Steve Jobs, from an article in Fortune a few years ago:
“We don’t think in terms of power,” says Jobs. “We think about creating new innovative products that will surprise and delight our customers. Happy and loyal customers are what give Apple its ‘power.’ At the heart of it, though, we simply try to make great products that we want for ourselves, and hope that customers will love them as much as we do. And I think after all these years we’ve gotten pretty decent at it.”
…truly great organizations think of themselves in a fundamentally different way than mediocre enterprises. They have a guiding philosophy or a spirit about them, a reason for being that goes far beyond the mundane or the mercenary.
And while we’re at it, here’s another example from A.G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble, in Harvard Business Review:
I learned many things from Peter [Drucker] over the years, but far and away the most important were the simplest: “The purpose of a company is to create a customer” and “A business…is defined by the want the customer satisfies when he or she buys a product or a service. To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.”
At P&G we keep Peter’s words in mind with every decision. We declared that the consumer — not the CEO — is boss, and made it our purpose to touch more consumes and improve more of each consumer’s life. When we look at the business from the perspective of the consumer, we can see the need to win at two moments of truth: First, when she buys a P&G brand or product in a store, and second, when she or another family member uses that product in the home….By putting customers first, we’ve nearly doubled the number served, from 2 billion to 3.8 billion; doubled sales; and tripled P&G profits in the first nine years of the twenty-first century.
Here is a very good summary of Peter Drucker’s thinking on “the essence of a company,” by Oscar Motomura in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review:
When I first met Peter Drucker, 15 years ago, he shared with me ideas that have deeply influenced my work ever since. Chief among them was that beyond just making a profit or creating wealth for stakeholders, the essence of a company is making a difference, being really useful, and creating something the world truly needs.
That higher purpose, Drucker pointed out, has to be something grand — like General Electric’s ambition to be, as he put it, “the leader in making science work for humanity” — and not superficial, like so many of the mission statements that companies have nowadays.
Why is such a creed so important? Because without a compelling raison d’etre, a company can’t hope to tap the full potential of its employees. “The number of people who are really motivated by money is very small,” Drucker told me. “Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world, or at least a different one, it won’t be successful over time.”
Dave Harvey’s excellent book, Rescuing Ambition, releases next month. Through the end of Friday, you can pre-order it for 35% off at Crossway’s microsite.
Harvey argues that ambition needs to be rescued from a false understanding. We tend to think of it “as nothing more than the drive for personal honor or fame.” And ambition that terminates on ourselves, to be sure, is dishonorable. But ambition directed towards a purpose larger than ourselves — ambition for the glory of God and the good of the world — is not only good and right, but essential.
Ambition in this sense is a God-implanted drive to improve, produce, develop, create, and make things better. When ambition dies or is neglected, big dreams die. And when big dreams die, the world misses out, and we fail to realize the full potential that God has given us.
I think that Harvey is right on in this. We have let ambition lie neglected, and as a result have become too accustomed to dreaming small dreams. By rescuing ambition, Harvey encourages us to dream big dreams that are worthy of a big God, instead of being content with life as usual and the status quo.
(This is very related to the topic of productivity, by the way, because ambition drives productivity. Further, I argue in the about page that productivity is not simply about our own personal effectiveness, but is ultimately about helping to make our places of work, our communities, and society more effective. The kind of ambition that Harvey is talking about fuels the drive to be productive in this holistic way. Without ambition, you are more likely to be concerned merely with your own productivity, which aborts the whole concept and turns it inward. Productivity is really about making things better in all areas of life — especially our work, communities, churches, and society.)
So I’m very excited about Harvey’s book. Which makes it fitting that this is the first book for which I have written a blurb. Here’s the blurb I wrote for the book, which sums up my above sentiments:
Dave Harvey teaches us that God wants ambition back in our understanding of godliness and spiritual health. As Christians, we are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:13) — that is, ambitious for them. We are to be people who dream and do big things for the glory of God and the good of others. This is a critical book for the church today because it helps us recover the spirit of William Carey, who ambitiously said ‘Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.
