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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How Human-Computer ‘Superminds’ Are Redefining the Future of Work

Learned a lot working on this book adaptation:

MIT Sloan Management Review, May 21, 2018

by Thomas W. Malone

Superminds Computer Human Brain Artificial Intelligence AI Work Technology Collaboration Innovation

The ongoing, and sometimes loud, debate about how many and what kinds of jobs smart machines will leave for humans to do in the future is missing a salient point: Just as the automation of human work in the past allowed people and machines to do many things that couldn’t be done before, groups of people and computers working together will be able to do many things in the future that neither can do alone now.

To think about how this will happen, it’s useful to contemplate an obvious but not widely appreciated fact. Virtually all human achievements — from developing written language to making a turkey sandwich — require the work of groups of people, not just lone individuals. Even the breakthroughs of individual geniuses like Albert Einstein aren’t conjured out of thin air; they are erected on vast amounts of prior work by others.

The human groups that accomplish all these things can be described as superminds. I define a supermind as a group of individuals acting together in ways that seem intelligent.

Superminds take many forms. They include the hierarchies in most businesses and other organizations; the markets that help create and exchange many kinds of goods and services; the communities that use norms and reputations to guide behavior in many professional, social, and geographical groups; and the democracies that are common in governments and some other organizations.

All superminds have a kind of collective intelligence, an ability to do things that the individuals in the groups couldn’t have done alone. What’s new is that machines can increasingly participate in the intellectual, as well as the physical, activities of these groups. That means we will be able to combine people and machines to create superminds that are smarter than any groups or individuals our planet has ever known...Read the rest here

Your Customers May Be the Weakest Link in Your Data Privacy Defenses

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, May 22, 2018

by Bernadette Kamleitner, Vincent W. Mitchell, Andrew Stephen, and Ardi Kolah


Your Customers May Be the Weakest Link in Your Data Privacy Defenses
Does your company have consumer data it isn’t legally authorized to possess?

Don’t be too quick to answer. Many ethical, lawfully managed businesses do have such data — and it comes from a surprising source: their customers, who inadvertently share the personal data of their family, friends, and colleagues.

The lack of awareness regarding peer-dependent privacy is one way that London-based Cambridge Analytica Ltd. was able to collect the personal information of more than 71 million Facebook users, even though only 270,000 of them agreed to take the now-bankrupt company’s app-based personality quiz. Cambridge Analytica reportedly knew what it was doing, but any company that accesses customer data, such as contacts, call logs, and files, can unknowingly breach peer privacy.

Blame apps. Virtually all large companies offer apps to their customers, and most of those apps access and collect customer data. Often, that includes peer data, which also is collected even though the app’s owner may have no direct relationship with the user’s peers.

Consider a typical scenario: John installs a customer club membership app on his smartphone. During this process, the app requests permission to access core services on his device, including his contacts. John agrees. This opens a Pandora’s box of potential problems. John has given a third party — the company owning the app — permission to access not only his personal data, but also the personally identifiable information of the hundreds of contacts saved in his phone. None of those people, including Rachel, whose name, phone number, email address, photo, and date of birth are stored in John’s phone, agreed to share their information with the company. They have no idea that they have been caught up in a peer-dependent privacy breach.

Company executives may be no more aware of the privacy breaches built into their apps than John and his contacts. Yet, it could cost them as dearly. Under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), any company can incur fines of up to 4% of global annual revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater, for failing to respect the sovereignty of EU citizens over their personal data. Notably, these fines are not limited to customer data: As of May 25, 2018, the personal data of EU citizens, including data on other people’s devices, must be obtained lawfully, fairly, and transparently in accordance with the principles of the GDPR. This implies that the fully informed consent of peers is needed prior to taking possession of their personal data (barring some other legal basis). In most cases and subject to a balancing test, companies also need to provide peers with access to their personal data and, in some cases, delete that data on demand.

