Category Archives: Book review

Trump’s lies corrode democracy

By James Pfiffner – Previous research has demonstrated that most modern presidents have told lies for a variety of reasons, from legitimate lies concerning national security, to trivial misstatements, to shading the truth, to avoiding embarrassment, to serious lies of policy deception. However, when a president continues to insist that his previous false statements are true, the institutions of government become corroded and democracy is undermined.

Of course, many of Trump’s lies are “conventional” lies similar to those that politicians often tell in order to look good or avoid blame. But the number of these types of lies by Trump vastly exceeds the lies of previous presidents. Glen Kessler of the Washington Post compiled a list of more than 2000 misleading or false statements in Trump’s first 355 days in office.

But aside from volume, Trump’s lies differed significantly from those of previous presidents. Some of his most frequent lies are bragging about his achievements in ways that are demonstrably untrue and contrary to well-known and accepted facts.

Trump’s refusal to admit the truth of widely accepted facts corrodes political discourse and is consistent with the practice of many authoritarian leaders. If there are no agreed upon facts, then it becomes impossible for people to make judgments about their government or hold it accountable. more>

This Copyright Dispute Is at the Center of an Education Policy Controversy

By Lindsey Tepe – It’s important to understand how several New York school districts ended up in the center of a copyright infringement lawsuit in the first place. In a way, the conflict between Great Minds and FedEx was set in motion seven years ago, when the state of New York adopted new, more challenging academic standards in English language arts (ELA) and math.

To help educators master the new standards, the state undertook an ambitious new project to build an online library of educational resources aligned with those standards. Using a piece of the state’s $700 million federal Race to the Top grant, state leaders requested proposals from curriculum writers across the country interested in developing these resources for every grade level.

States and school districts are rapidly adopting these curricula because of their quality, but need to more fully understand what they can and can’t do with materials.

As more open curriculum options are published across the country, states, districts, and publishers need to make sure that they fully understand copyright, and the terms of the content licenses. It’s good for students when adults share. That’s beyond question. But it’s bad if the adults can’t agree on, or don’t know, the terms of that sharing. more>

Transparent Digital Transformations Mitigate Risk, Aid Business Objectivity

NEC – Digital Transformation occurs in two ways. Firstly, organizations implement incremental improvements that help parts of the organization to better perform their fundamental business tasks.

Secondly, the organization completely changes the way it does business—by adjusting its business model or taking advantage of new markets or products—which has the potential to transform the industry and disrupt several others.

There are extremely serious consequences if digital transformations are not properly managed. Problems generally occur when organizations fixate on specific technologies or attempt to reach the ‘transformed’ state without fully understanding their existing digital landscape. This results in wastefulness, duplication, delays and worse.

The foundation of a successful digital transformation is a comprehensive understanding of your current digital landscape and a self-assessment of how prepared you are to face the challenge.

Like many powerful concepts, successful execution is almost impossible to achieve until enabling technology is invented. So, some twenty years after initial attempts, it is now possible to safely and effectively consume innovation as part of the digital transformation journey, instead of being compelled to become more innovative.

Innovation is best accessed from a vibrant vendor marketplace, yet current procurement practices, involving outsourcing, panels and tendering, have failed to leverage the quantum of technological innovation available whilst simultaneously managing risk.

In this model the ‘governance layer’ is placed on the vendor as opposed to the solution. Tendering processes can stifle innovation through proscription and new approaches are discouraged due to the lack of reference-ability.

Are government organizations better placed to learn how to more effectively consume innovation than become innovative?

Government leaders should identify, mitigate and eliminate blockages and friction through the refinement of the governance model and business processes. There is much that sustaining innovation can achieve in this regard. Importantly, an organization can and should become better at consuming innovation to manage downside risks.

What to do, if you’re a leading player in a radically changing
market?

“Found or acquire a subsidiary company with the right values and processes, equip it with the necessary resources, then let it do its thing.” more (pdf)>

Escape the echo chamber

By C Thi Nguyen – Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry.

Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention.

An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side.

An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

Luckily, though, epistemic bubbles are easily shattered. We can pop an epistemic bubble simply by exposing its members to the information and arguments that they’ve missed. But echo chambers are a far more pernicious and robust phenomenon. more>

Reinventing And Humanizing Management: How Agile And Beyond Budgeting Have Converged

By Steve Denning – “What is required in today’s creative economy,” wrote Gary Hamel recently, “is a radical rethink of our top-down, tradition-encrusted management principles and processes. The challenge: building organizations that are as innovative as they are efficient, as passion-filled as they are pragmatic… This is not merely about implementing a new practice, process or structure. Instead, we have to start with a new set of management principles.”

The Agile movement began in software development, while the Beyond Budgeting (BB) movement started from a re-think of budgeting principles. What’s interesting is to see how far these two movements, which had such radically different origins, have steadily converged.

The purpose of the Beyond Budgeting movement is not necessarily to get rid of budgets. The purpose is to create these organizations that are more adaptive, more human, call it more agile. In order to do that, we need to change traditional management.

At the core of traditional management, you find the budgeting process and the budgeting mindset. So the budget is “the elephant in the room.” An organization can never be truly agile unless you also address that mindset, and that process. It is necessary but not sufficient. more>

Creating Shared Value (CSV)

Operationalizing CSV Beyond The Firm

BOOK REVIEW

How to Fix Capitalism and Unleash a New Wave of Growth, Authors: Michael E. Porter, Mark Kramer.

By Henning Meyer – Under the CSV concept, firms participate in different markets to create social and economic value but Porter and Kramer do not analyse the nature of markets nor do they provide any explanation for how the creation of social value via market mechanisms is necessarily rooted in the social nature of markets themselves.

