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雑誌ファースト・カンパニーの共同創立者アラン・ウェバーの新著が本日発売されました。英語のタイトルは Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business without Losing YourselfRules of Thumbの直訳は親指の法則ですが、通常、経験則と訳されます。オンラインで検索するとgoo辞書には語源に関して、下記の解説が出ていました。

Rule of Thumb: 経験則{けいけんそく}、経験{けいけん}に基づいて得られた法則{ほうそく}◆ 【語源説-1】大人の親指(thumb)の関節間の長さが約1インチであるため、大まかに長さを測るときに用いられた。◆【語源説-2】昔、ビールの醸造業者がビールの温度を測る際に、親指をチョットつけてみた。この方法は衛生的でなく、温度計ほど正確でもない。しかし、醸造業者の長い経験に基づいたものであるから、それなりに正確である。

副題は「自分を失わずにビジネスで勝つための52の真実」。。。。。ハーバード・ビジネス・レビューの編集者を経て、45才のときにパートナーとイノベーション、起業家論をテーマとした新しいタイプの雑誌ファースト・カンパニーを立ち上げたアラン。新著には約40年間にわたるキャリアから導き出した52の「智恵」が満載されています。

明日22日、当協会で行われる新著の出版記念講演会に先立ち、3月で行われたオンライン・インタビュー(英語ブログ)の一部日本語にしました。

Q:このような本を書くことになった動機を教えてください。昨年秋の金融危機以来、今までのビジネスの経験則が全く通用しなくなっている中で今回の本は非常に良いタイミングで出版される気がしますが。。。。

A:この本を書くことになったのは、ほとんど偶然の産物で少しだけ先見の明があったと言えるかもしれません。一年ほど前に大企業のCEOと重役50人を前にスピーチをしたときに、プログラムの最後にCEOが出席者全員に「今の米国で道徳的権限を持っている人は誰か?」と問いかけました。そこで皆シーンと静まり返ってしまったのです。きっとみんな頭の中でデータ検索をしてビジネスの世界、政府、宗教で一体だれが当てはまるか考えたと思うのですが、だれの名前もでてこなかったのです。そのときに私は、明晰なものの考え方や、究極的には仕事と生きるための新しいルールを生み出すための源が必要だと思ったのです。そう思った途端に私は、過去30数年にわたり - オレゴン州ポートランドで働いていた時代、ハーバード・ビジネス・レビューやファーストカンパニー誌時代、そして今わたしは自称「グローバルな探偵」として活動しているのですが - 貯めてきた記事、スピーチ原稿、エッセーが詰まっているファイルを見直しはじめました。そして私は今までに出会った卓越した人々と一緒に働き学んだことをまとめあげ、この本にしたのです。「経験則」がこの本のバックボーンとなっています。この時代が来るのをなんとなく予測していてこの本が生まれたという言い方もありますし、このような時代だからこそこの本が生まれたともいえます。

Q:ポスト情報化時代では、コンテンツではなくコンテクスト(文脈)の方が重要であるといっていますが、一方で新しいリアリティは新しいカテゴリーを必要していると書いてあります。過去数ヶ月の間に、世界経済が突然大きく変容し、コンテクストが変わってしまいましたが、このことがイノベーションや新しい価値の創出にはどのように影響を与えるのでしょうか?

A:過去30年を振りかえっても、米国そして世界でこれほど対話が求められている時代はないかと思います。旅行をすると、-一番最近では私はデンマークを訪れたのですが-人々が、昔からの問題をどのような新しい方法で解決できるかを話したがっているかがよくわかります。今までのやり方には制限されない方法により問題を解決しようと思っているのです。今ビジネス・イノベーションの世界では、また、ソーシャル・イノベーションの世界でもいえるかと思いますが、新しい方法で働き、生き、人生の意味を見出そうとしている動きがでてきていると思います。

Q: 経験則41では、「もしも本当のリーダーになりたいのであれば、本気でリーダーになることに取り組め!」とありますが、今日のリーダーに一番欠けている重要な素質は何ですか?

