Monday, November 26, 2012

Innovative Management Articles of the Week

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 summaries of 20 GREAT articles that inspire better management. Enjoy!

First Impressions: The Science of Meeting People*

A strong handshake and assertive greeting may not be the best way to make a good first impression. New research suggests that people respond more positively to someone who comes across as trustworthy rather than confident.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School is studying how we evaluate people we meet. Cuddy is known for her research on power posing, which she presented last year at TedGlobal and the annual PopTech conference in Maine. This research suggests that if you strike a strong pose — where you take up as much space as possible — your levels of testosterone rise, while cortisol levels drop. The result: If you do it for two minutes before going into a job interview or other public performance, you will have more confidence and perform better.

Preparing for a new era of knowledge work

Global competition, emerging skill shortages, and changing demographics will soon force companies to use their most highly paid talent more effectively.
The past three decades saw companies in developed economies make huge strides improving the productivity and organizational performance of an array of jobs. Aided by advances in technology and digital communications, companies automated, reengineered, and outsourced numerous tasks that had once required full-time, on-site employees. The trend, which began on production floors, moved next to offices, where a range of transaction-based jobs that could be standardized or scripted were automated, shifted to workers in low-wage countries, or both.

A World Without Limits

New technologies are blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual world, but it remains uncertain as to whether it can improve peoples' lives. For example, Barcelona University scientists are working to link a human brain to a robot using skin electrodes and video goggles so users feel as though they are actually in the android body. A remote avatar can be used to travel without leaving home, but several senses need to work together to make the experience more realistic. Touching virtual objects, feeling their texture and weight, will make the digital world more natural and easier to live in. The goal of another European project is to use virtual models to change the real world, making it more accessible. Scientists are using cameras and sensors to study how physically impaired people move, and using the data to simulate how they cope with everyday tasks. The models could enable industrial designers to better understand how safe and convenient new products will be, and better adapt them for people with physical limitations.

Disruptive Innovation and Punk Rock

This video is a feature from BBC News on Punk Rock Business and disruptive innovation. This event, set up in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and the Open University, delivered to 100 senior managers across a range of sectors dealt with issues such as:
What is disruptive innovation?

How can disruptive innovation be used by your business?
In the world of music, how did the advent of Punk Rock in 1976 act as a disruptive innovation that was them mainstreamed later on through bands like Green Day, Linkin Park and through fashion brands?
What parallel lessons may be drawn from the music and business worlds about innovation?

Implant lets the blind read Braille with their eyes

Blind people could soon be able to read street signs using an implant that translates the alphabet into Braille and beams an image of the Braille directly to visual neurons at the back of the eye.
The implant is a modified version of a class of devices called retinal prostheses, which are used to restore partial sight to people with retinitis pigmentosa. A degenerative eye disease that kills the photoreceptor cells in the retina, RP tends to affect people in early adulthood and can lead to blindness, but leaves intact the neurons that carry visual signals to the brain.
Prostheses such as the Argus II, manufactured by Second Sight in Sylmar, California, convert video from a camera mounted on a pair of glasses into electronic signals "displayed" on a 10-by-6 grid of electrodes implanted over a person's retina. This gives users a pixellated view of the world, allowing them to distinguish light and dark regions and even detect features such as doorways.

Scientists See Promise in Deep-Learning Programs

Using an artificial intelligence technique inspired by theories about how the brain recognizes patterns, technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs.
The advances have led to widespread enthusiasm among researchers who design software to perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking.
But what is new in recent months is the growing speed and accuracy of deep-learning programs, often called artificial neural networks or just “neural nets” for their resemblance to the neural connections in the brain.
“There has been a number of stunning new results with deep-learning methods,” said Yann LeCun, a computer scientist at New York University who did pioneering research in handwriting recognition at Bell Laboratories. “The kind of jump we are seeing in the accuracy of these systems is very rare indeed.”

Your Brain on Video Games

How do fast-paced video games affect the brain? Step into the lab with cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier to hear surprising news about how video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask. (Filmed at TEDxCHUV.)

Daphne Bavelier studies how the brain adapts to changes in experience, either by nature or by training.

Darius Kazemi's Blindfolded Bot Shops for You

When people projected that in the future we'd have robots doing our shopping for us, this is probably not what they had in mind. Massachusetts-based programmer Darius Kazemi has created, as a lark, "a bot that randomly buys me crap on Amazon and mails it to me."

