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Ryan’s Journal: How To Establish Culture With Asymmetrical Information

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecorey/14292160302/Public image for both companies and people has always been important and even more so with the availability of information at our disposal. But even with these tools we are still dealing with asymmetrical information when making decisions and establishing culture.

I spoke to a friend over dinner the other night who travels overseas for work quite a bit. As a result he is not up to speed on current US events and was unaware of the string of crisis that have impacted Uber.

He was shocked to learn that they were involved in lawsuits, scandals and more. It was actually a bit like hearing it for the first time myself as I had a chance to see his emotions as he learned the news.

His opinion of Uber was shaped on asymmetrical information.

I had mentioned in a previous post that some local companies that tout their high employee reviews are not as shiny from the inside. Again, asymmetrical information.

The director of the FBI has been fired, we as the public are dealing with asymmetrical information for the reasons behind it.

I state all of this to say that we must constantly strive to learn, ingest and understand as much as we can when making decisions about the companies we deal with and people we hire.

I recently took part in a process where a new employee was terminated. It was unfortunate but they were not a good fit for the role, exaggerated a bit during the interview process and then didn’t make up for it after being hired.

This person is someone that I wouldn’t mind being friends with, but they were not suited for the role they were in. The hire was a result of asymmetrical information.

I have looked back on my own life at times when I made foolish mistakes due to my lack of information. Rash decisions that cost me time and money. How do we learn from them?

Here are a few ways I have dealt with this moving forward.

  • Have trusted friends or mentors to bounce ideas off of.
  • Take a day or two when making big decisions.
  • Try to remove emotion from the decisions to ensure you’re not swayed.

These all may be basic (I am not as lofty as I would like), but they can make an impact for the positive.

Image credit: Steve Corey

10 Years of MAPping Company Success

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016


Hard to believe, but my first post was March 2, 2006.

10 years, more than 3000 posts, along with the 800+ written over seven years for b5 Media’s Leadership Turn.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since I started.

Now I’m trying to decide if I want to keep going.

I know from my analytics and subscriptions that I have readers.

Maybe not thousands, because I’m not social and don’t promote.

And I know they are busy people who don’t have a lot of time to comment.


You would think that occasionally something I wrote would resonate enough, whether positive or not, that they would want to add/disagree/tell me I’m nuts/whatever.

But they don’t.

They are you.

So as part of my decision-making process, I’m asking you to take a minute or two and share your thoughts and opinions.

Does MAPping Company Success provide value to you?

Do the ads on the left and bottom annoy you?

Are there subjects you would like me to address?

What would make it better?

Or am I addressing an empty auditorium?

Flickr image credit: Dark Dwarf

Entrepreneurs: Wise Advice

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

The end of the year is always a time for reflection. I can only hope that you take all these words and concepts to heart.

You will be a better person and have a better 2016 if you do.

From Jessica Herrin, founder/CEO of Stella & Dot

Making decisions: What/which has the greater upside? What’s the downside, and is it worth the risk?”

Learning: I had that typical early-entrepreneur hero complex, where it was about how well I did versus how well I helped other people do the work. Then a mentor told me that if I ever want to run a large company, I should go work at one. So I got a job as a middle manager at Dell, and I had to develop skills as a leader. I also got pregnant with my first child, and I was always sick and tired, so I had to become far more focused in how I was spending my time. I learned to focus on what really matters.

Stella & Dot: Our revenue is around $300 million, and we have over 400 people in the home office and about 50,000 independent business owners in six countries.

Culture: I wanted to hire missionaries, not mercenaries. The challenge, especially when you’re growing fast, is to be incredibly fierce about your hiring filters. You have to commit to caring for the culture more than the quarter.

From Jon Olinto, co-founder of b. good restaurants

Goal: to build a community around the idea of “real fast food”—made by people, not factories—and the team felt like one big family, all working toward that goal.

Sustainability: You just have to look for and seize every opportunity to make your people feel valued and purposeful in their work.

Engagement: we incorporated features to reflect our family culture [on new mobile app], the app has also boosted staff engagement in a way we never even expected.

Finally, life advice from teen Jake Baily.

