Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says “DQ” is as important as IQ or EQ.
A few years ago, Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard, was searching for a concise way to describe his approach to community outreach and other social impact initiatives. Employees, he says, were constantly asking him what criteria he applied when, say, deciding to send supplies and volunteers in the wake of the hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico. At one town hall he blurted out the term “DQ,” short for “decency quotient.” The term stuck.
Ask any leader whether his or her organization values collaboration, and you’ll get a resounding yes. Ask whether the firm’s strategies to increase collaboration have been successful, and you’ll probably receive a different answer.
“No change seems to stick or to produce what we expected,” an
executive at a large pharmaceutical company recently told me. Most of
the dozens of leaders I’ve interviewed on the subject report similar
feelings of frustration: So much hope and effort, so little to show for
One problem is that leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.
Diversity is multifaceted in my view. It includes gender, age, cultural background, knowledge and skillset. Diversity is about having different ideas, perspectives and approaches. However, diversity is only the first step and will not on its own provide results. Inclusion is where the magic starts to happen.
Diversity and inclusion are important to me. It is on a personal and professional level.
I am a father of three kids, two girls and a boy. I want them to grow
up in a world and society where there is not only equal opportunity
regardless of background or gender, but that diversity is valued and
strived for. I was born in Iran and raised in Sweden. For many years I
struggled in Sweden with my identity and to try to fit in. I tried to be
like everyone else. Over time I have come to appreciate the perspective
that my original culture has given me. Being born in one country,
raised in another, and travelling the world has allowed me to understand
the importance of perspectives — the more diverse, the better.
The internet is one big reason why we will find it increasingly difficult to separate out the assets of a company from the assets of its founders or CEOs, as I discuss in my latest Bloomberg column:
More important, social media personalizes agency — in
effect, making it easier to accuse particular individuals of wrongdoing.
Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and the Koch brothers all have images or
iconic photos that can be put into a social media post, amplifying any
attack on their respective companies. It is harder to vilify Exxon, in
part because hardly anyone can name its CEO (Darren Woods, since 2017),
who in any case did not create the current version of the company.
Putting the Exxon logo on your vituperative social media post just
doesn’t have the same impact. With Bill Gates having stepped down as
Microsoft CEO in 2000, it is harder to vilify that company as well.
This personalization of corporate evil has become a bigger issue in
part because many prominent tech companies are currently led by their
founders, and also because the number of publicly traded companies has
been falling, which means there are fewer truly anonymous corporations.
It’s not hard to imagine a future in which the most important decision a
new company makes is how personalized it wants to be. A well-known
founder can spark interest in the company and its products, and help to
attract talent. At the same time, a personalized company is potentially a
much greater target.
The more human identities and feelings are part of the equation,
however, the harder it will be to keep the classic distinction between a
corporation and its owners. As the era of personalization evolves, it
will inevitably engulf that most impersonal of entities — the
Do read the whole thing. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-16/purdue-pharma-bankruptcy-how-much-will-the-sackler-family-pay
companies have a serious addiction to brainstorming. Whenever a problem
arises, the team is called to gather and shout out possible solutions,
with at least one notetaker scrambling to get everything down. It’s as
if this were the only known way out of a pickle, or into a new
project—and it can feel like a supreme waste of time, especially when
the same few dominating personalities ruin the mood.
Yet the value of brainstorming is rarely questioned. (A notable exception is a 2012 New Yorker story arguing that research cannot scientifically validate the effectiveness of the process, but even that did little to get in the way of the ubiquity of brainstorming.) Perhaps that’s because the idea of brainstorming seemingly has always existed; it’s as much a part of workplace culture as pizza parties or sales reports.
I have to stay home sick from work, I’m always uncertain about how much
detail to give. Do I let my boss know that I have the stomach flu,
specifically? Or would she prefer the simple elegance of “feeling under
I mentioned this conundrum at a recent dinner with three friends, all of whom are managers. For the most part, they agreed they would not want to know the particulars of an employee’s reasons for missing work. They trust the people they manage and are troubled by the idea that workers would feel pressured to disclose the minutiae of their bodily ailments. The exception, they said, is when an employee has a chronic illness or condition, in which case it’s helpful to have a bit of context for regular absences.
The Buddha would have made an excellent product manager 🤩️. He was obsessed with solving people’s problems, he summarized his ideas into handy lists, and he developed simple frameworks for achieving his vision. He was also one of the earliest practitioners of working from first principles, famously sitting under a Bodhi tree for forty nine days straight in order to “see things as they truly were.” 🧘♂️