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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
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Why Privacy Regulations Don’t Always Do What They’re Meant To
Maartje Van Caspel/EyeEm/Getty Images First, California passed major privacy legislation in June. Then in late September, the Trump administration published official principles for a single national privacy standard. Not to be left out, House Democrats previewed their own Internet “Bill of Rights” earlier this month. Sweeping privacy regulations, in short, are likely coming to the United States. That should be welcome news, given the sad, arguably nonexistent state of our modern right to privacy. But there are serious dangers in any new move to regulate data. Such regulations could backfire — for example, by entrenching already dominant technology companies or by failing to help consumers actually control the data we generate (presumably the major goal of any new legislation). That’s where Brent Ozar comes in. Ozar runs a small technology consulting company in California that provides training and troubleshooting for a database management system called Microsoft SQL Server. With a team of four people, Ozar’s company is by all means modest in scope, but it has a small international client base. Or at least it did, until European regulators in May began to enforce a privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), can carry fines of up to 4% of global revenue. A few months before the GDPR began to be enforced, Ozar announced that it had forced his company to, in his words, “stop selling stuff to Europe.” As a consumer, Ozar wrote, he loved the regulations; but as a business, he simply couldn’t afford the costs of compliance or the risks of getting it wrong. And Ozar wasn’t alone. Even larger international organizations like the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune — along with over 1,000 other news outlets — simply blocked any user accessing their sites with a European IP address rather than confront the costs of the GDPR. So why should this story play a central role in the push to enact new privacy regulations here in the United States? Because Ozar illustrates how privacy regulations come with huge costs. Privacy laws are, from one perspective, a transaction cost imposed on all our interactions with digital technologies. Sometimes those costs are minimal. But sometimes those costs can be prohibitive. Privacy regulations, in short, can be dangerous. So how can we minimize these dangers? First, as regulators become more serious about enacting new privacy laws in the United States, they will be tempted to implement generic, broad-based regulations rather than to enshrine specific prescriptions in law. Even though in the fast-moving world of technology, it’s always easier to write general rules than more explicit recommendations, they should avoid this temptation wherever possible. Overly broad regulations that treat all organizations equallycan end up encouraging “data monopolies” — where only a few companies can make use of all our data. Some organizations will have the resources to comply with complex, highly ambiguous laws; others (like Ozar’s) will not. This means that the regulatory burden on data should be tiered so that the costs of compliance are not equal across unequal organizations. California’s Consumer Privacy Act confronts this problem directly by opting out specific business segments such as many smaller organizations. The costs of compliance for any new regulation must not give additional advantages to the already-dominant tech companies of the world. Second, and relatedly, a few organizations are increasingly in charge of much of our data, which presents a huge danger both to our privacy and to technological innovation. Any new privacy regulation must actively incentivize organizations that are smaller to share or pool data so that they can compete with larger data-driven organizations. One possible solution to this problem is by encouraging the use of what are called privacy enhancing technologies, or PETs, such as differential privacy, homomorphic encryption, federated learning, and more. PETs, long championed by privacy advocates, help balance the tradeoff between the utility of data on the one hand and its privacy and security on the other. Last, user consent — the idea of users actively consenting to the collection of their data at a given point in time — can no longer play a central role in protecting our privacy. This has long been a dominant aspect of major privacy frameworks (think of all the “I Accept” buttons you’ve clicked to enter a website). But in the age of big data and machine learning, we simply cannot know the value of the information we give up at the point of collection. The entire value of machine learning lies in its ability to detect patterns at scale. At any given time, the cost to our privacy of giving up small amounts of data is minimal; over time, however, that cost can become enormous. The famous case of Target knowing a teenager was pregnant before her family did, based simply on her shopping habits, is one among many such examples. As a result, we cannot assume that we are ever fully informed about the privacy we’re giving up at anysingle point in time. Consumers must be able to exercise rights over their data long after it’s been collected, and those rights should include restricting how it’s being used. Unless ours laws can adapt to new digital technologies correctly — unless they can calibrate the balance between the cost of the compliance burden and the value of privacy rights they seek to uphold — we run some very real risks. We can all too easily implement new laws that fail to preserve our privacy while also hindering the use of new technology, and both at the same time.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
The Art of Claiming Credit
From the Women at Work podcast:Listen and subscribe to our podcast via Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RSS Download the discussion guide for this episodeJoin our online community Download this podcast Have you ever offered up an idea in a meeting and been ignored — but then, 10 minutes later, a man repeated the idea and everyone called it brilliant? Or have you ever worked hard on a team project and been left off the thank-you email? If we aren’t thoughtful about how we present our ideas at work, we risk not being heard or, worse, missing out on the credit we’re due. Research shows that women get less credit when we work in groups with men. So, it’s important for us to be strategic with our suggestions and insights. We talk with two experts on workplace dynamics and difficult conversations. First, Amy Jen Su covers how to artfully share your contributions. Next, Amy Gallo tells us how to call out credit stealers. Guests: Amy Jen Su is a managing partner and a cofounder of Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review. She’s the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict. Resources: ● “Research: Men Get Credit for Voicing Ideas, but Not Problems. Women Don’t Get Credit for Either,” by Sean Martin ● “Proof That Women Get Less Credit for Teamwork,” by Nicole Torres ● “Research: Junior Female Scientists Aren’t Getting the Credit They Deserve,” by Marc J. Lerchenmueller and Olav Sorenson ● “How to Respond When Someone Takes Credit for Your Work,” by Amy Gallo Fill out our survey about workplace experiences. Email us here: womenatwork@hbr.org Our theme music is Matt Hill’s “City In Motion,” provided by Audio Network.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
“We Had Gone Back 20 Years.” The Heads of Puerto Rico’s Largest Media Company on Life After Hurricane Maria
AFP Contributor/Getty Images When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, it became one of the deadliest storms ever to hit the island. Nearly 3,000 people were killed and parts of the island are still recovering, lacking access to power and clean water more than a year later. For one of Puerto Rico’s largest companies, Grupo Ferré Rangel, the impact has been enormous. The family-owned business runs Puerto Rico’s largest media company&#8212 (GFR Media) as well as other companies focused on customer engagement (LinkActive) and real estate (Kingbird). Company President Maria Luisa Ferré Rangel and Chief Creative Officer Loren Ferré Rangel recently sat down with HBR to discuss how GFR has changed since Maria struck. “After Hurricane María,” said María Luisa, “Puerto Rico will never be the same. Our memories are grounded in the fact that we went to bed with one reality, one country or one island; 24 hours later we woke up in a different place.” An edited and condensed version of our conversation follows. HBR: As publishers and editors, you had to cover the disaster while your employees — and your businesses, by extension — faced extraordinary obstacles. How did you approach those first days and weeks? María Luisa: Puerto Rico was completely devastated, and all of our businesses were impacted, too. Inside the newsroom, we had families living in the cafeteria, conference rooms, training centers etc.; there were 200 people who lived in our newsroom for weeks. We had to put in a daycare center, a catering center, provide cash because there was no way for people to take money out of the bank, provide cars for people, especially reporters, to get around. We worried all the time about having enough fuel for the generators. And that was just for our employees. When it came to the business, we had gone back 20 years and distributed the paper as a print product. The whole island was isolated from the world. It was a race to transform ourselves. We were responsible for informing and connecting everyone in a very tricky environment. From the first moment, because our business is connecting people, we had to pick ourselves up and do our job. But the hurricane forced us to see ourselves in a different way. Our call centers became the FEMA call centers. We were supplying electricity and water to our properties that are part of our real estate business, and so we began to rent out small spaces to people who needed to get back to work but had no place to go. We gave space to NGOs so they could also be first responders in the emergency. We started to think about what other services we could provide, and this is when we began to refocus our business. What do you mean, refocus? María Luisa: The hurricane forced us to stretch our thinking, challenging our perception of what we believe we could do — what we are capable of achieving in times of crisis. Crisis brings opportunities to explore uncharted territories. We’re now looking into developing other businesses and strengthening our presence in other industries. For example, now with our call center experience, we are competing for the call centers for the U.S. and Caribbean. We are evaluating coworking space opportunities. We’re looking at affordable housing with a group that can build quickly with new technology that is hurricane proof and can prove self-sufficient after an emergency with integrated solar panels and battery packs. We’re investing in hurricane proof solar panels that are applicable to various surfaces. In addition, we are evaluating investing in small startups that are offering solutions to facilitate living. These opportunities sprouted from the crisis. The ecosystem changed, Puerto Rico changed. We needed to adjust our plan to give room and seize the opportunities that had risen within housing, energy, and services. What made you ready for these opportunities? Loren: No one was really ready for the outcome post-María. However, having to navigate the landscape and having to get our businesses back in track, gave us the capacity to see the needs and thus the opportunities that were evident after the hurricane. We identified jobs to be done. The hurricane forced us to see ourselves in a different way. María Luisa: Our businesses were able to operate immediately after Maria because we planned for redundancy — generators, diesel, tech infrastructure. For example, we had three internet suppliers and although connection was nonexistent internally, we were able to transmit and keep our coverage on our websites for those outside of Puerto Rico. We were highly focused on covering the story of Puerto Rico and helping the world understand what was going on here. The printed newspaper was the only source of information available at that moment, and we understood the importance of people having information that could save their lives, that is why we decided to [distribute] the paper for free. The hurricane had a huge financial impact, especially for the media company. We had no advertising because most of our advertisers were closed, their agencies without power. The reality of running a continuous operation, the extra expenses of diesel, gasoline, food, and then we had the cost of taking care of our employees and their families, without the revenues amounted to a $14 million loss, which we were counting on our business interruption insurance policy to cover, but at this moment we haven’t received any payment from this part of the insurance. As a family, we had to put up the money to keep the media company running for months until slowly the advertising dollars started to come back. The reality of having an operation that was debt free became very real, because if in addition to the $14 million loss, we needed to pay our interest on loans/debt, it would have made it impossible for us to continue operations. Soon after the hurricane, you had to make cuts at the media company. Were those related to the losses? Or a desire to invest in other newer parts of the business — the solar, the housing, the call centers, etc? María Luisa: This was one of the most difficult decisions in our lives. We had great challenges in front of us, and we needed to make changes throughout the company, in order to continue our mission. In terms of the media company, we needed to revise processes and look for efficiencies. Our industry has been in the middle of a great transformation and the impact of the hurricane made it much worse, that is why it was so difficult to make the decisions, but also necessary to sustain the business through a very very difficult time. On the human side, we knew that some of these decisions were dramatic, but at the end we had to ensure the sustainability of the business in the middle of the crisis. Do you feel that the company has stabilized? How long has it taken to restore a sense of normalcy? María Luisa: It was really chaotic for a while because you had to survive every day. We didn’t know if we had enough diesel to operate. Most of us were not living at home. When you drove around Puerto Rico, there were no traffic signals, no policemen. And we had a mandatory curfew. We couldn’t be out in the street after 5 p.m. This lasted about a month. The moment we started feeling as though we had routines, we felt the chaos subside. Even if it was just being at work and picking up trash in your office. Then, when the power started to come back, we started to feel a lot more secure. Then the water came back, and we started to feel more in control. This was four months after the hurricane. None of our businesses stopped running, but the moment we were able to be fully operational was a big deal. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have issues. We were losing money. That’s when we realized we had to create a new strategy. That we didn’t have time. That we had to move very fast. It sounds like even though the chaos was subsiding, there was a lot that was still unsettled for a lot of people. How do you introduce a new strategy when employees are already stressed? Was it even a good idea to introduce a new strategy at this time? María Luisa: Our focus was on making sure our employees were safe and on their way to full recovery. But we quickly started pulling people together in new ways and working in teams and across silos. The teams knew the company was stable but under threat. You can imagine my thoughts of, “How do you tell them that it’s going to be ok? How do you motivate them?” In our regular meetings with all the teams, and in every conference room, we pasted a Winston Churchill quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We also pasted a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” We wanted people to know that the important thing for us was to keep moving forward and celebrate moving forward. That mentality has really helped us. Beyond shifting in strategy, how did Maria change your business? What are some of the lessons that you learned? María Luisa: We learned about our emergency operations. We were relying so much on technology that we forgot basics like having a list of where employees live, on paper. The computers didn’t work. We couldn’t send emails. Now we have a roster. We have added regular land lines as backup in communication and now we are working on mapping out where our employees live and how to physically reach them in case of an emergency, also creating emergency centers in our distribution buildings and call centers buildings. And, in the media company, we were so into covering the story, in surviving the moment, that we might have lost sight that our own people were suffering. We look outside a lot — we covered the loss of Puerto Rico, but maybe we didn’t look inside enough. In hindsight, while we were working through the crisis, focused on getting the information out, we should have also had a group of our own people looking to the needs of our staff and having the space and time to process what has happened to them on individual levels too… counseling, for example. Now we’re creating a wellness program to help people deal with the trauma everybody had. And that nourishing part is a lesson to be learned. You’ve just marked the 100th anniversary of GFR. And the one-year anniversary of Maria. What are you thinking about most? What are you hopeful about? What are you worried about? We are thinking about the future. The social inequalities unveiled by this disaster must be addressed. How do we become resilient and how do we keep transforming — until every Puerto Rican family has a secure roof over their heads, functioning and affordable utilities, access to quality education and health services, jobs, safety, and food on their table? This is work that continues until our businesses and our economy are back on track and the social fiber of our society is regenerated and healed. Our family has been in Puerto Rico for over a century, and we are planning to be around for many, many more years to come. We have been present and committed to Puerto Rico during times of prosperity, but most importantly, during times of adversity. Adversity has a way of reminding us how strong we all can be.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
AI’s Potential to Diagnose and Treat Mental Illness
The United States faces a mental health epidemic. Nearly one in five American adults suffers from a form of mental illness. Suicide rates are at an all-time high, 115 people die daily from opioid abuse, and one in eight Americans over 12 years’ old take an antidepressant every day. The economic burden of depression alone is estimated to be at least $210 billion annually, with more than half of that cost coming from increased absenteeism and reduced productivity in the workplace. In a crisis that has become progressively dire over the past decade, digital solutions — many with artificial intelligence (AI) at their core — offer hope for reversing the decline in our mental wellness. New tools are being developed by tech companies and universities with potent diagnostic and treatment capabilities that can be used to serve large populations at reasonable costs. AI solutions are arriving at an opportune time. The nation is confronting a critical shortfall in psychiatrists and other mental health specialists that is exacerbating the crisis. Nearly 40% of Americans live in areas designated by the federal government as having a shortage of mental health professionals; more than 60% of U.S. counties are without a single psychiatrist within their borders. Those fortunate enough to live in areas with sufficient access to mental health services often can’t afford them because many therapists don’t accept insurance. Insight Center The Future of Health Care Sponsored by Medtronic Creating better outcomes at reduced cost. Instead, the countless undiagnosed suffer, or look to emergency rooms and primary care physicians for treatment. Patients with depression, for instance, see their primary care physicians more than five times on average annually, versus fewer than three times for those without depression. For this reason, even though mental health treatment appears to account for only 4% of employer health costs, it’s really linked to nearly a quarter of them. While some may consider the digitization of mental health services impersonal, the inherent anonymity of AI turns out to be a positive in some instances. Patients, who are often embarrassed to reveal problems to a therapist they’ve never met before, let down their guard with AI-powered tools. The lower cost of AI treatments versus seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist is another plus. These advantages help AI tools ferret out the undiagnosed, speed up needed treatment, and improve the odds of positive outcomes. Like all digitization efforts in health care and other industries, these new tools pose risks, especially to patient privacy. Health care has already become a prime target of hackers as more and more records have been digitized. But hacking claims data is one thing; getting access to each patient’s most intimate details presents a whole new type of risk — particularly when those details are linked to consumer data and social media logins. Providers must design their solutions from the outset to employ mitigation techniques such as storing minimal personally identifiable data, regularly deleting session transcripts following analysis, and encrypting data on the server itself (not just communications). AI vendors also must deal with the acknowledged limitations of AI, such as a tendency for machine learning to discriminate based on race, gender, or age. For instance, if an AI tool that uses speech patterns to detect mental illness is trained using speech samples only from one demographic group, working with patients from outside that group might result in false alerts and incorrect diagnoses. Similarly, a virtual therapist trained primarily on the faces of tech company employees may be less effective reading non-verbal cues from women, people of color, or seniors — few of whom work in tech. To avoid this risk, AI vendors must recognize the tendency and develop AI tools using the same rigorous standards as research clinicians who diligently seek test groups representative of the whole community. More broadly, AI’s scale can be both a blessing and a curse. With AI, one poor programming choice carries the risk of harming millions of patients. Just as in drug development, we’re going to need careful regulation to make sure that large-scale treatment protocols remain safe and effective. But as long as appropriate safeguards are in place, there are concrete signs that AI offers a powerful diagnostic and therapeutic tool in the battle against mental illness. Below, we examine four approaches with the greatest promise. Making humans better. At their most basic level, AI solutions help psychiatrists and other mental health professionals do their jobs better. They collect and analyze reams of data much more quickly than humans could and then suggest effective ways to treat patients. Ginger.io’s virtual mental health services — including video and text-based therapy and coaching sessions — provide a good example. Through analyzing past assessments and real-time data collected using mobile devices, the Ginger.io app can help specialists track patients’ progress, identify times of crisis, and develop individualized care plans. In a year-long survey of Ginger.io users, 72 percent reported clinically significant improvements in symptoms of depression. Anticipating problems. Mental health diagnosis is also being supplemented by machine-learning tools, which automatically expand their capabilities based on experience and new data. One example is Quartet Health, which screens patient medical histories and behavioral patterns to uncover undiagnosed mental health problems. For instance, Quartet can flag possible anxiety based on whether someone has been repeatedly tested for a non-existent cardiac problem. It also can recommend pre-emptive follow-up in cases where patients may become depressed or anxious after receiving a bad diagnosis or treatment for a major physical illness. Already being adopted by insurance companies and employer medical plans, Quartet has reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations by 15 to 25% for some of its users. Dr. Bot. So-called chatbot counseling is another AI tool producing results. Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation, either through text or a voice-enabled AI interface. In mental health, these bots are being pressed into service by employers and health insurers to root out individuals who might be struggling with substance abuse, depression, or anxiety and provide access to convenient and cost-effective care. Woebot, for example, is a chatbot developed by clinical psychologists at Stanford University in 2017. It treats depression and anxiety using a digital version of the 40-year-old technique of cognitive behavioral therapy – a highly structured talk psychotherapy that seeks to alter a patient’s negative thought patterns in a limited number of sessions. In a study of university students suffering from depression, those using Woebot experienced close to a 20% improvement in just two weeks, based on PHQ-9 scores — a common measure of depression. One reason for Woebot’s success with the study group was the high level of participant engagement. At a low cost of $39 per month, most were talking to the bot nearly every day — a level of engagement that simply doesn’t occur with in-person counseling. The next generation. Today’s mental health AI solutions may be just the beginning. The University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies has developed a virtual therapist named Ellie that hints at what’s ahead. Ellie is far more than the usual chatbot — she can also detect nonverbal cues and respond accordingly. For instance, she has learned when to nod approvingly or perhaps utter a well-placed “hmmm” to encourage patients to be more forthcoming. Ellie — an avatar rendered in 3-D on a television screen — functions by using different algorithms that determine her questions, motions, and gestures. The program observes 66 points on the patient’s face and notes the patient’s rate of speech and the length of pauses before answering questions. Ellie’s actions, motions, and speech mimic those of a real therapist — but not entirely, which is an advantage with patients who are fearful of therapy. In a research project with soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan, Ellie uncovered more evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the Post-Deployment Health Assessment administered by the military. Ellie was even able to identify certain “tells” common to individuals suffering from PTSD. With up to 20% of returning veterans coping with PTSD and a staggering suicide rate among the population, the potential impact of a solution like Ellie is significant. As with all potential breakthroughs, caveats remain and safeguards must be developed. Yet, there’s no doubt we’re on the cusp of an AI revolution in mental health — one that holds the promise of both better access and better care at a cost that won’t break the bank.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Managers Can Make Casual Networking Events More Inclusive
Some years ago, at a former company, I began noticing a curious series of events. My manager and team practiced an egalitarian decision-making process in which we would meet, discuss everything from content marketing campaigns to social media tactics, and collectively come up with strategies to move forward with. However, often, I would return to work later in the week to find the decisions that we had initially agreed upon were moot, and the manager was moving forward in a completely new direction. There was no explanation for what initiated these changes. I eventually solved the puzzle; my male manager and certain members of our department were meeting with employees, including leaders, over unplanned, informal networking events at a local bar. There, they would talk shop and decisions were made that excluded others — about who to hire, promote, and assign to important projects. Though I was never invited, I later learned that it wasn’t gender-based. White women at all levels in our department were invited. But as the only woman of color and immigrant woman in my department, I wondered how I could score an invitation. Situations like these aren’t nefarious. Research on affinity bias shows that we are naturally drawn to people who are like us. A casual drink here, a few networking events there with like-minded colleagues isn’t so bad, right? Unfortunately, these seemingly innocuous meetings can have consequences, and most of them fall on the careers of employees from underrepresented backgrounds. This especially applies to immigrant women of color who are often navigating three historically low-status identities: being female, a person of color, and an immigrant. Part of the solution is to invite people from underrepresented backgrounds to these kinds of events. The other solution is one that can create lasting change for diversity and inclusion: to organize inclusive events that welcome employees from all backgrounds. A good first step for managers is to master the below practices, based on interviews I conducted with female leaders who are working to reduce bias in the workplace. 1. Learn about your employees’ preferences, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. After-work drinks can exclude women who shoulder the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities globally. In addition, many women of color are not invited to out-of-office gatherings, whether or not they have children. Ellen Pao’s seminal book Reset is among the growing evidence that shows the consequences women of color, and often immigrants, face from being left out of office networking events — both spontaneous and planned. She writes: “We are either silenced or we are seen as buzzkills. We are either left out of the social network that leads to power — the strip clubs and the steak dinners and the all-male ski trips — and so we don’t fit in, or our presence leads to changes in the way things are done, and that causes anger, which means we still don’t fit in.” To ensure all women feel included, managers need to first understand the practices that exclude them, as well as the barriers that stop them from attending work functions. “As a manager, it’s necessary to ask questions about your employee’s preferences in a respectful way,” says Adina, a manager at a global technology company. These include dietary preferences and activities that make your employees feel comfortable. “Make sure there are always options for people with restrictions: of food, drink and activities,” she adds. It’s important to ask these questions privately so that the employee doesn’t feel targeted in a group setting. The most effective way is to ask in person, one-on-one. You can also include questions surrounding personal preferences for work events in an organization-wide, anonymous survey. 2. Engage a diverse planning committee. Formal company events should have a diverse planning committee that understands how to serve a diverse group of people. Susi Collins, Senior Program Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at Nordstrom, advises that managers empower “all employees to contribute to the content of the event, especially women, junior colleagues, and people of color.” Throughout the planning and execution, attribute ideas to their originators, and concretely and explicitly praise the contribution of women of color, she adds. The contribution of women, particularly women of color, is often undermined. Giving credit and calling attention to it affirms its importance. While planning, also try to listen more than you talk and be mindful of how you are taking up space, especially if the topic of discussion is not your expertise. Constantly being the loudest voice in the room reinforces the social dynamics you are trying to change, those that position only men and white people as leaders, and women of color as support staff. 3. Plan more events that don’t center around alcohol — and don’t immediately assume that women of color don’t drink. In the U.S. and Western Europe, networking culture often revolves around alcohol, which can leave out people who don’t drink. Planning more events that aren’t alcohol-driven is key to being more inclusive. Even if an event is at a bar or alcohol is present, don’t assume that immigrant women of color will be uncomfortable attending. I’ve attended plenty of events at bars, even during times when I wasn’t drinking alcohol, and know many immigrant women of color who have no objections to being around alcohol, whether or not they personally consume it. In these situations, it’s best to extend an invite and let your employee decide for herself, rather than making the decision for her. 4. Organize more daytime events. Day or lunchtime events are a great way to ensure all employees can participate. Bhavani Murugiah, the former head of people for a technology company, recommends a tactic that worked well at her former employer called “Lunch Roulette” — a program that randomly matched employees with 3-5 coworkers to connect over a monthly lunch. This kind of casual meeting can break down silos between departments and create networking opportunities for people who don’t always get invited to informal events. 5. Be intentional when structuring events outside of business hours. Organize events outside of business hours that actively get employees from different backgrounds to connect with each other. Passive events like movie screenings “can alienate employees from underrepresented groups,” says Felicity Menezies, Sydney-based CEO of Include-Empower, and former head of private banking for Westpac Singapore. It can be challenging for people to make new acquaintances in general — especially those who are more introverted. Add in factors like language barriers, cultural differences, biases, and stereotypes, and it becomes clear why casual networking events can feel inaccessible to, or at times, completely exclude people from underrepresented backgrounds. According to Menezies, a better approach is to offer activities that structure interactions without triggering social anxiety and are considerate of diverse personalities, languages, cultures, ethnicities, and physical abilities. Examples include community volunteering, team-building exercises, or potlucks where people from different cultural heritages share dishes and the stories behind them. 6. Be intentional when making connections. When there are employees from diverse backgrounds at an event, go out of your way to introduce women and people of color to important stakeholders, says Collins. Using your influence to foster these connections can have a significant impact on how welcomed an employee feels and even change their career trajectory. “As a manager, you have to understand how there are so many ways to impact someone’s assimilation into a company, or even a new culture,” Murugiah also says. “Whatever you do to make a change, it has to be genuine and thoughtful.” 7. Audit the frequency of events and attendees. Take stock of how often the team meets informally, as well as formally, and the demographic of the attendees each time. This will give you the information you need to course-correct and personally reach out to those who you don’t see. Your goal should be to figure out what is preventing people from coming, and use that feedback to make positive changes. 8. Constantly look for blind spots and ask for feedback after the event. Doing so will help you recognize areas for improvement, and hopefully, make the next event even better. A part of being inclusive is recognizing what you don’t know, so respond to the feedback with openness and humility. This will help build trust and create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions honestly. In my research, I have repeatedly found that companies that don’t make an intentional effort to be inclusive often end up excluding women of color and immigrants. It’s crucial for people at all levels of an organization to understand how casual gatherings exclude employees from marginalized backgrounds, and more so, can have a detrimental impact on their careers. Organizations have a responsibility to disrupt these destructive patterns.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
The Promise and Peril of a Star CEO
Star CEOs can be good for companies, providing social proof that their firm is a high quality place and making it easier to attract capital and talent. But they can also be dangerous. The recent cases of Tesla, Papa John’s, and CBS exemplify this: all three companies benefitted from the brightness of their star CEOs. And then all each company had to deal with expensive, distracting problems their star created. Consider Tesla: before Elon Musk became CEO in 2008, the electric car company had delivered fewer than 200 cars and was running out of cash. Ten years later, it could produce, albeit with extraordinary measures, 5,000 cars a month and had a higher market value than Ford’s. Within the company, Musk has held unusual power; he is the largest stockholder in Tesla, and is positioned as a visionary genius who is essential to the company’s success. Still, Musk’s tweets about taking the company private cost the company a $20 million settlement with the SEC and exposed it to larger potential liability from aggrieved stockholders. This is a far from unusual story. You could also consider Papa John’s; working out of a converted broom closet in his father’s small-town tavern, John Schnatter grew pizza empire Papa John’s to over 5,000 locations. Schnatter now controls of 30% of Papa John’s shares, and his status as founder, as well as his long-running visibility as the company’s spokesperson in broadcast and print ads gives him unusual power. Still, Schnatter’s comments about NFL players who knelt during the national anthem and the accusation that he used a racist word in a conference call drove down the company’s sales and its stock price. Similarly, though Les Moonves owned an insignificant amount of CBS stock, he had outsized power at CBS based on his long-term performance and the prestige he built for himself in the entertainment industry. Under his leadership, CBS turned from the last-place butt of jokes into a first-place powerhouse. Still, accusations of sexual harassment against Moonves this year exposed CBS to not-yet quantified but likely expensive liabilities. These examples highlight the delicate balancing act when it comes to handing star CEOs who provide large benefits but expose the company to great risk; they have to fire a CEO who acts unethically, but they can’t fire a CEO just for exposing the company to risk. And because CEOs have to take risks in order to create value, directors have to strike a balance that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the dangers of a risky CEO. There are ways to thread this needle, though. Work I and others have done to help boards get the best out of CEOs who wield unusual power and bring a company unusual benefits suggest that there are ways for directors to achieve that difficult balance, even in difficult situations like the ones above. First, directors should push for a large number of directors who are truly independent, not just technically independent. If the CEO chairs the board, have a lead director who is strong and who is actually independent of the CEO. Give the lead director the power to call meetings of the board without the CEO’s permission or presence. This avoids giving the CEO the ability to prevent the board from meeting without him. Second, the independent directors should meet regularly in executive sessions without the CEO present. Executive sessions give independent directors opportunities to discuss concerns without the sessions turning into battles with an offended or enraged CEO. Bill George, the Medtronic CEO who took its market value from $1 billion to $60 billion in 10 years and went on to be a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, heard regularly from his independent directors after they met in executive session. Governance expert Ram Charan considers executive sessions the most important recent innovation in corporate governance. Third, support your CEO’s activities that relate to the interests of the company, not just to his or her ego. It is hard to imagine a successful CEO who lacks sufficient ego-strength to face the challenges CEOs face or to display the confidence stakeholders need to see, but when a CEO becomes more than a CEO — when he or she becomes a star — it is easy for their ego to get out of hand. Stardom also can be a problem, for example, when CEOs spend too much time enhancing their personal reputation instead of enhancing the value of the company. Some CEOs exhibit traits that resemble narcissism. Narcissistic CEOs often provide a compelling vision and attract followers. But there are downsides to CEO narcissism. Narcissistic CEOs often are poor listeners and hyper-sensitive to criticism when they do listen. They often lack empathy, which can lead them to do things that are obviously unacceptable to most people but not to them. Think of Musk’s tweet calling one of the Thai cave rescuers a “pedo.” Fourth, star CEOs are more likely to take advice from other people who are stars like them than from people who are merely experts, because stars often think they know more than the experts. Get star CEOs of other companies on the board. Your CEO is more likely to listen to them than to non-star directors. Narcissistic CEOs rarely take advice. Worse, they often see advice or mere disagreements as mortal threats. Their overconfidence, unwillingness to take advice, and tendency to become hostile when they feel challenged can put the company at risk of expensive and dangerous litigation. Fifth, Don’t let a CEO put the company in a position where he or she can prevent you from doing what is good for the company by threatening to quit. While you might want your CEO to be seen as a star, don’t let your CEO position himself or herself as indispensable to the company. It is a sign of danger when investors say “There is no Tesla without Musk.” Have a good COO and other C-level people in place. Tesla has no COO. Facebook brought in Sheryl Sandberg as COO. Google brought in Eric Schmidt as CEO until co-founder Larry Page was ready for the position. Finally, recognize that to fulfill your director duties, you might have to change the CEO’s role to something like chief strategy officer or chief visionary. Even if the CEO has the power to replace you, you have legal and moral duties to try to do what is best for the company. If the balance tips and the CEO is creating more damage than benefit, you have to act. Consider two of our three examples: Schnatter no longer is CEO or board chair at Papa John’s, and Moonves left CBS. Tesla’s board has done less — only what the SEC forced it to do. Still, Musk, who remains CEO of Tesla, gave up being board chair. Is this enough to balance what he brings and what he threatens? Tesla’s board alone can answer this question.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Why Climate Change and Other Global Problems Are Pushing Some Business Leaders to Embrace Regulation
