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Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and the Apple 1 PC

Creating Innovative Business Models

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Choices organizations make about their business model often go unchallenged for a very long time. This is an underutilized source of future value. As an alternative or complement to product and process innovation - business model innovation can be where the greatest benefits lie. With that in mind, and before launching a new business model, managers should ask themselves the six key questions outlined in this Idea.

Idea #048
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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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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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Woman and Man Contemplating the Moon, David Caspar Friedrich, c.1818-1824, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation: Seeing the Wood for the Trees

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Popular process management activities such as total quality management (TQM) facilitate incremental innovation but impede exploratory innovation. If a firm’s capacity for innovation is rooted in its ability to explore new areas – perhaps making groundbreaking discoveries – as well as exploiting existing capabilities, then process management activities must be separated from efforts to generate completely new ideas. 

Idea #268
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WAAF plotters at work in the Operations Room at No. 11 Group HQ at Uxbridge in Middlesex, 1942 (Courtesy: Imperial War Museum, London) Copyright?

Reallocating Resources to Realize Strategic Goals

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Does your organization keep allocating the same resources to the same business units year after year? Such inertia makes it difficult to realize strategic goals and ultimately undermines performance and profitability. The answer is to regularly adjust resource allocation, but, according to this Idea, failure to pursue active reallocation policies is due to multiple causes.

Idea #342
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Better Error Management Can Foster Innovation and Learning

Idea posted: August 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Not only can people learn from errors, but errors are an important part of the innovation process. However errors can have significant costs and the fear of the negative aspects of error can lead to an exclusive focus on prevention policies. Recent research emphasises the need for companies to embed within their culture ways to reduce the negative consequences of errors and enhance the positive through effective error management.

Idea #545
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Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich: the Sister, by Edward Ardizzone,1941 (Courtesy: The Imperial War Museum, London)

The Overlooked Productivity Costs of Collaboration

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

While management theorists and business leaders trumpet knowledge sharing and other advantages of collaboration, new research shows that workforce collaboration also comes with ‘spillover’ time-related costs that hurt productivity. These costs, however, can be managed.  

Idea #552
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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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Toyota factory in Ohira, near Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Lean Manufacturing More Effective in Collectivist Cultures

Idea posted: August 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Lean manufacturing practices are more effective in countries and companies that have more collectivist or group cultures than individualist cultures. In addition, nation trumps organization: a plant’s collectivist organizational culture will not overcome the individualistic culture of the country in which it is located.

Idea #616
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Naremon Thepchai Theatre production of Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman', 1971(Source: Wikimedia Commons)|

Do Your Managers’ Responses to Market Results Damage Profits?

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Self-serving biases can lead managers to make less than optimal decisions when faced with poor results. This can hurt profits as their biases lead to the wrong quality and price responses to market results. However, forward looking executives can take steps to pre-emptively counter those biases when they make their initial price and quality improvement decisions.

Idea #423
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Organizational Structure  of the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg Chronicles, by Hartmann Schedel, 1493

How to Design Organizational Structures by Understanding Organizational Routines

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The characteristics of an organization’s routines — specifically their purpose (operational or dynamic) and whether or not they are specific to individual business units — help define the most effective structure for that organization. 

Idea #451
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The Tribuna of the Uffizi (detail), Johann Zoffany, circa 1772-1778, The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle

What to Get Right when Crowdsourcing

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Social media channels have enabled organizations such as Dell, Starbucks, and NASA to successfully reach out to external contributors to collect suggestions, which have in turn stimulated innovation. This research, however, shows that most initiatives to source external contributions fail and that organizations seeking external ideas need to proceed with care and establish proactive processes to avoid potential pitfalls.

Idea #455
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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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