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Saint Jerome in his Study, Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1480 (Courtesy: Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence)

Knowledge Leaders to Apply Academic Research to Solve Organizations' Real World Problems

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Knowledge leaders leverage academic research into real-world performance advantages for their organizations in three different ways: direct transfer, selective adaptation, or challenging research conclusions. 

Idea #586
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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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Investment Banking: Technology and the Decline of Trust

Idea posted: February 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

‘Up or out’ promotion policies and reward systems that encourage ‘star’ bankers to ‘shine’ by taking unacceptable risks were significant factors in the 2007-2009 financial crisis. But they need to be viewed in a broader context. The seeds of trouble were sown decades previously, when a trend towards ‘transactional’ models, powered by technology, began to transform investment banks.

Idea #325
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A sales assistant demonstrates a blackout coat for dogs at Selfridge's in London, circa 1940. The coat would ensure the dog was visible during the dark nights of the blackout (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Secret of a Good Sales Assistant: Reading Customer Mood

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

The ability to interpret facial expressions and body language is an important interpersonal skill. However, relatively little is known about how it affects people’s perceptions and experiences of retailers. New research suggests that sales assistants sensitive to ‘non-verbal cues’ are viewed positively by customers but negatively by third-party observers. This has important implications for the way ‘customer-facing’ staff are recruited, trained and evaluated — and for the way shops are designed. 

Idea #220
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The Education of Alexander the Great by Aristotle, Charles Laplante, 1866 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aristotle, Ethics and the ‘Art’ of Leadership

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Aristotle’s ‘master virtue’ of phronesis, which combines ethics and action so that people can ‘live well’ and be happy, is often seen as the key to effective leadership. But it tends to be too narrowly defined. A re-reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics reveals that phronesis is linked not only to knowledge, skill, wisdom and intelligence but also to sensory perception, intuition and aesthetics. For Aristotle, doing the right thing partly depended on seeing and appreciating the fine thing. This raises important questions about how leaders reach their

Idea #202
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Pricing and the Power of Red

Idea posted: August 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Retailers commonly highlight prices and ‘good deals’ in red in their ads and promotional material. But relatively little is known about how this affects consumers. New research reveals that the impact varies significantly by gender. Put simply: men are likely to see a bargain when they see red; women are far less easily swayed. The findings have clear implications for companies — and for precision marketing.

Idea #197
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Crossing a crevasse in the Himalayas during the assault on Mt Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Photographer Alfred Gregory. (Source: Alfred Gregory: Photographs from Everest to Africa. Penguin Books, 2008, ISBN 978-1-920-98961-3)

Managing Risks: Culture Matters More Than Rules

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

Micro-regulation is not the most effective way to manage risks and improve services. The best guarantee of high standards is ethics-based risk control, underpinned by rules-based codes.

Formal risk management systems can encourage a box-ticking mentality, threaten internal and external relationships, and — in the literal sense of the word — demoralize people. The dangers are likely to be greatest where stakeholders have a strong emotional investment in self-regulation and ethics-based risk management.

Idea #160
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Dr. Stangelove', directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1964, distributed by Columbia Pictures (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Scenarios Planning + Early Warning Scanning = Strategic Advantage

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

In today’s fast-moving environment, scenario planning (SP) and early warning scanning (EWS) are essential strategic tools. The former imagines future scenarios and helps frame possibilities; the latter highlights new developments in the market. Research suggests these tools work best if integrated as ‘co-specialization dynamic capabilities’ (CDCs). Organizations need to combine both practices dynamically – using scenarios to help frame the context for EWS, and using EWS to help focus on signs that scenarios will emerge.

Idea #144
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