Working Wider


Working Wider Begins @ Home: An IBM Case Study

If working wider interests you, read IBM’s 2009 Annual Report.  What you’ll see is a veritable poster child for how a large company teaches itself how to think and work wider.  Even better, what they’ve done applies to any size company. Let’s ground our discussion in results.  Started just two years ago, their Growth Markets [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Behavioral Change Lags Technology in the New Public Square

Starting with web sites, then blogs and now social networks, the Internet provides a virtual and expansive version of the old public square.  Web sites replace the colonial homes and stores that surround it.  If Thomas Paine were alive today, “Common Sense,” would be posted on a blog rather than the square’s bulletin board.  Social [...]

New & Emerging Control Paradigms

If our corporate control structures were uncooked spaghetti, dropping them into the wider environment softens them like boiling water.  Working wider, requires us to challenge the central premise of corporate hierarchy: control. Our mental reflexes are so tuned to hierarchical control that imagining a world without it is difficult.  Corporations and Congress are quick to [...]

Overcoming Outdated Control Mindsets with Social Networking

Organizations are like icebergs.  The formal aspects of organization, roles, hierarchy, signing authority, rules, etc., are the 2/5 above the water line.  The 3/5 below the waterline is where the real work gets done through informal relationships supported by implicit norms and culture. Just as drunks are prone to look for their lost keys under [...]

How to Encourage Expansive Thinking

Stress accentuates our most basic fears and predispositions.  When Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was asked what he’s learned about leadership during the recent financial crisis, he said, “I learned about the importance of making sure that everyone in the organization interprets his job or her job expansively…People can get trapped by their context.” When [...]

Working Wider Changes Who You Should Hire

Analysis Group Economics (AG) is a Boston based consultancy that provides economic analysis to lawyers for securing or defending damage awards.  AG’s numbers have to convince a jury which means the numbers as well as the authority and explanation behind them must be clear and beyond reproach.  To meet this challenge, AG has surrounded their [...]

New Citizenship Model Replaces Heroic Leadership

Everyone loves a great hero story.  The problem is that heroes rarely act alone.  Working wider rejects the heroic leader model not because it isn’t emotionally compelling but because it’s increasingly irrelevant.  When working across wider boundaries, it’s the citizens that rule.  The problem there is we think so much about leadership that we undervalue [...]

Change Quickly…but Calmly

A core premise of Working Wider is that the external environment moves and morphs faster than strategy and internal work practices.  In coping, leaders call for consecutive, rapid changes that seek to be responsive but are perceived as hyper-reactive and inefficient as the TSA’s recent response to the so-called “underwear bomber”.  The challenge is to [...]

Leaning into the Future: Wider in Time and Trust

This decade ends in the dust of the global financial crisis.  Many are furious at the banks for their greed and shortsighted compensation schemes.  The response from financiers is that if we don’t pay top people top dollar, we’ll lose talent. Roger Bootle’s Christmas letter this year included a stunning quote from a report by [...]