Book Review, Posts

Loonshots – Safi Bahcall

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and  Transform Industries: Amazon.co.uk: Safi Bahcall: 9781250225610: Books

Title: Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
Author: Safi Bahcall
Publication Date: 2019
Recommendation Score: 4.5/5


Safi Bahcall is an entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in physics. In his book “Loonshots” he tries to apply the principle of physics to innovation in business ventures. The book is inspired by two success stories in recent American history 1) the turnaround of the Bell Telephone Company, led by Theodore Vail, during the first decade of the 20th century which resulted in creating the Bell Labs, 2) and by the efforts of Vannevar Bush to improve the technology of the US army during the second world war.

The author states that for an organization to nurture innovation, the following conditions should be met:

Phase Separation and Dynamic Equilibrium

Create phase separation and dynamic equilibrium: to separate the artists, who want to create crazy technology, from soldiers whose discipline ensures that the technology is being implemented efficiently (quality, cost, time). And create a continuous exchange of ideas, information, and people between the two groups (dynamic equilibrium) to allow the transfer of technology from the innovation phase to the implementation phase, and to allow the transfer of field experience to innovators.

The Leader as a Gardener

Innovation leaders should be like gardeners: their role is to balance between the two groups and to manage the transfer between them. Not to intervene as soldiers, nor to contribute as artists. And leaders should love their artists and soldiers equally.

Management, Posts

Beware the Bandwagon Effect

Book Review, Posts

The Ride of a Lifetime – Robert Iger

Title: The Ride of a Lifetime
Author: Robert Iger
Publication Date: 2019
Recommendation Score: 4.5/5


Robert Iger had been the CEO of the Walt Disney Company for 15 years. In his book “The Ride of a Lifetime”, Iger tells his story from humble beginnings to global fame. In hindsight, the author tries to extract some lessons for successful leadership. The book is pleasant to read. Its storytelling is enjoyable. It gives you insights into how the life of a CEO looks like.

I recommend it: enjoy the story and take the lessons with a grain of salt.

Book Review

Leadership is not an exact science, and most books dealing with it are a waste of time. The best thing about “The Ride of a Lifetime” is the no-nonsense approach to leadership; the author tells you what has worked for him and what has not. There are no references to (HBS) academic theories, nor pseudo-scientific studies. When I finished reading the book, the impression I had was that leadership is all about being trustworthy, emotionally aware, and able to take bold risks.

The author starts the first chapter by “This book is not a memoir”, as he wants it to be a book of lessons. I disagree. Iger is trying to connect the dots backward and to make sense of past events. This process is very risky, especially when based on one person’s perspective. It is prone to the hindsight bias; when we try to find causality between correlated events where there might be none. The author admits the role of chance at the end of the book, but convey the message that the traits that served him well are the reason for his achievements. This is why I think that the lessons should be taken with a grain of salt. Some problems have no unique solution. Again, leadership is not an exact science.

Continue reading “The Ride of a Lifetime – Robert Iger”
Personal Development, Posts, Understand Yourself

The Comfort Zone

ComfortZone

Posts, Quotes

If Serving is below you, then Leadership is beyond you.

Management, Posts

Outsmart The Planning Fallacy

Projects go over-budget and over-schedule; small ones, like renovating your kitchen, and huge ones, like constructing the Sydney Opera House. One main reason is our overconfident optimistic approach to planning. Behavioral psychologists call this the “Planning Fallacy“.

This post defines the concept of planning fallacy, gives examples of its consequences on some global projects, and provides some tips to mitigate it.

The Planning Fallacy

The planning fallacy is when we underestimate the time and resources needed to complete a project. We are often optimistic about our performance and the outcome of the project, so we take our desires for real plans.

The planning fallacy is a cognitive bias that fools our decision-making ability into considering the best-case scenario. It has a somewhat positive side, which is risk-taking. This cognitive bias allows us to take both small risks, such as opening a small business, and huge risks such as starting a war.

Catastrophic Project Plans

The following chart presents some major projects around the globe that went catastrophically over-budget. Notice the trend; the bigger the project, the higher the overbudget.

Sans titre

Mitigate the Planning Fallacy

Among the methods to mitigate the planning fallacy, we present the major three: Continue reading “Outsmart The Planning Fallacy”

Management, Posts

6 Tips for New Managers

Becoming a manager is a stressful, yet rewarding, experience. Beginners in management often fail in their first role. This is mainly because of their misconceptions about what it means to be the boss. In this post, you will find the main misconceptions about management, reality, and tips for successful leadership. The main misconceptions of the new managers are:

  1. I can rely on the same skills that led me to the management role.
  2. Being a manager means I am more independent.
  3. Formal authority is a source of power.
  4. Results delivery requires controlling people.
  5. I must build relationships with individual subordinates.
  6. I will make sure that the operation will keep running smoothly.

1 – Be a leader. Don’t be a star.

  • Myth: I can rely on the same skills that led me to my new role.
  • Reality: The required skills to be a successful manager are completely different. You learn them mostly by experience. You need to put your emotional intelligence at work.
  • Tip: Prepare yourself for the management role before you take it. If you already are a manager, it is never too late. Learn and practice.

2 – Stay humble, you can’t do whatever you want

  • Myth: Now I can implement my brilliant plans. I can change everything.
  • Reality: You are tied with a complex chain of interactions. You discover that someone who works for you could get you fired.
  • Tip: Build your network inside the organization. Learn how to negotiate and influence. Understand the interdependencies and stay humble.

Angry boss yelling at his assistant secretary

3 – Don’t rely on your formal authority. You must earn it.

  • Myth: My position is a source of power. 
  • Reality: You can’t be more wrong. It will surprise you that people will not give you respect and trust you for your formal authority, you need to earn it.
  • Tip: Demonstrate competence (listen more than talk), character (your willingness to do the right thing) and influence in the organization.

The more talented the subordinate, the less likely he/she is to follow orders.

4 – Don’t seek compliance. Seek commitment.

  • Myth: I must get compliance from my subordinates. I am in charge; I control.
  • Reality: More often than not, direct reports will not respond when you tell them to do something.
  • Tip: Build commitment by empowering individuals to achieve team goals. Don’t use orders.

Continue reading “6 Tips for New Managers”

Management, Posts, Quotes

Plans are worthless, but Planning is everything.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Management, Personal Development, Posts

The Optimal Level of Stress

Stress is the response of your body to challenge. Your level of stress predicts your performance in your job and your relationships. On the one hand, high levels of stress would cause strong anxiety, exhaustion, and impaired performance. On the other hand, low levels of stress would result in boredom, inactivity, and disengagement.

You need an optimal amount of stress to perform at your best. In psychology, this is known as the Yerkes–Dodson law, depicted in the figure below.

The Optimal Level of Stress

If you are a manager or a leader, make sure that your people are experiencing the optimal level of stress to stay engaged, motivated and at their best performance.

Management, Posts

Set SMART Goals

Do you struggle with new year resolutions? Do you find it difficult to achieve your goals? And by the way, how do you set your goals?

Failing goals may have negative consequences on one’s well-being and self-confidence. To achieve goals, we should first know how to set them, then how to work towards them. If you set a non-realistic goal, you are bound to failure. This is why you should learn how to set SMART goals.

SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. These are the characteristic your goals should have to make it possible to achieve it. Whether you are setting personal goals such as new year’s resolution, or you are setting goals for your company or your team members, make sure that each goal satisfies these 5 characteristics.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal setting