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    View the audio recording of the webinar

    Big-Bang Disruption


    Why ClassiC Business Rules Don’t apply

    Traditional business theory recognizes three types of disruptive innovation, but there is a fourth: big-bang disruption. It is different not just in degree but in kind. For market incumbents, the implications can be harsh: Something unidentifiable now could very well destroy their businesses. 

    It will come out of the blue with little warning; there are few barriers to stop 
    it; and the competitive impact will be swift and powerful. Moreover, no industry is immune. There is hope for market incumbents, but it is not found in traditional business strategy.

    Big-bang disruption upends conventional wisdom, requiring a rewriting of commonly accepted rules. Understanding the threat and what it implies for company strategy is the best way to be prepared.

    CONTEXT

    The co-authors of the March 2013 Harvard Business Review article “Big-Bang Disruption” explained the ramifications for business strategy of their research into this under-recognized form of innovation.

    Key Learnings

    Big-bang disruption is a newly identified type of innovation that is remarkably lethal for incumbent market players.

    In 1992, the pinball industry was enjoying a renaissance with its highest sales ever. The following year sales plummeted and never recovered, as Sony introduced PlayStation. Sony had never intended to wipe out pinball, but kids with PlayStations stopped going to arcades. 

    Google isn’t out to corner the navigation device market; its revenue comes from advertising.

    But compared with GPS devices, Google’s navigation app is better (reflecting real-time traffic conditions), cheaper (i.e., free), and user-customized in ways that GPS devices are not (integrated seamlessly with email and other platforms wherever/whenever addresses are mentioned). As a result, GPS makers are under serious siege.

    In both examples, an innovation appeared out of left field, consumer uptake was rapid and widespread, and established market incumbents didn’t know what hit them. 

    Moreover, the disruptive innovator was not even targeting the felled industry; the destruction was an unintended consequence of the innovation’s success. Similar phenomena have crippled the newspaper industry, travel agencies, and certain consumer electronics devices. 

    These examples suggest a type of innovation that business theory has overlooked, which Larry Downes and Paul Nunes have termed “big-bang disruption.” 

    Consider: Traditional theory recognizes three types of innovation: 1) the better products that emerge when market leaders invest in R&D; 2) the cheaper products introduced by new entrants disrupting established market order (described by Harvard’s Clay Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma); and 3) the new kinds of offerings that emerge when nontraditional customers are targeted, such as hotels catering to business travelers (Blue Ocean Strategy). 


    Big-bang innovations, however, are improved over incumbent offerings on not just one dimension but all three: they are better, cheaper, and different. 

    Big-bang disruptions are not simply faster versions of disruptive innovations.

    There are important differences in what occurs. 

    Business theory holds that innovations go through several phases of market adoption, with customer uptake tracing a bell curve. First, a few innovation enthusiasts (2.5%) buy the product, followed a larger group of early adopters (13.5%), then the early majority (34.0%), late majority (24.0%), and laggards (14.0%). 

    But this isn’t the case in the market adoption of big-bang innovations. After a few trial users spread the word, others follow en masse.

    People don’t need to be sold on the product; awareness is enough to create torrents of demand. The iPad’s launch generated immediate demand among both millionaires and people who couldn’t afford computers. 

    Better, cheaper innovations are bound to disrupt every industry, since every industry is dependent on IT. 

    Big-bang disruptions aren’t limited to consumer electronics, although that field provides great examples. 

    Every industry faces the threat of big-bang disruption, because every industry uses IT extensively and technology is a key factor in big-bang disruptions. The continual advance of technology makes big-bang disruptions increasingly possible and indeed likely. 


    Why is that?

    Two forces are at work:

    • Technology deflation. Moore’s law continually deflates the cost of technology. This affects not just processing costs but also data transfer and storage costs. Technology costs are declining not linearly but logarithmically. 

    • Innovation deflation. Web 2.0 has deflated the cost of innovation via crowd sourcing, open innovation, open source communities, etc. As the cost of technology drops, innovations that are both better and cheaper are bound to emerge.

    Consider this example:

     A market incumbent’s car is offered at $30,000. After 18 months, technology deflation allows a competitor to make a comparable car for 10% less, suggesting an offering price of $27,000. However, if the cost of innovation to add better features is less than $3,000, the competitor can improve features and still sell the car for under $30,000. The new car is both cheaper and better.

    Consider: Traditional theory recognizes three types of innovation: 1) the better products that emerge when market leaders invest in R&D; 2) the cheaper products introduced by new entrants disrupting established market order (described by Harvard’s Clay Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma); and 3) the new kinds of offerings that emerge when nontraditional customers are targeted, such as hotels catering to business travelers (Blue Ocean Strategy). 

    Big-bang innovations, however, are improved over incumbent offerings on not just one dimension but all three: they are better, cheaper, and different. 


    Big-bang disruptions are not simply faster versions of disruptive innovations.


    There are important differences in what occurs. 





    Business theory holds that innovations go through several phases of market adoption, with customer uptake tracing a bell curve. First, a few innovation enthusiasts (2.5%) buy the product, followed a larger group of early adopters (13.5%), then the early majority (34.0%), late majority (24.0%), and laggards (14.0%). 

    But this isn’t the case in the market adoption of big-bang innovations. After a few trial users spread the word, others follow en masse. People don’t need to be sold on the product; awareness is enough to create torrents of demand. The iPad’s launch generated immediate demand among both millionaires and people who couldn’t afford computers. 

    Better, cheaper innovations are bound to disrupt every industry, since every industry is dependent on IT. 






    Big-bang disruptions aren’t limited to consumer electronics, although that field provides great examples.

    Every industry faces the threat of big-bang disruption, because every industry uses 
    IT extensively and technology is a key factor in big-bang disruptions. The continual advance of technology makes big-bang disruptions increasingly possible and indeed likely. 

    Why is that?

    Two forces are at work:

    • Technology deflation. Moore’s law continually deflates the cost of technology. This affects not just processing costs but also data transfer and storage costs. 

    Technology costs are declining not linearly but logarithmically. 

    • Innovation deflation. Web 2.0 has deflated the cost of innovation via crowd sourcing, open innovation, open source communities, etc. As the cost of technology drops, innovations that are both better and cheaper are bound to emerge (See Figure 1, next page).


    Consider this example: A market incumbent’s car is offered at $30,000. After 18 months, technology deflation allows a competitor to make a comparable car for 10% less, suggesting an offering price of $27,000. However, if the cost of innovation to add better features is less than $3,000, the competitor can improve features and still sell the car for under $30,000. The new car is both cheaper and better.

    Deflationary pressures on technology and innovation mean better and cheaper 

    innovations are increasingly likely.



    Another factor makes cheaper, better big-bang innovations likely: the “democratization of 

    innovation.” With most information freely accessible, the tools of innovation have never been 
    more available and the barriers to market entry have never been so low.

    Big-bang disruption upends conventional business wisdom.Recognizing big-bang disruptions as a phenomenon in their own right, distinct from other kinds of disruptive innovation, changes some aspects of established business theory. 

    For instance, the old model of innovation adoption and industry change suggested that companies ought to try to “jump the S-curve,” or plan for next-generation offerings while at the same time nurturing current businesses that will eventually be usurped. 


    But a spontaneous big-bang 

    disruption that sets consumers on a new course altogether could render both current products 

    and future plans irrelevant 

    S-curve jumping is useless when the “sudden death line” appears.


    Big-bang disruption upends conventional business wisdom in other ways as well: 

    • Strategic discipline. Conventional wisdom says to focus on one generic strategy: low cost or product innovation or customer intimacy. In contrast, big-bang wisdom suggests competing on all three at once for improved chances of success. 


    • New product marketing. Conventional wisdom advises targeting a small group of early adopters before attempting to enter the mainstream market.Conversely, big-bang wisdom suggests marketing to all user segments immediately. That means big-bang innovators should be ready to scale up quickly, prepared to fulfill demand that is suddenly massive, and should likewise have an exit strategy for scaling down quickly and cheaply when consumers move on.


    • Innovation method. Conventional wisdom recommends seeking innovation in lowercost, feature-poor products that meet underserved customers’ needs—i.e., cheaper but not better. But big-bang wisdom says to seek innovation through rapid-fire, lower-cost experimentation on popular platforms—for cheaper and better products.


    There is hope for incumbent market players that understand what they are dealing with and know how best to respond.

    By understanding what innovations that provoke big bang disruptions look like, incumbents have hope of countering them strategically. 

    Three characteristics of big-bang disruption are important to recognize:


    1. Unencumbered development: You can’t see it. The development phase of the innovation involves lots of experimentation and recombination of widely available elements in new ways, leveraging the democratization of innovation. This activity often is not on incumbents’ radar, or if it is, initial failures may give incumbents a false sense of security. 


    2. Undisciplined strategy: You can’t beat it. Without a targeted focus on being better or cheaper or more differentiated, the undisciplined approach allows the innovation to be all three at once. That is hard for incumbents to beat.


    3. Unconstrained growth: You can’t stop it. With the near-perfect market information consumers have these days, the world quickly recognizes the innovation as the best and demand explodes. Market incumbents can’t stop this train.


    What then can incumbents do to hope to survive big-bang disruptions? The strategic imperatives are:


    • See it coming. There are two ways: 1) Keep an eye out for failed innovations, which often pave the way for future big-bang disruptions, as e-books preceded the Kindle and Napster preceded iTunes; and 2) Find “truth tellers,” who intuitively understand your market and can tell you where it is headed. They are often found among a company’s own employees. 

    There are signs of potential big-bang disruptions evident today in multiple industries, including the end of cash in consumer retailing, market pricing for government services, biometric sensors that demystify medicine, and the “virtual ivory tower” revolutionizing learning. 

    • Slow innovation long enough to better it. Use IP laws, regulations, and patents to 

    your advantage, both offensively and defensively.

    • Get closer to the exits. Prepare for a fast escape from an affected business; plan how to redeploy resources and assets in optimal ways.

    • Try for a new kind of diversification. Achieve a higher level of clarity regarding what business you are actually in; with an altered perspective, advantageous new directions often become apparent.

    View the audio recording of the webinar

    View at the original source

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    At Stanford lecture, Sandberg urges women to seek leadership roles


    Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, delivering the Jing Lyman Lecture at Stanford, encourages women to "raise your hand, sit at the table, own your success."
    Vanessa Carr
    At Stanford, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg urges women to aim high.
    Sheryl Sandberg has traveled the country with an aim-high message for women, and on Tuesday paused at Stanford, where she spoke to a capacity crowd about empowerment, leadership and family.
    Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is promoting her new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and the organization that sprung from it.
    "The blunt truth is that men still run the world," Sandberg said before ticking off statistics about the poor representation of women in government and business across the globe. "What this means is that when the decisions are made that most impact our world … our voices are not equally heard."
    Sandberg's lecture was sponsored by Stanford's Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the education partner for LeanIn.org.
    The Clayman Institute has produced a series of videos for Lean In and provided educational materials that translate the center's research into practical lessons for women and men in areas of negotiation, storytelling and other topics. The videos and other materials are available for free on the center's and Lean In's websites.
    Sandberg lauded the Clayman Institute and its director, Shelley Correll, who introduced Sandberg on Tuesday and is featured in one of the videos, talking about gender stereotypes.
    "They believe in gender equality," Sandberg said of Clayman researchers. "They understand how you take academic research and make it apply. And they will stop at nothing to change this world."
    Paige K. ParsonsSheryl Sandberg
    In her speech, Sandberg promoted her effort to have women and men "lean in" and join together in circles of support around leadership and gender issues.
    During her lecture, Sandberg was conversational, balancing stories about her own self-doubt and missteps she's made in trying to create a more equal workplace with anecdotes of encouragement and empowerment.
    Sandberg talked about how she believes women hold themselves back – making career decisions based on the children they don't yet have, for example – and offered advice on advancing in the workplace.
    "I'm a pragmatist. I think, as a woman, you have to be more careful. You have to be more communal, you have to say yes to more things than men, you have to worry about things that men don't have to worry about," she said. "But once we get enough women into leadership, we can break stereotypes down. If you lead, you get to decide."
    Ideally, she said, managers, professors and companies would be the great equalizer, promoting and encouraging women knowing that the research shows, in meetings and classrooms, "more men than women will sit in the front of the room, more men than women will sit at the table."
    "We can't leave this just to managers. We can't count on anyone else solving that problem," she said. "But the person who is most likely to correct this for you is you. It is your seat at the table; take it."
    She said she believes in public policy, helpful laws and institutional reform to make a more equal workplace, but "I also believe that it is not enough."
    "My message is," she said, "raise your hand, sit at the table, own your success."
    Studies show, she said, that starting in junior high, more boys than girls want to lead.
    "It is that leadership ambition gap that we need to understand and close," she said. "We will not close the leadership gap until we have more girls wanting to lead."
    Sandberg also singled out partners and spouses of women, specifically men. She said women need to be more encouraging of men and fathers.
    "Just like we don't encourage leadership in women, we don't encourage nurturing in men," she said. "We still call the class 'Mommy and Me.' This is not welcoming."
    The atmosphere at Cemex Auditorium was closer to a town hall meeting than a university lecture, with Sandberg cruising the stage as she illustrated her message with facts, figures and personal tales.
    Just as she urged people to be active in pursuing leadership positions at work, she also implored them to engage with her there. She took questions from the audience and lobbed questions at the crowd.
    "I want to ask if you've ever said out loud the following sentence, 'I want to be No. 1 in my field,'" Sandberg said. "Stand up if you have ever said that out loud to somebody else. Stand up."
    Sandberg's book has shot up to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list, and the Lean In tour has had her crisscrossing the country for weeks – a journey not without criticism.
    Correll said it's not uncommon for controversy to follow these issues.
    "As those of us who study gender can attest," Correll said as she introduced Sandberg, "debates over women, work and family often take on a controversial tone. It takes courage to walk willingly into these debates."
    Correll praised Sandberg for rekindling a national conversation on women and the workplace and compared her toJing Lyman, an advocate for women's rights at Stanford and the person in whose honor Sandberg's lecture was delivered.
    "Like Jing," Correll said, "Sheryl has boldly leveraged her status to advance gender equality."
    The program included discussion about Lean In "circles," which women and men are encouraged to start as groups where participants can learn leadership skills, swap stories, gain confidence and garner support.
    Clayman is hosting a workshop for people interested in becoming circle leaders in May.
    "We believe," Sandberg said, "that if we bring men and women together to form a community around gender issues and equality and leadership for women and nurturing for men, if we provide education, skills and tools, and if we can give people in-person and online support through a circle of people that can be their peer mentors, we can change things. One by one by one."


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    Replacing Teachers with Emotion


    Image credit: iStockphoto
    Teachers mean well. By teachers, I mean you.
    You mean well.
    After all, you're here, aren't you -- looking for resources to become a better teacher or administrator? And you're in education to begin with -- that's a selfless and Sisyphean pursuit in itself. You want what's best for the future of mankind, so you decided to teach. Went to college, learned about Vygotskyand Piaget, and here you are on Edutopia, finding out what makes learners tick.
    That part's simple: it's emotion that makes them tick.

    Emotion in Children


    The need to belong, the desire to be understood, the instinct to understand -- these are all universal human emotions that do not fade with time, vary across generations, or stop just because you've got algebra to teach. They lord over a student's mind constantly, and require more than a little bit of "social and emotional learning" -- they require emotion at the core.
    But in western education -- being the purveyors of both ambition and science that we are -- we've tried a more analytical route, attempting to decode how learning happens (and the human genome as well, not ironically). We've found its characteristics, we look for research and data that prove we're not wasting our time, and then we struggle mightily to get the results we want.
    While every multiple choice question has a distractor -- an answer to tempt the responder to choose the answer that's nearly right -- it might be that assessment itself is the distractor, because few experiences are as cognitively arresting as a rigorous academic exam.
    A solution, though, is well within reach.
    Replace teachers -- that means you -- with emotion.

    The Neuroscience of Emotion and Learning


    Of course, there's neuroscience jargon that explains how emotion impacts learning. A 2007 Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study explains:
    Emotion enhances our ability to form vivid memories of even trivial events. Norepinephrine (NE), a neuromodulator released during emotional arousal, plays a central role in the emotional regulation of memory . . . Our results indicate that NE-driven phosphorylation of GluR1 facilitates the synaptic delivery of GluR1-containing AMPARs, lowering the threshold for LTP, thereby providing a molecular mechanism for how emotion enhances learning and memory.
    So emotion enhances learning by flooding the brain with biological actuators of memory. In education, we look for symptoms of these emotions, maybe engagement or creativity.
    Or the ultimate prize in K-12: proficiency.
    We then look to crude mechanisms that will cause these symptoms -- we group students, give them "voice and choice," ask them to "predict what might happen," and then have them turn to an elbow partner to discuss how their predictions did and did not pan out.
    We hang Marzano's 9 on the wall, and go to our weekly data team meetings to try to figure out what's going on, all the while missing the rub.
    None of this causes emotion, and emotion doesn't cause learning anyway.
    It supersedes learning.

    An Analogy

    "Students may never remember what you taught them, but will never forget how you made them feel." This age-old saying is dead-on. It gets at the conundrum facing every teacher every day as he or she begins class: while you look for your students' attention and try to cause engagement, it's their emotions you need to skillfully identify, navigate and masterfully manipulate.
    A robot learning Chaucer is a robot nonetheless.
    An admittedly dramatic analogy might help sort it all out:
    Teaching is a minor act that in itself causes nothing; understanding is the detonator, and emotion is the mushroom cloud.

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    A Teacher's 'If' Poem for Her Students



    In honor of National Poetry Month (and Friday .... whew, it's Friday!), we felt compelled to pass along a poem that a teacher sent to us. Jennifer Martin, a veteran English teacher at Wootton High School in Rockville, Md., wanted her 12th graders to write a poem in the style of Rudyard Kipling's "If." So, as good teachers do, she penned one of her own first to model the process and product.
    In an email, Martin told us: "My goals in English class are to help students make sense of their world, to broaden their perspective by exposing them to a wide range of voices, and to help them become more thoughtful and articulate. My hope is that my efforts help them find a sense of purpose and a happy life."
    You might also notice the poem's subtle nods to the ELA Common Core State Standards—textual evidence, interpreting complex texts, building an argument, etc. (Another way teachers are managing to keep poetry in the curriculum under the common standards.) Also, see if you can catch the irony in the second-to-last line. Enjoy!
    If ... You Study With Ms. Martin
    If you can get to class on time still walking
    And find your pencil and remove your hat,
    If you can sit and listen without talking,
    Yet share insightful, intellectual chat,
    If you can hear the critics of your drafting 
    And use their comments to improve your work,
    Politely finding faults in others' crafting
    And seek to edit more where errors lurk—
    If you can parse the pages and the chapters,
    If you can diagram and annotate,
    If syntax pure and ideas bold you capture,
    And all the quotes you choose elucidate,
    If you can write a careful, thoughtful sentence
    Revealing irony within the text,
    Or build clear arguments, without a pretense,
    To leave the reader wiser not perplexed,
    If you can research topics and stay curious
    Or plumb the limits of the printed word,
    If you can tell which data may be spurious
    And disagreeing, let the fools be heard,
    If writing you employ the apt quotation
    You drew from Shakespeare's scene or Shelley's poem,
    While using proper MLA notation,
    And claim no thoughts as yours except your own:
    If you can take all that you learn in English
    And use the lessons in both love and strife,
    If you see the angelic and the impish
    In characters in fiction as in life,
    If delving page by page between the covers
    Engaged in studying universal themes—
    You may not ever be a published author
    But you will wisely cope with life's extremes.


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    Surprising Differences Between the Male and Female Brain

    Day in Health

    by Lisa Collier Cool
    It’s not as simple as Mars vs. Venus, but scientists have identified intriguing differences in how men and women think that influence emotions, memory, business success, and even longevity. 
    In the largest brain imaging study ever conducted to compare male and female brains, Daniel Amen, MD, and other researchers analyzed imaging scans of 26,000 people. They discovered that women showed increased blood flow in 112 of the 128 brain regions they studied, indicating that on average, women’s brains are much more active than men’s.
    The most striking difference between the sexes was that women have a much higher level of activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area that’s sometimes called “the brain’s CEO” because it governs planning, organization, impulse control, and learning from mistakes.
    In the soon-to-be published study, men’s brains showed greater activity in regions associated with visual perception, tracking objects through space, and form recognition. However, these gender differences don’t mean that one sex has a mental edge over the other—just that their brains are wired differently.
    “Even when men and women succeed at the same task, they tend to call on different strengths and areas of the brain to achieve this result,” says Dr. Amen, author of Unleash the Power of the Female Brain: Supercharging Yours for Better Health, Energy, Mood, Focus, and Sex (Harmony, 2013).
    Here’s a closer look at some gender differences Dr. Amen and other researchers have identified—and how we can use them to our advantage.

    Men Have Bigger Brains, But It Doesn’t Make Them Smarter

    On average, men’s brains are 8 to 10 percent bigger than women’s brains. While that may not seem surprising, given that men’s bodies tend to be larger overall, even after correcting for body weight, it’s been estimated that men have about 4 percent more neurons than women do.
    But before men jump on these findings as proof of brain superiority, scientists point out that these size differences aren’t distributed uniformly in all brain regions. In a study using MRI scans, Dr. Jill Goldstein at Harvard Medical School found that compared to men, women have larger volume in both the frontal cortex (the inner CEO) and the limbic cortex, involved in emotional responses.
    “This may explain why women tend to be less impulsive and more concerned with emotions than men are,” says Dr. Amen, who theorizes that a bigger and more active frontal cortex suggests that women are wired for leadership—and may actually be better bosses than men.
    Consider the intriguing result of a recent study in which teams of men and women were assigned tasks that involved brainstorming, decision-making, and solving visual puzzles. Teams were given collective IQ scores based on their performance.
    Conventional wisdom would infer the team made up of people with the highest individual IQ scores (thus the highest total IQ) should emerge victorious. However, the collective IQ scores were based on how they completed the assigned tasks as a team. And the teams with the highest collective IQs were those with more women,Harvard Business Review reports.

    Women Have Better Memories, Worse Sense of Direction

    Dr. Amen’s research shows that women have greater activity in the brain’s hippocampus. “Guys, if you wonder why your wife or girlfriend never forgets anything, here’s your answer: The hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps store memories.”
    In a 2008 study, Swedish psychologists found significant sex differences in several types of memory, favoring women in all almost all of the areas studied.
    Specifically, women excelled at recalling words, pictures, objects, and everyday events. They also outperformed men on such tasks as recalling the location of car keys or remembering faces (particularly those of other women).
    However, the psychologists also found that men have the edge in a type of memory called visuospatial processing. For example, the study results suggested that a man would be more likely to remember how to find his way out of the woods.
    There’s quite a bit of scientific evidence that men have a keener sense of direction than women do, adds Dr. Amen. “Overall, men are better at getting from point A to point B, but are also less likely to realize it if they take the wrong turn. That’s why men are famously reluctant to ask for directions: They don’t realize they’re lost.”

    Women Live Longer, But On Average Men Are Happier

    Studies suggest that women have greater self-control and levels of what Dr. Amen terms “appropriate worry.” For example, women tend to take better care of their health, visit the doctor more often, and behave less recklessly.
    Women also have lower rates of substance abuse, anti-social personality disorder, and ADHD. And they’re 14 times less likely to go to jail—and even get fewer traffic tickets than men do.
    “These points are actually quite fascinating,” says Dr. Amen, “because appropriate worry about negative consequences could be a key factor in why women outlive men. In one large study, researchers found that those with a “don’t worry, be happy” attitude—i.e. young men with motorcycles—died earlier from fatal accidents and preventable illness.”
    However, the dark side of women’s higher level of worry is that they are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression, which strikes women at nearly double the rate it does men, according to the Mayo Clinic. At some point in life, about 1 in 5 women develops clinical depression.
    One reason why women may be more vulnerable is that men’s brains, on average, produce 52 percent more serotonin, according to a recent study by University of Montreal researchers. This feel-good brain chemical has been dubbed “the happy hormone.”

