Great by Choice: Recommit Every Day

Why do some organizations erupt with energy and others wilt little by little with each passing day?


There are three distinctive behaviors, Collins defines, that elite leaders intrinsically exude 1. Fanatic discipline 2. Empirical creativity and 3. Productive paranoia.


Fanatic Discipline

Goals do not help progress.  A goal is to be more fit.  A goal is to write more.  A goal is to reflect more.  A goal is to be more successful at work. These do not work. They will not make you succeed.  More importantly they will not help your organization succeed. The reason is this thinking falls into conventional behavior management of biases.  Every day you tell yourself, “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful (Clear, 2015).” It doesn’t work. (If you’re thinking well these are not S-M-A-R-T goals, I’m well aware that George T. Doran framed this in November of 1981—please come back to 2015 with me and keep reading.)


What does work is establishing a system.  If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?


To be fit, you’ll spend 15min day running.  To write more, carve out 10min a day dedicated to write, measure the time you spend writing not the pages added to your novel. To be more mindful, take 10min in the morning and mediate every day. To be more successful at work have a system to spend lunch with someone different each Monday and Friday. 


SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.


Empirical creativity

They believe. Their motivation is to make a difference-to change the world.


Explore innovations that are lower cost, lower risk and a low distraction to the organization.  Experiment because greater than 55% of well thought out product launches will fail and your idea will not grow. This means you need to incorporate critical thinking and a system into your organization, team and self that focuses on creating the new rather than improving the old (Edgett, 2010).


IDC tells us that automated workflows, web-scale applications to cloud based systems, personal digital customer experiences and branded internet of things is the future (IDC, 2014).  The truth.  They have no idea.  We know that the customer is changing and a customer’s choice will be at the apex of whatever decision is to be made.  However, what decision, how the decision and why the decision is made, is out in the open.


Challenge your organization to step beyond the possible into to the unknown and swim with comfort in the uncertain.


SOLUTION: Define comfort, as unknown change opportunities.


Productive paranoia


Never put your organization in mortal danger.  Define how to grow the luck, your organization does have (Collins & Hasen, 2011).


Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you” ― Joseph Heller


Elite leaders know the competition is around the corner.  They plan, anticipate, adapt, change and flex; they are situationally aware.  These leaders see what others do not see.  They explore customers, end users and influencer’s needs.  They open their organizations to new collaborators from community leaders to new suppliers previously competing with their brands.  They define capabilities including human, operational, financial, technical and isolate key assets for a competitive advantage.  The productive paranoia illuminates their direct, indirect and potential competitors.  This is not only within the same industry but involves situational awareness of outside industries.  For example, Nike has taken their Fuel band off the market.  They have integrated with Apple.  That’s right they are discontinuing a physical product in order to be a software provider.  Think outside your industry, you must to protect your organization. It’s not paranoia if they ARE after you. These leaders also calculate risk of market conditions on social impact, demographics (age, location, population), psychographics (personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles), political, government influences, regulatory changes, economic impact and market swings. Productive paranoia is a sign of an elite leader.


SOLUTION: Look outside your industry, if for no other reason than your competitors are doing it.


Establish a system, believe innovation is a necessity and always maintain business situational awareness.  A little paranoia is healthy.






Clear, J. (2015). Forget about setting goals. focus on this instead. Retrieved from


Collins, J., & Hansen, M. T. (2011). Great by choice: Uncertainty, chaos, and luck–why some thrive despite them all. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.


Edgett, S. J. (2010). Latest research: New product success, failure and kill rates. Retrieved from


International Data Corporation (IDC). (2014). IDC reveals CIO agenda predictions for 2015. Retrieved from



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Peter is a healthcare business and technology executive, recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. As Head of Information Technology, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.