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Friday Roundup: 6/16/17


Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.
  1. If everything is a network, nothing is a network (visualisingadvocacy.org)

    “There’s something very attractive about seeing everything as connected; it serves a basic need to rationalise everything in terms of cause and effect. It offers the mechanics of countless feedback loops that, if we could only count them all, would allow us to uncover ‘the big picture’. “

  2. One Fact Constraining Globalization: It’s a Big Planet (Bloomberg)

    “The equation takes varied forms, but a simple variant suggests that, once we have adjusted for the gross domestic product of countries and some other control variables, trade is on average inversely proportional to distance. More concretely, the U.S. trades much more with Canada than with Australia, even though the economic profiles of Canada and Australia are relatively similar.”

  3. A Conversation with Northwestern MSC Student, Gretchen Baker (MSC)

    “We have different reasons for taking the program and we have different backgrounds, are of all ages and stages in our lives and careers. At every stage in your life it’s easy to find yourself surrounded by people who are similar to you. It’s great being in this diverse environment with different people who are here for the same reason: to learn. I love that.”

A Conversation with Northwestern MSC Student, Gretchen Baker

Gretchen Baker is an Executive Development Advisor for Executive Education for the  Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She advises professionals who are interested in attending executive education programs on marketing, sales, and leadership that can support their career development. She is also responsible for marketing the programs and driving enrollment. Gretchen values building diverse cohorts and believes in the importance of fostering close relationships with others.

At what point in your career did you enter the MSC program and why was this the right time for you?

I entered the program last fall (September 2016). Previously I worked in advertising, marketing, and I did a little bit of PR, but then I became a mom and left the workforce. However, I continued thinking about what’s next? Along the way, I became a certified coach and worked one-on-one with clients. As much as I loved certain aspects of coaching, I missed being a part of a group. That brought me to Kellogg, initially in the HR department. When my current job opened, I found it interesting because it involved marketing, coaching, and being a part of a team and I thought it’d be a great fit with my experience. I love it here, but I’m still thinking, “What’s next?” When the next opportunity comes along, I want to be ready for it.

Why was Northwestern MSC the right program for you?

What was most appealing for me was really getting immersed in learning again and, at the end, having a degree. One main feature that attracted me to the Northwestern MSC program was the change management class. I was intrigued by change management as a way to utilize coaching skills and learn how to support people going through a change. Even here, I think about how I could evolve the job I’m in now.

How have you grown from the program?

One huge challenge is that in my job, I write from a business perspective, things like emails, memos, PowerPoint presentations, documents, but to write academic papers has definitely stretched my thinking and writing skills. It’s a challenge being back in the classroom, but I’m a firm believer that you don’t grow or evolve unless you make yourself uncomfortable and are willing to fail. Even if I do everything I can but don’t get the outcome I want, I always find something positive in the experience.

What is something you’ve learned that you’ve been able to apply to your professional and/or personal life?

In the ‘Leadership & Decision Making’ class with Paul Arntson, I bridged the gap between theory and real experience. A year ago, my team was going through a challenge. We had recently added new members and felt that the dynamic of the team was being disrupted. There were cases we reviewed in class that I found applicable to our situation. In particular, an article on identity issues in teams. The class challenged me to look at our team with a different perspective, and explore what I can and cannot do as a leader in a situation like that. What I learned has changed how I view and engage with teams.

What was your favorite aspect of MSC at Northwestern?

I’m all about relationships, so I love getting to know this great group of people who I would not have the chance to cross paths with otherwise. My cohort’s individual stories, which several of us presented in Paul Arntson’s class, are extremely powerful. When people share their stories with you, you can’t help but admire and respect what they are doing and that they are here in the program. Everyone has a challenge of some sort that they deal with and a vision for their future.

I’ve also discovered that I love these classes. I’m learning about myself, expanding my thinking and trying new things.

Can you speak to the importance of diversity in your cohort?

We have different reasons for taking the program and we have different backgrounds, are of all ages and stages in our lives and careers. At every stage in your life it’s easy to find yourself surrounded by people who are similar to you. It’s great being in this diverse environment with different people who are here for the same reason: to learn. I love that.

Are they any interesting or unique projects that you worked on during your time in the program?

