Ruining American business

September 22, 2014

By   via   Article

How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy

“The missing link in the anemic, five-year-old recovery has been business investment. … Instead of using record profits to buy new equipment or build factories — and boost the economy — corporate America has been sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash. Corporate balance sheets are stuffed.

When CEOs do put money to work, it’s almost always to help shareholders, through higher dividends and stock buy-backs that boost share prices. More recently, companies have been using some of that dough for a tricky financial technique known as an ‘inversion,’ buying an overseas rival to take advantage of lower international tax rates. Never have companies spent such a tiny share of the cash they generate on capital investment, according to economist Andrew Smithers.

Even worse, argues Harvard’s Clayton Christensen in a recent paper, much of that investment is directed toward making existing products or delivering existing services more efficiently — often with fewer workers — rather than innovating new products or services that create new, high-paying jobs. This plague of risk-averse ‘short-termism,’ as Nobel-winning economist Edmund Phelps writes in Mass Flourishing, reduces the total ‘supply of innovation’ in the U.S. economy, resulting in slower growth and job creation. …

… executives pay has become more dependent on bonuses, often linked to a company’s stock prices …. At the same time, CEO tenure has declined since 2000. So bosses have big incentive to embrace short-term strategies — like buy-backs — that keep the stock price high and avoid those — like, say, a pricey new research initiative — which might make it tougher to hit those all-important quarterly earnings targets. As a result, Smithers writes in The Road to Recovery, ‘managements are willing to accept possible long-run damage from lower investment and the possible loss of market share.’ That’s the next CEO’s problem.”


Leaders – not bosses

September 15, 2014

By Kathleen Quinn Votaw via   Article

Grow leaders—not bosses

“Many would argue that in large part our visionary leaders have gone missing, leaving us with bosses and bottom line managers at the helm of our organizations. If it’s true that great leaders are not born but made, how do we go about making them to fill this gap?

Warren Bennis, eminent scholar, author and father of leadership, … said, “The process of becoming a leader is similar, if not identical, to becoming a fully integrated human being.” Both are “grounded in self-discovery.” …

What defines a great leader? Professor Bennis, who saw today’s leaders as too focused on extravagant compensation and quarter-to-quarter earnings, defines successful leaders as:

  • Having a guiding vision to accomplish their mission
  • Possessing the strength to persist in the face of setbacks or failure
  • Bringing their particular passion to the job or action
  • Communicating passion in a way that gives hope and inspiration to others
  • Having integrity
  • Thinking independently and with ‘contextual intelligence’
  • Understanding their flaws and assets and never lying to themselves about them
  • Showing others understanding, kindness and respect (not just toleration)
  • Being curious, daring and willing to take risks and try new things
  • Embracing errors as learning experiences
  • Making no room in their lives for hubris and arrogance”

The one word

September 15, 2014

By  via   Article

The One Word Men Never See In Their Performance Reviews

“‘Jessica is really talented, but I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.’ Her male counterpart? ‘Steve is an easy case, smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?’ These statements, uttered by an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews ….

In a report for, she [Kieran Snyder] collected 248 performance reviews from 28 companies from large technology corporations to small startups. The reviews came from 180 male and female managers.

Feedback… 58.9% of men’s reviews contained critical feedback, while an overwhelming 87.9% of the reviews received by women did.

Not only did women receive more criticism in their performance reviews, it was less constructive and more personal. … such as watch your tone’ and ‘stop being so judgmental.’ For example:

‘You can come across as abrasive sometimes. I know you don’t mean to, but you need to pay attention to your tone.’

Abrasive alone was used 17 times to describe 13 different women, but the word never appeared in men’s reviews. In fact, this type of character critique that was absent from men’s reviews showed up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.”

Workplace courage

September 15, 2014

Via   Article

Workplace courage: more process than personality, says study involving CU-Boulder

“Acts of courage in the workplace might include admitting a mistake to one’s boss, divulging that a product is faulty during a sales meeting with a client, or ordering a superior commander in the military to step down because of inappropriate handling of a mission.

When faced with danger or wrongdoing in the workplace, people first ask themselves if they’re personally responsible to act, the study found. People’s level of attachment to the victim or level of power in the workplace is often what determines their sense of responsibility to step in.

Once a sense of responsibility is established, people then try to assess the costs of behaving courageously, such as job security and professional relationships. …

Four major types of workplace courage were found in the study including standing up to authority, uncovering mistakes, protecting those in need, and structuring uncertainty, or taking a stance on a problem that has no clear solution and possibly serious repercussions. …

While managers naturally might not value courage in the workplace because it often involves subordinates speaking up, which is uncomfortable, they — and ultimately the organization — should because it’s beneficial, say the researchers.

