professional development

Following First Principles to Identify Fundamental Truths

 

Rahul Bhargava provides a post designed to help you think critically and develop better problem-solving skills, a skill that is crucially important in today’s daily deluge of news from a diverse range of sources. 

Now and then, every individual comes face to face with some challenge or a problem, which requires them to make a decision. For an entrepreneur, it could be something as simple as deciding a name for their venture or something as crucial as choosing a location for the office. If you’re an employee working for an organization, you could be tasked with something as uncomplicated as picking out your workspace or something as critical as hiring recruits or choosing your team. For a student, some decisive tasks at hand would be, picking the correct career path, which subjects to study, which college to go to, and so on.

Life is full of such severities. Some problems may be complicated, and some may not be so difficult. Some issues may arise on the professional front, some on a personal front. Whatever it is, every decision you make, will have a crucial impact on your life. Hence, you must possess the problem solving ability and skills to think critically to tackle any situation better. Not only would it help you narrow down upon the best suitable option, but also facilitate its effective implementation.

A real-life situation where the skills of critical thinking would come in handy is in filtering out information. We live in a world of the internet and social media, where a truckload of information is available in a single click. Some of this information could be correct and accurate, whilst the majority of it is found to be untrue, commonly referred to as “fake news”.

 

Key points include:

  • Benefits of critical thinking
  • How to develop critical thinking
  • How critical thinking can help problem solving

 

Read the full article, How to Develop Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills, on purplecrest.co. 

 

Climbing the Rungs on the Successful Consultant’s Ladder 

David A. Fields shares a post on key steps to take to grow your business.

Clients hire your consulting firm in part because you know more than they do. You’re an expert. Wise in the ways of management, marketing or the musk beetle (or whatever your area of expertise happens to be).

How expert are you, though, and what are you doing to continuously upgrade your knowledge?

Domain knowledge is one of the three ingredients you mix together to whip up a consultant. (The others are consulting skills and s’mores.) Examples of a domain include: an industry, function, methodology, technology platform, geography, or particular situation, problem or aspiration.

New consultants at your consulting firm often need to polish their consulting skills and supplement their domain knowledge. Plus, of course, newbies need to learn your consulting firm’s IP and family recipes inside and out.

Ideally, you’ve developed onboarding and training materials to fling newcomers up the capability curve.

After that initial bolus of learning, however, the vectors of learning in many small consulting firms narrow down to one: experience.

Similarly, as a consulting firm leader, you’ve gained the lion’s share of your valuable wisdom from experience on projects.

Experiential learning is huge. It’s real-world, and directly relates to your clients’ needs.

 

Key points include:

  • The true value of experiential learning
  • Creating a domain knowledge ladder
  • Identifying the knowledge source

 

Read the full post, The Ladder You Must Climb To Grow Your Consulting Firm, on davidafields.com.

Key Points in Managing Your Image

 

Priyanka Ghosh shares an always valuable reminder on the importance of minding your assumptions and making sure others are reminded of your value.

Early in my career at a top Management Consulting Firm in New York my Senior Manager had asked me a question…”what is your brand, Priyanka”….that question had left me stumped! a) I had no idea what he was talking about; b) I always thought that when you do good work you get noticed for your work.  The idea of managing your image and shaping a perception had never crossed my mind.

Through that experience I had learnt a valuable lesson…don’t assume anything.  Don’t assume that your manager, your colleagues or the people who report to you know the good work that you are doing.  Like politicians, one has to learn to manage not only one’s career but also manage perceptions and create an image of how you would like to be perceived by others.

Lesson No. 1: What matters is not so much what you do or have done, but what other people think you have accomplished.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to say that you should ‘sound’ more than you ‘do’….but it is important to articulate what you have done.  Otherwise, people do have short-term memories and they tend to forget.  Which means that you need to manage your image as well as your real job.

Lesson No. 2: Don’t assume that people know what you are working on; take every opportunity to educate others.  Making sure that you share the right and credible information can be a powerful tool in shaping your profile in the workplace.

 

Key points include:

  • Managing expectations
  • Managing perceptions
  • The elevator speech

 

Read the full article, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.…” on promelier.co.uk.

 

How to Use the Mind Magic Strategy

                      

Kaihan Krippendorff shares an article that identifies how to take better control of your subconscious to become aware of valuable information. 

We have heard the adages like “work on your business, not in it” and “come up to see the forest for the trees.” At McKinsey they urged us to continually take the “top management perspective” by zooming up to look at the business overall before jumping into the details.

But we know Bill Gates used to lock himself in a cabin for a week every year just to read and think during his “Think Weeks”. My friend Tony Crabbe, an organizational psychologist, has written two outstanding books with practical advice for clearing out the busy to give you time to think. Cal Newport goes deep into the need for us to clear space for “deep work” in his book.

Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, gets up to write at 4 a.m. 365 days a year. Stephen King clears his calendar to write 2,000 words every day before he allows himself to engage with the outside world. Great athletes envision the game before they get on the field (indeed, my friend and former roommate who served as captain of the US national rugby team told me he would spend hours envisioning every moment of the game before a match).

In other words, maybe the old adage should be reversed to “don’t just do something … sit there!

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying what you want
  • Instructing your mind 
  • Structuring your thinking process

 

Read the full article, Activating The Subconscious Power Of Strategy, on Kaihan.net. 

 

Find the People to Help You Progress

 

If you are stuck in a rut, at a career crossroads, or just not moving forward as fast as you want to, Christy Johnson shares a blog from her website on the difference between a mentor and a champion and how each one can help you. 

‘Where are your champions?

You’ve probably heard the hackneyed advice for career advancement: “It’s who you know, not what you know.” But how do you know who you should get to know? Figuring out who you should cultivate relationships with when time and energy is limited isn’t always straightforward.

After interviewing over 200 professionals from diverse backgrounds and industries for Project Ascendance, we found one relationship trumped the others when it comes to ROI: the champion. The individuals we spoke with described the people who advocated for them in and out of their own workplace—their champions—as pivotal to  their career success.

What’s more, when we asked participants to reflect on their professional experiences and tell us what they wished they had done differently, the most frequent regret they shared was not seeking out champions sooner. While these champion/protégé relationships are rarer than mentor/mentee relationships, our participants showed us that they can be developed over time.

There are, however, fundamental differences between mentors and champions. In a mentor/mentee relationship, the mentee receives most of the benefits and the mentor expects little in return. In a champion/protégé relationship, both people make a greater commitment to each other and have more at stake. Championing is a deeper more reciprocal relationship that requires mutual trust. Below is a quick guide for distinguishing between your mentors and champions.’

 

Key points include:

  • Reciprocal relationships
  • Affinity and social proximity
  • Constructive champions

 

Read the full post, Do you have a champion or a mentor? on artemisconnection.com.

 

Overcoming Creativity Bias

 

Shelli Baltman reflects on creativity, and how you don’t have to be ‘creative’ to bring it in to your day-to-day working life.

‘But I’m not creative!’

Even today, it’s hard for me to write that.  After almost 20 years as an Innovation Expert, a role where clients hire me for my creativity and fresh ideas, and a long track record of commercial success, there’s still a small, childlike part of me that wonders if I’m creative enough.

My journey to a career in the world of creative thinking and innovation was not the standard path through marketing or advertising. After an undergraduate business degree, I started my working life as a management consultant, building excel models and cutting my teeth in data and analytics.  Even after my MBA I worked at McKinsey & Co. in London and was practicing a purely fact-based, analytical approach to the business world.

Then, while working on a pitch for a start-up, I met some amazing creative geniuses, who blew me away with their ability to think differently, their ideas that seemingly came from nowhere, and their unwavering belief in those ideas, however eccentric. And I couldn’t figure out how they did it. Where were they getting these incredible ideas? Did their brains just work differently?  I was jealous, to say the least. I wished more than anything that I was creative, like them, since it looked like so much more fun than the world I was working in!

And so, in 2002, I decided to make it my mission to move into the creative working world. I set out developing my creative muscles and started reading and learning widely, all the while doggedly pursuing a career with an innovation agency. Then, finally, I convinced an agency to hire me, which marked the beginning of over 20 years of fulfilling creative work, and more than 400 successful innovation projects. Now, not only do my clients value and launch the ideas developed during those projects, but I truly love my career, and each and every one of the creative skills that I’ve been able to develop and weave into what we do at The Idea Suite.”

 

Key points include:

  • State of mind
  • New connections
  • Embrace experimentation

 

Read the full article, “But I’m Not Creative!”: My Journey To Creativity, Confidence And A Career That I Love, on theideasuite.com. 

 

The Productive Power of Love

 

Susan Meier asks us simply to think about love and how it works when we want to bring positive and productive energy into play.

 

“Think about love.

In the early days of running my own company, I was feeling nervous about a pitch meeting with a potential new client. My friend suggested matter-of-factly, “Just think about love.” I laughed at first, because love seemed like an odd thing to be thinking about while discussing digital media strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. But I decided to give it a try. I took a deep breath as I sat down to the meeting and called the word ‘love’ to mind. I felt my chest broaden and my shoulders release. It wasn’t romantic love, but rather the sensation of pure joy that comes when you hug your puppy, the feeling that anything is possible when the sun shines on your shoulders. I nailed the presentation and won the work.

It worked because love is what you bring to your very best work – the passion you feel for something you truly care about, the sense of integrity that comes with fulfilling your purpose, the patience and tenacity that get conjured up when you are determined to make good on a commitment.

Don’t think about robots.

While we may worry about machine learning and artificial intelligence taking jobs and dehumanizing work, we need not. It’s true that machines and algorithms have quick computing power and no pesky egos to contend with. However, the unique gifts of the human heart – empathy, vulnerability, emotional literacy – can’t be replicated.”

 

Key points include:

  • Working without fear
  • Aligning with passion
  • Intrinsic motivation

 

Read the full article, How Love Works, on SusanMeierStudio.com.

 

A Professional Development Program

March 21, 2021

 

Aneta Key shares a concise post that explains the purpose and benefits of her company’s GrowthKey programs.

One way to increase the leadership capacity of your organization is to invest in the development of your people and build organizational capabilities. The GrowthKey Programs help you do just that.

GrowthKey blended learning approach

The GrowthKey professional development programs develop critical strategic, problem-solving, and interpersonal capabilities to elevate the confidence and performance of leaders, high performers groomed for cross-functional assignments, up-and-comers, partners, project managers, and consultants. 

The programs may mesh one or more of these elements depending on your unique needs:

Synchronous (virtual or in-person) “intensives” to galvanize learning — A core element that kick-starts learning. Custom content is developed based on client objectives and needs assessment for learners (e.g., High Potentials, Team Leaders, Project Managers, new hires). Durations last from multi-day “boot camp” formats to half-a-day “deep-dive” formats.

 

Key points include:

  • The comprehensive global program
  • The targeted local program

 

Read the full post, GrowthKey — Blended learning model for custom corporate training programs, on the Aedeapartners.com.

 

How to Become a Champion of Change

 

Caroline Taich shares a  post on change and the skills you need to drive it forward. 

In this blog, we have been exploring the McKinsey model for change. Last week I wrote about conviction as a driver of change.  This week I’m thinking about the skills you need for change.  Here is a big one – the ability to see your unique strengths.

This came up during the wonderful opportunity I had to learn from Councilman Matt Zone.  Councilman Zone serves Ward 15, which includes Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Despite its strong roots, the 1960s brought de-industrialization to Detroit Shoreway, and the area began to decline.  Matt Zone’s leadership helped revive the neighborhood, beginning in 2004 with the vision for the Gordon Square Arts District.  Major reinvestment in the community, including 5 major capital projects totaling $30M, led to economic growth and neighborhood beautification that is celebrated here and around the world (read more here).

