Archive | books

The Parable of the Kid and the Barber

A few years ago I read psychologist Walter Mischel’s book, “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control,” which provides recommendations on how to substantially increase your ability to control your impulses, including: Create good habits Visualize long-term consequences Disassociate from situations so they are less personal This strategy even managed to teach self-control to Sesame Street’s Cookie…

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When Promoting People, Beware the False Record Effect

After writing about several examples of bias from insensitivity to sample size, a former colleague asked whether I thought performance in the workplace was subject to the same bias. She observed that people were sometimes rewarded or even promoted for high performance, even if that performance was sporadic rather than sustained. She asked: Shouldn’t the…

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In Business, Informal Tribes Matter More Than Formal Teams

Not long after I joined my last employer, a colleague provided me with an incredibly important insight on how to get things done. Informal networks, she explained, were much stronger than the official hierarchy. Top-down decisions were usually met with questions which delayed their implementation. On the other hand, powerfully-connected people could implement decisions virally…

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The Red Queen Effect Explains Why You Aren’t Getting Ahead

For much of my career, I’ve argued that people design key performance indicators (KPIs) incorrectly. One of my own favorite blogs made the case that, unless you compare yourself against some external benchmark, you might be making progress towards achieving your KPIs but actually losing ground. Simplistically, if you’re growing by 20% and the market…

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Every company needs a compelling origin story

Every company needs a compelling origin story. An origin story reveals how a character became the protagonist (or antagonist), usually providing a compelling event which explains their intentions or behavior. Comics and movies use origin stories to explain how characters got their superpowers or why they are supervillains. Recently, entertainment companies have rewritten the origins…

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