Friday Book Review! Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

Image result for smarter faster betterNew York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, overwhelmed by deadlines and commitments, sought advice from a friend of a friend: Atul Gawande, best-selling author, surgeon, Harvard professor, advisor to the World Health Organization and entrepreneur. Duhigg wanted to know how he could be as productive as Gawande.

Duhigg defines productivity as “attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort … It’s about getting things done without sacrificing everything we care about along the way.” Gawande replied that he was “running flat out with my various commitments,” confirming to Duhigg that even the most productive people in the world became overbooked. He later discovered, however, that Gawande did not have time for him just then because he was going to a rock concert with his children followed by a mini-vacation with his wife. “There were people out there who knew how to be more productive,” Duhigg writes. “I just had to convince them to share their secrets with me.”

The result of this quest is Duhigg’s newest book, Smarter Faster Better. In this fascinating book, Duhigg uses wide-ranging illustrative narratives backed by scientific studies. The Story of Two Planes In his chapter on how to focus better, for example, Duhigg tells the stories of two flight emergencies. In the first case, the pilots became overwhelmed by sudden alarms (after hours of autopilot flying), and instead of seeing the big picture and making the simple correction required (slightly lowering the nose of the plane), they focused intently on the wrong indicators in front of them. The nose of the plane kept pointing further upwards until the plane stalled and fell in the ocean, killing all 229 aboard.

The pilots, explain Duhigg, had fallen victim to “cognitive tunneling,” which occurs when a suddenly overwhelmed brain compensates by focusing exclusively on whatever stimuli is in front of it, in this case irrelevant gauges and printouts. In the second narrative of the chapter, an engine explodes, severely damaging one of the wings. The damage was so extensive that the pilot could have been easily overwhelmed by all that was going wrong. Yet, by imagining that he was flying a simple Cessna instead of a giant, highly complex Airbus 340, the pilot focused on what he had to do to turn the plane around and land it safely. It was the most damaged Airbus 340 ever to land safely. The key was the “mental model” that the pilot had created in his head by telling himself a story: that he was landing a Cessna. To continue reading, click here.

Move Beyond the Competition

MatterCompanies and people that matter have successfully become the obvious choice in the hearts and minds of their customers, their employees and their communities. They elevate themselves by consistently finding ways to solve the most pressing needs their markets face. The result? They create more value year after year and build a sustainable, differentiated organization. In Matter, Peter Sheahan and Julie Williamson show you how to identify the place where you can create the most value — your edge of disruption — at the intersection of old and new, where your existing profits, reach and reputation enable you to create the markets of the future.

This is the place where the most important problems are solved and where the fewest people can solve them. Your edge of disruption is where your opportunity to matter is found. Matter uses extensive case studies of real companies that have successfully become the obvious choice in their markets. Through their journeys, you will find the inspiration and courage to lean in to complexity and solve the higher value problems that matter most. Don’t just read this book — use it to identify and act on opportunities to create the most value and accelerate your own journey to becoming a person and a company that matters.

 

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• What it means to be a company that matters.
• The three-step process for becoming a company that matters.
• How to do the hard work of reinventing yourself, rather than working hard at what you’ve always done.
• How to make thought leadership a way of life

 

Friday Book Review! The Third Wave by Steve Case

Image result for third wave steve caseIf the title of AOL founder Steve Case’s book, The Third Wave, sounds eerily familiar, it is no accident. Case remembers reading futurist Alvin Toffler’s book of the same name in college and wanted to be part of Toffler’s “electronic global village.” And he was. The term AOL seems very oldschool today — and Case explains what happened further in the book — but there was a time when the company he founded, based on the concept of provided services via the Internet, was a pillar of the information age — or more specifically what he calls the “First Wave” of the information age.

The First Wave of the Internet, writes Case, “was about building the infrastructure and foundation for an online world.” It was led by companies such as Cisco, Sprint, HP, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and AOL, who created the hardware, software and networks that connected people to the Internet and to each other. Once everyone was online, the Second Wave kicked in. We are still in this Second Wave, the era of the information age, when companies, Case explains, built “on top” of the Internet. Think Google, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and even the iPhone.

