Using Brain Science to Enhance Leadership

This post, written by Gary Weber, is a companion to the July 5 VoiceAmerica interview with Gary Weber, Using Brain Science to Enhance Leadership. Gary talks about our personal mental operating systems and how to replace them with an updated one.

Replacing our current “I”-based, mental operating system (OS I) with an upgrade, largely by reducing the self-referential internal narrative (SRIN), is something I have been exploring for a while. The belief that our current OS has become “maladaptive,” was discussed in the blogpost “Does your nondual awakening benefit ‘everyone’? the world?” and in the video “dysfunctional evolution of the mind.”
OS I developed about 75,000 years ago. (see blogpost “How old is the “I”?  How/why did it come into existence?…new science”) Our predecessors split off from our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees, about 6,000,000 years ago; the “I”-based OS 1 has been in operation for about one percent of the time we have been distinct from other primates.

Our brain size increased three times after that split from the chimpanzees until when we developed OS 1. Many structural, organization, and neural modifications evolved before OS 1 could emerge.

As we know, our current OS has many limitations. It is difficult to focus on important “stuff” with the continual interference from our SRIN. “Does insufficient apoptosis cause cancer?” competes with “Why did Jane treat me the way she did?” “I’ll tell her next week what I think of her,” “I should stop eating ice cream—Greek yogurt would be better”; “What should I wear tonight?”, etc.

The persistent SRIN also consumes huge amounts of energy, wastes much bandwidth, and increases negative energy. It also results in emotionally-charged memories that lead to depression, anxiety, dis-ease, worries, craving, attachment, suffering, etc.

The recognition that SRIN was THE problem causing “my” personal unhappiness occurred when I was in grad school walking to campus. I just could not believe that this never-ending cacophony of the SRIN was how we were supposed to live “our lives.” There had to be a better way. So, I set out to see if and how SRIN could be reduced or perhaps even eliminated, while still retaining functionality in the “real” world.
As an empirical scientist “in-training,” I conducted this investigation totally empirically. Every understanding had to be personally validated. There would be no philosophy, theory, or teachings from millennia ago. To make certain that I had the best possible data, I developed some design parameters:

 

  1. Any information had to come from sources alive now, or who were alive while I was alive.
  2. There had to be movies/videos, photographs, and direct transcripts of the information from any of the sources.
  3. My preference was to personally see the sources, or talk to folk who had.
  4. The sources would be in first-language English to avoid misunderstandings from translations.
  5. The sources must have been validated by well-known and credible “experts.”
  6. Ongoing direct feedback on progress/success was critical for a DIY approach. Good news/bad news, SRIN provided continuously-available feedback…if SRIN was there, more work was needed.
  7. The process must retain/enhance functional “real world” performance.
  8. Happiness would increase, and suffering, stress, and anxiety would decrease.
  9. The result would be a change in life, not just experiences; it would be a new OS.
  10. It would be scientifically verifiable.

The source that met all of these parameters was Ramana Maharshi. I also drew upon sources who partially met these parameters, like the late Toni Packer (my iconoclastic Zen teacher), J. Krishnamurti, Amrit Desai, Swami Rama, Roshi Eido Shimano, etc.

As described in my book Happiness Beyond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening, I did many direct empirical exercises to understand thoughts, how they were constructed, whether they were continuous or intermittent, energetic or not, linked or “stand alone,” how the “I” was constructed, etc. With that perspective, particularly “Who Am I?”, I embarked on an intensive program of self-inquiry and “I” deconstruction.

SRIN occurs when my blood sugar gets low (hypoglycemic) or I am very tired. Some early mornings, there is a short clearing out of some residual “stuff” from the day before, such as “Is this important, or should we dump it?” mode. If you don’t take advantage of the invitation to explore, it just vanishes…the brain gets its answer.
Surprisingly, a loss of self-referential desires and fears, as well as dramatically enhanced functional capability occurred with the disappearance of SRIN/”I”.

What also fell away, which was a total surprise, was “free will,” or “control”—without an “I”, there was no other logical possibility. Despite expectations of chaos and anxiety, it was incredibly sweet. Life without the illusion that one is, or can be, in control is like having the world lifted from your shoulders.
There is also much scientific validation manifesting now, for example in the value of meditation. This is described in the blogposts: “Folk who meditate decrease mind wandering“, “Do your mystical experiences fit with w/quantum physics?  neuroscience?”, “What is the Default Mode Network?”, “What is really ‘real’?  What does ‘nothing is real’ mean?”.

