Leaders Should NOT Get of the Way - Unpacking Leadership and Decision-Making with Sohrab Salimi

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Selda Schretzmann

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We're excited to share key takeaways from an enlightening presentation by Sohrab Salimi, delivered on September 14th, 2023. This talk was part of the Leading Complexity series, organized in collaboration with our respected partner, Crisp. The discussion offered a captivating look into the misconceptions and truths surrounding leadership in agile organizations.

In a world where the phrase "Leaders should get out of the way" is often thrown around, this session served as a much-needed reality check. Sohrab delved into how leaders can actually be the catalysts for change, empowering and inspiring teams to navigate the complexities of today's digital landscape.

In this blog post, we've crafted a comprehensive summary of the talk to give you a quick yet detailed overview of the key points. For those who wish to dive deeper into the subject matter, we've also posted the full video along with its transcript on this page.

So, without further ado, let's dive into the invaluable lessons from this enlightening talk.

Leadership Philosophy: A New Paradigm

Sohrab challenges the age-old notion that leaders should simply "get out of the way" and let their teams operate autonomously. Instead, he argues for a more engaged form of leadership. Drawing from his experiences as a medical doctor, he emphasizes that senior physicians often invest significant time in building the skills and competencies of their junior colleagues.

He also recounts a touching story about his daughter Luma, who, at just 5 years old, received a leadership certificate. This tale underscores the idea that true leaders not only provide support from behind but also take the initiative to lead from the front.

Decision-Making: More Than Just Choices

The talk delves into the complexities of decision-making, a subject often oversimplified. Using the example of buying a house, Sohrab outlines the myriad factors one must consider, from understanding interest rates to assessing loan amounts and collaterals.

He also touches upon his role as a parent, emphasizing that imparting competence is a long-term investment. Whether you're a leader in the boardroom or a parent at the dinner table, the time you invest in developing others' skills is never wasted.

Rethinking Management Structures

Traditional hierarchical structures in organizations are put under the microscope as Sohrab introduces an alternative model inspired by Netflix. Imagine an organization as a tree, where the CEO and their team are the roots, nourishing the organization and providing the necessary strategic context to guide decisions instead of making those decisions.

He concludes this section by referencing Andy Grove's seminal book, "High Output Management," asserting that training and competence development are not just tasks but essential responsibilities of any manager - even the CEO.

The Netflix Model: Informed Captains at the Helm

Sohrab introduces the concept of "informed captains" from Netflix's organizational model. He explains that employees should be equipped with context, competence, and courage to make better and faster decisions. 

He adds that while quick decision-making is often beneficial, some decisions require more time and deliberation, citing an example from the book "Working Backwards" by the two Amazon executives Colin Bryar and Bill Carr.

We hope you found this summary into Sohrab's talk as enlightening as we did. The session serves as a comprehensive guide to modern leadership philosophies, decision-making processes, and organizational structures. It's a reminder that conventional wisdom often needs to be challenged and that a nuanced perspective, enriched by diverse experiences, can offer invaluable insights.

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Transcript: Leaders Should Not Get Out of the Way Sohrab: My name is Sohrab Salimi. I'm the Founder and CEO of a company called Scrum Academy but we operate a platform for Agile train...

Transcript: Leaders Should Not Get Out of the Way

Sohrab: My name is Sohrab Salimi. I'm the Founder and CEO of a company called Scrum Academy but we operate a platform for Agile trainings which is then called Agile Academy. I know, a bit confusing. But there is not that many Sohrab Salimis out there so if you google me or search me on LinkedIn, you will definitely find me. And happy to connect with all of you if you wish to do so.

Now today's session...I'll jump right in, Tomas, right?

Tomas: Yes, please do. And also, we can say that it's recorded so it will be publicly shared later. And if you have any questions, please write them in chat and I will have a look there and ask them to you, Sohrab, when it's a good time.

Sohrab: Exactly. Exactly. We talked about this earlier and we decided that I run the full presentation first. Also, in order to get a proper recording so that people can watch it later without any interruptions. But we'll still value all of your questions so feel free to put them in the chat. And once I'm done, which will take around, I think, 35 to 45 minutes...and then we have plenty of time to listen to or respond to all the questions that you have.

