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Five gantry cranes, built at ZPMC, destined for Hamburg, on the vessel Zhen Hua 20, 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A Lesson from China: Growth Is Not Eternal So Be Prepared

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) was a high-flying builder of large-scale container cranes whose decisions — such as lifetime guarantees on all parts and ambitious diversification — reflected a belief that growth would last forever. It didn’t.

Idea #495
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Composition VI, Wassily Kandinsky, 1913 (Courtesy: The State Hemitage Museum, St Petersburg)

A Symphony of Agency and Stewardship Values Ensures Family Business Success

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Agency theory describes a contractual relationship between managers and shareholders who have divergent interests. Stewardship theory describes a collaborative relationship between managers and shareholders toward shared goals. Which works best for family businesses? New research reveals that a combination of the two, changing as the business moves through its lifecycle, offers the best recipe for success. 

Idea #518
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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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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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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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All-consuming: Brand Management in the Digital Age

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: ESADE

Media fragmentation, globalization and expanding social networks are changing the way we view and follow brands. Leaders need to respond to these changes and challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to satisfying an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders in an ever more competitive environment. 

Idea #215
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The Education of Alexander the Great by Aristotle, Charles Laplante, 1866 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aristotle, Ethics and the ‘Art’ of Leadership

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

Aristotle’s ‘master virtue’ of phronesis, which combines ethics and action so that people can ‘live well’ and be happy, is often seen as the key to effective leadership. But it tends to be too narrowly defined. A re-reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics reveals that phronesis is linked not only to knowledge, skill, wisdom and intelligence but also to sensory perception, intuition and aesthetics. For Aristotle, doing the right thing partly depended on seeing and appreciating the fine thing. This raises important questions about how leaders reach their

Idea #202
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Photo by rawpixels on Pexels

B2B Companies Far Behind on Social Media Strategies

Idea posted: August 2019
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

While for B2C companies, using social media to acquire and exchange knowledge with customers and internally is all the rage, new research reveals that many B2B companies fail to see the potential of social media – and even when some managers see the potential, the company fails to provide support for social media initiatives.

Idea #747
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Jean Charles de Menezes, memorial plaque at Stockwell Station, London (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Framing Leads to Bad Decisions and Bad (Even Fatal) Actions

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision makers must frame or ‘make sense’ of events and situations, and then make their decisions accordingly. A groundbreaking analysis of an innocent civilian’s tragic shooting by anti-terrorist police reveals how groups of individuals commit, through the interaction of communication, emotions and material cues, to a single, common frame — in this case an erroneous frame. It is a cautionary tale for leaders and other decision makers, exposing how errors or assumptions can cascade into a complete misunderstanding of situations.

Idea #563
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Balancing Incentives, Risk and Tolerance of Failure for Collaborative Innovation

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Financial incentives for managers of innovative projects, a firm’s tolerance for failure, and the number of managers involved in the projects all influence resource allocation (and chances for success) for those projects. 

Idea #418
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Balancing Local and Global Efficiency with Anchored Agility

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations
Institutions: IMD

If your organization is struggling to balance local flexibility and global efficiency, it is not the only one; even leading multinationals are facing the problem of managing fixed vs. local needs. According to this Idea, the solution lies in adopting a framework called ‘anchored agility’. 

Idea #247
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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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Beware of Over-Optimistic Investors Skewing High-Risk Stock Prices

Idea posted: September 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance

Investor sentiment has a, sometimes erroneous, effect on stock market valuations. There is evidence that higher risk stocks become overpriced in periods of optimistic sentiment and undervalued when sentiment is pessimistic. Optimism attracts equity investment by unsophisticated, overconfident, retail investors in risky opportunities while such traders are less active in pessimistic periods. Thus sentiment can wrongly influence company share prices, and both investors and CFOs planning financial strategy should be wary.  

Idea #549
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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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Bring Your Own Device to Work: The Pros and Cons for a Multinational

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Rapid advances in communications technology available to consumers has meant that employees often have far greater private access to sophisticated technology than they do in the workplace. Is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - permitting employees to bring personal laptops, tablets, and smart phones to work, and to use their devices to access company information a sensible policy? In theory organizations benefit, in practice this presents many problems. This Idea uses a case study of a particular multi-national organization to see its response to this question. 

Idea #433
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Tada' the Chinese poles, 2004 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Build Ambidextrous Teams to Combine Present and Future Objectives

Idea posted: July 2016
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies separate short-term activities focused on the present (e.g. customer service, marketing) from long-term activities focused on the future (e.g. new product development). A new study, however, reveals the power of ‘ambidextrous’ teams, where cohesion overcomes the challenge of pursuing both present and future objectives.

