Todd L. Pittinsky is Professor of Technology and Society at SUNY Stony Brook and a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He was previously Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he served as Research Director for Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. In 2001, he launched the Allophilia Project (www.allophilia.org) to understand and advance the positive attitudes people can have for groups other than their own; that is, attitudes that go beyond tolerance to proactive engagement, enthusiasm, support, and enjoyment.
Todd is the author of Us Plus Them: Tapping the Positive Power of Difference, co-author of Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family, editor of Crossing the Divide: Intergroup Leadership in a World of Difference, and co-editor of Restoring Trust in Organizations and Leaders: Enduring Challenges and Emerging Answers. Published widely in scholarly journals, his work has also been profiled in The Economist and the Boston Globe and has been cited in Science, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal and on National Public Radio.
Todd received his BA in psychology from Yale and his PhD jointly from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Science and Harvard Business School. Pittinsky has worked for leading technology companies, including Netscape and Opsware, and consults to organizations in the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors, including the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, the World Bank, and Ford Motor Company. Pittinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Us Plus Them, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?
Pittinsky: Hands down my family—my parents. Like so many of their generation, they did so much with so little. I sometimes walk by the house I grew up in and am amazed at how they filled such a small house with so much that was fun and interesting, all the while working middle class jobs. Later, as I grew up, my three brothers were a big influence. Sibling influence can be profound and is too often overlooked.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?
Pittinsky: Two mentors of very different sorts. James Levine for believing in me and giving me a job at the Fatherhood Project that allowed me to stretch and grow. Richard Hackman for modeling excellence and coaching graduate students like me on how to get closer to it.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow. Please explain.
Pittinsky: There were four actually. Lightening had to strike four times for me to realize there was something brewing out there. First, studying for PhD qualifying exams, I was given a mountain of papers to read about group relations and, to a tee, they all discussed prejudices as prejudgments—could be positive or negative—about groups but then—in every single case—quickly went on to discuss only negative prejudgments and negative attitudes toward “others.”
The second time was when I was writing a paper and was looking for a word for the positive attitudes members of one group have for the members of another group. And while I could come up with a great number of negatives, when it came to the positives—there were none. In the end, I had to write out “the positive attitudes that one might have for a group to which one doesn’t belong.” Imagine having to keep repeating such an awkward expression for something so simple and worthwhile.
Third, my colleagues and I had run an experiment designed to get groups to really like each other. It didn’t work and we just couldn’t figure out why. We kept going over the experiment piece by piece and finally we realized that the measure of group attitudes we were using was one that was available and well-tested—but it measured animosity and dislike. Surprise—in our experiment, there wasn’t much animosity and dislike to start with!
Finally, I was working in Silicon Valley, in a company which, like many companies, had a lot of departments—silos, really—which weren’t collaborating as they hoped. I was working on internal customer service. Well, the original protocol included negative rating of other groups—say, frustration with the marketing department. If you were really delighted by the marketing department or enthusiastic about it or proud of it—even though you weren’t in that department—there was no way to say so using this protocol. That was something I quickly remedied in the survey design, which had wonderful effects on the organizational culture. People could finally see the functioning—and not just the dysfunction—as normal.
So it took a while for me to see the pattern, the thread—when we talk about groups, we talk about the negative—and to see that there was a whole lot that needed to be understood about positive attitudes for the members of other groups. So it took four times, but I got there.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Todd cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Richard Florida is author of the global best-sellers, The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City? A more recent book, book, The Great Reset, explains how new ways of living and working will drive post-crash prosperity. Other works include The Flight of the Creative Class and Cities and the Creative Class. His previous books, especially The Breakthrough Illusion and Beyond Mass Production, paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.
Richard is senior editor for The Atlantic and a regular CNN contributor. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, The Globe and Mail and The Harvard Business Review. He has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, BBC, NPR and CBS, to name just a few. Richard is Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Professor of Business and Creativity at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Previously, Florida held professorships at George Mason University and Carnegie Mellon University and taught as a visiting professor at Harvard and MIT. Florida earned his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. His research provides unique, data-driven insight into the social, economic and demographic factors that drive the 21st century world economy.
