Victor Vroom: Motivation and Decision-making

Why do people make the choices they do at work, and how can managers and leaders make effective decisions? These are two essential questions for managers to understand. They were both tackled with characteristic clear-thinking and rigour by one man.

Victor Vroom

Short Biography

Victor Vroom was born in 1932 and grew up in the suburbs of Montreal. Initially, he was a bright child with little academic interest – unlike his two older brothers. Instead, his passion was big-band jazz music and, as a teenager, he dedicated up to 10 hours a day to practising Alto Sax and Clarinet.

Leaving school, but finding the move to the US as a professional musician was tricky, Vroom enrolled in college and learned, through psychometric testing, that the two areas of interest that would best suit him were music (no surprise) and psychology. Unfortunately, whilst he now enjoyed learning, his college did not teach psychology.

At the end of the year, he was able to transfer, with a full year’s credit, to McGill University, where he earned a BSc in 1953 and a Masters in Psychological Science (MPs Sc) in 1955. He then went to the US to study for his PhD at the University of Michigan. It was awarded to him in 1958.

His first research post was at the University of Michigan, from where he moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1960 and then, in 1963, to Carnegie Mellon University. He remained there until receiving a second offer from Yale University – this time to act as Chairman of the Department of Administrative Sciences, and to set up a graduate school of organisation and management.

He has remained there for the rest of his career, as John G Searle Professor and, currently, as BearingPoint Professor Emeritus of Management & Professor of Psychology.

Vroom’s first book was Work and Motivation (1964) which introduced the first of his major contributions; his ‘Expectancy Theory’ of motivation. He also collaborated with Edward Deci to produce a review of workplace motivation, Management and Motivation, in 1970. They produced a revised edition in 1992.

His second major contribution was the ‘Vroom-Yetton model of leadership decision making’. Vroom and Philip Yetton published Leadership and Decision-Making in 1973. He later revised the model with Arthur Jago, and together, they published The New Leadership: Managing Participation in Organizations in 1988.

It is also worth mentioning that Vroom had a bruising experience while pursued through the courts by an organisation he had earlier collaborated with. They won their case for copyright infringement so I shall say no more. The judgement is available online. Vroom’s account of this, at the end of a long autobiographical essay, is an interesting read. It was written as part of his presidency of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 1980-81.

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Pocketblog has covered Vroom’s expectancy theory in an earlier blog, and it is also described in detail in The Management Models Pocketbook. It is an excellent model that deserves to be far better known than it is. Possibly the reason is because Vroom chose to express his theory as an equation: bad move! Most people are scared of equations. That’s why we at Management Pocketbooks prefer to use the metaphor of a chain. Motivation breaks down if any of the links is compromised. Take a look at our short and easy to follow article.

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Model of Leadership Decision-making

This one is  a bit of a handful. Vroom has expressed some surprise that it became a well-adopted tool and, more recently, noted that societies and therefore management styles have changed, rendering it less relevant now than it was in its time. That said, it is instructive to understand the basics.

Decision-making is a leadership role, and (what I shall call) the V-Y-J model is a situational leadership model for what style of decision-making a leader should select.

It sets out the different degrees to which a manager or leader can involve their team in decision-making, and also the situational characteristics that would lead to a choice of each style.

Five levels of Group Involvement in Decision-making

Level 1: Authoritative A1
The leader makes their decision alone.

Level 2: Authoritative A2
The leader invites information and then makes their decision alone.

Level 3: Consultative C1
The leader invites group members to offer opinions and suggestions, and then makes their decision alone.

Level 4: Consultative C2
The leader brings the group together to hear their discussion and suggestions, and then makes their decision alone.

Level 5: Group Consensus
The leader brings the group together to discuss the issue, and then facilitates a group decision.

Choosing a Decision-Making Approach

The V-Y-J model sets out a number of considerations and research indicates that, when a decision approach is chosen that follows these considerations, leaders self-report greater levels of success than when the model is not followed. The considerations are:

  1. How important is the quality of the decision?
  2. How much information and expertise does the leader have?
  3. How well structured is the problem or question?
  4. How important is group-member acceptance of the decision?
  5. How likely is group-member acceptance of the decision?
  6. How much do group members share the organisation’s goals (against pursuing their own agendas)?
  7. How likely is the group to be able to reach a consensus?

