Global Growth, Emotional Awareness & Productivity

KaizenBiz , Twitter chat, One of the recent introductions to the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz in 2013 has been the “Bring Your Own Headline” discussion. This conversation is usually much more wide ranging and even better when someone from the KaizenBiz community shares something that caught their attention. Have you come across any interesting posts or new stories that make you stop and think? This week, we are going to move from topic to topic and see what big ideas are popping up. So, check out these stories and bring your own this Friday to the live Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am.

Better global economy?

There have been glimmers from regional economies that growth is occurring. Ireland exited the bailout last week and other parts of the Eurozone are showing fractional improvement. The Japanese economy is looking better. While economists are more positive, they are not saying it’s entirely bullish.

What observations have you made regarding the economy where you are located?

How are different sectors responding to the economic news?

What is same/different about this economic recovery?

 Being able to read organization’s emotions can improve odds of success?

There are probably leaders all over the world who just don’t get “it.” In the US, President Obama’s approval rating and the exit of Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft are good examples of how that emotional stuff can interfere with any strategic plan, no matter how well thought out or designed it might be. As Quy Huy, INSEAD Associate Professor of Strategy and Director of the Strategy Execution Programme, wrote in his post,  many executives “fail to…take into account the hidden traps related to soft human factors, including the collective emotions of middle managers and others who influence the process of strategy execution and have a critical impact on the outcomes.”

Steve Tobak recommends in his Inc post that we should ignore emotional intelligence because it is a business fad. (Although this fad seems to be going on for decades now) He cites a list of leaders who are not known for being kind or compassionate but their companies are successful. Tobak and many others show an oversimplification in their understanding of emotional intelligence. It still doesn’t answer why leaders ignore the zeigeist of their company while following the strategic plan. Quy Huy’s point about ignoring emotions reminds us that people will express in their behavior their willingness to execute or derail any plan.

What fosters the disconnect between upper management, middle management and the workers?

While models like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are touted as successful examples, why do people continue to fail to execute strategic plans?

Does an emotionally intelligent leader have to seem “nice” or can there be other expressions of awareness?


We all have lots to do. As my good friend, Kneale Mann reminds me, we all have the same 24 hours each day as everyone else (including all those famous people). There are always posts telling us what highly successful (read “highly productive”) people do with their day. There are reports that our productivity rises or falls depending on where, when and how we do our work. However, it seems to boil down to our daily choices and habits.

One of these habits has to do with email. In an interesting post on Fast Company, Laura Vanderkam discusses the pros and cons of checking email first thing in the morning. Reading and responding to email can certainly use up time we meant for other activities. MIndset certainly plays a role in this. Seth Godin suggests that we become productive when we are “non-productivity and deciding to do something that matters, right now.”

How is productivity different from efficiency?

What expectations do people have about their workload or daily schedule?

How do we buy into the idea that we are so busy that our productivity is hampered?

Please join us Friday, December 20, 2013 on the Twittter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we take a look at these and other topics. Bring your own suggestions and a question.






Where Is Business Going in 2014?

Business trends of 2014, robotics, video, social business, KaizenBizAs one year ends, it is always interesting to see what people anticipate coming in the next year. On LinkedIn, there is an interesting group of posts from business thinkers and leaders giving their suggestions about what we might see. As you might expect, some of the trends are built on technology or ideas started in earlier years while others are potentially new ways of engaging with the world. The interesting thing to discover over 2014 will whether these trends are more like an unfolding or truly transformative.

What is coming next?

On our Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz and elsewhere, there has been so much talk about the uncertainty and rapid change which has made many business owners and executives reluctant to invest, hire or embark on growth projects. There is always that optimism that somehow things will be more understandable or predictable in a new year. It may be that 2014 might be an interesting year as people and companies decide to take action because sitting still will leave them too far behind.

Here are some of the trends and ideas that could gain traction in 2014:

  • 3D Printing- This one seems pretty obvious since there is a great deal of excitement around 3D printing. Mike Michalowicz, CEO of the Provendus Group writes in OPEN Forum that these printers will come down in price and make it easier for companies to produce on demand. There are some thinkers who believe that this will change manufacturing and even allow for greater customizing of products.
  • Robotics- This has been an interesting area over the years and as Verne Harnish writes on CNN Money that more widespread use of robots will reduce headcount in manufacturing and increase productivity.
  • Video- This trend seemed to emerge in 2013 but is becoming more favored. Interesting statistics about how and what people view. Google and search engines appear to be giving more weight to video content
  • Emerging markets- While the BRIC nations and other emerging markets are slowing, an EY report and Barron’s suggest that these might be places of growth later in 2014. In fact, there is some discussion that people should watch Indonesia and Africa.
  • Social business- With the IPO of Twitter in late 2013 and the ongoing public performance of Facebook, social business has shown it can be more than a fad. According to Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay and author of The Facebook Era, social business will cement itself as a tool that all companies use and support the relational trend in marketing and sales.

