A list of best practices will not make you a great company

… any more than finding a recipe will make you a great cook.

Bill Bennett reflects on the writings of Alfred North Whitehead on learning. He ends up dismissing the pursuit of “best practices” as secrets to success in favor of a culture of discovery:

  • Design your organization so that it develops new capabilities;
  • Make it your job, as a leader, to help your organization be better at learning;
  • Structure your organization so that your people must engage with important, unsolved problems.
  • Establish routines that allow for failure and reward those who try to discover;
  • Build a culture that values discovering over knowing, becoming over being;
  • Lead by design.

And don’t forget the secret: There is no secret1

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.

 

A new project: the People & Management Monthly Links newsletter

When my friend Xavier took an interest in my master’s thesis he started suggesting books and journal articles that he thought might be useful to my research. Soon thereafter I started doing the same whenever I bumped into something I thought might be useful to his doctoral dissertation (and later to his research and classes).
 
I also began doing this to other friends and colleagues. It had been (and still is) a great experience for me and I wanted others to experience the same.
 
This has been going on for decades now. Of course, paper cuttings and photocopies have become emails with links and attachments.
 
I am thinking it is time to broaden the circle. And that is why I am creating the People & Management Monthly Links newsletter.
 
The content of the newsletter will follow my consultancy practice and intellectual pursuits: leadership development and executive coaching, that is, people managing themselves, others, their team, and their organization.
 
My hope is that as a subscriber to the Monthly Links you will also become a contributor of material that might be interesting to other subscribers. Please send your suggestions by replying to the newsletter email you receive – you can subscribe here.
 
Happy reading!

UK CEO needs to work until 1pm on January 4th, 2019 to earn as much as what average employee earns in the entire year

Friday 4 January 2019 is “Fat Cat” Friday. In just three working days, the UK’s top bosses make more than a typical full-time worker will earn in the entire year, according to calculations from independent think tank the High Pay Centre and the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

The average (median) full-time worker in the UK earns a gross annual salary of £29,574. “Fat Cat” Friday recognises that in 2019 the average FTSE 100 CEO, on an average (median) pay packet of £3.9 million, only needs to work until 1pm on Friday 4 January 2019 to earn the same amount. The £3.9 million figure was calculated by the CIPD and the High Pay Centre in their 2018 analysis of top pay and it marks an 11% increase on the £3.5 million figure reported in their 2017 analysis. The pay increase means that FTSE 100 CEOs, working an average 12-hour day, will only need to work for 29 hours in 2019 to earn the average worker’s annual salary, two hours fewer than in 2018.

The CIPD and High Pay Centre are highlighting the problem of rising executive pay in a new report launched today. The report, RemCo reform: Governing successful organisations that benefit everyone, identifies the shortcomings of the remuneration committees (RemCos) charged with setting executive pay and calls for them to be significantly reformed. In particular, it highlights:

  • the myth of ‘super talent’ as a factor that continues to drive excessive pay with one remuneration committee chair commenting: “It’s nuts… and nuts has become the benchmark”.
  • how there needs to be much greater diversity among those responsible for setting CEO pay, both in terms of their ethnicity and gender, for example, but also their professional backgrounds and expertise in order to combat ‘group think’.
  • how current pay mechanisms contribute to the problem of high pay. In response, the CIPD and High Pay Centre recommend replacing long-term incentive plans (LTIP’s) as the default model for executive remuneration with a less complex system based on a basic salary and a much smaller restricted share award. This would simplify the process of setting executive pay and ensure that pay is more closely aligned to executive performance.

The CIPD and High Pay Centre are calling for RemCos to ensure that CEO pay is aligned more appropriately to rewards across the wider workforce and that their contribution is measured on both financial and non-financial measures of performance.

Whole story here.

The art of the elevator pitch

Carmine Gallo in HBR:

According to molecular biologist John Medina of the University of Washington School of Medicine, the human brain craves meaning before details. When a listener doesn’t understand the overarching idea being presented in a pitch, they have a hard time digesting the information. A logline will help you paint the big picture for your audience.

In Hollywood cinema, one of the greatest loglines of all time belongs to the iconic thriller that kept kids out of the ocean during the summer of 1975:

A police chief, with a phobia for open water, battles a gigantic shark with an appetite for swimmers and boat captains, in spite of a greedy town council who demands that the beach stay open.

What makes it work?

The logline for Jaws identifies the key elements of the story: the hero, his weakness, his conflict, and the hurdles he must overcome — all in one sentence. It depicts the overarching storyline in an interesting, straightforward way, rather than focusing on details that might seem meaningless without the context of the bigger picture.

More here.

Update – november 2018

  • Attended a Ray Lamontagne concert – acoustic, excellent songwriting, material is bluesy and a little dark, great show.
  • Attended a talk by Louise Penny, author of the Inspecteur Gamache novels set in the province of Québec on the border with the state of Vermont – unassuming, funny, great stories, interesting way of mapping out in advance the whole series
  • Watched:
    • the movie Burning (South Korean, won an award at the Cannes Festival and is Korea’s submission at the Oscars) – good storytelling, probably could have done it in 90 minutes rather than two hours;
    • the Netflix series The Mechanism (inspired from a real case in Brazil that I was familiar with) and Narcos Mexico (no real character development);
    • Started last season of House of Cards – won’t finish it (no movement on the plot; too much navel-gazing). I can’t recommend enough the excellent original House of Cards by the BBC.
  • Books:
    • Finished reading Jean Chrétien’s Mes histoires (in French), Dani Shapiro’s memoir Hourglass, and Charles Krauthammer’s Things that matter;
    • I didn’t finish Marilynne Robinson’s What are we doing here? – the topics were attractive but the treatment is laborious and clunky;
    • Currently reading an academic thinkfest on Charles Taylor edited by Ruth Abbey and Amsterdam by Russell Shorto – excellent writing, he really draws you in. A recommendation from my friend Einar while we were visiting him and his family in… Amsterdam. He also recommended The island at the center of the world by the same author.
  • Started an online course on Diego Velazquez offered by Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Pendulum waves. It’s just physics

And you’ll be mesmerized.