Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tech Savvy: Steve Case on Surfing the Internet’s Next Big Wave

by Theodore Kinni
How to beat the Ubers of tomorrow: The book that every tech titan eventually gets around to penning has been a long time coming from Steve Case. “I am writing this book today,” explains the co-founder of AOL (through which half of the traffic on the Internet once flowed) and the co-architect of its jaw-dropping merger with Time Warner (condolences, Ted Turner), “because we are living at a pivotal point in history, and I want to offer whatever perspective I can to ensure a bright future.”
The perspective that Case offers in The Third Wave (with a bow to futurist Alvin Toffler) will be particularly interesting to the leaders of large companies that are well-established in their industries. He contends that we are entering a new phase of Internet growth. The first wave was focused on creating the infrastructure of the online world; it was dominated by companies like AOL, Cisco, and Microsoft. The second wave was driven by software as a service; it was — and still is — dominated by companies like Google, Uber, and Facebook. The third wave, says Case, will be “an era when the term ‘Internet-enabled’ will start to sound as ludicrous as the term ‘electricity-enabled.’” In this phase, the Internet of Things will become the Internet of Everything.
As the Internet permeates every product and service and spreads through every industry, it will create rich opportunities for established companies, says Case. That’s because there are high barriers to entry in many industries, and creating new platforms within them will require cross-sector partnerships as well as new governmental policies and regulations. An app created in a dorm room isn’t going to be enough to commercialize self-driving cars, for instance. That’s going to take a large-scale, concerted effort — the kind of effort that requires the resources and influence of large, established companies.
That’s the setting for The Third Wave. If you’d like to read more, Case describes what companies will have to do to successfully ride the next, big wave in the excerpt below, reprinted with permission of the publisher... read the rest here

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tech Savvy: People Management by Algorithm

by Theodore Kinni
Social media for CXOs: On March 19, Pope Francis began posting on Instagram. He uploaded 8 images in 4 days and attracted 1.9 million followers. It wasn’t the Supreme Pontiff's first social media foray. He has been tweeting since he was elected 3 years ago, and he has 8.94 million followers on his English-language Twitter account. In terms of social media savvy, the Pope is running circles around most Fortune 500 CEOs.
As of July 28, 2015, 61% of the CEOs had no social media presence at all, according toa study by CEO.com that was released earlier this year. Only 10% of the CEOs were on Twitter, and only 60% of their accounts were active.
A new article, by Emily Jane Fox in Vanity Fair, plumbs the state of tweeting among high-profile CEOs and highlights the internal team — led by Nola Weinstein, Twitter’s head of executive engagement — that encourages them to join the service. But the article suggests an unexpected reason why CEOs and other execs might want to start thinking in 140 characters. “Interestingly,” writes Fox, “the number-one success Weinstein and her team see from executives on Twitter is when they connect with their own colleagues and employees — explaining the reason behind a particular project or campaign, or highlighting a job well done by one of the company’s teams or offices. ‘If you’re a C.M.O. on a global level and you give a global shout-out to a team in Tokyo or Singapore or New York, that goes a long way. The public nature can be very rewarding and gratifying,’ Weinstein said.” ...read the rest here

