How can management theories guide life decisions?

On the last day of class, Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, asks his students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves to find cogent answers to three questions:

First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?

Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?

Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.

As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.

More at How will you measure your life?

 

 

Discovered in translation

A translator, being obliged by the nature of his task to attend to every single successive phrase of his author, however plain the meaning may seem, and to consider the intelligibility of what he renders to the uninitiated, sometimes discovers points of real difficulty which have escaped even the most thorough commentators, or arrives at fresh solutions of old problems. (source)

Not only in formal translation but also when living in multiple languages. It sometimes helps to think of a situation in a different language.

 

See also: Discovery is not finding new lands, it’s something else

 

What many bosses will not admit in public

They want machines to replace you as soon as possible.

“Few American executives will admit wanting to get rid of human workers, a taboo in today’s age of inequality.  So they’ve come up with a long list of buzzwords and euphemisms to disguise their intent:

Workers aren’t being replaced by machines, they’re being “released” from onerous, repetitive tasks.

Companies aren’t laying off workers, they’re “undergoing digital transformation.”

A 2017 survey by Deloitte found that 53 percent of companies had already started to use machines to perform tasks previously done by humans. The figure is expected to climb to 72 percent by next year”.

Source

Your job might be killing you

There are 120,000 excess deaths per year attributed to ten workplace conditions and they cause approximately $190 billion in incremental health care costs. That makes the workplace the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. — higher than Alzheimer’s, higher than kidney disease.

  1. Being unemployed sometimes as a result of a layoff.
  2. Not having health insurance.
  3. Working shifts and also working longer periods, e.g., ten or twelve-hours shifts.
  4. Working long hours in a week (e.g., more than 40 hours per week).
  5. Job insecurity (resulting from colleagues being laid off or fired).
  6. Facing family-to-work and work-to-family spillover or conflict.
  7. Having relatively low control over one’s job e.g., workload.
  8. Facing high work demands such as pressure to increase productivity and to work quickly.
  9. Being in a work environment that offers low levels of social support (e.g., not having close relationships with co-workers.
  10. Working in a setting in which job- and employment-related decisions seem unfair.

Both articles report the findings published by Jeffrey Pfeffer in Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do About It.

I have not read the book yet, but I definitely will.

What does work flexibility look like?

A meta-analysis of the existing research on flexibility identified the fundamental components:

  • Where we work,
  • When we work, and
  • How predetermined our schedule is.

These component parts lead to six distinct types of flexibility:

  1. Remote: “Work from anywhere” – Remote employees keep standard office hours but are location independent. Their office is wherever they are.
  2. DeskPlus: “Partially office-based” – DeskPlus employees keep standard office hours and are partially location independent.
  3. TravelLite: “Minimal travel requirements” – TravelLite employees have minimal to no travel, with a maximum limit of 10% travel annually.
  4. TimeShift: “Standardly unconventional hours” – TimeShift employees reorder their working hours to create a set but unconventional schedule (outside of 9-5 conventions) that optimizes their productivity and performance.
  5. MicroAgility: “Freedom to adapt” – MicroAgility employees have the autonomy to step away from their work 1-3 hours at a time to accommodate the unexpected.
  6. PartTime: “Reduced workload” – PartTime employees serve in senior-level roles; they have the experience and skills to meet the company objectives on a reduced hours schedule.

Stop mulling over millennials

Millennials want the same things from their employers that Generation X and Baby Boomers do:

  • Challenging, meaningful work;
  • Opportunities for learning, development and advancement;
  • Support to successfully integrate work and personal life;
  • Fair treatment and
  • Competitive compensation.

And all three generations agree on the characteristics of an ideal leader:  a person who

  • Leads by example, is accessible,
  • Acts as a coach and mentor,
  • Helps employees see how their roles contribute to the organization, and
  • Challenges others and holds them accountable.

Full article here.

 

French-German misunderstanding

he was looking for total unification with his beloved, she was after a few aphorisms from the master

Though it does read like the Sarkozy-Merkel marriage of convenience of current EU negotiations, it’s actually about older French writer Cioran and his younger German mistress.

A Romanian immigrant who chose to write in French, Cioran is never an easy read (plenty of darkness and pessimism) but I enjoy his precise prose and his unusual perspective.

Dear user: No, we don’t do that

via Scripting News:

Sometimes you just have to say no to users. No, we don’t do that. If you want that feature feel free to get X, where X is the name of an app that promises to provide the annoying functionality. Especially when there’s such a simple solution to the problem that requires the user basically giving up nothing.

Similarly, sometimes you just have to fire your customer.