Sunday, April 30, 2017
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Friday, April 28, 2017
This desire for ‘more’ was rooted in love.
My desire to give my children more left me feeling less.
Families of today have ‘noisy’ lives.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned on my journey toward a simpler family life.
1. Hover less and your children will live more.
2. Entertain less and your children will innovate more.
3. Schedule less and your children will rest more.
4. Referee less and your children will problem solve more.
5. Buy less and your children will seek more.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Or you can learn more about Zhiyun products from their website and YouTube Channel here:
Monday, April 24, 2017
The best teachers all have at least one thing in common: they ask great questions. They ask questions that force students to move beyond simple answers, that test their reasoning, that spark curiosity, and that generate new insights. They ask questions that inspire students to think, and to think deeply.
As a business leader, you might have years of experience and the confidence of your organization behind you, so it may be tempting to think that your job is to always have the right answers. But great leaders have to inspire the same curiosity, creativity, and deeper thinking in their employees that great teachers inspire in their students – and that starts with asking the right questions. Any answer is only as good as the question asked.
As a dean, I find it useful to remember the statement often (perhaps spuriously) attributed to Albert Einstein that if he had an hour to solve a problem, and his life depended on it, he would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask.
Yet asking a good question is not an easy task. It requires us to look beyond simple solutions and to encourage colleagues to do the same. It requires courage and tact, to generate hard questions without sparking defensiveness, as well as being open to new ideas and to questioning untested assumptions. It requires being willing to listen and follow up.
I believe there are some essential questions that are useful across a variety of contexts, including, and perhaps especially, the workplace. In fact, I gave a commencement speech last year on this topic, suggesting to students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that there are really only five essential questions in life. Although the audience was future educators, I believe these questions are equally valuable for anyone in a position to lead or influence others.
Too often, we jump to conclusions without having enough information. We listen just long enough to form a quick opinion, and then we either endorse or oppose what has been said. This puts us at risk of making faulty judgments, leaving key assumptions untested, and missing out on potential opportunities.
Leaders (as well as their employees) need to be able to ask colleagues and direct reports to slow down and explain in more detail what is being proposed, especially if something doesn’t quite sound right or seems too easy to be a lasting solution. Asking “Wait, what?” is an exercise in understanding, which is critical to making informed judgments and decisions—whether in the office or the boardroom.
“I wonder why …?” or “I wonder if …?”
Children are far better than adults at questioning the world around them – nothing is beyond interrogation. When children wonder why the sky is blue, they prompt others to think, reason, and explain things anew. Similarly, leaders have to remain curious about their organizations in order to bring new ideas to bear on longstanding challenges.
Wondering why something is the way it is will sometimes lead to an unsatisfactory answer—as in, we do it this way because it’s easier and that’s the way we have always done it. But asking “I wonder why…” is the first step in overcoming the inertia that can stifle growth and opportunity for leaders and employees alike. That’s because it inevitably leads to the perfect follow up: “I wonder if things could be done differently?” This can begin the process of creating change by sparking the interest and curiosity of those with whom you work.
“Couldn’t we at least…?”
Most of us have had the experience of sitting through a contentious meeting, where stakeholders are polarized, progress is stalled, and consensus feels like a pipe dream. Asking “couldn’t we at least?” is the question that can help you and your colleagues get unstuck on an issue. It can get you started on a first step, even if you are not entirely sure where you will end. Perhaps you might first find some common ground by asking: “Couldn’t we at least agree on some basic principles?” or “Couldn’t we at least begin, and re-evaluate at a later time?”
“How can I help?”
The instinct to lend a hand to someone in need is one of our most admirable traits as human beings, but we often don’t stop to think about the best way to help. Instead, we swoop in and try to save the day. This frequently does more harm than good: it can unintentionally disempower, or even insult, those who need to take charge.
So when a colleague or direct report is complaining about an issue or expressing frustration, rather than jumping to offer solutions, try asking, “How can I help?” This forces your colleague to think clearly about the problem to be solved, and whether and how you can actually help. It helps your colleagues define the problem, which is the first step toward owning and solving it.
