Shyam's Slide Share Presentations


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Monday, July 23, 2012

NASA Van Gough Sun

NASA Video: Van Gogh Sun


Data of the Sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) can resemble impressionist style paintings. The visualization on the right (based on the image on the left) uses specific colors to describe which areas on the sun cooled or heated over a 12-hour period. The visualization is the result of a new technique created by Dr. Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. She creates images of the sun reminiscent of Van Gogh, using broad strokes of bright color splashed across a yellow background. But it's science, not art. The color of each pixel contains information about the 12-hour history of cooling and heating at that particular spot on the sun. Dr. Viall explains her interesting technique in the following video: 

View the video Here

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Scholarships for US students 07-22

"The goal is quite simple: Get kids a great education so they can go on to college and pursue a profession that—for both them and the country—will be very rewarding."

— Bill Gates on improving education in the United States


Every student in the United States deserves the chance to go to college.

Most U.S. high school students want to attend college. They recognize that higher education is the most direct path to success in their future careers. College also provides opportunities to explore talents and develop leadership skills they can use to participate more fully in adult life—at home, at work, and in their communities.

Millions of students can’t afford the tuition.

It’s estimated that between 2006 and 2016, nearly 4.5 million students won’t pursue college degrees because their families can’t afford the high costs of higher education.

Low-income students and students of color are particularly hard hit.

Only one in 10 low-income students can expect to graduate from college. And disproportionately fewer students of color earn bachelor’s degrees. This is not due to a lack of talent but instead to the high costs of tuition and to the fact that many graduate high school without the skills they need to succeed in college. They also lack guidance on how to choose a school, apply for admission, and fill out financial aid forms.

We will help more than 27,000 low-income students get to college by 2016.

Thousands of low-income, minority students are highly motivated and ready for college every year. We’re working to help them get there through our scholarship programs. We’re also creating programs in lower performing schools designed to help low-income students get ready to enter—and then succeed in—college.

We believe in educating future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

We encourage leadership and public service in the U.S. and abroad. We will provide scholarships for graduate study in fields that benefit local and global communities.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Does Asia have the talent to lead innovation in the 21st century??? 07-22

Does Asia Have the Talent to Lead Innovation in the 21st Century????

Scott Anthony, Managing Director, Innosight Asia-Pacific

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Economist, Founding President, Center for Talent Innovation
Diane Gherson, Vice President, Talent, IBM

Kari Reston, Head, Talent and Learning, Americas, Standard Chartered

Angelia Herrin (Moderator), Editor for Research and Special Projects, Harvard Business Review


The war for talent in Asia is intense. As companies open
business units in Asia to address growth in local consumer
demand, employees skilled in areas such as strategy and
innovation are in short supply. To address this gap,
companies must identify new sources of talent and develop
creative programs to attract employees.

Women in countries like China and India represent an
educated and motivated pool of talent, yet this talent pool is
underleveraged. There are multiple factors that employers
should consider to improve their ability to hire and retain
women including elder care, addressing gender bias, and
dealing with safety issues. Companies are also appealing to
potential employees by offering short-term international
assignments and by recruiting through social media.


The panelists discussed ways to strengthen the management
of talent and improve competitive advantage in emerging
markets such as Asia.


As companies locate strategic business units in Asia, they
face significant talent-related challenges.

Historically multinational corporations have viewed Asian
facilities as production powerhouses, manufacturing products
for developed markets. However, companies increasingly see
Asian consumers and markets as a source of business growth.
To take advantage of these opportunities, companies are
locating entire business units in Asian countries to serve
these markets.

This shift creates major stresses, as firms strive to attract and
retain talent. For generations, Asian workers built competencies
focused on efficient operations. However, business
success in Asia today is about more than just production.
Strategies are now being developed and executed in local
Asian markets. As a result, companies and employees there
need skills related to strategy and innovation. To stimulate
great ideas, companies must give local offices the budget,
autonomy, and authority to experiment and innovate.

