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    Scatter-brained Leadership:
    Why Many Teams Can't Get Things Done

    I had a customer who was always saying, frequently in screaming tones, “Just get things done!” His team was telling me, “Great idea if there was actually a plan that got focus on the right things, or even at least the same things for more than a week.”


    Hazy  People

    A leader can beat up a team and yell, “Get things done!”, but that doesn't bring any clarity to the confusion that the leader produces because of h/i/r own personal lack of discipline. (photo - alan-labisch - unsplash)


    It's kind of like everyone wants to “swing for the fences,” but no one wants to go to batting practice. Well, we know enough about the way the habits of the leader form the habits of the team to say that if the leader has inadequate discipline with respect to necessary professional activities, then the team, by nature, will perform at that traditional level below the performance level of the leader.


    Great leaders are a lot like great inventors. They both have effective ways of looking at problems and exploring a range of solutions to those problems. Both take a very systematic approach in those explorations. In many cases there is a large body of thought that provides the basis of their experiments. If the body of thought is both deep and wide, it can still supply explanations even when the experiments give unexpected and strange results.


    The customer opening this story had no use for this. His attitude was that planning was a drag on a nimble and responsive organization. Like many people who are in over their heads, he viewed business as a string of events that have no deeper connection to each other, or to his team's efforts. So even though his business activities fit mainly into one obvious pattern, he had no system of repeatable methods and procedures to enable his cookie-cutter transactions.


    Not only that, but when an opportunity came up that was a real departure from the usual, numerous mistakes were made in getting things going. He and his team were so deeply locked in their unseen routine that they didn't have the ability to be nimble and responsive. They had a very hard time getting the right things done.


    So, what are the great leaders doing with their great bodies of thought? They're building models of their business universe with relevant knowledge, information and data. When possible these include time dependent trends on the market changers.


    Once they have a working model universe built, they construct the system needed to conduct successful business strategies. This system is built out of methods and procedures that deliver powerful tactics all the way from initial marketing to paying just the right amount of tax. Many methods and procedures already exist, so they need only to be modified to the leader's specific business purposes.


    This kind of system-level thinking is rarely a natural gift. However, people who commit to understanding the universe as it affects their business learn enough to beat their competition, i.e., those who won't commit to a larger level of understanding.


    You don't need to scream at people to “get things done” if you've given them the tools to mine the universe. Remember, these aren't metaphorical ideas. These were standard operating procedures where I led teams at NASA. Get the book!


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M110719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Leaders — Culture — Balance — Power

    Those of us who are already in the LO+FT community always roll our eyes and crack a little smile when we hear someone wisely suggest, “Lead by example.” There are, oh, about a half a dozen reasons why we react that way, but to step away from the snark, let's look at just one: The example is in operation 24 X 7 whether it's a good example or not!.


    Balanced Glass

    Is your company just teetering
    or
    does it take off on schedule every time?

    Blue Angels

    (photos - toa-heftiba, cibi-chakravarthi - unsplash)


    Let's side-step the “good example vs. bad example” discussion for now. The important thing to focus on is the power of this continuous example on the members of the team. The habits of the leader will also form in various guises within the parts of the team that have the most contact with that person.


    In an organization where the leader does NOT take an active role in engineering the group's culture, the culture will evolve unattended as an expression of the leader's most vivid and frequently observed habits. Each member of the team will simply adopt a subset of the leader's habits that fit the team member in some way. If the leader is good, then the team ought to exhibit increasingly good habits. But if the example from the leader is bad, then it's likely that the organization's mission will suffer because everyone is out for self (a typical case, anyway).


    So let's look at this in terms of organizational sustainability. All (really, ALL) organizations exist in a state of balance called (in physics anyway) unstable equilibrium. That means that the organization can keep going “as is” as long as any shocks it experiences aren't too big. Think of trying to balance a BB on a basketball. It'll stay there for a little while, but it doesn't take much to knock it off. For our discussion, most organizations have leaders that aren't good enough to take the business to new heights, but they're not bad enough so that everyone quits, either.


    By contrast, a leader can pick a cultural direction that raises the organization's fortunes. In physics, again, balance means that nothing is moving. For all the talk in leadership and management literature, the last thing a growth company needs is balance. But the proper application of a moving force, to get the effect you want, means you have to engineer the machine to get the force right.


