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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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    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Has Ambitious Goals for the United Nations




    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shares his ambitious goals and hopes for his legacy. 


    Some of our favorite excerpts: 

    "Our vision is that by 2030, another 15 years from 2015, that we will have abolished the whole of extreme poverty. There should be nobody left behind. There should be nobody who goes to bed every night with a hungry stomach. And there should be no women and children who'll be dying from preventable diseases. 

    And we have to abolish at least HIV/AIDS transmissions from mother to children, and polio and measles. And there are several major killers which we really want to abolish. And by that time, we should also give universal access to energy. And there should be nobody who is suffering from lacking safe drinking water. Those are some very important visions which we will set by the end of next year."

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    Google CEO: Is the 40-Hour Workweek Really Necessary?


    "I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance," said Google CEO Larry Page. "If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy -- housing, security, opportunities for your kids -- anthropologists have been identifying these things. It’s not that hard for us to provide those things."




    Digital technology has already revolutionized the mobile work environment. Will it do the same to the traditional workweek? Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page believes it could. Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin talked about the changing face of work culture last week with Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, at a CEO summit in Silicon Valley.

    The hour long conversation covered a range of topics, but as the discussion veered into machine learning and machines taking on more jobs held by humans, Page speculated that not everyone necessarily needs to work a 40-hour workweek.


    "I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance," he said. "If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy -- housing, security, opportunities for your kids -- anthropologists have been identifying these things. It’s not that hard for us to provide those things."


    A Disconnected Idea?


    "The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small," Page continued. "I’m guessing less than 1 percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true."


    When we asked tech industry analyst Rob Enderle if Page’s comments had any potential for real-world application, he said they struck him as disconnected and borderline delusional.


    "Given that folks at Google routinely work 60- and 70-hour weeks, and given that Google is at the forefront of the type of robotics development that will inevitably cost people jobs, hearing Page hold forth on what the workweek should look like is peculiar," Enderle told us. "It actually makes me wonder if the guy can think strategically at all."


    Page said the continued dominance of the 40-hour workweek, especially in Western culture, might have more to do with social customs than with financial needs.


    "A lot of people aren't happy if they don't have something to do," he said. "They need to feel needed and wanted."


    Enderle's reaction: "What people need is to make a living."


    More People Working Less


    Page stopped short of saying that Google itself might lead the way in greater segmentation of its employees’ hours. But he did say that a bigger-picture solution to unemployment could be creating ways for companies to fill one full-time-equivalent position with two people.

    "That way, two people have a part-time job instead of one having a full-time job," Page said. "Most people, if I ask them would you like an extra week of vacation, 100 percent would raise their hands. Two weeks or a four-day work-week? They'd raise their hands. Most people like working but they also want more time with their families or their interests."

    A nice thought, but not one with strong ties to reality, according to Enderle.


    "Employees generally don’t want half a salary, even if it means having twice the free time," he said. 

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    Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face

    “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”-Mike Tyson.
    I think Iron Mike clearly nailed it when he said those eleven words. They speak volumes in life as they do in business. Even the best strategists have to be prepared for the unexpected. When tasked with a project or challenge, you spend time prepping, researching and scouring facts and figures. You analyze, speculate and coordinate your plan of attack; your masterpiece—your Magnum Opus.
    You step into that ring to show off your skills…
    Then that left-hook comes out of nowhere and lands squarely on your jaw; leaving you punch-drunk and reeling. ‘Where did it come from? Who threw it?’ You stagger around the ringboardroom looking to regain your footing. You start swinging wildly at your foe while frantically looking doe-eyed back to your team in the corner hoping desperately that someone will throw in the towel and call the fight. Then you’re hit in the solar plexus with a flurry of jabs.
    The wind rushes out of your body and stars start forming in the corner of your vision. The room is quickly growing dim and your knees take on the consistency of cooked noodles. You list dangerously to one side; hitting the ropes. Then the canvass rushes up to slap your cheek as the ref gives you the 10 count. That’s it. You’re done. Your Manager stands over you shaking their head.
    “Next time you bring me a report on this you better bring your ‘A-Game’.”
    Once the crowd has cleared, the blood has been washed from your face and the tape removed from your hands you start to really question what happened?
    ‘How did I not see that coming? I've fought in this very same ring a countless number of times and I've always won. How did my boss know about that gap in my report? How did they know that I didn't have the most up-to-date numbers from Marketing?’
    In business, much like in boxing, practice and preparation will only take you so far. You will learn to duck and weave, hook and jab with scary precision but once you step into that ring, anything could happen. Your preparation only gets you so far before instinct and timing become your guides.
    So how do you prepare for future fights so you don’t end up getting ‘rope-a-doped’?
    1. Get in the ring and start learning. If you’re not willing to look back over older presentations you've done or notes you've taken to see where improvements could’ve/should’ve been made, then you might as well hang up your gloves. You’ll get knocked around every time you get back in the ring and your opponent won’t need to make much of an effort to get you back on the ropes because they'll know your routine. Make it a habit to review previous comments and suggestions to ensure you’re not simply rehashing old content or mistakes. Learn from your mistakes.
    2. Change up your sparring partners. Sometimes you need to break from routine in order to see what you’re capable of. When you’re ready to get back into the ring pick a more difficult partner to spar with. Take a few shots to your ego to see what your limit is. Run your work past tougher critics within your organization. Ask them to be ruthless and scrutinize every phrase, word and syllable. In doing so, you’ll widen your view of what might happen when in the midst of a real bout. You’ll quickly identify which punches will be thrown to simply ‘test your mettle’ versus those punches that are meant to knock you flat on your backside. Watch and learn.
    3. Expect to get hit. If you go into that ring thinking that you’re untouchable, the shock of getting nailed in the face may be much more than you were initially prepared for. Be ready to take a few shots. Use this as a learning technique to gauge the strength and strategy of your opponent. Use objection handling techniques such as rebuttals and redirection to keep your opponent on the defensive. Use well mapped out facts and data points as your left hook and right cross to keep them on the ropes.
    4. Use your head as much as your fists. Learn how your opponent fights. Talk to colleagues or better yet to the fighter themselves and ask them what they expect to get out of your match. While it might seem odd to bring the fight to your opponent outside of the ring, good strategists will take every opportunity they can to learn from the best. When you get to fight night, watch your opponent. Watch their body language as it’s one of the best indicators as to when they’re going to throw a punch. Listen to their tone, their phrasing and their intonation. Subtle changes in the dialogue can be a warning sign. Remember their approach and their demeanor. Chances are they won’t change their approach drastically during the fight. If you can anticipate their ‘swing’ then you can duck, dodge and deck ‘em with information before they even know what hit them.
    For those of us in the business world, I’m certain you've nursed more than a few black eyes and split lips in your time. But chances are you were back in the gym the next day prepping for the next match. We take our lumps from time to time with a wry smile and the knowledge that these hits will eventually make us better fighters.
    If not—we can always take up Golf.


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    20140416_3

    Your Business Doesn’t Always Need to Change

    Evolve or die. If it ain’t broke, break it. If you don’t like change, you are going to like obsolescence even less.
    By now, the idea that organizations must adapt in order to maintain both relevance and market share in a rapidly changing world is so ingrained that it’s been reduced to pithy sayings. And there are many organizations — from Blockbuster to Kodak, print-only newspapers to pay-phone makers — that no doubt wish they’d followed the advice.
    But is constant adaptation always the best policy? Our research indicates it isn’t. Indeed, any company considering an adaptation initiative should first ask itself five questions:
    1. Do your customers really want you to change? The offerings from privately-held Berger Cookies in Baltimore have been the same for 179 years. The company’s continued success shows that people crave consistency. When you taste your favorite cookie, you don’t want to suddenly discover that the recipe has changed.
    2. Will change alienate your base? Earlier this year, executives at Sirius Satellite Radio decided to capitalize on the renewed interest in singer-songwriter Billy Joel by creating a temporary channel dedicated to him and his music. But it replaced one that had played music of the 1930s and ‘40s, prompting those customers who enjoyed classics from the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwins to cancel their subscriptions.
    3. Will you confuse people? If you bounce from one strategy (say, low prices) to another (full service) and back again, people won’t know what you stand for. The recent failures of mass market retailers Sears and J.C. Penney are clear examples of the problem with inconsistency.
    4. What is the cost? When remaking or radically changing your offerings, you must always weigh the risks against the rewards. This is a lesson Starbucks learned the hard way in the late 1990s. To expedite its expansion, the company made several tweaks: For example, it started shipping its coffee in flavor-locked packaging, which was more efficient but also eliminated most of the aroma; it also streamlined store design to gain economies of scale. But the result was “the watering down” and “commoditization” of the Starbucks experience, founder Howard Schultz later reflected. The company struggled, and its stock price fell, until Schultz came back and reversed those decisions.
    5. Will the change make you vulnerable? When you add to, or alter, your offerings, you can open the door to competitors. For example, Cadillac decided to offer a smaller car, the Cimarron, in the early 1980s. The diluted management focus, coupled with the car’s poor sales, hurt the brand and allowed competitors — especially luxury imports — to gain market share.
    It’s important to remember that some companies manage to have it both ways – adapting on the periphery to capture new opportunities while also maintaining their existing businesses. Brooks Brothers serves as a case in point. Instead of simply sticking to selling classic clothing, and waiting for outside catalysts (such as the popularity of the fashion in the television show Mad Men) to increase its popularity, the chain innovated around the edges by offering more fashionable accessories — shoes, belts, bags and the like — while leaving its core basically unchanged.
    We like this model of adaptation because you haven’t lost much money, time, or management effort if the changes don’t move the sales and earnings needle. Even more important, they will not have damaged how your base sees you. If the changes are well received, you can expand and integrate them, and/or spin them out into a separate store, division or product line.
    The point here is simple: Your customers will dictate when and how much to change. Keep asking them what they want (we recommend a formal or informal audit every six months) and keep watching their behavior, since they aren’t always able to articulate their desires. Then change as they do, or just a little bit faster.

