Tag Archives: organizations

Smarter Teams, Smarter Use of Technology, and a Smarter You

I went on a middle-of-the-night reading binge last night (couldn’t sleep). So, three thoughts, all from my reading…

Thought #1 – we’ve got to make our teams smarter.

This comes from Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others by Olimpia Zagnoli. She writes well about time wasted and effort wasted by teams done badly. And she proposes three ways to make teams smarter (all research-based…). Here are the three findings/suggestions:

Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.

Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.

Thought #2 – we’ve got to be smarter using our technology.

This one is not yet available to watch. But, in an upcoming debate at the great site IntelligenceSquaredUS.org, they’ve got quite an upcoming debate (May 13) on SMART TECHNOLOGY IS MAKING US DUMB. Here’s the descriptive paragraph:

Smart technology grants us unprecedented, immediate access to knowledge and to each other—a ubiquitous and seamless presence in everyday life. But is there a downside to all of this connectivity? It’s been said that smart technology creates dependency on devices, narrows our world to echo chambers, and impairs cognitive skills through shortcuts and distraction. Are smart tech devices guiding so much of our decision making that we are losing autonomy without even realizing it? Or are these concerns an overstatement of the negative effects of high-tech consumption?

I look forward to this debate. Just click over to take a look at the speakers debating the issue. (Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, is one of the voices arguing for the motion).

Thought #3 – We need smarter people; you need to be a smarter you.

This was the read for the weekend/month…maybe year. It is a very thoughtful, provocative essay: Among the Disrupted by Leon Wieseltier. Here’s the opening of the essay:

Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted. The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry.

And a few more excerpts:

And even as technologism, which is not the same as technology, asserts itself over more and more precincts of human life, so too does scientism, which is not the same as science.

Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life.

There is nothing soft about the quest for a significant life.

TecnnopolyThis essay reminded me of the warnings and insights of the still more than relevant Neil Postman in Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. Mr. Postman wrote this in the early 1990s, just before Netscape opened up the masses to the internet and the World Wide Web. After I finished reading this essay, I pulled my copy of Technopoly off my shelf, and re-read the opening pages. The essay, and Postman, made me think…

Anyway, let me say in the strongest possible terms, READ THIS ESSAY! It will help you think about being a smarter you in the midst of the current technology-rich cultural rumblings.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Re-Thinking What it Means to be a Learning Organization

Read these quotes carefully:

If you’re running a big company today and are not aware of these technologies—not to mention how they might impact your company—you are simply not doing your job.

Constant learning is critical to staying on the exponential curve.

John Seely Brown and John Hagel have observed that although all of our large organizations are set up to scale efficiencies, in this new economy what we actually need to scale is learning.

What is needed now are new dashboards that measure the learning capability of organizations.

How can the board guide a CEO if it is not aware of the potentially disruptive changes the company faces?

Exponential OrganizationsThese all come from Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, and Yuri van Geest.

So, here’s the problem. I’m a big fan of the idea of life-long learning. I believe in learning. I want to encourage others to learn; I want to challenge others to learn.

I read books, I listen to TED Talks, and other videos, and I value learning.

Or, so I thought…

There are books that I love to read because they just teach me information that I need filled in (like, The Innovators). But there are also books that I read that sort of slap me in the face, and remind me that I don’t even fully grasp the questions and challenges…

Exponential Organizations is that kind of book.

Of the many reactions I am having reading this book, here’s a key one: I have probably mis-defined the idea of a “learning organization.” To the authors of this book, they define “learning” as actual exposure to, and then adoption of and mastery of, new technological tools. The new technology itself and the new ways it can be put to use.

And, on that count, I have not yet learned to learn.

I’m presenting my synopsis of this book this Friday, and will blog about my takeaways early next week. But here’s my thought right now – if I am not actually doing some new things, kind of “all the time,” then I am not much of a learner.

The book clearly describes why companies that don’t learn to learn are left behind.

And, now, I realize better than ever, why I have some serious catching up to do…

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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