TCMS India - Worse Company

Delhi, Delhi 1 comment

this is a worse company with clients and employee. They never do projects on time and a scammer and employees are also change on daily basis with them.

Avoid this company TCC, TCC-Sep, TCMS, TCMS-SEP, TCC24x7, TCMS24x7, all these firms are from same owner and they all are fraud with offices in Patel Nagar, Delhi, Gurgaon and Sector-63, Noida

They are idiots doing work there, because I was fired from the company and I pray from the God for sack of the clients and employess ofthis company.

Never do any business with them and avoid any relations with them and never join this company in future.

Review about: Tcc24X7.

Comments

Anonymous
#820470

They are idiots doing work there, because I was fired from the company and I pray from the God for sack of the clients and employes of this company.

TCMS India (Tcc247.com) Worst Employer & Company (Fraud & Scam) in New Delhi, India

Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 65 comments
Not resolved

The company, TCMS India (Tcc247.com), 37/17, East Patel Nagar, New Delhi, India is the worst employer & worst IT Company.

There are n numbers of issues and complain about this company, some of them are as followed:

1. No working environment: This Company does not allow or believe in helping grow their employees. No salary on time, no proper payment procedure. Salaries are deducted, no matter if you work for full day (example: internet not working - salary deducted depending on the internet down time, either it can be half day or full day depending on the downtime, electricity or generator problem salary get deducted because the employee says it's your responsibility to take care of those things) and many such thing more. The page will run out of space but the list won't be less.

The company Owners (Mukesh Kapoor and Vijay Kapoor) are sun of a ***. They are mad and they don't know who to run a business. They hire employees on the basis of employment bond for 1 and ½ Years. And one anyone start to work with them, they always abuse the employees and took a lot of unnecessary work pressure. They have now put the security cameras in the office *** residence and they now just watch when a employee go for toilet and when the employee came back from toilet. If you are going to join this company then you have to submit your mobile phones, there is no privacy and there is no right to ask about any good for the employees.

They are into business from last 10 years (They Said) but still they just have 5 to 10 employees because no one stay with them for long (Even not more than 6 months). So, when you will join this company, you will only talk all the time about these two brothers "Bhasudi".

2. Pirated Software: Pirated Software being used in the company, almost each and every system is full of pirated software example: - Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and many more.

3. Hitler Ship: If you have any problems, I mean any and you complain or discuss with the management then you are fired from the company. They will not pay your balance, they will not provide your papers noting.

4. Being Abused: Mukesh and Vijay (Company Owners) always talk with you in abusing language like "Tere 6 year or 8 years experience ki esi ki tesi", "Bhenchod", "Bull Sit" etc. Most of the time they try to threaten the employees. Vijay always said to employees that he will spoil the career even if you haven't done any mistake. But he can't do anything. He can only bark like a dog.

5. Work Ethics: The company employer is very straight forward in this matter, if the client has paid for any project and the hours end at some level where the work cannot be afforded to be left at that end, guess what you have been ordered by the employer to stop the work at the same time no matter what. And guess what the clients never comes back once gone or once availed the services. So you can decide if they have such ethics and attitude towards client then what will happen with any employee?

6. False commitments: All you get on the appointment letters are never meant to be followed by the managements or the company. It's always the employee who suffers here. We all know why the companies have HR? (to be a bridge between the employee and employers) but here, it's different scenario, anyone will come to know when one will face one. At the time of joining they ask you to sign the employment bond and submit the cheque of 1 month salary. And when you will leave the company they will submit your cheque and you will loss 1 month of salary or they will file a case against you when the cheque would be bounce. Lol

7. Getting Aboard?: You will be flattered by the look of the building, because it gives feels like it's a big company having Oracal Company Office in the same building in Gurgoan. But the fact is that they have only single room just for the interviews. And they make employees fool from the begging. They have working office at residential place (37/17, 3rd Floor, East Patel Nagar, New Delhi) and it's a two room office. So, think twice before joining this company.

I've lot more to reveal about this company and protect one carrier being spoiled but it's the face that no one will believe me until unless they are The VICTIM. So, why not try and give a shot to believe it.

This is one of the worst companies to work for. If you are a professional looking for a good work environment, good projects, good management, good HR policies etc., then this is not the place for you. Please save yourself from committing the biggest mistake of your life by staying away from this company.

A Well Wisher!

Review about: Tcms India.

Comments

Anonymous
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India #859453

Dear,

i am also became the prey of this company. as this company is totally Fraud, do not trapped.

Think about 100 times to do business with this company.

Anonymous
Gurgaon, Haryana, India #675055

The guy reviewing here, calling himself a "well-wisher" seems to be totally pissed off.

Well, the problem here is that this so called "well-wisher" wasn't having a good co-ordination with the company officials. If this was the case, why didn't he leave the company immediately? It clearly seems that this guy could not fit into this place's environment. Why didn't he quit the job as soon as he came to know? Was it that he could not get any other offer? Or he was afraid that he may not get a leisure-full workplace?

I have came across such companies where I could not fit into. I simply would find another job if this happens. If you are still working there, it is such a waste of time because another person could fit into that place where you could not.

Thanks,

Ankit

Anonymous
to Ankit #799822

What about working contract?

This company file case against employee, if they break the work contract!

So, Take your opinion in your ***...it's not that easy my friend!

Anonymous
New Delhi, Delhi, India #674814

Regarding TCMS-

TCMS is not too bad as people mentioned here..however its a small company.I dont know about people's Experience, but My experience with the company and with Mr. Mukesh Kapoor was good.

Sometimes he becomes little impatient but it doesn't mean that people start to blame that he use abusive language,however he is little detail oriented and sometimes ask reports on small small things but every company has its own style of working, nothing wrong in this. I have seen him disturbed sometimes but he never abused anyone. I spend almost an year with company in HR and happily completed my tenure, I left due to my personal reasons.

I wish Mr. Kapoor and TCMS all the best in future.

Regards

Anonymous
Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India #672422

MK ha ha ha

Anonymous
Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India #663588

I were HR in this company and I know wvwrything about this company.

All the above points are very true.

Never join this ***.

All the Best.

Anonymous
to Sonia Sharma #1094323

I agree to you Sonia

Mukesh
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India #659374

Each single word is correct brother.I was previous employee of this company.

And believe me, that phase was the worst phase of my life. Mukesh Kapoor is a devil. No manner, no ethics, he has no respect for even his parents. I wish he reads this article and should think about his character.

I feel like *** on his face.Even a swine is better than him

Anonymous
#658755

All Information is correct....

Anonymous
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India #658724

Very True.... Satish

Anonymous
Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India #658271

Gr8 satish

Anonymous
#557584

Operational Improvement Has Improved

by Brad Power | 11:00 AM October 18, 2012

Comments (2)

If you've had a bad experience with an operational improvement effort (like Six Sigma or Business Reengineering), or if you haven't given it much attention lately, you should take a fresh look. Many companies and executives have been disappointed with these efforts when results weren't sustained and inefficiency crept back in. But improvement has improved.

I see three forces behind this trend:

1. Greater awareness and experience in improvement approaches. Continuous improvement and quality have become part of the management lexicon. But it's relatively recent that these practices have become widely adopted, at least outside of manufacturing, and outside of Japan and the U.S. About ten years ago they spread to financial services and, in the past five years, more deeply into health care and services. They've also moved into China, India, South America, and Europe. In addition, the many tools from the various methodologies (such as Lean and Six Sigma) are being combined by smart companies into a standard process toolkit.

Because of this increased diversity and scope of adoption, the learnings are deeper. It is easier to find best practices in a range of processes, e.g., in answering customer calls, improving the time it takes to treat someone with a heart attack, or reducing the waste in launching a new software update.

2. Greater information availability. Twenty years ago there wasn't an Internet to allow companies to easily share information. Today, greater access to information makes the management of end-to-end processes easier, especially those that cut across organizational boundaries. For example, in a recent post I told the story of eight healthcare companies that pulled together as a team to map the current process for hip and knee replacements and redesign it to improve the patient experience. All care givers in the process now have better access to shared information about the standard patient pathway and shared measures. Upstream participants have access to downstream scheduling systems, and downstream participants can see the flow heading their way.

3. The growth of social technology for sharing and learning. New social technology has improved collaboration, sharing, and learning about process improvement internally and externally. Now conversations are happening globally, and experiences and points of view are being shared much faster. People and organizations have access to many more vehicles for learning about the latest in management practices. As I mentioned in a previous post, "New Ways to Collaborate for Process Improvement," Avery Dennison, a $6.5 billion manufacturer of labels and office supplies, launched an internal online community in 2010 to improve collaboration and accelerate learning among its process improvement practitioners. When VP of Global Operations Greg Temple moved from Avery Dennison to be EVP of Supply Chain at $11 billion cleaning services provider Ecolab, he moved to implement a similar internal communications platform to accelerate learning around the globe.

And there are many examples of external collaboration and learning forums that didn't exist even a few years ago. The Lean Enterprise Institute and Healthcare Value Network (a joint venture of over 50 hospitals organized by Thedacare and the Lean Enterprise Institute) provide extensive practical advice, tools, and techniques on their websites and hold webinars where improvement ideas and stories are shared without travel. LinkedIn has dozens of discussion groups on all aspects of different approaches, process management, customer experience, strategy, and change management. I host a group called Process Leaders. Blogs also provide expanded sources of information, and the comments sections, such as the one below my blog posts here on HBR, provide another opportunity for people to discuss issues and share experiences. And videos are being used to document a current process (at healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente they call it "video ethnography"), or as a way to float a new process idea (a popular approach at Google).

Several years ago, my friend Tom Davenport, author of Process Innovation and Competing on Analytics, looked at the waves of managerial enthusiasm for various process improvement "religions" and concluded it was hard to see any progress. It seemed that each generation of management in any organization was rediscovering essentially the same process improvement ideas, just with a different brand label. Today I see improvements in improvement: a stronger foundation of process improvement awareness and experience, a greater availability of information, and faster learning through social technology.

More blog posts by Brad Power

Anonymous
#557582

A New Algorithm for Fast Carbon Footprinting

by Andrew Winston | 1:00 PM October 18, 2012

Comments (0)

Low-cost carbon footprinting is a Holy Grail for the sustainability world. But how do you measure your footprint at multiple levels — from products to business lines to the whole enterprise — quickly and cheaply? Over the last few years, PepsiCo has been working with partners at Columbia University to solve this interesting and complex business problem. The results of this partnership, what the team is calling a "Fast LCA" process, are emerging. And they're encouraging.

To understand this initiative better, I recently spoke with two PepsiCo executives working on sustainability, Al Halvorsen and Robert ter Kuile, and the academic brain trust at Columbia led by adjunct professor Christoph Meinrenken. Here's what I learned about three major issues:

1. Why do carbon footprints matter for your business?

Understanding your carbon footprint is a required skill of 21st-century business. Customers, consumers, employees, and investors (like the increasingly influential Carbon Disclosure Project, backed by institutions with $78 trillion in assets) want to know your contribution to — and actions to solve — this global challenge.

But it's not just about reacting to pressure.Knowing your footprint helps you get proactive, spot risks and costs along your value chain, and identify opportunities to innovate. Getting smart about green data makes money. In essence, carbon is a proxy for energy cost and waste, and good carbon management is a proxy for good operational execution.

2. In layman's terms, what have Columbia and PepsiCo accomplished, and how?

The detailed methodology behind this advancement is complicated: for the math and data wonks out there, see this short but dense article in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

But for even layman like me, the problem is clear: To use carbon data to reduce costs and risks throughout the value chain, you need know the footprint of every single product that contributes significantly to your bottom line or brand. Conducting a detailed lifecycle assessment (LCA) is, to put it mildly, a resource-intensive exercise.

As Meinrenken and the Columbia team suggest in their Journal article, a full LCA for even a relatively straightforward consumer product like a can of soda would require data on

"...the masses of three packaging materials and five ingredients, transportation distances of all materials to the plant, amounts of four types of energy, transportation distances to stores, refrigeration times in stores and at home... and then all materials and activities have to be paired with respective EFs (carbon emission factors), bringing the total count of individual [data] inputs to approximately 100 for a single product alone."

LCAs for an entire product portfolio would require thousands of often hard-to-get data points. It's tough to justify this level of investment. PepsiCo's ter Kuile put it succinctly: "there's no way to look at all of our products at this level of detail in any reasonable time frame."

So what has Columbia done? I'm not doing it justice fully, but it's about algorithms and shortcuts. They start with internal operational data from existing SAP and Oracle databases - bills of materials (packaging, ingredients, and so on) on every single product, as well as shipping, energy, and water data for every plant. But instead of collecting an exact carbon emissions number from every supplier of those materials, they use statistically generated emissions factors (EFs), which provide good estimates on carbon for common inputs like sugar or corn. Modeling EFs is what saves the most time.

Other shortcuts draw assumptions on systemic issues like transportation distances, refrigeration time in transit or in the home, and recycling rates, all of which influence the footprint.

Then the model does something critical: it runs a sensitivity analysis to identify the inputs where variation could cause a meaningful change in the ultimate calculation. Thus the model helps managers zero in on data that's worth spending more time to get right. Let's say the model assumed that soda in France sits in the store refrigerator for two days instead of four. Does that number impact the total footprint very much? If so, managers can do more research and find better numbers (that is, more "primary" data).

(Note: for another interesting take on this process that likens the whole thing to a "Facebook-inspired carbon calculator," see Allison Moodie's piece on Greenbiz.com.)

Finally, the model makes assumptions about elements like packaging that may be common across many products. This is where it gets even more interesting for PepsiCo since it allows execs to explore "what if" scenarios. Which brings me to #3:

3. What's the business value for PepsiCo and all companies with broad product portfolios?

As PepsiCo's Halvorsen told me, "the real reason you do an LCA is improve the business... to put more efficient processes in place and innovate in the supply chain."

To see how this works in practice, let's go back a few years to the beginning of the PepsiCo/Columbia working relationship. The team produced a fascinating study on Tropicana orange juice, which concluded that the biggest contributor to the carbon footprint was not manufacturing or transportation, but natural gas-based fertilizer. For essentially no cost, PepsiCo could eliminate a third of Tropicana's carbon footprint — and all the potential cost and risk associated with it — by switching to non-fossil-fuel-based fertilizer (their test farms are a few years into their experiment).

This exercise was so helpful, PepsiCo's executives wanted to gather this level of strategic knowledge across the business for all products. To test Columbia's new fast LCA model, they submitted data on two different parts of the business: the beverage business in China and the snack business in Brazil.

What makes this story interesting is what PepsiCo can do with the information at the product and business unit level — and it's not to get an exact number of grams of carbon per bag of chips, which is fairly meaningless to consumers anyway. The real goal here is to pose "what ifs" and find the quickest, most profitable way to reduce impacts and improve efficiency.

These execs want to ask questions such as, "If we reduce packaging in one product, what does that do for other products that use the same packaging elements? What do we save in carbon, material, and money?" They've begun this process, but it's still the early days. Over the next year, I hope to report on some operational changes that were made and measured.

A final thought on what's required to make this happen: To avoid the old "garbage in, garbage out" problem, you need good data. PepsiCo knows a lot about its business — from the precise formulations of every product (to estimate supply chain impacts) to the exact production rates for each facility (to accurately allocate energy use for every product). In essence, the innovation here is combining really good, so-called "big data" with really good algorithms.

There's a lot at stake here in dedicating scarce resources well. Getting carbon footprints right is a critical step on the path to healthy brands, higher profits, and a livable planet for all of us.

More blog posts by Andrew Winston

More on: Operations, Product development, Sustainability

Anonymous
#557578

10 Reasons to Stay in a Job for 10 Years

by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott | 2:00 PM October 18, 2012

Comments (22)

When we looked at the newest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released in mid-September, what we found was quite alarming.

As of January 2012, the median time that wage and salary workers in the U.S. had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years. Other recent data points are equally disturbing: The staffing company Randstad says that 40% of employees are planning to look for a new job within the next six months. Another survey notes that 69% of employees are already at least passively shopping for new job opportunities via social media today.

Clearly, statistics show the majority of employees at every level are unhappy enough in their current positions to be actively or at least passively considering new jobs.

As business owners, we have big incentives to do all we can to keep our talented people around. But beyond our own motives, we think it's often good for employees to stick around, too. Here are the 10 reasons why we think executives and employees need to think carefully before making a jump:

1. Seniority: Executives who remain at a single company are able to rise in seniority, rather than having to compete for a stronger role at each new company as they go.

2. Leadership Opportunities: With seniority comes the chance to lead others and mentor newcomers through the transition to their new jobs. Executives who build loyal followings are naturally upheld by their teams, rather than having to defend the authority they've been given in a new firm by decree.

3. Stability: If executives are perpetually moving, it's difficult to make long-term plans. A little stability in career and workplace can help them cope more effectively with the stresses that are sure to occur within the rest of their lives.

4. Homeownership and retirement funds: Job hoppers pay a high price in home equity and retirement accounts. Every job change that requires a move will also enact a high transaction cost to change homes, which is never ideal outside of chosen opportunities to move to a more suitable home. Stability is also appealing to banks--lenders look more favorably on prospective borrowers who've held consistent jobs for a minimum of two years, and preferably more. Vesting in 401K and stock option programs is generally badly affected by hops. So while executives think they may gain an advantage by jumping for a sign-on bonus or raise, in the long term, the employees who maximize vesting schedules and maintain their retirement accounts will likely excel.

5. Increased Benefits: Many companies increase paid time off for employees who stay at a job for a certain number of years. Executives who stay can spend more time with their families and achieve more lifestyle goals with the extra time off and the extra stock and retirement savings long-term employment affords.

6. Self-Improvement: Executives who show the resilience to address their weaknesses rather than jumping ship and blaming their discontent on former co-workers and bosses may often be further ahead.

7. Dependability: An executive who is willing to stay the course for 10 or more years (which is typical in Japan and other European countries) demonstrates a level of dependability that companies will generally reward and respect.

8. Flexibility: Most people who stay at a company for a decade or more progress through multiple increasingly challenging roles while they're there. They typically try their hands at a variety of roles to help determine what they're most passionate about. The difference between moving within a company and moving between companies is that executives are able to retain their status and benefits while also being free to experiment and try some new things.

9. Perseverance: It's easy to quit over perceived unfairness or serious challenges. But it shows much stronger character to persevere, to find and enact solutions to problems, repair damage, and to take an active role in turning a situation around. (However, anyone who works in a genuinely toxic corporate environment should absolutely take their leave, as quickly as possible, and move on.)

10. A Say in the Company's Future: An executive can have a positive influence on their company's direction if they're willing to stick with the organization through good times and bad.

This is true for our company, and it's especially true for the opportunity we're beginning right now. Our team had a very direct role in buying ownership of our company back from a former investor in May of 2010. We're in the process right now of granting stock options to nearly half of our employees, and many more will receive shares within the coming six months. Now the employees and management own the company. Stock option ownership is based on behaviors that align with our 7 Non Negotiable principles, which you've heard us mention before.

In essence, we're creating opportunity for our employees to engage as entrepreneurs at every level of the company, without the risks or the drawbacks of founding a startup firm on their own.

We're working hard to give our employees good reason to stay with our company for the very long term, if not for life. We hope and believe we're far from alone. But regardless, given the many solid reasons for staying the course in a single company, shouldn't you take a second look at staying put in your own current job?

More blog posts by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott

Anonymous
#557577

Big Data Hype (and Reality)

by Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro | 3:00 PM October 18, 2012

Comments (4)

The potential of "big data" has been receiving tremendous attention lately, and not just on HBR's site. With interest in the topic growing exponentially, it has been the focus of countless articles and perhaps too many meetings and conferences.

But to the extent that big data will have big impact, it might not be in the classic territory addressed by analytics. Most applications of data mining and analysis have been, at their hearts, attempts to get better at prediction. Decision-makers want to understand the patterns in the past and present in order to anticipate what is most likely to happen in the future. As big data offers unprecedented awareness of phenomena — particularly of consumers' actions and attitudes — will we see much improvement on the predictions of previous-generation methods? Let's look at the evidence so far, in three areas where better prediction of consumer behavior would clearly be valuable.

Film ratings. As a company that thrives when people consume more content, Netflix routinely serves up personalized recommendations to customers based on their feedback on films they've already viewed. This is a prediction challenge; Netflix must venture an informed guess that, if someone gave a certain rating to movie a, they will rate movie b similarly. Famously, five years ago, the company launched a competition to improve on the Cinematch algorithm it had developed over many years. It released a record-large (for 2007) dataset, with about 480,000 anonymized users, 17,770 movies, and user/movie ratings ranging from 1 to 5 (stars). Before the competition, the error of Netflix's own algorithm was about 0.95 (using a root-mean-square error, or RMSE, measure), meaning that its predictions tended to be off by almost a full "star." The Netflix Prize of $1 million would go to the first algorithm to reduce that error by just 10%, to about 0.86.

In just two weeks, several teams had beaten the Netflix algorithm, although by very small amounts, but after that, progress was surprisingly slow. (See the chart.)