Councilman Zone stressed that one of the most important keys for change was to focus on Detroit Shoreway’s unique strengths.  But, how do you identify these unique strengths? Here are two of my favorite approaches.

Story-telling approach.  Go talk to people and gather stories of impact.  For example, you can ask others, ‘When have you felt most proud of this neighborhood?’ Ask for a specific story, and then probe on the details that made the experience memorable.

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying unique strengths
  • Story-telling approach
  • Analytical approach

 

Read the full post, Identify Unique Strengths to Drive Change, on KirtlandConsulting.com.

 

Four Steps to Make Change Happen

February 25, 2021

 

With the pandemic slowing the pace in how we live and work, many of us may feel stuck. Luckily, Mike Ross shares a quick tip to help set movement in motion. 

I’m lucky to spend a lot of my time working with highly intelligent, motivated people; helping them think through decisions for themselves and their organizations. Some big decisions, some small ones, but these conversations often share a striking similarity – the people I’m speaking with usually already know what to do. 

They know the answer. They’re just stuck. 

And what makes them stuck is fear. Fear of getting it wrong, of making a mistake, of screwing something up and regretting it. And they come to me (and people like me) to validate their ideas. Sometimes we find a piece of evidence or a fact that they overlooked that helps them to re-think their idea and chart a new path, but in many cases, they would be just as well served by trying their ideas out (on a small scale to begin with) and learning as they go. And that’s usually the advice that I give them. Try it and see. 

They don’t really need a consultant or an adviser or coach. They just need the starting point of a plan and permission to move. 

 

So here’s a quick hit to help you get unstuck…

 

Key points include:

  • Tackling risk
  • Gathering ideas
  • Breaking through fear

 

Read the full post, Permission to Change, on LinkedIn.

 

A 30-Day Plan to Painless Networking

February 15, 2021

 

Robbie Baxter shares valuable advice on how to build and manage a network in a comfortable and authentic way.

A few years ago, my sister asked me to co lead a workshop to help a group of her fellow psychologists build their professional network.

Here’s how she opened the event: “I know most of us really don’t like networking, and I’m glad you’re here anyway. For most of us networking is worse than a sharp stick in the eye”

I heard murmurs of agreement and saw heads bobbing up and down. These people hated networking. But I came to learn that a big part of it was how they defined networking and the approach they believed they had to use to build and nurture their networks.

I have come to learn that for many people, networking feels inauthentic and cheesy, and seems to take them away from the real work of helping clients and doing the work.

And yet, your network can be a tremendously powerful tool in “doing the work” and your investment in building your network can be among the most authentic and meaningful parts of your day.

In my work building engaged communities and forever transactions for all kinds of organizations, I have spent a lot of time teaching people how to build their networks in an ethical and comfortable way.

Here are some tips that can help you build yours!

 

Key points include:

  • Communication tips
  • Strategies for segmentation 
  • Developing opportunities

 

Read the full article, 30 Days to a Stronger Network in 2021, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Improve the Virtual Learning Experience

 

Christy Johnson shares a post from her company blog on how to make virtual learning a better experience for students.

In this panel, experts from Stanford and from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco discussed: 

  • Experimenting with synchronous and asynchronous classroom environments, flipped classrooms, and different online tools
  • Helping students meet, network, collaborate, complete meaningful activities, and learn from one another
  • Thinking creatively about using technology and designing online learning specifically for an online setting
  • Staying positive and using what we’re learning now to improve education in the long run
  • Working with and listening to students

Themes that Emerged During a Full Term of Online Instruction in Spring 2020

John Mitchell, a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford, and Maxwell Bigman, a PhD student at Stanford’s GSE, conducted a survey of the online experiences of Stanford’s CS program and revealed those results in a paper, “Teaching Online in 2020: Experiments, Empathy, Discovery.” At Stanford, and so many other universities, Mitchell said, everyone did what they could to adapt to circumstances in the emergency shift to online instruction. It was a seat-of-the-pants-effort. Most faculty spent several times as long as they normally would have to prepare and teach their courses.

 

Key points include:

  • Reducing Zoom fatigue and facilitating student collaboration
  • Comparisons with the massive online open course environment
  • Using technology to measure and maintain attention

 

Read the full article, Enhancing the Virtual Learning Experience: Lessons from Stanford’s Transforming Learning Accelerator, on ArtemisConnection.com.

 

Welcoming new member Hung Nguyen

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Hung Nguyen with OUTLAST Consulting. Hung recently joined OUTLAST Consulting, a purpose-driven professional development + strategy firm focused on fueling innovation and empowering diverse talent. Prior to OUTLAST, Hung headed the Digital Center of Expertise at BP, where she piloted user-centric ways to recruit, develop, and deploy talent. At McKinsey, she focused on organizational effectiveness and cultural transformations.

She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Her interest in diversity extends beyond work and into her love for travel. You can watch her globetrotting antics on CBS’s reality TV show, The Amazing Race, which premiered in Fall 2020. Hung looks forward to collaborating on projects involving professional development or diversity.

Thinking Forward to the Future of Work

February 9, 2021

 

Paul Millerd shares insights from multiple sources on the future of work in these five conversations. 

The future of work can mean anything.  I’ve had many conversations and discussions around the idea of “future of work” where people talk past each other, often focused on different fundamental issues.  In an effort to make sense of this complexity and create some common ground for the many people having these conversations, I propose differentiating between five future of work conversations:

Conversation #1: Macro Trends (consultancies, journalists, politicians)

This conversation is typified by looking at trends and then working backward to see what the implications are for people.  Terms like “fourth industrial revolution,” “the end of work,” “post-work,” “artificial intelligence,” and “robots” are used prolifically.  McKinsey writes in a report on the future of work:

‘Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work.’

…and Quartz:

‘Automation, advanced manufacturing, AI, and the shift to e-commerce are dramatically changing the number and nature of work.’

…and finally, The Brookings Institute:

‘Robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars are no longer things of the distant future.’

 

Key points include:

  • One of the top three skills workers will need
  • The Gig Economy
  • Evolving Organizational Ecosystems

 

Read the full article, The Future Of Work Is Five Different Conversations, on LinkedIn.

 

Key Tips for the Solo Consultant

January 24, 2021

 

Nora Ghaoui shares the top three ways she built her business as a solo consultant during the difficult year of 2020.  

Building a consulting pipeline is tough in any year. In 2020, the uncertainty caused by the pandemic made companies cautious, so it was harder to get projects agreed and started.  I tried out different actions to build my project pipeline, and some worked better than others. Here are the top 3 things that made a difference to building my business as a solo consultant.  They might not be what you expect!

Spend your time wisely

Time gets away from you when your established routine is broken.  Without strong deadlines or direct feedback, it’s easy for actions to be postponed, half-done or forgotten in the jumble of dealing with lockdowns and working from home. 

So the most important success factor is: Be very intentional about how you spend your time.  What you spend time on, and what you get done, makes the difference between building your business or seeing it languish.  It sounds obvious, but it can be hard to do in practice.

As an “army of one”, all the work has to be done by you, although you can outsource parts of it.  This work includes refining your positioning, creating and publishing your marketing, building and nurturing your network, prospecting for leads, pitching for projects, negotiating with clients, working on projects, doing administrative overhead, keeping your expertise up to date, and, last but not least, having fun and enjoying what you do.

 

Key points include:

  • Questions to help you prioritize
  • Reviewing progress to stay on track
  • Expanding and maintaining connections

 

Read the full article, Keep building your consulting pipeline (in a tough year), on Veridia.nl.

 

The Role You Play in Hiring the ‘Right Fit’ 

 

Zaheera Soomar shares a post that explores the problem of prospective employees following an organizations’ assessment of their ‘cultural fit’. 

I came across a few LinkedIn posts about candidate experiences and organizations requests in recruitment. I read through the comments to see how others felt and it didn’t leave me feeling comfortable.

I tried to reflect and dig deep about why I’m feeling uncomfortable. I reflected on my past experiences in both joining organizations but also in hiring individuals to join. I reflected on a fairly recent experience with an organization that I joined and then decided to move on from because of culture fit.

This is where I got to with my reflections:

When organizations hire, majority of organizations assess for culture fit. This has become increasingly important over the years where it’s not just about the skills set but about alignment with values, culture and principles.

But… it’s a two way alignment. Candidates should equally assess the fit from their end and be courageous enough to do it.  At the end of the day… accountability should work both ways right? I think many individuals do – but not as we should. I reflected back on the experience I mentioned above and remembered having doubts/questions in my mind about culture fit. I didn’t do enough when signing up… even though I attempted to do more once in. But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t make a difference.

 

Key points include:

  • Proceeding with authenticity
  • Assessing your requirements
  • Assessing company culture

 

Read the full article, Don’t let the organization be the only decision maker at the table, on LinkedIn.

 

It’s Fabulous and It’s Free

 

Dan Markovitz shares a free workbook to accompany his latest book. 

Response to my latest book, The Conclusion Trap, has been strong, but I’ve heard from some readers that they’d like a workbook to accompany it. 

Done. 

You can download the Conclusion Trap Workbook here. For free. Gratis. No charge. $0.00 dollars. 

In it, you’ll find a recap of each of the four steps, along with questions, and recommendations you can use to experiment with the approach in your work (or personal!) lives.

 

Access the link to the workbook through the post, The Conclusion Trap Workbook Is Out (And It’s Free), on MarkovitzConsulting.com.

 

The Importance of AI in Selective Perception

January 12, 2021

 

Tobias Baer draws attention to the danger of selective perception becoming the norm as the use of AI in online information and marketing limits the amount of information delivered. 

There is a famous psychological experiment where participants intently watch a basketball game – but when asked afterwards about the gorilla that had danced around amidst the players, nobody has seen it. It’s the literal textbook example of selective perception – in this experiment, participants were tasked with counting the number of passes between the players and as they focused all their attention on the ball, their minds completely disregarded everything else going on on the court.

If you think of selective perception as a curtain that is partially drawn on our minds, thus narrowing our window into the world, AI is pulling more curtains from every side, leaving only a dwindling beam of light. If we don’t actively manage this and make sure we get enough exposure to mental sunlight, we risk making increasingly poor decisions and falling prey to manipulation by marketers. In the following, I will quickly describe how selective perception affects our beliefs and actions before reviewing some of the recent innovations in how AI is used that worry me for what they could do to our perception.

Our own selective perception is technically necessary but also a key way how our personality manifests itself. You all will have met anxious people who seem to always only see the risks of a proposal, or helpless optimists who seem to be blissfully blind to any risks or downsides.

 

Key points include:

  • Facebook’s acquisition of Kustomer
  • GPT-3, a language prediction model
  • Side-tracked cognitive processes

 

Read the full article, How AI closes the curtain on human perception, on LinkedIn. 

 

Bringing Possibility into View

December 31, 2020

 

Susan Hamilton shares a thoughtful post on creative thinking and the pursuit of possibility.

September has always been my favorite month. The smell of new notebooks, the crispness in the still-warm air. A season full of unknowns, full of possibility. This year, the back-to-school season presents a different riff on unknowns to be sure, but I am still filled with a sense of excitement at the possibility that awaits.

People who are open to seeing possibility have a powerful competitive advantage. They notice opportunities others miss. They discover new ways forward that others may not have imagined or may have written off as impractical. 

Tony Petito was a man who saw possibility. 

While growing up in New Jersey, Tony’s love of theatre was a puzzlement to his family of plumbers. Undeterred, he organized extravagant musical productions, earning him a commendation from his town’s mayor. He went on to earn an MFA in directing from the Goodman School of Drama of the Art Institute of Chicago and pursued a theatre career in Chicago and New York. 