In short, peer-dependent privacy has become a significant exposure for companies that want to ensure the highest standards of data protection, privacy, and regulatory compliance....read the rest here

Friday, May 11, 2018

An Ode to the Thief of Time

strategy+business, May 11, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

In late 1934, a department store magnate named Edgar Kaufmann engaged Frank Lloyd Wright to design a weekend home in the woods an hour or so southeast of Pittsburgh. It was a huge boon for Wright — his reputation had waned, commissions had dried up in the Depression, and his home and studio were threatened with foreclosure. The architect visited the Kaufmann site, asked for a survey, and then, the story goes, didn’t do a damn thing.

Nine months later, Kaufmann unexpectedly visited Wright’s studio to look at the design for his new home, which, he had been told, was progressing beautifully. Wright reportedly put pencil to paper for the first time. Two hours later, he presented Kaufmann with a plan for Fallingwater, an acknowledged masterpiece of residential architecture.

“The only way to explain the nine months Wright spent not working on Fallingwater is by procrastination’s perverse logic. Nothing was the only thing that could be done in such a situation,” writes Andrew Santella in Soon, his engaging, meandering, and, of course, overdue exploration of the behavioral tic...read the rest here

Saturday, May 5, 2018

If You Cut Employees Some Slack, Will They Innovate?

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, May 4, 2018

by Yasser Rahrovani, Alain Pinsonneault, and Robert D. Austin

The idea of using slack resources — in the form of time, technology, and support — to bolster employee innovation falls in and out of favor. The return on slack innovation programs can be prodigious: 3M Co. attributes the development of the Post-it Note to its 1948 decision to allow employees to devote 15% of their paid time to side projects; and Google says its “20% rule,” which upped the ante on slack time devoted to innovation, yielded Gmail, AdSense, and Google Earth. But few, if any companies, have stuck with time off for innovation and other slack-based programs for as long as 3M. Even Google has reportedly waxed and waned in its commitment to its 20% rule.

Given the significant investment that slack-based innovation programs require, the decision to adopt one shouldn’t be made off the cuff. But what are the factors underlying that decision and how should such programs be designed? To begin to answer these questions, we conducted in-depth interviews of knowledge workers in different industries to understand what motivated them to take risks and explore new ideas, and, more specifically, whether and how slack resources might have contributed to their innovativeness. We then created and refined an empirical model based on the factors and relationships that appear to influence employee innovation and tested it using a sample group consisting of 427 employees from North American companies.

We found that different types of employees respond in different ways to slack innovation programs; that different kinds of slack resources are better suited to certain types of employees than they are to others; and that different kinds of slack innovation programs produce different kinds of innovation. Companies can use these findings to design more effective slack innovation programs and maximize their returns on slack resources...read the rest here

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Future of Work is Human + Machine

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, May 2018

by David Mallon


The debate surrounding today’s smart machines often reminds me of the legend of John Henry, which dates from the dawn of the Second Industrial Revolution. You may remember John Henry as the “steel-driving man” who went head-to-head against a steam-powered hammer to prove that a man could outperform a machine. He won the contest, but his heart burst in the effort and John Henry died.

In the modern version of that American folktale, machines are coming to take away our jobs again. This time, it is robotics, artificial intelligence, and other digital technologies that will supposedly transform our companies into employee-less buildings filled with automatons. However, as I read through our research at Bersin and the thought leadership being produced throughout Deloitte, I’m seeing a very different story.

For instance, when our Deloitte colleagues analyzed the impact of automation and robotics in the UK from 2001 to 2015, they discovered that more than 800,000 jobs had been lost, but nearly 3.5 million new jobs had been created. Moreover, on average, those new jobs paid nearly £10,000 more annually than the lost jobs.

Based on findings like these, I’ve become convinced that the real story is not an adversarial one in which human is pitted against machine. Instead, the future of work is a story of an augmented workforce—a story of human + machine.

There will be disruptions in the augmented workplace, too. To be able to successfully navigate them, companies and employees will need to act in ways that help ensure human + machine adds up to a sum greater than its parts...read the rest here

Monday, April 23, 2018

How to Cure a Bad Case of Metric Fixation

strategy+business, April 23, 2018  


by Theodore Kinni

The Tyranny of Metrics is a pearl of a book. And like all pearls, it was born of an irritation. As chair of the history department at the Catholic University of America, Jerry Muller found himself — and his school — devoting more and more precious time and resources to performance measurement and reporting.

