A very interesting chart from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for December 2013, showing labor turnover. This was brought to my attention by blogger Steve Boese in a recent post. The full BLS government report is available for your viewing pleasure if want to see more analysis and detail.
What I found interesting was the clear correlation between the reduction in company-driven layoffs (a sign of improved business performance and probably greater company confidence in the situation going forward) and the measurable increase in number of employees quitting (probably an indicator of improved confidence in their prospects, or long standing attempts to find something “better” starting to pay off). Either way, it speaks somewhat to the ongoing volatility of employment — from an employee’s perspective: “…either business sucks and you’ll lay me off, and in better times, I’ll end up quitting since the job sucks!”. Heck of a foundation to build a vibrant economy on….
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be… This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”
– Isaac Asimov
I’ve recently started collaborating with Paul Gibbons on podcast interviews with various thinkers and practitioners into the broad topic of what “leadership looks like in the 21st century”. It’s still early days in our initiative however it is starting to take shape and leading to some interesting conversations. More on that in another post, sometime in the future.. in the meantime, I’ve just come across this 9 minute TEDtalk by Roselinde Torres on the subject of “what it takes to be a great leader”… enjoy.
If you know a man’s convictions, you can predict his actions.
If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society, you can predict its course.
But convictions and philosophy are matters open to man’s choice.
Chris McKnett of State Street Global Advisors presents the case for institutional investors becoming the driving force of influencing corporations to take stronger action with sustainability initiatives in this 12 minute TEDtalk:
The liquid network. The slow hunch. The coffee house. The cafeteria table. Connecting ideas over protecting them. These are the suggestions that Steven Johnson covers off in this insightful 18 minute TEDtalk.
Designer Leyla Acarogluc provides an educational and insightful tutorial into the complex nature of some of our “sustainability choices”. Paper versus plastic is not as straight-forward as we sometimes like to think it is…
Twitter always struck me as equivalent to the person wandering the streets, talking loudly to no one in particular. So I found this short YouTube video to be a good illustration of “Twitter in real life”, and a good chuckle for your day. Enjoy!
One of themes in my company’s personal branding public workshops is to think about how to best promote your brand via social media. However, it takes a lot of time and energy to “feed the machine” and so you want to be very selective about choosing the mix of social media tools that is right for you, your message, and how you work. Here is a great parody YouTube video that drives the point home about ensuring you have some deliberate objective for what you ultimately choose to do in the world of social media:
Here’s a short TEDtalk (6 minutes) suggesting that we can link success to the measure of “grit”. Grit, by some definition, seems to be the combination of passion and persistence, and is linked to having a “growth mindset”. Silly me, I thought “grit” was just part of the title of a Western about an old, drunk, gunslinger and a persistent little kid…
At workshops I deliver about how to be an effective networker, I talk a bit about brain chemistry, and particularly about how the chemical Oxytocin is released by our brains and promotes caring and empathy towards others. This short YouTube video lays out some interesting research into this, and illustrates how effective storytelling drives this particular brain response:
If you are interested, here is a short article linked to the video from one of my favorite blogs, PsyBlog, that provides a bit more background and context.
Fascinating TEDtalk from Boston Consulting Group’s Yves Morieux. Key take-away from LEGO’s CEO: “people should be disciplined not for failing, but for failing to help or failing to ask for help.”
“The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.”
Rita Emmett, “Emmett’s Law” from Procrastinator’s Handbook
Chinese sage Lao Tzu
“If someone says
that’s impossible, you should understand it as
according to my very limited experience and narrow understanding of reality, that’s very unlikely.”
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Prince Hamlet, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
“This changed world requires practical dreamers who can, and will put their dreams into action. The practical dreamers have always been, and always will be the pattern-makers of civilization.”
Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”
Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.
We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
Harry S. Truman
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
“That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.”
Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”
A short, fascinating look into the industry behind 90% of our global transportation system. Journalist Rose George’s TEDTalk covers the crew, fuels, piracy, and marine life. Upon reflection, it is surprising how little we ever hear about this industry, so if you are curious, take a few minutes to watch this talk.
For the generations that realize there was chemical photography before the digital realm, this image says it all. Thanks to fellow blogger John at Doug Does Life for pointing this one out!
Educational researcher Sugata Mitra conducted some really interesting experiments to determine what level of education young kids could reach if left to their own to learn. He talks about the results and the ideas that his findings have led him to in this inspiring 22 minute TEDtalk.
A well presented argument (a 16 minute TEDtalk) for why China is rapidly becoming the new idol that emerging economies are increasingly trying to mimic:
As part of pursuing my “business detox” research agenda, I have tried to pay due attention to the work of economist Ronald Coase who developed the first theories on “why firms exist”. As The Economist newspaper explains in their recent obituary for Ronald Coase:
As he watched American car plants in action, he realised that the existence of the firm compensated for a critical flaw in the price-setting mechanism. In the real world it is often costly for buyer and seller to arrive at a final price. “Transaction costs”, like the need to negotiate or draw up contracts, prevent the price mechanism from working smoothly. Firms would exist, he reckoned, when it was cheaper and easier to co-ordinate activity within a centrally planned organisation than to spell out contract details for every step in the production process.