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    Are You Handcuffed By Your Goals?


    I am 40 years old and for roughly 30 years I have had goals. I've been obsessive about creating goals and working a specific and detailed plan to achieve them. Goals have worked for me if you consider having 16 real estate offices, a thriving law firm, and a worldwide consulting and coaching firm as successful. Unfortunately I don't. In fact, it's so far away from what I consider "success" for me that I recently abandoned goals all together. Goals are limiting. They are pie in the sky. I want something better.


    In 2013 I took a stance to start living without goals. I still work 60 hours a week. I still enjoy every evening and weekend with my amazing family doing stuff that we love. The difference is, I no longer encumber my creativity by being so focused on one thing that I lose sight of something better. Here's why you should try living a life without goals.
    Goals Limit The Artist Within You: We are all artists. We all create. As an entrepreneur I create businesses. As a consultant, I help others do the same. I am at my happiest when I am creating something big. Sculpting away at each business, attracting clients, chiseling out a perfect combination of culture and contribution. When we focus daily on specific goals, we lose creativity. My job is to create. When I wake up now, I examine my canvas and I let it take me to where I am happiest, just building. If the first three months of the year are any indication of where this will take me, I would say that living in a goalless state is moving my life and businesses forward faster than ever before. When you just concentrate on what you are so unbelievably passionate about every second of every day, big, huge, audacious things begin to happen.
    Out of Bounds: I recently launched a new business with three close friends. I'm excited about the prospect of where it could go. I look forward to my brainstorming sessions with them. It is offers me the opportunity to try something new with people I care about. I could never have pursued this opportunity in the past because it was outside the boundaries of my goals. Now, with no goals, new opportunities seem to pop up regularly. 
    I am guided by my passion for what I love to do.
    Goals Limit Growth: I am still committed 150 percent to each business I own, as well as to my family. I know now that the sky is the limit, because there are no goals in the way. I have a burning, yearning desire to grow each business to its fullest, and to meld each one into its own special creation. Every business I own, to me, is like a life form, so special and unique in its own way. Each organization is a special mix of the individuals that each contribute to its greatness so that the business as a whole is so much bigger, more powerful, and more beautiful than the individual parts that come together to form it.
    Goals Disappoint: I once had a goal of having a real estate organization with 1000 agents across New England. How limiting. It's limiting because much bigger is possible. It is also defeating because it suggests that less than 1000 is a failure, when in fact a masterpiece is not dictated by size. Apple, Amazon, Starbucks. These masterpiece businesses were created long before they grew. Picasso is not one of the most famous artists in history because he has a great following. He has a great following because he created a masterpiece. Eighteen-point-five percent of American mobile users have iPhones. If their goal was 50 million iPhone users, would Apple be less amazing for not having achieved the goal?
    I guess I kind of have broad goals: happiness, health, passion, and winning. I will create my own Apple, Amazon, Starbucks. Not sure how I'll get there, but I will because I'm no longer handcuffed by goals.


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  • 04/09/13--18:09: What Awful Leaders Do 04-09

  • What Awful Leaders Do


    Awful leaders make uninformed decisions, are as transparent as mud, are unrelatable, and they waver.

    As a leader, how do you explain to your people; your customers, employees, your tribe, that you have a view of something that they are not privy to? It happens often in any business. It is the leader's job to see out into the horizon and to use that view to safely steer the ship to its destination without running aground. How do you politely tell your people that "I see something you can't see and that is why we are moving in this direction?"
    One of my favorite books on leadership is John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. The entire book focuses on this very issue only on a political landscape. The lessons shared however parallel nicely into running a successful business. One of my favorite excerpts from this book was the story of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. Lamar represented Mississippi in the U.S. Senate from 1877-1885. Like the other political figures in the book, Lamar was honored by Kennedy for making, on at least three occasions, decisions on behalf of his people, that were contradictory to what his people believed they wanted. Lamar had that view of the horizon and he knew what was best for his constituents, even though the beliefs those constituents held were diabolically opposed to his own.
    Lamar's political career almost ended when his constituents vehemently insisted that he vote in favor of the Bland Silver Bill which would allow for silver to be put into circulation as silver dollars. Lamar had studied all sides of the issue and he knew that he needed to vote against the Bill. His constituents were under pressure of hard times due to lack of money and he knew that many were depending on the overnight relief that this influx of silver seemed to offer. He knew that a financial reprieve would not come even if he did approve the Bill. He also knew that voting in favor of the Bill would add further strife between the North and South. It was for these reasons Lamar voted against the bill, and in the minds of his constituents, against them too.
    After the Bland Silver Bill was struck down, much in part to Lamar's deciding vote, Lamar had to start re-building trust with the people of Mississippi. In his bid for re-election, Lamar shared the following story about leadership from his days in the military:
    "Lamar, in the company of other prominent military and civilian officers of the Confederacy, was on board a blockade runner making for Savannah harbor. Although the high-ranking officers after consultation had decided it was safe to go ahead, Lamar related, the Captain had sent Sailor Billy Summers to the top mast to look for Yankee gunboats in the harbor, and Billy said he had seen ten. That distinguished array of officers knew where the Yankee fleet was, and it was not in Savannah; and they told the Captain that Billy was wrong and the ship must proceed ahead. The Captain refused, insisting that while the officers knew a great deal more about military affairs, Billy Summers on the top mast with a powerful glass had a much better opportunity to judge the immediate situation at hand. It later developed that Billy was right, Lamar said, and if they had gone ahead they would have all been captured. And like Sailor Billy Summers, he did not claim to be wiser than the Mississippi Legislature. But he did believe that he was in a better position as a Member of the United States Senate to judge what was best for the interests of his constituents."
    Lamar's lesson was clear and although his vote was unpopular, he was transparent in his reasoning. Lamar was re-elected to the Senate by an overwhelming majority.
    Here is the lesson: As a leader, your decisions need not always be the popular ones. Make decisions based on your view from the top of the mast. Be transparent in your reasoning. Rally your people by finding a common story that they can relate to, like the story of Sailor Billy Summers. Last, but not least, hold strong.


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    Mistake in classification led to N. Korea info being revealed
    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (L) listens as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testifies before the House Armed Services Committee Thursday

    Mistake in classification led to N. Korea info being revealed

    By Jamie Crawford, with reporting from Pam Benson, Deirdre Walsh, Chris Lawrence and Barbara Starr
    The Pentagon was caught by surprise Thursday when sensitive information about North Korea's nuclear program from a classified March 2013 report was "mistakenly" declassified and discussed during an open hearing on Capitol Hill, raising questions about how such a significant error could have occurred.
    In a hearing by the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the Pentagon's budget, Rep. David Lamborn, R-Colorado, read from what he said was an unclassified sentence in an otherwise classified report by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
    "DIA assess with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however, the reliability will be low," Lamborn read before posing a question about its significance to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.

    "Well, I haven't seen it," Dempsey said in response, appearing caught off guard. "And you said it's not publicly released, so I - I choose not to comment on it."
    Multiple officials told CNN after the hearing that the information read by Lamborn was "mistakenly" marked as unclassified.
    "Several of us here in the Pentagon were shocked by hearing that assessment read aloud in an open hearing," one defense official told CNN.
    The line came from a seven-page report, "Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program."
    "The only thing DIA has unclassified is that one sentence and the title," Lamborn said later Thursday in an interview with CNN. "This is not briefing reports supplied to the committee, this is simply a DIA analysis, a seven-page report in which one sentence is unclassified."
    An aide to the committee confirmed to CNN that Lamborn received the material from committee staff before the hearing.
    "We were very careful and checked with DIA. to confirm that was an unclassified section before beginning any kind of conversation within an open setting about it," the aide said. "We checked to make sure it was not something that was mistakenly declassified."
    "We double and triple-checked to make sure that what was divulged in an open forum was declassified," Lamborn said Thursday night in an interview on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.
    The scenario that played out raised the question of how it could have even occurred in the first place.
    "Classification decisions are more of an art than a science," a government official familiar with those procedures told CNN.
    While certain paragraphs within a report may be classified at different levels to protect the revelation of certain sources and methods, the official said it was unusual to have one sentence in a report declassified.
    Such a decision would most likely come from the head of the agency that published the report, or a more senior official such as the director of national intelligence, who is charged with overseeing the entire intelligence community.
    A congressional source told CNN there is a layered approach to classification with the level of classification indicated on each paragraph.
    While certain paragraphs within reports are occasionally declassified, the source said it is highly unusual for a conclusion, such as the assessment read by Lamborn, to be declassified.
    While questions as to how the statement was ultimately declassified are certain to mount within the intelligence community, the Pentagon played down the gravity of the assessment on Thursday evening.
    "While I cannot speak to all the details of a report that is classified in its entirety, it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a written statement.
    "The United States continues to closely monitor the North Korean nuclear program and calls upon North Korea to honor its international obligations," he added.

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    5 Ways To Improve Your Customer Service


    By Sunday Steinkirchner


    The pace of technology is ever-quickening. Feel like your business is struggling to keep up? We do– It’s no secret that the online marketplace and popularity of e-readers have forever changed our business of bookselling. Whenever we feel the push of technology, along with getting the push we need to learn something new, we remind ourselves to focus on what has always helped us to stand out—our customer service.
    Offering second-to-none customer service could help your business to succeed no matter what the economic climate or latest technology craze. Here’s how:
    1) Let Customers Get to Know You– If you’re running your business from an unknown (or internet-only) location, it makes you more anonymous. This is common nowadays, but adding a “face” or an address to your business could help assure customers that you won’t disappear overnight. You don’t have to rent office space if you don’t really need it; just be upfront about where you operate from and consider ways of contacting customers aside from email. A little personal information can go a long way, and could minimize concerns of accessibility, trust, or safety.
    2) Be Available – If a customer can’t get hold of you when they need to, you could lose them forever. We recently changed both our insurance provider and web developer, and the decisions were based on availability and accountability. With the new companies, we get the owner on the phone every time, and they’re there day or night if a catastrophe happens. In our own business, we value face-to-face interaction with customers, which is often a rarity these days. Whether it’s traveling across the country for trade shows or taking time for a quick coffee or Skype session, our strongest relationships are with the customers we know personally and keep in contact with regularly.
    3) Specials Services / VIP – Are there special discounts or services you can offer that your competitors don’t? Can you offer something special for existing customers only? Could your services be considered “luxury”? Offering special treatment to your customers will help them to feel taken care of, and it’s also something they might be willing to pay more for. There are so many “bait and switch” offers and promotions “for new customers only”– reward the customers that have been with you the longest.
    4) Offer Knowledge – Building strong relationships with our customers is great, but we also get to offer and trade knowledge with them. In our trade, a customer can compare several competing copies of a book online, but they won’t get a conversation about the title’s complicated printing history. When we’re speaking with customers, we spend the majority of time talking about the merchandise itself, trends in the market, and the customer’s own collecting habits. Afterward, we negotiate a deal. A customer can even know more than you do on a particular topic! Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more.
    Trade shows are another great way you can offer knowledge to your customers. Organize seminars with expert speakers to draw potential customers interested in your product or services.
    5) Offer Community – Bringing face-to-face interactions, special services, and knowledge together could help you to create a unique community for your customers. This could be an interactive part of your website, a weekly or monthly webinar, or an open house at your physical location. Better yet, organize with similar or local businesses to set up an event, street fair, or convention that could draw a large crowd.
    Creating a community is also possible when you’re on the road. Our professional organization works hard to make trade shows part of a larger destination for attendees. We collaborate with other institutions and events, and even plan the location of shows according to the weather (who doesn’t want to go to Southern California in February, when there’s also an exhibit at the local museum?) Not only will traveling make it easier for customers to find you, but coinciding events could be a bigger draw for their attendance and encourage them to spend more time with you.
    These tried-and-true methods could improve your relationships with your customers. Have other ways to engage them? Comment here, or join the conversation on social media:


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    Building the Knowledge Economy
    Earlier this year, I started teaching a class on entrepreneurship at an after school program in my community. The middle school students put together business plans, made their products and even got an opportunity to sell them.

