The trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.
Only after you understand the relative importance of all the underlying assumptions should you green-light the team—but not in the way that most companies tend to do. Instead, find ways to quickly, and with as little expense as possible, test the validity of the most important assumptions.
my note: MVP
Before you take a job, carefully list what things others are going to need to do or to deliver in order for you to successfully achieve what you hope to do. Ask yourself: “What are the assumptions that have to prove true in order for me to be able to succeed in this assignment?” List them. Are they within your control?
Change can often be difficult, and it will probably seem easier to just stick with what you are already doing. That thinking can be dangerous. You’re only kicking the can down the road, and you risk waking up one day, years later, looking into the mirror, asking yourself: “What am I doing with my life?”
my note: cliché
Often even more perplexing, however, is when these problems arise within the mind of the same person: when the right decision for the long term makes no sense for the short term; when the wrong customer to call on is actually the right customer to call on; and when the most important product to sell makes little sense to sell at all.
my note: marketing versus sales. different product lines.
To illustrate how pervasive the innovator’s dilemma is between short- and long-term options, let’s examine another oft-emulated company, Unilever, one of the world’s largest providers of products in foods, personal care, and laundry and cleaning. In order to grow, Unilever has invested billions of dollars to create breakthrough innovations that will produce significant new growth business for the corporation. In baseball terms, however, instead of exciting new “home run” products, its innovators often produce instead bunts and singles—year after year. Why? After studying their efforts for over a decade, I concluded that the reason is that Unilever (and many corporations like them) inadvertently teach their best employees to hit only bunts and singles. Its senior executives every year identify next-generation leaders (high-potential leaders, or “HPLs”) from their worldwide operations. To train this cadre so that as senior executives they will be able to move around the globe from one assignment to the next with aplomb, they cycle the HPLs through assignments of eighteen months to two years in every functional group—finance, operations, sales, HR, marketing, and so on—in a sampling of products and markets. As they finish each assignment, the quality of the work they have completed typically determines the prominence of the next assignment they receive. HPLs who log a series of successful assignments “earn” the best subsequent assignments, and are more likely to become the company’s next senior executives. Think about this from the perspective of the young employees, all of whom were thrilled to be picked for this development program. What projects are they most likely to covet, in each of their assignments? In theory, they should champion products and processes that will be key to Unilever’s future success five and ten years ahead. But the results of those efforts, only available many years later, will garnish the record of whoever is in that specific assignment at that time—not the person whose insight initiated it. If, instead, the HPLs focus on delivering results they know can be seen and measured within twenty-four months—even if that method isn’t the best approach—they know that the people running the program will be able to assess their contribution to a completed project. As long as they have something to show for their efforts, they know they’ll have a shot at an even better next assignment. The system rewards tomorrow’s senior executives for being decidedly focused on the short term—inadvertently undermining the company’s goals.
my note : management trainee. assignment. (2 years span, short period)
Each of us can point to one or two friendships we’ve unintentionally neglected when life got busy. You might be hoping that the bonds of your friendship are strong enough to endure such neglect, but that’s seldom the case. Even the most committed friends will attempt to stay the course for only so long before they choose to invest their own time, energy, and friendship somewhere else. If they do, the loss will be yours.
my note : true
There’s significant research emerging that demonstrates just how important the earliest months of life are to the development of intellectual capacity. As recounted in our book Disrupting Class, two researchers, Todd Risley and Betty Hart, studied the effects of how parents talk to a child during the first two and a half years of life. After meticulously observing and recording all of the interactions between parent and child, they noticed that on average, parents speak 1,500 words per hour to their infant children. “Talkative” (often college-educated) parents spoke 2,100 words to their child, on average. By contrast, parents from less verbal (and often less-educated) backgrounds spoke only 600 per hour, on average. If you add that up over the first thirty months, the child of “talkative” parents heard an estimated 48 million words spoken, compared to the disadvantaged child, who heard only 13 million. The most important time for the children to hear the words, the research suggests, is the first year of life. Risley and Hart’s research followed the children they studied as they progressed through school. The number of words spoken to a child had a strong correlation between the number of words that they heard in their first thirty months and their performance on vocabulary and reading comprehension tests as they got older. And it didn’t matter that just any words were spoken to a child—the way a parent spoke to a child had a significant effect. The researchers observed two different types of conversations between parents and infants. One type they dubbed “business language”—such as, “Time for a nap,” “Let’s go for a ride,” and “Finish your milk.” Such conversations were simple and direct, not rich and complex. Risley and Hart concluded that these types of conversations had limited effect on cognitive development. In contrast, when parents engaged in face-to-face conversation with the child—speaking in fully adult, sophisticated language as if the child could be part of a chatty, grown-up conversation—the impact on cognitive development was enormous. These richer interactions they called “language dancing.” Language dancing is being chatty, thinking aloud, and commenting on what the child is doing and what the parent is doing or planning to do. “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt today?” “Do you think it will rain today?” “Do you remember the time I put your bottle in the oven by mistake?” and so on. Language dancing involves talking to the child about “what if,” and “do you remember,” and “wouldn’t it be nice if”—questions that invite the child to think deeply about what is happening around him. And it has a profound effect long before a parent might actually expect a child to understand what is being asked. In short, when a parent engages in extra talk, many, many more of the synaptic pathways in the child’s brain are exercised and refined. Synapses are the junctions in the brain where a signal is transmitted from one nerve cell to another. In simple terms, the more pathways that are created between synapses in the brain, the more efficiently connections are formed. This makes the subsequent patterns of thought easier and faster.
