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August 09, 2011

Book of the Week: "The Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations"


This week’s book of the week, “The Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations” gives readers a systematic look at how relationships determine the success of leaders and their enterprises, along with tools to help strengthen and change them. Brought to you by author Diana McLain Smith, current Chief Executive Partner of New Profit Inc., a national venture philanthropy firm, "The Elephant in the Room" uses in-depth observational studies and clinical research to explore how relationships at the top of organizations work, develop, and change. With the current state of the economy and government, we have witnessed that now, more than ever, we need successful leaders who can withstand pressure and conflict by efficiently working together. To purchase a copy of "The Elephant in the Room," click here. To read more about Diana McLain Smith, check out her personal website here.




"Grounded in years of research and consulting, Smith's frameworks are complex yet intuitive. Once you understand the basics of her lens and tools and work with them, they will grow into a fundamental element of your leadership practice. This is a big claim. But read on, and see for yourself."
—Peter Senge, from the Foreword

Since time immemorial, relationships have determined the fate of leaders. But today they are more critical to success than ever. No longer can leaders count on slow markets or sloppy competition to make up for the inefficiencies that poor relationships create. Leaders must make decisions and take action quickly and well with people who have little in common—perhaps not even a time zone. This new world puts relationships at the center of what leaders must understand and master in order to succeed.

The Elephant in the Room offers a compelling and systematic look at how relationships determine the success of leaders and their enterprises. Written by business-relationship expert Diana McLain Smith, The Elephant in the Room draws on the author's clinical research and a wealth of in-depth observational studies to explain how relationships at the top of organizations work, develop naturally over time, and with effort, can be transformed. By revealing the hidden patterns underlying relationships, Smith shows how some relationships systematically drive growth, learning, and innovation, while others just as systematically stifle it. Then, by outlining a time-tested method for assessing and strengthening relationships, Smith shows how to build relationships strong enough to accelerate and sustain growth, even under the most intense pressures.

Armed with these powerful tools, leaders will be able to discuss, strengthen, and even transform their most important relationships. No longer powerless to confront the elephant in the room, they will be able to harness relationships to drive growth, learning, and change.


Praise for The Elephant in the Room

"Smith brings to center stage the three R's of leadership: relationships, relationships, and relationships. One of the most brilliant and original books I've read, illuminating a theme almost universally ignored, and, ironically, the indispensable core of successful leadership."
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Management, University of Southern California; and author, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership

"If you're burned out on business books, this one will wake you up. Its non-intuitive insights are as refreshing as they are useful. You'll savor The Elephant in the Room from first sentence to last."
—Douglas Stone, lecturer on law, Harvard Law School; and coauthor, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

"Pick this up and you won't want to put it down. This fascinating book combines common sense, great stories, and practical advice about how to approach relationships in the workplace. While my job is to provide healthcare for two million people, all the interactions that matter are one-on-one."
—Nick W. Turkal, president and CEO, Aurora Health Care

"Leadership is a relationship. And it's the quality of your relationships that will ultimately determine your level of success. No one understands this better than Diana McLain Smith. Her new book, The Elephant in the Room, is extraordinary. It's one of the most insightful and discerning examinations of interpersonal relationships at work I've ever read. Buy it, read it, use it."
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge; and the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

"An exceptional book about how to navigate a terrain most leaders leave to intuition, and few know how to discuss. No leader, or aspiring leader, should operate without it because, at the end of the day, every organization's success is due to the people within it."
—Alan E. Lewis, chairman and CEO, Grand Circle Corporation

"Smith could help the proverbial three blind men not only correctly identify their elephant, but engage it, teach it to talk, and transform it into an organizational asset."
—Roger Schwarz, author, The Skilled Facilitator

August 02, 2011

Book of the Week: "Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit, Revised 3rd Edition"


This week’s book of the week, “Leading with Soul, An Uncommon Journey of Spirit, Revised 3rd Edition” is brought to you by acclaimed authors Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. This completely revised story of an executive and his quest for deeper meaning continues to point the way to a more fulfilling work experience, and finding one's personal path to leadership. Originally published in 1995, Leading with Soul brought readers a timeless and inspirational message that was as relevant then as the revised edition is to readers now. To purchase a copy of the revised edition, click here. To check out author Lee G. Bolman's personal website, with news and information, click here.




