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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

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

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

Guest Post: What Do You See? Graham Duncan

Guest Post: What Do You See?

Graham Duncan, founder of East Rock Capital, is one of the people I’ve most enjoyed thinking with and learning from over many years.  Graham’s a student of the human mind and human development, particularly as applied to the field of investment.  Over breakfast not long ago, we were discussing the luminous moments in the work… 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

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

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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

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

acumen water crop

How Economic Progress Happens

In Economics in a World Where Everyone Matters Equally, I explored the concept of “integrated return on investment” (IROI), defined as the total surplus captured by all stakeholders in an endeavor. This could be expressed as a percentage annual return on the total investment made, including both the capital invested directly in the enterprise as… Read more » Read more

B&W

Stop Being a Ghost!

I’ve been grateful for the many comments I’ve received on the Living Two Stories post about the question of “what to do about not knowing what we want.”  One of the themes that has come up in conversations about the piece relates to authenticity: how to be authentic in the context of work one is… Read more » Read more

Work Life Balance

Work and Life: One More Truth

Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams look at a great deal of data on the life contexts and choices of executives, and their Harvard Business Review piece suggests three truths that emerge from amidst great individual variety:  Life Happens  Knowing that, focus on things that matter before they’re gone and build in the capacity to respond… Read more » Read more