This is how creative people’s brains work differently

The shadow of a child is seen while he paints during a painting competition organized to mark World Down's Syndrome Day in Kathmandu March 21, 2011. Down's Syndrome is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation, occurring in 1 out of 700 live births worldwide. Down's occurs when a child has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the normal two. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar (NEPAL - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY) - GM1E73L1IJD01

Image: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Creativity is often defined as the ability to come up with new and useful ideas. Like intelligence, it can be considered a trait that everyone – not just creative “geniuses” like Picasso and Steve Jobs – possesses in some capacity.

It’s not just your ability to draw a picture or design a product. We all need to think creatively in our daily lives, whether it’s figuring out how to make dinner using leftovers or fashioning a Halloween costume out of clothes in your closet. Creative tasks range from what researchers call “little-c” creativity – making a website, crafting a birthday present or coming up with a funny joke – to “Big-C” creativity: writing a speech, composing a poem or designing a scientific experiment.

Psychology and neuroscience researchers have started to identify thinking processes and brain regions involved with creativity. Recent evidence suggests that creativity involves a complex interplay between spontaneous and controlled thinking – the ability to both spontaneously brainstorm ideas and deliberately evaluate them to determine whether they’ll actually work.

Despite this progress, the answer to one question has remained particularly elusive: What makes some people more creative than others?

In a new study, my colleagues and I examined whether a person’s creative thinking ability can be explained, in part, by a connection between three brain networks.

Mapping the brain during creative thinking

In the study, we had 163 participants complete a classic test of “divergent thinking” called the alternate uses task, which asks people to think of new and unusual uses for objects. As they completed the test, they underwent fMRI scans, which measures blood flow to parts of the brain.

The task assesses people’s ability to diverge from the common uses of an object. For example, in the study, we showed participants different objects on a screen, such as a gum wrapper or a sock, and asked to come up with creative ways to use them. Some ideas were more creative than others. For the sock, one participant suggested using it to warm your feet – the common use for a sock – while another participant suggested using it as a water filtration system.

Importantly, we found that people who did better on this task also tended to report having more creative hobbies and achievements, which is consistent with previous studies showing that the task measures general creative thinking ability.

After participants completed these creative thinking tasks in the fMRI, we measured functional connectivity between all brain regions – how much activity in one region correlated with activity in another region.

We also ranked their ideas for originality: Common uses received lower scores (using a sock to warm your feet), while uncommon uses received higher scores (using a sock as a water filtration system).

Then we correlated each person’s creativity score with all possible brain connections (approximately 35,000), and removed connections that, according to our analysis, didn’t correlate with creativity scores. The remaining connections constituted a “high-creative” network, a set of connections highly relevant to generating original ideas.

Image: The Conversation

Having defined the network, we wanted to see if someone with stronger connections in this high-creative network would score well on the tasks. So we measured the strength of a person’s connections in this network, and then used predictive modeling to test whether we could estimate a person’s creativity score.

The models revealed a significant correlation between the predicted and observed creativity scores. In other words, we could estimate how creative a person’s ideas would be based on the strength of their connections in this network.

We further tested whether we could predict creative thinking ability in three new samples of participants whose brain data were not used in building the network model. Across all samples, we found that we could predict – albeit modestly – a person’s creative ability based on the strength of their connections in this same network.

Overall, people with stronger connections came up with better ideas.

What’s happening in a ‘high-creative’ network

We found that the brain regions within the “high-creative” network belonged to three specific brain systems: the default, salience and executive networks.

The default network is a set of brain regions that activate when people are engaged in spontaneous thinking, such as mind-wandering, daydreaming and imagining. This network may play a key role in idea generation or brainstorming – thinking of several possible solutions to a problem.

The executive control network is a set of regions that activate when people need to focus or control their thought processes. This network may play a key role in idea evaluation or determining whether brainstormed ideas will actually work and modifying them to fit the creative goal.

The salience network is a set of regions that acts as a switching mechanism between the default and executive networks. This network may play a key role in alternating between idea generation and idea evaluation.

An interesting feature of these three networks is that they typically don’t get activated at the same time. For example, when the executive network is activated, the default network is usually deactivated. Our results suggest that creative people are better able to co-activate brain networks that usually work separately.

Our findings indicate that the creative brain is “wired” differently and that creative people are better able to engage brain systems that don’t typically work together. Interestingly, the results are consistent with recent fMRI studies of professional artists, including jazz musicians improvising melodiespoets writing new lines of poetry and visual artists sketching ideas for a book cover.

Future research is needed to determine whether these networks are malleable or relatively fixed. For example, does taking drawing classes lead to greater connectivity within these brain networks? Is it possible to boost general creative thinking ability by modifying network connections?

For now, these questions remain unanswered. As researchers, we just need to engage our own creative networks to figure out how to answer them.


The Past, Present And Future Of Social Media

A big part of my work as a digital analyst and anthropologist is to track emerging and disruptive technology trends and study their impact on business and society. In the early 2000s, much of that work was focused on what was Web 2.0, collaboration (office 2.0) and the rise of social media. It was a very special time in my career. I had the good fortune to be in the center of a very important shift in technology and culture. Not only did I track it, I was also involved in the development of many popular and influential tech companies and movements.

Mark Zuckerberg, Brian Solis, Kevin Rose

Even though I’ve since moved on to topics such as digital transformation, innovation, experience design, and corporate culture, As a digital anthropologist, I still track how people and their behaviors, values, norms, etc., are evolving as a result of social media. As you can imagine, this spans everything from politics to work to education to beauty and health and more.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared stories and thoughts about social media. Someone thought it would be a good idea to talk about it again.

Michael Stelzner is the founder of Social Media Examiner and also a good friend. He invited me on his popular podcast to revisit the rise of social media, talk about where it today and also explore where it’s going. I wanted to share our conversation with you here.

How Social Media Has Evolved and Where It Is Headed

The early days of social media were a really exciting time, Brian explains. After Web 2.0 in Silicon Valley in the mid-2000s, Facebook opened to the public in 2006, Twitter appeared in 2007, and early social networks like Friend Feed and Friendster were still around. Some people saw the promise of social media but most of the world had no idea. There was zero direction. Social media was, and still is in some ways, the Wild West.

When Brian wrote The Social Media Manifesto, he was thinking about the idea of a revolution. Social media had the potential to be a great democratizer of information. Social media was a platform where everyone could share their voice.

As someone who struggled to get through to traditional media or buy media to reach people, Brian believed that the ability to reach people directly and people-to-people engagement were going to be the future of all media. Brian wrote the manifesto so individuals, marketers, brands, and traditional media would think about the potential and how to be part of the movement, rather than try to control it and broadcast through it.

Listen now: Play in new window | Download

At the time, Brian ran a couple of companies, including an early digital agency/lab dedicated to helping startups reach their markets.

Using techniques that might be considered “growth hacking,” the agency found clever, nontraditional ways of helping companies with few resources get as big as they could so they could get acquired, make an IPO (initial public offering), or simply reach profitability. Brian was in and around the development of not only social media but also many other social technologies.

