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Paying Attention
Compounded Errors
Leadership Integrity Survey
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Twitter Highlights
I send 15-20 tweets per week with links to useful links and research. Here are a few of my latest, including links:

More on the sad case of Jonah Lehrer's ("Imagine") integrity gap
Check out the Leadership Integrity Survey
Contact me directly for free pass code.

A review of basics, including the importance of "sensemaking" for leaders: Elements of Good Leadership
The toll that complainers and whiners can take at work -

'Basically agree; see my comment: "How Nothing New Can Be the Right Strategy

More palace intrigue and speculation about Best Buy via @BW

Let's hope colleges don't replace their "steak" with "sizzle" - Marketing: Big Brand on Campus -
via @WSJ

How to change minds and attitudes, and the power of stories: "How To Move A Mind" -
via @NYTimes

A quote from Foxcomm's chairman: "As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache."

How advanced robots are changing global manufacturing - Skilled Work Without the Worker:

The Logo Mishaps of Giant Brands via @entmagazine Logos should clearly convey who you are; does yours?

Excellent advice about authentic leadership from Steelcase CEO Leadership Never Looks Prepackaged -

Why posts may not be as positive as they appear to be: Are We All Braggarts Now? - @WSJ

When The Boss Is A Screamer - via @WSJ A review of basics, but easier said than done when emotionally engaged.

Vote in the Corporate Accountability International Hall of Shame

Causes of the manufacturing skills gap and machinist shortage via @startribune

A way around truth-telling and accountability - The Pivot: The Move of the Momen

Sound advice on authentic leadership here: "What Makes A Leader Authentic?"
See my comment.

Example of technology revolutionalizing human resources and search worlds: LinkedIn's recruitment service via

Do Hospital Chains Improve the Medical Industry?  
via @NewYorker A glimpse into healthcarre's future

Here's why "shareholder value" shouldn't be our only value
via @TIMEBusiness

Recommend: How To Improve Trust In Financial Services (John Taft video)
via @MSNBC and his book:

2 interesting articles on self-deception
via @StarTribune and

Integrity breach scuttles best-selling "Imagine" - Lehrer Admits Fabricating Dylan Quotes for Book - 
 via @WSJ

For-profit colleges blasted for dropouts | And see "The Company We Keep" -

Charles Murray: Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem - via @WSJ 

4 sound solutions for "shortermitis" - The Profit Addiction" by Mark Sheffert

Rich insights here from a colleague: Change & Leadership United: Insights from Neuroscience Applied to Effectiveness -

5 accountability pitfalls that kill companies via @CBSNews

The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? via

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." (Friedrich Nietzsche) More Great Quotes at

8 signs your career mgiht be in trouble
via @CBSNews See my comment.
If you missed it, below is a copy of my last blog: Paying Attention To What Matters. Since some may not have seen July''s article, Compounded Errors, its introduction follows; you can access the entire article by clicking the link at the end. Check out the Leadership Integrity Survey" at the bottom of this newsletter and how to receive the free access code.
Paying Attention To What Matters
Port Tack Outer Island

We were on a nice port tack, but Raspberry Island was coming up fast; we needed to come about. I coached my nephews - one at the wheel and one at the winches - how to execute the maneuver, so soon we were "hard-a-lee," turning through the wind to begin our starboard tack. There was only one problem: a giant cabin cruiser was bearing down fast, on a collision course. Rules of the road dictated that we had the right of way and should hold our new course; fortunately the cruiser's skipper was paying attention and quickly altered direction; all we had to contend with was a pretty decent wake. 


Reflecting on what had just happened, or could have happened, I thought about the "Accountability" chapter in my book Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best. A large part of accountability is "paying attention to what matters." In some cases that means just that - we are accountable when we pay attention to circumstances and factors that impact our ability to execute a strategy or reach our goals. I was not as accountable as I should have been by failing to notice that tacking just then would put us on a collision course with the cruiser. I was distracted while explaining the mechanics of coming about. (See "Distractions.")


That got me to thinking about how organizations and their leaders can also be blind to hazardous developments. For organizations, the "cabin cruiser " could be a surprise move by a competitor, game-changing technology or a non-traditional competitor that "comes out of left field." Kodak was caught flat-footed when digital technology overtook traditional photography; not paying sufficient attention to e-publishing and Amazon contributed to the demise of traditional publishing and book stores; traditional retailers that mainly competed with other traditional retailers are all still scrambling to compete against internet sales channels. Leaders who focus only on their immediate areas or on operational details can likewise be blind-sided (See  "Watch Your Blind Side") by adverse power shifts or surprise external developments. Like our tacking maneuver, we are vulnerable when focused only on day-to-day execution and blind to developments outside our standard field of vision.


