Hidden Figures Reveal How To Be A Continuous Learner

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | February 10, 2017learning

The movie Hidden Figures has justifiably won acclaim not only for the story and acting. Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan also depicted the need to keep her skills up to date. She realized her job as a mathematician was likely in jeopardy when NASA installed an early IBM computer. She saw the handwriting on the wall and prepared for her and her staff’s future by learning FORTRAN.    When programmers were needed, she and her staff transitioned seamlessly into new higher paying positions.

We can also be proactive and prepare for our future by:

  1. Scanning and staying alert to trends both in and outside the organization and discipline. If you are a professional driver, what do drones, driverless cars, and automation mean for your job?
  2. Observing trends in your organization. Who was promoted and why were they promoted? What career paths have worked for others? Will greater specialization or general managerial skills be in more demand?
  3. Finding mentors who can serve as reality testing sounding board and source of career guidance. In addition, those outside your chain of command cab share their experience and suggest new paths.
  4. Proposing improvements to existing processes or practices. Displaying initiative and creativity increases visibility, while also expanding your skill set.
  5. Building a professional network as well as a personal network. Join your professional association to learn what skills are being sought. In addition, professional associations have job boards that obtain early identification of opportunities.
  6. Preparing a developmental plan for the next six months. Record your goals and milestones to increases the likelihood they will be accomplished. Update it regularly with your manager.
  7. Seeking honest feedback from peers, managers, customers and direct reports. Feedback not only can reveal our blind spots but it lets others know of your interest in improvement.
  8. Attending developmental special events, seminars, and workshops. Valuable nuggets can be gained from both topic and participant exchanges.
  9. Learning from your mistakes as much as your successes. The only failure is life is not to learn from a disappointment or misstep.
  10. Developing your strategic thinking ability. While daily pressures consume our schedules, we may overlook the importance of planning for our future.

The title, Hidden Figures, refers both to uncovering new space flight data and the racial bias that concealed talented people. And it also reveals the importance of recognizing emerging trends and preparing for our future. After all the future is where we will all be spending the rest of our lives.

First Published by: https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/hidden-figures-reveal-how-to-be-a-continuous-learner/

People Make Up Their Own Minds At Elections And In Organizations

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | January 30, 2017

Winning support requires more than packaged positions and slogans. Building a ground swell or promising does not equate to a strong conviction. Emotions ebb as well as escalate based on personal assessments.

Persuasion tactics such as promising a prosperous outcome, warning of impending disaster, stoking excitement at rallies and calling on loyalty are flawed tactics. People do not blindly accept a message at face value. They scrutinize the content to see whether it is beneficial or not. And, repeating a message over and over again silences dissent but it does not win agreement. Leaders need to shift from employing persuasion tactics to practicing influence. Influence is based on knowing what the audience wants.

Influencing concentrates on the audience’s wishes, rather than what the leader seeks. Addressing audience concerns and struggles fuels enthusiastic support. The 2016 election illustrates the power of influence over persuasion. Donald Trump highlighted supporters concerns and promised to rapidly change deliver on change. Secretary Hillary Clinton’s well-crafted message focused on past accomplishments, her opponent’s weaknesses, her potentially historic candidacy and offered consistency. She misread the desire for jobs and the dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Polished delivery is secondary to delivering a resonating message. To gain committed support a leader must know what is top of mind. Political candidates confront a multitude of factions but focus groups, interviews, feedback and town hall meetings disclose their concerns.

The ability to influence stems from weaving these issues into a compelling message that sways thinking. At times, simultaneously satisfying all concerns is not possible. However, recognizing a viewpoint as valid and agreeing to address it at some point in the future wins support. Breaking the glass ceiling was not as important as boosting employment. Secretary Clinton won the popular vote but her goal was to win the White House.

Leaders need to listen to audience concerns before speaking to them. Knowing what your audience thinks beats charisma and showmanship every time.

