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

How to Stop Being a Workaholic

Americans have a long history of loving workaholics. We revere entrepreneurs who put in 80-hour weeks and artists who toil into the wee hours. Indeed, for much of my life, I interpreted being overworked as a badge of honor. Now, in my 40s, I’m trying to unlearn that lesson.

In my 20s, there was no greater compliment than the people who asked me, “How do you do it all?” Indeed, how did I hold my full-time job, produce a volunteer radio show, host a weekly literary salon, attend a graduate writing program, and write fiction in the wee hours, all while still being a wife and friend? Simply put: work was my drug. Or more accurately put, work was my attempt at self-medication.

Working that hard kept the furious, roiling anxiety at bay that I’ve struggled with my whole life, the result of facing daily uncertainty and lack of safety growing up in an alcoholic home. Its percussive beat behind my breastbone was only ever quieted by one thing: working more. And more. And more. A cycle that repeated over and over. Anxiety, then work, then relief, repeat.

Psychiatrist Gail Saltz, host of the Power of Different podcast...

Why We Have Globalization to Thank for Thanksgiving

As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving Day feasts, some may recall the story of the “Pilgrim Fathers” who founded one of the first English settlements in North America in 1620, at what is today the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The history we know is one of English settlers seeking religious freedom in a New World but instead finding “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men.”

What many Americans don’t realize, however, is that the story of those early settlers’ struggle, which culminated in what we remember today as the first Thanksgiving feast, is also a tale of globalization, many centuries before the word was even coined.

Crossing the Atlantic began a century before the Pilgrims’ passage to the New World aboard the Mayflower. By the 1600s, trans-Atlantic travel had became increasingly common. It was because of globalization that those first settlers were able to survive in an inhospitable and unforgiving land. And the turkey on Thanksgiving tables may not be a bird native to the U.S. but is more likely a (re)import from Europe.

Two short stories will help me explain. As a professor of international business at Rutgers University, I...

Why That Person You Really Liked in the Interview Is Probably a Bad Hire

Sometimes the people with the best team skills are quiet, reserved and introspective when you first meet them.

Sometimes the people with the worst team skills are friendly, warm, outgoing and affable when you first meet them.

And sometimes people on-the-job are just how they seem when you first meet them.

Unfortunately, when we overvalue our initial reaction to a person we tend to hire the wrong person 50 percent of the time: those with good first impressions who underperform. The other mistake is not hiring the right person the same 50 percent of the time: those with weak first impressions who are top performers. This is shown in the grid below.    

Here’s a simple approach for improving your hiring success rate by 100 percent by replacing luck with logic.    

Script the opening of the interview to increase objectivity. When starting an interview, don’t make any yes or no hiring decision for at least 30 minutes. We tend to ask people we like questions to confirm their ability and people we don’t like questions to confirm their incompetence. The Appendix to The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired has a complete set of sample scripts that...

Want to Be a Good Boss? Start by Understanding Why You Want to Lead

Kids on the playground and military generals both know that there are two ways to hold onto power. You either dominate everyone and demand their support, or you get them to like you and offer up their fealty freely.

Those two leadership styles—motivated by the desire for either dominance or prestige—are examined in research from Kellogg’s Jon Maner. Each one has pros and cons, and they work best under different circumstances.

“It’s not that one strategy is good and one strategy is bad,” Maner says. “They both can work in different kinds of organizations.”

And both can work within the same leader. The research shows that most people who have a drive to lead others harbor both skill sets; one is just generally more dominant than the other. The key to effective leadership, Maner says, is to be able to nimbly switch between them.

“Part of maturing as a leader is self-insight,” says Maner, a professor of management and organizations. “And a lot of that self-insight involves knowing who you are as a leader and where your skills lie. How can you learn to leverage the strengths of both mindsets while avoiding the pitfalls of each...

To Make Government Great Again, Fix the Procurement System

Category management is not just a new name for strategic sourcing. Rather, strategic sourcing is one of the tools used by category teams to manage procurement expenditure to achieve mission value.

Unfortunately, much of the writing about strategic sourcing conflates it with category management, creating some misunderstanding about how the two are related. Detangling the definitions can help; though doing so necessarily simplifies processes that in practice are highly nuanced and often overlapping.

It’s worth the risk, however, in order to clarify what is strategic about strategic sourcing and how category management strategies are successfully executed.

Category management and strategic sourcing differ in scope, processes, data requirements, tools and outcomes.

Category Management

Category management is a continuous, market-facing, end-to-end process. It encompasses all aspects of spending, from transactional efficiency through sourcing to life-cycle management. Its scope is the total procurement expenditure of an entire organization. It seeks to manage that spending to best deliver the organization’s mission strategy. It organizes procurement spend into categories of goods and services available from the same or a similar supplier base.

An organization’s enterprisewide category strategy originates from its procurement strategy, which is a subset of the organizational mission or business...

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