Agility Is Key To Getting Through This Coronacrisis

by Kate Cooper

Running an organization is not like running a car, though some think it is. Mechanical analogies are all too common: ‘well oiled-machine’; ‘running like clockwork’; the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the organization. Anyone would think that companies were made of screws and lugs, not people.

The decades-long pursuit of efficiency gains has led many to regard organizations as robotic production lines. The hope is that each passing day sees the apparatus churn out slightly more than the previous 24 hours.

But the ‘organization-as-a-machine’ model has been found out. It wasn’t modern efficiency theory that helped companies negotiate the coronacrisis. It was the antithesis of the robotic doctrine of ‘the same but faster’. It was the creativity and imagination of people.

In an article for the Chief Executive Group, George Mason University’s Professor Saurabh Mishra warns of a dark side to the quest for operational efficiency.

“[…] efficiency leads to a routinization of processes and necessitates a focus on constant, but incremental, improvements in operations,” Mishra writes. “As a result, efficient organizations often have few resources left for managers to react to dynamic business conditions or to formulate innovations that build new markets.” Continue reading

What does it take to be a great leader?

We thought it might be interesting to share the attributes valued by many senior leaders in our network.  We hope you find inspiration and an insight or two from their words.


Accountable – he/she is accountable for what gets done and doesn’t get done. He/she also holds others accountable.

Ability to “guide” it could be anything: ability to lead, ability to control emotions, ability hire good people, etc

Ability to recognize talent in others

Blend your staff. As a leader, you must build your staffs at almost every level to include people with varied viewpoints, talents, and inclinations. If you build your staff trying to select only those in your image, you will find yourself or your team with all common faults and blindsided by issues that neither you or your team members ever saw coming.

Building a Great Team– Team building is not the easiest thing to accomplish. Great managers are really measured in their ability to build great teams. For a team to perform efficiently, their leader should be able to motivate his/her team.

Coach – a good leader is a coach and knows he is teaching people to fish – the more questions he/she asks the more he teaches people to think.

Curious – great leaders are insanely curious. They are curious about everything: what’s happening with market, competitor movement, etc.

Decision- Making and Problem Solving are necessary skills. A leader needs to be able to recognize problems and issues and figure out the best approach to resolve the issues and move his team forward.

Direction- Leaders not only show the path, but are able to dive in and solve for challenges along the journey!

Enablement- Strong leaders trust their people and work hard to ensure their teams have what they need to succeed, and clear the hurdles out of their way.

From the Front-Lead from the front, live it, breathe it!

Goal Oriented-Leaders should also have a visionary sight for the benefit of the company. He/she should plan the future steps for the growth his/her team and of the company.

Gratitude–Thanksgiving does not happen just once a year.  Even the weakest rower in a race keeps the boat balanced, keeps the rhythm, and enables the strongest rowers to pull ahead.  Thank every member of your team for their contribution.  Make it personal.  Make it sincere. There is always another race, and you will need all those rowers.

Humility- to recognize self-limitations

Integrity- have integrity & strong values: know who you are.

Innovation- if you are not thinking about what is next, you will not be unique for customers so you will not grow and it will be hard to take care of your people.

Knowledge- a great leader is aware of changes that are occurring in their industry, aware of innovations in their firm and in their competitors. This is necessary so that he/she can use the knowledge and make positive contributions to the goal.

Leading by example is highly underrated! Work daily habits, words chosen, reactions to problems, ability to absorb criticism, listening to your people and praising good performance must be a day-to-day activity.

Life-Keep Life in Perspective– Work / Life Balance……………….Have fun!!

Look-Great leaders look forward and look outward.

Market- You have to be always taking market share so you need to show your competitors and your customers. You have to drive what makes you unique so customers want to buy from you and not your competitors.

Measure– Leaders understand where the goal line is, communicate it to their teams, and how to work towards that goal.  Without clarity in what the objective is, individuals will be confused on the goal and have different views of success.

Mentor– Seek wise counsel– know who has an interest in YOU.

Numbers– Business is about making money so a strong leader has to understand the activities that are going to drive growth and keep the costs down.

Open Mind– knows he/she doesn’t know everything. Seeks out diverse points of view – encourages health debate on topics.

Outcomes– never mistake action for outcomes.  Nothing is more de-motivating than have a team working hard and not getting the results. Guide them towards the right target so the action matches the expected outcome.

Overwhelm- Overwhelm problems before they overwhelm you.

People selection and skills matching to them to specific positions is key to attaining the desired results. Running anything as a leader requires organizational balance. As an example, having a great sales leader run marketing, sounds like an organizational fit many times, but it rarely is a fit. Those are two different skill sets. As you think this out, it applies in many situations as you select, place and grow talent.

