Imagine yourself at a restaurant, trying to decide between two desserts: a chocolate cake and a fruit bowl. You’ve been trying to eat healthier, but the cake just sounds so tasty… What do you do? As it turns out, your decision is likely to be influenced by how busy you perceive yourself to be. Researchers have found that mere perception of oneself as a busy person — what we call a busy mindset — can actually increase people’s self-control, via a boost in self-importance. In other words, a busy mindset may make you more likely to choose the fruit bowl. The findings have implications for marketers targeting busy consumers and for policy makers and consumers interested in fostering self-control.
The U.S. Navy operates on the front lines of climate change. It manages tens of billions of dollars of assets on every continent and on every ocean, which take many years to design and build and then have decades of useful life. This means that it needs to understand now what sorts of missions it may be required to perform in 10, 20, or 30 years and what assets and infrastructure it will need to carry them out. Put another way, it needs to plan for the world that will exist at that time.
The navy is clear-eyed about the challenges climate change poses. It knows that the effects of a warmer world will expand the geographic scope of its mission and increase demand for its military and humanitarian services. Climate change will also decrease its capacity to deliver those services, as the risk of damage to its bases and ports increases.
This article examines the navy’s approach to climate change and reflects on the implications for business.
New research on the meaning of work shows that more than 9 out of 10 employees are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Across age and salary groups, workers want meaningful work badly enough that they’re willing to pay for it. The trillion dollar question, then, was just how much is meaning worth to the individual employee? If you could find a job that offered you consistent meaning, how much of your current salary would you be willing to forego to do it? On average, the research pool of American workers said they’d be willing to forego 23% of their entire future lifetime earnings in order to have a job that was always meaningful. To put this figure in perspective, consider that Americans spend about 21% of their incomes on housing. Given that people are willing to spend more on meaningful work than on putting a roof over their heads, the 21st century list of essentials might be due for an update: “food, clothing, shelter — and...
- Andrew McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, explains how the U.S. economy is growing and actually using less and less stuff to do so. Thanks to new technologies, many advanced economies are reducing their use of timber, metals, fertilizer, and other resources. McAfee says this dematerialization trend is spreading to other parts of the globe. While it’s not happening fast enough to stop climate change, he believes it offers some hope for environmental protection when combined with effective public policy. McAfee is the author of the book “More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources—and What Happens Next.”
Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Rather than allowing distractions to derail you, choose where you direct your attention at any given moment, based on an understanding of your priorities and goals. To do this, you need to control external factors like technology (turn off that phone!) and the environment (keep those interrupting colleagues away!). But you also need to learn to control internal factors, like your own behavior and thoughts. Learning to practice attention management won’t eliminate all distractions from your day, but it will give you more control over how you spend your time — and your life.
Many speculate that the trucking industry will see a widespread loss of jobs with the rise of self-driving technology. Some have forecast that autonomous vehicles will eliminate 2-3 million trucking jobs over the next several years. But in looking at the data, researchers believe these projections are overstated for three key reasons: 1) Truck drivers do more than drive trucks. 2) Full automation of truck driving is far into the future. 3) There aren’t as many truck drivers in the U.S. as people think.
The idea of hiring for culture fit has become controversial. But research suggests it need not be. Most of the controversy boils down to a single key issue: the wrong definition of culture fit. This has given rise to a number of common misconceptions about how culture fit affects diversity and innovation. Clearing these up can help managers measure culture fit correctly and improve their talent strategies.
Climate changes strikes at the very core of health systems whose mission is to keep people healthy. They are also affected financially and structurally by the rising frequency of extreme weather events, and they are major contributors to carbon emissions. On all fronts, health care systems are on the front lines of climate change. We spoke with leaders at four major U.S. health systems — Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Boston Medical Center (BMC), and Partners Healthcare — that are tackling climate change by making their facilities carbon neutral between 2020 and 2027 while building climate resiliency, expanding their operations, tending to the bottom line, and providing excellent health care. Each of them are working in four arenas: they view climate change action as central to their missions, they are rethinking how they use power and where it comes from, they are building resilient structures when given an opportunity to rebuild, or adding resiliency features when...
Many people mistakenly believe that people are born learners, or they’re not. However, a growing body of research shows that learning is a learned behavior. Through the deliberate use of dedicated strategies, we can all develop expertise faster and more effectively. There are three practical strategies for this, starting with organization. Effective learning often boils down to a type of project management. In order to develop an area of expertise, we first have to set achievable goals about what we want to learn and then develop strategies to reach those goals. Another practical method is thinking about thinking. Also known as metacognition, this is akin to asking yourself questions like “Do I really get this idea? Could I explain it to a friend?” Finally, reflection is a third practical way to improve your ability to learn. In short, we can all learn to become a better study.