A:過去30年の間で、私のビジネス関係のメディアに対しての批判というのは、特にビジネスの世界で、偽りのイメージのリーダーを崇拝する傾向をつくった点です。有名人と同等に扱うような文化が生まれてしまったのです。もしもCEOが権力を持ち、お金持ちになり、有名になれば、それで十分だという考え方です。私がいままで一緒に仕事をしてきて一番印象に残っているリーダー達は、名声には全然興味がありませんした。彼らは、まず第一に自分たちの部下、次に組織、そして果たそうとしている使命に対して非常に忠実です。人生の中で私達は、自分のことしか考えていないリーダーと、協力してともに働こうというリーダーの違いを目の当たりにします。特に、金融危機(そしてこの金融危機は、名声とお金しかないリーダーのせいで起きたともいえます)と、世界的な社会・環境問題から同時に回復しようとしている中で、私達は全く違ったスタイルのリーダーを受け入れる必要があります。私は新著の中で、途方もないナルシストではなく、強力でしかも健康的なエゴをもったリーダーについて書きました。すべての問いに対する答えを持っていると思っているリーダーではなく、正しい質問を聞く術を持っているリーダー達です。自分がどんな集まりの中でも、自分が一番頭がいいと思っているのではなく、才能のあるチーム・メートをまとめ上げる力を持っているリーダーです。私達は往々にして、自分の最大の才能を引きだすことができるリーダーと、肩書きだけはあるのに、ちっとも正しい仕事ができないリーダーの両方のタイプのために仕事をしたことがあるかと思います。

Q私の好きな経験則は50番の「上昇線のときには、自分の強みに注意を払い、下降線のときには弱点に注意を払う。」このことは人、企業、産業、国すべてに当てはまることができるかと思います。現在の米国経済を鑑みて、オバマ大統領にはどんなアドバイスがありますか?

A:オバマ大統領にアドバイスを聞かれていないのですが、彼はコミュニティ・オーガナイザーのときにこの経験則についてはすでに学んでいるかと思います。コミュニティ・オーガナイザーというのは、自分よりも巨大で、資金力があって、強い敵対者の強みを逆手にとった政治的柔術の使い方を学びます。ですからオバマが米国の問題を解決するために国民に伝えていることは、昔からの価値を思い出させることです。自分の行動に責任を取り、真実を語り、憲法と法を遵守する。そのような米国の強みが無視され、あるいは輝きがなくなってしまい、弱みになってしまったと信じている人々がオバマ大統領のメッセージに共鳴するのは、本来の米国のあり方を思い出させるからです。国であろうと会社であろうと、自分たちの価値を知ることは、再建のためにとても重要なことです。物事を変える余地があるかないかを知ることが大事なのです。というのは、核の部分というのは変えることができません。書き直すことができないルールというのはあるのです。しかし残りの部分つまり問題解決の方法、新しい政策の立案、新しい製品やサービスの開発、物事が先に進むためのルールといったことは議論の余地があるのです。

アランの英文でのインタビューはまだ続きます。続きは、折をみて日本語に訳す予定です。アランの話はとっても面白いので明日の講演会が楽しみです! (Fumiko)

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While I have been diligently twittering away, I have not been such a good blogger. From the tweet I read, I found out Acumen Fund just celebrated its 8th anniversary today! Congratulations! Jacqueline Novogratz was doing a book reading and signing at Tribeca last night. I dropped by to see how it was. There were about 80-90 people in the crowd. I have probably heard her speak more than 10 times, but I am always so impressed by her ability to speak in an articulate and inspiring manner. I am looking forward to her lecture here at JS in May. Prior to that, Alan Webber will be returning to JS on April 22 to speak about his new book Rules of Thumb – 52 truths of winning business without losing yourself – . He is another great speaker, who is a lot of fun and very insightful at the same time. I enjoyed reading his book! Hopefully it will be translated into Japanese. In a couple of weeks, my coworker Betty will be going to Tokyo to organize an exchange titled “Learning from Disaster: Miyakejima and New Orleans”. This is a second part of an exchange program that started last April. Miyakejima is an island about 110 miles off the coast of Tokyo. This small island with several thousand residents has an active volcano. In 2000, the volcano erupted and all residents needed to evacuate. In 2005, after 4 years and 5 months, the residents were allowed to return to their home. A group of people, who were involved with the relief and recovery effort at Miyakejima went to New Orleans last April to meet with like-minded people who are rebuilding the post-Katrina community as members and leaders of the local government and non-profit organizations. The exchange was started as a way to learn from each other’s experience and share wisdom. In turn, this April, a total of 16 Americans including observers, will be visiting Tokyo. Some of them are planning to visit Miyakejima, which is mainly accessible by a ferry. (There are flights, which get canceled frequently due to precarious weather conditions.) There will be a public symposium on April 18 at Meiji University. The outcome of this exchange will be published as a book in Japanese and English. (Fumiko)

