HBR: The Renaissance We Need in Business Education

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Having taught at five business schools over several decades and served as Dean of two, I have come to a conclusion: The educational institutions where our future business leaders are being trained must be recalibrated and transformed dramatically.

Business education today is anachronistic in both how it is conducted and what its content focuses on. Our brick institutions have in no way caught up with what today’s technologies make possible in terms of virtual learning and individualized, customized instruction. More importantly, business education needs to evolve once again, revising its goals to educate leaders of the future who have a new set of skills: sustainable global thinking, entrepreneurial and innovative talents, and decision-making based on practical wisdom.

Historically, business schools have so far been through two waves. As originally conceived, they were institutions of practical education. In the late 19th and early 20th century, successful businessmen like Joseph Wharton

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Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace — Book Reveiw

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace by Nikil Saval is a good interesting book. I like the way he intertwines the social aspects and history of office spaces. He uses novels from different time periods to give you the social background. Below is an excerpt about “knowledge workers.”

“Knowledge Workers”Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

Like McGregor, Drucker was a figure who inadvertently harmonized the impulses of the nascent counterculture with the outwardly stuffy world of business, Though hardly countercultural himself, Drucker’sconcepts would prove useful to people in later years who wanted to make the office hospitable to the wilder world outside it. Over the course of the 1960s, Drucker came to expound one of the notions that’ would make him famous: the idea that a swelling group of workers was becoming central to the economy. They were middle-class employees who would never identify themselves with the “proletariat,” nor, in fact, with management. They were technical and professional workers who controlled what Drucker believed was becoming the most important resource of all: knowledge. Calling them “knowledge workers” — a term he coined in 1962 at the same time as, but independently of, another social theorist, Fritz Machlup – Drucker saw them as occupying a historic role in the making of a responsible society,

In Drucker’s view, what was changing about work was the increasing need to apply knowledge to work. Knowledge as such, in the intellectual sense, was different. The mathematical formulas and theorems that existed in books were a form of knowledge useful to intellectual history, but mathematics as applied to, say, a space program was “knowledge work.” So, too, did advertising and marketing and various other new professions require the mental labor of workers, applying what they knew from various disciplines to the techniques of mass persuasion. It was one thing to be an expert in Freud or Newton in a university; another to use the insights of Freud to sell a toothbrush or to use Newton to build a ballistic missile capable of striking the Soviet Union.

Knowledge work itself came from a historic shift, one that Drucker, like so many, traced to Frederick Taylor. But his vision of the history was marked by a curious and useful elision. In Drucker’s account, Taylor came upon a working world characterized by rote, nearly mindless, activity. It wasn’t planned so much as willed: the workers simply worked harder rather than “smarter.” Until Taylor, that is: “Taylor, for the first time in history, looked at work itself as deserving the attention of an educated man.” Drucker’s subsequent description of the insensate labor of unskilled men in factories draws almost entirely from Taylor’s portrait of them–and accordingly condescends to their abilities to plan and organize work. In actual fact, it wasn’t so. Before Taylor, work was already organized by teams of factory workers, who in large part had control over how they worked. The knowledge they applied to work was largely “tacit” in nature, agreed upon among the workers themselves and developed through a silent or coded language, rather than “explicit” (to borrow a famous definition from the sociologist Michael Polanyi). What Taylor sought in particular– indeed, what constituted his signal obsession– was to extract this tacit knowledge from the workers and install it in another set of people, the “industrial engineers.” Drucker called them “the prototype of all modern ‘knowledge workers’ “– a plausible assumption but one that excised the tremendous amount of knowledge that already existed in the work process. (Taylor lamented that after being taught “the one best way,” workers had a stubborn tendency to return to their own ways of working.) It was a useful fiction, and a common one, that helped to uphold a new class of technicians and professionals as the masters of an ever more progressive society, dependent on the application of knowledge to work. For the knowledge worker, Drucker held, was not simply a freelance professional but rather “the successor to the employee of yesterday, the manual worker, skilled or unskilled.”

What Made a Great Leader in 1776

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

The ordinarily decisive George Washington was paralyzed by indecision. It was the summer of 1776, and the Continental Army was being routed by the British in New York. Sick from dysentery and smallpox, 20 percent of Washington’s forces were in no condition to fight.

