Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2015 Contents To encourage innovation,
stop punishing failure
One of the most common innovation
mistakes companies make is urging risk-
taking while punishing commercial failure.
The academic literature suggests that almost
every successful product had a failure some-
where in its lineage.
But inside most companies, working on
something that "fails" commercially carries
significant stigma, if not outright career
risk. It s no surprise that people play it safe.
That s not to say that companies should
When people do something stupid, make
sloppy mistakes or screw up something that
has dramatic repercussions on the business,
they should absolutely be held accountable.
The trick is to recognise that in the early
stages of innovation, what at first appears
to be failure is anything but. Innovation
success involves disciplined experimentation,
and learning from failure is a big part of
(Adapted from "The 6 Most Common
Innovation Mistakes Companies Make," by
Scott Anthony, David Duncan and Pontus
Doing your best work requires focus and
energy, but it s hard to stay focused for eight
hours straight. How can you feel more ener-
gised throughout the workday?
• Tailor your tasks to your energy. Most
people are at their best in midmorning and
late afternoon. Organise your to-do list
around these peaks and valleys.
• Get up and move. Any kind of physical
movement will boost your alertness and
energy levels. Take a brisk walk around the
block, walk up some stairs or stretch at your
• Meditate. Mindfulness exercises are a
great way to engage in restoration during
the day --- even Steve Jobs swore by it.
• Don t rely on caffeine. Rather than
giving you more energy, coffee masks the
effects of low energy levels. Use it strate-
gically, like before a big meeting.
• Get more sleep. It s the No 1 predictor
(Adapted from "How to Overcome the
Midday Slump," by Carolyn O Hara.)
It's OK to ban devices
from your meetings
We love to hate meetings. But since they
aren t going away anytime soon, we should
think of ways to make them more effective.
One answer is to ban devices. The reason
is simple: Devices distract us.
Many people think they can finish an
email or read through a Twitter feed while
listening to someone in a meeting. But
research shows we really can t multitask.
When we re focused on our phones, we re
missing important information being dis-
cussed and ignoring opportunities to con-
tribute to the conversation.
Devices also distract others. Research sug-
gests that we feel annoyed when people are
on their devices during a meeting, yet we
fail to realise that our actions have the same
effect on others.
When people are presenting, they can
also feel hurt or insulted when someone
reaches for their phone; especially if that
person is a senior leader. So leave your phone
behind, and pay attention.
(Adapted from "The Condensed Guide to
Running Meetings," by Amy Gallo.)
How recruiters should
ask about culture fit
Culture fit is the glue that holds an organ-
isation together. That s why it s a key trait
to look for when recruiting. It s important
to understand, however, that hiring for cul-
ture fit doesn t mean hiring people who are
all the same. The values and attributes that
make up an organisational culture can and
should be reflected in a richly diverse work-
force. Here are some questions that will
help assess someone s culture fit in an inter-
• What type of culture do you thrive in?
• What values are you drawn to and
what s your ideal workplace?
• Why do you want to work here?
• How would you describe our culture
based on what you ve seen?
• What best practices would you bring
with you from another organisation?
• Tell me about a time when you worked
with/for an organisation where you felt you
were not a strong culture fit. Why was it
a bad fit?
(Adapted from "Recruiting for Cultural
Fit," by Katie Bouton.)
teams need to succeed
Cross-functional teams have become
ubiquitous because companies need to speed
innovations to market, and they re essential
for connecting the right people across an
organisation. But too many teams fail to
meet planned budgets, stay on schedule or
meet customer expectations and this is
largely because the organisation lacks a sys-
There s no clear governance, accountability
or specificity when it comes to goals and
how to measure success. To make these
cross-functional efforts successful, executives
need to assign an accountable leader to every
This person will make key decisions, keep
the team aligned and coordinate with senior
management. Each project should also have
clearly established goals, resources and dead-
lines. There should be an approved budget
and a charter defining priorities, desired
outcomes and time frames. And since dif-
ferent functions have their own priorities,
leaders have to make the project s success
the No 1 objective for cross-functional teams
by tying it to people s performance reviews
(Adapted from "75% of Cross-Functional
Teams Are Dysfunctional," by Behnam
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 5 • 2015
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
How to ensure that your kids become char-
itable adults: talk to them
10 percentage points more likely to donate:
Children whose parents talk to them about
charitable giving go on to become 10 percent-
age points more likely than others to donate
to causes, according to a study led by Sarah
Brown of the University of Sheffield in the
UK. Drawing on a database of some 5,000
families in the US, the researchers found that
these parental conversations are what really
matter in shaping and nurturing children's al-
(Source: Southern Economic Journal)
Shocked by income inequality? There's
more to the story
Increased purchasing power: Income-in-
equality figures in the US overstate the gap
between rich and poor, because of what's
known as the "Wal-Mart effect":
As the number of poor people in a country
rises, the market for inexpensive products ex-
pands and the purchasing power of the poor
In measuring this effect, Andreas Bergh and
Therese Nilsson of Lund University in Sweden
found that a 10-point increase in a country's
rank on the 0-to-100 Gini scale of inequality
decreases the minutes of labour required for
the poor to buy a Big Mac (a classic inexpen-
sive product) by 15 minutes.
Income inequality is an inadequate indicator
of the welfare of the poor, the researchers
(Source: Southern Economic Journal)
Are older people less likely to start busi-
nesses? It's all a matter of self-image
1 standard deviation above the norm: Re-
gardless of chronological age, people who are
1 standard deviation above the norm in "age-
based self-image" are significantly more likely
to act on entrepreneurial ideas and start their
own businesses than those who are below
the norm on this measure, according to a sur-
vey study led by Teemu Kautonen of Aalto
University School of Business in Finland.
Age-based self-image is an individual's view
of his willingness and ability to engage in the
kinds of knowledge-acquisition activities re-
quired for pursuing entrepreneurial opportuni-
A negative age-based self-image reflects a
belief that with time running out and future
options limited, it's better to work on reinforc-
ing social ties than to engage in the hard,
risky work of entrepreneurship, the re-
(Source: Journal of Economic Psychol-
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