Circular leaves

Should We Have Two Leadership Teams?

A number of the entrepreneurs we advise have reached the stage of enterprise-building where there are more executives within their organizations than fit naturally on the top management team. They face the question of whether to have a second, more inclusive leadership team that creates a forum for all the “most senior people” to participate…. Read more » Read more

Making each moment count

The Zen of Work: Making Each Moment Count

We do our work in episodes. We sit, pick up the phone, or gather. We engage in discussion, read, rough out numbers, sketch a thought. We go a certain distance, and then the episode ends, and if the thread gets picked up, it’s later, and another episode’s begun. One very simple way to divide episodes… Read more » Read more

Market Logic

Market Logic of a Business: Seven Fundamental Questions

One of the questions we often see in our work is about whether and how to launch a business that doesn’t yet exist.  This question comes up both in the context of early stage start-ups shaping their strategy and in the context of teams in larger companies considering the launch of new businesses. Answering this… Read more » Read more

attrition

What to Do When Your People Are Leaving

There are few things more unsettling for people-driven businesses like tech companies, professional service firms and asset managers than a spike in attrition.  High attrition can easily become a downward spiral, as the exit of key people causes others to question the firm’s health and the opportunities they’ll have. Often management teams haven’t experienced this… Read more » Read more

sail2

What Does “Taking Ownership” Really Mean?

As we’ve described in pieces like “Self Management: A New Architecture” and “Why Is Micromanagement So Infectious?,” the crux of management exists in the meeting of the minds between what we term a sponsor and an owner. The fundamental act of delegation occurs when sponsor and owner agree upon a brief, giving the owner responsibility… Read more » Read more

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Finishing the Work of Founding a Company

Founders often feel their work can never be completed.  Or they feel that the completion of this work could only be the completion of the company, an exit in which the company becomes someone else’s opportunity, someone else’s problem. Let’s play with the opposing idea: that there is a distinct founding era in a company,… Read more » Read more

Sol Lewitt

Why We Invest in Reviews and Rate Performance

GE made headlines with their decision to eliminate ratings. Accenture’s CEO announced in an interview with the Washington Post last year that they were eliminating their annual reviews: “We’re going to get rid of it. Not 100 percent, but we’re going to get rid of probably 90 percent of what we did in the past…. Read more » Read more

How to Revise Thinking

How to Revise One’s Thinking

Decisions we make, in business and in life, are a function of the way the evidence we get, the inferences we make from that evidence, the background beliefs that shape our thinking and the way we connect all these inputs to our objectives.  Every once in a while, a bad decision bears the fingerprints of… Read more » Read more

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Micromanagement 101 and Other Recent Adventures

After publishing Beyond the Holacracy Hype in the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review, we’ve followed up with two digital articles in HBR: How Self-Managed Companies Help People Learn on the Job (co-authored with Ethan Bernstein and Charlotte Dobbs), which lays out some personal learning experiments people can try whatever kind of environment they work… Read more » Read more

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Cultures That Yield the Right Divergence

Two posts ago, I shared my thoughts on Adam Grant’s book Originals. As part of Adam’s listening tour to develop his thinking, he visited our office in New York for a conversation about cultures that are both cohesive and that foster divergent thinking and constructive dissent. In preparing for the dialogue with Adam, I wrote… Read more » Read more

Post-Mortems

The Power of Stepping Back: Conducting Post-Mortems

Nothing is more valuable than maximizing the amount we learn from our experiences, individually and collectively. This learning matters too much to leave to chance. A post-mortem discipline is tremendously valuable to institutionalize in a company, with impact that goes beyond the direct learning from the sessions. This impact is felt particularly as part of… Read more » Read more

Founder and COO

Founder & COO: Pulling Out the Tangles

Highly creative founder-CEOs almost inevitably reach a point where they want or need their companies to run better.  Often, this leads to the hiring of a Chief Operating Officer.  Perhaps no single pair in organizational life is as hard to manage as the founder/CEO and COO relationship. Part of the challenge of turning an obvious,… Read more » Read more

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My Unlikeliest Favorite Business Book

I spend most of my time thinking about how to run companies well. Of course a fair amount of that time is spent absorbed in the particular challenges of running this firm or that firm, and of navigating the specific terrain that a given client or venture has encountered. But an awful lot of time… Read more » Read more