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

John Elkington’s Required Reading

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, March 30, 2016
Tracing John Elkington’s career is akin to taking a journey through the evolution of corporate social and environmental responsibility over the past five decades. In 1978, he cofoundedEnvironmental Data Services to provide companies with news and analysis of environmental law and policy. In 1987, he cofounded SustainAbility, a think tank and consultancy that promoted sustainable development at the corporate level. And in 2008, he cofounded Volans, a “change agency” that is focused the challenge of creating a sustainable global economy.
Along the way, Elkington introduced a number of concepts that have defined the leading edge of CSR. The most notable of them is the triple bottom line. First posited in his book,Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business (Capstone, 1997), the idea that companies measure their financial, social, and environmental results, has recently become the focus of the B corporation movement.
A prolific writer, Elkington has written 18 other books. The most recent includeThe Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways to Connect Today’s Profits with Tomorrow’s Bottom Line (with Jochen Zeitz, Jossey-Bass, 2014), The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier (Routledge, 2012), and The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World (with Pamela Hartigan, Harvard Business School Press, 2008).
In addition, Elkington is a visiting professor at the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Management, as well as at Imperial College and University College London. In 2013, he was inducted into the Sustainability Hall of Fame by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. In 2015, he received the Ethical Corporation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elkington is a voracious reader and serves as a walking, talking annotated bibliography to the literature of corporate social and environmental responsibility. When I asked him to recommend some of the books he has found most influential and aspirational, he called out the following titles. Beyond tracking the evolution of his thinking, they catalog the development of the sustainability movement itself.
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, by Andrea Wulf (Knopf, 2015). “I grew up with the environmental movement. In 1961, at age 11, I was raising money for the embryonic World Wildlife Fund. Later, I met and worked with pioneers of nature conservation, including WWF cofounders Max Nicholson and Peter Scott. Yet, I was stunned by Andrea Wulf’s eye-opening account of the life and work of Alexander von Humboldt. Yes, I know about the Humboldt Current and I have lectured at Berlin’s Humboldt University, but I didn’t know that their namesake warned of the risks of climate change 200 years ago! Nor did know I about Humboldt’s influence on people ranging from Charles Darwin to another key influencer of my thinking, James Lovelock, the champion of Gaia Theory.”
The Third Wave, by Alvin Toffler (William Morrow, 1980). “No single book had a bigger impact on me than Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It’s dated now, but it introduced me to the notion of paradigm shifts and it prepared me for Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave. Toffler’s message: We had entered the Information Age and that was changing everything.
Toffler, who is best known for his 1970 bestseller on the acceleration of change,Future Shock, renewed my interest in the work of two economists who were often overlooked (and disparaged) in those days, Nikolai Kondratiev andJoseph Schumpeter. Both men saw economic evolution as a series of long waves of investment and disinvestment. (Witness the past investment and, now, the inexorable disinvestment in an economy driven by fossil fuels.) This line of thought spurred my thinking on the societal pressure waves affecting business since 1960. But my biggest debt to Toffler only became clear to me late in 2015, when I reread The Third Waveand stumbled across his reference to ‘multiple bottom lines,’ which no doubt played a part in my conception of the ‘triple bottom line.’”
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance (Ecco Books, 2015). “During the counterculture era, I was enthralled by Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog series and by R. Buckminster Fuller, with his focus on dematerialization. Fuller’s Dymaxion car never took off and neither did most ‘sustainable’ forms of transportation that I later worked on with automakers including Volvo, Ford, and Toyota. But Elon Musk, whose ventures I’ve been tracking since he was more or less unknown, is actually commercializing ideas like these. Ashlee Vance’s extraordinary book explores what he dubs ‘the unified field theory of Musk.’ It makes clear that if there is one person who symbolizes Toffler’s Third Wave or what the World Economic Forum is now dubbing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it’s Elon Musk.
Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do about It), by Salim Ismail, with Michael S. Malone and Yuri van Geest (Diversion Books, 2014). “If a business leader is looking for a summation of the nature and scale of the challenges that capitalism now faces, I’d recommend Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organizations because its targets are exponential in nature. (Andrew Winston’s The Big Pivot would be another.) Exponential dynamics can drive us toward breakdown, as in runaway climate change, but over the past decade, I have become convinced that they also will be needed to address the negative effects of capitalism. Incremental solutions aren’t enough. To achieve exponential results, Ismail challenges leaders to disrupt and reboot their companies. Those of us in the sustainability industry need to do the same thing.” 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tech Savvy: What AlphaGo Means to the Future of Management

by Theodore Kinni
AI as management assistant: The artificial intelligence program AlphaGo got a lot of attention for beating 18-time Go world champion Lee Sedol four out of five games last week. The significance of this achievement is rooted in the extraordinary number of possible moves in Go: 2.08168199382 … × 10170, reportedly more than the number of atoms in the universe.
That’s too many possibilities for brute computing force to handle (which is how IBM’s Deep Blue beat chess master Garry Kasparov 20 years ago). Yet AlphaGo, created by Google DeepMind, formerly British AI company DeepMind Technologies, mastered the 2,500-year-old board game on its own in a matter of months. “It started by studying a database of about 100,000 human matches, and then continued by playing against itself millions of times,” reported science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel at NPR.
Go bragging rights are nice for Google, but what does AlphaGo’s victory mean for management? “These machine-learning methods will also have significant impact on how we perform unstructured and complex business processes and decision-making tasks in day-to-day work,” explains Lei Tang, chief data scientist at Clari, a sales analytics company, in VentureBeat. “AI routinely considers options ignored by human beings … In this sense, AI is creative, helping humans achieve more.”
Tang says that “self-driving” enterprise applications will be managerial assistants that “detect relevant context changes (location, target customer, timing) and deliver relevant information at the moment it is most helpful.” Better yet, like AlphaGo, they will “become smarter as they analyze the results of ongoing operations, such as marketing campaigns, lead conversions, sales meetings, email flows, interactions with customer success teams, or customer churn.” ...read the rest here

