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Best content from the best source handpicked by Shyam. The source include The Harvard University, MIT, Mckinsey & Co, Wharton, Stanford,and other top educational institutions. domains include Cybersecurity, Machine learning, Deep Learning, Bigdata, Education, Information Technology, Management, others.

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    Lab mice fear men but not women, and that's a big problem for science

    The history of science is one chock-full of mice and men. Historically, biological and medical research has largely depended on rodents, which provide scientists with everything from cells and organs to behavioral data. That's why a new study in which researchers found that mice actually fear men, but not women, has the potential to be so disruptive. It might mean that a number of researchers have published mouse studies in which their results reflect this male-induced stress effect — and they know nothing about it.
    "People have not paid attention to this in the entire history of scientific research of animals," says Jeffrey Mogil, a pain researcher at McGill University and lead author of the study. "I think that it may have confounded, to whatever degree, some very large subset of existing research." Moreover, the effect probably isn't limited to behavioral studies, because the organs and cells that are used in medical research, such as in cancer studies, often originate in rodents. "If you're doing a liver cell study, the cells came from a rat that was sacrificed either by a man or a woman," Mogil says. As a result, "its stress levels would be in very different states." This, he says, could have an effect on the functioning of the liver cell in that later experiment.
    In the study, published today in Nature Methods, researchers used the "mouse grimace scale" to measure pain responses in rodents exposed to men, women, or their respective smells. Pain is a proxy for stress because stress can, to a large extent, numb pain. So when the mice were confronted with the smell of men, they experienced less pain, whereas the presence of women — or their smell, Mogil says — "did nothing at all."
    This might seem like a positive effect, but think of it this way: when athletes get hurt during a stressful game, they often don't feel the injury right away, and they keep pushing. From an evolutionary standpoint, this is supposed to keep them alive by helping them focus on something other than pain. Yet in reality, it mostly just ends up making the injury worse.
    But pain wasn't the only indicator of stress in this study. Further experiments showed that the rodents also had increased body temperatures and levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, in response to the smell of men. And the effect wasn't just prompted by human males, either. Rats and mice "are afraid of the smell of males of any species," Mogil says, because the mice in this study reacted to the smell of male dogs, guinea pigs, and cats as well.
    The researchers think that mice react this way because of competition, and not predation. Male mice are territorial, Mogil says, even when it comes to females entering their domain. They also compete with males for mating opportunities, "so it's probably a little bit evolutionarily adaptive to have this effect until you can determine that a male that's around doesn't actually mean you any harm," he says. In all likelihood, mice just haven't developed a way to discriminate between the smell of a male mouse and the smell of other male mammals, so men also elicit a fear response.
    Interestingly, the stress response isn't only dependent on the sex of an intruder, but also on the circumstances of his or her approach. "If you put a male-worn T-shirt and a female-worn T-shirt in the same room, the female T-shirt counteracts the effect of a male T-shirt." This, Mogil says, indicates that solitary males represent the real threat. "A lone male is up to no good — either hunting or defending his territory." Fortunately, the male-induced stress effect becomes less pronounced over time, eventually disappearing altogether. This, and the fact that women counteract the effect, means there are a number of ways that researchers could prevent it from showing up in data.
    One option, Mogil says jokingly, "is fire all the men — or have them chaperoned by a woman." A more realistic approach, however, would be to have male experimenter sit in a room for 45 minutes before collecting data. That makes the problem go away. But the Mogil doubts that anyone will want to do that because "it's just too boring."
    Instead, Mogil hopes that his research — and other studies like it — will prompt researchers to report the gender of the experimenter in their publications. "You don't have to go back very far to see studies where people didn't think the strain of mouse mattered or the sex of the mouse mattered," Mogil says. "But these things all matter," and could be addressed in statistical analyses.
    For now, Mogil is looking forward to hearing from fellow researchers who might now have an answer for unusual results. "I expect to hear stories, to hear people telling me that this sort of explains mysteries about experimenters not replicating each other, or having effects and then losing them," Mogil says. Because studies are so large these days, the graduate students who start them often don't see them through to completion, Mogil explains. So, women and men often end up taking on the same work in succession. Whether scientists will want to go back and check if their results were tainted by a male-induced stress response, however, is anybody's guess. As Mogil puts it, "we will have to see."

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    How Metamaterials Could Change the World

    The future of global security and long-range charging innovations may lay in something a million times smaller than your fingernail.
    These nanoparticles, synthetically generated in some of the world’s most prestigious laboratories, are bonded together by the billions in specialized configurations to create metamaterials: Cheap, durable, and unusually versatile substances that have potential to radically change the way we interact with the physical world.
    Natural materials tend to interact with electromagnetic waves in very predictable ways—metal reflects light, glass lets light shine through it— allowing us to see them in physical forms. But with synthetic metamaterials, scientists are able to manipulate electromagnetic waves in unusual ways to protect individuals and advance existing electronic technologies.
    "With the advent of nanotechnology, literally every week or every month, the capability of metamaterials becomes better and better,” Nader Engheta, a professor and metamaterials expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said.
    The tangible applications are proving to be exceptionally promising—even determining life or death situations.
    Scientists at Stanford University are using metamaterials to develop something of a real-life invisibility cloak, a contraption once relegated to the whimsical imagination of J.K. Rowling. Researchers are convinced that such a shield could help to protect soldiers fighting in combat zones.
    The shield made of carefully configured metamaterials is designed to allow soldiers to move discreetly in combat without being seen across enemy lines. While the technology does not yet ensure perfect invisibility, it steers light around the shield, as opposed to absorbing and reflecting the light. As such, the human eye is unable to see it.
    The implications for this optical phenomenon are much bigger than high-headed theoreticals. For example, researchers at Duke University are working on a metamaterial superlens to skirt the rules of physics and charge electric devices without a direct connection. Such an innovation would completely revolutionize the way that we approach mobility – imagine, say, if you never had to worry about charging your phone.
    In fact, the quest to create smaller, more far-reaching antennas may rely on our ability to develop metamaterials, Engheta said. “We are always sending and receiving electromagnetic waves. Look at your cell phone, your iPhone, your computer—you have antennae there, you have to connect them wirelessly. Antennae are everywhere.”
    Long-range wireless charging also could have a massive impact on the way that companies like Emerson find solutions to power issues for industrial operations.
    "Metamaterials will potentially allow us to do many new things with light, things we don’t even know about yet. I can’t even imagine what all the applications might be," Stanford postdoctoral fellow Aitzol Garcia said in an article. “This is a new tool kit to do things that have never been done before.”
    The trajectory of metamaterial innovation from laboratory to practical use will likely hinge on federal grants and private technology investment.
    The Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies remain increasingly interested in funding metamaterials, said Engheta. While he is confident that metamaterials, due to their wave-bending properties, will find industry success, Engheta remains unsure of when we will see their widespread adoption.
    “We are all hopeful, but the future will tell,” he said.

