Short Term vs.Long Term--What Really Works Best!!

All too often, whether you are playing the stock market or you are in business, you are confronted with the question of what is best.   Is it best going for the short term and getting those short term wins and not caring about how it effects your workers, and so forth or strategizing for the long term advantages.  An article today (December 27, 2016) in the Wall Street Journal about a study by two noted professors suggests that long-term has the potential.  The two professors hail from Boston University's Questrom School of Business and the University of Western Ontario's Ivey Business School.  Authors Caroline Flammer and Pratima Bansal, respectively, wrote "Does a Long-Term Orientation Create Value?"

This article is slated to be published in a coming issue of Strategic Management Journal.  A summation can be found in the WSJ article which I have appended to this post.  In companies where long-term executive incentive proposals were approved versus those rejected, the share prices jumped 1.14% on the day the measures passed.  Further details in the article and the study should provide you with fascinating reading.




Hi All--This is not a traditional post, but I wanted you to all to check out my new re-formulated web site at  It was done with the outstanding help of the design team at  I am really excited about it.  Still some work to do, but not enough to keep it from the world. 



I am just now coming across an article in Huffington Post called "Procrastination and Productivity: What Helps and What Hurts."  It was posted by Sarah Klein.

earlier this year; but with my procrastination I am just now getting to it.

One of the main sentences that struck me was "regular breaks throughout the day even just in increments of a few short minutes at a time, can improve focus, productivity and creativity, according to a 2011 study.    The study Klein refers to is one by Alejandro Lleras, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Lleras claims that "at any point of time you have multiple concerns or thoughts you could be having.  It's difficult to maintain one particular (focus) for a long period of time.  If you break that pattern and force yourself to think of something else very briefly, when you go back to your task you get a refreshed focus." 

Well, all of this seems very nice, neat and a bit too pat for me.  I guess I'm too much of a cynic and perhaps too much of a procrastinator myself to believe it could be that easy.  Of course, the logic is there, but it was too simple.  So I decided to do my own (unquestionably unscientific study) on this.  I have been putting off a very specific task and procrastinating about this project for far too long.  My own web-site developer would only agree full spades with this.  If she is reading this, I am sure she would agree unquestionably.  So I decided to take this project and try and follow Dr. Lleras's advice to see if it worked.  Now in preparation for this experiment, I also read Sarah Klein's complete post in Huffington Post for which the complete link is provided above. 

The experiment starts...............

The rules I established were 1) I would stop every 60 minutes or sooner, so I set a timer on my iPhone to ring every 60 minutes at a minimum.  I took a walk around the house or read an article in today's New York Times, just to break things up., 2) I had my normal music on.  A shuffle from iCloud which is a mix of everything from classical to rock to vocal jazz to Broadway,  and 3)  I stayed at my desk with my normal working chair.

The experiment ended...........

I finished a significant segment of the work I needed to do quicker and easier than I expected.  I think the quality is pretty decent.  I'll wait to hear what my harried web developer says about that. 

So perhaps there is something to what Dr. Lleras and Ms. Klein have written and posted.

Procrastinators give it a chance.  You might end up being more productive and wouldn't that be novel!!!


The Long Lost Leadership in the Illinois Legislature -- Part 2

Some recent news for those of you following the goings-on in Springfield.  The governor, Pat Quinn has made a slight step in the right direction, calling the Illinois state lawmakers back to the capitol for a special session on June 19th. 

His impetus,  Fitch Ratings cut the state's credit ratings Monday and Moody's Investors Service did the same on Thursday.  It is now official, Illinois has the lowest rating among all of the U.S. states per the Wall Street Journal, with Moody's analysts quoted as saying the "legislature's political paralysis to date shows not only the magnitude of Illinois' unfunded benefit liabilities, but also the legal and political hurdles to legislation."   In plain speak, they're all a bunch of idiots!!  My interpretation of course. 

