7 Things Successful People Know About Decision Making

After a few reps at the gym your muscles naturally start to fatigue. It’s a sign that you’re working and your muscles are responding. In the same way that your muscles eventually give out during a workout, your mental muscle starts to fatigue throughout the day, hampering your ability to care, make choices, stay motivated, weigh decisions, and ultimately take action.

Radishes and chocolate chip cookies can help us understand why.

In 1998, Roy Baumeister and colleagues asked people to sign up for what participants thought was a taste-perception experiment. The researchers formed three groups: radish eaters, chocolate-chip cookie eaters and non-eaters (control group). They asked the participants to skip one meal and arrive hungry for their scheduled appointment. When the radish and chocolate-chip cookie eaters arrived for the appointment, they could smell freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies. On the table before them they found a bowl of beautiful red radishes and a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and chocolate candies.

The radish eaters were instructed to eat two or three radishes and told they could not touch the chocolate-chip cookies or candies. The chocolate chip cookie eaters were instructed to eat two to three chocolate chip cookies and/or candies but not to touch the radishes. The non-eaters did not participate in this part of the study.

Once the participants had finished eating, the researchers asked all three groups to solve an unsolvable spatial puzzle. The subjects could abandon the task at any time.

Who quit first?

The radish eaters. The chocolate chip cookie eaters and non-eaters stuck with the task longer and for more or less the same amount of time. The early quitters, the radish eaters, reported feeling more exhausted than the other two groups.

So what do these odd food choices have to do with making a company-wide decision or considering change?

It takes significantly more self-control to avoid the temptation of mouthwatering chocolate chip cookies and candies than it does to avoid eating radishes. Resisting temptation took a bigger toll on the radish eaters. That resistance depleted the mental energy needed to tackle the puzzle and thus the radish eaters to abandon the task more quickly. On the other hand, subjects in the chocolate-chip eating and non-eating conditions depleted fewer mental resources maintaining self-control and could more easily spend additional time with the puzzle.

If resisting cookies can make your mind weary, imagine what resisting a big change in the workplace can do to you, after adding in all the other stuff you do every day. Resources like willpower, decision-making acuity and focus are depletable properties of the brain. New and unfamiliar routines and choices challenge the comfort zone of our ingrained habits. When we effect a change or resist something that we would normally not resist, we force ourselves out of our comfort zone. It requires energy and can wear you out.

Psychologists call this ego depletion or simply, mental exhaustion. It’s a state of mind where you can lose critical elements of your self-control and other mental processes that require focus and conscious effort.

So think about it in these terms. Your alarm goes off. You make a decision about whether or not you are going to press snooze. Then you decide how frequently you are going to press snooze. Then you get out of bed and make a decision about whether or not you are going to take a shower. Hopefully you make the right choice. Then you decide what you are going to wear. Then you decide if you are going to work out. Then what to eat. Then what the kids are going to eat. Then what direction you are going to drive to work. Then this and then that. By the time you get to work, you have made so many decisions already that your decision-making capabilities are already depleted. The good news is that if we know this universal truth about our brains then we can operate a bit differently.

Here are some very simple things you can do to counteract the radish effect:

