Managing Human Capital
- Understanding Generational Human Capital and its Impact on Innovation Projects
- Avoiding Expert Blindness
- Business Returns from Rewarding vs. Paying Productive Project Team Members
- Understanding Variations in Project Member’s Enthusiasm and Motivation
- Attitudes of Leadership That Drive Innovation Project Success
- Alignment of Project Leader’s Attitudes
- Picking the Right Project Leaders and Team Members for Fuzzy Front End / Breakthrough Projects
- Critical Skills Development in Technical Staff and Management
- Thwarting the Innovator’s Dilemma, Using Mentors of Mavericks (MOMS) Effectively
- Utilizing Effective Teams
- Utilizing Coaches
- Utilizing Aesthetic Competencies in Innovation Leadership
- Sources, References and Selected Bibliographic Information
Being an effective manager is about understanding who you’re managing, and much of that knowledge comes down to understanding the generation that identifies your workers.
A 2013 study published by EY, formerly Ernst & Young, includes insights from more than 1,200 professionals across generations and industries about the strengths and weaknesses of workers from different generations, based on the perceptions of their peers.
Overall, the study found that Millennials are tech-savvy, but aren’t great team players. Gen X-ers are entrepreneurial-thinking, but rank low on executive presence. And last, but not least, Boomers are team players and loyal, but don’t adapt so well.
The “Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Generations in the Workplace” figure highlights the findings. From a SWOT standpoint the strengths and weaknesses of Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers can be described as:
- PROS: Millennials are believed to be the most tech-savvy (78% of respondents agree) who know how to use social media to leverage opportunities (70% of respondents agree). These younger workers are also regarded as being the most “enthusiastic” (68% of respondents agree) about their jobs.CONS: Millennials scored the lowest on being a “team player” (45%), “hardworking” (39%) and “a productive part of my organization” (58%).PERKS: More Millennials respondents wanted to know when and how they can get a promotion (13%) compared to Gen X-ers (5%) and Boomers (4%).
- PROS: Most of the respondents in the study (70%) believed that Gen X are the most effective managers compared to managers from the Boomer (25%) or Gen Y (5%) generation. Members of Gen X scored the highest when it comes to being a “revenue generator” (58% of respondents agree), possessing traits of “adaptability” (49% of respondents agree), “problem-solving” (57% of respondents agree) and “collaboration” (53% of respondents agree).CONS: Gen X-ers scored the lowest compared to other generations when it comes to displaying executive presence (28%) and being cost effective (34%).PERKS: Gen X respondents ranked workplace flexibility as the most important perk (21%) and are more likely to walk away from their current job if flexibility isn’t available (38% versus 33% of Gen Y and 25% of Boomers).
- PROS: Baby Boomers ranked the highest when it comes to being a productive part of their organizations (69% of respondents agree), “hardworking” (73% of respondents agree), a “team player” (56% of respondents agree), and mentoring others (55%).CONS: On the other hand, Boomers ranked the lowest when it comes to being adaptable (10%) and collaborative.PERKS: Not surprisingly, Boomers (28%) identified benefits, such as health care and retirement, as the most important perk compared to Gen X (19%) and Gen Y (147%).
Generational Differences Chart
A more detailed analysis is shown in the “Generational Differences Chart” figure, provided by WMFC.
All technical and new business development teams, be they focused on project commercialization or strategic planning, have to take into account which generation will be the recipient of the work product or service produced. With this insight, the project membership should be balanced accordingly. Likewise depending upon the goals of the product or service to be delivered the working styles needed for project success should be considered based on the amount of expected work needing to be done in the timeframe available for completion of the project.
For rewards and recognition for work, the E&Y study found that cash is still considered the most important perk across all generations, with 49% of respondents agreeing this is the case. However, intrinsic motivators for technical and business development work provides a greater return to the company and employees as discussed in the Business Returns from Rewarding vs. Paying Productive Project Team Members section of this chapter. The most valuable of these intrinsic motivators varies by generation and should be taken into account by senior managers and executives.
Patrick Watson has advocated that “When you have a major problem, you consult an expert—at least, that’s the idea. But we’ve learned the hard way that so-called “experts” don’t always know what they’re talking about.”
To illustrate the issue, Robin Helweg-Larsen tells the story of three men walking to a restaurant. This is illustrated as:
First, they observe the business systems, each from their own perspective and training. Literally their preconceptions determine what they each see. Then then infer what could make the restaurant better, based upon their observations. Their decisions on what to do if they bought the restaurant would be driven by these biased observations. Thus the moral of the story is that if you only observe part of the business, your business decisions will tend to benefit only that part. In order to make good business decisions (decisions that benefit the “whole business”), leaders need to understand the “whole business”.
Another illustration was provided at the 2018 SXSW in a session called “How Neuroscience Reveals Your Expert Blindness.” The speakers were Richard Bina of ad agency RPA and Dr. Carl Marci of Nielsen Consumer Research.
Bina and Marci talked about a large study they had done for Honda. The goal: compare how well TV commercials worked on prospective buyers vs. Honda’s own experts.
To test this, they assembled two panels: regular people who were shopping for cars, and executives from Honda dealerships.
The test subjects all watched an hour of TV comedy shows including both Honda and other commercials, just like you would at home… except attached to machines measuring brain activity, eye movement, and so on. This let the researchers see exactly what part of the TV screen drew their eyes and which specific words caught their attention.
The results surprised everyone. The words and images Honda executives liked had almost zero correlation to those that attracted potential customers. These “experts” homed in on what they knew: the car’s features and financing terms. Consumers, on the other hand, made much more emotional connections.
Keep in mind, this happened involuntarily. Their bodily reactions showed these experts didn’t know nearly as much about selling cars as they thought. Bina and Marci called this “expert blindness.” The very fact that you are an expert on something can cause subconscious changes—you behave differently and may not assess yourself accurately. The Honda executives regarded each other as experts. But,they seemed to lose objectivity both with themselves and those with similar expertise. So that brings up the question, what experts in your company might similarly misunderstand the products, services, and people they supposedly work and network with?
The best solution is that of Ray Dalio who advocates an Idea Meritocracy, in which everyone who works at his company constantly rates everyone else on dozens of criteria, all of which go into an algorithm that emits “believability-weighted” decisions. See “Assessing Believability via Radical Truthfulness and Transparency” in Chapter 14 for details.
