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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    innovation

    The World’s Most Admired Company Is…

    According to Fortune’s 2016 report of The World’s Most Admired Companies, which surveyed over 4,000 executives, directors, analysts and business insiders; Apple again commands the top spot on their list, for the 9th consecutive year! It’s followed closely by Alphabet (Google), and Amazon. With a track record like that, we’ve got to understand the ingredients to their success.

    First, it’s important to know that the attributes used to determine this ranking include quality of products, quality of management, innovation, long term investment value, talent attraction, financial soundness, corporate asset use, social responsibility, and global business. A well rounded set of criteria that considers all facets of the business.

    Photo from Fortune

    Photo from Fortune

    Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by Adam Lashinsky to get his take on their phenomenal achievement, as well as how they’re handling criticism of recent fiscal first quarter performance, which was strong, but missed investors’ revenue expectations. His response provides several tips as a good reminder for leaders in any organization.

    1. Block out the noise.  

    Analysts, media, shareholders, and others will always have some comment or critique about your products or services, but be selective about who you’re listening to. You can’t react to every question or criticism. You can’t be all things to all people. A prime example is their recent issue with the U.S. government on providing access to encrypted information on an iPhone. Whether you agree with Apple’s position in this situation or not, overall, you must evaluate every option and potential product or service based on the next point.

    1. Focus on your mission and vision.

    Cook talked about staying focused on “making the best products that really help people enrich their lives in some way.” So do your mission and vision inspire and excite employees and customers? Does your product or service continue to align with your purpose and the areas where you’ve been successful? Or does your company get distracted by what I like to call shiny objects alongside the road. You know, getting caught up in the latest trend, trying to do what other companies are doing, or letting financial goals be the primary driver to all decisions. Which leads to point three.

    1. Identify balanced metrics

    Cook says he’s driven by the data that shows his customers are happy.  And while recent sales didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, they still sold 74 million iPhones at a profit of $18 billion. The temptation to chase profits is HUGE, but most businesses need to take the long view and invest in their future, build a strong internal and external brand, and be known for the quality of their products and services; along with maximizing performance in the immediate term.  What metrics best reflect your organization’s goals, market positioning, customer and employee needs?

    1. Explore the possibilities

    Apple has a primary focus on innovation and is widely rumored to be working on a car project. While Cook would neither confirm nor deny that, he did admit that the DNA of the company includes curiosity around a variety of product options that align with their mission, and deliberately selecting a few to pursue. Their cash position makes this easy of course. But they approach it from a perspective of exploring technologies and different ways to use them to align with the focus on making great products that help people.

    How Can You Become Most Admired?

    So your company or team may not be quite as big as the 1,500 that were considered for this top 50 list. But you can still be greatly admired by colleagues in your industry, geography, or organization. Consider the following questions.

    • What are you doing to ensure you are a great place to work, and have the best talent for an organization of your size, geography and industry?
    • Do you have the right management team to lead you to the next level, or are you prioritizing loyalty, mediocrity, or family members above talent?
    • How are you ensuring high quality products and services?
    • How does your organization leverage its head, hands, and heart to support social causes?
    • What is the global impact of your products and services?
    • How are you innovating? What are you exploring that will make a substantial difference in your business or its operations?
    • Are you making decisions that will ensure the financial stability of your organization?
    • How are you managing and maximizing your corporate assets?
    • What are you doing that would make others want to invest in you and your organization?

    Addressing the items on this list may be a challenge for some organizations, but doing so is a reflection of implementing a level of organizational discipline necessary for success. And success is what is most admired.

    ***

    Korn Ferry was Fortune’s survey partner for this project.

    To read the interview of Tim Cook, go to http://fortune.com/tim-cook-apple-q-and-a/

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    10 Key Questions for Leaders – Part 2

    Leaders are faced with a myriad of issues each day, but one of their most critical responsibilities is to step back from the urgent and focus on the important. They must achieve a balance between the reactionary crisis mode and the proactive planning mode. This means pausing and reflecting on how they’re influencing behaviors to ensure the right outcomes. To accomplish that, there are 10 key important questions that, properly addressed, will strengthen both their leadership and their organizational effectiveness.

    10 Key Questions - Pt 1XI posted the first 5 questions in Part 1 several weeks ago on this blog. Here are the last 5 questions.