  1. Routinize as much as possible: The more of a routine you have in the morning (e.g., waking up at the same time, eating the same thing for breakfast, having a system in place for prepping everything, etc.) the better off you are. When you leave options open in the morning, you are tapping into your limited well and causing depletion on tasks and things that really don’t require much thought. For that matter, if there are any tasks that can be routinized throughout the day, not just the morning, do so. Your brain will thank you when you have to focus and decide on the things that really matter.
  1. Do what you can do the night before: Before you go to sleep at night take care of the things that are easy to take care of for the next day (but can deplete you if you focus on them in the morning). Making simple choices like what you will eat for lunch tomorrow, what you will wear, or fleshing out tomorrow’s to do list will minimize the amount of energy you need for making these choices the next morning.
  1. Have a uniform: I am not suggesting wearing the same thing every day. However, I am suggesting finding a few looks that work for you and buying that look in different colors. The less time you spend agonizing over which shoe and belt works best with which pants or skirt, the more mental energy you will have when you are helping a client decide on the best avenue to take with your product line. Ever notice that Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day? Some of the most successful people may not have the most creative outfits but they certainly make up for it with their power brains.
  1. Be diligent about replenishment: We all know we need to sleep, eat well, exercise, take breaks, allow for mindfulness and relaxation. But very few of us are as disciplined about these aspects of human functioning and performance than we are about checking our emails, responding with urgency, working around the clock, constantly being on, and all the other stuff that goes hand in hand with depletion. Be as diligent about creating the space for replenishment as you are about working. Elite athletes and performers understand that they can only practice for a set amount of time before they require rest. The same is true for every human and their mind. The mind is an athlete and can produce extraordinary results if provided with the replenishment it needs.
  1. Make the most important decisions first thing in the morning: Knowing what you know now, don’t save the life altering and company-altering decisions for the end of the day. If you have an important decision to make at work or in your personal life, do it first thing in the morning. Do the difficult stuff when you are the least mentally taxed and save the easy stuff at the end of the day.
  1. Set some boundaries: According to Gloria Mark and her colleagues at the University of California-Irvine, 3 minutes is the average time we spend on a given task before we are interrupted or our focus shifts. This doesn’t bode well when faced with having to make an important decision. Thus, give yourself the necessary mental space when you have an important project or task. Set boundaries by removing distractions and creating uninterrupted time, if only for ten minutes, so you can concentrate on the task at hand.
  1. Sleep off the emotion: If you are having a strong emotional reaction (positive or negative) to something, keep the decision at bay until the storm of the emotion blows over. Although emotions are incredibly informative and provide useful information, when an important decision is made through the lens of emotion, decision-making can become skewed. Give it some thought and let it marinate over a good night’s sleep. Remember, negative emotions can skew logical thinking just as much as positive emotions can. Unless you’re an emergency room doc, you probably can give the decision 24-48 hours to marinate.

Being disciplined with these simple steps gives your mind the foundation it needs to be rock solid when it comes to decision making and tackling problems.

Growing into the Role of Manager

Not everyone is born to lead. In fact, most people don’t want to be managers — only 34% of respondents to a recent CareerBuilder survey said they aspire to leadership positions. And yet, there are new manager positions being filled every day. This means there are a lot of managers that may not actually want to be in their position. Leaving isn’t always an option, especially when you have car and house payments to make. So for those managers who need to do a lot of growing in a very short amount of time, here are a few pieces of advice.

Work Less, Facilitate More

One of the first things you’ll have to learn about being a manager is that you’re no longer in charge of doing things, but rather making sure they get done. The difference is that your role as a manager is more about assigning tasks, tracking them, and making sure your team is on track to accomplish them. This means getting out of your office and listening to what your employees are saying. This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. Most managers (52%) don’t take the feedback from employee engagement surveys.

As an employee, your value was measured by the number of things you got done, the number of tangible things produced or crossed off a list. As a manager, it’s measured by how your team performs. This means actively engaging with the people on your team. As Greg Satell (@Digitaltonto) explains, you can’t be passive when it comes to talking with your team.

“Simply saying, ‘I have an open door, come to me with any problems’ is a cop out. If you want to know what’s going on in your organization you have to go out and actively look for problems, not just wait for them to come to you.”

Because your work is defined by other people, you need to make sure your team, as a whole, is working the way you would as an employee.

Take the Effort to Develop Talent

Working off the idea of listening to your employees, new managers should also understand employees are the ones doing the work, and as such need to be developed so they can work better and produce better results. The analogy is a bit dehumanizing, but humor me: is it not worth spending the money to fix a printer that works perfectly fine aside from one little kink? You could always buy a new printer, I suppose, but that’s not really an option when it comes to perfectly fine employees, especially when the costs of replacing an employee far outstrip those of replacing an appliance.

You can hire the best, brightest employees on the face of the Earth, and you’re still going to have to develop them. With up to 90% of learning taking place on-the-job, you’re going to have to make the effort of properly training employees when they arrive on their first day, and developing them from then on out. It’s not going to be a cheap process, but investing in them is a much better use of company money than trying to find someone new.