When he was offered an unexpected opportunity to work in management consulting, he took the leap. While it drew him away from the theater, his time with Booz, Allen & Hamilton took him on adventures across Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore and provided a secure life for his growing young family.

In Singapore, a community theatre approached him seeking an artistic director. Where others might have dismissed the role, imagining nothing more than staging Gilbert & Sullivan musicals for local expatriates, Tony had a vision. What if it were possible to transform that theater, leveraging its staff and supporters, to create a professional, international company?

 

Read the full post, In Pursuit of Possibility, on SusanMeierStudio.com

 

The Business Path to Spirituality 

December 27, 2020

Andy Sheppard explores the connection between business and spirituality and how one can feed the other. 

In my work, I often help leaders to dismantle silos in their organisations. It’s so rewarding to see people thrive and gain new insights as they come together. Somewhat similarly, I have also found that new insights can be unlocked through making connections across different compartments in life. Lateral thinking across parts of life that are typically separate – like our professional life and our spiritual life – can help us to thrive. I believe doing so can help us to lead richer and more integrated lives.

This article shares three connections I have found helpful between my professional life and aspects of my Christian faith. I hope it might offer interesting and fresh insights, whether or not you would consider yourself religious.

Being Hypothesis Driven

I have sympathy for anyone who questions why a search for spiritual meaning should start with Jesus. Thousands of historical and current figures have claimed insight into what gives life meaning and/or how we can live it to the full. Shouldn’t we either listen to them all, or just figure life out for ourselves? And why should we start with anyone who taught a lot about “God” when we’re not even convinced that any deity exists?

When I became a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, I was encouraged to be “hypothesis driven”. This means starting with a hypoth­esis – an educated guess – of where value is and driving towards it. The idea is to benefit from experi­ence and to make rapid progress. It remains rational because the hypothesis should be rejected or modified if disproved by the relevant data, and it is rapid because analysing this data represents only a fraction of the possible analyses. Nevertheless, as an engineer the idea still sat uncomfortably with me: it felt like jumping to a solution too early. My opinion changed when I witnessed what the expert in charge of my first engagement helped us all to accomplish. I would never have believed that so much positive change in processes and culture was possible so quickly – until I saw it happen.

 

Key points include:

  • Six types of sin
  • Toyota’s operational excellence
  • The complexity of simplicity

 

Read the full article, Can Professional Insights Lead to Spiritual Insight?, on LinkedIn.

 

Influential Digital Communities and How They Compare with the Past

December 24, 2020

 

Paul Millerd shares the latest edition from his blog that explores the connections between the revolutionary and evolutionary writers in history with today’s dissemination of information on social media. He also shares a resource of links to today’s influential  inter-intellect sites. 

The meta-scenius and the future

Would Thoreau have convinced more people to move to Walden pond if he had Twitter?

That was the question I was thinking about as I read American Bloomsbury, a book about a “scenius” in the mid nineteenth century in Concord, Massachusetts.

“Scenius” was the term invented by Brian Eno that I became aware of because of Packy McCormick’s essay earlier this year. Packy was trying to understand what elements led to the emergence of famous “scenes” from history such as Scotland in the 1700s, Motown, and Silicon Valley.

As I read American Bloomsbury I was struck with how many now-famous authors happened to be living within a couple of blocks of each other.. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau and many others spent their days talking about their writing, carrying on about topics of the day and getting involved in a growing abolitionist movement.

However, most of the book highlights their shared turmoil and failure. Thoreau battled tuberculosis and died before 50. Emerson was kicked out of Harvard and the Church. Margaret Fuller died in a boat crash on Fire Island. Louis Marie Alcott had to start working to support her family because her fathers’ failed utopian communities.

 

Key points include:

  • The digital Meta-scene
  • Thoreau on Twitter
  • Making the jump from online to offline

 

Access the links and read the full newsletter, #120: The Emergence Of The Digital Meta-Scene, Very Online People (VOP), Strangely Earnest Twitter, Digital Ambitions and Bold Offline Adventures, on the Boundless website. 

 

Five Ways to Improve Your Day

December 13, 2020

 

Amy Giddon takes a look back at the past year to provide friendly insight and advice on how to make life better in five easy ways. 

2020 has been a year like no other. As we’ve grown weary, depleted, and drained, the power of kindness to transform a moment, a day, a life has only grown. When people are asked to recall a kindness they received, they often recall a time when they were at their most fragile and a small generous act had an outsized and memorable impact. We’re all a bit fragile now. It’s been turbulent. The amazing thing is – an act of kindness leaves a lasting impression on both the giver and the receiver of a kind act, healing both.

Short on time? Short on funds? Quarantined? No worries. There are many ways to spread kindness right where you are. And you already have the most valuable kindness resource of all – the warm beam of your attention.

Here are some kind acts that are tailor-made for this year that’s been anything but kind:

1) See others, really see them. Smile at strangers (with your eyes if masked). Make contact with people you usually don’t acknowledge. Give a chance to someone that you might dismiss. Slow down and pay attention to people. Tell someone you’re thinking of them. Listen intently. Follow up. Smile some more. And just watch how people soften, straighten, blossom under your gaze.

 

Key points include:

  • Providing relief
  • Self-care
  • The power of appreciation

 

Read the full article, 5 Ways to Be Kind In a Year That Hasn’t Been, on LinkedIn. 

 

Where Do You Find Solitude?

December 10, 2020

 

Susan Meier Hamilton identifies the need for solitude and how to find it in a noisy world.

Once upon a time, I spent 8 hours a day completely alone, working from home. I am an introvert who needs solitude to recharge my batteries and focus, and I enjoyed that. These days, the vast majority of my time is spent in the company of 4 other people who are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, also now working from home.

It’s been an adjustment.

Of course, togetherness is good. But creativity experts and academic researchers agree that some amount of solitude is one of the key prerequisites for creative productivity.

I’ve developed some quirky hacks. Sometimes I work in the bathroom, because it has a door that locks. (It’s a large bathroom, so this is not as gross as it sounds.) I use my devices to create virtual boundaries – it turns out the very presence of earbuds is enough to deter all but the most tenacious of supplicants. Never mind that I can’t concentrate if I listen to music while I work. No one but me knows there is nothing streaming into my ears.

Solitude is really about autonomy. Autonomy is a particularly important precondition for creativity, because creativity is all about being independent in one’s thoughts and actions – even when we’re collaborating.

The quest for quiet is not unique to remote work in a pandemic, nor is it limited to introverts. Businesspeople of all kinds in all work settings often lack the solitude and autonomy necessary to think creatively. Interruptions from phones, meetings, and live humans continually impede the free flow of ideas.

In one large pre-pandemic study, 60% of people said they were most creative in private environments – calling into question all those open office plans. And let’s not confuse ‘solitude’ with ‘solitary.’ 30% of those who preferred private spaces said they were highly collaborative there.

You may not want to lock yourself in a bathroom or fake an obsession with Spotify. I get it. Here are some other ideas for how to find the solitude you need:

 

Key points include:

  • Finding privacy
  • Taking time out to “hear” ideas
  • The creative benefits of relaxation

 

Read the full article, Searching for Solitude, on susanmeierstudio.com.

 

Understanding the Why in Story

December 5, 2020

 

Jesse Jacoby shares a post that illustrates the importance of story, and why the corporate story is the key to engaging employees.

We all love a good story, whether our preference is for fiction or nonfiction.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to the news, expanding your mind watching a TEDx talk or listening to a podcast. All these media use stories to communicate their messages.

Why?

One reason is because it makes the message more interesting. We may miss the importance of a fact if the information is presented in a boring way; but when it is woven into a story, it can reveal a message that we otherwise would have missed.

 The best storytellers make us feel that we are part of narrative. They make us laugh because of the circumstances or cry by getting us to experience the emotion that the characters do.

And it doesn’t matter if the characters are portrayed as human beings or animals, as George Orwell’s Animal Farm so aptly illustrates. Kids as well as adults identify with them because they recognize something of themselves in them, and often they desire to become more like them.

Another reason stories are told is because people will often take action as a result. It is why the authors of many non-fiction books create personas. They want their readers to be able to easily identify and personalize the principles that they describe.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • The power of ‘why’
  • Motivating behaviour
  • Organizational stories

 

Read the full article, Why Stories Matter to Your Organization, on EmergentConsultants.com.

 

How Co-creator Bias Affects Innovation

 

In this article, Robyn M. Bolton illuminates how our personal bias comes into play with the co-creator syndrome and how it can affect innovation.   

When I was a senior in college, I took a pottery class. 

One of our assignments, before learning to throw on the wheel, was to create a functional piece using slabs of clay.  I designed an Alice in Wonderland-inspired vase and built something that somewhat resembled the design.

Obviously impressed by my innate talent, the instructor offered to teach me a special glazing technique that used highly toxic chemicals to create…well…I stopped listening as soon as I heard “toxic chemicals.”  It was dangerous, so I was in.

The result was a rather misshapen (not Alice in Wonderland-inspired) vase that looked like it was made out of chunks of rusted metal.

I loved it!

My roommate hated it.

She declared it the ugliest thing she ever saw and forbid me from placing it anywhere in the apartment where she might have the misfortune of laying eyes on it.

To this day, she swears it’s the ugliest thing she’s ever seen.

I display it proudly on the bookshelf in my office.

It would be easy to explain our different reactions to my work of art as simply the result of different aesthetic preferences.  And while there may be some truth in it, I suspect the better explanation is the IKEA Effect.

 

Key points include:

  • The Ikea effect
  • Meatballs and lingonberries
  • Objective governance

 

Read the full article, The IKEA Effect is Creating Zombies. Here’s How to Fight Them, on the MileZero website. 

 

Walking in Your Clients’ Shoes

 

Caroline Taich shares a concise post and one key tip on how to improve your client services. 

Are you getting ready to start a planning process?

I help my clients bring new ideas to life. To do this work well, I believe that it helps to know what it’s like to walk in client shoes. So when the arts organization where I am Board President was ready to write a strategic plan, I jumped at the chance to be the client. Here’s what I learned about how to make the most of your planning experience:

You must invest in it. Full stop. Your job as a leader on the strategic planning team is to listen; contribute; reflect; rinse & repeat. Unless you invest, you won’t get the full benefit. When I volunteer my perspective and say out loud what I value (e.g., “part of the purpose of a community arts organization should include making new friendships”) – I build ownership, pride and accountability for realizing it.

Write out your most important questions at the start, and make them as specific as possible. An ok question might be, “How can we have greater impact?” A better question is, “What are the three most important things we can offer our community that they can’t get anywhere else?”

You have to make the length of the planning process work for you. Planning can be done in as little as 1 day or as long as a year. Choose the timeline that allows you to wrestle with the data and your vision – but not so long that you get lost in the process.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Strategic planning tips
  • Building ownership
  • Question planning

 

Access the article, On Being a Client, on the Kirtland Consulting website.

 

Rebranding You

November 22, 2020

 

Tommy Kim provides an article that explains how rethinking your brand can help you grow. 

The picture of a Lockheed Martin F35 at the opening of this article sends a very clear message. It demonstrates power, pride, quality, stealth, and dominance. Similarly, throughout your life, you will craft a very clear, personal brand for yourself. A brand identity that you want people to identify you with and to remember you by. As you grow and thrive, you will deepen the relationship you have with your brand and it will not only become a reflection of who you are, but also the characteristic by which others will associate with you and everything you do. This includes where you were educated and what you learned from there and who you met along the way that made an impact in your life.

Then, where you went to work and what you learned, contributed, and achieved there.