    Well, LO+FT is explicitly about crafting a corporate culture that gets the whole team pushing on the mission in the same direction. That's a lot of power that you can use to achieve goals that ordinary mortals only dream about. LO+FT people don't merely believe that corporate culture can be engineered to produce desired outcomes. LO+FT people actually train new habits into their teams when the time comes to take off in a new direction...habits to generate mission success!


    We've already written the LO+FT manual, Optimizing Luck. You can really build cultures of success!


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M110719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Three Steps to Break Barriers:
    Powerful Leadership Tool

    No matter where you believe yourself to be in your development as a leader, the skill that will drive your growth most quickly is the skill to break any barrier you face. Not only that, but the better you become at breaking barriers, the sooner you realize that your organization's fortunes absolutely depend on your acceptance that barriers will always be a part of your professional life.


    Break Out

    If you're the leader, figure out who the best person to be the first person through the barrier might be (tats optional). It might not be you. (photo - toa-heftiba - unsplash)


    Except for unusual and extreme cases, your barriers will scale to your current leadership situation. It might not feel that way, but it is usually true. And this simple truth is something that you will have to remind yourself of whenever troubles hit your organization. Since a more or less continuous sequence of barriers is part of leadership, you start to build your resiliance by accepting barrier breaking as simply one item in your job description.


    How do you get started breaking a barrier? Step One: You abandon the age-old maxim, “It's lonely at the top.” That means you seek out the two or three people who understand the barrier the best, and build out as complete of a description of the barrier as you all can.


    Once you have that description mapped out, you can build out Step Two: Build the barrier breaking plan of action. Now you seek out your two or three best solution builders, and together you all use the barrier description as your basis for the solution's requirements. Your solution builders will map out the plan of action to break the barrier down.


    Step Three, of course, is to execution the solution's plan of action. Now you assemble your best action people, and work out the specifics on the barrier-breaking project plan. Let them divide up the work, set the schedule to meet any critical time constraints, and then get started straight-away.


    Obviously, you are closely involved in the formulation of the barrier-breaking solution, but it's your ability to delegate the majority of the creative process to your team that brings about success. You lead, because that's your main function, but you delegate because it's their job to get the barrier removed.


    Since this process usually requires some habit replacement, we're going to aim you at one of our grade school ebooks, Building Habits to Win. Let's face it, simply rebuilding a habit is a big barrier breakthrough!


    Order and Download Building Habits to Win Now


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M102919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Three Strategies to Destroy Business Chaos

    I've got a customer who thinks planning is for idiots. I've got a customer who thinks investing in a good process is a waste of time and money. I've got a customer who frequently gets lost in his own cluster of haphazardly collected business apps.


    Chaos to Order

    Like the whole Universe, your business universe has recurring rules that you can use to build success. (photo - digital-adoption.com)


    So, let's start out with Strategy One: Continuous Learning! This means learning new things, as pointed out by my good friend, Dr. Douglas Witherspoon, now CEO and Chief Scientist of HyperJet Fusion Corp., in the video below:



    The garden variety business owner, manager, or self-styled leader, might look like someone who's always reading the next big book on modern leadership, or enlightened leadership, or emotionally intelligent leadership. But instead of learning new things from these materials, they are only sniffing out the ideas that comfirm the correctness of their dear, old business habits. It's all ego building, and no brain building.


    Chaos comes about in these cases because the leader is applying a viewpoint that has precious little applicability to current business realities. People have changed, markets have changed, communication channels have come and gone. Of course, this presumes that at one point these non-learning leaders actually knew what they were doing at one time. It's possible/likely that they never knew how to lead or manage, the truth be told.


    Let's turn to Strategy Two: Process. People without good working processes are condemned to treat every event or opportunity as if it never happened before. If their responses to events are prone to mistakes, they will repeat mistakes over and over. They will have to play catch-up ball fixing mistakes and learning for the umpteenth time how to do something that should have been a company routine, relatively error free. So, chaos repeats itself, perhaps even to the point where it becomes an accepted part of the company's culture. This is what makes investing in a good process so valuable: What initially appears to be a waste of time and money saves you many times over compared to stumbling around in business activities that competitors locked down years ago.


    That leaves Strategy Three: Planning, as the last strategy to destroy chaos. There are two chaos-eliminating aspects of planning. The obvious one is that you map out the steps and actions your organization needs to perform over a given period of time. It's a great map to have, and again, eliminates the time lost with “What do we do next?” types of questions. Second, though, is that planning is a form of education that plants powerful images about the company's future in the minds of the leadership team, which then helps the leaders form similar images in the minds of the people who actually generate the value bought by the markets. Shared vision across the organization is a powerful, chaos-fighting element in a strong corporate culture.


