Know Yourself

Know Yourself

One of my fondest memories from high school was leaving a dance and walking a mile to retrieve my car.  The snowflakes were falling gently and I felt warmed by them as I walked.  In my solitude their peaceful descent felt comforting, like God was touching me and telling me to be who he created me to be.  But who was that?  Many years later I read this article and it reminded me of that memory.  The article helps me better understand who I am. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

From “Managing Oneself” by Peter Drucker* in HBR Leadership Fundamentals.

“Now most of us, even those of us with modest endowments, will have to learn to manage ourselves.  We will have to learn to develop ourselves.  We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution” (p. 7).

“We need to know our strengths in order to know where to belong” (p. 8).

The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis.  Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen.  Nine or twelve months later, compare the actual results with your expectations” (p. 8).

“Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis.

  • First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths.  Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.
  • Second, work on improving your strengths….
  • Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it” (p. 8).

“It is equally essential to remedy your bad habits — the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance” (p. 8).

“Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization.  It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction” (p. 8).

How Do You Get Things Done?

“Comparing your expectations with your results also indicates what not to do….In those areas a person…should not take on work, jobs, and assignments.  One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.  It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence….Energy, resources, and time should go instead to making a competent person into a star performer” (pp. 8, 9).

“Amazingly few people know how they get things done….For knowledge workers, How do I perform? may be an even more important question than What are my strengths?….A few common personality traits usually determine how a person performs” (p. 9).
  • “The first thing to know is whether you are a reader or a listener” (p. 9).
  • “The second thing to know about how one performs is to know how one learns” (p. 9).
    • “[Writers] do not, as a rule, learn by listening or reading.  They learn by writing” (p. 9).
    •  “Some people learn by doing.
    • Others learn by hearing themselves talk” (p. 10).
    • “Am I reader or a listener?  and How do I learn? are the first questions to ask.  But they are by no means the only ones.
  • To manage yourself effectively, you also have to ask,
    • Do I work well with people, or am I a loner?
    • And if you work well with people, you then must ask, In what relationship?” (p. 10).
    • “Another crucial question is, Do I produce results as a decision maker or as an adviser?” (p. 10).
    • “Other important questions to ask include, Do I perform well under stress, or do I need a highly structured and predictable environment?
    • Do I work best in a big organization or a small one?  Few people work well in all kinds of environments” (p. 10).

“The conclusion bears repeating: Do not try to change yourself — you are unlikely to succeed.  But work hard to improve the way you perform” (p. 10).

“To be able to manage yourself, you finally have to ask, What are my values?….To work in an organization whose value system is unacceptable or incompatible with one’s own condemns a person both to frustration and nonperformance” (pp. 10, 11).

Successful careers are not planned They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values” (p. 12).

“Knowledge workers in particular have to ask a question that has not been asked before: What should my contribution be?  To answer it, they must address three distinct elements:

  • What does the situation require?
  • Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
  • And finally, What results have to be achieved to make a difference?” (p. 12).

“Managing yourself requires taking responsibility for relationships.  This has two parts.

  • The first is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are.  They perversely insist on behaving like human beings.  This means that they too have their strengths; they too have their ways of getting things done; they too have their values.  To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of your coworkers….
  • The second of relationship responsibility is taking responsibility for communication” (p. 13).

Which Prodigal Are We?

Which brother are we?  The younger or the older; the “aesthetic” or the “ethical”?

Or are we the father?

These are the intriguing questions Tim Keller asks us in The Prodigal God.

First, What Does “Prodigal” Mean?

Prodigal has two meanings: “wayward” and “recklessly spendthrift,” meaning to spend all one has.

Second, Who Is Prodigal?

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), we generally think of the younger brother as the prodigal son; therefore, we think of prodigals as those wayward souls who live what Kierkegaard terms the aesthetic lifestyle — the pursuit of sensual pleasures, the hedonists.

But Tim Keller wants to see that the elder son is also a prodigal son.  He is wayward for living a life of ethical strictness.  Like his younger sibling he is wayward because “he resented his father’s authority and sought ways of getting out from under it” (p.42).

In other words, both the younger and older brothers were prodigal sons.  “They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do” (p. 42).  The tragedy was that each loved not their own father but their father’s wealth.  Why?  They believed obtaining their father’s wealth was the secret to their own happiness.  The elder son tried to earn it by playing according to the rules and then trying to keep the upper hand over his father and brother by manipulating justice in his favor (i.e., gaming the rules); the younger son tried to test the limits of his father’s love by doing the opposite.  Like Adam and Eve, they each tried to displace the authority of the father.  “Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge” (p. 50).

The Prodigal God

Finally, Tim Keller wishes us to see that the father was prodigal — a wayward, recklessly spendthrift Savior, Lord, and Judge who sought to deeply change hearts.

  • Regarding the rebellion of his younger son, the father “maintains his affection…and bears the agony when the son asks for his father’s things, the son’s inheritance, so he can leave.  In effect, according to the culture of the time, he wishes his father were dead.  Yet when his son returns, the father immediately restores his standing in the family (symbolized by offering his son the best robe in the house) and throws an 0ver-the-top feast to which the whole town is invited.
  • Regarding the rebellion of his elder son, the father “responds again with amazing tenderness when the son refuses to join the feast and confronts his father in a disrespectful manner, ‘My son,’ he begins, ‘despite how you’ve insulted me publicly, I still want you in the feast.  I am not going to disown your brother, but I don’t want to disown you, either.  I challenge you to swallow your pride and come into the feast.  The choice is yours.  Will you or will you not?’  It is an unexpectedly gracious, dramatic appeal” (p. 33).

So Which Prodigal Are We?

  • Negative: Do we seek power for ourselves by breaking the rules?
  • Negative: Do we seek power for ourselves by playing by, even gaming, the rules?
  • Positive: Do we seek to be radically dependent on God and accepting and lavishing grace?

To be honest, I identify more with the sons than the father, especially the elder son.  And I see reflections of the two sons in my own life and industries.  In both there is a constant tension between the innovators/entrepreneurs and bureaucrats, each competing to capture an organization’s wealth.  I am the same way.

Having read Keller’s book I also better understand what Jesus means when he says the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:15).   In this story the last was the younger brother and the first was the older brother.  The story ends with a party for the younger brother to which the older brother is invited but hesitates to attend.  The older brother was not grace-full while the younger brother was grace-empty.  But the younger brother knew it.  He came back home seeking to be forgiven and reconciled.

How Does The Story End?

We don’t know how the story ends, but my guess is that the younger son lavishes grace on someone else, maybe his older brother, and his older brother eventually does the same.

This book can be read in a day.   The challenge is not to displace God’s authority in my own life and industries.


Enlightening Influence

Two Worlds

Imagine a world in which:

  • Businesses are typified by “greed, selfishness, manipulation, secrecy, and a single-minded focus on winning. Wealth creation is the key indicator of success.”
  • Business people are characterized by “distrust, anxiety, self-absorption, fear, burnout, and feelings of abuse.”
  • Interactions include “conflict, lawsuits, contract breaking, retribution, and disrespect.”
  • Scholars focus on “theories of problem-solving, reciprocity and justice, managing uncertainty, overcoming resistance, achieving profitability, and competing successful against others” (Cameron et al, Positive Organization Scholarship, 2003, p. 3).

Imagine another world in which:

  • Businesses are typified by “appreciation, collaboration, virtuousness, vitality, and meaningfulness. Creating abundance and human well-being are key indicators of success.”
  • Business people are characterized by “trustworthiness, resilience, wisdom, humility, and high levels of positive energy.”
  • Interactions are characterized by “compassion, loyalty, honesty, respect, and forgiveness.”
  • Scholars focus on “theories of excellence, transcendence, positive deviance, extraordinary performance, and positive spirals of flourishing.” (Cameron et al, Positive Organization Scholarship, 2003, p. 3).