Beware Scope Creep

Once you’ve accepted that you’re now a manager in some capacity (whether you like it or not), you’re going to have to behave like one. This means knowing what makes a project manager successful, as well as what can sink a newbie. One thing you should always keep in mind is the idea of scope creep. For a manager who’s not really sure about what a project will actually entail, this means that what they thought was a small project can turn into a much larger one as they realize what they’ll need to accomplish the goal they initially set out to conquer. This can turn projects sour quickly, and make you look incompetent as a result. Christine Marciano, a Commercial Training Consultant for Nationwide, advises using templates to outline your projects before diving into them:

“I think scope creep most often can occur when the project manager, trying to be flexible, begins to accept additions to the project without accounting for the possible need of more resources: time, money, manpower . . [templates are] effective because of the tools’ ability to help the project manager communicate with stakeholders and teammates, and also to add standardization to the mix. Folks move around regularly in our company and the consistency in the form is comforting.”

We want regularity in our process, but being a manger is anything but regular. And while you most likely may not have wanted to be one, stepping out of your comfort zone and being a manager can be one of the most reward, most satisfying experiences you can have, especially when you see your team prospering around you.

Employee Engagement: Three Ways to Manage by Motivating

Motivation is what drives us to set and attain goals, it is our desire to do things.

Motivation is fundamental to employee engagement. The goal of employee engagement is to get employees to expend discretionary effort and the best way to do that is with proper motivation. When you know how to motivate, you have the keys to being a manager with a team of engaged employees.

Motivation comes in two flavors: Intrinsic and Extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is derived from internal desires. The drive to do things that make you happy, that create meaning — that produce internal rewards that are mentally satisfying. By contrast, extrinsic motivation is what drives the desire to gain external rewards or avoid punishment. Oftentimes, the two motivations are intertwined, for instance the desire to win can be motivated by both the desire for the cash prize, (extrinsic), and the desire to feel a sense of accomplishment, (intrinsic).

Be A Super Hero Manager: Three Ways To to Motivate Employees

1. Competition

Devising a friendly competition among employees is a great way to encourage task performance and behavior. It also serves to motivate both intrinsically and extrinsically; employees are driven to win to receive the reward and for the feeling of triumph. For instance, you might assign points to the completion of certain tasks or behaviors, (submitting reports on time, filling out survey questions etc.), at the end of the designated time period, the person with the most points wins.

2.  Awards And Recognition

The problem with Employee of the Month awards is that they single out one person and disregard the contributions of others. Instead of a singular employee award, consider creating multiple awards to recognize employee efforts. The award categories and criteria should be clearly displayed so that employees understand what they are working towards and how to achieve the goal. These awards are a great way to give employees company-wide recognition which endows them with a sense of achievement and the physical reward of a certificate.

3.  Negative Reinforcement

A common misconception of negative reinforcement is that it means doing something adverse. In actuality, negative reinforcement is where you take something away, stop something or avoid an adverse outcome or stimulus (as opposed to giving something as in positive reinforcement). Negative reinforcement is intrinsically motivating because a person is compelled to perform or behave in a certain way in order to avoid or stop something from happening or because the action will result in something being removed. For instance, if an employee knows that if they complete something without mistake, they won’t have to do it again, then they are being driven by the desire to avoid the unfavorable consequence.

These are just some of the ways that managers can motivate their employees by taking advantage of their intrinsic and extrinsic drivers. Motivation is central to employee engagement and when you know how to employ the right motivation you can get the best performance out of your employees.


How To Ensure Swift And Steady Business Growth

This post is specifically about acupuncture, but I hope you’ll find some lessons and ideas which can be used in any industry to achieve business growth. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical art that is practiced for centuries. The practitioners of this art treat a broad range of psychological and physical conditions. Nowadays, a career in this field has become lucrative and flourishing. For this reason, lots of students study acupuncture and want to make a successful career in it.

For a rapid business growth in the practice, I’d suggest that you keep in mind some tips. Here are a few key factors to consider for a smooth and speedy growth in acupuncture practice…

Give Your Practice A Sheer Importance

Practice in alternative medicine requires a lot of commitment. Give it an equal importance as you would have given to your business. Instead of wasting your time in going to cafe or club, give your complete attention towards the steps necessary to get success in the practice. All the successful entrepreneurs boast a good time management. Get engaged in the leisure activities only when you have earned it. Socialization and comfort come after the work. 

