Drops from the Fire Hose – September 28, 2012

Great Leaders Don’t Need Experience — Harvard Business Review

Gautam Mukunda studied political, business, and military leaders, categorizing them into two groups: “filtered leaders,” insiders whose careers followed a normal progression; and “unfiltered leaders,” who either were outsiders with little experience or got their jobs through fluke circumstances. He then compared the groups’ effectiveness; for instance, with U.S. presidents, he looked at historians’ rankings from the past 60 years. He discovered that the unfiltered leaders were the most effective—and also the least effective—while highly filtered leaders landed in the middle of the pack.

Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t. — Faculty Focus

With easy access to all sorts of technology, students multitask. So, do lots of us for that matter. But students are way too convinced that multitasking is a great way to work. They think they can do two or three tasks simultaneously and not compromise the quality of what they produce. Research says that about 5% of us multitask effectively. Proof of the negative effects of multitasking in learning environments is now coming from a variety of studies.

What’s Really Eating the Family Budget? It Ain’t Smartphones — The Atlantic

The WSJ is 100% right: Cell phones are getting smarter, better, and more expensive. But the real “eater” of the family budget isn’t our new smart phone. It’s something older. Actually, it’s three things. And they’re the same three things that have been eating middle class budgets for the last 30 years: housing, health care, and education.

7 Reasons Some Entrepreneurs Don’t Meet Their Potential — Mashable

Don’t get me wrong, it’s critically important to be passionate about whatever product or service your company provides. However, a successful company is even more passionate about solving customer needs. To make it as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to stay focused on your customers … what are they looking for, what would help them, and how can you make a difference. By being too inwardly focused on your own products, you may miss out on key opportunities in the market.

Marissa Mayer Allegedly Has 10 or 12 Different Priorities for Yahoo — Wired Business

For starters, the former Google executive wants to focus Yahoo on four “Cs:” culture, company goals, calibration and compensation. She’d also like Yahoo to focus on its core competencies (two bonus “C’s”). Everyone also needs to move faster and get past Yahoo’s old “consensus culture” (two negative “C’s”). Mayer would also like Yahoo to become part of people’s daily routines. And it should also focus on mobile! Mainly, though, Yahoo should focus on personalization. It should also add users, and grow usage, and also add advertisers and talent.

In summary, culture + company + calibration + compensation – consensus = a daily mobile routine of personalized core competencies increasing users’ usage of talent-built, advertising-driven products. It’s almost too simple.

Sarcasm aside, it’s early yet in Mayer’s reign, and all we really know about her thinking thus far is from second- and third-hand reports. It’s possible she has a clear plan for how to turn around Yahoo. What she doesn’t have is a plan that’s clear to the world outside Yahoo.

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