Wednesday, March 21, 2018

When SMART Goals Are Not So Smart

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, March 21, 2018

by Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller

We rarely question the need for goals, and the familiar acronym SMART instructs us that good goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. But none of these attributes say anything about the context in which we are setting goals.

Are SMART goals effective in every context? If not, what kinds of goals are most useful in what kinds of contexts? These are important questions at a time when competitive environments are constantly morphing and new ones are unexpectedly emerging.

Why We Need Goals

Every company needs goals. Goals fulfill several functions: coordination (to align intentions); abbreviation (to summarize a complex effort); prioritization (to ensure that activities and processes don’t become an end in and of themselves); calibration (to tell us how to allocate or invest resources); and evaluation (to tell us if we are making progress).

In stable, predictable environments, it makes sense to set goals that are specific and measurable. For instance, some markets, such as confectionary and cosmetics, grow with gross domestic product (GDP) and follow relatively predictable trends. Thus, a company like Mars Inc. can plan out a multiyear strategy in its core categories.

In more dynamic and uncertain environments, however, SMART goals can be problematic. It’s hard to manage to specific, time-based targets when demand, technology, business models, and competitor sets are incessantly shifting, as is common in emerging or recently disrupted industries, like genetic testing services or augmented reality technology. In such cases, companies need goals to do other jobs, like prompt new thinking or encourage experimentation and learning in situations they have not encountered before. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bringing Mindfulness to Your Career

Insights by Stanford Business, March 19, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

A woman takes a moment to pause and practice mindfulness  | iStock/Wavebreakmedia 
A thousand years ago, there was a cobbler who hated his work, but could not escape it. One day, heartsick, he met a monk, who suggested that he practice his craft as a meditation — by reframing the attention, intention, and emotion with which he approached his work. He followed the monk’s advice. Today, he is remembered as the Divine Cobbler, one of India’s 84 mahasiddhas, gurus who reached enlightenment through mindfulness.

Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer Leah Weiss, principal teacher and trainer in Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Program, opens her new book, How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind, with the cobbler’s story. It still strikes a chord today, she says, because “nothing provides more opportunities than the workplace for us to feel discouraged, disappointed, bored, overwhelmed, envious, embarrassed, anxious, irritated, outraged, and afraid to say what we really feel.”

Of course, most people today are not as trapped in their jobs as the cobbler. But leaving a job we don’t like may not alleviate the suffering. “It’s like breaking up with one person after another and another in romantic relationships. There’s a common denominator in what’s not working,” says Weiss.

Here she discusses why the grind makes us better leaders and how to practice mindfulness to reconnect to your purpose. Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Getting the Autocratic Leaders We Deserve

strategy+business, March 13, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

A couple hundred years ago, the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” As with other great one-liners, de Maistre’s bon mot has been repeated many times since, and somewhere along the line it morphed into “We get the leaders we deserve.” How we feel about this bromide depends on the leader sitting in the seat when it is uttered.

Right now, I find it discomforting. A good part of that feeling stems from my reading of Open Source Leadership: Reinventing Management When There’s No More Business As Usual (McGraw-Hill Education, 2017), by Rajeev Peshawaria, an experienced leadership professional who has served as chief learning officer at Coca-Cola and Morgan Stanley. Peshawaria is now CEO of the Iclif Leadership and Governance Centre, a nonprofit consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur. “Perhaps the biggest inconvenient truth of the current times is this,” he writes. “We’ve been idealizing democratic and all-inclusive leadership far too much, when the need of the hour is — and always has been — autocratic, top-down leadership.”

Photograph by Hero Images / Alamy

Peshawaria doesn’t define autocrat, so I assume he means leaders who rule with unlimited authority or whose influence or power is undisputed. He supports his conclusion that we need more autocratic leaders with data — specifically the results of Iclif’s survey of 16,000 senior and midlevel executives in 28 countries. In it, he provided a list of famous (but not infamous) leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, Jack Ma, and Mahatma Gandhi, and a mixed bag of leadership traits. About half of the traits represented inclusive, democratic behaviors, such as “relied on consensus and support” and “listened to find middle ground.” The other half represented top-down, autocratic qualities, such as “dared to be different” and “remained firm in their course of action.” The executives were asked to identify the top three traits that the leaders had in common. The autocratic traits came out on top.

Then, Peshawaria asked the executives to rate the following statement: “In order to drive unprecedented success for the organization in today’s fast-paced environment, a significant amount of top-down leadership is required.” Three-quarters of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed. Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Seven Technologies Remaking the World

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, March 9, 2108

by Albert H. Segars

Once upon a time, business leaders could leave technology to the technologists. But today, we are at the starting line of a universal technological revolution — one that is fundamentally altering four key realms of our world: commerce, health care, learning, and the environment. Given the pervasive and diverse nature of this revolution, business leaders must understand the technologies that are driving it, the capabilities they offer, and their potential impacts.