As mentioned, my name is Sohrab and the session will be about not getting out of the way as a leader. And coming up with the session is based on my own upbringing to some extent and the first career that I had. I started out as a medical doctor. I studied both in Germany and in the U.S. And during med school, I experienced a few traits in really good leadership and I will talk about those things later throughout this session. But one thing was always consistent. These leaders, they didn't go out of their way. And the reason I brought this up is when I work with companies and as part of that also work with a lot of other Agile folks, it has happened a ton of times that people say, "Oh, leadership is easy. They just need to get out of the way." And I vehemently believe that this is not the right thing to do and that's why I'm dedicating this whole session to that particular topic.

But let's start with something else. And you will see I'm not going to present any slides. I will be using this flipchart behind me just to create some kind of other dynamic as you're probably usually used to when you're on a Zoom call. And what I want to start with is this here.

And the question I usually ask is what is the relationship between A, B and C. And those of you who have paid close attention in geometry 101, you need A squared plus B squared equals C square. That's easy. Now there are 371, at least 371 ways to prove that this Pythagoras Theorem is true. In math, we actually have absolute truth and that absolute truth is independent from context. If you take this and look at it on the Moon, it will still be true. If you look at it on Mars, it will still be truth. No matter where you are, in which context, A squared plus B squared always equals C squared if you have a shape that is exactly like this one.

Now why do I bring this up? Because if we look at management science, this involves people. And people are not some mathematical equation. And no matter whether we want these models, etc. that we proclaim to be true, they still are not true. At best, we can get to some patterns. And if we look at the scientific approach, one of the better ways to identifying patterns that work are through observation or probably it's the only way to identify those patterns through observation. When I, for the first time, heard that in Agile companies or highly innovative companies or in the best companies you can use whatever adjective you want in front of companies, there shouldn't be any managers, I got skeptical. I looked at some of the best companies that I know. And fortunately, I have friends at many of those companies and some of those companies are also really well documented. Companies like Apple, companies like Amazon, companies like Google.

All of these companies have one thing in common. They have management. You can replace the term by leadership but they have some kind of hierarchy within their organization. I know there are a few companies that are different. Let's take a look at [inaudible 00:09:33] They don't have this formal type of management. But at the same time, [inaudible 00:09:38] doesn't create anything at scale. Now we can look at a few other companies like Haier in China. We can look at VINCI in France. They also have some kind of new management structures that might be going forward better structures than currently some of the best companies have given Apple, Amazon and Google as examples. But those structures haven't been proven yet. And we still have to experiment whether those structures can work in different environments and whether this is actually a pattern or an anomaly in those organizations.

But even if those organizations like Haier with much less management layers would be the future of organizations, there is still the question who takes a current organization with its current structures, its current policies and its current metrics into that new world. And my response to that is also management.

The question is not do the best companies have management or not. The question is much rather how do managers or leaders in those organizations act on a daily basis. What do they spend their time on? How do they interact with people? How do they create value for the organization? And I want to spend this session talking about mainly two things where management from my perspective, where leaders from my perspective can add significant value. The first piece is being a catalyst for decision-making. And being a catalyst for decision-making does not mean, I'm going to state this right away, that you as a manager take all of the decisions. It could go this way but probably not the most sustainable way to do it. The second thing that I want to talk about is being a catalyst for change because I believe every organization out there needs to change. And probably change at a much higher frequency than most organizations are changing today.

We will look at those two things and you can already see being a catalyst for decision-making and being a catalyst for change means you cannot simply go out of the way so you will play an active role in that process. Let's look at decision-making first. And in order to do that, what I'm going to share with you are three stories, three stories that have helped me or that constantly help me understand how good decision-making happens. Because it's not only about taking fast decisions. It's really important to take good decisions at a faster pace. And in order to get through that, I will share the following three stories. The first one is about a client that I used to work with many years ago. It was a Swiss insurance company and that insurance company wanted to introduce Scrum, and I guess most of you are familiar with that kind of work, within their organization, particularly in their IT organization. Not the first one that wanted to do this.

