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Louis Vuitton store, HK Landmark, Hong Kong (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Practical Features Sell Luxury Products

Idea posted: January 2018
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

New research reveals that buyers of hedonistic, luxurious products often feel guilty about their indulgent purchase — but that bundling even a small utilitarian feature with the product can assuage this guilt and make consumers more likely to buy and increase willingness to pay.

Idea #687
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Illustration from Europa's fairy book, published by G. P. Putnam's & Sons, 1916 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Best-Self Activation Launches Sustained Performance Improvement

Idea posted: November 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

New research confirms that best-self activation — activating a mental representation of your best self — leads to short- and long-term improvement in performance. The research specifically highlights the positive emotional, physiological (e.g. resilience to stress), and cognitive impact of best-self activation.

Idea #565
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The Unexpected Creative Effect of Sarcasm

Idea posted: September 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Sarcasm in the workplace may not be as destructive as once thought. New research shows that expressing or receiving sarcasm can spark creativity through abstract thinking — especially if the sarcasm is directed at or received from a trusted person

Idea #550
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Wayuu bags, hand made by women from the Wayuu tribe in Colombia (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Reusable Grocery Bags: How Green Customers Help the Environment — and Your Business

Idea posted: September 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Shoppers bringing their own bags help reduce the adverse environmental impact of plastic bags. New research shows, however, that the environment is not the only winner. Environmentally conscious shoppers are inspired to buy more expensive organic products, and reward themselves with unplanned indulgent purchases — a boon to grocery stores.

Idea #542
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Daniel's Answer to the King, Briton Rivière, Mezotint, 1892 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Overcoming Our Evolutionary Fears to Speak Up to Authority

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

Employees are often afraid to speak up even though they may have something to say. New research points to the evolutionary origins of fear-based silence and highlights the productive steps (e.g. developing emotional intelligence and better communication skills) employees can take to overcome these fears.

Idea #498
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Contemplation, Ghassan Salman Faidi, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mindfulness Leads to Better Decisions

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Faced with a decision, we are more likely to take the path we want rather than the path we should. The reason is that the want choice is quickly identified through assumptions, easy categorizations or past experiences; the should choice only emerges when time and effort is made to consider new situations or alternative attributes. Increasing the state of conscious awareness known as ‘mindfulness’ during the decision making process will allow decision makers to see the better choice… before it’s too late.

Idea #438
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George Washington and the cherry tree. A lithograph by John C. McRae, 1867, after a painting by G. G. White

How to Limit Ambiguity of Responsibility and Learn from Failure

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Failed experiences are not always a bad thing; they can be sources of learning, and improved performance. However, individuals do not always learn from failure. Whether they attribute that failure internally or externally has a role to play in their learning, and an additional factor is how ambiguous their responsibility for that task was. This Idea explores these factors and more.

Idea #396
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A copy of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker on the Columbia University campus (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Reflection Aids Performance: The Thinker as Learner

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

What is ‘learning-by-thinking’ and how can it improve individual performance in your organization? This Idea explains why it is important to incorporate time for reflection in the learning process, and how it differs from learning by experience alone, without reflection. 

Idea #390
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Singing in the Rain, stage production, Birmingham UK, 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Weather Means Better Productivity

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

We all know that bad weather often leads to a bad mood, and therefore it must also lead to bad productivity, right? Not so, according to this Idea which suggests that bad weather actually increases productivity. Through a field study and laboratory experiment, researchers show that when the weather is rainy, there is low visibility and extreme temperatures, workers seem to be more, not less, productive.

Idea #226
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Leaders Less Stressed than Followers Due to a Sense of Control

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

Today’s leaders face increasing demands and must be inundated with stress, right? Not so according to this research, which suggests that the heightened sense of control that accompanies leadership may actually help to reduce stress levels. In fact, non-leaders are probably more stressed than their leaders are. 

Idea #211
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King Lear, a UK TV film version, 2008, starring Sir Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, Romola Garai, Jonathan Hyde and Sylvester McCoy; directed by Sir Tevor Nunn and produced by Paul Wheeler for Channel 4

When Allowing Decision Latitude Can Backfire

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

The best leaders today avoid micromanaging their employees, recognizing that giving employees job autonomy and decision latitude — allowing employees to make decisions concerning their work — will result in greater motivation and better performance. New research, however, shows that too much decision latitude can backfire. Instead of being viewed as effective and conscientious leaders, the research shows managers who give their employees too much discretion and freedom in decisions and managing their work will be viewed as not being conscientious about their work.

Idea #212
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The Good Samaritan, Master of the Good Samaritan, circa 1530–1550, Centraal Museum Utrecht (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Prosocial Goals Promote Employee Happiness

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

The pursuit of ‘happiness’ is perhaps one of the most important goals in a person’s life, and prosocial activities have proved to be a successful way to achieve it. But as the list of potential prosocial acts is endless, how can you narrow down which are the most effective? According to this Idea, activities framed in concrete rather than abstract terms make the crucial difference between happiness and unhappiness. 

Idea #163
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The ladies' egg & spoon race, Picklescott Village Fete & Sports Day 1963 (Source: Picklescott.org.uk)

Motivation by Last Place Aversion

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Nobody wants to fail, and being in last place is the worst of failures. New research reveals, however, that the aversion to last place is a powerful driving factor in many decisions, which might offer unexpected opportunities for business.

Idea #155
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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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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004, directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell. Also also written by Ferrell and McKay. Distributed by  DreamWorks Pictures

Balancing Extravert Leaders and Pro-active Employees

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

Despite both being characteristics which are promoted in many organizations, leadership extraversion and employee proactivity are uneasy bedfellows. This research suggests that extraverted leaders are less receptive to proactivity, and that they may only enhance group performance when employees are passive. 

Idea #006
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Flattened Organizations: When Cons Outweigh Pros

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

When an organization is ‘flat’ employees report directly to senior managers; but as management layers increase, so too does the hierarchical gap between employees the CEO and the C-suite, leading to decision-making being focused at the top of the organization. So should firms eliminate these layers in order to shift more decision-making powers downwards? Well, this Idea shows that this may in fact achieve the opposite. Flattening can lead to more control at the top. 

Idea #083
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The Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers, 1932, directed by Norman Z. McLeod, Paramount Pictures

Rendered Speechless: Too Powerful Leaders Stymie the Team

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

We have all seen it happen; a newly promoted leader monopolizing more and more ‘air time’ in meetings. It seems to be an occupational hazard: when leaders experience heightened power, they are compelled to demonstrate it with verbal dominance. This compromises and even stymies good team communication. The good news is that this effect can be virtually eliminated by taking steps to protect an egalitarian culture. 

Idea #063
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Leadership Development: Up Close and Personal

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

Leadership courses that focus on the personal development of participants can play a significant role in transforming potentially regressive experiences into material for learning, experimentation, and growth. It is this “personalization process” that enables ongoing leader development.

Idea #001
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Mad Men, 2007 premiered on AMC, created and produced by Matthew Weiner, Lionsgate Television

Managers Who Undermine the Meaningfulness of Work

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

A sense of working toward something meaningful is absolutely central to our happiness and well-being. Sadly, many senior executives undermine their employees’ creativity and productivity by inadvertently denying them this meaning. There exist common traps which even the best-intentioned managers will fall foul of in this regard. A loss of meaningfulness in the work lives of employees has obvious long-term implications for the overall health of an organization. This Idea identifies those traps and shows how we can avoid them.

Idea #052
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