I just got back from a fascinating two days at the Big Data World Congress, held in Munich.
There were speakers on a wide variety of subjects – from the technical to the political, and from practical case studies to the training needed for Data Scientists. Legal implications were discussed, as was the need for global standards defining the terms and architectures used.
Now, I don’t expect all leaders to have the passion I have for the subject. But Big Data is not a subject that enterprises of any size can ignore.
I think that often the term “Big Data” gets in the way as we strive for some kind of perfect definition. Maybe we should just think of it as the need to use data (of all kinds and complexity) to improve your company’s decision taking.
Also, some people are talking “Smart Data” as a better way of thinking about the issues. But, given that few companies really use the data they already have, and even fewer turn this into actionable insight – I prefer the term “Smart Insight“.
Whilst so much attention is being paid to the technical challenges of handling Big Data, not enough attention is put on helping ensure people understand what to do with the insight (at all levels of the enterprise) and then act upon it.
Put another way, the rate-limiting step of the use of Big Data is not technology – it’s strategic thinking (what are we trying to do, and how will data help?) and leadership (how can we change the organization to embrace this?
I collected a few quotes from the conference that I thought were particularly “pithy”. Some are not literally what was said (apologies to the speakers), but all are accurate to the intent.
Holger Kisker, Forrester
- “Fortune 500 Companies only use 12% of the data that they currently have”.
Jean-Peter Fendrich, Volvo
- “Big Data allows us to create a single view of each truck over its lifetime”.
J-P Schmetz, Hubert Burda Media
- “You may not be embarrassed if Google published your mobile phone number, but you will be embarrassed if they published some of your search queries”.
- “E-commerce is not retail – you only care that your customer is happy, whilst retail is about efficient distribution”.
Sean Owen, Director, Data Science, Cloudera
- “Why aren’t your Big Data dreams happening? We have the data. We know how to model it. We are just not good enough at getting insight out of it and then properly deploying it”.
- “Is there an alternative to Hadoop? No. Hadoop is replacing itself as we speak and it’s open source so it will keep fresh”.
- “We will always need human oversight of machine generated insight”.
Marcel Blattner, Head of Research, Laboratory for Web Science
- “How to hire a Data Scientist? Test him or her with 1) real business data, 2) a Kaggle competition or 3) artificially generate (challenging!) data.”
Steffen Krause, Technical Evangelist, Amazon Web Services
- “Unstructured data is just data that’s not structured yet …”
Nadja Hirsch, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
- “We need to explain Big Data and Internet of Things in an easy way to get people to accept them”.
Jens Bussmann, Sales Manager Cloud Plattform DACH & CEE, Google Enterprise
- “We are moving from “mobile first” to “mobile only” – Google makes no distinction between mobile and non-mobile”.
Wouter de Bie, Data Infrastructure, Spotify
- “Get fast iteration via think it, build It, ship It … then tweak it”.
- “When the sign-up button says ‘listen to music’, we get 3x more customers than when it says ‘download’”.
- “You are the expert, but be prepared for the truth from the data – so have processes to fail fast”.
Giancarlo Avolio, Business Analyst, Intersec
- “The only way to understand the customer is via Big Data – using structured and unstructured data”.
Justin Coffey, Criteo
- “The number of Hadoop nodes needs to grow in direct proportion to your business”.
Apologies to other speakers I haven’t quoted here, in the interests of space.
A terrific post from Kevin Eikenberry.
Much leadership thinking divides the leader’s role between concern for task and concern for people. Both are essential, but often the ‘task’ focus gets too much of the upper hand.
Kevin re-balances the ‘people side’ with a very thoughtful model – HEART.
Here’s his post:
“To be clear, there are as many different leadership styles as there are people. Yes, lots of smart people have created models to define and describe basic leadership styles, and yet all of us bring our uniqueness to the equation too. Perhaps the simplest of leadership style models divides leaders into “people leaders” and “task leaders”.