Part Time Jobs Can Be Done If You Are Short Of Cash

Try to invest all your time and money into your practice as an acupuncturist. Doing any other job with practice may lead to the delay of realization of your goals in career like business growth. You can do part-time job to ensure money floatation. 

If You Want To Work In Another Practitioner’s Office, Establish Your Own Office Too

Never settle for working for another practitioner for the long term. You will end up earning considerably less than independent practitioners. Try to set up your independent office. Having your own venture will pave a way for financial success of your career. 

Get An Office As Per Your Needs

As an acupuncturist, you will need a minimum of two treatment rooms, one waiting area and a bathroom. Setup an office and be regular to it. You must not treat your personal office like going to stereotypical jobs every day. Enjoying your work is extremely important for getting success in the career. 

Having A Sound Knowledge About The Field Is A Must

You must know almost everything related to acupuncture. For this, you will need proper education. Many institutes offer programs related to the acupuncture sector. You can go for a diploma in acupuncture program for any affiliated institute to embark and progress in this sector. 

Take Marketing Decisions Smartly

Taking the marketing decisions smartly is extremely important for growth in acupuncture practice. Hold off any decision if you think it may turn up into poor marketing. Having blind hope or fear can prove hazardous for your growth as a practitioner. 

Strong Vision Is Imperative

There may arise many vicissitudes in the practice. You must remain steadfast in your vision, as it will motivate you to achieve your goal without being failed. If you get easily distracted or lack in wide vision, you must maintain monthly or daily goals as the means of elevating your purpose and conviction in the career. You must write down about you goals in acupuncture practice and should visualize them as well. Setting up specific goals is extremely important for ensuring rapid growth in acupuncture practice. 

Relish The Marketing Of Your Practice

For dedicated marketing, it is imperative for you to enjoy it. You must consider marketing inseparable from your practice. Treating and drawing patients are the parts of the process. Not taking interest in marketing will lead to lack of quality of practice. To become successful, you must learn to relish the process of marketing. 

Never Avoid Taking Risks

Taking risk is business is extreme important for a remarkable growth. Managing risk in business is a skill that an entrepreneur must boast. Playing safe will never lead to success at all. Learning from the mistakes and keep refining the knowledge about the field will develop you as a professional practitioner. 

Make An Apt Team Of Professionals

A skilled team is equally important for the constant growth of your business as an acupuncture practitioner.You cannot do everything on your own and hence you need a team that encompasses marketing coach, graphic designer, accountant, web designer, etc. All the successful practitioners need a team of skilled professionals. 

Frequent Marketing Is Mandatory

Dedicated practice can never be fruitful alone if it is not mixed with smart and frequent marketing. Marketing should remain a constant emphasize. As long as you are in business, keep your marketing goals high and think of the ways to augment your exposure. Growth in business refers to keep expanding your reach. Frequent marking will prevent you from being stagnant.

Keep the above-mentioned guidelines in mind and secure a bright and beneficial career as an acupuncture practitioner.

Picture Credit: Big Stock Images

Leading a Horse To Water: Too Much Training Within Industry

For those of you who are not familiar with TWI, a.k.a. Training Within Industry, well, have you ever seen those WWII era posters lionizing Rosie the Riveter? The collective ability of Rosie and her many colleagues to manufacture tanks and B-29’s at an astonishing rate was one of the main reasons why the Allies won the war. But Rosie and friends were not master machinists.

They were housewives and secretaries, hurriedly pressed into service. There was no time to train them to be true masters at any given machine shop trade, so instead, the people running the factories invented “TWI.”

TWI is a complex concept, but a big part of it was to break jobs down to their basic elements. This allowed previously unskilled workers to learn much faster, and quickly become a productive worker on the assembly line.

This approach was so successful that Japan modeled its post-war economic recovery on it, and just fyi, when we talk about Toyota Lean Manufacturing, this all began with TWI.