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    3 Secrets Behind Turning a Great Idea Into a Big Business
     

     
    How do you take a great idea and turn it into a big company? The answer to that question is likely on the minds of most early-stage entrepreneurs.
    One person with the experience to provide useful insights is South Africa native Barry Morris -- an Oxford graduate who has "over 25 years of experience running private and public companies ranging in scale from early startup phase to over 1,000 employees."
    To wit, Morris turned publicly traded Irish software company IONA Technologies into a dominant player with "10,000 customers, 270 technology partners, $180 million in revenues, and 70% market share."
    As he explained in a July 10 interview from a restaurant in France, "I was pulled out of retirement to run database startup NuoDB, in 2010 because I was so impressed by the solution that database architect Jim Starkey had developed in 2008. He solved a difficult problem with groundbreaking intellectual property."
    The Cambridge, Mass.-based startup now has about 50 employees and Morris is hiring fast--expecting that NuoDB will end 2014 with about 75 people.
    While declining to provide statistics on growth in revenues or the number of customers, he did say that NuoDB has attracted interest from some very large companies because its technology allows it to keep its databases running nonstop and expand and contract its processing capabilities very flexibly and at a much lower cost than products from rivals such as Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft.
    Morris argues that turning a great idea into a successful company hinges on three things: culture, people, and product. These three are tightly interrelated since a groundbreaking product can help attract great people--including a CEO who can create a strong culture in which the people can excel.

    1. Actually care about culture.

    Everybody talks about company culture, but few do anything about it. Morris believes that success depends on building a strong culture and using it to manage the company.
    Said Morris: "Culture answers questions about who we are, how we think, what we believe, what kind of people we hire and don't hire. This comes down to defining values and running the company according to those values."
    "At NuoDB, our values are driving innovation and transparency. We expect every person we hire to come up with new ideas and we make key statistics about our business--such as the number of users, the number of customer calls, the number of closed deals--available to all our people."

    2. Better culture equals better people.

    Culture can help a startup to hire a great team with energy and potential to expand with the company.
    Quoth Morris: "When it comes to building a great team, I try to think like New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. I want to hire people who have the greatest potential. I get resumes from recruiters that are full of experience at the right names, but I want to hire people with high energy, tremendous creativity, and drive."
    "When we do hire a person, we have a contract with them. We tell them: 'You are the best and we are committing to you. If you create value, you will be on a winning team and have fun. If not, you will be gone,'" he said.
    For sales people it's all about performance. As Morris explained, "if candidates don't tell me about their sales track record within the first minute of our conversation, they will not get further in the interview process."

    3. Better opportunity equals better people.

    The best people will not join your startup unless you offer them a tremendous business opportunity.
    To lure Morris out of retirement, it took a ground-breaking product idea in need of a CEO to turn it into a company. Not only did NuoDB lure Morris, it also attracted investment from three of the leading luminaries in the industry.
    "Jim Starkey solved a problem that has eluded the database industry for 30 years that's targeting a $35 billion market opportunity. He convinced me to go make it happen. And three of the biggest names in the industry invested--Ingres' Gary Morgenthaler, Sybase's Mitchell Kertzman, and Informix's Roger Sippl," said Morris.
    A breakthrough product is a critical starting point for building a big company. Argued Morris, "If you build a product that's 10% better, it's about execution. But to create enormous long-term value, you need a fundamental innovation backed by significant intellectual property."

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    Money doesn’t always give the best incentive

    A Bike to Work participant parks a bicycle at City Hall during an annual ride and rally on May 26, 2014.
    JENNIFER PAGLIARO / TORONTO STAR 
    A Bike to Work participant parks a bicycle at City Hall during an annual ride and rally on May 26, 2014.
    Many employers encourage their employees to give to charity or fundraise for a good cause. Growing Toronto-based tech consulting company Bursting Silver goes the extra mile and pays them to do it.
    Founder Al Povoledo offers each of his staffers $750 each year, tax-free, to give to the charity of his or her choice. The only proviso? Employees can’t just donate. They have to get involved in some way, too — organize an event, run a marathon or work in a soup kitchen.
    “I’ll write a cheque to anyone they want me to,” says Povoledo. “But they have to be involved in a part of it. If they’re supporting a cause to cure AIDS, you do the AIDS walk or run. You participate in the event. There’s a bit of effort there.”
    The promise of a donation seems to work. Almost every one of Bursting Silver’s roughly 20 staffers has taken him up on the offer. Project manager and consultant Jennifer Hendriks is training and raising an ambitious $15,000 for the 600-kilometre Friends for Life Bike Rally on July 27 for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.
    But is it really the $750 that’s motivating her? For behavioural scientists and ethicists, that’s the million-dollar question.
    “I’d like to say it’s the money that makes it, but it’s not,” says Hendriks, who says it her job’s schedule flexibility, as well as its encouraging environment, that really makes it possible for her to attempt such a feat.
    If the company merely gave its staffers flexible schedules and no $750, would nearly all of them be volunteering so actively?
    Since the days the Red Cross first began giving people cookies when they donated blood, rewards have long been used to motivate people to do good. Today, as a way of dealing with problems as diverse as traffic congestion and obesity, governments are increasingly experimenting with incentives to get people to make difficult but beneficial changes to lifestyle habits — such as exercising, eating healthier and even driving less.
    The stakes are high. According to one influential figure in 2007, behavioural causes are estimated to account for nearly 40 per cent of deaths in the U.S.
    “Everyone at some level wants to be healthy” or engage in activities they see as positive, says Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, which was founded to study ways to motivate people to make better decisions, especially around health. “What’s competing for their attention is that engaging in healthy behaviour requires effort and the payoff is off in the future.”
    Earlier in June, the French government started a pilot project that pays employees 25 euro cents per kilometre to ride their bicycles to work in a bid to reduce traffic congestion. Twenty companies have already volunteered to take part in the program. Bursting Silver pays its staffers $1 per kilometer to bike to meetings, rather than the 50 cents per kilometre they would normally give out as travel compensation. About one-third of employees take part in the program, says Povoledo.
    Yet when asked if that extra 50 cents is what’s motivating them, he shakes his head.
    “To me the payment doesn’t mean anything,” says Povoledo. “What this is doing is it creates a different culture in our company.” The compensation acts as a signal to employees, clients and competitors that their company values the environment and the community. While the money may be the carrot, it’s the firm’s encouraging atmosphere that allows those who try biking to work to actually stick with it.
    Whether paying people to do something good — or good for them — really works is a topic of increasing academic debate. The growth of behavioural economics (the study of the emotional and psychological factors in economic decisions) has led researchers to look more closely at why people make the choices they do. Those who believe decision-making can be reliably moulded by incentives are known, rather optimistically, as “choice architects.”
    A 2009 study authored by Volpp and other colleagues at the Center and sponsored by the Center for Disease Control showed that a cash incentive could be used to help people stop smoking. The program offered one group of General Electric employees a package of incentives to quit valued at $750, as well as information on local quit-smoking programs, while offering a second group the information only. It found that the first group quit smoking at three times the rate of the group that only got information.
    There was a twist, though. When asked if the money had motivated them to quit smoking, employees denied that it had been a deciding factor.
    “There is a tendency of people not wanting to attribute change to the incentive,” says Volpp. “People want to feel good about taking care of themselves. ‘I did it because I was getting paid to do it’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
    The desire to want to be seen as doing the right thing for the “right” reasons frustrates efforts to figure out why people do anything.
    Research has even shown that relying too much on money to motivate people’s behaviour can backfire if it messes with people’s natural ethical instincts. An experiment that paid women to donate blood actually reduced the number of donors by half. Allowing them to give their payment back to charity brought donors back, according to a 2009 essay warning against relying on economic incentives in the Harvard Business Review.
    Volpp says that monetary incentives shouldn’t be used to change behaviour without a deeper shift in the culture of a company or a society toward living healthier or volunteering. He thinks that provides a clue to why Bursting Silver’s programs work. The money is simply a very tangible signal of the company’s values, which also mean Jennifer Hendriks gets a flexible work schedule that makes it easy to fit in her training and fundraising.
    “There are very powerful interactions between the underlying culture within an organization and what people do,” he says. “So the decision to offer money is a manifestation of the fact the company feels it’s important to be physically active and there’s important signaling going on.”

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    Inspire the Innovation Monster Within


    Fostering your creative juices takes the same focus and hard work as anything else. Creativity isn’t a birthright, but rather a learning process that can be developed.
    In Sir Ken Robinson’s book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, for instance, he points out that “if someone tells you they cannot read or write, you don’t assume that they are not capable of reading and writing, but that they haven’t [yet] been taught how.”
    Creativity comes from effort -- hard-earned, deliberate practice and time spent being creative. There is no secret to becoming a better painter than to just paint, to reading faster than to just read, or more creative than to imagine and innovate. Here are five ways to get your creative juices flowing and inspire the innovation monster within:
    1. Define what it means to be creative. Just as people have different definitions of “ideal,” the same goes for “creativity.” Take, for instance, Apple. The i-everything company is a master at creating new products and spinoffs from old ones. Starbucks, however, can only come up with so many different coffee beverages because they all taste like, well, coffee.
    Instead, the coffee giant’s creative touch lies within service, as it continually shapes and redefines the service industry by making each Starbucks a place to not only enjoy a tasty beverage, but hang out, read or study. In fact, the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Shultz, recently instituted a new creative approach to promoting service by offering paid online education funding for both current and former employees.
    2. Be a copycat. Most ideas are not completely innate. In other words, ideas must come from something whether it's a personal encounter, a passage in a story or a news headline. Ideas, then, are recreated or repurposed as a result of someone or something. So if you want to be more creative, you must first recreate.
    Now, I’m not suggesting you plagiarize, but going through the motions of rewriting words, movements or thoughts of an expert is a great way to build fundamentals and muscle memory that allow you to connect the dots in the future.
    3. Exercise. Every muscle needs a break once in a while, and physical activity allows your mind to wander away from its current focus and get the rest it needs. Research conducted by the Creativity Research Journal measured the effects of exercise on creativity and found that people who exercised displayed more creative potential after working out than had they not exercised at all -- yet another reason why exercise is important.
    4. Question everything. For job interviews, Thomas Edison used to invite potential new hires over to his house for a meal. If the applicant added salt to his meal before tasting it, then he did not get the job. Edison only hired people who questioned everything they did and did not operate off assumptions. Those applicants who salted their meals before tasting it failed to question whether it needed salt in the first place.
    5. Substitute words. Words mean different things to different people. With every word comes a unique meaning that is exclusive to each individual.
    For example, Michael Michalko, author of the creativity bibleThinkerToys, highlights in a blog: Toyota asked employees for ideas on how they could become more productive. They received few suggestions. They reworded the question to: ‘In what ways might I make my job easier?’ They were inundated with ideas. Even tiny changes with words can lead to unpredictable, cataclysmic results.”
    If you want more than one perspective, something as simple as changing your words can lead to greater idea flow.
    Creativity, just like anything, requires practice. It means exercising an iron-willed determination to hit a constantly moving target -- and sticking with it until you do. Incorporate the above habits into your daily routine and watch your creative capacity build.