Leaders must be focused on both tasks and people – leaning too far either way can cause challenges for the leader and those following them. The cleaner and less complicated approach is to lean towards the task focus. Here is the rationale for this position:
“I was hired to do a job, to get a result. As long as I am getting the results, and the tasks are being completed, that is all that matters. I wasn’t hired to be a friend; I was hired to get people to the goal.”
All of that is true, and yet the balance to this approach is to recognize that you are leading people, not managing assets or resources. If you personally lean toward the task focus, I hope the list below challenges you. If you already lean toward a people focus perhaps you will find some validation here, but more importantly, I hope you notice where to put your heart, as you lead towards the results and goals in front of you.
When I talk about leaders having a big heart, I am talking about five factors that lead with the letters in HEART.
Human. You are human and if you want to lead others more effectively, they must see you as such. You make mistakes and you have weaknesses. When you let others see that and recognize it in yourself, people will see you as more real (and if you think they don’t see your weaknesses because you don’t mention them, you are fooling yourself anyway). When your team can see more of the real you, they are more likely to choose to follow.
Empathy. There is a difference between sympathy and empathy and it is important here. Sympathy is a feeling of care and understanding for the suffering and feelings of others. Empathy on the other hand, is understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes. Often leaders try to be sympathetic, yet empathy is far more powerful. The best leaders “put themselves in the shoes” of others by thinking of similar situations, or sharing their own related situations. We are much more likely to follow someone when we can identify with them in some way – true empathy is one of the best ways to do that.”
Read the rest of Kevin’s post about HEART
Original by KEVIN EIKENBERRY posted on DECEMBER 2, 2013
A recent post from Wally Bock on what we can learn from Leaders about leadership
“I think that one of the best ways to learn leadership isn’t studying “leadership” at all. Instead, study individual leaders in their natural habitat and decide what they do that you want to try. Articles by and about leaders and interviews with them are mini-case studies that show you an actual leader in a real situation.
That’s why, every week, I bring you a selection of posts about individual leaders. This week I’m pointing you to posts by and about Steve Ballmer, Bob Pittman, Satish Bagalkotka, Jess Lee, Patrick Thomas, Lynn Good, Peter Lewis, and Jeff Bezos. Plus the list of Fortune’s 2013 Top People in Business.
From the Wall Street Journal: Ballmer on Ballmer: His Exit From Microsoft
“Mr. Ballmer, in a series of exclusive interviews tinged with his characteristic bluster and wistfulness, tells of how he came to believe that he couldn’t lead Microsoft forward—that, in fact, Microsoft would not be led by him because of the very corporate culture he had helped instill.”
From the NY Times: Bob Pittman of Clear Channel, on the Value of Dissent
“Dissenters ‘may intend to tell you why we can’t do something,’ the company’s chief says, ‘but if you listen hard, what they’re really telling you is what you must do to get something done.’”
From the Mercury News: Q&A: Satish Bagalkotkar, CEO of Synapse Design, on expanding during a tough economy
“Since the 2008 global economic collapse, San Jose-based Synapse Design has doubled its revenue every 18 months as it designs and engineers high-end chips and systems for Fortune 500 companies.”
From the NY Times: Jess Lee of Polyvore, on the Value of Simplicity
“The C.E.O. and co-founder of the fashion and style website talks about doing a few things well and streamlining the office culture.”
From the Globe and Mail: Hermès’ Patrick Thomas: A high-fashion balancing act
“When it comes to business, Patrick Thomas is a family man. The chief executive of luxury purveyor Hermès SA has held top positions at a series of family dynasties. In each case, he’s been the outsider brought in by the clan to help transform their business, run it better and give talented design officials room to breathe.”
From the NY Times: Lynn Good of Duke Energy, on Effective Leaders
“The chief executive of Duke Energy says managerial skill is about ‘whether you can be effective in leading a diverse team.’”
From the Kansas City Star: Longtime Progressive CEO Peter Lewis dies at 80
“Peter Lewis, who shepherded Progressive Corp. from a small-time operation to one of the largest auto insurers in the country and later became the billionaire backer of marijuana legalization, died Saturday. He was 80.”
