page title icon 211: Ed Muzio: I needed to iterate

Ed Muzio Show Notes Page

Ed Muzio was running an industry forum for the first time. While he followed the advice he received he missed a few key elements and the meeting went off the rails. Ed was the one that needed to fix it but he didn’t know how.

Ed has bounced around the country quite a bit.  He was born in New York, grew up in New Mexico, attended university back east at Cornell, and after that his career took him to Phoenix, Portland, Santa Clara, back to Albuquerque, and twice to Austin, which is where he lives now with his wife and little boy.

Ed was raised by an entrepreneur father and a teacher mother.  As a kid, he helped mom prepare her classroom and teaching materials, and he also helped dad run his business and keep things moving productively, from food service to finance.  So, it’s probably not surprising that he ended up founding Group Harmonics, a boutique consulting firm specializing in the psychology, sociology, neurology, and organizational behavior of high-functioning management teams and cultures. In this job, Ed gets to run his business AND be a teacher.

Of course, nobody starts out consulting. Ed first spent nearly a decade working for Intel, during a technology boom that created hypergrowth in the company and the industry.  With his engineering degree, Ed started off in a technical role for high volume manufacturing.  But he pretty quickly realized that, as engineers go, he was a little – different.  He seemed to always be the one in the room paying attention to things like the structure of the meeting, the use of authority, and the effectiveness of communication.  Luckily, hypergrowth creates a lot of opportunity, and Ed found ways to bring those talents to Intel’s growth even as his technical career grew.  Along the way, he connected with and learned from the internal and external experts who were supporting Intel’s unique form of high-functioning management.  Then, in the early 2000’s, he ventured out on his own and founded Group Harmonics.

Today, having run his firm for nearly fifteen years, Ed says that his newest book, Iterate: Run a Fast, Flexible, Focused Management Team may be his best professional legacy so far.  Iterate is based not only on lessons learned in and out of Intel, but also on the background work of Ed’s mentor, Bill Daniels, who consulted for decades to Intel and other high-growth companies.  When he told Ed, “I’m glad you’re writing this book because someone needs to explain all this,” it was a profound moment for Ed’s career trajectory.  Over the years the two have become close personal friends.  Today, Bill is retired, and he and his wife are honorary grandparents to Ed’s little boy.

That little boy, of course, is Ed’s favorite legacy of all.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @edmuzio to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet    

“Take a step and then learn from it.” – Click to Tweet

“Every step leads to information and the information gets fed into the next step.” – Click to Tweet 

“People in the workplace are interdependent, they are neither independent nor should they ever be fully dependent.” – Click to Tweet 

“Are you telling your manager how it’s going or is your manager telling you how it’s going?” – Click to Tweet 

“Are those people doing the work, do they actually know how it’s going? We need to be asking them.” – Click to Tweet 

“Are your meetings forward looking?” – Click to Tweet 

“Is the frontline feeding good information up or are they managed in such a way that they’re feeding up the party line.” – Click to Tweet 

“The history of failed organizations is just littered with situations where people saw trouble and didn’t mention it.” – Click to Tweet 

“There’s no upside to pretending everything’s fine when it’s not.” – Click to Tweet 

“It’s not just the individual pieces, it’s the system.” – Click to Tweet 

“Don’t get to wrapped in the wins and losses, just keep taking every step.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Ed Muzio was running an industry forum for the first time. While he followed the advice he received he missed a few key elements and the meeting went off the rails. Ed was the one that needed to fix it but he didn’t know how.

Advice for others

Don’t get to wrapped in the wins and losses, just keep taking every step.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Time and helping people to abstract things.

Best Leadership Advice

When you see things circling the drain, it falls to you to help.

Secret to Success


Best tools in business or life

My calendar

Recommended Reading

Iterate: Run a Fast, Flexible, Focused Management Team

The Insightful Leader: Find Your Leadership Superpowers, Crush Limiting Beliefs, and Abolish Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

Contacting Ed Muzio




Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work


Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

211: Ed Muzio: I needed to iterate

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.