There is no doubt that much more will be discovered going forward; we are at the beginning of what cognitive neuroscience will find. A big question is whether it is possible to decrease SRIN without extensive meditation experience. We have evidence that it is absolutely possible based on my experience with clients.

As to why more folk don’t reach the state of a decreased SRIN:

  1. They do not believe it is possible.
  2. They will not let go of their attachments.
  3. They will not let go of their suffering (often caused by the SRIN).

I believe we are at a tipping point. If we don’t make fundamental changes now in how we function, our egoic/”I” operating system OS 1 could well destroy us. The change from the belief that the “I” is a constant, fixed, real entity to understanding that it is an “ad hoc,” haphazardly-assembled, mental construct, needs to be as fundamental and clear as our knowledge that the earth is round. And, in my humble opinion, it needs to happen soon.

About the author

Gary Weber, PhD, is a subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Baumann Foundation, the Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, at Johns Hopkins, and at Penn State.

From 2000 to 2004 he was an associate vice president of research for Penn State responsible for all technology transfer operations of the University, including angel investing, venture capital, licensing, patenting and start-up support. He was also responsible for external industrial R&D contracts and interfaces with the University.

In the late 1990s, Gary was senior vice president of science and technology for PPG responsible for all corporate R&D with four research laboratories, approximately 1000 engineers, scientists, and technical folk, and a $260MM budget. He was also a member of the Executive Committee.

Since then he has been researching and writing about happiness beyond thought. He is applying his extensive research skills to helping leaders.

Looking to 2016: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities in Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity

NexDefense FutureGuest post written by NexDefense Executives and Fellows. This is a companion to Voice America Interview with Mike Sayre, Co-founder, President and CEO of NexDefense. For leaders in a complex global environment, it is important for me to share best practices and solutions to address some of the key challenges we are facing. I believe NexDefense has created an interesting solution. I invite you to listen to Mike in his conversation as he shares his perspective on this important work and also his approach to leadership.

There has been no shortage of news, speculation and analysis of industrial control systems (ICS) cybersecurity in 2015. From projections that an attack on the United States power grid could cost the economy $1 trillion to the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers proclaiming that a “digital Pearl Harbor” is all but inevitable; the prognostications for ICS security-related risks and threats have become significantly more frequent than good news reports.

The recognition of the burgeoning threat landscape to industry in 2015 has analysts bullish on ICS cybersecurity business growth. Security analysts see dark skies ahead; yet, market analysts see opportunities lining those clouds. Both groups agree there’s an ever-growing challenge of protecting the safe and reliable operation of ICS, and recognition that cyber risk is building demand for worthwhile solutions. In fact, the research firm MarketsandMarkets recently revised its financial projections for ICS cybersecurity, now forecasting the global industry to surpass $11 billion annually by 2019.

Forecasting the future is not a science. Nevertheless, given enough data and a fairly clear trajectory, the confidence in guessing an inevitable future becomes more doable. With that being said, here are the top five ICS security trends, challenges and opportunities we see as most likely for 2016:

Demand for ICS Security Jobs will Severely Exceed Supply

For an industry already contending with an aging workforce, a gap in cybersecurity resources has led some companies to adopt new technologies, rather than people, to streamline processes, often resulting in increased risk. Continued complications of the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in industry will intensify, as will demand for a new generation of specialized workers. Filling this talent void will prove challenging as the majority of cybersecurity job seekers are not adequately trained for ICS careers and they lack the hybrid skillset necessary to serve both the IT and OT spaces. Starting in 2016, a more consistent mention by government and industry alike of STEM programs will arise as a gateway to building a new generation of ICS-competent cybersecurity workers to feed contemporary industry demands.

ICS Cybersecurity Insight Tools will Proliferate

Industry analysis continues to show that, on average, when a breach is discovered, the affected system had actually been compromised weeks and months earlier, often with few if any direct indications of compromise. The ability to efficiently monitor, visualize and analyze normal and anomalous ICS network traffic, and to detect potentially malicious activities, will continue to be sought by more owners and operators.

