Archive for January, 2008

New Champions – The Story of Emerging Markets

The lessons of newly emerging champions in the global economy from a Davos CEO forum:
• You have to have a mission. A mission of creating a better world for your children.
• Make impossible things happen.
• Be bold and persevere.
• Be a bridge.
• Rethink cultural biases.
• Rethink where talent is – create talent.
• Empower women.
• Rethink where innovation comes from.
• Create diversity and inclusivity.
• Leverage technology.
• Be flexible and open to the best ideas.
• Keep high ethics and high standards.
• Have a heart to your country.
• Generate business model innovation.
• Don’t be rigid, be adaptive, be open, listen, see, learn and embrace.
• Articulate a clear corporate social and environmental responsibility.
• You need a cause in life. Use business as a model for change.
• Vision comes first. Be a transforming force.

© Aviv Shahar

Collaborative Innovation – The Serendipity Effect

Here are Central themes in the conversation of the Davos CEO Forum about Collaborative Innovation.

  • What happens when you bring people together and they learn to understand and trust each other?
  • How do you connect with different viewpoints to capture disruptive and innovative opportunities?
  • What collective intelligence and brain power can be unleashed in a collaborative environment?
  • How do organizations operate in a “meshed up” world?

This is a robust discussion about these questions and about embracing and harnessing the serendipity effect.

© Aviv Shahar

What Is Your Power?

These are snapshots of Mount Rainier as my plane was taking off from SeaTac airport. I usually prefer to sit by the aisle but on the flight to Houston last week I sat in the left window seat and took my digital camera.

Mount Rainier makes me wonder about latent power…

Power that has not been applied and is being contained has a greater impact than power that has been released. The energy potential is greater before usage. Think about the big guy who does not need to use his power and can be gentle, because his presence alone is a reassurance of threat.

Look around and see that when individuals, groups or nations are forced to use their power they are weakened. The energy potential is diminished. How about this as a mindset when going out into the world? How about appreciating that the power you contain is greater than the power you use? Imagine relationships where people appreciate each other’s presence and power and have no need to apply and use it

That is what Mount Rainier is like. It contains its power. It would be a much weaker mountain if it exploded.

© Aviv Shahar

What is a Coaching Conversation?

The Coaching Conversation is dedicated to improving your ability to succeed, and helping you to move forward and take action. It may feature and include any number of the 32 natures and characters listed below.

Coaching conversation is…
1. Strengths based and
2. Opportunities focused

The conversation is…
3. Challenge embracing
4. Possibilities assessing and creating
5. Observations framing
6. Insights seeking and articulating
7. Capabilities evaluating and
8. Frameworks exploring

The coaching invites and makes possible…
9. Feed-back / feed-forward receiving
10. Priorities sorting
11. Goals setting
12. Strategy framing

Through the coaching conversation we promote…
13. Intelligence and resources gathering
14. Confidence and stature enhancing
15. Blockages removing
16. Action forwarding

The coaching conversation entails…
17. Blind spot revealing
18. Clarity forming
19. Letdown overcoming
20. Closure finding
21. Alignment creating
22. Options generating

Through the coaching conversation you find…
23. Purpose and values re-centering
24. Life and work balance enhancing
25. Results driving
26. Future designing
27. Potential realizing

There are other specific focuses that can become part of a coaching conversation…
28. Management effectiveness improving
29. Stretch assignment enabling
30. “Twelve Environments” organizing
31. Complexity managing
32. Keynote, meeting or conversation preparing

© Aviv Shahar

How Will You Astound Yourself?

Here are Thomas Edison’s words of wisdom:

“If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves….”

Part of the mission of this blog is to bring transformational value to you. The Edison challenge for you is the following:

Imagine what you are really capable of doing… No, for real… Take 10 minutes today to imagine what you are really capable of doing.

  1. What have you always wanted to do but still hold back from doing?
  2. What big dream have you left behind?
  3. If you knew you could not fail, what would you start doing today?
  4. How will you astound yourself this year?
  5. How will you work together with your team to astound each other?

© Aviv Shahar

How Do You Find A Destiny – When Readiness Meets A Need, Actualization Follows: FDR And John Paul The Second

(Excerpt from the third Emerald Key: The Roots Nourish and Grow the Fruit)

FDR struggled immensely with polio away from the public eye. Unbeknown to him and to the American people, he was being made ready as he fought to get through his personal despair and depression. Roosevelt’s resolved determination and will power, which was fashioned during his painful ordeal with polio, is what America needed in the White House to overcome its own crippling despair and depression in the early 30s and the beginning of the Second World War. When readiness meets a need, actualization follows. The readiness and the need are invisible to each other until the meeting point brings them into fulfillment and actualization.