    The odd thing about chaos is that the people who are most deeply mired in it are the least able to see it. They think that chaos is “situation normal...” I'll admit that it's common in many organizations, but it doesn't have to be accepted as normal.


    Our video series LO+FT Leadership, helps leaders build an anti-chaos perspective on their approaches. These perspectives have worked in the toughest business environment on the planet. They'll work for your organization, too.


    Order and Download LO+FT Leadership Videos Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M102419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The 2nd Form of Delegation:
    Much More Powerful than the 1st

    Everyone knows about the first form of delegation. Some people even use it. It's when you drive tasks down to your reports. You leverage your ideas and decisions by having ever larger numbers of people work on them. Now, that's a great start!


    Three Guys

    Delegation Form Number Two: Drive the team's knowledge back up to the C-Suite. (photo - austin-distel - unsplash)


    When I was given my first real managerial position, I was very intimidated. I was running the second most visible section of our satellite project, the astrophysics research center. This was a team full of brilliant people who had been on this job for an average of 10 years. Other than directives handed down by our government customer, I had nothing to offer these people.


    Shortly after taking over, the customer makes his first major request. He'd like to have things ready to go in two weeks. I gather the team and say, “Don has these things he'd like to have done. I'd like to get these to him by the end of this week. How do you guys go about making these kinds of deliveries?” So they explain it to me, plain and matter of fact. “Wow,” I thought, “these guys really live up to their reputation.” It gets better than that...


    ...They had it all ready to go, final delivery and everything tested, in two days!


    That's all the encouragement I needed to simply ask the questions. My life became an enjoyable series of things like, “I've got these five requirements for some really slick system upgrades. How should we approach this?”, where they'd respond something like, “Well, if you're going to take that direction, then you'll need to include these five other requirements to round out the capabilities set...”


    I've never looked back on that approach to delegation. It's always been, “Here's what we need to do. How do you think we should do it?”, and I let the experts do their thing.


    You see, like the first form of delegation, you still get to leverage your ideas and decisions through ever larger numbers of people. But now, with the second form of delegation, you get to leverage the collected knowledge of your team to get the work done even more quickly with higher quality. If you've hired well, which is an important premise, then you ought to be able to make powerful use of this two-part approach to delegation.


    We work through these concepts to help you delegate more effectively in Optimizing Luck. They worked in the toughest business environment on the planet. They'll work for your organization, too.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M101619 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Absolutely Urgent Necessity to Think for Yourself!

    My grandfather was a pretty deep thinker with some really rough edges. He once told me, “If you got two people who think exactly alike, you only need one of them. Shoot, you could kill one and get along just fine with the other.” Those of you who have never heard of Michigan hyperbole might be uncomfortable with that sentiment. Grampa was merely making the point memorable, not suggesting a course of action.


    Thinking Woman

    You can't make your special contributions if you don't think for yourself. If you follow the herd, or the pack, or the lemmings, you have in truth rendered yourself useless. (photo - christopher-sardegna - unsplash)


    In the middle 20th Century, thinking for yourself was considered the prize jewel of American freedom. Farmers with 8th grade educations could chop through the news that affected them better than any group of today's TV talking heads. I know first hand; sometimes I could even keep up! They weren't just blathering their opinions past each other, either. They were making use of simple, but effective, forms of critical thinking to get more out of their farmland efforts and investments.


    By contrast, today's America could get along just fine with two Republicans and four or five Democrats on Capitol Hill. Maybe fewer if you spread them out just right. Congress is a pretty weak, if not extremely expensive, brain trust.


    How does your organization handle independent thinkers? Are they assets or liabilities?


    In my NASA team, we needed independent thinkers. Our missions were too complex for any one person to wrap their head around them. Yeah, we all had pretty much the same training. Physics is physics after all. But our minds didn't use those tools in a standardized way. And because of that, we could count on each other to find each other's mistakes and keep the mission from “crashing.”


    So independent thinking wasn't merely tolerated. It was a valuable necessity. We even went so far as to map out how it worked so other people leading high-risk, high-tech ventures could benefit more from independent thinkers.


    If you're the boss, determine for yourself if you prefer the safety of numbers supplied by large numbers of “yes-men,” or if you prefer the value generated by creative, independent thinkers. Not independent loudmouths, mind you. The value of real thinkers.