Kazemi coded up the Amazon Random Shopper and gave it its own Amazon account, to which he feeds gift cards (as a basic way to install spending limits). The bot then accesses the Wordnik API (that's Application Programming Interface, not Academic Performance Index; it means source code that software uses to talk with other software) to pull a random word out of the ether. Next it trawls Amazon and buys the first object that matches both the word and is under budget.

What Makes Us Intelligent

We like to think our intelligence is self-made; it happens inside our heads, the product of our inner thoughts alone. But the rise of Google, Wikipedia and other online tools has made many people question the impact of these technologies on our brains. Is typing in the search term, “Who has played James Bond in the movies?” the same as knowing that the answer is Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig (… plus David Niven in Casino Royale)? Can we say we know the answer to this question when what we actually know is how to rapidly access the information?

Research shows that people don't tend to rely on their memories for things they can easily access. Things like the world in front of our eyes, for example, can be changed quite radically without people noticing. Experiments have shown that buildings can somehow disappear from pictures we're looking at, or the people we're talking to can be switched with someone else, and often we won't notice – a phenomenon called “change blindness”. This isn't as an example of human stupidity – far from it, in fact – this is an example of mental efficiency. The mind relies on the world as a better record than memory, and usually that's a good assumption.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The ultimate disrupter*

Jeff Bezos likes to read. That's a dog-bites-man revelation if ever there was one, considering that Bezos is the cerebral founder and chief executive of a $100 billion empire built on books. More revealing is that the Amazon CEO's fondness for the written word drives one of his primary, and peculiar, tools for managing his company: Meetings of his "S-team" of senior executives begin with participants quietly absorbing the written word. Specifically, before any discussion begins, members of the team -- including Bezos -- consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes. (Yes, the e-ink purveyor prefers paper. Ironic, no?) They scribble notes in the margins while the authors of the memos wait for Bezos and his minions to finish reading.

Amazon (AMZN) executives call these documents "narratives," and even Bezos realizes that for the uninitiated -- and fans of the PowerPoint presentation -- the process is a bit odd. "For new employees, it's a strange initial experience," he tells Fortune. "They're just not accustomed to sitting silently in a room and doing study hall with a bunch of executives." Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group's undivided attention. Writing a memo is an even more important skill to master. "Full sentences are harder to write," he says. "They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking."

The Creative Instinct: How Big Ideas Happen

“When we realize that our mind is a creative platform—a vast network of networks—we experience a revolutionary and profound transformation. New possibilities emerge. The process of realization and transformation is the essence of life. It means that everything in this world has an inherent purpose—and that is to find its optimal form. This is why we are constantly trying to improve ourselves, why we venture out into the unknown, why we have children, and why we want to be the best in the world at what we do.
The more creative we become, the more resourceful we will be. We can transform ourselves and everyone around us. These connections, and this archetype of innovation, uncovers the building blocks of life itself, revealing our origins. Innovation is intrinsic to essence, and essence is intrinsic to the act of creation.”

Gamer plays 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' for 135 hours, sets world record

Okan Kaya of Sydney, Australia, spent the last seven days setting a new record for the longest marathon first-person shooter gaming session. He spent 135 hours and 50 minutes playing the new "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" game.

His employer — computer cable company 4Cabling — has been documenting his progress on its website and its Facebook pageOn Tuesday, his co-workers announced that Kaya, a sales manager, had not only set the record but had finished with a "Black Ops 2" career ranking of 29th among some 5 million players.

Tracking Facial Features to Make Driving Safer and More Comfortable

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) researchers are developing software that will use facial information to make cars safer and more comfortable. The program uses facial-recognition technology in real time to relay the exact position of the driver, as well eye-tracking devices to indicate the direction in which they are looking. "Our goal is to build the technological base to detect and situate a driver’s face at any moment in time," says EPFL's Jean-Philippe Thiran. The tool will enable researchers to build and test various driver-assistance applications such as eye tracking, fatigue detection, and lip reading, Thiran adds. "With this study we are trying to make the interface between the car and the driver more intuitive; reading intentions from facial features is a very natural interactive mode," says EPFL's Olivier Pajot. The researchers already have developed a prototyping platform and they plan to test the system in realistic conditions in the near future.

