Commentary & Analysis
I’ve currently been on an extended trip through Europe, but last week, one of the biggest news stories was the landing of the Philae probe on a comet. It marks the first time that we have been able to achieve such a feat. The entire mission has been one series of innovations after another, and personally, I’m so happy for the engineers in the European Space Agency (ESA) command center who have seen their dream become a reality.
Although the Philae probe has now gone into a hibernation status due the inability of the probe to recharge its batteries, it has accomplished a number of key objectives including sending pictures back from the comet and sending science data from all of its on-board instruments including the COSAC – the Cometary Sampling and Composition experiment – which drilled into the comet in search of molecular building blocks that may have kickstarted life on planets like Earth.
I was reading the Sunday Times, and it had a great article written by Bryan Appleyard titled “One Giant Step.” I genuinely appreciated his comments about this project for a number of reasons. Have a read of this quote: (more…)
I’ve been publishing a series of posts here on our company blog to summarize core cultural themes from my perspective, all of which support our Thomson Reuters purpose and values. The fourth part of my culture series explains how agility enables us to get things done effectively and efficiently. It is the best way for us to reach excellence and relies on our focus on truth. It simply enables performance. Read parts one, two & three.
Break work into small batches
The utter core of agility is to break tasks down into small batches, in fact into the smallest viable unit. Then get that batch done 100%, review, learn, adjust plans if necessary, and then move on to the next small batch. This simple approach allows us to dramatically lower the risk of projects – improving both quality and time to market — by giving us continuous opportunity to learn and adjust along the way. “Big bang” projects, where you toil for a long period of time before having anything to show for it, are almost destined to fail. The ‘small batch’ approach is the heart of the lean movement, which is just another way of looking at agility. Not only do you want to keep each batch small, but you should strive for the utmost simplicity in the whole project. That is how you move fast and light.
Agility is by its nature Antifragile. The continuous agile process of learning from the past, taking in new inputs from the present, being able and willing to change course, and back up when you’re headed down the road, is the heart of why biological systems can resist entropy and in fact grow strong in the face of adversity. Agility/antifragility naturally give you optionality, which is a powerful form of leverage.
Try stuff out (more…)
By Craig Yolitz, VP, Customer Operations and Account Management, Thomson Reuters
I wanted to highlight my thoughts on a leader’s role in an individual’s career development. In my time at Thomson Reuters, I’ve had many conversations with employees. Specifically talking with new employees, when I ask them why they came to FindLaw, there are two consistent responses: 1) There were no career opportunities at their last company and 2) If there were career opportunities, their boss didn’t support pursuing them. On the latter, the thought that crosses my mind is, “wow, that is so short sighted.” If a leader doesn’t take an active role in their employees’ professional development and support their career aspirations, the best that leader will get is a two-week notice from the employee.
Just this morning I was told that a great FindLaw Operations employee was moving to another part of the FindLaw organization. My response was “excellent!” Why? I didn’t view the news as the loss of a good employee, a talent gap, or need to fill the role. Instead, I viewed it as success. I think that’s pretty cool when we do our part developing individuals for success and they do their part taking feedback and developing themselves for new and expanded roles in FindLaw.
So what should a leader do? Below are a number of key areas that I think are important: (more…)
Well, if that title didn’t get you to read this blog post, I doubt anything I write will!
I’m currently reading Billy Idol’s new autobiography called Dancing With Myself, and it sort of hit me while that this might make for an interesting piece. I’ve made it a habit to read a lot of musician biographies/autobiographies including Jim Morrison, Keith Richards and Sammy Hagar, but what has really struck me about this one is the era in which Idol arrived onto the music scene. Prior to doing his solo bit, that pretty much everyone of the MTV era knows, he was in a band called Generation X that released their first single in 1977. You had a lot of factors all coming together at the same time to impact the music scene, but most notably in England, you saw a lot of social strife and economic problems. All of this really culminated in 1978-1979 with what was called the “Winter of Discontent” where widespread union strikes effectively shut down significant pieces of the economy over pay and work hours.
