January 2020 – On disruption, inflection points, what separates winners from losers, and employee emotions

Strategic inflection points are changes that alter the taken-for-granted assumptions underlying a business model—can feel sudden. Andy Grove, who coined the term, said it referred to change that was 10 times more significant than a typical change encountered by a business. The challenge for leaders is: How do you prepare to see an inflection point coming—so you don’t need to make a last-second turn? And how do you bring the organization along into the post-inflection point world?

  1. Challenge your assumptions. You need protocols to do this continuously;
  2. Learn from the edges of the organizations where changes are just beginning to bubble up. You have to spend time there; and
  3. Once identified, experiment with ways to benefit. Make small bets. (Fortune)


Guess what? We go to libraries more often than movies. Gallup found that in 2019, movie attendance didn’t even come close to library visits.


Research: people receive more effective input when they ask for advice rather than feedback. (HBS)


A scientist who helped to develop a new drug for ovarian cancer has donated her share of the profits to a charity. Says Nicola Curtin: “I’m a professor, I’m married to an engineer. We both struggle to spend what we earn, to be honest. We’ve got pretty modest lifestyles. I’m not a great one for gadgets because I don’t understand how to work them.”


Research: What ultimately separates the winners from the losers is not persistence. It turns out that trying again and again only works if you learn from your previous failures. And there is something else: the time between consecutive failed attempts should decrease steadily. In other words, the faster you fail, the better your chances of success, and the more time between attempts, the more likely you are to fail again. (Nature)


Top 10 emerging technologies of 2019 per Scientific American.


Pushan Dutt thinks that the recent Business Roundtable’s new Purpose of a Corporation statement (to benefit all stakeholders) might be seen as mere virtue signalling that engenders further cynicism. He thinks businesses would be better served by being more modest in their intentions and following a corporate version of the Hippocratic Oath:

  1. Do no evil. Evil includes facilitating interference in elections, cheating on emission tests, enabling money laundering, paying bribes, forming cartels or tolerating unsafe workplaces.
  2. Pay taxes and adhere to laws and regulations. When laws are murky and compliance optional, default to point 1.
  3. Avoid interfering in politics. Cease lobbying for preferential treatment; at the very least disclose all political donations.
  4. Do not deny science. And do not run misinformation campaigns that undermine science to benefit your bottom line.
  5. Focus on core competencies and embrace competition.
  6. Ensure that stakeholders are represented in your governance structures.
  7. Address inequality at home. Disclose wages, bonuses and pay ratios by skill level and by gender in your organisation.

Such an approach can help restore faith in corporations, protect their brands and reputations, avoid accusations of hypocrisy, while focusing firms’ attention on what they truly do best – making widgets. (INSEAD)


Employee emotions are not noise, they’re data. Companies that want more satisfied employees and stronger performance need to invest in understanding what motivates people in their work lives and pay attention to the emotional side of organizational culture. (MIT)



Work: Back on the road coaching and facilitating.

Writing: Working on a book. Posting more assiduously on my blog.

Music: Here is an inexpensive trick if you are in need of some musical expression, search for “backing track” videos. The results open to a world of possibilities and exploration. Enjoy!

Films: on the plane – Fiddler: a miracle of miracles, Tolkein, Luce, and Toni Morrison: the pieces I am.

Finished reading: The answer to how is yes by Peter Block.

Now reading: So far from home by Margaret J. Wheatley.

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