One of the most challenging positions to find oneself in is managing across a matrix organization. It's even far more difficult if we are managing this matrix organization remotely.
What are some of the difficulties? Well from a traditional management perspective, having the responsibility and especially accountability as a manager) without any real authority is vexing.
It becomes orders of magnitude more difficult when we are dealing with various functional areas (finance vs QA vs engineering vs marketing), various cultures, across different languages (even if we are all speaking English, it may not and most likely today is not the first language of many of our colleagues) and, of course, time zones.
In many instances, to the matrix manager it can feel akin to pushing on a string. And that doesn't get one very far.
However, there is a framework as well as concrete strategies and techniques that can be applied to the situation to anticipate issues as well as mitigate, reconcile or eliminate then as they arise.
First, it behooves us to understand that almost every problem falls into three categories:
And that of those three, 99% of the time, the gating item(s) (not the traversable issues) are or can expect to be interpersonal / communicative in nature.
Second, we can solve much of this, both by anticipating and by how we react by understanding how our matrix team members think.
Notice I said HOW they think. Not WHY they think.
HOW, allows to understand how the process information and structure experience and through that we can create a function that can apply a formula to information or scenarios and understand their reaction. This works even for unexperienced events and phenomenon.
WHY conversely forces us to memorize static data points and makes predicting behavior and reactions to unexperienced events and phenomenon much more tenuous and difficult.
Last, how we set the initial frames and maintain those frames will using influence and persuasion in an ethical manner will determine how well not only we are able to manage our remote matrix but how well the team itself performs.
Sometimes when the orchestra is out of tune it may fall to the feet of the conductor and not the musicians.
James will speaking on the very important career-related topic of "I'm 40 Now! Is It Really Game Over For Me In Japan's Job Market?" at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on November 20th.
Among job seekers, arguably no group is more negatively affected by this brutal reality than 40+ year old job seekers.
Many 40+ year old job seekers are shocked to find this is the reality not only in the broader US economy but even in vaunted Silicon Valley which is the supposed Mecca of open-mindedness and where a meritocracy has ruled for decades.
And yet, for how bad it is in the US and even Silicon Valley, 40+ year old job seekers soon come to find that it's often much, much worse in Japan. Terrible. Impossibly frustrating. Depressing. These are words that come to mind when seeking employment in Japan as a 40+ year old candidate.
But how can this be the case in Japan, when Japan still has an economy which is the 3rd largest economy in the world and which is moving to further internationalize its businesses as rapidly as possible in the face of both falling domestic demand and a severe shortage of experienced workers.
The bottom line is this: Older, deeply experienced job seekers quickly run into 5 seemingly insurmountable brick walls..
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
Today I wanted to pose a very serious question regarding the coming failure of Abenomics (and it will fail, mark my words as economically there is no other alternative or outcome), Japan's continuing dearth of real, dynamic leadership and what it means for Japan's future.
Here we go: Has Japan's once rich, brave and bold Samurai spirit come to a crashing halt and been replaced by that of the Eunuch's?
I've deeply pondered this.
A Eunuch spirit and culture would suggest that, and evoke the feelings that, Japan's Samurai, Battlefield Culture has been replaced by something much softer and lacking in leadership.
I've written about this from various which you can find here:
Now some may be still questioning my prediction that Abenomics will fail. I guess the only debate I can see is how one define's failure and how bad the coming failure will be.
Abenomics is and has been economically untenable from the start, from when it was first announced.
And for those not overly familiar with Abenomics, here's a review of the so-called "3 arrows":
"The first arrow is an aggressive monetary policy. Abe appointed Haruhiko Kuroda, former president of the Asian Development Bank, as governor of the Bank of Japan in March. Kuroda has set a target of achieving 2% inflation and doubling the money supply within two years.
The second arrow is a proactive fiscal policy, consisting of a ¥10 trillion (US$100 billion) public works package.
The third arrow is a growth strategy. Structural reforms in Abe’s sights include everything from increasing women’s share of leadership positions to 30% by 2020 to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country free-trade agreement that should drive trade liberalization and deregulation inside Japan.
There are several things wrong with these areas and we've discussed them before. First, even if you thought all three all needed they are in the wrong order.