Brian says after the rise and fall of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 showed promise but was then hit with the economic challenge of the 2008 recession. However, Brian was interested in the way social media seemed almost recession-proof. It took everything by storm. For instance, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) enjoyed a surge in popularity around 2005 through 2007 with the rise of Web 2.0 and social media.

Plus, it was the beginning of entrepreneurship, at least in this era. Everybody in every industry was suddenly a social media pro. You had marketers, advertisers, coaches, you name it. Everybody latched onto social media because it seemed like it was the next gold rush.

Social media showed the promise of fantastic opportunities, not just from a market or a profit standpoint, but for changing the world. Brian wanted to do his part to steer social media in a positive and productive direction.

The Conversation Prism

Brian started working on The Conversation Prism in 2007, and it officially launched in 2008 at South by Southwest with posters all around Austin.

Brian created The Conversation Prism with the help of JESS3 as a response to the hundreds of social networks popping up everywhere: Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, and all of these “niche works,” as they were called. Ted Rheingold started Dogster and Catster, which were social networks for dog and cat owners. Plus, people became “social media experts” overnight. (RIP Ted.)

The Conversation Prism (along with The Social Media Manifesto) was Brian’s attempt to explore and make sense of this seemingly chaotic landscape. Brian says the work was like digital anthropology. He wanted to organize all of the networks according to what they offered, their promise, and how people were using them.

At the center of The Conversation Prism was the idea that all of these things came together in some way, shape, or form. The map was also created so marketers, media outlets, and brands could see all of the social networks, think about how they were being used, and figure out how to listen to conversations and where to engage.

The early drafts of the Prism showed how one conversation could bend light and go everywhere. However, as the Prism added hundreds of networks, stacking them vertically became impossible. Instead, Brian tried to create a visual that was still true to the sense of a prism with spectra of conversations across the web, so he ended up organizing The Conversation Prism in a circular form.

When The Conversation Prism hit the market in 2008, it took off like crazy. Initially, The Conversation Prism was just a free infographic, but due to high demand, was later sold as a 22 x 28-inch poster. Marketers, brands, and entrepreneurs hung it up on their walls for inspiration.

The Conversation Prism also inspired a lot of platforms like Radian6 to create technologies that would allow people essentially to bring The Conversation Prism to life. They started a massive movement.

Listen to the show to hear Brian discuss the impact of apps and mobile on The Conversation Prism.

The Latest Conversation Prism Update

The Conversation Prism was recently updated for the first time in four years. During that time, Brian has been busy covering everything from digital transformation, corporate innovation, and customer and employee experience to corporate culture and disruptive technologies.

Since the last update, social media has found its stride. Instead of big disruption, many social networks came and went. Because many platforms were turning over quickly, he let the changes play out. Over the last year or so, Brian got really serious about the update. His friend Jaimy Szymanski helped with this version, in which they removed 84 companies and added 141.

They also added new categories without taking any away. This change shows that social media is getting more sophisticated and expansive. For instance, they added messaging, as well as crowdfunding, and travel and hospitality, because social media is becoming more vertical. They also started to track connecting IRL, which are social networks (like Tinder), which bring people together in real life.

Listen to the show to hear Brian and I discuss one of the platforms that disappeared quickly.

The Rise of Live Video, Messaging, and More

I ask Brian for his thoughts on a variety of things related to social media in the next part of our conversation.

Live Video. Live video is the next iteration of how people share themselves, as well as how they watch or follow others. In the beginning, social media was largely text and then evolved into imagery, and later, more sophisticated imagery. Video started with YouTube, Vimeo, and other early networks. Now, live video has turned people into real-time broadcasters.

Many of these people simply share who they are and what they’re doing right now. Or they use live video to share serendipitous moments. However, others use live video as full-on broadcast mechanisms to engage new audiences in ways that weren’t possible before. These users are almost becoming like their own TV networks.

In some ways, people haven’t been very creative in the way they use live video. But Facebook, for example, has started to show what’s possible beyond Twitter, Periscope, and Meerkat. People can engage small or large groups around moments that matter.

Algorithms. There are algorithms, artificial intelligence, and what Brian calls “the human algorithm.” Algorithms are designed by different companies for different purposes. Companies need to consider the human algorithm (human aspiration and intent) in terms of purpose, outcomes, and possibilities.

Without a positive, optimistic approach, you can quickly steer people into a lot of trouble. Brian believes that by aligning artificial intelligence with the human algorithm, algorithms can be much more human, relevant, and promising.

When I ask Brian if algorithms have forced live video to be more necessary, he says yes and no. You need to consider the human algorithm element. Just because you have the platform doesn’t mean that you’re going to be engaging or sharable.

“With social media comes great responsibility and great opportunity,” Brian says. Broadcasting means you have to challenge yourself to think about whom you are trying to reach, why you want to be followed or watched, and what kind of content and engagement strategy you will build around it to be relevant. Then, to make sure you’re plugging into the algorithms so you reach your desired audience, you need to assess how the algorithms work and how they’re always changing.

Looking at The Conversation Prism 5.0 from the center outward, a content creator, consumer, brand, or marketer can see a framework for designing strategies for reaching the right people. Those algorithms should be considered as part of that strategy.

Live video goes back several years. The success of live video has depended not only on a platform but also on interesting, engaging content. Justin Kan’s startup,, allowed people to live-stream their lives. has since become Twitch, which is live gaming. had to pivot because some people were broadcasting their lives because they could, and it wasn’t really interesting. Another platform, Ustream, appeared after

Facebook has really demonstrated what’s possible because it’s such a huge platform where people have a built-in audience. The algorithm will definitely affect who you do and don’t reach. At the moment, Facebook is putting substance behind live, so now is probably the best time ever to get into live video.

Messaging. Messaging is the result of people’s increasingly mobile lifestyle. Messaging and notifications have become massive and led to different types of messaging, such as Snapchat, not just texting. Similarly, Dave Morin, who was an early driver of Facebook, founded a great network called Path, which was about intimate, immediate social networking with the people who mattered in your world.

Although Path came and went, you can still find messaging that harnesses the private, public, and other types of moments. There’s this famous saying, “You live a private life, you live a public life, you live a secret life, and there are networks for all of them.”

Augmented Reality. Augmented reality goes back to the early days of mobile. It allows you to add a layer that really brings the real world to life. People are doing this to some extent, just not in real time. For instance, in the early days of the iPhone, Brian and a friend developed technology for seeing enhanced information about products in-store. You could hold the phone over UPC codes in supermarkets, and product information appeared. QR codes also came out around that time, and others were experimenting with consumer applications, too.

Brian calls these types of programs “experience architecture.” That is, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean it’s necessary. However, you can find great augmented reality applications, one of which is the vertical windshield.

Social Television. Facebook Watch was just announced, while major companies including Snapchat, Twitter, and Apple are making huge bets bringing television to mobile and some of the social platforms.

Social TV is the next big thing, Brian says. It was born out of what people did anyway: watching television and going on social media to participate in the conversation. Content playing directly on the network will further integrate the experience.

In early attempts, dedicated social networks had content as the mainstay, and people engaged around the content. However, better opportunities come when you engage with your social or interest graph and introduce content into that mix. Everybody’s starting to bid on and create content. It’s a matter of time until we start to see what Netflix, Amazon, and Apple create.

