CEO Martha Samuelson Interviewed in New Book on Leadership, Culture, and Innovation

January 08, 2014

In Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation, bestselling author and New York Times columnist Adam Bryant interviewed CEOs including Martha Samuelson on topics ranging from culture and problem solving to employee performance. In the chapter "Surfacing Problems," Ms. Samuelson recounts how she evolved her approach to creating "an organization where people feel it's safe to bring a problem to their managers and ask for advice." By inviting people to come to her with a problem, she says, she sets an example: "You don't want it to be like you're putting a Band-Aid over a piece of glass in your arm, because the piece of glass is still there. You want to have somebody help you take the piece of glass out."

In the chapter "Knocking Down Silos," Ms. Samuelson discusses how the firm's collaborative culture is rooted in a common financial foundation, by maintaining one P&L across all the offices and practices: "We don't have sales credits for the partners," she explains. "We have a trust-based system for setting partner compensation, and it's based on a belief that we're in a longer game together … we're not a star system."

Ms. Samuelson was originally interviewed for Mr. Bryant's New York Times column The Corner Office.