Monthly Archives - November 2020

Struggling to Solve a Problem? Try Reframing It.

Struggling to Solve a Problem? Try Reframing It. Experts in problem solving emphasize the importance of deeply understanding the problem before implementing countermeasures. And many cite Charles Kettering’s maxim that “A problem well-framed is a problem half-solved.” But what, precisely, is a “well-framed” problem? I’ve written before about some of the obvious errors to avoid — couching a solution in the form of a problem, and relying on generalities instead of specifics. However, if you’re still struggling to generate effective solutions, [...]

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A Framework for Leaders Facing Difficult Decisions

A Framework for Leaders Facing Difficult Decisions Many decision-making frameworks aim to help leaders use objective information to mitigate bias, operate under time pressure, or leverage data. But these frameworks tend to fall short when it comes to decisions based on subjective information sources that suggest conflicting courses of action. And most complex decisions fall into this category. Specifically, every complex leadership decision must balance three subjective dimensions: 1. Ethics, or context-specific principles around what is acceptable in your organization or society. 2. [...]

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What It Takes to Lead Through an Era of Exponential Change

What It Takes to Lead Through an Era of Exponential Change To say that 2020 is a year of disruption and change is to understate the obvious. Our daily lives, from educating our kids, managing our health, and working from home, to simple social rituals like dinner with friends, underwent rapid multi-dimensional change. Nascent trends — virtualization of the workspace, online learning, virtual health, and e-commerce — accelerated exponentially. Changes anticipated to take years occurred in months and, in some [...]

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How to Develop Your Leadership Style

How to Develop Your Leadership Style Few things are more frustrating for talented professionals than hitting a ceiling in their careers because they lack the appropriate leadership style. A boss senses that something is missing in a person’s tool kit but can’t put a finger on exactly what it is or how the person can improve. The boss says something like “You’re lacking important intangibles” or “You need more gravitas” but fails to provide specific advice or tools for improving. It [...]

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How to Brace Yourself for Disappointment

How to Brace Yourself for Disappointment I can recall many times in my life where I’ve been waiting for big news and was worried that things wouldn’t go my way. There were college and grad school applications. Job interviews. Promotions. Book proposals. And even, yes, elections. I’ve never known the best way to make it through these waiting periods. Often they feel agonizing, my mind vacillating between imagining the best possible outcome and bracing myself for the worst. These are often [...]

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Conquer Your To-Do List with This Simple Hack

Conquer Your To-Do List with This Simple Hack The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us into constant and relentless triage of tasks and assignments. It could be shifting to a remote work experience with our teams, struggling to retain and acquire customers, or ramping up to meet an explosion of demand. And this is only work. On the home front, we continue to navigate a myriad of challenges: trying to stay productive, caring for our loved ones, and doing [...]

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Anyone Can Learn to Be a Better Leader

Anyone Can Learn to Be a Better Leader When you’re an individual contributor, your ability to use your technical expertise to deliver results is paramount. Once you’ve advanced into a leadership role, however, the toolkit that you relied on to deliver individual results rarely equips you to succeed through others. Beware of falling into the logical trap of “if I can do this work well, I should be able to lead a team of people who do this work.” This [...]

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Innovation for Impact

Innovation for Impact In 1998 I became the CEO of SRI International, the famous research center that received the first internet transmission, developed the first AI-based robot, launched the personal computing revolution, and created inventions such as the computer mouse, electronic banking, and robotic surgery. In 1998, though, SRI was on its last legs. At my first off-site meeting, a manager stood up and told me we were not going to grow because we couldn’t. We were broke, our facilities [...]

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