We are, however, on the cusp of a Third Wave of the Internet, writes Case, in which the Internet becomes a “ubiquitous force in the world” connected to everything we do. The Internet will be part and parcel of all the facets of our lives, including our healthcare and education systems, and even what we eat. As Case puts it eloquently, the Third Wave “is the era in which products will require the Internet, even if the Internet doesn’t define them. It is the era when the term “Internet-enabled” will start to sound as ludicrous as the term “electricity-enabled,” as if either were notable differentiators.”

First-Wave Issues Society often advances in linear fashion so that the present era moves forward from the past, and the future moves forward from the present. In some ways, however, the Third Wave represents a return to the world of the First Wave — not in outcomes but in means. In other words, success in the Third Wave will depend in large part on the success factors of the First Wave, including a heavy reliance on collaboration and partnership, careful attention to policy and the courage to scale high barriers to entry. Building the infrastructure in the First Wave was capital-intensive, and the same investment partnerships will be required to redraw a nation’s healthcare system or other components of our society.

The Second Wave was different; it was the era when billion dollar companies could be built by a few tech-savvy friends with a computer and a good idea (example: make it easier to search the Internet). The barriers to entry were low, as were the required upfront investment. There still may be some best-selling apps on the horizon, but good luck launching another Twitter or Facebook from your dorm room. One of the domains in which Third-Wave entrepreneurs must be fluent, Case writes, is in government policy.

To continue reading this review, click here!

[FREE WEBINAR] What Makes the Great Teams Great

soundview webinar speakerWhat Makes the Great Teams Great

Date: Thursday, September 29
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Don Yaeger

Click here to register

There is nothing more magical than watching a team come together, to manage adversity as a group, selflessly give to others, to find common purpose. Inspiring that to happen year-in and year-out is what keeps us in leadership.

In this FREE Soundview Live webinar, What Makes the Great Teams Great, Don Yaeger identifies what allows some teams to play at a championship level year after year and how to apply these characteristics in your organization.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What makes a team truly great
  • How to grow a winning culture within your organization
  • How to manage dysfunction, friction, and strong personalities

Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions

Image result for impossible to ignoreAudiences forget up to 90 percent of what you communicate. How can your employees and customers decide to act on your message if they only remember a tenth of it? How do you know which tenth they’ll remember? How will you stay on their minds long enough to spark the action you need? Many experts have offered techniques on how to improve your own memory but not how to influence other people’s memory –– and impact their decisions. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Carmen Simon, Ph.D., reveals how to avoid the hazards of random recall and deliver just the right amount of content. In Impossible to Ignore, she shows you how to execute a proven three-step plan for persuasion: create cues that attract attention and connect with your audience’s needs; use memory-influencing variables to control what your audience remembers; and turn today’s intentions into tomorrow’s actions. Whether you’re giving a presentation, conducting a meeting, delivering training, making a sales pitch or creating a marketing campaign, these field-tested techniques will help you develop content that speaks to people’s hearts, stays in their heads and influences their decisions. It’s not just memorable –– it’s Impossible to Ignore.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN
• To view memory from the angle of the future, which is more practical when influencing behavior.
• To use three key steps to influence memory and decisions.
• To create distinct, repeatable messages that your customers won’t forget.
• How to differentiate between expectation and anticipation and why it matters for memorable content.
• How to retrieve memories through narrative techniques.

Review: The Founder’s Mentality By Chris Zook and James Allen

Image result for The Founder’s Mentality By Chris Zook and James AllenNew companies are notoriously fragile. Yet, as any company grows, moving past its tumultuous beginnings, it runs into three crises, write veteran Bain consultants Chris Zook and James Allen in their book, The Founder’s Mentality. The first crisis is overload: the company fails to scale its business successfully, succumbing instead to internal dysfunction. The second crisis is stall-out: bureaucracy and organizational complexity sap the energy and agility of the company’s younger days. The third predictable crisis is free fall: saddled with an obsolete business model, the company watches its market share dissipate.

According to the authors’ research, the reason for companies inevitably facing (and often being defeated) by these crises can be traced to the loss of what they call “the founder’s mentality.”

The founder’s mentality consists of three defining traits.

The first is, according to the authors, “the insurgent mission” — the belief that the company is not simply selling products but is at “war” with an industry stuck in the past or underserving customers.

The second defining trait of the founder’s mentality is “the front-line obsession,” which is more than an intense focus on customers and the front-line employees who serve them. Founders tend to obsess about every detail in the customer-company interface.

