Planning Doesn’t Have to Be the Enemy of Agile
"In an agile organization, teams use design thinking and other exploratory techniques (plus data) to make rapid decisions and change the course on a weekly basis. Decision making is done by a team of people, offsetting in this way the potential biases of a single person making a decision based on her individual judgement."
"Design thinking - as a social technology - has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes."
"What most organizations typically overlook is the internal shift — what people think and feel — which has to occur in order to bring the strategy to life."
"Everything that has done so much to connect us has simultaneously isolated us. We are so busy being distracted that we are forgetting to tend to ourselves, which is consequently making us feel more and more alone."
"Simple answers make us feel safer, especially in disruptive and tumultuous times. But rather than certainty, modern leaders need to consciously cultivate the capacity to see more — to deepen, widen, and lengthen their perspectives."
"Creativity also needs madness and a fair bit of chaos. Process is all about control. One of the strangest phrases in the English language is ‘the creative process.’ In essence, they are opposing forces. Control and chaos."
"Digital is not just a thing that you can you can buy and plug into the organization. It is multi-faceted and doesn’t just involve technology. Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business. It requires foundational investments in skills, projects, infrastructure, and, often, in cleaning up IT systems. It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails. It also requires continuous monitoring and intervention, from the top, to ensure that both digital leaders and non-digital leaders are making good decisions about their transformation efforts."
"We then took a closer look at 'CEO sprinters' — those who reached the CEO role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job. We discovered a striking finding: Sprinters don’t accelerate to the top by acquiring the perfect pedigree. They do it by making bold career moves over the course of their career that catapult them to the top. We found that three types of career catapults were most common among the sprinters."
"The rise of the user experience as a key competitive differentiator has led to the growing importance of design thinking in the last few years."
"Of course, without data and the personalized recommendations it produces, an explosion of content could create a tyranny of choices, where users struggle to pick the flavor they want. But when you add data into the mix, consumers are more likely to get content they love that is geared to their tastes. Even if each show has fewer people who like it, each viewer is getting a better overall experience. Consumers may come to view Netflix and other data-driven entertainment platforms not only as content producers, like any other television network, but also as skilled matchmakers that can bring them exactly what they want — and whose matchmaking will only get better as technology advances."
"Strategic planning is a journey, not a project. Plans require on-going adjustment."
"Many business leaders don’t understand that brands should have objectives beyond the business. In fact, many business people mistake reputation for brand. When they say 'I have a strong brand,' they really mean 'I have a good reputation.' A strong brand is an emotional bond with -- and belief in -- a company based on its passion, expertise, customer-commitment, and higher purpose."
"Effective change (and ultimately, true innovation) starts with understanding people and making the investments, digital and human, to close the gap between what is, what will be, and what was."
"At first glance, boredom and brilliance are completely at odds with each other. Boredom, if defined just as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest, overwhelmingly has negative connotations and should be avoided at all costs, whereas brilliance is something we aspire to—a quality of striking success and unusual mental ability. Genius, intellect, talent, air versus languidness, dullness, doldrums. It’s not immediately apparent, but these two opposing states are in fact intimately connected."
"People who say yes to everything have a lot of speed. They're always doing stuff but never getting anything done. Why? Because they don't think in terms of velocity."
"Perfection is an impossible goal. Those who become preoccupied with it inevitably set themselves up for failure and psychological turmoil."
"Top performers master selectivity ... Whenever they can, they carefully selected which priorities, tasks, meetings, customers, ideas or steps to undertake and which to let go. They then apply intense, targeted effort on those few priorities in order to excel."
"What happens to our minds when we allow a single tool such dominion over our perception and cognition?"
"We live in an era of previously unimaginable luxury. Without leaving our sofas, we can conjure almost any book or film on our phone and enjoy it with exotic cuisine delivered right to our doorstep via an app. But there is a cost to this convenience that doesn’t appear on your credit-card statement. Our indoor, sedentary and socially isolated lives leave us vulnerable to depression. The U.S., the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, is also the most depressed: Three in 10 Americans will battle depressive illness at some point in their lives, an estimated tenfold increase since World War II."
