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Sustainable People Policies for Sustainable Organizations

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

Are human sustainability policies any less vital for a 21st Century organization than environmental ones? While the surface effects may not be so obvious, the impact on society can be huge. As pace-setting companies and cultures re-optimise toward ‘higher order fundamentals’ like human prosperity; well-being, happiness, satisfaction – employee health becomes a crucial conversation to have.

Idea #010
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Liberating Knowledge in the Organization

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

It is a universal challenge for large organizations: the larger and more segmented the company, the harder it is to match its people to its problem. This Idea looks at how internal ‘knowledge markets’ can facilitate information sharing within large organizations; helping employees locate expertise and matching knowledge seekers with knowledge sources.

Idea #020
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Man with special talents

Lean Thinking – Increased Innovation

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

Being Lean should not impact an organization’s innovative environment. In fact, freeing up resources can actually increase innovation. Lean thinking should be instilled in a company through leaders; however, middle-managers can also apply simple strategies to simulate creativity at all levels of the organization.

Idea #019
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Dark forest behind windows

When Growth Fails: Managing the Dark Side

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: IESE Business School

Fast growing businesses are susceptible to failures. To sustain the enterprise executives must know how to manage the aftermath of an organizational failure. Specifically, the authors point to mindset shifts that can improve leadership in volatile environments. These include: collaborating with critics, making sure everyone is on the same page, and above all remaining grounded in a strong set of personal values.

Idea #030
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Winston Churchill, 1941 (Source: Wikimedia)

Leadership Essentials: Diagnostics, Influence and Energy

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

There are three essential prerequisites - diagnostics, influence and energy - that would-be leaders must develop at the start of their managerial careers and maintain to become successful. This Idea describes these prerequisites and suggests five essential tools that managers can adopt to assist the development of diagnostics, influence and energy.

Idea #064
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Battle of the River Plate, 1956, Dir. Powell and Pressburger

Leadership Alignment and Strategy Implementation

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

It is essential for leaders to understand how to ensure strategic decisions are effectively implemented throughout their organizations. In this respect, leader effectiveness in the aggregate across different levels, as opposed to individual leadership actions, has the most significant effect. This Idea looks at the importance of leadership alignment in implementing strategy. 

Idea #032
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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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Satisfied customer

Failed CRM Initiatives and How to Avoid Them

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Customer relationship marketing (CRM) has become a big focus for companies in recent years, witnessing heavy investment in call centres, sophisticated database systems, online support services, etc. But despite these large-scale CRM investments, 55–75% of companies have failed to meet the expected returns. Why is this the case and, moving forward, how can managers ensure better results from their CRM initiatives?

Idea #099
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Hindustan Unilever's Shakti Programme

CSR: Creating Value through Partnerships

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: IMD

Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives have overcome the stigma of being a distraction; something to be suffered. Smart companies now recognise CSR as an opportunity to significantly strengthen their businesses – while building and renewing human, social and natural wealth. Finding the right partner is absolutely critical to the success of a CSR strategy; and there are steps that can be taken to ensure a partnership co-creates value for both business and society.

Idea #071
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Chrysalis to butterfly

Establishing Sustainable Change in Organizations

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

Leading through change is extremely difficult. Organizational culture is an ‘evolving organism’ made up of many sub-cultures and helping it to change is an incredibly complex task. While there are no hard-and-fast rules to change management, there are things we can do to increase the likelihood of a change initiative’s sustained success.

Idea #073
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‘Partners of Choice’ for an Agile Workforce

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

An alternative to traditional full-time employment relationships, ‘Partners of Choice’ are starting to form the basis of new, supremely agile organizations. This is a longer form of contracting relationships, based on trust and cherry-picking expertise - whilst still ensuring commitment and competence. Choosing, attracting, and managing the right partners then, is key to their success. 

Idea #075
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Shopping cart with green arrow

Embedding CSR and Sustainability: Marks & Spencer

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

Using Marks & Spencer as an example, there are certain practices other organizations can similarly apply to improve focus on corporate responsibility and sustainability. The UK retailer has made a number of successful moves towards embedding social and environmental awareness and practices into its everyday strategic vision. In this Idea, these are analyzed and discussed, offering companies tips they can similarly apply.

Idea #039
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Leveraging DNA to Survive in Hostile Business Environments

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Developing strategies and capabilities to cope in hostile business environments is a must for today’s managers. In this way, nature and the animal kingdom offer a number of solutions. The coping strategies of animals like lions, seagulls, sharks and bears have evolved over billions of years and can be adopted by managers too; these can be summarized as fight, flight, search and sleep, and are discussed further in this Idea. 

Idea #047
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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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Jump Before You’re Pushed: The Companies That Change Without Pressure

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Do companies need a financial trauma to provoke them into change, or can they adopt new ways of doing things when not under pressure? The history of successful organizations shows us that decline, while perhaps not inevitable, is at least likely. And yet few companies opt willingly to change strategy without being forced to. There are some companies, however, that do - and we can learn a lot from them as this Idea shows.

