Leaders Everywhere - Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (2015)

Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (2015)

5 Leaders Everywhere

In a classic piece of psychology research, a primary school teacher and a professor teamed up to study how far expectations drive outcomes. To do so, they administered IQ tests to California pupils in grades one through six. Teachers were told that certain pupils—around 20 percent—showed great promise and could be expected to make exceptional progress. At the end of the year, that forecast proved true: the IQ of the nominated pupils showed superior improvement. But, like all great social psychology experiments, this one had a catch. The “high-potential students” had been chosen at random. What came to be known as the Pygmalion effect argued that it is expectations, more than innate ability, that influence outcomes. Never mind who’s gifted, who’s talented. Expect great things and you are more likely to get them.

The talent, energy, insight, and opportunity of any organization lies with its people. They are where all ideas come from; they are its best early-warning system. All of the risk and all of the opportunities lie in the workforce. In just cultures, no one needs permission to be creative or courageous. But they do need support, encouragement, and belief.

The Elevating Impact of High Expectations

After the Pygmalion experiments were published, subsequent researchers couldn’t help but wonder whether the same effect might be observable in adults. Could you make teams more productive just by expecting more of them? Two Israeli researchers—Reuven Stern and Dov Eden—studied a thousand men in twenty-nine platoons. Stern met with all of the platoon leaders and explained that it was possible, on the basis of test scores, to predict the command potential of the soldiers. And, to particular platoon leaders, he broke the news that their group’s tests indicated exceptionally high potential. No individual soldier was singled out; it was the group as a whole that showed promise. Once again, the platoons described as high-potential had been chosen at random.

Sure enough, those groups nominated as exceptional turned out to be so: raising leaders’ expectations of their men caused performance improvements of at least 20 percent. Moreover, “the Pygmalion effect is not a benefit enjoyed by some at the expense of others. It is a boon that can be shared by all.” Nobody had to fail for the others to succeed.

No one in these groups started out unfit for service, disgruntled, or disengaged, so there was a baseline of commitment and fitness for the work. But the study challenges organizations everywhere to consider how they assess and manage talent. Résumés, interviews, psychometric tests, and behavioral profiling are routinely recruited to identify talent and potential. But nominating some executives “high-potentials” may be no more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. Give these individuals special attention, training, and support and of course they do well. But it’s worth considering the message conveyed to the rest: you don’t have potential.

Forget Forced Ranking

Many organizations disable much of their workforce by applying processes that confer the opposite of the Pygmalion effect. Of these, the most prevalent is forced ranking, an exercise every six or twelve months in which a workforce is assessed and segregated into one of three camps: the supertalented 10 to 20 percent, the bottom 10 to 20 percent, and all the rest. You don’t need to be a mathematical whiz to perceive that in this system, there must be far more losers than winners. Those in the top group love it because they are confirmed as leaders, talented, and full of possibility. Not surprisingly, they tend to live up to this expectation and to feel responsibility for the organization that has so clearly identified and articulated their value.

But the rest? The bottom group is explicitly encouraged to disengage and leave—some managers have called this a kindness. But those in the middle group—the majority of the workforce—are completely stuck. Few at the top wish to mentor them because doing so jeopardizes their own elite status. Peers are reluctant to help and support each other for the same reason. But perhaps most telling of all, the segregation of the “best” sends a powerfully demotivating message: they’re leaders, you’re not. The advancement of the few comes at the cost of passivity and apathy in the rest. This is not, of course, the intent, but it is the consequence. Why care about a system that doesn’t appear to care for you?

Most of the world’s largest companies rank people, hoping to co-opt their competitive instincts and drive them to higher levels of performance. In reality, the system disenfranchises the majority of the workforce and sends out a costly message: you are not a leader. With Pygmalion in mind, you might call this the Galatea effect—taking living human talent and reducing it to stone.


