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Grand Parade (mosaic) Fernand Léger, 1958, National Gallery of Victoria

Meritocracy at Work: Well-Intention Systems Can Cause the Reverse

Idea posted: August 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

If managers believe, because of formal performance evaluation and compensation systems, that their organization is meritocratic, they are ironically more likely to engage in less meritocratic behaviour. Researcher Emilio J. Castilla of MIT’s Sloan School of management calls this “the paradox of meritocracy.”

Idea #620
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Plastic face protection from snowstorms. Canada, 1939 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Great New Products Fail

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Many excellent new products fail because companies fail to understand how customers make their purchasing decisions. Specifically, customers decide what they want to buy based on one of two things: their search for new information or the inferences they make based on the information they have. Great new products fail when through their searches or inferences, customers fail to recognize their value.

Idea #601
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Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram 1809, Horace Vernet, 1836 (Courtesy: Palace of Versailles)

Ensure the CEO Gets the Right Information at the Right Time

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

CEOs must be informed at all times about all internal and external facets of the company relevant to his or her performance as leader of the company. A personal knowledge infrastructure, based on the right practices, relationships and tools and aligned with the needs and personality of the CEO, can make the difference between leadership success and failure. 

Idea #532
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Isaac Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi 2003, based on a painting by William Blake. Newton showed sign of autism (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Competitive Advantage through Individuals Outside the Norm

Idea posted: August 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

While employees who think ‘differently’ may be hired as part of the social responsibility activities of a corporation, corporate pioneers demonstrate that such individuals, such as those, for example, who are diagnosed with certain forms of autism, can perform certain tasks more effectively than (in this case) employees without autism. Hiring such employees thus becomes a bid for competitive advantage rather than an exercise in social responsibility. 

Idea #425
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St Nicholas saves a storm-tossed ship, Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1425)

Is Your Supply Chain Prepared for the Unexpected?

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Supply chain management is a delicate balancing act in these unpredictable times – on the one hand, there is pressure to keep the supply chain as cost efficient as possible, while on the other, it needs to be flexible and resilient in the face of unforeseen events. How do leaders proactively manage the risk of disruption?

Idea #414
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How to Win a Price War

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Price wars are usually won by companies with the widest profit margins and the best cost structures — i.e. those that can afford to fight them. It is, however, possible for a business with a cost disadvantage to achieve victory. Much depends on the way a ‘campaign’ is carried out and planned. Sometimes strategic capabilities, not cost structure, decides the outcome.

Idea #403
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Luggage tag for Japan Air Transport, 1937 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Relocating Leaders Abroad: Pros and Cons

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

The internationalization of markets and industries means executive offices and core functions are being moved abroad. Relocating top managers, however, can be risky. Organizations should explore the alternatives before making a decision. There are arguments for and against leaders crossing borders.

Idea #368
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‘Dans le Souk aux Cuivres’, Nicola Forcella, an Italian painter born before 1868 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Customer Participation Builds Loyalty

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Marketing

Companies focus on encouraging customer word-of-mouth while ignoring the benefit of customer participation — encouraging customer feedback and suggestions to the company. Yet, research shows that participation can increase customer loyalty even more than word-of-mouth. 

Idea #364
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The Royal Malay Regiment get ready at the Malaysian King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin birthday parade on June 4, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Source: Shutterstock)

Rapid Response Teams: Strategic Renewal for Organizations

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

The world changes rapidly these days. Technologies move on and companies adapt – or not in some cases. The problem lies in being able to change as quickly as the environment in which your business operates. But change management need not be crisis management. Through a process of strategic renewal leaders can develop a set of practices that can guide their organizations to a new era of innovation. 

We often find it easier to resist change rather than embrace it, but this process allows leaders to approach the future and all its uncertainties with confidence, while acknowledging the

Idea #331
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Four Ways CEOs Can Align Function Heads with Corporate Strategy

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Corporate functions often lack strategic direction from CEOs. As well as underperformance, this can also lead to many other issues, such as bureaucracy on the part of function heads. But according to this Idea, four simple changes to normal management processes can help to avoid this and align corporate strategies between CEOs and corporate functions.

