Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who Is Governing Whom? Senior Managers, Governance and the Structure of Generosity in Large U.S. Firms

Published: July 29, 2011 Paper Released: May 2011 Authors: Christopher Marquis and Matthew Lee Executive Summary: Analyzing several Fortune 500 firms over the period of 10 years, Christopher Marquis and Matthew Lee discuss the factors that influence corporate philanthropy, using the subject to theorize about and test how structural features of organizations help senior leaders to shape firm strategy. Key concepts include: Many practitioners today view corporate philanthropy as a strategic activity that addresses both social and economic goals. Corporate philanthropy is highest in corporations with new CEOs, and decreases with the length of CEO tenure. The greater the proportion of female senior managers in a company, the greater the corporate philanthropic contributions will be. Companies with larger boards tend to have higher philanthropic contributions. Christopher Marquis is an associate professor in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School. Abstract We examine how organizational structure influences strategies over which corporate leaders have significant discretion. Corporate philanthropy is our setting to study how a differentiated structural element, the corporate foundation, constrains the influence of individual senior managers and directors on corporate strategy. Our analysis of Fortune 500 firms from 1996 to 2006 shows that leader characteristics at both the senior management and director levels affect corporate philanthropic contributions. We also find that organizational structure constrains the philanthropic influence of board members, but not senior managers, a result that is contrary to what existing theory would predict. We discuss how these findings advance understanding of how organizational structure and corporate leadership interact, and how organizations can more effectively realize the strategic value of corporate social responsibility activities. Paper Information

Creating a Positive Professional Image

Q&A with: Laura Morgan Roberts Published: June 20, 2005 Author: Mallory Stark Executive Summary: In today’s diverse workplace, your actions and motives are constantly under scrutiny. Time to manage your own professional image before others do it for you. An interview with professor Laura Morgan Roberts. As HBS (Harvard Business School) professor Laura Morgan Roberts sees it, if you aren't managing your own professional image, others are. "People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace," she says. "It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish." There are plenty of books telling you how to "dress for success" and control your body language. But keeping on top of your personal traits is only part of the story of managing your professional image, says Roberts. You also belong to a social identity group—African American male, working mother—that brings its own stereotyping from the people you work with, especially in today's diverse workplaces. You can put on a suit and cut your hair to improve your appearance, but how do you manage something like skin color? Roberts will present her research, called "Changing Faces: Professional Image Construction in Diverse Organizational Settings," in the October issue of the Academy of Management Review. She discusses her research in this interview. Mallory Stark: What is a professional image? Laura Morgan Roberts: Your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates, colleagues). Q: What is the difference between "desired professional image" and "perceived professional image?" A: It is important to distinguish between the image you want others to have of you and the image that you think people currently have of you. Most people want to be described as technically competent, socially skilled, of strong character and integrity, and committed to your work, your team, and your company. Research shows that the most favorably regarded traits are trustworthiness, caring, humility, and capability. Ask yourself the question: What do I want my key constituents to say about me when I'm not in the room? This description is your desired professional image. Likewise, you might ask yourself the question: What am I concerned that my key constituents might say about me when I'm not in the room? The answer to this question represents your undesired professional image. You can never know exactly what all of your key constituents think about you, or how they would describe you when you aren't in the room. You can, however, draw inferences about your current professional image based on your interactions with key constituents. People often give you direct feedback about your persona that tells you what they think about your level of competence, character, and commitment. Other times, you may receive indirect signals about your image, through job assignments or referrals and recommendations. Taken together, these direct and indirect signals shape your perceived professional image, your best guess of how you think your key constituents perceive you. Q: How do stereotypes affect perceived professional image? A: In the increasingly diverse, twenty-first century workplace, people face a number of complex challenges to creating a positive professional image. They often experience a significant incongruence between their desired professional image and their perceived professional image. In short, they are not perceived in the manner they desire; instead, their undesired professional image may be more closely aligned with how their key constituents actually perceive them. What lies at the source of this incongruence? Three types of identity threats—predicaments, devaluation, and illegitimacy—compromise key constituents' perceptions of technical competence, social competence, character, and commitment. All professionals will experience a "predicament" or event that reflects poorly on their competence, character, or commitment at some point in time, due to mistakes they have made in the past that have become public knowledge, or competency gaps (e.g., shortcomings or limitations in skill set or style). Members of negatively stereotyped identity groups may experience an additional form of identity threat known as "devaluation." Identity devaluation occurs when negative attributions about your social identity group(s) undermine key constituents' perceptions of your competence, character, or commitment. For example, African American men are stereotyped as being less intelligent and more likely to engage in criminal behavior than Caucasian men. Asian Americans are stereotyped as technically competent, but lacking in the social skills required to lead effectively. Working mothers are stereotyped as being less committed to their profession and less loyal to their employing organizations. All of these stereotypes pose obstacles