In any case strategic planning and project teams must be populated by people who keep an open mind and are unafraid to speak up. This requires the use of KAI and Myers Briggs tools (also in Chapter 14) when executives, managers, and project leaders pick various project team members.
People often don’t respond to rewards the way managers think they will. This was highlighted in Dan Pink’s 2009 TED talk. According to Pink, monetary incentives work best for repetitive, rules-based jobs. Yet those same contingent motivators (“If you do this, then you get that monetary reward”) often reduces productivity in cognitive and creative jobs. People take longer and achieve inferior results.
As Patrick Watson muses, that’s not what managers want. But researchers all over the world consistently find this effect in different cultures and industries. They’ve put people in all kinds of test situations, and the same happens every time.
The reason, Pink says, is that bonuses, commissions, and the like make people narrow their focus. They concentrate on delivering the results that will give them the reward. That’s fine in jobs like manual labor, certain kinds of accounting, some computer programming, and financial analysis. But that is not what business and technical research and development projects need. In these roles, narrowing people’s focus to get their reward is counterproductive. The company needs people to look for answers in unexpected places. “If-then” pay systems don’t inspire that.
The best-practice is to pay people a fair market-rate wage, and then use intrinsic motivators such as:
Autonomy—the urge to direct our own lives
Mastery—the desire to get better and better at something that matters
Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
Where the money fits into these, it’s part of autonomy. Pink argues people want to be comfortable and independent. Pink says wise employers get the money question off the table immediately. Pay people a fair wage, and then start motivating them in other ways. The solution is not to to entice people with a sweeter carrot, or threaten them with a sharper stick. While that method may not succeed with every worker, employers who try it report good results.
As to why don’t more employers do what Pink suggests? The hypothesis has to do with Expert Blindness discussed in this Chapter. Patrick argues profit-focused executives may think everyone else is just like them: “I want more money, so they must want more too.” But research says that’s not always the case.
Creative people do want more, but not necessarily more money. They want more autonomy, more self-improvement opportunities, and more purpose in their jobs. They want to feel valued and respected. Rewards that are publicly presented, artistic and monetarily valuable seem to work best. Awarding the best performers commemorative gold coins in employee meetings, are but one example. It is something the awardee shares with colleagues, family and friends, and passes down for generations..
As reported by Nicholas Valery, the work of R.J. Saldich the ups and downs of innovation cause wide variations in the project members’ enthusiasm. It is up to the senior managers, gatekeepers, and executives provide support during the down times and celebrate milestone successes when things go well. The leadership style which surrounds the project team has a lot to do with the speed to which the project team moves forward. As described in chapter 9 of motivation the project teams feelings can easily be assessed and the recommended management behaviors implemented.
A source of variation in team performance on the positive side is when Project Leaders exhibit the behaviors advocated in the “One Minute Manager”. When Project Leaders take just a minute to exhibit the following behaviors team performance increases dramatically.
First, Project Leaders set one minute goals by being very clear on their goals, defining what good behavior looks like to reach those goals, write each goal and behavior on a single sheet of paper, read and reread each goal each time you do it, take a minute every once in a while out of the day to look at your performance, and see whether or not your behavior matches your goal.
Second, engage in one minute praising of team members’ work by telling people up front that you’re going to let them know how they’re doing, praise people immediately, tell people what they did right by being specific, tell people have good you feel about what they did right and how it helps the organization and other people who work there, stop for a moment of silence to let them feel good you feel, encourage them to do more of the same, shake hands or touch people a way that makes it clear you support your success in the organization.
Third, engage in one minute reprimands by telling people beforehand that you’re going to let them know how they’re doing in no uncertain terms, reprimand people immediately, tell people what they did wrong by being specific, tell people how you feel about what they did wrong in no uncertain terms, stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel, shake hands or touch them in a way that lets them know you’re honestly on their side, remind them how much you value them, reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in the situation, realize it when the remand reprimand is over it’s over.
This simple advice is easy to describe, but hard for most Project Leaders to make habitual. Those that do become proficient at these behaviors also become very successful.
Another important source of variation in team performance on the downside is when a corporation undergoes a large organizational change, reorganization, divestiture, or merger. In such cases project leaders and team members typically go through what are essentially the four phases of mourning as described by John Bowlby in his classic study called “Loss”. The four phases are: (1) a phase of numbing that usually last from a few hours to a week in may be interrupted by outbursts of extremely intense distress and her anger. (2) a phase of yearning and searching for whatever has been lost lasting some months and sometimes for years. (3) a phase of disorganization and despair. (4) a phase of greater or less degree reorganization. It is important that when organizations undergo such changes project leaders be trained in the mourning process in order to guide the organization’s team members through the phases rapidly and successfully.
Most project team leaders are successful through the first phase where most of their team wants to deny the event. Project leaders can usually point out that the event is for real and must be dealt with.
The real challenge for project leaders is in the third phase were team members are sometimes just blindly walking around. To guide teams through this phase it is often desirable to utilize the seven ages of organizational life which are analogous to Shakespeare’s seven ages of man. What is important here is to remember the trying to talk employees out of their feelings will get you nowhere. You have to find a way to act. The most important principle to remember is to give people information. It has to be done over and over again. This process is described more fully in William Bridges books.
When such dramatic events are known ahead of time by management, putting together a carefully constructed change process is critical to a smooth transition. Again this process and plan is more fully described in William Bridges books.
As can be seen in the above sections, the role of the organizational or project leader is key to success when bringing an idea to market. Harlan Cleveland found that for the generalist leader, steepest part of the learning curve is not skills but attitudes. Those who presume to take the lead in an organization, especially ones focused on innovation where nobody is even supposed to be in charge, seem to need an arsenal of eight attitudes indispensable to the management of complexity. These are:
First, a lively intellectual curiosity, and interest in everything (because everything really is related to everything else and therefore to what you’re doing, whatever it is).
Second, a genuine interest in what other people think and why they think that way (which means you have to be at peace with yourself for a start).
Third, a feeling of special responsibility for envisioning a future thats different from a straight line projection of the present (because planning is an improvisation on a general sense of direction, and the leaders prime function is to point the way).
Fourth, a hunch that most risks are there not to be avoided but to be taken.
