Peter Crosby

A simple test to tell if your HR department is needlessly wasting money.

Every year — often at the request of corporate HR managers —  an estimated 2 million people take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. It’s reported that 89 of the Fortune 100 still use it to determine the personality “types” of current and future employees so they can be assigned appropriate training and responsibilities.

Okay, so here’s the test: Are you giving your employees the Myers-Briggs test? If you answered Yes, then you’re wasting money. And here’s why.

When a scientific test isn’t exactly scientific.

Back in 1921, Carl Jung suggested that humans broke down into several distinct personality types (based on his own personal observations). But he never tested his theory in a controlled setting, and even admitted to the idea’s huge, inherent flaws.

Regardless, in 1942 his theory was adapted by Isabel Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs to create their now-famous test.

The basic idea is that knowing your personality type, and those of others, will help you interact more effectively with colleagues.

Unfortunately, while the two Americans were astute observers of human behavior, neither had any formal education in psychology. So no scientific rigor was ever applied to prove the test’s effectiveness.

Thousands of professional psychologists have evaluated the century-old Myers-Briggs, [and] found it to be inaccurate and arbitrary…

Not surprisingly, the test has since been widely discredited by the scientific community. (continued…)

Peter Crosby

Here’s why you should stop trying to predict the future of your business.

Joi Ito Who wouldn’t want to know what the future holds? Especially in business, where inventing the Next Big Thing could mean market-share domination for decades.

Yet predicting the future is all but impossible (unless the Next Big Thing you come up with is a time machine). Despite the best efforts of psychics, astrologers, and scientists, nothing has ever consistently worked — crystal balls and studying the past are no more effective than a blindfolded monkey throwing darts. In short, you have absolutely no hope of predicting the future.

On the bright side, neither does anyone else. In fact, when it comes to determining the future, it’s a pretty level playing field. Every company in the same boat regardless of size — larger companies have more resources but are slower, while smaller companies have fewer resources but are more nimble.

But, for all practical purposes, there’s really only one way to know for certain where the industry is headed.

Don’t try to predict the future, invent it yourself.

That’s right. Instead of waiting and reacting to competitors’ innovations, you have to disrupt your own industry yourself.

In this recent TED talk, Joi Ito, head of the MIT Media Lab, spoke about how the Internet has democratized innovation in every field. (continued…)

Peter Crosby

How to succeed in business without being an obnoxious blowhard.

Obnoxious Blowhard

A lot of business advice in recent years centered on people branding themselves to get ahead. The Internet, they argue, offers everyone the same opportunity to “promote themselves as well as celebrities and large corporations, even without a multi-million dollar marketing budget.

That’s all well and good, but what about those who’d rather do less branding and just do a good job instead? What if those people could get promotions and succeed in their career without having to toot their own horn 24/7?

A recent book from David Zweig suggests that it’s entirely possible. Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion profiles successful individuals who succeeded without always showing off.

They’re highly skilled individuals whose work is critical to whatever enterprise they’re a part of, but who generally go unnoticed…

Workers who operate “under the radar” and typically keep their heads down can be some of a company’s most critical employees.

Low profile doesn’t mean low importance.

neilpeart
It’s what I call “drummer syndrome.” Much like Zweig’s “Invisibles,” drummers have the critically important task of keeping the beat. And, barring the occasional Neil Peart solo, it’s a thankless job that people often forget about…well, at least until the drummer screws up.  (continued…)

Peter Crosby

5 common questions smart leaders should never have to ask.

Many times, the difference between good leadership and poor leadership is simply the quality and speed of information a leader has at hand. Bad information leads directly to bad leadership — misinformed people make incorrect choices and take ill-advised risks.

A poor leader could easily be a better leader if his/her information was better. So the key difference then is how a leader gets their information.

Are questions are the best way to get answers?

In a blog post entitled 5 Common Questions Leaders Should Never Ask, the author, Warren Berger, posits that what matters in leadership — even beyond the questions themselves — is how you ask the questions.

