Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ambidextrous Innovation:


How Can Leaders’ Best Explore and Exploit both Disruptive and Incremental Approaches to Innovation?

Guest post from Gaia Grant and Andrew Grant:

Most of us love to watch a race. We like to observe the highs and lows of others as they experience a hard-fought competition. It’s exciting to tap into the innate competitive drive.

Indeed survival today seems to depend upon our ability to literally get ahead as fast as possible. With the market realities of the current economy, it appears that new players need to continually break through the ranks in order to survive. These players test more established racers with breakthrough innovations.

The success of the sharing economy, where small nimble players such as Uber and Airbnb have been able to overtake larger more established players, has revealed how easy it has become to challenge the established leaders.

Yet such a rapid and competitive approach to innovation may not be sustainable over the long term.

Breakthrough or be left behind

As addictive as the adrenaline of this ‘innovation race’ might be, players are constantly coming and going, and few survive. Fourteen of the world’s 15 most valuable technology brands have disappeared since 1995 (Apple being the exception) through failing to keep up with emerging technologies.

Even the apparent leaders in the race seem to suffer from ‘premium position captivity’, and often cannot maintain the leading position for long. Every time a disruptive new innovation comes through, the bar is raised.

There will also always need to be those who can move forward more carefully with incremental innovations that ensure careful sustainable improvement when the latest fads have passed.  

The message seems to be fast at all costs: that you must be proactive and anticipate future trends to generate better, faster solutions, or risk being relegated to the back of the pack, or even eliminated. But this message needs to be tempered with the knowledge that systems that support (not hinder) need to be in place to keep your wheels on the track.

Leaders need to be careful they are not too easily seduced by the need for speed, but that they are simultaneously able to build solid systems and structures to support change over the long run.

The ‘innovation race’ needs to be understood as both a long-term marathon, as well as a short-term sprint. There will be times each approach is needed, and the leader needs be trained and ready for both, as well as ensuring the organization is prepared for both.

Becoming ambidextrous

In order to be successful, leaders now need to be ambidextrous and balance these competing and contradictory approaches to innovation.

So how can you successfully navigate the innovation race? By including both sides of the following paradoxes you will be able to remain flexible and resilient. Effectively balancing these should enable you to keep one eye on what is happening in the here and now, along with keeping another on the road ahead.

·     Freedom + Control: Allow people the freedom to explore radical breakthrough ideas, whilst providing them the guidance needed for steady and incremental change.

·    Openness + Focus: Openness and diversity are essential for the ignition of breakthrough ideas, while people also need the opportunity to focus on what is needed for incremental innovation.

·    Engagement + Individualism: Allow opportunities for individuals to come together a s a group and brainstorm, while respecting the individual time needed to work ideas through to applications.

·    Flexibility + Stability: Provide flexibility for people to explore different solution options and breakthrough ideas, but also provide a solid system for practical implementation.

Successfully navigating these innovation paradoxes should enable you to create a sustainable innovation culture – no matter what the challenges ahead!
 

Gaia Grant and Andrew Grant are the authors of The Innovation Race: How to Change a Culture to Change the Game. As the Directors of Tirian International Consultancy they help to create innovation cultures for a range of international organisations (from Fortune 500 companies through to NFPs). The Grants are top-ranking keynote speakers and business facilitators, and Gaia is an HD researcher and guest lecturer at Sydney University Business School.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Values Alignment for First Responders and More

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

I am thankful for many things--only one of which is our first responders. Law enforcement and fire personnel lay their lives on the line every day. Their jobs are immensely stressful and demanding, and 99% of them serve with grace, skill and speed.

Skill alone doesn’t make a firefighter or law enforcement officer effective. The culture of their department has a huge influence on them.  If it tolerates unsafe or disrespectful behavior, it is very likely the first responder will carry that with them. They may withhold information or have a lack of respect for one another. They may be publicly critical or dismiss the accomplishments of others. They may lack confidence in the commands of their superiors. These behaviors create distrust, which is potentially disastrous.

If their department's culture tolerates disrespectful or dangerous behaviors, it is likely that the players in that culture will embrace those behaviors. They will not share information. They will not support each other. They criticize others' decisions publicly. They discount others' efforts and accomplishments. They may hesitate to act upon the commands of superiors--all of this could have potentially disastrous results.

Whether in the fire department, retail store, office, restaurant or police station you will only get a purposeful, positive, productive culture by design, not default.

