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Google Search Learns To Listen & Understand Context

Google Search Learns To Listen & Understand Context | digitalNow | Scoop.it
Google Search is learning to listen - and to put searches in context to provide the information users really want, right when they need it.
Don Dea's insight:

Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.

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digitalNow
Exploring leadership, management, innovation, and technology issues and trends; impacting associations & non-profit organizations in the digital age.
Curated by Don Dea
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Putting lifelong learning on the CEO agenda

Putting lifelong learning on the CEO agenda | digitalNow | Scoop.it
But times are changing. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are facilitating the automation of a growing number of “doing” tasks. Today’s AI-enabled, information-rich tools are increasingly able to handle jobs that in the past have been exclusively done by people—think tax returns, language translations, accounting, even some kinds of surgery. These shifts will produce massive disruptions to employment and hold enormous implications for you as a business leader.

Both of us are educators, with decades of experience working with businesses. We write this letter not to criticize but to make the case for why a new emphasis on lifelong learning is going to become increasingly central to your job: maximizing the value and impact of your organization.
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Focus Outward Rather Than Inward: Five Steps To Adapting Your Message On The Fly

Focus Outward Rather Than Inward: Five Steps To Adapting Your Message On The Fly | digitalNow | Scoop.it
One of the distinctions between a good communicator and an influential communicator is that an influential communicator has the ability to adapt their message on the fly without skipping a beat.

The solution to adapting your message and communication style to your listener is to understand their “why.” How often do you think about your listeners’ “why?" If you are like most busy leaders, you begin a message (either verbal or written) by thinking about what you are going to communicate and how you will communicate it. Before you ever open your mouth, laptop, email app or smartphone, you need to identify the “why”:

• Why is your topic important to this particular audience?

• Why is this conversation or interaction happening now?

• Why should they take the action you want them to take (i.e., how will it benefit them)?
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When Robots Make Us Angry, Humans Pay the Price

When Robots Make Us Angry, Humans Pay the Price | digitalNow | Scoop.it
The customer service industry is teeming with robots. From automated phone trees to touchscreens, software and machines answer customer questions, complete orders, send friendly reminders, and even handle money. For an industry that is, at its core, about human interaction, it’s increasingly being driven to a large extent by nonhuman automation.

But despite the dreams of science-fiction writers, few people enter a customer-service encounter hoping to talk to a robot. And when the robot malfunctions, as they so often do, it’s a human who is left to calm angry customers. It’s understandable that after navigating a string of automated phone menus and being put on hold for 20 minutes, a customer might take her frustration out on a customer service representative. Even if you know it’s not the customer service agent’s fault, there’s really no one else to get mad at. It’s not like a robot cares if you’re angry.
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Why Are Organizations Hiring New CIOs?

Why Are Organizations Hiring New CIOs? | digitalNow | Scoop.it
General dissatisfaction with tech leadership and IT support—as well as significant changes in company direction—are the most likely reasons that an organization will look to change its CIO, according to a recent survey from Deloitte. The accompanying report, "Taking Charge: The Essential Guide to CIO Transitions," indicates that stakeholders most frequently look for leadership and credibility in executive job candidates. They're also interested in whether a potential CIO demonstrates proven strategic thinking skills and the ability to align with the business. In addition, given the perceived issues with tech support, they want a CIO who's willing to revamp the existing IT culture and talent base. "CIOs will likely face many challenges and difficult decisions as they navigate the triangle of time, talent and relationships," according to the report. "This means creating a vision for prioritizing key business initiatives, developing talent and culture, and enhancing governance and operating models to build deeper business relationships. Increasingly, this also means crafting a digital strategy and stepping up as the digital leader of the organization by building multifunctional, agile, empowered teams that are accountable to deliver business impact; developing real-time information systems to support decision making; and encouraging staff to … experiment and adapt." More than 600 CIOs, C-suite executives and business leaders took part in the research.
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Scaling a transformative culture through a digital factory 

Scaling a transformative culture through a digital factory  | digitalNow | Scoop.it
The most successful transfer process begins with launching and testing an MVP (minimum viable product) to collect feedback from business owners and demonstrate impact. The gradual deployment of the product requires clear and continual communications as well as a detailed training plan to make sure all those involved know what’s expected of them. As people learn by doing, on-the-job training is important, along with a readiness to keep iterating based on feedback. Crucially, the business owner needs to put in place incentives to reward new behavior based on criteria such as collaboration, product success, and internal product satisfaction.