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Jim Rembach:     Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m thrilled because I have somebody on the show who’s really going to help us address something that I think many of us, if not all of us, have some fear in. Eden Muzio has bounced around the country quite a bit. He was born in New York and grew up in New Mexico. Attended University back east, Cornell and after his career took him to Phoenix, Portland, Santa Clara back to Albuquerque and twice to Austin he stayed there which is where he lives now with his wife and little boy. Ed was raised by an entrepreneur father and a teacher mother. As a kid he helped mom prepare her classroom and teaching materials and he also helped dad run his business and keep things moving productively from food service to finance. Of course, nobody starts out consulting. Ed’s first gig lasted nearly a decade working for Intel during a technology boom that created hyper growth in the company and the industry. With his engineering degree, Ed started off in a technical role for high-volume manufacturing. But he pretty quickly realized that as engineers go he was a little different. He seemed to always be the one in the room paying attention to things like the structure of the meeting, the use of authority, and the effectiveness of communication. Luckily, hyper-growth creates a lot of opportunity and Ed found ways to bring those talents to Intel’s growth even as his technical career grew. 


Along the way he connected with and learned from the internal and external experts who were supporting Intel’s unique form of high functioning management. Then in early 2007, he ventured out on his own and founded group, Harmonics. Today having run his firm for nearly 15 years Ed said that his newest book maybe his best professional legacy so far. Iterate is based not only on lessons learned in and out of Intel but also on the background work of its mentor Phil Daniels, who consulted for decades to Intel and other high-growth companies. Ed Muzio, are you ready to help us get over the hump?


Ed Muzio:     I’m ready, let’s do it. 


Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you’re here too. Now I’ve given my legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?


Ed Muzio:     Current passion’s float around but one of the things I’m doing on the side that nobody knows about is I’m learning to play piano right now. I’m doing that because my six-year-old son is learning to play piano and I’ve always wanted to learn and I thought why not so I tagged on the end of his lesson his instructor gives me 15 minutes of coaching and then I practice every day. It’s been a good reminder in how the human brain works. It’s good for my instructional designs and my corporate work as well because it’s sort of a real life reminder of what it’s like to learn something when you just don’t know what you’re doing and that’s useful in this business. 


Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you shared that. As you are talking I started thinking about your book and talking about this being more iterative, we’re going to get into that in a second. But I’m curious to know, because we talked about it’s easier to learn a language when you’re young it’s easier to do this when you’re young, do you see a big difference in your ability to learn the piano at your age versus your son at his age?


Ed Muzio:     I thought a lot about that I thought about it before I started and being an instructional designer in some ways I thought about that as I was going along. I think the answer is yes and no. I think it’s easier for him because he doesn’t have any of the extra cognitive baggage around making mistakes or around falling down or try new things. The part that’s easier for me is I can take inbound communication in more complex forms so I’m conceptually ahead of him and therefore for a while I’m technically ahead of him on the keyboard. I’m guessing a year or a year and half away he’s going to pass me. When he passes me I’m not going to catch up. He has more time he has more energy but it’s going to be kind of second nature to him in a way that it won’t ever be to me. What’s been interesting though is kind of watching the learning curve for me. Its iteration, it’s like you have to keep doing it and trying and adjusting until finally something becomes second-nature enough that you get more mental calories to do something else. It’s actually a concept we talk about men fit. It’s been fun to watch that words like now there are certain chords I can play while my brain is looking at what’s next whereas it used to take all my attention to play that chord. That makes a big difference in how I can proceed through some simple music. It’s been an experience. 


Jim Rembach:     Well and I think that’s really helpful to also kind of set up what you have is your definition of iterate, because I love the way you ended it, and I’m going to read this real quick from the book, it says—“iterate is to take the most logical step from where you are and then do it again and again. Iteration is how computers simulate complex systems. It is how humankind got from the Wright Flyer to the Boeing 747. And it’s how you walk to your car. 


Ed Muzio:     It is probably the most boring analogy ever but I always talk about that. You walk out the door of the mall or the office building and you look at your watch and you say I got to get to my car and in less than three minutes to stay on time. And then you look across the parking lot you can’t see your car and you’re not sure it is you start walking. The whole time you’re walking, you’ve got information flowing down at the executive office saying get there by this time. You’ve got your feet detecting irregularities in the surface feeding information up but this whole system, middle management cardiovascular, the whole system is really just optimized around one thing which is take a step and then learn from it. If things are more slippery than you thought, if you notice it’s the wrong car, top down bottom up whatever every step leads to information and the information gets fed into the next step. And that’s the key that is often the difference between computer modeling and corporate work. If we set a plan in January and just blindly follow it and don’t just or you’re in trouble by June no matter what. 

Every step we take information the trick is how we incorporate that information back into the next step. In the book that’s management’s job to make sure the organization is incorporating that and adjusting.