The first arrow should have been the biggest, heavy hitter arrow - structural reform, but given the amount of ossified, rent-seeking incumbents in Japan coupled with near complete regulatory capture in many areas, well, that just isn't going to happen.
So instead, the two simple arrow, although massive destructive arrows to the economy, will and have proceeded -- loosing monetary policy to drop the value of the yen and going on a Keynesian-spend what you don't have public works-waste the money spree to welcome inflation!
Folks, inflation is the last thing Japan needs and given the fact that Japan is oil dependent and import dependent for food and other materials, the last thing that should have been done was to drive down the yen.
In fact, it would have naturally fallen anyhow because of the current account balance for the new record oil imports.
I wrote about this in detail, what the smart play would have been:
Now back to the Eunch problem. What Japan needs is to develop more homegrown leaders - real leaders, women and men, of all ages and persuasions that are not afraid to lead -- they are out there, but often they are forced out of the game early or left on the sidelines because they frighten the status-quo management or the ossified corporate culture.
But by paving the way for more and more startups, these leaders can move to run and drive those businesses, which in turn put heavy pressure on the ossified incumbents -- sales, business models and so on.
It's a win-win for talent, for consumers, for the country.
But Abenomics is only a symptom of a Eunuch spirit and culture (as well as a self-serving incumbency) and leadership, nascent and seasoned will continue to be rare and often smothered out or crowded out of where it is most needed.
By Mike Rogers, MarketingJapan, Universal Vision Ltd., and Smart Research
& James Santagata, Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
TV as a Mirror of Society
I met the boss of the biggest international television network in the world the other day. He is a Canadian. He travels all over the world and, because he is in the TV business, he told me that one of his favorite things to do in every country was to judge by TV commercials what things were important to that particular society.
Japan's TV commercials? Insurance for this or that; home sales; automobiles; financial instruments and plans; candy, cosmetics, fast food... Companies like Zurich, Sekisui, Kanebo.... Japanese commercials that soft sell and are emotive commercials.
I think that's right.
He also told me that he was "astounded" by just how many over the counter drug medication commercials there were on US TV all the time. US TV commercials? Drugs, Cholesterol, Machismo ("my ding-a-ling is bigger than yours" commercials); fast food; commercials to make your dick hard, make it soft, put you to sleep, keep you awake, lower blood pressure, lose weight; not to mention commercials galore for people with extreme anxiety and panic attacks.
Oh, and don't forget the side effects disclaimers! Cholesterol, etc
Why is the USA this way? It wasn't that way 50 years ago, was it?
Here's one piece of anecdotal evidence: Japan has its problems too, but here is something that will drop the jaws of all Americans...
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
After Facebook's massive $19 billion USD acquisition of WhatsApp, two question have arisen.
The first is my question. How exactly did the Tech Cheerleader Press miss out on WhatsApp? That is, after countless posts over the years pimping Quora as "it", Twitter and others, where was the love for WhatsApp? This is actually a rhetorical question so no reason to answer it.
The second question is now coming from the Tech and even Business Cheerleader Press.
"Where's The Next WhatsApp", they ask.
Take a couple seconds now and do a quick search on that phrase and you'll be greeted by almost a dozen recent articles that are predicting or searching for the next WhatsApp.
You'll also find that these articles specifically target audiences ranging from the tech community to business folk, ad agencies and the general public.
That is to be expected, of course, when such large amounts of money such as $19 billion USD are thrown around. I can live with that. In fact, I expect that from the Cheerleader Press. It's just par for the course.
But here's the part that no one or at least very few will tell you.
The next WhatsApp is already out there and it's running fine. It may even be LINE for all I know.
But it doesn't matter, because whatever it is, the Cheerleader Press probably won't find them until they make it and even if they did, they wouldn't understand them due factors such as trait ascription bias.
Further, just like WhatsApp, the future WhatsApp may be running their operation out of a moldy warehouse and they probably aren't or won't be at Launch or Disrupt or any other events.
First because many of these startups have very little capital reserves and they are more concerned about eating and keeping the lights on. It's prioritizing capital outlays vs expected returns.
Second, even if they have the funds, they are most likely focused on building and refining their product while engaged in customer acquisition, retention and growth, perhaps employing Lifetime Value analysis or a traditional RFM model. Going to conferences takes not only time but energy. It's draining. And what again, is the ROI?
