Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Physician, Disrupt Thyself

strategy+business, September 19, 2018

by Theodore Kinni


If I were a senior executive in healthcare, it would scare the hell out of me to learn that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway fame, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon formed an independent company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” to provide “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost” to a million or so of their U.S. employees. The fact that the CEOs chose surgeon and author Atul Gawande — an outspoken critic of the healthcare industry’s practices — to lead it wouldn’t settle my nerves. The news might even be jarring enough to induce me to read Vijay Govindarajan and Ravi Ramamurti’s Reverse Innovation in Health Care. Although that might prove cold comfort indeed.

“The real reason the health-care debate hasn’t gotten anywhere is that would-be reformers are debating about the wrong things,” declare Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor of Management at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, and Ramamurti, University Distinguished Professor of International Business and Strategy at Northeastern University. “It’s not about who pays for what. Skyrocketing health insurance premiums are just a symptom of the underlying problem. The problem with American health care is that it costs too much, the quality is uneven, and too many people can’t get the care they need.”

The professors thus blame providers for the fact that the U.S. healthcare system is by far the most expensive in the world while its supposed beneficiaries rank 37th globally in average life expectancy. Healthcare delivery is the problem, they argue.

As we quibble about everything healthcare-related in the U.S., I could quibble with Govindarajan and Ramamurti about whether providers or payors or patients or the fee-for-service, free-market healthcare system itself is to blame for this mess. Clearly, the costs of the U.S. healthcare system have been rising far above the rate of inflation. And given the fact that my very healthy family’s health insurance is its biggest annual outlay, I, for one, would welcome relief from any quarter. 

Reverse Innovation in Health Care argues that the quarter that the relief is going to come from is…India, which ranks 104th in life expectancy. On the surface, this seems so outlandish that the authors had to include an appendix of questions and answers titled “India? Really?” After they spend an entire book making their case, they had to make it again! ...read the rest here

Friday, September 14, 2018

Making Change Contagious

strategy+business, September 13, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Much of the conventional wisdom about the diffusion of new ideas, behaviors, and innovations comes from network science, where it tracks back to two sources: Mark Granovetter’s influential theory of weak ties and Albert-László Barabási’s work on network hubs. But in the past decade or so, researchers have revealed some nuances to their ideas that leaders undertaking change initiatives, especially full-scale transformations, should consider.

In 1973, the American Journal of Sociology published a much-cited article titled “The Strength of Weak Ties,” by Granovetter, then an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University. Based on research Granovetter had done while earning his Ph.D. at Harvard, the article introduced the idea that people with whom you share few connections (your weak ties) are more conducive to the diffusion of your ideas than people with whom you share many connections (your strong ties). That’s because weak ties speed diffusion by extending your reach to more people you don’t know, while strong ties produce a kind of echo chamber in which whatever you are trying to spread reverberates among people you already know — slowing diffusion.




Illustration by mathisworks

But what if the theory of weak ties, which is now widely accepted, isn’t as universally applicable as it seems? Damon Centola, an associate professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks this is the case. In a new book, How Behavior Spreads, Centola describes his work — and the work of other social network researchers — over the past several years. He explains that strong ties can be better conduits for diffusion than weak ties in some situations. It all depends on what kind of diffusion (or contagion) you are trying to encourage...read the rest here

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Why design thinking is now an essential capability for HR (and how to adopt it)

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

InsideHR, September 10, 2018

by Jeff Mike




HR is undergoing a fundamental shift. The rigid, policy-driven programs and processes of yesterday, which were primarily focused on compliance, efficiency, and conventional approaches to talent management, are giving way. Leading HR practitioners are replacing top-down programs and processes with more agile, worker-centric offerings – offerings that are personalised for employees and that are informed by a robust understanding of work and workforce segments – and design thinking can play an important role in this process.

Bersin research backs this up, and high-performing HR organisations are 3.5 times more likely to focus relentlessly on user experience when designing HR offerings than lower-performing organisations. This is a significant finding: High-performing HR organisations are also associated with a host of positive business outcomes, such as meeting or exceeding financial targets, improved processes, greater responsiveness to change, and enhanced innovation. It is also why design thinking is becoming an essential HR capability.

