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Herman Hollerith’s Electric Tabulator, US Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 1908, Photograph by Waldon Fawcett (Source: Library of Congress LC-USZ62-45687)

Big Data = Big Opportunities: If the CEO Takes the Lead

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

Big Data has recently gained lots of hype, prompting organizations to consider the best ways to utilize it. In this Idea, researchers suggest the responsibility lies not within IT departments, as is typically assumed; rather, CEOs need to take charge of understanding, exploring and exploiting the opportunities presented by Big Data.

Idea #175
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Man standing with his back to a crowd

Conquering Racism by Taking Personal Responsibility

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: HEC Paris

Increased sensitivity to the problem of racism is not, it seems, being matched by a willingness to take personal responsibility for it. We tend to excuse our own prejudices by blaming them on cultural and social conditioning. If more progress is to be made in the fight against racism, we need to take a more rational approach — and acknowledge that the extent to which we endorse prejudices is within our control.

Idea #168
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Nelson Mandela shakes hands with his predecessor Frederik de Klerk and at Davos, January 1992 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Learn to Forgive: Mandela’s Leadership Legacy

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

When we forgive we can change the future. This is one of the greatest lessons organizations can learn from transformational political leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Aung Suu Kyi. Resentment, bitterness and blame make us prisoners of the past and impede progress. In the workplace, we need to accept human fallibility — and encourage people to think of mistakes as learning opportunities. The wise leader — and the wise organization — forgives and learns

Idea #170
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Good and Evil (Courtesy Suzanne van Gils)

Instilling Morality In Organizations

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

The ethical climate of an organization is not solely a reflection of the personality and morality of the leader. It is also a product of relationships. The interplay between leaders and followers and co-workers can cause the aggregate level of morality in an organization to rise and fall. People are motivated — and demotivated — to do the right thing partly by their environment and those around them. To reduce moral failures in organizations, you have to understand the bigger picture of human interaction.

Idea #164
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Female Leader

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion with Respectful Leadership

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

Both anecdotal evidence and empirical research suggest that demographic differences can make it harder for leaders and followers to collaborate and cause levels of employee engagement to fall. The problems are greatest where male employees report to a female boss. Overcoming them depends on moral leadership. People who demonstrate respect for others can transcend demographic differences and combat prejudices. As the workforce becomes more diverse, moral and respectful leadership becomes an even bigger imperative for organizations. 

Idea #165
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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley with cadets at his retirement ceremony,  2008 (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Delaying Retirement Can Be Bad for the Brain

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

Changing demographics are forcing many countries to raise the retirement age. But this could increase the social and financial costs of ageing populations. Working for longer does not necessarily keep the mind active. In tests for cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between two different concepts and think about different things at the same time) the retired perform better than their employed counterparts.

Idea #166
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Crossing a crevasse in the Himalayas during the assault on Mt Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Photographer Alfred Gregory. (Source: Alfred Gregory: Photographs from Everest to Africa. Penguin Books, 2008, ISBN 978-1-920-98961-3)

Managing Risks: Culture Matters More Than Rules

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

Micro-regulation is not the most effective way to manage risks and improve services. The best guarantee of high standards is ethics-based risk control, underpinned by rules-based codes.

Formal risk management systems can encourage a box-ticking mentality, threaten internal and external relationships, and — in the literal sense of the word — demoralize people. The dangers are likely to be greatest where stakeholders have a strong emotional investment in self-regulation and ethics-based risk management.

Idea #160
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Belshazzar's Feast, Rembrandt van Rijn, c.1635-1638, National Gallery, London

CFOs Reborn as Agents of Organizational Change

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

After the financial crisis of 2009–10 and the subsequent global recession, CFOs have suddenly found themselves thrust under the spotlight like never before. They are no longer being seen merely as ‘chief number crunchers’ or even as senior accountants; organizations now want more out of their CFOs, and expect them to act as agents of ‘organizational change’. In this idea, some guidance is offered on how to effectively undertake such change management.

Idea #161
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Archers, engraved after a drawing by Adam Buck,1799 (Detail). (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Targets Not Quotas to Promote Women Leaders

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Awareness about the benefits of having more female representation on corporate boards seems to have hit an all time high, yet increases in numbers have been slow and have currently reached an impasse. When we talk about board diversity, the solutions given are in the form of either ‘targets’ or ‘quotas’. In this Idea, both are examined to show why quotas may not work as intended, and how targets instead can be designed to achieve the desired benefits of gender diversity. 

Idea #162
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CSR Tree

What Is the Real Value in CSR?

