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Oct 112009
 

A potpourri of international CEOs, a Nobel prize winner, management visionary and Bill Clinton.

The bloggers hub got off to a slow start the morning of day 2 due in part to a tasty and lively bloggers dinner the night before. Nevertheless, we were treated to another action packed day capped off by an address by Bill Clinton.

Globalization 2.0 – An Interdependent Economic and Ecological Geo-System

The first part of the day lived up to its billing…International Insights. The morning was rich with non-stop presentations, perspectives and insights from a wonderful cross section of top executives from some of the biggest and best global powerhouse companies.

Among them:

  • Roger Agnelli – CEO of Vale, Brazil
  • Morris Chang – CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • Peter Voser – CEO of Shell,
  • Dennis Nally – CEO of Price Waterhouse Coopers

These guys are good! And, one blindingly obvious observation. They were all guys. Irene Rosenfeld, the CEO of Kraft who would present in the afternoon, was the sole female featured corporate executive addressing the Forum. The glass ceiling endures. (More about that in a future article)

These common themes permeated their presentations:

  • Unprecedented Inter-connectedness and Co-dependence
  • Glimmers of Improvement and Movement
  • A Permanently Changed (for the better) Financial Game
  • China Rising, Rising and Rising
  • Emerging Markets As “Lead Markets”
  • The Environment – We’re all in this together.

In the afternoon, Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize Winning Economist, helped put all of this into an overall economic context with his view of what the future holds for the global economy. Even I understood most of what he presented.

Gary Hamel and Management Innovation

Like most people, when I hear the word Management my energy level drops and I brace myself for a pretty flat, buzz word filled, old school lecture about management principles.

Wow! Was I wrong. Gary Hamel delivered a riveting, energetic, forward thinking talk with an inspiring vision of the future of management. One of the best, thought provoking, aspirational wake-up calls I’ve ever experienced.

People Tech. He sees Management as technology that moves people to get things made and done while driving efficiency and efficacy. Mr. Hamel believes that innovations in management have enabled the great leaps forward in business. Unfortunately, the management innovations and advances that have served us so well in the past are just “table stakes” for the future. A quantum leap in management innovation is urgent and essential for future progress.

This is being driven by a shift from a knowledge economy to a creative economy that demands challenges to current dogmas. He laid out an impressive array of possible innovations, visions and scenarios that could serve as future models . It’s impossible to do justice to all the great concepts Mr. Hamel discussed in this short article. These are a few of his big shift concepts for management technology that can “up the ante” on the current table stakes. They are all fundamentally rooted in Asset-Based Thinking.

  1. Unleash the creative content of every job through employee passion. Obedience, diligence, intellect, expertise are now commodities and costs of entry. Move beyond initiative to creativity.
  2. Create a work climate and organization that fosters a sense of purpose and inspires people to bring their individual passions to work every day. These are “gifts” that cannot be commanded or demanded.
  3. A new mental mindset that redefines and re-frames control and authority…manage from the fringe not the center. Management should ask itself “how would I get things done if I had no positional authority and sanctions?”. The answer. Authority comes from adding value…not position.
  4. Stop Testing. Start Experimenting. Experiments liberate people. Building portfolios of radical experiments will help build organizational firepower.

Mr. Hamel closed with question that he asked us to think about. “Isn’t it It’s weird that our organizations are less human, adaptable, resilient and engaging than we are as individuals?” Mr. Hamel believes that’s because we impose an overlay of management 1.0 technology. To be fit for the future companies must be fit for human beings. That’s Management 2.0.

If you can buy only one video lecture from the World Business Forum, this is it.

Irene Rosenfeld and Leading Transformational Change

As the only female CEO delivering a featured address Irene Rosenfeld stood out. More importantly she stepped up and stood out as a CEO on mission of leading change that is transforming one of the World’s largest consumer products companies.
Confident, cool and comfortable in her role as change agent, Ms. Rosenfeld took us on her now almost three year journey of turnaround and change at Kraft that started with listening.

These were her Rules of the Road that guided the changes at Kraft.

First. Get the right people on the bus. Raise the performance bar, identify those that can reach it and build an optimistic team.

Next. Give everyone a clear picture of the destination and the rewards that await them.

Then. Give people a roadmap to help them get there.

The Roadmap encompassed these strategies that are based on classic Asset-Based Thinking principles.

  • Engage peoples’ hearts and minds around aspirations. Shift from cutting cost to growth. Create a sense of higher purpose with shared hopes and dreams. Their new mantra. “Make Life Delicious”
  • Move Quickly. Tell the truth fast, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. In hindsight you wish you would have moved sooner.
  • Communicate frequently, consistently and honestly.
  • Celebrate success publicly and often. More about triumphs than trials

As with most transformations, they seem simple in hindsight but very difficult at the time of execution.