What you do now matters as you build yourself up and begin maintaining strong relationships with those you meet along your path. Your reward as you do so is a stronger personal brand equity at each junction in your journey. Remember, even “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Like this feat of this engineering marvel, your career will be built over a lifetime of dedication, incredible perseverance, and talent. From it, you will harvest fruit in the form of clearly defined identity and respect.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Building confidence
  • Investing in growth
  • Planning for progression

 

Read the full article, In Search of the Most Important Brand in Your Life, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Maximize the Workshop Experience

 

Jonathan Paisner shares a video from his #be150 series on conducting an in-person work session.

 

 

Key points include:

  • Planning
  • Appreciating the novelty
  • Working those interstitial moments

 

Catch the full video, Running a workshop in the time of COVID, on BrandExperienced.com.

 

How to Motivate the Motivators

 

Robyn M. Bolton provides key tips that you can take to motivate corporate executives into action. 

Things we know we should do because they’re good for us:

Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day

Floss twice a day

Get 10,000 steps a day

Buy insurance

Consistently invest in innovation

Let’s be honest, the above list could also be titled, “Things we know we should do but don’t.”

Why?  Why do we choose not to do things that years of research prove are good for us and for which solutions are readily available?

Because they’re inconvenient, uncomfortable, expensive, and, most of all, because we have not yet been burned by not doing them.

Experience is a better motivator of change and driver of behavior than knowledge. We don’t floss until we’ve had one (or more) painful and bloody dentist appointments.  We don’t buy insurance until we have to deal with a break-in.  We don’t invest in innovation until we’re desperate for revenue, profit, or growth.

The good news is that, at least when it comes to innovation, we don’t have to wait to be desperate or to get burned before we do what we know we should.  We can create experiences that motivate change.

 

Key points include:

  • Borrowing relevant experiences
  • Creating experiences of success
  • Immersing everyone in the experience

 

Read the full article, How to Get Corporate Executives to Walk Their Innovation Talk, on the MileZero website.

 

How to Improve Your Productivity Proactively

 

Maintaining productivity for you and your team is not always easy, but despair not; David A. Fields provides a list of productivity questions designed to make you assess, address, and activate a productivity system.

Puff your chest out and strike a superhero pose. You’re Super Productivity Person! Sigh, that’s not very catchy is it?

Also, to be fair, probably neither you nor your consulting firm are achieving legendary productivity day in and day out. You could, though, using the approach outlined below.

Productivity isn’t as sexy a superpower as x-ray vision*, stretchy skin, or spidey senses.*

On the other hand, sky-high productivity feels pretty darn good and rewards you and your consulting firm with high profits, meaningful work, and enviable work/life balance.

So, how do you step up to the Mt. Olympus of productivity?

If you run a quick search on time management and productivity techniques, you’ll surface dozens of approaches. (Hover your mouse here to see some examples.)

It turns out that virtually all of the many, many productivity approaches and systems are built to help you answer a handful of basic questions.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • The Basic Productivity Questions
  • The More Important Productivity Questions
  • The Superhero Productivity Question

 

Read the full article, How To Make Yourself And Your Consulting Firm Super Productive, and access the questions, on David’s website.

 

Removing the Barrier to Customer Research 

 

Robyn M. Bolton shares why a business should always engage in customer research when innovating and explains why she doesn’t always follow her own advice. 

If you’re innovating without involving your customers, you’re wasting time and money.

I believe this so deeply that I require all of my clients to spend time talking with and listening to their customers at least once during our work together.  Investing in customer research, I explain, is the single smartest and best investment that any business can make.  Just 5 or 10 customer conversations can dramatically alter the course of an initiative, positioning it for incredible success or killing it before too much time, energy, and money is wasted.

Understanding your customers, especially through Jobs to be Done, is the hill I will die on.

But I actively resist doing this for my business.

The idea of interviewing my customers, or investing to understand their Jobs to be Done, or altering aspects of my business based on their feedback triggers a cold sweat and a very real flight response.

So why is my business different? (It’s not)

Why am I such a customer research hypocrite?

Here are the thoughts that run through my head when I consider talking to my own customers:

I’m supposed to be the expert in this, what if they tell me something I haven’t thought of?

What if my customers say they don’t like or want what I’m doing and would like or want something I’m not?

What if I do try something new and it fails?

It is SO much easier, and it feels so much safer, to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s what I’ve always done and it’s what bigger and more “successful” firms do.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Why am I such a customer research hypocrite?
  • How do we overcome these emotional barriers?
  • How do we overcome the fear and take action?

 

Read the full article, Confessions of a Customer Research Hypocrite, on Milezero.com.

 

 

How Working from Home can Empower Innovation

 

In this post, Robyn M. Bolton explores how working remotely can improve company culture and accelerate innovation. 

The seasons may be changing but, for most, there is no end in sight for our new Work From Home (WFH) existence. The prospect of more months of working from the kitchen table, searching for a quiet spot for a Zoom call, and juggling personal and professional responsibilities on a minute-by-minute basis is frustrating and overwhelming for most.

It’s also raising questions about the future of work. Will companies still maintain large physical office spaces? What new symbols of power and status will take the place of the corner office? Will people need to relocate when they change companies? When, if ever, will co-workers gather together in person?

How will company culture form? Will innovation continue or stall?

It is those last two questions, about culture and innovation, that every single one of my clients, all executives with responsibility for growth and innovation at their companies, have been asking and struggling to answer for the past few months.

 

Key points include:

  • Accepting new situation
  • Empowering the introvert
  • Creating new innovation approaches

 

Read the full article, How to Transform WFH into the Best Thing to Happen to Innovation in Your Company, on Medium. 

 

Three Key Steps to Becoming a Confident Corporate Leader

 

Caroline Taich shares how to make the mindset shift from uncertain operator to confident corporate leader.

Dave was one of my first clients as a management consultant. He was in a rotational leadership program at the regional utility. He became the leader of procurement for the construction services category overnight – without any training or preparation. My job was to guide him through the procurement process to identify cost savings.

Dave was taking a risk. In this new role, he was going to be responsible for setting up the vendors and systems that his colleagues would have to use. He cared about the cost savings and he cared about delivering a good outcome for his trusted professional relationships.

I helped Dave by outlining the procurement process. We worked together to define what success looked like. We engaged the people that would be impacted – the line workers, warehouse managers, and vendors. And we got started, working together over ~4.5 months to implement.

 

Key points in this article are:

  • Building capabilities
  • Winning respect
  • Growth mindset

 

Read the full article, How to go from uncertain operator to a confident corporate leader, on the Kirtland Consulting website.

 

Innovation Consulting Training Session

 

Przemek Czerklewicz has been invited by the Hong Kong University chapter of ShARE (a global organization that connects students with international clients for pro bono, socially responsible consulting projects) to speak during their series of online training sessions. 

The training will take place on October 12th between 7 and 8.30 PM Hong Kong time and will be titled:”Breaking into Innovation Consulting: What to Expect and Where to Look”.

He will speak to young, aspiring consultants about how innovation consulting differs from traditional management consulting, what are the key success drivers in the industry, how to prepare for the role and where to look for first opportunities. 

 

For more information about the announcement visit the post, Virtual Training Series, on LinkedIn. 

 

Interest in Expert Networks on the Rise

September 28, 2020

 

Sara Conte shares an article from the company archives that identified the increase in the use of expert networks with projections reaching into 2022.

Investors and others are increasingly utilizing expert networks like Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) and AlphaSites to instantly get answers to key questions. It’s like calling a friend in the business, but these calls are highly regulated to ensure compliance with confidentiality requirements. The results are quick and actionable – particularly when paired with analysis on trends and market data (SGC Ventures provides this service).

​​Bloomberg published this article, “Investors Are Paying $1,300 Per Hour for ‘Expert’ Chats (click here)” earlier in the year, describing the process and its growing popularity. A few excerpts are included below.

Experts On Demand

Research spending on expert networks to soar past $1 billion in coming years. Now that banks have stopped giving equity research for free under a new European Union law, some money managers are opting instead to spend their cash speaking with experts in fields as trendy as artificial intelligence or as niche as sausage packaging.

 

Included in this article:

  • Projections graph
  • Increasing fees
  • Link to resource

 

Read the full article, Investors Are Utilizing Experts At Increasing Rates, on the SGC Ventures website. 

 

On the Road – Freelance Consultant Style

September 25, 2020

 

Paul Millerd helps make sense of things in crazy times with newsletters that deliver sage advice for the self-employed. This week, he discusses building a journey you want to be on, the traps of uncertainty, and the productivity trap. 

My conception of the self-employment ‘game’ has evolved to be defined as creating a life that I want to keep living. This means that work is downstream from life decisions. Compared to how I was living until I left my job in 2017, this has been a dramatic shift and one that comes without a map.

The biggest challenge is not making money, though that is certainly hard. It is learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and knowing how to exist in a state of not knowing.

This is incredibly hard because at almost every step of the journey, there are tempting actions to take that will enable you to escape the weight of that uncertainty.

Let’s talk about six of these “traps.”

#1 The dopamine bomb of internet fame

I think it’s still early for creating on the web. If you are able to consistently create content, explore topics you are genuinely interested in and develop some way to improve as you go, you will inevitably get some version of 15 minutes of internet fame. This could come from a famous person promoting your stuff, getting published in a mainstream publication, economic success or or some piece of content going semi-viral for a few days.

To the self-employed creator that dances in daily uncertainty and self-doubt, this can unleash a satisfying dopamine bomb of approval. This can be so blinding and exciting that you might try to chase that same feeling over and over again, even if its not the work you actually want to go deeper on.

I got a dose of this when I posted a Twitter thread exploring the ‘40% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency bill’ myth. If you read the report and the data, you’d be doing some serious mental gymnastics to land on such a takeaway. However, I was looking at it from the perspective of a former consultant who is skeptical of how data is represented and didn’t realize I was walking into a political talking point. This exploration earned me the applause of right wing trolls and a twitter follow from Ann Coulter.

 

Topics of interest in this article include:

  • The metrics of success
  • The identity trap
  • Squad culture
  • Worker reclassification

 

Read the full article, Avoiding Hustle Traps, Squads, From Politics to Seminary & More, and access links on the Boundless website.

 

How to Avoid the Bias Trap that Hurts Your Business

September 23, 2020

 

Barry Horwitz explains how confirmation bias hurts business and provides key tips on how to identify and avoid falling into the confirmation bias trap.

I’m often reminded of a line from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, in which a character is asked how he went bankrupt. His answer: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

When dealing with change (bankruptcy-related or otherwise), there are often warning signs along the way — gradual shifts that are easy to dismiss as temporary or not yet consequential, until one day, abruptly, they arrive.

The point is that sudden threats to organizations are rarely truly sudden. The signs were there, but they were missed.

We’ve all heard of the examples: The streetcar company that didn’t appreciate the advent of cars; Kodak sticking with film until it was much too late (despite the fact that it was a Kodak engineer who invented the digital camera); Blockbuster turning down the opportunity to buy a struggling Netflix for a mere $50 million in 2000.

And yet, it keeps happening. Partly because our view of the world is a function of what we believe to be important. Blockbuster, for example, assumed that “movie night” was its main offer – the ability to pop into a store and instantly have a movie whenever you felt like it. Waiting two days for the mail to arrive seemed like an inferior alternative. As it turned out, Netflix, not Blockbuster, was the one to anticipate streaming as the next, best iteration.

Whatever the specifics, the human tendency to embrace evidence that supports our pre-conceived notions and dismiss that which does not (“confirmation bias”), can lead us to ignore the weak signals of change until it’s far too late.

So, how do we avoid getting caught in this trap? There are a few ways…

 

Key points identified in this post include:

  • Checking your assumptions
  • Listening to your constituents
  • Keeping an eye on trends and results

 

Read the full article, Is Confirmation Bias Hurting Your Business?, on the Horwitz and Company website.

