Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious -- but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

Sep 16, 2005

Got Met Thinking, Part 3: See What I Mean?

A perfect example of resource-based problem solving!

A programmer from Italy reportedly stumbled across previously unknown ancient Roman ruins near his home when he was simply messing around with Google Earth.

posted at 07:51 PM by Chris Chew in Education, Leadership, Science, Technology | Comments (0)

Got Me Thinking Continued: Resource-based Problem Solvers

Continuing with my thoughts that sprung from Microsoft's Hiring Practices...

How many kinds of problem solvers are there?  Some that I have thought of are:

"Leave me alone, I can find it on my own" - The ultra self-motivated type of person

"Give me a few books (or an Internet connection) and I'll figure it out" - The resourceful type of person

"I'm going to look very cute until you tell me" - The sociologically-resourceful type of person.  Some ex-girlfriends come to mind here.

"I won't ever figure it out" - The non-problem solver.

...and I'm sure that technical names for these categories have been coined by people who do much more thinking about problem solving than I do.  Maybe we can even map them to this chart of the 16 personality types.  But the names do not concern me for now.

What does concern me, however, is how successful these types of people are going to be in different circumstances throughout life.

The Non-Problem-Solver will probably stay in their hometown and perform the same tasks that their most visible example (a parent?) performs. They will probably be happy, if only internally, and that is good.

The Sociologically-Resourceful type, my ex-girlfriends, will be successful so long as they can surround themselves with people who are eager to share (for whatever reason).

I expect only partial success for the Ultra-Self-Motivated type.  People simply cannot do everything on their own anymore.  In fact, we can do less and less all the time while things become more and more complex:  Who can repair their own car?  Can they do their own taxes?  Architect a financially-secure network?  Can they re-wire their house?  Can they raise their children?  Can they repair a levy?  Can they manage the task of rebuilding a disaster site?  Can they decorate their house?  Can they listen to your concerns without turning the conversation towards themselves?

As civilization progresses (or re-progresses if you talk to Graham Hancock), it becomes increasingly unreasonable to enjoy success as an introverted, self-reliant person.  Instead, success will come to people who can immediately convert anything into a resource -- books, people, web-pages, inanimate objects, or their own intellect -- and use any type of resource equally well.

This is what Twenty-Something's son B is doing when playing Legend of Zelda.  He is managing resources of various types to accomplish a daunting task:  beating the game.  The Legend of Zelda is an enormous and enormously impressive game; anybody who can complete it deserves some respect.

I played the original mid-1980's edition of The Legend of Zelda.  Even back then the game was huge.  At one point, I must have been 8 or 9 years old, I learned basic mapping skills because I could no longer keep track of the game's world and was forced to write it down in order to navigate directly to where I wanted to go.  In the 80's, there were no external resources for video gamers.  Today there are countless resources in the form of web-page walk-throughs, hints books and even older generations of video gamers.

Lots of employees with this skill of being able to use any type of resource to help accomplish any kind of goal is what progressive organizations need in order to progress.  These people are their most valuable assets.

From the stories that come back from interviewees, it seems that Microsoft understands the need to have resourceful employees.  Their hiring practices appear to be designed to determine what kind of problem solver a candidate is.  Based on the handful of people whom I know personally to have gone to work for Microsoft, they seem to be hiring the resourceful types.

I dislike Microsoft and loathe its success.  But I certainly cannot deny that it is a successful organization.

As an aside, I wouldn't be surprised if they saw the need for resourceful marketers before they saw the need for resourceful developers.  This might help explain its impressive sales numbers despite the terrible security and stability issues with Windows 95, 98 and Me, and Office 97-2003.

posted at 12:57 PM by Chris Chew in Education, Leadership, Technology | Comments (0)

Jul 21, 2005

Got Me Thinking...Microsoft's Interviewing Practices

I just wanted to give you a heads-up that I'm pregnant with a new post.  I'll briefly describe the idea here until it's ready for a full blog post...

ASP.NET bloggers have been arguing recently about Microsoft's interviewing practices.  In particular, they are wondering whether it is good that Microsoft asks preposterous questions simply to observe how an interviewee approaches problem solving.

TwentySomethingMom has been watching her 6 year old son read adult-level hint books while playing the Legend Of Zelda video game for hours upon hours.

(Correction:  He's 7 years old...)

And we can't forget our Level 5 rule to leadership:  Get the right people on the bus, decide where they should sit, and then decide which direction the bus is headed.

There are correlations here that should help identify what characteristics define "the right person".  I have a feeling that we'll discover that TwentySomethingMom's son B will be the right kind of person for any bus.

See you soon!

posted at 02:24 PM by Chris Chew in Education, Leadership, Technology | Comments (0)

Feb 18, 2005

Level-5 Mom

A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A LEVEL-5 MOM from TwentySomethingMom:

...I don't claim to be the world's best mom. I certainly make my share of mistakes. But I know a few things. I know that my job is the most important job in the whole, entire world. I am making men, lovers, husbands, fathers. I would not rather be doing anything else. (It would be super if I got paid for it, but...) I know my name is not mom. I am a person with dreams and interests. I believe that my kids have to see that. I think it makes them appreciate me more. I know that my job is not to bend over backwards to keep everyone appeased, but rather to teach them how to be men. It is, finally and most importantly, to love them more than I love air or sunlight or my freedom or my youth. If I successfully let them know that they are loved, and respected, they will grow up to love and respect. They will find love and respect...And so on. That's a cycle I'd like to see continue.

Read the whole thing here.

posted at 04:41 PM by Chris Chew in Leadership

First Post

DECIDING WHAT MY FIRST POST should be was difficult, so I decided to just trust where my mind went and see what I'd end up with.

In my days spent planning the first post my stream of consciousness continually flowed towards Slashdot, the biggest portal of news concerning technophiles. I come from a technology/web-application background and am a big supporter of Open Source software.  As such, I spend a few minutes everyday reading this site whose motto is “News For Nerds.  Stuff That Matters.”  Slashdot has an interesting culture within, built around the “first post.”  Taken from the /. faq's:

What's up with "First Post" comments?

"First Post" comments are one of those odd little memetic hiccups that come out of nowhere and run amok. Basically, people with altogether far too much spare time sit and reload Slashdot, hoping that they will get the "First Post" in a discussion. This is one of those things that the moderation system was designed to clean up, and for the most part, it works. "First Post" comments usually get moderated down as off-topic almost instantly.

Why should you care about first posts on slashdot?  Good question, and for the few weeks I have spent contemplating the first post I figured that you shouldn't -- that there was no substance in my mind's wanderings.

But recently, I have realized that there is actually something behind this.  “First-posters” are exactly what I am NOT blogging about.  A level 5 leader will never be the first-poster. And the more I think about it, neither will she be the last-poster, but always a middle-poster.

Thus, this blog will address leadership issues in families, business, education and politics.  More specifically, I am going to explore Leadership while trying to identify examples of Level 5 leadership as defined by Jim Collins in his book Good To Great.  We are going to look for the "middle-posters" everywhere, leaders that genuinely seek truth and progress in what they do.

Here's an assignment for the both of us:  Is it possible to identify a Level 5 post in the comments of a slashdot post/article?

posted at 04:05 PM by Chris Chew in Leadership