Determining Influence. Brian has been studying digital influence since 1997. Brian observed random people becoming incredibly influential, meaning they could have an effect or change behavior. Lots of tools can help you find great people. But like any data point, you get out of it what you put into it. You have to really be mindful of what you’re thinking about so you can find the right people to be involved.

Artificial Intelligence. Anytime there’s a new technology, marketing tends to put that technology in the portfolio of classical marketing. Brian has seen this with social media, the Internet of things, everything. He believes artificial intelligence isn’t something that should simply be added to the mix.

Marketing is ripe for innovation and disruption. So much is possible when you start thinking differently about data, platforms, and opportunities. Artificial intelligence will make certain things better and traditional marketing even worse. To illustrate, an artificial intelligence platform called Kahuna plugs into marketing and can help you better understand how people consume content.

As long as people’s minds are open to doing things in new ways, artificial intelligence will make this generation of marketers the most valuable breed. When individuals think differently about their approaches and build on that, that’s when they win.

It comes down to experience architecture, Brian says. People need to design new ways of doing or seeing things so the outcomes become wonderful experiences that people didn’t know were possible. This field is for anybody who wants to re-create themselves as a relevant strategist or expert in the future.

Listen to the show to learn about the great unbundling.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

About Brian

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Designexplores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

SourceBrian Solis, November 6, 2017 in Social Media

LinkedIn Analyzed the Class of 2017. These Were the Top 10 Skills That Got Them Hired

Landing a job fresh out of college is no easy feat. Although a vast majority of graduates feel they are ready to start their careers, the truth is that only 50 percent of managers agree, according to a PayScale report.

This disparity in confidence is caused by a skills gap that is making securing a desired job upon graduation more challenging than many graduates anticipate.

Luckily, LinkedIn took a look at what made the class of 2017 successful and published a guide to getting hired in 2018. These were the top 10 skills that helped new grads land their first job. I’ve added my personal observations on each.

1. Microsoft Office

Most business programs offer a Microsoft Office class as part of the curriculum. Regardless, everyone should take one as an elective. I spend 80 percent of my day in programs like Outlook, Word, and Excel.

Taking a class now to pick up the basics will shave weeks off the learning curve and allow a new graduate to focus on learning other aspects of the job.

2. Customer Service

Every job has a customer service component. Whether it’s behind a customer service kiosk or managing internal employee issues, every role requires you to provide some sort of satisfactory service to internal or external customers.

Effective communication, problem-solving, and listening skills are vital to delivering excellent customer services and are transferable abilities regardless of what career path.

3. Leadership

When I interview new graduates, this is one of those skills that most have a hard time conveying. I get it. You just graduated and haven’t had many opportunities to “lead” yet. However, if you take the time to break down leadership, you’ll notice that you’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice. Campus leadership experience counts — consider where you took a leadership role in a student organization or a group project.

When I sit down with new graduates, I’m looking for glimpses of leadership abilities like initiative, an attitude of servitude, persistence, and reliability.

4. Public Speaking

It’s hard to build a personal brand and succeed in the workplace if you can’t convey your ideas to others. If you want to fast-track your career, then focus on developing presentation skills and get comfortable speaking in front of others.

In my experience, possessing this skill is one of the easiest ways to secure additional opportunities. Public speaking remains one of the biggest fears for most people. If you can overcome the anxiety in school, it will position you well for early career success.

5. Social Media

Social media proficiency is like knowing a second language. It doesn’t matter which industry you work in (retail or health care), platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have become some of the most effective ways to build a brand and interact with customers.

In addition to knowing how to operate multiple platforms, take a look at hard skills like social media listening, writing skills, and content creation to help boost your social media competency.

6. Teamwork

Working in a team combines many vital skills. To be successful in a group, you’ll need to: communicate effectively, listen intently, pay attention to the details, hold up your end of the bargain and be reliable, and problem solve.

Most important, you’ll have to learn that it’s not all about you. Collaboration is key to being a supportive and successful team member.

7. Time Management

Unlike school, the work environment (depending upon the job) can be a little less structured than what most graduates are used to. Managers will assign work and trust that you’ll get it done.

Time management skills that can set you apart include prioritization, planning, ability to focus, decision making, self-motivation, and organization skills.

8. Research

While you’re developing hard skills, many managers will rely on new graduates for research. Learning how to find useful information and presenting it succinctly is the first step to eventually managing a project.

Fundamental skills here are critical thinking and analysis, report writing, and presentation skills.

9. Management

Although you may not be a manager for a few years, that doesn’t mean you can start practicing now.

Early management skills include communication, execution, innovation, and motivating or galvanizing others. You can practice by assisting your supervisor with project management or coordinating work on a cross-functional initiative.

10. Event Planning

Planning a work event is one of the earliest opportunities new graduates have at showcasing abilities such as organization, multitasking, and problem-solving skills.

Whether it’s team meetings, interviews, or internship initiatives, taking on event planning is a quick way to demonstrate your versatility and ability to take something through from concept to fruition.

Landing a great job directly after college is a formidable task. However, focusing on developing this list of 10 transferable skills will position you well for early success.

Source:  Michael Schneider, Human capital specialist, Inc.

Competitive Technology Intelligence (CTI): The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Is Your Job Under Threat?

Image credit: SRI International

Read this article to learn more about the future of AI and whether you should be worried about losing your job anytime soon.

Since the dawn of machinery and the first flickering of computer technology, humanity has been obsessed with the idea of artificial intelligence — the concept that machines could one day interact, respond, and think for themselves as if they were truly alive.

Every year, the possibility of an “intelligent technology” future becomes more and more of a reality — as algorithms and machine learning improve at a lightning-fast rate. According to experts across the globe, machines will soon be capable of replacing a variety of jobs — from writing bestsellers to composing Top 40 pop songs and even performing your open-heart surgery!

However, the biggest questions remain: how long until that point, and how did we get to where we are now?

The Origins of AI

When attempting to chart the future, it’s always essential to know the past. While the idea of “artificial intelligence” had been speculated about in fiction for centuries — as far back as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) — it was not until Alan Turing in 1950 that the concept of AI first became more than a fantasy.

Most famous as the man behind the Enigma code-breaking machine during the Second World War, the English computer scientist and mathematician spent his time post-war devising the Turing Test. Basic but effective in nature, the test involves seeing if artificial intelligence can hold a realistic conversation with a human being, thereby convincing them they are also human.

Forming the background to AI measurements ever since its introduction in Turing’s paper, it was only in 2014 that a Russian-designed chatbot programmer, Eugene, was able to successfully convince 33% of human judges. Turing’s original test suggested that over 30% was a pass — but clearly, there is plenty of room for improvement in the future.

The Evolution of AI

Image credit: NatWest

Since Turing’s Test, AI was limited to basic computer models — with MIT professor John McCarthy coining the phrase “artificial intelligence” in 1955. While working at MIT, he created an AI laboratory where he developed LISP (Full List Processing), a computer programming language for robotics designed around offering expansion potential as technology improved in the future.