Fifth, a mindset that crises are normal, tensions can be promising, and complexity is fun.
Sixth, a realization that paranoia and self-pity are reserved for people who don’t want to be leaders.
Seventh, sense of personal responsibility for the general outcome of your efforts.
Eighth, a quality called “unwarranted optimism” (the conviction there must be some more upbeat outcome than would result from adding up all available expert advice).
Since many development projects are aimed at breakthrough innovation, the level of leadership required for such projects and business transformations requires Level 5 Leadership, as characterized by Jim Collins. In short the leaders possess paradoxical nature personal humility and professional will. They are timid and yet ferocious. Shy and fearless. They are rare but unstoppable. As shown in the “Level 5 Hierarchy” figure, the level 5 leader sits on top of a hierarchy of capabilities and is a necessary requirement for delivering a radical new business model project , or transforming an organization from good to great.
Four other layers, each one appropriate in its own right, but none with the power of level 5, lie beneath the top level. Individuals do not need to proceed sequentially through each level of the hierarchy to reach the top, but be a full-fledged level 5 leader requires capabilities of all the lower levels, plus the special characteristics of level 5. This special Yin and Yang of level 5 is a balanced tension between Personal Humility and Professional Will. Specific attributes are:
- Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
- Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from a good to great organization.
- Acts with a quiet calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
- Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results no matter how difficult.
- Channels ambition into the organization, not the self; sets up successors for even more greatness in the next generation.
- Sets the standard of building and enduring great organization; will settle for nothing less.
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
- Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the organization (to other people, external factors, and good luck).
Level V leadership is an essential factor for taking breakthrough product idea through to commercialization or an organization from good to great. However it’s not the only one. Jim Collins research multiple factors that were required. These were:
- Great leaders attend to the people first, strategy second.
- They got the right people on the bus, moved the wrong people off, ushered the right people to the right seats, and then they figured out where to drive it.
Great leaders hold two contradictory beliefs: their life couldn’t be worse at the moment, and yet their life would someday be better than ever. Level 5 leaders confront the most brutal facts of the current reality, yet simultaneously maintain absolute faith that they will prevail in the end. And they hold both disciplines, faith and facts, at the same time, all the time.
Great transformation projects and organizations do not happen overnight on one big leap. Rather the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel in one direction. At first, pushing it gets a flywheel to turn once. With consistent effort, it goes two turns, then five, then ten, building increasing momentum until bang, the wheel hits of breakthrough point, and the momentum really kicks in.
In a famous essay, philosopher and scholar Isaiah Berlin described two approaches to thought and life using a simple parable: the Fox knows a little about many things, but the hedgehog knows only one big thing very well. The fox is complex; the hedgehog simple. In the end the hedgehog wins. Research shows that breakthroughs require a simple, hedgehog like understanding of three intersecting circles: what a project team or organization can be best in the world at, how it’s economics work best, and what best ignites the passions of its people. Breakthroughs happen when you really understand the hedgehog concept and become synergistic and consistent with it, eliminating virtually anything that does not fit in those three circles. Great project teams and great organizations have a paradoxical relationship with technology. On the one hand, they studiously avoid jumping on new technology bandwagons. On the other, they were pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies, making bold, farsighted investments in those that directly linked to their hedgehog concept.
Great project teams and great organizations also consistently display three forms of discipline: disciplined people, discipline thought, and disciplined action. When you have discipline people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have discipline thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical, alchemy of great performance
Very few individuals possess all these attributes naturally. However to the extent project leaders and management team members can exhibit and walk the talk of these behaviors their organizations’ will outperform their competition.
Another key to Project Leader’s success comes from the degree of alignment of their personal career styles/objectives with those of the corporation. A simple yet effective way to visualize this was developed by SmartOrg. They have found that project leaders can be viewed as most interested in project speed, personal visibility, or the corporation’s need. The latter requires project leaders to focus on investing based on financial impact, guiding their stakeholders through uncertainties, and focusing on experiments that propel their project efforts forward. The video to the right is a simple and powerful way to visualize which type of project leader you are.
The personalities of individuals involved in the early stages of new business development have been found to be as important as a process itself by Greg Stevens and James Burley. New business development leaders and team members with Myers-Briggs type indicator scores that had preferences for intuition and thinking score highest in a Rainmaker Index. Those in the top third of the index generated 95 times more profit than those in the bottom third. Further, 32 of the 33 new business development projects from these types of individuals made money. This represents a success rate of 97% versus the 11% when moving from stage 4 to stage 7 on the ” Typical Industrial Project Success Curve” shown in the figure. The basis for this work was from 267 projects and hundreds of individuals collected over a ten-year period.
Instruments Used to Pick the Right Project Leaders for Fuzzy Front End / Breakthrough Projects
The instruments used to assess the personalities involved are shown in the “Assessment Tests” figure. The two instruments that have been found to be most useful are the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) and the Kirton Adapter Innovator instrument (KAI). The MBTI can be used to also calculate both an MBTI based creativity index, and an MBTA-based rainmaker Index. The KAI instrument was found to be less effective on all measures than the MBT I instrument, and created false positives in some cases.
MBTI-based Creativity Index Effects
Results when using the MBTI instrument are shown in the “MBTI-based Creativity Index Effects” figure. This shows that project leaders and team members in the high creative half of the sample (as measured by the MBTI instrument) outperform those in the bottom half according to the following success metrics: (1) The more highly creative group did more projects. (2) The more highly creative group branched the projects more frequently (redirected or significantly morphed them). (3) The more highly creative group was responsible for identifying concepts that, when later commercialized by the business, made far greater profits: $197 million versus $15 million.
Individuals with a strong MBTI-based preference for intuition and thinking, and who correspond to Keirsey’s Rational’s (NT’s) were identified as delivering new business development business cases that made money. They outperformed all other Keirsey temperaments.
MBTI-based Rainmaker Index Calculation
Because the NT temperament significantly outperforms the other temperaments a rainmaker Index is shown in the “MBTI-based Rainmaker Index Calculation” figure was used to improve the identification of individuals best suited for conducting early stage, high-risk, breakthrough projects. As shown in the “MBTI-based Rainmaker Index Effects” figure, those individuals in the upper third of the Rainmaker Index earned 95 times more profit than those in the lower third.