for creating a positive professional image. Even positive stereotypes can pose a challenge for creating a positive professional image if someone is perceived as being unable to live up to favorable expectations of their social identity group(s). For example, clients may question the qualifications of a freshly minted MBA who is representing a prominent strategic consulting firm. Similarly, female medical students and residents are often mistaken for nurses or orderlies and challenged by patients who do not believe they are legitimate physicians. Q: What is impression management and what are its potential benefits? A: Despite the added complexity of managing stereotypes while also demonstrating competence, character, and commitment, there is promising news for creating your professional image! Impression management strategies enable you to explain predicaments, counter devaluation, and demonstrate legitimacy. People manage impressions through their non-verbal behavior (appearance, demeanor), verbal cues (vocal pitch, tone, and rate of speech, grammar and diction, disclosures), and demonstrative acts (citizenship, job performance). My research suggests that, in addition to using these traditional impression management strategies, people also use social identity-based impression management (SIM) to create a positive professional image. SIM refers to the process of strategically presenting yourself in a manner that communicates the meaning and significance you associate with your social identities. There are two overarching SIM strategies: positive distinctiveness and social recategorization. Positive distinctiveness means using verbal and non-verbal cues to claim aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially valued, in an attempt to create a new, more positive meaning for that identity. Positive distinctiveness usually involves attempts to educate others about the positive qualities of your identity group, advocate on behalf of members of your identity group, and incorporate your background and identity-related experiences into your workplace interactions and innovation. Social recategorization means using verbal and non-verbal cues to suppress other aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially devalued, in an attempt to distance yourself from negative stereotypes associated with that group. Social recategorization involves minimization and avoidance strategies, such as physically and mentally conforming to the dominant workplace culture while being careful not to draw attention to identity group differences and one's unique cultural background. Rather than adopting one strategy wholesale, most people use a variety of strategies for managing impressions of their social identities. In some situations, they choose to draw attention to a social identity, if they think it will benefit them personally or professionally. Even members of devalued social identity groups, such as African American professionals, will draw attention to their race if it creates mutual understanding with colleagues, generates high-quality connections with clients, or enhances their experience of authenticity and fulfillment in their work. In other situations, these same individuals may choose to minimize their race in order to draw attention to an alternate identity, such as gender, profession, or religion, if they feel their race inhibits their ability to connect with colleagues or clients. Successful impression management can generate a number of important personal and organizational benefits, including career advancement, client satisfaction, better work relationships (trust, intimacy, avoiding offense), group cohesiveness, a more pleasant organizational climate, and a more fulfilling work experience. However, when unsuccessfully employed, impression management attempts can lead to feelings of deception, delusion, preoccupation, distraction, futility, and manipulation. Q: How do authenticity and credibility influence the positive outcomes of impression management attempts? A: In order to create a positive professional image, impression management must effectively accomplish two tasks: build credibility and maintain authenticity. When you present yourself in a manner that is both true to self and valued and believed by others, impression management can yield a host of favorable outcomes for you, your team, and your organization. On the other hand, when you present yourself in an inauthentic and non-credible manner, you are likely to undermine your health, relationships, and performance. Most people use a variety of strategies for managing impressions of their social identities. Most often, people attempt to build credibility and maintain authenticity simultaneously, but they must negotiate the tension that can arise between the two. Your "true self," or authentic self-portrayal, will not always be consistent with your key constituents' expectations for professional competence and character. Building credibility can involve being who others want you to be, gaining social approval and professional benefits, and leveraging your strengths. If you suppress or contradict your personal values or identity characteristics for the sake of meeting societal expectations for professionalism, you might receive certain professional benefits, but you might compromise other psychological, relational, and organizational outcomes. Q: What are the steps individuals should take to manage their professional image? A: First, you must realize that if you aren't managing your own professional image, someone else is. People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace. It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish. Be the author of your own identity. Take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your image: Identify your ideal state. What are the core competencies and character traits you want people to associate with you? Which of your social identities do you want to emphasize and incorporate into your workplace interactions, and which would you rather minimize? Assess your current image, culture, and audience. What are the expectations for professionalism? How do others currently perceive you? Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for image change. Do you care about others' perceptions of you? Are you capable of changing your image? Are the benefits worth the costs? (Cognitive, psychological, emotional, physical effort) Use strategic self-presentation to manage impressions and change your image. Employ appropriate traditional and social identity-based impression management strategies. Pay attention to the balancing act—build credibility while maintaining authenticity. Manage the effort you invest in the process. Monitoring others' perceptions of you Monitoring your own behavior Strategic self-disclosure Preoccupation with proving worth and legitimacy About the author Mallory Stark is a career information librarian at Baker Library.

