“Genki” is a word my Japanese colleagues frequently use to describe me. They tell me it means I am cheerful and fun, but I’m pretty sure it is a secret code meaning that I’m noisy, wild, and just a tad scary. Nevertheless somewhere around five dozen people turned up for the book launch party for the Japanese version of “Scrappy Project Management” last night, and they all seemed pretty “genki” to me. One of the party guests, who was a graduate of one of our six month Global Leadership Development Programs this past year gave a rousing congratulations speech. The highlight was when he asked the audience to participate with him as he “challenged convention” in such a speech, removed his suit jacket, rolled up the sleeves on his crisp business shirt, and then got everyone flinging their arms in the air while shouting “Exciting!” to help express his feeling about the whole book lalapalooza. His final wish was that I become a billionaire, but I’m not sure if he meant dollars, yen, or rupees.
The practical and slightly wacky guide to project management realism was just released in Japanese by the biggest business book publisher in Japan, Nikkei Business Press. The Japanese version of Scrappy Project Management was translated by an experienced senior executive, Tack Tanaka, who claims that he found it deep, insightful, and . . . well, a heck of a lot of fun! This translation came as a result of the books popularity in the US, my monthly trips to Japan over the past 4 years working to transform the mindset and results of Japanese business leaders, and . . . well, luck. In fact, this is yet another example of something that seemed impossible, and then happened nonetheless. The editor liked the word “Scrappy”. Ironically there is no literal translation of this word into Japanese, so Tack had a very tough job!Continue reading
In 2008 Kenichi Ohmae’s “Business Breakthrough, Inc.” filmed 14 episodes of me ranting and raving about “Breakthrough Leadership”. (Ohmae-san is famous for having directed McKinsey’s Japan and Asia Pacific operations, and writing many popular business books, like The Borderless World” and “The Mind of the Strategist”.) It was a thoroughly terrifying experience, which I described in gory detail in a previous blog. Someday soon they’ll be shown on Japanese business TV. Here are the Power Points for the first episode. It’s just not the same without the video (as with all PPT, you might be tempted to say “I don’t FEEL the power and I certainly don’t SEE the point!”), but for now it will have to do. Let me know if you want a copy of this first set for your very own and I’ll send you a pdf. The who series of PPT can be viewed on slideshare by clicking on the link above the PPT in this blog.
In the videos that accompany the PPT, I speak quite slowly so that non-native English speakers will be able to easily understand what I’m saying, even when I’m ranting. (They’ll be sold through BBI.) Let me know if you want to hear when they are released (email@example.com) and I’ll drop you a line and a link. You can always play them with the sound off to amuse your cat! – Kimberly
If you’ve ever been inside of a tin of sardines you will have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to ride the subways of Tokyo during rush hour – only in the subway the sardines are still alive. Even though we are packed together with greater intimacy than most sexual encounters, my inscrutable Japanese companions manage to wear a mask of serenity and composure. Most of my fellow riders have their eyes fixed on their mobile phones, looking up train schedules, checking email, texting their pals, or doing a little shopping on-line. These 21st century urban dwellers use their phones for everything! (I’m told that the average mobile phone purchase in Japan is over $50!) My phone works there, but it costs a bundle per minute, something approaching the cost of a college education, so I tend not to use it much. Instead, I’m looking around to see if anyone else notices that those of us fortunate enough to have a seat have our faces at crotch-level with the people standing.Continue reading
Thomas Edison, when asked why he had a team of twenty-one assistants “If I could solve all the problems myself, I would.” Another rather amusing fellow I know said “There is no “I” in TEAM, but there is an “I” in WIN!” Whatever your philosophy, working in a team is challenging, especially when separated by distance and time zones. Team work requires taking into account the views of others with whom you may not agree, and working with people who may seem irritating, stubborn, or just plain sociopathic at times. And there is always some level of conflict, which most people don’t enjoy (although some people argue for sport!), so the road of “journey shared” can be a bit rocky at times.Here are some survival tips based on my 20 years of working in teams:
AVOID TEAM WORK!
– Well, only if you don’t NEED a team, of course! If you can accomplish the goals without investing your time and energy into building a team, avoid working in a team. Teams should only be used to accomplish what cannot be accomplished alone. If you are playing a game that only a team can win, you’d better have a team!
