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HBR: Persuading Your Team to Embrace Change

How do leaders persuade people to do things they would rather not do? The author outlines two very different persuasive techniques based on social science: the “foot-in-the-door” technique and the “door-in-the-face” technique. Each of these techniques can work in the right situation, although neither of them translates perfectly from the ivory-tower world of social-science research into the messy realities of organizational life. But both techniques can help leaders reflect the hard work of making big change, and what is required to get beyond what management theorists like to call “active inertia” — the tendency for people and organizations to seek comfort in the old ways of doing things, even (or especially) when the world around them is changing dramatically.

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Fast Company: Four lessons on innovation from the most creative team in baseball

Opening Day of the baseball season offers the chance to reflect on the arrival of spring, the childhood pleasures of skipping school for the ballpark—and, for people like me, who think about creativity and innovation, how hard it can be to change an institution that is in desperate need of reimagination and renewal. Most everyone agrees, as a recent Sports Illustrated analysis made clear, that Major League Baseball games take too long and move too slowly, that the so-called unwritten rules of on-field behavior wind up ruling out fun and spontaneity, and that the rise of analytics has replaced human drama with algorithmic tyranny. No wonder MLB now ranks behind the NFL and the NBA in terms of popularity and star power.

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HBR: To Find Creative Solutions, Look Outside Your Industry

The chaos and crises of the last two years have created all kinds of questions for leaders and organizations. One of the biggest questions is: Do we have new ideas about where to look for new ideas? When it comes to innovation and problem-solving, there will always be a place for old-fashioned, time-consuming R&D — research & development. Today, though, there is also a place for a different kind of R&D — rip off and duplicate. The fastest way for organizations to make sense of challenges they are seeing for the first time is to survey unrelated fields for ideas that have been working for a long time. Why gamble on untested strategies and insights if you can quickly apply strategies and insights that are already proven elsewhere? That’s how leaders can help their colleagues keep learning as fast as the world is changing.

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Fast Company: This Brazilian billionaire should be your role model for corporate activism

Super-rich entrepreneurs love to explore brash endeavors outside the mainstream of their business—say, the high-profile space race between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, or Larry Ellison’s obsession with the America’s Cup. But it remains genuinely rare, and worthy of attention, when a billionaire entrepreneur takes a hard look at the society around their business and commits to brash endeavors to challenge inequality, racism, and the crisis fueled by COVID-19.

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HBR: How Leaders Can Balance the Needs to Perform and to Transform

These are trying times for optimists. Covid deaths remain tragically high. Job growth remains stubbornly low. So There has never been a tougher time to be a leader, whether that’s running a big company or being in charge of a small team, Bill Taylor writes in this piece. He offers three sets of questions to help leaders focus on what’s important right now. The first set involves managing time: how to handle the chaos of the present while also creating space to focus on the future. The second set involves the personal stress of leadership: how to solve problems that your organization has never encountered before, without burning out or giving up? The third set involves rank-and-file morale: how to encourage people to stay upbeat and energetic when it is so easy to feel anxious and beaten down. If you can devise answers to these three sets of questions, you have a chance to pass the leadership test of our time.

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Fast Company: How one humble Main Street retailer beat COVID-19—and Amazon

A crisis, the old bromide goes, is a terrible thing to waste. One way not to waste the brutal crisis we’ve experienced over the past year is to learn from organizations that have thrived while their peers have struggled. What did they see that others didn’t see? What did they promise that other couldn’t promise? What did they do that other wouldn’t do?

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HBR: How to Stay Optimistic (When Everything Is Awful)

These are trying times for optimists. Covid deaths remain tragically high. Job growth remains stubbornly low. So many of our colleagues and kids are feeling stressed, exhausted, angry — “hitting the pandemic wall.” No wonder a recent front-page article in the Wall Street Journal, which has chronicled the Covid-driven struggles of companies and universities, highlighted a crisis at a different kind of organization — Optimist International, a 110-year-old club with chapters around the world. Membership is now at 60,000, down from a high of 190,000, although club leaders remain true to their guiding spirit. “When you hit rock bottom, the only direction you can go is up,” said one chapter head, who declared she was “getting my optimistic groove back.”

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HBR: The Leadership and Artistry of Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos and a legendary internet entrepreneur and management thinker, has died at age 46. His passing has inspired an outpouring of affection and remembrances, and there is an understandable rush to evaluate the impact of his leadership. But to do so for Tony requires thinking about him as an artist and not just a long-serving CEO, as someone driven by big ideas, experimentation, and grand passions rather than just business plans and stock-price targets. As with so many artists, the things that made Tony so easy to admire were brilliant and messy at the same time, which is what makes his legacy so rich and his lessons so valuable.

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HBR: To Solve Big Problems, Look for Small Wins

It is tempting, during a crisis as severe as the Covid-19 pandemic, for leaders to respond to big problems with bold moves — a radical strategy to reinvent a struggling business, a long-term shift to virtual teams and long-distance collaboration. Indeed, so much of the expert commentary on Covid-19 argues, as did a recent white paper from McKinsey & Company, that we are on the brink of a “next normal” that will “witness a dramatic restructuring of the economic and social order in which business and society have traditionally operated.”

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