    If you're in the managerial chain, how does the culture direct you to use your voice? Perhaps you don't care because you've found a comfortable situation. But if you do feel you have contributions to make, are you in a company where you can put them on the table for real consideration?


    Here's our map for making use of independent thinkers for fun and profit: Optimizing Luck. It worked in the toughest business environment on the planet. It'll work for your organization, too.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M100919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Three Steps to Set Up a Person for Success

    I'm working with a small corporate client whose aspirations are requiring it to shift gears. Presently, they have little practical experience with the art of delegation. Up to this point in time, the principals have operated as solo professionals; their book of business was small enough to support personally. Now, they want to deploy their small staff into new responsibilities, but they don't know how to do it so that it works.


    Female Leader

    You can't just stuff an inexperienced person into a new role, cut him loose, then “rip him a new one” when he doesn't succeed. (photo - advocate.com)


    In recent history there has been much frustration in the leadership ranks on the inability of junior personnel to simply “step up and get it done.” The owners judge their personnel as they might judge themselves. “I can figure anything out,” said one owner. “Why can't they?”


    Well, the answer to that is obvious. These junior people weren't hired to provide skills that empower independent research, and so they don't have such skills. That being said, the staff is a group of really bright people. Perhaps all they need to perform to the company's new needs and vision is a different approach for handling personnel on the part of the owners. New needs strongly suggest a new approach, don't they?


    Well, then, here are three steps, perhaps, more like phases, for setting people up for success when new business conditions require it.


    1. Get them each trained in the new skills they will use most often going forward.

    2. When assigning a new piece of work, especially something big, or long term, or unusually complicated, be sure to describe the nature of the work in as much detail as is available.

    3. As the work progresses, provide willing mentoring as needed to help the junior person find ways through their barriers more quickly.


    There's no point in griping about the cost of training if your business really depends on people having new skills. Just make good choices in the skills required, the effectiveness of the training provider, and reasonable price point. It's not rocket science (I know).


    And don't whine about the amount of work you have to put into the work description. The more everyone knows and understands about the new piece of work, including you, the owner/leader, the better the project will go. One of the things that is currently under-appreciated by this customer is the value of rich information flow between team members. It raises the company's intelligence corporately. It builds bonds between those who share the information.


    Now, lastly, mentoring. Delegation and mentoring create success for junior individuals in so many ways. There are the short, little one-on-one sessions when something new or unexpected needs to be communicated. There are the quick questions to fill small knowledge gaps. But even better, as the relationship grows, the junior person will internalize the wisdom of the mentor. In an increasing number of cases, the junior person really can watch the mentor lead by example, because they understand the meaning and impact of the mentor's actions. And it will also come to mind with increasing frequency to ask, “What would my mentor do?”


    These leadership behaviors are also instrumental in producing a corporate, or enterprise level, culture of success. The Digital Clones community defines “culture” as the collection of real, behavioral habits through which an organizatin conducts its business. Success might not always be assured, but the habits to produce success can become a vital part of your organization's culture.


    We have written the best known manual for building a success-generating corporate culture: Optimizing Luck. It worked in the toughest business environment on the planet. It'll work for your organization, too.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M100219 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Miracle of Trust: Ethics and Corporate Erosion

    One of my classmates in pastoral training, Jonathan, eventually became the minister of my parents' small church. When I was back in Michigan for Christmas a few years ago we were catching up during one of the member's traditional Christmas party; always a great time. He was telling me about one of his kids teaching English in a church-sponsored high school, which high school was allowed to operate with the blessing of Xi Jinping 's Communist government. “Why is that?”, I asked.


    Rugby Meditations

    If American corporations can get away with murder, so to speak, why shouldn't American individuals start acting that way, too?


    He said, “Well, they're not allowed to proselytize, but they are allowed to teach ethics from a Christian perspective. For thousands of years corruption was simply considered a legitimate part of the government process, and for businesses the crooked fees for dealing with the government were simply accepted as part of the cost of doing business in the country.


    “But when China's economy started booming, and the values of long term deals started hitting the trillian dollar mark, the risks associated with traditional corruption just got too high, and they hit an economic ceiling because of it. The central government saw a whole new reason to develop trust in the economic system of China, and Christian ethics were viewed as one system that was worth exploring for the sake of continuing their growth.”


    Geez, a market-driven rationale for ethics in both business and government. Who knew?


