The secret of great learners: Focus on the process, not the outcome

The history of orthopaedic surgery offers some surprising lessons for self-improvement.

Learning is so vital today that we can think of ourselves as living in a learning economy. We can’t just be knowledge workers; we must also be learning workers. In the words of Jeffrey Immelt, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, ‘You never hire somebody, no matter what job you’re hiring for, for what they know. You’re hiring them for how fast you think they can learn.’

But we’re bad at learning. Supremely bad. In fact, we’re our own worst enemies. Instead of doing the things that will help us learn, we often do just the opposite. One of the most common mistakes is obsessing about outcomes while neglecting to examine carefully the process through which we achieve them.

I have three sons who, at least for the moment, all love baseball (as does their father). I have the good fortune to help coach each of their baseball teams, although soon their skills and knowledge will surpass mine. Recently my eldest son came to the plate with the bases loaded against a hard-throwing but wild pitcher. Most of the team was either striking out or walking. He ripped a pitch, but unfortunately it went straight to the shortstop, who fielded it on one hop and, given how hard it was hit, easily turned a double play from second base to first base.

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How GKN’s boardroom woes left it vulnerable to attack

They call it the corporate jungle, and not without reason. Life at the top of UK plc can be red in tooth and claw, and any sign of weakness or vacillation may be pounced upon by investors hungry for a more substantial financial meal.

Such is the case with the recent £7bn cash and shares bid made by turnaround specialist Melrose for troubled FTSE 100 engineer GKN. After being rejected out of hand as ‘entirely opportunistic’ by the GKN board, Melrose then turned hostile, upping the bid to £7.4bn, an increase largely attributable to the rise in Melrose’s share price after making the first bid. That, plus the fact that GKN’s shares have now hit an all-time high of 442p, is a pretty unambiguous sign that the market is up for the deal and that GKN now has a real fight on its hands.

Melrose wasn’t likely to retire without a fight, especially after it received the blessing of US activist investor Vulcan Venture Partners, which holds around 4% of GKN’s shares. Vulcan’s boss CT Fitzpatrick stated in an email yesterday that he wanted GKN to open negotiations with Melrose.

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Carillion collapse puts thousands of suppliers and sub-contractors at risk

The collapse of construction giant Carillion could be highly damaging for thousands of small British firms, according to a number of leading industry organisations.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is one of a growing number of business groups to have called for payment protection for Carillion’s small suppliers and sub-contractors, of which there are thousands.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the electrotechnical and engineering services trade body, the ECA, are also among the organisations to have expressed concerns for Carillion sub-contractors in the wake of the company’s demise.

The UK’s second biggest construction firm was believed to have debts amounting to around £1.5bn when it went into liquidation in 15 January, owing roughly £800m in retention payments to small suppliers and sub-contractors.

Worries have arisen that much of this money may now be lost, putting the survival of many of Carillion’s sub-contractors at risk.

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Marketing attribution

70% of marketers can’t act on attribution insights

Almost three-quarters of marketers are struggling to use the insights they get from marketing attribution, according to research by AdRoll.

The firm’s study, The State of Marketing Attribution 2017, found the proportion of those who said they don’t action the insights they get from attribution was 70% during this year, up from 57% in 2016.

But the survey did find the percentage of businesses using attribution modelling on the majority or all of their campaigns has risen from 31% in 2016 to 39% today.

The research identified the primary barrier for businesses not carrying out marketing attribution was lack of knowledge, cited by 59%, and the limitations of technology, which was an issue for 53%.

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Do you know what sales really do with your leads?

Almost half of B2B marketers say their top challenge is making sure their sales teams follow-up and convert the leads they create.

In this exclusive research, carried out by B2B Marketing in association with Cyance, we reveal B2B marketers’ biggest hurdles and frustrations with the way sales deal with the leads they’re sent – and how to overcome them.

Download this free study to find out:

  • Why leads not being followed up promptly is the number one concern for B2B marketers
  • The reason why almost half of marketers still send leads straight to sales without scoring them
  • The average time it takes sales to follow up on qualified leads send by sales
  • How many organisations are still operating without definition of what makes a qualified lead
  • How predictive marketing can tackle many of the frustrations marketers have around lead management.

Find out more and download the report here.


Get a handle on delegation

‘It’ll take longer to explain to someone else how to do it, so I just do it myself.’ We’ve heard it many times, but in today’s collaborative business context, it’s not an approach that is generally productive

So says Denise Fryer, programme director for the Henley Business School Developing Management Practice (DMP) programme.

You need to consider whether you are doing your own job effectively, and why delegation is needed. But as well as maximising time efficiency, delegation can develop the skills of your team and its members, build morale, and ensure that the best person is being used for each task.

Self-awareness improves team capabilities

Understanding team members’ capabilities is key, but the process often needs to start closer to home, so part of our programme looks at your own individual styles, strengths and weaknesses, and understand where delegation would yield positive benefits.

We also consider reasons why you tend not to delegate, such as control freakery, lack of resource or time. Having confidence in the capability of every team member is essential, so the recruitment or development process has to be sound too.

Communication is key

Clearer planning and better communication will usually help overcome the panic to get things done quickly, so we look at a range of issues to help managers find positive solutions.

Expectations have to be realistic and all parties must be clear about what success will look like, and how and when progress will be reviewed.

When it’s used to best effect, delegation is a powerful tool for building performance across a team, so in such a competitive environment, neither you nor your organisation can afford to ignore it.

Find out more here.

Leadership development

Leadership development is stuck in the dark ages

Today’s bosses need better help to deal with new technologies, working practices and generational shift.

The modern workplace has become complex, volatile and unpredictable. The skills needed for great leadership have dramatically changed and include intelligent behaviours, adaptive thinking and emotional intelligence. However, the methods being used to develop our leaders have not really changed at all.

Bosses are facing increasing challenges – information overload, complex and competing objectives, new technologies that disrupt old work practices and the associated differing values and expectations of new generations entering the workplace. Not to mention increased globalisation and the need to lead and build effective teams across cultures.

Still primarily developed through on-the-job experiences, training, coaching and ‘360-degree’ feedback, our leaders are simply not developing fast enough or in the right ways to match the new environment. Supported by a growing belief among senior executives and up and coming talent that the leadership programs they are attending are insufficient, we need to completely redefine our approach to developing the leaders of tomorrow.

The renowned business thinker Marshall Goldsmith has commented, ‘Many of our leadership programs are based on the faulty assumption that if we show people what to do, they can automatically do it.’

However, there is a difference between knowing what “good” leadership looks like and being able to do it. We have arrived at a point where we face diminishing returns from teaching managers more about leadership, when they still have little understanding about what is required for real development to occur.

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