Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Global Innovation Interest Index


How interested are people in innovation — and how does that change cross-culturally? What do users across the worldreally want, how can we uncover and design for their unmet needs, and what services can we attach to products to stay close to our customers? We've found that these questions point to a new need for innovative cultures in the world today (distinct from innovative companies).

To start measuring the innovation culture in its pure form, we used Google Insights for Search, which is a keyword optimization tool that reports what people are searching for on the internet. We developed a small lexicon of terms that represent a wide spectrum of innovation activities outside of the core R&D and patent area. For example, we used innovation-linked terms like "design thinking," "Six Sigma," "open innovation," and "product design," among others. We then checked and cross referenced interest in those terms across country lines*. Here are the results — the countries we found to be most interested in innovation:


We found India to be a convincing leader, with the United States trailing second and Singapore, Canada, S. Korea, and the United Kingdom following. Note that even without data from China, Asia is bubbling with interest in innovation. However, we will admit the important qualitative differences in the interests of Asians and the English-speaking West that the data does not account for.

The United States, Canada, and the UK owe their place in the table to their interest in the funding and exploitation of innovation, and in terms that include the root term "create."

For example you can see in this chart indicating regional interest (below), the prominence of the search term "creative talent" in the US especially. "Creative talent" is represented by the orange bar, whereas the red bar represents the term "innovation process" and the blue "innovation and creativity."

creative talent.png

Source: Google Insights for Search

By contrast, India's interest in innovation (and Singapore's is similar) stretches across the range of terms. Interest is high in Six Sigma, ideas management, innovation management, product design, and in strategic terms like "adjacency."

Also notable, open innovation has visibly become more interesting globally, with a heavy concentration of data in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, interest in Six Sigma is an area where the United States scores highly. From the data it appears that people across the world are catching on to open innovation strategies; and even though open approaches originated in the United States, the US is not as interested as competitor regions.

Digging a little deeper into the US-specific data, we can also see that the more future oriented term "Open Innovation" and the current in-vogue term "Design Thinking" are beginning to close on the very tools-based term "TRIZ" in the United States. TRIZ is a technique for orienting companies to future economic states as a starting point for invention today, and is widely deployed across Asia by companies like Samsung. Over the last few years, we found interest in TRIZ is losing ground to the less formal open and design paradigms, as you can see in the chart below:

triz against deign thinking and open.png

TRIZ (Green) vs. Design Thinking (blue) and Open Innovation (red)

Source: Google Insights for Search

As you can see, exploring innovation through web interest has value. The enthusiastic interest of Asian users should send an important signal that Western companies — like those based out of America, Canada, and the UK — should do more to promote a broader base for their innovation cultures. However, this study is itself a signal that we can measure innovative cultures in ways that reflect real interest.

*Google Search does not operate in China, and therefore China's data is omitted from the results.

Haydn Shaughnessy is editor of Innovation Management, and a Visiting Fellow at nGenera Insight, where he writes on ecosystem management. Nick Vitalari is the Director of the Moxie Insight Enterprise Research Program.

Building a Resilient Organizational Culture by

George S. Everly, Jr.

Current events teach us that crisis and even disaster occur far more frequently than previously anticipated. Japan's post-tsunami crisis and repeated tornadoes of the Southern and Midwestern US demonstrate the vulnerability of modern infrastructures to the forces of nature. Wall Street's meltdown, the subsequent recession, and the consequent demise of discretionary spending remind us that human-made disasters can be devastating in other ways.

The key to not only surviving such events, but to prospering during such upheavals, we argue, is human resilience. While human resilience may be thought of as a personality trait, in the aggregate, groups, organizations, and even communities can learn to develop a "culture of resilience" which manifests itself as a form of "psychological immunity" to, or the ability to rebound from, the untoward effects of adversity.

My colleagues and I have observed human resilience in individuals ranging from accountants to law enforcement personnel, and even former US Navy SEALs. After the first Gulf War, we saw the power of human resilience transform a broken and burning nation of Kuwait into a leading economic power.

Our observations have led us to believe that, just as individuals can learn to develop personal traits of resilience, so too can organizations develop a culture of resilience. We would argue that a culture of organizational resilience is built largely upon leadership, what we refer to as "resilient leadership." Consistent with the "Law of the Few" described in Malcom Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point, we believe key leadership personnel, often frontline leadership, appear to have the ability to "tip" the organization in the direction of resilience and to serve as a catalyst to increase group cohesion and dedication to the "mission." They do this, we argue, by demonstrating four core attributes of optimism, decisiveness, integrity, and open communications while serving as conduits and gatekeepers of formal and informal information flows throughout the organization and enjoying high source credibility (ethos).

All of these can be learned. Simply said, when a small number of high credibility individuals who serve as visible informational channels demonstrate, or "model" the behaviors associated with resilience, we believe they have the ability to change an entire culture of an organization as others replicate the resilient characteristics that they have observed.

Using the insightful and well researched formulations of Albert Bandura, we employ the construct of "self-efficacy" as a framework to operationalize many of the aforementioned attributes of resilience. Self-efficacy may be thought of as the belief in one's agency and the ability to be a catalyst for change. He argues that the perception of self-efficacy shapes key human behaviors:

  1. The courses of action people choose to pursue,
  2. How much effort they put forth in given endeavors,
  3. How long they will persevere in the face of obstacles and failures,
  4. Their resilience to adversity,
  5. Whether their thought patterns are self-hindering or self-aiding,
  6. How much stress and depression they experience in coping with taxing environmental demands,
  7. The level of accomplishments they realize.

All of the aforementioned behaviors we believe are not only essential in resisting (developing immunity to) or rebounding from adversity, they are the foundations of a resilient organizational culture and can be used to increase resilience throughout the organization

Our evidence suggests that optimism and self-efficacy can be learned employing a simple yet powerful framework in the organization:

First, understand that people prosper from success. Create an environment wherein they are successful, especially early in their career. Utilize a process of successive approximation wherein success is achieved in tasks of increasing difficulty and overall complexity.

Second, people learn while observing others. Assign new personnel to successful workgroups. Let them begin to experience "vicarious success." Simply possessing membership in successful, or elite groups, may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Elite colleges and occupational groups thrive upon this principle.

Thirdly, provide encouragement, support, and even mentoring. Research suggests that the single most powerful predictor of human resilience is interpersonal support.

Lastly, using the latest finding from the neurosciences, provide basic training in how to manage personal stress. In our training programs, we refer to this as developing "psychological body armor".

Here are how some companies have employed resiliency traits at the organizational level:

Resilient organizations invest in their client base. At a time when the travel industry was undergoing a dramatic decrease in demand, American Express Platinum Travel Services sent a gift to loyal customers as a way of saying "thank you." Such frequent customers were given several hundred dollars worth of travel-related items including carry-on luggage, an iPod, earphones, and a digital video camera.

Resilient organizations are innovative in times of adversity. Innovation typifies Apple. At a time when the music player and phone industries were commoditizing their products, Apple introduced radically simple and beautifully designed products that remade the company.

Resilient organizations invest in their leaders. In a time when government agencies are demanding more and more from their contractors, one government contractor gave 30 departmental managers two entire days off, at a location away from work, in order to attend a training program that taught skills in resilient leadership as well as "psychological body armor" (the latest advances in how to manage personal stress).

Resilient organizations invest in all levels of their workforce. In 2010, the Wisconsin Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health awarded Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Neenah, WI a Gold Medal for promoting employee health and wellness. Kimberly-Clark has been a pioneer in occupational health promotion since the early 1980s fielding truly seminal programs in physical fitness, nutrition, and stress management for not only workers but their families.

To say we live in challenging times is an understatement, but crisis may also be understood as an opportunity. Those who cultivate a resilient organizational we argue will be better positioned to prosper when others falter.

Dealing with the Ghosts of Change Management

Transitions that left scars in the past can hurt new initiatives.

Title: Haunted by the Past: Effects of Poor Change Management History on Employee Attitudes and Turnover (Subscription or fee required.)

Authors: Prashant Bordia (Australian National University), Simon Lloyd D. Restubog (Australian National University), Nerina L. Jimmieson (University of Queensland), and Bernd E. Irmer (Queensland University of Technology)

Publisher: Group & Organization Management, vol. 36, no. 2

Date Published: April 2011

Changing the direction of an organization is like driving a car, write the authors of this paper. While moving forward, managers must also pay attention to the “rear view.” This means understanding that employees’ past experiences with organizational change help dictate their attitudes and behavior regarding the current transition — including whether they trust the company enough to remain.

Organizational change can occur in a variety of ways. Firms shift their strategies and processes, undergo mergers and acquisitions, restructure or downsize, and introduce new technologies. For employees, the resulting uncertainty often creates stress and additional work demands.

