Changing the world

December 29, 2014


Private lessons

December 29, 2014

By Gigi Sukin via   Article

IPOs create a buzz, but answering to shareholders is not for everybody

“Often initial public offerings are interpreted as symptoms of big things brewing and validation that the rest of the world is watching. Bold, buzz-worthy IPOs secure a spotlight and generous payday for the companies as well as the communities they’re stationed in. But it goes beyond that moment in time. It’s worth noting that public ownership comes at a cost, and the sparkle of the IPO can fade. Public companies spend great deals of time balancing the needs of long-term shareholders alongside the impulses of fast-money traders, and short sellers on the opposite end of the bet, eager to see the stock drop.

Last year, Forbes published an article titled: ’70 Billion Reasons For a Public Company to Go Private,’ as the formerly popular smartphone brand, BlackBerry, opted to return to its private roots in a last-ditch effort for survival. The piece warned: ‘If the public makes you rich beyond your wildest dreams when it buys your stock in an IPO, you then have to make sure the public gets a good return for gambling its retirement money on the fortunes of your shares.’

Interestingly, the value of ‘take private’ deals skyrocketed from $14 billion in 2012 to roughly $80 billion by August 2013, according to data provider Dealogic.”


A culture of why

December 29, 2014

By  via   Article

The Importance of Creating a Culture of Why

“Good knowledge is at the core of innovation. The more that people understand the way the world works, the more that they can develop novel solutions to problems. This type of knowledge is called ‘causal knowledge.’

Studies demonstrate that the people with the highest quality knowledge are the ones who routinely explain things to themselves as they learn. That is, these people consistently ask themselves ‘Why?’ and then answer that question as they learn. When people self-explain in this way, they help to fill in the gaps in their knowledge, which gives them the raw material they need for innovation later.

Organizations can promote this kind of self-explanation by creating a culture that routinely asks ‘Why?’ …


In most workplaces these days, we value collegiality. We want to feel like we get along with the people around us. One way that we maintain that air of collegiality is by avoiding direct conflict with our coworkers. That means that we shy away from simple declarative sentences that might create conflict.

When we disagree with someone at work, it is uncomfortable to just come out and say, ‘I disagree.’ Instead, we state our disagreements indirectly. One easy way to do that is to ask ‘Why?’ By asking ‘Why?’ you get people to talk about their reasons. Then, you can disagree with those reasons. When you argue against the reasons people have for their actions and decisions, it is a more indirect way of expressing disagreement with them than if you come out and argue directly against their decision.

The problem is that this mode of argument has become so common, that the question ‘Why?’ has now come to reflect disagreement. Consequently, people begin to get defensive as soon as you start asking ‘Why?’ In addition, people who get into the habit of asking ‘Why?’ at work quickly get labeled as difficult, because the assumption is that they are disagreeing with others.


We need to reclaim ‘Why?’ as a positive force in the workplace. That requires that we start to tell our colleagues about the importance of maximizing the quality of the causal and explanatory knowledge around us. It also means finding another method for disagreeing with coworkers while still being collegial. Finally, it is crucial that when people start to use the question ‘Why?’ at work when they really mean ‘I disagree’ that we highlight that and work to state disagreements more explicitly.”

Down with Maslow

December 29, 2014

By Susan Fowler via   Article

What Maslow’s Hierarchy Won’t Tell You About Motivation

“Maslow’s idea that people are motivated by satisfying lower-level needs such as food, water, shelter, and security, before they can move on to being motivated by higher-level needs such as self-actualization, is the most well-known motivation theory in the world. …

Despite the popularity of Maslow’s Hierarchy, there is not much recent data to support it. Contemporary science — specifically Dr. Edward Deci, hundreds of Self-Determination Theory researchers, and thousands of studies — instead points to three universal psychological needs. If you really want to advantage of this new science – rather than focusing on a pyramid of needs – you should focus on: autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

