Execution

  • Is Your Team Too Smart to Win?

    Argument crop_OKWe know that smart people can come together in projects and produce exceptional work. What is less discussed is that smart individuals can — and do — come together as teams only to generate dysfunction and sub-par results.

    Back in the 1970s and 80s, British management researcher Meredith Belbin discovered unexpectedly poor results with teams formed of people who had sharp, analytical minds and high mental ability. He dubbed these teams of smart people “Apollo teams,” as his research coincided with the American lunar expeditions.

    In case after case of team-based assignments, he found that Apollo teams often finished near the bottom, compared to teams that possessed less individual and collective intellectual firepower.

  • Productivity Secrets_lowres

    “Lean Back” to Win? – Productivity and Competitive Advantage in the New Normal

    Americans now work 8.5 hours more per week than they did in 1979. Office workers spend more than a quarter of each day writing and responding to e-mails. And nearly one-third of working adults get six hours or less of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    This bias to overwork, however, is not the route to innovation, optimal decision making or peak performance. Instead of “leaning in,” research on creativity and productivity tells us to “lean back” for competitive advantage.

    Finally, there’s an evidence-based case for “less being more.”

    Five Ways to “Lean Back” for Success

    1. Observe the 90-Minute Rule. Extensive research on peak performers ranging from athletes to musicians shows that working in 90-minute intervals maximizes productivity. This is because we move from a state of alertness progressively into fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.
    2. Include a “Do Nothing” Option. When making decisions , especially after lengthy deliberation and discussion, be sure to include a “Do Nothing” option. Adding this option to choices has been shown to correct the tendency towards a bias to action and doing more.
    3. Go for a Walk. Stanford researchers found that walking increases creativity substantially and with lingering post-activity effects. And it does not matter whether walking is indoors on a treadmill or outdoors.
    4. Take a Nap. A 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as well as eight hours of sleep in research conducted at the University of California, Riverside. In another study, when air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap, they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction speed.
    5. Get More Sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep is the single strongest predictor of job burnout. Increased sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to significantly increase physical and mental performance.

    Working Smart in the New Normal

    “Leaning back” involves a radical re-thinking of how to elevate individual, team and organizational performance in our 24/7 business world. The smart money is on strategic investment of time and energy. Leaders need to set a tone at the top with their own values and actions in promoting a culture of high-value time utilization and regular personal renewal.

  • Leader Imperative #5. The New Face of Risk Management: Are You Prepared?

    Meeting small_iStock_000009877513_OK“Mastering the New Normal” – A Continuing Series

    “A company’s ability to respond to an unplanned event, good or bad, is a prime indicator of its ability to compete.”
    – Bill Gates

    Our New Normal world involves a global business environment, dynamic markets and evolving strategic, technological and operational risks. Though different organizations have different priorities and issues, what are the key risks keeping leaders awake at night in 2014? A survey of almost 400 C-level executives recently published in Directorship* identified these key concerns:

  • Leader Imperative #4. Is Your Reputation Game On? Fast Facts for the New Normal Marketplace

    Reputation small_30869237_OK
    “Mastering the New Normal” – A Continuing Series

    “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
    – Warren Buffett, Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway

    To achieve sustainable success in the New Normal marketplace, leaders and their organizations need reputations that are prominent, robust and blue-chip quality. Anything less can impact loyalty among customers, employees and shareholders with immediate – and often enduring – adverse consequences.

  • office-people

    Leader Imperative #3. Talent: Four Best Practices for Sustainable Success

    “Mastering the New Normal” – A Continuing Series

    “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people.”
    – Jack Welch, Former CEO, General Electric

    The best leaders make a priority of talent grooming in good times and bad because the alternatives- just-in-time recruitment or premature promotion- are too risky.

    They proactively guard against Talent Risks that can compromise top- and bottom-line performance.