The Leader as CREATIVE Culture Architect and Builder

I have worked with Dr. Jerry Newman for the last 14 years. It’s nice when you can have long term relationships with such a great leader. Remember to never burn a bridge….but that’s another blog post.

First I worked with him at Johnson & Johnson Medical where we worked with R&D Scientists on the prioritization of their New Product Development efforts. We called the prioritization facilitation an Innovation Forecasting meeting. I then worked with him at Kemin Foods both in the education of his staff and on numerous facilitation projects. Most recently, I worked with him at Steris Corporation where he was able to refine his CREATIVE Model of R&D leadership development and implement Lions of Innovation. It’s an impressive practical model that works!

Dr. Jerry Newman was the co-creator with myself of the MyMeetingPro app for simple effective meetings.

Dr. Jerry Newman is a fine leader with some great ideas on the development of an R&D team.

Jerry is available for consultation, keynote presentations, or coaching on Research and Development strategy. I hope you enjoy this article on CREATIVE. You can learn more about Dr. Newman at his website.

I envision a future sponsorship from a University where we could both teach at a New Product Development Academy. If you have ideas for a University Sponsor, contact me.

By the way, if you need a great senior leader for your Research and Development efforts, I highly recommend him!

Leadership Lessons: Yawping with Mr. Keating

Mr. Keating Quote

Mr. Keating Quote

In earlier posts, I taught leadership lessons from Dead Poet’s Society. The first clip was entitled Carpe Diem. The second clip was entitled Rip It Out. This clip is entitled, Yawping!

In this clip, Todd was asked to create an original work of poetry. He hasn’t done his homework. Mr. Keating takes the student (Todd) who is depressed and feeling worthless and shows him capabilities and talents that the student never knew that he possessed. As you watch this clip, consider the following questions.

1. How did Mr. Keating bring out the capabilities of the student?
2. As a leader, how could I help others identify talents?
3. How did Mr. Keating anchor these new behaviors?
4. In my role as a leader, how can I help others identify with their successes and build upon them?

For a little background on Walt Whitman, here’s his picture

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

And here is a link in Wikipedia giving more information about Walt Whitman.

What is your barbaric Yawp?

How will you shout your barbaric Yawp from the rooftops of the world this week?

Money Lost from Wasteful Meetings Dwarfs any Bailout

Courtesy of

I made the statement this week that the amount of money lost from wasteful meetings dwarfs any bailout that the US has received. But, is that a true statement. I don’t know….but I intend to find out live during this post.

I know that 5/4 people aren’t good at math….but let’s do some math.

An estimate of the number of people currently living in the US is 313,623,655. How many of those people are working? Wow…..Wiki suggests that we only have 131 million people working in this country. Could that be correct? What’s the rest of the folks doing? Ok, let’s use that number.

The per capita income according to the US consensus is $27,334.

131,000,000 multiplied by 27,334 is 3,580,754,000,000. Let’s call it 3.6 trillion. That means, that every working person in the US earns 298,396,000,000 per month. As a wise person once said, a billion here, and a billion there and eventually you are talking about a lot of money.

If you believe that 30% of our time is spent in some form of meeting. Then 1,074,226,200,000 is the annual cost of meetings. A meeting is defined as getting together with 2 or more people with some desired result or outcome. If 10% of every meeting is wasted, then 107,422,620,000 is our figure. If you believe it is 20%, then the figure is around 214,845,240,000. Now let’s look at the amount spent on the bailout.

It turns out TARP, the most famous bailout was 700 billion. So it would take 3-6 years of wasteful meetings to equal a TARP bailout. Guess I exaggerated a little, but I didn’t say over what time period. Good thing we didn’t make a wager (sticking tongue out in defiance).

Wait…..Wait….stop the presses. Stop the printing….. New information has just come in.

It turns out that only $602 billion went out the door, and 306 billion has been returned according to this site. Therefore, 214 billion is the net still outstanding as of May 21, 2012. Therefore, if you believe that 20% of meeting time is wasted, then my figure is correct! Woo Hoo!

What is your opinion?