    One day I asked my students what they thought about going to college. One of my top aspiring entrepreneurs told me he wasn’t sure that he’d be able to go to college because he’s “undocumented.” His family is from Mexico and they moved here when he was a baby. Many students in my community are in the same situation; they moved to the United States so early in their lives they have no memory of living anywhere else.

    These students are smart and hard-working, and they should be part of our future.
    ..........................................
    We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrations. And it's a policy unfit for today's world.

    The economy of the last century was primarily based on natural resources, industrial machines and manual labor. It was an economy where many of these resources were zero sum and controlled by companies. If someone else had an oil field, then you did not. There are only so many oil fields, and there is only so much wealth that can be created from them for society.

    Today’s economy is very different. It is primarily based on knowledge and ideas -- resources that are renewable and available to everyone. Unlike oil fields, someone else knowing something doesn't prevent you from knowing it too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be.

    This can change everything. In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country. A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.

    To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people. We need to train and attract the best. We need those middle school students to be tomorrow's leaders.

    Given all this, why do we kick out the more than 40% of math and science graduate students who are not US citizens after paying to educate them? Why do we offer so few H1B visas for talented specialists that the supply runs out within days of becoming available each year, even though we know each of these jobs will create two or three more American jobs in return? Why don't we let entrepreneurs move here even when they have what it takes to start new companies that will create even more jobs?

    We need a new approach, including:

    - Comprehensive immigration reform that begins with effective border security, allows a path to citizenship and lets us attract the most talented and hardest working people, no matter where they were born.

    - Higher standards and accountability in our schools, support for good teachers, and a much greater focus on learning about science, technology, engineering and math.

    - Investment in breakthrough discoveries in scientific research, and assurance that the benefits of the inventions belong to the public and not just the few.

    Changes like these won’t happen on their own.


    That's why today I am proud to announce FWD.us.

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    In 2013 There Will Be More Mobile Devices Than People On Earth

    By TJ McCue



    Mobile devices will soon outnumber us – is the Matrix far behind? According to projections found in a new Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update.  The report projects that by the end of 2013; there will be more mobile-connected devices than there are people on earth. Wow.
    First, the interesting stuff:
    • An Apple a day: 40 percent of respondents prefer doing business on the iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini.
    • Who Shares More?: Of the respondents, women are 8 percent more likely than men to share their personal mobile phone number.
    • The Business of Texting: Texting is on the rise for small businesses, as 58 percent of respondents text for business at least once a month.
    • Voicemail – Over, and Out?: Only 33 percent of survey respondents still listen to voicemail from business contacts.
    • No Time for Mystery: Only 18 percent of respondents will listen to voicemail from an unknown number.
    •  “You’re Fired”: 20 percent of men who responded said they would fire a full-time employee to cut their monthly cell phone bill by 50 percent. This one is rather startling.
    • In this recent survey (commissioned by eVoice, a virtual phone number service for small businesses NASDAQ:JCOM), more than one in three business owners (36 percent) use three or more mobile devices to run their business. This certainly jives with what I just posted about on Small Business Trends: How To Avoid Mobile Device Overload in which I share some tips to keep it all together. Cargo pants with lots of pockets may be your best option.
    Privacy, Please!
    75 percent of respondents won’t share their personal mobile phone number with staff. This one made me wonder how you run a small business if you don’t tell employees how to reach you after hours. 81 percent with partners or investors and 82 percent with vendors, reinforcing small businesses owners’ desire to filter their personal phone numbers for business contacts. I read this as they will not share their personal number with any of these people. Fair enough on this front.
    The report goes on to explain that a virtual phone system can help you filter. That’s what I do – my Google Voice number is what screens my calls. With a virtual phone system, small businesses can keep their personal number private and routing other calls by using an intelligent system.
    Overall, the survey results seem to underscore the need for small businesses to stay productive and competitive. They also appear to highlight small business preferences and pain points for mobility and mobile technologies.
    If you are looking for a virtual phone number service and system, eVoice is worth a look.





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    Have Your Say: What Will it Take to Get All Children in School and Learning?

    Please use the links on this page to express yourself, & to make them reach Education first.


    Since 2000, the world has been striving to reach Millennium Development Goal #2: Achieving Universal Primary Education by 2015. The goal is to help children everywhere, boys and girls alike, complete primary school. Although there has been great progress in the last decade, 61 million children in developing countries do not attend primary school and many more leave school without having learned the basic skills needed for life and work.
    World Leaders want to hear from you!
    Leave your comments here on the blog or tweet using hashtag #educationfirst
    Today, nearly half of the world’s out-of-school children live in just 8 countries: Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan.  Next week, the ministers of finance and education from these 8 countries will meet individually with leaders from international development organizations including Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General and Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. They will discuss the specific challenges of each country and concrete steps to accelerate progress toward ensuring that all children can go to school and learn.
    On Thursday, April 18, there will be a Learning For All Ministerial Roundtable in which the leaders and ministers will discuss the following four questions:
    1. What will it take to get all children in school and learning?
    2. What are the most serious bottlenecks to getting all children in school and learning?
    3. What are priority actions for governments to achieve learning for all?
    4. What can development partners do to help ensure all children are able to go to school and learn?
    Do you have answers to these questions? The leaders want to hear from you! Send your views, ideas, and suggestions on what it takes to get all children into school and learning.
    Leave a comment here on the blog and/or post your response on Twitter using hashtag #educationfirst. The best comments will be delivered to the leaders and ministers during the meeting.
    See the Learning for All Ministerial page for more information on the meetings, attendees, and how to watch online.



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      Case Study Approach in Advanced Corporate Finance


      Associate professor in the Wisconsin School of Business, Prof. James K. Seward, was on campus to coach the MBA participants on applying the corporate finance and accounting knowledge they had acquired in previous classes through his course on Advanced Corporate Finance. A highly interactive case study method added to the learning experience.


      James Seward
      James Seward
      The advanced finance course was carefully formulated to fine-tune the skills of the MBA participants on Capital budgeting and Capital Expenditure Approval Processes, Investment Decisions, and Methods of Valuation. 

      Case studies formed the base of Professor James Seward’s course; real life examples and well timed, appropriate humor by the Professor kept the class engaged. As part of their assignments, MBA participants discussed three different cases in groups and prepared a memorandum for each case. After submission of each memorandum, Professor Seward discussed the case in the class effectively compiling the knowledge and analysis of the MBA participants from 32 different countries. His extensive experience in advising corporate companies to make financial decisions, along with teaching, enables him to provide an insight into the corporate finance world. This makes his students appreciate the importance of corporate finance knowledge. 

      The first part of the course was spent on “Working Capital Management”, and a case on Dell provided a perfect platform to understand the topic. 

      The mid part of the course focused on “Investment Decisions as real options”. There could not have been any better way than studying the DuPont case to understand the subject. This case is a classic example of a dilemma that corporates face – which strategy to adopt out of the available options. DuPont had three strategies to choose from, and the MBA participants’ job was to recommend which one to choose. The student diversity of EDHEC MBA, not only in terms of nationalities but also in terms of work experience, helps participants to make profound recommendations by challenging each others assumptions and sharing knowledge acquired during their past work experience. 

      The final part of the course was to understand the multiple methods of valuation through the Interco case. In this case, the MBA participants had to recommend whether to sell the company at the price offered. The recommendation made by participants varied, and it was interesting to see how different assumptions lead to different proposals. 

      The course was intense. Many participants ended up working late evenings on group assignments, but the learning experience was immense. The course wrapped up with a big applause for the Professor James Seward for his excellent course on Advanced Finance. When asked about the course, Ilias Lappas, who is an aeronautical engineer at the Ministry of Defense in Greece, commented “Advanced Finance was a very interesting and hands-on lecture since most of the teaching was about analyzing real-life business cases. It was after reflecting about the learning experience of this lecture to realize that no matter what my function will be in my next working environment, I need to have a sound understanding of managerial finance and its implications. Built on the finance lecture we had last January, it enabled us to develop critical thinking and managerial judgment which will be of invaluable help in our development as leaders of tomorrow's society. Last but not least, I think that the effectiveness of case-based learning can be summarized in the following saying: Smart people learn from their mistakes, wise ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

      Written by Sampatkumar Bommayya 

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      Co-Creation: The Real Social-Media Revolution


      Unavoidably, the bubble will burst. When it does, the true revolution inside the bubble will be revealed: the new connections developing between internal employees on one end and customers, suppliers, and partners on the other that are allowing them to co-create new relationships and offerings and reinvent the operating model of each firm.
      The problem is that this co-creation requires some a priori conceptualization of which internal and external people need to work together, what they want to do together, and what value they will create as a new community. This is no easy task since by its very nature, co-creation requires mobilizing people across department and company boundaries. Sadly, most social business initiatives are naïve, technology-driven ones without any planning or cross-organizational mobilization. The result: a disjointed flow of mediocre ideas, leading a large number of social projects to be dead on arrival.
      To avoid this unenviable fate, a good place for companies to start is to connect their internal sales and service people with customers and their communities on social media. Burberry, the iconic British luxury-brand purveyor of clothing, fragrances, and fashion accessories, offers a good illustration of this strategic yet pragmatic approach. Angela Ahrendts, Burberry's CEO, has a grand vision of her company as a social enterprise where all employees, customers, and suppliers share the same experience of the Burberry brand, whether through physical stores or digital platforms ("Burberry World").
      Beyond the lofty vision, the heart of Burberry World is a suite of applications developed by Salesforce.com that allows stores' sales and service people and customers to re-invent their interactions as a mini-community. Through a software program called Chatter, sales and service people not only have access to traditional CRM transactional data, they can also see an aggregation of their customers' social media activities and can comment, in the store or remotely, on customers' recent Tweets or blog entries. All of that's from the store staffer's point of view.
      But customers can also engage on their terms: They can have their personal Burberry portal and initiate conversations on a variety of lifestyle issues (music and fashion are big). Not coincidentally, portals also generate business for Burberry: Customers use them to make store appointments to check out a new collection item or to replace a lost belt or button.
      Both parties are guided by self-interest. They are as engaged as they wish to be (many are; some aren't at all). Use of the platform by the store employee is driven by her perception of whether it helps her generate leads and close the sale. Customers decide whether the Burberry portal enhances their personal brand. The platform unleashes mutual emotions and generates data useful to both parties.

      The scope of co-creation is not limited to the sales and service interaction. Customers can remotely participate in fashion shows and order items directly off the runway. They can suggest designs for the next trench coat. Most importantly, Burberry's entire marketing is increasingly the aggregation of all these conversations between employees and customers — a kind of bottom-up community marketing (although Burberry's own voice remains powerful in influencing the community's perception of the brand). In addition to monitoring everything that gets said about its brand, the firm pre-tests many aspects of its marketing and communication content through another piece of Salesforce.com software called Buddy Media, making the brand itself increasingly co-developed with the community.
      The social platform is a key enabler, but the ultimate power of the Burberry model resides in the co-creation forces it unleashes between the firm's internal sales, service, and marketing people and the firm's customers. Burberry is demonstrating that human co-creation is the true revolution.