In 2016, a dizzying array of IT-specific cybersecurity tools will be presented to the OT world, and new ICS-specific tools created by OT experts will be expanded and introduced, too. A shortage of ICS security practitioners, coupled with the rising complexity of ICS networks, will result in new tools intended to help technicians and operators better understand, monitor and protect their systems. As a result, solutions that best address ICS-specific cybersecurity challenges, and deliver actionable intelligence, will move steps closer to becoming a permanent fixture in control systems of 2016 and beyond.

Supply Chain and System Integrators are Recognized as Vulnerable

Historically, the blame for weak ICS security was primarily directed at manufacturers, yet little attention has been given to other aspects of the supply chain. For example, machine builders and system integrators in many cases have a more active role in the security posture of an ICS. Add to this the proliferation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and risks introduced through devices supplied by new vendors and inexperienced installers, and the burden placed on owners and operators only becomes heavier. Documented ICS malware such as Havex and BlackEnergy gained foothold within control systems through the product and services channels. Combined, such attacks vectors are quite likely a sign of a new normal, highlighting the growing risks from a complex and polluted supply chain.

2016 will likely see owners and operators push back on manufacturers and suppliers and refuse to accept full accountability for cybersecurity risks to their control systems. These new market forces will push vendors to be more accountable for the security of their products, services and solutions they deliver.

‘Bug Bounty’ Program Established by Major ICS Manufacturer –

Google and other leading tech companies offer Bug Bounty programs, providing independent researcher-sanctioned opportunities to discover and disclose security vulnerabilities in browsers, mobile and general web applications in exchange for compensation and public recognition. This approach allows Google to attract the attention of some of industry’s top talent to find product weaknesses before the marketplace is affected. For Google and others like it, the program allows them to maintain a diversified security posture and proactively issue patches and updates before adversaries can exploit vulnerabilities.

While a Bug Bounty program has yet to emerge in the industrial control market, it would prove very high on opportunity and low on cost. Provided the researchers disclose vulnerabilities without publishing key details, the benefit of a Bug Bounty program to ICS is significant. It has never been more likely than now for a Bug Bounty program to be introduced by an ICS manufacturer, and there’s a real possibility 2016 could be the year it happens.

ICS Manufacturers Proactively Disclose Vulnerabilities in Products –

Many ICS manufacturers have been conservative about the proactive disclosure of vulnerabilities in their products and systems. That changed in 2015, when OSIsoft announced that it addressed 56 vulnerabilities in its PI System software. The company essentially set a precedent for a new level of transparency from an automation product manufacturer. OSIsoft’s action to self-disclose goes a step further by openly sharing insight into their cybersecurity continuous improvement processes. While their self-disclosure may not be the very first for industry, the breadth and completeness of what they released may set a new standard of care. Industry adoption of this vulnerability disclosure strategy is worth keeping an eye on in 2016. Those who embrace it will likely see positive returns including a stronger brand and reputation and even new sales from customers who realize their aging systems have reached their end of life. 

We can’t say with complete certainty that these predictions will prove true, but indications suggest that these trends are likely to gain momentum. More importantly, as 2016 approaches, the industry must recognize that cybersecurity remains a moving target that creates business growth opportunity with every challenge it brings. Without question, 2016 should see industry come together in a more cohesive way to innovate and better protect systems from threats affecting the safety and operational integrity of the systems on which society relies. We’re counting on it.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Five Key Elements In Performance Management Design Part 2

Performance MeasurementBlog post written by Rob Harman, II CPA, MBA, PHR, SHRM-CP

This is part two focusing on of five things to think about when designing a Performance Management System and Process. Part one covered use. This part will cover design, measurement, output, and competencies.

2.  Design (see blog series part 1 for the first item).

There are many factors to be considered when designing a performance management system. Below are factors that are important as you consider designing a system for your organization.

