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Creating a High Integrity Corporate Culture

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

At what point do employees realize, if at all, that they are making an inappropriate decision? And what interventions are available to help ensure they make the right ones? When employees fail to act with a strong sense of integrity, there are conscious and unconscious factors at play. Leaders should be aware of these in order to create and sustain a corporate culture where doing the right thing becomes second nature.

Idea #058
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Blacksmith, India, C19th, British Museum

Leadership Tools: Magnet to Pull, Hammer to Drive

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IESE Business School

Theorists often speak of management ‘tools’ when discussing resources. This Idea explores how successful leadership is based on two tools from the tool-shed, the magnet and the hammer, and shows how, with an understanding of why and when to use these tools, managers can effectively lead their teams through challenging circumstances.

Idea #009
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Red flag on the beah

Avoiding Bad Decisions: ‘Red Flags’ and Reflection

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

Decision-making can be understood better with an awareness of the brain processes involved in it. There are certain ‘red flag’ conditions that can lead to distortions in judgement, in turn leading to bad decisions being made. The authors provide examples of where this has been the case, and highlight safeguards that can be adopted to avoid them.

Idea #028
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Man jumping cliff

Avoiding Flawed Decisions: A Finance Manager's Role

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

Finance executives are particularly well-positioned to help organizations improve their decision-making and introduce more rational decisions-making processes. In particular they are in a position to help management teams learn to identify ‘red flags’ and adopt extra safeguards against them. 

Idea #037
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‘Red Dwarf - Series II’, starring Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat). First broadcast in 1988, Red Dwarf was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor and ran on BBC2 for eight series. In 2009, the show was brought back for a three-part special by UK digital broadcaster Dave © 2013 Grant Naylor Productions (Source: www.reddwarf.co.uk)

Better and Fairer Management Control Systems

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IESE Business School

Management control systems can be formal and/ or informal, fair or unfair. In order to achieve an organizations overall goals, the best systems are fair and formal, with the users of the system also fair. The opposite, an unfair system with unfair users (i.e. two unstable states) leads to total goal incongruence – a not unusual state which can be very damaging to any organization.

Idea #061
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Signing the contract

Narcissistic CEOs – A Signature for Poor Performance

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

Have you ever worked for a bit of a self-obsessed boss? You weren’t imagining it; corporate narcissism is an actual and not unusual phenomenon. It can even eventually diminish firm performance and is therefore something to look out for. Now, research suggests that the size of a CEO’s signature may give a clue as to how big their ego is. 

Idea #080
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WH Situation Room, 2010 (Source: Wikimedia)

Crisis As Opportunity: Leadership, Change and Renewal

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Arguably the greatest gift we can glean from a crisis is an improvement in our ability to see the next one coming, to prevent it coming if possible, and to lead our organization successfully through that next crisis situation. We learn Crisis Leadership. This is essential: crises are inevitable. Similarly, there are essential characteristics and skills required to navigate them, and to ensure your organization not only survives but emerges from the crisis better off.

Idea #078
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Man with light bulb

How Evidence-Based Management Reduces Entrepreneurial Risk

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Despite the fact that many talented individuals put hard work and diligence into new start-ups, why do high failure rates still exist? This Idea proposes that evidence-based management could help with this, reducing risks, costs, and wasted time and effort. However, the mindset-shift required to implement this approach is significant; as such, not many leaders adopt it, even though the risk of failure could be demonstrably reduced and vast sums of money saved.

Idea #036
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To Centralize or Not to Centralize?

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour

The decision as to whether or not to centralize can be a difficult one for CEOs. This Idea suggests that three critical questions can provoke thoughtful debate and help teams make better choices: 1) is it mandated?; 2) does is add significant value?; and 3) are the risks low? No to all three questions would signal to a decision-maker not to centralize, whereas yes to even one can justify centralization.

Idea #049
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Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life, 1913, Mack Sennett & Mabel Normand

Matching Decisions to Decision-Makers: via Our Testosterone Levels

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

Hormones can play a role in decision-making, particularly testosterone, which when present in high levels can lead to more utilitarian decisions being made. In a study where participants were made to answer philosophical questions involving morality, high-testosterone individuals were consistently more willing to endorse a difficult decision, if there was some ‘greater good’ involved. On the other hand, this made them more likely to violate a moral norm in doing so. So can we match decisions to decision-makers based on an individual’s chemical make-up?