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      Sheryl Sandberg: The HBR Interview


      TRANSCRIPT

      SARAH GREEN: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I'm Sarah Green. For this week's podcast we're featuring a conversation between Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and HBR Editor in Chief, Adi Ignatius. They sat down recently, in California, to talk about Sheryl's new book, Lean In. What follows are some excerpts from their conversation. Enjoy.
      ADI IGNATIUS: So who is the book for? And what is the ultimate takeaway you would like? Or the primary takeaway you would like from it?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I think the book is for any woman who wants advice on how to sit at any table she wants to sit at. And any man who wants to be part of creating a more equal world, both at home and in the workforce.
      You know, we know that institutions that can use the talents of the full workforce perform better. There's data that suggests that. I think that increasingly will be proven to be true. We also know that more equal marriages are happier and more stable. And so I think there's a lot of potential for this to have very positive effects for our organizations and for our homes.
      ADI IGNATIUS: OK. So I want to come back to a bunch that-- yeah, you're doing a big publicity roll-out, Oprah, Time Magazine, other things. You've become, effectively, a major spokesperson for some of these topics. How do you fit that into your world? How does that fit our conflict with what you're doing at Facebook?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: So I think it's really complimentary to my work at Facebook if I want us to build the best products. And one of the ways we do that is we have to be able to attract and retain the very best people. And that means attracting and retaining men and women.
      Organizations will tell you exactly what the data shows. You get women in the door, but then, at the senior levels, they lose them. Warren Buffett has said, I think quite graciously and famously, that he only had to compete with half the population.
      You know, more people get in the race, the running time is going to be faster. So we need to get more people in the race. And get more people to stay in the race.
      ADI IGNATIUS: But back to the question of Facebook, I mean, so if people pay attention to your message you will have helped every company. You will have helped your competitors as well as Facebook. So again, how do you know when it's too much? I mean, how do you wall off what is becoming a bigger, and bigger, and bigger role for yourself?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I still spend a very small fraction of time on this, compared to the time I spent on Facebook. But I do you think that it's a message that helps Facebook. Ever since I've been more public on women we have a great track record at getting amazing women to apply, getting strong women to stay. This helps make the workplace better for men, too.
      I had a morning meeting and there was a man who worked here a couple of years ago and he missed the meeting. And he sent me an email and said, hey, I missed your meeting. Just wanted you to know the reason I missed your meeting is, because of your encouragement, I take my kids to school half the time, now. Thank you. And I knew I could miss your meeting-- and it was a big meeting-- because of that. Thank you. This is why I love working here.
      ADI IGNATIUS: He wasn't playing you?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I guess he could have been. Ask him. But he still here, and he's really happy. And he's a star. And when you ask him why he's here, he'll say, I love Facebook's mission. I love what you're doing. And I love that you care about my life, too. And that is, I think, pretty unique, but it makes our employees pretty loyal.
      ADI IGNATIUS: You know, I often try to interview female executives, CEOs, and I say, I'd like to talk to you about the experience of being a female business leader in what is still essentially a boy's club. And usually the response I get, and you talk about in the book, is people say, look I don't view myself as a female. So yeah, I'm just a CEO. And I wonder-- I understand that for public consumption people have to say that, but surely there's a difference? And I guess what can be learned from female experience in roles like this?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: Yeah, I mean, all of us do that. I did that. Had you asked me that question, I don't know, five years ago, I would have said the same thing. And there's a reason we don't talk about gender. No one talks about gender in the workplace.
      Women don't talk about it, because you're afraid if you say the words, I'm a woman, basically, what the other person is going to hear is, I want special treatment or I'm going to sue you. Neither of which you mean. But that's what they hear.
      And a man who runs a large organization told me-- and won't go on record, so he means it-- that it's easier to talk about your sex life in public than it is to talk about gender. So one of the goals I have with writing Lean In is really to make gender an OK topic in the workplace. Because there's so many things that would make this all work better if we would discuss it.
      ADI IGNATIUS: So is the idea then that men and women become more like each other? Or that we really celebrate the differences? You know, not try to minimize them, but identify them and kind of celebrate them?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I think we want to understand the differences and celebrate them. I think we want to break down the stereotypical limitations to our choices. See I don't think we have a real choice. When people say the work choice, what they mean is women can choose to work or stay home.
      They don't really mean that men can work in the home, and be as respected as a woman can. Of all the working families with two parents, and one parent is an at home full-time parent, 4% of those are men. 4%. We don't really have choice for men. Men are not encouraged.
      I have friends, male friends, who have tried to do that. Some of them still do. And the world is not very welcoming, or respectful, or encouraging of, it's a great job to be a full-time at home dad. And we need to change that. We need to stop naming the class as Mommy and Me. Mommy and Me is not welcoming to fathers.
      And the same thing for women, that we don't really encourage leadership for women. We try. But we know that we call our daughters bossy, and not our sons. And so women are given these messages that are not very subtle, all through their lives, that are really very anti leadership.
      And so what I'm hoping to be part of doing, and just play my own small part, is broadening those choices. Because if we broaden those choices, we end up in a world where all of us have more opportunity. And we should have better results as a result of that opportunity.
      ADI IGNATIUS: In your book you anticipated some of the criticisms. Well, I think, you've mentioned some of the criticisms you faced in the past, and anticipated some of them, then you rounded them. So Anne-Marie Slaughter, in her piece, in Atlantic, she said, in a sense, in one way, the arguments that you're making, are essentially, on one level, blaming women. You know, what is wrong with you? Her argument that that's sort of misplaced. That it's asking too much of women, and it's putting in the blame where it doesn't belong. How do you respond to that argument?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I think there are all kinds of hurdles women face. Women face huge numbers of institutional barriers, discrimination, assumptions about them, lack of flexibility, all of the things she talked about. Which are absolutely real.
      We also face barriers that exists within ourselves, or that are the results of the socialization that we've been given. So we are told, really, women shouldn't have strong voices, women shouldn't sit at tables. And then we internalize that. And we do it to ourselves. And it takes both.
      We have to break down the institutional barriers women face. I think one of the best ways to do that, and the fastest way, is to get more women into positions of power, so that they can do it. You know, Google has pregnancy parking because I got pregnant, and I was senior enough when I realized it was really hard to walk from the back of the parking lot all the way to the front.
      I was senior enough to walk into Larry and Sergey's office and say, we need pregnancy parking. And Sergey looked up and said, we sure do. I never thought it. I never thought of it either. But I was a senior enough to demand it.
      And I'm long gone from Google, but pregnancy parking is still there. And so one of the best ways to break down those institutional barriers is for women to get those positions of power. But also men can do it. But we also need to talk about the internal barriers we face.
      And I'm not trying to have the whole debate. I'm not trying to say it's the whole answer. I'm trying to add to this side of the debate, because I think it takes both. And that doesn't mean we're blaming women. It means we're helping them see what they have the power to do.
      Alice Walker has this great quote I love, I won't get it exactly right without looking it up, but the fastest way to give up power is to think you don't have any. And so, there is so much we can do. So much we can do. And I think that's the most empowering part of when someone tells me there's a big problem, that's great. But if they tell me there's a big problem and I can be part of fixing it, that's so much more empowering.
      ADI IGNATIUS: So you got a lot of attention for telling people that you go home at 5:30. Shouldn't we all go home at 5:30? And shouldn't we all go home at 5:30 and shut off?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: We should all find ways to be able to do the things we want to do in our lives. And I not, in any of this, the book, or going home at 5:30, I'm not trying to be prescriptive and say, here's what I do and everyone should do what I do.
      When I said publicly, I'm coming home at 5:30, which, I took a deep breath. I mean, that's a hard thing to admit, no matter where you are your career. But I did it on purpose to say to people, look, this is how I'm doing this. I can be both a mother and a professional. And I do it by going home at 5:30.
      I also said, I go home at 5:30. My kids are young. I have dinner with them. I put them in the bath. I put them to bed. And then I get back online. We want people to have the flexibility they need. And it's not just people with children, it's people without children.
      When I was in business school there was a panel, women in consulting panel, and I was thinking about going into consulting, so I went. And there were a couple women on the panel. And they asked questions, you know, how do you do it all? And there was one single woman without kids.
      And she said, I'm so tired of people asking everyone else with kids, that they need to go home. It's as if going home for your kid's soccer game or your kid's is so legitimate. I need to go to a bar. I need to go to a bar so I can preserve the option that I can meet someone, so I can one day have a kid.
      And so workplace flexibility is important for all of us. And for me, it's going home at 5:30. But for you it might be something else. But as much flexibility as we can give ourselves and each other.
      ADI IGNATIUS: One of the phrases you use in the book is you talk about reigniting the revolution. So talk a little bit about that. How would that revolution unfold?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: So I think what's happened is that women are making more and more progress at every level, except the leadership level. We've got 50% of the college degrees 30 years ago. We are getting more and more college degrees every year, more and more graduate degrees, more and more entry level jobs. But progress at the top has stalled.
      Women have been 14% to 15% of the, kind of, C level jobs in corporate America for 10 years. We've been 16% to 17% of the board seats for 10 years. So it's not moving anymore. So we have to understand that, if the revolution was so that women would have an equal voice in the decisions that are made in our world, it's stalled.
      And decisions are made every table. They're made in the boardroom, and they're made at the PTA meeting. And there aren't enough women sitting at those tables. And there aren't enough women sitting at the tables where decisions are made.
      And so if I talk about reigniting the revolution, what I mean is, one, I want us to notice. I can't tell you how many times when I've sat-- people watch, you know, my TED talk, and it starts out with women are not getting their share of the top jobs anywhere in the world. People find that shocking. They're shocked. Really? I thought women were taking over?
      Well if 15% is taking over, or 20% of the commerce-- look at the recent Congressional elections. There were all these headlines, women are taking over the Congress. 20% is not taking over. 20% is a fifth. And so we have to recognize that we're going to have to do something differently if we want more seats at the table where decisions are made. And I would like more women to have more seats at those tables.
      ADI IGNATIUS: There are people who will read this book and will say, OK, there's some interesting ideas here, but is Sheryl Sandberg a reasonable role model? And it's both criticism and praise. She's top of her class at Harvard, and she has a great husband, and a great job, and she doesn't understand the struggles that other women are facing every day. And at that point there's a disconnect.
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I'm incredibly fortunate. And I've had incredible opportunities, and mentors, and support. And I'm really grateful for all of that. A lot of this book is about, and a lot of the struggles, are the same struggles women face. Right? The struggle to believe in yourself. The struggle to not feel guilty. Get enough sleep. Believe that you can be both a professional and a parent.
      Both anecdotally, from all the comment and letters that I got after the TED talk, end in all the research and data. These are very common themes across women. And this isn't about me. And I don't hold myself out as the role model everyone should follow.
      I am trying to be honest about the choices I face. Trying to give voice to the struggles we don't talk about that women face in the workplace, so that all women, and men, can be part of moving towards an equal world.
      ADI IGNATIUS: Can you talk about some concrete things that, whether it's Facebook or other companies are doing that really are getting [INAUDIBLE]?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: Whole bunch of things. Organizations holding people responsible for results, not appearance of trying to get results. There is a culture of face time. It's so prevalent, that people want to hold themselves responsible for results.
      We had an employee here for a while named [? Chama ?] [? Palagaya, ?] who, really famously, didn't come in very much. But he absolutely did an unbelievable job for this company. And we would all joke about it all the time. Like, nice of you to come to the office. We had an employee here for while, who really, no one had ever met, literally. No one had met this guy.
      He coded, like, at his house. He really didn't like talking to people. But he built the most amazing products. And he became really well known, so no one cared if they ever saw him.
      Now, not every organization can have the flexibility of Silicon Valley, certainly retail, but almost all organizations can have more flexibility. And it starts with holding people accountable for results, not the appearance of having results.
      I think, talking about gender. Talking about gender. How are we going to get women to take the steps they need to take to come back after maternity leave, if we will never say to them, what are your plans? How do we talk about women, tell them not to lean back-- I call it, don't leave before you leave-- how do we talk to women about not leaving before they leave, if we're never willing to talk about it?
      Just talking about gender. Ken Chenault is an amazing example. The data shows very clearly that women get interrupted more than men. If that happens in meeting Ken is at-- and I've heard this from Ken, and from others at American Express-- he's stops the meeting. And then says, you know, you just interrupted her.
      That completely changes behavior. And think about the business results of that. So he's now going to run a company where you get the best results from everyone, because everyone's voice is heard at the table.
      I think formal programs for mentorship and sponsorship, or, I don't know if it has to be formal or informal, but explicitly encouraging men to sponsor women. The data shows really clearly that the majority of men in the workplace are afraid to be alone with a woman. That is such a big deal. Mentorship is all about being alone with a person and talking to them one-on-one. Mentorship is all about that.
      So if the majority of men in the workplace are afraid to be alone with a woman, how are we going to get me to mentor women? And if the majority of the people in positions of power are men, how do we get men to mentor and sponsor women?
      I think acknowledging that we are explicitly encouraging men and women at the senior levels to mentor women, gives men not just permission, but it should be a badge of honor to be alone talking about her career and a woman. You shouldn't be someone walking by, and nervous that someone is going to see you. But you should be proud that you're having those conversations. Organizations need to do that.
      ADI IGNATIUS: You obviously had a fabulous mentor in Larry Summers. I don't think I've ever had a mentor. To what extent did that help you? And then I want to ask, how does somebody find a mentor like that?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I think it helped tremendously. I've had a lot of mentors over the course of my career. Larry being one of the absolutely most important. And certainly the first. But you know, Larry offered to be my thesis adviser in college. And then he took me with him to the World Bank. And then he offered me a job at Treasury. And those opportunities are ones I wouldn't have had without him.
      I think the important thing to tell, there's two different messages. The message for people in power, both men and women, is to mentor, and mentor women not just men. We tend to mentor and hire people like us. We don't mean to do it. Women do it, too.
      But that means more men get mentored. And that is the perpetuation of the boys' network that I don't think anyone wants, even the men who are doing it, probably inadvertently. So I think telling them, explicitly, to mentor women.
      For women, I think, we are in a very dangerous place where we keep telling women how important it is to get mentors and sponsors. So then women walk up to strangers and say, will you be my mentor? Will you be my sponsor? And that's not how it works. That's not how a relationship is formed. You have to find real ways to build a relationship. And I think getting the right message to the right group is super important.
      ADI IGNATIUS: You talk a lot like-ability. And I want to ask a couple questions about that. First, and maybe data bears this out, that there's this assumption that we, that society, that people generally don't like female leaders. Why is that the default? I mean, why don't we love female leaders?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: So this is really important, I think, the heart. And this is what I did not understand when I was in business school. And I didn't understand until a few years ago. Even though I kind of knew it, I felt it intuitively, but I didn't understand the data. What the data shows more strongly than anything else in the differences about men and women, is that success and like-ability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.
      Which means that as someone gets more successful, they are liked less. Both men and women like them less if they're a woman. And both men women like them more if they're a man. The reason for that is that decades of social science research says that we want people to conform to our stereotypical views. We do.
      And when they don't conform to our stereotypical views, we don't like them as much. As so we expect men to have some leadership qualities, to be providers, to be aggressive, to have opinions, to speak out. We expect women to have communal qualities, to be givers, and sharers, and for the common good, not for themselves. And we hold people to those stereotypes.
      So when a man says here's my opinion and here's why you should do it. Or, here's why I deserve a raise. He is conforming to our stereotype and it's all good. When a woman says-- here's what we should do, here's why I want to raise, rather than here's what the team should do, here's what I want for you-- she's going against our stereotypical views, and we don't like her.
      And the problem is that we want to promote and hire people who are both competent and liked. And so that's just so much easier for men than women. I think there's a short-term answer and a long-term answer. The short-term answers are, we have to talk about this honestly. Because actually talking about this changes the dynamic.
      And once you start telling, if you tell people, everyone has a fine reaction to a man asking for a raise, but a negative reaction to a woman. Once you tell someone that, their reaction the next time a woman asks for a raise changes. So simply putting sunlight on that, explaining it, changes it.
      The second is, we have to be-- I think we have to be realists. There's some great work going on at HBS and Harvard on women have to negotiate differently. When I was negotiating with Mark, I didn't just get to say, here's what I want to be paid. And I only did this implicitly, I haven't done the research. But I said, you're hiring me to lead your negotiating teams. You want me to be a good negotiator. I'm bringing those same skills. And then I negotiated, and I think [? a lot ?] better. So we need to teach women what to do.
      But I think the real solution-- which is probably not as immediate, but is hopefully medium-term, not even long-term-- if we just got more women in leadership roles and more men in nurturing roles, our fundamental assumptions would change. And it would no longer violate our assumptions of what a woman is to see her as a leader. It wouldn't be so unusual. And then that negative reaction we're all having, would go away.
      ADI IGNATIUS: At a certain level, I read your book and thought, wow, finding a great husband, I don't know how many potentials there are out there, is as good a determinant as any, for sort of--
      SHERYL SANDBERG: It's the most important career decision a woman makes. Single. The single most important career decision a woman makes is, if they're going to have a life partner, and if that partner is going to support her career. And support that career does not mean, oh, honey, I support you. Support that career means getting up in the middle of the night and changing half the diapers. Number one determinate.
      ADI IGNATIUS: So I feel like, anecdotally, men are getting better in that respect. Is there any data that says that?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: Oh, they're getting way better. They're still doing much, much, much less than half. So a married couple, both of them work full-time, the woman will do 30% more child care and 40% more housework than a man.
      So much better, than our husband's generation. But women still largely have two jobs, and men have one. And if men will do more of the home to support them. And you know, the stereotype of a successful professional woman has long been that she wasn't married. But that's not true.
      Most of the successful professional women are married. Which means, they have partners. And those women have successful partners. I don't know anyone who's a successful woman who has a partner. Some don't. But that partner is not super supportive.
      ADI IGNATIUS: I think I'm right in quoting you as having said at one point, that at your age-- and you're not even remotely old, 43, OK-- that it's sort of too late for your generation. And I didn't quite understand that.
      SHERYL SANDBERG: I don't believe that my generation will achieve 50% of the top jobs in any industry. But I hope to still be alive when we get to 50% of Congress, or we get to 50% of the CEO jobs. But I don't believe it will be my peers that do that. I would love to be wrong.
      ADI IGNATIUS: So it's not too late to join the struggle.
      SHERYL SANDBERG: Absolutely. And it's not too late for our [INAUDIBLE]. And we can keep increasing, but with no progress at those 15, and 10 years, the numbers are going to have to be very, very dramatically for that to happen. And I think we need to commit ourselves to those working [? very ?] happily.
      If my book is a Manifesto or Feminist Manifesto, it's one that is saying, we need to commit to real equality. And what real equality means is more women in leadership roles, and more men helping in the home.
      ADI IGNATIUS: You're a Harvard Business School grad. This is HBS's 50th anniversary of accepting women there. What should HBS be doing differently? What should institutions like that be doing, before you get to the professional level?
      SHERYL SANDBERG: HBS is an example in my book of one of the institutions that's actually done the best job. And I think Frances Frei and Youngme Moon are models that everyone should be following. A couple years ago, not very recently-- and Dean Nitin, I think, is a hero of this-- they came in and made it explicit that they wanted, forever at HBS-- American men have outperformed international students and women.
      And they came in and said, we're going to broaden our definition of leadership. They gave a broader definition of leadership. Holding people responsible, not just for their own behavior, but for making other people better. And they worked on the soft stuff. They held everyone accountable, and then they worked on some curriculum things. But they were actually pretty small.
      They had a field study, and if you look, two years they closed the educational achievement gap at Harvard. In two years. And achievement gap that was there when I was there. And what's so exciting is satisfaction of the students went up, including the American men. And that, I think, is such an important example.
      So I think they had started talking about gender. They walked around and told people, women and international students, there's an academic gap between our male American students and women international students. They had started talking about why.
      They broadened the definition of leadership. I mean, this is kind of, not that hard stuff to do. But they made it explicit. And they did it, in two years. And Harvard Business School is a very established institution. I think it's such a great example for what other organizations can do. But we have to talk about gender to do it. This will not happen without talking about gender.
      ADI IGNATIUS: I think the biggest challenge you're going to have, and these ideas are going to have, is simply a sense that people have been fighting this battle for decades. And your book points out how small the progress has been.
      SHERYL SANDBERG: Yeah. But I think now's is our time. I really believe this. That now is the time. That the external barriers, which are still there, are just so much lower than they were. And, you know, my mother was told by her parents, and her school, and her professors, and everyone, that she could be a nurse or a teacher.
      That's what they told her. You have two choices. You can be a nurse or a teacher. That is not what we are. My childhood was the childhood of firsts. The first woman in space, the first Speaker of the House just happened. This is within our grasp. I really believe this is within our grasps. And HBS shows that these cultural shifts can happen. And I think if we start acknowledging what the real issues are, we can solve them. And it's not that hard if we're committed to doing it.


