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3: The Sudden Cardiac Death Task Force: US-Soviet Collaboration

Lown, Bernard Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I don’t rule Russia. Ten thousand clerks rule Russia.

There is nothing harsher and more soulless than a bureaucratic machine.

IT WAS SEVERAL YEARS before I had another encounter with Soviet society and its mind-numbing bureaucracy. In August 1972 I received an unexpected telephone call from the US State Department. The message was crisp. “Moscow has requested your medical consultation. Patient unknown. Expect to hear from the Soviet Embassy.” A call from the embassy two hours later was similarly unrevealing. All they would confirm was that the patient was female. Neither age, medical problem, nor the gravity of her illness was communicated by Moscow.

Rather than an invitation, it was a command performance: “Fly to Washington. Bring three photographs for a visa not all the same, such as one at age 20, 30, and 40, one of which must be in color.” A Russian Embassy staff person would make flight arrangements. I was not eager to go just then, as my son was getting married that week. As a delaying tactic I requested more medical information, and it worked.

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Medium 9781609948337

16 Sidewalks of the Information Age

Rowe, Jonathan Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

My mother’s second husband grew up on a farm in Texas. He was not liberal. He railed about men who spent the winter on unemployment, and he thought criminals had it coming, the worse the better. Yet he also revered Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR).

Partly it was the farm programs that rescued many from the depths, but mainly it was public power. In Texas, as in most of the country, private utilities had bypassed rural areas because they weren’t worth serving, in the utilities’ view at least. Too much cost, not enough profit. Yet the utilities jealously guarded their monopolies and resisted efforts of legislators to serve those in need.

Finally, FDR pushed through the Rural Electrification Act. Cooperatively owned utility poles went up along dirt roads. Wires went from the utility poles to farmhouses. One momentous day, light bulbs went on in farm kitchens and refrigerators began to purr. It was like the Red Sea parting. My stepfather’s evocation of the taste of cold milk in the brutal Texas heat is something I will never forget. Texas was Democratic for as long as that memory survived.

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Medium 9781523097951

Skill One How to Diagnose and Correct People Problems: The Wedge

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Diagnosing and solving people problems begin by understanding the basic configuration of today’s organizations. Historically, the classic model for organizational structures has been the pyramid, where a small number of executives resided at the pinnacle, senior managers sat just below that, a slew of middle managers populated the midsection, and the widest, biggest, and lowest tier represented the employee base (Figure 1.1, left-hand side). It was top-down management, and the hierarchy represented the relative distribution of authority, decision-making, knowledge, and pay. The higher you were, the more you had, and the people below served the people above. The bulk of the employees resided in the lower half of the pyramid and had limited power, control, and access to information. Also, moving up the hierarchy in terms of advancement and internal communications was a steep climb. However, over time the assumption that workers are laborers who require close supervision and a “command and control” structure has become more obsolete.

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Medium 9781605099552

Chapter 17: Lessons from Resolute Leaders

Sugerman, Jeffrey Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

All leaders can learn a thing or two from the tough-minded ways of Resolute leaders. As we discussed in Chapter 2, the Resolute Dimension is located on the western side of the 8 Dimensions of Leadership Model, which means that Resolute leaders tend to be questioning and skeptical. In this chapter, we’ll give you a clearer picture of the Resolute Dimension of leadership in real life.

Resolute leaders want to get efficient results, to ensure high quality outcomes, and to challenge themselves and others to do their best. They are matter-of-fact leaders who ask tough questions. When ideas don’t seem solid, they push for more analysis. Resolute leaders tend to strike a balance between speed and quality, and both are quite important to them. They’re both driven and analytical, though they’re not quite as fast-paced as Commanding leaders nor as methodical as Deliberate leaders. Getting things right matters a great deal to Resolute leaders, and they may sometimes overlook the emotional aspects of leadership in their quest to accomplish their goals efficiently.

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Medium 9781609944940

7. Persist: Take the Surprise Out of Failure

Kaplan, Soren Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize
how close they were to success when they gave up.

—Thomas Edison

Chapter Seven Key Messages

1. You will fail.

2. External criticism comes from old assumptions.

3. Failure results from fear, not failure itself.

4. Reframing failures as stepping-stones keeps us going.

5. Optimism fuels action.

At many big companies, there’s a lot of room for lip service but little room for real failure. We hear the catchphrases over and over: “We need to embrace failure,” “Failure is necessary for success,” “We must fail faster to succeed sooner,” and so on. But as soon as the possibility of actual failure arises, suddenly all those comforting clichés go out the window. It’s one thing to promote punchy phrases; it’s another to live them.

Leapfrogging is about using failure as a tool to find success. Take Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President of Gatorade, for example. Having learned that many young football players pack bananas in their sport bags only to find them mashed between their cleats before practice, she asked her product development team to create a better alternative. The result: a pre-workout drink pouch containing a powerful carbohydrate punch. The ingredients weren’t the challenge; it was the container. “We knew drink bottles like the backs of our hands, but pouches were a completely new animal,” Sarah said.

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