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    The Best Business Book I’ve Ever Read

    Not long after I first met Warren Buffett back in 1991, I asked him to recommend his favorite book about business. He didn’t miss a beat: “It’s Business Adventures, by John Brooks,” he said. “I’ll send you my copy.” I was intrigued: I had never heard of Business Adventures or John Brooks.
    Today, more than two decades after Warren lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer. (And Warren, if you’re reading this, I still have your copy.)
    A skeptic might wonder how this out-of-print collection of New Yorker articles from the 1960s could have anything to say about business today. After all, in 1966, when Brooks profiled Xerox, the company’s top-of-the-line copier weighed 650 pounds, cost $27,500, required a full-time operator, and came with a fire extinguisher because of its tendency to overheat. A lot has changed since then.
    It’s certainly true that many of the particulars of business have changed. But the fundamentals have not. Brooks’s deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then. In terms of its longevity, Business Adventures stands alongside Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, the 1949 book that Warren says is the best book on investing that he has ever read.
    Brooks grew up in New Jersey during the Depression, attended Princeton University (where he roomed with future Secretary of State George Shultz), and, after serving in World War II, turned to journalism with dreams of becoming a novelist. In addition to his magazine work, he published a handful of books, only some of which are still in print. He died in 1993.
    As the journalist Michael Lewis wrote in his foreword to Brooks’s book The Go-Go Years, even when Brooks got things wrong, “at least he got them wrong in an interesting way.” Unlike a lot of today’s business writers, Brooks didn’t boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success. (How many times have you read that some company is taking off because they give their employees free lunch?) You won’t find any listicles in his work. Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters, and show how things went for them.
    In one called “The Impacted Philosophers,” he uses a case of price-fixing at General Electric to explore miscommunication—sometimes intentional miscommunication—up and down the corporate ladder. It was, he writes, “a breakdown in intramural communication so drastic as to make the building of the Tower of Babel seem a triumph of organizational rapport.”
    In “The Fate of the Edsel,” he refutes the popular explanations for why Ford’s flagship car was such a historic flop. It wasn’t because the car was overly poll-tested; it was because Ford’s executives only pretended to be acting on what the polls said. “Although the Edsel was supposed to be advertised, and otherwise promoted, strictly on the basis of preferences expressed in polls, some old-fashioned snake-oil selling methods, intuitive rather than scientific, crept in.” It certainly didn’t help that the first Edsels “were delivered with oil leaks, sticking hoods, trunks that wouldn’t open, and push buttons that…couldn’t be budged with a hammer.”
    One of Brooks’s most instructive stories is “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox.” (The headline alone belongs in the Journalism Hall of Fame.) The example of Xerox is one that everyone in the tech industry should study. Starting in the early ’70s, the company funded a huge amount of R&D that wasn’t directly related to copiers, including research that led to Ethernet networks and the first graphical user interface (the look you know today as Windows or OS X).
    But because Xerox executives didn’t think these ideas fit their core business, they chose not to turn them into marketable products. Others stepped in and went to market with products based on the research that Xerox had done. Both Apple and Microsoft, for example, drew on Xerox’s work on graphical user interfaces.
    I know I’m not alone in seeing this decision as a mistake on Xerox’s part. I was certainly determined to avoid it at Microsoft. I pushed hard to make sure that we kept thinking big about the opportunities created by our research in areas like computer vision and speech recognition. Many other journalists have written about Xerox, but Brooks’s article tells an important part of the company’s early story. He shows how it was built on original, outside-the-box thinking, which makes it all the more surprising that as Xerox matured, it would miss out on unconventional ideas developed by its own researchers.
    Brooks was also a masterful storyteller. He could craft a page-turner like “The Last Great Corner,” about the man who founded the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain and his attempt to foil investors intent on shorting his company’s stock. I couldn’t wait to see how things turned out for him. (Here’s a spoiler: Not well.) Other times you can almost hear Brooks chuckling as he tells some absurd story. There’s a passage in “The Fate of the Edsel” in which a PR man for Ford organizes a fashion show for the wives of newspaper reporters. The host of the fashion show turns out to be a female impersonator, which might seem edgy today but would have been scandalous for a major American corporation in 1957. Brooks notes that the reporters’ wives “were able to give their husbands an extra paragraph or two for their stories.”
    Brooks’s work is a great reminder that the rules for running a strong business and creating value haven’t changed. For one thing, there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan, and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.
    That is a lesson you learn quickly in business, and I’ve been reminded of it at every step of my career, first at Microsoft and now at the foundation. Which people are you going to back? Do their roles fit their abilities? Do they have both the IQ and EQ to succeed? Warren is famous for this approach at Berkshire Hathaway, where he buys great businesses run by wonderful managers and then gets out of the way.
    Business Adventures is as much about the strengths and weaknesses of leaders in challenging circumstances as it is about the particulars of one business or another. In that sense, it is still relevant not despite its age but because of it. John Brooks’s work is really about human nature, which is why it has stood the test of time.

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    How Business Leaders Can Strengthen American Schools


    The declining competitiveness of the United States in world markets is due in part to the country's stagnant education system. Yet partnerships between business and educators have been marked by distrust. Jan Rivkin highlights proposals for a new collaboration.


    Business has long recognized the connection between an effective school system and a qualified workforce—by some estimates, the private sector invests $4 billion annually in efforts intended to improve public education.
    So why isn't that investment paying off?
    "Business leaders today are engaged in education in ways that are generous, well-intended, effective at alleviating the symptoms of a weak education system, and thoroughly inadequate to help strengthen the system," says Harvard Business School Professor Jan W. Rivkin, a leader with University Professor Michael Porter of the School's U.S. Competitiveness Project. Rivkin is the Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration.
    “STUDY AFTER STUDY HAS SHOWN THAT A COUNTRY’S LONG-TERM PROSPERITY DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF ITS HUMAN CAPITAL”
    Rivkin and fellow HBS faculty Allen S. Grossman and Kevin W. Sharerhave joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Boston Consulting Group to determine how business leaders can partner more effectively with educators to support America's students and schools.
    "Study after study has shown that a country's long-term prosperity depends on the quality of its human capital," says Rivkin. "So if we're really falling down in that arena, we have an economic problem so important that business leaders can't sit on the sidelines."
    On the positive side, this could be a promising moment for American education. Rivkin points to developments such as improved teaching and leadership talent, the use of technology in personalized learning, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, wider school choice, and a dramatic upgrade in the quality and use of data analytics to determine what is working in education and what isn't.
    So where do business leaders fit in? The group's recently published work identifies three areas that capitalize on business's strengths and result in the greatest returns:
    • Influencing policy. "We know that policy often stands in the way of innovation and education," says Rivkin. "Business leaders can wield a great deal of influence in policy—especially local policy—and local policy is where all the action is in education." In Denver, for example, business leaders partnered with educators to lobby for an increase in taxes to support education.

    • Building on proven innovation. "There's no shortage of success stories in particular schools and districts," Rivkin says. "The problem is that they tend to get bottled up in individual localities." Since business leaders are often adept at scaling up innovations that work, why not leverage that expertise? ExxonMobil, a founding sponsor of the National Math and Science Initiative, helped to scale two projects: one focusing on improved training for science, technology, and math teachers, the other on improving advanced placement test results in the same areas.

    • Reinventing the local education ecosystem. Many communities have programs to support children and education—but they're often not coordinated, resulting in gaps and redundancies in service. This a fertile area for collaboration. "What you see in some places are business, civic, and education leaders partnering to create a strategy to support kids from cradle to career," says Rivkin. In Cincinnati, the Strive Partnership serves as a central clearing house for aligning goals with the metrics and decisions to meet those goals. "This fosters a sense of collective responsibility but individual accountability," says Rivkin. As another example, the GE Foundation sponsors Developing Futures, a program that partners with seven school districts where GE has major operations to upgrade management talent and processes at the district level.

    OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME

    So what's the likelihood that these sorts of partnerships will become more prevalent? The private sector's $4 billion per year investment in education is a drop in the bucket when you consider the $600 billion total spent annually on US K-12 education. But it is still a significant sum with high-impact potential. Unfortunately, no clear, aggregate data exist to indicate how that money is spent, or its effectiveness.
    The U.S. Competitiveness Project and its partners surveyed business leaders and school superintendents to gain a clearer understanding of the two groups' interactions.
    The picture that emerges is a mixed one. On the plus side, 95 percent of superintendents could point to some form of business engagement in their districts. But on closer examination, much of that engagement can be characterized as "checkbook philanthropy" in the form of donated money, goods, and scholarships.
    "These are noble efforts that are effective in their own way," says Rivkin, "but they don't result in positive, lasting improvements to the system."
    Superintendents are happy with this sort of interaction, the survey showed, and 80 percent would welcome more collaboration, with a majority indicating openness to new types of engagement.
    The two groups had very different perceptions of the effectiveness of K-12 education, however: Business leaders characterized the system as "poor and deteriorating" compared to other advanced nations' while superintendents saw it as "strong and keeping pace."
    Another potential barrier to productive partnership: Business leaders tend to give themselves more credit for being informed about education than superintendents do.
    Rivkin notes that in the survey of superintendents, the qualitative comments section also showed a clear undercurrent of distrust and lack of respect. "The gist was that a business leader would come in and say, 'I know how to run my business so I know how to run your school.'" The attitude that superintendents desired of business leaders was quite different: "I'm going to learn first, you're the professionals when it comes to education," Rivkin summarizes. "I'll have my ideas, but we're going to do this together."
    The group's ongoing efforts currently include several publications available for download at the U.S. Competitiveness Project's website, including Lasting Impact: A Business Leader's Playbook for Supporting America's Schools and Partial Credit: How America's School Superintendents See Business as a Partner.
    "There are some good, evidence-based programs that business leaders can start getting behind," Rivkin says, "but there's no question that we need a better understanding of what actually works."
    The partnership between business and education must be long term, he adds. "The problems that we've seen in the education system and in our approach to human capital have been a generation in the making, and it will take a generation to set them right. Most businesses have an approach to partnering with educators that made sense in the past but is not adequate for the needs or the opportunities of the future."