 

Work at Home Tips to Stay Motivated and Productive

 

If you struggle to stay motivated when working from home, this post is for you. Jeremy Greenberg shares an article that explores the cons of working at home, and what you can do to improve your performance all by yourself. 

Tens of millions of us — two thirds of all American full-time workers — are now working from home. This often means we’ve had little direct supervision or oversight in months, away from our colleagues’ (and our boss’s) watchful eye.

That may feel nice… but data shows that we perform better when we know we’re being observed. For example, in a study of 40,000 Virgin Atlantic flights conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, one group of captains was told that their fuel performance was being monitored, and the other group was not. The captains who knew they were being observed had better fuel efficiency throughout takeoff, flight, and landing. The principle that direct observation improves work performance is commonly known as the “Hawthorne effect.”

I’ve thought a lot about this lately, because I developed a podcast called Follow the Leader. I recorded a CEO during a pivotal moment in his business, and he later told me that the direct observation helped him focus. “I was more reflective and poised than I would have been having done this on my own,” said the CEO, Taymur Ahmad, of the company Actnano. Interesting! So how can we all gain that benefit, even if we don’t have a boss (or podcaster) watching?

 

Key points covered in this article include:

  • Add self-observation to your routine
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Go public

 

Read the full article, You Work Better When You’re Being Watched. Here’s How To Monitor Yourself, on Entrepreneur.com

 

An Explanation of the Enneagram with Example

September 6, 2020

 

Susan Drumm provides an article that explains how knowing your Enneagram can help you grow as an individual and as a leader.

‘Okay, I know I’m a 3 and that’s been really helpful,’ my friend says over a plate of roasted vegetables. She stabs a sweet potato with her fork and points it at me. “But then what? What do I do with that information? How does knowing my Enneagram type help ? How do I use that to be better at work and life?”

This particular conversation might have happened in the corner booth of an Italian restaurant, but it’s one I’ve had a million times—in boardrooms, with HR, with the person sitting next to me on the plane.

Sure, knowing your Enneagram type is great—it helps with managing conflict, improves communication, makes teams more effective, etc. But does knowing your Enneagram help you grow as an individual and as a leader?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY! That is the beauty of the model.

 

Points in this article include:

  • 2 ways to use your enneagram type for self-development
  • Example of how the enneagram works

 

Read the full article, The Enneagram Applied: Charting Your Path Of Growth, on the Meritage Leadership website.

 

Off-site Leadership – Three Dimensions of Event Design

September 3, 2020

 

In the third post in a series on off-site leadership, Aneta Key addresses the substance dimension of event design.

I strongly believe that any event design has 3 important dimensions to consider: 

Substance — This is the most important dimension of the 3. It is the “hardcore” look at the event and is what executives truly care about: What outcomes are we creating? What content are we discussing? What work are we advancing?

Structure — The second most important dimension addresses the logical and systematic approach that would allow the group to achieve its objectives. How are we breaking down and sequencing activities? How are we socially engineering alignment? How are we allocating time? How are we making decisions? 

Style — If substance and structure determine what and when it needs to be done, style determines how it should be done. In general, this should be the third dimension to consider, as “form follows function” in off-site design as well. That said, the 3 dimensions are interrelated and the ‘feeling’ you want to create may impact the other 2 dimensions. 

In fact, these 3 dimensions apply to speeches you give, presentations you develop, and even blog posts you publish.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Systems thinking applied to off-site design
  • What are the desired outputs?
  • What off-site modules do we need?
  • What inputs do we need?
  • Highlighting Design Choices

 

Read the full article, Leadership Off-Site 101: Part III — Substance design, on the Aedea Partners’ website.

 

Steps to Master the Art of Mind Control

 

Robyn M. Bolton explains why it’s important to cultivate emotional intelligence and move out of a ‘bad neighborhood.’

‘If you spend a lot of time in your own head, you’re spending time in a bad neighborhood.’

I was deep in a bit of worry and self-doubt when my friend uttered that sentence. Immediately, my mind conjured an image of falling down building, boarded up doors and windows, overgrown yards, and empty streets (basically downtown Cleveland in the 1980s).

‘Man, I do not want to be here’ I said, probably a bit too loudly.

Everyone I know spends a lot of time in their bad neighborhoods. It’s a consequence of the world we live in — more demands, responsibilities, and expectations running into greater uncertainty, fewer options, and weaker safety nets.

There are lots of ways to spruce up our neighborhoods, cultivating a Growth Mindset is one. In his book, Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours, author and executive coach Shirzad Chamine, lays out a powerful framework and action plan to build your Positive Intelligence by increasing your PQ (Positive Intelligence Quotient).’

 

Points of note include:

  • Why Should I Care about Positive Intelligence?
  • What is Positive Intelligence and PQ?
  • How you can increase your PQ

 

Read the full article, Is Your Brain Friend or Foe? Make It Your Friend with Positive Intelligence, on Medium.

 

A One-page List on Efficiency

 

The power of writing a list should never be forgotten. Luiz Zorzella has compiled a six-point list of tools and approaches that improve efficiency. 

If you ever thought:

‘Hmmm… wouldn’t it be nice if I had a one-pager list of the tools that people use to improve process efficiency?’

Then today is your lucky day!

I have listed below my compilation of the main tools and approaches I found which other executives and consultants use to directly or indirectly process efficiency.

And, even though this list is not exhaustive, I have never found anything more useful than it to make sure you are not overlooking anything important.

By the way: if you see anything missing, please send me a note and I will be happy to include it in the next edition of this list.

 

The six areas of efficiency on this list include:

  1. Relocation
  2. Technology
  3. Processes
  4. Managing demand
  5. Organization alignment
  6. Value creation

 

Read the full article, 6 ITEMS FOR YOUR EFFICIENCY LAUNDRY LIST, on the Amquant website. 

 

Shifting from a Project to Product Mindset – Why and How

 

Tirrell Payton explains why it is beneficial to shift from a project to a product mindset and provides seven tips that can help accelerate the process. 

‘Digital’ continues to grow in importance as a first class business discipline, just as important as marketing, finance, or strategy. Therefore, product management has become more important as the primary lever to bring digital products and services to life. Given that, more organizations have begun to shift their thinking from a ‘project’ mindset to a ‘product’ mindset.

While the difference may seem semantic in nature, the implications can be substantial. A project mindset precludes a beginning, middle, and end of a project with a defined scope. A product mindset precludes orientation around the customer, and continuously evolving the offering to stay aligned with customer wants, needs, and opportunities to delight. The organizations that can best align themselves with customers are the organizations that win in the digital economy. 

According to Gartner, ‘Digital product management is a blend of art and science, an emerging discipline that expands the scope of the product manager’s role. Organizations that embrace and invest in this discipline are better-equipped to capitalize on market shifts and changes in business dynamics, including disruptions.’

 

Tips in this article include:

  • Think in problems, not solutions
  • Think in experiments, not analysis
  • Deliver value, not features

 

Read the full article, Seven Tips to Accelerate Product Mindset Shifts, on LinkedIn.

 

Do You Have the Heart of a Survivor?

 

Surbhee Grover provides insight and inspiration in this article on the fortitude of spirit and mental strength.

The setting of the movie is the tiny town of Nome, Alaska, which is paralyzed by a deadly, fast-spreading disease. Despite a quarantine that was executed early on, the epidemic is expected to wipe out a majority of its inhabitants within days… unless they get speedy access to the appropriate medication (antitoxins) that needed to be transported more than 600 miles, amidst a winter blizzard, which made flights a non-option. Enter Togo, a Siberian husky who led a team of sled dogs and covered hundreds of miles at record-breaking speed in a deadly storm to (obviously) deliver the serum, and save the day.

The premise of this (real life) story from 1925 itself gives one an instant connection to the times we live in, even if it is almost a century removed from the present day. However, watching this Disney movie a few days ago, as I munched microwave-prepared popcorn, it wasn’t the epidemic that inspired me to pick this story as a reference—it was Togo, and what he could teach us, about triumphing in such turbulent times (WARNING: spoilers ahead).

 

Areas of interest in this article:

  • The importance of home
  • Operating processes
  • Steering your business

 

Read the full article, The Heart of a Survivor, on the Thrive Global website.

 

Tools for Strategy and Innovation

 

Kaihan Krippendorff shares several online strategy and innovation tools and resources that can be downloaded from his website. 

The tools include:

 

  • Strategy Bot: So far, Kaihan’s strategic coaching has generated over $2.5b in new revenue for his clients. Use this strategy bot to experience a virtual coaching session with him. 
  • A Manual for Outthinking the Competition: A white paper that walks you through a step-by-step process for surmounting the seven critical hurdles that prevent companies from responding rapidly and creatively to new strategic challenges. 
  • Jack Welch – Passion Workbook – A collection of 14 exercises you and your team can use to connect with the passion and purpose of what you do. 
  • Building Creative Strategies with Patterns: An article originally published in Harvard Business Review. 
  • Seven Surprise Openings:  An article originally published in Harvard Business Review. 
  • 30 Minute Strategy Workbook: Five steps to rapidly – in 30 minutes or less – design a strategic narrative for achieving your goals in work or life. 
  • Reverse Engineering Your Destiny – an even shorter version of my “30 Minute Strategy” workbook designed by Izzy Greenberg of Tekiyah Creative. 
  • Beliefs Workbook: Belief is Contagious. It wins supporters. It’s self-fulfilling. Here’s how to get there when nagging, negative thoughts are holding you back. 
  • Personal Strategy Tracking Tool: a simple matrix and daily practice to help keep you on the path to realizing your one-year strategy. 
  • Personal Strategy Refresh Tool – A 10 minute exercise to assess whether you are on track and identify what parts of your strategy you want to adjust to re energize, refresh, and reclaim strategic clarity. 

 

Access the tools, articles, and whitepapers from Kaihan’s website.

 

How to Improve Your Leadership Skills

 

Leadership is not a one-size-fits all position. Every leader adopts a different style based on their strengths, passions, and talents. Bernie Heine provides a process that can help you understand your strengths and leverage the overlap of passion and talent.

The Zone of Leadership explained

Get INTO Your Leadership Zone. What are YOU really good at? What are you passionate about? We are talking here about knowing yourself, knowing what’s really important to you, what you do very well, and what you love to spend your precious time at.

Here are 3 excellent tools to help understand your personal zone of leadership:

The Gallup Strengths Finder is a tried-and-trusted survey that gets you to list out the 5 top items from a number of comprehensive assessment areas. It is important to understand the support material that accompanies these assessment areas. For example, Bernie’s 5 strengths came out as ‘individualization’ (works well one on one), ‘learner,’ ‘achiever,’ ‘communication,’ and ‘maximizer’.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • VIA strengths survey
  • The Venn diagram
  • The five-step process to create your zone

 

Read the full article, Get Into YOUR Leadership Zone, and follow the process on the Professional Business Coach website. 

 

Building Your Online Persona and Why it Matters

 

Ben Dattner and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explain why the opinions of others shape our personal ‘brand’ and how to shape our digital personas for the best possible results in this article published in Harvard Business Review.

Who am I, really?’

Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists – not to mention poets and artists — have been trying to answer this question for centuries. The good news for business leaders is that they don’t need to turn into armchair psychotherapists, or get an advanced degree in metaphysics, to figure it out. Nor do average employees need to dig deep into their unconscious, or unleash their inner Freud.

In the business world, there is a far simpler way of working out who we are, at least when it comes to our professional personas: just pay attention to how others see us.

Social science research says that who we are at work is predominantly defined by what other people think of us: how they measure the success of our behaviors and actions, how they perceive our characters and motivations, and how they compare us to others. Whether we get informal advice from our peers, or partake in formal assessment-related exercises, there is no better way to pinpoint who we are at work than to crowdsource evaluations of our reputations and personal ‘brands.’

