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Walkie talkie. Image from World War II US Signals Corps' manual (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Lead Virtual Teams

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Virtual teams, groups of diverse and geographically dispersed people communicating mainly by technology, pose challenges for companies. They can deliver superior performance and become an important source of value creation, but they demand a new management and leadership approach. Organizations that apply the ‘rules’ for classic or traditional teams will be disappointed.

Idea #384
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Why books are always better than movies? An image made by Massimo Barbieri using the free software Gimp, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Understanding Dreams: A New Tool for the Executive Coach?

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Dreams can provide powerful clues to someone’s mental and emotional state. They can also be a ‘path’ to conflict resolution and problem-solving, helping people confront deep-seated fears and concerns. Dream recall can, therefore, be an important part of executive and leadership coaching.

Idea #371
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Mortality: The Ultimate Motivator

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Existing management theories fail to provide the complete picture on employee motivation. To understand what drives us as human beings you have to understand a range of complex psychological factors — including fear of death and denial of our own mortality. Death is a powerful ‘stealth motivator’ that leads to defensive and avoidance strategies in the workplace. 

Idea #365
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The Steben Twins, famous trapeze artists and innovators of the feet-to-feet catching technique (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation Partnerships — Loosely or Tightly Coupled?

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

‘Loosely coupled’ research partnerships — in which the flow of new ideas and new knowledge tends to be one-way — are often considered the ‘poor relation’ in the quest for innovation. They can, however, be just as successful as ‘tightly coupled’ and more reciprocal alternatives. Much depends on the conditions at the ‘in-sourcing’ company. 

Idea #329
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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, detail from a commemorative mural by Ernest Fiene, 1938–40, at the High School of Fashion Industries, New York

Supply Chain Networks and CSR Sourcing

Idea posted: February 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Building long-term relationships with select suppliers is seen as the way to reduce the risks of socially irresponsible sourcing and, by extension, damage to a company’s brand or reputation. It is not, however, a ‘magic’ solution to the problem of ‘rogue’ elements in the supply chain. New research finds that the success of ‘relational sourcing’ is directly linked to the structure of the supplier network — and that the ‘optimal’ structure varies by company and product category.

Idea #316
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Ideas, Implementation and the Learning Organization

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee deviation from official strategy can result in discoveries and innovations that increase profits. It’s not always to be actively encouraged, though. Employees who try to implement the ideas of management — and provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t — can better serve the interests of the organization in the long term.

Idea #314
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Oilholics Anonymous Club. Allegory of the oil corruption

Reflective Leadership to Counter Corruption in Emerging Markets

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Corruption remains a major obstacle to doing business in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia. It destroys value, distorts markets and encourages executives to work in their own rather than shareholders’ and stakeholders’ interests. Solving the problem depends on a new approach from companies: ‘reflective leadership’.

Idea #307
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Chery A1 - service/repair shop in Ukraine (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Reasons for Product Recalls: Safety on the Line

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Product recall is an increasingly common problem for manufacturing industries. But its causes are rarely researched. Most studies concentrate on its effects. The  financial impact of withdrawing a product from sale has been examined in detail; the PR ‘fall-out’ much discussed. This Idea shifts the emphasis to the ‘plant-level drivers’ of recalls — and reveals the ‘systematic’ and operational reasons for quality-control failure and serious product flaws.

Idea #285
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Tobacco Warning (Source: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Health Warnings Can Boost Sales: Regulators Beware

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Warnings of the health risks and possible side-effects of products are commonly considered an important part of consumer protection and responsible marketing. But they can be counter-productive. Recent research suggests they not only fade over time but also lead to perverse increases in consumer confidence and product sales.

Idea #253
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Global Leadership: One Size Does Not Fit All

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Successful leaders, it’s commonly acknowledged, share certain core characteristics and competences. You don’t get very far in business without, for example, the ability to ‘envision’ the future, set and design strategy, and motivate others to achieve shared goals. But not all successful leaders are the same. A recent global study finds significant regional variations in the behaviours of successful leaders — and in the expectations and preferences of their followers.

Idea #250
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The Laughing Cavalier (detail), Frans Hals, 1624. (Source: The Wallace Collection, London)

Reasons to Be Cheerful: Positivity Linked to Profitability

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

Over-optimism in business is often seen as a bad thing, associated with recklessness and corporate ‘buccaneering’. New research, however, challenges this view. ‘Against-the-odds’ positivity can, it seems, motivate managers to work harder and propel them towards high performance targets.

Idea #246
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Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, George Gower, 1588 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Identity Crises: Occupational Hazards for Female Leaders?