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    Has ‘Disruptive Innovation’ Run Its Course? Not Yet…



    Eonomic theories emanating from business schools do not usually draw 6,000-word takedowns in the popular press. But then, few ideas have permeated society as thoroughly as the notion of disruptive innovation. The theory describes the way a new product or service transforms an existing market — and eventually replaces and redefines the status quo — by bringing new simplicity, convenience and affordability. In a June 23 article in The New Yorker, Jill Lepore launched an attack on the soundness of the theory itself and the solidity of the scholarship behind it. She also decried the misappropriation of the concept across a variety of arenas beyond pure business.
    “The 18th century embraced the idea of progress; the 19th century had evolution; the 20th century had growth and then innovation. Our era has disruption, which, despite its futurism, is atavistic,” wrote Lepore, a Harvard University professor of American history. “It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation and shaky evidence.”
    The father of the theory of disruptive innovation, Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, who coined the term in his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, has offered an initial response to the criticisms in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview. In that piece, Christensen calls Lepore’s article a “criminal act of dishonesty.” He goes on to say that Lepore broke “all of the rules of scholarship that she accused me of breaking — in … truly egregious ways. In fact, every one — every one — of those points that she attempted to make [about The Innovator’s Dilemma] has been addressed in a subsequent book or article. Every one! And if she was truly a scholar as she pretends, she would have read [those].”Lepore’s polemic may or may not signal the beginning of the end for disruptive innovation as the knee-jerk answer to all institutional ills, but it has undoubtedly given great energy to the discussion of what was once a discrete and considerably more modest theory. “I do think this interaction is healthy in that we are all talking,” says Wharton management professor Rahul Kapoor. “It serves perhaps to discipline the use of the term and the application of the term … closer to what the research meant.” sloppy,” notes David Robertson, a Wharton practice professor of operations and information management. “That is a sign of the success of Christensen’s ideas and the widespread adoption. But it’s not fair to lay all the sloppiness at his feet. On the other hand, it is fair to talk about how sloppy the term ‘disruption’ has become, and how we have to worry about [disruptive] technology all over. Poking holes in that [sloppiness] is easy, and it’s a contribution that Lepore did that.”
    Plastic Bricks and Integrating Innovation
    Christensen applauds Lepore for writing that disruptive innovation is a concept that has invaded all quarters of society, and that the term is now thrown around carelessly. The theory, as he defined it, saw disruptive innovation as the kind that comes from behind and develops a new market that eventually displaces the old one.
    About Lepore’s piece, he told Businessweek: “In the first two or three pages, it seems that her motivation is to try to rein in this almost random use of the word ‘disruption.’ The word is used to justify whatever anybody — an entrepreneur or a college student — wants to do. And as I read that, I was delighted that somebody with her standing would join me in trying to bring discipline and understanding around a very useful theory. I’ve been trying to do it for 20 years.”
    Many others agree. But beyond that, Robertson says he has differences with both Christensen and Lepore. “She says disruptive innovation has neither good evidence behind it nor predictive power, but then she doesn’t leave us with answers,” he notes. “If I am a CEO, and I see this disruptive technology entering my industry, what do I do?” At the same time, he adds, Lepore does not confront a false tenet of Christensen’s theory. “Christensen says we must respond to disruption by adopting the disruptive technology — or die. What Christensen has said is to disrupt yourself before somebody else does, and I don’t think that is always the answer.”
    According to Robertson, there are lots of companies that have survived not by changing their fundamental business model, but by adapting new technologies to their strategy. Robertson, author of Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry, says that the Danish company was threatened by virtual play — including games like “Minecraft,” in which online players build and destroy in worlds inhabited by an online community. “It’s good, and cheaper than a LEGO plastic brick,” Robertson notes.
    But LEGO innovated and integrated into its business a new venture that has only increased demand for the company’s core business: a feature-length film. The LEGO Movie has grossed more than $463 million worldwide, and for a while was the top-grossing film of 2014. “I think LEGO wants to reinvent the future of play,” says Robertson. “The core business is really spinning off tons of cash, and I know that some of that cash is going to labs in separate buildings that are looking at different ways kids can play. They have tried and failed several times to do something genuinely different, but they will continue trying until they get it right.”
    Does disruption kill core business models? “Not necessarily,” Robertson says. “Does that mean you should anticipate how it is going to affect the core business? Of course you should. You should always be looking for that next big thing, as well. In the late 1990s, [LEGO] moved away from core business and stopped focusing on bricks. Everything was out-of-the-box innovation, and it almost put them out of business.”
    Kapoor has looked at how these issues play out in the pharmaceutical industry, where investment in innovation happens, but “somehow it’s harder for these discoveries to be pushed toward development and pushed toward markets.” A research paper co-authored by Kapoor and Thomas Klueter, titled “Decoding the Adaptability-Rigidity Puzzle: Evidence from Pharmaceutical Incumbents’ Pursuit of Gene Therapy and Monoclonal Antibodies” and published in the Academy of Management Journal, argues that it is a misconception that incumbent firms do not invest in disruptive technology research are strongly influenced by the cognition and incentives of strategic decision makers and the resource allocation process within incumbent firms.
     While these organizational characteristics facilitate firms’ development of sustaining technologies, they induce inertial pressures when the technological regime is disruptive and make it more difficult to garner resources and support for subsequent development.” Innovation supported through alliances and acquisitions, on the other hand, is shielded from those pressures.
    Kapoor sees his paper as “helping the idea evolve in a more refined way.” The researchers note that “when we think about why it is difficult for firms to adapt to new innovations and new technology, it’s not that these firms get blinded — they don’t. But it is difficult within the context of inventive structures to give the same propriety to ideas that don’t fit with existing models. That is something not explicitly addressed in the research in the 1990s…. In [this] paper, we talk about the different ways established firms can overcome these inertial pressures. We think it provides a more nuanced approach to how we think about these problems.”
    Why ‘Where’ Matters
    Does it matter where innovation takes place in a firm? Peter S. Cohan thinks so. The instructor of business strategy and entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates, a management consulting and venture capital firm, calls Christensen’s scholarship flawed, citing as particularly wrong-headed Christensen’s dictum that disruptive innovation be housed separately in subsidiaries.
    “What works is when the CEO leads a transition,” Cohan notes. “If it is set up specifically, as Christensen put it, to ‘attack the parent,’ with that kind of dynamic going on, the focus is not on creating value for customers. [Subsidiaries] can’t get the resources, and don’t have the power the CEO has to marshal those resources. If the CEO leads it, then the CEO is going to start off by focusing on what the customer is looking for. It needs to deliver a service or product that is better than the competition. Only a CEO is willing to take the short-term financial hit as the change occurs.”
    An example of a company willing to make short-term sacrifices during a transition, Cohan says, is Adobe. “They used to sell packaged software, but since 2011, they have moved to software as a service, where you pay a monthly amount and get the latest version from the cloud. The amount of cash in the short-term is much lower, and their revenue and profits in that time haven’t been a pretty picture. But Adobe’s stock has more than doubled because they did a great job explaining to customers and investors what they were doing during this transition. They have been able to beat expectations, because it is a product customers really like.”
    If certain aspects of Christensen’s theory turn out not to be valid, that in no way renders his research useless, many say. Wharton operations and information management professor Christian Terwiesch notes that he found Lepore’s piece “unduly harsh,” and that it is easy to complain that models and their empirical methodology are not perfect.
    “Let’s look at the innovation-focused best-selling books The Innovator’s Dilemma and Blue Ocean Strategy,” says Terwiesch, co-director of Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management. “It is important to understand the research methods underlying such studies. In both cases, the authors, guided by years of reflection and industry observation, had a certain framework in mind. They then looked for data to put that framework into a business context and to create the appearance of an empirical foundation.” However, in all of social sciences, and especially in business, empirical foundations tend to be shaky, Terwiesch notes. “We don’t have the randomized controlled trials that we have in medicine: Let 50 CEOs use the Christensen framework and 50 CEOs not use it and then see who wins. That type of study simply does not exist.”
    To marginalize Christensen’s work would be to miss something quite valuable, he says. “I have worked with dozens of companies around innovation and strategy,” Terwiesch notes. “I found the model of disruptive innovation powerful, though I am fully aware that it is not a universal truth. It enables a discussion with organizations; it provides organizations with a framework and [encourages them to] reflect on their strategy. That is all. But that is a lot. All models and frameworks are wrong. Reality is always more complex. They all are wrong – but some are useful nevertheless.”
    Wishing Disruption Away?
    But can disruptive innovation be applied to every sector of society? More importantly, should it? Lepore spends the first parts of her piece disemboweling the specifics of disruption theory. But she builds to a larger, if implied, claim that capitalism itself, as it has come to be practiced under the terms of disruptive innovation, has run amok.
    “Innovation and disruption are ideas that originated in the arena of business but which have since been applied to arenas whose values and goals are remote from the values and goals of business,” she writes. “People aren’t disk drives. Public schools, colleges and universities, churches, museums and many hospitals, all of which have been subjected to disruptive innovation, have revenues and expenses and infrastructures, but they aren’t industries in the same way that manufacturers of hard-disk drives or truck engines or dry goods are industries. Journalism isn’t an industry in that sense, either. 
    Doctors have obligations to their patients, teachers to their students, pastors to their congregations, curators to the public and journalists to their readers — obligations that lie outside the realm of earnings and are fundamentally different from the obligations that a business executive has to employees, partners and investors.”
    But simply saying that it is inappropriate to layer disruptive innovation on certain sectors does not mean that disruption will not arrive on your doorstep one day unbidden, others point out. Says Robertson: “It’s a scary thing when some new technology comes in and changes the way your business works, be it education or high tech or the web or whatever. I think the reason Christensen resonates so well is he recognizes that this is a situation that has happened [to many].”
    In Lepore’s view, Christensen invites criticism when, in The Innovative University, written with Henry J. Eyring, he subjects higher education (in this case, Harvard) to what Lepore calls “a wildly misguided attempt to apply standards of instruction in the 21st century to standards of instruction in the 17th.” But Robertson counters that “it’s just silly to say disruption is not going to happen to education. It sounds like something people said in the 1990s just before they went out of business.”
    Rather than pretending nothing will change, or proposing that everything will change, Roberts argues for a third possibility. “Things are not going to be the same, but not entirely different,” he notes. “The university of the future – [in fact,] the university of now — will have some tech component. Harvard Business School is offering a pre-MBA course that is an online, virtual experience that helps prepare you for an MBA. That doesn’t mean people won’t be showing up in Boston on the first day of class. But isn’t that also the start of an experience in an interesting and important way?”
    Johns Hopkins business school professor Ravi Aron says it is important to remember that disruption leaves behind a tremendous number of winners. “If universities use a combination of adjuncts and online delivery to cap the costs of delivering courses, while it would depress the demand for a Ph.D. in the academic market, it would help contain the costs of education and expand its reach.” Similarly, Aron adds, disruption in the recording industry has benefited many consumers, as well as musicians themselves who no longer must go through gatekeepers to get their product to market. “While the demand for the services of classically trained musicians drops, the access to classical music has been greatly democratized by the digital delivery of music,” he says.
    Like Lepore, Aron notes, however, that disruption cannot be extended into all sectors of society without potentially dire consequences. “The reason that the disruption framework is misappropriated is because of a lack of understanding of the objective function of the enterprise,” he says.
    A corporation’s objective function can be understood in terms of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), he notes, and disruption has a meaning in that context. “However, an entity such as a university, a hospital or a government-funded infrastructure project — such as mass transit, or an airport — has an objective function that is very different from EBITDA and net margins,” Aron points out. 
    “Disruption is often invoked by consultants and soundbite gurus to explain why these entities fail. The fact that these entities are not maximizing the objective functions that the consultants think that they should is lost on them. It is akin to a disruption consultant telling the Vienna Philharmonic, ‘If you can implement a program of continuous productivity improvement, the Unfinished Symphony could be finished.’ The solutions that the ‘disruption consultants’ come up with range from the trite and the trivial to catastrophically dangerous.”
    Reproduced from Knowledge@Wharton