Thanks to longer, healthier lives, human beings face more life transitions than ever before. No matter what age or stage you’re at, transitioning is a skill to work on. To do this, focus on four component skills. First, pacing and planning. Longevity means that, more than ever, we need to plan for change. Think of your life as a series of seven-year cycles. How do you want to spend them? Second, leaving gracefully. There comes a time in jobs, life phases, or relationships where you know an arc has reached its end. Knowing how to end well will become an increasingly valuable skill. Third, letting “the inside out.” Self-knowledge is a hard-won reward of aging. As you get to know yourself better, how do you want to spend your time? Fourth, letting “the outside in.” In other words, before you make a major transition, test it out and get some feedback from the world. Is this new thing what you thought it would be? And finally, learn to take the leap, because thinking...
Even the most confident speakers find ways to distance themselves from their audience. It’s how our brains are programmed, so how can we overcome it? Human generosity. The key to calming the amygdala and disarming our panic button is to turn the focus away from ourselves — away from whether we will mess up or whether the audience will like us — and toward helping the audience. Showing kindness and generosity to others has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which has the power to calm the fight-or-flight response. When we are kind to others, we tend to feel calmer and less stressed. The same principle applies in speaking. When we approach speaking with a spirit of generosity, we counteract the sensation of being under attack and we feel less nervous.
Experts have long encouraged people to “play to their strengths.” But based on my observations, this is easier said than done, because we often undervalue what we inherently do well. As a leader, the challenge is not only to spot talent but also to convince your people that you value their talents and that they should, too. Begin by identifying the strengths of each member of your team. You might ask them, “What compliments do you tend to dismiss?” since people often downplay what they do most easily. Once you’ve identified their key strengths, ask them, “Are you doing work that draws on your strengths? Are we taking on projects that make the most of your strengths?” If the answer is no, reassign people to new roles where their strengths will be put to better use.
Envy is often born out of deep feelings of inadequacy. We resent the people we feel inferior to for what they have, what we want, or what we feel we deserve. We also tend to dislike ourselves for having these feelings in the first place. In an attempt to combat our emotions, we draw self-gratifying comparisons. Though human, when leaders behave in this way, they create a culture in which putting others down builds themselves up. Such cultures can be incredibly destructive. To create cultures of cohesion, trust, and openness, leaders must identify and address their own feelings of inadequacy the moment they are triggered. The next time you feel inferior to the achievements or privileges of others, ask yourself, “What do they have that makes me feel less than them? What void do I believe having it would fill? What do I believe would happen if they didn’t have it?” Once you identify the root of your emotions, you can change them.
Companies that introduce sustainable offerings face a frustrating paradox: Most consumers report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products and services, but they often seem unwilling to follow through with their wallets. The authors have been studying how to encourage sustainable consumption for several years, performing their own experiments and reviewing research in marketing, economics, and psychology.
The good news is that academics have learned much about how to align consumers’ behaviors with their stated preferences. Synthesizing these insights, the authors identify five approaches for companies to consider: use social influence, shape good habits, leverage the domino effect, talk to the heart or the brain, and favor experiences over ownership.
Gender pay equity has become a big point of contention at many companies. But the most common approaches for identifying a pay gap and resolving it are full of pitfalls for the unwary. That’s because it’s a tall order: you have to calculate the gap the right way and figure out how to fix it without ballooning your wage bill, all while truly helping underpaid women, maintaining your incentive structure, and avoiding the creation of new legal liabilities. The authors have extensively researched the most common ways companies try to fix a pay gap – and how these fail or cause other problems. They’ve found that closing a gender gap without regard to cost effectiveness can be prohibitively expensive; however, only focusing on cost (as many managers do) creates more problems than it solves. They suggest first identifying which employees are contributing the most to the gender pay gap at your firm, and then allocating raises as efficiently as possible to close the gap — while working...
Companies may seek to establish a clear identity by consolidating the brand portfolio. Although this often ends badly because customers of the discontinued brands may decamp to the competition, it’s a strategy that is often repeated, because managers are making the mistake of projecting their confusions about corporate identity onto customers who only perceive the brand that’s being continued and have no such confusion. Smart companies avoid the trap and are perfectly happy to manage multiple brands in the same sector, each targeted at a distinct market segment.
We frequently find ourselves managing in situations where the company or unit strategy is unclear, in flux, or constantly changing. The best managers find ways to provide steady, realistic direction and to lead with excellence, even when the strategy isn’t clear. There are three things you can do today that will put you in a better position to manage strategic ambiguity: Take pragmatic action by getting back to basics to deliver value, placing intelligent bets on what you do know, and embracing short-term strategies by operating in sprints. Cultivate emotional steadiness by being learning more about the situation, acknowledging and navigating your emotions, and keeping team communication open. Tap into others’ expertise by imagining what the leader you respect the most would do, engaging other managers, and embracing the wisdom of thought leaders. Following these three approaches, you can keep lack of clarity at your company from cast a shadow over your confidence or...
In a study of 575 Fortune 500 C-suite executives, only 5% of CMOs are highly confident in their ability to impact strategic decision making and the overall direction of the business and to garner support for their initiatives among their peers. That’s a woefully inaccurate self-perception. In fact, most C-suite executives rate CMOs’ performance much more highly than CMOs themselves do. In nearly all cases, C-suite players respect — and lean on — the CMO’s expertise. If there’s one area their C-suite colleagues would like to see CMOs improve on, it’s collaboration.
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