     

    1. Engagement. How do you engage your team in what you’re trying to accomplish? Engagement is based on an emotional connection that energizes those involved to work toward a common goal. Competitive rowing teams, known as “sculling in crew” require all rowers to move in exact cadence with the leader for an efficient stroke. The leader is responsible for steering the boat, encouraging the crew and monitoring the rate of progress. Everyone knows their role and knows who to follow, and engagement is an important key to winning. Contrast this with a scenario where everyone is rowing at their own pace. They’re working at it, and they’ll make progress, but not nearly as fast because their behaviors aren’t aligned. Similarly, as the leader you must ensure that your team clearly understands the goal and that their efforts are coordinated, collaborative, and complimentary. This means making sure they buy into why the goal is important, and contribute their ideas on how to best accomplish it.
    2. Innovation. Are you creating an environment that encourages new thinking? Innovation involves taking existing ideas, processes or products and combining them in new and different ways to meet customer or market needs. For example, electric vehicles are innovative. Some companies have innovation labs, or innovation hours (i.e. hackathons), but this approach ultimately needs to be embedded in the culture of the organization. New ideas must be nurtured and encouraged. Carl Winans, Co-Founder of Mega Tiny Corporation asked a good question at a conference I attended recently. “Are you creating or merely consuming?” In other words, do you just take in information and knowledge and use it, or do you integrate it to provide new and different output that is beneficial to others? Leaders’ interactions with employees should incorporate discussions on innovative topics, soliciting ideas, encouraging them to investigate the potential for success, and when appropriate, giving them a leadership role in operationalizing their ideas. This rewards innovation and reinforces the skills requisite for success.
    3. Power. Do people follow you because of your power and position, or because you empower them? If you were no longer CEO, VP, or holding your current leadership position, who among your team would still want to follow you? John Maxwell’s book The 5 Levels of Leadership explains that at level 1, people follow you because they have to. But as you move to level 5, people follow you because of who you are and what you represent. You only have power over others to the extent that they grant it to you, whether through an employment relationship, or because you meet a financial, emotional, social, psychological or physical need. Once you cease to fulfill that need, or they find someone else to fulfill it, you become effectively powerless. On the other hand, as a leader you can empower others, or give power to them, by providing them with responsibility, enabling them to do something, or equipping them to accomplish a challenge. Giving power to others generates a virtuous cycle of enabling, growth, commitment and engagement.
    4. Performance. What is the correlation between your effort and your outcomes? This is a sensitive issue, because all leaders like to believe that they’re exceeding the expectations of the individuals or groups to whom they’re accountable (and we’re all accountable to someone). But there are enough situations where no matter how intellectually capable or strategic the leader, their best efforts don’t move the needle forward as much as is needed or expected. Is their skillset incomplete? Is the internal business challenge too great? Are there insurmountable external economic or market forces that can’t be overcome? Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo in 2012 amid great fanfare about how she could turn the struggling company around. Three years later, the company has had to scrap its plans to spin off its extremely valuable stake in Alibaba Group Holding, and the market is currently valuing Yahoo’s core business at less than its cash on hand. While Mayer has upgraded content and worked to boost mobile revenues, some are publicly wondering how much longer the 6th CEO in 8 years will last. Opinions vary on how to return Yahoo to success, but the performance question is one that every leader grapples with at some point. And if the effort is not producing the right outcomes, it may be time to find a new opportunity where the leader’s contributions will align with strong results.
    5. Change Leadership. Are you leading your organization to be nimble, flexible and open to change? Change doesn’t happen unless the leader makes it a priority. Nikesh Arora, formerly responsible for all of Google’s revenue ($29B), and currently CEO-in-waiting at SoftBank Group of Japan, demonstrated this when he was first hired to run Google’s European operations in 2004. He doubled his initial 5-year revenue projection for the region, and created the analytical tools that were eventually implemented to track the financial condition of the global business. He’s known not to suffer fools, but his enemies respect him. Instead of changing his leadership style to fit into the company, Arora shrewdly changed the leadership perspective to mirror his own. He tells entrepreneurs “Anytime you can predict your trajectory, you should change it.” Change leaders don’t wait for external forces to drive internal business strategies. They anticipate the market, technologies, economy and customer needs; develop a flexible framework and goals for the future; then ensure that the right processes, strategies, technologies, and tools are in place to get there. Change leaders hold their organization accountable for results.

    Continue reading

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    Ideation Space

    Cheng-Yung Kuo Photography / Courtesy Ideation Studio

    Cheng-Yung Kuo Photography / Courtesy Ideation Studio

    Ideation space. The optimal environment where you form ideas or thoughts, where dreams crystalize, desires are birthed, problems are solved, and creativity blossoms. A place where your senses are heightened as you connect deeply with your inner motivations and interests, and block out external distractions. Purposefully spending time in this space requires disconnecting from the daily demands of the urgent and immediate, to connect with the important and meaningful. It involves moving from the emotions of the moment, to reflecting on the underlying values and beliefs that govern your life. Time spent in your ideation space can rejuvenate you to become more productive, focused, and innovative. Continue reading