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      Getting CLARITY: Hydrogel process developed at Stanford creates transparent brain

      BY ANDREW MYERS


      Combining neuroscience and chemical engineering, researchers at Stanford University have developed a process that renders a mouse brain transparent. The postmortem brain remains whole — not sliced or sectioned in any way — with its three-dimensional complexity of fine wiring and molecular structures completely intact and able to be measured and probed at will with visible light and chemicals.

      The process, called CLARITY, ushers in an entirely new era of whole-organ imaging that stands to fundamentally change our scientific understanding of the most-important-but-least-understood of organs, the brain, and potentially other organs, as well.

      The process is described in a paper published online April 10 in Nature by bioengineer and psychiatrist Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, leading a multidisciplinary team, including postdoctoral scholar Kwanghun Chung, PhD.
      "Studying intact systems with this sort of molecular resolution and global scope — to be able to see the fine detail and the big picture at the same time — has been a major unmet goal in biology, and a goal that CLARITY begins to address," Deisseroth said.

      "This feat of chemical engineering promises to transform the way we study the brain's anatomy and how disease changes it," said Thomas Insel, MD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. "No longer will the in-depth study of our most important three-dimensional organ be constrained by two-dimensional methods."
      Courtesy of the Deisseroth lab description of photo
      Intact adult mouse brain before and after the two-day CLARITY process. In the image on the right, the fine brain structures can be seen faintly as the areas of blurriness above the words "number," "unexplored," "continent" and "stretches." [Click the image for the high-resolution version.]
      The research in this study was performed primarily on a mouse brain, but the researchers have used CLARITY on zebrafish and on preserved human brain samples with similar results, establishing a path for future studies of human samples and other organisms.

      "CLARITY promises to revolutionize our understanding of how local and global changes in brain structure and activity translate into behavior," said Paul Frankland, PhD, a senior scientist in neurosciences and mental health at theHospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto, who was not involved in the research. Frankland's colleague, senior scientist Sheena Josselyn, PhD, added that the process could turn the brain from "a mysterious black box" into something essentially transparent.

      An inscrutable place

      The mound of convoluted grey matter and wiring that is the brain is a complex and inscrutable place. Neuroscientists have struggled to fully understand its circuitry in their quest to comprehend how the brain works, and why, sometimes, it doesn't.

      Steve Fisch/Stanford School of Medicine
      David Miklos
      Karl Deisseroth
      CLARITY is the result of a research effort in Deisseroth's lab to extract the opaque elements — in particular the lipids — from a brain and yet keep the important features fully intact. Lipids are fatty molecules found throughout the brain and body. In the brain, especially, they help form cell membranes and give the brain much of its structure. Lipids pose a double challenge for biological study, however, because they make the brain largely impermeable both to chemicals and to light.

      Neuroscientists would have liked to extract the lipids to reveal the brain's fine structure without slicing or sectioning, but for one major hitch: removing these structurally important molecules causes the remaining tissue to fall apart.

      Prior investigations have focused instead on automating the slicing/sectioning approach, or in treating the brain with organic molecules that facilitate the penetration of light only, but not macromolecular probes. With CLARITY, Deisseroth's team has taken a fundamentally different approach.

