Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Executing strategy successfully requires teams that are created by design not default and work collaboratively and successfully. 

Leading Effective Teams (LET), our upcoming Stanford course, provides a great way to experience new ways of improving team performance and design with fellow students from around the world. A few places are still available for LET at Stanford September 21-23, REGISTER HERE or call 866-802-1152

TEN QUESTIONS to ask as you work to create and lead your teams:

  1. Why do you need a team? is the work best done in a team, a committee, within existing structures (such as functions), or individually?
  2. What objectives does the team need to meet or exceed?
  3. What are the culture, structure, and strategy of the organization the team is part of?   The IPS-Stanford Strategic Execution Framework (SEF) provides an excellent model for approaching this.
  4. Are the team design, governance, and ways of working based on the organization's culture, structure, and strategy?
  5. What leadership structure makes sense for the team? There is no one style; they can vary from very loose to very hierarchical.  Find what works for you and evolve it as the team grows and learns.
  6. Has the team had an in-person kick-off meeting before the big work begins? Research shows in-person beginnings ensure future success and ease the way for addressing any issues that inevitably arise?
  7. If the team is distributed, what specific activities and ways of working are you using so that all can feel part of the larger team, even though not together?
  8. Are team meetings designed for optimum use of those on the team? do they have a purpose and clear desired outcomes? Meetings should be productive, energizing, and involve all in full participation, not from the side of the desk.
  9. Is the team learning? how do you know? how do you share what is learned so that the entire team and the organization are learning from the team's experiences.  Lessons are not learned if they are not shared.
  10. Teams are the crucible for growing and evolving the organization.  What are you doing to ensure that team members leave the team as better people and with excitement for their next piece of teamwork?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Insights on Apple now and in the future

In our Stanford Advanced Project Management Program we are privileged to have on the faculty one of the most astute observers (and researchers) on how work gets done in organizations today, Bob Sutton.  His blog provides an on-going education for all of us seeking to improve how work gets done.  Bob's August 27 post on what to watch for at Apple is worth a full read...and contemplation.  A few gems include:
...Apple's structure, work practices, and beliefs about how to get done are woven together to support a highly centralized model of decision-making, where very talented individuals and small teams are given specific tasks, individuals are held highly accountable for implementation, and extremely strong cultural, interpersonal, and performance pressures are present.
Although I won't to dig into the debate about trade-offs between centralization and decentralization, centralization works best when leaders face a relatively small number of important decisions, when they find ways to reduce the emotional and cognitive load on the relatively small number of people making major decisions, and tight personal, organizational, and cultural controls mean that decisions from on high are implemented quickly and without much question.  At its best, in a centralized system, there is much confidence in leaders, fast communication up and down, and relatively little time spent on dysfunctional politics (as there is no power vacuum, little second guessing, and severe penalties for ignoring or undermining orders from on high).   Although it is mighty hard to know exactly what is going on in Apple, this description seems to fit most stories and other information about the place under the shared leadership of Jobs and Cook.
Bob provides extensive insights into 5 signs to look for that may presage trouble at Apple.  Read and enjoy his lucid post here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Experience the POWER of culture in real time

In all of our Stanford Advanced Project Management (SAPM) courses we talk about the power of culture in understanding and supporting the execution of strategy.This is a your chance to see a firm whose culture is part of their strategy. You can leanr more and explore their culture at Zappo Insights.

Zappo's is webcasting the Zappos Family All Hands Meeting this Thursday August 11, 2011.

We'll be streaming from the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  One of the Zappos Family Core Values is "Pursue Growth And Learning" and we're excited to feature two guest speakers that will be sharing their revolutionary ideas; Sal Khan, Founder and Executive Director of Khan Academy and Deb Roy, CEO of Bluefin Labs.See their super videos at TED conferences site.

The agenda is also action packed full of Zappos Family speakers with surprises throughout.


When:  Thursday August 11, 2011

Time:  1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time

Click the link below to RSVP.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Maps for changing your strategic mindset

Courtesy of McKinsey Quarterly we have a superb article by Pankaj Ghemawat , Remapping Your Strategic Mindset, with awesome graphics on rooted maps and their use for strategic mindsets. Leaders of global teams, programs, and initiatives will find most useful most useful.
Senior executives need better mental maps to navigate our unevenly globalized world. Although a wide variety of metrics show that just 10 to 25 percent of economic activity is truly global, executives disproportionately embrace visions of unbounded opportunities in a borderless world, where distances and differences no longer matter.
Rooted maps correct a misperception reinforced by conventional ones: that the world looks the same regardless of the viewer’s vantage point or purpose. In the real world, though, geographic distance and differences in culture and policy matter. To better reflect this reality, rooted maps depict the world from a specific perspective and with a particular purpose in mind.
They do so by adjusting the sizes or positions of countries in relation to a specific home country, while otherwise maintaining familiar shapes and spatial relationships, which help us fit these maps into our existing mental models.
This is an example of a rooted map. Teams focused on new products and remaking global corporate processes will benefit from taking a strategic view of their work using this powerful tool.