More I read which got me thinking

Over half a year has passed since posting What I read got me thinking. It’s time to update the list with other great books – ones which made me think, find fascinating and thought-provoking.
Inspiration is a source of engagement which is key to reach goals and new things. Inspired by Marty Cagan is a great book on inspiring products and product management. Marty helps teams to discover and build outstanding products at the right time for consumers. In today’s fast-moving world it requires empowered teams which have experiences and deep insights to innovate and produce products clients love. The managers’ main duty is to enable and foster such teams rather than performing short-term labour arbitrage for income polishing.
Maybe you are tired as well of yearly performance management processes and feel that such processes do not produce any value in the current time of change. Measure What Matters by John Doerr gives a lot of insights into the operational key results (OKR) based approach adopted by many of the most successful companies today. Not all companies are ready to adopt this as it requires an honest and transparent culture from the CEO down to all the employees to get the organization aligned with what really matters.
Many companies have lost their innovative power which attributed to their past success(s). Many started to preserve their brand and sustain by iterations of the same products lacking any real innovation or change. Iterations are a sign that a company is on the way down and that it may need somebody to revitalize it by hitting the refresh button. Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella shows how Microsoft did this by aligning the employees and the company behind common goals. Such a refresh action will eliminate a substantial amount of the bureaucracy/overhead in many organizations today.
Zurück an die Arbeit‘  is another great read where Lars Vollmer relates as though he is an employee of the company you are working for. In a world of fast changes it is key to give the people the option and the authority to decide and move. In his newest book ‘Wie sich Menschen organisieren, wenn ihnen keiner sagt, was sie tun sollen‘ Lars outlines with great examples what happens when people just start to organize themselves based on shared objectives and how incredibly powerful and engaging the results can be.
Many people define goals without reflecting enough and get frustrated if things do not work out in the way they imagine. It becomes key to understand one’s own motivations and priorities to identify what really matters. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson explores this in a direct and immensely thought-provoking style.
The amount of great knowledge out there at your fingertips is amazing. I wonder how many people think they are too busy to take the time to read, think and reflect.

Motivation and the need to disrupt yourself

Mark Murphy recently published an article on Forbes titled What Motivates You At Work? He lists five types of motivations:
  • Achievement: People with a high need for achievement seek to excel.
  • Power: People who are driven by a need for power as they do want to be recognized for being influential. 
  • Affiliation: People with a high need for affiliation want harmonious relationships with other people and they want to feel accepted by others. 
  • Security: People with a high need for security look for continuity, consistency and predictability in their job, work, and pay. 
  • Adventure: People with a need for adventure are motivated by risk, change, and uncertainty. They thrive when the environment or the work is constantly changing. 
There is an online self-evaluation to help you identify the things that motivate you. I did the evaluation and it suggested that I’m motivated by adventures, by trying out new things and move forward.
But man is a creature of habit. And it is hard to get out of habits built up over years. I noticed that I stopped moving forward in my former life which finally triggered a decision. We, a group of colleagues started a new company named YAPEAL. A month is not a long time but I think there is one big change I feel each and every day. Maybe not the best way to phrase it, but I started to feel myself much better again. The work before was interesting but somehow had little impact, reactions were always similar and any change felt impossible or at least difficult. Now everything matters – this is challenging but very motivating.

Who is leading?

Our post Next stop – FinTechGiants touched on the three structures existing in any organization:
  • a formal structure of power, required to perform business and ensure regulatory compliance
  • an informal structure of social networks and communication paths
  • a value creation structure which solves problems and produces the values 
All three structures exist in each and every organization or company and each has its own leaders. Leadership is one of the often used terms. But what is a leader? What is leadership? 
  • Leadership is the result of a social process 
  • It is something which happens between people
  • It is typically the result of a bottom-up process 
  • And it often requires passion, inspiration and motivation to jointly achieve a goal
Leadership is something which cannot be actively assigned – it needs to be earned or gained. It is about being respected or accepted as a leader. 
The roles in the formal structure are assigned. They are 
  • typically the result of a top-down assignment
  • they give position power 
  • they allow controlling a group to achieve a goal
  • they come with clear expectations by those with more power who made the assignment
  • often results of internal politics used to secure or gain assigned power
Having such a formal position does not imply being a leader – it just implies control or management power. While a good leader typically also has management skills there are many managers which are no leaders. Individuals with important formal roles in companies often start to separate themselves from the rest. They become an elite in an organization and lose the contact with the base. Many of them also have no vision to share and hence focus on managerial or material aspects driven by the fear to fail. This is not sufficient in the current time of change where companies need leaders to move successfully towards a shared vision by giving direction.