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    कोसनों के परोसे
    —चौं रे चम्पू! जे नेता लोग बोलिबे ते पहलै कछू सोचैं ऐं कै नायं?
    —चचा, मुझे लगता है कि गालियां बोलने और कोसनों के परोसने से पहले, उन्हें बनाने वाली कोई टीम ज़रूर काम करती होगी।
    —का काम कत्ती होयगी?
    —देखती होगी कानूनी दाव-पेच। कह भी दो, पर पकड़ में भी न आओ। एक ने नमूना कह दिया। अब देखा जाए तो नमूना मॉडल को कहते हैं। गुजरात मॉडल की जगह गुजरात-नमूना कह दो तो कठोर बोल बन सकता है, पर पकड़ में नहीं आएगा। चूहों की तरह दौड़ना कहने में भी कानून नहीं पकड़ सकता। सीधे चूहा कहा होता तो शायद चोट सीधी होती। सम्बोधनों का भी आनन्द पूरा लिया जा रहा है। पप्पू, फेंकू, नमो, रागा, शहजादा, दामादश्री ऐसे सम्बोधन हैं जिन पर कानून कुछ बोल नहीं सकता। डैमोक्रेसी में यही व्यंग्य का रंग है। बाबा की टीम बुद्धि नहीं लगाती या ये भी कह सकते हैं कि बाबा ने अपनी बुद्धि का ठेका किसी को नहीं दिया। किसी घर-गृहस्थ ने तो हनीमून का जिक्र नहीं किया। बाबा कर बैठा। वह भी दलितों के संदर्भ में। कस गया कानून का शिकंजा। फिलहाल कड़वे बोलों का बोलबाला जारी रहेगा चचा। एक-दूसरे को तिलमिलाने का ज़माना है। दिल-मिलाने का ज़माना आएगा सोलह तारीख के बाद। सब भूल जाएंगे किस ने किस को कितनी गालियां दीं। अभी तो वृषभ-युद्ध जारी है, दर्शक आनन्द ले रहे हैं। मोदी नाम की नई व्याख्या हुई है। मॉडल ऑफ डिवाइडिंग इंडिया। मोदी ने आरएसवीपी का कर दिया राहुल, सोनिया, वाड्रा, प्रियंका। व्यक्तिगत आरोपों की तोपों से बड़ी खोजपूर्ण उक्तियां निकल रही हैं। कितने दिमाग़ लगे होंगे इसके पीछे चचा, आप अन्दाज़ा नहीं लगा सकते। माहौल गंभीर रूप से अगंभीर है। मुद्दों के गुद्दे सूख कर ठूंठ हो चुके हैं, बेतुके बोलों की बेलों पर बहार आ रही है। मेरा एक मन है चचा।
    —बता का ऐ तेरौ मन?
    —मैं चाहता हूं कि इन राजनेताओं की सुविधा के लिए कोसनों का एक परोसा बनाऊं। जिसको जो पसन्द हो ले जाए और बगीची के दानकोष की रसीद कटवा ले। वैसे हमारे ब्रज में कोसनों की कमी नहीं है। उन्हीं को संशोधित किया जा सकता है। जैसे कलई खुल जाएगी अगर तेरे मुंह में कलई करा दी। हवा सीटी बजाएगी अगर ज़्यादा मुंह खोला। ख़ुदा करे जैसे अपनी बीवी को भूल गया, वैसे ही प्रेमिकाओं के नाम भी भूल जाए। ख़ुजाने के लिए ख़रैरा रख ले, बांह चढ़ाने से क्या होगा। जब तू लौटे तो अपनी भाषा ही भूल जाए। जब खाना खाए तो तेरी आंख तश्तरी में गिर जाए। जिस-जिस ने ज़मीन ख़रीदी, धरती दिवस पर उनकी धरती खिसक जाए।
    —इन कोसनन में कोई दम नायं। सीधी मारकाट चल रई ऐ। इत्तौ दिमाग कोई नायं लगायगौ!
    —चलो फिर मैं आपको सम्बोधन के रूप में कुछ शब्द और शब्दयुग्म देता हूं, इनका प्रयोग किया जा सकता है। जैसे छिनट्टे, गुल्लू के पट्ठे, भ्रष्ट भूसाचारी, पचरंगी अचारी, मोटी के मृदंग, नंगधड़ंग, कुर्सी के कुसंगी, तोता-तिरंगी, सड़े हुए सैम्पिल, स्टील की सैंडिल, मिस्टर उड़ंछू, बेतुके बिच्छू, कटी बांह के कुर्ते, बेगुन भुर्ते…
    —रहन्दै, रहन्दै! सम्बोधन सब्दन के बार-बार पलटिबे ते नायं आमैं, पलटबार ते आयौ करैं। तू तौ जे बता कै चुनाव की आचार संघिता का बोलै?
    —आचार संहिता का पालन कौन कर रहा है चचा! वहां तो सीधे कहा गया है कि कोई दल ऐसा काम न करे, जिससे जातियों और धार्मिक या भाषाई समुदायों के बीच मतभेद बढ़े या घृणा फैले। राजनीतिक दलों को आलोचना के समय कार्यक्रम व नीतियों तक सीमित रहना चाहिए न कि व्यक्तिगत आरोप लगाएं। मत पाने के लिए भ्रष्ट आचरण का उपयोग नहीं किया जाना चाहिए। जैसे-रिश्वत देना, मतदाताओं को परेशान करना आदि। किसी की अनुमति के बिना उसकी दीवार, अहाते या भूमि का उपयोग नहीं किया जाना चाहिए। किसी दल की सभा या जुलूस में बाधा नहीं डाली जानी चाहिए। लेकिन चचा, सब कुछ धड़ल्ले से हो रहा है। आचार संहिता के उल्लंघन को दिन-रात टी.वी. चैनलों पर दिखाना भी सरासर उल्लंघन है। आचार संहिता कहती है कि राजनीतिक दल ऐसी कोई भी अपील जारी नहीं कर सकते, जिससे किसी की धार्मिक या जातीय भावनाओं को चोट पहुंचती हो। पर हो क्या रहा है देख लो।
    —चोट की छोड़, बोट पड़नी चइऐ डंके की चोट।
    कोसनों के परोसे  —चौं रे चम्पू! जे नेता लोग बोलिबे ते पहलै कछू सोचैं ऐं कै नायं? —चचा, मुझे लगता है कि गालियां बोलने और कोसनों के परोसने से पहले, उन्हें बनाने वाली कोई टीम ज़रूर काम करती होगी। —का काम कत्ती होयगी? —देखती होगी कानूनी दाव-पेच। कह भी दो, पर पकड़ में भी न आओ। एक ने नमूना कह दिया। अब देखा जाए तो नमूना मॉडल को कहते हैं। गुजरात मॉडल की जगह गुजरात-नमूना कह दो तो कठोर बोल बन सकता है, पर पकड़ में नहीं आएगा। चूहों की तरह दौड़ना कहने में भी कानून नहीं पकड़ सकता। सीधे चूहा कहा होता तो शायद चोट सीधी होती। सम्बोधनों का भी आनन्द पूरा लिया जा रहा है। पप्पू, फेंकू, नमो, रागा, शहजादा, दामादश्री ऐसे सम्बोधन हैं जिन पर कानून कुछ बोल नहीं सकता। डैमोक्रेसी में यही व्यंग्य का रंग है। बाबा की टीम बुद्धि नहीं लगाती या ये भी कह सकते हैं कि बाबा ने अपनी बुद्धि का ठेका किसी को नहीं दिया। किसी घर-गृहस्थ ने तो हनीमून का जिक्र नहीं किया। बाबा कर बैठा। वह भी दलितों के संदर्भ में। कस गया कानून का शिकंजा। फिलहाल कड़वे बोलों का बोलबाला जारी रहेगा चचा। एक-दूसरे को तिलमिलाने का ज़माना है। दिल-मिलाने का ज़माना आएगा सोलह तारीख के बाद। सब भूल जाएंगे किस ने किस को कितनी गालियां दीं। अभी तो वृषभ-युद्ध जारी है, दर्शक आनन्द ले रहे हैं। मोदी नाम की नई व्याख्या हुई है। मॉडल ऑफ डिवाइडिंग इंडिया। मोदी ने आरएसवीपी का कर दिया राहुल, सोनिया, वाड्रा, प्रियंका। व्यक्तिगत आरोपों की तोपों से बड़ी खोजपूर्ण उक्तियां निकल रही हैं। कितने दिमाग़ लगे होंगे इसके पीछे चचा, आप अन्दाज़ा नहीं लगा सकते। माहौल गंभीर रूप से अगंभीर है। मुद्दों के गुद्दे सूख कर ठूंठ हो चुके हैं, बेतुके बोलों की बेलों पर बहार आ रही है। मेरा एक मन है चचा। —बता का ऐ तेरौ मन? —मैं चाहता हूं कि इन राजनेताओं की सुविधा के लिए कोसनों का एक परोसा बनाऊं। जिसको जो पसन्द हो ले जाए और बगीची के दानकोष की रसीद कटवा ले। वैसे हमारे ब्रज में कोसनों की कमी नहीं है। उन्हीं को संशोधित किया जा सकता है। जैसे कलई खुल जाएगी अगर तेरे मुंह में कलई करा दी। हवा सीटी बजाएगी अगर ज़्यादा मुंह खोला। ख़ुदा करे जैसे अपनी बीवी को भूल गया, वैसे ही प्रेमिकाओं के नाम भी भूल जाए। ख़ुजाने के लिए ख़रैरा रख ले, बांह चढ़ाने से क्या होगा। जब तू लौटे तो अपनी भाषा ही भूल जाए। जब खाना खाए तो तेरी आंख तश्तरी में गिर जाए। जिस-जिस ने ज़मीन ख़रीदी, धरती दिवस पर उनकी धरती खिसक जाए। —इन कोसनन में कोई दम नायं। सीधी मारकाट चल रई ऐ। इत्तौ दिमाग कोई नायं लगायगौ! —चलो फिर मैं आपको सम्बोधन के रूप में कुछ शब्द और शब्दयुग्म देता हूं, इनका प्रयोग किया जा सकता है। जैसे छिनट्टे, गुल्लू के पट्ठे, भ्रष्ट भूसाचारी, पचरंगी अचारी, मोटी के मृदंग, नंगधड़ंग, कुर्सी के कुसंगी, तोता-तिरंगी, सड़े हुए सैम्पिल, स्टील की सैंडिल, मिस्टर उड़ंछू, बेतुके बिच्छू, कटी बांह के कुर्ते, बेगुन भुर्ते… —रहन्दै, रहन्दै! सम्बोधन सब्दन के बार-बार पलटिबे ते नायं आमैं, पलटबार ते आयौ करैं। तू तौ जे बता कै चुनाव की आचार संघिता का बोलै? —आचार संहिता का पालन कौन कर रहा है चचा! वहां तो सीधे कहा गया है कि कोई दल ऐसा काम न करे, जिससे जातियों और धार्मिक या भाषाई समुदायों के बीच मतभेद बढ़े या घृणा फैले। राजनीतिक दलों को आलोचना के समय कार्यक्रम व नीतियों तक सीमित रहना चाहिए न कि व्यक्तिगत आरोप लगाएं। मत पाने के लिए भ्रष्ट आचरण का उपयोग नहीं किया जाना चाहिए। जैसे-रिश्वत देना, मतदाताओं को परेशान करना आदि। किसी की अनुमति के बिना उसकी दीवार, अहाते या भूमि का उपयोग नहीं किया जाना चाहिए। किसी दल की सभा या जुलूस में बाधा नहीं डाली जानी चाहिए। लेकिन चचा, सब कुछ धड़ल्ले से हो रहा है। आचार संहिता के उल्लंघन को दिन-रात टी.वी. चैनलों पर दिखाना भी सरासर उल्लंघन है। आचार संहिता कहती है कि राजनीतिक दल ऐसी कोई भी अपील जारी नहीं कर सकते, जिससे किसी की धार्मिक या जातीय भावनाओं को चोट पहुंचती हो। पर हो क्या रहा है देख लो। —चोट की छोड़, बोट पड़नी चइऐ डंके की चोट।
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    Don’t Let Your Career ‘Just Happen’: Plan For The Unexpected

    As I braved arctic temperatures on my way into work today, I was struck by the similarity between careers and the weather.

    In her capricious way, Mother Nature inflicted weather extremes on us this week. On Friday, my children were home enjoying a snow day, by Monday the snow was washed away by torrential rain and we were basking in a relative heat wave of almost 55 degrees Fahrenheit. And by Monday night, we were engulfed in a Polar Vortex with temperatures plummeting to -22 degrees Fahrenheit by morning.
    Similarly, I’ve watched people’s careers plunge from the executive suite to the street for reasons beyond their control. At one moment company leaders are basking in success, and at the next they’re scrambling to pull resumes together, leaving scorched earth behind and looking for different (and hopefully greener) pastures.
    Careers come and go, often through no fault of our own. They can be as uncontrollable and unpredictable as the weather. So how do you “insulate” your career so you can weather storms effectively – regardless if you are just beginning to scale the corporate ladder or you’ve been entrenched in a senior role for a while?
    • Work. Hard. Smart: Give whatever you do 110%+ effort. Don’t hold back. Don’t “coast.” Ever. Every day you are at work, bring your creativity, your enthusiasm, your knowledge, your skills, and a team mentality to the table for your peers, your management, and your company.
    • Be Mindful of Your Attitude: Be positive. Be humble. Be confident (aka, believe in yourself). Attitudes can derail a career as surely as major missteps will.
    • Embrace Change: Don’t be afraid to take risks – however you define them. Don’t be frozen in place and fearful of giving up the ‘same old-same old’ approach in favor of the ‘promising yet untested and untried’.
    • Be Curious: It doesn’t matter if you’re CEO running a Fortune 500 company or an analyst crunching numbers into the wee hours. Always ask questions and learn as much as you can. Learn from every person you meet, every meeting you attend, and every piece of news that catches your eye.
    • Plan For Contingencies (anticipate the rainy day just in case): Your network of contacts requires continuous care and feeding. Remember the rule of karma and build up those ‘karma points’ in the good times – just in case you need them at some point in the future.