For those familiar with the writings of St. Augustine, this sounds like his comparison between the City of Man and the City of God.  However, it is really a comparison between negative and positive worldviews in the Positive Organization Scholarship literature .  A key question is how those worldviews relate.  It is not one or the other.  POS “does not reject the value and significance of the phenomena of the first worldview.  Rather, it emphasizes phenomena represented in the second worldview….The second worldview merely calls attention to phenomena that represents positive deviance” (Cameron et al, Positive Organization Scholarship, 2003, p. 4).

In other words, the hope is that the second worldview, a more positive one must eventually transform or enlighten the first worldview.  This is also what St. Augustine had in mind.  We can participate in Christ and in that work.  That is the essence of a transformative worldview from a Christian, specifically reformed perspective.

Influence Strategies

Let’s make the concept of this worldview very concrete by applying it to the challenge of influencing others.  Suppose we wish to influence others toward creating a life of abundance and well-being.

There are distinct strategies we could use:

  • We could tell or persuade others to change.
  • We could force or coerce others to change.
  • We could invite others to influence an important decision toward change.
  • We could empower others to influence us.

As paradoxical as it seems, we best influence others toward creating abundance and well-being when we empower them to influence us.

Let’s begin with a discussion on influence.

What is Influence?

When we think of influence, we tend to think of power and politics. But influence is fundamentally a process through which people attempt to meet their needs by helping other people to do the same.  The venue for influence is decision-making.  The result is change.  Unfortunately, many times the direction of influence toward change is one-way: from the person with more power to the person with less power.

So what would influence look like in its enlightened, transformed state?  To explore this, we will return to our discussion of influence from a Positive Organization Scholarship (POS) perspective.

Influence from a POS Perspective

POS defines two states of leadership.  In the Normal State of Leadership

  • “[We] seek equilibrium….We are comfort-centered, externally-directed, self-focused, and [externally] closed.  We construct a world of social exchange and economic transaction.  The central purpose of anyone in such a system is to obtain status and resources while avoiding pain and punishment.  When emerging reality threatens our deeply held values by suggesting we need to move into the unknown, we resist.  We become self-deceptive because we say change is needed, yet we want to avoid the risk of losing what we have, so we seek to ‘manage’ change in ways we do not find deeply threatening” (Quinn, Building the Bridge As You Walk Across It, 2004, p. 69).
  • “In the normal state, we typically employ two general strategies of change: Telling, that is, making logical arguments for change and Forcing, that is, using forms of leverage such as threat or firing or ostracizing.  Less often, we use a third strategy, Participating, that is, using open dialogue and pursuing win-win strategies” (Quinn, ibid, p. 69).

Telling: Emphasizing the Technical.  The telling strategy is based on the technical (expertise of the speaker) and its goal is to persuade for, or in favor of, the speaker perception of truth.

  • “The Telling strategy assumes that people are guided by reason.  If others decide it is in their best interest to change, they’ll gladly do so.  Any resistance to change [the perspective assumes] could only be the product of ignorance and superstition….”
  • “The Telling strategy is most effective for situations in which people are not very invested…. “The Telling strategy is not as effective in situations requiring significant behavioral change because it is based on a narrow, cognitive view of human systems” (Quinn, ibid, p. 70).
  • See  for what the social sciences have to say about influence strategies.

Forcing: Emphasizing the Political.  The Forcing strategy is based on the political (the power of the speaker) and its goal is to enforce something or force someone to do something in favor of the speaker–possibly to preserve her/his point of view or status quo.

  • “The Forcing strategy seeks to leverage people into changing.  Usually some form of political or economic power is exerted.  Efforts may range from subtle manipulation to physical force.”
  • “The Forcing strategy usually evokes anger, resistance, and damage to the fundamental relationship.  Thus, it is not like to result in the kind of voluntary commitment that is necessary for healthy and enthusiastic change….”
  • “In the normal state, then, we commonly seek to create change by engaging in a two-step process: first, tell others why they need to change; second, if telling fails, figure out how to force them to change” ” (Quinn, ibid, p. 71).

Participating: Emphasizing the Interpersonal. The Participating strategy utilizes participating strategies to help people create ideas or complete tasks with each other.  It is a “norming” (converging) activity in that it tends build consensus.

  • “The Participating strategy involves a more collaborative approach.  This approach recognizes that people are influenced by habits, norms, and institutional policies and culture.  Here the change agent welcomes the input of others, who are seen as equals in the change process.  Instead of trying to make change happen simply by providing information, as in the Telling strategy, the change agent focuses on surfacing, clarifying, and reconstructing people’s values and on resolving hidden conflicts.  The emphasis is on communication and cooperation….”
  • “Participating strategies and active listening require that each person allows the other to express his or her own truth while insisting that his or her own truth be heard.  The exchange can then give rise to a new and more complex truth” (Quinn, ibid, p. 71).

A key point is that in the Normal State of Leadership, influence is the result of credibility and compliance.  In the Fundamental State of Leadership, influence is the result of an internalization of values.

The Fundamental State of Leadership

The internalization of values can transcend all of our behavior.  This can result in a deep change — a conversion.  When we are in the Fundamental State of Leadership, our values have transcended our behavior.  Unfortunately, it is a short-term phenomenon.  “The fundamental state of leadership is a temporary psychological condition. When we are in this state, we become:

  • [Less] comfort-centered and more purpose-centered.  We stop asking, What do I want?…Instead we ask, What result do I want to create?…[That] may attract us outside our comfort zone and into the uncertain journey that is the creative state.  As we begin to pursue purpose in the face of uncertainty, we gain hope and energy” (Quinn, ibid, p. 22).
  • [Less] externally-directed and more internally-directed….We begin to transcend our own hypocrisy, closing the gap between who we think we are and who we think we should be” (Quinn, ibid, p. 22).
  • [Less] self-focused and more other-focused.  As our sense of achievement and integrity increases, we feel more secure, less selfish, and more willing to put the common good ahead of the preservation of self” (Quinn, ibid, p. 22).
  • [Less] internally-closed and more externally-open.  When we meet our needs for increased achievement, integrity, and affiliation, we increase our confidence that we can learn our way forward in an uncertain and changing world” (Quinn, ibid, p. 23).

A Psychology of The Fundamental State

“Life is difficult….Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult” (Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 15).

“Life is a series of problems…. Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems.  Without discipline we solve nothing” (Peck, ibid, p. 15).  “[It] is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning” (Peck, ibid, p. 16).

“Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, attempt to avoid problems” (Peck, ibid, p. 16).

“[The tools] of suffering, [the] means of experiencing the pain of problems constructively [i.e., discipline]: …delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing” (Peck, ibid, p. 18).  But underlying discipline is death and rebirth, and love.