A design thinking mindset can drive results

Design thinking is more than a set of rote practices. It requires a mindset composed of three elements:
  • User-centered design, which places the employee at the heart of the design;
  • Human-centered design, which ensures that the design speaks to the emotions of users;
  • Soft systems methodology, which ensures that multiple, divergent perspectives are incorporated into the design process.
When HR practitioners operationalise this mindset, they can achieve impressive results. Witness one of largest companies powering prosperity, use of design thinking to re-engineer its candidate assessment and selection process. The online financial solutions company’s redesign produced a 14-point increase in quality of hire (with almost two-thirds of new hires now receiving the highest quality rating), reduced average time to fill 12 days (or almost 20 per cent), and boosted new-hire net promoter scores by 14 per cent year over year.

A global leader in consumer transaction technologies used design thinking to address high rates of employee attrition, especially among new hires and key worker categories, such as customer engineers. It developed and used its new employee experience model to rebuild its onboarding process. The result: the volume of new hires who left dropped by 22 per cent, resulting in a savings of $7 million. In addition, turnover within the critical customer engineer segment fell from 34 per cent to 10.9 per cent...read the rest here.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Organizational Culture: Myths and Management

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, Sept. 2018

by David Mallon


Organizational culture. It can be a free-flowing front of competitive advantage or an insurmountable obstacle to change. What it can’t be, is ignored.

It can’t be ignored because culture persists. Strip away everything else from a company—its strategy, operating model, and customer offerings—and its culture remains. That’s a major reason why 82 percent of the respondents to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey cited culture as a potential competitive advantage.

The persistence of culture is a good news/bad news story. The good news is that an organization’s culture—that is, the norms, values, and behaviors that govern how things get done within a company—can make it strong and resilient. The bad news is that an organization’s culture can threaten its very existence if it is too hidebound to accept change. The paradox is that both the good news and the bad news can exist in the same culture.

These days, employees and customers are demanding greater cultural clarity and authenticity than ever before. They especially want “the way we do things around here” to include a robust concern for corporate citizenship, which we at Bersin define as a company’s ability to do social good and account for its actions. In our 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 77 percent of the respondents cited citizenship as important and 36 percent rated it as very important. Read the rest here

Thursday, August 23, 2018

When Prediction Gets Cheap

strategy+business, August 8, 2018

by Theodore Kinni


I don’t usually write mash notes, but I recently sent one to Waze via Twitter. I figured the navigation app had helped me avoid more than 100 hours of traffic jams over a couple of years, and I felt compelled to declare my undying gratitude.

After reading Prediction Machines, by three Rotman School of Management professors, it turns out I’m not so much enamored with Waze as I am with the technology that powers it: artificial intelligence (AI). It is AI that enables the app to predict the best routes for its users.

According to Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, who are also, respectively, founder, chief economist, and chief data scientist of the Creative Destruction Lab, prediction is the essential output of AI. “The current generation of AI provides the tools for prediction and little else,” they write. “Today, AI tools predict the intention of speech (Amazon’s Echo), predict command context (Apple’s Siri), predict what you want to buy (Amazon’s recommendations), predict which links will connect you to the information you want to find (Google search), predict when to apply the brakes to avoid danger (Tesla’s Autopilot), and predict the news you will want to read (Facebook’s newsfeed).”

This is the key insight of Prediction Machines, and it is an extraordinarily useful one for any executive who has been grappling with the implications and ramifications of AI. AI will automate prediction, and as a result, prediction will become cheap. “Therefore, as economics tells us,” explain the authors, “not only are we going to start using a lot more of it, but we are going to see it emerge in surprising new places.” Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Why Wandering Works Wonders for Managers

strategy+business, August 2, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

If you occupy the heights of the business world, staying grounded can be a challenge. The longer you reside atop a corporate Mount Olympus, the less connected you may become to the mundane world of work occupied by the rest of us and, perhaps more dangerously, the customers who pay the bills.

