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Monty Python's Silly Walk. Graffitti, Porto, Portugal (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Middle Managers’ Walking the Talk Needs Top Management Support

Idea posted: May 2018
  • Leadership & Change

For middle managers, behavioural integrity — the perception by subordinates that management behaviour matches their words — is a key factor for success. Unfortunately, organizations often undermine their middle managers’ behavioural integrity with contradictory policies and decisions — or policies, directives or decisions for which they never acquired middle management buy-in.

Idea #705
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Aligning Your Organization for the Digital Future

Idea posted: October 2016
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

A global survey of executive and managers reveals that many companies are ill prepared for the disruption that digital trends will bring to their organizations and industries. A minority of ‘digitally matured’ companies, however, are making the required cultural, talent management and strategic changes.

Idea #633
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A king (Louis XVI), a clerk and a blade (a guillotine): Nostradamus predicts the French revolution. Illustration in Vaticinia Nostradami,1629.

4 Nextsensing Skills to See What the Future Holds

Idea posted: September 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: IE Business School

Asking, “What’s Next?” has always led humans throughout history to create a better future. But answering, “What’s Next?” is not an easy task in today’s ambiguous and complex world. Four ‘nextsensing’ leadership skills are required to lead in the 21st century. 

Idea #624
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Ten Steps for New Executives: Understand the Culture before Implementing Change

Idea posted: May 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: IESE Business School

New executives must immediately understand and evaluate a company’s culture before launching any significant change initiatives. They must ask themselves: Is this the right culture for the future? And given the current values, norms and beliefs of the company, how can I best implement change and build the foundation for sustainable success?

Idea #606
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The Symbolic Value of New Management Practices

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A new study shows that companies that are seen as continuously using new and improved management practices are valued more highly by analysts and other observers.

Idea #594
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Innovation Leaders Turn Creative Ideas Into Action

Idea posted: March 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Many companies recognize the importance of innovation yet continue to be ineffective innovators. The reason: their leaders lack the right skills to encourage, manage and implement innovation. Recognizing that innovation requires a structured process, multiple perspectives, silo-busting boundary-free and polarity thinking are important first steps.  

Idea #588
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Three Building Blocks of Innovation Leadership

Idea posted: March 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Fostering innovation in an organization requires the tools and techniques to help generate and implement ideas, the knowledge and abilities to manage innovation processes, and the attitudes that encourage rather than undermine new thinking. The right toolset, skillset and mindset are the three building blocks of innovation.

Idea #589
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411_World War 2 poster. Wireless operators (Courtesy: BT Archives)

CIOs: Coach and Communicate with C-suite for Digital Innovation

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

European companies are losing innovation opportunities because C-suite executives fail to respond to information technology and digital-related proposals of the CIO and the information technology function of the company, according to a new survey of European companies in three countries. The problem: lack of communication between IT and non-IT leaders.

Idea #573
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Cultural Transformation Recognition Ceremony at the Jefferson Auditorium, US Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, 2011 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Six Disruptive Demographic Trends and What They Mean for the Workplace

Idea posted: October 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

While demographics are never stationary, the demographic changes currently impacting the United States are transforming the country, with fundamental implications for how Americans live and work and how businesses in America can thrive. 

Idea #557
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Jean Charles de Menezes, memorial plaque at Stockwell Station, London (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Framing Leads to Bad Decisions and Bad (Even Fatal) Actions

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision makers must frame or ‘make sense’ of events and situations, and then make their decisions accordingly. A groundbreaking analysis of an innocent civilian’s tragic shooting by anti-terrorist police reveals how groups of individuals commit, through the interaction of communication, emotions and material cues, to a single, common frame — in this case an erroneous frame. It is a cautionary tale for leaders and other decision makers, exposing how errors or assumptions can cascade into a complete misunderstanding of situations.

Idea #563
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Who We Call and Why in Uncertain Situations

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

When facing uncertain situations of threat or opportunity, people will call on their contacts to help them meet the threat or take advantage of the opportunity. New research shows that how many contacts they call can be influenced by such factors as their rank in the organization, whether they have an internal or external locus of control, and the type of threat or opportunity that the uncertainty represents.

Idea #529
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'The Times They Are a-Changin', Bob Dylan's third studio album, 1964 (Courtesy: Columbia Records)

What is the Psychology Behind Resistance to Change?

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

Successful change does not only depend on how change agents manage the change, but also on employee attitudes toward change, which are shaped by psychological antecedents. Specifically, well-informed employees who have high social support will have a more positive attitude about organizational change efforts.

Idea #419
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Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at 'D5: All Things Digital' conference in Carlsbad, California, in 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Formulate a Winning Strategy

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies struggle to develop a good competitive strategy and to set a clear direction for managers and employees. Strategy formulation, in fact, almost poses as many challenges for business leaders as strategy implementation. The solution is a back-to-basics approach — and a framework that addresses four fundamental questions about where and how the business will compete.

Idea #411
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How to Be a Customer-intimate Company

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Customer-intimacy is the ultimate customer-centric model, resulting in long-term relationships with the most valuable and profitable customers. It’s not easy to achieve, however. For most businesses, becoming customer-intimate is more of a transformation than a transition. The first step involves a reversal of the normal ‘logic’ of business — and the next a significant organizational change. 

Idea #413
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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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Back to the Future: Managing Change with Retrospection

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

Change initiatives have almost become a permanent feature of organizational life, the norm rather than the exception. But one of their critical stages is often missed. The period between projects, when people make sense of what’s happened, needs to be ‘built into’ the programme. It’s the moment of retrospection that defines the relevance and continued impact of decisions — and the corridor of the future. 

