Monday Mornings with Madison

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Cultivating the Creative Spark, Part 2

Imagine a tree replete with lush fruit weighing down its verdant branches. The fruit is ripe for the picking. Now imagine that those opulent berries are creative thoughts. If creative ideas are the most valuable fruits a mind can produce, how does one increase the harvest? Is there a way to fertilize the soil in order to be more original? Are there things a person can do to be more artistic? More innovative? More imaginative? Is it possible to increase the mind’s inventiveness and readily harvest a continual, bountiful yield of fresh ideas? In a word, yes. Here’s how. Continue reading

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Cultivating the Creative Spark – Part 1

It is predicted that in the next 15 to 30 years, robots will be used to perform the most routine, repetitious, dangerous and data-intensive jobs, displacing a multitude of workers. Given this forecast, every person today needs to consider what jobs are beyond automation. Artificial Intelligence experts agree that creativity is one area where robots will not be able to outperform humans any time soon. That places creativity as a key ability. But is creativity a talent one is born with or is it a skill that can be acquired and cultivated? Are some people just more creative while others don’t have a “creative bone” in their bodies?
The answers might surprise you. Continue reading

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Decision-Making and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, Part 2

People are so risk-averse that they prefer to AVOID LOSS even more than they desire a POTENTIAL GAIN. That explains why in 10 Seasons of Shark Tank – a program about investors who fund startups – the “sharks” invested in just 11-19% of the 895 pitches they heard in 222 episodes. Even the most daring investors are risk-averse. What’s more, this is true even if what can be gained is more valuable than what is lost, and even if what is lost isn’t valued anymore. That’s the Sunk Cost Fallacy at work, and it’s SINKING YOUR SUCCESS. 

Want to avoid this cognitive distortion?  Continue reading

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Decision-Making and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, Part 1

There are many factors that affect the decision-making process, both personally and professionally. One factor is called “escalation of commitment”, when we commit further to a course of action or direction simply because of a past decision. This is often because of the sunk cost fallacy… a highly illogical but common thinking error. It is a major problem for companies weighing whether to persevere or reverse course on a decision. So what is the sunk cost fallacy and who is vulnerable to it? Is there a way to side-step this flaw when making business decisions? Continue reading

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Maximizing Meeting Effectiveness

According to an article published by MIT Sloan Management Review, “Meetings are a central fact of organizational life.” They can be invaluable as a mechanism to disseminate vision, craft strategic plans, develop responses to challenges and opportunities, brainstorm and gather ideas, and generate higher levels of employee involvement. They key words there are “can be.” So many meetings end full of promise and momentum… and then nothing else happens. Even a skillfully organized and expertly managed meeting can end up being a total waste of time. Why? Because it is only what happens AFTER a meeting that really matters. That is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. So how do you maximize meeting effectiveness? Here is how. Continue reading

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To Meet or not to Meet, that is the Question

“Business” and “meeting” go together like mac and cheese. But most folks agree that meetings are akin to having dental work… meaning that at best it is a painful necessity and at worst an activity to be avoided at all cost. However, when done right, meetings can be effective way to increase interaction, cooperation, teamwork, creativity and connection. The key thing to understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all or ‘right way’ for how companies should handle meetings. It varies depending on company’s size, culture, technical tools, industry, and tasks. Here are some meeting best practices to increase meeting effectiveness. Continue reading

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How Companies deal with “Bad Employees”

Every company hires employees that don’t work out from time to time, for one reason or another. It is unfortunate given the cost to replace employees, but it is normal. There are many reasons why employers may hire employees that, even after extensive vetting, ultimately don’t work out. Lack of real skills. Bad attitude. Idleness. Gossiping. Personal problems. Clashes with management. When it is clear that an employee is just not a good fit for the job, you’d think that the logical next step is to terminate that person’s employment. But, more often than not, business leaders do not let go of bad employees right away. Quite the contrary. Firing is often the path of last resort. Why is that? Is that wise? Continue reading

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Penny Wise and Pound Foolish in Business

An old idiom warns about not being “penny wise and pound foolish.” It cautions against being stingy with small amounts of money while extravagant with larger sums. In business, this would apply to companies that cut corners on small costs, yet spend extravagantly for other expenses of questionable value to the business. But, it might be just as concerning for companies to be overly stingy with big expenditures and lavishly generous with seemingly insignificant expenses that add up. It might not seem like it but it is not good for leaders to be either penny-pinching misers or extravagant spendthrifts. To what extent companies are willing to spend on a multitude of items sends a message to staff. So what is the right balance? Continue reading

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Building a Team with Depth and Backup Support

Businesses rely on employees to make things happen. So, a business is only as good as its people. However, even an organization with a solid slate of masterminds and top producers is not guaranteed to thrive and succeed year after year. That’s because people – unlike robots – get sick, have accidents, change jobs, move, or retire. A stellar company with a cracker-jack team can suddenly lose several superstars and find itself hobbled. Just ask the Golden State Warriors. So how does a company protect itself from instability due to employee losses? Continue reading

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The Biggest Driving Force is a Hunger to Succeed

Companies look at a variety of factors when hiring staff. Skills. College degrees. Certifications. Experience. Test scores. Expertise. Positive attitude. Integrity. But, most companies will put a higher value on one trait above the rest. Which trait that is varies from company to company. For example, Southwest Airlines — a lost-cost airline known for its friendly staff — hires for cultural fit, while McKinsey — one of the world’s most reputable consulting firms — prizes analytic ability and talent. But, the smartest managers will look for something that doesn’t show up on resumes, can’t be measured on tests and cannot be taught or learned. Hunger. To have an employee that is driven, relentless and highly focused, hire someone who is hungry… hungry to succeed.
So, how do you spot ‘hunger’? Continue reading

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