His latest book is The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition–Revised and Expanded, published by Basic Books (June, 2012).
Here is an excerpt from my second interview of him.
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Morris: To what extent is The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited a sequel? To what extent does it plow entirely new ground?
Florida: A great deal of the book has been rewritten or rearranged—this is not so much a revision as a full-blown revisiting of the original book. My team and I brought all the statistics up to date, provided new ones, and incorporated a decade’s worth of new research. I took advantage of the opportunity to address my major critics, too. Finally, there are five completely original chapters, covering the global effects of the Creative Class, quality of place in our cities and suburbs, the widening—and increasingly damaging—role of class and inequality in society, and the political challenges and opportunities that the rise of the creative class represents.
Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing the book? Please explain.
Florida: One big insight is the worsening inequality and underlying class divide that plagues not just nations but cities and metro areas. You can see it in US cities and metros and also in London and even in Toronto where I now live. That said, the rise of the creative class and post-industrialism needn’t exacerbate wage and income inequality. In fact, the wages and salaries for working and service class members are higher in metros with greater concentrations of the creative class. Interestingly enough, the US is something of an outlier when it comes to post-industrialism and inequality across the advanced nations. In many of them, especially in Scandinavia and North Europe, post-industrialism and the rise of the creative economy has been accompanied by higher living standards and far less inequality that in the US. In the revised edition, I look in detail at inequality across US metros. I find that the class divide accounts for about 15 percent of income inequality, a significant amount for sure, but more is at work. Income inequality across US metros has a lot to do with entrenched poverty, race, weakened labor unions, and an unraveling safety net than it is the result of the Creative Class’s relative prosperity. The solution, in other words, isn’t to roll the Creative Class back—it’s to lift up the classes that aren’t doing as well.
Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?
Florida: Books always turn out different than expected. When I started the idea was to update the data (which was ten years old) and revise and update the existing chapters. But that’s where my research and thinking took me. I certainly did not expect to write five entirely new chapters The whole issue of the creative class going global and the need to include more data and information on the creative class around the world; and also widening inequality and the growing class divide – those are things that needed to be treated in detail. The last chapter – “Every Single Human Being is Creative”— discusses the need for a new Creative Compact based on harnessing the creativity and talent of every single human being. We are at such a critical turning point: our society is changing as fundamentally as it has since the shift from agriculture to manufacturing. The old industrial order of relentless production and consumerism, of brute growth, has proven itself unsustainable; it’s left us with a degraded environment, a broken financial system, and a sclerotic political culture. We have an incredible opportunity to remake ourselves in a better way—for maybe the first time ever, to align human and economic development. But to do that, we need to create new institutions that will both help to develop and utilize everyone’s innate creativity. It won’t happen by itself, and no Invisible Hand is going to guide it.
The University of Chicago economist Raghu Rajan said it well: “The advanced countries have a choice. They can act as if all is well except that their consumers are in a funk, and that ‘animal spirits’ must be revived through stimulus. Or they can treat the crisis as a wake-up call to fix all that has been papered over in the last few decades.” I’m trying to sound that wake up call.
Morris: Please explain the reference to “the key underlying forces that have been transforming our economy and culture” for several decades.
Florida: Our economy is shifting from an industrial to a post-industrial basis—our most valuable products are no longer the natural resources we scour out of the ground, or the durable goods that we manufacture in factories but the things that spring from our creativity: software, movies, medicines, applications. Human beings have always been creative, of course, but now creativity itself—“the ability to create meaningful new forms,” as Webster’s Dictionary has it—is what powers our economy.
As creativity has become more fundamental, it’s given rise to a whole new social class that works in creative fields (the sciences, education, medicine, technology, media, the arts). Many of them have embraced a new ethos and a new set of meritocratic norms that in turn have shifted our whole society.