It’s unclear whether it was TWI’’s influence or just the general industrial economy that has led to it, but this break-it-down-to-simple-steps approach has migrated into much of our culture. If you look around the blogosphere or the bookosphere or the consultosphere, you will see this element of TWI in many other iterations; all sorts of non-manufacturing tasks have also been reduced to their fundamental basic steps, with the same promise of increased productivity.

The trouble is, what works in manufacturing environments doesn’t necessarily work in non-manufacturing environments. Some tasks– like, say, healing, teaching or leading– can’t be reduced to a simple series of steps, at least, not beyond bare minimum functionality.

Just one example: I spent ten years at the virtual feet of various “experts” who offered simple laid-out linear systems of how to publish a book. In the end, I found the answer was not writing the perfect query letter to an agent, nor was it “great writing,” nor was it in “getting on Oprah.” Turns out the “trick” wasn’t a trick at all; it was writing a book that people actually wanted to read, and having the guts to risk failure and rejection by putting it on sale.

I had the exact same experience in learning music, dance, and management. There is no standard system for discovering your unique capabilities and pushing them to their highest potential. Training, advice, and mentoring are certainly helpful, but in the end, if you want to “get good,” you just gotta hunker down and do it.

While the idea that someone else has broken things down for you and made it easier is very appealing, these systems actually get in the way of developing true mastery. When you work towards true mastery, these previously adopted “quick and easy” approaches often evolve into bad corner-cutting habits needing to be undone, making the process less efficient, not more. Worse, it is very easy to become overly reliant upon these external systems and lose faith in yourself.

So when it comes to achieving “excellence,” cultivating creativity, or developing maximum leadership potential, yes, many people will offer you five easy steps for leading a horse to water, but if your goal is to make him drink, that requires a reassessment of your perception of the universe and your place in it, not to mention a complete rethink of your relationship with the horse.

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#TChat Live from Ireland: The IT@Cork European Technology Summit

We’re very excited to announced that the TalentCulture #TChat Show will be live from the IT@Cork European Technology Summit in Cork, Ireland on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, from 6-7pm GMT (1-2pm ET, 10-11am PT).

This special #TChat will focus on the impact of gender diversity on technology business performance around the world.

A University of Cambridge study has observed that Ireland is fifth in the world for female economic power, ranking just behind Australia, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

In Ireland, women are in positions of seniority in a staggering number of large global tech businesses – Apple, Microsoft, PayPal and many others.

But the current state of women in technology isn’t great, especially in the U.S. For example, the leadership at all of the top tech companies is overwhelmingly male. The good news is that academic institutions are now seeing businesses and STEM-based industries focus more heavily on the gender diversity agenda.

In January of this year (2015), McKinsey released a study showing that gender diverse companies had financial performance that was 15 percent higher than the national industry median, and ethnically diverse companies had performance that was 35 percent higher than the national industry median.

Sneak Peek:

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation every week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

Thank you to all our TalentCulture sponsors and partners: Dice, Jibe, TalentWise, Hootsuite, IBM, CareerBuilder, PeopleFluent, Jobvite, Predictive Analytics World for Workforce and HRmarketer Insight. Plus, we’re big CandE supporters!

Special Live #TChat: The IT@Cork European Technology Summit in Ireland


#TChat Radio — Wed, May 6th — 6 pm GMT / 1 pm ET / 10 am PT Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we welcome our special guests from the IT@Cork European Technology Summit: David Parry-Jones, VP UKI Vmware; Caroline O’Driscoll, Tax Partner at KPMG, Vice Chair of IT@cork; and Michael Loftus, Head of Faculty of Engineering & Science at CIT.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, May 6th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, May 6th — 6:30 pm GMT / 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our very special guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community from around the globe. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why is there still such a gender gap in technology and business today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2:  How can business leaders create an inclusive culture that encourages and sustains gender diversity? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What are the primary benefits of closing the overall diversity gap? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

Also at the IT@Cork European Technology Summit, Meghan and Kevin will be moderating a Tech Diversity Panel Discussion and Meghan will be a panelist in a Digital Marketing Discussion! Join us!