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    Find A Strength

    Photo of Palmer Luckey courtesy of Wikipedia

    Photo of Palmer Luckey courtesy of Wikipedia

    Palmer is very luckey.  Really.  His last name is Luckey. At the age of 22, he’s also one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30, and founder of Oculus VR. His company is developing virtual reality technology and was recently purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, even though the product is still in prototype stage and not making any money yet.  Luckey’s goal is to make virtual reality affordable for mass market consumption and to integrate it into our everyday lives. Mark Zuckerberg is obviously a believer and thinks it will become a mode of communication with a magnitude similar to television or telephones. With a net worth of $500 million Palmer is the youngest self-made multi-millionaire. Continue reading

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    From Irritation to Innovation

    Elizabeth Holmes hates needles.  To her, the idea of being poked by a needle and withdrawing blood is more than just unpleasant.  When she knows that she has to give blood, she becomes consumed and overcome with the thought until it’s finally over.

    So it should be no surprise that at age 19 she founded Theranos, a ground-breaking blood diagnostics company that 11 years later is worth more than $9 billion. The company has patented its secret technology of performing 200 different blood tests (soon growing to over 1,000 different tests) without using a syringe.  They use a few drops of blood drawn using a finger stick to minimize discomfort, and collected in a “nanotainer”; a container the size of an electric fuse. Her board is stocked with powerful blue chip members including former cabinet secretaries, former U.S. senators and former military brass. Theranos’ innovative technology is poised to transform health care technology at no more than half the cost of similar tests using current technology.

    Holmes leveraged a process that irritated her to innovate a new method of getting it done.

    ??????????????????Productive Dissatisfaction

    Tony Fadell was building a vacation home for his family.  One of the seemingly mundane decisions was selecting thermostats, but he wasn’t satisfied with his choices. So he developed the Nest Learning Thermostat, a digital and WiFi enabled device that conserves energy by learning its owners’ habits. He also designed the Nest Protect which uses new technology to detect smoke and carbon monoxide.

    Fadell’s real goal is to use technology to redesign and control all technology in the home.  He was successful in raising startup capital as a result of his Apple pedigree, and extensive connections in Silicon Valley. He previously led the team that created the iPod, thereby rejuvenating Apple and transforming the music industry (yes, I love iTunes), and assisted in the development of the iPhone. Fadell left Apple in 2008 (along with his wife who was an HR executive there) and his thermostat irritation became the epiphany to innovate his next career move. As evidence of his success, Nest was purchased by Google earlier this year for $3.2 billion.


    Innovation Mindset

    Holmes and Fadell were irritated by processes and technology that others accepted as status quo. Obviously this wasn’t just a minor irritation either. Most of us would have dismissed it, avoided it, complained a bit while it was on our minds, then moved on to what we believed were more important things. We would think that change wasn’t needed, or that technology couldn’t effectively be applied to it and scaled for use. Instead, they saw it as a challenge and took the opportunity to do something about it. They had a mindset for innovation that they applied to their environment.

    At the time, Holmes was a sophomore at Stanford, and according to her chemical engineering professor, viewed complex technical problems differently than other students.  She dropped out shortly thereafter and persuaded her parents to invest her education fund into the business start-up.

    Fadell’s tenure at Apple was distinguished by asking lots of questions, challenging Steve Jobs, and building his network in the “valley” outside the company; something normally reserved for Jobs himself. He didn’t conform to the typical concept of the Apple executive.

    The Key to Innovation

    So what is the key to your innovation?  What is it that irritates you, but you find it difficult to simply walk away or ignore it. Instead, you keep trying to figure it out. This may be your opportunity to move from irritation to innovation; to find new approaches to address old ways of doing things. Though Holmes and Fadell applied innovation on a large scale, you can easily do this within a smaller sphere of influence; in your work team, organization, community group or family. Here are a few simple steps.

    1. Tap into what’s irritating you.  What problem needs to be solved? Chances are it’s right in front of you.
    2. Find the benefit. Who will it add value to? Identifying your stakeholders will help you to target what action to take, and encourage you to stick with it for their benefit.
    3. Ignore the naysayers. What do you believe is possible? If you don’t have faith in yourself, no one else will either.
    4. Identify all the assumptions associated with the status quo. Why do people do it this way? Calling them out individually helps to break the innovation opportunity down into workable sizes for better analysis.
    5. Methodically challenge each assumption. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?  By the time you’ve asked “why” five times, you’ll uncover some suppositions that really don’t have a strong foundation.
    6. Think of a new approach. What if we did it this way instead?  Then think of another different approach.  This practice gets you into the mode of change.

    If you’re really irritated, true innovation will typically involve transformation, not evolution. It will yield a totally unexpected outcome that represents a leap ahead, not just a step forward.  So embrace that impatience and exasperation with the current situation, and press forward to a new mindset of innovation.

    Read the articles on Elizabeth Holmes and Tony Fadell in the June 12, 2014 issue of Fortune.

    Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

     

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