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Disrupt Disruption

Nov 17th, 2022 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Stuff Is Just Hard

Today I had lunch with a wonderful group of truly highly accomplished people. Folks who have worked on peacekeeping missions in the gnarliest of environments and managed some of the most complex organizational changes. And during this conversation, I was reminded of a simple fact — regardless of how something might look from the outside, it is always just hard.

Getting the leaders of warring factions to collaborate? Managing deeply entrenched stakeholders in a corporate take-over? It all requires change — not just of the surrounding factors but the very people at the center of the story.

The same is true for us. If we want change, we must change. And change is hard. As Arno Ilgner, author of the wonderful little book The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers (which is not just for climbers), remarked:

The venue does not change. Everest does not get smaller, and the North Pole does not get warmer. It is we who must transform, and that takes work. If the process was easy, we’d all be world champions.

Anything worth doing, almost by definition, will be hard. Embrace it. It’s worth it.

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Nov 13th, 2022

Why Big Corp Won't Hurt You

You surely can’t avoid the epic soap opera that is Twitter these days. I will spare you any commentary, snark, or armchair strategizing here — grab a bag of 🍿, sit back and enjoy the show.

What it does bring up for me, though, and something worth discussing, is an age-old question I get rather frequently from (particularly young(er)) entrepreneurs:

“What if [big company] decides to do what I am working on too?”

Ever since I got that question — and I understand where it comes from: It can feel scary to think what would happen to your fledging startup if...

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Oct 28th, 2022

Whatever is Easiest Wins

Remember smart thermostats before the Nest? Didn’t work. Well, actually — they did work, but nobody knew how to use them as they had tons of buttons, menus to navigate, and manuals to read before you even understood where to start. Then the Nest came along. Turn the round dial clockwise, and it gets warmer, turn it in the other direction, and it gets colder. Do this for a few days, and Nest learns your preferences and starts programming itself.

TV remotes, microwave ovens, many software applications … The list goes on and on. All too complicated to be used...

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Oct 20th, 2022

Everybody Is Faking It All the Time

You might have seen Mark Zuckerberg’s overly excited “I now have legs in the Metaverse”-dance during his company’s Connect 2022 developer conference keynote.

If that sentence made no sense to you at all, let me fill you in: Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) bets big on the Metaverse. Meta has a virtual world called Horizon. It’s the VR version of Facebook — or it should be someday. Your digital representation (i.e., your avatar) inside of Horizon currently doesn’t have legs. You just float around in space. Turns out – legs are hard to do properly in VR.

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Oct 11th, 2022

Nobody Knows Anything Anyway

The other day — while doing more research for my book on disruption — I came across a paper on “Organizational Ambidexterity: Past, Present and Future.” It is a great summarization of the research being done on an organization’s ability to “both explore and exploit—to compete in mature technologies and markets where efficiency, control, and incremental improvement are prized and to also compete in new technologies and markets where flexibility, autonomy, and experimentation are needed.”

Reading the paper, and this is definitely not meant as a slight against the paper, you get insights such as this one: “In uncertain environments,...

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Oct 4th, 2022

Best Practices Are (Usually) Temporal

Here is a heretical thought: When so much of our understanding of the world is based on “best practices” — or, to be more precise: what people do and think is best practice — does that mean that all our insight is simply “off the moment”?

This question was brought forward to me by Bill Pasmore, Professor at Columbia University when I shared the draft for my upcoming book Disrupt Disruption with him.

It is a good and fair point. If you would have interviewed the same practitioners we talked to for the book twenty years ago, you can bet...

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Sep 4th, 2022

I Used To Think

Here is a fun and insightful exercise. I learned this from my friend Frederick Pferdt until recently, Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist: When it comes to change (and all Heretics embrace change, of course), we often skip reflecting on what has changed. It is too easy to go from A to B to C without locking in the learning, which one can gain from pausing, thinking about, and sealing in the wisdom we took from getting from A to B to C. Sadly, much is lost when we hurriedly rush through our lives and careers and the best leaders I met had...

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Aug 28th, 2022

To Become a Better Leader, Become a Better Human

Last week we talked about the vital difference between leaders and managers and the necessity of becoming ambidextrous — our ability to seamlessly switch between these two modalities.

Shortly after I posted the dispatch, my friend and long-time Heretic reader, Mark Moore, remarked in an email that management is a business skill. If you want to become a better manager, read books about it, take some courses and think rigorously about it. Leadership, on the other hand, is a human skill. To become a better leader, you need to be determined to be a better human, primarily by hanging...

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Aug 20th, 2022

On Leaders and Managers

When it comes to leadership and management (both of paramount importance to the success of your endeavor), people seem to either mix the terms and treat them essentially the same, or consider them to be positional: Leaders are the select few at the top, providing “leadership”, whereas the managers are located somewhere in the middle of your organization providing “management”. This certainly is true for big (and bigger) organizations, but also plays out even in small startups where leadership comes from the founders, the rest of us are here to manage.

Let me briefly clarify these roles: Leadership is about...

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Aug 12th, 2022

Don’t Be That Guy

The other day I found myself grabbing a bite to eat at the airport. Opposite me sat a family of four: He, nicely groomed, button-down shirt in a discreet plaid pattern, top button open, sleeves carefully pulled up to just below his elbows. She in a black dress, not too casual, not too formal, some tasteful earrings and golden rings, small Rolex watch. Kids straight out of a J Crew billboard ad. I have seen this family before. As a matter of fact I have seen them many, many times — as they are the stereotypical well groomed, affluent family.

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