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Hey there <teamMember>!

Welcome to my management readme. This is your guide to all things relevant to working with Max Wessel.

Every manager is different. Mastering each’s idiosyncrasies can be one of the most successful paths towards building a good working relationship. Like everyone, I have a unique style. My hope in writing this document is that I can make my style a bit more explicit. Consider it a guide to getting the most out of me as we push forward towards delivering a lot of impact.

I also want to state clearly this is not a leadership guide. I try to maintain a very principled approach to leadership. But this is my operating system as a manger. (If you’re interested in learning more about my leadership style and principles, please take a look at this article.) If you read this, you’ll understand how my system boots up in the morning when I have my first cup of coffee. The intention is that knowledge helps you navigate the array! …


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Clayton Christensen passed away earlier this year. Those of you that know me, know that it would be impossible for me to summarize what I learned from Clay in a short article. There isn’t one lesson. There are years of everyday observations of how to be a better thinker, friend, and most importantly person. It is impossible to know who I would be today if it weren’t for my years camped outside the good professor’s office.

Many of Clay’s most important ideas were captured in articles or books. But there is one lesson that I have taken with me through every day of my leadership journey. …


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When I matriculated at Harvard Business School, I was just 23 years old. I had no idea how the world actually operated. My conception of how business worked was based experiences jockeying spreadsheets and dealing with financial models. It wasn’t anywhere close to reality.

That changed after I met Joseph Lassiter. I was lucky enough to take two courses with Professor Lassiter during my second year of business school and spend a fair bit of time with him in the years that followed. …


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In early 2011, I received a call. Clay Christensen was on the other end of the line. It was a call I knew might come, but didn’t actually expect. He asked me if I’d want to join his think tank at the Harvard Business School. I accepted on the spot.

At the time, I knew Clay’s writing. The Innovator’s Dilemma transformed my way of thinking about business. I didn’t really know Clay. Before the call, we’d only had a short conversation in his office. …


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Product is a funny discipline. Wedged between design, engineering, and the customer, what makes a great product manager seems difficult to capture. Some argue it’s a mastery of the process. Some argue its a business mind coupled with a keen eye for design. Some believe it’s just the translation of complex concepts across three very different tribes. But these simplifications don’t satisfy. Plenty of great product leaders only scrape by in any of these areas. And plenty of marginal product leaders excel in one or more of these categories.

Why is it so hard to capture? Because great product leadership isn’t about the product leader. It’s about the product. Anyone trying to hire, groom, or manage a product unit needs to understand that the first, and most critical hurdle, for understanding what will define a great product leader is whether they understand the essence of a great product: opinion. …


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In December of 2012, I was sitting in SAP’s New York office planning the launch of a new business unit with one of our North American sales leaders, Chris Ball. …


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Ben Ouyang coached the Walt Whitman High School volleyball team for two years of my high school career. He wasn’t a titan of business. He was a guidance counselor. And his impact on my life has been profound.

My junior year of high school, Coach Ouyang took over a mediocre team of volleyball players in a region where volleyball didn’t really matter too much. In fact, it didn’t matter too much to most of my teammates. But it mattered a great deal to me. I took volleyball very seriously — playing almost every day of the year. …


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Tom Lutz. Tom Lutz has changed lives. Hundreds of them. So I can’t possibly capture all of Tom’s wisdom in a single post. The thousands of BCG’ers around the globe who’ve worked with Tom will testify to this fact. So I won’t even try. Instead, I’m going only to recount one of the most impactful lessons for me.

It was 2008 and I was on my first project for Tom. (I was lucky to have a couple.)

It was the beginning of the great recession and things seemed to be getting worse everywhere. In consulting it was as bad as it could be. When the world is falling apart, no one wants to spend money on contract work. As we all panicked, Tom was steady. He continued to dole out his textbook wisdom to those of us around him preparing to make the wrong choices. …


The article was originally published in the Harvard Business Review on September 4, 2017: https://hbr.org/2017/09/why-preventing-disruption-in-2017-is-harder-than-it-was-when-christensen-coined-the-term

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Every winter, my colleagues and I invite CEOs of some of the world’s largest businesses to join our students at Stanford University. Those that do spend an evening discussing the challenges of digital disruption with us and some of the brightest MBA students on the planet. Invariably, each CEO we host recognizes two truths: Digital disruption will reshape their industry in one fashion or another and they must find a way to embrace these changes.

Yet, despite the fact that all of our guests across our 18 sessions (and counting) have embraced these truths, the average result of such commitments to innovation seems to have been tenuous. …


The article was co-authored by Aaron Levie and Robert Siegel. It was originally published in the Harvard Business Review on May 4, 2017: https://hbr.org/2017/05/why-some-digital-companies-should-resist-profitability-for-as-long-as-they-can

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When most of the great companies of the industrial era were founded, even the most brilliant economists believed deeply in the law of diminishing marginal returns. At its core, the principle means that the more of something that is made, the less valuable each incremental unit of that something becomes. If there were one pound of chocolate in the entire world, only the wealthiest individuals could afford to taste its unique flavor. …

About

Maxwell Wessel

Chief Innovation Officer @SAP. Faculty @Stanford. Lucky recipient of great friends and brilliant colleagues.

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