Individuals with RI scores in the upper third also carried out more projects by a factor of two. Typically this happened because the individuals with higher RI scores volunteered to do more studies. They would also often create positive outcomes even when the project they were initially handed turned out to be negative. In effect the high Rainmakers would often morph or change a negative project into a positive one, by changing the direction of the project, or branching it. Rainmakers clearly enjoy doing this kind of work much more than those with lower scores.
These results show that personality assessments of project team members, and assigning individuals to projects where their personality traits best match the type of project work to be done, is a critical element of new business development project management. This is particularly important when undertaking radical or breakthrough projects.
To have a technical staff capable of meeting the business needs for creating a sustainable advantage position in ongoing investment must be made in enhancing the technical and business skills in the technical staff. This practice companies have found that a comprehensive program for assessing and addressing the skill needs across the organization involves two components. These are a Competency Review Process and HR Review Process. To gain maximum impact the business skills training should be provided to all levels of the R&D workforce.
First kind of courses offered are usually behavior type training courses. These consist of selling and negotiation skills, influencing skills, and managing conflict and confrontation. After these training courses have been completed and the participants have demonstrated skills in these areas, additional programs related to leadership are undertaken. These consist of team manager training, coaching skills for managers, and management effectiveness seminars.
The business skills training involves having the technical staff become familiar with such concepts as ROI and other financial metrics, HR concepts such as job rotations, and sales concepts associated with key account management. Interpersonal skills training consists of selling and negotiation skills, resolving conflicts skills, and influencing skills. The leadership skills training is comprised of coaching skills, project team leadership skills, and providing 360° performance and development appraisals.
Based on the findings of the IRI working groups Gina O’Connor divided technical management into a grid of nine generic job roles that cut across all industries. These are shown in the “Skills Development Matrix” figure. In this figure job scope is shown on the vertical axis is represented by the roads. It starts with work focused on projects. The scope increases to working on multiple projects or platforms followed by even larger scope working on hope portfolios of programs. The focus of the work is shown on the vertical columns and starts with discovery work in understanding the technology and market gaps and opportunities. Once projects with good ROI are uncovered the roles needed for successful development of the ideas through preliminary assessment and scale up her shown in the center incubation column. Acceleration is focused on late stage scale up commercial introduction and market growth to take market share.
In order to build skills in the areas needed in the Skills Development Matrix a self-assessment is first done by the individual to determine their competencies and gaps. Based on the gaps that have been uncovered between their current performance and their current job level a development plan is created to close those gaps. For individuals wishing to progress to larger areas of scope responsibility or participate in commercialization of projects in different stage along the innovation pathway for self-assessment can be compared with the gaps in the new role they seek. The self-assessment tools are often supported with peer, management and coaching/mentor feedback.
Details of Critical Skills Needed in Technical Staff and Management
A group of R&D leaders working with Gina O’Connor found that there are generic ability areas needed for each of the role types that were defined in the above matrix. These ability areas were selected because of their importance to the organization as well as because many R&D personnel had gaps in these areas. In the Developer area, the major ability areas needed for each of the three role types are shown in the “Ability Areas for Developers” figure. These ability areas were found to fall into five major skill areas. These were talent management, networking, execution, strategic thinking, and problem-solving.
Similar to the ability areas found for developers, there were high level ability areas for personnel filling the roles of incubators and accelerators. These ability areas are found in the “Ability Areas for Incubators” and “Ability Areas for Accelerators” figures.
In order to best assess the gaps in any one of these Skill Areas, there are five levels of Competence defined is shown in the “Competencies Versus Skill Area Matrix” figure. Once a gap has been found, and that a person wishes to work on the gap, they can access the resources available from the company or online. There is typically a Resources Guide which walks an individual towards activities which can teach them skills they need. An example of such a Resources Guide follows:
Resources Guide for Training Technical Staff and Management
Resources Guide for Training Technical Staff and Management
Goal: “Able to identify, develop, test, explore and elaborate opportunities aligned within areas of declared strategic intent”.
Role Type: Developer
Competency Level: Applied
* Able to identify opportunities aligned within areas of declared strategic intent
1. Find next-generation opportunities
2. Confirm alignment with declared business unit strategic intent
For this activity, you should read the background materials listed, confirm what strategic intent means to your supervisor and colleagues, then assess if a current R&D or NBD next-generation project under consideration for funding by your corporation or business unit matches the strategic intent of your company or business unit. Check your findings and logic with your supervisor and colleagues. This activity should take a week to a month to complete, including all the discussions.
Step 1: Background
Become thoroughly understand strategic intent uses in technology and business planning.
- “Innovate or Evaporate”
- “Technology Strategy via Reviewing the Environment”
- “Beyond the Voice of the Customer: Ethnographic Market Research”
- “Creating Innovation Capabilities: Mölnlycke Health Care’s Journey”
1. Obtain access to next-generation projects or ideas being submitted to your company’s or business unit’s project selection committee.
2. Identify a team willing to help you assess projects’ strategic intent that comprises (a) your supervisor, (b) colleagues, and (c) 2-3 key people from Marketing/Sales, Manufacturing, or Finance. Note that each person should at least at the “Expert” experience level.
3. List those members and why you chose them below:
Person Name…..Perspective brought to the table
Person Name Person’s Role Perspective Brought to the Table
1. Plan for first team discussion
2. Prepare materials for your team that describe:
a. The strategic intent definitions and sources of them that you are using
b. Five next-generation projects you which to assess, your assessments of those projects, and why you included them
1. Lead a Team discussion
2. Review the above preparatory materials, then lead a discussion about each of the five projects as to why they do or don’t match the company’s or business unit’s strategic intent
3. After the discussion, rank your strategic intent definition elements by criticality: which ones will kill or significantly alter a project if not met
4. Identify the top 5 definition elements to test on five new next-generation projects not yet evaluated
1. Follow up
(a) Assess your five next-generation test projects for alignment with declared strategic intent
(b) Share your results one-one with your team members for their consensus
1. Find three next-generation opportunities
2. Find at least one next-generation opportunity aligned with declared business unit strategic intent
Evaluation Criteria for Technical Staff and Management Training Materials
HR training, assessment, and educational materials are increasingly available through educational institutions, professional societies, and corporations. The key for such programs is to make them available to all levels of the organization, just in time for whenever an individual wants or needs to obtain a skill, and in a variety of formats that fit location, time, and cost constraints.