Netflix Price Competition Progress

It took about three years before the BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos team managed to win the prize with a score of 0.8567 RMSE. The winning algorithm was a very complex ensemble of many different approaches — so complex that it was never implemented by Netflix. With three years of effort by some of the world's best data mining scientists, the average prediction of how a viewer would rate a film improved by less than 0.1 star.

Customer attrition. Now consider the bane of wireless service providers: the churn in their customer bases. If predictive analytics drawing on big data could accurately point to who in particular was about to jump ship, direct marketing dollars could be efficiently deployed to intervene, perhaps by offering those wavering customers new benefits or discounts. Analysts measure how accurate the list of potential churners is by using a measure called "lift." Let's say, for example, that a wireless provider has a churn rate of 2% per month. If an algorithm can learn indicators of customer defection, and generate a list of the subscribers most likely to leave, and 8% of those subsequently do leave, then this list has a lift of 4 (because the method produced a list with four times more defectors than a random sampling would have). Such a list would be very valuable, given the costs of the marketing and inducements it would save. But still, it is 92% wrong. With the benefit of big data, will marketers get much better prediction accuracy?

A study [pdf] that Brij Masand and I conducted would suggest the answer is no. We looked at some 30 different churn-modeling efforts in banking and telecom, and surprisingly, although the efforts used different data and different modeling algorithms, they had very similar lift curves. The lists of top 1% likely defectors had a typical lift of around 9-11. Lists of top 10% defectors all had a lift of about 3-4. Very similar lift curves have been reported in other work. (See here and here.) All this suggests a limiting factor to prediction accuracy for consumer behavior such as churn.

Web advertising response. Finally, let's turn to the challenge of predicting the click-thru rate (CTR%) of an online ad — clearly a valuable thing to get right, given the sums changing hands in that business. We should exclude search advertising, where the ad is always related to user intent, and focus on the rates for display ads.

The average CTR% for display ads has been reported as low as 0.1-0.2%. Behavioral and targeted advertising have been able to improve on that significantly, with researchers reporting up to seven-fold improvements. But note that a seven-fold improvement from 0.2% amounts to 1.4% — meaning that today's best targeted advertising is ignored 98.6% of the time.

What are we to conclude from these three areas — all of them problems with fine, highly motivated minds focused on them? To me, they suggest that the randomness inherent in human behavior is the limiting factor to consumer modeling success. Marginal gains can perhaps be made thanks to big data, but breakthroughs will be elusive as long as human behavior remains inconsistent, impulsive, dynamic, and subtle.

Activities that are governed by physics and precise laws like the force of gravity can be predicted to an amazing degree. Think of the predictions that allowed NASA's rover Curiosity to shoot a fantastically complex landing and end up only 1.5 miles from its target — after a journey of 350 million miles. But when an activity is driven by consumers' whims, no amount of ingenuity can produce the ability to know what will happen. Predictive analytics can figure out how to land on Mars, but not who will buy a Mars bar.

Big data analytics can improve predictions, but the biggest effects of big data will be in creating wholly new areas. Google, for example, can be considered one of the first successes of big data; the fact of its growth suggests how much value can be produced. While analytics may be a small part of its overall code, Google's ability to target ads based on queries is responsible for over 95% of its revenue. Social networks, too, will rely on big data to grow and prosper. The success of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn social networks depends on their scale, and big data tools and analytics will be required for them to keep growing.

We can expect big data to have transformative effects in other areas, too. Location analytics and location-based services such as foursquare come to mind. So does healthcare, where big data will drive progress in personalized medicine.

Finally, big data will see its biggest and most important application in the realm of artificial intelligence. IBM Watson has beaten the best human players in Jeopardy games. Apple's Siri has been conversing, with some success, with millions of people. Google has made significant steps towards AI with its Knowledge Graph. Google Now — Google's answer to Siri — can learn from user behavior to anticipate its users' requests. By 2020, all of these will be vastly more capable thanks to the growing ability to make sense of big data and learn.

So you should expect big data to have big impact. And you can bet that it will help machines interact more usefully with our unstructured, changing, and sometimes downright confused human ways. But if you're counting on it to make people much more predictable, you're expecting too much.

More blog posts by Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro

Anonymous
#557568

Why Big Bird Remains Powerfully — and Globally — Significant

by Anne Kreamer | 9:00 AM October 19, 2012

Comments (0)

Big Bird has had a big presence in the collective conversation lately, thanks to mentions in the first two presidential debates. The outpouring of support for the giant yellow puppet that followed the first debate is a testament to his and Sesame Street's continued relevance in people's lives. Sesame Street, in fact, is a great case study of a brand that has managed to remain powerful over decades and across cultures.

In the 1980s, I was part of the team that sold Sesame Street around the world — either licensed and broadcast in English or in locally adapted indigenous-language co-productions. Long before "think global, act local" was the conventional wisdom for how corporations should operate in the international interconnected marketplace, we at Children's Television Workshop (CTW), as it was known then, pioneered the development of a flexible global brand. Our approach to programming was to maintain the values, look and feel of the parent company and its main product, Sesame Street — carefully crafted live-action and animation and puppetry segments, woven together with a curriculum designed by educators, writers, producers and artists to help pre-school kids learn basic cognitive skills, to appreciate cultural diversity, and to achieve broader goals, like learning how to handle conflict. At the same time, we wanted to enable our co-producing partners to work with local educators, writers, and producers to craft the specific early childhood educational goals unique to their own countries. For example, in those early co-productions, the North American urban street of the original series was replaced by a plaza in Latin America, a strassa in Germany, or a rue in France. And those international stageset streets were populated by original puppet characters — parrots, hedgehogs, bears, and camels characteristic of the region and created by local producers.

Today — 44 years into Sesame Street's run — the program airs in 146 countries, with 23 co-productions in places as politically and culturally complex as South Africa and Afghanistan. I was curious to see how Sesame Workshop had continued to grow its operations over the years while remaining true to its mission to improve the lives of kids. I called Shari Rosenfeld, Vice President in Sesame Workshop's Global Education department. As a case study, she pointed to a venture launched in India in 2006 — Galli Galli Sim Sim — to identify a few of the key drivers for how they've remained a relevant, dynamic global brand:

Identifying The Country-Specific Critical Needs First

"According to the McKinsey Global Institute's "bird of gold" index, India is entering a period of sustained, but unequal, economic growth with 161.1 million (or 67% of its population) gaining access to mass media. That leaves 33% of the country with limited access to mass media and educational opportunities. And while school enrollment is at an all-time high, UNICEF has reported that the educational system is "inadequately developed." "The scale of this underserved market, coupled with Sesame Workshop's 40 years of expertise in partnering with local educational and programming experts, created an important opportunity," said, Rosenfeld, "for us to meet critical needs on an unprecedented scale, while at the same time building toward a future that would allow our work in India to be financially sustainable."

Being Willing To Try New Operating Models

According to Rosenfeld, "unlike most of the other markets in which we co-produce, Sesame Street had never been broadcast in India. The fact that our audience had zero prior exposure to the brand created both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge was that we couldn't trade on our global brand equity and iconic characters; at the same time, the lack of familiarity with the brand gave us greater latitude in creating a local interpretation of the Sesame experiences. That, combined with the enormous potential for large-scale impact, was a key driver in thinking through a new operational model in India. As always, we built a strong coalition of partners including broadcasters, educators, production companies, foundations, and corporations, but rather than manage the operation from New York, we decided to embark on a new path that would evolve our approach from 'project management' to 'social entrepreneurship,' by building a new 30-person organization from the ground up."

Embracing New And Multiple Means Of Distribution

The limited access to broadcast technology (among the targeted 33% underserved target population) has spurred the Galli Galli Sim Sim team to learn from the market, improving and evolving content to maximize distribution. Rosenfeld says they've piloted the delivery of content through mobile phones, including teacher-training videos which are on pre-loaded sim cards. SWI has created community radio with call in from parents and educators, and "Radiophone," which delivers radio episodes via mobile phones. Outreach materials in 9 local languages on topics as diverse as health, nutrition, financial literacy and school readiness have been distributed to millions of children throughout India. And more than 200 television episodes have been broadcast on India's national broadcaster, Doordarshan, and on Pogo and Cartoon Channel, India's destination channels for young kids.

Propagating Lessons Learned Internally

The Sesame Workshop India (SWI) enterprise has created a hub for the exchange of ideas and expertise for the region. Rosenfeld describes how members of the Afghanistan and Indonesian teams have attended content and production workshops conducted by the Galli Galli Sim Sim team in conjunction with select personnel from Sesame in New York. "Sesame Workshop India's outreach team has worked on location in Nigeria and Indonesia, supporting local efforts to develop outreach initiatives and explore new business models; having our partners recognize the value of each other's expertise and share their original content keeps all of us more nimble and engaged," she says. The benefit of this shared learning is invaluable across all of their efforts — encouraging a kind of permeable membrane of growth and innovation throughout the entire organization — domestic and international.

Taking The Long View

"With SWI, Rosenfeld adds, "Sesame Workshop has extended the horizon line for success by creating long-term development plans that are building toward a base of diversified revenue sources, forging mass distribution through government-run preschools and cultivating a culture of innovation that pilots new content that reaches children across socio-economic and the urban/rural divide. The entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes SWI is born from the latitude to develop new enterprises, like launching a pre-school [classroom] business through a new franchise model, that will not only deliver on core educational objectives, but will also serve as a critical revenue stream necessary to cross-subsidize other work."

* * *

The creators and distributors of Sesame Street were successfully pursuing an aggressive global strategy 30 years ago, before "globalization" was a common concept or phrase in America. It has done so by being clear and steadfast about its essential brand values while also seeking to understand deeply and flexibly adapt to local conditions and norms. It is an important model for 21st century companies as they seek to be relevant in an international marketplace, where being a successful American brand is not in and of itself a guarantee of global success.

More blog posts by Anne Kreamer

More on: Branding, Marketing

Anonymous
#557555

Why Big Bird Remains Powerfully — and Globally — Significant

by Anne Kreamer | 9:00 AM October 19, 2012

Comments (0)

Big Bird has had a big presence in the collective conversation lately, thanks to mentions in the first two presidential debates. The outpouring of support for the giant yellow puppet that followed the first debate is a testament to his and Sesame Street's continued relevance in people's lives. Sesame Street, in fact, is a great case study of a brand that has managed to remain powerful over decades and across cultures.

In the 1980s, I was part of the team that sold Sesame Street around the world — either licensed and broadcast in English or in locally adapted indigenous-language co-productions. Long before "think global, act local" was the conventional wisdom for how corporations should operate in the international interconnected marketplace, we at Children's Television Workshop (CTW), as it was known then, pioneered the development of a flexible global brand. Our approach to programming was to maintain the values, look and feel of the parent company and its main product, Sesame Street — carefully crafted live-action and animation and puppetry segments, woven together with a curriculum designed by educators, writers, producers and artists to help pre-school kids learn basic cognitive skills, to appreciate cultural diversity, and to achieve broader goals, like learning how to handle conflict. At the same time, we wanted to enable our co-producing partners to work with local educators, writers, and producers to craft the specific early childhood educational goals unique to their own countries. For example, in those early co-productions, the North American urban street of the original series was replaced by a plaza in Latin America, a strassa in Germany, or a rue in France. And those international stageset streets were populated by original puppet characters — parrots, hedgehogs, bears, and camels characteristic of the region and created by local producers.

Today — 44 years into Sesame Street's run — the program airs in 146 countries, with 23 co-productions in places as politically and culturally complex as South Africa and Afghanistan. I was curious to see how Sesame Workshop had continued to grow its operations over the years while remaining true to its mission to improve the lives of kids. I called Shari Rosenfeld, Vice President in Sesame Workshop's Global Education department. As a case study, she pointed to a venture launched in India in 2006 — Galli Galli Sim Sim — to identify a few of the key drivers for how they've remained a relevant, dynamic global brand:

Identifying The Country-Specific Critical Needs First

"According to the McKinsey Global Institute's "bird of gold" index, India is entering a period of sustained, but unequal, economic growth with 161.1 million (or 67% of its population) gaining access to mass media. That leaves 33% of the country with limited access to mass media and educational opportunities. And while school enrollment is at an all-time high, UNICEF has reported that the educational system is "inadequately developed." "The scale of this underserved market, coupled with Sesame Workshop's 40 years of expertise in partnering with local educational and programming experts, created an important opportunity," said, Rosenfeld, "for us to meet critical needs on an unprecedented scale, while at the same time building toward a future that would allow our work in India to be financially sustainable."

Being Willing To Try New Operating Models

According to Rosenfeld, "unlike most of the other markets in which we co-produce, Sesame Street had never been broadcast in India. The fact that our audience had zero prior exposure to the brand created both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge was that we couldn't trade on our global brand equity and iconic characters; at the same time, the lack of familiarity with the brand gave us greater latitude in creating a local interpretation of the Sesame experiences. That, combined with the enormous potential for large-scale impact, was a key driver in thinking through a new operational model in India. As always, we built a strong coalition of partners including broadcasters, educators, production companies, foundations, and corporations, but rather than manage the operation from New York, we decided to embark on a new path that would evolve our approach from 'project management' to 'social entrepreneurship,' by building a new 30-person organization from the ground up."

Embracing New And Multiple Means Of Distribution

The limited access to broadcast technology (among the targeted 33% underserved target population) has spurred the Galli Galli Sim Sim team to learn from the market, improving and evolving content to maximize distribution. Rosenfeld says they've piloted the delivery of content through mobile phones, including teacher-training videos which are on pre-loaded sim cards. SWI has created community radio with call in from parents and educators, and "Radiophone," which delivers radio episodes via mobile phones. Outreach materials in 9 local languages on topics as diverse as health, nutrition, financial literacy and school readiness have been distributed to millions of children throughout India. And more than 200 television episodes have been broadcast on India's national broadcaster, Doordarshan, and on Pogo and Cartoon Channel, India's destination channels for young kids.

Propagating Lessons Learned Internally

The Sesame Workshop India (SWI) enterprise has created a hub for the exchange of ideas and expertise for the region. Rosenfeld describes how members of the Afghanistan and Indonesian teams have attended content and production workshops conducted by the Galli Galli Sim Sim team in conjunction with select personnel from Sesame in New York. "Sesame Workshop India's outreach team has worked on location in Nigeria and Indonesia, supporting local efforts to develop outreach initiatives and explore new business models; having our partners recognize the value of each other's expertise and share their original content keeps all of us more nimble and engaged," she says. The benefit of this shared learning is invaluable across all of their efforts — encouraging a kind of permeable membrane of growth and innovation throughout the entire organization — domestic and international.

Taking The Long View

"With SWI, Rosenfeld adds, "Sesame Workshop has extended the horizon line for success by creating long-term development plans that are building toward a base of diversified revenue sources, forging mass distribution through government-run preschools and cultivating a culture of innovation that pilots new content that reaches children across socio-economic and the urban/rural divide. The entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes SWI is born from the latitude to develop new enterprises, like launching a pre-school [classroom] business through a new franchise model, that will not only deliver on core educational objectives, but will also serve as a critical revenue stream necessary to cross-subsidize other work."

* * *

The creators and distributors of Sesame Street were successfully pursuing an aggressive global strategy 30 years ago, before "globalization" was a common concept or phrase in America. It has done so by being clear and steadfast about its essential brand values while also seeking to understand deeply and flexibly adapt to local conditions and norms. It is an important model for 21st century companies as they seek to be relevant in an international marketplace, where being a successful American brand is not in and of itself a guarantee of global success.

More blog posts by Anne Kreamer

More on: Branding, Marketing

Anonymous
#557553

When Success is Born Out of Serendipity

by Frans Johansson | 10:00 AM October 19, 2012

Comments (7)

Eight years ago I published a book, The Medici Effect, that examines how and why groundbreaking ideas occur at the intersection of different cultures, industries, and disciplines. The book did quite well — it has been translated into 18 languages at this point, become part of the ongoing innovation dialogue, allowed me to present ideas to executives across the world, and to build a unique consulting firm with clients on six continents. So, not surprisingly, I frequently get asked just how I did it.

In response, I usually tell the following story. Once the book had been written, I had to market it. The obvious targets were people in the field of innovation — those working in strategy, R&D, business development, and entrepreneurship. But there are a lot of thought-leaders competing for the attention of that audience. Around the same time that my book came out, so did at least another 15 new books on innovation. My own publisher, HBS Press, published two the very same month as my book — one of them co-authored by heavyweight Clay Christensen. Just getting noticed in this avalanche of concepts and personalities was a challenge. How could a first-time author — not to mention one only two years out of business school — stand out?

One evening, my fiancée (now wife!) came home from her job as a diversity consultant at JP Morgan Chase. We talked frequently about both my book and her work, but had never really made a connection between them. On this day, though, she had just been asked to describe the "business-case for diversity" for her firm. What, they asked her, was the most powerful argument for promoting diversity — outside of ethical and legal ones? As we talked, she realized that the ideas in my book were exactly what she was looking for.

"You say that diverse perspectives drive innovation — whether those diverse perspectives come from different industries, cultures, fields or gender and so on," my fiancée told me. That, she suggested, was pretty much the most compelling business case for diversity. "I honestly think people would want to hear about it." She was right. Before I knew it I was presenting the ideas in my book to Steve Black, who at the time headed up investment banking at JP Morgan Chase.

That single conversation changed everything for me. Suddenly, chief diversity officers in corporations around the US started inviting me to speak to their CEOs on how to drive innovation through diversity. In many cases it dramatically changed how a company thought about both diversity and innovation. And, since innovation was on everyone's mind, I was soon also working with chief innovation officers and heads of strategy, business development, and emerging markets — anything that required innovation. The demand for my ideas surged and soon went global. The interest took me completely by surprise.

Then one evening, at a client dinner, a strategy executive sitting next to me leaned over and said, "Your side-door strategy has been nothing short of brilliant." I honestly had no idea what he was talking about and had to ask him what he meant. "Well," he said, "instead of going directly to chief innovation officers, heads of strategy or R&D folks, you targeted chief diversity officers," he told me. "And through them you got to people like me." He was dead serious. "Your strategy," he said, "was to knock on the one door that other innovation thinkers did not."

A side-door strategy, I thought. It even had a name. To an outsider this must, indeed, have seemed like a brilliant approach. I knew better, of course. I would be hard-pressed to call my side-door strategy anything but plain luck. Without the moment of realization between my fiancée and myself I might still be fighting hard to connect with innovation officers through the usual channels — along with hundreds of other authors and thinkers. What had seemed like a brilliant strategy was actually a moment of serendipity.

This realization soon led to another question. What if this was the case everywhere? What if all of the well-planned and well-executed "strategies" people have told us about are really the result of unplanned meetings and encounters, random moments and events, serendipity and plain luck? What if the stories behind companies such as Microsoft or Nokia or Starbucks or the stories behind world-famous authors, index-destroying investors and breakthrough scientists had a lot more to do with randomness than we think? What if success or failure is just one unexpected moment away?

Sure enough, serendipity often is the story. By the end of the '80s, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had realized, through rigorous analysis, that Microsoft needed to abandon its still-struggling new operation system, Windows, because of a memory flaw. They partnered up with IBM to develop OS/2, and decimated the Windows team. But a serendipitous, seemingly insignificant, meeting at a party on the Redmond campus between two people, David Weise and Murray Sargent (a non-employee stopping over en route to Germany) led to a teasing joke. That joke suggested a solution to Windows' problem, and within the hour Weise and Sargent were sitting down to solve the flaw and fundamentally alter Microsoft's future. Roughly nine months into Google's existence, Sergei Brin and Larry Page realized they needed to choose between their company and their PhD work at Stanford. They decided to pursue their doctorates, and offered their search engine to Yahoo for $1 million. Yahoo declined (as did others). Lucky thing, that. And in 2004 Paolo Pellegrini, a VP at the investment bank Lazard Freres, was fired — then took on a low-level position at a hedge fund after a lucky phone call. The desperate-to-prove-himself banker found a chart that showed how the housing market was overpriced. His boss, John Paulson, bet large and made $15 billion in a year. "I love that chart," Paulson would keep saying — but has proved unable to find more of them.

Our mind abhors these serendipitous explanations, and searches for convenient patterns instead. Ask for the keys to career success and you'll get logical explanations, recommendations, pathways and approaches. Then ask someone how he or she became successful and suddenly it becomes a story of serendipitous encounters, unexpected changes in plans, and random consequences. It does not make sense to ignore this basic fact about success any longer.

We like to think that success comes from predicting trends, analyzing data, gaming out strategies — from using some sort of logical approach. But if it was that simple we should have solved the mystery of success long time ago — and we haven't. Instead serendipity is what sets us apart — since that is the only way we can discover an approach that is not obvious or logical.

So be open to serendipity, in your organization and in your life. You can take steps to increase the chances of it, too. For instance, bring together people from outside your organization, or between siloed departments or between different countries or cultures. These interactions will help you find unexpected insights and opportunities — those that others might not have logically figured out. Take statistical advantage of these random moments by placing as many purposeful bets you can afford while not becoming distracted. Angry Birds was the game-maker Rovio's 52nd game. You have probably not heard of their 51 earlier ones. If you tried 52 times at anything you would probably have a decent chance at finding something that helped you stand apart, too!

