Sunday, September 30, 2018

“A Blinding Flash of the Obvious”

Insights by Stanford Business, September 28, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Tom Peters earned his MBA and PhD at Stanford Graduate School of Business in the 1970s, under the unconventional tutelage of organizational psychologists Eugene Webb and James March. But he pegs the beginning of his management studies to 1966 and his two tours of duty as a young naval officer and combat engineer with the Seabees in Vietnam during the war.

“That left an indelible impression,” Peters says of his first leadership role. “Cut the BS. Can the excuses. Forget the fancy reports. Get moving now. Get the job done. On this score nothing has changed in 50 years, including the maddening fact that all too often a business strategy is inspiring, but the execution mania is largely AWOL.”

A lot of other things have changed in the past half-century, but a lot of what Peters learned about management — in the Navy, at Stanford, while researching and writing In Search of Excellence with Bob Waterman at McKinsey in the early ’80s, and in the decades after — remains as relevant today as it was then. All of it and more is collected in Peters’ new book, The Excellence Dividend.

The fat, red exclamation mark that Peters chose as his logo a quarter-century ago is an apt symbol for The Excellence Dividend, which Financial Times management editor Andrew Hill called “shouty.” It’s a sobriquet that Peters embraces. “I give speeches that are noisy and I write like I speak,” he laughs.

Management Isn’t Complicated

Noisy helps when you’re saying things that most leaders already know, but that far too few act upon in a consistent way. In The Excellence Dividend, Peters pinpoints the most common the rest here

Friday, September 28, 2018

Three Principles for Managing Technology's Productivity Paradox

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, October 2018

by David Mallon

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Big data and advanced analytics. Collaboration platforms and instant messaging. The workplace is becoming a technological wonderland, in which a company can place virtually every resource that its employees need to work more effectively and efficiently at their fingertips. Nevertheless, growth in workforce productivity is hovering around its lowest rate in almost two decades.

We saw this paradoxical situation echoed across the findings of Deloitte’s 2108 Human Capital Trends survey. For example, 71 percent of the respondents to our survey said they are already using personal productivity technologies like collaboration platforms, work-based social media, and instant messaging, and 60 to 70 percent of them said that they believe workers will soon be using these technologies more frequently. Yet, nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents are also worried that these tools will notenhance workforce productivity.

Are their worries justified? Is it possible that, for all their promise and potential, new and emerging workforce technologies could actually drive down productivity?

It can happen. After all, technology is not a productivity panacea in and of itself. Surely, by now, we all know that the next text that pops up on our smartphones could interrupt us and distract us from our work just as readily as it could focus and facilitate our efforts.

The fundamental difference between the two outcomes lies in how you put productivity technologies to work in your company. Here are three principles that can go a long way to ensuring that technology enhances the productivity and well-being of your company’s employees and avoids becoming one of the greatest sources of cognitive overload in their work and lives. Read the rest here.

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! 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 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 the rest here.