Leaders Developing Leaders

cream rises to top

We Can’t Afford to settle for Milk

Leaders Developing Leaders

How do we develop the leadership skills necessary to create the future?

Here is a list of the leadership development philosophies that are being practiced today.

1. The Cream Will Rise To The Top.

This philosophy believes that you throw leaders into experiences and those that survive will naturally emerge as leaders.

sink or swim

sink or swim leadership philosophy

My father is 85 years old. He was taught to swim when his older brother threw him into the farm pond. I guess it was either learn to swim or drown in the process. As Bill Cosby said to his children, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out, and make another one that looks just like you.” I’m amazed some time that we survived these early attempts of training. But, somehow we did. I guess people did the best they could with the information that they had. However, 80 years later we have developed better methods. Swim training has evolved somewhat since the 1930’s. I’m not sure that Michael Phelps would have won 16 gold medals if his only training would have been “sink or swim” farm pond training.

2. We can buy cream

Many businesses adhere to this philosophy. Good leaders are expensive. As one company said, we will buy leaders back. In other words, we will let them go to other companies and get the experience needed, then we’ll buy them back when they have received their education. I’d suggest that some of your leadership can be purchased, but purchasing leadership is expensive and we compete with all of the other companies who are bidding for these scarce resources.

3. We can manufacture cream

This is my most preferred philosophy. It’s possible to give leaders the types of experiences necessary to create the leadership needed to create the future that we want.
CEO’s were asked, “What contributes most to the development of future leaders?”. The top answer was: A personalized individual development plan.

You may ask, what are the components of a development plan? Here are some of the necessary components.

1. Desired Results
What are the areas that need to be developed?

2. Things to Read
Abraham Lincoln got his entire education from reading books. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

3. Things To Do
Activities can be designed to help leaders learn important skills. Activities may include job rotation, leading project teams, etc.

4. Coach or Mentor
Pick an individual that models the desired skill effectively and have lunch with them. Document suggestions and coaching

5. Resources Needed From Organization

6. How We Measure Results
Research also shows that sharing this plan with at least one other person outside of your organization has the biggest impact upon plan quality.

If you would like to discuss your development plan or your leadership development process, contact me and let’s discuss.

4. We will settle for Milk

Our future is too important to rely on this strategy. So buy some and build some, but don’t settle for milk!

Reasons Employees Don’t Do What They Are Supposed to Do

Top Reasons Employees Don’t Do What They Are Supposed To

#1 They don’t know they are supposed to

Managers need to set realistic yet challenging job expectations. Disappointment is as much about expectations as anything. The challenge of all employees is to set realistic expectations and over deliver.

#2 They think they are

If employees are not meeting the mark, they need to receive proper feedback. Research shows that employees rarely receive enough feedback. As a manager, the challenge is to say what needs to be said, while preserving a good working relationship. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Keep it between the ditches”. In this saying, the ditch is a metaphor of a dangerous place to drive. In crucial conversations, it’s dangerous not to discuss the un-discussable. It’s also dangerous when the message severs or damages the working relationship. Cultivate the skill of crucial conversations.

#3 They don’t know how

Before managers move to documentation and punishment, they should teach the employee the critical skills of the job. Is the problem a lack of commitment or a lack of competence. If you put a gun to the employees head, could they do the task. If the answer is no, then the problem is not a lack of commitment. Cultivate the ability to coach and develop the critical skills for employee success.

Cancerous Canine

I posted in facebook today and yesterday about an interesting interaction that I had. I’ll try and recreate it for you.

I was taking the trash out yesterday. This girl was carrying a rather large chair. I held the gate opened for her. She asked, “Are you the guy who saw me walking the dog yesterday?”. I stated….”uhhhh……maybe”. I’m thinking….how do I know…I see lots of people walking their dog. She then says…..”Cause my dog has cancer and he’s not a threat to anyone”. At this point, I realize that she’s got the wrong guy. But….I can’t interrupt this story even if I wanted to. She then says…”The guy told me that my dogs should really be on a leash….but my dog has cancer and is really not a threat to anyone”. I said…uhhhh…it wasn’t me.