“In years past, teams in Asia needed expat
senior executives to help execute strategies
developed back at company headquarters.
Today, as strategies are developed locally, that
no longer makes sense."
—Scott Anthony

Six years ago, IBM made the transition from a multinational
corporation to a globally integrated enterprise. Operations
are located wherever skills exist for innovation. This shift has
caused IBM to think differently about its entire talent supply
chain to support this new business model and to rethink its
hiring, career tracks, and leadership development. IBM
abandoned its traditional country-based talent management
system in favor of global recruiting, staffing, development,
and career management.

One particular challenge for the company is transferring
knowledge to international offices. New networks have been
created by transferring employees to Asian markets, pairing
senior leaders with country general managers, and creating
global social networks for employees.

In emerging markets, women are a large but unleveraged
talent pool.

In the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China),
women represent the talent pool of the future. The number of
university-educated women exceeds 26 million and over half
of college graduates (55%) are women. Women in these
countries strive for top jobs and outperform their peers in
developed economies. Since the turnover rate among women
in BRIC countries is half that of men, becoming a women’s
employer of choice is beneficial.

“Women in the BRIC countries are ahead of the
curve and are looking to be developed."
—Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Dr. Hewlett described five factors that employers should
consider as they bring women into their talent pipelines:

1. In BRIC countries, child care isn’t an obstacle for
working women. In these cultures, inexpensive domestic
help and supportive family members are the norm. As a
result, professional women don’t face the same child care
challenges as women in Western nations.

2. Elder care is a serious concern, especially in China.
Although children don’t force women out of the workforce
in BRIC countries, elder care issues loom large.

This is especially true in China where many professionals
are only children who assume responsibility for their
parents. Companies must offer new benefits to address
elder care.

3. Gender bias is commonplace in India and China. Indian
and Chinese women experience gender bias in the
workplace and few positive role models exist. Leadership
training is one way to combat this issue. IBM’s “Taking
the Stage” program, for example, helps promising leaders
develop a stronger presence.

4. Time differences must be respected. Women in BRIC
countries routinely work 72 hours per week and performance
pressures are high. Surveys show that late-night
international conference calls are the major workplace
issue women would like changed.

5. Companies should address women’s safety issues. For
women in India, China, and Brazil, safety while commuting
or taking business trips is a major concern.

Companies must take steps to ensure employee security.
Short-term international assignments are the wave of the

Many companies are replacing traditional two- to five-year
expat programs with short-term international assignments.
These shorter programs offer several benefits to both employees
and employers.

IBM has found that employees at all levels want international
experience and global assignments. To respond to employees,
the company developed the Global IBMer Program. This
enables employees to work in another country. While they
receive some allowances for working overseas, IBM doesn’t
provide tax equalization or support for maintaining a home in
their native country. This makes the program more affordable
for IBM. The initiative has been highly successful, with 20
employees per week departing for different countries.

“There is a thirst at all levels for international
experience and global assignments. The classic
international assignment doesn't meet these
needs and is on its way out."
—Diane Gherson

At the same time, many companies have established
leadership-development programs, where Asian employees
work for three to six months in mature markets.

Experience shows that these short-term programs are very
effective at disseminating ideas throughout an organization.
Sharing ideas among global employees is essential. In
addition, women benefit from short-term international
assignments, since multi-year expat programs are often
incompatible with two-career families.

Companies are using creative ways to attract international

Talent exists in many different demographic groups, even
ones that organizations may not focus on. As a result, multinational
corporations must develop creative approaches for
identifying and attracting new employees.

The panelists discussed initiatives that have been used to
address the talent crisis in Asia:

— Use customer preferences to drive employee diversity.
In 2006, Standard Chartered’s research revealed that
many of the bank’s Indian clients were women. A new
type of branch was piloted with only female staff
members. Customers were more comfortable in this
environment and the concept has now been adopted in
India and Sri Lanka.

“In India, we learned that our business model
could drive greater diversity among our
—Kari Reston

— Leverage social media to identify talent. Standard
Chartered recently launched a social media contest
targeted at Gen Y called the World’s Coolest Intern. The
winner spent six months in the Singapore office tweeting
and blogging about the company’s new iPhone app. This
individual is now a Standard Chartered employee.
Social referrals have also been very effective for IBM.
Employees share hard-to-fill job openings with Twitter,
Facebook, and LinkedIn contacts. One employee
generated 263 referrals and one-third were hired.