Of course, our modern technological world is rapidly driving down transaction costs and making outsourcing of all parts of the firm much more cost-effective and do-able than ever. Hence, the end of the traditional employee-centric firm as we know it today…
As my own nod to Ronald Coase and his brilliant insights into why firms exist, I have reprinted the 7th September 2013 obituary from The Economist in its entirety below. Rest in peace, Mr. Coase. Continue reading
(Thanks to blogger http://dougdoeslife.com/ for this gem…Thanks Doug!)
Just came across this in my email inbox, via my StumbleUpon feed. What exactly did we do before we had automated bots cluttering up our lives with stuff they were programmed to deliver based on some algorithm somewhere that expects this to be a good fit with some piece of content I didn’t even know I wanted to see? Wow…
And with that disclaimer in place, here is a great list of things worth pondering… hopefully we all don’t have to wait until we’re 90 to appreciate the simplicity of these lessons.
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good. Continue reading
Last weekend, I spent my Sunday facilitating a fairly large not-for-profit board of a national association. My remit was two-fold; first, to help them develop an action plan for a major internal (mandatory) initiative spanning about 10 months, and second; to help them through a “visioning exercise” on the future of their professional discipline.
As it turned out, it took over 2 hours to work them through the first key deliverable and arrive at a real, tangible game plan (specific actions identified with names, dates, and such) for the internal initiative. The board itself was made up of a diverse group of about 18 people that were — perhaps not surprisingly for a volunteer Continue reading
After much internal musing, I have decided that I have a lot to gain from “going public”, as it were, and clearly declaring my interests in dream projects I would like to be involved in, and the kinds of people that I think might want to collaborate on those projects with me.
For anyone who has read my various materials on my “business detox project” (check here, here, and here for some quick background info), you will quickly see that my dream projects strongly intersect with my personal beliefs about how business is evolving (or more accurately, needs to evolve if it is to help us transform our Continue reading
I came across this article recently in the online version of strategy+business, which is the magazine published by management consulting firm Booz & Company.
The article makes the case that the source of much of the dysfunctional behavior our modern organizations demonstrate is due to the fact that for “simplicity’s sake”, we organization them as hierarchical tree structures, despite the fact that they do not at all operate that way in real life. Of course, we intuitively know this, however we’ve organized this way for hundreds of years, so it is how we do it anyway, reality be damned…
The full article is reprinted below for your ease of reading; the key take-away it makes is that what actually can pull our organizations together is shared understanding of Purpose, Values, and Performance. However, we tend to focus exclusively on measuring and chasing Continue reading
The following article is a re-post of some excellent advice about driving a turn-around situation. This article comes from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, in an HBR blog post of 5th November 2013.
While a quick read and some general advice, it is a great reminder that a reinforced and sustained focus on a few overriding key concepts helps the whole team to clarify their turn-around mission and drive the necessary results. For your convenience, it is Continue reading
Innovation is a big topic, and is getting a lot of attention these days in a lot of management circles. Several months ago I was asked to write a paper on how one might go about building more innovative thinking into a company’s culture. That article has just been published formally in the October 2013 edition of the Technology Innovation Management Review (TIM Review), put out by Carleton University, in a special edition titled “managing innovation for tangible performance.”
I hope my small contribution is helpful to advancing the thinking on innovation, and specifically will be useful to management teams that are truly interested in building more effective innovation practices into their company culture. The complete article is republished below, and also available at this link: Continue reading
How to start a movement — 3:10 minute instructional guide, compliments of Derek Sivers:
A century ago, Ford’s assembly line changed society
It began on October 7, 1913 when engineers constructed a crude system using a rope and winch to pull a Ford Model T past 140 workers in a sprawling new factory dubbed the Crystal Palace. Henry Ford launched the modern assembly line in a suburb of Detroit a century ago — and helped spark a radical transformation of both manufacturing and society. By drastically reducing the cost of production with standardized parts and more efficient assembly, Ford was able to bring the luxury, convenience and freedom of the automobile to the masses. Continue reading
The regular reader of my blog will know that I write a lot about how to go about transforming oneself through reflection, discipline, and new habit building. Here is a great little TEDtalk, clocking in at just over 3 minutes, that reinforces the point:
Truth be told, I’ve been struggling a bit lately, trying to make sense of all the business and professional projects I’ve gotten myself involved in. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m really enjoying the stuff on my plate: working with some great business clients, exploring “personal branding” attributes through my career coaching company, figuring out the keys to effective networking, getting positive traction on “detox research”, and generally enjoying my days. So what could be wrong with all that?
It’s that nagging feeling that I STILL haven’t quite got the mix right, haven’t still figured out WHY I’m doing the things I’m doing. I KNOW they are the things I should be doing, but I have been struggling a bit with the WHY… until, that is, I stumbled across this gem: Malcolm Gladwell’s recent take on David and Goliath in a TEDtalk (15 minutes), Continue reading
In this great — and short — article (reprinted in it’s entirety below), writer Saul Kaplan poses the question: Is your CEO Serious about innovation? Ask 10 questions. The questions he poses cover off the culture of innovation, underlying strategies and tactics for execution, and measurement approaches.
Overall I think this is a very solid list of questions to ponder and, as he states towards the end of the article, tread carefully when poking the CEO with Continue reading