Measure the change. If an organization is to systematically change its way of working and keep track of what’s happening, its management systems will need to evolve, starting with KPIs. Nontraditional metrics focused on digital adoption—such as new customer registrations on digital channels or digital-engagement levels for a particular product or service line—are often more useful than traditional metrics like return on investment in tracking the progress of a digital transformation.
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Accelerating Innovation with Rapid Learning Cycles

As innovators, we all want to do three key things:
Create something new, fantastic and disruptive
Bring it to the market fast enough to capture its value and grow our business
Do it again (and again, and again…)
But this is no easy thing, especially item 3, unless you take time to think about it and create a smooth path from idea to delivery. By contrast, structured, rapid innovation can be a repeatable process, and can disrupt your industry all on its own.
The Yamaha-Honda wars of the early-mid 1980s sharpen this point. Yamaha wanted to end Honda’s dominance of the motorcycle industry, so they built a huge production facility and announced they would increase volume and knock Honda down. Honda took a very different approach to the challenge. They used their superior R&D ability, launching something like 178 new motorcycles in the next 18 months, vs. a small fraction of that number by Yamaha.
The result was that the market moved. No customer wanted to buy the outdated technology and style offered by Yamaha. They wanted the new stuff offered by Honda.
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Can You Present Naked Like a Master? 

One of the most critical skills you need to master as an entrepreneur is presenting in front of groups. I’m still amazed when I see an otherwise engaging and passionate entrepreneur suddenly switch off their charm and go into presentation mode when they get up onto a stage.
The blunt truth is that investors, prospects, customers, and employees will all judge your company based on how well you can present it.
So, how do you hone this critical skill? Well, first off shed the popular adage about pretending the audience is in their underwear.
The fact is that you’re the one standing up there butt naked, which is why so many people try to hide behind their slide deck, When I coach speakers for my Master The Gig program the biggest challenge is getting them to walk out on stage without the safety net of a deck and instead step into their vulnerability and passion–you can’t do one without the other.
Whatever your strengths and weaknesses, they are on vivid display when you stand in front of an audience. Rather than shirk from them by hiding behind PowerPoint, show confidence by owning them and staying in the spotlight. Yes, I know it sounds counterintuitive, but when you present nothing is more powerful than naked authenticity.
“…when you present nothing is more powerful than naked authenticity.”
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Value Creation: CEOs Must Tip the Balance Towards Retention 

Value Creation: CEOs Must Tip the Balance Towards Retention  | digitalNow | Scoop.it
Very impressive, won’t you say? And if you were the CEO of or on the Board of companies wouldn’t you want to retain more Customers? Wouldn’t you make it your strategy? Wouldn’t you want to tip the balance in your favour?

So we should be hearing great success stories, great increase in profits. But we don’t hear these stories. Why?

Start by answering these questions:

1. Are HBR, Customer Value Foundation and Forrester and all the experts wrong? Y/N

2. Is this data overstated? Y/N

3. The CEOs and others don’t believe these numbers Y/N

4. Or they do, but their training of focusing on shareholder returns, cutting costs, increasing efficiency and traditional ways of doing the done thing, prevents them from making a big change? Y/N



5. Or they do not know how to make the change? Y/N

6. They are happy with the status quo Y/N

7. They are balancing the focus on various stakeholders in favour of the owners Y/N
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Treat Website Visitors as Respected Guests: Learn From the Bedouins

Treat Website Visitors as Respected Guests: Learn From the Bedouins | digitalNow | Scoop.it
“It’s not just that they take you in, it’s the fact that there are no questions asked.” I overheard a colleague gushing to her officemates about her recent experiences with a Bedouin host in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

She was referring to the Bedouin tradition of unconditional hospitality. The tradition is similar to other hospitality customs worldwide. Yet the Bedouin apply a unique twist. They honor the guest’s emotional, as well as physical, state1. They do not force their guests to change — they allow them to be themselves. 

