Big money and big bluster

August 28, 2017

By Adam Lashinsky via fortune.com   Article

Big Money and Big Bluster Couldn’t Save Jawbone

“I wrote a feature in early 2015 about a peculiar ‘unicorn’—a private company valued at more than $1 billion—called Jawbone. Jawbone was peculiar for several reasons. At 16 years of age, still private, still essentially a startup in that it didn’t make money, the company already was on its third product line. It pioneered Bluetooth headsets for phones. Then it created a niche for Internet-connected speakers. Finally, it made stylish ‘wearables,’ a step counter masquerading as jewelry.

Jawbone had all the elements of Silicon Valley legend. Its CEO was a larger-than-life fellow named Hosain Rahman, who talked big and was a master at raising (and spending) money. Its top designer was a Jony Ive wannabe named Yves Behar, a stylish guy popular on the conference circuit. It products were popular in conference schwag bags and on retail shelves.

Jawbone had great investors too: Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz. They remained publicly enthusiastic, despite Jawbone’s inability to convert its buzzy products into profits. ‘It’s a unique company that has a unique set of capabilities,’ Ben Horowitz told me. As an example, he offered Jawbone’s intellectual property assets, a strange attribute for a would-be high-growth prospect.

In the end, neither brash talk nor savvy investors were enough for Jawbone. It spent too much, paid its bills too infrequently, missed too many product deadlines, and entered too many faddish markets where bigger players reaped whatever gains were to be had. In a move first reported by the scrappy subscription newsletter The Information, Jawbone has begun to liquidate its assets. Its $3 billion-valuation is now a thing of the past. Equity investors likely will be wiped out.

This startup thing is harder than it looks. What’s more, execution is as important as product innovation. Jawbone deserves credit for lasting as long as it did. Now it joins a long list of Silicon Valley might-have-beens that will be forgotten relatively quickly.”

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Listen, learn, empower… lead!

August 28, 2017

By  via linkedin.com   Article

1. Hear Every Voice

We often assume that all voices in the room are being heard because our teams are so talented, outspoken, and accomplished. But we may miss a key voice, hiding in the back, who could offer a key insight or an important dissent, if only we had asked, or enabled them to speak up. Good leaders should look out for the missing voice, making sure that everyone feels part of the team. Not only will this empower your team, it can also help you become a more successful leader. You can learn an awful lot from other people if you are willing to listen.

2. Learn from Failure

When I was not admitted to the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, the French civil service academy, I was disappointed. But then I decided to accept it, reflect on why it did not work out and move on. That setback helped me focus on my strengths and the issues I cared most about. It led to a career journey full of changes and new challenges I could not have imagined. From my legal career, to serving in the French government, to now leading the IMF. You will be a stronger leader because of the setbacks in your life. It will allow you to appreciate the journey of your career and empathize with colleagues when they struggle.

3. Empower Women

The glass ceiling still exists and it is everyone’s mission to make sure it goes away. The economic case is clear. IMF research has shown that adding one more woman in senior management or on the corporate board, while keeping the size of the board unchanged, is associated with 8-13 basis points higher return on assets. Despite this, women, who make up 44% of the labor force of the S&P 500, only hold 25% of senior manager positions. So, it’s time to let women shine, remove barriers, and in the process, build better businesses and a better world.

These are leadership principles that can be universally applied, no matter your field or profession.”


Glitch-ridden, superstitious creatures

August 28, 2017

By Seth Godin via sethgodin.typepad.com   Article

The rationality paradox

“If you see yourself as an engineer, a scientist, or even a person of logic, then it’s entirely possible that you work to make rational decisions, decisions that lead to the outcomes you seek.

The paradox is that you might also believe that you do this all the time, and that others do it too.

But a rational analysis shows that this is far from true. Almost every choice we make is subconscious. We’re glitch-ridden, superstitious creatures of habit. We are swayed by social forces that are almost always greater than our attraction to symbolic logic would indicate. We prioritize the urgent and most of the decisions we make don’t even feel like decisions. They’re mostly habits combined with a deep desire to go along with the people we identify with.

Every time you assume that others will be swayed by your logical argument, you’ve most likely made a significant, irrational mistake.

Your actions and your symbols and your tribe dwarf the words you use to make your argument.”


Tragic blunders

August 28, 2017

By Dan Rockwell via leadershipfreak.blog   Article

5 Tragic Blunders Of Inexperienced Leaders

Blunder #1: Getting lost in their own work.

Drive sabotages inexperienced leaders when they go into heads-down mode. Leaders often have work responsibilities beyond leadership. Their job includes being part of the team as well as leading the team. Inexperienced leaders lose sight of others and the big picture. Reality sneaks up and smacks them later. Suggestions:

  1. Adopt a morning ritual that includes greeting everyone in the morning. You came in early and went right to work and forgot to connect.
  2. Schedule connection time like lunch or coffee.
  3. Go on a gratitude walk in the afternoon.

Blunder #2: Minimizing the difficulty of doing things they haven’t done.

There’s almost always more to a job than you think, especially when you’ve never done it before. When you minimize difficulties you offend those who are actually doing it Suggestions:

  1. Never minimize. Ask experienced team members to explain what it takes to get the job done.
  2. Become accountable to an experienced leader.

Blunder #3: Not asking for help.

You prefer giving help, but receiving help lets others know they matter. Suggestion:

Self-confidence and trust are key factors in asking for help.

Blunder #4: Getting stuck in negative patterns.

