Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Greatest Showman on Earth

strategy+business, August 14, 2019

by Theodore Kinni

Phineas Taylor Barnum’s future was bright. He believed from the age of 4 that his grandfather, pleased to have his grandson as his namesake, had purchased the most valuable farm in Connecticut in Barnum's name. For years, the boy’s grandfather talked about the farm and his neighbors congratulated him on being the richest child in the town of Bethel. At the age of 12, Barnum was taken to see his farm. It was five worthless, inaccessible acres in a large swamp. Everyone had a great laugh.

Robert Wilson, editor of the American Scholar and author of Barnum, sees the roots of the 19th-century American showman’s outsized pecuniary drive in “this strangely cruel and astonishingly drawn-out joke.” But it’s hard to judge whether the story is true — the only citation Wilson offers is Barnum’s autobiography, which should give the reader pause, considering its author’s reputation for humbug and penchant for spinning his own life story.

If Barnum didn’t stretch the story (or invent it outright), it also may reveal the roots of his preternatural talent for hucksterism. Certainly, he elevated the joke to unprecedented heights with a series of frauds so entertaining to American and European audiences of every social class that instead of shunning him, they rewarded him with riches that beggared the promise of the farm that never was. He also provided an early and, sadly, enduring lesson in the use of brazen hype, shameless self-promotion, and fake news as the basis of a successful business. Read the rest here. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Staying Ahead of Disruption with Workforce Sensing

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Workforce Magazine, August, 2019

By Daniel Roddy and Chris Havrilla

Plug the word “disruption” into Google Trends and you’ll get a jagged line tracking 15 years of peaks and plunges in search frequency. But for all the shortterm variation in the chart, the long-term trend is steadily rising: there are nearly three times as many “disruption” searches today as there were in 2004. 

The steady rise in searches reflects a reality that won’t surprise most leaders. They face a host of disruptions—social, demographic, environmental, economic, technological, and geopolitical. Not only is it their job to make sure that their companies don’t get blindsided by these breakpoints in the status quo, but they also must be able to respond to them quickly and agilely in order to transform these disruptions into competitive advantage.

Sensing is the foundation on which an organization’s ability to identify, pace, and respond to disruption is built. In hindsight, disruptions seem obvious. By the mid-2000s, it was clear that streaming movies would decimate the video rental industry. But to have realized that a decade earlier, when the MP3 format first emerged for audio, and acted upon it is another matter entirely.

The ability to sense disruptions in their nascent stages and predict how they are likely to affect a company and its stakeholders is crucial to success in business today. This is especially true when it comes to sensing disruptions in the workforce. Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Work Should Generate Energy, Not Sap It

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Forbes, August 1, 2019

by Michael Gretczko


It’s 5:45 a.m. There is a candle flickering in the room. A bass booms. I pump my legs. Left, right, left, right. My heart starts pounding. I suck in air. Soon, I’m pouring sweat.

Does this sound like a nightmare? It’s just the opposite.

I start most of my days at SoulCycle, a 45-minute, high-intensity spin class. It’s my “secular sanctuary,” as one of their founders describes it. The class grounds and focuses my mind, resets and recharges my body with the energy I need for the day ahead. It enables me to bring my best self to my work. (I swear I haven't been paid for my comments — I’m just plain addicted.)

When I travel, I invite my colleagues to ride with me. We become a tribe at these classes. By the time we get to our post-workout coffees, we’re connected in a more intimate and intense way, high-fiving and sharing our sense of accomplishment.

As I reflect on what I love about cycling, I realize there are parallels between what it does and what great organizations strive to do. Both seek to maximize our human potential. Both are focused on enabling us to impact the world around us by unlocking our best capabilities and intentions.

There are three lessons from my spin class experience that align with how leaders of high-performing organizations unleash the energy of their workforces. Read the rest here.

Diversity, Inclusion, and the Alternative Workforce

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, August 2019

by Kathi Enderes

The alternative workforce, including outsourced teams, contractors, consultants, freelancers, gig workers, and the crowd, is going mainstream. It’s the fastest-growing labor segment in the EU. By next year, the number of self-employed workers in the US is projected to reach 42 million people — nearly tripling in two years. Alternative workers account for over 10 percent of Australia’s labor pool.

Savvy leaders are well aware of the growth in the alternative workforce. In Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 41 percent of the almost 10,000 executive respondents said alternative workers are “important” or “very important” to their organizations. But only 28 percent said their organizations were “ready” or “very ready” to address the employment of alternative workers. A mere 8 percent said that they have the processes in place to manage and develop these workers. All this represents an opportunity and challenge for leaders everywhere.

A Wellspring of Talent

The opportunity in the alternative workforce is three-fold:

Filling the ‘skills gap’: The growing ranks of alternative workers offer a valuable pool of skills and capabilities in a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill jobs. Last year, a global study by the Manpower Group reported that nearly half (45 percent) of employers studied were having trouble filling open positions; among companies with more than 250 employees, the percentage rose to 67 percent. That’s a major reason why the employment of alternative workers is spreading beyond IT into a host of other roles. Respondents in the 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey indicated that they are using alternative workers extensively in operations (25 percent of respondents), customer service (17 percent), marketing (15 marketing), and innovation/R&D (15 percent).

Positively impacting organizational performance: Alternative workers are often highly talented, experienced, and self-motivated, attracted by the freedom, flexibility, and variety provided by working in arrangements other than traditional employment. Respondents to our trends survey who measure the contribution of outsourced teams, freelancers, gig workers, and the crowd reported that these workers have a positive impact on organizational performance.

Increasing diversity: Alternative workers can be a valuable source of diversity. After all, they may be located anywhere in the world, and often they come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. They can contribute unique perspectives and ideas. Smart leaders not only consider the traditional dimensions of diversity — race, gender, age, and physical ability — they also tap into the deeper value embedded in the hearts and minds of workers. In a complex, global business environment, bringing different hearts and minds together is more important than ever.

So how can your organization tap into the wellspring of alternative workers? Read the rest here.