      "We drew upon chemical engineering to transform biological tissue into a new state that is intact but optically transparent and permeable to macromolecules," said Chung, the paper's first author.

      This new form is created by replacing the brain's lipids with a hydrogel. The hydrogel is built from within the brain itself in a process conceptually similar to petrification, using what is initially a watery suspension of short, individual molecules known as hydrogel monomers. The intact, postmortem brain is immersed in the hydrogel solution and the monomers infuse the tissue. Then, when "thermally triggered," or heated slightly to about body temperature, the monomers begin to congeal into long molecular chains known as polymers, forming a mesh throughout the brain. This mesh holds everything together, but, importantly, it does not bind to the lipids.

      With the tissue shored up in this way, the team is able to vigorously and rapidly extract lipids through a process called electrophoresis. What remains is a 3-D, transparent brain with all of its important structures — neurons, axons, dendrites, synapses, proteins, nucleic acids and so forth — intact and in place.

      Going things one better

      CLARITY then goes one better. In preserving the full continuity of neuronal structures, CLARITY not only allows tracing of individual neural connections over long distances through the brain, but also provides a way to gather rich, molecular information describing a cell's function is that is not possible with other methods.

      "We thought that if we could remove the lipids nondestructively, we might be able to get both light and macromolecules to penetrate deep into tissue, allowing not only 3-D imaging, but also 3-D molecular analysis of the intact brain," said Deisseroth, who holds the D.H. Chen Professorship.

      Using fluorescent antibodies that are known to seek out and attach themselves only to specific proteins, Deisseroth's team showed that it can target specific structures within the CLARITY-modified — or "clarified" — mouse brain and make those structures and only those structures light up under illumination. The researchers can trace neural circuits through the entire brain or explore deeply into the nuances of local circuit wiring. They can see the relationships between cells and investigate subcellular structures. They can even look at chemical relationships of protein complexes, nucleic acids and neurotransmitters.

      Courtesy of the Deisseroth labdescription of photo
      A three-dimensional rendering of clarified brain imaged from below (ventral half). A fly-through video of rodent brain is available here.
      "Being able to determine the molecular structure of various cells and their contacts through antibody staining is a core capability of CLARITY, separate from the optical transparency, which enables us to visualize relationships among brain components in fundamentally new ways," said Deisseroth, who is one of 15 experts on the "dream team" that will map out goals for the $100 million brain research initiative announced April 2 by President Obama.

      And in yet another significant capability from a research standpoint, researchers are now able to destain the clarified brain, flushing out the fluorescent antibodies and repeating the staining process anew using different antibodies to explore different molecular targets in the same brain. 

      This staining/destaining process can be repeated multiple times, the authors showed, and the different data sets aligned with one another.

      Opening the door

      CLARITY has accordingly made it possible to perform highly detailed, fine-structural analysis on intact brains — even human tissues that have been preserved for many years, the team showed. Transforming human brains into transparent-but-stable specimens with accessible wiring and molecular detail may yield improved understanding of the structural underpinnings of brain function and disease.

      Courtesy of the Deisseroth labdescription of photo
      Three-dimensional view of stained hippocampus showing fluorescent-expressing neurons (green), connecting interneurons (red) and supporting glia (blue).
      Beyond the immediate and apparent benefit to neuroscience, Deisseroth cautioned that CLARITY has leapfrogged our ability to deal with the data. "Turning massive amounts of data into useful insight poses immense computational challenges that will have to be addressed. We will have to develop improved computational approaches to image segmentation, 3-D image registration, automated tracing and image acquisition," he said.

      Indeed, such pressures will increase as CLARITY could begin to support a deeper understanding of large-scale intact biological systems and organs, perhaps even entire organisms.

      "Of particular interest for future study are intrasystem relationships, not only in the mammalian brain but also in other tissues or diseases for which full understanding is only possible when thorough analysis of single, intact systems can be conducted," Deisseroth said. "CLARITY may be applicable to any biological system, and it will be interesting to see how other branches of biology may put it to use."

      Other co-authors include undergraduate student Jenelle Wallace; graduate studentsSung-Yon Kim, Kelly Zalocusky, Joanna Mattis, Aleksandra Denisin and Logan Grosenick; research assistants Sandhiya Kalyanasundaram, Julie Mirzabekov, Sally Pak and Charu Ramakrishnan; postdoctoral scholars Aaron Andalman, PhD, and Tom Davidson, PhD; former undergraduate student Hannah Bernstein; and former staff scientist Viviana Gradinaru.

      The research is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (grant MH099647); theNational Science Foundation; the Simons Foundation; the President and Provost of Stanford University; the Wiegers, Snyder, Reeves, Gatsby and Yu foundations; the DARPA REPAIRprogram; and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
      Stanford's Department of Bioengineering also supported the work. The department is jointly operated by the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine.



      Andrew Myers is the associate communications director for the School of Engineering.


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      Learning analytics at Stanford takes huge leap forward with MOOCs

      Stanford's Lytics Lab studies data from massive online courses to learn more about how we learn.
      L.A. CiceroEmily Schneider, Rene Kizilcec and Chris Piech
      Graduate students Emily Schneider, Rene Kizilcec and Chris Piech work on a conference presentation describing their work analyzing student behavior in massive open online courses.
      The hottest thing about online learning might be the opportunity it affords for learning about how people learn. It can tell us when students get fed up with lectures, how men and women react differently, the degree to which helping others can help students and how online forums can stimulate better performance.
      All that and more goes inside what Stanford's Learning Analytics group calls the data cauldron. Comprising graduate students, researchers, professors and visitors from the fields of education, computer science, communication and sociology, the Lytics Lab meets weekly under the auspices of the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning and the  Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) program at the Graduate School of Education.
      Stanford's early adoption of online learning has given the university a head start not only with the classes per se but also with the information deriving from them.
      Lytics meetings used to be modest affairs. But word has gotten out, and the shortage of chairs attests to the shared assumption that online learning does not simply hold out promise to millions of potential students around the world and hundreds of Stanford students. It also might help answer a multitude of questions about how humans learn and interact.
      Three members of the group presented the results of their research at the Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) meeting in Leuven, Belgium, this week. Their project is one of several ongoing team projects in Lytics, which include a dashboard to help instructors monitor student engagement; a study of peer assessment based on 63,000 peer grades in a massive open online course on human-computer interaction; automated feedback for coding assignments; and predictors of student performance.

      Stirring the data cauldron

      Learning analytics refers to the interpretation of a wide range of data produced by and gathered on behalf of students to assess progress, predict performance and identify problems. Data are collected when students complete assignments, take exams, watch videos, participate on class forums or do peer assessments. As more data are collected, new questions can be asked, and classes can improve.
      There is admittedly a great deal of hype and misunderstanding about massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which was what prompted the three doctoral students presenting in Leuven to begin their research.
      The trio – René Kizilcec, in the Department of Communication; Chris Piech, in the Department of Computer Science; and Emily Schneider, in the LSTD program – were concerned about some of the criticism aimed at MOOCs and wanted good data on how to counter it.
      Why do so many students start a class and then quickly drop out? Why, and when, do they bypass certain elements of online classes? And why are they taking the classes to begin with? In the researchers' opinion, the wrong questions were being asked.
      In their paper, "Deconstructing Disengagements: Analyzing Learner Subpopulations in Massive Open Online Courses," Kizilcec, Piech and Schneider looked at student behavior in three MOOCs offered by Stanford faculty:Computer Science 101, a high-school-level course; Algorithms: Design and Analysis, at the undergraduate level; and the graduate-level Probabilistic Graphical Models.
      They found that people take classes or stop for different reasons, and therefore referring globally to "dropouts" makes no sense in the online context. They identified four groups of participants: those who completed most assignments, those who audited, those who gradually disengaged and those who sporadically sampled. (Most students who sign up never actually show up, making their inclusion in the data problematic.) The point of all this is not simply to record who is doing what but to "provide educators, instructional designers and platform developers with insights for designing effective and potentially adaptive learning environments that best meet the needs of MOOC participants," the researchers wrote.
      For example, in all three computer science courses they analyzed, they found a high correlation between "completing learners" and participation on forum pages, suggesting a positive feedback loop: The more students interacted with others on the forum page, the better they learned. This led the researchers to suggest that designers should consider building other community-oriented features, including regularly scheduled videos and discussions, to promote social behavior.
      While many people take online courses for certification and skills acquisition, many more take them simply for intellectual stimulation – again making "completion" a questionable criterion of worth. In that regard, auditors should be encouraged, not reprimanded for not taking quizzes they don't need, the researchers wrote. The completion rates for the three classes, with percentages based on initial enrollment, were 27 percent for the high-school-level class, 8 percent for the undergraduate-level course and 5 percent for the graduate-level class. But 74 percent of the undergraduate students and 80 percent of the enrollees in the graduate class sampled, meaning they may well have dipped in and out according to time constraints and interest.
      Finally, the researchers found substantial gender differences in the more advanced classes. Counting "active learners," defined as those who did anything at all on the website (around half the original enrollees), 64 percent of the high-school-level class were men, and the percentage rose to 88 percent men for both the undergraduate-level and graduate-level courses.

      Interdisciplinary blend

      Kizilcec, Piech and Schneider are enrolled in three different schools at Stanford; respectively, Humanities and Sciences, Engineering, and Education. But that only makes them work more fluidly, they say.
      "We're all humanists," said Schneider, whose undergraduate degree is in English from Swarthmore, "and first and foremost we're committed to the humans who are learning through these systems. On the other side of the sea of data there are people coming to MOOCs from a vast range of backgrounds, and we want to optimize systems to best meet their needs."
      Piech is the son of teachers, and he grew up in what he described as an "educational environment," first in Kenya and then in Malaysia. "I always knew I wanted to do something with education," he said. "I grew up watching people trying to do good things, and I spent lots of time thinking how I should make my mark on the world." Piech was an undergraduate teaching assistant in CS106, Programming Methodology, at Stanford, and it was that experience that cemented his wish to combine computer science with education.
      Kizilcec, meanwhile, has an undergraduate degree in philosophy and economics from University College, London. "I'm really excited about this work," he said. "On the one hand, it can change millions of people's lives. And, on the other, online learning allows us to learn about learning in a totally unprecedented way."
      Roy Pea, the David Jacks Professor at the Graduate School of Education, is adviser to many of the students in the Lytics Lab and a keynote speaker at the LAK meeting. The group, he says, "is an exciting innovator at the nexus of learning sciences and learning analytics, and that is my central keynote theme."

