Denver & McDermott talk at Leadercast

Rorke Denver, a former Navy SEAL Commander, interviewed SAP CEO Bill McDermott at Leadercast.  Here are some of Bill’s key quotes, with my commentary:

“It takes courage be a little better than you were yesterday.” – I don’t see any way to disagree with this sentiment.  And clearly, Bill’s effort to adopt this mantra helped inspire him (and others) to achieve remarkable results.

“Complexity and bureaucracy kills companies. Rethink your processes to make them simpler. Making things simple is actually the complex work of business.” – Well said.  As organizations grow, they tend to gain complexity AND bureaucracy.  Neither of these is well suited towards being competitive.  And in our increasing tech driven world, complexity is easier and easier to drift toward.

“Create a culture that values risk-taking not comfort.” – This is certainly a stellar goal, particularly for sales-driven organizations.  Growth doesn’t usually happen without some discomfort.

“Without a good strategy, good people will dig a ditch to nowhere.” – Strategy is the gain task of most organizations.  If the leaders are too focused on tactics, the vision won’t stay fresh.

“If you’re leading an organization, listen to the people. That’s where the answers
are.” – One of the hardest quotes on this list.  Especially in leadership, it can be easy to take on the expert role and lose that sense of curiosity that drives innovation.

“When we asked people in the company what they wanted, they wanted clear
vision and a holiday party. So we threw a holiday party and challenged them to
go from 64th place to the top of the market. Trust is the ultimate human currency.” – This anedote is from Bill’s time at Xerox, when he had to take over the worst performing group in the organization.  Losing the holiday party was symbolic of the group’s lack of perceived value to the company.  By adding that, Bill was able to show them he believed in them, which enabled them to produce for him.

“Do the thing your competition can’t do or won’t do.” – This is effective not just when you are doing, but also when you are positioning.  If you are small and best-of-breed, that is one story.  If you are large and able to provide an “end-to-end” solution, focus on sharing that narrative.

If you’d like to hear more from Bill and the other Leadercast speakers, you can order Leadercast Now via this link.  And please LCN156, which is our site code, when ordering.