New inTEgro logo 0910
In This Issue
How's Your Core Strength?
Clear The Deck!
Twitter Highlights
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List
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:

One misunderstood word reveals the power of language -

Challenges for Apple maintaining suppply chain integrity -

My comment on "Uh-Oh! 15 Phrases That Tell You to Run"

"Be your #1 self, not a #2 somebody else." (Duke Ellington)

"I will not serve well that which I no longer believe." (James Joyce)

"It's impossible," said pride. "It's risky," said experience. "It's pointless," said reason. "Give it a try," whispered the heart. - Unknown

How to Remove Fear of Failure From Your Business
via @TheBuildNetwork

What CEOs Can Learn From Reindeer via @forbes

GSK's China crisis: questions that need answers

"For sure, just as character matters in people, it matters in organizations."

Yes, "solid principles are good for business, and ultimately good for corporation valuations"

Technology is cool, but be wary of "Losing Our Way in the World" -

Joyce Brown of F.I.T., "On Using Your Third Ear:"

Is it possible to be too competitive? "I'm Good; Damn I'm Good!"

Someone tell Goldman Sachs: Just because you can do something, even if legal, doesn't mean you should.

History of Office Life - An Insider's Guide to What's New, What's Not and What's Never Coming Back

My comment on "Top 100 Inspirational Quotes" @Forbes:

'Looks like it's getting lonelier at Lonely Planet
via @FastCompany

If you know yourself and your enemy, you will always be victorious. If you know neither, you will never be victorious. (Sun Tzu)

3 keys to victory: knowing when to fight and when not to, holding troops united in purpose, and skilled officers given free reign. (Sun Tzu)

"The times they are a changin'; you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone." (Bob Dylan)

10 ways to be an authentic IT leader -

Tom Peters weekly quote: "The only honest feedback a boss gets is from his calendar; we are what we do."

The Glass Steagall Act assured that financial institutions remained true to their purpose -

I agree with Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks: "Winners see trials as opportunities to reinforce values, not abandon them."

Reimer of Merryck & Co on the importance of sticking to values -

When Doing Good Meets Investing - Rise of the b-corp; how to do well by being good and still be a public company -

Non-Human Resources:

Big Data Accoountability - Part 1 -

"A Moral Compass brings the people into accord with their ruler so that they will follow him in life and in death without fear." (Sun Tzu)

Phillips seeks to "pull as one" and "better integration" - - Good examples of organizational integrity

Does P&G need product innovation or strategic innovation?

Could China be "the mother of all 'Black Swans'?" How to manage the risk -

The Essential Wall St. Summer Reading List -

Managing The People Side of Risk - transparency, alignment and accountability are central to positive risk cultures.-

Optogenetics - A cure for bad habits and compulsions?

"You Are What Your Dashes Say You Are" -

Interesting research on "The Ergonomics of Dishonesty" -

3 leadership lessons from Gettysburg - True, leadership is more art thank science.

International Listening Association convention - "where talk is cheap!"

True, gratitude is rewarding! What are you grateful for today?

"Intellectual integrity": the judgement, discipline and consistency to achieve your "winning aspiration" -
If you missed it, here's a copy of my last blog: How's Your Core Strength?. The introduction to June's article, Clear The Deck!, follows; you can access the entire article by clicking the link at the end.  Be sure to enter the "Who Said This?" contest at the bottom of this newsletter to win an autographed copy of Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best.
How's Your Core Strength?

Physical therapy following shoulder surgery and back issues gave me a new appreciation for "core strength." Physiologically, core strength is primarily a function of our abdominal and lower back muscles, pelvis and diaphragm working together to provide support, balance and power when we need it. Core strength isn't as readily visible as the muscles on "muscle beach;" we notice it more in its absence. Core strength is a large part of power generated in the martial arts; it strengthens our backbone, contributes to a healthy upright posture, and is necessary for dynamic sports. Yoga and isometric exercises are particularly beneficial for developing core strength.


There is a core strength possessed by some leaders and organizations that is comparable on many levels. It is the foundation for their reserve strength and power, contributes to balance, helps them maintain an "upright posture" and conditions them for success in dynamic environments. Like physiological core strength, it requires exercise and conditioning, and we don't readily notice it other than in its absence. What is this kind of core strength, and how can we get it?


"Core" means at or from the center; like physiological core strength, leadership and organizational core strength also come from their center. Have you noticed how much more confident and powerful you feel when a deep sense of purpose or principles drives your actions? In those cases you are fueled by your core strength; you will likely not be deterred or distracted easily, and will remain committed to a task far beyond would otherwise be the case. In his classic book From Good To Great, Jim Collins labeled an organization's combination of deep purpose and principles its "core ideology." His research demonstrated that companies with a strong core ideology, coupled with "adaptive mechanisms," achieved returns six times higher than their comparison companies and twelve times higher than general stock market returns. Why would that be?