Since the first edition of Leading with Soul was published in 1995, its inspiring message has become even more urgent and timely in a world horrified by the events of 9/11, enraged by the hubris of business hotshots who triggered a world-wide economic crisis, and infuriated by limp, misguided responses to floods, oil spills, and nuclear catastrophes. Now more than ever we need courageous leaders with soul.

Leading with Soul invites world-weary managers on a journey in search of one's personal path to leadership and offers hope for reconnecting work and spirit. In this new and thoroughly revised edition of their classic work, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal update a timeless spiritual message in the light of the turmoil of recent years as well as adding new insights from the literature of spirituality and work. As the authors explain, "Soul is personal and unique, grounded in the depths of individual experience. Spirit is transcendent and all embracing. It is the universal source, the oneness of all things."

At the heart of the book is the compelling story of a dispirited executive on his quest to find something deeper than rational plans and a focus on the bottom line. His story points the way to more rewarding work and more vibrant and spirited organizations. Bolman and Deal use this engaging parable to show how we can develop a life and livelihood that center on meaning, purpose, joy, and a sense of contribution to the greater community. By embarking on a new path, we can transform our lives and livelihoods to become truly enriched and spiritually fulfilled.


Praise for Leading with Soul

"No two authors are better equipped than Bolman and Deal to address and answer the seminal dilemma of our time—the difference between making a living and making a life. They lead the way to discover how to lead a spirited life."
—Warren Bennis, distinguished professor of business administration, University of Southern California, and author of Still Surprised

"Wonderful lessons about leadership in a very personal story of a relationship between a teacher and a student. It is teaching and storytelling at its best."
—James A. Autry, author, Life and Work

"Bolman and Deal understand that organizations are filled with living, breathing, feeling human beings, people who need more than a paycheck, more than a performance review, more than a promotion. This is a deceptively powerful realization for any leader."
—Patrick Lencioni, author, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Five Temptations of a CEO: Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

July 27, 2011

Book of the Week: "Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, 2nd Edition"



This week's book of the week, "Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, 2nd Edition," is the completely re-vamped version of the classic book from best-selling authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. This first full revision of the book since its initial publication in 1993 features new case studies from around the world, fully updated data and research, and a streamlined format. Building on their research from The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner explore in Credibility why leadership is above all a relationship, with credibility as the cornerstone, and why leaders must "Say what you mean and mean what you say." To purchase a copy of the book, click here. To watch videos of the authors discussing their ideas on credibility, read in depth information about the new book, and learn more about The Leadership Challenge, view the Credibility website here. For up-to-date information on authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, follow them @KouzesPosner.


Credibility—and how you gain and lose it—is more important than ever.

As the world falls deeper into economic downturns and armed conflicts, as communities become more heatedly partisan, and as many workplaces show growing signs of disengagement, issues of credibility remain front and central.

In this thoroughly revised and updated edition of their bestselling book Credibility, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner explore why leadership is above all a relationship, with credibility as the cornerstone, and why leaders must "Say what you mean and mean what you say." Building on their more than thirty years of ongoing research, Credibility expands on their seminal work The Leadership Challenge, and shows why credibility remains the foundation of great leadership.

Throughout the book, Kouzes and Posner reveal how leaders can restore trust and confidence, and take the actions needed to strengthen credibility over time. Featuring in-depth interviews with international leaders from the business, government, education, and nonprofit sectors, this all-new edition contains personal stories and rich examples of the key actions and behaviors of credible leaders who get extraordinary things accomplished.

At the heart of the book is an exploration of the six key disciplines that strengthen a leader's capacity for developing and sustaining credibility: Discover Yourself; Appreciate Constituents; Affirm Shared Values; Develop Capacity; Serve a Purpose; and Sustain Hope. Addressing the needs of today's turbulent times, Kouzes and Posner also examine the tension that exists when leaders try to respond to constituents while remaining true to their values.

This personal, inspiring, and genuine guide offers an understanding of the fundamental importance of credibility and how to gain it in order to build personal and organizational success.