Only after they have housed, fed and watered a guest for three days do hosts have the right to question his or her origins and plans — and even this must be in a respectful and considerate way.

Your Customers Are Your Valued Guests
Walking away, I had a minor 'Eureka' moment which resulted in a spilled cup of coffee. But the lost coffee was worth it.
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Your Single Customer View Isn’t as Good as It Could Be

Your Single Customer View Isn’t as Good as It Could Be | digitalNow | Scoop.it
A single customer view (SCV) is a marketing best practice that’s key for differentiated customer engagement.

With a single customer view, marketers can send relevant messages, respond rapidly and appropriately and gain the kind of ongoing customer loyalty that drives revenue growth.

We need more insights about our customers, faster, to support customer experience initiatives and to map the winding journeys our customers make. But an SCV is also a moving target: In an era of data and channel proliferation, a true SCV needs a more comprehensive data strategy than we’re used to.

An End-to-End Data Strategy
Eighty-one percent of marketers struggle to create a single view of customers, according to a 2016 survey by Experian. Adding to that struggle is a false sense of security among some marketers, whose application-centric approach to an SCV is painfully out of date.
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The hidden toll of workplace incivility

s the workplace becomes faster-paced, more technologically complex, and culturally diverse, civility matters. Among other things, it helps dampen potential tensions and furthers information sharing and team building.

Yet workplace incivility is rampant and on the rise. The accumulation of thoughtless actions that leave employees feeling disrespected—intentionally ignored, undermined by colleagues, or publicly belittled by an insensitive manager—can create lasting damage that should worry every organization. In research over the past 18 years, I have polled tens of thousands of workers worldwide about how they’re treated at work. Nearly half of those surveyed in 1998 reported they were treated rudely at least once a month, a figure which rose to 55 percent in 2011 and 62 percent in 2016 (exhibit). There’s no single reason for the trend. Workplace relationships may be fraying as fewer employees work in the office and feel more isolated and less respected. Some studies point to growing narcissism among younger workers.1 Globalization may be causing cultural clashes that bubble beneath the surface. And in the digital age, messages are prone to communication gaps and misunderstanding—and unfortunately putdowns are easier when not delivered face to face.
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Memo to the CEO: Are you the source of workplace dysfunction? 

For leaders, there’s a more personal dimension that should be in play, as well: the recognition that we’re all capable, for a variety of reasons (exhibit), of being part of the problem. The risks of turning insensitive and unkind to others increase as you become more senior. Much research shows that being and feeling powerful provokes people to focus more on their own needs and wants, and to become oblivious to others’ needs and feelings. And as we all know, sh*t rolls downhill. Take the pompous and pushy board member labeled “the idea man” by one exasperated Silicon Valley executive team. This director constantly proposed new ideas on everything from business strategies to HR practices to tweaks and massive changes in products. In the CEO’s view, most of the ideas were terrible, yet the director placed constant demands on managers, creating unnecessary distractions and raising stress levels across the executive suite. This CEO devoted big chunks of time to deflecting and arguing with the board bully to protect his team members. That bolstered their well-being and contributed to stronger company performance.
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3 interviewing mistakes smart managers routinely make

3 interviewing mistakes smart managers routinely make | digitalNow | Scoop.it
Clarify what you’re looking for. To make the best use of the short time you have with a candidate, know in advance the specific skills, capabilities, experiences, relationships and cultural fit factors required for the job.
Review candidate materials. Perusing the application, resume, and social media resources in advance allows you to be more efficient. You won’t waste valuable time covering the same ground in the interview – but instead be able to take that knowledge to another level.
Identify a handful of focused, open-ended questions that will get people talking about what they’ve done relative to what you’re looking for. (And there are many online resources that offer question libraries from which to choose.) Having a questioning game plan allows you to focus your attention on candidate answers and teasing out details rather than figuring out your next question.
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Getting ready for the future of work | McKinsey & Company