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    The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning


    Self-regulated learning is like your own little secret. It stirs from within you, and is the voice in your head that asks you questions about your learning.
    More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed.
    Another secret about self-regulated learning is its strong positive impact on student achievement. Just the cognitive facet of it, metacognition, has an effect that’s almost as large as teacher clarity, getting feedback, and spaced practice and even larger than mastery learning, cooperative learning, time on task, and computer-assisted instruction (Hattie, 2009).
    Self-regulated learning also has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:
    • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
    • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
    • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
    • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
    • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task?
    Metacognitive questions include these:
    • What is the best way to go about this task?
    • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
    • What am I still having trouble understanding?
    • What can I recall and what should I review?
    • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced?
    Asking oneself these questions also constitutes elaborative rehearsal, which is the thinking process that moves new knowledge into long-term memory.
    Just because we may practice self-regulated learning doesn’t mean our students do. Most of us were among the best students, especially in college, and the best students can become the worst teachers because we quickly knew how to master the material.
    In fact, few of our students demonstrate self-regulation – not even those in professional schools. When asked to identify the factors they considered important in their learning, 132 veterinary students most commonly cited the quality of their faculty’s instruction, not their own effort or learning skills (Ruohoniemi & Lindblom-Ylänne, 2009). Not surprisingly, younger, undergraduate students have the same mind set. They see learning as something that is “happening” to them, and our job is to make it happen and make it easy. After all, learning was easy in elementary and high school, so why should it require much time and hard work now?
    How do you get students to practice self-regulated learning? First, you explain to them what it is and how it will benefit them and then have students do self-regulated learning activities in class and as homework. Then you wait for them to see the good results.
    Students don’t mind these assignments. They’re short, low-stress, and worth a point or two, and students learn about themselves. You don’t mind them either because, with 90% of them, you just give credit for completion: pass/fail, all points or no points. Most in-class activities don’t even require this. You need only to grade the major reflective meta-assignments, the kind that accompany service-learning, problem-based learning, or a lengthy simulation.
    Let’s consider a few proven self-regulated learning activities and assignments; many more are in Creating Self-Regulated Learning: Strategies for Strengthening Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills (Stylus, 2013):
    • Students answer two or three reflective questions on the reading or podcast.
    • They write about what they learned by doing an assignment.
    • They re-do the same or similar problems to the ones they miss on their homework and exams and explain the proper procedure.
    • They describe their reasoning process in solving a “fuzzy” problem – how they defined the problem, decided which principles and concepts to apply, developed alternative approaches and solutions, and assessed their feasibility, trade-offs, and relative worth.
    • They reflect on a graded exam by answering questions like these:
      • How to you feel about your grade? Were you surprised?
      • How did you study for the exam? Did you study enough?
      • Why did you lose points? Any patterns?
      • What will you do differently to prepare for the next exam?
    Students do see the effects on their academic performance. In a recent experimental study on multiple sections of mathematics students (Rolf, Scharff, & Hodge, 2012), instructors assigned pre-class homework of a reading and questions on it. In the treatment group, they explained the learning benefits of this homework and had the students complete three reflection forms during the semester on how the process was affecting their learning. The control group received neither the explanation nor the reflective forms. The treatment-group students scored higher on the final exam, answered more of the optional questions during the course, and expressed greater appreciation of these assignments in helping them learn.

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    4 Steps For Piercing Through

     

    the fog of Nascent Idea
    History is littered with smart people making horribly wrong calls about nascent markets. In the 1940s, IBM’s Thomas Watson (supposedly) said there was a world market for only five computers. In the 1970s, Digital Equipment’s Ken Olson said there was no reason why people would want a computer in their home--versus their office. And it was Microsoft’s Bill Gates who was reported to have said in the early 1980s that 640K should be enough memory for anyone. Regardless of whether or not these stories are apocryphal, they ring true because we misjudge early-stage innovation so often.
    It’s nobody’s fault. Data tends to accrue and become obvious only after people have already taken action. Most people make their first-mile decisions inside what I call the “fog of innovation.” It’s easy to get lost in the fog and never make any decision at all, because a risk that doesn’t pan out tends to have more negative repercussions on a person’s career than risks not taken. Problematically, if you never make a decision, that only creates more room for disruptive upstarts and hungry competitors.
    LETTING CHAOS REIGN CARRIES SUBSTANTIAL RISKS. 
    Worse, companies often face a mismatch between their innovation plans and the overall strategy that should be in place to support those plans. I remember distinctly a large company that proudly told me about how it got all of its most important executives to sit on an all-powerful innovation board that met every 90 days. “What if,” I asked, “the day after a meeting, the team discovers its entire strategy needs a wholesale revision?” Silence.
    It’s tempting to say that there shouldn’t be any control mechanisms for more uncertain efforts. Once you’ve decided to innovate, the argument goes, you should form a team, give them a check, and get out of their way. Letting chaos reign, however, carries substantial risks.
    Most ideas emerge out of a process of trial-and-error experimentation. Without control mechanisms, teams can easily follow the wrong strategy for too long. Weak control systems also deny a company the opportunity to redirect resources to the most promising ideas or to find creative ways to combine ideas.
    It takes discipline to launch new ventures.
    Yes, there should be a discipline around managing ideas in the first mile. But it needs to be a different discipline from the mistake-minimizing systems that govern the core business.
    Consider the discipline that venture capitalists impose on their investments. Venture capitalists are actively involved in the companies in which they invest--typically, a VC will sit on the company’s board and interact with management on a regular basis. If a decision needs to be made, the board will typically assemble in 24 hours. Venture capitalists carefully manage the funding process to focus entrepreneurs on the most critical issues early--tying future fund-raising rounds to achieving key milestones. It is a very different approach to funding than the typical annual budgeting cycle inside most companies. 
    GET ENOUGH DATA SO THAT YOU ARE 70% CONFIDENT IN YOUR DECISION, THEN TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
    Active stakeholder involvement, a scarcity mindset when it comes to available funds, and quick decision-making often ensure that VC-backed startups rarely get lost in the fog of innovation.
    The military, too, faces the urgent need to make decisions when information isn’t clear. One doctrine taught to Marines is the so-called 70% rule. During the fog of war, the goal is to get enough data so that you are 70% confident in your decision, and then trust your instincts. If you have less data, you are making a close-to-random decision. If you wait until the data are perfect, the chance to make a critical decision has probably passed you by.
    Follow these four principles for encouraging experimentation.
    The uncertainty that characterizes the first mile of innovation requires an approach that encourages experimentation. Such an approach has four primary principles:
    • Prioritize taking action over endless studying. That means viewing investments as strategic options that provide the right, but not the obligation, to invest more in the future. This way, action happens in steps rather than as “all or nothing” commitments.
    • Review data from your venture frequently. Focus less on progress against goals that might change and more on learning--consider anticipated and unanticipated lessons. Let both quantitative and qualitative data inform decision-making.
    • Diversify your team. Discussion and decision should not involve “business as usual” people and processes. For instance, when former Procter & Gamble chief technology officer Bruce Brown led R&D meetings, he would stop when it was time to review disruptive innovations to get a more diverse group of people into the room, including engineers, designers, marketers, and even customers--people who are typically alien to such gatherings.
     Take part in the experiment. Don’t just passively review details and data. The best executives will actively participate in the experiments and market tests whenever possible.
    Practiced together, these principles should help you support the creation of breakthrough ideas.
    Know whether you’re encouraging experiments or minimizing mistakes.
    It’s useful to know what your goals are in terms of timing. Consider this study: In late 2010, three academics published a paper contrasting the impact of incentives on two institutions that give grants to promising life scientists. One program, led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), features short review cycles, predefined deliverables, and tough penalties for missing milestones.
    In contrast, financial support for scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) takes a longer term focus, with a stated tolerance of early failure. Perhaps not surprisingly, HHMI scientists produce breakthrough ideas at a statistically significantly higher rate than do NIH grant recipients.
    They also had more total output--yet also have more efforts that appear to be flops. One approach minimizes failures; the other maximizes breakthroughs. Is the HHMI system better than the NIH one? It’s a trick question--the answer depends on the strategic intent.
    Experiment-encouraging systems aren’t necessarily better than mistake-minimizing ones. You just need to know what you’re after. Companies should have both systems running in parallel. Mistake-minimizing systems help to maximize resource efficiency in the core business; experiment-encouraging ones help to maximize learning in new businesses. But that’s exactly what you need to make it through the early-stage fog.

