Better Team Decision Making

From MU Management 8001: Solving Problems Using Systematic Approaches taught by Dr. Michael Christy

Focus on team decision making: three techniques designed to arrive at good decision even if team is not in agreement on objectives and importance of the issue at hand

1. Catchball

– Developed in Japan
Goals: Improving ideas and encouraging buy in among participants

Procedure
Start with an idea – toss it to the group for improvement
Gradual cycles of refinement until group feels that meaningful improvement can no longer be made

Outcomes

  • Shared responsibility and commitment
  • Feelings of ownership over idea help during its implementation

2. Point-Counterpoint

– Involves two teams, preferably of equal size, with mix of ideas in each group.

Procedure
Team A proposes idea to team B
Team B identifies one or more alternative courses of action
Team B presents ideas to team A at second meeting
Debate two proposals, identify common set of assumptions.

Outcomes

  • Group agreement on a recommendation

3. Intellectual Watchdog

– Involves two teams

Procedure
Instead of proposing a counterproposal, one group critiques the other’s approach, leading to refinement in idea

Jawbone UP v2.0: Business School Case Study for the Future

Today, the tech community is abuzz with articles about the new Jawbone UP. Strictly speaking, it’s version 2.0 of the device, whose first iteration was made available to the market in November 2011. Jawbone’s handling of the UP from initial failure to reinvention will be studied by future generations of business school students.

I didn’t even know about the UP before it had been pulled from store shelves. It was probably released during one of my self-imposed media blackouts. Jawbone released the UP through two channels: 1) its own website and 2) select retailers. The UP was available for purchase for about a month before Jawbone announced that it was recalling them due to hardware issues that were causing a low mean time between failures.

Jawbone’s CEO, Hosain Rahman, wrote a letter to the UP community that was quickly reposted across the tech blogosphere. In it, he promised a “No Questions Asked Guarantee” for everyone who had purchased UP.

… for whatever reason, or no reason at all, you can receive a full refund for UP. This is true even if you decide to keep your UP band. We are so committed to this product that we’re offering you the option of using it for free.

Source: https://jawbone.com/up/guarantee

That program is still active until December 31st, 2012. You can read about it here (archived link from April 23, 2012).

By the time that I was made aware of the Jawbone UP, the official distribution channels had already been closed down. Jawbone’s UP website displayed a message to prospective buyers that the UP would be coming back soon. I had to go through unofficial channels to purchase mine, where I paid close to $150 for a device that someone else paid $99 to acquire.

My first Jawbone UP lasted for nearly eight months of daily use. One day, late into its life, an LED inexplicably went dead. Shortly thereafter, the band refused to sync with my iPhone. I fired off an email to Jawbone Customer Service. They first came back with instructions on how to reset the Jawbone UP, but quickly escalated the case after I told them that it wasn’t responding to the reset procedure. It took ten (non-working days included) days from my first contact with Jawbone Customer Service to the time that I received my replacement UP.

Jawbone UP and iPhone 5 Incompatible?

I used the replacement Jawbone UP right up until I moved to an iPhone 5. I found that my UP no longer synced with the phone, and some brief Google searches found that there were a number of other UP users who had been similarly left out in the cold. Users on the Jawbone UP community forums reported no success getting the Jawbone UP to sync with the iPhone 5. I recall a response from the forum administrator that read something like, “You’ll need to keep your old iDevice around for now if you want to keep on syncing your Jawbone UP”.

I speculated that the problem wasn’t Jawbone’s alone – it was very possible that Apple had changed something about the iPhone 5 that made its headphone jack different from the iPhone 4S and earlier. I recalled thinking about the other devices on the market that used the iPhone’s headphone jack for data transmission: Square came to mind, but I noticed that their website claimed that the Square Reader was compatible with the iPhone 5. Who broke compatibility?

In any case, my Jawbone UP sat unused for the past month. I kept it plugged in to its USB charger so that it wouldn’t vibrate across the desk every morning. I thought about selling it to some other sucker – I was convinced that the world wouldn’t be seeing another UP for a while longer yet, but competing devices struck me as fairly lame. I looked briefly into the Nike+ Fuel band, but didn’t act on it.

I didn’t follow up on the Jawbone UP any further until today, when I read about its rerelease. As a Jawbone UP user, of course I was going to click through and read more. I poo-poohed the Jawbone UP first-generation users who were lamenting the fact that they would not be receiving free Jawbone UP v2.0 bands. I saw this message in the FAQ for Previous Band Owners and I was happy.

