Teamwork!

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Nowadays, though we may still idolize the charismatic leader or creative genius, almost every decision of consequence is made by a group. And groups of smart people can make horrible decisions — or great ones. Indeed, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.

Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.

Read more here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/why-some-teams-are-smarter-than-others.html

Global Terror

As news reports hit us piecemeal regarding global terrorism it’s difficult to build a ‘mental map’ of where those places are around the globe.

In this report, Martha Raddatz reports on recent Global Counter-terror operations, interviewing some of the most well-known experts in the field.

 

You can watch the video here.

Do We Know What the Future Will Hold?

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In a post earlier this month, I suggested that what the future comports impacts our personal lives, our families and even our fortunes. We all want to know what the future will hold, but few of us have the time to deep dive into the wealth of information that can give us some sense of what it will be.

But the “pros from Dover” at the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the parent agency for the 16 components (CIA, DIA, NSA etc.) of United States intelligence enterprise have done it.

The NIC has released their comprehensive quadrennial report forecasting global trends that have a major impact on our world, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.”  In shorthand –GT2030. Global Trends 2030 helps us have an informed and well-nuanced view of the future. I’ve “deconstructed” this report in this – and will continue to do so in future – posts:

Read more about the future in my post on the Defense Media Network website here:

http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/global-trends-2030-what-it-is-and-why-it-matters/

Need More Time?

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Do you have a New Year’s resolution to have more time for yourself – time to do the things you really love doing? Here’s how to keep it – the easy way.

Checking email less often may reduce stress in part by cutting down on the need to switch between tasks. An unfortunate limitation of the human mind is that it cannot perform two demanding tasks simultaneously, so flipping back and forth between two different tasks saps cognitive resources. As a result, people can become less efficient in each of the tasks they need to accomplish. In addition to providing an unending source of new tasks for our to-do lists, email could also be making us less efficient at accomplishing those tasks.

Taste freedom – leave your e-mail alone!

Read more here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/opinion/sunday/stop-checking-email-so-often.html

The Renaissance of Novelizations

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How do movies and television shows live on: with novelizations. This “reverse flow” method of the normal publishing and media methodology is back – with a vengeance.

Studios and producers have long used novelizations as a way to capture fans’ attention between television seasons, or installments of blockbuster film franchises. For publishers, tie-in books have become cash cows that offer instant brand recognition and access to huge fan bases for vastly larger media. One of the longest running, most successful tie-in series, the “Star Wars” novels, dates to 1976 and now has more than 125 million copies in print.

Read more here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/05/business/media/popular-tv-series-and-movies-maintain-relevance-as-novels.html

Strategic Shift: The U.S. Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific Region.

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One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will be to lock in a substantially increased investment – diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise – in the Asia-Pacific region… At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, U.S. commitment there is essential… Beyond our borders, people are also wondering about America’s intentions – our willingness to remain engaged and to lead. In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make – and keep – credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action.

Read more about this rebalance in my post on the Defense Media Network website here.

New Year! – New Mission?

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Many of us make resolutions at the beginning of the year. Some of them are very specific. But it might be worth taking a “strategic pause” and do something business does so well – come up with a mission statement – a personal mission statement that defines why you want to do the things you’ll promise yourself you’ll do. It just might be the key that unlocks a brighter future.

Said another way, forget the New Year’s resolution. This year, try creating a personal mission statement instead.

”To get started on your personal mission statement, ask yourself the following questions used by the Corporate Athlete program:

  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • How do you want people to describe you?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • Who or what matters most to you?
  • What are your deepest values?
  • How would you define success in your life?
  • What makes your life really worth living?

Use your answers to craft a personal mission statement that reveals your ultimate purpose in life. Rather than listing a behavioral change, focus on a set of guiding principles that capture how you want to live your life. Some examples of mission statements from the Corporate Athlete program include:

“I plan to spend more time doing things that I like to do.”
“I want to become more physically active and try new hobbies.”
“My mission is to incorporate a healthy balance of work and personal time.”
“I aspire to transform negative work-related situations and put energy into relationships with family and friends.”

Read more here.

Does Technology Change the World?

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Does technology change the world? And is it the “lone genius” who gives us these gifts? These are huge questions for all of us. Here is what Jon Gertner shares in “Unforeseeable Consequences:”

At various points in “How We Got to Now,” Steven Johnson helps us see how innovation is almost never the result of a lone genius experiencing a sudden voilà! moment; it’s a complex process involving a dizzying number of inputs, individuals, setbacks and (sometimes) accidents. Also, it’s hardly the exclusive domain of private-sector entrepreneurs. Important ideas are often driven by academics, governments and philanthropists.

Above all, though, technological histories like this help us reckon with how much we miss by focusing too exclusively on economic, cultural and political history. Not that any one domain is superior to another — only that Johnson proves you can’t explain one without the others. He does seem to suggest that technological history may have an advantage in one regard: It not only helps readers better see where we’ve been, but urges us to think harder about where we’re going.
Read the entire article here

Go Wild with Writing

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Want to write something fabulous in 2015? Most of us do…but we run into so many barriers. It makes what should be a fun and enervating task seem daunting and even overwhelming.

In his new book, The Sense of Style, Steve Pinker helps us get past some of those speed bumps. Read it…it just might inspire you to do your best work. Here is part of what a review says:

The cause of most bad writing, Pinker thinks, is not laziness or sloppiness or overexposure to the Internet and video games, but what he calls the curse of knowledge: the writer’s inability to put himself in the reader’s shoes or to imagine that the reader might not know all that the writer knows — the jargon, the shorthand, the slang, the received wisdom. He may underestimate a little how much deliberately bad writing there is, writing meant to confuse and obfuscate. Just look at the fine print at the bottom of your next credit card bill or listen to a politician in Washington reading a speech about the tax code.

Read more here

Information Sharing?

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One of the most powerful companies is vigilant about keeping its secrets. But you can look behind the scenes thanks to Brad Stone’s thoughts on “How Google Works.” He provides a revealing look at who these people are. It also gives you an impressive leg up if you want to work for a company like Google – or start the next Google:

At the center of their new management framework are “smart creatives”: those unusually intelligent, self-motivated employees who are responsible for coming up with the next big thing. Companies need to hire and keep them, but smart creatives aren’t necessarily dazzled by perks like high salaries and corner offices. They seek meaning in their work and approach their careers with an inflated sense of missionary zeal that would send the writers of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” scurrying for their notebooks. Successful companies must start thinking about their culture early on, the authors write, and fashion direct, inspiring mission statements (“Don’t be evil”) that might sound disingenuous to outsiders but that actually motivate employees.

Most of these lessons have hardened into conventional wisdom and will not surprise anyone already steeped in Silicon Valley’s infectious dogma. Trust your engineers and say yes to them as often as possible. Stay flexible in planning. Power should derive from merit and insight, not tenure or salary. Launch quickly, iterate and don’t be afraid to fail.

Read more here