— Focus on quality of work life and family. To retain
talented employees, compensation levels must be
competitive. However, quality of work life is just as
important. Research shows that Chinese employees
highly value the community, physical comforts, and
intellectual challenges of the office.

Also in Asian cultures, the extended family is very
important, as is the recognition by one’s family of
working for a prestigious employer. Tapping into this, a
senior manager at a Standard Chartered office in China
calls outstanding young employees’ families to praise
their work. And in India, IBM has developed a brochure
targeted at parents.

— Focus on underleveraged talent. In some countries,
businesses place higher value on certain types of
education. For example, in India and Latin America,
engineering degrees are preferred. Recognizing the local
“pecking order” and targeting graduates of less popular
degrees may uncover untapped talent pools.

— Promote the benefits of global resource and leadership
development networks. When employees and interns
join IBM, they are connected to a powerful global
resource network. In addition, they have the opportunity
to participate in the company’s Corporate Service Corps.
This program sends employees to countries around the
world to develop leadership skills, while working on
community-driven economic development projects.
Access to these international opportunities attracts
talent to the company.

— Look for candidates with raw talent. Many organizations
prefer candidates with direct experience in their industry
segment. However, individuals with “raw talent” are
often excellent hires. Standard Chartered, for example,
has found that people with good hospitality skills have
the customer service orientation needed to succeed in the
company. The firm then provides training on financial

— Incent executives to retain high-potential employees. To
keep employees, it is sometimes necessary to raise the
stakes for company leaders. The CEO of an Indian firm
wanted to prevent attrition among talented female
employees. He implemented a program where executive
bonuses were decreased for every high-potential woman
who left the company.

View the webinar video

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stephen R Covey RIP 07-18

News Release

Franklin Covey Co. Announces the Passing of Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Renowned Author, Speaker and Consultant

SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul. 16, 2012-- Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC) today announced that Dr. Stephen R. Covey, co-founder and a former vice-chairman and director of FranklinCovey, passed away peacefully this morning due to the residual effects of a bicycle accident he suffered this past April. He was in his 80th year. In his final hours, he was surrounded by his loving wife and each of his children and their spouses.

Dr. Covey made a decision early in his life that his greatest contribution and life's work would be as a teacher. Beginning with his role as a university professor at Brigham Young University and then as an internationally-renowned author, speaker, and consultant, he has impacted the lives of countless millions worldwide. From grade school and university students, to Fortune 100 CEOs and numerous heads of state, he made teaching principle-centered leadership his life's work.

In 1996, Dr. Covey was recognized as one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans. He is the author of a number of acclaimed books, including the international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold more than 20 million copies in 40 languages throughout the world. Other bestsellers include First Things FirstPrinciple-Centered LeadershipThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, and The 8th Habit. His most recent books include The 3rd AlternativeThe Leader in Me, and Everyday Greatness.
In 2002, Forbes named The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the 10 most influential management books ever written. Chief Executive magazine recognized The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as one of the two most influential books of the 20th century. Dr. Covey received the Fatherhood Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative, was named Speaker of the Year, received the Sikh's International Man of Peace Award, and The National Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
In 1984, Dr. Covey made the decision to leave full-time teaching as a university professor to establish a business organization, Covey Leadership Center, that could take principle-centered leadership throughout the world. From the inception of that business, Dr. Covey's focus was always on writing and teaching, leaving the leadership and management of the business to others. In 1997, Covey Leadership Center merged with FranklinQuest, to form Franklin Covey Co.(NYSE:FC), a global performance improvement company that now operates in over 125 countries throughout the world. From the time of the merger to his retirement from the board last year, Dr. Covey devoted essentially all of his time and effort to writing and teaching.
To Stephen, more important than his professional work was his work with his family. Stephen was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and spent a considerable amount of time with his immediate and extended family, getting together for vacations, games, celebrations, birthdays, and events of all kinds, and having one-on-one time with each of his children and grandchildren, which he loved doing. Stephen truly believed that the greatest work we do is within the four walls of our own homes and was a model of a loving and committed husband and father to the end.
Bob Whitman, chairman and CEO of FranklinCovey, said, "We lost a dear friend today. Stephen was one of the world's great human beings. His impact is incalculable and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come. We extend our deepest condolences to Dr. Covey's family, his wife Sandra, their nine children and spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Stephen frequently referred to them as his greatest joy, inspiration, and most significant contribution and legacy to the world."
About Franklin Covey
Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE: FC) is a global company specializing in performance improvement. We help organizations achieve results that require a change in human behavior. Our expertise is in seven areas: leadership, execution, productivity, trust, sales performance, customer loyalty and education. Franklin Coveyclients have included 90 percent of the Fortune 100, more than 75 percent of the Fortune 500, thousands of small- and mid-sized businesses, as well as numerous government entities and educational institutions. Franklin Covey has more than 40 direct and licensee offices providing professional services in over 140 countries. For more information, visit
Source: Franklin Covey Co.
Franklin Covey Co.
Debra Lund, 801-244-4474