Subscribe to our podcast on BlogTalkRadioStitcher or iTunes:

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Photo: Cork, Ireland

Koping With The Kool-Aid

Presumably you know what “Drinking the Kool Aid” means, but if not, let’s just say it refers to people who blindly and unquestioningly accept a given dogma or belief. For those of us who have not drunk the Kool-Aid (or are at least reasonably certain of same), there is a never ending problem in life: how to cope with those who have.

Models of How The World Works

Every workplace (as well as every institution and social group) has its own set of dogmas, that is to say, a set of beliefs that are a sort of “model” of how the world works.

Acceptance of those beliefs . . . aka drinking the Kool-Aid, or at least pretending to . . . is required for being a member of that group.

Since belonging is the primary motivation for all human behavior, wholesale allegiance to dogma is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Navigating the energy of dogma, i.e. figuring out what is true vs. what everyone thinks is true, is key to both personal advancement within a group as well as effect management of a group. It is especially important if you seek to make changes; belief in dogma is the primary impediment to growth and change, as the old one has to be pried from one’s cold dead neurons before a new one can take its place.

Many people get confused by dogma energy. Common industrial-era dogma tells us that human beings are rational creatures; if you accept that highly appealing self-congratulatory model of the mind, the failure of rational arguments to manifest change can be quite vexing. If you can’t give up your own dogmatic belief that rational arguments “ought to work,” it is easy to exhaust yourself in endlessly making them over and over again to no avail.

Managing People Immersed In The Kool-Aid

If you are seeking to make change, here are the basics of managing folks immersed in the Kool-Aid:

When it comes to managing other people, it is important to realize that most people will not respond to even the most simply stated rational arguments if such arguments conflict with their accepted dogmas/ map of the world. There is not enough space here to get into the whole topic of how embracing a dogmatic belief can cause a kind of blindness to obvious facts and logic. Suffice to say that most human beings are capable of hypnotizing themselves, and will readily believe things that are nonsensical to objective observers, and simply ignore facts they don’t like.

Since logic alone is seldom effective as a change agent, if you seek to be a true disruptor, then you have to think in terms of meeting these people at the emotional, rather than logical, level.

The perceptual blindness that often accompanies dogma belief is usually induced by some past trauma or current fear that is unbearable to look at consciously. This state of apparent “stupefaction” can’t be quickly fixed. The root cause of the “blindness” is a kind of injury, and thus has to be healed. There also has to be some willingness on the part of a given Kool-Aid aficionado to do the healing; history teaches us that challenging dogmas usually invites violent responses, so pick your battles carefully. (When we talk about “great leaders,” they are usually people who have a kind of immediate healing presence that lessens or transcends the effects of trauma-induced blindness and hesitation.)

There is always this tricky balancing act between knowing when you are at a higher level of consciousness (and accepting the sense of exclusion that you suffer by not being at the Kool-Aid cocktail party) and recognizing when someone else is at a higher level than you. Just as you are currently humoring folks in the Kool-Aid swim, rest assured there are others silently tolerating your personal Kool-Aid choices much the same way. It can be hard to know the difference between those who are just eager to find followers to validate and reinforce their world of illusions and denial, and someone who has actually risen to higher consciousness and is willing to take the risk of sharing that with you. Seeing this difference requires balancing confidence and humility, as well as a fair amount of trial and error.

About The Author

Justin Locke is an author, playwright, disruptive influencer, humorist, and occasional speaker.  He is the author of Principles of Applied Stupidity and Real Men Don’t Rehearse.  Visit his website at

#TChat Preview: The Three Essential Elements Of Compelling Business Vision

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about how 2015 will be the best year for recruiting since 1999.

This week we’re going to talk about the three elements of a clear and compelling business vision.

Developing business vision and strategy is difficult to execute. Most leaders default to actions steps and tactical plans and spend most of their time here. Even if they invest up front to create the vision, sustainable investment is short-lived.

Plus, less than 10% of the organizations visited by this week’s guest, Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner, are led by managers who have a clear sense of where they are trying to lead people.

What to do? For a business vision to be compelling and provide ongoing guidance, it must illuminate all three elements of a compelling vision: purpose (or mission), values, and a clear picture of a desirable future.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn about about the three elements of a clear and compelling business vision with Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner, Founder of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership and co-author of the bestseller Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision.

