Preparing For The Unexpected

Preparing For The Unexpected

The information age is also the age of acronyms. Our friends and colleagues make us LOL. Or we might affix a humble IMHO to our suggestions. If there is one acronym that probably best defines the hypercompetitive, dynamic world of business today, however, it is VUCA.VUCA, as Pamela Meyer explains in her book The Agility Shift, stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” In other words, companies need to prepare for the unexpected because the unexpected is coming.

However, how does one prepare for the unknown, the uncertain, the ambiguous? According to Meyer, the answer is to shift mindsets and strategies from the status quo and complacency to agility and entrepreneurialism.

This is no easy task for many companies who have been successful doing what they’ve always done and operating in the world of the past. Success will not last, however, if companies do not become more agile. Studies show that agile companies are “more profitable, sustainable and innovative,” she explains. The real reason to pursue agility, however, goes beyond bottom line results. The “core dynamics” (interacting and interconnecting) of a shift to agility, she writes, “are the key to your ability to create and experience meaning, purpose and happiness.” Meyer puts meaning, purpose and happiness at the center of the agility shift because “it is essential to fostering and sustaining the level of engagement, commitment and creativity you need to respond effectively when the unexpected hits.”

The Relational Web

The agility shift, Meyer explains, is a shift in mindset from “the false comfort of a plan to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.” Such a state of readiness begins with a resource that already exists in most companies: the “Relational Web.” Agility exists, according to Meyer, when individuals, teams and organizations weave a strong Relational Web.

According to Meyer, a Relational Web is much more than another term for social networks. For example, in addition to active relationships with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, an individual’s Relational Web would include extended and/or inactive relationships; skills, knowledge and talent; other sources of ideas; knowledge and expertise; tangible and intangible resources.

Tangible and intangible resources can include anything from capital and raw materials to the brand reputation of the organization for which the person works.

Agile Shift Dynamics

The interconnections, relationships and resources of a Relational Web are not, in themselves, sufficient to ensure agile leaders, teams and organizations. Individuals and organizations must also adopt a mindset, strategy and practices that lead to what Meyer calls “the five agility shift dynamics”: relevance, responsiveness, resilience, resourcefulness and reflection.

Agile organizations are relevant, which means that they have a clear sense of purpose — a “why” for everything they do. Relevance, Meyer writes, aligns purpose and values with the success of the organization. The result is a workforce and leadership that is engaged and committed: an important requirement for agility.

Agile organization are also responsive: They don’t react to events out of fear or to protect or defend themselves but respond to take advantage of new opportunities, writes Meyer. Agile organizations are also resilient, able to “regroup, reorganize and renew in response to a significant disruption,” she writes, and resourceful — taking full advantage of resources. Finally, agile organizations are able to reflect on new developments, understanding which are relevant to their organizations, and demand a response.

An international consultant and professor, Meyer fills her book with case studies and precise how-to steps gathered under “Making Shift Happen” subheads. Thus, one of the Making Shift Happen practices for resilience is to “designate understudies” (a former theater director and producer, Meyer draws metaphors and stories from her show-business career). To designate understudies means to have redundant vital systems to ensure that the organization is not left short when the unexpected happens. Exploring best practices and the mindset for agility for individuals, teams and organizations, The Agility Shift offers practical and timely advice for managers and employees dealing with the challenges of the age of VUCA.

How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

Prescriptions for Handling Difficult People

Perhaps the most universal challenge faced by any manager or employee at any level of an organization is dealing with difficult and even irrational people. In his new book, Talking to Crazy, psychiatrist Mark Goulston offers a counter-intuitive prescription to dealing with the irrational and the impossible: “Lean into the crazy.” Don’t argue or try to reason with these people, he writes. Instead, treat them as if they are rational, show them that you are not a threat and then “move them” to sanity.

talkingtocrazyHis prescription is based on what he calls the “Sanity Cycle,” which consists of six steps: “see that the other person is acting crazy”; “identify the other person’s M.O.” (such as extreme emotion, hopelessness, manipulation or martyrdom);“deal with your own crazy”; “go to the other person’s crazy”; “show that you are not a threat”; and “move the person to a sane place.”