For more on ambition, let me also recommend John Piper’s sermon Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ has not Been Named.
Here are a few notes I took a while ago from the Harvard Business Review book Taking Control of Your Time on the concept of time leveraging versus time management:
Two key concepts: Time leveraging and time management. Time leveraging is allocating time to the things that give the greatest return. Time management is about discipline and execution—making sure you aren’t wasting your time and that you are following your plan.
You have to have a vision of how you want to spend your time. This vision has to have a clear view of priorities.
Leveraging time is a strategy of using time in an intelligent way to pursue your most important goals. Managing time is the day-to-day process you use to leverage the time—the scheduling, to-do lists, delegating, and other systems. Without the strategy, time management won’t necessarily help you achieve your goals.
Leverage: Taking the smallest action that will yield the largest result.
Goal is first effectiveness, not efficiency.
For those who use Evernote, they have added functionality that lets you assign the notebook and any tags to the note right from within the email.
Here are some really amazing pictures from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
I will blog on iPads coming up if I get the chance. I do have one and have found that it solves trillions of productivity problems.
One gap right now is that OmniFocus is not yet available. You can run the iPhone version, but there are lots of limitations to that. Fortunately, it looks like a version of OmniFocus developed to take full advantage of the iPad will be releasing in June. Here’s an update from their site.
From Drucker’s The Effective Executive:
The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths–the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.
Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is fantastic and I will be blogging on it if I get the chance. One of his points is that extrinsic motivators often back-fire and decrease commitment to a task. We shouldn’t dismiss extrinsic motivation altogether, but it needs to be very secondary and used right. The primary way to motivate is create the conditions that foster intrinsic motivation–that tap the inherent worth of the task. Which usually means simply making sure not to get in the way of how people are naturally motivated.
Extrinsic motivation is most relevant when a task is routine. But when it comes to creative tasks and the typical nonroutine tasks of the knowledge worker, extrinsic motivation can decrease not only commitment to the task, but also the original and creative thought that is necessary to finding your way.
Here are the seven deadly flaws of the “carrot and stick” approach (extrinsic motivation) that he discusses in chapter 2:
- They can extinguish intrinsic motivation
- They can diminish performance
- They can crush creativity
- They can crowd out good behavior
- They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior
- They can become addictive
- They can foster short-term thinking
Again, his point is not that extrinsic motivation is always bad, but that it can be.
Tim Challies gives a good overview of how he reads a book. This is especially significant coming from him, because he reads more than almost anyone I know, and is currently reading through every New York Times best seller for his project 10 Million Words.
I was just pointed to the iPad app Priority Matrix [opens in iTunes], which allows you to visually organize tasks into the four quadrants of urgent and important, urgent but not important, important but not urgent, and not important and not urgent.
I was pleasantly surprised by the program. I like being able to see tasks visually separated in this way, and the program is very easy to use. I see some potential here for possibly keeping my daily list, since the OmniFocus interface has not yet been adapted to the iPad.
Here’s a video showing how it works:
There is a class I know of (elementary school) where the teacher gives out hardly any top grades (it’s a complex system–it’s not just a matter of As, Bs, etc., or even just 1, 2, 3). The thinking, it is said, is that no one is perfect, and there always needs to be room to improve.
I’m sure there is more to the rationale, but is this a good idea? No. This is called the strictness error and it is demotivating. Managers can hold to the same error when it comes to performance reviews. Hence, the problems of the strictness error for both contexts is well explained by these comments in the book Management Skills:
The strictness error is the flip side of leniency. You rate everyone very strictly. While it is acceptable to maintain high standards, performance appraisals should be an accurate reflection of performance. Appraisals that are too strict will de-motivate employees and frustrate them. They will begin to think that no matter what they do, it will never enable them to achieve the rewards that they value. [I would restate the last part of the sentence, because it sounds too extrinsically motivated, but you get the point.]
