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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