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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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Why the Chief Marketing Officer Matters

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

The position of Chief Marketing Officer has come under fire recently, with some arguing that a CMO does not really add value to a company. A new research study counters this view; showing that companies with CMOs perform up to 15% better than companies who leave the CMO seat empty. 

Idea #581
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Organizational Resilience Is Reinforced by These Two Variables

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance

Demonstrating the role of governance in resilience, a new study shows that employee-owned businesses (EOBs) are more likely to resist the damage from an economic downturn than non-EOBs — however, only if ownership is accompanied by a strong employee voice in company decisions at all levels. 

Idea #577
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Composition VI, Wassily Kandinsky, 1913 (Courtesy: The State Hemitage Museum, St Petersburg)

A Symphony of Agency and Stewardship Values Ensures Family Business Success

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Agency theory describes a contractual relationship between managers and shareholders who have divergent interests. Stewardship theory describes a collaborative relationship between managers and shareholders toward shared goals. Which works best for family businesses? New research reveals that a combination of the two, changing as the business moves through its lifecycle, offers the best recipe for success. 

Idea #518
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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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Organizational Structure  of the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg Chronicles, by Hartmann Schedel, 1493

How to Design Organizational Structures by Understanding Organizational Routines

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The characteristics of an organization’s routines — specifically their purpose (operational or dynamic) and whether or not they are specific to individual business units — help define the most effective structure for that organization. 

Idea #451
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A Philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrery, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1766, Courtesy: Derby Museum and Art Gallery

How to Motivate Subsidiaries to Share Useful Know-How with Others in the Group

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Building competence takes time and money. Subsidiaries of multinational corporations are therefore going to focus more on building competence that helps them, and not worry about other subsidiaries. However, parent companies can motivate subsidiaries to develop internationally useful competence by: making the creation of such competence part of a subsidiary’s mission, increasing the interface among subsidiaries, and granting them operational (but not strategic) autonomy.

Idea #444
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Hierarchical or Egalitarian Organizations? The Advantages of Hierarchy

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

While hierarchies can be used by people in power to control others, new research indicates hierarchies also help people in lower positions to feel a sense of control and order in their lives. Change agents who are flattening hierarchies to create leaner, more effective organizations must make sure that they don’t unintentionally undermine this sense of order.

Idea #436
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Managing the Multigenerational Workplace

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

There is an increasing demand in the workforce today to add multigenerational diversity to the mix. What exactly comprises a multigenerational team, and what are the unique characteristics and expectations each generation brings the fore? Read this Idea to learn more about how to ensure your organization makes the most of its multigenerational workforce.

Idea #381
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Luggage tag for Japan Air Transport, 1937 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Relocating Leaders Abroad: Pros and Cons

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

The internationalization of markets and industries means executive offices and core functions are being moved abroad. Relocating top managers, however, can be risky. Organizations should explore the alternatives before making a decision. There are arguments for and against leaders crossing borders.

Idea #368
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St. Augustine Departing for Milan, detail from a fresco in the apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1464-65

How to Keep Clients When a Linchpin Leaves

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: INSEAD

Losing clients can be a serious risk when a key member of staff leaves, particularly in the creative and professional-services industries. Including non-compete clauses in employee contracts has, so far at least, proved an ineffective mitigation strategy. Is ‘multiplexity’ — increasing the number of ‘human ties’ between client and company — the ‘optimal’ solution? Only, finds new research, in certain circumstances.

Idea #330
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The Blue Bottle coffee house founded in 1686 in Vienna. Painting c.1900 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Developing Network Perspective: Social Networks and Leadership

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

Are you aware of the different roles individuals play in your organization, and how they connect to each other to form an informal structure that supports the organization as a whole? If so, you are well on your way to developing network perspective — something that is, according to this Idea, imperative for 21st century executives. 

Idea #291
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The Wagah border often called the "Berlin wall of Asia", is a ceremonial border on India–Pakistan Border,

Organizational Identity and Adaptation to Disruptive Change

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Discontinuous technologies (often the result of ‘disruptive innovation’) emerge at the periphery of organizational vision, requiring fundamental changes in business structures in order to be adopted successfully. So it is not surprising that they present particularly demanding challenges for executives. This Idea explains why organizational identity has an important role to play in dealing with this type of technological change.

Idea #272
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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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Madhubani, or Mithila, painting from Northern India (Source: mithilapaintingtraining.blogspot.co.uk)

Family Business in India: Meeting 21st Century Challenges

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

With 75% of the Indian workforce employed by a family-owned business, how they are run and what challenges they face will be of interest both to organizations in the country and to those interested in doing business there. In this Idea, some of the key features of India’s family-owned businesses are looked into, and some advice is offered to such firms for their long-term success.

Idea #235
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Peer-to-Peer Deference in Email Communication

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

Emails have fast become the most widely-used form of written communication in business, both externally and internally within organizations. This Idea looks at the relationship between hierarchy and the language used in emails, showing that surprisingly, peer-to-peer communication tends to contain more signs of deference than subordinate-superior communication.

Idea #196
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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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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (anon. medieval)

How Evolving C-Suite Structures Affect Performance

Idea posted: February 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The size and structure of C-Suites has changed significantly over the past few decades. An examination of these changes reveals a number of shifts, including one towards more product-focused (or front-end) functional managers in organizations with closely-related business units, and an increase in administrative positions where organizations invest more in IT. These findings also have an impact on general managers’ salaries. Here’s why executives should pay attention to these shifts when structuring their top teams.

Idea #082
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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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Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze, 1851

Resolute Leadership, Coordination and Corporate Culture

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

Resoluteness is often a term used to describe people in battle, moving forward in an unwavering, purposeful way. Now, research indicates that this trait is useful in an organizational setting too; resolute leaders are better equipped to coordinate their followers’ actions, and build high-performance teams. Conviction or resoluteness enhance a leader's credibility. However, resoluteness can also inhibit bottom-up information flow. So a balance is needed.

Idea #087
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Pericles, The First Citizen of Athens, c. 495 – 429 BC

Aligning the Organization to Let Leadership Happen

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

Good leadership is the result of ‘shared work’, and shared work is achieved through a process of direction, alignment and commitment in an organization. Creating positive leadership is really about these factors, rather than about adopting a set of ideal characteristics. All members of an organization have a role in making leadership happen.

Idea #014
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