my note : talk more to your baby does help
There is no way that we can motivate children to work harder in class by convincing them that they should do this. Rather, we need to offer children experiences in school that help them do these jobs—to feel successful and do it with friends. Schools that have designed their curriculum so that students feel success every day see rates of dropping out and absenteeism fall to nearly zero. When structured to do the job of success, students eagerly master difficult material—because in doing so, they are getting the job done.
my note : similar to observation from "Habit" book
It’s easy for any of us to make assumptions about what our spouse might want, rather than work hard to understand the job to be done in our spouse’s life.
my note : true
Just then, it became clear to Scott what had happened. Indeed, what he did was important to get done, and he was trying to be selfless in giving Barbara exactly what he thought she needed. Barbara explained, however, that the day hadn’t been difficult because of the chores. It was difficult because she had spent hours and hours with small, demanding children, and she hadn’t spoken to another adult all day. What she needed most at that time was a real conversation with an adult who cared about her. By doing what he did, he only made Barbara feel guilty and angry about her frustration.
my note: girls need to be listened to
This may sound counterintuitive, but I deeply believe that the path to happiness in a relationship is not just about finding someone who you think is going to make you happy. Rather, the reverse is equally true: the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.
my note: true
Resources are what he uses to do it, processes are how he does it, and priorities are why he does it
my note: true
I worry a lot that many, many parents are doing to their children what Dell did to its personal-computing business—removing the circumstances in which they can develop processes.
my note: don't outsource all of your children task (the same way Dell outsourced all of their PC business line to Asus)
When these other intentions start creeping in, and parents seem to be carting their children around to an endless array of activities in which the kids are not truly engaged, it should start to raise red flags. Are the children developing from these experiences the deep, important processes such as teamwork, entrepreneurship, and learning the value of preparation? Or are they just going along for the ride? When we so heavily focus on providing our children with resources, we need to ask ourselves a new set of questions: Has my child developed the skill to develop better skills? The knowledge to develop deeper knowledge? The experience to learn from his experiences? These are the critical differences between resources and processes in our children’s minds and hearts—and, I fear, the unanticipated residual of outsourcing.
my note: ask children to learn so much but they might not learn enough skill from that
I’m not advocating throwing kids straight into the deep end to see whether they can swim. Instead, it’s a case of starting early to find simple problems for them to solve on their own, problems that can help them build their processes—and a healthy self-esteem. As I look back on my own life, I recognize that some of the greatest gifts I received from my parents stemmed not from what they did for me—but rather from what they didn’t do for me.
my note: I seem to lack this
Children need to do more than learn new skills. The theory of capabilities suggests they need to be challenged. They need to solve hard problems. They need to develop values. When you find yourself providing more and more experiences that are not giving children an opportunity to be deeply engaged, you are not equipping them with the processes they need to succeed in the future. And if you find yourself handing your children over to other people to give them all these experiences—outsourcing—you are, in fact, losing valuable opportunities to help nurture and develop them into the kind of adults you respect and admire. Children will learn when they’re ready to learn, not when you’re ready to teach them; if you are not with them as they encounter challenges in their lives, then you are missing important opportunities to shape their priorities—and their lives.
my note: true
While Wolfe’s fighter pilots may indeed have been the best of the best, McCall’s theory gives a causal explanation of why. It wasn’t because they were born with superior skills. Instead, it was because they had honed them along the way, by having experiences that taught them how to deal with setbacks or extreme stress in high-stakes situations.
