Cheryl offers: I LOVE my dogs and as I read Women Want More by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, I learned I am in the good company of most women because women receive great joy from their pets. Now they aren’t all dogs of course. They might be cats, pigs, or iguanas, but in their research to determine what women want, these two Boston Consulting Group consultants learned that women want time with their pets, regardless of education level, income bracket, career choices, or location. Even more important to retailers, we are willing to spend a lot of our money on those babies. It makes perfect sense to me. When I’m experiencing a tough day, have a headache, or come home after a 14 hour day, there they are. My dogs have a way of cheering me up and making whatever was bothering me just moments before disappear. They insist on taking daily walks and maintaining a schedule. What a relief; otherwise, I’d likely sit at the computer too long and miss some great fresh air. All of a sudden, I might be working away, and here comes one or the other. It’s always a surprise which one of the four has been volunteered by the others to lead the charge. And I must admit, it’s a nice surprise. In fact, I’m wondering right now, who will wander in to save me…hurry, I’m tired!
Sara adds: There are a couple of leadership lessons here. First, when someone (two or four legged) wants to have fun, do stuff together and always (always, always) trusts us, it’s hard not to respond in like kind - that’s the lesson on the receiving end. The message on the sending end (leadership in action) is one of consciousness. If we learn a lesson from our pets, it’s to be really aware of our employees because it’s contagious! Fred Kofman states it in Conscious Business, “Conscious employees take responsibility for their lives…unconscious employees do the opposite.” Consider the value of an employee that takes responsibility versus one who does not. Which would you rather have? Let’s go back to the lessons. First, if a leader shows their employees that they want to have fun, do stuff together and that they trust them, it’s hard not to smile and join in. And consciousness modeled by a leader is picked up by those they lead. Remember how the excitement of the dogs invited play from Cheryl. Excitement from a leader invites engagement (or consciousness.) My dog pokes me in the ribs with her snout when I’ve been sitting too long. She is a great inspiration!
Isn’t this interesting?! – Girls Sports may lead to Women in Business Success.
In this week’s “well” blog in the New York Times, in one of their most e-mailed articles As Girls Become Women, Sports Pay Dividends by Tara Parker-Pope, we read this:
Most research on Title IX has looked at national trends in girls’ sports. Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has taken it a step further, focusing on state-by-state variations.
“I looked to see what it means to add sports to girls’ lives,” she said. “How does it change things for them?”
Using a complex analysis, Dr. Stevenson showed that increasing girls’ sports participation had a direct effect on women’s education and employment. She found that the changes set in motion by Title IX explained about 20 percent of the increase in women’s education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25-to-34-year-old women.
“It’s not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life,” she said, adding, “While I only show this for girls, it’s reasonable to believe it’s true for boys as well.”
We have been reading the reports that more women are getting college degrees than men, and there are nearly more women the workforce than men (USA Today reported: Women gain as men lose jobs — and, now, the latest report has more women than men in the workplace: Women outnumber men in American workplace for the first time in history).
This certainly adds one more very interesting ingredient into this discussion.
As Sharp explain, “This book is based on the premise that all companies want to succeed by gaining, keeping, and serving their customers, the source of revenues. In many instances they are prevented from doing so by continuing down the same path that worked before and hoping that it will continue to work [i.e. succeed] in the same way. But in these continuously changing times, ‘doing the same things in the same old way’ no longer serves either the company or its customers adequately; it’s time for a change.” A change of what to what? In essence, what Sharp asserts is that business leaders must be able to answer questions such as these:
Do you know what’s no longer true about your marketplace?
Do you know what is no longer true about your most important customers?
Do you know what your competitors have done, are doing, or plan to do in response to these and other changes?
If you cannot answer one or more of these questions, what are you doing to obtain the information you need?
I agree with Sharp that all companies must obtain and then constantly update the competitive intelligence they need. That is, knowledge and foreknowledge about the entire business environment in which they compete. The components of this environment include competitors, of course, but also customers (past, current, and prospective), distributors, suppliers, technology, societal changes, demographics, governmental legislators and regulatory agencies, and to an increasingly more significant extent, economic development entities in foreign countries. “Competitive intelligence is a management discipline that propels the decision marker to smarter, more successful decisions, thereby minimizing risk, avoiding being blindsided, and getting it right the first time.”
Change has been the only constant in recent years and that seems certain to remain true in the business world but my guess (only a guess) is that change will occur even faster and have even greater impact in months and years to come. Whether that impact is positive or negative will depend almost entirely on an organization’s competitive intelligence capabilities or lack thereof. Business leaders must accept the inevitability of change, and in fact initiate whatever changes in their competitive marketplace sustainable success may require. For most business leaders, Sheena Sharp’s book is a “must read.” As for the others, they have probably already read it.
We have videos.
You can purchase many of our synopses, with handout + audio (MP3 files) at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. These are the complete First Friday Book Synopsis presentations.
But thanks to Doug Caldwell, you can see excerpts of many of our more recent presentations (it goes back a couple of years) on the “First Friday Book Synopsis Playlist” at youtube. Doug tapes our presentations, edits them down to shorter “excerpts,” and puts them on youtube.
Here is the video excerpting my presentation of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell:
Here is my colleague Karl Krayer at a recent First Friday Book Synopsis, welcoming folks and explaining the concept of the event:
(By the way, we link to Doug’s blog on our blogroll, which you will find on the right side of this page. He frequently blogs about career transition issues, among other subjects).
So, check out our youtube playlist — and, thanks Doug.
Innovation and Technological Breakthroughs make everything more affordable – well, almost everything; consider Health Care
Innovation and technology create game-changers. And a true game-changer was the arrival of the CT scanning capability. Slate.com’s The Big Money has a fascinating article I Wanna CT Scan Your Hand: How the Beatles created our soaring health care costs by Thomas Goetz. (This is excerpted from the book The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine by Thomas Goetz.
This article tells the story of the invention of the CT scanning machine, and the way that changed medicine – and the subsequent problem it created, that it did not save money, but added to costs – dramatically.
Here’s an excerpt:
In most industries, technology lowers costs by reducing the workload for an expert class. The steam engine reduced the demand for buggy-whip makers, the textile factory reduced the need for seamstresses, robot welders reduced the need for the human kind in auto plants. But here again, health care is the exception: Rather than taking experts out of the process, a CT scan ends up making more work for the expert class of radiologists. Diagnostic radiology is routinely among the highest-paid specialties in medicine, with a median salary of $361,000, according to a recent survey of specialties. And these salaries are increasing faster than they are for other M.D.s, driven by hospitals that are eager for more radiologists to perform more tests. That not only keeps prices high, it makes the prospects for lowering costs almost nonexistent.
Clayton Christensen, D.B.A., a professor at Harvard Business School and author of The Innovator’s Prescription, has cited this as one of the reasons health care is in such dire straits. “When you deploy the technology to commoditize the caregiver, to enable a lower-cost provider to do something that historically had required higher cost, then it actually takes cost out of the system,” he told the policy journal Health Affairs in 2007. But, he said, “when you bring technology to the experts to do more sophisticated things, in fact, it does bring a lot of cost into the system.” The result is a classic perversion of technology and economics.
So, the lesson is this: some technology saves money, other technology adds costs. In this case, adding costs has saved many, many lives, even if all of those scans are not necessary. Let’s put it this way – if it were the life of your loved one, would you want the money spent on their CT scan?
(Note: You can read the interview conducted by Bob Morris with Clayton Christensen, quoted above, on our blog here).