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Using Values-Based Leadership to Drive Performance

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

Values-based leadership can drive the performance of organizations, and managing those values is the key to unlocking increased performance. Richard Barrett’s model maps values for individuals, groups, organizations and nations. It can identify the gaps between observed and desired values and the negative values that create dysfunction, and can be used to show where change needs to occur to create higher performance.

Idea #472
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High CEO Pay Leads to Overconfidence and Poor Results

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

A new study shows a negative correlation between high executive incentive pay and company performance: the higher the pay, the worse the future results. This study also pinpoints the culprit behind the negative correlation: CEO overconfidence. The overconfidence of higher-paid CEOs leads to poor investment decisions and unsuccessful M&A initiatives. 

Idea #469
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Dante Shows an Artist Some Unusual Clouds, by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1883

Six Imperatives for Companies to Embrace Cloud Computing

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Cloud computing can offer companies more cost-effective and agile IT capabilities than many traditional in-house IT services and functions. Based on an extensive study of a company successfully expanding its cloud computing capabilities, as well as on interviews with 45 other companies, a research team from the MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research lays out the imperatives that help companies prepare for and manage the shift to cloud computing.

Idea #465
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The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1662, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Board Diversity Improves Corporate Results: Lessons from Singapore

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
Institutions: NUS Business School

Singapore lags behind other nations in diversity on its corporate boards — while evidence mounts that diversity leads to better results, according to a 2014 National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School report on diversity. 

Idea #467
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A watercolour by Gustaf Tenggren, 1918-19. An alternative version was used to illustrate an edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales published 1922.

Ethics and the Slippery Slope: Why Good People Do Bad Things

Idea posted: November 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

An in-depth study of ordinary people over an extended period of time reveals how easy it is for ‘good’ people, starting with an initial small, self-justified deception, to quickly justify bigger and bigger indiscretions, thus falling down the ‘slippery slope’ to major unethical behaviour.

Idea #462
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The Good and Bad Reasons Corporate Cash Is Trapped Overseas

Idea posted: November 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Policy makers are worried that U.S. companies are using Permanently Reinvested Earnings (PRE) as a tax loophole rather than legitimately trying to grow their overseas operations. They are also concerned about cash trapped overseas instead of being invested in the U.S. economy. The SEC is focused on whether companies are using the rules concerning PRE as a means to overstate their profits. New research shows that a majority of companies are serious about overseas growth rather than looking for tax loopholes. However, cash trapped abroad is still a problem for the U.S. economy. 

Idea #458
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Wrestler Frank Leavitt, Chicago, 1924 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How CEOs Strong-Arm Their Compensation Consultants to Get What They Want

Idea posted: November 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

While previous research has never shown a direct link between the hiring of compensation consultants and increased CEO pay, a new SEC requirement allows academics to test more rigorously for a link: and they find it. According to the research, compensation consultants are used by CEOs as the means to justify higher pay.

Idea #457
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Five Things a New CIO Must Do to Operate as a Business Leader

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

In the age of ‘big data’ and all pervasive social media the role of the CIO is increasingly important. However, traditionally seen as a ‘techie’, the CIO needs to shift perspective to operate as a business leader; and the newly appointed CIO must position her or himself to take on this leadership role.

Idea #454
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Corporate Values: Translating Platitudes into Sustainable Practices

Idea posted: October 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

For organizational values to have an impact they must be turned into practices. Effective values practices are not stamped in place by top-down management pronouncements but rather emerge from precipitating events that draw concerned people together who seek preventive solutions. These solutions are eventually, after a period of contention and rework, manifested in concrete practices.

Idea #449
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Stock trading on the New York Curb Association market, with brokers and clients signaling from street to offices, 1916 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Impact of Ideal Vs Problematic Shareholders

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

In an ideal world, companies would spend significant time managing their shareholder base, striving to attract the ideal shareholder: a shareholder with a long-term investment horizon who will allow the company to make long-term investments and not push for short-term results. Shareholders with short-term investment horizons drag down share prices or increase their volatility by focusing on short-term results.