"Every year, I find myself in awe at how much I have changed, how much I have learned, and how little I know. It’s humbling in the best of ways."
"The more we talk about features and functions, the further we are apt to stray from what we're trying to accomplish in the first place. We distract ourselves with concerns about process, scale and cost, and end up building things for companies and departments, not for the people who work in them. We forget our priorities—as business leaders, builders, creators and inhabitants of this world—to place humans at the center of our problem-solving and let technology enable that process, not define it."
"Great performance requires great strategy and great execution, but poor execution is often used as an excuse for flawed strategy."
"Friction is anything that gets in the way of a customer and a task. Put another way, it’s any obstacle that prevents a user from trying or using a product or service."
"When retail brands no longer help users narrow product options, much of the burden of decision-making shifts back to the user."
"Strategy as learning is an executive activity characterized by ongoing cycles of testing and adjusting, fueled by data that can only be obtained through execution."
"If cognitive diversity is what we need to succeed in dealing with new, uncertain, and complex situations, we need to encourage people to reveal and deploy their different modes of thinking. We need to make it safe to try things multiple ways."
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once said, “If we can keep our competitors focused on us while we stay focused on the customer, ultimately we’ll turn out all right.” I take this one step further: If you can stay focused on eliminating the obstacles along your customers’ journeys, your company will turn out much more than all right.
What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?”
"If you want to go far, borrow the mindset known in Zen Buddhism as shoshin, or learner's mind. That means you don't pretend to know it all but are open to learning and growth and development, with a mind that's fresh and enthusiastic and free of bias."
"The benefits of contemplation through narrative offer another story ... reading creates new white matter in the brain, which improves system-wide communication. White matter carries information between regions of grey matter, where any information is processed. Not only does reading increase white matter, it helps information be processed more efficiently."
"If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the 'undisciplined pursuit of more,' then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less."
"The single most important thing a boss can do, Scott has learned, is focus on guidance: giving it, receiving it, and encouraging it. Guidance, which is fundamentally just praise and criticism, is usually called “feedback,” but feedback is screechy and makes us want to put our hands over our ears. Guidance is something most of us long for."
"An industry becomes susceptible to disruption when it becomes entrenched in its longstanding solutions and financial structure. Disruptive innovations provide simpler or more elegant solutions to existing problems, enabled by new technology and often at a lower cost."
"If it’s normal, it’s average. If it’s average, it’s probably closer to mediocre than you really want to be."
"Businesses today are constantly generating enormous amounts of data, but that doesn’t always translate to actionable information."
"You are not the work you do; you are the person you are."
"The best thinking comes from structured reflection."
"The best way to get attention is to say that everything has changed – and, conveniently, that you have the best solution in response."
How do Google, Facebook and IDEO jumpstart the process that leads to innovation? Often by using the same three words: "How Might We."
"The big-data revolution has reinforced the belief that all business decisions should be reached through scientific analysis. But this approach has its limits, and it tends to narrow strategic options and hinder innovation."
"It’s funny to realize, after envying Wallace’s brain so much, that he frequently didn’t like having such a singular device. He didn’t like being a genius, so he treasured what wasn’t."
"Almost every major retailer, from grocery chains to investment banks to the U.S. Postal Service, has a predictive analytics department devoted to understanding not just consumers’ shopping habits but also their personal habits, so as to more efficiently market to them."
"These are the books that you’ll keep coming back to, over and over, through your career."
"When you have a really tough problem, it often helps to expand skill domains beyond specialists in a single field. Many believe it is just these kinds of unlikely combinations that are key to coming up with breakthroughs."
"A reader recently wrote to me, 'If it can’t be used for evil, it’s not a superpower.' He’s right. And under this definition, habit design is indeed a super power."
"Effective creativity—the kind that drives growth and business performance—comes from “working the problem” and having in place disciplined management practices that can foster sparks of insight and then shepherding them into tangible business outcomes."