Idea #613
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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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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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  The Roman Forum, the commercial, cultural, and political centre of the Republic (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Centralized or Decentralized Decision Rights in Multinationals

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

Certain company and country factors determine whether decisions should be centralized at parent company headquarters or decentralized to the foreign subsidiary. Ignoring those factors will hurt parent and subsidiary financial performance. And fixing the inappropriate decision-making structure could prove costly.

Idea #237
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CFO Survey: Most Hit by Hackers Otherwise Optimistic

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

New research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business global survey of CFOs reveals that 80% of companies have been hacked. Small and medium-sized businesses have been the hardest hit. Other results from the CFO survey include expectations of wage hikes and the impact of the strong U.S. dollar on U.S. exports.

Idea #534
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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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John Barrymore as Svengali and Marian Marsh as Trilby, a poster for ‘Svengali’, 1931, produced and distributed by Warner Brothers

Choosing a Venture Capitalist: The Ethical Dimension

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

New and young businesses often depend on equity finance from venture capitalists. This does not, however, mean that they’re indiscriminate in their choice of venture capitalist fund. Recent research suggests that, in certain circumstances at least, entrepreneurs will spurn offers from equity investors who have a poor reputation for ethical behaviour.

Idea #332
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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Choosing the best Corporate Venturing Projects

Idea posted: January 2020
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: IESE Business School

A research study based on more than 120 interviews with chief innovation officers on three continents reveal some of the strategies that increase speed and reduce costs of corporate venturing projects.

Idea #762
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411_World War 2 poster. Wireless operators (Courtesy: BT Archives)

CIOs: Coach and Communicate with C-suite for Digital Innovation

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

European companies are losing innovation opportunities because C-suite executives fail to respond to information technology and digital-related proposals of the CIO and the information technology function of the company, according to a new survey of European companies in three countries. The problem: lack of communication between IT and non-IT leaders.

Idea #573
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John Evelyn discovers sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721). Gibbons became Master Carver in Wood to the Court of King Charles II

Co-creating with Customers: More Pros than Cons?

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Involving customers in the design and delivery of products and services can be a cost-effective way to meet the demand for constant innovation and improved ‘customer experience’. It has, however, the power to destroy as well as create value. Much depends on the human and technological interfaces between customers and the company.

Idea #344
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Overload' by George Pemba, 1989, courtesy Ann Bryant Art Gallery, RSA, www.annbryant.co.za (Source: Wikipaintings)

Collectivism and Consumers at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ in South Africa

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Despite their poverty and limited purchasing power, people at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ in South Africa increasingly attract the attention of marketers. At more than one third of South Africa’s population, they represent a significant, or potentially significant, market for companies. But they will not be ‘reached’ by conventional approaches — or by applying the individualistic perspective of the developed world. At the bottom of the pyramid in South Africa, communities are different — and collectivism still counts. 

Idea #290
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Concept of euro money or cash flow, either positive or negative.

Community Banks Offer a Better Business Logic

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

What can large institutions learn from smaller enterprises such as community banks? According to this Idea, reconnecting with communities in vital and lasting ways is an essential lesson — offering a logic that is the opposite to the ‘financial’ logic that has driven many organizations into difficulties. By reviewing the logic that drives your firm, damaging consequences in the future could be avoided. 

Idea #126
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U.S. Social Security Administration early accounting operations in Baltimore circa 1936 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Computer Says ‘Yes’ – The Impact of IT Investment

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Finance

The impact of information technology on an organization’s profitability can be significant but it needs to be strategically managed, from the top down. View your IT management as a corporate rather than a departmental issue.

The key message for today’s leaders is, choose the right kind of IT projects, spend your money wisely, and focus on growth over cost savings. 

Idea #219
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Corporate Culture: A Key Drivers of a Firm’s Value

Idea posted: January 2017
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

A survey of more than 1300 executives confirms that for most leaders, corporate culture is one of the top five contributors to a firm’s value — and that current CEOs are most responsible for establishing an effective culture.

Idea #641
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A Meeting of the School Trustees, Robert Harris, 1885 (Courtesy: National Gallery of Canada) 

Corporate Governance: The Power of Outside Directors on CEO-Only Boards

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Once packed with company insiders, corporate boards are filling up with outside directors, theoretically resulting in greater independent oversight. New research shows, however, that paradoxically having the CEO as the only insider on the board actually enhances the CEO’s power and undermines outside oversight.

Idea #506
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