Doing this well takes daily attention to clear intentions. Creating clear performance expectations and understood citizenship expectations, with consistent accountability for both, will bring significant benefits such as:

*Employee engagement up by 40%
*Customer service increased by 40%
*Profit and results jumped by 35%

All within 18 months.

These results occur at organizations that institute an
organizational constitution (which includes your team’s servant purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals).

It is not common for law enforcement or fire protection organizations to get involved in this process. Even thought defining the constitution is the simple part of the journey, it does take a lot of effort and time to do right.

Once you have established your organizational constitution, the rubber meets the road when it is time to model and coach the desired behaviors and hold people accountable.
I have enjoyed working with firefighters since the 1980's when two served on the board of my YMCA. Getting to know them helped me see how very demanding their jobs are, and how dedicated they are to serving.

A member of the Bend, Oregon, USA, Fire & Rescue squad shared how his team is working toward a high performing, values-aligned work environment.  Their specific values include:

       Respect
       Optimism
       Compassion
       Humility
       Resiliency
       Integrity

In formalizing these values and behaviors, Bend Firefighters know that they are responsible for more than just applying skills to their jobs. They are expected to treat others with compassion and respect. They are to conduct themselves with humility and integrity. They are to show resilience and optimism even in the tough moments.

The Bend Fire Department praises aligned behavior and redirects misaligned behavior so that they can make progress every day. Moreover, aligned behavior like this just might help keep them a little safer, too.

How precisely does your organization define citizenship? What type of constitution do you have? It is the key to an effective culture.


S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

Thursday, January 5, 2017

6 Essential Characteristics for Leading Simplification

Guest post from Lisa Bodell:

As leaders, we’re responsible for setting the tone of our organization through policy and strategy, as well as our behavior. I believe that leaders have an obligation to work efficiently and effectively so that others do the same, creating a virtuous cycle of simplicity. I also believe that when simplification is an operating principle, it can guide leaders both in big, risky decisions and in daily priorities.

Companies that achieve the Golden Rule of Simplicity — “I will value others’ time as I expect them to value mine” — can harness a distinctly competitive edge in an era of complexity. Through a decade of innovation-training work with global leaders (and in researching my new book, Why Simple Wins), I’ve identified the unique mindset possessed by leaders who succeed in simplification. Comprising that mindset are the following six leadership characteristics.

Characteristic #1: Courage
When Dave Lewis became CEO at European grocery store giant Tesco in 2014, the company was struggling. Consumer behavior had changed: people were shopping more frequently and for fewer items at smaller stores like Lidl and Aldi.

Lewis recognized that shopping at Tesco had become a chore. Customers shopping for a single product—ketchup, for example—were faced with dozens of brands, flavors, and types. (Tesco had 28 different ketchups—Aldi only one.) To help Tesco identify which products to eliminate, Lewis hired Boston Consulting Group. He gave them a mandate: cut the variety of products by 30% (from 90,000 items to 65,000). Lewis anticipated blowback from customers (“You’re going to discontinue my brand of coffee?”) and from suppliers, which would likely charge more for the remaining brands they delivered to Tesco’s shelves.

It took courage for Lewis to stay true to his mission, but he did. A year later, the company’s first Christmas season beat financial expectations.

Characteristic #2: Minimalism
To drive simplicity, leaders must understand the value of paring things back. They need to envision how a simpler company will be more efficient, productive, and profitable. They need to embrace the wisdom of minimalism.

It’s easy to demand more, more, more, but what could it mean for your business if you sacrificed a third of your product offerings? We rarely see the harm in adding new functionality to a website, a new option to a service plan, or a new series of internal meetings. But those sorts of additions do have a cost, even if it’s not readily apparent on a balance sheet.

Characteristic #3: Results Orientation
Smart leaders know that successful simplification isn’t just about making do with less, or making people do more with less. It’s about enabling employees to do more of the work they’re excited to complete (not just more work). Leaders with a simplicity mindset view simplicity as a means for making the organization and its people more effective.

A few years ago, Jeff Spencer, then executive director of strategy for Merck Canada, created a long-term strategy for a culture of simplicity. A survey of the company’s employees in many different levels and functions had revealed that people felt hampered by too many meetings, e-mails, and, most of all, by systems over which they had little control.