The Ultimate Question in Management

November 3, 2011 Author: James Heskett Executive Summary: Forum Open: Is there one key to management success, an ultimate question that needs to be answered? Jim Heskett has a nominee. What's yours? James Heskett is a Baker Foundation Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School. The publication this month of The Ultimate Question 2.0 (revised from an earlier edition) provides us with an opportunity to ask ourselves just what is the ultimate question in management. In their book, Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey remind us of the simplicity of the Net Promoter Score (NPS). It's the product of answers to one question, "How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend?" The NPS has become so popular that, as a customer, you quite likely have been asked that question in the past couple of months. Those replying with a 9 or 10 (the most positive) on an 11-point scale (0 to 10) are "promoters"; a 7 or 8 labels you as a "passive"; and anything from a 0 to a 6 makes you a "detractor." Subtract the proportion of detractors from the proportion of promoters and you get a "net promoter score" that can range anywhere from +100 to -100. And that's it. Tracking the net promoter score, according to the authors, can lead to improvements in both management and performance. As managers and students of management, we have a tendency to want to simplify things. Evidence of this is the plethora of management books with single word titles such as Accountability, Transparency, and Teamwork. We search for the one key to management success. Based on recent research, I have my own candidate for that "one key thing:" trust. (There's precious little trust in government, Wall Street, and business in general these days.) I found a strong correlation between trust, loyalty, engagement, and "ownership" among employees in a sample of organizations I examined. Respondents in the study made a convincing case that trust was absolutely essential to the successful implementation of policies and practices necessary to implement any strategy. For example, several managers testified to the importance of the relationship between trust and the ability to achieve speed in getting things done. It's a topic that Stephen M. R. Covey wrote persuasively about several years ago in his book, The Speed of Trust. So for me one candidate "ultimate question" would be "Do you trust your manager?" or "Do you trust your organization?" My study led to an exploration of the underpinnings of trust, as suggested by related survey data. One major determinant is whether a manager or the organization does what it says it will do, whether it lives up to "the deal" on things important to an employee, whether it meets that employee's expectations. So another "ultimate question" might well be "Does your manager do what she says she will do?" or "Does your organization do what it says it will do?" What is the ultimate question in management? Or do you object to playing this game?--The Net Promoter Score certainly has its detractors. All of these are efforts to provide simple guideposts in a very complex process. Performance measurement can be a confusing process, leading to inaction or, worse yet, inappropriate action. Can an "ultimate question" have a useful management function? If so, what's yours? What do you think? To read more: Stephen M. R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (New York: Free Press, 2006). Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey, The Ultimate Question 2.0 (Revised and Expanded Edition): How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer- Driven World (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2011). Jim Heskett's latest book,The Culture Cycle, was published in September.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Most Powerful Workplace Motivator

The Most Powerful Workplace Motivator October 31, 2011 Author: Carmen Nobel Executive Summary: When evaluating compensation issues, economists often assume that both an employer and an employee make rational, albeit self-interested choices while working toward a goal. The problem, says Assistant Professor Ian Larkin, is that the most powerful workplace motivator is our natural tendency to measure our own performance against the performance of others. Key concepts include: The most powerful workplace motivator is our natural tendency to measure our own performance against the performance of others. Salespeople will actually give up the chance to make extra money if doing so will garner positive recognition from their peers. In the age of social networking, employees are more likely than ever to share salary information with each other. Employers need to keep this fact in mind when designing compensation plans. HBS Faculty Member Ian I. Larkin is an assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations and Markets unit at Harvard Business School. Any parent can tell you that a surefire way to turn joy into rage is to offer your child a big candy bar—and then turn around and offer an even bigger one to his sister. Suddenly, a special treat turns into a great injustice. "Hey! How come she got more? That's not fair!" And any hiring manager can tell you that the world of business is not so different. "It really was all about the recognition of and comparison with their peers, and many of them were willing to pay for it." "This is why MBA programs send out lists of average salaries, and why students spend hours poring over those lists," says Ian Larkin, an assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. "You should see the angry e-mails I get from students when they find out that a job offer turns out to be $10,000 per year below the