Martin Barraud/Getty Images Global carbon emissions need to be reduced to net zero by 2050 to have a good chance of holding global average temperature rises to no more than 1.5oC, a level that would be disastrous, but not catastrophic for human civilization. So states a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which sets out the policy choices governments around the world need to make over the next 12 years to 2030 if they want to limit global temperature rises to 1.5oC rather than 2oC. If global temperatures rise more than 1.5oC, the risks of draught, floods, forest fires, heat-related deaths and loss of agricultural productivity all worsen significantly. The response from political leaders so far has been mixed. Some governments may be poised to revise their climate change targets in line with the call for net zero emissions by 2050. Others have been less enthusiastic. The Australian government has rejected the report’s call to phase out coal power by 2050. In the U.S., President Trump’s response to the IPCC report so far has been to cast doubt on it. This follows his summer 2017 announcement that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Since then the Trump Administration has been busy unravelling a series of public policy initiatives and regulations that underpinned the Paris commitments the U.S. had made, like the Clean Power Plan and vehicle emissions standards, citing them as an impediment to business. Predictably, environmentalists, pro-environment politicians, and countries especially vulnerable to climate change have reacted to all of this with distress. But perhaps a little less predictably, so have many business leaders. For example, many American CEOs spent considerable energy in the weeks building up to Trump’s Paris announcement lobbying the President not to withdraw. Over 1,700 companies and investors have subsequently signed the We Are Still In statement, making public their commitment to uphold the agreement. While it’s become more normal in recent years to see some businesses taking proactive measures to drive innovation to tackle some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, it generally remains a widespread assumption that business leaders see government intervention in the economy and increased regulation as something to be avoided. But there is now a growing trend of some CEOs actively lobbying for more ambitious government action and regulation on a whole range of social and environmental issues. Many businesses were actively involved in lobbying governments to make an ambitious agreement on climate in Paris in the first place. Unilever CEO Paul Polman was one of many who worked tirelessly to push governments to higher ambition. More than 365 companies and investors voiced their support for the US Clean Power Plan in 2015. More than 200 companies have publicly called for the introduction of carbon pricing. Business leaders are now calling on governments to create the policy frameworks to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. And it’s not just on climate. Companies invested significant resources in pushing for high public policy ambition in agreeing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. On human rights issues, companies have lobbied the UK government for stronger regulation tackling Modern Slavery in corporate supply chains, and the Cambodian government for stronger protection for worker’s rights. What’s going on? Businesses aren’t supposed to want more regulation of their activities. This growing trend is the subject of a research program at Hult International Business School, where we have followed a number of CEOs and companies involved in such advocacy activities over the past few years. Part of what’s been driving more ambitious corporate action on innovation to address social and environment challenges is increased pressure and higher expectations from the rest of society that business should play a role in helping sort out contemporary global challenges. Ultimately, long-term legitimacy, reputation, and license to operate are at stake. A number of CEOs are realizing that such expectations cannot be met by innovation and voluntary actions alone. The scale of today’s social and environmental challenges requires government action, too — there are some ways in which public policy can drive change that cannot be achieved otherwise. In some cases, regulatory change can lead to direct commercial benefit, creating markets that didn’t exist before, or handing competitive advantage to those better able to capitalize on the regulatory change. For many companies, the right solutions are available for tackling social and environmental challenges, but they don’t become commercially viable unless regulatory change aligns commercial incentives with the right thing to do. As a result, some CEOs have started overcoming their aversion to government intervention and fears that incompetent government meddling will get in the way of prosperity. There’s a growing recognition that ambitious government intervention has a crucial role to play in both addressing global challenges and helping business succeed. So what are these companies learning about how to do this kind of advocacy well? Our research, as well as recent studies by others such as Business Fights Poverty and Harvard, and scholars at the University of Lugano in Switzerland, point to a number of key issues to get right. Respect the leadership role of government, but be prepared to use your voice and influence. Your activities should be aimed at informing and supporting—but not replacing—the responsibility of governments to decide public policy. But that doesn’t mean business should be silent if government is not acting in the public interest. Aim for public policy outcomes that seek to effectively address societal challenges. The aim should be to reach solutions that address the problem and have consensus backing, rather than making sure your own interests prevail regardless of the impact on others. This may sometimes involve accepting public policy initiatives that could result in a short-term hit to profits, because in the long run they are going to help solve the problem, and help maintain your longer-term legitimacy. The outcomes you are aiming at need to be consistent with key universal standards, such as UN Global Compact and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Be inclusive. Traditional lobbying is done between government and individual companies or trade associations. But advocacy for more ambitious public policy is more effective if it is done on a multi-stakeholder basis. Public policy outcomes are going to be more effective if all groups affected have had a say in shaping them. Ensure the voices of the marginalized have a say in the process. Consider active joint advocacy with NGOs. Unlikely partnerships between companies and NGOs can have more impact on influencing policymakers, as each can compensate for the weaknesses of the other. Governments can distrust NGOs as being purely ideologically motivated, and can distrust business for being purely profit-motivated. Joint advocacy can deal with these legitimacy questions of both sides. Be transparent and truthful. Lobbying often happens behind closed doors, and the worst kind of lobbying in the past has been characterized by misinformation and misdirection. Public policy outcomes are going to be more effective if people have confidence that they know what different groups were calling for and they can trust the basis on which these positions were put forward. Be transparent about third party lobbying organizations that you offer financial support to. Invest to be able to advocate from a robust evidence base, for example on climate or health and nutrition. Make sure you have coherence and consistency between your external advocacy positions and internal policies and practices. You should also ensure the advocacy positions of trade bodies you are a member of are consistent too. Make sure you have the right skills and capabilities. It turns out that lobbying to persuade governments to introduce new regulatory measures often requires a different kind of skill set to the traditional government affairs function. Many companies have found themselves hiring in campaigners from NGOs to join their advocacy teams. Finally, this is a question of personal leadership. Our research showed high levels of peer networks in CEO advocacy for more ambitious government action – each CEO reaching out to others to make the case for them to get involved in advocacy coalitions. An effective approach needs a personal commitment from the top.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Lessons from Mayo Clinic’s Redesign of Stroke Care
David Pereiras/Getty Images Facing escalating costs of medications and technology, health care patients and providers in the United States continue to search for opportunities to reduce overall costs while maintaining and improving health care outcomes. At the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Stroke Center Practice, we conducted a project to design and deliver care more customized to the needs of individual patients while reducing cost and resource constraints. It is a risk-stratified approach that could be applied to treating many medical conditions. The Mayo Stroke Practice used time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) to study costs associated with alternative protocols for stroke care (see the graphic below). TDABC uses a bottoms-up approach to identify the actual clinical processes and resources used to care for a patient over a period of time. TDABC works from a process map of a patient’s care pathway, attributing costs to the time of each resource used at each step of the pathway. With this information, clinicians learn how to make more efficient use of high-cost resources, leading to lower total costs while achieving the same or better patient outcomes. However if one could predict a patient does not need such care, this could save the system, as well as payers, a lot of money. The daily cost of an NSPCU bed — both to the payer (insurers and patients) and the hospital — averages $500 a day less than an ICU-level care bed, which is multiplied by length of stay (LOS). There are also measurable costs “turning over” a hospital bed in terms of both time delays such as patient’s waiting in the emergency department as well as financial expenses in cleaning and sanitizing a room to be ready for the next patient. Similar to the opening moves in a game of chess, which can determine the rest of the game, similar bed logistics can make or break hospital bed flow. So how can one improve both hospital bed flow and improve value-based care in stroke patients? Using existing stroke data and TDABC mapping, one can stratify a stroke patient’s true risk for needing or not needing ICU-level care using the National Institutes of Health stroke scale (NIHSS). Historically, a “step-down” unit or progressive care unit (PCU) was typically used on the back end after ICU-level care for patients too sick and unsafe to send to a regular hospital bed because they might decompensate and end up back in the ICU. Using a NPCU strategy on the front end for some stroke patients is revolutionary in the sense patients are admitted directly from the emergency department after receiving TPA. This reengineering of hospital bed flow allows a relative cost savings without compromising quality and improves the value. Since 1995, when TPA was FDA-approved to treat stroke patients, the common practice was to monitor these patients in the ICU environment due to concerns for decompensation from intracranial bleeding and complex interventions. Under fee-for-service reimbursement, however, stays in the ICU can incur daily charges up to $2,500, nearly 25% of Medicare’s total reimbursement ($11,000) for TPA treatment. The Mayo stroke team used the NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS), which ranges from 0 (normal) to 42 (severe), to stratify patients into different risk categories and identify those who truly needed ICU-level care. In a trial for intravenous TPA for acute stroke care, reported in 1995 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average NIHSS score was about 14. The most severely affected stroke patients had a NIHSS greater than 24 were most likely to need ICU-level care for monitoring. Therefore, Mayo Clinic’s stroke center data showed similar findings and proposed that stroke patients with an NIHSS score of 18 or higher should be monitored in the ICU for the first 24 hours after receiving TPA. Such patients often suffered medical complications that required advanced interventions such as intubation and mechanical ventilation. However, patients with few comorbidities and NIHSS scores of 14 or less had a reduced probability of severe complications that required critical interventions. Care for these patients could potentially be managed and monitored in the lower-cost NSPCU environment. The team saw an opportunity to reduce costs based upon how and where patients received care, while still meeting Joint Commission requirements for post-TPA care, by treating low-risk patients in a NSPCU-level bed with a specialized hybrid level of nursing care (see the table below) for the first 12 hours. This risk-stratified care model improved value by delivering equivalent care quality with a lower-cost mix of resources. In addition, the stratification process allowed for better “demand elasticity” of ICU bed utilization. Comparing NeuroICU and NSPCU Nurse Monitoring for Stroke Patients Parameter Neuroscience ICU (NSICU) Neuroscience PCU (NSPCU) Costs per day (1 = least expensive, 5 = most expensive) 3 2 Medicare reimbursement for tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) Same Same Nursing monitoring Every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours, then hourly for the next 24 hours Every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours, then hourly for remaining 12 hours, then every 2 hours until 24 hours Potential benefits Frequent monitoring to detect and prevent neurologic deterioration Less-intense neurological checks to allow stroke patients more sleep for healing Potential drawbacks Not cost-effective for less severely affected patients. Default for community hospitals with less resources to create NSPCU. Increased sleep deprivation for patients with hourly neurochecks. Missed opportunity for intervention if patient suddenly declines with longer gaps between neurochecks NIH stroke scale (NIHSS) range 18-42 < 18 Note: NIHSS cutoff of 18 was chosen at Mayo Clinic for TPA along with consensus clinical judgment of other comorbidities, which might necessitate patients being placed in ICU–level care for 24 hours versus PCU-level care. Source: Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research (Kern Center) Optimizing NSPCU and ICU bed utilization therefore is analogous to the game of Tetris in which players fit blocks of various sizes inside an available structure. All hospitals play a similar game to optimize space utilization by getting the “right patient to the right bed” with the fewest moves possible. ICU-level care beds are the most expensive in the hospital and are reimbursed at the highest rate. Ideally, they should be used only for the most complex medical/surgical cases or for transfers from emergency department (ED) and other hospitals. By freeing up ICU beds, previously used for lower-risk stroke patients, hospitals have more capacity, or elasticity, to admit postoperative ICU patients and ICU admissions from the ED and allow those care teams to focus on those patients. Getting the right patient to the right bed also reduces the number of transitions of care (TOCs). Historically, some patients underwent four separate handoffs as they made transitions initially from ED or an operating room to the neuroscience ICU, then to the NSPCU, and finally, to a regular floor bed. This represents at least four moves (A →B→C→D) for the patient and adds risks: Details about medication allergies and other Important information about the patient can be lost, communicated incorrectly, or misconstrued during the handoff from one care team to the next. Handoffs are similar to those in football. The number of handoffs increases the complexity of the play and is associated with a higher likelihood of “fumbles,” or medical errors. When stroke patients are admitted from the ED directly to the NSPCU, a regular floor bed the next day, then discharged home, there is at least one less TOC, or handoff. In addition to reducing the total number of TOCs, a standardized, or structured, communication tool — a checklist — for exchanging important patient information during handoffs can reduce the number of medical errors as well. As illustrated in the above examples, the ability to stratify and predict patient needs up-front opened the door for actions that enhanced process efficiencies, reduced operational costs, and improved patient outcomes. Patients that received TPA and were subsequently monitored in the NSPCU had an average reduced cost of 25%. Of 448 stroke patients seen in the past three years, all of whom would previously been sent to the ICU, 166 (37%) were monitored in the NSPCU, leading to a net cost reduction of nearly 10%, with no adverse impact on patient outcomes. While the role for a progressive care, or step-down, unit is not new in health care, it is one we believe may be underutilized for elderly and more complex patients, especially when its cost advantage over the highly-resourced ICU has not been quantified. An NSPCU increases the effective capacity of existing ICU-level beds and provides better utilization of regular-ward-floor beds for medically-stable patients. Importantly, the risk-stratified approach does not replace or supersede physician judgment about factors not accounted for in the NIHSS-weighted model when deciding the best overall course and bed status for the patient. As this case illustrates, process mapping of care pathways and accurate costing makes it possible to design and deliver care that is more customized to the needs of individual patients. The customization produces equivalent or better quality and outcomes at reduced costs because of more efficient resource utilization and diminished risk from medical errors. None of the gains discussed in this article are unique to stroke treatment, and the NSPCU model can be extended to many medicine and surgery areas to improve the value delivered at hospital, national, and international levels.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Research: Investors Punish Entrepreneurs for Stereotypically Feminine Behaviors
Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images “I would not be caught dead in a pink suit now,” says Susan Perry, the founder of SpeechMED, a startup that translates complex medical information into language patients can understand. Clothing is just one of the issues Perry has reconsidered when it comes to how she pitches her business. As a middle-aged woman, she has faced bias because she doesn’t fit the stereotype of what an entrepreneur looks like. Raised to be soft-spoken, Perry now makes a conscious effort to lower her voice, plant her feet firmly, and speak directly. When she gets one of the tough, defensive, “prevention-oriented” questions that women entrepreneurs tend to receive from investors, she redirects and instead offers a bold and expansive vision for her company, more in the style of how a man might answer. Perry’s transition to a more gender-neutral, or even masculine, pitching style seems to be working. Her company completed the Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab at Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, was accepted into the gener8tor accelerator program, and is currently gearing up to pitch dozens of investors. Most importantly, she now feels confident about her pitch and her ability to raise money. We know that women entrepreneurs face significant challenges securing funding from investors. Our research found that only 15% of companies receiving venture capital investment have a woman on their executive team and less than 3% have a woman CEO. Perry’s experiences — and my own years of research on gender and funding — help explain why. While we often assume women entrepreneurs are discriminated against simply for being women, my research shows that they’re actually penalized for exhibiting stereotypically feminine traits. In fact, men are also at a disadvantage when they display “feminine” behaviors in the pitch room, while women are not penalized if they project more “masculine” behaviors. A study my colleagues and I recently published found that masculinity and femininity, rather than gender identification (whether someone is a man or a woman), affect how entrepreneurs are perceived by potential investors. In an elevator pitch competition, investors were less likely to select as finalists entrepreneurs who demonstrated stereotypically feminine behaviors like warmth and expressiveness, regardless of their gender. What’s unique about our study is that it looks at how gender roles and gender stereotypes, as distinct from sex, impact the pitching process. Our findings suggest that it’s not women who have a harder time raising money from investors, it’s anyone who fits certain feminine stereotypes. This is supported by the fact that, as a group, the women in our study were no less likely to receive investor interest than the men. It was behaviors, not gender, that mattered. While this bias against feminine traits is certainly problematic, being clear on what plays well to investors is something women can use to their advantage. You can’t change your gender, but you can control how you present yourself. Pitching a business is like any kind of performance — you need to know your audience. The pitch room is a unique environment with its own cultural norms and expectations about what kinds of behaviors are hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur. Just as someone wouldn’t show up to a pitch without a slide deck or proper business attire, it’s critical to take these behavioral norms and expectations into account as well. That doesn’t mean remaking your personality or the way you express your gender. It simply entails thinking carefully about what sides of yourself you want to emphasize when you pitch. We’re all more or less aggressive, nurturing, assertive, or sensitive in various areas of our life, depending on the role we play in a given situation. Women should consider what might happen if they brought forward certain parts of their persona in the pitch room and left others outside. Perry doesn’t view adopting a more masculine pitch style as trying to be something she’s not, but instead as uncovering a part of her “natural self.” She’s felt empowered to drop some of the ways society trains women to hold themselves back. “Women are risk takers,” she says, but “we’re sometimes taught that it’s not nice to be seen that way.” Indeed, research shows that women in many fields face a catch-22 when navigating gender: They are discriminated against for being feminine (which conflicts with the norms of jobs and industries perceived as masculine) but also penalized if they try to act masculine (which contravenes the norms of their gender). Perhaps the most famous example of this phenomenon, known as gender role congruity theory, is when Hillary Clinton was criticized for being too ambitious, aggressive, and cold (all masculine traits) during her presidential runs. Though she was also critiqued as “weak” for exhibiting stereotypically feminine behaviors, people liked her more when she behaved in a manner consistent with her gender. A number of studies have found that women face this particular bind in areas including politics, management, and corporate leadership. However, our research shows that this dynamic does not apply to entrepreneurs seeking funding. Women in our study were not punished for behaving in more masculine ways; instead, they benefitted by avoiding the penalty that comes with acting feminine. This finding suggests that women don’t need to fear backlash when shifting toward a more bold, assertive approach in their pitch. This shift should encompass both style and content, for example, having aggressive revenue projections as well as presenting them in a confident way. Perry says, “As women, we want to collaborate and calm people’s fears, but we are not rewarded for that when we’re pitching. We’re rewarded for thinking boldly and being comfortable about risk.” Access to early-stage capital has been shown to be important, often critical, to startup success, which is why the funding gap between men and women entrepreneurs is so concerning. Yet the strategy of simply having more women investors won’t work if feminine traits are penalized in the pitching context by investors of all genders. In the long run, investors need to broaden their view of what makes a successful business leader and create room for both masculine and feminine entrepreneurs (and those in the middle). For now, women founders can benefit from having a clearer understanding of what the expectations are when they step into the pitch room and how they can present themselves most effectively.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
7 Myths About Coming Out at Work
hh5800/Getty Images More and more big businesses are providing workplace protections for LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) people. It’s becoming clear that when workers can bring their authentic selves to work, they are more productive and engaged. Research shows that coming out increases job satisfaction, intention to stay, and emotional support from co-workers, whereas staying “in the closet” has costs — both for the individual and the company. And yet, many people are still reluctant to come out at work. In our study, we surveyed 1614 LGBTIQ+ Australian workers and held focus groups with 60 participants across various industries. We found that 68% of respondents are not out to everyone at work. Other studies show that this number decreases to 46% in the US, and 35% in the UK. We know that when LGBTIQ+ people work in a safe environment, they are more willing to come out. But while workplace policies and practices are critical, the decision to come out at work is a complex and personal one. It involves other factors, like when, how and whom to come out to. Our research considers this, and digs below the surface to examine the experience of LGBTIQ+ people at work. We challenge myths that are drawn from common assumptions about coming out and offer suggestions to organizations that want to help their workers feel safe being themselves. Myth #1: Coming out at work is not a big deal — after all, it’s the 21st century!Though the LGBTIQ+ community has seen big wins in the past few years — same-sex marriage is now legal in 26 countries, and around 20 have passed some kind of legislation recognizing transgender rights — coming out is still dangerous in many areas of the world and can be deadly for trans and gender diverse people. Even in countries that are economically-developed and progressive, like Australia, homosexuality has only been decriminalized since 1997, and marriage equality was just legalized in December of last year. The LGBTIQ+ rights movement is still very much in progress, and this factors into some workplace cultures and how comfortable people may feel coming out. Myth #2: Coming out is similar for all LGBTIQ+ people. The LGBTIQ+ community and their workplace experiences are diverse. In Australia, there has been a gradual transformation in gay and lesbian rights over the past 40 years, which has also seen support for and protections of gay and lesbian people at work. However, trans/gender diverse workers have been historically overlooked. They are often less willing to come out at work due to fears of discrimination and social exclusion. Our research finds that 32% of trans/gender diverse people fear they would lose their job if they came out at work versus just 6% of LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people. Not surprisingly then, 49% of trans and gender diverse workers try hard to conceal their identity from colleagues, compared to only 13% of LGB workers. Myth #3: LGBTIQ+ workers have complete control over whether they do or don’t come out at work. For some LGBTIQ+ workers, living authentically at work remains an aspiration. While almost three-quarters of our respondents indicated coming out is important to them, only one-third are out to everyone at work, suggesting that not everyone who wants to be out feels comfortable being out. For others, decisions about when and how to come out are often out of their control. Some individuals are outed against their will, while others are forced to come out because of workplace policies. One transgender respondent wrote, “Give me a choice to NOT disclose – the reason HR knows I am a trans man is because it was policy for HR to process police checks when I started at my current workplace.” In fact, research shows that transgender people going through the transition process often have to come out to co-workers, causing great anxiety and distress. For some transgender people, living authentically means keeping their gender history private, particularly if they affirmed their gender identity when they were very young. For others, who transition later in life, as one participant told us, “we are out merely by existing.” Myth #4: Coming out has nothing to do with work. Our research reveals that people who are able to come out at work are happier. Compared to workers who are out to some people or no one at all, those who are completely out at work are significantly more satisfied with their job (29% versus 16%), enthusiastic about their job (40% versus 26%), and proud of their work (51% versus 38%). Other research finds that having a double life — being out in private life but not at work — increases social stress and depression. Because workplaces are where people share their personal experiences, coming out — and feeling safe enough to do so — is about something as simple as participating in conversations without having a guard up or editing. For an LGBTIQ+ person, telling a story about their weekend could be an indirect way of signaling their identity. Heterosexual and cisgender workers typically don’t face the same dilemma because they are part of a majority group when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. They have the privilege of being visible just by being. LGBTIQ+ people often must choose to come out if they want to be visible at work. If an LGBTIQ+ person feels that they can’t come out or chooses not to, others might assume that they are also a member of the majority group. One gay male respondent reported, “I am more masculine and fit a certain (jock/rugby) stereotype and so people assume that I am straight and I often don’t correct them.” Myth #5: Coming out at work happens just once. Coming out is actually a repetitive process. It occurs not just once, but on multiple occasions. For instance, a bisexual woman may come out to her immediate manager when she is first starting a job, but also later, when she meets new co-workers, other managers, or clients. Among our respondents who indicated that they openly talk about their LGBTIQ+ identity at work, only 17% of them openly talk about their identity to clients. Some are concerned that being out may jeopardize client relationships and negatively impact the company as a whole. One respondent reported, “During the marriage equality vote, my organization had a big client – we are talking about a multi-million-dollar client — who said ‘if you publicly support marriage equality, you will lose our business.’” Other respondents indicated that being out at work meant risking their lives: “[With] every new client, I’m scared that it might be my last time walking the earth as I enter their house.” Myth #6: There is only one way to come out or not come out. There is a range of ways LGBTIQ+ people can signal their identities, or hide them. For instance, 47% of our respondents display objects like photographs, magazines, or symbols to reveal their identity at work. In contrast, 21% of our respondents avoid revealing their identity by keeping quiet when co-workers talk about their romantic lives, and 23% said they avoid behaving in ways that may conform to stereotypes associated with their identity group. Others who conform to heterosexual or cisgender stereotypes say they can ‘fly under the radar’ altogether. Myth #7: People are scared to come out just because of career risks. Coming out is a constant cost-benefit analysis and requires weighing different risks. A lack of support from co-workers and supervisors, and past experiences of discrimination, often prevent LGB workers from coming out. But our research also shows that respondents are more concerned about social exclusion than career penalty. While about 19% of respondents who are not out at work worry their careers would be ruined if they were, 70% are concerned coming out would make their colleagues uncomfortable around them. The importance of a supportive social environment plays a huge role in a person’s coming out decision. So what can organizations do to develop a work space in which living authentically is an everyday reality for LGBTIQ+ workers? Leadership makes all the difference. Our research reveals that respondents whose leaders publicly support LGBTIQ+ issues are 50% more likely to be out to everyone at work. We recommend leaders who want to create an LGBTIQ+ inclusive culture: Develop a working partnership with leaders who have a different sexual orientation or gender identity than your own. This will help you learn, champion change, and challenge your assumptions. Make LGBTIQ+ inclusion visible in your organization. You can show support by displaying rainbow flags or other inclusive symbols, asking HR to create a diversity group for LGBTIQ+ people to connect and share their experiences, or developing a network of staff allies. Learn about all members of the LGBTIQ+ community. This means not just LGB people, but also people who are trans or gender diverse, who have an intersex variation, or who are pansexual. Check your assumptions to see if they hinder LGBTIQ+ inclusion. For instance, assumptions like: everyone is straight; everyone prefers binary pronouns; coming out is a purely personal issue, and not a workplace issue; this person must be LGBTIQ+ because of how they look, sound, dress, or behave; it’s ok to ‘out’ someone. Avoid non-inclusive or presumptuous language, like “that’s so gay,” asking women about their “husbands” and men about their “wives,” or assigning someone a gender pronoun. If you see someone participating in these behaviors, confront them. When you do so, that person will be less likely to do it again and they will also be more likely to change their views on what is appropriate behavior — as will any bystanders. Finally, we should point out that it’s not just about leadership. Organizational policies and strategies that recognize the specific needs of, and sometimes just the existence of LGBTIQ+ people, are also key to establishing an inclusive environment. We recommend organizations: Include sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status in diversity and inclusion policies; have transition policies and supports in place for staff who are trans or gender diverse; make sure parental leave policies recognize LGBTIQ+ people. Review workplace forms to ensure that they are inclusive, and have an option for people who don’t identify as male or female. Make some bathrooms gender-neutral, and introduce gender-neutral dress codes if your company has dress codes. LGBTIQ+ people can be themselves and have a real choice about coming out at work when their employer and people at work are supportive. Being aware of the common assumptions and the challenges people face is the first step toward building a work environment that is inclusive and safe for LGBTIQ+ people. * “LGBTIQ+’ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex, and queer. The “+” recognizes that LGBTIQ doesn’t include a range of other terms that people identify with, or use to describe themselves.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware
Sven Krobot/EyeEm/Getty Images Even though self-awareness — knowing who we are and how we’re seen — is important for job performance, career success, and leadership effectiveness, it’s in remarkably short supply in today’s workplace. In our nearly five-year research program on the subject, we’ve discovered that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are. At the office, we don’t have to look far to find unaware colleagues — people who, despite past successes, solid qualifications, or irrefutable intelligence, display a complete lack of insight into how they are coming across. In a survey we conducted with 467 working adults in the U.S. across several industries, 99% reported working with at least one such person, and nearly half worked with at least four. Peers were the most frequent offenders (with 73% of respondents reporting at least one unaware peer), followed by direct reports (33%), bosses (32%), and clients (16%). Un-self-aware colleagues aren’t just frustrating; they can cut a team’s chances of success in half. According to our research, other consequences of working with unaware colleagues include increased stress, decreased motivation, and a greater likelihood of leaving one’s job. So how do we deal with these situations? Is it possible to help the unaware see themselves more clearly? And if we can’t, what can we do to minimize their damage on our success and happiness? Understanding the problem Not all badly-behaving colleagues suffer from a lack of self-awareness, and not all who do can be helped. Therefore, you must first determine whether the source of the problem is truly someone’s lack of self-awareness. Ask yourself: What’s behind the tension? When we’re having trouble working with someone, the problem isn’t always a lack of self-awareness on their part. Interpersonal conflict can arise from different priorities, incompatible communication styles, or a lack of trust. To determine whether you’re truly dealing with an un-self-aware person, consider how others around them feel. Typically, if someone is unaware, there’s a consensus about their behavior (i.e., it won’t just be you). More specifically, we’ve found several consistent behaviors of un-self-aware individuals: They won’t listen to, or accept, critical feedback. They cannot empathize with, or take the perspective of, others. They have difficulty “reading a room” and tailoring their message to their audience. They possess an inflated opinion of their contributions and performance. They are hurtful to others without realizing it. They take credit for successes and blame others for failures. Where is this person coming from? In contrast to the unaware, certain difficult colleagues—like office jerks—know exactly what they’re doing, but aren’t willing to change. I once knew a chief operating officer with a reputation for humiliating his team whenever they disappointed him. When finally confronted about his behavior, his response was, “The best management tool is fear. If they fear you, they will get the work done.” (Unsurprisingly, his superiors did not share his views and fired him several months later). The biggest difference between the unaware and the Aware-Don’t-Care are their intentions: the unaware genuinely want to be collaborative and effective, but don’t know they’re falling short. Whereas the “aware don’t care” unapologetically acknowledge their behavior (“Of course I’m pushy with clients. It’s the only way to make the sale!”), the unaware can’t see how they’re showing up (“That client meeting went well!”). Helping the unaware Once you’ve determined someone suffers from a lack of self-awareness, it’s time to honestly assess whether they can be helped. Think about their intentions and whether they’d want to change. Have you seen them ask for a different perspective or welcome critical feedback? This suggests that it’s possible to help them become more self-aware. But the odds can be steep. Our survey found that although 70% of people with unaware colleagues have tried to help them improve, only 31% were successful or very successful. And among those who decided not to help, only 21% said they regretted their decision. So before you step in, ask yourself: Am I the right messenger? The number one reason our survey respondents gave for not helping an unaware person was that they didn’t think they were the right messenger. It’s true that when helping the unaware, providing good, constructive feedback only gets us part of the way. For someone to truly be open to critical feedback, they must trust us — they must fundamentally believe that we have their best interests at heart. When trust is present, the other person will feel more comfortable being vulnerable, a prerequisite to accept one’s unaware behavior. So think about the relationship you have with your unaware colleague: have you gone out of your way to help or support them in the past? And are you confident they will see your feedback for what it is—a show of support to help them get better—rather than inferring a more nefarious motive? Or, are there others who might be better suited to deliver the feedback than you? Am I willing to accept the worst-case scenario? The second most common reason people decide not to help the unaware is that the risk is simply too high. As one of our study participants noted, “I may not be able to help and trying [might] just make them angry.” The consequences of help-gone-awry can range from uncomfortable (tears, the silent treatment, yelling) to career limiting (an employee might quit; a colleague may try to sabotage us; a boss could fire us). Here, power differentials are a factor. For example, though unaware bosses have an especially detrimental impact on their employees’ job satisfaction, performance, and well-being, confronting one’s boss is inherently riskier because of the positional power she holds. Conversely, the risk is usually lower with peers, and lower still with direct reports (in fact, if you have an unaware employee, it is literally your job to help them). But regardless of their place on the organizational chart, we must be ready to accept the worst-case scenario should it occur. If you believe you can help, then what’s the best way to do so? There are certainly many helpful resources on providing high-quality feedback, and most apply with the unaware. There are, however, three practices worth underscoring for these individuals. First, talk to them in person (our research suggests those who provide feedback via email are 33% less successful). Second, instead of bringing up their behavior out of the blue, practice strategic patience. If possible, wait until your colleague expresses feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction that (unbeknownst to them) are being caused by their unawareness. Ask if you can offer an observation in the spirit of their success and wellbeing (using the word “feedback” risks defensiveness). Third, if they agree, focus on their specific, observable behavior and how it’s limiting their success. End the conversation by reaffirming your support and asking how you can help. What to do if they don’t change It’s easy to feel hopeless when you can’t help someone who is unaware. The good news is that although we can’t force insight on them, we can minimize their impact on us. Mindfully reframe their behavior: The popular workplace practice of mindfulness can be an effective tool for dealing with the unaware. Specifically, noticing what we’re feeling in a given moment allows us to reframe the situation and be more resilient. Here is one tool to notice but not get drawn in to our negative reactions to the unaware. I first came up with the “laugh track” when I had the misfortune of work­ing for an Aware-Don’t-Care boss. One day, after a particularly unpleas­ant encounter, I recalled my favorite TV show growing up, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary’s boss was a surly man named Lou Grant. On a good day, Lou was grumpy; on a bad day, he was downright abusive. But because his comments were followed by a canned laugh track, they became surprisingly endearing. I de­cided that the next time my boss said something horrible, I’d imagine a laugh track behind it instead. I was frequently surprised at how much less hurtful (and occasionally hilarious) this tool rendered him. Find their humanity: As easy as it can be to forget, even the most unaware among us are still human. If we remember this, instead of flying off the handle when they’re behaving badly, we can recognize that, at the core, their unaware behavior is a sign that they are struggling. We can adopt the mindset of compassion without judgment. Researchers have found that honing our compassion skills helps us remain calm in the face of difficult people and situations. As management professor Hooria Jazaieri points out, “there are [negative] consequences…when we are…thinking bad thoughts about someone” — compassion “allows us to let them go.” Play the long game: When it comes to dealing with the unaware, one of the most important things to remember is that just because they’re that way now doesn’t mean they won’t change in the future. Unaware behaviors sometimes have to be pointed out multiple times before the feedback begins to stick — or, as one of our research participants noted, “Sometimes they have to bump their head enough times to finally see the light.” In our research, we’ve studied people who made dramatic, transformational improvements in their self-awareness. Though it takes courage, commitment, and humility, it is indeed possible—and whether or not the people around us choose to improve their self-awareness, we have complete control over the choice to improve ours (find a quick, high-level assessment of your self-awareness here). At the end of the day, perhaps that’s where our energy is best spent.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Underpaid (Live)
Do you deserve a higher salary? In this episode of HBR’s advice podcast, Dear HBR:, cohosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn answer your questions in a live taping with an audience of compensation experts. With the help of Susan Hollingshead, the chief people officer at Vendini, they talk through how to get more money when you haven’t been in your role long, the company isn’t giving out merit increases, or you’re at the bottom of your job’s salary range. Download this podcast Listen to more episodes and find out how to subscribe on the Dear HBR: page. Email your questions about your workplace dilemmas to Dan and Alison at dearhbr@hbr.org. From Alison and Dan’s reading list for this episode: HBR: How to Ask for a Raise by Carolyn O’Hara — “Pitch your raise as not only recognition for past achievements, but also tacit acknowledgment that you are a dedicated team player committed to growing with the company. Lay out your contributions, then quickly pivot to what you hope to tackle next. Assure your boss that you understand his pressures and goals, and pitch your raise as a way to help him.” HBR: New Research Shows How Employees Feel When Their Requests for Raises Are Denied by Lydia Frank — “According to our analysis, 33% of employees who were denied a raise were provided no rationale. Of those who did receive some rationale (whether budgetary constraints, performance, or some other reason), just over 25% actually believed it. And of those who didn’t believe the rationale or didn’t receive one, more than 70% said they planned to seek a new job in the next six months.” HBR: How to Get a Raise When Budgets Are Tight by Peter Bregman — “Think like a shareholder of the company. Ask lots of questions about the strategy, what’s keeping the top leaders awake at night, how your department impacts revenue or profitability, and what’s important to your direct manager. Identify, with your manager, the top two or three things you can work on that will drive revenue or profitability. Once you’ve had that conversation, you’ll have your raise-worthy work focus.” HBR: 15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer by Deepak Malhotra — “Sadly, to many people, ‘negotiating a job offer’ and ‘negotiating a salary’ are synonymous. But much of your satisfaction from the job will come from other factors you can negotiate—perhaps even more easily than salary. Don’t get fixated on money. Focus on the value of the entire deal: responsibilities, location, travel, flexibility in work hours, opportunities for growth and promotion, perks, support for continued education, and so forth. Think not just about how you’re willing to be rewarded but also when.”