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tech Savvy: Is It Time to Build Your Own Platform?

by Theodore Kinni 
Identifying an industry ripe for platform disruption: If you really want to create value, forget about burning platforms and start building them. A platform, explain Geoffrey Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne (professors at Tulane and Boston University associated with the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy), and Sangeet Choudary, founder and CEO of Platform Strategy Labs, in Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, is a “business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem.”
They contend that the ranks of today’s most valuable companies are increasing populated with those that successfully build and control platforms. Think Apple with iTunes, John Deere with its My John Deere Operations Center, and a host of other platform-based companies as diverse as McCormick Foods, Amazon, and Uber.
The problem with platforms is context. The authors think platform-based businesses eventually will come to dominate every industry, but they caution readers that the window of opportunity for launching a successful platform will vary according to the characteristics of a specific industry.
How do you know if and when your industry is ripe for platform disruption? As this excerpt from the forthcoming book (reprinted with permission) details, the emergence of platform businesses is most likely in highly-fragmented industries with non-scalable gatekeepers in which information is both a significant source of value and extremely asymmetrical. The emergence of platform disruption is less likely in resource-intensive industries that are subject to high levels of regulatory control and high failure costs...read the rest here

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

External Talent Needs Management, Too

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, March 15, 2016
Did you hear the one about the senior executive who didn’t think much of the external consultants hired for a project at his Fortune 100 company? He called them “insultants” in meetings in which they were present. Unsurprisingly, his staff picked up and echoed his attitude. The project failed.

Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood, respectively partner emeritus and president of RBL Group, a human resources consulting and development firm, tell this story in their new book, Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts (Harvard Business Review Press, 2016). Agile Talent is a book of particular interest to me for two reasons. First, I am one tiny drop in the ever-swelling ocean of external talent used by companies around the world. Second, on occasion, I have worked for corporate clients who seem hell-bent on getting less than what they are paying me for. This may sound improbable, but it’s happened often enough over the past 25 years that I now try to proactively identify such clients and avoid the lose-lose propositions they present — in my case, writing and editing assignments in which the client will not get full value and I will get agita.
Business leaders should care about these issues. For whether or not they think the economy of tomorrow will be a gig-driven one in which everyone is a freelancer, the corporate use of external talent across sectors and geographies is more common than ever. Younger and Smallwood tick off the reasons why: External talent can provide companies with access to new capabilities and technologies; it can enable faster and more agile response to markets; it can be used to test new opportunities before making major investments; it can be used to respond to demand peaks and to attain scale quickly; and, perhaps most commonly, it can reduce costs.
The problem, to which I can attest, is that most companies don’t have a system in place to ensure that they are optimizing their return on external talent. Instead, they treat external talent with the same narrow “you work, we pay you” mind-set that they abandoned long ago with their own full-time employees because of its negative effects on productivity, loyalty and retention, and quality and customer experience.
The solution, which Younger and Smallwood lay out in rather dry, academic terms in Agile Talent, requires applying many of the same kinds of recruiting and development programs most companies have in place for their internal talent to their external talent: strategic resourcing analysis; onboarding programs; development opportunities; etc. It seems to me that the authors get a little carried away in this regard, transforming the management of external talent into a full-blown functional silo. They suggest, for example, that companies consider appointing a “chief external talent officer.” But then, much of the prescriptive content in this book is aimed at senior human resource professionals in big companies that are using lots of external talent to attain strategic goals. If that describes you and your company, the authors’ advice may be entirely appropriate.
If, however, your company uses external talent to a lesser degree, Agile Talent will pose a bit more of a challenge. You may have to decipher the professional jargon and apply it on a smaller scale. But that would be well worth the effort, because any manager charged with overseeing external talent could improve the return on the company’s investment by adopting some simple practices based on Younger and Smallwood’s thinking.
One such practice would be to devote a bit of time to ensuring that the external talent working in your company understands the strategic context of the tasks they have been hired to conduct. Another would be to break down the “us versus them” wall that too often exists between employees and external talent. A third would be the provision of ongoing performance appraisals.
Regardless of the approach, companies should be taking a fresh look at how they manage external talent. Outsourcing should not mean out of sight and out of mind.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tech Savvy: When to Hire a Robot

