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What President Obama Can Learn From Steve Jobs


We just had to repost this article. Leadership is complicated. Managing in the NOW requires a thorough understanding of the Social Ecosystem. Take a look and thank you Business Insider.

The sunlight of summer has begun it’s annual transition to equinox, and we are all reviving the pulse of the work-year.

The President has returned from Martha’s Vineyard to face what will surely be a challenging fall.  It’s mid-term election season and the mood of the voting public is downright ornery.

ODS (Obama Disappointment Syndrome) a growing wave of depression, has created a huge anti-incumbent wave.  ”Throw ‘em all out!” seems to be the mantra of the season.

In the last couple of weeks the number of negative op-eds on the President from both sides of the aisle have grown considerably.  The mildest theme seems to be “he is too smart to be in touch with the people,” or “we just don’t know who you are or what you really are about Mr. President.”  The really challenging ones drift into the inevitable issues of racism.

I have long held that the most qualified people to be in government are business folk.  Not just Billionaires like Mayor Bloomberg, but anyone who has successfully run anything, been responsible for making payrolls, paying back loans, paying bills on time, navigating through good times and bad.  Most important: balancing a budget.  But the reality is most people who have these credentials are too smart to get sucked into the dysfunction of the public sector. Nor will they submit themselves to the relentless intrusion and scrutiny of the press.  So what’s the next best thing for the “beleaguered” President?  Take some lessons from the guys who know how to really get things done. And who better than the best CEO in the Universe: Steve Jobs.

So Mr. President, in an effort to help you succeed, herewith is a new playbook for your consideration:

1. You have to make other people cool. Being cool got you elected because it made people feel cool electing you. But then nothing much else happened. You thought healthcare would be the cool thing but dramatically misread your audience.  Steve makes millions of people cool, it is his most amazing talent.  Buy an iPhone and you are cool.  But if you don’t have a job, you have no chance of being cool.  And the Healthcare plan? No one is cool with it (outside of DC).

2. Get citizens to voluntarily pay more taxes.
Apple has been doing this for years.  Customers happily fork over a big premium for their products. They will even camp overnight outside an Apple store to have the privilege of doing it first.  We have a huge debt problem. In Europe everyone pays a VAT (Value Added Tax). Apple has a CAT (Coolness Added Tax).  Watch and learn Barack.  You just have to figure out what it is the Federal Government does that’s cool, or useful, or is of particular benefit to anyone.

3. Replace Congress with a Genius Bar. The current spin is that the Republicans are obstructionist.  But if there are Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, how could that possibly prevent you from bringing “Change we can believe in?”  The answer is that Congress just isn’t smart enough.  Sure these are fine, well-intentioned people but we need really super-smart folks to fix our dysfunctional system.  Steve Jobs figured out that even people savvy enough to buy Apple products were going to have problems now and then, and he wasn’t going to subject them to someone you’d find working at the Division of Motor Vehicles.  He recruited an army of Geniuses.  So why not forget about political party affiliations and just support the election of Geniuses.

4. Wear the same outfit every day. I know it sounds trite but you probably have figured out it takes a lot of brain cycles to be POTUS.  Why waste any time trying to pick out a slick Armani and matching tie (or arguing with the First Lady about HER selection).  Steve’s turtleneck and jeans thing has worked for 30 years now because it sends a simple clear message “all I care about is making insanely great products.” You could be transmitting “all I care about is improving your life, making a better America.”

5. You can’t be afraid of pissing people off. Probably your biggest Freshman error has been to try and make everyone happy.  Yes you passed a Healthcare bill but it didn’t take on the tough issues (Tort reform, insurance rate controls).  You decided we needed to “surge” in Afghanistan but also announced we’d only do it for a little while, so as not to over-irritate all of the antiwar constituency who voted you into office.  Steve Jobs takes on the tough issues. He decided that Adobe’s Flash, one of the most widely used media formats on the Internet, sucks and that was that. iPhone and iPad don’t support it.  So I can’t view half of the stuff on the WWW on my iPad; but I still have one.  Take a real stand on something President Obama and live with the fact that to be effective you are going to make some people angry.  As long as there are more happy people then angry people you’ll have a second term.

6. Vision without execution is nothing. We elected you because you understood how frustrated we were with DC Dysfunction.  You had a vision for “not a Red America or Blue America but a United States of America.”  You said you would bring change to Washington.  True you never said you’d make DC “Insanely Great” or “Magical” but you presented your campaign vision with compelling Jobsian conviction.  Yet, the partisan aisles are wider than ever.  No one seems to want to solve problems, they are just obsessed with maintaining or regaining their majority.  Steve Jobs has a saying: “there are two types of people in the world: those who have shipped products and those who haven’t.”  Steve has shipped more Innovative products over the last 30 years than any other tech executive.  The lesson here?  Get rid of all of the professors, policy wonks, career bureaucrats, and Chicago thugs and convince some real capitalist operational executives to come work for you (even if you hate the way we smell).

7. Build a little intrigue. Tell us something big is coming.  Set a date for a big presentation.  Leak a little here and there to tease.  Cut all the deals behind the scenes so Congress backs you. Then get on stage and tell us all about our shiny new Healthcare Widget.  We won’t mind what’s missing because we’ll know it’s just 1.0 and your bound to have a bunch of improvements next year and it will be much cheaper too.

