Leading From Within
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Leading from Within

Workshop 1 - The Leader as a Culture Developer

Workshop 2 - The Leader as a Builder of Desire

Workshop 3 - The Leader as a Thinker

Workshop 4 - The Leader as a Systems Strategist

Workshop 5 - The Leader as a Doer


Leading From Within

Workshop 4 - The Leader as a Systems Strategist

In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt embarked on a whistle-stop tour to cap off a hard fought presidential election campaign.  At each stop Roosevelt planned to clinch people’s votes by distributing a state of the art pamphlet with a stern presidential portrait on the cover and a stirring speech inside.  Three million copies had been printed before an astute campaign worker noticed a small line at the bottom of the photograph which read “Moffett Studios, Chicago.”  Since Moffett held the copyright, the unauthorised use of the photo could cost the campaign one dollar per reproduction.  With no time to reprint the brochure, what was Roosevelt to do?

Not using the pamphlets at all would weaken Roosevelt’s election prospects.  If they went ahead, a scandal could easily erupt on the eve of the election with Roosevelt accused of breaching copyright and liable for substantial damages.  Clearly they had to negotiate with Moffett.  But research by their Chicago operatives turned up bad news.  Moffett was not a Roosevelt supporter, his business was struggling and he was approaching retirement. 

At this point George Perkins, the campaign manager, stopped worrying about the campaign and started thinking about what life might be like for Moffett.  What did the photographer need most?  He came up with an idea and then dispatched the following cable to Moffett Studios.  “We are planning to distribute millions of pamphlets with Roosevelt’s picture on the cover.  It will be great publicity for the studio whose photograph we use.  How much will you pay us if we use yours?  Respond immediately.”  Moffett replied the next day, “We’ve never done this before, but under the circumstances we’d be prepared to offer you $250.”  Perkins accepted – without asking for more.* 

What do you make of that story?  Did you like it?  What sort of man was the campaign manager George Perkins?   Was he a gifted systems strategist, a hard nosed negotiator, an unprincipled opportunist or all three?  Was Moffett swindled or was he presented with a once in a life-time opportunity to market his business for $250? … and as you take the time to consider these questions is your perception of this story changing? 

The first task of a systems strategist is to broaden people’s understanding of the relevant systems, human and other, associated with an issue or a problem.   Asking questions is one technique.  This workshop will introduce you to two other powerful techniques and a lot more.

Leaders who participate in this workshop will:

*Adapted from  James K Sebenius, Six Habits of Merely Effective Negotiators, Harvard Business Review, April 2001