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    Designing Developmentally Appropriate Writing Assignments




    Often the articles highlighted in The Teaching Professor newsletter are examples of pedagogical scholarship that could beneficially be done in many fields. That is the case with this piece on developing writing assignments, but it also contains content useful to any faculty member who uses writing assignments as a major method of assessing student learning in a course.
    The five authors describe the goals and offer illustrations of writing assignments developmentally appropriate in beginning, intermediate, and advanced psychology courses. Their justification makes sense in any discipline. “If the psychology curriculum is developmentally structured to progress from introductory to advanced courses to foster student learning …, it is reasonable to argue that they may benefit from writing assignments that match this gradual increase in complexity.” (p. 88) Most faculty do use assignments that reflect the level of the course but not with the thoughtful planning and care illustrated by the assignments described in this article.
    For beginning psychology courses, they recommend “writing assignments that are brief in length [five pages or fewer, they note elsewhere], assigned frequently, and focused on assessing students’ reflections and reactions to class reading and discussions.” (p. 89) In those papers students offer opinions with at least some evidence to support them. They should start using the language of the discipline, but more important is the application of psychological concepts to daily life. Accepted disciplinary style guidelines (in this case APA style) should not be required in these papers. The example discussed at length in the article is an analytical essay students write about an advertisement that involves race, class, gender, or sexuality. In the paper they explore the psychological consequences of the images in the ad.
    In intermediate courses, writing should “encourage significant personal engagement with the material, so that students synthesize ideas for a subdiscipline while also trying to express original ideas within its framework of reference.” (p. 89) For psychology courses at this level they recommend assignments that encourage reflection, but now it is reflection focused specifically on a question or issue related to the content area of the course. At this level students should be expected to write using more disciplinary language and theory. They should also be writing with some understanding of methodology. These papers should be between five and 10 pages and correctly formatted in APA style. The example, from an abnormal psychology course, is a 10-page paper on a disorder that interests the student and is taken from a list of possibilities provided in the syllabus. Students work on these papers in groups.
    In advanced courses, writing assignments should focus on and continue developing the higher-order thinking skills of analysis and synthesis. Students should be able to offer critiques. The assignments should move students in the direction of being able to produce knowledge as opposed to simply consuming it. The recommended length for these papers is between 15 and 25 pages, and students should (with teacher input) be able to generate their own topics. The most typical examples here are traditional research papers and honors theses.
    Of interest to instructors teaching any subject is content in the article that explores and illustrates the development of learning objectives for writing assignments. The authors note that “counter to what most students probably believe, it is not easy to design effective assignments. The development of meaningful and measurable learning objectives is challenging.” (p. 95) And because it is, many instructors avoid doing so, or they design the assignment first and generate learning outcomes after the fact or only when they are asked for them. Starting with the learning objectives—what it is students should know and be able to do—results in better designed assignments and makes grading easier and more objective. The article contains examples of learning objectives that pertain to the intermediate assignment example and samples of grading rubrics used to assess the assignments. They illustrate the value of being able to clearly connect assignments, goals, and grading criteria.
    The intermediate assignment example, as noted above, involves students writing collectively in groups of three but with significant parts of the paper prepared individually. As a group they collaboratively write the first two sections of the paper (the introduction and a three-page description of the disorder that is the focus of the paper). The third, fourth, and fifth parts of the paper (their synthesis of information from the textbook and two peer-reviewed journal articles, the conclusion, and their reference page), each student prepares individually. Seventy-five percent of the points on the paper are based on this individual work. The authors believe this enables students to benefit from peer collaboration without experiencing the disadvantages often associated with group grades.
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    श्रद्धांजलि हुल्लड़ मुरादाबादी 

    ओह! हुल्लड़ जी गए।
    सहज हास्य के ऐसे रचनाकार जल्दी जन्म नहीं लेते।
    मैंने उनके साथ कम से कम हज़ार कविसम्मेलनों में तो भाग लिया ही होगा। यादें रह रह कर घुमड़ रही हैं। आंखें नम हैं। देशभर के अनेक शहरों-कस्बों और बैंकाक, नेपाल, हांगकांग की यात्राओं के अनंत संस्मरण हैं मेरे पास। कल से स्मृतियों का चलचित्र जारी है।
    चित्र न होते तो भरोसा मुझे भी नहीं होता कि मैंने 'हज्जाम की हजामत'के रचनाकार की तसल्लीबक्श हजामत की थी एक बार।
    छायाकार मीनाक्षी पायल से मुझे कुछ चित्र मिले हैं। ये सिर्फ़ फोटो शूट नहीं है दोस्तो। दोस्ती की अनन्यता है। मैं उन्हें किसी कविसम्मेलन के लिए तैयार कर रहा था। उनके बहाने अपना एक छिपा हुआ कौशल दिखा रहा हूं। वैसे साहस उनका था कि एक अनाड़ी से ब्लेड फिरवा लिया।
    यादों के आफ्टरशेव कोलोन सा एक शेर है उनका--
    मैयत पे मेरी आके
    कुछ लोग ये कहेंगे
    सचमुच मरा है हुल्लड़
    या ये भी चुटकुला है!
    काश! चुटकुला ही होता।
    उन्होंने मृत्यु से संबंधित अभिव्यक्तियां अनेक तरह से की हैं। काका जी के दिवंगत होने पर उन्होंने काका के ही अंदाज़ में एक कुंडलिया रची थी--
    गए शरद, परसाई जी, अब काका की मौत,
    अरी मौत क्यों हो गई, हास्य-व्यंग्य की सौत?
    हास्य-व्यंग्य की सौत कि तुझको रहम न आया,
    इतनी जल्दी इन तीनों का विकिट गिराया।
    कह 'हुल्लड़'अब मनहूसों को लेकर जाना,
    इस क्रिकेट में मेरा नंबर नहीं लगाना।
    हालांकि उन्होंने ये भी कहा--
    सबको इस रजिस्टर पर हाज़िरी लगानी है,
    मौत वाले दफ़्तर में छुट्टियां नहीं होतीं।
    बूंद को समन्दर में, जिसने पा लिया 'हुल्लड़'
    साहिलों से फिर उसकी दूरियां नहीं होतीं।
    साहित्य के साहिलों से उनकी दूरियां कभी नहीं रहेंगी।
    आज उन्हें बड़े आदर और सम्मान के साथ विदा किया गया। इस क्षति की कोई पूर्ति नहीं हो सकती।
    जो नहीं जानते, उन्हें बता दूं कि उनकी महत्वपूर्ण कृतियां हैं--
    हज्जाम की हजामत
    इतनी ऊंची मत छोडो
    क्या करेगी चांदनी
    यह अंदर की बात है
    त्रिवेणी
    हुल्लड़ का हुल्लड़
    तथाकथित भगवानों के नाम
    अच्छा है पर कभी कभी
    हुल्ल्ड़ के कहकहे
    हुल्लड़ की हरकतें
    हुल्लड़ सतसई
    हुल्लड़ हज़ारा
    मैं भी सोचूं तू भी सोच
    दमदार और दुमदार दोहे
    हुल्लड की श्रेष्ठ हास्य व्यंग रचनाएं
    उन्हें अनेक पुरस्कार और सम्मान मिले, जैसे--
    कलाश्री पुरस्कार
    ठिठोली पुरस्कार
    महाकवि निराला सम्मान
    अट्टहास साहित्यकार सम्मान
    काका हाथरसी सम्मान हास्य रत्न
    पुत्र नवनीत ने उनकी बहुत सेवा की। पिता काफी समय से बीमार चल रहे थे लेकिन पिछले माह उनकी तबीयत बहुत बिगड़ गई और उन्हें मुंबई के कोकिलाबेन अस्पताल में भर्ती कराया गया जहां से उन्होंने अंतिम विदाई ली।
    वह 72 वर्ष के थे। भाभी कृष्णा चड्ढा. प्रिय नवनीत, सोनिया और मनीषा और पूरे परिवार के दुख में मेरी पूरी भागीदारी है। मन मुंबई में है। जल्दी आता हूं नवनीत। सबको धीर बंधाना।
    उन्हें मेरी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि।
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
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    Is Your Company Doing Training Wrong?

    With the better part of two decades of training and development under my belt, I've learned a few things about it. For instance, I know that:

    1. The goal of training should be new skills or behavior modification; if it's about information it's called teaching.
    2. Typically, the most effective training is also fun.
    3. The credibility, demeanor, and presence of a trainer matters. A lot.
    4. Great training provides behaviors and skills and confirms that people can translate those things into action.
    5. Training, by itself--without reinforcement and follow-up--is nearly worthless.
    6. Most companies don't understand #5.
    Training is not an event, it is a process. The training session is the beginning of that process. Here's why.
    Imagine visiting a new city. You need to find a restaurant where you and a friend will reconnect. You ask the hotel clerk for directions and he tells you how to get there, turn by turn. You understood everything he said, and could visualize each step. But could you actually get to the restaurant?
    Now imagine that the desk clerk asked you to write each step down. Would that help? Now imagine that, after you wrote everything down, the clerk asked you to repeat it all back. How’s your confidence level now?
    All this stuff is covered in detail in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels, which recognizes that there are differences between understanding something, being able to apply it, and then being able to act on it.
    When companies ask for “training,” what they often mean is, “Get everyone in a room and tell them what they need to know.” That’s unfortunate because this only sets people up to fail. It’s giving them directions, onceand quickly, asking them if they have any questions about a process they have yet to walk through, and then setting them free.
    Effective training, on the other hand, recognizes that that classroom time is just the beginning. It can serve as a foundation, and it allows you to say things like, “Remember when we talked about . . .” but it really is just the start.
    The entire process should include these five steps:
    1. Explanation and/or exhibition
    2. Confirmation through questions
    3. Demonstration of ability
    4. Lather, rinse, repeat (as necessary)
    5. Follow-through
    That last step, Follow-through, could include objective measurements (KPIs) that prove ability or compliance, or it could be old fashioned observation. Either way, it shouldn’t be skipped because new behaviors typically require old behaviors to change, and that doesn’t happen quickly, easily, or automatically.
    I applaud any company for recognizing the value of training, but all involved must also understand that it’s is a multi-step process. I don’t recommend training without a commitment to all five steps for the same reason I don’t recommend merely telling someone how to perform an appendectomy. First you learn, then you practice, then you get it.

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    Global Nomads: Key Players for Global Growth



    Statistics show that companies are becoming more selective about whom they send abroad and where they send them. At the same time, more international companies are opting for shorter assignments. 

    Executives posted abroad with their families are becoming a relic of the past due to the high cost of such moves. And although most expat workers fall between the ages of 30 and 50, that age group is declining as a percentage of the total as younger staff members are increasingly sent abroad.

    These are some of the findings presented in the "Global Thinking" study by IESE's International Research Center on Organizations (IRCO), in collaboration with ERES Relocation Services in Spain. The report was written by IESE professor José Ramón Pin and researcher Pilar García Lombardía.

    As for where expat workers go, the study notes that the United States, China and the United Kingdom are the world's top expat destinations. These three countries together account for 44 percent of overseas assignments.

    Meanwhile, Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Spain are all emerging as important destinations for globalization. Looking forward, China, India and Brazil are identified as presenting particular challenges for human resources (HR) departments.

    Four Types of "Expatriate-able" TalentWith all these changes afoot in the global context, the authors note that HR departments should become strategic partners of senior management to best identify "expatriate-able" talent in their organization. The types of workers to send overseas may be divided into four categories in order to help think strategically about their careers. (See table below.) 

    1. Ready and Willing: Self-Designed Careers. To a large extent this category corresponds to "global nomads": people with an international lifestyle who see mobility as a way to satisfy both personal and professional goals in their lives. This emerging group of workers is key for HR to incorporate into strategic planning.

    Global nomads tend to be young and flexible, willing to accept posts that older colleagues might reject -- or accept only under highly beneficial, highly compensated terms. Global nomads might hail from any country, although in recent years the percentage coming from China and India has grown substantially.