Despite some base model machines showing promise, from the “first robotic person” Shakey the Robot in 1966, to anthropomorphic androids WABOT-1 and WABOT-2 from Waseda University – the field of AI started to plateau in the 1980’s. It wasn’t until Rodney Brooks in 1990 that the idea of computer intelligence would be revitalized.

In his seminal 1990 paper, “Elephants Don’t Play Chess”, Brooks suggested that the robotics field had been approaching the idea of artificial intelligence all wrong. Instead of creating machines that could carry out ever-more advanced singular “top-down” tasks — from playing the piano to calculating math problems — AI should be a machine-based relationship with the world around it or “bottom-up”.

It might sound obvious to us now, thanks to a lifetime rooted in the advances of AI, but back in the early 90s, the suggestion that artificial intelligence should be reactive to its surroundings was revolutionary.

The Future AI Job Market

One of the biggest “bottom-up” advances for artificial intelligence is the ability to be intuitive in planning and responding to tasks. Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in this regard came in 2016 when AlphaGo, a custom program developed by Google’s DeepMind AI unit, beat the world’s best “Go” player.

The historical Chinese board game had long been one of AI’s greatest challenges, the sheer variety of possible moves demanding players evaluate and react in countless different ways to each turn. That a program was finally able to challenge this level of “humanity” was a real breakthrough, even more than IBM’s Deep Blue over chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996.

Because of the leap forward in intelligence, experts from across the globe now predict we will see an AI program be able to win the World Series of Poker in just two short years. Not only that, but the same reactive technology is currently being investigated by the banking sector — with Natwest’s “Cora” chatbot tipped to replace all telephone banking by 2022.

What about other job sectors? Are they too under threat from the advancement of artificial intelligence? Well, recent research from survey company Gartner suggests that 85% of customer interactions in retail will be AI-managed by 2020. The other 15%, mainly the human sales process, will take a fair while longer, with 2031 the closest estimate for full replacement.

What can be done?

Because automation has crept into modern society so slowly, it can be extremely difficult to predict how the job market will evolve as it gets ever more advanced. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be ensuring “artificial intelligence” does not lead to the mass-wipeout of several job sectors — almost certainly requiring new legislation to be passed, as well as a re-think of the employment market overall.

However, we have already seen shifts to incorporate the digital-driven advances in a variety of sectors, from banking to farming and beyond. Many predict that learning new skills early will be crucial for any affected sector, which looks set to be many of them. In short, the only way to beat the machines is to join them or at the very least know how to use them.

Commenting on the risk of artificial intelligence on the labor market, James Tweddle, AI Specialist at AI vs Humanity, said:

“The risk to the labor market from artificial intelligence is a growing one, particularly given the rapid rate at which AI seems to be developing. One of the biggest challenges for any artificial intelligence is the idea of ‘bottom-up’ learning — the ability for a machine mind to react in a situational manner rather than simply following algorithms. It is this lack of emotional intelligence within AI that gives humans the edge over robots. However, we must ensure that our skill set remains up to date if we are to compete going forward.”

TrueSight is an AIOps platform, powered by machine learning and analytics, that elevates IT operations to address multi-cloud complexity and the speed of digital transformation.

Source: by Lucia Widdop, May. 22, 18 · AI Zone · Opinion 

The science of the plot twist: How writers exploit our brains

Recently I did something that many people would consider unthinkable, or at least perverse. Before going to see “Avengers: Infinity War,” I deliberately read a review that revealed all of the major plot points, from start to finish.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to share any of those spoilers here. Though I do think the aversion to spoilers – what The New York Times’ A.O. Scott recently lamented as “a phobic, hypersensitive taboo against public discussion of anything that happens onscreen” – is a bit overblown.

As a cognitive scientist who studies the relationship between cognition and narratives, I know that movies – like all stories – exploit our natural tendency to anticipate what’s coming next.

These cognitive tendencies help explain why plot twists can be so satisfying. But somewhat counterintuitively, they also explain why knowing about a plot twist ahead of time – the dreaded “spoiler” – doesn’t really spoil the experience at all.

The curse of knowledge

When you pick up a book for the first time, you usually want to have some sense of what you’re signing up for – cozy mysteries, for instance, aren’t supposed to feature graphic violence and sex. But you’re probably also hoping that what you read won’t be entirely predictable.

To some extent, the fear of spoilers is well-grounded. You only have one opportunity to learn something for the first time. Once you’ve learned it, that knowledge affects what you notice, what you anticipate – and even the limits of your imagination.

What we know trips us up in lots of ways, a general tendency known as the “curse of knowledge.”

For example, when we know the answer to a puzzle, that knowledge makes it harder for us to estimate how difficult that puzzle will be for someone else to solve: We’ll assume it’s easier than it really is.

When we know the resolution of an event – whether it’s a basketball game or an election – we tend to overestimate how likely that outcome was.

Information we encounter early on influences our estimation of what is possible later. It doesn’t matter whether we’re reading a story or negotiating a salary: Any initial starting point for our reasoning – however arbitrary or apparently irrelevant – “anchors” our analysis. In one study, legal experts given a hypothetical criminal case argued for longer sentences when presented with larger numbers on randomly rolled dice.

Plot twists pull everything together

Either consciously or intuitively, good writers know all of this.

An effective narrative works its magic, in part, by taking advantage of these, and other, predictable habits of thought. Red herrings, for example, are a type of anchor that set false expectations – and can make twists seem more surprising.

A major part of the pleasure of plot twists, too, comes not from the shock of surprise, but from looking back at the early bits of the narrative in light of the twist. The most satisfying surprises get their power from giving us a fresh, better way of making sense of the material that came before. This is another opportunity for stories to turn the curse of knowledge to their advantage.

Remember that once we know the answer to a puzzle, its clues can seem more transparent than they really were. When we revisit early parts of the story in light of that knowledge, well-constructed clues take on new, satisfying significance.

Consider “The Sixth Sense.” After unleashing its big plot twist – that Bruce Willis’ character has, all along, been one of the “dead people” that only the child protagonist can see – it presents a flash reprisal of scenes that make new sense in light of the surprise. We now see, for instance, that his wife (in fact, his widow) did not snatch up the check at a restaurant before he could take it out of pique. Instead it was because, as far as she knew, she was dining alone.

Even years after the film’s release, viewers take pleasure in this twist, savoring the degree to which it should be “obvious if you pay attention” to earlier parts the film.

The pluses and minuses of the spoiler

At the same time, studies show that even when people are certain of an outcome, they reliably experience suspense, surprise and emotion. Action sequences are still heart-pounding; jokes are still funny; and poignant moments can still make us cry.

As UC San Diego researchers Jonathan Levitt and Nicholas Christenfeld have recently demonstrated, spoilers don’t spoil. In many cases, spoilers actively enhance enjoyment.

In fact, when a major turn in a narrative is truly unanticipated, it can have a catastrophic effect on enjoyment – as many outraged “Infinity War” viewers can testify.

If you know the twist beforehand, the curse of knowledge has more time to work its magic. Early elements of the story will seem to presage the ending more clearly when you know what that ending is. This can make the work as a whole feel more coherent, unified and satisfying.

