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War on Linearity

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  • 1. The (necessary) war on linearity: One engineer’s (unusual) life’s work. tom peters/1026.2006
  • 2. Think! vs. do!
  • 3. “ Apparently our society, not unlike the Greeks with their Delphic oracles, takes great comfort in believing that very talented ‘seers’ removed from the hurly-burly world of reality can foretell coming events.” —Len Sayles/Columbia (from Henry Mintzberg, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning )
  • 4. “ Nothing is more dangerous in war than theoreticians .” —Marshall Petain (John Mosier, The Blitzkrieg Myth , “War as Pseudoscience: 1920-1939”)
  • 5. The (Strange) Case of Peter Drucker & Michael Porter vs. The “Non-linearists” HERBERT SIMON. (Administrative Behavior.) JAMES MARCH. KARL WEICK. (The Social Psychology of Organizing.) EUGENE WEBB. Henry MINTZBERG. (The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning.) JAMES UTTERBACK. THOMAS KUHN. (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.) CHARLES LINDBLOM. Daniel goleman. INNOVATION BIOGRAPHERS.* (*Transcontinental Railroad, Electrification, Radio, Television, Containerization, DNA, Computers, Military History, Etc.) MOST POLITICAL SCIENTISTS. SILICON VALLEY. Etc.
  • 6. “ This book is about luck disguised and perceived as non-luck (that is, skills) and more generally randomness disguised and perceived as non-randomness. It manifests itself in the shape of the lucky fool, defined as a person who benefited from a disproportionate share of luck but attributed his success to some other, generally precise reason.” — Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and the Markets , by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • 7. Satisficing. Bounded rationality. Technology of foolishness. Muddling through.
  • 8. The Mess Is the Message! Period! An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States — Charles Beard (1913) The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger —Marc Levinson Tube: The Invention of Television —David & Marshall Fisher Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World —Jill Jonnes The Soul of a New Machine —Tracy Kidder Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA —Brenda Maddox The Blitzkrieg Myth —John Mosier
  • 9. “ Linearist”: Plan it! “Non-linearist”: Try it!
  • 10. “ Recently I asked three corporate executives what decisions they had made in the last year that would not have been made were it not for their corporate plans. All had difficulty identifying one such decision. Since all of the plans are marked ‘secret’ or ‘confidential,’ I asked them how their com p etitors mi g ht benefit from p ossession of their p lans. Each answered with embarrassment that their com p etitors would not benefit .” —Russell Ackoff (from Henry Mintzberg, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning )
  • 11. “ This is so simple it sounds stupid, but it is amazing how few oil people really understand that you only find oil if you drill wells . You may think you’re finding it when you’re drawing maps and studying logs, but you have to drill.” Source: The Hunters , by John Masters, Canadian O & G wildcatter
  • 12. “ It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change .” —Charles Darwin
  • 13. “ Linearist”: think! “Non-linearist”: do!
  • 14. “ Execution is the j ob of the business leader .” —Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan/ Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
  • 15. Excellence1982: The Bedrock “Eight Basics” 1. A Bias for Action 2. Close to the Customer 3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship 4. Productivity Through People 5. Hands On, Value-Driven 6. Stick to the Knitting 7. Simple Form, Lean Staff 8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties
  • 16. “ We have a ‘strategic plan.’ It’s called doing things .” — Herb Kelleher
  • 17. “ Linearist”: hypothesize! “Non-linearist”: experiment!
  • 18. “ We made mistakes, of course. Most of them were omissions we didn’t think of when we initially wrote the software. We fixed them by doing it over and over, again and again . We do the same today. While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make the design perfect, we’re already on prototype version # 5 . By the time our rivals are ready with wires and screws, we are on version # 10 . It gets back to planning versus acting : We act from day one ; others plan how to plan — for months .” —Bloomberg by Bloomberg
  • 19. “ Experiment fearlessly” Source: BW 0821.06, Type A Organization Strategies/ “How to Hit a Moving Target”— Tactic #1
  • 20. “ Linearist”: failure = unnecessary “Non-linearist”: failure = life
  • 21. “ Fail . Forward. Fast.” High Tech CEO, Pennsylvania “Fail faster. Succeed Sooner.” David Kelley/IDEO
  • 22. “ It is generally much easier to kill an or g anization than change it substantially.” —Kevin Kelly, Out of Control
  • 23. “ Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.” Phil Daniels, Sydney exec
  • 24. Message/Implication: go for it ! C.E.O. to C.D.O.