    Trust: a relationship adhesive. You could study trust via ethical philosophy. You could teach it through a religious system. But the bottom line is that in business, you have to experience the trustworthiness of people in the way they handle their agreements. The lower the trustworthiness, the higher the risk, plain and simple.


    I was talking with a new colleague today about a topic that is affected by trust. It didn't come up that way, but here's the issue. He and I both work in the area of informal educational options for gifted and talented kids. The highly visible hot buttons right now include global warming, and the young people are expressing themselve with massive, angry protests. There is gun control, over which the young people are expressing themselve with massive, angry protests. More broadly, the failure of the American economy to raise standards of living for “common people” are causing them to respond with crazy and angry voting choices. Why is all of this happening?


    Because these populations are feeling desperate, and feel that they have nothing left to lose. They've lost trust in their system. Their greatest risks are embodied in the status quo.


    The magic of trustworthiness is exactly like the air around us: You don't notice how important it is until it's gone.


    Well, the kids are now angry, and they're coming for the jobs of the untrustworthy. Get youself a copy of Understand Life by 16: How Will We Look at Life? so you know how they're going to take them.


    Order Your Copy of How Will We Look at Life? Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M092519 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Leadership Magic: Uniting the Power of Many Brains

    History has numerous examples of big, tough guys who can boss around a big bunch of big, tough guys to get them to do big, tough guy stuff as a team. What would it look like if a really smart person could pull together a group of really smart people to be brute-force smart as a team?


    Rugby Meditations

    Are you the kind of leader who can figure out what kind of team to use when, or are you more of a “one-trick pony” kind of frontman? (photo - erik-brolin, olga-guryanova - unsplash)


    Look, there are many business contexts where coordinated brute strength is the solution, or powers a major delivery process. It is also the case, though, that the traditions for building solutions out of those kinds of muscles are very old and very well tested.


    In knowledge work industries those kinds of ancient, physical skill management traditions don't really exist. People keep trying to figure out some kind of magic for leaders in knowledge work companies to follow, but the results haven't been very consistent. The efforts I partcicularly detest are when people attempt to transplant something that worked reasonably well in the manufacturing sector to a knowledge work context. “Oh, but,” they say, “it's a metrics-driven system.” Yeah, well, it took my discipline, physics, the better part of 2000 years to figure out what the right metrics were. Two or three decades of trying metrics on knowledge-based efforts still leaves a lot to be desired.


    So, of course, you'll be asking, “All right, Dr. Genius, Whadda you got?” Well, let's say any leader has three ways to approach a piece of knowledge work.


    1. The leader tells the team, “Here's what needs to get done, and here's how you're all gonna do it.”
    2. The leader tells the team, “The C-suite says we need to make 'X' happen. I think 'Y' is the approach to take. How do we make 'Y' happen?”
    3. The leader tells the team, “The C-suite says we need to make 'X' happen. I think we have a big opportunity to push a vital innovation on this. What's the killer solution for 'X', and how are we going to make it happen?”


    Now, I've personally worked all three of those approaches. You know why I like #3 the best? Because I almost always get to watch the magic of well-coordinated, brute-force intelligence create something eye-popping.


    Knowledge work isn't always about innovation, but when it is, you have to let all of the team's brains bounce the ideas off of each other. There is expertise that can bubble up at the right kinds of prompting by other team members. Once that phase of thinking runs its course, you will usually get to watch a convergence to the novel solution. This will also generate growing excitement in the team. The progress toward the solution speeds up. A good first draft on the concept gets produced, and a great time was had by all.


    Knowing how to facilitate a group mind-meld is a powerful feature in a great corporate culture. Our book Optimizing Luck is the only NASA-proven approach for building strong cultures that succeed in high-risk business contexts. Get a copy to learn how to build more mind-melding into your company.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M091919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Key Leadership Skill: Alignment of Purposes

    “My way or the highway!” is not a purpose alignment strategy.


    Tug of War

    When you don't even know what game you're playing, it's very hard to bring a winning team together. (photo - anna-samoylova - unsplash)


    The legislative houses in the USA and Great Britain are composed of elected officials who act as if the game is “party superiority” instead of “conduct the country's business.” While it's tempting to jump into political commentary here, I only bring up these current pieces of news to illustrate a situation that is common in many businesses, too. Your officers and employees may not be working and playing well together, either.