Jim Rembach:     Well and I think the nuance of all that is leading the people along the way you don’t manage them you lead them but you’re managing the process. When you start talking about there’s five key management practices and that’s output and Status broadcasting, work preview meetings, group discussion making, linked teens and then frontline self-sufficiency. So, when you start thinking about these five key management steps, how did you come about structuring them in this way? How can it be an iterative or an adaptive process for an organization that’s, let’s say not like an Intel and in manufacturing? 


Ed Muzio:    The concepts work in a variety of scenarios but let me answer your first question which is—you pointed to a very interesting topic which is how do you structure this in a way you can talk about it. In reality those five practices are interdependent in the same way we talk about people in the workplace are interdependent. They are neither independent, they can’t work alone, nor should they ever be full dependent, so those five practices depend on each other. Even just the logistics of how do I get through a book which is essentially linear right front to back and explain something when thing number one that I’m explaining depends on thing number five that I haven’t explained yet. And so to a certain extent the order that you get in the book is a little artificial because by the time you get to the end you realize you could have done the first thing or the last thing either but as you’re reading you have to have to understand a piece at a time. So we start with the output in status broadcasting because it’s a clear place to start. 


If you don’t have a clear goal and you’re not measuring your goal in a forward-looking way to where you can say, what do I think is going to happen in the future? Then it’s hard to think about making adjustments. It’s hard to think about making good group decisions or having your team’s connected the right way because, what are you heading for? So in that regard we start with goals then we get into—okay, now you have a goal, how do you meet about it? Now that you’re in a meeting how do you make your decisions? Now they’re making decisions in meetings let’s talk about how that team making decisions interacts with another team making decisions. And then we get all done with that we get to frontline self-sufficiency which is, you’ve got these managers running around making decisions based on forecasts let’s talk for a minute about the people actually doing your work in the organization and how do they know what’s going to happen because if they can’t make good forecasts then the rest of it doesn’t matter. So there’s a linear progression but in reality they all support each other. 


Jim Rembach:     You bring up a good point and this kind of reminds me of a guest that I had previously that talked about ecosystems, is you kind of have to know your iteration or iterative eco system. 


Ed Muzio:    It is, it is, it’s a system of practices and we talked about. It’s just the same way that your body walking to the car is a system of components, this is the system of practices. The truth is if you’re in an organization that’s functioning relatively well you’re probably doing some of these things. One of the tricks the other challenges in this work which is probably important to mention here is language. So there’s a whole issue around—if I talk about something called, let’s say pragmatic dashboards which is a label that I  have, as soon as someone hears the word dashboard they go well I know what dashboard is I’ll skip this part, but it might not be the behavior I’m talking about. So I sort of beg people in the book to go just pretend you don’t know what the words mean for long enough to figure out if the behavior I’m describing is or isn’t going on because I don’t have an egotistical need for you to call the behavior the same thing I just want you to understand that if that behavior isn’t happening you may have a gap that you can improve on that’s really the important thing.


Jim Rembach:     Well, another thing for me is— as I was looking through the book it just kind of stood out—to me it wasn’t one of those things that was glaring but for me it just seemed to be so darn important and I wanted us to talk about. You talked about task types. And that task types really matter when you start going through your iterative and iteration type of process or system or ecosystem. And you talked about predictability, delayed tolerance, and you talked about these three different types of tasks. Tell us how they have an impact or effect? 


Ed Muzio:    So it turns out that that issue of task type—is you’re absolutely right it’s important in a couple different ways to management. One of them is as I just mentioned there’s some specific information we have about how you should be looking forward in terms of what’s going to happen with your work. If you’ve decided—whether it’s to do something a certain schedule or whatever you want to be have data and information that allows you to get with the management team and say, here’s the future looks like here’s what we thought it was going to look like, here’s it looks like now here’s how it is or isn’t different if it isn’t different there’s nothing to talk about let’s not talk about it if it is different that’s a variance and do we need to address it because if we’re going to get somewhere different than we thought how does that affect the work of my peers how does it affect my boss’s work etcetera. So, in order to do that you do have to get a clear understanding of those three task types. There are there, the first one is routine work, that’s like factory production or a simple example is imagine having a pile of papers to sign and you’re going to sign each one because in a bureaucratic sense you have to approve these papers, that’s a simple example of routine work. There’s a pile of work it’s low delay tolerance meaning it needs to be done pretty fast once you get to work but it’s high predictability exactly what the work is. The hundredth unit you make in the factory is the same as the tenth. So that’s routine. The second one is we call troubleshooting work. That is the sort of—imagine the IT guy who’s sitting at his desk and the phone rings and he doesn’t know what the work is until the phone rings and someone gives him the problem. So you call up and say, I’m blue screen and that’s the beginning of the problem. So that’s characterized by low delay tolerance again which means once he has the problem yes to solve it. But it’s also low in predictability because you don’t know what you have you don’t what the work is you can’t anticipate it in the same way you can in factory production. And so that’s the second one. 