by Theodore Kinni
When to hire a robot: Robotics have reached their tipping point, according to International Data Corp. In a newly-released research report, the firm forecasts a near doubling of the worldwide robotics market over the next 4 years — from $71 billion in 2015 to $135.4 billion in 2019. Almost simultaneously, President Obama sent The Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisors to Congress. It says advances in robotics technology are “presaging the rise of a potentially paradigm-shifting innovation in the productivity process.”
Tongue-twisting alliteration aside, this feeds fears that robots may eventually replace most employees (a thesis argued persuasively by Mark Ford in his award-winning book, Rise of the Robots). But how should your company use robotics between now and then? One answer, highlighted in two recent stories, is to hire robots for supporting, rather than primary, roles.
Mercedes-Benz came to this conclusion in a backward sort of way. As the company expanded the number of models and options it offers, it discovered that its existing assembly-line robots could not be adapted quickly and economically enough. So it’s hiring people to replace some of its robots, report Elisabeth Behrmann and Christoph Rauwald inBloombergBusiness, and equipping them “with an array of little machines,” a solution that the car maker calls “robot farming.”
Mark Rolston, the cofounder and chief creative officer of argodesign, sees the design industry following a similar strategy. “It’s easy to see how an AI-infused computer algorithm such as the future Netflix — after a human has completed the initial design and programming — could do the hard work of improving and evolving to accommodate user preferences largely on its own,” he writes in Fast Company’s Co.Design. “Moreover, 90% of product design today happens in the ‘fat middle ground’ between purely aesthetic and purely technical — incrementally tweaking designs, optimizing column widths, and experimenting with color schemes. These tasks are bread and butter for much of the design industry, and they are progressively being automated.” ...read the rest here

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tech Savvy: March 3, 2016

by Theodore Kinni
Wearables at work: It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly three years since the much-discussed and often-derided beta version of Google Glass was released. Since then, the Apple watch has made the cover of Time and there’s been a lot of hype about the future of wearable computing. But how — and where — are wearables actually being used in the workplace?
Mary Pratt offers three examples in a ComputerWorld article. DHL is conducting a pilot program in a Netherlands warehouse, where employees are wearing smart glasses to pick orders — with a 25% improvement in efficiency. After a successful pilot, Lee Company, in the commercial building services space, is in the midst of a full rollout of smart glasses that connect its on-site plumbing and electrical tradespeople to senior techs back in its triage center. And, energy utility Southern Co. is using head-mounted and wrist-mounted devices to record work as a means of ensuring and enhancing employee compliance with procedures in plants and in the field...read the rest here

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tech Savvy: February 26, 2016

by Theodore Kinni
MIT Sloan Management Review, February 26, 2016
When you talk business, starting with Peter Drucker is always a smart move. In Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, Drucker defined the work of business leaders by its three principal tasks: to deliver financial results, to make work and workers productive, and to manage a company’s social impacts and responsibilities. That’s all, and of course, that’s a lot.
There’s been a lot of change since Druckers’s magnum opus was published in 1974. Technological advances, especially digitization, have transformed — and continue to transform — the world in myriad ways large and small. But new technology hasn’t fundamentally changed Drucker’s tasks. Instead, it is giving rise to new and better ways and means of executing and achieving them. This new MIT SMR column aims to help you identify big ideas and new tactics at the intersection of technology and management.
The mobile method to uncovering abuse in the supply chain: The good news about global supply chains is that they offer competitive and cost advantages that were unthinkable when Ford built the first moving assembly line in 1913. The bad news is that the financial and reputational risks associated with such supply chains have increased exponentially. Ignorance is a flimsy defense when a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh kills and injures thousands of people or it is revealed that slave-workers are harvesting seafood in Thailand.
How can a company gain an unvarnished view of what’s happening in far-flung supply chains? One way is to connect with everyone working in the supply chain by tapping into the extraordinarily high penetration of mobile phones globally. That’s what a nonprofit named Good World Solutions is doing with a program that it calls Labor Link, reports associate editor Bouree Lam in The AtlanticLabor Link allows companies to conduct surveys over the mobile phones of employees in their own and suppliers’ facilities. They can question employees about their workplaces and working conditions directly, and employees can respond without fear of reprisals...read the rest here

