The Lookout Post—Giraffes of Technology

In our book’s chapter The Lookout Post—Giraffes of Technology about the future of work due to science and technology, we researched MIT’s Peter Senge and his unique book about the world’s future published in 1990: The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization.

In 1999 the Journal of Business Strategy named MIT’s Peter Senge “Strategist of the Century.” He is the definition of a look-out post that continually scans the horizon. In 1990 he wrote The Fifth Discipline, a book that predicted that business was entering a time of quickening pace where there no longer would be a stable environment. Society would be bombarded with ongoing change and need to be more alert through intensive, ongoing learning. Senge suggested that when encountering rapid change, only companies that were “flexible, adaptive, and productive” would excel.

He argued that companies must begin to see their employees as people, as assets to develop and feed through learning. The industrial-age terms “human resources” and “personnel” would shift to “human capital.” To keep up with change, companies would need to become sincere learning organizations and decentralize the power of old industrial-age hierarchy, bringing human characteristics such as the ability to adapt to a changing environment. Peter Senge viewed companies as organic entities that needed to adopt behavior that emulates learning. In his book The Fifth Discipline, Senge writes about “organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”

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Businesses Exist to Deliver Value to Society

Businesses Exist to Deliver Value to Society

In the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Kenneth Frazier (CEO of Merck) was interviewed about “Businesses Exist to Deliver Value to Society.” Since becoming CEO in 2011, he has earned praise for stabilizing Merck—no easy feat in an industry convulsed by change. He promised new launches, such as the cancer drug Keytruda.

During his interview by HBR, he responded to the questions listed below:

Thinking more broadly about the role of business in society, Milton Friedman once said that a business’s sole purpose is to generate profit for shareholders. Does that seem right?

While a fundamental responsibility of business leaders is to create value for shareholders, I think businesses also exist to deliver value to society. Merck has existed for 126 years; its individual shareholders have turned over countless times. But our salient purpose in the world is to deliver medically important vaccines and medicines that make a huge difference for humanity. The revenue and shareholder value we create are an imperfect proxy for the value we create for patients and society.

What’s the biggest hurdle to innovation in drug development? The science? Regulations? The costs of R&D?

I’d say the main factor is our lack of knowledge about the human body and human biology. People talk about the importance of sequencing the human genome and the fact that we are generating more and more genetic insights. But as Roger Perlmutter, our head of research, says, what that really gives us is a parts list. It doesn’t tell us how those parts are integrated to operate the human body. That’s what we’re now interrogating across multiple disease areas.

Where do you most need to apply your time and attention, and where can other people lead?

I think the CEO needs to focus on critical areas. The first is setting the strategic direction of the company. The second is deciding how to allocate capital across the company to produce the greatest long-term value for the society and shareholders. The third, and by far the most important, is to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs. And CEOs have to be willing to give up power: The most important decisions made inside Merck are not made in my office.

What do you see as your biggest challenges going forward?

First, we want to make sure that our people, who are very good at operating in today’s business model, are prepared to adapt to change. What I worry about most is that we’re so comfortable with what we know that we won’t make the kinds of changes we need to make. My other big concern is whether we’re hiring the next generation of leaders. The ultimate test of a leader is, who are the people who will take over from you, and are they as talented and as committed as committed as they need to be to succeed?

How do you plan for that transition?

You have to fight against hierarchy, which is one of the biggest obstacles to success and innovation. It’s important for leaders to diffuse power to people who are actually in a position to make a difference. I’d love to convince Merck’s people that they already know what to do—that they don’t need to look up to their leaders for answers.

What would you like your ultimate legacy to be?

I’d like people to say that Merck continues to make a difference in the world by harnessing science and translating it into solutions that really matter for human and animal health around the world. It’s that simple.


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Primal Leadership

In a Harvard Business Review (HBR) book, a topic has a question about how primal leadership focuses on what most influences your company’s bottom-line performance. The answer will surprise you–and make perfect sense: It’s a leader’s own mood.