Finally, the third defining trait is “the owner’s mindset.” When people work for a small company fighting for its survival, they see themselves as owners of the company. They are completely invested in its success.

These founder’s mentality traits give a company its edge and its energy. But over time, as the company grows and becomes more hierarchical and more entrenched, as executives are further and further removed from the front lines, and as a dedicated bunch of committed “owners” becomes a large mass of employees, this edge and energy dissipate.

In order to overcome the inevitable crises that companies will face in their history, they must keep or restore the founder’s mentality.

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Guest Blog: Displaying Worthy Intent by Ed Wallace

 

Image result for the relationship engine ed wallaceI call this principle The Relationship Engine because when we “put the other person’s best interest ahead of our own” we continuously drive outstanding business relationships. As you can attest from your own experience, we are willing to invest in a relationship when we are confident that the other person not only means us no harm but wishes to actively do good for us and has no hidden agenda. According to Chris Malone, managing partner of Fidelum Partners and coauthor with Susan T. Fiske from Princeton University of the groundbreaking book The Human Brand, “intent” is the underlying psychology and dominant factor that drives our behavior.

Malone explains that we have been hardwired by evolution to try to determine other people’s intentions toward us based on body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and so on. Back when we were primitive, correctly judging someone’s intentions meant life or death and was more predictive of your survival than judging someone’s competence or ability. This core instinct is still baked into us and it has not changed in thousands of years. These conclusions have been validated over the past twenty years across forty countries with Dr. Fiske as the leading authority on this concept.

Malone cites that every year there seems to be some new theory of how the business and leadership world works. He asked me rhetorically, “How can all of these leadership ideas and theories all be true? What is the common thread?” He believes that Worthy Intent is the underlying psychology that allows all of the models to work.

Once this foundation of Displaying Worthy Intent is established, there is almost no limit to what can be accomplished through a business or even a personal relationship. Start driving your great intentions today!

Join Ed Wallace for a Soundview Live webinar next Tuesday, 9/20! He’ll be discussing how to connect with people who power your business.
Click here to register

The Three-Box Solution by Vijay Govindarajan

Speed Review: The Three-Box SolutionIt’s an age-old problem for business: succeeding today while preparing for the future. One might think that today’s success lays the foundation for the future, but in business such thinking is a guaranteed path to failure. Just ask Kodak. Or Blockbuster. Each dominated their categories only to find themselves in bankruptcy court. While they were winning in the present, they were laying the groundwork for failure. In sum, what you do today to succeed has less relevance on what you’ll need to do tomorrow than you might think.

From Linear to Non-Linear

Hindsight is always 20/20, especially in strategy and innovation. In real-time, however, how to allocate attention and resources to maintain the present while building the future is far from obvious. Enter Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Tuck School of Business with a number of best-sellers on strategy and innovation to his name. In his new book, The Three-Box Solution, Govindarajan offers a framework, based on three boxes, that is both methodology and mindset for attacking the dual and often conflicting imperatives of succeeding today and preparing to succeed tomorrow.

Box 1, according to Govindarajan, is about managing the present — implementing the strategies, tactics and approaches required to operate at “peak efficiency.”

Box 2 is about forgetting the past — divesting businesses and letting go of practices and assumptions that are becoming obsolete.

Box 3 is about creating the future — developing new business models to ensure long-term success.

Companies must pay attention to all three boxes at once, which means, Govindarajan explains, focusing on both linear and non-linear innovation. Linear innovation is extrapolated from a company’s current activities. Non-linear innovation doesn’t build on current activities but, instead, targets new and old customers with new business models and products. Linear innovation is vital for success in Box 1; non-linear innovation is at the heart of Box 3.

It is perhaps Box 2, however, that holds the key to the entire framework. In order to transition from present to future, Govindarajan explains, you have to deal with the past. Toy- and game-maker Hasbro offers one example of how the three-box solution works. Launched in the 1920s by three brothers, Hasbro was known for its traditional products such as the Monopoly game. Its distribution model was simple: toy stores. With the arrival of the Internet, it’s distribution expanded to the web.

To keep customers coming back for more, Hasbro maintained its Box 1 linear innovations — for example, developing Star Wars-themed versions of its classic Monopoly and Mr. Potato Head.

However, it is Hasbro’s Box 3 non-linear innovations that have positioned the company for long-term success.

