Sustainable Business Goes Mainstream With Kevin Wilhelm (Episode 104)

Sustainable Business

This week I launch a new series about climate change, sustainable business, and clean technology. My goal is to explore these big, complex topics from multiple perspectives, with an open heart, and for the purpose of generating positive action. Multiple perspective-taking matters because each way we frame these topics is both useful and limiting—in the terminology of integral thinking, both “true” and “partial.” An open heart matters because what’s at stake is momentous, and without it, all that’s left is a big mushy bowl of anxiety. And positive action—well, heck, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

To launch this series (my interview with Ron Pernick of Clean Edge about clean tech was a prequel), I reached out to Kevin Wilhelm. Kevin is the founding leader of Sustainable Business Consulting, author of several books including Return on Sustainability, and a convincing thought leader.

In this conversation, we discuss how Kevin cut his teeth in a field that didn’t yet exist, the people who told him “that won’t happen,” how his company’s work boosts client employee engagement, his role as organizational translator, the forefathers and foremothers of the field, and how he makes sense of recent alarming reports about climate change.

One more thing. In the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with more organizations in clean tech, energy efficiency and climate change than in the previous decade before that. Growing leaders and teams in these organizations is a total joy. As I tell Kevin, if I spent 98% of my time doing this, that wouldn’t be too much. People like Kevin give me inspiration to continue reaching out and making new offers.

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Highlights

  • 7:00 Creating a new market niche
  • 20:00 From “do the right thing” to “investors are demanding this”
  • 25:00 Translating and meeting people where they are at
  • 29:00 Sustainability increases employee engagement, attraction, and retention
  • 33:00 Stock analysts have finally caught on
  • 41:00 What’s missing in the public conversation about climate change
  • 45:00 Amiel’s riff on time horizons, climate change, and adult development
  • 49:00 Why spend $300K watering a lawn in a forest fire region?

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No More Feedback With Carol Sanford (Episode 103)

 

This week, contrarian business thought leader Carol Sanford joins me to discuss her new book, No More Feedback.

If the title strikes you as both surprising and unnerving, welcome to the club. Within organizations giving and receiving feedback are widely considered noble acts. Although we may not be competent at feedback, we know it’s a good thing—key to personal growth and leadership development.

Carol says, “no, not really.”

In her view, any effort to ask another person where I am strong or how I could improve is intrinsically harmful, even toxic. For this reason she offers a harsh critique of annual performance reviews, competency models, and 360 degree interviews. The damage they cause is so profound (e.g. rewarding conformity, shifting attention from big promises, encouraging confirmation bias, and reducing self-reflection) and the foundation upon which they are based is so flawed that it’s foolish to tweak them.

Instead, Carol argues, get rid of feedback entirely.

Three things I learned in talking with Carol:

  1. I share her assessment of most of the activities that she calls “feedback.”
  2. When I use the term “feedback”—for example, as one of four steps in the on-the-job-practice cycle—I’m talking about something that Carol does not consider feedback because the person requesting it is authoring their own learning.
  3. I can stay grounded while listening to someone critique a practice near and dear to my heart, as Carol does with the Enneagram. In fact, it’s kind of fun.

Have a listen, and tell me what you think.

Highlights

  • 10:00 Humans as machines, the first seedbed of feedback
  • 17:00 Three foundational capacities of people to cultivate
  • 24:30 Jerry, a contrarian at Weyerhaeuser pushed out for not conforming
  • 32:00 Feedback raises anxiety
  • 41:00 Opportunities to self-reflect can break attachment to 360 feedback
  • 49:00 Why modifying feedback systems doesn’t work: the premise is flawed
  • 54:00 Carol only has people assess themselves in relation to a big promise they are making in the world
  • 1:02:00 Carol’s work with Seventh Generation when it was in the red
  • 1:12:00 Perils of low fat diet, benefits of intermittent fasting

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Learning While Sprinting With Teresa Woodland (Episode 101)

Teri-Woodland-NVW

Teresa Woodland spent three decades working and living in China during its extraordinary economic and cultural transformation. Now back in the United States, she joins me to discuss what the West can learn from China. We discuss the Chinese ability to learn while sprinting, the virtues of systems thinking and embrace of paradox, how to have a light touch with “back-of-mind” stakeholders, conversations for exploring disappointments, why it’s unwise to “wait until things so down”, and how she wins the right to be on a journey with companies.