The Man in the Pickup

In the opening chapter of his book, Goulston tells a startling personal story of road rage gone right that illustrates the Sanity Cycle in practice. After one of the worst professional days of his life, a preoccupied Goulston cut off the same person, a very large man in a pickup, twice. The second time, the man blocked Goulston’s car, emerged from his pickup truck in a rage, and started screaming and pounding on the window of the car. Goulston lowered the window and said, “Have you ever had such an awful day that you’re just hoping to meet someone who will pull out a gun, shoot you and put you out of your misery? Are you that someone?” Before long, the stunned other driver was trying to comfort Goulston, explaining to him that life really wasn’t that bad.

This story is an example of the “belly role” — one of the many techniques that Goulston offers his readers. The belly role is named after the habits of animals that indicate their submission to other dominant animals by lying on their backs and showing their bellies. In more technical terms, this is called assertive submission, an apt name — it takes a certain amount of assertiveness to say to a crazy person, “You’re right, do what you have to do.”

Apologize, Empathize, Uncover

Another of Goulston’s techniques is the A-E-U technique, whose acronym stands for Apologize, Empathize, Uncover. When the other person is being irrational, Goulston writes, you apologize for your own shortcomings, recognize how difficult it must be for them to deal with you, and then describe to the person what they may be truly feeling. For example, Goulston described a case involving a marital situation in which he told his client that as part of the uncover phase she must tell her spouse, “I’m guessing you’d like to get a divorce, but you can’t bear all the tumult that would cause. It wouldn’t even surprise me if, when I’m on a trip, you secretly wish I’d die in a plane crash, because then you’d be free without being the bad guy.”

Leaning into the crazy in this way may seem counter- intuitive, not to mention counterproductive. However, the A-E-U and other techniques in Goulston’s book reveal the power of his Sanity Cycle. One of the early steps in the cycle is “dealing with your own crazy” — that is, recognizing how you are contributing to the problems. Only then can you respond in ways that “show that you are not a threat” and that in the end “move the person to a sane place.”

At first glance, this may all seem nice in theory and completely unrealistic in the real world. Goulston, however, is not a New-Age spinner of good feelings but, rather, a practicing psychiatrist for decades who, as he puts it in the first sentence of the book, “knows crazy” — from the patient who jumped off a fifth-story balcony because he thought he could fly to “80-pound anorexics, strung-out heroin addicts and hallucinating schizophrenics.”

Goulston will be the first person to tell you that some people are too crazy to talk to. Early in the book, he separates irrational and impossible people from people with personality disorders (e.g., narcissists, paranoids, sociopaths). These are people from whom rational people should walk away, Goulston writes unequivocally. However, most conflicts in the workplace (or home) simply involve very difficult people who can make life miserable. Talking to Crazy offers much-needed guidance for those seeking a solution to these all-too-common conflicts.

From Outsourcing To Global Talent: Common issues

Our guest blogger today is Ernest Gundling, PhD, Managing Partner at Aperian Global, a consulting firm he co-founded in 1990, and coauthor of Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts.


Many companies with established outsourcing operations have found that the talent picture is changing. Tens of thousands of employees in places like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Surat, or Noida were originally hired to crunch data overnight while their Western counterparts slept, or to write pieces of code that were parceled out by project managers located elsewhere. However, people who have been performing these roles for years now have become more technically adept and have greater business experience; younger employees are also entering the workforce with higher expectations from the beginning.

Employees in traditional outsourcing locations now often aspire to broader and more responsible roles: leading project teams, interfacing directly with customers, authoring entire reports, scoping and designing new systems. Firms that are able to meet these aspirations will retain their top talent; those that do not are likely to lose it. It is not easy to make the transition from existing outsourcing roles to a global talent approach that matches each employee’s developmental stage with the opportunities available around the world. Beyond simply placing an employee in a new role, there are often critical skill gaps that need to be addressed. Consider the mutually frustrating encounter between a Western manager and his Indian counterpart outlined below.