That's just the way it is.
And that's why people are or were like, "Hey, who the hell are the WhatsApp guys?"
Where did you guys come from? How did you build this thing? Why haven't we heard about you?
And now, suddenly they are treated like rock stars, as they should be.
And yet the Cheerleader Press will never get it,because they are victims of drinking the Kool-aid cocktail of social proof, the halo effect and various cognitive biases while subscribing to the standard Myths and Memes.
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
If it seems that we're under a constant barrage by the Western Media Myth (WMM) that (a) Japan is "failing" and that (b) this "failure" of Japan's is primarily due to Japan's "talent problem", it's because we are.
We're also told through this WMM that Japan's supposed "lack of talent" has further manifested itself in such as way as to be responsible for Japan's supposed "lack of creativity" and "lack of innovation", thus, contributing to again, the so-called "Lost Decade".
However, just when the WMM would have us give up all hope that Japan can saved, the WMM preaches that these "unique problems" that Japan faces can simply and quickly be solved by (a) increasing the number of English-speaking Japanese and (b) internationalizing the apparently "backwards" Japanese-only speaking speakers and/or (c) increasing the number of immigrants Japan accepts. Apparently, the WMM proponents believe that even a US-Open Border policy would "help" the Japanese economy if not "save" it.
To support such silly myths, memes and the previously proposed "solutions", the Western Media often holds up statistics showing Japan's lack of internationalized workers (however you define this), Japan's relatively low TOEIC and TOEFL scores compared to other Asian countries as well as the dearth of Japanese college students now studying overseas compared to the figures thrown up by countries such as India and China (for the record, the Japanese figures are low even when comparing this on a per capita basis, but this begs the question -- so what?).
As I have argued for over a decade now, these claims and even statistical comparisons by the Western Media are not only useless but downright dangerous to those that want to fully understand Japan's current situation as they ignore the real root causes of Japan's underperformance.
And note that I say "underperformance" here and not failure. As the third largest economy in the world (behind China that has ten times the population along with zero controls on economic externalities), it's pretty silly to continue to paint Japan as an economic basket case or the "sick man of Asia".
The key to all of this is to understand that Japan lacks leadership. That is what is hampering Japan.
Japan doesn't lack creativity, Japan doesn't lack innovation, Japan doesn't lack talent and Japan doesn't lack English-speakers, although Japan could improve in all of these areas.
The Western Media's arguments or framing of these issues, especially in terms of Japan's supposed lack of "English-speaking" talent becomes even sillier when we consider that it ignores what I have deemed the "tip of the spear" or "tip of the sword" strategy.
As I have stated many time before, business is warfare, the only difference being that in business there is no Geneva Convention and prisoners aren't routinely taken.
In a war, it is considered completely unwise to judge the strength of an army solely by the total number of troops. One must judge an army by its effectiveness in killing and maiming people as well as smashing, burning and breaking things. One would also be well advised to measure an army's effectiveness in terms of its ability to project power. Again, the number of troops is mostly irrelevant.
This becomes even clearer when we analyze a war dominated by air power,
In such a case you don't measure a military's effectiveness by the number of pilots deployed in theater or even the total trained (and active) pilots but rather you measure a military's effectiveness (related to these air campaigns) by the efficacy of the pilots that are deployed and the results which they attain.
For instance, even on a conventional basis, one pilot and perhaps one navigator can wreak enormous havoc on an enemy force, and yet, this one pilot and navigator are backed up by thousands of others ranging from ground crews that handle maintenance, fueling and ordnance. Air traffic controllers to mid-air refuelers (who in turn are supported by their own ground crews) and this ripples through the entire supply chain from the men and women who cut the paychecks, the cooks, the water purification teams, the truckers, the doctors and dentists to the nurses and so on.
Thousands and thousands of non-combatants are involved to support a relatively small group of pilots and this doesn't even include all of the time and effort that went into designing and producing each plane and each weapons systems, all to support one pilot and perhaps one navigator.
And yet it works because that plane and that pilot are, indeed, the tip of the spear.
