In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, published by Riverhead Books (2009), Dan Pink offers some excellent advice as to how to promote “goldilocks” for teams, “the kind [of tasks] that are neither too easy nor too hard, that deliver a delicious sense of flow. But sometimes it’s difficult to replicate that experience when you’re working in a team. People often end up doing the jobs they always do because they’ve proven they can do them well, and an unfortunate few get saddled with the flow-free [i.e. unsatisfying, unfulfilling, unpleasant] tasks nobody else wants. Here are a few ways to bring a little Goldilocks to your group”:
1. Begin with a diverse team. Members are cross-functional and from different departments or areas.
2. Make your group a “no competition” zone. Strongly encourage and generously support communication, cooperation, and especially collaboration.
3. Try a little task-shifting. For example, “if someone is bored with his current assignment, see if he can train someone else in the skills he’s already mastered. Then see if he can take on some aspect of a more experienced team member’s work.”
4. Animate with purpose, don’t motivate with rewards. “Nothing binds a team like a shared mission. The more people share a common cause [e.g. creating something that Steve Jobs characterizes as ‘insanely great’], the more your group will do deeply satisfying and outstanding work.”
To its great credit, McKinsey & Company’s dedicated Web site for the McKinsey Quarterly offers an abundance of invaluable resources. For example, here are an article from the Quarterly co-authored by James Manyika and Jaana Remes, Where the US will find growth and jobs, and the results of one of the firm’s Global Studies, Building Organizational Capabilities:
You can sign up for a free subscription and access to a wealth of resources by visiting:
In an article written for The New York Times (Saturday, March 6, 2010), Brian Stelter discusses a video (Fake Former Presidents Use Comedy for a Cause) during which five former presidential impersonators from “Saturday Night Live” joined Jim Carrey (as Ronald Reagan, substituting for Phil Hartman who died in 1998) and the show’s current mock president, Fred Armisen, “in a White House bedroom set for a sketch that immediately achieved world fame.”
The program was directed by Ron Howard and its primary purpose is to have six former presidents meet with the incumbent to discuss the need to “do more to curb troublesome banking and lending practices.” In a dream sequence in the Obamas’ bedroom as they retire for the night, George W. Bush (Will Farrell), Bill Clinton (Darrell Hammond), George H.W. Bush (Dana Garvey), and Jimmy Carter (Dan Ackroyd) appear. The video lasts almost six minutes and is hilarious.
Here’s a link to the video:
It drives me crazy.
People refer to a set of PowerPoint slides as “a presentation.” “Can you send me your presentation?” people will ask.
Are they crazy?!
A presentation is – you know – a person presenting a speech, a talk…, standing up or sitting down and opening his/her mouth and speaking. You know – presenting!
PowerPoint slides projected on a screen are PRESENTATION AIDS! They-are-not-the-presentation!
I teach Introduction to Speech Communication. I refuse to teach PowerPoint in the “introduction” class. Only if they “beg” me do I teach about PowerPoint. And I teach my students this – control the eye contact of the audience, and never define the PowerPoint slides as the presentation – they are PRESENTATION AIDS! Why? Because, after you have thoroughly researched, fully prepared, you have to emphasize the voice, facial expressions, tone, — you know, YOU!
Quick, what do the following “presenters,” John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Barbara Jordan, Ronald Reagan, have in common? They never used PowerPoint in their “presentations.”
THEY DELIVERED THEIR PRESENTATIONS! You know, their voice, their words, their facial expressions, their tone of voice, their gestures – these made up their presentations. No, they could not e-mail their presentations to anyone. They could not send anyone their presentations. They had to show up and deliver their presentations.
Yes, their presentations show up on youtube. But even that is not the same. It captures some of what happened – but not all. I’ve heard a few great presentations in person. I watched Bill Clinton at his best in a huge crowd in Fort Worth, Texas in 1996. I stood on the second row. Every thing he did – eye contact, emotion, personality – it was an education! And not one PowerPoint slide during the entire presentation!
Now, I’m not a complete idiot. (well – I might be – but that’s another discussion). Of course, well-made presentation aids can be very effective. But take a look at any of the presentations at the great TED site. Not once do they just put up the slides. The slides are visual AIDS. On the TED site, they upload the speaking, by the persons presenting, to capture as much of each presentation as possible.
I went to Mickey Mantle’s funeral here in Dallas (it was open to the public). Delivering the main address was Bob Costas. It was a masterpiece – I mean, a real masterpiece. It may have been the best presentation I ever heard. It was his voice, his face, his gestures. Not one PowerPoint slide!
He delivered his presentation. No, he cannot e-mail it to you!
Okay – rant finished.
I have really been struck with the lessons that I learned — or maybe, the truths that were reinforced – in Switch. In fact, to borrow a phrase from Susan Scott’s Fierce Leadership, nearly everything that I learn, from anywhere/everywhere, really is simply a matter of the “fricking obvious.”
What the Heath brothers tell us is that habit/automatic pilot is “easy.” It’s going off of automatic pilot that is very, very difficult. Here’s a quote from the book:
Self-control is an exhaustible resource… Much of our daily behavior is more automatic than supervised, and that’s a good thing because the supervised behavior is the hard stuff. It’s draining.
We burn up self-control in a wide variety of situations: managing the impression we’re making on others; coping with fears; controlling our spending; and many, many others.
When people try to change things, they’re tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires careful supervision by the Rider. The bigger the change you’re suggesting, the more it will sap people’s self-control.
Change is hard because people wear themselves out… What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
And they also say, in their imagery of the Rider (who thinks rationally – “If I understand this intellectually, I will change”) and the Elephant (who thinks “emotionally” – “I have to feel like changing”), that “knowledge does not change behavior.” This is truly “fricking obvious.” Everyone knows that we should floss our teeth every day. Every supervisor knows that he/she should catch an employee doing something right, reinforce positive behavior more than criticize what needs to be changed; every smoker knows that smoking is bad for their health. The “knowing” is already a done deal. But the change, the switch itself, the doing, the actual changing, is so very, very difficult.
It is such a universal reality that there is a name for this problem: the “knowing-doing” gap. Check out this article from Fast Company in 2000, Why Can’t We Get Anything Done? by Alan M. Webber. It refers substantially to the book The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. (Here is Bob Morris’ review of this book). And here is the first of sixteen rules from the article:
Rule #1. Doing something actually requires … doing something!
The Heath brothers say that to succeed at the doing – in other words, to actually make the switch/embrace and implement the change — you have to stack the deck in favor of change.
Make small steps. Overload “convenience.” In the book, they recommend that you actually put 1% milk in your refrigerator, and never put whole milk in your refrigerator. We drink what is conveniently available. Again from the book:
How do you get Americans to start drinking low-fat milk? You make sure it shows up in their refrigerators… People will drink whatever is around the house… you don’t need to change drinking behavior. You need to change purchasing behavior.
So, if you don’t floss your teeth, buy a small convenience store supply of floss. Put some by your bed, some in your bathroom, some atop your coffee maker, some by your computer, some in your car. Let floss stare at you every where you turn, and then actually floss. Make it convenient — take a small step until it becomes automatic. When it becomes automatic, you have then actually changed; you have arrived at switch.
Find and use such convenience triggers with everything you are trying to change — at work, at home, everywhere.
Knowing is relatively easy. It is the doing that is so tough.