Drops from the Fire Hose – October 19, 2012

The Private Sector Needs to Come Clean About Doing Good — Harvard Business Review

This heritage was a nice-to-have for us, but it’s not a prerequisite. Any business can find a social purpose that can drive growth, and there are some lessons that we have learned that apply more broadly:

    • Right from the outset, align social mission activities with the business strategy, and be honest (‘painfully transparent’) about how the business will benefit. Ensure this is built into everything from marketing and communications to procurement and of course discussions around partnerships.
    • Build world-class expertise across multiple disciplines to deliver world-class intervention programs at scale. Apply common business sense, but don’t expect to drive intervention programs through business alone. To be cost-effective at scale, you need be innovative with the channels that you use and the partnerships that you create. Take note of what additional expertise and resources will be needed and then bring together the best skills you can find in both the business and social sectors. For example, engage with experts to build multidisciplinary skills across behavioral sciences to complement marketing expertise.
    • Secure support and endorsement from your parent company. Where possible, align with your umbrella company’s overarching sustainability and, even more importantly, business plan. This is the only way to ensure tangible commitment and long-term success.

3 Reasons “Balance” Has Become A Dirty Word At Work — Fast Company

Millennials are less likely to say that work+life fit is their top priority when compared to Gen-X and Baby Boomers. This is fascinating. The American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program recently partnered with Harris Interactive to conduct its Workforce Retention Survey. They found that:

  • The top reasons working Americans stay with their current employers are work-life fit and enjoying the work that they do. This was ahead of benefits, pay, and lack of other job opportunities.
  • But, when the responses were compared by age groups, “Employees 18-34 were least likely to say enjoying the work (58 percent), work-life fit (61 percent) and benefits (54 percent) keep them on the job, but most likely to endorse co-workers (57 percent) and managers (46 percent) as reasons to stay.”

That friend who says he works 75 hours a week? He’s probably only clocking 50 — Quartz

People are not very good at estimating how many hours they work, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF) in a study highlighted by Harvard Business Review. When asked how much work they do each week, Americans tend to report longer hours than when they keep a more accurate diary of their work, the BLS analysis found. For instance, a person who actually works 40 hours in a week will, on average, report working 43.

Not only that, but the more hours that people work, the more they exaggerate. Americans who say they work 75 hours a week tend to be exaggerating by 25 hours. (The average American work week in September was 34.5 hours, according to the BLS.)

It’s hard to say whether people are just bad at estimating their work weeks, are intentionally inflating their hours, or some combination of the two. The BLS suggests that at least one factor is the “social desirability” of work. People may overstate their working hours out of fear of being considered lazy, especially if they are part of a social class that puts a premium on people who work too much.

If You Want to Lead, Read These 10 Books — Harvard Business Review

Last week, John Coleman posted a list of recommended books, 11 Books Every Young Leader Should Read.

There were no books by women on the list.

While part of me cries “unfair” more than I would like it to, this is John’s list, and he gets to recommend as he chooses. What actually concerns me — and I hope you as well — is that in his canon of leadership books there are no women’s voices, at least not in the top 11 that he relies on and that inspire him to greatness. John’s picks, however, are not an anomaly among men, or even really among women. When I recently asked a group of successful professional women to list their favorite books about entrepreneurship, the list skewed largely male. Not too long ago, my list did too. And that is a problem. Unless of course, we believe women have nothing to offer as leaders.


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