Archive Page 2

Outliers and the Story of Success

 

Writer and journalist, Malcolm Gladwell familiarized the public with the terms “the tipping point,” and “blink.” With the release of his newest book this week he is about to popularize a less-than-common word: “outlier.”

In Outlier: The Story of Success, Gladwell describes an outlier as “the person who doesn’t fit into our normal understanding of achievement.” In essence, he says that outliers out-work the rest of us, and spend 10,000 hours doing it—what he calls the 10,000-hour rule—because greatness requires enormous time. His examples include Bill Gates, the Beatles and many others who worked enormously hard and put in the time before making it to the big time.

In Lean Six Sigma, one of the approaches that I utilize as a consultant to help organizations around the world achieve breakthrough financial results, an “outlier” is a data point that is beyond the three-sigma lines on a statistical process control (SPC) graph. W. Edwards Deming, Walter Shewhart, and their colleagues brought SPC graphs and outliers to the world in the 1940s. And, In the 1950s they brought them to the Japanese, who in turn used Deming’s philosophy, methods, and SPC graphs to kick our industrial butts in the 1960s. And they still do today.

Technically, an outlier is data point with a 99.7% chance of not happening. So if one happens, you can say with huge confidence, “something has changed.” You should do a root cause analysis on all outliers, good and bad. For example, if you rack up a horrendous golf score compared to your handicap, or previous average and range, ask yourself what the root cause is so you can correct it. Do the same for an amazing score. Rather than just buying everyone in your foursome a drink when you have an “exceptional” day, make the exception the rule by analyzing what worked. This is called a best practice.

I completely agree with Malcolm Gladwell’s assessment of the distinguishing characteristic of greatness. But if I may be so bold, I’d like to add an underlying characteristic. AMPLITUDE. On one extreme, great performers go to the positive extreme, where they think big and idealistically, and push themselves and their organizations to achieve uncompromising quality. Additionally, winners in all walks of life employ huge, constructively negative amplitude in order to spot unmet market needs, as well as brutally evaluate themselves. This enables them to be overachievers in practicing their art, science or sport, and fuels them. Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice, Dianna Ross, Madonna, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, and every other winner does this. They are often accused of being perfectionists, and for good reason. They are.

Coincidentally, I believe I fit Malcolm’s 10,000-hour rule in that I have presented what I have discovered to be the ONE THING that distinguishes great leaders (and all other winners) from just the good ones. It’s “Amplitude,” and I intend to make the word famous. (Remember where you heard it first!) I have shared it in keynote speeches and workshops around the world with 10,000 people over the last 15 years, receiving 99.9% confirmation it’s the real deal.

Or, if you would like to see how to apply amplitude to your business strategy, innovation, marketing, finance, operations, organization, acquisitions, and other areas, read my first book, Corporate Imagination—Plus. It was the first book to detail how to put innovation into strategy.

 

Advertisements

Barack Obama is a Breakthrough Leader!

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama! You have unquoed the status, as I call it, and ushered in a new era of leadership. And just in time.

America is awash in nearly paralyzing uncertainty and desperately sought a leader who can reverse the tide and restore the hopes and prosperity of our country. Barack Obama heard this desperation and saw an opening that would cross all previous boundaries of race, gender, class, age, and political affiliation. He crafted a campaign that resonated with Americans, and judging from the reaction here in Tokyo where I am currently delivering a workshop, as well as media reports from around the globe, it is also striking a chord with the rest of the world as well.

President-Elect Obama’s actions and statements thus far indicate that he holds a philosophy built on the principles of breakthrough leadership, innovation, and inclusion, with a mandate to drive change. His leadership style separated him from Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, and arguably from all of his predecessors, enabling him to deliver an improbable victory that has fundamentally altered the electoral landscape, and he stands poised to alter the world stage as well.

He is a transformative leader. He recognizes that his role as a strong executive is crucial, and he has marshaled his inner leadership strengths to be equal to the task. Importantly, he also acknowledges that he as a singular leader can not do it on his own. He has begun surrounding himself with a strong team and called for partisan partnership. But he also knows that Washington isn’t good enough.

America itself urgently needs to discover its own inner strength. We individually and collectively need to take up the mantle of leadership, as he alluded to in his speech in Chicago as the new President-Elect on election night.

In that stirring speech he spoke of the challenges we face and will face, and prepared the public for the rough road ahead. He knows that it is critical to look our problems in the face, name them, and employ deep leadership amplitude, digging into their root causes-what I call the “dark-side.” But he also spoke of America’s promise, of the goals to be achieved, the changes on the horizon, and the possibilities of what can be accomplished together. I call this the “light-side.”

Barack Obama assessed what America was, is, and can be, and he has repeatedly done this throughout his long march to this day. He has a masterful ability to incorporate both the light and dark sides, and factor them into a compelling vision, with a reasoned strategic action plan, employing a strong, disciplined, and consistent message of intent throughout the duration. This ability is the key to unlocking his breakthrough leadership approach. There is much to learn from his example for leaders in all facets of society.

It’s fitting that I kick off my blog at this moment, as this remarkable leader ascends. Because what the country and the world are seeing in this President-Elect’s leadership ability is something I have identified in exceptional leaders throughout the world, and throughout history.

It took years of research to crystallize it, but as a global keynote speaker, trainer, and leadership development consultant, I have concluded that there is One Thing that separates great leaders from good leaders. I identify it as amplitude. Leaders who operate with amplitude dig deep into the dark-side, to diagnose world or industry problems, which are breakthrough opportunities, and then leap and soar to the light-side, to find ideal solutions others can’t even begin to imagine, or are fearful and hesitant to entertain.

Breakaway Leaders, as I call them, know what others don’t-the impossible isn’t. And, while they are strategic innovators with a compelling vision, they are relentlessly pragmatic and know how to make their strategies an enduring reality.

I have spent the last fifteen years searching for and refining what I believe to be the essence of remarkable leaders. In presenting my findings to over 10,000 CEOs, executives, managers, and professionals around the globe, and asking for their candid feedback, I have received an astounding 99.9% confirmation that this one thing-amplitude-is it.

In future blog postings and books, I look forward to sharing with you how amplitude is the core competency of great leaders, so that you can learn how to harness yours effectively, and put yourself and your organization on the road to remarkable results.

In future postings I will reveal hundreds of insights about how world-changing leaders employ amplitude to accomplish breakthrough results, as well as practical applications. My objective is to enable every one of you to discover your inner strength, and use it maximally to prosper.

If we all work together it will help fulfill the mandate that our new President-Elect has set before us as a nation, and around the globe to make the world a better place.

Stay tuned to amp up.