Of course, anticipation is a delicious pleasure in its own right. Learning plot twists ahead of time can reduce that excitement, even if the foreknowledge doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of the story itself.

Marketing experts know that what spoilers do spoil is the urgency of consumers’ desire to watch or read a story. People can even find themselves so sapped of interest and anticipation that they stay home, robbing themselves of the pleasure they would have had if they’d simply never learned of the outcome.

Source/Author Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University, published The Conversation 

Disclosure statement

Vera Tobin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Going Google: Betting big on artificial intelligence

The Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA – packed with 7,000 excited tech enthusiasts.

For an organisation like BRAC, the implications of using AI to better understand clients needs has limitless potential. Imagine the students from our 20,000 schools getting customised feedback on their learning needs. With our vision centres in place, aiming to complete 1 million eye check-ups in the next two years, an Aravind-esque project is not a distant reality to provide better support to medical professionals.

Google I/O 2018 was exciting, fun, full of new innovations and most of all, about the tremendous potential that artificial intelligence brings to augment human capabilities. Google is betting big on AI and one clear manifestation of that intent was the rebranding of Google Research division to simply, Google AI. As a company which has always been the  trendsetter in the global technology landscape, bar a few exceptions (Google Plus, anyone?), Google has reiterated its commitment to go big with AI in their annual gathering of developers and partners.

Starting from the very beginning of CEO Sundar Pichai’s keynote, where he emphasised on the need for bringing in new innovation in the field of AI through new products, to demos which got a stadium full of 7,000 people cheering their hearts out- it was made sure that Google’s AI has arrived and it’s not taking any prisoners! Sessions experienced by millions of people from different countries, the environment in Shoreline Amphitheatre, the venue of the I/O, was electrifying. Some 7,000 coders, developers, engineers, technologists and tech enthusiasts gathered up to see what Google had to offer to the whole world in 2018. Google didn’t disappoint.

The most applauses and excitement was reserved for that one instance when a recording of an actual call made by the Google Assistant making a reservation with a human employee of a barber shop was played during Pichai’s demo. It was eerily human-like and full of human expressions. There are already ethical debates about this going public but this just shows how fast AI is learning to mimic human behaviour and mannerisms.

The following keynotes also shared exciting new updates on Maps, Android, Lens and a revamped News app. The jazzed up new version of the Google Map, which will combine real images with navigation tools got a huge approval boost from the crowd – proving how popular the service is with people. The days of the solitary blue dot representing you on a digital map is limited.

Being a huge tech enthusiast but a non-coder/developer meant that I missed out on a big number of very technical events designed for experts. But this year’s I/O had all kinds of sessions and engagement opportunities starting from more broader discussions around different areas like the applications of machine learning, AI and big data to experience zones where attendees could learn about the more wackier usage of Google tools.

There was considerable excitement about sessions on combining AI and machine learning to support healthcare. Jessica Mega from Alphabet’s Verily, a healthtech company which ventured out of Google and Google X, talked about how deep learning, a type of machine learning, and AI is helping doctors diagnose for diabetic retinotherapy (diabetes induced preventable blindness). The pilotthey are doing right now with Aravind Eye Hospital in India is showing great early results and can be easily scaled up with other healthcare service providers.

Another surprise hit was a session on how technology can help change the lives of people for the better. A panel moderated by’s president Jacquelline Fuller, with panellists featuring non-profit founders were sold out and was filled to the brim. Jess Ladd, founder of Callisto, a reporting platform for sexual assaults, passionately talked about her own traumas and how it guides her current work of giving other victims of sexual assault a tool to fight back. Alex Bernadotte, the founder of Beyond 12, an online coaching and mentoring platform for young people, pointed out that technology is never going to replace humans as in her platform as well, human mentors are supported by Google’s tech.

One thing that came up from I/O 2018 very strongly is that Google is thinking very about the digital wellbeing of its users and it was evident from how they are planning to bring in modifications to their existing and new products. For an example, the simple act of greying out your screen after a pre-designated sleeping time will give your brain the much needed willpower to stave off the smartphone!

If Google’s predictions are right then we have an exciting time ahead of us as AI starts getting more intelligent and all pervasive. The India example shows that the bottom billion can also benefit from it’s advances and the opportunities that it creates. How we choose to use it up to us.

For an organisation like BRAC, the implications of using AI to better understand clients needs has limitless potential. Imagine the students from our 20,000 schools getting customised feedback on their learning needs from their teacher who is aided by an AI- which analyses thousands of data points and predicts which student needs help with what. With our vision centres in place, aiming to complete 1 million eye check-ups in the next two years, an Aravind-esque project is not a distant reality to provide better support to medical professionals.

Future tech-driven utopian ideas will surely raise a few eyebrows and invite quite relevant criticism. The important thing to remember in here is technology is just means to an end and not the end itself. As Atul Gawande, the public health researcher, put it: ‘we yearn for frictionless, technological solutions. But people talking to people is still the way that norms and standards change.’

Source: Rakib Avi is the programme manager of BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab, MAY 20, 2018

The 5 Jobs That Workers Will Move For, and Where They Want to Move

San Francisco

Tech companies in big coastal cities, such as San Francisco or New York, are attracting the most out-of-town candidates, according to a new study from recruiting site Glassdoor.

Those applicants are interested in jobs involving technology and engineering.

Applicants are generally interested in moving to big, expensive coastal hubs that serve as the headquarters for many tech companies. This despite the fact that Department of Labor statistics show that the highest rate of job openings is in the Midwest and industries including retail, hospitality, and health care are experiencing worker shortages.

Workers who move are willing to shoulder the cost of moving and the higher cost of living to land jobs at tech companies with high salaries.

Here are the top cities workers would move to:

1. San Francisco

2. New York

3. San Jose, California

4. Los Angeles

5. Washington, D.C.

6. Boston

7. Chicago

8. Seattle

9. Dallas

10. Austin

Here are the top jobs they would move for:

1. Chemical engineer

2. Oracle database administrator

3. ATG developer (e-commerce)

4. Industrial engineer

5. Salesforce developer

Source: By Yasmin Gagné, Inc. staff

Inteligência Competitiva: Por que falham as reestruturações empresariais?

“Quando falta milho no terreiro, as galinhas se bicam.”Tão simples como lapidar, foi com essa frase que Luiz Fernando Furlan definiu o impasse pelo qual passa a BRF, ironicamente, uma das maiores produtoras de frangos do mundo.

Só para situar eventuais desavisados, as “galinhas”, no caso, são membros do conselho de administração da empresa que entraram em rota explícita de confronto. De um lado da rinha, ficou o empresário Abilio Diniz.

Do outro, os fundos de pensão Petrus e Previ. Já o “milho”é o mesmo de sempre – o bom e velho lucro. E ele sumiu. Em 2017 , a BRF, companhia da qual Furlan é acionista, amargou um prejuízo de R$ 1,1 bilhão. Entre setembro do ano passado e abril deste ano, seu valor de mercado caiu de R$ 37 ,1 bilhões para R$ 18,9 bilhões.

