This week the renewal notice came from Harvard Business Review (HBR). Why would a psychologist, coach, counselor or ministry leader subscribe to a business magazine? Because reading contemporary books and magazines is one way I keep up with changes in my field, in leadership and the world where we live. Some HBR articles bore or confuse me. But successful business people must stay abreast of trends in order to survive. I want to know what they are thinking.
An example is the November 2013 issue focused on making decisions. I read the articles on making tough calls, emotional agility, and on avoiding the echo chamber. This is when decisions are made in isolation or when decision makers are surrounded by like-minded people who echo what each other thinks. Much better is what the article calls social exploration in which ideas and perspectives are solicited from a network of sources. “Social explorers…form connections with many different kinds of people and gain exposure to a broad variety of thinking.” One research example concerns traders who had a balance and diversity of ideas in their networks. They had a 30% higher return on their investments. The conclusion: the best decisions rarely come from “deep pondering in isolation.” They happen when people learn from and draw on the diverse experiences and perspectives of others. Do you agree that the God who guides through Scripture also leads through communities?
Then there’s an article titled “Dismantling the Sales Machine.” Last week a friend described the attitudes in his work place. Sales reps are told what to do, required to read scripts to potential clients and monitored on how much they conform. This was big for many years but in an age of educated consumers, especially younger people, there is a much better response to reps who can use their personalities, judgment and creativity to engage callers and answer their questions. “Reps are most likely to succeed when they feel supported rather than directed.” My friend works for a college talking to potential students. When they are treated impersonally will they go elsewhere–where people on the phones are personally knowledgeable, warmer and more engaging?
Please leave a comment. Tell us how you keep up with trends.
Click on the comment button to see the magazines that I read regularly in order to keep in touch with change.