Episode 59: Innovation Through Liberating Structures With Keith McCandless [The Amiel Show]

One day in the late 1990s, a friend sent me a link to a new search engine called Google. Up until then, I had used Yahoo to find what I was looking for by diligently clicking through the myriad menus and submenus. It was laborious and frustrating, but what option did I have?

Google changed all of that. It was clean, simple, and fast. This is incredible! I never returned to Yahoo–not even once.

Now, imagine you could experience an equally dramatic shift with meetings.

keith-mccandless

Yeah, I know, it’s hard to imagine. In most organizations, we stick to old habits and settle for mediocre results.

Sure, we might occasionally call in a professional facilitator for an offsite retreat but then we head back to our old ways. What other choice do we have?

This week’s guest, Keith McCandless, has an answer to that question: liberating structures.

Liberating structures are novel, practical, and non-nonsense methods to help you increase innovation while keeping everyone engaged. And when I say “you,” I mean everyone reading this. Keith and his colleague, Henri Lipmanowics, have taken the best conversational practices from organizational development, chunked them into simple usable morsels, and invented some of their own.

This stuff is so practical and “sticky” that I started using it within days of purchasing their book The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures.

There’s no turning back.

Highlights

  • 9:00 Keith is physically restrained from repeating old habits
  • 12:00 Brainstorming and open discussion become a “goat rodeo”
  • 21:00 People’s breath is taken away
  • 25:00 “1-2-4-All”
  • 34:00 “TRIZ”—curmudgeons get creative
  • 39:00 “15%” Solution—do what’s in your power
  • 48:00 “What I Need From You (WINFY)”
  • 56:00 Keith’s “stopping doing” list gets tested at a top business school

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transcript-of-keith-mccandless-interview

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Through 1-2-4-All, people handle decisions they usually would kick upstairs

–Keith McCandless   Tweet this quote

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Episode 57: Servant Leadership At Zingerman’s With Ari Weinzweig [The Amiel Show]

Ari Weinzweig

In 2003 Inc magazine called the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses the “coolest small business in America.”

Step inside the Zingerman’s Deli or any of its other businesses, and you’ll quickly see why. There is a buzz in the air. An aliveness. Customers and employees alike seem genuinely happy to be there. It’s as though there are secret air ducts bringing dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter”) into the building and taking cortisol (a stress hormone) out.

And the food? Well, it is amazing. And world famous. In 2007 Bon Appetit gave its Lifetime Achievement award (an honor rarely bestowed—past winners include Alice Waters and Julia Child) to Zingerman’s cofounders, Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw.

From a financial perspective, Zingerman’s pulls in $50 million a year. As my father would say, “not too shabby!”

Zingerman’s has a special meaning to me. It’s in my hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Deli opened during my teenage years when trying to fit an overstuffed roast beef sandwich into the mouth became a thrilling challenge. Today, every time we go back to Ann Arbor to visit, I take my sons there two or three times–even if the visit is only a few days long!

As a customer, I’m satisfied. As a student of leadership, I’m curious: what goes on behind the scenes to make this business so special? How do the leaders treat employees? How do employees interact with each other? What are the rules of the game that make the outcomes so extraordinary?

Cofounder Ari Weinzweig has explored these questions in a series of books called Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading. The latest just came out and is called A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business.

In this week’s episode, Ari and I talk widely and deeply about all of this–and share some laughs along the way.

I think you’ll enjoy Ari’s clarity, energy, and Chicago accent. Please do the show a favor and share with friends who love food, care about leadership, and/or enjoy feeling alive.

Highlights

  • 18:00 Treating staff like customers – each one is different!
  • 23:00 Ari pours water for thirsty employees
  • 27:00 Peer-to-peer versus parental relationships
  • 34:00 Anarcho-capitalism
  • 40:00 Energizing the workplace
  • 46:30 Front-line employees know the numbers and manage the business
  • 52:00 Determining who will manage is a peer-to-peer decision
  • 1:00:00 Ari uses daily journaling to stop ruminating
  • 1:02:30 The Three Good Things exercise

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The more we use authority, the less effective it is.

–Ari Weinzweig, Co-founder of Zingerman’s  Tweet this quote

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Episode 55 Charles Duhigg on Smarter Faster Better [The Amiel Show]

Charles Duhigg pic

Charles Duhigg’s first book The Power of Habit spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. In addition to being popular, it was darn good.

So when I heard he was coming out with a second book, Smarter Faster Better, I invited him for an interview. After several back and forth emails with his friendly team of publicists, he accepted. (Although I’ve interviewed other luminaries like David Allen, this was my first experience with a publicist–other than the one I hired to help with Practice Greatness.)

The new book’s subtitle is The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. I forgot to ask him which part of business is outside of life. Or if he thought he’d sell more copies calling it Dumber Slower and Worse–which has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Otherwise, it was a good interview.

My goal is always to make my guests laugh, praise my genius, or comment on my humility. I’m not sure any of those things happened this time, but I sensed Charles smiling on a couple of occasions. Small wins, people. Small wins.

Enjoy!

