Have you been overlooking opportunity right in front of you?

Some advantages are created organically, while others are by design.

Organic solutions are created in the natural course of events – think cup to hold water, and answer the question: i need something that will …., what could do it?
Design solutions are by intent and strategic – think smart phones, bluetooth or apps for the mac, and answer the question, i want to create …., what will make that work?
Both organic and design solutions work as advantage making approaches. Organic solutions can be spotted but must wait for a situation to emerge. Design solutions can be found as well with a proactive opportunity spotting approach.
A Start-Up business may begin with a design solution and then while it is developed and developing organic solutions can be found by the team.
The critical point is spotting the opportunity whether it emerges or is by design.
Alexander Fleming was doing an experiment in his lab and when he returned from a short vacation he found
a mold formed on his petri dish ‘ruining’ his experiment. But instead of tossing it out, he shifted from this is a
problem to this is a solution to killing the bacteria.
Fleming said, “When i woke up just after dawn on September 28th, 1938, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer.” But that is what he did in discovering penicillin.
Would you have had the opportunity spotting mindset that Fleming had?
Are you tossing out a solution that could revolutionize your work or at least make a difference?

What advantages does your leadership really provide?

“If you are not creating advantages you will probably lose to someone who is”

The entire effort of your leadership ought to be targeted at creating advantages.
Advantage-Making Leaders create advantages that:
1)  encourage followers,
2) influence outcomes,
3) create forward movement, and 
4) increases opportunity
When your boss, colleagues and people who report to you think of you what is the first thing they think? 
In the back of their mind, do they feel you encourage people, influence perception so people say yes to your request, make things happen that otherwise couldn’t happen, spot opportunity and are ready willing and able to take advantage of situations?
Advantage-making leaders create victory in spite of their circumstances. 
Obstacles are not stopping points, but triggers for using your ability to create unexpected solutions. 
A Silicon Valley tech V.P. was working on an initiative that required cross functional commitment and engagement. He found that his peers refused to move forward whenever an obstacle arose. They just stopped, even as their stopping was making it more difficult to meet the deadline. And they didn’t call, they just kept finding more questions. Details, in this case, were not going to make a difference. 
When there are obstacles to you stop and wait, do you complain for more than a few minutes, do you ask more and more questions when the answers won’t really make a substantial difference, or do you, as this V.P. said, ‘Refuse to Lose’? 
He was not saying there is no failure, he was saying there is always something to learn and move forward, to at least take engage. 
Advantage-Makers are often thought of as high risk takers, but they are really doing their best to actively penetrate to the heart of problem and more importantly, to the heart of the solution, that often appears like a big risk to those who decide based upon probability rather than possibility. 
While some obstacles actually are mountains, most are just pebbles that someone has thrown at you when you know how to play the game of advantage-making.
What advantages does you leadership really provide?
I’d love to hear

Recovery is in the winners hands

The recovery required both structural and perception changes.

A number of structural changes have been designed and implemented.
And these forces will continue to  work in the midst of uncertainty
But what can you do?
This is tough but the question now for the economy, and your personal economy
is what energy do you associate with?

With the winners or the losers.
Winners resonate a can do mentality, they are proactive. They don’t deny reality but they don’t play to the naysayers.
Who do you want to do business with? The naysayers or the resilient who perceive the opportunity that others don’t see?
It’s time for each of us to influence the perception that we can do and will do.
Perception drives behavior and controversy gets headlines.
We are beyond predominantly structural problems.
I do believe we must keep the stimulus flowing.
Best remedy for you individually is find ways that are working for you.
Small, medium or large.
Don’t buy the naysayers
Shift the game. Your personal energy is what people first notice.
Shift the question with potential customers. Instead of what can you do for me, ask What can I do for you now?
I can attest to the reality that shifting your energy shifts the interactions fundamentally, and our ability to perceive opportunity

Lebron James – superstar or champion?

Lebron signs with the Miami Heat to win a championship, taking less money.

What stood out the most was his comment,
In this league, you become a superstar individually,
You become a champion as a team –
I know the history of the game.
Are you trying to be a superstar or a champion?