Tal tropeço impressiona. A BRF é uma potência corporativa. Detém mais de 30 marcas, entre elas grande nomes como Sadia e Perdigão, tem perto de 30 mil fornecedores e 240 mil clientes globais.

Por isso, tem condições de se recuperar. Mas desde o fim de 2013, com a chegada de Diniz ao conselho, a empresa passou por uma reestruturação pesada. A ideia, proclamavam os executivos à época, era fazer emergir dali uma “Ambev dos alimentos”.

Houve cortes estruturais, demissões, realinhamentos estratégicos e, no fim das contas, veio o deslize. E essa sequência de ações que culminou em um tropeço deixa uma questão no ar: afinal, qual é o limite para a reestruturação de uma empresa? Dito de outra forma, até que ponto uma guinada corporativa é viável?

A julgar por um estudo da consultoria McKinsey, as chances de sucesso desse tipo de empreitada são baixas. O trabalho indica que sete entre dez tentativas de reestruturação – os “turnarounds” – simplesmente fracassam.

Os motivos desses malogros não deixam de ser surpreendentes. São eles a resistência da própria corporação – ou parte dela – a mudanças (39% dos casos), a falta de apoio dos gestores ao processo de transformação (33%), poucos recursos (como financeiros) disponíveis (14%) e outros motivos (14%), entre os quais a inexistência de um plano adequado.

Note-se que os dois principais itens, que respondem por 7 2% dos problemas, estão ligados a questões como coesão e engajamento.

E por que isso ocorre? Para responder a essa pergunta, é preciso conhecer dois pontos de vista diferentes – e, não raro, divergentes – dessa história. Um deles é o dos reestruturadores e o outro, dos reestruturados. Enéas Pestana tem experiência nos dois lados desse campo.

Hoje consultor (trabalha no aprimoramento do desempenho de empresas), ele era diretor financeiro do Grupo Pão de Açúcar (GPA) quando a companhia promoveu uma guinada estrutural, entre 2008 e 2010. Nesse caso, a transformação atingiu seus objetivos.

Ao fim do período, Pestana foi alçado a CEO do GPA, cargo no qual permaneceu até janeiro de 2014. Ele considera fácil entender o porquê do baixo engajamento dos gestores nas reestruturações. “Os executivos, em geral, conhecem todos os problemas da empresa e, muitas vezes, sabem como resolvê-los”, diz Pestana. “Mas eles não têm peso dentro da estrutura e muito menos força política para propor as alterações necessárias.”

“A polêmica dos cortes” Ainda que tais críticas se apliquem a parte dos casos, os reestruturadores reconhecem que podem falhar. Em uma empresa fragilizada, por exemplo, é um erro crasso deixar de fortalecer a geração de caixa para usar recursos escassos em atividades que não são cruciais à operação.

Também não se pode hesitar na tomada de decisões ou ater-se a pequenas coisas, deixando de lado o grande alvo da mudança.

Por fim, existe a dificuldade – e a inevitável polêmica – de encontrar o sutil equilíbrio entre um corte necessário e um talho destruidor, tanto em relação à estrutura física como ao quadro de funcionários da companhia em transformação.

Em relação aos cortes, a indústria da reestruturação tem suas regras de ouro. A primeira delas é elimine-se, sem cerimônia, onde houver duplicidade de funções ou de estrutura.

Ou ainda, é preferível uma empresa enxuta e viva a uma inchada e claudicante – ou mesmo morta. Essas incisões produziram até uma espécie de fábula, envolvendo uma galinha e um porco.

A história é a seguinte: os dois bichinhos queriam fazer uma omelete. Um deles tinha de oferecer os ovos e o outro, o toucinho. “É inevitável que a empresa em transformação seja o porquinho da história.

Ela tem de cortar a própria carne para resolver o problema”, diz Guilherme Mammana, da consultoria Doxa, e professor de um curso sobre reestruturação no Insper, a escola de economia e negócios situada em São Paulo.

O fato é que existem casos em que os cortes se mostraram redentores e em outros, para dizer o mínimo, nem tanto. A Vulcabras Azaleia, que detém marcas como Olympikus e Azaleia, é um exemplo de dieta corporativa severíssima, mas com efeito positivo ao fim.

Em 2011, a companhia era deficitária, altamente endividada e apresentava baixo fluxo de caixa. Acumulou cinco anos de maus resultados. Em 2016, voltou ao azul, embora menor. Muito menor, aliás. De 29 fábricas, sobraram 3.

O quadro de funcionários passou de 45 mil para 15 mil pessoas. A mudança, contudo, não se restringiu aos talhos. Ela teve um eixo estratégico. A Vulcabras deixou de ser uma empresa industrial, que competia em condições sempre desfavoráveis com os chineses.

Ela se tornou uma gerenciadora de marcas, à semelhança de companhias como Nike ou Adidas. Já entre os exemplos de casos em que os cortes passaram da conta os especialistas citam a BRF.

Observam que boa parte dos executivos demitidos pela empresa nos últimos anos foi parar na concorrência, fortalecendo, por exemplo, a marca Seara. Procurada, a BRF não quis participar desta reportagem.

Estresse excessivo

Dito assim, pode parecer que o problema das reestruturações está apenas nos reestruturadores. Obviamente não é assim. Em geral, dá-se o contrário: os reestruturados colaboram de maneira muito mais decisiva para uma verdadeira cascata de equívocos. E quais são seus maiores pecados?

O grande nó da transformação

No ramo da reestruturação desde 1995, Galeazzi participou de mudanças na BRF, no Pão de Açúcar e na Vulcabras: é conhecido como o “Mão de Tesouras” principal barreira para o sucesso de uma transformação é a demora das empresas em reagir às dificuldades.

Em grande medida, é essa velocidade de resposta que definirá o tipo – e a dose – do medicamento que será aplicado. Se o diagnóstico for precoce, dá-se um “early turnaround”, uma espécie de aprimoramento não traumático da operação.

Se o caso é grave, parte-se para uma reviravolta complexa, a reestruturação propriamente dita. A fase seguinte é a da recuperação judicial, criada pela lei 11.101, de 2005.

Ao recorrer à Justiça, o devedor tenta se proteger de credores hostis e ganha tempo para negociar as dívidas. Se nada der certo, vem a falência. Em diversas etapas desse trajeto, observam os especialistas, é comum que o comportamento do líder empresarial (o dono do negócio, principalmente) siga um roteiro típico de situações de estresse extremo.

Fragilizado, ele passa pela negação, raiva, barganha e depressão, até desembocar na aceitação do problema. É curioso, mas esse foi o script que moldou o mais popular reestruturador de empresas no Brasil – Cláudio Galeazzi, hoje com 7 8 anos.

Quatro décadas atrás, Galeazzi tinha uma empresa de perfuração de rochas. Ele diz que se recusou a participar de um “toma la dá cá”e perdeu uma obra importante. Como resultado, faliu.

Ainda assim, e à revelia da realidade, fazia planilhas imensas que provavam a viabilidade do negócio. Mas foi tudo em vão. Depois disso, atordoado entre credores, passou 40 dias em casa, deitado em um sofá, inerte, olhando para o teto. Seguiram-se sete anos duríssimos. Em uma ocasião, ele teve uma pedra no rim e, sem dinheiro, não pôde se internar em um hospital. Voltou para casa somente com a receita de um remédio para aliviar a dor.