New Orleans April 2008

New Orleans April 2008

@Ashe Cultural Center April 2008

@Ashe Cultural Center April 2008

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april_22_pic1U.S.-Japan Innovators Network Lecture
Wednesday, April 22, 6:30 PM @ Japan Society

* Rule #14 You don’t know if you don’t go.
* Rule #23 Keep two lists: What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?
* Rule #37 All money is not created equal.
* Rule #45 Failure isn’t failing, failure is failing to try.

In his new book, Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business without Losing Yourself, Alan Webber stimulates, inspires, challenges and helps us understand what makes for a life well-lived and work well-done. Co-Founder of Fast Company magazine, award-winning business journalist and a member of the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, Mr. Webber reflects on 40 years of experience as observer, participant and agent provocateur, illuminating 52 rules of thumb on what it takes to innovate and lead in these extraordinary times. Whether you’re a social entrepreneur, a start-up, an established business leader or just plain curious about how to make the most of your life in these crazy times, 52 Rules of Thumb is the book for you.

Followed by a book signing and reception.

Tickets
$10/$8 Japan Society members/$5 students & seniors

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. – Fri. 11 am – 6 pm, Weekends 11 am – 5 pm.

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97800617218303In his new book, Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business without Losing Yourself, Alan Webber stimulates, inspires, challenges and helps us understand what makes for a life well-lived and work well-done.

Reflecting 40 years of experience as observer, participant and agent provocateur, Alan has gathered 52 gems of wisdom on how to lead and innovate in these extraordinary times.

I recently caught up with Alan in cyberspace to talk with him about his new book.

Q: It seems your book is well timed, as it’s abundantly clear the old rules of thumb for business are no longer working.  Inspirational serendipity or calculated marketing?

A: Mostly serendipity–with a dash of foresight. The idea for the book began with a talk I gave a little more than a year ago to the CEO and top 50 executives of a large company. At the end of the formal program, the CEO asked his team, “Who in the United States has moral authority?” There was a long uninterrupted silence. You could see people going through their mental Rolodexes: who in business? who in government? who in organized religion? No one came up with a name. It made me reflect on how much we need new sources of clear thinking–and how, ultimately, we are all going to have to generate our own new rules for work and life. That realization sent me back to my files where I’ve kept articles, speeches, and essays that I’ve written over the last 30-plus years–working in Portland, Oregon, at the Harvard Business Review, at Fast Company, and more recently as a self-defined “global detective.” I was able to crystallize a set of rules that I’d learned from a remarkable group of men and women with whom I’d worked. Those rules form the backbone of Rules of Thumb. So you could say that I saw this current disconnect coming–or you could say that I’m a product of it. Both are true.

Q: You talk a lot about context trumping content in the post-information age. You also say new realities demand new categories. How do you think sudden shifts in context we’ve had in the global economy over the last year will play out in driving innovation and creating new value?

A: I can’t remember a time in the last 30 years when the United States and the world are as ready for a new conversation. Where ever I travel–most recently to Denmark–people are eager to talk about new ways of solving old problems. They’re looking for solutions that aren’t confined to our old categories. In fact, many people agree with my statement in the book that our old categories often allow the problems to persist: the problems have learned how to live in the cracks of our categories. None of this will be easy; old habits, including habits of mind, die hard. But I think you can find examples around the world of business innovation–and perhaps more important, social innovation–that will produce fresh ways for people to work, live, and find meaning in their lives.