These issues caused people to focus inwardly, rather than on the company’s customers and competitors, so Spencer looked for ways to engage employees in simplifying their own work rather than focusing on “the system.” Traditionally, the organization had lacked a clear, efficient system by which field-based representatives could provide feedback to the marketing department, but a few months into the effort, the organization had its first breakthrough.

Teams collaborated to create an e-mail-based, fast-response system by which representatives could provide marketing with customer feedback and other observations. These were compiled, reviewed by marketing, and acted upon. Since these insights sprang directly from customer feedback, marketing was able to develop responses that more closely addressed customers’ specific needs.

For the first time, employees were directly contributing to a broader simplicity culture. And they were becoming conscious of the many subtle yet insidious ways that each employee can layer on additional complexity.

Characteristic #4: Focus
Leaders with a simplicity mindset refuse to get bogged down by distractions. They also don’t let the doubters get in the way of their plans. While simplicity benefits for the company as a whole, it often challenges certain individuals and groups whose authority is rooted in inefficient and overly complex rules, processes, and systems.

Focus is especially crucial for leaders of young companies, since these organizations tend to take on layers of complication as they grow. Leaders must have the fortitude and determination to stick to simplicity—and they must constantly remind employees’ that their work lives will improve if things are streamlined.

Characteristic #5: Personal Engagement
A few years ago, my firm took on a client in the publishing industry. He was a decent guy, had a senior role in the HR department, and wanted our help building new innovation skills and improving the team’s morale. Yet there was a problem: while he talked a good game, my client wasn’t walking the walk. He was all too eager to tell me how other departments around the company were demanding reports that had no real value. But he wouldn’t acknowledge that he was also assigning busywork to his own people.

If you’re a leader hoping to instill an ethos of simplification, you need to exemplify, empower, and reinforce the behaviors associated with simplification. If you’re not prepared to simplify your own work environment, you have no right to impose it on those who work for you.

Characteristic #6: Decisiveness
As Steve Jobs’ right-hand man and Apple’s chief design officer, Jony Ive is credited with some of Apple’s most iconic creations, including the iPod, iPad, and Apple Watch. In order to get the people working for him to set aside distractions, Jobs would ask deputies like Ive a simple question: “How many times did you say no today?”

Jobs was empowering Ive and his colleagues to take control. Jobs didn’t want Ive coming to him for sign-offs on every marginally significant decision. He didn’t want Ive to be scared to take action. Rather, Jobs was giving Ive authority, and he expected him to use it. If Ive was saying “no” each day, it meant that he was making decisions on his own volition.

Leaders who are driving simplification must lay aside the need to seek consensus. Complicated organizations tend to be overloaded with people who claim they can’t get things done because some other department hasn’t signed off or another team hasn’t sent them the specs. Leaders operating in a simplicity mindset short-circuit those complaints. They make decisions quickly and cleanly, and they inspire those around them to do the same.

All six of these leadership qualities can be cultivated with a strong commitment and vision for simplification. When leaders embrace this mindset, we affirm that how we invest our time matters as much as how we invest our money. We’re also affirming the Golden Rule of Simplicity, which shifts our focus away from low-value work and toward what our clients or customers need.

Originating at the top, simplification requires a leadership quality that’s often in short supply: courage. It requires a leap of faith, the belief that freeing people to do higher-level thinking will pay back dividends. And it requires a mindset—the will, foresight, and fortitude to push simplicity through. Do you as a leader have this mindset? If not, why?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Bodell is a global keynote speaker, and the founder and CEO of futurethink, an innovation-training firm. She is the author of the best-selling book “Kill the Company,” which was voted Best Business Book by USA Book News and Booz & Co. Her new book, Why Simple Wins, is available everywhere. Explore her secret sauce for innovation at futurethink.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Spin vs. Sorry: How to Mess Up Well & Become Authentic


Guest post from Bill Munn:

“It was my mistake. I’m sorry. Please forgive me."
It’s important to get these phrases written down, before they become obsolete.

For a few decades now, the popularity of “spin,” with its tempting save-face claims, has elbowed out the use of a simple, honest apology. The reasons (read: excuses) for this are numerous and seemingly convincing:
·         We can’t afford bad publicity.
·         We need to frame this so fewer people are defamed.
·         We are a litigious society. We can’t admit this; we’ll be sued.
·         We should keep quiet or the media will drag us through the mud.
The list goes on.
But here’s a fact: things go wrong. Companies make blunders. People mess up. And some of those little oops moments create big ripples. The law of unintended consequences is constantly in effect.
So the variable isn’t whether or not things will go wrong. It’s how you’ll deal with it when they do.