 Where do you think business is going in 2014?

Whether you agree with the writers of the LinkedIn 2014 predictions or the other posts cited here, it is always interesting to stop and see what is emerging (or even lurking) in the months ahead. And there are lots more predictions about the future of marketing, leadership, the workplace, the global economy and many other aspects of business.

What do you see staying the same? Changing? Or simply being brand new? Join us this Friday, December 6, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we peer into the future of 2014.

What trends of 2013 surprised you?

What didn’t happen in 2013?

Which 2014 business trends are expanding on ideas or trends from 2013?

What is the most unusual 2014 business trend that you have heard?

What business trends for 2014 do you see gaining traction?



Using Big Data Without Harming Your Corporate Culture

Big Data, corporate culture, Jean Ross, There is a tendency to look at certain things as if they are the Answer. Big Data has that temptation with its flood of details about customers, competition, industry and even employees. But there is that flood which makes evaluating and using the data a challenge for most organizations. In a MIT Sloan Management Review post, Michael Fitzgerald noted that “there is 2.5 exabytes of data every two days.” With so much available to actually see behaviors, trends and other information , Big Data is part of the everyday practice for many managers and employees to use. The corporate culture is expressed through how questions are asked, who uses the data and the source(s) of the data.

Jean Ross’ perspective

In an interview in MIT Sloan Management Review, Jean Ross (director and principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research), outlined 3 possible cultures that organizations adopt.

  • Culture of heroics- This is described as responding to an unhappy customer or taking on extra tasks by doing above and beyond what is expected to satisfy someone.
  • Emphasis of discipline around processes- This culture uses “template approaches to data — with common processes, reuse of components, and a single face presented to customers and the general public alike.”
  • Data smart culture- Uses evidenced-based management and decentralizes decision-making

These models seem benevolent enough.  After all, it is very satisfying to working with organizations who respond well and are predictable.

But worth a closer look and maybe some deeper reflection

The different cultures put forth by Ross are attractive on the surface. Like may tools, it’s all about application. In a post on the HBR Blog Network, Herminia Ibarra wrote about how Big Data might skew finding the best talent for employment. Much like the Moneyball statistics used in baseball for finding the right player for a team, there is a lot of “people statistics” that can be used to determine if a candidate is right for an organization. Between mining for information including who might be enrolled in online courses to how people perform while playing video games, many organizations believe they can identify the most promising high-potential employees and leaders. However, there are things that may be missed. According to Ibarra, many women and minorities do not engage with gaming or online courses and this could lead to unintended exclusion. This example brings up the question that there may be other variables or even intangibles (a human quality that is not easily measured) that Big Data simply cannot report. This creates a potential trap that the data is actually flawed and therefore potentially useless.

Even unintended exclusions can weaken a culture

There are a couple of possible missed opportunities when evaluating Big Data. The first one is that there is tendency to look only at information that fits our mindset. This is known as confirmation bias. The second is that analysts might not have the information they think they have. Ibarra’s post certainly points out how segments of the greater society may not even be represented or marginally represented in the data. And there is also the fact that there is a lot of data that needs to be analyzed, disseminated and fit into both strategic and operational plans. These missed opportunities are not necessarily borne of malevolence but they create harm by limiting how an organization’s culture can nurture people’s development or serve their customers.

Corporate cultures are created by the leaders and the people who inhabit the organization

Big Data is a useful tool and needs to be used thoughtfully, even intentionally. With Ross’ three cultural models, there are frameworks which could support an organization’s culture. Take the “heroic” one…going above and beyond could very well be reflective of how a business wants to embed a philosophy of emphasizing human relationships. Or the data smart culture with its decentralized decision-making could treat all of its people as intelligent and professional and encourage agile responses to a rapidly-changing or turbulent marketplace. But, first and foremost, the leaders must set the tone for how Big Data is used and evaluated so that it doesn’t harm the corporate culture.

Join us this Friday, December 6, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz to discuss “Using Big Data Without Harming Your Culture.”

Who is most likely to engage with Big Data?

How do organizations relate to the information gathered?

When could Big Data be misleading?

What could help users of Big Data avoid cognitive biases that might “infect” information?

How could “intangibles” about customers/employees/society be added to the information gathered in Big Data?