Q: You mention books like “In Search of Excellence” (1982) by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, and “Good to Great” (2001) by Jim Collins. If business leaders have been keen to read these books and hear these people speak, why don’t they seem able to follow their advice?

A: I know plenty of business leaders (and leaders in government and non-profit organizations) who take very seriously the good ideas presented by these two books and many others that offer advice and counsel to people trying to lead their institutions. But inspiration is easier than application: as you know from my book, one of the rules is “Knowin’ it ain’t the same as doin’ it.” Reading advice and following it are two entirely different things. That’s one of the reasons I structured RULES the way I did. I believe that change comes from within–from things we come to terms with as individuals, whether in business or daily life. By sharing some of my own experiences, describing the lessons they’ve taught me, and suggesting that everyone of us is capable of paying attention to the people we meet, the experiences we have, and the rules we learn, I hope to provoke readers to become both committed learners and their own best teachers. Once you embrace something that you’ve discovered yourself, you’re much more likely to apply it.

Q: Rule #41 says “If you want to be a real leader, first get real about leadership.” What are the most important qualities of leadership that are lacking in leaders today?

A: One of my criticisms of the business press for the last 30 years is that it tends to worship at false images of leadership, especially in business. We’ve become a culture of celebrity. If a CEO gets big enough, rich enough, and famous enough to qualify as a leader, that’s enough! The leaders I’ve worked with and who I admire most were never motivated by fame or celebrity. Their first allegiance was to the people they were leading, to the organization they all were part of, and to the mission they were trying to achieve. We all know the difference in our own lives between working for a leader who’s all about themselves and a leader who’s all about the work we’re doing together. Particularly as we simultaneously try to recover from this devastating economic collapse (caused in large part, I would argue, by the first kind of leader, the ones who were only out for the glory and the money) and to solve pressing national and global social and environmental problems, we need to embrace a different style of leadership. (By the way, I’m promoting a new national “day”: Celebrity-Free News Day, I call it. Imagine a day when the news wouldn’t have a single celebrity story! Who’s with me on this?) In RULES I write about leaders who have strong and healthy egos, but who aren’t raging narcissists–who know how to check their egos at the door. Leaders who know how to ask the right questions, rather than assuming that they have all the answers. Leaders who bring together a talented team, rather than presuming to be the smartest person in the room–in any room! I think we’ve all worked with leaders who know how to bring out the best we have to offer, and leaders who have the title but not the feel for doing the job the right way.

Q: One of my favorite rules is #50: “On the way up pay attention to your strengths; they’ll be your weaknesses on the way down”. You say this can be true of people, companies, industries, – even nation states. Given the current state of the U.S. economy, what advice do you have for President Obama?

A: Well, so far President Obama hasn’t asked for my advice! But I suspect he may have already learned this rule from his work as a community organizer, in part: one thing community organizers learn how to do is to practice the art of political ju-jitsu where you use the strengths of your larger, richer, stronger opponent against them. That may be why so much of his communication about solving America’s problems focuses on reminding us of our time-honored values: taking responsibility for our actions, telling the truth and respecting the rule of law and the Constitution. For those who believe that we’ve allowed our strengths to become weaknesses by ignoring them or allowing them to lose their luster, part of President Obama’s message that resonates is a reminder of what America has traditionally stood for. Whether you’re a country or a company, knowing your values is a critical place to start any re-building process. You have to know what is negotiable, and what is not. The core isn’t negotiable–those are rules that don’t get re-written. The rest–how to solve problems, create new policies, develop new products and services, and the rules that can help you do those things–all that is up for debate.

Q: Rule #28 states: “Great design wins.”  How does design relate to quality and making things work?

A: Great design has to work or it isn’t design, it’s just decoration! It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the design of a product or service design, winning in the world of competition means using design not only to delight the eye or enhance the experience but also to produce genuine quality and outcomes that work. One company I mention in RULES is OXO, one of the best designers of kitchen products. Their stuff looks great and has excellent quality–but they begin their designs by looking for ways to make something as mundane as a vegetable peeler flat out work better. Fit your hand better, clean easier, and peel better. By the way, one tip I heard in Denmark on my last trip–and the Danes, like the Japanese, think they’ll compete in the future on the quality of their design–is to be aware of service design. As services become a larger and larger part of the economy, we need to be applying the rules of design to the service sector. The companies that do it sooner and better will gain real advantages with customers, who care about their service quality as much, or more, as they do about product quality.

