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Professionals versus Amateurs

Professionals versus Amateurs

When I was young, I used to play competitive chess. I vividly remember that at a certain point I got stuck: In order to win, I relied heavily on mistakes made by my opponents. Since I encountered increasingly better opponents, who made fewer and fewer mistakes, my strategy of trying not to lose, became less and less effective. Only when I…

White Wales

White Wales

In the past few months we have seen the meteoric rise and ignominious downfall of WeWork. Not long ago, the company was poised for a successful IPO. Right now, however, its disgraced CEO has stepped down. The company, while burning through enormous amounts of cash, even has its core business model being challenged. Yet its main investor did not pull…

CLEAR Communication

CLEAR Communication

Your communication, such as email, competes with Facebook, the Stock Market, newspaper headlines, billboards on the road and the latest Twitter. Tough competition. If you want to be heard, make sure your written communication is crisp and relevant. An excellent technique is the CLEAR model: Context: Why this communication is important to what your audience is currently doing. List of resources required, such…

The Momentum Fallacy

The Momentum Fallacy

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force. This law is applicable to organizations as well and is called the momentum fallacy. Quitting an organizational habit—such as fixed meeting schedules or rigid reporting structures—is a deliberate and conscious activity that doesn’t come naturally . Once an…

Manicured Strategies

Manicured Strategies

Many organizations think they have a strategy. In reality, they have a manicured strategic plan: A document which has all the outward signs of solidity—such as fancy trend graphs, SWOT analyses, and impressive hockey sticks— neatly summarized in a slick powerpoint package. Yet, three essential elements are often missing.  Strategic Quitting: Every strategy requires a detailed plan of all activities which have…

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

‘Wirecard collapses into insolvency.’ This was the headline of the Financial Times some time ago. Wirecard is a large fin-tech company, which seems to have committed a 2 billion dollar financial fraud, right under the watchful eyes of government officials and external auditors. We have seen this movie before, and the next phase in this drama is predictable: Similar to…

Success Environment

Success Environment

One of the most important decisions as a leader is to create a success environment in your organization: This is a place where team members can bring their best, and feel safe to do what it takes to make an impactful and positive difference.  A success environment has five key characteristics. Clear personal and organizational goals. Everyone knows exactly what success of the…

The Cobra Effect

The Cobra Effect

At the time of British rule of India, the government was concerned about the growing amount of venomous cobras in New Delhi. Thus, they decided to give a reward for every dead cobra which was brought to the authorities. Entrepreneurial citizens, however, considered this to be a great source of income and started to breed cobras in captivity, which could…

Pre-Mortem (or How to Cheat Death)

Pre-Mortem (or How to Cheat Death)

Project failure often occurs, not because of missing knowledge, but because of what we think we know that simply isn’t true. These flawed thoughts are known as assumptions, and they often cause great projects to crash and burn. Conducting a pre-mortem on your project will help you avoid falling in this trap. A pre-mortem is the opposite of a project post-mortem. A post-mortem…

Your Inner Hannibal

Your Inner Hannibal

The Carthaginian General Hannibal—the nemesis of ancient Rome— was once asked how he planned to cross the Alps with his elephants to invade the Roman heartland. His response was telling: “I will either find a way, or make one….” This is a great example of extreme ownership: The willingness to do what it takes to achieve a worthy goal. This is a…