From Forbes: Jeff Bezos Reveals His No. 1 Leadership Secret
“What’s not to be happy about? He’s the number one CEO in America. The passing of Steve Jobs has left him, without question, as the corporate chief that others most want to meet, emulate and deify. And his primacy can be proven with numbers: FORBES’ ranking of top CEOS—using a bang-for-the-buck methodology that factors in sustained performance, modest compensation and the ability to pull ahead of one’s peers—has Bezos comfortably in the top spot. Indeed, he’s in the highest 5% in every single metric.”
From Fortune: 2013′s top people in business
“Fortune’s annual list is filled with executives who defied expectations (buying a newspaper, leaving luxury for Apple), executed big turnarounds, and delivered stellar results for their shareholders.”
Here’s the original post
I am a big Bruce fan (who isn’t) and really admire his energy and boundless professionalism. He works harder on stage than almost anyone I have ever seen.
So this caught my eye. A crowd request, for a song rarely performed by the band.
Watch how Bruce puts it all together, with an experimental start to a rousing finale, orchestrating the entire thing with minimal instruction and maximun creative clout.
And I particularly admire the way he pulls in each member of the band to showcase their talents and take centre stage.
Leadership via improvisation. We could all learn from Bruce.
Here’s the original video
On the 50th anniversary of his assassination, and whatever is now written about his private life, there is little doubt that JFK was one of the great orators of the 20th century – and probably of all time.
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Kennedy had some great speechwriters, and he was a terrific speaker when fired up.
Yet somehow the words always seemed to be his. I am certain that a large part of his popularity at the time and on to today comes from a visceral and almost universally positive public reaction to his speeches.
Leadership communication par excellence.
I often use his 1961 statement
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
as a great example of conciseness, goal setting and inspiration.
So here are a few of his quotes that seem to me to demonstrate his skill.
- A child miseducated is a child lost.
- A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.
- A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
- As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
- Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
- Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
- Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.
- Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
- History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.
- If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
- If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
- If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
- In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
- It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.
- Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
- Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
- Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.
- The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.
- The best road to progress is freedom’s road.
- The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.
- The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
- The human mind is our fundamental resource.
- The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.
- The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
- The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.
- The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.
- There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.
- There is always inequality in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair.
- Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.
- Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.
- Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
- To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future nor indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust.
- Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.
- Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.
- War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
- We believe that if men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work.
- We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems, for conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
- We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.
- We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.
Leaders all communicate – do we ever think about the language we use?
A superb 10-minute film from the Open University about the history of English – which explains why it is so useful and also why it probably shouldn’t be called English any more.
Brilliantly funny and informative.
I gave a talk yesterday to TEN (The Executive Network).
Here’s the Slideshare link
There is so much talk about Big Data, yet little practical advice to help organizations deal with it. 90% of all data ever created by the human race was created in the past two years alone – and the rate is accelerating. The real revolution, though, is that only the individual will be able to access all of his or her own data – companies must come to terms with this loss of control.
What is Big Data is, and how does it impact all businesses, their people and their organizations? What strategies can you employ to deal with this data revolution? And, how can you lead change in your organization, to embrace Big Data’s impact in all of your activities?
Leadership in the Big Data era
The name Bruce Lee conjures up many images – not least as the man who pretty much defined martial arts in the common psyche. I used to love his movies, and then gradually realised that he brought wisdom in both his actions and thought.
So here are a 20 quotes which I find particularly inspiring and thought provoking.
“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
“Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”
“A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.”
“After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”
“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”
“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.“
“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”
“To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”
“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”
“Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.”
“To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”
“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”
“What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become.”
“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”
“One should be in harmony with, not in opposition to, the strength and force of the opposition. This means that one should do nothing that is not natural or spontaneous; the important thing is not to strain in any way.”
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
I will finish with the longest quote – and perhaps the most profound:
“The biggest adversary in our life is ourselves. We are what we are, in a sense, because of the dominating thoughts we allow to gather in our head. All concepts of self-improvement, all actions and paths we take, relate solely to our abstract image of ourselves. Life is limited only by how we really see ourselves and feel about our being. A great deal of pure self-knowledge and inner understanding allows us to lay an all-important foundation for the structure of our life from which we can perceive and take the right avenues.”