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cass Sunstein’s Required Reading

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, Feb 24, 2016
Legal scholars rarely attract much attention in the business world. But Cass R. Sunstein is a notable exception to the rule. That’s because the Robert Walmsley University Professor and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School has long explored the intersection of behavioral economics, cognitive psychology, and public policy — three disciplines that have many implications for corporations.
Sunstein is best known among businesspeople as the coauthor, with University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler, of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Yale University Press, 2008). In it, the duo describe how choice architecture — the way in which options are presented — affects how people make decisions. They advocate for embedding unobtrusive, non-mandatory “nudges” in choice architectures to encourage people to make healthier, more financially sound decisions. Subsequent concerns about the potential misuse of nudges (as a tool for manipulation and marketing) prompted Sunstein to launch new explorations into the ways and means of choice architecture. He presented those findings in two more recent books: Why Nudge? The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism (Yale University Press, 2014) and Choosing Not to Choose: Understanding the Value of Choice (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Concurrently, Sunstein teamed up with University of Chicago psychologistReid Hastie to explore another topic of perennial interest to corporate leaders. In Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015), they delved deep into the various errors that can arise in group-based decision-making and offered techniques and tactics for avoiding them.
In addition to building an impressive academic career and a list of published works that includes more than 40 books, Sunstein also served in the Obama administration as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012. In that position, he oversaw the approval of new federal regulations and was charged with confirming that they would do more good than harm.
When I asked Sunstein to share the books that most influenced his thinking on choice architectures and decision making, he offered the following titles and summaries of their contribution.
Quasi Rational Economics, by Richard H. Thaler (Russell Sage Foundation, 1991). “This collects many of Thaler’s greatest hits, in their original form: People dislike losses more than they like corresponding gains; they use separate mental accounts for money (vacation money, retirement money, spending money, savings); they care about fairness. The book contains the foundations of behavioral economics, along with a clear understanding of how people deviate from economic rationality. It's an eye-opener, and Thaler is a funny, brilliant, and terrific writer.”
Why Wages Don't Fall During a Recession, by Truman F. Bewley (Harvard University Press, 1999). “Bewley went into the field during and after the recession of the early 1990s to get to the bottom of wage rigidity. He discovered through hundreds of interviews with recruiters and leaders in business and labor that wages don’t fall in lockstep with falling demand, because people want to be treated fairly and they’ll punish their bosses and employers if they feel mistreated. That’s a major finding, which bears on economic behavior in general: Fairness matters. This is a thick book, but it is full of wisdom, and humanity to boot.”
Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, 2d ed.,  by Irving L. Janis (Houghton Mifflin, 1982). “This is the seminal work on group decision making, with one of the best titles ever. It’s all about conformity and deference to leaders, and why such deference is bad for organizations. In some ways it’s more like a set of short stories than social science, but they’re terrific stories — the Bay of Pigs, the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the Watergate coverup among them. The book is a warning to all leaders, along with prescriptions for doing better.”
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). “Already a classic — I think it’s one of the great books of the past 100 years. Somehow Kahneman manages to make every page a pleasure, and there is at least one ‘wow’ every two pages. If there’s one book to read on decision making, and about human foibles, this is it.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to Whistle While You Work

