Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Four Imperitives of Business Leadership

In the model "A Vision of Leadership" (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation), I named as values lead, follow, implement and innovate. I now recognize them as "super values" or imperatives. If anyone is leading a business or part of one or leading a project these are absolutely necessary.

Throughout I will use the word enterprise, to describe a business or project or any human undertaking.

Implement: This is what we must be done to meet the expectations of existing internal and external customers.
Innovate: This is what must be done to satisfy the (anticipated) expectations of returning or new internal and external customers.

If one implements and innovates it is possible to sustain an enterprise. The leadership practice that supports or is derived from the imperatives to implement and innovate is sustaining. Every action or decision a leader takes must stand up to the test, "does it sustain the enterprise?" Taking an organic analogy, does it sustain the life-force to the enterprise? Is it nourishing, nurturing, vitalizing?

Earlier I proposed realizing, making real . . . .

The other imperatives

Two Months of The Leader-Follower

In thirty posts over two months I have described and illustrated "A Vision of Leadership," an original, interactive, multidimensional leadership model.

I'm not sure where to take this blog next but I am considering comparing other leadership models to this one, hopefully stimulating exchanges about what has and has not worked in our lives.

I'm taking a break now.

Happy Holidays!

Features of the Leadership Model

This is the index to a series of posts about the fourteen features of the proposed model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation). I am still very much open to comments about the proposal and to modifying it as necessary.

The model is driven by two pairs of values that are often perceived as competing: lead and follow, implement and innovate. The index follows the order of posting. Each model feature is italicized in the post title.



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Monday, December 12, 2005

Using the Model Viewer

Leadership has never been a simple subject. It is complex because many of the qualities that describe it are related in ways that are not always obvious. We found we could penetrate this complexity with a tetrahedral model. When you read a piece like the one below you may find it helpful to open A Vision of Leadership from the link on the right in a separate window. Select any aspect of leadership to open the viewer, close the large window and position the viewer alongside the blog. (Actually, you can keep it open for reference any time.) Manipulate the position of the tetrahedron to reveal relationships among the qualities of leadership that are not so easily described visually with two dimensional illustrations.

Note added 1/10/06.
Since this post I have found it preferable to eliminate popup windows. Now all windows are the same size and for greater clarity, the "viewer" is extended to include the description of the model feature that has been selected.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Which Apprentice Candidate Will Best Handle a Crisis?

The interlude between two episodes of the final round provides an unusual opportunity to look at project leadership during a project before the competition's outcome is known. We don't really know how each team is doing according to whatever implementation plans they decided except that each leader now faces a crisis. Bad weather can shut down Randall's charity ball game and Rebecca has lost the star attraction to her charity comedy show. What we have seen are vignettes of project manager behavior and this is how some of those look through the lens of A Vision of Leadership.

Visualization. Each project leader has in his/her mind some visualization of the desired project outcome that is a basis for directing their staff. We did not see project managers sharing or developing their visualization with their team and instead they move straight into delegating responsibilities. This requires total trust by the following team members that the PM has all the wisdom, insight, experience and competence necessary formulate how the task will be best accomplished in all its aspects.

Follow is opposite visualization in the tetrahedral model. This means that if you don't share a leader's visualization, you cannot place your actions into the context visualized by the person you are following - you follow blindly. This is well illustrated by Mark who was quite disturbed that Randall wanted him at the gift store and not working with the ball game's color commentator and, again, when he was left on his own erecting important facilities and signs. Mark said nothing to Randall.

Respecting. What's really happening? Mark could explain to Randall how he was prioritizing his time but, apparently, he has insufficient respect for his own potential to lead Randall. Meanwhile Randall is not respecting Mark when he countermands his earlier direction without checking the impact upon Mark's activities and later, leaves Mark alone conducting a major task without checking with him about how he is doing. Together they are an ineffective organization and they do not collaborate.

Structuring. Structuring emerges from the desires to lead and to implement. In the case of Mark, Randall's structuring of his organization and even his structuring of his visualization of how things will come together are called into question.