If anything Creativity is an even more powerfully transformative force than it was a decade ago. The Creative Class has come through the last decade—and through the economic crash of 2008—stronger and more influential than ever.
Morris: In your opinion, why have we not as yet unleashed “that great reservoir of overlooked and underutilized human potential”?
Florida: If a third of our most fortunate workers belong to the Creative Class, the other two great classes are not faring anywhere near as well. The working class, our blue collar sector, has lost a third of its members in just the last decade—it represents just 20 percent of the workforce today, about the same share that farmers held at the turn of the last century (they are less than one percent of the economy today). About half of the workforce belongs to the Service Class—the people who serve our food, cut our lawns and our fingernails, take care of our elderly. Most of them are paid terribly and there are very few opportunities for advancement.
Class and geography have a huge impact on your destiny in the US—if your parents don’t have good jobs and good educations and you live in a state that has a smaller Creative Class share, the odds are that you’ll be poorer, travel less, and receive a worse education than your peers in more creative states. That’s not snobbery or elitism—that’s just statistics. Poorer states have shorter life expectancies too—there is more smoking and obesity, more gun violence, and worse health outcomes across the board.
This is why I’m so passionate about the need for change—for a new Creative Compact, as I put it, that will do for our own epoch what the New Deal did for its own generation.
Morris: What are the defining characteristics of the Creative Class?
Florida: I define the Creative Class by what people do—by the kinds of jobs they hold. What I call the Super-Creative Core of the Creative Class are scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the thought leadership of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion shapers. I define the highest order of creative work as the production of new forms or designs that are readily transferable and widely useful—such as designing a consumer product, coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many situations, or composing music that can be performed again and again.
The Creative Class doesn’t just solve problems—it finds problems that we didn’t know we had. It invents the iPod and then it figures out a better way to organize its music library—and to combine it with a telephone, and an e-book reader while giving its battery longer life.
Beyond this core group, the Creative Class also includes “creative professionals” who work in a wide range of knowledge-intensive industries, such as high-tech, financial services, the legal and health professions, and business management, who engage in creative problem solving. Creative Class people are smart and skilled; they’re often (but not always) highly educated. Three quarters of degree holders belong to the Creative Class, but less than 60 percent of the Creative Class has degrees.
I talk a lot about “creatifying” jobs that are not considered Creative Class, but could be, such as retail sales. With the addition of creativity such jobs can become more productive and earn higher and higher salaries. Services can be creatified too, as their providers become more entrepreneurial.
Richard cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
To read the complete second interview, please click here.
To read my first interview of him, please click here.
To read my review of his latest book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition, please click here.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Andreas Kluth for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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Something odd and interesting happens to a lot of people who become very successful. Once the initial thrill wears off, they come to perceive their success as “a catastrophe” and even as “a kind of death,” as the playwright Tennessee Williams famously put it, after The Glass Menagerie became a smash hit in 1944. Athletes, scientists, generals, entrepreneurs, executives, performers, and politicians have expressed this paradox in different words. Paul Samuelson, an economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1970, later concluded that, “After winners receive the award and adulation, they wither away into vainglorious sterility.”
Understanding this bizarre inversion, or perversion, of success is one of the things that I set out to do in my book, Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure, inspired by a famous line in a Rudyard Kipling poem: “Meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two Impostors just the same.”
The idea that disaster, or failure, can be an impostor is in some ways more intuitive. In places such as Silicon Valley, it has become almost fashionable to fail fast, early, and often — in a sense, to fail into success and call it innovation. Even in our wider society, a lot of people are discovering that their personal disasters paradoxically liberated them to start anew, to live the life they actually wanted but needed an excuse to start living.
The other impostor — triumph, or success — can be the more sinister and cunning of the pair. Success adjusts its weapon to its victim. Some people succumb to hubris, the arrogant overconfidence that often follows success (think Tiger Woods or Eliot Spitzer). Others fall prey to less spectacular but more insidious manifestations of the impostor, such as distraction or paranoia.
