended consequences.

  • We are positively reinforcing ourselves to stay connected at all hours of the day every day and rewiring our brain to crave that stimulation
  • We might be Unplug History" href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3013257/unplug/great-moments-in-unplug-historyhttp://" target="_blank">weakening our creativity
  • We are fighting our own biology
  • We might be inadvertently choosing to damage our health and our job performance
  • We might create an inordinate amount of stress for ourselves because we learn to be intolerant of boredom, patience or delayed gratification

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that the digital world is inherently a source of danger or evil. I am a proponent of social networking and the ability to integrate my work life and my personal life. But like the focus on Fast Company, it makes sense to apply some critical thinking to our work and lifestyle choices. Perhaps it makes sense to design consciously how we participate in the digital world.

Why do we accept that we must keep connected to our smartphones, tablets and other devices?

How do you evaluate the pros and cons of staying connected vs unplugging?

How could collaboration change if we unplugged ourselves for a designated time each week?

Great question borrowed from Fast Company…what do you miss about life before the digital age?



Is It Time To Check Out Of Social Media?

There isocial media, engagement, reducing use of social medias a plethora of social media sites we can use. You could literally spend all day on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter and there would still be more sites you didn’t even get close to engaging. So, why cut your time spent when this is where the action is?

Join us for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz on Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and discuss “Is It Time To Check Out Of Social Media?”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Is social media passé? Continue reading