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, February 17, 2016
I like being happy. I like it so much that I’ve made more than a few difficult career decisions in order to avoid things that make me unhappy — things like working with people who treat me badly, long days trotting after carrots that always seem to hang just out of reach, and countless hours on planes, trains, and buses. Each “I would prefer not to” came at a professional and financial cost. But, hey, I figured, I’ve only got one life.
So you can imagine the dismay I felt upon reading The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success (Harper One, 2016), by Emma Seppälä. In it, Seppälä, the science director of Stanford School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, argues that the pursuit of happiness is actually a key to achieving professional success — not an obstacle to it.
Unlike much of the literature about happiness at work, The Happiness Track doesn’t approach its subject from an organizational perspective. There are no free lunches on offer. Instead, Seppälä focuses on six personal “strategies for attaining happiness and fulfillment [that] may, in fact, be the key to thriving professionally.” If you’re familiar with the discipline of Positive Psychology, it’s likely that you’ll have run across these ideas before: be in the moment; nurture your resilience; manage your energy; access your creativity; be good to yourself; be compassionate.
Seppälä taps a variety of research to explain and illuminate the six strategies and the challenges that adopting them can entail. One of the studies she cites to support her contention that doing nothing isn’t so easy sent me scurrying in disbelief to the source. Timothy Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, put subjects in a room alone and gave them the option of doing nothing at all or pushing a button to give themselves an electric shock. All the subjects said they would pay to avoid the shock. And yet 67 percent of the men and 25 percent of women chose to shock themselves rather than be alone with their thoughts, even after receiving a sample shock.
Seppälä offers a set of simple tactics for practicing the pursuit of happiness. Several of them, such as the breathing, meditation, and active listening techniques, are recommended more than once. Seppälä also cites some of the creativity-enhancing tactics that Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire described in Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. But as with that book, practices that are intended to foster different mental states sometimes contradict one another. For example, you should immerse yourself in an experience to be fully in the present moment. At the same time, you must divorce yourself from the moment to be objective and calm. It seems one secret to happiness is knowing which strategy to pursue in a given situation.   
Although I don’t doubt that you’ll be happier at work if you follow Seppälä’s advice, I don’t find her thesis — that happiness accelerates career success — convincing.  “Decades of research have shown that happiness is not theoutcome of success,” she declares, “but rather its precursor.” That sounds definitive, but I wonder if the relationship between happiness and professional success is more akin to the relationship between happiness and longevity. In December 2015, The Lancet reported the results of a long-term study that included more than 700,000 women aged 50–69 in the U.K. It found no correlation between the subjects’ happiness and the length of their lives. Would a similar study of CEOs reveal that there is no correlation between happiness and professional success? Don’t we all know highly successful people who are desperately unhappy?
Regardless of the correlation, to me, there is no one more pitiful than someone who has attained all the trappings of success and is miserable nonetheless. Striving not to be one of those people is the best reason to read The Happiness Track.

Aaron Hurst’s Required Reading

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, February 2, 2016
Purpose is Aaron Hurst’s purpose. His career has been devoted to helping people gain more meaning and fulfillment from their work. Furthermore, he believes the quest for purpose among an ever-increasing number of people and organizations is a driving force behind several notable economic developments, including the rising number of tech startups, the maker and local movements, and the sharing and gig economies.
In 2001, Hurst harnessed the growing desire and demand for purpose by founding the Taproot Foundation. Since then, the online marketplace, which connects nonprofit organizations to professionals in a wide variety of fields, has facilitated the delivery of more than $150 million in pro bono services. In 2008, Hurst was instrumental in the conception of the White House– sponsored initiative A Billion Change, which enrolled more than 50 companies and pledges of more than $1 billion in pro bono services in its first year.
More recently, Hurst launched Imperative, a for-profit technology platform that helps individuals and organizations tap the power of purpose. He is the author of The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth, and Community Is Changing the World (Elevate, 2014), as well as the2015 Workforce Purpose Index, the first in series of annual studies that will explore the size and characteristics of the purpose-oriented workforce.