You can see this as well in a US Navy Carrier Task Force when you consider how many personnel are on one aircraft carrier -- mutiple thousands. And this one carrier in turn supports a relatively small group of pilots. But it goes far beyond this, because that one aircraft carrier is in turn supported by a group of other ships - submarines, cruisers, destroyers and so on.
All of these assets and personnel are supporting this one aircraft carrier which in turn supports her air crews who are, by definition, the tip of the spear.
Unsurprisingly, businesses and economies work in the same way. This should be common sense and yet evidently the Western Media still doesn't get this nor does most of the Silicon Valley "Cheerleader Press".
In concrete terms, what does this mean for Japan?
Well, this means that in Japan not every person or employee needs to speak English or be internationalized. It's a silly notion to assume that they do. Moreover, even if each Japanese worker did have these skills there is no guarantee that the Japanese economy would stronger since there is a huge opportunity cost to skill-up in these areas which could, in fact, dampen Japanese creativity, innovation and productivity.
In any event, today I was back on site at a client (a Japanese domestic firm), running interviews for 2015 college graduates. I had eleven Japanese and several foreign student candidates lined up for today. This was in addition to the 15 Japanese candidates I had interviewed for the same client the week before.
And once again, I am and have been extremely impressed with the quality of all candidates, both Japanese and foreign candidates.
This simply adds more empirical evidence to my long made argument that Japan doesn't suffer from a lack of talent, creativity or innovation.
Japan suffers not just from a lack of but a dearth of aggressive, quality leadership which is able to effectively and profitably deploy and monetize the outstanding domestic and international talent that is already onboard or can be readily acquired.
To counter balance this lack of leadership and the resultant underperforming or ossified firms it produces, Japan must create and maintain a very healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem.
An ecosystem that can continually challenge, engage, kill and compost underperforming incumbent Japanese corporations, especially ossified incumbents, wherever they may be found.
Related Background Articles:
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
That Japan like any country, be it developing or developed, has her share of problems is not in the least bit surprising or at least it shouldn't be.
However, what has surprised me over the years is how many foreign "Japan watchers" and "Japan pundits" always seem to miss the crux of what's really going on on the ground in Japan and more importantly what's going on in the mind of the Japanese.
When articles are written or comments made about the supposed dearth of Japanese startups, the author or speaker almost always boils this down to several factors such as Japan's Shima-guni mentality (Island Nation / 島国), the so-called Galapagos Effect (which as I've continually pointed out is really just a misnomer for an industry or marketplace rife with ossified, rent-seeking incumbents and regulatory capture), Japan's supposed lack of talent, Japan's supposed lack of diversity and Japan supposed lack of creativity.
In the past, I've written about and either fully debunked these myths and memes or I've put them into a context in which they are far better understood.
With that said, there is another popular myth and meme that comes up regarding the lack of Japanese startups and that is the idea that the Japanese have an almost in-born fear of failure.
I'm not here to argue that Japanese don't have a fear of failure because they do. We all do. Just as most other peoples around the world do, including those in the US and even including those working in Silicon Valley.
People fear failure.
But to hear the pundits tell it, "Japanese need to get over failure and embrace it". These pundits act like the fear of failure in Japan is simple a psychological construct* like it is in parts of the West like in the US.
(*For the record, even in the US failure is more than just a psychological construct, there are still real financial, social and psychological penalties, set backs and damage that can and do come with it. But this is so much less than what is faced in Japan)
Now I am here to tell you, that in Japan this "fear of failure" is not simply psychological but real. Depending on the failure level there are material penalties that can accrue or hit one hard and if you are to strike out on your own or with a small group of friends, launch a company and it fails it is not like Silicon Valley where you can walk down the street and pickup a paycheck at a top firm while your lick your wounds, get on your feet and start again or even just resume your pre-startup career.
In Japan, the damage and risks include and span the following:
There are huge differences in how societies views failures and how you move on in terms of romantic prospects and relationships, platonic relationships and friendships, how your family views you, the support groups you have and, most importantly, the career risks which translate, in the end, to money - to financial issues.
Although much has changed in Japan over the last 8 years, especially in the last 4 years or so, it is still no where near the levels of what we see in the West regarding some issues such as Mid-career hires.
Now let's step back in time, to say 1995. In the US, for instance, much of the economy was still coming out a bad recession from a couple years earlier where housing prices were pummeled - in fact, I remember many saying they wouldn't buy a home again.