Praise for Credibility


Credibility is the most timely and important issue of our age. And with this book, based on a solid foundation of research plus their years of experience, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have thrown us a Hail Mary pass that can help to restore confidence and trust in our institutions. I am personally grateful to receive their pass. I bet that you will be too."
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California; author, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership

"My first suggestion on how to build your credibility: read this book and apply what you learn! Nothing is more important to a leader than credibility. Jim and Barry do a wonderful job of showing us all why it matters, how to earn it, and how to keep it! Another amazing contribution from the world's authorities on leadership!"
—Marshall Goldsmith, author, MOJO and What Got You Here Won't Get You There

"Credibility should be on the must-read list for all leaders and potential leaders, and should be a required text for all business majors. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner clearly outline the values and traits of credible leaders, and they both confirm and support the theory that we all want to work for 'credible' leaders. It is a fantastic read for all of us who aspire to be the leader that others want to follow."
—Ann Rhoades, author, Built on Values; president and founder, People Ink

"Over the past twenty-five years, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have built—no exaggeration—the most significant body of leadership work on the planet. Credibility is a masterpiece because it accomplishes the seemingly impossible: it boils the vast, often-complicated and confusing act of leadership down to its purest essence and then teaches us how to put it into practice in all aspects of our lives. Simply put, this book will not only inspire you to make a difference, it will help you do it."
—Steve Farber, author, The Radical Leap Re-Energized and Greater Than Yourself; president, Extreme Leadership, Inc.

"When I graduated from business school back in the early 1980s, I thought I had to be a 'superhuman' if I were to ever be a CEO some day. After two dozen years of being a CEO, I now know that it's not about being superhuman; it's instead about being a super human. If there's one leadership book that is the operating manual for how to be a super leader and a super human at the same time, it is Credibility. Loved every word of it!"
—Chip Conley, founder and executive chairman, Joie de Vivre; author, PEAK and Emotional Equations



June 30, 2011

The Price of Authenticity- From Author Sylvia Lafair

This guest post comes from author Sylvia Lafair. Read more about Sylvia on her websites and


The Price of Authenticity

Back in the day of movie moguls Samuel Goldwyn, head of MGM, was known to say “I don’t want any “yes-men” around me; I want everybody to tell the truth, even if it costs them their jobs”.

That was decades ago and yet, many organizations that consider themselves contemporary with “open door policies” still send out that same double-bind message; whether you agree or disagree, you lose!

This no-win mentality shuts down real and honest dialogue and innovation sits like a sad pup waiting to be noticed.

Let’s face it. We all learned to be careful early in our years. By the time we were three and said to Aunt Sarah “Your hair looks funny” and got that stern reprimand and request to apologize it became clear “better safe than sorry”.

Ever tell your best friend they needed to shed some pounds? The thank you is usually connected to a frozen smile and a nod of the head. How about the meeting you led and your favorite colleague told you  it was on the boring side? What kind of “thanks” did you give the messenger of that deadly statement?

There are fortunately four major ground rules for setting up an environment where truth can thrive and foster both personal positive growth as well as creative collaboration for the team.

  1. Treat truth telling as a precise art form.  Truth telling resembles a martial art in that it takes tremendous discipline; it’s not just a punch here or a jab there. Telling the truth is NOT spilling your guts! Nor is truth telling a popularity contest where you gather votes for your side. Truth sentences are not about that mysterious other, they contain a vast amount of “I” statements. After all it is YOUR truth you are telling. Not to worry; practice makes perfect.
  2. Make sure that work is not a rehab facility. You can offer to give others your suggestions, but then you need to back off. Often there is such a strong desire to help people grow and change that your truth-telling becomes overkill. Each of us can only take so many adjustments to our behavior before we need to either shut down or lash out.
  3. Listen for emotion and repetition. You can check to see if there is truth in the room by checking your own physical responses that monitor your emotions. If you feel your gut area tighten, pay attention; if your heart begins to race, pay attention; if you feel queasy, uneasy, or conflicted, pay attention. Continually ask yourself what real truth you are expressing and experiencing as a conversation develops.
  4. Be open to outcome, not attached to it. Being clear and decisive does not in any way keep you from changing your perspective and following a new direction. Being authentic is applauded more for being able to factor in new information and turn the wheel in a better direction at any given moment than staying with statements just because you made them. 