Various training programs however have a wide range of outcomes. In controlled studies at Merck Corporation various managerial and sales technical training programs were evaluated. The result in individuals’ change in performance, expressed as a function of standard deviation in performance, was used as the measure performance and the costs of the training program were utilized to develop an ROI. The “Training Results” figure shows in-house time management and level II middle management training as a highest return for his first level lab managers and second level executive training the worst returns.
In his book “the innovator’s dilemma” Clay Christensen talked about how an organization’s immune response system stamps out new breakthrough ideas. To thwart this immune response, Dick Cheverton, Lanny Vincent, and Bill Wilson found that maverick innovators’ new ideas and projects could best find their way to commercialization through the use of a semi-formal management layer of mentors. They call these mentors MOMs.
The premise for needing a mom in order to carry out breakthrough innovation is that innovation takes a champion and a sponsor, but that is not sufficient, it also needs a mom layer. The mom has three purposes: to apply credible judgment, cultivate connections between people and networking of interpersonal relationships, assessing realities and organization climate and attempting to modify it.
The MOM Advocacy and Tasks figure shows the role of the MOM in three areas. The maverick innovator brings the idea to the table. Typically they believe in and of shown the value of their idea to the customers and the overall market. The organizational Sponsor looks at the Mavericks idea and determines what the idea is worth to the firm. This is typically the business leader who is looking for a return on the innovation investment. The third role that we’re talking about here is that of the MOM who tends to focus on the relationship between the Maverick, Sponsor, and organization. For roles of the MOM, they are to help justify the innovation in terms that the firm can understand, find relevance to the core business by being particularly aware of multi-business corporations’ business unit strategies and desires. The MOM also finds ways to reduce the risk to the firm’s investment in the Mavericks idea and resolve conflicts that come up between organizations or individuals. It should be noted that when it comes to effectiveness, individual MOMs really don’t exist, but should be better thought of as a network of MOMs. It is because they are distributed, an informal network around the various groups of an organization, that they can uncover ways in which Mavericks’ ideas might be relevant and justified. Because MOMs are so highly networked amongst themselves they are also able to brainstorm best ways to resolve conflicts and manage risks.
MOMs are found in almost every large company as mid-level to senior executives who constantly engage in balancing innovation needs with the need for control. Metaphors used to describe a MOM included “filter, ambassador, advocate, catalysts, interpreter, third-party, and in-between guy”. Is worthy to note that “sponsor” was never used to describe a MOM. MOMs are typically philosophy-based vs. rule based in their decision making styles.
MOMs see themselves as part of networks that provide experience, council, judgment, access to resources (including recruiting and repositioning talent), temporary cover protection, and even energy for creating and implementing innovation. These MOM networks are made up of experienced innovators that are politically savvy, well-connected, and incredible advocates. Their networks were largely informal, which made them highly flexible, adaptable and concealable.
MOMs make connections between ideas and people, and inform working relationships between those connections. The primary focus of the Maverick innovator is to demonstrate the value of the innovation to the end-user. In other words to “get it right”. But the primary focus of the MOM network is to “get it done”. MOM networks require relationships to succeed.
MOMs are part of a more complex off-the-radar system, one that runs in tandem with the corporation’s hard systems such as stage gate flows and criteria. Essentially soft system are founded on enabling and empowering people through extra hierarchical relationships; it is a complex ecology of informal communication links, climate controls, and the use of credibility for concealment.
MOMs and their networks collect portfolios of innovation projects spread risk and provide multiple at-bats in contrast of their peers on the operating side of the business. MOM networks maintain innovation warehouses were innovation projects are temporary concealment position, based on the timing judgments and discretion of moms. Innovation warehousing is a relatively common practice of MOM networks which enables them to reduce the risk associated with innovations that may be too early, or for which the market is not quite ready.
Language Used by Mentors of Mavericks (MOMS)
MOMs are multilingual in the sense they seem to understand the different strata of the Corporation speak different languages. The Language Comparison figure illustrates this. Language is an essential element of MOMs credibility. MOM networks fill a critical translation function both horizontally, between various innovation constituencies, and vertically, between low-level Mavericks and senior management. The MOM network also helps people learn to use the vocabulary of a particular domain properly, in effect learning a new vocabulary.
MOMs are adapted at managing risks that are generally outside the tolerances of the established core businesses. With existing businesses the challenge is to do what you did yesterday, only better. Innovation outside the core, on the other hand, jacks up the level of risk a couple of notches. What MOMs do is bring the opportunity or innovation to the point where the risk level becomes acceptable to the receiving business.
MOMs provide encouragement but also kill projects and/or ideas. Unlike the Maverick innovator, they are willing to call the baby ugly.
MOMs and their networks understand the impact of the climate for innovation in the host organization, and adjuster level of transparency or explicitness accordingly. As a climate conditions constantly change, the MOM network both calibrates to or sets a new climate, and takes steps to ensure that innovation remains viable.
MOMs not only have a high tolerance for ambiguity. MOMs use ambiguity is a method of concealment and protection for the innovation. They keep out intruders and/or allow Mavericks time and space to do their homework.
MOMs and their networks demonstrated sensitivity the core business that is matched with an ability to counteract the organizations “gravitational pull”. MOMs demonstrate the ability to honor and respect what is core, e.g., customer, business, competencies, etc., will not being confined by it. This is particularly true when it comes to envisioning how and where the organization might be revitalized.
MOMs have a sense of firm self-worth, the potential value for the innovation to the business. For MOM networks a question of innovation is not “does it fit”. Instead they ask “how can we make this fit”. Finding the answer either changes the innovation, or modifies the organization’s perception of what is core, or both.
