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The Steben Twins, famous trapeze artists and innovators of the feet-to-feet catching technique (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation Partnerships — Loosely or Tightly Coupled?

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

‘Loosely coupled’ research partnerships — in which the flow of new ideas and new knowledge tends to be one-way — are often considered the ‘poor relation’ in the quest for innovation. They can, however, be just as successful as ‘tightly coupled’ and more reciprocal alternatives. Much depends on the conditions at the ‘in-sourcing’ company. 

Idea #329
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How Virtual Ways of Working Impact on Team Productivity

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Digitally-mediated (or ‘virtual’) relationships and ways of working have been considered an essential part of the way teams will work in the future. But according to this Idea, virtuality can give rise to as many problems as solutions. Here, different types of virtual work are discussed, and based on the example of the U.S. automobile industry, some cautionary advice for organizations is offered.

Idea #323
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La Asociación Cultural de Aficionados a LEGO® de España, 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How LEGO® Helps Strategic Thinking and Idea Generation

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

People tend to think of intense brainstorming sessions in a conference room when they imagine idea generation and problem-solving within an organization. In this Idea, an entirely different and much more novel way of developing innovative new strategies and solutions is presented: playing with Lego bricks! Read on to find out more about how Lego® Serious Play® can help you.

Idea #321
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The Reception, by James Gillray, published 1792. Lord Macartney, the first envoy of Great Britain to China, meeting Emperor Qianlong  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When Supply Chain Partners Move Up the Value Chain

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

The role of suppliers in global supply chains has been evolving from simply providing components to manufacturing entire products. Especially for suppliers in emerging economies, however, successfully moving up the value chain requires internal skills and capabilities as well as the willingness of the client to share not only technology but customer-facing capabilities as well. 

Idea #320
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Tai Chi Chuan on the Bund in Shanghai, China. Photography by J. Gremillot, 2005 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Organizational Energy: May the Force Be With You

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: Henley Business School

Organizational energy, or the force with which a company works, is inextricably linked to personal and collective effectiveness and performance in a business. How can leaders assess that energy, and if necessary, recharge it, to make the most of their people, so that they are all positively energized around the business goals? 

Idea #317
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The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin (detail), van Eyck, 1435, Musee du Louvre, Paris. Nicholas Rolin was Chancellor to Philip the Good.

Rebuilding Reputation after a Serious Financial Restatement

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

In the wake of a serious financial restatement, how can companies repair their reputations and increase the value of their shares? According to this Idea, the answer may lie in focusing not just on investors but on stakeholders who are non-capital providers and can be viewed as ‘softer’ constituencies. 

Idea #313
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Ideas, Implementation and the Learning Organization

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

Employee deviation from official strategy can result in discoveries and innovations that increase profits. It’s not always to be actively encouraged, though. Employees who try to implement the ideas of management — and provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t — can better serve the interests of the organization in the long term.

Idea #314
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Search Engine Marketing: Does it Pay?

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Spending on search advertising has skyrocketed in recent years. But experiments conducted by researchers from UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago and eBay Research Labs suggest paid search may not be as effective as is thought. Particularly in the case of well-known brands, it seems it has little or no effect on sales as, in its absence, loyal customers will find other channels to visit the company’s website anyway.

Idea #309
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Brazillian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma, 2013. Courtesy of Brazilian Foreign Ministry

The 'Brazilian Way': The Future for Africa?

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Recent years have seen increased investment and activity in Africa from newly industrialised countries. While China leads the emerging-power pack in terms of trade and investment, Brazil could be the one to watch. A policy of development co-operation, begun in the early 2000s, means that the future of the South American country and the future of countries in Africa are closely linked.

Idea #300
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Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Auguste Renoir, 1876, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Crowdsourcing New Product Ideas Over Time

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Is your organization thinking of using online crowdsourcing applications to collect ideas for new products and services? If yes, it is not the only one; a number of large companies have been turning to crowdsourcing in recent years, including the technology corporation Dell. Read on to find out what an analysis of their application can tell you about how to use crowdsourcing in your own organization.

Idea #296
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Overload' by George Pemba, 1989, courtesy Ann Bryant Art Gallery, RSA, www.annbryant.co.za (Source: Wikipaintings)

Collectivism and Consumers at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ in South Africa

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Despite their poverty and limited purchasing power, people at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ in South Africa increasingly attract the attention of marketers. At more than one third of South Africa’s population, they represent a significant, or potentially significant, market for companies. But they will not be ‘reached’ by conventional approaches — or by applying the individualistic perspective of the developed world. At the bottom of the pyramid in South Africa, communities are different — and collectivism still counts. 

Idea #290
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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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Knowledge Sharing Networks Between Developing and Developed Countries

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Managers in emerging markets can benefit from interpersonal ties to more developed countries. Personal contacts abroad can provide useful ‘inside information’ and transfer critical knowledge — for free. They should not, however, be pursued exclusively. The best personal networks include contacts at home as well as overseas. Recent research points to the relative merits and usefulness of local and distant knowledge.

Idea #292
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Chery A1 - service/repair shop in Ukraine (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Reasons for Product Recalls: Safety on the Line

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Product recall is an increasingly common problem for manufacturing industries. But its causes are rarely researched. Most studies concentrate on its effects. The  financial impact of withdrawing a product from sale has been examined in detail; the PR ‘fall-out’ much discussed. This Idea shifts the emphasis to the ‘plant-level drivers’ of recalls — and reveals the ‘systematic’ and operational reasons for quality-control failure and serious product flaws.

