Thursday, June 30, 2016

Agents of Change Rather than Secret Agents

 I make it super clear – incredibly clear – ridiculously clear – that not only will I not shoot a messenger that gives me bad news; instead, I will laud that messenger. This cannot be overdone or overstated ...

I [ promised in my last article to do my best to come up with solutions to the first problem in this (second) article and in my next (third and last) article to come up with solutions to the second problem. Here are my solutions to the first problem, i.e.. how does the boss learn if bad things are happening:
First – I make it super clear – incredibly clear – ridiculously clear – that not only will I not shoot a messenger that gives me bad news; instead, I will laud that messenger. This cannot be overdone or overstated. I have to assume that people at a lower rung on the ladder will be afraid to speak up against someone higher on the ladder. This is simple self-preservation and human nature. If someone summons up the courage to do so, it is important for me to strongly validate that action. Indeed, if someone really does speak up and gets shut down (or worse) for doing so, that result spreads like wildfire underground, and it will be a long time before I get any important information from the rank and file The Art of Reinventing Work Cultural Traits 

The Australian Taxation Office’s goal of “reinventing” the way it goes about administering the Australian federal tax system raises fundamental questions about the role and implications of administrative “leadership”. This article considers administrative leadership from the general perspectives of rule of law principles and leadership theory, with a focus on the social psychology and public administration literature. The article questions whether a greater focus on administrative leadership might conceal potential problems when viewed through the lens of the interaction between the rule of law and leadership theory in building trust in tax administration ...
Reinventing Administrative Leadership in Australian Taxation: Beware the Fine Balance of Social Psychological and Rule of Law Principles 

What are the traits of great philosophers? Matthew Hammerton, a PhD student at Australian National University, came across a passage by Cambridge University mathematician Timothy Gowers about how genius is neither necessary nor sufficient for success as a research mathematician, asking whether philosophers thought something similar about those who produce high quality work as academic philosophers.
Traits of the Great MEDiaDragons 

It’s no surprise that centrally positioned people like MEdia Dragons make successful change agents; we know that informal connections give people access to information, knowledge, opportunities, and personal support, and thus the ability to mobilize others. But we were surprised in our research by how little formal authority mattered relative to network centrality; among the middle and senior managers we studied, high rank did not improve the odds that their changes would be adopted. That’s not to say hierarchy isn’t important—in most organizations it is. But our findings indicate that people at any level who wish to exert influence as change agents should be central to the organization’s informal network...

Neil Olesen tabled handouts which noted the key achievements of the Reinventing the ATO program to date. Similar tools are also used to outline upcoming deliverables. The Blueprint, published earlier in the year, provides guidance on the body of work coming up over the next years, of which detail is being prepared. The digital agenda, to be presented by Daniel Bamford, sets out a key strategic direction of where the ATO is heading. Janine Clark will subsequently present recent work on the redevelopment of the ATO website, including its easier search-ability function. Reinvention by current acting Commissioner Neil Olesen 

As the late American management guru Peter F Drucker put it: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Another expert, former IBM CEO Louis V Gerstner Jr, is quoted as saying: “The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.” It’s pretty obvious therefore that any organisation that is attempting to undertake large-scale reform like we are, cannot be successful unless it changes its culture first. So we are focusing on cultural change internally, and we are confident that the results will translate externally. Andrew Mills: Tax Office improving dispute resolution process

CODA: When I ask a various characters to assess the concept of reinvention, I sometimes get two answers, the one public and polite, the other private and savage ...

Picasso created more than 13,000 paintings and drawings. Defoe wrote 500 published works. When it comes to creativity, how much is too much?...  Never Enough

Taxpayer security, despite some recent issues, actually is improving. That's the word from the Internal Revenue Service and its private sector Security Summit partners”

More to come in 2017: This year's security successes are encouraging, but IRS Commissioner John Koskinen emphasized that the processes will continue and be improved for the next filing season.
"But as I've said many times, there can't be any let-up in this fight," said Koskinen. "Refund fraud caused by identity theft is a serious and complicated threat that continues to grow. Criminals – many of them sophisticated, organized syndicates – are redoubling their efforts to gather personal data to file fraudulent federal and state income tax returns, hoping to find new ways to slip through our fraud filters and steal refunds. So while I'm encouraged that we've made significant progress against this threat, we have a lot more work to do."

The Surprising History of the Infographic:

Early iterations saved soldiers’ lives, debunked myths about slavery and helped Americans settle the frontier – Clive Thompson
“…We live in an age of data visualization. Go to any news website and you’ll see graphics charting support for the presidential candidates; open your iPhone and the Health app will generate personalized graphs showing how active you’ve been this week, month or year. Sites publish charts showing how the climate is changing, how schools are segregating, how much housework mothers do versus fathers. And newspapers are increasingly finding that readers love “dataviz”: In 2013, the New York Times’ most-read story for the entire year was a visualization of regional accents across the United States. It makes sense. We live in an age of Big Data. If we’re going to understand our complex world, one powerful way is to graph it. But this isn’t the first time we’ve discovered the pleasures of making information into pictures. Over a hundred years ago, scientists and thinkers found themselves drowning in their own flood of data—and to help understand it, they invented the very idea of infographics…”

RIP Ed Davis. Described as the best of the legal profession: smart, a fierce advocate for civil rights and above all, kind. [New York Times]

Blatant, artificial and contrived: Tax schemes of the 70s and 80s

Sperm whales have distinct cultures and languages

PSFK hosts a discussion with 5 experts on advertising engagement behind closed doors

This excerpt from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Skin In the Game: The Thrills and Logic of Risk Taking. I thought readers would enjoy it, since the theme of “employees are better than slaves” sometimes comes up in comments (mind you, employees today still can’t be required to breed and hand their progeny over or be beaten or killed at their master’s whim, so let us not get too carried away in comments….).
Taleb describes the article as a work in progress and is seeking comments, so you can click through and give your input. However, he is famous for not suffering fools, so be warned (as in telling him that Putin was elected will either be ignored or will elicit a reply as to why Russian presidential elections are not bona fide elections). He has other chapters posted that you might enjoy as well. We thank Evonomics for calling this article to our attention.
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a researcher in practical and philosophical problems with probability and the author of a multi-volume essay, the Incerto (The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and Antifragile) covering broad facets of uncertainty. Originally published at his website. You can follow him on Twitter at @nntaleb