Tag: Leadership

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…

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…

Executive Baby Sitters

Executive Baby Sitters

70% of all strategic initiatives fail to meet their objectives. The most important reason is a lack of execution power. In my work with high performance organizations, I have found that execution power especially collapses when leaders have to spend a lot of their time on executive babysitting. The executive babysitter frequently has to play three roles: The Referee. Instead of…

Missing Bullet Holes

Missing Bullet Holes

During World War II, a group of statisticians was asked to find ways to reduce the number of American airplanes that didn’t return from missions. After studying bullet-hole patterns in aircrafts that returned from missions, the idea was to add more armor to the areas of the planes where they had been hit the most—wings, fuel system, and fuselage— but,…

The Cockroach Congruency

The Cockroach Congruency

While I was having lunch recently, I noticed something interesting. The quality of the food was good and at the same time the hygiene standards of the establishment were lacking: The tables were clean, yet close inspection revealed that the floor was actually full of dirt. Furthermore, none of the staff seemed to notice or care: They were all busy simply…