The third one is project work. This is where when delay tolerance goes down meaning your ** goes up meaning that you can you can wait a little longer. Everything sort of becomes a project. Whether I’m putting up an overpass five years from now whether I’m launching your product in six months my delay tolerance is allowing me to wait a little longer. And so that moves into a third flavor of work. Those are the flavors and I guess you probably want me to talk about how they relate to the iterative management? Is that what you’re asking? Okay, so let’s talk about that data display. The way you would display forward-looking information for factory production let’s say is pretty straight forward, How many I made this week? I can count how many last week that’s history. And then I can have a plan this is how many I’m planning to make each week. I make a forecast which is now that I know something about my  resources here’s what I think I’ll actually be able to do and here’s how it’s different or not different from the plan. 


So that’s a forward-looking forecast and then we can see variance. So that model works really well for routine work. But if you give that graph to a guy doing troubleshooting he’ll say, this doesn’t make any sense to me I don’t know what I’m going to have on my plate I have no plan line I’m just waiting for the phone to ring. In troubleshooting work it usually looks something more like, queue list. How many issues have I received that I haven’t even solved yet, I don’t even know the problem is? How many issues do I have in queue that I’ve solved the issue but I haven’t deployed or done the fix? And how many things do I have in my queue that are done? And so if I start to have those three imagine like almost like piles on my desk or sticky notes on the wall, if I do that for  a while, a couple weeks couple months, I start to understand what a fair day work looks like what I can get done. And so if all of a sudden I come in one day and my unsolved is three times longer, I can say to my boss, look I don’t know for sure but my experience suggests I’m behind. So again that’s that forward look, am I going to stay on my track or not? Probably not in this case. That’s troubleshooting. 


The third one is project. I can get myself in a little trouble with the project management institute if I’m not careful here, there’s a whole body work and very good work by the way around how to track and manage projects. But much of it is missing that critical forward look, which is to say, I don’t care as much in management whether or not what I’ve done so far has met schedule. What I care about is I have a set of future milestones and Jim and I work on the same team and Jim is watching me because when I hit a certain milestone he’s going to use that work to hit his milestone. What everybody cares about is am I going to hit that milestone? And I said, not the one in the past the one in the future. 


The history of whether I tend to hit my milestones that’s mildly interesting because if I tend to miss, that gives you an idea, but anything else I can do to put in place to say, how can I look ahead and say what’s my actual likelihood of really hitting that or not? And again what’s the difference between what I said I would do and what I now think I would do? That’s the kind of just data displays we want to have for projects. And so that’s why there’s those appendices at the end of iterate with examples of how to graph

these things because it turns out it’s not that hard once you have the framework but if you don’t think through it in terms of task type as you pointed out then then you end up looking at a graph of production going, this doesn’t apply to me and kind of walking away from it. You’ve got to really segment before you start thinking about how to display and talk about your output. 


Jim Rembach:     Great, great insight. In addition one of the things that you’ve done on the book which I really like is a complementary aspect to it is that people can get access to some videos where I’m sure you explained many of these things. When you started talking through that particular example I also started seeing how there was really a multitude of different people that would potentially be involved with some of that. Because if I’m in a contact center, whether it’s customer service or support, and I’m handling all of those interactions a lot of that data has to be fed back into the whole predictability and staff modeling component. How long does it take for you to do certain tasks and this that and the other so that I can project how many people I need. I can look at down the road potential additional workload they may come and how many people—it’s a very talking about an iterative process that’s fed with a lot of data but also have that I need to potentially have some project teams that are getting fed data because we have some systemic problems that we keep taking interactions and tasks and requests for that, you know what? We could eliminate. 


