What’s going on is that without some kind of direct experience to use as a touchstone, people don’t have the context that gives them a place in their minds to put the things you are telling them. The things you say often don’t stick, and the few things that do stick are often distorted. Also, most people aren’t very good at visualizing hypotheticals, at imagining what something they haven’t experienced might be like, or even what something they have experienced might be like if it were somewhat different.

Time is seen in a particularly different light by Eastern and Western cultures, and even within these groupings assumes quite dissimilar aspects from country to country.

A good software architect, as well as a good project manager, doesn’t need meetings and never organizes them.

Meetings demotivate, waste time, burn money, and degrade quality. But more about that later. For now, let’s discuss a proposed alternative.

This is not to say that skill doesn’t matter — merely that in a competition in which all the leaders are highly skilled, randomness may explain the difference between triumph and failure. Good luck plus skill beats bad luck plus skill any time.

Standing out, rather than fitting in, could in fact be the smarter route to success. A phrase coined in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014, the “red sneaker effect”, revealed we confer higher status and competence on mavericks versus conformists.

So we often perceive someone wearing clothing that deviates from the norm in professional settings as having higher ability, rank and respect than colleagues who conform to dress codes.

This is because diverging from the norm signals you have autonomy and can bear the cost of nonconformity – even if it costs you your job.


But she found that in collective cultures,such as East Asia and Latin America, people prefer norm followers as leaders, because they may prioritise organisational goals over their own.

I’ve never stepped into a leadership role without it quickly becoming clear why a new leader was needed. I think it’s normal for companies to hire new leaders when there are problems that need to be addressed. So I suspect that as the congratulations die down, it’s also normal to look at the set of problems that surround you and ask, “Where do I begin?” (also normal: “What have I done?!”). I suggest instead starting with these two questions:

  • How do I create clarity?
  • How do I create capacity?

A lot of evidence suggests that in cases of this kind, employers will stubbornly trust their intuitions — and are badly mistaken to do so. Specific aptitude tests turn out to be highly predictive of performance in sales, and general intelligence tests are almost as good. Interviews are far less useful at telling you who will succeed.

ADKAR is a research-based, individual change model that represents the five milestones an individual must achieve in order to change successfully. ADKAR creates a powerful internal language for change and gives leaders a framework for helping people embrace and adopt changes.

“Japan’s population continues to be concentrated in Tokyo,” Ishiba said. “This concentration in the nation’s capital of people, products and wealth is likely the world’s most dangerous situation.”

But after living in Japan on and off for a quite a few years, I think I've identified a general feature of Japanese culture that does lend itself more or less to blanket statements. And - even more surprisingly - it's one that I suspect may be holding Japan's economy and society back in significant ways.

Basically, Japanese culture is too averse to argument.

To see what I mean, try to start an intellectual debate with a Japanese person at a house party, bar, or coffee shop. Chances are that the reaction will be immediate discomfort - looking away, changing the subject, or just not saying anything. Often, Japanese people react to attempts at argument as if they expect you to physically assault them any moment. Many times I've tried cheerfully to debate some assertion a Japanese friend made (just as I would have done in my college dorm), only to have them ask: "Why are you upset?"

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