A pre-mortem

November 26, 2018

By  Christine Lagorio-Chafkin via inc.com  Article

3 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Decision Making

In the course of his studies, Johnson has discovered some useful–and surprising–strategies for coming to a decision and boosting the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here are three steps he suggests building into your next big choice.

1. Don’t be too decisive.

Johnson warns that the biggest mistake business leaders make in their decision making is possessing overconfidence. ‘Decisiveness is fine for simpler choices in life,’ he says. ‘But when you get to a really important crossroads, deliberation is far more important than decisiveness.’

Even if you have a strong gut feeling, take a week to not make the decision. Johnson cites the work of management professor Paul Nutt, who studied the technique (or lack thereof) employed in making hundreds of business decisions. Nutt found there was a significant advantage for folks who took time at the beginning of their process to look at different options, or to actively try to diversify the options available. For most of the subjects, though, ‘there was no stage at which they said, ‘Are there other choices here?’ and actually made that part of the exercise. Those who did were more likely to be, in the end, pleased with the outcome,’ Johnson says.

2. Involve other perspectives.

‘An important part of this process in a business is diversity in the group of people making the decision,’ Johnson says. A multitude of studies support the notion that cognitively diverse groups make both better and more inventive decisions. Even large groups, if they are composed of like-minded individuals, underperform when compared with groups that contain a broad range of viewpoints. ‘It is the nature of a complex problem that there are angles of it you cannot see from one perspective,’ Johnson says. While he notes that reaching a consensus can be more contentious when your workforce is diverse, it yields far better solutions by infusing the process with inherent creativity, and avoiding groupthink.

3. Conduct a ‘pre-mortem.’

Now that you know the goals and a range of strategies for achieving them, you have come to a decision. Next, take that decision and ask: What does the future look like if it completely flops?

It’s a concept psychologist Gary Klein dubbed a ‘pre-mortem,’ and essentially involves asking the question: If the patient dies…what caused that to happen? By visualizing the inverse of what a successful outcome to the decision looks like (“If in two years, this decision turns out to have been a disaster, why would that be?”), individuals and teams also open themselves up to a more creative process where they can see flaws they might have otherwise overlooked.

It sounds odd, but Johnson is convinced the pre-mortem is crucial for the business setting–especially when even the most well-intentioned decisions can have wide-ranging and damaging consequences. ‘In any business in a disruptive field or social media that’s messing with incumbents or challenging beliefs, it’s incumbent on those companies to run pre-mortems on their concepts,’ he says.”

The courage to continue

November 26, 2018

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

– Winston Churchill


The 1 brutal question

November 26, 2018

By Minda Zetlin via inc.com  Article

The 1 Brutal Question Every Leader Should Be Able to Answer, According to Steve Jobs

If you want to be a successful leader, and especially if you want to run a successful company, there’s one really, really tough question you have to ask yourself often. It’s about prioritization, perhaps the most difficult thing for all of us to do, both in business and in life.

It was 2007. … Yahoo CEO Terry Semel had just resigned, having failed miserably in his attempts to purchase first Google, then Facebook. The Yahoo board appointed co-founder Jerry Yang as CEO. A who’s who of Silicon Valley figures offered to help Yang in his new role. One of them was Steve Jobs, who arrived at Yahoo to deliver a speech to hundreds of its upper managers. The subject of his speech was prioritization. 

Jobs described how he’d returned to Apple to lead the company 12 years after being forced out. He returned to find too many products and product lines. So he set his managers to work on prioritization, on focusing on what was more valuable and important for Apple and letting the rest go.

Jeff Weiner was sitting in the audience. At the time, he was a Yahoo executive; within two years he would move to LinkedIn, where he is now CEO. All these years later, Weiner still hasn’t forgotten that speech. ‘Prioritization sounds like such a simple thing,’ he told The New York Times in 2012. ‘But true prioritization starts with a very difficult question to answer… If you could only do one thing, what would it be?’