This shortfall currently amounts to $96.8 billion dollars.  That's right $96.8 billion dollars and the legislatures left without resolving it at the end of their term rather kicking the can further down the alley and not fixing the problem.  I guess their vacations were more important.  Now if the Governor had acted as the leader he should have, he would have done something similar to the approach I made in Part 1 of this blog.  He should have taken Messers Madigan and Cullerton into a room, locked the door and chained them to the table, not allowing them out until they came to a reasonable, fair compromise to this fiscal nightmare. 

That's what a leader would have done!  But no, not this bunch of clowns.  Now instead the taxpayers have to fund a special session of the legislature, because these three politicos could not get their act together.  I wonder how much this session is going to cost the taxpayers.  Maybe we should make Quinn, Cullerton and Madigan pay for it out of their own pockets.  I can only wonder what they would think of that proposal. 

The Long Lost Leadership in the Illinois Legislature -- Part 1

Well you probably expected something on productivity, and yes you are going to get something on productivity.  The effect that terrible leadership has on productivity...the productivity of legislators. 
Many of you may or may not know about the scandalous situation that has recently occurred in Springfield, Illinois as the end of the term of the Illinois Legislature came to a conclusion.  The primary leaders we are going to talk about are the President of the Illinois State Senate John Cullerton (D), the Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) and the Governor Pat Quinn (D). 

For those of you not familiar with the situation, the legislature provided neither the broad pension changes needed in the state, nor the gambling expansion requested, nor the efforts to make Illinois the 13th state to approve marriage equality and so on and so forth.  Madigan who has been in the House since 1971 was quoted in the Chicago Tribune: "Obviously, this is a session where we have not enjoyed a great deal of success."  Cullerton was apparently keeping his head out of the line of fire!!  At least he and his Senate colleagues had approved the Marriage Equality Bill earlier in the year.

Now what many of you may not know is that both legislative bodies have majorities that are Democratic, and they hold large majorities.  The House is even held by a super majority of 71 Democratic seats out of 118.  So there was no call for this mess to have even occurred.  The Republicans were right when one of them was quoted in the same article by saying: "To me, it is an absolute damning failure of leadership that you have the largest majorities for one party in modern Illinois history and they can't come together and solve the biggest problem facing the state in a generation." said state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican.  What makes this particular blog so damn difficult to write is that I tend to vote for the most part as a Democrat and these guys are an embarrassment to me and my generation, as well as to others, no doubt. 

While there is a whole host of issues such as marriage equality that should have been dealt with by one or both of these houses, the biggest failure is no doubt the lack of reform to the pension issue.  Every day the taxpayers of Illinois pay $17 million dollars/day while we wait for this matter to be resolved; we hold the distinction of being the worst run state from a financial perspective of all of the states in the union because of the pension problem; we can't even pay the majority of our current accounts payable.  That isn't to say that there are proposals.  Madigan has his proposals which the unions assail.  Cullerton has his proposal which effectively they love by comparison.  Neither it appears will give ground on their proposal, so the taxpayers of Illinois get screwed by these leaders.

There is an old Irish adage:

                                       "When you come upon a wall,
                                         throw your hat over it,
                                         and then go get your hat."

Seems that these gentlemen (if you can call them that) reached the brick wall but were unable, incapable or not smart enough to throw their hat over the wall and then go get it and find some way to compromise and get this matter resolved.  This controversy just continues draining the taxpayer of more and more money each and every day.  Perhaps the governor should have taken them into a room, locked the door, chained them to the table and told them no one was leaving until we had a workable solution to this and the other pending matters before the legislature.  Now that would be leadership!!!

Do Your Destroy Your Employee's Work Life?

It's been a few years since the book and movie that made the fire-breathing Miranda Priestly come alive.  Meryl Street made her show us just how terrible this type of employer can be in the 2006 film, "The Devil Wears Prada" and Lauren Weisberger in her 2003 book brought her to life originally.  If you saw the movie, just think back to some of the more juicy scenes where Streep would literally tear the head off of the poor new hire played by Anne Hathaway. 