The Oops-I-Messed-Up Approach, Care of Seventh Generation Inc.
My client, Seventh Generation, recently messed up—then handled it so beautifully that I now use them as the ultimate example of how to make a mistake, apologize, and move forward successfully.

When I asked them for the details, I learned a lot.
The marketplace knows that the core vision of Seventh Generation is focused on providing environmentally sound products. What many don’t know is that their CEO, John Replogle, and his team and board are also dedicated to authenticity in their dealings with team members, customers, suppliers, everyone. 

In October 2012, their baby wipes were selling great, largely through Amazon’s subscription program, which allows customers to set a schedule for automatically replenishing their supply. It’s a win-win for consumer and company alike—one that’s hugely dependent on customer loyalty.
At the time, 70% of Seventh Generation’s baby wipe sales came from this program. But that was about to change.

When the company launched a new, improved wipe—one that looked different and cost more—they started shipping it to subscribers, higher price and all. Just one glitch: no one told the subscribers that. Oops.
Customers responded fast and furiously. They called, wrote, complained on Amazon, and lit up social media. Sales started cliff diving, eventually hitting 50% of prior levels.

Now’s the time for spin, right? Wrong.
When John Moorhead, the new ecommerce brand manager, learned that the company hadn’t communicated with customers on this matter, his first reaction was, “We need to apologize.”

Even though he was relatively new to the scene, Moorhead knew of the company’s commitment to transparency and understood its importance.
The company launched a campaign of personal notes, phone calls, and responses to feedback, social media, and press. The message was simple: “We messed up, we’re sorry, and we’re fixing it as fast as we can."

Replogle himself publicly described the oversight as a mistake. That’s not a word you hear CEOs using often enough—but it’s a term that great leaders don’t shy away from for a minute.
Within 12 months, sales had recovered, the team had learned much about how their customers viewed wipes, and the company had institutionalized the communication fix.

In short, from adversity and authenticity (and the corresponding apology) came advancement.
Seventh Generation’s commitment to authenticity is so strong that communications manager Brandi Thomas actually has proud memories of this blunder: “As a PR person, I don't always get to call the Wall Street Journal to tell them I want to share one of our mistakes, so this story is one my favorites," she told me recently.

Let’s hear it for the power of a strong corporate vision.
The Ugly Truth about Falsehood

Look alert the next time one of your advisers asks, “How are we going to spin this?”
The term “spin” comes from the practice of spinning a yarn, telling a story, sharing fiction. In other words, something made up—false.

As a leader, I doubt you want false. But if those excuses—ahem—“reasons” for choosing spin still have you convinced, think about what’s ahead, namely, more spin and less credibility for your name.
When the spin is exposed or called into doubt, you hit a slippery slope: add new information to assuage doubt, explain what you “technically” meant when you first said X, trip, slip, fall. 

Once it gets messy enough, you throw your hands in the air and go for what I call a redirected apology, which is an apology that attempts to deflect all responsibility away from yourself, often onto the audience.
In other words, it’s not an apology at all.

·         “I’m sorry you misinterpreted my meaning.”
·         “I apologize that my attempt to fix this backfired because of what he did.”
·         “I’m sorry that you were offended by what I said.”
Maybe some people call that an apology. I call it a thinly veiled attempt at scapegoating.
The more you do this, the more calloused your audience becomes. And the more your credibility crumbles.

The Solution & Its Outcome
Let’s go back to the beginning of all this. What if, at the moment you had realized you goofed up, you had ignored those advisers and started with “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to create confusion/frustration/etc., but I made a mistake. I hope you’ll forgive me, but forgiven or not, I’m going to see if it can be fixed. And I will personally report back to you.”

In those rare cases where we see leaders show honest contrition, without spin, the story tends to die very quickly. Or, better yet, it turns positive, reflecting on the honesty.
And don’t forget that you can choose authenticity at anytime, even if you opted for spin early on and are already buried in your own mess. Better late than never.

Authenticity can be hard. Apologizing is humbling. But humility builds wisdom. That’s the simple, honest truth. No apology necessary.

