CategoryCulture

Leadership Lessons from “The Charge of the Light Brigade”

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The Charge of the Light Brigade on October 25, 1854 was a disastrous mistake, the result of misinformation and miscommunication. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew Someone had blundered.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, immortalizes an ill-fated British cavalry charge during the Crimean War. The poem mostly celebrates the bravery and glory of the officers who participated in the charge, but in a famous...

A Crisis has the Power to Transform

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“Instead of social distancing, how about physical distancing?  Words matter.”  It was a message that came across my Twitter feed from Brad Stulberg – a recent guest on The Good Life Podcast – and it hit me hard.  He continued the tweet: “Now, more than ever, we need to be socially CONNECTED. The only way we get through this—both biologically and psychologically—is together. Action. Attitude. Support. Kindness. It’s all contagious.”– Brad Stulberg Aristotle famously...

What you are Willing to Tolerate becomes the Standard

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Jeff Bezos refers to Amazon’s customers as “divinely discontent.” Ten years ago Amazon customers were satisfied with 3-5 days shipping. At some point expectations shifted to 2-day shipping. Now many demand Same Day delivery. How long before Same Hour delivery is the norm? In his 2017 Letter to Shareholders Bezos had this to say about Amazon customers: “Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature.” One of the ways great leaders stay ahead of ever-rising...

When Technology Meets Community

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A co-op grocery chain in Seattle began dismantling their self-checkout kiosks this month. After considerable investment in the technology over the past few years, the PCC Community Market, made the decision to remove the automated stations.  Here is how the store describes the reasoning behind the decision: “A kiosk doesn’t create community or connections. So we wanted to take those out so that when someone comes into our stores, they have a human connection with someone and an interaction...

The Power of We versus Me

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At the age of twenty, Art Unruh flew 50 missions into enemy territory in the European theater of World War II. The first six missions he served as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Protecting the B-17 from all threats behind the plane was a dangerous assignment, but it wasn’t the most dangerous – that belonged to the waist gunners. The waist gunner had to stand, which exposed them to more enemy fire. For the next 46 missions, Army Staff Sgt. Art Unruh served as a waste gunner, and...

Use this Richard Feynman Technique to Increase Your Team’s Productivity

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As World War II broke out, the physicist Richard Feynman was recruited to Los Alamos to assist in the development of the first atomic bomb. He was tasked with calculating the energy released by the nuclear explosion. Machines were brought in from IBM to assist in the task. Although state of art in their day, they were crude mechanical calculators that used punch cards to execute complicated calculations. The Army dispatched a group called the Special Engineering Detachment to operate the...

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Team Chemistry

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In the movie, Miracle about the 1980 US men’s Olympic hockey team, there is a scene where head coach Herb Brooks is evaluating talent. At one point he turns to his assistant coach Craig Patrick and says: “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.” Brooks was searching for that elusive element: Team Chemistry. What is Team Chemistry exactly? It is something that has vexed coaches, players and fans for ages. It appears that successful teams have Team Chemistry...

What the Amish can Teach Us about Technology

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I had always understood the Amish to be a community that chose to live permanently in the technological past. That is, at a certain point in time, the community said “no more” to new technology.  From that point forward new technology was rejected out of hand. However, the Amish relationship to technology is more complicated. The author Kevin Kelly has written about this.  The Amish are constantly evolving with respect to technology. Thus, the Amish don’t use cars or bicycles for...

Richard III, Prince Harry, Nassim Taleb, Warren Buffett and Skin-in-the-Game

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Battle of Bosworth, as depicted by Philip James de Loutherbourg (1740–1812) On August 22, 1485, King Richard III led his troops into the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, England. Things didn’t go well for Richard III that day. In the heat of battle, he found himself unhorsed and in desperate need of help. Shakespeare immortalized the moment with the famous line; “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” A horse was not forthcoming and Richard III was eventually slain on the...

How Bucky the Bean Counter Created a World-Class Culture at Nike

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From a very young age, Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, went by the nickname “Buck.” His father had always referred to him as such, and the name stuck. Even when he ran track for the University of Oregon his track coach, the legendary Bill Bowerman (and Nike’s other co-founder), called him Buck. As Nike grew more successful so did Phil’s stature in the business community, and Phil was increasingly referred to as “Mr. Knight.” But there was one group of early Nike employees who never got the...

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