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Combat Work Overload

Image result for recharge your mind

It is not that we want to run people over, and yet we often do as we are consumed by schedules and agendas, Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram point out in 5 Gears. When someone feels the pressure of a deadline or fears the roar of a boss’s voice, it is natural to shift focus to alleviating the immediate concern rather than focus on our long-term relationships.

But this tends to steal, kill and destroy our presence to those we are closest to most of the time. People run over other people when they are not present or focused on the person or people they are with in the moment. This is where most influence is undermined as people get tired of getting run over. Eventually, people move away from those who are not present toward others who have more life and less drama. People don’t mean to run each other over, but the truth is that we can all have moments when we are in a different gear than the other person.

Our minds can easily get stuck in work mode or kid stories or random thoughts, and we can, unknowingly, run others over with our chatter and self-absorption. Whether it is speaking directly to us or ignoring the most obvious social hints, unawareness is pandemic. It usually gets worse in the office environment. Some leaders become different people the moment they walk into an office setting. For some, they shift into the “dominator” mode as they bark orders, forget about an employee’s birthday or send emails that would make their mother blush.

Do you have an intentional recharge zone or a routine you have disciplined yourself to follow that helps you downshift to rest, refuel and renew your energy? When you are not recharged or fully rested, it is almost impossible to be present with someone else, let alone add value to his or her life. When you are charged up and rested well, then you have the ability to impact those around you, which will simultaneously impact your influence.

Recharging does not happen the same way for everyone, though, and it is important to note that your natural personality and wiring will influence how you need to recharge. Introverts recharge internally, like a battery pack. They need to plug into an energy source directly and recharge on their own from within. Extroverts, on the other hand, are like solar panels: Their recharge happens from external power sources like ideas or people or experiences. Some recharge sources for introverts are sleeping, reading novels or biographies; taking long runs or walks alone. Introverts are normally more disciplined with their personal time and take time to pursue individual hobbies like art, gardening, cooking, woodworking, etc. Some typical recharges for extroverts are time with a mentor, discussing ideas, being with people, going to a concert or movie, speaking, reading and exercise.

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Strategies to Combat Gender Bias

Image result for breaking through biasWomen continue to face unconscious biases in the workplace that undermine their success, according to Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris, authors of the new book Breaking Through Bias. Although written by long-time activists working to break down barriers to women in the workplace, Breaking Through Bias is not an indictment of gender discrimination but, rather, a straightforward guide on how women can achieve success in spite of the discrimination.

For Kramer and Harris, a husband-and-wife team of attorneys, the secret to overcoming the gender bias, deliberate or unconscious, that pervades today’s workplace is to develop an effective communication style through which women can display their competence and experience while neither encouraging nor buying into gender stereotypes. The authors call this attuned gender communication.

The general message of the book, however, is twofold. First, while women are not to blame for gender stereotypes, they sometimes undermine their own efforts to overcome such stereotypes. The second message is that many women do not even attempt to battle stereotypes; instead they buy into them.

For example, a study of men and women who had graduated from an elite international MBA program revealed that women were far less likely to apply for jobs in finance and consulting and far more likely to apply for general management jobs — no doubt because of the unconscious bias of the women that men are better at math or handling the pressure of consulting, while women are better at the soft skills needed to successfully manage people.

The focus of their book, however, is to help women who refuse to buy into the biases but understand that they have a responsibility to help themselves. The challenge of this “help yourself” message is illustrated in the story of a leader that Kramer was coaching remotely. Ellen was constantly passed over for promotions because, according to her superiors, she was a “sloppy thinker.” When Kramer finally met Ellen, she discovered a leader who dressed so casually “it was hard for me to tell if she was wearing her pajamas or a sweat suit.” At Kramer’s suggestions, Ellen started dressing “like a banker” and never heard the “sloppy thinker” comment again.

The story does not end there, however. Kramer recounted Ellen’s experience in a workshop and learned later that many of the women criticized Kramer’s actions. “These women said that I had advised Ellen to be inauthentic and to buy into traditional stereotypes,” Kramer writes. Although disappointed that she had failed to get her message across, Kramer was also sad. “I realized that the women who had criticized me were unlikely to get as far as they wanted to in their own careers if they really thought that a woman would lose her authenticity if she didn’t go to important meetings dressed in her pajamas,” she writes.

The fact of the matter is that impressions count, and indeed, the importance of managing impressions is one of the key lessons in the book. As the authors explain, “…..

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