8. Make us USA Fanboys.
Right after the election it was fun to be an American again, especially while traveling abroad.  Europeans in particular were not Bush fans and we took a big hit in our image.  Electing you made the World feel good.  But the bloom has quickly faded. No one can figure out what you really stand for.  We are straddled with debt, and seem to be losing our innovative edge. We can’t even give our kids a decent education.  Apple went through bad times prior to Steve Job’s comeback.  It lost it’s Mojo.  But Steve returned with laser like focus. The company’s back was against the wall and he put forth a simple proposition. He said they would only do two things and had to make them spectacular to survive.  He thew away all of the previously bloated, PC-like Macs and introduced the first iMac and iBook. They were a hit.  That led to iPod.  Which led to iPhone.  Which led to legions of proud Apple Fans. And most important huge financial success.  All due respect President Obama, we need to focus on innovation and education.  If we are not giving our children the best and nurturing our innate Yankee ingenuity, we will never create jobs and return to prosperity. It’s hard to feel patriotic pride when your house is being repossessed.

9. When all else fails. Blame it on us stupid Americans.  We just don’t get it.  We don’t need to access our iTunes library on more than five computers.  Calls dropping on our brand new iPhone4?  We are holding it the wrong way!  Go to the Genius bar and Apple will give you a rubber and show you how to practice safe iPhone4.  Mr. President, Yes you can to bring change to Washington, but everyone else is going to have to want to change too.  If they won’t play ball, make it crystal clear that they are the morons and send them to a Genius Bar for help.  Well actually looks like the voters are going to do that for you in November.

The final lesson is that passion and persistence against all adversity will pay off.  After all of the adoration bestowed during the campaign, it must be horrible to have to endure the current spate of negative press.  But hey, Steve was summarily thrown out of his own company, thrashed around for a bunch of years trying to get NeXT to be something. Perhaps it was a dose of humility that helped polish his edges a bit but he never lost his passion or focus.  His return and turnaround of Apple is now epic.  And the story is really just beginning.  So President Barack Obama, can you turn it around and become an epic President? One for the history books? Take a lesson from Apple. It’s all about Jobs.

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Social Organization (#2 via John Moore’s Weblog)


This article was posted by John Moore a few days ago. It is an important article in the series on Social Ecosystem and all of us at Periscope are excited to see this conversation evolve. Take a look and let us know what you think. Join the discussion!

via John Moore’s weblog: As you may recall, in part one of defining the Social Organization we discussed a few reasons why we need a new view of the world.  We also took time to define The Social Organization in very simple terms:

The Social Organization will use standard approaches that make it easy for customers/citizens to find and buy products and services while enabling the organization to meet their goals.

This easy to understand definition enables us to begin to define the attributes of the Social Organization:

  • Social Organizations use standard approaches.  They follow a well-defined framework for successfully achieving their goals. We will define this framework as we go, but understand that 75-80% of the framework applies across all types of organizations in The Social Ecosystem.  The remaining percentage takes into account the uniqueness of your organization.
  • Social Organizations focus on delivering value in an equitable way.  We do not live in a utopian world, we live in a world where services are delivered in a way where, ideally, customers feel they have received value while allowing organizations to meet their goals (for businesses, making money).  For example:
    • When a customer buys an iPhone they are not focused on the amount of profit made by Apple, they are only concerned with the value received for their money.  If they feel they received the value expected they are happy.  If Apple, as the Social Organization in this example, is able to meet its goals as well, both sides have “won”, equity is achieved.

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Is It A Winning Combination?!


Beware the shiny object. The appeal of the bright new toy is impossible to resist.

Managers have longed searched for that one thing they need to do that will engage their people, transforming the business and creating the ultimate sustainable competitive advantage. We’ve all read the endless stream of books and through them dreamed of a better way. Who hasn’t tried process improvement, scorecards, lean, six sigma, teamwork, personality styles testing, change management and, of course, the power of the new twist on leadership? Well executed, all of these ideas contribute to better performance. With the plethora of information available, our successes in the world of management and leadership should be clear. Right?

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Draw within the lines? .. Not in my Job Description!!


When you are the one responsible for bringing in the revenue for your company you’re always thinking outside of the box and trying to find new and efficient ways to exceed your goals!  Always thinking, Always exploring.  We do this in order to get the job done & Win!

Aaron Howard’s recent posting “DRAW WITHIN THE LINES OR ELSE” got me thinking.  Why in the world would an organization stifle the very creativity that might just be the key to growing revenue or saving costs? The answer may very well be that the CEO and or the management team have lost touch with the troupes on the line.   Or it might be that the employee is not creative enough.

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Giving Constructive Feedback


What is the most difficult part of giving constructive feedback?  Delivering it so that the recipient actually hears, understands and acts on the feedback.

There are three key techniques to enable someone to hear and act on your feedback:

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Do You Have Voices In Your Head?


Over the years, Henry Ford’s mass production system of management and its underlying logic has permeated organizational life from factories to banks to grocery stores and even our educational system. Today few of us realize that the underlying logic of the organizations we work in or run as leaders is in fact based on the model of management Ford invented over a century ago.

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A Waste Of Human Life


Life is a precious thing, and to waste it by working in a job that lacks purpose and meaning is about as disengaging as its gets. It is human nature to want to be part of something greater than ourselves. Most organizations fail to connect each employee with the purpose they serve in the bigger organization, and that failure results in disengagement. Yet, every employee is a part of some greater processes; through that process they create value essential to work that matters to the organization.

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Can You Cause Employees to Engage? Yes!


Employees engage when the organization they work for uses a system of management that is engineered with human nature in mind. Most of us live within a 100-year management system based on Henry Ford’s mass production thinking, and we don’t even know it. That system was designed to not engage the front line people—their job was to do what they were told. Nothing more; nothing less.

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