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January 4th, 2017

Sagacious' Top 10 Most Popular Articles in 2016



This first blog to kick-off 2017, is an overview of the 10 most popular articles from 2016’s editions of Viewpoint Group’s digital newsletter, Sagacious. Since launching in October, every Friday Sagacious curates the latest articles and research in business, investment management, psychology, and leadership.

This list represents what our readers thought were the best of the best.


  1. Number one on the list is the second article from Mac Van Wielingen’s four part series on “The Evolving Role of the Corporate Board” which will be released and published with the Conference Board of Canada in winter 2017. Together, part one and two boldly explore advanced processes and practices in governance, and the imperative of performance. 

“Organizational culture … feels obscure, vague, and intangible. This explains why most directors and executive leaders resist the subject of culture, often avoiding it altogether.” (Mac Van Wielingen)


  1. We are news and research junkies, so naturally, we had to discuss one of the year’s most talked about trends: the problem with quality news. While we covered the topic at length over a series of issues, our reader’s favourite article outlines what happens when we stop supporting quality journalism and made suggestions on where to start to de-bias yourself from your current “filter bubble.”   

“Authoritarian governments choke off access to information. By abandoning quality news sources, we’ve already done much of that work ourselves.”


  1. With the economy in Alberta still lagging after oil prices have crashed, there has been a lasting effect on local businesses. Number three on our list takes a look at business failure in Calgary and how those who have lost jobs are trying to reinvent themselves.

“We’re seeing technical people like engineers who’ve gone into entirely different lines of work like brewing.”… “However, even as business owners or those who’ve lost jobs in Alberta’s trouble economy look to reinvent themselves… the loss of established businesses, even when replaced with new opportunities, tends to fuel fewer jobs.”


  1. Fourth on our list, which caught the attention of our readers, is an article about how to spot a liar over email. “It has been said that we are lied to as many as 200 times per day, and that we can accurately detect only about 54% of those lies.” If this fact is true, it begs the question, what are the most commonly used channels of deception? As one of the most popular forms of communication in the 21st century, email has to be one of them, right? The Science of People offers five red flags to know when someone is lying over email.    

“The majority of the population genuinely wants to tell the truth, which is why the limbic system in our brain will leak out clues when we tell a lie.”


  1. The next piece is an evidence-rich guide on four early personality and behavioural indicators to be on the lookout for when hiring or promoting someone to a leadership position. Leadership researchers have long been interested in the idea of narcissism and hubris and how that plays out in the C-suite. “The challenge for an investor, a board of directors, or an advisor … is to recognize when the CEO… is about to cross a line.” Without the benefit of hindsight, these individuals need to be able to identify the warning signs in CEOs and executives long before they hit.

“… [T]hose who demonstrated narcissistic traits tended to make more and larger acquisitions, which led to ‘extreme and fluctuating organizational performance.’”


  1. In November, Christine Porath, a prolific, accomplished workplace civility researcher offered a well-evidenced article in The Wall Street Journal on the effects of bullying, disrespect, and rudeness among others on workplace performance.

“I’ve learned that the way you treat people means everything—whether they will build relationships with you, trust you, follow you, support you and work hard for you.”


  1. Our blog post from November 14th discussed talent and ego in the workplace, and comes in at number seven on our most-read list. While we know great, enduring firms must have top performers to succeed, at what point is there concern that these elite performers will cross over into the dangerous realm of arrogance and narcissism, and ultimately have a negative effect on the team as a whole? In looking at the good and bad sides of ego, we explored the question,

“Can you have too many talented people on a team, and when does it become detrimental to your organization’s overall success?”


  1. The importance of sleep and its effects on productivity are popular topics in organizational psychology literature and they’ve certainly seen a fair share of press this year. Writing for The Atlantic, Dr. James Hamblin looks at sleep and the effect it – and its absence – has on our bodies. He also delves into other facets of sleep like how much sleep we actually need, whether we can train ourselves to need less sleep, and if stimulants such as caffeine can replace sleep. 

“While no one knows why we sleep, it is a universal biological imperative; no animal with a brain can survive without it. … What can be said definitively about sleep and wakefulness? What I’ve found is a perpetual divide between what’s known to scientists and what most people do.”


  1. While helping a client prepare a presentation on negotiation and the psychology of influence, we came across some fantastic work out of MIT that was conducted almost a decade ago which looked at the science of subtle, non-verbal communication, and explored the use of sensor technology to monitor body language and speech mannerisms. Specifically, it was found that an electronic sensor could predict the outcome of negotiations, telephone sales calls, and business plan pitches with 87% accuracy within five minutes by simply analyzing participants' body language, and manner of speech, while ignoring words and strategy. Applications in business negotiations are also discussed in the report.

“This type of research confirms in the business setting what some psychologists have suspected for years — that human behavior can often be predicted with remarkable accuracy by paying attention to so-called thin slices of what people do.”


  1. We end our 2016 most-read articles list on a lighter note, with a list of Bill Gates’ favorite books of the year.   

“They cover an eclectic mix of topics – from tennis to tennis shoes, genomics to great leadership.”


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