Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Friday, April 3, 2015

“Mastering the yin and yang of success”

Feb. 16 “Mastering the yin and yang of success”: I cut out this article from Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Jan. 21, 2013.  This article is about balance of two things going on at the same time like change and stability.  Here are some tips on how to maintain the balance:
Most managers believe that single-minded devotion to driving performance and profits will lead to success. But Colin Price, who leads McKinsey& Co.’s organizational practice around the world from his perch in London, England, says it’s more complicated than that. And he has the data to prove it.

Instead of being single-minded, he says you have to blend two opposites. At the core, you must grapple with the duality of driving performance and boosting organizational health. But that devolves into dealing with three sets of opposites: change and stability, control and empowerment, consistency and variability. Seek one without the other, and you could be toast. Success requires a yin-yang mindset.

His team started their research with an eye to the rising number of business failures, wondering what makes an organization thrive. The prevailing wisdom was that success comes by driving performance. Oil companies focus on developing more oil, bankers on more liquidity. Concentrate on certain measures that lead to profitability, and you’ll be successful, the thinking goes.
But after measuring 1,000 companies, and with one million people filling in a 139-question survey, Mr. Price found the prevailing approach is only half right.
Focusing on performance accounts for half of success. The other half comes from focusing on what he calls organizational health: the ability of the organization to align, renew itself, and execute faster than competitors.

“There’s a paradox. The more companies focus on performance, the less they will be able to win the performance game. And if you focus only on health, you’ll hit the dustbin as well. You need balance,” he said in an interview.

Performance and organizational health are fuzzy concepts, not easily translated into daily leadership. He described three specific areas, comprising six elements in all, that need to be balanced, in a recent McKinsey Quarterly article:

Change and stability

Leaders these days are consumed by the need for change. “But constant or sudden change is unsettling and destabilizing for companies and individuals alike. Just as human beings tend to freeze when confronted with too many new things in their lives – a divorce, a house move, and a change of job, for example – so will organizations overwhelmed by change resist and frustrate transformation-minded chief executives set on radically overturning the established order,” Mr. Price wrote in the article.
The more you can keep some workplace touchstones stable, and advise staff of the stability, the more they will be willing to accept change.

“You have to be clear about what you’re keeping stable as well as what you’re changing,” he explained in the interview. Companies such as Procter& Gamble and PepsiCo, he notes, have very stable business models but go through radical change within that framework.

Control and empowerment

Many executives hunger to control their organization tightly, but these days, Mr. Price points out, pop psychology is urging them to embrace radical empowerment, in which employees follow their own best sense. Too much empowerment, of course, can lead to anarchy and chaos.
But too much control can freeze an organization. The idea is to create strong controls on issues such as where the money goes and which customers are to be prized, but then allow experimentation within what he calls that “envelope of control.” This is particularly true in industries where you have many people selling to many people.

Consistency and variability

He notes that consistency is the Holy Grail of management. Producing high-quality products and delivering them to customers on time and with the same level of consistency is critical to success in most industries.

But consistency can harden into a rigid mindset. Instead, you must allow experimentation and variability. Mr. Price points to Amazon, which has a consistent business model to deliver its products with dispatch but also allows continual experimentation.

“The larger and more powerful the organization, the higher the desire for consistency. But if you only have consistency, where will your innovative edge come from?” he wondered in the interview.

So think through these three pairings – six elements in all. What change do you want, and where will you be emphasizing stability? How do you control and where do you empower? How can you nurture both consistency and variability? Figure out how to stress all six in your organization, in a balanced way.

Linked In: I cut out this article called “Using Linked In to track down your dream job” by Dianne Nice on Nov. 7, 2011 in the Globe and Mail.
When Michael Michailidis was making the transition from running his own Montreal-based social media marketing business to a more corporate role, he decided to tap into his social network.

Last February, he contacted a former classmate through LinkedIn and learned that her boss at Bell Canada was looking for a marketing program manager, a job that had not yet been posted.

“I sent him my résumé, and the next day he called me and I had an interview over the phone. And then the next week, we had an actual interview, and within two weeks I was hired,” Mr. Michailidis recalled.

Having his classmate as a reference gave him a competitive edge over other candidates, he said in an interview. “You’ve already created that connection. You already have your foot through the door and that’s the hardest part.”

Whether you’re using LinkedIn to find a job or to build a network, it’s important to have a complete profile, said Danielle Restivo, manager of corporate communications at LinkedIn Canada. Members with at least one past position listed on their profiles are 12 times more likely to be found by employers. And adding a photo to their profiles increases their chances sevenfold, Ms. Restivo said in an interview.

“Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to showcase your skills and talents and help the right people and opportunities find their way to you,” she said.

In addition to keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, Ms. Restivo offers these tips:

Build your network

Even if you’re already employed, having a strong network of people you know and trust is essential. You may be able to use those connection for references and job leads in the future. And get recommendations: A good word from those who know your work highlights your strengths, so reach out to past managers and colleagues for references you can include in your profile.

Highlight your skills

By adding relevant skills to your profile, you’ll come up in search results when employers need someone like you for a project or job. Skills pages will also tell you which groups on LinkedIn you can join to learn more about that skill and jobs that require that ability.

Keep tabs on companies

When you follow a company page on LinkedIn, you’ll be able to see updates on new hirings, promotions and job opportunities. By connecting with recruiters and hiring managers in your area, you’ll be top-of-mind when positions open. Find connections you have in common and, if appropriate, ask them to introduce you, Ms. Restivo said.

Focus your job search

LinkedIn’s job-search engine allows you to hone your search by specific companies, locations, experience levels and job functions. It also lets you see the individuals doing the hiring, as well as anyone in your network who can refer you to those people or to someone else who works at the company.

Show off your expertise

LinkedIn answers is a great way to share business knowledge by asking and answering questions on specific subjects. By demonstrating your expertise on LinkedIn, you earn recognition that helps you build your credibility, and the more points of expertise you gain, the higher you appear on lists of experts, Ms. Restivo said.

Apply for jobs

The “Apply with LinkedIn” button makes it easy to submit your LinkedIn profile and cover letter for job postings. It will also display your professional connections who work at that company, or who can introduce you to someone there, to increase your chances of being hired through a referral.

And if you’re looking for work, don’t forget to get the word out, Ms. Restivo said. Use your status update to let your network know. “No matter how the economy or your career is doing, having a strong network is a good form of job security,” she added. “Don’t wait until times are tough to nurture your network.”


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