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Influence People by Leveraging the Brain’s Laziness

Discussions of influence are almost always focused on messages and information, the assumption being that the best route to drive people’s actions is to get them to understand the course of action that is best for them and then to pursue it. But another stream of work on influence has also noticed that the environment affects people’s actions. Over the past decade, proponents of the work described in Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have focused on small changes that can be made to the environment that have a big effect on behavior. The classic example from this work is that changing the default option from opting in to a retirement program to opting out of one can have a significant affect on how much people save. In all of this work, though, there is still an assumption that the environment is treated as a reflec....
Capture Your Creativity with a Digital Notebook

When we talk about the problem of driving innovation, we often focus on how to foster creative thinking. But much of the time, the challenge isn’t that we lack creativity — it’s that we fail to capture the bursts of inspiration we do have, or fail to recall our great ideas in the moments and contexts where they can actually be useful. Once you have the right system for capturing your moments of inspiration, and for finding that inspiration when you need it, you can create a virtuous circle in which inspiration fuels inspiration. I first got serious about capturing my own moments of inspiration in my early twenties, when a friend encouraged me to start writing down what he called my “Alex ideas” — mainly because he was tired of having to listen to them, I suspect. This was back in the prehis....
How to Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Power a Career Transition

Kenneth Andersson Are you raring to change careers? Break into a whole new line of work that makes you leap out of bed, happy to go to work every day? Parlay personal passions into professional endeavors? Or focus on a different clientele, type of product, or service? We all know the power of LinkedIn for job hunting and networking. But how do we use it to help change careers—to make sure we’re found by the right recruiters, hiring managers, colleagues—not ones from our past, but from our future careers? It’s tempting to create an “everything under the sink” profile that makes you look qualified for both the job you have and the one you want or for a variety of new functions, industries, or roles. But that’ll just confuse your readers and send them running—to others’ LinkedIn pages.....
Breaking the Death Grip of Legacy Technologies

Technologies like 3-D printing, robotics, advanced motion controls, and new methods for continuous manufacturing hold great potential for improving how companies design and build products to better serve customers. But if the past is any indicator, many established firms will be slow to adjust because of a formidable obstacle: legacy assets and capabilities that they are reluctant to abandon. Why are older incumbent firms slow to adopt new technologies even when the economic or strategic benefits are clear? The literature on this subject is enormous. Much of the early work focused on the adoption rate of new technologies following an S-curve, with some users going early, a lot in the middle, and some following late. These models assume that it takes a while for companies to find out about new technology and, once they do, for t....
How the Navy SEALs Train for Leadership Excellence

Almost every world-class, high-performance organization takes training and education seriously. But Navy SEALs go uncomfortably beyond. They’re obsessive and obsessed. They are arguably the best in the world at what they do. Their dedication to relentless training and intensive preparation, however, is utterly alien to the overwhelming majority of businesses and professional enterprises worldwide. That’s important, not because I think MBAs should be more like SEALS—I don’t—but because real-world excellence requires more than commitment to educational achievement. As an educator, I fear world-class business schools and high-performance businesses overinvest in “education” and dramatically underinvest in “training.” Human capital champions in higher education and industry typically priz....
Get Your Message Across to a Skeptical Audience

Persuading decision makers that your proposals and recommendations are worthy of their time and attention is a tough challenge – even for the most experienced and admired experts. So what should you do if you find yourself having to persuade an audience that doesn’t know about – or is even skeptical of – your expertise and experience? Persuasion researchers know that decision-makers will often place their faith less in what is being said, and more in who is saying it. For good reason–following a trusted authority often reduces feelings of uncertainty. In today’s constantly changing business environment, it’s increasingly the messenger that carries sway, not the message. Therefore, it’s crucial that you convince your audience you have the necessary expertise to make a recommendation – ....
What Africa’s Leaders Have Learned About Facing Huge Challenges

There is a sea change going on in African leadership. Over the past decade, six of the fastest growing economies in the world have been African. Since 2000, for example, Rwanda has racked up average annual GDP growth in excess of 8%—exceeding 12% during some quarters of the Great Recession. If this continues, Rwanda will become a middle-income country by 2020. This is remarkable given that the country was devastated by genocide a decade earlier. Liberia is also a standout—averaging over 8% GDP growth in the past five years, and over 10% in the past year in spite of the crippling influence of Ebola in the region. A story behind the story of Africa’s growth is the influence of a remarkable organization called the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), launched by former UK Prime Minister To....
The Health Care Industry Needs to Start Taking Women Seriously