my note: deal with stress is critical, I need more of this
Through the lens of McCall’s theory, it begins to make sense why. While Pandesic’s senior management team had stellar résumés, not one of them had experience launching a new venture. None of them knew how to adjust a strategy when the first one didn’t work. None had had to figure out how to make a brand-new product profitable before growing it big. The Pandesic team had been used to running orderly, well-resourced initiatives for their respective world-class companies. What Intel and SAP had done was handpick a team that could run an equivalent of either of the giants, but not a start-up. The team members hadn’t been to the right school to create and drive a new-growth project.
my note: different in running a well-established business (MNC) versys running a new-founded business (startup)
One of the CEOs I have most admired, Nolan Archibald, has spoken to my students on this theory. Archibald has had a stellar career, including having been the youngest-ever CEO of a Fortune 500 company—Black & Decker. After he retired, he discussed with my students how he’d managed his career. What he described was not all of the steps on his résumé, but rather why he took them. Though he didn’t use this language, he built his career by registering for specific courses in the schools of experience. Archibald had a clear goal in mind when he graduated from college—he wanted to become CEO of a successful company. But instead of setting out on what most people thought would be the “right,” prestigious stepping-stone jobs to get there, he asked himself: “What are all the experiences and problems that I have to learn about and master so that what comes out at the other end is somebody who is ready and capable of becoming a successful CEO?”
my note: interesting, most of the people might just pick jobs based on C&B or popularity of the company
This can be difficult for parents to do. So much of our society’s culture is focused on trying to build self-esteem in children by never letting them lose a game, giving them accolades simply for trying their best, and constantly receiving feedback from teachers or coaches that never requires them to think about whether they can do better. From a very young age, many of our children who participate in sports come to expect medals, trophies, or ribbons at the end of a season—simply for participating. Those medals and awards end up in a pile in a corner of their bedroom over the years and quickly become meaningless to those kids. They haven’t really learned anything from them. In some ways, the awards are really for the parents—it is often we who get the most out of seeing the accumulation of medals and ribbons. It sure feels better to congratulate our kids on their achievements than it does to console them for a tough failure. In fact, it’s very tempting for many parents to step in to ensure that their child is always succeeding. But what are they getting from that?
my note: American versus HK movies. American movies always have happy ending.
Culture in any organization is formed through repetition. That way of doing things becomes the group’s culture.
You can tell the health of a company’s culture by asking, “When faced with a choice on how to do something, did employees make the decision that the culture ‘wanted’ them to make? And was the feedback they received consistent with that?” If these elements aren’t actively managed, then a single wrong decision or wrong outcome can quite easily send a firm’s culture down entirely the wrong path.
my note: culture is not motivational posters
If you want your family to have a culture of kindness, then the first time one of your kids approaches a problem where kindness is an option—help him choose it, and then help him succeed through kindness. Or if he doesn’t choose it, call him on it and explain why he should have chosen differently.
my note: habit
You need to be sure that when you ask your children to do something, or tell your spouse you’re going to do something, you hold to that and follow through. It sounds obvious; most of us want to try to be consistent. But in the pressures of day-to-day living, that can be tough. There will be many days when enforcing the rules is harder on a parent than it is on a child. With good intentions, many exhausted parents find it too difficult to stay consistent with their rules early on—and inadvertently, they allow a culture of laziness or defiance to creep into their family.
my note: walk the talk. much easier said than done
The answer is in the theory of marginal versus full costs. Every time an executive in an established company needs to make an investment decision, there are two alternatives on the menu. The first is the full cost of making something completely new. The second is to leverage what already exists, so that you only need to incur the marginal cost and revenue. Almost always, the marginal-cost argument overwhelms the full-cost. For the entrant, in contrast, there is no marginal-cost item on the menu. If it makes sense, then you do the full-cost alternative. Because they are new to the scene, in fact, the full cost is the marginal cost. When there is competition, and this theory causes established companies to continue to use what they already have in place, they pay far more than the full cost—because the company loses its competitiveness. As Henry Ford once put it, “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don’t have it.” Thinking on a marginal basis can be very, very dangerous.
Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be. That instinct to just use the marginal costs hides from us the true cost of our actions.
my note: true for so many things. eat (just 1 more coke) or relationship (just 1 quarrel doesn't matter)
If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal-cost analysis, you’ll regret where you end up. That’s the lesson I learned: it’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time. The boundary—your personal moral line—is powerful, because you don’t cross it; if you have justified doing it once, there’s nothing to stop you doing it again.
I recognized that I had come to a fork in the road. I could try to hide my problems, retreat from the world, and focus on myself. Or I could change paths. I resolved that I needed to refocus on expending as much of my cognitive and physical capacity as possible on what I knew to be my purpose. And as I did that—focusing on resolving others’ challenges rather than my own—the despair fled, and I felt happy again.
my note: focus on the world rather than your pain