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Understanding the algorithm
  • Social media posts
  • Manipulating the algorithm

 

Read the full article and access interesting links in, How to Curate Your Digital Persona, on the Harvard Business Review website.

 

Quick and Effective Steps to Move Your Career Forward

 

Jared Simmons shares three quick tips that can improve relationships and move your career forward.

When you’re trying to build strong working relationships, sharing what you are hoping to achieve and get out of the work can be extremely helpful. What you get out of work is different from the project or meeting objectives. It’s not your departmental or functional mandate. It’s the professional development nugget that comes along with the entire working experience.

Perhaps you’d like to show that you’re ready to lead a global project. Or that you can work well with colleagues outside of your department. Perhaps you’re interested in learning about another part of the business.

Talking about your professional development goals builds strong working relationships in three ways:

 

Tips included in this article:

  • How to establish trust
  • How to make communication more efficient
  • How to uncovers new ways to work together

 

Read the full article, Stronger Working Relationships and a Great Career, on the Outlast website. 

 

Take a Step Back and See the Benefits in a Healthy Separation

 

Do you find yourself stressed about your consulting firm? David A. Fields provides the advice you need to adopt a healthy approach to business to ensure long-term productivity and prosperity. 

These days, maintaining physical distance preserves your health and protects those around you.

News Flash: Mental and emotional distance between you and your business bolsters your health, happiness, and the success of your consulting firm.

All entrepreneurs tangle themselves in their businesses. As a consulting firm leader, this issue is magnified. The separation between you and your practice can narrow to nothing because your consulting business is an extension of who you are.

You promote and offer your own thinking, IP, approaches, brainpower, insights and skills. Your firm and you are conjoined, even if you employ a staff or team to tackle your projects.

When a prospect rebuffs your consulting firm’s proposal, it can feel like your contact is spurning you and passing judgment on you, personally. And that hurts.

Wait a second, though. Consulting is a personal business, and that’s one of the wonderful attributes of our profession. So, is linking yourself hip-to-hip with your consulting firm really so bad?

Yes.

 

Benefits identified in this article include:

  • Maintaining energy, enthusiasm, and excitement
  • Gaining perspective
  • Consistent leadership

 

Read the full article, Do You Practice These 7 Tips For Proper, Consulting Firm Distancing?, on David’s consulting website.

 

How Art Improves Crucial Business Skills

 

Robyn Bolton explains why Visual Thinking (VTS) sessions improve creative problem solving and critical thinking skills and provide major benefits to executives.

“It was quite a sight! A dozen senior executives from a big, conservative financial services firm, all sitting on the floor in front of a painting, talking about what it could mean and why they think that.”

On a typical dreary November day, and Suzi and I were sitting in the café inside Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. She had just left her job as Head of Design Thinking at Fidelity Investments and I was taking a sabbatical before deciding what would be next for my career. Introduced by a mutual friend, we decided to swap stories over lunch and a walk through one of the museum’s special exhibitions.:”

 

Included in this article:

  • The benefits of VTS
  • Visual thinking strategies
  • How to do VTS

 

Read the full article, How Looking at Art Can Make You a Better Thinker, Communicator, and Leader, on Medium. 

 

How to Identify and Overcome Your Biases

 

As we become increasingly aware of the prevalence of the conscious or unconscious racial bias, Tobais Baer provides a timely article that may help address and overcome sneaky biases that affect decisions, opinions, and actions. 

The tragic death of George Floyd has triggered a global push to fight racial discrimination. There are many ways how each of us can contribute to this fight; one important way is to fight our own subconscious biases that can heavily influence our decisions – be it major ones like hiring or evaluating staff or making verdicts as a judge or jury member, or be it minor ones like deciding what we do or say when dealing with a sales clerk or customer.

The typical reader of my blog is intelligent, sophisticated, open-minded, and most likely already very supportive of equality and fighting discrimination. The snag: As Sheryl Sandberg powerfully confessed in a private talk I had the privilege of attending, even she, author of “Lean In” and an ardent fighter of gender discrimination, had caught herself espousing gender bias in evaluating her own female staff members.

 

Points covered in this article:

  • Licensing and outgroup bias
  • Monitoring body reactions
  • Anchoring and signaling

 

Read the full article, How can you fight your own racial bias?, on LinkedIn.

 

Just Don’t Say This!

 

If you have ever wondered why your messaging is misconstrued or find that you lapse into cliches at meetings, help is at hand. Bernie Heine identifies what not to say, why not, and what to say instead. 

Two Must-Do Guidelines and Five Clichés to Avoid.

Strategic Review or any meeting

Your strategic review is a rare opportunity to take an objective overview perspective on your business. It is a time for questioning assumptions and a space in which to encourage creativity and involvement. It is not a place for rigid thinking or hackneyed business phrases. In the ideal business world, all meetings should accomplish one or more of four things. They should 1) Generate new ideas to add value. 2) Share information. 3) Build a common purpose and buy-in. 4) Plan what to do to solve current problems and roadblocks.

At your strategic timeout, you should focus on things 1 to 3 with these two goals in mind…

  1. Doing better before doing cheaper. 

“Miracle worker” businesses consistently search for ideas to compete on factors other than price. See our newsletter 3 Rules for Exceptional Business Performance or the video below. 

Typical factors, other than price, that take your business to exceptional profit are durability, functionality, brand, style, etc. Your customers don’t see it on the invoice, but they really appreciate getting it.

  1. Revenue before costs.

 Cutting costs and or shedding assets are too often the default paths taken by “average Joe” businesses. At your strategic review, be sure to put revenue first. In the long run, “miracle worker” businesses can charge premium prices while giving greater apparent value to custom.

 

Phrases identified in this article include:

  • Don’t bring me problems. I want solutions!
  • I’ll get back to you on that.
  • In my opinion…
  • Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • We need to think outside the box

 

Read the full post, Five Things NOT to Say at Your Strategic Review (or at any meeting), on the The Professional Business Coaches website.

 

Books, Videos, and Advice

 

Dan Markovitz shares a new video series on the root cause of CEO overwhelm and provides a downloadable PDF on why the best CEOs don’t feel overwhelmed. 

As many of you know, I conducted a study of CEO overwhelm this winter. It wasn’t entirely surprising that CEOs (and other leaders) who embraced lean habits and principles in their work felt less overwhelmed by the demands on their time and attention. 

In the study, I made a few brief suggestions about how to deal with the root cause of overwhelm. But the limits of a PowerPoint format made it difficult to go into much detail. In response to requests for more information, I made a series of short (2-3 minute) videos in my state of the art video studio (i.e., my living room). 

I’ll be posting one video per day over the next week on my YouTube channel. I’ll also be providing links to each video on Twitter and LinkedIn as they’re released. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Dan has recently published his latest book, The Conclusion Trap, which addresses the bane of problem solvers everywhere: jumping to solutions. 

 

Access the video series and download the PDF on the Markovitz Consulting website. And the book is now available for sale on Amazon.

 

How Do You Deliver Positive and Beneficial Results?

 

David A. Fields posts a positive reminder that everyone can promote purposeful change, including consultants.

 

Today’s an excellent day to briefly remind you of the good your consulting firm does, and the importance of understanding the “Why” behind your consulting firm’s engagements.

In all likelihood, your consulting firm doesn’t directly address widespread injustice, relieve oppression, or combat systemic prejudice.

Yet, your everyday actions leading a consulting firm are still a vital, positive contribution to the world.

A Force for Good

Amidst once-in-a-generation societal storms, your consulting firm’s work may sometimes feel inconsequential.

It’s not. You have every right to be proud of your consulting firm’s work, promote your offerings and continue to pursue consulting projects.

 

Read the full article, How Your Consulting Firm Can Be A Force For Good, on David’s website.

 

Looking for Answers?

 

Geoff Wilson provides a reality check and a sage reminder to plant your feet firmly on the ground when looking to the future. 

 

Times of crisis require a change of perspective and a call to action.

So, here we are, weeks into a bizarre world of isolation, uncertainty, and pain.  If one thing is likely, it’s that after weeks of responsiveness, you may now start to see real signs of resignation and capitulation.  But, you may also see signs of opportunity and–dare I say it–optimism.  My sense is that both mindsets are probably “right” and “ok.”  This is no self-help blog.  I fully believe that there is plenty to fear in the environment beyond fear itself.

But.

I also think it’s important to realize that in times of crisis or trial or despair it’s our imperative to reflect and chart a course.  That course may be brand new and different, or it may be a retreat to the tried and true.  In either case…it’s a course.

One of the more influential books in my life is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and influential thinking on how people find meaning in life regardless of experience.  His experience in the Auschwitz death camp sparked a globally influential view of how individuals find meaning in challenging and even hopeless circumstances.

 

Points addressed in this article include:

  • Reflecting and charting a course
  • Why me vs. what’s next

 

Read the full article, Finding meaning during crisis requires an answer, not a question, on the Wilson Growth Partners’ website.

 

Short. Sweet. Simple

 

Aneta Key shares a new video in her series on video conferencing. This week: brevity.

During the recent series of workshops about online meetings, I realized that as we reimagine how we lead meetings online, some fundamentals are unchanged.  So, I give you the second video of what may become a series on the topic with simple ideas that apply for any type of meeting. 

Enjoy and share with colleagues who may benefit from it.

 

Included in this video:

  • Rambling
  • Roaming
  • Respect

 

 

Watch the video, Simple Ideas for Better Meetings, on the Aneta Key website. 

 

Executive Tips to Improve Online Meetings

 

As many of us continue to hold a business together through online meetings, Susan Drumm provides expert advice on how to maximize the effectiveness of the virtual workplace, including tips on planning and running online meetings.

Effective virtual meetings? Ha! If they exist, I’ve certainly never attended one.” If this was your thought process when you read the title of this blog post: I get it.

With the COVID-19 crisis and its implications for remote working, it’s more important than ever for leaders to run effective virtual meetings. Teams need leaders who can facilitate impactful meetings that create community and accountability across time zones.

A virtual meeting is obviously different from an in-person one and there are several specific things you’ll need to pay attention to. Otherwise, you are likely to see a fair bit of multi-tasking, surfing the web, phone-in only, or team members turning off their mics to have outside conversations, leaving the team feeling even more disconnected.

I’m not just talking about team members — leaders do it, too.  According to a Harvard Business Review study, managers who multitask during meetings are 2.2 times more likely to have direct reports who also multitask in meetings.

My own team is virtual and I’ve been facilitating leadership development programs virtually for years. I know what works and what doesn’t. Here are my best virtual meeting tips for executives.

 

Tips include:

  • Creating connection
  • How to handle tangents and derailers
  • Using the DIS framework

 

Read the full article, “Incredibly Effective Virtual meetings: 10 Tips to Plan and Run Them,” on the Meritage Leadership website.

 

Growth during Times of Isolation

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter provides a few words of encouragement and valuable links that will inspire and motivate.

Now is a good time to sharpen the saw.

Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”According to recent data from Zuora, only 11% of subscription businesses using their billing platform have seen a decline in members vs 2019.

We all need a little inspiration right now. Whether our business is going well or not.

I’ve been talking with subscription executives that are worried and pulling back for sure. But many subscription businesses are growing, and practitioners working in those companies, the product managers, marketers, customer success teams and sales organizations, are busier than ever.

Organizations are dealing with new demands, and a new environment, which requires pivoting and fresh ideas. Those of us who are seeing a slowdown in business and in “to do” lists, are thinking about how things will be different in the foreseeable future.