Bill Clinton and Being A Committed Global Private Citizen

clinton bookThere is only one Bill Clinton. He owns the room and connects and lands on everyone in the audience. Mr. Clinton covered a wide range of topics and is in total command of each subject he touches. I could never do justice to Mr. Clinton’s remarks and observations so I thought it best to provide a perspective on some of his more personal commentary and advice that hit home with me.

One is immediately struck by how very comfortable Mr. Clinton is with his place in the world as a private citizen working on things that are both important to him and the world. He takes pride in his work and is thoroughly enjoying it. Mr. Clinton’s simple message…each and every one of us, in our own way, could feel the same sense of fulfillment and pride by doing what we believe in, giving back and taking action. He echoed a similar Asset-Based Thinking message that permeated the Day 1 sessions. Find your “Mighty Cause” and give it your personal brand of attention and action.

He recounted that government and public service primarily focused on answering two questions…what are you going to do and how much are you going to spend on it. But the more important third question is ignored or given short shrift. How will what you do benefit peoples’ lives…one by one, group by group, community by community.

Answering and addressing this “How” question is where he is placing virtually all of his attention, getting the most results and deriving his greatest satisfaction.

At the end of his talk when Mr. Clinton was asked what advice he would give future leaders he said this. “Leaders have to understand people, not just policy. They must be empowered–not paralyzed–by this understanding,”

Now that’s some Presidential advice worth leading by.

Then the lights went down, the hall was emptied and the stage was being set for something even better. The Rockettes.

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Oct 082009
 

The sky is falling….maybe

The beginning of the afternoon at the World Business Forum can best be summed up as a sobering barrage of the pitfalls, perils, and problems ahead of us. David Rubenstein, founder of the Carlyle Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, presented a non-stop litany of facts to drive home his admonition that “Just because the recession will be ‘over’ soon doesn’t mean it’s all going to be OK.” His command of the numbers and their implications was simultaneously amazing and numbing

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Then Jeffrey Sachs gave us on a macro view of the unprecedented challenges we face as a result of living in a totally interconnected world, a planet bursting at the seams and not able to sustain itself, a US political system and governance gone awry over the past 25 years, and America’s ever dimming presence and influence.

Whew. Do we have anything to look forward to? Hopefully.

Two Asset-Based Thinking takeaways:

  • Vigilance is Virtue – There still are tough times ahead. Consolidate your assets…personal, relational and situational…so you’re ready to face them.
  • Cooperation and Collaboration on a global scale will be core drivers of a better future. No man is an island…positive, inter-dependent relationships are valued assets.

T. Boone Pickens: Building Value and Living Your Values

Substance. Style. Soul.

pickensThe discussion with Mr. Pickens had the feel and tone of a nice living room chat with one of your favorite uncles or mentors. The interviewer started out with a review of Mr. Pickens’ great wealth. Mr. Pickens was quick to point out that it wasn’t until he was 70 that he made his “first billion” and added that his five children and thirteen grandchildren are an equally important measure of his wealth. Now that’s a set of values that all of us should emulate.

Immediately, it became apparent that Mr. Pickens views wealth as a consequence of hard work, risk taking, passion, and resilience. Perhaps more important, he believes that building and leveraging a portfolio of softer assets is also essential: listening, connection, service, purpose, and values. He feels that CEOs must have a sense of caring and connection to their shareholders and, unfortunately, most do not, putting themselves before the good of their shareholders. Ain’t that the truth.

He really came alive when the discussion turned to his most recent venture, The Pickens Plan For Energy Independence. Mr. Pickens said he does not view himself as an environmental activist. He sees himself as being in pursuit of his Noble Cause, Security for America though energy independence…the positive environmental impact is an ancillary benefit.

Some great T. Boone Pickens Asset-Based Thinking advice:

The pursuit of your Mighty Cause and making “profit” go hand in hand. You have to change the way you see profit. It’s multi-leveled. Money. Emotional Rewards. Greater Good.

He is very proud of the fact that his Pickens Plan now has an online following of over 1.6 million people – what politicians call his “army.” He sees those 1.6 million advocates as more powerful leverage that all his billions and corporate holdings. Another example of the value that Mr. Pickens places on softer assets and his sense of values.

I’m signed up for the Pickens Plan and he’s on my Mount Rushmore of people I admire and respect.

Kevin Roberts and Building Brands – Love Me!