    What has been your experience when different high-level stake holders forgot that the game in your company was “conduct the company's business”? What happened when some of the players forgot that some of the rules included heavy punishments if broken?


    Did you catch these issues in time, or did your lack of oversight allow big troubles to apparently spring upon you?


    The metaphor of “playing the right game” is only meaningful for groups of people who want the same thing(s). As often as I say I'm not one for sports analogies, they keep cropping up in my writing. So there's the phrase “pulling together,” right? The best example I ever read was The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. It's about the underdog American rowing team that took the gold medal in the 1936 Olympics at Berlin, Germany. A clearer example of a group of people wanting exactly the same thing cannot be found.


    How clear and simple can you make a company mission such that all of the stakeholders will desire it and do what it takes to achieve it? What kind of discipline will you have to rebuild so that all of the needed skills are in the team, and the team knows how to coordinate their efforts to produce success? And most importantly, how do you get the team members to deeply value each other and the contributions they all must make to win?


    Complex businesses make these questions harder to answer. Yet, there are ways to localize and personalize corporate objectives so that buy-in to perform to win can be built. What's the special mix of idealism, personal pride, and financial reward that keeps each team member aligned toward business success?


    “Pulling together” is a powerful feature in a great corporate culture. Our book Optimizing Luck is the only NASA-proven approach for building strong cultures that succeed in high-risk business contexts. Get a copy to learn how to build a fully aligned company.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M091119 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Three Requirements for Large-scale Cooperation

    Boris Johnson is queing up to join the growing list of British Prime Ministers who badly, or completely, misread the social forces and resulting political conditions surrounding his/her administration. How come this trend at bad political engagement is becoming so consistent, irrespective of the political philosophy of the Minister?


    Boris Johnson

    You don't have to be crazy to be detached from reality. To initiate your detachment, start by rejecting the concept of “factuality.” (photo - getty)


    If you're a decision maker for a major organization (be it commercial, public sector, or non-profit) how well are you connecting with stakeholders that relate to your organization? Or, how well are your departments engaging each other? Some of you will be doing reasonably well, and others of you will be sitting in the same boat with the latest crop of British Prime Ministers.


    Would any of you care to do better at your collaborative activities? If so, here's a distillation of an approach that has been working well for some international collaborative groups for several hundred years.


    1. You have to have a body of facts that you all agree to.
    2. You have to have methods you all agree are the best that you can all use to collect those facts.
    3. You have to have methods you all agree are the best that you can all use to debate the meaning of those facts.


    Let's start with Bullet 1: If you ain't got no facts in common, you ain't even got anything to misread.


    This is what I'm referring to in the photo caption. Real measurements on things made in the real world are the closest thing you can get to reality. If you ain't talking about real degrees of ocean warmth, or number of parts made in a factory, or dollars actually spent on real refugees, you ain't talkin' about nuthin'. If the problem you wish to discuss with another major party isn't defined by real numbers obtained by real people attempting to measure or otherwise quantify critical facts about a serious situation, you and the other party will never even begin to talk about the same thing...you have no shared reality.


    Bullet 2 means that you have to have standardized ways of making measurements and collecting facts. Let's look at this closely. In current political arguments, one party either doesn't like where the other guy got their facts, or they don't like the way they got their facts. This is often a legitimate criticism. However, until two conversing parties actually come to an agreement on the processes that are believed to deliver facts from the real world, there will never be trust in the other party's facts.


    That leaves us with the toughest bullet to bite. Intellectually, this is the most challenging. Bullet 3 requires that the conversing parties actually share a worldview. In a field like physics, this allows us to debate the meaning of unexpected results, that is, hard facts (as in Bullet 1) that came from our standardized laboratory practices (as in Bullet 2). In fields like politics, it requires the players to agree on the higher purposes to obtain their working worldview, and place their specific viewpoints in service to those higher purposes. This all strongly implies that we start electing better educated people with deep skills of discernment to solve the big problems.


    I talked a lot about the process of learning things from the real world. For that reason, I'm going to recommend one of our best grade school ebooks for this blog post: Build Your Own System of Rules. The emphasis is on learning how to watch the world around you in order to obtain usable facts for leadership roles.


    Order Your Copy of Build Your Own System of Rules Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M090519 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Disproportionately Strong, Real World Impact of Bovine Scat

    So, off and on through the day I catch a little of the Mueller testimony on Capitol Hill. Here I am, trained as an astrophysicist, and I understand that obtaining a grasp of reality is exceptionally difficult. The big difference between astrophysicists and politicians is, well, at least we try!