As one specific example, I'll pick Silicon Valley as just one example, even in that economy, a person could have a massive failure and if they learned something and could present themselves well, they could easily land a similar or even better job by leveraging it. Even if they were fired.
Conversely, even if they didn't learn anything, they still could land a similar job. Even if they were fired.
People hired with a very open mind based on what the candidate could produce.
In Japan, the idea of mid-career hires, although changing now, was really non-existent unless you had super skills, super connections or worked at a foreign firm (gaishikei), like Microsoft, Oracle, etc. who needed talent and hired among themselves.
I can tell you, as just one example, when I met with Fuji-Xerox HR group back in mid-2008 to discuss their domestic hiring needs, although they were very polite and professional, it was made extremely clear they wanted new grads only and that they weren't set up to recruit mid-career hires.
Did that mean that mid-career hires didn't happen at Fuji-Xerox?
Of course not.
But it did mean and it does mean that mid-career hires (a) were rare and (b) a special case.
Which again leads to this risk factor of damage to one's career and so on.
Coupled with this was a employee/candidate ethos that often considered working for a direct competitor "dishonorable" while on the company side, such a candidate applying for a position from a direct competitor would be seen as "suspect" or "suspicious".
Again, I want to emphasize this has been changing for the better over the last 8 years and specifically the last 4 years or so but this hiring mentality exists and so does the economic and career damage fear among workers.
I can also share with you some examples where I took top talent from various gaishikei firms (in this case, in the network & information security industry) and introduced the persons to other top companies, both domestic and gaishikei.
Often what I heard was, "They are a job hopper".
My thought: "Are you insane" or "What an idiot, can you not see how talented this person is to fill the position you've had open for the last 4 months...."
My reply, "Uh, no. They aren't a job hopper. And regarding their changes, the last company they worked for went bankrupt and the other two companies before that, that the candidate worked for got acquired by huge multinationals. They left because they preferred a smaller work environment."
"Well, that shows bad choices on their part."
A bad choice? To know the firm would go bankrupt? To work at a startup or a company working in emerging markets or developing nascent technologies?
This actual conversation took place in 2008. And I've had numerous conversations like this, from the mid 1990's, skipping through the dot com boom of 1999 to 2001 (in the US, the dot com bomb died out with the 2000 Nasdaq crash but Japan trailed about a year) to around early 2009. Then it thawed a bit.
I should note that in the dot com bomb, Japanese firms were so scared by the hype and activity happening online that they did hire mid-hires and they did bring in foreigners, even non-Japanese speaking. Fear of the firm failure, spurned positive changes. In other words, competition is good.
I should also add that this was within the fast moving, dynamic tech industry. I've also done work in very static sectors like industrial chemicals, and as late as 2008, it was not uncommon to have a HR manager or even the hiring authority (even the country manager) characterize a person who had stayed at each job less than 5 to 10 years was seen as a job hopper and also undesirable.
Wrapping this up, it's not so much that Japanese have a greater fear of failure than, say, Americans, it is simply that the economic cost of a failure in Japan is much higher - financially, socially, psychologically.
Once you understand, all the pieces begin to fall into place.
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
Former Wall Street Journal technology reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane has published a new book entitled, "Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs" and I'm here to posit, that without even having cracked open one page of this book she is spot on, at least with regard to her provocative title.
"But wait, what? How could she be right?"
"How could that title be right?"
"How can you, James, be such a pompous ass to think you know anything about Apple let alone judge Kane's book by its cover?"
"Doesn't Apple create magical products? It's true that Steve Jobs has passed on but the same great staff, the same great workers remain!"
And all of that is true.
However, to understand why the title of the book is right and why I'm right we need to honestly and objectively understand who Steve Jobs was and what made him so successful and Apple so successful under his leadership.
And leadership is an operative word here.
At the same time, we need to understand that competition doesn't operate in a vacuum so we must ask, "What made Apple's and Steve Jobs' competitors so timid? Why didn't they respond and counterstrike? Better yet, why didn't they create the iPhone type phone, the smartphone first?!"
And the answer is simply it goes back to the structure and dynamics of office politics and power within a company. The real shock should not be that Apple, with zero experience within the mobile phone industry, built and released the blockbuster iPhone but that none of the incumbent handset makers did!