Example: The Report
Michael, a team leader for a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, comments,

“Two weeks ago, I sent a report along to our team in Surat with the raw data and information on the target audience. I followed up with a check-in call to make sure that Jas, the person in India assigned to this project, had gotten the documents and see if he had any questions. I told him that, ideally, I needed the report in two weeks, and asked if he was okay with that. He said, ‘sure.’

“Two weeks later, I got the report back and saw that while Jas had integrated the raw data, the implications had not been interpreted at all. The key messages were not clear and the nuances in the tone and language were just not right for my European audience. Actually, the report was unfinished in many ways. So it was now up to me to rewrite it, without any cushion time, which then impacted my deadline. I would say that this feels pretty typical of my interaction with the team in Surat, although they are supposed to be providing end-to-end report writing services.

“I expected Jas to take the data and interpret it based on his expertise. He should be able to discern which messages need to come across to the audience and then craft those messages in a way that will make sense to our audience and add value to me. It will be quicker for me to just do the rewrite now rather than spend so much time explaining all the changes. I expect another professional like me to be able to own the communication he is writing and deliver a product that is complete, on time, and reflects a deep understanding of the material. We don’t necessarily get that from our team there. If there is a question about something, I am always available. I am just an e-mail away. But those questions should come up early enough for me to address them, without impacting the deadline.”

Meanwhile, Jas, an Indian team leader based in Surat, expresses his own frustrations:

“The project with Michael could have gone better. When Michael called, I had not yet had time to look at the documents he had sent since I was working on a couple of other reports. So I didn’t have any questions at that time and figured I could rely on my team here in Surat to figure out any elements I didn’t understand. The thing is, I can constantly discuss and get help with my local team if I have an issue, but how can I do this with Michael? I don’t even know him. If I start out by asking a million questions, he will think that I don’t know anything and I will lose credibility with him.

“When I finally got around to looking through the materials that Michael sent, I realized that it would take a lot of time to write this report. By that time, I only had a week left to complete it. I worked late hours with other members of my team trying to finish this document to meet Michael’s timeline. I was hopeful that we could complete it, but we were only able to finish it to a certain level. Anyway, it’s better that I get Michael’s input on what we already have written and then make changes from there.”

Often they give us only a small amount of information and then get angry when we aren’t able to read their minds. I am just responsible for doing the work I am given, to the specifications which have been outlined. Our client stakeholders determine those specifications. I am not in a position to argue with that. If they would give me more information or be more readily available—or if we had a relationship—that would be different. But the work is still just thrown over the wall to me and then there is silence. I try to match the specifications they send, but they often want me to make things up out of thin air. It is not my place to be offering my opinions in this kind of paper. I am just trying to give them what they want.”

Key Competencies
This dynamic between Michael and Jas points to the core struggles in play as organizations try to reposition themselves for global relevance. Most organizations recognize the trends and are in the process of aligning themselves to benefit from the global economic shifts. But they have found that their internal talent management processes are unable to keep up with, much less effectively drive, the organization’s global growth. The transition to global talent sourcing, it turns out, is not just a matter of hiring more global workers. It requires a colossal mindset shift in the organization and new approaches to delegation, teamwork, employee engagement, knowledge transfer, performance evaluation, and developing the competencies needed to make all of these possible.

Accountability & Communication

There are many components to building an executive presence, including posture, dress, gestures such as the form of one’s initial greetings, and so on. The rules for these are largely unwritten and vary somewhat by culture. There are also important general skills required of employees who aspire to join the executive ranks in most multinationals. There are clearly things that Jas could do in the report scenario just discussed to make the interaction more successful. Becoming a full-fledged global team partner brings with it a higher level of accountability. He currently appears to be expressing a kind of passive/aggressive attitude that is unlikely to establish him as an executive peer. If he wants others to see him as a true global partner, he needs to take more responsibility and initiative, and step out of an outsourcing mindset himself. There is a danger that he will create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if he assumes that he is being treated as a second-class corporate citizen and acts accordingly, he may find that this is indeed the way that others treat him, even if corporate policy is to move away from outsourcing. How can Jas get a virtuous cycle going by altering his approach?

