The Link Between Quietness And Productivity Some of you may have tried to reach me this morning and found that I was unavailable. That’s because I was knee high in muck with my husband and some friends. We were out having what I call clamming wars, here on Cape Cod. I have to admit, my team was quite vocal everytime we scored a clam, which by my count was many. The other team raked for clams quietly in the distance. Sometimes we forget that the most productive people in an organization aren’t the ones who make the most noise. Here are some reasons I think this is so. Being quiet strengthens focus. Being quiet calms others. Being quiet conveys confidence. Being quiet means you think before you speak. Being quiet gives you the space to dig deep. The next time you evaluate team performance, be sure to give credit where credit is due. Guest contributor Roberta Chinsky Matuson is an internationally recognized expert on increasing profitability by maximizing employee contribution. [Image: Flickr user Benson Kua]
Mad about Leadership Barbara Kellerman has every right to be mad as hell. Indeed, as you’ll see below, she is not being the least bit intemperate when she claims that our leaders have failed us of late. And she isn’t just talking about Ken Lay, Donald Rumsfeld, and others of their sorry ilk whose egregious behavior generated headlines about corporate bankruptcy and needless wars. She cites a recent poll showing that only 7 percent of all employees trust their leaders. Kellerman’s main point is that those of us in the education racket deserve a full share of blame for this state of affairs. If anything, most corporate in-house leadership training is an even bigger waste of time and money than what goes on in business schools. Hey, I guess I’m as ticked off about all this as Kellerman is. — James O’Toole An excerpt from Chapter 7 of The End of Leadership
Don't let popular opinion get in the way of your vision Simon Flesser and Magnus Gardeback of mobile game studio Simogo urged developers at GDC Europe today to "base [design and business] decisions on what feels right instead of what is considered right." With the studio's first game, 2010's Kosmo Spin for iOS, the two-man team created the game following all the rules you're "meant" to follow -- 99 cent price, small file size, lots of updates and a very casual setting. These are the elements they had read would make their game sell. Simogo's second game Bumpy Road also attempted to incorporate a number of these "popular" mobile game elements, with lots of updates released post-launch and cut-price sales from time to time. However, the game was priced higher than 99 cents, and yet still managed to sell solidly, making the development pair question whether there really was a set way to sell mobile games. Nor is the team planning to port the game to other platforms such as Android, even though the Unity engine allows for fairly simple porting.
If You're Not Micromanaging, You're Not Leading - Michael Schrage by Michael Schrage | 11:45 AM May 23, 2012 The single most revealing moment in the coverage of JPMorgan’s multibillion dollar debacle can be found in this take-your-breath-away passage from The Wall Street Journal: On April 30, associates who were gathered in a conference room handed Mr. Dimon summaries and analyses of the losses. Only when he saw the actual trades — the raw data — did Dimon realize the full magnitude of his company’s situation. Dimon (whom I’ve met and admire enormously) acknowledges he was too complacent. At one global telecommunications giant, for example, a critical network software upgrade was not only slipping further behind schedule, but the bug density was slowly creeping up, as well. There’s both a cultural and personal difference between this kind of micromanagement and being a control freak. Yes, there’s something vaguely mistrustful and distrustful about insisting on a diet of raw data rather than a richly prepared presentation of nutritious analytics.
What Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day Remember when you used to have a period at the beginning of every day to think about your schedule, catch up with friends, maybe knock out a few tasks? It was called home room, and it went away after high school. But many successful people schedule themselves a kind of grown-up home room every day. The first hour of the workday goes a bit differently for Craig Newmark of Craigslist, David Karp of Tumblr, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, career writer (and Fast Company blogger) Brian Tracy, and others, and they’ll tell you it makes a big difference. Don’t Check Your Email for the First Hour. Tumblr founder David Karp will "try hard" not to check his email until 9:30 or 10 a.m., according to an Inc. profile of him. Not all of us can roll into the office whenever our Vespa happens to get us there, but most of us with jobs that don’t require constant on-call awareness can trade e-mail for organization and single-focus work. Gain Awareness, Be Grateful Choose Your Frog
Strategy: Why Most Companies (and People) Stink At It What do McKinsey, BCG, and Bain all have in common? Other than being the employer of choice for hundreds of thousands of CIBs, they are also strategy consulting firms. It’s their focus on strategy that separates them from KPMG (operations and finance), Accenture (IT consulting primarily) and numerous other firms. Given this focus on strategy is such a key differentiator; I’m surprised how infrequently I’m asked just what is strategy? I’ll start by saying most everyone think they know what strategy is (including most MBAs and nearly all of your senior clients). Yet surprisingly, very few companies ACTUALLY have a good strategy. This has always puzzled me. Similarly, I find that few people give much thought to their own personal career strategy — including some MBB consultants! How can there be so much focus on strategy in business school, so much focus on strategy firms in recruiting, and so much focus on strategic plans in corporate, and yet most companies have pretty crappy strategies?