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb
CHOOSE TEAMMATES CAREFULLY
– OK, we don’t always have a choice of who’s on our team. But, your individual success will be tied to the success of the team, so when you do have a choice, be selective in choosing teammates. Personality clashes and lack of shared values are a recipe for lots of angst and very little progress. I’ve quit plenty of teams, and even jobs, to escape torturous teammates. Life is just too short!Continue reading
“Hey, has anyone seen my rubber chicken?” He goes with me everywhere as I travel the world spreading the word about breakthrough leadership and execution excellence. You might say he’s a “frequent flyer”, or perhaps even a “frequent fryer”. One thing is for sure, he’s vital to my work, which mainly focuses on helping people overcome the biggest obstacle to their success – their own self-limiting assumptions and beliefs. When I want to help people learn something from the rubber chicken I just hold him at shoulder height and release him. “What causes the chicken to fall?”, I ask. “Gravity?” That’s not the answer I’d give. Not if I was determined to be a menace to mediocrity, a person who is committed to creating breakthroughs in their projects and in their life. No, “gravity” is the victim’s retort. The real reason the chicken falls is because I released him.Now there is always “gravity” out there on our projects – things we can’t control – but it’s no use rocking back and forth moaning “woe is me” while all hell breaks loose on the project. When the doo-doo hits the fan a true project leader asks “How did I contribute to this and what do we need to do now to deal with this?” It seems like a simple enough lesson, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to learn. It takes courage to accept responsibility for what is happening around us, to avoid blaming circumstances and other people, and to focus on what we can do to make a positive difference. Winston Churchill said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” Continue reading
Last week I spent 3 days in a TV studio in Tokyo filming 7 hours worth of my maniacal approach to breakthrough leadership. The 14 thirty minute shows will first air on Japanese business TV, and then be available for all the world to see on a broad band learning channel associated with one of the most successful global business schools in all of Japan, Kenichi Ohmae’s Business BreakThrough organization.
When I met Mr. Ohmae he was sporting a painting of a little soldier on his fingernail, something entirely out of alignment with everything the “experts” had told me about stodgy old Japanese businessmen. (I guess the world is changing faster than the experts can keep up!) Now 10 years ago I would have considered this video opportunity a dream come true. But the only feeling that I had as I pushed my way through the teaming masses in the humid subways of Tokyo was complete and utter terror. “Make love to the camera.” my friend advised. I just hoped I’d get to be on top. Continue reading
Unless you’ve spent your entire career with your face bathed in the light of your computer monitor, you’ve probably come across the concept of emotional intelligence. Popularized by Daniel Goleman at the end of the last century, emotional intelligence, or “EQ”, can be condensed to three criteria: self-awareness, the awareness of our impact on others, and the good sense to make better choices as a result of that awareness. (I’m not recommending increased awareness, mind you, because I was a heck of a lot happier when I thought other people were to blame for all of my problems. But if you want to be an effective leader you’ll probably have to risk it.)
There’s no guarantee that a bunch of high EQ people will form a high EQ team (witness the US presidential campaign), but it’s a good start. Reflecting on a couple of decades of leading and working in teams, I’ve had the opportunity to work in teams that that were emotionally intelligent, and in teams with the collective “EQ” of a scallop. Emotionally intelligent teams are a lot more fun, and get way better results. The Enneagram, available from The Enneagram Institute and numerous other sources, is one tool that I’ve found extremely useful for increasing the EQ of a team.Continue reading
For years I thought I was a bitch. Then I realized I was just scrappy! When I was younger I wanted people to think I was nice, but then I noticed that it was a lot easier to get my way if I was pushy. Unfortunately, being a bully works. Over the years I’ve made numerous trade offs between my integrity and some business result that I pushed a little too hard to get. But even when I thought I was just being appropriately persistent, determined or intense, I’ve noticed that it’s a fine line between bitch and doormat. Presented with what appeared to be a choice between these two opposites, I gravitated towards bitch every time.
Some people tell me that the world is a spectrum of possibilities, that I needn’t choose between the extremes, that I tend to perceive the polar endpoints rather than more moderate options. It has only been in the last 5 years or so that I’ve begun to realize that there are more moderate approaches, like being firm yet tactful, or gracious, yet determined. But these approaches require a great deal of self-awareness, skill and care, so when I’m tired, or stressed out, well, bitch wins.Continue reading
Scrappy means ATTITUDE.
Scrappy means not relying on a title to be a leader.
Scrappy means being willing to take risks and put yourself out there.
Scrappy means doing the right thing, even when you don’t feel like it.
Scrappy means having the steely resolve of a street fighter.
Scrappy means sticking to your guns even if you’re shaking in your boots.
Scrappy means being committed beyond reason to making a difference.
Scrappy means caring about something more than you care about being comfortable, socially acceptable, or politically correct.
Scrappy means being absolutely, totally committed to extraordinary results.
Scrappy means EDGY! . . . and is your edge in achieving outrageous results even when they seem impossible.
The Scrappy Guides help you muster the courage and commitment to pursue your goals-even when there is no evidence that you can succeed. They will be your shield against the naysayers who will try to undermine you, and they will give you comfort during the inevitable failures that accompany most worthy pursuits. When you fail, fail fast, fail forward, in the direction of your goals, lurching fitfully if you must. Continue reading