Hint: Think like an executive

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One of the most common questions I get as a technology strategist is: how do we communicate the value of a new solution or promising technology…especially to executives who don’t necessarily “get” technology?

The question usually comes from a frustrated manager or salesperson who has tried — and largely failed — to secure a budget for a significant technology investment because the (seemingly) irresistible force of their tech-centered sales pitch met the immovable object of the executive team’s results-obsessed mindset.

What they discovered is that selling technology on its capabilities as opposed to its business value are two very different…

Non-fiction writing practices distilled from the pages of Harvard Business Review

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Non-fiction writing, much like fiction, requires structure to be effective.

In fiction, the most common structure is the three-act narrative. Act 1 is the setup where the characters and the setting are introduced. Act 2 is the midpoint where the characters encounter an incident or problem. Act 3 is the resolution where the plot reaches its climax, and the story concludes.

The three-part structure works because it’s how our minds work. To engage in a story, we need first to understand the characters and the premise of the story. …

Use this classic economics concept to help guide your career.

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At some point in your career, you’ll face a common dilemma: do you spend your time working on your weaknesses, hustling to become a more well-rounded professional? Or do you double down on your strengths and cement yourself as an expert in your field?

Current research reveals two schools of thought. The first is the weakness-focused group. This is probably the most intuitive philosophy for career- or self-improvement — look at where you fall short and make improvements. The assumption is that fixing your weaknesses will lead to better career prospects, more money, and a happier life.

The downside of…

If you can’t answer “where”, you’re in trouble

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Location — in good times, it’s an important factor in most business decisions. With Covid-19, it has become essential — and the change is permanent.

The interests and assets of most organizations — especially those with large, global footprints — vary significantly by location. Whether it’s customer spending habits, shipping routes, or facility conditions, the factors that impact a company’s fortunes differ in character and complexity from place to place.

At the best of times, contending with geographic diversity is challenging. Businesses require relevant location information — often at local, regional, and international scales — to run their business. …

Use the tools of the strategy pros to create the life you want.

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For years, I had assumed I was living my “best life”. I had a decent career, great family, clean health. I ticked most of the boxes.

But was it the best it could be? The truth is, I had no idea — because I didn’t know what it meant to experience my “best life”.

It’s ironic because as a management consultant, my job is to help businesses achieve their goals. And I constantly preach that success is not an accident — it’s the result of a clear vision and a winning strategy.

When it came to my most important assignment…

It starts with compassion and builds from there.

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“Do you love me? How do you know?”

If you’re in a relationship or have been in a relationship, you’ve heard those two questions.

How did you answer? Was it memorable? Forgettable? Maybe even regrettable?

I can tell you my response. To my wife of 11 years, mother of my two sons, the woman with whom I’ve been through countless ups and downs, I responded with an incredulous “of course I do!” followed by an indignant “I don’t know how I just do!” for good measure.

And that’s been my go-to answer for 11 years.

The truth is, I do…

You can’t want it more than they do.

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I’ve always hoped my kids would play hockey, but I didn’t count on becoming “that” hockey parent in the process.

Over the years, I’ve been a coach and dealt with my share of overzealous parents. I figured when it came to my kids, I’d enthusiastically cheer from the sidelines and avoid the all-consuming politics of youth sports. I was wrong. I’m now an actively — sometimes reluctantly — recovering type-A sports parent.

I have two sons, both who love hockey. They have other interests too, but in Canada — where we live — other interests come second. In a country…

How I discovered the one life habit that put the rest in place

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About a year ago, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish every day.

I had read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and I was intrigued by the idea that a set of small, daily habits could raise my productivity. I had been struggling with a lot of lazy hours in front of the computer screen, and really needed a boost.

The premise of the book is that productivity stems from how well you ingrain good habits into your life. …

Lessons from economics applied to your working life

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Larry Page, the visionary co-founder of Google, regularly cut dozens of projects from the company roster because he felt unnecessary “busy work” was a constant threat to his team’s productivity. Performance guru, Dr Jason Selk, observed the same phenomenon with sports teams and startups: “…I have seen so many people exhaust themselves completing tasks that have little to no impact on their success.”

Innovators like Page and Selk believe that the source of long-term success is not blind hard work, but how you prioritize value-creating work. For a business, this means focusing on activities that create a competitive advantage. For…

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis of unprecedented scale. And while it’s first and foremost a public health emergency, the threat to businesses is also very real.

Stores have closed or suspended operations. Workers have been laid off or forced to reduce hours. Customers have been left stranded. Business as usual is not business as usual. It won’t be for some time.

Leaders face a pair of existential questions: How do we survive under such turbulent conditions? …

Matt Lewin

Management consultant and technology strategist. I write about working life and personal growth. Director at Esri Canada

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