Quick Notes

Brief, intermittent notes on mindsets and skill sets that help you become a more innovative and effective leader. Written to be easy to absorb and apply.


innovation and leadership insights

Failing Well

February 19, 2009

Big ambitions and big achievements require a resilience honed by setbacks, new learning, and a commitment to your version of success. In his commencement address at San Francisco State University, Mayor Gavin Newsom highlighted setbacks navigated by some notable achievers:

  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team ... because he wasn't good enough.
  • Elvis Presley got an F in Music.
  • Winston Churchill finished last in his class ... and later remarked that the secret to success was "going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

Another notable Churchill observation: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." What historical heavyweight do you think persevered through the following?

1831: failed in business.

1832: lost his bid for a legislative seat.

1834: failed again in business.

1835: sweetheart died.

1836: had a nervous breakdown.

1838: lost his second political race.

1843: defeated for Congress.


Read more

Conceptual Creativity

February 19, 2009

When someone says "I'm not creative" they often mean "I'm not artistic." Artistic creativity produces experiences that help us see or understand things in a new way. Conceptual creativity identifies new ways to meet an important challenge. Conceptual creativity is both new and relevant.

real-wireframe-car-subaru-echtes-drahtgittermodell-autoConceptual creativity is the engine of business innovation. It helps us solve problems in new ways - often by integrating current knowledge with new concepts. When Henry Ford wanted a faster, cheaper way to make cars, he combined his knowledge of automobile production with concepts from meat packing (assembly lines), the US Army (interchangeable mechanical parts), and cigarette production (continuous-flow production).

Transportation expert Robin Chase combined wireless technology, fleet service and pay-as-you-go concepts to create Zipcar, an urban car sharing service. She built on the success of this venture by founding GoLoco (online ridesharing) and Buzzcar (p2p carsharing...

Read more

Your Leadership Wake

February 18, 2009

Back in 16C, singer, poet and dramatist Hans Sachs proclaimed, " People, when you do something, think of the end result; that is the wisest approach."

So, for centuries leaders have been working to "start with the end in mind."

leadership wakeEvery interaction leaves an emotional aftermath.  As a leader, the wake of your verbal and nonverbal communications is particularly strong. It becomes a big part of your leadership brand.

How do you want others to feel after spending time with you? What habits could you develop to create this kind of impact?  This kind of interpersonal wake ripples out over every job you do, impacting the types of results others expect of you ... and are willing to create with you.

Read more