In Paul Arntson’s class, we were randomly assigned to a team and throughout the quarter we worked through case studies together. Each week a different person would act as the group leader and our meetings were videotaped. During the week we would view the tape, evaluate our performance on what we did well and make recommendations on what we could do better. One week, the assignment was to watch another group’s video and make similar evaluations and recommendations. This provided some of the best learning of the class! When you’re in your own group and bubble, it’s easy to think what you’re doing is right and the best way to get things done. However, by watching another group’s video, we  picked up some new ideas and ways to improve our own leadership.

Friday Roundup: 6/9/17


Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.
  1. Corporate culture will always matter (CIO)

    By some estimates, 1.3 billion human beings will one day be working virtually — and sooner than we think. That leads us to the primary argument for culture’s waning importance in the corporate world. When any job can be done from any place, we don’t need offices — and when we don’t need offices, we don’t need corporate culture.

    “Respectfully, though, we think that’s a little off the mark. Wherever people come together with a common goal, culture is “happening” — whether we acknowledge it or not.”

  2. The Internet Is Where We Share — and Steal — the Best Ideas (NYT)


  3. MSC Professors Receive a Top Paper Award (MSC)
    Professors Michelle Shumate and Noshir Contractor along with Sophia Fu received a Top 4 Paper Award in the Organizational Communication Division at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA).

MSC Professors Receive a Top Paper Award

Professors Michelle Shumate and Noshir Contractor along with Sophia Fu received a Top 4 Paper Award in the Organizational Communication Division at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA).

The paper was titled, “Collective Innovation Adoption across Interorganizational Systems: Organizational Boundary, Social Networks, and Decision-Making Status.”

“Most research on innovation adoption focuses on the attitudes and behaviors of members of a single organization. However, little research has examined innovation adoption across an interorganizational system where the results have public consequences. Using the Theory of Reasoned Action and Social Information Processing Theory, this study examines three factors that influence intentions to adopt six health innovations across the system of 1,849 state health departments in Bihar, India. The collective attitudes of advice network members and organizational co-members influence government healthcare workers’ (N = 6,776) attitudes and perceptions of social norms toward each innovation. Perceptions of social norms and attitudes influence the intentions to adopt each innovation, a reliable precursor to innovation adoption behaviors. However, individuals’ decision making status moderates these relationships, such that the collective attitudes of advice network members have a greater influence on decision makers (n = 953) and the collective attitudes of organizational co-members and perceived social norms have a greater influence on non-decision makers (n = 5,823). Implications for the study of innovation adoption within and across organizations are drawn from the results.”


Source: SONIC

Friday Roundup: 6/2/17


Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.
  1. The 5 Communication Habits All Leaders Need to Motivate a Team (Inc) 
    “A global leadership study revealed that 85 percent of companies report an urgent need to develop employees with leadership potential.”


  2. The Importance of Filters in Communication (Forbes)
    “Everything communicates. Think through how you want to be perceived. Then figure out your audiences’ filters and manage what you say and do and don’t say and do with those in mind.”


  3. How to Communicate Better in Distributed Teams (InfoQ)
    “Communicating with people in your own country with whom you share a language, culture, and many other similarities is already challenging. With people from another country, time zone, culture, and language, it is even more challenging.”

Friday Roundup: 5/26/17


Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.

  1. Five Skills To Help You Pioneer The Shift Toward Transformational Leadership (Forbes)

    “Barking instructions at and giving orders to others is being replaced by transformational leadership”


  2. Dave Chappelle And Louis C.K. Confront A Changing World  (The New Yorker)

    Elegant Communication: how comedians confront our assumptions.


  3. World wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee targets fake news (BBC)

    Communication news: the fight against falsehood.

Friday Roundup: 5/19/17


Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.

  1. The Invisible Force That Warps What You Read in the News (Backchannel)

    “Are we in a bubble? Why has Uber’s story spun out of control? The answers hinge less on facts and more on the hidden physics of Narrative Gravity.”

  2. His Holiness Pope Francis: Why the only future worth building includes everyone (TED)

    “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic, or a number,” he says. “We all need each other.”