Where was Nokia and their smart phone? In fact, where were the rest of the handset makers?
And that is the real shock. Not that Apple made a smartphone but that the 800-pound Gorillas gave them an opening and then didn't pounce and kill or even defend their territory.
However, if you've taken one of our related coaching or training sessions (How To Beat Silicon Valley's (and other) Fast-moving Startups At Their Own Game) or just intuitively understand Office Politics and Power (aka Organizational Politics & Power - OPP) this not only comes as no surprise but rather it both predicted and expected. And once you understand Office Politics and Power, you can quickly see and understand why and how Apple under Steve Jobs beat Sony to the next iteration of the Sony Walkman which became known as the Apple iPod.
It helps one also understand why and how Larry Ellison discussed the Net PC (in the mid-1990's) but Apple built it (the iMac), and why Apple could add some basic design features and colors to it to make a hit while intra-company rent-seeking behavior at the competition prevented them from responding or competing let alone getting that to market first.
OPP also explains why and how Jobs could do the same with Pixar while a former Disney employee, John Lasseter, who suggested as much years before Jobs ever thought about animation or rendering farms was let go (or summarily fired depending on the source one references) from Disney, only to have it all come full circle again with Disney acquiring Pixar.
And, of course, it explains some of the biggest daddy ball drops in history such as Xerox PARC and their full blown PC and related projects (which later became reflected in industry leaders like Apple, Adobe, SGI and 3Com) and Kodak with their digital camera years before the competition had one...that all went to waste...
I've talked about that in detail here, about the Myths About Steve Jobs and how is personality and ethos, while celebrated within Silicon Valley (and beyond) is actually completely anathema to traditional Valley ethos.
Reference: Steve Jobs: The Man Who Broke Every Myth & Meme In Silicon Valley & Become A Legend
The problem then, is that a company (any company, including a post-Steve Jobs Apple) needs a strong leader who is unafraid to break eggs to make omelettes and unafraid to slaughter sacred cows for burgers or even just for fun. They also need a leader who is not just unafraid but actually enjoys and even thrills in steamrolling the competition and taking the troops straight up the middle as Alexander the Great did to Darius during one the Macedonian-Persian wars.
As a further piece of evidence, one only needs to consider that the Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, was Steve Jobs while Steve Jobs was still in diapers. Moreover, Akio Morita was extremely aggressive, even actively counterattacking industry special interests who tried to have the courts block the Sony Betamax recorder. Morita was successful in defending this and in ultimately escalating this to the US Supreme Court with Sony (and consumers) coming out as the victor.
Tim Cook being the nice great guy and "steady, paint by number operator" he is (certainly he's the first guy that I would hire or consult with to determine what color doilies to lay out for my dinner party), shares none of those characteristics with either Steve Jobs or Akio Morita.
So now lets move on to more questions regarding Job's selection of Cook as his successor.
Why Leaning-In Isn't Enough & Can Actually Be Dangerous & Destructive: High-Impact Leadership For Women
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
Hats off to Sheryl Sandberg and her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
It's started a valuable conversation but until concrete actions are taken, that's all it is - a conversation, talk.
And by concrete actions I mean focusing on understanding, developing and utilizing specific tools and strategies to accept the world as it is, and then to use these tools and strategies to create, mold and reframe a new more comfortable and productive reality.
Because Leaning-In Isn't Always Enough
This training draws extensively from our Psychological Jujutsu training and High-Impact Leadership series to create a body of original material that is specifically tailored for women currently in or seeking leadership roles.
We delve deeply into the fine line separating the 4B's -- Bimbo, Babe, Bitch, Brilliant-Boss -- and more importantly we discuss exactly how to effectively place yourself and stay in the Brilliant-Boss category without triggering negative push backs, mismatches or attacks.
By understanding the impact and deeply embedded, yet invisible, role that evolutionary psychology plays with regard to the organization and society's view of strong women leaders, we'll explore how to deftly avoid the many traps and pitfalls while learning how to push the correct buttons and trigger the proper scripts allowing women to lead an more effective, efficient, productive and satisfying work and home life.