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How to Stop Delegating and Start Teaching
Creativ Studio HeinemannE/Getty Images As a college professor, I regularly train PhD students. In psychology and most fields of science, students are assigned to a project early on in their studies and learn key skills through an apprenticeship model. Many go onto to take on projects related to more specific research goals, and are eventually taught to design their own studies — a slow and painstaking process. Each step, from idea development and design to data analysis and reporting, requires a lot of supervision. It would generally be faster for lab directors to hire employees to carry out these studies instead, or to do all the heavy lifting themselves. But, then, who would train the next generation of scientists? Managers who have difficulty delegating tasks can learn from this process — particularly if your workload has become overwhelming, or you need someone to pick up the slack when you are out of town. The hardest part about delegating a task to someone else is trusting that they will do it well. And many managers are reluctant to turn over their responsibilities to someone who may not meet that expectation. But there is a problem with this mindset. Managers need to stop thinking of passing off responsibilities as delegating — period. If you do, then you will only assign your employees high-level tasks when you don’t have time to do them. Until then, you will continue doing everything yourself. This is not an uncommon behavior. After all, you are probably better at doing your job than your direct reports, who have less experience in your role. The problem with this style of delegation is that it sets your employees up for failure. A coach wouldn’t let an athlete go into a big game without practicing extensively beforehand. Managers should share this same mentality. When you assign someone a task for the first time — with no prior training — simply because you are unavailable to do it, their chances of succeeding are slim. You also run the risk of damaging team morale. Employees might get the impression that they are not capable of doing complex work if they are too overwhelmed by the task. As a manager, a central part of your job is to train and develop people. This includes people who want to move into leadership roles, similar to yours, one day. When you take on the mindset of a trainer — instead of a manager delegating work — you will naturally look for ways to give a little more responsibility to the people who work for you. And those people who put in effort, and show an aptitude for the work, should be given more opportunities to try new, challenging tasks. To start, try to gauge who on your team genuinely wants to move up in the organization, and identify their main areas of interest. Create a development plan for them and write down the skills they will need in order to reach their goals. Then, focus on giving them assignments that require those skills, as well as any tasks you think they are curious to explore. Often, people need a nudge to focus on their weaknesses — particularly ones that they are convinced fall out of their wheelhouse. Structure the experience so that your employees are able to work their way up to a challenging task. Give them a series of practice sessions. The first time you introduce a task to someone, you might want them to experience it as a ride-along. Just let them shadow you while you explain some of the key points. Then, give them a piece to do on their own with your supervision. Only let them carry the full load when you sense that they are ready. For example, you might want to teach someone how to run a weekly progress meeting while you are out. Start by training them when you are in the office. Have them watch you formulate the agenda and think through the issues that will be discussed. Then, the next time, let them create an agenda of their own, but critique it. Give them a chance to run part of the meeting with your supervision. That way, they are ready to run a full meeting on their own when the time comes. By doing this, you are both helping your team reach their career goals, and training them to take on some of your own responsibilities. Taking on some of your direct reports as apprentices is an effort. It will take extra time out of your already busy week. You will have to check their work carefully at first to make sure that it is up to your standards. You will have to teach them not only how to do the tasks, but also, why the tasks are done that way. You will have to call on them to help fix any problems that arise from the work they’ve done, because practice is how they will learn. And your own productivity may slow down as a result of the time you spend mentoring others. When you make this kind of training a regular part of your job, though, delegating tasks becomes easy. You will have created a team of trusted associates who can step in and help when you are overwhelmed or out of the office. And, as an added bonus, you have also groomed your successors. After all, as the old saying goes, if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Which Data Skills Do You Actually Need? This 2×2 Matrix Will Tell You.
Jorg Greuel/Getty Images Data skills — the skills to turn data into insight and action — are the driver of modern economies. According to the World Economic Forum, computing and mathematically-focused jobs are showing the strongest growth, at the expense of less quantitative roles. So whether it’s to maximize the part we play in data-driven economic growth, or simply to ensure that we and our teams remain relevant and employable, we need to think about transitioning to a more data-skewed skillset. But which skills should you focus on? Can most of us expect to keep pace with this trend ourselves, or would we be better off retreating to shrinking areas of the economy, leaving data skills to the specialists? To help answer this question, we rebooted and adapted an approach we took to prioritizing Microsoft Excel skills according to the benefits and costs of acquiring them. We applied a time-utility analysis to the field of data skills. “Time” is time to learn — a proxy for the opportunity cost to you or your team of acquiring the skill. “Utility” is how much you’re likely to need the skill, a proxy for the value it adds to the corporation, and your own career prospects. Combine time and utility, and you get a simple 2×2 matrix with four quadrants: Learn: high utility, low time-to-learn. This is low hanging fruit that will add value for you and your team quickly. Plan: high utility, high time-to-learn. While this is valuable, acquiring this skill will mean prioritizing it ahead of other learning and activities. You need to be sure that it’s worth the investment. Browse: low utility, low time-to-learn. You don’t need this now, but it’s easy to acquire so stay aware in case its utility increases. Ignore: low utility, high time-to-learn. You don’t have the time for this. In order to help you decide where to focus your development effort, we have plotted key data skills against this framework. We longlisted skills associated with roles such as: business analyst, data analyst, data scientist, machine learning engineer, or growth hacker. We then prioritized them for impact based on how frequently they appear in job postings, press reports, and our own learner feedback. And finally, we coupled this with information on how difficult the skills are to learn — using time to competence as a metric and assessing the depth and breadth of each skill. Insight Center Scaling Your Team’s Data Skills Sponsored by Splunk Help your employees be more data-savvy. We did this for techniques, rather than for specific technologies: so, for machine learning rather than TensorFlow; for business intelligence rather than Microsoft Excel, etc. Once you’ve worked out which techniques are priorities in your context, you can then work out which specific software and associated skills best support them. You can also apply this framework to your own context, where the impact of data skills might be different. Here are our results: At Filtered, we found that constructing this matrix helped us to make hard decisions about where to focus: at first sight all the skills in our long-list seemed valuable. But realistically, we can only hope to move the needle on a few, at least in the short term. We concluded that the best return on investment in skills for our company was in data visualization, based on its high utility and low time to learn. We’ve already acted on our analysis and have just started to use Tableau to improve the way we present usage analysis to clients. Try the matrix in your own company to help your team determine which data skills are most important for them to start learning now.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
3 Steps for Engaging Health Care Providers in Organizational Change
Westend61/Getty Images One of the hardest things about introducing innovation or change in organizations is getting people on board. This is especially true in health care. As health care organizations are being pressured to cut costs, reduce medical errors, and adopt both standardized processes and new innovations, providers are being asked to give up established and comfortable ways of working. They are having to spend more time on documentation, see more patients in a day, and use unfamiliar processes and tools. For many staff, physicians, and nurses, these changes mean less time healing patients and fostering wellness — the reasons they became health care professionals. Naturally, many start to question the direction of their organization, as these new behaviors and practices appear to conflict with the values of their profession. When staff view innovations and changes as clashing with longstanding patient care values, they are less likely to adopt new behaviors and practices. This is why health care leaders need to focus on aligning innovation with existing cultural values, and devote more time to explaining how new processes and behaviors will allow employees to better enact their values and deliver high quality care. Based on our research on organization change, our involvement in health care leadership training, and our conversations with over a hundred health care executives, we offer three key ways managers can engage providers in change and connect innovation efforts to their core motivations, passions, and values. Insight Center The Future of Health Care Sponsored by Medtronic Creating better outcomes at reduced cost. Seek to understand why staff think innovations or changes do not align with the existing culture and mission. In a leadership training session we observed, the CEO of a nonprofit medical practice and research organization listened to division and department chairs share their employees’ concerns: quality care is sacrificed for financial pressures, standardized processes negate years of expertise, techniques once heralded as best practices are being replaced, and so on. The CEO told these leaders to take two steps: first, listen to the doctors and staff to understand why they perceive misalignment between the myriad of changes and the values of the organization; second, reframe and strengthen the connection between innovations and the core values of the hospital, so it no longer seems like a misalignment. For example, standardized processes or instruments are not negating doctors’ expertise, but rather helping ensure consistent quality of care. Elsewhere, a CEO of a large integrated health system told us about seeking to understand staff perspectives through weekly rounds. In one case, he listened to nurses express resistance to a new process for end-of-shift patient handoffs. The old handoff process was simply a private conversation between two nurses; but the new way included a “bedside shift report” that included the patient in the nurses’ conversation. Many nurses thought the new process took much longer and hindered the exchange of information. The CEO addressed their concerns by focusing on the improvement in patient care. He highlighted that with the new process, patients were more engaged in their care and better understood the need for medications or procedures, which in turn affected the ultimate outcome of patient health. He reminded the nurses that good patient care was central to the hospital’s values and why most of them became caregivers. Once the nurses accepted the rationale, the focus of the conversation shifted to logistical barriers that kept them from adopting this change (e.g., what to do if the patient is asleep at shift change). Alignment of common values enabled and motivated them to work through this change adoption together. Engage employees with data to explain the problem, its urgency, and how to address it. Data and metrics can create an awareness of problems, a means to explore them, and a goal post to measure progress. Let’s look at a problem shared by many health care organizations — health care-associated infections. Based on data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients gets at least one health care-associated infection. A common cause is poor hand hygiene: The CDC suggests that, on average, health care providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. The leader of a large integrated hospital system shared with us how they used data to change existing norms and routines and drive more hand washing. The hospital assigned “stealth monitors” — employees at various levels and roles who worked across several units and covertly collected observational data at set times. A safety group collated this data by unit and included it in a posted weekly report. During morning huddles, unit and division leaders shared the data and started conversations about potential reasons behind the numbers. This weekly dialogue not only kept the problem in the forefront, but also engaged employees in diagnosing the barriers and factors outside of their control that made change hard to implement. In one discussion, employees shared that when the batteries in the hand sanitizer dispensers died, it decreased handwashing until workers from another floor could replace the batteries. A simple change of moving spare batteries to the units and allowing anyone to replace them eliminated a critical barrier to improving adoption. This combination of data, engaging staff in problem-solving, and appealing to the mission of good patient care drove the rate of handwashing from 45% to 82% in one year. Pay attention to the behaviors you reward and tolerate. As part of the same hand washing initiative, hospital system administrators created a Speak Up program, which empowers and trains nurses, staff, and doctors to call out anyone failing to wash their hands, on the spot, as they moved from patient to patient. For the campaign to work, no one, regardless of level or status, was immune from a reminder to wash his or her hands. Engrained cultural norms and power relationships about speaking up needed to be shaken (e.g., technicians were empowered to remind surgeons to wash their hands). The weekly huddle meetings became a time to acknowledge those who bucked the existing power norms and reinforce the new behaviors. At these, the CMO handed out Starbucks gift cards to the staff that spoke up to physicians and others when they did not wash their hands. Rewarding new behaviors that contradicted the existing norms reinforced the message that it is safe to act in new ways. The change would not stick if doctors were exempt from feedback about noncompliance. Doctors were also encouraged to thank anyone who spoke up to them when they forgot to wash their hands. When physicians negatively reacted to feedback from staff and resisted the culture change, an administrator reached out to them. The administrator reminded the physician of everyone’s responsibility for patient health, often using an emotional appeal: “How would they feel if their family member was seen by staff that did not engage in healthy hygiene?” Their comments linked physician behavior to the shared core values of high quality patient care. The status quo persists when bad behaviors at any level of the organization are tolerated. When leadership understands that turning a blind eye to one bad behavior can decimate the adoption of innovation by others, they may be more willing to hold difficult conversations with the highest-status employees in their organization. As health care continues to transform, aligning new innovations with existing cultural values will make it easier to lead successful change initiatives. Seeking to understand staff perspectives, using data, and holding all employees accountable for patient safety and care will help providers understand how change can support, rather than contradict, the values they hold dear.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
The Trade War with China Could Accelerate 3-D Printing in the U.S.
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images Vice President Pence just made it all but official: The United States is in a cold war with China. Fed up with Beijing’s industrial espionage, market manipulation, and cyber attacks on the West, coupled with its bullying of neighbors and repression at home, the Trump administration announced a series of strong steps to fight back. Since the Chinese think their time on the global stage has come, they aren’t likely to back down anytime soon. That spells trouble for American manufacturers with global supply chains. Undoubtedly, it will accelerate the reshoring of items now sourced in China. As companies rethink their supply chains, they ought to seriously consider embracing a new manufacturing technology that’s now ready for prime time: 3-D printing. No longer relegated to trinkets and prototyping, 3-D printing, which is also called additive manufacturing, is now moving into mass production. Printer makers have solved a variety of quality, cost, and speed problems to the point where printers can compete with conventional manufacturers at volumes of tens or even hundreds of thousands of units. That’s true even when the individual 3-D printer factory makes only a few hundreds of units, because it won’t depend as much on economies of scale. Parts made in small American factories will cost nearly the same as those made in giant Asian plants — especially since these highly automated printers require less labor than conventional processes. So 3-D printing is tailor-made for reshoring — bringing production back home to be closer to customers. Not only does it lessen supply chain risks, but it weakens China’s advantages in manufacturing. The U.S. military has already been working on additive as a quicker way to supply repair parts to remote locations and to make ultra-light, high-performance fighter jets. More broadly, the Obama administration set up the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center (“America Makes”), a technology support program in Youngstown, Ohio. But the Trump administration is looking to ramp up those efforts with tax breaks and direct subsidies to companies that bring military supply chains home. Those supports will be crucial to getting manufacturers on board with the new technology. It will take time and effort: Additive manufacturing require a steep learning curve for engineers used to working on conventional assembly lines, and each part must be tested extensively to make sure it holds up under wartime conditions. Additive manufacturing just passed a major test when GE certified parts for the new GEnx engines in Boeing 747s. If additive can stand up to the rigors of jet propulsion, then it can handle most any military demand. Speeding up the adoption of additive is still going to be a challenging investment, even with Pentagon subsidies. But companies making the upfront investment will likely reap even greater rewards down the line. As I described in “The 3-D Printing Playbook,” the payoff from additive will build over time. Organizations will gradually revamp their operations to take advantage of its flexibility and versatility well beyond the factory floor. From product design to customer outreach, additive enables a fully-digitized enterprise that is hyper-responsive to market trends. Companies that move especially quickly could pioneer the next stage of additive manufacturing. Because 3-D printers are so versatile, they can go from one kind of product to another with minimal time and cost for the switchover. That means companies can move from industry-specific factories to plants that produce for multiple industries. If demand in one industry slows, the company can switch some printers over to industries that are hot — and keep the factory’s capacity utilization high. Once factories develop the software to coordinate and optimize these multi-industry operations, we’ll see the emergence of “pan-industrial” corporations. From the outside, these behemoths may look like conglomerates. But on the inside, thanks to the digital integration enabled by additive, they’ll achieve a variety of cross-division synergies. Imagine a “Universal Metals” pan-industrial that makes drones, jeeps, and mortars. Once a pan-industrial perfects its integration software, it’s likely to create a software platform for suppliers and distributors to join. That’s the only way to fully optimize the value chain around additive. And as we know with Google and other software giants, the more companies you have on the platform, the stronger your platform will be. Pan-industrials could eventually create dominant ecosystems based on their integration platforms. Other industries besides defense are likely to work on additive-driven reshoring and pan-industrialism. Jabil, the giant contract manufacturer, has been buying up numerous printers and integrating them into its sophisticated supply-chain software platform. Until the slide in the company’s fortunes generated leadership turmoil, General Electric had been making progress as well. The defense industry won’t be alone in pushing the additive frontier. It just may have the greatest urgency.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
What Can Big Businesses Learn About Innovation from Social Entrepreneurs? - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM QATAR FOUNDATION
Big businesses struggling in an era of rapid transformation can learn a lot from the experiences of social entrepreneurs finding and adapting innovative solutions in difficult contexts. In the 1990s, when Afghanistan was being ravaged by war, a bootstrapped initiative started by a former refugee was able to succeed where multi-million dollar projects funded by governments and large-scale development organizations could not. Believing that the best route to long-term empowerment for women was through education, Sakena Yacoobi created an underground network of schools that operated out of private homes. Despite resistance from local militias to allowing women to attend school, the project grew over time to help millions of children attain invaluable literacy and critical thinking skills. As the winner of the WISE Prize for Education in 2015, Yacoobi’s initiative is one of many that we at Qatar Foundation support to harness the potential of innovation for social development. WISH and WISE The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) are global initiatives of Qatar Foundation that support key stakeholders from across the world to develop new ideas and solutions capable of shaping the future of education and healthcare. Based on our collective experience of working with thousands of innovators, policymakers, and activists around the world, here are three key ideas big businesses can learn about innovation from social entrepreneurs. 1. Empower Bottom-up Solutions The most talked-about buzzword in social innovation is “co-creation,” and that is true for a simple reason: enabling end users to design solutions leads to better outcomes. Sultana Afdhal, the CEO of WISH, has firsthand experience identifying youth community leaders and supporting their projects through the WISH Young Innovator Program. “We may have many great ideas about things we perceive people need, but it is important to talk to the end user and listen to them,” she says. “Maybe what you think is the best idea you’ve ever had actually isn’t.” One graduate of the WISH Young Innovator Program is Adepeju Jaiyeoba from Nigeria, who created the Mother’s Delivery Kit as a cost-effective solution to providing expectant mothers with the products they need during childbirth. Jaiyeoba’s birth kits have proven to be an effective intervention that addresses pregnancy-related mortality, saving the lives of newborns and their mothers. To date, an estimated 100,000 birth kits have been distributed. Jaiyeoba’s project was successful not just because it was frugal innovation, but because she was intimately aware of what users needed and how they could be served. The impetus for Jaiyeoba’s project came following the death of a friend due to pregnancy-related complications. Afdhal adds, “People think of innovation as high-tech, scientific, and costly, but cheaper, simpler interventions can often be a seed for something greater.” 2. Scale Ideas that Work To stay competitive in today’s marketplace, one approach that large corporations have taken is to invest considerable financial resources and talent toward dedicated innovation labs and Silicon Valley outposts. Despite glitzy promises, such projects often fail to deliver substantive impact. This is in part because even when such initiatives land upon good ideas, they don’t have the right mechanisms in place to apply those learnings at a broader level. Dr Asmaa Al-Fadala, Director of Research and Content Development at WISE, says, “Innovative ideas remain as ideas if we do not act on them. That is why we focus on translating theory into practice.” To bridge the gap between innovation and application, it is crucial to identify best practices around the world, and provide the innovators with channels so that their message can reach important decision-makers. One such channel is the WISE Accelerator Program, which selects education initiatives with high potential for scalability and positive impact and supports them through mentorship, access to investors, and international networks. A beneficiary of the WISE Accelerator has been Ideas Box, created by Libraries Without Borders, which offers a portable multimedia toolkit to build rich learning environments in emergency contexts. Today, the project has been successfully implemented in multiple countries, making headlines in news outlets ranging from The Wall Street Journal to National Geographic. Ideas Box is a great example of an initiative that is made much more impactful through being given the recognition and support good ideas deserve. 3. Adapt to Local Contexts There is no “copy-paste” method of innovation. Great ideas still need to be contextualized to different social, cultural, and economic circumstances. Take the Orenda Project for example, a rising edtech start-up from Pakistan that was incubated as part of the WISE Learner’s Voice Program. Orenda makes high-quality education accessible and fun for children through digitally streamed cartoons. Its programs already serve dozens of schools and are set to grow rapidly, providing much-needed alternative learning pathways for children in underserved communities. But the success of the initiative was the result of a spontaneous pivot. At first, the founders of Orenda wanted to open a school for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, only to find out that the government planned to demolish the slum where they were planning to build. Backed into a tight spot, the minds behind Orenda realized that untapped opportunities were offered by the extensive use of smartphones in the local community. The solution was to build a virtual education platform instead. As businesses navigate the rough seas of creative destruction, such examples from the world of social entrepreneurship may offer inspiration and insight for how to tackle uncertainty. After all, as Afdhal notes, the most useful exercise for organizations trying to innovate more effectively is to learn from other industries. To learn more about the World Innovation Summit for Education, the World Innovation Summit for Health, and other initiatives of Qatar Foundation, visit www.qf.org.qa.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Case Study: When Two Leaders on the Senior Team Hate Each Other
kuritafsheen/Getty Images The feedback in the 360-degree reviews was supposed to be anonymous. But it was crystal clear who’d made the negative comments in the assessment of one executive. Lance Best, the CEO of Barker Sports Apparel, was meeting with Nina Kelk, the company’s general counsel, who also oversaw human resources. It had been a long day at the company’s Birmingham, England, headquarters, and in the early evening the two were going over the evaluations of each of Lance’s direct reports. Lance was struck by what he saw in CFO Damon Ewen’s file. Most of the input was neutral, which was to be expected. Though brilliant and well respected, Damon wasn’t the warmest of colleagues. But one person had given him the lowest ratings possible, and from the written remarks, Lance could tell that it was Ahmed Lund, Barker’s head of sales. One read: “I’ve never worked with a bigger control freak in my life.” Editor's NoteThis fictionalized case study will appear in a forthcoming issue of Harvard Business Review, along with commentary from experts and readers. If you’d like your comment to be considered for publication, please be sure to include your full name, company or university affiliation, and email address. “These comments are pretty vicious,” Lance said. “You’re surprised?” Nina asked. “I guess not,” Lance acknowledged. His CFO and his sales chief had been at loggerheads for a while. Ahmed’s 360 also contained a few pointed complaints about his working style — no doubt from Damon. Lance sighed. Five years earlier, when he’d stepped into his role, he’d been focused on growing the company that his father, Eric — the previous CEO — had founded. Barker had licensing deals with sports leagues to make merchandise with their logos and partnered with large brands to produce it for retail markets, and when Lance took the company over, its revenues were about £100 million. Soon after, he’d landed the firm’s biggest partner, Howell. Negotiating the deal with the large global brand had been a challenge, but it increased business so much that Lance and his direct reports still felt as if they didn’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done. They certainly didn’t have time for infighting like this. “So what do we do with this info?” Lance asked. Nina shrugged. “This is the first time I’ve been through this process myself.” “Right. Clearly I’ve got to do something, though. I know that Ahmed and Damon aren’t mates, but I do expect them to be civil.” Nina nodded, but Lance sensed she was biting her tongue. “You can be honest with me, Nina. I need your counsel.” “Well, if I’m honest,” she said tentatively, “I think that’s part of the problem. The expectation is that we’re civil, but that doesn’t translate to collaboration. We all trust you, but there isn’t a whole lot of trust between the team members.” “So does everyone think Damon is awful?” he asked, pointing to the report. Nina shook her head. “It’s not just about him. You can see from the feedback that Ahmed isn’t a saint, either. He picks fights with Damon, and the tension between them — and their teams — has been having a ripple effect on the rest of us. You see the finger-pointing. It seems like everyone is out for themselves.” Although Lance hated hearing this, it wasn’t news. He’d just tried to convince himself that the problems were growing pains and would sort themselves out. After all, sales and finance were often at odds in organizations, and the conflict hadn’t had a big impact on Barker’s revenues. They’d grown 22% the previous year and 28% the year before that. Of course, none of that growth had come easily, and opportunities had certainly been missed. The team had dropped the ball on inquiries from several retailers interested in its products by failing to coordinate getting them into the company’s system quickly. Now, Lance realized that might be a sign of more fallout to come. He needed to fix this. “My dad always wanted to do one of those team-building retreats,” he said, smiling. This had been a running joke among Barker’s executives for years. Whenever Eric had sensed tension, he’d mention the idea, but he never followed through. Nina laughed. “Unfortunately, I think we’re beyond that.” This Mess The next morning, Lance was in his office when he got a text from Jhumpa, the head of product and merchandising: Can you talk? Knowing this couldn’t be good, Lance called her immediately. Skipping the formalities, she launched in: “You need to get them on the same page.” Lance didn’t have to ask who “them” was. “Ahmed has promised samples for the new line on the Clarkson account, but his order exceeds the limits accounting set, so we need Damon’s signoff, and he won’t give it.” This was a recurring fight. Ahmed accused Damon of throwing up roadblocks and using his power to undermine the sales department. Damon retorted that Ahmed was driving Barker into the ground by essentially giving products away. Lance went back and forth on whose side he took, depending on which of them was behaving worse. But he didn’t want to intervene again. Why couldn’t they just find a compromise? Practically reading his mind, Jhumpa said, “They’ll stay in this standoff forever if you let them. It’s as if they’re in their own little fiefdoms; they act like they’re not even part of the same team.” “Have you talked to them about this?” “The holdup with Clarkson? Of course I have. But it doesn’t help. This situation is a mess.” The last comment stung. The team wasn’t perfect, but it was still operating at a pretty high level. “It would really help if you talked to them,” Jhumpa gently pleaded. Lance thought back to the last time he’d sat down with Ahmed and Damon. Each had brought a binder filled with printouts of the e-mails they’d exchanged about a missed sale. Lance had marveled at how long it had probably taken each of them to prepare — never mind the wasted paper. “Let me look into it,” Lance said. This had become his default response. “Can I tell you what I’d do if I were in your shoes?” Jhumpa said. “Fire them both.” Though Lance had always appreciated her straightforwardness, he was taken aback. “Just kidding,” she added hastily. “What about having them work with a coach? I mean, we could all benefit from someone to help us talk through how we handle conflicts and from establishing some new norms.” Lance wondered if the firing comment had really been a joke, but he let it pass. “I did talk to that leadership development firm last year,” he said. “They had some coaching packages that seemed appealing, but we all agreed we were too busy with the new accounts.” “Well, maybe we should make time now,” Jhumpa replied. After they hung up, Lance was still thinking about the idea of letting Ahmed and Damon go. Terrifying as the thought was, it might also be a relief. He’d heard of CEOs who’d cleaned house and replaced several top execs at once. He could keep Jhumpa, Nina, and a few others and bring in some fresh blood. It would be one surefire way to reset the team dynamics. Doing Just Fine Later that afternoon, at the end of a regular meeting with the finance team, Lance asked Damon to stay behind. “I heard there’s a holdup on the Clarkson samples,” he said. “The usual. Sales needs to pare back the order. As soon as Ahmed does that, I can sign off,” Damon said calmly. “It doesn’t sound like Ahmed’s budging.” “He will.” Lance decided to wade in. “Is everything OK with you guys?” “Same as usual. Why? What’s going on? The numbers look great this quarter. We’re doing just fine.” “I agree on one level, but I have concerns on another. It’s taking six months to onboard new customers at a time when everyone is fighting for them.” “Is this about those 360 reviews? I tried to be fair in my feedback,” Damon said a bit defensively. “The input is anonymous, so I don’t know who said what, but the tension between you and Ahmed is obvious.” “Of course it is. I’m the CFO and he’s in charge of sales. If we’re both doing our jobs well, there’s going to be conflict. And that’s what I’m doing: my job. I’m the keeper of the bottom line, and that means I’m going to butt heads with a few people.” Lance had heard him say this before, but Damon took it one step further this time. “Your discomfort with conflict doesn’t make this any easier.” They both sat quietly for a minute. Lance knew that as part of this process he’d need to examine his own leadership. Indeed, his 360 had been eye-opening. His people had described him as a passionate entrepreneur and a visionary, but they’d also commented on his preference for managing one-on-one, instead of shepherding the team, and his tendency to favor big-picture thinking over a focus on details. “OK. I hear you on that,” Lance finally said. “That’s on me. But you also need to think about what you can do to improve this situation. There’s a difference between productive and unhealthy conflict, and right now it feels like we’ve got too much of the latter.” Our Vision Might Crumble “Have you considered one of those team-building retreats?” Lance’s father asked when they spoke that night. “I know you all never took me seriously — ” Lance chuckled. “Because you never booked it!” “ — but I still think it’s a good idea,” Eric continued. “No one really knows how to have a productive fight at work. It’s not a skill you’re born with. You have to learn it.” “I’m considering it, Dad. But I’m not sure it would be enough at this point.” “What about the comp?” This was another thing that Eric had brought up routinely. During his tenure as CEO, he’d realized that the C-suite compensation wasn’t structured to encourage collaboration. Bonuses were based on individual, functional unit, and company performance at respective weightings of 25%, 70%, and 5%. “Maybe it’s time to bump up that 5% to at least 10% or even 20%,” Eric said. “I’d like to make those changes, but I need Damon’s help to do it, and he’s swamped,” Lance said. “Besides, lots of experts say that too many people view comp as a hammer and every problem as a nail. CEOs expect comp to fix anything, but usually you need other tools. I may have to do something more drastic.” “You’re not considering firing anyone, are you?” Eric had personally hired all the senior executives now on Lance’s team and was almost as loyal to them as he was to his own family. “To be honest, it’s been on my mind. I’m not sure what I would do without Ahmed or Damon. They’re an important part of why we make our numbers each year. They help us win. But I look back and wonder how we did it playing the game this way. I need a team that’s going to work together to reach our longer-term goals.” When Eric had retired, he and Lance set a target of reaching revenues of £500 million by 2022. “This group feels as if it could disintegrate at any moment. And our vision might crumble along with it.” “I’m sorry,” Eric said. “Do you feel like you inherited a pile of problems from your old dad?” “No, I feel like I’ve somehow created this one — or at least made it worse.” “Well, one thing is certain: You’re the boss now. So you’ll have to decide what to do.” What should Lance do about the conflict between Damon and Ahmed? If you’d like your comment to be considered for publication in a forthcoming issue of HBR, please remember to include your full name, company or university affiliation, and email address.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
I Ran 4 Experiments to Break My Social Media Addiction. Here’s What Worked.