average. It's not that they really feel like an annual salary offer of $115,000 is unfair on its own. They might be perfectly happy with that salary if it weren't for the information that it's below average." And it's not just a matter of money. In several studies of social comparison in the workplace, Larkin has found that the most powerful workplace motivator is our natural tendency to measure our own performance against the performance of others. "Traditionally, [the field of] economics has held a very rational view of people, and there's a gigantic amount of literature focusing on financial incentives and the idea that simply having financial incentives causes people to work harder," he says. "But my research suggests that in deciding how hard we work and how well we think we're performing, social comparisons matter just as much." The $30,000 gold star The power of social comparison can lead to irrational financial decisions, according to Larkin's 2009 paper "Paying $30,000 for a Gold Star: An Empirical Investigation into the Value of Peer Recognition to Software Salespeople." The paper describes a field study at a large enterprise software firm, where salespeople's salaries are largely based on commissions. The firm also features another common sales incentive--a "president's club" membership for those employees who sell more software than 90 percent of their peers in a given year. The software firm uses a "commission accelerator" program over the course of each financial quarter, meaning that a salesperson expecting a high-volume sale at the beginning of a quarter would receive a higher commission on any additional sales in the same quarter. A salesperson expecting a large sale early in the first quarter of the year would rationally want to delay any other potential sales until later in that quarter, so as to take advantage of the accelerating commission schedule. However, making the sale right away, before the end of the year, could help the salesperson achieve special recognition as a member of the club. Thus, the salesperson faces a choice: delay the sale and garner eventual commission boosts, or make the sale right away and improve the chance of attaining club membership. In the paper, Larkin uses actual choices of hundreds of salespeople facing this decision to statistically estimate the average salesperson's "willingness to pay" for club induction—the point at which a salesperson is indifferent to waiting for greater commissions and closing the deal now and getting inducted into the club. The willingness-to-pay statistic at the software firm is calculated to be nearly $30,000, or approximately 5 percent of take-home pay. "My research shows that salespeople who are right on the margin of club induction are actually willing to pay to get over the margin and into the club," Larkin says. Importantly, Larkin observed that there were no apparent financial benefits to attaining club membership. Recipients received a gold star on their name card, companywide recognition, an e-mail from the CEO, and a weekend trip to a tropical destination with the other club members. (Granted, the trip was worth several hundred dollars, but was far less financially valuable than a large commission.) Club members "were not more likely to be promoted, leave for a better job, or make higher commissions in the future," Larkin says. "It really was all about the recognition of and comparison with their peers, and many of them were willing to pay for it." Insecurity leads to dishonesty Social comparison also can lead to insecurity-driven cheating, as Larkin details in a 2009 paper co-written with HBS colleague Benjamin Edelman, Demographics, Career Concerns or Social Comparison: Who Games SSRN Download Counts? The paper addresses an issue near and dear to academics worldwide: the relative popularity of working papers in the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) repository. The SSRN is a huge academic paper repository, with more than 100,000 authors and 500,000 registered users who have the opportunity to view or download every paper on the site. For each paper, SSRN creates a web page that includes statistics on how many times the paper has been downloaded and viewed. The SSRN site also publishes various "top 10" lists in numerous fields, ranked according to how many times the paper has been viewed, downloaded, or cited elsewhere on SSRN. Some scholars paid a lot of attention to the reported download counts of their papers; Larkin reports that one prominent legal academic described the monitoring of his own paper's download counts as "like crack for me." Historically, SSRN allowed unlimited downloads of papers, and most of those downloads were reflected in the reported download count on each paper's web page. It became apparent that many authors were gaming the download count system by repeatedly downloading their own papers, so that others would see the high download count and assume that these particular papers were very popular. SSRN maintains detailed historical records of every paper download and is able to determine when papers appear to be downloaded over and over by the same person. "It's like having a convenience store that's not manned, and everyone who comes in can either steal or pay, but there's a video camera that nobody knows about, and it's tracking everyone's every move," Larkin says. "For years, some academics got away with inflating their own download count numbers, but we were able to see exactly who was doing this, and in what circumstances." In their research, Larkin and Edelman teamed up with the SSRN and set out to determine the factors that would make academics inflate the download counts of their own papers. "As economists, we thought, hmmm, it's probably people who