Militia units were deserting in droves. General Washington had exhausted himself riding up and down the lines on Brooklyn Heights, attempting to rally dispirited troops. Prudence dictated retreat – to preserve the hope of fighting another day. At the same time, though, Washington viewed any defeat as damage to his reputation and a stain on his honor.

There are any number of good reasons to read Joseph J. Ellis’s splendid little book, Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence. Ellis is a wonderful storyteller. His prose is lucid and succinct. Revolutionary Summer is a riveting exposition of exploded myths and excruciating dilemmas. For one thing, Washington —…

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TMN: Perk Up Your Productivity

Below is blog post from Time Management Ninja. How do you perk up your productivity when it doesn’t want to get going?

Perk Up Your Productivity

Some days, getting your productivity jump started can be a challenge.

Maybe your energy level is down. Or perhaps, you are just overwhelmed with what you should be doing right now.

You need something to boost your motivation and quick.

“To perk up your productivity, get yourself in motion and the momentum will follow. ”

Here some tips to get your productivity going when it doesn’t want to cooperate.

21 Ways to Perk up Your Productivity:

  1. Get enough sleep – Your body can’t function at its peak without enough rest. Each of us needs a different amount of sleep, make sure you listen to your body clock.
  2. Grab some caffeine – Kick it up with some coffee or Red Bull. A little caffeine can go a long way.
  3. Get an early morning workout – Working out first thing in the morning can pump up your energy level all day long.
  4. Check something off your list – Crossing off a completed item on your list just feels good. That’s why we add things to our list that we have already completed… just to cross them off! Get your momentum going with some early completed todos.
  5. Talk about something you are passionate about – Nothing gets your mind going like talking about a topic you are passionate about. It doesn’t matter the topic as long as it gets you excited and your brain working.
  6. Write in your success journal – Write a few positive things in your journal from the previous day. Writing about success drives the desire for more success.
  7. Breathe deeply – Get some oxygen to your brain by breathing deeply 10 times. This is a conscious exercise and is more difficult than it sounds. Most people get distracted before reaching 10 deep breaths.
  8. Build some momentum – Once your productivity is in motion, it will continue build. What tasks can you complete now to build your productivity momentum?
  9. Make a plan – Feeling overwhelmed by how much you need to do? Take a few minutes to formulate your plan of attack. Groom your todo list and prioritize your work.
  10. Listen to your favorite music – Always keep your favorite music with you. (This is not difficult with your smartphone and services like Spotify). When you need a boost, pull out those headphones and listen to your favorite power song.
  11. Take a break – You can concentrate and focus on the same work for only so long. Make sure you take a break to reset and recharge before diving back in to the task at hand.
  12. Get up and go for a walk – Instead of sitting in your chair for hours on end, get your body up and moving. A short walk, whether around the building or down the hall, can get your body moving again.
  13. Positive attitude – When your attitude is low, so is your energy. Choose a positive attitude and the productivity will follow. Even the worst of tasks can be improved with a shift in attitude.
  14. Read a motivational quote or passage – When you need a pick up, read your favorite motivational quotes or writings. I keep mine in Evernote so that they are always handy.
  15. Talk to someone who motivates you – Have a quick conversation with someone who always lifts your mood. Steer clear of the negative ones, and have a quick chat with someone who always has a good attitude.
  16. Send a quick text to a loved one – Tell someone you are thinking of them. Your message will lift both of your energy levels.
  17. Do your hobby – Everyone needs a hobby. Spend a few minutes on yours. Let your passion for your hobby drive productivity in all areas on your life.
  18. Finish a task to done - Many things started and none done doesn’t build your energy, rather it makes you feel like you are floundering. Make sure you complete tasks all the way to done in order to build your confidence level.
  19. Get ahead of a deadline – Driving ahead of a deadline gets your energy going. It puts you in control, and will motivate you to stay ahead of your work.
  20. Do something from the back burner – What has been on your list for a long time? Get that old task off your list so you can concentrate on moving forward.
  21. Get some more caffeine – …just don’t overdo it.

Perk Up Your Productivity

When you need a boost, try one or more of these quick tips to perk up your productivity.

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple action to get your productivity back in motion.

Question: How do you perk up your productivity when it doesn’t want to get going?

 

Three Ways to Actually Engage Employees

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Nobody washes a rental car.

People will go the extra mile only if they feel they have ownership. It’s much the same in the workplace. Employees who take ownership of their work — and who feel that what they are doing matters — are far more likely than others to feel engaged on the job.