A Personal Reflection

I have found both of Vroom’s principal models enormously helpful, both as a project leader and as a management trainer. I find it somewhat sad that, in Vroom’s own words, ‘the wrenching changes at Yale and the … lawsuit have taken their emotional and intellectual toll.’ Two major events created a huge mental and emotional distraction for Vroom in the late 1980s. At a time when he should still have been at the peak of his intellectual powers, he was diverted from his research. I think this is sad and wonder what insights we may have lost as a result.

 

 

 

Jack Welch: Supreme Manager

Fortune Magazine named him the greatest manager of the Twentieth Century. He took a well-managed and moderately successful corporation and grew it for 100 successive quarters, transforming it in the process. And now he spends his time teaching younger managers to do the same.

Jack Welch

Short Biography

John Francis Welch Jr was born in 1935 and grew up in Massachusetts. He gained a BSC in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts in 1957 and went on to post-graduate study at the University of Illinois, where he earned an MSc and then a PhD in Chemical Engineering. From there, he joined General Electric, in 1960.

After concerns about the bureaucracy in his first year, a manager persuaded him to stay and from then, his rise through the organisation was steady and fast. He was their youngest General Manager ever, in 1968 and became a divisional vice president in 1972. In 1979, he was a Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, and a year later was named as the next Chairman and CEO of General Electric. He took the post in the autumn of 1981. He set his sights on creating the world’s most valuable company.

He spent the next twenty years growing GE spectacularly, in two phases that we can crudely characterise as ripping down the old (1980s) and building the new (1990s). As soon as he took over, he saw that changes in world business and the then emergent growth of Japanese business would mean that the well-managed but moderate-performing GE would flounder unless he could successfully change it, to compete.

His changes were a great success, growing share price from $4 in 1981 to $133 in 1999, with profits rising from $1.6 billion to $10.7 billion when he left the company in 2001. His retirement has seen the publication of three hugely successful books (co-written with his third wife, journalist Suzy Welch) and the creation of his own business school, the Jack Welch Management Institute, which teaches MBA programmes under the aegis of the private Strayer University.

Welch’s books are:

  • Jack: Straight from the Gut (2003) – his biography, co-written with John Byrne. Reportedly earned him a $7million advance.
  • Winning (2007) – his perspective on how he succeeded at GE – along with its companion volume…
  • Winning: The Answers (2007) – both co-written with Suzy Welch
  • The Real-Life MBA (2015) – a guide to management and business inspired by his teaching – also co-written with Suzy Welch

Ripping Down the Old – How Welch Disrupted GE in the 1980s

  • Welch started with a big investment in GE’s corporate management training facility, Crotonville in New York State.
  • He shifted the focus of GE’s business towards services, creating around 6,000 new businesses during his tenure
  • He determined to deal with unprofitable businesses, famously saying that if a business was not rated at number 1 or 2 globally, it would be fixed, closed, or sold. This is a pretty rigorous application of the strategy implied by the BCG Matrix.
  • He flattened the management structures and devolved power down to business units, creating far more decision-making autonomy for general managers.
  • His closures and simplifying activities resulted in a massive ‘downsizing’ of the business by nearly 200,000 staff, saving the business $6 billion and earning him the epithet of ‘Neutron Jack’ (after the Neutron Bomb that kills people while leaving infrastructure standing).

Building the New – How Welch Re-built GE in the 1990s

Having torn down what Welch perceived as not working, in the 1990s, he turned to creating a set of sustainable practices.

  • Managers were evaluated against the ‘Welch Matrix’ of values and new managerial appointments and deployments took up a full month of his time every year. He articulated his 4 Es of ‘energy, energisers, edge, and execution’, and placed adherence to values above achievement of figures.
  • He asked experts at Crotonville to develop a mechanism to hold middle managers at all levels accountable and in 1988 launched the ‘Work Out’ process of town hall meetings where managers had to give answers and make decisions, and created opportunities for large group brainstorming. This process was widely emulated by other businesses.
  • He learned how Walmart – then as now, hugely successful – stayed at the top of its game by gathering information constantly about what promotional activities are working and failing (for their competitors as well as for themselves) and then rapidly making changes. He adapted what he learned into GE’s QMI process of ‘Quick Market Intelligence’. This opened up huge commercial opportunities.
  • To encourage innovation, he recognised the need for excellent communication up and down the organisation, and across its businesses and divisions. His ‘Boundaryless Organisation’ was, perhaps, one of the biggest drivers of GE’s success.
  • In 1997, Welch initiated rigorous quality management, mandating Toyota’s ‘Six Sigma’ process throughout the business, expecting huge numbers of managers to be trained and gain their ‘belts’.
  • Finally (for this quick summary), Welch spotted the coming of the web as a primary means of doing business. Throughout the mid to late 90s, GE businesses were adjusting and developing their practices in a piecemeal fashion. In 1999 Welch launched his ‘destroyyourbusiness.com’ initiative to compel every part of GE to reinvent itself.

