Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trust is the New Core of Leadership

Every week, we publish an exciting summary of the best articles, videos, events, and posts that relate to innovative management. This week, check out these 22 articles that inspire better management. Enjoy! 

Why Trust is the New Core of Leadership 

Not long ago, most discussions of leadership were about leaders – their personality traits, how to identify and groom those with ‘leadership potential,’ and what were the skills that leaders employed.

Leadership theorists nowadays stress authenticity, EQ and relationships. This makes intuitive sense. But it isn’t just a fad; there is a solid reason behind the shift. It is driven by changes in the world. Above all, it reflects the growing importance of trust.

We're All on Billie Jean's Team Now 

Because HBR is running a special Insight Center right now on the secrets of great teams, I listened especially to hear what Billie would say on that topic. What a happy surprise when she moved to that part of her talk by saying "I've just been reading this fascinating article about teams in the Harvard Business Review ..." (Billie Jean King is an HBR reader!) The article that had caught her eye was Sandy Pentland's "The New Science of Building Great Teams." She went on to read from it, annotating each quoted bit with her own experience.

"The 'natural leaders' in teams are charismatic connectors," she read aloud from her HBR, and then paused to emphasize the point. "I was thrilled to read that," she said. "And I know we all like to project, but that's me that he's writing about." She read on: "They are democratic with their time—communicating with everyone equally and making sure all team members get a chance to contribute." She looked up at the crowd. "I've been in plenty of situations where that doesn't happen at all."

Billie Jean did offered her own hard-won wisdom on teams. To her, great teamwork comes down to two factors: the leader has to be trusted; and the team members must be not only involved but committed.

King also shared what she'd learned from longtime DuPont CEO Ed Woolard (surprisingly described by her as "one of my few mentors"). His philosophy of managing people's performance was to "reward personal achievements that helped the team." He lived by legendary basketball coach John Wooden's advice that "it's better to have a person who makes the team stronger than to have a superstar."

Unlimited Vacation Doesn't Create Slackers--It Ensures Productivity 

Fast Company
By tossing the two-week standard in favor of an honor system with unlimited time off, some companies are seeing an exponential rise in productivity. Now, they just have to be mindful of staff burnout. Sharon Rosenblatt confesses she suffers from self-diagnosed workplace paranoia--and even her company's unrestricted vacation policy sometimes (negatively) affects her psyche.

A contractor who serves as communications and accessibility support at Accessibility Partners, Rosenblatt operates under the edict, "as long as you get your work done, it doesn't matter where you do it.” Sounds nice--but what it can mean is checking email multiple times per day on weekends and on vacation. “I once wrote part of a federal proposal response while I was stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge because my client extended our services into my vacation time.” Sound familiar?

Though Rosenblatt asserts her guilt trips are self-generated, a recent study of more than 5,600 workers conducted by CareerBuilder found that 12% of participants say they feel guilty that they’re not at work while they’re on vacation.

How Future Leaders of the World will Lead 

C-Level Strategies 
In the same way the world as we know it is coming to an end, so too is leadership. …what the planet is moving toward is not the “Armageddon” of the movies but rather an emergence into a higher level of human consciousness. Formulaic and hierarchical approaches to leadership are no longer going to work in this new era. They’re no longer going to motivate followers to pursue your vision or inspire employees to work 12-hour days. Nor will employees of the future feel compelled to follow leaders who lack ethical standards or have a low EQ. They will have too many other choices. Leadership of the future will come from within, be driven by purpose, and will find its foundation in a connection to the true inner self.

Can This 'Online Ivy' University Change the Face of Higher Education? 

The AtlanticMeet 
The Minerva Project, the chest-beating, Silicon Valley-spawned, Larry Summers-backed "E-lite" college that just might reshape the worldwide market for education. Traditionally, for-profit colleges have operated on the lowest rungs of America's educational ladder, catering to poor and lower-middle-class students looking for a basic, convenient degree or technical training. Aspiring Ivy Leaguers have remained far out of the industry's sites. That is, until now.