Barcroft/Getty Images Social media can connect us to new ideas, help us share our work, and allow previously unheard voices to influence culture. Yet it can also be a highly addictive time-sink if we’re not careful about our goals, purpose, and usage. Over the last two years, I conducted four different experiments to monitor my own behavior, implementing trackers and blockers in order to better understand how social media usage affected my productivity. My goal was to see if by interrupting my daily behavior I could change my “default settings” and have more time for deep, focused work. In the end, these four experiments opened my eyes about my relationship to social platforms, and taught me effective strategies to maximize the benefit of these social tools while limiting the downsides. The first step was collecting data. Before beginning my experiments, I tracked my daily behavior to better understand where my time and energy was going, which gave me insight into what I could change to produce more satisfying deep work. I used RescueTime for tracking my computer usage, and Moment to track my cell phone behaviors. Experiment #1: Complete Removal of Social Sites For 30 Days My first experiment was a complete removal of all social aspects from my routine: no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn for 30 days. Leading up to it, I raised objections—“but I need Facebook for my work!”, my brain sputtered, in a testament to the addictive power of the apps. I logged out of each site and deleted all the apps from my phone. Then, I used Freedom, a website blocking tool, to restrict the social sites from my browser and phone. Finally, I had my partner take over my phone and install parental restrictions on browser sites with a password unknown to me. (I wasn’t taking any chances.) The Results. Once I decided to go all-in, it was surprisingly easier to do than expected. There was a relief in being offline and deciding, once and for all, to do it. Here’s what I learned: There were a few technical hassles: Facebook, in particular, is embedded in a lot of other applications, which created a problem any a tool required Facebook as a login. Going forward, I’ll create email-based logins only (which is also better for security). My book-reading skyrocketed. In a month, I read more books than I had in the combined three months prior. Whenever I craved a break, I turned to my Kindle, instead of social or news sites. I used social sites a surprising amount for research and discovery—when I’m thinking of a person I want to connect with, or a project I want to follow-up on, I would quickly type the social site for ease. Not having access created more friction in the short-term, but didn’t ultimately delay the work I was doing. There was a tension between instant access and carving out boundaries for deeper creative work that I found useful, albeit annoying. After the experiment was over, I went back to allowing myself unlimited social media access and continued to track my usage using RescueTime. With a fresh perspective after a month away, I was able to more clearly see a pattern emerge around how I used the various sites, both for better and for worse. My key finding was the marked difference in my behaviors across devices: My laptop wasn’t the biggest culprit for addictive behavior: when I was at my desk, working, I spent the majority of my time actually working. My phone was the biggest culprit for addictive behavior. Further, it was very clearly time-based. My social media usage (or cravings) clearly spiked at certain times. Most of my bad habits were tied up in late-night tiredness, early-morning mindlessness, and craving “The Scroll” whenever I was tired. It also became fairly predictable that I wanted a mid-morning break (around 11am) and an afternoon break (around 3 or 4pm). By far, the worst time was late evening, after dinner, when my brain felt like complete mush. By all-out blocking the social feeds for thirty days, I saw where in the day my tiredness emerged and when I wanted to use the platforms for research or actual connection. Experiment #2: Carving Out Daily Time Blockers I wanted to learn whether or not I could limit, but not eliminate, social media and have equally effective results. This next experiment involved a daily restriction on websites based on the known “tired times” I’d identified in the first experiment. For two weeks, I limited social access during certain periods of the day using the blocking app like Freedom. I allowed social sites on my computer in the afternoons only — not in the mornings, or after dinner. I also blocked all news websites, television sites, and installed Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook, a social plug-in that helps prevent the scrolling nature of the newsfeed. Results: Keeping the mornings social-media and news free was a game changer. I got so much more done on my biggest projects by having dedicated focus hours, and also knowing that there was a scheduled break in my day coming up. The long-term effects of this change became apparent by day four or five. In the mornings, if I succumbed to impulsivity (a quick check here, an Amazon purchase there, firing off a couple of emails), it was far more difficult for me to throttle back into the realm of deep work. By carving out chunks of the day to focus on specific work projects (moving one big project forward before 11am), I radically improved my personal productivity. Temptation was strong, but waned over time: by overcoming the biggest pull to check first thing in the morning, I was much more focused and clear throughout the rest of the morning. This proved to be a very effective strategy for me. Time-based internet blockers helped me increase my productivity. But now the reverse question came up: instead of blocking out times when I’d never use social, what if I dedicated a particular slot of time to it? Experiment #3: The Social “Happy Hour” The next experiment I tried was dedicating a specific hour of my day completely for use on social sites. I set up a calendar invitation from 4-5pm: a “happy hour” at the end of the work day to connect, enjoy, and run across new people and ideas after nearly 12 hours of working or parenting. Results: Creating a built-in stress relief hour where I know that I can slide into “social research and browsing” (“The Scroll”), helped me avoid temptation at other hours of the day. It was easier to replace a bad habit with a better one than to focus all my energy on eliminating the bad habit. Strangely, consolidating all of my social media use into a single hour made it seem less exciting. I noticed that I’d be finished scrolling within 20 minutes, or 30 minutes on a long day. There’s only so much sustained reading and commenting that I can do. I was much more efficient at responding to all of the requests that come my way—rather than have metered out conversations trickling through the day, I buckled down, opened up new browser tabs for each meaningful mention or request, and whipped through it. My content creation went way down. Instead, I began to plan ahead with a loose Evernote file for social media status updates and things I wanted to share, and the 12-hour delay between composing and pressing “publish” gave me a better chance to reflect on whether instant-sharing was really still necessary. The biggest insights were that (1) social media usage dripped throughout the day drains the energy and focus I have for writing and other work, and (2) that there’s something insidiously satisfying about pressing publish on a status update, and each time I do it, I get the dopamine hit of satisfaction and response. But each tiny posting saps energy, and that adds up. Experiment #4: 24 Hours To Break the Cycle One of my favorite methods for resetting my brain is taking a full weekend day without my phone or my laptop, an idea I originally got from Tiffany Shlain’s “tech shabbat.” Back when I used to train for triathlons and open-water swims, Saturdays were spent largely outdoors, and it’s rather difficult to spend time scrolling the web while biking or swimming. So I used Freedom and a mesh wifi network to block the internet from midnight on Friday evening until Saturday at 3pm from all of my machines. Results. Having something to do—going on a hike, going to the beach, meeting friends for coffee—helps tremendously. The hardest part is walking out the door without the phone. From there, the freedom begins. The best way to block the internet is to physically leave devices elsewhere. On days when I stay inside, I set my Freedom App to a weekend schedule of “no social media or email” until 3pm on Saturdays. The mornings can be lazy and slow. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an emergency worker, and we can all make it through the day if I’m not on email at 6am on a Saturday morning. By the time 1pm rolls around, I’m usually so involved in some other activity that I don’t notice. I found I needed to be flexible about this experiment. On days when I have article deadlines or want to work a few hours on the weekend, I’ll set parameters for how and when to log on to get a chunk of work done. Today, even with kids (and no triathlons currently), I still notice the effect of taking a Saturday away each week to disrupt the pattern of connection. A day free of the Internet is a great way to do a pattern reset if you notice (as I have) personal productivity dips by Friday. Shifting From Subtraction to Addition By and large, my first experiments were based on control and elimination. Sometimes, instead of focusing on constriction and willpower, however, it’s actually a better strategy to focus on the thing I want more of: more reading, more unplugged time with my family, space to think. One of the reasons diets don’t work very well is because most of them focus what you restrict, rather than what you add. My later experiments opened my eyes to the power of addition: planning ahead for dedicated social time, or a Saturday spent outdoors. Today, I use Freedom to block social websites and news in the mornings nearly every day. I deleted Facebook and email from my phone, I will manually re-install them from 4pm to 5pm and then delete them again (yes, daily). I take regular 24-hour breaks. And I track my usage with RescueTime, which sends me an alert when I’ve hit 45 minutes of total “distracting” time. With social media, many of us want to reduce our consumption, but we miss an important piece of the puzzle: we’re craving something that we want, and we think that social media has a quick answer. These experiments helped me realize that at the heart of my cravings around the social internet are deep connections with friends, access to new ideas and information, or time to zone out and relax after a hard day. Each of these components can be satisfied with other things beyond social media, and more effectively. As with many tools, it’s not an all or nothing, good-versus-bad conversation. I will continue to experiment in the future, especially now that Apple has introduced it’s “Screen Time” feature. Just because the apps are available, doesn’t mean our current default behaviors are the best ways to use them or get what we want. By limiting my access to social sites, I created a pattern disrupt that allowed me to reach out to more friends, read more books, and go deeper into work that mattered.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Debating Minimum Wage, and Reflections on a Year of #MeToo
Youngme Moon, Mihir Desai, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee are back with Season 2 of After Hours! In this episode, they debate whether the federal minimum wage should be raised, offer their personal reflections on a year of the #MeToo movement, and share their picks for the week. Download this podcast For interested listeners: Early evidence on the $15 minimum wage, including the research cited by Felix Slides from a recent classroom discussion Mihir led on #MeToo HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
To Land a Great Job, Talk About Why You Love Your Work
TOSHINORI TARUI When interviewing for your next job, how can you impress your recruiter and increase your chances of securing a job offer? Of course you may wish to emphasize your ambitions and goals you hope to achieve as a result of working at the company — your extrinsic motivation for the job. But to what extent should you also emphasize your love for your work and what you hope to achieve as part of the process of working at the company? This comprises your intrinsic motivation for the job, and most of us understand how important it can be to sustained engagement at work; but do recruiters care to hear this? Our research suggests that they do — and that job applicants aren’t taking advantage of that. Indeed, we have found that people fail to predict the power of such a statement of intrinsic motivation on the impression they make. To examine this prediction problem — the discrepancy between what candidates think will impress recruiters and what recruiters actually find impressive — we surveyed 1428 full-time employees and MBA students across five studies. Some provided their predictions, guessing what recruiters would find impressive when hiring a job candidate. Others told us what they actually valued when making hiring decisions. As a first test, we asked full-time employees to view several statements that they could make during a job interview. Some statements emphasized intrinsic motivation, for example, wanting a job that is interesting and meaningful. Other statements emphasized extrinsic motivation, for example, caring for career advancement and financial security. Candidates indicated how impressive they thought each statement was for recruiters. Another group of employees viewed these same statements and told us how impressed they would be by a job candidate who expressed each of these during an interview. Whereas job candidates accurately predicted how impressed recruiters would be by statements of extrinsic motivation, these individuals failed to realize how much recruiters would be impressed by expressions of intrinsic motivation. Emphasizing love for a particular job was more important for recruiters than candidates anticipated. We found this same pattern — that people fail to predict the value of expressing intrinsic motivation — when the roles were reversed. In this study, recruiters predicted what recruits find appealing in a company and what would convince them to accept a job offer. Specifically, we asked MBA students to view statements about company culture, including current employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and predict how useful each one is in convincing an admitted candidate to join the company. Other MBAs viewed these same statements and told us whether they would accept a job offer from a company who expressed each of these in its culture. Whereas recruiters correctly predicted that recruits wanted to work at a company where the culture emphasized extrinsic motivation, they underestimated how much recruits valued working at a company where the culture emphasized intrinsic motivation. Emphasizing that employees find their job interesting and meaningful impressed job candidates more than those in the role of recruiter anticipated. Why do candidates, and recruiters, underestimate how much others value intrinsic motivation? We found that although people know that they care about intrinsic motivation, they don’t know that others also care about this just as much. People’s lack of awareness that others value intrinsic motivation influences what they say when trying to impress others. This failure to appreciate that others care to be intrinsically motivated has consequences for what we say in job interviews. In one study, we asked MBA students to choose a pitch for a job interview: One pitch emphasized intrinsic motivation (e.g., “I love doing my work”) and the other pitch emphasized extrinsic motivation (e.g., “the position would be a great place for me to advance my career”). If students chose the pitch that the majority of recruiters (another group of MBAs) selected as more convincing, they could be eligible to win a prize. We found that while only 43% of the candidates chose the intrinsic pitch, 69.5% of the recruiters thought it was superior and more likely to land the job. How can job seekers ensure they emphasize motivations that recruiters care for? One tip is to take the recruiter’s perspective. We asked employees to view two job pitches that emphasized either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, and to the choose one that would impress a recruiter. Before choosing, we instructed one group to take the recruiter’s perspective. This group first considered who they would hire if they were the recruiter, before choosing a pitch they believed would impress a recruiter. The other group did not take the recruiters’ perspective before choosing. Perspective-taking helped those in the role of job candidate better intuit that recruiters are impressed by intrinsic motivation, leading 45.9% of them to choose this message compared with only 31.7% who did not take the recruiters’ perspective. The takeaway is clear: candidates interviewing for a job should highlight the meaning they derive from their work, and recruiters looking to attract job candidates should emphasize that their employees do work they love. Engaging in perspective taking — putting yourself in the other person’s shoes — is one way to ensure intrinsic motivation is emphasized.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Help Your Team Measure Customer Experience Data More Accurately
Tomekbudujedomek/Getty Images Customer experience (CX) goes beyond measuring the relationship between customers and companies; it is also about quantifying the hundreds of regular interactions and residual memories that influence future behavior. Specific tools like journey mapping and touchpoint management are keys that employees can use to unlock the code for many in-store and in-person experiences. But it’s important for your team to understand the context in which data is being used to make company-wide decisions. The balanced scorecard was initially popularized in the early 1990s as a way for companies to look at varying aspects of the business, from customer satisfaction, to financial well-being to operational outcomes, all in one simple read-out. It looks like this: A shortcoming with the balanced scorecard is that it gives companies a “false sense of data.” When leaders have even small amounts of data, it can be easy to assume they know enough to make aggressive decisions, all based on information with sources they don’t control or fully understand. In some cases, a little data can be worse than having no data at all; it can invite hubris. For example, customer satisfaction scores are influenced by population density — a factor which does not translate into balanced scorecards. Urban environments have peak-time “rushes” when higher volumes of people are all trying to do the same things. Someone entering a pharmacy in the heart of New York City during rush hour will unquestionably have longer-than-desired wait times. This increases both the “perceived wait time” and the likelihood of a negative experience. Insight Center Scaling Your Team’s Data Skills Sponsored by Splunk Help your employees be more data-savvy. Customer scores for stores like this could indicate that the locations need more attention, but they are also typically among the best performing, financially. The long lines frustrate customers, but also indicate that there is a lot of business happening. A similar store in a part of the country where interactions have less time pressure may have higher scores, despite not performing as well for the company as its New York City counterpart. The reality is that balanced scorecards, as they were originally published, have the potential to punish some of the most economically-valuable businesses. An “equitable scorecard” (sometimes called a “weighted scorecard”) is an established mathematical process which accounts for environmental and uncontrollable factors in customer experience scores. It can create a relative “pound for pound” benchmark for each individual location of a business, anywhere in the world. When your team understands how to use equitable scorecard techniques, they’ll be able to calculate a more accurate score for any given location by accounting for variables like clientele composition, location, environment and other localized factors. For example, a fast food restaurant might serve customers in five different ways: A customer walks in, orders, waits, and takes their order out. A customer walks in, orders, waits, and sits down at a table with their order. A customer orders through the drive-through. The customer drives off and eats elsewhere. A customer orders through the drive-through. The customer eats in their car in the parking lot. A customer orders through an app or by phone, then picks up their order. The needs of the customer and the job to be done by the restaurant in each of these instances are very different. Some value speed above all else. Others require good ambiance to enjoy their meal. Some want a clear and efficient layout of the location. These needs can vary widely from location to location and a single customer can have different needs at different times during the same visit. So, when the exact same team serves the exact same food in the exact same three minutes, each customer segment will have different reactions. Those identical efforts may yield five very different customer satisfaction scores because expectation is a key determinant of experience. Companies routinely find that locations rated low-performing by balanced scorecards are actually outperforming reasonable expectations after accounting for uncontrollable operating conditions. The reverse is sometimes also true, where high-scoring stores should, statistically, be performing at an even higher level. The result of equitable scorecarding is a true reflection of staff effort, engagement, efficiency, and efficacy. When good store managers and employees come under increased scrutiny because of incomplete scorecard data, it can quickly decrease the overall sense of employee appreciation. This tends to increase turnover rates, compound unnecessary replacement costs, impacts business efforts because of additional ramp times and, ultimately, slows revenue growth. Equitable scorecards measure performance based on expectations, eliminating the engagement-killing notion that people are quantified by decontextualized, inhumane numbers. By establishing reasonable benchmarks for each individual location, companies will also improve the allocations of time and money needed to help a business grow. Creating a level playing field within a company establishes trust and motivates teams to drive for higher success. By measuring and accounting for uncontrollable factors, companies can promise management and staff that their work will be judged individually based on the cards they are dealt. Fair CX measurements lead to improved experiences, financial growth, and greater engagement, keeping both the customers and the company happy.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Why Doctors Need Leadership Training
STOCK4B-RF/Getty Images Medicine involves leadership. Nearly all physicians take on significant leadership responsibilities over the course of their career, but unlike any other occupation where management skills are important, physicians are neither taught how to lead nor are they typically rewarded for good leadership. Even though medical institutions have designated “leadership” as a core medical competency, leadership skills are rarely taught and reinforced across the continuum of medical training. As more evidence shows that leadership skills and management practices positively influence both patient and healthcare organization outcomes, it’s becoming clear that leadership training should be formally integrated into medical and residency training curricula. In most professions, the people who demonstrate strong leadership skills are the ones who take on greater leadership responsibilities at progressive stages of their careers. In medicine, physicians not only begin managing and directing teams early in their careers, but they rise through the ranks uniformly. Within the first years of graduate medical training, or residency, resident physicians in all specialties lead teams of more junior residents, as well as other care personnel, without undergoing any formal training or experience in how to manage teams. It is rare for first-year resident physicians (interns) to not become second-year residents, for second-year residents to not become third-year residents, and for senior residents to not become fellows or attending physicians, although each step involves more management. And the span of leadership and responsibility grows once physicians enter independent practice. Insight Center The Future of Health Care Sponsored by Medtronic Creating better outcomes at reduced cost. Although medical trainees spend years learning about physiology, anatomy, and biochemistry, there are few formal avenues through which trainees learn fundamental leadership skills, such as how to lead a team, how to confront problem employees, how to coach and develop others, and how to resolve conflict. Some residency programs across the country are developing career tracks specifically for those interested in management and leadership careers, but these paths are often targeted towards individuals explicitly seeking management positions or healthcare management projects in their training, missing the fact that to be a physician is to lead. The set of individuals who would benefit from leadership skills in daily practice is much wider than those with specific career interests in management. Despite this lack of focused attention toward development of leadership capabilities in trainees, evidence suggests that leadership quality affects patients, healthcare system outcomes, and finances alike. For example, hospitals with higher rated management practices and more highly rated boards of directors have been shown to deliver higher quality care and have better clinical outcomes, including lower mortality. Enhanced management practices have also been associated with higher patient satisfaction and better financial performance. Effective leadership additionally affects physician well-being, with stronger leadership associated with less physician burnout and higher satisfaction. These benefits are crucial in a healthcare landscape that is increasingly focused on measuring and achieving high care quality, that is characterized by high rates of burnout across clinical personnel, and that is asking physicians to lead larger, multidisciplinary teams of nurses, social workers, physician assistants, and other health professionals. Medical schools and residency programs should modify curricula to include leadership skill development at all levels of training — and this should be as rigorous as development of clinical reasoning or procedural skills. Leadership curricula should focus on two key sets of skills. First, interpersonal literacy is crucial for effective leadership in modern healthcare. This includes abilities related to effectively coordinating teams, coaching and giving feedback, interprofessional communication, and displaying emotional intelligence. The centrality of these skills has been recognized by healthcare institutions globally, including the American Medical Association, the National Health Service, and the Canadian College of Health Leaders. A second, separate set of necessary skills deals with systems literacy. In today’s healthcare landscape, physicians need to understand the business of healthcare organization, including concepts such as insurance structure and costs that patients encounter. Physicians are also increasingly responsible for understanding and acting on quality and safety principles to correct and enhance the systems they work in. Finally, given the sensitive nature of their work, physicians must be comfortable with recognizing, disclosing, and addressing errors, and helping their teams do so as well. Formal education on these topics could take the form of dedicated didactics during medical school and residency training, orientation sessions, and skill-building retreats, which are common in other occupations that require managerial development. At least some teaching should be delivered longitudinally over multiple years. This is important, because as trainees rise in the medical ranks and gain more responsibility (i.e. supervising medical students for the first time as interns, overseeing teams for the first time as junior residents), their ability to engage with leadership content changes. Trainee performance evaluations should explicitly assess for adequate progression of leadership capabilities, with targeted remediation available for those not demonstrating competency. Residents should not be allowed to progress in training without achieving pre-specified proficiency in these areas. Assessment systems should also be developed to mitigate biases that downplay or disregard women’s and minorities’ leadership capabilities. And importantly, longitudinal studies will be needed to rigorously assess effectiveness of programs for teaching and measuring leadership skills. A 2015 systematic review of physician leadership development programs found that few reported negative outcomes or system level effects (i.e. impact of training on quality metrics) of their interventions. While these changes may seem daunting given the vast amount of information trainees are already responsible for and the time-constrained nature of training, studies have found that trainees want to formally develop leadership skills. And several programs stand out as examples of how this can be done. As first described in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, Vanderbilt’s Otolaryngology program developed a 4-year program for residents consisting of Naval ROTC topics, public speaking training, a micro-MBA course, and a capstone leadership project. This program, which is delivered over morning conferences or dinner sessions (when residents are excused from the operating room), exposes trainees to health care policy, finance, conflict resolution, checklist and debriefing programs, public speaking, and one-on-one communication simulation sessions. Trainees ultimately use the skills they gain for collaborating with Vanderbilt undergraduates, primary care physicians, and others on a population health project during one of their four training years. The program’s founder and Vanderbilt Otolaryngology’s Chair, Dr. Roland Eavey notes that delivering similar content to faculty is key for gaining buy-in regarding the educational importance of leadership and to ensure appropriate modeling of effective leadership. Meanwhile, at the Uniformed Services University, medical students undergo a 4-year curriculum focused on leadership attribute development. The Military Medical Practice and Leadership didactic curriculum is delivered in preclinical years and focuses on self-awareness, communication skills, and team dynamics. Subsequently, students take part in four multi-day “medical field practicum” experiences, during which they are introduced to their responsibilities as military officers and undergo both lecture and simulation modules focused on patient care, operations, and crisis management. Fourth-year medical students are ultimately evaluated on medical knowledge and leadership abilities in a simulated tactical field setting. Although centered in undergraduate medical education, this program is notable for its longitudinal mix of didactic and practical experiences and its evaluative nature, and could with reductions in time intensity be tailored to the graduate medical education setting. Undoubtedly, enhancing leadership training in medicine will increase the costs of training and assessment. Yet, as we seek to optimize the therapeutics and procedures we perform to reduce mortality and enhance care quality, we should also seek to optimize the skills of the physicians leading all corners of healthcare system. For as the evidence shows, it can make an important difference for healthcare outcomes, experiences, and financial sustainability alike.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Competition Is Driving AI’s Rapid Adoption
Tomohiro Ohsumi /Getty Images Artificial intelligence (AI) is engendering all kinds of breathless headlines, from being able to play Go to spotting rare cancer tumors. But how will AI impact the economy in broad terms? The answer hinges on both on what AI can be used for and the dynamics of a competitive race to adopt AI that’s set to unfold between firms. New research from the McKinsey Global Institute simulates the potential global macroeconomic impact of five powerful technologies (computer vision, natural language, virtual assistants, robotic process automation, and advanced machine learning). It finds that AI could (in aggregate and netting out competition effects and transition costs) deliver an additional $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030, averaging about 1.2% GDP growth a year across the period. This would compare well with the impact of steam during the 1800s, robots in manufacturing in the 1900s, and IT during the 2000s. The average effect on GDP depends on multiple factors. At the industry level they include (a) the extent of AI diffusion in economies; (b) the build-up of corporate profit; and (c) labor market dynamics. The modeling and simulation relies on two important features. The first is high-quality data from two corporate surveys conducted by MGI and McKinsey in 2007, one of around 1,600 executives across industries globally on digital technologies and AI to ascertain the causes of economic impact and the likely pace of that impact, and one of more than 3,000 corporations in 14 sectors in ten countries. The second feature of the simulation is micro-estimates of the pace of adoption and absorption of AI technologies. A faster pace of adoption We know that technologies often take a long time to diffuse and to deliver benefits. It took more than 30 years for electricity to diffuse and enable industrial plant design that could generate significant productivity growth. It took several decades for steam to drive the rollout of railways services and create a large market of exchanges in the United States. Amazon, born 24 years ago, had captured about 45% of online retail commerce in the United States by 2017, but still stood for just about 5% of total US retail gross merchandise volume in that year. How does AI diffusion compare with the absorption of the early set of digital technologies such as web, mobile, cloud, and big data? Those technologies started to be used about ten to 25 years ago, and the average level of absorption of these technologies was about 37% in 2017. Our simulation suggests that it may reach 70% by 2035. In comparison, absorption of AI might reach today’s level of digital absorption by 2027—in roughly ten years. There are two stand-out reasons why AI adoption and absorption could be more rapid this time. One is the breadth of ways in which AI is used, including in areas where digitization is still under-penetrated, such as the automation of services and smart automation of manufacturing processes. Second is that returns for front-runners tend to be large. They will benefit from innovations enabling them to serve (and perhaps create) new markets and, at the same time, gain share from non-AI adopters in existing markets. Perception of cannibalization is high among firms surveyed, in line with their experience of early digitization and the emergence of many new business models. We simulate that about 70% of companies might adopt some AI technologies by 2030, up from today’s 33%, and about 35% of companies might have fully absorbed AI, compared with only 3% today. The econometrics demonstrate that peer competitive pressure is the largest influencer of the decision to adopt AI and make it work across all enterprise functions. The peer pressure effect on adoption incentive is an order of magnitude larger than the expected profitability impact of AI, or perception of the impact it has had in recent years. A race between firms Even if a technology race develops, some companies will adopt rapidly, but others less so—and the benefits of AI will vary accordingly. The pace could be enhanced by sector dynamics and by characteristics of firms such as the size and extent of their globalization, but could also be held back by constraints such as early capabilities in digitization, or by organizational rigidities. We simulated the economic impact of AI for three groups of companies: “front-runners,” “followers,” and “laggards.” The first group experiences the largest benefits from AI, and the second benefits but only by a fraction of the general AI productivity uplift. Laggards (many of them nonadopters) may witness a shrinking market share, and may have no choice but exit the market in the long term. Regarding front-runners, our average simulation suggests that about 30% of companies might have absorbed the full set of AI technologies in their operations by 2030. About half of those will do so in half the time, and may more than double their operating cash flows by 2030. This is equivalent to sustaining a long-term growth rate of 6% per year through AI. These companies would typically be growing at the rate of high-growth performing firms. Cash generation is not linear as the impact of AI scales up over time—it might be negative in the early years and only becomes positive and accelerates after a period of five to seven years. In this initial period, front-runners could experience cash outflows as they invest in, and scale up, AI. Over time, however, front-runners will tend to slowly concentrate the profit pool of their industry in a winner-takes-most phenomenon. Followers are firms that are cautiously starting to adopt and absorb AI technologies, having seen the tangible impact enjoyed by front-runners and having realized the competitive threat of not adopting and absorbing. We simulated that 20% to 30% of firms would be in this group by 2030. For these companies, the pace and degree of change in cash flow are likely to be more moderate, and typically below the average productivity uplift witnessed by their economy. On the one hand, front-runners have already triggered some spillovers that spread some benefits to followers; on the other hand, followers lose market share to front-runners. Laggards are companies that are not investing in AI seriously, or not at all. Why do laggards not jump into AI? The answer is that they may face short-term constraints and may bet—wrongly—that time is on their side. The cost of investment in and implementation of AI means that the divergence among firms on their stance toward AI adoption may only affect their economics after a few years. This may dissuade them from acting. These companies could lose around 20% of cash flow by 2030 compared with today. Laggards may have major capability issues that prevent them from joining the AI race, and therefore they may need to respond in other ways such as limiting costs and cutting investment. The drop in cash flow arrives last, but it is a major slide when it comes. A fierce competitive race among companies appears to be in prospect with a widening gap between those investing in AI and those that are not. This divide can facilitate “creative destruction” and competition among firms so that the reallocation of resources toward higher-performing companies improves the vibrancy of overall economies. But there is no doubt that the transition may cause disruption and shock in the economy. These tradeoffs need to be understood and managed appropriately in order to capture the potential of AI for the world economy.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Brands Shouldn’t Believe Everything They Read About Themselves Online