are up for tenure soon, or maybe it's the people who just graduated, and they want to get their name out there," Larkin says. "We were thinking very much along the traditional economic model--people doing things for rational, career-promoting reasons." Larkin shared these hypotheses with HBS colleague and mentor Max Bazerman, a leading ethics scholar, who had a different theory. "Max told me, 'I'll bet people are doing this because they feel bad that their papers aren't being downloaded as much as their colleagues' papers,' " Larkin says. "So we looked at that." It turned out Bazerman was right. The researchers found that authors were more likely to download their own papers repeatedly when a colleague's paper was performing especially well on the site, or when a very similar paper to an author's was newly released and received significant downloads. Deceptive downloads also increased during times when a paper was close to gaining (or losing) placement on a top 10 list. (Ironically, one of the most downloaded SSRN papers of all time is 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy.) "Again, what was surprising to us was how little we found in terms of the economic reasons for doing this," Larkin says. "By far, the biggest predictor of this behavior was fear of being socially inferior to one's peers." (Those tempted to boost a paper's usage stats should note that SSRN's terms of service now state that the attempted manipulation of download counts is against site rules, and that the organization retains the right to ban anyone caught abusing the system.) Ramifications for salary managers The field evidence from the worlds of software sales and academia indicates that companies need to bear social comparison in mind when designing compensation plans. Larkin discusses the issue in The Psychological Costs of Pay-for-Performance: Implications for the Strategic Compensation of Employees, a paper he cowrote with HBS colleague Francesca Gino and Washington University's Lamar Pierce. The authors argue that paying each employee solely according to his or her performance is actually an inefficient strategy; it can lead to resentment or even sabotage on the part of employees who believe they are underpaid compared with their colleagues. Thus, a standardized salary scale, combined with ancillary incentive programs, may be the best way to motivate employees. "When deciding how much effort to exude, workers not only respond to their own compensation, but also respond to pay relative to their peers as they socially compare," the paper states. That's important food for thought, considering that Facebook, LinkedIn, and other such sites have made it de rigueur to share information that we used to keep to ourselves. "It used to be that our salaries were very secret, but they're getting less and less secret because of social networking," Larkin says. "And people get upset quickly when they realize that there are large variances in how much other people are paid. Companies need to realize that with the overflow of information these days, paying peers differently is going to affect not only how those people feel but how their colleagues feel as well." About the author Carmen Nobel is senior editor of HBS Working Knowledge.

Horrible Boss Workarounds

October 27, 2011 Author: Carmen Nobel Executive Summary: Bad bosses are generally more inept than evil, and often aren't purposefully bad, says Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She discusses common bad-boss behaviors, and how good colleagues can mobilize to overcome the roadblocks. Key concepts include: Common traits of bad bosses include a failure to communicate goals effectively, if at all; a failure to realize that employees have more to offer than their job descriptions dictate, and a tendency to get caught up in the details to the detriment of the big picture. Employees can work around bad-boss roadblocks by proactively mobilizing their peers toward a common goal. About Faculty in this Article: HBS Faculty Member Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. On film, few characters are more obviously villainous than the extremely bad boss. There's Star Wars' Darth Vader (who manages a disrespectful underling by strangling him with his mind), Katharine Parker in Working Girl (who shamelessly steals ideas from the movie's hero), John Milton in The Devil's Advocate (who is literally the devil incarnate), the eponymous villains in the recent hit Horrible Bosses (whose infractions include cocaine abuse and sexual harassment) …the list goes on and on. Reality is more nebulous, of course. Bad bosses are generally more inept than they are evil, and often aren't purposefully bad, says Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who has authored several business management books, including Confidence: How Winning and Losing Streaks Begin and End and SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good "What's horrible is often in the eye of the beholder," she says. "There are many people who complain about their bosses without taking a look at themselves, and vice versa." Kanter recently sat down with HBS Working Knowledge to discuss some of the factors that create bad bosses—and what employees can do to resist them. As she states in a recent column in Harvard Business Review, "The best cure for horrible bosses is wonderful colleagues." Bad boss behavior #1: failure to communicate. At any level of management, it's important that bosses effectively communicate company or team goals from the get-go. "Empowerment can happen only when there's a consensus on goals and an agreement that certain standards have to be met," Kanter says. "If there isn't agreement in the beginning, that's when certain situations start to unravel." But