Highlights

  • 3:30 Who ate the chocolate chip cookie?
  • 6:00 Charles’s experiments in meeting new people at conferences
  • 11:00 Why psychological safety matters in produces great teams
  • 16:00 Saturday Night Live’s early seasons—how even misanthropes can work well together
  • 19:00 Making better decisions by thinking probabilistically
  • 26:30 Subversives in nursing homes—transforming chores into choices
  • 28:00 Marine Corps Boot Camp—improving self-motivation by asking why you are doing something

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You’ll be amazed by how much self-motivation gets generated by asking yourself why.

–Charles Duhigg  Tweet this quote

 

Lorne Michaels models psychological safety and he’s not even a particularly nice person.

–Charles Duhigg   Tweet this quote

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Episode 47: Alan Sieler On The 6 Moods Leaders Create [The Amiel Show]

Powerful leaders know how to shift the moods of teams, organizations, and countries.

But first, they need to observe their own moods.

But what exactly is a mood? And why is it so central to action?

To explore these questions, I spoke recently with Alan Sieler, founder of the Newfield Institute and author of the brilliant three-part book series, Coaching to the Human Soul.

Our conversation was both serious and lighthearted–often at the same time. By the end, I felt so in synch with Alan and his message that I was ready to get named an honorary Aussie.

Check it out–and share with your friends.

Alan_Sieler2

Highlights

news_moods

  • 11:00 Why leaders’ moods matter for taking action
  • 16:30 Alan’s “six pack” of moods
  • 22:00 The moods of resentment and peace
  • 25:30 Why a mood of acceptance can help change agents
  • 30:30 The sneaky mood of resignation
  • 38:00 Ambition, the go-for-it mood
  • 44:00 The physical postures of acceptance and ambition
  • 49:00 The mood of anxiety
  • 54:00 The mood of wonder
  • 58:30 Alan reveals his personal experience with moods

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“What makes resignation sneaky is it dresses itself up in disguise as stories & justifications.”

–Alan Sieler  Tweet this quote

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Episode 42: Lisa Marshall On Exiting, Firing, and Burnout Nation [The Amiel Show]

Sometimes it takes a wise voice unperturbed by convention to make us radically rethink everyday acts. Consider these questions:

  • How do you lay someone off?
  • How can you exit an organization gracefully?
  • What does it take to make meetings juicier?

Lisa Marshall wants you to consider these questions with greater maturity, clarity, and thoughtfulness. That way, in the very act of doing what you’re paid to do, you can grow into a leader others want to hire, partner with, and follow.

Listen in as this seasoned leadership coach and author breathes new life into old questions.

Lisa Photo 2

Highlights

  • 5:00  We still live in Burnout Nation
  • 13:30 Why Lisa insists on putting her coachee’s interests first
  • 16:15 Meaningless meetings vs environments rich in stories of helping customers
  • 22:30 Why the juiciest subjects belong at the start of meetings
  • 25:30 Body language tells you whether a “yes” is genuine
  • 32:30 How to tell someone they’ve been laid off
  • 38:00 Leaders hold the walls of the container
  • 49:30 How to leave an organization gracefully
  • 1:00:00 Saying “I’m sorry” before you leave the organization
  • 1:07:30 Why maturity matters
  • 1:11:30 Why Lisa gardens

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Any meeting without an agenda is almost by definition a waste of time.

–Lisa Marshall  Tweet this quote

‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ are the two key elements of completion.

–Lisa Marshall  Tweet this quote

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Episode 40: Nancy Berns On Moving Beyond “Closure” [The Amiel Show]

Your best friend at work leaves for another job. Your spouse gets fired. The great team you’ve been part of gets split up. Chronic illness keeps you from doing things you enjoy. You experience the death of a sibling, parent, or child.

What do these things have in common?

They are examples of loss.

But that’s not all.

They are also situations in which our culture (in the United States at least) encourages us to “get closure.”

Getting closure makes sense, right?

Not so fast, says Dr. Nancy Berns, Professor of Sociology at Drake University and author of Closure: The Rush To End Grief And What It Costs Us.

The pressure to move past loss is harmful to our families, our emotional health, and our organizations.

And there is a better way to grieve–indeed, many better ways, each appropriate at different times to different people.

This week on the podcast, Dr. Berns talks about closure and what becomes possible when we choose other approaches for handling loss.

Nancy Berns beyond closure

Highlights

  • 13:00  Why closure became popular in the 1990s
  • 16:00  Rituals help us feel part of something bigger
  • 20:00  The experience of infant loss
  • 25:00  Conversations Nancy had about the loss of her son, Zachariah
  • 28:00  Knowing who you feel safe sharing with
  • 33:00  Small acts of kindness
  • 38:45  Society’s expectations of how men and women should grieve
  • 43:00  Being part of someone’s death or burial

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Closure is just a word we’ve made up. There’s no research showing that we need closure.

–Dr. Nancy Berns   Tweet this quote

When people hear the word ‘closure,’ they often hear, ‘You’re telling me I need to end my grieving.’

–Dr. Nancy Berns   Tweet this quote

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