Peter Senge

There’s an element […] that is completely disregarded in formal management education. We’re supposed to figure things out. We’re supposed to make the machine work and correct problems when they come up. But, in fact, in creating something, a lot of the most important developments are what you didn’t expect. And it’s how you recognize and deal with surprise. It’s a very different mindset. The … [ Read more ]

Peter Drucker

You have to focus on success, especially unexpected success, and run with it. Most problems cannot be solved—most problems can only be survived. And one survives problems by making them irrelevant because of success. This is a matter, above all, of placing people. What I have learned to do is to take a sheet and list our opportunities and the risks. And then I make … [ Read more ]

Peter Drucker

There’s a human law that says that the gap between the one at the top and the average is a constant. And it’s terribly hard to work on that huge average. You work on the few at the top, and you raise them, and the rest will follow.

Arnold Brown

The Net is creating a demand for navigators—individuals (or computer programs) who can take people and businesses with their own information-overflow problems by the hand to help them find their way through a thicket of information.

Ken Blanchard

Where we get in trouble in this world is that people are pushing and shoving for three things: money, recognition, and power and status. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things—except if you define yourself by them. See, the opposite of money as a drive is generosity, generosity of time, talent, and treasure. The opposite of recognition is service, and the opposite of power … [ Read more ]

Ken Blanchard

Are you a servant leader or a self-serving leader? Self-serving leaders are driven people, and driven people think they can own everything—possessions, wife, kids, everything. If you try to give a self-serving leader feedback, he’ll kill the messenger; they see it as a threat to their position. Servant leaders, on the other hand, are not driven but called. They are people who think everything’s on … [ Read more ]

Ricardo Semler

By eliminating the bottom 10 percent every year, you’re losing a tremendous investment, because these people could change places and be used in other ways. You’re also sending the message up and down the line that your company is a military hierarchy. The Welch paradigm is, after all, a military paradigm; it is a Norman Schwarzkopf paradigm. What’s the difference between them? None to speak … [ Read more ]

Ricardo Semler

Being prepared to make major changes is what most executives will not do or are not prepared to do. Certainly this is true of corporate boards. Look at their makeup: twelve guys who are in other businesses and who have other lives to live. Why would they want to create havoc? So […] they’ll make cautious instead of intrepid decisions. Boards are set up to … [ Read more ]

Randy Cohen

People tend to be as good or bad as their neighbors. Most people are not saintly, and neither are they great villains. It’s very hard to be good when you look around and see your neighbors acting very badly. It’s hard to drive at 65 mph when everyone else is driving at 100 mph.

Sam Hill

I don’t think business writing is necessarily getting worse. I think it’s always been terrible. But I do think tools like PowerPoint and e-mail, coupled with the organizational downsizing of secretaries, has given illiterate businesspeople the ability to send babble out unedited, and this has increased visibility of the problem.

Bill Shireman

The old mechanistic Fortune 500 belief [is] that the mission of the company is to maximize profits. That’s backward: We don’t run our businesses to make a profit—we make a profit to run our businesses. Great companies have an overriding sense of vision and purpose, a mission that is enabled by profit. For them, profits are a means, not an end. Companies without a seething … [ Read more ]

Bill Shireman

Globalization could be a powerful agent for peace, but instead, it often triggers the anger and fear that breeds terrorism and war. That is partly due to the approach we take to globalization. We see it as our gift to the world: We’ll show the developing nations how to build a Western culture and economy, the way we did. That’s shortsighted. Globalization must be a … [ Read more ]

William Greider

The social responsibility of business (aside from making money and paying the bills) is to create wealth for the future or, as Keynes put it, the material basis necessary to sustain a civilized society. The conflict with society arises over how we define “wealth”—valued narrowly in dollar returns as business and finance do or in the broader human terms that society applies. The great collision … [ Read more ]

Andrew W. Singer

Few business actions are ethically “pure.” Most are a kind of double helix: one strand virtue, the other economic self-interest. It is almost impossible to disentangle the two.

When You Have to Look Outside: The state of executive recruitment

Corporations grant executive recruiters wide latitude in choosing leaders for them. What do recruiters know that we don’t – and should they really have so much power?

Michael E. Raynor

The creation of a theory is, at first principles, a statement of cause-and-effect relationships. Such statements, when true, are enormously powerful. Without them, we are limited to observing merely that “one thing follows another,” so when we see something new, our ability to predict the outcome is severely curtailed. When facing circumstances we’ve not already mastered, absent a theory all we can rely on is … [ Read more ]

Clinton Korver

For a personal ethics code to be effective and useful in terms of living a better life and making better decisions, it must pass a test of reciprocity. So if you adopt an ethic, you must be OK with everybody else having this same ethic.

Morgan McCall, Jr.

Leadership development is ensuring “that people in leadership roles have the competence to determine and to carry out the [company’s] strategic imperatives. If competence is acquired through experience, then it is the strategy of the business that determines which experiences are necessary to build it. The crucial links . . . are from the business strategy to the leadership challenges it suggests to the experiences … [ Read more ]

Charles Handy

There is nothing wrong with accountancy training — for accountants. But accountants are taught to give priority to the visible financial costs and assets, not to the less quantifiable human assets, which they regard as costs. They focus on the past rather than the future, because that alone can be accurately measured and audited. Their training regards risk, uncertainty, and the unknown as undesirable.

Frans de Waal

A chain of command beats democracy any time decisive action is needed.