    • Simple to use. If your system is cumbersome, people are not going to want to use it, or will just do the minimum it takes to achieve the “goal” of giving feedback. Complicated systems only produce good results when everyone involved is dedicated to spend the time to provide the input. The evaluator and evaluatee need to have the ability to choose from a range of selections based on each item being measured (i.e. a rating scale of 1 to 6 for each question). The system should also have an open text box after every question in the event the individual would like to input comments or examples to support the rating.
    • Accessible anywhere anytime. As many in today’s workforce work from remote locations outside the office, the system needs to be web based and accessible outside the office. Consider if you want to use cloud based software for your performance management system. Many systems offer other capabilities and modules than just performance management and could be a part of your HRIS and total financial system software package.
    • Ongoing feedback. The system should be designed to provide ongoing performance feedback throughout the year based on projects, time intervals, or at the employee or managers request. Therefore the system is always open and on. This will be a culture shift for many organizations as many only give feedback when it is needed or at set intervals in time. Giving real time feedback is not only a powerful motivational tactic for good and high performers, it will help an employee or manager who may be having some challenges. It is important to provide that feedback as soon as possible so it can be addressed without sacrificing additional work productivity losses and damage to internal and external clients.
    • Reporting. The system should have robust data gathering and reporting capabilities for the evaluator, evaluate, and of course HR, to help monitor and track completion and other statistics for a particular group and the organization.
    • Easy to interpret results. The system should have a dashboard where the manager and employee are able to view performance feedback and goals that are compiled and aggregated throughout the year. The dashboard should be able to track the number of “to do” tasks, what stage of completion they are in, and the date of the stage. Consider the interface of the design to feature simple graphics, colors, and analysis for a quick glace of reporting and statistics.

3. Measurement.

Ask yourself, what specifically do you want to measure, and who should be measuring it? Consider the following when deciding what to measure around performance.

  • Performance on a project or in a cross functional group
  • Customer impact
  • Individual contributions
  • Pro-bono or other volunteer work
  • Attitude and ability to work and team with others
  • Ability and drive
  • Upward feedback

As mentioned employees should be able to ask for feedback in the system at any time on any measurable item and the system will trigger the evaluator responsible for providing the feedback. Employees need to be set up with responsibility evaluator(s) for each type of measurement and they should have the ability to do self-evaluations in the system.

Another item to consider is what type of rating scale do you want to use? Traditionally, companies used scales of 1-7, or something similar. Many companies are considering either doing away with the numeric rating, or making it a smaller part of the process. A numerical rating triggers a psychological response and people tend to focus only on the number and what the implications of that number may mean, and thus are not engaged fully in the conversation. An alternative could be to borrow from the color spectrum and use red as high performance, green as expected performance, and indigo as needs improvement.   Some organizations are giving feedback without ratings with some early success. For other companies, foregoing measures would be counterproductive given the cultures they have built around measurement. This is where the ability to give and receive feedback is imperative to success! One of the challenges with measures is how the feedback is delivered more than the fact that performance is measured.

An example of the ratings shown on the dashboard could look something like this.

Performance Management

Some companies are beginning to use values-based ratings1. This is done by looking at how the employee fits in with the company values and aligns with company objectives. Other approaches are to design a system where the output is not only feedback on performance, but focuses more on giving advice and coaching and not just a final “rating”. You will want to look for a software vendor that has designed newer products that will be able to accommodate these non-traditional ways of measurement and delivering feedback and coaching.

 4. Output.

Now that you have designed a system, how you will use it? What decisions will you need to make as a result of the process? Do you need to implement training? Are there performance issues with a particular group, or a particular manager? Is there a morale problem at the organization? A well thought out and designed performance management system will help your company answer all of these questions and more.

5. Competencies.

Finally, competencies are an area where many organizations design complicated frameworks by level, group, subsidiary, or other measures, in an effort to define every possible measurement of performance at every level. While that is admirable, even a well-designed system will be unsuccessful if the competencies being measured are too complicated or the forms are too lengthy. There is value at developing expectations of performance at all levels of the organization from staff to executives. The competencies should be progressive, meaning each level has mastered the competencies of the preceding level. Competencies need to be designed with examples of what high performance (red), expected performance (green), and needs improvement (indigo) mean at each level and for different categories such as client services, team work, attitude, etc. The competencies need to be designed to achieve organizational and individual goals. Competencies will be a topic in another blog series, so stay tuned!

In a future post we will also talk about how to plan employee development and discuss how it links to evaluation. Some organizations couple performance evaluation and development planning while others separate them. We will talk more about performance management next week.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us

1 Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World, Bersin by Deloitte / Josh Bersin, January 2015

Photo credit: www.flickr.com William A. Clark

Embed Innovation Systematically Part 3, Reflection Questions – Eric’s Story

Ziglar Success I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. Congratulations! We have arrived at the final step in innovative leadership development. In this post, we will cover the second set of reflection questions to strengthen your understanding of embedding innovation systematically into your lifestyle. My answers are in italics for you to use as a reference to further understand the questions.