  • Delaying Gratification.  “Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with.  It is the only decent way to live” (Peck, ibid, p. 19).  This feeling of being valuable is a cornerstone of self-discipline because when one considers oneself valuable one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary.  Self-discipline is self-caring” (Peck, ibid, p. 24).
  • Acceptance of Responsibility. “Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity” (Peck, ibid, p. 42).  “We have…the freedom to choose every step of the way the manner in which we are going to respond to and deal with [oppressive] forces” (Peck, ibid, p. 43).
  • Dedication to Truth. “[We] must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our own self-interest, than our comfort.  Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth.  Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs” (Peck, ibid, p. 50).
  • Balancing.  “Mature mental health demands…an extraordinary capacity to flexibly and continually restrike a delicate balance between conflicting needs, goals, duties, responsibilities, directions, etc….Balancing is a discipline precisely because the act of giving something up is painful” (Peck, ibid, p. 66).
  • Death and Rebirth. “The fact that the unconscious is one step ahead of the conscious may seem strange to lay readers; it is, however, a fact that applies to not only in this specific instance but so generally that is is a basic principle of mental functioning….What makes crises of these transition periods in the life cycle — that is, problematic and painful — is that in successfully working our way through them we must give up cherished notions and old ways of doing and looking at things.  Many people are either unwilling or unable to suffer the pain of giving up the outgrown which needs to be forsaken.  Consequently, they cling, often forever, to their old patterns of thinking and behaving, thus failing to negotiate any crisis, to truly grow up, and to experience the joyful sense of rebirth that accompanies the successful transition into greater maturity” (Peck, ibid, p. 71).  “It is in the giving up of self that human beings can find the most ecstatic and lasting, solid, durable joy in life.  And it is death that provides life with all its meaning.  This ‘secret’ is the central wisdom of religion” (Peck, ibid, p. 72).
  • Love. “Discipline…is the means of human spiritual evolution….[The] motive, the energy for discline…[is] love…. (Peck, ibid, p. 81).  “Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action” (Peck, ibid, p. 83).  “Love…is a form of work or a form of courage.  Specifically, it is work or courage directed toward the nurture or our own or another’s spiritual growth” (Peck, ibid, p. 120).
  • Attention. “The principal form that the work of love takes is attention.  When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to that person’s spiritual growth” (Peck, ibid, p. 120).  “By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening….Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work” (Peck, ibid, p. 121).  “An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside one’s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, stepping in his or her shoes” (Peck, ibid, p. 127).  “The energy required for the discipline of bracketing and the focusing of total attention is so great that it can be accomplished only by love, by the will to extend oneself for mutual growth” (Peck, ibid, p. 128).
  • Courage. “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future” (Peck, ibid, p. 131).
  • Entropy“The essence of life is change, a panoply of growth and decay.  Elect life and growth, and you elect change and the prospect of death” (Peck, ibid, p. 133). “[All] life represents a risk, and the more lovingly we live our lives the more risks we take” (Peck, ibid, p. 134).
  • Serendipity. Serendipity is a gift.  It is a manifestation of grace.  Grace, “manifested in part by ‘valuable or agreeable things not sought for,’ is available to everyone, but…while some take advantage of it, others do not.”  Why not?  “[Let] me suggest that one of the reasons we fail to take advantage of grace is that we are not fully aware of its presence – that is, we don’t find valuable things not sought for, because we fail to appreciate the value of the gift when it is given us” (Peck, ibid, p. 257).

But there is even something beyond the Fundamental State of Leadership and its psychology.

­­A Transforming Theory

St. Augustine (354-430) was one of the early influencers of what today we called the Reformed-Calvinist worldview.  A contemporary influencer is Richard Mouw (1940-  ).  In his book When the Kings Come Marching In, Mouw admits that those in the Reformed-Calvinist tradition have often stated their case in “too facile” a fashion, choosing to debate issues almost exclusively on philosophical and systematic-theological grounds.  In response, he chose to provide a biblical analogy based on Biblical passages concerning the new heaven (City of God) and new earth (City of Man, transformed by the City of God).   The analogy comes from Isaiah 60, Isaiah 2, and Revelation 21 and 22 (Mouw, When the Kings Go Marching In, 1983, p. x, xi). (Author’s note: much of the following comes from a similar paper by Steen and VanderVeen, “Will There Be Marketing In Heaven,” Perspectives, November 13, 2003.)

  • Isaiah 60 records a vision of a magnificent, transformed city: “many of the people and objects from Isaiah’s own day appear within its walls, but they have assumed different roles, they perform different functions” (Mouw, ibid, p. xii). Mouw pictures the Holy City “as a center of commerce, a place which receives the vessels, goods, and currency of commercial activity”; for instance, “camels come from Midian, Ephah, and Sheba, carrying gold and frankincense” (v. 6), ships arrive from Tarshish, “bearing silver and gold” (v. 9), and expensive lumber comes from Lebanon (v. 13) (Mouw, ibid, p. 7). Mouw notes that the animals “are primarily important as commercial goods and vehicles” and that, along with sailing ships and lumber, they are no longer “signs of pagan cultural strength or displays of alien power.” Instead, they now “proclaim the name of the Lord;” these things “are gathered into the Holy City to be put to good use there” (Mouw, ibid, p. 8, 9).
  • Isaiah 2, in contrast, condemns the wicked and their works. Isaiah “seems to picture God as destroying the same kinds of things which are then brought into the Holy City in chapter 60” (Mouw, p. 10). According to chapter 2, these things are to be judged by the Lord because “people trust in these things for their security” (Mouw, ibid, p. 11).

The Kingdom of God “Breaks” In

Mouw answers the contrast between Isaiah 60 and Isaiah 2 in the following way:

“My own impression is that the judgment that will visit the ships of Tarshish is of a purifying sort. We might think here of the ‘breaking’ of the ships of Tarshish as more like the breaking of a horse rather than the breaking of a vase. The judgment is meant to tame, not destroy. The ships of Tarshish will be harnessed for service in the Holy City–a process that will require a ‘breaking’ of sorts (Mouw, ibid, p. 13).

In other words, the function of the ships will not be destroyed, but their direction will be changed — they will bring complete praise to the Lord, for this is what they were created to do.  No longer will they symbolize “haughtiness and rebellion” (Mouw, ibid, p. 13), but obedience.

Likewise, influence is a function but also a direction.  It too can be transformed.

In short, a transformative view of influence toward positive change — toward abundance and well-being — puts the Fundamental State of Leadership in the context of becoming perfect; that is, holy, complete in Christ, what we were created to be, but not as God ourselves:

  • “The Old Testament is essentially the account of a God who forms for himself a people who are specifically called to be holy” (Smith, Called to be Saints, 2014, p. 17).
  • “Jesus uses language that makes some readers uncomfortable; he speaks of perfection (Smith, ibid, p. 18).
  • “When we view the human vocation and sanctification from the vantage point of creation, we see the human vocation as fulfillment of creation.  To be complete in Christ, to be ‘perfect,’ is quite simply to be what one was created to be” (Smith, ibid, p. 19).
  • God intended for us a life of abundance and holistic well-being.  That is what he called us to be.  But such a life for ourselves and others is the result of if not coincidental with a life of perfection.

Becoming perfect, which will not occur during our lifetimes, results from a biblical vision of life, which is a “radical dependence on God and in deep mutual interdependence with others” (Smith, ibid, p. 25); in short, such a radical dependence on God and deep mutual interdependence on others is a response to Special Grace.

Radical Dependence and Mutual Interdependence

What does such radical dependence on God and mutual interdependence on others look like?

  • “A holy person is a wise person.”
  • “A holy person does good work.”
  • “A holy person lives in a manner consistent with how God has loved us.”
  • “A holy person is a happy person” (Smith, ibid, p. 36).


How do we influence others toward abundance and well-being?

Here are four distinct strategies and two distinct humanistic worldviews:

  • Normal State of Leadership
    • We could tell or persuade others to join us.
    • We could force or coerce others to join us.  We could do this by politicking those above us in the hierarchy or moving ourselves into positions of power.
    • We could invite others to influence our decisions.  We could give them a voice but not a vote.
  • Fundamental State of Leadership: We could empower others to influence us.
  • An Augustinian State of Leadership: To this we could add a third worldview: a more positive one that must eventually transform or enlighten the second worldview that enlightens the first one.  That third worldview puts Christ at the center.  This is what St. Augustine had in mind.  We can participate in Christ and in that work of being a light to the world.  That is the essence of a transformative worldview from a Christian, specifically reformed perspective.  In this work we are radically dependent on God and in deeply and mutually interdependent with others.