Sneak Peek:

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: The Three Essential Elements Of Compelling Business Vision

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, February 25th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, February 25th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, February 25th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Jesse will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why do many leaders default to a tactical approach instead of strategic vision? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How are individual contributors solution solvers or problem makers? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What elements make for a clear and compelling business vision? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until the show, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: Heatwave via photopin (license)

How Would Picasso Design Your Org Chart?

We typically think of organizational charts as a set of vertically stacked boxes that represent people and their job descriptions. Additionally, the chart illustrates who reports to whom and the hierarchy of the company. And this is generally how we think about organizations: who is the boss and what are they the boss of?

I’m declaring my disdain of those charts and the vertical structures they represent. I am dedicated to the end of the org chart as we know it!

With that in mind, I’ve created the “Top 10 Reasons I Hate Organizational Charts” list:

Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate Org Charts

  1. They are vertical, not horizontal.
  2. People are represented as boxes.
  3. You can’t see the informal relationships of an organization.
  4. They are a myopic internal vision of a company.
  5. There are no customers represented.
  6. There is no community, social or otherwise, represented.
  7. You can’t see the stage or language of an organization.
  8. No core value, noble cause, purpose, mission, or vision is visible.
  9. They don’t promote leadership and mentorship, learning or teaching at multiple levels.
  10. They don’t support creativity, innovation, uniqueness, and greatness.

Check out this video to learn more:

Rebecca Onion wrote about what is considered the first org chart by New York and Erie Railroad on Besides being historically significant, the chart is beautiful to regard. Designed by McCallum and drafted by G.H. Henshaw, a civil engineer, the chart draws from the natural motifs popular in the Victorian aesthetic. Looked at from afar, the whole resembles a tree laden with fruit or blossoms. Up close, the individual “branches” illustrating groups of employees who worked on the trains have the rough, natural look of vines, twining alongside the straight lines of the tracks that they service.

Henry Mintzberg was the creator of the Organigraph. He was on the right path in terms of freeing us from hierarchy and silos. You can view his sample and see his liberating tool. But even dear Henry didn’t foresee our ability to be completely free to design our true vision.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to get out a gigantic piece of flip chart paper and redesign your org chart with great imagination and vision.

What would it look like if you used the following list as a guideline?

  1. Create a metaphor that represents your business. (What would Picasso do?)
  2. Draw your values, noble cause, and vision in this picture. Remember that your heart is central.
  3. How do people intersect with each other, customers, and your community?
  4. How do people REALLY (informally) interact?
  5. Are you cross-functional or departmental? Can silos be replaced?
  6. How do you make and spend money? Can you represent that in the nature of the drawing?
  7. What communal language do you speak? Are you talking about individuals or about groups, community or greatness?
  8. Where is your leadership or mentorship pipeline, and how do you illustrate it?
  9. How do you represent roles, titles, and hierarchy in the picture?
  10. Place yourself in the picture. Specifically, place yourself where you want to be rather than where you may find yourself today.

Is your picture different from your reality? Can this new org chart set the stage for your strategic plan? After all, a strategy is simply the steps you will take to make your vision come true. What will you need to think of, innovate, start, or stop to develop a strategy that represents the vision represented by your picture?

As of right now, let’s ban the traditional org chart and in its place put organizational vision. This is a critical step toward creating unique organizations that we want to be part of, rather than being defined by the hierarchy of an organization. As we design our organizations, let’s ask ourselves this question: “What Would Picasso Do?”

About the Author: Ruth Schwartz is an internationally certified business leadership coach, motivational speaker and author. She owns High Performance Advocates, a management and leadership coaching company.

photo credit: frankieleon via photopin cc

When Our Workplace Culture Is On Fire

“The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don’t need no water let the m-f burn.” –The Bloodhound Gang

At least, that’s the melodic hip-hop mantra many of us have wanted to repetitively belt out at some point in our world of work lives (with an unapologetic emphasis on the unabbreviated curse word, of course).

Not because we’re having so much fun dancing around the water cooler, or in the break room, or the conference room, house music thumping in our heads, but because our workplace culture around has all but burned out our aspirational goals.

