Monthly Archives: October 2021

Book Notes: Mastering Leadership

Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results by by Bob Anderson and William A. Adams (Goodreads Author)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book produces evidence that leadership effectiveness has a direct impact on bussiness results in the VUCA bussiness environment (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and disruption). Effective leadership is made up of the direction and meaning, engagement and accountability as well as focus and execution in a circle of improvement. To be an effective leader you have to master the outer game and inner game.

  • Outer Game
    • Leadership process
      • Allocation and utilisation of resources (people, time and money)
      • Business rhythm and management process of strategy, direction, execution, process, decision and decision making.
    • Leadership competencies
      • Outside game of leadership
      • Leadership competency research
  • Inner Game
    • Leadership consciousness
      • Inside game of leadership
        • Our meaning-making system
        • Out decision making system
        • Our values, beliefs and assumptions
        • Our level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence
        • Mental models to understand reality, think, act and create
      • Evolving consciousness

The Universal Model of Leadership

At the root is our identity, on the left relationships, right tasks, below being reactive and above being creative.


The Complying dimension measures the extent to which self-worth and security are felt by complying with the expectations of others rather than acting on what s/he intends and wants.

  • Conservative – the extent to which thinking and acting is conservative, follows procedure, and lives within the prescribed rules of the organization with which s/he is associated.
  • Pleasing – the need to seek others’ support and approval in order to feel secure and worthwhile as a person. People with strong needs for approval tend to base their degree of self-worth on their ability to gain others’ favour and confirmation
  • Belonging – the need to conform, follow the rules, and meet the expectations of those in authority. It measures the extend to which s/he goes along to get along, thereby compressing the full extend of his/her creative power in culturally acceptable boxes.
  • Passive – the degree to which power is given away to others and to circumstances outside of his/her control. This shows the measure of believing that s/he is not the creator of his/her life experience, that his/her efforts do not make much difference, and that s/he lacks the power to create the future s/he wants.

The Protecting dimension measures the belief that the leader can protect him/herself and establish a sense of worth through withdrawal and remaining distant, hidden, aloof, cynical, superior and/or rational.

  • Arrogance – the tendency to project a large ego – behaviour that is experienced as superior, egotistic and self-cantered.
  • Critical – to take a critical, questioning and somewhat cynical attitude
  • Distance – a sense of personal worth and security through withdrawal, being superior and remaining aloof, emotionally distant and above it all.

The Controlling dimension measure the sense of self worth through task accomplishment and personal achievement.

  • Perfect – the need to attain flawless results and perform to extremely high standards in order to feel secure and worthwhile as a person. Worth and security are equated with being perfect, performing constantly at heroic levels and succeeding beyond all expectations.
  • Driven – are the individuals worth and security tied to accomplishing a great deal through hard work. It measures the need to perform at a very high level in order to feel worthwhile as a person. A good work ethic is a strength of this style, provided that there is balance helping others achieve with his/her own achievement.
  • Ambition – the level to which there is a need to get ahead, move up in the organisation and be better than others. This is a powerful motivator, and can be positive (furthering progress) or negative (becoming overly self centred and competitive).
  • Autocratic – the tendency to be forceful, aggressive and controlling. It measures the extend to which s/he equated self-worth with security to being powerful, in control, strong, dominant, invulnerable, or on top. Worth is measured through comparison; that is having more income, achieving a higher position, being seen as a most/more valuable contributor, gaining credit, or being promoted.


The Relating dimension measures the capability to relate to others in a way that brings out the best in people, groups, and organizations.

  • Caring Connection – the interest in and ability to form warm, caring relationships with people.
  • Fosters Team Play – the ability to foster high performance teamwork among team members who report to him/her, across the organization and within teams in which s/he participates.
  • Collaborator – the extent to which the leader engages others in a manner that allows the parties involved to discover common ground.
  • Mentoring & Developing – the ability to develop others through mentoring and maintaining growth-enhancing relationships
  • Interpersonal Intelligence – the effectiveness of listening, engages in conflict and controversy, deals with the feelings of others, and manages his/her own feelings.

The Self-Awareness dimension measures the orientation to ongoing professional and personal development, as well as the degree to which inner self-awareness is expressed through high integrity leadership.