Typical tools Used by Mentors of Mavericks (MOMS)
MOMs, unlike Mavericks, can be developed, both in terms of skills and credibility. However potential MOMs are likely to perform better as a MOM if they are Mavericks as well, and show some proclivities for this role. Typical tools MOMs use for the various central role elements shown in the above MOM Advocacy and Tasks figure are:
To Justify the Innovation:
1. “Use” maps showing Business Growth Rate vs. Strategic Use by the Corporation
2. “Value” maps showing Relative Cost vs. Relative Performance
3. Tracking Technology and Market Trends via Hype Cycle charts
4. Management by walking around
5. Pre-sell decision meetings
6. Concept testing with consumers
7. Refine innovation concept to “cute”
To Find Relevance To-The-Core
1. Technology Road maps
2. Strategic Planning charts of “Fit vs. Reward”, “Risk vs. Reward” and “Capability vs. Reward”
3. Technology Life-cycle maps
4. Business Life-cycle maps
5. List of pain points to organization
6. Identification of weaknesses in-the-Core
To Resolve Conflicts:
1. Dashboard control charts for all organizational functions
2. Competitor story boards
3. Trust Formula = Authentic Communication * Competence / Risk
4. Trust = Intimacy * Number of Times Communicated / Risk
5. Mediation to create a new solution
6. Deal-making based on Quid-pro-quo
7. Take responsibility, adsorb conflict, take hits
8. Change Venue
9. Separate antagonists
To Manage Risks:
1. Stage-Gate charts for Technology, New Business Development and IP projects
2. EVA/NPV by product
3. Market Growth Rate vs. percent market share of largest competitor
4. Spreading risk via broad support
5. Spreading risk via portfolio of projects vs. one big project
6. Enhanced communication via reviews
7. Enhanced communication via metrics
8. Save money for rainy day (separate pot)
9. Physical separation of skunkworks
10. Dispel myth “We don’t have the money”
It is the role for senior executives to develop MOM networks. The management research of McGrath et. al., suggests that the challenge of innovation management for the established firms is, in some respects, greater than the analogous challenge for start-ups. This is because established firms have to not only create an attractive value proposition for the customer, companies with established revenue streams also have to create a “firm worth” to effectively compete within the existing business for corporate resources. This internal competition does not exist for startups. The soft MOM systems, to varying degrees, cultivate common ground between these competing large-company organizational interests. The more divisions a corporation has and the more different stakeholders it has, the bigger the MOM role in commercializing successful next-generation and breakthrough innovations.
Most people like to think of themselves as team players in public it is fashionable to say I’m all for teams. But when a person gets back to their organizations with 13 pressures, demands, politics, egos, and self-interest; teamwork is right out the window. Chris Argyris, an expert on group dynamics, describes this phenomenon as what is exposed versus what is used. The challenge faced by many R&D organizations is to help individuals in them walk the talk, achieve higher levels of performance, enhance unity, and renew team spirit.
The TechNet project teams a group of competent individuals who care deeply about each other, who are fiercely committed to their mission, and who are highly motivated to combine their energy and expertise to achieve a common objective. Three primary conditions have to be met in order to it obtain such higher levels of team performance and member satisfaction. These three conditions are the heart solo teamwork. That said, these conditions are not a blueprint. Each group is unique, and the specifics and details of teamwork have to be worked out by the individuals therein separately.
Condition 1: Resources and Commitment.
Strong personal commitment and a leap of faith are needed to start up and sustain tightknit teams. Genuine energy and resources required during the early stages. For example, important non-task time is needed for teams to meet and establish identity, expectations, spirit, and bonds. Patience is required for learning, coaching and behavior change that is consistent with team principles. Investment in teamwork is very intangible. You can’t measure it like most corporate assets that can be stored in an inventory. It is not a liquid asset that can be sold off for profit if you have a couple of bad quarters. Teamwork requires a lot of care, sensitivity, and patience for it to pay off in the long run.
It doesn’t take much to bring a group of individuals together to do a job especially if you’re depending on just a compensation package to get them to produce. Teamwork on the other hand, takes a deep personal commitment and belief in team synergy and collaboration. Some managers harbor the belief that work only gets done when there is a singular powerful, expert, authoritative figure running group work. This leads to personal competition. Competition can be fun and rewarding if this powerful drive is focused onto the right target. The problem is that in a lot of situations teamwork is killed by friendly fire. In other words competitive energies are directed at looking better than the other person or looking better than the other teams in the organization. Often people compete for personal rewards at the expense of others. Thus the organization’s reward system must be based on teamwork and made a priority.
Condition 2: Ownership and Heart.
The second condition necessary for teamwork to blossom requires that an organization operate from the inside out. This means that people have to work hard at developing team friendly attitudes, values and beliefs. Teamwork functions best when people believe it from the heart and act or think with integrity in a way that is aligned with basic team principles. Tightly knit teams are built on attitudes, mindset, and values as much as on policy and systems to support them. Management stakeholders must have a passion for, and take personal responsibility for, quality teamwork. That said, members of teams can’t expect only upper management install teamwork and nurture. Seeds of teamwork have to be planted, cared for, and developed by the members themselves. Teamwork doesn’t come from just the outside-in, it comes from the inside-out too.
A team cannot fulfill its potential and solve problems if issues and concerns are not identified and surfaced. In any social structure, if people are not willing to take responsibility, get involved or are interested in what is going on, they deserve what luck will give them. Members forgo their right to complain about the level of morale and the quality of work life if they don’t assume responsibility. The key challenge in a high-performing team-based organizations, is to teach and empower people to be more proactive. The primary enemy of good team behavior is the mindset, paradigms, values and beliefs that members of the workgroup possess. Teamwork prospers when everyone is willing to give up some of their control needs, let go of past baggage, break down the fences and silos the divide teams, begin exercising good team principles and processes, and become what is referred to as a seamless organization. Team members themselves can determine and control whether the resources will be managed effectively, how they treat other, and how well they communicate with each other, whether or not they will speak up and team meetings, the amount of caring and sensitivity they will show to each other, whether they will support their leadership, and display a level of self-management. The team environment needs to be supported by the Corporation’s vision, mission, values, and strategies. Team members really must feel that the rules and procedures put in place will be followed and supported by everyone.
Condition 3: Learning.
In order to harvest the enormous power of teamwork, the team members’ knowledge, skills, and abilities have to be sharpened. Without the skills and behavior, the values alone will not produce results. Likewise good skills and techniques without the heart and soul of values will likely be perceived as manipulative.
