Archive for February, 2009

A Glorious Passing

Moshe Domb was a special man. At 92 he was an emblem of the greatest generation—hard working, curious and honest—a man of integrity and honor.

Whenever we visited Sara’s family I enjoyed the banter with Moshe. He was stubborn. A man of principles. He fought and got wounded twice when serving in the Jewish Brigade of the Russian Army during the Second World War. He came to Israel and helped build a beautiful Kibbutz and a beautiful country.

His passing yesterday was a glorious lesson for everyone close to him. Eight years ago in one of our endearing conversations, I said: “Moshe, when you die you will get the shock of your life because you will discover that it is not the end, that there is continuance in another form; that in fact life here was a training ground for what you need to do next.” His response was typical. “Nonsense” he said. Now of course he knows I was right.

Four days before his passing, when he stopped eating, he said to one of his daughters, “tell everyone I am dying with joy, rejoicing the life I lived. I have had a good life.” There was a glistening light around him. Twelve hours before his passing he said: “either I am not clever enough or the bureaucrats in heaven are worse than the bureaucrats here. They refuse to let me in before I finish all sorts of idiotic questions and forms which I do not understand.”

Moshe said he was going to go up there and raise hell about why they allow things to be so messed up down here. I am sure he is getting his answer now. Those on the other side are bound by the rule of not interfering with our decisions on this side. They are always ready to help in what we try to do but leave us free to make our own choices. And Moshe was a man who made powerful choices and then lived by them.

Now he rejoices on the other side, having taught us all about a glorious passing.

© Aviv Shahar

What Wakes You Up?

What wakes you up? Is it the alarm clock? Or are you awaken by the task you have taken, by the mission you serve, by a dream you are here to realize?

Do you wake up by an opportunity or by fear?

Remember days when you woke up with the excitement of what you will learn today? What adventure excites you when you wake up now? What do you hope to discover, to realize, to transform?

© Aviv Shahar

Are You Wasting A Good Crisis?

Leaders not using this crisis to repurpose and reposition their organizations are wasting a good crisis. If you are preoccupied only on surviving these critical times, you are missing out on the opportunity to do something bigger, to play a bigger game.

Strategic leadership is not about “how will we come out of this in six or nine months?” It is about, “how are we using this crisis to strengthen our position?” It is about looking beyond the current obvious situation and asking “what vision if any, are we pursuing?”

Here are some questions leaders must ask themselves at this time:

1. What do you see your situation to actually be?
2. What are the “constants” and what are the “changeables”?
3. What new opportunities can emerge in this crisis?
4. How are you using this downturn to strengthen your position? Your people? Your focus? Your value proposition? Your alliances? Your execution?
5. What is your vision?
6. What are the crucial questions you must answer to realize your vision?
7. What do you want to be known for? Where do you want to be when the upturn begins?
8. What changes do you need to make? What competencies must you focus on?
9. What investments are critical?
10. How can you help bring about a recovery of confidence for your people? What specifically will you do?

Call us to find out about breakthrough coaching for you and your team.

© Aviv Shahar

Your “Born to Do” Gifts – The 13th Emerald Key

Excerpt from the CD – Your “Born to Do” Gifts

The oracle of Delphi had written at the entrance “know thyself.” The message meant that by knowing and understanding your nature and the way you are made and work; by having insight to your patterns and inclinations you gain access to the greatest secrets of all. Understanding the workings of human nature and of self is the gate to all things. Self insight and knowledge of the patterns, cycles and changes you go through, open the gate to a great many mysteries. It empowers you and enables you to unleash and realize the meaning and destiny of your being here at this time. On this CD we explore your Five Gifts and coach you to find your sweet spot. Mozart’s gifts were different from Michelangelo’s. Michael Jordan gifts are different from Michael Phelps; Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs are each gifted in a unique way. All of them discovered this secret – the “Born To Do” gifts, each in their respective field.
© Aviv Shahar

“Are You Afraid Of The Work You Were Put Here To Do?”

Author Elizabeth Gilbert delivered a great TED talk, to challenge conventional paradigms about the nature of creativity.

Here are a few questions to reflect on as you watch this:
1. Are you afraid of the work you were put here to do?
2. Do you have to suffer to find creativity?
3. What are the conditions you need and practices you use to enter the creative space?
4. Where does creativity come from?
5. Is creativity a property locked up inside you that your work “melts” into expression? Is it a collaborative communion with invisible, unseen intelligence and power?
6. Are you the center of your work or is “the work you were put here to do” at the center of your life?

