Runners will confidently say, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing decisions.” Similarly, the theme of this article appeared to be, “there is no uncertainty, just gather the data.” I have also heard the turn of phrase, “In God we trust, all others bring data,” but there is no way to stamp out ambiguity when it comes to the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. In decrying the sorry state of data collection and transparency, this article hits on some predictable assertions that I would like to challenge.

Not all quests for data are realistic and practical:

A…


I have never been subjected to strict social constraints before. Born in the first part of the 1970s and having lived most of my life in Canadian cities, with a seven-year stint in Japan, my avoidance of draconian measures will not surprise, though such measures may be familiar to others who have already faced of circumstances that would be, by my standard, extreme. Norms in different parts of the world or at different times in history may support rule-following. …


Like a balloon with a slow leak, my early-career faith in leadership training began to wane with a “tales out of school” comment from a middle manager at a longstanding client. We had skills training to make messages more compelling.

Note: This is always a really interesting topic area because there is a massive assumption that the person/leader who is learning to be compelling actually has a “good” idea.

One of the specific tactics builds on Robert Cialdini’s principle of “consistency” and invites the compelling communicator to elicit their idea through questioning rather than sharing it directly. For example, if…


Like a balloon with a slow leak, my early-career faith in communication training began to wane with a “tales out of school” comment from a middle manager at a client with whom I had worked very closely. We had completed communication skills training to make messages more compelling.

Note: This is always a really interesting topic area because there is a massive assumption that we can get wide acceptance on the parameters for a “good” idea.

One of the specific tactics builds on Robert Cialdini’s principle of “consistency” and invites the compelling communicator to elicit their idea through questioning rather…


My areas of professional practice is performance in collaborative environments and I will frequently invoke the combining of art and science. The tug between these factors is identified in Theodore Kinni’s review of Jerry Muller’s book The Tyranny of Metrics. This quote sums up the interplay between the performance indicators (science) and the decision making (art informed by the right science in the right amount):

“Performance indicators can certainly aid, but not replace, the key functions of management: thinking ahead, judging, and deciding.”

I recall a description of a home inspector using scientific readings for moisture in the basement, but…


Getting venture capital funding for your start-up (that probably is connected to technology) can be like boarding a train. Once aboard, the blinking signs all around convey the stark reality: Grow or die. And it is not just “growth,” but very clear expectations of the amount of growth expected. I sat with Chris Hamoen last month as he brought me up to speed on some of the specific stops along the way.

Quick aside for context: I will confess to having recently read the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” which brings in whole lot of deep thinking…


As a consultant, I am often asked to facilitate discussions and share insights. I recently had the very good fortune of being on the receiving end of some wise words. One piece of the discussion centred around generating and vetting ideas at a strategic level. Part of the joy of the conversation was that the individual sharing the knowledge was familiar with the context, but was aware of not being deeply versed in the context. (e.g. someone who has eaten in many restaurants, but knows they don’t know the restaurant business.) …


Tradition vs. Innovation

PRELIMINARY NOTE:

I recall Karl Moore writing a similar article alluding to a story by Henry Mintzberg. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope both men feel flattered. I hope everyone else appreciates the relative locations of the tongue and the cheek in this piece.

A group of MBA students were looking for opportunities to strategically bring traditional industries into the new millennium. They turned their attention to professional baseball.

With a self-proclaimed bias toward leveraging technology, this group was also steeped in the very latest strategic thinking. Below are some exerts from their recommendations.

1 —…


Corporate culture always offers room for improvement, so there is never a right or wrong time to evaluate and make changes. Predictably, we tend to think about making changes after an adverse event. Those changes take the form of initiatives that start as “great ideas.”

I was recently privy to a debrief conversation that was a retrospective on errors that management had made in rolling out some changes. In listening to the recounting, I could see how the initial idea was sound (maybe even great!) but the implementation worsened the situation for many involved. …


Evaluation is a big part of organizational performance: we are all familiar with how attention to the evaluation can draw focus away from actual performance. Stanford researchers gave us the famed marshmallow test whereby a preschool age child is asked to resist immediate gratification (e.g. don’t eat the marshmallow that is right in front of you) for 15 minutes. If they do so, they are rewarded with a greater reward (e.g. an additional marshmallow).

Some draw conclusions that a childhood ability to override immediate gratification predicts success in other facets of life: physical and mental health, career and family success…

Chris Irwin

Curious about organizational performance with “art” (narrative & stories) and “science” ($ & metrics). Convinced it is rarely done well. URL measureofsuccess.ca

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