I’ve been investigating some whimsical solutions for leaders who need to get their feet back on the ground. One of them is the practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Forest bathing, essentially hanging out in nature, sounds like nothing more than a walk in the woods to me. But Dr. Qing Li, a professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, whose book on the topic was published in April, says it “takes us all the way home to our true selves.” Sounds like a boon for leaders who want to be more authentic — or who just enjoy a good hike.




Photograph by XiXinXing / Alamy

If you don’t have a forest nearby, you can try "earthing." As Clinton Ober, a former cable TV salesman turned earthing evangelist, describes it in a book he coauthored, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, the ground below your feet is chock-full of negatively charged electrons that can neutralize the positively charged free radicals building up in your body from stress and other bad stuff. You can absorb these healing electrons by walking around barefoot (on a beach, preferably). If you don’t have time for the beach, you can buy an earthing mat, plug it in, and stick it under your desk. Maybe it’ll work — who knows?

I’m always looking for an excuse to go for a walk, whether it’s in a forest or on a beach. I’m also a skeptic. And you may be, too. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is important that leaders stay grounded — if not in the natural world, then surely in the businesses they are responsible for shepherding...read the rest here

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Three Ways to Find STEM Talent in Tight Labor Markets

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss, August 2018

by David Mallon



It doesn’t take much more than a glance at job statistics to gauge the shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers. In 2016, in the U.S., 13 STEM jobs were posted online for each unemployed STEM worker—roughly three million more jobs than job seekers. In the fourth quarter of 2017, it took 40 days to fill an ICT (information and communication technology) job in Australia—an increase of nearly 50 percent in two years. This year, a study revealed a shortfall of 173,000 STEM workers in the U.K.—with attendant costs to employers of £1.5 billion annually.

The consequences of this persistent shortage of STEM workers aren’t relegated to technology companies. All sorts of enterprises need data scientists, app developers, and STEM workers in a host of other specialties, including cybersecurity, AI, voice tech, and robotics. Moreover, STEM skills are increasingly required in jobs that aren’t categorically technical in nature: the Business-Higher Education Forum reported that 67 percent of the 2.35 million job postings in the U.S. in 2015 were “analytics-enabled.” These include management jobs that require the ability to use decision-making technologies, and functional jobs, like HR and marketing, in which the use of analytics is becoming commonplace.

So, what can your company do to ensure a ready supply of candidates with STEM skills when they are already scarce, and demand is likely to make them scarcer still in the years ahead? Here are three ideas that have worked for other companies...read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Practicing these 5 principles could help your organization improve profitability by 82 percent

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

InsideHR, July 31, 2018

by Madhura Chakrabarti





People analytics has emerged as an essential competency for professionals across the HR function. One major reason: profitability. Last year, a Bersin research study, which included a survey of 900 HR and business leaders across a wide range of companies, found that organisations with the highest level of people analytics maturity reported a three-year average profit that was 82 per cent higher than those with the lowest level of maturity. Unfortunately, our research also revealed that only two per cent of the organisations surveyed has reached the highest level of people analytics maturity.

One big reason why so few companies have a mature people analytics capability is the lack of data literacy in HR. Many HR departments have core people analytics teams, but the expertise they contain is siloed. Our research found that the HR staff in nearly 60 per cent of organisations do not yet have basic data literacy skills.

One demonstrated solution is upskilling. HR practitioners need knowledge and skills to use data and analytics. When we looked at how organisations with the highest level of people analytics maturity attained that status, we found that their success at scaling data literacy across HR was supported by five action principles...read the rest here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chaos Is Not a Viable Leadership Style

strategy+business, July 19, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Thirty years ago, the business world had a fling with chaos theory — the idea that although nonlinear systems, such as markets and companies, are inherently unpredictable, some order exists within them nonetheless. Tom Peters told us that chaotic markets harbored valuable business opportunities. Meg Wheatley said that chaotic companies were more adaptive, creative, and resilient than hierarchical companies. But I don’t recall anyone recommending chaos as a leadership style.