Some of this activity was useful, admits Muller. “But much of the information was of no real use, and indeed, was read by no one,” he writes. “Yet once the culture of performance documentation caught on, department heads found themselves in a sort of data arms race.” In one instance, Muller was urged to add more statistical appendixes to a yearlong department survey, because “the report would look less rigorous than that of other departments” without them. Moreover, the university found itself hiring more and more data specialists, up to and including a new vice president for assessment.

This experience, which Muller describes as an irritating pinprick, inspired him to look more closely at metrics. And that investigation resulted in a concise and clearly argued polemic, which, Muller writes, is “for anyone who wants to understand one of the big reasons why so many contemporary organizations function less well than they ought to, diminishing productivity while frustrating those who work in them.” Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Are American Workers Dying for their Paychecks?

strategy+business, April 12, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), hasn’t been particularly sanguine about business management for a couple of decades now — perhaps he never was. From his Machiavellian take on power to his skepticism about leadership education, his recent books have punctured conventional wisdom and challenged executives to do better. In his brutal new book, Dying for a Paycheck, Pfeffer steps up the attack.

The book’s thesis is straightforward and blunt: American workplaces and management practices are destroying individual and organizational health. To prove it, Pfeffer partnered with GSB colleagues Joel Goh, a doctoral student (now a professor at the National University of Singapore), and Stefanos Zenios, a professor of operations, information, and technology, and surveyed a broad range of employee health and wellness research.

They identified 10 workplace exposures within the control of employers that significantly affect human health and longevity. And we’re not talking about the industrial accidents that plagued the American workforce a century ago. Rather, the exposures in the 21st century include: being laid off; not having health insurance; irregular work shifts; working more than 40 hours weekly; confronting job insecurity; facing work–life conflicts; having low control over one’s job and job environment; facing high job demands; having low levels of social support at work; and working in unfair situations. Read the rest here.

Monday, April 2, 2018

How Leaders Can Play the Loyalty Card

strategy+business, April 2, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

In his 2007 book Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life, a well-known real estate developer and reality television star discussed employee loyalty at length. “I value loyalty above everything else — more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy,” he wrote.

But is that an effective people strategy for a large-scale organization? Probably not. The idea that leaders should place personal loyalty above all else when appraising employees is something of an outlier in the literature of management. Experts have a lot to say about the duty of CEOs to employees. But vice versa? Not so much. In the few instances I’ve found in which loyalty arises as an employee duty, it’s always framed as loyalty to the company or the company’s mission, not as personal loyalty to the CEO.

That doesn’t mean that employee loyalty isn’t important to leaders. It is, in fact, vitally important. Leaders need people who will stand by them when the going gets tough, who won’t undermine them as they seek to execute plans, who will trust them when the way forward isn’t entirely clear, and who won’t sell them out at the drop of a hat.

But how do you get loyal employees? It seems there are three common approaches. Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Global Mobility Involves a Top-down, Bottom-up Effort

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss, April 2018

by David Mallon


Getting the right people to the right place at the right time is a perennial challenge for large, multinational companies. Recently, however, the need to address that challenge has become more pressing.

One reason is rising nationalism and the backlash against globalization that often accompanies it, which is making it more difficult for companies to execute effectively on global talent strategies. On the opening day of the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called out the globalization backlash as one of “the three most significant challenges to civilization as we know it,” along with climate change and terrorism.

Another reason is the division of the world’s talent markets, which can exacerbate the need for a mobile workforce and a strong employer brand. According to the International Labor Organization, the job markets in developed economies, including Europe, the U.S., and Canada, are likely to continue to tighten, while in developing economies, particularly in Latin America, the pool of available talent is likely to expand.

A third reason is the growing demand among top talent for more productive, engaging, and enjoyable work, which, for many, includes international assignments. Millennials want to work for global companies with aspirations beyond profit-seeking. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 found that millennials view business positively, but they also believe that multinational businesses are not fully realizing their potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges.

Together, these conditions are raising the mobility stakes for multinational companies. They also explain why more and more executives are asking my colleagues and I at Bersin, “How can we improve global mobility?” Read the rest here.