The late Pope John Paul the Second was fascinated in his early teen years with acting. He became enthralled with the power of words and especially with how he could deliver them through the characters such that they would powerfully impact his audience. Together with a small group of his friends he maintained underground theater work even under Nazi occupation of Poland. It is said that there he developed that rare skill sometimes seen with great actors to deliver his words with extraordinary persuasion and power. With his on-stage passion, it became common knowledge with his circle of friends that he would likely enjoy a great acting career. To their surprise he enrolled in the seminary. Little did he know he was becoming ready and had fashioned an inner program to take on a much greater acting role and meet his destiny through serving the Vatican as the first Media pope.

As John Paul walked to the balcony to announce his papacy to the world, it is said that his new role literally descended on him and he found his act. The programmed readiness in his case was the amalgamation of his devotional service to the Catholic Church and his on-stage practice. The readiness met its greater need and the outcome was a perfect union through the act of fulfillment and actualization.

What readiness have you been cultivating? What greater need are you facing in which your fuller realization may be found? The answer may lie ahead or right in front of you. Manifesting greatness now is less likely to play out in the same Churchillian or FDR archetype. We have entered the time of the small great heroes who perform their service and at times miracles when no one sees. You may be the next to carry that torch. What greater need are you called to?

© Aviv Shahar

The Ten Commandments ala Will Smith

This is a great 60 Minutes piece. It’s so good I had to find an excuse to post it here. I therefore made up the Ten Commandments ala Will Smith in the spirit of this interview.

1. You shall view yourself as only slightly above the average talent.
2. You shall have a ridiculously sickening work ethic. When other guys are sleepin’, you shall be workin’. When other guys are eatin’, you shall be workin’. When other guys are makin’ love you shall work hard at makin’ love.
3. You shall have ease and enthusiasm.
4. You shall never accept that there is something you cannot do.
5. You shall love livin’, that’s infectious – that you cannot fake.
6. You shall follow the “no brainer” path (special effects, with creatures, in a love story).
7. You shall make whatever you do look good.
8. You shall ask – “who the hell is Mr. Smith?”, you shall never take yourself too seriously.
9. You shall draw everyone around you into the spot light.
10. You shall be happy doin’ what you do. You shall have a great time. And you shall share it.

© Aviv Shahar

The KEY: It’s Not What You Do

This Key is about a subtle blind spot that sabotaged Jim and many other high performers. Unlock this insight and set yourself free to discover your leadership path.

Jim has been successful at launching his career and it’s gone well. He quickly became known for his ability to get things done and for taking on one responsibility after another. Jim became one of his company’s youngest managers. He had good strategic grasp and was praised for his commitment. He was fast, efficient, decisive and ready to take risks.

Looking around, Jim thought: “To be a leader here I need to demonstrate excellence in what I do, master the business, communicate clearly, present effectively and deliver results. I need to be confident and quick to respond and do better than most.” Feeling good about himself he got to work early every day and focused on getting things done. He told himself: “That’s the way to get ahead here; I need to focus on what I do, on my actions and on getting results. Then, one day, I am going to be a ‘decider’ here.” Discover what happened to Jim and what you can learn from his story here.

© Aviv Shahar

Adizes Insights

The theme of this Blog is “Thoughts for Times of Change.” Recently I spent a few hours reading and thinking about the recent Insights from the Adizes Institute. Ichak Adizes is a pioneer, one of the most important thinkers alive today. He is a “Change Doctor.” Ichak has been a teacher in 32 countries and is a consultant to top managers and heads of states throughout the world. For most of his life he has been building and refining the Adizes methodology.

I first met Ichak in the 2003 World Future Society conference. In a short 30 minute presentation entitled, Is our planet heading to Armageddon, he articulated a few of the building blocks of his thinking and methodology. Here are the bullet points I summarized in my notes:

  1. Change creates problems and opportunities.
  2. Change has been here from the beginning of time. Change is now accelerating.
  3. Everything is a system that is composed out of subsystems – a forest, a human, a family, an organization, a nation and planet Earth.
  4. Problems and opportunities are created because the subsystems of the greater system do not respond to change in synchronicity.
  5. As each subsystem responds in its own time, pace and direction, that lack of synchronicity creates gaps.
  6. Gaps in the system are what we experience as problems.
  7. Therefore, all problems are manifestations of disintegration caused by change.
  8. Every system’s change has a lifecycle. These lifecycles are predictable. Therefore, the problems that arise with them can be addressed proactively.
  9. To manage problems you have to make decisions and implement these decisions.
  10. Decision-making and implementation create conflict.
  11. Conflict can be destructive or constructive.
  12. To stop all conflicts one must first stop all change which is impossible.
  13. It is easier to drive straight into destructive conflict then to choose constructive conflict.
  14. Choosing the exit out of the destructive road toward a constructive road requires that you identify the exit and know how to take it.
  15. The constructive road begins with developing mutual trust and respect. Mutual trust and respect are more than soft words, they are principles that define and guide decision making and behavior.

