- In a world of layoffs, outsourcing, and industry disruption, the only "career insurance" you can get is through figuring out the answer to one particular question: how can you make yourself truly valuable professionally? Most recent grads assume they'll do OK if they work hard. But doing the assigned job is table stakes, and not enough to matter very much when other, cheaper options become available for your employer. You need to hone a skill no one teaches you in college, and few people in the workforce understand: the ability to identify problems no one has explicitly articulated, and then solve them.
How can you make yourself a connector in your company, and share information with those that need it? How can you lend a unique perspective to corporate discussions? What minor task or gruntwork can you take off someone's plate, thereby earning their gratitude? What leadership position — perhaps that no one else wants — can you leverage to build connections and a solid professional reputation? Answering those questions isn't easy. But if you can do it, you're miles ahead of the legions who don't even grasp they should be asking them.
David Warsh, William H. Janeway
- Economic growth over the past 250 years is best understood as the product of a “three-player game.” In this game, the market economy and the state compete to direct the allocation of resources to new technologies—to canals and waterpower in one century, to steam and electricity in the next, and to computers after that. Financial capitalism, the third player, which includes bankers of every sort, exploits the discontinuities that inevitably arise from such focused investment. Then investors pile in, bubbles occur, crashes ensue, and a new economy is assembled, partly from the detritus of the binge. Thus, bubbles are the necessary drivers of economic progress, and financiers are the nurturers of growth, providing not just capital but crucial know-how.
Michael J. Mauboussin, David K. Hurst
- Michael J. Mauboussin offers this rough-and-ready test for discerning the difference between skill and luck in any given event: Ask yourself if you can lose on purpose. If you can, skill is involved; if you can’t, it’s pure luck. For a more mathematical assessment, figure out the correlation between a supposed cause and its effect. If the correlation is high, the cause is likely related to a skill, and a good process will usually have a good outcome. If the correlation is low, luck plays a larger role in the outcome, and a good process will produce good results only over time.
John Paul MacDuffie
- Wharton management professor John Paul MacDuffie cites research which suggests that employees arrive at perceptions of fairness regarding their compensation by comparing the ratio of their inputs -- including, for example, their credentials, level of experience and amount of effort put into the job -- to their outcomes, including such things as salary and benefits. Under this theory, employees also compare themselves to someone else, such as another person in the organization or even to themselves at an earlier stage of their career. In any case, "if the ratio is not equal, it causes a psychological strain that the employee wants to resolve," MacDuffie says.
- Launching a product shouldn’t be like having a gauntlet to run, but rather having a series of people holding water for the person running the marathon, getting behind them, coaching them, and participating with them.
- If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
- Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire.
- The connection between employee and customer has to be central to what every leader and every manager thinks about every single day. If they don't think about that connection, they will either miss maximizing the employee or miss an opportunity with their customers. We often find that organizations are disconnected on those things, and the issue is usually alignment.
- Most organizations are choking on performance data and have little understanding of what data are important (need to know) and what data are merely interesting (nice to know).
Many companies find it relatively easy to add new metrics to scorecards and dashboards, but few are good at weeding out metrics that are no longer relevant. The result is a bloated scorecard with more data points than anyone can possibly manage or absorb. When setting up metrics, the key factor is the team's mental bandwidth. How many performance metrics can anyone simultaneously support? The answer: Fewer is better. Having fewer metrics creates sharper focus and more considered effort.
A sales team may not have a clear path to control defect rates. A production team may not have a clear path to improve product awareness. When designing a work team's scorecard, ask what behavior change each metric can influence. If the answer is unclear to you, it won't be clear to the work team.
Most Popular Quotes
John Mackey and Raj Sisodia
- At some point, people have enough money to have financial security, live a comfortable, adventuresome lifestyle, and fulfill most of their aspirations in life. It is a mark of emotional and spiritual maturity to be able to say, “I have enough.” Past a certain point, it is not healthy to want more; actually, it is a kind of sickness.
- The leader never lies to himself, especially about himself, knows his flaws as well as his assets, and deals with them directly. You are your own raw material. When you know what you consist of and what you want to make of it, then you can invent yourself.
Claude Legrand and Dr. David S. Weiss
- As we moved from the industrial economy to the knowledge economy over the past 25 years, the nature of critical issues changed from complicated to complex. Complicated issues can be solved with logic and by drawing on past experience. It’s simply a matter of simplifying, organizing and applying solutions that have worked in a similar situation. Complex issues, on the other hand, are more ambiguous, uncertain, and somewhat unique problems or opportunities. Leaders need to apply innovative thinking to gain insight into the complexities and to discover innovative solutions. While yesterday’s answers or best practices may be helpful, they can never accurately and sustainably solve a complex problem.