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    Researchers Have Actually Figured Out Dollar Values Of Social Media Recommendations

    In the online world of sharing and "likes," the recommendations of friends, family and even strangers turn out to have real, measurable value.
    Positive online recommendations can boost the price consumers are willing to pay by an average 9.5 percent, found a study released Tuesday claiming to be the first of its kind.
    Negative recommendations meanwhile can reduce the likelihood of purchasing a product or service by up to 11 percent, said the study commissioned by the social data company ShareThis and The Paley Center for Media.
    The study highlights the theoretical value of sharing on social media instead of the actual impact on prices.
    Kurt Abrahamson, chief executive of ShareThis, said the findings are nonetheless significant in measuring the value of online sharing -- such as clicking the "like" button on Facebook, sharing a link to a product or posting a review on rating websites.
    "This is the first time someone has tried to quantify the value of recommendations and sharing," Abrahamson told AFP.
    "If you are able to generate positive buzz, it does have a significant value."
    The study, to be released at a conference in New York on Wednesday, indicates that online recommendations influence consumer purchases more than price and brand, and carry nearly as much weight as face-to-face recommendations.
    "There's no question consumers are actively looking online for recommendations and content to help them decide what to buy," said Abrahamson.
    "We’ve all known that social sharing is important, but it's been difficult to measure its impact on consumer spending -- until now."
    A key finding is that positive online recommendations enable manufacturers and retailers to charge more.
    The impact can range from less than a dollar for grocery items to around $30 for technology produces and upwards of $9,000 for an automobile.
    The report examined several types of online sharing, including personal recommendations via email or social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn; recommendations of websites like Yelp; in-person or face-to-face recommendations; and professional reviews.
    Abrahamson said the message from the study is that brands and marketers should make it easy to share online, and draw from the social world to help promote their products.
    But he added that companies should be cautious about trying to manipulate reviews and shared content.
    "The voice still needs to be authentic," he said.
    "You need to provide the channels for consumers to share, but if you try to manipulate it too much, it runs the risk of creating a backlash."

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    Innovation or adaption?

    I attended a corporate function recently uEntrender the theme of 'Innovation'. It was attended by innovation professionals, corporate execs and a range of participants from other innovation-related sectors.
    The discussions were very interesting but I was struck by one single fact: the ambiguous and generic use of the term 'innovation' - and the ramifications of this ambiguity on the corporation.
    I am troubled by this for a range of reasons.
    Ever since Hamel and Prahalad made 'innovation' the catch-cry of the times for corporations a few decades ago, corporations have interpreted 'innovation' to mean 'reinventing themselves'. That's OK when it's relevant but it doesn't apply to everyone.
    The concept of innovation generally refers to the 'creation of something that didn't exist previously'. This is most evident, for example in the sciences and in some technological sectors. The bionic eye and ear initiatives, wireless technologies, solar power, and so on are excellent examples of creating something new.
    In the corporate context this is rare however. Corporate interpretation of 'innovation' generally means 'improvement' or 'differentiation'. Both are legitimate but neither necessarily (and rarely) mean 'creating something new.'
    Of course some companies need to innovate in their products and services area, but often it's a matter of incorporating features that competitors already offer, rather than of 'creation'.
    Nearly everything in the corporate space already exists somewhere. Therefore for a corporation to improve or differentiate, it is often a matter of knowing what exists and being able to apply it efficiently and effectively for its own purposes. It does not therefore mean that the corporation must create something new.
    This is particularly relevant because:
    1. Creation is different to applying an existing technology.
    2. Creation implies cost, time and effort.
    3. Creation carries financial, time, effort and reputational and corporate risk.
    4. Many managers and directors don't know the difference between the two concepts.
    Many of the speakers at the recent session implied that the difficulties with adopting innovation is of embedding innovation as a cultural attribute. Some of corporate speakers therefore appeared to be trying to make everyone in their organisation 'innovative'. Firstly, not everyoneneeds to be innovative. Secondly, not everyone can be innovative (even if you adopt the principles of Kaizan). Thirdly, this is all about effective change and culture management.
    Ultimately innovation, regardless of one's interpretation, should never be conducted without a robust and defensible business case that demonstrates the value such innovation would deliver toward the enhancement of the host's organisational objectives.

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    How Do We Keep Students Engaged in Learning Science?STEM

    two female students working on a science lab experiment togetherChildren come to school with curiosity and questions about their world. As educators, we need to keep children curious and excited throughout their schooling—encouraging them to explore their environment, ask questions, make predictions about what they think will happen and why, and test those predictions. Toward this end, states have collaborated to develop a completely new set of K-12 science education standards, called the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
    While the NGSS expressly do not dictate to teachers exactly what or how they have to teach or how to assess students’ progress, they provide an opportunity for us to revamp learning and assessment to foster students’ natural curiosity. Prior generations of standards separated what specific content students should know from skills they should be able to perform, leaving the integration of these implicit. In contrast, the NGSS emphasize using scientific practices to develop and apply scientific ideas and paying closer attention to how we build understanding within and across the disciplines of science over time. Only by involving learners in doing science can we connect to their intrinsic interests in how the world works.
    With respect to assessment, perfect examples of how to measure this kind of highly contextualized, knowledge-in-use learning don’t exist yet. Most current tests emphasize factual knowledge or require that students participate in “inquiry” without deeply incorporating disciplinary core ideas or requiring students to connect relevant ideas across the science disciplines. We need new models for science assessment that promote engagement in the disciplinary practices of science, and this is what my team at SRI Education is aiming to do.
    We are excited to participate in one of the first projects to take on developing the assessments that measure three-dimensional learning. SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning, together with the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University, and the Concord Consortium, were recently awarded a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new system of classroom assessments that teachers can use formatively to make instructional decisions.
    We are focusing on middle school physical science as a starting point and as a proof of concept to design an approach and a model of what three-dimensional assessments can look like for the NGSS. Our work is a co-design effort: we have included experts in assessment design, science, science education and statistics (to see that we have valid and reliable information about students). We have also notably included teachers as co-designers to help ground what we do and make sure it will work for their students.
    In contrast to benchmark tests given maybe quarterly, we are talking about developing assessments and practices that are more an ongoing part of the learning process. We hope our assessments give teachers the tools and resources they need to adapt and adjust their instruction. Thus, tasks will be technology-based to provide teachers more rapid feedback about their students’ thinking. 
    We are aiming to include visualizations that, for example, allow students to construct models of interactions among atoms to explain how mass is conserved in a chemical reaction. We also will be thinking about how we can create tasks that connect to and build from students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In doing so, our aim is that these assessments will provide the context for rich dialogue and conversation among teachers and students and that makes science relevant for students.
    More soon as we continue on our venture in assessment design!

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    The Best Way To Remember Something? Take Notes By  hand. 


    Headed into an important meeting? Grab a pen. Taking notes longhand will help you remember information better than typing them out, according to new research from a pair of psychologists from Princeton University and UCLA. 
    The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, compared how well more than 300 students retained information after taking notes on 15-minute TED Talks either by hand or with a laptop. Across three different experiments, the researchers found that taking notes with a laptop can be detrimental to learning. Both groups performed about the same when recalling facts from the lectures half an hour later, but longhand note-takers were much better at recalling concepts.
    Handwritten note via Shutterstock
    These results of only a few hundred students paid to watch lectures in the lab might not exactly translate in the real world, but they do suggest laptops might not be great for retaining information. The researchers postulate that the effect might stem from the fact that while typing, it's easy to write down verbatim what the speaker is saying, without really thinking about it. Taking notes by hand requires listening to the information being said, processing it and then summarizing it in your own words. 
    The students who took notes on laptops tended to write more words than those who wrote by hand, but when given the chance to study their notes afterward, all that extra content didn't help much--students who wrote their notes longhand performed better on a test a week later, both on questions of conceptual understanding and the factual content.
    "It may be that longhand note takers engage in more processing than laptop note takers, thus selecting more important information to include in their notes, which enables them to study this content more efficiently," the researchers write.

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    Is Blended Learning the Magic Bullet for Struggling Students?

    The title is facetious, but I'm afraid the sentiment can be found throughout the US now. Blended learning refers to using a mix of face-to-face instructional methods with computer-mediated learning, such as a mix of teacher instruction and computer learning programs, or the "flipped" classroom. The primacy of technology in our everyday lives, combined with the rise of charter schools that use "individual learning modules" (i.e. children sitting at computers working on reading or math skills at different rates) has created a sentiment in some circles that if we just had KhanAcademy/Gigi math/RAZ-Kids etc in our classrooms (programs that target reading or math instruction to a student's particular area of need and let him or her practice independently) we would see a meteoric rise in skills.
    The problem is that this sentiment just isn't true. The New York Times published a review of a NAEP study that shows that not only is the case for blended learning questionable, but we see the same gap in instructional methods for low-income students vs. other students that we do in other areas of schooling. Low-income students were more likely to use computers for basic drill activities, vs. more cognitively rich activities that other students engaged in. Is blended learning just a new way to reinforce an old status quo?
    Don't get me wrong--I love computers, I love technology, and I love using both in the classroom. In my school we use animoto to create slideshows, ALEKS to help remediate/reinforce/extend math skills for students at my school, and tried out Tynker to help students learn basic coding skills, and Google Docs to collaborate around writing and data collection.
    My beef with blended learning is the idea that it's an easy, people-proof (teacher-proof really) way to improve student learning. I don't know who actually works with students who thinks we can plunk them in front of computers and have them magically overcome all obstacles. We still need collaboration and instruction, especially to help students with something they are struggling with. And we need to rethink how technology can help engage and illuminate, as opposed to just provide practice. 
    Dan Meyer, a doctoral student at Stanford University, shares his frustration with the low-level tasks often presented on computer learning programs inWhat Silicon Valley Gets Wrong About Math Education Again and Again. Contrast that with the way technology can engage and provide deeper levels of thinking, such these 3-act problems (also by Meyers).
    I hope we use technology more and more in the future. Education could be enhanced by a real change-up in the way we deliver instruction and experience learning, and technology can be part of that. But I'm skeptical that individualized cubicles with students clicking answers to questions on their own is really the way we're going to revolutionize the learning process. Those programs have their part to play (practice is important!) but they're far from the whole story.

