Star Culture and the Replacement of Leadership

Circle of MegaphonesIt would seem these days we’re plenty happy to substitute entertainment for real leadership, swapping dramatic performance for the hard work of real change. Things have gotten to the point where there’s a whole sub-discipline of Sociology dedicated to celebrity culture (never use one syllable when many will do).

This shift from substance to fantasy has played out pretty obviously on the US national stage in the last few weeks, but as with any big change, the seeds have been in the soil for a while. It is a change with significant challenges not only for politics, but also for business and interpersonal relationships, really anywhere we humans congregate into organizations. Recognizing this error of substitution, star culture for real leadership, is… well, acknowledging one has a problem is a necessary first step to addressing it. It’s hard to jump to healing before one acknowledges and understands the wound. Continue reading

This Culture Business – Uber and Beyond.

Whether Drucker really coined the phrase “Culture eats strategy” or not, the bros running Uber seem hell-bent to prove it out. It’s been reported that the leading lights of Silicon Valley keep those little light bulbs over their heads burning bright with micro-doses of LSD and magic mushrooms. The boys at Uber seem to have been macro-dosing some reagent that kills empathy and renders one tone deaf to the arc of business karma.

In a business soap opera with many sad moments, one of the saddest is that it didn’t have to be this way. Not to argue posthumously with Mr. Drucker, but culture does not have to be some rampant beast, red of tooth and claw, with the limp carcass of our business dreams dangling from its bloody jaws. That is not to suggest culture is some purring lap cat, content to wait in some warm sunbeam until we deign to turn our attention to it. Ignore culture at your own risk. It likes attention and failure to offer enough attention is a quick path to unexpected (and usually undesirable) side effects. Continue reading

When Good Data Drives Bad Decisions

data-crystal-ballWe’ve all seen it.  Some junior executive falls in love with a particular bit of data. Statistics are calculated. Reports are generated. Mass distraction ensues as the rare commodities of time and attention are expended to “move the needle” on the object of the exec’s affection.  If we’re lucky there is little net impact to the experience of customers, employees, and other partners. Often there are missed opportunities for other, greater impacts. In the worst cases, the organization becomes so fixated on that innocent data point that they loose focus on serving customers, engaging employees, or maintaining necessary partnerships. Continue reading