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17 posts from August 2010

The Glance for August 30, 2010: Tony Schwartz on the price of excellence (both less and more than you think)

How many times have you quit before you began to get better? I'm too embarrassed to think about it. Schwartz gives very specific recommendations about how and when to practice. Can you guess what he says?

HBR Blogs: Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything, 2010-Aug-24, by Tony Schwartz

One of Ericsson's central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient in achieving excellence, but also the most difficult and the least intrinsically enjoyable. If you want to be really good at something, it's going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That's true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you've earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Ten ways better measurement will continue to revolutionize our lives and businesses

Data is flooding into the internet it becomes cheaper to track everything. We no longer have to guess what matters. Just track everything and look for patterns. In this article Conrad Quilty-Harper singles out ten examples that can open your eyes. 10 Ways Data is Changing How We Live, 2010-Aug-25, by Conrad Quilty-Harper

The availability of new sets of data has changed the way we live our lives: here are 10 examples of data which have changed everything from how we assess wars to how companies deliver milk.

The Glance for August 26, 2010: Daniel Hanson on how building relationships at work leads to meaning

Daniel S. Hanson, Cultivating Common Ground: Releasing the Power of Relationships at Work, 1997

Meaning and relationships are very much connected. In reality, meaning is discovered when we work together around a life and a task in common. There is no other way to find it. When we do discover meaning in our relationship at work, our lives take on a new depth and richness they did not have before. Meaning in the context of purpose, resolve, and harmony, acts like a fertilizer. It makes the ground we share more fertile. It enables growth of the seeds of our relationships and helps the seeds blossom in ways we would have never imagined.

We have to find a new way to grow our businesses. Consider Trader Joe's

Growth is seen as a business imperative in a capitalist culture. I've seen the desire to grow lead to many strategic errors. Reading the new Power of Pull book by John Seely Brown and his cohorts, he says that to grow institutions must grow at the edges of the business, not from the core. Apparently Trader Joe's places many constraints on its growth, so that growth becomes a matter of ingenuity instead of brute strength. We have to be on the watch for more healthy ways to grow.

Fortune: Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe's, 2010-Aug-23, by Beth Kowitt

Trader Joe's has a deliberately scaled-down strategy: It is opening just five more locations this year. The company selects relatively small stores with a carefully curated selection of items. (Typical grocery stores can carry 50,000 stock-keeping units, or SKUs; Trader Joe's sells about 4,000 SKUs, and about 80% of the stock bears the Trader Joe's brand.) The result: Its stores sell an estimated $1,750 in merchandise per square foot, more than double Whole Foods'. The company has no debt and funds all growth from its own coffers.

The Glance for August 25, 2010: Kegan and Lahey on how to redeem a complaint

Kegan and Lahey, How the Way We Talk can Change the Way We Work, 2002

We believe the language of complaint can be revisited for the purpose of being redeemed--that it contains a transformative element or seed. The route to that seed is found in this idea: we would not complain about anything if we did not care about someting. Beneath the surface torrent of our complaining lies a hidden river of our caring, that which we most prize or to which we are most committed.

The Glance for August 20, 2010: Calvin Coolidge puts it together on perseverance.

Working hard today on not becoming an educated derelict.

"Press on: Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Calvin Coolidge

The Glance for August 17, 2010: Bryan and Joyce on the unbearable complexity of managing large organizations

Lowell L. Bryan and Claudia I. Joyce, Mobilizing Minds, 2007:

The truth is that almost all of today's companies, from the mediocre to the "superclass," were built primarily to mobilize their labor and capital assets--not the intangile assets that enable profits per employee to rise to levels never seen before. Trying to run a company in the 21st century with an organizing model designed for the 20th century places limits on how well a company performs. It also creates massive, unnecessary, unproductive complexity--a condition that frustrates workers and wastes money. The plagues of the modern company are hard-to-manage workforce structures, thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, e-mail overload, and "undoable jobs."