What is the greatest impediment preventing Americans from getting good health care? Surprisingly, it’s not the cost of care. Instead, according to new research from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), the fundamental issue is the health care industry’s failure to develop a nuanced understanding of, and commitment to, women as consumers and decision makers. According to our report The Power of the Purse: Engaging Women Decision Makers for Healthy Outcomes, which was based on a multi-market survey of 9,218 respondents in the U.S., UK, Germany, Japan, and Brazil, health care consumers are overwhelmingly female and have huge unmet needs. For women, time is at a premium — 77% don’t do what they know they should do to stay healthy because, according to 62%, they lack the time. Women are swimming in health informat....
Despite What Zappos Says, Middle Managers Still Matter

Middle managers have not fared well. Their ranks have been decimated in many organizations, and those that have survived are often perceived as powerless or, worse, as bureaucratic sticks-in-the-mud. This is not fair and it’s flat-out wrong. Take what’s happening with Zappos at the moment. Much has been written about their adoption of a self-management system—holacracy—with no job titles and zero managers. That move earlier this month saw 14% of their workforce choose to leave the retailer. While I applaud their effort to break down unnecessary walls, getting rid of managers is not the answer. Middle managers are increasingly vital to an organization’s success, though for different reasons than in the past. In the conventional hierarchical organization, middle managers used to be instrumental for controlling....
What Is Management Research Actually Good For?

San Jose, California, is home to one of the most peculiar structures ever built: the Winchester Mystery House, a 160-room Victorian mansion that includes 40 bedrooms, two ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, gold and silver chandeliers, parquet floors, and other high-end appointments. It features a number of architectural details that serve no purpose: doorways that open onto walls, labyrinthine hallways that lead nowhere, and stairways that rise only to a ceiling. According to legend, Sarah Winchester, the extremely wealthy widow of the founder of the Winchester rifle company, was told by a spiritual medium that she would be haunted by the ghosts of the people killed by her husband’s rifles unless she built a house to appease the spirits. Construction began in 1884 and by some accounts continued around the clock until her death in 1922. Th....
An Organization-Wide Approach to Good Decision Making

Behavioral economists and psychologists have uncovered scores of biases that undermine good decision-making. And, along with management experts, they have provided helpful tips that decision-makers can use to try to correct for those biases. But a comprehensive framework for achieving quality decision-making throughout an organization is still rare — almost three-quarters of companies have no formal corporate-wide approach to making major, complex decisions. Without a proven, organization-wide approach, there may be, at best, isolated pockets of high-quality decision-making where individual leaders have elected to take a rigorous, transparent approach. Otherwise, the organization is at the mercy of the biggest bias of all: the perception that it is good at making decisions. With an organization-wide approach you can increase the ....
How People Will Use AI to Do Their Jobs Better

We all know that computers can sometimes automate work, taking jobs away from humans. But it can augment human workers as well, making them more effective. In our ongoing research, we’ve found that so far augmentation is far more common, even in the emerging area of “cognitive computing,” in which machines can sense, comprehend, and even act on their own. In this sense, cognitive computing is more about “Person and Machine” than “Person versus Machine.” But our view grows out of our observations of organizational applications available today. What about in the future? For well-informed prognostication, it’s helpful to turn to the brain trust at Edge.org. Each year, Edge.org publishes essays from thinkers, scholars, and researchers on a question related to a hot topic in public and academic ....
A Playbook for Making America More Entrepreneurial

Americans have long believed in the importance of entrepreneurs to the health of our economy. We see ourselves as risk-takers and innovators. Today more than ever, the entrepreneur is celebrated, failure is accepted as a cost of doing business, and starting your own company is seen as a path to achieving the American Dream. Although it’s difficult to measure directly, entrepreneurship is understood to be a way to a middle class life. In an economy where traditional manufacturing jobs have gone offshore, and globalization and technology have put pressure on U.S. wages, small businesses may be an even more critical pathway than ever to mobility and opportunity – not just for the business owner, but also for those who fill the jobs that business creates. Americans understand this, but do their economic policymakers? Even in this....
Why Special Ops Stopped Relying So Much on Top-Down Leadership

