Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why Organizations Fail

Fortune  ß Recommended

We have hired and promoted generations of managers with robust analytical skills and poor social skills, and we don't seem to think that matters.

… for a long time we believed that people were rational, logical agents, driven by self-interest, greed, and desire. While this is not untrue, it is only half the story. It turns out that people have another driver that is of equal, if not greater, importance: the drive to be social.

The studies tell the story: Giving to charity activates the brain's reward system more than winning money. Painkillers like Tylenol relieve social pain the same way they relieve physical pain. Being socially rejected can lower your I.Q. score by 20% and cut your GRE score nearly in half. Seeing a friend regularly has the same effect on our well being as making an extra $100,000. Volunteering to help others regularly produces the same increase in well being as making an extra $50,000. When an employee meets a person who benefits from their work, that employee can double their productivity. People will pay $30,000 to be recognized as a high-status employee. And, finally, being socially connected is literally as good for your health as quitting smoking.

Clearly, social activity matters more than we have realized. Yet our institutions and organizations, from political systems to hospitals, schools and corporations, have been built based on a different set of beliefs: that people are motivated by money, that physical -- not social -- health is most important, and that social needs are "nice to have."

Our organizational environments have systems and processes that nudge people to think rationally rather than socially. In the workplace, if you are in a mindset that discounts social cues, you are going to miss a lot of important information around you and a lot of opportunities for creative problem-solving. We end up thinking that a lot of problems have analytic solutions; you just have to crunch the right numbers. Yet many of the toughest business challenges require social solutions. What does the person, team, or whole organization need to feel good? People who feel good are generally more productive.

We have hired and promoted generations of managers with robust analytical skills and poor social skills, and we don't seem to think that matters.


Leadership Styles That No Longer Work

John Spence (video)

Why the Command and Control Leadership Style no longer works in Business today.


Leadership Lessons of 20 Years

Kevin Eikenberry

Human beings are learning beings

Understanding change changes everything

The paradox of personal accountability

Development is development

Everything is about choices – and they all matter


Tech Leaders Warn IT Talent Shortage Could Curb Hiring Plans


Although technology companies would like to increase hiring this year, they are concerned that a shortage of skilled workers will limit their ability to do so, according to a Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) survey of more than 1,700 technology executives. Over the next 12 months, 63 percent of respondents plan to hire new employees, but 69 percent cited a "shortage in the quantity and quality" of candidates with technology skills. The survey results support the technology industry's claims of an IT talent shortage as they push for immigration reform and improvements in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. TECNA executive director Bob Moore says his trade group supports comprehensive immigration reform, "in particular the high-skilled aspects that increase H-1B visas for STEM workers." However, Congressional immigration reform efforts appear stalled. Although the Senate passed a comprehensive bill, House speaker John Boehner recently said that he would not consider the legislation. Visa reform is supported by several trade groups and technology companies, but TECNA's survey found that many IT executives feel their interests aren't adequately represented by the actions of the federal government.


Tear It Down *


“How many of you are managers?” <hands raised> Then I ask, “How many of you are leaders?” Confused looks… some of the same folks raise their hands and some don’t. It’s a trick question that quickly and non-linearly asks, “Would you rather be managed or be led?”

There are three basic roles for leaders, and whether it’s just you and Frank in a garage or 1500 of you, it’s important that you understand this model so that you can tear it down. This is a descriptive, not prescriptive model that is intended to explain how the different types of leadership evolve and stratify over time. It describes the high-level responsibilities of these different leaders, and how these different roles might (or might not) communicate with each other.

There are three leaders. I’m going to describe these three archetypes in a hypothetical large company, but I believe aspects of them exist in all groups of people working together on a collective goal. These leaders are:

·        The Lead

·        The Lead of Leads

·        The Director


Women Outnumber Men in This Year's Tech Hires


Women represented a majority of workers filling new technology jobs created through September of this year, for the first time in at least 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Through September of this year, 39,000 jobs were created in computer systems design and related services, with women claiming 60 percent of these positions, up from 34 percent for all of 2012. Over the last 10 years, women filled an average of 30.8 percent of 534,000 new technology jobs. The number of women hired is roughly the same as in previous years, but the number of men has dropped, for reasons that remain unclear. However, as of September, women still represented only 31 percent of the nearly 1.7 million people working in the tech sector, a figure that has remained static over the past decade, according to the BLS. Experts are not sure if the latest BLS numbers indicates the start of a new trend. "Is this really positive change? It's too early to say," says the Anita Borg Institute's Elizabeth Ames. "But we are seeing more awareness of the issue and seeing leaders in the technology business realize it is an imperative to bring women into tech workforces."