© Aviv Shahar

Stretch Goals For 21st Century Management

Gary Hamel framed on HBR a list of 25 challenges for 21st century management strategies. Here is the comment I posted with suggested additional challenges:

Thank you, Gary. This is a great list! The fulcrum of the 25 points is number 11. “Dramatically reduce the pull of the past.” May I suggest reframing the challenge to say – “Be ready to engage in a newly emerging future, free of the limitations of the past.” In that sense it becomes the pivot point and the context for the other 24 challenges.

Here are five elements to add to the list of 25 management challenges for the 21st century:

26. Help integrate the multi-generational society at work and in life. Facilitate the emergence of a new multi-generational partnership vitally needed to meet organizational, national and global challenges. We need each other’s help and contribution. This will help ease the engagement of the young (22-32) and redefine the participation of the elderly (70-95).

27. Facilitate the emergence of new role models and images of success. Cultivate and encourage new heroes and heroines—champions that integrate and embody these challenges in their own practice and innovation.

28. Reframe the imperatives and the relationships of the short, mid and long terms. Create a system that incentives long term sustainable results to help free up the organization from the dictatorship of the short term (quarterly earnings). (Expand the context of your 14th point.)

29. Redefine economic value, its expression and service. Facilitate practices that integrate the professional and the personal, passion and competence, where whole-person, whole-leader, whole-community, whole-society can be exercised and expressed with the support of market economy.

30. Facilitate the evolution of an innovative learning and development function. Discover and support new developmental frameworks and processes to help individuals and teams realize greatness and act on opportunities to fashion their collective future.

© Aviv Shahar

In Hard Times, The Soft Stuff Is Crucial

You feel maxed out, stretched thin and overwhelmed. You are a leader and you feel you have no time and no energy for the soft stuff, especially now that the times are hard and uncertain.

What’s the blind spot?
The “soft” stuff becomes even more important in hard times. That’s the blind spot. More than ever, the right kind of soft stuff gets the most results when it’s hardest to produce it. Here are some of the soft things you cannot afford to leave behind:

1. Truly listen.
2. Ask, why?
3. Get curious. Get genuinely interested.
4. Say, thank you.
5. Try to make things easier for others. Remove unnecessary blockages.
6. Recognize and appreciate the contributions of others. Celebrate small successes.
7. Relax. Yes, take a deep breath and relax.
8. Have a good laugh.
9. Go out of your way to help someone.
10. Devote time to the key people in your life. It’s not the quantity of time. It’s the quality. Eight minutes of complete presence are much more meaningful than four hours of multi-tasking.

Enabling. Accepting. Supporting. Encouraging. Positively challenging. Appreciating. These are some of the “soft” actions that bring out the best in others and in ourselves in times of need.

© Aviv Shahar

Stop Extrapolating

To break the sonic speed you must first stop extrapolating. Here is what it looks like.

Don’t get me wrong. Extrapolating can be helpful. You might be able to extrapolate the federal debt in 2012. Extrapolation helps the government calculate social security obligations in 2032. You may calculate the traffic expected on major freeway in 15 years to help you design the freeway systems and the bridges you will need to build.

An Obama presidency could not be extrapolated just a few years ago. Extrapolating is limited, and it can be very limiting. Here are a few important things you were able to do without extrapolating:

1. You moved from crawling to standing and then to walking without extrapolation. These were nonlinear moments.
2. Getting on a bike for the first time was not extrapolated.
3. Learning to swim and even learning multiplication was a feat accomplished without extrapolation.
4. Your first kiss and the first time you made love were non-extrapolative events.
5. Important insights, learning and discovery were all non-extrapolative.

What else can not be extrapolated?

1. Creative ideas
2. Inspiring innovation
3. Turning point decisions
4. Your next breakthrough

Even hurricane paths seem to disagree with the extrapolative computer models. Technical analysis based on cyclicality and price movement fails time and again. The collapse of major firms on Wall Street is a case in point.

You are not an extrapolation machine. Stop thinking this way. A truly open and engaged conversation cannot be extrapolated. Getting promoted to a new role, assuming new responsibility and developing the capabilities to realize its opportunities are non-linear and non-extrapolative. The future is not an extrapolative continuation of the past. It is newly emerging and converging.

To be better ready you must engage new-think processes, consider wild cards, and be prepared to defy the crowds. Agility, versatility, resilience and adaptive thinking must be the coin of your realm.

© Aviv Shahar

The KEY: A Leadership Moment

This KEY unlocks the pivotal task of leaders and 15 practices that effective leaders carry out. Reflect on this Key and use it. Put the key to practice today.