Will 1st Generation band work with iPhone 5?

Yes, as long as you use the same account to login. Your data is stored in your account, rather than a specific version of the app. If needed, you can delete specific events in your feed.

Lo and behold, my Jawbone UP does work with iPhone 5! I won’t have to buy another Jawbone UP band just because there’s been a second generation offering that’s been unveiled.

Activity on the Jawbone UP Community Forums

Then I realized something important. Those users on the Jawbone community forums who are complaining that they’ve been left out in the cold again may be on to something. There have been a plethora of threads whose titles reflect the angst of so many upset first-generation UP owners. Threads whose titles look something like..

Jawbone’s response to these threads will affect the existing UP community’s perception of the brand. At the time of writing, it is not unreasonable to think that the only people who are actively scanning the Jawbone UP community forums are first-generation Jawbone UP users and owners. The Jawbone UP gained a lot of awareness in the media in spite of its short lifetime on the market, so I will not be surprised if the UP gains significant traction now that it has been brought back to the market. It was probably one of the coolest products that you couldn’t buy last Christmas.

Additional Reading for My A+ Students:

http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/13/jawbone-up-2012/
http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/08/jawbone-offers-no-questions-asked-refund-for-troubled-up-band/

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665351/jawbone-releases-up-a-wristband-for-tracking-your-wellness
http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665491/the-jawbone-up-fails-but-teaches-3-golden-rules-for-experience-design#disqus_thread
http://www.fastcodesign.com/mba/1671243/how-3-million-hours-of-user-testing-fixed-the-jawbone-up#-1

Edits

20161008: Replaced broken link to Jawbone UP refund program with an archived link

4 Domains of Strength-Based Leadership

Used in conjunction with an online program called StrengthsFinder. StrengthsFinder was developed by a certain Dr. Donald O. Clifton. Gallup’s blurb on him says that StrengthsFinder was the culmination of some 50 years of Dr. Clifton’s lifelong work.

I haven’t read the book, but it appears that there are two of them out there.

Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow

For those interested in taking the StrengthsFinder assessment, Gallup’s Strengths Center will give you access to the assessment and a report of your top five strengths for $9.99 at the time of writing. There’s also a deluxe offering of sorts that is about nine times the price.

Executing
Achiever – People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Arranger – People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
Belief – People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
Consistency – People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.
Deliberative – People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.
Discipline – People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.
Focus – People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
Responsibility – People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
Restorative – People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.

Influencing
Activator – People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.
Command – People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.
Communication – People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
Competition – People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.
Maximizer – People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
Self-Assurance – People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
Significance – People who are especially talented in the Significance theme want to be very important in the eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized.
Woo – People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

Relationship Building
Adaptability – People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
Developer – People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
Connectedness – People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
Empathy – People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
Harmony – People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
Includer – People who are especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.
Individualization – People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
Positivity – People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Relator – People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Strategic Thinking
Analytical – People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
Context – People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
Futuristic – People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
Ideation – People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Input – People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Intellection – People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
Learner – People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
Strategic – People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Source: Rath, T, and Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths Based Leadership. Galllup Press; New York, NY.

On Strategic Planning for Career Development

David S. Haffner, CEO & President of Leggett & Platt, Inc., delivered a talk to a small group of MBA students at the University of Missouri. This talk took place on September 8th, 2011. Here are my notes from his discussion.

Interview Tips
– Research your target. Then confirm your research.
– That being said, do not overwhelm your interviewer with details.

Investing
– Compensation will be a large factor in your decision-making process.
– What about equity options? What is available with the company? Can you, as an employee, acquire equity at a discount? (discounted stock purchase plan)
– Does the company stock pay dividends?

The Career Progression of a Well-Qualified Entrant
(show graphic)

“Think at least one move ahead – preferably two”

Slow and steady? No – take on opportunity, but not too much at once

Be humble about your assets, be proud of your achievements

– “One of the things that I did …”

– Adding precision where we don’t know it in conversation can make things sound more convincing

What do you do after you get hired?
– Act with character and integrity
– Maintain your cool
– Keep work and play separated — remember that people are watching
– Seek feedback – play off the strengths, but don’t give up on weaknesses