The upshot of all of this was not just spectacular growth, which other great CEOs have achieved. Welch was able to create a lasting change that persisted under the next CEO.

Pithy Soundbites

Welch is well known for coining pithy soundbites. Here are a few favourites.

  • ‘Change before you have to’
  • ‘Lead rather than manage’
  • ‘Control your destiny or someone else will’ (also the title of a 1995 book about how Welch was making his changes).
  • GE is ‘the largest petri dish of business innovation in the world’
  • ‘For a large organisation to be effective, it must be simple’

Lotte Bailyn: Life and Work

Work-Life Balance has been a buzz-phrase that I have been aware of since the mid-1990s. And we no longer (in the West) think of work as somehow ‘walled-off’ from the rest of life. But this wasn’t always so. At the forefront of charting the shifts in the relationship of working life and home life through the twentieth and into the twenty first century, has been Lotte Bailyn.

Lotte Bailyn

Very Short Biography

Lotte Lazersfeld was born in Vienna, in 1930, into a Jewish family. In 1937, as a young child, she travelled to the US with her father, to flee Nazi persecution. Her mother, Marie Jahoda, went to England. Lotte studied Maths at Swarthmore College and then entered Harvard in 1951, where she studied Social Psychology, earning an MA and PhD. She married historian Bernard Bailyn.

She spent many years struggling to gain a full time academic post before being appointed, in 1972, to the faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Between 1997 and 1999, she chaired the faculty T Wilson (1953) Professor of Management, Emerita.

Bailyn’s Research

Bailyn’s research interest is the intersection of work and home lives. This necessarily involves her in the issue of gender at work, because of the disproportionate role that women play in care-giving. She is therefore interested in the impact this has on women’s careers.

Her first book, however, focused on the way male engineers who put more time into their families and communities were under-valued by their companies, despite enhanced people and relationship skills. Living with Technology: Issues at Mid-career was published in 1980.

But her more important book, Breaking the Mold: Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives (1993), had a wider perspective, looking at the impact on modern workforces of equating time at work measures with commitment and competence. The book was way ahead of its time.

Bailyn’s research consistently shows that long hours actually hinder productivity and creativity. Employers can maximise their success by encouraging maximum flexibility of work scheduling, by creating motivated employees. She argues that senior leaders need to recognise that their path to the top will not be the right path in the future: the ideal worker is no longer one who will put in long hours, attend meetings at the drop of a hat, and put their family and community in a clear second place.

Instead, organisations need to shed what Joan Williams has called ‘flexibility stigma’ and embrace what Bailyn calls the ‘dual agenda’: that we thrive best when we are able to meet our personal and business needs at the same time. This is particularly important for low wage workers whose shift scheduling can be changed at short notice, creating havoc with care arrangements. Unsurprisingly, this results in low morale, reduced productivity, and absenteeism. Bailyn finds that predictability of working hours is highly valued. Unpredictability is a more significant factor than long hours.

Her conclusion is that the presence of flexible working policies is nowhere near enough. It is the extent to which organisations see them as a positive asset to be exploited, rather than a burden to be managed. We all need to recognise that our lives outside work are intimately intermingled with our working lives. They influence our attitudes, capabilities and, ultimately, our productivity.

Roy Baumeister: Ego Depletion

Roy Baumeister is one of the most widely cited psychologists. His research interests are broad and range across much of social psychology, leading him to be able to take a multi-disciplinary and synthesising approach to understanding large and important psychological questions. Yet he  also engages in careful and detailed experiments.

Roy Baumeister

Very Short Biography

Roy Baumeister was born in 1953, in Cleveland Ohio. He describes his upbringing as ‘a series of lucky accidents that helped bring me to a calling perfectly suited to me’. And he describes his parents as ‘harsh, strict, dogmatic, Nixon-worshiping immigrants who plodded grimly and dutifully through life [who] clung to each other and feuded with the rest of the world … and insisted on unquestioning obedience and allegiance to their theories about everything.’

As a result, Baumeister has no allegiance to any point of view and is therefore able to change his mind, as he learns of new evidence. This makes him an ideal scientist, and well placed to revise long-cherished social and psychological theories.