This report provides executives with a lexicon to the revolution. It identifies seven core technologies — pervasive computing, wireless mesh networks, biotechnology, 3D printing, machine learning, nanotechnology, and robotics — and describes their implications for commerce, health care, learning, and the environment. Use it as a guide and a basis for strategic discussion as you and your team seek to understand today’s business frontiers and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Seven Technological Sparks

“You’re only given one little spark of madness,” said the late actor and comedian Robin Williams. “You mustn’t lose it.” Williams used his spark to ignite his comedic rocket and blast past the established boundaries of his craft. Technology provides a similar spark: It enables us to push beyond the established boundaries of our world.

The mechanized spinning of textiles, large-scale manufacturing of chemicals, steam power, and efficiencies in iron-making sparked the first Industrial Revolution (1760-1840). Railroads, the telegraph and telephone, and electricity and other utilities sparked the second Industrial Revolution (1870-1940). Radio, aviation, and nuclear fission sparked the Scientific/Technical Revolution (1940-1970). The internet and digital media and devices sparked the Information Revolution (1985-present). In each instance, the inflection point that marked the new revolution was the appearance of new technologies that fundamentally reshaped key aspects of the world, such as commerce, health care, learning, and the environment.

Today, we see technological sparks everywhere. They are emerging from the digital, chemical, material, and biological sciences, and they are precipitating a revolution that is altering nearly every dimension of our lives.

But what are the dominant technologies driving this revolution? And how will they shape and reshape the world of commerce — and the world at large? These are critical questions for executives, and the answers will determine how value will be defined in the future, how businesses will be structured and managed, and where new opportunities for profitable growth may lie.

To help executives answer these questions, I conducted two surveys of veteran technology entrepreneurs working in companies in a variety of sectors, analyzed the results, and then developed and assessed the validity of the findings in a series of individual interviews and field visits. The study revealed seven classes of technology that are driving today’s universal revolution: pervasive computing, wireless mesh networks, biotechnology, 3D printing, machine learning, nanotechnology, and robotics.

Each of these technology classes exhibits three distinctive and rapidly evolving capabilities that are significantly different, more advanced, and larger in scope than the technologies of past revolutions. Read the rest here.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Meeting the Challenges of Global Mobility

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

HR Technologist, March 2, 2018

by Jonathan Pearce and Mark Solow

A well-developed capability for global mobility is essential for companies seeking to develop and manage top talent, achieve business objectives, and foster a global mindset. Of the 10,400 businesspeople in 140 countries who participated in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 68 percent agreed that “a mobile workforce is an enabler of business and talent strategies.”

The problem? Only 3 percent of the respondents rated their companies as “world class” in global deployments.

There are good reasons for this gap: global mobility is a complex, risk-laden, and disruptive undertaking. Moreover, it’s costly to move employees around the world. Our experience working with multinationals tells us that it costs approximately three times an employee’s salary (and typically, these are executive and professional salaries) to deploy someone on a traditional long-term global assignment. And that does not include the productivity losses commonly incurred as employees move themselves and their families to new and unfamiliar locales.

That’s needed is a way to manage global assignments that is simple, personalized, and predictive, in a manner that better serves the needs of workers and the companies for which they work. Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Accelerate Employee Learning to Increase Your Company's Clock Speed

Learning a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, March 2018

by David Mallon

And so it has: Since the 1960s, fewer and fewer employees are doing rote work, and more and more of them are being called upon to do processing work—that is, work that requires ongoing employee learning.

It’s not news that the pace of business is accelerating. The adoption rate of new technologies is on the rise: customer demand shifts with the click of a mouse, and new and disruptive competitors appear out of thin air. Increasingly, the clock speed of your company—its strategic and operational response times—is becoming a key determinant of its survival and success.

How can you increase your company’s clock speed? The first and perhaps best way to start moving the needle is to help increase the speed of employee learning.
Work is Learning

More than a half-century ago, Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian media guru, wrote, “The future of work consists of learning a living (rather than earning a living).”

And so it has: Since the 1960s, fewer and fewer employees are doing rote work, and more and more of them are being called upon to do processing work—that is, work that requires ongoing employee learning. Thus, the ability to learn quickly has become a key enabler of both employee performance and organizational clock speed.

In an era when work is learning, long-established ways and means of employee training and development (T&D) are approaching their sell-by dates. Pulling people off the job to impart knowledge and skills is inefficient at best.

Increasingly, it’s ineffective, too. That’s because of the half-life of much of the knowledge and many of the skills that are being imparted is shrinking—especially when that employee learning is focused on jobs that people are doing today, but are less and less likely to be doing tomorrow.

Instead, companies should be enhancing the ability of employees to learn many new skills and to respond to constant change on the fly. They should be following the example of what we at Bersin call “High-Impact Learning Organizations” or HILOs. Read the rest here.