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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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St Nicholas saves a storm-tossed ship, Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1425)

Is Your Supply Chain Prepared for the Unexpected?

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Supply chain management is a delicate balancing act in these unpredictable times – on the one hand, there is pressure to keep the supply chain as cost efficient as possible, while on the other, it needs to be flexible and resilient in the face of unforeseen events. How do leaders proactively manage the risk of disruption?

Idea #414
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The Unexpected Impact of Click and Collect Retail Programs

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

When retailers started offering the ‘buy-online, pickup-in-store’ option, also known as BOPS, the assumption would be that online sales would increase. New research shows, however, that BOPS actually reduces online sales while increasing offline sales — a surprising but positive result.

Idea #527
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Foreign Acquisitions: The Path to Better Productivity at Home?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Cross-border acquisitions can be risky and complex but they can also create value and improve productivity in the long term. Much depends on the professional ‘ecosystem’ offered by the host country — and on the acquirer’s willingness to make complementary capital investments at home.

Idea #409
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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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How to Win a Price War

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Price wars are usually won by companies with the widest profit margins and the best cost structures — i.e. those that can afford to fight them. It is, however, possible for a business with a cost disadvantage to achieve victory. Much depends on the way a ‘campaign’ is carried out and planned. Sometimes strategic capabilities, not cost structure, decides the outcome.

Idea #403
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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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Decision Support Systems: Under-rated and Under-used?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Technology now provides a range of decision support systems to interrogate, process and analyse data on markets and customers and help companies answer ‘what-if’ questions. The best ones, however, could be being neglected by organizations. Recent empirical research finds a clear discrepancy between users’ perceptions of decision support systems and how these systems actually perform. 

Idea #387
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"Your reputation precedes you" Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman, 1941, produced and directed by Alexander Korda, distributed by United Artists.

How to Measure and Manage Reputation

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations
Institutions: Henley Business School

Reputation management is a complex task and the measurement of it particularly so, concerned as it is with diverse stakeholder groups and their respective, sometimes differing, evaluations of an organization. Getting the right level of engagement with stakeholders is a critical factor in a firm achieving its objectives, because from that engagement business recommendation and take-up will flow.

This research focuses on the pharmaceutical industry, although the model it uses is transferable to other industries and therefore offers potential to the wider corporate communication and

Idea #378
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Walkie talkie. Image from World War II US Signals Corps' manual (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Lead Virtual Teams

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Virtual teams, groups of diverse and geographically dispersed people communicating mainly by technology, pose challenges for companies. They can deliver superior performance and become an important source of value creation, but they demand a new management and leadership approach. Organizations that apply the ‘rules’ for classic or traditional teams will be disappointed.

Idea #384
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The Misers, by a follower of Marinus van Reymerswaele, c.1490-1567, The Royal Collection Trust

Profits Vs Principles: Market Competition and Moral Transgression

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

Competition sometimes has undesirable consequences. These could include ‘tolerance’ of moral transgressions that further the economic interests of the organization. New research suggests that in highly competitive markets, where the pressure to outperform is intense, leaders might be less likely to discipline ‘bad’ employees who are ‘good’ for the bottom line.

Idea #380
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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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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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Emerging Market Strategy: Creating Order out of Chaos

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations
Institutions: Henley Business School

New and emerging markets present a wealth of opportunities but they also comprise highly complex business environments that can change rapidly. The key to success is understanding – understanding competitors and what they are up to; understanding consumers and what they want, now and into the future; and understanding the host governments of the countries you are targeting. It’s a complex process but recent research proposes a two-step approach to strategic thinking that can help make sense of these emerging economies.  

Idea #373
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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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Dinamismo di Treno Nave Aereo, 1929, by Italian futurist painter Giulio D'Anna (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Inferior Innovations Often Beat the Best

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

In theory, companies base decisions on whether or not to buy a new technology on an objective assessment of its merits and demerits. In practice, however, it doesn’t always work that way. Random events and ‘copy-cat’ behaviours among competitors play a significant role in the spread of innovation.

Idea #369
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Early experimental digital photograph by Rick Doble, 2000 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

IT Leadership: Shifting Mindsets to Add Value

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

How is IT managed in your organization? Most organizations do not think of this as a crucial question to consider, but in order to ensure competitive success in today’s complex business environment, responsibility for IT decision-making should be shared and not left solely in the hands of the CIO. Read on to find out more.

Idea #359
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Navigating the Global Online Contract Labour Market

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Online labour markets match employers, mostly from richer economies, with skilled contractors in large part from developing economies for the performance of a variety of projects large and small. With a growing pool of experienced contractors and platform design features that alert employers about potential hidden quality problems, this market is soaring. The economic impact is generally positive, with wages often higher than the average in the contractors’ country of origin, while still providing cost savings to employers, and a larger pool of potential contractors increasing the

Idea #354
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WAAF plotters at work in the Operations Room at No. 11 Group HQ at Uxbridge in Middlesex, 1942 (Courtesy: Imperial War Museum, London) Copyright?

Reallocating Resources to Realize Strategic Goals

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

Does your organization keep allocating the same resources to the same business units year after year? Such inertia makes it difficult to realize strategic goals and ultimately undermines performance and profitability. The answer is to regularly adjust resource allocation, but, according to this Idea, failure to pursue active reallocation policies is due to multiple causes.

Idea #342
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Dr. Manmohan Singh in 1994, when finance minister. He subsequently became Prime Minister of India (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Modernizing without Westernizing: Social Ties and Indian Business

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

The modernization of India’s economy, begun in the early 1990s when Manmohan Singh, then finance minister, introduced a series of reforms, has not reversed centuries-old traditions. Personal affiliations and kinship ties, long the bedrock of Indian society, continue to exert a powerful influence in the financial sector. India’s economy has been liberalized — but not, necessarily, Westernized.

Idea #341
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John Evelyn discovers sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721). Gibbons became Master Carver in Wood to the Court of King Charles II

Co-creating with Customers: More Pros than Cons?

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Involving customers in the design and delivery of products and services can be a cost-effective way to meet the demand for constant innovation and improved ‘customer experience’. It has, however, the power to destroy as well as create value. Much depends on the human and technological interfaces between customers and the company.

Idea #344
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HQ Controls and the Speed of Strategic Decision-Making

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

How do control mechanisms set by corporate headquarters in large organizations influence decision-making speed at lower levels? In this Idea, six types of corporate controls are identified, their effects on decision speed are discussed, and the key mechanisms accounting for these effects are outlined.

Idea #339
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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 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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John Barrymore as Svengali and Marian Marsh as Trilby, a poster for ‘Svengali’, 1931, produced and distributed by Warner Brothers

Choosing a Venture Capitalist: The Ethical Dimension

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

New and young businesses often depend on equity finance from venture capitalists. This does not, however, mean that they’re indiscriminate in their choice of venture capitalist fund. Recent research suggests that, in certain circumstances at least, entrepreneurs will spurn offers from equity investors who have a poor reputation for ethical behaviour.

Idea #332
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