The Principles of Teamwork
The principles of teamwork can best be explored by adult learning models. These models are where people try out their teamwork skills in actual tasks and activities. It is not just book learning, it is experiential. Workshops usually focus on case studies that are relevant to the team members. Case studies lead learners back through their experience and encourage them to discuss the positive and negatives of team efforts. This learning concept looks for common threads of thought and weaves together experiences, key concepts and principles in a vivid manner. It is through repetition and vivid learning that organizational behavior is affected. Workshops have the added value of allowing all members to acquire the language and concepts of teamwork at the same time.
High-performance team environments usually:
1. Understand the importance of management’s leadership role.
2. Cross training really enhances the strength of the team.
3. Careful management and control of the team’s resources is crucial.
4. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions before starting a task.
5. You really haven’t failed until the team stops trying.
6. Use mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow for the long run.
7. The team has to ensure that all its members are informed and enrolled.
8. Ideas won’t be heard unless you speak up.
9. Feedback is essential for process improvement.
10. Open minds are essential for synergy to occur.
11. The biggest barriers and fears are all perceptions that can be overcome.
12. Leaders have to keep their eyes on the big picture and constantly communicate.
13. Leaders have to guide the process.
14. High-performance teams must develop even their weakest or newest members.
15. Teams do not limit their members by presupposing their limitations.
16. It is important to celebrate success along the journey.
17. Patience fosters empowerment.
18. You can’t push a rope and you can push people in the direction you want.
19. An organization needs to share knowledge and develop people through effective coaching.
20. When a team finds itself in a hole, quit digging.
21. With a little trust you can move remarkably fast through a tough situation.
22. Stretch goals create stretched results.
23. It is okay for adults to request and accept help.
24. Mature adults are willing to admit they have fears.
25. The pitfall of holding back on a good idea is bigger than the pitfall of spending time to hear the ideas.
26. If you can visualize the process and the goal, everyone is in a better position to achieve it.
27. No one person is as smart as all of us.
28. Our limitations are generally driven primarily by our fears.
29. The team can’t afford the cost of uncaring criticism.
30. True leaders will encourage input from everyone.
31. Showing emotion is okay.
32. Teamwork is not easy and it is not automatic. You have to work at it.
33. Teamwork means that you have to understand the paradoxes and manage them well.
34. You have to bring people together if you’re to build enthusiasm and spirit.
35. Collaboration means a lot more than agreeing to stay out of each other’s way.
There are number of tools and organizations which will provide an organizational assessment of what’s going on within an organization. The advantage is that the organization is able to see and pinpoint existing strengths and leverage specific elements to improve the organization’s competitive edge. Assessments can also identify problem areas and weaknesses in team performance that are sapping creativity, energy, and commitment from all members of the organization. Such assessments are usually conducted by an individual, that persons supervisor, several peers, and several direct reports. The questions typically fall into around a dozen categories. These categories are often (1) being supportive, (2) defining topics in needs, (3) establishing impact, (4) initiating plans, (5) getting commitments, (6) confronting excuses and resistance, (6) clarifying consequences, (7) not giving up, (8) environmental factors, (9) personal beliefs, and (10) overall relationship satisfaction. Scores on anchored scales are put together by the relationship of the person taking the assessment to others. This gives an overall score in each element as well as scores from the relationships. Looking at the results across an organization can highlight whether it’s a hierarchical problem, a peer problem, or a mix. In any case, the most appropriate intervention can be thoughtfully deployed.
Serious payoffs can be expected from a group of individuals that can make the transition to teamwork. It is very empowering and motivating to be part of a tightknit team. The speed, agility, coordination, and creativity of many individuals can create tremendous cost savings, quality improvements, breakthroughs in service, and safety enhancements. Groups that achieve a state of teamwork and also benefit from the intangible rewards such as member satisfaction, higher morale, better retention of trained and talented members, fewer complaints, grievances and stress. In order to make teamwork a win-win benefit to all the stakeholders of an organization, everyone has to step forward and help create powerful teams. The members have to live and behave from the inside-out and be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. The power of the teams and synergy will grow from the strengths of the individual members. By working together on teamwork, ordinary people can produce extraordinary results.
As mentioned in the section on teamwork above, building a successful team requires lots of hard work, ideas, experience, and good fortune. Leaders and team members alike need highly tuned people skills to thrive over the long haul. The successful leader is an exceptional coach and relationship builder. In his work on coaching, Steven Stowell found seven coaching elements to be of particular importance. They are:
1. Don’t rock the boat. Too many people assume that the best way to build strong relationships is to keep quiet, keep your head down and eyes closed. The worst thing you can do when you have a concern or a problem is to let it fester. Too often we fear upsetting the apple cart. In fact is this is the worst thing we can do. RECOMMENDATION: Ask, talk, and engage people in the spirit of inquiry and understanding. You don’t need to wait until you have an ironclad case.
2. Delay. Some people see a coaching opportunity and procrastinate. They say to themselves, I will make a move at the right moment when I am not so busy. We rationalize that there will be an ideal time to talk. As a result we do more damage as we wait for this magic moment to appear. RECOMMENDATION: Keep people in perspective, budget time to talk with them. Find out what’s going on. Ask others who work with you. Find solutions to common problems.
3. Dump. A lot of leaders open up only after the list of topics is so long that it would topple a shopping cart. When you dump a list of concerns, people react by defending and covering up. Dumping usually creates deep wounds. RECOMMENDATION: Be selective and focus on a few conversation topics rather than be comprehensive. People appreciating talking about one or two issues at a time. Don’t swamp them with too many suggestions and changes. One quality solution is more important than a lot of weak ones.
4. Dominate. When some supervisors to open up dialogue, they are unable to control the floodgates. The conversation whips into a firestorm of accusations, venting, and anger. Even when the emotions are not toxic, they can be volatile. It is not uncommon for people to sermonize or lecture. RECOMMENDATION: Plan ahead. Rehearse thoughts in your mind. Don’t go on for more than 30 seconds on anyone point. Try to keep a rough mental clock. Generally when you spend more than 50% of the time talking, you are overstepping the boundaries.
5. Prescribe. It is easier said than done. Many of us take pride in our expertise. As supervisors we feel we have a lot to offer, and that we know what is best. We forget that the coach is really supposed to help define the situation and facilitate an agreement to solutions so that others can feel ownership. Once we begin selling our preformed ideas, our ability to brainstorm and participate diminishes. RECOMMENDATION: Ask questions, inquire before you advocate. Try to draw out your partners. Find out why they know and what solutions they have in mind. Try to guide rather than dictate.