When you look at an issue, what “frame” do you use? The reality you perceive is shaped by your beliefs and assumptions. When you interact with another – a peer, an employee, the boss, your client, or a friend-there is no such thing as “pure data.” Even numbers on paper are interpreted with people’s narratives and assumptions.

Click here to discover the leadership moment – your pivotal task as a leader and 15 ways to practice the art of reframing.

© Aviv Shahar

Davos Reflections and Capitalism 4.0

The Davos webcasts tell a story. If the World Economic Forum is a gauge of the current global economic mindset, it tells us that decision makers are in “Stage two” and in part “stage three” of the five stages of grief – they are in the anger and blame phase and beginning the bargaining phase.

The grief framework originally pioneered by Kübler-Ross includes Five Stages:

1. Denial – This is the shock phase.
You think: “This can’t be happening, not to me! Not to us!”
The global economy was in this stage back in September. Some investors are still in denial.
2. Anger – This is the phase of screaming and blaming.
You think: “It’s not fair!” “NO! NO! How can this happen!”; It’s the fault of…”
That’s what we are seeing in Davos this week.
3. Bargaining – This is the phase of irrational desire (and attempt) to resurrect what has been and is no more.
You think: I’ll do anything if you give me back what I had.”
There is evidence for such irrational “Bargaining” on the global stage too. The attempt to save the banks and the big three has Denial, Anger and Bargaining in tow.
4. Depression – This is the hopeless bottom of complete despair.
You think: “There is no hope, why bother with anything?”; “What’s the point?”
Leaders will do anything to avoid this phase. Modern economic theories hope to accelerate, skip or avoid this societal calamity. We hope they are successful.
5. Acceptance – In this phase one finds a new agreement and settlement.
You think: “It’s going to be OK.”; “there is no need to fight, I can enjoy or come to terms with what there is.”
In economical terms, this is the reemergence of a new cycle of growth.

Masters of the economy prefer to skip phases and move in a V shape recovery. But it is not always possible to V everything in life. Even a massive stimulus package cannot solve everything. To make informed decisions, it is critical to understand what has happened. Crisis is how we come to know that an existing framework can no longer support the confluence of dynamics active within the system.

Before answering the question “what will a new framework look like?” we must ask – what are the imperatives? A new more moderate paradigm needs to appear. The framework needs to adaptively support global needs with principles of transparency, fairness and sustainability. The new framework needs to support sustained growth and local, national, regional and global imperatives. But before a new framework can emerge the system needs to moves beyond the point of anger and blame.

Capitalism is a framework for realization. Ideally, the best ideas, innovations, strategies, commitment and hard work win the greatest support and reward, and are therefore realized. Lack of creativity, bad decisions, and ineffective execution fail to gain support and die. At core this is not a man made idea but a universal principle that has governed nature long before modern market theories were popularized.

If the system works right, it incentivizes and benefits innovation, performance and delivery of the best solutions. The systemic breakdown we are witnessing brings to focus the challenged capacity of the system to self correct, heal and self regulate. Incidentally, this nature of crisis tends to take place every 60-80 years, which is enough time for both an institutional memory loss and a fundamental shift requiring a system upgrade.

There are four potential scenarios to emerge in the global monetary system:
1. Patch the Bretton Woods dollar centric system. (That is what the powers to be hope to be able to master.)
2. Create a new universal currency backed by the G8 or G20. (A dream for some, but the fear of many.)
3. Create a new equilibrium of three or four regional currencies – Euro, North America, Asia. (Russia and Latin America could constitute a fourth and a fifth currency if they do not feel accommodated in this framework.)
4. Fragmentation with each nation operating on its own, backing its currencies by its precious assets and commodities.

The major effort underway now is to find a path to scenario one. Politicians always try to preserve an existing paradigm. What would likely be the result?

No one knows. It will be difficult to preserve Scenario (1). Scenario (2) is highly unlikely right now and scenario (3) is unlikely too. Unfortunately, there will have to be much more pain for such arrangements to take place. Bretton Woods took place following two decades of tremendous global strife and pain. Let’s hope we do not have to go through so much strife again.

The next three to five years may be a transitional period – a battle royale between scenario (4) the growing fragmentation of the global monetary system, fueled by protectionism, nationalism and patriotic demagoguery, and the opposing forces trying to hold on to a unified global system of scenario (1).

There will be those who will push to scenario (2), but it is highly unlikely they will prevail. A new paradigm of scenario (3) may emerge in three to five years (2012-2014).

© Aviv Shahar

Web Site Implemented By CB Software Systems, Inc.