But perhaps the subtlest ruse of success, and the one I will focus on in this post, is its way of imprisoning its owner. Specifically, it seems to be the successful person’s imagination that is taken captive.
Success often comes from a feat of freedom by somebody’s “impudent” imagination (Albert Einstein’s word). Consider Pablo Picasso circa 1907. How did this young man (in his twenties) have the outrageous idea to draw a group of prostitutes in a brothel as though their faces were primitive African masks and their limbs disembodied cubes? Nothing of the sort had ever been done before. It was a leap of the imagination, a shocking transgression, an idea that required his imagination to burst out of all restrictions. And then it became a painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which was Picasso’s triumph.
Or take a similar feat of free imagination in a military context. In 218 BCE, the Carthaginian general Hannibal decided to attack the Roman empire. Hannibal was also in his twenties, and he too had an outrageous idea. He would invade Italy by marching a huge army, including war elephants, through Spain and France and then across the uncharted and terrifying Alps in the snow of winter. This was considered physically impossible. Reasonable people, such as the Romans, did not “allow” it as a strategy, and thus did not plan for it. But that’s what Hannibal did. And then, in Italy, he routed and slaughtered the much larger Roman armies three times, killing about a quarter of Italian men in the process.
Often, nothing much happens at first. Many successful people do not crash and burn. In Hannibal’s case, he stayed in Italy for sixteen years in total, undefeated the entire time. Well into his middle age, he was still considered invincible. Nor, however, was he able to produce more triumphs to build on his early ones to achieve the end toward which his successes were supposed to be means, that end being the defeat of Rome. As we know today (just by looking around at the Roman columns on our government buildings), Rome would eventually win this war.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Andreas Kluth has been writing for The Economist since 1997. He is currently the magazine’s U.S. West Coast correspondent, covering politics, society, and economy in California and the western states. A dual citizen of Germany and America, Kluth is a graduate of Williams College and the London School of Economics.
The Catastrophe of Success, Andreas Kluth, Harvard Business Review blog, HBR email alerts, Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie Paul Samuelson, Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure, Rudyard Kipling, Albert Einstein’s, Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, The Economist, Williams College, London School of Economics
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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In the Economist review of our book, The Innovator’s DNA, the reviewer wondered whether genius-level innovators such as Marc Benioff, Jeff Bezos, and Steve Jobs challenge the idea that working adults can really learn how to think differently and become innovators.
We don’t think so. Remember, it was Steve Jobs who jump-started the now-famous “Think Different” advertising campaign as a way to inspire consumers and recharge Apple’s innovation efforts. It worked. Reflecting back on the campaign, Jobs said “The whole purpose of the ‘Think Different’ campaign was that people had forgotten what Apple stood for, including the employees.” And the best way to tell people what Apple stood for was to tell them who the company’s heroes were. The campaign reminded everyone — consumers and employees alike — that the “crazy ones…see things differently.”
Reams of relevant research (including our own) proves Jobs right. Innovators excel at connecting the unconnected. They engage in associational thinking. At Apple (or at any innovative company), they take a little bit of this, sprinkle in a little bit of that and that and that to churn out market-busting ideas such as iTunes, and the iPod, iPhone, and iPad (along with a few market disasters like the G4 Cube computer).
But neither Steve Jobs nor Apple nor any other high-profile innovator or company has a corner on the think-different market. In fact, our study of over 5,000 entrepreneurs and executives shows the opposite: almost anyone who consistently makes the effort to think different can think different.
Take Gavin Symanowitz, whom we recently met in South Africa. His original business, GetAGreatBoss.com, lets great managers showcase their skills to attract talent and boost their own careers by conducting a 360 review of the manager by his or her staff, and if the results are favorable, he links the results to job ads that the boss is trying to fill, making these job ads far more appealing. By connecting the unconnected — 360 leadership assessments and help wanted ads — Symanowitz forged an online business that sprouted in Africa and now grows globally.