By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
It seems like the peddling of the old standby Myths & Memes is on the rise once again in the Valley. As this is often a lagging indicator of both the Valley's, and even the wider Tech Industry's financial state, it tells me that we're in a very frothy if not overheated market since people are now letting their hair down and apparently gleefully throwing themselves onto the politically correct bandwagon. But they should be careful, lest they find themselves thrown beneath it.
Still, it's my guess that whatever problems or disasters may rear their ugly heads in the future due to blind belief and adherence to these Myths & Memes, the folks most involved are betting that they'll be able to quickly paper over it with the waves and waves of cash that are flowing so freely now.
But not everyone believed let alone followed these Myths and Memes and amazingly, they didn't fail or turn into a pumpkin or a toad.
What a perfect example of a person who broke every one of these Myths and Memes?
Try Steve Jobs. Yep, Steve Jobs. And Apple Computer under his guidance during his second tour of duty.
The fact is, no one can deny that, under Steve Jobs, Apple was a smashing success. All the metrics are there: market cap, profits, amazing hit product after hit product. iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone. You name it.
And for the record, I am by no means an Apple fan nor am I a Steve Jobs / Apple Computer apologist. I'm simply a reality-based thinker and I call it the way it is, not the way I wish it were.
That said, I'm a very serious student of Steve Jobs and I'm not afraid to look at what really made him successful. I can tell you, it wasn't following the Valley Myth and Memes and it wasn't being politically correct.
In fact, Steve Jobs did the exact opposite of what most pundits and social engineers are preaching. And the reason it worked for Steve Jobs is because Steve Jobs and his communication style was perfectly aligned with the way the world and humans work.
What is most interesting, though perhaps very disconcerting to the social engineers among us, is how Steve Jobs did it.
We're told that if a person studies hard at the "right" schools, gets a "good" education and makes the "right" connections they'll be well positioned for success.
Beyond that we are told, especially in the Valley, that an organization will perform best when it is openly transparent (both internally and externally), when there is diversity, when there are women in senior leadership positions and when we have an open environment of respect and perhaps kumbayahism in the office.
Going even further, we are told that we should be investing and building all kinds of new tech that people have never seen. And by "new tech" I mean core tech, not making sexy cases, new form factors or tinkering with some incremental derivative product like the iPod.
And yet, if we look at Steve Jobs and his management style during his absolutely, amazing and record smashing second run we find something that is completely at odds with what the pundits say is necessary for success:
1. No diversity at Apple (as defined by the politically correct sense of skin pigmentation / reproductive organs).
2. No women in senior leadership positions (see also: Apple Vows To Find Women & Minorities For Board Directors).
3. No Indians in senior leadership positions (see: Why Indian presence in Apple's senior management level is next to nil).
4. Few minorities (see: Apple Facing Criticism About Diversity Changes Bylaws).
5. Steve Jobs didn't go to a "top" university.
6. Steve Jobs didn't even graduate from a four-year college.
7. Steve Jobs was not transparent. At best, he could be characterized as a benevolent dictator, at worst a tyrant.
8. Jobs/Apple was not open -- you leak new Apple products, you'd be hunted down & sued (see: Apple Sues To Stop Product Leaks).
9 Jobs/Apple could be downright nasty, even engaging in potentially illegal activity, if the "no poach" collusion allegations are borne out.
10. Steve Jobs even used his money to find a loophole in California vehicle code so that he wouldn't have to get license plates and had an apparent penchant for parking in the handicap spaces.
And yet again, while Steve Jobs just turned a blind eye to all of these supposed business and organizational "requirements" his results were phenomenal. Can we in any way argue with Steve Jobs' success? It seems that few prominent members of the Valley tech community question his success so I guess not.
Next time, we'll dig a bit deeper and explore why Steve Jobs was so successful, time and time again. The results may surprise you.
Lastly, as quick exercise, we should ask ourselves is Apple really lacking diversity? Or is and has Apple always been diverse but in a more mature manner, such as defining "diversity" with regard to value, thought patterns and productivity rather than with regard to skin pigments and reproductive organs?.
It can easily be argued that a man and women studying the same subject matter from Princeton (not to pick on any school) will be more alike than two men, one of which studied electrical engineering and the other who studied marketing at two different schools in two different states or countries.
Think about it.
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