Embed change

Congratulations! This has been the final post in the innovative leadership development series for college students! Remember, innovative leadership and personal development are lifestyles. Once you have developed one skill/behavior to an ideal capacity, you must continue to focus on more areas to develop in order to strengthen your arsenal of skills as a person. Feel free to revisit my posts, or purchase the Innovative Leadership Workbook for College Students coming out in late 2014. Good luck!

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

Implementing and Measuring Big Data/Embed Transformation

Big Data Art Museum ImageIn this blog series, James Brenza has been talking about implementing big data and analytics programs using a composite case study to illustrate the process. Each week James focuses on one of the seven steps giving specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner. This is the last of the series that corresponds with the seven stage implementation model (shown below). More information on that robust model is available in the seven stage implementation model. More information on that robust model is available in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for release in September 2014).

Leading Organizational Transformation

Embed into operations: As an analytic initiative produces transformational results, it’s the leader’s responsibility to ensure the changes are operationalized. If the sponsors, stakeholders, and extended team have been effectively engaged throughout the initiative, this could be a straightforward effort. By ensuring the extended team of system and process owners have received regular updates, they should be prepared to embrace the new methods. Ideally, they’ve been sufficiently involved to prototype and test the new processes. While existing systems may require revisions, small, incremental deliveries may help reduce the impact of the updates.

Celebrate success: As the new models are implemented, success should be celebrated with the entire team. It’s important for the leader to recognize and reward the entire team even if the change is relatively small.  The recognition should commend the use of enterprise data, the effort to validate and integrate the data, the work to build new models, and the energy required to operationalize them. Recognition should reference the business outcome and how it will be measured. It’s also a perfect time to identify which process steps or systems will be retired as a result of the new methods. If the leader includes that in the same message, it sends a much stronger signal about how firmly the enterprise espouses the new approach.

The measure of the outcome and process control cannot be taken lightly. It’s critical that the new methods are delivering the intended results. While analytic models are robust, it’s important to recognize they should be monitored and refined. The leader should guarantee that an ongoing process to monitor the results has been institutionalized. That process should include a feedback loop for ongoing model refinement and initiation of future initiatives.

Enable on-going visibility: The outcome measures initially identified and refined throughout the initiative should be documented in an executive dashboard and reviewed frequently. This will help reinforce the success and benefits of the initiative. The owner of the outcome should be encouraged to reference those measures in their regularly scheduled executive updates. This affirms they own the outcome as well as acknowledge the benefits of the initiative.

As the team celebrates the success of their outcome, they should also acknowledge their contribution to the process. This will reinforce the adoption of data and model-driven process improvements. When the models require maintenance, we recommend creating a list that will act as a reference for which team members should be re-engaged. It’s also important to recognize that model maintenance is a requirement and an expectation.  Regular or intermittent maintenance is a reality and should not be viewed as a deficiency of the team’s effort.

How is leading a big data/analytics initiative different than other projects? So let’s take a moment to reflect on what’s unique about data and analytic initiatives.

  • The leader should be certain the celebration of the implementation is not simply for the analytic effort. They need to ensure it is associated with the business outcome realized.
  • It should always be referenced by the measures that will be impacted by the outcome.
  • The leader needs to make sure the organization understands that the models will evolve as the journey continues.
  • Most significantly, the leader needs to tout that the victory is owned by the sponsors and stakeholders. Allowing them to share the celebration, helps the leader change the culture to be open to data and model driven transformations in the future.

Throughout this series, we’ve looked at the unique aspects of analytic initiatives and transformations. If treated like a system deployment or upgrade, the leader will encounter significant struggles to maintain engagement and attain the outcome. By putting strong emphasis on executive sponsorship, robust stakeholder management, broad team engagement, deep reviews of capabilities and skills, thorough planning that embraces flexibility, thorough communication planning, transparent progress reporting and strong execution, the leader can guide the organization to tangible results. By ensuring that results are measured through a financial or customer-centric lens, they’ll provide a lasting impact to their organization. Ultimately, the leader’s success will help the organization become more comfortable with analytic driven initiatives that will help guide the organization for decades.

Click to purchase the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs.

If you are interested in reading more by James, you may want to read:  Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens, Integral Leadership Review August – November 2013. You can also listen to the NPR interview that accompanies this paper including a dialogue between James Brenza, Maureen Metcalf, and the host Doug Dangler.

