Sunday, April 19, 2015

Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post comparing technology companies to countries. For Google, I choose Japan because both the company and country have distinctive cultures and have continuously demonstrated expert technical competency and precision. The post and the comparisons were simplistic and meant mostly to provoke thoughtful conversation, but after reading Laszlo Bock's Work Rules, it is evident that I was right about at least one thing: Google does have a truly distinctive culture.

In Work Rules, Bock summarizes the pillars of Google's culture and details how the company's People Operations function works and has evolved with the rapid growth of the company. It is fascinating as an insider's view of Google and also as a primer for other organizations. There's abundant material here that company leaders and HR specialists can use, tweak, test, and implement.

As a high level summary, Bock distills key "work rules" into ten steps that can transform a team or workplace:

1. Give your work meaning.
2. Trust your people.
3. Hire only people who are better than you.
4. Don't confuse development with managing performance.
5. Focus on the two tails.
6. Be frugal and generous.
7. Pay unfairly.
8. Nudge.
9. Manage the rising expectations.
10. Enjoy! And then go back to No. 1 and start again.

Google has become a very strong brand and I thought it was interesting as I mentioned Work Rules to others how many seemed predisposed to favor or dismiss the ideas based on preconceived notions of Google. Some thought any idea from Google must be worth trying, while others conveyed that Google has the luxury of resources to try things other companies simply can't. Whether you already have preexisting ideas about Google or not, I highly recommend Work Rules -- for the narrative of Google, Bock's wealth of experience as a business professional (including time spent at McKinsey before he joined Google), and also the many anecdotes, studies, and work rules you can draw from.

For an outsider's view of Google, I would also recommend Steven Levy's In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.


Monday, April 13, 2015

The Career Mentor Experience - UB Career Services Live Webinar

On April 14, I will be participating in a University at Buffalo (UB) Career Services live webinar targeted to students about the importance of making career connections. The webinar will include an online panel discussion in which UB alumni will share their experiences of establishing career connections and networking, both online and in-person.

Below are the webinar details:

The Career Mentor Experience Part 2: Meeting a mentor
Tuesday, April 14, 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Everyday I Fight by Stuart Scott (Book Review)

I was predisposed to want to read Stuart Scott's Every Day I Fight. I'd always liked what he brought to ESPN SportsCenter and how he helped evolve the brand to reach new audiences. I also respected and related to how much it meant to him to be a dad to his two girls.

Still, I was a little surprised by how heartfelt, honest, and reflective he was in what would be his posthumous memoir. I think I was expecting a book mostly about ESPN and the many athletes Scott had interviewed over the years. Figures like Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods. While these subjects are in the book, they are overshadowed by the larger themes that Scott wanted to leave behind: his indomitable love for his daughters and his thoughts and feelings about cancer. I appreciate Scott's willingness to bare all and be completely vulnerable about getting sick and living with cancer. I am sure many will enjoy his anecdotes about ESPN, but I suspect many more will draw inspiration from his words about cancer.

It's interesting. I picked up the book for a flight home and ended up reading it the following week, including on the fifth anniversary of my mom's death. Like Scott, she also died from cancer. I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence that I chose this book at this time. Here's to Stuart Scott and my mom: Happy Easter and ... booyah!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Herman Miller Living Office

Last week, I attended a two day business meeting that was held at the Herman Miller New York City office. I had heard of Herman Miller before but had no idea how much they've been doing around innovating work spaces.

A meme they've developed is Living Office and they define it as a "natural and desirable workplace that fosters greater connection, creativity, productivity, and, ultimately, greater prosperity for all".

Below are a few pictures I snapped while at the office. Also check out their Living Office information online. Especially fascinating is the Modes of Work elaboration.











Friday, January 23, 2015

Garden of Your Mind

A few years ago I attended a conference in which one of the presenters showed the Mr. Rogers "Garden of Your Mind" remix. It went over well and inspired the attendees.

Every since then, whenever I get ready to attend a business event where I'll be exposed to new ideas and meet new people, I think about these lyrics from the "Garden of Your Mind".

Imagine every person that you see
Is someone different
From every other person in the world
Some can do things
Some can do others
Did you ever think about the many things you've learned to do?

Did ever grow anything in the Garden of your Mind?
You can grow ideas
In the Garden of your mind

It's good to be curious about many things
You can think about things and make believe
All you have to do is think
And they'll grow

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ConnectED 2015

I am happy to be participating on a panel at IBM ConnectED 2015, an event focused on the latest technologies, best practices, and business benefits in cloud, mobile and social.


Below is the description for my panel:
  • INV401: Delivering Engaging and Differentiated Customer Experiences: A Customer Panel
  • Date/Time:  Tuesday January 27, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET
Panel description:

While the pace of business and the speed of content continue to accelerate, so does the demand to engage with audiences through rich and robust online experiences that span multiple channels and devices. By emphasizing delivery techniques including rich media and video, social, campaign management and analytics, enterprise integration and more, forward-thinking organizations are realizing the benefits of competitive differentiation, customer loyalty, and profitable growth. Join this customer panel discussion session to hear directly from successful customer leaders as they share how they are using Digital Experience platforms, powered by WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager services, as the transformational agent to their business models, driving customer experiences that deepen interactions with individuals and enhance audience engagement - on their terms and their time.

More information: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/collaboration/events/connected/

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Do They Know It's Christmas in Syria?

I can't believe it's been 30 years since the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was released. At the time, in 1984, mass famine was impacting Ethiopa, and Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote the song and rallied other musicians to raise money.

30 years later, sadly there is a new hunger crisis, this time in Syria and with the Syrian refugees. 

Please take a moment to remember read about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the World Food Programme's efforts to help.