Executives’ emotional intelligence–their self-awareness, empathy, rapport with others–has clear links to their own performance. But new research shows that a leader’s emotional style also drives everyone else’s moods and behaviors–through a neurological process called mood contagion. It’s akin to “Smile and the whole world smiles with you.”

Emotional intelligence travels through an organization like electricity over telephone wires. Depressed, ruthless bosses create toxic organizations filled with negative underachievers. But if you’re an upbeat, inspirational leader, you cultivate positive employees who embrace and surmount even the toughest challenges.

Emotional leadership isn’t just putting a game face every day. It means understanding your impact on others–then adjusting your style accordingly. A difficult process of self-discovery–but essential before you can tackle your leadership responsibilities.

The book, with many articles, is called On Emotional Intelligence at the following link:

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The Lions of Change Destroy Creative Settings

We mentioned The Lions of Change Destroy Creative Settings as a metaphor in our book.

When the giraffe spots an area where it can guide the herds to foliage and protection, the herds calmly move forward, although occasionally a lion appears, blocking the path to the feeding ground.

The giraffe must make a life-or-death decision. It often walks away or gives warnings but rarely launches that crushing blow, though the threat of the giraffe’s lethal kick is known to the lion. In some specific way, giraffes always deal with lions so they can move forward to graze, the herbivore’s daily goal.

Standing up to lions is as tricky in the professional world as it is in the wild.

We are stopped and yanked off the path of moving forward.  We are thrust back into the primitive mode of “survive or die.” In work settings, few of us stand up to the lion with as much ease and focus as giraffes do in nature. But to make use of the encounter, we must commit to the goal of feeding (learning). If that is our genuine focus, we will have more skills at negotiating these conflicts when the next lion blocks our path to growth.

A key aspect of moving forward is to focus on the herd. If we keep that audience–not our individual egos–as our guide, we will attempt to make proper decisions and achieve better results.


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Emotional Intelligence and Critical Thinking in the 21st-Century Age of Science

Rooted in our book Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First Century Leader, we learned that academic business also wrote about the need for emotional intelligence and critical thinking in the age of science.

A book called Learn or Die: Using Science to Build Leading-Edge Learning Organizations by Edward D. Hess (published by Columbia Business School) mentions why “globalization and technology continue to increase the speed and reach of change.”

He mentions how we are still in old System 1, but we need to move to new System 2 in the 21st century.

  • System 1: thinking emotionally or pathos fast, not factual, often negative with ego and fear.
  • System 2: thinking positive emotions to deal with stress helps to be intuitive and creative with problems as well as critical thinking—slower thinking about the ability to not be highly emotional in complex settings and begin to hear objectively other views before you make a decision and as you continue to learn about a complex topic.

Washington University in St. Louis had conferences about Critical Thinking: A Guide to Understanding, Learning, and Practicing Critical Thinking. Research on individuals revealed that they were not intelligent thinkers:

  • Hasty (impulsive, little deep processing in examining alternatives)
  • Narrow (assumptions not challenged, points of view not examined)
  • Fuzzy (careless)
  • Sprawling (general disorganization, fails to advance or conclude)

Intelligent thinking is not easy. Thinking is hard work—much harder than most people realize and acknowledge.

Views from recruiter and business executives and the call for critical thinking skills in job descriptions and various reports are consistently implying that critical thinking is useful for securing jobs and advancing careers.




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Why I Can’t Stop Starting New Enterprises

The article below is similar to the metaphor in our book in Chapter 6 called New Herds–Blending into Communities.

We noted that our country always has had deep divisions, yet during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, most people rose to overcome these familiar fragmentations and achieved success by blending into new herds, taking advantage of the country’s unique talent. But that past is reversing, as our once-herd-inspired majority, who dealt with challenging problems last century, has shifted. We’ve grown comfortable, becoming static and solitary, losing interest in achieving cutting-edge goals that include more than a single culture or country, company or CEO.

Below are topics of the article Why I Can’t Stop Starting New Enterprises by Gary Vaynerchuk (Chairman and CEO of VaynerX and VaynerMedia, a full-service digital media agency based in New York City).