Most organizations invest more in rooting out underperformers than in cultivating pervasive achievement. Standard tools of appraisal, assessment, and ranking provide an illusion of control, a comforting defense against the slacker. But they’ve overengineered the solution to the small problem while ignoring the bigger one. Turn that around—focus instead on liberating and celebrating talent—and the results are predictably disproportionate.

Forced ranking creates a visible and felt hierarchy, which discourages helpfulness and accountability, precisely the qualities most valuable in creative collaborative organizations. It specifically devalues social capital. So it was a telling moment when a bellwether that had long cherished ranking chose finally to abandon it—which is what Microsoft did in 2013. The new CEO, Satya Nadella, now sees it as critical to the company’s mission to do everything in his power to foster a different kind of ethos, dubbed “One Microsoft,” where everyone—not just the top few—feel active, invested, and responsible.

“Culture,” Nadella said, “is everything. That’s why I try to meet all our new graduate hires. They are our lifeblood! And I keep beating the drum—management is here to serve the workers. We have to get people at the bottom not to take any bullshit. We have to be in touch with all of them. We have to get the best from everyone.”

The symbolic power of eliminating forced ranking was lost on no one. Nadella faces a bigger challenge: how to excite and motivate every single person in a vast company full of bright, ambitious individuals. He isn’t alone. Most global businesses today have initiated programs that go by names such as One Bank, One Store, and One QBE, all of which aim to align all of the talent within them, to demolish silos and fiefdoms and to liberate the talents of every single employee. It could be simpler than many realize.

Leaders Believe

When Google launched a data-mining program to determine the characteristics of their best managers, many involved in Project Oxygen expected technical expertise to head the list. But out of the top eight qualities, that one came last. What mattered most to people was working with colleagues who believed in them, cared about them, and took an interest in their lives and careers. Most striking of all, they preferred managers who would help them to puzzle out problems themselves—not by giving answers but by asking questions. Supplying answers shuts a conversation down and implies superiority, but asking questions, as a way of solving the problem, implies confidence: you can crack this, you just need a little support. Once again, questions trump solutions and social connectedness proves highly motivating.

Believing in the people who work with you proves effective because it gives them the confidence to persevere in the face of difficulties. In doing so, they develop a sense of self-efficacy. The experience that shows them they can succeed. Being trusted, they learn to trust themselves. People who are helped by a system are more likely to take responsibility for it. Support, help, mentoring, and leadership become richly reciprocal.

When executives believe that expertise and omniscience are all that matters, they edit out their concern for people around them. I knew one brilliant manager who cared deeply about his team members, their families, their professional and personal hopes and dreams. But he never let that show, thinking it trivial. Once he changed, the response was phenomenal. Treated as whole human beings, his team brought more of themselves to work: all their energy, all their imagination, all their ideas became available. What the Pygmalion experiments and the Google data demonstrate is that one of the simplest ways to elicit great work from people is to show you believe in them. This isn’t about chumminess; it is about seeing the depth of the people you work with. See them. Know them. Understand them. Show you care. Take time to do this. It sounds simple because it is.

All of my working life, companies have routinely restructured, reengineered, reorganized themselves in an effort to unlock energy and ideas. This always involves eliminating individuals who are euphemistically described as “dead wood.” But were they dead to begin with? Did the company recruit and hire dead people? Of course not. But lack of time, attention, and concern had killed off the interest and talent with which they’d begun.

Distributing Power

When I described forced ranking to the engineers of Arup, the look of puzzled amazement on their faces spoke volumes. They understood the concept readily enough—they just couldn’t imagine how it could be productive. Arup is one of the world’s most successful architectural engineering firms. Its credits include the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, the Cheese Grater in London, the longest bridge in Australia, and a bioreactive facade in Berlin, constructions at the cutting edge of human ingenuity. In its sixty-nine years, the company has never lost money, borrowed, or shrunk. Terry Hill has worked at Arup for over thirty years. He says that much of the firm’s success has always depended on minimizing hierarchy.

“Before I started with Arup, I’d worked with contractors who always had a rigid hierarchy. But here, I was trusted, just allowed to get on with my work. When I came back from my holidays, the guy I had been working for offered to work for me. He’d been my boss on my first job—and now I was his boss on my next job!”