problems arise when bosses fail to realize that they're not communicating clearly. Kanter cites an old joke as an example: A man drives to a gas station to fill up his tank, and the attendant can't help noticing that there's a penguin in the backseat of the car. "Yes," the man says. "I found him there this morning, and I don't know what to do with him." The attendant suggests that the man take the penguin to the zoo right away, and the man agrees that this is an excellent idea. But the next day, when the man returns to the same gas station, the clerk notices that the penguin is still in the backseat of the car—only this time it's wearing sunglasses. "Hey," the clerk says. "I thought I told you to take the penguin to the zoo." The man nods and says, "I did take him to the zoo. He had such a great time that I decided to take him to the beach, too!" Miscommunication often leads to situations in which bosses throw up their hands in frustration, believing that their employees are incapable of delivering good ideas, when in fact the problem is that the employees just aren't clear on the mission. "Sometimes [bosses] have it in their head that they know what they're driving at, but they don't always bother to tell everyone what's in their head, and if they do, the translation is not always clear," Kanter says. "So CEOs make speeches all the time and think everyone is interpreting their words in the exact same way, and they're not. And they're surprised later to find out that what they thought was going to happen didn't exactly happen. Constant, consistent communication is important." Bad boss behavior #2: pigeonholing. Another common bad-boss trait is the inability to accept the idea that employees' skills and talents probably exceed their job descriptions. Not only is this attitude demoralizing for employees, but it discourages collaboration and idea sharing as well. For example, "there was one CEO of a company in the IT industry who kept everyone on his executive team confined to narrow little boxes," Kanter says. "One member of the team had actually built several successful IT companies and so knew a lot about marketing. But because he had been hired for a technology job, the CEO would listen to him only on technology matters." Bad boss behavior #3: inability to zoom in and out. Kanter also stresses the importance of zooming—the ability to view the world through an adjustable lens as the situation demands, examining particular details in certain situations and maintaining a broad view of the mission in others. Talented bosses know how and when to adjust their lenses. But for those who can't or won't adjust, staying stuck on zoomed out is the lesser of two evils, Kanter says. "If I had to choose between getting too close to the details or getting too far out and losing the situation in the clouds, I would always go for zooming out," Kanter says. "If employees are forced to stay too focused on the details, without thorough preparation, without clear goals, without a larger vision, without a sense of purpose, then they are left to be dependent on the daily moods or whims of a boss. Bosses who spend too much time zooming in on the details are more likely to lose sight of the big picture and the goals." In those cases, Kanter says, it's up to the employees to keep each other on track. Working around a bad-boss roadblock In situations where the boss is obviously impeding progress or morale, Kanter recommends that employees try to mobilize their peers to create a course of action. She acknowledges that this is easier said than done, especially when a bad boss has created a culture of fear. But teaming up to effect change need not require a palace coup. "If you test the waters in very small and diplomatic ways, you're more likely to get a hearing at higher levels when you come with a constructive solution—not one that is a demand, but rather one that has alternatives and options associated with it," she says. "Self-organizing is the new mode for getting things done in companies. Yes, you have a set area of responsibility in your job, but you also have the ability to see an issue or a problem, to find a few other people who see the issue or problem, and to try to find a constructive solution. If you start small, then you can overcome the courage gap. People are timid and scared that people are too set in their ways. But in fact the boss may not be sure what the solution should be and is just waiting for someone to come forward." In her classes, Kanter teaches the case of the upscale cookware retailer Williams-Sonoma, where the CEO repeatedly eschewed the idea of online sales. He wasn't a terrible boss, but he didn't use computers himself and didn't see the value in the strategy. So a group of self-starters went ahead and designed a small, low-risk e-commerce pilot anyway. It tested well, the CEO was at last impressed, and the project moved forward. "Williams-Sonoma ended up with one of the best e-commerce sites on the web in the early years of e-commerce," she says. "And it was a small group of believers that made that happen." Ideally, of course, collaboration is borne of shared excitement over a shared goal rather than shared frustration over a lousy boss. Kanter notes that many well-meaning companies attempt to encourage collaboration by assembling groups of employees with shared traits rather than shared goals. "I've seen a lot of people try to form networks in companies: Let's get all the women together, let's get all the working parents together, let's get all the Asian Americans together. That's usually good for one or two lunches if there's no agenda. The secret of collaboration is that you have a task that you care about together." Carmen Nobel is senior editor of HBS Working Knowledge.

Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World

Discipleship John Stott: Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World How we can be salt and light. John R. W. Stott | posted 10/20/2011 10:15AM Alienation was originally a Marxist word, and Karl Marx meant by it the alienation of the worker from the product of his labors. When what he produces is sold by the factory owner, he is alienated from the fruits of his work. But nowadays the word alienation has a much broader meaning of powerlessness. Whenever you feel politically or economically powerless, you are feeling alienated. Jimmy Reid, the well-known Marxist counselor in Glasgow and leader of the Clydeside Ship Workers, when he was rector of Glasgow University, said, "Alienation is the cry of men who feel themselves to be the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. Alienation is the frustration of ordinary people who are excluded from the processes of decision-making." Have we any influence? Have we any power? That's the question. The word influence can sometimes be used for a self-centered thirst for power, like in Dale Carnegie's famous book How to Make Friends and Influence People. But it can also be used in an unselfish way of the desire of Christians who refuse to acquiesce to the status quo, who are determined to see things changed in society and long to have some influence for Jesus Christ. Are we powerless? Is the quest for social change hopeless before we begin? Or can Christians exert some influence for Jesus Christ? There is a great deal of pessimism around today that grips and even paralyzes people. They wring their hands in a holy kind of dismay. Society is rotten to the core, they say. Everything is hopeless; there is no hope but the return of Jesus Christ. As Edward Norman, dean of Peter-house in Cambridge, once said in a radio interview, "People are rubbish." People are not rubbish. People are made in the image of God. Indeed they are fallen, but the image of God has not been destroyed. Are they capable of doing no good? But people are not rubbish. People are men and women made in the image of God. Indeed they are fallen, but the image of God has not been destroyed. Are they capable of doing no good? The doctrine of total depravity, which means that every part of our human being has been tainted by the Fall, does not mean that we're incapable of doing any good. Jesus himself said that although you are evil, you are able to do good things and give good gifts to your children. Now, of course we believe in the Fall. We believe that when Christ comes again he is going to put things right. If you develop a Christian mind, you don't concentrate exclusively on the fall of man and the return of Christ. You also think about the creation and about the redemption through Jesus Christ. And we have to allow the creation to be, as it were, qualified by the Fall, and the Fall by the Redemption, and the Redemption by the Consummation. And the Christian mind thinks in terms of this total purpose of God, which includes the Creation, the Fall, the Redemption, and the Consummation. If we are pessimists and think we are capable of doing nothing in human society today, I venture to say that we are theologically extremely unbalanced, if not actually heretical and harmful. It's ludicrous to say Christians can have no influence in society. It's biblically and historically mistaken. Christianity has had an enormous influence on society down through its long and checkered history. Look at this conclusion of Kenneth Latourette in his seven-volume work on the history of the expansion of Christianity: No life ever lived on this planet has been so influential in the affairs of men like the life of Jesus Christ. From that brief life and its apparent frustration has flowed a more powerful force for the triumphant waging of man's long battle than any other ever known by the human race. By it millions have been lifted from illiteracy and ignorance and have been placed upon the road of growing intellectual freedom and control over the physical environment. It has done more to allay the physical ills of disease and famine than any other impulse known to man. It's emancipated millions from chattel slavery and millions of others from addiction to vice. It has protected tens of millions in exploitation by their fellows. It's been the most fruitful source of movement to lessen the horrors of war and to put the relations of men and nations on the basis of justice and of peace. rest of article go to

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Should the Screening Age for Colorectal Cancer Be Lowered?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD Posted: 10/21/2011 Is It Time to Lower the Recommended Screening Age for Colorectal Cancer? Davis DM, Marcet JE, Frattini JC, Prather AD, Mateka JJ, Nfonsam VN J Am Coll Surg. 2011;213:352-361 Summary The authors used cancer incidence data from the SEER database to analyze age-specific changes in the incidence of colorectal cancer in the United States. A marked increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer was found in the 40- to 44-year age group. In 1987, the incidence was 10.7 per 100,000; in 2006, the incidence had climbed to 17.9 per 100,000, an increase of 67%. The increase was even more pronounced for rectal cancer, amounting to over 3% per year. However, incidence rates for colorectal cancer in the > 50 age group decreased. Viewpoint The currently accepted screening age for colorectal cancer is 50 years. The authors of this report suggested that lowering the screening age may be appropriate on the basis of data that showed a significant increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer in younger individuals, especially in the rectum. Although sigmoidoscopy would be adequate for detecting rectal tumors, many tumors in the colon would escape detection. The authors pointed out that the incidence of colorectal cancer in younger individuals resembles the incidence rate of similarly aged patients with cervical cancer -- a group that is routinely screened. Estimates of the cost of lowering the screening age were not included and still need to be obtained.