Thus as influencers toward abundance and well-being we must keep fighting against our tendency to be independent and remain in control, as humans and as humanity, which leads to disorganization and undifferentiation.  The goal is to encourage others toward holiness which comes from being in Christ.  But the entropy of sin will be an extremely powerful force.  We are totally dependent on God in transforming ourselves and the world.

That may not be a satisfying, concrete answer.  It is, however, an answer of faith.  As Augustine said: “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand” (St. Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, trans. Rettig).

What Is Your Company’s Creativity Bias?

creativity at work

“[What] allows a company to respond proactively to diverse pressures is the development of creativity as a core competence” (p. 2).

“Creativity, in short, is the core of all the competencies of your organization because creativity is what makes something better or new” (p. 2).

Creativity is “a purposeful activity (or set of activities) that produces valuable products, services, processes, or ideas that are better or new” (p. 4).

“[Our] research identifies four main types of creativity, which we try to conceptualize as creative profiles.  By profile, we mean a description of the biases and preferred creative activities of particular individuals, groups, and organizations, together with the desired creative outcomes of their activities” (p. 6).

Creative Biases

What is your creative bias?

Creativity Types (2)

Imagine.  “This is the profile of radical breaks with the past and breakthrough ideas that can change the marketplace….Individuals with the Imagine profile tend to be generalists or artistic types who enjoy exploring and easily change direction when solving a problem” (p. 8).

Invest.  “This is the profile that shows the intensity of competition and achievement — everyone is either a winner or a loser….Individuals with the Invest profile are focused on performance and goals….This group typically includes members of the finance department and marketing” (p. 9).

Improve. “This is the profile of large, complex organizations that create products and services that must not fail….People in the Improve profile are systematic, careful, and practical….Improve people are typically found in engineering departments or in operational groups that must maintain complex systems and reduce errors” (p. 11).

Incubate.  “This is the profile associated with having a great place to work and learn….People in the Incubate profile are committed to their community, focusing on shared values and communication….This group is often in human resources, training, or organizational development functions” (p. 13).

Creativity Dimensions

Internal Focus.  “The Incubate and Improve…profiles have an internal focus.  Practices with an internal focus are oriented toward developing underlying competencies — such as systems and culture — that support their purposes.  Such practices endorse the idea that creativity operates within the boundaries of the firm’s processes and values and enhance their performance over time” (p. 33).

External Focus.  “The Imagine and Invest profiles…have an external focus.  These practices adapt to forces external to the organization, anticipating and prospecting new opportunities, ideas, and markets.  Such practices focus on the emerging competitive situation.  An externally focused firm may view creativity as a means to an end: the development of a product, the accumulation of wealth, or overcoming a barrier” (p. 33).

Divergent Approach.  “The Imagine and Incubate profiles…take a divergent approach.  Practices with a divergent approach are typically directed toward exploring options.  Their methods and goals need to be flexible and allow for emerging ideas and dynamic possibilities.  Diversity if valued to help generate original ideas” (p. 33).

Convergent Approach.  “The Invest and Improve profiles…take the convergent approach.  Practices with a convergent approach are directed toward clearly defined goals and systems.  Their methods rely on structure, processes, consistency, and efficiency” (pp. 33-34).

Magnitude.  “‘Big’ or ‘new’ creativity produces diversification and differentiation through breakthrough innovations or dislocating the status quo.  ‘Small’ or ‘better’ creativity focuses on enhanced quality, productivity, and efficiency by improving and maintaining existing processes and products” (p. 34).

Speed.  “‘Fast’ or ‘short-term’ creativity produces immediate results and predictable shareholder returns using quantifiable measures and rigorous project management.  ‘Slow’ or ‘long-term’ creativity produces qualitatively improved abilities, learning, and sustainability through the development and dissemination of strong values and culture” (pp. 34-35).

Choosing Doors

John Ortberg All the Places to Go


“‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way'” (Viktor Frankl, p, 8).

Open Doors

“Open doors in the Bible never exist just for the people offered them.  They involve opportunity, but it’s the opportunity to bless someone else.  An open door may be thrilling to me, but it doesn’t exist solely for my benefit.  An open door is not just a picture of something good.  It involves a good that we do not yet fully know.  An open door doesn’t offer a complete view of the future.  An open door means opportunity, mystery, possibility — but not a guarantee” (pp. 9, 10).

“We do not always get to know which door we are supposed to go through….This has been an ironic and often painful part of my life.  God opens doors but then doesn’t seem to tell me which ones I’m supposed to go through….And I struggle with them.  I think maybe that’s part of why God works through open doors.  They help us struggle with our real dreams and motives” (pp. 11, 12).

“[God] doesn’t say we should ask which door to go through but for the tools to choose wisely.  God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue it’s the person you become….God’s primary will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in his image, somebody with the character of Jesus” (pp. 16, 17).

“Very often God’s will for you will be to ‘I want you to decide,’ because decision making is an indispensable part of character formation” (p. 16).

“And God is in the open-door business.  This means a new way of looking at God.  He prefers yes to no.  He loves adventure and opportunity.  This means a new way of looking at life.  I do not have to be afraid of failure.  I do not have to live in fear over circumstance.  Each moment is an opportunity to look for a door that opens up into God and his presence” (p. 16).

Open-Door vs. Closed-Door People

  • Open-Door People Are Unhindered by Uncertainty
    • “As a general rule, with God, information is given on a need-to-know basis, and God decides who needs to know what, when” (p. 29).
  • Open-door people are comfortable with ambiguity and risk.
    • Or, if not comfortable with it, at least they decide not to allow it to paralyze them” (p. 32).
    • “Going through open doors means being willing to leave my idols behind” (p. 34).
  • Open-Door People Are Blessed to Bless
    • “Going through an open door always requires a spirit of generosity.  And generosity flows out of an attitude of abundance, not an attitude of scarcity” (p. 36).
    • “Mission began with God.  God has a mission.  That’s why he made for himself a people, but his mission came before people.  His mission came before the Bible.  He gave his mission a Bible.  he gave his mission a people.  God’s mission, God’s project, is to bless.  Open doors are an invitation to be part of the missio Dei.  The reason we love mission statements is we’re made in the image of a missional God. His mission is to bless out of his great abundance.  And that’s your mission too.  Just to bless.  Where should you do it?  Wherever you go” (p. 37).
  • Open-Door People Resist and Persist
    • “Open-door people resist discouragement in the fact of obstacles and persist in faithfulness despite long periods of waiting” (p. 38).
    • “If you’re not dead, you’re not done” (p. 40).
  • Open-Door People Have Fewer Regrets
    • “As we get older, we come to regret those actions that we did not take” (p. 42).
    • “Open-Door People Learn about Themselves”
    • “Open-Door People Are Not Paralyzed by Their Imperfection”

FOMO vs. Love

“It turns out that this epidemic of comparing our lives to others’ that social media has escalated has led to a new electronically spread disease.  Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, calls it FOMO: fear of missing out” (pp. 58, 59).

“The real, deep reason that FOMO exists is that we were made for more and we are missing out.  Only the “more” isn’t more money or more success or more impressive experiences I can write about on Facebook.  My hunger for more turns out to be insatiable if I try to satisfy it by wanting more for me” (p. 63).

