Leadership thinking and ‘riches of the mind’

Sir Robert Menzies, 12th Prime Minister of Australia on leadership thinking:

“A man may be a tough, concentrated, successful money-maker and never contribute to his country anything more than a horrible example.

A manager may be tough and practical, squeezing out, while the going is good, the last ounce of profit and dividend, and may leave behind him an exhausted industry and a legacy of industrial hatred.

A tough manager may never look outside his own factory walls or be conscious of his partnership in a wider world.

I often wonder what strange cud such men sit chewing when their working days are over, and the accumulating riches of the mind have eluded them.”





At the time, The General Electric Company was the #1 brand in the US making everything from locomotives to light bulbs. The 100-year-old global business enterprise was undergoing a cultural transformation under the leadership of the new Chairman, Jack Welch.

His vision was to change the culture of GE from a traditional industrial, top-down hierarchical company to a modern “boundaryless”, communications and market-aware company.

At Jack’s request Michael worked as his personal advisor for several years installing and training GE executives in the use of his cvs2bvs brain software across the GE enterprise. Combining multi-media presentations, live masterclasses and consulting Michael played a key role in one of the most successful corporate transformations ever undertaken in the US.

- JACK WELCH, Chairman and CEO of GE
Michael, you are a friend of our company. I wish I had a management team that really understood your CVS2BVS equation. It’s the value-added role in the management process.


The Victorian Government, through the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and LaTrobe University is investing AUD$230 million to build a world-class centre for agricultural biosciences research and development. The Biosciences Research Centre (BRC) will accommodate up to 400 staff, including scientists and support staff, from DPI and La Trobe and will join La Trobe’s existing biosciences staff and activities in plant and animal genomics, plant pathology, animal health and agricultural sustainability.

For 5 years, Michael has been consulting to the Biosciences Research Division providing advice and training for scientists and supporting staff to enhance the innovation resources at BRD.

For 2009/2010 he has been asked to design and conduct a 12-month Leadership Project to assist in raising the level of leadership resources across this unique science R&D enterprise.

- Professor German Spangenberg, Executive Director, Biosciences Research Division, Department of Primary Industries
Many thanks to you, Michael, for your wisdom and independence of thinking.


Aussie Bodies (now a division of Vitaco) is a leading Australian sports nutrition company specializing in the development of innovative and high energy protein products and drinks for sportspeople and the health foods market.

For 15 years Michael has advised senior management on strategy both for business structuring and development. The company has used Michael’s strategic thinking and newsell ideas to design and grow their commercial business to sales leadership positions in Australia and New Zealand.

- Maria Deveson-Crabbe, CEO and Founder
We have grown our business tenfold using your ideas and training. I can’t imagine doing business any other way than newsell and cvs2bvs is a natural part of our daily business thinking. Michael, your support and advice has been invaluable to me and my team.





Why do business leaders lose sleep?

When I’m consulting to business leaders this is the first question I ask my clients:

Why did you lose sleep last night?

Here are the top ten problems that, over the past 12 months, business leaders are saying they lose sleep over …

– “the constant pressure to meet and beat my quarterly targets”

– “how to balance my work pressures with the needs of my family and my health?”

– “how can I recruit smarter, more productive people?”

– “I’m losing good people. How can I keep them from leaving?”

– “I need to develop a lot more leaders in our enterprise”

– “to better manage a much more competitive culture”

– “we need to find a more effective communications strategy”

– “our metrics are not up to scratch. How to better analyse sales and KPIs”

– “I worry about whether our security is OK”

– “how to ensure the survival and succession of my business”.

What is interesting about all of these problems is that they are not new. There are already solutions readily available. Every one of these sleep-losers has already been solved many times by many managers all around the world. But most people are stuck in their current brain patterns and their thinking goes round and round and round.

Thinking Skill
This is where the need for thinking skills comes in. So let me ask a question: what is the #1 most productive thing that any manager in any enterprise can do?