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      The Customer Journey Through the Omnichannel 

      Dan Wilson
      Dan Wilson, NA 

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      Mobile analytics to refine multichannel retail marketing: a case study

      Joe Barber
      Joe Barber has been involved in mobile for over 8 years and is founder and CEO of Modapt.com. He was also the original founder of Third Screen and more recently founder and director of Sniip.com. Joe is a guest speaker at many trade events and regularly consults on mobile and the many aspects of integrating this medium into an omni-channel strategy.
      Website analytics provide a wealth of information, and even the free Google Analytics is well supported by myriad graphs and charts dissecting website traffic in just about every way imaginable. Leveraging this data to improve electronic direct marketing (eDM) efforts and refining site structure, however, seems to be a challenge and an ignored discipline.
      There are aspects of mobile website usage that, when combined with good analytics, can provide a very valuable insight into the behaviour of your customers and should be used to refine a range of customer engagement strategies. Many of these insights can be derived only from mobile usage.
      I was invited recently to join a US-based team that was given the task of analysing their site statistics and using this data to refine many aspects of their marketing tactics encompassing email, SMS, letterbox catalogues, in-store promotions and even site design adjustments. In the past, the primary use of analytics was to see how ‘hits’ or sessions were increasing and when to look at conversion rates to sales (the site was an online store generating around 2.1 times its largest physical store in a network of 780 stores).
      The approach to reviewing the site traffic was simplistic and focused on conversion rates and the raw dollars being generated. Very little was done to link back eDM executions and their content to the impact on sales versus traffic.
      If a particular promotion generated a 20% traffic spike, everyone got excited. But nothing was being done to see if ‘normal’ conversion rates increased or decreased and how deep visitation went into the site. No effort was being applied to refining the site structure to adjust the journey for a consumer, nor was there any effort to discriminate between mobile and desktop.
      Some very interesting insights emerged from the team analysing six months of data, which was provided along with a detailed schedule of all eDMs, product specials, above the line activities and so on. The following paragraphs are some of the more intriguing facets of that analysis work.
      With mobile, there is the ability to collect and log location-based data. This will prompt the user for permission to ‘locate’ their device. Interestingly, over a six-month period consumers agreeing to be located went from 32% up to 67%. There are so many applications on mobiles that request this data that consumers are becoming less fearful of accepting.
      This location-based data, especially if logged with every progressive page transition, provides some very valuable data when combined with things like search terms used on the site.
      Analysing the search data delivered some fascinating information. The search terms were simplistically broken up into three categories: category type words like ‘jeans’ or ‘televisions’, model-specific phrases like ‘Belkin N600’ and then the rest. On the desktop site, model-specific phrases were less than 17% of all searches performed, but on mobile they accounted for a staggering 67% of the phrases.
      We then looked at the locationbased data and started mapping where consumers were using specific make/model search terms. I am sure there could have been an easier way, but for us this was a very arduous task! Due to the manual nature of what we were doing, we only had a small sample space, but we found that in nearly 90% of cases when a model-specific search phrase was used the consumer was close to or inside a competitor’s premises. The consumer was price checking!
      It’s important to appreciate the number of sessions analysed was relatively small compared to overall traffic. But on mobile, where the consumer was clearly in a residential or office area, the behaviour was more aligned with desktop, and search terms became more generic and less targeted.
      Think about what you present to a consumer searching your site for a specific make or model of product, on a mobile you are able to locate. It’s a consumer that knows what they want and are simply after the best buy, or are comparing models and makes for prices. Regardless, they are more than just a ‘site visitor’ browsing through your offering.
      Imagine if at this stage in the site design you implemented some ‘close’ sale strategies. You could de-clutter web pages to focus on their requirements. With your top three or four competitors’ locations loaded into the back-end systems, you would immediately be able to discern if someone on your site is inside a competitor’s store and then tailor the search result to close the sale. Or, if they’re located near your own retail outlet, you could drive them into your store.
      If there is good competitive understanding on prices, then ensure whatever price you deliver is the ‘best’ price and make it a time-limited offer if less than usual; for example: ‘Our regular price is $X, but for the next 30 minutes you can have it for $Y’.
      Drive the customer into your store with special bundles that make the price check more complicated, but your offering more attractive, such as: ‘If you come into our store just three minutes away from where you are we can offer the TV with gold-level HDMI cable, personal video recorder and free delivery for just $X’.
      The interception of search terms with location-based data delivers a new level of insight about the digital consumer. It gives you back the ability to use sales strategies to close a deal that can be customised by behaviour almost in the same way as in-store staff would approach a consumer. Remove the generic one-size-fits-all approach to their online experience.
      A similar strategy was implemented for click-through off eDM pieces where location-based data was known. The consumer location was analysed to discern the type of page and content being presented and was customised based on proximity to a physical store, time of day, whether they were in transit or a fixed position and the type of promotion being delivered.
      Time of day was very important and saw some big variations in search terms, navigation behaviour, page views and transaction rates on mobile. Multi-product purchases on mobile, for example, were significantly higher after hours than during normal shopping hours.
      The next interesting discovery was when we started looking at basket composition by desktop and mobile, along with conversion rates and shopping cart abandonment. Per transaction, average session page views were almost 50% of that for desktop. In other words, on mobile, consumers browsed far less before concluding a purchase. So, on mobile we turned off banner adverts and simplified navigation and saw a 1.1% increase in conversion. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the data over a long period, so I am unsure if this is a related spike or not. But hopefully what this example is doing is getting you thinking about how to take the volumes of data and actually use it to refine and improve sales.
      The other interesting thing was the structure of the shopping carts between devices. Single-product purchases on mobile were seven times higher than on desktop. This is where some statistics can hide the nuggets of valuable information. The early site reports showed ‘average items per transaction’, but we wanted to know how many consumers purchased a single item.
      The other piece of data we had was cart abandonment rates, which were noticeably higher on mobile than on desktop. I am sure there are many ways to explain this, given mobile online usage is far more ‘interrupt’ driven than someone sitting at a PC. When your phone rings, you receive a text message or arrive at your destination, then the online session is interrupted.
      We implemented two changes on mobile. This is always dangerous, as it can be hard to correlate what impact each change had. First, we changed mobile to be single-click checkout by default. After checkout (we removed the shopping cart), consumers were offered other products to add to the order. This reduced abandonment rates by 9% and had no material impact on multi-product purchases.
      The second change was to ask for an email address at the time of displaying any product detail page. This was intended to enable a follow-up email for anyone not concluding a sale or abandoning at checkout. It also provided the ability to link the consumer to previous purchases, gauge their ‘loyalty’ status and engage them more personally.
      Originally, we actually asked for email at the start of a session and found less than 3% entered. When prompted at the product-level page, on the basis of ‘we can email you all this product information’, it jumped to a 35% collection rate. Of those emailed with a ‘hot offer’ after abandoning a checkout process, a further 4.3% were driven in-store showing the emailed coupon or went back online to conclude the transaction.
      The analysis, recommendations, site changes and rule guidelines extended to a 200-page report and changed entirely the way the in-house team now thinks about analytics and website design. The significant efforts that physical retail invests in store design, merchandise layout, structures, approaches, visuals, consumer flow, register positioning and pricing has traditionally never been so deeply applied to online. But after six months of many changes and a significant ‘rules engine’ implementation, the overall sales volumes and revenues have increased far more than natural growth and have generated a measurable increase of in-store foot traffic.
      Use the wealth of data that can be collected and leverage all aspects of the online experience across different devices and times of day to ‘personalise’ every online experience. Leverage location-based data and start to plot access trends by location and device and transaction ‘styles’. Online is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Online websites are being positioned as ‘middle ground’ to try to suit all consumers with a compromise. It doesn’t have to be that way. Marketing to the mobile audience can be very granular and very tailorable with the impact on sales potentially quite significant.

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      The Jobs Crisis: It May Not Be "Breaking News," But It's Definitely "Broken News"


      By Arianna Huffington

      BREAKING! This just in: the economy is terrible and the country is suffering its worst jobs crisis since the Depression... developing...
      Of course, this isn't actually breaking news -- it's aching news -- and, before the tragic bombings in Boston, the most important story going on. But you wouldn't know that if you watched any of the Sunday shows last week.
      On CBS' Face the Nation, the topics were the background check bill and immigration, with Senator Marco Rubio.
      On ABC's This Week we had the president's budget, Jay-Z's trip to Cuba, Ken Burns' Jackie Robinson documentary and immigration, with Senator Marco Rubio.
      On NBC's Meet the Press, they went with the background check bill, the president's budget, Ken Burns' Jackie Robinson documentary, and immigration, with Senator Marco Rubio.
      CNN's State of the Union went with a wild card -- North Korea -- and then the president's budget and immigration, with... (how'd you guess?) Senator Marco Rubio.
      Virtually unmentioned was the economy and the long-term jobs disaster that's been enveloping the country for five years now. The only mentions jobs got were in the context of the debate over whether immigrants might take away the jobs of hard-working Americans. The plight of many millions of Americans who are actually out of work is apparently not very newsworthy. Or at least not as newsworthy as an American rapper traveling in Cuba. Or a Cuban-American traveling in Washington to all four Sunday news shows.
      Yes, I know I've banged this drum before, but it is hard to believe that what the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls the "longest, and by most measures worst economic recession since the Great Depression" doesn't warrant a mention on shows ostensibly devoted to the biggest news stories. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Only in this case, the forest has largely been clear-cut.
      But just because something is old news doesn't mean it's not still important news. Perhaps we need to come up with an alternate term to the breathless "BREAKING" tag. How about "BROKEN"? Yes, the story has already been broken, but the real story is that it's still going. And going and going. And the top "BROKEN" news story is clearly our still-broken economy. Here's some supporting evidence:
      Only 88,000 new jobs were produced last month, and the only reason the unemployment rate ticked down to a still-alarming 7.6 percent is because so many people left the work force altogether, which sent the labor force participation rate down to 63.3 percent, the lowest point since 1979. If we were to include in the calculations those who have given up looking for work, the unemployment rate would actually be 9.8 percent.
      As of February, there were 12 million workers officially unemployed, but only 3.9 million job openings, which means a little over three unemployed job seekers for every open job. And of the nearly nine million jobs lost during the recession, only about six million have been recovered, leaving us with nearly three million fewer jobs than we had at the beginning of the economic downturn. At the current rate of growth, we're not due to get back to full employment until around 2020.
      And even for those who have found jobs, it's still a "BROKEN" story. As Jed Graham of Investor's Business Daily writes, "As bad as the current job recovery has been -- and it's by far the weakest since World War II -- the recovery in wages has been far worse."
      Graham notes that in the last recession, in 2001, the wage recession lasted only two and half years, much less than the four-year jobs recession that accompanied it. In that recession, at the point where we are now, relative to the start of our current recession, wages were up 8 percent over their previous high. But not this time. Graham cites a study last year that found that low-wage jobs made up 21 percent of this recession's losses but a whopping 58 percent of the recovered jobs. Which is one reason why real annual median household income continues to fall, most recently to just over $45,000 -- down from around $51,144 in 2010.
      As Brad Plumer put it, "America's middle-class jobs have been decimated since 2007, replaced largely by low-wage jobs." And this is a "BROKEN" news story that keeps on breaking. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, when middle class workers lose their jobs and find new ones at lower wages, over the next 25 years they'll earn an average of 11 percent less than workers who kept their jobs. And since our so-called recovery started, almost 40 percent of new jobs have come in low-wage areas like food service, retail and clerical jobs.
      For the long-term unemployed, the situation is verging on hopeless. According to The Atlantic's Matthew O'Brien, the long-term unemployment picture is "the scariest thing in the world." It's an alternate economy, he writes, that's "horribly dysfunctional" -- and comes with consequences for the entire country. "The worst possible outcome for all of us is if the long-term unemployed become unemployable," he writes. "That would permanently reduce our productive capacity."
      In fact, given our lack of recovery so many years after the start of the recession, that permanent reduction might already be happening. In the last quarter of last year, our actual GDP was around $975 billion less than the potential GDP our economy has the capacity for. Nearly a trillion dollar gap.
      In that context it's not that surprising that there are currently 46 million Americans living in poverty, over 16 million of them children. "Yet," as HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery writes, "the issue has all but disappeared from the legislative agenda in Congress as lawmakers focus squarely on deficit reduction. Obama, too, has been largely silent on the issue, and has even proposed cutting Social Security -- a key tool for combating poverty." To Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat who is also chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, it's "unfathomable" that the issue isn't "at the top of everybody's priority list." Though it's a bit more fathomable when it's not at the top, or even the bottom, of any of our Sunday news shows.
      Of course we could make taking on poverty and the jobs crisis a national priority; but instead, the parameters of the ongoing economic debate -- which the media play an important role in setting -- are largely confined to how big of an austerity hit we're going to impose on ourselves. According to the CBO, the sequester and payroll tax hikes could cut growth by 1.5 percent over the course of this year. "Unless the government takes steps to boost growth, we will be seeing millions of people needlessly denied employment for over a decade," writes Dean Baker. "That should be the central focus of everyone in Washington."
      Including the media.
      But it's hard to imagine our jobs disaster will get the attention -- and the solutions -- it deserves if our media doesn't think it's a story worth telling. I know it's not "BREAKING NEWS!" but it's "BROKEN NEWS" to the tens of millions whose lives are still being turned upside down by it.


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