Idea #447
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Richard Long, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Martha Wentworth, Orson Welles, Philip Merivale, Byron Keith, in The Stranger, 1946, directed by Orson Welles (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Succession Planning: Boards Need to Know Their Senior Managers

Idea posted: October 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

When a CEO leaves, his or her successor will be chosen from among internal and external candidates. Research shows that a board of directors will know surprisingly little about internal candidates, since directors have minimal interaction with executives below the CEO level — often limited to formal board presentations. Effective succession planning requires directors to become more directly involved in the organization’s talent development program.

Idea #443
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Lion tamer in cage with two lions, a lioness, and two tigers.  Chromolithograph, Gibson & Co. (Cincinnati, Ohio), published c. 1873 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Coaches Needed to Help CEOs and Senior Managers

Idea posted: September 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive any coaching or leadership advice from the outside (e.g. from mentors, coaches or consultants), says a Stanford survey on executive coaching. Yet the CEOs would welcome the help. The survey shows that nearly 100% would welcome outside advice and coaching — especially on issues such as sharing, leadership delegation, and conflict management — the major developmental areas of concern for CEOs.

Idea #442
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Committee of the French Art Exhibition in Copenhagen, Peder Severin Krøyer, 1888, Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen

Small Vs Large Top Management Teams and the CEO's Workload

Idea posted: September 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

The larger a CEO’s top management team or direct reports, the more time that CEO spends interacting with internal staff on internal operations issues and the less time he or she spends working alone. Thus, CEOs seeking more time for strategy and individual work, and less time for collaboration and team consensus activities, might opt for smaller top management teams instead. 

Idea #437
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Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, enthroned over his defeated enemies, Giulio Clovio, mid 16th century

What Boards Think of CEOs

Idea posted: September 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

The greatest weakness of CEOs is their lack of people management and talent management skills, according to a Stanford Graduate School of Business survey of Boards of Directors. However, the directors themselves must shoulder part of the blame: the survey also shows that when evaluating their CEOs, boards place significantly more value on financial metrics than any other factor. 

Idea #439
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Ways to Encourage Employees to Help Each Other

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A cooperative culture featuring generous employees helping each other is a key success factor for innovative and effective organizations. The two mechanisms for such generosity is the pay-it-forward approach, where someone who has been helped helps another person, and reputation rewarding, in which employees with a reputation for helping others are rewarded with help when they need it. New research from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business shows that both mechanisms are effective, but paying it forward will have a longer lasting impact on the organization

Idea #435
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Bring Your Own Device to Work: The Pros and Cons for a Multinational

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Rapid advances in communications technology available to consumers has meant that employees often have far greater private access to sophisticated technology than they do in the workplace. Is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - permitting employees to bring personal laptops, tablets, and smart phones to work, and to use their devices to access company information a sensible policy? In theory organizations benefit, in practice this presents many problems. This Idea uses a case study of a particular multi-national organization to see its response to this question. 

Idea #433
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Hedge Fund Activism Can Help, Not Hurt, in the Long Run

Idea posted: August 2014
  • CSR & Governance

New evidence disputes the general consensus that institutional shareholder activism has a long-term negative impact on the results of a corporation. A team of researchers from Harvard, Duke and Columbia argue, based on their empirical research, that on the contrary shareholder activism leads to improvement in both short-term and long-term results.

Idea #428
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Isaac Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi 2003, based on a painting by William Blake. Newton showed sign of autism (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Competitive Advantage through Individuals Outside the Norm

Idea posted: August 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

While employees who think ‘differently’ may be hired as part of the social responsibility activities of a corporation, corporate pioneers demonstrate that such individuals, such as those, for example, who are diagnosed with certain forms of autism, can perform certain tasks more effectively than (in this case) employees without autism. Hiring such employees thus becomes a bid for competitive advantage rather than an exercise in social responsibility. 

Idea #425
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How to Turn a Product-Focused Company into a Platform Business

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance

The transition from a product-based company to a platform-based company will have a major impact on your organizational identity: how organizational members conceive of who you are. Understand the fundamental shift and broaden that identity while staying true to your values.