At Arup, such flexibility isn’t unusual. Teams are formed according to the expertise that the job demands—and the skills that individual engineers seek to develop. One engineer, Hill told me, moved from doing high-rises in London to sustainable development in Africa. She wanted to learn new skills, and helping her achieve her aims enhanced the firm’s capabilities. Success at Arup isn’t about climbing a ladder but building a diffuse infrastructure rich in leadership everywhere.

“We don’t recruit to fill vacancies,” Phil Hood told me. “We don’t really even have job descriptions. We’re good at looseness. There’s a lot of discipline and process in what we do but we try to keep how we do it as responsive as we can.”

Sharing lunch with a team of Arup engineers is unlike the experiences I’ve had in other companies. It isn’t just the unprompted eagerness with which people talk about their work or the delightful absence of media training in their conversation that stands out. What they’re describing and the way they talk about their work match. The subjects flow effortlessly between people according to who has most experience or insight. Instead of hierarchy, what I’m watching is heterarchy: an informal structure that changes in response to need.

Central to the idea of heterarchies is the belief that everyone matters. Just as the human brain itself is not hierarchical—its different areas and capacities are recruited in different combinations according to the task—so, in creative organizations, every individual counts. Instead of rank indicating importance, in great teams you want everyone to feel that they matter. Respect flows from capability, not position. Once you work from the simple assumption that everyone counts, everyone contributes more. This doesn’t mean that everyone does everything—knowledge, expertise matter—but leadership is fluid.

The Best Idea Leads

Everyone counts. At companies such as Morning Star, the world’s leading tomato processor, they use different words but the idea is the same. No one has titles, ranks, privileges. Instead, the mantra is: knowledge is the leader. Just as at Arup, the leader—of a project or a problem—is the person most able to come up with the best solution on that day. At Gripple, a British manufacturing firm, the same spirit prevails. The CEO sits amid the rest of the staff and the only job description is simple—if the ball’s falling, catch it. Jim Henson used to invite the janitor to meetings. The absence of hierarchy, of formal job descriptions and rankings is deliberately designed to make everyone feel responsible and to bring their best.

On one of my visits to Arup, I asked the engineers what, with offices all over the world, would I see that would tell me I was in an Arup office?

“You wouldn’t be able to tell who was a director and who wasn’t,” one said. “All of the offices are different. But in any one of them, you’d see people working around tables and you’d have no idea who was the boss.”

Hierarchies make it easy for a few to have power and the rest to defer or check out. But in organizations that strive to reduce pecking orders, everyone is encouraged to see themselves as leaders, capable of being and making others successful. That’s the point at which an organization approaches the holy grail of teams, mutual accountability. Where I feel that I can succeed, among people I know, trust, and care for, why would I let them down?

The Power in Powerlessness

In 1989, the Montreal Protocol required the phasing out of all CFCs, the chlorofluorocarbons shown to be responsible for the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. CFCs were big business, used in refrigeration, aerosol sprays, cars, and many manufacturing processes. So the race was on to find a new way to create a substitute that could quickly replace the banned chemicals. At age thirty-nine, the managing director of ICI’s fluorochemicals division, Geoff Tudhope, faced an enormous challenge, not least because he lacked expertise.

“I’m not a chemist or an engineer; I have a law degree,” Tudhope told me. “So I had to be very careful about giving direction. I knew we had good people and a good track record in this area. But I had to lead from the human side.”

Together with his head of engineering, Frank Maslen, Tudhope knew that the scale of the chemistry challenge, coupled with the unprecedented urgency of the timetable, meant that the company would be forced to think and work differently.

“We didn’t know if we could do this—no one knew,” Tudhope recalled. “But Maslen came to tell me three things. First, he said, what I want to try is this: No stars in this team. We are all just scientists. Nobody stands tall, everyone has a valid point of view. And second, we work to just one standard: the best imaginable. Then he added the final thing. He told me I had to butt out.”

