Safe Enough to Try: An Interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh

Organizations are more likely to innovate and thrive when they unleash the potential of individuals and the power of self-organizing teams, says the online retailer’s CEO.

Chris Gagnon, Elizabeth John, Rob Theunissen

When seeking to understand and address these [organizational] mind-sets, we like to use the image of an iceberg popularized by MIT academics Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer. Above the surface (the tip of the iceberg) is the visible behavior repeated and reinforced by the organization every day. Under the surface are employees’ thoughts and feelings (both conscious and unconscious); their values and beliefs (the things … [ Read more ]

Chris Gagnon, Elizabeth John, Rob Theunissen

Given all the data and practical experience that supports working on [organizational] health, companies’ obsession with the P&L alone continues to puzzle us. It’s right that leaders manage their P&L meticulously, but why not do the same for their health? In fact, why not measure health frequently throughout the year, since it’s a leading indicator of performance, whereas financial results are a lagging one? Similarly, … [ Read more ]

Chris Gagnon, Elizabeth John, Rob Theunissen

We think of organizational health as more than just culture or employee engagement. It’s the organization’s ability to align around a common vision, execute against that vision effectively, and renew itself through innovation and creative thinking. Put another way, health is how the ship is run, no matter who is at the helm and what waves rock the vessel.

Going From Fragile to Agile

Why do companies need to be more nimble? McKinsey’s Aaron De Smet and Chris Gagnon explain what’s driving organizational agility, why it matters, and what to do.

Leadership in Context

McKinsey’s leadership staircase is a pyramid of behavior analogous to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In this hierarchy, like similar ones, some kinds of behavior are always essential. As organizational health improves, quartile to quartile, additional behaviors become apparent. More tellingly, some appear to be differentiators: emphasizing them in different situations can lift the organizational health of a fourth-quartile company to the third quartile, a third-quartile … [ Read more ]

Why Agility Pays

New research shows that the trick for companies is to combine speed with stability.