    Big Babies Top

    What can you expect from a profession based on winning beauty contests by manipulating perception on a grand scale? That depends on how gullible the audience is! (painting - ©Jonathan Heath - “Attack of the Big Babies”)


    It's been aggravating watching elected officials attempt to help Mr. Mueller interpret his report on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. Which words define a crime vs. which words define a non-criminal act which may or may not have legal implications? What's Constitutional vs. what's a tradition with little or no Constitutional support? Physics ain't perfect, but at least we know we have to lock those kinds of things down so we can all be talking about the same thing in our discipline, especially when there are measurable conflicts active in our scientific community.


    Getting two groups of people to come to common terms is difficult even in those cases where people are coming to the table in good faith. Well, then, what kind of terms do you get when neither group is coming to the table in good faith?


    Ahhh, that's when the participants are producing large amounts of bovine scat, or, (as they like to make contractinos in big pharma commercials) BS. Or, since BS has some questionable history in its usage, let's use “bo–scat” for this blog post.


    All right, so, we know bo–scat is used to recreate reality for various kinds of followers and believers. The Mueller testimony produced a collision of two bo–scat generated worlds for easy viewing on TV. (There are those, then, who would say that “three worlds colliding” was on display, but perhaps Mueller's world was composed of a smaller amount of fertilizer.)


    The alarming power of bo–scat is its ability to transport people off of the real world, educate them in blatant gibberish, and beam them back to earth to put the gibberish into operation. The social effects are demonstrably massive, and frequently unforeseen. Everyone acts on what they believe; does what they believe lead to large-scale actions that improve conditions for people generally, or are the bo–scat inspired people of the world themselves suffering badly from unintended consequences.


    Now, this type of bo–scat generated social force doesn't affect only national politics. It affects your organization, too. Almost everyone in your organization detects changes in the volume and composition of bo–scat as it comes down from on high. In a high bo–scat organization, risk and innovation die because decision trends are either unsupportable by the facts, which some people do have in hand, or the decision trends are volatile. Your organization is likely to bump along OK, but the business news media doesn't cover mediocrity.

    Big Babies Bottom


    Facts and real data are the fuel of the modern enterprise. Our book Optimizing Luck pre-supposes a love of good data on the part of management and leadership. Get a copy to learn how to build a great company without bo–scat.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M072419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Temptation to Re-invent the Wheel

    The legendary wheel has been around for a long, long time. Archeological evidence suggests that it was used to make pull toys long before it was put to use on animal-drawn transportation. Small things tend not to persist as long as big things, so the absence of animal-drawn carts and horse-drawn chariots from the same time periods of wheeled toys might indicate how long it took “smart” people to overcome the “toy bias,” and build new business applications from this simple machine.


    Wheels

    Trying to re-invent the wheel, or just putting the wrong wheel on the wrong vehicle? If it's about rolling well in business, then it's about speed and a smooth ride! (photo - tania-melnyczuk - unsplash)


    There's something unhelpful that I'm starting to encounter in small businesses. The basis of this is actually something that ordinarily would be thought of as good: Reading about successful business builders and using their ideas. The unhelpful aspect of this is that some of the small business owners and entrepreneurs reading these good stories attempt to take the business model described in the book as completely transferable to their own fledgling business.


    To be fair, there are two kinds of small business/entrepreneurial contexts here to consider. If you are poised to unleash a truly disruptive business on the world, taking an Amazon-like model into your business might work. But those kinds of businesses are genuinely rare, and we all need to watch out for the trap of thinking of our business in over-glorified terms. It's much more likely that your business conforms to a small number well-tested models that will get you to your desired business results much more quickly.


    A business model and a management structure need to make things easy to learn and easy to do. You can have a simple business, like renting people as temporary workers. That's not what Amazon does; why use that model for a simple staffing business? You burn a lot of excess overhead using something like Amazon when you probably should be looking at Kelly Services. You might not think Kelly is as sexy as Amazon, at least not until you see how much easier it is to get your staff cranking efficiently and the money starts rolling in.


    I was discussing this with another consultant, and he suggested that an entrepreneur might want to put something more up-to-date in as a business model in preparation for rapid growth. That's not a bad point. Let's go back to wheels, and maybe add “shifting gears” as a business growth idea.