You can’t cheat when answering this question, Weiner says–for instance, you can’t answer by attaching one thing to another. ‘I was struck by the clarity and courage of his conviction,’ Weiner recalls. ‘He felt it so deeply, and there wasn’t a person in the audience that day who did not take that with them as a lasting memory.’

How many times have you said “no” today?

Jobs’ longtime friend, Jony Ive, chief design officer at Apple, recalls getting a similar lesson from Jobs. ‘Jony, you have to understand there are measures of focus, and one of them is how often you say ‘no,” Jobs said to him, according to the website Ladders. ….

Ive also said Jobs would often ask him how many things he had said ‘no’ that day–a question Ive found patronizing, although he agreed with the principle. ….

So ask yourself: If you could do only one thing, what would it be? Once you have a clear answer to that question, ask yourself this one: Are you devoting most of your time and attention to that one thing right now? And if you aren’t, why aren’t you?”

Make your flaws the key to your success

November 26, 2018

By Eric Barker via theladders.com  Article

How to make your flaws the key to your success

“The same traits that make people a nightmare to deal with can also make them the people who change the world. As any mathematician knows, averages can be deceptive. As a general rule, anything better aligned to fit a unique scenario is going to be problematic on average. And qualities that are ‘generally good’ can be bad at the extremes. …

The hard-charging Silicon Valley entrepreneur has become a respected, admired icon in the modern age. Do these descriptors match the stereotype? A ball of energy. Little need for sleep. A risk taker. Doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Confident and charismatic, bordering on hubristic. Boundlessly ambitious. Driven and restless.

Absolutely. They’re also the traits associated with a clinical condition called hypomania. Johns Hopkins psychologist John Gartner has done work showing that’s not a coincidence. Full-blown mania renders people unable to function in normal society. But hypomania produces a relentless, euphoric, impulsive machine that explodes toward its goals while staying connected (even if only loosely) with reality.

So under the right circumstances there can be big upsides to ‘negative’ qualities. Your ‘bad’ traits might be intensifiers. But how can you turn them into superpowers?

I asked Gautam Mukunda, Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit of Harvard Business School, and he said there are two steps.

First, know thyself

If you’re good at playing by the rules, if you’re a filtered leader, then double down on that. Make sure you have a path that works for you. If you’re more of an outsider, an artist, an unfiltered leader, you’ll be climbing uphill if you try to succeed by complying with a rigid, formal structure. By dampening your intensifiers, you’ll be not only at odds with who you are but also denying your key advantages. …

Second, pick the right pond

You’ve got to pick the environments that work for you. Context is so important. The unfiltered leader who is an amazing success in one situation will be a catastrophic failure in the other, in almost all cases. It’s way too easy to think, ‘I’ve always succeeded, I am a success, I am successful because I am a success, because it’s about me, and therefore I will succeed in this new environment.’ Wrong. You were successful because you happened to be in an environment where your biases and predispositions and talents and abilities all happened to align neatly with those things that would produce success in that environment. Ask yourself: Which companies, institutions, and situations value what I do?”

The ‘mere liking effect’

November 19, 2018

By Scotty Hendricks via bigthink.com  Article

The ‘mere liking effect’: Why you trust people who are like you

“… a new study shows that we aren’t as objective as we thought.

The study, undertaken by Konrad Bocian and Wieslaw Baryla of SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities and several others, asked more than six hundred people their opinions on total strangers based on little more than knowing if that stranger was similar to them or not. Unlike many studies, the test subjects were not all students and represented a broad swath of the Polish population.

… The first part of the study had participants taking a test on major political issues. They were asked their opinions on such hot-button issues as abortion, gay marriage, and a national job program. After filling out the form, they were given another one supposedly filled out by another person. In fact, it was filled out by a computer to either match or oppose their answers to varying degrees.