The deeper message about authenticity, the kind that is admired and modeled, considers the timing of truth statements. This is one of the most important aspects of leadership development and knowing when to speak out and when to stay quiet is authenticity in action.

June 23, 2011

Stand Up and Stand Out – From Author Josh Linkner

A recent employer asked job seekers the following riddle:

 "You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night. You pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus: 

     1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die. 
     2. An old friend who once saved your life. 
     3. The perfect man (or) woman you have been dreaming about. 

Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your two-seat car?"

...Take a minute to think before you continue reading...

You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect dream lover again. 

The candidate who was hired (out of 200+ applicants) demonstrated his creativity: "I would give the car keys to my old friend, and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would then stay behind and wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams." 


Now more than ever, we must stand out in order to win.  Accordingly, creativity has become the critical ingredient.  It is the difference-maker on challenges big and small; the deciding factor in landing the job, winning the client, and even getting the girl.

We all struggle through a series of decisions and dilemmas, the solutions of which become the measure of our success.  Sure, you can follow the herd and go with conventional wisdom but that's just a surefire path to mediocrity.

To seize the lion's share in both business and life, you must unleash your imagination.  Inventing the never-been-done-before will capture the hearts of your customers and team members, while the me-too players shrug their shoulders with frustration and despair.

Forgo the bland vanilla stew of the masses in order to savor a feast of originality.  Break free from the pressures to fit in, knowing that your dreams will only be reached by standing boldly for your own passionate and unique ideas.

Stop confirming and start creating.  It's time to stand up and stand out.


For more information on Josh Linkner and his ideas on creativity check out
Click here to purchase a copy of Disciplined Dreaming


June 13, 2011

Book of the Week: "Smart or Lucky?: How Technology Leaders Turn Chance Into Success"



This week's Book of the Week, "Smart or Lucky?: How Technology Leaders Turn Chance Into Success" is  extremely relevant and informative as it provides the key to becoming successful in today's technology era. Judith Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a strategy consulting and research firm focused on emerging computing technologies, has years of experience in the field and is sharing her advice in her new book. To purchase your own copy, click here. Check out Judith Hurwitz's guest post on our blog discussing her unique argument about luck in the business world, and her strategies to riding the technology wave. Read more from Judith Hurwitz on her acclaimed technology blog on her website


To be successful in any highly competitive market, you have to be smart, but you also have to be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. And you have to be smart enough to realize which you are.

Using her insider experiences with hundreds of successful and failed technology companies over three decades, two bubbles, and one burst, Judith Hurwitz shows how the most successful entrepreneurs understand the value of the combination of luck and smarts—and make it work for them. Those who fail are the ones who may be lucky but get complacent, believe they're the smartest players in the market, or fail to make the changes needed to sustain leadership.

Smart or Lucky? is for business leaders who are interested in learning what it takes to be successful in emerging markets and how to sustain success over the long term. It shows entrepreneurs how to recognize a lucky break and have the foresight to take advantage of it. Brimming with real-world lessons based on well-tested principles, this groundbreaking book explores why lightning doesn’t strike twice; how to supplant market leaders; how to walk away from legacy products; how to avoid lemming-like conformity; why promising technologies fail; how to gain, win, and retain customers; and how floundering companies can come back from  near-death experiences.

Informative and highly detailed, Smart or Lucky? is a key resource for all business leaders and emerging entrepreneurs who want to understand how to stay nimble and succeed in complicated, competitive markets.


Praise for Smart or Lucky?