Highlights

  • 8:30 Why the Chinese chew on western models of adult development, but don’t swallow them whole
  • 18:00 The talent story in China beneath the economic and policy headlines
  • 26:00 Western action learning works—but is there an even more pragmatic way to learn?
  • 31:00 Lessons from adopting a child and working with an orphanage
  • 37:00 Creating light touches sooner with “back-of-mind” stakeholders
  • 46:00 A Chinese company that looks ahead even while it’s sprinting
  • 52:00 Teresa always starts with the business issues and intersperses the learning in between
  • 57:00 Getting grounded by cuddling with your kids

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Humble Leadership With Ed Schein & Peter Schein (Episode 100)

Humble Leadership

Humble Leadership. Yes, those two words belong together.

This week on the podcast, Ed and Peter Schein join me to discuss their book Humble Leadership. We talk about leadership as a verb, the relationships behind the Singapore economic miracle, innovation through psychological safety, script-based modes of adult relating, the costs of maintaining professional distance, giving up the absurd obsession with eye contact, antibodies that protect the core business, and how Ed’s curiosity landed his first big contract with Digital Equipment Corporation.

Ed Schein is Emeritus Professor at MIT where he taught in the School of Management for fifty years. Peter Schein has had a 30 year career in Silicon Valley in corporate development and business development. They are a father-son team with a powerful message for you and me.

Please share with others.

Highlights

  • 4:30 It’s about the quality of the team, not you
  • 17:00 Getting curious about the person behind the role
  • 27:00 Opening the door to more than transactional relationships
  • 36:00 Using check-ins and check-outs to improve group meetings
  • 50:00 Bringing the water cooler conversation into the meeting itself
  • 57:00 When relationships are asymmetrical
  • 1:03:00 When company executives get threatened by genuine relating

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Episode 98: Why Enneagram Types Matter With Roxanne Howe-Murphy

Roxanne Howe-Murphy

The first time Roxanne Howe-Murphy and I planned to discuss the Enneagram, we were interrupted by an election. So we explored how to heal from Trump Shock (for those needing such healing).

Life gives second chances.

This week Roxanne and I took one such opportunity and ran with it.

The Enneagram is a system for personal and professional development I’ve been using for twenty years. It informs my coaching and, increasingly, my work with leadership teams.

There are nine Enneagram styles or types. Each provides a different answer to the question: What makes me tick?

Walking through all nine types is a big task. Roxanne and I chose instead to explore what is both the most practical and existential question about the Enneagram: why does it matter? What difference does it make when growing yourself to understand your Enneagram type? What difference does it make when coaching or managing someone else to understand theirs? And for those involved in parenting or mentoring kids, how can you shoot yourself in the foot by treating all kids the same, rather than personalizing to what makes each child tick?

Roxanne is a wise and warm presence. I invite you to grab a cup of tea and listen in.

Highlights

  • 4:30 That time Roxanne mis-typed herself
  • 14:00 Enneagram versus Myers-Briggs
  • 22:00 Learning your type makes your goals more true for you
  • 28:00 You share this way of being with 800 million other people
  • 33:00 A leader who didn’t trust herself
  • 44:00 What if you coached a Type Six as if they were you, a Type Nine?
  • 49:30 “I don’t recognize this child. He is so unlike me!”
  • 1:02:00 Our degree of presence matters

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Episode 97: Spiral Dynamics With Jon Freeman

Spiral Dynamics

Waiting four years to discuss Spiral Dynamics on my podcast is like waiting that long on a show about desserts before bringing up chocolate.

Yes, Cindy Wigglesworth used Spiral Dynamics to help us make sense of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, but this week is our first in-depth exploration.

And I’m excited to share it.

Spiral Dynamics is my go-to framework for understanding politics, global events, cultural evolution, and the many big challenges we face as a people and planet. It also explains what happens inside of large organizations, a place where I do most of my coaching and consulting. Whether the topic is global climate change, right wing nationalism, competing economic theories, or race and culture, Spiral Dynamics gives me a way to understand the core worldviews that animate everyday conversations.

That’s why Spiral Dynamics is called the “master code” or code of all codes.

To illuminate this framework, I spoke with Jon Freeman, who, after a long business career, discovered Spiral Dynamics and became one of its leading teachers.

Highlights

  • 9:30 Small bands roaming the savannah to warlord gangs to rule-bound towns—and beyond
  • 14:30 The worldviews dominant within big companies and organizations
  • 25:30 Why you want all worldviews present in organizations
  • 31:00 Reinterpreting the 2008 financial crisis through the Spiral
  • 39:00 The dangers of ignoring the virtues of Blue rules
  • 50:00 Why the U.S. underestimated China
  • 56:30 Humanity prepares for a momentous leap—the shift to second tier
  • 1:03:00 Reinventing Blue order in big corporations
  • 1:08:00 The rise of mafia enterprises and right wing nationalism
  • 1:15:00 Brexit, immigration, and complexity
  • 1:19:00 Climate change, clean tech, and Spiral Wizards in a time of catastrophe

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Overview of Spiral Dynamics

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