Idea #043
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Samurai at a Waterfall, 19th Century Japanese Woodblock Print, Fuji Arts

Grapes of Wrath: How Self Control Leads to Anger

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Does making a healthy food choice make us angry? In an important piece of consumer research, a relationship is found to exist between exerting self-control, and a preference toward ‘themes of anger’ in e.g. entertainment. This mismatch - getting irritated by our own self-control - has far-reaching implications for marketers and policy-makers as we try to further understand consumer behaviour.

Idea #034
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Running Along the Beach, Joaquin Sorolla, 1908 (Source: Wikipaintings)

Vitality, Learning and Sustainable Performance

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

Happy employees produce more than unhappy ones; they show up at work routinely, they are less likely to quit, they go above and beyond the call of duty, and they attract people who are just as committed to the job as they are. This Idea looks at what steps we can take as managers to help employees thrive at work, to be a happy and consistently high-performing workforce that is more loyal and more productive for the organization. 

Idea #024
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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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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939, Dir. Alfred L. Werker

Evidence, Facts and Intuition in Decision Making

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

One of the ways we strive to make a good decision is through evidence-based decision-making. Just as often though, and sometimes without realizing it, managers are fitting the evidence to the decision they’ve already made in fact ‘decision-based evidence making’. A clear understanding of the roles evidence can play in making a decision can help avoid this. Although, as explained in this Idea, there are certain times when this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes evidence-based decision-making is less appropriate than decision-based evidence making.

Idea #021
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Leading Complex Projects through Collaboration

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

Pooling the ideas, resources, commitment and efforts of many is more effective than relying on the few best individuals in an organization. Here, the example of CERN and their successful collaborative model of project management is used to illustrate the ways to lead through collaboration and harmony - collaborative leadership lessons from CERN: the world’s largest physics experiment.

Idea #022
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DIANA, the first computer built by Norwegian pioneer  Jens Glad Balchen at the Department of Engineering Cybernetics, NTNU in mid 1950s (Source: NTNU)

Human Judgement Vs Computer Aided Forecasting

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Is your company about to launch a new product or service into the market? If so, you know how crucial it is to predict as accurately as possible how it will be received; otherwise, you are putting at risk precious time and resources engaged. According to this Idea, there is a way to make an intelligent forecast that involves a combination of human and computer judgement. Faculty from Judge Business School and IE Business School explain how.

Idea #139
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The ladies' egg & spoon race, Picklescott Village Fete & Sports Day 1963 (Source: Picklescott.org.uk)

Motivation by Last Place Aversion

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Nobody wants to fail, and being in last place is the worst of failures. New research reveals, however, that the aversion to last place is a powerful driving factor in many decisions, which might offer unexpected opportunities for business.

Idea #155
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The German delegation at the Treaty of Versailles, 1919 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Conducting Better Meetings - Can Data Help?

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

The science of meetings — which includes collecting sophisticated data that analyzes meetings word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase — is still in its infancy. Researchers from MIT, however, used an available database with a myriad of data to reach some tentative conclusions about different facets of meetings, from calculating average ‘wrap-up’ times once a decision is reached to identifying the most persuasive words used in meetings. They were even able to use language analysis to identify when participants in a meeting were about to make a decision

Idea #182
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Officer cadets from Serbia's Military Academy, Belgrade, Serbia, 2010 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Social Influences on Decision-Making: Neuroscience Insights

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

Decision-making is often strongly influenced by social factors, and research in the nascent field of neuroeconomics (which crosses the disciplines of psychology, marketing, economics and neuroscience) is helping to explain why. ‘In-group conformity’ is mediated by signals in the brain associated with emotion and reward and can be stimulated by the so-called ‘love hormone’, oxytocin. Neurobiological insights like these raise important questions for strategy design — in both the private and public sectors. 

Idea #184
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King Lear, a UK TV film version, 2008, starring Sir Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, Romola Garai, Jonathan Hyde and Sylvester McCoy; directed by Sir Tevor Nunn and produced by Paul Wheeler for Channel 4

When Allowing Decision Latitude Can Backfire

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

The best leaders today avoid micromanaging their employees, recognizing that giving employees job autonomy and decision latitude — allowing employees to make decisions concerning their work — will result in greater motivation and better performance. New research, however, shows that too much decision latitude can backfire. Instead of being viewed as effective and conscientious leaders, the research shows managers who give their employees too much discretion and freedom in decisions and managing their work will be viewed as not being conscientious about their work.