Tudhope got the message. He knew that when it comes to innovation, power can prove disruptive and destructive. And he shared Maslen’s view that the urgency and scale of the challenge was so exceptional that not a single voice, talent, or idea could be wasted. Everyone had to count. Tudhope’s role was to hold the team to its principles.

“I watched the team’s body language to see if everyone did get their say. I would sit in meetings, just as an observer, and listen. Did anyone look marginalized or sidelined? Was anyone silent? But they weren’t. Even the women—we had a number of female scientists—were right in there! So much energy, such sincerity. From every one of them.”

Without technical expertise, and declining the power to intervene, Tudhope wasn’t doing nothing. He protected the team by holding them to their own standards of trust and candor and by reporting progress to his bosses, thus ensuring the team’s freedom. High trust with low levels of interference produced an exhilarating result. The Montreal Protocol—the most successful international environmental agreement ever implemented—had called for the elimination of CFCs by 1996. Tudhope’s team delivered their alternative in 1994.

“We cracked the new technology ahead of every competitor including DuPont, gained forty percent of the US market from zero, and were recognized by the Royal Academy of Engineering with the MacRobert award in 1993! It was a pretty remarkable achievement of trust, teamwork, and the excitement of daring to have the standard of the best imaginable. Amazing learning opportunity for me, too.”

The Problem with Power

“I believe that the more power you give away, the more you have, because when people are trusted and empowered they take ownership and will not let you down,” Paul Harris wrote to me. “I judge management not by the number of people they control but the number they liberate. My attitude is that I have never learnt anything from someone who agrees with me so I expect everyone to talk openly to me even if their opinions differ from mine or those above them.”

Harris is the former CEO and cofounder of FirstRand bank in South Africa. Although he is a wealthy man, his favorite topic of conversation isn’t money or status. What fires him up is bringing people together as equals. He doesn’t think people work for him. He works with them.

FirstRand is known across southern Africa as an innovator and a trusted resource. As early as 2000, the bank introduced an electronic payment system that brought buyers and sellers together, and it pioneered the use of cell phones for banking transactions. Such innovation, Harris insists, depends on the freedom and talent of the entire organization. Talking with Harris, you can’t help but feel that his commitment to human equality is deeply personal. But he also appreciates that steep hierarchies are hard to operate; it’s difficult for information to flow from top to bottom, while second-guessing the powerful proves an elaborate and wasteful game. That’s why Geoff Tudhope agreed to butt out of the search for a CFC replacement—he knew status could derail exploration.

We may think of power as a prize or a privilege—but it’s a problem, and the steeper the hierarchy, the bigger the risk. Many of the rewards of power are, in themselves, isolating: the private jet, first-class cabin, limousine, or corner office is circumscribed by walls, not porous membranes. And power changes people.

Powerful people who control resources tend not to pay much attention to the less powerful. In experiments, they are less able to see the visual, cognitive, and emotional perspectives of others and, as a consequence, may make less accurate judgments and form relatively shallow understanding. More recently, brain imaging has shown that those with power are less responsive to others. The paradox of power, therefore, is that while we need leaders to show that they care about others, they often can’t.

“I guess I could ask their opinion,” one COO grudgingly conceded to me. Frustrated by the lack of coherence and energy in his global business, he knew the answers he sought lay within the bright people around him. He rated them and knew they cared. But he didn’t feel he could ask for help. Leaders are supposed to know all the answers, aren’t they? His sense of himself—that as a leader, he was supposed to be omniscient—trapped him under a burden he couldn’t shift alone.

Like a great idea, power is at its best when given away. Asking for help could have enlisted all the bright young minds this COO wished to engage, smashing the hierarchy and silos that immobilized him. As Geoff Tudhope found at ICI, the more power you give to the people around you, the more likely it is that they will step up to burnish a bright good idea or to illuminate an incipient risk.