He gained his Bachelors degree from Princeton, switching from Maths after two semesters to Psychology – a compromise between maths (which his father favoured) and philosophy (which Baumeister was drawn to). He did an MA at Duke, before returning to Princeton for a PhD, that was awarded in 1978. After a one-year post-doctoral fellowship in sociology and University of California, Berkeley, he took a teaching post at Case Western University in 1979. There he remained until 2003, becoming a full professor in 1992. He then moved to his present appointment, as Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University.

Baumeister’s Work

Baumeister rapidly realised that scholarly review articles would give him the opportunity to survey large amounts of literature and answer larger questions than individual experiments could tackle. Consequently, his wide research interests and his big-picture approach have led to him producing a lot of important thinking over the last 35 years. This has resulted in a vast array of academic citations, around 30 scholarly book publications and a huge following of academic researchers who rate the impact of his work extremely highly.

Among the topics Baumeister has tackled are:

Among these are some topics that are of particular interest to us, with a focus on management.

Free Will and Self-defeating Behaviours

Of course, free will has fascinated philosophers for centuries, and now neuro-scientists are highly engaged in the debate. Baumeister’s contribution is to define it in psychological terms, as being made up of four components:

  1. Self-control
  2. Rational choice
  3. Planful behaviour
  4. Autonomous initiative

He argues that exerting free will results in three things: control of our actions, socially-directed choices, and enlightened self-interest (choices that define our self-interest in the wider context of our social groups and broader society). Free will does, however, sometimes lead to self-defeating behaviours.

Some have argued that certain people have a self-destructive urge that powers these kinds of behaviours. But Baumeister’s research rejects this hypothesis. What he finds is that apparently self-defeating behaviours are the result of trade-offs we make, unexpected consequences, or at most, an attempt to escape from our perception of who we are (linking back to his interest in identity).

Ego Depletion

His most significant contribution to date is the concept of ‘Ego Depletion’ and the two related ideas that:

  1. Willpower literally requires energy
    (the ‘battery’ metaphor)
  2. Exercising willpower deliberately can strengthen it
    (the ‘muscle’ metaphor)

Baumeister coined the term ego depletion as a deliberate description of an effect that was first observed in a simple experiment. People had bowls of chocolate cookies and radishes placed before them and were told which they could eat. Those who were allocated the radishes were disappointed and showed desire for the ‘lost’ cookies.

In a subsequent test, Baumeister and his colleagues found that those who had had the radishes were far less persistent in solving puzzles than the group who had got the cookies and than a control group who had not been shown the choices. The conclusion is that the ability to exert conscious control (a function of what Freud called the ‘ego’) was depleted among those who had been forced to do so earlier. Baumeister was heavily influenced by Freud’s approach early in his career.

Your willpower, Baumeister says, starts the day at a peak, after a restful night, but diminishes through the day, as you use it up. (Toddler bedtime?) It needs recharging with food and rest. Indeed, his subsequent research has implicated blood glucose levels as a part of the physical mechanism, so the battery metaphor is highly apt.

More recent work also finds that if we practise willpower, our ability to deploy it grows stronger. The technique is regular practice at deliberately overriding your habitual ways of doing things and exerting conscious control over your actions. It is also worth noting research (including that of Angela Duckworth) shows that levels of willpower are highly indicative of lifetime satisfaction, wellbeing and success.

Whilst Baumeister is an accomplished academic author, he chose (wisely, I think) to team up with experienced journalist John Tierney to write about willpower. The resulting book, Willpower: Why Self-Control is The Secret to Success, is an excellent addition to any library: insightful, thought-provoking and easy to read. It is in a class with books by authors like Ariely, Thaler, Csikszentmihalyi, and Kahneman, and therefore one that scores exceptionally high on my ‘marginal notes and post-its scale’.

Bill Gates: Flawed Vision

Bill Gates is currently the richest man in the world. Whilst Pocketblog is about business and management, this fact is relevant. As is the fact that he is cofounder of the wealthiest charitable foundation in the world; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. All of this has come about thanks to three characteristics: fearsome intellect, relentless focus on financial growth, and a penetrating – though sometimes partial – vision of the future.

Bill Gates

William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, in 1955. He was a precociously intelligent child, reportedly reading a complete encyclopaedia by the age of 10. However, it was as a 13 year old that his path was set. At his prestigious private school of Lakeside, he co-founded a computer club: the Lakeside Programmers Group. There he first met future Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen.

