Chain of Learning: 8 | Wiring the Winning Organization [with Gene Kim and Steven Spear]

Have you ever wondered why some organizations consistently outperform others? 

And why, even when using the same tools and methodologies, some companies are able to leverage them to achieve success whereas at others they just become the flavor of the month?

If you are curious about the answers, you won’t want to miss this episode with Steve Spear and Gene Kim where we unpack what makes companies “great” and explore key concepts in their new book, “Wiring the Winning Organization: Liberating our Collective Greatness through Slowification, Simplification, and Amplification”. 

Together, we peel back the layers of organizational innovation and problem-solving to focus on the critical – and often missing elements – for high performance.

Tune in to discover the role that management systems and leadership play in shaping an organization’s success, and the mechanisms that enable innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration across large, complex organizations.

It makes no difference what you call it  – lean, agile, DevOps –  wiring your organization to win always comes back to the principles of good leadership.

If you are a leader, an operational excellence practitioner, or simply someone aspiring to create and thrive in a winning organization, this is an episode you can’t afford to miss.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What defines a winning organization and separates great organizations from “not great” ones
  • How to navigate from the “danger zone” to the “winning zone” 
  • The three layers of organizational problem-solving and continuous improvement 
  • The critical role of leadership and management systems in creating conditions for success
  • The sociotechnical mechanisms of winning organizations: slowification, simplification, and amplification
  • Three questions leaders should ask daily to enable a profound organizational transformation
  • Leadership behavior shifts to be more effective in wiring your organization – and team –  to win

Hit play now to discover how you can build a high-performing organization and wire your organization for greatness.

About my guests:

Steve Spear is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and is a renowned thought leader in the field of organizational excellence and high-performance organizations. 

Gene Kim is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author and former CTO of TripWire, specializing in improving software development and IT management for high-performing technology organizations.




  • 01:30 Introduction of Steve Spear and Gene Kim
  • 03:41 Definition of a winning organization
  • 04:02 Understanding what high performance is
  • 06:10 Disparities in organizational performance and the role of management systems
  • 07:53 Common mechanisms of performance 
  • 09:55 The three layers
  • 10:06 Social circuitry
  • 11:13 Capability and competency
  • 13:50  The socio part of the sociotechnical system
  • 14:05 Mr. Yoshino’s paint mistake story
  • 15:49 Paul O’Neill’s three critical questions for leaders
  • 18:50 The role of leaders in creating conditions that enable individuals to succeed
  • 19:07 How to move from the danger zone to the winning zone
  • 19:17 Slowification, simplification, and amplification
  • 21:29  Culture of learning and improvement through social circuitry
  • 25:30 How slowfication helps winning organizations
  • 30:24 The performance paradox and learning zones
  • 31:17 The importance of simulating disasters 
  • 33:03 Misuse of terminology and principles i.e., “lean”
  • 35:12 Interrelationship between management practices
  • 37:18 Lessons learned from the writing and collaboration process
  • 43:09 Steve and Gene’s behaviors to be more effective in wiring winning organizations
  • 47:17 Breaking the telling habit