Kevin is the Creative Director for Saatchi, a large multi-national ad agency. In his book, Lovemarks, he very smartly discusses why brands today have to create “loyalty beyond reason” by delivering “emotionally priceless value.” Then, a brand can transform itself into a “Lovemark.” The art of creating emotional connections with consumers to build brands is not new in the advertising business. In fact, satisfying emotional needs is a “cost of entry” in today’s communications business. The major “now” dynamic taking the art of emotion to new levels are the power and control of the consumer and social media.

The Asset-Based Thinking insight in Kevin’s presentation was a simple one. To build a Lovemark, businesses have to let go of their brands and turn them over to the consumer. Let the brand speak for itself. In Asset-Based Thinking terms we call that “Losing Control to Get Traction.” This works just as well in your personal life as it does in building Lovemarks. Try it. You’ll like it.

George Lucas and Creative Innovation – Class!

George LucasGeorge Lucas capped off the day with an intimate and personal discussion of his life and his journey through the film business. He is the antithesis of Hollywood. Calm, classy, reasonable, values-based, independent…and one of the most inventive and creative people on the planet. The total package. He learned early on how to work with the assets and opportunities which present themselves.

Here are some wonderful asset-based thinking insights I heard from George Lucas.

  • Art is communicating emotions from one human to another…we need technology to enable that transfer. The value of emotional connections drives much of what he does.
  • As Yoda might say, be careful with what you hate because you might become it. – Commenting on the fact that he really doesn’t like writing scripts. He wanted to be an illustrator and make documentaries.
  • Never make your hobby your business. – Advice from dad on the importance of commitment to professionalism.
  • Practice reasonable civil discourse as the best way to get things done. Don’t yell, demand or intimidate. Enough said.
  • It’s not about writing a script. It’s about telling a story. Great advice on how to approach communication in general.

Finally, he encouraged everyone to put their passions to use for the greater good. What Asset-Based Thinkers call finding their “Mighty Cause.” George Lucas’ Mighty Cause is learning and education. He founded the nonprofit Edutopia and is using his talents and resources to study how teachers teach, find and document best practices, and share them online with the world. His vision is to create “learning machines.”

The afternoon started out with a barrage of the downside, the problems; then it gracefully moved though to a vision of upside possibilities and potential. A perfect setup for cocktails and the bloggers’ dinner.

More to come tomorrow from Day 2

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Oct 072009
 

Bloggers hubSitting in the front row in the Bloggers Hub at The World Business Forum. Wired, ready to go and surrounded by 50 of the best bloggers on the planet. A bit intimidating. These are some of the most savvy social media folks around, smart thinkers, great writers and they type a lot faster than me.

Undaunted, I’ve put on my Asset-Based Thinking lenses and will be viewing the conference with an eye towards how speakers address positive change and momentum. I’ll also be drawing on the energy and support of my fellow bloggers.

Some Asset-Based Thinking take-aways from the morning session.

Setting The Stage
Les Hinton, CEO of the Dow Jones Company summed up the past year with a quote. “If you ride through hell, you don’t stop.” He advised the audience to be vigilant and “keep on riding” since there are still challenges ahead. It’s not over yet. He was simultaneously optimistic about focusing on the future, the importance of small business and sticking to what business does best. Creating value!

Bill George & How Crisis Shapes Leaders
Bill George, from Harvard, delivered a personal and practical talk on “Leading In A Crisis” based on his excellent book, “7 Lessons For Leading In A Crisis”. Overall, he’s concerned that the aftermath of the crisis may be worse than the “storm” itself because of the jobs issues. Bill believes that leaders have been too focused on saving jobs rather than creating jobs and that small business is the job creation engine that drives our future. Amen.

Bill also said this. “Crisis is the true test of a leader and great leaders never let a good crisis go to waste”. Only by taking the crisis head on and looking deep into the eye of the storm can a leader see the opportunities on the other side. And, great leaders actively learn how to “anticipate” crisis and be ready.

His best Asset-Based Thinking advice was this. When facing a crisis one should lead by his or her True North Values. The beliefs and values by which you lead your life should be the way you lead in your business. Another humbling thought. The career you have built over 30 years can be lost in 30 minutes if a crisis is not handled with leadership and integrity.

Bill Conaty & Making The Most of The Human Resource

Bill served as head of HR at GE under the legendary Jack Welch. Together they built a World Class company built on performance based values. He underscored the need to have Human Resources move beyond being viewed ad the “pensions and picnics” to being positioned a real business partner, employee advocate and “trustee” of the company values. (love they concept of a values trustee)

Theses are the ingredients necessary to build a performance based culture

  • Passionate CEO commitment.
  • Well understood values.
  • Real goals and measurements.
  • Trust and candor in evaluations. (Trust Agents in your company)
  • Consequences for failing.
  • Always raising the bar

Bill’s best asset-based thinking advice was this.