The most productive thing that any manager in any enterprise can do is to ensure that all their employees, all their knowledge-workers, are skilled thinkers about better ways to do their job. Those managers and staff that are not skilled thinkers are just like automatons marking time, missing opportunities for growth and maybe even losing sleep.

There are many ways to develop thinking skills. One very useful thinking skill I have devised is called ‘X10 thinking’. For more than 25 years I have been advising business leaders and their employees on how to use X10 thinking. I have assisted a wide range of enterprises from 70,000 New York City hospital employees to US corporations like GE.

What is X10 Thinking?
X10 thinking is the habit of multiplying things by 10!

X10 thinking is new brain software that goes for adding value to business decisions. It can be used by anyone, anywhere and at anytime in science, in business and in life. X10 thinking allows you to escape entrenched thinking patterns.

X10 thinking can be used to accelerate the rate of growth of the business and can be used by thought-leaders and innovators in any industry. X10 thinking can be used to get a lead and advantage over competitors and to get a much better return on investment.

X10 thinking becomes part of the corporate culture so everyone, every day looks for ways to use the number 10 and to find things that they can X10 in their own job and their own workspace. The important thing is that X10 thinking becomes a habit from the leadership of the enterprise down through the managers, supervisors and staff.

For example, here are typical ways I can use the number 10:
1. I can give ten times more gifts to clients this week than last week
2. I can send ten times more postcards to new clients this month than I did last month
3. I can call someone who would like to hear from me in ten minutes time.
4. I can consult ten colleagues for their opinion on a matter of importance to me.
5. I can search for ten Web sites that I have never visited.
6. I can invite ten people over for a discussion on a matter of importance to all concerned.
7. I can practise a new skill 10 times a day for the next ten days.
8. I can go for a brisk walk in the Gardens at 10am.
9. I can cut costs by 10%.
10. I can spend ten minutes learning a new interview technique.

GE X10
In business, Jack Welch of General Electric was the most famous advocate of X10 thinking in the US. He used X10 thinking at GE to help him change the culture of a 100-year-old manufacturer to the most valuable company (at the time he left it) in the history of the world!

I was invited to GE soon after he became chairman and CEO. In the 1980s I spent several years, at his request, installing the X10 thinking brain software at GE. He wrote to me saying, “I would love to have a management team that really understood the X10 equation. It’s the ‘value-added’ role in the management process”.

In his book about his time at GE called, Jack (Warner Books 2001), he wrote, “(X10 thinking) would make each of us wake up with the goal of “Finding a Better Way Every Day”. It was a phrase that became a slogan, put up on the walls of GE factories and offices around the world”.

Jack also used X10 thinking in crisis management situations and on one very serious occasion involving a crisis between GE and Reagan’s Defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, Jack asked me to meet with him privately, in Manhattan, to apply X10 thinking to finding a solution.

He also told me that X10 thinking helped him design new concepts like ‘Boundarylessness’ and ‘Work-Out’. He wrote, “Suddenly, “Finding a Better Way Every Day” wasn’t just a slogan. It was the essence of boundaryless behaviour, and it defined our expectations”. Jack was famous for the little hand-written notes he would send to people. He sent me several and the one I prized the most was, “Michael, you are a friend of our company”.

The Power of X10 Thinking
GE employees used X10 thinking to solve all the sleep-loser problems that worry business people every day:

– reduce costs of materials
– reduce downtime
– reduce labour costs
– reduce regulatory penalties
– reduce product liability costs
– eliminate manufacturing waste.

Other clients have used X10 thinking to:

– increase sales
– increase prices
– expand market share
– grow wallet share
– enter new markets
– enter new market segments
– enter new geographies
– earn new customers
– contain controllable customer attrition
– enable new products.

from my ipad …

I’m now running the School of Thinking from my iPad.

We will be designing a series of  SOT applications especially for iPad utility. They will be young, fast and scientific.

I got my first Mac in January 1984. My friend, Peter Bensinger, and I literally ran to the store to get one each on the day they came on sale. I’ve continually used many Macs since then and have designed the online SOT on these Macs since 1995. Most SOT lessons were written and sent to SOT members from my Macs. There’s no doubt in my mind that without these unique, marvelous and elegantly designed tools that SOT would not be what it is today.