Idea #310
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Martin Luther King, Jr. gives a speech during his MSU visit, 1965 (Source: Michigan State University archives)

Leaders' Charisma, Team Performance and Organizational Change

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

If a leader has charisma, he/she is said to be more likely to achieve better team performance. But what exactly is it that makes a leader seem charismatic, and why does this have an effect on performance outcomes? In this Idea, these questions are explored, and the behaviours that enhance the perception of charisma are outlined.

Idea #303
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Scrooge played by Reginal Owen and Marley's Ghost by Leo Caroll. Dicken's The Christmas Carol, © 1938 Warner Bros, distributed by MGM

Resistance to Change: Overcoming Multilevel Cynicism

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

Resistance to change is not just an individual attitude; it is also reflected at the organizational level through a cynicism to change (CTC) climate. Preventing or addressing resistance to change begins with understanding the multilevel nature of that resistance. Leaders need to address both individuals (e.g., be active in interacting with employees one on one and treating them as unique contributors) as well as organizational climates (e.g., by setting and reinforcing workplace norms, and making communications to the organization as a whole).

Idea #295
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Pessimismo e Optimismo, 1923, by Italian futurist painter Giacomo Balla, 1871-1958 (Source:Wiki Paintings)

Integrated IT Outsourcing: Total Package or Total Chaos?

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

There’s a growing trend in IT outsourcing towards integrated solutions. Clients no longer want to buy service components separately from multiple vendors: they want the ‘total package’ from a single provider. Integrated solutions, however, can be particularly challenging to implement, requiring intensive co-ordination by vendors. How can they be delivered on time — and to clients’ satisfaction? Recent qualitative research, looking at integrated IT services from the provider’s perspective, points to some answers. 

Idea #275
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Outsider CEOs and Strategic Change

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

While companies in crisis bring in outsider CEOs to effect change, many of them fail. New research shows why: Outsider CEOs need corporate stability to successfully bring change to an organization.

Idea #260
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Balancing Local and Global Efficiency with Anchored Agility

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations
Institutions: IMD

If your organization is struggling to balance local flexibility and global efficiency, it is not the only one; even leading multinationals are facing the problem of managing fixed vs. local needs. According to this Idea, the solution lies in adopting a framework called ‘anchored agility’. 

Idea #247
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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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Children Acting the Play Scene in 'Hamlet', by Charles Hunt, 1863, (Source: The Yale Center for British Art. Wikimedia Commons)

Calling in the Consultants: Risks and Rewards

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

The use of management consultants by businesses and other organizations is controversial — and its benefits hard to quantify. (The ‘consultancy effect’ is impossible to isolate from other factors affecting the organization.)

Anecdotal evidence and experience, however, suggest that the leaders who derive most value from consultants are those who see them not as ‘fixers’ but ‘facilitators’ come to ‘counter-observe’ the organization and help create or measure its aptitude for change.

Idea #214
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Hamlet's Vision, by Pedro Américo, 1893,The Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Surprising Reality of the Leadership of Change

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

Linear ‘step-by-step’ guides and standardised solutions are of limited use in the management of change. Organizations, by their very nature, defy prescription. Leaders who want to turn companies round are often better off observing things for themselves and encouraging employees to improvise solutions than trying to follow a generalised model. There are, to paraphrase Hamlet, more things in organizational life than are ‘dreamt of’ in the ‘philosophies’ of academics, business writers and management consultants.

Idea #213
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Belshazzar's Feast, Rembrandt van Rijn, c.1635-1638, National Gallery, London

CFOs Reborn as Agents of Organizational Change

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

After the financial crisis of 2009–10 and the subsequent global recession, CFOs have suddenly found themselves thrust under the spotlight like never before. They are no longer being seen merely as ‘chief number crunchers’ or even as senior accountants; organizations now want more out of their CFOs, and expect them to act as agents of ‘organizational change’. In this idea, some guidance is offered on how to effectively undertake such change management.

Idea #161
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Humanoid with his knowledge of universe on space background

Embed the Strategy (Do Not Rely on Cascading)

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

It’s not enough to ‘cascade’ strategy down through the chain of command. Senior leaders need a ‘direct line’ of communication with employees. Decisions about the future of the business need to be explained by those who make them. Supervisors and middle managers help to embed strategy by creating the working conditions that make it possible — not by ‘parroting’ the ideas of senior leaders

Idea #143
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Idea of the Ancient Via Appia and Ardeatina, Giovanni Battista Piranesi 1720-1778 (Source: Wikipaintings)

Organizational Capabilities Fit for the Future

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In the past bureaucratic hierarchies were at the core of most organizational structures. Now, things have changed; from established notions of leadership to operating environments, businesses are going through revolutionary times. In this Idea, a new leadership style for this new environment is put forward - one that combines the best of bureaucratic and ‘post-bureaucratic’ experiences to develop capabilities fit for the future.

Idea #132
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Alistair Sim as Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, 1951, United Artists

Don't Let CFOs and Accountants Slow Innovation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: INSEAD

What can you do when penny pinchers get in the way of your disruptive ideas – ideas that may bring the critical changes your company needs? Firms with a greater degree of accounting conservatism are less innovative because of an obligatory accounting practice of immediately provisioning for future losses. How can you get the breathing space necessary away from the demands of shareholders and the market to innovate and bring about change?

Idea #117
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Script the Change, Then Make It Happen

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

Change initiatives often fail for a reason that may seem obvious in retrospect but is often overlooked: no clear and detailed vision of a future with the change in place. What is the new environment? Who is doing what? Writing a movie script of the change — starting with the ideal future then imagining the story of how that change can be achieved — inspires and guides the change initiative, injects creativity into the change process, and reveals inconsistencies and challenges that can block successful implementation.

Idea #113
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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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