Thought leader vs thinker? Inflation time bomb, Good Arguments, Consumer shopping Cough in a box & Merging cultures
13th June 2021 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Dale Carnegie
Hope you’re Thriving!
I’ve had a good week with some good meetings and further work on my onboarding book. It’s a considerable job writing a book and effectively takes a year or two. I often think about libraries and imagine the combined amount of work that went into all those books. It’s not just the writing; it’s the rewriting and contemplating all the ideas and data. But that’s the job, making something complex into something simple and useful. As Seth Godin said, the reward for producing good art is you’re able to create more good art.
Thought leader vs thinker?
The term thought leader could easily invoke criticism, especially when it’s used by people describing themselves. And double especially when there is no bona fide credibility behind the statement. To achieve Grand Master chess level, one requires an ELO rating of at least 2,500 plus two favourable results from at least 27 games in tournaments. It’s difficult to disagree with that distinction.
So thinking about the difference between a thought leader and a thinker this week, I was considering all the work that’s gone in to make useful books in a library. Perhaps one definition of a thought leader could be the usefulness of their work. What is the measurable work that they have produced, and how useful is it to society?
Then thinking about a thinker.
At an event last year, someone described me as a thinker; I don’t know why, but that was their interpretation. And then I contemplated on that and thought (yes, I see the irony) that the only true freedom for a thinker is to produce work. The reason I do a newsletter every week and a podcast every week, which is a considerable amount of work, is that it simply frees me to be able to think clearly.
So I think you can’t call yourself a thought leader unless you have a measurable quantity of work that has been highly useful for society. And you can’t be called a thinker unless you regularly produce useful work.
Well, let’s hope you can find something useful in today’s newsletter or podcast!
Work for you vs someone else?
It seems the flavour of this week is about what I’ve been thinking.
This week I was in a meeting and working with a client on their Employee Promise. We’ll cover inflation later in this newsletter, but skills shortages are a pretty popular discussion point at many meetings I’m attending lately. And the inability to hire staff can sometimes have leaders ask “why?”. Within that conversation, a straightforward question emerged: “If you are paying market rates for employees, why should anyone work for you instead of the competition?” And it had the team stumped. They couldn’t figure out any reason why a person would want to work in this organisation rather than their competitor’s organisation.
We then discussed how if there isn’t a difference and we can only pay approximately the market rate for employees, then why do employees leave, and can we reverse engineer a better workplace? We firstly discussed Leigh Branham’s book The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave. Then we looked at his research on 20,700 employee exit surveys that identified four fundamental human needs.
• Employees need to feel proficient. They want to be matched to a job that aligns with their talents and their desire for a challenge.
• Employees need to feel a sense of worth. They want to feel confident that their commitment and their efforts translate into meaningful contributions to their company’s mission. They desire to be recognized and rewarded appropriately.
• Employees need to be trusted. They expect their employers to pay attention and be honest and open in their communications.
• Employees need to have hope. They want to be treated fairly and given opportunities to grow their skills and advance their careers.
Then we began to ask how we rate on those four questions. And, importantly, how would our employees rate us on those questions.
If you need to build the best team using the best talent, why would the best talent work for you instead of someone else? Being able to answer that question when asked could make a significant difference to your organisation.
Inflation time bomb vs Inflation transition
I’ve spoken about inflation in this newsletter many times this year. As US President Ronald Regan said, “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.”
And I think that the image below from a timber yard shows just what’s happening in some parts of the economy, where nine months ago, you could buy what looks to be three times as much timber as now for the same $1,000.
That’s why entrepreneurs and leadership teams need to focus on both input costs and pricing right now. This isn’t even to make more profit for some; it’s about survival.
So, where is inflation going in 2021?
We know the media loves a great antagonist in their stories, and they will write the story that gets the clicks.
So here are two of the best articles from the past week that I’ve found that look at the story from two angles.
Firstly this CNBC article talks about inflation being a global time bomb that will run out of control as it did in the 1970s.
