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Make Me Feel Safe! Working with Robots

Idea posted: June 2019
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Addressing perceived workplace danger from robots through immersive virtual environments helps employees overcome their fears and collaborate effectively with robots in the workplace.

Idea #743
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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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The board of directors of the Leipzig-Dresden Railway Company in 1852 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Non-Executive Board Members More Risk Averse than Executives

Idea posted: June 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

When it comes to investment, CEOs are perceived to be the most risk tolerant, followed by CFOs and non-executives. However, recent research, measuring risk perception and return demands, shows that CEOs and CFOs are more aligned than previously thought, while non-executives are consistently risk-averse. CEOs will perceive more risk in an investment than CFOs, but don’t act on this perception: they don’t demand a higher minimum return on the investment, contrary to the minimum requirements demanded by non-executives. 

Idea #524
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A Meeting of the School Trustees, Robert Harris, 1885 (Courtesy: National Gallery of Canada) 

Corporate Governance: The Power of Outside Directors on CEO-Only Boards

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Once packed with company insiders, corporate boards are filling up with outside directors, theoretically resulting in greater independent oversight. New research shows, however, that paradoxically having the CEO as the only insider on the board actually enhances the CEO’s power and undermines outside oversight.

Idea #506
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Cyber-Attack Catastrophe: Lessons from a Plausible Risk Scenario

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge University has developed a detailed risk scenario describing a slow-burning cyber attack on a fictional software developer that has global consequences. The improbable but plausible scenario, based on a variety of real (but smaller) cases, is intended as a ‘stress test’ for organizations and public policy bodies and offers lessons in how to mitigate the impact of such attacks.

Idea #491
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Bucket wheel excavator at the Tagebau Garzweiler mine, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The World Needs Mining, but Mining Must Change

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Demand is increasing for the mining industry, but so are costs and challenges — including increasing intolerance for the negative impact of mining activities on the environment and on local communities and indigenous people. The result: currently $24 billion in industry losses due to delays and resistance. A new initiative, involving all stakeholders impacted by mining operations and led by one of the giants of the industry, offers a roadmap for a collaborative, long-term sustainable approach to mining.

Idea #476
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The Sower by Jean-François Millet, circa 1865, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

How Well Is CSR Embedded in Business Strategy?

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

CSR and sustainable development are now widely seen as core parts of business. This does not, however, mean they’re always treated as core parts of business strategy. The management control systems big companies use to design, implement and monitor CSR sometimes suggest a ‘reactive’ rather than a ‘proactive’ approach from leaders.

Idea #374
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President Eisenhower signing of HR7786, June 1, 1954, this ceremony changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Do Soldiers Make Good CEOs?

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Leadership & Change

CEOs with past military experience are more likely to pursue more conservative corporate policies (particularly those related to finance and investment), are less likely to be involved in fraud, and are in a better position to guide a company during crises or industry downturns, according to new research based on 25 years of corporate data.

Idea #337
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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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Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, Adolph Northen (1828–1876)

Power Reduces Awareness of Constraints

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Leadership & Change

Whether imagining the future or reviewing the past, powerful people are consistently less aware of constraints and obstacles than the less powerful. This lack of constraint awareness explains their inhibition in attacking daunting goals and projects, but can also make them somewhat reckless and risk-taking.

Idea #279
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How Best Behaviour Boosts the Bottom Line

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: Henley Business School

Businesses can see beneficial financial effects if they implement policies based on corporate social responsibility. These effects are evident in both the equity and corporate bond markets where they lead to reduced market risk and default risk, lower cost of equity and debt and increased credit quality.

Idea #181
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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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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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Silhouette of a businessman pointing to a projected graph at a presentation

Reporting Risk When Reporting Performance to the Board

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

As the board of directors is ultimately responsible for a company’s success or failure, board members should be adequately informed not only about the company’s financial performance but about the full gamut of risks that may impact the company’s prospects and results and influence future strategy.

Idea #150
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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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DIANA, the first computer built by Norwegian pioneer  Jens Glad Balchen at the Department of Engineering Cybernetics, NTNU in mid 1950s (Source: NTNU)

Human Judgement Vs Computer Aided Forecasting

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

Is your company about to launch a new product or service into the market? If so, you know how crucial it is to predict as accurately as possible how it will be received; otherwise, you are putting at risk precious time and resources engaged. According to this Idea, there is a way to make an intelligent forecast that involves a combination of human and computer judgement. Faculty from Judge Business School and IE Business School explain how.

Idea #139
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ENRON's Kenneth Lay CEO and Jeffery Skilling CFO, The Houston Chronicle

CEO Connectedness Can Facilitate Fraud

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

CEOs have not only explicit legal authority but also substantial ‘soft’ influence (based on relationships, for example) over what happens in the company. This influence extends to wrongdoing, as revealed in new research by University of Michigan Ross School of Business finance professor E. Han Kim and University of Michigan Law School professor Vikramaditya Khanna. According to Kim and Khanna, CEOs who appoint their top lieutenants (thus increasing their soft influence) are more likely to commit fraud. Their research also shows that fraud is less likely to be discovered when CEOs are ‘

Idea #128
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Costume Partee

Unseen Dangers of Positive Stereotyping

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

Executives and human resource managers are always on the lookout for demeaning language and negative stereotyping, realizing that any pejorative phrase tinged with racist or other discriminatory connotation is offensive, creates a hostile work environment, undermines the culture of the company, and can eventually lead to expensive litigation.

But what of supposedly ‘inoffensive’ positive stereotypes — joking, for instance, that blacks are more athletic (an all-too common example)? Research by professor Aaron Kay of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business reveals that positive

Idea #116
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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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The Hare and the Tortoise, The Fables of Aesop, Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), Source: The Bewick Society

Advantages of Confidence and Dangers of Overconfidence

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

Confidence can be a useful quality for leaders to demonstrate when they wish to gain stature, credibility and influence. But what happens when a leader acts overconfidently? The past is overpopulated with overconfident leaders who have led their companies to disaster. Finding the balance between leveraging the benefits of acting confidently and avoiding the dangers of overconfidence is crucial. This Idea explores how to do so.

Idea #118
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Driving Risk Appetite Higher or Lower: Penalties Vs Rewards

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

‘Innovate or die’ we are told. What if an organization’s ability to innovate could be enhanced by managing risk-taking behaviour through monetary incentive schemes and through a culture that tolerates failure? In this Idea we identify the precise levers that shift risk appetite, and show how they can be tweaked to foster innovation.

Idea #059
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