  • Selfless Leader – the pursuit of service over self-interest, where the need for credit and personal ambition is far less important than creating results that serve a common good.
  • Balance – to keep a healthy balance between business and family, activity and reflection, work and leisure, the tendency to be self-renewing and handle the stress of life without losing the self.
  • Composure – the ability, in the midst of conflict and high-tension situations, to remain composed and centred and to maintain a calm, focused perspective.
  • Personal Learner – demonstration of a strong and active interest in learning and personal and professional growth. To actively and reflectively pursues growing in self-awareness, wisdom, knowledge, and insight.

The Authenticity dimension measures the capability to relate to others in an authentic, courageous, and high integrity manner.

  • Integrity – how well the leader adheres to the set of values and principles that s/he espouses; that is, how well s/he can be trusted to “walk the talk.”
  • Courageous Authenticity – willingness to take tough stands, bring up the “undiscussables” (risky issues the group avoids discussing), and openly deal with difficult relationship problems.

The Systems Awareness dimension measures the awareness of the whole system improvement, productivity, and community welfare.

  • Community Concern – the service orientation. The extent to which s/he links his/her legacy to service of community and global welfare.
  • Sustainable Productivity – the ability to achieve results in a way that maintains or enhances the overall long-term effectiveness of the organization. How well human/technical resources are balanced to sustain long-term high performance.
  • Systems Thinker – the degree to think and act from a whole system perspective as well as the extent to which decisions are made in light of the long-term health of the whole system.

The Achieving dimension measures the extent to which the leader offers visionary, authentic, and high achievement leadership.

  • Strategic Focus – the extent to think and plan rigorously and strategically to ensure that the organization will thrive in the near and long term.
  • Purposeful & Visionary – clearly communicates and models commitment to personal purpose and vision.
  • Achieves Results – the goal-directed, track record of goal achievement and high performance.
  • Decisiveness – the ability to make decisions on time and the comfort moving forward in uncertainty.

The six systems of organisation effectiveness

Leadership tension between safety (moving up, approval) in a reactive mind set and purpose (vision and contribution) in the creative mindset.

The reactive system sees problems as threats, which produce fear and a reaction. In this environment there is always an oscillation in results over time – when there is a threat it is extinguished with a result until a new threat comes along. The fear is based on internal assumptions and beliefs.

In the creative system purpose and vision drive passion which results in action. This cycle does not result in the oscillation of the reactive system and continues to improve over time.

Book Notes: Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you get just 1% better each day you will be ~38 times better by the end of the year, if you get just 1% worse you reduce by 97% over a year. Some examples of positive and negative compounds.

Positive Compounding

  • Productivity compounds. Accomplishing one extra task is a small feat on any given day, but it counts for a lot over an entire career. The effect of automating an old task or mastering a new skill can be even greater. The more tasks you can handle without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas.
  • Knowledge compounds. Learning one new idea won’t make you a genius, but a commitment to lifelong learning can be transformative. Furthermore, each book you read not only teaches you something new but also opens up different ways of thinking about old ideas. As Warren Buffett says, “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
  • Relationships compound. People reflect your behaviour back to you. The more you help others, the more others want to help you. Being a little bit nicer in each interaction can result in a network of broad and strong connections over time

Negative Compounding

  • Stress compounds. The frustration of a traffic jam. The weight of parenting responsibilities. The worry of making ends meet. The strain of slightly high blood pressure. By themselves, these common causes of stress are manageable. But when they persist for years, little stresses compound into serious health issues.
  • Negative thoughts compound. The more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more. you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop. The same is true for how you think about others. Once you fall into the habit of seeing people as angry, unjust, or selfish. you see those kind of people everywhere.
  • Outrage compounds. Riots, protests, and mass movements are rarely the result of a single event. Instead, a long series of microaggressions and daily aggravations slowly multiply until one event tips the scales and outrage spreads like wildfire.

Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any com pounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.

Forget about goals – focus on systems

Many people and companies have the same goal, however it is the system which decides if they will succeed or not. As an example:

  • Winners and loser have the same goal
  • Achieving a goal is only a momentary change
  • Goals restrict your happiness
  • Goals are at odds with long-term progress

There are three levels of change: outcome change, process change, and identity change.