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     How Do You Scale Excellence?

    Two Stanford professors discuss their new book, Scaling Up Excellence, which reveals how the best leaders and teams develop, spread, and instill the right growth mindset in their organization.
    Eight years ago, over dinner and a bottle of wine,Hayagreeva (Huggy) Rao and Robert Sutton realized they needed better answers for the students of a Stanford management education program, Customer-Focused Innovation, they were running. The business executives appreciated what the pair had to say about reducing bureaucracy in an organization and enabling creativity, but invariably asked, “How do we scale this?”
    So, the longtime collaborators set out to find the answer. For more than seven years, they interviewed business leaders, reviewed research, and studied and conducted case studies about the mindset and strategies companies can use to spread excellence within an organization. The result is their book, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less, which will be published in February.
    We recently sat down with the pair to discuss key ideas from the book. Excerpts:

    You begin your book by saying that companies that want to spread excellence have the “problem of more.” What exactly do you mean by that?

    Rao: To put it simply, the problem of “more” is that organizations have pockets of goodness, and what you want is more of the goodness. At the same time that you’re adding good — by adding pockets or expanding them — you want to make sure you get rid of the bad. So, the problem of “more” is the problem — the challenge — of proliferating goodness.
    Sutton: And the word “problem” is important because when things get bigger or you spread them farther, not everything that happens is good. There's this notion of growth and progress in America, that everything gets better as it gets bigger. But it’s a messy process. There will be things that annoy you. And the more you want to scale, probably, the more you have to suffer personally, which is not something I think leaders want to hear.

    So how do leaders actually get through that?

    Rao: You can have the illusion of drawing up nice little organizational charts and figuring out what growth looks like, but they’re all things on paper. In reality you need both story and structure. What I mean by story is lofty, inspirational messaging about excellence. But you also need the structure — the plumbing, if you will — the unglamorous parts of scaling. If you don’t have both of those, you’re never going to get anywhere.
    Sutton: There’s always this challenge, as you get bigger, about structure. If people are telling the same story, you can have less bureaucracy, less micromanagement. But you do need some authority. And people like Twitter’s Chris Fry and Steve Greene, who grew Salesforce from 40 to 600 people, and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz — all of them make this argument that you should have a little less structure than you think you need. Then, wait for things to break a little bit as a sign that you should add just a little bit more. Greene called this light structure “running a little bit hot.” If you’re a little bit too heavy, it feels like you’re walking in muck. And, if you’re way too light, things fall apart. So, the ideal condition for scaling is that little things should be breaking all the time, but not the big things.

    You make the point that if you’re adding new processes or people, naturally you will need to find ways to subtract — or stop doing — other things. How do you do that?

    Rao: That’s what we refer to as “cognitive load.” If the load is too great, there’s a coordination circus. If I’ve got to run an idea by a bunch of people in order to do some single thing, I’m going to give up because it’s too much effort. When Bob and I teach executives, sometimes we say, “Hey, how about having a rule that says ‘If you want to have a meeting, kill an existing meeting.’” Now, that sounds quite obvious, but they say, “Really?” They haven’t even questioned the idea that meetings are to be added, that calendars are to be monopolized. It’s no wonder in a large company you feel like a victim.
    Sutton: Now, that’s not true of all companies. Take Apple and Wal-Mart — those are two companies where they have a culture of small teams, so they have fewer meetings and people actually are doing the work most of the time. A lot of this depends on leadership and focus. The question is: “Where is your focus?”

    Is there any common thread among organizations that are successful at spreading excellence?

    Rao: They tend to “connect and cascade,” as we call it. You connect people so that you cascade the right behaviors throughout the organization. The real problem of scaling excellence is ignorance. What is an excellent organization? One that doesn't repeat the same mistakes. And when do you repeat mistakes? When the connections inside organizations are weak or atrophied. If people aren't connecting, your ignorance multiplies.
    Sutton: And I think the important part for senior leaders is to find a way that people can share information in reasonably efficient ways. We talk about many ways in the book, but I really like the example of Salesforce under Steve Greene and Chris Fry — they had a policy where engineers were free to change jobs within the company. So, every four months they’d have an internal job fair, like a bazaar with booths, where people would walk around and learn about what other teams were working on. The policy had many advantages, but one was a higher collective understanding of how the piece of code they’re working on fit into the overall whole.

    What’s are the implications of the size of your organization on a scaling effort — going from, say, two to 20 people versus 2,000 to 10,000?

    Rao: Going from two to 20, you're probably all still sitting in the same room. It’s just a bigger room.
    Sutton: Then there’s a next level, 150 to 200, where you can no longer recognize all the names and faces, and up from there. The thing that companies that were successful at scaling all have in common — regardless of size — is that they were thinking of scaling as spreading a mindset, not a footprint. One person who demonstrates this well is John Lilly, the former CEO of Mozilla, who grew the company from 12 to about 500 people. John told us, “When we were 40 or 50 people, I was always changing my mind, but as the company got bigger I had to stifle myself.” He had to be sure he said the same thing over and over so that people wouldn’t get conflicting messages. This is true all the way up to truly huge companies. As Huggy says, if you've all got the same poetry in your head — these mantras like “The Customer is Boss” — they actually drive a bunch of decisions. It lets everybody be on the same page and know where they’re heading.
    Rao: The other thing I want to add is when you become larger, what’s unsaid also increases in an organization. The phrase we like to use is: “Smart people inside large organizations become dumb.” They become mute. And so the real problem for a large company is to figure out what’s not being said. Because if you only make decisions on the basis of what's being said, you can go off track pretty quickly.

    So how do you build the right mix of people for positive growth?

    Rao: This is a big, big thing. Scaling doesn’t just require stars. It requires Sherpas as well — the people who get you to the summit each day. Now, in order to make sure that the Sherpas are taken care of, you should hire managers who are prone to feeling guilty. This idea is based on actual research done by a PhD student and Frank Flynn, a colleague here at Stanford.
    I think about the U.S. army general in the Korean War that we talk about in the book, Matthew Ridgway. He says, “The hard decisions are not the ones you make in the heat of battle.” A lot of people can do that. The hard part is actually sitting in a meeting and speaking your mind about a bad idea that’s going to put thousands of lives in jeopardy — and convincing the decision makers that it’s a stupid idea. The kinds of people who are going to do that are people who put the interests of others above their own.
    Sutton: It’s interesting, the people who are really good at getting things done, they’re not just optimists. In fact, research shows they have high positive and high negative affect, which means they’re really optimistic and confident things will turn out in the end, but they’re really, really worried about every little detail and how it’s going to screw things up.
    The two things I would add are that you should make sure to have as many women as possible, because the more men you have in a group, the dumber it gets, controlling for their IQ. There’s actually very good evidence of that. And, that you want people with a sense of accountability, who feel like “I own the place, and the place owns me.” They will push themselves and each other, feel obligated to teach and to learn.

    You mention that some mistakes are part of any scaling effort. But what are the kinds of mistakes that can cause failure?

    Sutton: When we looked at cases where scaling failed, they seemed to have the trifecta of illusion, incompetence, and impatience; this idea of “We’re going to do it all at once, we don’t have time to slow down and do it right. But we’re so great, we can do it.” You can see it, for example, in what the Obama administration did with their healthcare rollout. Apparently, the guy in charge was some career bureaucrat who didn’t really understand how to do it but was a good politician, so he was competent at the wrong thing. But that creates a scenario where you’re turning other people incompetent.

    So, how do you start a successful scaling effort?

    Rao: One thing to keep in mind is that scaling doesn't mean “Waiting for Godot” — you know, wait for the new boss, wait for a new opportunity, wait for new technology. In reality, you better do something. One good way to develop a plan is to do a pre-mortem: Take a team of people, and get half of them to imagine the plan has been put in motion and failed terribly. Then write a story of why that happened. And get the other half to imagine that it succeeded, and write a story of how that happened. The advantage of this is you get more of the unsaid said. You can actually make sure those small details that bite you don’t get in the way. Often, scaling doesn't work because the mistakes you make early on aren’t caught until it's too late.
    Sutton: We talked to a top executive who turned around the largest company in Australia, who had the top 100 or so folks write him a 2-page memo about what they should do to turn around the organization. And he said, “I just talked to each person for an hour, and took the best ideas.” That said, we also found a single person who wanted to spread an idea, and so began by redecorating her cubicle and starting small, informal training sessions for colleagues. The bottom line is: In every case of successful scaling, you start where you are with what you have.

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    Marketing Can No Longer Rely on the Funnel

