Five Leadership Lessons from Herding Goats

Last month, as part of the Shapiro Family fellowship, I spent a day learning about goat herding. Goats were first domesticated over 10,000 years ago in either Turkey or Iran, making them one of the oldest domesticated animals in the world. They’ve been found in the foothills outside Jerusalem, where our group learned about herding, … Read more

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

My graphic designer just told me he wouldn’t make a change I requested, and it’s why I think he does such a great job.  The change was a bad idea, but I didn’t know enough about printing and design to have caught it.  Of course, he didn’t just refuse the request, he explained his reasoning, … Read more

If Don Draper Can Sell Anything, Why Can’t He Sell Himself?

I’m catching up on Mad Men, AMC’s period piece about advertising executives in the 1960s.  As I round the midpoint of season 5, I can’t help but notice that somehow, despite Don Draper’s brilliance as an advertiser, Sterling Cooper Draper Price is perpetually struggling to find clients.  Is this some sort of leap of faith the writers, who are otherwise so diligent, have added for dramatic effect?  Are we really supposed to believe that they can sell baked beans, but never their own services?

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Moving the Ball Down the Field: A Case Study in Turnarounds

I once worked with a hotel that was ranked at the bottom of their management company on nearly ever metric – profitability, customer satisfaction, employee engagement.  When a new general manager, a former college football star, took over the property, he probably felt like he was in a classic Bad News Bears situation.  His rag-tag team had sub-par equipment, including an elevator that constantly broke.  No matter how hard they tried, they felt like they were losing every game, so most of them had given up.  But in a short time, he had improved the hotel’s financial metrics, went on to win the company’s customer service competition, and employee engagement was some of the best in the company.  How did they do it?  Read on to find out.

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Management Without Measurement Is Stupid, Measurement Without Management Is Worse

Last week, Bill Gates published his annual letter, along with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (link). In it, he discussed the way his philanthropic efforts have applied measurement to improve their effectiveness. In doing so, he brought one of the most important management innovations of the twentieth century to bear on the problem of solving human suffering. But measurement alone isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, and it won’t solve your organization’s either.

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Ghosts of Presentations Past

Over at Duarte, they dug up some business presentations from decades past, long before the age of PowerPoint: Vintage Slides from GE from Duarte, Inc. Anyone who has likes to create superdecks would be terrified of  their first takeaway (I’m looking at you, market research agencies): Slides were treated like they were valuable because they were … Read more

The Freakonomists Take on Consulting (or How to Explain Consulting To Your Mom)

The authors of Freakonomics have a new podcast that explores the management consulting industry.  If you’ve ever wondered why clients hire consultants, why consultants hire completely inexperienced MBAs, or what some high profile experts about the industry thing, this is a great place to start.  It’s also a great introduction for people who aren’t management … Read more

Four Lessons From Groupon

Last week, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason narrowly kept his job, thanks in part to an equity structure that gives his shares ten times the voting power as other board members.  Groupon stock has lost over 80% of its value since the company’s post-IPO high just over a year ago, and the business has been rocked … Read more