Responding. The outcomes of collaboration and contribution require a leader to be responsive, a practice that supports their commitments to innovate and follow. Randall appeared non-responsive to the representative of his charity and the significance she gave to the message about the high incidence of pediatric AIDS. The same was true when the ball park's owner twice raised the issue of bad weather to Randall and later emphasized how he was an important stakeholder in the project. Randall's capacity to collaborate and contribute in this project are now in question.

Rebecca at least acknowledged that there would be no purple food for the VIPs at her comedy show. However, it was not obvious that she respected and responded to two other comments from her corporate sponsor. The first was when they explained they had no experience in supporting charitable fundraising (although one executive later replied to Toral's specific question about direct solicitations), and the second was when they questioned the adequacy of three bartenders serving 150 people.

Improvising. Each team faces a crisis that shatters their leader's original visualization of how their event will be constructed and conducted. The outcome of each event and each team's performance is now likely to be judged according to how well they improvise in these crises. The practice of improvisation derives its strength from commitments to lead and to innovate and supports the outcomes of visualization and collaboration.

I recall Rebecca dependably improvising under pressure but have no similar memory of Randall. To the contrary, it was Donald Trump who formulated a way for him to go to his grandmother's funeral while continuing the interview process. Rebecca continued the interview despite a broken ankle, she prepared and delivered a presentation at the last minute for her team when no-one else would, and she replaced ineffective actors with Randall and herself in her commercial. I expect her to at least consider standing in for Joe Piscapo as MC.

Responding, Improvising and Respecting are the three leadership practices that support collaboration. Collaboration is necessary in both teams for them to get through their respective crises and in the collaboration stakes Rebecca has an edge.

Respecting, Structuring and Improvising are practices that emerge from the commitment to lead. Weakness in these weakens the outcomes of Visualization, Organization and Collaboration and this is where Randall is vulnerable.

We get a clue about how this happened from the team-picking dinner when Rebecca "put on her game face" and assertively negotiated her members. Randall was unprepared for her competitive toughness and may have lost much of his earlier confidence. Unlike Falisha who was fired last week, Rebecca continues to demonstrate the "toughness" demanded by Donald Trump.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

What more would be possible if . . . . .

  • we were more intelligently adaptable about when to lead and follow?
  • as leaders, when one of our followers is ready to lead, we encourage that person to lead while we temporarily follow?
  • as followers, when we know we will receive support from our leaders and know we have something to contribute, we adopt a leadership role?
  • our institutions from families to schools to business to churches supported us in our development as leader-followers?
  • you and I and everyone accepted that we can choose to lead and choose to follow according to our innate and developing sense of what is appropriate?
  • you and I and everyone cultivated a sensibility to other's choices about whether they should lead or follow according to their perception of what is appropriate?
  • rather than stereotyping others as leaders or followers, we adopted the expectation that everyone can be either according to their perception of what would work best for them and others in a given situation?
If as a leader, you find yourself thinking there would be chaos if these circumstances arose, can you be certain that today you are really in control and there is no chaos? Surely, given the consequential increased participation and responsibility-taking, it is worth considering instead, how these conditions can be made viable.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lessons from A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation)

The proposed model had been completed and published to its web site a month or so before I started this blog. While an interactive web site provides a good opportunity for examining a three dimensional model, much of its meaning remains implied. I saw that a blog creates the opportunity for extended exploration and, of course, feedback.

Here's what I learned from describing A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) in twenty five posts over the last seven weeks.