Happy Birthday America – The Great Shift

Happy Independence Day –

It’s 1776 and the colonists are pondering the concept.
What a brave group of people to shift from subjects to citizens as Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence.
America was born out of a fundamental shift from monarchy to democracy.
The Founders and their family, friends and colonial colleagues were all part of a great shift.
While not accepted without a war for our independence, the mothers and fathers of our Independence
moved us from disadvantage to advantage. They prepared a platform for all future movements toward
freedom of thought and action.
We thank them and all who contributed to and continue to support the fundamental shift.
The real fireworks was in the consciousness of the leaders who took a stand in the face of the forces against progress and humanity’s good will.
As we continue our journey, more and different shifts retain and expand our freedom of, by and for consciousness
This is real growth.
It’s 2010 and America is appreciating the great shift
Shifting is America’s birthright.

Accelerate your performance in these uncertain times

Each day the choice is ours. Advantage or Disadvantage.
Sometimes we are more fortunate and things go our way, as if the stars are aligned.
Other times we have to make it happen.
All you have to do to confirm this is watch the World Cup or Olympics
They prepare and are ready. But folks can get bad breaks not of their doing,
or good breaks that they capitalize on.
When you get bad breaks what do you do?
While complaining is normal, the important point is how quickly do you shift?
Are you prepared to shift?
You don’t have to know what the answer is to know that its time to shift.
The first step is to recognize it is time to shift. Too many people take too long on this step.
To accelerate your performance, to get better results now, shift sooner.
You can look for solutions by sorting through the five shifts that create Advantage.
Shift the Question, instead of accepting the Givens. This will construct options
Shift Time, instead of being stuck. This will overcome the boundaries.
Shift Interactions, instead of doing more of the same. This will change the game.
Shift Perceptions, instead of a loser mindset. This will influence outcomes.
Shift Structures, instead of being controlled. This will shape new behavior.
We sometimes don’t realize that if we are complaining we are not shifting fast enough to what will work.
Shift faster!


Obama’s State of the Union – Rate the President’s Shift IQ (SQ)

During President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU), I suggest you pay attention with a different lens. Evaluate his message through the vantage point of an Advantage-Maker. This is not a political partisan rating but an independent view of the state of his advantage-making. Rate President Obama’s Shift IQ.

Advantage-Makers are strategic shifters. They interact with the world differently. In the face of constraints they consistently create superior outcomes. Their task is to shift the odds in our favor. This capacity to strategically shift is the hallmark of Advantage-Makers and advantage-making. To deal with constraints advantage-makers have high Shift IQ’s (SQ).

This ability to shift is what amounts to a secret or hidden code of advantage-making, and is made from 5 dimensions. These dimensions are the levers to shift the odds in our favor.
Shift IQ (SQ)
As you listen to the Presidents speech, start with the constraints: the hand he was dealt with the Great Recession and the International crisis and Wars. Rate him along these five dimensions:
1) Shifting Questions – does he accept the givens or question the givens? Does he see what others don’t see? Shifting options provide us with options often overlooked rather than just following the known procedures. Does Obama illustrate what we tend to miss or overlook and suggest practical solutions? Does he frame the argument differently from the same old same old to make us feel once again, Yes We Can and Yes We Will?
2) Shifting Time – does he establish the right time frame for urgency and patience? Shifting time create possibilities where most people only repeat what they’ve done in the past. Does he make the case how past decisions have limited our options? Does he ask us for patience on ridding ourselves of the old systems that have failed us while he urges us to take specific action now to make a better today and tomorrow?  Does he show us how to make the most of the forces at play? There is no time like to present to create the future.
3) Shifting Interaction – does he change the game we are playing. Both over the past year and his interactions with the Republicans. Is he demonstrating his ability to rapidly adapt to the political and economic forces at play? Shifting interactions changes the game. Does Obama shift from an attempt at a bipartisan approach to one that demonstrates there is a new game in town that will make a difference in the midst of the worst recession America has ever experienced? Does some of what he suggests question convention, proposing a different game, that is neither right or left? Does he stand tall and demonstrate command presence in the face of his enemies?
4) Shifting Perception – Does he influence us that we are going in the right direction with the proper course corrections that are involved in any change effort? Shifting perception influences outcomes. Does he admit mistakes and learn from it and engage us to learn? How do we feel about ourselves, our futures in the presence of our chosen President after his first year in office? Does he inspire our behavior to achieve the agenda for America’s recovery?
5) Shifting Structure – Structure shapes behavior. Is the President establishing a winning game, is he positioning us to win? Have we fallen prey to a failing structure in Congress and what does the President have to say about it? Does he make the hard decision?  Has the President set the stage for a structural solution that will gain momentum and move us forward? Do you hear how we will advance rather than go back to old ways that haven’t and don’t work?
We need Advantage-Makers in the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives to shift the economic and political playing field. It is their job to get it right. We looked to them, with our input as a democracy to do the right thing.
Listen for the Shift IQ of our President in his State of the Union and rate
On a scale of 1—–10 how effective at shifting the question
On a scale of 1—–10 how effective at shifting time
On a scale of 1—–10 how effective at shifting interactions
On a scale of 1—–10 how effective at shifting perceptions
On a scale of 1—–10 how effective at shifting structures
Advantage-makers use the 5 strategic shifts as levers to achieve higher results. Difficulties become easier, complex things become simpler, things that seem too slow get done quicker, and we can enjoy the fruits of our labor – we have more fun doing it.
The state of Obama’s ability to shift America 
The State of the Union will be revealed. The state of Obama’s ability to shift America will also be on the line. In past blogs I have indicated that Obama is an Advantage-Maker. From my studies we can see that Advantage-makers are not perfect. They make mistakes, but they learn faster, use failure as feedback to course correct, make new connections, and get more out of the information and experiences they engage in. We want America and our President to succeed. We will be at a great disadvantage if he and we don’t create superior outcomes in the face of the constraints we face. Just as I believe we are stronger today than we were one year ago, it will take President Obama’s advantage-making skills and together we will make our nation better and stronger.