I asked Hurst which books he found most inspirational and informative on the subject of purpose. He recommended the following three titles.
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl (Verlag Jugend & Volk, 1946). Frankl transformed his horrific experience as an inmate and forced laborer at the Auschwitz concentration camp into one of the most inspiring and influential books of the last century. It is a book that in its very existence powerfully conveys one of the most important lessons we can learn about purpose: Purpose isn’t a luxury — it is a choice.
Frankl believed that meaning — a synonym for purpose — is present in every moment of our lives, and we need only let it in to tap its power. While the conditions in which we work and live affect our well-being, freedom ultimately isn’t dependent on our environment. Instead, it flows from how we inhabit and react to each moment. Even in suffering and death, the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist concluded, we can find meaning and purpose.
In Western culture, we tend to look to our employers and jobs for meaning. While our work is an important source of meaning, leaders should read and periodically reread Frankl to remind themselves and their teams that, at the end of the day, meaning comes from within each of us and therefore is primarily an individual responsibility.
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth (Wharton School Publishing, 2007). Now in its second edition, Firms of Endearment studies a group of companies that have reported extremely high growth rates. Their competitive advantage, according to marketing experts Sisodia, Wolfe, and Sheth: passion and purpose.
Firms of Endearment empowers CEOs who are purpose-oriented with the business rationale and practices needed to act on their values and transform their organizations into purpose-driven success stories. The case studies are particularly diverse, covering various industries and stages in the corporate life cycle. If you need to make a compelling case for purpose to your board, investors, or team, this book is an indispensable reference.
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, by Adam Grant (Viking, 2013). In Give and Take, Wharton prof Adam Grant makes the case for embracing a purpose orientation in your own career. He shares the eye-opening results of his research on people who focus on giving versus taking at work, which proves that putting the needs of others ahead of your own is the foundation for success. That’s because when we serve others, we build strong, trusting relationships that drive results.
As it turns out, a mind-set of giving is also a primary characteristic of people who are purpose-oriented. Thus, Give and Take provides a model that we can all study and embrace if we want to act with greater purpose, enhance our performance at work, and achieve greater fulfillment in our careers and higher levels of well-being. This book is the basis for how we should be developing ourselves, hiring talent, and raising our kids.

The Miracle of Creativity

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, January 20, 2016
There’s a great cartoon by Sidney Harris that sums up every book I’ve read about creativity. Two scientists are standing in front of a blackboard looking at a mathematical equation. In the middle of the equation are the words, “Then a miracle occurs.” One scientist says to the other, “I think you should be more explicit here in Step Two.” As in that equation, there seems to be an essential and impenetrable mystery to the creative process.
In this regard, the most recent addition to the groaning shelf of creativity books, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (Perigee, 2015), by Scott Barry Kaufmanand Carolyn Gregoire, is not much different than its predecessors. Kaufman and Gregoire are something of a dream team for such a book: He is the scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and she is a senior writer at the Huffington Post who specializes in the human mind. Nevertheless, this dynamic duo is unable to fully explain the creation of Picasso’s Guernica, much less Shigeru Miyamoto’s Super Mario Bros
Unlike most creativity authors, however, Kaufman and Gregoire admit that prying open this particular black box may be beyond our ken. They repeatedly call out creativity’s contradictory nuances. For instance, they tell us thatmindfulness, as championed by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, is both an important ingredient of creativity and an obstacle in its path. Mindfulness helps when it enables us to be more attentive and observant; it is a hindrance when it interrupts our ability to attain the state of flow, which psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has championed. “Creative observation is a skill that requires a balance of paying attention to the world around us and of tuning into our own inner landscape — a balance of mindfulness, a focused, nonjudgmental awareness on the present moment, and mind wandering,” explain Kaufman and Gregoire.   
A call to embrace the messy business of creativity can sometimes make for a bewildering mix of advice. But it also enables the authors to avoid the kind of step-by-step prescriptions that transform the creative process into a rote and often fruitless exercise. Indeed, they say, “this delicate, and sometimes extreme, dance of contradictions may be precisely what gives rise to the intense inner drive to create.” 
Instead of a detailed process, Wired to Create includes ten “habits of mind.” They are labelled: imaginative play, passion, daydreaming, solitude, intuition, openness to experience, mindfulness, sensitivity, turning adversity to advantage, and thinking differently. It’s less about doing and more about being. The habits support and foster the “fundamental thought processes, creative problem-solving skills, and ways of being” that the authors claim underlay every kind of creativity. 
The habits, Kaufman and Gregoire tell us, are derived from scouring scientific research over the past hundred years and also extracting “common themes from within the minds and lives of eminent creators throughout the course of human history.” In other words, if you’ve read other books on creativity and the human mind, you’ve probably seen some of this stuff before.
It would be nice to report that Wired to Create is the uber-text on creativity. At the start of the book, when the authors devote a chapter to describing the evolutionary development of creativity theory and process, it seems like they might be going for it. But while they also include a bit of practical advice for getting your creative juices flowing for each of the habits of mind (or operationalizing them, if you prefer), they don’t fully deliver on an all-enveloping theory. In the end, Kaufman and Gregoire concede, “Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. We human beings are messy creatures, to be sure, and creativity is a process that that reflects our fundamentally and chaotic and multifaceted nature. It is both deliberate and uncontrollable, mindful and mindless, work and play.” 
And then a miracle occurs.