    You start out as a local delivery business. You do the minimal legal work to use the family SUV as your delivery vehicle. Six months later you've got six handy delivery trucks, the family SUV is taking kids to soccer like it should, and one of your customers says, “Hey, my brother's got a parts business. Have you got a big rig for overland transport?” What do you do?


    If you think your growth is in local delivery, then you just do more of the same. Do you want to jump into big-rig, long-haul freight? You might be looking at shifting gears into a different type of business model. But until you needed the long-haul business model, there was no need to build it into your business.


    Now, in either case, there was no need to invent a business model. You look for one that fits to get you started. Then you study up on what's been driving your progress, and look for some new models that look like a good fit for the next phase of your business...just shift gears!


    The trick is to figure out which models might optimize your luck. Our book Optimizing Luck provides a framework for understanding your organization as a system of habits that you can re-engineer to create habitual success at all levels. The right model will help your whole team become a luck optimizing force for your business.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M071919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Three Leadership Pitfalls of Micro-management

    I've seen two young entrepreneur/business owners do it. They ran their companies as if no one else had a useful brain in their heads. And in both cases, they managed down to their lowest expectations. Individual performance was lack-luster, and their businesses limped painfully along for a decade or so.


    Mean Manager

    Even if you're not nasty about it, micro-management, by definition, can only lead to very small results. (photo - icons8-team - unsplash)


    Setting aside the debate on the differences between leadership and management, it's all about the productivity of the relationship between the boss (of whatever title) and the worker (of whatever function). Relative power differences can work for or against this productivity. So can skill set differences. But these are just the backdrop conditions. The real issue is the power of respect that's earned between boss and worker.


    Pitfall 1: Treating People Like They Have No Brains


    Sure, it's often the case that some managers or business owners inherit the hires of other people. But I continue to be amazed at the number of managers who hire people that they think of, or treat as, or call idiots. I simply, personally, cannot fathom why anyone would hire someone they think of as an idiot. Now, such a manager is likely to say, “Look, I didn't know they were an idiot when I hired them.” Actually, I can believe that. But somehow, probably reinforced by the patterns of outcomes from their hiring history, they knew they were hiring someone they could bully on the basis of intelligence.


    Or, in other words, they wanted to hire someone they could abuse. Job requirements and business performance were secondary considerations at best. The hire was, instead, all about filling a dark need.


    I can't imagine hiring anyone for any other reason that do to a job well. I'm too cheap to pay for non-business reasons, and I'm too lazy to do the work that I want the new hire to do. I want to hire a well-qualified person to do the job, and I hire for a high level of independence as well as job skill qualifications.


    Pitfall 2: Treating People Like Speed is the Only Thing That Matters


    Urgency and impatience will drive certain kinds of worker responses. In my case the response is, “Geez, another pinhead who can't plan and execute.” I started my career in old, legacy ventures who had plenty of past experience and still made big errors in planning and scheduling big jobs. It's really hard to do well. Working without a plan means that the only thing you can produce reliably is a long, continuous string of business-killing errors.


    If people need to work fast, then hire people who can generate the results with the required speed. Understand that most people can't without special training and deep experience that includes high-speed delivery. And like I said in a recent blog, if you can't afford to hire the right people for a job, don't waste time and money hiring people who can't get the needed work done.


    Pitfall 3: Jumping into a Worker's Assignments to Speed Them Up, or Fix/Redirect Their Bad Direction


    “Look, you're doing it all wrong...” Sure, that's a possibility. Another possibility is that the worker is doing the work completely differently, but is doing at least as well as or better than the method in the boss's mind. Nonetheless, the manager will proceed to do the worker's assignment in many cases, or dictate the set of steps for the worker to take right then and there.


    Well, if both the manager and the worker are going to be doing the same job, you only need one of them. I'd save the money and fire the micro-managing manager.


    Sure, there's more than one way to become a great manager or leader, but they are very rare compared to all of the ways you can become a badly performing manager. Our book Optimizing Luck provides a framework for understanding your organization as a system of habits that you can re-engineer to create habitual success at all levels.


    Order Your Copy of Optimizing Luck Today


    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    CEO
    Digital Clones, Inc.


    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M071419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Modern Enterprise Leadership and LO+FTTM

    Optimizing Luck Cover
    1

    Study the present very carefully to build possible versions of the future.

    2

    Generate strategic options based on those possible futures.

    3

    Work quickly to create long lead times, and watch events carefully to select the best options.


    Optimizing Luck
    Get Your Copy Now!