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The Wisdom of Teams: Outperforming Individuals

The Wisdom of Teams

The Wisdom of TeamsThe Wisdom of Teams is a true classic among Twentieth Century business books. Based on detailed interviews with 47 teams across the US, it uncovers the wisdom of what teams can achieve, and how they can perform at their best.

The authors of The Wisdom of Teams acknowledge that what they discovered is both obvious, in that we recognise the truths straight away, and subtle, in that making sense of them in the real world can be hard. They rank their findings as both common sense and uncommon sense. And all this is as it should be. Teams are people. And people working together can be messy and hard to characterise.

So, while the book has been criticised for its obviousness, and also for being too long and sharing too many long stories, this is its nature. Real team stories show not just the obvious truths, but the subtle complexities too. Perhaps the biggest idea of the Wisdom of Teams is that there is no one Big Idea, but many smaller big ideas.

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Entrepreneurship: Striking out on your own

Entrepreneurship

EntrepreneurshipEntrepreneurship is like starting a journey, where you know something about where you want to get to, and little about how you’ll get there. And you rarely end up quite where you expected.

Yet in many ways, entrepreneurship is the driving force behind a national economy. It’s a renewing agent that creates wealth – the acme of the capitalist system

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Remarketing: When Advertisers Stalk You

Remarketing

RemarketingHave you ever been wandering around the internet and been surprised to find the same advert following you? If you have, welcome to remarketing.

Or maybe you looked at an online product and then, later that day, saw a discount advert in your social media feed. Or you clicked an advert in Facebook, and then found it at the top of your searches.

Yup – those are remarketing too. Which sounds just a little less creepy than its former, but now less favoured name: retargeting.

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The Trust Equation

The Trust Equation

The Trust EquationThe Trust Equation is an attempt to highlight the key features of trust in a professional setting. And it does a very good job.

And this is super-helpful to any professional, manager, or team leader, for a simple reason. Trust is your stock-in-trade. If your team, customers, and bosses don’t trust you, you have nothing but a job title. The extent to which you can get things done in a leadership role depends largely on trust.

But how do you inspire that trust? This is what the Trust Equation will show you.

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Positive Mental Attitude: You Choose

Positive Mental Attitude

Positive Mental AttitudePositive Mental Attitude is a staple of the self-help movement. But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not about false faith or miracle cures.

Instead, it’s about exercising the most fundamental freedom you have: to choose how to respond to your situation. Positive Mental Attitude is a choice that opens up more options for you.

And that’s why it works for so many people. Because, with more options, you have more chances of getting what you want.

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Cognitive Bias – Getting it Wrong

Cognitive Bias

Cognitive BiasYour brain is wired to think fast. So, to do this, it needs to take shortcuts, that psychologists call heuristics. But these shortcuts don’t always give the right answer. They give rise to cognitive bias.

Cognitive bias is the result of the shortcuts. If every car door you’ve ever encountered opens outwards, it’s a good bet that the next one you encounter will too. That’s a bias in your assumptions. Usually, it serves you well. One day, it may let you down.

But the cognitive biases that we need to worry about are those that are baked into our mental operating system. We make the mistakes without realising it. They lead to bad decisions – sometimes to catastrophe.

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Benchmarking – Keeping up with the neighbours

Benchmarking

BenchmarkingWhat if you want to improve the performance of your business or public service? You could study it carefully and hope to find inefficiencies and novel approaches. But maybe you could compare your practices to those of another organisation. That’s the essence of Benchmarking.

The idea of benchmarking is to compare yourself with others, to get new ideas from them, and to learn from what works for them. It’s a powerful idea that allowed Japanese manufacturing to catch up with and overtake the US. And then it helped the US regain lost ground, by codifying what the Japanese had learned, and the improvements they had made.

But it’s not universally loved. There are problems. That said, benchmarking is a big idea that every manager should be aware of.

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Authenticity – Congruence for the 21st Century

Authenticity

AuthenticityNobody likes a fraud… yet we tolerate them. Nobody wants to be a phoney… but we all let ourselves down on occasion. But regardless of our actions, we all value authenticity.

The challenge of course is not just to recognise it, and distinguish the authentic from the ersatz.

It’s to form a clear idea of what you mean by authenticity. Because in modern business and professional parlance, it’s become a bit of a chameleon.

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Branding: Creating a Relationship with your Customer

Branding: Creating a Relationship with your Customer

Branding: Creating a Relationship with your CustomerBranding started out as deliberate mutilation of cattle, to assert ownership. Now it’s about leaving more than a physical mark: it’s about creating an emotional connection.

Brand has arguably become as important as function and quality in the world of products and services. The craft and skills of branding experts are tuned to a high pitch. But that’s not to say there have been no missteps. And there’s been a backlash too.

So, let’s have a look at the big idea that is branding.

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Scientific Method

Scientific Method

Scientific MethodThere is no bigger idea than science. So, in this UN International Year of the Periodic Table, I want to celebrate what makes science so powerful: the almost equally big idea of the Scientific Method.

For managers, I’d sum up its utility with a quote from an old friend, Tony Quigley:

The alternative to evidence-based policy-making is policy-based evidence-making’

If you want your organisational decisions to carry heft and deliver results, you can do no better than to apply the scientific method to your management practices.
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