While much in our culture celebrates leaders as heroic soloists, most CEOs recognize how fully they depend on the people around them to stand up, speak up, and reach deep down inside their organizations to surface the critical people and information they need. We may imagine large organizations are run single-handedly by charismatic, uniquely gifted geniuses, but truly creative, adaptive, and relevant companies don’t concentrate power on top floors or top people. Even the icon of the superstar CEO myth, Steve Jobs, turns out not to have been the sole source of the company’s design mastery.

“The biggest misconception is this belief that the reason Apple products turn out to be designed better, and have a better user experience, or are sexier, or whatever … is that they have the best design team in the world,” according to former Apple designer Mark Kawano. “But everyone there is thinking about user experience and design, not just the designers. And that’s what makes everything about the product so much better … much more than any individual designer or design team. The reason that structure works isn’t because of a top-down mandate. It’s an all-around mandate. Everyone cares.”

Lead from Where You Are

Hierarchies create chasms across which people gaze, uncertain how to connect. On one side are managers, feeling alone, cut off, and isolated by the burden of power. On the other side stand individuals full of ideas, knowledge, insight, and energy. They’re waiting—for permission, for a sign that it’s safe to stand up, reach out, forge ahead. I’m not sure, they tell me, whether I should do anything. Nobody asked me to. I’m not a leader. It’s not my job …

It might not be your job, but it is your life. Most people will spend around a hundred thousand hours at work. That’s a long time to be stuck with ideas that find no outlet. Even when you’re working in a steep hierarchy, there are small ways to disrupt it, to make space for your contribution. One of the most hierarchical work cultures in the world is medicine. It’s well understood that medical school education contains a “hidden curriculum” that teaches a pecking order in which a senior doctor’s decision must always carry the day, even when it’s wrong. That long, difficult, expensive education, coupled with high pay and high stakes, puts doctors on a pedestal, but it’s dangerous for patients when a bad senior decision can trump a smart junior one. It is for that reason that checklists were invented.

During major operations, the adoption by major hospitals of simple checklists was found to reduce deaths and complications by more than one-third. In part, this was because they reminded often fatigued physicians of critical details. (They typically require that everyone know their colleagues’ names before a procedure begins; not a high degree of social capital but better than nothing.) But their true power lay in the fact that they disrupted hierarchy—it didn’t matter how junior or senior you were, the checklist prevailed. It’s not unusual for the responsibility of managing the checklist to be given to the most junior member of a team. This tiny mechanism—because it represented a schedule of agreed requirements—took the deeply entrenched, traditional power structures of a hospital and tossed them out the window.

Doctors developed the checklist with help from colleagues in the aviation industry, who in turn had inherited it from W. Edwards Deming, a statistician working in Japan in the 1950s. Focused primarily on manufacturing businesses, Deming argued that barriers between staff had to be removed, that fear should be driven out, and that annual rating or evaluation systems should be eliminated. The message Deming sought to convey was simple: No one should have to ask permission to take responsibility. Checklists enact that principle. Checklists take power from the few and disperse it among the many. They give each person a mandate.

Hacking Away

All companies have crises, moments when their ways of working no longer seem relevant or effective. Most companies respond in one of two ways. Either the CEO withdraws to figure out, usually alone or with just a few trusted subordinates, a whole new structure and vision that are then cascaded down the steep hierarchy. Or external consultants are bought in to craft a solution, in the hope that their objectivity (or ignorance) will impart fresh thinking to old problems. In both scenarios, a few exceptional beings are loaded with unwieldy hopes and expectations and routinely fail.

But nobody is committed to an organization like the people who work there. Every day they see things that could be done better—or not done at all. In the software industry, hackathons emerged as a process by which large numbers of programmers were brought in to collaborate furiously, over a short period of time, to design or improve new products or platforms. And that process is now used to address any kind of system. When John Lasseter, at Pixar, thought the company had become too unwieldy and expensive, he launched a hackathon to garner ideas that he now says revitalized the company. In 2011, the US government ran a hackathon to garner ideas for improving federal agencies. Similarly, schools have launched them to improve curriculum and scientists to bring different disciplines together. In Britain, local communities have created hackathons to determine the future of their towns. The goal is to focus as many minds as possible for a limited period of time on a specific issue, challenge, or problem. They’re fast, furious, and, in a strange way, fun.