To be sure, there are prominent leaders today who adopt chaos as their modus operandi. Take Brandon Truaxe, the CEO of Deciem, a fast-growing Canada-based beauty products company that expects to record US$300 million in sales this year.

Since January 2018, here are a few things he has done. Truaxe fired his social media team and started posting strange messages on Deciem’s Instagram account, including, as described in Elle, “closeup videos of him talking disjointedly about the popular skin-care line’s vision, a river flowing around a mass of garbage, and a photo of a dead sheep, captioned with a promise to never test products on animals.” He fired co-CEO Nicola Kilner, which prompted chief financial officer Stephen Kaplan to quit. (In July, Kilner rejoined the company.) Truaxe also emailed the company’s employees, “I’m done with DECIEM and EVERYTHING. No need to discuss.”




Illustration by Dina Belenko / Alamy

One big benefit of being a chaotic leader is that you get a lot of attention. In this social media–driven, attention-addled, 24/7 world, it could be that the quantity of attention matters more than its content. Indeed, even as media and customer reactions to Truaxe’s actions turned negative, the company’s products continued selling briskly. “All they’re (his actions) doing is creating more sales for me,” Truaxe told WWD.

Well, maybe. But before you adopt a chaotic leadership style for its Barnum-like marketing effects, you probably should pause to consider what it does to the people and organizations that you are charged with leading. Chaotic leaders are like Loki, the trickster of Norse mythology, who sows the seeds of confusion and discord...read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Enthusiasms of Tom Peters

strategy+business, July 10, 2018

by Theodore Kinni


A couple of years ago, prior to an interview with Tom Peters, I visited his website to see what he was up to. I found the answer in a gargantuan 4,000-slide PowerPoint deck that Peters titled, with his trademark typographic hyperbole, “THE WORKS.” By way of introduction to the deck, he wrote, “Make no mistake…THIS IS A 17-CHAPTER BOOK…which happens to be in PowerPoint format.”

The Excellence Dividend punctuates that claim almost as well as the ! that Peters adopted as his corporate logo after two years of noodling 25 years ago. The paperback is an annotated version of “The Works” — a fleshed-out outline that frequently depends on fonts to make its points.

The CEO’s first commandment, per Peters?
“CEO Job #1 is setting — and micro-nourishing, one day, one hour, one minute at a time — an effective people-truly-first, innovate-or-die, excellence-or-bust corporate culture.
The key words in my declaration are…
one day, one hour, one minute at a time.”

The best way to keep up in a fast-changing world?
“READ! READ!! READ!!! READ!!!!”

The world’s most underserved market?
“W = >2 x (C + I) = $28T
Women’s Market Size = More Than Two Times China Plus India Combined = $28 Trillion”


Swallowing such a book whole is exhausting, mainly because it is delivered with such brio and packed with enough insight and advice to keep you busy for the next 50 years. When I review a book, I fold page corners, underline in ink, and scrawl marginalia. I folded so many pages in The Excellence Dividend that its top right corner is half again as thick as the rest of the book. I ran a new pen dry while reading it; at first I thought the pen was defective.

As you may be starting to suspect, The Excellence Dividend is a 450-page boldbardment of ideas, facts, figures, memes, and manifestos. Peters calls it the sum total of his 50-year career, more than half of which he’s spent as a leading light of management thought. Read the rest here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Wee Gunmen of Glasgow: On Crime as Industry in Malcolm Mackay’s Tartan Noir

Los Angeles Review of Books, June 29, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

MANIPULATIVE LEADERS. Poor working conditions. A crappy work-life balance. Benefits? Don’t make me laugh. Apart from the illegality and violence, being a criminal isn’t very different from any other career.

Like most other jobs, crime doesn’t pay that well unless you’re the boss or indispensable to the boss. And you know the rule of thumb there: no one is indispensable. At least that’s the way Malcolm Mackay tells it in six interrelated noir novels, published at a gallop over four years by Mulholland Books in the United States and concluding in May with For Those Who Know the Ending.

“I don’t know if a career in crime is necessarily worse than any other, but it is more complicated,” Mackay explained to me in an email exchange.