For workers of the future, then, the ability to adapt their skills to the changing needs of the workplace will be critical. Lifelong learning must become the norm—and at the moment, the reality falls far short of the necessity. The Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning & Development (CAALD), a group of learning authorities whose members include researchers, corporate and nonprofit leaders, and McKinsey experts, recently met in Boston for the second year in a row to assess the state of the workplace and explore potential solutions.
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How to Talk to Each Other About Each Other

How to Talk to Each Other About Each Other | digitalNow | Scoop.it
If you can imagine this, then you also can ask, “How would we create such a conversation with the people who matter, who must be involved?” This means the people who are the problem, not just the ones who like to talk about those people in their absence. You could ask, “What would that demand of us? How would we behave, talk, care for each other in such an environment? Could we do it? How would we handle the emotions, the anxiety, the frustrations? And you could especially ask “Who would we need to be in order to pull this off?”

Our problem all too often is failing to ask that last question in any meaningful way. Instead, we spend way too much time fantasizing about who the others should be, and it just doesn’t help. We don’t even take the time to consider deeply how best we can invite others to be real with us. Instead we stay angry at them for doing what we do, which is to not honestly disclose what’s in our hearts.

I think we have to spend time with that question of who we need to be, awhile anyway, at least until we’re ready to act in faith and take the plunge, knowing we can’t know everything, including in the end even who we truly are.
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How 3-D printing will transform the metals industry 

At a time of high volatility in the cost of raw materials, metal manufacturers are eyeing 3-D printing with intense interest—and for good reason. By significantly lowering production costs and lead times for a variety of metal parts, 3-D printing has the potential to transform the value chain in metal production and reshape the industry’s power dynamics.

The technology, which works by layering rather than eliminating material to create a shape (hence it is also known as additive manufacturing), has several important selling points. First, it requires only three major steps: metal production, powder production, and product printing (with some finishing). Additionally, 3-D printing largely eliminates waste and expands the available design options, allowing manufacturers to adapt products to use less material, incorporate improved mechanical properties, avoid assembly steps, and create new geometries.

The process also makes small production batches more cost-effective, broadening the range of manufacturing options and enabling better customization to end-user needs. For example, a company can locate a 3-D printer at the product’s final destination, such as the maintenance department for the production of spare parts, lowering both logistical challenges and the high cost of ordering complex one-off parts from suppliers.
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Speed and scale: Unlocking digital value in customer journeys 

A structure for scale and speed

In much the same way that the leap to digital means rethinking how an analog process works, the leap from transforming a single journey to tackling many at once means rethinking how digitization works. Even as the organization is building the new capabilities that digital businesses require, it must deploy its existing capabilities very differently in order to achieve scale and speed. The challenge is to balance all of the conflicting demands.

In our experience, six critical, parallel shifts combine to make digitization more manageable and predictable. Depending on an organization’s starting capabilities and strategic needs, the amount of effort the elements require will naturally vary. But all six are essential to ensure that an organization actually makes the changes, derives their full benefit, and can keep improving once the changes are made.
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The Single Most Important Thing to Innovate Is Yourself

Building a New Box
One had come with his wife who was struggling with Alzheimer’s. Together they had built one of the leading businesses in its field. Throughout the event she was by his side, often not grasping who everyone was or what was being talked about. Yet, they were there together. He was still passionately pursuing his dreams, while caring for her. And she was still there with him.
Is it a stretch to try and tie this extraordinary commitment and love to the greater challenge we all have in making decisions about giving up when we are faced with tough circumstances? I don’t believe so. If we hold true to our values and principles then there is never such a thing as giving up, there are only detours.
But staying on course means that you have to know what these values are and you have to live them. It’s not just that you need to get out of the box, but rather that you need to adjust to entirely new boxes, whose dimensions and shapes stretch us to our limits. If you’re not ready to be surprised and fit yourself and your views to these new dimensions don’t expect the world to do it for you.
As my very astute son once said to me, “Dad if you can’t get out of the box do you just decorate it nicely?” Isn’t that what many people settle for, nicely decorated boxes that they can’t stand to be in? You know, the comfortable ones with tall sides that obscure the challenges and opportunities just beyond their perimeter. Isn’t that why you’re an entrepreneur–to build your own box?
“Dad if you can’t get out of the box do you just decorate it nicely?”
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How Innovation Will Affect Aging and the Elderly