If Jas is unclear about his responsibilities, it’s up to him to reach out and request clarification from Michael while expressing his intention to get the job done. It is not helpful to his reputation to provide a half-baked response and feel resentful about his role, especially if he is assuming that the ultimate responsibility lies elsewhere. Jas also needs to cultivate a particular skill of distilling and communicating key messages. Inexperienced people in his position tend to provide large volumes of detail without sufficiently digesting or interpreting the information. The term “executive summary” highlights the expectations of leaders who are exposed to large volumes of information on a daily basis. They want to know the main points and to have the option to drill down for further detail as needed; likewise, they expect their peers to be able to both synthesize and probe.

Several familiar cultural patterns were probably in the background of the initial response Jas gave to Michael: deference to hierarchy, a preference for relationship-based interactions, and reluctance to draw direct conclusions for others who will make their own inferences. For Jas to be effective at higher levels in this organization, however, he will need to understand these patterns and take steps to flex his own style. It is neither possible nor desirable for him to become a Westerner, but his current mentality will not serve him well in a global leadership position. Jas may find that Michael is amenable to meeting him partway if he asks him for help and expresses an eagerness to learn new skills.

Developing Future Leaders

There is responsibility on both sides in this example. It is all too common for a person in Michael’s role to conclude that Jas lacks business acumen and other essential leadership capabilities,evaluating the report Jas has produced negatively while doing the work himself or steering it elsewhere. Michael can help to break the cycle of unmet expectations and critical performance evaluation by reaching out to Jas and learning more about his capabilities and developmental needs.

It may be that Jas is not the right person for the role, but it is more likely that he needs hands-on mentoring, exposure to best practice models, and constructive feedback that will enable him to grow into his position. Jas will feel more comfortable talking about his developmental needs if he feels that Michael believes in him and is actively involved in providing support. Michael will also be better able to target what he delegates, and to accurately anticipate and rely upon the work that Jas produces. They should get to know each other a lot better, and this is a worthwhile investment of Michael’s time in spite of the geographical and cultural distance that separates them.

Organizations committed to global talent development will make sure that Michael is also held accountable for enabling his global colleagues such as Jas to move to the next level of performance. Leaders who are consistently able to do this will in the long run add far greater value to their companies than they will by deliberately or inadvertently shutting the door to those who could learn rapidly with the right kind of guidance.

Global Talent: The Rewards
Moving from mutual frustration to effective collaboration is complex because it requires a level of self-awareness and conscious effort from everyone involved. Jas cannot do all the work himself, and neither should Michael. When enough key individuals do learn to work together in a way that combines their skills, however, the results can be quite powerful, including retention of vital personnel, greater employee engagement, mutual learning, and higher levels of performance all around. Companies that create the formula for this will discover a powerful accelerator to their global growth, and a competitive edge versus rivals that remain stuck in old outsourcing models.

To learn more about leading in a global economy, join Dr. Gundling for our Soundview Live webinar: Leading Across New Borders.

How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations

Succeeding as a Newcomer

In an old commercial, a cattle rancher is asked when he last left the “county.” The look on his face reveals that he can’t remember. Cattle ranchers notwithstanding, most of us have lives filled with moves: to new places, new companies and new teams, not to mention new hobbies or new sports. We’re in unfamiliar environments, dealing with unfamiliar people and trying to accomplish unfamiliar tasks.

whattodowhenyourenewIn a new book entitled What to Do When You’re New, author Keith Rollag has written a manual to help us successfully navigate the unsettling experience. At the heart of the book are five actions that, Rollag writes, newcomers must master: introducing yourself, remembering names, asking questions, starting new relationships and performing in new situations. For each of these actions, Rollag explains why, as newcomers, we are reluctant to perform these actions, offers different strategies and techniques to accomplish each action effectively and finishes with ways to practice the techniques.