“I wonder what you’re choosing.  I know we live in a society that will tell you, ‘Be reasonable.  Be prudent.  Build a successful career.  Be secure.  Use all your time and energy and resources.’  You can do that if you want to — great resume, great benefits — or you can bet everything on love” (p. 67).

“Anytime you step through an open door, your story and Jesus’ story begin to get mixed up together, and you become part of the work of God in this world” (p. 77).

Door #1 or Door #2?

“If I’m facing a choice and I want to find God’s will for my life, I don’t begin by asking which choice is God’s will for my life.  I need to begin by asking for wisdom” (p. 108).

  • Seek Wisdom: “The Bible has a word for people who choose doors well, and that word is wise.  Not lucky.  Not wealthy.  Not successful.  Wisdom in the Bible is not the same thing as having a really high IQ, nor is it restricted to people with advanced educational degrees.  Wisdom in the Bible is the ability to make great decisions” (p. 109).
  • Don’t Wait for Passion: “Don’t wait for passion to lead you somewhere you’re not.  Start by bringing passion to the place where you are” (p. 113).
  • Practice on Small Decisions
  • Simplify: “Open-door people tend to simplify their lives so they can save their finite supply of willpower for the decisions that matter most” (p. 116).
  • Discern Your Problem
    • “Your identity is defined by the problem you embrace.  Tell me what your problem is, and I’ll tell you who you are” (p. 117).
    • “You need a God-sized problem.  If you don’t have one, your current problem is you don’t have a problem.  Life is facing and solving problems.  When God calls people, he calls them to face a problem.  The standard word for the condition of being truly problem-free is dead” (p. 118).
    • “What is breaking your heart?  The walls, like the walls in Nehemiah’s Jerusalem, are broken in this world all around us.  Child hunger, the abortion of countless lives, human trafficking, lack of education, extreme poverty, millions of people who don’t even know who Jesus is.  There are so many broken walls.  Door #1 or Door #2?  Your serious concern for one of the world’s serious problems may tell you” (p. 119).
  • Ask Wise People: “One of the best pieces of advice I ever got many years ago was to ask a few wise, trusted people in my life to be kind of a personal board of directors for me.  I asked them if we could have a conversation about once a month for an extended period of time, an hour or two, about what matters most: my soul, my family, my marriage, the work I’m doing, my relationships, my emotional life, my finances” (p. 123).
  • Experiment: “Discerning open doors is never the same as finding guaranteed success.  God actually called many people to walk through doors that would lead to enormous difficulty and not external reward.  Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet for a reason.  John the Baptist lost his head.  In Silicon Valley, where I work, venture capitalists will often make it a rule never to invest in someone who has not failed with serious amounts of money and time.  Why?  Because they know that people learn through failure, that where people do failure avoidance, they will never achieve the kind of courage and risk taking that lead to bold innovation.  Why do we think that God is concerned with helping us live lives of failure avoidance?” (pp. 127, 128).

A Social Science Perspective of Influencing With Power


By Grenny et al.

The Serenity Trap

“The reason most of us pray for serenity rather than doggedly seeking a new solution to what ails us is that, left to our own devices, we don’t come up with the big ideas that solve the problems that have us stumped.  We fall into the serenity trap every time we seek solace when we should be seeking a solution.  To bring this problem to its knees, we first have to see ourselves as influencers” (p. 7).

Coping Vs. Influencing

“People tend to be better copers than influencers.  In fact, we’re wonderful at inventing ways to cope” (p. 8).

“To cite an often-spoken metaphor that helps us understand what’s happening….it’s as if a steady stream of automobiles is hurtling toward a cliff and then plunging to destruction.  A  community leader catches sight of the devastating carnage and springs into action.  However, instead of rushing to the top of the cliff and finding a way to prevent drivers from speeding toward disaster, the bureaucrat parks a fleet of ambulances at the bottom of the cliff” (p. 9).

Focus on a Few Vital Behaviors

“The breakthrough discoveries of most influence geniuses is that enormous influence comes from focusing on just a few vital behaviors.  Even the most pervasive problems will often yield to changes in a handful of high-leverage behaviors.  Find these, and you’ve found the beginning of influence” (p. 23).

“When faced with a number of possible options, take care to search for strategies that focus on specific behaviors” (p. 26).

“Discover a few vital behaviors, change those, and problems — no matter their size — topple like a house of cards” (p. 28).

Study the best (“positive deviants”)

E.g., the best teachers: “One of the vital behaviors consists of the use of praise versus the use of punishment.  Top performers reward positive performance far more frequently than their counterparts.  Bottom performers quickly become discouraged and mutter such things as, ‘Didn’t I just teach you that two minutes ago?’  The best consistently reinforce even moderately good performance, and learning flourishes.  Another vital behavior they found is that top performers rapidly alternate between teaching and questioning…(p. 33).

E.g., the best teams: “[They] behaved in ways that kept them from becoming cynical.  Their ‘recovery behaviors’ involved stepping up to conversations their peers avoided.  Team members vigorously but skillfully challenged their supervisor.  They were candid with peers who weren’t carrying their weight.  And finally, they were capable of talking to senior management — the same senior managers more cynical peers avoided — about policies and practices that they believed impeded improvements” (p. 39).

Value and Confidence

People choose their behaviors based on what they think will happen to them as a result” (p. 49).

Many thoughts are incomplete or inaccurate, leading people to disastrous, unhealthy, and inconvenient behaviors that are causing some of the problems they currently experience” (p. 49).

The factors influencing whether people choose to enact a vital behavior are based on two essential expectations….First, it is worth it? (If not, why waste the effort?)  And second, Can they do this thing? (If not, why try?)” (pp. 50, 51).

The most common tool we use to change others’ expectations is the use of verbal persuasion….When it comes to resistant problems, verbal persuasion rarely works….The great persuader is personal experience” (pp. 50, 51).

Personal Motivation

“[Intrinsic satisfaction] asks the question: Do individuals take personal satisfaction from doing the required activity?  That is, does enacting the vital behavior itself bring people pleasure?….The point?  If we could only find a way to make a healthy behavior intrinsically satisfying, or an unhealthy behavior inherently undesirable, then we wouldn’t need to keep applying pressure — forever.  The behavior would carry its own motivational power — forever” (p. 84).

New Behaviors and New Motives

“Actually, there are two very powerful and ethical ways of helping humans change their reaction to a previously neutral or noxious behavior: creating new experiences and creating new motives” (p. 88).

“The ‘try it, you’ll like it’ strategy can be further aided by the use of models” (p. 91).

Unpleasant Tasks, Internal Motivation

“Unpleasant endeavors require a whole different sort of motivation that can come only from within.  People stimulate this internal motivation by investing themselves in an activity.  That is, they make the activity an issue of personal significance” (p. 93).

Why Are We Morally Disengaged?

“Often humans react to their immediate environments as if they were on autopilot.  They don’t pause to consider how their immediate choices reflect their ideals, values, or moral codes….[Albert] Bundura has repeatedly looked at the question, How can we stimulate people to connect their actions to their values and beliefs? and has turned it on its head by asking, How is it that people are able to maintain moral disengagement?  That is, how do people find ways to enact behaviors that appear so clearly at odds with their espoused values?…These strategies that transform us into amoral agents include moral justification, dehumanization, minimizing, and displacing responsibility” (pp. 95, 97).

Moral Disengagement Relates To Corporate Silos, Dysfunctional Behavior

“Now for a corporate application.  If you’re a leader attempting to break down silos, encourage collaboration, and engage teamwork across your organization, take note.  Moral disengagement always accompanies political, combative, and self-centered behavior.  You’ll see this kind of routine moral disengagement in the form of narrow labels (‘bean counters,’ ‘gear heads,’ ‘corporate,’ ‘the field,’ ‘them,’ and ‘they’) used to dehumanize other individuals and groups.  To reengage people morally — and to re-humanize targets that people readily and easily abuse — drop labels and substitute names.  Confront self-serving and judgmental descriptions of other people and groups.  Finally, demonstrate by example the need to refer to individuals by name and with respect for their needs” (pp. 103, 104).