    Global nomads view their career as a never-ending string of international opportunities, so motivating and retaining them is not easy. In order to increase loyalty to their current employer, traditional economic incentives are not the best way to go. They respond better to new challenges to develop their skills and a career path with the promise of various international assignments with varying responsibilities.

    The study also finds that global nomads move into the other categories of workers in the table, becoming more valuable to the company along the way. Because global nomads can become tomorrow's strategic business leaders, retaining them can help a company meet its needs anywhere in the world and support its global growth.




    2. High-Potential, Emerging Talent. This group is made up of potential future leaders who are interested in acquiring international experience. In many cases, they come from the "global nomads" group and may end up becoming strategic leaders in a few years, thanks to their commitment to their company's culture and mission.

    3. Technical Experts With Experience. These are people with expertise and technical skills suited to meet specific needs of the company. They are specialists able to solve problems or carry out specific projects anywhere in the world. When they emerge from the "global nomads" group, a competitive advantage is clear: unlike most technical experts, they are already accustomed to working abroad.

    4. Strategic Business Leaders. This group consists of experienced, high-performing executives with a strong sense of corporate mission. They are highly valuable to the company, especially if they have developed their career in-house, as one of their most important jobs is to spread the company's culture and mission around the world. One of the main goals of a global talent-management strategy is to establish policies that ensure the company has enough of these strategic leaders.


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    World's Most Powerful Countries: Where Do India Stands?



    BANGALORE: Every country in the world strives towards development mainly to get the powerful status. Economy, technology, military capability, foreign affairs, population, land area are among the factors that make any country one of the most powerful countries. As per National Power Index, read on to know the world’s most powerful countries in 2014.

    10. Italy:

    A unitary parliamentary republic in Southern Europe, Italy is not only famous for its culture, traditions and cuisines, but is also one of the most powerful countries in the world.
    It is one of the most developed nations in the world with the fifth largest economy by nominal GDP. Italy is a member of different groups and organizations including NATO, G7, G8 and the World Trade Organization.

    This European nation is ranked as the 9th largest economy in the world and the 10th country in terms of spending the highest military expenditure.

    9. Canada:

    A North America nation, Canada is the ninth most powerful nation in the world. Its advance economy is one of the world’s largest and relies largely upon its natural resources and international trade. Because of a large-scale immigration from many countries, it is one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations.

    Canada is second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the world's longest land border shared by any two countries. And the relation between these two countries is quite friendly and good.

    In this nation, $28,194 is an average household disposable income that is an income of 20 percent higher strata of the society earn five times as much as the 20 percent lower strata. Canada is also one of the fastest growing nations in the world.

    8. India:

    A country with rich culture and history, India is among the most powerful countries in the world. It has the third largest army in the world and one of the most powerful nations with nuclear power.
    With 1.2 billion populations, India is the second most populous nation in the world and is one of the fastest developing nation and IT hub of the world.

    The survey of 3,200 business leaders in 44 countries found optimism in the Indian economy. Though high inflation and strict regulations on foreign investment and ownership remain major issues, still the Indian economy is expected to grow by 7.8 percent per annum on average by 2017-18.

    In India, it is unfortunate that social problem like poverty, terrorism and corruption hindered the growth of the country.

    7. Germany:

    One of the major political and economic power houses of the European continent, Germany is the seventh most powerful nation in the world.  It is also one of the world’s most populous countries.

    Germany is definitely one of those countries with the largest economy by nominal GDP. In spite of being destroyed after World War, still achieved great success.

     It is known as one of the most powerful countries for its strong economy. It is also ranked as the 2nd largest exporter and the 3rd largest importer in the world.

    It is also a country that houses maximum billionaires. On an average, the German billionaires are worth $4 billion each. Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf are the three German cities with the maximum number of ultra-rich.

    6. Japan:

    “The Land of the Rising Sun”, Japan, with a fast growing economy emerges as one of the most powerful nations. It has a major economic power and is actually one of the world’s largest exporter and importer.

    It is one such nation that spends whooping sum in defense. In this country, maintaining a military establishment is mainly to achieve national security.

    The country’s defense budget has risen from 0.8 percent to 4.68 trillion yen ($51.7 billion). Although its economy was almost destroyed after the Cold War and World War II, Japan still emerges as the world’s third largest economy after USA and China.

    The Japanese industrial sector is the main reasons behind this growth of this country. It is the home to some of the most advanced automobile companies in the world.

    5. United Kingdom:

    The Land of kings and queens, the United Kingdom rounds off at the fifth spot on the list. This nation has the world's sixth largest economy by nominal GDP and eighth largest by purchasing power parity.
    It was the world's first industrialized country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power with significant economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence all over the globe.

     It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks from fourth to sixth (depending on the source) in the world

    The UK is believed to be a hardworking country that has 70 percent of employees having a paid job. They work for 1,625 hours yearly.

    4. France:

    A Western European nation, France is a major power house in Europe since the Late Middle Ages. With its significant cultural, economic, military, and political influence in Europe and around the world, France remains a powerful country.
    This country has the world's fifth-largest military budget, third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and second-largest diplomatic corps.

    Mainly because of its overseas regions and territories throughout the globe, France has the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. It is a developed country with the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest by purchasing power parity.

    In France, its citizens enjoy a high standard of living, and as such perform well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, civil liberties, and human development.

    3. Russia:

    A Northern Eurasian country, Russia is among the most powerful nation since its allied victory in World War II. Its economy comes up as the eighth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest by purchasing power parity in 2014.

    The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

     Russia is a powerful nation with a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

    2. China:

    Most populous country in the world, China has become one of the world's fastest-growing major economies and most importantly the second most powerful country in the world.

    Until 2013 updates, it is the world's second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity, and is also the world's largest exporter and importer of goods. This nation is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defense budget.

    China is also a member of many formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BCIM and the G-20. Within Asia, China is a regional power and has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of commentators.

    1. United States:

    United States was and remains, the most powerful Country in the world. Since the end of World War II, the economy has been witnessing a steady growth, low unemployment and inflation with great advancements in the technology segment.
    United States has a market-oriented economy with private individuals and business firms make the most of the decisions.

    It is also defined as a nation with systemic power within every continent, including a comprehensive global military footprint, a top-tier technological economy, massive diplomatic influence and huge cultural strength.


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    Can Creativity Be Learned?


    Prevailing theories on creativity focus on methodology, or amount of practice. But new studies suggest artistic talent may be more hard-wired than we thought.



    Dr. Frankenstein at work in his laboratory (Wikimedia Commons)


    At 2 a.m. on June 16, 1816, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin awoke with a fright.
    Mary was 18 years old and spending her summer at the Villa Diodati at Lake Geneva with her stepsister Claire Clairmont and the writers Lord Byron and John William Polidori. Her future husband, Percy Shelley, was staying nearby. They had intended to spend the summer swimming and sunbathing, but a year earlier, Mount Tambora, a massive volcano in Indonesia, had erupted, dispersing nearly 1.5 million metric tons of dust into the atmosphere, blocking the sun, and sharply decreasing temperatures worldwide. 

    It had such devastating effects on global weather patterns that 1816 came to be known as “The Year Without a Summer.”
Although the inclement weather foiled the group’s outdoor plans, the four of them contented themselves with indoor activities and took to reading scary stories, most notably from Fantasmagoriana, a French anthology of German ghost stories.

    “It proved a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house,” Mary Shelley wrote, in her introduction to the 1831 edition ofFrankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus. “But,” she added, “Some volumes of ghost stories, translated from the German into French, fell into our hands.” On the suggestion of Lord Byron a few days later, the four of them decided to try their hand at writing their own scary stories.

    Throughout the summer, while trying to write her tale, Shelley spent many evenings listening to Lord Byron and Percy Shelley discussing the spine-tingling findings of Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandfather). The elder Darwin had been experimenting with galvanism, and had shown that with the right use of electrical currents, a frog’s legs could be contracted at will. Rumors spread that electricity, which was widely not understood in 1816 (it wouldn’t be until 1882 that Thomas Edison harnessed electricity to create the first light bulb), could even be used to control and potentially reanimate humans.

    With all the ghost stories and discussions of electrical reanimation swirling in her mind, Mary awoke on the 16th of June having had a nightmare, later writing, “I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.”

    It was a perfect storm of events: Shelley had lots of time to write due to the bad weather, she had inspiration from Fantasmagoriana and the talk of Erasmus Darwin’s electrical experiments, and she had great writers—Lord Byron and Percy (who she married in 1816)—by her side to bounce ideas off of. Two years later, Shelley 

    published Frankenstein,launching the genre of science fiction. She was 20. As far as how to best access one’s creativity, Shelley appears to be a case study.

    Shelley didn’t have much practice writing before that. So the fact that her masterpiece came so early in her life would imply that her skill was not something learned but an attribute she had always possessed. By this example, it would seem that you’re either creative or you’re not.

    As Nobel-prize-winning author Doris Lessing noted on creativity when she was 89, “Don't imagine you'll have it forever. Use it while you've got it because it'll go; it's sliding away like water down a plug hole.”

    But Paul Cézanne, who didn’t complete his famous “Les Grandes Baigneuses” until age 66, would beg to differ. So too would Raymond Chandler, who didn’t begin writing seriously until 44. Not to mention Toyo Shibata, who had her first poetry collection published (to best-selling results) at the age of 99.

    In Old Masters and Young Geniuses, David Galenson, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, proposed one of the most compelling theories on creativity of the modern age, a theory that explains the age discrepancy in successful creatives. He found that an artist’s success and how old she is when she attains it is a function not of the artist’s skill but of methodology.
    There are, according to Galenson, two types of artists. There are “experimental artists,” who create their masterpieces at much older ages. Epitomized by Cézanne, the experimentalists “have ambitious but imprecise aesthetic goals, for they aim to present accurate accounts of the world as they see and experience it.” They “often see their work as unfinished” and thus tend not to create their masterpieces until much older.

    Then there are the “conceptual artists.” Pablo Picasso, who launched the Cubism movement with “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon” as a 25-year-old, is the archetype. The purpose of these conceptual artists “can usually be stated precisely in advance of its production.” They tend to make many drafts of a single work—a painting, a novel—in their youth with a singular vision in mind. Because of this specific vision early on, successful conceptual artists are able to execute their chef d’oeuvres when they are so young that the rest of us are usually finishing up school or getting our first jobs.

    But another widespread theory of creativity seems to push up against Galenson’s research, claiming that age or method doesn’t matter as much as the amount of time one practices a creative task (e.g. musicianship, writing). Popularly outlined in Malcolm 

    Gladwell’s Outliers, the idea is that the most notable creative individuals practice for at least 10,000 hours before becoming experts. That’s to say, creativity can be learned, but unless you are exclusively practicing your artistic skill full-time, eight hours a day, five days a week, for at least five years, you won’t become a successful artist.