Idea #422
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Inclusive Leadership: Aligning the Different

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: Mercer LLC

Globalization, advances in technology, and the impact of emerging markets have made the leadership of organizations increasingly complex. To address this complexity leaders need to embrace the ‘different’ and to become ‘inclusive’.  Inclusive leaders have the skill to engage with people with different backgrounds and outlooks, are willing to adapt personally, and are able to create a shared vision which brings diverse individuals to a collective focus on a coherent end-goal. Organizations should follow the advice from Apple and their strapline “Think Different.”

Idea #415
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Family Portrait, Cornelis de Vos, 1631 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Surviving a Recession: Seven Lessons from Family Businesses

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Family businesses tend to outperform companies with more dispersed ownership structures during economic downturns. Their ‘star’ quality is resilience — and it results from a set of strategic choices that put the long-term interests of the business first.

Idea #400
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U.S. Army enlisted promotion - CONTIC Intelligence Center, Ft. Bragg, N.C. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Can Employees Be Motivated by More than Money and Benefits?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Managers mistakenly believe that, although they have to provide both intrinsic (e.g. the love of a challenge) and extrinsic (compensation) motivations, employees are only extrinsically motivated. To best motivate their employees, managers need to look beyond the traditional external motivations such as bonuses and find ways to make the work challenging and interesting.

Idea #401
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Robert Maxwell, media tycoon and owner of Mirror Group Newspapers, 1991 in London. Maxwell died in November 1991 (Copyright: Shutterstock)

The Curse of the Narcissistic CEO

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In theory, strategic decision-making is a democratic process in which the knowledge and previous experience of all executives is brought to bear. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. A recent study finds that more narcissistic CEOs fail to pool knowledge effectively, putting themselves and their own experiences first. This underlines the importance of checks and balances on CEO power.

Idea #404
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Projected thickness of Arctic Ice over 100 year timespan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Strategies Companies Are Using to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Climate change is real and major companies are already developing and implementing detailed strategies to reduce their impact on the environment, reduce their vulnerability to the extreme weather caused by climate change, and anticipate or even lead climate change-related market developments, including significant public policy changes now on the horizon.

Idea #406
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Creating Shared Value Using Inter-Organizational Networks

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

More and more companies are making the connection between commercial success and attaining sustainable growth through ‘creating shared value’. This Idea outlines three steps organizations can take to advance their efforts in ‘creating shared value’, highlighting the role of inter-organizational networks as a key driver.

Idea #395
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How Competition for Customers Causes Unethical Behaviour

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Do you encourage a culture of competition in your organization in order to motivate your employees? This Idea shows that doing so may also promote corruption and unethical behaviour. In the face of local competition, firms operating in the New York air-pollution testing industry were found to be more likely to behave unethically. Read on to find out the implications of this finding for your organization.

Idea #397
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The White Rabbit, by Sir John Tenniel (1820 –1914), an illustration from the original edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

How to Ensure Knowledge Sharing under Pressure

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Knowledge sharing among employees is vital to an organization’s success. But increasing time pressure makes employees less willing to break away from their tasks and deadline work to help others. In a busy and competitive environment it is up to organizations to help relieve this pressure.

Idea #392
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Kenya's Faith Chemaoi crosses the finishing line of the 2014 Paris Marathon (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Reference Points Motivate Us

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Reference-dependent theories state that individuals evaluate outcomes as gains or losses, depending on a neutral reference point. Making 19 sales in a month is a loss when the goal — the reference point — was 20 sales a month. Data from 10 million marathon finishes provides a field test that confirms the behavioural expectations and implications of these theories, shedding a light on how milestone goals can push individuals to higher performance.

Idea #394
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The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, 1781, Detroit Institute of Art

How Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Unethical Behaviour

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Are your employees working longer hours? This is the case with most organizations today. Look deeper and you might find that they are sleep deprived as a result. This Idea suggests that such sleep deprivation can lead to more unethical behaviour at work, but there may be a simple, short-term solution: a cup of coffee!

Idea #385
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How Peers Influence Ethics: Good Eggs and Bad Apples

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

A controlled experiment reveals that managers ‘adjust’ their ethics based on the behaviour they witness from peers. If a peer is honest, the observing manager becomes a little more honest, on average. If a peer is dishonest, the observing manager can become significantly more dishonest. 

Idea #386
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