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Friday, August 21, 2015

View of the Week: On Leadership

As our team has been hard at work finishing off the "Friday Curations", we finished our latest edition of "Notations".  As we "went to press", we also wanted to share   insights from Verne Harnish.  His weekly newsletter is   one of the must reads for our team here @ #outsiders.  He sent out this on the Amazon mess which we selected as this edition of "View of the Week" in line with the mission of this channel:  To Educate.

We wish all a great weekend!!!

Amazon's Situation -- last weekend's New York Time's expose on the apparent brutal work environment at Amazon has encouraged a wave of responses, so I thought I would weigh in as well. Here's a link to my reaction in the Huffington Post. 

Three Key Points:
  1. Founder Jeff Bezos must build his dream on the backs of silicon beings vs. human beings.
  2. Their system for allowing employees to provide anonymous feedback on other employees (rat them out) violently violates everything we know about leadership (and parenting) 101, destroying the very trust they claim as one of their 14 rules.
  3. Rank and yank has proven to be ineffective. If you need competition to fuel creative juices, seek it from the outside. Reread Jack Stack's Great Game of Business.
Core Values -- Jim Collins helped us understand that there are no "right or wrong" core values - they just "are." The key is for there to be congruity between actions and values. Amazon's anonymous feedback system fails this test, which is why serious cracks are forming in their culture. Bezos should have announced the end of this system the day after the NY Timesarticle.

Principles -- and supporting Values, which can vary between company and country cultures, is a foundational layer of Principles which, in turn, is the same across all organizations - something we don't talk enough about. In business, transparency and trust are two such principles. They are as sacrosanct as freedom of speech. No systems or values can trump these principles or there is long term danger.

Systems of Survival -- this is the title of one of my favorite books. Written by the late Jane Jacobs, she delineated a set of "moral precepts" she felt must underpin successful commerce. I think it's an excellent list - and have found in all my commercial dealings that when one of these precepts is violated, things turn out badly:
  • Shun force
  • Compete
  • Be efficient
  • Be open to inventiveness and novelty
  • Use initiative and enterprise
  • Come to voluntary agreements
  • Respect contracts
  • Dissent for the sake of the task
  • Be industrious
  • Be thrifty
  • Invest for productive purposes
  • Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens
  • Promote comfort and convenience
  • Be optimistic
  • Be honest
It's this list that provides a foundational bedrock upon which you can build your own unique culture (core values) and company.  

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