I made a multiple choice question on Facebook to determine the proper response to this.

Was it….

A. I hope it works out with your cancerous canine?

B. Your dog should really be on a leash even if he does have cancer?

C. What do you think all balding guys look alike? (Add defensiveness for affect)

So what is the point of this story? Sometimes people ask the wrong questions. She should have asked, were you the guy who commented on me walking my dog? or Were you the guy who commented on my needing a leash while walking my dog? Immediately, I would have saved her some time from the cancerous leash less defense.

I have seen this girl several times since. She is walking her cancerous canine without a leash. I must admit that the dog looks like he’s slowly stalking something. It kind of creeped me out as I walked by. My mischievous side has actually thought of yelling….I thought I told you to keep that do on a leash. I’m sure that that would really confuse her….especially since I must look like the guy who told her that the first time.

Leadership Lessons from Poker and Blackjack

I have been playing poker seriously for the past eight years. I always considered it a part time job. As I age, it gets harder and harder to explain to people what I do.

I have a training company. I do employee and management development workshops. I co-created and market a suite of iPad and iPhone apps under the MyMeetingPro brand. I trade/invest in the stock market and trade options. I’m a landlord. I play poker when I get the chance. See what I mean, I can’t just say I’m a doctor or lawyer or veterinarian.

Leadership lessons from poker

Leadership lessons from poker

In poker, you are always looking to get your chips in the middle when you have the best hand or the mathematical odds are in your favor. In poker, as in business, you try to make good investments.

Perhaps you saw the movie 21. The movie is based upon a true story where an MIT team of card counters effectively beat Vegas out of a sizable chunk of change.

Click here here to read about the story in Wikipedia. The article claims that the team earned approximately $162.50 profits per hour played at the tables. How much of an edge can you really get against the house in blackjack?

According to one source

Most casinos will have a house edge of approximately 0.5% if you are playing perfect Blackjack strategy. With the use of card counting the player is able to swing that edge in their favor to about 1%, a change of 1.5%. This can depend on the skill of the card counter and other playing conditions, and often it can take hundreds of hours of play to achieve this level of profit.

Here is a movie clip from the movie 21.

Sexy….exciting….but that’s what sells tickets at the box office.

What if I were to show you much better odds where you could save lots of money that is literally getting wasted every day? Sound like a pitchman about to sell you some hype? What if I gave you some special glasses that allowed you to see this waste?

x ray glasses

Ad for X ray glasses

Do you remember this ad? The advertisements suggests that young teenage boys might be interested in this x ray vision in order to see the bones through the fingers. Yeah right! (Thought about making a joke about the word bone…..but decided against it.)

As you put on these new glasses, you begin to discover the hidden waste behind wasteful meetings. Click here to see my post about how the cost of wasteful meetings dwarfs any bailout.

In poker, a big part of the success of your game is table selection. I have chosen to play at the table of meeting effectiveness, because I think the odds are in my favor.

I’ll make you a deal. I’ll teach your company to run better meetings. I will arm your employees with technology that will help them practice the skills that I will teach them. We can either create a partnership where we will share in the cost savings or if you are afraid of measurement, you can just pay me my normal daily rate. If you believe that you didn’t have a Return on Investment higher than your companies normal profit margin, then don’t pay me. Deal?

If so, then shuffle up and deal.

Want to be a member of the MyMeetingPro card counting team?

More Leadership Lessons from Robin Williams

Leadership Principles from Robin Williams

I hope you enjoyed the last lesson from Mr. Keating. Carpe Diem, seize the day boys make your lives extraordinary. Now it’s time for lesson number 2.

What are ways that you need to challenge the status quo?

As Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created them?”

What do you like about that quote?

What does this quote say about Einstein’s world view or paradigm?

Why should we challenge the status quo? Isn’t that what leadership is all about? Leaders have a perspective or a world view that frequently deviates from the status quo? Perhaps some background on paradigms would be helpful….click here for some information on paradigms.

Leadership is about leading change and influence. And if you think you are leading and you turn around and no one is following…’re just going for a walk!

