Never Waste a Failure

“Never Waste a Failure” — Nick Saban   Although heartbreaking for Georgia, Alabama’s win in last week’s football championship game was remarkable in many ways, not the least was Nick Saban’s decision to play his untested freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the second half. Lots of lessons there! But what caught my attention was Saban’s […]

Two Points of Contact

I had my first-of-the-season shakedown cruise on the boat over the weekend. A lot happens on a shakedown, but nothing more important than remembering to always have two points of contact between me and the boat.This can be a foot and a hand, foot and a knee, and so on, but only one point is […]

We are Corporate Athletes

As Jim Lehr and Tony Schwartz point out with their Corporate Athlete concept, we all work in cycles – sometimes we are conscious of them, sometimes not – and I’ve just come off of a “put your head down and get it done” cycle. I completely underestimated the amount of mental energy involved in moving. […]

Harvey, Houston, and Hometown Heroes

Many of us have stories about the recent hurricane that flooded my old hometown, Houston. Here’s the one closest to my heart. My sister, Susan, lives in Houston and is the Controller for a division of a large French geophysical services company. She and hundreds of others work in an office on the west side […]

Cast a Wide Net

Most of your time is spent solving problems, problems that are too big or too important to the organization for someone else to solve. These are the problems that get “kicked upstairs’.” It’s tempting to solve as many as we can, as quickly as we can. Of course, it feels good to check something off […]

Unwritten Rules

Unwritten rules are based in organization values – often unwritten or even unconscious values. For example, if an organization unconsciously values “action orientation,” then a person gathering a lot of data before starting execution on a project could derail. Or if the organization talks about collaboration but actually values internal competition, trying to collaborate will […]

Scaling Compaq with Karen Walker – The Women in Tech Show

In the 80s, Compaq became one of the fastest growing companies in American History. Compaq pioneered the idea of building a computer that was compatible with IBM’s software. Back then, IBM was the dominant player in the personal computers space and their software was used everywhere. Karen Walker was Vice President of Operations at Compaq. […]

The Three Lenses

Myopia. Diagnosed at age eight, I was astonished that my new glasses enabled me to see the leaves on the trees. Who knew!  The same “aha”moment can occur in organizations when we shift the perspective from one lens to three to analyze an issue. Individual. Group. Organization. What does the individual need?  What does the […]

Shortlist: 12 Best Practices

I’ve compiled a shortlist of best practices for internal alignment and engagement. I’ve seen these work, over and over again, in successful growth companies.    9 Box talent review: Performance vs Potential Tour of Duty conversations / CEO 1-1 Weekly check-ins: 3-5 bullets this week/last week Quarterly executive level meetings / big picture topics Annual […]

A/C or A/A?

One of the major “maturity” shifts in an individual – and in an organization – is that of personal responsibility and accountability. HIRE for this. Reward it. Without it, you end up being a parent playing tug-of-war with your staff. If you are doing all the work of follow-up and accountability, you are working in […]

But That’s the CEO’s Job!

In a meeting with a venture capitalist, I explained who I work with (CEOs), what I do (grow bigger, better companies), and how I do it (creating and aligning internal strategies to support external growth). His response, “But that’s the CEOs job!” Yes, and …  Any good leader knows their strengths and areas where they […]

Dependent or Inter-Dependent?

Are your teams dependent or inter-dependent? Dependency alone sets up a power dynamic that gets in the way of good cross-functional teaming.  Inter-dependency allows for power sharing – allowing both parties to share situational power. It’s a healthier state. When you charter projects or teams, look for ways to create interdependencies. If they don’t occur […]

Don’t Wait for a Crisis

During a crisis, we can only deal with the urgent – and that rarely includes building relationships. If you are only communicating with others when there is an urgent problem, you are setting up poor relationship patterns and damaging your effectiveness. At best, issue focused communication will produce simple accomodatation of your immediate needs.  At […]

Good Guy vs Bad Guy

Here’s a classic case of Good guy vs Bad guy: Intentions vs Behaviors.  Intentions are, of course, the good guy. Behaviors, the bad. We begin each year, month, day with intentions about how we will spend our time and how we will behave. We end each year, month, day with behaviors that have diverged from […]


With my background in industrial engineering, my core is optimization. So I’ve been fascinated with the recent popularity of “life-hacking,” which is really just optimizing your time.  How few minutes can you exercise (20? 7? 1?) and still receive health benefits? How little time can you spend acquiring food (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, …) and […]

Is Your Team Scaling – or Straining?

There’s a big difference in scaling and straining as the organization grows, and that difference matters to a team’s ability to execute for the long haul. How do you know how your team is doing? Here are a few indicators for each. Scaling Mostly heads up, focused on the end goal Taking actions that solve […]

The High Cost of Task Switching

Remember the last time you worked on a weekend and completely cleared off your desk? Or the night you worked late and finished a project in less time that you thought it would take? Why can’t we do that during the work day? Task switching. During the weekend and the late night, you gave yourself […]

Not Getting the Behaviors You Want?

You don’t need to use a megaphone. Just ask for what you want, notice what you get.   Your chances of getting what you want increase exponentially if others know what you want – and if you notice what you get. Too often we reverse these – I might hear from a client, ” I’m […]

New Habits: The One Action that Stands in Your Way

Happy New Year, all! View fullsize   “One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach.” — Morrow Lindbergh   I’ve always loved this quote – both because one literally cannot collect all the seashells but because in order to pick up any new ones, I must put down some of the shells that […]


Coach Phil Jackson famously uses mindfulness training to get his teams into game shape – knowing that mental state profoundly affects performance. George Mumford has led these sessions for Jackson’s teams, and was quoted in the NY Times this week. He says the results include:  “This ability to step back and observe your experience in […]

Being Good is Not Enough

It’s not enough to be good at what you do, you must also be strategically aligned with what others are doing. #nodumbingdown

The Right Question

Planning for 2017 is well underway for most of your organizations. A common method is goal setting that begins with the question “what do we want?” But “what do we want” is not really the right question – or at least not the right first question … I’ve found that starting with “what are we […]

Perspective (or Why Thanksgiving is My Favorite Holiday)

Perspective is an invaluable competency. The ability to see what is truly important.  One of my clients uses the phrase “no one lost on eye,” a friend says “no one is shooting at us.” These words are grounding, pulling us back from over reaction to the the merely loud. We live beyond what kings and […]

The Role of a Leader

This week, I’ve been inspired by Ken Chenault, the exceptional CEO at American Express. Chenault says:  “I think what’s important for me about leadership (and I’m really passionate about leadership because I think it’s critical, no matter what you do)…I follow a quote from Napoleon. And I always preface this with ‘I don’t want to […]

The Dangers of Team Decision Making

Yes, that’s a provocative title but I see it over and over again. Here’s what happens: We start working with a group of very nice, very smart and very motivated leaders. At some point we demonstrate the benefits of more collaboration, of fewer silos. And then, with the best of intentions, these very bright people stop […]