Now as part of doing that, obviously, they needed to introduce the role of a product owner as this is one of the key roles within the Scrum framework. Now the senior leadership team consisting of the CEO, COO, CFO, etc. had no idea what Scrum and what the product owner were. My project sponsors asked me to give a brief session about Scrum as a framework to that executive team. Now whenever I teach Scrum as a framework...and there's a video out there if you're interested to learn more about it. I'm sure we can link it. I start with the three roles. And when I start with the three roles, I'll start with the role of the product owner. I introduce that role to the people and I immediately share with them that a product owner acts like an entrepreneur and has a lot of decision-making authority.

Now while I was talking about that, one of them raised their hands. And I asked them, "What kind of question do you have?" He's like, "I like that concept." I was like, "Oh, great. First buy-in." And then he went off with, "But..." I'm like, "Damn, there's always a but." And the but was about this is not going to work within our organization.

Now I mentioned to you earlier I have my background in medicine so I am naturally curious and I started to ask why going into diagnosis mode. And he said, "Because our product owners don't know where we want to go as an organization." I'm like, "Okay. Why?" He's like, "Because we don't share our strategy with them." I'm like, "Oh, okay. Why?" He's like, "Because we only share the strategy with the C level and one level below that and most product owners are not on that organizational hierarchy level yet." I'm like, "Okay. Why do you do that?" And he said, "Because we're afraid that if we share it broadly within the organization, the strategy might leak and we might not have a competitive advantage." I'm like, "Yeah. That's reasonable. That sounds logical. But now you have a decision to make. If you want your product owners to be good entrepreneurs, they need the strategic context because without this context, you're right. They won't be able to make good decisions. They will be able to make guesses but making good decisions, they won't be able to do that."

Either we share the strategic context and enable the product owners to basically make those better decisions or we keep the policy as is and then probably we have to wave goodbye to the role of product owners before we even get started.

Fortunately, they decided to change the policy and at least share the strategic context with the product owners. After several years, they took it even a step further because they realized how good it is to share that context so that people can make better decisions on a daily basis. As leaders, if we want to provide an environment where people can take better decisions faster, we need to provide them with the strategic context. At Netflix, and I will talk about Netflix in more detail a bit later, they usually refer to that lead with context, not control.

The second story that I want to share with you is about my son. My son is now nine years old. Three years ago, when the pandemic started, he was six years old. Easy math, nine minus three is six. Now back then suddenly everything had changed. And one of the good changes that had happened for me was that I didn't have to travel as much because prior to the pandemic, I was traveling basically every week. At the latest, every other week to clients, to deliver training or help them with my coaching. Now as I was staying at home, I also was not staying at hotels. Now the good thing about hotels, at least for me, was I would always get some ideas of what to do in terms of interior design. And I never stayed at the big chains. I always try to pick those tiny boutique hotels that had some special interior design and took some inspiration from that. Now that inspiration suddenly was gone. What I tried to do then was get this inspiration back. And what I started was looking at houses that were for sale in order to get a sense of, "Okay, how are these houses structured, when they were furnished, what kind of furnisher did they use, what kind of material did they use in their bathrooms and all of that."

I never intended to buy any of those houses. I just wanted to take a look and get some inspiration. On one of those visits, I took my son with me. And we were talking, we get to the gate, we ring the bell, the person opens the gate to the garden. And as we are talking, we move...we walk into the garden and my son immediately sees the swimming pool. Now at our old house, we don't have a swimming pool. The garden is just too small for that. And he looks at it and he's like, "Dad, wow, great. They have a swimming pool." And before I can respond, the door opens and the guy who owns the house walks out of the door. Without saying hello, my son immediately asks him, "How much?" The guy responds, "Three million euros." And my son says, "I'll buy it."

Now behind me there is a bunch of books and one of those books is by one of my mentors, Marty Cagan. It's called, "Empowered." I love the book. Anybody who is in a leadership position, especially in a product leadership position should read that book. But if you think about empowered product teams, empowerment first and foremost means giving people, individuals or a team the authority to take a decision. And I agree with the concept of empowerment in general. But in that particular situation, should I empower my son to take this decision? Of course not. It's a rhetorical question. Why? Because in addition to the context that he was missing, I was not intending to buy a house, he also lacked the competence to make such a decision. What do I mean by that? If you want to buy a house for that amount of money, you better know how interest rates work. Not only what the mechanics is but also what is a good interest rate compared to a bad interest rate. You would have to know how much of your own capital you have to provide and how much loan you can get from your bank. You would have to understand what you give to the bank as a collateral for that loan. You would have to understand so many other things. That's the competence that you need in order to make good decisions. And obviously, my six-year-old son, now nine-year-old son, he still lacks that competence.