 

Free includes:

  • A Financial Planning Marketing playbook
  • Leading Learning
  • Read to Lead
  • Glambition

 

Access links and read the full article, Sharpening the Saw for Subscription Practitioners & Entrepreneurs–FREE STUFF, on LinkedIn.

 

Tips for Video Conferencing

 

Aneta Key lightens the mood for the day with these tongue-in-cheek video conference tips. 

 

Many of us are so accustomed to videoconferencing, we take it for granted. But with the COVID-19 pandemic shift to remote work, a whole lot of professionals worldwide are just now being introduced to this genre of workplace interactions.  

This blog post will offer something for veterans and newbies alike. In a true iterative fashion, I will add to it over time.

 

 

Tips include:

  • Productive direction
  • How to make it engaging

 

Watch the video, Simple Ideas for Better Meetings, on YouTube, and tune into the series of videos, On Lockdown in San Francisco, on the Aedea Partners’ website.

 

The Dr. Seuss Formula for Consultants

 

Jason George explains with delightful simplicity how the formula used by Dr. Seuss to tell a story is a good example to follow for presentations. The distillation of the core idea to ensure comprehensive understanding that opens the door to deeper exploration.

Author Theodor Geisel was dealing with some tough constraints. The audience for his next book required an instantly captivating story with a clear narrative arc, but there was a catch: they could only process a limited set of words, ideally fewer than 300, most of which would have to be monosyllabic. This was understandable given his target was students in the first grade, who would be around six years old.

Geisel had written children’s books previously, but this was to be his first in a new publishing imprint aimed at the youngest readers. After wrestling with these limitations for almost a year, Geisel worked out a deceptively sophisticated tale that differed markedly from those of the simple reading primers used to increase literacy in 1950s America. It featured a whimsical cat whose unexpected encounter with two children generated amusingly outlandish antics, all told with unusual irreverence.

 

Read the full article, Simplicity rules – Short and sweet,  on JasonGeorge.net.

 

The Recurring Trap of the Utopian Vision

 

Paul Millerd invites your mind on an adventure into utopian thinking and a timely reminder on the circular nature of life.

Millenarianism is defined as “the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming fundamental transformation of society, after which “all things will be changed”.

I ran across this concept in a fascinating book by John Gray called “Black Mass” where he explored how humans have consistently been drawn toward millenarianist movements. He goes through the history and characteristics of these movements and also applies it to the then current movement to go to war against Iraq during the GW Bush presidency. He showed how their campaign and the associated propaganda embodied many of the traits of these kind of movements.

If you read the book, you can probably skim the parts about the early 2000s, but the broader perspective on these movements and how they continue to occur throughout history was eye opening. Once you become aware of these tendencies you see them everywhere.

 

He explains the five traits of milleniarism movements:

  • Collective, in that it is enjoyed by the community of the faithful
  • Terrestrial, in that it is realized on earth rather than in heaven or in an after-life
  • Imminent, in that it is bound to come soon and suddenly
  • Total, in that it will not just improve life on earth but transform and perfect it
  • Miraculous, in that its coming is achieved or assisted by divine agency

 

Read the full article, What is your preferred pandemic utopia, on the Boundless website.

 

The Problem with Post-It Note Processes

 

Dan Markovitz explains why using post-it notes may not be the best way to organize your workflow.

One of my clients, a physician in an academic medical center, has been struggling with her personal kanban. She avoided all the common pitfalls—she kept finished tasks in her Done column, limited her WIP, and used Super Sticky Post-It notes to ensure that she didn’t lose any work to evening janitorial services. But she wasn’t making a whole lot of progress, which left her frustrated with the kanban—it wasn’t helping her manage her work.

A closer look at the Post-Its revealed the problem: giant tasks (projects, really) that had no chance of getting finished in anything less than a few months—in her case, “Work on R-01 Grant,” “Write New Oncology Paper,” “New Patient Intake Protocol,” among others. If you were to scale a note to the size of the task written on it, these should have been about the size of a Times Square billboard, not a 3×3 Post-It.

 

Read the full article, Why Ping-Pong Post-It Notes are Bad for You, on the Markovitz Consulting website.

 

Shifting Plans when Plans Shift

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares her experience of launching a book during the COVID-19 virus and explains what you can do to rethink plans that have been disrupted. 

This article is based on some of the ideas that came up last week in my LinkedIn Live Session. I’m a beta tester for this new feature, which allows for a more direct, realtime and raw connection with the community. I’ll be LIVE every Friday at Noon Pacific. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you’ll be automatically notified. I’d love it if you join me!

Did you have a launch planned for this spring that went awry. A conference that was canceled, a project put on hold, or a new product that was scaled down? Or maybe, like me, you had written a book that was scheduled for spring of 2020 release?

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Rethinking tactics
  • Taking care of stockholders
  • Reassessing the goal
  • Finding support

 

Read the full article, Launching in a Crisis, on LinkedIn.

 

Advice for Working Remotely

 

As more people get used to working remotely, Paul Millerd shares valuable advice and fourteen tips that should not be followed.

I’ve either put these tips into practice in my own life or can confirm that other people have. People rarely talk about these practices in public because there is a certain amount of shame and embarrassment about telling people you work less.

 

Advice on working remotely Paul shares include:

  • The morning routine
  • Asynchronous communication
  • The bi-modal workday
  • Expectations of motivation

 

Read the full article, Don’t Follow this Advice on Working Remotely, on the Boundless website.

 

When Goal Setting Loses Its Appeal

 

Paul Millerd explores what it means to achieve your goals and why the simple goals stop working and you either have to keep raising the stakes or change your orientation.

In 2015, Kevin Durant left his team of nine years to join the best basketball team in the world. In the NBA, great players like Durant are judged based on whether or not they win championships. This undoubtedly influenced his decision to join the team with the best chance to achieve that goal.

Except when he ended up winning a title, he didn’t find what he expected. His friend Steve Nash reflected on Durant’s confusing emotions that summer:

‘He didn’t have a great summer,’ Nash told me last year. ‘He was searching for what it all meant. He thought a championship would change everything and found out it doesn’t. He was not fulfilled.’

No alt text provided for this image

The realization that achieving a goal will often not fundamentally improve your overall well-being can be a challenging moment for people.

It is also a moment where people can choose to orient in a new direction or double down on the same path. This seems like an easy decision to make, but over and over again, people continue back down the same path.

 

Points explored in this article are:

  • Reaching a WTF?! Moment
  • A Brief Detour To Grapple With Happiness
  • What About Work?
  • Have A Little Faith

 

Read the full article, The 2nd Chapter Of Success, on the Boundless website. 

 

Book Time for Relief

 

Robyn M. Bolton shares sage thoughts and inspirational photographs that provide a moment of relief during stressful times.

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of the non-stop hysteria that seems to be occurring these days. Between COVID-19, politics, the economy, and the state of Tom Brady’s contract (sorry, I live in Boston), it seems that the world is having a panic attack.

Namaste, people. Namaste.

In an effort to not contribute to the panic, instead of writing something topical and relating it to innovation, I’m simply going to share images of something that makes me extremely happy and peaceful and relate them to innovation.

Books.

Read the full article, 10 Moments of Innovation Zen, and view the photographs on Medium.

How to Make Every Meeting Productive

February 27, 2020

 

Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation.

We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda item one. You simply cannot afford to have this group disperse to their thousand other priorities without covering these items. So what do you do? Here are a few techniques that can help you get your meeting moving forward again.

 

The strategies explained include:

  • Restating the point
  • Recapping the options
  • Identifying the key factors

 

Read the full article, Three Meeting Strategies to Overcome Stagnation, on the Outlast website.

 

Read the full article in the https://outlastllc.com/three-meeting-strategies-to-overcome-stagnation/

How to Avoid Falling into the Email Communication Trap

February 25, 2020

 

Jesse Jacoby taps into a common pain point in today’s business operations — the vague or misunderstood email — and provides an easy solution to overcome the problem. 

Connecting with coworkers, clients and customers has never been easier. Gone are the days when we had to drive across town to chat with someone in a different office. When we run into a challenge or have a question regarding our work, we have a plethora of communication tools at our fingertips: email, text, instant messaging, and the list goes on.

Yet, how many times have you received an email response or stared at a text feeling more frustrated and confused than when you started. In today’s fast paced world of electronic exchange, messages can easily be misinterpreted, and emotions can escalate quickly as a result. A curt interaction, even when softened with a cheerful emoticon, can really strike a nerve. Now, not only do you still have that lingering challenge to face or question to answer, you also have to manage the mounting frustration and annoyance attached to it.

 

Read the full article, Assume Positive Intent, in the Emergent Journal.

 

Work Culture Identification

 

Martin Pergler begins a conversation on corporate culture to identify the pros and cons of working for the corporate world, small business or the public sector.

 

Putting considerations such as the work itself, employer values, career trajectory, benefits, job security, etc. (all covered by others) aside, there is the elephant in the room. Inhabitants of the corporate world, small business (including startups), and the public sector are all fond of rolling their eyes — with a bit of envy mixed in — at the other sectors’ working culture. 

During my time at a major consulting firm, my employer and my clients were mainly in the corporate sector. These days, as an independent consultant, I work with institutions of all 3 kinds. I think there are characteristics, by which I mean frequent but not universal, strengths and weaknesses of each. But I think there’s no clear winner in terms of overall effectiveness (or personal warm-and-fuzziness), however one could define or measure it.

 

Read the full article, Who’s “better”​ to work for? Corporate world, small business, or public sector?”, on LinkedIn.

 

Compelling Evidence for Evolution

 

Glenton Jelbert tackles the theories behind evolution to dispel the beliefs of the creationists. 

 

Despite what creationists and Intelligent Design people tell you, the theory of evolution makes a remarkable number of predictions that have turned out to be correct. This is true for discoveries that postdate the discovery of evolution, such as plate tectonics, specific fossil finds and DNA. I want to discuss one in particular that is completely amazing, discussed by Richard Dawkins in The Greatest Show on Earth.

You sometimes hear it said that a creator could and would reuse elements of his creation if he or she wanted to do so. You might even expect it. So it should not come as a surprise to us that DNA is so similar across different species. This is just God parsimoniously re-using some of his best bits. Evolution says that the DNA is similar across different species because of their common descent. Don’t both theories explain the data just as well? It turns out not.

 

Read the full article, Evolution’s Most Remarkable Prediction, on Glenton’s website.

Don’t Plan for Innovation – Discover It

January 29, 2020

 

Kaihan Krippendorff takes a left turn off a straight road to discover the benefits of not planning as a fundamental benefit to innovation.

 

Twenty years ago, long before we had children, my wife and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Tuscany. We were living just a two-hour flight away in London at the time, so leaving on a Friday and returning on a Monday would still mean two days and three nights of rolling hills, wineries, and amazing cuisine.

We booked our flights and rented a car, but our search for a hotel revealed nothing really inspiring within our budget. We narrowed our choices down to a property a little larger than a bed-and-breakfast on the outskirts of Lucca. But we still felt it was a “plan B,” our fallback plan.

We had dreamed of a hotel that would be truly memorable, not necessarily luxurious, but that would give us an authentic and memorable experience of the Italian countryside. So we set out, without confirmed accommodations, in the hopes of stumbling upon our ‘plan A.’

 

 

In this article, Kaihan explains:

 

  • The limitations of data to predict outcomes
  • The benefits of flipping your mindset
  • Engineering luck
  • Discovering Plan A

 

Read the full article, For 2020, Consider  the Wisdom of not Planning, on Kaihan’s blog.

How to Build Muscle that Makes Resolutions Happen

 

With New Year in the rear view mirror, are you driving forward with your resolutions? 

Robyn Bolton provides five ways to improve your resolve.

 

According to research by Strava, the social network for athletes, most people will have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by Sunday, January 19.