They were then asked to give their impression of the ‘person’ whose answers they were reading. They were also asked to answer questions about the person designed to see if they found them to be moral, competent, or trustworthy. … The results were clear – the test subjects supposed that the ‘people’ who were the most similar to them were more moral and trustworthy in every case. They were also seen as more competent but to a lesser extent. People also said they liked the ‘persons’ who were similar to them more than the ones who were not, even though all they had to go on were fake answers to a political issues quiz.

This liking was the key effect. We like those who are similar to us, and as a result, we find them more trustworthy. Three more tests were carried out. … Put together; the four tests suggest that how much we like somebody, as determined by either their similarities to us or even just how frequently we see them, influences how we judge them morally. …

So, we like people who are like us; what’s the big deal?

While it seems noncontroversial to say that we trust people that we like, there is more to it. It isn’t just that we trust them more, the test subjects were inclined to say they were competent, moral, and trustworthy just because they agreed on a few issues, were seen a few times, or mirrored our actions. …

This, alongside various other studies, suggests that our moral judgments are not fully objective but have large amounts of subjectivity thrown in. Given the seriousness of certain moral decisions we are asked to make, and known biases such as how people who look trustworthy avoid the death penalty in capital cases this study suggests that we are more affected by irrelevant data than is comfortable.”

312 times the average worker’s wage

November 19, 2018

By   via theguardian.com  Article

US bosses now earn 312 times the average worker’s wage, figures show

Astronomical gap between the pay of workers and bosses exposed in report on earnings of America’s top 350 CEOs

The chief executives of America’s top 350 companies earned 312 times more than their workers on average last year, according to a new report published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute.

The rise came after the bosses of America’s largest companies got an average pay rise of 17.6% in 2017, taking home an average of $18.9m in compensation while their employees’ wages stalled, rising just 0.3% over the year.

CEO pay dipped in the early 2000s and during the last recession, but has been rising rapidly since 2009. Chief executives are even leaving the 0.1% in the dust. The bosses of large firms now earn 5.5 times as much as the average earner in the top 0.1%.


… The outsize pay packets have had a direct impact on people down the corporate ladder, Mishel claims. ‘The redistribution of wages to the top 5%, but particularly the top 1%, affected the wage growth of the bottom 90%.

‘As a mathematical matter, had there not been the redistribution upward – to the top 5%, but which is mostly about to the top 1% – the wages of the bottom 90% could have grown twice as fast as it actually did.'”



Performance appraisals drive mediocrity

November 19, 2018

By James Lawther via squawkpoint.com  Article

“If you have never seen one, the standard corporate appraisal form has about 5 sections:

  1. Progress Against Objectives — what you did
  2. Fit with Competency Framework — how you did it
  3. Core Strengths — things you did well
  4. Areas for Development — things you screwed up (or never had a hope in hell in the first place)
  5. Indicative Rating — some platitude about being “good” or “meeting standard”

… The intention is to produce a workforce full of proficient, competent people.  People who are good at everything and have had the rough edges knocked off them. The outcome is different…

… Working on the things you are bad at will only ever make you average.  It will probably make you unhappy as well. There is nothing so miserable as doing something you know you are bad at. It is far better to focus on your strengths. … Nobody would have asked Steve Jobs to work on his interpersonal skills or Winston Churchill to dial back a bit on his patriotism.

I will take spiky every time.  In my team…

  • I want somebody who is a hyper organised administrator who crosses every t and dots every i
  • I want somebody who is a super analyst who can wade through the statistics
  • I want somebody who is a great team player who keeps us all on track
  • I want somebody who is chock-full of ideas, sparking all the time
  • I want somebody who is a fabulous people person, great with suppliers and customers
  • I want somebody who…

The last thing I want is bunch of clones who are just above average at everything and excellent at precisely nothing.

… How would it be if your appraisal form said…

Section 4: Core Strengths

Section 5: Opportunities to Play to Them

That way you will create some people who are really very good at something and, more importantly, raring to go. Good management isn’t about developing people’s weaknesses.  It is about getting people to collaborate around their strengths.”