  • The Model. The model appears (to me) to work logically. The labels given to the edges, faces and corners of the tetrahedron are congruent, each illuminating the meaning of the other in a variety of combinations.
  • The Values. The four values lead, follow, innovate and implement appear particularly strong and might even be all embracing for conducting productive workplace relationships. Isn't workplace leadership about just that, conducting productive relationships?
  • Individual and Collective Leadership. I have noticed from time to time and recorded it in my writing that these values and their associated practices are just as relevant to 'self-leadership' as to 'other-leadership'. Leadership comprises, simultaneously, aspects of the individual and collective.
  • The Leader-Follower. The leader-follower concept appears robust; we are naturally neither one nor the other although in extremes we may tend to predominantly lead or follow. Earlier I had proposed that the decision to follow is a leadership decision. Now I am comfortable in asserting that following is an essential aspect of leadership.
  • Implement-Innovate. I discovered similar strength in the implement-innovate value pair. It appears we often and optimally engage in both. Just as for the leader-follower, in extremes and out of habit or inclination we tend to prioritize one of implement and innovate over the other.
  • Lean Leadership. I was pleased to discover this might be a model for 'lean leadership,' in which leadership is diffused to those on the production floor in their management of continuous improvement processes.
  • Customers, Productivity and Sustainability. In the 'lean' context I became aware that a) implementation is about meeting the expectations of internal and external customers, b) innovation is about winning new or repeat customers and c) simultaneous/complementary innovation and implementation is necessary for productivity improvement and sustainability.
  • Leadership Practices. In an early post I wrote that all six identified leadership practices have equal weight. I should have written, 'appropriate weight.' In the best case I believe we exercise judgment and skill in adapting the emphasis of our practices to changing personal and situational needs. I do claim, however, that leadership is jeopardized by omitting or under or over emphasizing any of these practices.
  • Respecting. In the same post I also identified that respecting is the most fundamental practice because it permits us to work together.
  • Versatility. While respect may be the most fundamental of the six identified practices, it has become evident that implicit in the model there are two practices or maybe skills that are even more fundamental and really might be considered a single skill. If we accept the four values lead, follow, innovate and implement to comprise the driving forces of leadership it may be that making good decisions about when to lead or follow, and when to innovate or implement are essential skills. This suggests another very important leadership skill is flexibility, adaptability or versatility.
  • Commitment. Another leadership attribute that surfaced during this writing is commitment. I have written in terms of our values 'driving' our practices. However our values are only as useful as our commitment to them. So a better language might be that 'we commit to values which guide our practices.'
  • Implied Values. Summarizing, versatility and commitment are implied values in A Vision of Leadership. There appear to be relationships between versatility and innovation and commitment and implementation which suggest a direction for further consideration.
  • Other Leadership Models. I have begun wondering what the relationships between a Vision of Leadership and other, more established leadership models might be. I anticipate finding perspectives that can influence this independently derived model.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Conscious Decision to Follow is an Act of Leadership

The model "A Vision of Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation" proposes that follow is one of four fundamental leadership values and that to follow requires commitment to the three leadership practices of :

Each practice represents a significant commitment to oneself and to another/others and any commitment that guides future action is an act of leadership.

Meanwhile the other three practices, realizing, improvising and structuring support visualization at the base of the tetrahedron when follow is at the top. Even while we are following we value lead, implement and innovate, and thus sustain and achieve the visualization we are following, whether it be our own or another's. This is how we avoid following blindly which, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with leadership.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Apprentice, Collaborate or Lose

Those who watched last night's Apprentice witnessed clear examples of the importance of knowing when to lead and when to follow.

Ala and Alicia confused leading with winning and following with losing. Their only chance was to have the best project result but neither was prepared to let go of her need for personal success. Each was unable to integrate the other's contributions into a shared concept. There was no collaboration and it showed in their work product.

In contrast Rebecca, as project leader, originally required actors for their commercial. When it became clear this was not working, she acknowledged so to Randall and sought his contribution to the solution. In their taxi at the beginning of their project they had agreed to push each other to be effective. This opened the door to flexible leadership and collaboration.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Lead While Staying Grounded!

After twelve earlier posts describing aspects of "A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation)," you might expect one with this title to bring it all together. Of course it does not. It takes all fourteen aspects of A Vision of Leadership together to describe leadership. This post addresses our intention to lead or the value we place in leading.

A Vision of Leadership proposes that lead is one of four fundamental leadership values and that lead uniquely drives the three leadership practices of :

If we overprioritize our need to lead those three practices will dominate the other three, responding, conforming and realizing and, relatively, diminish the outcome contribution which forms the base of the tetrahedron when lead is at the top.