The researchers studied two organizations to test the relationship between previous change initiatives and employee attitudes.

The first study involved a property and development firm in the Philippines. Unable to meet the demands of a booming population and increasing competition, the company’s executives had decided to merge with another firm. At the time of the study, the organization had announced the merger to its employees and begun the transition — including the evaluation and redefinition of jobs.

In interviews with the human resources department, the researchers learned that the company had a poor history of change implementation: In the past, senior managers had created satellite offices and reassigned employees without consulting them, leading to resentment among those affected. With the help of HR, the researchers split employees into two groups — those who had reason to resent upper management for previous actions and those who didn’t.

Two months after the merger was announced, 155 employees at the firm completed surveys assessing previous change management projects, their perceptions of the current transition, and their level of trust in the organization. The results of this first study confirmed that employees who had had poor experiences with change in the past felt more cynicism about the current transition as well as less trust.

The second study took a deeper look at the issue, examining how change-related attitudes affected employees’ job satisfaction, openness to change, and decisions about whether to leave. The organization in this case was a midsized university in the Philippines whose vice president had recently proposed a comprehensive overhaul of the education process for freshmen; the curriculum would be revised and teachers would be reassigned, relocated, or laid off.

The university had a history of failed change initiatives, including “poorly managed organizational restructuring which resulted in a string of lawsuits,” according to the authors. As with the first study, employees were split into two groups: those who felt resentment because of past mishandled transitions and those who did not. A total of 124 staff members completed the surveys, which were distributed three months after the change process began. The researchers also obtained turnover data two years after the survey and matched that data with the survey responses.

The researchers found that when employees had less trust in the organization because of the previous failed change initiatives, they also had lower levels of job satisfaction and stronger intentions to leave. In fact, 19 percent of the employees in the second study left the university after two years. Using the survey responses, the researchers were able to predict which employees would leave with 87 percent accuracy.

When embarking on a new change program, senior managers need to be acutely aware of the organization’s history in this area, the authors conclude. If managers begin to sense that certain employees have become jaded about change, the researchers urge them to act quickly. Although influencing employee attitudes is never easy, managers should hold open discussions during which staff members learn about upcoming changes and the company acknowledges past mistakes and explains how the process will work better this time around. An engaged leadership, one that stresses personal relationships and inspires the troops, has also been shown to cut down on cynicism about organizational change.

Bottom Line:
When organizational change has been managed poorly in the past, the effects linger, lessening employee trust and creating cynicism about new change initiatives. To minimize turnover and morale problems in periods of transition, managers must be aware of past mistakes and take them into account in any new initiative.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

20 Powerful Management Truisms

  • Strategy and execution complement each other; neither works without the other.
  • If you’re your own worst enemy, you’re sure to lose.
  • If you set out to build an empire, you’ll fail. All empires have humble beginnings. Just put one foot in front of the other, try not to stumble, and when you do, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.
  • If you’ve got loads of strengths, it’s okay to ignore your weaknesses. If you’ve got loads of weaknesses, you better work on them.
  • You don’t know squat. Once you think you’ve got things figured out, you’re in big trouble. Only fools have all the answers.
  • There are times to study and analyze and times to act decisively; the key is to know the difference.
  • A big ego is sufferable if the person delivers the goods.
  • Fear and desperation are powerful motivators, but they don’t always result in good or the right behavior.
  • One who actually gets things done is worth a dozen good-intentioned can-do attitudes.
  • Principles are a personal matter. Having them is good, pushing them on others, not so much.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously or nobody else will either. Self-important people are just that - only important to themselves.
  • Leaders who make excuses and blame others don’t deserve their authority.
  • Coming in second is still losing. Still, learn from it.
  • What you think doesn’t matter half as much as what the other guy thinks. Better to listen than talk.
  • You get what you pay for. It’s true of goods, services, executives, employees, everything.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, only if you win or lose.
  • If everyone’s out to get you, there’s probably a good reason for that. Look in the mirror.
  • Success depends on adapting quicker than your competitors do. It’s like the movie title The Quick and The Dead. Those really are the only two options anymore.
  • Play nice with the other children. It’s okay to spat as long as you apologize and make up. Playground rules work in organizations. Really.
  • Problems should be solved by those who discover them. An organization where nobody passes the buck is powerful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bosses Behaving Badly


A Conversation with Barbara Pachter by Gardiner Morse


Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader

Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader

by Linda Hill, Kent Lineback


Buy it now »

Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Guide to Persuasive Presentations

by John Clayton, John Daly, Isa Engleberg, et al.


Buy it now »

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself

by Heike Bruch, Catherine McCarthy, Diane Coutu, et al.


Buy it now »

Barbara Pachter has seen it all. President of Pachter & Associates, a consultancy specializing in etiquette and gender issues, she’s coached executives around the world on the finer and grosser points of protocol—from who holds open the door for whom to how to tell the boss his fly is down. With clients ranging from DaimlerChrysler, IBM, and Pfizer to NASA and the Department of Defense, Pachter has witnessed all manner of etiquette blunder. The common thread: executives’ lack of self-awareness. In this conversation, edited here for length, HBR’s Gardiner Morse spoke with Pachter about how etiquette rules are evolving and the fundamentals that every executive should know.

What’s the most surprising etiquette violation you’ve seen?

I didn’t see this firsthand, but it was reported to me independently by two employees who were there when it happened. The vice president of the bank I was consulting for arrived early for a meeting. Some junior people had already arrived. He put his briefcase on the table, opened it up, took out a stick of deodorant, unbuttoned his shirt, and put it on. Nobody said anything, they were so stunned. And the VP seemed oblivious. But the cost to this guy will be high. If the people around him think he might at any moment whip out a deodorant, figuratively speaking, he’s never going to have the full consent of his followers.

Most bad business behavior is subtler than that. Are there common themes in executives’ etiquette lapses?

Most bad manners arise because executives aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing. Drinking too much at business events is surprisingly common. Everyone knows it’s a bad idea, but people do it anyway. Then there’s the whole class of behaviors that fall somewhere between bad manners and bad mannerisms. I once coached a director whose colleagues thought she was condescending. Turns out, part of the reason people saw her that way was because of how she wore her reading glasses. She kept them down on the tip of her nose, and when she was in meetings she peered over them. It made her look skeptical and disdainful. She had no idea. And how about people who mangle paper clips when they talk? If you’re meeting with a visitor from another company and you’re dismembering paper clips, you probably don’t know you’re doing it, and you’re probably sending a message you don’t want to send.

Why can’t executives see their problem behaviors?

Executives are no different from anybody else. I’ve given 1,500 seminars to over 100,000 people, and no one in any of my classes has ever admitted to having bad behaviors. It’s always the other guy. It’s the same psychology that makes everyone think they’re better-than-average drivers. Many people are worse than average, by definition. But they’d never admit it to themselves. So the starting point is for businesspeople to acknowledge that, chances are, they’re making etiquette mistakes they’re unaware of and that they’d want to correct if only they knew about them.

How do you find out what you’re doing wrong?

Get feedback. In general, the higher up you are, the less you can count on people to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Getting honest feedback is always tough. Frankly, most high-level executives have major egos. They don’t think they need this sort of feedback, and they don’t want it. But they do need it. Of course, I think every executive should have a coach. But, lacking that, they can do two things: Create an environment that encourages feedback of all types, and get videotaped. I can tell a client her expression looks disdainful until I’m blue in the face. But when she sees it on videotape, it really hits home.

Do business etiquette rules differ for men and women?

When women really started moving into the workplace 30 years ago, the social rules came along with them and created all sorts of problems. Who picks up the check? Who pulls out the chair? Who opens the door, carries the packages? A woman who expects men to do all these things for her sends a message that she needs help. No wonder she’s not the first person who comes to mind when the boss is looking for an executive to take on a big assignment.

For women in particular, it’s important not to allow interaction etiquette to be tied to gender. It should be governed by business relationship or rank. If you’re the host, you pay the bill, regardless of gender. Opening the door is tricky because men want to do it, no matter what. But the simple rule is, whoever gets to the door first opens it and holds it for the person behind. Rank is a complicating factor. It’s a very smart junior person who subtly—and that’s important—gets to the door first and opens it for the senior person. In the same way, the host should subtly maneuver to open it for the guest.

Then there’s the handshake. This is a huge gender issue. A lot of women weren’t taught to shake hands. In my seminars, when I go around to introduce myself, about 75% of the men stand to shake my hand. Only about 30% of the women do. It’s one of the ways women remain invisible in the workplace. They don’t shake hands enough.

Everyone has horror stories of international business gaffes. Any advice?