“What truly matters?”
This question might seem obvious, but I don’t think any of us ask it often enough. “What truly matters?” is not a question that you should wait to ask when you are on vacation or are retired. It should be a regular conversation, externally and internally. For example, it’s a useful way to simplify complicated situations, like sensitive personnel issues. It can also help you stay grounded when you have grand ambitions, like an organizational restructuring. And it can make even your weekly meetings more efficient and productive, by keeping people focused on the right priorities. Asking this often will not only make your work life smoother, but also help you find balance in the broader context of your life.
Leaders should ask these questions both on a daily basis and during critical moments. Of course, these aren’t the only questions to ask; context certainly matters. But I have found these five to be a very practical and useful way to ensure understanding, generate new ideas, inspire progress, encourage responsibility, and remain focused on what is genuinely important.
James E. Ryan is the eleventh dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the author of Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions. Before joining Harvard, Ryan was the Matheson & Morgenthau Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he founded the school’s Program in Law and Public Service. Ryan is the author of the nonfiction work Five Miles Away, A World Apart. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and first in his class from the University of Virginia Law School. A former clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as a former rugby player, Ryan has argued before the United States Supreme Court. He and his wife Katie live in Lincoln, Massachusetts with four kids, two dogs, two cats, and nine chickens.
You may have never seen it, but it turns out YouTube has a secret dark mode — and you can activate it, too.
As discovered by one resourceful Redditor, the secret mode appears to be available solely on the latest reiteration of Chrome (version 57 and above) — and once enabled, it seems to automatically apply to the remainder of the website, including the homepage and the dedicated channel pages.
Here's how you can activate it:
- Open the Chrome developer tools tab.
- Windows users can do this by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I.
- Mac users can do this by pressing Option + Cmd + I.
- Select the Console tab.
- Once in Console, paste the following text: document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=fPQ4jCL6EiE"
- Hit enter.
- Close the developer tools tab and refresh the page. Just a little heads-up: YouTube might look slightly different – though still in white.
- Click the main settings menu in the top right and find the 'Dark Mode' section.
- Toggle 'Dark Mode' on, and you're settled.
Now head to YouTube and kill all the lights.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Employee burnout is a common phenomenon, but it is one that companies tend to treat as a talent management or personal issue rather than a broader organizational challenge. That’s a mistake.
The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. Executives need to own up to their role in creating the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines that include too many meetings and far too little time for creative work. Once executives confront the problem at an organizational level, they can use organizational measures to address it.
In our book Time, Talent and Energy, we note that when employees aren’t as productive as they could be, it’s usually the organization, not its employees, that is to blame. The same is true for employee burnout. When we looked inside companies with high burnout rates, we saw three common culprits: excessive collaboration, weak time management disciplines, and a tendency to overload the most capable with too much work. These forces not only rob employees of time to concentrate on completing complex tasks or for idea generation, they also crunch the downtime that is necessary for restoration. Here’s how leaders can address them.
Excessive collaboration is a common ailment in organizations with too many decision makers and too many decision-making nodes. It manifests itself in endless rounds of meetings and conference calls to ensure that every stakeholder is heard and aligned. Many corporate cultures require collaboration far beyond what is needed to get the job done. Together, these structural and cultural factors lead to fragmented calendars and even fragmented hours during the day. Our research found that senior executives now receive 200 or more emails per day. The average frontline supervisor devotes about eight hours each week (a full business day) to sending, reading and answering e-communications—many of which shouldn’t have been sent to or answered by those managers.
Burnout is also driven by the always-on digital workplace, too many priorities, and the expectation that employees can use their digital tools to multitask and power through their workloads. Multitasking turns out to be exhausting and counterproductive as we switch back and forth between tasks. The costs of context switching are well documented: switching to a new task while still in the middle of another increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%. A Microsoft study found that it takes people an average of 15 minutes to return to an important project after an e-mail interruption.