But what are we leading for? It is always because we want to make a contribution ourselves and/or we want the contributions of others to bring about our visualization. If we want to make and support contributions, even while leading we must value follow, innovate and implement and continue responding, conforming and realizing. These values and practices comprise the ground on which we are privileged to lead.

(As I re-read this I recognized Markus of The Apprentice! This gentleman's attempts to lead were totally ungrounded in the necessity to make his own contribution or to support others as they made theirs.)

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Implementation Energized by Collaboration

The proposal "A Vision of Leadership" (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) demonstrates that implement is one of four fundamental leadership values and that it drives the three leadership practices of :

When we over focus on implementation those three practices tend to dominate and the other practices, respecting, responding and improvising can sometimes be allowed to take a back seat. We may not see much need for collaboration when we're busy implementing. However, it was through collaboration (the base of the tetrahedron when implement is at the top) that we improved or developed a process to implement and when a new or improved process is needed, collaboration is required again. In a culture of learning and continuous improvement, in a lean culture, collaboration never takes a back seat - it energizes implementation.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Leadership Models

Do you actively apply a leadership model as a leader, know anyone who does or have experience in an organization that follows/followed a specific model? As I near the end of this description of A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) I am considering how I might continue this blog. I consciously developed this model independently of other models - I did not want it to be derivative. However, I know there are plenty of alternatives, some of which have probably served people well and might usefully inform this proposal. I am very interested to hear of any experiences either as comments to this post or (perhaps for confidentiality) by e-mail.

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Innovation Occurs on a Foundation of Organization

The model A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) proposes that innovate is one of four fundamental leadership values and drives the three leadership practices of :

This is innovate, as a corner of the tetrahedral model, viewed from above.

These three practices are indispensable for innovation but not enough to sustain an enterprise. We need to make and deliver products and services as well as create them and must not omit organization, the base of the tetrahedron when innovate is on top. We must continue respecting, structuring and conforming.

I just heard Gordon Moore explain to Charlie Rose how with separate R&D and production facilities at Fairchild the labs produced more innovations than the production facilities required and the transfer of innovation from laboratory to production was usually inefficient. At Intel, therefore, he ensured that R&D is carried out on production lines!

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lean Leadership

In his post, "Book Review: Creating a Lean Culture," Mark Graban of the Lean Manufacturing Blog says:

"A friend gave me a copy of a book he recommended: Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, by David Mann. "Based on a first look, I am very impressed with the book. It focuses on creating a "lean management" culture that must work hand in hand with the "lean manufacturing" tools. Many of realize that using the "lean tools" is not enough, that you need a dramatic change in management habits and behaviors to sustain lean and truly reach your potential. Chapter 3 is particularly noteworthy, "Standard Work for Leaders." This is one of the few books, maybe other than Andy & Me and The Toyota Way series, that addresses this critical aspect of lean. Visiting NUMMI, they certainly emphasized that the behaviors of the team leaders and all management was critical to their success. A few excerpts and key points (his words in bold and my paraphrasing and thoughts in italics).

  • "On this journey you learn to impose on yourself [as a leader] the same kind of disciplined adherence to process you now expect of operators in following their standard work." Mann also points out that, while operators might be following standard work 100% of the time, a supervisor might only be following standard work 80% of the day. As you go higher up in the organization, there's a reduction in how much of their day is standardized.
  • Mann emphasizes a hierarchy of audits and checks, where production status might be checked several times an hour by team leaders, checked by supervisors four or more times a shift, and by value stream managers (or plant managers) once or twice a shift. Each level above is auditing to make sure that the level below them is following THEIR standard work.
  • "The second benefit is that leader standard work quickly allows an organization to raise the game of the existing leadership staff, or highlight those unable to make the transition." Basically, if a leader can't follow their own standard work, and that's been documented, it makes it easier to see who isn't process focused and who might need replacing. Not all leaders can make the transition to a lean world.
  • According to Mann, the "Four Principal Elements of Lean Management" are: 1 Leader standard work , 2 Visual controls , 3 Daily accountability process, and , 4 Leadership discipline"

While the language of Mark's post is different from what I use in the model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation), I am wondering if there may be some important parallels and I welcome feedback from lean enterprise practitioners.