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Memory Retention & Forgetting Curve 07-18

Memory Retention and the Forgetting Curve
Brought to you by:

Is Higher Education doomed??? 07-18

College is still (mostly) worthwhile -- but our concept of higher education needs to change.

By Ryan Bradley, editor
FORTUNE -- A dire statistic, followed by a troubling fact: The cost of education has increased 550% since 1985; and the sector has, in the words of Coursera founder Daphne Koller, "not benefited at all from leveraging technology to reduce cost." Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company. It puts college courses online, for free. And, in just a year since its creation, it has registered 680,000 students in 43 courses offered by Princeton, Stanford, Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania. Today, the start-up announced another dozen universities are joining, which Koller says will add about 20 more courses by the fall.
So, can education be fixed? Or, following the example of Peter Thiel -- whose "20 Under 20" fellowship pays young entrepreneurs to eschew higher education -- is the system so broken it needs to be swept aside? Or is there, through Coursera and others like it, a new model emerging?
Thiel's pointed remarks on the dire state of education hung in the thin Aspen air like a sword of Damocles, prompting Washington Post chairman Don Graham to ask the education panel at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference if anyone agreed with the entrepreneur. "As somebody who watches over the public schools at a big city, I think [Thiel's message] is a nightmare. Am I wrong?"
"No," was the panelists collective reply -- with one key exception. Matt MacInnis, the founder and CEO of Inkling, which makes interactive books for iPads, pointedly asked, "Well, which college are you attending?" Adding: "You can't make a blanket statement that if you complete college, the return on investment is positive."
And there's the rub. As Koller pointed out, in higher education, "There aren't well defined metrics regarding ROI." Koller's vision, and Coursera's purpose, is to deliver education at scale. "I think that in 10 years you're going to see a much, much larger fraction of education being offered in this way," she said. And, with an influx of new courses and an expected user base of more than a million by year's end, she may be right.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Harvard Film Archive centennial moment 07-14