Is This a Good Time?

For example, Rollag writes, the first important step to integrate successfully into a new situation is to introduce yourself to others.

While this might sound easy, most people, Rollag writes, are reluctant to introduce themselves for a number of reasons, including the fear of interrupting people at the wrong time and place; introducing yourself to people who don’t want to meet you; or making a bad first impression, for example by doing something that annoys the other person. Rollag’s advice: Just do it. The social risk is in most cases much less than you think. To help readers take the first step, he lists the key parts of the opening conversation: Lead with a greeting, state your name, establish the introduction as an introduction (“I would like to introduce myself ”), state who you are and why you want to introduce yourself (including the fact that you are new), quickly ask for permission to continue (“Is this a good time?”) and be brief. If you are humble, respectful and show an interest in the person to whom you are introducing yourself, you will make a good first impression, Rollag writes.

Rollag offers equally practical advice for remembering names, asking questions, starting new relationships and performing in new situations. After explaining why the names of new people escape our long-term memory, for example, Rollag gives a number of techniques to remember names, including mentally attaching silly visuals to the face based on the name (Phillip Harper is imagined trying to play a musical harp with his lips).

Perhaps the most challenging action to take as a new- comer is to perform in front of others. Whether you have just been hired by a new company or are taking dance lessons for the first time, you are expected to perform in front of a group of critical quasi-strangers. Rollag presents some helpful psychological insight related to talent and performance. Many people believe that they have a pool of defined talent. Thus, when they perform for the first time in front of others, Rollag explains, they see the initial performance as a “big reveal” — in other words, “I have to be good because this is the best that I can do and will ever do.” In truth, Rollag writes, newcomers should reject the mindset of “being good” and adopt instead the mindset of “getting better.” This mindset lowers the expectation of the performance. You focus on the fact that you are new at this (or new here) and you will get better. Importantly, you realize that this is what others are thinking. Suddenly, the enormous pressure of trying to be a star from the first day disappears.

Over the past 20 years, Rollag has interviewed a wide variety of newcomers in a wide variety of situations both in the workplace and outside of the workplace. What to Do When You’re New is built on real-world experiences and research and offers readers a practical guide to succeeding as a newcomer.

Tips for Telling Compelling Stories When Training Leaders

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim, continuing from last week’s blog on telling stories.

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do.  Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …”  She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the   consequences of her decision over the years. When she was done, she paused and waited.  After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said:  “Got it.  Thanks.”  He stood up and left the room, even though Stephanie hadn’t directly answered his question.

Throughout history and across cultures, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression to communicate foundational life lessons.   If you read the Greek philosophers, the wisdom literature from Asia, and the literature across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life – the “authors” used stories grounded in daily life rather than just stating the principle (or making lists of them, as most business books and articles do today.)

Tips for Telling Stories

Some people are natural storytellers – they just “do it”.  People listen to them, laugh, and enjoy hearing their stories.  For the rest of us, we need to work at it a bit.  Otherwise, our stories seem to fall flat with little impact on our listeners and sometimes there is just an awkward silence when we finish.  So here are some tips for learning to tell effective stories.

Where to Get Your Stories.  There are several sources for stories but the best one is your life.   You’ve gone through some situations that were challenging, hair-raising, and funny.  You were there so it is easy for you to remember. Some personal experiences and the stories that flow from that have to do with direct life experience.  You were there, felt the feelings, know what the dangers were, and how you felt when you got through the situation.  Other experiences are more indirect.  You were there but it was someone else going through the situation and you watched what happened (think about your parents while you were growing up, situations with your children, trips with friends).