What caught my attention was the description of operators performing 100% standard work, a supervisor 80% standard work and that percentage being reduced progressively at higher levels in the organization. Standard work appears to be very similar to what I have called Implementation - work accomplished according to some pre-determined process or plan. Non-standard work sounds similar to what I have called Innovation - it is new, normally created in response to a new need and not done before by that person or in that process or situation. I am delighted to discover that there is a formalized body of practice that specifically acknowledges standard and non-standard work in the context of leadership.

The model suggests that everyone, whether leading or following is involved in a mixture of innovation and implementation. Earlier I have offered that the most important leadership skill may be about deciding when to lead and when to follow. Now I recognize there is another skill having similar importance, that is bringing to bear the mix of innovation and implementation most appropriate to the circumstances*. At the extremes, there is no point in inventing a new process if the present one is most effective and conversely, when a process is ineffective it is inappropriate to continue implementing it without innovating a solution. This, surely, is true wherever one is in a hierarchy.

While less familiar with lean manufacturing, I recall the quality circle approach, imported from Toyota in the early 80's to create the environment in which production line workers take full responsibility for their output, i.e. take a leadership role in refining their work process as well as following by implementing it. Conversely, of course, no experienced manager spends all his time dreaming up the next big thing and forgetting to supervise the day-to-day components of the business that serve (follow) the immediate needs of his/her stakeholders. Each is a leader and follower and each is striving to reach an appropriate balance between "standard" and "non-standard work."

Thank you Mark. Your post leads me to consider whether the kind of leadership I am describing is lean leadership.

* I recognize these skills I identify are a direct consequence of building a model based upon the four values, lead, follow, innovate and implement. In my experience of leadership I have observed these as fundamental. Now is it becoming clear that the model shows how making decisions about which of these values are important in a given situation are important leadership practices, implicit in the model and in addition to those described in other posts. In terms of the geometry of the model, this tetrahedron need not be symmetrical or static and its proportions can represent the emphasis given to specific values according to the circumstances, i.e. it is a situational model. This is a subject worth exploring in future posts.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Donald Trump and a Vision of Leadership

In The Apprentice, Donald Trump presents a rare opportunity for many people to observe the same business leader at work. Yes, I know it's 'only a show' but I find at least a couple of reasons to believe we see him lead at least similarly to how he would usually. The first is that I doubt Mr. Trump would permit the producer to have him do something incongruent with his values or usual behavior. The second is that if this isn't the real Donald, the winner is in for a heck of a surprise.

This post is about the model, using Mr. Trump as I see him in the show to illustrate the leadership practices and outcomes proposed in the Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).

It is important at this point to recall that the model suggests categories of leadership practices and does not narrowly define the specifics. By avoiding the prejudices that flow from stereotyping and with recognition that the strongest leaders are often those least expected to be, all types of personalities and styles are included. The model's only boundaries are that leadership embraces the four values, lead, follow, innovate and implement.


STRUCTURING: Donald explains the interview process to select the most capable apprentice and each week he describes a new project for the candidates. He says what he expects to be implemented and the consequences of success and failure.

IMPROVISING: I have seen improvising with respect to his vision only in executive session when there is an occasional remark to George or Carolyn about the kind of people he likes to hire.

REALIZING: This televised, competitive, executive hiring process is very innovative and there is an expressed necessity to implement it according to a concise plan.


STRUCTURING: The events he directs occur on time with everyone ready for action. This is most evident in the board room where additionally he conducts his meetings with authority.

CONFORMING: The success of the show depends upon Mr. Trump's apparent comfort working under the constraints of lights, cameras, shooting schedule and a director's guidance.

RESPECTING: While he exercises a firm hand in the board room he gives a fair hearing to anyone who needs to speak, listening attentively.