Positive– If a leader doesn’t espouse positivity, no one else will. It’s never more evident than right now. It is surprising to me how hard this is for some people.

Road less traveled– Fix /Build /Grow Something. Take the road less traveled–take risk & build skills not titles.

Student– Leaders are always learning and evolving.  For what it is worth, I spend 4 – 5 hours a week on my own education / development.

Take care of your people

Visibility- For a team to be successful, their leader needs to bring visibility to the team of how / why each member of the team is there. What skills, experience, or knowledge do they bring to the team?

Visionary- has a sense of where the organization is going and can articulate it

We- Leadership is about advancing others, not you. Good leaders often always use the term “We” instead of “I”.

Zeal- Leaders have to be the most energetic, focused, determined people on the team because everyone else will draw on that.

Many thanks to all of the leaders who contributed to this blog for their time and wisdom. Hopefully we have added to your perspective on leadership. If you would like to share a thought or two for a follow-up post, please let me know.

Thank you,

Larry Janis, Managing Partner, ISSG  

Mark Cuban: This is the new interview question employers will ask job-hunters after the pandemic

Mark Cuban has some advice for the millions of Americans who are out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic: collect unemployment, don’t stop applying for jobs and make use of whatever down-time you might have to brush up on the skills that might impress your future employer.

a close up of Mark Cuban: Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, speaks at the WSJTECH live conference in Laguna Beach, California, October 21, 2019.


The first question every interviewer is going to ask you is: ‘What did you learn during the pandemic of 2020? What skills did you add during the pandemic of 2020?'” Cuban said in an interview with Dallas’ local CBS affiliate on Sunday.

The billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks was asked what his advice would be for those who are unemployed and job-hunting. Just under 20 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits as of last week, according to the government.

“If I was 24 or 25 … living with five roommates, how would I be dealing with this and what would I tell myself?” Cuban wondered.

“Keep on adding to your skill-set, no matter what it is,” the “Shark Tank” star told CBS. “I don’t care if you’re a welder, or you want to learn how to [computer] program, you want to learn about artificial intelligence, whatever it is.” Continue reading

10 Wonderful Examples Of Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Good

by Bernard Marr

One of the many benefits of using artificial intelligence (AI) is to help us view societal problems from a different perspective. While there’s been much hubbub about how AI might be misused, we must not overlook the many ways AI can be used for good. Our global issues are complex, and AI provides us with a valuable tool to augment human efforts to come up with solutions to vexing problems. Here are 10 of the best ways artificial intelligence is used for good.

Cancer Screening

Artificial intelligence, powered by deep-learning algorithms, is already in use in healthcare. Specifically, AI’s imaging capabilities are promising for cancer identification and screening, including breast cancer. Artificial intelligence is also used to predict the development of diseases across a healthcare network. A group at Mount Sinai used deep learning-based AI algorithms to predict the development of diseases with 94% accuracy, including cancers of liver, rectum, and prostate. Thanks to published cancer research, clinical trials, and drug development, there’s a plethora of data that AI can help to review and then guide healthcare decision-making.

Save the Bees

Did you know The World Bee Project is using artificial intelligence to save the bees? The global bee population is in decline, and that’s bad news for our planet and our food supply. In a partnership with Oracle, The World Bee Project hopes to learn how to help bees survive and thrive by gathering data through internet-of-things sensors, microphones, and cameras on hives. The data is then uploaded to the cloud and analyzed by artificial intelligence to identify patterns or trends that could direct early interventions to help bees survive. Ultimately, artificial intelligence makes it easier to share real-time information on a global scale and take action to save the bees.

Tools for People with Disabilities

Another way artificial intelligence is used for good is to help people with disabilities overcome them. Huawei used AI and augmented reality to create StorySign, a free mobile app that helps deaf children learn to read by translating the text into sign language. The company also created Track.Ai, an easy-to-use, affordable device that can identify visual disorders in children so treatment can begin before the disorders cause blindness. Facing Emotions, another AI app created by Huawei, translates emotion into short and simple sounds. The app assesses the emotion it sees on another’s face to help blind people “see” the emotion of the person they are talking with. The app uses the rear camera on the phone to evaluate the nose, mouth, eyebrows and eyes, and artificial intelligence to analyze the expression on these facial features and what emotion they convey—contempt, anger, fear, disgust, sadness, happiness and surprise.

Climate Change

We can make tremendous progress in solving one of the world’s biggest issues with the support of artificial intelligence. Climate change is a gargantuan problem, but several thought leaders in AI and machine learning believe technology might be able to tackle it. Machine learning can improve climate informatics—machine learning algorithms power approximately 30 climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Artificial intelligence can also help educate and predict the impacts of climate change on different regions. Researchers from the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) use GANs (generative adversarial networks) to simulate the damage of severe storms and rising sea levels.