This week, the Minerva Project, a startup online university, announced that it had received $25 million in seed financing from Benchmark Capital, a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm known for its early investments in eBay, among other successful web companies. Minerva bills itself as "the first elite American university to be launched in a century," and promises to re-envision higher education for the information age. The chairman of its advisory board: Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary and Harvard president. Among others, he's joined on the board by Bob Kerry, the former United States senator and president of The New School.

The Titanic's Tragic Employees of the Month

Business Week
 …on Monday, April 9, the man who located the shipwreck back in 1985, Bob Ballard, will host a second National Geographic program, Save the Titanic, in which he investigates an over-looked subplot of the disaster: the Guarantee Group. “It was sort of like the Employee of the Month, or the Employee of the Ship award,” Ballard says. “The shipyard had all these different divisions. You know, the people that built the boilers, the electricians, you name it. It was a very mammoth effort. And it was divided into all these different divisions and [the Guarantee Group] was drawn from each of them.”

Toward the completion of each new vessel, Harland & Wolff, the Belfast boat-builders that made the Titanic, had the heads of various technical divisions select their best apprentice, then rewarded these apprentices with passage on their new ship’s maiden voyage. Given that thousands worked on these monstrous ships, it was a big deal—and frequently, a step up in lifestyle, as if a contractor specializing in window installation were to win a month’s stay in a new Richard Meier penthouse apartment. “It was a Harland & Wolff tradition,” Ballard adds. “And it was not only an honor, but a bit of a punch list. You what I mean? I can imagine these ships sailing and they’re going: You know, we’re not quite done with this part of it yet. … You want the people who know the ship best on-board for any trouble-shooting.”

How Great Leaders Inspire Action 

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers...

In 2009, Simon Sinek released the book "Start With Why" -- a synopsis of the theory he has begun using to teach others how to become effective leaders and inspire change.

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” (Simon Sinek)

Best Leadership Books of All Time 

12 great recommendations

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time 

Energy Project
Why is it that between 25 and 50 percent of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?

It's not just the number of hours we're working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.

What we've lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It's like an itch we can't resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse. 

  1. Maintain meeting discipline. 
  2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. 
  3. Encourage renewal. 

It's also up to individuals to set their own boundaries.

Consider these 3 behaviors for yourself:

  1. Do the most important thing first in the morning 
  2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. 
  3. Take real and regular vacations. ‎ 

Wisdom, Integrity, Discernment 

All Things Workplace 
How often do you hear the terms wisdom, discernment, and integrity used during the business day? And just what are organizations looking for when they are hiring or promoting? We hear words like intelligent, problem-solver, action-oriented, results-driven, and good decision-making ability. But what good are any of those if they aren't carried out with wisdom, discernment, and integrity? It's possible to be action-oriented and still take a lot of wrong actions. Does intelligence guarantee sound leadership?

The Dirty Little Secret Of Overnight Successes 

Fast Company 
As Chris Dixon pointed out in a recent blog post, Angry Birds, the incredibly popular game, was software maker Rovio’s 52nd attempt. They spent eight years and nearly went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit.

James Dyson failed in 5,126 prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Groupon was put on life support and nearly shut down at one point in its meteoric rise.

When looking at the most successful people and organizations, we often imagine geniuses with a smooth journey straight to the promised land. But when you really examine nearly every success story, they are filled with crushing defeats, near-death experiences, and countless setbacks.

We often celebrate companies and individuals once they've achieved undeniable success, but shun their disruptive thinking before reaching such a pinnacle.

In your life, you've probably had a setback or two. When you stumble, it's tempting the throw in the towel and accept defeat. There's always an attractive excuse waiting eagerly, hoping you'll take the easy way out. But the most successful people forge ahead. They realize that mistakes are simply data, providing new information to adjust your approach going forward.