RESPECTING: Donald has agreed to occasional and unusual proposals from loosing project managers about their team members' participation. I recall two, there may be more.

IMPROVISING: In the boardroom when the tension is high around a candidate's personal situation or a team's performance, Donald will enter into a short and powerful dialog, often expressing strong empathy or despair.

RESPONDING: He uses information gathered on and off camera about the team's performance to guide review meetings, particularly with the loosing team. If a candidate makes a good case in the boardroom Donald acknowledges that.


RESPONDING, REALIZING, CONFORMING: By participating in The Apprentice, Donald contributes to many people, including candidates, TV production staff, a TV channel's management, advertisers, viewers and, presumably, stockholders. In order to do so he must, to some degree, be responding to, conforming to and realizing their needs.

I hope to have illustrated each of the six leadership practices and by association, each of the four leadership outcomes that together comprise this description of leadership. It appears to me that during the The Apprentice, Donald Trump demonstrates to a greater or lesser degree all aspects of the model. I welcome any comments or other examples from the show that further test and clarify the proposed model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Collaboration for Innovation

Earlier, I described organization as being relatively static in order to implement an established process. When the value implement is replaced by innovate, the dynamics of collaboration emerge. A participant follows by responding and leads by improvising. Respect for the values lead and follow permits them to coexist.

In a collaboration, often with tacit understanding, the lead is accorded to whoever is able to make the best improvised contribution at any given time. Other collaborators follow by responding to this lead until its consequences are complete and the group is ready to be led by another act of improvisation. Until an effective process is learned, the reality is more chaotic than this description suggests. Then, with organization in concert with the collaboration, we are able to implement and innovate, which is a condition for a sustainable enterprise that creates new products and services even while delivering existing products and services.

A similar process occurs when an individual wants to innovate. There is a switching of thought and action back and forth between improvising and responding. I acquire a new thought or perform a new action and then respond to it by accepting it as a contribution and following through, or rejecting it for another improvisation. In a similar way a designer seeking solutions, experiments with alternatives until one is found that s/he can apply.

As the model is structured, all the leadership practices carry equal weight. However, respecting could be the most fundamental because it guides us with respect to when to lead and when to follow.

(This post is part of a series presenting a model of leadership for comments. The image is of one side of a tetrahedral model that can be viewed interactively in A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation). This is the fourth of the sides I am calling outcomes. The four corners, the values of leadership, will complete this series of posts.)

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Contribution - The Essence of Following.

[This post continues a series that presents a model of leadership for comments. The image below is one side of a tetrahedral realization of the model that can be viewed interactively and somewhat nonlinearly in A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).]

This facet of leadership corresponds to the earlier one on visualization but from the perspective of a follower. As before, the practice of realizing is necessary to innovate and implement. But if it is important to follow, ones relationship to innovation and implementation change.

When a leader is structuring a process or organization in order to implement a plan, a follower is conforming, adapting thoughts and actions to the process or organization. Similarly a leader will be improvising thoughts and actions in order to innovate, and a follower is responding to the outcome of the improvisation. Lastly, a leader will have a visualization what is necessary in order to implement or improvise and a follower will make a contribution to that implementation or improvisation that is consistent with the leader's visualization.

When it is important to follow, implement and innovate this is accomplished by responding, conforming and realizing and results in a contribution. In the static, hierarchical organization designed for implementation, the contribution of a follower is made in the context of his/her leader's communicated visualization of what is needed. This is repeated down the 'chain of command' each person adopting first a follower role to become aware of someone else's visualization and then adopting the leader role, sharing possibly just a part of this vision with the next follower. In this way each person is necessarily a leader-follower.

Of course, the static hierarchical organization is not the only operational form and the next post will consider the leader-follower's behavior in another context.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Interlude and Thanks

Thank you Random Thoughts From a CTO for being the first to link to this blog. Thanks also to Be Excellent, Business Innovation 2005, Career Niche, Deep Fun, Fast Company, and Xplane for recognizing my web site A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) which provides an interactive version of the model I am describing in these posts.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Innovation vs Implementation

This title given by Fortune Magazine's Business Innovation Insider, about the Visualization facet of the model got me thinking. I left the following comment.