The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become (aka the identity).

  • Your identity emerges out of your habits.
  • Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
  • Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.
  • The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results (although they can do that), but because they can change your beliefs about yourself.
  • A habit is a behaviour that has been repeated enough times to be come automatic.
  • The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible.
  • Any habit can be broken down into a feedback loop that involves four steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.
  • The Four Laws of Behaviour Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are
    1. Make it obvious
      • With enough practice, your brain will pick up on the cues that predict certain outcomes without consciously thinking about it.
      • Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing.
      • The process of behaviour change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them.
      • Pointing-and-Calling raises your level of awareness from a non-conscious habit to a more conscious level by verbalizing your actions.
      • The Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behaviour.
      • The two most common cues are time and location.
      • Creating an implementation intention is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a specific time and location.
        • The implementation intention formula is: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].
      • Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit.
        • The habit stacking formula is: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
      • Small changes in context can lead to large changes in behaviour over time.
      • Every habit is initiated by a cue. We are more likely to notice cues that stand out.
      • Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment.
      • Gradually, your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behaviour. The context becomes the cue.
      • It is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues.
      • The inversion of the 1st Law of Behaviour Change is make it invisible.
        • Once a habit is formed, it is unlikely to be forgotten.
        • People with high self-control tend to spend less time in tempting situations. It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it.
        • One of the most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it.
        • Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one.
    2. Make it attractive
      • The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to be come habit-forming.
      • Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act. It is the anticipation of a reward (not the fulfilment of it) that gets us to take action.
      • The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike.
      • Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
      • The culture we live in determines which behaviours are attractive to us.
      • We tend to adopt habits that are praised and approved of by our culture because we have a strong desire to fit in and belong to the tribe.
      • We tend to imitate the habits of three social groups: the close (family and friends), the many (the tribe), and the powerful (those with status and prestige).
      • One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where
        1. your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour and
        2. you already have something in common with the group
      • The normal behaviour of the tribe often overpowers the desired behaviour of the individual. Most days, we’d rather be wrong with the crowd than be right by ourselves.
      • If a behaviour can get us approval, respect, and praise, we find it attractive.
      • The inversion of the 2nd Law of Behaviour Change is make it unattractive
        • Every behaviour has a surface level craving and a deeper underlying motive.
        • Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires.
        • The cause of your habits is actually the prediction that precedes them. The prediction leads to a feeling.
        • Highlight the benefits of avoiding a bad habit to make it seem unattractive.
        • Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings and unattractive when we associate them with negative feelings. Create a motivation ritual by doing something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
    3. Make it easy
      • The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning.
      • Focus on taking action, not being in motion.
      • Habit formation is the process by which a behaviour becomes progressively more automatic through repetition.
      • The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.
      • Human behaviour follows the Law of Least Effort. We will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.
      • Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible.
      • Reduce the friction associated with good behaviours. When friction is low, habits are easy.
      • Increase the friction associated with bad behaviours. When friction is high, habits are difficult.
      • Prime your environment to make future actions easier.
      • Habits can be completed in a few seconds but continue to impact your behaviour for minutes or hours afterward.
      • Many habits occur at decisive moments-choices that are like a fork in the road and either send you in the direction of a productive day or an unproductive one.
      • The Two-Minute Rule states, “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”
      • The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely it becomes that you can slip into the state of deep focus that is required to do great things.
      • Standardize before you optimize. You can’t improve a habit that doesn’t exist.
      • The inversion of the 3rd Law of Behaviour Change is make it difficult.
        • A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that locks in better behaviour in the future.
        • The ultimate way to lock in future behaviour is to automate your habits.
        • Onetime choices-like buying a better mattress or enrolling in an automatic savings plan-are single actions that automate your future habits and deliver increasing returns over time.
        • Using technology to automate your habits is the most reliable and effective way to guarantee the right behaviour.
    4. Make it satisfying.
      • We are more likely to repeat a behaviour when the experience is satisfying.
      • The human brain evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards.
      • The Cardinal Rule of Behaviour Change: What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.
      • To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful even if it’s in a small way.
      • The first three laws of behaviour change increase the odds that a behaviour will be performed this time. The fourth law of behaviour change make it satisfying-increases the odds that a behaviour will be repeated next time.
      • One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress.
      • A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit-like marking an X on a calendar.
      • Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurement can make your habits satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress.
      • Don’t break the chain. Try to keep your habit streak alive.
      • Never miss twice. If you miss one day, try to get back on track as quickly as possible.
      • Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it’s the most important thing.
      • The inversion of the 4th Law of Behaviour Change is make it unsatisfying.
        • We are less likely to repeat a bad habit if it is painful or unsatisfying.
        • An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us.
        • A habit contract can be used to add a social cost to any behaviour. It makes the costs of violating your promises public and painful.
        • Knowing that someone else is watching you can be a powerful motivator.

