Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 25, 2022

The Weekly Pulse is my content curation and my highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, and everything I discovered during the week.
The Weekly Pulse is my content curation and my highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, and everything I discovered during the week.

So, let’s go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 – The Work of Leadership
#2 – How New Top Managers Use Control Systems as Levers of Strategic Renewal
#3 – The Concept of “Ba”: Building a Foundation for Knowledge Creation
#4 – How to Manage ‘Invisible Transitions’ in Leadership
#5 – What Most People Get Wrong About Men and Women

The Work of Leadership

Source: Harvard Business Review 
Author: Ronald A. Heifetz and Donald L. Laurie

Summary: What presents your company with its toughest challenges? Shifting markets?

Stiffening competition? Emerging technologies? When such challenges intensify, you may need to reclarify corporate values, redesign strategies, merge or dissolve businesses, or manage cross-functional strife.

3 Highlights:

“… Perhaps even more vexing, the solutions to adaptive challenges don’t reside in the executive suite. Solving them requires the involvement of people throughout your organization….

“… Rather than providing solutions, you must ask tough questions and leverage employees’ collective intelligence. Instead of maintaining norms, you must challenge the “way we do business. And rather than quelling conflict, you need to draw issues out and let people feel the sting of reality….

“… For your employees, adaptive work is painful— requiring unfamiliar roles, responsibilities, values, and ways of working. No wonder employees often try to lob adaptive work back to their leaders.…” 

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How New Top Managers Use Control Systems as Levers of Strategic Renewal

Source:  Strategic Management Journal
Author:  Robert Simons

Summary: This research is a longitudinal study of 10 newly-appointed top managers; the research focuses on understanding their business vision and strategy and how they use formal control systems as levers of strategic change and renewal. The results reported in the paper are based on data collected over a period of approximately 18 months following the appointment of each new manager. Analysis of the data suggests that control systems are important levers used to manage both evolutionary and revolutionary change. 

3 Highlights:

“… In situations of strategic change, control systems are used by top managers to formalize beliefs, set boundaries on acceptable strategic behavior, define and measure critical performance variables, and motivate debate and discussion about strategic uncertainties…” 

“… In addition to traditional measuring and monitoring functions, control systems are used by top managers to overcome organizational inertia, communicate new strategic agendas, establish implementation timetables and targets, and ensure continuing attention to new strategic initiatives…” 

“… Diagnostic control systems are formal feedback systems used to monitor organizational outcomes and correct deviations from preset standards of performance.…” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

The Concept of “Ba”: Building a Foundation for Knowledge Creation

Source: California Management Review
Author: Ikujiro Nonaka and Noboru Konno

Summary: The management of knowledge has become a frequently discussed topic in the management literature. What are the fundamental conditions for knowledge creation? Where is knowledge creation located? Is it possible to actually manage knowledge like other resources? To address these questions we introduce the Japanese concept of “ ba” which roughly translates into the English word “place”.

3 Highlights:

“… The concept of ba was originally proposed by the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida and was further developed by Shimizu. For those unfamiliar with the concept, ba can be thought of as a shared space for emerging relationships. What differentiates ba from ordinary human interaction is the concept of knowledge creation…” 

“… To participate in a ba means to get involved and transcend one’s own limited perspective or boundary. This exploration is necessary in order to profit from the “magic synthesis” of rationality and intuition that produces creativity….” 

“… This kind of knowledge leadership provides a definite space in time for body and mind to come together in an originating ba, where knowledge-creation processes emerge. This sets the agenda for a new kind of management…” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

How to Manage ‘Invisible Transitions’ in Leadership

Source: MIT Sloan Management Review
Author: Ingo Marquart, Nora Grasselli, and Gianluca Carnabuci

Summary: Leadership transitions are either formal, with a change in job title and sphere of authority, or informal. Taking on a substantial new role without a change in title or authority is hard, but there are ways to manage this transition. Examples of formal leadership transitions include vertical transitions, lateral transitions, and geographic transitions. 

3 Highlights:

“… Especially when a new job title and a formal promotion are missing, good communication — including soft skills, such as being a good listener and exercising diplomacy — can mean the difference between developing an effective team that trusts your leadership and an ineffective one that doesn’t….” 

“…  Organizations should acknowledge this reality and actively facilitate this learning process. Leaders and managers would be wise to account for gender differences, too, understanding that men and women often deal with informal transitions in different ways and that their success depends on having the right support….” 

“… Because leaders often self-diagnose their situations and take on their own invisible transitions, organizations and their HR teams need to do a better job proactively looking for these changes and recognizing new responsibilities.…” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

What Most People Get Wrong About Men and Women

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: Catherine H. Tinsley and Robin J. Ely

Summary: The conversation about the treatment of women in the workplace has reached a crescendo of late, and senior leaders—men as well as women—are increasingly vocal about a commitment to gender parity. That’s all well and good, but there’s an important catch. The discussions and many of the initiatives companies have undertaken, too often reflect a faulty belief: that men and women are fundamentally different, by virtue of their genes or their upbringing, or both. Of course, there are biological differences. But those are not the differences people are usually talking about.


“… Research also shows that women get less frequent and lower-quality feedback than men” 

“… The four steps we’ve outlined are consistent with research suggesting that on difficult issues such as gender and race, managers respond more positively when they see themselves as part of the solution rather than simply part of the problem. The solution to women’s lagged advancement is not to fix women or their managers but to fix the conditions that undermine women and reinforce gender stereotypes. …” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

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