“Making the numbers and embracing core values are the metrics of success. Too much time is spent on the number…without the values superior performance is not sustainable”

To borrow a phrase from a past election…It’s about the values, stupid. The best leaders make sure that values are deeply embedded into a company, at all levels, and that there is a clear succession plan to carry them on.

Pat Lencioni – Trust Shall Set You Free.
A real deal Team Building guru. Pat was the energizing finale of the morning. The ultimate “infotainment” speaker, Pat made transformed the simple principles of building effective teams into profound, practical and powerful insights.

He believes that for any business to maximize its potential the business needs to do two things very well….be intellectually SMART (the nuts and bolts of the business) and operational HEALTHY (The emotional & personal engagement of the business) The right balance of these two critical ingredients build a teamwork culture that minimizes politics and confusion maximizes morale, productivity and retention.

Some other pithy tips and advice:

  • Health lets a business tap more deeply into its smart side.
  • A cohesive leadership team requires both Intellectual Clarity and Behavioral Clarity
  • Don’t fear redundancy. Over communicate the clarity.

Pat identified what I believe is the “silver bullet” in enabling functional teamwork to flourish and help make a business great. Trust. Predictive trust (to say what one believes) and vulnerability based trust ( to feel free to admit shortcomings and be vulnerable)

This multi-dimensional trust helps everyone overcome their fear of conflict – not personal conflict – but debate and positive conflict over issues. Without conflict there can’t be true commitment.

Pat’s simple wisdom – Conflict with trust is pursuit of the truth. Without Trust its politics. Foster an environment of “Disagree and Commit”.

Finally, Pat made an emotional appeal to the audience to realize that as leaders they have profound influence on the everyday lives of the people they work with. He summed up leadership as a “profound ministry”. An inspiring Amen for all of us in the audience.

Lunch time. Refuel for an exciting afternoon of Jeffrey Sachs and T.Boone Pickens.

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Oct 062009
 

Positive Social Media Adrenaline Amps Up Business Events

WBF Radio City

Reporting live on Day 1 as a featured blogger at the World Business Forum (#wbf09) at Radio City Music hall in NYC. A beautiful day in the Big Apple for a Big Idea business conference.

Bloggers Hub Buzz
Even before the speeches begin one of the event’s unique features is generating a great deal of positive chatter. The event organizers, HSM get a big Asset-Based Thinking shout out for creating the Bloggers Hub. It is a state of the art resource placed right in the middle of the action that houses about 50 featured bloggers providing us with full access to everything happening at the event. The bloggers hub is new and very smart communication idea for conferences, the benefits of which are apparent even at this early stage.

Bloggers Hub Benefits That I See

  • Facilitates a friendly, open platform for bloggers to provide real time updates, commentary and coverage of the speeches of some very smart and influential leaders.
  • Serves as a micro-community of a diverse group of bloggers to connect around a common interest…live reporting and disseminating information of significance…what I call “Content of Consequence”
  • Creates an environment of mutually supportive and connected energy that feeds on itself. A special “vibe” that brings a new collective dynamic to a usually solitary writing process.
  • Provides a “streaming commentary” on topics and discussions as they happen and invites real time response and interaction from each blogger’s audience which we in turn can use as fuel for our reporting.
  • Links a network of “Trust Agents” and enables their power to apply leverage to issues and opportunities. Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) describes this as the “Archimedes Effect” in his brilliant new book entitled ( of course) Trust Agents.

So, stay tuned for live blog posts, tweets, twirtpics, twitvids, facebook updates and more from The World Business Forum. Welcome to what Jeff Pulver  (@jeffpulver) has dubbed The State of Now.

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Oct 012009
 

Creating this post has inspired me to borrow and slightly change a famous Tom Cruise line from the film, Jerry Maguire. “Show Me The Assets” That will be the focus and lens through which I’ll be creating my blog posts at next week’s World Business Forum. Asset-Based Thinking In Action

ASSETS_GREYHR

The World Business Forum brings together thought leaders, business gurus and legendary CEOs to address critical issues facing businesses today. There will be about 5000 attendees from all over the world. I will be one of about 50 people designated as “some of the best business bloggers” embedded right in the middle of all the action. There will be a Bloggers Hub complete with high speed internet access and all the electronic bells and whistles we’ll need to report live from the conference.

