7 Habits for Highly Effective People

7 Habits for Highly Effective People

Summary
The current (July, 2020) racial tension in the United States has led me to recall one of my favorite productivity lessons: “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is Habit 5 from Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since Covey’s book is now 30 years old, I wonder how many millennials have never read the book or learned its timeless lessons? Here is a brief summary of the key lessons from the 7 Habits. Stephen R. Covey – R.I.P.   Habit 1: Be Proactive Whenever something impacts you, YOU are in control of the response. Effective people choose to take the initiative and act back. The key lesson in Habit 1 is understanding whether you control, influence, or only have concern about an…
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Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Summary
Authors Jim Collins (author of the best-seller Good to Great) and Jerry Porras compared 18 sets of long-running and successful companies to learn what differentiated the visionary company from the comparison company. Their research identified key traits and habits prevalent in the more successful companies and formed the basis of their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. This post summarizes ten lessons of visionary companies from the book and, as a bonus, offers six suggestions for leaders to better align an organization.   You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. Few of the visionary companies in the book began with even any specific idea. Visionary companies often get off to a slow start, but set BHAGs (below) and continue to experiment with ideas…
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The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game

Summary
This month we summarize the 2019 book The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. This is Sinek’s third book and follows the 2014 bestseller, Leaders Eat Last. There are two kinds of games. Finite games have known players and fixed rules. As I write this sentence, I am watching the finite game of football. The game has two known teams pitted against one another with referees enforcing the rules. One team will win the game by having scored more points as the time expires. Infinite games are played by known and unknown players. There are no agreed-upon rules, and no finish line or clock signaling the end of the contest. There is, therefore, no way to “win” an infinite game; the best you can do is keep playing. Sinek notes that…
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Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Summary
This post shares the lessons from the 2015 book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Willink and Babin were Navy SEALs who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war. The book demonstrates how SEAL leadership principles apply to business. Each chapter describes a situation from the war in Iraq in the insurgent occupied Ramadi where Babin led a unit that reported to Willink. Stories from the battlefield demonstrate each principle, then the authors define the principle and share an example from a business situation that further demonstrates the principle. Many of the principles are well covered in other leadership books, but several are lesser-known. This post will describe the leadership principles themselves. If you enjoy reading…
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Traction/Entrepreneurial Operating System

Traction/Entrepreneurial Operating System

Summary
Several clients and trusted partners we work with have recently implemented some of the ideas discussed in the 2011 book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. The book introduces an Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) that small and medium-sized enterprises can use to simplify how they grow their business.   EOS® simplifies the many aspects of an organization into six core components as shown below. We will explain these six components and how they work together in a powerful system. EOS contains good tools for a small business if you don't already have a management system. None of the six components in EOS are novel, but the overall system uses the KISS method (Keep it Simple, Stupid) to help a business owner focus.     VISION A…
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The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto

Summary
  This post summarizes a wonderful book that is celebrating its ten-year anniversary. Atul Gawande wrote the best-seller The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right in 2009. It was the third book by the author and has become influential in healthcare and beyond. Gawande is a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. In June of 2018 he was named CEO of the recently formed healthcare venture Haven, owned by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase.   I’ll let Gawande summarize the core idea from his book: “Avoidable failures are common and persistent, not to mention demoralizing and frustrating, across many fields –…
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Lean Startup Thinking

Lean Startup Thinking

Summary
This blog post is a continuation of last month's 'The Need for Lean Innovation' where we introduce the concept of Lean innovation and make the case for why businesses and organizations need to prioritize learning through experimentation.  One recent book that captures many principles of Lean Innovation is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Ries applies several concepts of Lean thinking to the realm of startups, where there is huge uncertainty about the success of the innovation and business model. A few of the key ideas are: Working smarter, not harder: the key question is not “can this product be built?” but rather “should this product be built?” and “will this result in a sustainable business?” Developing a Minimal Viable Product (MVP): the MVP should be easy to build and…
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Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Summary
Daniel Coyle wrote the bestselling book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups in 2018 as a follow-up to his bestselling book The Talent Code. Both books are well researched and highly recommended reads by Lean East. This post summarizes several of the “ideas for action” from the book into a basic leadership action plan. Culture is not something you are, it is something you do. Coyle focuses on three keys to building a cohesive, motivated culture – build safety, share vulnerability and establish purpose. The book shares his research on each of these areas and each section has ideas any leader can implement to improve their organization’s culture. Below are 20 ideas you can begin implementing today. Please share with others and leave a comment below if…
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Leadership for New Leaders

Leadership for New Leaders

Summary
  I was chatting with friends at a gathering recently when I happened to ask the 30 year-old daughter of the host about her new job. “It is going well,” she said, “but I am having a hard time with one of my new employees.” She proceeded to explain how one employee didn’t seem pleased to have her as his new manager. “He has worked with the company longer than me and doesn’t seem to want to do what I ask.” Her husband joined the conversation and mentioned his similar challenges as a new leader at a different company. His company was larger, and he was benefitting from the leadership training they offered. I later realized the topic of leadership training was worthy of additional research and a helpful post,…
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Developing High-Performing Organizations

Developing High-Performing Organizations

Summary
Lean East was founded in 2010 with a mission to bring out the best in organizations by bringing out the best in people. We focus on introducing proven Lean Six Sigma improvement methods to service organizations in Maine and New England – in industries including healthcare, government, insurance, construction, and finance. Many of the clients we have partnered with have had a common goal – to improve their culture and performance and provide better customer service. Some client organizations want to improve their processes and provide more customer value with less waste. Others focus more on changing work culture, training their leaders and staff, and improving teamwork. One client wanted to improve in multiple dimensions and move the company from good to great. A common theme with all our clients is…
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