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Proponents of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) insist that companies will “do well by doing good.” Researchers from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, however, argue that the truth is more complicated. Their research confirms a positive association between current CSR expenditures and the future financial performance of the company. However, it is the signal that CSR spending sends to the market that explains this positive correlation — not the return on investment in CSR.

Idea #158
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Eihi Shiina in ‘Audition’, 1999, Japanese, Director: Takashi Miike, Distributor(s): American Cinematheque; Vitagraph Films

Psychopaths in the C-Suite: How to Avoid Them

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Not all psychopaths are destined for prison or secure psychiatric hospitals. There’s a subset of ‘psychopaths lite’ – and it includes the ‘seductive operational bully’ (SOB). Manipulative, unprincipled and devious, and often highly persuasive and articulate, SOBs are capable of rising to the top of organizations – and wreaking havoc while there. Stopping them depends on creating an ‘inhospitable’ environment – and taking a ‘clinical’ approach to organizational diagnosis and intervention.

Idea #156
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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of a fresco by Raphael (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Character - The Unspoken Essence of Leadership

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

In assessing leaders at any level in an organization, three questions are asked:

  1. Do they have the competencies to be a leader?
  2. Do they have the commitment to be a leader?
  3. Do they have the character to be a good leader?

This Idea focuses on leadership character because it is the most difficult to define, measure, assess and develop. Its aim is to define those dimensions of leadership character that are most important in today’s business environment and suggest how character can be developed.

Idea #157
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Quattro Santi Coronati, marble sculpture by Nanni di Banco (1375 -1420), Florence

The Four Orientations of Responsible Leaders

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: ESADE

This Idea will help you understand how responsible leadership (RL) can enhance your personal reputation, your company’s reputation, and help strengthen those bonds with the society you serve. Furthermore, we will explore how to regard RL as a central feature of how you do business.

Idea #145
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The Tax Collector, Marinus van Reymerswaele, 1542, Alte Pinakothek Museum,  Munich

Rewards that Motivate More than Money

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

Non-financial rewards such as career-development opportunities and challenges and responsibilities have a much greater impact on staff motivation than salary and benefits. Cash and bonuses and a fair and transparent policy on pay are important to employees – so, too, are flexible benefits. But organizations need to take a ‘holistic’ view of compensation and think in terms of the ‘total rewards package’. Very few people are motivated solely by money.

Idea #146
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Silhouette of a businessman pointing to a projected graph at a presentation

Reporting Risk When Reporting Performance to the Board

Idea posted: May 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

As the board of directors is ultimately responsible for a company’s success or failure, board members should be adequately informed not only about the company’s financial performance but about the full gamut of risks that may impact the company’s prospects and results and influence future strategy.

Idea #150
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Think difference

How Social Intrapreneurs Get Heard

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: INSEAD

Corporate social entrepreneurship initiatives, usually the work of intrapreneurs (entrepreneurial executives within the corporation) keen to solve social problems, have important macro- and micro-economic implications. They create value for people who are not current stakeholders - and they create opportunities to innovate and diversify. There are, however, barriers to their development. A model that counters the conventional logic of the organization and puts financial sustainability before growth could be the solution.

Idea #151
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Hulls Mills, Eric Ravillious c.1936, Source: Merivale Editions, www.merivaleeditions.com

Green Light for Governance

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
Institutions: IE Business School

We live in a society that scrutinizes the environmental activities of the corporate world. How can companies address society’s concerns and improve levels of environmental performance, while maintaining market share and financial returns? The answer could lie in their corporate governance structure.

Idea #138
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Forced Entry

When Successful Managers Go off the Rails

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

Managers who are solidly established in their organizations and boast impressive track records can suddenly find their careers ‘derailed.’ They no longer have the skills, mindset, personality or reputation that made them effective leaders in the past; eventually they are demoted, fired or asked to take early retirement. New research from the Center of Creative Leadership confirms the causes of such derailment and also identifies what managers and companies can do today to prevent situations that are not only devastating to the individuals but also costly to their organizations.

Idea #136
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The Fall of Man, Hendrik Goltzius, 1616 (Source: Wikimedia)

Gender and the Use of Deception in Negotiation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Various factors affect the use of deception during negotiations. Could gender be one of them? Research suggests that men either deceive or do not deceive regardless of the other party’s strategy, whereas the probability that female negotiators will use deception varies according to their belief they will be ‘caught out’ by the party they are trying to deceive and their perception of the other party’s trustworthiness.