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

Life is notoriously tough and demanding for female leaders. The difficulties, however, are not confined to balancing the commitments of home and working life. Female leaders often find it hard to reconcile their professional roles with their identities as women and feel prevented from being their ‘authentic selves’ at work. Solving the problem may depend on a fundamental shift in organizational values — and reversing ‘gendered definitions’ of leadership.

Idea #239
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Group Coaching: The ‘X-Factor’ Explained

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Group coaching can be a catalyst for both individual and organizational change. Its ‘active ingredients’, however, are not commonly understood. Greater awareness of why and when group coaching works can help maximise its benefits. Anecdotal evidence and research suggest effective sessions share a number of key characteristics.

Idea #234
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Paid-for Online Product Reviews: The True Price

Idea posted: September 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing

Increased awareness of the power of online word of mouth (WOM) in marketing means many companies now offer people financial incentives to write reviews of their products and services. But this could be a short-sighted strategy. Recent research suggests that knowing a review has been ‘solicited’ leads to negative pre-conceptions about products among potential consumers – and that these could prove quite hard to reverse.

Idea #222
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Children showing a Koh-Kae can (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Healthy Bottom Lines – Food Marketing and Obesity Prevention

Idea posted: August 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
Institutions: Cornell University, INSEAD

Food marketing has a profound — and complex — influence on consumers and is often blamed for the (increasingly global) obesity epidemic. Food companies are not in business to make people fat, however. They’re in business to make money. Research into the effects of the ‘4 Ps’ of marketing — ‘price’, ‘promotion’, ‘product’ and ‘place’ — on food consumption suggests there are profitable changes they could make to help people eat more healthily.

Idea #188
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Nelson Mandela shakes hands with his predecessor Frederik de Klerk and at Davos, January 1992 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Learn to Forgive: Mandela’s Leadership Legacy

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

When we forgive we can change the future. This is one of the greatest lessons organizations can learn from transformational political leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Aung Suu Kyi. Resentment, bitterness and blame make us prisoners of the past and impede progress. In the workplace, we need to accept human fallibility — and encourage people to think of mistakes as learning opportunities. The wise leader — and the wise organization — forgives and learns

Idea #170
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Eihi Shiina in ‘Audition’, 1999, Japanese, Director: Takashi Miike, Distributor(s): American Cinematheque; Vitagraph Films

Psychopaths in the C-Suite: How to Avoid Them

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Not all psychopaths are destined for prison or secure psychiatric hospitals. There’s a subset of ‘psychopaths lite’ – and it includes the ‘seductive operational bully’ (SOB). Manipulative, unprincipled and devious, and often highly persuasive and articulate, SOBs are capable of rising to the top of organizations – and wreaking havoc while there. Stopping them depends on creating an ‘inhospitable’ environment – and taking a ‘clinical’ approach to organizational diagnosis and intervention.

Idea #156
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Think difference

How Social Intrapreneurs Get Heard

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: INSEAD

Corporate social entrepreneurship initiatives, usually the work of intrapreneurs (entrepreneurial executives within the corporation) keen to solve social problems, have important macro- and micro-economic implications. They create value for people who are not current stakeholders - and they create opportunities to innovate and diversify. There are, however, barriers to their development. A model that counters the conventional logic of the organization and puts financial sustainability before growth could be the solution.

Idea #151
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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (anon. medieval)

How Evolving C-Suite Structures Affect Performance

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

The size and structure of C-Suites has changed significantly over the past few decades. An examination of these changes reveals a number of shifts, including one towards more product-focused (or front-end) functional managers in organizations with closely-related business units, and an increase in administrative positions where organizations invest more in IT. These findings also have an impact on general managers’ salaries. Here’s why executives should pay attention to these shifts when structuring their top teams.

Idea #082
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Diagram of the Brain, 14th Century

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Behaviour

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

Emotional intelligence is our ability to control our emotions, understand the emotions of others and use this information to guide thinking and action – and it can have a huge impact on leadership effectiveness. In relation to the collaborative aspects of leadership in particular, emotional intelligence has been found to have a significant effect.

Idea #023
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Details, drills and measuring tools

Beyond 'One-Size-Fits-All' Leadership Development

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

Different methods are suited to the learning needs of different leaders. There are unique challenges faced by leaders in different situations and at different stages of development, and as such, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of methodology may not always be the best strategy for leadership development practitioners.

Idea #003
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Graphic of staff superimposed on a background of skyscrapers

Creating a High Integrity Corporate Culture

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

At what point do employees realize, if at all, that they are making an inappropriate decision? And what interventions are available to help ensure they make the right ones? When employees fail to act with a strong sense of integrity, there are conscious and unconscious factors at play. Leaders should be aware of these in order to create and sustain a corporate culture where doing the right thing becomes second nature.

Idea #058
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