In 40 films, story of a screen great

Harvard festival covers rise of Paramount Pictures

By Corydon IrelandHarvard Staff WriterThursday, July 12, 2012
Marlon Brando, Cecil B. DeMille, Patricia Neal, Preston Sturges, John Wayne, Billy Wilder. Such names that dreams are made on. Cinema dreams.
Now you can dream deep. The Harvard Film Archive is celebrating a centennial moment in cinema history with a blockbuster film series July 13 through Sept. 3.
One hundred years ago today (July 12) the Famous Players Film Company aired its first production — an imported four-reeler starring Paris-born Sarah Bernhardt as Elizabeth I. It was the beginning of one of the most important movie studios in American history: Paramount Pictures, as it was so named by 1914.
"The Lost Weekend," a 1945 film directed by Billy Wilder, features Ray Milland as Don Birnem.
Paramount was the brainchild of Adolph Zukor, a Hungarian immigrant who by age 21 was already a wealthy New York furrier. He was also an early investor in nickelodeons, the 5-cent theaters popular in the first decade of the 20th century. Paramount — with co-founders Jesse L. Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille — helped establish an organizational template for the modern film business, combining production and distribution under one roof.
In 1912, part of the challenge was to lure famous stage actors into a novel, flickering, silent medium. Zukor bought the American rights to “La Reine Elisabeth” (“Queen Elizabeth”), an hourlong film whose main draw was Bernhardt — already 68, but the most famous actress of the 19th century. After that, well-known stage actors — the “famous players” of the company name — flocked to the new medium.
Paramount followed with a star system of its own, cultivating early screen legends like Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, and Douglas Fairbanks. The Harvard festival — 40 films in all — shows them off. The earliest, set for Aug. 26, is “The Cheat” (1915), starring 40-year-old Fannie Ward, whose eerily young looks later earned her the title “perennial flapper.” The most recent film in the series is “S.O.B.” (1981), a Blake Edwards vehicle starring Julie Andrews and, in his last film role, William Holden. Fittingly, it’s a spoof of Hollywood.
The 1966 film titled "Seconds," which was directed by John Frankenheimer, features Rock Hudson as Murray Hamilton.
The festival does not include Bernhardt’s gyrations and chest-clutching in “Elizabeth.” (You can see the whole film here.) But “The Cheat” is even a more perceptive choice. For one, it’s a melodrama that explored infidelity, sexual tension, and interracial romance — themes that Hollywood two decades later had to deal with in a more muted way.
In 1930, the Motion Picture Production Code banned film scenes involving profanity, nudity, drug use, and other forbidden subject matter. It also listed cautionary images, such as a man and a woman in bed together. On Sept. 1, the Harvard festival offers “Hot Saturday,” an all-night marathon of Paramount films shot in “pre-Code” Hollywood.
So brace for — among others — “White Woman,” “She Done Him Wrong,” and “The Wild Party.” The last is a 1929 Clara Bow vehicle set at an all-girl college, complete with a handsome professor (Fredric March) and a costume party with plenty of drinking.
The Harvard Film Archive series, “100 Years of Paramount Pictures,” runs July 13-Sept. 3 at 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. Ticket prices: general admission $9; non-Harvard students, $7; seniors citizens and Harvard students, faculty, and staff, free.

View at the original Source

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NASA Glory 07-11

A Glorious View

A layer of stratocumulus clouds over the Pacific Ocean served as the backdrop for this rainbow-like optical phenomenon known as a glory. Glories generally appear as concentric rings of color in front of mist or fog. They form when water droplets within clouds scatter sunlight back toward a source of illumination (in this case the Sun).

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired the image on June 21, 2012. The glory can be seen running in a north to south arc above the clouds west of the swirling von karman vortices that trail through the clouds on the lee side of Guadalupe Island. The image was saturation-enhanced to make the glory effect more visible.

Although glories may look similar to rainbows, the way light is scattered to produce them is different. Rainbows are formed by refraction and reflection; glories are formed by backward diffraction. The most vivid glories form when an observer looks down on thin clouds with droplets that are between 10 and 30 microns in diameter. The brightest and most colorful glories also form when droplets are roughly the same size.

From the ground or an airplane, glories appear as circular rings of color. The space shuttle Columbia observed a circular glory from space in 2003. In the image above, however, the glory does not appear circular. That’s because MODIS scans the Earth’s surface in swaths perpendicular to the path followed by the satellite. And since the swaths show horizontal cross sections through the rings of the glory, the glory here appears as two elongated bands of color that run parallel to the path of the satellite, rather than a full circle.

Glories always appear around the spot directly opposite the Sun, from the perspective of the viewer. This spot is called the anti-solar point. To visualize this, imagine a line connecting the Sun, a viewer, and the spot where the glory appears. In this case, the anti-solar point falls about halfway between the two colored lines of the glory. Glories are usually seen against a background of white clouds. Clouds are white because the sunlight is scattered many times by multiple droplets within the clouds. The white light often obscures details of glories, but without them in the background, the glory would not be visible.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Disrupt Yourself IV 07-08