Consistent Exercise Linked to Lower Risk for Death From Colon Cancer

From Medscape Medical News > Oncology Fran Lowry January 7, 2011 — Add another study to the body of literature that says exercise is good for you, especially with regard to modifying cancer risk and outcomes. The latest research, carried out by at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, shows that regular long-term physical activity is associated with a lower risk for colon cancer mortality. The study appears in the December issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. "This study is among the first to show that physical activity can make the disease less deadly," lead author Kathleen Y. Wolin, ScD, told Medscape Medical News. "It supports an existing body of research that suggests that physically active lifestyles have a host of benefits, both for cancer prevention and cancer-related death." However, an expert not involved in this research who was approached for comment said the study was negative, because it fails to show that exercise reduces the risk of getting colon cancer. Previous Studies There is already a body of literature showing the benefits of exercise on both physical and mental well-being, including several studies showing a reduction in the risk for cancer, as reported recently by Medscape Medical News. In November 2010, it was reported that women who exercised for at least 150 minutes a week might have a reduced risk for endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancer. In addition, new guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine highlighted the benefits to cancer patients of exercise training both during and after cancer treatments to improve physical functioning, quality of life, and cancer-related fatigue. Effect on Colon Cancer In the latest study, Dr. Wolin and her colleagues sought to examine whether changes in physical activity alter the risk for colon cancer incidence and mortality. "We know people will be active when they are younger, but then work or family obligations get in the way, and they tend to become less active. Others may not have been that active in young adulthood, but then in their 30s or 40s, when the pounds start creeping on, or when they start to be more concerned about their health and wanting to live longer, they become physically active," Dr. Wolin explained. "In this study, we were able to look at people's behaviors at multiple time points." The researchers used data from the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) Nutrition Cohort to look at whether changes in physical activity influenced either the incidence of colon cancer diagnosis or the risk for death from the disease. CPS-II comprised more than 150,000 men and women. To determine how exercise affected colon cancer, the researchers compared levels of physical activity between 1982 and 1997, and linked those activity levels to the number of colon cancer diagnoses between 1998 and 2005 and to the number of colon cancer deaths that occurred between 1998 and 2006. Physical activity included walking, jogging/running, lap swimming, tennis, racquetball, bicycling, stationary biking, aerobics/calisthenics, and dancing. The study found that people who were consistently active for at least 10 years had a significantly lower risk of dying from their colon cancer than those who were consistently inactive (multivariable hazard ratio, 0.45; 95% confidence interval, 0.34 to 0.59). This held after adjustment for body mass index. People who were consistently active over 15 years had half the risk for colon cancer death as those who were more sedentary. However, being physically active did not appear to reduce their risk of getting colon cancer, Dr. Wolin said. "Regular long-term physical activity was associated with a lower risk of colon cancer mortality," she said. "People often wonder around the start of a new year whether exercise really will help them stay healthy or whether it's already too late. It's never too late to start exercising, but it's also never too early to start being active. That's the message we hope people will take away from this study." A Negative Study That Fails to Show That Exercise Reduces Risk Asked to comment on this study for Medscape Medical News, Susan G. Fisher, MS, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester in New York, said that it was well done, but because the data were not collected prospectively, it has limitations. "It's a negative study. It fails to show that increasing physical activity over a 10- to 15-year period reduces an individual's risk of developing colon cancer," she said. "While this study does suggest that individuals who consistently participate in vigorous regular exercise throughout adulthood are less likely to die from colon cancer, the risk of developing colon cancer does not appear to be reduced," she said. Because these results are extracted from data that were previously collected, there are potential limitations in the methods used to measure the amount of physical exercise over a 10- to 15-year period, Dr. Fisher added. "These measurement difficulties may alter the study results. For instance, if I exercised 3 or 4 times a week and developed colon cancer, it's not unreasonable to think I would begin to have some symptoms, some indigestion or maybe fatigue, even before my diagnosis, and I would end up decreasing my exercise program. So people may be decreasing their exercise because they're feeling sick; I don't think they controlled for that perfectly," she said. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010;19:3000-3004. Abstract