Your organization, career, even life can change in a single moment. Make sure to seize it.

(Editor's note: For more on Frans Johansson's new book, The Click Moment, see "Unleash Your Inner Odysseus" in the October 2012 HBR.)

More blog posts by Frans Johansson

More on: Career planning, Managing uncertainty, Managing yourself

Anonymous
#552737

All the facts are true.

They are totally fool people.

Never join this company.

Anonymous
#501356

9. Written by hyk on June 24, 2012 From Phoenix, Arizona, US

The Discipline of Listening

by Ram Charan | 1:17 PM June 21, 2012

Comments (62)

As the up-and-coming vice president and CEO candidate for a Fortune 500 technology corporation sat before the CEO for his annual review, he was baffled to discover that the feedback from his peers, customers, direct reports, and particularly from board members placed unusual emphasis on one potentially devastating problem: his listening deficit. This executive was widely considered among the best and brightest in his company, but it was evident that this issue needed immediate attention if he ever hoped to advance to the top spot.

He wasn't alone in that regard. My knowledge of corporate leaders' 360-degree feedback indicates that one out of four of them has a listening deficit—the effects of which can paralyze cross-unit collaboration, sink careers, and if it's the CEO with the deficit, derail the company. But this doesn't have to be the case. Despite today's fast-paced business environment, time-starved leaders can master the art of disciplined listening. Conventional advice for better listening is to be emotionally intelligent and available. However, truly good listening requires far more than that. As you move toward truly empathetic listening, consider these tips:

Pan for the nuggets. I saw how Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell, did this. Sitting down with a business unit leader presenting him with information about a $300 million dollar technical investment opportunity, Bossidy divided a sheet of paper about three-quarters across. On the larger left side of the paper, he scribbled detailed notes; on the smaller right side, he occasionally jotted down two or three words, capturing what he perceived to be the key insights and issues being brought to his attention. It was a simple technique that disciplined him to listen intently for the important content and focus follow-up questions on points that really mattered. Whether or not this is your method, you should train yourself to sift for the nuggets in a conversation. Then let the other person know that they were understood by probing, clarifying, or further shaping those thoughts. The benefits of this go beyond ensuring that you heard it right: first, the person on the other end of the conversation will be gratified that you are truly grasping the essence of their thoughts and ideas; second, this gratification will motivate and energize them to create more thoughts and solutions. Listening opens the door to truly connecting and is the gateway to building relationships and capability.

Consider the Source. When working with peers, in and across teams, work to understand each person's frame of reference—where they are coming from. This is extremely important when disagreements arise. When you truly understand the perspective of others, you are most likely to reach productive solutions; further, all the participants will feel heard, whether their solution is adopted or not. Even better, it's likely that the solution will not turn out to be one that was brought to the table by any one party; it will be a new approach crafted in the conversational environment you created. Active listening and probing (with humility, not aggression) energizes groups, encourages them to reach consensus, and helps them arrive at new and better solutions.

Consider Ivan Seidenberg, who rose to become Chairman and CEO of Verizon. Earlier in his career, as a business unit manager, he recognized that he must cut costs. But his division's operations department was adamant it could not be done given the tremendous complexity of its processes. Seidenberg understood their frame of reference, which was that they were in favor of simplification, but couldn't achieve it without the collaboration of the product departments. Seidenberg got the two sides to collaborate and much better solutions were found. Not only were costs cut, but operations became more focused and simplified.

Prime the Pump. After GE achieved its goal of being first or second in several of its businesses with exceptional margins, then-CEO Jack Welch faced the challenge of how to spur continued growth. He actively listened to a Business Management Course team at GE's Crotonville learning center. They suggested that, if a GE business had become the biggest fish in its pond, it was thinking about the pond too narrowly. The definition of the market needed to be changed based on an expanded understanding of its customers' needs. As business unit managers prepared their next round of strategy presentations for the Chairman, Welch told them all to redefine their market in such a way that their share was less than 10 percent. This released GE managers' energy to grow their businesses with new ideas. One of those ideas was to grow the services businesses across GE. Today, GE has a $200 billion backlog in its services business.

Anonymous
#501355

Make a Good Impression in 30 Seconds

by Ron Ashkenas | 12:52 PM February 6, 2012

Comments (51)

This post was co-authored with Holly Newman.

Here in the U.S., the Super Bowl this weekend showed us the power of 30-second advertisements, and how influential they can be in promoting a company's awareness. But how often do we craft our own 30-second spots with audiences that we want to influence?

Most of us are not in the business of making TV commercials, but in conversations there is almost always a 30-second moment that can make the meeting memorable.

Malcolm Gladwell touches on this phenomenon in his book, Blink. He talks about "thin-slicing," or "the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience." He explains how too much information can cloud an individual's ability to accurately analyze a situation, and how "in good decision making, frugality matters." In other words, mini-impressions do count. And although you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you do get many chances to make the next impression.

So how do you turn your moment into an award-winning spot? Let's look to advertisers for guidance:

Capture your audience's attention. Think about one of your favorite commercials (or you can pick one from the game). Which part of that commercial stays with you? What technique did the advertiser use to draw you in — humor, aesthetics, emotions, surprise, or something else? Think about how you could incorporate that technique into your next important conversation.

Convey a clear message. Consider the key message for the target audience. What did the company try to convey, and how did the advertiser use that to connect with viewers? How did they frame the message to make this point? Now, think about your own messaging — what is the most critical takeaway you would like your viewers to receive? How might you deliver your message to ensure your audience walks away with this understanding?

Focus on differentiation. Think about what distinguishes your advertiser from the rest. How did the company use the commercial to portray its unique brand? Think about the same for yourself: What sets you apart from others? How can you highlight your distinctive qualities?

When you combine these three elements, you've got the potential for an influential "spot." The key is having these components ready so that you can recall them when needed. For example, the best salespeople are always prepared to connect with potential customers who say that they don't have time to talk. Similarly, the best leaders often are not those who speak the longest or the loudest, but those who convey their ideas in a memorable way, and can do it over and over again.

Our world is filled with noise, information, and distractions; so having someone's undivided attention — even for 30 seconds — is an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted. If you can use those 30 seconds to capture their attention, deliver your message, and distinguish yourself from others, you're likely to be heard, understood, and remembered. What sponsor wouldn't want that?

Anonymous
#501354

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything

by Tony Schwartz | 2:21 PM August 24, 2010

Comments (232)

I've been playing tennis for nearly five decades. I love the game and I hit the ball well, but I'm far from the player I wish I were.

I've been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks, because I've taken the opportunity, for the first time in many years, to play tennis nearly every day. My game has gotten progressively stronger. I've had a number of rapturous moments during which I've played like the player I long to be.

And almost certainly could be, even though I'm 58 years old. Until recently, I never believed that was possible. For most of my adult life, I've accepted the incredibly durable myth that some people are born with special talents and gifts, and that the potential to truly excel in any given pursuit is largely determined by our genetic inheritance.

During the past year, I've read no fewer than five books — and a raft of scientific research — which powerfully challenge that assumption (see below for a list). I've also written one, The Way We're Working Isn't Working, which lays out a guide, grounded in the science of high performance, to systematically building your capacity physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

We've found, in our work with executives at dozens of organizations, that it's possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest. Aristotle Will Durant*, commenting on Aristotle, pointed out that the philosopher had it exactly right 2000 years ago: "We are what we repeatedly do." By relying on highly specific practices, we've seen our clients dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, to deeply relaxing.

Like everyone who studies performance, I'm indebted to the extraordinary Anders Ericsson, arguably the world's leading researcher into high performance. For more than two decades, Ericsson has been making the case that it's not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we're willing to work — something he calls "deliberate practice." Numerous researchers now agree that 10,000 hours of such practice is the minimum necessary to achieve expertise in any complex domain.

That notion is wonderfully empowering. It suggests we have remarkable capacity to influence our own outcomes. But that's also daunting. One of Ericsson's central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient in achieving excellence, but also the most difficult and the least intrinsically enjoyable.

If you want to be really good at something, it's going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, as well as frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That's true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you've earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we've found are most effective for our clients:

Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.

Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.

Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

I have practiced tennis deliberately over the years, but never for the several hours a day required to achieve a truly high level of excellence. What's changed is that I don't berate myself any longer for falling short. I know exactly what it would take to get to that level.

I've got too many other higher priorities to give tennis that attention right now. But I find it incredibly exciting to know that I'm still capable of getting far better at tennis — or at anything else — and so are you.

Here are the recent books on this subject:

Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin. My personal favorite.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

The Genius in All of Us by David Schenk.

Bounce by Mathew Syed

* Thanks to commenter Rick Thomas for pointing out the misattribution.

Tony Schwartz is president and CEO of The Energy Project. He is the author of the June, 2010 HBR article, "The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less," and coauthor, with Catherine McCarthy, of the 2007 HBR article, "Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time." Tony is also the author of the new book "The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs that Energize Great Performance" (Free Press, 2010).

Anonymous
#501353

A Beekeeper's Perspective on Risk

by Michael O'Malley | 10:09 AM June 20, 2012

Comments (20)

A decade ago, I embarked on a new hobby — one that many more people have taken up in the meantime. I became a beekeeper. At the same time, I became a bee observer. Like Sherlock Holmes (in His Last Bow), I spent many pensive nights and laborious days watching the little working gangs.

What I didn't expect was to learn lessons about organizational strategy and behavior that would inform my work as a human capital consultant. Professionally, I help large businesses manage risk by focusing on how their recruiting, compensation, training, and other systems encourage people to behave. What I came to recognize was that beehives were organizations that naturally got things right. The honeybee colonies I was cultivating were structured for consistent long-term growth and the prevention of severe loss due to unpredictable environmental surprises. Bees are masters at risk management.

Take, for example, their approach toward the "too-big-to-fail" risk our financial sector famously took on. Honeybees have a failsafe preventive for that. It's: "Don't get too big." Hives grow through successive divestures or spin-offs: They swarm. When a colony gets too large, it becomes operationally unwieldy and grossly inefficient and the hive splits. Eventually, risk is spread across many hives and revenue sources in contrast to relying on one big, vulnerable "super-hive" for sustenance.

Here's another lesson by analogy: No queen bee is under pressure for quarterly pollen and nectar targets. The hive is only beholden to the long term. Indeed, beehives appear to underperform at times because they could collect more. But they are not designed to maximize current returns; they are designed to prevent cycles of feast and famine (a death sentence in the natural world). They concentrate their foraging on the most lucrative patches but keep an exploratory force in the field that will ensure future revenue sources when the current ones run dry. This exploratory force (call it an R&D expenditure) increases as conditions worsen.

Distributed decision-making is another honeybee strategy for mitigating risk. Individual bees make decisions based on local cues and information, making the beehive perhaps the original empowered organization. In contrast to stodgy centralized systems, bees are able to make high-quality, relatively quick choices through distributed authority because the colony has mechanisms in place that reinforce sound judgments and execution. The competence of the individuals, for example, is assured by a disciplined career development program. By the time bees are sent into the field, they are prepared—and, even then, novice foragers are frequently accompanied by veterans who show them how to efficiently and productively move among, and work, the flowers. Knowledge management is also essential. Bees have a great communication system by which the good incoming information is always overwhelming the bad and is on constant display for the bees to see. Thus, individual workers have access to an accurate, up-to-date depiction of the real world.

Risk is also tempered by diversity in a beehive. When making big decisions, bees use a process that is similar to the Delphi technique: They assemble multiple viable options that they present to other bees to vote on independently and iteratively until a quorum is reached. As the Marquis de Condorcet showed (in the collective wisdom proof), good, unbiased decisions are made if a solution space is well sampled and the final judgment is determined by independent decision-makers. One of the attributes that determines the range of options that bees ultimately consider is genetic diversity. The greater the diversity in the bees' DNA, the more sensitive they are to different conditions and circumstances, and the more options the hive is able to gather. More diverse hives are better at everything and more productive than less diverse ones.

Finally, bees choose the mistakes they will make, and are careful to make the right ones. The future is as unknowable for them as it is for us. A share of failure is inevitable. Sometimes, however, if you know you might be wrong, you can decide how to be wrong. For example, it is energy- and resource-costly for bees to build comb, and they don't want to manufacture it if they aren't going to use it. At the same time, they don't want to under-build and miss a life-saving opportunity to store honey. To strike the right balance between these potential errors, honeybees use a sliding rule (with respect to empty comb cells) that guides them toward the least bad mistake: "We will only over-build if conditions are good and nectar is flowing and we will only under-build if times are tough and nectar influx is marginal." These errors are better than the alternatives. The bees consider the worst that can happen no matter how improbable and protect themselves against that eventuality.

Should we try to build these features more fully into human organizations? No analogy is perfect, but the logic is hard to argue with. Honeybees have institutionalized procedures that prevent catastrophic loss, and their record of accomplishment is stunning: more than 100 million years of productivity and growth. Note, too, that no one needs to regulate the hives to keep them from taking on irresponsible risk—behaviors like these keep them self-regulating.

Companies differ enough from hives that we'll probably never be able to do without regulation. But managing for practical scale, long-term success, distributed decision-making, diversity, and least-worst outcomes may be the best hope for keeping organizations healthy. It is the wrong impulse to put a damper on all the risk-taking that produces value. By adopting the kinds of features that keep bees venturing productively, but never gambling catastrophically, businesses might avoid heavy-handed regulation, and everyone will be better served.

Anonymous
#501352

A Health Mandate That Business Can Live With

by Darrell Moon | 1:39 PM June 21, 2012

Comments (28)

Whether President Obama's health reform law lives or dies after next week's Supreme Court decision, it won't alter the dire fact that employee health costs have exploded to become the third-largest expense in business today, undermining the financial health of thousands of companies.

Until now, most businesses have tried to deal with their surging health costs in one of two ways. About 22 percent of firms in the U.S. have reduced employee benefits. Another 20 percent have increased the employee's share of the premium costs. But neither denial of benefits nor cost-shifting has slowed the upward spiral of employee health costs.

There is a way, however, to get health costs under control without denying benefits or making employees pay more. But it requires that employers stop the practice of handing out unlimited health benefits with no strings attached.

Instead, they must embrace a health mandate of a different sort — one that holds everyone accountable for their health-related behaviors, from the CEO on down. Once they do that, the evidence shows that they will get healthier employees and a healthier bottom line.

That's because the declining health of the American worker is at the core of the health care expense burden. As one recent study found, an astonishing 86 percent of all full-time employees in the U.S. — that's six of every seven workers — are now either overweight or have a chronic (but usually preventable) health condition. And as the health of employees keep declining, their employer-paid health premiums keep rising — 113 percent just since 2001, in fact — and productivity plummets. According to a report from the Milken Institute, direct medical costs combined with ill health-induced absenteeism and "presenteeism" — which is when employees manage to show up for work but are less productive — costs American businesses more than $1.3 trillion per year. That's right, trillion!

And 70 percent of that cost, notes the Milken study, is totally preventable. It has been proven that wellness programs can reduce employee health risks considerably. A 2010 study by Harvard health economist Katherine Baicker — hers is considered the gold standard in measuring wellness return on investment — found that for every dollar spent on wellness, "medical costs fall by about $3.27 ... and absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73."

Some accountability-based wellness programs deliver even bigger savings to businesses. In these, employees willing to take responsibility for their health-related lifestyles pay a much-reduced contribution toward their premium, often half that paid by non-participants. Those found to have biometric readings indicating significant health risks must then work with a health coach to at least try to reduce those risks in order to keep receiving the lower premium. These programs are completely voluntary, and no one is penalized for being unhealthy. They are simply rewarded for trying to reduce those risks, unless their doctors advise against it.

It turns out that even small improvements in an employee's biometric readings make for huge reductions in health claims costs. A recent study we conducted of four mid-size employers with accountability-based wellness programs found that the total annual paid claims of wellness participants dropped to $2,269 compared with $6,187 for non-participants.

This despite the fact that 68 percent of workers in these programs started out with significant health risks, which is fairly representative of the percentage with health risks among the general population. Yet emergency room claims, pharmacy claims, hospital claims — all showed a sharp drop among wellness participants versus a steady rise among non-participants.

Now that's a health mandate business can live with!

As we await next week's Supreme Court ruling, we would do well to remember that despite all the political debate in Washington over "Obamacare," the real battle over the future of health care is being waged out in the marketplace, in the world of business.

As, in fact, most such policy battles usually are.

Anonymous
#501350

Gender in the Multicultural Corporation

by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox | 9:34 AM June 22, 2012

Comments (3)

When Paul Bulcke was appointed CEO of global food giant Nestle in 2008, he put the issue of women and gender at the top of his Executive Committee's agenda. He saw gender balance as a lever for accomplishing his broader goals of making Nestle a more flexible, and modern corporation

Until his appointment, Nestle had done very little on the topic. The reality of the company's statistics was not something to be proud of. Although Nestle's consumers and "shoppers," as they are referred to, were about 80% female, only 3% of managers in the company's leadership pipeline were women.

This gender imbalance contrasted oddly with the company's record on cultural balance. Nestle is based in the little town of Vevey, perched on the shore of Lake Geneva and surrounded by snow-capped Alps. Nothing could look more Swiss. Yet the all-male leadership team had only a single Swiss national. The rest of the team was a mix of nationalities, and managers who had lived their lives in a number of different countries, with no official 'home country' at all.

Paul Bulcke put the issue of gender balance as a top priority on his senior management's agenda. "As a multinational company," he said, "we enforce culture balance to reflect the mix in our turnover. We must have the same philosophy on gender. Today the world is gender balancing; we must as well."

Bulcke communicated about gender balance regularly at management events and conferences, included it in the formal management action planning processes, and began the journey of setting 'gender balance' as a basic Nestle value for the future. He produced a video, along with a few key business leaders, explaining why gender was an important topic for the company and offering his personal take. "It is very important to me that women stay women. Too often I have seen in other companies that women have to become tougher than men in order to succeed. I don't want to see that happen at Nestle."

What Bulcke didn't do was as important as what he did do. He did not, at the outset, set numerical targets and quotas. He did not communicate externally on the issue, recognizing that progress had to be made first internally. And he did not delegate the responsibility and accountability on the topic to a particular person or department, nor ask a woman to lead the charge. He did not frame it as an HR issue, and repeatedly spoke about both the market side of the equation (the majority of Nestle's customers) as well as the talent side of the equation. It was clearly positioned as a management issue that would now be part of Nestle's expectation of managers and leaders and Bulcke took the lead.

I first met Nestle in 2008, shortly after Bulcke came on board. Instead of launching a women's network, we helped the company run a series of strategic debates and action-planning sessions on gender balance. These 'Awareness Sessions' created a new conversation among the male leadership group, and helped to reframe gender as a business issue and an opportunity for the company. We started at the top, with every member of the Executive Board and their own direct teams, and we cascaded across divisions, countries and regions from there. Over 4,000 Nestle managers were involved in the debate and action planning on gender issues.

The focus in the first phase has been on the visible promotion of women to the leadership ranks. This has resulted in an increase in the percentage of women on the teams that run Nestle's country organizations from 15 to 21%. Women head two of Nestle's five global Strategic Business Units. At the corporate level, the group CFO is a woman.

Is Bulcke happy with the progress made? "I think we are doing the right thing, in the right way. My next priority will be to bring more ownership of the topic to ever lower levels of the organization. But we are seeing the idea taking hold, taking on a life of its own."

Nestle is not yet a leader in gender balancing, but they are an innovator. Time will show if its top-down approach will prove effective and more sustainable but very few global companies have so deliberately invested in building this degree of commitment, accountability and awareness at the top. In subsequent blogs I'll report on what the initiative has delivered in the major countries where Nestle has operations.

Anonymous
#501349

Of Clean Toilets and Competitive Economies

by Vinod K. Aggarwal | 2:31 PM June 22, 2012

Comments (14)

The question of how to outcompete others in a given market is not only a concern for firms. At a higher level, governments have long understood that their nations are well served by industries that win in the global marketplace—and have pursued forward-looking industrial policies to help them. Recently I asked a high-level Singapore official how Singapore's companies would be able to compete in a world of countries whose companies have greater access to low-cost labor (as in China) and cutting-edge innovation (as in the U.S.). His response was to ask me: "Have you seen our toilets at Changi Airport?" I said that I had, and that they were spotless. He nodded: "That's our competitive advantage."

What did he mean? How is winning in markets about clean toilets? The point is that getting service processes right is difficult, and not many do it well. Singapore seems to have what it takes to succeed: the right culture to foster human software.

Globalization, generally defined as the movement of goods, services, people, and capital, has brought us to the point where every government should have as clear an answer. If businesses in China can import capital equipment, secure accounting and consulting services, hire the most efficient workers in the country, and secure financing for any project, how then will you compete? Or rather, what is the differentiating factor that makes your goods and services more desirable than your competitors?