"The more I work with the model, A Vison of Leadership, the more I am intrigued by this relationship between innovation and implementation. It appears that implementation is about meeting (internal and external) customers' expectations and innovation is about winning new/repeat customers. It also appears that simultaneous/complementary innovation and implementation is about productivity improvement and therefore necessary for sustainability. Certainly, managing the mix of innovation is a significant aspect of leadership whether it is that exercised by a senior manager or that of a front-line worker."

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Organization for Implementation

leader-followerThis post continues a series that presents a model of leadership for comments. The image below is one side of a tetrahedral realization of the model that can be viewed interactively and somewhat nonlinearly in A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).

Organization is one of four key facets in this description of leadership. It is the process that permits people to lead and follow as they implement what has been visualized. The intentions to lead and implement are fulfilled by structuring (e.g. focusing and ordering) energies of thought and action. The intentions to follow and implement are fulfilled by conforming thoughts and actions to already identified requirements. Lastly, respecting the values lead and follow permits the versatility of roles that is necessary to implement, i.e. to lead in what you do while following within another's framework.

An organization chart describes a static organization that manages power, usually expressed in an enterprise as managing cost. The chart is meaningful to the extent the organization it represents effectively contributes to implementation. The structuring, conforming and respecting implied by the chart are leadership practices that bring about and maintain the distribution of power in the organization.

Organization is also about oneself. I can lead by making a decision and, respecting that decision, follow through. In order to implement I structure my thoughts and actions, while conforming to personal constraints and those in my environment. As an aspect of leadership, organization has interwoven internal and external components.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Visualization - The First Face of Leadership

If one's intention is to lead, whether to implement or innovate, some visualization of an outcome is necessary. Visualization is a tool for leaders. It may be a guide for one's own action and by sharing it with others, become part of their guidance too. This is 'the vision thing' we like to hear or see from those we have chosen to follow.

When we're in the moment there's no, 'OK, let's check the vision thing' because a powerful vision will have taken up residence in our minds and be contributing to the action. A good illustration is the off-court practice of basketball players re-running a mental movie of sinking the ball from a challenging position and when they find themselves in that position they 'just do it.'

We fulfill our intention to lead and implement by structuring. We demonstrate the values of leading and innovation by improvising and the values of innovation and improvisation by realizing. Our visualization is the outcome of these three practices, structuring, improvising, realizing. Structuring - 'This is the situation on the court, there is the basket.' Improvising - 'I'm dodging her on the left, faking a pass to my team-mate and then tipping it in.' Realizing - 'It is happening/I am doing it!'

Looking for a complementary voice on this subject, I found this at dan taarin: meaningful chunks

why does visualization work?

Visualization aids cognition not because of some mystical superiority of pictures over other forms of thought and communication, but rather because visualization helps the user by making the world outside the mind a resource for thought in fairly specific ways .... visualization amplifies cognition by (1) increasing the memory and processing resources available to the users, (2) reducing search for information, (3) using visual representations to enhance the detection of patterns, (4) enabling perceptual inference operations, (5) using perceptual attention mechanisms for monitoring, and (6) encoding information in a manipulable medium. (The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook)

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Six Practices Through Others' Eyes

The Vaclav Havel quote about vision reminded me of the potential of another voice or two to deepen the ideas expressed here. These quotes reference the recently described leadership practices from "A Vision of Leadership:"