Deutsche Bank warns of global ‘time bomb’ coming due to rising inflation
“The consequence of delay will be greater disruption of economic and financial activity than would otherwise be the case when the Fed does finally act,” Deutsche’s chief economist, David Folkerts-Landau, and others wrote. “In turn, this could create a significant recession and set off a chain of financial distress around the world, particularly in emerging markets.”
Second, this article from Charles Schwab explains how inflation is definitely with us but is only in a transitory state. It will only last for a short period.
Is 1970s-Style Inflation Coming Back?
“There are three significant differences between the economy today and in the 1970s that suggest inflation is not likely to return to those high levels:
1. Demographics have changed.
2. Labor market structure is different.
3. Globalization may be slowing, but it hasn’t stopped.”
Make up your own mind considering each of these two perspectives. But know that it’s essential to have an opinion to help with your strategic planning as you consider external risks to your business.
Below is the most interesting graph from the past week showing US inflation’s past 60 odd years. There aren’t too many times both Core CPI and Headline CPI both increased by a few percentage points at the same time.
Why good arguments make better strategy
Deciding what to do in the future, what strategy to choose, and what to say no to comes down to your team debating strategic decisions. This week I came across an article from MIT Sloan I thought you might value that outlines the value of productive debate and how to best use strategy maps to guide decision making and healthy debate.
From the article.
“Much of the problem with strategy-making arises because executives focus on predicting what the world will look like in the future when debating strategic decisions. This is unproductive and frustrating; even the most accurate predictions are worth little if they are not embedded in a logically coherent strategy argument. Apple made the right bet about the relative importance of call quality with the original iPhone. Still, the bet paid off only because it was part of a valid argument that recognized what else had to be true for the iPhone to win. The core of every great strategy is a valid argument. Leaders should work to develop such an argument. It should include what needs to be true for the strategy to succeed, and it should specify the resources (people, technology, finances, and even regulators) required to execute it. Constructive debate, iterative visualization, and logical formalization are essential tools for arriving at such arguments. They are a practical and accessible way for working executives and their teams to develop the skills and habits of mind needed to achieve strategic success.”
Read the article here Why good arguments make better strategy
Just in time manufacturing and global supply chains are great until they fail, and the world pays the price. “In a race to get to the lowest cost, I have concentrated my risk. We are at the logical conclusion of all that.” How the world ran out of everything.
Man fined for engineering without a license was right all along. Mats Jarlstrom has spent most of the last decade trying to disrupt conventional wisdom surrounding a century-old technology. Traffic Lights. It was an uphill climb.
Consumers are not shopping in the same ways as they did pre-pandemic, and we know that the last 12 months have created a significant evolvement of retail that is here to stay. Here are some emerging trends that reflect how we are shopping and will continue to shop in 2021 and beyond. How we’re shopping now: five retail trends and the required rethink
The UK Government awarded two contracts to build an online “Cough In A Box” platform, an app to identify “vocal biomarkers including coughing” that can be used to detect the virus. UK mulls using AI to check coughs for coronavirus
“Essentially a RAM upgrade for humans” – a wearable neurostimulation patch delivers an electrical charge to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain that produces gold-standard research-testable improvements to memory and learning. This $60 Patch Boosts Memory 20%
Six of the top ten places to live in the world are in Australia and New Zealand, with Perth coming in 6th according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Global Liveability Index
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
Many leaders will focus on the finances and processes when acquiring a company and don’t often consider the culture. Yet the culture can actually create major problems and can even destroy a good merger. When two companies come together who each might previously have had good cultures, the result can be a toxic culture where the A players leave.
And ironically one of the reasons people buy a company is the top talent.
So when acquiring a company, having a plan for the cultures to merge is one of the most important things you must do.
This week on The Growth Whisperers we answer the question How do you integrate cultures when companies merge? Then we review the 7 most important things to consider when merging two company cultures.
How do you integrate cultures when companies merge or a company is acquired?
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