Ed Muzio:    Well, I think so. I think the thing to watch out for though, and this is really a hard one, I’m appreciating this interview because we’re really deep in it here, but the thing to watch out for is that there’s a line between a management information system and an individual employee and management sort of feedback system. So the other piece of the five practices that frontline self-sufficiency where we cross task type is we need our frontline to know how they’re doing irrespective and independently of the management information systems they’re tracking them and in the age of big data this is getting to be a lost truth but it’s super important. If you are that IT guy, if you work at that desk and you’ve got your three issue queues, then there’s a difference between you having your three issue queues on post-it notes at your desk and you knowing how you’re doing versus your manager tracking you through some central insight system and giving your rating. And the simplest way to talk about that difference is—are you telling your manager how it’s going? Or is your manager telling you how it’s going? Although we have a lot more data management systems we have not yet crafted the system where the manager knows better of what’s going on the person actually doing the work. So we need upward communication. Management information systems are fine we want to track all that stuff it is actually useful for staffing models, absolutely, big business got to be smart about this stuff. At the same time what I’m looking for when I consult with big organization is—are those people on the ground doing the work, do they actually know how it’s going? We need to be asking them we cannot be looking at the stuff and the model because they’re managing the stuff in the model because it affects their lives and they’re humans and they know what they’re supposed to hit and they tend to produce more or less they’re supposed to hit. I want to know what they really think is going on next week. Yeah, yeah you’re on track good you’ve met all your goals, what do you see coming? Because that’s where you start to hear those conversations about—we’re really in trouble here over the watercooler kind of thing we need not to reflect in management and that comes from the intelligence of the people not from the data in the system. 


Jim Rembach:     What you said I started thinking about a conversation that I often get into with contact centers is that  people will talk about metrics and I’m like, tell me what your metric target is. Because I’ll meet it, as a matter of fact I’ll beat it. You don’t want to know. 


Ed Muzio:    Right, right. Human beings are sophisticated and when you put the thing between us and survival we hit the target. We do hit the target. Yet we all know they know more it’s down there it’s there somewhere right. How do we get that information in? It’s also by the way better for engagement. If you’re doing the work and you feel like hey they’re listening to what I’m saying about the work and they care on doing as opposed to they’ve imposed some draconian tracking on me and my job is to hit the target. So it is better for the individuals as well. 


Jim Rembach:     Most definitely. When you start talking about the upward feedback and self-sufficiency, and that’s what you the chapter that you close the book in. I know you had mentioned something about how some of these things are independent, the overlap, all of these relational type of aspects, but for me when you start looking at these five key management components, where do you often see that most organizations need essentially that support and bolstering and that guidance because they’re just way off?


Ed Muzio:    It’s funny it moves around. It’s easy to tell a story and I’m sure everyone can relate to a story of the organization that’s having real trouble with group decision-making. We get together and then it’s either whoever yells the loudest or its  half the people aren’t even engaged so they don’t contribute or it’s factionalized or it’s become politicized there’s often a lot of work to do around this concept of having a decider, because we talk about group decision making, and having that decoder learn. I don’t tell my team, convince me, my agreement is off the table I tell them teach me and then I make the best decision with counselors, there’s work to do there. The forward-looking piece which kind of crosses over into the output and status broadcasting as well that work preview meetings. Are your meetings forward-looking? Are you really spending the airtime in the meeting looking at future variants and then talking about what you’re going to do about that future variance as opposed to listening to individual presentations in the narrative about “how it’s going?” What I call the North American management model runs on slide ware and talk.


I’m going to get up for ten minutes tell you how it’s going and then my peer will and by the time your management team is done we’ve spent an hour producing a newsletter and no decisions were made and the meetings over. So there’s a lot there. But equally to your point the frontline self-sufficiency that issue of, is the front line feeding good information up? Or are they managed or over controlled in such a way that they’re feeding up the party line. Yes we’re on track boss we’re always on track the answer is always we’re on track, that’s not useful. The history of failed organizations is just littered with situations where people saw trouble and didn’t mention it at all levels. And so that issue of from the front line, and that crosses over to it, but from the front line it’s about foreseeing the work. And then we didn’t talk about linked teams yet, but an issue of link teams this idea that, hey, you and I work for a boss I’m not working my goals at the expense of your goals we are both held accountable to boss’s goals. So if boss’s goals don’t get hit then our team has failed and we essentially fail. Yes we have goals yes you have goals if I can manage my world and my goals without problems that’s fine but as soon as we cross over and we need –Jim and Ed need the same resources, we’re going to solve that problem in the context of the higher level we’re not going to fight amongst ourselves. And that’s another version of saying if we see a problem, I don’t go well that’s Jim’s problem I’m not going to help with that. I go okay if Jim fails I fail how am I going to help? And hey, Jim, if you’re not if you’re not asking me for help maybe I’m coming to you and I’m going to take some help, I don’t want to fail. So just reframes that same reptilian brain stem doesn’t want to fail we just redirect it to the failure of the team. And all of that has to do with avoiding the loss of information and the notion that we’re all going to plug our ears and pretend everything’s fine. Because that happens so often in organizations and it’s so detrimental it’s bad for morale it’s bad for engagement it’s bad for finance, there’s no upside to pretending everything’s fine when it’s not. 