The Four Lenses of Innovation

15inno and Rowan Gibson

The more, I learn about the Four Lenses of Innovation concept as developed by Rowan Gibson, the more impressed I get.

To be honest, I had not heard much about the concept and Gibson until recently even though this is not a new model for innovation. It has been battle-tested in the real world for many years by a great list of companies. The Gladiator GarageWorks by Whirlpool is an interesting example of the outcomes that the concept can bring you.

Here you get a short overview of the Four Lenses of Innovation:

1. Challenging Orthodoxies: Questioning deeply-held dogmas inside a company and inside an industry about what drives succes.

2. Harnessing Trends: Spotting patterns of change, which could substantially change the rules of the game.

3. Leveraging Resources: Thinking of a company as a portfolio of skills and assets rather as a provider of products and services for specific markets.

4. Understanding Needs: Learning to live inside the customer’s skin, empathizing with unarticulated feelings and identifying unmet needs.


What Ethical Leaders Believe: The Leading in Context Manifesto


“Aristotle said ‘We are what we repeatedly do.’

He was right. Our daily choices define us. They show just how far beyond ourselves we’re thinking, how broadly we imagine our constituents, and how we see ourselves in the world.

As we navigate the turbulence of today’s workplace, there is power in asking ourselves, ‘What is it that I repeatedly do?’ […]


We would like to think that we are making the most responsible choices that we can under the circumstances. But then, in a typical challenging, chaotic day, what really determines what we do?”


Creativity of the Artist: Observe

Innovation Excellence

Observe Everything

Admire Ugliness

Seek Out Incongruity

Assuming creativity and innovation are important to you, there is a lot you to learn here! Firstly, getting in the habit of viewing your surroundings and looking for the beautiful, the ugly and the incongruous, will provide your brain with more raw material for building unique ideas.

Learning to observe more completely your surroundings will teach you to observe more completely the processes and actions in your business. Indeed, learn to look for the beautiful, the ugly and the incongruous. Admire what is beautiful in your business activities and think about how you can apply that beauty elsewhere. And note, beauty need not be limited to flowers, lovely paintings in the reception area and a nifty view from the CEOs office. Processes that run efficiently and elegantly can be beautiful. Building quality products can be beautiful. Making your customers happy is certainly beautiful!

Look also for the ugly. Poor quality control on finished products, unhappy employees and dangerous working conditions are all ugly and need to be changed. But ugly can sometimes be good. The Volkswagen Beatle and Citroen 2CV are two examples of ugly cars that sold very well, in part because of their ugliness. Ryan Air, a prominent discount airline in Europe, seems almost to emphasise the ugliness of flying with them, presumably because this also emphasises their very low air fairs.

Sometimes emphasising the ugliness of one aspect of your business can highlight other qualities that appeal to customers. Incongruity in your processes and actions often indicates a need for innovation.


What an anonymous British sheep farmer can teach us about the power of Twitter


Now that Twitter is almost eight years old, has over 200 million users and is a multibillion-dollar company, it’s easy to forget what using the service was like in the early days — what made it seem so special, and how those features helped turn it into a global media entity. That’s why it was so fascinating to read a recent piece at The Atlantic by an anonymous British shepherd, who has become a full-on devotee of Twitter, even as he pursues a way of life that has gone unchanged for centuries.

The account known as @herdyshepherd1 is run by a sheep farmer in Britain’s Lake District, and is the antithesis of the celebrity accounts that have come to dominate Twitter in recent years — the Justin Biebers and Miley Cyruses — and that likely accounts for a large part of its charm. It consists of photos of sheep, the “fells” or mountains of the Lake District, and commentary about the simple life that this Twitter user enjoys along with his co-workers.


Learning Pairs Program, an Internal Development Tool

Great Leadership

Learning pairs are created to advance the learning of two employees.

When creating pairs you first need to identify what development goal you want to address for each employee as well as what the employee has to share and coach with another employee based on their experience, skills and knowledge.

For example, you may have an older sales employee who needs additional skills in social networking. This employee has great time management skills, which has helped him become successful.

Then you might have a younger, Millennial employee who is very adept in social networking yet has some challenges with time management. These two employees would make a great learning pair.

The great benefit to Learning Pairs is that the learning is inexpensive and both participants are learning during the process. So how do you start a Learning Pairs Program? Follow the steps below to implement a development program that can provide huge benefits to your workforce and organization.