Accountability also means paying attention to the measures that matter, as we discovered earlier in our sailing trip. LOON is equipped with a wind gauge that reports wind speed and direction. One way of maintaining  speed is slightly altering course to keep sails in their "sweet spot" or best angle to the wind. As one nephew soon discovered, however, focusing too much on the wind gauge can also detract from seeing the bigger picture and take us off course. The "good news" is that we were going fast; the "bad news" is that it was in the wrong direction!  


Organizations and leaders too can get off course by focusing on only one measure. Of course organizations must be cost efficient and profitable, but if those are the only measures that they really pay attention to, and especially if the focus is short-term profitability, they are likely to end up on the rocks. In my work and writing I talk about "triple-E" leaders and organizations - those that realize sustainability requires attention not only to effectiveness (including efficiency and profitability,) but also ethics and employee engagement. There is usually no shortage of measures for organizational efficiency and profitability, but almost always deficiencies paying sufficient attention to ethics and engagement.


Here are some suggestions for improving accountability by measuring and paying attention to what matters:

  • Commit to measuring engagement and ethics in addition to efficiency and profitability. Pay attention to trouble signs or declining indicators in equal measure for all dimensions.
  • Make sure that everyone knows what your key measures are, and make results visible.
  • Pay attention to "leading indicators" as well as "lagging indicators." Summary measures of customer satisfaction, for example, are lagging indicators. Measures of what contributes to customer satisfaction (call response time, for example,) are leading indicators.
  • Engage others determining what useful measures should be, and determining responses to measures that are unsatisfactory.
  • Focus on a few key measures at a time, and eliminate measures that just consume time and add little value.
  • Establish mechanisms and disciplines for improving awareness of potentially game-changing developments. Examples include deliberate scanning of seemingly far-removed technologies or competition, recruiting team members with new or different perspectives (and listening to them,) and "blue-sky" strategy sessions.
  • Every once in a while, step back and make sure that you're still "seeing the forest for the trees" and basically on course. Operational indicators may all look healthy, but are you still making progress toward your big goals and fulfilling your mission?

Our sailing trip ended well. We reached our destination and returned safely, we became more proficient sailors, and we all learned something about accountability.


Preque anchorage



In your life and work, are you paying attention to what matters? What are your indicators or measures to know if you're on course?


Is your organization measuring and paying attention to what matters? What actions should it take, or measures should it adopt, that would help assure it is on course and not likely to be surprised?

Many of the things you can count, don't count.  Many of the things you can't count, really count.

Albert Einstein


No man can tell if he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger.  It is the heart that makes a man rich.  He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.

Henry Ward Beecher


Some favorite expressions of small children: "It's not my fault. . . They made me do it. . . I forgot."  Some favorite expressions of adults: "It's not my job. . . No one told me. . . It couldn't be helped."  True freedom begins and ends with personal accountability.

Dan Zadra

Compounded Errors

Once again this season, our sloop LOON is serving up life and leadership lessons, and in unexpected ways. The first this year began when a charterer reported a small fresh water leak at the base of LOON's toilet - by itself not serious as long as the head's seacocks were closed, one of which draws in Lake Superior water for flushing. The charterer assured me that he had closed the seacocks, so I put the small leak on a list of items to attend to the next weekend. After asking a friend at LOON's dock to check on her, he called to inform me that she was taking on water - at that point several inches over the cabin floor. As it turns out the head seacocks were open, which had allowed lake water to seep in over several days. Compounding the problem, LOON's electric bilge pump never kicked in; the float switch for triggering it had apparently been disconnected for years.
Any one of those factors alone would not have caused a serious problem; all at once they could have swamped LOON. I thought of other well-known compounded error tragedies, including the Titanic. In that case, too much speed and inattention were compounded by an insufficient number of lifeboats, poorly handled lifeboat deployment, the ship designer's and captain's hubris, and assumptions that the
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Navigating Integrity front cover
All the best, 

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363

Al Watts                                                       Learn more
inTEgro, Inc