What impressed me even more than what Ichak said was his depth of insight and the place from which he spoke. Ichak spoke from a place of intimate knowledge of the anatomy of organizational life. In my own work, I have developed a sixth sense for recognizing when people are speaking from a deep engagement with life itself. Ichak has unlocked a secret code, a map of organizations’ life cycle, their traps and remedies, and the principles of sustainable growth and development.

© Aviv Shahar

Innovation Requires “Whole-Brain” Not Just “Right-Brain”

The Economist writes intriguingly about Evan Williams the founder of Blogger and Twitter: “Williams accidentally stumbled upon three insights. First, that genuinely new ideas are, well, accidentally stumbled upon rather than sought out; second, that new ideas are by definition hard to explain to others, because words can express only what is already known; and third, that good ideas seem obvious in retrospect.”

The Economist claims that Williams epitomizes Silicon Valley’s right-brain; truly good stuff but needing a critical addition. It is not right-brain – it is “whole-brain” that makes innovation possible.

Recent decades have popularized the right-brain / left-brain story. Every other person is ready to explain what the functions of each side are, and which side of the brain makes innovation, good leadership, happy relationships and more. We seem to love simplistic answers, especially when we believe them to be backed by hard scientific facts. This list below provides us such confidence:



looks at parts


uses logic

math & science


facts rule




looks at wholes


uses feeling

art & religion


imagination rules




We look at this and think – “well that’s why I am good at this and not good at that…” or “this is why I understand her but cannot connect with him…”

Why do people love to put themselves in boxes (personality types, astrological signs, brain sides and more…) that justify their behavior and explain their experience? Why do we need such labels to explain what makes great leadership, artistic and scientific breakthroughs and innovation? We love the security of telling ourselves right-brain stories supported by left-brain facts. It lets us off the hook of further reflection.

What’s my point?
How many times have we seen that the whole is more than the sum of its parts and how does this apply to the usage of our brain? Isn’t it time we expressed more interest in “whole-brain–whole-mind” functions to discover how it facilitates us to be more complex and complete humans, better innovators and greater leaders and partners?

Innovation is applying ideas to create valuable results where it matters. It is the transformation that makes ideas “happen”. Innovation needs integrated whole-brain function, not just right-brain. Innovation is not a one side or the other enterprise, but a “more than the sum of its parts” synergistic process.
A Whole-brain:

1. Combines creativity and analysis
2. Looks at the whole and sees the parts within
3. Uses feelings logically and applies logic feelingly
4. Integrates quantitative and qualitative awareness & objective and subjective perspectives
5. Is methodical and intuitive
6. Identifies facts and is imaginative about their meanings
7. Is conceptual and practical
8. Synthesizes problem solving
9. Organizes inside chaos
10. Assimilates learning from multiple sources

To build an innovative organization, to cultivate an innovative culture you need to facilitate whole-brain functions and systems. One of the ways we do this in our strategy and innovation summits is we shift between the “foreground” (the business) and the “background” (our internal operating system), and zoom in and out of both. Albert Einstein is one of the best examples of whole-brain–whole-mind thinkers. He is famous for saying, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” In our summits we cultivate new mindsets (individual and collective) by engaging whole-brain–whole-mind functions.

One of Williams’ whole-brain tricks is to ask “what can we take away to create something new? A decade ago, you could have started with Yahoo! and taken away all the clutter around the search box to get Google.” An idea can be initiated in the right-brain but then it needs a whole team of both left and right-brains working together to bring about whole-brain collaborative transformation to make the idea viable and cool in its implementation.

Innovation’s critical competency is whole-brain engagement. Thomas Edison, a great whole-brain–whole-mind innovator said:

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework”

“I readily absorb ideas from every source, frequently starting where the last person left off.”

“Because ideas have to be original only with regard to their adaptation to the problem at hand, I am always extremely interested in how others have used them….”

“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent….”

© Aviv Shahar

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