“I’M AT AN INCREDIBLY INTERESTING point in my life. I’ve built multiple
businesses from the ground up, starting in the late ’90s with one of the first e-commerce platforms for wine. That helped me grow my family’s business from $3 million to $60 million in sales in less than five years. I’m an author, an investor, and a speaker, and I run one of the fastest-growing full-service media agencies in the world. Under my holdings company, VaynerX, I own VaynerMedia and PureWow and additional businesses, including my sports agency, VaynerSports, all while managing and growing my personal brand.

“So call me a serial entrepreneur. If you want to start multiple businesses, here’s
something to keep in mind: You have to be self-aware. The problem with chasing
multiple ideas without having a concrete base is that you get stretched thin. You don’t see things all the way through. You become half-in across five businesses instead of all in on one, which would have been more successful.

“A metaphor I constantly return to is “You have to have the steak before you can have the sides.” I wouldn’t be partnering to release my own sneaker or building a sports agency or thinking about acquiring or launching other publishing companies if I didn’t have VaynerMedia as a base. Having a successful foundation allows me to do more. A lot of people, when they reach this level, start having other wants or need, whether it’s sailing or buying a third home or meditating. Me, I’m hungry to build. Can’t help it.

“My serial entrepreneurship is largely a product of observing and reacting. More than a decade ago, I saw that social media was going to be the zeitgeist for human connection–a new way to storytelling and build relationships. That’s why I started VaynerMedia, as a reaction to the reality and an insight into the market. It’s the same way Snapchat became huge. Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy observed that individuals like selfies and they created a service around that idea. They reacted a customer phenomenon and built their product into the established vertical of communication. And entrepreneur can and should do this.”

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“What Makes a Leader?” by Daniel Goleman in Harvard Business Review; Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the Need Now

The EI skills are Self-awareness—knowing one’s strengths, weakness, drives, values, and goals, and impact on others.

Self-regulation—controlling or redirecting disruptive emotions, impulses, and moods

Motivation—being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement

Empathy—understanding other people’s emotional makeup and considering others’ feelings, especially when making decisions

Social Skill—managing relationships to move people in desired directions

We’re each born with certain levels of EI skills. But we can strengthen these abilities through persistence, practice, and feedback from colleagues or coaches.

For ages, people have debated if leaders are born or made. So too goes the debate about emotional intelligence. Are people born with certain levels of empathy, for example, or do they acquire empathy as a result of life’s experiences? The answer is both. Scientific inquiry strongly suggests that there is a genetic component to emotional intelligence. Psychological and developmental research indicates that nurture plays a role as well. How much of each perhaps will never be known, but research and practice clearly demonstrate that emotional intelligence can be learned.

It is fortunate that emotional intelligence can be learned. The process is not easy. It takes time and, most of all, commitment. But the benefits that come from having a well-developed emotional intelligence, both for the individual and for the organization, make it worth the effort.


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Continual Learning Through Creative Tension

MIT’s Peter Senge describes the paradoxical term as a vital environment in which an employee can share his or her dreams with colleagues. But more important in the twenty-first century is how these dreams are shared. Today dialogue is as essential as discussion, but few CEO’s and companies actually know or care about the stark differences.

Dialogue is trickier to inspire than discussion because it requires genuine openness, critical listening (rather than ignoring what you don’t wish to hear), and patient reflection. In true dialogue, no decisions are made. There are no winners or losers. It’s a magical setting, where one person can share an imperfect yet authentic dream, and others are free to offer reactions that build on the idea rather than rip it apart through industrial-age competitiveness.

That’s an aspect of creative tension.

Tension shouldn’t connote twentieth-century anger through emotional office explosions. And that’s exactly what is difficult to establish–unemotional listening coupled with patient refection to guide an idea through creative tension and on to an authentically shared idea, team intelligence, often improving it from the individual’s dream that sparked the imaginative process.

On the contrary, in a typical discussion, we make a decision about whether to launch the idea into the real world. There are distinct winners and losers. But there is no genuine dialogue (routinely dismissed as children’s bed-time fantasy hour with dear Mommy), and that rejection is a twenty-first-century storm that’s moving closer to our shores.