The keys to a company culture that works In a heartfelt talk at GDC Europe, Harald Riegler, co-founder of Sproing, frankly discussed the challenges and advantages of shaping a company culture that leads to respect and success. "The right company culture will bring really good things out of people where you didn't expect they existed," says Riegler, who manages a company of 65 that works on free-to-play and console games in Austria. Unfortunately, he says, forging the right company culture is a challenge -- but it's crucial to shape it, and that every team member understand it. "That culture will largely decide the success of the studio or team," says Riegler. While "the latest million-selling management style" books offer advice, Riegler was dismissive of trends and tricks. "A good company culture is built on some lasting principles -- principles, to me, means more than a set of rules, it's a foundation on how you live and how you act," he says. Here are his principles: "This is where it gets really tricky," says Riegler.
8 Things Great Bosses Demand from Employees My recent column, 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses, drew a flood of responses. But there's one thing I didn't mention: An extraordinary boss communicates his expectations clearly to his team. That way, everyone understands what it will take to make your company succeed. With that in mind: If you are the boss, you'll want to share this column with your team, because it will make your job a heck of a lot easier. And if by chance you're not the boss, memorize this column–because it contains the key to long-term success. Here are the rules for keeping your boss happy: 1. Your boss wants to trust you. 2. The secret fear of every boss is that employees are screwing up but are not saying anything about it. 3. Your boss wants to believe you're competent and on top of things. 4. Bosses appreciate individuals who truly care about what they do and willing to take the time to achieve a deep understanding of their craft. 5. 6. Complainers are the bane of your boss's existence. 7. 8.
Why We Can't See What's Right in Front of Us - Tony McCaffrey by Tony McCaffrey | 11:55 AM May 10, 2012 The most famous cognitive obstacle to innovation is functional fixedness — an idea first articulated in the 1930s by Karl Duncker — in which people tend to fixate on the common use of an object. For example, the people on the Titanic overlooked the possibility that the iceberg could have been their lifeboat. Newspapers from the time estimated the size of the iceberg to be between 50-100 feet high and 200-400 feet long. Titanic was navigable for awhile and could have pulled aside the iceberg. Many people could have climbed aboard it to find flat places to stay out of the water for the four hours before help arrived. More mundane examples: in a pinch, people have trouble seeing that a plastic lawn chair could be used as a paddle (turn it over, grab two legs, and start rowing) or that a candle wick could be used to tie things together (scrape the wax away to free the string). This presents an enormous barrier to coming up with new ideas.
All Hail the Generalist - Vikram Mansharamani by Vikram Mansharamani | 10:53 AM June 4, 2012 We have become a society of specialists. Business thinkers point to “domain expertise” as an enduring source of advantage in today’s competitive environment. The logic is straightforward: learn more about your function, acquire “expert” status, and you’ll go further in your career. But what if this approach is no longer valid? Approximately 2,700 years ago, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” In the six decades since Berlin’s essay was published, hedgehogs have come to dominate academia, medicine, finance, law, and many other professional domains. For various reasons, though, the specialist era is waning. Secondly, specialists toil within a singular tradition and apply formulaic solutions to situations that are rarely well-defined. Finally, there appears to be reasonable and robust data suggesting that generalists are better at navigating uncertainty.
EA's Core Strategy: Tech, Teams, Brands At Electronic Arts' EA Games label, Patrick Soderlund runs the show. It's within his business that the publisher creates its high-budget games that are targeted towards the dedicated "core" game player. These franchises include , , , and other major series. So how does Soderlund's label foster innovation, when fans of these long-running franchises have built up years of expectations? That's not the only challenge within EA Games -- the label is also in charge of EA's Play4Free business, which is based on the free-to-play, microtransactions-based model. The core games market is changing, and between new tech, business models and high-budget sequels, Soderlund is trying to leave little to chance. Patrick Soderlund: I think Frank Gibeau -- who's my boss and continues to be my boss, and ran the EA Games label before me -- was instrumental in a turnaround for the games label. I think Frank really set the direction for where we needed to go in order to be successful in going forward.