Visionary Coup Number 1: Gates was impressed by the computer’s relentless ability to execute instructions and determined to study and master it, as a route to wealth. (Of course, he was not alone in this)

During his time at school, Gates’ programming skills progressed from writing a simple Tic-Tac-Toe program (Noughts and Crosses, in the UK) to traffic control systems and a school timetabling program (that incidentally put him in the classes with the most interesting girls – although he seems to have spent most of his time with the computer!).

Gates’ parents saw his future career – like that of his father – in the law and he went to Harvard Law School in 1973. However, he sent more time in the computer department, where he met his other long-time Microsoft partner, Steve Ballmer. But it was with Paul Allen that Gates founded Micro-Soft in 1975 – renamed without the hyphen a year later. They pursued an opportunity to write code for the new Altair 8800 computer, aimed at hobbyists. By 1977, Gates had dropped out of Harvard, with the blessing of his parents.

Visionary Coup Number 2: Gates saw early circulation of his software among hobbyists as what we would now call piracy and wrote trenchantly defending the right for software writers to make money from their work. (Of course, others shared that conviction)

His biggest visionary coup originated in a request in 1980 from IBM (then an absolute colossus) for Microsoft to create a BASIC Interpreter to allow users of its new Personal Computers to write programs using the popular language, BASIC. They also mentioned the need for an operating system.

When IBM and the company Gates recommended failed to reach agreement, Microsoft stepped in and offered to create an operating system. They did so, by buying the exclusive rights to an existing OS, and adapting it. But his genius vision came next…

Visionary Coup Number 3: Gates saw that IBM’s PC model would be copied, and every new computer would need an operating system. So he sold IBM the right to use his OS, but retained the copyright for Microsoft.

Soon, every PC or PC clone had Microsoft’s MS DOS as its interface with users. It rapidly displaced a host of competing operating systems. In 1985, Microsoft evolved the command line OS into a new paradigm (championed by Apple) – that of a graphical user interface that they called Windows.

In the 1980s too, Microsoft began massive investment in buying up and developing the software that workers would need to do their day-to-day office tasks: word processing, working with numbers, creating databases, and producing  presentation slides (are you old enough to remember hand-drawn transparencies?).

Visionary Coup Number 4: Gates saw that PC would only be a compelling must-have tool, if it could be used by everyone to do the things everyone needed to do. Microsoft now calls this suite of tools Microsoft Office.

It was in the mid 1990s, that computer use started to shift rapidly, with the growth of the internet. Where was Gates on this?

Visionary Flaw Number 1: Gates failed to anticipate the rise of the internet and Microsoft was blind-sided by the rapid growth of Netscape, who produced the first mass-market (and free to use) browser.

Microsoft’s response was to buy a company that had a browser of its own, and then develop it into the first incarnation of their own Internet Explorer. Now, Gates’ ruthless commercial sense clicked in. He bundled the tool in with his ubiquitous OS, so that PC users would find Microsoft’s browser the easy-to-use default. This triggered a series of anti-trust battles in the US and European courts, at the start of the century.

Despite being ordered to split Microsoft into two companies at one stage, Gates fought back, vigorously defending Microsoft’s competitive dominance. He succeeded. If there is another visionary flaw, the question is whether it belongs to Gates or to Microsoft. In 2006, he started to transition out of his full time role at Microsoft, stepping down from the role of Chairman in 2014. However, he did retain the role of Technology Advisor. I think though, that he was still a dominant mind when Microsoft failed to spot another trend…

Visionary Flaw Number 2: Gates failed to fully appreciate the importance of mobile computing and smart phones. The early phone operating systems were clunky and Microsoft ceded dominance of handheld device computing to Apple and Google/Android.

There is a lot of catching up going on now and who can foresee the future of computing in the absence of giants like Steve Jobs (now sadly deceased) and Bill Gates (now largely out of day-to-day technology leadership)?

By the way, some would point to a third Visionary flaw – Microsoft’s failure to spot the importance of search and the very late arrival of its Bing service into competition with Google. I don’t, simply because I don’t think this service was ever at the core of Microsoft’s vision. Whether it becomes so, is a decision for its new and future leadership.

From 2000, when he and his wife set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has increasingly devoted his time to philanthropy. It is now his major activity. He is committed to handing over half or more of his wealth to charity and has huge vision for what that wealth can achieve.

Visionary Coup Number 5: Gates has re-ignited the fervour of modern American billionaires for philanthropy, in the mould of early twentieth century leaders like Rockefeller and Carnegie. And his vision for how to spend that money is inspired by careful research and a dedication to making a real difference.

