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 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 the rest here.