When Being Distracted Is a Good Thing 

Dr. Shelley Carson 
Why do we get some of our best ideas in the shower? Harvard University researcher and psychologist Shelley H. Carson, author of “Your Creative Brain,’’ says distraction isn’t always a bad thing. If you are stuck on a problem, an interruption can force an “incubation period,’’ she says. “In other words, a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.’’ Mark Fenske, coauthor of “The Winner’s Brain’’ and an associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Guelph in Canada, puts it this way: “It’s paradoxical. You need to be able to focus to shut off distractions, but sometimes you can focus too hard. You get stuck on something that is not helpful.’’

When we focus on a problem, we may be biased toward certain brain signals and suppressing things that we see as unrelated, he says. In the shower, “shampooing hair and lathering up doesn’t take a lot of cognitive focus,’’ he says. “Other parts of the brain can start to contribute.’’

We engage in more free association and mind wandering, he says, “And that’s really critical for innovation.’’

Pipeline to Programming Jobs Has Leaks 

NY Times
The effort to propel women into programming jobs is losing women at a discouraging rate as the pipeline winds its way from high school through graduate studies. Even women with computer science degrees might not obtain programming jobs, and those familiar with the hiring process say recruiting is part of the problem. Some companies hold 24-hour hackathons, which reinforce the geeky, high-testosterone stereotype of the industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 19 percent of software developers are women, but the percentage is in the single digits at many prominent tech firms. The bias in the system affects women's willingness to go into these situations because they know what they are in for, says New York University psychologist Madeline Heilman. Still, there are signs of hope in the corporate world, such as IBM, an industry leader, winning the 2011 Top Company for Technical Women award. The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology started the competition two years ago, and American Express will receive the 2012 award. IBM's Sharon Nunes says women want to use their skills to make a difference, and also want to maintain a work-life balance. Women comprise about 20 percent of IBM's technical workforce.

Google Takes CAPTCHA Security to the Streets 

Google researchers are experimenting with using street-number images from Street View to strengthen the reCAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) authentication technology. The new technique would present users with one set of distorted text characters and one random digital picture of a street-address number taken from Street View. "We often extract data such as street names and traffic signs from Street View imagery to improve Google Maps with useful information like business addresses and locations," Google says.

"Based on the data and results of these reCAPTCHA tests, we'll determine if using imagery might also be an effective way to further refine our tools for fighting machine- and bot-related abuse online." The company says the experiment is not intended to turn users into data-entry workers by having them fill in Street View data, nor is Google planning to use it to confirm its existing map data. In addition, Google is not using the images of street names or traffic signs for the experiment, according to a company spokesperson.

DoE to Launch "Apps for Energy" Challenge

CCC Blog and Apps for Energy website
The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has launched the Apps for Energy competition, which challenges developers to use the Green Button data access program to take advantage of residential and commercial utility data. DoE says the Green Button initiative gives access to energy usage data in a streamlined and easy-to-understand format. DoE is offering $100,000 in cash prizes to the software developers and designers who submit the best apps, as judged by a panel of government officials, energy industry leaders, and information technology experts. "The competition is all about creating tools and products that help consumers get the most out of their Green Button data--from apps that track personal energy savings goals to software that helps businesses optimize building energy usage," DoE says. "In addition, the 27 million households that will have access to Green Button data by the end of the year represent an untapped market that can serve as a catalyst for an active, energy-focused developer community." DoE says the best app ideas will be featured on and used to inspire developers who are participating in the competition. The winners will be announced in late May.

The Secret Science of Memorable Quotes 

Technology Review
Cornell University researchers have found that there is an inherent quality to memorable movie lines that makes them easier to recall. The researchers took memorable lines from about 1,000 movies and compared them against other lines spoken by the same character. They then asked individuals who had not seen the films to guess which of the two lines was the memorable one. On average, the participants chose correctly about 75 percent of the time, confirming the idea that the memorable features are intrinsic in the lines themselves and not the result of some other factor.

