August 2020 - five months after, people being people, value statements... and crisps

Hi and welcome! I’m Richard Brisebois and this is my newsletter in which I share some of my writings as well as interesting articles, interviews and research about management, leadership, and strategy. There is an archive of past issues. If you’re new here, subscribe. And if it’s getting old to be here, there’s an Unsubscribe button at the bottom of this message.

Last month’s issue was a peek under the hood of the type of strategy work I do with my clients. It all starts with establishing a means to scan periodically whatever is going on outside and inside your team/organization that might affect its ability to perform. This is an ongoing process and it is one in which it is the manager’s responsibility to figure out how these forces might hinder or enhance your team/organization’s ability to perform. No one else can do it for you.

As I was putting my notes together for this issue, it dawned on me that while we have been under COVID-19 for over five months now, a lot of the considerations I shared earlier still apply today:

Managing people

How do I know people won’t watch Netflix all day?

Netflix isn’t the real danger. The real danger is that without a physical separation between work and the rest of life, people won’t ever stop working—risking burnout, which has huge costs for employees and their organizations. Wise managers address this, rather than worrying that people will slack the second they aren’t being watched.  [Thanks, Rob for the reference]

No need to be detestable

Two studies: Selfish, deceitful, and aggressive individuals are no more likely to attain power than are generous, trustworthy, and nice individuals.

Corporate Culture

When it comes to culture, does your company walk the talk?

An MIT study finds no evidence that companies with value statements actually live their stated values.

Speaking of value statements

Only 2% of CEOs who signed the Business Roundtable statement ran it past the board, casting doubt on whether they intend to significantly change their behavior. Corporate decisions with major consequences are ratified by the board.

Silicon Valley… here and there

Google engineers can’t figure it out either

Documents released in a lawsuit filed by the state of Arizona against Google last week revealed that Google engineers couldn't figure how to use their own privacy settings. They said...
   - "The current UI feels like it is designed to make things possible, yet difficult enough that people won’t figure it out."
   - "Add me to the list of Googlers who didn’t understand how this worked..."

Toronto would like to be seen as the nice person’s Silicon Valley, if that’s not too much trouble.

The Canadian tech hub is selling itself as an antidote to the tech industry’s worst impulses. But what does that entail?

Current events

Let’s remain alert

The United States confirmed 46,429 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, with 6.3 percent of the 741,205 tests reported coming back positive. An additional 510 deaths were attributed to the virus on Sunday, bringing the pandemic’s American death toll to 183,045. Please stay safe!

A few reminders regarding elections

  • Polling doesn't usually mean a thing until late in the campaign;

  • People don't tell pollsters the truth;

  • Many people will be voting against something rather than for something;

  • Elections are about turnout, not what one opines in the comfort of their home.

Take care of yourself

Be safe out there and see you next month!


p.s. I didn’t know where to fit this sad news — RIP Sir Ken Robinson. His TED Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity? will give you much to think about.