Idea #274
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Weightlifter figure on the Royal Caribbean International, Mariner of the Seas cruise ship (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Three Ways to Overcome Your Power Deficit

Idea posted: August 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IMD

'Power shortage’ is not just a term for the energy industry; executives frequently experience deficits in their power to influence as well. According to this Idea, there are three power sources that need to be maintained in order to avoid, or recover from, a power deficit. 

Idea #192
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New recruits to the British Army, First World War, Nicholls Horace, © Imperial War Museum (Q 30060)

Onboarding New Employees Successfully

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee turnover can be expensive and time-consuming, so organizations need to know how to get the most from and retain the valuable new additions they make. According to recent research, the secret lies in promoting self-expression and encouraging newcomers to bring their unique values and perspectives to the job. Most importantly, this should be done from the first day through a process known as ‘onboarding’. This Idea offers some practical advice on managing the process.

Idea #135
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Harnessing Individual and Organization Networks

Idea posted: February 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Leveraging employee networks can optimize individual and organizational performance and unearth hidden talent. Organizations teem with informal employee networks. Awareness of these living networks, and an understanding of how collaborations take place between top performers, can be a great, effective tool for overall success. To do so, managers must understand both the structure of talent networks within their company, and the categories their employees fall into. 

Idea #017
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Principles of Competitive Global Talent Management

Idea posted: February 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Companies must use talent management to build and sustain a talented workforce. Recruit, develop, deploy and retain the right people; these are the core aims of a successful global talent management strategy. Rather than follow untailored ‘best practices’ to do that, a company can subscribe to six outline principles that are consistent with the organization’s overall strategy and culture.

Idea #018
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939, Dir. Alfred L. Werker

Evidence, Facts and Intuition in Decision Making

Idea posted: February 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

One of the ways we strive to make a good decision is through evidence-based decision-making. Just as often though, and sometimes without realizing it, managers are fitting the evidence to the decision they’ve already made in fact ‘decision-based evidence making’. A clear understanding of the roles evidence can play in making a decision can help avoid this. Although, as explained in this Idea, there are certain times when this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes evidence-based decision-making is less appropriate than decision-based evidence making.

Idea #021
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Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and the Apple 1 PC

Creating Innovative Business Models

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Choices organizations make about their business model often go unchallenged for a very long time. This is an underutilized source of future value. As an alternative or complement to product and process innovation - business model innovation can be where the greatest benefits lie. With that in mind, and before launching a new business model, managers should ask themselves the six key questions outlined in this Idea.

Idea #048
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Jump Before You’re Pushed: The Companies That Change Without Pressure

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Do companies need a financial trauma to provoke them into change, or can they adopt new ways of doing things when not under pressure? The history of successful organizations shows us that decline, while perhaps not inevitable, is at least likely. And yet few companies opt willingly to change strategy without being forced to. There are some companies, however, that do - and we can learn a lot from them as this Idea shows.

Idea #051
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Frederick the Great of Prussia, J.H.C. Franke, c.1763

Five Traits of the Better Leader

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IMD

Becoming a good leader requires having to work hard on yourself, even if good leaders make it look easy. The same traits - or dimensions - that are traditionally considered essential for executives to grow can in fact become a hindrance for them. Executives should practice self-awareness, and learn to adapt when needed.

Idea #044
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Satisfied customer

Failed CRM Initiatives and How to Avoid Them

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Customer relationship marketing (CRM) has become a big focus for companies in recent years, witnessing heavy investment in call centres, sophisticated database systems, online support services, etc. But despite these large-scale CRM investments, 55–75% of companies have failed to meet the expected returns. Why is this the case and, moving forward, how can managers ensure better results from their CRM initiatives?

Idea #099
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Liberating Knowledge in the Organization

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

It is a universal challenge for large organizations: the larger and more segmented the company, the harder it is to match its people to its problem. This Idea looks at how internal ‘knowledge markets’ can facilitate information sharing within large organizations; helping employees locate expertise and matching knowledge seekers with knowledge sources.

Idea #020
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Last Call for Social Media Sceptics

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Social media sceptics have all but scurried back into the woodwork. The game is up and the die cast: social media is here to stay. Each week the ‘fad’ seems to blow open a new way of doing things in a different industry; democratizing our flow of ideas even further. The scope of opportunity for science, art, and business here – seems infinite. But what role can leadership play to facilitate those opportunities and create value for their organizations?

Idea #062
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