Idea #285
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Sir James Dyson puts on Dyson product launch, Sydney, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Eureka! How to Get that Great Idea to Market

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: Henley Business School

‘Making a market’, or creating a need for something no-one has experienced before, is difficult enough for the most well-known sellers, but for entrepreneurs it is doubly so. To overcome the hurdle of succeeding with a new product, they need to work not only on the innovation itself but also on educating potential customers. This research sets out an approach to market-making for entrepreneurs in certain complex markets.

Idea #286
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Pessimismo e Optimismo, 1923, by Italian futurist painter Giacomo Balla, 1871-1958 (Source:Wiki Paintings)

Integrated IT Outsourcing: Total Package or Total Chaos?

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

There’s a growing trend in IT outsourcing towards integrated solutions. Clients no longer want to buy service components separately from multiple vendors: they want the ‘total package’ from a single provider. Integrated solutions, however, can be particularly challenging to implement, requiring intensive co-ordination by vendors. How can they be delivered on time — and to clients’ satisfaction? Recent qualitative research, looking at integrated IT services from the provider’s perspective, points to some answers. 

Idea #275
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First Choice Most Chosen

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Human beings may be biologically hardwired to prefer the first option presented to them, particularly if they have to make that choice quickly. Businesses can use this finding to tailor their marketing and other strategies to nudge customers towards a particular product or service. Recent research confirms the importance of being first and why this should inform point-of-sale, online, and other marketing messages.

Idea #267
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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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Four Ways CEOs Can Align Function Heads with Corporate Strategy

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Corporate functions often lack strategic direction from CEOs. As well as underperformance, this can also lead to many other issues, such as bureaucracy on the part of function heads. But according to this Idea, four simple changes to normal management processes can help to avoid this and align corporate strategies between CEOs and corporate functions.

Idea #274
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IP Management Strategies for Profiting from Business Model Innovation

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

How do companies protect their innovative business models from competitors? According to this Idea, intellectual property strategies are often utilized to do this, and depending on what type of company, formal or informal strategies can be the most appropriate. This research looks at four types of business model to analyze the role of IP management strategies in profitable business model innovation.

Idea #259
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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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  The Roman Forum, the commercial, cultural, and political centre of the Republic (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Centralized or Decentralized Decision Rights in Multinationals

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Certain company and country factors determine whether decisions should be centralized at parent company headquarters or decentralized to the foreign subsidiary. Ignoring those factors will hurt parent and subsidiary financial performance. And fixing the inappropriate decision-making structure could prove costly.

Idea #237
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U.S. Social Security Administration early accounting operations in Baltimore circa 1936 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Computer Says ‘Yes’ – The Impact of IT Investment

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Finance

The impact of information technology on an organization’s profitability can be significant but it needs to be strategically managed, from the top down. View your IT management as a corporate rather than a departmental issue.

The key message for today’s leaders is, choose the right kind of IT projects, spend your money wisely, and focus on growth over cost savings. 

Idea #219
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If the Price is Right: Charging for Online Content

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Publishers and media owners who provide sought-after online content can profit financially by charging for it – rather than relying on declining online advertising revenues. But it is crucial how a fee-based charging structure is implemented: charge too little and you are missing out on valuable subscription revenue; but charge too much – or for the wrong content – and you will lose viewers, further undermining advertising revenues. The key is for media companies to take a flexible approach, charging optimal fees for selected content

Idea #224
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All-consuming: Brand Management in the Digital Age

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: ESADE

Media fragmentation, globalization and expanding social networks are changing the way we view and follow brands. Leaders need to respond to these changes and challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to satisfying an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders in an ever more competitive environment. 

Idea #215
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Aircraft Workers on Lunch Break, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia)

Reenergizing Lunch Breaks and the Role of Autonomy

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour

Intuitively, a lunch break will give employees a chance to stop working and restore some energy for the rest of the day. New research, however, shows that not all lunch breaks are restorative. Indeed, it is not only what employees do during lunch but whether they had a choice in what they did that makes a difference. The researchers demonstrate that the less choice or ‘autonomy’ given to employees over their lunch breaks, the less rested or reenergized they will feel by the end of the workday.

Idea #208
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Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo,1982, written and directed by Werner Herzog, winner or the Best Director award at the 1982 Cannes film festival

Working Abroad: The Value of Experience

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Intuitively, experience reduces the chance of failure. An experienced manager will make fewer mistakes than the inexperienced manager. The same logic can be applied to international business activity: companies experienced in foreign markets are going to fail less frequently than companies without foreign experience.

New research shows, however, that this assumption is too simple. Previous experience in a foreign market helps if the company returns to that market. It also helps if the company ventures into a different foreign market, but only, the research shows, as long as the

Idea #205
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The Education of Alexander the Great by Aristotle, Charles Laplante, 1866 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aristotle, Ethics and the ‘Art’ of Leadership

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Aristotle’s ‘master virtue’ of phronesis, which combines ethics and action so that people can ‘live well’ and be happy, is often seen as the key to effective leadership. But it tends to be too narrowly defined. A re-reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics reveals that phronesis is linked not only to knowledge, skill, wisdom and intelligence but also to sensory perception, intuition and aesthetics. For Aristotle, doing the right thing partly depended on seeing and appreciating the fine thing. This raises important questions about how leaders reach their

Idea #202
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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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