 
Bill Munn is a leadership coach, speaker, former Dow 30 top executive, former university teacher of finance and economics, and author of the new book WHY MAKE EAGLES SWIM?:  Embracing Natural Strengths In Leadership & Life. For more information visit www.BillMunnCoaching.com.
 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Employee Motivation and the Holiday Season


Guest post by Mackenzie Kyle: 

Ah, the holiday season.  A time to be nice to your fellow humans, a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year, and to look forward to the excitement that the New Year brings.  Or, from a more Scrooge-like perspective, a time when team members slack off, the company throws expensive parties where certain people drink too much and do things everyone wants to forget, team members gather to exchange awkward Secret Santa gifts that no one wants, and very little productive activity takes place.

Love it or hate it, it’s not a season we can afford to ignore.  Extending from American Thanksgiving until the hangover subsides around January 3, we’re talking about a little more than 6 weeks or a little more than 10% of the working year.  Not only is it a lot of time, it comes with certain expectations about being an occasion for organizations to show appreciation to their people.  The reaction of many organizations is to follow the traditional checklist of office parties, gift giving, and expecting that productivity will be low, all the while resenting the process and expense, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the New Year.

But does it have to be that way?  As with most things in life, the answer is: of course not.  But also as with most things in life, taking a step back to develop a broader perspective on the situation is required; no improvement is possible without change, and positive change is rarely accomplished without understanding the bigger picture.  And in the case of the holidays, a missing part of that bigger picture is frequently an understanding of what team members actually want.  Traditional ‘rewards’ such as office parties are often viewed as obligations (and therefore not very motivating) by staff, not just by management.

To put some perspective on motivation during the holidays, think about these 4 things:

1. The common perception of the December holiday period is that it is a time to rest, recharge, and to plan for the upcoming year.  Although this may not apply to your entire team, many great team members work hard throughout the year with the expectation that they will get a bit of downtime during the holiday period.  Any attempt to take that away by expecting productivity to be maintained at the level you might see in March or October, is unlikely to be met, and is likely to create resentment among the team.  So be reasonable in setting expectations, which means accepting that while productivity may be lower, this is a healthy part of the work cycle.

2. Don’t assume you know how the team wants to mark the occasion.  Particularly in large offices, parties with spouses that total several hundred attendees mean that there is little time for the team to connect, lots of time for awkward socializing with people you only meet once a year and whose names you can’t remember, and ultimately an experience that is more punishing than rewarding.  Throw in the opportunity for people to do inappropriate things when nerves combine with alcohol, and you have a recipe that you don’t want to make into an actual dish.

Instead of assuming, talk to your team about how they would like to celebrate, and be prepared to go against tradition.  Some groups like to take every Friday in December to go for drinks after work.  Some teams want to play paintball.  And yes, some teams will want to do a more traditional holiday party.  There is no right or wrong here; only right or wrong for your team.  And the only way to know is to engage the team in the discussion.

3. Set clear expectations for behaviour and productivity during the holidays.  Nothing is worse than pretending it’s business as usual if in fact times are slower, and people have to make an effort to appear busy.  Instead, engage the team in planning in the November time frame, work with them to set some quantifiable goals for what needs to be accomplished over the holidays, goals that reflect a realistic level of effort, and talk with each team member about what that means they’ll be doing during that time frame.  Than manage the group to those expectations.  Accomplishing these realistic goals becomes a motivator for the team, and leads to a sense of satisfaction, rather than disappointment at what didn’t happen.

4. Now is NOT the time to tolerate behaviour that wouldn’t normally be acceptable.  There is never a time for that, and we can’t make an exception during the holidays without creating issues.  Although productivity expectations may be lower during this period, failing to deliver on what was agreed to is never acceptable. Similarly, allowing people (often with the help of alcohol) to start acting like your gropey Uncle Greg gets at weddings should not be tolerated.  Hold your team to the same standard of behaviour and respect as the rest of the year.

Remember: keeping a team engaged and motivated is a long-term process, not something to think about once a year.  In the same way we shouldn’t wait for the holidays to treat our fellow human beings with respect and kindness, we can’t think about our motivation and engagement strategy as existing only in a particular time frame.  Although the elements may be different depending on the circumstances the calendar brings, it needs to be a coherent strategy that is implemented throughout the year. 

Mackenzie Kyle is the Regional Managing Partner for MNP, a national Consulting and Accounting firm and the author of The Performance Principle: A Practical Guide to Understanding Motivation in the Modern Workplace.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trying not to Lose is Different than Trying to Win

Guest post from Michael G. Winston:

Today’s winning leader is not just here to weather the storm; they are here to completely change the game.

