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Now is the Time to Innovate


A survey conducted in March 2009 by Innovation Tools found that the climate and funding for innovation is holding up during these difficult economic times.  Instead of cutting back on R&D, as might be expected during a downturn, 37% of respondents reported “no change” in the level of funding for innovation, while another 28% reported an increase.  The climate for innovation is also healthy with 27% reporting “improved slightly” and 20% reporting “improved significantly.” Chuck Frey and...

Deliberate Practice


The common attribute of high performers in sports, music and chess is not talent, as is so often assumed, but 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.  This begs the question, what is deliberate practice and can it be applied to individuals and organizations to improve the quality of business leadership?  The following is an adaptation of a set of principles defined by Geoff Colvin in the book, “Talent is Overrated.”  By studying the principles of deliberate practice and how successful business...

Is Talent Overrated?


Well, Geoff Colvin certainly thinks so and I agree with him. But first, let me explain what I mean by “talent.”  This is a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially in our field.  When I say “talent is overrated” I’m referring to “talent” as the innate (some would say God-given) ability, granted to us at birth, that confers an advantage over others lacking such ability.  We often hear the word “talent” used in this way when describing musicians, athletes or chess players who achieve what...

How Wikis Transform Learning


A wiki is an open-source application that allows any user to submit and edit content.  The most popular and famous wiki to date is Wikipedia, an open-source web-based encyclopedia written entirely by volunteer contributors.  Wikipedia has grown rapidly to become the largest reference work ever published in the history of mankind. The popularity of wikis has not gone unnoticed by the business community.  Companies are beginning to recognize the transformative nature of wikis and are using them...

Management Challenges for the 21st Century


In February 2008, the National Academy of Engineering proposed 14 grand engineering challenges that represent the biggest opportunity for human improvement in the next 100 years. Well, if the engineers can do it, why can’t we in management and leadership determine the greatest opportunities for human advancement through the profession of management? In May of 2008, a group of business leaders and academics met in Half Moon Bay, CA to do just that — identify the biggest challenges facing the...

To Twitter or Not to Twitter


A few weeks ago I reluctantly jumped on the Twitter bandwagon and claimed the address: @seanpmurray.  For the un-initiated, Twitter is a communication and networking tool, similar to blogs, that allows you to broadcast short (140 characters or less) messages to followers.  The technology puts a premium on being both concise and witty. My initial impression (like just about everyone else) was to view Twitter as another annoying technology bent on disrupting my day and reducing my productivity. ...

Zappos: Bribing Employees to Quit


One of the more interesting companies to debut on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list in 2009 is Zappos, coming in at 23.  That makes Zappos the highest ranked new comer to the list this year.  What makes Zappos, an e-commerce retailer, so unique, especially among start-ups, is an early commitment to defining a culture, and then designing systems and processes that support that culture.  Take one of their Core Values, “Deliver Wow through Service.”  This is an extremely customer-focused...

The 5A’s Framework: Making Training More Effective


One strategy for companies continuing to invest in leadership development  during these tough times is to look for ways to reduce the cost of training. Another strategy, which I consider much smarter and more strategic, is for companies to focus on the overall effectiveness of training.  Yes, training budgets are down 11% from last year, but there is no reason why a smaller budget can’t produce more effective results.  Improving business success from training is a subject my colleague Dr...

Training Down, Leadership Development Up


When the economy is shrinking and businesses are struggling, training budgets get cut back just like everything else.  However, this time companies with a long-term view on talent management are approaching things differently.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week that although training budgets at U.S. corporations are down an estimated 11%, the share of budgets allotted to leadership development is growing: Yaarit Silverstone, global managing director for the organization effectiveness...

Global Quest for Talent


I was following John Byrne’s (Editor-in-Chief of Businessweek) twitter acount and he mentioned that the most popular article on today is “Microsoft: Layoffs for Some, Visas for Others:” As recently as Jan. 5, the company posted a policy proposal on President Obama’s transition Web site requesting that the government “remove caps that bar entry into the U.S. by high-skilled immigrants.” Several weeks later, on a Jan. 22 earnings conference call, the company announced plans to...

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