Companies can begin to address the collaboration overload problem by adjusting organizational structures and routines. One easy step is to look at the number of nodes in the organization. These are intersections in the organizational matrix where a decision maker sits. A proliferation of nodes is a sign of unnecessary organizational complexity, and nodes act as organizational speedbumps, slowing down the action and stealing organizational time and energy.
Companies can also systematically examine how people go about their work. You can, for example, zero-base meeting calendars to determine which meetings are really necessary, how frequently they should be scheduled, how long they last and who really needs to attend. You can also look at how you staff teams. Instead of isolating star players by distributing them across teams, companies can often get better results by putting the high-energy, high-achieving players together on the same squad and having them tackle the highest priority work.
In addition to formal organizational changes, leaders can reduce burnout and raise enterprise productivity through softer interventions. For example, by adopting agile principles, leaders can motivate and energize teams, and give individual team members a way to own the results. With Agile approaches, teams focus on fewer, more critical activities. Initiative backlogs are used to set priorities, and the team reprioritizes the list whenever they add new tasks. This provides a mechanism for sustained focus on the most important priorities and constant pruning of less important ones. Projects are time-boxed and focused so that there is more doing and less energy-draining process.
Executives can also work on culture and coaching. Leaders can help establish new cultural norms around time and make clear that everyone’s time is a precious resource.
Weak time-management disciplines
In most large organizations today, the demand for collaboration has significantly outpaced the development of tools, disciplines and organizational norms to manage it. Most often, employees are left on their own to figure out how to manage their time in ways that will reduce stress and burnout. They have limited ability to fight a corporate culture in which overwork is the norm and even celebrated. And few employees have the power—or temerity—to call off unnecessary meetings.
But company leaders can do something. The first step is to get a handle on the problem. While executives like to measure the benefits of collaboration, few have measured the costs. But there are useful tools to measure how employee time is spent and how that affects burnout and organizational productivity. Ryan Fuller, the cofounder of a workplace analytics start-up acquired by Microsoft, notes that executives often simply do not know how much time employees spend on activities that contribute to enterprise productivity, nor do they know how much time is lost or spent on less productive activities. His company’s product is now marketed as Microsoft Workplace Analytics and provides one way to estimate how employee time is spent.
Using data from such tools, you can map the places in your organizations where too much time is spent in meetings, emails, or online collaboration. With this information you can target changes in specific groups and functions to reduce the organizational drag that drains productivity and leads to burnout. Our data suggest that most executives have an opportunity to liberate at least 20% of their employees’ time by bringing greater discipline to time management. Equally important, doing so gives employees back control over their calendars. We find that one of the greatest sources of organizational energy is giving employees a sense of autonomy. It pays to give people back control of their days. It also helps to avoid micromanaging, which is another contributor to stress.
Overloading of the most capable
Employee workloads have increased in many organizations in which hiring has not matched growth; companies overestimate how much can be accomplished with digital productivity tools and rarely check to see if their assumptions are correct. The overload problem is compounded for companies because the best people are the ones whose knowledge is most in demand and who are often the biggest victims of collaboration overload. In one company we studied, the average manager was losing one day a week to email and other electronic communications and two days a week to meetings. The highly talented managers will lose even more time to collaboration as their overwork earns them more responsibility and an even larger workload.
The same workplace analytic tools that can measure how much employee time is lost to unproductive activities can also measure the excess demands on the time of the best managers, enabling their bosses to redesign workflows or take other steps to avoid overload and burnout.
Everyone knows the human toll of burnout. Unchecked organizational norms insidiously create the conditions for burnout—but leaders can change them to make burnout less likely. Giving people back the time to do work that drives the company’s success will pay huge dividends by raising productivity, increasing productive output and reducing burnout. Everybody wins.
Eric Garton is a partner in Bain & Company’s Chicago office and leader of the firm’s Global Organization practice. He is coauthor of Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power (HBR Press, March 2017).