4. Let your strategy emerge.Disruptive innovation also rests on what has been described as emergent strategy. Rather than performing detailed market analysis and developing a step-by-step plan to achieve a goal, disrupters are flexible. They take a step forward, gather feedback, and adapt accordingly. As Professor Amar Bhide at Columbia University has shown , 70% of all successful new businesses end up with a strategy different from the one they initially pursued. A well-known example is Netflix, which started as a door-to-door DVD rental service but now focuses on digital streaming of movies.
A parallel exists in disruptive careers. Because we’re not following traditional paths, we can’t always see the end from the beginning. As John D. Rockefeller wrote, “If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel worn paths of accepted success.” Crampton, the science teacher, never expected to become a marketer or an online entrepreneur. When Liz Brown was furiously billing hours and winning cases in her quest to make partner at her law firm, she never imagined she’d soon become executive director of Golden Seeds, an investing network for women entrepreneurs, and teaching law at Bentley University.
Another great example comes from Sabina Nawaz. As a young computer engineer at Microsoft, she was moving deftly up the corporate ranks, taking on increasing responsibility, and probably positioning herself for a coveted VP role. But after getting some positive feedback about her management skills and emotional intelligence (perhaps a disruptive strength in the software industry), Nawaz decided to disrupt herself.
“I had been moving up in a traditional step-function way and I knew the formula for success, but I no longer wanted the next title or promotion,” she recalls. “I wanted to stretch my boundaries.” She asked to move into a human resources role, which she held for almost six years. Then, rather than continuing to climb at Microsoft, she left to start a leadership development consultancy. That had never been her career ambition, but Nawaz let her strategy emerge.
The Engine Is You
According to Christensen’s research on disruptive innovation, when a company pursues growth in a new market rather than an established one, the odds of success are six times higher and the revenue potential 20 times greater. It’s impossible to quantify the effects of personal career disruption in the same way, but anecdotal evidence suggests it can yield similar results—dramatically improving your chances of finding financial, social, and emotional success.
The status quo has a powerful undertow, no doubt. Current stakeholders in your life and career will probably encourage you to avoid disruption. For many of us, though, holding steady really means slipping—as we ignore the threat of competition from younger, more agile innovators, bypass opportunities for greater reward, and sacrifice personal growth.
We give a lot of airtime to building, buying, and investing in disruptive companies. They are vital engines of economic growth. But the most overlooked economic engine is you. If you really want to move the world forward, you need to innovate on the inside—and disrupt yourself.

