Working Wider


iPhone 4 & Apple’s Response to Consumer Reports:
Great Storytelling; Lousy Listening

Apple’s iPhone 4 is a stunning product. It also has issues.  Consumer Reports cites it as the best smartphone on the market along with a big “but”.  The “but” is that while the iPhone 4 is very smart, it’s not a reliable phone.  They found a serious design defect with the metal strip antenna that [...]

Strategy, Differentiation & Alignment:
5 Examples from Apple

A strong partner of working wider is thinking wider. This post examines how companies and leaders differentiate themselves. One of my favorite tasks each month is participating in the Band of Angels Screening Committee.  Our task is to winnow six potential deals for start-up funding down to three which will be presented at the monthly [...]

Designing Change: What Would IDEO, Frog or D2M Do?

In the wider world, leadership and leading change are virtually synonymous.  With increased competition, the ability to change rarely happens as fast as we’d like. For example, how many times have you: Solicited input to define a change only to find that while everyone supports change, there are multiple opinions of what it should be [...]

Understanding the New Citizen-Customer

In a prior post, I offered a new corporate citizenship model that replaces heroic management and reflects our world’s growing capabilities and challenges. Today I’d like to turn this lens outward and introduce a parallel new concept: the “citizen-customer”. The citizen-customer reflects the wider set of criteria customers use to make decisions as well as [...]

Note to GM: Push Decisions Out; Not Just Down

Recently General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre attended a meeting to approve the next generation of GM cars and trucks. Before the presentations began, he asked why they were having this meeting in the first place: “Y’all have checked all this out pretty thoroughly.  I imagine you’re not going to approve something that’s bad or unprofitable, [...]

Competing Against the New Autocratic Economies

Rising from the ashes of communism has emerged a new form of competition that is as fast as it is formidable.  I’m speaking of the “autocratic economies,” the most important being China with Viet Nam, South Korea, and Singapore as other examples.  To a large degree, these countries embrace economic democracy while keeping significant political [...]

Building Contribution Communities: Learning from TheatreWorks

This past Monday, forty former board members and spouses of TheatreWorks, a Silicon Valley repertory theatre, gathered in our living room to celebrate the company’s fortieth anniversary and get an inside look into future plans.  Since then, we have received far more thank you calls for hosting this annual event than I’d expect.  This combined [...]

Grooming for the Next Wave:
The Citizen Leader

Most leadership books don’t address in detail how to lead across boundaries because that used to be the job of a few top executives. Today, middle managers and individual contributors regularly find themselves in leadership roles that cross groups, companies and ecosystems. This is what I call working wider. Working wider means that formal power [...]

What Open Source Can Teach Obama About Working Wider

Today, Washington D.C. stands as the antithesis of working wider.  Critical issues including the financial crisis, global warming and health care are batted back and forth like a baseline rally on the championship court at Wimbledon.  After being elected on a platform aspiring to rise above partisanship, President Obama has had little success bridging boundaries [...]

Thinking Wider: Overcoming Blind Spots

I often end diagnostic interviews with leaders asking: “What do you worry about on the drive home?”  Curiously, one answer pops up more than any other: “Something I don’t see coming.” Is being blindsided part of the human condition?  As social creatures, we get most of our opinions from those we already know.  The Palin-Tea [...]

When the Beat Changes…Change How You Lead

The default context for business leadership is the firm.  This was appropriate when stand-alone manufacturing companies in mature economies dominated business.  Today’s economy creates a radically different context for leaders and thus requires a new model.  Credible competition now comes from every continent, particularly developing countries, as innovation and technology fuel service as well as [...]