Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Daniel Pink's Required Reading

by Theodore Kinni
strategy+business, Sept 16, 2015
For the better part of two decades, Daniel Pink has been skewering conventional business wisdom and transforming complex ideas into practical approaches that his readers can put to work immediately. A best-selling author, popular speaker, and one of the world’s leading management thinkers, Pink is a practitioner of what has become — in no small part through the skill with which he plies his trade — a familiar format on the business bookshelf: the application of behavioral research to the world of work.

Pink applied this formula to employee incentivization in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Riverhead Books, 2009), which described the largely untapped power of intrinsic motivators, such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose, in the workplace. He took on thinking skills in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Riverhead Books, 2005), which tracked the rising need for cognitive traits, such as inventiveness, empathy, and meaning-making, in business. And he extended his reach into sales in To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others(Riverhead Books, 2012), which described a simple and powerful “ABC” for sales success (attunement, buoyancy, and clarity). In 2014, Pink began broadcasting his behavioral insights to broader audience as host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a 12-episode series airing on the National Geographic Channel.
Given the influential reach of his work (more than 2 million copies of his books have been sold), I asked Pink to name several books that had made a lasting impression on him. He called out four titles... read the rest here

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Leadership à la Douglas MacArthur

Good to see my book, No Substitute for Victory: Lessons in Strategy and Leadership from General Douglas MacArthur (FT Press, 2005), pop up in IBD

Douglas MacArthur, A Triumphant Warrior And Statesman

Gen. Douglas MacArthur signs Japan's surrender on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur signs Japan's surrender on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.  
Douglas MacArthur produced victories in war and peace. He held the rare U.S. Army rank of five-star general — and the only one to receive the Medal of Honor.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called him the best American commander of World War II — and with good reason.
MacArthur (1880-1964) led the battering of Japanese forces in the South Pacific during World War II, culminating in the liberation of the Philippines.
After the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, prompting Japan to give up the fight in August 1945, President Truman empowered MacArthur to arrange and accept the Land of the Rising Sun's formal surrender.
That end of WWII came during MacArthur's choreographed ceremony 70 years ago this Sept. 2 on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
"I received no instructions as to what to say or what to do," MacArthur wrote in "Reminiscences." "I was on my own, (with) only God and my conscience to guide me." the rest here

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Just say no

My latest post on s+b Blogs:

I was one of those toddlers whose first word — if you choose to believe my mother — was an emphatic “No,” so I’ve always found it hard to believe that people need disobedience instruction. Then I read the stories in Ira Chaleff’s new book, Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told to Do Is Wrong (Berrett-Koehler, 2015).

The story I found most shocking took place in a McDonald’s in a small town in Kentucky in 2004. The restaurant’s 51-year-old manager received a phone call from a man claiming to be a police officer; he told her that an 18-year-old female employee had been accused of stealing a customer’s purse. Rather than subject the young woman to arrest and a search at police headquarters, the officer suggested that it might be less distressful if the manager herself searched the woman for evidence of the crime.

The manager agreed and, following the officer’s directions over the phone, stripped the crying woman and searched her clothing in a locked storeroom. When the manager told the officer that she had to go back to work, the officer asked if she could call her husband to watch the woman until the police arrived. Instead, the unmarried manager called her boyfriend, who proceeded to follow the officer’s increasingly sexually abusive instructions (with the manager checking in on occasion). Four hours after the call began, the officer told the manager to bring another man into the room, and she found a handyman who was in the restaurant. The handyman refused to participate, at which point the manager began to act on her own misgivings and eventually allowed the woman to dress and leave the restaurant.

It was, of course, a sadistic hoax. The caller, an off-duty prison guard in Florida, had been making similar calls to fast-food restaurants throughout the U.S. Incredibly, he had been able to convince the managers of nearly 70 other restaurants in 30 states to illegally detain and search employees — and the employees themselves had obeyed their managers’ outrageous instructions.

If you are familiar with the experiments of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo, who wrote the foreword to Intelligent Disobedience, you already know that most people have been conditioned to obey orders given by authority figures, including orders that violate moral, ethical, and legal norms. “It is part of the socialization process in any human culture to teach our young to obey,” writes Chaleff. But he goes on to argue that teaching employees to disobey orders is an essential organizational safeguard — that nurses are protecting patients and their employers by questioning doctors’ orders that fly in the face of their training, and that accountants can prevent massive frauds by refusing to execute orders that violate their professional standards.

The problem, Chaleff points out, is that we receive little or no counter-conditioning to our obedience-focused upbringing. Unless you are a natural-born naysayer, it is likely that you find it difficult to stand up to authority. And even if you are, like me, one of those pains in the organizational neck, you probably don’t know how to disobey in constructive and effective ways.

Chaleff found the solution to this human problem in canines. Service dogs, like those that guide people with sight impairments, are taught “intelligent disobedience.” They learn how to identify and disobey orders that might cause harm to their charges. A service dog that is ordered forward will use its body to stop its owner from stepping off a curb if there is a potential danger, such as a quiet electric car; it will turn right or left to protect its owner from a low-hanging tree limb on a walk in the woods. “We can use the guide dog,” writes Chaleff, “as a memorable symbol for the capacity to which we aspire: to do the right thing when what we are told to do is wrong.”

Typically, humans want dogs to act more like people. (Sit! Stay!) Chaleff effectively suggests that people act more like these dogs. But the training required to do so doesn’t involve biscuits or rolled-up newspapers that can be wielded as rewards and punishment. Rather, we can short-circuit the ingrained habit of employees to automatically obey orders by teaching them to follow a formula that Chaleff distills as so... read the rest here