  • Most of us are more energized and loyal when working for a cause or purpose beyond just "another day, another dollar." To be part of an organization committed "to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world" (Nike's mission) is more energizing than if the purpose were merely "making athletic equipment" or "maximizing profits for shareholders."
  • A clear purpose and solid values function as beacons attracting like-minded and like-motivated talent; they also serve to screen out those not aligned with an organization's core ideology. Like any successful sea voyage that will be challenging, it is of primary importance to get the right people in the boat and the wrong people out of it.
  • A clear core purpose and solid core values can also serve as a "diving rod" of sorts for market opportunities that are good fits and a red flag for those that are not. For example potential acquisitions or mergers that are disguised as opportunities but don't fit an organization's core competencies or unique value proposition aren't really opportunities. The dustbin of failed mergers and acquisitions is littered with organizations with values and cultures that were mismatches.
  • We know that trust significantly impacts relationships with leaders and organizations' success in their markets. Credibility and trust increase when leaders are who they say they are and do what they say they will do; companies are rewarded by the marketplace when they live up to their brand promise.
  • It can be incredibly tempting to cut corners, bend rules or "fudge" on core values when the heat is on. Staying true to purpose and values while meeting competitive challenges and financial pressures hones the same kind of creativity that fuels innovation in general.
  • Physiological core strength helps us lift heavy weights, maintain our balance in awkward situations, stretch beyond old limits, marshal bursts of speed or power without injury and maintain an erect posture. The kind of core strength that we're talking about here essentially does the same for leaders and organizations. "Maintaining an erect posture" in this context is about ethical behavior and sustainability.

Leaders and organizations cannot fake this kind of core strength any more than physiological core strength can be faked. Some try; leaders might "talk the talk" and organizations can fill manuals or cover walls with statements about purpose and principles. Unless their actions consistently model their words, however, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson "their actions speak so loudly we no longer hear what they are saying." Real core strength and the courage of our convictions help us power through challenges and setbacks. As Howard Schulz, Starbucks CEO put it: "Winners use hardships as opportunities to reinforce their values, not abandon them."


A recent New York Times article described the popularity these days of personal trainers, who among other things of course can help build up our physiological core strength. Could your organization and its leaders benefit from a "personal trainer" of sorts to build up the kind of core strength in this article? Here is what such a trainer would recommend.

  • "Core" means "center." Make sure that you articulate a core purpose and values or principles that come from your center - what you and those you work with care about, what you value and what you aspire to.
  • Keep it real and stay true. Core purpose and values become real for those inside organizations and its customers when they see them played out consistently. Not "walking our talk" is one of the greatest drivers of employee cynicism and disengagement; failure living up to our brand promise erodes brand value and market position.
  • Work it! The more we are exposed to messages about core purpose and values, the more they become part of us (but only when words are reinforced by actions.) On a regular basis we need to remind ourselves and those we work with why we are there, what we stand for and why that's important. When we make critical decisions or pursue difficult courses of action, communicate how those decisions and actions were driven by core ideology.
  • Exercise. Like most muscles or capabilities, without use we lose them. Use your core purpose and core values or principles as that "diving rod" for scoping out market opportunities. Use them as your primary screen for whom to "get in the boat and whom to keep out of the boat." When faced with difficult decisions, keep core ideology foremost in your discernment process. If we exercise our core ideology only when convenient, fruits are the same as when we exercise anything else only when it's convenient.
  • Don't make it an "exercise." Too many organizations and leaders go through the mission, vision, values exercise because they've heard that's what they're supposed to do. The products are usually mish-mashes of rather dull, similar-sounding statements that are interchangeable across organizations. When our stated core purpose and principles are not reflections of our "DNA" - who we really are and aspire to be, they become passionless exercises that generate little commitment.

Here's to your health and core strength!



"One way we try to foster innovation is to align our business objectives with our ideals.  I believe that people do a better job when they believe in what they do."                                                                                                  Daniel Vasella, Novartis Chairman


"Where there is a purpose underpinning the business of an organization, then there is an unavoidable moral discipline that engages individuals."                                                                         

                                        Nikos Mourkogiannis



(Photos courtesy of Flickr - kizzlexy, ritavida, carmelsandiego)





Clear The Deck!

In older days, "Clear the deck!" was a common command to prepare for doing battle at sea. The command focused attention, cleared visibility to gain a better perspective on the action, eliminated distractions and quickly channeled resources where they were needed most. Literally or figuratively, "clearing the deck" today serves virtually the same purposes.
Three developments inspired this article: First, and perhaps most closely linked to "clear the deck's" original meaning, was the decision to sell our sloop on Lake Superior; it was time to make more room for other priorities and new adventures. (LOON now has a proud new owner who will take good care of her and take her on new journeys.) At about the same time a good friend described how being laid up for a period after surgery allowed him to "clear the decks" and think anew about his direction personally and professionally. Most recently, some interior home repairs and painting required moving way too many books, files, boxes, trip mementos, etc; a reminder that it is definitely time to "clear the decks" of clutter in our home and offices. We discovered many things with meaning or usefulness that no longer outweighed their required upkeep.
Not clearing the decks soon enough before early-day sea battles carried severe consequences. Maneuvering was awkward, vision and perspective were hampered, and valuable resources - including personnel - were lost.  Actually, the decks usually got cleared eventually, early and intentionally or in defeat. Modern day sailors no longer need to clear decks in preparation for battle, but they do in preparation for storms; "prepare for a storm before the storm" by taking in sails, lashing gear down, "battening the hatches" and tying yourself in for the ride. Failures to clear the decks in those scenarios also extract serious consequences.
"Clearing the decks" for leaders and organizations today can take the form of time for reflection and planning, questioning and reordering  priorities, discarding what detracts from execution or no longer contributes value, or simply taking time away as a break or to see things differently. As Marcel Proust said, sometimes "A voyage of

Win a Free Book! Navigating Integrity front cover
Enter the "WHO SAID THIS?" contest on our blog to win a free  autographed copy of  Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best

"In this new book, Al Watts does a masterful job articulating how to live with integrity in your organization, on your team and in your life. A highly practical guide for leveraging the power of integrity."
(Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner Korn Ferrry).
Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings. Click "Services" on our home page to learn more, including inTEgro's array of professional organization, team and leader surveys.

All the best,

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

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc