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John Pisapia's blog

Take Care of Your People

I have lectured and established research alliances in many places in this beautiful world spreading the gospel of strategic leadership.  In addition to my natural assignment in the USA, I have taught courses in Macau, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. I also lectured in Shanghai, Turkey, India, Italy, Greece, Paraguay, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, South Africa, Northern Ireland, The United Kingdom, Portugal, Netherlands, Columbia, Canada, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. I have established working research alliances with colleagues in many more places than I have visited, such as Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. We work as a team using the strategic leadership instruments and protocols Dan and I developed even though we may never meet each other face to face.

Being Right is Not Enough!

Kent Lineback in a recent Harvard Business post talks about the difficulty to convince his boss and colleagues about the need for fundamental changes the company needed to make. They essentially were comfortable with the way things were even it meant losing market share and profits.  They couldn’t see the problem or were in denial. So they did the normal thing – they hired a consultant.

After the consultant made his report, Kent approached him and said "What do you think is going on? Every time I make the same points you just did; people nod their head, yawn.  It’s a NATO organization; you know No Action – Talk Only kind of place.  The consultant said, “You made good and accurate points but you didn’t build any bridges.”

We are in the Weeds!

uuA few days ago, some the STQ Online Team (John, Lin, Gianni) shared a pizza at a local pizzeria.  The waiter came over and asked “how are you!”  I responded in my customary appreciative inquiry mode - “great and you?”  He answered, we are in the weeds. Thinking the worst, I aked, “what does that mean?” He said its restaurant talk for “we are busy.”

You Don’t Have To Change!

  • Mohammad Ilyas, Guest Blogger 

  • No, you don’t have to change!  But don’t expect the world to stop Changing! In fact, by all indicators, the pace of change in the world around us is becoming faster and faster. Here are few eye-opening projections from a YouTube video “shift happens.” This six-minute video beautifully describes the dynamics of the changes that our world is going through. It provides glimpses of powerful technology trends, global competitive environment, and the challenges that next generations are expected to face. There is no way that old approaches (and mindset) will provide effective solutions to these challenges. Here are a few relevant highlights from this video: 

Does your Boss use a M16A2 or a AK-47?

Michael P. Warkentien
Doctoral Student, Florida Atlantic University
Guest Blogger

In his 2009 book, the Strategic Leader: New Tactics for a Globalizing World, Pisapia suggests that old science tactics must be replaced by new science tactics. He proposes that, in environments that are ambiguous, unpredictable and somewhat chaotic, simplicity allows an organization to more quickly adjust to current conditions. 

The simplicity is achieved by using the tactic of minimum specifications that are tied to the values of the organization. The Ritz Carlton Corporation provides a good example of a minimum specification to guide employee behavior when they say we are ladies and gentleman serving ladies and gentlemen.  Employees are expected to apply this value when confronted with a difficult situation for which they have not been trained.

The Million Doller Idea

Sherry Andre
Assistant Professor

Johnson & Wales University
Guest Blogger

With the New Year right around the corner, it is pretty safe to say many people will be creating a list of New Year’s resolutions. However, the reality is most people will never accomplish what they set out to achieve. Is it because their idea or plan is flawed? Probably not. Instead, it is much more likely to be the result of a failed attempt at execution, similar to a well defined strategy that fails to reach fruition due to implementation failure.

Do you think you are the exception? I don’t know. If you’re reading this maybe you are, but regardless I ask you to consider the following. I’ve heard we are exposed to at least one $1 million idea every day, but most, in fact almost all of us fail to do anything with those ideas. In a world so obsessed with money and material objects, this sounds a bit contradictory.

How I Missed the Future!

John PisapiaTwo years ago I entered my classroom and a student asked if her baby sister, a twenty two year old undergraduate student at the University of Florida (UF), could sit in the back of the room. Her reason for this request was that it was a holiday weekend and many public spaces on campus were closed.  She explained that her sister who was on break from UF would be attending a family function after class as a surprise guest.  So she needed to hide out for awhile. I said no problem; she could hide in my class since some of my own students were also hiding out; and I began class.

Watermelon, Zucchini, Keystones, & Strategic Leadership

WatermelonIn The Strategic Leader, I suggest that leaders are responsible to create the conditions by which individuals and organizations can flourish.  Consider these two examples.  

Years ago, the central common bond among my executive team was a love of farming. Having come from a non farming childhood, I had difficulty being accepted into the group on any basis except competence.  I set out to hone my farming instincts and not only participated in hay baling, castrating bulls, and butchering pigs but started gardening.  I got a bunch of books on the subject and set out my plants, and watered as directed in a small space in my yard.  Lo and behold, I soon had giant watermelons, corn as high as the sky and more tomatoes and zucchini than I could eat in two years. 

The Byrd Effect

Robert C. Byrd the long term senator from West Virginia died on June 26, 2010; he was 92 years old and served in the congress for 57 years.   He was the white haired senator whose hands shook when he spoke on the floor of the senate.  When I met him his hands weren’t shaking, but he was shaking things up!

My first meeting with the Senator came the week after I was appointed as West Virginia’s State Superintendent of School some 22 years ago. I was practicing the strategic leader tactic of BRIDGING – I flew to DC to meet all the congressional delegation and State department bureaucrats who were on my critical path.  You know - the people you must have good relationships with if you want to move your agenda along.The meeting with the Senator began a series of interactions which taught me some valuable leadership lessons. My most vivid recollection is a lesson I call the “Byrd Effect.


Soccer or a Relay Race?

 t The Strategic Leader Network (SLN)

Is your organization's conception of change a relay race or soccer?

 In a relay race the baton is passed in a sequential, linear, structured way. In a soccer match, the ball is passed up the field in a non sequential, nonlinear order.
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