Q: In rule #5 you state: “Change is a math formula.” In other words, change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change. Do you think we’ve reached that point in history on a global scale?

A: No question about it. All over the world in my travels, I encounter people who are willing to try new things. They see the status quo as an impediment to innovation and the search for solutions that work to address problems that matter. At the same time, we’re all still human–and with that comes an attachment to the ways of working and living that we’ve grown comfortable with. Letting go is still hard. But as the severity of our problems increases and the inability of existing institutions and categories to produce viable results becomes more apparent people are looking for new directions and new approaches. I don’t want to pretend that change is fun and easy. But there comes a time when you have to let go of whatever you’re clutching–because it’s an impediment to finding something better. You can see this happening in a wide variety of issues and problems, public and private, around the world. I just read a quote from Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman and CEO of SONY, who said, “What this recession has done is expose the weaknesses in our system that we didn’t want really to admit.” That’s the cost of the status quo suddenly being greater than the risk of change.

Q: Throughout your book, you stress the importance of passion and loving what you do. In rule #39 you talk about how “serious fun” isn’t an oxymoron; rather, it’s how to win. And rule #1 Rule dictates that “When the going gets tough, the tough relax”. How do you teach attitude?

A: This takes us back to your earlier question about leadership. One of the things that real leaders do is to set an example through their personal conduct and their ways of doing business. There are still too many leaders who think that the way to motivate people is through fear. It doesn’t work, it’s never worked, and in a knowledge economy it never will work. People in organizations want to be challenged, they want to be inspired, they want to be given a chance to contribute and to grow–but I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning eager to go to work with the idea, “I can’t wait to be intimidated and humiliated today!” So if you’re a leader, your job is to create an environment where people can do their best work. That doesn’t mean you can’t criticize people when they need to have a mistake pointed out–actions do have consequences. But overall, smart and talented people want to work in a place where they can do their best work and feel like it makes a difference. So, to answer your question, if you’re a leader, the best way to teach attitude is to embody it yourself. And if you’re trying to lead from below, the best way to teach attitude is to show the boss how you want to be lead. You can, after all, lead up!

Q: Rule #9 says “Nothing happens until money changes hands.” This rule seems counter to some of the more idealistic rules in your book. Is money always necessary for innovation to occur?

A: This was a rule I learned in my own experience as an entrepreneur, trying to start Fast Company magazine. And it’s a cautionary rule. I know so many smart, energetic, idealistic entrepreneurs who seem to think that their ideas are all they need–that somehow the market will discover them and reward them simply for thinking innovative thoughts. But it’s not an innovation unless it actually gets to the market–until it gets to the market it’s just an idea. The hard truth is, if you want your idea to become an innovation, you’ll need to find the money to make it happen. As I say in the book, entrepreneurs need to have a sign on their desks, “The buck starts here.”

Q: You’ve been a Japan Society U.S.-Japan Society Leadership Fellow and also involved with the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network. How important a role has Japan played in the formulation of your 52 rules?

A: I’ve benefited enormously from being a part of the Japan Society, and the book reflects those benefits. There are rules that come directly out of my experiences with the Japan Society, but even more important is the human network that I began to learn from my Japan Society fellowship and that is the real source of the 52 rules. Behind almost every rule is a person or experience; that awareness of the way our lives interconnect was something my first introduction to the Japan Society impressed on me. So there are specific rules (and people will have to read the book to discover them), specific people, and also the general principle that I trace back to the many years of involvement I’ve had with the Japan Society.

Q: Rule #10 in your book states “A good question beats a good answer”. How’d I do?

A: Daniel, you’ve always asked good questions! That’s one of the reasons there’s an Innovators Network today! We should do this again–it’s always more fun, more engaging, and more valuable to have someone asking great questions!

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Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business without Losing Yourself, published by HarperCollins, hits bookstores April 21.

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