Idea #051
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Andy Murray, 2012 Olympics Gold Medalist (Source: Wikimedia)

Understanding High-Stakes High-Performers

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

How leaders perform when the stakes are very high or when they confront unusually high pressure depends on similar ‘critical abilities’ to the tennis players. Using data from the US Open professional tennis tournament, ‘critical abilities under pressure’ are examined to demonstrate that - what we might also refer to as ‘courage under fire’ - has a major impact on a player’s career success. Applied to the world of business this research helps us understand how leaders are likely to perform when the stakes are very high.

Idea #033
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Untersuchungen am Mikroskop im Labor, 1952, Deutsche Fotothek (Source: Wikimedia)

Building Trust to Retain Female Employees

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

There is a key issue that organizations must tackle in order to retain female employees: trust. Evidence shows that women are more sensitive to and more aware of - both trust and distrust. In order to retain female talent, leaders must build trust between themselves and their employees, and there are specific behaviours and strategies that can help them do that.

Idea #012
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Keeping Employee Engagement High in Tough Times

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

During a downturn, employee engagement increases rather than decreases. However, employers should implement strategies to keep engagement high so the reverse does not occur when economic conditions eventually improve.

Idea #013
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Pericles, The First Citizen of Athens, c. 495 – 429 BC

Aligning the Organization to Let Leadership Happen

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

Good leadership is the result of ‘shared work’, and shared work is achieved through a process of direction, alignment and commitment in an organization. Creating positive leadership is really about these factors, rather than about adopting a set of ideal characteristics. All members of an organization have a role in making leadership happen.

Idea #014
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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (anon. medieval)

How Evolving C-Suite Structures Affect Performance

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

The size and structure of C-Suites has changed significantly over the past few decades. An examination of these changes reveals a number of shifts, including one towards more product-focused (or front-end) functional managers in organizations with closely-related business units, and an increase in administrative positions where organizations invest more in IT. These findings also have an impact on general managers’ salaries. Here’s why executives should pay attention to these shifts when structuring their top teams.

Idea #082
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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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Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze, 1851

Resolute Leadership, Coordination and Corporate Culture

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

Resoluteness is often a term used to describe people in battle, moving forward in an unwavering, purposeful way. Now, research indicates that this trait is useful in an organizational setting too; resolute leaders are better equipped to coordinate their followers’ actions, and build high-performance teams. Conviction or resoluteness enhance a leader's credibility. However, resoluteness can also inhibit bottom-up information flow. So a balance is needed.

Idea #087
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Building Knowledge Sharing Networks in Organizations

Idea posted: February 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IESE Business School

When it comes to innovation, what works better: formal organizational structures or informal network ties between employees? According to this Idea, which stresses the strength of social ties as having important implications for knowledge sharing, it is the latter. Organizations can improve their knowledge sharing by following a few core strategies. Ultimately, this may also facilitate better conditions for innovation as well, invaluable in today’s competitive business environment.

Idea #089
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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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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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Donkey and overloaded cart, India 2008 (Source: flickr.com)

Why Scaling Up Is No Longer the Only Strategy

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Traditionally, industrial production has moved in only one direction: from small to large. ‘Scaling up’ was the best way to maximize productivity and lower per-unit costs. A fleet of 100 ten-ton dump trucks requires more drivers than a fleet of 10 hundred-ton dump trucks. But automation and communication technology has evolved to the point where a large number of small units may be cheaper, better and more efficient than a small number of large units.

Idea #107
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The Conjurer, Hieronymus Bosch, c.1475, Musée Municipal, St. Germain-en-Laye (Source: Wikimedia)

Custom-made: Customer Funding for Business Growth

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: London Business School

Venture capital (VC) is the default route to gaining funding for a growing business. But there are other ways to unlock money, indeed, some of the largest and most successful companies never raise any venture capital. Change your approach to growth by focusing on your customers, not investors, as your means to the end.

Idea #110
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Marriage à la Mode, William Hogarth, 1743-1745, National Gallery London (Source: Wikimedia)

Socially Aware, Media Savvy: Social Media Strategy

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
Institutions: Henley Business School

Social media offers both great opportunities, and also challenges, to businesses. For those that embrace social media – by adopting the right strategy – risks can be averted and rewards unlocked. Using a simple framework to create an effective strategy for social media can enable your company to enjoy its benefits.

Idea #111
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The Impact of Technology and Social Media on Sales Relationships

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Technology, and especially social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, has fuelled an ‘always on’ culture. The pervasiveness of social media is fundamentally altering the methods through which buyers and sellers interact — salespeople feel obliged to respond immediately to communications from anywhere in the world, at whatever time. Potentially there is a revolutionary change in the way contemporary selling is conducted, driven in large measure by social media technology.

Idea #112
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What to Learn from Pirates

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Pirate companies may be viewed by ‘legitimate’ business as cheaters and rogues, but research by Professor Jean-Philippe Vergne of the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario shows that pirates are often innovators who fill gaps or create new business models that better fit the current and future challenges of an industry.

Idea #114
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