“The Only Thing We Have to Fear is …”

Managing personal and business fear in times of increased uncertainty

Terrorism, war, and acts of hate have a grip on our consciousness these days.  Media, including movies and books, capitalize on our fears and add to them by projecting visions of future evil.  Worries mount.

Conquering fear and worry - Mike Russell

Fear stifles innovation and agility.

We must know how to keep our fears manageable.  Otherwise, we will unnecessarily retreat from life … personal, and business.

Fear is good!

Have you seen the movie “Wall Street”? If so, you may now be thinking of the scene when character Gordon Gecko pronounces “greed is good” to shareholders.

The problem with Gecko’s statement, and mine of “fear is good!,” is that the qualifiers are missing. A desire to improve one’s condition can lead to good things, and fear can lead to good things. The key in both cases is to avoid the downside.

And no more so than in current times.

Here are some changes in thinking and concrete actions that will help you manage your fears.

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Special price on Wrong Until Right paperback edition – limited time

Get the paperback edition of Wrong Until Right – How to Succeed Despite Relentless Change at a special price of US $3.50 with free Amazon Prime shipping!

This is a limited time offer – use the link below to order:




Already have the book?  Get a copy for a leader who needs to know about successfully steering their company amid relentless change …

A Team Killer Lurks in Your Company

Teams continue to be a key aspect of most company organizational strategies.  A team is often needed to do more than one individual can accomplish.  Teams are also seen as an effective way to improve productivity and performance.  Most agility transformation approaches also hinge on effective teams.

Team Killer Lurks in Your Company - by Mike Russell

Unfortunately, most companies also have a team “killer” in their midst. One that is ubiquitous yet not always recognized. One that is assumed to be “status quo” yet needs major change for teams to actually work.

What is this team killer?

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Agility Transformation Requires Self-Disruption!

Agile promises revolutionary results.

quires Disruption! Mike Russell

OK – maybe not that kind of revolutionary result 🙂

Conventional wisdom says that if you change your processes to “agile,” you will achieve “enterprise agility.”  And doing so will bring revolutionary results for the entire business.  That is far too simplistic and is, basically, wrong!

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Space – The Final Frontier for Your Business?

Guest Post by Tom Meloche

Space - the Final Office Frontier? www.mikerussell.com

Does your office space resemble a black hole?


This is a guest post by colleague Tom Meloche, whose new book on organizational ceremony just came out.

It is an authorized extract – edited to remove client-specific information – from a private client communication and how to achieve the next level of agility.  The client has an agile tribe that other companies come visit for inspiration and exposure to “doing agile well.”  Every visitor drools over the tribe’s office area and the radically better “feel” it provides.

Tom, however, contends that their space … the very office area that other companies covet and the client uses as a showcase … is actually holding them back from going further in their agility journey.

Here are his thoughts:


“The facility is a nightmare.  Love, Tom.”

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Ceremony – A Profound New Method for Increasing Productivity and Achieving Successful Change

Ceremony.  The word brings up images of ritualistic events outside our work lives, like weddings, graduations, and presidential inaugurations.  Ceremonies are not new and are in fact as old as civilization itself.

Ceremony book http://amzn.to/2rr4QsE - post by Mike Russell

So why are colleagues Tom Meloche and Kyle Aretae calling ceremony a “new method” in their book title?

Because the enormous power of ceremony is missing in business.  The authors point out that ceremony as a conscious organizing strategy remains almost unknown in the business world.  Executives, entrepreneurs, and front-line managers cannot formally describe what ceremony is, how it works, or how to leverage it in their organizations.  Surprisingly, it has also been ignored by an entire generation of business consultants.

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“Failure is Not an Option” Produces Failure

“Failure is not an option” is now a common phrase. It became so as a result of the 1995 movie Apollo 13, the title of Gene Kranz’s 2000 autobiography, and other media presentations. It characterizes the “can do” attitude of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) early years.

Apollo 13 mission control - NASA photo.

The phrase has also became popular in business, as often happens with catchy phrases that seem to ooze wisdom.

Yet using the phrase can actually be dangerous … “failure is not an option” can be terrific or it can be toxic, actually producing failure.

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Why and How to Build An Effective Leadership Pipeline

Do you want your business to fail as leaders change over time?  Most people would quickly answer “no,” but business actions say the opposite.  And doing the opposite is leaving your business future to chance.

How Do You Build a Leadership and Succession Pipeline? Mike Russell

Planning for leadership change is vital to future success.  Some businesses like GE have legendary succession planning, and more businesses have processes in place for CEO succession.  However, most businesses do not have much in the way of succession planning for other key positions.

Even if there is some level of succession planning, it is often just knowing who is available “right now” if a leader needs replacement.  This misses the second key element of effective succession:  building and maintaining a leadership “pipeline” that supplies great leadership candidates over time.  The pipeline essentially provides the “fuel” that enables the succession “engine” to work.

There is no “best answer” for building a leadership pipeline.  What each business needs depends on the particular business situation.  This article provides some starting points for building the best pipeline for your business.

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How to Become an Agile Leader

The last insight, What is Agile Leadership?, noted that leaders are looking for ways to deal with relentless market change. Uncertainty bred by terrorism, major political changes like Brexit and the new Trump administration in the U.S., and shifting regulatory landscapes only adds to massive change pressures.

Leader’s interest is expanding rapidly in business agility, agile, lean startup, and variations as possible answers.  The natural question that arises for leaders is:

What is “agile leadership” … how can leaders be agile and lead agility?

The simple answer:

Agile leadership is good leadership with a “wrong until right” mindset.


That begged the next question for leaders and the subject of this insight:

How do I become a better agile leader?

How to Become a Better Agile Leader - The Criticality of Adaptability, by Mike Russell

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