    Obviously if one looks at Shelley (who had not written a single short story until she was 18), or F. Scott Fitzgerald (whose time at Princeton and in the Army meant he couldn’t write full-time until going home to complete This Side of Paradise at 23) or Jonathan Safran Foer (who wrote Everything is Illuminatedpart-time while an undergraduate, also at Princeton), it is clear that the 10,000-hour rule is not ironclad.

    In an “Ask Me Anything” interview hosted by Reddit, Gladwell clarified his theory saying, “Practice isn't a sufficient condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I'll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.” Yet his root idea remains the same: Even if one has talent, it must be cultivated.

    With these widely accepted theories of creativity in mind, it is rather jarring to see two brand studies, both of which suggest that creativity is closely linked with inherent neurological and personality traits rather than methodology or practice. The implication is that creativity can be learned, but only to a certain extent. To truly be an artistic great, the makeup of your brain is more important than the number of hours spent in your atelier.
    The first study, published in a recent issue of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, found that highly creative individuals have more activity in the part of the brain containing the ability to make original associations, to blend information from various scenarios and experiences (known as “conceptual integration”), and to understand complex metaphors and comparisons.

    Wenfu Li, a professor in the school of psychology at Southwest University, and a group of researchers first administered the Williams Scale creativity aptitude test to 246 participants. (Designed by Frank Williams in 1993, the Williams Scale looks at an individual’s curiosity, imagination, complexity of ideas, and risk-taking behaviors in order to assess the participant’s level of creativity.) What they found is that compared to those who score low on creativity, the participants who scored highest tended to have a greater volume of grey matter in the “right posterior middle temporal gyrus” (pMTG), an area of the brain related to the aforementioned creative traits.

    Naturally, a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma arises: Is there a high volume of grey matter in the pMTG of creative people’s brains because they were born with it and are therefore creative or have they accumulated it by doing creative things?

    Scientists know that creativity can be lostBut can it be learned?

    Attempting to answer this question, Li’s team also looked at personality traits that contribute to creativity and found that “openness to experience” is by far the most salient characteristic, as it matched up with both high grey matter in the pMTG and with high creativity as tested by the Williams Scale.

    Although it may sound vague, the term “openness to experience” is in fact one of the widely recognized “Big Five Personality Traits,” a concept theorized by Paul T. Costa, Jr., and Robert R McCrae in The Revised NEO Personality Inventory, along with conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Someone who has high “openness” has an active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity. The trait also closely correlates with intelligence as measured by IQ, according to a study in Learning and Individual Differences.

    Most importantly though, “openness to experience” is generally a trait one can willfully improve. Trying new foods, learning foreign languages, meeting new people, giving the Times’ Sunday crossword a go, pondering complex issues and varying viewpoints are all ways one can work to increase their “openness.”

    It seems then from this study that creativity, although deeply affected by one’s neurology, can at least be partially learned and improved upon vis-à-vis openness to experience. Yet the other new study is not so optimistic.

    Similar to Gladwell’s clarification that practice is necessary but not sufficient for creative success, Frederick Travis, a researcher at Maharishi University, said,“Some people put in long hours and do not excel.” He added, “It's a simple fact that some people stand out, and we're trying to tease out why. We hypothesized that something must be different about the way their brains work, and that's what we're finding.”

    Along with coauthor Yvonne Lagrosen, Travis published a study in the June 2014 edition of Creativity Research Journal, which found that people who have brains that process information faster can also make more diverse connections and original associations, a hallmark of creativity. Because there’s not an obviously confounding relationship between information processing speed and creativity as there is in Li’s study, Travis and Lagrosen seem to have shown that creativity—or at least the ability to quickly condense disparate experiences and memories into original ideas—is based on the brain’s processing speed.
    But neural processing speed, according to the study, is not something that can willfully be improved upon.  

    Both of the neurological studies find that creativity is linked to the ability to quickly process and reorganize varied information. What we can discern from this is that the most creative individuals have a variety of experiences from which to draw (as Shelley did between her upbringing in intellectual circles, the ghost stories she read, and the discussions of galvanism she heard). The studies also find that one must be open to new ideas as well in order to transform these experiences into an original product.

    If someone is not inherently open to new experiences, he can make an effort to try that new Thai restaurant or read a book from a different genre than his favorite. He can actively build his tolerance to new ideas. Simply living a life of complexity and of tolerance can, according to the Li study, aid creativity.

    Additionally, those with a dearth of experience can also tap into their subconscious to discover “new” experiences. In Robin MacKenzie’s book, The Unconscious in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, the senior lecturer in French at the University of Swansea explores the theme of the unconscious in Proust’s touchstone novel. He finds that dreams and remembered language are key sites of unconscious brain activity, which afford one the ability to build memories and thoughts even while sleeping. The idea is a neurological twist on Gladwell’s 10,000-hour-rule, that the ceaselessly working mind is in fact able to practice creativity by gaining “new” experiences even as it sleeps.

    Before drafting Frankenstein Mary Shelley had already undergone a great deal of tragedy and had the life experience of a woman twice her age. Her mother died when she was 11. Her prematurely born baby died when she was 17. She married Percy at 19 after his former wife, Harriet, killed herself. Then, two years later, Shelley moved to England with him where her second and third children also perished before she gave birth to them.

    Shelley had both a bundle of deeply affecting experiences and openness to new ideas (she internalized the ghost stories and understood how they might relate to the contemporary science of Erasmus Darwin). Yet, perhaps most importantly, she also had the ability to bring together all of these experiences together into a tight, hauntingly original story.

    We can’t know the details of her neurology, obviously, but what is clear is that she had time (not 10,000 hours, but time nonetheless), she had a surprising amount of experience for her age, she had raw talent, and she was open to new ideas.

    It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes a great artist creative. Like Victor Frankenstein, who raided charnel houses and graveyards to get human remains for his creation, there are almost too many parts that go into creating something great. And although Frankenstein’s monster didn’t end up too happily, his true creator, Shelley, shows that when experience, openness, and the right neurology come together, the final product is nothing short of incredible. It may be possible to learn creativity, but only to a certain extent, and we still don’t know how all these traits can coalesce so perfectly, so that what the greats end up with is not a demented monster, but a genius creation.

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    5 Scientifically Backed Ways to Seem More Powerful




    Mail clerk? Administrative assistant? Make the honchos look at you in a whole new light. Here’s how social scientists say you can make people think you’re more powerful.
    Scientists who study the effects of these hormonal changes say they’re associated with status, leadership and dominance — and all you have to do is take up more space.Take up lots of space. MIT researcher Andy Yap says the way we stand and sit can give both those around us as well as ourselves the sense that we’re powerful. 
    Specifically, what Yap calls “expansive poses,” where people adopt a wide stance when standing, put their hands on their hips instead of at their sides and stretch out their arms and legs when seated. “High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power,” Yap writes. “That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications.”
    Tap into the “red sneaker effect.” This is why Mark Zuckerberg can get away with wearing a hoodie. Researchers from Harvard Business School studied how sometimes looking out of place can have a positive effect. “Under certain conditions, nonconforming behaviors can be more beneficial than efforts to conform and can signal higher status and competence to others,” they write. (They give the example of someone wearing a pair of red sneakers in a professional setting as an example.) Since most of us try to conform to social norms, we tend to think that people who deliberately don’t do so because they have enough social status that they don’t have to care what the rest of us think.
    Use big-picture language. Yes, it pays to be detail-oriented, but when you communicate, think in terms of broader ideas, because it makes people think you’re more powerful. Researchers discovered that when people use abstract languages in phrases, sentences and short paragraphs, experiment subjects were more likely to perceive of them as powerful than when they used more concrete verbiage.
    Call the shots on eye contact. Social scientists observe that people with lower status tend to make eye contact more than those with higher status — probably because the higher-status person doesn’t need to seek approval or isn’t as concerned with the other person’s response. More powerful people also aren’t afraid to break eye contact, according to Audrey Nelson, writing in Psychology Today.
    “Investigators found that people who are more dominant break a greater number of mutual gazes than those who are more submissive or in the power-down position,” she says. Just as Andy Yap finds with our bodies, the amount of space a person’s gaze takes up also telegraphs how high they are on the social or corporate food chain.
    Stand at the back of the elevator. In an Australian study, researcher Rebekah Rousi, a PhD candidate at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, observed people’s interactions in an office complex elevator. “As a result of 30 elevator journeys (15 in each building) a clear social order could be seen regarding where people positioned themselves inside the elevators.” She found that senior male staffers, who she suggests have a greater relative amount of power, tended to cluster along the back wall of the elevator.

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    80 terabytes of archived web crawl data available for research


    petaboxInternet Archive crawls and saves web pages and makes them available for viewing through the Wayback Machine because we believe in the importance of archiving digital artifacts for future generations to learn from.  In the process, of course, we accumulate a lot of data.
    We are interested in exploring how others might be able to interact with or learn from this content if we make it available in bulk.  To that end, we would like to experiment with offering access to one of our crawls from 2011 with about 80 terabytes of  WARC  files containing captures of about 2.7 billion URIs.  The files contain text content and any media that we were able to capture, including images, flash, videos, etc.
    What’s in the data set:
    • Crawl start date: 09 March, 2011
    • Crawl end date: 23 December, 2011
    • Number of captures: 2,713,676,341
    • Number of unique URLs: 2,273,840,159
    • Number of hosts: 29,032,069
    The seed list for this crawl was a list of Alexa’s top 1 million web sites, retrieved close to the crawl start date.  We used Heritrix (3.1.1-SNAPSHOT) crawler software and respected robots.txt directives.  The scope of the crawl was not limited except for a few manually excluded sites.  However this was a somewhat experimental crawl for us, as we were using newly minted software to feed URLs to the crawlers, and we know there were some operational issues with it. 
     For example, in many cases we may not have crawled all of the embedded and linked objects in a page since the URLs for these resources were added into queues that quickly grew bigger than the intended size of the crawl (and therefore we never got to them).  We also included repeated crawls of some Argentinian government sites, so looking at results by country will be somewhat skewed.  We have made many changes to how we do these wide crawls since this particular example, but we wanted to make the data available “warts and all” for people to experiment with.  We have also done some further analysis of the content.
    Hosts Crawled pie chart
    If you would like access to this set of crawl data, please contact us at info at archive dot org and let us know who you are and what you’re hoping to do with it.  We may not be able to say “yes” to all requests, since we’re just figuring out whether this is a good idea, but everyone will be considered.

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