A moment or two with Daniel Pink (with a credo from Harrison Ford, and appreciation for conversations facilitated by NPR)
Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation (which I have read and presented), A Whole New Mind (which I have read) and his new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (which I am reading, and will present), is speaking in Dallas tonight. I plan to attend, so I thought I would read up a little on him.
Here are two items, unrelated to each other, from his blog:
Item #1: A credo from Harrison Ford (from an interview in Parade):
“When I was a carpenter, I once worked with this Russian lady architect. I would tell her, ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, but I want to change that a half inch,’ and she would say, ‘No limit for better.’ I think that is a worthy credo. You keep on going until you get it as close to being right as the time and patience of others will allow.”
No limit for better. Good advice for a Monday.
Item #2: And a reminder of the great value of conversations on NPR (including our local Think host, Krys Boyd):
The way ideas spread is pretty simple: Conversation by conversation. One engaged person talks with another engaged person — and out of that daisy chain of human interactions come new ways to navigate our lives.
One of the best and most enduring forums for conversation is public radio. And in the past week, I’ve had the good fortune to talk about the ideas in Drive with several National Public Radio journalists. Here’s a sampler:
1. Morning Edition. A talk with Madeline Brand.
2. Talk of the Nation. Host Neal Conan invited listeners to tell their stories about motivation at work — which brought forth examples of the very good and the very bad.
3. Local programs. Some of the best journalism in this country goes on at the local level. Visiting with hosts like Washington’s Kojo Nnamdi, Philadelphia’s Marty Moss-Coane, Dallas’s Krys Boyd, and the Twin Cities’ Kerri Miller, I learned a lot about both the possibilities and limits of these ideas.
If, er, you’d like to join the conversation, please do…’
Daniel Pink – a name to add to your “ I should read his books” list. And now, now that I’ve discovered it, I have to add his blog to my reading list. So many books; so many blogs; so little time…
In Competitive Intelligence Advantage, published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Seena Sharp explains “how to minimize risk, avoid surprises, and grow your business in a changing world. In Chapter 4, she identifies and discusses seven reasons why competitors should not be the focus of competitive intelligence (CI) initiatives:
1. The competitor’s focus may not be the same as yours.
2. You don’t know, and likely cannot uncover, competitors’ new strategies until they are already in place.
3. The more time you spend dissecting the competition, the more credit you ascribe to them for their [perceived and thus assumed] acumen.
4. Competitors make mistakes, and you don’t know what they are until time passes and their decision is in force.
5. If you want to be the leader or get ahead of the leader, you cannot be following the leader.
6. A focus on competitors creates a situation where your company puts disproportionate attention on one aspect of a competitor’s business, when that may nit even be a differentiator.
7. Even leading companies fall in ranking.
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Seena Sharp founded one of the first competitive intelligence firms in America, has been a senior-level CI executive at several corporations, and actively participates in programs sponsored by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). She invites you to check out the resources at these Web sites:
“If you don’t have a résumé, what do you have?
How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project an employer can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?
Some say, ‘Well, that’s fine, but I don’t have those.’
Yeah, that’s my point. If you don’t have these things, what leads you to believe that you are remarkable, amazing, or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have more than a résumé, you’ve been brainwashed into compliance.
Great jobs, world-class jobs, jobs people kill for – those jobs don’t get filled by people e-mailing in résumés.”
I recently presented my synopsis of the Frank Luntz book, What Americans Really Want… Really, and read this quote from the book:
To be successful, you have to be willing to set aside what you know, even if it took you a lifetime to learn it. You have to listen, constantly, to a cacophony of information and learn to synthesize the bits and bytes that will help your business grow today, so you can prepare for and prosper in the future. That’s the mission of this text.
That launched us into a discussion of change, a regular discussion topic for anyone in business. One of the participants said this: “I think we should simply realize that any time ever spent in discussing whether or not we like a specific change is wasted time. Because the change is already upon us, and to discuss whether or not we like it is truly wasted time.’’
That’s it in a nutshell. You can’t roll back change, you can’t stop change, you can’t change change – change is upon us. Accept it. Look for the next one that is certainly on its way. And never waste a minute of valuable discussion time on whether or not you/we like it. Because no matter how much you don’t like it, you can’t roll it back.
Now – if only I could actually follow this advice!
Don’t Make Conan’s Mistake
Marc Effron and Miriam Ort
Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Hideki Matsui are each corporate assets who represent a revenue stream to their organization. We all understand that the Yankees are out to win, and must make the talent choices that will give them the best odds come spring. NBC is no different. Protecting and increasing their revenue stream is a goal that trumps the needs of any one employee. Yet none of us would like to see our organization involved in this kind of unpleasant situation. So what could NBC — and all organizations that depend on talent — do differently?
1. Avoid defensive talent strategies: Conan was promised the host role of The Tonight Show in response to efforts by competitors to steal him away from NBC in 2004. Jay was promised the 10PM slot due to fears he would go to another network. Both decisions suggest a defensive approach to talent — keep them because “they’d be dangerous at the competition” rather than “they’re the perfect fit with our strategy.” Talent choices should be made proactively and to hurt the competition, not merely to avoid pain.
2. Place big talent bets: It can take new talent a while to reach their full potential. Give them that opportunity. Once they’ve identified their “stars,” organizations should focus all their resources on making them successful. Early missteps aren’t necessarily predictive of failure — it’s often just moving up the learning curve. A little patience can result in a big payoff.
3. Diversify succession risk: Lining up successors against individual jobs is a rather outmoded approach. Is it expensive to have two talk show hosts in the succession pool? Of course — just as it was expensive for GE to have three CEOs in waiting. Yet that gave them tremendous flexibility when it came to replacing Jack Welch. Somehow, GE’s succession planning rigor didn’t seem to reach NBC.
It’s in a company’s best interest to have great talent practices like these, just as it is generally in their best interest for them to keep that talent happy and engaged. But the reality is that providing you with a wonderful career experience is not their first (or even second) priority.
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Marc Effron is President of The Talent Strategy Group and Founder of the New Talent Management Network. Miriam Ort is a senior human resource manager at PepsiCo. Marc and Miriam co-authored One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value, available from Harvard Business Press in May.
To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Hence my conclusion that even advanced mathematical concepts can be made imaginatively compelling and demonstrable when they are presented historically…It is via these great voyages and adventures of the human mind, so often charged with personal rivalries, passions and frustrations – the Argosy founders, or gets trapped in the ice of the insoluble – that we non-mathematicians can look into a sovereign and decisive realm…Locate this quest…and you will have flung open doors on the ‘seas of thought’ deeper, more richly stocked than any on the globe.”
In my opinion, one of FFBS’s objectives is to offer a quest to increased understanding of matters that include but are by no means limited to the business world. Once a month as we gather together, Karl and Randy do their best to stir up some white caps on our own “seas of thought.”