Data driven management, Where are the worst managers? Hackathons, Why experience is your biggest weakness

The best of the week…

Welcome back! I’m highlighting two articles this week on the opportunities and the risks of data. Read them side by side, they’re both quick and easy to get through.

Part one is Who’s Afraid of Data-Driven Management?

A short but insightful piece from HBR on how to move your management culture towards a more data driven decision making culture.

Part two is Spurious Correlations

This is a great blog that acts as the cautionary warning note to data driven decision making done badly. Correlations aren’t everything, as this blog shows with a number of incredibly strong (but ultimately spurious) correlations.

Look our for:

  • Per capita consumption of cheese (US) and Number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets
  • People who drowned after falling out of a fishing boat and Marriage rate in Kentucky
  • Honey producing bee colonies (US) and Juvenile arrests for possession of marijuana (US) 

It’s funny and a little bit absurd, but there is a serious message around the risks of a half baked approach to integrating data.

This week in Management

The best and worst countries at middle management
“Led by Stanford’s Nicholas Bloom, researchers have spent a decade collecting survey data from managers to try and explain why certain companies and countries produce so much more. Good management plays a huge role.” Link

Who’s Afraid of Data-Driven Management?
From a management perspective, making decisions based on data is a clear win. Yet it’s often difficult to adopt a data-informed culture. In every organization, there are teams and employees who embrace this transition, and those who undermine it. To convert your biggest data skeptics, the first step is to understand the psychology of their resistance. Link

Spurious correlations
We read a lot about data driven management, but this is a great warning note. Correlations don’t mean everything, and they definitely don’t mean causation. Here’s some of the most spurious (but exceptionally strong) correlations. Link

Why salaries shouldn’t be secret
“If you work for a company where everybody knows what everybody else is earning, then it’s going to be very easy to see what’s going on. You’ll see who the stars are, you’ll see what kind of skills and talent the company rewards.” Link

How to Hire People Who Think: Use Games
“If you want to recruit people who have knowledge, test their knowledge. If you want to recruit people who have experience, ask for job histories. And if you want to recruit people who can think, watch them think.” Link

The Workplace Flexibility Experiment
“A controlled experiment about flexible work schedules aims to bring scientific rigor to the debate. For six months, researchers followed hundreds of employees at a Fortune 500 IT company to see what happened when some workers were permitted to determine when and where they worked.” Link

Employee Engagement. How far is too far?
“Am I being too simplistic here by thinking that a lot of employee engagement issues could be solved by companies training their managers in how to become better man-managers?” Link

Why Do Big Companies Do Hackathons?
“One of America’s oldest toy companies, Hasbro, recently held a hackathon where 150 developers came and developed 45 products–equivalent to billions of dollars in traditional R&D.” Link

This week in Leadership

When Experience Is Your Biggest Weakness 
“The leadership talents you’ve already mastered are not necessarily the ones that you’ll need in the future. In most organizations, you get promoted not for asking questions but for providing answers. You advance by voicing the glib sound bites, not the edgy hypotheticals.” Link

The Problem With Confidence
“So my first reaction when reading of female underconfidence is not simply that this is a problem. It’s to ask, how can we inject more of this self-doubt and self-policing into the wider culture. How can each of us get a better mixture of “female” self-doubt and “male” self-assertion?” Link

Anne-Marie Slaughter on forging confidence and a career
“One of the most important things anyone ever said to me about leadership was from John Sexton, who is the president of NYU. He said, “A good leader knows what he or she is not good at.” I have definitely focused on that a lot.” Link

IBM’s Virginia Rometty on Leadership and Management
“To be the chief executive of IBM, Ms. Rometty said, is to be “a steward” of a 102-year-old company, but a company that must steadily evolve.“You make the right decision for the long run,” she said. “You manage for the long run and you continue to move to higher value.” Link

Management.Disrupted is a blog about management beyond the production line. Thoughts on better management and leadership for knowledge work. It’s free to subscribe. Sign up now in less than 30 seconds

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