Smart or Lucky? takes you on a fun ride through the information technology industry. Judith Hurwitz brings together a wealth of personal experience and historical fact in analyzing the successes and failures of tech companies. There are countless lessons to be taken away about corporate ignorance and corporate arrogance. ‘Luck’ or, in truth, rapidly changing market conditions, catches up with every company. The true strength of those companies that have survived and thrived has been a willingness to change and to allow the market, their customer, to guide them.”
- Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, Software & Systems, IBM

 “Judith Hurwitz is known for her talent at anticipating technology trends- and communicating their importance to business leaders. She’s done it again. This book has great insights on cloud computing and the massive shift underway that is profoundly changing everything.”
- Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO,; and author, Behind the Cloud

“Judith Hurwitz deftly dissects dozens of winners and losers in the constantly churning tech industry, and offers concrete advice for entrepreneurs wanting to achieve and sustain success.”
- Don Tapscott, author, Wikinomics and Macrowikinomics

 “Judith provides valuable lessons on building sustainable technology companies and reminds us that initial spectacular market opportunities and brilliant execution are just table stakes in long-lasting market ownership.”
- Ann Winblad, managing director, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners

Smart of Lucky? Is without a doubt a walk down memory lane with commentary that is concise and most of all insightful. It is hard to find someone who can write objectively about whether people are good or lucky in context with the most explosive era of information technology. This book clearly puts the reader in touch with consequences and events of those turbulent and dynamic years. I highly endorse Judith’s book as a must-read for anyone who wants to put sense into the mosaic of our industry.”
-Sam Greenblatt, Chief Technology Officer, Global Enterprices, Hewlett Packard Corporation


June 07, 2011

Book of the Week: "Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential



We are pleased to announce this week’s Book of the Week, Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential. Authors Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran analyze some of today’s top leaders in a variety of fields, and present the case that we are not choosing our leaders for the right reasons. The book argues that we are fooled by superficial qualities and false predictors of leadership success, and instead we need to focus on picking leaders based on the essential seven qualities the authors outline. Both Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran have experience in leadership, succession planning and executive coaching, and are currently co-founders of LIAG- Leadership and Innovation Advisory Group. Continue reading about the book below, and be sure to pick up your own copy of the book today. Check out pictures taken at the Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? release party. You can also read the authors respond to tough questions about leadership in our Author Series.


Almost 70% of Americans believe that we are suffering from a crisis of leadership, but rather than asking why leaders are failing, we need to ask, "Why aren't we choosing better leaders?"

Ever wonder what goes on behind closed boardroom doors when organizations pick their top leaders? It can be a contentious, secretive, even brutal process. Most leaders look good on paper—they have charisma, credentials, and confidence—yet they lack the real qualities that are necessary to succeed. In Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? leadership succession experts Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran share the same insights and ideas they use to help organizations make better choices.

Through dynamic, first-hand accounts from the business world, entertainment, sports, politics, education, and philanthropy, Cohn and Moran reveal the seven essential attributes of all great leaders and offer a powerful evaluation technique anyone can use to assess leader potential. Jerry Colangelo explains why he hired Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski to turn the 2008 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team into the "Redeem Team"; Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, describes how he built a new online industry; Peter Löscher, CEO of Siemens, details how he turned around an industrial giant; Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, discusses his transition from the operating room to the boardroom; John DeLucie, chef and entrepreneur, shows how he found his true passion at thirty; Ruben Fleischer, Hollywood director, explains his judgment on a movie set; Richard Clarke, former U.S. national coordinator for counter-terrorism, reveals how to lead in a crisis situation.

Fresh and compelling, Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? reveals how great leaders can be spotted and why they succeed—and is soon to be the definitive resource guide to choosing better leaders.


Praise for Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders?

"As chairman of a global company that has been in the family for 150 years, I make finding the kind of people who can build on our legacy one of my top priorities. Finding the best leaders is very tough. Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? explains why, and then offers key insight and nuance to help others meet the challenge. Any board member, human resource executive, or hiring manager who wants to solidify the company's leadership ranks should start right here."
—Facundo L. Bacardi, chairman, Bacardi Ltd.

