Month: September 2019

Book Review: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Why the Many are Smarter than the Few. It’s this subtitle (appeared own the last edition of the cover) that has attracted me to this book by James Surowiecki. He makes the case that large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant the individuals are. Crowds are better at solving problems, innovating, coming to wise decisions, and predicting the future. The title The Wisdom of Crowds pays homage to Charles Mackay’s 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, yet challenging its premise. By focusing on a lot of social research, and giving tons of anecdotal evidences, the author breaks a lot of assumptions that we have on how groups reason, and how they can effectively reach better results that individuals. But don’t take everything for granted: Groups are not more efficient always. To function properly, “collective intelligence” must satisfy four conditions: Diversity: Individuals have “private knowledge” and insights that stem from their varying levels of knowledge, personal experience and ways of thinking about the world. No …

Build your Skills: Learning Agility

The concept of Learning Agility dates back to 1970, when American author Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock, investigated the move from the traditional industrial age to a new age dominated by Information. He crafted a new definition of what literacy meant, anticipating by a decade the more complete definitions of Learning Agility: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1970 The switch from a concept of Literacy based on the simple accumulation of “stocks” of information, changes into a fluid model where the learning and unlearning have the same relevance. It’s this dynamic element that is the innovative portion of this skill’s definition. Today this skill is in high demand, and has been strongly associated with Leadership. Put simply, “it’s the ability to be in a novel situation, not know what to do, and then figure it out anyway. Individuals who learn the ‘right’ lessons from past experiences are high in learning agility, …

«HR is a job for losers»

I’m working out of the Denver office this week. Yesterday evening I was sitting at the bar of the hotel pub, sipping a pint of local pale ale, when I accidentally overheard a conversation a lady was having via FaceTime (considering the high tone of voice, I guess everybody listened…). What? HR? Come on, that is a job for losers. Only people that are sure they will never an impact in their life, would choose such a job. What worried the most was that the gentleman that was sitting on my other side, who looked at me and told me “she’s right, my daughter wanted to do the same studying some kind of behavioral stuff, but know luckily she’s doing Business Administration, so she can do something productive“. I wasn’t really sure what to answer, so I finished the beer, nodded to the gentleman and left, not necessarily in a good mood. Luckily I’m not the type of person that has self-esteem issues. But these remarks hit an open nerve: how is our professional family …

Build your skills: Curiosity

When I’m asked what’s the most important skill I look for during a recruiting process, I don’t hesitate to say curiosity. Some consider this an innate side of our character, some an attribute of personality, some a skill that can be even taught. Whatever that is, I believe this to be one of the key elements that can make or break our success at work. I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. Albert Einstein Psychologists have compiled a large body of research on the benefits of curiosity. It links with intelligence, with motivation, with engagement and performance, with more meaningful goals, as well as with overall success. In 2017 the George Mason University developed a model to understand curiosity based on 5 dimension: Deprivation Sensitivity: I have a gap in knowledge that I need to fill in, Joyous Exploration: I’m consumed with wonder about the fascinating world. Social Curiosity: I like to talk and observe people, to understand what they’re thinking. Stress Tolerance: I accept and exploit the anxiety to experiment new …

Book Review: The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan

In today’s business world, experiential organizations are far and away the most successful when measured by almost every metric. The key to their success is that they provide their employees with optimal physical, technological and cultural workplace environments. These environments, in turn, are fine-tuned by infinite design loops, fueled by a focus on teamwork and driven by a strong sense of purpose, which provides an experiential organization with its reason for being. This in a nutshell the summary of the book by Jacob Morgan. His focus on Experience descends from one of the key ideas of the book: the recent business focus on employee engagement has not exactly led anywhere. He maintains that relevant statistics, for example engagement as measured by the Gallup Institute is stalling. Instead he proposes that organisations focusing on employee experience rather than employee engagement have an actual competitive advantage. Experience, in his view, requires a more holistic, all encompassing view of work than ‘mere’ engagement. Through a number of interviews with HR leaders, he has established a scorecard of 17 factors, grouped into three …

What’s new about Digital Leadership?

Understanding the concept of Digital Leadership is not an easy tasks. Multiple points of view, different approaches, a lot of partial answers, all contribute to a scattered scenario. If we want to really focus on digital maturity though, we need to approach this concept as the fundamental component of Culture Change. Digital Leadership is another concept, together with of Transformation, that is really “hot” in the most recent managerial literature and debate. The debate goes between the two extremes of who tries to redefine entirely the concept of Leadership applied to digital, and those that instead minimize its impact to just a new technology variable, not altering the fundamentals of traditional Leadership models. In this post I will try to reframe the topic starting from suggesting that the perspective of what is a digital leader already creates complexity in giving an answer. I will then assess three possible models of answer in the framework of Digital Transformation. What is a Digital Leader? Most traditional organizations are challenged constantly in defining what is digital, and this …

Book Review: What Works: Gender Equality By Design by Iris Bohnet

The topic of Gender Inequality has been addressed by several books in recent years, often coming from different theoretical and ideological backgrounds. Broadly we can find two extremes: a) the corporate self-help strategies of leaning in and b) the revolutionary defiance of leaning out. The work of Iris Bohnet finds a place for itself based on a vast and comprehensive review of research across the social sciences. Focusing on inequalities primarily within workplaces and schools, she does not try to position herself into one or the other ideological fields. Instead, she emphasises the complementarity of a behaviourally-based and empirically-driven approach with broader feminist strategies. The author focuses on de-biasing environments rather than individuals as a solution to tackle gender inequality. By identifying behaviours and processes that take root in institutions and explicating how they impede gender equality, it may be possible to intervene and design around the point at which bias is most likely to take hold. This approach, often identified as ‘Nudging’, allows for faster achievements, moving the needle through quick wins in faster …