6. Attack. It is not uncommon for mistakes to escalate. Such is the case with dumping and dominating. If emotions are not monitored and kept in check, it is possible for well-intended discussions to degenerate into aggressive and angry feelings. Attacks and explosions feel like punishment to our partners. In the long run emotional baggage builds up. When you attack, you make the issue personal rather than objective. RECOMMENDATION: Go slow, put it down on paper, step back and look at all the factors. Usually serious problems have many roots. Don’t blame one person. Be a little vulnerable by looking at your own contribution to the situation. Put your concerns in writing and see if the tone and spirit is there.
7. Denial. Is easier to see the faults and needs in others than to identify them in ourselves. This phenomenon is called a self-serving bias. Encourage and seek out feedback from others. If you model a willingness to develop and improve, others around you will do so as well. RECOMMENDATION: Try to identify your contributions to the issues and concerns. Be totally open, upfront, and candid. Don’t get defensive, let others see your own shortcomings.
In the Eight Step Coaching Model figure, those actions taken to become a better coach are shown. They are self-explanatory in training is available from books as well as workshops. Good coaching is a way of being as well as doing. This way of being allows our values to drive behaviors. Like Olympic coaches, business leaders should evaluate themselves in two areas, skills and style, which are the expression of your values.
Research conducted at the Center for Creative Leadership in the mid-1990s found that in order to be an effective leader of a technical organization charged with innovation, leaders need to discover their own aesthetic competencies and learn how to apply these in order to revitalize themselves, their work, and the organizations they serve. This belief is taken from such business leaders as Drucker, who in 1994 stated “the essence of management is to make knowledge productive. Management in other words is a social function. And in its practice management is truly a liberal art”. Likewise Zaleznik in 1992 felt that “business leaders have much more in common with artists and other creative thinkers”.
The four competencies most important to innovation leaders are: perception, integration, insight, and visual thinking. The first of these, perception, is about engaging perceptual sensibilities and applying imagination, senses and intellect as a neglected aspect of cognitive growth. Perception is also about perceiving the issues of self-work and those of the community. It’s raising the level of inquiry to higher levels of thought.
The second element of integration is about integrating the senses and imagination with intellect. Becoming integrated is a prerequisite for true creativity to emerge from one’s own intrinsic imagination. This activity is about spanning in connecting domains of knowledge with one another. It’s also about making connections, recognizing patterns so that for example when can anticipate the same event occurring again. Integration is also about the wisdom to perceive a deep human need which must be met.
The third element of insight is about understanding history and the relevance of unconscious processes as natural creative phenomena. It also relates to the ability to interpret clues, use of metaphor, meditation and dreams to inform our thinking.
The fourth element of visual thinking covers the ability to understand the strengths and development needs for thinking visually. It’s about broadening access to visual thinking across a continuum of internal and external imagery, including music and poetry. It’s about expressing issues in a visual form.
Ways in which leaders can express aesthetic competencies include personalizing work. Redecorating offices to reflect tastes and interests is one way to make visitors feel more welcome and to learn more from them when they are present. Playing music for presentations can also be used to set a mood. Being able to see and understand coworkers as actors in a drama is a useful metaphor to gain greater insight and intrinsic motivation. Personalizing work helps link individual inspiration to community goals.
Using rich metaphors and better use of metaphors is also useful competency for technology leaders. By tailoring separate metaphors for initiatives being proposed to the audience involved improved understanding. Utilizing details of the metaphors to explore generative connections was also a useful tool for enhancing audience comprehension of the proposals.
When conducting strategic planning or project prioritization exercises, improved results can be obtained when the use of intuition is legitimized. White space analytic figures such as the star or radar diagrams described in the strategic planning section of this Compendium are examples of this. Using intuition allows teams to honor intuitive leaps with good enough data.
Accurate rendering involves paying attention to subtle detail, the relationships among parts, and the relative parts of a whole. It requires slowing down at times to really notice sensory input. It requires putting symbolic shortcuts aside.
The appreciation of each other’s highly invested products and expressions is also important in innovation organizations. By appreciating the details and means of each other’s “analog (childlike) drawings” of an issue, team members can probe for understanding while being respectful as well as challenging.
Another important aesthetic element is the art of noticing more about at least some aspects of a person’s environment. In doing so individuals will slow down and take in more of an image or scene and intending to its various facets and meanings.
Utilizing more “frames of mind” allows leaders to explore issues kinesthetically as well as verbally. This is particularly important for managers and leaders engage with design, patterns, and symbols.
Effective leaders also utilize inquiry as a way to construct understanding of issues. Utilizing images such as collages, drawings, dreams, and poems that are created by coworkers often surface tensions, apparently incompatible elements, or mysterious elements worthy of pursuit. The desirability here is to hold such elements in some kind of metal container without prematurely discarding them. Utilizing teams to then use all the images to show development or movement among the elements is a powerful insight tool. When organizations construct a series of images over time which show how tensions within the images transform themselves, conflicts among customer and/or coworker groups can be understand well enough to find solutions.
Serious play is also useful tool to uncover new solutions to problems. Serious play means being playful with materials that has serious implications. It is a way of learning that admits free exploration, robe working, and limited testing. There are many workshops, books, websites and software that support such activities.
Journaling is also part a successful technical leadership. Journals typically can bind ruminations on work with personal observations. Journaling often also makes use of images, drawings, this metaphors, and dreams.
Finally technical leaders often free-write material first in an uncensored flow, saving editing for later. Commercially available voice-recognition software facilitates this process. The advantage of this method is the use of intuition, emotion, and a connection that labored-over writing often lacks. Fresh writing retains the capacity to surprise the writer.
All these skills and attributes are both learnable and desirable. Strong technical leadership involves engaging oneself and members of the organization in improving aesthetic competencies. Because not all these competencies are yet regarded as important in business organizations, some of the training and utilization of aesthetic skills has been hidden from the general business literature.
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36. “Using Digital Communication to Drive Digital Change”, by Patti Sanchez, MIT SBR Series, Nov. 2018.
37. “Principles, Chapter 14”, by Ray Dalio, Simon & Schuster, 2017.
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41. “Which Type of Farmer Are You”, video provided by SmartOrg, https://smartorg.com/ May 2022.