Disrupt Yourself III

2. Identify your disruptive strengths.When disruptive companies identify unmet needs, they make sure those needs match their distinctive strengths. They realize that market risk (trying and potentially failing at something new) is better than competitive risk (competing against entrenched, established players). A textbook example comes from the Mexican wireless telephony provider América Móvil. Instead of going head-to-head with the wire-line incumbent, it went after the more than 80% of the population who wanted to communicate but couldn’t afford a landline.
As you look to disrupt yourself, don’t think just about what you do well—think about what you do well that most others can’t. Those are your disruptive strengths. For example, I was a good financial analyst, but plenty of folks can build models. What people have said they value most about me is what psychologist Howard Gardner calls “searchlight intelligence”: the ability to discern connections across spheres and see opportunities for cross-pollination. Crampton was a good developer, but more notably he was a standout marketer in a world that required cross-functional fluency. Coughlin was successful at sales but exceptional at bringing customer focus to a small, entrepreneurial business.
Designer and strategist Adam Richardson discovered his disruptive strength early. In the 1990s, working at Sun Microsystems in his first job as an industrial designer, he realized that firsthand knowledge of customers’ needs was missing from many designers’ tool kits. He, by contrast, wasn’t the strongest stylist but was enthralled with market research and good at capturing it. (Consider that at age 6 he was sketching designs for cars; by age 9, he was surveying neighbors about their driving habits and measuring their car interiors.)
“I’m a good listener, and I like finding patterns in chaotic qualitative data,” he explains. He looked for a graduate program to help him hone those skills, but because popular ones like IIT, in Illinois, and Stanford’s Graduate School of Design didn’t exist then, he ended up cobbling together a course for himself via the University of Chicago’s self-directed Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. He veered from the traditional industrial design path to study anthropology, ethnography, sociology, cultural theory, and art history—disciplines that are now the bedrock of his work that blends design with customer insights and product strategy.
Consider also Gregory Sorensen, who resigned his positions as codirector of Massachusetts General Hospital’s biomedical imaging center and as a professor of radiology and health sciences at Harvard Medical School to become CEO of Siemens Healthcare North America. Sorensen was well established in his medical and academic career when he discovered that his particular strengths matched up well with the needs of Siemens. Sorensen wasn’t a salesman or a seasoned business executive, but he was a respected doctor who had deep knowledge of health care equipment and understood how to manage an organization. A few colleagues at Harvard and Mass General questioned his decision, but Sorensen embraced the disruption. He realized it would allow him to use his distinctive skills in a new, potentially more rewarding way.
3. Step back (or sideways) in order to grow.Just as a company’s survival depends on revenue growth, an individual’s well-being depends on learning and advancement. When organizations get too big, they stop exploring smaller, riskier but perhaps more lucrative markets because the resulting revenues won’t affect their bottom line enough. Just as Borders was slow to embrace e-commerce in the bookselling industry, where it had been successful, people who rise to a certain tier in their careers may allow themselves to plateau. Personal growth often stalls at the top of a classic S curve. Disrupters avoid that problem by jumping to a new role, industry, or type of organization and putting themselves on an entirely different growth trajectory.
Adam Richardson did just that when he quit his Sun Microsystems job to enroll in a graduate program unknown to people in his industry. So did Liz Brown, when she left her hard-won job as a law firm partner. And let’s not forget Clay Christensen, who at age 40 left a corporate career at a materials science company to pursue his doctorate at Harvard Business School. That “step down” allowed him to develop a theory that has changed the business world and has thrust him into an extremely successful career as a teacher, consultant, and investor.
Disrupting yourself doesn’t have to mean leaving your organization, however. Take IDEO executive Dave Blakely, who has been with the design consultancy for two decades but worked his way up in a decidedly unconventional manner. A software engineer with a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, he could have built a successful career in his core area of expertise, perhaps eventually moving to a similar role at another Silicon Valley firm or working his way up to manage technical staff. Instead, Blakely volunteered to become a project manager at IDEO. His peers dismissed the new job as an escape from the rigor and detail of engineering. But the backward move allowed Blakely to broaden his skills and get comfortable with a more diverse group of colleagues, including executives. He started climbing a new ladder and is now head of technology strategy at IDEO. Alex McClung, the health care executive with 15 job changes behind him, has had a similar experience. “The sideways moves accelerated my career by five years or more each time,” he says. “Sideways always turns into a slingshot.”

Disrupt Yourself II

Disrupt Yourself

by Whitney Johnson

Why Disrupt?
Not everyone has to abandon the traditional path, of course. Certainly if you’re working toward an ambitious and potentially achievable goal, such as managing a division at your firm or winning a C-suite job in your industry, disruption is unnecessary. You’re pursuing what Christensen callssustaining innovation:when a company gets better at what it’s already doing and provides more value to existing customers. But if as an individual you’ve reached a plateau or you suspect you won’t be happy at the top rung of the ladder you’re climbing, you should disrupt yourself for the same reasons that companies must.
First and foremost, you need to head off the competition. As you continue to improve along the dimensions of performance that the employment market has historically valued, you risk overshooting demands. What you do reliably, if not brilliantly well, can be done just as effectively by many peers—and perhaps more swiftly and affordably by up-and-comers.
Second, consider the greater rewards that disruption may bring. It’s true that disruptive innovation in business tends to start out as a low-cost alternative to existing products or services, and of course you don’t want to embrace a career strategy that reduces your own price point. But when you disrupt yourself, you vector to a new set of metrics. In some cases, you might initially take a pay cut in return for a steeper trajectory; after all, the endgame of disruption is higher demand for what you produce. In other cases, you might even boost your pay while still undercutting the competition in your new role, organization, or industry. Remember, too, that when it comes to personal disruption, compensation is not just financial. Psychological and social factors also matter.
Four Principles of Self-Disruption
As someone steeped in disruptive innovation, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how it applies to careers and discussing it with people whose peripatetic yet satisfying paths resemble my own. We all seem to follow four rules, loosely based on those that Christensen set out for businesses.
1. Target a need that can be met more effectively.A core principle of disruptive innovation is that customers control resource allocation and that they don’t buy products but instead “hire” them to fulfill a need. Disrupters look for needs that aren’t being met well. They play in markets where no one else is or wants to be. A classic example is A simple, inexpensive, cloud-based system—initially intended to service small and medium-size businesses—is now disrupting the leading providers of customer resource management software.
Martin Crampton’s real estate portal was also a disruptive venture. But his personal disruption started well before that launch, when he realized that marketing strategy, not development and sales, drives usage of software products. He seized the opportunity, thereby positioning himself for a series of big marketing jobs before his next disruptive move. Alex McClung targeted his own industry’s need for people who could move fluidly across functional borders, such as from science to finance and logistics to regulation. Then he sought roles in a variety of health care organizations, ranging from biotech start-up to Fortune500 pharmaceutical, that would help him develop those skills.
And there’s Heather Coughlin’s story of giving up an equity-sales VP position at Goldman Sachs to help launch Hudson Street, an independently operated subsidiary offering investment research to clients. The group was formed partly as a response to court settlements requiring that salespeople in big banks rely on more than just their in-house analysts’ reports. Coughlin got in on the ground floor not only because she thought demand for that service would grow—which it did—but also because she knew that the fledgling group needed someone with her deep experience to serve customers.
“Being cognizant of the world around me and rolling the tape forward was critical,” she explains. “I watched two downturns and lots of layoffs, and swore that I would always try to be one step ahead.” Many colleagues thought she was crazy to leave her comfortable perch for an amorphous role—and to let her pay and status take a hit. But the operating skills she built in helping to launch and run Hudson Street are what propelled her into a business development job—and ultimately the CEO’s seat—at Isis Parenting.