A second treasure trove of stories are those told by others. This can include stories told by friends and family, stories told by authors in books, or the situations created and demonstrated in movies and TV shows. (By the way, movies are the modern cultural equivalent of orally told stories in past cultures.) YouTube videos also provide good visual short stories.  Note that trying to retell a story you’ve heard told by a friend can be difficult to tell effectively to others (especially if you only heard it once).

Practical Suggestions.  When telling a story, start by giving the context and setting (the “set up”) for what happens in the story is critical.  Some people start into a story without giving the listeners any clues either that they are telling a story or what the overall context is.  Next, share the main character’s perspective on what is going on – how did they see the situation?  What were they feeling?  This heightens the interest and energy level.  Then, make sure you get the sequence right. Not much “kills” a story more quickly than the storyteller having to go back and correct themselves (‘No, that’s not right.”) about what happened and when.  Clearly describing the challenge or dilemma (along with the person’s feeling response) is the next critical step.  Make sure your listeners know what the problem is that the character is facing, and their emotional response to the situation.  Tell what decision was made or the action chosen and then describe the result and its on impact you and the others in the situation.  Sometimes listeners “miss” an important part of the story or the context and need to be told exactly what happened and why it was important.  If needed, tell the lesson you learned.  In many stories, this is obvious, but sometimes the lesson you learned is important to delineate.

We all have interesting stories to tell. Sometimes we just need to stop and reflect, and then think about the best way to share the story in a way that will connect emotionally with others.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time


After participating in a leadership program, a slightly inebriated participant approached Stanford Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer and berated him for not being inspirational. For Pfeffer, who has written numerous books on leadership, the comment hits at the core of what is wrong with leadership training and consulting today. People want the wrong things, consultants are happy to give it to them and nothing is working.

Pfeffer signals the tone of his new book with its title: Leadership BS.  The leadership industry is a massive and lucrative industry involving books, articles, speeches and consulting contracts, keeping many people busy … and wealthy. The problem, according to Pfeffer, is that after thousands of books and speeches by hundreds of consultants and other leadership experts, our leaders are not getting any better, and our employees are not getting any happier. Many leaders are still being fired after failing to achieve their goals. Many employees want nothing more than to get away from their bosses and supervisors.

If leaders aren’t getting better, one major reason is that, as exemplified by the seminar participant above, the industry is focused on pushing inspirational leadership instead of making a scientific effort to find out what really works. Pushing inspiration, writes Pfeffer, does not work, and any attempt to measure the results of inspirational leadership training would demonstrate that fact clearly.

However, the problem is that there is no real measurement of leadership training and consulting. When a consultant develops a fancy seminar on leadership, how does he or she know whether it was successful? Not by developing a rigorous metric for measuring workplace results by participants. Instead, the measurement for whether a leadership seminar has been successful is based on asking participants if they liked it.

Another major problem that Pfeffer sees with the leadership industry is the low barrier to entry. Any person, with or without serious credentials, can start a blog, write a book or give speeches on leadership. In fact, according to Pfeffer, many so-called leadership experts have never been in a leadership position, or have been in a leadership position and failed, or are proponents of a leadership style that is very different from the way they behaved when they were in leadership positions.

The leadership industry is also saddled with a paradox that most people ignore: What is good for the company may not be good for the leader, and vice-versa.


By laying out some of the major problems with today’s leadership industry, Pfeffer also sets up some solutions, such as more attention to metrics and accountability, more attention to credentials and acknowledging the different interests of leaders and their companies.This is only the beginning, however.

After thoroughly scorching the usual suspects of leadership prescriptions — including inspiration, modesty, authenticity, trust and servant leadership — Pfeffer summarizes in this provocative, must-read book the way to fix leadership, with a twist on a famous movie line: “You can handle the truth.” If we want the best leaders running our companies and organizations, then it’s time, writes Pfeffer, to face “the reality of organizational life.” Forget what should be, and focus on what is. Pay attention to actions, not words. Acknowledge that “there are occasions when you have to do bad things to achieve good results.” Recognize that one size does not fit all.

