Hints from Academia: The Impact of Culture on Creativity

By | Hints From Academia, Uncategorized | No Comments

creativityIn dealing with creativity in an organizational context one of the themes academics have struggled with in their research is how to understand the impact of culture, specifically national culture, on individual creativity. To draw this link has been especially problematic, but in the article The Impact of Culture on Creativity: How Cultural Tightness and Cultural Distance Affect Global Innovation Crowdsourcing Work the researchers (Roy Y. J. Chua, Yannig Roth, and Jean-Francxois Lemoine) have suggested a very fundamental and clear cut linkage between “cultural tightness” (meaning: “the extent to which a country is characterized by strong social norms and low tolerance for deviant behaviors”) and creativity.

They find that individuals from tight cultures are less likely to successful engage in “foreign creative tasks” than individuals from loose cultures. The authors elaborate in detail the relationship, but at it’s core this is a superb academic study that highlights a countries culture can impact individual creativity.


Hints from Academia is BLG’s effort to highlight those academic pieces we feel offer special insights and guidance to the world of practice. 


By | Leadership On the Edge, Managerial Competence, Political Competence, Uncategorized | No Comments

blg-inc-edu-logo-v.2The Bacharach Leadership Group is excited to announce their exciting partnership with Inc.edu, a corporate university founded by Inc.com exclusively focused on helping entrepreneurs and small businesses leaders to drive growth. BLG will host two workshops, Master the Skills of Influence & Lead Your Teams For Growth, in NYC, DC, and LA in 2015.These two day workshops will help you grow your business, execute business strategy, more effectively market and sell your products and services, and get all of your employees in your business motivated. These workshops will help you get buy-in from employees, customers, business partners, and investors.

The Master The Skills of Influence workshops will be led by BLG co-founder, Cornell University’s McKelvey-Grant Professor, and Inc.com columnist, Samuel Bacharach. The Lead Your Teams for Growth workshops will be led by Yael Bacharach who is an executive coach, a practicing psychotherapist, and Cornell University Coaching course author. Inc.edu and BLG have worked together to tailor content used by industry leaders like Cisco, SunGard, and the Warner Music Group for entrepreneurs and small business leaders.
If you’d like to register for the upcoming workshops being offered by BLG and Inc.edu do so soon. The NYC workshop begins on February 24h. Space is limited and seats are available on a first come-first serve basis. Bring a colleague or your team to scale your business growth even more.

To learn more and register, please go to http://www.blgevents-incedu.com/

Here are the workshop outlines:

Master the Skills of Influence, February 24-25

In this 2-Day workshop, you will develop the political skills necessary to get buy-in for your ideas so you can execute, get results, keep your teams motivated and grow your business
Learn how to:
  • Master the skills of influence to grow sales & customer satisfaction
  • Persuade and win people over to attract investors and customers
  • Overcome & anticipate resistance to change
  • Map the political terrain for allies and resistors
  • Decipher the agendas of others
  • Pitch your ideas
  • Negotiate and mobilize a motivated coalition

Lead Your Teams for Growth, February 26-27

In this 2-Day workshop, you will develop the skills necessary to sustain momentum,  motivate your teams and keep the growth ball rolling.  More effective leaders and teams result in greater sales and customer satisfaction.

Learn how to:

  • Balance facilitative and directive leadership
  • Acquire a coaching mindset to build your team’s capacity to drive growth
  • Lead for engagement to drive and sustain motivation
  • Master the skills of constructive dialogue for difficult situations
  • Maximize the potential of your team to grow your business
  • Partner for goal achievement

Shaking up the World of Higher Education

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With free online education gaining attention in The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and at Cornell University at an event where Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera will be speaking, how this modality will shake up the world of higher education remains to be seen.

Cousera originally launched with a handful of courses and a few partnering universities, over just months, it has grown to offer over 100 specialized courses and is increasing its list of partnerships.

Some of Coursera’s partner schools include: University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Caltech, Duke, Princeton, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Virginia, and they just added 17 more partners. Coursera has also partnered with universities in Scotland, Switzerland, Canada, and India, making it a platform for a truly global education.

While virtual learning has been available in certain forms over the past few years, Coursera’s class formats take advantage of the latest technological advances, giving the website an edge. Courses include a mixture of white-board style talks, professor’s narration, and interactive quizzes interspersed at content check-points in order to maintain students’ engagement with the material.

In her intriguing TED talk “What We’re Learning from Online Education,” Koller describes how a digital format is more effective than traditional learning. Koller believes lecture halls are conducive for passive learning. For example when she asks a question during a lecture, many students are still scribbling notes, others are on Facebook, and maybe one student blurts out the answer prematurely.

Online classes are less uniform than lectures. Material can be broken down into manageable chunks of information. Quizzes interspersed at key points can help ensure that students have understood core concepts before moving forward.

Additional benefits are that online class enrollment can span tens of thousands of students, enabling Professors to widely spread their ideas, even internationally. For example, Ng has said that his largest on-campus class consisted of 400 students, compared with 100,000 people who signed up for one of his online offerings. To reach that sized audience at Stanford, he would have to teach for 250 years.

Koller highlights another advantage which is that online courses allow for the collection of data that is not available in lecture hall formats. Data, such as the amount of time students spend on each question can allow professors to further improve their courses.

There are of course kinks that Coursera still needs to work out. For example certain subjects are easy to test online with multiple choice questions. However, with more humanities courses being offered, other styles of evaluation are needed.

Others have looked at the model and questioned the viability of traditional higher education institutions. For example, one article in Forbes draws an analogy to what Craigslist has done to classified advertising in newspapers and what Wikipedia has done to encyclopedias.

At the same time, such comparisons are still premature as the website currently offers only certificates of course completion, not a full degree. And it is still uncertain whether these certificates actually carry much weight in the job market.

For the time being, Coursera has created a global network for idea-sharing and can help people gain knowledge that they want. As the format progresses, Koller believes we can expedite innovation, discover hidden talent from remote parts of the globe, and establish education as a fundamental right.

Photo credit: ted.com

Inc. Article: Why You Should Say What You Pay Employees

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Naturally, as the leader of your company, you support a culture of trust, caring and openness, because you know this generates deep-seated employee commitment and facilitates exceptional performance.

And, uh…how do you apply this philosophy when it comes to paying people? Odds are, you’ve concluded that compensation is just one of those things that’s best kept secret. That’s a problem.

Read the rest of  “Why You Should Say What You Pay Employees” on Inc.

Artist Spotlight: Steve Thomas

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Nothing is more annoying than having to nag your employees over and over again to do stuff like keep the breakroom clean and stay the heck off Facebook during working hours. Then again nothing is more annoying than having to read and/or write naggy handwritten notes like this one.

Well, now a pretty darn cool artist by the name of Steve Thomas is here to not only save you time but also to make your workplace way hipper. Thomas has come up with a  series of snarky propaganda-style workplace posters that you can buy and place around the office. Our favorite is the download/virus poster below, but they will all bring a smile to anyone who’s worked in a modern office.

The Case for Online Distractions

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It’s easy to blame Google and PowerPoint for distracting us and making us employ bullet points. But, as Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard, argues in last week’s New York Times, we shouldn’t get worried about technologies’ power of distraction. Perhaps, he says, we should be thankful since “technologies are the only things that will keep us smart.”

Pinker states that new forms of media usually meet initial skepticism. The printing press, radio, television, comic books and, of late, video games have all been labeled dangerous in one way or another during their admission into popular culture. With time, each medium eventually finds acceptance and praise.

Today’s critics of new technologies like Twitter, PowerPoint, e-book previews, and blogs worry that we’ll all suffer from information overload. We often hear the line that computer and smart phone users will get lost, confused, and increasing unproductive in a content-filled cyberworld.

Pinker doesn’t see it that way. People who seek to increase their knowledge on a particular subject will and be able to do so with greater ease with new technologies and won’t necessarily be driven to idle distraction. While the computer age has bred a new variety of time-wasters, it has also created a powerful learning tool.

Ultimately Pinker thinks we must approach new technologies with caution. Exploit its benefits while diligently abstaining from its idle pleasures. He advocates turning off smart phones at dinnertime and logging out of your email for hours. For Pinker, with great internet access comes great responsibility.

The internet has cataloged great amounts of information and Google (and sites like it) have become its sponsored librarian. Pinker argues that if we stay in the smarter sections of the library for a prescribed amount of time, we won’t suffer from information overload all that much. If we start wasting time in the general interest and entertainment sections, we’ll distract ourselves and not get anything meaningful done.

Perhaps, but wandering has its benefits and charms.

While new technologies make it easier to waste time, they aren’t responsible for time wasting. Pinker’s conclusions are welcome among worried headlines technology critics who fear the loss of rational thought in the age of Twitter. We don’t have to fear the perpetual distraction of new technologies since they can inform progress, help rational thought, and aid analytical research in exciting ways.

Artwork by: Hotdiggitydogs

Are Viral Videos Worth It?

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Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything popular is wrong.” What is popular, Wilde maintains, is not an accurate barometer of good, or high, art. It would be easy to agree if it weren’t for the viral video.

Clocking in at an average of 1 minute, the viral video is a fast and relativity cheap way for businesses to brand themselves. The ideal viral video has a minuscule budget and it is entertaining enough to not only generate views, but create conversation, debate, and, as Google would put it, buzz.

The only hitch of course is finding an idea relevant enough to demand the internet users’ attention.

With over 2 billion videos on Youtube alone it isn’t exactly an easy feat to make a video to go viral. Should companies even bother?

The Hurdles of Making a Viral Video

Crafting a perfect viral video isn’t a science. Companies can take notes from viral successes sponsored by firms like Smiroff and Sony, but they can’t find the formula of success.

Companies can employ tech-savvy start-ups to market their videos using SEO tricks, blog promotions, and extensive forum postings. It’s not illegal, but it’s a practice lost in the internet moral gray area.  In the end, heavily promoted videos can attract tons of views. It’s a wise investment for firms who are selling a high volume, widely distributed product. It’s not a silver bullet strategy and not all companies can rely on it.

What’s the True Value of Viral Videos?

Even if you do create a video that goes viral, what exactly happens? Maybe nothing.

After the comments and views die down there is a chance that nothing will happen. Just ask this comedian. He produced a viral video and after the initial “fanfare” he was left where he started. He didn’t get more work, his blog traffic leveled out, and he didn’t make a fortune in ad revenue.

The same thing can happen to a larger brand. More views doesn’t translate into more sales or more traffic. Internet flash mobs are fickle. It might be better if brands and entrepreneurial people focused on attracting the attention of people within your niche, people who can help them, and not every person with internet access.

The Utopian Future of ‘Viral’ Videos

Hopefully, online video ads will become less broad in their scope and focus on advertising a product or service to a specific group of people, to a specific blog audience, or to a specific location. Online video ads need to become less like prime-time commercials and more like local ads on public access. They need to be tailored and charming rather than manufactured and plugged. There’s no point trying to please everyone all the time.

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bill_streeter/ / CC BY-NC 2.0