Change Of Heart Can Only Be Chosen

“What Miller teaches us is that a change of heart can’t be imposed; it can only be chosen.  People are capable of making enormous sacrifices when their actions are anchored in their own values.  On the other hand, they’ll resist compulsion on pain of death.  The difference between sacrifice and punishment is not the amount of pain but the amount of choice….When you surrender control, you win the possibility of influencing even addictive and highly entrenched behaviors.  And you gain access to one of the most powerful human motivations — the power of a committed heart” (pp. 106, 107).

Practice Makes Perfect Vs. The Skill of Practice Makes Perfect

“Many of the profound and persistent problems we face stem more from a lack of skill (which in turn stems from a lack of deliberate practice) than from a genetic curse, a lack of courage, or a character flaw.  Self-discipline, long viewed as a character trait, and elite performance, similarly linked to genetic gifts, stem from the ability to engage in guided practice of clearly defined skills.  Learn how to practice the right actions, and you can master everything from withstanding the temptations of chocolate to holding an awkward discussion with your boss….The critical factor is using time wisely.  It’s the skill of practice that makes perfect” (p. 121).

Social Motivation

“[Savvy people] ensure that people feel praised, emotionally supported, and encouraged by those around them – every time they enact vital behaviors. Similarly, they take steps to ensure that people feel discouraged or even socially sanctioned when choosing unhealthy behaviors” (pp. 141, 142).

“To harness the immense power of social support, sometimes you need to find only one respected individual who will fly in the face of history and model a new and healthier vital behaviors” (p. 143).

“Smart influencers spend a disproportionate amount of time with formal leaders to ensure that the leaders are using their social influence to encourage vital behaviors” (p. 145).

Diffusion of Innovative Behavior

“What predicted whether an innovation was widely accepted was whether a specific group of people embraced it.  Period. [Everett] Rogers learned that the first people to latch onto a new idea are unlike the masses in many ways. He called these people innovators….The key to getting the majority of any population to adopt a vital behavior is to find out who these innovators are and avoid them like the plague….The second group to try an innovation is made up of what Rogers termed ‘early adopters’….But they are different from innovators in one critical respect: They are socially connected and respected” (p. 148).

“If you are interested in engaging opinion leaders in your own change efforts, the good news is finding them is quite easy. Since opinion leaders are employees who are most admired and connected to others in the organization, simply ask people to make a list of the employees who they believe are the most influential and respected” (p. 152).

Opinion Leader Characteristics

“People…pay attention to individuals who possess two important qualities. First, these people are viewed as knowledgeable about the issue at hand. They tend to stay connected to their area of expertise, often through a variety of sources. Second, opinion leaders are viewed as trustworthy” (p. 153).

“Teachers learn more than students, mentors more than mentees, and trainers more than trainees…” (p. 187).

Structural Motivation: Rewards Come Third

“In a well-balance change effort, rewards come third. Influence masters first ensure that vital behaviors connect to intrinsic satisfaction. Next, they line up social support. They double check both of these areas before they actually choose extrinsic rewards to motivate behavior. If you don’t follow this careful order, you’re likely to be disappointed” (p. 194).

“Organizational scholars have long found that many employees leave corporate award ceremonies not motivated and excited as intended, but with exactly the opposite reaction. They exit demotivated and upset because they themselves weren’t honored. In fact, many see the whole ceremony as a sham. Interviews reveal that typically half of those who attend corporate awards programs believe that they were far better qualified than the person who was honored but that they didn’t get picked for political reasons” (p. 196).

Incentives Don’t Compensate

“Don’t use incentives to compensate for your failure to engage personal and social motivation. Nevertheless, let’s be clear. Influence masters eventually use rewards and punishments” (p. 198).

Symbolic Messages

“Once again, it wasn’t the cash value of the reward that mattered. It was the symbolic message that motivated behavior. It was the moral and social motivation that gave the token award supreme value” (p. 203).

“Reward small improvements along the way. Don’t wait until people achieve phenomenal results, but reward small improvements in behavior” (p. 205).

“When you reward performance, you typically know that the reward will help propel behavior in the desired direction, but with punishment you don’t know what you’re going to get. You might get compliance, but only over the short term” (p. 211).

“The point isn’t that people need to be threatened in order to perform. The point is that if you aren’t willing to go to the mat when people violate a core value (such as giving their best effort), that value loses its moral force in the organization” (p. 216).

Change The Environment To Change Behavior

“Rarely does the average person conceive of changing the physical world as a way of changing behavior. We see that others are misbehaving, and we look to change them, not their environment. Caught up in the human side of things, we completely miss the subtle yet powerful sources such as the size of a room or the impact of a chair. Consequently, one of our most powerful sources of influence (the physical environment) is often the least used because it’s the least noticeable” (p. 222).

“The influence masters we just cited had one strategy in common: They affected how information found its way from the dark nooks and crannies of the unknown into the light of day. By providing small cues in the environment, they drew attention to critical data points, and they changed how people thought and eventually how they behaved” (p. 230).

Seminal Theories for OPS and MKTG Applications

Inward (Operations Perspective)

Value =

Throughput (TP)/Inventory (I)+Operational Expenses (OE) =


  • Increasing Throughput (TP): “the rate at which the system generates money ($) through sales”…“the $ coming in….
  • Decreasing Inventory (I): “all the $ the system has invested in purchasing things which it intends to sell”…“the $ inside of the system….”
  • Decreasing Operational Expenses (OE): “all the $ the system spends to turn inventory into throughput”…“the $ we have to pay to make throughput happen” (pp. 73,74 in The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt).


  1. “Identify the system’s bottlenecks….
  2. Decide how to exploit the bottlenecks….
  3. Subordinate everything else to the above decision…
  4. Elevate the system’s bottlenecks
  5. If, in a previous step, a bottleneck has been broken, go back to Step #1″ (p. 301 in The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt).

Thus, sometimes “cost-saving” decisions can reduce TP more than I or OE and therefore reduce success!


Outward (Customer Perspective)

Value =

Perceived Quality/Perceived Sacrifice =


  • Increasing Perceived Quality
  • Decreasing Perceived Sacrifice

Thus, sometimes decisions about marketing cues (e.g, pricing) can reduce perceived quality more than perceived sacrifice and therefore reduce perceived value; on the other hand, sometimes decisions about marketing cues can increase perceived quality more than perceived sacrifice and therefore increase perceived value (Zeithmal in “Consumer Perceptions of Price, Quality, and Value…”).   Which cues do what to which segment of customers is the art and science of consumer behavior!


  1. Identify the consumer cues and how they influence perceived quality and perceived sacrifice
  2. Decide how to exploit the cues….
  3. Subordinate everything else to the above decision…
  4. Elevate the system’s cues
  5. If, in a previous step, a bottleneck has been broken, go back to Step #1

And here’s the trick regarding perceptions: people have reference points that anchor their perceptions.  People believe a price is high or low depending on the last price or last average of prices they saw; same with perceptions of the quality of whatever they are seeing or experiencing.

A Seminal Lean Start-Up Process Book

Running Lean

By Ash Maurya

“What separates successful startups from unsuccessful ones is not necessarily the fact that successful startups began with a better initial plan (or Plan A), but rather that they find a plan that works before running out of resources.  Running Lean is a systematic process for iterating from Plan A to a plan that works, before running out of resources (p. xxi).