How many bosses are there just like that out there in this world even today?  I daresay more than we want to admit to and literally more than they themselves realize.  And do they realize what they are doing to the people who work for and with them?  To their work lives?  To their personal lives?  To their producitivty and that of their firm?  Again, I doubt it and probably in most cases, I doubt they care.  A recent article in "The Washington Post" brings this subject up again.  Written by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, the article is "How To Completely, Utterly Destroy an Employee's Work Life" and I have linked and included it below:

How to completely, utterly destroy an employee’s work life

By Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer,

Recall your worst day at work, when events of the day left you frustrated, unmotivated by the job, and brimming with disdain for your boss and your organization. That day is probably unforgettable. But do you know exactly how your boss was able to make it so horrible for you? Our research provides insight into the precise levers you can use to re-create that sort of memorable experience for your own underlings.
Over the past 15 years, we have studied what makes people happy and engaged at work. In discovering the answer, we also learned a lot about misery at work. Our research method was pretty straightforward. We collected confidential electronic diaries from 238 professionals in seven companies, each day for several months. All told, those diaries described nearly 12,000 days – how people felt, and the events that stood out in their minds. Systematically analyzing those diaries, we compared the events occurring on the best days with those on the worst.
What we discovered is that the key factor you can use to make employees miserable on the job is to simply keep them from making progress in meaningful work.
People want to make a valuable contribution, and feel great when they make progress toward doing so. Knowing this progress principle is the first step to knowing how to destroy an employee’s work life. Many leaders, from team managers to CEOs, are already surprisingly expert at smothering employee engagement. In fact, on one-third of those 12,000 days, the person writing the diary was either unhappy at work, demotivated by the work, or both.
That’s pretty efficient work-life demolition, but it leaves room for improvement.
Step 1: Never allow pride of accomplishment. When we analyzed the events occurring on people’s very worst days at the office, one thing stood out: setbacks. Setbacks are any instances where employees feel stalled in their most important work or unable to make any meaningful contribution. So, at every turn, stymie employees’ desire to make a difference. One of the most effective examples we saw was a head of product development, who routinely moved people on and off projects like chess pieces in a game for which only he had the rules.
The next step follows organically from the first.
Step 2: Miss no opportunity to block progress on employees’ projects. Every day, you’ll see dozens of ways to inhibit substantial forward movement on your subordinates’ most important efforts. Goal-setting is a great place to start. Give conflicting goals, change them as frequently as possible, and allow people no autonomy in meeting them. If you get this formula just right, the destructive effects on motivation and performance can be truly dramatic.
Step 3: Give yourself some credit. You’re probably already doing many of these things, and don’t even realize it. That’s okay. In fact, unawareness is one of the trademarks of managers who are most effective at destroying employees’ work lives. As far as we could tell from talking with them or reading their own diaries, they generally thought their employees were doing just fine – or that “bad morale” was due to the employees’ unfortunate personalities or poor work ethics. Rarely did they give themselves credit for how much their own words and actions made it impossible for people to get a sense of accomplishment. You may be better at this than you think!
Step 4: Kill the messengers. Finally, if you do get wind of problems in the trenches, deny, deny, deny. And if possible, strike back. Here’s a great example from our research. In an open Q&A with one company’s chief operating officer, an employee asked about the morale problem and got this answer: “There is no morale problem in this company. And, for anybody who thinks there is, we have a nice big bus waiting outside to take you wherever you want to look for work.”
A good quote to keep in your back pocket.
Teresa Amabile is a professor and director of research at Harvard Business School. Steven Kramer is a developmental psychologist and researcher. They are coauthors of The Progress Principle.

© The Washington Post Company

Amabile and Kramer have done a great job in taking a vast amount of data and summarizing it for the purposes of their study.  They attempt to show what de-motivates the average worker in regard to the precise things that trigger destructive attitudes from their bosses.  Their four points may seem over-simplified, but they are not.  They are just getting to the bottom line of the things you and I dislike and always will hate about employers who treat us in a less than acceptable manner and destroy our lifes.  Thus, making us that much less productive, which is the whole idea of this blog.  So if you're an employer, and you haven't seen this movie, I suggest you see it.  Then read Amabile and Kramer's book and think about what kind of company you want, one in which you are feared and loathed or one in which you are respected.