  3. A Conversation with Northwestern MSC Alumnus Brandon Oelling (MSC Blog)

    “I’ve learned that supervision, management, and leadership go hand in hand, and I am now able to better delegate and collaborate with a team that spans the globe.”

A Conversation with Northwestern MSC Alumnus Brandon Oelling

Brandon is the founder and CEO of Woobot.io. He previously spent 6 years at Appirio.com in the sales and technology industry where he played a pivotal role in helping customers adopt and implement cloud technologies like Salesforce.com and G Suite by Google Cloud. Brandon is currently on the Northwestern MSC alumni executive board and assists with event communications.

At what point in your career did you enter the MSC program?

I had been out of school for about 16 years, but I was surprisingly excited about a graduate degree. I had never thought about a master’s program, but I was working with a previous graduate of the Northwestern MSC program from the early ‘90s, who suggested the program to me and thought I’d be a good fit.

Before I entered the program, I was a consultant, and while I was very interested in the role communications played in my current position, I wanted more. I’ve always been in the technology and product space, but I was feeling stuck, and I wanted to move from an individual contributor focused role to a leadership focused one.

Why was Northwestern MSC the right program for you?

Since I was working in a global organization and leading people over large distances, there was a lot of content in the MSC program that was relevant to me. The coursework is very applied and timely, which I like. Also, I came to the program to fill in a gap of skills I didn’t have – having found that soft skills are just as important now as the standard technical ones.

What is something you’ve learned that has made an impact on your professional and/or personal life?

I’ve learned that supervision, management, and leadership go hand in hand, and I am now able to better delegate and collaborate with a team that spans the globe. The Northwestern MSC has a unique academic and applied curriculum that really helped me target and improve myself and my relationships with others in a way that has influenced both my personal and professional life.

It all comes down to the way we communicate with others professionally and in our personal relationships that sets the table for how we view and navigate the world.

How have you grown from the program?

I came out of the MSC program with what was a renewed sense of empathy for others. In a leadership heavy role, you have to build trust with the people you work with. It’s easy to want to take over and fall back on the skills and habits you have, but a good leader works to make sure that people are supported and have the resources they need to succeed. I also see this in other MSC alumni that I talk to. We’re convinced that the reason the Northwestern MSC is so successful is how it’s delivered. Empathy is a skill that is difficult to foster, and this is a program that helps you identify and grow it.

What helped foster this empathy?

The content and the quality of the lecturers, case studies, and assigned readings was a phenomenal start. We were also asked to interact with our cohort to work through this content to examine and understand the myriad examples of leadership styles and apply it to our own work. It was a great way to see what the theory says and how that actually translated within our various workplaces, which is unique to the Northwestern MSC program.

What was your favorite aspect of MSC at Northwestern?

The way the program is set up brings each cohort together in various settings – especially outside the classroom. Being together every Saturday is especially helpful, but everyone also stays in touch during the week as well, so we could always pick right back up where we left off. We all leaned on each other and in turn created some great memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.

What advice would you have for anyone considering the MSC program?

Ask a lot of questions and make sure you seek out a conversation or two with an alumnus. Our alumni network continues to grow, and we always have opportunities for prospective students to engage with and get the support they need while they make such an important decision to further their careers and their lives.

Friday Roundup – 5/12/17


Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.
  1. When “thank you” wears out (Smart Brief)
    “The words are great equalizers, and graciousness makes an excellent foundation for any relationship… Yet there is a very important principle to keep in mind when engaging employees through feedback recognition: the law of diminishing returns.”


  2. “Special Forces” Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems (HBR)
    Our purpose is to demonstrate that DARPA’s approach to breakthrough innovation is a viable and compelling alternative to the traditional models common in large, captive research organizations.”



  3. The beauty of data visualization (TED)
    “David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.”

    Friday Roundup: 5/5/2017


    Our weekly roundup highlights links to articles and talks to help you be a more effective leader.
    1. Reza Aslan Thinks TV Can End Bigotry (NY Times)
      “On your new show, “Believer,” you examine niche, sometimes extreme, global religious traditions. Do you think this is the best time for a show like this?”
      “It is the most perfect time possible. There is no medium on this earth that has more power to transform the way that people think about others than television.”