It's no secret that a key element of success is to find and exploit an advantage that you hold over others not only locally but globally. But in rich countries, that goal seems to be pursued narrowly. Consultants impress upon firms that they must create novel products or services that incorporate a significant degree of new intellectual property (IP), and then brand them to give their company a competitive edge.

The comment from my Singapore official suggests that IP is not the only or necessarily the best answer to how to compete. Even though lawyers stand ready to help protect your IP, the global reality is that despite the Trade Related Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the cost to actually do so will likely be very high. Of course, this is not to say that trying to develop and protect IP is futile because it will all be stolen. But neither should anyone fall prey to the notion (as more than one Silicon Valley company has) that simply winning a lawsuit will make them successful in the market. Innovation is a continuous dynamic process.

Back to Singapore, and the attention to details that makes its airport so extraordinary. As the official I spoke with noted, the Chinese, Indian, and Thai governments can all build, and have built, bigger airports than Changi. They have the resources to hire the world's top designers and consultants. When it comes to day-to-day operations, however, they just don't compare. As he put it, "our companies, and government, are good at making things work well." The beauty of Singapore's airport is not its architecture or size, but its processes—their efficiency and the ongoing commitment to making them still better. Land in Singapore and by the time you get through immigration (a five-minute process at most in almost every case), your baggage will be waiting for you. This is at the 14th busiest airport in the world.

I suspect that Singapore's answer to how to compete is the right answer, too, for many other nations, whether they are willing to embrace it or not. New product and service invention is a key element of staying competitive in today's global economy, but it is not enough. Neither are all the millions that multinational corporations spend on marketing to cast their products in the most appealing light. Such efforts are necessary, but not sufficient. In globally competitive markets, the notion of "the devil is in the details" becomes essential. Ironically, it may be the minutia that separates those who flourish from those who fail.

The more that details matter, the more an obsession with getting process right becomes the great differentiator. The customer service representative committed to solving a problem, the engineer who makes a computer ever-so-slightly easier to use, and the man who takes pride in keeping the airport bathroom's floor well scrubbed are the secret weapons targeting seemingly inconsequential details that companies (and governments) so often fail to deploy. All the hardware (broadly speaking) in the world cannot ensure a winning edge—you need to get the human software right.

Browse the self-help bookshelf and you will see that the aphorism "Don't sweat the small stuff" has become pervasive. Of course, you can't let every little thing that you confront become a major crisis. But when it comes to competing in markets, it is by focusing on the details, the "small stuff," that most countries stand the best chance to win.

The author would like to thank Sonia Aggarwal for comments.

Anonymous
#501348

Health Care Reform: What's Your Role?

by Robert Shmerling, MD | 10:29 AM July 1, 2009

Comments (17)

So far, almost all of the discussion on health care reform has focused on the providers—government, insurers, doctors, and hospitals—and who will pay to expand coverage to all. But what about you, a consumer of health care? Should you be playing a part in health care reform?

According to Harvard Business School's Michael Porter, the answer is a definite yes. In a recent editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine, he asserts that successful reform is contingent on a system organized around value for patients, and in order for that to work "consumers must become much more involved in their health and health care. Unless patients comply with care and take responsibility for their health, even the best doctor or team will fail."

Current Levels of Engagement

As I think about how consumers might be more engaged in their health care, I consider the vastly different approaches of my patients. Some come to their appointments with a typed list of medical problems, medications they are taking, and questions and concerns, and later e-mail me with progress reports or questions.

Others don't seem particularly interested. At a first meeting with a new patient and his wife, I asked him why he made the appointment. Looking at his wife, he said, "She thought I should see you." It turned out he was having hip pain but hadn't wanted to see a doctor about it, even though he had started limping and it was limiting his activities.

I'm no shining example of how an engaged patient should behave either—and I should know better. I put off dentist appointments, don't stretch much before jogging despite having a bad back, and the last time I was supposed to take 10 days of antibiotics, I barely made it to day seven.

Increasing Involvement

How can people become more involved in their health care? Holding us accountable for our actions and choices would help. Incentives are one way to do this. Discounts could be provided to those who keep track of their blood pressure or who have screening tests as recommended. For people with chronic diseases, such as asthma or diabetes, I can imagine outcome-driven incentives, like forgiving copays for keeping your average blood sugar below a certain value. In some instances, a stick might work better than a carrot: perhaps smokers who don't attend a smoking cessation program will see their insurance premiums increase each month.

Whatever the approach, the only way it can work is if health care consumers buy in to it. They must see the merit in the effort and be given the tools to participate easily (such as home blood sugar or blood pressure monitors).

The Bottom Line

Regardless of what we end up with—a single-payer, government-mandated, employer-supported, value-driven system or something completely different—I agree with Porter: Each of us must take more responsibility for our health than we do now. The question is, how do we do this?

Should good health behaviors be rewarded and bad ones penalized? What kinds of incentives would encourage you to get more involved in your health care?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, is a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Anonymous
#501346

You Don't Need a PhD to Innovate

by Dan Pallotta | 10:52 AM June 22, 2012

Comments (53)

So you're not a nano-technologist. You don't know how to sequence the human genome. You confuse artificial intelligence with posing. Does this mean that you're useless — that you have no place in the 21st-century economy?

Cheer up. You don't have to be Einstein to disrupt paradigms. Well, actually, you do — Einstein himself said that his greatest asset was his imagination, not his knowledge. The point is, if you can think, you can innovate. If you can ask "why?" you can change the world. Let other people do the hard work of figuring out how to make an airplane fly and a TV screen thinner. You can be the one who figures out that putting the TV in everyone's airplane seatback could make for a great new airline. Here are a few examples where a simple twist on an existing paradigm changed everything — often in complicated technological businesses.

Better Planet

The trouble with electric cars is that their range is limited, right? You can't drive cross-country without stopping every 200 miles to recharge the battery — which takes a lot longer than filling a car with gas. Shai Agassi, the Israeli entrepreneur who founded Better Place (profiled by Dan Senor and Saul Singer in their great book, Start-Up Nation), asked, "Why recharge the battery? Why not replace it at a swapping station?" The facility looks like a gas station. But instead of pulling in and filling up, you pull in and a robot swaps out your drained battery for a fully charged one. You don't own a battery, you just rent one every 200 miles. Brilliant. And I predict that the innovation will make the electric car the car of the future. But it would never stand a chance without Shai Agassi's idea.

Menchie's Yogurt

Cold Stone Creamery understood that people like custom-made treats. So their business model is give you exactly what you want. An employee asks you what ice cream flavor and toppings you want, painstakingly measures and scoops everything out, mixes it all together, and then tallies up the cost of everything you selected. It takes five minutes. That means long, discouraging lines. And at $10 an hour for labor, the process adds $1.25 to the cost of the treat. Menchie's Yogurt, now the world's largest self-serve frozen yogurt retailer, asked, "Why not let the customer do all the work?" So when you walk in, you see eight yogurt machines, each with two different flavors. You fill your own cup with as much or as little as you want of as few or as many as 16 flavors of yogurt. You then add your own toppings. The cashier simply puts your cup on a scale, and you're charged by the weight. It's fast. Swipe your credit card, and you're out of there, enjoying your own custom-made dessert. Bye-bye, traditional yogurt retail.

Rent-a-Bike

You know Zipcar, right? They asked, Why should people who need a car have to travel to huge lots miles away to rent one? Why not let people become members and pop cars all over town? Members simply locate a Zipcar nearby, activate the door opening with a smartphone app, and go. No agent involved. Now several enterprising start-ups, like Hubway in Boston, have done the same thing with bicycles. And it's not exactly like bicycles were a new technology. With a $70 annual membership, you get a key. Just swipe it at one of the bike stations around town, grab a bike, and you're off. You can even rent a helmet. You return the bike to any station you choose. No on-site employees involved.

iPhone

When Steve Jobs saw multi-touch technology, his first reaction was, "My God, this could be a phone." He didn't design the technology. He just recognized that a multi-touch screen could create an infinite number of user interfaces for an infinite number of applications, instead of the one user interface to which traditional phones were limited. So long, plastic buttons.

The Feature-Length Cartoon

Walt Disney didn't invent the cartoon. But he did ask, "Why are cartoons always only three minutes long?" He realized that with the right story, you could engage an audience with animation for just as long as you could with live actors. The feature animation business was born.

The Upside-Down Ketchup Bottle.

Heinz didn't invent upside down. Upside-down had been around for a while. But someone there finally asked, "Why do we let the ketchup rest in the bottle at the farthest point from the opening? Why not flip the design, so people don't have to break a blood vessel getting the damned stuff out." Voilà. Upside-down packaging everywhere.

So, welcome back to the 21st-century economy. If you can ask "Why?" in an industry where everyone else is too busy or distracted to bother, you can build a great business, no matter how complex the underlying technology — and maybe change the world in the process.

You can be the one who asks "Why?" You can hire people to figure out the how.

What are some of the unasked "Why?" questions that you've noticed in the world today?

Anonymous
#501344

The Discipline of Listening

by Ram Charan | 1:17 PM June 21, 2012

Comments (62)

As the up-and-coming vice president and CEO candidate for a Fortune 500 technology corporation sat before the CEO for his annual review, he was baffled to discover that the feedback from his peers, customers, direct reports, and particularly from board members placed unusual emphasis on one potentially devastating problem: his listening deficit. This executive was widely considered among the best and brightest in his company, but it was evident that this issue needed immediate attention if he ever hoped to advance to the top spot.

He wasn't alone in that regard. My knowledge of corporate leaders' 360-degree feedback indicates that one out of four of them has a listening deficit—the effects of which can paralyze cross-unit collaboration, sink careers, and if it's the CEO with the deficit, derail the company. But this doesn't have to be the case. Despite today's fast-paced business environment, time-starved leaders can master the art of disciplined listening. Conventional advice for better listening is to be emotionally intelligent and available. However, truly good listening requires far more than that. As you move toward truly empathetic listening, consider these tips:

Pan for the nuggets. I saw how Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell, did this. Sitting down with a business unit leader presenting him with information about a $300 million dollar technical investment opportunity, Bossidy divided a sheet of paper about three-quarters across. On the larger left side of the paper, he scribbled detailed notes; on the smaller right side, he occasionally jotted down two or three words, capturing what he perceived to be the key insights and issues being brought to his attention. It was a simple technique that disciplined him to listen intently for the important content and focus follow-up questions on points that really mattered. Whether or not this is your method, you should train yourself to sift for the nuggets in a conversation. Then let the other person know that they were understood by probing, clarifying, or further shaping those thoughts. The benefits of this go beyond ensuring that you heard it right: first, the person on the other end of the conversation will be gratified that you are truly grasping the essence of their thoughts and ideas; second, this gratification will motivate and energize them to create more thoughts and solutions. Listening opens the door to truly connecting and is the gateway to building relationships and capability.

Consider the Source. When working with peers, in and across teams, work to understand each person's frame of reference—where they are coming from. This is extremely important when disagreements arise. When you truly understand the perspective of others, you are most likely to reach productive solutions; further, all the participants will feel heard, whether their solution is adopted or not. Even better, it's likely that the solution will not turn out to be one that was brought to the table by any one party; it will be a new approach crafted in the conversational environment you created. Active listening and probing (with humility, not aggression) energizes groups, encourages them to reach consensus, and helps them arrive at new and better solutions.

Consider Ivan Seidenberg, who rose to become Chairman and CEO of Verizon. Earlier in his career, as a business unit manager, he recognized that he must cut costs. But his division's operations department was adamant it could not be done given the tremendous complexity of its processes. Seidenberg understood their frame of reference, which was that they were in favor of simplification, but couldn't achieve it without the collaboration of the product departments. Seidenberg got the two sides to collaborate and much better solutions were found. Not only were costs cut, but operations became more focused and simplified.

Prime the Pump. After GE achieved its goal of being first or second in several of its businesses with exceptional margins, then-CEO Jack Welch faced the challenge of how to spur continued growth. He actively listened to a Business Management Course team at GE's Crotonville learning center. They suggested that, if a GE business had become the biggest fish in its pond, it was thinking about the pond too narrowly. The definition of the market needed to be changed based on an expanded understanding of its customers' needs. As business unit managers prepared their next round of strategy presentations for the Chairman, Welch told them all to redefine their market in such a way that their share was less than 10 percent. This released GE managers' energy to grow their businesses with new ideas. One of those ideas was to grow the services businesses across GE. Today, GE has a $200 billion backlog in its services business.

Slow Down. There is a reason that, over the years, you have lost your ability to listen. It feels too passive, like the opposite of action. It's much faster to move to a decision based on the information you already have. But in doing so, you miss important considerations and sacrifice the opportunity to connect. Understand that as you begin to change your listening style to a more empathetic one, you may often feel inefficient. It takes time to truly hear someone and to replay the essence of their thoughts back them so that both parties are clear on what was said. The payback is dramatic, but it comes over the long run.

Keep Yourself Honest. No habit is broken without discipline, feedback, and practice. As well as installing a personal mirror to reflect on your own behavior, find a colleague to give you honest feedback on how well you are tuning into the thoughts and ideas of your colleagues, managers, board of directors, and others. Explicitly lay out an exercise regime by which you will practice empathetic listening every day and strengthen your skills. Make a habit of asking yourself after interactions whether you understood the essence of what was said to you, the person's point of view, their context, and their emotion. Also ask yourself whether that person knows that they were heard and understood.

For leaders, listening is a central competence for success. At its core, listening is connecting. Your ability to understand the true spirit of a message as it is intended to be communicated, and demonstrate your understanding, is paramount in forming connections and leading effectively. This is why, in 2010, General Electric—long considered the preeminent company for producing leaders—redefined what it seeks in its leaders. Now it places "listening" among the most desirable traits in potential leaders. Indeed, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has said that "humble listening" is among the top four characteristics in leaders.

Truly empathetic listening requires courage—the willingness to let go of the old habits and embrace new ones that may, at first, feel time-consuming and inefficient. But once acquired, these listening habits are the very skills that turn would-be leaders into true ones.

Anonymous
#496376

Today i got call for interview from TCMS India Noida...after seeing this review i drop the idea to go for interview :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin :grin

Anonymous
#473988

Yes you are right my friends, TCC247 and TCMS India is Worst Employer Company and all credits goes to owners Vijay and Mukesh Kapoor. I have never seen these type of owner who talking to became live IBM, Synapse, Wipro, HCL. But they have not educated like a pee buts of this company around. They always teas his own employees. I am also working with this company in 2011 but I left this company.

Due to not receiving salary on time and for asking he show us attitude and abuse. Me and my co-staff members decided to left this company without taking salary.

After that Mukesh suit a case on use. So, I have requested to all IT Members. Please don't apply in TCC247 and TCMS India.

They are Worst Company.

Anonymous
#473141

Whose life am I living? I'm sure you ask yourself that kind of question from time to time. What am I really good at? What is the purpose of my work? These are not new questions. Sooner or later, we all seek answers to them.

Up to three or four decades ago, most people struggled with such questions once or twice in their lives. When they chose their line of work, or when they resolved to break from the expectations of their family.

Today, fundamental questions of identity and purpose are no longer a once or twice-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Many of us face them again and again. Not only when we are struggling, but, paradoxically, when we are succeeding.

That's because the better you do, the broader the range of opportunities you have. You no longer just get to move up, you get to move around. You are exposed to different opinions, worldviews, and lifestyles. You become keener to look for work that grants you more than sustenance and recognition. Work that allows you to feed your passions, express yourself and serve a larger cause.

Today's careers are no longer ladders. They are more like works of art.

In this context, what does it mean to succeed? What does it take to thrive?

First, you need a foundation of knowledge and skills. You can't be Picasso if you can't handle brushes. Second, you need to use those skills to express something that is both deeply personal and that resonates with an audience.

Success in art is not just making a living, or being famous and acclaimed. Those are consequences. Success is moving and being moved. It is opening vistas. Unsettling the status quo. Peeking beneath the veil of convention.

Making art is not an artist's job. It is an artist's life. This is why it is exciting. But it also creates anxiety, and second-guessing. Putting your passion on display can be scary. How do you know what is your true passion? What if your work is ignored, derided or misunderstood?

In my research and leadership development work, I witness the same mixture of excitement and anxiety among people who aspire to craft careers centered on their passion. Especially when they are faced with the prospect of becoming a "leader." It is as if leading in a world in flux amplifies the dilemmas of living in a world in flux.

We expect leaders, more than anyone else, to express their authentic concerns and desires and, at the same time, to give voice to the concerns and desires of those they aspire to lead. We expect them to be fully committed to a purpose and community — but also to be constantly pushing for change.

How do you manage to show up and put yourself aside? How can you stay grounded if you are meant to be always changing? Think of artists again. They often congregate, to teach, inspire and support each other. And although their gatherings may not always be harmonious, many find freedom, courage, and voice once they find a tribe.

Similarly, being able to turn your career into a work of art, to thrive and lead with passion in a world in flux, requires finding a space, and I mean both a psychological and social space, where what you do is tied with who you are and what people around you care about — a community where commitment feels enabling, liberating, rather than just constraining.

Jennifer Petriglieri and I describe these communities as "identity workspaces." They are groups or organizations where we can both acquire valuable expertise from others and also address fundamental questions with others. Identity workspaces are communities that help us discover who we are, where we belong, what we can do and how we are meant to do it.

For some of us it may be a community within an established institution, like a company or a profession, like medicine or the law. For others it is a less formal community, like a volunteer group, an annual event, a group of classmates that stay connected as they move around.

If we find an identity workspace within our organization, that organization has a profound impact on us, it's harder to leave, and what we learn there keeps orienting us even after we leave. If we don't find one, the organization feels like a place we're passing through while our heart remains elsewhere. And when we can't find an identity workspace anywhere we feel empty, uprooted, deprived of meaning. We spend more time trying to be liked than to be taken seriously.

If you are a manager, you may want to ask yourself, is you team or organization an identity workspace for the people who work there? Can they easily share and acquire expertise? Do you reward those who personalize their work and make it meaningful for others? Do you encourage people to find their voice and push against conventions?

If you do, they'll not only be more satisfied, creative and productive — they will also think twice before leaving, as they may not grow as fast and express themselves as fully elsewhere.

Because ultimately, while mastery, identity and purpose are very personal, we can neither find nor pursue them alone. We're still peculiar animals endowed with consciousness and cast in a sea of suggestions and demands. We need others who care enough about us, and whom we care enough about, to help us take it from there.

Anonymous
#473140

To bring people together around a common cause, it is critical that a leader be self aware. Jeff Immelt's recent comments to the cadets at West Point reminded me of this fact.

Immelt, CEO of General Electric, said he he's learned lessons from the Great Recession that have made him "humbler and hungrier... I needed to be a better listener coming out of the crisis... I should have done more to anticipate the radical changes that occurred," he added. Such an admission reveals an executive who is comfortable in his own skin, even as he is making hard decisions about the future of his company.

Coming to terms with yourself is a private matter. But if you fail to come to terms with your own limitations and it affects your ability to lead then it could be worthy of public scrutiny. Toward that end, here are three questions leaders can ask themselves, or a trusted associate or two, about their own managerial performance.

1. What more do I need? This question might seem easy because a leader will always say she needs more time. True enough, but lack of time is often an excuse for failing to address simmering issues or to carry projects through to fruition. Ask yourself and others what you need to do more of; one answer might be "doing less." That is, learn to delegate more and devote your time to thinking.

2. What else should I be doing? By focusing on less, you may learn to delegate not simply tasks, but also responsibilities. Too often executives feel they need to be engaged in the work when their job is really to engage other people. Let your people do their jobs. If they can't, find out why. You may need to find employees with different skills sets or you may need to provide your people with additional training, resources, and manpower.

3. How do I accept feedback? "The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them," says Colin Powell. "They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care." None of us welcome bad news about ourselves and our work, but self-aware leaders are those that not only accept it, but invite it, and even seek it out. They do so because they are continually learning. Without learning there is no personal growth.

The answers to these questions should challenge your perception of yourself. Yet, your own questions can only go so far — you cannot be aware of things you don't know. Comparing one's own perceptions to what others observe can provide striking bits of insight. For example, you may think you communicate, delegate, supervise, and recognize others well, but until you receive others' opinions on these things, you cannot truly know. Personality and leadership assessments, along with 360-degree evaluations are useful in this situation.

Once you've gathered the answers, you must integrate the feedback into your behavior and approach as a means of becoming more capable, knowledgeable, and self aware. Questions and assessments only go so far. Accepting feedback can be a spine-stiffening experience, especially when we hear things about ourselves that are not favorable. Yet, strong leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and resolve to make improvements. Easy to say, but very hard to do, unless you act on your ability to know yourself.

Anonymous
#473138

Proactive leadership plays a critical role in leveraging the commitment of mid-career talent. Too often mid-career employees are left to hit the ground running because they have enough knowledge to transfer from one job to another. Any mid-career professional will tell you that being left alone in a new organization is the last thing that they want or need. Leaders need to actively demonstrate their leadership to transitioning professionals and show that the organization needs them.

What can leaders do? Take a look at three key steps below.

Embody a personal and meaningful mission.