The old adage “When in Rome…” still applies. But unless people are really attuned to and practice the etiquette of their own culture, they’re probably not going to do a good job modifying their behaviors for another culture. I heard about an American executive traveling in Japan who took a Japanese colleague’s business card and then absentmindedly picked his teeth with it. That’s a big mistake even in the United States, but you can imagine the Japanese’s reaction. It’s not enough to read a book and take a one-day course on Japanese business etiquette before you go. You’ve got to nail your own culture’s etiquette first. Then you step out of your culture, look back at it, and compare it with the other culture.

You’ve said about conducting international business: “Don’t be humorous, but have a sense of humor.” What do you mean by that?

Humor doesn’t travel well across cultures. It can bomb badly. Here’s a mistake I made. You would think I’d have known better. I was in Kuwait, and I was invited to my agent’s home for dinner. I walked in, and on the dining room table there was food laid out from one end to the other. They must have been cooking for a week. And I said, “Do you think there’s enoughfood?” Oops. My agent thought I was serious. Fortunately, we were able to talk about it later and have a good laugh. The point is, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, don’t try to make a joke. And have a sense of humor about the cultural challenges you’re facing and the mistakes you make. Because you will make them.

So, do you tell your boss his fly is down?

Or that her slip is showing? Absolutely. The cost of not telling him or her could be high if it appears that you knew and said nothing. It’s simple. Just give him the facts, quietly if possible. “Bob, your fly is down.” If you’re embarrassed because of gender, you get someone else to do it. Everybody wins: The boss is saved from embarrassment, and you’ll go up a notch in his estimation for your nerve and for limiting his exposure

How to Tell the Boss His Fly Is Down


by Barbara Pachter  | Comments (17)

I've coached executives around the world on the finer and grosser points of protocol — from who holds open the door for whom to how not to tell a joke. With clients ranging from Merck to Microsoft, I've seen every type of etiquette blunder. The common thread: lack of self-awareness. You probably don't mean to be rude — but you don't know any better.

Consider this one, the vice president of the bank I was consulting for who arrived early for a meeting. Some junior people were already there. He put his briefcase on the table, opened it up, took out a stick of deodorant, unbuttoned his shirt, and put it on. Nobody said anything they were so stunned. And the VP seemed oblivious. But the cost to this guy will be high. If the people around him think he might at any moment whip out his deodorant, figuratively speaking, he's never going to have the full consent of his followers.

Most bad manners arise because the perpetrator isn't paying attention. Drinking too much at business events is surprisingly common. Everyone knows it's a bad idea, but people do it anyway. Then there's the whole class of behaviors that fall somewhere between bad manners and bad mannerisms. I once coached a director whose colleagues thought she was condescending. Turns out, part of the reason people saw her that way was because of how she wore her reading glasses. She kept them on the tip of her nose and peered over them. It made her look skeptical and disdainful. She had no idea. And how about people who mangle paper clips when they talk? If you're meeting with a visitor from another company and you're dismembering paper clips, you probably don't know you're doing it, and you're probably sending a message you don't want to send.

I've given more than 1,600 seminars to over 100,000 people, and no one in any of my classes has ever admitted to behaving badly. It's always the other guy. It's the same psychology that makes everyone think they're better-than-average drivers. Many people are worse than average, by definition. But they'd never admit it. So the starting point is to acknowledge that, chances are, you're making etiquette mistakes that you'd want to correct if only you knew about them. How do you find out? Easy. Get feedback. In general, the higher up you are, the less you can count on people to tell you what you're doing wrong. Getting honest feedback is always tough. Frankly, most high-level executives have major egos. They don't think they need this sort of feedback, and they don't want it. But they do need it. The best thing to do is get a coach. Failing that, create an environment that encourages feedback of all types, and get videoed. I can tell a client her expression looks disdainful until I'm blue in the face. But when she sees it on video, it really hits home.

Getting etiquette right is doubly important, and doubly hard, in international business. The old adage "When in Rome..." still applies. But unless people are really attuned to and practice the etiquette of their own culture, they're probably not going to do a good job modifying their behaviors for another culture. I heard about an American executive traveling in Japan who took a Japanese colleague's business card and then absentmindedly picked his teeth with it. That's a big mistake even in the United States, but you can imagine the Japanese executive's reaction. It's not enough to read a book and take a one-day course on Japanese business etiquette before you go. You've got to nail your own culture's etiquette first. Then you step out of your culture, look back at it, and compare it with the other culture. Bear in mind also that humor doesn't travel well across cultures. It can bomb badly. Here's a mistake I made. I was in Kuwait, and I was invited to my agent's home for dinner. I walked in, and on the dining room table there was food laid out from one end to the other. They must have been cooking for a week. And I said, "Do you think there's enough food?" Oops. My agent thought I was serious. Fortunately, we were able to talk about it later and have a good laugh. The point is, unless you know exactly what you're doing, don't try to make a joke.

So, to return to the question of how you tell your boss his fly is down (or that she has lipstick on her teeth): The mistake to avoid is to not say anything. The cost of not telling could be high if it appears that you knew and kept quiet. It's simple. Just give him the facts, quietly if possible. "Bob, your fly is down." If you're embarrassed, get someone else to do it. Everybody wins: The boss is saved from embarrassment, and you'll go up a notch in his estimation for your nerve and for limiting his exposure.

Barbara Pachter is President of Pachter & Associates, a consultancy specializing in business communications and etiquette. This blog is adapted from her HBR article Bosses Behaving Badly.

Six Rules to Master The Power of Framing Context

June 10, 2011
by: Kevin Sheehan

All those years ago, when I was spending halcyon days in business school, our professors would occasionally simulate important leadership situations, and ask members of the section to role-play how they would handle them. One bright spring morning in communications class, our instructor opened a case study about a company in crisis. It had released a product that was being recalled for especially egregious flaws.

The issue in the case was how to handle the press under pressure. The company’s future was on the line, with the CEO’s performance at a press conference that day being the critical moment. The fate of many employees and stakeholders depended on the leader managing the press conference. It was an exciting exercise to listen to the different styles and different framing strategies that my classmates used to work their way through the case.

I remember one colleague doing a particularly effective job. He role-played the CEO in the cross hairs. After his time in the spotlight, our professor, who specialized in business communications, asked him how he had managed the mock press event so well.

“I drew an imaginary circle around myself,” he said. “Everything inside the line I knew I would comment on in detail—everything outside the circle, I would recognize, but not delve into any real details. These were the issues I determined were outside our communications strategy and tangential to the important dimensions of the topic. I didn’t want to wander off into territory that might put the organization at risk.”

BecomeALeader has presented a series of articles about leadership mindsets that are critical to understand as you develop your capacities. The next step is to frame a situation and communicate it well; this is a powerful tool that can help you with your interactions with a variety of core constituents.

In her recent book The Power of Framing, Gail Fairhurst presents an important series of rules for how to manage and frame communications as a leader. “People know what they say,” she explains, “and they usually know why they say what they say. What they do not understand is what what they say does.”

It’s important, in other words, to understand not only the content of our communications, but also the powerful effect those communications have on the people with whom we work. Leaders’ communication styles fall into three basic categories, says Fairhurst: expressive, conventional, or strategic. Expressive leaders automatically say what’s on their mind. Conventionals say what they believe is proper. Strategic leaders understand that most communications have important meaning and impact, and approach them accordingly. Fairhurst’s six rules for framing your communications take these different styles into account.

Rule 1: Control the Context. Leaders often cannot control events, but they can control the context under which events are seen—provided they recognize the framing opportunity.

Rule 2: Define the context. At its most basic level, framing reality means defining “the situation here and now” in ways that connect with others.

Rule 3: Apply ethics. What people perceive to be reality is often subject to much disagreement. Framing a subject is an act of persuasion by leaders, one that is imbued with ethical choices.

Rule 4: Interpret uncertainty. It is the uncertainty, confusion, and undecidability of “the situation here and now” that opens it up for interpretation and provides an opportunity for the more verbally skilled among us to emerge as leaders.

Rule 5: Design the response. Ultimately, leadership is a design problem. Leaders must figure out what leadership is in the context of what they do and, through framing and actions, persuade themselves and other people that they are doing it.

Rule 6: Control spontaneity. Effective framing requires that leaders be able to control their own spontaneous communications.

God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders

Many of the men who trained to be Mormon missionaries have gone on to become among the most distinguished persons in American business and civic life

Left to right: Eric Varvel, Jon Huntsman Jr., David Neeleman Illustrations by Brandon Bird

By Caroline Winter

Before setting out in orderly pairs to spread their gospel door-to-door, nearly all U.S. Mormon missionaries pass through the Provo Missionary Training Center. Inside the sprawling brown-brick complex, thousands of 19- and 20-year-old men in oversized black suits work alongside women in below-the-knee skirts and brightly colored tops. All of them wear name tags.

For one to three months (depending on the language challenge ahead), their days begin at 6:30 a.m. and end at 10:30 p.m., and include 10 hours of class and study time. On their one day off per week, missionaries-to-be do laundry, write home, and stock up on supplies at the training center store where pre-knotted ties ($15-$20) and key-chain rings with screw-top vials for carrying consecrated oils ($3.50) hang beside highlighters, alarm clocks, and hymnbooks translated into roughly 50 foreign languages. The grounds are under tight security, and no one leaves without permission. This is the last stop for roughly 20,000 young Mormons each year before they're driven 45 miles north to Salt Lake City International Airport and whisked off to one of more than 150 countries to make converts.

The Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) and its curriculum are designed to render all trainees equal servants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), yet many of the men who prepared for their missions here, or at the center's earlier incarnations, have gone on to become among the most distinguished and recognizable faces in American business and civic life. There's Mitt Romney (mission: France), who as of 2007 had amassed an estimated $190 million to $250 million as head of Bain Capital, rescued the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics from a corruption scandal, spent four years as the governor of Massachusetts, and announced his second run for President on June 2. His potential rival for the Republican nomination is Jon Huntsman Jr. (Taiwan), a former Utah governor who negotiated dozens of free-trade agreements as a U.S. trade representative and served as ambassador to China from 2009-2011. The list also includes JetBlue (JBLU) founder David Neeleman (Brazil), Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Eric Varvel (who confirmed training at the Provo MTC but would provide no more information), self-help mogul Stephen Covey (England), author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Kim Clark (Germany), former dean of Harvard Business School, and Gary Crittenden (Germany), who's served as CFO for Citigroup (C), American Express (AXP), and Sears Roebuck.

Gary Cornia, dean of Mormon-run Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management, is often asked what makes Mormons so successful. "I'm not going to say we beat everybody out, but we do have a reputation," says Cornia. "And one of the defining opportunities for young men and young women is the mission experience." Reflecting on his own mission to the mid-Atlantic states, Cornia adds, "When I left, the son of a relatively poor mother and a father who died when I was young, I frankly didn't know if I could do anything. I came back with the confidence that I can accomplish most hard things. I may not have had that otherwise."

The Mormon Church is 181 years old, and its adherents compose less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, according to a 2009 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). Yet Latter-Day Saints hold, or have held, a seemingly disproportionate number of top jobs at such major corporations as Marriott International (MAR), American Express, American Motors, Dell Computers (DELL), Lufthansa, Fisher-Price (MAT), Life Re, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Madison Square Garden, La Quinta Properties, PricewaterhouseCooper, and Stanley Black & Decker (SWK). The head of human resources at Citigroup is Mormon, and in 2010 Goldman Sachs (GS) hired 31 grads from BYU, the same number it hired from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

There's a risk of stereotyping in drawing conclusions about any religion based on a sampling of its exceptional adherents, but church leaders and Mormon businessmen embrace the idea that there's a relationship between the missionary experience and success in business. "The mission is like a crucible experience [and] a lot of people come out with the capacity to lead," says Clark, who left HBS in 2005 to preside over BYU-Idaho at the request of the LDS Church's then president, Gordon Hinckley, regarded by Mormons as a living prophet; as Clark tells people, "It was like getting a phone call from Moses."

Almost all of the Mormon businessmen contacted for this story—the teachings of the church encourage women to stay home—see a connection between their faith and their work. (Romney and Huntsman did not respond to interview requests.)

So far the church has sent over 1 million missionaries into the world. All young Mormon men, referred to as "elders," are asked to serve a mission if they are in good standing. Young women, called "sisters," serve voluntarily and make up about 20 percent of the missionary force. Roughly 50 percent of U.S. Mormon missionaries go abroad to countries as disparate as Albania, Ghana, Micronesia, and France, with each individual's placement a matter of "divine inspiration," according to the Provo MTC's director, Richard I. Heaton. Young Mormons submit their medical records and basic CVs to the "Twelve Apostles," who in stature rank just below the church's president. The group then prays to find out where each individual is needed.

Once on site, missionaries pay a $400 share of their room and board and are required to live as the locals do. "The wonderful thing is that you don't experience Korea from the 25th floor of the Hyatt," says Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, a Rhodes scholar and board member at India's Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), who did his mission in Korea from 1971 to 1973. "They don't have air conditioning, you don't have air conditioning; they don't have plumbing, you don't have plumbing."

Each elder or sister spends every moment of every day in tandem with another, sleeping and rising at the same time in a shared room. That companion isn't always American and doesn't necessarily speak English. For the next two years, these "companionships" proselytize for 10 hours a day, six days a week, knocking on doors and offering The Book of Mormon to strangers, often in languages the missionaries barely know how to speak. They must persuade people to listen and learn to persevere in the face of near-constant rejection. "I don't think there's any more demanding profession than being a Mormon missionary," says Christensen.

Over the course of a mission, each individual rotates through two or three companions, an experience that forces the development of interpersonal skills, according to Joseph Ogden, assistant dean at BYU's Marriott School. One person is always assigned a senior role, usually on the strength of time served. Sometimes seniority is assigned by church officials' assessment of leadership abilities. Ogden remembers being given senior status over a 26-year-old ex-Green Beret while on his mission to Australia. "I was this lanky teenager ... and you could tell he really wanted to be in charge," says Ogden. "That was a tough one."

Missionaries aren't allowed access to news and are only permitted two phone calls home each year, on Mother's Day and Christmas. Guidelines are laid out in a pocket-sized handbook that Provo MTC President Gordon D. Brown says helps them to focus, stay safe, and integrate faster. The book has instructions on a wide range of activities: Full-court basketball games, for example, are banned, while half-court is permissible. Returned missionaries say that simply abiding by all the rules is enough to impart a sense of accomplishment.

Serving abroad helps Mormons learn languages (around 70 percent of BYU students are bilingual). It also seems to provide them with insight into foreign cultures and economies, an asset many missionaries have used to start businesses and careers. Neeleman served in Brazil and, after founding JetBlue Airways, went on to start Azul Airlines, a domestic Brazilian carrier. L. Todd Budge, chairman of Tokyo Star Bank, used his mission experience in Japan to become the first non-Japanese CEO of a Japanese bank and says he may never have gone abroad at all if the church had not sent him. Allan O'Bryant, now Japan CEO at Reinsurance Group of America, served in Japan and later became the president of AFLAC International.

Mitt Romney served in France from 1966 to 1968, after his freshman year at Stanford University. Widespread anti-American sentiment at the time made proselytizing especially difficult; in a 2007 New York Times article, Romney described his mission as humbling, saying it was the only time in his life "when most of what I was trying to do was rejected."

As the son of George Romney, the ex-American Motors CEO who was then governor of Michigan, Mitt Romney enjoyed privileges unheard of for most elders and entered the mission field of Bordeaux and Paris having completed three years of French at Michigan's elite Cranbrook School. Once on site, Romney broke handbook rules to sneak out to the movies and eat coq au vin, and used his father's connections to arrange a meal at the American Embassy, according to the Times. Still, Romney has credited the experience with deepening his faith and ambition. Eager to move up through the missionary ranks, he experimented with innovative means of getting out the Mormon Word, like hosting "American night" at a local café and staging an exhibition baseball game. According to The Washington Post, he also pitched articles about Mormons to newspapers and even tried proselytizing at bars.

Romney's mission was marred by tragedy. On June 16, 1968, he was asked to chauffeur the couple presiding over the region's missionaries and was at the wheel during a head-on collision that killed the mission president's wife. Romney was left unconscious and so badly mangled that a police officer mistakenly pronounced him dead. He was rushed to the hospital and found to have a concussion, fractured ribs, and a broken arm.

When the mission president returned to the U.S. to bury his wife, Romney was asked to take charge of the region's missionaries, who numbered around 200. He thrived in the position, traveling across France to lead conferences. Under his leadership, France's missionaries exceeded 200 baptisms for the first time in a decade.

Dave Checketts is chairman of the sports, entertainment, and media enterprise SCP Worldwide, the owner of the St. Louis Blues, and a Mormon whose past titles have included CEO of Madison Square Garden. Checketts served his mission in East Los Angeles, mostly walking the streets of neighborhoods such as Compton, Whittier, and Boyle Heights. The hardest part, he says, was splitting from his comparatively comfortable teenage life. "You leave your family, your friends, your car, you don't date for two years, and you're 19 years old," he says. "I missed my freedom, I missed going out to eat—I was suddenly working hard, knocking on doors, trying to find people who would listen, dressing every day in a shirt and tie, whereas before I probably had on a T-shirt and jeans."