When you have people that feel like there is no future or opportunity, it’s no surprise that the punk scene emerged as a creative outlet to express rage at what was going on. Bands like The Clash and the Sex Pistols put out some really hardline messages like “London’s Burning” and “Anarchy In The UK,” and Idol was a part of that scene. No hint of subversion here – lyrics in both of those songs were in your face.
Whether you like their music or the message, what the bands and youth of Britain wanted was better opportunity, change, and even – one might argue – innovative thinking from those in charge. As a standalone concept, punk rock was a radical departure from the music of the 60s and even the mainstream 70s rock music with a highly charged political message against the status quo. Punk even struggled to get its message out, because no one wanted to open up their clubs for these bands. (more…)
Estate and executor liability for contaminated property under federal and New York state environmental laws
From Westlaw Journal Environmental: Suzanne M. Avena of Garfield Wild PC discusses what environmental issues an executor should beware of when settling an estate containing potentially contaminated property.
Contaminated property transactions and litigations are fraught with the complex technical and legal issues of establishing the nature of the pollution and determining how cleanup costs should be allocated between parties. Even more of a conundrum is the question of how an executor should address these issues when faced with potentially contaminated property in an estate.
I’ll be publishing a series of posts here on our company blog to summarize core cultural themes from my perspective, all of which support our Thomson Reuters purpose and values. The second part of my culture series lays out a small collection of ‘ways of being’, related to the cultural theme of truth. You can read part one here.
Put your cards on the table. Let people know what you are doing. Invite more eyes on your projects and plans and accept the feedback of others. That’s how we become better. Give uncompromisingly sincere feedback to others, including your superiors, and invite open honest feedback on yourself, no matter how uncomfortable. Truth is our mirror. Being open is fundamental to trust, given and earned.
Relentless curiosity is fundamental to your ability to get to the truth. What do our customers do? What do they want? What delights them? What do our products and services do? Why are they valuable? How can I connect the dots? How does this work? Why do we do things this way? What if we did them differently? What if we did them really differently? Would that be better or worse? This looks better, but I am not sure — can I try it out easily and become certain one way or another? Curiosity fuels innovation.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending an event hosted by the Thomson Reuters Black Employee Network. I have been involved in emphasizing the importance of Diversity & Inclusion through a series of workshops at our Canary Wharf office and my invitation to this event followed on from these discussions.
The title of the discussion was ‘The Colour of Representation’, and was presented by John Amaechi. John describes himself as a ‘Jedi’ Psychologist, and as he is 6’10″. For well over an hour, John discussed the pivotal moments in his life that led to his success, from childhood all the way through to where he is now, a psychologist, broadcaster, presenter, advisor and thought leader on diversity.
A couple of things that really resonated, especially when looking at the various diversity challenges we face as an organization. Some of the most important of these challenges are recognizing the value that can be added through a diverse workforce, ensuring we do not discriminate through our hiring practices and creating an inclusive environment for this talent to grow and flourish.
Firstly, John was clear in his personal objective. He is not in business to sit around holding hands, singing Kumbaya around the campfire. Much like our company, he is in business to win, and to do this, diversity is fundamental! (more…)
I thought I would add my voice to the big topic of “culture” in organizations. I’ll be publishing a series of posts here on our company blog to summarize core cultural themes from my perspective, all of which support our Thomson Reuters purpose and values. Here’s part 1 of my culture series, with more on the way.
We have a focus on our company culture across Thomson Reuters, and rightfully so. To my mind, culture is the second most important factor in our success.
In my opinion, the top three factors are:
- The right people
- The right culture
- The right mission
The right people are the foundation of everything. It is always all about the people. Right people can operate well within a range of cultures. Great culture + wrong people doesn’t work. If you add the right people to the right culture I think you can do anything. Put the right mission on top of that and you are set up for maximum success.
So culture really matters, but what is culture anyway? (more…)