To survive and prosper in 2017, companies must adopt a way of managing that is based on their capacity to learn and change—consciously, continuously, and quickly.
Anticipating and preparing for change is the essence of competitive advantage. The leaders who dominate in this new era will not only understand the changes affecting them, but they will seize them, master them, and use them to their advantage to achieve ever-higher performance.

While every leader plans and communicates their strategy before the competition begins, once in the race, it’s often necessary to make split-second decisions to redirect efforts. If you don’t notice the shifts in the wind and adjust quickly, you may lose your strategic options. Since opportunities come and go rapidly, you can quickly become a victim of changing circumstances.

Business flows in cycles: bulls follow bears; bears chase bulls. There is opportunity to enhance one’s competitive position in every phase of those cycles. Successful companies and leaders constantly search for market opportunities/threats and take quick, creative action. You can feel the organizational pulse rate by the speed with which they commit to action, allocating and reallocating resources (time, talent, and capital) to pursue opportunities. Decisions are made quickly, and
vision is translated into action. People are recognized and rewarded for these practices.

However, many companies don’t seize opportunities prompted by change because they cannot see opportunities prompted by change. They are so busy making the most of yesterday’s opportunities, they cannot see today’s or create tomorrow’s. What worked in the past no longer guarantees success in the present, let alone the future.

New leadership is needed—leadership that goes against the grain, challenges conventional wisdom, and pushes the status quo. Developing the mindset and ability to embrace change is a considerable challenge. World-class competitors can do it. They know that change is accelerating and that in a time of constant change, the ability to learn and change faster than their competitors is a competitive advantage.

Many excellent companies fall from grace because business conditions shift and they fail to adapt. With fluctuating markets, proliferating technologies, and changing political frontiers, the challenge is no longer to manage growth. Now managers must cope with sudden shifts in the rules of the game. Are you ready? How will you handle sudden and radical changes in business conditions?

Many companies are still in survival mode after the 2008 recession. They are trying to survive, not grow. The same is true of some executives. Trying not to lose is far different than trying to win.

It’s time to lean forward and position yourself and your company for greatness and achieve world-class performance. Regain your Olympic-like competitive edge, rekindle your desire to compete and win. Place a premium on exemplary performance in all dimensions: quality, productivity, service, and value. Growth and innovation are not only possible but necessary during dark times. Here’s a snapshot of the difference:

TRYING NOT TO LOSE                                         TRYING TO WIN
Hold                                                                             Build
Survive                                                                        Thrive
Divest                                                                          Invest
Pause                                                                          Pounce
Scarcity                                                                        Abundance
Wait                                                                             Anticipate
Reduce cost                                                                 Add Value
Delay                                                                           Accelerate
Consent                                                                       Invent
Imitate                                                                         Innovate
Realistic goals                                                              Stretch goals

Today’s winning leader is not just here to weather the storm; they are here to completely change the game. World-class competition is the ultimate proving ground of people, teams, and organizations. Just as we saw in this summer’s Olympics, competition brings together exquisitely prepared men and women in a pressure-cooker atmosphere—each of them vying for victory. The line between success and failure is often razor thin…no more than a hundredth of a second or a few millimeters. The winners will be those who best prepare both physically and mentally and give the extra effort that leads to victory.

About the Author:
Michael Winston had a career of distinction in executive positions for over three decades in five Fortune 100 companies across three industries. He served in executive positions for Motorola, Merrill Lynch, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed and Countrywide. As global head of leadership and organization strategy, he worked closely with C-Suite Officers to develop business models, craft strategies and structure, create cultures and develop leaders.
As Enterprise Chief Leadership Officer for Countrywide Financial, Winston rebuilt the strategy, leadership and culture and tried to stop the fraud, corruption and deception he observed. His warnings were dismissed and ignored. Winston’s experiences in confronting Countrywide executives about fraud, market manipulation and insider-trading are highlighted in numerous media reports including this New York Times feature. He is a founding member of the Bank Whistleblowers United, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, a Master’s Degree from the University of Notre Dame and attended executive programs at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
For more information about Winston visit him on LinkedIn and on MichaelWinston.com, His book, World-Class Performance, is available for purchase on Amazon and other fine booksellers.