As you can imagine, I was delighted to be blind-copied on this email from Steve Jobs to his team with news of Apple’s historic milestone:

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Steve Jobs <sjobs@apple.com>
Date: 27 May 2010 10:44:33 AM AEST
To: Apple <apple_employees@group.apple.com>
Subject: Today


As most of you already know, at the close of today’s stock market, Apple’s market cap (stock price x number of shares) surpassed Microsoft’s market cap.

As I once said in a company email sent a long time ago: “Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today.”

And so it is again.

Walt Disney used to say to his team: “We’re only as good as our next picture.” Well, we’re only as good as our next amazing new product.  Back to work…


—— End of Forwarded Message

Trends, shocks and scenarios

This report describes the outcomes from a CSIRO global foresight project.  CSIRO is one of Australia’s leading scientific research organisations.

It presents five megatrends and eight megashocks (global risks) that will redefine how the world’s people live.

Fast facts

  • Megatrends and megashocks will change the way people live in the future, and the science and technology they demand
  • CSIRO is taking a fresh approach to understanding the future by using new data, methods, technology and ideas
  • CSIRO welcomes comment and input from experts and stakeholders to this work in progress.


— Click through for more here …

Does PowerPoint make us stupid?

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

WASHINGTON – Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.

The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.)

Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.

— Click through to the original article …

Rare video of Viktor Frankl …

In this rare clip from 1972, legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl delivers a powerful message about the human search for meaning — and the most important gift we can give others.

His concept of ‘crabbing’ is similar to one of the applications of X10 thinking used by SOT members.

About Viktor E Frankl

Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl pioneered an approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the human search for meaning.

Are leaders really leaders of change?

Google searches for the keyword “downturn” have quintupled since 2009.

This is no surprise. In business, the uncertainty of global finances has led to a world of tight budgets.

Two of the biggest costs, the biggest budget chunks, are always: payroll + marketing.

So, two of the biggest returns need to be:
1. return on payroll, and
2. return on marketing.

To survive harsh economic conditions and grow their business, senior management will be focusing on payroll optimisation and marketing optimisation.

In my own consulting I am focusing my attention on helping my clients with tight budgets to become leaders of change:
1. to create more profit out of their monthly payroll expense, and
2. to harvest more sales revenues from their marketing investment.

My mentor, Professor George Gallup, was acknowledged worldwide as one of the greatest leaders of change. George was also a wonderful American gentleman and a very nice man. He was 84 when he died at his place in Switzerland in 1984.

He was the inventor of the Gallup Poll at Princeton and the designer of market research. He was the first to map the Human Meme Pool.

Click here to visit the Gallup World Poll.

In the early sixties George wrote about his disappointing experience with many leaders and their poor ability to manage change. Most leaders have a strong disincentive to change due to their significant investment in the status quo. Often, it’s just not intelligent behaviour for leaders to champion change, regardless of how much rhetoric is squandered on the topic.

He observed that genuine change is more likely to come from the bottom-up than to be led from the top-down. Even a brief glance at history supports George’s observations.

George Gallup’s great personal wisdom was supported by his long experience of measuring, in scientific detail, the opinions of more people around the world than anyone else in history. In The Miracle Ahead he wrote that:

Change cannot be brought about easily by leaders, except in those situations in which the changes advocated do not disturb present relationships. In fact, it is the leaders who typically become the most bitter and the most effective foes of change. The public, therefore, must take the initiative and assume responsibility for progress in the affairs of man. The public must force change upon its leaders (who) command more respect today than perhaps they deserve… The leader is expert in his small world as it presently exists, not expert in the world as it might be. Although he plays an important role in modern society, it is not realistic to expect him to advocate change. This is the surest way for him to lose his status … The hope of the future rests with the citizen. To be effective, he must be well informed, and he must discover ways of making better use of his own great capacities and those of his fellow man. He cannot expect his leaders to give him much help in his upward march.