It is critical that hackathons are structured, specific, and practical. Typically, they focus on a defined business problem, e.g., costs, use of time, culture. Groups work together—sometimes physically, sometimes virtually—to thrash out practical proposals that address the issue. Time is always limited and participants choose what to work on. Senior leaders may structure the hackathon but they don’t participate; the goal is an exuberant openness that allows ideas and insights to be traded fast and furiously. At the end of a day or two, each group presents practical proposals they are prepared to champion personally.

At the last hackathon I attended, an entire business unit stopped work for a day to work on itself. Before getting together, everyone had suggested topics and ideas, many of them posed as great questions: Why can’t we? What if we could? Each hour they changed groups until, by day’s end, they had tackled the same challenge from multiple angles with colleagues from all over the company—many of whom they had never spoken to before. What emerged was a broad and deep agenda for change: practical, original, with energy and commitment behind it. In a day, the organization went from grumpy, inchoate, and discontent to a revitalized sense of achievement and possibility.

Many companies—Pixar, Publicis, Grant Thornton, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, FactSet—use hackathons as a means of reaching deep into their organizations to find insight and ideas. They reduce internal rivalries and build trust between distant, sometimes competitive leaders. At their best, they bring together all the simple gifts of great organizations: diverse people with well-stocked minds working together in time and place, with the courage and confidence to disagree. What emerges? Not just solutions but the social capital to make them real.

And hackathons surface leaders. These aren’t identified by titles or status. They are the people who emerge from just cultures, thinking for themselves. Once you accept that everyone has gifts, leaders pop up everywhere. They don’t just get work done, they think about how it gets done, whether it needs to get done, and what would make it better. They think with others and say what they think, are prepared to listen and open to change. This is easier to do when you have a rich experience of life, the ability to hear, the time to concentrate, a well-stocked mind for reference, and the social capital to be heard. These kinds of leaders know that they succeed when they make others successful and that their shared success, the joy, vigor, and devotion it inspires, persists and is renewed beyond measure.


The alert reader may, by now, have identified some contradictions intrinsic to building a robust culture: you need rest but a well-stocked mind. Focus and attention are vital but so is getting out into the world and walking around. Expertise and knowledge matter but hierarchy is an impediment. You must learn to think for yourself but also with others. Speaking out is important but someone has to shut up and listen.

This book hasn’t provided a simple recipe for success; no five habits, six skills, or seven behaviors that guarantee instant achievement. And that is deliberate because business leadership is too complex, beset by too many contingencies, to be reduced to an instruction manual. Those who seek one grow in frustration; those who embrace the dynamic grow in themselves. Organizations are systems, not subject to silver bullets but responsive to just cultures that touch everyone. Recognizing that we need both noise and silence, time for reflection but also for action, the capacity to see the potential in every individual while building up our own store of knowledge, ultimately yields the adaptive minds that respond to change with vigor and integrity.

It’s easy to imagine—and some might hope—that all of this might soon become irrelevant. Algorithms are replacing much human labor and will eliminate more. They produce efficiencies but they don’t have ideas, they cannot respond with warmth and creativity to human needs, and they offer little in the way of social rewards. Eliminating friction is not the same as creating a rich experience. Far better to aim at making the most of what we cannot manufacture: human ingenuity and connection.

Alert minds might also have picked up the hint of a subtext: that while the small changes described here make a big impact on organizations, they equally impact families, networks, and communities of all kinds. Although I write primarily about business, I’ve never written only about business, because all the work that we do is in and of the world. Indeed, it is when business allows itself to become separate from the social environments in which it operates that real harm occurs. What we need is not a purely efficient division between two worlds but the mental flexibility to live across them. The relationship of business to society is one of the most pressing debates we face today and won’t be resolved unless we can accept that each contributes to, and needs, the other. If there is a winner in this debate, we will all be losers.