The strictness error, as mentioned, is the opposite of the leniency error. You don’t want to error on that side, either, whether in education or management. The lenience error
provides employees with high performance appraisal ratings for mediocre or marginal performance. This marginal performer is then ‘rewarded’ in organizational terms. This will increase the likelihood that his or her marginal performance will continue–because they have no incentive to improve.
Of course, the one other issue raised here for the arena of management is whether the traditional concept of a performance appraisal is a good idea at all. It is, and should, seem a bit odd that I am able to make a comparison between how we treat elementary students and how we treat adults on the job.
It is critical that people receive feedback on results and are held accountable for meeting the defined outcomes they are responsible to produce, and that this be done through a regular routine of meetings and conversations. But whether this should include or be wrapped in with a detailed performance appraisal that effectively ranks or grades people is an open question, in my view.
The founder of every major world religion is dead, except for one. Here is an article I wrote in college that covers six pieces of historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ. These six facts are acceptable by virtually all scholars–including critical scholars–who address the resurrection.
If you create too many rules in your organization (or home, or anywhere), you start to kill learning. Marcus Buckingham states this well in First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently:
“Every time you make a rule you take away a choice and choice, with all of its illuminating repercussions, is the fuel for learning.”
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has a really good review of the iPad. He argues that the iPad may be a true “game changer.” Here’s how the WSJ summarizes his article:
Apple’s new touch-screen device has the potential to change portable computing profoundly. It could challenge the primacy of the laptop and eventually propel the multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface.
Here’s another interesting part:
The iPad is much more than an e-book or digital periodical reader, though it does those tasks brilliantly, better in my view than the Amazon Kindle. And it’s far more than just a big iPhone, even though it uses the same easy-to-master interface, and Apple says it runs nearly all of the 150,000 apps that work on the iPhone.
It’s qualitatively different, a whole new type of computer that, through a simple interface, can run more-sophisticated, PC-like software than a phone does, and whose large screen allows much more functionality when compared with a phone’s. But, because the iPad is a new type of computer, you have to feel it, to use it, to fully understand it and decide if it is for you, or whether, say, a netbook might do better.
Here is a harmony of the resurrection accounts I wrote in college after reading John Wenham’s excellent book Easter Enigma: Are the Resurrection Accounts in Conflict? Wenham shows how every detail of the accounts fits together consistently. I tried to do the same in a short article so that people didn’t have to read the whole book. I think I might differ from Wenham in a few points as well.
Some people say it is not necessary for the resurrection accounts to harmonize. I would agree that it is not necessary for us to give much thought to the issue of integrating the accounts if we don’t want to. We don’t all need to be experts on how the resurrection accounts harmonize. But to hold that they contain actual conflicts would be contrary to the meaning of inerrancy. Plus, there’s no need to argue that they don’t need to be consistent with one another when in fact it can be shown that they are entirely consistent.
In this video, John Piper explains why he invited Rick Warren to our fall conference (as many of you know, I work at Desiring God):
And here’s a short transcript from Piper talking about why he invited Warren last month to a group of pastors:
[When I wrote Warren to invite him,] I said, “The conference is called ‘THINK: The life of the Mind and the Love of God.’ I want you to come. You are the most well known pragmatist pastor in the world. I don’t think you are a pragmatist at root. Come and tell us why thinking Biblically matters to you in your amazingly pragmatic approach to ministry.”
I want him to lay his cards on the table. I want him to tell us what makes him tick. Because he does come across in much of what he says and does as very results-oriented and pragmatic and not theologically driven, and yet, [Piper finishes up this thought a few minutes later] …. at root I think he is theological.
I have a lot that I have to get done today, but if I can I will try to write a post later today on 4 reasons why it is good and important that Rick Warren is coming to the Desiring God conference.
Good, from Newsweek.