You can have great talent that is appropriately teamed. You can eliminate structural barriers to effective collaboration, and you can design meetings and other interactions so that people can actually get things done. But if your company’s employees don’t have a sense of ownership and engagement, all the other steps won’t make much difference. By the same token, if you can increase the average level of engagement in your organization, you will likely see the productivity of your entire workforce increase.

How powerful is engagement? Look at DaVita, a market leader in providing dialysis…

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The Rise of the Hands-On Dad

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

If you’re a dad who works, this is a good time to celebrate. Not only because it’s Fathers’ Day, but because caring about fathers and their needs is no longer a touchy-feely, Phil Donahue kind of thing. Businesses, researchers, the media, and all manner of celebrities have been throwing the spotlight on men who enjoy full lives honoring the importance of both work and family.

Let’s start with the pioneering companies now offering generous paid parental leave to new dads — firms such as Yahoo (8 weeks), PwC (12-14 weeks), and Bank of America (12 weeks). Deloitte and other leading companies support dads with informational resources and parenting groups.  And many other companies are paying much more attention to men’s issues in their diversity and work-life programs, even if they haven’t yet fully articulated robust policies for dads.  These companies are not addressing working dads’ concerns because they want to be…

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Teach Someone a Lesson — Agile Selling

Teaching is a very important skill needed to advance your career. Do you offer a teaching lesson every week? Below is an excerpt from Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today’s Ever-Changing Sales World by Jill Konrath.

Teach Someone a Lesson

Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today's Ever-Changing Sales World

Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today’s Ever-Changing Sales World

Maybe it’s time you teach someone a lesson. Hey-I’m not talking about being vindictive or seeking revenge! There may be some people who elicit that feeling in you, but we’re not going to go there. Instead, we’re going to focus on a super simple but highly effective strategy with big payback for you: teaching others in order to solidify your own knowledge.

The first time I ever trained someone else was early in my first year of sales. My boss, Diane, instructed me to go on a sales can with Alice, a trainee who had uncovered a really good sales opportunity while prospecting. As a newbie, it was highly unlikely that she’d close the deal without assistance. Diane asked me to show Alice what to do and to make sure we got the business.

Aargh! I was not ready for that. I was still fairly new myself, plus I didn’t know much about the other vendors. But clearly coming in second was not an option. For the next two days, I immersed myself in learning everything I could about the other two competitors. I studied how they stacked up against us. I talked to experienced reps to find out about pricing. Finally, planned out how I’d engage the prospect in a conversation that made us the obvious choice.

Before we went to the meeting, I reviewed everything with Alice. I outlined competitive strengths and weaknesses. I overviewed our plan for the meeting. I answered her questions to the best of my knowledge. With that prep, Alice and I went to the prospect’s office. Two hours later, we walked out with a signed contract. I was never so relieved in my whole life.

Here’s what closed that deal: I took a crash course in two competitors and became an overnight expert. In order to teach Alice, I had to really think through my meeting strategy step-by-step. Then I had to figure out how to explain to her what I was going to do in the meeting and why. Because I wanted to look good in front of Alice, my boss, and the prospect, I actually leapfrogged in my own sales development.

It seems strange to recommend teaching others while you’re still learning yourself. After all, we so quickly defer to the experts. However, the upside can be huge. As the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote nearly two thousand years ago, “By teaching, we learn.”

Annie Murphy Paul, author of Brilliant: The New Science of Smart writes about a program at the University of Pennsylvania in which students are responsible for teaching a specific subject to a computerized character. She writes, ”As they prepare to teach, they organize their knowledge, improving their own understanding and recall.” Doing this helps them find gaps in their own learning too, and they’re more motivated to master the material.

That’s exactly what happened to me. Teaching really challenged me to learn quickly. I felt really good about it. Alice learned. I got better. Consequently, we got the order that day.

After Alice, I had a string of trainees at Xerox. Each one increased my skill level. I became a conscious competent about what I was doing. In other words, I knew what worked, but it wasn’t second nature to me yet. Doing it right required me to pay close attention to all the steps involved. By teaching, I accelerated my learning significantly.

To this day, I teach so I can learn. You might want to give it a try. Think about what you really want to (or need to) learn about in more depth right now. What is it? Who could you teach it to? It doesn’t have to be people in your own company. Get creative. But most of all start teaching so you learn faster.