The Revolution Against Aging and Death (RAAD) conference is giving reason for scientists and researchers around the globe to coalesce and discuss anti-aging. Director of Coalition for Radical Life Extension, James Strole, told CBS “there are several scientifically proven modalities out there to help reverse aging, and possibly bring you back to your biological age of 25. Extending or lengthening telomeres, gene editing and gene therapy are just a few.”
The Downsides: Loneliness and Cyber Vulnerabilities
It’s important to realize that there are downsides to some of these innovations and advancements too. Bradley University’s Online Program mentions some of them in their online article “Six Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2017” including the influence of Big Data and emphasis on data security. If we’re not careful, we’ll relegate the elderly to being statistics and numbers a la big data, instead of the people with names, faces, families, and interests that we’re supposed to be caring for in the first place.
As far as cybersecurity goes, earlier this year we saw just how destructive a cyberattack can be on global healthcare systems when WannaCry was unleashed upon the world. These systems are prime targets for cyber criminals because they protect our most vulnerable citizens — those that cannot care for themselves. Before we move fully onto implementing innovations that will serve our senior citizens, we need to make sure that they work as intended and are truly serve them positively in the first places.
Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time to be alive if you’re interested in technology. Not only are the innovations that spring up every day exciting, they may keep you alive long enough to see the innovations of tomorrow. Perhaps those innovations will continue the cycle. Who knows; perhaps some day innovation and technology will halt aging altogether.
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Scaling a transformative culture through a digital factory

Scaling a transformative culture through a digital factory | digitalNow | Scoop.it
A new culture

We have identified several must-haves for the culture of a successful digital factory.

Act like venture capitalists. Taking a venture capitalist’s approach to the digital factory means fast decision making driven by clear objectives and criteria. If the business case for funding each journey takes months to approve, the digital factory isn’t going to work. Initial funding for a product (a customer journey or process, for example) should be based on a good idea and a basic case—not endless rounds of analysis. But then the project team needs to show progress at agreed-on milestones in order to get further funding.

The head of the digital factory and the business owner jointly track projects based on set KPIs, working with the team to evaluate and adjust the program in line with real results. If the program makes it through the process, it’s transitioned to the business, and factory leaders redirect funding to new products. If, on the other hand, the new journey or process can’t achieve its goals by a given milestone, then the leadership team kills it.
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Engaged Leadership Is Key to Effective Security

Cyber-security technology solutions continue to advance, as do cyber-attack methods. Yet we see the same vulnerabilities being exploited year after year.

If we worry too much about sophisticated zero-day attacks or become distracted by the overblown promises of the latest software package, we continue to neglect the elements that are proven to protect or expose us. Verizon’s "2017 Data Breach Investigations Report" points out once again that it’s the fundamentals that will be our undoing —but they could also be our saving grace.

A vast majority of breaches (88 percent) fall into one of nine attack patterns—the same nine patterns Verizon identified three years ago. Phishing is still among the most prevalent attack vectors, and lots of people are still falling for it: The report found that one in 14 users had opened a phishy link or attachment, and a quarter of them did it more than once.
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Exploring the Ethical and Social Implications of AI

Exploring the Ethical and Social Implications of AI | digitalNow | Scoop.it
“People attribute mental states, desires and beliefs to things that don’t have them," said Vallor, which opens the door to vulnerability, manipulations and deceit.

AI is inherently hungry for data, so it wants to keep you engaged, according to Vallor. This can create problems, like people becoming more engaged with AI than with other humans.

Imagine an artificial agent following you around saying, "I am lonely. I'm bored. Could you talk to me about movies you like?" The end result, in some situations, could yield time taken away from spouses, children and friends. And, of course, greater amounts of data for marketers who want to manipulate you to get your money.