In witnessing extreme poverty and wealth, Checketts says he understood that he needed to take responsibility for his future. Upon returning to college, he shot to the top of his class and later became president of the National Basketball Assn.'s Utah Jazz at the age of 28. "What happens on a mission is that you grow up pretty fast," he says. "You're dealing with adult problems and adult issues, because when you're teaching somebody the gospel of Jesus Christ, you're typically meeting people who want to improve their lives ... and you kind of get a sense for how you'd like to live your life; you get serious about life, about school, about work."

Kevin Rollins, the former CEO of Dell Computers and currently a senior adviser to TPG Capital, says the rejections spiked with occasional successes that he experienced during his mission in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, prepared him for entrepreneurship. "When you get into the business world, most of what you try doesn't work either," he says. "And so the notion of having focus and determination, working hard, and leading others along with you, those principles are all things you would look for in a corporate executive, vs. someone who closes his tent after one little disappointment."
Mormons, who consider their faith to be a Christian denomination, take Biblical exhortations to work hard to the extreme. "Mormonism is kind of like the Puritan ethic on high," says Nathan Furr, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at BYU's Marriott School. "There's total emphasis on self-sufficiency, on working hard."

This aspect of the missionary experience is rooted in the religion's origins and permeates all aspects of Mormon life. Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, a seventh-generation Mormon whose relatives were among the state's original settlers, admires the Mormons who found Utah after leaving behind New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. Settlers, in his words, "harnessed the snowpack and built reservoirs and canals and ditches, and ... literally made the desert blossom like a desert rose." Herbert's account could be straight fromThe Book of Mormon's version of how the land of Helam was made fruitful: "And they pitched their tents, and began to till the ground, and began to build buildings; yea, they were industrious, and did labor exceedingly."

Simply belonging to the highly managerial Mormon Church requires work. Mormons depend upon an unpaid "lay" clergy composed of ordinary congregants tapped to lead sermons each week. Congregants don't just go to church on Sunday, they run the church, filling all the positions from Sunday school teacher to bishop, serving an estimated five to 25 hours each week. At the same time, they are expected to pay a 10 percent tithe on their incomes while encouraged to raise large families. Only those who tithe are given "temple recommends," passes which are required to enter Mormon temples.

Church obligations start early. "Children at a very young age begin to learn things that leaders have to do—speak in public, interact with people, teach," says Kim Clark. Public speaking starts with two-minute presentations at the age of three, according to Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the church. The goal is to "help them internalize their beliefs," she says, and any professional benefits are secondary. Mormons don't undergo grueling Battle-Hymn-of-the-Tiger-Mother upbringings, but teenagers are expected to get up early and attend seminary one hour before school, five days a week. Kids age 12 through 18 progress through hierarchical rings of youth groups, each of which has two or three appointed leaders who learn to hold meetings, take responsibility for their groups, and check on members who aren't attending church regularly. One former Latter-Day Saint, a facial plastic surgeon from Brazil named Marcello Jun de Oliveira, says church commitments are so intense that "when you finally start a job, it's just like churchit's so much work."

Kevin Rollins, whose Mormon roots go back to the religion's founders (and who says he worked 20 hours a week for the church while putting in another 100 hours at Dell), remembers conducting youth group meetings as a child. "You learn by experience that it's better to have an agenda, have a plan, have a structure, have people participating ... and if you have to discipline somebody, you learn to do that in private," he says. When Dell hired him from the consultancy Bain & Co. to head up the company's Americas division—accounting for 70 percent of the company's revenue at the time—Rollins had no prior experience as an executive. "I can still remember, I was at my first meeting at Dell ... and there were, oh, I don't know, 12 executives, and I think they were stunned at how I came in and ran the meeting, knowing how to run a meeting from all the times I had run one as a church member," he says. "I really owe most of that natural instinct there to the training I received as a young kid."

The church itself is a well-run global conglomerate. Ryan T. Cragun, an assistant professor at the University of Tampa and president of the Mormon Social Science Assn., says the church likely owns more acreage than there is in the state of Delaware. In Florida alone, he says, Mormons own 10 times as much land as Walt Disney (DIS), including a $1 billion for-profit cattle and citrus ranch. The LDS Church also owns commercial hunting grounds, radio stations, newspapers, real estate developers, shopping centers, and a land management company in Hawaii. Churches in the U.S. are not required to report their finances, and the Mormon Church does not, but the Financial Times in 2010 estimated the LDS Church's worth at $25 billion to $30 billion.

Mormons insist that self-improvement and self-reliance, not material wealth, are their religious aims, yet the Book of Mormon states, "And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church" (Alma 1:31). The same passage goes on to explain why non-Mormons fall short: "For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes." Armand L. Mauss, professor emeritus of Sociology and Religious Studies at Washington State University, notes that "Mormons tend to assume that if they are doing their best in meeting their religious obligations, God will bless their worldly efforts."

In fact, Mormons fall in the middle of the socioeconomic spectrum, their numbers perhaps skewed lower by recent converts who tend to be less educated and less wealthy, according to Furr and others. Even so, Latter-Day Saints are less likely than the general public to be in the lowest income bracket, according to the Pew Research Center.
BYU's Marriott School, housed inside a bland box of tinted glass and gray pebble slabs, is a 10-minute drive from the Missionary Training Center and 2,000 miles from Wall Street. Most high-ranking business schools are located in major urban centers; BYU has Provo, a city of roughly 100,000, laid out on a grid of colossal six-lane streets built up into a maze of housing developments, hotels, and fast-food chains. Still, Dean Cornia says, "[Wall Street finds] it interesting enough to continue to hire. If we weren't producing, I don't think we'd end up there."

BYU's undergraduate business program ranked 11th last year, just behind Georgetown University, according to Bloomberg Businessweek's annual rankings. BYU ranks No. 1 for invention disclosures, new patent applications, and startup companies spun out per every $1 million of research expenditure, according to the Association of University Technology Managers.

Of 127 full-time faculty members, Kristen DeTienne, a professor of organized leadership and strategy, is the sole non-LDS professor and, although she says she doesn't "buy into the religion," she is floored by the Mormon work ethic. "They have this song that they sing all the time, it's called Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel." After a shy attempt at the hymn, DeTienne corrals the school's PR manager, Chad Little, to provide a more polished rendition. He obliges in a sweet tenor: "The world has need of willing men/Who wear the worker's seal/Come help the good work move along/Put your shoulder to the wheel."

Non-Mormons who make a point of hiring Latter-Day Saints go back at least as far as Howard Hughes, who surrounded himself with Mormons, trusting them over others because of their reputation as hard-working teetotalers. Ronald Reagan also employed several LDS staffers and once declared, the "Mormon contribution to American life is beyond measuring," according to historian Michael K. Winder. DeTienne says she knows several executives at top companies who express enthusiasm about hiring Mormon employees, in part because they are often faithfully married, which tends to make them "more mature and better at managing their time, establishing priorities, working hard."

Mormon women are partners in those faithful marriages, yet they're almost absent from the business landscape. The Marriott School's MBA class of 2011 is only 12 percent female, compared with HBS's 36 percent, and although LDS spokeswoman Jessica Moody says Mormon women do hold leadership roles at small companies, none have reached the corporate leadership heights of Mormon men. Women are urged by the church to pursue education, but the Mormon Proclamation on the Family, which, according to religion scholar Mauss, attained near- canonical status after its issuance in 1995, says men should provide for families while women should raise children. In his 2007 book The Mormon Way of Doing Business, Mormon journalist Jeff Benedict includes a chapter titled "The Secret to Success," dedicated entirely to the stay-at-home wives of famous Mormon CEOs. "The wives' deep commitment to the home" is the glue that keeps Mormon families together, says Benedict, and also "vital to the success of these CEOs' performance at work."

Kevin Rollins stresses that both man and wife must be devoted to the family, but that in "the Mormon model, a woman would take care of the kids and the husband would assist her and go out and work and make all the money they need to survive." Scholar of Mormonism Melissa Proctor also notes, "A Mormon woman who has post-graduate education is less likely to attend church," perhaps because "an advanced degree does not contribute to an LDS woman's status within the church," whereas the church tends to fill its top positions with professionally successful men.

To some, the Mormon emphasis on success can seem restrictive. John Schultz, a 33-year-old warehouse manager in Toronto, opted for a "voluntary excommunication" in 2003 when his bishop scolded him for failing to tithe and missing Sunday services for work. His resentment toward the church had been building for some time. "Growing up [in the Mormon Church], there was all this focus on the middle-class lifestyle, on going to college," he says, explaining why he felt like a misfit. "You had to look a certain way and act a certain way." Schultz theorizes that the church's insistence on a middle-class appearance is PR to win mainstream acceptance and recognition as a Christian faith. "In religious and theological communities, Mormons are always pushed to the side," says Schultz. "If they're even considered Christian by the Christian majority, they consider that a huge gain. I think that's exactly why there's the pressure to put on this face."

