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Communication and the Science of Great Team Building

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

There is an ineffable buzz about a good team at work. You can just sense it. Understandings between team members seem effortless, sometimes almost telepathic. The attainment of this serene team cohesion is often discussed in terms of ‘art’ rather than something we can look at through the prism of science. But what if that buzz were something that could actually be taught to a team? This Idea shows just how it can.

Idea #050
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Last Call for Social Media Sceptics

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

Social media sceptics have all but scurried back into the woodwork. The game is up and the die cast: social media is here to stay. Each week the ‘fad’ seems to blow open a new way of doing things in a different industry; democratizing our flow of ideas even further. The scope of opportunity for science, art, and business here – seems infinite. But what role can leadership play to facilitate those opportunities and create value for their organizations?

Idea #062
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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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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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Black Eyed Peas during Walmart Shareholders' Meeting 2011 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Diversity in Teams: Tasks, Not Relationships Drive Performance

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Leadership & Change

Diversity is a catalyst to creativity and better decision-making, but is considered to have a downside in terms of relationships: there is less of a ‘bond’ or a connection among members of a diverse team. Researchers now claim that this supposed downside is actually the central mechanism that improves the performance of diverse teams; focusing less time on the relationship, team members — especially in pre-meeting preparation — focus more on the task at hand. 

Idea #322
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Online Customers Reviews: Loyalty and Deception

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Marketing

While it might seem easy for competitors to hurt a rival’s sales by posting negative reviews, research reveals that many of the most negative product reviews are written by loyal customers trying to influence company strategy. 

Idea #356
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Adapt Your Choice of Product-Related Services to the Industry Life Cycle

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Different types of services — from ‘complementary smoothing’ services such as maintenance support to ‘substituting’ services such as leasing arrangements — can be more or less effective depending on the current phase (early ferment, middle transition, or late mature) in the life cycle of the product’s industry.

Idea #531
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Coffee Break ad from Life Magazine, featuring Gracie Allen and George Burns, 1953 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Slack Time Is Important for Innovation: It’s Not What You Think

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

New research shows that innovation efforts benefit from giving employees free time (aka ‘slack time’), but not for the reason you might believe. While Google’s free time initiative might have led to creative new ideas, the real benefit of slack time is to allow innovators to get the administrative and other execution-oriented tasks done.

Idea #558
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The Architect’s Dream, Thomas Cole, 1840 (Courtesy: Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, USA)

How Successful Megaprojects Are Games of Innovation

Idea posted: March 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Megaprojects are not so much linear constructions of grand designs, but more a ‘game’ of innovation between players slowly ‘shaping,’ through a series of episodes, the project over time.

Idea #587
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Plastic face protection from snowstorms. Canada, 1939 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Great New Products Fail

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Many excellent new products fail because companies fail to understand how customers make their purchasing decisions. Specifically, customers decide what they want to buy based on one of two things: their search for new information or the inferences they make based on the information they have. Great new products fail when through their searches or inferences, customers fail to recognize their value.

Idea #601
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Grand Parade (mosaic) Fernand Léger, 1958, National Gallery of Victoria

Meritocracy at Work: Well-Intention Systems Can Cause the Reverse

Idea posted: August 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

If managers believe, because of formal performance evaluation and compensation systems, that their organization is meritocratic, they are ironically more likely to engage in less meritocratic behaviour. Researcher Emilio J. Castilla of MIT’s Sloan School of management calls this “the paradox of meritocracy.”

Idea #620
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Aligning Your Organization for the Digital Future

Idea posted: October 2016
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

A global survey of executive and managers reveals that many companies are ill prepared for the disruption that digital trends will bring to their organizations and industries. A minority of ‘digitally matured’ companies, however, are making the required cultural, talent management and strategic changes.

Idea #633
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Electronics factory in Shenzhen, China, 2005 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Outsourcing Vs Reshoring: The Case for Local Manufacture

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

Companies offshore their manufacturing to take advantage of lower wages and other cost savings in overseas countries. However, costs incurred from having an extended supply chain may in fact be wiping out the savings from offshoring advantages. MIT Sloan visiting professor Suzanne de Treville believes that one can make a financial case for reshoring manufacturing.

Idea #429
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Markdown Vs Everyday-Low-Prices: The Impact of Regret and Availability Misperceptions

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

The behavioural motives of consumers — such as regret over buying too soon or too late and misperceptions about the product’s future availability — should be considered as companies develop their optimal pricing and inventory strategies.

Idea #453
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Dante Shows an Artist Some Unusual Clouds, by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1883

Six Imperatives for Companies to Embrace Cloud Computing

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Cloud computing can offer companies more cost-effective and agile IT capabilities than many traditional in-house IT services and functions. Based on an extensive study of a company successfully expanding its cloud computing capabilities, as well as on interviews with 45 other companies, a research team from the MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research lays out the imperatives that help companies prepare for and manage the shift to cloud computing.

Idea #465
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Peter Fonda rides a replica of the 'Captain America' Harley-Davidson used in Easy Rider (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Turn Your End-User Innovators Into R&D Partners

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

From self-customized motorcycles to modified software, end-users have the capabilities to develop and diffuse into their market their innovations. Producers have to choose whether to ignore these innovators or adapt their R&D processes to include them as partners.

Idea #513
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