Wildlife Conservation

Another way AI is put to work for the planet is in conservation efforts and allows underfunded conservationists an opportunity to analyze data inexpensively. A team from the University of Hawaii’s Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project used AI to analyze 600 hours of audio to detect the number of collisions between birds and power lines. In another effort to halt the decline of endangered species by using AI, the University of Southern California Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society uses an unmanned aerial vehicle to spot poachers and locate animals. The data collected by the drone is sent back to be analyzed by machine learning tools that use game theory to help predict poacher and animal activity. AI is also used by Wild Me and Microsoft to automatically recognize, log, and track endangered animals like whale sharks by analyzing photos people upload to the internet.

Combat World Hunger

One of the most viable tools in the fight to end the world hunger crisis is artificial intelligence. It can analyze millions of data points to help determine the perfect crop, develop seeds, maximize current output, and control herbicide application precisely. Many applications are in use already, but one we’ll highlight here is the Nutrition Early Warning System (NEWS) that uses machine learning and big data to identify regions that are at increased risk of food shortages due to crop failure, rising food prices and drought.

Reduce Inequality and Poverty

Although one of the criticisms with AI algorithms is the human bias that can be introduced via skewed algorithms or training data sets, AI can actually help reduce inequalities. The Center for Data Science and Public Policy of the University of Chicago’s project Aequitas and IBM’s AI Fairness 360 are open source toolkits that can track and correct bias. Smart text editor Textio, that makes job descriptions more inclusive, helped one publisher grow its percentage of women recruits to 57 percent, from just 10% previously. Imperial College of London is training AI to Identify inequality based on street images of living conditions in cities, with the aim to ultimately use this information to improve the situations. Similarly, AI analyzes satellite imagery in a Stanford University project to predict regions of poverty, which can then influence economic aid. Another way AI/machine learning is working to end poverty is through IBM’s Science for Social Good directive Simpler Voice to overcome illiteracy.

Spot “Fake News”

It’s true: AI is the engine that pushes “fake news” out to the masses, but Google, Microsoft, and grassroots effort Fake News Challenge are using AI (machine learning and natural language processing) to assess the truth of articles automatically. Due to the trillions of posts, Facebook must monitor and the impossibility of manually doing it, the company also uses artificial intelligence to find words and patterns that could indicate fake news. Other tools that rely on AI to analyze content include Spike, Snopes, Hoaxy, and more.

Assess Medical Images

In general, artificial intelligence is leveraged in many ways to improve healthcare systems. German-based Siemens Healthineers is a leading medical technology company that integrates AI into many of its innovative technologies. One of these technologies is the AI-Rad Companion.4, a radiologist assistant that supports routine reading and measurement tasks on medical imaging. AI augments the review of medical imaging to help alleviate some of the workloads for over-taxed radiologists. Another innovation is the AI-Pathway Companion5. This tool integrates insights from pathology, imaging, lab and genetics for each patient to provide status and suggest the next steps based on the data.

Prioritize Upgrades

At the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS), AI is deployed to figure out how to maintain Los Angeles’ water supply in the event of an earthquake. Since the city’s utility infrastructure is aging, the project aims to identify strategic areas for improvement in the network of pipes, so that critical infrastructure (those that serve hospitals, evacuation centers, fire and police centers) is prioritized for upgrades to earthquake-resistant pipes. This is a problem AI is adept at solving by simulating many different scenarios to find the best solution.

Source: Forbes

Shoring Up Executive Careers in a Pandemic

by Lee Seok Hwai

The best time to plan for contingencies was yesterday. The next best time is now.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic derailed the global economy and decimated jobs by the millions, executives everywhere were grappling with technological disruptions as well as issues triggered by climate, social and political upheaval. Then COVID-19 happened. Whether you are in danger of redundancy or simply reflecting on what your career might look like in the new normal, this is a good time to evaluate how you could improve your job outlook.

The first step is to take stock of where you stand in the three stages of the executive career, said José Luis Álvarez, INSEAD Senior Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour. They are: the establishment stage, the maintenance stage and the withdrawal stage. Integral to these are the network, especially mentors and sponsors, and the plans that you lay out for each of the stages, ideally well in advance.

“The important thing is that you have a plan, you have a strategy. You don’t wait, you have some idea ready for implementation,” Álvarez said at a recent webinar, “Executive careers in the face of change”, part of the INSEAD series on Navigating the Turbulence of COVID-19.

“Don’t wait for the future to tell you what to do. It is better to make mistakes in a strategy than having no strategy at all.” Continue reading