Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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One Compelling Question for Innovators

Guest post by David Sturt for Lead on Purpose blog

I recently came across a story in Wired magazine about a radically new technology being developed for heating and cooling. Aside from the exciting product idea to heat and cool a person rather than a place, I was intrigued by this statement about how the idea germinated:

At a point when humans need to take a sober look at our energy use, we’re poised to use a devastating amount of it keeping our homes and offices at the right temperatures in years to come. A team of students at MIT, however, is busy working on a prototype device that could eliminate much of that demand, and they’re doing it by asking one compelling question: “Why not just heat and cool our bodies instead?” (emphasis added).

Asking the right question is one of five key skills that predict great work, as identified from a sample of 1.7 million instances of award-winning work. Continue reading


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Book Review: Find Your Great Work

Find Your Great Work“No one ever says: ‘My life’s just too interesting, too stimulating, too provocative, too fulfilling, too engaging…'” All things we do fit into three categories:

  • Bad work: A waste of time, energy and life. Doing it once is one time too many.
  • Good work: The familiar, useful, productive work you do and do well.
  • Great work: The work that matters, inspires, stretches and provokes.

Michael Bungay Stanier offers excellent tidbits of wisdom in his book Find Your Great Work. The book is written in an accessible format to illustrate that many great ideas were born on a napkin; it is about the size of a common napkin and has notes and illustrations drawn on napkins. The author uses maps to demonstrate how to find your great work, understand it and pursue it. He starts by stating five foundational principles:

  • #1: Things only get interesting when you take full responsibility for the choices you make.
  • #2: Changing your focus changes what’s possible.
  • #3: You need to make two choices: what will you say yes to? And what will you say no to?
  • #4: To do great work you must be willing to take a stand, ruffle a few feathers and reset an expectation or three.
  • #5: Great work is not a solo act. You need to welcome others on your journey.

After establishing the foundational principles, Mr. Stanier sets you on the path to finding great work by showing 12 maps. The first three help you figure your Greatness and clarify where you are now. The next three look at the choices you need to make and help you better weigh those choices. The next set of three helps you understand what possibilities you have before you, some of which you already know and some of which you do not. And the final cluster of three moves you to action, taking the next step forward towards your great work. Each map is illustrated in a simple format in which you can insert your own experience and information and it will lead you to understand and develop your work from — good to great.

The world is full of good work. If you want to make a significant contribution, you need to do great work. Finding Your Great Work is an excellent guidebook to help you move in that direction.