    One of the central concepts of marketing and sales is the funnel — through which companies are supposed to systematically move prospects from awareness through consideration to purchase.
    But consumers are now more informed, connected, and empowered than ever. Does the funnel still work in a digital, social, mobile age?
    We asked some of the leading marketers in the world — from companies like Google, Intuit, Sephora, SAP, Twitter, and Visa — to assess the relevance of the marketing funnel.  What we found says as much about the future of business as it does about the future of marketing.
    According to these marketers, the primary problem with the funnel is that the buying process is no longer linear. Prospects don’t just enter at the top of the funnel; instead, they come in at any stage. Furthermore, they often jump stages, stay in a stage indefinitely, or move back and forth between them.
    For example, consider items that come recommended on an e-commerce site. With a click you can add them to your cart, moving straight from awareness through consideration to purchase in only a few seconds. The same holds true on items discovered in a Tweet, Facebook post, or Pinterest board.
    In both B2B and B2C businesses, customers are doing their own research both online and with their colleagues and friends. Prospects are walking themselves through the funnel, then walking in the door ready to buy.
    As an example, Julie Bornstein, CMO at Sephora, has seen social media change how people buy beauty products. Recommendations from friends have always been important, but now these recommendations spread “quicker, faster, and further” at every stage in the funnel.
     The decision on what to buy increasingly comes from advocates who share their experience in a way that pulls in new customers and informs their purchase decision. Sephora’s response has been to bring all the stages of the funnel together into a single place, creating its own online community where people can ask questions of experts and each other about brands, products, and techniques.
    One popular alternative to the funnel is the Customer Decision Journey popularized by McKinsey. 
    A key advantage of this model is that it’s circular, rather than linear. Prospects don’t come in the top and out the bottom, but move through an ongoing set of touchpoints before, during, and after a purchase.
    The Customer Decision Journey is an improvement over the traditional funnel, but some marketers see it as incomplete. The problem is in the name itself. Brands may put the decision at the center of the journey, but customers don’t. Jonathan Becher, CMO at SAP, believes that for customers, “the pivot is the experience, not the purchase.” The Customer Decision Journey might be circular, but if the focus is still on the transaction, it is just a funnel eating its own tail.
    One of the most critical weaknesses of the Customer Decision Journey is the connection between purchase and advocacy. 
    Almost every marketer we spoke to described how social media has disconnected advocacy from purchase. “You no longer have to be a customer to be an advocate. The new social currency is sharing what’s cool in the moment,” says Joel Lunenfeld, VP of Global Brand Marketing at Twitter.
    In today’s marketing landscape, people can experience a brand in many ways other than purchase and usage of a product. These include live events, content marketing, social media, and word-of-mouth. Consider all the members of the Nike+ running community who don’t own Nike products or the half million fans of Tesla’s Facebook page who don’t own a Tesla. Or consider companies where employees use their own devices or download their own software until IT purchases the enterprise version for the entire company. In today’s digital age, advocates aren’t necessarily customers. Marketers who think that advocacy comes after purchase are missing the new world of social influence.
    Antonio Lucio, Chief Brand Officer at Visa, believes the solution is to shift the focus from the transaction to the relationship.  After exploring the Customer Decision Journey, his team developed what they call a Customer Engagement Journey.  In this model, transactions occur in the context of the relationship rather relationships in the context of the transaction.
    As an example, consider a real world journey of a family’s trip from the U.S. to Mexico. Visa has mapped out the entire experience, from where the family gets ideas on where to go (TripAdvisor), to how they gather input from friends (Facebook), to how they pay for their cab (cash from an ATM) or hotel (credit card), to how they share photos of their trip with friends back home (Instagram). Only a few of these situations are opportunities for transactions, but they are all opportunities for relationship. “When you change from decision to engagement,” Antonio says, “you change the entire model.”
    Market trends suggest the mismatch will only widen between customers’ actual experiences and the models of the funnel or Customer Decision Journey.  One key trend is the integration of marketing into the product itself.  The funnel presumes that marketing is separate from the product.  But for digital products like games, entertainment, and software-as-a-service, the marketing is built right into the product.  Examples include the iTunes store and Sales force’s App Exchange.
    Caroline Donahue, CMO at Intuit, oversees numerous web-based products for which “the product and the marketing become one thing.”  The funnel changes because “with cross-sell and up-sell, you move from awareness to action instantaneously.” Instead of a Customer Decision Journey, her approach might best be described as a User Experience Journey into which opportunities for transactions are thoughtfully embedded.
    Google shares a similar view, taking the fusion of product and marketing one step further. Arjan Dijk, the company’s Vice President for Global Small Business Marketing, believes products should be designed to market themselves. For Google, the question is not “how can we market this product?” but “which products deserve marketing?” Marketing isn’t about “pushing people’s thoughts and actions. It’s about amplification, helping what’s already happening grow faster.”
    So where do we go from here?  The funnel and Customer Decision Journey aren’t going away. 
     They are useful models, and will continue to be helpful in certain contexts.  But marketing today requires a new mental map to navigate a changing landscape. We need a model that informs marketers how to enable and empower, not just persuade and promote.  There are a variety of alternatives including journey, orbit, relationship, and experience.
    Whatever model you choose, what’s most important is that it addresses: first, the multi-dimensional nature of social influence; second, non-linear paths to purchase; third, the role of advocates who aren’t customers; and fourth, the shift to ongoing relationships beyond individual transactions.

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    Generating Data on What Customers Really Want

    At a fundamental level, the decisions managers make about revenue and profits fall into two categories—those related to growth and those related to cost reduction. Both types are meant to increase margins. But how data are used in each decision-making process is completely different.

    Cost reduction data are precise. Firms know their cost structure very well and can compute with a reasonable level of certainty the savings each alternative being considered will generate. Managers use cost-related data as an objective input for decision making, since they consider it both reliable and reasonably predictable.
    Managers do not treat growth-related data in the same way, and for good reason. Growth alternatives usually involve either launching new products or entering new markets, and these are activities where uncertainty is high. 
    Here data are used mainly as a tool for persuasion among managers. A stereotypical example would go more or less like this: Managers gather the data that reinforce their own point view on what they believe is the right business decision. During a meeting they all explain their various rationales and present their various data points. Usually, they end up reaching a consensus that they all consider makes sense. Then they leave the room still thinking that their own alternative was best but that in life you have to make tradeoffs.
    Most growth-related decisions in management are made this way because managers do not have data that reliably predicts how new customers will react to their offerings or how any customer new or old will react to innovative offerings. If only Coca Cola would have predictably known that its customers would not embrace New Coke! But its executives lacked a way to generate predictable information on that score or tell them that the data they’d generated from their taste tests would ultimately not be relevant.
    Disruptive innovation practitioners have just such a tool for reliably predicting customers’ behavior. It’s a methodology that uncovers what in disruptive innovation parlance is called a person’s “job to be done.” Briefly, the idea is this: Consumers don’t go to the store to buy products. They go to the store to buy something that will enable them to get some important job done in their lives. 
    The classic example, attributed to HBS professor Ted Levitt, is that people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want something that will make a quarter-inch hole. Making a quarter-inch hole is the job to be done. The product that does that job most reliably, easily, conveniently, and less expensively is the tool they will be most likely to purchase for that job.
    Work out your customer’s jobs-to-be-done, disruptive innovation practitioners have found, and you will generate data that more reliably predicts what a customer will buy and why. How do you do that? Traditionally, corporate innovators are told to conduct ethnographic studies, starting with no preconceptions, and to observe customers’ behavior and frustrations with the same open mind that start-ups employ. Human nature being what it is, that’s a hard thing to do.
    Here, instead, is a simplified version of a methodology for identifying a customers’ job-to-be-done that starts with information about your own product. Since product information is not part of a job-to-be-done, the information about your product will drop out of the process in step 6, so that it doesn’t distort your results. But in this way, you can make your way to a new insight by starting in familiar territory. (And you’ll not keep the people you’re interviewing wondering what all your questions are about during the entire interview process.)
    Step 1. Prepare a list of the key characteristics of your offering. 
    List at least 10 of them. Your product or service may be faster than your competitor’s. Or cheaper. Or have a better screen resolution. Or have leather seats. Or a battery that lasts for many days. Or connect to the internet and let you play with other people online. Let’s say you sell cars. Your list might include characteristics such as speed, gas consumption, how little it pollutes the environment, number of doors, colors, type of seats, cup holders and amenities inside the car for the driver and the passengers.
    Step 2. Interview at least 10 consumers and 10 nonconsumers about the various features connected to your offering. 
    Nonconsumers are people who are not buying either your offering or your competitors’. So in this case you would be interviewing both people who drive cars and people who could drive cars but chose not to. The interviews can be anonymous, but you need to record the entire conversation. For each of the characteristics listed above ask three questions.
     First, “Where are you when you are using this feature?”
     Second, “When you use this feature, what are you really trying to do?” 
    And third, “If this feature were not available, what would you be using instead?”
     Now, here’s an important part: for consumers, you need to ask the second two questions without reference to your product. So, to return to the car, let’s say you asked: 
    “Why do you sit in the passenger’s seat of your own car?” and the answer was: “I am a salesman, and in between meetings I work in the car.” 
    Then you ask: “When you do that what are you trying to accomplish?” He answers: “I try to have an environment that mimics my office space so I can concentrate and work comfortably for a while.” 
    Then the third question: “If you could not do that what would you do instead?” He replies: “In the car I use the cup holder for my coffee, and in the passenger’s seat I can work with my laptop and recharge my phone. If I could not do that I would go to a cafeteria, but it is difficult to concentrate there. It’s noisy and I waste time locating one.”
    Step 3. Transcribe the recordings.
     It is important that you do not miss anything. The transcript must end up looking like an interview, faithfully recording exactly what was said, complete with pauses. Being systematic about when the data stop is important for the statistical analysis used in step 5.
    Step 4. Codify the transcripts by tracking all the meaningful nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. 
    To continue our example we would extract from the sentence: “I try to have an environment that mimics my office space” will result in the following codes: “try,” “environment,” “mimics,” “office,” and “space.” 
    With this you create a table in which you count the number of instances of each word (so if in the entire first transcript the word office is only repeated once you would have a 1 in the first row). Complete the table until all the sentences from all the transcripts have been codified. There are software tools available to do that more easily.
    Step 5. Group the codes. Using the statistical technique of cluster analysis, group the codes based on their proximity. 
    That is, it measures how many times each word appears close to one another (that’s why the pauses matter). Let the software that you choose determine the optimal number of clusters. The end result is that all your codes will now appear in groups.
    Step 6. Remove descriptive data so you have only prescriptive data left. 
    To do this, you remove all the groups that contain information about your product, in this case, all the groups that contain the word “car.” The end result is a series of groups that each contains a number of different code words. Within each group, these codes refer to the customer’s way of thinking and the portions of the context that the customer considers relevant to deciding on which product alternative to buy.
     If you compare how product performs in relation to the concerns expressed in each group, your next product improvement will become compellingly clear, not only to you, but also to your colleagues. In this example, it would become easy to make the case for focusing an innovation effort on helping salespeople become more productive and work more comfortably in their cars. 
    Better electrical outlets, perhaps, so people can charge more than one item at a time? Storage for computers or samples? Something that mimics a desk more effectively? 
    The point here is this is a fruitful avenue for further attention since most car models sell fewer than 100,000 units per year, but millions of people work in their automobiles.
    During the 1950s Edward Deming and others developed such tools as statistical process control charts and total quality management techniques that have made the cost-reduction data we use today predictable and reliable. Before that, though, data about cost reduction was as unreliable as growth related data are today. 
    Now the first tools are starting to emerge that add predictability and reliability to growth related decisions. Jobs-to-be-done is one such tool. Once managers learn how to compute a job-to-be-done by themselves, their growth related decisions will become much more objective and less opinion based.

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    Data Alone Won’t Get You a Standing Ovation

    A few years ago, Dr. Brené Brown delivered a presentation on “The power of vulnerability” at TEDx Houston. As a professor at the University of Houston, Brown studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. 