Tenpower: the deliberate use of the powers of ten

Since the early seventies I have been working with people around the world to help them grow their own business or career much faster. That is, presumably, much faster than it would have grown without my help. Where I have been able to help it’s been to get management to embrace change by focusing on their company’s cognitive assets. To get them to change their own habits of thinking and to harness the vast untapped potential of the brainpower of their enterprise. And, to try to get them to escape from the status quo and use the X10 cognitive provocation: “whatever your business is now, multiply it by ten”.

In theory, X10 is simple enough to do because you just add a zero. But, I have to report my own disappointment in the willingness of many business leaders to seriously test X10 as a way of managing change.

In practise, it has been much more difficult to get business leaders to try it out because, to many minds, it has seemed so preposterous or just too simplistic. Although a minority of senior managers have done exceedingly well with X10, the majority have had difficulty getting their head around the X10 idea.

Instead of testing X10, some instantly dismiss it as a simplistic, Pollyannish, positive thinking gimmick. In most cases, however, they are simply trapped in the old-fashioned pyramid structure where the bosses at the top of the pyramid do all the thinking and the bottom-dwellers just do what they’re told. These leaders remain oblivious to the immense X10 opportunity that is, in fact, the bottom of the iceberg of their intellectual capital.

Meanwhile, as the hi-growth companies are leaping ahead by utilising all their human assets to take care of business, many of these old-fashioned business leaders stay trapped on a steamship to nowhere. They cannot change and so their customers, their employees and their shareholders are sadly being left behind.

Because business is about survival it must, by definition, be about change. Furthermore, because business is also about growth it must be about continuous change.

It’s not so much about protecting the past as it is about designing the future. This is why logical thinking, by itself, is so inadequate for business strategy. We have to provoke ourselves to escape from the logic of the past. The gravity of traditional thinking can be so strong, especially within the cloisters of the executive suite, that a very powerful escape mechanism is required.

X10 is such a mechanism. Like the huge twin boosters on the space shuttle that power it out of the earth’s grip, X10 provides corporate strategy with the powerful provocation it needs to escape its rigid past patterns of thinking and of growth.

The X10 or ‘multiply by ten’ strategy is not simplistic nor mere positive thinking but is a serious strategy for provoking continuous change and has a scientific base. It’s simplicity of design is memetically important for its effectiveness. It enables you to use X10 as your corporate mission statement. As a meme that sits in the brain, X10 can be easily replicated from brain to brain throughout the enterprise.

The ‘powers of ten’ strategy is provocative, incredible and difficult for people to accept … at first! This cognitive dissonance is intentional. For those that persist, the dissonance disappears and they change the way they think. They come to use the Tenpower strategy as a natural part of their daily thinking. Soon it becomes reasonable, believable and easy to use. At which point they have an unfair advantage over their competitors who have not internalised the strategy.

— TIP: Take a few minutes for this special trip into Powers of Ten.

DFQ TD10 (Feedback Question):

How can you multiply YOUR business or career by ten?

Creativity: Most Crucial Factor for Future Success

IBM 2010 Global CEO Study:

Creativity chosen as Most Crucial Factor for Future Success

According to a new IBM survey of more than 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 nations and 33 industries, chief executives support that — more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision — successfully controlling a growing complex world will ask for creativity.

CEOs believe that their enterprises are adequately ready to manage a highly volatile, increasingly complicated business environment. CEOs are confronted with large number of shifts – new government rules, changes in global economic power centers, accelerated industry transformation, rapidly evolving customer preferences – that, according to the researches, can be overcome by instilling “creativity” throughout the company.

More than 60 percent of CEOs believe industry transformation is the top factor putting affords to uncertainty, and the finding indicates a need to explore innovative methods of managing an organization’s finances, structure, and strategy.

The researches also uncover starkly strategic priorities and concerns among CEOs in Asia, Japan, Europe or North America.

Frank Kern, senior vice president said: “Coming out of the worst economic downturn in our professional lifetimes — and facing a new normal that is distinctly different — it is remarkable that CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency of the successful enterprise of the future”.