My job on the other hand is at some point in the future, he will have to make these kinds of decisions for himself, for his family. Hopefully, never for me. But my job as a parent is to share this competence with him so that he will be in the position to make that decision.

Now summarizing two things. In order to make good decisions, we need context. Lead with context, not control. We also need competence. And when we think about competence and we think about different professions, sharing competence or helping people develop competence is one of the key aspects for many people in leadership positions in different professions. If you look at medicine, my first profession, what attending physicians do most of their time is building the competence in other people. If you look at experienced pilots, most of their time they are helping other pilots, less experienced, to develop that competence. If you look at many other professions like carpenters etc., the master's most important job is to develop the competence in the people that are starting to work in that profession.

Now what I always ask managers is to look at their calendars and see how much time are they spending on developing competence in other people be it the competence to write great code and there is ways to do that, be it the competence to be a great product manager, be it the competence to be staying in the Scrum framework a great Scrum master, be it the competence to do great marketing, whatever. How much of your time are you currently spending to help other people develop that competence? That's a question you can ask for yourself and at the end of this talk I will share again two, three things that you can do going forward right away after you leave from here.

Now the third story that I want to share with you is about my oldest daughter. Her name is Luma. Luma is now 11 years old but I remember exactly when she turned 5, she was already at preschool and she had earned a certificate for leadership. I don't even know who comes up with the idea to hand out certificates for leadership to a five-year-old kid. As a leadership trainer and coach, I was of course very proud of my daughter. Hey, my daughter...I'm a coach for leadership, she received a certificate for leadership. Now a few weeks after that we celebrated Luma's fifth birthday. At that birthday, we went into one of those places where you have a lot of slides and trampolines. A paradise for kids. And Luma and two of her friends, two other girls, they decided to walk up one of these slides the other way around. And my daughter was at the very end of this group. Two were in front of her. And the girl at the very front, she suddenly said, "I'm scared to continue." And my daughter was like, "Why? I've got your back."

Now think about this. Of course, the girl at the very front was scared to continue because if someone takes the slide the right way, that person will immediately bump into the girl that is at the very front. My daughter, the one with the leadership certificate at the very end, she will probably not even be hurt by that. But her response was, "I've got your back." Now probably you've heard leaders state that as well. Well, I've got your back. In many cases, that's great. In some cases, we don't need someone to have our back. We need someone to lead the way. We need someone to provide a safety net. We need someone that creates an environment in which we can be courageous. And that's the third C when it comes to decision-making.

When we think about leadership and the role that we play in catalyzing decision-making, we help people have the context. We help them develop the competence and we help them be courageous. Now to share with you one concrete model on this. When we look at most organizations, they are built like a pyramid. And remember at the very beginning I said most great organizations have multiple levels of management which is not necessarily bad. But if we believe in decision-making working like this that usually reports go up and they can go up into different levels and then decisions come down, we also realize that this kind of decision-making might result in good decisions because the ones at the very top have all the context, have the competence in many cases...in some cases they don't. And also have the courage but it is definitely slow. And if businesses are facing a situation or an environment where they need to innovate faster, it usually also means they need to decide faster. Because in many organizations, the pace of decision-making ultimately determines the pace of value creation, the time not only to market but also the time to impact.

What we want is faster decision-making. I mentioned Netflix earlier. The model that Netflix created...and it's covered in one of the great books that was written two, three years ago, "No Rules Rules" by Netflix cofounder, Reed Hastings and professor Erin Meyer from INSEAD is that they replace their old model. Instead of a pyramid, they think of it as a tree. Now I always joke. The CEO is at the bottom but they're not being buried. The CEO and their team, they are the roots. And what do the roots provide? They provide the tree with the nourishments that the tree needs in order to grow. We have the SVPs and VPs etc. that transport all of that through the trunk. And now up here we have the individual contributors and we have the teams. In contrast to this model, these people are getting all the context from the organization. What is our mission, where do we want to go, where to play and how to win if you want to refer to Roger Martin. All of that they get. They also get the context from customers and partners and competitors and all of that. And with that context, they are already one step closer to being good decisionmakers.

