Executive Leader Coach


April 5, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dave Kinnear, Executive Leader CoachThe economy, it seems, continues to improve and that is reflected in the 2013 Q1 Vistage CEO Confidence Index. Fully 68% of respondents anticipate that their revenues will increase in the next 12 months. 49% believe that economic conditions have improved compared with a year ago. And 53% of CEOs expect their firm's profitability to improve during the next 12 months. Check out the graphic at the link above.

It won't surprise many of you to find that I don't always agree with what gets published in books, articles and blogs. I was particularly exercised over on a leadership blog posting suggesting that "Corporate Strategy Is a Fool's Errand." I'm not sure I could disagree more; especially after reading several excellent books on "turnaround" situations that obviously could not have happened without an overriding corporate strategy. So, I take the topic on in the first of the articles below.

And one of those excellent books happens to be American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman. This is a must read for anyone interested in leadership, how to make sense out of chaos, how to find a vision and how to actually implement a strategy! I hope this brief review will inspire you to read the book. It's especially fun if you're a car buff.

I not always very good at spotting "megatrends." I usually have to have someone else point them out to me. I guess I'm used to having my "nose to the grindstone" or something. The move toward Conscious Capitalism is a bit of an exception. I and my colleagues have been talking about and tracking this enlightened way of looking at business for some time now. I share some thoughts in the third article below. I'm convinced it is a trend that will not go away and one we should embrace.

Finally, in the Nullius in verba space I share my excitement over the prospects that we might finally be getting serious about and have the capability to map the human brain. I read about this possibility way back in 2000 with the publication of The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil. I'm a believer. We will get this done and I'm immensely excited that we may finally be getting started.

And don't forget: April 19th ENP will be meeting at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (EMMYS) in Hollywood with top leaders from all industries in a highly dynamic strategy session led by the Executive Performance Group. The theme- 8 Critical Factors for Managing Productivity and Performance in 2013- includes 2 keynote speakers and intensive table collaborations among the participants. A fully hosted welcome reception will be held the night before(April 18) in Beverly Hills at the new AKA Luxury Hotel, 6pm-8:30pm with wine and light refreshments. Register here.


Dave Kinnear

CCE-Board Certified Coach
Vistage Chair

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Corporate Strategy

A common "vision" or strategy is essential

Recently I read over on a leadership blog, that the author felt that an overriding corporate strategy is a “fools errand.” Freek Vermeulen reasoned that in larger companies divisions or business units often have widely different goals, products, costumers and even “brands.” Therefore, a one size fits all corporate strategy is impossible to implement and could harm the organization. Well, perhaps we are quibbling over words, but I say throwing out corporate strategy is crazy talk.

I have to guess that Alan Mulally would heartily disagree with throwing out corporate strategy. He could not have turned around Ford without an overriding corporate strategy. But what is “corporate strategy?” Vermeulen himself defined strategy, in a separate article, as “Strategy, above all, is about making choices; choices in terms of what you do and what you do not do.” I agree. Therefore, whether divisions have closely related products or not, they must make decisions based on an overriding corporate strategy that gives them guardrails within which to operate. While one division’s implementation of an overriding strategy may look quite different than a sister division’s, they nevertheless must show that what they are doing meets the corporate strategy needs and supports the corporate brand.

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Review: American Icon

Saving Ford Motor Company

I am not a car enthusiast. I enjoy having a reliable, clean and efficient vehicle, but the primary purpose, for me, is to get me where I’m going on time and without surprises. So when I ordered this book, my expectations were that I’d ignore the “car stuff” for the most part, and concentrate on the leadership stuff. Well, I wound up conentrating on both, and enthusiastically at that. Hoffman has written an excellent book mixing family business intrigue with a history of the car business and its missteps as well as a book replete with leadership lessons. Here are just a few of the most notable for me.

Read full review . . .

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Conscious Capitalism

stuff stuff and more stuff

There seems to be a big movement towards businesses being more “compassionate,” “conscious,” and/or “triple bottom line oriented.” Maybe it’s the chaotic times causing everyone to be looking for meaning. I’m told that’s what happens in chaotic times. I’m sure there are many, many books out there on the subject. A few have crossed my desk in the last couple of years: Triple Bottom Line by Andrew Savitz, Conscious Business by Fred Kofman, Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey, Be the Solution by Michael Strong, Firms of Endearment by Rajendra Sisodia, It’s Just Good Business by Keff Klein, The Living Organization by Norman Wolfe, etc. The list seems endless. What should we make of this accelerating trend?

This trend fits right in with so many others that we notice on a personal and a business level. In my coaching business, there’s much discussion about finding that magical “work/life balance.” There is consternation over integrating women into the executive suite and making sure they are treated equally, paid equally and respected equally with their male counterparts. The “balance” at home means sharing the household chores and not leaving them all up to one person when both have demanding careers. And for the business, the “work/life balance” becomes the “business/social balance” or, Conscious Capitalism. In his book The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker declares there is only one purpose of a business: to create a customer. The question always is how do we create a customer?

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Nullius in verba

I wonder what Ray Kurzweil is thinking now. . .

So, here we go. I was listening to one of my podcasts yesterday and the breathless announcer was peppering his guest with questions about the President's directive to begin mapping the human brain. We don't even know what that means, really, at this point, but we need to get started. And I couldn't help wonder why the show host was so shocked by the concept. Did he not read Ray Kurzweil's 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines? Did he not know all of this has been predicted including the timing - which is just about right on!

Personally, I'm quite excited about the prospect of beginning this project. I fully believe that it will require incredible effort, dedication, education, energy and yes, financial investment. This project will definitely show us how complicated big data can be. We will need all the genius super math "quants" we can find. A fantastic side benefit will be, if we're truly lucky, that all those geniuses that would have gone off to Wall Street to fleece all of us with the next set of derivatives might actually find it more exciting to figure out how to understand all the trillions of neuronal and synaptic connections comprising the human brain. Here's a challenge to all you aspiring quants out there - come up with an algorithm that determines when consciousness arises from complex human neuronal connectivity. Go for it!

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