The researchers then compared the memorable phrases with a standard corpus of common language phrases taken from 1967. The researchers found that they can measure the distinctiveness of the memorable phrase by seeing how likely various-sized segments of it are in the corpus. The researchers discovered that memorable phrases have a tendency to use pronouns, the indefinite article, and verbs in the past tense. "Future work may lead to applications in marketing, advertising, and education," says Cornell researcher Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil.

The Benefits of Data Talking to Data 

Some companies on the cutting edge of technology are combining data streaming with advanced data-analytics methods that let them tie information they already possess to what is happening now. This promises to transform a host of industries via the real-time application of customer information as it is being collected. For example, work by IBM researchers has facilitated item-level data communication with other item-level data, which could enhance shopping, especially in stores where impulse buys constitute the bulk of transactions. The store would electronically offer purchase suggestions to shoppers based on their current actions through their smartphone.

Meanwhile, the use of real-time data streaming is enabling online dating services to offer new ways for people to get together. For example, integrating global positioning system data from members' smartphones with members' recorded dating preferences could find matches for singles at a specific locale, or even within a certain radius of their current whereabouts. Another application of the data-mining and data-streaming combination enables airline maintenance crews to receive up-to-the-minute data on aircraft in flight, accelerating repairs and reducing delays and service disruptions. Pilots also receive constant updates on weather and air traffic conditions, enabling them to plot the fastest flight route.

What Ever Happened to the American Arcade? 

Ars Technica
In North America, gamers are now generally divided into two distinct generations: those that grew up in the midst of the vibrant video arcade culture of the '70s and '80s; and those born since.

Brad Crawford is a member of the first generation. "I remembered growing up with [arcades], and going [to Japan] and seeing what they had become was just mind-boggling," said Crawford, who became enamored with Japan's arcade culture while spending three years living there starting in 2005. The experience inspired Crawford to create 100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience, a recently funded indie documentary (currently in post-production) that tries to capture a thoroughly modernized Japanese arcade experience completely unknown to most in the West.

"Whether we just talk about nostalgia or a movement, I think it could come back," he said. "I think we could see the culture revitalized—maybe not to its former glory, but at some level. There's people out there trying, and I applaud them for it, but it's definitely an uphill battle."

Creating Spontaneity for Creativity 

Sounds a bit like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But, I do think there are ways to incorporate more spontaneity into your day or creative process and for some, this may generate more ideas for your art! Make a list of resources that will aid in your creative development. When you have a free moment or need spontaneity in your life, review those resources and do something you haven’t done before!

Artwork that Inspires 


Computer Science Transitions From Elective to Requirement 

US News & World Report 
Although many universities offer computer science as an option to satisfy science or math requirements, some schools are now making it a required course in order to graduate. For example, each of the nearly 2,000 freshmen entering the Georgia Institute of Technology each year must take a computer science course regardless of their major, says college of computing associate dean Charles Isbell. In addition, every student at Montclair State University must complete a computer science course in order to graduate. Most Montclair students take "Introduction to Computer Applications: Being Fluent with Information Technology," which is designed to teach students majoring in nontechnical fields about network security, artificial intelligence, databases, and e-commerce, says computer science department chairman Michael Oudshoorn. "It's not aimed at making them experts; it's aimed at making them aware," Oudshoorn says. "They do live in a digital age ... they have an obligation to know something about the technology." University of California, Irvine professor Geoffrey Bowker says more schools should make computer science a requirement. "All aspects of our personal lives and our work lives are affected by computers," he says. "We need to know about the tools that we're working with."

Wollstonecraft - Sciency, girl-positive steampunk kids' adventure novel on Kickstarter 

This is a pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems and catch a jewel thief. Ada and Mary encounter real historical characters, such as Percy Shelley, Charles Babbage, Michael Faraday, and Charles Dickens – people whom the girls actually knew. If Jane Austen wrote about zeppelins and brass goggles, this would be the book.

Why "Wollstonecraft"? Mary names the detective agency after her mother, the famous feminist writer. If this is the kind of book you'd like to see, please support this project.