-by Josh Linkner. A surprisingly simple approach to help everyday people become everyday innovators. The pressure to generate big ideas can feel overwhelming. We know that bold innovations are critical in these disruptive and competitive times, but when it comes to breakthrough thinking, we often freeze up. Instead of shooting for a $10-billion payday or a Nobel Prize, the most prolific innovators focus on Big Little Breakthroughs—small creative acts that unlock massive rewards over time. By cultivating daily micro-innovations, individuals and organizations are better equipped to tackle tough challenges and seize transformational opportunities. How did a convicted drug dealer launch and scale a massively successful fitness company? What core mindset drove LEGO to become the largest toy company in the world? How did a Pakistani couple challenge the global athletic shoe industry? What simple habits led Lady Gaga, Banksy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda to their remarkable success? Big Little Breakthroughs isn’t just for propeller-head inventors, fancy-pants CEOs, or hoodie-donning tech billionaires. Rather, it’s a surpassingly simple system to help everyday people become everyday innovators.
Unlike most US presidents, Joe Biden did not come to the White House with many fixed ideological positions. He did, however, come with fixed values. Chief among them is understanding how US policies impact working American families. In his nearly half century of experience in and around Washington, Biden was known to ask any staffers using academic or elitist language to pick up your phone, call your mother, read her what you just told me […] If she understands, we can keep talking. The debate about the nearly 20-year US presence in Afghanistan has challenged three prior US presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Yet Biden, as the first US president in 40 years to have had a child who served in combat, sees things differently. There undoubtedly remains a strategic argument — albeit shared by increasingly fewer Americans — for maintaining a US presence in Afghanistan. Namely, that it would continue to prevent terrorists from once again making safe haven there. But Biden’s announcement that he would withdraw the remaining US troops by September essentially meant he saw no way of making the parent of another soldier killed in Afghanistan understand such an argument. As he said, Our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan have become increasingly unclear. Shifting US support for the war Today, most Americans agree with him. When the longest war in American history began, 83% of Americans were in favour of it. But by 2019, 41% of Americans simply had no opinion on whether the US had accomplished its goals in Afghanistan. Perhaps clearer than the US rationale for maintaining troops in Afghanistan is the fact Americans are dramatically less concerned about terrorism than they were 20 years ago. One month after the September 11, 2001, attacks, 71% of Americans said they were worried about a terror attack. But by July 2020, terrorism ranked last in […]
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared Australia will withdraw its remaining 80 troops from Afghanistan by September, marking the end of its longest involvement in a war. This follows President Joe Biden announcing the United States will leave Afghanistan by September. The path to this point has appeared inevitable for years. Ten years ago, journalist Karen Middleton highlighted the futility of the counterinsurgency campaign in her aptly-titled book, An Unwinnable War. High hopes dashed Back in 2001, it all seemed so different. Only weeks after the September 11 attacks, Australian special forces deployed to southern Afghanistan alongside US, Canadian, British and other NATO troops to defeat al-Qaeda, who was hosted by the then-Afghan government, known as the Taliban. After dusting off their boots and leaving in early 2002, Australian forces were drawn back in 2005 with a special forces task group. This was followed by an engineering reconstruction task force that over time morphed into a mentoring task force, intended to help the Afghan national security forces establish law and order. But without a clear strategy for effective governance and widespread corruption, the Taliban returned with a vengeance. The mentoring created opportunities for so-called “green on blue” attacks, which contributed to the deaths of a number of Australians. By 2014, 41 Australian soldiers had been killed. Many understandably wondered: was it worth it? Australia’s niche approach Australian politicians and policy makers were always risk-averse about the commitment. Eager to avoid casualties on the scale of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War (where 500 Australians were killed), successive governments opted to make niche contributions that relied on critical support and leadership from US and other allies. But never wanting to manage everything itself left Australia vulnerable. For example, Australia handed detainees to Afghan authorities who, soon enough released them. Some of these, it appears, ended up fighting against Australians again. With special forces, in particular, undertaking rotation […]