It takes a strong fish to swim upstream, but any old dead fish can float down the stream like the rest of them. Perhaps the status quo sheep in your life are telling you that your perspective is baaaaaaaaaad (pronounced with best sheep accent). Remember, all significant break-throughs were break-withs old ways of thinking.

Here is the quote from Walt Whitman that Mr. Keating quotes at the end of the video.

O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?

Today, don’t ask where the path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a trail!

Carpe Diem! What Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society Can Teach Us About Leadership

One of my favorite films is Dead Poet’s Society. In teaching leadership, I sometimes use popular movies to illustrate certain principles. In this video clip, you are going to see Robin Williams (Mr. Keating) deviate from the norm. He is about to enter his classroom for the first time. As you watch this video, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is Robin Williams (Mr. Keating) doing?

2. Why is that significant?

3. What impact did it have on the students?

After you watch this video, we’ll think about the implications for you and your world.

Gather Ye rosebuds while ye may old time is still a flying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.

The Latin word for this is Carpe Diem or seize the day.

Carpe Diem

What impact are you having?

Are you having the type of impact that you want to have on people?

Are you seizing the day?

Are you making your life extraordinary?

If not, why not?

Perhaps you are too focused on things that you can’t change?

Steven Covey would call this focusing on your Circle of Concern as apposed to your Circle of Influence. The Circle of Influence includes the things we can change. The circle of concern includes the things that we are concerned about, but can do nothing to change. Never allow the things you can do nothing about to distract you from the things you can do a great deal about.

Perhaps you haven’t truly embraced your potential greatness?

I’d be interested in hearing about your personal barriers in the comments.

In 1991, I had my own wake up experience on the back of a ski mountain when I was stranded during a white out snowstorm. You can read about this experience here. You can see some scans of newspaper articles about my survival experience by clicking here. I learned a little about what matters and what is important. I learned that the things that really mattered are:

1. Have I been who it is that I wanted to be in this life? and

2. Have I had the impact that I wanted to have on people?

Who do you want to be? I think this question is probably the most important life question. I told my wife the other day, “Whenever we are feeling conflict or tension, let’s ask our self or the other person this question. Who do I/You want to be? When we can ask our self this question, then step back into the situation and create the consequences that we want, we can truly…….

Seize the day boys and make your lives extraordinary……

Eliminate Waste…..Add More Good Stuff

I have been heavily influenced by the work of Steven Covey author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I first attended the course myself in 1987 and began teaching the material in 1989. Covey talks about being principle centered. When you violate a principle, there are natural law consequences. A principle could be your personal self selected philosophy that guides your life and behavior.

Covey was interviewed in this blog and gave the following description of a principle:

“To expand, a principle is a natural law like gravity. It’s different than a value. Values are subjective; principles are objective. Gravity… if you drop something, gravity controls. If I don’t tell you the truth, you won’t trust me-that’s a natural law. If I tell you the truth consistently and try to live it and apologize when I don’t and try to get back on track, then I’m living a natural law-repentance, making improvements, showing change.”

Today, I identified a new life principle called Eliminate Waste, Add More Good Stuff or affectionately called EWAMGS. In Japanese, the term Muda refers to waste. Let me define Stuff. As George Carlin once said, houses are just stuff with lids on it man.

I believe that much of life follows the principle of Eliminate Waste, and Add More Good Stuff. Let me explain.

In gardening, you pull weeds (Eliminate Waste from now on referred to as EW) and fertilize (Add More Good Stuff from now on referred to as AMGS).

In Twitter, you unfollow the people who haven’t followed you back (EW) and add more targeted followers (AMGS). By the way, I use Just Unfollow.

In new product development, you pull the plug on unsuccessful products (EW) and add more new promising products (AMGS) By the way, we need to fail faster and pull the plug faster than we do. Consequently, our priorities are polluted by distractions.

In meetings, you keep participants on track (EW) and discuss high priority challenges (AMGS). For a great iPad app that helps run simple, effective, targeted meetings, check out MyMeetingPro.

I guess you got the point. So how are you eliminating waste? What good stuff are you adding to your work life?