Making each moment count

The Zen of Work: Making Each Moment Count

We do our work in episodes. We sit, pick up the phone, or gather. We engage in discussion, read, rough out numbers, sketch a thought. We go a certain distance, and then the episode ends, and if the thread gets picked up, it’s later, and another episode’s begun. One very simple way to divide episodes… Read more » Read more

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

Sol Lewitt

Why We Invest in Reviews and Rate Performance

GE made headlines with their decision to eliminate ratings. Accenture’s CEO announced in an interview with the Washington Post last year that they were eliminating their annual reviews: “We’re going to get rid of it. Not 100 percent, but we’re going to get rid of probably 90 percent of what we did in the past…. Read more » Read more

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Micromanagement 101 and Other Recent Adventures

After publishing Beyond the Holacracy Hype in the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review, we’ve followed up with two digital articles in HBR: How Self-Managed Companies Help People Learn on the Job (co-authored with Ethan Bernstein and Charlotte Dobbs), which lays out some personal learning experiments people can try whatever kind of environment they work… Read more » Read more

Encoding Learning

Encoding My Learning and Teaching: A Personal Reflection

Over the past couple of years, I’ve twice shared my priorities for personal development publicly – partly thinking my reflections might be useful to others, but mostly acting out of a belief that it would be useful to me to publicly state my commitments.  In “Three Lines to a Bird,” I describe the importance of… Read more » Read more

Feedback Flowers

Feedback in the Moment

Experience decays.  While some experiences stay with us vividly for years, most fade in hours.  Rapid feedback matters because it translates experience into learning while the experience is still alive for us.  This translates into registering whatever value there might be in the feedback more deeply, and into internalizing the learning more fully. Feedback in… 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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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

Becoming the Perfect Instrument Part 9

Josh Waitzkin on “Slowing Down Time”

The differences between those who achieve greatly and their peers are evident at both the longest and the shortest time horizons. The length of one’s horizon shapes the magnitude of the aspirations toward which one can effectively reach. The quality of one’s ability to see, choose and act in the finest demarcations of the moment… 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

Photo credit: Tiffany Franke

What I Need to Learn Next

Last year, I shared with my team and publicly on this blog what I needed to learn next: My priority for my development could be sketched as “three lines to a bird.” By this I meant that while a moderately good artist might take hundreds of lines to convey a bird, an artist like Picasso… Read more » Read more

napoleon crop

Admit Ignorance! Ask Dumb Questions!

Page 72 of Andrew Roberts’ new biography of Napoleon, a book I’m sure will take me a year to read, paints a compelling picture of ignorance in action. Napoleon has just been made a general while still a few months shy of his twenty-seventh birthday. Roberts quotes a fellow officer observing him as he prepares… Read more » Read more

Part 6

Beyond “The Dream of Safety”

Leap Before You Look The sense of danger must not disappear: The way is certainly both short and steep, However gradual it looks from here; Look if you like, but you will have to leap. Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep And break the by-laws any fool can keep; It is not the convention… Read more » Read more

Part 5

Deliberate Practice in the Making of Large Things

Where a practice session in sports or music might last a couple of hours, a writer trying a new novelistic form, in order to stretch his way of writing, or an entrepreneur learning to build a company in a new way, plays on a practice field that might have a span of several years. The… Read more » Read more

Part 4

What Makes Practice Deliberate

Influence helps to transmit the ways of seeing and working that accelerate progress toward mastery. That path to mastery is fundamentally shaped by the application of what researcher Anders Ericsson termed deliberate practice. Geoff Colvin distills the essence of this well: Deliberate practice is characterized by several elements, each worth examining. It is activity designed… 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