‘Managers might better grasp the significance of our findings by thinking of courageous workplace behaviors as a type of organizational immune response that identifies and corrects power abuses, errors, ambiguity and needs before they metastasize and threaten the system as a whole’ ….”

200 definitions

September 15, 2014

Via   Article

Can Creativity be Taught?

“In whatever the sector or discipline — product development, exploitation of networks, music or education — creativity shares certain traits, experts say. Jacob Goldenberg, professor of marketing at the Arison School of Business at the IDC Herzliya in Israel, says creativity has more than 200 definitions in the literature. ‘However, if you ask people to grade ideas, the agreement is very high,’ he notes. ‘This means that even if it is difficult to define creativity, it is easy to identify it. One of the reasons why it is difficult to define is the fact that creativity exists in many different domains.’ Still, he says: ‘Most creative ideas share a common structure of being highly original and at the same time highly useful.’

In Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results, Goldenberg and co-author Drew Boyd make the case that all inventive solutions share certain common patterns. Working within parameters, rather than through free-associative brainstorming, leads to greater creativity, the book says. This method, called Systematic Inventive Thinking, has found application at Procter & Gamble and SAP, among others. ‘We shouldn’t confuse innovation and creativity,’ Goldenberg says. ‘Creativity refers to the idea, not to the system [product, service, process, etc.] that was built around it. For example, online banking is a great innovation, but the idea [of using the Internet to replace the branch] was not creative. It was expected years before it was implemented.’ …

Mueller found in a 2010 study published in Psychological Science, people often espouse creativity as an abstract goal, but then, when presented with it, spurn it. In The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas, co-authored by Mueller with Shimul Melwani and Jack A. Goncalo, experiments suggest that the desire for creativity is often overshadowed by a need to reduce uncertainty — even as subjects rate their attitudes toward creativity as positive. Moreover, this bias contributes toward people being less able to even recognize creativity.”

People quit bosses, not jobs

September 8, 2014

7 Ways You Can Impact Company Culture 

“So what if your boss is a nightmare, the culture is toxic and you’re about to start singing, ‘take this job and shove it’? … Well, if you love what you do, the industry you’re in, the people you work with or if there’s any other reason to have hope, then it is likely worth an attempt to make things better.

Here are seven things you can try to make a meaningful impact and turn things around:

1. Own your own role. First, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I part of the problem?” … Make a list–maybe it’s longer than you thought! …

2. Use your influence to make things better. The true leaders at a company aren’t always the boss. Natural leaders set an example that people want to follow, so if that’s you, be a good one! …

3. Be open, transparent and fair. I have little patience for petty, backbiting office politics and social positioning, but it is inevitable that there will be people at a company who still behave as if they’re still in high school. … be open, transparent and fair, and people will reciprocate even if it takes them a while. …

4. Educate and train your boss. Dogs sometimes find it easy to train their owners . . . maybe we can train our bosses. …

5. Take measurements. … IThis may just be a feeling you get when you walk into the office or when you know your coworkers are coworkers. Less whining or grumbling. …

6. Talk to HR. … GGo ask questions, find out what HR thinks about culture and how it’s communicated to employees. …

7. Be patient. … great culture requires great effort and time to get just right. And frankly it’s never perfect, but we should always be working on incremental improvement.”

No matter who pays you

September 8, 2014

By Liz Ryan via   Article

The Myth of Entrepreneurial Exceptionalism

“The amazing part to me is how just a few years’ dipping in the corporate-ladder tea can make a person of normal intelligence believe that full-time salaried employment is the only kind worth having.

I remember meeting a guy at a networking event about five years ago. Like a lot of local networking events the shindig was well-populated by independent business people and consultants. ‘Do you work for yourself?’ I asked him, as the guy wasn’t wearing an ID badge.

‘Oh no!’ he said. ‘I’m one of the lucky ones.’ I may have gaped at him in astonishment.

Lucky? I can’t agree with that assessment. To work your tush off toward someone else’s goals with zero visibility into the future of your earnings, your resume or the way you spend your time all day – how is that lucky? I have no problem with full-time employment as a concept, but the past ten years should have shown us that to trust someone else with your career and earning power — even the roof over your family’s head — is lunacy.

We need to insist on visibility, information and the opportunity to negotiate the terms of our involvement in any project as often as necessary. No one benefits when we pretend that we don’t care whether the company’s new strategic direction spells an expanded role for us or none whatsoever. Why the fake politeness? We can say ‘How will this change affect me?’

That’s just prudence. We evolved on this planet. We know how to take care of hearth and home, or we’d better figure it out. We don’t do that by behaving like sheep,  following somebody else’s plan for our careers. We don’t do it by internalizing the idea ‘I could never work for myself.’

You work for yourself no matter who pays you. It’s an entrepreneurial world now.”