We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership for Analytics Programs on LinkedIn curated by James.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving James’ seven part blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: David J. Staley, Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Embed Innovation Systematically Reflection Questions Part 2 — Eric’s Story

DaVinci self masteryI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. Congratulations! We have arrived at the final step in innovative leadership development. In this post, we will cover reflection questions part 1 to strengthen your understanding of embedding innovation systematically into your lifestyle. My answers are in italics for you to use as a reference to further understand the questions.

Eric's embed change reflection questions

There will only be one more post in the innovative leadership development series for college students! In the next post we will review the second half of the reflection questions.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

Embed Innovation Systematically – Eric’s Story

Michael Jordan TryI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. Congratulations! We have arrived at the final step in innovative leadership development. In this post, we will complete the beginning of a Personal Transformation Log. With this, we will know how to track our actual behaviors toward our goals, measure progress, and compare them to expected behaviors and progress. As always, my responses are in italics, which you can use to strengthen your understanding of the question. The next part of this post will give you a real-world application suggestions.

Eric Transformation Actiity Log

Real World Application: Expect the Unexpected & Fail Fast

While it’s important to focus on what’s in front of you in the present, it’s also important to consider the future. As you make progress on your current goals, and you’re in a good rhythm, take a few moments occasionally to consider what goals you could set in the future. Consider upcoming events, such as job hunting or graduate school programs. What kind of skills and behaviors would you like to develop by then? Another important thing is to take unpredictable events into account.

One thing that is guaranteed is that some completely unexpected and uncontrollable events will happen in your life, and they could greatly impact your short- and long-term goals. Due to this, it may be worth considering strengthening your resilience and problem-solving skills/behaviors when setting goals in the future.

Remember, failure is natural and no one is perfect. View mistakes and failure as an opportunity to learn. After all, the only true failure is failure to try.  Remember to think like a scientist, and use experiments, or constant trial-and-error. We like to use the term “fail fast”, meaning the faster you figure out what does not work, the faster you can figure out what does work.

In the next post, we will answer reflection questions to strengthen your understanding of embedding innovation systematically.  

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

Implementing and Measuring Big Data/Analytics Programs

Big Data WordscapeIn this blog series, James Brenza has been talking about implementing big data and analytics programs using a composite case study to illustrate the process. Each week James focuses on one of the seven steps giving specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner. This is the sixth in the series that corresponds with the seven stage implementation model. More information on that robust model is available in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for release in September 2014).

Leading Organizational Transformation

Follow a methodology: The execution phase of an analytics initiative has some similarities to other efforts, but is also very unique. The similarity is the extensive use of systems and processes; the use of databases and servers is quite common. However, some of the types of databases or servers will be unique to analytic efforts. Due to the volume of data or use of statistical analysis, new infrastructure may be required. It is critical that the infrastructure is available and validated prior to attempting any model development. It is possible and reasonable to deploy the infrastructure while the teams assess data and build models, but concurrent development of all levels of the solution multiplies risk. Establishing core infrastructure design and the data for initial analysis contains the risk as small models are built incrementally. Additionally, the data discovery methods may be unique to many team members. The team can significantly reduce barriers by embracing an industry standard (e.g., CRISP-DM), leveraging published documents on its use and demonstrating how they align with it.

For the preparation of data for analysis, the leader should be very clear on the progress of establishing, exploring, understanding, cleansing and integrating the data. This is especially critical if new data sources are being used or if it’s the first time a well-established data source has been used for this type of initiative. Even though data may be used for business transactions, the team can’t assume the data is sufficiently standardized for analysis. The leader must ensure this clarity through collaboration with business analysts and data scientists to develop a graphical depiction of each data source going through validation and normalization processes.

Let the data guide you: Since the team should be following an iterative execution methodology, they must be prepared to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability as the results of the data analysis guide their tasks. As hypotheses are constructed, the team should embrace the possibility of proving themselves wrong. If the team focuses on data that will only prove and support their hypotheses, they are creating a potential failure. Bad models don’t age well—so the team has to attempt to break their own assumptions. They’ll also need to hold back portions of the data for model validation and training. This standard process will allow them to increase confidence in the models.

Another example of this could be when two (or more) data sources that are being mined have historically supported different operational purposes.  At first glance, data elements may appear to align across the systems. As the analysis evolves, data issues arise in which apparent logical matches are broken. With deeper analysis, the team may discover that similarly-named attributes serve unique purposes. In isolation and context, each source is 100 percent accurate. By being open to opportunities, the team may simplify the challenges being solved, or identify additional solutions based on a single model.

Embrace continuous change: At present, the pace of technology and technique innovation is faster in analytics than in nearly any other technology field.  The industry is continuously adding new capabilities that will greatly simplify solutions. Additionally, many business intelligence and visual tool vendors have enabled community development for new features faster than any single vendor can invent them. While building an initial infrastructure is required, it is critical to consider that it must have the capability to evolve quickly. Embracing this continuous state of evolution is key to maintaining team productivity as well as user satisfaction.

Keep communications flowing: Throughout the execution, the leader should constantly refine the plan and communications to transparently discuss the progress of the iterations and the stride toward the final outcome. This can be accomplished by documenting planned versus actual progress for each sprint. By ensuring each sprint completes some demonstrable progress, the leader will be equipped to maintain sponsor confidence. As each progress demonstration is completed, the leader should review the stakeholder management plan to ensure that sponsors and stakeholders are maintaining or increasing their engagement. If support is waning, the stakeholder management plan must be revisited to reactivate support.

As the models evolve, the team can assess the system and process changes necessary to implement them. At the same time, they should review the measures that will ensure use of the models. An ideal mechanism to support that is to simultaneously define and communicate the rewards associated with the model utilization. Communicating the rewards will help reinforce the new operational methods and behaviors as well as support the retirement of the outdated processes.

Focus on team health: Due to the iterative nature of the process and continuous data discovery, the team will go through many cycles of elation and challenges. The leader should focus on team resiliency to ensure team members remain committed and cohesive. It’s important to recognize that challenges in the data or models are not a reflection of the team’s ability, rather they are an artifact of reality. By focusing on celebrating successes and alleviating team stress, the leader can help the team maintain its momentum. To help reinforce that consistency, the leader should regularly engage the sponsors to provide additional support to preserve and cultivate team morale.

How is leading a big data/analytics initiative different than other projects? So let’s take a moment to sum up what’s unique about data and analytic initiatives.

  • The constant discovery of data and model strength requires vigilant and transparent updates to the sponsors. They should receive regular status reports that reinforce the notion that the initiative is not a traditional system implementation, but a process of discovery.
  • The solution infrastructure and tool use may evolve throughout solution development.
  • Referring to the initiative as a journey is an appropriate phrase.
  • The leader should be prepared to provide frequent updates on data discovery and model evolution which may include frequent bad news (which if it disproves outdated assumptions is actually good news).
  • The constant flexibility to link model effectiveness to a business outcome is very unique to these initiatives.

As the initiative progresses, the team must be prepared to incrementally implement improvements as they become available. In the next section, we’ll discuss techniques to embed the transformation.

Click to purchase the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs.

If you are interested in reading more by James, you may want to read:  Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens, Integral Leadership Review August – November 2013. You can also listen to the NPR interview that accompanies this paper including a dialogue between James Brenza, Maureen Metcalf, and the host Doug Dangler.

We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership for Analytics Programs on LinkedIn curated by James.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving James’ seven part blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Marlus B.

Take Action to Develop as a Leader, Reflection Questions Part 2 – Eric’s Story

I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this post I will answer the second set of reflection questions involved with prepared to take action. As always, feel free to refer to my personal answers in italics to get a better sense of what we’re asking. I am answering these reflection questions to clarify my thoughts about my plan to overcome barriers and leverage enablers from my prior post.

Eric Taking Action Reflection questions

This marks the end of the Take Action part of the innovative leadership development process. In the next post, we will learn how to embed innovation systematically and maintain the mindset of an innovative leader throughout your life.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Take Action to Develop as a Leader, Reflection Questions – Eric’s Story

Overcoming ObstaclesI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this post we will answer reflection questions so that we are thoroughly prepared to take action. As always, feel free to refer to my personal answers in italics to get a better sense of what we’re asking. I am answering these reflection questions to clarify my thoughts about my plan to overcome barriers and leverage enablers from my prior post.

Eric Take Action Reflection Questions

This post contained the first half of the reflection questions for taking action. In the next post I will complete the reflection questions.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua