How Successful Networks
Nurture Good Ideas

Maybe not to you, but to me these DAILY stats came as a shock:

154.6 billion emails
400 million tweets
16 billion words on Facebook
52 TRILLION words on email and social media*
(*equivalent to 520 million books)

Said stats appeared in the October issue of the Wired written by Clive Thompson: "THINKING OUT LOUD: How Successful Networks Nurture Good Ideas." I was captivated from start to finish. I admit a positive bias toward the value of social media, gaming, etc. On my lengthy list of recent reads you'll find at the top: Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter and Jane McGonigal's Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Thompson suggests that our social publication mania also yields extraordinary benefits. Here are a few quotes (which, of course, I also turned into a micro-PowerPoint presentation):

"Before the Internet, most people rarely wrote for pleasure or intellectual satisfaction after graduating from high school or college. ... The fact that so many of us are writing—sharing our ideas, good and bad, for the world to see—has changed the way we think. Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge."

"Having an audience can clarify thinking. It's easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing. ... Studies have found that the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to pay more attention and learn more."

"Brenda Clark Gray, an instructor at Douglas College in British Columbia, had her English students create Wikipedia entries on Canadian writers to see if it would get them to take the assignment more seriously. She was stunned at how well it worked. 'Often they're handing in these essays without any citations, but with Wikipedia they suddenly were staying up till 2 a.m. honing and writing the entries and carefully sourcing everything,' she tells me. The reason, the students explained to her, was that their audience—the Wikipedia community—was quite gimlet-eyed and critical. They were harder 'graders' than Gray herself."

"Once thinking is public, connections take over. Anyone who's Googled a favorite hobby, food, or political subject has discovered some teeming site devoted to servicing the infinitesimal fraction of the public that shares their otherwise obscure obsession. (Mine: guitar pedals, modular origami, and the 1970s anime show Battle of the Planets.) Propelled by the hyperlink, the Internet is a connection-making machine. And making connections is a big deal in the history of thought. ..."

New PPT: 22 First Things Before First Things

This most recent new PPT from Tom gives his ideas on the priorities of managers. He makes a strong case for the importance of: first-line supervisors, hiring, evaluations, listening, and developing your people. Take a look:

22 First Things Before First Things

In addition, he's added more thoughts to his current Master Presentation. You can get the update here:

Master, 23 October 2013

ZfU International Business School

This week's travels take Tom to Switzerland, near Zurich, where he's speaking to a group at ZfU International Business School. The topic, according to their website is The Essentials of Leadership. You can get the PPTs of the day with the links below:

ZfU International Business School, Regensdorf, Switzerland
Regensdorf Long Version

Dental Trade Alliance

Today, Tom's in Florida speaking to the Dental Trade Alliance. Established in 2004, the DTA resulted from the joining of two established organizations, the American Dental Trade Association and the Dental Manufacturers of America. In part, it funds programs that "either improve access to or the effectiveness of the oral healthcare system."

Dental Trade Alliance, Ponte Vedra, FL
Dental Trade Alliance, Long Version


I was eyeballing my new MASTER presentation. Some numbers popped out. So I decided to see if I could build a reasonable inclusive story from a handful of numbers ... 31 numbers to be exact. Herewith the result:


New PowerPoint
63 Big Things

Tom's been exploring new topics that look to the future, e.g., gamification, machines, robotics, social business, nanotechnology, and he's moved them to the forefront in his presentations. In this new collection of Big Things, he's assembled 63 things he feels are most important for all of us to know now. So, take a look, and perhaps make a reading list for yourself. There's a great deal of suggested material here in any of the above topics that strike you as essential to your future.

[10.22.13: Updated, now 73: 66 Big Things]

Deming & Me

W. Edwards Deming, the quality guru-of-gurus, called the standard evaluation process the worst of management de-motivators. I don't disagree. For some reason or other, I launched several tweets on the subject a couple of days ago. Here are a few of them:

Do football coaches or theater directors use a standard evaluation form to assess their players/actors? Stupid question, eh?

Does the CEO use a standard evaluation form for her VPs? If not, then why use one for front line employees?

Evaluating someone is a conversation/several conversations/a dialogue/ongoing, not filling out a form once every 6 months or year.

If you (boss/leader) are not exhausted after an evaluation conversation, then it wasn't a serious conversation.

I am not keen on formal high-potential employee I.D. programs. As manager, I will treat all team members as potential "high potentials."

Each of my eight "direct reports" has an utterly unique professional trajectory. How could a standardized evaluation form serve any useful purpose?

Standardized evaluation forms are as stupid for assessing the 10 baristas at a Starbucks shop as for assessing Starbucks' 10 senior vice presidents.

Evaluation: No problem with a shared checklist to guide part of the conversation. But the "off list" discussion will by far be the most important element.

How do you "identify" "high potentials"? You don't! They identify themselves—that's the whole point.

"High potentials" will take care of themselves. The great productivity "secret" is improving the performance of the 60% in the middle of the distribution.

HR Summit

Tom has probably been to Dubai at least a dozen times. This, in fact, is his second opportunity to address the annual HR Summit. Old friends from IIR are the organizers—they have shepherded him through working visits to the likes of Dubai, Angola, South Africa, Russia, and Thailand.

Slides: HR Summmit, Dubai

"Master" Presentation

Tom is preparing for his Dubai adventure. He has concocted a "master presentation" which is consistent with his most up-to-date thinking and work.

All yours ...

[Updated 10.22.13: Master, 22 October 2013]

Nordic Business Forum 2013

Tom is speaking today at the Nordic Business Forum 2013 in Jyvaskyla, Finland. (Jyvaskyla is about 200KM north of Helsinki.) The 3-day program of which he is part also includes presentations by Malcolm Gladwell, Jack Welch, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, among others.

Nordic Business Forum 2013



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