De Oliveira, the Brazilian surgeon, considers himself a secular Mormon. He left the church because of its role in dismantling gay marriage in California and because of what he described as class-ism in his chapel. De Oliveira, who notes that the vast majority of new converts are poor, witnessed the church's influence in making some low-income families upwardly mobile, while several others spoke with him about feeling excluded by wealthier congregants who held all the top leadership positions. "Here in Brazil, I attended a ward [parish] for half a decade where the chapel would literally, and physically, split itself down the aisle," he says.
At the Salt Lake City airport, three teenage elders in white shirts and black suits are headed to Brazil on 24-month missions. Only one of them has been outside the U.S. They say they're fully prepared for their undertaking and have never felt as much love as during their training period at the Provo MTC ("with 3,000 young men dedicated to serving"). Elder Hildebrandt, 19, says he can't wait to be changed by his mission. "It's only two years," he says. "People come back, and they're just totally different ... they don't need mom anymore."

As for the prospect of having two Mormon Presidential candidates in 2012, the elders say they're not generally interested in politics. None have heard of Jon Huntsman, and they don't have much to say about Romney. Upon reflection, though, Elder Hildebrandt says, "One good thing about having a Mormon President—we'll be able to hold him to a higher standard."

Winter is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why we trust people we do not know


Trust is essential to successful business interactions, but it also involves risk. A supervisor who trusts a subordinate to complete a task could lose out on a raise or promotion if the subordinate botches an important assignment. Given the stakes, it makes sense that trust develops gradually, allowing people time to assess the trustworthiness of others. But some decisions to trust are made swiftly, as in the case of investors who trusted Bernard Madoff, head of the largest Ponzi scheme in history. What causes us to trust someone we do not really know?

To find out, J. Keith Murnighan, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, and Li Huang, a doctoral student also at the Kellogg School, conducted a series of experiments using the Trust Game. They used subliminal cues, such as the name of a good friend, to prime feelings of trust. Their findings help explain the good vibes we sometimes immediately pick up from strangers, and also help explain why even sophisticated investors fall victim to financial scams, such as the one perpetrated by Madoff. “We found we could stimulate feelings of trust for a stranger without people even realizing,” Murnighan says, an outcome he finds “both exciting and scary.”

In the Trust Game, offerers decide how much money to send to anonymous receivers, knowing that receivers will get triple the amount sent and will then have the option of returning as much of the windfall to the sender as they wish. Sending a large amount of money indicates a high degree of trust because the receiver is not required to return anything.

“We found we could stimulate feelings of trust for a stranger without people even realizing.”

Before volunteers participated in the Trust Game, Murnighan and Huang asked them to provide the names of people they trusted and people they did not trust. Then researchers quickly flashed these names to subliminally prime the study participants. After that, the subjects were asked if they wanted to send money to an anonymous stranger, with the understanding they might get some money back. Participants who had seen the names of people they trusted sent larger sums and were more likely to believe money would be returned to them. Because the priming was so brief—mere milliseconds—no one was able to recognize the names that had been flashed before the Trust Game.

The researchers varied the experiment, asking subjects to provide the names of objects they liked and objects they did not. Another iteration asked subjects to provide the names of people they liked and those they did not like. The researchers found that object names did not stimulate trusting feelings, but the names of liked people did. The two experiments indicate that feelings of trust are rooted in human relationships. “It’s more than a positive state of mind,” Murnighan says.

Eliciting Trust
The study builds on previous research by Murnighan and others into the reasons why we sometimes trust strangers. Those studies have shown that trust is more likely if individuals expect to see one another in the future. The expectation of reciprocity also is a powerful motivator, Murnighan has found. Trust may also arise from positive organizational associations, such as schools or churches. This factor is at work in the marketing of affinity credit cards.

“We develop trust schemas—cognitive structures—that create expectations about how things are going to go,” Murnighan notes. Such cognitive structures may help explain why members of movie crews, who have little experience working together, trust each other to fulfill their roles. These internal trust schemes are built over time and help us decide “who we should trust and who we should not trust—whether this person is acting in a way that will hopefully benefit us rather than just benefiting themselves,” Murnighan remarks.

This latest set of studies suggests that the potentially risky decision to trust can begin below an individual’s conscious awareness—before there is time to evaluate or verify other information, like an individual’s reputation. This process can enhance the efficiency of social interactions, but it also increases our vulnerability to subliminal cues. “Imagine a fanatic fan of Elvis Presley,” Murnighan says. “If I know someone is a huge fan of Elvis, I might casually drop Elvis’s name to activate more trust in me. There is clearly a risk of manipulation.”

Madoff intentionally or inadvertently may have used this process, Huang says. For example, a prospective investor may have spotted friends’ names on Madoff’s client list, enhancing Madoff’s trustworthiness in the investor’s mind. Now, those who share the family name Madoff may suffer from this process—this might explain why Bernie Madoff’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie Madoff, sought a name change for herself and her children, Huang points out.

“Con men drop names to stimulate trust, and though we know to be cautious about that, we can still be affected,” Murnighan says. Used in the right setting, however, subliminal cues can be valuable management tools for building teamwork and cooperation. “Stimulating trust, if an organization has good intentions, can get over the kind of suspicion we have as a default,” he adds. Managers might stimulate trust by posting pictures of trusted role models and leaders.

Murnighan is planning a follow-up study to see if automatic cues can create a more trusting environment in sales negotiations, such as haggling over a used car. “If we actually trust, we can share our preferences—I may be more interested in price than a guarantee, you might be more interested in dependability than price—and reach a better agreement,” he says.

Related reading on Kellogg Insight

Name-Letter Branding: How your name can influence your choices

Measuring Trust: Introducing the Financial Trust Index

Trusting the Stock Market: Impressions influence investors decisions

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Upside Learning Daily

The Upside Learning Daily

Top 9 Company Names


3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co.): Short and Sweet

When it came to finding a simple company name, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company had its hands full. Founded in 1902 by five entrepreneurs in Two Harbors, Minnesota, the company wanted to be innovative, but the name sounded robotic and dull. The founders eventually discovered the company's nickname 3M was the solution. The simple name now matches its innovative products like Post-It notes and Scotch tape. Abbreviations and acronyms are the perfect remedy for long and challenging names.

Apple: Challenging Perceptions

When Steve Jobs wanted to create a new line of personal computers in the 70s, computers were considered foreign and inaccessible. So when it came to the company name, Jobs searched for a friendly, inviting name to attract everyday people. Co-founder Steve Wozniak supposes the name Apple was inspired by Jobs's stay at an Oregon commune, which was completely surrounded by apple trees. But however the inspiration came to him, Jobs made Apple into a leader in consumer electronics innovations, with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad devices attracting computer and noncomputer types alike.

BAPE: Thoughtfulness Counts

Company names with substance can help to define the brand's identity. BAPE, a cult clothing company founded in 1993 by music producer/DJ Tomoaki "Nigo" Nagao, stands for "A Bathing Ape." The name is derived from an old Japanese saying, "A bathing ape in lukewarm water," which refers to overindulgence. It was the perfect concept for the company, which targets the egotistical and overconfident youth. In other words, when you think of names consider who your products will be serving.

Kodak: The Power of "K"

George Eastman, the founder of Kodak—both the camera and the company—loved the letter "K." Before arriving at the name "Kodak" in 1892, Eastman tested several combinations of words starting and ending with "K." Eastman believed the right name would be memorable, would not resemble anything else, and could not be mispronounced. However, above all else, it must have the letter "K" because he believed in the letter's punch and effectiveness. Kodak has endured over 100 years, having thoroughly ingrained itself in the world of photography and popular culture.

Nike: Just Outsource It

In 1971, Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight, the founders of Blue Ribbon Sports, were set to launch a new line of soccer shoes branded with a design by Carolyn Davidson, called the swoosh. The new shoe line would embrace the spirit of victory, so the marketing minds behind BRS consulted Greek mythology to find their muse: Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory. The name was so good that in 1978, Blue Ribbon Sports officially changed its name to Nike, Inc.

Samsonite: Never Too Late to Change

The Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company, founded in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder, made suitcases and briefcases that emphasized durability and strength. Shwayder named one of his first cases after the biblical figure Samson, a man given supernatural strength by God to defeat his enemies, wrestle lions, slay entire armies. Shwayder started using the trademarked name "Samsonite" in 1941, and changed his company's name in 1966. Significant, relevant names dominate the minds of the public, much more so than common family names.

