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Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

The Power of 50 BitsPeople’s natural inclinations when making decisions tend to default to patterns that do not help them in the long run. While there is broad agreement among researchers about the science underpinning these tendencies, people need more solutions to help overcome the gap between what they really want to do and what they actually do. In The Power of Fifty Bits, Bob Nease offers a seven-pronged strategy to deal with common decision-making failures. He explains why people struggle with inattention and inertia and demonstrates how simple changes in environment can nudge people toward better overall outcomes.

People typically have good intentions, but they often struggle to act on them. This is because people’s brains have evolved in a way that makes inattention and inertia the two primary obstacles to action. Fifty bits design acknowledges the brain’s natural limitations and addresses them with the following seven strategies:

  1. Require choice: Interrupting a process, usually an existing one, and forcing a person to make a decision before he or she can continue the process.
  2. Lock in good intentions: Making some type of statement–a pledge, a signed document, or automatic reaction–in the present, which increases the chances that people will follow through on good behavior in the future.
  3. Let it ride: Making the desired behavior the default and asking people to opt out of a behavior rather than opt in, thereby using inattention and inertia for good.
  4. Get in the flow: Placing a cue or call to action in a location where people have already devoted their attention.
  5. Reframe the choices: Altering what a cue triggers in people, which directs people’s attention toward some aspects of an issue and away from others.
  6. Piggyback it: Making a behavior typically subject to inertia and/or inattention the side effect of something that people seek out or find pleasurable.
  7. Simplify…wisely: Removing barriers to change or improving fluency (the relative ease with which the brain processes information). Simplification of either type is usually, though not always, a smart design choice.

To learn more, please visit http://www.bizsum.com

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QuittingIn Quitting, bestselling author Peg Streep and social worker Alan Bernstein expose the defects in the culture of persistence, and explore the science of healthy quitting in life situations, from relationships to work choices to recreation. They reveal that truly successful people are masters of both persistence and quitting, which includes the understanding of when to continue a course of action and when to disengage from it.

According to the authors:

  • Common wisdom holds that winners never quit, and quitters never win. This myth of the power of persistence has a deep hold in American culture, and leads people to remain in relationships, jobs, and situations when the healthier choice would be to leave.
  • Healthy quitting–stopping a course of action in a thoughtful, deliberate manner in order to pursue a new, more fitting goal–is a life skill that everyone needs to learn.
  • Truly successful people are masters of both persisting and quitting. When they quit, they completely detach from their previous goals and devote themselves to pursuing new ones.
  • Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to understand and work with their emotions. Emotionally intelligent people can deal with the feelings caused by quitting. They also understand what makes them happy, which is essential to establishing attainable goals.
  • People need to understand themselves, and their approaches to challenges, in order to set attainable goals. Mapping, or writing down goals, helps people keep track of their progress and determine whether a goal is worth pursuing or whether it is time to disengage from it.
  • True goal disengagement is complete only when a person re-engages with a new, attainable, suitable goal that furthers his or her personal development and happiness.

To learn more, please visit http://www.bizsum.com

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Kiss Your But GoodbyeEveryone has flaws, but many people fail to realize how their flaws are impeding their career progress. For people to reach their potential, they need to recognize and manage their “BUTs,” the shortcomings that hold them back. When colleagues, managers, and senior leaders talk about others, they almost always discuss their weaknesses in the same way. They may say something like, “She works hard, but she takes on too many projects and cannot prioritize.” Or, they may say, “He is extremely intelligent, but he fails to connect with others.” The biggest problem with BUTs is that the people in possession of them cannot see them. Everyone has at least one BUT, so everyone needs a strategy for recognizing and overcoming them. Kiss Your But Goodbye by Joe Azelby and Bob Azelby provides a humorous guide to doing so.

There are ways for people to overcome their shortcomings, or at least reduce their impact. This process includes understanding the following:

  1. Recognize that everyone has at least one “BUT” that needs to be addressed. These are the weaknesses that people talk about when assessing others. For example, people may say that John has great marketing skills but cannot close a sale. He needs to overcome that BUT in order to advance in his career.
  2. People need help to find their BUTs, and that help needs to come from honest, straightforward colleagues and managers who will not sugarcoat their assessments. BUTs result from aptitude, personality, and behavior, and those elements provide both a way to identify BUTs and a way to overcome them.
  3. Many people avoid dealing with their BUTs because they prefer to avoid pain and change. However, they are suffering now as a result of their BUTs, and the effort expended on the change will be returned when the benefits of a reduced BUT are realized.
  4. People reduce the size of their BUTs through increased self-awareness and sincere effort to change their behaviors. These efforts need to be clear to colleagues so they can help in the BUT-reduction process.
  5. One very effective way to reduce the impact of a BUT is to partner with someone who has a complementing strength. For example, people who are good strategic thinkers but lack detailed planning skills can partner with people who love to plan everything.
  6. During reviews, managers may avoid telling employees about their BUTs. For small BUTs, managers are more likely to say something because they believe the flaws can be reduced. For large BUTs, however, managers often avoid saying anything, and employees fail to progress. Therefore, it is vitally important for people who want to advance in their careers to proactively identify their own BUTs with the help of trusted advisers.
  7. Managers have BUTs too, which can make their employees miserable. They may micromanage or have blind spots. Employees can increase their own value by acting to counteract their managers’ BUTs.
  8. Instituting a workplace culture that encourages frank discussion of everyone’s BUTs can make the organization a better place to work. It can also make the company more productive and profitable.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

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Time ManagementTime is a precious asset that cannot be reclaimed. Once it is used, it is gone forever. These days, many people find themselves stressed and feeling out of control from never having enough time to do what they should and want to do. Author Brian Tracy claims it is not a lack of time but rather the mismanagement of time that causes these issues. In Time Management, Tracy provides insights about the consequences of mismanaging time as well as practical techniques that anyone can learn and master in order to gain control over their time and achieve both professional and personal success.

Successful time management is based on the following principles:

  1. Time is a precious asset. Time is an asset that cannot be replaced. Once used, it is gone forever. Therefore, making the most of time becomes increasingly important.
  2. Time management is all about confidence and control. Individuals who have high self-esteem have the confidence to set parameters on how their time is used. Those who feel out of control and as if they never have enough time are letting others determine their fate and will benefit from using techniques to develop a more positive self-image and a decisive attitude.
  3. Effectively managing time depends on having a clear vision, values, and goals. If people do not know where they are going and why, they are wasting their time. A strong sense of individual purpose that aligns with daily activities drives time management practices that lead to achieving goals.
  4. Good time management is plan-based. Effective time management does not just happen. It requires thoughtful planning and a series of written activities–such as checklists, project plans, and prioritization systems–that can be repeatedly referenced and adjusted as circumstances change.
  5. The most important work should be allotted the largest amount of time. Much of people’s time is wasted on the easy-to-do and less important tasks. Often this means never devoting enough time to the really important activities–those that lead to professional success and personal fulfillment. People should always do the important work first. They should give these tasks the most attention.
  6. Focus and clarity are paramount. Multi-tasking, distractions, and interruptions are all big time wasters. To be effective, individuals must focus on one task at a time and take control over factors that interrupt focus or distract from clear thinking.
  7. Anyone can learn to more effectively manage their time. People can learn time management skills. They should practice these skills repeatedly. Developing good habits control how people spend their time.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

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94994429In Rapid Realignment, George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky chart the path to optimal organizational performance by integrating key processes, staff, customers, and strategies to serve the primary purpose of an enterprise—increasing stakeholder value. Alignment is the result of this integration, and organizations that achieve it succeed by focusing their people and resources on providing optimal customer satisfaction. In aligned organizations, employees at every level understand the business’s goals and strategies and know how their efforts advance them. Their clear understanding of customer needs enables the constant improvement of products and services that win and maintain customer loyalty. This adjustment, or rapid realignment, is a necessity in a global economy in which swiftly changing conditions and demands can pose serious challenges to an organization’s survival.

According to Labovitz and Rosansky:

  • To support an organization’s primary purpose, its staff, strategy, customers, and processes must be aligned. This alignment requires clear communication, complete understanding of its objectives, and the commitment of all involved in the process. When external forces or events cause misalignment and reduces effectiveness, rapid realignment is essential to ensure continued success.
  • The alignment framework is made up of four elements — strategy, people, processes, and customers. Strategies will change as requirements change, and when they do they must be rapidly deployed. Core processes that serve customers must continually undergo improvement.
  • Vertical alignment is achieved when employees can articulate the organization’s strategy and explain how their work supports it. This understanding is what boosts the deployment of new strategies.
  • Horizontal alignment is achieved when the communication barriers that separate employees from customers are removed. This means that employees understand customer needs and are committed to improving service.
  • Every organization must have a Main Thing — a meaningful description of what it wants to accomplish. It must be a common and unifying concept to which every unit can make a contribution.
  • Social media is an excellent means for fostering trust and bringing people together to advance both the Main Thing and management’s plans for achieving it. It facilitates employee communication with management and enables employees to ask questions that get answers.
  • To effectively change their cultures, organizations must determine the behaviors that will best implement their strategies and meet customer needs, as well as ensure that attitudes and values are aligned with their Main Things.
  • To effectively change behaviors, new strategies must be explained repeatedly. Employees must be able to comprehend how their participation will ensure the strategies’ success and how their contributions will be valued.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Wiki ManagementHBR Guide to Getting the Right Work DoneBusiness at the Speed of Now

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91947553In an increasingly complex world, decision making has become a Herculean task for today’s leaders. There is a growing tendency for leaders to prolong and even avoid making hard decisions. This lack of decisiveness is problematic because it translates into an absence of action and makes a leader ineffective. In The Proactive Leader, David De Cremer examines this trend from a behavioral perspective. He explains both what spurs people to make decisions and what prevents them from taking action, or procrastinating. This book will assist leaders in understanding their own decision-making processes and help them make decisions that are more in line with their values.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Make Up Your Mind, Think Fast!, The Deciding Factor

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88408705The purpose of Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers is to teach people how to spot a complainer and fix the problem quickly. Complainers and energy drainers in the workplace can have strong negative effects on a company through lost work, loss of good employees due to an unhealthy work environment, and damage to a company’s reputation. Complainers inhibit innovation and growth in companies while negatively affecting daily productivity. Linda Swindling attempts to help readers identify the types of complainers they are dealing with, understand the reasons for their behavior, and learn strategies and solutions to deal with them. The options, strategies, and solutions provided can help turn chronic complainers into chronic contributors and let everyone get back to work.

Swindling offers the following advice to readers:

  • Every complainer has their own motivations for behaving the way they do. Understanding their reality versus their outward reactions is key to helping them change their own behavior.
  • Workplace productivity can suffer from energy drains. Energy drains come in many forms including: technology and software that is complicated or not understood by its users; bottlenecks; too much work for a given timeframe; misaligned values between the company and workers; and depressing work environments.
  • Not all complaining is counterproductive. Constructive complaining can be beneficial to a company’s growth.
  • Changing chronic complainers into chronic contributors can go far to improving a company’s morale, promoting effective communication, and increasing productivity.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Make Difficult People Disappear, Three Signs of a Miserable JobEngagement Is Not Enough

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