Questions can be great for engaging and motivating people, but they can just as easily be used to confront or blame, and can shift the mood from positive to negative.

He advises asking questions that focus on strengths rather than weaknesses, and on opportunities rather than failures. Instead of “What’s the problem?” a good leader should ask, “What are we doing well, and how might we build upon that?“

Instead of placing blame with “Whose fault is it?” ask “How can we work together to shore up any weaknesses?” Instead of trying to control employees with “Why didn’t you do it this way?” leaders could ask, “How were you thinking of doing it?” In place of “Haven’t we tried this already?” you could ask, “If we tried this now, what would be different this time — and how might that change the results?”

And finally, instead of demanding “Why haven’t YOU come up with something like [insert latest Apple product here]?” smart leaders should really ask, “How might we use our particular strengths to do an even better job of meeting customers’ needs?”

But what if you didn’t have to ask any questions at all? (continued…)

Peter Crosby

Four things every business must have to create a modern digital workspace.

Manager Working In The Office

Often lauded as the starting point of people’s day, typical corporate intranets have been perpetually disappointing, never really living up to businesses’ expectations. Newer social intranets — while somewhat better — are just as often homogeneous, monolithic software stacks locked into one vendor’s view of the world.

So how do companies provide the kind of modern workspace that will increase employee efficiency and productivity? The following are 4 minimum tenets of a modern, effective enterprise social networking platform:

1. An open, agnostic architecture.

Illustration Of A Manager Working In The OfficeEven in 2014, there are still companies pushing a “their way or the highway” business model. Yet companies need to think holistically about how to make an Enterprise Social Network a successful work tool. An ESN shouldn’t care where your data lives, so insisting on one particular development framework, or pushing cloud-only versus on-premises ignores all the nuances in between the two. And sure, open web standards and RESTful APIs go a long way towards making a single-vendor approach sound appealing, but the reality is, the APIs alone won’t work — companies also need a strong integration framework that can incorporate custom business processes.

2. A broad, business process platform.

To make your ESN a place where people get work done, it isn’t enough to pull events into a feed via a REST API or integrate over OpenSocial. (continued…)

Peter Crosby

The one thing America’s founding fathers valued that your business should, too.

Declaration of Independence

America is celebrating its 238th birthday this weekend, but it’s important to remember that we’re celebrating more than the country’s age.

After its “discovery” in 1492, the New World labored under the dominion and control of the time’s most powerful nations. And, for over 280 years, the early American colonists obeyed the laws of other countries. So when the Continental Congress finally declared independence from Great Britain on July 2nd, 1776it was kind of a big deal.

Don’t be a victim of vendor oppression.

Controlling your own destiny isn’t just good advice for people running a country, it’s good advice for people running a business, too.

The early settlers didn’t have a choice of whose rule they wanted to live under, they got what they got. (Had they been able to put out an “RFP” to, say, England, France and Spain, the colonists might’ve been able to strike a better deal from their future overlords.) Instead, they were at the mercy of the English monarchy who, predictably, began to abuse their monopoly control by illegally raising product prices and seriously neglecting their customer service.

Backed up against the wall, Americans had no choice but to literally blow up the whole vendor relationship and start over (see also, American Revolution). (continued…)

Peter Crosby

Do social networks just encourage people to brag about their accomplishments?

social network bragging

Do social networks encourage coworkers, friends, and family to brag about their accomplishments? While it’s probably true that social networks do encourage some bragging, I’d argue that “sharing positive news about yourself” isn’t limited to social networks.

Even without social networks, we’d still find some way to put our best foot forward — in conversation, email, TPS reports, and even on blogs like this. It’s just human nature to want to make yourself look good to others — heck, it may even be Darwinian — but we realize that still doesn’t make it right.