    It’s a pretty big subject area to squeeze into 18 minutes, yet Brown did it so well that her presentation has been viewed 15 million times and has turned Brown into a New York Times bestselling author.

    She began her presentation with a short anecdote:  A couple of years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. She said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flier.” And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?” And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher, no one will come because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.” And I was like, “Okay.” And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.”
    Brown said the “insecure” part of her was hesitant to adopt the title because she was a serious academic researcher. However, she eventually warmed to the idea. “I thought, you know, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher. I collect stories; that’s what I do. Maybe stories are just data with a soul. And maybe I’m just a storyteller.”
    As Brown suggests, we’re all storytellers. In a business presentation, you’re telling the story behind your campaign, company, or product. In a job interview, you’re telling the story behind your personal brand. In a marketing pitch, you’re telling the story about your idea.
    In my work as a communication coach for executives at the world’s leading brands I’m often faced with a mountain of data that the speaker wants to get across. My job is to help the person tell the story behind the data—to reveal the soul behind the numbers. Drawing on this experience, as well as my recent research into the most succcessful TED talks and the neuroscience behind audience response, I’ve concluded that that data has the most impact when it’s wrapped in a story.
    Consider the following examples:
    In December 2010, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg took to the TED stage to talk about “Why we have too few women leaders.” Just before the presentation, she told a friend about an incident she’d had with her daughter as she was leaving for the conference. The little girl was pulling at her leg and crying, “Mommy don’t go!” The friend suggested she share that story with her audience too. 
    Sandberg’s plan had been to give a talk “chock full of data and no personal stories” but she agreed to change course. She described the encounter with her daughter, and told other personal stories about how difficult it was for her to raise a family and have a career, as well as offering statistics. The data reinforced Sandberg’s theme, but it was her stories that launched the Lean In movement.
    At TED 2013, U2 front man Bono delivered a presentation on global efforts to reduce childhood mortality. “For kids under five, child mortality is down by 2.85 million deaths a year. That’s a rate of 7,256 children’s lives saved each day,” Bono said. Most presenters would have stopped there. But the rock star went one step further, adding soul to the data by putting a face to the numbers. He told the story of Michael and Benedicta, who “are alive today, thanks in large part to their nurse, Dr. Patricia Asamoah, and the Global Fund”, and showed two slides: the first, a close-up picture of the two smiling children; the second, a photo of Dr. Asamoah conducting her work in a small African village. Data proved Bono’s point; stories brought it home.
    Recently, I prepared the executives of a large flash memory company for their annual presentation to investors. Analysts are a tough audience. They want technical information and growth forecasts; few, if any, will tell you they want to hear stories. Yet that’s exactly resonates with them. One senior vice-president wanted to start his talk with some statistics that weren’t entirely new to the roomful of analysts:  high-capacity storage card sales growth. 
    We decided to instead kick off on a more emotional note:  He explained that he’s a digital photography enthusiast, with a collection of 80,000 digital photos; then he showed pictures of his high-school-age girls playing sports and said that he wouldn’t trust those memories to anything but the cards his company manufactures. By their very nature, financial presentations must include charts, graphs, and tables, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab your audience’s attention with a story before you present your data.
    Remember:  Data won’t get you standing ovation; stories will. Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire. Tell more of them.

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    Magnetic Map of Milky Way

    The magnetic field of our Milky Way galaxy as seen by the Planck satellite, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA contributions. This image was compiled from the first all-sky observations of polarized light emitted by interstellar dust in the Milky Way. Light can become polarized when it is emitted by or scatters off dust and other surfaces; in this state, the electric and magnetic fields of individual light waves are aligned parallel to each other.
    Darker regions correspond to stronger polarized emission, and the striations indicate the direction of the magnetic field projected on the plane of the sky. The dark band running horizontally across the center corresponds to the galactic plane. Here, the polarization reveals a regular pattern on large angular scales, which is due to the magnetic field lines being predominantly parallel to the plane of the Milky Way. 
    The data also reveal variations of the polarization direction within nearby clouds of gas and dust. This can be seen in the tangled features above and below the plane, where the local magnetic field is particularly disorganized.
    The magnetic field is displayed using a visualization technique called line integral convolution. The image is a Mollweide projection of the full celestial sphere, with the plane of the galaxy aligned with the horizontal axis of the oval. Certain areas in the image, mostly at high galactic latitude, have been masked out.
     The overall intensity in these regions is low, complicating the separation of foreground from cosmic microwave, and infrared, background components. Further data analysis will improve this by the time of the full data release in late 2014.
    Credits: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

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    Autism Science, Birth To Thirteen

    One of my sons is autistic. He was diagnosed about a decade ago at age 3 for the symptoms recognized at the time but likely would have been diagnosed earlier given what we know now. Like all autistic people … like most people … he has grown–taller than I, at this point–developed, matured, and changed. And along with him, the way people view and talk and think about autism has changed, as well. 
    In the 10 years since his diagnosis, we’ve gone from hearing “I’m sorry” when we mention having an autistic child to a much more mixed response, one that often is as weighted with curiosity and interest as with sympathy or pity, and that’s a good thing. But there is always room for improvement.
    Autism itself has been a fairly stable part of the national and international (although not enough in the latter case in many countries) conversation for his entire life. Before we had our son, I’d heard these hints about vaccines and read the literature, which I found less than compelling evidence against having him or our other children vaccinated.
     So from the beginning, vaccines didn’t seem like a relevant component of who our son is, except for being alive and healthy and protected against a host of diseases. He, at least, was born the way he is, and our family tree is full of branches of people whose traits overlap or brush up against his. But where some of us sprouted only a trait here or there, his branch is laden with the budding collection of behavioral and other signs known together as autism.
    The A-Z of Autism
    Having had genetic analysis done, we have some hints about how our various familial components came together to shape our autistic teen, this delight of our lives. The most high-profile and carefully done research suggests a weave of what could be countless permutations of genetic combinations to yield the broad spectrum of autistic behaviors and manifestations. A decade ago, the talk was about triggers and the national obsession was vaccines and autism. But the genetic work makes it more and more evident that a mixed grab-bag of possibly thousands of changes in DNA sequences can interact with one another in any number of ways to produce the unpredictable emergent property we label as autism.
    For years, I thought that an environmental component might emerge as a strong contender, and I would cast my mind back on exposures our son or I might have experienced that would extrapolate to a broader picture. I was biased in that direction, certainly. 
    My research focuses on developmental biology and the effects that disruptive agents can have during embryonic and fetal development in humans and non-human vertebrates, so my knowledge in this field guided me. But some chemical candidates that seemed viable didn’t pan out, and to date, nothing beyond some intrinsic parental factors has emerged as a reasonable causative environmental agent in autism.
    When our son was diagnosed, the search for autism causes was fevered. It remains so, sometimes with results bordering on the silly and sometimes with more useful information. But 10 years ago, that search was for a candidate agent, perhaps a handful of agents. Today, the picture much more clearly shows the genetic influences and the complexity that underlies those influences.
    These shifts in understanding matter to someone like my son. A decade ago, the talk about autism was all negative. News stories dripped with pity for parents, described their children in dehumanizing terms, referred to them as “suffering” autism as one would suffer from cancer or multiple sclerosis. But an evolution of understanding is under way–with a vocal, urgent, passionate group of autistic advocates taking the lead.
     Other journalists have taken the time to contact me to ask about language when writing about autism. Autistic people increasingly are central to their own stories. Journalists seem increasingly to recognize that autistic people can view their autism as who they intrinsically are and that writing about autism as a universal negative dehumanizes and depersonalizes autistic people.
    Researchers would do well to follow suit. We won’t find one single cause for autism, no matter how much money we throw at trying to do so. Map the last decade of autism research, and you’ll find cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac of dead-end ideas or streets lined with echo chambers reverberating with results from the same groups, saying the same things, tracing the Rube-Goldbergian contraptions built within the framework of their pet hypotheses.
    What you won’t find is sufficient mixed-use development of both research into cause and research into support. What you won’t find is enough research that involves asking autistic people themselves about themselves, about what they need, what would support and help them most, what would help them learn and thrive and manage the deficits that come with their condition. 
    For so many human conditions–and let’s face it, we all have our Something, our neuroses, our sensitivities, our obsessions, our poor coping, our struggles–resources abound in the form of evidence-based interventions backed by piles of research, support groups online and in the real world, personalization and educated understanding from people who share these Somethings.
    Autistic people need that, too. My son needs that. As we turn over the calendar to the teenage years, I can look back on the decade or so since his diagnosis and see how far he has come, how he flourishes, how he has always been loved and supported and understood so deeply within his family and the ways that this acceptance has opened the space he needed to reach his potential. Our efforts for his entire life have focused on attending to and learning from him what he needs to cope independently with his own unique set of Somethings.
    He is an n of one, an anecdote in the context of science, our beloved, happy, hilarious, precious anecdote. In science, he would be, at most, a case study. But case studies are hypotheses in the making, and I’d like to hypothesize here that a scientific framework that centers autistic people and focuses on their needs would be as efficiacious for the autistic population as a whole as it has been for our son. Let’s hope that’s that the next decade brings more of that.