No ramo da reestruturação desde 1995, Galeazzi participou da primeira fase das mudanças na BRF, conduziu o “turnaround”no Pão de Açúcar e a guinada na Vulcabras. É conhecido como o “Mão de Tesouras”, pelos cortes que perpetrou nesses e em muitas outras organizações.

Ao ouvir a alcunha, ele dá de ombros. Diz que as demissões, em muitos casos, são inevitáveis para a sobrevivência de empresas. O reestruturador, que tem a cara de um tigre tatuada nas costas, pretende lançar neste ano um livro sobre seus trabalhos, cujo título provisório é “Galeazzi – Sem Cortes”.

No mais, o apelido que remete a uma visão, digamos, “cortante”da gestão, não é privilégio do consultor brasileiro. Jacques “The Knife”Nasser, CEO da Ford, entre 1999 e 2001, e Al “Chainsaw”Dunlap, que passou pela Sunbeam e Scott Paper, engrossam essa turma.

Esse mesmo estresse durante os curtos-circuitos nas companhias, acrescentam os consultores, também expõem os empresários a toda a sorte de soluções mágicas. “É nessas horas que aparecem os urubus”, afirma Eduardo Lemos, da consultoria Perform, coautor da edição brasileira de “Como Recuperar uma Empresa” (Editora Atlas).

Essas aves, no caso, são financeiras que emprestam dinheiro a taxas exorbitantes ou mesmo pessoas que oferecem descontos mirabolantes na negociação das dívidas. “Isso nunca acontece, mas o empresário tende a acreditar nessas promessas”, diz Renato Carvalho Franco, da Íntegra Associados. “Ele está desesperado. Em janeiro, já pensa em como vai pagar o 13º salário.”

Para Franco, que atua na reestruturação financeira de empresas, a conversa entre bancos e credores está subindo algumas notas na escala da tensão. “Em geral, o dono da empresa passa por diversas rodadas de negociação da dívida”, ele afirma.

“Na última, já entregou tudo, não tem mais garantias e não consegue dinheiro novo.”Esse quadro complicou-se nos últimos anos com a redução do número de bancos na praça, principalmente aqueles que oferecem empréstimos a grandes empresas.

Nesse caso, o processo de consolidação das instituições financeiras, embora tenha trazido solidez ao sistema, teria servido para azedar o diálogo entre as partes.

“A maioria das negociações das quais participamos acontecem fora dos tribunais”, diz Ivo Waisberg, sócio do Thomaz Bastos, Waisberg, Kurzweil Advogados, quanto ao formato, as consultorias de reestruturação seguem duas linhas de atuação.

Na primeira, o consultor assume diretamente as rédeas do negócio durante, ocupando o cargo de CEO da empresa em transformação. Tornase, no jargão, um “interim management”.

Esse estilo, que hoje já não é muito comum, tem entre suas referências Galeazzi. Outro modelo é adotado por firmas como Alvarez & Marsal, uma das maiores do mundo nesse segmento, além de McKinsey e KPMG – hoje, a Galeazzi Associados também faz parte desse grupo.

Essas firmas agem segundo um tripé clássico das consultorias, formado por diagnóstico, elaboração de um plano e assessoramento na execução do projeto. Uma miríade de escritórios de advocacia completa esse cenário.

Na maioria das vezes, eles entram em cena na fase da recuperação judicial e participam da negociação das dívidas entre credores e devedores. Podem ocupar os dois lados da mesa. Esse nicho engordou de forma vertiginosa nos últimos anos, alimentado principalmente pela crise econômica e os escândalos da Operação Lava-Jato.

De acordo com dados da Serasa Experian, em 2010, foram requeridas 47 5 recuperações judiciais no Brasil. Em 2016, o total chegou a 1.863, num salto de 292%. No ano passado, o número caiu, alcançando 1.420 casos, uma redução de 23,8% em relação ao ano anterior, mas se manteve elevado no primeiro trimestre de 2018.

Surpreende, contudo, a taxa de fracassos dos processos de recuperação judicial. Um estudo da mesma Serasa Experian, divulgado em 2016, acompanhou 3.522 empresas que entraram com processos desse tipo na Justiça entre junho de 2005, o início da vigência da nova lei, e dezembro de 2014. O levantamento constatou que 946 companhias tiveram o caso encerrado no período. Desse total, 218 (23%) voltaram à ativa. O restante faliu.

O juiz Daniel Carnio Costa, titular da 1ª Vara de Falências e Recuperações Judiciais de São Paulo, considera que é possível obter resultados bem melhores do que esses, se adotadas algumas medidas prévias.

Ele observa que, nos casos em que atua, o índice de recuperações exitosas chega a 82%. “Mas, para isso, faço uma triagem inicial para saber se a empresa ainda existe e se há possibilidade de sucesso da recuperação judicial”, afirma. ”

É impressionante, mas muitas companhias já chegam falidas à Justiça. Esse tipo de caso não deve nem começar.”Só com esse filtro, acrescenta Costa, um terço dos processos são descartados. Hoje, o juiz tem nas mãos cerca de mil casos de falência e recuperação judicial em andamento.

E tamanha pilha de processos nem sequer traduz a magnitude desse mercado. “A maioria das negociações das quais participamos acontecem fora dos tribunais”, diz Ivo Waisberg, sócio do Thomaz Bastos, Waisberg, Kurzweil Advogados “Elas envolvem empresas e dívidas muito grandes, em situações que seriam extremamente midiáticas.”

A exposição pública desses casos, ressalta Waisberg, poderia comprometer tanto a solução do problema como as chances de recuperação da empresa. Por isso, essas conversas ocorrem a portas fechadas, podem durar mais de um ano e envolvem cifras bilionárias.

A título de ilustração, a pendenga em torno da OAS, um caso conhecido, a dívida era de R$ 12 bilhões. As discussões sobre qual é o melhor tipo de consultoria de reestruturação não são pequenas, tampouco novas, embora todos os formatos apresentem prós e contras.

Os adeptos do estilo CEO interino desdenham as concorrentes, alegando que elas não mergulham 100% nos processos. Estas, por sua vez, contestam o caráter personalista das primeiras. “Não acredito em salvadores da pátria”, afirma Rami Goldfajn, da McKinsey. “Preferimos agir como um ‘personal trainer’.”

Já Alan Riddell, líder da área de “turnaround”na KPMG, considera que o importante é fornecer um leque completo de serviços. Ele justifica: “Agir apenas na frente financeira e deixar a operacional de lado limita as chances de sucesso no médio prazo”.

Remédios diferentes

Partindo de variações sobre o mesmo conceito, é natural que os reestruturadores indiquem remédios diferentes a seus pacientes. Pedro Guizzo, sócio da consultoria Ivix, viveu uma situação desse tipo, quando conduziu a reestruturação na Levorin, empresa que produz pneus para motos e bicicletas, com fábricas em Guarulhos (SP) e Manaus (AM).