Now Netflix refers to these people as informed captains. Informed is all about the context piece. Captains refers to two things. Usually, a captain has a certain level of competence and secondly, a captain should be courageous. Looking again at the model that we created, context, competence and courage help teams and individuals at Netflix to be faster decisionmakers and better decisionmakers.

Now there's one thing that I want to add. Not every decision needs to be taken quickly. For some decisions it is okay to spend a bit more time. Why? Because one would like to increase the chance of making a better decision. There is one example provided in the book, "Working Backwards" from two Amazon executives, Colin Bryar and Bill Carr and I was very fortunate to interview Colin twice. And at Amazon, they refer to this concept as type one and type two decision-making. Type one decisions are all of those decisions that are not easily reversible. It's like a door. If you walk through it, you can't walk back. Now I always joke. In medicine, it would be those situations where the patient is dead. No way to reverse it. Fortunately, in business, there is nothing as extreme as the patient is dead. Almost everything is reversible but it depends on the cost of how reversible things are.

At Amazon, one of those irreversible decisions or type one decisions is where you build the next fulfillment center. Those things are billion-dollar investments. And once you've started building it, you probably don't want to go and say, "Ah, we picked the wrong location. It should've been 100 kilometers further north, south, whatever." Those decisions, you deliberately take the time. You might even escalate them to higher levels of management. But for all of those easier reversible decisions, the type two decisions where you go through the door. If you don't like it, you move back. Those decisions you would want to decentralize as much as possible. For those, you would want to have this model where informed captains can take decisions quickly and run experiments based on those. And once you learn whether a decision was right, you continue. If you learn if it was the wrong decision, you reverse it back.

In reality what you want in your organization is to have both of these, type one and type two decisions. But in order to be a true catalyst for decision-making, and that's one of the roles that leaders play for me, you have to try to create an organization where more and more decisions can become type two decisions. How? If you look at software, many, many years ago, maybe even today for some organizations, it took a lot of effort to make a deployment, to take a piece of software that was just developed into a live or production system so that customers can actually use it. One of our clients used to do this only once a year. Why? Because it cost them around 100,000 euros. That was many years ago.

Now deployment doesn't have to be a type one decision where everybody freaks out when things are going live. In one of his videos, Henrik Kniberg who also worked with Tomas at Crisp, he says, "If it is scary, you should do it more often because then you have smaller pieces going live and the chance of things going wrong or the risk is much lower." Now when you create that kind of infrastructure, a CICD pipeline or whatever, you help an organization take something that used to be a type one decision and make it a type two decision. And with that change, you can move to more and more decentralized and faster decision-making.

Now this is the segue to organizational change. You remember I mentioned two things where I believe managers can add significant value. The first one being a catalyst for decision-making. The second one, be a catalyst for change within the organization. Now when we look at change in the organization, it's almost always about cultural change. No matter whether it's a digital transformation, an Agile transformation, a lean transformation, whatever adjective you want to use, at the end of the day, it's a cultural transformation so that the organization can achieve new and better outcomes. We always want the business transformation. We want an organization that had bad business models or dying business models to basically be rejuvenated and identify new ways of creating value for customers and value for their shareholders. And if you think about culture, one of the better definitions that I have come to is from Edgar Schein, "Culture is how we do things around here." Or as Tom Peters puts it even more extreme and he's known for being a bit extreme, "Culture is the next five minutes."

And with this culture being how we do things around here or culture being the next five minutes, I believe it gives incredible power or agency to managers in organizations, to anybody who wants to actually contribute to that organization acting differently and then also achieving different outcomes. And if you look at some of the most transformative business transformation or most interesting business transformations of the past two to three decades, companies like Apple come to mind. Today we forget that when Steve Jobs got back to Apple, it was 90 days away from bankruptcy. It basically had only one of the existing business models in place which was the Mac. The iPhone, the iPad, the cloud...none of that existed back then. All of that happened within the past 25, 26 years. And what did they do? They changed structures, they changed policies, they changed metrics. And I'll dive into those things a bit later.