Every issue that you face in a normal job exists there, too, but with the added complication of some good people wanting to put you in prison and other bad people wanting to take a hammer to your ankles. One thing I did want to get across is that working in the criminal industry doesn’t come with some incredibly glamorous lifestyle to compensate for the difficulties. It’s a grind filled with people looking to exploit you at every turn, and who will help and protect you only so long as it benefits them to do so.
Mackay has been telling it this way since the first clipped sentence of his first novel, The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter: “It starts with a telephone call.” In this case, it’s a call that many gig workers have received at one time or other — a client has a full-time position to fill and is wondering whether the freelancer might be ready for a steady paycheck. It’s three more terse chapters before Mackay makes it clear that this freelancer, Calum MacLean, is a gunman, and the caller, John Young, is the chief operating officer of a fast-growing crime organization headed by Peter Jamieson.

“This might sound counterintuitive and a bit daft, but I wanted the opening of Lewis Winter to seem really ordinary,” Mackay told me.

I wanted Calum to seem as though he could have been any young man and to have the phone call that sets up the interview seem like any employer looking to hire a person. It establishes, I hope, that Calum is an unremarkable person, even if he does unthinkable things, and that the industry he works within can operate in unremarkable ways. I wanted to show the gap between law-abiding people and criminals like him is perhaps not as great as we assume.
Mackay hails from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. But unlike Peter May, who made dramatic use of the sparsely populated, 130-mile-long archipelago in The Lewis Trilogy, Mackay chose to set the six Jamieson noirs in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, an eight-hour trek by ferry and car from his hometown.

“Perhaps it is an unconscious desire to escape my ordinary life here on Lewis and live in a world I don’t belong to, but one that is still entirely my own,” Mackay wrote in The Telegraph a few months before he won the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award for the second book in the series, How a Gunman Says Goodbye. “I had an idea for a novel set in the dark space inhabited by urban underworld gangs. Glasgow felt like the right kind of place.”

In contrast to most tartan noirs, however, place plays a minimal role in Mackay’s books. The actual setting is what the 36-year-old author repeatedly characterizes as “the industry” — that is, the crime industry...Read the rest here

Friday, June 29, 2018

Three Design Thinking Tenets that Can Lead to Better HR Solutions

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, July 2018

by David Mallon

deloitte hr-boss magazine
The quality of the solutions you adopt to address the challenges and problems your company faces is determined, in large part, by the process you use to formulate them.

That’s a big reason why design thinking popped up as one of the 10 best practices for leading companies and innovative HR organizations in the 2016 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey. Seventy-nine percent of the more than 7,000 executives surveyed ranked the creative problem-solving process as a high priority for meeting talent challenges. Moreover, those respondents who identified their companies as “high-performing” were three to four times more likely to use design thinking than their competitors.

Design thinking has been gaining adherents ever since Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert Simon first articulated a process model in 1969. Since then, firms—such as IDEO—and universities have popularized design thinking and a wide range of companies have adopted it.

Today, there are many variations of the design thinking process, but there are three simple, but too-often ignored, tenets that appear in one form or another in all of them. If you follow them, I believe that you are far more likely to come up with successful solutions to the myriad of challenges that all companies face...read the rest here

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wait-and-See Could Be a Costly AI Strategy

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, June 15, 2018

by Jacques Bughin

From the dexterity of Amazon’s Kiva robots to the facial recognition in Apple’s iPhone X, artificial intelligence is increasingly sophisticated and accessible. It also promises to be a rich source of profit uplift — up to 10% of revenue, depending on your industry.

Nevertheless, more than 95% of companies have not embraced AI technology to reinvent how they do business. Even though there are many unknowns regarding AI’s capabilities and uses, our research at the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that following a wait-and-see strategy for too much longer could be a costly mistake.