- A comprehensive look at the evidence will show, to the surprise of many, that the economic return to innovation is quite meager and that it has been progressively declining over time, as an extensive review of the literature has shown.
- The talent problems of employers, employees, and the broader society are intertwined. Employers want the skills they need when they need them, delivered in a manner they can afford. Employees want prospects for advancement and control over their careers.
Mary Crossan, Jeffrey Gandz, and Gerard Seijts
- When loyalty conflicts with honesty, when fairness conflicts with pragmatism, or when social responsibility conflicts with obligation to shareholders, people become conflicted. And when their actions are inconsistent with their values, they either experience guilt, anger and embarrassment. People try to minimize such cognitive dissonance by rationalizing or even denying their behavior, discounting the consequences of it or simply blaming others.
- In a dynamic environment, strategy is seen a means of choosing between the innumerable options a company has for developing products, customers, and business partners; it provides a lens for making tough decisions, but it does not create a compass pointing in one fixed direction.
- The most dangerous thing is not having the wrong answer, it is asking the wrong question.
Kent Lineback and Linda A. Hill
- In every organization of any size, work must be segmented and people hired who have specialized knowledge of one part of the organization and its work. As a result, all organizations consist of disparate groups with often-conflicting needs, goals, and priorities. In spite of their differences, however, these groups depend on each other. No group can work in isolation. What makes this combination of differences and interdependence problematic is the third universal characteristic: limited resources. No group will get all the money, people, or attention it wants.
The unavoidable result is conflict and a politically charged environment in which conflict gets resolved according to one’s influence. Resources go to those leaders and groups with the most influence. Thus, to be effective, managers must be able to exercise influence throughout the organization on behalf of their groups.
- Every executive team that I know struggles with getting the tension right between managing the running of the business, while changing the business. And every executive team I know generally spends far too much time and energy in running the business and not enough attention on changing the business.
Stephanie Quappe, David Samso Aparici, Jon Warshawsky
- As for the genius of innovation, clearly the one percent spark of inspiration is nurtured by a positive culture. But the 99 percent perspiration ingredient comes from employees who love what they do, as well as where they do it, and who invest in that Holy Grail of productivity called “discretionary effort.”
Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad
- In many companies, business unit managers are rewarded solely on the basis of their performance against return on investment targets. Unfortunately, that often leads to denominator management because executives soon discover that reductions in investment and head count—the denominator—“improve” the financial ratios by which they are measured more easily than growth in the numerator: revenues. It also fosters a hair-trigger sensitivity to industry downturns that can be very costly. Managers who are quick to reduce investment and dismiss workers find it takes much longer to regain lost skills and catch up on investment when the industry turns upward again.
David Garvin and Amy Edmondson
- An environment that supports learning has four distinguishing characteristics: psychological safety, appreciation of differences, openness to new ideas, time for reflection.
- Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
Dan Herman, PhD
- The brand's strategy should be the translation of your competitive-marketing strategy into terms of a promise to your existing and prospective customers.
- The human condition can almost be summed up in the observation that, whereas all experiences are of the past, all decisions are about the future. The image of the future, therefore, is the key to all choice-oriented behavior.
Dan Heath, Chip Heath
- The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern. Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns. Figure out what is counterintuitive about the message-i.e., What are the unexpected implications of your core message? Communicate your message in a way that breaks your audiences' guessing machines.
- CEOs don't care about product features. (Save it for the engineering VP.) CEOs don't care about ROI. (Save it for the CFO.) What CEOs care about is: "will this increase the value of my company?" and "will this make my company easier to manage?" If you're not selling something that's going to impact one of those two elements, don't bother trying to sell it to the CEO, because you'll just get a one-way ticket to his admin's blacklist.
- The information society is completed -- it's actually been around about 90 years. Now we're beginning the post-information society. In Alvin Toffler's terms, any time one of these new 'waves' comes in, like when the agricultural economy started giving way to the industrial economy, you have an 'epoch of uncertainty.' Now we're at a point where the uncertainty may never stabilize -- there is such a cascading of the amount of change with the rate of change. It isn't just about the acceleration of the pace of change. It's also the amount of it. The only certainty we can count on in the future will be a continuing state of uncertainty.
Every epoch has its organizing premise. When we were industrial, it was reason; when we were information, it was complexity, chaos theory, choice modeling...Now we think the new organizing premise is paradox.
So paradox becomes the organizing premise of the post-information society, just as complexity was the organizing premise of the information society. The key to paradox is that you don't do one or the other of those approaches; you do both.
Charles H. Ferguson
- Anyone who tends toward arrogance should be sentenced to a term of VC fund-raising during a tight market.