Disrupt Yourself 07-08

Disrupt Yourself

by Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson on disruptive innovation and your career path.
My career path has been an unusual one. I started as a secretary on Wall Street, worked my way up in my firm’s investment banking group, and then stepped back to become an equity research analyst. Eight years later, I quit that job to produce a TV show and write a children’s book, but I ended up blogging about work/life issues and cofounding a hedge fund backed by a man I’d met at church. It’s not what you’d call a traditional corporate trajectory. But perhaps that’s the new normal.
In the United States and many other developed, capitalist countries, the idea of a “company man” (or woman) with a job for life has long been outdated. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median job tenure for American workers age 25 or older has held steady at about five years since 1983, and for men it has slightly declined. Baby boomers born from 1957 through 1964 held 11 jobs, on average, between ages 18 and 44, says another BLS report. And studies tracking long-term employment from 1976 to 2006 paint a similar picture: The percentages of people who have been with their companies at least 10 and at least 20 years have fallen substantially.
Career change isn’t as easily documented, because it’s harder to define than a job switch. But many economists and sociologists think that these bigger shifts are becoming more common, and case studies to support that hypothesis abound.
Consider Martin Crampton, a former research scientist and math teacher from Australia. He parlayed a stint as a developer and demo specialist for a software company in Melbourne into a decade-long marketing career, first at the software firm and then at two multinational manufacturing companies (Bic and Stihl), before starting his own consultancy. In 1993 he leapt into another profession and, with his partner, created Australia’s first national real estate portal (before Crampton later sold that business and started another one that focused on online services. He currently works on ventures involving franchised data and social media.
Then there’s Liz Brown, once a hard-charging law firm partner who left Fish & Richardson to become executive director of an angel investment network and a professor; Alex McClung, whose 23-year career has spanned 15 diverse roles at six different health care companies; and Heather Coughlin, who started her career in equity sales at Goldman Sachs, helped it launch a third-party research subsidiary, and is now CEO of a mother-and-baby support, education, and retail chain.
It’s hard to make sense of seemingly wanton—yet ultimately rewarding—career choices like those, until you consider the theories of the man I met in church: Clayton M. Christensen.
As HBR readers well know, Christensen is the father of disruptive innovation —the idea that the most successful innovations are those that create new markets and value networks, thereby upending existing ones. Volumes of research and evidence show how disruptive thinking improves the odds of success for products, companies, even countries. Our investment fund focuses on disruptive stocks, and it has outperformed relevant indices by a sizable margin over the past decade.
I believe that disruption can also work on a personal level, not just for entrepreneurs who launch disruptive companies but for people who work within and move between organizations. Zigzagging career paths may be common now, but the people who zigzag best don’t do it randomly.