Big Agenda Items

WBF StageAs with past Forums, the two day event will be held on the big stage at Radio City Music Hall and it will very likely yield some interesting ideas and provocative headlines. We expect this year’s event to be a bit more intense since it comes a full year after the financial and economic mess that washed over the world. The usual suspects of Big Agenda items will be discussed – the financial crisis, energy policy, healthcare, and globalization. They will be tackled by a high profile A list of of leaders and personalities including Bill Clinton,Jeffrey Sachs,George Lucas and T.Boone Pickens.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Perhaps even more importantly, there will also be a powerhouse group of business leaders discussing extremely important day to day, on the ground topics and issues that are critical to achieving success in today’s global environment. Here’s a short list of some of the speakers and topics

  • Irene Rosenfeld on Leading Transformational Change
  • Gary Hamel on Management Innovation
  • Patrick Lecioni on Building Winning Teams
  • Bill George on Leadership In Times of Crisis
  • Bill Conaty on Talent Management

Listening “Softer” To See Deeper

As an asset-based thinker I’ll be looking at how speakers address solutions rather than explaining problems, move from threat as challenge, turn shortcomings into aspirations and leverage collaboration versus competition. These are the approaches that will help motivate and effectuate tangible, positive change and momentum going forward.

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The other great opportunity at this event will be listening to the buzz and chatter of the thousands of businessmen in the audience and observing their body language. The CMOs CFOs, Product Development Specialists, Planners, Human Resource Professionals, CIOs, Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners without whom change and innovation would not make it to the marketplace.

Valuing Values Based Businesses

Hopefully we will hear a great deal of discussion and glean some insights about Values Based business models. Learning how businesses look beyond their hard assets to the softer “values based” assets that are increasingly important today. Hard assets are cost of entry in today’s competitive marketplace. Intangible, “soft assets” will the drivers of differentiation that add value and propel businesses, large and small, to greatness. What those softer assets are and how they are leveraged to add value will vary from business to business. As a start, here’s my short list of assets that I’d be looking for as business drivers for values based businesses.

Certificate With Seal

I’m sure there are others. Feel free to leave some comments and send me your thoughts.

So, please check back next week to see what transpires at the World Business Forum and you can follow my updates on Twitter…@hankwasiak

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 Posted by at 1:33 pm
Sep 242009
 

This is my first post kicking off a series called Asset-Based Thinking In Action. Here’s what this series is all about

Celebrating how remarkable people from all walks of life use Asset-Based Thinking  to have an impact and make a difference. ABT lessons learned and how to apply them to your daily life.

We live in a 24/7 non-stop world with instant access to just about any information we want or need. More than we can ever use. And yet, most of what we see, hear and read comes at us from negative perspectives. Sometimes we just feel like saying “enough”.

news

My partner, Dr. Kathy Cramer and I felt frustrated and motivated enough by the constant din negativity that we created a series of books that brings to life a revolutionary (and re­freshingly simple) concept called Asset-Based Thinking. (ABT, for short) It’s a practical approach to focusing on the positive side of life’s ledger and using it to full advantage in everything you do.

Small Shifts Can Make Seismic Differences

Small shifts in the way we absorb, perceive, filter, and interpret information can lead to dramatic improvements in the way we live. Which direction we take is up to us. Asset-Based Thinking zeros in on what’s working and possible rather than what’s not – Deficit-Based Thinking (DBT). ABT favors inspiration and aspira­tion over desperation…and it is infectious. The choice is ours alone to make.

CrossRoad1

Asset-Based Thinking In Action – Seeing Is Believing.

istockphoto_10305355-thumbs-up-over-green-backgroundOne of the best ways to see and feel the power and potential of asset-based thinking is to observe and learn from how others put ABT into action in their own lives. Every week, this series will shine a positive and uplifting and light on people who use asset-based thinking to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

From CEO’s to small business owners, teachers and students, volunteers and public servants, teens and grandparents these stories will help you feel better, live better and raise you spirits. Another great bonus derived from reading these ABT in Action stories is personal growth and discovery. Remember this truth:

“The qualities that we admire in others we have in ourselves. You just have to know how and where to look for them”

ABT In Action At The World Business Forum:

WBF Welsch

The World Business Forum is an annual global business summit that will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on October 6 & &.  The WBF ranks among the world’s top five most influential venues for CEO’s and C-Suite executives. There will be 5000 attendees and Bill Clinton, Jack Welsh, and T-Boone Pickens are just a few of the a-list speakers.

I am fortunate to have been chosen as one of the select group of bloggers to have exclusive access to the event. I’ll be writing some of my next articles form the World Business Forum event. I promise this will be very exciting and informative two days.

Stay Tuned.

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