Jim Rembach:     Well, an interesting thing as you were talking through them like all of this is changeable. It’s just doing a different behavior and creating a better habit. Okay, so when I start looking at all of the things that we’re talking about here in these five management practices and all of the change the new behaviors we need a lot of energy in order to be able to focus on that. One of the things that we look at on the show are quotes to help give us a little bit of a focus and a little bit of a energy jolt. Is there a quote or two that you’d like that you can share?


Ed Muzio:    There’s a few at the beginning of the chapter in my book, one of my favorites is from my mentor that you mentioned in my introduction his name is Bill Daniels, he goes by William R Daniels, the quote is,  you can’t make a pie one slice at a time. And that’s the line we advise managers to use to their management teams which is—it’s not Jim, bake your slice, bake your slice everybody else were making this pie and so if the pie doesn’t come out we didn’t do it. So that’s one of them. The other one I always misquote this slightly but the one I use up in status broadcasting is the Yogi Berra, if you don’t know where you’re going you got to be careful because you might not get there. Although everyone knows goals are important and what this work has proven is that goals aren’t enough you do have to have that few things you’re going to measure the explosion of measurability and metrics and computing power has sort of taken us in a direction where everyone has 400 metrics, that’s proven to be equally detrimental as having none because we know who we’re managing. But we need every manager to have three, five, seven key things that they’re working to deliver that they can talk about in chart and forecast. And once we get to that level we get that abstraction, things at my level the next level up and the next level abstraction get all that together then that is a key part of how we have the organization running, so that’s just a couple. 


Jim Rembach:     I can only imagine going back from your childhood helping your dad all the way up going through Intel and being that, let’s just say that oddball engineer, is that you’ve probably had a lot of humps that you’ve had to get over in order to be able to be where you are today in the direction that you’re heading. Can you share one of those stories with us?


Ed Muzio:    There have been a couple. One that comes to mind is—I had a moment where I was running kind of an industry forum. It was during my time at SEMATECH. SEMATECH would work on this sort of advance technology thing so we’d get people together or otherwise competitors and we try and collaborate on these things that were a couple generations out because if we didn’t we’d never figure it out. It was sort of funny dynamic anyway to begin, you have people in the room that today they’re competing fiercely for share but they’re looking ten years down the road and going, what are we going to do there if we don’t have some agreements there’s nothing because technology isn’t figured out yet. So it was one of these meetings I had gotten a lot of advice about how to run the meeting, it was my meeting to run, and I got advice from technical people and from meeting people it’s kind of a detailed story but the point is I followed all the advice but I didn’t before I start the meeting take the time to actually stop and digest and go, what does it all mean to me? What does it mean to sort of this system how people are interact? And how do I incorporate that all into a specific sort of operationalized? What am I going to do with these people for the next X number of hours? Should they be together? Should I group them out? Like just really mechanical stuff. I had all this advice about how to do it but because I didn’t do that I didn’t use my own sort of understanding of how the system had to work what happened was it kind of went off the rail. This bigger people and they were like—their arguments are interrupting and it got kind

of messy, lucky for me they were professionals and they recovered I would say probably more due to their own professionalism than my good guidance but it is a really intense experience to be running a roomful of, I want to say it was upwards of 50 people, and to have it really go off the rails badly and you know you’re the one who has to fix it and you don’t know how. 