Why are startups hard?  [They are] built on several incremental innovations (and failures), “the classic product-centric approach front-loads some customer involvement during the requirements-gathering phase but leaves most of the customer validation until after the software is released,” and, “even though customers hold all the answers, you simply cannot ask them what they want….given the right context, customers can clearly articulate their problems, but it’s your job to come up with the solution” (p. xxii).

Customer Development is a term coined by Steve Blank and is used to describe the parallel process of building a continuous feedback loop with customer throughout the product development cycle….The key takeaway from Customer Development can be best summed up as Get out of the building” (p. xxiii).

“[Bootstrapping] is funding with customer resources” (p. xxiii)

Three core meta-principles: Document your Plan A [BUILD], Systematically Test your Plan [MEASURE] and Identify the Riskiest Parts of your Plan [LEARN] [NOTE change in sequence vs. book.]


Meta-Principle 1: Document Your Plan A

Reasonable smart people can rationalize anything, but entrepreneurs are especially gifted at this [Steve Job’s REALITY DISTORTION].Most entrepreneurs start with a strong initial vision and a Plan A for realizing that vision.  Unfortunately, most Plan A’s don’t work (p. 4).

“The first step is writing down your vision and then sharing it with at least one person” (p. 4).

  • Business Model Canvas

Your job isn’t just building the best solution, but owning the entire business model and making all the pieces fit (p. 7).

Lean Canvas helps deconstruct your business model into nine distinct subparts that are then systematically tested, in order of highest to lowest risk” (p. 7).

Meta-Principle 2: Systematically Test Your Plan  [Note change in sequence vs. book.]

“Startups are a risk business, and our real job as entrepreneurs is to systematically de-risk our startups over time” (p. 7).

The biggest risk for most startups is building something nobody wants” (p. 8).

  • Stage 1: Problem/Solution Fit: Do I have a problem worth solving?
    • [Do I understand the problem?  Is it severe enough to motivate action?]
    • Is the solution something customers want?  Will they pay for it [market desirability]
    • Can the problem be solved [technical feasibility]
    • [Can I make money? [business validity]
    • [Is this solution scalable?]
  • Stage 2: Product/Market Fit: [Have I built something that will work that people will  want badly enough they will pre-order at a price I can live with?]
  • Stage 3: Scale: How do I accelerate growth?

“Before product/market fit, the focus of the startup centers on learning and pivots.  After product/market fit, the focus shifts toward growth and optimizations….Pivots are about finding a plan that works, while optimizations are about accelerating that plan (p. 9).

“[The] ideal time to raise your big round of funding is after product/market fit, because at that time, both you and your investors have aligned goals: to scale the business” (p. 10).

“Selling to investors without any level of validation is a form of waste” (p. 11).

Meta-Principle 3: Identify the Riskiest Parts of Your Plan

“With your Plan A documented and your starting risks prioritized, you are now ready to systematically test your plan” (p. 11).  Experiment: Build-Measure-Learn.

    • Create Your Lean Canvas
    • Brainstorm possible customers
      • Distinguish between customers and users [customers pay]” (p. 24)
      • “Split broad customer segments into smaller ones…You can’t effectively build, design, and position a product for everyone” (p. 24).
      • Sketch a Lean Canvas for each customer segment…I recommend starting with the top two or three customer segments you feel you  understand the best or find most promising” (p. 25)
    • Problem and Customer Segments
      • List the top one to three problems…Another way to think about problems is in terms of the jobs customers need done” (p. 27).
      • List existing alternatives…how you think your early adopters address these problems today….Do nothing could also be a viable alternative” (p. 27).
      • Identify other user roles…[customer, user, decision-maker, influencer]
      • “Hone in on possible early adopters…. Your objective is to define an early adopter, not a mainstream customer (p. 28).
    • Unique Value Proposition
      • “Why you are worth buying and getting attention” (p. 29
      • “Be different, but make sure your difference matter” (p. 29).
      • “Target early adopters” and “focus on finished story benefits” (p. 30).
      • [Answer WHY, HOW, WHAT — the “Golden Circle”]
      • “Create a high concept pitch” [10-second pitch using “like”]
    • Solution
      • “[Don’t] fully define your solution yet” (p. 32)
    • Channels
      • “Failing to find a significant path to customers is among the top reasons why startups fail” (p. 33)
    • Revenue Streams and Cost Structure
      • “Your MVP should address not only the top problems customers have identified as being important to them, but also the problems that are worth solving” (p. 37)
      • “I believe that if you intend to charge for a product, you should charge from day one” (p. 37)
      • “It’s hard to accurately calculate [operational costs] too far into the future.  Instead focus on the  present:
        • What will it  cost you to interview 30 to 50 customers?
        • What will it cost you to build and  launch your MVP?
        • What will your ongoing burn rate look like in  terms of both fixed and variable costs?
    • Key Metrics
      • Acquisition: “Acquisition describes the point when you turn an unaware visitor  into  an interested prospect” (p.  40) {Leads}
      • Activation: “Activation describes the point when the interested [prospect] has his first gratifying user experience” (p. 40) {Prospects}.
      • Retention: “Retention measures ‘repeated use’ and/or engagement with your product” (p. 41) {Customers}
      • Revenue
      • Referral
    • Unfair Advantage
      • “A real unfair advantage is something that cannot be easily copied or bought” (p. 43).
    • Get Ready to Interview Customers
      • “Build a frame around learning, not pitching….Before you can pitch the “right” solution, you have  to understand the “right” customer problem.  In the learning frame, the roles are reversed: you set the context, but then you let the customers do most of the talking” (p. 73).
      • ‘“Stick to a script” (p. 74).
      • Cast a wider net initially” (p. 74).
      • Prefer face-to-face interviews” (p. 74).
      • Start with people you know” (p. 74).
      • Take someone along with you” (p. 75).
      • “Pick a neutral location” (p. 75).
      • Document results immediately after the interview” (p. 75).
      • Prepare yourself to interview 30 to 60 people” (p. 76).
    • The Problem Interview: “Your first objective is measuring how customers react to your top problems” (p. 81)  [Can also supplement by using social media to post problems and gauge reaction.]
      • Welcome (Set the Stage)
      • Collect Demographics (Test Customer Segment)
      • Tell a Story (Set Problem Context)
      • Problem Ranking (Test Problem)
      • Explore Customer’s Worldview (Test Problem [and how customers address the problem today]
      • Wrap Up [Hook and Ask]
      • Document Results
    • Debrief of Problem Interview:  “You are done when you have interviewed at least 10 people and you…
      • Can identify the demographics of an early adopter
      • Have a must-have problem
      • Can describe how customers solve the problem today” (Running Lean, p. 91)
    • The Solution Interview: “The main objective here is to use a ‘demo’ to help customers visualize your solution and validate that it will solve their problem….You want to build enough of the solution (or a proxy, like screenshots, a prototype, etc) that you can put in front of customers for the purpose of measuring their reaction and further defining the requirements for  your minimum viable product (MVP) ” (pp. 95, 96).  “Use old prospects” and “Mix in some new prospects” (p. 103).
      • Welcome (Set the Stage)
      • Collect Demographics (Test Customer Segment)
      • Tell a Story (Set Problem Context)
      • Demo (Test Solution)
      • Test Pricing (Revenue Streams)
      • Wrap Up [Hook and Ask]
      • Document Results
    • Debrief the Solution Interview
      • Share results of solution interviews, treat feedback as data, and reflect on what you will do
      • “You are done when you are confident that you…
        • Can identify the demographics of an early adopter
        • Have a must-have problem
        • Can define the minimum features needed to solve this problem
        • Have a price the customer is willing to pay
        • Can build a business around it (using a back-of-the-envelope calculation)” (Running Lean, p. 108).
    • The MVP Interview: “Your objective is to sign them up to use your [product] and, in the process, test out your messaging, pricing, and activation flow” (p. 127).
      • Welcome (Set the Stage)
      • Show Landing Page [or Prototype] (Test MVP)
      • Show Pricing Page (Test Pricing)
      • Signup [Pre-order] and Activation (Test Solution)
      • Wrap Up (Keep Feedback Loop Open)
      • Document Results

Company Building: Greatness Vs. Success

Good to Great

By Jim Collins

Flywheel vs. Doomloop

  • “No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand problem, no one killer innovation, not solitary lucky break, no miracle moment” (p. 186)
  • “Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough. Like pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough” (p. 186).