The standard neoclassical model of transactional markets that are driven by purely rational players is an ideal type in Max Weber’s sense, i.e. an abstract model not to be found in this pure form. Any approach assuming the creation of social value by market mechanisms, however, should provide a deeper understanding of the social nature of markets themselves. This is a crucial backdrop to defining, creating and measuring social value: it is dependent on this context.

On this basis, in a further step, it is vital to develop an understanding of public policy and the government’s role in markets. Public policy’s character is not limited to basic regulation and market-fixing where market mechanisms left to themselves would produce externalities.

Government policy, moreover, aims at market creation and incentive shaping. Understanding the interplay between companies and governments in markets that themselves are social in nature is therefore fundamentally important to understand social value and to move beyond the narrow organzational focus of Porter and Kramer. On this basis, in addition to the three operational dimensions within firms that Porter and Kramer describe, CSV can be more broadly operationalized using a corporate diplomacy approach and the tools of non-market strategy to provide a more holistic and comprehensive view of the CSV process.

There has been significant criticism undermining the academic credibility
of CSV and the way in which Porter and Kramer present their work. In essence, these criticisms refer to the originality of CSV as well as the concept being superficial about a company’s role in society and naïve about the trade-offs between social and economic goals and business compliance.

There is also a question about shared value itself. It is clear what the economic value part of shared value is: a better bottom line for corporations. But beyond the obvious win-win situations, what is social value and how does one define and measure it?

What are the trade-offs involved? (pdf) more>

The Fifth Question For BRAVE Leaders: What Impact?

By George Bradt – Environment, values, attitude and relationships all inform behaviors and what impact you and your team make.

Ultimately, you lead with your feet, with what you do, more than with what you say. So focus everything and everyone on those few behaviors with the greatest impact.

Make a plan, identifying your needs and concerns and the other party’s. Get started with areas of agreement. Clarity positions, stating, supporting, listening. Find alternatives.

Gain agreement by studying proposals, making concessions, summarizing and testing. Implement, communicating, delivering and monitoring.

Work through the steps of AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) Broadly build awareness. Engage in conversations with those interested. Jump in with both feet once someone has a real desire.

And then follow through to over deliver once they act. more>

How to Win When You’re Under Attack in a Meeting

BOOK REVIEW

Just Listen, Author: Mark Goulston.

By Art Petty – For high-stakes topics involving strategy and investments, you’re in competition with others for attention and resources, and not everyone wants you to win. When faced with a direct or passive-aggressive attack on your ideas and character, your response speaks volumes about your maturity and leadership to everyone involved.

Learn to navigate meeting room confrontations with diplomacy, grace, and a good bit of psychology, and you will go far.

For all sorts of good reasons, we’re wired as humans to quickly recognize dangerous situations and respond accordingly. Our brains shift precious resources away from the slower, smaller processing center and trigger a flood of chemicals preparing us for fight or flight. Drunk with adrenaline, we’re apt to either lash out or look for the first exit, including shrinking and withdrawing.

Dr. Goulston suggests we run through a simple mantra that allows us to derail the amygdala hijack and maintain our presence of mind.

Your goal is to gain a few precious seconds and work your reboot process. more>

How To Improve Results With The Right Frequency Of Monitoring

By George Bradt – Most understand the need to follow up and monitor progress on a theoretical level. Yet there are few guidelines to how frequently you should do that. Let me suggest that varies by the nature of what you’re monitoring, ranging from daily or even more frequently for tasks to annually for strategic plans.

Ben Harkin discussed the value of monitoring and reporting in the Psychological Journal. His headline is “Frequently Monitoring Progress Toward Goals Increases Chance of Success” – especially if you make the results public. While he was more focused on personal habits and goals, the findings are applicable to organizational behavior as well.

Here’s my current best thinking on the right frequency of monitoring. The main discriminant is the nature of the work and level of people doing the work with tighter, more frequent monitoring of tactical efforts and looser, less frequent monitoring of more strategic efforts.

  • Daily or more frequently – Tasks
  • Weekly – Projects
  • Monthly – Programs
  • Quarterly – Business Reviews, adjustments
  • Annually – Strategic/Organizational/Operational processes

more>

The People vs. Democracy?

BOOK REVIEW

What is Populism?, Author: Jan-Werner Mueller.

By Jan-Werner Mueller – The election result in Italy, where populists and far-right parties topped the polls, following the twin disasters of Brexit in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump’s election in the United States, seems certain to harden a common liberal belief: the people brought these calamities on themselves. “Ordinary citizens,” according to this view, are so irrational and ill-informed that they make terrible choices.

Such diagnoses are deeply mistaken. By focusing on individual citizens’ beliefs, they miss the structural reasons for today’s threats to democracy. As a result, they are also bound to yield the wrong practical lessons. If one really believes voters are incompetent or illiberal, the obvious next step is to take even more decision-making power away from them.

The problem starts when citizens view every issue purely as a matter of partisan identity, so that the credibility of climate science, for example, depends on whether one is a Republican or a Democrat. It gets worse when partisan identity becomes so strong that no arguments from or about the legitimacy of the other side ever get through.

Trump was not elected as the candidate of a grassroots movement of globalization’s angry white losers, but as the leader of an establishment party. Long before Trump, that party – and its cheerleaders in the right-wing media – had started to demonize its opponents and effectively told its followers that they could never opt for “European-style socialists” and other un-American abominations under any circumstances. Thus, Republicans who readily admitted that Trump was not qualified to be president voted for him anyway.

In the US, polarization is not an objective reflection of given cultural differences; it has at least partly been a conscious elite project to divide the country for political advantage and sometimes even personal profit. more>