Archive | February, 2012

You, Inc.

9 Feb

The title of this week’s Housley Principled Leadership Program session is “You, Inc.”

We are identifying and sharing the qualities or attributes that we respect in others. These characteristics are most likely the building blocks of the person that we each aspire to be. Using the metaphor of a brand, we will explore the need to ensure consistency between our behaviors and the promise our personal brand represents.

In an effort to gain a better awareness of myself, I have been contemplating the list of characteristics I respect in others. This has been tremendously helpful in understanding my own reactions toward the people in my life. My short list of most admired qualities includes a tremendous work ethic, reliability, competency, fearlessness, and social engagement. I also like people that are funny, humble, adventurous, positive, curious, and respect themselves.

Each of these attributes has its own story and I can’t yet claim that they represent my personal brand promise, but I am proactively attempting to live up to these descriptions. My hope is that one day my colleagues will describe me using all of these words…even humble (but then, hey, almost nobody’s perfect.)

Predictions for R&D

5 Feb

Predicting the future in an ambiguous world is inherently risky. My track record in 2011 was mixed. The primary prediction was that companies would loosen up spending in R&D while constraining growth in headcount and other fixed costs. That was spot on with what actually happened in most industries. What I got wrong was the response to that squeeze. My assumption was that progressive executives would explore alternative product development models and new approaches to utilizing external expertise. While I am often too optimistic about how fast these things will happen, I also believe that people were finally expecting things to get back to normal, so they were not as motivated to explore new and radical solutions.

As the economic environment continues in an extended period of uncertainty, I believe that we will see accelerated adoption of innovative R&D models. In 2012, I expect to see even greater spending in R&D and product development in those industries where the underlying business is growing moderately (seems like just about everywhere outside of housing and construction). If hiring and headcount growth continue to be constrained, then I predict that we will see more:

  • Corporate Venture Investing – Working and investing outside the company to identify new ideas rather than remaining exclusively focused inside the four walls.
  • Private Expert Networks – Expanding available brainpower in product development by accessing external expertise with low fixed costs that are discretionary in nature.
  • Reverse Innovation– Developing new products in and for emerging markets at value price points that are also attractive in the developed world.
  • Social Product Innovation – Taking advantage of the power of social computing platforms to transform the way products are developed by increasing collaboration both inside and outside of company R&D departments.

If these tactics are broadly adopted, my predictions for 2011 will finally have come true a little later than I originally anticipated.

On Getting Hit by a Bus

3 Feb

Rich Gaby will do anything to avoid working with me.

Two days into a new project, and several hours away from home, he went to the hospital with a sore calf and didn’t leave that building for the next six weeks. What followed were several more months of fighting leukemia that taught us a lot about Rich, his friends and family, our firm, and ourselves. Rich is an extraordinary human being with a story that keeps getting more interesting.

Those first tense weeks of his out-of-town hospital stay brought friends in from all over the United States. We all think we have friends, but how many of our friends would put their lives on hold to fly across the country to sit in a depressing hospital room for days on end…just so you wouldn’t be alone? Rich has real friends with staying power.

We anxiously awaited the daily and weekly “how’s Rich” updates from the many folks at Kalypso that made the trek to visit him. And we were thrilled when he attended his first firm event seven months after his diagnosis. I am often asked how the firm can maintain a collegial and family-like culture as we grow. Isn’t it as easy as hiring people that genuinely care about each other? We get to work with our closest friends every day and create life-long relationships with our colleagues. What a fantastic privilege!

Rich is now back and as strong as ever. He is helping his clients deliver on the promise of innovation. There is no question that Mr. Gaby is a Kalypso character with character. Here is what he says makes him unique. Rich Gaby’s CWC Profile.

Abundance

2 Feb

Abundance is a great word and an even better mindset. Preparing for Session Two of the Stelos Alliance’s Housley Principled Leadership Program is providing me with the opportunity to relearn some timeless lessons and reassess my approach to leadership.

This session is titled, “The Attributes of Effective Leadership” and covers a lot of ground including proactivity, integrity, empathy, prioritization, interdependence, and understanding your personal mission. These are all important characteristics of a good leader; however, I believe that the most important is the attitude of abundance.

Those that believe that life is a zero-sum game are limiting not only their leadership effectiveness, but also their success. An abundance mentality creates a framework for human interaction. Seeking alternative solutions that create a “win” for all parties is hard work that requires both empathy and creativity.

This is not about being “nice” or compromising your principles. It is not about settling or giving in. It is about balancing courage and toughness with consideration and understanding. You can’t do that if you think that someone else has to lose in order for you to win. There is enough pie for everybody and by working together we can find a way to make it bigger…and it will probably taste better.

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