How costly? When we collected more than 400 use cases in 19 industries and simulated the dynamics of AI diffusion (based on current corporate intent to adopt, the technology’s impact on cash flow, and the profit growth linked to adoption), we found significant divergences in the patterns of economic growth between early adopters of AI at scale and non-adopters. In the simulation, early diffusers — that is, companies that will use a full suite of AI technologies in the next five years — doubled their normal profits by 2030, bringing in an additional 4% of gross profit growth annually at the expense of their competitors. When we extrapolated this on a global basis, it equated to a shift in corporate profit to early AI diffusers of approximately $1 trillion by 2030, or 10% of the current profit pool. Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lessons From China’s Digital Battleground

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, June 12, 2018

by Shu Li, François Candelon, and Martin Reeves


The explosive growth of the digital market in China, a country with more than 700 million internet users, constitutes a rich prize to companies that can exploit its opportunities. Five of the 10 largest public internet companies in the world — Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Baidu Inc., JD.com Inc. (aka Jingdong), and NetEase Inc. — have emerged from this $1 trillion market. And, by February 2018, Chinese companies accounted for 33% of the world’s unicorns (privately held startups valued at $1 billion or more), with almost three-quarters of them targeting digital or online markets.

So why have so few of the leading Western players succeeded in holding a winning share in China’s digital market? They know well the winner-takes-all stakes in digital business, and they have successfully dominated international markets in the past — after rolling out their digital products, platforms, and business models in other countries, without significant resistance. But in China, they have struggled:

In 2002, eBay Inc. entered China and quickly captured a 70% market share. Five years later, its market share had dropped to below 10%.

In 2004, Amazon.com Inc. acquired Chinese online book retailer Joyo.com, heralding its high-profile march into China. In 2008, Amazon’s share was 15%; now, it’s below 1%.

In 2005, Microsoft Corp.’s MSN China went live and gained a 53% market share among Chinese business users. But its market share decreased to less than 5% before it quit the Chinese market in October 2014 under strong attack by Tencent’s QQ and WeChat.

In 2014, Uber Technologies Inc. formally entered China and spent billions in fierce competitive battles to gain market share from its Chinese competitors. In 2016, it sold its Chinese subsidiary to Didi Chuxing Technology Co. and exited the country.

In 2015, Airbnb Inc., the world’s largest online marketplace for short-term lodging, landed in China. As of today, it lags far behind its Chinese peers. In 2017, Airbnb had 150,000 rooms for rent; market leader Tujia.com had 650,000 rooms.

Why have so many powerful Western players hit a wall in China? Protectionism is a convenient excuse, but we believe that it is an exaggerated one. Worse, it oversimplifies and obscures some important competitive realities in China that many Western players have missed.

These factors arise from the very different starting point at which China entered the digital era. Unlike many Western economies, China’s economy was not yet mature when the digital tsunami broke on its shores. In many of the industries most affected by digital technologies, offline offerings were limited, physical infrastructure was lacking, and other essential market components, such as payment systems, were missing. Thus, in China, digital technologies offered a solution to fundamental bottlenecks in consumption, rather than a disruptive alternative to existing solutions.

Against this backdrop, China’s digital market developed in an exceptionally rapid and dynamic manner, one based on need rather than preference. Furthermore, the winning game plan for dominating digital markets turned out to have some unique characteristics with regards to localization, speed, online and offline integration, and local ecosystem development.

It is important for Western players to recognize and understand these characteristics. They are not only key to winning in China but also in other countries that share a similar profile, such as India and Indonesia. In addition, they provide valuable insight into how China’s digital giants may compete as they go global. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seven Tips for Managing Procrastinators

strategy+business, June 12, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Studying procrastination used to be a terrific way to avoid doing things I was supposed to be doing. It hasn’t been as much fun for me since one of the things I supposed to be doing was writing this column on how to manage procrastinators. Rats!

One thing I learned before I was distracted from my studies is that about 20 percent of adults identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. That is, they are habitually unable to perform tasks on time, even when there are serious consequences involved. Moreover, reports DePaul University psychology professor Joseph Ferrari, author of Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, the incidence of procrastination is pretty consistent across age cohorts, gender, and nationalities. As yet, procrastination researchers have not identified any “blue zones” — Shangri-las in which people not only live longer, but also never miss a deadline.