While that’s probably good news for all the dedicated workout enthusiasts who will be glad to get their gyms back, given that the most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, it’s a bit discouraging for the rest of us.

But just because you’re about to stop hitting the gym to drop weight and build muscle (or whatever your resolutions are), it doesn’t mean that you can’t focus on improving other muscles. May I suggest, your innovation muscles?

Innovation mindsets, skills and behaviors can be learned, but if you don’t continuously use them, like muscles, they can weaken and atrophy. That’s why it’s important to create opportunities to flex them.

 

 

In this post, Robyn shares what you can do to build and sustain innovation:

 

  • Quarterly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily

 

Read the full article, 5 Resolutions to Make 2020 the Year that Innovation Actually Happens, on Medium.

What Lean Means for the Work Week

 

Dan Markovitz explains why time management and a shorter work week is good news for lean.

 

In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at least during the summer months) and Collins SBA, a financial advisory firm in Australia. 

Not to be outdone, NPR reported that Microsoft Japan moved to a four-day workweek this summer while increasing productivity by 40%. Of course, software firm 37 Signals has been operating four-day work weeks over the summer since 2008. And New Zealand-based Perpetual Guardian believes in the four-day week so strongly that the founder created a non-profit to promote it. Indeed, a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management indicates that fifteen percent of companies offer a 32-hour workweek. 

 

Read the full article, It’s Not Time Management, It’s Lean, on his website.

How to Build Better Relationships

The subscription business is based on long-term relationships with customers. Robbie Kellman Baxter shares ideas on how to build strong relationships that work for both your personal life and in business.

 

Over the holidays, I started thinking about what my work on The Forever Transaction and The Membership Economy has taught me about building long-term personal relationships, which ultimately are way more important than any subscription.

As dig in on our 2020 to do lists, and focus on our goals and hopes for the year ahead, I wanted to share some ideas on how we can take these principles and apply them in our personal relationships. It’s a little hokey, and a little jargon-y business-school-ish but I decided to try using my 7-step framework as a guide.

 

Points covered in this article include:

 

1: Different tiers of subscriptions

2: Identifying key metrics

3: Onboarding process

4: Using technology

 

Read the full article, Seven Steps to Better Personal Relationships, on LinkedIn.

How to Become an Effective Executive Leader

Thinking about kicking off the New Year with the goal of transitioning from senior to executive leadership? Stephen Redwood provides advice on how to achieve the goal. 

 

When coaching clients I am often asked the question: what do I need to know to make the transition from being an already experienced leader to being effective as an executive leader

It’s an interesting, and sometimes surprising, question given that they will already have years of experience as leaders. I believe the reason they are asking is because of the realization that the most senior executive roles are often differentiated from other leadership roles by the:

  1. Weight of ultimate accountability
  2. Complexity and breadth of oversight responsibilities
  3. Challenge of motivating others to accept accountability for problem solving
  4. Difficulty of learning to ask questions rather than give answers
  5. Degree to which messaging has to be effective at a distance

This is not to say these factors don’t play a role to some degree at all levels of leadership, but at the most senior levels each of these generally carries greater consequences for the organization. So, let’s dig in and look at what I’ve often found helps leaders I work with successfully make this transition.

 

Read the full article How Do I Make the Transition from Senior to Executive Leadership? on LinkedIn.

Can a Business Fulfill Religious Needs?

January 13, 2020

Jason George explores the relationship between the human need for ritual, community, and purpose, and the organizations or entrepreneurs who see that need as their next opportunity.

 

Come all ye faithful

Some of the devoted choose to meet in the early morning, braving the cold and arriving at their nondescript buildings in the predawn darkness. The name on the sign outside might reference “soul” or “cross,” but there is nothing outwardly grand about these places. The real draw is the service about to start inside.

The congregants’ earlier interactions have acclimated them to social norms like dress codes, so they choose their attire with the fastidiousness of early Puritans. This leads to a generic sameness among the group—deviation would make one stick out, and this experience is not about the individual.

 

Key points include:

-The pursuit of salvation through testing the body

-How brands like SoulCycle and CrossFit fulfill the need

-Religion-as-business

 

Read the full article, The Business of Religion, and the Religion of Business, on Jason’s website.

Technology is Changing How We Learn — and Think

December 18, 2019

Jason George takes a look at the mind maps of the London Cabbie to illustrate the difference between storing knowledge in the brain and accessing knowledge stored elsewhere.

Having been built up over hundreds of years into its current dense and meandering tangle, London’s road network shows few signs of the regularity that characterizes its counterparts in younger countries. Prior to the advent of cheap map technology, anyone wanting to explore unfamiliar neighborhoods would need a detailed atlas to find addresses or landmarks. Finding the desired spot was akin to playing Where’s Waldo, given the thicket of alleys and courts and lanes laid out with no obvious organizing principle.

One group was notably unfazed by this challenge. London’s black cab drivers developed a well-deserved reputation for their ability to navigate to any points in the metro area with ease, with no reference to guide them. This was not accidental, as to earn their license each had to pass a legendarily grueling test that came to be known simply as the “Knowledge,” a requirement first instituted in the era of horse-drawn carriages.

 

Topics covered include:

-Mental maps

-Panopticon

-The knowledge economy

 

Read the full article, How learning changes your thinking — Mind what you knowon Jason’s website.

How to Catch a Customer with these Communication Hooks

Robyn Bolton shares five techniques that can help you understand your toughest customers in this post recently published on Forbes.

Let’s be honest, we love talking to people who just ‘get’ us. I believe this is because we often must hold a number of conversations with people who don’t ‘get’ us.

In business, the people who don’t understand us are the ones we desperately need: Our customers. Many might not understand why your products or services cost so much, why your offerings are so complicated or why they should choose your service over a competitor’s.

 

Points covered in this article include:

-How to open the conversation

-How to learn from customers

-How to ask the right questions

-How to share your opinions

-Knowing your limits

 

Read the full article, Five Techniques To Help You Understand Even Your Toughest Customers, on Forbes.

A Weird Life and Shorter Workweek

December 11, 2019

Paul Millerd shares greetings from Taipei and his thoughts about shorter workweeks, including recent news from Microsoft Japan where they implemented a four-day week and saw productivity jump 40 percent.

Three years ago I was an office worker in New York City, working in a prestigious job making more money than I ever imagined (some of my peers in New York had much different standards!) yet a storm was brewing inside and one that had been totally invisible to many who knew me my entire life

As I got better at my job and better in navigating the corporate world, I struggled to find a deeper reason for why I was there. Early in my career I was learning a lot, but over time it seemed that no one really cared about learning at all. Working on your career narrative, pleasing executives and making money seemed to be the only thing people worked on. Not the kind of learning I was excited by.

This led to a creeping nihilism which I only clearly see now. I’m really just going to make PowerPoint slides and work 48 weeks of every year?

 

Points covered in the article include:

-My weird life and living the dream

-Shorter work week: A real trend in 2020

-The happiness ruse

-A poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

 

Read the full article, My Weird Life & Shorter Workweek Zeitgeist, on Paul’s website.

 

Howard Stern’s Roadmap to Success

This post from Jeremy Greenberg’s company blog identifies five lessons that CEOs can learn from Howard Stern.

Howard Stern has been one of the most controversial entertainers since he hosted his first radio show over 40 years ago. Love him or hate him, he has enjoyed a successful career thus far – building his brand into an empire worth over $600 million as well as transforming the landscape of terrestrial and satellite radio. Stern’s success can teach us a lot about business. The following are five lessons that CEOs can learn from Howard Stern.

The five lessons covered in the post are:

1.Be authentic

2.Build a strong, diverse team

3. Balance work and life

4. Pivot naturally

5. Always be curious

Here is the lesson on building a strong, diverse team:

Howard Stern is not a one-man show. “I’m at my best when I have a bunch of people around me, when I can call on them and collaborate,” he explains. Stern’s core nucleus of co-host Robin Quivers, sound effects wizard Fred Norris, and producer Gary Dell’Abate has been working with him since 1984. Quivers plays the straight woman, Norris rarely speaks, and Dell’Abate runs things behind the scenes. They all differ from Stern in every way, but work together to make a great team. Three different people with different strengths and weaknesses, doing different jobs.
As you build your team, focus on hiring people who are not like you, but make sure they are people that you like. Diverse work and personal experience, philosophies, and talents are essential to building your company.
In fact, studies have found that a work environment that is more diverse causes a decrease in turnover and an increase in productivity. Just remember, you will have to work with these folks, so make sure you can get along with them so that they remain on the team for the long haul.

 

 

Read the full article, Beyond Baba Booey: 5 Business Lessons CEOs Can Learn From Howard Stern, on the website of Avenue Group.

 

The Constraints of Seeing Wrongly

December 9, 2019

Jason George uses the examples of the stent and Ernst Haeckel’s biogenetic law to tackle the issue of “why bad practice persists even after it’s been proven incorrect” and how we can overcome common misbeliefs. 

 

Forget the lessons

For high schoolers studying biology the stakes for bad ideas may not be as high as they would be for a patient who unnecessarily undergoes a heart procedure, risking a complication that outweighs any potential benefit. But in both cases bad ideas continue to color one’s view of the world, and the consequences of seeing things wrongly leads down paths that constrain you.

Like skeuomorphs that stubbornly persist as reminders of a feature of the tangible environment that has long since ceased to be relevant, conventional wisdom guides and constrains decision making in a range of disciplines. Sometimes it channels it in directions that are flat wrong. Try three things to help break through this fog…

1. Blow up your mental model

2. Get as close to the source as you can

3. Incentivize a broader focus

 

Read the full article, When what you’ve learned holds you backon Jason’s website.

Key Presentation Tips Based on the Science of Persuasion

December 9, 2019

Paul Millerd shares a comprehensive guide on how to communicate complex information in simple ways, and how to create memorable presentations with 20 secrets from strategy consulting and persuasion science.

 

How do you build a memorable and persuasive presentation?

I spent over ten years working in the consulting industry at places like McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group and now as a freelance consultant. Communication is central to everything the consulting industry does and in some ways explains why the industry has been so successful for so long. Yet, across the business world and increasingly in the entrepreneurial community, few understand how to present information in a compelling way. Most default to the behaviors of their colleagues or the templates that their company provides. While these methods may result in a beautiful slide, the content tends to fall short.

I am motivated to help people tell remarkable stories, communicate complex information in simple ways, and to teach people how to be memorable. Over the past several years, both through my work and through my research, I have identified many “secrets” of what it takes to create compelling and impactful presentations.

 

The article covers the following points in detail:

-Make your message memorable

-Structure your message

-Designing slides

 

Read the full article, 20 Secrets From Strategy Consulting & Persuasion Science To Create Memorable Presentations, on the StrategyU website.

Why You Should Stop Settling for Safe

December 9, 2019

Life rarely follows the trajectory of a straight line; the ups, downs, obstacles and curve balls tend to throw us off the pre-planned course. Fallon Ukpe shows you how to shift your focus, handle transitions successfully, and create a life of meaningful achievements. Her book, Squiggly Line, was released on Tuesday, November 12th and is now available on Amazon and online from Barnes & Noble.

 

We have been programmed to believe that the line of life is a perfect, straight trajectory up and to the right, but that’s simply not how life works. And now, we have a problem, because perfect is impossible and life isn’t a straight line—it’s a squiggly line.

Yet we continue to strive for something that is unattainable, unfulfilling, and unnecessary. The pursuit of perfection is leaving us overworked and underwhelmed with the trajectory of our lives. If that’s where you find yourself, there is good news: you have a choice.

 

The book, “Life Is a Squiggly Line: Start Embracing Imperfection and Stop Settling for Safe,” is available for sale on Amazon.