Idea #212
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A scene from 'Iphigenia in Tauris' by Euripides. Roman fresco in Pompeii (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Decision-Making With Emotional Intelligence

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decisions, especially decisions involving risk, are often guided by emotions, such as anxiety, that in fact emerge from completely unrelated events. Emotionally intelligent leaders are less likely to make a mistake with “incidental” anxiety because they recognize the irrelevant source of their emotions. Leaders can also help others reduce the impact of incidental anxiety by simply pointing out the true source of their emotions.

Idea #217
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Beating Bias through Mindfulness Meditation

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Mindfulness meditation, the practice of clearing one’s mind of all other thoughts but the ‘present moment’, partly by focusing on the physical sensation of breathing, has long been associated with personal feelings of ‘wellbeing’ and positivity. But it has wider, more practical, benefits. New research suggests that leaders who use the technique are more likely to be resistant to the decision-making curse of ‘sunk cost bias’ — and, consequently, more likely to create value.

Idea #225
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The Meeting, Ester Almqvist, 1929, (Source: The Swedish National Museum. Wikimedia Commons)

Leadership Ensembles: 4 Blueprints for Senior Decision-Making

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

The ‘Lone Ranger’ style of senior leader decision-making is a thing of the past; most organizations now bring together groups of leaders (‘ensembles’) for input into different types of decision-making. This Idea identifies approaches for these ensembles to follow in order to make the most successful choices and reach the best decisions when they come together.

Idea #229
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Money for Nothing: The Truth About Investment Consultants

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

Widely used by retirement plan sponsors and pension fund trustees, investment consultants advise on institutional assets worth trillions of dollars. But their influence is not matched by their performance. New research finds no evidence that they add value to plan sponsors — or provide higher returns for pension scheme investors.

Idea #230
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Using Adaptive Decision-Making in Customer Management

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

How do managers make decisions related to customer relationship management? This Idea looks at research that shows that the majority of managers are adaptive in their decision-making, and those that demonstrate the highest accuracy in their decisions also employ “fast and frugal heuristics” – i.e. rather than using careful analysis of information, they use experience-based techniques for problem solving.

Idea #241
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BOAC advertisement (detail), 1946. BOAC was a British airline, which merged with BEA in 1974 to form British Airways.

Top flight talent? The Value of International Assignments

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

What are the factors – at both an individual level and a corporate level – that affect the relationship between international assignment experience and career advancement? Research suggests it is not as easy for leaders to rise to the top if they have been away from head office for too long.

Idea #244
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King John signs the Magna Carta, engraving by James William Edmund Doyle, 1864 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Corporate Governance from the Bottom Up

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Non-executive directors are often seen as a way to avoid corporate ‘buccaneering’ and tame reckless CEOs. Their exact contribution to companies, however, remains unclear. Independent executives, on the other hand, have been shown to be accurate ‘predictors’ of profitability, performance and value creation.

Internal monitoring by the CEO's immediate subordinates should be the new area of focus in the corporate governance debate.

Idea #299
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Seminal Californian rock group The Mothers of Invention, Netherlands, 1968 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mothers of Invention: Companies that ‘Spawn’ New Enterprises

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies don’t try very hard to retain innovative employees who want to set up their own enterprises to develop ‘spin-off’ products. At first sight, this might seem like an unwise decision: when the employee leaves, commercial opportunities leave with them, and a new competitor ‘arrives’. There are circumstances, however, when ‘entrepreneurial spawning’ is preferable to exploiting ideas internally. Much depends on the fit between the ‘mother’ organization and the products under development.

Idea #318
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How Price, Time and Functionality Affect Customers' Choices

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

New research shows that when purchases are time-sensitive — buying a camera the day before leaving for vacation, for example — consumers tend to look for convenient, easier-to-use products. But in the long term, consumers are more interested in desirable product features. According to the research, reminding consumers of a product’s price will help them focus, even in the short term, on what they truly value: functionality over convenience.

Idea #338
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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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