A colleague of mine still talks about the day he accidently ran into his CEO waiting to cross the street. Their short and informal conversation left a lasting impression that this CEO was a good guy trying to do good things. Why leave such impressions to chance? It is no secret that mid-career is often associated with crisis, break, and change. Mid-career employees are more likely to question the meaning of their work, the value of their company's mission, their job autonomy, their contributions, and their relationships. Leaders mistakenly tend to leave mid-career personnel alone to work as they normally do. Instead, leaders should look toward forming closer alliances with the middle layers of the organization. These alliances break down barriers and personalize the organizational structure, so that the organization's mission is embodied in the work of others and in the work of the leader. Through their interactions, leaders can make the mission meaningful for mid-career personnel.

Instigate long-term thinking and transparent career paths.

In his seminal text about leadership and workplace analysis, Dan C. Lortie revealed how cultural practices evolve in workplaces. He showed how the limited interactions of some workplaces tended to foster what he called presentism: short-term thinking orientated in the present that consolidated conservatism and inhibited innovation. Lortie concluded that presentism is created by short-term work goals, lack of enthusiasm about change and team work, and the employee not having a sense of full mastery of his or her work. Lortie surmised that leaders can counter presentism by interacting early on with mid-career personnel. Why wait until the performance review to talk about career goals? Creating an open dialogue around career goals and aspirations counters mid-career presentism. Further, personalize it. All leaders have a good story to tell about how they got to where they are, and these narratives can be powerful drivers for others. Hearing these stories personalizes career strategies as long-term events.

Recognize and reward the next wave of talent.

Any good leader knows to surround themselves with talented people, but recognizing the future leaders who will generate change and innovation is a task rarely considered. It is from mid-career employees that the next generation of leaders will emerge. Forming relationships with these employees will allow a leader to acknowledge and reward talent, as well as identify, train, and develop talent for the future of the organization.

To enhance the value and commitment of mid-career talent, leaders need to work at building their relationships and commitments to these employees, which means more frequent and visible interactions that affirm the interdependency of organizational goals and individual career aspirations.

What other suggestions do you have for leaders to help their talent combat a mid-career crisis?

Anonymous
#442505

All the facts are very true so please don't join this company. This company is now shifted to E2, sector-63 and runningby Mr. Mukesh.

Anonymous
#412857

This is the third post in my Microsoft partnership, and it’s all about numbers. The topic is crafting your financial forecast to include in your pitch. Bill Reichert, my partner at Garage Technology Ventures, created an Excel model and wrote this blog post. There’s a lesson in this too: Get the best person for the job. His grasp of financial models and how to present them exceeds mine by two orders of magnitude.

The Purpose of Financial Projections

When it comes to financial projections, there are two types of entrepreneurs: first, the “visionary entrepreneur” who considers financial projections silly, so she makes up numbers that look good to investors; second, the “intense entrepreneur” who develops an 10,000 cell spreadsheet that includes the number of licenses of Microsoft Office that he needs to buy in year five.

If you are the first type of entrepreneur, you run the risk that the investor won’t trust you with his or her money. This type of entrepreneur often alienates investors because of his cavalier attitude. If you are the second type of entrepreneur, you run the risk that the investor will think that you actually believe your projections.

When it comes to financial projections, however, there is only one type of investor: people who don’t believe your financial projections, whatever they are.

So what’s the right balance of vision versus detail? The point of financial projections is to tell a story with numbers—a story about opportunity, resource requirements, market forces, growth, milestone achievements, and profits. Your job is to create a numerical framework that complements and reinforces the vision you’ve painted with words.

The investor isn’t interested in the precision of the numbers, but he or she is interested in what the numbers say about the economics of your business, and what they say about your understanding of your business. The goal is to tell a credible, as well as exciting, story about what your business could become.

To be credible, your numbers have to make sense on the first review. If you are suggesting that your company will grow faster or be more profitable than any company in history, you will lose credibility. Your numbers must survive simple questioning:

Do the capital requirements shown in your projections match the funding you are asking for?

Do you know how many customers you have to land to generate the revenues you are projecting?

Do you know how long it takes and how much it costs to acquire a customer?

Do you know what resources will be required to support customers?

Do you know how much you will have to spend to stay ahead of the competition with your product or service offering?

How to Use the Template

With that introduction, here is an Excel template to help you present your financials to investors. There are two main sections to the model: one for presenting your five-year financial projections and one for presenting your twelve-month operating plan.

The reason to develop a financial model of your business for five years going forward is to make explicit the driving factors behind your revenues and expenses as you pass through several stages of product development, market penetration, and organization growth. As they say, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

The point of the templates is not to suggest a rigid structure that you should force your financials into but rather to show the level of detail you should have in your summary. Your driving metrics are going to be specific to your business. It should be clear how they drive revenues and expenses.

Most important, you need to show investors how you will grow your company from the bottom up—sale by sale, employee by employee—rather than building a model from the top down. No one believes that a model built on getting “only one percent of the target market” is a credible plan.

You won’t be presenting your operating plan to investors in your first few meetings, but you’d better understand how you are going to run the business once you raise capital. A well thought-out operating plan will reflect your ability to allocate resources—people and money—to the highest priority objectives.

Building from the Bottom Up

The problem with financial accounting, however, is that it forces you to present your numbers using big company functional categories, such as sales, marketing, engineering, general, and administrative. But startup companies really operate as projects, with most projects running across functions.

You need to run your company as a startup, but present your financials using the standard framework of accounting. That means that the details of your operating plan will reside in a model built around the activities required to achieve your critical milestones.

That way, when an investor drills into why you are planning to spend money the way you are, you can frame your answer in terms of business priorities and deliverable milestones, rather than saying something like, “Most companies spend 25% on sales.”

Still, building your operating plan from the bottom up based on projects you need to execute is challenging. We all over-estimate how much we can accomplish in a month. Make sure your projections are tempered by real world experience. You want to over-deliver during those early years, not under-deliver. You don’t want to have to ask for more money before you’ve proven what you promised to prove.

Two Final Tips

First, don’t call your projections “conservative.” We refer to this as Entrepreneur Lie #1 (Guy will explain nineteen more lies in the next post in this series). Investors want to see a bold plan that is well thought-out and realistic, if everything goes reasonably well. They don’t want to see a delusional plan. Your job is to show that you have tapped a team with the experience and insight to justify your bold optimism.

Second, model your company on other real world successes. You don’t have to make up your business model. You should be able to model your financial projections on companies that have been successful before. Use the S-1 IPO filings of companies with business models similar to yours to get an idea of what is realistic. If your projections are wildly different than other highly successful companies, then your assumptions are probably off.

Conclusion

Your operating plan and your longer-term projections will evolve. You should be constantly engaged in testing your assumptions and adjusting your actions as you learn. The trick is making sure you are always using your precious resources—people and money—most effectively, for the highest return, rather than letting inertia perpetuate activities and expenditures that are not productive.

It’s obvious, but it’s true: The number one cause of failure is running out of money. And the number one cause of running out of money is the failure to grow revenues faster than you are growing expenses.

As much as your investors may tell you, “We back teams,” they expect you to make money. If you deliver on your numbers, you will become rich and successful. If you fall short, you won’t. So as much fun as it is to paint an exciting vision, at the end of each month, you will be measured on your ability to deliver what you promised.

Good luck!

Anonymous
#412854

"We back the leader, and we give them the freedom to iterate."

"You have to understand the context in which the frontline is operating." To help understand global health, Jacquelline moved her entire family to India for a year.

"Launch early, fail fast, iterate, move on if you have to. Too much of philanthropy is afraid to take a risk. It should provide risk capital for innovation."

The future:

"One of the things that encourages people to give is social." Crowdsourcing. Direct to consumer.

Leila: Used a tobacco company scholarship to take a year and teach English to kids at a school for the blind in Ghana. Became obsessed with the idea of creating jobs in poor places. What if we could take work to places where poor people live?

"The fundamental thing that leads to innovation is not accepting the status quo." We are habit-forming, assumption-making creatures. Going to Africa challenged all my assumptions. We send our people out into the field every year to shake them up."

"All the people who were previously invisible are becoming visible to us. I met a Sudanese boy in a refugee camp. A month later, he friended me on Facebook." The power of rapid feedback.

Payam: Giving needs to be genuine and part of what you do or it won't have staying power. Make bets that are big enough to make a difference if they succeed, but not so big that they take down your business if they fail. "The best ideas that really changed our business came from outside, not from sitting in our own cocoon."

"Innovation without execution isn't innovation. It's just an idea."

Posted by Chris at 12:09 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Labels: innovation, socialenterprise

Pixar, IDEO, and Innovation

Here are detailed notes from Frans Johansson's conversation with Ed Catmull of Pixar and Tim Brown of IDEO:

PIXAR

"The easiest way to make a movie is to do what worked in previous movies. But you won't end up with an original result. The alternative is to go out into the world and learn from other industries."

For Ratatouille, the Pixar team went to Paris to visit French restaurants, and did a 5-hour, 28-course tasting menu at the French Laundry.

"We like ideas that are unlikely. Because they're unlikely, we have to protect them."

"The original idea sucks. You can't show it to marketing or the toy people, because they won't get it. But you can't protect it for too long; engaging with the world forces you to make the necessary decisions. There's a lot of pressure on us to get the process right. 'Hey, if you guys got it right up front, this would be a lot easier.' Getting the process right is *not* the goal. (implied: The goal is to make something great)"

"You have to be able to work with other people. You can't just *** everyone off."

"You want to signal to everyone else that it's okay to be unusual. 'That guy is really pushing it, and he didn't get in trouble, so I guess I can too.'"

"We want unusual things to happen. We can't predict what will happen. At every level, things are going to not work. You can't send the message that if you fail, something bad will happen."

"Interesting stuff happens in the messy place in the middle. The director wants to make the best possible film. The art director wants to make the best looking film. The marketing people want to make sure they can sell the film. They're all pulling in different directions. If any one of those groups wins, you lose."

"We have had some films that failed. We didn't release them. Toy Story 2 was a restart. Ratatouille, we kept one line from the original script. The first version of Up took place in a floating castle in the sky. The only thing left was the bird and the word 'Up'. The next version, there was a house that floated up and landed on a lost Russian dirigible. The next version, the bird laid eggs that conferred long life. You can say that these were failures along the way. The things that don't work right are just things that we tried. That's learning. Why do we associate that with the word failure? We should associate it with the word 'learning'?"

"Every 3-4 months, we have a screen of the reels. We have mockups, voices, music. The director has the final word. Nobody overrides the director. It's important that everyone know that before they enter the room. All the focus is on how do we make this better; if people think their project is in danger, they'll get defensive."

Interesting story: "Steve was the once per movie external force to say articulately what had already been said, but because he said it, people listened. He didn't come to the story meetings because he knew his words would carry too much weight."

"We bet on the person, not the idea. We never start with the idea. We ask them to come up with three ideas so they aren't stuck on a single idea."

Anonymous
#412851

An endeavor that goes belly-up after a big launch is a failure, a disaster. That's exactly what happened to the Vasa, envisioned to be the grandest ship in Sweden's fleet, because it lacked the proper balance. In August 1628, the Vasa began her maiden voyage in a calm harbor. But as soon as the ship emerged from the city's lee, a gust of wind filled its sails. The ship heeled sharply. With the next gust, open gun ports took in water. The Vasa sank only 400 feet from shore.

Today's leaders often must navigate unpredictable seas. The many demands on a leader's time vie for priority, including the need to live as a human being outside one's leadership role. Thus, many leaders find themselves out of balance with their personal values and priorities.

Leaders will agree they need more balance. But most leaders find this elusive — they strike a balance for a moment or a day or a week, until the next crisis hits, which it inevitably does. Balance begins to sound like a platitude, a "nice to have" that doesn't jibe with reality.

The tool leaders need to find balance is ballast. Ballast is a heavy substance that can be moved around to help maintain equilibrium. Ballast, when well-designed, brings stability and control to a ship. Its genius is in its flexibility — a crew can move ballast depending on the challenges they currently face.

Many factors led to the Vasa's early and expensive demise. The top-heavy ship was structurally flawed. And there was no chance of overcoming this problem since she also carried insufficient ballast. This left her with little fortitude for her real-world voyage into the winds and sea. Each person has to find their own source of ballast. It's the attention you devote to the most important areas in your life — the actions you take to create stability in the midst of turbulent seas.

Here are three steps to add ballast to your vessel:

1. Identify what's at your core. Ballast sits in the belly of the ship below the waterline thus lowering the center of balance. If you stabilize this region, you stabilize the entire ship. What does stability look like for you? Identify the key values — intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual — that guide your work and life — the "four corners of your core."

2. Distribute the ballast based on need. It is important that your ballast remains stable during a storm. A crew maintains this stability by dispersing the ballast to port, starboard, bow, and stern depending on changing conditions. Learn where you need to move ballast around the corners of your core.

Sam, a manager at a non-profit, had been heads down on a project for three straight months. To cope, he had thrown his regular health regime overboard. After the project ended, he had trouble regaining his energy. He realized that he needed to shift some of his ballast from the intellectual to the physical corner. He restarted his morning runs and that was all it took. Where you place ballast is a personal choice. When deciding where to disperse it, consider your internal desires, the external environment, and your top priority goal. In Sam's case, he realized that when he was low on energy, it was hard for him to pay attention to his family or his job.

3. Stack ballast where you can. If you're struggling to find balance, you are already tight on time. You may not be able to have a date-night, complete an hour-long workout, and practice Swedish because you just relocated to Scandinavia, all in discrete chunks of time in a single day. However, you and your partner might be able to run together while egging each other on in Swedish. Now you've managed to simultaneously disperse ballast in the emotional, physical, and intellectual corners of your core.

Each of us has turbulent situations to navigate through work and life. When you are vigilant about your conditions you can apportion your ballast accordingly. What adjustments can you make that will bring stability to your core?

Anonymous
#412850

Some recent reading crystallized two hypotheses that have been rattling around in my head for a while now:

Digital crowds work better than real-world ones For some things, nothing works except solitude

These formed after reading a great article by Susan Cain in the New York Times called "The Rise of the New Groupthink." The column is a preview of her new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (the title alone assures that I will buy it).

The book summarizes a lot of research about what actually happens when people work together in groups, and most of it ain't pretty. As Cain writes,

...decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases. The "evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups," wrote the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham...

The reasons brainstorming fails are instructive for other forms of group work, too. People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others' opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure

So it seems like we need to add brainstorming sessions to the scrap heap of plausible business techniques that actually don't work that well, along with focus groups and job interviews. The fact that all of these are still so common reflects, I'm sorry to say, the continued triumph of ideology over evidence.

There is one large exception to this rule: groups that come together digitally, rather than in the real world, are often very creative, innovative, and productive. How can this be? According to Cain:

The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a "miracle of communication in the midst of solitude," and that's what the Internet is, too. It's a place where we can be alone together -- and this is precisely what gives it power.

I love this idea, and not just because I wrote a book about technology-facilitated collaboration and don't want it to be wrong. I love it because it provides a great counterargument to all the hand-wringing about the Net's isolating and society-corroding tendencies. Alone together has until now been a lament; it should also be a celebration.

The second hypothesis is that as powerful as the Net can be for generating and improving ideas, those of us who think for a living still need to be alone a lot to get good thinking done.

Social modes and tools are dominating the business conversation so completely these days that we risk downplaying or even eliminating individual work and reflection. And this tendency is reinforced by the fact that social work is usually a lot more fun. It's usually a blast to digitally swap ideas; tweet, update, share, comment, 'like,' and multitask with multi-people. It's usually a drag to take yourself away from all that, sit down, disconnect, and start writing, sketching, coding, diagramming - in short, to start thinking.

If and when you get into a flow, solitary work becomes fantastic. But it rarely starts that way. It proceeds the way my marathoner friends tell me their winter training runs go: with a lot of initial discomfort and why-am-I-doing-this? followed eventually by enjoyment and accomplishment.

Getting over that initial hump is hard. And people might stop trying if they start believing that digitally facilitated ensemble work suffices. It doesn't. It's absolutely necessary, but it's not enough when genuine novelty is the goal. We - YOU - also need to spend some time alone, just thinking. The poet Charles Bukowski got it right: "Isolation is the gift."

Anonymous
#412848

I'm teaching a course this January on how to read cultural trends (CMS.S62 in the nomenclature of MIT). You might like to join us if you're in Boston. The course is called "Time Machine: Building a Conceptual Model for Cultural Prediction."

Here's the kind of problem we will be wrestling with.

Nancy Keates wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal that appears to point to a trend in the world of American culture, consumers, and commerce. She writes,

A new wave of houses is going up around the country. Sometimes they look like alien spaceships. Other times they blend so well into the background they're hard to see. These homes are strongly tied to their particular locations — in contrast to decades of architecture that produced identical-looking houses thousands of miles apart. The architects who practice this approach aim to create designs that connect to their surroundings by using local materials and borrowing ideas, shapes and even climate-control solutions from the region's historical structures.

We could say, "Sure, why not? Let's call it a trend." The trouble is that "trend" might just be the most promiscuous word in the English language, applied to almost everything. One trend watcher identifies more than 132,000 trends, including new versions of the baby blanket, the garbage container, and the panoramic camera. In the world of many trend watchers, anything new is a trend. And Jack Shafer, Slate's former media critic, made a name for himself calling out bogus trend stories on a regular basis.

We want to be more particular. A trend, for anthropological purposes, has to be a change in how culture defines how we see and act in the world. Novelties come and go. To qualify as a trend, something must represent an emerging consensus. It must act like an eddy that runs through us, changing, in this case, the thing called a "house" and the activity called "construction."

Keates certainly believes there's a trend here. Skeptics might say, "Hang on, this could be simple differentiation driven by personal vanity and/or economic competition. What if architects merely want to be seen to be individual, and local design is the simplest way to send this message?" This "trend" might not be a cultural change but merely the expression of architectural ego or the pursuit of economic advantage.

For the sake of argument, let's call it a trend (even as we allow a small voice of suspicion to say, "Your evidence is assuming what it was supposed to prove").

Now the question is "what trend?" The decision we make here will have big consequences, so we want to make it carefully. Here are a couple of possibilities.

1. The Microtrend Explanation. Architects are extremely well informed about the work of other architects. In fact, they're extremely well formed by the work of other architects. What we are looking at here is, perhaps, not a change in American culture but a change in architectural culture. This might be a "microtrend." Architects happen to have a bee in their bonnet at the moment, and this is it.

I think architects do listen to one another and clearly microtrends do run through their world. But in this case, it looks as if the microtrend is being driven by something more macro, something running through the whole of our culture, not just the architectural one.

2. The Localism Explanation. I think the more likely candidate is "localism." Architects and clients have decided that the design of houses should respond to something in the local world. Yes, both are listening to national and international communities of taste and practice. But now being locally responsive matters just as much and sometimes more. Both parties are to this extent "glocal" — global and local.

The local trend is evident across American culture. The food world committed some years ago to local supply. (See the work of Alice Waters and the influence of Chez Panisse.) The world of news has started to prize local news. (See the work of Steven Berlin Johnson and his Outside.in.) Marketing once specialized in advertising and packaging that was identical everywhere. Now, Coca-Cola marks cans by city. The art world began to care about site specificity. Seth Godin suggests that even time could be made more local. An excellent NPR piece, The New American Localism, notes an upsurge of localism in a range of things, even banking and philanthropy. NPR's Linton Weeks says the new bumper sticker should read: "Think locally, act locally."

Localism is now so well established as a trend, it is hard to remember a time when it was a source of embarrassment, even shame. We used to live in hierarchically organized places. There were big and prestigious places like New York and London. And there were small and necessarily minor places, like, oh, I don't know, Des Moines or Kelowna. (Haven't heard of Kelowna? My point, exactly.) People who had the misfortune of living in Des Moines or Kelowna were careful not to advertise it, and, generally speaking, they were pleased to move away. To live locally was to risk being a Redneck, someone out of touch with the knowledge and the perspective that marked a sophisticated person.

Somehow this changed. And we are not sure how or why. Surely, it has something to do with new communications technology. But this can't be the whole of it.

The question, then: what is the localism trend? Where did it come from? How is it changing us? How will it change various goods and services, produce categories, promotion, marketing, and so on? What else will it change about us? And with what consequences?

In a more perfect world, we would have precise answers to these questions. As it is, we don't have much more than a clue. Hence the course. We want to get better at thinking about trends . . . in order to get better at predicting them.

Anonymous
#412847

This post is part of the HBR Insight Center, The Next Generation of Global Leaders.

Who are the best-performing CEOs in India? The first-ever ranking of Indian CEOs based on the long-term shareholder returns they generate (available here and published in Business Today, an Indian business magazine) provides an interesting answer. This answer is premised on the notion that the most objective test of a CEO's leadership ought to be how the company does during his or her full tenure at the helm, rather than the latest quarterly earnings of the company or the CEO's power, family pedigree or positive media coverage. Of course, shareholder return is not the only measure of performance and it omits contributions companies make to other stakeholders. But it is the fundamental scorecard for CEOs of public companies. And it's the same scorecard for everyone.

