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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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Source: Pixabay

Typical Air Quality in Offices Hurts Cognitive Function

Idea posted: September 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Controlled laboratory experiments yield evidence that air quality in conventional offices will impact our cognitive abilities, compared to the quality in ‘green’ offices and buildings.

Idea #669
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Toyota factory in Ohira, near Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Lean Manufacturing More Effective in Collectivist Cultures

Idea posted: August 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Lean manufacturing practices are more effective in countries and companies that have more collectivist or group cultures than individualist cultures. In addition, nation trumps organization: a plant’s collectivist organizational culture will not overcome the individualistic culture of the country in which it is located.

Idea #616
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Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich: the Sister, by Edward Ardizzone,1941 (Courtesy: The Imperial War Museum, London)

The Overlooked Productivity Costs of Collaboration

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

While management theorists and business leaders trumpet knowledge sharing and other advantages of collaboration, new research shows that workforce collaboration also comes with ‘spillover’ time-related costs that hurt productivity. These costs, however, can be managed.  

Idea #552
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When Does Downsizing Hurt Customer Satisfaction?

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Past research based on B2B industries show an intuitive link between downsizing the workforce and lower customer satisfaction. A new study focused on B2C industries reveals that the link is more complex, depending on factors such as organizational slack, labour productivity, and the emphasis on innovation. The study does confirm that downsizing reduces customer satisfaction, which then reduces financial results.

Idea #507
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Henri Matisse, working from his sick bed, 1952 (Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The Hidden Costs of Working While Sick

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

How does working while sick or in pain affect work performance? Through two studies, one focused on employees with chronic pain and another focused on those with momentary pain, a research team demonstrated that fluctuations in pain impacted employee allocations of energy toward their work. Specifically, when in pain, employees are more likely to withdraw from their work, while without pain, they are more likely to engage in ‘extra-role’ behaviours, going above and beyond their responsibilities. 

Idea #492
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The Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Courtesy the Metrolopitan Museum, New York

Does Work/Life Balance Help or Hurt Productivity?

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

Does paying attention to the work-life balance issues of employees increase productivity and the competitiveness of a business? Or, as pessimists might argue, is productivity and work-life balance (WLB) in direct conflict? New research shows that in fact WLB is more neutral than either proponents or pessimists believe — neither hurting nor particularly helping productivity. The decision on whether to implement WLB practices may rest on a completely different factor: the social norms of the countries in which the business activity takes place.

Idea #475
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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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A Zara shopfront, London, 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Fast Fashion Retailing – Transforming Operations Management

Idea posted: August 2013
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Since the early 2000s, Spanish retailer Zara (founded 1975) has taken the fashion industry by storm, with its ability to react to rapid changes in market conditions and keep its stock fresh and up-to-date, once claiming it needs only two weeks (as compared to up to six months traditionally needed by rivals) to produce and distribute new stock. According to this Idea, other retailers can achieve similar success by optimizing three key operation management decisions: design, sourcing and distribution.

Idea #198
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Noah's Ark, Cameo by Allessandro Masnago who worked in Milan around 1600 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Severe Weather: Moderating Its Impact on Productivity

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

As the extreme temperatures and violent storms caused by climate change continues to create havoc, a team of researchers from Columbia Business School and The Wharton School is investigating the impact of weather on productivity. Using productivity in US automobile assembly plants as the basis for the research, they demonstrate the correlation between bad weather and poor productivity, even in industries that are not ‘climate-sensitive,’ such as manufacturing and services.

Idea #154
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The Addams Family. TV series on ABC from 1964-1966, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (Source: Wikimedia)

The Ties That Bind: How Family Businesses Create Value

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Family businesses contribute a significant proportion of GDP to economies worldwide, yet they are not always seen as attractive propositions to investors.

On the one hand, family-controlled businesses are admired and respected for ‘weathering the economic storms’, for adhering to their core values, and for taking a long-term approach. On the other hand, the very thing that knits them together, the family shareholders, can have different priorities to other shareholders, creating a conflict of interest which can be an obstacle to value creation.

How can these companies

Idea #109
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Donkey and overloaded cart, India 2008 (Source: flickr.com)

Why Scaling Up Is No Longer the Only Strategy

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Traditionally, industrial production has moved in only one direction: from small to large. ‘Scaling up’ was the best way to maximize productivity and lower per-unit costs. A fleet of 100 ten-ton dump trucks requires more drivers than a fleet of 10 hundred-ton dump trucks. But automation and communication technology has evolved to the point where a large number of small units may be cheaper, better and more efficient than a small number of large units.

Idea #107
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Man with special talents

Lean Thinking – Increased Innovation

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Being Lean should not impact an organization’s innovative environment. In fact, freeing up resources can actually increase innovation. Lean thinking should be instilled in a company through leaders; however, middle-managers can also apply simple strategies to simulate creativity at all levels of the organization.

Idea #019
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