So after that—first of all I got better at how so I went and learned some stuff about how to run the room but what I really took away from that was it’s not just the individual pieces it’s the system. It’s funny I haven’t thought about this in a while but I actually think that’s kind of the message of iterate too which is any one of these things you can go write really good goals and there’s a whole books about writing goals but if you don’t incorporate that into how you’re running things it’s not enough. You can do really good a group decision-making you can you can study the experts on group decision and every time you put people together you can make the perfect decision. But if you’re feeding in bad information and you’re not talking about the right things it sort of doesn’t matter it’s sort of that higher level you’ve got tied all together that I think was the message for me in that experience which was don’t forget to bring your own intelligence to table and don’t forget to look at the whole instead of just optimizing the parts.


Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you went through that experience because it allowed you to create this book, Iterate, with all the amazing insight that you have in it and the work that you’re still yet to do. And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.


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Jim Rembach:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Ed, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Ed Muzio, are you ready to hoedown? 


Ed Muzio:    I’m ready. 


Jim Rembach:     Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?


Ed Muzio:    I think there’s a couple things there. One of them is time. I have a time problem and I’m very diligent about cutting out family time and that’s a choice, so I think that’s always a challenge for all of us. The other one is I haven’t yet cracked the code of how to help people I abstract things. What I mean is—you read the iterate book and the first example I gave as manufacturing because I had to give a first example and so I did that and then someone puts the book down and goes that’s not about me. I’ve had this happen where it go, here’s an example from finance, they go—we’ll that’s a different industry. Here’s an example from your industry and they go—that was two years ago. And it’s like I don’t know how to crack that piece of humanity that wants to just dismiss it maybe there’s not an answer but I want to figure that out. 


Jim Rembach:     What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?


Ed Muzio:    I had a good friend who told me when you see things circling the drain it falls to you to help not for any ethical reason but because it’ll drive you crazy if you don’t. She was talking about in meetings or in groups and it sort of I think is good piece of advice in terms of that higher level take responsibility for helping those around you because you can and because you should because if you don’t you’re going to suffer with them. 


Jim Rembach:     What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?


Ed Muzio:    I think I believe in boundaries. I think I’m pretty good at that boundary area separating work and family. I get more weekends often made professionals I know and I think that it contributes to my family’s success but I think it also puts me in the right mind frame of order. 


Jim Rembach:     What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?


Ed Muzio:    It sounds so boring but I think my calendar. I have this calendar I have business process my assistant around managing the calendar.  We carry multiple air reservations sometimes, my calendar is a mess she actually use to support a handful of professionals and she said my calendar is worse than all of theirs put together. But it makes us optimal it’s really the key. 


Jim Rembach:     What would be one book you’d recommend to our listeners, it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to Iterate on your show notes page as well.


Ed Muzio:    Okay, I’m always between a business book and a fiction book but I’ll go business book first which is, The Insightful Leader by Carla and Ferguson. She does a really good job taking the opposite perspective on the play of your strengths which is don’t over play to your strengths. I could say a lot more about it but it was really helpful for me to realize that whatever it is results, orientation, personal connection, you can overplay it and do damage as a leader. Shed she has some really good information about how to continue to play through it but not to overdo it. 


Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Muzio. Okay, Ed, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?


Ed Muzio:    I think it would be sort of a longer-range view. There’s the Zen story about the farmer who—the horse runs away and the neighbors say, oh it’s too bad and he goes maybe in the next day. Then he brings the second horse back and neighbor say, what good luck and he goes maybe. The next day the kid breaks his leg trying to train the horse it just goes on. But there’s that concept the kid version for the six-year-old is the chutes and ladders game, which is sometimes you go down a really big chute it feels like you failed but then you spin the right number and you get to go up even bigger ladder. So I think this idea that—it’s the Winston Churchill, success is not final failure is not fatal, it applies to iterations and I think it applies to life as well. Everything is in the broader context you don’t understand it yet so don’t get too wrapped up around the wins and the losses just kind of keep taking every step. 


Jim Rembach:     Ed, it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you? 


Ed Muzio:    Jim, thank you. The book is, Iterate, the book’s website is that’s where those videos are that you mentioned there’s a few right in the home page and the rest you have to register with the book. And then my company is group is Harmonix and that’s groupharmonix com. So those are all tied together and linked to social media if you’re interested. 


Jim Rembach:     Ed Muzio, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot! 


Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links, from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already. Head on over a so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 






3 thoughts on “211: Ed Muzio: I needed to iterate”

  1. Jim’s interview was both broad-reaching and deep-diving. We got as granular as talking about Task Type, and as big-picture as talking about the purpose of management. Really enjoyed my time on your program – thanks Jim!

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