Innovators (of new businesses, products, and processes) spend almost 50% more time trying to think different compared to non-innovators. In other words, non-innovators do occasionally think different (answering “at least a little bit” to questions like “I creatively solve challenging problems by drawing on diverse ideas or knowledge” to hit the 48th percentile in our global database). Yet compared to innovators, they just don’t do it as often. Generating new business ideas that make a positive financial impact takes time. Innovators who spend more time thinking different (scoring in the 70-80th percentile) consistently engage in associational thinking by “agreeing” or “strongly agreeing” with questions like the one above and they deliver innovative results more frequently than those who don’t. It’s that simple.
If thinking different can make such a positive difference, why don’t more people spend more time doing it? Researchers at Harvard Medical School opened our eyes to one compelling answer. Sixty to eighty percent of adults find the task of thinking different uncomfortable and some even find it exhausting. When adults must connect the unconnected through associational thinking, it wears them out. Why? Because most adults have lost the skills they once had (just watch almost every four-year old who relishes the chance to think different. And all of us were once four-year olds). We don’t lose this skill because genetic coding automatically shuts it down on our twenty-first birthday. Instead, most of us grew up in a world where thinking different was punished instead of praised (at home or school). So while roughly one-third of anyone’s innovation capacity comes from their genetic endowment, two-thirds of it is still driven by the environment. So here are a few simple suggestions to ratchet up your associating skills, the essence of thinking different.
[Here are two suggestions.]
Shake it up. When associations don’t come naturally, try forcing them to surface unnaturally — by shaking things up randomly. For example, try the Idea Generator app, which randomly combines three words together when you shake your smart phone. Shake it again and three more random words show up. You can get even more creative combinations by adding your own words to the mix (including foreign ones) and seeing what you get. For example, we just shook up the app while writing this blog and got three words — perforated, bite-sized, and humane — which might help generate a new idea. Perhaps putting bite-sized perforations into a new product could make a difference. That’s exactly what David Mullany did in 1953 by transforming a solid plastic ball into the Wiffle ball, a completely new product with bite-sized perforations in it.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that if adults practice associational thinking long enough, the task no longer exhausts but energizes them. Like most skill-based activities, if we slog away at it and practice over and over again, the task becomes not life taking but life giving. And that’s when the most creative ideas pop out.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Jeff Dyer is the Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy at the Marriott School, Brigham Young University; Hal Gregersenis a professor of leadership at INSEAD. They are co-authors with Clayton M. Christensen of the The Innovator’s DNA. To check out more blog posts by them, please click here.
There are two business topics that seem to bring out the best and (yes) the worst in executives: 360º feedback and performance reviews.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rebecca Knight for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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It’s performance review season, and you know the drill. Drag each of your direct reports into a conference room for a one-on-one, hand them an official-looking document, and then start in with the same, tired conversation. Say some positive things about what the employee is good at, then some unpleasant things about what he’s not good at, and end — wearing your most solicitous grin — with some more strokes of his ego. The result: a mixed message that leaves even your best employees feeling disappointed. But if you take the right approach, appraisals are an excellent opportunity to reinforce solid performers and redirect the poor ones.
What the Experts Say
For many employees, a face-to-face performance review is the most stressful work conversation they’ll have all year. For managers, the discussion is just as tense. “What a performance appraisal requires is for one person to stand in judgment of another. Deep down, it’s uncomfortable,” says Dick Grote, author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals. Evaluating an employee’s job performance should consist of more than an annual chat, according to James Baron, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Management at Yale School of Management. Performance management is a process, he says. “Presumably you’re giving a tremendous amount of real-time feedback, and your employees are people you know well. Hopefully your relationship can survive candid feedback.” No matter what kind of appraisal system your company uses, here are several strategies to help you make performance review season less nerve-racking and more productive.