We’d never stoop to blatant self-promotion.

forrester-logoFor example, when Forrester Research recently reassessed the ESN industry for both Social Platforms and Activity Streams, we tastefully posted:

Forrester names tibbr ESN leader! Totes crushin’ it, yo!

info-tech-awardsAnd when Info-Tech Research Group named tibbr the category Champion, Innovator, and Best Value, we casually shared it:

tibbr takes home the Info-Tech Triple Crown! #believe #YOLO

tibbr-blog-forester-report1Naturally, when Forrester Consulting published the results of their six-month study examining the ROI of tibbr, we took the high-road:

Forrester shows tibbr ROI in FIVE areas!!! #justsaying #humblebrag 

badge-biz-winner-2013aAnd when our tablet app was awarded “Best IT/Business Tool” in the 2013 “Tabby” awards, we barely mentioned our victory:

tibbr Mobile just took home a Tabby!

(continued…)

Peter Crosby

What chefs can teach businesses about being focused and effective.

Fresh Vegetables
By now, we all know that multitasking is a lie. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t all have lots of things that need to be done efficiently every day — here’s how to make people more effective.

Dealing with the day’s to-do list takes focus. But in a hectic business environment, focus is often hard to come by. It’s a challenge that restaurant chef’s face every day, too. And they deal with it using a practice called “mise-en-place,” which roughly translates into “everything in its place.”

Essentially, it means that chefs start their day thinking through — and gathering up — the totality of recipes, tools, and ingredients they need to do their job that day.

It’s a holistic, mindful approach that could help out at a lot of other industries as well. The only problem is that, at many businesses, the “totality of everything employees need to do their job” is frequently scattered across disparate systems, networks, and business apps.

If your job involves email, CRM and a finance app, you don’t know the sum total of your day until you’ve checked them all out individually — and that opens the door to distractions that can derail you from your larger priorities. (continued…)

Peter Crosby

What’s wrong with your conference room, and how to fix it.

Empty Conference Room

Nobody likes conference rooms; the fluorescent lights cause headaches, the projector never has the right dongle, the catered sandwiches taste like plastic, and there are never enough of the “good” chairs. And don’t get me started on those conference call phones…

Thankfully, conference rooms are on their way out. More and more work is being done in disparate global offices, while traveling to those office, or while working from somewhere else entirely. As a result, employees are finding that IRL conference rooms simply aren’t the best way to pull together the right colleagues, content, and conversations around a topic anymore.

Enter tibbr Subjects: It’s a virtual workspace for the 21st Century that lets people collaborate more efficiently. It’s accessible from both the office and the road, and available on both desktops and smart devices. So now, no one needs to be in the same physical space to be part of a discussion.

In the recent 5.1 upgrade, we did more than just refresh the look (but we did that, too). Check out this list of upgrades we made to make tibbr Subjects even more useful:

  • Easily access everything from the new toolbar — jump to Wall Posts, People, Links, Files, Bookmarks, and Trends.
  • (continued…)

Peter Crosby

How lengthy emails damage your business, and how to put a stop to them.

Hands Typing Email Novels.

I stumbled across a nice blog post the other day suggesting that there’s a simple solution to the problem of email killing employee productivity, and it’s basically this: “Keep emails short.”

While that may seem obvious and self-evident, it’s nevertheless something nobody seems to be able to do — far too many people write emails as if they were authoring the next great novel or a dissertation on the meaning of existence under the mistaken impression that more words are better.

But when it comes to email — as Robert Browning taught us all in his 1855 dramatic monologue, Andrea del Sarto (Called “The Faultless Painter”) — less is more.

The email window itself may be at fault — its wide-open textual expanse all but cries out for logorrheic verbosity. Like the mythical siren’s call, it incites our childhood passion and unrealized dream of being a best-selling author of pompous word-smithery!

Or…it could be that people just can’t cut to the chase.

Regardless of the cause, shorter messages are better messages for one, simple reason:

Short messages get read.

no-email_smallThat’s right. Short messages get read while long emails — even the most carefully crafted ones — get skimmed at best, if not ignored altogether. (continued…)