Our study of 374 CEOs of 202 publicly traded Indian companies drawn from the S&P CNX 500 index since 1998 uses a methodology similar to our prior work ranking the top CEOs in the world by Morten Hansen, Herminia Ibarra and Urs Peyer on 1999 leaders from 1205 global companies, published in the January 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review. We defined a CEO as the person holding the highest executive position in a specific listed company. For example, we identified Bhaskar Bhat (#4 on our list) as the CEO of Titan Industries and not Ratan Tata who is the head of the Tata business group that Titan Industries belongs to.

Our ranking included some of the "usual suspects," such as Mukesh Ambani of Reliance and Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel. However, it excluded other well-known leaders such as Narayana Murthy (Infosys), Azim Premji (Wipro) or Deepak Parekh (pdf) (HDFC) because these leaders took the helm before 1995, whereas our study covers individuals who started their job as CEO during the time period January 1995 to June 2009.

After generating the list, we analyzed the data to see which factors increased the likelihood that an executive would be placed higher in our ranking. We categorized our search into three buckets: (i) attributes of the CEOs as individuals; (ii) characteristics of the companies they led; and (iii) features of the broad industry sectors in which their companies participated.

One of our most interesting findings was that CEOs who started their job when they were younger and had an MBA degree were more likely to attain a better ranking success. Our statistical analysis revealed that other things being equal, a CEO who started his job 10 years younger than the average age improved his ranking by 15 places. More interestingly, other things being equal, having an MBA degree also improved the place in the ranking by 15 places.

Our top ranker

The #1 CEO on our list is Naveen Jindal of Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL), the most valuable steel company in India today with annual revenues of about Rs 132 billion (approx. US $2.6 billion). Armed with an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal acquired control over the ailing Raigarh plant of the Jindal group in his early 30s. Young Jindal was thrust into this leadership role at JSPL when his father, Om Prakash Jindal, arranged an amicable four-way split of his business empire between his four sons.

Naveen Jindal turned around the Raigarh sponge iron mill through a backward integration strategy that insulated JSPL from price volatility in commodity markets, thereby boosting profitability. Buoyed by this success, JSPL has now set very ambitious investment plans in iron ore mining, steel production and power generation. During his tenure, Naveen Jindal has delivered a staggering total shareholder return (TSR) of 13,784%, increasing JSPL's market capitalisation by Rs 606 billion (about US $12.1 billion).

The young professionals

Naveen Jindal exemplifies in several ways the CEOs who are most likely to secure a high ranking on our list. For example, Bhaskar Bhat (#4 on our list) became CEO of Titan Industries when he was 47 years old, having started his career as a management trainee at Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing after completing an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad. Likewise, Sunil Duggal (#14) became CEO of Dabur India at age 45, having started his career as a management trainee at Wimco Limited after finishing an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management at Calcutta.

These results suggest two things: First, an MBA degree does seem to provide some valuable skills for running Indian companies. Second, the prevalence of professional managers with MBA degrees (often from top Indian business schools such as the IIMs) suggests that the "visible hand" of managerial capitalism may be playing an increasingly important role in the Indian economy.

In essence, youth and education seem to matter for CEO performance in India.

Anonymous
#412843

Next time you are sitting in a meeting, take a look around. The odds are high that you will see your colleagues checking screens, texting, and emailing while someone is talking or making a presentation. Many of us are proud of our prowess in multitasking, and wear it like a badge of honor.

Multitasking may help us check off more things on our to-do lists. But it also makes us more prone to making mistakes, more likely to miss important information and cues, and less likely to retain information in working memory, which impairs problem solving and creativity.

Over the past decade, advances in neuroimaging have been revealing more and more about how the brain works. Studies of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using the latest neuroimaging and cognitive testing [PDF] are showing us how the brain focuses, what impairs focus — and how easily the brain is distracted. This research comes at a time when attention deficits have spread far beyond those with ADHD to the rest of us working in an always-on world. The good news is that the brain can learn to ignore distractions, making you more focused, creative, and productive.

Here are three ways you can start to improve your focus.

Tame your frenzy.

Frenzy is an emotional state, a feeling of being a little (or a lot) out of control. It is often underpinned by anxiety, sadness, anger, and related emotions. Emotions are processed by the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped brain structure. It responds powerfully to negative emotions, which are regarded as signals of threat. Functional brain imaging has shown that activation of the amygdala by negative emotions interferes with the brain's ability to solve problems or do other cognitive work. Positive emotions and thoughts do the opposite — they improve the brain's executive function, and so help open the door to creative and strategic thinking.

What can you do? Try to improve your balance of positive and negative emotions over the course of a day. Barbara Fredrickson, a noted psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, recommends a 3:1 balance of positive and negative emotions, based upon mathematical modeling of ideal team dynamics by her collaborator Marcial Losada, and confirmed by research on individual flourishing and successful marriages. (Calculate your "positivity ratio" at www.positivityratio.com). You can tame negative emotional frenzy by exercising, meditating, and sleeping well. It also helps to notice your negative emotional patterns. Perhaps a coworker often annoys you with some minor habit or quirk, which triggers a downward spiral. Appreciate that such automatic responses may be overdone, take a few breaths, and let go of the irritation.

What can your team do? Start meetings on positive topics and some humor. The positive emotions this generates can improve everyone's brain function, leading to better teamwork and problem solving.

Apply the brakes.

Your brain continuously scans your internal and external environment, even when you are focused on a particular task. Distractions are always lurking: wayward thoughts, emotions, sounds, or interruptions. Fortunately, the brain is designed to instantly stop a random thought, an unnecessary action, and even an instinctive emotion from derailing you and getting you off track.

What can you do? To prevent distractions from hijacking your focus, use the ABC method as your brain's brake pedal. Become Aware of your options: you can stop what you are doing and address the distraction, or you can let it go. Breathe deeply and consider your options. Then Choose thoughtfully: Stop? or Go?

What can your team do? Try setting up one-hour distraction-free meetings. Everyone is expected to contribute and offer thoughtful and creative input, and no distractions (like laptops, tablets, cell phones, and other gadgets) are allowed.

Shift Sets.

While it's great to be focused, sometimes you need to turn your attention to a new problem. Set-shifting refers to shifting all of your focus to a new task, and not leaving any behind on the last one. Sometimes it's helpful to do this in order to give the brain a break and allow it to take on a new task.

What can you do? Before you turn your attention to a new task, shift your focus from your mind to your body. Go for a walk, climb stairs, do some deep breathing or stretches. Even if you aren't aware of it, when you are doing this your brain continues working on your past tasks. Sometimes new ideas emerge during such physical breaks.

What can your team do? Schedule a five-minute break for every hour of meeting time, and encourage everyone to do something physical rather than run out to check email. By restoring the brain's executive function, such breaks can lead to more and better ideas when you reconvene.

Organizing your mind, and your team members' minds, will yield a solid payoff in the year ahead. Adding "high-quality focus" is a great place to start. Try holding a no-multitasking meeting and see what happens when everyone in the room gives their undivided attention. Have you ever tried this in your organization? If not, do you think it would fly?

Anonymous
#412840

To answer this question, during the last few years, we have met with about 30 CEOs who pass two critical tests for succeeding globally: (1) they have outperformed most of their industry peers and they have gained respect from their stakeholders in multiple ways; and (2) they lead companies originating from different cultures and successfully operate across the globe. Despite the differences in culture and mindset, our research suggests that these global leaders — whether they are from North America, Europe or India — seem to lead their companies differently than their peers. Most strikingly, they pioneer a leadership style which engages people in very different settings. For example, they put immense emphasis on:

• A higher purpose — These leaders make people feel emotionally engaged and inspire them to walk the extra mile. The company has to mean something to people rather than just being a place to work. This is probably especially important if the company center and the local offices are far apart. An example: When Jorma Ollila of Nokia describes their purpose as connecting people, it applies to the local office in Kenya just as it does to the head office in Espoo, Finland.

• Responsiveness to communities — In many of the developing countries where these companies are active, it is not self-evident that you get a license to operate. To be accepted, you need to build trust. More than simply being a good citizen and helping to educate potential future employees, being responsive to the needs of the local settings has to do with becoming a trusted insider. That is, for example, how Carlo Pesenti of the Italian cement giant Italcementi explains how they try to act when building up cement plants that minimize negative environmental impact in developing countries.

• Creating an internal social fabric enabling good collaboration across borders/levels — These leaders seem to put a higher and higher emphasis on local activities, and on attempting to connect these local activities in a smart way. This is complementary to the global processes that they also develop. Peter Sands of Standard Chartered Bank, for example, seems to give pride to connecting local offices on different continents to help build a truly global united firm and reward people that make ideas travel across functions and geographies.

In addition to these overarching guiding principles, we found that these leaders also share a set of practices. These common practices are similar to those that leadership scholar Robert J. House and colleagues found in the late 1990s when they studied leadership in 62 countries to explore if there were leadership characteristics that were universally seen as good or bad. They found that people all over the world described good leadership with terms such as reliable, have high expectations, win-win problem solver, communicative, team builder and fair. These characteristics are even more relevant today, and we found that they still drive the success of the global leaders that we talked to:

Reliable: These CEOs are strong advocates for creating long-term successful strategies that speak to both head and heart. They have what the Finns call sisu — they stay the course, build success quarter by quarter and are persistent in creating both economic and social value.

Have High Expectations: They invest heavily in growing both the social and economic side of the corporation, and they set high objectives for both — their performance management takes both of these aspects into equal account.

Win-Win Problem Solver: They do not compromise by doing trade-offs between social and economic value — they creatively find ways to get the two to be mutually reinforcing.

Communicative: They work hard to be present in company locations all over the world, not only to spread messages but to learn and listen. They seem to prioritize direct meetings, but use all sorts of modern communication technology extensively to connect with the vast ends of the global corporation.

Team Builder: Not only do they take great pains in building long-lasting top teams; they are also very focused on building an aligned leadership system, engaging with dozens of management teams to ensure that the values and practices are spread around the world.

Fair: Most of them addressed how they were driving not only respect for diversity, but — taking it a step further — building a strong community out of diversity rather than one built on similarity. They also described how they attempted to create processes for strategy and development that would feel fair to those involved, and how fairness became especially important when people had to be laid off.

Our findings lead us to believe that a new model for global leadership is emerging — one which is not simply headquarter-centric, but one that embraces the complexity of a large organization and its role in the world, driven by the principles and practices above.

What models of global leadership, irrespective of country of origin, have you seen? What do you think qualifies as good global leadership?

Anonymous
#412836

Smart leaders make New Year resolutions and set quarterly milestones, charting progress against ambitious plans and goals. Wise leaders, however, take a different approach: they root themselves in a noble purpose, align it with a compelling vision, and then take action — not just for that year, but for the rest of their lives. That noble purpose becomes a North Star, giving direction when the path ahead is hazy, humility when arrogance announces false victory, and inspiration when the outlook seems bleak.

In India, we call the north star "Dhruv Tara" — or "Dhruv Star." According to the story, Dhruv was a prince transformed into the ever-fixed star as a reward for his perseverance. But the idea of a guiding star can be found in many different religious and cultural traditions. North Star is a concept (pdf) that I have been using in my teaching and coaching for over 20 years to represent our highest personal aspiration — especially when it's connected with a noble purpose. (Those of you familiar with Bill George's "True North" concept may notice some overlap.)

One of the best examples of a wise leader is Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (also known as "Dr. V"), an ophthalmologist with crippled fingers who started the Aravind Eye Care System in 1976 — with no business plan, money or resources. Aravind now sees 2.7 million patients every year, and even more impressively, treats the majority of them for free. Aravind has become a business example of compassion, as well as proof that wise leaders can radically change the world by following their North Star. The case study written about Aravind has been required reading for all Harvard Business School students for over a decade.

We have a choice in creating the life that we desire. With our judgment, choices, actions we take, we change the course of our future and steer our destiny, moment by moment. Wisdom is not about focusing on the future, but rather about acting in the present, aligned with our North Star.

North Stars align our energy, emotions, and actions in the service of our vision. Though it is not always simple to find one's North Star, once it appears, its guidance helps simplify one's choices. As paradoxical as it may seem, wise leaders are, first and foremost, wise followers. Once they become clear about their North Star, it becomes their calling, and they serve that calling willingly, happily, and infectiously.

So what was Dr. V's North Star? He dreamed a seemingly impossible dream: to eliminate needless blindness by providing appropriate, compassionate, high-quality eye care for all. Along with his siblings and their families, many of whom he had guided into medicine, he started his simple 11-bed clinic with three revolutionary guiding principles:

•Turn no one away, regardless of whether they can pay or not;

•Give everyone the same high quality of care;

•Don't depend on any outside sources for funding;

These constraints, despite coming from a deep conviction in his own values, seemed to destine him for limited impact.

Instead, Dr. V changed the face of eye care on the planet, and he did it by owning the entire problem — providing community outreach, eye care, training, eye banks, research and the production of inexpensive but high-quality eye care supplies. He realized that if he wanted to eradicate curable blindness from the world, he had to start thinking not only about his organization, but also about training others. Conventional wisdom would be to guard your secret sauce, but Aravind did the exact opposite. By giving away all its secrets, Aravind has trained approximately 15% of all ophthalmologists in India and thousands more from over 69 countries. The work of this one man is said to have touched 40% of eye care patients in the developing world to date.

I've had the opportunity to meet Dr. V and work with Aravind over the past several years. I am deeply touched, moved and inspired by the revolution he set in motion and sheer impact of his contributions on the world. How did Dr. V come up with his North Star? Was he a wise person to begin with? Can you and I do something that can have a significant impact like Dr. V?

To my mind, Dr. V was not born wise — he became wise because of his decisions and actions. Here is an extract from Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World's Greatest Business Case for Compassion by Pavithra Mehta and Suchitra Shenoy (a special note: Read this book!):

To Dr. V, the cultivation of empathy, the effort toward equanimity and self-awareness, the stepping back from ego, and the attempts to align with a clear-sighted, inherent wisdom are all part of his larger aspiration to be a perfect instrument.

His story provides tremendous inspiration and guidance for those looking to follow their North Star. His story also flouts many conventional rules of business. Wise leadership does not fit the strict patterns of smart analysis, but instead taps into an intuitive part of who you are at the core, unearthing counterintuitive principles:

•Compassion doesn't have to come at the cost of efficiency — it can actually drive systems and operational excellence. You don't have to separate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals and project goals. You can make CSR the strategy or even the end goal for your business growth.

•If you truly focus on service, resources do organize themselves — if your main interest is in solving a problem, then there's no question that cooperation beats competition. Businesses should focus on the customer, not on profit or business model.

•When individuals (and especially leaders) stay rooted in inner transformation —being true to one's calling, paying attention to one's values and being aware of one's emotions and actions — it fundamentally alters the way in which organizations develop. Leaders aligned with their own North Star inspire their teams to do the same, not simply by words but by the power of their example.

In order to identify and then follow your own North Star, you have to ask powerful questions of yourself. Those questions will yield new insights for you and help you find inspiration in the most unthinkable places. For Dr. V, inspiration struck when he learned about McDonald's. Due to his experience as a government doctor with rural camps, he knew that he had to develop highly efficient, scalable, repeatable processes to treat the masses that came. In McDonald's, he saw that throughout the world McDonald's franchises had similar quality meals for low prices. "If McDonald's can do it for hamburgers, why can't we do it for eye care?" And sure enough, he developed systems that allow Aravind surgeons to do more than five times the number of cataract surgeries done by the average Indian doctor (and ten times that of an average US physician).

Following your North Star can also lead to quixotic decisions. When intraocular lenses (IOLs) came on the scene in the West in the early 1990s, global health professionals called it a luxury that developing countries could ill-afford. Dr. V saw the value of IOLs and literally manufactured a revolution. At a time when India was far from being the hotbed for technology outsourcing that it is today, Aravind started manufacturing these IOLs at world-class quality, driving the global price down from $150 to $10. Aravind now makes 7% of all IOLs in the world.

I hope Dr. V's story brings you closer to your own North Star. The key to making 2012 a special year is to first find our North Star, our noble purpose, and then to execute on it as if it is the only thing that matters — because it is. Wise leadership comes from identifying our own North Star, then using the light to enable others to find their own.

Anonymous
#412831

One of the most widely held beliefs in strategy is that variations in performance can often be explained by what industry a company competes in. A lot of our most cherished tools — five-forces analysis, the BCG portfolio matrix, and even SWOT analysis — rest on this assumption.

But evidence is all around us that, although industries matter, they matter in different ways and with different effects than we may have thought. To take one example that crossed my desk recently, consultancy Accenture has developed a point of view on what they call the "Age of Aggregation." Among the paradoxes they observe is that market segments in many industries are fragmenting, even as global firms require increasingly large markets to drive growth and profitability. Combining those "profit pools" is like trying to combine the water in thousands of bathtubs — there are profits to be had, but how do you combine them so that they become material?

But as they also point out, the most important competition for many organizations today comes from firms who aren't even technically competing in the same business. Netflix going into the production of its own proprietary TV programs? Best Buy doing sophisticated analysis for health care providers to see how well their cardiac treatment projects are going? Who would have predicted those shifts?

This change promises to generate considerable confusion, because the concept of industry is so deeply embedded in our analytical and organizational tools. For instance, many consultancies and service firms organize around "industry verticals." Analysts gain expertise in a particular industry. People pride themselves on how long they have served in an industry. This, unfortunately, is also a way for entire industries to develop significant blind spots — cue music, video, and publishing. And perhaps digital cameras — as phones can take photos that are good enough for everyday image sharing, why carry around another device?

Nothing else has emerged to completely replace the idea of industry, of course, but it makes sense to be alert to what might come next.

Anonymous
#410883

"Make sure you ask the right questions at the right time." That's one memorable piece of advice from a leader at a global innovation powerhouse. Unfortunately, it is a piece of advice that is heeded too infrequently inside large companies.

At many companies, the idea evaluation process revolves around detailed Excel spreadsheets, comprehensive PowerPoint documents, and an orchestrated sequence of pre-meetings leading up to a decision meeting. This kind of disciplined approach works very well when companies have knowledge that lets them be precise in their analysis, and executives have the relevant domain experience to make informed decisions.

Applying this same discipline to nascent opportunities in new spaces can be disastrous. People spend days discussing Excel spreadsheets that are nothing more than mathematical relationships between made-up numbers. Managers working on ideas discover that detailed PowerPoint documents are their biggest enemy, because the details act as bait for nit-picking devil's advocates. Endless pre-meetings crowd out action-based learning.

The general way around this problem seems simple enough — have a process by which you evaluate ideas in different ways at different stages of development (most call this a "stage-gate process."). You might have a "front end" process where you rapidly iterate and evaluate lots of ideas and a more detailed "launch" process to optimize the few that make it through the early rounds. This kind of process can help successfully move an idea from a Post-It note to the market.

What does that actually mean in practice? The rest of this post will show how Innosight's venture investing arm sifts through ideas, as a kind of guide. (Next week's post will apply lessons from this approach to large corporations.)

Innosight's venture capital "team" is a two-person shop in Singapore. I sit on the Investment Committee, along with Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, primarily getting involved when we are getting close to a big decision about a current or potential portfolio company. The core team, Pete Bonee and Piyush Chaplot, scour Singapore to find the best investment opportunities. In the past two years, they have looked at more than 200 potential investments.

The first decision is whether to have a meeting to evaluate a company. Answering this question is pretty simple. Our fund specifically looks to seed businesses that have the potential to disrupt existing markets or create new ones. So, if Pete or Piyush believes that the material they've seen to date (which can be a one-page executive summary, a 20-page pitch document, a rough website, or even an email description) fits our strategy and has some potential, they will proceed with a meeting.

Then, the bar goes up. The next decision is whether to formally investigate the company. We've developed a qualitative screen with about 20 characteristics that blend the theory of disruptive innovation with what we have learned in five years of investment and incubation activities. Based on what we've seen, we evaluate whether the idea is negative, positive, or neutral in each of those characteristics.

There's no "score" an idea has to exceed to make it to the more formal round. In fact, the process is as much educational as it is evaluative. It helps our team understand the areas to probe more deeply during further discussions or detailed due diligence. The process almost always surfaces two or three big issues that, if they can't be addressed, would stop us from consummating an investment.

Ultimately, a team discussion determines what moves forward. We won't proceed unless an individual raises his or her hand to lead the effort, because ultimately that individual will have to spend a day a week or more with the company if we make an investment. If there isn't that individual passion, we won't proceed.

Then, if we're comfortable that we've addressed the critical issues, we decide whether to invest. Along some dimensions, this decision is pretty easy because we have narrowed our focus to a couple of key issues. Data from our investigation either addresses those issues and we proceed, or not.

Because our process involves three distinct decisions — evaluate, investigate, and invest, each with specific criteria and a different level of scrutiny — the final decision ends up being straightforward. Over the past two years, we have evaluated about 60 companies, done detailed investigation of about 10, and invested in five. As you can see, decisions involve a lot of discussions and team judgment.