The Connection Between Culture and Performance

In Primed to Perform, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor explain the counter-intuitive science behind great cultures, building on over a century of academic thinking. They share the simple, highly predictive new measurement tool—the total motivation (ToMo) Factor—that enables you to measure the strength of your culture, and track improvements over time. The authors’ original research demonstrates how total motivation leads to higher performance in iconic companies, from Apple to Starbucks to Southwest Airlines. Most importantly, they teach you to build great cultures, using a systematic and sustainable approach.

High performing cultures can’t be left to chance. Organizations must create systems that shape and maintain them. Whether you’re a five-person team or a startup, a school, a nonprofit or a mega-institution, Primed to Perform shows you how.

Here is how Doshi and McGregor connect the dots between culture and performance:

  1. What is performance at its best?

There are two types of performance, both important yet mutually opposed. Most organizations manage tactical performance—the ability to execute the plan. We’ve all seen performance dashboards and rubrics tracking easy-to-measure outcomes. But adaptive performance—the ability to diverge from a plan—is just as important but much harder to understand and measure, until now.

Organizations must balance tactical with adaptive performance to reach the highest levels of customer experience, innovation, ethics and sales.

  1. What is the psychology of high performance?

To build a high performing culture you must first understand what drives peak performance in individuals. The answer sounds deceptively simple: why you work determines how well you work.

There are six basic reasons why people work—and they aren’t created equal. Play, purpose, and potential strengthen adaptive performance while emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia weaken it. In environments that maximize the first three and minimize the last three, individuals exhibit those hard-to-measure but highly coveted adaptive traits of creativity, problem-solving, persistence and collaboration. This phenomenon is what we call total motivation, or ToMo for short.

  1. How does culture drive that psychology?

The highest performing cultures build upon the psychology of total motivation. They train leaders, design jobs, shape performance management systems, and structure their teams to enhance play, purpose, and potential and eliminate emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. The result: higher sales, more loyal customers, and more passionate employees.

Soundview has arranged a special FREE webinar with Neel and Lindsay for you to hear more about this culture of high performance, and to ask your questions about how this concept can be applied in your organization. Join us on November 3rd for How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures.

A Power Tool for Creative Thinking

thefourlensesofinnovationEver wonder where big, breakthrough ideas come from? How do innovators manage to spot the opportunities for industry revolution that everyone else seems to miss? Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not some mystical art that’s forbidden to mere mortals. The Four Lenses of Innovation thoroughly debunks this pervasive myth by delivering what we’ve long been hoping for: the news that innovation is systematic, it’s methodical and we can all achieve it.

By asking how the world’s top innovators came up with their game-changing ideas, best-selling author Rowan Gibson identifies four key business perspectives that will enable you to discover groundbreaking opportunities for innovation and growth: Challenging Orthodoxies, Harnessing Trends, Leveraging Resources and Understanding Needs.

Other books promise the keys to innovation — this one delivers them. With thought-provoking examples and features like the Eight-Step Model for Building a Breakthrough, The Four Lenses of Innovation will teach you how to reverse-engineer creative genius and make radical business innovation an everyday reality inside your organization.


• How innovators from the Renaissance through the present have used the Four Lenses of Innovation.

• Why patterns are fundamental to innovation.

• The skills required for seeing the future in the present.

• The difference between insights and ideas.

• To apply the Four Lenses systematically to your organization.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.



How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards created the music of the Rolling Stones. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack built Apple. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe brought us iconic musicals, including Camelot and My Fair Lady. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were America’s most popular movie critics. All of these famously productive partnerships had one thing in common: They brought together an introvert and an extrovert.

The common wisdom is that introverts and extroverts do not work well together. The common wisdom, as author Jennifer Kahnweiler makes clear in her new book, The Genius of Opposites, is absolutely correct in the sense that the collaboration is often going to be contentious and difficult, filled with battles and miscommunications and sometimes deliberate sabotage. Somehow, however, the introvert/extrovert partnerships such as those cited above, as well as the many unknown partnerships that fill Kahnweiler’s book, produced extraordinary results. The key to such success, according to Kahnweiler, is the five-step process at the heart of her book.