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    When Your Boss Is Too Nice

    Yes, it can be pleasant to work for someone who is kind and thoughtful but there’s a difference between bosses who are pleasant to work for and those who avoid conflict at all costs. Managers in the latter category don’t give tough feedback, shy away from going to bat for their teams, and give in too easily to demands. If this sounds like your boss, your career may be at risk.
    What the Experts Say“I’m 100% in favor of kindness and compassion in leadership. What I don’t believe in is a boss who in the name of niceness, doesn’t do what he’s supposed to,” says Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Working for a manager who is conflict-averse can have deleterious effects on your performance and your career. Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, says that many of these bosses aren’t aware of the effect they’re having on their direct reports. “My experience with leaders like this is that they don’t know they’re behaving that way,” she says. Here’s how to mitigate the potential damage of a boss who is too nice.
    Be empatheticHaving a boss who doesn’t stand up for you is frustrating —  but don’t blame him. “New bosses are particularly prone to this. Have a little sympathy that he’s trying to gain credibility with his peers and boss,” says Hill. If you see the situation from his perspective (rather than painting him as the enemy), you’ll be better able to help him.
    Directly address the issueStart by talking to your boss. Make clear what you need — and be as concrete as possible. If you’re not getting the necessary resources for a project, you might say: “This is what we’re supposed to get done and unless we have more people dedicated to the project, we won’t be able to do it. Is there a way we can work on getting more resources?” Or if she’s being too hands off and not giving you enough input, you might say, “I need more insight from you along the way and I’m not sure how to get it.” You can also try to make it easier for her to give feedback. “You may want to describe actual events and how you handled them and then ask for advice on how you could’ve handled it differently,” says Hill.
    Make the costs clear“People change but not unless they’re dissatisfied with their own behavior,” says Hill. For this reason, it’s important that you help your boss understand the costs of his behavior. Step into his shoes and try to understand what he really cares about. “That way you can show that what he wants to accomplish is at risk,” says Hill. If you can make the downsides of his conflict-avoidant behavior evident, he may be incented to change. For example, you might explain that by not directly addressing underperformance on your team, he’s alienating the high performers. Point to direct evidence, such as a team member’s disengagement.
    Take matters into your own handsMcKeown suggests that instead of waiting for your boss to give you guidance and input, do it yourself. “Write a contract with your boss,” McKeown says. “Put down in writing what results you’re trying to achieve, the parameters you’re working within, and how you will be held accountable.” Then ask your boss to react to it and sign it. “At least you’ll have something concrete you can run towards,” he says. For some people, this seems pushy, but McKeown’s research shows it’s effective. “All the managers I’ve talked to say they’d welcome that level of initiative,” he says.
    Tap your networkIn some cases, you may need to go above your boss and use your network to get feedback or resources. But don’t sneak around your boss if possible. Try to include him in those discussions. For example, you might discover that there is some slack in another department and tell your boss about it so he can ask that team leader for additional resources.
    With a conflict-avoidant manager, it’s doubly important that you have strong relationships elsewhere in the organization, Hill says: “Build your network so it includes people a few levels up and so you have a legitimate reason to talk to them.” McKeown agrees on the importance of these connections: “Find someone who is not your boss’s boss but sits just outside your team who can be your spokesperson.”
    Consider leaving if you canIt’s easy to assume that having a conflict-averse manager isn’t really a problem. But there are serious long-term effects. These kinds of bosses may not help you advance your career because they’re afraid to ruffle feathers and get you promoted. Or they may damage your credibility if they are seen as ineffective and others assume those on their teams are too. “People let it go on for a long time,” McKeown says. He suggests that you transfer to another department or leave the company if your boss is unable to change. “I would always prefer to work with someone who has some edge and is willing to challenge me to be better,” he says. If that doesn’t describe your boss, it may be time to find a new one.
    Principles to Remember
    • Talk directly with your boss about what you need  —  and be as concrete as possible
    • Build your network so that you can rely on other people for help and resources
    • Make the costs of her behavior very clear — that’s the only way she’ll change
    • Hesitate to take matters into your own hands
    • Think of your boss as the enemy — he may not be aware of his behavior
    • Let it go on for too long — if possible consider transferring to another department or finding a new job
    Case study #1: Get what you needFor just under a year, Matthew Hart* worked for a boss who tried desperately to be nice (we’ll call him Bryan). Bryan managed a team of 52 people at the credit card processing company where they worked  —  and avoided conflict at all costs. “He couldn’t step up when it came to making hard decisions,” Matthew explains.  “He wouldn’t make resource requests he promised to and gave in to unreasonable complaints.”
    Matthew tried to talk with Bryan about the problem. “I was the voice for the team and explained how his behavior was affecting morale and causing turnover,” he says. He gave Bryan specific examples of the impact he was having on the team. “Everything that Bryan said in response was in line with what you’d read in a book — but that’s not how he acted,” Matthew says.
    After failing in his direct attempts, Matthew resorted to going around Bryan: “I ended up getting what I wanted from those above him.” After Matthew got a promotion, he asked Bryan for more resources. When those requests didn’t come through, he talked with Bryan’s boss, the company’s CIO. “I asked him about the status of my requests and realized that he didn’t know about them,” he says. While Matthew didn’t like the idea of going around Bryan, he felt it was necessary: “I had direct reports who were counting on me to get them what they needed.”
    It soon became obvious how damaging Bryan’s behavior was. “We lost four senior engineers and two managers in a three-month timeframe.” Eventually, Bryan was let go and Matthew and one of his colleagues were promoted to jointly fill Bryan’s role. “Most of the people that left have come back and our culture has dramatically changed for the better,” he says.
    Case study #2: Don’t stay too longFor close to a decade, Carlon Cayenne worked at a petrochemical facility in the Caribbean. During that time he had numerous bosses but his last, a manager named Fred*, was one of the toughest. “He had a ‘country club’ management style. He was very sociable, always courteous, and approachable,” he says. But Fred was also indecisive and often looked to the team to make key decisions by consensus. He gave in to almost all instructions from the level above him, and rarely, if ever, pushed back. Carlon sensed that he did this in order to maintain a friendly and conflict-free work environment.
    But if the team couldn’t agree on how to move forward on a particular project, they were stuck. And it wasn’t just their performance that was affected. Their relationships suffered, too. “The team lost credibility in the organization and some people struggled to move their careers forward,” Carlon says. Senior leaders scrutinized him and his peers because they worked for Fred and he felt his professional development opportunities were limited.
    Because Fred was very approachable, Carlon felt comfortable raising these issues with him directly. “I would present the potential consequences or outcomes of decisions or situations as they arose and try to influence his choices,” he says. And when that didn’t work, he stepped in. “In some cases, I took charge of the situation and reassured him by assuming responsibility for the outcomes,” Carlon says.
    He worked for Fred for three years until he decided to leave the company to take another job. Several of his colleagues have also since left — but Fred is still there.
    *not their real names

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    Resume Makeover: How to Sell Your Tech Sales Skills

    In this month's Resume Makeover, the devil's in the details as career and resume expert Ross Macpherson takes a technology sales professional's resume from confusing to concise.

    CIO — The most important element in a sales resume is metrics: sales figures, number of deals closed, revenue targets achieved and so on.

    Government CIOs
    Ankit Mathur's resume, however, included none of these details, and that was worrisome to Ross Macpherson, president of Career Quest and an expert in advanced career strategies.
    "What was needed was clarification on important details; metrics regarding his performance," says Macpherson. "Given he's in sales, and his performance measured on sales results, I needed to include some numbers, and his original resume didn't include any," he says.
    Besides the lack of metrics, Macpherson says, there wasn't anything on Mathur's resume to differentiate him from other candidates with similar background and experience. Even the formatting and presentation was sloppy and unfocused, he says.

    Poor Sales Presentation

    "His resume was filled with boxes, the fonts were inconsistent, and didn't have a specific focus," says Macpherson. "The format forced you to read the entire thing to hunt for the value Ankit could offer, and with an average of six to 10 seconds to grab the reader's attention, it wasn't doing the job," he says.
    Mathur's four-page resume was jumbled and confusing to first-time readers, Macpherson says, and included a lengthy summary paragraph that gave a poor first impression and didn't differentiate Mathur as a candidate, Macpherson says.
    The resume lacked focus and, despite the length and incredible amount of information, not enough attention to the relevant detail of Mathur's career and his successes, Macpherson says.
    "I wanted to make him stand out from his peers, but his current resume looked like so many others in similar roles," he says. "And the content he included under each poison was 99 percent his responsibilities, which tells me what he did but not any information about how well he did it," he says.
    In addition, Macpherson says, for many similar jobs, Mathur copied and pasted job responsibilities, which isn't recommended; it's important to use different language when describing different positions, even if the responsibilities are similar.

    Focus on Results

    However, once the formatting issues were addressed and the resume's focus tightened, a much clearer picture emerged of Mathur's roles, responsibilities and results took shape, Macpherson says.
    "I tidied up the formatting to make the resume more polished and professional," says Macpherson. "Changing the headline at the top of the Profile'section gives the resume focus in seconds, keywords and phrases are included in a table which makes it much more clear," he says.

    And be rebuilding the 'Profile' section, Macpherson was able to more clearly articulate the value that Mathur brings to an organization, and focus on what makes him unique and highly qualified, he says.
    "I pared down the job responsibilities, and included more results. I wanted the focus to remain on what he did and how well he did it. I still provided ample detail on his most recent roles, but as we go farther back in Mathur's career, the need for extreme detail diminishes, so I've provided less detail accordingly," he says.
    "The whole idea was to 'sell him' in fewer words, by formatting it more effectively, highlighting performance and keeping the language concise," says Macpherson.
    Mathur was impressed with how these simple changes and editing changed the focus and impact of his resume. By shifting the focus from what he'd done to the results of his efforts, Mathur says he's sure the new resume will have a much more powerful impact on potential employers.
    "It is very concise, and covers all professional aspects of the jobs I have done, while highlighting what I accomplished and achieved during my tenures with various organizations," Mathur says. "Before, it was only telling prospective employers about my responsibilities," he says.
    The new resume is crisp and concise, with an emphasis on results; while Mathur felt uneasy at first about curtailing some details about previous roles, he's certain the resume will have a powerful impact with recruiters and hiring managers as he searches for work.