Distinct differences separate how a corporation and a venture capital fund approach innovation. My next post will show how Innosight Ventures' three-step evaluation process applies inside big companies.

Anonymous
#410881

A number of years ago I encountered a puzzling holiday phenomenon. I was working at what was then J.P. Morgan Bank with a back-office department in which the staff was hard-pressed to collect and reconcile data at the end of every month. Consequently the last week of each month was always stressful and came with the constant complaint that the department was short on staff. Yet somehow this same process in the month of December — when many employees were planning to take time off between Christmas and New Year's Day — was so much more efficient that a skeleton staff was able to finish the month without any problems. In essence what was difficult to complete in four weeks throughout the year was accomplished in just three weeks in December (with the same volume of work).

You're probably familiar with the adrenaline rush of getting things done to meet a deadline — whether your deadline preceded a vacation, or came from a boss, client, or professor (remember those "all-nighters" in college?). But when an entire team faces a deadline together and is highly motivated to accelerate progress, "Christmas miracles" such as those I witnessed at J.P. Morgan are entirely possible.

Unfortunately there is an addendum to this story, which is that the performance improvements achieved in December did not carry over into January. Within days the data collection and reconciliation process returned to normal, so that by the end of the month the team was again struggling to get everything done.

The lesson here is that the Morgan team could have identified the first week or two of January as a choice point. At this crucial moment, they could have decided to build on their December success and create a sustainably faster and more effective process; or they could have returned to their old patterns. Unconsciously they chose the latter.

The beginning of January is a natural choice point for every management team, whether or not you've experienced a Christmas miracle. The changeover to a new calendar year, coinciding with the return of many from holiday breaks, is a perfect opportunity to reflect on what was learned during the past year; set exciting stretch goals for the year ahead; and start taking actions to achieve those goals. In this spirit, Jack Welch used to ask his managers in January to think of themselves as just starting a new job — encouraging them to break free of the past year's patterns and reinvent the way that they and their teams operate. Similarly, many companies hold leadership conferences in January for the "top 50" (or more) so that they can get the new year off to a running start, with renewed energy and different ways of working.

If you are in a company that already uses January as a launching pad for reenergizing and reinventing your work, take advantage of the opportunity. Go to the leadership sessions with an open mind and your own creative ideas about how to improve performance. Then replicate the process with your team and help it to cascade across your organization.

If this is not part of the way your company ordinarily functions, then here are a few steps you can take independently to capture the January opportunity:

Reflect on the Welch question: What would you do differently if you had just been hired for your job?

Informally interview a few of your customers (internal or external) and ask them what they would like to change about working with you and your team in the coming year.

Bring your team together to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year — and then raise the bar for the year to come. How can you make 2011 a breakthrough year? How could the team become a model for high performance in the company?

By now most of us have returned from the holiday break, hopefully relaxed and ready to get back to work. But at this moment, we all face a choice: We can fall back into our old patterns and habits, both individually and collectively; or we can reinvent those patterns and generate renewed energy for the coming year.

Now that January is here, what's your choice?

Anonymous
#410876

How much time do you spend each day getting better organized? Cut it in half.

When it comes to investing time, thought and effort into productively organizing oneself, less is more. In fact, not only is less more, research suggests it may be faster, better and cheaper.

IBM researchers observed that email users who "searched" rather than set up files and folders for their correspondence typically found what they were looking for faster and with fewer errors. Time and overhead associated with creating and managing email folders were, effectively, a waste.

By combining threading with search, technology makes an economic virtue of virtual disorganization. The personal productivity issue knowledge workers and effective executives need to ponder is whether habits of efficiency that once improved performance have decayed into mindless ruts that delay or undermine desired outcomes. Are folders and filing systems worth fifteen to twenty-five minutes a day of contemplative classification and sort for serious managers?

Obsessive Type As might insist hands-on organizational design is essential to getting a firm grasp on essential correspondence. More measured assessment argues that this is exactly the sort of administrivia where the energy literally isn't worth the effort. To frame the productivity issue more starkly: what would really prove more personally productive — folders that sort 15% faster? Or key phrase search capabilities that were 20% better?

Not a single colleague or client I know would pick the former. Their personal productivity paradigms have shifted. The notion of "getting organized" has the aroma of anachronism. Ongoing improvement in email/document/desktop and cloud-centric search frees them from legacy information management behaviors like filing.

Similarly, they want meeting invitations and schedules with embedded links that instantly trigger — and sync — commitments on their calendars. They don't want to spend more time overseeing scheduling logistics; they expect their technologies to smoothly structure time slots and highlight — and even anticipate — conflicts in advance. They're "organizing" for flexibility, adaptiveness and immediate response. More accurately, their technologies exist to give them greater speed and flexibility. Their personal organizational ethos reflects a Toyota Production System "just-in-time" attitude. The technical configuration facilitates a pull — not push — time management. Organization has given way to improvisation.

Siri offers a lovely honey-voiced example. Watching — or rather, listening to — how people use Apple's voice-recognition interface/assistant is remarkably revealing. A cynic would say she's a procrastinator's delight; the questions she answers and the requests she accommodates are overwhelmingly of the "last minute/on-the-go" variety. In the knowledge worker community I observe, Siri responds to and tracks personal organization on the fly. She's treated like a person whose job is to spare her boss from the mechanics and frictions of organizing. People don't use her to automate their personal organizational tasks like filing; they use her to do the task. (What's particularly fascinating is the look of horror/anger/irritation/panic if, in fact, Siri can't understand, find or make the requested change.)

Instead of better tools for better organizing, people want their organization done for them. Organizing is wasteful; getting its benefits is productivity. Consequently, people I work with want their email to recommend who should be added to the list of colleagues getting a document for review and comment; or have their calendar suggest additional invitees for a planned project review; or give them a reminder that they have a relevant Excel spreadsheet macro when they're revising a financial plan. They want what I've described earlier as "promptware" — a cue and intervention that creates measurable value in the moment, rather than promised efficiencies in the future.

The essential takeaway is that the new economics of personal productivity mean that the better organized we try to become, the more wasteful and inefficient we become. We'll likely get more done better if we give less time and thought to organization and greater reflection and care to desired outcomes. Our job today and tomorrow isn't to organize ourselves better; it's to get the right technologies that respond to our personal productivity needs. It's not that we're becoming too dependent on our technologies to organize us; it's that we haven't become dependent enough.

Anonymous
#410874

Business is dynamic. Regardless of how well-positioned you are, how thoughtfully you've planned for the future, or how well you satisfy customers, your strategic plan will not always be on target. For the sake of this article, we can assume that much to be a fact of life. So if we can't perfectly predict the future from where we stand, we need to be able to quickly recognize when our plans need to change. One way to do this is to look for "break technologies."

At any given point in time, the market will find equilibrium. To deliver goods and services at that singular instance, industries will adopt production and distribution models. If you are at all familiar with Michael Porter's work, think about this as an industry developing its value chain. Beginning with gathering basic resources and ending with delivering goods to customers, markets and businesses will optimize the value chain in order to deliver goods and services to consumers at optimal levels.

However, as Clayton Christensen aptly points out, disruption occurs over time — not in a specific instant. While the value chain will optimize for specific circumstances, often technologies are created that eliminate the need for certain pieces of an industry's value chain. For example, in recent years, the Internet eliminated the need for paper milling and production in industries that distribute information. In the 1990's, cellular technology eliminated the usefulness of physical phone lines in the telephone value chain. And in one of my personal favorite examples, in the early 1900's, the automobile eliminated retailers' need to put products as close as possible to people's homes. In its simplest conception, a "break technology" breaks supply chains and value networks in at least one industry.

Allow me to walk you through an example: retail grocery and the emergence of the supermarket. In the early 1930's, the supermarket was widely regarded as a flash in the pan by many industry experts. In urban areas, the retail grocery market was dominated by corner store grocers who delivered food to within walking distance of customer homes. While the supermarket itself implored no different technologies than its corner store competitors, by hosting fewer bricks and mortar locations and increasing inventory turns, it was able to undercut other grocers' prices in the market. But even with its ability to sustain lower prices, the new model had little support.

Fast forward to the end of the decade, where the supermarket model was the dominant format for grocery shopping. What changed? It wasn't as if all of a sudden people realized they wanted lower prices. That basic desire had existed long before the supermarket caught hold. What changed was the consumer's ability to patronize the supermarket store format. Over the course of the 30's, a huge population of Americans gained access to the automobile — a technology that made the corner stores' system of last mile distribution nearly obsolete.

In the years preceding the proliferation of the automobile, a business model emerged that best suited the retail and technological landscape at the time. Without cars, no reasonable amount of savings would convince people to walk additional miles to a store. However, with the mass-adoption of the break technology, the whole landscape changed rapidly and a new model had the ability to emerge to the satisfaction of consumers — and to the chagrin of corner store owners (and their static view of competition).

What do the Model T and supermarket history have to do with business today? Everything. In the past century, air travel, phone networks, the PC, the internet, VOIP, and many more technologies have redefined industries by breaking value chains. In any situation where a part of your industry's production or distribution process becomes obsolete, a break technology is likely responsible. It's easy to see how the Xerox machine displaced the employees of law firms tasked with typing up copies using carbon paper. But what's most interesting is that break technologies can redefine industries even when they're outside of our or our competitors' business models. Think about this. While we spend a great deal of time looking at our strategy, our competitors' strategies, and the technologies that affect us dramatically — how often do we consider the impact that peripheral technologies will have on how we compete? The car changed what the "right" model for retail grocery looked like. LTE mobile Internet will dramatically impact airport Hudson Booksellers everywhere by enabling tablet makers to distribute magazines without retail space or long download times. These are just two of countless examples.

Your value chain is big and it's complex. It's been developed to satisfy your customers given the technological landscape of the day. But the technological landscape is constantly changing. So let me posit these questions: Will your business be affected by mobile internet? By Near Field Communications (NFC)? By 3-D printing? By cloud storage? More importantly, will your business model need to change?

To answer these questions, I suggest taking three steps:

1) Understand Your Value Chain

Outline, in detail, how you create and deliver the products and services your customers value. Know each step up the value chain distinctly and understand that the chain will have to evolve over time.

2) Be on the watch for break technologies

Keep a close watch on information, transportation, and production technologies. Think about how each new technological development could make pieces of your value chain obsolete.

3) Prepare to deal with the Innovator's Dilemma

In many situations, you'll be able to recognize the emergence of a break technology. Embracing change is the difficult part. Familiarize yourself with the innovator's dilemma and determine how to disrupt your own business. The new technological landscape will bring new winning business models — figure out how to make sure you participate.

The ability to identify "break technologies" is just one step in building and sustaining successful enterprises. But if you do get it, you'll be that much closer to ensuring your organization's viability into the future.

Anonymous
#410871

While the holiday season may be behind us, the peak season for exchanging gifts and messages is not over. Not by a long shot. For many companies, it's salary and performance review time. It's bonus time. It's profit-sharing time.These anxiety-provoking milestones are filling your organization's calendar even as you read this, and they will continue to do so for at least the next few months. And there is plenty of anxiety to go around, affecting both providers and recipients of such tidings. What does this signify? What are they telling me here? What does it say about how I am valued?

For the feedback providers among us, there is ample available advice on how best to proffer messages and to ensure their effective delivery. However, there's far less guidance to help us when we are on the receiving end of these "gifts" (after all, aren't we always hearing how feedback is a gift?).

The purpose of this post is to start a conversation among us, to consider how best to take in the feedback messages we receive — not just at this time of year, but all the time.

Here are four ways to become better at receiving — and implementing — feedback:

1. Relax. Nervous going in? Even a little? Of course you are. There's an imbalance of power, information and preparation from moment one. The providers of your feedback spent at least some time gathering data, synthesizing it, and formulating the message. Even if they prepared it all by themselves, it was probably part of a broader organizational effort involving multiple inputs from a number of people. And you? You're going in with none of that information. Given that imbalance, why would you possibly expect not to be even a little nervous? Give yourself a break. Relax. Unless you're already in trouble, there will be no trapdoor under your chair.

2. Prepare yourself to hear one or more unexpected "somethings"

a. Something you did or didn't do, that you had no idea was even on the radar screen as a factor or an issue.

b. Something that was a bigger deal than you thought. Or a smaller one. And the consequences or impact in the feedback message seems disproportionate.

c. Something that could or should have been addressed with you weeks or months earlier.

d. Something that you thought had already been resolved or improved upon.

3. If you don't agree with the feedback, don't launch into a defense right away. As you listen, hold that thought and hold your tongue! Force yourself not to form a conclusion or communicate a response too quickly, and maybe not even in the course of the conversation. You've spent zero time on absorbing and interpreting the data at this point. Apply the following filters:

a. Put it in absolute context first. Even if you are disappointed that it's not the biggest bonus ever, or you didn't "Exceed Expectations" in every category, or you discover your nemesis received the equivalent of the Nobel Prize, what's the summary message to you? Is it more valid than not? More positive than negative? Was it mostly on-target?

b. Figure out how to use what you have heard. As a result of this feedback, do you know what you can or should do the same or differently going forward?

While a few on-the-spot questions are OK, finding your own version of "I'm guessing it's OK for me to come back to you if I have more questions" is a better approach.

4. When it's over:

a. Thank them sincerely for their time and thoughts, regardless of whether you were thrilled with their message or their delivery. Unless they were bored or rude, it required some work on their part.

b. Reflect on the overall message, and what it conveyed. If you are contemplating a campaign to prove you were right on some specific point, consider that it might ultimately be more helpful to focus on the broader takeaway and what it will require to do as well or better next time.

c. Don't just file it and forget it. Look at it again in a few months, and see how you're doing.

Finally, remember this was but a single piece or episode of feedback. If you're lucky, you'll receive many more.

Now, what's your feedback on receiving feedback?

Anonymous
#410866

Effective leadership today relies more than ever on influencing others — impacting their ideas, opinions, and actions. While influence has always been a valuable managerial skill, today's highly collaborative organizations make it essential. Consider how often you have to influence people who don't even report to you in order to accomplish your objectives. Success depends on your ability to effectively influence both your direct reports and the people over whom you have no direct authority.

Have you ever thought about how you influence others? The tactics you use? We are all aware that people use different influencing tactics, but did you realize that we each naturally default to the same tactics every time? Or that the tactics we default to are also the ones to which we are most receptive when being influenced?

It is these preferred tactics that define our influencing style. Analyzing the different influencing tactics, researchers have identified up to nine primary influencing tactics. In our quest to further understand personal influencing styles, we did additional research to build on the existing knowledge base. From our research, we've identified five distinct influencing styles: rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring, and bridging.

You may have an idea what your style is just from hearing these labels, but the most accurate way to identify your style is with an influence style indicator — a self-scoring assessment that classifies your style based on answers to questions about preferred influencing tactics. But even without the indicator, here are some questions you can ask yourself to begin to understand your style:

Rationalizing: Do you use logic, facts, and reasoning to present your ideas? Do you leverage your facts, logic, expertise, and experience to persuade others?

Asserting: Do you rely on your personal confidence, rules, law, and authority to influence others? Do you insist that your ideas are heard and considered, even when others disagree? Do you challenge the ideas of others when they don't agree with yours? Do you debate with or pressure others to get them to see your point of view?

Negotiating: Do you look for compromises and make concessions in order to reach an outcome that satisfies your greater interest? Do you make tradeoffs and exchanges in order to meet your larger interests? If necessary, will you delay the discussion until a more opportune time?

Inspiring: Do you encourage others toward your position by communicating a sense of shared mission and exciting possibility? Do you use inspirational appeals, stories, and metaphors to encourage a shared sense of purpose?

Bridging: Do you attempt to influence outcomes by uniting or connecting with others? Do you rely on reciprocity, engaging superior support, consultation, building coalitions, and using personal relationships to get people to agree with your position?

While answering these questions, take your style a step further. How often does it work for you? Are you more successful with certain types of people? Have you ever wondered why? Since there are five different influencing styles, using only your preferred style has the potential to undermine your influence with as many as four out of five people.

Gaining awareness about our own influencing style and those of others is especially critical in light of today's fast-paced and stressful work environments, and here's why: When we are operating unconsciously out of a preference (our style) and not seeing the results we expect, we actually have the tendency to intensify our preferred behavior — even when it's not working!

If your individual success depends on gaining the cooperation of people over whom you have no direct authority, this should concern you. The way to begin to increase your odds of influencing more people is to learn to recognize and use each of the five styles.

Becoming aware that there are influencing styles other than yours is a good start. To further increase your influence, you must learn what each style sounds like when it's being used effectively and ineffectively. Gaining this awareness will help you recognize when the style you're using isn't working and how to determine one that will.

What's your influencing style? And what are you going to do about it?

Anonymous
#410864

I was sitting with the CEO and senior team of a well-respected organization. One at a time, they told me they spend their long days either in back-to-back meetings, responding to email, or putting out fires. They also readily acknowledged this way of working wasn't serving them well — personally or professionally.

It's a conundrum they couldn't seem to solve. It's also a theme on which I hear variations every day. Think of it as a madness loop — a vicious cycle. We react to what's in front of us, whether it truly matters or not. More than ever, we're prisoners of the urgent.

Prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives I meet are so busy racing just to keep up that they believe they don't have time to stop and think about much of anything.

Too often — and masochistically — they default to "yes." Saying yes to requests feels safer, avoids conflict and takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important.

Truth be told, there's also an adrenaline rush in saying yes. Many of us have become addicted, unwittingly, to the speed of our lives — the adrenalin high of constant busyness. We mistake activity for productivity, more for better, and we ask ourselves "What's next?" far more often than we do "Why this?" But as Gandhi put it, "A 'no' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble."

Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times. In a world of relentless demands and infinite options, it behooves us to prioritize the tasks that add the most value. That also means deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether.

Making these choices requires that we regularly step back from the madding crowd. It's only when we pause — when we say no to the next urgent demand or seductive source of instant gratification — that we give ourselves the space to reflect on, metabolize, assess, and make sense of what we've just experienced.

Taking time also allows us to collect ourselves, refuel and renew, and make conscious course corrections that ultimately save us time when we plunge back into the fray.

What follows are four simple practices that serve a better prioritized and more intentional life:

1. Schedule in your calendar anything that feels important but not urgent — to borrow Steven Covey's phrase. If it feels urgent, you're likely going to get it done. If it's something you can put off, you likely will — especially if it's challenging.

The key to success is building rituals — highly specific practices that you commit to doing at precise times, so that over time they become automatic, and no longer require much conscious intention or energy. One example is scheduling regular time in your calendar for brainstorming, or for more strategic and longer term thinking.

The most recent ritual I added to my life is getting entirely offline after dinner each evening, and on the weekends. I'm only two weeks into the practice, but I know it's already created space in my mind to think and imagine.

2. As your final activity before leaving work in the evening, set aside sufficient time — at least 15 to 20 minutes — to take stock of what's happened that day. and to decide the most important tasks you want to accomplish the next day.

Clarifying and defining your priorities — what the researcher Peter Gollwitzer calls "implementation intentions" — will help you to stay focused on your priorities in the face of all the distractions you'll inevitably face the following day.

3. Do the most important thing on your list first when you get to work in the morning, for up to 90 minutes. If possible, keep your door closed, your email turned off and your phone on silent. The more singularly absorbed your focus, the more you'll get accomplished, and the higher the quality of the work is likely to be. When you finish, take a break to renew and refuel.

Most of us have the highest level of energy and the fewest distractions in the morning. If you can't begin the day that way, schedule the most important activity as early as possible. If you're one of the rare people who feels more energy later in the day, designate that time instead to do your most important activity.

4. Take at least one scheduled break in the morning, one in the afternoon, and leave your desk for lunch. These are each important opportunities to renew yourself so that your energy doesn't run down as the day wears on. They're also opportunities to briefly take stock.

Here are two questions you may want to ask yourself during these breaks:

1. Did I get done what I intended to get done since my last break and if not, why not?

2. What do I want to accomplish between now and my next break, and what do I have to say "no" to, in order to make that possible?

Anonymous
#410860

Everybody hates it, but so much of life is ruled by it: bureaucracy. It's time to bust up the ideology of control that has infiltrated every aspect of organizational life.

That's why we launched the Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge. This is the second leg of the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation and a call for inspiring stories, bold ideas, and instructive experiments that demonstrate what can happen when you scrap compliance, conformance and predictability for freedom, passion, and dynamism.

We asked management innovators around the world to share their stories and hacks about:

Making organizations more inspiring, engaging, and passion-driven

Shifting from a top-down to an edge-to-edge orientation

Managing without managers

In a matter of weeks, we received some 104 entries from around the world that confirmed our belief that there are so many experiments and initiatives going on right now — in every realm of endeavor and every part of the world — that advance the cause of making organizations more resilient, inventive, inspiring, and accountable.

