Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 04, 2023

Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 04, 2023
Weekly Pulse is content curation and highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, ramblings, and other interesting things I discovered and digested during the week.

So, let's go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 - The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution
#2 - How to Manage ‘Invisible Transitions’ in Leadership
#3 - Strategic Intent
#4 - YouTube Extremism and the Long Tail
#5 - How to Build a Meaningful Career
#6 - Breaking Down the Big Picture: A Beginner's Guide to Systems Thinking
#7 - Book Notes: How to Lie with Statistics - Darrell Huff

The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution

Source: Harvard Business Review 
Author: Ingo Marquart, Nora Grasselli, and Gianluca Carnabuci
Year: 2008

Summary: The article discusses the two main levers for successful strategy execution: clarifying decision rights and ensuring information flows where it's needed. It also delves into the idea of structural change as a short-term gain and emphasizes the importance of tackling decision rights and information flows before altering organizational structures and realigning incentives. The article also provides guidance on how to ensure decisions are delegated, information flows properly, and people are incentivized to fulfill the strategy.

3 Highlights:

"... Tackle decision rights and information flow first, and only then alter organizational structures and realign incentives to support those moves..."

"... Make sure important information about the competitive environment flows quickly to corporate headquarters..."

"... When a company fails to execute its strategy, the first thing managers often think to do is restructure. But our research shows that the fundamentals of good execution start with clarifying decision rights and making sure information flows where it needs to go. If you get those right, the correct structure and motivators often become obvious..."

How to Manage ‘Invisible Transitions’ in Leadership

Source: MIT Sloan Management Review
Author: Ingo Marquart, Nora Grasselli, and Gianluca Carnabuci
Year: 2021

Summary: The article provides four steps to help leaders transition into a substantial new role without a change in title or authority. These include: 1) establishing a trusted circle, 2) creating a new vision, 3) developing a clear plan, and 4) managing expectations. The authors emphasize the importance of having a strong support system and the need for leaders to set clear goals and expectations in order to ensure a successful transition.

3 Highlights:

"... Especially when a new job title and a formal promotion are missing, good communication — including soft skills, such as being a good listener and exercising diplomacy — can mean the difference between developing an effective team that trusts your leadership and an ineffective one that doesn’t..."

"... Organizations should acknowledge this reality and actively facilitate this learning process. Leaders and managers would be wise to account for gender differences, too, understanding that men and women often deal with informal transitions in different ways and that their success depends on having the right support..."

"... Because leaders often self-diagnose their situations and take on their own invisible transitions, organizations and their HR teams need to do a better job proactively looking for these changes and recognizing new responsibilities..."

Strategic Intent

Source: Harvard Business School
Author: Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad
Year: 2005

Summary: This article defines "strategic intent" as an ambitious and compelling dream that energizes and provides the emotional and intellectual energy for the journey to the future. They provide three attributes of strategic intent: direction, discovery, and destiny. The process of strategic intent consists of three steps: setting the strategic intent, setting challenges, and empowering the strategic intent.

3 Highlights:

"... Almost every strategic management theory and nearly every corporate planning system is premised on a strategy hierarchy in which corporate goals guide business unit strategies and business unit strategies guide functional tactics..."

"... For smart competitors, the goal is not competitive imitation but competitive innovation, the art of containing competitive risks within manageable proportions..."

"... The strategist’s goal is not to find a niche within the existing industry space but to create a new space that is uniquely suited to the company’s own strengths—a space that is off the map..."

YouTube Extremism and the Long Tail

Source: The Atlantic
Author: Conor Friedersdorf
Year: 2018

Summary: The article "YouTube Extremism and the Long Tail" by Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic in 2018 discusses how YouTube's algorithm is inadvertently driving some of its viewers to increasingly extreme content. It argues that the platform's unlimited selection is revealing ugly truths about what some Americans want in their politics and that its algorithm may have a bias towards inflammatory content. It also draws a comparison to Chris Anderson's "Long Tail" article from almost 15 years ago, which posits that consumers are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with. 

3 Highlights:

"... Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons. It seems as if you are never “hard core” enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm..."

"... Maybe YouTube’s algorithm does steer heavy users toward metrics like “hardcore” or “inflammatory” to raise engagement. But rereading “The Long Tail,” it strikes me that a YouTube radicalization effect would manifest even without that being true. YouTube clearly monetizes “the long tail” in much the same way as did Amazon and iTunes..."

"... Recommendations are a remarkably efficient form of marketing, allowing smaller films and less-mainstream music to find an audience,” Anderson wrote. “And the cultural benefit of all of this is much more diversity, reversing the blending effects of a century of distribution scarcity and ending the tyranny of the hit..."

How to Build a Meaningful Career

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: Amy Gallo
Year: 2015

Summary: The article provides practical steps that individuals can take to achieve a meaningful and fulfilling career. The article outlines four key pillars to consider when making job decisions: Legacy, Mastery, Freedom, and Alignment. Legacy is about the tangible outcomes of your work, Mastery is about the strengths you can use to make the job rewarding, Freedom is about the salary, benefits, and flexibility you need to live the life you want, and Alignment is about the culture and values of the place you work. The article also suggests forming a personal board of directors and conducting experiments to help you understand what is most meaningful to you in a job.

3 Highlights:

"... Work with others to kick the tires on your hypotheses and share the results of your experiments..."

"... Having a financial buffer will make it more likely that when you find something meaningful, you’ll be able to act on it..."

"... Once you’ve nailed down your hypotheses, it’s time to test them. There are a variety of ways to do this..."

Breaking Down the Big Picture: A Beginner's Guide to Systems Thinking

Source: Article of the Week

Learn how to think in a systems way, by considering the complexity of the world with this beginner's guide to systems thinking.

Systems thinking is a holistic approach to understanding and solving complex problems.

It is a way of looking at and understanding how different parts of something work together to make something happen. 

For example, when we look at a city, we see many different parts like buildings, streets, and people. 

Each of these parts is a part of a system that makes the city work. 

Book Notes: How to Lie with Statistics - Darrell Huff

Source: Book Notes of the Week

How to Lie with Statistics offers numerous examples of how manipulating statistical data can be simple and common to build lies around us. 

It covers topics such as how to spot misleading statistics, how to understand and use basic statistical concepts, and how to evaluate the credibility of sources of statistical information. 

It is written in a humorous and accessible style and is considered a classic in the field of statistics, and you don't need a Ph.D. in math to understand it. Huff covers everything from how to spot a misleading average to the dangers of cherry-picking data.

The book aims to teach how statistics can be used to mislead and manipulate people, and how to avoid falling prey to such tactics. 

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Thank you again for reading and I hope to see you soon!

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