Photograph by Designer491 / Alamy

What the researchers have identified is two kinds of procrastination: avoidance and arousal. Avoidance procrastination is fear-based; it is driven by the desire to duck a task. Arousal procrastination is thrill-based; it is driven by the desire to play chicken with deadlines. Although it’s easy to joke about procrastination, neither kind is a laughing matter for executives.

Managing procrastinators can be an extremely frustrating experience. If one in five employees isn’t doing what they are supposed to be doing, or can’t be relied upon to meet a deadline, it can wreak havoc on planning, productivity, team performance, and anything else that depends on synchronized activity or keeping to a schedule. If employees are avoiding tasks altogether, work never gets done unless someone else does it. If they are thrill seekers, the work ends up getting short shrift and, often, does not get done on time.

So what’s a leader to do? Read the rest here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

How an employee-as-customer mindset in HR can empower agile teams

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

InsideHR, June 11, 2018

In Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, an overwhelming 90 percent of the respondents – 10,400 business and HR leaders across 140 countries – told us that creating organisations of the future was “important” or “very important” to them. In fact, they identified building new organisations as their most important challenge. Agility and agile teams play a central role in the organisation of the future, and as companies race to replace structural hierarchies with networks of teams, they are looking to HR for capacity and support.

Agile teams – nimble, entrepreneurial, cross-functional groups of employees that are already becoming ubiquitous at every level of organisations – are an essential component of tomorrow’s workplace. Fast-acting and purposeful, agile teams can not only navigate the vagaries of the marketplace, including volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), but also mine them for opportunity.

Inside the makings of agile teams
What do agile teams need to achieve the empowerment necessary to operate at their maximum potential? They require a supportive culture and high levels of trust, inclusion, and accountability. When teams are imbued with trust, their members are better able to identify and act on opportunities for improvement, development, and innovation. Employee inclusion, both in teams and in the company as a whole, engenders an overall sense of belonging that helps enable employees to better connect with one another and to share their best ideas. And, high levels of accountability are necessary to help advance organisational strategies, with each successful encounter encouraging team members to seek out and accept more responsibility for their work.

What can HR do to create agile teams
HR leaders can best support the empowerment of agile teams by thinking of employees as customers and expanding their focus on employees to include teams. This approach to enhancing the employee experience in agile teams can be accomplished by adopting a design-thinking mindset, creating personas, and mapping the employee journey...Read the rest here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

How to Become a Master of Disaster

strategy+business, June 4, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

If you like disaster stories, you’ll love Meltdown, by Chris Clearfield, a principal at risk consultancy System Logic, and András Tilcsik, an associate professor at the Rotman School of Management. The authors cover a gamut of catastrophe, from a ruined Thanksgiving dinner to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The worst part of all these examples: According to the authors, they were preventable.

All the disasters recounted in Meltdown share characteristics first identified by sociologist Charles Perrow. Now in his nineties, Perrow earned the appellation “master of disaster” for his seminal study of a host of incidents in high-risk settings, starting with the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station accident in 1979. “In Perrow’s view,” explain Clearfield and Tilcsik, “the accident was not a freak occurrence, but a fundamental feature of the nuclear power plant as a system.”

This system — indeed, each of the systems described in Meltdown’s disasters — is complex and tightly coupled: complex in that the systems are nonlinear, with parts sometimes interacting in hidden ways, and tightly coupled in that there is little slack in these systems. A failure in one part quickly, and often, unexpectedly affects other parts. Read the rest here.

Friday, June 1, 2018

It's Time to Make the People Side of Business Data-Driven and Evidence-Based

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss, June 2018

by David Mallon

deloitte, leadership

These days data is front-page news. It’s use—and misuse—has precipitated a host of corporate crises. In many of these stories, data is being demonized. But data, per se, isn’t bad or good; it’s what people do with it that matters.

We live in an era of digital technology, in which more and more of what we do generates data. A few years ago, IBM estimated that we were creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and that something like 90 percent of all the data in the world created in the prior two years alone. The data we generate is collected, analyzed, and served back to us constantly, whether we realize it or not.