Jake Bailey found out he had Burkitt Lymphoma just one week before he was due to speak at a prize giving ceremony at his school. As senior monitor, it was his duty to represent the class. In the midst of intensive chemotherapy, Jake was permitted to leave the hospital for a brief period to deliver his speech. 

Ducks in a Row: a Relationship by Any Other Name…

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Conscious decisions made as the result of real conversations lead to better outcomes.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a boss and worker, colleagues, friends, parent and child, romantic liaison, or a marriage.

Relationships are the result of two people interacting together.

Relationships can be over in an instant or last a lifetime, but those that last longest have one thing in common.


Decisions are founded on the ability to communicate

Call it the difference between just happening and intentional decisions.

New research shows that how thoughtfully couples make decisions can have a lasting effect on the quality of their romantic relationships. (…) “Making decisions and talking things through with partners is important,” said Galena K. Rhoades, a relationship researcher at the University of Denver and co-author of the report. “When you make an intentional decision, you are more likely to follow through on that.”

Although the research described in the article is focused on marriages, it can be applied just as well to the workplace.

In short, creating strong relationships, at work or away, requires the kind of good communications that lead to intentional decisions.

And it all starts by knowing yourself.

“At the individual level, know who you are and what you are about, and make decisions when it counts rather than letting things slide,” Dr. Stanley said. “Once you are a couple, do the same thing in terms of how you approach major transitions in your relationship.”

Try it; I believe you’ll find that the results make it worth the time and effort.

Flickr image credit: Katy Ereira

Hiring Newbies

Monday, July 8th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/evoo73/9140462500/Do you groan at the thought of having to hire and manage new-to-the-workforce people?

Do you wonder what’s wrong with today’s college graduates?

If so, remember two things.

  1. The problems are not a product of your imagination.
  2. You are not alone.

Multiple studies find the same problems I hear first-hand from managers.

“When it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving.”  –special report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace

“Problems with collaboration, interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, flexibility and professionalism.” –Mara Swan, the executive vice president of global strategy and talent at Manpower Group

What’s changed?

Helicopter parents, crowdsourced decisions, me/my world focus, and the constant noise that prevents thinking.

The result is that many new hires require remedial actions from already overloaded mangers that go well beyond the professional growth coaching that typifies the best managers.

Flickr image credit: evoo73

Miki’s Rules to Live by: Creating Change

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012


This Rule has two parts. They come from different sources, but taken together they will change your life.

The first half is from Alan Kay.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

The second is from Anonymous.

One good wish changes nothing; one good decision changes everything.

Well, what are you waiting for?

Flickr image credit: evan p. cordes

Expand Your Mind: Contrary to the Obvious

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Every so often I read something that seems to fly in the face of accepted practice or is contrary to previous expert information.

For example

According to the media it’s a given that the young, college educated, both students and recent alumni, are focused on following their passions, but, as the saying goes, it ain’t necessarily so.

…91 percent of college students and 95 percent of Millennials (here referring to college graduates between ages of 21 and 32) said that being financially secure was either essential or very important to them.

New research from HBS has reinstated the idea that unconscious thinking has great value (as long as you take decision fatigue into account).

Our conscious mind is pretty good at following rules, but our unconscious mind—our ability to “think without attention”—can handle a larger amount of information.

Do you think that guilt is an indicator of leadership? If you say no you’re not up on the latest research.

“Guilt-prone people tend to carry a strong sense of responsibility to others, and that responsibility makes other people see them as leaders,” says Becky Schaumberg, a doctoral candidate in organizational behavior who conducted the research with Francis Flynn, the Paul E. Holden Professor of Organizational Behavior.

If you were publishing something you wanted people to remember would you choose a simple font or a fancy one that was more difficult to read? If you said ‘simple’ you’d be wrong.

Fancy fonts might be harder to read, but the messages they convey are easier to recall, according to boffins at Princeton and Indiana Universities.

Speaking of publishing; does freedom of speech mean you can use any words you want on the Net with impunity? Maybe, but words like ‘leak’, ‘flu’ and ‘gas’ could put you on a watch list.