  • "Achievement results from work realizing ambition." - Adam Ant (from BrainyQuote)
  • "There is nothing respecting which a man may be so long unconscious as of the extent and strength of his prejudices." - Francis Jeffrey (from BrainyQuote)
  • "Oh, the miraculous energy that flows between two people who care enough to get beyond surfaces and games, who are willing to take the risks of being totally open, of listening, of responding with the whole heart. How much we can do for each other." - Alex Noble (from BrainyQuote)
  • "The thickness of the proposal required to win a multimillion-dollar contract is about one millimetre per million dollars. If all the proposals conforming to this standard were piled on top of each other at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it would probably be a good idea." - Norman R. Augustine (from BrainyQuote)
  • "There is another aspect of teamwork that takes place in improvisation: different people take the lead at different times, in a manner contrary to the traditional hierarchical style of management. Consequently, each person must develop the ability to both lead and follow. In an improvising team, leadership "is conferred on the person who articulates the emerging consensus of the group at the proper moment" (O'Reilly, 1994, p. 40)." - "The Improvising Organization," Malcolm Webber.
  • "Phases of the creative process: Preparation-gathering impressions Incubation-letting go of certainties Immersion/Illumination-creative intervention/risk Revision-conscious structuring and editing of creative material." - Gail Sheehy (from ThinkExist)

Now I will draft the first of the of pyramid faces for Monday.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Interlude and Quote

"Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs."

-Vaclav Havel

(Institute of HeartMath, Heart Quotes.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Improvising - Lead and Innovate

Improvising is what I do if it is important that I lead and innovate. If I want to take the initiative and create something new, I do something out of my routine and step into unknown territory. Neither visualization nor collaboration are possible without improvising. Appropriately the practice on the opposing edge of the terahedral model, the subject of the prior post, is conforming.

This post completes the six leadership practices. Next time I'll make a start on their outcomes.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Conforming - Follow and Implement

If I follow you I am conforming my actions to those you want and if I implement according to some policy, I am conforming my actions to support that policy. When I want to follow while implementing something, conforming accomplishes that.

One outcome of my conforming is that I partially qualify to make a contribution to something - as you can see from earlier posts, I also need to be responding and realizing. Another outcome is that I partially qualify to be in an organization - again from other posts, I also need to be respecting and structuring.

Personally, conforming presents me with a challenge when I experience it as idealistic, for its own sake. However, when I experience the outcomes of organization and contribution that are supported by conforming, I recognize it to be a valuable practice.

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Responding - Follow and Innovate?

Of course, a follower can't directly innovate but he/she certainly can support the process.

This is the fourth of six edges representing leadership practices, that together form the tetrahedral model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation). After discussing the remaining edges in the next two posts, I will describe the faces of the completed tetrahedron - the outcomes, and then take a detailed look at its corners - the values that drive leadership.

When someone else is leading the innovative process and I am following, I participate by responding and making a contribution and collaborating to bring about the innovation. This may not sound like leadership, but it is. As a follower, if I am not responding and being part of the process I am unable to take the lead when that becomes necessary or optimal. I have this opportunity because in this model, as in the title of this blog, I identify the single actor in leadership as the leader-follower.

Should leading be important to me, responding is the 'price of admission.' If I choose to be unresponsive, contribution and collaboration cease and all that remains is structuring (the opposite edge and discussed immediately prior to this). My structuring and leading may be timely, necessary and welcome. However, so long as I am following and the collaboration and contribution are warranted, responding is the leadership practice that keeps innovation going and keeps me engaged.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Structuring - How Leaders Implement.

Previously I introduced the two pairs of leadership values, lead and follow, innovate and implement, each value being held in relationship to it's pair by a leadership practice. The tetrahedron connects every value so there are four more combinations of values, each driving a specific practice.

is the practice whereby a leader supports implementation. As a leader my role is to provide a structure for my actions and others'. Specific outcomes of structuring are my visualization of what I would like implemented and the organization I believe is necessary to do so. Alternatively, if I want to implement something, I lead by being clear about what I want and by assembling the resources to accomplish it.

In an email inquiry, Skip Angel asked how, as a leader, he would know if he had accomplished these things. We know when we have a visualization (possibly a plan) and an organization - their presence is binary and easily measured and we are unable to act on our values lead and implement without these outcomes. Additionally, our visualization and organization will be degraded unless all their components are active. They will be described here shortly and are already described in A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation). This suggests a check list would useful and that may be the best application of this Vision of Leadership. One might say it is a three dimensional check list identifying the systemic role of each item - each key element of leadership as expressed in this model.

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