When Fredrick Winslow Taylor designed the world’s first modern assembly line and forever changed industry, persuasion was the last thing on his mind. Taylor believed assembly line workers simply needed clear direction on how to execute prescribed tasks. His belief, which manifested in both physical design and organizational structures during the decades that followed, was that the human factor should be removed from the production equation to the greatest extent possible. Stopwatch and measuring tape in hand, Taylor designed and advocated for systems that maximized efficiency and predictability through vertical integration and top-down control. And with that, the 20th century’s great quest for bureaucratic efficiency began. Taylor’s approach, and the hierarchical models that it created, were the dominant force of the ....
Fixing the Leadership Gap in Southeast Asia

As China’s growth slows, countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are poised to gain a greater share of global trade. Combined, the 10 ASEAN member states — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — are projected to be the fourth-largest global economy by 2050. But if ASEAN businesses are going to capitalize on this new scale, they must contend with a scarcity of available leadership talent in the region. With more than 600 million people who speak multiple languages and dialects and represent a multitude of cultures, the ASEAN region is a complex place to do business. Leaders must grapple with a host of societal, cultural, and religious differences among each country’s distinct ethnic groups. Executives who can manage effective....
The Persuasiveness of a Chart Depends on the Reader, Not Just the Chart

Nicholas Blechman “I’ll believe it when I see it,” is a hackneyed idiom, but it sticks because it happens to be mostly true. It’s one of the reasons why data visualization is emerging as a powerful information force in the crowded, intensely contested world of social media. It’s why, during last year’s State of the Union, the president live-tweeted charts to illustrate the points he was making in his speech. It’s why Ezra Klein publishes stories that deign to suggest they can explain something as vast as the Roman empire with a few dozen maps. When we want to be persuasive, we are more effective if we buffer our case with visuals like charts and graphs. For example, I can tell you that the United States incarcerates five times as many people as most nations despite having similar crime rates. I....
6 Myths About Empowering Employees

When Dr. Stephen R. Covey visited the nuclear powered submarine I commanded, the USS Santa Fe, he told me it was the “most empowering workplace he’d ever seen.” It was a bit ironic for me, because I’m sour on the word empowerment and I’m sour on empowerment programs. To me, saying we need an empowerment program is like saying we need a swimming program. The implication is that swimming isn’t a natural occurring behavior for our people. So, what we are saying when we say we need an empowerment program is that the fundamental way we run our organization is dis-empowering, or is it de-empowering? The solution isn’t a “program.” The solution is to change the fundamental way your organization is designed and managed so that people can exercise the natural power that comes from being a huma....
How to Work with People Who Aren’t Good at Working with People

Twenty five years after the term “emotional intelligence” was first introduced by academics, thousands of independent scientific studies have highlighted the importance of managing your own and others’ emotions in relation to career success, job performance, entrepreneurship, and leadership. But research suggests that people with low EQ, as emotional intelligence is often called, may not realize what important skills they lack. Indeed, studies have shown that all of us are better at evaluating others’ EQ than judging our own, but that this is especially true when we have low EQ: because EQ also includes the capacity for self-knowledge. Although lower EQ people are generally less rewarding to deal with — they are grumpier, more negative, and more erratic than average — there will be many circumstances w....
What Stitch Fix Figured Out About Mass Customization

Brick and mortar retail experiences have barely changed in decades. Take fashion as an example. You travel to a store, select clothing from a mind-boggling array of choices, try on items in an ill-lit fitting room, stand in line to make a purchase, and if it doesn’t work out, go back to the store and stand in line once again to return the items. You may or may not have been assisted by a person who could theoretically provide a highly personal experience, but probably didn’t. While still an overwhelming majority of our shopping transactions take place this way (brick and mortar shopping experiences are still over 90% of total transactions), this traditional experience isn’t providing what more of today’s consumers want: personalized experiences at lower costs, reduced complexity through curation, and the desire to....
Traveling the World Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