Obama and the Olympics: How Power, Persuasion and Structural Forces at Play really determined RIO’s Win

What are the daily influences on our lives?

The three main influences are a) people in power, b) persuasive communicators and c) structural forces at play. 

Let’s identify the three:
People in power is pretty clear – those in authority in both private and public arena. CEO’s and executives, President Obama and Congress, and non-profit leaders.
Persuasive communicators – can be the same as people in power but can also be those without any formal power at all. Persuasion is a great equalizer to power.
However, structural forces at play – the hidden drivers of behavior, like a riverbed shaping the direction of the river’s movement, can shift the outcome whether you are in power or are a master of persuasion.
Take for example, the recent Olympics decision, involving Chicago vs. Rio de Janeiro’s bid to hold the 2016 Olympic Games.
Rio won. Part of RIO’s presentation was to vividly and persuasively paint the picture that South America contrasted with other parts of the world because they were one of a few continents that hadn’t hosted an Olympics. The Rio presenters repeatedly pointed out on a map all the places that had hosted the Games and how South America was not represented at all. A compelling persuasive presentation. Rio had a persuasive message, and structural forces at play (most countries wanted the continent that hadn’t had the Olympic Games) in its favor. Neither country had any actual decision power.
President Obama went to Copenhagen to make the final appeal. His position, a strong economic bid and persuasive abilities could not overcome the structural forces at play – specifically, South America has never had an Olympics, 90% of the Olympic voters are from outside the U.S.A., and Africa has never had an Olympics either. The tendency for action within the International Olympic Committee was clearly leaning for the continent that hadn’t had an Olympics and RIO was perfectly situated, and I venture a guess that the African nations wanted to see a continent that hadn’t hosted the Olympics as well. Strategically they would be the natural next place and likely voted accordingly.
The Chicago bid had a strong economic package and venue, and persuasive abilities of the Chicago committee which included Oprah Winfrey and high profile Chicago executives. Unfortunately, this was not equal to the the structural forces that were against them – they were going upstream in effect, and they had no decision power – most of the voters were from outside the USA. They had one of the three influence factors on their side.
President Obama took a chance, the country leaders of the other four finalists appeared at the Olympic committee vote. He would have been blamed by the political opposition if he hadn’t gone, and we have the unprecedented demonstration by conservatives cheering when the USA lost the bid. They were actually rooting for America to lose! The neoconservative groups were shown cheering upon hearing that Chicago loss. The Olympics are a source of pride, and never before have we seen a political group actually root against America.
In terms of power, persuasion and structural forces at play I think the conservative strategy will backfire during the next election cycle. This will be a revealing and vivid image Democrats will use showing Republicans rooting against America. You just have to wonder what conservatives would have said if liberals had booed America in the same way.
Pay attention to the three daily influences and begin to arrange them to support your best efforts. If you have all three you increase your chances of success dramatically, but you can win with two of the three, as long as influence can align with the structural forces at play.
Let’s root for America and Congratulations to Rio!

Are you an influencer at work?