    View at the original source

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    3 Myths That Kill Strategic Planning

    In its simplest form, strategic thinking is about deciding on which opportunities to focus your time, people, and money, and which opportunities to starve.  One of history’s greatest strategic thinkers, Napoleon Bonaparte summed it up this way: “In order to concentrate superior strength in one place, economy of force must be exercised in other places.” If dead, despotic French emperors are not really your style, Michael Porter said it like this: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
    At the highest level, this usually means deciding to sell off one company in order to buy another one. More often it simply means deciding to move some initiatives to the back burner in order to concentrate the bulk of your resources in a single key area.
    Sounds simple enough. Yet, three pervasive myths continue to make strategic thinking an elusive skill set in today’s organizations.
    Myth 1: Productivity is the goal.
    Productivity is about getting things done. Strategic thinking is about getting the right things done well. The corollary of that truth is that strategy requires leaving some things undone, which stirs up a potent cocktail of unpleasant emotions. When you leave projects undone or only half-completed, you must sacrifice that feeling of confidence and control that comes from pursuing a concrete goal (PDF). You will have to fight through the universal psychological phenomenon of loss aversion that results from saying goodbye to a cherished project in which you have already poured heaps of time and money. You will also have to deal with the social pain and feelings of rejection that come from telling some people on your team that their big idea or entire functional area has been demoted in favor of something else more valuable.
    In the face of all that unpleasantness, it is tempting to continue striving for productivity. After all, what’s wrong with being productive?
    The problem is that productivity is strategically agnostic. Producing volume is not the same as pursuing excellence. Without a strategy, productivity is meaningless. As Peter Drucker famously said: “There is nothing quite so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” So the next challenge is figuring out which things are the right things.
    Myth 2: The leader’s job is to identify what’s “important.”
    Here’s a quick exercise: Make a list of every project and initiative your team is working on right now. When you finish the list, draw a line through all of the things that are not important.
    If you’re like 99% of teams, not one project on your list will get crossed out. That’s because every project your team is working on is “important” to someone somewhere somehow. They all “add value” in some vague way. That’s why debating about what’s important is futile. Strategic thinkers must decide where to focus, not merely what’s “important.” Strategic leaders must consciously table some “important” projects or ignore some “important” opportunities.
    While productive teams log overtime hours in order to knock out one important project after another on a first come, first serve basis, strategic teams decide which projects will contribute most to the declared strategy of the organization, and put the rest of the “important” projects on hold.
    Myth 3: Strategic thinking is only about thinking.
    Strategic leadership is not a math problem or a thought experiment. Ultimately, strategic thoughts must yield strategic action. Thorough cost/benefit analyses replete with mesmerizing forecasts, tantalizing linear trends, and 63-tab spreadsheets beautiful enough to make a newly minted MBA weep with joy are utterly useless without an actionable decision. In spite of the uncertainty, complexity, and the ever-present possibility of failure, a strategic leader must eventually step up and make the call about what the team will and will NOT focus on.
    Tipping his bicorne cap to this truth, Napoleon once said, “Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” Perhaps that’s also why this precious ability to decide is the defining feature of those deemed worthy to hold the highest leadership positions.

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    The Difference Between Motivation & Inspiration

    When I was doing Life Coaching, every single client that I had, wanted one thing (in some form or another) – motivation! I believe that motivation is something that we all want. Yet, some people cannot seem to actually acquire it.

    Motivation can be a very commonly spoken about subject. And, some people do not understand how motivation actually works.
    The interesting thing is that some people seem to mistake motivation for inspiration. They think that both words have the same meaning, and they often use one word for the other.

    Let’s look at motivation and inspiration.
    One of my earliest mentors in personal development told me that motivation is a pulling force. For example, if you want to do exercise, and you feel that you don’t have the time, or that it is too cold outside, or that you will be in pain afterwards, you have to motivate yourself to go and do the exercise. That motivation will pull you towards doing exercise.
    In an article on motivation (that I wrote in February 2010), I mentioned that the key to being motivated is to have a “motive”. Think about it for a moment, the word “motivation” comes from the word “motive”.
    So, if you are to go and exercise, you have to motivate yourself by reminding yourself of the motive for doing exercise. It could be weight loss, fitness, getting fresh air etc. Whether you use the word “motive” or you use the word “reason”, motivation needs to come from that source. Without having a reason or a motive, motivation will be hard to come by.
    Inspiration on the other hand, is more of a process. You may hear a speaker who inspires you, you may read a book that inspires you, you may hear a song that inspires you, you may meet a person who inspires you, or you may see something that inspires you. Whatever it is that inspires you, it touches you on the inside and connects you to a state of being more excited, productive, purposeful or anything that comes as a result of being inspired.
    As a speaker, one of my goals is to give people insights into defining their life purpose. Once they realise their life purpose, something inside of them awakens. They are inspired to live their purpose with passion!
    The word “inspiration” comes from the late Latin word “inspirare” which means “inspirit” or “divine guidance”.
    So, inspiration is something that you feel on the inside, while motivation is something from the outside that compels you to take action.
    Inspiration is a driving force, while motivation which is a pulling force.
    Some people believe that motivation is for lazy people because they cannot be bothered getting things done. On the other hand, they think that inspiration is for productive people because they are always getting things done.
    No, that is certainly not the case. We all can benefit from motivation and inspiration.
    So, let’s look at some examples.
    Motivation – I have to raise $500 for my favourite charity. They are in desperate need of funding because they need to get a new computer. To be able to afford the new computer, they need to raise $500 by the end of this month.
    The ‘motive’ here is to make provision for the new computer. That is the pulling force that is making me raise money for my favourite charity.
    Inspiration – I feel like helping my favourite charity to raise funds. When I am making a contribution towards others, I feel that I am in full alignment with my core values. That creates the essence of being congruent to who I really am.
    The driving force here is to make a contribution towards others because it feels congruent to who I really am on the inside.
    I clearly remember, I received a phone call in 2012. The human resources manager of an organisation asked me to come and give a speech to her staff so that her staff would be motivated, because she felt that they needed inspiration.
    My response to her was this – “I can show your staff the steps to being motivated (which is to look for a motive). The rest is up to them. What I can also do is speak about how to awaken inspiration”.
    The reason for me giving you the example above is this – I had to explain to this lady that motivation and inspiration are two different things. Also, motivation is no magic pill that someone can just give you. What you have to do is create a motive (or look for a motive) so that you can acquire motivation.
    Some people think that motivation is bad, and inspiration is good. Please remember that neither motivation nor inspiration is a bad thing. They both can help to propel you forward!
    Whether it is motivation that you are after, or inspiration that you want, gratitude always helps. Whenever I am driven by inspiration, I tend to look for things that I am grateful for, that will help me in feeling inspired.
    Whenever I have a motive that I am working on, I tend to look for things that I already have in my favour that will help me work on my motive. I then express gratitude for the things that are in my favour.
    So, gratitude can support you in feeling inspired and being motivated.
    Quote: "Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, and inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go." Dr Wayne Dyer

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    The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders

    In a global marketplace where problems are increasingly complex, no one person will ever have all the answers. 

    That’s why Google’s SVP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, says humility is one of the traits he’s looking for in new hires. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.” And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock—it’s “intellectual humility. 

    Without humility, you are unable to learn.”

    A recent Catalyst study backs this up, showing that humility is one of four critical leadership factors for creating an environment where employees from different demographic backgrounds feel included. In a survey of more than 1500 workers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico, and the U.S., we found that when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior in their managers — a style characterized by 1) acts of humility, such as learning from criticism and admitting mistakes); 2) empowering followers to learn and develop; 3) acts of courage, such as taking personal risks for the greater good; and 4) holding employees responsible for results — they were more likely to report feeling included in their work teams. This was true for both women and men.
    Employees who perceived altruistic behavior from their managers also reported being more innovative, suggesting new product ideas and ways of doing work better. Moreover, they were more likely to report engaging in team citizenship behavior, going beyond the call of duty, picking up the slack for an absent colleague — all indirect effects of feeling more included in their workgroups.
    Innovation and Team Citizenship Chart
    Our research was also able to isolate the combination of two separate, underlying sentiments that make employees feel included: uniqueness and belongingness. Employees feel unique when they are recognized for the distinct talents and skills they bring to their teams; they feel they belong when they share important commonalities with co-workers.
    It’s tricky for leaders to get this balance right, and emphasizing uniqueness too much can diminish employees’ sense of belonging. However, we found that altruism is one of the key attributes of leaders who can coax this balance out of their employees, almost across the board.
    Uniqueness and Belongingness Chart
    Nonetheless, our study raises one common, perhaps universal implication: To promote inclusion and reap its rewards, leaders should embrace a selfless leadership style. Here are some concrete ways to get started based on both our current research and our ongoing study of leadership development practices at one company, Rockwell Automation:
    • Share your mistakes as teachable moments. When leaders showcase their own personal growth, they legitimize the growth and learning of others; by admitting to their own imperfections, they make it okay for others to be fallible, too. We also tend to connect with people who share their imperfections and foibles—they appear more “human,” more like us. Particularly in diverse workgroups, displays of humility may help to remind group members of their common humanity and shared objectives.
    • Engage in dialogue, not debates. Another way to practice humility is to truly engage with different points of view. Too often leaders are focused on swaying others and “winning” arguments. When people debate in this way, they become so focused on proving the validity of their own views that they miss out on the opportunity to learn about other points of view. Inclusive leaders are humble enough to suspend their own agendas and beliefs In so doing, they not only enhance their own learning but they validate followers’ unique perspectives.
    • Embrace uncertainty. Ambiguity and uncertainty are par for the course in today’s business environment. So why not embrace them? When leaders humbly admit that they don’t have all the answers, they create space for others to step forward and offer solutions. They also engender a sense of interdependence. Followers understand that the best bet is to rely on each other to work through complex, ill-defined problems.
    • Role model being a “follower.” Inclusive leaders empower others to lead.  By reversing roles, leaders not only facilitate employees’ development but they model the act of taking a different perspective, something that is so critical to working effectively in diverse teams.
    At Rockwell Automation, a leading provider of manufacturing automation, control, and information solutions, practicing humility in these ways has been essential to promoting an inclusive culture — a culture Rockwell’s leaders see as critical to leveraging the diversity of its global workforce.
    One of the key strategies they’ve adopted to model this leadership style is the fishbowl — a method for facilitating dialogue.  At a typical fishbowl gathering, a small group of employees and leaders sit in circle at the center of the room, while a larger group of employees are seated around the perimeter.   Employees are encouraged to engage with each other and leaders on any topic and are invited into the innermost circle.  In these unscripted conversations, held throughout the year in a variety of venues, leaders routinely demonstrate humility —by admitting to employees that don’t have all the answers and by sharing their own personal journeys of growth and development.
    At one fishbowl session, shortly after the company introduced same-sex partner benefits in 2007, a devoutly religious employee expressed concerns about the new benefits policy — in front of hundreds of other employees.  Rather than going on the defensive, a senior leader skillfully engaged that employee in dialogue, asking him questions and probing to understand his perspectives.  By responding in this way, the leader validated the perspectives of that employee and others who shared his views. 
      Other leaders shared their own dilemmas and approaches to holding firm to their own religious beliefs yet embracing the company’s values of treating all employees fairly.   Dialogues such as these have made a palpable difference at Rockwell Automation.  Employees have higher confidence in their leaders, are more engaged, and feel more included — despite their differences.
    As the Rockwell example suggests, a selfless leader should not be mistaken for a weak one. It takes tremendous courage to practice humility in the ways described above. Yet regrettably, this sort of courage isn’t always rewarded in organizations. Rather than selecting those who excel as self-promotion, as is often the case, more organizations would be wise to follow the lead of companies like Google, Rockwell Automation, and others that are re-imagining what effective leadership looks like.

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