Same happened at Microsoft. Microsoft never had the risk of going into bankruptcy but they missed out on a lot of the big trends in digital services. They missed out more or less on the internet. Yeah, they killed Netscape by building in their internet explorer but they never created some kind of internet-based business model. They missed out on social. They lost all of that to Meta. They missed out on search. Now their Bing platform is doing better than in the past but Google still owns around 90% of the market. And they missed out on mobile. They were close to missing out on cloud as well.

Now lucky for them, they had one of their cloud leaders, Satya Nadella, become the CEO of the organization. And if you're interested in how he transformed that organization, read the book, "Hit Refresh". But long story short, he started by focusing on culture. And it all started with how that executive team started to differently work with each other. Again, culture is how we do things around here. And the last one, maybe quickly mentioned, Netflix. They have been through a tremendous business transformation moving from a DVD renter by mail to streaming to creating their own content and doing this on a global scale in multiple different countries around the world.

Now what they all have in common is that from day one or from the day of that transformation starting had an intense focus on what to do differently in those organizations. And when I work with leaders, I usually want them to look at one tool and one tool only. And it's such a simple tool from Steven Covey, the circles of control and influence. I guess most of you are familiar with it but just in case you're not, this inner circle is about all the things that we can control, where we can take direct decisions about. It is within our realm of control. This one is the one that we can influence but we cannot directly control. And I will provide some examples around that. And then out of here, there's a ton of stuff that we can neither control nor influence. For example, the weather.

But if you think about organizational change, sorry, it happens usually on three levels. On the individual level, on the team level and on the org level or the team of teams level. And you can also apply three different levers. You can change the structures within an organization. You can change the policies within an organization and you can change the metrics that we look at with regards to success or basically failure.

On an individual level, I already mentioned the power of enablement. Don't underestimate how much change you can initiate just by enabling other people to do things that they could not do before or creating the environment where they can be enabled to do those things.

On a team level, there's a ton of stuff that leaders can do in order to change the team dynamics. All of those assessments that are out there from Patrick Lencioni and others, they are helpful tools to understand where a team struggles and then help that team make the appropriate adjustments and get better continuously.

On an org level, I want to explore a bit more these three levers of structures, policies and metrics. Now when we think about an Agile transformation, it usually includes setting up teams differently. Instead of teams being in different silos, development, design, quality assurance, product management, we want cross functional teams. That in itself is a structural change. Another structural change would be how do we align those teams. Do we give them a project to work on? Do we give them a product to develop or do we give them a customer segment so that they can solve the problems for them? Marty Cagan refers to this as don't give them features to build. Give them problems to solve. That again is a structural change. And doing those structural changes is within the circle of control of managers within an organization. It's not influence. It's control.

But through that control, through that structural change, you can influence the teams being more customer centric or as Amazon refers to that, customer obsessed. You can influence the teams becoming more collaborative which is again a behavior that could be a result of cross functional teams. Let's look at policies. Many organizations have a large number of policies. One of my close friends is the chief compliance officer at a big pharmaceutical company and he shared with me that at his company there are around 200,000, 200,000 policies. Now he realizes as the chief compliance officer that this number of policies basically kills innovation. Why? Because whenever teams want to do something new, they first have to see whether they are violating any of these policies and whether they are in compliance with whatever the company wants them to be.

Now one of his tasks is to look at policies that are no longer relevant. Why? Because most organizations, when they create policies, they never put an expiration date on them and they don't have a group of people that regularly visits all the policies to check whether they are sane or not. He has made it his personal mission with his team to go through these policies and evaluate which of them are still relevant and which are not.

But even within those that are relevant, sometimes making an adjustment could be the difference between a product succeeding and not. When I was working with a group of people at MAN building their first ever electric truck and at the same time, experimenting with Agile ways of working, one of the challenges we faced was we only had 18 months due to an exhibition for a product development effort that usually takes at least 4 years. And these four years are actually put in stone within the Volkswagen group of companies. It's called the PEP 48. PEP standing in German for Produkt-Entwicklungs-Prozess and then 48 because it takes 48 months. Now if you only have 18 months, by definition you cannot be compliant with the PEP 48. Now again going back to circle of control and influence, we were not allowed to change the PEP by ourselves. But we could talk to the person who was in charge of the PEP. And as he knew what our constraints were in terms of time and how important that strategic initiative was for the organization...think about leading with context, not control. We could influence him to make the proper adjustments together with us on the PEP and that was one of the enablers for us as a team to ultimately be able to deliver the truck on time on that exhibition and still be compliant with the PEP.

