Zen And The Art Of Cab Driving

Zen And The Art Of Cab Driving

Featured, Improvement
In an episode of the classic sitcom “Taxi” titled “Zen and the Art of Cab Driving,” Reverend Jim transforms himself from the worst to the best cab driver in New York by practicing the “dynamic perfectionism” methods he overheard.  Jim, typically in a hilarious fog, clearly imagined how to provide perfect cab rides, and acted on his vision.  Delighted customers showered him with tips and extended rides.  By the end of the episode, Jim achieved his goal. While there is no such thing as dynamic perfectionism, the concept that Jim comes across has merit. Many people think that when they get to an important position, they will do it well. However, if you don't do things to the best of their ability before they reach an important position, they will not…
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What Causes Poor Decision Making

What Causes Poor Decision Making

Featured, Improvement, Process
What causes well-meaning people to make poor decisions? To find out, researchers looked at 360-feedback data from more than 50,000 leaders to find the most common paths that lead to bad decisions. They include: Waiting too long for others’ input. Failing to get the right input at the right time. Failing to understand input because of insufficient skills. Failing to understand when something that worked in the past will not work now. Failing to know when to make a decision without all the right information and when to wait for more advice. If you recognize the habits that lead you down these paths, you’ll be halfway to making better decisions.
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Make Time for Strategic Thinking Every Day

Make Time for Strategic Thinking Every Day

Featured, Improvement, Leadership, Personal Growth
If you believe that only senior executives need to think strategically, think again. No matter what level you’re at, strategic thinking is a critical skill — one that can always be improved. To hone your capacity to see the big picture, start by making sure you have a solid understanding of the industry context and business drivers. Make it a routine to explore the internal trends in your day-to-day work. Pay attention to the issues that get raised repeatedly, and synthesize the common obstacles your colleagues face. Be proactive about connecting with peers in your organization and in your industry to understand their observations of the marketplace, and share this information across your network. Take the time to understand the unique information and perspective that your job function contributes to…
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Past Results Are Not A Guarantee Of Future Performance

Past Results Are Not A Guarantee Of Future Performance

Featured, Improvement
If you have seen commercials for financial advisors, there is usually a line that says "past results do not guarantee future performance." This doesn't just apply to the stock market. One of the most common habits that leads to terrible decisions is remaining locked in the past. We rely on the same old data or processes, failing to understand that they may be based on assumptions that are no longer true. It’s important to keep those base assumptions in mind when applying the tried and true. Question the data and processes you’re used to, and ask whether they can be updated or improved. Just because they worked in the past doesn’t mean they’ll work in the future. Ask why you are doing what you are doing. If the answer is…
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Look Outside Your Field

Look Outside Your Field

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
There is an old quote that has been attributed to numerous sources, "Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal." When it comes to innovating, one of the best ways to develop innovations is to steal from other industries. What is standard, and even taken for granted, in one industry, can be brand new to another. Adapting processes from different industries can spur new ideas and improved productivity. It also brings another advantage. People in a given industry tend to think alike. Part of this is due to the type of person your industry attracts, part of it is training. Bringing in ideas from a different industry brings in a different point of view and enhances the diversity of ideas you are working with. Don't limit yourself to similar industries. A service…
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Stop Procrastinating By Breaking Down A Project

Stop Procrastinating By Breaking Down A Project

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Improvement
We all have tasks that we put off and put off, but actually accomplishing them is rarely as bad as we expect. Sometimes beating procrastination is about just getting over the initial hurdle. Instead of forcing yourself to tackle the entire task at once, focus on the first piece of it. Start by thinking about the task and your resistance to it, and then find a time period that you’d be willing to commit. Could you focus on the task for an hour? What about 30 minutes? Shorten the amount of time to something that doesn’t make you resist getting started. Then figure out the bare minimum you can do — writing a few paragraphs, reading a few pages, or whatever won’t make you return to your procrastinating ways. Once…
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Stay On Track

Stay On Track

Featured, Improvement
Sometimes it's hard to stay on track to meet goals. We get distracted by other priorities, interruptions, and project creep. Ask yourself the following questions to make sure what you're doing is what you need to be doing. What are you doing today? This will bring to light any significant work that you aren’t aware is being done or that’s taking much more time than it should. Why are you doing the work you’re doing? This allows you to gain clarity on what’s important and why it’s important. How does what you’re doing today align with the bigger picture? This is a discussion about gaps and outliers. If you are working on something that doesn’t align with your broader goals, question the value of doing that work. What does success…
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Ask the Right Questions Before Using Productivity Apps

Ask the Right Questions Before Using Productivity Apps

Featured, Improvement, Process
Many of us search for the latest, greatest app or the fancy new software that will finally help us manage our time. But even the most well-designed program won’t help you unless you have a workflow management process, or methodology, already in place. If you find yourself installing new programs or apps, testing them out for a day or two, and then never opening them again, it may be because you didn’t have a strong workflow methodology to start with. So before you install that latest app, Harvard Business Review recommends you ask yourself the following questions: How do I currently track tasks? How will this software fit into my existing process? What problems do I want the tool to solve? There is no question that technology can improve productivity.…
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Cultures Are Not Interchangeable

Cultures Are Not Interchangeable

Featured, Improvement
Have you ever heard of cars from NUMMI? It's not surprising if you haven't. Closed in 2010, NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.) was a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. Toyota shared its production methods, bringing people from the plant to Japan to train. Lessons learned from the joint venture are detailed in the book, "The Toyota Way." The methods never gained steam, either at NUMMI or GM as a whole. Why? The cultures of GM and Toyota were too different to make the transition. It happens in joint ventures and mergers all the time. When corporate cultures are not taken into consideration, they can clash dooming long-term synergies. In the case of Toyota and GM, you not only had the different corporate cultures, but the differences in the American…
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Take a Vacation To Boost Your Productivity

Take a Vacation To Boost Your Productivity

Featured, Focus, Improvement
Studies show that Americans are taking less vacation than they ever have before. In fact, more than half of Americans (55%) let their vacation days go to waste, which equates to 658 million unused vacation days. Remember, this is paid time off — by not taking your allotted days, you’re essentially volunteering for your company. Forgoing your vacation might be worth it if doing so made you more successful, but studies show that people who take more vacation days are actually more likely to receive a raise or a bonus. So, go away! Plan ahead, too: Your vacation will only improve your energy and outlook upon returning to work if you plan it at least a month in advance and get far away from work (that’s physical and emotional distance).…
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