The ABCDEs of Collaboration

The first step, Kahnweiler argues, is to accept the alien. If introverted and extroverted people want to partner, they have to realize that they will never change the personality of the other person. Instead, each partner has to make a conscious effort to understand the other.

The second step is to bring on the battle. Kahnweiler explains that battles don’t have to be avoided (unless, of course, they destroy the partnership). Instead, they can be the means through which each partner is challenged by the other, resulting in solutions that are better than those that might have been developed individually.

The third of Kahnweiler’s steps is to cast the character. Because there are two very different personalities in the partnership, partners should take on the roles that best fit their unique personalities.

Kahnweiler’s fourth step is to destroy the dislike. It’s easy for two people with such clashing personalities to develop deep animosity toward each other. They must work, instead, on learning to respect and like each other as much as possible.

The fifth and final step is that each can’t offer everything. Introvert/extrovert consulting partnerships are often powerful because neither partner could offer clients all they want — but the two partners working together are able to present a much more diverse but complementary product or service.

For each step of her ABCDE methodology, Kahnweiler covers why that particular step is important, the pitfalls that can break down the step and the solutions that ensure success. Bring on the battles, for example, is important because the energy and creativity that emerge from constructive conflicts are best for the organization and lead to better solutions. Also, Kahnweiler writes, a major conflict can actually be a turning point in the relationship, paving the way to a productive collaboration.

Kahnweiler warns, however, that battles can also deal fatal blows to introvert/extrovert collaboration, for example, if one partner considers him- or herself more important. Hiding your concerns is another way that battles can be fatal, according to Kahnweiler. If partners don’t bring out the “elephant in the room,” the result — passive-aggressive behavior from the extrovert and internalized resentment from the introvert — can eventually destroy the partnership.

Battles can be productive, however, with a little work from each partner. Clear communication, bringing in a third party to break through an impasse and taking time-outs will help conflicts from degenerating.

Kahnweiler doesn’t gloss over the difficulties in making extrovert/introvert partnerships work. The Genius of Opposites is filled with stories of conflicts, most resolved through an effort at communication and a foundation of respect. Not all stories have a happy ending. Kahnweiler reports that in his memoir, Lerner believes he and his partner Loewe could have written more wonderful musicals if they could have gotten along. “In the end we were a little like the couple being discussed in one of Noel Coward’s plays. ‘Do they fight?,’ says one. ‘Oh, no, said the other. They’re much too unhappy to fight.”

The Genius of Opposites is an important manual for partners with clashing personalities who never want to become too unhappy to fight.

Counter-Sabotage in the Workplace

In 1944, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—the predecessor of today’s CIA—issued the Simple Sabotage Field Manual, detailing sabotage techniques designed to demoralize the enemy. One section focused on eight incredibly subtle—and devastatingly destructive—tactics for sabotaging the decision-making processes of organizations. While the manual was written decades ago, these sabotage tactics lurk undetected in organizations today. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Insist on doing everything through channels.
  • Make speeches. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length.
  • Refer all matters to committees.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications.
  • Refer back to matters already decided upon and attempt to question the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate caution and urge fellow-conferees to avoid haste that might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • Be worried about the propriety of any decision.

Everyone has been faced with someone who has used these tactics, even when they have meant well. Bob Frisch, co-author of Simple Sabotage, provides proven strategies and techniques for counter-sabotage measures to detect and reduce the impact of these eight classic sabotage tactics, to improve productivity, spur creativity, and engender better collegial relationships.

If you’re dealing with sabotage in your company or department, you’ll want to join Bob Frisch and Soundview on October 29th for our Soundview Live webinar, How to Neutralize the Behaviors that Undermine Your Workplace.