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4 posts from October 2022

Improve Your Learning Agility with "after-action reviews"

Sometimes we make a decision and things go well... other times, not so well. This is a good reminder to take a breather and figure out what you've learned.

Center for Creative Leadership: Tips for Improving Your Learning Agility, 2020-Dec-2

Learning occurs when you take the time to reflect, to shift your thinking beyond merely what happened to ask why things happened the way they did. Reflection helps to surface the intuitive and lock it in for future reference. So step back from the busyness and figure out what you’re learning from a project, from an interaction, from a new experience. Talk about what’s currently working well and what isn’t — or debrief what’s already happened. Conduct after-action reviews where you, and relevant others, reflect by asking questions: What happened? Why did it happen that way? What should we stop/start/continue doing in order to ensure success in the future? What changes in knowledge, skill level, attitudes, behavior, or values resulted from the experience?

Good Review of the book TALENT by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross

While reviewing the book Talent (Cowen/Gross), Rohit Krishnan suggests adding in a McKinsey interviewing technique, asking the candidate to tell a story that demonstrates how they've handled a challenge. Rohit was .

Strange Loop Canon: Divining Talent by Rohit Krishnan, 2022-Oct-12

Here the McKinsey technique, which I stress I have not seen used almost anywhere else in the corporate world, is to let the candidate choose a circumstance that shows grit, or creativity, or perseverance, or working with difficult colleagues, and let them tell you the story.

You then spend the next 20-25 minutes trying to go deeper into that story, to test that it says what the candidate thinks it says, to analyze whether she actually was pivotal in that story, and to assess whether the story is true! And Tyler and Daniel think this is a helpful way too, hinted obliquely.

…it should be a question you really want to know the answer to. So if the person worked in a ball bearings factory in Cleveland, ask yourself if you care more about ball bearings or more about Cleveland. And your follow-up questions should also reflect real interests of yours.

I have found this to be incredibly insightful, especially since most people don’t like going too much into detail about things they’ve done. It’s not to get specific information about subject matter proficiency, but to get a sense of how they think and how they speak and how they act with others. All of which are crucial factors to get a sense of how they get things done in the world!...

To me, the distilled understanding of the questions you ask should elicit:

  • Does this person care about the subject they're talking about?

  • Do they care to learn and spend effort learning?

  • Are they getting better at each interaction across any dimension?

  • And in the case of leadership roles: Can they get others to follow them?

...You can’t just use the questions outlined at the end and get much mileage out of them. But you can benefit from thinking through how you might come up with similar questions and figure out how to get answers to them....

One of the core conclusions of the book funnily enough is that it's not about hiring at all, but about a way of living. If you think of talent as a spike in some core attribute, and that a lot of people have it who are often overlooked, then identifying and encouraging them are extraordinarily good things to do. "Raising their aspiration” in other words.

Hire for integrity first, experience last

From Chip Conley's Wisdom Well

Quoting Dee Hock, founder and CEO of VISA International:

“Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity;
second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, motivation; fifth, knowledge;
and last and least, experience.

Without integrity, motivation is dangerous.
Without motivation, capacity is impotent.
Without capacity, understanding is limited.
Without understanding, knowledge is meaningless.
Without knowledge, experience is blind.

Experience is easy to provide and
quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.”