Shorts: Michael Crouch on doing the easy thing

You should read this interesting interview with Michael Crouch for many reasons. One sentence caught my eye:

Some thought we should be selling what everybody else sold because that was much easier to sell

And I ask you – are you selling what everybody else is selling because it is easier? Are you doing what everybody else is doing because it is easier? Are you not standing out and not being remarkable just because it is easier?

If it is easy, there is a good chance it is not worth doing.

Elad

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Shorts: Amar Bhidé on the deference of human judgment in favor of computer models.

Today, I heard HBR.org Ideacast titled Bringing Judgment Back to Finance where Amar Bhidé, author of a recent HBR article The Judgment Deficit and of a book titled A Call for Judgment: Sensible Finance for a Dynamic Economy was interviewed about the ideas in his article and book.

It is a fascinating cast and I would let you listen to it. I wanted to point to what in my view was the main idea. Over-reliance on computer models, both in finance and in other areas of life, is dangerous. While computer models and arithmetic based rules are important, they should not replace human judgment.

I must admit that when I prepared my No More Rules! presentation and wrote the MIX hack under the same title, I haven’t even considered cases where the rules are no man-made, but computer made. This, of course, leads to a different set of complexities (Hey, this is what the computer says). I think however, that the message is the same. We need people who think, how develop skill, judgment and practical wisdom. Rules, guidelines and arithmetic models are tools that should help human make decision, not replace them.

Interesting stuff!

Elad

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Shorts: Bill Taylor on the ideas of power and leadership

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Read Bill Taylor’s HBR.org post: Where Have all the Business Heroes Gone?

A very short excerpt:

Here’s why: So much of the way so many of us think about business remains rooted in the logic of power. How big has a company become under its hard-charging CEO? How much wealth have its shareholders amassed as a result of strategic calculations made in the corner office? But as my friend and publishing-industry legend Harriet Rubin likes to say, and as I’ve written before on this blog, “Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you control. Freedom is about what you unleash.”

Very nicely written. Some might say – inspiring!

Reminded me of this post, in which I wrote:

First, the assumption that there is only one way. Maybe, for some companies and in certain situations, the flamboyant visionaries are the best fit as CEO’s. But not in every situation. Some companies need the quiet leadership behind the scene, the steady hand that improves and creates processes that lead to growth and innovation. Taylor’s choice of the historic Great Man Theory seems appropriate. It too claimed that only certain people are fit for leadership roles. We know today that this attitude was plain wrong.

I find Taylor’s post to be especially strong and important in comparison to the post which appeared next it in my HBR.org RSS feed.  Jeffrey Pfeffer‘s post: Why the Powerful Can Be So Rude. I will leave it up to you to compare and contrast. I will say one thing – I don’t think the end justifies the means.

Elad

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Shorts: Clay Shirky on the gap

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In this wonderful TED talk, Clay Shirky says one mind-blowing sentence:

The gap is between doing anything and doing nothing.

Think about it. When have you last crossed the gap and did anything? What’s stopping you? Is there any chance that doing nothing will result in good things for you?

Elad

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Shorts: Brandon Sanderson on people

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A few days ago I finished reading Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. An inspiring Epic Fantasy book. I found some parts of it so insightful about people, that I decided to quote some of them here.

Motivation

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t understand a man until you understand what makes him do what he does. Everyman is a hero in his own story, princess. Murderers don’t believe that they’re to blame for what they do. Thieves, they thing they deserve the money they take. Dictators, they believe they have the right – for the safety of their people and the good of the nation – to do whatever they wish.

About our judgment of other people

She’d been wrong about him. She was almost certain of that now. She had to stop judjing people. But was that possible? Wasn’t interaction based, in part, on judgments? A person’s background and attitudes influenced how she responded to them. Her answer, then, wasn’t to stop judging. It was to hold those judgments as mutable.

Failure

But Hallandren had repeatedly proved that she was flawed. And now that she’d tried and failed so often, she found it hard to act. By choosing to act, she might fail – and that was so daunting that doing nothing seemed preferable.

You want to be competent? She thought. You want to learn to be in control of what goes on around you, rather than just being pushed around? They you’ll have to learn to deal with failure.

Elad

Shorts: Kip Tindell on hiring great people and the power of unshackling

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I was reading an interview with Kip Tindell, chief executive of the Container Store, which was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant from the New York Times. There are a lot of golden nuggets in this interview but two struck me as particularly interesting. Here is the first quote:

One of the other foundation principles is that one great person could easily be as productive as three good people. One great is equal to three good. If you really believe that, a lot of things happen. We try to pay 50 to 100 percent above industry average. That’s good for the employee, and that’s good for the customer, but it’s good for the company, too, because you get three times the productivity at only two times the labor cost.

Indeed. I wrote in the past about the importance of choosing the right people. I love the fact that they also pay more as they know they will get more. Now, we can be cynical and say that this is what every company tries to do. But when the CEO talks about it with such passion, for me at least, it rings differently. Imagine knowing you are working in a company that states it hires great people. How will that make you feel about your work? How will this kind of environment support your motivation?

This is the second quote:

So we have what we call foundation principles. They are talked about and emphasized around here constantly. They’re all almost corny, a little bit Golden Rule-ish, but it causes two things. It causes everybody to act as a unit. Even though we’re sort of liberating everybody to choose the means to the ends, we all agree on the ends, and the foundation principles are what cause us to agree on the ends. As a result, we have people unshackled to choose any means to those ends, but it’s not mayhem because our foundation principles kind of tie us together.

I created a 47 minute presentation to explain the power norms have over rules and the meaning of that on the practice of rules in the management world. Tindell put it into one paragraph!

Elad

Shorts: Gary Hamel on Humanity in management

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Gary Hamel writes in the February 2009 issue of the Harvard business review under the title Moon Shots for Management – What great challenges must we tackle to reinvent management and make it more relevant to a volatile world:

This is a daunting challenge, but take heart. The first management pioneers had to turn freethinking, bloody-minded human being into obedient, forelock-tugging employees. They were working against the grain of human nature. We, on the other hand, are working with the grain. Our goal is to make organization more human – not less.

So true. A few weeks ago, I argued here against Daniel Pink’s claim in his book Drive that management does not emanate from nature:

Management does emanate from nature. In fact, the problem with management today as I see it is that we stopped doing what is natural and human and started using artificial methods to deal with people.

Being empathic, creating connections and socializing, talking and listening and even respecting our fellow human beings are not unnatural things.

When you start treating management as a race for productivity you get an unnatural phenomenon. When you start using carrots and sticks like people are jackasses you get an unnatural phenomenon. When you rely only on measurement of only the things you can measure to fuel management you get an unnatural phenomenon.

Elad