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Sunday reading for September 7th, 2014:

1. Jordan Shapiro has a great post up on Forbes highlighting a program called Dragonbox that taught 4,000+ K-12 students how to do Algebra in (on average) a little over one hour. This article is pretty old – from mid-2013 – but I wanted to share it because we HR folks have a reputation in some circles for not being particularly quantitative in their thinking. This research is evidence that anyone can learn how to think quantitatively, though. This is because learning any subject is – at core – taking that which is non-intuitive and abstract (as math often is) and making it less so. There have never been more tools available that people can leverage in the pursuit of knowledge. And with this fact in mind, if you’re looking to brush up on your Algebra check out Shapiro’s article (and the Dragonbox app) here. And if you’re looking to find learning tools that will help you develop some other competency then Google is this way.

2. S. Slade Sundar has a wonderful piece up on Linkedin wherein he highlights the difference between a high-performer and an over-achiever. Over-achievers are very good at executing; they do this by leveraging their high work ethics to complete exceptional volumes of work. Despite their productivity, however, over-achiever’s work efforts are more likely to maintain the status-quo than to create meaningful change. Over-achievers often struggle with big-picture thinking and planning because it doesn’t provide the instant-gratification and tangible results that generally act as their guiding incentives and reward mechanisms. As opposed to a sense of urgency and ability to execute, seeing transformational strategies through takes patience and vision; both are capabilities that high-performers have in abundance but over-achievers often don’t. Fortunately, with time and effort patience and vision can be cultivated into competencies. To learn more about how, check out Sundar’s post on Linkedin here.

3. According to research published by University of Kansas HR professors James Guthrie and Jay Lee, high-executive turnover is correlated with lower firm performance. This may seem intuitive to many, but often times organizations respond to poor shareholder returns by turning over top management. Granted, it’s entirely possible that the exec-turnover/firm performance relationship exists because organizations that aren’t performing oust their senior leaders… but as the professors go on to state it’s also possible that companies exacerbate their problems by ousting senior leaders with valuable institutional knowledge and relationships that can’t be replaced by external hires. Ergo, in their efforts to bring in new thinking to turnaround poor performance, they diminish their firm’s execution capabilities by removing key linchpins from the hierarchy. The jury is still out on if the professor’s hypothesis is accurate or not, but Mark McGraw does an excellent job of summarizing the research enough to get one started on forming their own conclusions at Human Resource Executive Online here.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.