Set expectations early
The performance review doesn’t start with a sit-down in the spare conference room. You must be clear from the outset how you’ll evaluate your employees. Grote suggests holding “performance planning” sessions with each of your direct reports at the beginning of the year, to discuss that person’s goals and your expectations. “You’ll see immediate improvement in performance because everyone knows what the boss expects,” he says. “And it earns you the right to hold people accountable at the end of the year.” Listen carefully to your employees’ personal ambitions, as it will inform the way you assess their work. “Oftentimes managers are evaluating performance without necessarily knowing what that person’s career aspirations are. We often assume that everyone wants to be CEO. But that’s not always the case,” says Barron. Understanding what your direct reports want from their careers will help you figure out ways to broaden their professional experiences.
Lay the groundwork
About two weeks before the face-to-face review, ask your employee to jot down a few things he’s done over the last year that he’s proud of. This will both help refresh your memory, and “will put a positive focus on an event that is so often seen as negative,” says Grote. Next, go over other notes you’ve kept on your employee over the year: a well-executed project; a deadline missed; the deft handling of a difficult client. Finally, ask for feedback from others in the company who work closely with your employee. “The larger number of independent evaluations the better,” says Barron. About an hour before the meeting, give your employee a copy of his appraisal. That way, he can have his initial emotional response — positive or negative — in the privacy of his own cubicle. “When people read someone’s assessment of them, they are going to have all sorts of churning emotions,” says Grote. “Let them have that on their own time, and give them a chance to think about it.” Then with a calmer, cooler head, the employee can prepare for a rational and constructive business conversation.
Set a tone
Too often the face-to-face conversation takes the form of a “feedback sandwich:” compliments, criticism, more niceties. But because there’s no single, clear message this approach demoralizes your stars and falsely encourages your losers. Instead, pick a side. “Most people are good solid workers, so for the vast majority, you should concentrate exclusively on things the person has done well,” says Grote, adding that this method tends to motivate people who are already competent at their jobs. For your marginal workers, however, do not sugarcoat bad news. Performance reviews are your chance to confront poor performers and demand improvement. “People are resilient,” says Grote. “As time goes on, that person is not going to get a promotion and not going to get a raise…You’re not doing this person any favors by [avoiding their deficiencies].”
After discussing the strengths and achievements of your solid performers, ask them how they feel about how things are going. “In most cases you’re dealing with mature adults and you’ll elicit their honest concerns,” says Grote. For both solid and poor performers, frame feedback in terms of a “stop, start, and continue” model, suggests Barron. What is the employee doing now that is not working? What are they doing that is highly effective? What actions should they adopt to be more so? By focusing on behaviors not dispositions, it takes the personal edge out of the conversation. Give specific advice and targeted praise. “Don’t say things like: ‘You need to be more proactive.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Say something like: ‘You need to take more initiative in calling potential sales leads.’” Similarly, “Saying: ‘You’re an innovator’ is nice but it’s helpful to know exactly what they’re doing that reflects that,” says Baron.
Hold your ground
The hot button issues associated with performance reviews are money and rank. If your company allows it, separate any talk of compensation from the performance review. “But if you must, do not save the salary information for the end of the conversation,” says Grote, “otherwise there’ll be an invisible parrot above the employees’ head squawking: how much? throughout the entire discussion.” Rank is another place for potential bruised feelings. A majority of companies require managers to rate their employees — often on a scale of 1-5. Your goal is go over the data, and make a judgment call.
Remember: the 1-5 system is not analogous to the A-F grading scheme in school; most employees will get the middle rank, a 3. This might leave some employees feeling let down, thinking they’re merely “average.” Don’t cave in. “In the corporate world, you’re dealing with a highly selective group,” says Grote. “The rules of the game have changed. In school, a C was mediocre, but a 3 in the working world means they’re meeting expectations. They’re shooting par.” Conveying that message is a leadership challenge. “People can accept it rationally but it may be hard to accept viscerally,” he says. “This is why it’s so important to hold a performance planning meeting at the outset. If they hit their targets, they are a 3. It’s a goal.”
Knight then recommends “Principles to Remember” and provides two mini-case studies that illustrate them. To read the complete article, please click here.
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Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist in Boston. She has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, and The Economist.