The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald The story of McKinsey & Co., America’s most influential and controversial business consulting firm, “an up-to-date, full-blown history, told with wit and clarity” (The Wall Street Journal). If you want to be taken seriously, you hire McKinsey & Company. Founded in 1926, McKinsey can lay claim to the following partial list of accomplishments: its consultants have ushered in waves of structural, financial, and technological change to the nation’s best organizations; they remapped the power structure within the White House; they even revolutionised business schools. In The New York Times bestseller The Firm, financial journalist Duff McDonald shows just how, in becoming an indispensable part of decision making at the highest levels, McKinsey has done nothing less than set the course of American capitalism. But he also answers the question that’s on the mind of anyone who has ever heard the word McKinsey: Are they worth it? After all, just as McKinsey can be shown to have helped invent most of the tools of modern management, the company was also involved with a number of striking failures. Its consultants were on the scene when General Motors drove itself into the ground, and they were K-Mart’s advisers when the retailer tumbled into disarray. They played a critical role in building the bomb known as Enron. McDonald is one of the few journalists to have not only parsed the record but also penetrated the culture of McKinsey itself. His access puts him in a unique position to demonstrate when it is worth hiring these gurus—and when they’re full of smoke.
by Amanda Ripley When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home—it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over. That’s what “high conflict” does. It’s the invisible hand of our time. And it’s different from the useful friction of healthy conflict. That’s good conflict, and it’s a necessary force that pushes us to be better people. High conflict, by contrast, is what happens when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, the kind with an us and a them. In this state, the normal rules of engagement no longer apply. The brain behaves differently. We feel increasingly certain of our own superiority and, at the same time, more and more mystified by the other side. New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley investigates how good people get captured by high conflict—and how they break free. Our journey begins in California, where a world-renowned conflict expert struggles to extract himself from a political feud. Then we meet a Chicago gang leader who dedicates his life to a vendetta—only to find himself working beside the man who killed his childhood idol. Next, we travel to Colombia, to find out whether thousands of people can be nudged out of high conflict at scale. Finally, we return to America to see what happens when a group of liberal Manhattan Jews and conservative Michigan corrections officers choose to stay in each other’s homes in order to understand one another better. All these people, in dramatically different situations, were drawn into high conflict by similar forces, including conflict entrepreneurs, humiliation, and false binaries. But ultimately, all of them found ways to transform high conflict into something good, something that made them better people. They rehumanised and recategorised their opponents, and they revived curiosity and wonder, even […]
The importance of a free press to a thriving democracy is well-known. But what is its importance to a thriving economy? Attacks on press freedom – such as jailing journalists, raiding their homes, shutting down printing presses, and using libel laws to thwart reporters – have measurable effects on economic growth. Countries that recorded a decrease in press freedom also experienced a 1%-2% drop in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Economies may not bounce back Institutions that uphold a “rule of law” are strongly associated with stronger economic performance. Most significantly is the long-term economic impost of undermining a free press. Freedom House’s own research suggests “press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity”: The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished. But this rebound does not translate to the economy. In nations where freedoms were removed, and then restored, economic growth does not fully recover. That’s a significant point at a time when economic frustration is contributing to waning enthusiasm for democracy, increasing distrust of legacy media, and the rise of populist and authoritarian governments taking action to control the news media. Throughout Asia there has been a tightening of press freedoms. In Hong Kong, new security laws threaten to snuff out independent media. In Myanmar, publications have been silenced and journalists arrested. In Malaysia, journalists have been harassed and jailed for criticising the government. In the Philippines, respected investigative journalist Maria Ressa has been detained ten times in two years and convicted of “cyberlibel” under controversial laws. In India, the world’s largest democracy, the Modi government has curbed press freedoms. These aren’t just issues for other countries. Australia might look relatively free, particularly compared with near neighbours. But recent years has seen Australian Federal Police raids on journalists homes and the new restrictive national security […]