Pattern recognition is a skill of experienced leaders that requires insight, input, and reflection. Quickly moving from one project to the next – without input and reflection – almost always produces self-defeating patterns. You wrongly think you understand the causes of success or failure. Suggestions:

  1. Perform after action reviews. What worked? What didn’t? Why?
  2. Keep a personal journal.

Blunder #5: Feeling picked on and misunderstood.

The reason people don’t know you is you close them out. It’s safer to remain distant, but the consequences often short-circuit success. Suggestions:

  1. Show interest in others.
  2. Leave a little of yourself in conversations. Talk about intentions and aspirations, for example.
  3. Connect with mentors.”

Technical expertise came in dead last

August 21, 2017
By Michael Schneider via inc.com   Article
Google Employees Weighed In on What Makes a Highly Effective Manager. Technical Expertise Came in Dead Last
“After gathering and analyzing 10,000 manager observations including performance reviews, surveys, and nominations for top-manager awards and recognition …. the ‘Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.’ Although technical skills made the list, it came in dead last. Here is a complete list via Business Insider (listed in order of importance):

  • Be a good coach;
  • empower your team and don’t micromanage;
  • express interest in employee’s success and well-being;
  • be productive and results-oriented;
  • be a good communicator and listen to your team;
  • help your employees with career development;
  • have a clear vision and strategy for the team; and
  • have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team.

… Bock’s group came to the following conclusions.

1. What employees valued most were even-keeled bosses.

… With the amount of variability and craziness that already comes with work, employees appreciate managers who are patient, poised, and positive. In environments that already lend themselves to stress, bosses who are regularly intense, high-strung, and impatient intensify challenging professions.

2. Manager’s who helped people puzzle through problems were more effective.

… Yes, I know it’s time-consuming. I know you have a million other things on your plate. However, collaborating and supporting your employees in this way pays dividends with each “puzzle” you help them solve. Not only is the work done consistently with your expectations, but your employees observe skills and traits vital to their success. Think of each “puzzle” as an investment in your employee’s future.

3. Top-performing managers took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.

… I’m not saying you have to be best buddies with your employees. However, managers who truly care about their employees’ success and well-being take an interest in their lives. … Although promotions usually come as a result of technical mastery, to be effective in your new role as a manager, you’ll have to wear a different hat. Shift your focus to your people, and I promise, you’ll see a significant return.”


Find meaning in mundane tasks

August 21, 2017

Via hbr.org   Article

Find Meaning in Even Your Most Mundane Tasks

“We all want to feel that what we do every day matters. But when you’re wading through tedious meetings and endless to-do lists — perhaps with less-than-inspirational managers breathing down your neck — it’s hard to feel a sense of purpose about your work.

Fortunately, many studies have shown that even a brief moment of reflection can help boost your performance and resilience.

Ask yourself questions that help you see the big picture, such as, ‘Who is going to benefit from what I’m doing?’ Remembering, for example, that your daunting presentation will allow you to champion the ideas of a new colleague may help you stay focused and engaged throughout.

Or you might ask yourself: ‘If I get this task done well, what bigger aspiration or value of mine will it support?’ Perhaps the never-ending spreadsheet you’re building will help the board make better financial decisions.

Finding a meaningful goal can help you power through a seemingly meaningless task with a sense of purpose.

Adapted from “Find Purpose in Even Your Most Mundane Tasks at Work,” by Valerie Keller and Caroline Webb”


Does diversity actually increase creativity?

August 21, 2017

By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic via hbr.org   Article

“Setting aside social, political, and moral reasons for encouraging a more diverse workplace, there is arguably no better incentive for promoting diversity than the premise that diverse teams and organizations are more creative. But is there actually any evidence in support of this idea? And if there is, do the potential gains in creativity produced by diversity come at the expense of interpersonal harmony and team cohesion? Here are … findings from science:

There’s a difference between generating ideas and implementing ideas. While diverse team composition does seem to confer an advantage when it comes to generating a wider range of original and useful ideas, experimental studies suggest that such benefits disappear once the team is tasked with deciding which ideas to select and implement, presumably because diversity hinders consensus. A meta-analysis of 108 studies and more than 10,000 teams indicated that the creativity gains produced by higher team diversity are disrupted by the inherent social conflict and decision-making deficits that less homogeneous teams create. It would therefore make sense for organizations to increase diversity in teams that are focused on exploration or idea generation, and use more-homogeneous teams to curate and implement those ideas. This distinction mirrors the psychological competencies associated with the creative process: divergent thinking, openness to experience, and mind wandering are needed to produce a large number of original ideas, but unless they are followed by convergent thinking, expertise, and effective project management, those ideas will never become actual innovations. For all the talk about the importance of creativity, the critical piece is really innovation. Most organizations have a surplus of creative ideas that are never implemented, and more diversity is not going to solve this problem. …

Deep-level diversity is key. Most discussions about diversity focus on demographic variables (e.g., gender, age, and race). However, the most interesting and influential aspects of diversity are psychological (e.g., personality, values, and abilities), also known as deep-level diversity. Indeed, there are several advantages to focusing on deep-level variables as opposed to demographic factors. First, whereas demographic variables perpetuate stereotypical and prejudiced characterizations, deep-level diversity focuses on the individual, allowing a much more granular understanding of human diversity. Regardless of whether you focus on bright- or dark-side personality characteristics, motives and values, or indeed creativity, group differences are trivial when compared with differences between individuals, even when the individuals are part of the same group.”