Autonomy is people’s need to perceive that they have choices, that what they are doing is of their own volition, and that they are the source of their own actions. The way leaders frame information and situations either promotes the likelihood that a person will perceive autonomy or undermines it. To promote autonomy: …

Relatedness is people’s need to care about and be cared about by others, to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives, and to feel that they are contributing to something greater than themselves. Leaders have a great opportunity to help people derive meaning from their work. To deepen relatedness: …

Competence is people’s need to feel effective at meeting every-day challenges and opportunities, demonstrating skill over time, and feeling a sense of growth and flourishing. Leaders can rekindle people’s desire to grow and learn. To develop people’s competence: …

Unlike Maslow’s needs, these three basic needs are not hierarchical or sequential. They are foundational to all human beings and our ability to flourish.”


The gifted engineer

December 22, 2014

By Rodger Dean Duncan via   Article

Lead Like It Matters: Enrich Your Job, Boost Your Career

“We’ve all seen it: The hotshot salesman who bombs when he’s appointed sales manager. The gifted engineer who seems lost in a new supervisory role. The skilled lawyer who totally stumbles when promoted to a role that involves leading others.

Roxi Bahar Hewertson has seen it, too. She’s an executive coach who’s worked with up-and-comers in a wide range of industries. Her new book is Lead Like It Matter (Because It Does).

I talked with Hewertson about issues that often challenge people who are transitioning into new roles or who want to be more effective in their current roles.

Rodger Dean Duncan: Most people will acknowledge that leading and individual contribution require different skills sets. You say they even requireopposite skills sets and motivation. Can you elaborate?

Roxi Hewertson: We are rewarded all our lives for what we do individually—from learning to walk and talk, to our first big job assignment. The focus and light are shining on “me” and the focus is on what “I do.”  When we become leaders, it’s not about “me” any longer. It’s now about the success of other people. It’s changed from “me” to “we” and this is an opposite mindset not just a different one. This requires both a reversal in priorities and the skill sets that go with those priorities because the work is now about inspiring others to want to do their best work. It shifts from intrinsic motivation to extrinsic inspiration.

The idea that someone can be a virtuoso violin player and then be appointed as the leader of a quartet of violin players is a good example. The skills to play are completely opposite the skills to lead others in playing well together. The individual player is focused on herself. The leader is focused on the entire group and what each of them produces. It’s Me vs. We.”

Going against the grain

December 22, 2014

By Chris MacDonald via

Making ethical decisions at work is easy. Speaking up is harder

“Speaking up is hard. Going against the grain when the team’s mind is made up is harder. And ‘speaking truth to power’ — especially when ‘power’ means someone who can end your career — is harder still. But speaking up is important. Sometimes, it is absolutely morally required. Other times, it might be strictly optional but is a way to demonstrate true leadership. It’s an important skill, and a commitment worth fostering.

… the key ethical skill that business students and corporate employees need to foster is not skill at making ethical decisions, but skill at speaking up. Quite often we know the right thing to do, but have trouble doing it. When the boss wants us to fudge the numbers, or when the team decides to go with a plan that involves playing fast-and-loose with ethical obligations to a client, the problem generally isn’t with figuring out what’s right. The challenge lies in finding the right way, in terms of interpersonal and organizational dynamics, to make it happen.

… certain facets of organizational life make speaking up especially challenging. Consider, for starters, the emphasis that every organization — every organization — puts on loyalty. That emphasis is a matter of necessity. You can’t have a well-functioning company without employees who feel some level of dedication to the corporate mission, and you can’t even have an effective team if all the members of that team don’t, to some extent, put the interests and goals of the team above their own. From an organizational point of view, a certain amount of group-think is a feature, not a bug. But loyalty can too easily slide into a herd mentality, when people’s brains shut off and they nod their heads out of habit, rather than true agreement. The result can be disastrous.”

Unbiased data

December 22, 2014