Archive for February, 2010


Seen at Marca.com.


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Innovate or die!

The Joy of Tech Comic

Originally published at The Joy of Tech.

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Originally published at PHD Comics.

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There are lessons to be learned in the most unexpected occasions. Last week Banco Espírito Santo came on campus for a corporate presentation integrated in the Banking industry week organized by the Lisbon MBA Career Management Center. They had a great presentation, led by Pedro Raposo, their Human Resources Director, one of those guys that really makes you want to be on his team. Enthusiastic, poised, candid and to-the-point. He reminded us that in these rough times people should be having a fresh look at their priorities. Then he told us about the “formula of hapiness”:

Simply put, your actual hapiness equals your real hapiness divided by your expected happiness. Your actual happiness will tend to infinite as your expectations of happiness tend to zero. The bigger your expectations… well, you do the math.

This concept is extremely useful from a leadership perspective, as it can be applied to the happiness of the people you lead (and this does not exclusively mean the people who report to you in a job function). The more you understand and appropriately manage their expectations, the bigger your power to maximize their happiness. As a leader, your own happiness is a function of their happiness, so you will be increasing the value of your numerator as well – we may call it the compound happiness effect. Something you can’t get from a bank account.

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Anyone who has been through an MBA program will tell you how challenging it is in terms of time and stress management. It is well known that top business schools design their programs to be demanding enough so that they adequately prepare the class to deal with stressful situations and heavy workload in their future careers.

A former Lisbon MBA student, with whom I spoke before enrolling, compared her early experience in the program to being a recruit in the special forces. After these initial 4 weeks I am in a much better position to understand the comparison. Of course I’ve had my share of 100-hour weeks during my life as an IT consultant, and it helps having recently been responsible for a team of 15 CRM support analysts scattered around 4 continents, with back-to-back conference calls with demanding customers in Sydney, Kobe, London, Madrid, Mexico City and São Paulo, an ever-full email inbox and enough air miles to redeem for space travel. Nevertheless, I am now feeling the stress of preparing case studies, homework, playing a real-time on-line inventory management simulation, having group discussions, preparing a marketing plan (all happening simultaneously), and lack of time to read class materials and books required for the end-of-term exams in 2 weeks time. Sleep deprivation is weighting down on me, and on top of it I came forward as a candidate for the students’ committee, which will require some additional effort in case I am elected.

I am fortunate to have worked in enough projects requiring organizational change management to become familiar with John Fisher’s process of transition, or the change curve for short. This is a model partially based on Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief, and often used to prepare individuals to cope with change processes in their function or organization, with the objective of minimizing resistance to change and its associated negative effects.
The Process of Transition

Understanding the model and being able to recognize the stage at which one is during the change process can be extremely encouraging, as going through the “valley of despair” requires significant emotional support in order to avoid the most common escape mechanisms. I stared at this picture for quite a while this week, and keep reminding myself how great that uphill ride is going to feel.

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