I know our readers like business and management advice, but the fact is that Bill Gates’ business and management acumen was always focused on a ruthless drive to make technology a source of massive profit, and it is now focused equally relentlessly on a few global initiatives of scale and importance. The primary lesson we can learn is simply of focus.

Marshall McLuhan: Global Village

Marshall McLuhan is often described in hyperbole: as a genius, prophet, huckster, wizard or charlatan. He was an academic who studied neither business nor management. Not therefore an obvious candidate for Pocketblog’s Management Thinkers series, you would think. But what he did offer were thoughtful provocations on the evolution of societies. And what serious manager, professional or business-person would not want at least a passing knowledge of that?

Marshall McLuhan

Very Short Biography

Herbert Marshall McLuhan was born in 1911, in Alberta, Canada, and he grew up in Winnipeg. He studied at the University of Manitoba, transferring from his engineering degree to a BA (1933) and then MA (1934) degree in English. He then moved to Cambridge University, where he earned another BA and MA, before earning a PhD in 1943.

He took a number of minor academic posts in Canada from 1944 until he joined the University of Toronto, where he remained for the remainder of his career. During the 1960’s McLuhan’s reputation grew and he became much in demand as a speaker and public intellectual. He suffered a stroke in 1979, from which he never fully recovered, and died on the last day of 1980.

McLuhan’s Message

McLuhan was noted for saying that most people did not understand his work. It was his standard challenge to critics, and he even lampooned this himself, when he appeared in a brief cameo role, in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, telling a pompous academic that ‘You know nothing of my work.’

So I will ‘fess up and say that I know nothing of McLuhan’s work, but this brief interpretation.

That means I will brush aside any debate about whether McLuhan truly foresaw the internet, whether the ‘Global Village’ was a utopian concept or a vision of alienation, and what he really meant by his most famous quote: ‘the medium is the message’ (see below). Instead, I want to focus on an insight that is, I think, of great value to managers: the idea of Four Laws of Media.

The Four Laws of Media

Technology  will continue to change our culture and we need to understand the way it does so. McLuhan provided us a framework with which to do so. He identified four effects that technology has on culture. It is an extension of ourselves. New technologies have profound social, psychological and sometimes physiological effects, that can:

Amplify or extend part of our culture
Historically, writing extended memory, libraries extended our knowledge and telescopes extended our vision. More recently, aeroplanes extend our ability to move and the internet extends our ability to socialise and appreciate cats.

Obsolesce (displace) aspects of our culture
New technology displaces old. In the process, it makes some of our capabilities and social preferences less prominent in our culture. In storytelling, printing made oral storytelling obsolete and more recently, movies displaced theatre.

Retrieve elements that had previously been obsolesced
Ironically, as television gained much blame for displacing reading and compromising literacy in many western cultures, it is the mobile phone and texting that has retrieved literacy, and rap music that has retrieved poetry.

Reverse or ‘flip’ into something else entirely
A a technology strengthens it can contain the seeds of its own destruction – it can self limit. Car culture in many European cities is being flipped into bicycle culture, and internet devices are being flipped into a desire for ‘unplugged’ time. As a technology moves to an extreme, its nature will change – sometimes unpredictably.

This work was the culmination of McLuhan’s work; published shortly after his death. To me, it seems to transcend the hype and hyperbole. It is a useful model for considering the consequences of change and examining possible future scenarios. He saw technology as a primary driver of change when this was still contentious. Now we clearly see its pivotal role as a driver and an enabler of change. And for most managers, that is an important thing to get to grips with.

The Medium is the Message in 2 Minutes…

Courtesy of the Open University and BBC Radio 4.

The Best of 2015

There are 12 days of Christmas, they say. And we’re already on the fifth.

But nonetheless, I thought I’d take this opportunity, in the last Pocketblog of the year, to look back over more than 50 posts and more than 50 great management thinkers and doers, at my favourites.

I have selected 12 – one for each day of Christmas; one for each month; one for each of the ancient Sibyls; one for each of the mediaeval City of London great livery companies; one for each of the gods of Olympus… It seems 12 is a popular number.

My choices are personal: sometimes for the person, sometimes for the article. Take them or leave them. Re-read them or stick them into Pocket. Your choice.

And if someone from this lot isn’t to your taste, why not indulge in some TED fun…

A prize (not really) for the best management lesson that any reader can draw from this and add to our comments below.

We wish all of our readers a very
happy and
healthy and
prosperous and
peaceful 2016.