Michael Heim/Getty Images “Don’t believe everything you hear” is good advice — especially in an era of fake news and alternative facts. The same goes for managers who often rely on social-sentiment analysis to get a handle on what consumers think of their brands. Social-sentiment analysis is the process of algorithmically analyzing social posts, comments, and behaviors and categorizing them into positive, negative, or neutral. Many companies use it to understand how their customers are feeling about their brands. We recently conducted an extensive social-sentiment analysis with a team of researchers at Boston University’s Emerging Media Studies program as part of our Experience Brand Index research this past spring. In that research, we asked 4,000 consumers in the United States and United Kingdom about their actions and interactions with a wide range of brands over the last six months. These experiences were rated across more than a dozen dimensions, and we rolled up the results into a single Brand Experience score from 1 to 100. The index graded nearly 100 different brands on how well consumers believed they were fulfilling the promises they make, how well they stood out from their competitors, and how likely consumers were to recommend them to friends and to stay loyal. Overall, our top 10-rated brands have a 200% better net promoter score (NPS) than the bottom 10, and have consumers who are 25% more likely to say they’re going to stay loyal. To round out the research, we enlisted a group of graduate students in Boston University’s Emerging Media Studies program to run social sentiment analysis against the brands, fully expecting to see high-scoring brands receive high levels of positive sentiment and low-scoring brands receive high negatives. We were wrong. There appears to be very little predictive power between how people appear to feel online and how consumers who have experiences with those brands rate them. We think social-sentiment analysis has value as a part of a brand’s consumer intelligence plan, but we have some advice for those using it or about to embark on the journey: 1. React, but don’t over-react. The type of consumers moved to post and share statements about brands (or about anything, for that matter) are not necessarily representative of the entirety of your customer base. Social-media users tend to be younger and more female than overall online audiences, and emerging research into social behavior suggests that people who post on social media tend to hold more extreme positions — they tend to be motivated by strong feelings, either positive or negative. A recent study by Engagement Labs in the Journal of Advertising Research pointed out that online conversations about brands and offline conversations (as measured by their TalkTrack tracking study) were not strongly related. In a recent interview, the lead investigator pointed out that online reaction to the Dick’s Sporting Goods decision to stop selling assault rifles and require all gun buyers to be 21 was met with a large degree of negative sentiment online but more positive sentiment offline. More recently, Forbes did an in-depth analysis of the social reaction to Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign. It found a significant spike in negative sentiment online in the hours after the ad was first released. But, within two days, the sentiment shifted to positive. So, while it’s important for your brand to react to specific negative customer-service posts immediately and address any specific issues consumers are having, we don’t recommend you react immediately to spikes in sentiment you see on a given day — especially if it’s in reaction to something new, like an ad campaign. If you do, you run the risk of over- or under-correcting for issues that just aren’t there. 2. Drill into specifics. What exactly does the sentiment analysis say and how does the tool you use define sentiment? In our experience, different tools — whether it’s NetBase or Brandmonitor or Hootsuite — will give you vastly different results for the same brand over the same period of time. Every platform defines sentiment differently and scores words and phrases in unique ways. And, despite significant advances in AI and sentiment algorithms, all of the platforms continue to have problems recognizing and correctly categorizing sarcasm, irony, jokes and exaggerations. For example, a sarcastic post that says, “Great product, right?” and contains a picture of a broken cell phone is likely to be mischaracterized as positive. As a result, it’s important to use your tool to listen for the right things. Again, the Nike example is instructive here. Rather than just look at the overall sentiment, the company examined tweets that had any purchase-intent statements — either positive (“going to buy”) or negative (“will never buy”) and found that positive outnumbered negative by 5 to 1. And the sales numbers appear to bear that out — with Thomson Reuters reporting a 61% increase in the amount of sold-out merchandise at Nike stores in the 10 days after the campaign launched compared to the 10 days before the ad appeared. So, specifics matter. Look for spikes in volume and sentiment around specific hashtags to understand what might be going on. 3. Compare to what (and who) you know. The point of sentiment analysis is to give you a quick, directional perspective on what online chatter about your brand is all about. We believe it’s crucial to utilize other ways of tracking how consumers feel about your brand — whether it’s a brand tracker, tracking surveys, or analysis of customer service logs. It’s always best to have a mix of methods that deliver a well-rounded understanding of the voice of your customer. It’s also best to have a sense of the cultural context during the time you’re measuring sentiment. Online sentiment can be driven by the negative actions of a specific brand — like a large retail bank illegally creating savings and checking accounts without customers’ consent — or it can be influenced by broader conversations in the culture that have little to do with a specific brand. For example, around the time we fielded our survey in the United States and United Kingdom, consumer tech leaders were testifying about privacy practices in the two countries, impacting the online conversation about that entire category of brands. So, while there’s a ton of discussion about fake news and the role of bots and trolls in political news, we found an equally cautionary tale for brands. When it comes to social sentiment, listener beware.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How to Blow a Presentation to the C-Suite
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images Divya, a director who leads a large engineering team, was invited to a two-day retreat with the CEO and senior executives of her Fortune 50 company. She and 30 of her high-potential peers were excited to rub shoulders with the leadership team. The purpose of the retreat was to expose up-and-coming leaders to broader challenges, expand their network across silos, and, of course, give them an opportunity to connect personally with C-suite executives. The session kicked off with participants dividing into small teams to tackle company-wide strategic challenges. This was a rare opportunity to present directly in front of the CEO, so Divya and her teammates worked hard to research their assigned topic, frame the specific challenge, and debate different ideas and solutions. Instead of hanging out at the bar after dinner, they worked far into the night finalizing their presentation. Divya was selected as the spokesperson for her group, and the next morning, she made their pitch. The team’s idea was met with a lukewarm reaction and what, at best, could be called a polite round of applause. Naturally, they were disappointed in the tepid response. Divya and her team are all smart, do great work in their current jobs, and have promising careers ahead of them. So, what went wrong? Based on my experience watching hundreds of presentations made by high-potential leaders, I can tell you that Divya and her colleagues are not alone in failing to land a key pitch. When presenting ideas to the CEO, even seasoned leaders who don’t regularly interact with the C-suite fall into a few common traps that can be easily avoided. Trap #1: An Idea Without Its Problem Smart, successful people tend to have great ideas. It’s natural for you to be excited about your ideas and eager to share them with your executives. But place yourself in your CEO’s shoes: She’s on the receiving end of endless smart ideas. For yours to stand out and be useful to the CEO, it must solve a problem. Begin the presentation with the problem you’ve identified and spend time upfront creating context, surfacing the pain points, and building a sense of urgency around addressing the challenge. Many presenters often move straight to solution and neglect to build a sound case for immediate action. It’s the problem, not the idea, that executives want to hear first. Spend the first quarter of your allotted time calling out the problem and the next quarter on the idea. The more urgent the problem appears, the more eager your audience will be for the solution. Unfortunately, in Divya’s case, her presentation started with an idea. She didn’t realize that pitching a solution outside the context of its founding problem left it wide open to criticism. In a world where executives have a host of responsibilities and crises to manage, they need to triage which ones they’ll act on. They’ll be more motivated to prioritize your idea if they can see a direct connection to a problem that won’t go away or that will become more significant without their attention. Trap #2: An Idea Without a Clear ROI Once you’ve established the problem in your presentation, the next step is to prove that your idea will not only solve it, but do so in ways that grow the business. First, show how your initiative will self-fund within a short period of time. Next, project how it will grow in revenue to support both its expansion and begin to fund other parts of the organization. Make sure you include estimates for the often-overlooked money needed for infrastructure and setup. Divya’s team started with an idea and proceeded to explain the way they would implement it. They were excited about the technical merits of this idea but didn’t mention how the solution might be helpful to the company in the marketplace or against the competition. What’s more, the idea would require a heavy investment in tools that currently didn’t exist. Trap #3: A Presentation Without Interaction As with all good presentations, you want to meet your audience where they are. But when speaking with the C-suite, presenters often overexplain obvious things and don’t leave enough time for interaction. Divya spent four minutes out of their allotted 20-minute slot reviewing their research process and what the group learned. Since none of this was new information to the executives, she lost their attention. The entire presentation took 17 minutes, leaving a precious few minutes for questions and follow-up. Reserve the second half of your allotted time for questions. While that seems like an outsized chunk, used well, it can be the most valuable part of your talk. Rapid-fire, blunt questions are a sign that executives are interested in your idea. They’re processing what you said, testing various angles and hypotheses, and generally want to know more. A common misconception is that if there are no questions, then things went well. The opposite is usually true. The more questions you receive, the better the presentation. One word of caution: Don’t count critiques framed as questions as healthy interaction. For example, “How can this possibly work? You haven’t accounted for extra headcount.” That’s not really a question. If your audience is curious and engaged a genuine question will sound more like, “How would you deal with headcount if your growth projections are accurate?” Trap #4: Data Without Attention to Detail Even when you set aside enough time for interaction, you can run into trouble if you don’t have the correct answer to an executive’s question. Presenters can be imprecise or sloppy with details when questioned, especially when it comes to numbers. During the Q&A, Divya’s teammate Josh made a claim about the number of current customers using a particular product. He missed the actual number by 12% because of a calculation error. Once you present an incorrect number, your executives will tend to write off the rest of your data. Be sure of your facts, be prepared with the source of your information, and, if there’s an error, be ready to quickly follow up with a correction. And if you don’t know the answer, don’t waste time. Simply admit to that, and tell them you’ll look into it and follow up. If you’re in a position to present to the most senior executives in your organization, you’re already considered smart and capable. You don’t need to prove it by launching directly into your idea and sharing endless details. Instead, give your audience what it really wants: an overview of the problem and how you think it can be solved for the benefit of the company. Give them plenty of time to interact with you, and you’ll prove that you’re as smart and capable as they thought.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
John Kerry on Leadership, Compromise, and Change
John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State, shares management and leadership lessons from his long career in public service. He discusses how to win people over to your side, bounce back from defeats, and never give up on your long-term goals. He also calls on private sector CEOs to do more to solve social and political problems. Kerry’s new memoir is Every Day Is Extra. Download this podcast
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Storytelling Can Help Young Doctors Become More Resilient
Hudzilla/Getty Images I recently stood in front of a group of emergency room residents at my hospital and asked an unusual question. “Has any of you ever judged your attending physician for not trying hard enough to save a patient’s life?” Then I looked around the room. But like every time I’d given this presentation, there were no takers. I can’t say I was surprised. I was piloting a new program which uses storytelling to help young doctors reflect on how they handle the emotional and psychological toll of caring for suffering patients. In my experience, engaging in honest exchange about these dimensions is rare in medical culture—in fact, it is tacitly discouraged. “Well, let me tell you about a time when I was that attending,” I said. Then I steeled myself, and launched into my story. The patient was a young woman, healthy up until the moment of her cardiac arrest. As the ICU attending on service, I was responsible for running her code. Despite all of our best efforts, her heart fluttered ineffectively on and off for hours, unable to pump blood to her starving organs. Multiple rounds of adrenaline, electric shocks, and manual compressions by a string of exhausted interns had not succeeded in restoring her heart rhythm. As a result, her blood had become acidic, her kidneys had failed, and her liver was dying. Unbelievably, she remained intermittently awake over that first day, moaning occasionally. We hadn’t considered sedating her, as any medications for pain or sedation might drop her flagging blood pressure further. We had been pedal-to-the-metal for hours, but she was steadily deteriorating. I was confident that we had passed the point of no return. Insight Center The Future of Health Care Sponsored by Medtronic Creating better outcomes at reduced cost. Medical teams function much like fire departments. The chief, or attending, is counted on to lead her troops straight towards the fire, to do the job that needs to get done. We are expected to be brave, confident, and above all, to never give up. And all the more so in particular cases, such as when a patient is young, previously healthy, or has a condition that appears reversible on admission. And in cases when our well-intended but risky interventions might have actually made things worse, it is almost impossible to let go. I knew how difficult it would be for my team to consider anything less than everything for this patient. I also knew what I would be up against if I suggested changing our approach. I remembered my own tendency as a resident to sink my frustrations into more fight. I had myself judged attendings who had suggested shifting course, even questioned their fitness as leaders. But now, at the helm myself and convinced that this patient would not survive, I knew it was time to rethink our frantic scramble to save her. A nurse ran by me to retrieve another syringe of epinephrine. I took a deep breath. “It’s time for us to stop,” I said. “I’d like to start pain and sedation meds and not restart compressions the next time her heart stops.” These were hard words to say. Harder still when the team turned to stare at me in astonishment. “She’s only fifty,” said one of my interns incredulously. “I think she deserves more time.” Another intern swore under her breath and rushed passed me, slamming the door on her way out. My heart sank. There was a veritable mutiny in progress. And within seconds, I began to question myself. I could hear the voices of my colleagues and others who heard of this, possibly directly asking me, more likely talking behind my back—why I hadn’t tried this technique, that intervention, a whole host of options that would never have saved this woman. They probably would have agreed that these measures wouldn’t have worked. But performing them would have been fighting to the end, the way real heroes do. In the end, I couldn’t stand up to my own inner voices. I caved, and we continued on. It didn’t go well. The patient died a terrible death. It took longer than I had expected—she didn’t die for another 24 hours. That fact further eroded my team’s confidence in me: my prognosis was off by a day. But the fact is this woman suffered more than she needed to, and it was under my watch. Worried about her blood pressure, we had only minimally attended to her pain and anxiety. I look back on that day as a failure on my part—a time that I succumbed to my own internalization of a culture that prioritizes doing everything over doing what will actually help most. And that is how I found myself, years later, speaking to this group of residents about this case. Our current medical culture often sets us up for the kind of moral distress I experienced that day. It is not only the witnessing of profound suffering, it is that we often feel unable to question or diverge from scripted approaches — ones which may actually cause more suffering than benefit. This surely contributes to the high levels of depression, suicide, and substance abuse among physicians. Healing Stories One way to address this trauma is through storytelling, the approach at the heart of my pilot program. The Narrative Medicine movement, started at Columbia Medical School in 1990, has introduced storytelling into an increasing number of medical schools and training programs. Data show that the use of stories to process the challenging experience of being a doctor increases empathy, enhances wellness and resilience, and promotes a more humanistic health care culture. By p­­­­rovidin­­­­­g a safe space for telling stories and listening to each other about our pain and personal conflict, we restore ourselves, and are better prepared for that next encounter. In that vein, this program draws on my own experiences to invite others to reflect on this cure-at-all-cost culture in which we physicians have been steeped. Using my own stories, and a Netflix documentary set in our ICU, this multimedia experience aims to expose some of the emotions and fears that hold us back from doing what is best for our patients. That day, after telling my story to the ER residents, I waited through an uncomfortable silence. I imagined I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. Even after all these years of writing and speaking on this topic, I felt the familiar tug of anxiety. Were they judging me? Finally, one of the residents started to speak. Hesitantly, as if worried this would come back to bite him. “I remember a time when we were coding a patient,” he said. “The code had been running for fifty minutes and the attending decided to call it. Everyone was relieved at first. But then someone said that he wasn’t comfortable stopping yet. So we restarted the code. It went on for another twenty minutes and the patient eventually died. But there was an awkward feeling in the room, like the attending had been found out. I felt bad for him because I think he was embarrassed that he’d been the first to give up.” There were a few tentative nods. Another resident raised his hand. “I remember a time in the ER when a patient came in after a serious car accident,” he said. “We coded him on and off for hours. We’d done everything we could think of and he was about to die. Someone suggested that we open up his chest to see if there was anything we could do to restart his heart—remove some fluid, anything. It was crazy. There were even some snickers in the room. No one thought it would work. And even if it did, his organs had already died. The attending said no. And then I got pissed at the attending. I remember almost hating him. I remember thinking that he was giving up on this guy.” I looked around the room. The residents who had spoken looked a little shocked, even sheepish. But the others looked relieved. And then a genuine conversation proceeded, one which addressed the emotional pitfalls and psychological challenges of this work. Once again I saw how our battlefield mentality affects us all: patient and healthcare provider, trainer and trainee. It is crucial that we provide safe spaces for healthcare professionals to reflect on and process their own suffering. Then we will be fully available to do the hard work of patient-centered decision making in the moments when it is really needed — at the bedside of a dying patient.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Using the Power of Supply Chains to End Sexual Harassment
Image Source/Getty Images In the year since allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein shocked the public, the #MeToo movement has exposed widespread workplace sexual harassment—not just in the entertainment world, but across industries. Last week, we at New America’s Better Life Lab published what we believe is a novel, forward-thinking report on the reality that harassment is “severe, pervasive, and widespread” across low and high income jobs and male- and female-dominated occupations. We also published an accompanying toolkit, called #NowWhat?, aimed at stakeholders invested in changing this reality. Among the recommendations we offer, one in particular is salient to businesses: supply-chain reform. In a nutshell, this means leveraging consumer, worker, and corporate power to drive change at the companies you do business with. Consider the Fair Food Program, which leverages farmworker and consumer pressure to demand that food buyers, like fast-food companies, demand that their food suppliers take harassment and other workplace abuses seriously. In 2011, the Coalition of Immokalee workers banded together to get consumers on board to pressure the agricultural industry to improve working conditions. Workers organized to lobby consumers to buy only from food sellers that have been certified as a “Fair Food Farms,” placing pressure on Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wendy’s, and other food sellers to “sign legally-binding agreements promising to only source tomatoes from Fair Food Farms with no outstanding wage theft, trafficking, sexual harassment, or other issues.” Certified farms then comply with auditors and participate in worker-education programs to “ensure farm workers have the right to work without violence and the opportunity to create a workplace of respect and dignity.” How’s this approach working so far? Journalist Bernice Yeung found that “in the program’s seven years, 35 supervisors have been disciplined for sexual harassment, and 10 have been fired.” She continues: “Since 2013, two incidents of sexual harassment have been identified. The program’s most recent annual report notes that during the 2016–17 growing season, more than 70% of participating farms reported no incidents of sexual harassment.” These findings are significant, given that our review of the research on sexual harassment in male-dominated, low-wage industries such as farm work found evidence of widespread rape. A 2010 study showed that 80% of farm working women report experiencing sexual harassment. The way the Coalition of Immokalee Worker and Fair Food Program ensure success is by creating user-friendly, independent reporting processes for sexual harassment, conducting peer-to-peer training about sexual harassment and workplace rights in an accessible manner, taking regular climate surveys to inform the co-creation of civil workplace practices and enforcement of respectful workplace norms, and making sure employees know that they’re more important than any one harassing foreman or farmer. Notably, the Fair Food Program food addresses many other issues beyond sexual harassment, including wage theft and human trafficking, but their efforts use supply-chain reform to eliminate sexual harassment provides a novel example of how to prevent and address workplace abuse—a strategy that other industries and organizers can use. So how can firms like yours get ahead of the curve and encourage reform across their own supply chain before they face activist pressure? First of all, take stock of the many corporations that rely on your company’s business, either as a buyer, a retailer, or a contractor. These are companies you might have enormous influence over, even if they don’t technically operate under your management. Second, using resources like our report, find out what kinds of factors are letting sexual harassment flourish in companies you do business with. No two industries are alike. This might be a matter of workplace hierarchies, lackluster HR policies, or longstanding cultural assumptions about who belongs in one occupation or another. Then, it’s time to make your priorities and values about harassment and workplace culture known. This might entail drawing up a clear, written statement on what you expect from your partners and suppliers, and consequences for when they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Lastly, make it official. You can do this by asking your partners across your supply chain to sign onto an agreement about what is and isn’t tolerated in their workplaces, and then, and this is important, come up with a collective way to enforce that agreement. Will there be annual climate surveys and audits of how your partners are doing? And if so, are you ready to follow through on the consequences you laid out and potentially take your business elsewhere? This is where the power your firm has to influence change across your own industry and others’ really lies. Of course, supply-chain reform is just one of a multitude of ways a single company can improve workplace culture beyond its own walls. But none of this will be effective unless a firm takes care of its own workers first. It’s one thing for McDonald’s to sign on to the Fair Food Agreement and use its power to protect farmworkers who are picking the tomatoes they buy. But as the strike against McDonald’s for its lackluster response to sexual harassment in September showed, it still has work to do in protecting its own workers from workplace abuse. With the right research, dedicated partners, and a plan of action, a company can change not only its own workplace culture—but also all those linked to it.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How to Actually Put Your Data Analysis to Good Use
MirageC/Getty Images Data and analytics professionals seem to be at the center of the next big race for talent. In 2015, there was a surplus of people with data science skills. Now there’s a significant shortage. By 2020, IBM expects broader demand for data and analytics talent to reach 2.7 million positions in the U.S. alone. The competition for talent will be especially intense for companies for whom advanced analytics forms a core part of their proposition — think e-commerce giants, hedge funds and complex system engineers. For them, a dedicated, in-house team of data specialists can be a necessity. But the rest of us? Not so much. Consider the findings of a Rexer Analytics survey in which more than a third of data analytics professionals say their company never, or only sometimes, puts their analyses to use. This calls into question the practicality of funnelling analyses through centralized teams focused on big-picture challenges. Complete Integration with the Business In our experience, most companies don’t need a small army of data scientists or bleeding-edge analytical techniques. What they do need are analyses that solve key commercial and operational problems. The good news is that the tools to do so are readily available — and relatively inexpensive. The same is true for processing power. Meanwhile, the vast majority of companies already store (but don’t analyze) vast amounts of commercially-relevant data and are collecting it at a faster rate than ever before. What’s missing, more often than not, is a clear strategy and operational model for using these capabilities in ways that are specific to the company’s business requirements. Any such effort depends on three basic components: People who can combine their commercial expertise with advanced analytics methods and applications in an effective way An evidence-based approach that translates analytical know-how and an understanding of the business problem into actionable insights A small team of analytics professionals (not necessarily data scientists) to develop appropriate analytical tools and techniques and enable the organization to deploy them through internal training and advice Together, these form a solid foundation for closing the gap between technical skills and commercial thinking so that businesses can extract value from analytics. Building Internal Capabilities So how to get started? We suggest taking your cue from companies that have been down this road before. Start small. Aim for a single, key problem or an important (but limited) area of the business where predictive analytics can have a valuable and immediate impact. Then use the results to build credibility, excitement and momentum. Brewing and beverage company SABMiller (now a division of Anheuser-Busch) took this track when they decided to make data and analysis available to their business units. To manage risk, they kept their initial investments modest. That way, they could readily abandon the failures while expanding the rollout of the tools and approaches that worked. Keep it commercial. Tie analytics to the commercial and operational heart of your organization. (If it doesn’t address a core business need, analytics can be a hindrance more than a help.) While you’re at it, place the analytical capability as close as possible to those doing the commercial thinking. Insight Center Scaling Your Team’s Data Skills Sponsored by Splunk Help your employees be more data-savvy. Berlin-based Zalando, for instance, empowered its business units with a self-service analytics infrastructure paired with embedded analysts focused on product development. The result? Teams ranging from Fashion Store to Logistics now can extract the data-informed insights they need to make smart decisions in line with the firm’s top business priorities. Identify your analytical capabilities — both existing and potential. Many companies already have functions dedicated to strategy, financial planning or business insights, as well as individuals who use analysis to solve business problems. Build on these assets by empowering them with new capabilities. Special qualifications aren’t required — just the ability (and desire) to become data literate and proficient in the tools you select. When Jaguar Land Rover discovered pockets of self-service analytics activity across its departments, the company began offering in-house analytics training. The first 60-seat course offering filled to capacity. By last year, an estimated 1,800 and 2,500 employees had become “citizen analysts” — business users who created their own analytics as part of their day-to-day work. Build a toolkit. Encourage business users to tap into analytics with self-service tools that preclude the need to learn how to code. The most effective of these have built-in algorithms to navigate company data, create charts and dashboards, and deliver insights to different audiences. Nike put together a tailored set of software tools for business intelligence, analysis and visualization—all with an aim to reduce technical barriers and bring insights to users in the business. The toolkit had to cover the full range of user requirements from those just wanting key dashboards to those looking for as much data as possible to perform their own ‘exploratory’ analysis. All users benefit from a central team that provides the governance necessary to ensure a stable, secure and up-to-date environment. Create evangelists. Don’t leave business users to figure out the commercial value of analytics on their own. Show it to them instead, via a network of advocates across the organization. Through these advocates, companies can proactively introduce the capabilities available to the business and provide expert support for those finding their way. That’s what UK supermarket Sainsbury’s did when they created a new 60 strong internal team called the Humanalysts. The group’s mission? To identify data-driven opportunities for improvement—such as predicting shopper responses to new pricing strategies — and, along the way, make believers out of often-skeptical business users. Making Use of What You Have Wherever you start your journey, keep this in mind: Democratizing analytics is an unavoidably iterative process. Every step requires a look back to ensure the appropriate controls, training and delivery mechanisms are in place and working the way they need to be. As Voltaire famously observed, with great power comes great responsibility. It’s also a good idea to borrow liberally from those in similar situations to your own. Make generous use of relevant case studies. Prioritize the insights that generate commercial benefits. When reporting back within your organisation, focus on output and impact rather than the underlying models. Inspire, and be inspired. Finally, don’t give in to pressures to build great teams of scarce, highly-paid specialists without working out what makes sense for your business. There’s nothing so special about analytics that they must be kept from those most intimately familiar with the problems you need to solve, and who work for you already. Analytics should inherently empower anyone with the means to comprehend it. Put another way: Data analytics is for everyone — not just the few.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
The Tightrope Google Has to Walk in China
HBR Staff With over 1.3 billion people, the Chinese consumer market is a tempting target for Western technology companies. Of course, it’s also a risky place to do business. The recent news that Google is considering a re-entry into China further highlights a troubling balancing act faced by technology companies looking to do business there. The company last entered China in 2006 with a censored search engine, but pulled the plug on the operation four years later after it discovered that human-rights activists’ Gmail accounts had been hacked. While the economic opportunity in re-entering China could be massive for the firm, there are very real dangers for Google or any internet firm in underestimating the threat posed by Chinese meddling. Any internet platform company doing business in China has to negotiate a major business and ethical dilemma: The Chinese government enforces overbearing regulations that censor speech in the name of national security and, under common conceptions of international norms, violate human rights. Reports indicate that Google has discussed some of its re-entry plans with Chinese government officials, including offering a search service that would “blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.” Google’s bind is a common one. Apple, for its part, gave in to a new, privacy-impinging Chinese data security regulation last year when the firm announced it would build a data center in Guizhou, partner with a Chinese cloud service provider, and accommodate Chinese government demands that it should be able to examine private data held by Apple. The potential loss Apple would have sustained had it not caved and, in the view of many, compromised human rights interests, was huge — its access to the vast Chinese market for devices, as well as its manufacturing base there. Reportedly, Facebook has also attempted to enter China, though it has faced tremendous public outcry and difficulty in doing so. Google’s departure in 2006 and the maneuvers of other tech companies trying to negotiate this minefield illustrate the difficult choices their executives face. Companies are compelled to maximize shareholder value; should the firm’s executives ignore human rights concerns and seize economic opportunities, or should they take the ethical course and forego the profits to be had? While ethical considerations should rightly be a central concern, there is an array of potential threats internet firms would be wise to think through as well as they seek to balance the costs and opportunities of entering China. Intellectual property theft. It is well-known that the Chinese government engages extensively in IP theft. For internet firms like Facebook and Google that collect personal data and monetize it using proprietary algorithms, state theft of corporate secrets — and their potential exploitation by Chinese rivals linked to the government — would pose a serious threat. Escalating government demands. It is now clear that companies operating in China are kept on a short leash even when they comply with governmental demands. Indeed, the government can be expected, over time, to make increasingly invasive demands. Qualcomm, despite its compliance, has received heavy regulatory fines succeeded by significant merger blocks. Apple, which complied with Chinese regulations last year, was subject to threats that the government would shut off access to the Chinese labor market should the ongoing trade war with the United States escalate. Regulatory creep. Political backlash against the leading internet platforms is increasing. In the last year, we have seen novel rhetoric and regulation from governmental authorities in Brazil, India, the United States, and elsewhere. Internet companies desire open markets and unconstrained internet service. But by making concessions to China’s censorship and regulatory demands, companies will surely encourage other governments to impose their own restrictions on the industry. When questioned about its China plans on Capitol Hill, Google dodged. But moving forward, U.S. firms will have to maintain stronger lines of communication with policymakers to resolve regulatory concerns on the front foot. Alienating employees. Until a few months ago, Google’s plans regarding China were a closely kept secret. When employees learned that the company was considering censoring the search platform for the Chinese market, many signed a condemning internal letter — a petition to which the company’s CEO replied by noting only that Google doesn’t have immediate plans to launch a censored Chinese search service. Employees’ influence within technology corporations is growing; present and past Facebook employees (including former president Sean Parker) likewise have publicly condemned the company’s leadership for its lax data privacy practices; at Google some employees have left the company in protest of its policies. China has long enforced a strict media and information regime. It’s unlikely that this policy framework will change any time soon. The ethical case for resisting Chinese regulation is clear. But Internet companies need to also think carefully about the business costs of conceding to Chinese rules. In addition to the threat to their reputations, there are material risks that are equally dangerous.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
9 Words and Phrases You’re Probably Using Wrong
Topic Images Inc./Getty Images Many times, especially in business settings, people use words that they think they know — but don’t. Although they do this in an effort to sound intelligent and sophisticated, it backfires badly, because even one small slip-up can cause an audience to focus on only that, not their ideas. Sure, saying the wrong word (usually) isn’t a game changer. But, if you make that kind of mistake, it sets you up for a question that no one wants clients, coworkers or employers to begin asking: “Are you really that smart?” Think it can’t happen to you? We’ve heard horror stories: people laughing behind a prominent CEO’s back for his not understanding the correct use of a business term; a corporate lawyer saying “tenant” (a renter) instead of “tenet” (a belief); an employee toasting her supervisor as the “penultimate” leader (which doesn’t mean “ultimate” but instead means “next to last.”) Here, excerpted from our new book, That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means, are nine terms or words that sound smart but when used incorrectly make you sound the opposite, along with real examples of their being misused drawn from business news reports, research publications and corporate press releases (though we’ve omitted attributions to protect the well-meaning writers who unwittingly committed the errors.) begs the question Fidelity might have fired the last salvo by eliminating fees entirely. This begs the question as to whether Fidelity’s new funds incur any hidden costs or fees. In spite of popular thought, “begs the question” is not a smart-sounding way of saying “raises the question.” It’s actually a formal logic term, which means trying to prove something based on a premise that itself needs to be proved, rather than raising a question. So leave “begs the question” where it technically belongs — in the realm of logic and law — and use the (correct) “raises the question” when that’s what you’re trying to say. impacts on They can clearly and simply explain what we have done and how it impacts on our interpretation of the data, ensuring our reports are understandable and actionable. In a 2015 American Heritage survey of language experts, 79% disapproved of used “impacts on” to mean “affect.” Another 39% percent disapproved of using “impact” to mean “affect” even without that preposition “on.” The original (and still most common) meaning of “impact” involves collisions. But nowadays, you can use it to mean “to affect” (without any collisions). But leave out that preposition “on.” That might impact (affect) your business presentation. in regard(s) to “[I]n regards to the new well, the production capacity of this first large size production well is remarkable.” This sentence is wrong. Not regarding the remarkable production capacity, but regarding “in regards to,” which should be “in regard to.” Even better, just say “regarding” or “about.” (For the record, “regards” with the “s” is correct in the phrase “as regards,” where “regard” is a verb.) In regard to the phrase “in regard to,” regard is a noun, and the singular—without the s—should always be used. The exception is when sending someone good wishes—“best regards”—or giving your regards to say, Broadway, as in the song. After all, you probably wouldn’t want to wish Broadway only one regard. less/fewer “[S]tart-ups are leaving the heartland and are employing less people.” Technically, at least according to some word snobs, it should be “fewer people,” not “less people.” Why? It all depends on if and what you’re counting. A few basic rules: Use “fewer” for numbered, countable things, especially people or other plural nouns (“Fewer than twenty people were there.”) Use “less” for things that can’t be counted (at least reasonably) (“There’s less sand at the beach.”) Use “less” with numbers when they are a single or total unit, usually with “than.” (“Less than 50 percent of us went to the meeting.” This can be tricky, because often you’ll see numbers in the plural, as in “he has less than a million dollars,” that presumably have been counted (as in rule 1). But since here we’re really talking about total amounts of nonhuman things, use less. (Don’t blame us — those are the basic rules that many people follow. Still, it’s all less — not fewer! — difficult than you’d think.) methodology “We have…failed to require that the IRS utilize only secure and reliable authentication methodologies …” Methodology is an annoying word that has oozed into a lot of places, especially government documents and annual reports, probably because it sounds important … and pretentious. The word to use instead is “method.” The “-logy” tacked onto the end of method transforms it into the study of methods. (The -logy ending comes from the ancient Greek λογίa “the study of”). So methodology has its place in English — it’s just that it should stay there and not substitute for method. [One interesting note: The IRS itself, in contrast to the senator speaking about the IRS, almost always uses the word method instead of methodology. Count on tax professionals to use a more economical word.] moot Whether you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer or not is a mute-point. Actually, it’s not a mute point at all because a point isn’t speechless. It should be moot not mute. But even spelled right, moot is tough to use correctly. The use of moot is, well, moot … and we’re not being cute. What we’re saying is that the meaning of moot is “open to debate” — which is the time-honored definition of moot. But by the mid-1800s, moot also began meaning “something not worth considering.” The idea was that something debatable is of no practical value so not worth bothering with. So sometimes “moot” is used to mean “definitely not debatable” because the point is so immaterial. This change in meaning is primarily North American and it is one that has stuck, although language purists argue about it. Our advice: choose another word. statistically significant “‘Facebook is ‘a positive, significant predictor of divorce rate… [T]he study’s authors feel they’re noticing something that’s genuinely statistically significant.” You see it all the time nowadays: A study has shown something worrisome! The findings are statistically significant! Uh oh! But statistically significant doesn’t necessarily mean that the results were significant in the sense of “Wow!” It just means that they signify that whatever was observed has only a low probability that it was due to chance. The problem is, in non-statistical use, significant means something noteworthy or important. So non-statistical types see “statistically significant” and think it refers to something big. But actually a study can find something statistically significant that has only a tiny effect. For example, Facebook could increase the risk of divorce by a statistically significant 1 percent. Big deal. unique The Skyline Group of Companies is one of Canada’s fastest-growing and most unique investment management organizations…” Unique means being the “only one of its kind; unlike anything else.” So something can’t be the “most unique,” it can only be unique. But times are changing. Some dictionaries, like Merriam Webster’s, now also define unique as “extraordinary,” although Webster’s says that this “common usage is still objected to by some.” Include us in the ranks of the “some” (although we’re not as impassioned as a New York Times book reviewer who called this usage of unique an “indefensible outrage!”). Let’s keep unique meaning, well, unique. For plural things that we want to call unique, we can instead say “unusual” or “exceptional.” So we could say that Skyline is an “exceptional” investment management organization…but let’s leave that to their PR department. utilize Among the goals of the partnership will be to utilize Vium’s technology to track digital biomarkers… Substitute “used” for “utilized.” Does it make a difference? The only one we can see is that utilized is longer. So why use it? Yes, utilize can be distinguished from use when it’s used to refer to using something that serves even if it wasn’t intended for that purpose (“She utilized her dead tablet as a doorstop”), but it’s a slight distinction and “use” can still work. Utilize can also mean “to convert to use,” most often in scientific writing. (“The body utilizes carbohydrates.”) Even here, “use” can work, although it sounds a lot less scientific for some reason. In general, utilize is a just a fancy way of saying use, and is usually best not u̶t̶i̶l̶i̶z̶e̶d̶ used at all. These nine words are only the tip of an iceberg. From “a priori” to “untenable,” words can work for you, or against you. And that’s our last (not penultimate!) word, at least in this article, on the words that can trip you up.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Deloitte Consulting LLP and Salesforce Are Using Technology to Transform the Employee Experience - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DELOITTE’S CONNECTME AND SALESFORCE
Today’s employees are digital consumers who expect to connect at work with the same ease with which they connect at home. Deloitte’s ConnectMe enables a digital workplace by using insights to connect the workforce to what they need, where and when they need it. ConnectMe leverages the world’s leading CRM cloud solution, Salesforce, to help organizations navigate the changing workplace and deliver an exceptional employee experience. To find out more, please visit www.Deloitte.com/connectme. Download this podcast Angelia Herrin, HBR Welcome to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Quick Take. I’m Angelia Herrin, Editor for Special Projects and Research at HBR. And today I’m talking with Michael Gretczko, Principal, National Offering Leader, Human Capital as a Service at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, and with Jody Kohner, Senior Vice President of Employee Marketing and Engagement at Salesforce. We’re focusing today on how new challenges and new technologies are changing human capital management, and how to ensure that this key resource becomes a sustained competitive advantage for your company. Michael and Jody, thanks so much for joining us today. Jody Kohner, Salesforce Thanks so much for having us. Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP Likewise, happy to be here. Angelia Herrin, HBR Michael, you’ve seen a lot of changes in the workplace and the workforce over the past few years. How are those changes impacting business leaders, and what does that mean for human capital management? Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP It’s a great question, and one that we’re working on with our clients day in and day out. And when we talk with business leaders, what we really hear and what we talk about is how external pressures are really fundamentally changing the way organizations do business. And we call this a move from a business enterprise to a social enterprise—one where businesses need to understand what’s happening in the broader society, in their workplace, and with a rapidly changing workforce. And it’s that last part, that rapidly changing workforce and the change in work, that really leads to some very significant human capital issues. And we really think about those in five buckets. The first is that our client organizations are trying to figure out how to transition to the future of work, as technology is really fundamentally changing how work gets done. The second one is they’re really trying to create what I’ll call a simply irresistible experience for their employees, to engage them and get them working toward the company’s mission and objectives. Third, they’re focused on optimizing what I’ll call the human capital balance sheet, making sure their workforce dollars are creating the right kind of impact in the way that their workforce is showing up day in and day out in the workplace. Fourth, they’re activating the digital organization—taking advantage of the new digital tools that are available in the market, to work in very different ways and to leverage those digital technologies to create efficiency. Fifth, and last, is sustaining organizational performance—constantly reevaluating how you’re using your workforce and your people to drive performance in the organization that doesn’t rest. That keeps on driving more and more impact on the bottom line. Jody Kohner, Salesforce You know, I would add that I think, as someone who’s living this every day, we all know that the talent market is just so tough right now. You have to work really, really hard at these things that Michael was pointing out to be able to attract the very best talent, and also to keep them. There are some interesting stats out there that we really watch closely around attraction and engagement and retention that show that 45 percent of employers report difficulties in filling jobs, that 85 percent of employees self-report as being disengaged, and—a really scary thought here—that 90 percent of them are open to new opportunities. So really kind of getting ahead of what these issues are and how you’re managing them, and how you’re creating these simply irresistible experiences that Michael referred to—it’s critical work. Angelia Herrin, HBR You’ve outlined a lot of challenges. How could HR executives, working with other leaders, really turn human capital management into a sustained competitive advantage? Jody Kohner, Salesforce I think that you really have to focus on investing in your employees. That investing in employee engagement is an actual business imperative, and it has real, measurable ROI. The author Kevin Kruse, who wrote a book called Engagement 2.0, which talks a lot about the engagement profit change, which roughly translated shows how happy employees lead to happy customers, which ultimately results in happy stakeholders. And one of the things that I think we notice all the time is that there are companies all across the globe, in every single industry, that are really focused right now on the customer experience, and really trying to drive digital transformations for them. But what they’re under investing in is the employee experience and also driving digital transformations for those employees who are servicing all of those customers. Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP I absolutely agree. I think what Jody said is exactly what we see as well. And I’ll just add that I think that as we think about employee experience and engagement as a business issue, to really make that a reality, there has to be collaboration between the business and HR leaders. HR leaders need to help business leaders sense those markets trends, understand the workforce composition, and collaborate to attract and retain those workforce capabilities—and to do that, they need to address those very sobering stats that Jody pulled together. There’s always been some form of collaboration, but now it’s mandatory; HR and the business need to be working hand in hand to tackle some of these very tough issues. Angelia Herrin, HBR You talked about engagement. Where should leaders be focusing to really keep today’s workforce meaningfully engaged? Jody Kohner, Salesforce We definitely do not have all that figured out. It’s a working formula. But the formula that we have been using, I do believe, is generating a lot of success for us. It’s a little tough because it’s human, it’s very personal, and people are messy. But the formula that we like to use is that if you take one part culture, one part technology, and one part data, you will ultimately drive more engagement. And let me just give you an example of how we do that. When it comes to culture—I mean at Salesforce—we really believe that this is our single greatest differentiator and it is our competitive advantage. And so we focus a lot on this. We are very intentional. We write it down. We prioritize it. We build programs around it. We measure it. And we’re constantly innovating on it. This is something that is not owned by HR; it is owned by every single employee across the globe. I’m not talking about ping-pong tables and snacks; this is really about meaningful work. It’s about purpose and belonging. And that’s all really nice, but it can result in only words, if you don’t put a lot of action behind it. And so one of the things that we have found is that this is where the technology component comes in. Because a great culture and beautiful words and wonderful sentiment are just not enough. Today’s employees also want social, mobile, intelligent, and connected technologies—the same as the ones they are using outside of work. They can go through their life and have these relationships with their favorite brands in a really efficient and awesome and meaningful way, but they need to be able to come into work and have those same experiences. So we’re doing things like avoiding endless meetings and emails and instead leveraging a community for communications. We don’t have an intranet at Salesforce, we use apps. They’re all built on the Salesforce platform. We don’t have help desk tickets into black holes where nobody can get help for anything. We have self-service apps in which 95 percent of employee needs are instantly answered in real time. And the beauty of all of this is that if you get out of some of those older and more archaic technologies that people are sometimes forced to work in, and you work in apps, then you get data, which is the third component of engagement for us. Because when you’re in apps, and you’re in communities, and you’re putting people on email journeys, you get a substantial amount of data. And you can aggregate this, and you can analyze this, and you can help make smarter talent decisions. And to Michael’s point, how does HR partner with the business? It’s through data. Data is the language of the business, and if you can change the system so that you have more data, you can really many more meaningful experiences for employees. Angelia Herrin, HBR Measurement and metrics challenge every company, so how do you measure efforts to build a great experience for employees? Jody Kohner, Salesforce That’s kind of funny, because when I first took this job and was thinking about taking this job, my mentor said to me, “Oh, you’d better be careful, because if you don’t have data, you’re never going to be successful. I’d really think twice about that.” And I had this fear that I wasn’t going to be able to rise to that occasion. And so we have dug in really, really deep on the data chain. We do things like employee surveys—we do those twice a year. We also do a lot of analysis around help tickets that are being logged and what employees are struggling with. We monitor conversations in our own social internal networks. We measure attrition numbers and patterns. We also look at outside sources like Glassdoor reviews and LinkedIn talent flow data trends. And all of this combined can tell a really robust story that shows tangibly why investing in culture engagement is a really smart business decision. It’s not just a “nice to have.” And we run our employee surveys here a little differently than most companies I’ve seen. We do them twice a year, and all of the data is actually put into an app that every single employee has access to. This really fundamentally changes the ownership question—you know, who owns the culture? If it’s a survey that’s run by HR, then what you find is the whole business goes back to HR and says, “Okay, well, what are we going to do about it?” But if I put that data into an app and I make it “drill downable,” so that every person on every team across the globe can look at the survey results, now that manager is really the one who’s on the hook, who has to admit, “Wow, the culture on my team isn’t where I’d like it to be.” This becomes really important from a price perspective; it’s another performance metric that we measure against. A company that’s growing must be able to retain its talent and show them different career paths. And if you’ve got a score that indicates your team isn’t engaged and having fun, that’s going to work against you. So again, it’s not an HR thing to own—everybody owns it, and the data is what makes that possible. Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP And I’ll just add that I think everything that Jody and the team at Salesforce are doing is leading edge and is what we’re seeing that the most progressive organizations are doing. I think one of the takeaways is that we’re starting to see organizations taking marketing technology and marketing thinking and applying it to this talent problem of engagement. It’s things like using data to segment your population and understand the texture of your workforce so that you can drive different programs and different engagement with those employees based on their profiles and based on what they need as individuals, and starting to really highlight the individual within your workforce. We also think there’s a need to really focus on what we call interaction analytics which is—like some examples that Jody shared around employees—what are they clicking on? What are they consuming? How are they talking to each other? Who is talking to whom? It’s really getting this other level of texture around what’s happening out in the workforce. We find that allows you to be much more predictive in how you service your employees as an HR function, how you understand the tone of how your employees are thinking about a new business initiative, or a new product, and to use all that data to really enrich your management decision-making as you navigate these very turbulent waters that many companies are navigating right now. Angelia Herrin, HBR So, Michael, where do you see new technologies like AI and cognitive having real impact on the way work gets done, and on employee experience? Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP You know, I think there are really three big buckets of technology that are specifically transforming this employee experience. The first one is what I’ll call a digital workplace, which is a little bit of what we’ve been talking about here—how these technologies are changing, how the workforce engages, how teams communicate and manage work, and how leaders engage with team members. And this is really about bringing those consumer and social technologies into the workplace and making them part of the fabric of how work gets done. The second thing I think is really important is cognitive and AI, which is radically transforming how lots of different work gets done. It’s automating tasks, it’s optimizing processes, it’s taking over work that teams don’t necessarily need to do that is relatively routine. And it also allows machines to learn perhaps more quickly than humans and develop new capabilities based on those patterns that they detect. Cognitive and AI are really changing the kind of work that employees are doing in the workplace. And it is likely that work will be much more interesting, and much more focused on humanistic capabilities and abilities than some of the more routine work that gets done today, and that is frankly less engaging to employees. And the third area, which we talked a little bit about here, is really this whole area of what I’ll call sensing and insights, cognitive and AI. Digital workplace helps with that, but it’s about really sifting through the notes and finding the signal, finding the intelligence and the insight using that employee data to understand how employees are impacting each other and their leaders, and how they’re interacting with the external world. In response to the first question, I talked about the rise of the social enterprise, and that understanding how your employees perceive your organization and what they say about your organization outside of its walls is a really important indication of how well you’re doing around engagement. And you can use that data and those interactions to really craft very personalized experiences that speak to individual employees and their career objectives, and that’s when you really hit nirvana of engagement and experience. Angelia Herrin, HBR So, what does it mean to create a digital workplace, and who drives this transformation? Is it HR? Is it IT leaders? Who’s in charge here? Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP I define digital workplaces as a smart, intuitive, and empowering set of technologies that really help employees do their jobs really well and feel good about where they work. One key characteristic of this is that it needs to be a consumer-grade, social media-like experience, very similar to what employees experience outside of the workplace. It’s something that we’ve invested in, and we built a product we call ConnectMe—built actually with Salesforce technology and leveraging all the innovation that Salesforce has brought into this space—to really allow employees to access and consume HR services and content that are relevant to them, and to help guide them through things like the moments that matter when they’re in the workplace, such as getting married or getting promoted or starting a new job or taking on a new set of responsibilities or moving to a new location. We really want to enable them to be successful in those clear transitions—helping employees to team better to get work done, and helping employees get information about how to improve their own effectiveness and raise their own capabilities. And we’ve enabled all that in this digital workplace platform by taking these various technologies we’ve talked about here and aligning them around some of the common problems and issues that we talked about in the beginning that our clients are starting to experience in the marketplace. The last part of your question was, how does this get driven? In our perspective, it needs to be close collaboration (this will be a theme for today) between HR and, in this case, IT. HR needs to really understand the programs it’s pushing out to its employees—really understand its workforce and what they need, and understand even the workforce outside of its walls, the gig workers. And IT really needs to help by stitching these technologies together and making sure they create a comprehensive, easy-to-use experience that’s modern-technology-accessible, in all places at all times, to employees to really meet the expectations of those employees. And we don’t believe either function can do this well on its own. And the best solutions that we’ve seen were about close collaboration and goal alignment between those two functions. Angelia Herrin, HBR A lot of companies are facing this digital transformation. So what advice would you give to HR executives and other business leaders to ensure they don’t get left behind in this fast-paced transformation? Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP I can take first stab at this one. I think one of the things that we see all the time is that the workforce is changing dramatically right now, and very, very quickly. The composition is changing, the kind of work employees and the workforce are doing is changing, and the way we do that work is changing. And employees recognize that in this world of constant change, a traditional career trajectory probably doesn’t set them up for success. They’re more looking for experiences—developmental experiences that help them build the skills of the future. And that requires a level of empowerment. You’ve got to empower employees to go off and take on these new experiences and express themselves, and our research suggests that only 59 percent of executives have rated themselves as effective at empowering the individuals. So you’ve got a large portion of the management workforce saying, “I don’t know how to create experiences for my employees,” yet that’s really the way employees will learn and develop in the future, and that’s really the expectation they come into the organization with. I think some of the best organizations are empowering individuals with those valuable experiences, focusing on raising the skill sets of their managers and their HR professionals who are trying to nurture and guide this. They’re really trying to focus on making sure there’s this constant focus on new experiences—taking advantage of the disruption within and outside your walls, so that you’re prepared for the changes that are coming. Jody Kohner, Salesforce I agree with everything you’ve said. I also think that there is obviously a heavy dose of technology that is going to be the key to evolving, but you can’t forget about just the plain, simple human factors. And it really starts with having meaningful work—making sure that your employees deeply understand the company vision, the plan to get there, and most importantly, what their share of the task is. This is what creates a sense of purpose and belonging. The other thing that I would note, though, is that we also need to make sure that employees have a purpose just beyond profit. I think one of the most remarkable things that the founders did from the very first day the company was started was to create our 1-1-1 model, wherein we give away one percent of our time, one percent of our product, and one percent of our equity to the communities that we live in and we serve. Being able to state company goals around this and activate employees to be out in the community and to be participating, it creates a higher purpose. More recently, we actually elevated equality to be another core value of our company, in addition to giving back, because it was important to the employees—the employees told us that, we heard them, and we changed the culture of the company because this needed to be prioritized. I also would add that you could never underestimate the power of just focusing on some fun and some well-being. These are things that millennials are demanding from their employers, but honestly, I don’t think these are just millennial things; I think these are human things. I think the millennials are just bold enough to ask for them. Angelia Herrin, HBR Michael and Jody, this has been a great discussion. Thanks so much for joining us. Learn more by visiting www.Deloitte.com/connectme.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Should You Give Your Star Employees Star Treatment?
Francesco Sassetti/Getty Images How vital are your vital few? In any team or organization, a small number of individuals will account for a substantial amount of collective output. These “stars” are able to systematically outperform the majority of their peers and confirm the well-established Pareto effect whereby 80% of collective output can be attributed to 20% of the people in a group, or even fewer. Contrary to popular belief, there are universal traits that predict whether individuals will be part of an organization’s vital few, such as their higher levels of intelligence, work ethic, and social skills. In other words, people who are smart, nice, and hard-working tend to outperform their peers. They also learn faster and are more likely to adapt to new demands, which means they have higher levels of potential even for jobs they have not done in the past. Because of this, stars are more likely to be in demand than their peers, so they will be approached by recruiters and rival organizations, who will try to entice them with better job offers and career opportunities. As McKinsey predicted 20-years ago, there is a War for Talent, and, in the age of human capital, a company’s stars are the commodities being fought for. This is particularly critical in high-complexity jobs, where the average output difference between average and star employees is 800% (as opposed to 50% in low-complexity jobs). So, what can you do to keep your star performers motivated? Since engagement is a critical driver of performance, minimizing the gap between what your stars can do and actually do will be vital to achieving the highest level of collective output. Here are a few data-driven suggestions: Know who they actually are: This may sound obvious, but since most organizations rely on subjective ratings of managers to identify their star performers, false positives are the norm. Unfortunately, this unreliable methodology turns the pivotal exercise of internal talent identification into a popularity contest whereby politically astute employees who manage up and take credit for others’ achievements are more likely to emerge as high potentials — though they more faux po’s than hipo’s. Consider that a seminal meta-analysis on the main predictors of career success identified that political skills are the strongest predictor. As I argue in my forthcoming book, this is one of the reasons why men are more likely to emerge as leaders, even when they are incompetent. In order to ensure that you know who your star performers really are, you should: (a) put in place reliable quantitative performance indicators to compare people’s relative contribution to the team’s performance; (b) use valid psychological assessments to identify their potential (beyond their past performance); and (c) pay attention to your employees’ reputations, particularly what their peers and colleagues think of them (you can’t fool all people all the time). And remember: some people will always get annoyed when they find out they are not regarded as stars, but fair rules and transparent criteria will significantly reduce the number of complainers. You and Your Team Series Retention How to Lose Your Best Employees Whitney Johnson To Retain New Hires, Make Sure You Meet with Them in Their First Week Dawn Klinghoffer et al. Why Great Employees Leave “Great Cultures” Melissa Daimler Let them know that you know they’re valuable: Although many organizations refrain from telling their stars that they are stars, there are several problems with this approach. First, if your concern is that by telling your stars that you consider them stars they will become entitled, then you should note that true stars have the capacity to remain motivated and humble even after their contribution to the firm is acknowledged. In other words, if their performance decreases because you told them, then they were not real stars (and you will not lose too much if they go). Second, fairness is not treating everyone the same, but treating them as they deserve to be treated: if you make your stars feel that they are just like everyone else, they will feel unfairly treated, and rightly so. Third, no matter how much potential people have, they will need to be developed in order to live up to it. This means investing in them, and since you cannot invest in every single employee — and investing in your stars will produce the biggest ROI — you will probably want to tell them that they are worthy of investment. And if you are worried about the risk that they might leave after you invest in them, remember that, as Henry Ford noted, “the only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” Make an effort to engage them: With global estimates suggesting that only 13% of employees are engaged, and that the major cause of engagement (and disengagement) is their manager, it is essential that you minimize the risk that your stars fall into this category, and this will require special attention. First, you will need to ensure that they regard their role and contribution as meaningful, which requires aligning their activities with their core values and drivers. Second, provide them with opportunities to develop their curiosity, including the freedom to learn and to nourish their hungry mind (top performers are often more naturally curious, which means they will have lower tolerance for boring and repetitive jobs). Third, focus on the universal drivers of engagement, namely autonomy, affiliation, and achievement. That is, give your star employees resources and leave them alone (as opposed to micromanaging them); make sure they experience a sense of belonging and camaraderie with others and the wider organization; and help them perform beyond their expectations (engagement boosts performance, but performance boosts engagement). Remember that money isn’t everything: While money is the main vehicle organizations use to keep their star performers happy, it is generally a poor driver of satisfaction. In fact, meta-analytic studies indicate that there is just 5% overlap between pay and pay satisfaction, and merely 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction. In fact, when you pay people too much for doing something that they enjoy, they may end up enjoying it less. And even if that isn’t the case, your stars will likely habituate quickly to your financial rewards — so a fat wallet is unlikely to buy you their love in the long run. Fundamentally, there are many other psychological drivers people will want to fulfill at work, including their need to help others, to influence others, and to enjoy what they do. And since one size does not fit all, you will need to devote enough time to decoding the personal values and drivers of your stars if you truly aspire to motivating them and keeping them happy. Regardless of the approach you take to managing and retaining stars, it is essential that you make everyone aware of what the rules of the game are. To be sure, nobody likes to find out that they are not part of the vital few, but the proportion of individuals who will accept this will increase systematically if you are very explicit about what it takes to be part of the vital few, and you enable others to verify that those criteria are actually put in place. At the end of the day, even if everyone wanted to be a star performer, it is not the case that everyone is willing to do what it takes to attain that. In short, your stars do deserve star treatment, but there is a rational, data-driven, and fair way to provide it, which will minimize perceptions of a rigged or nepotistic culture in your team or organization. For sure, having no approach or avoiding the issue will decrease rather than increase the perception of fairness.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Perfect Is the Enemy
From the Women at Work podcast: Listen and subscribe to our podcast via Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RSSDownload the discussion guide for this episodeJoin our online community Download this podcast If you’ve worked your way up in a competitive field — or are anxious by nature — you may have perfectionist tendencies. Maybe you’re a hard-driving, obsessive worker who thinks a task is never quite done. Or maybe you’re avoidant, struggling to start a project because you want it to be done just right. We all know society holds women to a higher standard than men and rewards us for not making mistakes. But internalizing other people’s expectations — or what we think they expect — will only burn us out. To keep rising in our careers, we need to get in tune with our own standards for what’s a good, or good enough, job. It is possible to keep our perfectionist tendencies under control. We talk through tactics with our guest expert, Alice Boyes. Guest:Alice Boyes is a former clinical psychologist turned writer and author. Her books are The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit. Resources: ● “How Perfectionists Can Get Out of Their Own Way,” by Alice Boyes● “How to Focus on What’s Important, Not Just What’s Urgent,” by Alice Boyes● “How to Collaborate with a Perfectionist,” by Alice Boyes● “Perfectionism Is Increasing, and That’s Not Good News,” by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill Fill out our survey about workplace experiences.Email us here: womenatwork@hbr.org Our theme music is Matt Hill’s “City In Motion,” provided by Audio Network.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Should Everyone Be Allowed to Invest in Private Tech Companies?
Beata Bernina/Getty Images The SEC Chairman recently announced a policy initiative to enable the ordinary investors to invest in private companies. Currently, only wealthy accredited investors are allowed to invest in private companies. His stated goal is enabling small investors to get access to alternative high-quality investments, such as in private tech companies like Uber and AirBnB. But in our view this policy, even if implemented, will not work as intended because the ordinary investors may not want to invest in private startups and private companies, especially digital ones, may not want ordinary investors. It’s worth noting that the average investor does have alternative options to indirectly invest in digital startups. While most of the private equity companies are private, a few like Blackstone Group, KKR, Carlyle Group, and Apollo Global Management are traded on stock exchanges. Many public traded companies, such as Alphabet, Intel, and Apple are, in part, venture capitalists in disguise. While investors may not have the opportunity to invest in Uber, they can potentially invest in similar ventures via KKR or indirectly invest in similar businesses such as Waymo or Titan by investing in Google and Apple, respectively. Furthermore, pension funds are increasingly looking at investments in private equity funds. This may be a better model for average investors to get exposure to private companies, for several reasons. Digital startups often seek to grow quickly and so report large losses. They therefore seek investors who understand their initial losses and can facilitate secondary rounds of funding when their operations grow. In addition, given their quest for organization leanness, digital startups seek investors who have the expertise to help outsource their noncore business functions, such as production, distribution, marketing, and payroll processing. In addition, venture firms are constantly scouring for opportunities to get their invested company acquired, which is an increasingly attractive exit route for digital entrepreneurs, given the IPO’s long-drawn process and mandated holding-period requirements for initial investors. Thus, digital entrepreneurs choose their financiers not only for their contributed capital but also for their partnership value and exit options they create for the company. Available capital now significantly exceeds viable investment opportunities so digital entrepreneurs can afford to be picky in choosing their funding partners. By 2017, the number of total private equity funds reached 7,700 and the amount of free investible funds reached $1.7 trillion. With so much private capital chasing good investment opportunities, digital entrepreneurs prefer to remain in private hands until the time they are ready for regulatory compliance, quarterly financial reporting, and public investors’ demand for regular profits, as required post IPO. Gone is the heyday of the 1990s when firms with simply an idea and little or no revenues could do an IPO. The median age of technology firms, backed by venture capitalists, doing an IPO has reached eleven years and is increasing. Eleven years is a long period for a surviving digital company, during which time, the value of its initial investments can jump several folds. For example, the initial investments of $25 million, made by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital in Google in 1999, increased by more than hundred folds by the time Google went public in 2004. Thus, the most lucrative investment opportunities, with the highest payoff potential, never see the light of public market. They are cornered and nurtured with patient capital by private investors, some of which make huge killing in those investments. By the time, those opportunities reach public markets, if at all, they are fully priced. Public-market investors, therefore, cannot hope to become wildly rich as can some lucky private equity investors. But a lack of wildly profitable investment opportunities does not justify the opening of private market to public-market investors. Opportunities pursued by private funds carry large risk and require long time horizons. The median holding is five years, some investments take ten years. General partners of private funds extract large management fees, but it takes a minimum of six years to evaluate their performance. In contrast, investments in public equity markets, through mutual funds for example, diversify risks and impose low management fees. Their performance can be assessed almost on daily basis and the investments can be quickly liquidated through stock markets. Thus, the economics of private equity funds do not favor the investments from ordinary investors, who do not possess the surplus wealth, ability to pay high management fees, and have the patience and risk-bearing capacity of rich investors. Moreover, can the average public investor stomach losses that VCs incur when their investments fail? In sum, SEC’s chairman’s proposal mentioned at the beginning of this article, while laudable in intent, is unlikely to work. We do not expect ordinary investors to come running to digital startups nor do we expect digital startups to start welcoming ordinary investors, even if the regulations were changed.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How the Architecture of Hospitals Affects Health Outcomes
mathisworks/Getty Images A key determinant of everything that matters when it comes to health interventions — the experience, cost, and results — has been hiding in plain sight. It is the buildings and spaces in which patients are treated. The size and layout of a room, whether a bed sits in the middle or against a wall (even which wall), how much space is maintained for patients to walk versus how many beds or operating equipment can be accommodated, have not been considered predictors of health outcomes in the past. That’s changing, as architects and health care organizations come together to incorporate principles of social design into the built health care environment. “Social design,” a term whose roots go back several decades, fully entered the lexicon around 2006. It refers to the design of relationships, including those that are invisible and intangible. Unlike design thinking, an iterative process for developing alternative ideas and strategies based on understanding a “user” and a specific problem, social design addresses the needs of whole communities or societies. In health care that means reimagining the role a building can play in the health of its inhabitants and the locale in which it is situated. Insight Center The Future of Health Care Sponsored by Medtronic Creating better outcomes at reduced cost. Consider the collaboration between Dr. Neel Shah and nonprofit architecture firm MASS Design Group. Shah, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, directs the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs, a partnership between the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cofounded by Michael Murphy, a Harvard-trained architect who has devoted himself to improving the social impact of built environments, MASS is changing the way hospitals are designed and constructed. Murphy has written extensively about the offenses his profession commits against the vulnerable and powerless, especially with hospitals, prisons, and public housing. In 2014, Murphy made a presentation on the history of hospital design at Ariadne Labs. His observations about the impact of hospital design on patient health and dignity struck a chord with Shah. For the next year, Shah and a MASS research team — led by Murphy, Amie Shao, and nurse-turned-architect Deb Rosenberg — embarked on a study of the growing crisis in unnecessary Caesarean deliveries in the United States, which result in hundreds of thousands of cases of avoidable suffering due to surgical complications and lead to $5 billion in wasted spending each year. They looked at 12 diverse facilities for evidence of how unit design affects Caesarean rates. (Previous studies looked only at room scale, not unit scale.) They found, among other things, that hospitals with relatively more operating rooms and relatively fewer labor rooms tended to do more surgery. But the story is much bigger than one narrow area of clinical care. In other work, MASS has demonstrated that every aspect of the design of hospitals and clinics is an opportunity to improve patient experience and outcomes. The Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda has become a benchmark for how prioritizing patients’ health can prevent the spread of infectious disease and send patients home faster. Working with Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health, MASS helped design the hospital to mitigate and reduce the transmission of airborne disease through overall layout, patient and staff flow, and natural cross-ventilation. The use of local materials — like volcanic rock from the Virunga mountain chain — and local labor-intensive practices enabled a site-appropriate, sustainable design and stimulated the local economy. The Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti, developed in partnership with Haitian health care provider Les Centres GHESKIO, incorporates a wastewater-treatment system designed to prevent recontamination of the water table, stopping the spread of disease. Local metalworkers crafted the facility’s façade; local craftsmen helped produce furniture tailored to the needs of cholera patients. In the work of MASS and in the insights emerging from the research initiative on clinical care in childbirth a number of key social design principles can be seen — principles that are adaptable to any built environment in which health care is delivered. Those principles include the following: Make sure your vision reflects the ultimate objectives. Shah set out to examine whether health care facilities are designed to deliver, as he says, more health or just more health care. For example, hospitals have traditionally measured their success in terms of bed occupancy. Consequently, their design features many private rooms and little space for walking. But current medical thinking holds that for a great many patients and conditions, getting up and around is essential for recovery. The traditional hospitals are delivering health care, but not necessarily health, which should be the ultimate objective. Seek input from people who don’t think like you. Patients, families, physicians, nurses, administrators, and architects look at issues through different lenses. They are all important to understanding why things happen the way they do. For example, various stakeholders in the Butaro District Hospital asked why a hospital ward should follow traditional layouts, with patients lying with their heads at the exterior wall while doctors and visitors have views out the windows behind them. What happens when sick people have a view of the countryside instead of staring at other sick people all day long? Why employ traditional designs for ventilation when they depend on a power grid that often fails, exposing patients to airborne diseases that make them sicker than they were when they entered the hospital? Make the invisible visible. Make maps and draw the systems at work in your facility, including patterns of traffic, people who talk to each other and those who don’t, and room and building layouts. Drawing is the only reliable way to make sure diverse people are seeing the same thing. Shifting the language we use from verbal to visual uncovers the hidden dynamics that form our thinking and behavior and unleashes new thinking. An architect’s instinct to measure size and traffic flow in labor units helped make the causes of the C-section epidemic visible. Experiment continually. Planning, especially facilities planning, almost inevitably stifles ongoing innovation. Planning builds in assumptions about the future at a time when things change faster than ever — in health care no less than in other areas of our lives. It freezes design — of processes as well as space — in place. And it often puts an end to transformation until the next distant planning cycle. Counterbalance long-term planning through constant experimentation that proceeds on the belief that complex problems can be unraveled and innovation hastened by really listening to feedback gleaned from prototypes that keep designers’ work connected to the needs of the communities they serve. This model is emerging in interdisciplinary innovation labs like the Helix Centre at Imperial College London, the Center for Innovation at the Mayo Clinic, and the Consortium for Medical Technologies at Massachusetts General Hospital, where clinicians, designers, engineers, patients, and business professionals engage in continual innovation. Adoption of these principles of social design can not only help lead to better health outcomes but also help hospitals thrive at a time when patients increasingly seek information to guide their choice of health care facilities. Those decisions often include elements of design, though consumers may not frame them that way, thinking instead in more concrete terms like whether a facility has dedicated walking spaces to help speed convalescence and shorten hospital stays or waiting areas that don’t feel like bus stations. And some consumers will include in their deliberations larger social goods like the facility’s relations with its neighborhood and its reputation for delivering health, not just health care.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Help Your Team Do More Without Burning Out
Image Source/Getty Images As we begin our coaching session, Nick is fired up. He radiates energy, his eyes are beaming with determination, and he never really comes to a full rest. He speaks passionately of a new initiative he is spearheading, taking on the looming threats from Silicon Valley, and rethinking his company’s business model completely. I recognize this behavior in Nick, having seen it many times over the years since he was first singled out as a high-potential talent. “Restless and relentless” have been his trademarks as he has risen through the ranks and aced one challenge after another. But this time, I notice something new. Beneath the usual can-do attitude there is an inkling of something else: Mild disorientation and even signs of exhaustion. “It’s like sprinting all you can, and then you turn a corner and find that you are actually setting out on a marathon,” he remarks at one point. And as we speak, this sneaking feeling of not keeping pace turns out to be Nick’s true concern: Is he about to lose his magic touch and burn out? Nick is not alone. In a psychologist’s practice, common themes rise and wane across a cohort of clients. Right now, I see a surge of concern about speed: getting ahead and staying ahead. More clients use similar metaphors about “running to stand still” or feeling “caught on a track.” Invariably, their first response is to speed up and run faster. But the impulse to simply run faster to escape friction is obviously of no use for the long haul of life-long career. In fact, our immediate behavioral response to friction shares one feature with the much of the general advice about speeding up: It is plainly counterproductive and leads to burn out rather than break out. To add insult to injury, the way to wrestle effectively with the challenge of sustainable speed is somewhat counterintuitive and even disconcerting — especially to high-performing leaders who have successfully relied on their personal drive to make results. From ego-drive to co-drive The key to speeding up without burning up is a concept I call co-drive. Sustainable speed does not come from ego-drive, that is, your own personal performance or energy level, but rather from a different approach to engaging with people around you. Rather than running faster, Nick needs to make different moves altogether. First, he must let go of his obsession with his own development, his own needs, his own performance, and his own pace. Second, he must start obsessing about other people. It may seem illogical, but the leap to a new growth curve begins by realizing that the recipe is not to take on more and speed up, but to slow down and let go of some of the issues that have been your driving forces: power, prestige, responsibility, recognition, or face-time. The talent phase in our careers tends to be profoundly self-centered, even narcissistic. If you need to move on from the first growth curve in your career, and want to take on more challenges, you need to exchange ego-drive for co-drive. Co-drive requires that you momentarily forget yourself — and instead focus on others. The shift involves an understanding that you have already proven yourself. At this stage, the point is to help those around you perform. The change to co-drive involves moving from a stage of grabbing territory to a stage characterized by letting go of command and control. Beyond teamwork So here is what Nick needs to do: Rather than striving to be energetic, he should aim to be energizing. Rather than setting the pace, he should aspire to make teams self-propelling. Instead of delegating tasks, he should learn to lead by congregating. Be energizing, not energetic. Here is the paradox: You can actually speed things up by slowing down. There is no doubt that being energetic is contagious and therefore a short-term source of momentum. But if you lead by example all the time, your batteries will eventually run dry. You risk being drained at the vey point when your leadership is needed the most. Conveying a sense of urgency is useful, but an excess of urgency suffocates team development and reflection at the very point it is needed. “Code red” should be left for real emergencies. Nick has always had a weak point for people, who, like himself, are high-energy and get things done. These “Energizer Bunnies” are his star players. However, with the co-drive mindset, Nick needs to widen his sights and recognize and reward people who are good at energizing others. Energizing behavior is unselfish, generous, and praises, not just progress, but personality too. Seek self-propulsion, not pace-setting. If you lead by beating the drum, setting tight deadlines, and burning the midnight oil, your team becomes overly dependent on your presence. Sustainable speed is achievable only if the team propels itself without your presence. Jim Collins wrote that great leaders don’t waste time telling time, they build clocks. Self-propulsion comes from letting go of control, resisting the urge to make detailed corrections and allowing for informal leadership to flourish. As Ron Heifetz advocates, true leadership is realizing that you need to “give the work back” instead of being the hero who sweeps in and solves everybody’s problems. In Nick’s case, he should resist the urge to take the driver’s seat and allow himself to take the passenger seat instead. Leading from the side-line, not the front line will change his perspective. Instead of looking at the road and navigating traffic, he is able to monitor how the driver is actually doing and what needs to improve. In his mind, he should fire himself — momentarily — and see what happens to his team when he sets them free and asks them to take charge instead of looking to him for answers, deadlines and decisions. Congregate, don’t delegate. From very early on in our careers we learn that in order to solve big, complex issues fast, we must decompose the problem into smaller parts and delegate these pieces to specialists to get leverage. Surely, you can make good music by patching together the tracks of individual recordings. But true masterpieces come alive when the orchestra plays together. One example is the so-called Trauma Center approach. When a trauma patient comes in, all specialists are in the room assessing the patient at the same time, but constantly allowing the most skilled specialist to take the lead (and talk), not the designated leader. The most well-run trauma teams I have observed know when to jump in and when to step back. To put it simply, it’s no use working on a finger if the heart is failing. A trauma team relies on trust and patience. They trust each other’s specialty and work very symmetrically. There is a very strong “no one leaves before we are done” mentality in those teams. To Nick, this may sound like good old teamwork, and while Nick is certainly driven by a good measure of self-interest, he is also an accomplished leader who masters the dynamics of teamwork: Having shared goals, assigning roles and responsibilities, and investing in the team. But there is more to co-drive than plain teamwork. It is about re-working the collaborative process it self. Rather than cubicled problem-solving, sustainable speed requires a shift toward more collective creation: Gathering often, engaging issues openly and inviting others to improve on your own thoughts and decisions. Co-drive requires a different mindset. And it goes beyond team-work. Adam Grant from Wharton has done research demonstrating that a generous and giving attitude towards others enhances team performance. Try, for instance, to take a look at your own behavior yesterday and gauge the balance between giving and taking. Givers offer assistance, share knowledge, and focus on introducing and helping others. Takers attempt to get other people to do something that will ultimately benefit them, while they act as gatekeepers of their own knowledge. Grant’s conclusion is clear: a willingness to help others is not just the essence of effective cooperation and innovation — it is also the key to accelerating your own performance. Maturity and Caliber Headhunters call this change of perspective from ego-drive to co-drive “executive maturity.” The mature leader’s burning question is: how do I help others perform? The developmental psychologist Robert Kegan calls the leap a subject/object shift. You progress from seeing and navigating in the world on the basis of your own needs and motives — and allowing yourself to be governed by these needs — to seeing yourself from an external position as a part of an organism. It requires a certain caliber and self-assuredness to act in this way. The ability to put your ego on hold may require a great effort. It might be worthwhile reminding yourself of the words of the American President Harry Truman: “It is incredible what you can achieve, if you don’t care who gets the credit.” If you succeed in making this shift, and thereby improving the skills of the people around you, then you will also experience a greater degree of freedom. So next time you are feeling stuck, don’t ask: “How can I push harder?” but “Where can I let go?”
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How We Teach Digital Skills at PwC
Photography by Bob/Getty Images Across our society and in all industries, leaders and their organizations are racing to unlock the value of data, tech-enable business processes, and create better, more digitally-enhanced experiences for customers, clients, and employees. They are working to disrupt their own businesses before somebody else does. This cannot be done without substantial investment in talent. With about 500,000 unfilled tech jobs in the U.S., a number that’s widely anticipated to double by 2020, executives know they can’t hire their way out of the need for upskilled employees. And workers are keenly focused on organizations that will invest in their development and help secure their future in a digital, data-driven economy. Executives find themselves confronted with decisions about whether to acquire expertise from outside the company, through recruiting, partnerships, or acquisitions. But they can often overlook the idea of upskilling their current workforce. Upskilling can be a key enabler for driving the data, digital, and technology agenda of a company while also helping employees secure their own personal future and relevance. While employees must opt in to their own digital upskilling, and invest the time and effort required to acquire knowledge and new skills, leaders also need to commit to not leaving anyone behind and to making investments that support the lifelong learning that’s essential for the 21st century. Digital upskilling is fundamentally about culture and people experience — and bringing to life a shared growth mindset among individuals and teams, and across the entire organization. Insight Center Scaling Your Team’s Data Skills Sponsored by Splunk Help your employees be more data-savvy. At PwC, for example, we have developed a comprehensive workforce upskilling strategy to build the “digital fitness” of all of our people, equipping them with a broad base of knowledge across a variety of domains — such as data, analytics, AI and automation, blockchain, and design thinking — that we believe are critical for all business people today. This digital upskilling strategy is a core business priority, sponsored by our chairman. We develop digital fitness through tech-enabled learning — including podcasts, gamification, immersive skill building, multimedia content, and quizzes pushed through mobile platforms, not limited by the traditional boundaries of classrooms. We also built a Digital Fitness app that provides each of our employees with a personalized assessment of their digital acumen, and guides them to the tools and learning resources they need to fill gaps and make improvements. This app provides a customized learning path, while generating valuable information for workforce planning and skill development strategies. Digital Accelerators The future-proofing of our workforce includes a variety of fast-track developmental efforts. For example, we are enabling employees who are motivated to further accelerate their skills to do so by offering them a “career pivot” to become what we call “Digital Accelerators”. Accelerators rapidly deepen their skills in digital specialties, such as data, automation, AI, and digital storytelling by learning a variety of self-service tools and coding languages and applying these skills across our business. With a recognition from our firm leadership that embedding and distributing advanced skills throughout our teams was a critical pillar to our upskilling agenda, we invited all employees across our entire business to opt in and apply for the Digital Accelerator program in a competitive selection process. Roughly 3,500 employees applied for what would ultimately be about 1,000 spaces in 2018. Learning, Community, and Rapid Application Almost a year was invested in creating a flexible, forward-thinking learning experience that initially brings Accelerators together for an immersive in-person onboarding, followed by a personalized development path for each person. To ensure the protection of time needed to achieve rapid application of learning, the investment includes clearing the plates of hundreds of Accelerators by taking away their regular responsibilities. They focus on client work full-time while applying these skills for at least two years in this role. Freeing up time for them to learn, collaborate, and execute is a vital part of the program. Genuine digital upskilling isn’t something that can be piled on to other work. Our Accelerators are already using intelligent and robotic process/desktop automation to improve processes that had, until now, been manually intensive. This can take tasks down from, in some cases, 1,000+ hours to just minutes or seconds, creating capacity for staff and their clients to focus impact on higher-value matters. As Accelerators demonstrate progressive mastery of knowledge and skills through application, they also earn recognition through our Digital Badging program. Another key is building community among Accelerators and empowering them to self-organize in ways that amplify their successes. Staying connected, working together, and sharing learnings that can elevate the entire organization is essential. That sense of connection is tech-enabled, of course. But it’s the human element that makes it remarkable. The social element of the program encourages accelerated learning through sharing among peers. And it means the benefits of digitization efforts can quickly come “out of the lab” and scale. Now, automations of traditionally manual tasks are available for use by thousands of people across PwC, many of whom have never met before, and most of whom are not in the formal Digital Accelerator program. Lessons for Executives and Organizations What did we learn along the way that can help other organizations who wish to put such programs into place? A few key things: Digital upskilling is a business and a people priority. It’s important that managers at all levels recognize development and upskilling as a CEO-driven business priority. Tech-enabled learning can’t happen without the right investments, assets, and processes in place. Employees should be empowered not only with digital tools and resources, but also, the time to apply that learning. The acquisition of new skills and demonstrated impact needs to be celebrated — and credentialed. Focus on building a growth mindset culture. Commit to leaving nobody behind — as long as they choose not to be left behind. Being committed to lifelong learning is simply table stakes in a digital and data-driven world. Organizationally-enabled learning is an implicit “contract” between the business and the learner/employee, who must be willing to opt in to what’s available. The work we’re doing is tied to business outcomes and directly linked to culture change. Fundamentally, our digital upskilling is broad, scalable, flexible, fast, and already delivering results not just in terms of transforming our business — but in transforming our people experience.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
If Humility Is So Important, Why Are Leaders So Arrogant?
Martin Poole/Getty Images A recent management column in the Wall Street Journal appeared under the appealing headline, “The Best Bosses Are Humbles Bosses.” The article reported that humble leaders “inspire close teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams.” It even reported that one HR consulting firm is planning to introduce an assessment to identify personality traits that include “sincerity, modesty, fairness, truthfulness, and unpretentiousness,” inspired in part by what two psychology professors call the H Factor (“a combination of honesty and humility.”) This celebration of humility sounds great, and it is, but it flies in the face of daily headlines in the Journal and the realities of our business and political cultures. Exactly no one would use the word “humble” to describe the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Tesla CEO Elon Musk may be the most visible, influential, high-impact leader in Silicon Valley, yet it’s hard to imagine anyone with less “modesty” or “unpretentiousness.” In sports, Jerry Jones, the brash owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the world’s most valuable athletic franchise, never misses an opportunity to talk a big game, even though his team has not won a big game in decades. All of which raises an obvious question: If humility is so important, why are so many leaders today, especially our most famous leaders, so arrogant? Or, to flip the question around: In the face of so much evidence that humble leaders do, in fact, outperform arrogant leaders, why is it so hard for leaders at every level to check their egos at the office door? With all due modesty, I’d offer a few answers to these vexing questions. For one thing, too many leaders think they can’t be humble and ambitious at the same time. One of the great benefits of becoming CEO of a company, head of a business unit, or leader of a team, the prevailing logic goes, is that you’re finally in charge of making things happen and delivering results. Edgar Schein, professor emeritus at MIT Sloan School of Management, and an expert on leadership and culture, once asked a group of his students what it means to be promoted to the rank of manager. “They said without hesitation, ‘It means I can now tell others what to do.’” Those are the roots of the know-it-all style of leadership. “Deep down, many of us believe that if you are not winning, you are losing,” Schein warns. The “tacit assumption” among executives “is that life is fundamentally and always a competition” — between companies, but also between individuals within companies. That’s not exactly a mindset that recognizes the virtues of humility. In reality, of course, humility and ambition need not be at odds. Indeed, humility in the service of ambition is the most effective and sustainable mindset for leaders who aspire to do big things in a world filled with huge unknowns. Years ago, a group of HR professionals at IBM embraced a term to capture this mindset. The most effective leaders, they argued, exuded a sense of “humbition,” which they defined as “one part humility and one part ambition.” We “notice that by far the lion’s share of world-changing luminaries are humble people,” they wrote. “They focus on the work, not themselves. They seek success — they are ambitious — but they are humbled when it arrives…They feel lucky, not all-powerful.” There’s another big reason why it’s so hard for leaders to be humble, and it’s related to the first. Humility can feel soft at a time when problems are hard; it can make leaders appear vulnerable when people are looking for answers and reassurances. Of course, that’s precisely its virtue: The most effective business leaders don’t pretend to have all the answers; the world is just too complicated for that. They understand that their job is to get the best ideas from the right people, whomever and wherever those people may be. Here too, Edgar Schein offers helpful insights. In a lovely book called Humble Inquiry, in which he explores “the gentle art of asking instead of telling,” Schein identifies three different forms of humility. The first, “the humility that we feel around elders and dignitaries,” is a basic part of social life. The second, “the humility that we feel in the presence of those who awe us with their achievements,” is a standard part of professional life. It’s the third form of humility, which he calls “here-and-now humility,” that is the most rarely observed in business, and the most relevant for leaders who truly want to achieve big things. What is here-and-now humility? It’s “how I feel when I am dependent on you,” Schein explains. “My status is inferior to yours at this moment because you know something or can do something that I need in order to accomplish some task or goal… I have to be humble because I am temporarily dependent on you. [But] I also have a choice. I can either not commit to tasks that make me dependent on others, or I can deny the dependency, avoid feeling humble, fail to get what I need, and, thereby, fail to accomplish the task or unwittingly sabotage it. Unfortunately people often would rather fail than to admit their dependence on someone else.” We live in a world where ego gets attention but modesty gets results. Where arrogance makes headlines but humility makes a difference. Which means that all of us, as leaders or aspiring leaders, face questions of our own: Are we confident enough to stay humble? Are we strong enough to admit we don’t have all the answers? Here’s hoping we reach the right answers.
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Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Men Can Become Better Allies to Women
HIROKAZU JIKE/Getty Images Women’s conferences and employee resource groups (ERGs) are increasingly inviting men to attend. By creating events aimed at men, they hope to include men in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, and make organizational diversity efforts more successful. The evidence shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress — compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged. But today, too many organizations still miss the mark on gender equity efforts by focusing gender initiatives solely on changing women — from the way they network to the way the lead. Individualistic approaches to solving gender inequities overlook systemic structural causes and reinforce the perception that these are women’s issues — effectively telling men they don’t need to be involved. Without the avid support of men, often the most powerful stakeholders in most large corporations, significant progress toward ending gender disparities is unlikely. What’s at stake? A study by McKinsey projects that in a “full potential” scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men, $28 trillion dollars (26%) would be added to the annual global GDP when compared to the current business-as-usual scenario. But including men in diversity efforts is not as simple as inviting them to a gender-equity event. These efforts often reveal reluctance, if not palpable anxiety among targeted men. Sexism is a system, and while it’s a system that privileges men, it also polices male behavior. Understanding that is important to changing the system. Challenges Facing Male Allies We define male allies as members of an advantaged group committed to building relationships with women, expressing as little sexism in their own behavior as possible, understanding the social privilege conferred by their gender, and demonstrating active efforts to address gender inequities at work and in society. Debra Meyerson and Megan Tompkins refer to such men as tempered radicals — they are catalysts for change, challenging organizational structures that disadvantage women while remaining committed to the success of the organization. While some research has shown that white men face no penalty for promoting diversity, other studies suggest that there can be a cost to acting as an ally. First, there’s the dreaded wimp penalty. New research reveals that men perceived as less self-promoting and more collaborative and power-sharing are evaluated by both men and women as less competent (and, not incidentally, less masculine). Egalitarian men can feel the backlash effects of stigma-by-association — perceived as being similar to women by advocating for them. This is more likely in organizations where people endorse a zero-sum perspective on gender equality. Backlash against male allies is a real possibility. Self-professed male allies can also face criticism from the women they try to ally with. As two men who write and speak about cross-gender allyship and mentorship, we’ve noticed occasional backlash from women when dudes show up at women’s events. At one recent conference for women in technology, a Bingo card was circulated by women in the audience just before a panel composed of men on the topic of male allyship. The — seemingly cynical — objective? To identify as many worn-out clichés and defensive phrases men often utter in these contexts as possible. Some eye-rolling favorites included: “I’m a feminist; We’re all in this together; My mother taught me to respect women; and, I saw the light after the birth of my daughter!” Understandably, many women are initially skeptical about efforts to include men in women’s conferences and ERGs. First, these gatherings have historically offered women a sense of community and camaraderie, a safe space for sharing experiences and formulating strategies for achieving equality in the workplace. This relational community is inestimably important and men need to respect it. Second, sub-tracks and breakout sessions for men at women’s events are often given labels such as Manbassador or Male Champion, terrific for drawing men in, but in truth, rather grandiose to the ears of women who may sigh and ask, “Really dude? We have to call you a champion just to get you to be fair, respectful, and inclusive?” This Pedestal Effect in which men are given special treatment and shout outs for even small acts of gender equality is understandably grating for women who for years have done the emotional labor and carried the load for equality with nary a man in sight. And there is always the risk that over-focusing on men in women’s events may ultimately strengthen rather than dismantle the gender hierarchy status quo. Third, there is the problem of the Fake Male Feminist. You know this guy. He slings on feminism like a superhero cape when his boss is watching, to impress — or worse, seduce — women, or to avoid being labeled as sexist despite his pattern of sexist behavior. Finally, there is the sincere but utterly naïve, ill-informed, or low-EQ man who’s notion of allyship amounts to rescuing, mansplaining, or even attempting to become the spokesman for women in the organization. As Martin Luther King once reflected, shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. When aspiring male allies fail to understand the critical importance of partnering and collaborating with humility, there is a real risk that they may ultimately undermine women’s initiatives by attempting to dominate them. The Allies Male Allies Need Women who want to dismantle sexist systems will be well-served by appreciating the wide variation among male allies and the factors most likely to help them get better at collaborating with women to shrink gender disparities. Diversity consultant Jennifer Brown recognizes that not all male allies are equally evolved. She frames allyship on a continuum, ranging from apathetic (clueless and disinterested regarding gender issues) to aware (has some grasp of the issues but not at all active or engaged in addressing them) to active (well-informed and willing to engage in gender equity efforts, but only when asked) to advocate (routinely and proactively champions gender inclusion). Although we might not waste our time recruiting apathetic men to gender-inclusion events, we’re delighted to get in a room with the other three varieties, taking a shot at spurring their internal motivation and sharpening their ally skillset. We just want them in the fight! The evidence is in. The more positive interaction men have with women in professional settings, the less prejudice and exclusion they tend to demonstrate. Organizers of women’s initiatives who wish to engage male allies should also consider recent research on psychological standing (a perception of legitimacy as an ally to women). Evidence reveals that gender-parity efforts are most effective when men believe they have a dignified and important role to play, that transformation in the workplace is something they can share in. The motivation for this role is often tied to personal examples and a sense of fairness and justice. Moreover, when allies feel accepted by the disadvantaged group they endeavor to support, their internal motivation to participate is bolstered. If men feel like unicorns, met by raised eyebrows when they muster the wherewithal to attend a manbassador track in a women’s conference, gender alliance efforts falter. How Men Can Be Better Allies Here are some with tangible recommendations for men who are invited to participate in women’s conferences or other initiatives as allies for gender equality in the workplace. These are best practices for men who want to be better collaborators with women. First, just listen! Consultant Chuck Shelton reminds men that listening to women’s voices in a way that inspires trust and respect is a fundamental relationship promise you must make, and then keep, with women who invite you to participate around equity. Generous, world-class listening requires focus, sincerity, empathy, refusal to interrupt, and genuine valuing of both her experience and her willingness to share it with you. Respect the space. Women’s conferences and ERGs are often one outgrowth of experiences of exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination. Many of these experiences are painful. Large events and local resource groups have afforded women a powerful platform for sharing experiences, providing support, and strategizing equity initiatives. Tread respectfully into these spaces and before you utter a word, revisit the recommendation above. Remember, it’s not about you. Ask women how you can amplify, not replace or usurp existing gender parity efforts. A large dose of gender humility will help here. Decades of research on prosocial (helpful) behavior reveals a stark gender difference in how it is expressed. While women often express helpfulness communally and relationally, men show helpful intentions through action-oriented behaviors. Sometimes, we need to rein this in. Refrain from taking center stage, speaking for women, or mansplaining how women should approach gender equity efforts. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Developing psychological standing requires a commitment to learning and advocating for gender equity. Learning about the professional challenges of women may produce feelings of self-shame or self-blame that cause anxiety. The solution is more interaction and learning, not less. Engage in supportive partnerships with women. The best cross-gender ally relationships are reciprocal, and mutually growth-enhancing. Share your social capital (influence, information, knowledge, and organizational resources) with women’s groups but ask them — don’t assume — how you can best support their efforts. Remember the two parts to allyship. Keep in mind that committing to express as little sexism as possible in your interactions with women is the easy part of allyship. The hard part requires you to take informed action. Use your experience in women’s events and initiatives to learn how you can best become a public ally for social justice around gender. When the time comes, this may require you to upset the status quo.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Helping Health Care Workers Avoid Burnout
PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images To make progress against knotty problems, break them down — dissect the causes and analyze their impact on different groups. That analysis inevitably leads away from dubious “magic bullet” solutions and toward multiple, targeted interventions that are more likely to be effective. The measures and data to perform this type of analysis are now becoming available for burnout, a problem that is growing in all sectors, but is particularly challenging in health care. To better understand the sources of burnout and resilience against it, we analyzed data for two characteristics associated with burnout for more than 80,000 health care personnel from 40 healthcare systems nationwide (approximately 19,000 nurses, 5,000 physicians and 60,000 non-nurse/MD personnel). The first of these characteristics, “activation,” is the extent to which a person is motivated by his or her work and feels it is meaningful. The second, “decompression,” is the degree to which one can withdraw, recharge and enjoy life outside of work. Our research shows how activation and decompression vary among these different groups, and how they relate to resilience against burnout in each. To study these issues, we developed and validated an eight-question measure of resilience, with four questions each that gauge the degree of activation and decompression. To measure activation, respondents indicate their level of agreement on a 5-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) with these statements: The work I do makes a real difference; My work is meaningful; I care for all patients/clients equally even when it is difficult; I see every patient as an individual person with specific needs. To measure decompression, subjects respond to the statements: I rarely lose sleep over work issues; I am able to free my mind from work when I am away from it; I can enjoy my personal time without focusing on work matters; I am able to disconnect from work communications during my free time. The greater a person’s agreement with these statements (that is, the higher their score), the more resilience they currently exhibit in the face of stress, and the more likely they will be resistant to burnout. (Resilience is conceptualized here as a moderator of the growing stress faced by the healthcare workforce. As such, low score on gauges of decompression and activation are meant to serve as flags that workplace stress has become overwhelming rather than as indications of a particular individual’s ability or strength in coping.) We found the doctors, nurses, and non-nurse/MD personnel all had the same average level of activation (4.5), but physicians had lower decompression scores, showing they were less able than others to withdraw and recharge. We also found that decompression and activation are moderately correlated: People who are better able to decompress are also somewhat more likely to feel activated in their work. Decompression, Activation, and Engagement Decompression and activation are both related to feelings and behaviors that are traditionally used to measure engagement in health care workforces, specifically being satisfied as an employee, recommending the organization as a good place to work or get care, and being proud of the organization. However, the patterns of relationships vary when comparing correlations among these variables in nurses, physicians and the rest of the healthcare workforce. For the non-nurse, non-physician group, activation was more strongly correlated with engagement than decompression was. Additionally, the correlations between activation and engagement measures were somewhat greater for this group than for either nurses or physicians. This suggests that for non-nurse/MD personnel the feeling of activation — finding meaning in their work — is even more closely related to their overall engagement than it is for doctors and nurses. Many of these personnel could have built a career in another industry, but they have chosen healthcare. This underscores how important it is for this group to feel tied to the mission of care, for their own well being. Insight Center The Future of Health Care Sponsored by Medtronic Creating better outcomes at reduced cost. This pattern was distinct from what we saw for nurse and physician respondents. For these clinicians, the relative importance of activation and decompression depends on which kind of engagement outcome is being addressed. Decompression was more strongly correlated with how nurses and physicians felt about their role as employees in an organization (Overall, I am a satisfied employee; I would recommend this organization as a good place to work). In contrast, activation was more strongly correlated than decompression with how these clinicians feel about the organization’s performance (I would recommend this organization to family and friends who needed care; I am proud to tell people I work for this organization). The impact of decompression on engagement was strongest for the nursing group. Taken together, these findings suggest that while meaning in work is of great importance to everyone in health care, clinicians’ ability to disconnect from work and recharge may be even more critical than it is for others to how they experience their work environment and how they feel as employees. The science of studying burnout and resilience is young, but our experience suggests that measuring decompression and activation can enrich our understanding of the multiple relevant dynamics and support an array of tailored interventions. While everyone would surely benefit from the ability to decompress more, these analyses suggest that clinicians, and especially nurses, are likely to benefit from programs that enhance their ability to decompress. More importantly, organizations should direct resources and efforts to reducing the stresses that make it challenging for clinicians to decompress. For example, if someone indicates that he or she is losing sleep over work issues (one measure of trouble decompressing), the solution is not simply for them to get more sleep, but to ask, “What is going on in this work environment that is causing people to lose sleep? What can be done to improve that situation? How can we help staff to cope with these stressors as we work to reduce them?” Similarly, if someone indicates that they are unable to disconnect from work communications during free time, leadership must ask why and seek ways to address the sources of the problem. Do they simply not have adequate time to address the demands of their roles during work? Or might they feel there will be some negative consequence for failing to remain connected 24/7? While physicians, nurses, and other staff showed equivalent levels of activation in our study, all are sure to benefit from initiatives that increase the meaning that they find in their work. But because the correlation between engagement and activation is greatest among the non-MD/nurse workforce, this critical group of employees in particular might benefit from reminders that their efforts are even more important to patient care than they may think — opening up a potential strategy for improving organizational culture that has been largely overlooked up to now.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Stop Complaining About Your Colleagues Behind Their Backs
ICHIRO/Getty Images In my coaching work with leaders and teams, I often ask my clients whether they engage in workplace gossip. More often than not, they respond, “of course not!” with a look on their faces that indicates that they are insulted to have been asked such a question. But when I ask them whether they have ever participated in a “confirmation expedition” — whereby they 1) ask a colleague to confirm their own negative or challenging experience with a third colleague who is not present, or 2) welcome a similar line of confirmation inquiry from another colleague about a third colleague who is not present, most admit that this is, in fact, a regular part of their daily work life. While leaders and teams might consider this behavior to be innocent “blowing off steam” or the more strategic “confirming performance data,” I consider it a form of workplace gossip. You and Your Team Series Office Politics Make Your Enemies Your Allies Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap Why We Fight at Work Annie McKee How to Manage a Toxic Employee Amy Gallo But it’s not just me. Authors Nancy Kurland and Lisa Hope Pelled, in their research paper, Passing the Word: Toward a Model of Gossip and Power in the Workplace, define gossip as: “informal and evaluative talk in an organization, usually among no more than a few individuals, about another member of that organization who is not present.” When you think about how often your workplace conversations are 1) informal (“I’m just hanging out in Linda’s office”); 2) evaluative (“discussing how difficult it is to get a timely response from Doug in Accounting”); 3) among no more than a few individuals (“…and Marci’s here too.”); and 4) about another member of that organization who is not present (“Doug’s at his desk, of course!”), you might start to realize how often you’re engaging in gossip, and contributing to gossip’s damaging effects. Like what? Like the erosion of trust, hurt feelings, decreased morale, damaged reputations, reduced personal and professional credibility, increased anxiety, divisiveness, and attrition. Despite the high costs of gossip, the drive to engage in it is strong. Dr. Peggy Drexler, research psychologist and professor of psychology at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College writes that “anthropologists say that throughout human history, gossip has been a way to bond with others — even a tool to isolate those who aren’t supporting the group.” Talking with one or more coworkers about how hard it is to get Doug in Accounting to give a timely response creates a feeling of connection with everyone else who is struggling with Doug’s lack of responsiveness. Those similarly frustrated by Doug treat one another with in-group favoritism, a common and central aspect of human behavior, whereby people act more pro-socially towards members of their own group relative to those outside their group. Gossip is also a means of venting for those who are reluctant to give direct feedback to or have difficult conversations with their colleagues. As I cited in my HBR article, When to Skip a Difficult Conversation, “In a 2013 Globis survey of more than 200 professionals on the topic of difficult conversations…80% of respondents reported that these conversations were a part of their job, [but] more than half indicated that they didn’t feel like they had adequate training on how to conduct them effectively.” By talking to anyone, everyone, or even one person about another colleague who isn’t there to hear the feedback, provide his or her perspective, and engage in joint problem solving, you are undermining the benefits of an open, honest relationship and a feedback-rich culture. Finally, we use gossip as a way to collect evidence that confirms our beliefs, satisfying our confirmation bias — the tendency to look for information that confirms what we already believe to be true. By checking in with a coworker about whether she, too, experiences Doug as slow to respond, we get confirmation for our existing beliefs, and the satisfaction that comes from “being right” about Doug. And as Judith Glaser explains in her article, Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right, the flood of adrenaline and dopamine that accompanies feeling right can become downright addictive. Considering how satisfying it is to be right, how tempted we are to avoid giving direct feedback and having difficult conversations, and how often we seek confirmation for what we already believe, it can be hard to break the habit of engaging in gossip — as the instigator or the recipient. Nevertheless, there are several strategies to help you and your team stop engaging in something so wrong that feels so right: 1) Name it, then pivot. First, call gossip “gossip” to stop it in its tracks. If you are engaging in “informal and evaluative talk in an organization, usually among no more than a few individuals, about another member of that organization who is not present,” — especially if the aim is to confirm your experience rather than get constructive solutions — then you are participating in gossip. If you call someone on it, most people will step back at hearing a colleague say, “This sounds like gossip. Is that what you intended?” Second, pivot the conversation by asking, “How can I help you get a better outcome?” Only engage in coaching, brainstorming, and problem-solving conversations — not in problem-confirming ones. 2) Ask yourself or others why you need someone else’s confirmation about a behavior that you’re noticing in a third person. If it’s to justify your feelings, to confirm that you’re right, or to gain support for your point of view, don’t bring someone else into the conversation. If it’s to understand how you might be contributing to the dynamic or problem, to brainstorm helpful solutions, or to go on record to make a formal complaint for further investigation, then go for it. 3) Let people know that you have a policy of “if you have a problem with me, please tell me first.” Adopt the “tell them first” policy with your colleagues, and, when someone approaches you with gossip about someone else, ask “Have you already told her?” to remind them of this policy. 4) Create a feedback-rich environment around you. The more you normalize feedback — both positive and negative, and both giving and receiving — the less likely people will be to look for alternative means to express their frustrations and concerns. Rather than “saving” feedback for annual performance reviews, make discussions about what someone did well, and what he or she could do differently, a part of every supervision meeting or project debrief. And make sure to give people positive feedback when they offer particularly useful feedback — even if it’s hard to hear. Gossip, even by any other name, is still a destructive communication strategy that negatively impacts individuals, teams and the whole organization. By stopping it in its tracks, choosing healthier and more helpful methods of communicating what’s not working, and engaging in collaborative problem-solving, relationships and organizations can flourish.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Startups Are More Vulnerable to Fraud. Here’s Why.
Billy Currie Photography/Getty Images In the wake of the Theranos scandal, some commentators have asked whether entrepreneurial companies are particularly inclined to deception and downright fraud. Startups are often focused on disrupting existing markets, occasionally bending the rules while doing so. Their employees need to overcome demanding challenges, including the need to draft processes and responsibilities from scratch. In short, countless firms face strong pressures and tempting incentives to deceive. But are they also more likely to be deceived themselves? After all, they have to forge business relations with potential customers, suppliers, and investors, all of whom are considerably more powerful and sophisticated than the startup. Recently, our team interviewed 40 founders and venture capitalists and conducted two experiments to uncover whether startups, compared to more mature firms, are more likely to be the victims of fraud. In our experiments, performed with Christian Schlereth at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Craig R. Carter at Arizona State University, we simulated a negotiation episode between two firms. The buying firm, a tablet manufacturer, was interested in procuring an innovative hard disk drive model. We recruited 250 experienced purchasing and sales managers and allocated them between the experiments. In one, participants were sellers for the hard disk maker. In the other, participants were buyers for the tablet manufacturer. We divided each study’s sample into three sub-groups: We informed the first group that the firm they were negotiating with (that is, their counterpart’s employer) was a startup. The second group was negotiating with a mature firm. The third group did not receive any information regarding firm age (our control condition). During each experiment, participants first read a short case describing the negotiation parameters, the negotiators’ role, and their task (experimental vignette methodology). Subsequently, they received a message from their negotiation counterpart (which had actually been written by us; all participants within a given study received exactly the same message) and needed to select one out of several response options. Among these options was a non-deceptive message as well as deceptive ones. Roughly 50% of the participants negotiating with a mature firm deceived. A similar proportion of participants in the control condition did the same. But when we told participants that their counterpart was working for a startup these numbers skyrocketed. Two thirds of the buyers and almost three in four sellers opted to deceive the startup. In order to help startups to guard themselves against deception, we set out to identify the causes of this spike in deceptive behavior. Did the notion of startups as rule-breaking entities, promoted by incidents such as the Theranos fallout, encourage participants to deceive them? This effect was indeed visible in our data, but played only a minor role. Simultaneously, we asked participants how experienced they perceived their negotiation counterpart to be, and found a striking difference. Albeit the (scripted) counterpart behaved in exactly the same manner towards every participant, participants believed that the counterpart was less experienced when she was working for a startup. In other words, participants used the newness of the counterpart’s employer as proxy for the counterpart’s experience – and adapted their behavior accordingly. This prejudice puts startups at a considerable disadvantage. In short, highlighting firm newness is a signaling strategy that can backfire, as others subconsciously regard such a message as invitation to deceive. Instead, we recommend that employees of startups make an extra effort to demonstrate expertise. But how best to do this? Many startups attempt to hire renowned industry experts to gain legitimacy. Such hiring decisions lead to positive legitimacy spillovers from the new hire to the startup. However, they also cause negative spillover effects: Due to the startup’s lack of legitimacy, the new hire’s personal legitimacy, as perceived by others, suffers. It gradually recovers as the startup strives to become a fully established industry player. We also believe that contractual safeguards should be used by startups whenever possible. Compared to more mature firms, the pool of potential business partners is considerably smaller for startups. Thus, many cannot afford to turn down offers even when they are not fully convinced of the veracity of their partner’s statements and promises. In such situations, contingent contracts and other contractual safeguards can serve as remedies. Startups rightly face increased scrutiny when negotiating with partners because of their perceived “fake-it-till-you-make-it” ethos, especially in the light of several recent high-profile scandals. But our research suggests that, if there is to be fraud during a negotiation, it is new companies that are more likely to be the mark—and should they take steps to safeguard themselves accordingly.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
Help Your Team Understand What Data Is and Isn’t Good For
John Lund/Getty Images Leaders today increasingly turn to big data and advanced analytics in hopes of solving their most pressing problems, whether it’s a drop-off of repeat customers, a shift in consumption patterns, or an attempt to reach new markets. The prevailing thought is that more data is better, especially given advancements in tools and technologies such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. But when it comes to uncovering the motivations and rationale behind individual behaviors within a social system, data can only do so much. It can guide the discovery of a problem, but it won’t determine the solution. In other words, data analytics can tell you what is happening, but it will rarely tell you why. To effectively bring together the what and the why — a problem and its cause, in order to find a probable solution — leaders need to combine the advanced capabilities of big data and analytics with tried-and-true qualitative approaches such as interviewing groups of individuals, conducting focus groups, and in-depth observation. In my conversations with business leaders about how they use data analytics, a primary focus is on technical, large-scale systems. This is where big data and analytics can really shine, in applications such as predictive maintenance. Industrial companies, from railroads to oilfields, use predictive analytics to ensure smooth operations; rather than wait for a mechanical breakdown to occur, predictive maintenance prevents problems and avoids downtime. Insight Center Scaling Your Team’s Data Skills Sponsored by Splunk Help your employees be more data-savvy. What works with locomotives and oil rigs, however, can be far less effective when it comes to influencing people’s behaviors. With social systems and the behaviors generated by large groups of individuals — who does what and under what conditions — it is far harder to identify solutions to problems. This points to the shortcoming of using data analytics alone for solving problems that arise from individual behavior. That’s not to say big data and analytics don’t play an important part. Rather, by understanding the strengths and limitations of using big data in this way, leaders can employ the most effective strategies for identifying the what and why of a problem, and how to solve it — and can help their teams learn to do the same. Here are five important considerations that everyone who works with big data needs to understand: Data can determine the “what” of a problem: Data analysis is helpful in determining patterns of behavior, both positive and negative — for example, the success of an organization or enterprise in motivating people to engage in certain activities. Analyses may reveal, for instance, that a certain type of customer is more or less likely to buy a particular product or renew a subscription or membership. Sophisticated data analytics can reveal patterns among large groups and smaller subgroups. Data rarely reveal the “why”: In the aggregate, individual behaviors show up in the data, revealing patterns among certain demographics and groups. But just because data show, say, what the typical 33-year-old women making less than $100,000 a year who has children is likely to do or not do, that won’t reveal the why. Data may prompt people to make assumptions; for example, that a price point was too high for a particular customer, or that a subscription service related to a leisure activity (e.g., a gym membership) no longer appeals to a consumer who has time constraints. Assumptions also can be made about root causes of behaviors, such as why millennials prefer companies that prioritize social impact or why particular subgroup of employees underperform. Assumptions, though, are only guesses about the rationale of others’ behaviors, not a reliable basis for determining the best solution to address a problem. The “why” needs a qualitative approach: Whether the social group involves current customers, potential customers, vendors, or any other population, the only way to discover the “why” is to engage with them in qualitative research such as interviews, focus groups, and observation. The result is an iterative process that starts with the “who” and the “what,” which the data can reveal, and proceeds to the next step of diagnosing the “why,” which the data cannot typically reveal. In the past, companies often hired experts in qualitative research to help determine how and why customers use particular products or gravitated to certain brands. Today, though, many business leaders try to use big data and analytics to automate the entire process. But the shortcomings of using data for diagnostics of social behaviors are quickly revealed. For example, social media analytics can identify influencers for well-defined customer segments. But the real challenge is knowing why customers are drawn to those influencers in order to craft effective strategies to entice customers to buy more or become brand advocates themselves. You need to consider temporal and other factors: Other factors also influence behavior, making solutions more difficult to find and less likely to remain effective over time. For example, several years ago, an auto club discovered that motorists who had longer-than-average wait times by the side of the road were less likely to renew their subscriptions. Based on that data, the company emphasized the need to reduce wait times. Since then, the proliferation of smartphones and other devices have given people ways to occupy themselves, altering their perception of how long they’re waiting. As a result, focusing on wait time alone today (as opposed to other factors such as pricing and quality) has proved to be less effective in reducing churn among auto club members. You need rigorous testing to find the right solution: With big data analysis and smaller-scale qualitative research combined, organizations can gain deeper insights into both problems and their causes, which can then help inform solutions that are likely to produce a desired result. The best way to know the effectiveness of a solution is to conduct randomized testing using two similar groups: one that is offered the solution and one that is not. Data analysis from this experimentation will reveal whether the solution actually solves the problem. Although randomized experiments can be expensive and complex, the data analysis involved brings the process full circle, and often pays for itself in terms of the return on investment. Data analytics are most effective as part of an overall process to identify, explore, and test, but are not the only tool for the task. Solving social behaviors still requires small-scale qualitative exploration to engage people and learn more about what’s truly motivating the behaviors that show up in the data.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Peer Coaching Can Make Work Less Lonely
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images A near-constant stream of business and scientific news reminds us that 50% of Americans are lonely. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s powerful HBR article notes that half of CEOs suffer from loneliness. In addition to its personal toll, there is also an economic cost: workplace loneliness causes burnout, affects job satisfaction, and lowers both performance and retention. It also increases health care costs. The Causes of Loneliness at Work Loneliness is a subjective feeling of isolation. Number of coworker interactions and whether or not you work remotely are not causal factors. What matters is the quality and meaningfulness of relationships. It’s common for employees to feel lonely while surrounded by colleagues with whom they don’t genuinely connect. Indeed, do your colleagues see the real you or just a carefully managed, work-safe persona — a brilliant disguise? If the latter, then you’re likely to suffering some degree of loneliness. Loneliness isn’t usually a failure of the employee but is, rather, a systemic cultural issue. Humans have a need to feel valued by the people around them at work, at home, and in the community. Yet many people keep work relationships at a distance because that’s what they believe is expected. Unless employers demonstrate they value basic human connections at work, it is difficult to change the common gospel that who you are is not who you should be in the office. Psychological safety — the sense that we can be free to be ourselves without fear of retribution — doesn’t exist when our managers don’t model vulnerability, a generator of high-quality connections, because they worry it might undermine their authority. Cultural norms that discourage genuine relationships lead to loneliness. How Peer Coaching Can Help Peer coaching is about cultivating a network of allies that can provide mutual support in creating positive change to improve performance. In addition to its many benefits for learning, these relationships address the roots of loneliness at work. On the surface, peer coaching might look like low-budget professional coaching. Employees gain new perspectives on their issues and opportunities, as well as accountability partners to improve follow-through on creating change, but without paying professional coaching fees. But it’s much more than that. When organizations invest in peer coaching systems they signal a cultural shift that normalizes talking candidly about life with colleagues. Employees gain feelings of connection, trust increases, and individuals develop insights into their own problems through helping others. Peer coaching provides opportunities for one-on-one connection and demonstrates that our inner lives are welcome in the workplace. Let’s explain a bit further three of the ways it helps: Creates a culture that values connection. People develop symptoms of loneliness when they feel isolated, regardless of how much actual social support is available to them. Psychological problems increase when people have little hope for more connection in the future. An employer’s commitment to increasing connections among employees can reduce loneliness even before any coaching begins simply through the signals such initiatives convey. This is especially relevant for younger employees; 71% of millennials want their coworkers to be like a second family. When employers help employees build peer-to-peer coaching networks, it creates a culture of connection. Employees experience being vulnerable with coworkers and begin to view lowering their walls as an asset, not a liability. They see the workplace as a source of personal nourishment. Loneliness dissipates when we feel we are among people engaged in helping each other. As one of our clients said after a peer coaching exchange, “Just having someone who was truly interested in helping me was an incredibly powerful experience.” Replaces social snacking with meaningful dialogue. Communicating mostly over email or chat and then turning to social media on breaks — that’s social snacking, which gives the illusion of connection without actual nourishment. What matters is not how often we interact, but whether our interactions are meaningful. Peer coaching replaces snacking with satisfying meals of real talk. Those at the table are revealing themselves and accepting others as they are. The reciprocal nature of peer coaching relationships, in which employees take turns talking about work in the context of their whole lives, is a catalyst for deep mutual understanding. By providing opportunities for individuals to talk — without pressure to deliver or impress — peer coaching can reduce loneliness more effectively than staged social events in which people might be laughing and drinking but still hiding behind a mask they’d rather remove. Increases psychological safety. When researchers recently asked Americans “How many confidants do you have?” the most common response was “zero,” compared to a modal response of “three” just two decades earlier. Research shows that people who are lonely, compared to those who are not, are less able to make new connections. Because peer coaching involves repeated conversations with consistent partners, it is an effective method of creating confidants that persist over time. One of our clients said, “I feel like I gained three new family members, people who are supportive and non-judgmental.” Coaching focuses on listening and asking questions. Because participants in peer-to-peer coaching exchanges see their coaches as focused first and foremost on gaining understanding of what’s on the inside, these relationships produce feelings of psychological safety. Once you are comfortable with the idea of doing something to deepen relationships at work, set up a simple method for two people to try out a peer-to-peer coaching exchange following these basic guidelines. Each pair can take turns coaching each other for 20 minutes each. In essence: Listen and don’t try to fix problems. Start with coaching sessions over lunch; eating together increases trust and is a natural way to schedule a one-on-one that isn’t focused on specific work tasks. Be sure to check in on what people learn about how to be effective as coaches and as clients in their dialogues and use that knowledge to make needed adjustments. Peer coaching can be effective in fighting loneliness through opt-in one-on-one dialogues where the work of creating stronger human connections can happen.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How to Decide Which Data Science Projects to Pursue
DNY59/Getty Images In 2018, every organization has a data strategy. But what makes a great one? We all know what failure looks like. Resources are invested, teams are formed, time goes by — but nothing comes of it. No one can necessarily say why; it’s always Someone Else’s Fault. It’s harder to tell the difference between a modest success and excellence. Indeed, in data science they can they look very similar for perhaps a year. After several years, though, an excellent strategy will yield orders of magnitude more valuable results. Both mediocre and excellent strategies begin with a series of experiments and investments leading to data projects. After a few years, some of these projects work out and are on their way to production. In the mediocre strategy, one or two of these projects may even have a clear ROI for the business. Typically, these projects will be some kind of automation for cost savings, or applying machine learning to an existing process to improve its efficiency or performance. This looks a lot like success, and it may suffice, but it’s missing out on the unique advantages of an excellent data strategy. In an excellent strategy, more data projects have worked out, and they were surprisingly cost-effective to develop. Further, the process of building the first few projects inspires new project ideas. In an excellent strategy, the projects will include automation and efficiency and performance improvements, but they will also include projects and ideas for new revenue generation and entirely new businesses driven by your unique data assets. The data teams work well together, build on each other’s work, and collaborate smoothly with their business partners. There’s a clear vision of what the machine-learning driven future of the business can look like, and everyone is working together to achieve it. Building an Excellent Data Strategy Crafting a data strategy requires many parties at the table, including data experts, technology leadership, and business and subject-matter experts. It also requires leadership support that goes beyond just wanting to check off a “machine learning” box. Here’s how most companies decide which data projects to pursue, which alone is a recipe for the mediocre data strategy. Management identifies a set of projects it would like to see built and creates the ubiquitous prioritization scatterplot: one axis represents a given project’s value to the business and the other axis represents its estimated complexity or cost of development. Each project is given a spot on the chart, and management allocates the company’s limited resources to the projects that they believe will cost the least and have the highest business value. This is not wrong, but it is also not optimal. An excellent data strategy moves beyond a straightforward evaluation of each project in isolation to consider a few additional dimensions. First, an excellent data strategy includes a well-coordinated organizational core. It’s built on a centralized technology investment and well-selected and coordinated defaults for the architecture of data applications. This centralization of defaults allows for each application to make different decisions if necessary while maintaining maximum compatibility across the organization and flexibility over time by default. For example, one global media company I worked with had grown dramatically through acquisitions. Each business line had a different technology stack and independent IT group, leading to challenges integrating data that already existed, and different architectures for all future investments. Centralizing this practice was key to their ongoing success. Second, an excellent data strategy is specific in the short term and flexible in the long term. We know quite a lot about what the machine learning capabilities of tomorrow look like, but less about what the capabilities of next year will look like. We can only guess what will be possible in five years. Similarly, the business landscape is transforming, leading to new competition and new opportunities. Organizations that engage in five-year planning cycles will miss the opportunities that emerge in the meantime. An excellent strategy is one that is adaptable and considered to be a living document. The best strategies are strong in directional conviction, but flexible in the details. You want to know where you want to end up, but not necessarily pre-define each step you need to take to get there. Finally, an excellent data strategy takes into account one key insight: data science projects are not independent from one another. With each completed project, successful or not, you create a foundation to build later projects more easily and at lower cost. Choosing Between Data Science Projects Here’s what project selection looks like in a firm with an excellent data strategy: First, the company collects ideas. This effort should be spread as broadly as possible across the organization, at all levels. If you only see good and obvious ideas on your list, worry — that’s a sign that you are missing out on creative thinking. Once you have a large list, filter by the technical plausibility of an idea. Then, create the scatterplot described above, which evaluates each project on its relative cost/complexity and value to the business. Now it gets interesting. On your scatterplot, draw lines between potentially related projects. These connections exist where projects share data resources; or where one project may enable data collection helpful to another project; or where foundational work on one project is also foundational work on another. This approach acknowledges the realities of working on such projects, like the fact that building a precursor project makes successor projects faster and easier (even if the precursor fails). The costs of gathering data and building shared components are amortized across projects. This approach makes higher-value projects — those that would perhaps have seemed too ambitious — look less like an aggressive, expensive push forward. Instead, it reveals that such projects may indeed be more efficient and safer to proceed with than other lower-value projects that looked attractive in a naive analysis. Put differently, an excellent data strategy acknowledges that projects play off of one another, and that the costs of projects change over time in light of other projects undertaken (and new technology, as well). This allows more accurate planning and may expand the organization’s capabilities more than expected. You can revisit this planning process quarterly, which is in line with how quickly machine learning technologies are changing. We’re currently at a moment in the development of machine learning, AI, and data where the technology isn’t commoditized and it’s not entirely obvious where to invest. Companies with excellent data strategies will be more likely to choose well.
Harvard Business Review - Ideas and Advice for Leaders
How Netflix Expanded to 190 Countries in 7 Years
Fernando Trabanco Fotografía/Getty Images Netflix’s global growth is a big factor in the company’s success. By 2017 it was operating in over 190 countries, and today close to 73 million of its some 130 million subscribers are outside the U.S. In the second quarter of 2018, its international streaming revenues exceeded domestic streaming revenues for the first time. This is a remarkable achievement for a company that was only in the U.S. before 2010, and in only 50 countries by 2015. Other U.S. internet companies have scaled internationally, of course (Facebook and Google are two obvious examples). But Netflix’s globalization strategy, and many of the challenges it’s had to overcome, are unique. Netflix must secure content deals region by region, and sometimes country by country. It also must face a diverse set of national regulatory restrictions, such as those that limit what content can be made available in local markets. International subscribers, many of whom are not fluent in English, often prefer local-language programming. And many potential subscribers, accustomed to free content, remain hesitant to pay for streaming services at all. Furthermore, strong competition in streaming already exists in many countries. In France and India, for example, homegrown leaders offer local-language video content, thus depriving Netflix of first-mover advantage. In some countries, like Germany and India, rivals such as Amazon Prime were already established. Yet the majority of Prime subscribers are in the U.S., and Netflix has managed to make inroads into even those markets where Prime arrived first. Now Netflix, with its global reach, has more subscribers worldwide than all other pure streaming services combined. Netflix’s success can be attributed to two strategic moves — a three-stage expansion process into new markets and the ways it worked with those markets — which other companies looking to expand globally can use too. Netflix did not try to enter all markets at once. Rather, it carefully selected its initial adjacent markets in terms of geography and psychic distance, or perceived differences between markets. For example, its earliest international expansion, in 2010, was to Canada, which is geographically close to and shares many similarities with the United States. Netflix was thus able to develop its internationalization capabilities in locations where the challenges of “foreignness” were less acute. In doing so, the company learned how to expand and enhance its core capabilities beyond its home market. In that sense, the first phase of its globalization process was consistent with the traditional model of expansion. But from the experience and learning it gained in that process, Netflix developed the capabilities to expand into a diverse set of markets within a few years — the second phase of the process. This second phase, involving a faster and more-extensive international expansion, saw Netflix extend its footprint to some 50 countries, drawing on the lessons it learned in the first phase in order to operate in a wider variety of markets. The choice of those markets was influenced by their degree of attractiveness, such as from shared similarities, the presence of affluent consumers, and the availability of broadband internet. The second phase helped Netflix continue learning about internationalization and partnering with local stakeholders while also growing its revenue. Since this phase involved expanding into more-distant markets, it was supported by investments in content geared toward the preferences of those geographies, as well as technological investments in big data and analytics. The third phase, during which a much-accelerated pace of entry brought Netflix to 190 countries, used everything it had learned from the first two phases. It had gained expertise in the content people prefer, the marketing they respond to, and how the company needed to organize itself. Now Netflix focused on adding more languages (including for subtitles), optimizing its personalization algorithms for a global library of content, and expanding its support for a range of device, operation, and payment partnerships. Six months after entering Poland and Turkey in 2016, for example, Netflix added the local languages to its user interface, subtitles, and dubbing. As with the markets it had entered earlier, the company launched a service targeted at early adopters, and then iterated quickly to add features to attract a wider audience. Recognizing that in some parts of the world, particularly emerging and developing economies, mobile is the primary way most people access the internet, Netflix also began placing a greater emphasis on improving its mobile experience, including sign-ups, credentials and authentication, the user interface, and streaming efficiency for cellular networks. It has been developing relationships with device makers, mobile and TV operators, and internet service providers as well. Netflix has worked with, and responded to, the new markets it’s entered. The company has partnered with key local companies to forge win-win relationships. In some cases, it has joined with cell phone and cable operators to make its content available as part of their existing video-on-demand offerings. For example, when Vodafone launched a TV service for its customers in Ireland, it included a dedicated Netflix button on its remote controls. More recently, Netflix announced deals with Telefonica in Spain and Latin America and with KDDI in Japan. And while Netflix believes that “great storytelling transcends borders,” in the words of Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, the company has responded to customer preferences for local content: Currently it’s producing original content in 17 different markets. Importantly, Netflix sees such content production as not just local-for-local, but also local-for-global. In other words, it aims to have content attract an audience not only locally, where it is produced, but also more widely. As such, Netflix potentially reaps the benefits of investing in local content all around the world. To address the protracted process of signing content deals with major studios on a regional or local basis, it has increasingly pursued global licensing deals so that it can provide content across all of its markets at once. Netflix has also begun to source regionally produced content, providing a win-win for these producers, whose local content can find a global audience. The company is also applying its deep customer insight to international markets, using that knowledge to create content that appeals to a wide range of customer segments. Despite its very rapid internationalization, Netflix implemented in all markets the same customer-centric model of operations that had been key to its success in the United States. It experiments with customer usage data to determine which offerings work best. Because it operates in so many countries, Netflix is able to try different approaches in different markets. As the number of its international subscribers grows, the performance of its predictive algorithms continues to improve. Netflix has demonstrated that developing country-specific knowledge is critical for success in local markets. This knowledge needs to be both broad and deep, extending across political, institutional, regulatory, technical, cultural, customer, and competitor domains. Understanding local cultures ensured that Netflix could be sensitive to and respond to their differences. This enhanced its credibility and helped it forge smooth relationships with key stakeholders. Taken together, the elements of Netflix’s expansion strategy constitute a new approach that I call exponential globalization. It’s a carefully orchestrated cycle of expansion, executed at increasing speed, to an increasing number of countries and customers. The approach has helped the company expand far more quickly than competitors. Going forward, Netflix will face increasing competition not only from other global players such as Amazon Prime but also from new entrants and regional or local players. In that regard, it will have to continue to expand its blending of global and regional content. For a variety of market and technological factors, including the absence of high-speed broadband and a very low level of internet penetration in many parts of the world, exponential globalization was infeasible until a few years ago. With the growth of the internet in general, including on phones, tablets, and smart TVs, Netflix has demonstrated that this strategy is now a viable option. But it requires a mastery of local contexts, including the ability to acquire local knowledge and to demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness. With the increasing prevalence of winner-take-all markets, companies operating in such markets will need to pursue an internationalization strategy similar to Netflix’s. And when it comes to Netflix’s next stage of growth, and how it will respond to new challengers, the sequel appears likely to be as captivating as the original.
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