Companies and individuals must become masters of data or they may risk being mastered by it. And to master data, companies and individuals need to be mindful. What data will be collected? How can they ensure its accuracy? Who will collect it? Where, when, why, how, and for what purpose will it be used? Where will the data go? Who will have access to it? What privacy and security controls will protect it?

If that seems like a lot of questions, well, it is. We need to be active stewards of our data. We need to actively seek insights from it. We need to use those insights in positive, productive ways that drive organizational and personal value. The headlines tell us that these tasks shouldn’t be left unaddressed—especially when it comes to our people.

The HR Function Needs to Build Data Muscle

One finding rings out clearly in Bersin’s High-Impact People Analytics study: Companies that are proactively building an organizational muscle around people data and analytics are getting ahead.

Some corporate functions, like marketing, are already well along in the data and analytics race. But the typical HR department is not nearly as evolved. Our study revealed that only two percent of companies surveyed have a fully mature (Level Four) people analytics capability; meanwhile 83 percent of companies are operating at Levels One and Two.

The people side of business must become more data-driven and evidence-based. Data can and should inform decisions around performance, people, and talent, if for no other reason than the fact that relying on tradition and prior experience are neither sufficient nor prudent in today’s digital world...read the rest here

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How to Compete Against the New Breed of National Champions

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, May 30, 2018

by Sharon Poczter, Aldo Musacchio, and Sergio G. Lazzarini


On March 12, 2018, the U.S. government blocked Broadcom Inc.’s proposed merger with Qualcomm Inc. on the grounds of national security. The presumption was that the merger of the two chipmakers would have resulted in a third company, China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., gaining a dominant position in the market for 5G mobile network technologies. Huawei is a “national champion” — a company that is heavily subsidized (either implicitly or explicitly) or, in some cases, owned by a government — and the U.S. government is concerned that its growth could provide the Chinese government with undue access to and control over U.S. communication networks.

While the threat posed by national champions is nothing new, their essential character has substantially changed, and the competitive advantage of national champions in the global marketplace has become more pronounced. Today’s national champions are much more sophisticated, competing in more industries, and harder to spot than ever before. As a result, Western companies need a new strategic guide for competing against them.
A New Breed of Competitor

Traditionally, national champions have been large industrial companies, subject to a high degree of direct governmental oversight and intervention. Typically, they are unresponsive to global competitive forces, depending instead on explicit government subsidizes and protection. For instance, Indonesia’s state-owned electricity provider, Perusahaan Listrik Negara, enjoys a government-created monopoly, but its inability to satisfy growing domestic demand has resulted in a costly and unreliable energy supply in the world’s fourth most populous country.


Today, however, there is a new breed of national champions. They differ from traditional champions in two principal ways: the form and degree of their government connections, and their basis of competition.

Modern national champions can be hard to identify. Their connections to government take a variety of forms, both corporate and noncorporate (via sovereign and other investment funds). The degree of government ownership and intervention in these national champions also varies widely. Sometimes governments hold explicit majority or minority ownership stakes in these companies, but increasingly, government involvement is more implicit...Read the rest here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Why AI Isn’t the Death of Jobs

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, May 24, 2018

by Jacques Bughin


Why AI Isn’t the Death of JobsWhen pundits talk about the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) will have on the labor market, the outlook is usually bleak, with the loss of many jobs to machines as the dominant theme. But that’s just part of the story — a probable outcome for companies that use AI only to increase efficiency. As it turns out, companies using AI to also drive innovation are more likely to increase head count than reduce it.

That’s what my colleagues and I recently learned through the McKinsey Global Institute’s broad-based research initiative aimed at understanding the spread of AI in economies, sectors, and companies. We polled 20,000 AI-aware C-level executives in 10 countries to compile a sample of more than 3,000 companies (mostly large), identified distinct clusters within that pool, and ran a variety of scenarios on those clusters to project the effects of AI on employment, revenue, and profitability.

This research and analysis suggest that although AI will probably lead to less overall full-time-equivalent employment by 2030, it won’t inevitably lead to massive unemployment. One major reason for this prediction is because early, innovation-focused adopters are positioning themselves for growth, which tends to stimulate employment. Read the rest here.