Susan Charles, an Advantage-Maker school principal, has a distinct way of responding to colleagues and peers who make recommendations to solve problems.  Her response is, “Convince Me.”
“That way”, she said, ” I know they have thought out the issue, found a way to make a case, and if it was well designed it was fine with me that they knew more than i did. And i decide to try their approach.”
She wasn’t trying to block the idea, rather she wanted a rigorous well thought out argument that she could agree with.
How better off would leaders and entrepreneurs be if they had open minds and said ‘convince me’ to their employees. Of course, if you are not convinced the presenter goes back to the drawing board.
Convincing is a real competency. One that can be improved. Your ability to convince others is critical to the perception that you are an A player, an influencer, someone who can influence at work.


Health Care Reform was Framed

What are the facts of the health care debate?

With all the coverage we should know by now. But most of what we know is government takeover, death panels, and bureaucrats rationing care. Of course, there has been the Democratic effort to refute this as falsifying the facts. And reality, in my opinion, is that the facts have been falsified.
But reality, and the facts, are not what is driving the debate.
Perception is.

Whatever your political persuasion, it is persuasion and how the facts are framed that is determining voters perception. The efforts of both sides are to frame the issue. Our purpose is to look at how frames determine decisions.
Imagine for a moment an actual frame around a picture. Not any frame but an ornate expensive frame. That picture will seem more significant and of more value.
Now imagine the picture sitting in the Museum of Modern Art. This picture is now important indeed, and deserves commentary and  appreciation. If however, we took that picture and placed it on a street vendors table as if it were a poster or copy, it would now have been ‘framed’ to seem cheaper and certainly less expensive. The frame determines how we perceive the facts.
Some frames are physical, but most of what we will deal with are mental constructs. Let’s consider how different frames might play out.
The Democratic argument may be valid, that costs will be doubling in a few years, that people are already being denied service and that rationing is occurring etc. However, Death panels for grandma, in contrast, is certainly more vivid (even if not true). Nevertheless, research shows that vivid arguments win more often over valid arguments. And certainly, the Republicans have mobilized their troops better for now around their framing of the argument. We are beginning to see a shift as President Obama frames the argument more powerfully and vividly. Whoever wins the framing war wins the perception game.
It may be sad that democracy and progress may be determined by bungling frames rather than the truth and what is good for the people. Dissent is part of our American tradition and it is good for us to argue Healthcare reform in the marketplace of ideas.
The Democrats could have framed the issue as America’s Competitive Health plan. Another frame they can still use is the Patient-Doctor Choice Plan, or better still, The Patient Care program. We can shorten these to be Competition, Choice or Patient Care program.  Any of these are far better than the public option or even single payer. It would be hard to argue against The Competition Plan. It’s American to value competition. Moderates couldn’t be accused of socialism. This could combat the  socialism claim of every argument by Republicans. Who would be against driving down costs with America’s Competitive Health Plan.
Or consider the Patient Care program vs. The Insurance Industry Profiting program.
Every decision is for the patient rather than by an industry bureaucrat and their profit.
This really is a framing battle going on. You be the judge.
Examining the facts of the cost of healthcare through the frame of Patient Care will influence how you interpret the facts. Money for patients or money for industry profits. The same is true for, ‘the Government is bad frame’ that Republicans use to run all their information through. As Americans we have a cultural disposition to not trust the government, this sentiment goes back to the American Revolution. So that frame works. These aren’t complex frames. They are quick to understand, which makes these frames even more powerful.
From a framing and influence strategy, we must always endeavor to portray the truth, while understanding the mindsets of the people we are speaking with. What I have stated, in Advantage-Makers is to ‘Make your valid argument vivid.’Your frames should be easy to understand, simple to think about, and fast to grasp.
The most vivid frame most often wins the argument. A powerful frame inoculates you against the other sides argument. For instance, Doctor-Patient Choice vs. Private Insurance Company determines your medical care. As Americans we prefer choice. When the private insurance company program is being pushed, you can simply say I prefer my physician and I choosing what’s right for me rather than the insurance company deciding. This is a pre-inoculation to equip your side for the counter argument that is coming.  On an issue as contentious and important as the healthcare debate, framing is pivotal. In the midst of the noise and falsehoods, the facts are viewed through the lens of the frame  you have established.
For your own business, professional or political efforts, before you argue a point, establish a frame within which you then offer the facts. As long as facts are not being falsified, this is a powerful and ethical way of increasing the likelihood of people saying yes to your presentation. (in a later blog we will discuss the degrees of latitude you have before you start alienating your listeners)
While I endeavor to see reality as it truly is, and to portray the facts accurately, whoever wins the framing battle will win the argument.