First Published at:  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/people-make-up-their-own-minds-at-elections-and-in-organizations/

Preparing For What’s Next: Leveraging Your Company’s Life Cycle

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | December 15, 2016business lifecycle

What are you focusing on now? After a successful launch, entrepreneurs have a choice. They can sit back and continue to do what they have done so far or they can recognize the need to prepare for what comes next. Too often entrepreneurs make the wrong choice to stay the course using the logic “why mess with success.” However there is good reason to refocus based on changing realities. Mark Twain’s comment that even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit there. And we know that 50% of new businesses fail. To ensure sustained success, leaders must adopt a strategic perspective based on industry trends and their organization’s life cycle. Everyone knows the value of using the product or project life cycle and overlook the impact of the organization’s cycle. Learn how to leverage the six organizational stages to seize new opportunities and avoid pitfalls. Here’s my recent Interview on this important topic, as conducted by Marcia Zidle, host of The Business Edge:

Preparing for What’s Next: Leveraging Your Company’s Life Cycle

First Published at:  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/preparing-for-whats-next-leveraging-your-companys-life-cycle/

Distorted Perceptions

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Perception: Disconnects, Distortions and Deficiencies

We often hear that seeing is believing, but should we always believe what we see? Our distorted perceptions can be superficial and unduly influenced by past experiences.  Architects, IT professionals and security personnel can “see” the same office, but what registers and remains with them varies significantly.  We see through our filters.  We select a narrow slice of reality under the guise that we already “know” what is key.  Even if we collect a broad scan, we typically retain only 90% of what we see.

To compound our distorted perceptions problem, what we do retain is not always accurate.  These perceptional deficiencies can be addressed in several ways:

    1. We have a perception deficiency that is best addressed by asking others what they see. Visual allusions, like the one below, illustrate that there are multiple correct views of see the same reality.  Some may focus on the vase, while others see two profiles.  Accepting that there is another point of view increases our ability to understand current realities.perception
    2. We can overcome perceptual distortions by avoiding stereotypes. Generalized judgments gloss over distinctions and offer the false illusion of uniformity. Stereotypes also encourage simplistic thinking and undue confidence that things are under control. Stereotypical labels also reduce the potential for respect. Kierkegaard captured this reality when he stated: “Once you label me, you negate me.”  Labels transform the other person into one of “THEM,” which is an impersonal abstraction. Stereotypes blind us.perception

Perception disconnect are also based on fixed perceptions. Our world is becoming more complex, integrated and agile, and that fixed perceptions limit our ability to collect information and recognize interactions. Holding a fixed or narrow view means that we misapply our perceived knowledge. Convinced that our perceived knowledge we refuse to pivot or adjust our views. Instead of listening we merely seek agreement. When others recognize our stubborn view, they fail to introduce new perspectives since it seems wise not to not “rock the boat.” Fixed views produce overlooked opportunities and alternatives.

We get our eyes examined to ensure that we see clearly.  We must also test our perceptions.  For as Thoreau noted: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  We must continually test our perception before we accept what we see at first glance is all that there is to see.  To paraphrase Pogo:  we have met the enemy and he is us.

Are You Rewarding A While Requiring B?

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Reward SystemsReward systems

I decided on my doctoral thesis topic after reading Steven Kerr’s 1975 article, The Folly of Rewarding A When Hoping for B, in the Academy of Management Journal (volume 18, pps.769-782). In the decades since this published, one might assume that organizations revised their reward systems to match their current strategy. Unfortunately, many have not.

In my consulting work, I still see organizations holding on to outdated metrics and systems. Many still promote individual stars despite needing teamwork. These organizations focus on short-term measures overlooking long-term impact. Despite a desire for openness and transparency, in some organizations providing honest feedback results in your being labeled a “non-team player.” Just as offering innovative ideas in response to requests can either advance or hinder a career. So it should come as no surprise that employees monitor and value actions more than pronouncements.

Check how well your organization’s recognition practices encourage desired outcome to meet current goals by asking the following:

  • Are promotions given to those who have clearly contributed to current strategies? Did a promotion announcement accurately depict the person’s accomplishments?
  • Is there an effective balance between individual and team measures?
  • Have strategic goals been translated from vague terminology into specific outcomes? Are performance metrics tied to today’s desired outcomes?
  • When a mistake occurs is the first question: who is responsible or what can we learn? What happens to those who take a risk but miss the target?
  • Do problems stay hidden until they become a public nightmare?
  • Is communication filtered or massaged before it travels up the chain of command? Are problems and challenges hidden?
  • How quickly is teamwork, outstanding service or initiative recognized?
  • Is reward system re-alignment a key part of the strategic planning process?

The good news is that some companies recognize disconnects within their recognition systems. Proctor and Gamble revised their reward systems to target what they wanted: product line sales growth.

First published: http://bizcatalyst360.com/are-you-rewarding-a-while-requiring-b/#sthash.0IvpmiXI.dpuf

 

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