"We need to think about the way we interact with these systems. We, without thinking, develop emotional and morally-laden relationships with artifacts. This will take-off very quickly and have consequences we didn't expect," said Vallor.

AI Mirrors Our Biases
The panel also noted these interfaces and systems weren't being designed, developed or trained by a diverse group of experts. Meaning sentiment and content analysis could potentially be non-existent for minority groups, including the elderly. After all, if a bot doesn't understand you, it can't take the right action for you, which
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4 Things You Need to Build an Innovative Culture – Innovation Excellence

1. A Focus On Problem Solving
When you think about an innovative culture what probably first comes to mind is a bunch of fast moving hipsters guzzling down energy drinks and pulling all-nighters, pausing only to play a quick game of foosball or frisbee. Or maybe Steve Jobs on stage with a devilish grin just before he wows the audience with “one more thing…”
Yet in researching my book, Mapping Innovation, I found that very few of the organizations I studied looked like that. Some were fast moving startups, but most of the successful ones were led by executives that were mature and thoughtful, not brash or erratic. Others were large corporations and world class labs that tended to be fairly conservative.
The one thing I found in common in every fantastically innovative place I looked at was a disciplined passion for identifying new problems. Unlike most organizations, which are content to struggle with everyday issues, the enterprises I studied had a systematic method of finding new problems to work on that would take them in new directions.
The approaches vary considerably. IBM creates grand challenges, like building a computer that can beat humans at Jeopardy. Experian set up a Datalabs division to find out what’s giving its customers “agita” and launch new business off the solutions they build. Google’s “20% time acts as a human-powered search engine for new problems.
We tend to think of innovation as fast moving, but the truth is that it usually takes 30 years to go from an initial discovery to a measurable impact. So the “next big thing” is usually about 29 years old. If you want to innovate effectively, don’t chase the latest trend, find a problem your customers will care about and solve it for them.
2. Create Safe Spaces
In 2012, Google embarked on an enormous research project. Code-named “Project Aristotle,” the aim was to see what made successful teams tick. They combed through every conceivable aspect of how teams worked together — how they were led, how frequently they met outside of work, the personality types of the team members — no stone was left unturned.
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Increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work

Increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work | digitalNow | Scoop.it
We’ve long been interested in work environments that inspire exceptional levels of energy, increase self-confidence, and boost individual productivity. When we ask leaders about the ingredient they think is most often missing for them and for their colleagues—and by implication is most difficult to provide—they almost invariably signal the same thing: a strong sense of meaning. By “meaning,” we and they imply a feeling that what’s happening really matters, that what’s being done has not been done before or that it will make a difference to others.

The idea of meaning at work is not new. Indeed, two contributions to McKinsey Quarterly1 over the past year have highlighted this theme. In one, the authors demonstrate how misguided leaders often kill meaning in avoidable ways. The author of the other suggests that “meaning maker” is a critical role for corporate strategists. In this article, we will show from our research how meaning drives higher workplace productivity and explain what business leaders can do to create meaning.

Meaning and performance

The mental state that gives rise to great performance—in sports, business, or the arts—has been described in different ways.
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6 tips for managing personal stress

6 tips for managing personal stress | digitalNow | Scoop.it
One of the greatest challenges for professionals is to leave behind their personal challenges when they enter the workplace. We all have a job to do, but when there are struggles at home or with family, such as illness, financial pressures or familial discord, it can be really difficult to hunker down and focus enough to get work done.
For leaders, situations such as these can be even more of a challenge. Not only are they responsible for their own work, but they must see to it that their workforce remains productive as well. Furthermore, leaders oftentimes feel compelled to put on a show of control if not invincibility as part of their leadership persona. Allowing for weakness to show, they feel, can greatly diminish the leadership stature that they so deeply value.
(The irony of such thinking is that while, as David Dotlich points out, great leaders are praised for their successes, “paradoxically, what makes good leaders great are the trials and tribulations of failure … Leaders who have endured adversity are most likely to be the ones with the resilience and resolve to succeed.”)
What can leaders do at times of difficulty in their personal lives to stay focused on what needs to be done at work and be present, in body and mind, for their people? Here are a few suggestions:
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