Greatness vs. Success

  • “Enduring great companies don’t exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders…” (p. 194)
  • “Indeed, the real question is not, ‘Why greatness?’ but ‘What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?’ If you have to ask the question ‘Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?’ then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.

Disciplined People

  • Level 5 Leadership
    • A paradoxical mix of personal humility (give others credit [window] for what when right and take the blame [mirror] for what went wrong and professional will (results, diligence)
    • Equals Servant Leadership
  • First Who, Then What
    • “Who?” questions come before “what?” questions
    • Sustainable succession vs a genius with a thousand helpers” (p. 47)
    • Right people “on the bus;” wrong people “off the bus”
    • Best people on greatest opportunities, not problems
    • No doubtful hiring.
    • Validate change (change when it is not just a matter of having someone in the wrong seat on the bus)
    • Leading people is inspiring them with a vision and example
    • Compensation doesn’t motivate the right behaviors from the wrong people; “Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than specific knowledge, background, or skill” (p. 64); the right people are self-motivated
    • Layoffs are not a strategy to meet numbers

Disciplined Thought

  • Confront the Brutal Facts
    • Create a culture in which the truth can be heard
      • Lead with questions
      • Encourage engagement/participation (LDRS 291!)
      • Review (“conduct autopsies”) without blame
    • Retain hope that no matter what your team will succeed
  • Hedgehog Concept
    • “Hedgehogs simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything (p. 91).
      • Understanding what the team can be best at the world at doing (vs. want to be best at) and what it cannot be best at the world at
      • Understanding what the team is most passionate about doing
      • Understanding what sustains the team economically – it’s economic engine
      • Defining the Hedgehog Concept is an iterative process

Disciplined Action

  • Culture of Discipline
    • “Bureaucratic cultures arise to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which arise from having the wrong people on the bus in the first place. If you get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off, you don’t need stultifying bureaucracy” (p. 142)
    • “The single most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside the three circles” (p. 142)
    • Is there such a thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
  • Technology Accelerators
    • “Does the technology fit directly with your Hedgehog Concept?” (p. 162)
    • “Great companies respond with thoughtfulness and creativity…mediocre companies react and lurch about…(p. 162).

THE Goal (Part V): Called To Be Joyful

By Gordon T. Smith

Emotional Holiness

“One of the primary indicators and fruits of faith is joy in midst of a confusing and broken world….[Joy] arises from a life lived in wisdom, with a vision and passion for good work and with a resolve and capacity to love as we have been loved….[Joy is] the fruit of or the evidence of our union with Christ” (p. 154).

“What defines the church and the Christian, intellectually and emotionally, is the deep awareness that all will be well.  This means we will get angry; we will fear and we will get discouraged.  And we will mourn the deep losses of life.  And yet sorrow is not our true home.  We were designed to live in joy” (p. 157).

“[Holy] people are happy people.  They know how to dance….They are not happy all the time, of course.  It is important to stress that holy people feel keenly the fragmentation of the world.  They sorrow with those who sorrow; they know how to be angry without sinning. They know what it is to be profoundly discouraged without allowing their discouragement to go to seed so that they are nothing but cynics.  They know the pain and sorrow of mourning; they have experienced loss and they have walked with others who have experienced loss.  And yet what defines them is an emotional center, an emotional resilience, an emotional maturity that is perhaps most evident in deep and abiding joy” (p. 158).

By John Ortberg

“The decision to sin always includes the thought that I cannot really trust God to watch out for my well-being” (p. 69).


“There is nothing more winsome or attractive than a person who is secure enough in being loved by God that he or she lives with a spirit of openness and transparency and without guile” (p. 76).

“Some people use their intelligence as a veil.  Others use ignorance.  Some veil themselves in busyness, in their work, in their vast competence and success….Ironically, many people in the church veil themselves in spirituality” (p. 79).


“Acceptance is an act of the heart.  To accept someone is to affirm to them that you think it’s a very good thing they are alive.  We communicate this in a hundred ways, but the most powerful way is to listen with patience and compassion as they reveal their dark secrets” (p. 101).


“[Generally] people who don’t read others well aren’t aware that they don’t” (p 108).

“[There] is a direct correlation between the number of words you say and the number of sins you commit” (p. 111).

“Every human being you know is making a request of their friends, though it often goes unspoken.  Here is what they ask: ‘Motivate me.  Call out the best in me.  Believe in me.  Encourage me when I’m tempted to quit.  Speak truth to me and remind me of my deepest values.  Help me achieve my greatest potential.  Tell me again what God called me to be, what I might yet become” (p. 121).

Conflict and Confront

“To be alive means to be in conflict” (p. 131).

“Avoidance kills community.  Avoidance causes resentment to fester inside you” (p. 132).

“Scott Peck says that most of the time we live in what he calls pseudocommunity.  Its hallmark is the avoidance of conflict.  In pseudocommunity we keep things safe; we speak in generalities, we say things that those around us will agree with.  We tell little white lies to make sure no one’s feelings get hurt, no one gets tense.  We keep relationships pleasant and well-oiled.  Conversations are carefully filtered to make sure no one gets offended; if we feel hurt or irritated, we are careful to hide it.  Pseudocommunity is agreeable and polite and gentle and stagnant — and ultimately fatal” (p. 180).


Forgiveness is not:

  • Excusing
  • Forgetting
  • Reconciling.  Reconciling “requires the rebuilding of trust, and that means good faith on the part of both parties” (p. 158).

Forgiveness is:

  • “[When] we decide to stop trying to get even….
  • A new way of seeing and feeling….[When] we discover the humanity of the one who hurt us….
  • [When] you find yourself wishing the other person well” (pp. 159, 160).


“There are few joys in life like being wanted, chosen, embraced.  There are few pains like being excluded, rejected, left out.  At the core of Christian community is a choice, in the words of Miroslav Volf’s great book on the subject, between exclusion and embrace….It is part of our fallenness that makes us want to be in not just any group but an exclusive group….We exclude others because of pride or fear or ignorance or the desire to feel superior” (p. 186).

“The desire to make it into the Inner Ring is by its nature insatiable.  You will never succeed.  However, when it comes to the choice to include people, you can hardly fail.  They may refuse you, of course.  But the mere effort will expand your heart and bring joy to God” (p. 192).

“Bonding activities might involve people in the same ethnic group or economic status.  Bridging connections, by definition, are ‘outward looking and encompass people across diverge social cleavages” (p. 195).s

Be Grateful

“The ability to assign value is one of the rarest and most precious gifts in the world.  People who live deeply in community learn to discern and express the value of other human beings.  They are masters of expressing love in word and gesture.  They assign high worth, value, and importance to others by viewing them as precious gifts…In a word, what they give is called honor” (p. 205).  They are grateful for God and others.