Virgin: Calling It Like It Is

Before earning his billions, 20-year-old entrepreneur Richard Branson was preparing to launch a mail order record retailer. According to Branson's biography, one of his workers suggested, "What about Virgin? We're complete virgins at business." Branson loved the idea. It embraced who they were, rather than trying to conceal it. In 1970, Branson's mail order business took off. Two short years later came the record shop and then the recording studio.

Häagen-Dazs: Expand the Dictionary

How can you ensure your company's name will never be replicated? Make it up! That's what ice cream makers Reuben and Rose Mattus did in 1961, when they founded their ice cream store Häagen-Dazs in New York. Though the name sounds exotic, the owners will tell you the name doesn't actually mean anything. The Bronx-natives realized the appeal of foreign-sounding names.

Google: Mistakes Aren't Mistakes

Google was originally a misspelling of a word that already exists in the dictionary: "Googol." A googol is defined as a very large number, specifically 10 to the 100th power. Googol was supposed to be a name that would be indicative of the titanic amount of information on the Internet that the company sought to organize. The misspelled domain name "" was still available, so the company settled on "google." Now, both words are in the dictionary, but most consumers only ever use one.

5 Ways "X-Men First Class" Is Like A Startup Business


How do you reboot the concept of a reboot? With a director who values originality, leadership, a strong team, and the power of rabid fans to say whatever the hell they want (as long as they're saying something). Sound like any successful entrepreneurs you know?

By the time a film series gets to its fifth installment, the last throes of a franchise usually fall somewhere in between disappointment (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones), or blatantly shameful money grabs (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure). But now there’s the curious case of X-Men: First Class.

The X-Men franchise, though still profitable, hasn’t creatively evolved since the second film,X2, which was released almost a decade ago. Critics have largely panned subsequent strains of the mutant flicks, including Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). First Class is a film whose title sounds like it's sponsored by American Airlines. Instead, it may just be the best installment to date. Only the filmmakers and Fox can say for sure how this happened, but we’d argue the flick’s early buzz and optimistic box office estimates come from treating First Class less like a rusty franchise in need of a reboot and more like a startup that generated a new set of rules for sequel-loving Tinseltown. Here’s five of them we spotted.

1. Welcome New Leadership

No, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (aka Magneto) are very much still in charge during the course of the film. It’s director Matthew Vaughn who was the relative unknown that was tapped to get behind the camera. The X-Men films are a character driven study--the struggle for outcasts to be accepted within society. Bryan Singer, who directed the first two films, used his experiences as an openly gay man to form the basis for the mutant point of view--it gave the first two films gravitas. After Singer left, directors Brett Ratner and Gavin Hood traded gravitas for non-stop action. What Vaughn brings to the proceedings is a sense of intrigue and danger. Vaughn, known for his cult hits Layer Cake and Kick-Ass, treats this new X-Men film as a '60s spy thriller in the vein of Bond classics like Dr. No. In other words, Vaughn traded all out action for intrigue.

2.) Reinvent Instead of Reboot

Star Trek played this nifty trick back in 2009; going back to the origins of the Starship Enterprise and in the process, creating a whole new timeline. Now, First Class, technically, is still part of the same story as the original films. Thematically, it’s not a true reboot. Financially and creatively, it’s a reboot. Setting the film in 1962 allowed Vaughn to not only take a fresh look at a group of characters that had become stale, but it also allowed him to up the ante, so to speak, by inserting the X-Men into a historically significant event--namely the Cuban Missile Crises. Basically by going back in time, Vaughn avoids the cluttered mess that Ratner left him in the present--the result is clean and fresh.

3. ) Pare Down Over Amp Up

There are one million different mutants depicted on-screen in X-Men: The Last Stand andX-Men Origins: Wolverine. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there were over 30 in The Last Stand, alone. Which meant that there was really no time to dawdle on the relationship between Charles and Erik that made the first two films so good because, hey, we must be introduced to a guy who can gain weight on command (apparently that’s a real power). First Class is Charles and Erik’s story. Sure, other characters surround them--but only five other mutant X-Men. Put it this way: Last Stand ended with an all out battle with so much action on screen that it caused sensory overload. First Class’ signature scene is an important lesson for everyone that "less is more."

4. ) Hire a Team, Not a Marquee

You know what also happens when you marginalize (or kill off) the best two characters from the first two movies? You also marginalize the two best actors in the original X-Menseries: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Obviously, since First Class is a prequel, McKellen and Stewart aren’t going to be able to reprise their roles. Vaughn was wise to seek out Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy to play the roles of Erik and Charles--two actors who have so much charisma on screen that a lot of the supporting characters become an afterthought … and well they should be. Again, this is the story of Erik and Charles. Fassbender and McAvoy are so good together that it (almost) makes you forget how good McKellen and Stewart were together.

5. ) Trust Word of Mouth

Obviously a lot of the topics already hit on are a good way to produce word of mouth box office--i.e. being a good movie. And it does: As of this writing, First Class checks in at 87% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes–-so it has the critical word of mouth. Thankfully, because certainly the initial ad campaign from Fox for First Class didn’t help. Even Vaughn has been critical of some of the initial images released, going as far to tell/Film at one point, "When I found out, I said, what the fuck is this shit, and Fox is running around trying to figure out what happened as well. I agree. It’s like a bad Photoshop…" So, yeah, this is a movie that better have good word of mouth. Though, thankfully, Fox finally stopped releasing Photoshop-esque images and, instead, just started writing big fancy "X"s in the sky--which has paid off with a viral marketing campaign that no floating head of January Jones would ever produce.

Designing Outside the Box

By Michael Allen

Designers who address the three learning phases will find e-learning success.

In many ways, designing successful e-learning is a nearly impossible task. The complexity can be overwhelming, with challenges coming from voluminous content that somehow manages to be incomplete, unsympathetic technology, anxious and inattentive learners, inadequate budgets, subject matter experts who are asked to be designers, and restrictive deadlines.

Many current e-learning solutions are so compromised in the design and development process that, in retrospect, e-learning probably wasn’t the best delivery medium. Simpler media present fewer design and development challenges, expose fewer design weaknesses, and cost less to develop. Unfortunately, they typically have limited potential. They also can become the most expensive solutions because they waste the learner’s time, fail to develop their skills, and do not improve performance. Any ineffective solution is expensive, but poorly designed e-learning ups the ante in wastefulness.

When organizational leaders sit down to analyze what a prospective performance improvement solution is worth, the resulting numbers often exceed, by dramatic amounts, budgets normally expected for the design, development, and delivery of e-learning solutions. However, the expected return-on-investment can be much more than the necessary cost for a highly successful e-learning solution.

In contrast, when managers develop budgets based on traditional training costs or reasonable investments, funds customarily fall far below what’s actually required to fulfill demands. So what can workplace learning professionals do differently? Let’s review a few unsuccessful traditions in e-learning design, and propose a plan for e-learning’s future success.

Unsuccessful traditions

We often think too narrowly of our role as instructional designers, confining our work to defining objectives, organizing content, selecting media, determining learning events, and developing performance measures (tests). These tasks become the boxes used to define and structure the components of a learning solution. But our role as instructional designers isn’t simply to apply design principles and hope for the best; it’s to enable people to perform at higher levels of competency.

If learners fail in performance, we have failed them, even if they scored flawlessly on our posttest. We tell ourselves that learners would perform better if only they would complete all of our e-learning modules, if only they did their homework, if only they’d practice more, if only they’d take a chance and apply the new things we’ve taught them. But these are just excuses. The bottom line is we’ve failed to reach the goal. Designing inside the boxes of an e-learning application, an instructor-led course, or even a blended learning solution is a traditional but narrow view of the design responsibility.

Inside these boxes, designers regularly give little attention to the practicality of learners actually performing on the job what they learned, as well as the level of practice that is necessary to sustain proficiency when performance opportunities might not occur for some time. In addition, designers often fail to address the fact that co-workers might misunderstand or even disapprove of the new practices being taught.

Instead, designers create a string of learning modules; each dependent on the preceding one, each presenting more difficult concepts and tasks to perform, each designed to raise performance to a higher level. There’s an assumption that the learner is totally inside each box with the designer, committed to and focused on each module and approaching it with energy and enthusiasm. E-learning designers need to get out more—out of these boxes, that is.

There are many variables not typically seen as within the purview of instructional design that can sabotage instructional efforts or enrich them. Success requires designers to think expansively about the real lives and influences on learners, including what they care about, what they are trying to do, and how they might perceive the learning solution. Then they can design both inside and outside the confines of the typical learning product.