The Wall Street Journal had a tremendous lead-off piece on their "Journal Report" this week on Monday, April 2, 2012.  It was entitled "Employees, Measure Yourselves."  The introductory picture for this article needs to be seen to be understood, so I have included the link and the article below, but as part of the picture in the newspaper version, 5 questions are asked as part of the picture, that are NOT  included in the picture below as part of the digitized version.  These questions are:
  •      "How much time do I spend on Facebook?
  •      How's my pulse when I get close to a deadline?
  •      How often am I distracted?
  •      Does my work improve when I sleep better?
  •      Do I get more done if I exercise before work?"    
All great questions which we would want to know if we are interested in our productivity.  I know I certainly would.  The article when you read it goes on to point out that there are software tools available right now that can provide this information to you if you want it, but typically they are available through your company.  Many people might see this as 1984 and big brother watching over your shoulder.  The article points out that already the vast majority of companies that are technology or office focused probably measure how much you work through various techniques, such as, the number of key strokes you make or taking screenshots throughout the day, etc. 

These pieces of software claim to be different and the approach in their use is different as well.  The thought here is that the worker "WANT" this software, rather than the boss DEMANDING that you use it.  You want the information on your own productivity that the software provides so that you apparently take corrective action on your own.  Read the article and let me know what you think!!
The link and article follows. 


The Wall Street Journal

Employees, Measure Yourselves

Encouraging workers to keep track of what they're doing can make them healthier and more productive