Many years ago I worked for a firm with an unsettlingly quiet dragon at the helm, one that erupted at the most seemingly inconsequential things, especially when he felt out of the communication loop of any minute detail of the client services work we delivered week to week.

Most mythic dragons spew toxic flames but usually telegraph their eruptions. Heroes have time to duck and cover, but most of us expendables, however, do not.

But this particular dragon? No telegraphing whatsoever. Nothing but surprise eruption after surprise eruption with the complete “why” context not quite coming clear until after the smoke literally cleared and you were sweeping your own ashes from a dust pan into your cubicle trashcan.

After surviving the first year unscathed, jousting internal “windmills” and ungrateful clients, I was presented the opportunity to travel internationally and work onsite for at least six months with a great client of ours. My excitement was palpable and was exceeded only by my naïve, inquisitive nature.

So I started asking the client questions about where I’d be living and how much my per diem would be each day, and the like.

It seemed to me to be innocuous enough, as did the client, but as soon as the dragon caught wind of my inquiries, my days of being a hero were doomed. Without notice and no more than an hour after my client e-mail exchange, the dragon swooped down the long hallway to where the account managers worked and let loose an ungodly fire that decimated every single cell in my godforsaken soul, something I had never experienced before, nor since.

Damn, let the m-f burn. And burn I did.

I lasted just over 3.5 years in that hardcore culture, never really fitting it. While I learned a lot of valuable lessons, and had sound relationships with many colleagues, some that still exist to this date, when I left there, I never looked back.

I imagined that I was the dragon burning that place to the ground. Over and over and over again. All the while bouncing to the house music, curse words intact.

The quest for all of us is to find a company culture that fits (which is the one that forever eludes us). But mercy me, we must keep working towards the goal of finding, and/or making it, and keeping it. According to Strategy& of PwC, 96% of employees have stated a “culture change” is needed at their company. Only about half of all employees say their leaders treat culture as a priority on a day-to-day basis. Fewer still say culture is effectively managed at their companies.

But culture goes deeper than a workplace flexibility, pizza lunches, ping-pong tables – or international travel to exotic client locales. In fact it should drive most every aspect of business – from customer relations to internal practices. Culture is a living breathing entity in companies and one of the most important drivers.

Today, talent science shows us that we perform better when we’re a fit with our workplace culture. This is the science of using quantifiable data to find and hire employees that will be most engaged with the company, its culture, and therefore contributing more to the bottom line and driving business outcomes.

But when we talked about this on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, we all rediscovered what we already new so very well, and only now we can better analyze it – the fact that there are many, many layers of cultural nuance, driven by leadership as well as every single individual contributor in the organization.

Which is why RoundPegg, a company that increases business performance through applied culture science and employee engagement software, believes we can:

  1. Measure it. The first thing you have to do is to “look in the mirror” and measure the values of everyone in the company, via surveys and assessments. How’s everyone really wired in the organization and why? Personal values are the best predictors of what’s happening in company, but until recently we really didn’t have the powerful combination of modern psychology, computing power and rigorous algorithms.  Now we do.
  2. Analyze it. For example, take a mid-size firm growing rapidly that burned through a huge investment but wasn’t performing. Their board of directors of course found the firm’s lackluster performance less than acceptable and demanded the “righting of the ship.” Internally they thought accountability was the issue, but after measuring the values and analyzing the results, the most challenging issue was really about rules — half wanted rules, structure and discipline, and the other half wanted flexibility and freedom, to be more spontaneous. This was at the real root of their stagnation.
  3. Then change it. Once identified, they realized that communication was at the heart of their rules issue, one that had previously only been paid lip service, if any at all. Over the course of six months clear communication channels were developed and maintained, and the course corrections they made impacted employee development, hiring those who shared the same newly unified values, and improving overall engagement that had immediate and long-term improvements, especially business growth.

Values and engagement aren’t just nice-to-haves, they’re personally vital, and when our workplace culture is on fire from jousting fiery dragons and ungrateful exchanges, it kills our shared values, productive affinity and the business mojo within.

Gathering the right cultural data and analyzing what’s wrong with collective values allows organizations to make the changes that insulate the entire business and keep them somewhat dragon safe.

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