Now the third lever is metrics. Most organizations rightfully so measure metrics like revenue, costs, profits, all of that. Maybe even by product line. But one organization...and maybe there's more out there but one is really well documented, 3M. 3M started as a mining company in Minnesota more than 100 years ago. Today 3M, I don't think they do any mining. They have healthcare services. They have stuff for the automotive industry. They do a ton of new things. One of the key enablers at 3M in addition to their policy of having a 20% time. Not invented by Google. Invented by 3M, is a metric that they measure which is the percentage of revenue they make from products and services that were developed or brought to market within the past five years. And they connect this with a policy that it should be at least, if I remember correctly, 20%. Now think about what that does. That metric that is within the control of management to set what kind of influence it has.

If you're a manager, you definitely start prioritizing innovation projects. And by prioritizing I don't mean giving that innovation project on top of everything else that your team has to cover and say, "I also work on this." No. You tell them specifically to put a lot of resources on this because if you don't prioritize R&D and innovative projects, you're not going to have any products to move into market so that they can contribute to that metric.

Now once those products and services are developed, you also support the go-to market strategy of those products and services. And you're not that afraid that you cannibalize some of your other products and services because as an organization, you have prioritized the new over the old. And I was lucky enough to work with some of the biggest telco companies in Germany and interestingly all of them had something similar to WhatsApp long before WhatsApp existed. But those products never saw the light of day. Why? Because they were so scared they would cannibalize one of their cash cows being the SMS. We all know WhatsApp still got developed by someone else and all of the cash was still burnt. They lost their cash cows but they are not taking any of those advantages with them.

Many organizations realized that you have to prioritize the new over the old. And you can do this by metrics that are smart to create the right incentives and influence then the right behavior.

To summarize, as leaders, there is so much work to do when we want to create a better version of today's organizations. No matter whether it's about decision-making where we need to create the context, provide competence or support the development of competence and help people be courageous. There is a job for us as leaders to do. And in terms of changing the organizations, even if it is to organizations that might end up much flatter than your current organization...and I still doubt whether this will be the model for all but even if that's the case, this whole transformation needs to be managed. It needs to be managed by people that work on the individual, the team and the org level and that use the levers of structures, policies and metrics to make the organizations fit for the future and also the people that work within those organizations.

Thanks for taking the time and listening to me. I have one thing that I want to close with. I almost forgot. Because whenever I talk about enablement, a lot of people say, "Yeah, Sohrab. It sounds really good and we know that it works in medicine and in aviation. But honestly, in business, we haven't seen a lot of people do that." Now one of the best CEOs of all time is called Andy Grove. Andy Grove was one of the cofounders and then later CEO of Intel. And Andy Grove wrote multiple books. One of his books is called "High Output Management". For me, one of those management classics that every person should read. In that book he dedicates his final chapter, chapter 16 to the question why training is the boss's job. In order to close this session, I want to read not the full section, don't worry, but just three quarters of a page from that section to you.

For the already overscheduled manager, the trickier issue may be who should do the training. Most managers seem to feel that training employees is a job that should be left to others. Perhaps to training specialists, people like Tomas and myself. I on the other hand strongly believe that the manager should do it himself. Let me explain why beginning with what I believe is the most basic definition of what managers are supposed to produce. In my view, a manager's output is the output of his organization. No more, no less. A manager's own productivity thus depends on eliciting more output from his team. A manager generally has two ways to raise the level of individual performance of his subordinates. One, by increasing motivation, the desire of each person to do his job well and two, by increasing individual capability which is where training comes in. It is generally accepted that motivating employees is a key task of all managers. One that can't be delegated to someone else. Why shouldn't the same be true for the other principal means at a manager's disposal for increasing output? Training is quite simply one of the highest leveraged activities a manager can perform.

With that said, again, thanks so much for listening. I'm all here for questions. Handing over to you Tomas.