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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

The Future of Management Training is Simulations

Overnight, after spinning off its research based drug business into AbbVie, Abbott Laboratories found itself a very different company. It didn’t just completely switch up what it sold. The parts of the world and people that mattered most changed, too.

Half of its profit, 70% of its sales, and a majority of employees now came from countries outside the United States. The average manager in the US is 46 and has been with the company for more than a decade. In Asia, the average manager is 34 with five years at the company.

In the US, the company had had the luxury of cycling managers through multiple jobs and levels of responsibility so it could tap a relatively deep bench of educated, experienced staff. Things were completely different in the rest of the world.

Its businesses outside the US were growing rapidly and management talent was scarce (something other companies have found, particularly in China (paywall)). Traditional brick and mortar training and job cycling simply didn’t cut it–they were prohibitively costly, in time and money.

Abbott, now mostly a nutrition, diagnostic, and medical technology business, had to transform the way it nurtures talent and identifies potential leaders ...

You Can Be Endorsed for 'Time Travel' and 'WMDs' on LinkedIn

Likely more popular than Twitter, LinkedIn may be the most anomalous of the modern social networks. It’s not for friends or family or fellow fans—like Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest—but for the professional world. It is the most formal social network, the one wearing a suit, the one where you’re most likely to find your insurance agent.

This stiffness carries over into its interface. It is, if not the least weird social network, then certainly the least spunky.

Except when it’s not. See, in LinkedIn, you can endorse other users for certain work skills. And while you can always type in your own skills, the site also auto-completes certain skills you might want to fill in.

And these suggested skills are amazing.

Here is an abridged list of them:

  • Tigers
  • Rodeo
  • Juggling
  • Tender Submissions
  • Vacant Lots
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Horizontal Directional Drilling
  • Shrinkage
  • Time Travel
  • Islands
  • Air
  • Readiness
  • Gamma Knife
  • Street Theatre
  • Haiku
  • Doer
  • Vagrant
  • Impersonations
  • Doorhangers
  • Borehole Seismic
  • Slang
  • Slabs
  • Space Weather
  • Ninja Skills
  • Festivals
  • Zen
  • Pants

(Image via Bruce Rolff/

The Strategic Pause: 6 Reasons to Take a Breath

December not only heralds the onset of holiday busy-ness in our personal lives, but also the end-of-the-year closeout activities that make our professional lives extremely hectic. In the government, there is often a mad rush to finish projects that absolutely must get done before the end of the year or before people leave town on their use-it or lose-it vacation. This real or imagined urgency leaves little room for taking a break to evaluate successes, flops and priorities on the personal and organizational level. However, it is often during the busiest times that taking a strategic pause can be the most beneficial to organizations.

At first, it seems counterintuitive to strategically “pause” during the busiest time of the year. However, spending time reflecting on what has worked for your organization, what should be retooled, and what is truly important to you and your organization will help you focus your energy in the right direction. Here are some signs you might be ready to take a strategic pause:

1. You’re drinking from the fire hose. We’ve all been there—you check one item off your list, and three other tasks appear in its place. It’s easy to let ...

7 Very Telling Signs Your Job Is a Poor Fit

At some point in our work lives, many of us will find ourselves in the wrong job. (I hear of this quite often.) Specific fault can be difficult, and likely futile to assign. However, one day you may look around to find that your work life is dangerously out of sync. Nothing is more alarming than throwing yourself into your role—and realizing things have taken an obvious turn. The important element here? Identifying the problem for what it really is (in very short shrift), and acting to make changes. Poor matches do happen. Jobs morph. Great bosses move on. We grow and change. Any of these could serve as a contributing accelerant.

So, make every attempt to let yourself off the hook and avoid a long-term “soul sucking” experience. Poor fit is a very common—and it is important to recognize its symptoms.

Here are a few signs worth notice:

You feel lost. Have you experienced the classic nightmare where you arrive at class on exam day, only to realize that you’ve not purchased the textbook? This certainly should not be your work life experience during waking hours. If tasks or projects leave you feeling unprepared, take note ...

The Most Intelligent Groups Aren’t Just a Bunch of Smart People

It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to think about themselves not just in terms of their productivity and efficiency, but also their intelligence. But how do you measure an organization’s intelligence? And with so many groups working remotely, can you measure an online group’s intelligence? It turns out that you can measure and predict group intelligence, and that the same factors affect both face-to-face and online groups.

In a prior study, my colleagues and I took the same statistics techniques used to measure individual intelligence and applied them to measure the intelligence of groups. As far as we know, nobody had ever before asked if groups had an “intelligence factor,” just as individuals do.

We found that there is indeed a single statistical factor for group intelligence that predicts how well the group will perform on a wide variety of tasks. We called this factor “collective intelligence,” and it is only moderately correlated with the average individual intelligence of people in the group. In other words, having a bunch of smart people in the group doesn’t necessarily lead to a smart group. Instead, we found three other factors that predict collective intelligence.

The first was average ...