Daniel Diermeier is the IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practice, a Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at the Kellogg School of Management, and a Professor of Political Science at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, all at Northwestern University. He is director of the Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship and co-creator of the CEO Perspective Program (Kellogg’s most senior executive education program), a joint venture between the Kellogg School of Management and the Corporate Leadership Center. Diermeier’s work focuses on reputation management, political and regulatory risk, crisis management, and integrated strategy. His work has been published in numerous academic journals in management, economics, and political science.
He is the author of the recently published book, Reputation Rules: Strategies for Building your Company’s Most Valuable Asset (McGraw-Hill, April 2011). Diermeier’s work has been featured globally in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Business Week, the Financial Times, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, De Telegraaf and many others. In 2001 he was named Kellogg Professor of the Year and in 2007 was the recipient of the prestigious Faculty Pioneer Award from the Aspen Institute, named the “Oscar of Business Schools” by the Financial Times. In December 2004 he was appointed to the Management Board of the FBI.
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Morris: Before discussing Reputation Rules, a few general questions. First, other than a family member, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? Please explain.
Diermeier: When I was an undergraduate student in Germany I had received a fellowship from the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation. This required attending a few seminars on philosophy, critical thinking, rhetoric and other topics. These seminars were conducted by Konrad Krieger, the director of the graduate program. His thinking, values, and approach to scholarship had a profound influence on me in every aspect of my work. He also taught me how to be a professional.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development?
Diermeier: Before I came to Kellogg and Northwestern I was an assistant professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. My training had been in game-theoretical models of politics, but at Stanford I learned to apply these tools to business. David Baron, now emeritus at Stanford, had a tremendous influence on my development in this area.
Morris: Was there a turning point earlier in your life (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course that you continue to follow? Please explain.
Diermeier: There were two. I had originally been a graduate student in philosophy, but realized that I was not suited to be a professional philosopher. That happened during a year at USC. The second turning point was my time at Stanford and the influence of David Baron.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education proven invaluable to what you have accomplished during your career thus far?
Diermeier: My background has always been inter-disciplinary. I had a very good education in logic and then game-theory, but also had studied philosophy and even a year of musicology. Recently, I have become interested in psychology and linguistics. A topic like corporate reputation is multi-faceted and helps dramatically to be able to view in from different perspectives and integrate these perspectives into a new holistic view.
Morris: In recent years, MBA programs – even those offered by the most prestigious business schools, such as Kellogg – have been severely criticized. In your opinion, what is the one area in which there is greatest need of immediate improvement?
Diermeier: Business schools have failed to understand and reflect on the role of business in society. Corporations have become the main engines of economic, social, and cultural change, and are being held accountable for the consequences of these changes by an increasingly skeptical public. Companies need to address these challenges whether they want to or not. Corporate leaders thoroughly understand this, but many business schools still act as if these issues can conveniently be ignored.
Morris: Look ahead (let’s say) 3-5 years, what do you expect to be the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face? Why? Any advice?
Diermeier: To overcome an ongoing erosion of trust at a global scale. To counter these trends companies need to develop reputational management capabilities.
Morris: Now please shift your attention to Reputation Rules. When and why did you decide to write it?
Diermeier: I had the good fortune of serving for seven years as the academic director of the CEO Perspective Program, a joint venture between Kellogg and the Corporate Leadership Center. This program is designed for direct reports to CEOs of large, complex organizations. As part of the program we invited CEOs of the world’s leading companies into the classroom for a candid dialogue with our participants. I was struck by how often these CEOs mentioned “reputation,”“brand” or “trust” as one of their main concerns. “People” was the only other topic that came close. That said, at the same time we all saw one reputational crisis chasing another. And in contrast to the accounting crises a decade ago (Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen), these crises could be connected to any aspect of the business such as supply chain management, quality, safety, but also executive compensation or board governance. Together this suggested to me that (a) CEOs are right to put reputation on the top of their agenda, and (b) most companies do not know how to build and defend their reputation effectively.
Morris: What differentiates it from other books that also examine reputation management?
