Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cultural Disharmony Undermines Workplace Creativity


Managing cultural friction not only creates a more harmonious workplace, says professor Roy Y.J. Chua, but ensures that you reap the creative benefits of multiculturalism at its best.

In today's global work environment, it's a given that companies need culturally diverse teams to succeed. Both scientific studies and common sense tell us that having people with different viewpoints onboard increases the creativity that teams will employ in solving problems. Of course, that's assuming all members of the team are pulling in the same direction.

But what if they aren't? Can being exposed to intercultural conflicts and tensions have an impact even on observers who are not directly involved in these disharmonies?


When it Comes to Leadership Everything Communicates

George Ambler

Communication is critical for effective leadership. Without communication leaders are unable to share their vision, convince people to follow and to inspire the action that they want people to take. When it comes to leadership communication the motive and intention behind the message it as important as the message itself. Unless leaders are are to emotionally engage with their audience and are seen to be trusted people will be reluctant to follow or take action.

Leaders are constantly being observed and watched. All they say and all they do is constantly being analysed and interpreted. Everything a leader says and every action a leader takes is amplified, assessed and examined. So how do leaders ensure they send the right messages?  What can leaders do to improve the effectiveness of their communication?


How to make people like you: 6 science-based conversation hacks


So you want to know how to make people like you? It's easier than you think.

Here are six research-backed tips:

1. Encourage people to talk about themselves

2. To give feedback, ask questions

3. Ask for advice

4. The two-question technique

5. Repeat the last three words

6. Gossip — but positively


Because Who is Perfect?



In Conversation: Eric Ries on How to be Entrepreneurial Inside a Big Corporation

S+B YouTube

In the first video interview of this five-part series, Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, tells Paul Michelman, executive editor at strategy+business, that entrepreneurs exist everywhere—and discusses what that means for innovation at big companies. For more related insights, read " Why Eric Ries Likes Management" at


Welcome to the Era of Radical Innovation


As microprocessors reach the limit of their ability to decrease in size, Moore's Law is reaching the end of its tenure in computing and a new age of innovation might emerge as a result. The European Commission released a report saying the end of Moore's Law means there will no longer be "mere extrapolation" of existing technologies, but rather a need for "radical innovation in many computing technologies." Meanwhile, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently said that innovation beyond Moore's Law will require "new scientific, mathematical, engineering, and conceptual frameworks." For example, NSF says new materials will be necessary that can work in quantum states or "molecular-based approaches including biologically inspired systems." New technologies could take the shape of carbon digital circuits composed of nanotubes, which could offer a tenfold improvement over current technologies in terms of performance and energy usage. Quantum computing also could supplement or replace microprocessors. Experts at the recent SC13 supercomputing conference predicted a lack of stability and certainty in the future as technology stops advancing in a regular, predictable manner.


Make a Lasting Impression One Auto-Reply At a Time


Here are my takeaways from this experience:

  • We humans generally like to learn personal things about our fellow humans.
  • Intimacy (the professional kind) is created when we take risks and share things that others can relate to.
  • Little inklings about doing something different are worth listening to and acting on.
  • Experiments are a great way to try new things over time without making a life-long commitment.
  • Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

Are you heading out of the office any time soon? I dare you to try something new and more personal with your auto-reply. Have you been ignoring a little inkling about something—anything? I double-dog-dare you to do something about it.


Data Scientists: IT's New Rock Stars

Network World

Data scientists are emerging as some of the most sought-after professionals in today's technology job market. Technology and media firms are particularly interested in hiring data scientists, and the field is garnering increasing media attention. Industry observers advise students planning to enter the IT field to pursue data science. The Harvard Business Review in October 2012 labeled data scientist as "the sexiest job of the 21st century." In addition, data science was spotlighted in a recent American Journalism Review profile of Buzzfeed data science director Ky Harlin, who is responsible for the company's viral content insights and developed his own algorithms to determine when and why specific pieces of Web content go viral. Harlin learned his skills at a medical-imaging company, and was recruited by Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti. He notes that both the medical-imaging and content-publishing fields look for patterns in vast data sets. "This is where you add real business value," Peretti says, "where an IT person is not just running machines anymore, but fundamentally taking good information and helping the business make true business decisions so that they can adjust the business in real time based on this information."



Bret L. Simmons

Accountability is the binding strength of interdependent relationships at work. We simply must hold people accountable. But for accountability to be legitimate, to have integrity, accountability has to start with ourselves. We have to begin by holding ourselves accountable and being open to being held accountable by all our constituents.

The most effective leaders are clear in their expectations of others, and they consistently hold others accountable for those expectations. One of their expectations of others is to also be held accountable. “If you are not holding me accountable for my role as your leader, you are not assuming full responsibility for your legitimate role in our relationship.” For purposeful leaders and followers, that posture of accountability is enabling rather than threatening.


DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB. FIRE YOUR BOSS. (An Invitation to Unravel What the World Has Taught You About Your Work, Your Career and Your Future)

Change This

“After years of working for the same company, the challenges are largely gone, the original zeal you felt for your job has plateaued to a tolerable “good enough.” You say to yourself, I bet if I can get a job over there at company X, I’d be excited again.

Before you push the eject button, think of the hassle of brushing up your resume, looking for a new job, going through the interviews, evaluating the benefits packages, and comparing the compensation.

Let’s face it: The biggest gain in changing jobs is that you will restart the clock on a new set of challenges, a new pairing of relationships, and a new boss.

What if I told you that this is not the answer you are really searching for?

What if you fired your boss instead?”


Six Ways to Innovate in Rigid Organizations

Leadership Freak

The future rides on a horse called innovation. Organizations that can’t innovate stagnate. Some organizations have innovation in their blood. But, many are mired in systems and bureaucracy.

It’s easier to begin innovating within rigid cultures than it is to change them. Think skunkworks.

Systematize innovation in organizations driven by systems.

Develop an innovation system with rigid rules. For example:

1. Withhold NO.

2. Provide time.

3. Systematize conversations.

4. Develop a series of innovation questions.

5. Create a system for filtering and prioritizing ideas.

6. Kill or take a next step.


The Future Mundane Revisited

Core77 ß Recommended

A few months ago, our columnist Fosta sent me the text of his bi-monthly column, in which he proposed a design philosophy that he dubbed "The Future Mundane," which was among the more though-provoking pieces in recent memory. When it came time to reflect on the Year in Review, I had originally intended to frame my piece on 2013 in technology in terms of practical yet powerful hypothesis, only to end up with an obliquely apologetic rejoinder to Christopher Mims' 2013-Was-a-Lost-Year-for-Tech polemic. In a sense, it's two ways of saying the same thing: Even though reality often doesn't live up to our expectations, there's no reason not to expect it to be better than it is.1

Indeed, the Future Mundane is as much a symptom of our impatience or outright frustration with the current generation of technology as it is a measured optimism about the next one. We might reduce the sentiment to the 'megapixel effect': we've been indoctrinated to believe that more is always better when it comes to digital cameras, despite the the fact that the spec feels vestigial in the smartphone era. We may think of ourselves as discerning consumers, skeptical of marketing hype, but at some level, we are conditioned to judge new things on a superficial basis, whether it's a GIF of an interface breakthrough or the lackluster specs of the latest new smartphone.2

Lost year, maybe. But the Future Mundane is also a manifestation of a parallel theory of material culture, Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison's notion of 'Supernormal,' which speaks to the process of becoming mundane.

When we create something that is new with the expectation for it to be different yet it somehow feels normal, that is what defines what Supernormal is about. Supernormal is something that is designed with an essence of normality that we share in our memory. In other words, Supernomal is something new but it has familiarity from the beginning. Becoming normal is something that happens and it is not something we can make happen.

I invoked the ever-relevant hypothesis in an [e-mail] interview with the former and IDEO's Jane Fulton Suri, whose 'Thoughtless Acts' nicely complement so-called 'curious rituals'—device-engendered behaviors, postures, tics, etc.—as subconscious adaptations to the objects and world around us. This is the metadata of reality, which are not subject to prognostication and can only be contemplated in hindsight.3

All of which speaks to the transcendent breadth of cultural context in stories about the future. Parallax motion is a useful metaphor: Near or far, the future will be populated by an accretive totality of timeless heirlooms and novelty items alike; damaged goods, obsolescence (planned or otherwise), and buggy betas; slow-moving institutions alongside visionary products and services; as well as a persistent horizon of expectations. Taking an anthropological longview, science fiction cannot possibly take all of these things—which collectively constitute a world—into account. But these seams in the fabric of a future reality aren't plotholes so much as 'storyholes' (see Fosta's distinction), and a cohesive narrative and compelling plot will supersede any gaps or oversights.


Hacking Human Potential—Takeaways from the Quick MIX


We recently ran an open brainstorming session we call a “Quick MIX” focused on generating bold ideas around the themes of the recently-launched SAP Unlimited Human Potential Challenge. The question on the table: What is the one thing you’d change to help organizations unleash and organize human potential across boundaries?

Over the course of a week, MIXers from around the world submitted dozens of ideas for tackling the twin challenges of the Unlimited Human Potential M-Prize: 1) how do organizations unleash human capacity—by designing environments and systems for work that inspire individuals to contribute their full imagination, initiative, and passion every day, and 2) how do we create value for all by aggregating human capability—leveraging new social, mobile, and digital technologies (and the principles behind them) to activate, enlist, and organize talent across boundaries?

While the Quick MIX yielded a remarkable diversity of ideas, several powerful themes emerged. I’ll share some of them here, but it’s worth spending some time exploring the individual entries here.