Speaking of Leadership – John F. Moore

John F. Moore is the founder of The Lab, a consulting firm that provides market research, consulting services, and product delivery to help small and medium businesses, as well as local governments and state agencies, implement common sense approaches to leveraging social business strategies, tactics, and tools to meet their organizational goals.

In addition to his work with The Lab, John is a Strategic Advisor to Silberberg Innovations, the Founder of CityCamp Boston (an event focused on bringing together citizens, local government officials, municipal employees, experts, programmers, designers and journalists to share perspectives and insights about the cities in which they live), and a contributor to Fortune.com.

Prior to founding The Lab, John was the CTO, SVP of Engineering, Chief Social Ecosystem Strategist at Swimfish, CTO, VP Engineering at Sonicbids, Inc., and the Director of Engineering at Brainshark,Inc.

John is also a prolific blogger, a frequent speaker on government 2.0 and social business strategies, and has grown strong, thriving communities on Twitter (19,000+), Empire Avenue (600+), and Facebook (150+).

I corresponded with John recently via email to ask him about social media and leadership.

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It’s not enough to lead

I was sitting in a doctor’s office over the weekend and picked up the latest copy of Rolling Stone to page through the interview with President Obama. And leaving aside my opinion on the president and his tenure to date, I found the article fascinating on a number of levels, the most important of which for this blog is the implications it had for leadership.

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Leadership and the feasible

Talented political leaders, like talented generals, can win battles and campaigns that would overwhelm those less able or less energetic. So, asking if a policy is feasible is, in part, asking a question about the advocates of reform, especially their creativity, commitment, and skills—and about their opponents.

Getting Health Reform Right, p. 66

Although I’m still only early on in Getting Health Reform Right, there’s food for thought in every section. The quote above is from their chapter on the politics of reform, and although the political context of health care reform (particularly in third world countries) is an animal unto itself, this quote got me thinking about what makes a successful first-world corporate leader.

I’d start by rephrasing the meat of the quote: Asking if a corporate initiative is feasible is, in part, a question about the leader who sponsors it, especially their creativity, commitment, and skills—and about their opponents’ creativity, commitment, and skills.

I’ll have to be honest, I love this vision of leadership, not only because of how it describes the leader (creative, committed, skillful) but also because of how it expresses the interrelation between initiatives and the leaders who support them.

Isn’t this the kind of leader we all want to work for? The kind of leader whose initiatives we want to be a part of? And for what it’s worth, isn’t this the kind of leader any of us would want to be?

And while I’ve been fortunate enough to know many leaders who fit this bill, I’d be hard pressed to count on more than one hand the number of CXOs I’ve run across who lived up to this vision. Certainly any reasonably competent CXO will have at least one of these qualities, and more often than not two, but for some reason I simply haven’t come across many who have all three.

To be fair, I’m a latecomer to the corporate world, so maybe ten years is not enough time to have bumped up against more of these exceptional CXOs—but then what does that say about corporate leadership that you could spend ten years working and not encounter lots of great leaders?

Anyway, I took away two things from this vision of leadership. One, I want everything I do at work to draw me towards leaders who have creativity, commitment, and skills and away from those that don’t. Two, I want to have experiences that help me develop these same qualities so that I can live up to this vision of leadership when I take the reins at an organization.

So how about you all out there: What do you think about this vision of leadership? Have another one that you think works better? And what about the lack of exceptional leaders at the C-level? Have you had better luck finding them than I have?

As usual, jump in and let’s get the conversation started.

Review of Health Care Will Not Reform Itself, by George Halvorson

George Halvorson is the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the largest not-for-profit health plan and care system in the U.S., and has been a leader in the industry for over 30 years. Health Care Will Not Reform Itself is his attempt to spell out what he thinks are the key problems and most promising solutions to the health care problems we face.

For Halvorson, as the title of the book suggests, we cannot expect our health care system (which he calls a “nonsystem”) to spontaneously, organically transform to become more efficient, less expensive, and more effective. He would disagree with Christensen that disruptive innovation is acting like some invisible hand, making care more affordable and effective day by day over the long haul. The only invisible hand Halvorson sees at work in the U.S. health care nonsystem is profit…and our nonsystem is structured to reward things most folks would consider less than desirable for the country as a whole and its citizens as individuals.

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Words of wisdom – CIO roundtable, Oklahoma IT Symposium

I was lucky enough to attend the Oklahoma IT Symposium two weeks ago and hear a great CIO roundtable with leaders from a diverse set of organizations:

  • Dan Barth, CIO, OPUBCO Communications Group
  • Gina L. Bradford, CIO, TMA Systems
  • Scott Martin, CIO, Nonni’s Food Company, Inc
  • Gene Rindels, Director of IT, Charles Machine Works, Inc.
  • Hugh Scott, VP, Direct Energy
  • Chris Truesdell, CIO, QuikTrip

I jotted down some things that struck me at the time and wanted to share them here.

One caveat: I was handwriting notes, not recording, so the quotes here should be taken as paraphrases of what was said. And if anyone was there and remembers differently, please jump into the conversation and add your take as well.

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Individuals and systems

The reason why integrated health systems have all implemented proprietary electronic medical record systems is that their processes of care, compensation, costing, procurement, and management are interdependent—in unique and proprietary ways. Rather than force their processes to conform to a standard-format electronic medical records system, it is much more natural and cost-effective for them to develop a system that conforms itself to their own organization’s established processes, not the other way around.

In addition, just as doctors are individual actors within a larger system, so are those hospital systems—they’re subsystems within a larger system. It is simply not in their best interest to force-fit their operating processes into a standard format so other providers in other systems can easily care for their patients. In other words, we cannot expect entities whose scope is that of individuals within a subsystem, or subsystems within a system, voluntarily to invest to solve higher-level systemic problems. We have gotten exactly what we could expect.

Christensen, The Innovator’s Prescription, pp. 137-138

Although my review of Christensen’s The Innovator’s Prescription is still forthcoming (I have about 100 pages left to finish the book), I keep finding gems along the way that raise important issues for leadership.

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Speaking of Leadership – Gawain de Leeuw (part 2)

Father Gawain de Leeuw was ordained to the priesthood in 1996, serving churches in SeattleKorea, and White Plains. He was raised in Rochester New York, to a multi-faith family. He was graduated with a degree in Philosophy, cum laude, at Oberlin College in 1991, awarded his Master in Divinity degree at the University of Chicago in 1995, and received his Anglican Studies certificate at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. He was graduated with his Doctor in Ministry in Congregational Development at Seabury-Western Seminary in 2010. After ordination, he received the Luce Scholar’s award, serving the English Mission at the Anglican Cathedral in Seoul and teaching liturgical theology at Anglican University. He has been trained in Leadership, Authority and Organization at the Tavistock Institute and facilitative leadership and coaching at the Interaction Institute for Social Change. He has done his clinical pastoral work at Roosevelt-St Luke’s hospital and at the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education in Chicago. He has written for the Anglican Theological Review, The Witness, SoMA magazine and Salsa New York. He has served as the chair of the Committee for the formation of a Credit Union, and is currently the Dean of the Westchester Central Clericus, and president of the White Plains Religious Leaders. He serves on the board of the Westchester Housing Action Council and Meals on Wheels. He is a founding member of the Garrison Institute’s Clergy Initiative. He is also a Rotarian. When he is finished with his daily work, he is occasionally found at the Lazy Boy Saloon enjoying a Rogue, or a Captain Lawrence.

As part of the Speaking of Leadership series, I sat down with Father Gawain de Leeuw recently to talk with him about leadership inside and outside the church. Part one of this interview was posted here.

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