Hal Gregersen is a regular contributor to Forbes, Fortune, and Harvard Business Review, exploring how asking the right questions builds leadership, innovation and ultimately can change our world.

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Bursting the CEO Bubble

When you’re the CEO of a large organization—or even a small one—your greatest responsibility is to recognize whether it requires a major change in direction. Indeed,no bold new course of action can be launched without your say-so. Yet your power and privilege leave you insulated—perhaps more than anyone else in the company—from information that might challenge your assumptions and allow you to perceive a looming threat or opportunity. Ironically, to do what your exalted position demands, you must in some way escape your exalted position.

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How Does Amazon Stay At Day One?

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Visit the office of Amazon’s head of Devices, Dave Limp, and you may get an offer to look at a piece of corporate history: the original short documents drafted by an internal team in 2011 to propose the development of Alexa, the intelligent personal assistant Amazon launched in late 2014. Call it an e-memento; Limp hasn’t deleted it. And it’s hardly the only memento. He can also call up dozens of other sets of documents, amazingly similar in format, setting forth the initial visions for what would become blockbuster products and services.

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Testing the CEO President

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Perhaps one of President Donald Trump’s most endearing qualities to his supporters – a trait he promoted throughout a contentious 2016 election campaign – is that he isn’t a lifelong politician.

He’s a businessman. A salesman. A brander. He was the patriarch of the Trump Organization real estate empire before trading his iconic Manhattan tower for a seat in the Oval Office. And he sold himself to the American people on the idea that he could better streamline the bloated Washington bureaucracy – draining the swamp and running the country with a business-like efficiency.

But after six months rife with high-level turnover, legislative hiccups and public feuds within Trump’s own team, questions have been raised as to how effectively the CEO in chief is guiding the ship.

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Behind Rightmove’s Extraordinary Growth

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Ask Rightmove CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson to name the key to the company’s extraordinary growth and he takes no time to answer. “Are you familiar with the term network effects …?” He’s referring to the phenomenon by which a network (the simplest example is a telephone system) becomes more valuable to its users with each user it gains. Network effects mean that, for some kinds of businesses, there is a tremendous advantage to being a first mover.

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Expecting The Remarkable At Dexcom

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“I was in a meeting last week, and I asked a simple question: ‘Is this remarkable?’ They all looked at me. I just said: ‘I want remarkable.’”

The speaker, Kevin Sayer, is President and CEO of Dexcom, Inc. ranked #2 on this year’s Forbes list of Most Innovative Growth Companies (Last year, Dexcom ranked number four.)  Sayer, was describing his interaction with some engineering colleagues who were proposing a next-generation product for diabetes patients. Dexcom, a medical device maker based in San Diego, specializes in continuous glucose monitoring solutions.  Its G5 Mobile CGM System was a breakthrough when it was launched in 2015, as the first system allowing patients — even young children—to use a smart device to keep track of their glucose levels in real time.

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We Need to Ask How We Can Make Economic Growth More Inclusive

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Some questions have what I like to call a catalytic quality. That is, they do for creative problem-solving what catalysts do in chemical processes: they dissolve barriers and accelerate progress down more productive pathways. Take the question that has lately been put on the political table because of the prosperity bind facing so many mature economies. Innovation abounds (especially in technology) and new value is being created hand over fist — yet the resulting wealth gains go to the few, while the many wind up financially worse off. Case in point, even if everyone benefits from the freer flow of information allowed by the internet, information alone can’t pay your heating bill or buy a new transmission for your car. As the costs of things like phone calls and televisions have dropped, the cost for basic necessities like food and housing has soared.

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Break Out of Your Managerial Bubble

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Hal Gregersen, executive director of the MIT Leadership Center at Sloan School of Management, says too many CEOs and executives are in a bubble, one that shields them from the reality of what’s happening in the world and in their businesses. The higher you rise, the worse it gets. Gregersen discusses practical steps top managers can make to ask better questions, improve the flow of information, and more clearly see what matters. His article “Bursting the CEO Bubble” is in the March-April 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

Management experts break down Trump’s leadership style during his first 100 days as president

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Management experts break down Trump's leadership style during his first 100 days as president

Donald Trump has effectively gone from managing his family-owned real estate company — and his own career in show business — to running the executive branch of the United States. That’s a pretty big leap. Business Insider asked four management experts to weigh in on Trump’s management style. They didn’t discuss his politics — just his performance as the leader of the executive branch of government.

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