Diermeier: I think there are two main differences. First, reputation management is still largely viewed as part of corporate communication. That is, it is essentially about communicating in the right way. Of course, effective communication is a critical component of reputation management, but effective reputation management needs to be integrated into business practices. It is about doing things differently. Companies need to think about reputation management as a capability, like quality management and customer-focus. That requires the right mind-set as well as processes and a matching culture and values. Second, many reputation and crisis management books are based solely on the experience of practitioners. This book draws heavily on rigorous research, some my own, some from various areas of the social sciences. My sense is that we need to take this area as seriously as other areas in management and developing new insights that go beyond best practices is critical. That said, I worked hard on making the book easily accessible with many case studies, examples, and practical tools.
Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it?
Diermeier: I was struck how underdeveloped the reputation capabilities of many companies are. Managers love to build brands and reputations but they fail to build capabilities to defend and sustain them.
Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ from what you originally envisioned? Please explain.
Diermeier: There were few major changes. I had been thinking about this topic for a while and had developed a successful course on crisis and reputation management. What did happen was that processes and culture starting playing a more important role.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Daniel Diermeier cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Here is the latest post by Joseph A. Maciariello featured in the Joe’s Journal series at the Drucker Exchange (Dx) sponsored by the Drucker Institute. The Drucker Exchange (the Dx) is a platform for bettering society through effective management and responsible leadership. It is produced by the Drucker Institute, a think tank and action tank based at Claremont Graduate University that was established to advance the ideas and ideals of Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management.
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“When a new venture does succeed, more often than not it is in a market other than the one it was originally intended to serve, with products or services not quite those with which it had set out, bought in large part by customers it did not even think of when it started, and used for a host of purposes besides the ones for which the products were first designed. If a new venture does not anticipate this, organizing itself to take advantage of the unexpected and unseen markets; if it is not totally market-focused, if not market-driven, then it will succeed only in creating an opportunity for a competitor.” – Peter F. Drucker
Peter Drucker thought the unexpected event, success or failure, was one of the most important sources of innovation. I love the story behind the development by 3M of Post-it notes. We discuss it in our book Drucker’s Lost Art of Management: Peter Drucker’s Timeless Vision for Building Effective Organizations, published by McGraw-Hill (2011), because of its power to illustrate one of Drucker’s most important sources of innovation. He urges us to systematically look for opportunities in unexpected successes and failures.
In 1970 Spencer Silver, a 3M researcher, was trying to invent a strong adhesive product but found that the one he had been working on was too weak for its intended use.Meanwhile, in 1974, his associate, Arthur Fry, was trying to keep his place in his hymnal at church and the pieces of paper he used as placeholders for various hymns were always falling out leading to frustration and time waste. So, he remembered his colleague Silver’s failed attempt to develop a strong adhesive and was able to retrieve some of the material and try it out in his hymnal. While it was too weak for Silver’s use, it was perfect for Fry’s. He could insert it and pull it off a page and then re-insert it on another page. Wondering if he had a successful product, Fry received permission to carry out a low-cost probe within 3M, and then he sent it to the CEO of the company. Then it went to major CEOs around the country as part of a market research effort. When the results came back positive, 3M launched the Post-it note commercially.
Now there are Post-it note dispensers, tabs, flags, highlighters, etc. The Post-it note became one of the most successful office product lines in business history. All this from an unexpected failure! Here is Drucker’s advice that I have found useful: Read The Wall Street Journal or The Economist from cover to cover (easier now to do online). If you find your nose “twitching” over something you did not expect, make note of it [on a Post-it?] and follow it up from time to time. [Isaac Asimov once observed, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That's funny’...”] You may have discovered a potential innovation from the unexpected news event. The early blogs on The Daily Drucker were frequently from investors looking for investment opportunities. No one had targeted investors with that book, but it was a heck of an idea. An unexpected market. If you try to innovate and fail, think of other markets for your products or services. You may be surprised. Good luck!
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Joseph A. Maciariello is the Horton Professor of Management & Director of Research and Education, The Drucker Institute. You can contact him directly at email@example.com.