Tips for success

  • The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition.
  • Pick the right habit and progress is easy. Pick the wrong habit and life is a struggle.
  • Genes cannot be easily changed, which means they provide a powerful advantage in favourable circumstances and a serious disadvantage in unfavourable circumstances.
  • Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities.
  • Choose the habits that best suit you. Play a game that favours your strengths. If you can’t find a game that favours you, create one.
  • Genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on.
  • The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities.
  • The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. As habits become routine, they become less interesting and less satisfying. We get bored.
  • Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. It’s the ability to keep going when work isn’t exciting that makes the difference.
  • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.

The down side of habits

  • The upside of habits is that we can do things without thinking. The downside is that we stop paying attention to little errors.
  • Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
  • Reflection and review is a process that allows you to remain conscious of your performance over time.
  • The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.

Book Notes: Hooked

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  • For some businesses, forming habits is a critical component to success, but not every business requires habitual user engagement.
  • When successful, forming strong user habits can have several business benefits including: higher customer lifetime value (CLTV), greater pricing flexibility, supercharged growth, and a sharper competitive edge.
  • Habits cannot form outside the Habit Zone, where the behaviour occurs with enough frequency and perceived utility.
  • Habit-forming products often start as nice-to haves (vitamins) but once the habit is formed, they become must-haves (painkillers).
  • Habit-forming products alleviate users discomfort by relieving a pronounced itch.
  • Designing habit-forming products is a form of manipulation. Product builders would benefit from a bit of introspection before attempting to hook users to make sure they are building healthy habits, not unhealthy addictions.

If you are building a habit-forming product, write down the answers to these questions:

  • What habits does your business model require?
  • What problem are users turning to your product to solve?
  • How do users currently solve that problem and why does it need a solution?
  • How frequently do you expect users to engage with your product once they are habituated?
  • What user behaviour do you want to make into a habit?


  • Triggers cue the user to take action and are the first step in the Hooked Model.
  • Triggers come in two types-external and internal.
  • External triggers tell the user what to do next by placing information within the user’s environment.
  • Internal triggers tell the user what to do next through associations stored in the user’s memory.
  • Negative emotions frequently serve as internal triggers.
  • To build a habit-forming product, makers need to attach the use of their solution to a frequently felt internal trigger and know how to leverage external triggers to drive the user to action.


  • Who is your product’s user?
  • What is the user doing right before your in tended habit?
  • Come up with three internal triggers that could cue your user to action. Use the 5 Whys.
  • Which internal trigger does your user experience most frequently?
  • Finish this brief narrative using the most frequent internal trigger and the habit you are designing: “Every time the user (internal trigger), he/she (first action of intended habit).”
  • Refer back to the question about what the user is doing right before the first action of the habit. What might be places and times to send an external trigger?
  • How can you couple an external trigger as closely as possible to when the user’s internal trigger fires?
  • Think of currently impossible ways to trigger your user. You could find that your crazy ideas spur some new approaches that may not be so nutty after all. In a few years new technologies will create all sorts of currently unimaginable triggering opportunities.