The aim of a human life is not one that is free of flaws and friction but one that enriches, and is enriched by, others. Similarly, the goal of a great career or organization isn’t the elimination of error but a relationship with the world that is renewable because it grows as it gives. And for that you need all the small things that life has to offer: silence and noise, action and reflection, focus and exploration, time, respect, errors, inventions, humility, and pride in the human capacity to think again.


One More Thing …

A Denver resort, seeking to motivate and inspire its customer service team, came up with a simple mechanism. After you’ve done what was required, ask yourself: What one more thing could I do to make these people happy? In one case, lost walkers were pointed in the right direction—but then also given some snacks and water to keep them going. In another case, a phone operator cataloged all the easy workarounds to recurrent problems. In every instance, employees found that they could always identify one more thing that would make a difference—and that thing was what they enjoyed most, because it was their idea.

So my one more thing is simply to ask: What small change made a big impact on your work? On your culture? Let your mind wander. You’ll find it. Then share it.


This book derives from so many relationships, mistakes, reflections, and research over so many years that were I to enumerate them all, the list might prove longer than the book itself. So I’ll restrict myself to thanking those who have most recently challenged and provoked my thinking. Chief among these have been the executives I work with all over the world. Watching the problems they confront; sharing the ambiguity, complexity, frustrations, and pleasures of their work is a perpetual privilege, and I’m grateful for the honesty and generosity that has characterized our work together. It has only confirmed my belief that people come into work seeking to make it better.

I’m grateful also to the mentors of Merryck & Co. who have so energetically supported my work and tolerated my often frustrating schedule. Their insights, experiences, and openness always inspire me and I’m lucky to have such a diverse range of warm and brilliant colleagues.

Many of the organizations I work with have been exceptionally open with me and for that I’m always grateful. In particular, I’d like to thank Severin Schwan, Silvia Ayyoubi, Margaret Greenleaf, and Dina Sabry Fivaz; every conversation we’ve had has given me food for thought. At the University of Bath, Veronica Hope-Hailey and Christos Pitelis have proved excellent challengers and colleagues. Footdown, the Academy of Chief Executives, Arup, and the King’s Fund likewise provided an open and honest forum in which to explore ideas, particularly the importance and power of social capital. At the BBC, I’m indebted to Hugh Levinson, Gemma Newby, and Helena Morrison for their help in investigating the concept of a just culture. Ben Alcott, Scilla Elworthy, Adam Grant, Verne Harnish, Peter Hawkins, Cathy James, Donald Low, and Maria Lepore have been terrific and generous thinking partners. For the very last idea in this book I’m indebted to Cindy Solomon, whose unvarnished insights into corporate life have always been original and bracing. Jenni Waugh showed great patience with people and ideas I hoped would prove fruitful, while Stephanie Cooper-Lande somehow managed to schedule my time so that I could write. And, as ever, I’m indebted to my agent Natasha Fairweather for making the solitary job of a writer not lonely.

This book would never have been written had it not been for the enthusiastic support and encouragement I’ve received from the formidable team at TED. In particular I’d like to thank Juliet Blake and June Cohen, whose advocacy for my work has meant more than I can repay. And in an age that often celebrates efficiency at the expense of dialogue, I would like to thank Michelle Quint, whose editorial instincts have always been smart and sharp.

Every book rides on the backs of the author’s family—and this one more than most. Why Lindsay, Felix, and Leonora tolerated the obliteration of their summer and many weekends I’ll never quite know but I hope they feel that, if these things can be measured, it was worth it. They can’t fail to know how much I owe them, not just in their patience but in their willingness to listen and to argue.

This book is dedicated to Pamela Merriam Esty, an extraordinary collaborator with the finest sense of zeitgeist I’ve ever encountered. Anything I know or think about creativity is measured against her gold standard, and being able to work with her has been one of the great joys of my working life.