Drops from the Fire Hose – October 7, 2012

How to Present to Senior Executives — Harvard Business Review

It can be frustrating. You probably have a lot to say to them, and this might be your only shot to say it. But if you want them to hear you at allget to what they care about right away so they can make their decisions more efficiently. Having presented to top executives in many fields — from jet engines to search engines — I’ve learned the hard way that if you ramble in front of them, you’ll get a look that says, “Are you kidding me? You really think I have the time to care about that?” So quickly and clearly present information that’s important to them, ask for questions, and then be done. If your spiel is short and insightful, you’ll get their ear again.

Bogus Bonuses and C.E.O. Salaries — Dan Ariely

The study, conducted by Charles M. Elson and Craig K. Ferrere, shows that many of the skills C.E.O.s possess are specific to the company in which they are acquired, and are not readily transferable to other companies. Their analysis shows that almost every attempted transplant at the top ranks has resulted in failure.

What this means is that all this benchmarking makes the market of C.E.O.s seem like a market with high mobility, allowing for C.E.O.s to move to other companies when in fact a C.E.O. who manages one company well is unlikely to be successful in another.  Therefore, a company looking for a C.E.O. cannot actually consider all C.E.O.s as potential candidates. Benchmarking, then, is little more than a way to inflate executive salaries by comparing jobs in markets that are essentially incomparable.

The psychology of the powerful — BBC

At a Royal Society of Medicine conference this week, entitled The Intoxication Of Power, Prof Claxton says that human intelligence is made up of four different mental systems working in harmony.

When one of these systems is not used, the decision-making process can become unreliable and potentially dangerous.

Instead of analysing actions, checking through the consequences of those actions and chatting through the decisions made, leaders too often rely on impulsive decision-making – and this is when hubris can set in.

“None of these systems is infallible. You need a jazz quartet of them to achieve full human intelligence,” Prof Claxton says.

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