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 56: Charles Feltman On The Four Kinds Of Trust [The Amiel Show]

Charles_Feltman_2016_3 (2)

When you say that you “trust” someone–or that someone else “trusts” you–what exactly do you mean? We toss the word “trust” around left and right. We make major life decisions based on it. But what does the word actually mean?

If you want to improve relationships and outcomes at work and beyond, a simple unified view of “trust” just doesn’t cut it.

According to this week’s guest, Charles Feltman, there are four different dimensions to trust: competence, reliability, sincerity, and care.

What happens when you trust someone’s reliability but not their sincerity? Or how about when someone trusts your sincerity but considers you incompetent at a particular activity?

The distinctions that Charles offers in this interview–and in his wonderful book The Thin Book of Trust–can literally change how you make sense of your leadership. And life.

Please listen in and share with friends.

Highlights

  • 9:30 Who gets to decide how trustworthy you are?
  • 16:30 The big problem with the trust/distrust distinction
  • 18:30 Four assessments of a person’s trustworthiness
  • 22:30 What if you’re competent and sincere, but not reliable?
  • 28:30 Drive by requests
  • 40:00 Enemies of trust in sincerity—telling probable truths
  • 51:30 Let key people know where you are not competent
  • 56:00 Approaching someone you don’t trust
  • 1:02:00 What if you sense someone doesn’t trust you?

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Trust is making something I value vulnerable to another person’s actions.

–Charles Feltman  Tweet this quote

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Episode 54: Geoff Bellman on The Consultant’s Calling, Money, And Power [The Amiel Show]

Geoff Bellman pic

This week I speak with Geoff Bellman, author of The Consultants Calling: Bringing Who You Are To What You Do.

This was the first book that told me — when I read it in 1993 — that it was OK to be myself while working. What a novel idea!

Geoff has seen a lot and has a folksy reflective manner I think you’ll enjoy.

Join us for this conversation about consulting, money, friendship, and power

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Episode 52: The Rise And Fall Of Blackberry With Jacquie McNish [The Amiel Show]

Jackie McNish

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On Tuesday Blackberry announced it was discontinuing the Blackberry Classic smartphone.

I never owned a Blackberry, but my wife did when I first met her 13 years ago. Although she never treated it as a Crackberry, it did seem to follow her everywhere.

The Blackberry ruled the universe for many years. And then one day Apple released the iPhone. The world hasn’t been the same since.

But what really happened at this upstart Canadian company based in the small town of Waterloo, Ontario? Who were the people behind the company’s atmospheric rise and ultimate fall? What choices did they make? How did they relate as leaders and human beings?

This is the subject of last year’s highly touted book, Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry.

Jacquie McNish, one of the book’s coauthors and an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter, joins me this week to talk about the amazing human story behind Blackberry.

Highlights

  • 7:00  Who were the two CEOs–and how did they come together?
  • 14:15 Inspired by the Art of War
  • 19:30 A revelation about technology while holding a screaming baby
  • 22:45 Refusing to play the Wall Street and Silicon Valley games
  • 28:30  Dinner with Palm’s CEO, “Topper”
  • 32:45 A patent battle stresses the CEO’s relationship
  • 36:20 A devastating trauma and betrayal
  • 42:45 The Apple/AT&T agreement changes the rules of the game
  • 53:45 Waterloo, Ontario: a tech startup ecosystem

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Blackberry’s CEOs were connected at the hip in business dealings.

–Jacquie McNish Tweet this quote

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Episode 51: The Manly Apology, A Jedi Leadership Trick [The Amiel Show]

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Women apologize too often. Men apologize too little. Not just at home, but in the workplace. Maybe even more so in the workplace.

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In this episode, I challenge men to give more apologies, to do it in a real way, and to stop making lame excuses for not apologizing. I also weave in clips from my interview last year with Robert Augustus Masters, author of To Be A Man: A Guide to True Masculine Power. Robert spoke movingly and compassionately about the power of apologies, and how apologizing requires power. I riff off of his comments.

This is a Jedi Leadership Trick, so you’ll also get the Five Steps to a Manly Apology.

This episode is 15 minutes long.

Highlights

  • 5:30  Five lame excuses for not apologizing
  • 10:20 Five steps to a manly apology: Get Clear, Get Still, Get In Touch, Get Real, Get It Done

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“I’m sorry if this made you angry” is not an apology. It’s the opposite of an apology.

–Amiel Handelsman  Tweet this quote

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