The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

Ducks in a Row: Decision Fatigue

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

This article on decision fatigue should be mandatory reading for every manager and worker looking to boost group performance or their own.

It provides scientific explanations why

  • interviews are more difficult if you struggled that morning with decisions about what to wear and the best route to the company;
  • the wrong candidate is hired and the real catch gets away;
  • getting married often lowers productivity (not the reasons you might expect);
  • skipping lunch is as bad as skipping breakfast (which is just plain stupid);
  • having snacks available and buying dinner when working late is required and
  • timing meetings and other critical tasks can make a significant difference.

Decision fatigue is the price every human pays for the multitude of choices we face daily; not just the obvious big ones, but every tiny fork in the road.

“No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.”

Moreover, decision fatigue is a major contributor to ego depletion.

“…ego-depleted humans become more likely to get into needless fights over turf. In making decisions, they take illogical shortcuts and tend to favor short-term gains and delayed costs.”

Not exactly the actions you want in yourself or your people.

The focus on food is obvious once you think about it. Most people know you can’t exercise without providing fuel for their muscles, but seem to think their mind runs on air and desire.

“…psychologists neglected one mundane but essential part of the machine: the power supply. The brain, like the rest of the body, derived energy from glucose…”

Decision fatigue also impacts self-control, AKA willpower, and self-control has a large role in keeping us focused.

Read the article; it provides a scientific basis for creating a culture that helps people deal with decision fatigue and all its ramifications.

“When there were fewer decisions, there was less decision fatigue.”

The solutions lie in an open exploration of the subject with your people and a conscious effort to provide an environment that minimizes the effects of decision fatigue.

“The best decision makers are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.” – Lead researcher Roy F. Baumeister, social psychologist

Flickr image credit: ZedBee | Zoë Power

Know Your Assumptions

Friday, July 9th, 2010


Do you make assumptions? What sort of impact do they have on what you do?

This little exercise is well worth your time.

  1. List the last 5 decisions you made;
  2. list the criteria on which you based your decisions for each one;
  3. think about each criteria and define what percentage of it was grounded in assumptions (you may need to analyze down several layers).

Typically, assumptions underlie most criteria if you drill down far enough.

Knowing that you would do well to remember that assumptions are insidious, sneaky and often masquerade as common sense, logical thinking or general wisdom.

After all, you don’t want your decisions attributed to the first three letters of their actual basis.

Image credit: http://atom.smasher.org/

Expand Your Mind: Decisions and Social Realities

Saturday, June 5th, 2010


Becky Robinson at LeaderTalk presents other bloggers with a monthly theme, posts their submittals, and I pass them on to you; I hope you enjoy them.

This month’s theme was A Leader Allocates Decision Making and Senses Social Realities and Becky says she is continuing that theme in June.

The first post comes from Miki Saxon. It’s a fun look at the way managers delegate tasks to others. Read the post and ask yourself Miki’s question: “Do You Pass the Nanny Test?”

Wally Bock gives practical advice about decision making in his post “Tips for Better Decision Making.”

This post from Utpal Vaishnav tells the story of a leader beyond his title who dares to make a tough decision.

Mike Henry, Sr. tackles the topic of sensing social realities in his post, “Miracles.”

Steve Roesler offers a great model for decision making in his post “Decision Making: Remember Z.”

This guest post on leaders and decision making at Dan McCarthy’s blog gets to the heart of why good leaders sometimes make bad decisions.

Sometimes a decision seems to be between a perfect and “good enough” solutions. Scott Eblin gives some questions to consider when making those decisions in his recent post “Perfect or Good Enough.”

Lisa Rosendahl says that knowing when NOT to make a decision may be a very important skill for leaders. Read her post for perspective about when to wait on a decision.

Here’s a post from Siddharta Herdegen about “The Number One Reason Leaders Fail.”

This last post is one I wrote last year about empowering leaders in organizations. “Empowering Leaders: Hand Over Your Keys” focuses on the importance of developing leaders by letting go of control in order to help people develop competence.

And please join me Monday for a look at the latest and greatest from the Leadership Development Carnival.

Image credit: pedroCarvalho on flickr

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