“Quando entramos na companhia, em outubro de 2015, havia grande apreensão sobre o que fazer”, afirma o consultor, acrescentando que a orientação era de uma recuperação judicial. “Mas nosso diagnóstico mostrou que, pelo perfil do endividamento e pela origem da crise operacional, essa não era a melhor alternativa.”

Após uma série de mudanças, como um melhor planejamento de compras, produção e vendas, levando à redução de estoques, a Levorin foi vendida para a Michelin, em 2016. “Essa transação deu à empresa uma perspectiva melhor, com possibilidades de investimentos, aumento do poder de barganha com fornecedores e maior segurança com um reequilíbrio da estrutura de capital”, diz Guizzo, que dá aulas sobre reestruturação na Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), em São Paulo.

Note-se, no entanto, que o caso da Levorin levanta uma indagação adicional: se a companhia teve de ser vendida para sobreviver, esse é um exemplo de sucesso de reestruturação? “A resposta é sim”, afirma Guizzo.

“Nesse caso, foi feito o que era possível e nosso objetivo foi atingido.”Ocorre que, nem sempre, as partes envolvidas na reestruturação concordam com o “objetivo”da missão. Nesses momentos, a conversa desafina e surgem estridências de toda a sorte, principalmente na hora do pagamento do serviço.

“Hoje, nove e meio entre dez reestruturadores recebem um valor fixo e outro variável pelo serviço”, diz Renato Franco, da consultoria Íntegra. “O variável, em geral, está relacionado ao cumprimento de metas pré- estabelecidas. O fixo cobre as despesas operacionais do trabalho.”

Mas, observam os consultores em uníssono, quando a conta é apresentada, e os reestruturados estão fortalecidos após a recuperação da empresa, sempre perguntam: “Mas, afinal, o que você estava fazendo aqui?”.

O fator disrupção Ainda que as reestruturações sejam difíceis e, muitas delas, ruidosas, tendem a proliferar no mercado. Isso por vários motivos. Em primeiro lugar, não devem ser vistas somente como antídotos contra o caos corporativo – ou tratamentos de choque contra doentes terminais.

Elas representam, cada vez mais, um instrumento de prevenção, útil para aprimorar e fortalecer a saúde das empresas a qualquer momento. Tal virtude torna-se imperiosa em um ambiente de negócios disruptivo como o atual.

“Hoje, o gestor não pode se conformar com resultados incrementais”, diz Rami Goldfajn, da McKinsey. “Ele tem de mirar cada vez mais alto, munido de um misto de ambição e realismo.” Mesmo porque as perspectivas são, como se diz, desafiadores.

Análises indicam que, entre as 500 maiores empresas das listas da “Fortune”e S&P nos anos 50, perto de 85% desapareceram do mapa. Elas quebraram ou foram absorvidas por outros grupos empresariais.

Naquela mesma década, a expectativa de vida das companhias girava em torno de 50 a 60 anos. Hoje, ela está em 15 anos – e caindo.

Mantido o ritmo atual de mudanças, estima-se que 7 5% das firmas existentes hoje nessas mesmas listas vão evaporar em somente dez anos.

Ou seja, em um cenário conturbado como esse, as reestruturações contínuas têm tudo para se transformar no “novo normal”das companhias.

Fonte: Carlos Rydlewski, Valor, 18/5/2018

Inteligência Competitiva Brasil: falta trabalho para 27,7 milhões de pessoas, diz IBGE

A taxa de subutilização da força de trabalho, que inclui os desempregados, pessoas que gostariam de trabalhar mais e aqueles que desistiram de buscar emprego, bateu recorde no primeiro trimestre, chegando a 24,7%, informou nesta quinta (17) o IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística).

Ao todo, são 27,7 milhões de pessoas nessas condições, o maior contingente desde o início da série histórica, em 2012. Destes, 13,7 milhões procuraram emprego mas não encontraram.

O restante são subocupados por insuficiência de horas trabalhadas, pessoas que gostariam de trabalhar mas não procuraram emprego ou desistiram de procurar emprego. Os dados são parte da Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (Pnad) Contínua.

A taxa de desalento da força de trabalho, que indica as pessoas que desistiram de procurar trabalho, também foi recorde no trimestre, atingindo 4,1%. De acordo com o IBGE, eram 4,6 milhões de pessoas nessa condição, 60,6% deles na região Nordeste.

De acordo com o coordenador de Trabalho e Renda do IBGE, Cimar Azeredo, o aumento nesse grupo pode explicar parte da melhora do emprego no primeiro trimestre, na comparação com o mesmo período do ano anterior. Em março, o desemprego era de 13,1%, ante 13,7% em 2017.

Mas houve crescimento de 1,3 ponto percentual ante o trimestre anterior, frustrando expectativas de recuperação sustentável do mercado de trabalho após três quedas consecutivas em 2017.

Entre os primeiros trimestres de 2017 e de 2018, o número de desempregados caiu em 489 mil pessoas. Já o número de desalentados cresceu em 511 mil pessoas. “A desocupação caiu sim, mas caiu em função de aumento do desalento e aumento da população subocupada”, comentou Azeredo.

Entre os que desistiram de procurar emprego, pretos e pardos são a maioria, representando 73,1% desse contingente. Do total, 23,4% têm entre 18 e 24 anos, e 38,4%, ensino fundamental incompleto.

Comparando com o primeiro trimestre de 2014, antes do início da crise no mercado de trabalho, a população subutilizada cresceu 73%, ou 11,7 milhões de pessoas. O número de desalentados cresceu 194.9%, ou 3 milhões de pessoas.

No período, o número de desempregados cresceu 94,2%, o que significa que há 6,6 milhões de pessoas a mais procurando emprego no país. Do total de desempregados, 3 milhões de pessoas estão em busca de recolocação há mais de dois anos.


Os dados divulgados nesta quinta pelo IBGE mostram que o desemprego é mais forte na região Nordeste, onde a taxa chega a 15,9%, e mais fraco no Sul, que tem apenas 8,4% de sua força de trabalho sem emprego.

Na comparação com o quarto trimestre, houve aumento do desemprego em todas as regiões, com maior intensidade no Nordeste, que teve alta de 2,1 pontos percentuais. No Sul, o aumento foi de apenas 0,7 ponto percentual.

Entre os estados, as maiores taxas são do Amapá (21,5%), Bahia (17,9%), Pernambuco (17,7%) e Alagoas (17,7%). As menores, de Santa Catarina (6,5%), Mato Grosso do Sul (8,4%), Rio Grande do Sul (8,4%) e Mato Grosso (9,3%).

Em São Paulo, a taxa de desemprego no trimestre foi de 14%, queda de 0,2 ponto percentual com relação ao mesmo trimestre do ano anterior. Foi o único estado com perda significativa de vagas com carteira assinada nessa comparação, de 2,5%, ou cerca de 300 mil pessoas.

“Isso é grave, porque o que acontece em São Paulo vai acontecer depois no resto do país”, diz Azeredo. No primeiro trimestre, o Brasil atingiu o menor número de trabalhadores com carteira assinada desde 2012.

Fonte: Nicola Pamplona, Folha de S.Paulo, 

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