Photo by Andrew Nguyen After college, I took an unconventional career path. No two-year contract with a bank or consulting firm, no paralegal work, not even a stint on my parents’ couch. I took a contract to teach English in China for a month and decided I’d figure out the rest along the way. Over the next five years, I lived and worked my way through Mongolia, Russia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey. I taught English, worked as a freelance journalist, wrote analysis for a consulting firm, and threw parties to bring together the fascinating people I met along the way. Friends openly wondered if I’d ever get back on the career path after “disappearing” for years. What they—and I, for that matter—didn’t realize then is that I was well on my way along my career path ....
How to Handle Shared Grief at Work

Years ago, I worked in a consulting firm that specialized in executive coaching, change management, and outplacement counseling. My colleagues and I regularly helped others deal with the loss and grief they experienced when a job, a particular role, or an entire organization ended. We were good at it and our executive director encouraged us to always give our clients our best efforts to support them through these rocky times. He was a top-notch boss — he supplied all the resources we needed and removed any roadblocks that stood in the way of effectively helping others acknowledge their grief and move forward. Then the tables were turned when our esteemed boss was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The other members of his team and I then needed to acknowledge our own sadness and to prepare for the loss of our dear co....
The Surprising Persuasiveness of a Sticky Note

Imagine that you really need to convince someone to do something, such as following through on a task. You might be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to get someone to comply with your request is through a tiny nuance that adds a personal touch—attaching a sticky note. A brilliant set of experiments by Randy Garner at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville found that a) adding a personal touch, and b) making someone feel like you’re asking a favor of them (and not just anyone) can bring about impressive results when done in tandem. The goal of Garner’s experiments was to see what was necessary to generate compliance in completing surveys—which are often quite lengthy and tedious—by fellow professors at the university, using only interoffice mail as the conduit of communication. The wild c....
The Problem with Part-Time Work Is That It’s Rarely Part-Time

A woman wants to return to work after maternity leave but can’t quite stomach putting in the hours she did before. So she asks her boss for what seems like the best of both worlds: a part-time role. In a 2012 Pew Research Center survey of moms, nearly half thought such a scenario would be ideal, while significantly lower percentages said they would prefer to stay at home or work full time. But are part-time jobs really so perfect? Not according to research I conducted for my forthcoming book, I Know How She Does It. After using time-diary studies to track 1,001 days in the lives of women who earn six figures and also have kids, I found that many of those on official part-time schedules work well outside the bounds of them. Most put in more than 35 hours per week. One part-time consultant logged 47 hours one week and 53 hours duri....
Getting More Women into Senior Management

In my first job out of college, in the late 70s, I was the only woman on the manufacturing floor as a production manager at General Motors. It didn’t take long to realize that I should have asked a few more questions during my job interview. I knew I was in for a challenge the first day I walked into the plant, and everything and everyone stopped. It was like one of those hushed movie moments. Everyone stared at me. At first I thought there was something wrong with my appearance, but soon realized I was the first and only woman who stepped on the production floor for GM who served in a management role. My second day on the job, someone started a fire in my wastebasket. Later that same day, someone sabotaged all the parts that were coming down the assembly line in my area. I’d taken the job because I knew it would be challen....
When Should You Fire a “Good Enough” Employee?

Craig*, a VP of inventory for a food packaging company, had always been a high performer. He had been with the company three years, had a reputation for taking an innovative approach, and had good relationships with his team. Craig’s boss, Louise*, had come to count on Craig for his expertise and experience. During a factory move, however, Craig began to disappoint. He took many personal days during the move, and Louise found herself stretched thin covering for him. To add fuel to the fire, when Craig was asked to onboard several new employees, he pointed to a lack of HR leadership as an excuse for delaying the process indefinitely. So was Craig’s performance an anomaly or a canary in the coal mine? After giving Craig direct feedback, Louise watched in dismay as he failed to take the initiative she had hoped for. Now she was ....

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
  

In celebration of women role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), STEMconnectortm unveils in hard copy and online its inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM publicatin. The heroines included in 100 Women Leaders in STEM share stories about their commitment to serving as mentors and sponsors of those who are next in the stem jobs pipline.
           
Mclean, VA - Technalink, Inc. is excited to announce that Alka Dhillon, Founder & Chief Executive Officer has been selected as a winner for the 2012 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement Award Presented by SmartCEO.
    
Alka Dhillon, Founder and CEO, Technalink (McLean,VA) Recognized as one of the leading female CEOs in the Washington, DC, area, Ms. Dhillon is known for her irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community.

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