We heard from CEOs, courageous in-the-trenches innovators, startup leaders, and social entrepreneurs alike, from as far afield as Japan, Norway, Wisconsin, Silicon Valley, Europe, and Mexico. The stories and hacks are as richly varied. They include:

How to transform an entire organization with an eclectic portfolio of grassroots initiatives

An experimental design for rethinking the traditional career by building retirement into work and work into retirement

What happens when you abolish traditional budgets and planning calendars

How the simplest daily practice can contribute to profound organizational transformation

What it takes to build a rich social fabric in a vast global organization

Anonymous
#410859

As we watch business leaders struggling to adjust to the "new normal" of the global economy, we can't help thinking of the economic transition India began almost 20 years ago. The changes that India struggled to cope with, such as slowing domestic growth, increasing globalization, and an uncertain political and regulatory environment, describe global markets today. No one has a perfect model for managing this level of uncertainty. However, we believe that India's (incomplete) journey offers valuable lessons about managing growth and change.

India began morphing from a highly protected economy to a liberalizing one in the 1990s, following a balance of payments crisis. Indian business leaders had to cope with rapid changes on all these fronts at the same time:

a) Competitors: Multinational companies quickly entered the domestic market and few local players were prepared to compete with them. Even large domestic firms were far behind their global counterparts in funding, innovation, and access to markets.

b) Regulations: The regulatory environment, particularly for the banking and financial sectors, went through major changes. The currency fluctuated, exchange controls were loosened, and many tariff structures were modified.

c) Consumers: Companies initially focused on satisfying the pent-up consumer demand of a growing Indian middle and upper class. Today, companies are also focused on reaching the poor at the "bottom of the pyramid," and expanding distribution to the mythical "last mile".

The rapid pace and impact of these changes did not allow the luxury of time and resources to endlessly research or build consensus around an idea or course of action. The very survival of many firms was at stake. Decisive leadership characterized all the firms that emerged as winners. There were specific behaviors common to the businesses that coped well with change:

Leave incrementalism behind. Perhaps the biggest benefit of deep and rapid change is that everything needs to be reexamined. When survival is at stake, all the "crazy" ideas that were dismissed earlier resurface for serious discussion. The idea of "go big or go home" is a requirement in India. Meeting the challenges of scale, distribution and affordability forced fresh thinking. The results also challenge previous notions about what was possible: for example, 70% of the Indian population today has a mobile phone.

Invest in People. One common trait amongst the Indian organizations that have emerged as winners was a concerted investment in people — from employees to channel partners. The arrival of multinationals meant that India had to build talent and fight hard to retain it as new opportunities opened up. The winning companies have invested in strong HR systems and continued learning and development. The IT companies were the leaders in this process, as much of their growth depended on work from outside India, but other well known groups such as the Tatas maintained their strong performance in large measure because of HR policies. Among the family-owned businesses that emerged stronger, such as the Aditya Birla Group, there was a concerted effort to professionalize management. The hallmark of many of these companies has been creating a tough but meritocratic system (such as the Infosys entrance exam), and investing in world-class facilities.

Increase Stakeholder Engagement. Many of the companies that are now India's most admired put significant effort into engaging their stakeholders (employees, customers, partners) for a wide variety of things: explaining the policies and beliefs of the company, communicating strategy and milestones, and often involving them in seeking solutions and new ideas. As companies sought capital in the public markets and listings on international exchanges, they had to communicate their vision for not just the company — but the country as well. Companies making forays overseas had to work at winning the trust of customers and partners doing business with India for the first time. This process demanded strong corporate cultures.

There are two predictable reactions to change — opposition and adaptation. India has demonstrated plenty of both. (Recent events certainly show that the political system is still not up to the pace that business would like.) It is clear that some of the original fears about change were misplaced. Globalization did not wipe out domestic industries — in many cases, they became stronger and more innovative. The economy grew at its highest rates since Independence. A less bureaucratic process has given rise to entrepreneurship — even outside the big cities.

All segments of Indian society have shown a remarkable capacity for change — from adopting new technology to fostering innovation. Having faith in oneself, and others, is part of any successful change process. As a result of engagement with India, terms like jugaad, Gandhian engineering, and the bottom of the pyramid have entered the global business lexicon. The Indian case shows the challenges of change — despite gains for large numbers of people, no reforms can be thought of as "irreversible." But it also highlights the fact that a willingness to embrace change and decisive leadership can make the "new normal" better than the old one.

Anonymous
#410855

The world is getting smaller. As new technologies in social media, transportation, and telecommunications bring us closer together, it's more critical than ever for organizations to recruit, develop, and retain multicultural leaders who can skillfully navigate both the opportunities and challenges of a more connected world.

Multicultural leadership involves deep immersion within different cultures to understand their values and specific context. This immersion unlocks insight into how to best reach customers, inspire employees, and drive organizational performance in geographies outside one's "home base." Only through knowing other cultures deeply can a manager effectively connect the dots between them and highlight meaningful differences between cultures that impact business strategy.

When executed well, the results are astonishing. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) built a leading 40% share of the Chinese fast food market through patiently tailoring its product offering to local tastes and building a strong team of local managers. Other consumer-focused companies such as IKEA and Starbucks are following in KFC's footsteps, but the learning curve is both steep and long. And fortunes can reverse quickly if managers don't progress their multicultural understanding as markets continue to evolve. Note the recent stumbles in China of French grocer Carrefour, which had previously dominated other supermarket retailers in the country. Indeed, multicultural organizational capabilities are becoming as significant a source of competitive advantage as other core elements of business strategy.

Though multicultural leadership is mostly associated with multinational corporations (MNCs) — an understandable phenomenon given the inherent cross-cultural challenges MNCs face in expanding outside their home countries — these principles also have a lot to offer "national companies," companies with limited presence outside a particular country or subregion. Given the enormous cultural diversity within many countries' own borders, taking a more deliberate approach to sourcing and developing talent across socioeconomic class, religion, academic field, and other backgrounds could be highly productive in driving product and service innovation.

Moreover, the increasing war for talent across borders suggests that national companies will need to do more to attract and retain the most promising talent for their existing operations, much less prepare for eventual expansion abroad with all the multicultural capabilities that such a strategy will require.

In order to build that multicultural and transnational talent, managers need to structure programs within their companies that expose promising talent to new geographies and cultures. Given the personal challenges of picking up and moving halfway around the world, such programs may need to draw on new technologies and models that allow more flexibility in cross-cultural collaboration.

So what can managers do to contribute their part?

Focus recruiting efforts to bring diverse, multicultural candidates into the company. This might include adjusting employer branding messages, diversifying recruiting talent sources, or even adjusting selection criteria to reward multicultural experience and leadership capability. It may also entail hiring experts such as cultural anthropologists who can support a more targeted exploration of a specific culture.

Make multicultural experiences an explicit part of career path conversations and performance reviews so that young managers can begin to treat view multicultural skill development more seriously.

Build multicultural elements into management training programs, either by adjusting existing curricula or developing new materials.

Launch structured mobility programs that bring rising managers to different cultures and geographies on both short-term projects and medium-term rotations. This will ensure that multicultural leadership development is embedded throughout an organization's talent management processes.

Integrate multicultural insights into business decisions and strategy. After all, the above interventions mean little if managers do not actively harness the insights that only multicultural leaders can bring to the table.

In an increasingly global age, the capacity of organizations to build multicultural and transnational leaders will be a critical competitive advantage. Is your organization prepared?

Anonymous
#409474

Several years ago, a friend decided she wanted to follow her passion. She loved the liberal arts and the academe. She was a talented graphic designer, a great writer, and was the president of a student club. But the prospect of working a nine-to-five job was never interesting. I can't blame her. After all, ours is a millennial generation proselytized to pursue our dreams. So she spent seven years getting a PhD, writing an award-winning dissertation in the process. It was a wonderful ride while it lasted, and she was among the happiest people I knew.

Then the recession hit. The value of university endowments crashed. Teaching and research positions were cut. She moved back in with her family, stopped paying off her student loans, and waited two years before getting a minor teaching role in a small research center. Throughout this time, she suffered the anguish of an uncertain future, became socially withdrawn, and felt a sense of betrayal.

It's a poster tale for our times. Was following her passion worth it?

Like myself, today's twentysomethings were raised to find our dreams and follow them. But it's a different world. And as the jobless generation grows up, we realize the grand betrayal of the false idols of passion. This philosophy no longer works for us, or at most, feels incomplete. So what do we do? I propose a different frame of reference: Forget about finding your passion. Instead, focus on finding big problems.

Putting problems at the center of our decision-making changes everything. It's not about the self anymore. It's about what you can do and how you can be a valuable contributor. People working on the biggest problems are compensated in the biggest ways. I don't mean this in a strict financial sense, but in a deeply human sense. For one, it shifts your attention from you to others and the wider world. You stop dwelling. You become less self-absorbed. Ironically, we become happier if we worry less about what makes us happy.

The good thing is that there are a lot of big problems to go by: climate change, sustainability, poverty, education, health care, technology, and urbanization in emerging markets. What big problem serves as your compass? If you're a young leader and you haven't articulated this yet, here are some things you can do.

Develop situational awareness. There's too much focus on knowing the self. Balance this with knowing the world. Stay in touch. Be sensitive to the problems faced by the unfortunate and marginalized. Get out of the office and volunteer. If you're in school, get out of the classroom. It's been a long time coming, but business schools are finally instituting changes that put the real world at the center of their programs.

Look into problems that affect you in a very personal way. We're more likely to be motivated by problems we can relate to on a personal level. In Passion & Purpose, Umaimah Mendhro recounts her story fleeing a war-torn Pakistan with her family and how the experience of dodging bullets to escape helped her summon the wherewithal to found thedreamfly.org, an initiative that helps create connections across communities in conflict.

Connect with people working on big problems. In a world where problems are by their very nature interdisciplinary, just getting to know people who are passionate about one problem leads to discussions on how other problems can be solved. When Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala helped reinvent Manila Water to better provide for the Philippines' capital, he had to deal not only with the typical issues a public utility had to face, but also with problems related to climate change, technology, and community development.

Take time off and travel. Forget about traveling as a tourist. Instead, structure a trip that takes you off the beaten path. Go to an unconventional place. Backpack and get lost. The broader and richer experience pays dividends down the line. Steve Jobs described his time living in India as one of the most enriching and mind-opening phases of his life, and this undoubtedly helped him develop the intuition to solve the big problem of making lives simpler through technology.

We don't find happiness by looking within. We go outside and immerse in the world. We are called to a higher purpose by the inescapable circumstances that are laid out on our path. It's our daily struggles that define us and bring out the best in us, and this lays down the foundation to continuously find fulfillment in what we do even when times get tough.

Happiness comes from the intersection of what you love, what you're good at, and what the world needs. We've been told time and again to keep finding the first. Our schools helped developed the second. It's time we put more thought on the third.

What big problems are you trying to solve?

Anonymous
#409469

Editor’s Note: When the members of the class of 2010 entered business school, the economy was strong and their post-graduation ambitions could be limitless. Just a few weeks later, the economy went into a tailspin. They’ve spent the past two years recalibrating their worldview and their definition of success.

The students seem highly aware of how the world has changed (as the sampling of views in this article shows). In the spring, Harvard Business School’s graduating class asked HBS professor Clay Christensen to address them—but not on how to apply his principles and thinking to their post-HBS careers. The students wanted to know how to apply them to their personal lives. He shared with them a set of guidelines that have helped him find meaning in his own life. Though Christensen’s thinking comes from his deep religious faith, we believe that these are strategies anyone can use. And so we asked him to share them with the readers of HBR. To learn more about Christensen’s work, visit his HBR Author Page.

Before I published The Innovator’s Dilemma, I got a call from Andrew Grove, then the chairman of Intel. He had read one of my early papers about disruptive technology, and he asked if I could talk to his direct reports and explain my research and what it implied for Intel. Excited, I flew to Silicon Valley and showed up at the appointed time, only to have Grove say, “Look, stuff has happened. We have only 10 minutes for you. Tell us what your model of disruption means for Intel.” I said that I couldn’t—that I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model, because only with it as context would any comments about Intel make sense. Ten minutes into my explanation, Grove interrupted: “Look, I’ve got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.”

I insisted that I needed 10 more minutes to describe how the process of disruption had worked its way through a very different industry, steel, so that he and his team could understand how disruption worked. I told the story of how Nucor and other steel minimills had begun by attacking the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and later moved up toward the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mills.

When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, “OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is...,” and then went on to articulate what would become the company’s strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.

I’ve thought about that a million times since. If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor business, I’d have been killed. But instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.

That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I’ll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they’ll say, “OK, I get it.” And they’ll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have.

My class at HBS is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. To that backbone I attach different models or theories that help students think about the various dimensions of a general manager’s job in stimulating innovation and growth. In each session we look at one company through the lenses of those theories—using them to explain how the company got into its situation and to examine what managerial actions will yield the needed results.

On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.

The Class of 2010

As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.

Anonymous
Ban Dan, Buriram, Thailand #406336

I agree that this company is horrible as I also had worked here and could able to bear only 3 months. They did not pay my last month salary. I was wrong being honest that I told Mukesh (worst person I have ever met in my life) about my resignation before getting salary. He got the work done from me even after I left by saying that he will pay me but as expexted, he never paid. He yelled at me (& other employees) so many times and I feel he is psycho bcoz normal person doesn't behave like him.

So guys, please dont think twice or thrice before joining rather I would say "Never think to join this company".

Regards,

Victim & Well Wisher

Anonymous
#394937

This is the worst company where I have worked.

Please don't join this company.

Anonymous
#281103

TCMS India (Tcc247.com) Worst Employer & Company (Fraud & Scam) in New Delhi, India

yes this true Mr Jitender,Mr.Dharmendra.Tripathi,and Mr.Satish

first tell me u was fired from tcms tcc247.com .

:grin now tell me u r CHAMAGIRI dosen't help u anymore.###****@!@!@##$%&* ghar bath gaye na

now sitting at home u must regret writing review ... . :cry

teri @#%&******!!

honest employee

Anonymous
#275871

Hi,

The company, TCMS India (Tcc247.com), 37/17, East Patel Nagar, New Delhi, India is the worst employer & worst IT Company.I am fully agree with this point.

The above clarification is given by either the owner of the company or by there current employees forcefully.But dear Jatinder,Dharmendra.Tripathi, come out with truth or I can understand ur problem but promise me once u quit the company u will write the truth here.

So, I advised all who is seeking JOB, this is not the good place to work.They having a negative environment.

So, think twice before joining the company. I’ve lot more to reveal about the company and protect one carrier being spoiled but it’s the face that no one will believe me until unless they are The VICTIM. So, why not try and give a shot to believe it. This is one of the worst companies to work for.

Please inform others to escaped there career.

Even this company is not registered under company registrar go and confirm it from company registrar office situated in Nehru Place -New Delhi or u can check it by online.

An Ex Employee.

Anonymous
#275866

Hi,

The company, TCMS India (Tcc247.com), 37/17, East Patel Nagar, New Delhi, India is the worst employer & worst IT Company.I am fully agree with this point.

All the above explanation is written by the Company Owner directly or by written by there current employees forcefully.A many cases is lodged against of this company.So, I advised all who is seeking job, this is not the good place to work.They having a negative environment.

Please inform others to escaped there career.

An Ex Employee.

Dharmendra.Tripathi
#239407

Hello Everyone,

This is Dharmendra K. Tripathi (SEO Manager – Operations in Tcc247.com). I would like to inform you all that the above complaints about the company TCMS India (www.tcc247.com) is completely wrong.

I am working with the company from last 6 months and never face any kind of problems. Everyone in the company is very good and this company is having very good work culture and environment.

Especially Mr. Mukesh Kapoor (Owner of this company) is a very nice person. He helps all the employees in their problems and always motivates the employees.

Tcc247 is a very good company for fresher as well as for experienced guys because you can learn a lot being a part of the company.

Here, I would also like to request to the person, who has posted the complaint that kindly Delete this wrong complaint about the company as soon as possible.

If anyone would like to take the feedback or would like know something about the company Tcc247.com then please call me on my Mob No: +91-8010310639.

Yours,

Dharmendra K. Tripathi

Anonymous
#238799

Answers from HR Manager.

Hi I am Satish Kumar, Acting HR Manager for the Company, All above claims are baseless, false and seems like an act of our competitors.

First of all someone has faked my name , which right there and then is a criminal activity posted by the author of this note. Author of the above note is against the country laws, against internet laws and are clear cut an act of criminal activities.

No one has the right to say until he / she faces it on a valid ground. Person who has been sacked or absconding from the he job, himself / herself knows the fact.

We are a growing company and salaries are transferred between 7th to 10th every month. Salaries are only deducted if the employee is coming late continuously or has availed leaves without any information. We have strict written HR policies and governing HR laws through which we manage our contractual obligations and disperse functional responsibilities in a professional manner here at Our company.

There is no unnecessary work pressure here at our organization. Security cameras are installed keeping the benefits and security of our employees in the mind. This clearly indicates the frustration of a non performer because due to cameras he /she have no excuse for his unproductive hours. Not using personal mobile phones during the working hours is never a surprise for a performer. These policies are prevalent in almost 90% of all organizations across the globe.

Yes we are into the business from last 10 years and that is just because of our performance during past years. Non performers are never given any opportunity to stay longer. We have the capabilities of managing it with less employees rather that continuing with time passers. Otherwise we would not have sustained for any longer.

This is an ethical co and promotes professionalism and high integrity

We do not fire any employee unless until we have a proper reason. If an employee is fired, then he/she is given a proper notice and dues are cleared.

We understand how to manage our clients and how to deliver the project on time. Client retention is one of our biggest strengths. In order to get the work done on time on a project we know how to manage that.

We are a growing company and at the time of interview is being clearly told to the candidate that we are using our Gurgaon office for Interview and marketing purposes. Also at the same time it is being informed to the candidate and our working location is clearly communicated all the times. We are in a process of relocating to NOIDA.

Only the incompetent and non performers do have excuses on bad environment and policies. If they have been sacked or been just absconding, then they have no other things to do than blaming the employer.

We hire trainees as per their education and skills and they work on only those areas, where they are supposed to.

We know how to run a successful business.

We are a sales oriented company and there is no place for non performers. We do not hire employees to create problem- that is not our objective. If management questions an employee on performance and gives the target for a specified time, then this is not like we are creating problem to the employee.

Without any proof, no one can claim the integrity of our organization. If he / she feel a problem then there is always an option to give a specified notice and get relieved, so that company can also find a better replacement. But if / she leaves the company without any notice and is just absconding, and then there is a loss to the company.

We are equal opportunity organization and welcome all walks of life. We have female and male employees working with us , who are equally productive and they are happy and motivated.

Satish

HR

Anonymous
#238798

I am acting HR coordinator – Jatinder Bansal with TCMS India. Claims here seems to be of our competitors and absolutely baseless and false and criminal in nature.

Our organization is growing and creating wonderful business opportunities not only for our employees but most importantly for our extremely satisfied and successful clients who are ready to vouch any time for us. Please feel free to contact us any time if any live client’s testimonials are required by anyone from our clients

I am personally 100% sure that in this organization along with, management always motivate their employees to grow professionally & personally & they always support each & every employee. On the part of salaries there is a proper channel through which salaries get paid on the time. I have never seen in the deduction of salaries of any employee because of any uncertain instants like electricity failure, internet slow down etc.

I believe that each & every Organization MANAGMENET has right to follow company policies & terms. If any of the employees is not following those policies then anyone of us will for sure react on that accordingly. Mobile phones usage is restricted in each & every organization no one organization will allow you to use personal phones in the working hours time (without any necessary work) & same is happening in this organization & everyone can use their personal phones in the break times & moreover each dept. has one dedicated phone on which they can receive or make calls (in case of emergency).

I would say stability does not depend upon company structure or employee strength, it only depends of each individual, if you are performing well getting paid fairly for that then you will never leave that organization (without having any specific reason). In this organization there is one good thing is that we can be in touch with the management at any point of time. If any employee is facing any type of problem & if problem is not getting solved in their dept. they can discuss with the management & management surely come up with some solutions & alternative ways.

If any employee leave any organization without providing any notice then I believe that organization has some rights to recover the loss through pre singed contract sand job terms agreements.

I agree that in any organization HR is the bridge between employer & employee & I don’t see any thing wrong there also. Signing a bond is choice of every employee before the final confirmation & every employee decides whether they are agree or not & if candidate is comfortable signing such bond before the joining in that case it’s company is no where wrong because it was his/her choice to go with such type of policy or not before shaking hands. Also they are kind enough that if you have already signed any such type of bond & you want to leave the company at any time, employee has such type of freedom that they can provide a proper notice to the company & company will return back the check to the employee & also their relative documents such as (relieving letter, experience letter, etc.)

It is never said to the any employee that he/she is going to work in Gurgaon office, it is very clearly told to every one that their working location is New Delhi. I don’t think so it matters a lot for any professional that how big his/her office is what matters a lot is that what are the carrer growth opportunities available in the organization.

I totally agree with this blog that you have to give one chance to ourselves to be a part of this organization & then only you will come to know about what is all true written in the above blog, so I also refer you to be a part of this organization & enjoy working there. It is a growing organization & you get ample opportunities to grow you professional by working with very talented colleagues & very supportive management.

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