February 12, 2022


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at updates to a marketing classic, balancing the paradoxes of leadership, HR trends for 2022, a list of decision-making steps, what we’re reading and determining when to concede. Enjoy!


1. Kotler on Marketing, Today

If you studied marketing, chances are it involved Philip Kotler’s classic text, Marketing Management. Fifty-five years after it was first published —with the 17th edition just out— Kotler and co-author Alexander Chernev discussed the similarities and differences in marketing today:

  • Customer centricity remains central. Data analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence are very powerful tools in managing the value offered to customers, but they are just tools. You need a sound strategy.
  • One big change has been the increasing number of company mission statements including the creation of societal value as part of their purpose. This will affect how they operate in the marketplace.
  • Customers are looking beyond functionality for something they find meaningful. “It is also about who the company behind this product is and what this company stands for,” Chernev told Kellogg Insight.
  • Aside from social purpose, at a tactical level there’s been a proliferation of information. Companies must accept that customers can get detailed product information from a variety of sources — not just the company but also from other customers. While some companies now have more information in real time about what customers are doing, they can also monitor how they are feeling about their brands.
  • Marketing is more than communication and advertising. Marketing is now involved in the creation of products and services, offering ideas and suggesting features. “Engineers are the masters of the possible, but it is marketers who can best assess value because they are better at understanding the customers’ criteria for buying a product,” says Kotler.

Although formally retired and a professor emeritus, Kotler remains worth hearing.

2. The Workplace, Today and Tomorrow

Gartner analysts Brian Kropp and Emily Rose McRae recently shared their views on HR trends for 2022 and beyond. Some insights:

  • Fairness and equity will be defining issues for organizations: One area to watch is who has access to flexible work. “We’ve seen organizations where some managers allow their employees flexibility while other managers don’t,” they write in Harvard Business Review. Leaders need to address how they are managing fairness and equity across the increasingly varied employee experience.
  • To compete for knowledge worker talent, some companies will shorten the work week rather than raise compensation. After inflation, recent real wages have declined and that might continue. Reducing the hours employees work can give employers with more limited financial resources a better chance to compete with organizations that can offer higher overall compensation without reducing hours.
  • Flexibility around how, where, and when people work is no longer a competitive differentiator. It’s a table stake now and won’t reduce turnover.  Moreover, hybrid or remote work loosens connections and friendships with co-workers, contributing to turnover.
  • Wellness will be the new metric organizations use to understand their employees. For years, managers have experimented with metrics such as employee satisfaction or engagement for insight. With the pandemic, many organizations increased the wellness support offered employees. Next step: Organizations will add new measures that assess their mental, physical, and financial health to predict employee performance and retention more accurately
  • Sitting is the new smoking: Organizations will take steps to support remote employees to improve their health through physical movement.

3. Paradoxes of Leadership

The most effective leaders are not one-dimensional, says leadership consultant Sara Canaday.

“They know when and how to exhibit varying shades of their strongest attributes — even when those variations might seem like opposite ends of the spectrum. The ones who can perfect that balancing act are often rewarded with highly successful careers,” she writes on LinkedIn.

Think of strong leaders you have met or worked with. They may have demonstrated complementary or even opposite attributes in certain situations, such as confident yet humble, highly energetic yet calm in a crisis, competitive yet empathetic, task-oriented yet people-sensitive, and visionary yet realistic and practical.

In that vein, she recommends you:

  • Balance your commitment to meet business objectives with your commitment to meet the specific needs of your employees.
  • Balance your intense focus on a set strategy with a willingness to “let go”.
  • Balance hard data with human insights.
  • Balance being tech-savvy with being people-centred.

“Instead of fighting the paradox of leadership, start using it to your advantage. The results may surprise you,” she says.