  • The action is the simplest behaviour in anticipation of reward.
  • As described by Dr. B. J. Fogg’s Behaviour Model:
    • For any behaviour to occur, a trigger must be present at the same time as the user has sufficient ability and motivation to take action.
    • To increase the desired behaviour, ensure a clear trigger is present; next, increase ability by making the action easier to do; finally, align with the right motivator.
    • Every behaviour is driven by one of three Core Motivators: seeking pleasure and avoiding pain; seeking hope and avoiding fear; seeking social acceptance while avoiding social rejection.
    • Ability is influenced by the six factors of time, money, physical effort, brain cycles, social deviance, and non-routineness. Ability is dependent on users and their context at that moment.
  • Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts we take to take quick decisions. Product designers can utilize many of the hundreds of heuristics to in crease the likelihood of their desired action.


  • Walk through the path your users would take to use your product or service, beginning from the time they feel their internal trigger to the point where they receive their expected outcome. How many steps does it take before users obtain the reward they came for? How does this process compare with the simplicity of some of the examples described in this chapter? How does it compare with competing products and services?
  • Which resources are limiting your users’ ability to accomplish the tasks that will become habits?
    • Time
    • Brain cycles (too confusing)
    • Social deviance (outside the norm)
    • Physical effort
    • Non-routine (too new)
  • Brainstorm three testable ways to make in tended tasks easier to complete.
  • Consider how you might apply heuristics to make habit-forming actions more likely.

Variable Reward

  • Variable reward is the third phase of the Hooked Model, and there are three types of variable re wards: the tribe, the hunt, and the self.
  • Rewards of the tribe is the search for social rewards fuelled by connectedness with other people.
  • Rewards of the hunt is the search for material resources and information.
  • Rewards of the self is the search for intrinsic re wards of mastery, competence, and completion.
  • When our autonomy is threatened, we feel con strained by our lack of choices and often rebel against doing a behaviour. Psychologists refer to this as reactance. Maintaining a sense of user autonomy and trust is a requirement for sustained engagement.
  • Experiences with finite variability become increasingly predictable with use and lose their appeal over time. Experiences that maintain user interest by sustaining variability with use exhibit infinite variability.
  • Variable rewards must satisfy users’ needs while leaving them wanting to reengage with the product.


  • Speak with five of your customers in an open ended interview to identify what they find enjoyable or encouraging about using your product. Are there any moments of delight or surprise? Is there anything they find particularly satisfying about using the product?
  • Review the steps your customer takes to use your product or service habitually. What outcome (reward) alleviates the user’s pain? Is the reward fulfilling, yet leaves the user wanting more?
  • Brainstorm three ways your product might heighten users’ search for variable rewards using:
    1. rewards of the tribe-gratification from others.
    2. rewards of the hunt-material goods, money, or information.
    3. rewards of the self-mastery, completion, competency, or consistency.


  • The investment phase is the fourth step in the Hooked Model.
    • Unlike the action phase, which delivers immediate gratification, the investment phase concerns the anticipation of rewards in the future.
  • Investments in a product create preferences because of our tendency to overvalue our work, be consistent with past behaviours, and avoid cognitive dissonance.
  • Investment comes after the variable reward phase, when users are primed to reciprocate.
  • Investments increase the likelihood of use returning by improving the service the more it is used. They enable the accrual of stored value in the form of content, data, followers, reputation, or skill.
  • Investments increase the likelihood of users passing through the Hook again by loading the next trigger to start the cycle all over again.


  • • Review your flow. What “bit of work” are your users doing to increase their likelihood of re turning?
  • Brainstorm three ways to add small investments into your product to:
    • Load the next trigger.
    • Store value as data, content, followers, reputation, and skill.
  • Identify how long it takes for a “loaded trigger” to reengage your users. How can you reduce the delay to shorten time spent cycling through the Hook?


  • Facilitators use their own product and believe it can materially improve people’s lives. They have the highest chance of success because they most closely understand the needs of their users.
  • Peddlers believe their product can materially improve people’s lives but do not use it themselves. They must beware of the hubris and inauthenticity that comes from building solutions for people they do not understand first-hand.
  • Entertainers use their product but do not believe it can improve people’s lives. They can be successful, but without making the lives of others better in some way, the entertainer’s products often lack staying power.
  • Dealers neither use the product nor believe it can improve people’s lives. They have the lowest chance of finding long-term success and often find themselves in morally precarious positions.