"Inspiring, encouraging, and engaging, this book will help anyone who needs to make a truly important leadership decision. Hiring Mike Krzyzewski to lead our 2008 basketball team to the gold medal was the single most important decision I made as chairman of U.S.A. Basketball. I saw in Coach K all seven of the fundamental leadership attributes that Cohn and Moran vividly describe in this book."
—Jerry Colangelo, chairman, U.S.A. Basketball Board of Directors

"Brilliant. For the last 25 years I've been helping companies develop their rising stars into world-class leaders, and this is one of the most original and complete explanations I've seen for how to get that process started. Cohn and Moran skillfully showcase an assessment approach that is as entertaining as it is insightful. Busy executives don't want to take a test; they want an assessment process that is engaging, interesting, and most of all accurate."
—Bernie Jaworski, executive vice president, IMD

"Cohn and Moran have been assessing and selecting executives for decades, and this book codifies the seven leadership attributes they've found make the difference between failure and success. Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? is empirically sound, packed with clear and compelling stories, and full of immediately applicable advice on how you can improve the way you select leaders in your organization."
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge, and the Dean's Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

"This is a book that will stand the test of time! Too many people turn the topic of leadership into poorly defined concepts and theory. Cohn and Moran take a different tack by boiling leadership down to seven core attributes and explaining each one in a very direct, commonsense way."
—Joel Kurtzman, author, Common Purpose, and senior fellow, the Milken Institute

"Before you start your next selection process, read this book. And read it very, very carefully."
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge



May 26, 2011

Learning the Lessons of Luck and Smarts in the Tech Market - by Judith Hurwitz

This week's author guest post comes to you from Judith Hurwitz. You might very well be familiar with her fantastic technology blog, on her website As president and CEO of Hurwitz and Associates, Inc. (a strategy consulting and research firm focused on emerging computing technologies) she knows to be successful in any highly competitive market, you have to be smart, but you also have to be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. And you have to be smart enough to realize which you are. Enter Judith's new book, Smart or Lucky?, for business leaders who are interested in learning what it takes to be successful in emerging markets and how to sustain success over the long term. You can pick up the book here.


The technology market is one of the fastest paced businesses around.  Companies start with great expectations of success and expectations of great wealth.  What does it mean to be successful in this type of business? There has been a raging debate for years: is it better to be smart or lucky?  Most of the entrepreneurs I speak with are quick to state that they would rather be lucky.  In fact, luck has a lot to do with the ability of a start up to be successful.  At the same time, you can’t rely on luck alone. The most successful companies – no matter what industry you are in – has to execute with a combination of luck and smarts.  Here are three examples of when luck and when smarts play the key role in success.

• Luck matters most when success depends on the supporting infrastructure being ready. 

    There are many examples of companies that had great technology but were too early for the market. For example, there were social networks/collaboration software companies in the 1980s and 1990s that were just as inventive and compelling as Facebook and LinkedIn. Why did they fail? There is a simple explanation. For a social networking company to be successful there has to be a ubiquitous Internet so that individuals and groups can quickly interact. During the end of the 20th century the Internet was the bastion of scientists and researchers.  Companies that tried to provide collaboration environments had to convince companies to standardize on their own networking and connectivity software. This software was often cumbersome to implement and even more difficult to manage and use.  So, being at the right place at the right time often trumps smarts.

• Smart is most important after the initial luck. 

    Many companies that are at the right place at the right time fail because of arrogance, political infighting, and forgetting to anticipate competitors.  Once a technology company succeeds because it was at the right place at the right time, it tends to grow very quickly.  If it executes well in the early years it can become a huge force in the market.  When companies are successful they often lose sight of potential stumbling blocks. They create a mythology around their company about their value to customers and grow powerful. They begin to believe those myths and see themselves as invincible. When a new nimble competitor emerges with new technology and a different approach many of these companies ignore the warning signs. Smart companies, on the other hand, understand that they were, in fact, lucky. They also anticipate that customer needs will change and there will be challenges.  Staying at the right place is often more difficult than getting there in the first place.

• Lucky + smart is the only answer. 

    The successful companies are those that combine being lucky and smart. This accomplishment is much harder than it might seem.  As companies grow larger and more powerful it is inevitable that they lose their focus. Sometimes it takes a near death experience or a few very bad quarters before a company recognizes that it has lost its focus. Sometimes, a company will move into new markets that are too far afield from their core business.  Other times, the company forgets to pain attention to the needs and problems of existing customers.  In other situations, a company holds on to legacy products for too long even though they are draining resources from newer initiatives that will ensure future success.

From the outside looking in it is easy to assume that once you are lucky, the path forward to assured. Throughout the history of fast moving technology markets you need initial luck to allow you to be allowed to compete. You need to be smart to sustain that luck.