4. An Economic Historian on Five Laws of Stupidity

On his blog, leadership consultant Michael McKinney asks us to ponder the five laws of human stupidity developed by the late economic historian Carlo Cipolla:

  • A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person while deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses themselves.
  • Everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals among us.
  • The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
  • Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals.
  • A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

5. Zingers

  • A Dangerous Phrase: Beware of the shibboleth, “Don’t bring me a problem unless you bring me a solution as well.” Consultant Wally Bock points out it can be an act of courage to bring the boss bad news, and you want to make it safe and easy to do. If you wish, you can start your end of the conversation with, “What do you think I should do with the information you just brought me?” (Source: Three Star Leadership).
  • Emotional Proofreading: Miscommunication is much more likely when you’re not face-to-face with others, so author Liz Fosslien recommends emotionally proofreading what you write by putting yourself in the recipient’s shoes. Keep in mind we all suffer from a negativity bias, so if what’s written has an intended positive tone or impact, we perceive it as neutral; if it’s neutral, we view it as negative. (Source: FastCompany).
  • A Question of Queues: It’s now standard practice in most banks, coffee shops and other service organizations to have a single queue for waiting customers rather than separate line-ups — so nobody gets stuck behind a slowpoke or in a slower-moving line-up. But a study of dedicated queues in an emergency room found people got through more quickly as the physicians felt more responsible for the people assigned to them. (Source: Insead Knowledge).
  • Accepting Unimportance: Consultant Steve Keating says he is always fully aware of the absolute unimportance of almost everything he does — and that we should develop the same awareness. After all, in 100 years most of it won’t matter; it might not matter in even five years’ time or 30 days. So when you are stressed by something that seems super important now, ask whether it will matter in a year’s time.  (Source: Lead Today).
  • Revisions Make It Great: The difference between good and great writing is often just an extra round of revision, says Atomic Habits author James Clear. (Source: com).

6. The List:  Some Decision-Making Steps

Leadership consultant Greg Bustin shares these 10 questions to ask yourself or your team when facing a big decision:

  • What are the facts ?
  • What is our objective?
  • What —precisely— is the problem or set of problems we must solve to achieve our objective?
  • Who should be involved in helping reach a decision?
  • What are all of the possible solutions?
  • Are the possible solutions aligned with core values we/I hold? Eliminate those possible solutions that are not.
  • What are the consequences of each of the remaining solutions?
  • What’s the best possible solution?
  • How must we communicate this solution to our stakeholders?
  • Action: Who will do what by when?

From:  Great Leadership blog


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


On Whether to Concede

Recently we had the privilege of participating in a small group discussion on this question:  How do you decide when to concede and when to stand firm?

There are sometimes toxic repercussions when a leader always pushes to win, but at the same time a leader who always loses may not be really leading at all.

What are your thoughts? Here are 10 that came up around our Water Cooler:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Concede the easy ones. Win the war, not the battle. Will a sacrifice now put you in a stronger position down the road?
  • How would you defend your position on the evening news?
  • Is it really all about your ego, fear or desire for power and control?
  • Consider compromise options where both partially win and concede. Or consider tradeoffs where you win in some areas, and they win in others.
  • Look for a creative, innovative or integrated “third way” where you both win.
  • Consider the impact on your “relationship capital”. Can you affirm the relationship while differing on the decision or position? Is there a path/position where you both can save “face”, honour and respect?
  • Consider how your place in a social or peer group (or as leader of a team) influences your desire to concede or stand firm. What is their impact?
  • Probe how conceding may conflict with (or support) your deepest beliefs.
  • Are you responding out of fear or temporary exhaustion — would your approach be different on another day or in other circumstances?
  • Would a decision to “give in” be irreversible or easily reversible?

You may also want to consider the Amazon rule:  “Have backbone: disagree but commit.” This management principle encourages individuals to disagree while a decision is being made, but once a decision has been made, everybody must commit to supporting it.

Other views are welcome.

What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: In Compassionate Leadership, consultants Rasmus Hougaard  and Jacqueline Carter explain how best to bring compassion into your own leadership and provide data showing compassionate managers are more effective than those of their counterparts who take a more tough-minded approach.
  • Rob’s Pick: In Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, Gretchen Rubin put the complexity of the famous British prime minister through a prism. Each snapshot applies a different lens — heroic and critical viewpoints, decisive moments, his greatest strength, most formative role, pastimes, use of symbols, how he saw himself, his cause, the world and history, together with the myth of the man. Warrior and writer, genius and crank — leader: here we find a knot of great and tragic qualities untangled.


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8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.

8.  Closing Thought

“There is no secret orchard where ideas grow. Oh my, do I wish there were.”

American author Erik Larson