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Leading Them Through the Storm, Published by Business Management (75 years of Sound Business Advice)

Business Management read our book and wrote: “Stephen Crane’s circa-1900 short story The Open Boat offers a narrative about the importance of caring leadership.” We published selected parts of Crane’s short story in our Chapter Two (attached below) about the need for more emotional intelligence in 21st-century leadership:

The Captain, Cook, Correspondent and … the Oiler

When I read the short story “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century tale stood out because it offered a sharp narrative about the importance of caring leadership.

The ship’s captain leads his crew after a terrible fall—the sinking of his steamer ship—to the safety of land after spending several days and nights struggling to survive in the frigid January water off the Florida coast.

The captain is injured. He can’t row, but he remains alert and patient, despite the dangerous waves pouring into the small lifeboat. As the crew endures nature’s violent winds and high waves, along with circling sharks and the fatigue of continuous rowing to shore, the captain always speaks in a low voice.

He offers directions with phrases such as “Keep ‘er a little more south, Billie,” or “Take her easy now, boys…. Don’t spend yourselves. If we have to run a surf, you’ll need all your strength, because we’ll sure have to swim for it. Take your time.”

The captain offers lookout-post ideas such as attempting to sail by using his overcoat at the end of an oar, which gives the rowers much needed rest. Crane describes what the captain creates through nurturing leadership as being “the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas. No one said it that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him.”

After days of dealing with the messy environment of a life-threatening sea (a picture that would look beautiful from land but would be an ugly image if you were sitting inside a tiny boat fighting not to drown), the men realize they need one another to survive the indifference of nature, which doesn’t care whether they survive or die.

Despite the stressful setting, the men don’t get angry or yell at one another. One night as a cold wave rushes across the bow, the captain says serenely, “Bail her, Cook.”

“All right, Captain,” says the cheerful cook.

The story reveals how caring leadership always has been available. Read literature or history or any religious tome, and you’ll spot it. The problem today is that we’ve belittled humane leadership, jamming it into the box of stereotypes by labeling it as childlike or naive. But it’s much harder to stay calm and nurturing during tragedies and falls when people need to come together to survive, and Crane’s conclusion offers more.

Out of the crew’s four men, the oiler is the most muscular, the healthiest, and the most energetic. So when the captain attempts a run to land through powerful shoreline waves, the oiler leaps off the boat just as it is being swamped, electing to swim away from the boat, alone, confident in his strength to beat nature, while the cook, correspondent, and captain stay near one another, communicating as they wrestle with the strong surf and life-threatening currents.

The injured captain uses one hand to cling to the back of the boat and continues to guide the crew to shore. When he spots the cook struggling, even though the cook has a life-ring around his core, the captain calls to him, “Turn over on your back, Cook! Turn over on your back and use the oar!”

The cook soon paddles and moves “ahead as if he were a canoe.”

Meanwhile, the correspondent is stuck in a rip current but can hear the captain calling for him to “Come to the boat!” which is parallel to the shore. As the correspondent responds and swims to the captain, “a large wave caught him and flung him with ease and supreme speed completely over the boat and far beyond it… [arriving] in water that reached only his waist.”

The captain’s subtle leadership from the moment of the ship’s sinking to arriving on land is never veneer. He is alert, looking out for the crew even when injured and psychologically dealing with a major fall in his profession (the rare shipwreck).

One of the story’s timeless themes centers around how humans think they can control nature or life’s successes or failures, but usually they can’t. Think about experiencing that sudden hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or blizzard. The best way to survive any of life’s complexities is to understand that people working together is much more powerful than people working alone, the way humans always have dealt with nature’s indifference regarding whether we live or die.

The cook, correspondent, and captain survive the arduous journey through the winter sea even though they’re the physically weakest members of the crew, while the oiler—the strongest—swims off alone and drowns.

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Kirkus Reviews Critics Recommend Giraffes of Technology to a Book by Harvard Professor, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Coles

We learned that our book was recommended by Kirkus Reviews to the leadership book (rooted in literature) by Harvard Professor and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Coles; scroll down to “Similar Books Suggested by Our Critics,” to see “Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Leader”!

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:…/…/lives-of-moral-leadership/

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