Idea #134
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New recruits to the British Army, First World War, Nicholls Horace, © Imperial War Museum (Q 30060)

Onboarding New Employees Successfully

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

Employee turnover can be expensive and time-consuming, so organizations need to know how to get the most from and retain the valuable new additions they make. According to recent research, the secret lies in promoting self-expression and encouraging newcomers to bring their unique values and perspectives to the job. Most importantly, this should be done from the first day through a process known as ‘onboarding’. This Idea offers some practical advice on managing the process.

Idea #135
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ENRON's Kenneth Lay CEO and Jeffery Skilling CFO, The Houston Chronicle

CEO Connectedness Can Facilitate Fraud

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

CEOs have not only explicit legal authority but also substantial ‘soft’ influence (based on relationships, for example) over what happens in the company. This influence extends to wrongdoing, as revealed in new research by University of Michigan Ross School of Business finance professor E. Han Kim and University of Michigan Law School professor Vikramaditya Khanna. According to Kim and Khanna, CEOs who appoint their top lieutenants (thus increasing their soft influence) are more likely to commit fraud. Their research also shows that fraud is less likely to be discovered when CEOs are ‘

Idea #128
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Some Have Entertained Angels Unawares, Edward Clifford (1844-1907) (Source: Wikimedia)

Creating Harmony: Harnessing Stakeholders to Boost Innovation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: Henley Business School

Collaborative innovation and co-creation between stakeholders can deliver value for businesses.

Collaborative innovation can be defined as: “Working with others, sharing knowledge and learning, and building consensus to invent something new or create a new way of doing something, with a view to realizing shared goals.”

Benefits include more – and better – ideas, reduced risk, increased quality and speed to market, reduced costs, new skills and resources, an enhanced brand, and the ability to create value for the common good.

Idea #122
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Australian Recruitment Poster, World War 2 (Source: Wikimedia)

Leveraging Cyclical Unemployment for a Stronger Workforce

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

What can we learn from an analysis of the compositional changes in the pool of unemployed over the years? This Idea demonstrates that during recessions, the pool of unemployed shifts disproportionately towards workers with high wages. Unfortunately for the companies letting them go, these are usually also the most productive employees too, but for savvy HR executives that are able to hire them, it could mean great additions to their organization’s workforce.

Idea #094
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Costume Partee

Unseen Dangers of Positive Stereotyping

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Executives and human resource managers are always on the lookout for demeaning language and negative stereotyping, realizing that any pejorative phrase tinged with racist or other discriminatory connotation is offensive, creates a hostile work environment, undermines the culture of the company, and can eventually lead to expensive litigation.

But what of supposedly ‘inoffensive’ positive stereotypes — joking, for instance, that blacks are more athletic (an all-too common example)? Research by professor Aaron Kay of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business reveals that positive

Idea #116
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Financial Literacy to Get Women on Board

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

What competencies must be displayed by individuals aiming for board-level positions? Traditionally, the answer to this question would include things like knowledge, motivation and networks. While those are certainly still relevant, new research suggests a finance qualification, or background in finance, is also a key influence — especially when the candidate in question is female.

Idea #104
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Female Directors Create Corporate Sustainability

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Recent research and management thinking often stresses that diversity, especially gender diversity, is a critical factor in improving the quality of a company’s leadership and decision-making. But could it also impact the overall financial, environmental, and social impact of an organization as well?  

Idea #105
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Culture Club: Coaching by Values for Corporate Success

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: ESADE

How can leaders create the right corporate culture to confront the myriad levels of complexity in today’s turbulent business environment?

The emerging concept of ‘coaching by values’ (CBV) provides a flexible framework to help them reengineer their organization’s corporate culture and create positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Idea #106
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Harnessing Individual and Organization Networks

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

Leveraging employee networks can optimize individual and organizational performance and unearth hidden talent. Organizations teem with informal employee networks. Awareness of these living networks, and an understanding of how collaborations take place between top performers, can be a great, effective tool for overall success. To do so, managers must understand both the structure of talent networks within their company, and the categories their employees fall into. 

Idea #017
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Principles of Competitive Global Talent Management

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

Companies must use talent management to build and sustain a talented workforce. Recruit, develop, deploy and retain the right people; these are the core aims of a successful global talent management strategy. Rather than follow untailored ‘best practices’ to do that, a company can subscribe to six outline principles that are consistent with the organization’s overall strategy and culture.

Idea #018
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Chinese Office Worker, 2010, Jakob Montrasio (Source: Wikimedia)

Ethics and Conflict Resolution in Chinese Firms

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

Inter-organizational conflicts can be extremely harmful. A study has revealed how Chinese firms manage and reduce their inter-organizational conflict. Ethical leadership plays a vital role in Chinese business culture, and as this study illustrates, it helps them foster more cooperative relationships – and those are the key to less inter-organizational conflict.

Idea #025
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