Education of a Strategist

The Education of a Strategist

Great strategists elevate organizations. They see the statue in the marble of the circumstances they face. They gain an understanding, both through analytics and judgment, of the very edge of what an enterprise can achieve — and they push the organization toward this frontier. While an immense amount has been written about the subject of strategy, much… Read more » Read more

attrition

What to Do When Your People Are Leaving

There are few things more unsettling for people-driven businesses like tech companies, professional service firms and asset managers than a spike in attrition.  High attrition can easily become a downward spiral, as the exit of key people causes others to question the firm’s health and the opportunities they’ll have. Often management teams haven’t experienced this… Read more » Read more

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What Does “Taking Ownership” Really Mean?

As we’ve described in pieces like “Self Management: A New Architecture” and “Why Is Micromanagement So Infectious?,” the crux of management exists in the meeting of the minds between what we term a sponsor and an owner. The fundamental act of delegation occurs when sponsor and owner agree upon a brief, giving the owner responsibility… Read more » Read more

Duck Rabbit

The “Duck-Rabbit” and the Art of Entrepreneurship

Anyone who has built a company knows what it’s like to flip back and forth between just knowing that what they’ve pictured in their head really will get realized in the world – and despairing that the latest just-maybe-insurmountable obstacle could derail the venture entirely. In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein writes about the “duck-rabbit” picture. … Read more » Read more

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How to Retain Talent – and How to Lose People the Right Way

Of all the systems relating to talent that I’ve ever had a hand in developing, the most powerful was a system we developed at Katzenbach Partners called “the retention tree.”  The system is extremely simple, and this short post includes everything you would need to implement it yourself. The context: Katzenbach Partners hired many people… Read more » Read more

On Hiring Well

On Hiring Well

Choices about whom to hire are among the most important choices any company makes. Hiring constitutes “choosing the choosers” of what a company will do and how they will do it, whether at the micro scale of delivering service at a car rental counter or the macro scale of building a new business. Unlike domains… Read more » Read more

Charlie Munger

Worldly Wisdom in 80 Models

As a companion piece to Graham’s Duncan’s post What Do You See?, I’d like to share a wonderful passage from Charlie Munger’s 1994 speech at USC, which my colleague Darko Lovric shared with me. Most intellectual progress comes from those who can see one thing more clearly than anyone has seen it, and learned to show that vision to the… Read more » Read more

You Must Change Your Life

You Must Change Your Life

Years turn, and our lives continue the motion they know. We try things, which yield some of the consequences we anticipate. Surprises happen. Most of these unfold at the periphery of our attention, and most of them seem small. And then there are moments in which life feels arresting. Often it isn’t clear why. Or:… Read more » Read more

Performance Management - Beyond the Ritual of the Annual Review

Beyond the Ritual of the Annual Review

An awful lot of ink in the past couple of years has been spilled about whether performance management is a fundamentally flawed idea, and whether formal reviews generally – and performance ratings in particular – should be scrapped. For people who would like to understand the arguments on both sides, two articles by friends capture… Read more » Read more

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What is Entrepreneurship?

A recent conversation brought me back to Howard Stevenson’s classic definition of entrepreneurship (see Eric Schurenberg’s Inc. piece for a useful elaboration): Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled Over a long enough time horizon, almost any significantly ambitious person’s quest begins to take on a significant element of entrepreneurship… Read more » Read more

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Talent, Development, and Achievement

As the first anniversary of the On Human Enterprise blog approaches, I’ve been looking back on some of the most central threads discussed here. One significant line of inquiry has been the question of human performance: what makes people good at things, how people get better and how talent translates into achievement over time. In… Read more » Read more

Deliberate practice

Always Be Practicing Something

With a small homage to David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, one of our touchstones in terms of how we think about professional development at Incandescent is “always be practicing something.” Anders Ericsson’s research on the acquisition of expertise, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, underscores the importance of accumulating many, many hours of “deliberate practice.”… Read more » Read more

Elise Waxenberg

Guest Post: Elise Waxenberg’s Advice from an Intern

  I had the opportunity to work closely with Elise Waxenberg at Bridgewater — she’s someone who has always reflected deeply on professional development and on “how work works.”  She’s now a rising second-year student at Harvard Business School and spending her summer working with Lincoln Center.  Her email response to the Advice to an… Read more » Read more

Advice to an Intern

Advice to an Intern

I’ve heard from many readers how useful they found Advice to a Student, which lays out an extremely demanding regimen for someone thinking about pursuing a first job in management consulting. This piece tries to answer a parallel question: what are the disciplines that, applied well, will help an intern in any field get the… Read more » Read more

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On Working for the Wrong Boss

You’ve been living with this for a couple of years. You have a job that’s enviable: a company you like, a leader in its field with a culture you genuinely admire; high compensation, higher than you could readily replace; leadership of the function in which you’ve made your career. But you aren’t sure what to… Read more » Read more

Advice to a Student - Campus Recruiting

Advice to a Student

I have spent the better part of twenty years in strategy consulting; I began at McKinsey & Company, co-founded a practice at Mitchell Madison Group and built Katzenbach Partners from a start-up to a firm of $50M annual revenue. After selling Katzenbach Partners to Booz & Company, I was a Senior Partner there before founding… Read more » Read more