Successful design

Before revamping the list of design responsibilities, we must first define what we mean by successful design. I do not think e-learning or any other educational program is successful if it results only in high posttest scores. I do not think success is reached if the targeted audience comes only to know things it didn’t before. No one succeeds just by knowing things. Success comes from doing the right thing at the right time.

Success, therefore, is realized only if learners develop and apply appropriate behaviors. Success means learners can recognize real world situations for which they have applicable knowledge or skills and respond effectively. Successful designs not only impart knowledge, but also the propensity to act. They build the confidence necessary to perform well as well as the skill to perform at an effective pace. But what must practitioners do for e-learning to succeed?

Three learning phases Inside traditional boxes, instructional design has generally ignored not only what is happening in the lives of learners while they are trying to learn (conflicting role expectations, sick loved ones, fear of standing out or looking foolish, and so on), but also critical conditions and events that occur both prior to learning and subsequently. Designers need to look at the entire process before people can learn.

Pre-instruction phase. Learners are not a blank slate. They may not know much about the content and skills they are trying to learn, but learners approach learning with various levels of confidence, expectations, readiness, habits, and preferences. They have a general disposition in each of these factors, as well as more specific dispositions with respect to the content (or whatever they know of it) and what they may know of e-learning and other instructional techniques involved.

The period preceding instruction is an important time for setting expectations, energizing learners, and preparing them to learn. Helping learners see that the prospective learning is about behavioral change is a good place to start. Don’t assume that learners understand this. Help them look at learning in a different and more useful way. It isn’t about getting a good grade and then going back to business as usual. It’s about changing what they do and when they do it.

Learning has a purpose for both them and their organization. It can change things for the better for everyone. Change is a simple word. It sounds like progress and improvement to organizational leaders who think, “If we’re not improving (which means changing), we’re falling backward.”

But change strikes fear in the hearts and minds of many employees who have found a familiar if not effective routine of dealing with performance expectations and don’t want to be rooted out of their comfort zone. Neurologists have actually discovered that the brain is wired to avoid change. It senses a sort of pain even when change is being contemplated. To get learners in the mode of thinking about change use exercises such as asking them to think about how things could be better and then describe how such improvements could occur. This is a first step. Then present specific problems and ask learners to evaluate possible solutions to help them move forward to understand the need for changes.

Eventually, pre-instruction phase activities should require that learners commit to changes they will make. Only then will learners be ready for skill-building exercises. When learners are psychologically unprepared for change, they’re also unprepared for the types of e-learning usually offered. With unprepared learners, e-learning fails. Designers need to change before they can expect learners to change, and this means dealing seriously with pre-learning preparation.

Instruction phase. Instructional designers need to make changes as well. In this phase, we need to focus on having learners actually perform work-related tasks, not just acquire knowledge and recognize correct answers. While there is general consensus that learning by doing is better than passive learning, it makes a great difference on what learners are doing during the learning experience.

For example, learners often are taught performance skills, but not the ability to recognize situations that determine which performance skills should be used. Learners need to think about the consequences of alternative behaviors. They need to analyze situations to determine what they should do, then practice both the analysis skills and the performance until these skills become solid and learners develop needed confidence and eagerness to perform.

Informal learning is always at work among workers. Employees are continually gathering information and forming perspectives that may be helpful or detrimental to their performance— whether it is talking with peers about the behavior of others, experimenting on their own to see what actions yelled the greatest accolades or require the least effort, or searching the Internet for alternative ways of working.

To take advantage of informal learning activities and help connect learning to work, programs should challenge learners to use varied avenues of exploration to solve hypothetical problems and develop useful skills and habits for solving problems.

Performance phase. Designers often act like parental turtles, walking off the job when their eggs hatch and leaving their young to fend for themselves. But embryonic skills face a high fatality rate when support terminates at the end of formalized instruction. Just as only one in 100 hatchling turtles survive to maturity, designers leave much to chance if they view what happens to learners after instruction as something that is completely outside their realm of influence.

During the performance phase, designers need to keep in mind that training programs should provide learning experiences for at least two audiences: one set for the target learners and another for their managers. Untrained supervisors, even if they are generally supportive of change, often unwittingly hamper changes because they have not developed mentoring skills, are unfamiliar with new processes being introduced through training, or do not recognize the challenges of change.

In addition, fledgling behaviors can be strengthened when learners have others at the same point in behavior development to compare notes. Facilitating ways learners can talk with each other as they transition learning to actual performance can help. E-learning applications can help learners find each other online and team up with each other in the pre-instruction phase. These teams can continue to bolster performance improvement through learning and long afterward.

Finally, e-learning programs can provide continual opportunities to practice and review new skills. Through increasing intervals, learners can use refresher exercises to keep their skills honed in a way that is rarely possible when traditional learning applications conclude.

Again, because e-learning works in the e-environment, alerting learners to the need for practice and providing various reminders and performance aids at optimally spaced intervals is easy, effective, and inexpensive. 

Michael W. Allen is chair and CEO of Allen Interactions, and author of Designing Successful E-Learning;

How to Create Magnetic Copy to Maximize Your Content Appeal


magnetic force How to Create Magnetic Copy to Maximize Your Content Appeal

Getting people to take actions from your content requires a deep connection with your audience.

We all know the need to implement the right tactics to capture the emotion that leads to those desirable actions. Provide valuable content, use ethical SEO (search engine optimization) tactics, give away free eBooks, free webinars, whitepapers, special reports, you name it.

But if you really want to elevate your conversion rate, you need to understand the art and science of content marketing.

You need to figure out what motivates your audience to click here and sign up there.

Why people give their emails away to complete strangers, follow every call-to-action and come back for more.

Let’s look at the 3 keys of creating powerful content to help you increase your product appeal.

Grab and Keep Attention

How do you read newspaper? How about magazines? Do you every sentence of every word from start to finish cover to cover?

If you do, that’s great, but for rest of us we scan.

In today’s drive-by attention grabbing culture, people do judge a book by its cover.

That’s why magnetic copy must have magnetic headlines that get people curious. It should always be organize around benefits, the “what’s in it for me” must jump out at your prospective customers.

This is why content marketing mimics the format of news with powerful headlines, sub-headlines and bullets. Simply put, human beings are wired to tune out advertising because that’s the natural of our brain to detect deceptions.

People have less resistance with news style formatted content than advertising that looks like, well, advertising!

So start getting into the mindset that you need to write effective copy in order to grab and keep attention.

Focus your coy on the results that your customer will get instead of what your product does or the fancy technology behind it. Research your customer’s behaviors, attitudes anddemographics.

People only really care about themselves so keep your copy simple to the point and write in a way as if it’s you and one other person that are in conversation.

Your content can break through the noise if it’s interesting and exciting.

Demonstrate Social Proof

Ever since we’re little we associate ourselves with certain type of identifiers. Whether it’s the cloths we wear, the car we drive, the food we eat, the music we listen to, we’re obsessed with being part of a group.

This is human nature and the foundation of our society.

When people first land on your website or visits your social media profile they are looking for validation. The idea of social proof is all about perceived value of your influence and authority.

Who you are, what you do and why should people trust you?

You simply can NOT ignore the fact that people will form opinions in their own mind that reflects the perceived status of your stuff. You literally have less than 10 seconds to make an impression and that’s your instant reputation.

If you want your visitors to stay you must show them you’ve got the goods.

You can do this by leveraging testimonials and user-generated content (UGC) such as reviews or questions and answers (Q&A). Then follow up with some high value stuff that resonates with them right away.

Another method is to show the number of subscribers, comments, retweets or followers you have. The bottom line is that social proof is all about positioning.

Get Them To Take Action

So now you’ve demonstrated your expertise across multiple communities. The next step is to get your audience to take action.

Getting people to take action on the internet is all direct response marketing strategy with effective copywriting techniques. This means integrating measurable call-to-action that gets your visitors to do what it is that you want them to do.

It can be as direct as asking people to buy your product, contact you, input their personal information, share your content or leave a comment.

The trick here is that you must provide enough real value to earn the trust of your prospective customer so you can start building a relationship with them.

People are more likely to do what you ask if you’re open, honest and transparent.

Speak like a friend and stay relevant is the key to motivate people to take action.

The take away: Magnetic copy is about appeal and getting attention not about you or what you know. It’s about becoming your customer and getting people genuinely interested so they will want to know more, see more and take actions that you anticipated by design.

Your customers don’t want your product, service or sign up for anything. What they want is the solution to their problems.

Sure you can create content that appears to do that but ultimately magnetic content helps connecting the dots in all your information to drive out miscommunication.

Real effective content actually does help people and get them the result they want.

How about you? Are you creating content that sticks? Share your top tip for creating effective content in the comments.