Make Results Matter More than Face Time

Every smart employer knows that results matter more than face time. Judging employees chiefly on the number of hours they log in at work is not only demoralizing but does little for company performance. In fact, sixty-nine percent of employers report that supervisors at their organizations are encouraged to assess employees' performance by what they accomplish and not just by the hours they work.

This statistic — from the 2012 National Study of Employers conducted by Families and Work Institute (FWI) — indicates there is movement in the right direction. After all, it's obvious why employers encourage supervisors to focus on results. In this competitive, 24-7 economy stretches across the world's time zones, adhering to the notion that presence equals productivity is simply out of date.

But there are two problems: One, employees don't fully buy it. And two, many managers don't really know how to do it. About two in five workers think that if they focus on achieving results instead of punching the clock, their careers will suffer, according to FWI's Workplace Flexibility in the United States. Moreover, managers don't have the tools they need to accurately measure results.

The Audacity of Accountability

…people who rise above the crowd and make incredible differences around them through their work.
  • They never think that they are powerless to create change, even if it’s small and close to them, and even if there’s resistance.
  • They have the audacity to believe that their contribution matters no matter how granular it is.
  • They know that risk is part of revolution. If you want it done differently, you have to put your neck on the line to help make it happen.

There’s no question that change is hard. There’s no question that it takes work and time and sometimes three steps backwards for every step forward. There’s no question that it can feel really frustrating to be in a role where you feel like you’re trapped.

5 Principles of Peak Performance

Cinderella, much like many stories of great accomplishment, is a fairy tale. We love hearing about the moment of triumph; the shot at the buzzer, the photo finish and the medals at the podium. The truth is boring - endless hours, repeated frustration and constant exhaustion.
  1. Talent is Overrated
  2. Deliberate Practice
  3. Focus on Fundamentals
  4. Train to Beat the Best
  5. It Takes a Lot of Love

Mario Brothers and Level-up Leadership: Social Entrepreneurship, Gamification, and Religion

… playing Mario Brothers while reading Carol S. Pearson’s book, The Transforming Leader: New Approaches to Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. I’m learning about the difference between “Transformational Leadership” and “Transactional Leadership.”
The concept is simple.
Transactional leaders rely on self-interest: constituents are motivated by a desire to receive rewards or avoidpunishments. Transformational leaders rely on constituents’ investment in a larger collective goal. They transform the goals of individuals to align them with the best interest of the entire group, community, or organization.
The difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is implicit here. Transactional leaders rely exclusively on extrinsic factors—transformational leaders utilize intrinsic ones. Transactional leadership coerces.

Transformational leadership inspires.

Just How Big is Big Data?

Big data refers to any collection of information that is so large, you can’t use normal means to process it. For example, I can list all of the kids in the local elementary school on a spreadsheet then use conventional sort methods to find out how many are girls, how many are born in December, how many have siblings in the same school. Easy.

Now, suppose I want to mine that same information, but with all the kids in every elementary school in the US. That would require a very, very large spreadsheet and better tools for sorting and quantifying.
In online marketing, we’re looking a big data sets connected to internet usage. We begin with a simple slice from Monetate’s new Infographic “The Retailer’s Guide to Big Data.”

Think Like a Futurist

Thinking like a futurist isn’t a magical process. If it were, we would be a lot better at it. Practically, it is about creativity. It’s learning to step out of our present thinking to make connections with what we don’t yet know. Any good book on “future thinking” should help you do just that. Think Like a Futurist by Cecily Sommers, is just such a book. What we can imagine or create or any manifestation of future thinking must link to something that already exists in our mind. The more points of connection we have, the more possibilities we have for discovery. This is the key idea.

Sommers explains, “If our capacity for prediction is limited by what we already know, then the solution is to know more about things.…With a richer store of memories, we are able to imagine a vast range of possibilities, understand their nuances better, and make more of the associative links that produce our best predictions about the future.” It’s not magic. It can’t be.

The advantage of having an anxiously attached person on your team

Psychologists talk about different attachment styles, such as secure, anxious and avoidant. The secure style is usually the one we're supposed to aspire to. They're the calm people who find it easy to get close to others, but not in a clingy way. By contrast, those with an anxious or avoidant attachment style are often seen in a pathological light - being either too needy or too aloof, respectively. They might sound like the kind of people you want to steer clear of, but now Tsachi Ein-Dor and Orgad Tal have published new research showing the upside to having an anxiously attached person on your team.