Imagine how much better workers could do their jobs if they knew exactly how they spend their day.
Suppose they could get a breakdown of how much time they spend actually working on their computer, as opposed to surfing the Web. Suppose they could tell how much an afternoon workout boosts their productivity, or how much a stressful meeting raises their heart rate.
Thanks to a new wave of technologies called auto-analytics, they can do just that. These devices—from computer software and smartphone apps to gadgets that you wear—let users gather data about what they do at work, analyze that information and use it to do their job better. They give workers a fascinating window into the unseen, unconscious little things that can make such a big difference in their daily work lives. And by encouraging workers to start tracking their own activities—something many already are doing on their own—companies can end up with big improvements in job performance, satisfaction and possibly even well-being.
[LECOVER] Viktor Koen
The key word here is encouragement. It is not the same as insistence. Bosses should be careful to stay out of workers' way, letting employees experiment at their own pace and find their own solutions. They should offer them plenty of privacy safeguards along the way. Too much managerial interference could make the programs seem like Big Brother and dissuade workers from signing on. There's a big difference between employees wanting to measure themselves, and bosses demanding it.
Here's a look at three areas of auto-analytics that are gaining followers in the workplace—and that merit encouragement from managers.
Tracking Screen Time
Many companies monitor what their employees are doing on the computer all day, by watching network traffic or even taking screenshots at random times. But all that oversight is designed to make sure people aren't slacking off; it doesn't help them figure out how to do their jobs better. And besides, a lot of workers probably think it's kind of creepy to have someone watching over their shoulder.
On the other hand, workers are a lot more comfortable with close scrutiny when they're the ones doing the watching.
People are signing on in droves to a new technology called knowledge workload tracking—recording how you use your computer. Software like RescueTime measures things like how long you spend on an open window, how long you're idle and how often you switch from one window to another. The software turns all those measurements into charts so you can see where you're spending your time. From there, you can set up automatic alerts to keep yourself away from distractions; you might send yourself a message if you, say, spend too much time on Twitter.
Programs like these also let you look a lot deeper into your behavior. One employee I observed saw that he got a lot more done when he switched tasks at set intervals. So he had the software remind him to change things up every 20 minutes. (He also set up an algorithm that suggested the best activity to do next.)
Another employee, a programmer, thought his online chats were eating into his work time. So he tested the theory: He looked at how long he spent chatting during certain periods, then looked at how much code he wrote during those times. But in fact, the more he talked, the more code he wrote. Gabbing online with colleagues and customers helped his work.
Again, though, companies need to use a light touch in encouraging employees: Many workers might be reluctant to track what they do if they think the company might get access to the information, or use it against them. Companies should emphasize that this type of software usually comes with lots of privacy controls. Workers can often store their data in the cloud, for instance, or locally on their machines. In some cases, they can pause tracking and delete pieces of personal data they choose. Likewise, they can also create a list of sites that they want to track by name and label all the other sites they visit as generic.
Collecting Thoughts
Tracking clicks and keystrokes is one thing. But another set of tools goes one step deeper and lets employees track their mental performance—and maybe even improve it.
These tools come in a variety of styles. For example, there's Lumosity, from Lumos Labs Inc., an online system that serves up games employees can play during downtime at work. The games promise to develop memory, thinking speed, attention and problem-solving abilities.
You might have to sort a batch of words into two piles depending on whether or not they follow a certain rule. Or you might be presented with two equations and have to figure if the one on the left is greater than, less than or equal to the one on the right. The software will feed you tougher challenges once you've mastered one level of difficulty.
So far, that might not sound much different than other games you might play at the office. (Minesweeper, anyone?) The difference is tracking. The games offer a scorecard of your performance and let you follow changes in performance over time, so you can see if you're getting better or backsliding. You can also choose what skills you want to improve. If you're having trouble remembering things, for instance, you might ask for memory-boosting games. So, while it may seem like just another game, it can home in on skills you're trying to sharpen for work—and improve them.
Another set of tools promises to help with a couple of age-old problems: forgetting ideas or the context in which you thought of them (or having so many of them you can't decide which will work best for the task at hand).
The method, called cognitive mapping, powers software like TheBrain, from TheBrain Technologies LP. When you get an idea related to work, you type it into the software on your desktop or mobile device. You place it near related ideas by clicking on a visual map that shows clusters of concepts grouped together by category like constellations on your screen.
Let's say your job is designing products for a household-goods company, and you get an idea about a new kind of sponge. You might click on the cluster of ideas for kitchen-cleaning products, which covers mops and paper towels as well as sponges. Then you'd click on the smaller cluster of ideas about sponges and type in your new notion. You'd also be able to attach things like links to websites, photos and meeting notes.
Later on, if you need to come up with some ideas in a particular area, you might type in a few search terms to see the thoughts you've had on the topic and the clusters of ideas and information you originally associated with those terms. Thus, you not only have a historical record of your thoughts, but also detailed insight into the context in which they were created.
As with knowledge workload tracking, employers should encourage workers to use these systems and give them freedom to experiment. But companies can probably be more active in pushing these products, since they don't have the same Big Brother associations as tracking work. So managers might buy subscriptions for influential employees who can help seed interest across the company. If they think it's warranted, managers might even buy companywide subscriptions, as they do for other types of software.
The Physical Side
There's one area where employers are already doing a lot to encourage workers to track themselves: company-sponsored wellness programs. More than two-thirds of companies around the world run wellness programs, and self-tracking tools are fast becoming a common feature.
Usually, the third-party companies that manage the programs give workers tracking devices that can synch up with an external database through a smartphone or work computer. That way, employees can crunch their own data and come up with options for improving health and job performance.
For instance, you might wear a device like Jawbone's UP wristband, which tracks sleep quantity and quality. You could then analyze your data to see how different amounts of sleep affect your work. Do you close more sales on days when you get more quality sleep? Or do you post better numbers when you sacrifice some shut-eye to entertain clients until all hours?
Another approach is tracking how your body works over the course of a workday with a tool such as the emWave2, from HeartMath LLC, which monitors your pulse. You can then look at your stats on a desktop dashboard to see, for instance, what sorts of situations cause you the most stress. The program can then recommend ways to reduce anxiety, such as breathing techniques that can help you reduce your heart rate during a big presentation.
Tracking things at this intimate level might set off all sorts of alarm bells for workers. Many might wonder if an employer could get hold of the information and use it against them. So bosses should ensure that workers have the chance to encrypt or otherwise protect their data.
Mr. Wilson is senior researcher at Babson Executive Education. He can be reached at
A version of this article appeared April 2, 2012, on page R1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Employees, Measure Yourselves.
Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved