how to measure business success

How to measure business success by social impact, not stock price

When I was in business school in the early 2000s, there was no question of how to measure business success — and little if any talk of social impact. The most powerful idea I learned in my first year was that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make money for the shareholders. 

You have to understand that for me, with my background as a left-leaning clinical psychologist, this proposition was shocking. But I recognized that it was fundamental to how most businesses and business leaders operated.

So today, I’m flabbergasted. On August 19, the elite group of U.S. CEOs that form the Business Roundtable announced that big corporations should no longer focus exclusively on maximizing profits for their shareholders. Jamie Dimon, the chair of the Business Roundtable and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, presented a statement that business leaders should focus on delivering value to all their stakeholders — to customers, employees, suppliers, and local communities, as well as shareholders.

flow and happiness

Flow and Happiness — How to enter the state of your best work

When you lock into a state of Flow and happiness, you probably don’t know it. Usually, it happens when you’re so totally absorbed in a task that you lose track of time. Your attention is so focused that you don’t notice you’re hungry or your neck is crinked or someone is trying to talk to you. And when you finally come up for air you may feel a little disoriented, as if you’ve been somewhere far away.

I’ve been experiencing this a lot lately as I work on my first book, but the sensation was first described and labeled as “Flow” by prominent psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 1970s. It has become an influential concept in psychology, business, sports, and the arts, sometimes labeled as being “in the zone” or “in the groove.” Flow is an intensely pleasurable state, characterized by clear goals, powerful concentration, immediate and accurate feedback, and an ideal balance between your level of skill and the demands of the task.  

The Flow state is a compelling concept because so many of us have experienced it. But as a psychological construct it has two problems. First, how can you measure it? And second, is it actually connected to creativity and productivity?

Going Back To Work After A Vacation

Avoiding the stress of going back to work after a vacation

Even in the U.S. — where we’re notoriously reluctant to take time off — many of us take at least a little time around the summer and winter holidays. I always look forward to my time off. It’s going back to work after a vacation that leaves me with regret. That’s when I get clobbered by the backlog. It usually takes less than 24 hours before I feel as if I’ve never been away.

Respecting boundaries in the workplace

Respecting boundaries with female colleagues starts with recognizing personal space

A lot of good men have come to me recently with questions about respecting boundaries — particularly those of their female colleagues. It’s not that they haven’t been thinking about this all along. But in the current environment of increased openness and feistiness about sexual harassment, many men are trying to be especially respectful in their interactions with women.

performance coach

How a performance coach can turn you into a powerhouse at work

If “performance coach” conjures an image of a tobacco-chewing man standing on the sidelines with a baseball cap and a whistle, that’s deliberate. Performance coaching applies the coaching skills of professional sports to the business world. We executive performance coaches may not use a whistle — or chew tobacco — but we are just as focused on whipping clients into peak competitive shape as any sports coach.

sacked

You’ve been sacked — now what?

The good news is I’ve never been fired. That bad news is I’ve been downsized twice. Those were two of the worst days of my life. And it happens to nearly everyone at some time in his or her career.

As with most calamities, what matters most is how you respond. Psychologists talk a lot about resilience, the ability to bounce back after a defeat. In the days and weeks following your termination, you can take steps that will deepen and prolong your misery or you can move forward in a way that will rebuild your self-esteem and accelerate your progress to the next phase of your career.

Organizational Intelligence Reading List

The Organizational Intelligence reading list: 23 tools to navigate office politics

Anyone who’s ever struggled to navigate office politics knows the importance of OI, even if they didn’t know what to call it. OI, or Organizational Intelligence, is the ability to think and act strategically to get things done in an organization. Alongside Cognitive Intelligence, or IQ, and Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, OI allows great leaders to see their ideas through to fruition.

Breaking Through Bias

How to fight gender bias: Breaking through Bias co-author Andie Kramer shares her tips

Women in business contend with subtle — and not so subtle — gender bias every day. As we work together to confront and change those attitudes, we also recognize that’s a long-term journey. In fact, those of us who have been around for a few decades are often astounded by the battles still being fought in 2016. In the meantime, real women have to navigate real challenges on a daily basis.

To get some advice for women trying to fight their way forward in the workplace, we talked to Andie Kramer, prominent Chicago lawyer and co-author of Breaking through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work, which she wrote with her husband and former law partner, Al Harris.

Microsoft's LinkedIn Acquisition

How Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition may create unwelcome connectivity

Say you’re writing an article about effective business networking when a character pops up on your screen. He tells you that on LinkedIn, there are a number of experts on networking who might have useful ideas for you and offers to connect you to them. How will you react? Delight that a new resource is available to help you tap into the latest expertise? Or get irritated about this intrusion into your writing flow?

Machine Learning

How machine learning could change my business — and yours

If you want to stay right on the cutting edge of new technology, try teaching. I learn constantly from my MBA students at Chicago Booth. This quarter, I’m mentoring a team as it explores the impact the cloud will have on business and society. It’s not a subject I likely would have studied without them, but teaching this course gives me invaluable insight into a technology that’s transforming the business world.