  • 25. “ Linearist”: a>b* “Non-linearist”: b>a** *Attitude shapes behavior **Behavior shapes attitude
  • 26. “ Linearist”: deliberate!* “Non-linearist”: relentless!** * “Do it right the first time” (Hero: Phil Crosby) **Never retreat (Hero: U.S. Grant)
  • 27. Relentless : “One of my superstitions had always been when I started to go anywhere or to do anything, not to turn back , or stop, until the thing intended was accomplished.” —Grant
  • 28. “ Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” —William Feather, author
  • 29. “ Linearist”: logical! “Non-linearist”: passionate!
  • 30. “ Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • 31. “ People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for , trust.” — Howard Schultz, Starbucks ( IBD /09.05)
  • 32. “ Linearist”: give me genius! “Non-linearist”: give me luck!
  • 33. “ This book is about luck disguised and perceived as non-luck (that is, skills) and more generally randomness disguised and perceived as non-randomness. It manifests itself in the shape of the lucky fool, defined as a person who benefited from a disproportionate share of luck but attributed his success to some other, generally precise reason.” “We underestimate the share of randomness in just about everything, a point that might not merit a book—except when it is the specialist who is the fool of all fools.” “Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance.” Source: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and the Markets —Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • 34. “ Linearist”: spotless academic record! “Non-linearist”: a.d.d.
  • 35. “ Linearist”: measured pace! “Non-linearist”: Tempo! Tempo! Tempo!
  • 36. “ You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” —Wayne Gretzky
  • 37. “ the Fed Ex Economy ” —headline/ New York Times/ 10.08.05
  • 38. “ Any3”: Anything/ Anywhere/ Anytime
  • 39. “ Linearist”: think! Plan! (r. a. f.*) “Non-linearist”: Try it! Screw it up! Fix it! Try it again! (r. f. a.**) *Ready. Aim. Fire. **ready. Fire. Aim. (Or, circa 2006: fire. Fire. Fire. )
  • 40. READY. FIRE! AIM. Ross Perot (vs “ Aim! Aim! Aim!” /EDS vs GM/1985)
  • 41. S.A.V.: screw around vigorously! The “only” possible response to former Xerox chief Paul Allaire’s “We are in a brawl with no rules.”
  • 42. Cheap Shot “Linearist”: minimize cost. “Non-linearist”: maximize revenue.
  • 43. “ Linearist”: marketing rules. “Non-linearist”: sales rules.
  • 44. “ Everyone lives by sellin g something.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
  • 45. “ Analysts … preferred cost cutting , as long as they could see two or three years of EPS growth. I preached revenue and the analysts’ eyes would glaze over. Now revenue is ‘in’ because so many got caught, and earnings went to hell. They said, ‘Oh my gosh, you need revenues to grow earnings over time.’ Well, Duh! ” —Dick Kovacevich, Wells Fargo
  • 46. C R O* *Chief Revenue Officer
  • 47. “ Linearist” Background: planning, marketing & finance. “Non-linearist” background: sales & operations.
  • 48. “ Operations is policy.” —Fred Malek (1974) “Execution is strategy.” —TP (1983)
  • 49. “ Linearist” likes: ideas. “Non-linearist” likes: people.
  • 50. “ Leaders ‘ do ’ people. Period.” —Anon.
  • 51. “ It was much later that I realized Dad’s secret. He gained respect by giving it. He talked and listened to the fourth-grade kids in Spring Valley who shined shoes the same way he talked and listened to a bishop or a college president. He was seriously interested in who you were and what you had to say .” Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Respect
  • 52. “ The [Union senior] officers rode past the Confederates smugly without any sign of recognition except by one. ‘When General Grant reached the line of ragged, filthy, bloody, despairing prisoners strung out on each side of the bridge, he lifted his hat and held it over his head until he passed the last man of that living funeral cortege. He was the only officer in that whole train who recognized us as being on the face of the earth.’*” *quote within a quote from diary of a Confederate soldier
  • 53. “ Linearist” likes: parts. “Non-linearist” likes: wholes.
  • 54. “ The Mexican Sierra has 17 plus 15 plus 9 spines in the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted. But if the sierra strikes on the line so that our hands are burned, if the fish sounds and nearly escapes and finally comes in over the rail, his colors pulsing and his tail beating the air, a whole new relational externality has come into being—an entity which is more than the sum of the fish plus the fisherman. The only way to count the spines of the sierra unaffected by this second relational reality is to sit in a laboratory, open an evil-smelling jar, remove a stiff colorless fish from the formalin solution, count the spines and write the truth. There you have recorded a reality which cannot be assailed—probably the least important reality concerning the fish or yourself,. … It is good to know what you are doing . The man with this pickled fish has set down one truth and recorded in his experience many lies. The fish is not that color, that texture, that dead, nor does he smell that way.” —John Steinbeck
  • 55. “ Linearist” office: walls. “Non-linearist” office: none.
  • 56. “ Linearist” style: meetings. “Non-linearist” style: m.b.w.a.* *Managing by wandering around
  • 57. “ Linearist” reads: michael porter. Peter drucker.* “Non-linearist” reads: waterman & peters. Tom clancy.** *Michael & peter **Bob & tom & tom
  • 58. “ Linearist” reads: michael porter. Peter drucker. “Non-linearist” reads: doesn’t
  • 59. “ Linearist” preferred baseball score: 1-0. “Non-linearist” preferred baseball score: 11-9.
  • 60. “ Linearist” preferred football score: 7-0. “Non-linearist” preferred football score: 41-38.
  • 61. “ Linearist” criminal record: none. “Non-linearist” criminal record: disorderly conduct. Chronic jaywalking.
  • 62. “ Linearist” drives: lincoln town car. Ford explorer (weekends). “Non-linearist” drives: bmw. Harley-davidson (weekends).
  • 63. The (Strange) Case of Peter Drucker & Michael Porter vs. The “Non-linearists” HERBERT SIMON. (Administrative Behavior.) JAMES MARCH. KARL WEICK. (The Social Psychology of Organizing.) EUGENE WEBB. Henry MINTZBERG. (The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning.) JAMES UTTERBACK. THOMAS KUHN. (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.) CHARLES LINDBLOM. Daniel goleman. INNOVATION BIOGRAPHERS.* (*Transcontinental Railroad, Electrification, Radio, Television, Containerization, DNA, Computers, Military History, Etc.) MOST POLITICAL SCIENTISTS. SILICON VALLEY. Etc.
  • 64. “ Never forget implementation , boys. In our work, it’s what I call the ‘ last 98 percent ’ of the client puzzle.” —Al McDonald, former Managing Director, McKinsey & Co, to a project team that included TP
  • 65. You only find oil if you drill wells . — John Masters, Canadian O & G wildcatter
  • 66. Worth. The. hassle.
  • 67. Some Stuff * Hard is soft. Soft is hard. Social stuff. Emotional stuff. Good stuff. * Mess = Normal = Reality. Rationality = Delusional. (Design accordingly.) * Failure = Normal = Good. (“Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.”) * Do > Think. Act > Talk. Action bias!!!! Experiment!! Decentralization = Holy writ = More independent tries. Implementation-Execution. * Strategic planning, limits thereto. Severe. * Severe limits to scale advantage. Mega-mergers = Bad = Stupid. * “Built to last.” Why???????????? Try: Built to change the world. * People first! People Power! HR (SHOULD) rule! * Women’s world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Market. Wealth. Leadership.) * Aesthetics! (Design primacy.) (Grace.) * EXCELLENCE! * MBWA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! * Don’t over-complicate. (MBWA, Product, People, Action …) * Educate for Risk-taking, Creativity. * B-schools suck. Teach all … except what’s important. D-School = Cool. * Healthcare’s Big Three: Quality. Prevention. Wellness. * R > C. (Sell! Sell! Sell!) * Free markets work. Free trade works. Rise of India-China = Good thing. * Brand You. Self-reliance!!!!!!!!!!!! Liberation!!!! * Survival = PSF/Professional Service Firm “mindset.” * Fun! (“Cool” is Cool.) * Service-obsessed! (“Raving fans.”) * Passion-Exuberance-Enthusiasm. “Hot” Language. WOW! Insanely great!